Life Isn’t Long Enough For Regrets

For the next few days, I’m in New York for what I have determined will be the concert of a lifetime. My favorite hip-hop group, The Diplomats, is performing in the city that I’ve adopted as my second home. I’ve been rocking with them for over half of my life. I’ve purchased (not stolen but PURCHASED) every album they’ve dropped. I have their apparel. I’m a fan’s fan. But, sadly, every time they’ve been in NC during my adult life, I’ve been out of the country or state. Most recently, I was in Thailand while they did not one but TWO shows in NC. 🤦🏿‍♂️😫
Know what? Tomorrow is not promised and so, in this moment, I decided I would be in NYC this weekend to see them close out the Dipset Forever tour in their hometown. As much as they break up and get back together, who knows which tour will be their last? So here I am, living my best life. I ain’t goin’ back and forth with you… well, y’all know the rest.
Oh, and, while we’re on the subject of being a fan, I couldn’t come to the city without getting a cut at the best barbershop on this side of the ozone layer: The Standard Grooming Company. If you’re in Brooklyn, make sure you rock with them. While all three of the groomers in the spot are exceptional, I sit in the chair of the man who has been cutting my hair for over a decade now, co-owner Vince Jamael. Definitely a fan not only of the work of Vince, Autumn, and Troy, but also love the decor in their spot. Make sure you follow D Squared Visuals on Instagram to see some of the dope shots I’ll be capturing here (I’m writing at the shop as I await my cut) and from around the City.
Ok. Now I have to figure out exactly what I’m doing with my hair. I haven’t gotten a cut since May! Here’s to a great weekend!
Ballin
Make living without regrets a priority.
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Great Beach for Lounging in Paradise

Seminyak, Bali was one of the dopest touristy beaches I’d been to thus far (though Phuket’s beaches were certainly more beautiful). And the town was cool tool. Definitely somewhere I’d recommend going (but make sure you Google “Bali Belly” first).

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It’s Pronounced FOO-KET and It Looks Like…

Went to Phuket. Thought it was pronounced like that thing I say when someone pisses me off. I was wrong.

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Somebody get this man some Winterfresh. His breath is HOT!

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Around the corner from the garden.

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Wipeout!

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What harm have these eyes witnessed?

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What’s the point of a beach if you can’t swim there?

 

Make seeing the world a priority.

As I Sit in Starbucks… 🤦🏿‍♂️

Let’s jump right in.

 

I love and hate the influence that the West, and specifically the United States, has on the world. I love it because I can go anywhere in the world and move around with relative ease. I hate it because I can go anywhere in the world and move around with relative ease. Essentially, it takes away from the experience of feeling truly foreign in a foreign land. I am not a native Swahili or even French speaker who has to lean on a limited understanding of English to communicate while in Japan. I don’t go to Thailand with a strong German accent and struggle to order my scotch on the rocks. I, as a native English speaker, have it easy. And not only about language.

 

Yesterday, Desirée and I went to Good Town Doughnuts in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. While I’m not a fan of American country music, if I were, this would be the place for me because, the entire time we were there, an American country radio station was playing. While all the customers (except the two of us) were Japanese, the decor was quintessential Americana, down to the two flags hanging on the wall (though one was pretty cool in that it had the Holtom peace symbol replacing the stars). Tonight, we sat down for dinner at a Japanese-made beer company’s restaurant and I heard Anita, Stevie, and Diana playing through our meal. And don’t get me started on hip-hop’s impact; I walked into a vintage clothing store on the day we arrived and saw that 90% of the cultural influence came from the 5 boroughs, with a few splashes of NOLA and the West Coast. From De La Soul’s album at the entrance to Dipset’s Supreme photoshoot on the wall, I felt at home.

 

The thing is, I don’t leave the United States to feel at home. And I don’t feel that way all the time but I also know that my discomfort is always temporary. Eventually, I will find someone who will meet me where I am in conversation, whether we’re discussing politics, music or American football (shoutout to Cam Newton, who is the sole reason my barista in Santorini knows where North Carolina is).

