Disconnect: My 9/11 Story

The relationship between our perception of the passage of time and our age is something that I’ve never been quite able to grasp. I mean, while I know that one second in 1991 and one second in 2011 are supposed to be the exact same amount of time, my mind somehow convinces me that they’re unequal, and I’m not sure why it does this.

For instance, I’m 32 years old. On Sept. 12, 2001, I was 22. 10 years before that — Sept. 12, 1991 — I was 12. When I was 22, it seemed like there was an eon of distance between my age then and me being 12. It may have only been 10 years, but being 12 or 13 or even 16  seemed so foreign and distant to me that it felt like my teens happened an entire lifetime ago.

Now, though, the distance between 22 and 32 seems much, much, much smaller. I remember everything about being 22. I remember what my apartment smelled like (Guardsman, Curve, bbq sauce, sneakers, and condoms). I remember the color of my roommate’s girlfriend’s hair, and I remember trying to find a subtle way to ask him if that was her natural color. I remember exactly how I felt when first learning I’d been betrayed by two of my closest friends. I remember riding to some party with my boy and seeing the face he made as he listened to Eminem’s verse on “Renegade” for the first time. (Any diehard hip-hop fan knows this face. It’s the exaggerated squint/”I just smelled the worst smell on Earth” combo face you make when first hearing an outstanding verse. It’s almost like you can’t believe what you’re hearing.)

I’m bringing this up because of the psychological disconnect currently going on in my head regarding the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years already because I (think I) remember everything about that day.

I remember my roommate waking me up to tell me that a plane flew into the World Trade Center, and I remember my half-lucid response. (“N*gga, stop playin. I’m still not letting you hold my watch.“)

I remember the shared collective consciousness of everyone on campus. (People use always use “surreal” to describe this feeling, but to me the best way to explain it was that it seemed like we were all extras in the same movie.)

I remember not wanting to talk or even think about anything other than what the hell was happening.

I remember not being able to reach my parents until early in the afternoon, and manufacturing anxiety even though I knew they were probably just home, watching the news like I was.

I remember that the two or three people I knew who were actually able to get service on their cell phones became rock stars that day.

I remember wondering exactly how “big” this was going to get. How many planes were hijacked? 4? 10? 24?  How long would this continue to go on?

I remember watching CNN and trying to put myself in the shoes of a person near Ground Zero¹ to try to imagine the fear they must have been feeling. I also remember failing at this, becoming annoyed with myself for not being able to produce that level of empathy, and then wondering whether the people around me who seemed completely distraught were genuine or if they were hysterical because they felt that the moment called for hysterics.

But, despite the fact that 9/11 almost seems like it happened 10 months ago instead of 10 years ago, it doesn’t feel that way. The memories are still vivid, so you’d think that when watching a 9/11 related news story or tribute or memorial with footage from that day interspersed, the same feelings I felt that day would come back. But, although I remember how I felt, I can’t reproduce those feelings. I watch the 9/11 footage now, gripped and transfixed by the imagery and the sounds the fact that I remember seeing much of this before, but surprisingly unmoved.

It’s almost as if my heart is outsmarting my brain, convincing me that it’s useless to actually feel the feelings associated with those memories; emotionally downgrading 9/11 from “an event that left everyone shook in some way” to “an especially intense thing that happened on TV a decade or so ago” — really no different than the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.”²

I think I understand why my mind does this. While remembering important events helps us make judgements, decisions, and predictions, continuing to go through the emotional rollercoasters associated with those events would probably make us insane. Still, while watching a few of these tributes last weekend and seeing the tears roll down the eyes of people in attendance, I wonder if I’ve gone too far, if becoming as emotionally detached as I seem to be is dangerous. Hmm. Maybe I’ll figure it out by 2021. Seems like a while to wait for an answer, but if the last ten years are any indication, it should be right around the corner.

That’s enough from me today. People of VSB.com, what are your 9/11 stories? How did it make you feel, and how much of a disconnect is there between how it made you feel then and how it makes you feel today?

