The Madness in Memphis

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The Madness in Memphis

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             I ventured to downtown Memphis, along with 18,000 other Memphians, to FedEx Forum. In case you missed everything on local social media, the Memphis Tigers basketball teams were introducing Penny Hardaway. Let’s be real about this. This was all about Penny and I don’t say that as a bad thing at all. Penny has energized the city in a major way. At this point, he should just run for mayor because he would definitely win. Last night was also about courting top recruits as well. #1 recruit James Wiseman was in attendance. You know who wasn’t in attendance? Justin Timberlake and Drake. I think everyone was a bit let down by this but Yo Gotti, Moneybagg Yo and Block Boy JB are very hot artists right now so it’s not a huge letdown, even though a certain sports media guy swore they would be there.

              So how did the Tiger squads look? The lady’s team has some shooters!! Seriously, they have some women that can straight up shoot the rock! I was so impressed by that. As far as the men, I don’t think this will be a national championship year. I do think they have more talent than last year, but they haven’t magically become awesome. I think the expectations are high because of the star power that Penny Hardaway brings. Memphis is a tough town. They demand results. The team will be better.

            The excitement in the city is amazing. Seeing a sellout crowd at the Forum was awesome. When the Tigers are rolling, things just seem to flow better in Memphis. The BBQ tastes better, drinks on Beale have a touch more alcohol, Gibson’s puts a bit more bacon on the maple bacon donut and Jack Pirtles gravy has the right consistency. Memphis becomes Memphis.

Welcome to the Penny Hardaway era. 

Life is for Living,

Michael B.  

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Rape Is Rape....Regardless of Race (An Ode to Bill Cosby)

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           In the wake of the Bill Cosby sentencing, I have been very disturbed and angered by some of the responses I’ve seen on social media. I’ve seen some try to play the race card and compare this case to others who have been accused who are white. I’ve seen lots of victim shaming ranging from the attractiveness of the victim to questioning why she placed herself in that situation. I’ve seen some say it’s a conspiracy from Cosby’s interest in purchasing NBC in 1992. 

          Let’s just cut directly to the chase. Bill Cosby is a rapist. Period. Does it hurt because he played Dr Heathcliffe Huxtable and was the perfect TV Dad? Hell yes it does, but we have to realize that he was acting and Dr Huxtable isn’t real. Is the judicial system tainted and are punishments more severe for people of color? You damn right! The judicial system is definitely flawed, but that’s not what this is about. Have other white men committed terrible acts of violence towards women? Yes, but the “but what about them” excuse is what you would hear from a child not willing to take responsibility. Those who’ve done wrong will have their day. The point is Bill Cosby is a rapist. Point. Blank. Period. He’s serving his time due to his crime. 

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           I was recently asked by someone, “Mike what really is rape?” He went through a couple different scenarios to try to find some gray area to lessen the possibility of rape. I was so pissed by his scenarios and even for asking the question. Im thinking to myself “Im talking to a possible rapist!” I’m a firm believer that if you have to question whether what you’re doing is rape, it’s safe to say you should probably stop because you’re crossing a very thin line. So I broke it down very simply for him. If you put something in her drink so she will have sex with you; it’s rape. If she says no and you proceed; it’s rape. If you have to threaten or use physical force; it’s rape. He said well she went to the hotel room of a married man. So I guess by some weird logic that means she deserves or consented to being drugged and raped. Wrong! I told him he’s the primary reason women and children don’t say anything about being molested or raped. He’s creating scenarios to protect the predator and making the victim responsible for someone else’s actions. 

           I hate this because Bill Cosby reminded me so much of my dad. He was funny, a great father, he was successful, he made you want to go to a historically black college, he gave great life advice. But everyone has a dark side. A side they try to hide. Yes, I know their are more rapist and sexual predators who are white. They will have their day. This is Cosby’s time. We can make any excuses for him. He has to lay in the bed he made. Let’s focus on that and help support victims of sexual predators. We owe them that much. 

 

Life is for Living, 

Michael B

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Body Cam Turned Off Before Police Shooting? That’s Odd.

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Body Cam Turned Off Before Police Shooting? That’s Odd.

