HermannM

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Man Behind the Man

In Interesting, Lifestyle on June 29, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a step or two in his shoes. I agree with Alfred Edmonds of Black Enterprise magazine.  Michael died but Joseph Jackson is still alive. A true test of our sincerity might be to honor, in life, his contributions to America’s cultural fabric.

Joseph’s parents separated when he was young. He went to live with his father, however, upon attaining the age of 18, he left Oakland CA to be closer to his mother. I can’t imagine what it might have been like to have been raised by a single father in the 1940s. Maybe we’ll never know because people didn’t talk about “certain things” back then. Without proof or direct knowledge, I suspect that he was an abuse survivor but he persevered nevertheless.

After failed careers, first as a boxer then singer, he found work in Gary, Indiana operating a crane at the local steel mill. Despite a lifetime of setbacks, he kept going and held on to the American dream of achieving more for his kids than anyone had achieved for him.  From this foundation, Joseph Jackson ignited an empire.

Don’t judge him the way you would Matthew Knowles or Clive Davis. He had none of their advantages, except maybe a bigger dream, more courage and a tolerance for risk. He was black, poor & uneducated but figured out the music business and deciphered America’s racial hypocrisy. At a time when we were still trying to overcome, he out-produced, over-delivered, out-performed, out-negotiated and over-achieved. He did it all with neither a roadmap for success nor a support net to catch him if he fell.

The complexities of Michael’s affairs are tremendous. There are musical assets to consider, some his own, some acquired, some inherited. There are debts to be paid and children to be cared for.  For the most part, Joseph had been shut out of Michael’s life and it appears he’ll be shut out of Michael’s death as well. He was once head of household and head of an empire. The career in music was his dream and now, after Berry Gordy, Motown, CBS, MTV, Sony and countless others have benefitted from that dream, he is looking for affirmation as the seed from which so many successes were birthed. Surely we can empathize with Joseph’s loneliness at this time.

I listened to the press conference today and the BET interview yesterday; my initial thoughts were that of an opportunist. Having had time to reconsider, a different vision comes to mind.  I see a man striving to be recognized for his accomplishments, striving to become relevant again, striving to regain the dignity that so often eludes African American men born before desegregation.

If the announcement of a record company is the vehicle that gives him this, then so be it. Joseph Jackson dragged a family from working class beginnings to world class status.  His attempt, however feeble, to shepherd next chapter of the Jackson legacy via the promotion of a record company, clothing line or other venture for wealth creation, is nothing more than a cry for attention and approval. He played more than a minor role in Michael and the family’s success. I would go so far as to say he has accomplished more in his lifetime than most of us ever will. For this, we need to show deference.

Did he make mistakes along the way, sure. He made a lot of mistakes… he pushed to hard, he controlled too much, he allowed his faults to cloud judgments, he considered the feelings of others too little, he let his drive be the driver at the expense of all else. And he paid and continues to pay for those and many other mistakes.  But who amongst us is perfect? Joseph is in his final years. He is in mourning, he doesn’t hear well, he has a gargantuan sense of pride and he is currently the face of the family. Lets give him a break. If this promotion turns out to be a freak show, so what. Since when have we been above participating in a freak show.

If we are to sincerely and honestly honor Michael, lets demonstrate respect for his legacy, his privacy, his family and his father.

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It was important for me to write this post because my relationship with my father is not unlike that of Michael’s with Joseph.  Despite irreconcilable strains, I haven’t lost sight of his influence on my values, my work ethic, my outlook, development and sensibilities. While I accept that our relationship may never improve beyond its current state, I would hope that his dignity be a reflection of the mountain of good he accomplished in life.

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Confessions of a Brand Manager

In Business, Interesting, Marketing on June 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm

My name is Brandy and I go to bars.

If I meet a good looking guy and he buys me a drink, I’ll talk to him. To keep him interested, I may let him stare at my boobs, though not for too long. After all, I am not a common floozy, I am, what one might call, an “uncommon courtesan.” I want to be caught, but you gotta chase me to catch me. Guys usually ask for my number, which I readily give. The ones who call always get a first date. If it goes well and he escorts me home, he’ll get a hershey’s kiss goodnight. On a second date, maybe he gets more… it all depends on how krafty he is and how frisky I feel.

Meanwhile, back at the bar are the floozies who’ll take home any stray who buys them a drink. At 11:00 pm, they act just like me, letting guys stare at their boobs. Men can be such silly rabbits, sometimes. But from then on, this is where we differ. By 12:30 am, those girls usually up the ante by getting closer and bending over with increasing frequency. I mean c’mon, how many times can you drop your fork, kleenex or lip gloss? But it happens.  If they are still at the bar an hour later, they’ll inject sexual overtones into the conversation. By then the guys get the message. The 1:50 am “last call” is a bar hopper’s universal cue for him to settle the tab while she decides “your place or mine.”

The next night, courtesans and the floozies, we’re both back at the bar. The difference is that I may be getting together with one of the guys from a previous night for a first or second date. They, on the other hand, end up playing musical barstools to attract the attention of guys with whom they’ve not yet “tickled the ivories.” But it works. I’m looking to be in a relationship that is stable, has depth and offers some long term potential. They’re engaged in transactions, which are usually manageable, incredibly predictable and sometimes electrifying.

An interesting phenomena, of late, has been the influx of guys who show up at the bar at 1:00 am or so. It started with the work-a-holics who finished a hard days work at a law firm or investment bank. They came into the bar to yo-plait with some girls in search of hidden treasures. Their presence attracted more common girls to the bar and converted a few of us uncommon girls to their cause (present company included, what can I say?). The bar’s reputation for its bounty of “easy ass” quickly spread; very soon, every Tom, Dick, Harry & Oscar Mayer started showing up an hour before closing for a little shake-n-bake.

The worse part of it all was the loss of the really nice guys. The ones who used to buy me drinks, pamper my ego, ask for my number and take me out… stopped coming around.  I went from being full time uncommon to part-time uncommon. But then I transformed to  full-time common status and I was workin’ it. In the beginning, I met great guys and we had a lot of great chex. Everything was nice ‘n easy so I didn’t complain. But that situation has diminishing marginal returns. The guys at the bar now are getting lucky without much charm; they are there for one reason and the situation now is downright indecent. From a birdseye view, even Governor Paterson can see that every conversation leads to a bisquick and dirty transaction. If I am ever going to find a man with whom I can build a life, I am going to have to be bold and change the tide. What I need is a fresh start.

The nesquick answer would be to find a new bar but that is probably a short term solution. The story of this bar is the story of all bars.  For an uncommon prize, such as myself, to meet a guy who:

  • values what I have to offer
  • is decent
  • is stable
  • is loyal
  • wants to be in a relationship

I am going to have to try something else.  I believe in true Luvs and I haven’t lost hope. Even Professor Herm is working on a project to help me build stronger relationships and get away from a transactional love life. In the meantime, I’m still hanging out at bars and I’m very easy to find.

My name is Brand Manager (friends call me Brandy) and my favorite bars are called Catalina, Coupons, Valassis and SmartSource. Hmmmmm.

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