¹It’s also interesting how my mind continues to think of 9/11 as just a NYC event, even though I’m very aware of what happened at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA — a city maybe 60 minutes away from where I’m sitting right now.
²I didn’t say this in the entry, but I do also realize that if I personally lost a loved one that day  (or even was in NYC or the Pentagon or Somerset County) my feelings about this would probably be much, much different. And, for those who did actually lose someone, I don’t mean to be flippant or minimize any pain you might be feeling.

—The Champ

Marvin’s Room and the Rise of the Open-Air Emo Negro


I realize that Drake’s song “Marvin’s Room” came out a few months ago. However, it still manages to get airplay on the radio stations here in Washington, DC, and every time it comes on I’m compelled to listen to it. Mostly because this song flies in the face of pretty much everything you’re taught at Man School. But even worse than that, this song is the exact same sh*t that Bill Cosby got in trouble for some years ago when he called out Black folks. Dyson was all over his back on that one. Where are you now Mr. Michael Eric Dyson when Drake is throwing your manhood under the bus?

Damn wheelchair academics.

What do I mean by this being the equivalent of Bill Cosby’s now famous “pound cake” speech heard ’round the world? Well, Cosby was basically accused of airing dirty laundry. It’s not that what he was saying was wrong, it’s just that he (allegedly) shouldn’t be out there saying it publicly – a point I fervently disagreed with. In fact, he said it at Howard University at a UNCF function if memory serves correct. In truth, dude was talking to the very people he needed to be talking to. Anyway, back to Drake and his 3-minute slip up. No pregnancy.

Every man swears we are real G’s. Well except Drake. I don’t think he ever pretends that he doesn’t cry in the daytime. With a crowd. Never has one successful rapper seemingly been so in touch with his feminine side on wax before. But he crossed the line. Dude put every ninja in America on blast with “Marvin’s Room”. While all of us swear to never have those moments of weakness and not giving into our emo sides, we’ve all done it. A lot of us swear that when Snoop said in ’94 that we don’t love them hoes, we made it our battle cry and man mantra. When the truth is…

…there are a gang of emo, wang-stas running around saying that same sh*t Drake was saying over and over to some woman who moved on because he sucked. Yep, some of us do love them hoes. We pick up the phone and tell some ex that “she can do better” while she wonders why the hell we’re even calling. Not that we’re ready to step up to the plate, we just know that we’d like a chance to still be at bat. Which, is ridiculous. But many cats do give into those moments of weakness that most of us swear we don’t have. Truth is, women are just great gatekeepers and put up with a lot of non-sense. I’ll bet nearly every dude has at least one moment where he simped out hard but the woman he was dealing with didn’t put him blast.

Of course, that could be because she didn’t know dontdatehimgirl.com existed or she doesn’t understand the point of a Twitter, but I’m guessing it’s because deep down, women like that type of attention and validation. Yep, validation. A dude calling you back after some time or just being on some, “girl we had good times…that dude you’re with isn’t good enough for you…” more or less lets her know that she had some last effect on you. And I honestly think that’s what all women want most. Even if the relationship didn’t work out, they just want to know that they mattered. Or will be remembered.

Women tend to only put dudes on blast who do egregious sh*t and even still, I’d bet the dudes would still try to get back in at some point and ole girl would listen. Which is where Drake comes in…again…because I’m sure none of us believe that was his last phone to call her. Biggie makes “Suicidal Thoughts” and offs himself at the end. Drake probably hangs up and makes himself a smoothie, watches Jerry Maguire then writes a rap about struggling with success…again. Emo-rap apparently can win.

And it wins because a vast majority of the guys out there are emo as all hell. Sure they are Big Meech at the club, but they stay in their feelings at home. Check Twitter feeds. You’ve got as many dudes as women playing into gossip and putting their feelings out there and not wanting to be misunderstood. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You know, perhaps social networking is at fault here. It’s just like with the “babymama” phenomenon. We have this ridiculous view that every kid had a husband-wife, mommy-daddy tandem back in the 50s-70s and somewhere along the way divorce became okay and out of wedlock births weren’t as frowned upon. The truth is, that stuff has been happening since day one, it just didn’t have the Internet to put it on blast. Nobody talked about it because there weren’t a million anonymous people listening to your every word. Nowadays, it happens all the time and men have audiences who eat it up. The same gossipping women are supposed to do is being taken over by men who are more than willing to get into their feelings and share them. Without feeling conflicted about it.