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           Late Monday night, I got a message from a friend telling me there was a small protest going on in South Memphis. I was told a police officer shot a young man claiming he had a gun. It’s a narrative we’ve heard so many times before. Sadly, I thought to myself, “I wonder if the kid really had a gun?”. Then I went on Facebook and saw his mother on someone’s live feed. She was demanding answers. She wanted someone to produce a weapon, to see bullet casings, and for her sons hands to be tested for gunpowder residue. This woman clearly has watched enough news and TV to know a little something about this process. 

             I grew up in South Memphis and Westwood. We had cops patrolling constantly. I can’t say I had any great interactions with police as a kid. I remember leaving a corner store after getting the biggest bag of Frooties( basically flavored Tootsie Rolls) and walking my bike home because I broke the chain. I was pissed about the chain because my dad just bought the bike and told me not to let anyone ride it. Well, I let my friend ride it and he broke the chain! A white cop drove by and did a hard turn and ran on the curb in front of me. He asked me where I was going. I said home. He asked if I had stolen the bike. I said no. He said there’s been a kid stealing bikes in the area and someone said it was me. I started crying. He told me I was going to jail. He made me lay in the ground and went through my pockets. At this point, I urinated on myself. One of my neighbors saw this and came over and explained to the officer who I was and how I got the bike. The officer took my $5 bill and my Frooties and left without saying any apologies. I was 10 years old. Had my neighbor not shown up, the officer probably would have tried pinning some crime on me. Again, I was 10 years old.

          Fast forward 25 years. I still have this not so great feeling about police and their practices. When I hear an officer involved shooting, I wonder if the police are being truthful. It’s their word vs yours. A young black male is no match for the police or judicial system. Then a bombshell occurred! Police Director Mike Rallings announced that 3 officers were relieved of duty because their body cameras weren’t activated or were turned off right before the shooting. That’s odd, right? Why would an officer not want this interaction recorded? Why would the only proof the victim have not be available? While this might be shocking to some who grew up away from crime or daily police interaction, this exact situation is sadly normal to a lot of Americans. Cops planting evidence, bogus charges, and an overuse of force are so common in communities of minorities. It’s an accepted reality and there seems to be more and more instances happening.

           I won’t go into why people protest, why citizens don’t trust police, why Colin Kaepernick and other players kneel, or any of that. Those things are brutally obvious especially after this incident. I also don’t think all cops are bad. I just want to leave you with a couple things to think about. Why would a police officer turn off his body camera? Where’s the gun? Why did they shoot the kid in the back? Why should young Black kids trust police? Why don’t “good cops” speak out against the actions of the “bad cops”?  

 

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

           

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5 Things I've Learned About Tinder

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5 Things I've Learned About Tinder

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           Oh Tinder. The app that is a basically a "Hot or Not" for singles near you. After a breakup, a friend encouraged me to try it because he swore he’s had success with it. I'm not very keen to online dating because I feel meeting someone and having a conversation is more ideal to me. Having to sift through photos of people seems very time consuming, but I gave in and gave myself 5 days to discover if I would actually meet someone. Here's what I discovered.  

Is it a Hook up or Dating App? 

           I'm still quite confused on this one. I don't think there's a definitive answer. It's a toss up. I can see it being used to see who's in a location near you that is available, but that could also be used to see who's down to hook up. I think it's person specific, but it's definitely an issue with people because lots of profile read "NOT LOOKING FOR HOOKUPS". I personally wouldn't take it as a serious dating app. Casual encounters maybe. 

Catfishing is alive and well!

          Yeah catfishing is still a thing these days and if you're being catfished in 2018 you kinda deserve to be catfished. New to the concept of catfishing? It's basically a person online that lies about their true identity. There are plenty of spam accounts of women that are just way too perfect or that something just don't seem right. Watch the signs! I swiped right on a woman I actually know only to find out someone had stolen her pics and created a whole account. Then I was super liked by a woman claiming to be a lawyer. I asked where she went to college and she couldn’t tell me. BLOCKED! Also, some women hide behind the head only pictures. I call it body catfishing and it’s way more prevalent. 

A normal conversation is a rare commodity 

They say conversation rules the nation. I've learned that some women are so used to being asked questions and offering the most basic answer that they cant have a real conversation. In a world of “wyd” “good morning” and “how was your day”, it would be nice to have a compelling conversation about aliens or anything. Getting to know a person is a two way street and each have to put in effort. A vast majority of the women I interacted with where some of the most boring women I’ve ever talked to in my life.  

