10 things i learned while in NYC for “the modern day matchmaker live”

definitely didn’t meet on the train

1. i’m not a relationship “expert”

to be honest, i didn’t just learn this in new york city. although i’ve co-founded a relationship-centric website and have benefited personally and financially from this particular “expertise”, i’ve never considered myself to be a dating and relationship source.

sure, i’m aware that (some) people do appreciate my advice and insights, but i’m also aware that this appreciation stems more from my ability to write dispassionately, objectively, and wittily about a subject most can’t be dispassionate, objective, and witty about than any deep reservoir of relationship knowledge.

actually, this dispassionateness is exactly why i’m not an expert. as pleased as i am to be able to help cultivate positive relationship discussion, i’m much more interested in the reaction to my writing than the reaction to what i actually say.

i’m bringing this up because this lack of passion is made even more apparent when sitting on a panel next to people like demetria lucas and kenya stevens, women possessing infectiously palpable energy when sharing their thoughts about relationships. when they spoke, their heartfelt anecdotes and advice and made it seem like they believed they were spreading the gospel truth. when i spoke, it felt like i was speaking on a subject i researched and observed instead of something i’ve lived and felt (which is kind of, but not really true, but more on that later)

2. sister toldja is…a sweetheart

although i was very aware that the uber-angry, man-shanking view some have of her wasn’t true, i assumed she’d be somewhat laconic, sarcastic, droll, and occasionally acerbically funny. basically, i was expecting to meet a womanist daria morgendorffer. sh*t, i even read her blog entries in a voice that can be best described as “what janeane garofalo would sound like if she grew up in brownsville”.

to my surprise, sister t is actually much more, for lack of a better term, southern than i imagined her to be. bubbly, gregarious, and affable, she’s much more belle than bea arthur, and it was bit unexpected to find out that everyone’s favorite feminist is one of the girliest girls i’ve ever met.

3. apparently, new york city is the world’s biggest nightclub

between the 8 dollar toll just to get into harlem (a fact which made my friend remark “i hate this f*cking city” at least 246 times in a 24 hour span), the drunk-acting drivers, the practice of just throwing trash on the corner, the randomly out of place and lascivious white women, and the seemingly perpetual background music (in the 22 hours i was there, i can’t remember not hearing any music for longer than a 30 second span. it felt like i was on the world’s drippiest episode of  sesame street), new york city is exactly like every wamo night in pittsburgh. who knew?

4. saying “hey, dumbasses, don’t listen to me or anyone else on the panel” probably isn’t the best thing to do in a roomful of people who paid 25 dollars to hear you and everyone else on the panel speak.

i won’t go into too much detail, but lets just say that my (paraphrasing) “hey, the problem with us (black people) is that we spend too much time listening to relationship experts” comment went over about as well as a fart on a submarine.

5. new york city is obviously filled with a bunch of dumb ass dudes

i know this seems harsh, but how else can you explain that roughly 15 guys showed up to an event filled with roughly 300 tipsy women practically ovulating by ovary osmosis? seriously, that show was like a sam’s club for single black men. there hasn’t been that many single and sexy black women in one place since wilt chamberlain’s wake

to be fair, i understand why a guy might have been hesitant to attend. while a favorable female/male ratio is a good thing, 15 women to every man shifts the speed from “favorable” to “f*cking ludicrous” and completely changes the approaching/bagging dynamic. also, the brunson factor would have made things more difficult than usual.

to expound, as a straight man, i feel absolutely no shame in saying that paul brunson–the modern day matchmaker–is, well, mr. perfect. why does this matter? well, any guy trying to holler at a woman at one of his events will have to deal with the “wait. i wanted a pocket sized paul to take home, not your mundane ‘i could have saved money and just met your ass on the train’ ass” factor.

when you add this to the fact that i haven’t even mentioned that approximately 10 of the ninjanets most popular black male personalities (brunson, anslem from nakedwithsockson, jozen from untiligetmarried, slim jackson, streetztalk, and seattle washington from singleblackmale and threewaystotakeit to name a few) were in attendance, and each had a sizable fan base present, maybe the black men of new york city aren’t so stupid after all.

6. everything sounds smarter with a british accent

i’m not saying that lola adesioye’s accent tempted me to transcribe every word she said the entire night into my gphone, but lola adesioye’s accent tempted me to transcribe every word she said the entire night into my gphone.