I think that’s been the biggest culprit. The lack of conflict a lot of guys are feeling. Whereas most of used to feel like p*ssies for getting caught in our feelings on some dumb sh*t, it seems like nowadays a lot of dudes are running at the opportunity to get in their feelings on some dumb sh*t and air it out to be seen by as many people as possible.

You used to just keep that sh*t at home for your wife or girlfriend to see and hear. Yeah, she’d laugh at you. But it stayed at home. Now, not so much.

“Marvin’s Room” is the perfect example. I saw all kinds of people, men and women, talking about it when it, and for good reason. It represents that shift where putting out stuff like this that used to be confined to just that one dude and that one chick (and whoever she clowned him with). Now, it’s a song a mainstream rapper makes. Sh*t like that only used to come out on indy releases by Atmosphere. I wonder how Slug feels about Drake? By the way, its possible that thost last two sentences made sense to about 10 percent of anybody reading this.

So what say you? Have you seen this rise of the emo negro? What’s to blame? Is it a bad thing? And how many of y’all have had Marvin’s Rooms situations? Pony up fellas. It’s okay to tell the truth. We’re being emo now.

For the record. I’m not emo. I’ve never done anything I’ve referenced. I’m a gangsta, I don’t dance. I boogie. Thank you and good night.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TICKLE ME EMO P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

blast from the past: her two cents, revisited

***admin note***

because of a technical difficulty (read: “really, you don’t wanna know. trust me”) last night, the champ is re-posting an entry from may, with a few ridiculous edits.

***end of admin note***

forget everything else you’ve heard.

disregard every other theory you’ve read.

ignore anything you’ve heard from any other relationship pundit.

fellas, you need to know that it’s all about money.

that’s it.

it’s not about sex, or, more specifically, which sexual acts she’s willing to do for you. she swallowed? so what. get in line. take a number. you doo-scooped her in one of the men’s dressing rooms at the banana republic? sh-t, so did clinton portis and sting in 2002. get over yourself.

it’s not about time either. women will spend time with a guy they have no intentions on ever doing anything remotely physical with, sans the hunchback hug (the teasingly platonic hug where women hunch their backs forward and stick their behind out, insuring there won’t be any type of crotch-area contact) at the end of the night when you drop her off at her f-buddy’s efficiency at her apartment.

she let you meet her girlfriends? who cares. she just wanted to prove to them that she found someone worse in spades than gem and ivy she is. plus, 45 percent of them aren’t going to be around this time next week year anyway.

she let you meet her family? so what. she’s just tired of hearing the “when are you getting married?” chorus at every family outing, and figures that being seen with your delusional ass might buy her a good 6 months of question quelling.

you’re on her top 4 on myspace? great. so is ringo starr. and tom.

she told you she loved you? love schmove. when she said it she was probably under the influence of dgp (”damn good pipe”), and that “confession” definitely ain’t admissible in any court. if you remember, that night she also called you “bucketman” repeatedly, even though your name is nate.

no, their only true tell, the one sign that’ll make you absolutely certain that a woman is definitely, without any questions, into you is if she’s willing to give you money.

not borrow. not loan. give. give, with absolutely no plans to ever get it back. this is the ultimate test…the relationship wonderlic exam. if she’s willing, she adores you…if she’s not, she doesn’t. it’s that simple

you could even make the argument that (***editors note***. the champ isn’t making this argument, just stating that the argument can be made. carry on) money is a woman’s most valuable possession which is why they’re usually terrible tippers. i’m not implying that all women are bronze excavators (”gold-diggers” is a bit too cliched for my taste), but let’s just say that, for reasons that have to do with biology and centuries of socialization, it’s much, much, much easier to separate a man interested in a woman from miscellaneous cash than vice versa, and for her to be willing to actually do this for a guy she’s seeing is the most concrete proof on the planet that she is invested in him.

you don’t believe me?