The app is lacking in features and pricey 

I tried Tinder and it's not for me. Besides the people, the app is a bit lacking. You can't send pics within the messenger, which I guess would cut down on the random, unsolicited pics of genitalia. There's also fees associated with the service. $29.99 per month for Tinder Gold, which puts you at the front of the line for a potential boo basically. Kinda steep. 

It’s a weird way to meet people  

Maybe it’s the 80s baby in me or my need for real human interaction, but meeting someone online is super awkward for me. Can you really tell if you’re into a person by simply seeing pics of them? I prefer to be around someone and talk with them. I can instantly tell if I like them or not. Tinder takes that aspect away. Ever go out and meet a tenderoni, get her number and can’t wait to call her? Can’t get that level of feels through Tinder. You’re just stuck waiting to see if they swipe right or read their messages at least once per week. 

 

         Needless to say, I deleted the app. I prefer to old fashioned method of running across a woman at a grocery store or a bar. I’d rather leave it all up to fate. 

Life is for Living,

Michael B

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Why So Mad Bro?

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Why So Mad Bro?

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           Recently Nike made Colin Kapernick one of the faces of its 30th anniversary ad campaign and it seems some people have completely lost their minds because of this. Some are burning their Nike gear or vowing to never buy Nike products again. I have several questions about why this ad has triggered a certain demographic. I don’t think I have to detail exactly what this demographic looks like at this point. 

 Why does this ad really upset you?

         I’ve heard arguments that kneeling during the anthem disrespects the flag, the country and veterans by kneeling during the anthem. How so? I’m a veteran and I don’t find it offensive at all. I wonder how many of these veteran lovers actually served in the military. I also wonder how many have reached out and actually helped veterans in any capacity other than in objection to Kapernick’s protest. Let’s cut the shit, it’s not about the vets. It’s because Kap is black and he should, in the eyes of some, basically be happy he has a job and shut up. 

 Why do you think Nike cares?

Ok you’ve burned your Nike gear because you’re having a temper tantrum. Now what? Nike should be so upset and hurt by your actions, right? Nope! You’ve already bought the Nike gear so they already got your money. You’re burning you’re own money up. If that’s the case, can you please send me some money? I take PayPal, Cash app and Venmo. Seriously, you aren’t hurting Nike in any way. They are a multi billion dollar global company. Burning a few shoes and shorts does nothing to effect their sales.  

Why not donate the discarded Nike gear to veterans? 

Now this question made way too much sense as I asked in my head. These folks love American and the veterans so much and lots of veterans are homeless or living in poverty. Well, why not help those in need? Especially the veterans in need. That seems to be a far better way to release this frustration.  

 

         Let’s not get this twisted. While Nike has definitely made a stance, this is also a business move. Nike is betting on those who want a change and their dollars. It’s already paying off because the NFL released a statement shortly after. The NFL is huge, but Nike has major influence as well. They also supply all NFL uniforms and apparel via a contract. Nike and the NFL will be partners for quite some time.

             For the last time, to those upset about players kneeling, the protest is not about disrespecting the flag or veterans. This is to bring an awareness to social injustices in this country. You don’t have to agree with the way they are choosing to protest, but don’t forget this great country of ours started with a protest.  

Life is for Living,          

Michael B.  

 

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Are Haters Real?

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Are Haters Real?

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           I recently saw a video on YouTube asking this question and I found it very interesting. Are haters really real or are we just personifying our own insecurities? I know right. Mind blown. I would hate to think there are people out there who wake up and think about new ways to destroy you. Well, I guess it is possible if you’ve ever seen the movie Mean Girls. That just seems like such a miserable life. How can you live your own life while also paying so much attention to someone else’s life? Who has that much time? I’m tired just thinking about it. Haters could also be our own fears personified. I know I’ve been my biggest “hater” because I’ve always questioned if my work is any good. I second guess a lot of things about myself and the things that I want to do out of fear. Who do I blame that fear on? Haters mane. But those haters aren’t real and they look and sound like me. 

           So are haters real? Well, yes and no. There  will always be people who don’t like what you’re doing and that will try to impede your flow out of jealousy or just being hateful. These actual people are really your biggest supporters. They watch everything mane! Collect those views fam! On the other hand, we can also be our own nagging hater thinking we aren’t good enough. Getting over yourself can be the hardest thing to do. If you don’t believe you’re good at what you do, then no one else will. Shake those haters off, real and imagined, and be great mane!! Ball until you fall. 

Life is for Living,

Michael B.  