 

It is nice to move with ease but doesn’t that take away some of the fun everyone else from around the world gets to have? When everyone speaks English and knows your major notable figures, doesn’t it say something about your own society’s narcissism for knowing very little about their society? This may never change. The U.S. may be this influential until the world ends. But the least we can do is make an effort to meet them halfway, right? I mean, I’ll be honest, I can’t even ask someone where the restroom is in Japanese (and haven’t had to because there is always dual signage). Let’s stop allowing our self-centeredness be what defines us.

 

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Oh yeah… And I’m writing this while sitting in Starbucks because I knew I’d be able to hop on the WiFi with relative ease, which I wasn’t able to do the previous establishment (pictured above) where I needed a Japanese keyboard. See? I knew the comfort would come. Lucky me.

 

 

 

Make researching more than tourist sites before traveling abroad a priority.

Bangkok Culture: A Visual Depiction

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Views more electrifying than the third rail.

 

 

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“The moral is ‘All greats have been driven.'” — Pusha T

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“You call him Dr. Jones, doll!” — Short Round (of Indiana Jones)

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Bowl-ing w/ Buddha…

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Kids after my own heART.

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I got now. I don’t care who got next.

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I dig coconuts but never dated Chanel addicts.

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My kid is probably going to wonder what this is.

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I wonder if Marcus from Boomerang would’ve given these feet a pass.

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My first time trying milk tea and I give it two thumbs up.

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Living with no reservations but getting reserved tables.

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Crazy thing is, one of these monks is from Virginia. He gave up modernity to follow his heart. That is courage.

 

 

You Aren’t In Kansas Anymore

While I am far from happy with the state of American race relations, specifically when it comes to the injustice system, at least I know it. No, I’m not an attorney and I never formally studied the law past certain elective courses that touched on certain legal subjects. What I am, however, is a citizen of my country who knows that, though black men and women are often disenfranchised when it comes to the court system, there are rights we are supposed to have and, if those rights are violated, we can appeal for quite some time (unless, of course, we are murdered by the police, which is also a very real possibility in America).

I digress. I am writing this because, as a learned black man who travels internationally frequently with his black wife, I do my best to keep up with stories across the world. I subscribe to an array of publications from Blavity to Valet Magazine to the New York Times and, in keeping up with articles, both domestic and international, I’ve read about American citizens who have been detained/imprisoned abroad. While it doesn’t happen frequently enough to hit national headlines (unless the offender is one of the Ball boys), Americans are often detained for doing stupid things. And, though I do believe in law and order, I know that 1) punishment should be doled out in an unbiased manner and 2) the punishment should match the crime. But, in some nations, that’s just not the case. Take the case of Wendell Brown, for example. Wendell is a black man whose only crime was defending himself against a Chinese citizen by shoving him. There is a video that completely supports this statement. Now, he is serving a four-year sentence in a Chinese prison. President Trump and his staff have refused to come to this American citizen’s aid. Click here to read more.

As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Have fun, but do so with an awareness that the person who hits you may possess rights that you don’t. Because laws are dynamic, it is impossible to know every law in every nation that you want to visit but know that ignorance of the law is not a defense in most cases. Stay smart. Stay safe.

 

Make staying safe a priority.

 

Turkey Before Thanksgiving

Istanbul, Turkey was an unexpected stop on this trip but it ended up being an awesome experience.

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Eid Mubarak! Ramadan ended and the boys are back to live it up!

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Gotta hit them, hit them angles…

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Streets is watching, two point oh.

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I love to see people who love to do what I love to do.

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Faith is a beautiful thing when it’s relationship-based.

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Amateur tip: Don’t drink Turkish coffee without knowing how to drink it.

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No discussion needed. Just do it. Thanks.

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Like father, like son.

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Orville who?

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Sunset on the southern coast.