American Conversations: But, I’m a Product of my Environment…

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i ran across this conversation on one of my friends fb pages… and had to repost it- unedited. *names have been changed to protect identities (lol).*
andre initially asks the following question (via his status update):
If I’m a product of my environment and my subsequent conditioned behavior unconstructively contributes to society, which then directly effects my environment… where and how does the cycle end??
melody: the chicken came before the egg
anisha: when you make the conscious effort to end it.
andre: So what’s the origin of the conception of the chicken? Is society to blame or am I as an individual to blame for my contributions?
If you’ve always only known how to write with your right hand, how quickly and to what level of efficiency can you learn to write with your left?
franchesca: depends on how much u really wanna learn to write with ya left hand…
the cycle ends when YOU decide to let it end…
amerie: I agree that it is a matter of the amount of determination that the individual has to change. Doesn’t the saying go, so a man thinketh so is he..
andre: What if an individuals attempts to reform and break from their environment’s cycle are in vein, as the recipient(s) of the reformation have also been conditioned by society? Although their conditioning may be slightly altered, the recipients then act as entities of society that force the motion of the cycle.
So if you have two groups within an environment that have both been conditioned and are increasingly consumed by an opportunistic cycle with each passing day and experience, unknowingly implementing that learned knowledge to antagonize the progression of breaking both cycles AND the single cycle that is thus created… where or how does the cycle end??
franchesca: the individuals attempts will be in vein ONLY if he gives up and decides not to pursue the desired end. IT still would be the recipients choice 2 ACT as he has been conditioned by his society. Maybe the recipient needs to change the society he’s finds himself in then.
again both individuals must decide n want to break the cycle
amerie: I still think that it is an individuals choice. Even for those on the receiving end. If each person makes a conscious decision to live by a certain code of ethic, then even the altered conditioning of society won’t take over. You have to deny yourself daily to be become who you are suppose to be.
kenya: I was once a believer that we as “Americans” have the same opportunities to achieve at the same magnitude of our peers if we were determined to do so. I can say that I feel as though I fully used the resources that were given to me to my advantage to become a young college graduate working for a fortune 10 company. Does that mean I was more determined than the next man; or that I had the knowledge and guidance from those around me, to know the resources I had at my finger tips, and how to use them. Sometimes it’s not the lack of determination of a person that keeps them trapped, but the unawareness and the ignorance around them that keeps them there.
andre: A single individual cannot break the complete cycle that effects their environment, the individual can only attempt to change themselves. Furthermore, a single individual can change the environment they’re in but cannot change the society of which they exist. If their society directly effects their environment then the new environment will only be a deviation of the original.
Could it be that there is no correct answer, our minds were not created to fathom the intricacy of the synopsis, or that complete reformation is simply too late for our society?

nicole: Indeed a single individual cannot alone break the cycle. Instead, it will only change as a result of a combined effort of many in the society. Let us not forget, though, that society is made up of individuals and institutions. If many individuals decide they want to change the cycle (and actually make efforts toward that goal *KEY*), then, and only then, will they be able to also change the institutions that construct the societal norms.
andre: I agree completely. My only fear is that our society is no longer cohesive enough to make such a change as a unit. This misfortune leaves individuals who comprise the society to ask questions such as the one originally presented. I suppose the only true resolution is the unity of actively reformed individuals from each of the two groups. However, the reformation must be continuous within each individual, otherwise they will once again fall victim to the cycle. Tsk tsk
nicole: agreed. Enjoyed this conversation… Great thoughts.
_____________________
what i enjoyed most about the conversation was the fact that each individual knew exactly what the true nature of the discussion was… they knew who, or what group they were specifically conferring, but conversed in such a way that would not make one who was, let’s say, not within the (knowing) group become defensive– which would in turn takeaway from the progression that is clearly trying to be made… furthermore, this is a perfect example of “our” daily conversations, we, americans, are still fighting to break an “institution” a “conditioning” that has been so deeply ingrained within our culture, fighting a mindset that was strategically placed there for centuries upon centuries by… well, by our oppressors. . . and now some ex-oppressors and some of the lineage of the oppressed perpetuate behaviors that do our country, our world, a disservice…
we must change one by one… discuss. ask questions. and diversify yourself as a being.

via The Urban Gentleman II

Writing Your Thoughts: Moleskine Notebooks, Mini Sketchbooks

Internet, ipod, tv, videos, movies, parties, work, blackberry, cell phone, computer, internet, ipod, tv, favorite show at 9, wanted to see that new video, party on Saturday, pandora, twitter, facebook, youtube, myspace, ybf, perez hilton, tmz, limewire to download the new mixtape… its like we’re caught in a matrix sometimes, where we let electronics and the media completely rule our lives. Everyday, or every other day, or if you’re That busy, atleast once week take the time to unplug yourself from the world.