okay. tomorrow, ask a woman how many people she’s had any type of sexual relationship with. (***editors note***. don’t do this, unless you plan on getting smack repeatedly. wait, on second thought, do this and report the results)

then, ask her how many of those guys she would have given 500 dollars to if they needed it. i’d bet my obama sponsored reparations check that at least 70 percent of the time, those numbers won’t even be close to matching up.

let’s break it down again:

you met her stepmom? so what. she hates her stepmom, and she just brought you around because she knows she’ll be allergic to your cologne. she’s actually secretly hoping that it kills her

she let you make a tape? hmmm…obviously you haven’t checked the homegrown thread at bgol the contents of that shoebox underneath her bed. you’re just this month’s co-star.

your checking account is a bit short this month because you had to help pay for your aunt’s funeral, and your girl gave you $550 to help out with your mortgage? she’s already picked the names of your first three grandchildren.

so, people of vsb.com, i know i’m right, but, for the sake of discussion, i need to ask am i right…or am i right?

—the champ

Let’s Hug It Out, B*tch

***Administrative Note: Good people of VSB.com, over the next few weeks and months you may notice some new features and just-plain-ooohwee excitement. We’re bringing sexxy back…again. ***

What do Ralph Tresvant, Babyface, and Young Buck have in common?

Well that’s easy. They’re all sensitive men. Young Rizzo devoted an entire song to being a sensitive man. Hell, he even provided the best adlib pre-Jeezy when he uttered, “Aww shuga no no no” at the end of the song. It was a true moment of brilliance on the part of the former New Edition front man.

Take that Johnny Gill.

And Babyface? Well let’s just say that he’s been writing songs from the sensitive man’s standpoint since the beginning. “Two Occasions” definitely wasn’t about two chicks he she-boing-boing-boinged on a seedy Cincinnati street. Nope, it’s about love.

Young Buck? Well he just decided to cry on a conversation with 50 Cent. Sure he was “confrused” and a grown man cries on occasion. But only a sensitive man will cry on a phone call in which he’s trying not to get dismembered from a crappy rap group where a man named Tony Yayo is a prominent contributor. You see, sensitive men cry when they get confrused.

So what does this all have to the with the price of tea in China? Nothing actually. For one, I actually have no clue what the price of tea IS in China. Though I assume tea must be really cheap just like Jordans. I hear that if you go straight to the sweat shop you can get a pair of brand new Jordans for like $3.50 or something.

Anyway, sensitive men have been around for eons. They’re always out there pining away for some woman and wearing their emotions on their sleeves. They’ll cry for you.

Hmm…that might not be such a good example because if you’ll remember Jodeci would also “Cry For You”. And well, K-Ci would also get you some crack and beat you too. So perhaps crying for you isn’t really the sign of a sensitive man so much as it’s the sign of a man who might get you addicted to that coca-in-a.

This all makes me wonder though, how sensitive is it okay for a grown ass man to be? For instance, if I get all sentimental and teary-eyed at say, The Lion King, does that make me a b*tch? Or does that just make me a man who’s in touch with his feelings like Keith Sweat in the late 80’s early 90’s.

I’ve heard women say they want a sensitive man before. They want a man who can talk to them about their feelings and provide meaningful insight. They’d like a man who’s not afraid to open up and show that he has feelings and emotions. And ultimately that he will listen to any and everything…giiiiiirl.

But they also don’t want a man who wants to spend all of his time talking about his feelings. Sometimes he needs to just man the fuck up; ya know, be the strong silent type. Honestly, I feel that most “sensitive” men are only doing it to get the drawz. Granted, I know how to share my feelings when appropriate but I’m not really sure I even know HOW to tap into my sensitive side which of course presupposes that I EVEN HAVE ONE. I share my feelings because I have feelings about something, not because I’m a sensitive man. But then again, maybe I don’t even KNOW I’m a sensitive man.  And I don’t mean sensitive as a parallel to compassionate, I mean sensitive in terms of:

“girl, I can talk to Antoine about ANYTHING!”

I’m more interested in the other side of the coin…like when you hear:

“Yo ninja, why you being so DAMNED SENSITIVE!?”

So sensitive good people of VSB.com, my homies, just what is a sensitive man and at what point does a man step over the point of being sensitive to exhibiting true b*itchassness?

- VSB P AKA THE ARSONIST