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Just Go Create Something Mane!

 Photo cred: @aleksworks

Photo cred: @aleksworks

          At times I have to motivate and be my own cheerleader, which I think is totally normal. I doubt my work a lot because I feel there are so many other amazing photographers and videographers and I’m on their level. I also have a tendency to remain as modest as possible and I try not to brag.  

          Recently, I've been shooting a lot more video. I'm totally not the best at it but I'm really into creating memories through motion pictures, which all video really is. I have met some amazing videographers like Isaiah Conyers, KC Austin, etc and even a big time Youtuber, Jason Anthony. Each have encouraged me to just go shoot and create something. So I did just that. I took a walk downtown and shot just random clips and created a little short. 

          Even after making that video, I still was hesitant about posting it. I still doubted it. My daughter, Maddy, said it was awesome and that I should. Had she not said that this video would never have seen the light of day. Boy was I glad she said it! I posted it and it went crazy. People were commenting about how cool and beautiful I made Memphis look. It got 25 shares on FB in 1 hour! I had no clue how this random clips would touch people. As of this article, the video has 2.5K views! I’ve never had a video have that many views! 

           Then it hit me. Everyone won't like your work. You can't worry about those people. You have to focus on those giving positive feedback and constructive criticism. Haters aren't really real. Haters are just our own insecurities that we personify. It’s ok to be excited about your work and to be proud of it. We are all capable of amazing things if we can get out of out own way. So go be great and go create mane! 

Life is for Living,

Michael B. 

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Be Your Own Superhero Mane

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Be Your Own Superhero Mane

           I always wanted super powers. I’m pretty sure we all did at some point. Who doesn’t want super strength, the ability to fly, X-ray vision, or to be able to shoot cool things out our eyes? If you’ve never pretended to be a superhero, you might need a redo of childhood. Superheros are awesome, but they also cripple us. They make us dependent on them for our safety and lives. Where would we be without Superman? 

           We lust after their abilities and wish for them so we can change our own realities. What if I told you that everyone already has super powers? Would you believe me? You can totally change your entire life by changing your thinking. Sounds crazy right? I know, but it’s the truth. It starts in the thoughts and things tend to manifest in the physical. You can literally make yourself sick by thinking you’re sick!  

          While you can’t think you can fly and go jump off a building to test your abilities, you can get a pilot’s license and go fly a plane yourself. Being more positive and kind will in turn bring both back to you. Not every day but for the most part. So try something new today and think positive. Be nice to that coworker you don’t care for. Help a person in need. See how your super powers can work for you. 

Life is For Living, 

Michael B.  

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Brunching at Aldo’s

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           Aldo’s Pizza on Main is petty much always in play for my Sunday Funday brunching adventures. They have this amazing cheesecake that I absolutely have to get every Sunday. It’s literally become a thing for me. I decided to go for something other than the cheesecake on this adventure and was pleasantly surprised. 

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          Now Aldo’s doesn’t technically have a brunch menu, but they have a couple items that can be brunchy....Hold up. Is that even a word? Whatever. I went with the shrimp and polenta. What’s polenta? I had the same question as well. The best way I can describe it is polenta and grits are pretty much the same thing expect polenta is made with yellow corn. Polenta is a bit creamier to me than the rougher grits. Trust me, it’s very good. It comes with either a vodka or poblano sauce. I’m fancy so I get both! Pair it with a mimosa or a their house made Limoncello and you’re brunch goes to another level! 

Life is for Living,

Michael B.  

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Road Trippin’!!!

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Road Trippin’!!!

          It’s been so long since I’ve been on a road trip! There’s nothing like packing up the car with friends and snacks and hitting the road. I was recently headed to South Carolina to do a shoot for a hotel, so I decided to make the road trip a part of the whole experience. I recruited the super, crazy dope Kim Thomas to tag along and we hit the road. Our plan was to hit the Smoky Mountains and explore a bit before arriving at our destination. Things didn’t go exactly to plan, but we have a great time either way!

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           First stop on the trip was Nashville. I know I have my little beef with the state capital, but I will at least say the city is very clean. I think eating off the ground isn't frowned upon at all in Nashville. The streets are literally that clean. Seriously, Memphis take some notes. Nashville also has an amazing skyline that’s even more impressive at night. Take more notes Memphis. Ok that’s about all the nice things I have to say about Nashville. That took a lot out of me. 