For my creative types, well, I know that you often have So many thoughts running through your head and the noise (tv, ipods, blackberries) around you makes it hard to catch those thoughts. I suggest a simple moleskine notebook. I initially carried mine around because it was a requirement for one of my drawing classes, but that class ended last year and I still continue to use it. Magazine tears, quotes, ideas and just plain scribbles, there’s alot of random things in my book. Plus, its nice to look back on what you were thinking on a particular day or what inspired you at a particular moment.

one of the pages from my notebook. this particular notebook isn’t the brand
moleskine instead its a mini hard bound sketchbook by art alternatives…

Now I know blogs and online journals have replaced the need to carry around little notebooks, but there’s still that special something about having a tangible book (one perk is that it even works when your Internet or computer are having issues.)

Moleskine now offers a collection of “city notebooks” that has maps, addresses, and tips for specific cities- (New York, LA, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Madrid, Stockholm, Toronto, Vancouver, and just many many more). They are Perfect for traveling!


I really like the Moleskine cahiers because they’re really light and are super easy to carry around. I would use these to take notes in my patternmaking and sewing classes.


You can purchase moleskines at your local book store, art store, or at the urbangent store.

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The Dandy: Self-made, Well-dressed, Well-mannered, and Traditional or Flamboyant.

Dandy. When I hear that word a slew of things come to mind, a few of them being: the phrase “well, isn’t that just dandy”, the image of a flamboyantly dressed gentleman somewhere in Europe, the childhood song “Yankee Doodle”, the book “Great Gatsby”, and a few stylish men- one being Fonzworth Bentley.
Though I’ve learned about dandies here and there throughout life, I’ve never just sat down and researched dandies and dandyism myself. So, I decided to, and this is what I found…

(pictured left, the first dandy George Brummel)

According to Webster:

Main Entry: 1dan·dy
Pronunciation: \ˈdan-dē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural dandies
Etymology: probably short for jack-a-dandy, from 1jack + a (of) + dandy (origin unknown)
Date: circa 1780
1 : a man who gives exaggerated attention to personal appearance
2 : something excellent in its class
So basically, a dandy is indeed a well-dressed man. To go further he is, “a man who places, particular importance or physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies.” The history of the dandy is rather interesting, being that he’s often defined in several ways:

1. a self-made person, who rejected bourgeois values, adapting a carefree, indolent lifestyle while emulating aristocracy

2. a person of middle class background, who imitated aristocratic style

-or simply-

3. a refined, elegant man

I find that, historically, most dandies were either very wealthy or middle class. The wealthy ones would dress extravagantly and were either flanuers- men who wanted to quintessentially experience life and observe beauty and art -OR- men who played many games (billiards, hunting, etc), lived at the cafes, dined at the inns, and were seemingly idle. The middle class dandies were often men who were innately stylish, causing them to be fawned over by the aristocrats, and their elegance and style made them extremely influential in their societies.

A famous dandy, Baudelaire, commented that the dandies had “no profession other than elegance…no other status but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons….The dandy must aspire to be sublime without interruption; he must live and sleep before a mirror.”

So elegance is his job? Hmmm… let’s have a closer look into “dandyism”.
(excerpt from thedandy.org)

“Dandyism was born “officially” in the early 1800′s. At this time there was a lot of change going on politically [the French had recently made their king a bit shorter- by a head], and socially as England was quickly surpassing France as the major cultural influence in Europe and America. What happened in short was this. A young man whose name was George Bryan Brummel, the son of a undersecretary made friends with the Prince Regent, and became one of the most influential, and even powerful men in the nation, not by his birthright, or education, or military prowess, or scholastic accomplishment…but by being well dressed.
George made quite an impression on English society, and caused many powerful people to abandon their gaudy Baroque-ish outfits and adopt Mr. Brummel’s clean, elegant, simple toned manner of dressing. George Brummel’s perfection of style gained him access to the highest of English society: the Dandy was born. The Dandy was a gentleman first, any other title HAD to come second. The fact that he was of noble blood of any rank, whose job had traditionally been to dress well as a sign of social standing, could be an obstacle to being a Dandy if he relied on his title, and not his style. Thus any gentleman through a command of the dress and manners of good society, could gain access to the social influence of the aristocracy. Thus, an aristocrat could only be a Dandy if his pride was his appearance and manners, not this title. Nor could a nobleman of any rank be a Dandy if he dropped in his title in conversation in order to impress, or took more pride in his heritage than his style. If ever he relied on his title, he lost his Dandyhood. This new standard had a dramatic effect on the English landscape, and wasn’t long before heading across the channel to France. We’ll stop with the history, and explain a bit more about the characteristics.
A Dandy pursed elegance, it was his ultimate and unique goal. Everything he did was designed to make his social presentation more elegant, thus great care had to be taken not to appear too extravagant in his dress, and of course never slovenly. A Dandy was also not a man who wares flamboyant clothing. His outfits are designed to please and add elegance and swagger to his presentation; not make him stand out a mile away, so Oscar Wilde was NOT a Dandy- in the strict definition of the term.
Oscar Wilde is not a traditional dandy

This trend of using elegant dress to influence people, while not being a novel one, nevertheless was an important one, because as there were Macaronis, Hell rakes, Fops, and other sorts of fancy figures in the history of Europe and America, they never were able to cross that line into real social power unless they had been born there. The Dandy was the first. This meant that as the 19th Century progressed, it was not a narrow aristocracy of birth that ran society, but a collection of well dressed, well mannered gentlemen who all obeyed the same set of rules, and for whom- any of whom, regardless of birth, to break the rules of etiquette, meant banishment form society. Influence and power was based around being well bred, not of noble birth… [The] Dandy is a man whose pursuit of elegance, in matters of dress, manners, and speech gains him a respect that nothing else can give. “

So flamboyant doesn’t define a dandy at all, not the original dandy anyway. Using one’s style and speech to achieve social status… that’s an everyday thing in this century, though many fail with their pedestrian attempts. But still, this isn’t far-fetched… there are a ton of phrases that emulate this way of thinking, “Dress for the job you want” “Dress for success”. There are many versions of those phrases, and I’d have to agree with them all for the most part. Your appearance is important, they say people make their first impression within three-seven seconds of meeting a person. It sorta sux that people judge so quickly, but that’s life… and three to seven seconds isn’t enough time to carry out an intellectual conversation, but if you look good then you’re off to a nice start. ( this is random, but Will Smith’s movie, Six Degrees of Seperation comes to mind)

Okay, so we’ve covered the definition, history, and modern adaptions of dandy philosophy, now I think it’s appropriate to figure out who the modern day dandies are.

Alright, so I did a well-rounded best-dressed list back in June 2008 that included- Kanye West, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Pharrell Williams, Andre Benjamin, Fonzworth Bentley, Johnny Depp, etc. And I think all of these guys could possibly be dandies, depending on the definition given. But obviously everyone can’t be a dandy… here’s my dandy check-list:

A dandy must:

1. place importance on being well-dressed
2. be well-mannered and elegant in speech and living -OR- be flamboyant in his “acts” of elegance.

I think there are two types of dandies: the traditional dandy and flamboyant dandy or maybe I should say the intrinsic dandy and the extrinsic dandy. I find that many people these days are moreso extrinsically dandy than intrinsically dandy, either one is okay, but I have a preference for those who are intrinsically dandy.

Fonzworth Bentley is indeed a dandy

Okay, so if I had to categorize the gents of today, then who would be what… well from the best-dressed list two guys instantly stand out- Kanye and Fonzworth. These are the main two guys from the list that I feel places great importance on being very well-dressed, and from those two I’d have to say Fonzworth Bentley is the intrinsic dandy, while Kanye West is an extrinsic dandy. Mr.Bentley doesn’t over do it, he doesn’t wear “loud clothing” or proclaims himself best-dressed, atleast I don’t think he does. And he, much like George Brummel and other traditional dandies, wasn’t born into an elite family, but rather found favor with the wealthy elite because of his style and mannerisms. Bentley was a maître d at a New York restaurant and was “discovered” by Diddy… the rest of the story you know. Mr. West on the other hand, though I love his style, he can often go overboard and places Too much emphasis on designer labels, when that is Not what style is about. The perfect example of the two types would be Kanye’s emphasis trip to Paris earlier this year


I honestly think it’s hard to place celebrities in one of the dandy categories because many of them dress nice, ONLY because of their fame. It’s hard to figure out who just has “it” and would still have “it” if they were working a regular 9-5. For that reason, I feel photographers, writers, artist and such are better people to give such a title too. Scott Schuman, the Sartorialist himself, is a given traditional dandy to me… he observes people, beauty, style and (from what I can tell) is an intrinsically elegant man. I’m sure many of you have atleast one person in mind that could be either of the two types of dandies….