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           While in Nashville, I had to try some of this Nashville hot chicken that I’ve heard so much about. Hattie B’s recently opened a restaurant in Memphis that is ok but not great. I heard Prince’s chicken was way better, so we decided to give the a try. I will have a full review coming soon, but just know it was better than Hattie B’s. 

          We spent way longer in Nashville than we should have. I swore it was only an hour but we actually spent 3 whole hours there! We were totally off schedule for our Smoky Mountains plans. I really wanted the opportunity, so I might have gone a tad over the speed limit. Just a tad. Lol. We cruised into Knoxville and started to see those mountains we came for.  I was once told the Smokies weren’t mountains, but just big hills. Well when you’re from Memphis and you don’t have any mountains, big hills count! I really wanted to fly the drone but it’s illegal in national parks. I normally would do it anyways, but I didn’t want any issues in East Tennessee. 

           The plan was to go up a mountain and get a dope portrait. Well, things went from exciting to scary really quick. We go up a road and it goes from two lanes to 1 then just a narrow path. Keep in mind there are houses scattered all along this road. We went so far up that we both got scared because we were literally on the edge of the mountain with very little room for the car. We got out and took the pics we could. 

            We had to wrap up early because we both kept hearing some very strange noises in the trees. We are both city folk and any noise outside of dogs barking, ambulances and planes flying will spook the hell out of us. We jumped in the car and got off that mountain as fast as possible! 

            We arrived at the hotel late that night. I was so happy to finally arrive! What was supposed to be an 8 hour drive turned into 11 and a half! Needless to say, we were both beyond tired. But not too tired to take some bomb pics! Check out that lobby!!! 

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          This wraps up the first leg of the road trip. Stay tuned for more updates and the actual hotel stay itself.  

Life is for Living,

Michael B.  

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The Return to Crosstown

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The Return to Crosstown

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           After a lengthy hiatus, Maddy the Great and I returned to Crosstown! We were greeted by many well wishers and there was a ceremony in our honor welcoming us back. You totally had to be there. Ok, no one knew who the heck we were, but we walked in there like we owned the place! You gotta stunt on them every now and then so they remember who they are dealing with. 

             So why the hiatus? Well, Crosstown lost its flavor. I remember being one of the first to shoot in Crosstown and it was awesome, but then everybody started shooting in Crosstown. I mean everybody! Everyone’s work looked exactly the same and I’m no fan of being similar to other photogs. Every kid with a basic Canon or Nikon with a kit lens was doing $35 photoshoots there. I hate to be the old man, but it just really sucked. So we bounced to find other places to shoot.   

          What brought us back? Well those same kids with their T5s and D3300s have lost that same passion as well. It was also a pretty day out and Maddy loves the central atrium. I pretty much have no say so. If she wants to go, then we are going. So we brought the a7iii and one lens; the trusty Samyang 35mm f1.4. Here’s what we got! 

            I’m not sure if we will be coming back as regularly as we did before, but we really enjoyed it. Brought back lots of memories. I definitely remember what brought so many photographers to the building; that amazing natural light!! 

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

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$25 For A Medium Pizza!!

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$25 For A Medium Pizza!!

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            See that pizza up there? Yeah, that one. Looks delicious, right? Would you pay $25 for a medium pizza? Yeah me neither, but I somehow managed to. How? Well, here we go. 

            I took the day off from work to hang with Maddy the Great. We went to see Hotel Translyvania 3 and decided to grab a bite to eat. I always look for local establishments first and decided on Broadway Pizza. I’ve had Broadway pizza years ago, so I was kinda excited to have it again. I ordered a half cheese half, Broadway Special along with 2 sodas. We finished and received our bill.  $32.23  

             There had to be some mistake. This couldn’t have been my bill. I had a medium pizza and 2 sodas! I look over the receipt and see the horrible news. This pizza costs $25! This pizza was in no way worth $25. I won’t go into how the crust tasted frozen and the toppings just slide right off with each bite. Heck sodas at $2.25 each is a tad excessive. I could have bought a couple 2 liters or a shopping cart full of Faygos! 

           I feel like I was gotten over on, played and pimped. For the first time ever, I wished I hadn’t eaten local. I’m already not a huge fan of pizza and this one was surely not the best I’ve ever had. Granted it wasn’t the worst, but it definitely wasn’t worth $25. $25 for a medium pizza. Geesh.   

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Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

              

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