Scott the Sartorialist

It’s easier for me to group celebrities of the past as dandies… Fred Astaire is often categorized as a dandy, I think the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford) were dandies of their time, I’d have to be candid and say a good amount people of color in entertainment in the 50s, 60s, were intrinsic dandies- being extremely elegant was the only way many of them would even be given the opportunity to entertain despite their musical genuis (so Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, etc etc).

Rat Pack
Nat King Cole

Fred Astaire

Perhaps in a decade or so we’ll look back and call Michael Jackson a sort of dandy- who knows… I think dandyism is still very much in play today, it’s just a little harder to point out. Who would you all consider a (modern) dandy?

Andre Benjamin... I’d call him a southern dandy

sources: mytholoke.com, thedandy.org

Michael Jackson : THE American Idol

Certain events in life happen so expeditiously that they seem, fake. You actually, like actually, have to pinch yourself and confirm it with the people around you to make sure its real. It happened once this year when Barack Obama became our greatest President and it happened to me, again…. a few minutes ago.

Michael Jackson at the (young) age of 50 is no longer living.

Even as I type that, I don’t believe it. To be honest I haven’t even accepted the fact that Bernie Mac has passed- I know that’s random, but I seriously have not– because I see him everyday on tvs and in movies and… idk, it just doesn’t seem real, but back to Michael.

Though he has been controversial in the media within the past decade- I still reverenced him as the king. The king of music, the king of dance, the king of pop. There is no one on Earth who is more well-known than Michael. There is no one on Earth that has had a greater influence on this century than Michael Jackson. Some may laugh at that truth, but its real… My mother is one of his biggest fans and I’ve always loved MJ. His slow destruction began with the bantering of his father, he would constantly poke fun at his appearance and say that Michael had, “a big nose, and bad skin,” not to mention the unintended pressures of a few big brothers here and there. Words are powerful- they can (for some) cut deep and they can linger in one’s mind causing a person to change overtime… so for our beloved MJ that meant a nose job, some facial restructuring, and then because no doctor would turn down the king of pop his need for plastic surgery became over indulgent and I know that that, even if not specifically, played a role in his death. Oooo death- that word hurts… Michael Jackson and death… they just don’t belong in the same sentence. Oh, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they (his family) caused his death, but that stuff crossed my mind and I just think that’s where the psychological issues stemmed from thus causing Michael to often act bizarre and what not. (Most people’s psychological issues stem from childhood). (He specifically died from cardiac arrest)

Anyway…. I just want to say that Micheal, I LOVE you, no matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone will say- you will ALWAYS be number 1.

A tribute to the King of the World












Some of my favorite MJ. Rest In Peace.

My FAVORITE Jackson Song

MJ Greatest Dance Moves

I wish there was an official video for PYT- Pretty Young Thang… looooooove that song.

One Year Ago…

It’s been a year since The Urban Gentleman first hit the scene… and I honestly can’t believe it, time really does fly! I put out my first article on June 10th, but I got my first “big break” (well it was more of a little break) on June 23rd when I got a shout-out on lupethefiasco.blogspot.com. They mentioned my “Lupe Style: The Style of Lupe Fiasco” article… and that’s when the buzz slowly started to grow.

Then about a month or so after that my blog slowly began to rise as one of the top male fashion blogs… its hard to believe that I went from having 4 or 5 random readers to thousands each day– that’s alot of pressure. But you all have supported me the whole way and I adore you for it. I wanted to go through all the old emails to give specific names of people who have supported since the beginning, but I realized that would take forever and I have a ton of emails that I haven’t even read and need to reply back to… the few I can think of of the top of my head- Alija Harrison (one of the original die hard fans, he even wrote a couple articles), Leslie Garry, Andre Tisch, Ashley Lee, my avid young urban gent readers like Herbert Murray, my newer hardcore fans like Antonio, and of course all the editors of magazines who have sent me stuff (GQ, Details, Men’s Vogue, etc)… I just want to send out my sincerest gratitude to each person who has supported and told others about The Urban Gentleman- you’re really awesome! Oh and I can’t forget to thank those who have done articles about me or The Urban Gentleman (like this one).

The Urban Gentleman is continually growing, we’ll remix some things this year, and maybe introduce some new features (who knows)… there’s just sooooo much more to come (eventually) and I just hope you guys stick around to see :)

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