7. liz is liz

***debating whether to say anything about liz not attending the show because she didnt want to wait in line…despite the fact that i left her a complimentary ticket and all she had to do was go to the box office and say her name. yeah, i probably shouldn’t say anything about that. i’m sure she’ll attend the next time her friend and business partner drives seven hours through the appalachian mountains to nyc to appear on a panel***

8. there’s a quote from the wire for every situation

i drove up to new york with my closest friend. he coaches basketball in europe and just happened to be in pittsburgh last week, and i convinced him to make the trip with me (i also had to convince my cousin to let us stay with her, no small feat since my man is 6’8′, and most people aren’t too keen on having anonymous giant n*ggas sleep on their couches).

if you’re a vsb regular you probably know how much of a wire diehard i am, but my man (who actually introduced me to the show) surpasses and sh*ts on my wire fandom. seriously, if you asked him to rank the three most influential men in his life, his answer would probably include some combination of his dad, God, and bodie broadus.

anyway, with us two in the car together for approximately 14 hours–the round trip distance between nyc and pittsburghof a 30 hour span, every situation turned into a scene from the wire.

stuck in traffic? quote bunny colvin’s “f*ck you? no, f*ck me!!” from season three.

problems with the onstar system? quote avon’s “little man stay f*cking up” from season one

waitress mixes up your order at IHOP? do your best marlo stanfield “my name is my name!!!”

i could continue, but i get the feeling that the 17 of you still reading this want me to move on.

9. i still get surprised when meeting “regular lurkers”

after the show, i got the chance to meet approximately 15-20 fans of vsb, all people who told me they read regularly but never comment. judging from our stats, only maybe 2 to 3 percent of the people who read participate in the conversations, but i still have a tendency to assume that the only people reading are the ones who comment regularly, and it still shocks me to actually see evidence of how popular we’re becoming.

10. i’m not built for this sh*t…not yet, at least

the “written vs spoken word” dynamic came up in private conversations with sister t, anslem, and nikki “coco” nokes at various points of the night. basically, we all discussed how awkward the shift from “online persona” to “in-person” can be for us and our readers, and how difficult it can be to construct your words when speaking so that they have the same impact they usually do when they’re read.

for some this is a non-issue. panama, for instance, has a bit of a stream of consciousness writing style that allows his messages and insights to be heard the same way they’re read. on the other hand, much of what i write is specifically written just to be read; the types of language and humor i insert in my entries would lose their meaning if heard aloud.

this “problem” isn’t unique. most people who consider themselves to be writers and/or introverts tend to be somewhat underwhelming public speakers. but, in this particular instance, to promote the brand and myself, i’ll have to continue to step out of the comfort zone of my controlled keypad environment. and, occasionally, i’ll feel as unenthused about it as i was thursday night.

hopefully i’ll get better at extemporaneous “shifting” in time, but for now if i’m addressing a large group of people (panels and podcasts included), i need prompts, a script, a timeline, and at least three rum and cokes before i can get completely comfortable.

with that being said, between the pre-show, the interview with sister t, the panel, and the afterparty, i actually did have a great time. i even got to witness a live matchmaking, ate an apple and three mcdonalds double cheeseburgers, somehow managed to actually remember the names of five of the vsb lurkers i met while drunk, and had two of my favorite writers tell me that i was one of their favorites.

not quite an entire wheel of cheese, but still pretty damn impressive.

—the champ

ten things i learned while at “the modern day matchmaker live in DC”

better late than never

1. paul carrick brunson is for real

admittedly, i was a bit skeptical when paul first invited me to be on the show.

i wasn’t sure how well the panelists –dating diva jj smith (author of “why i love men”), charlotte burley (creator and host of BET’s “the turn on spot“), model and artist leah santiago kiarash, model reinaldo faberlle, dominic (one of the twins from season two of the tila tequila show), and yours truly–  would mesh, and i wasn’t 100 percent confident that moderator nikki nokes (author of “maybe its you“) would keep us all on-point.

i thought the planned poetry/performance piece with bassey ikpi, rasheed, and jonathan b. tucker seemed a bit contrived. and, although i knew that a giant video screen, a live twitter feed, an albino monkey trained to dutty wine on cue, comedian lawrence jarrett, yesha callahan (from fungkeblakchik), video blogger tonya tko, the wb, and musician w. ellington felton were involved in someway, i had no idea how (or why) it would all fit together.

***also, to be completely honest, i was extremely anxious about how well my written “verysmart-ness” would translate on a live panel. you see, writing allows you to edit, re-read, and reflect on your thoughts before you actually put them out there, and i’m much more comfortable (and better at) doing that than speaking extemporaneously***

most importantly, i wasn’t sure about paul.

although i was familiar with his work around the web, the cynic in me wondered how genuine this modern day matchmaker thing he’s doing truly is, and if he was capable of pulling off this seemingly unnecessarily ambitious show.

but, somehow, someway everything managed to fit together. the show was sold out. the poetry was on point. the planned interruptions each provided a bit of levity and humor. w. ellington felton and his band did their thing. there was a ton of twitter and audience interaction, and the panel was a good mix of opinionated, informative, and entertaining people with distinct voices (although, admittedly, we were probably outshone by the women. and by “probably” i mean “definitely, without a doubt“)

although each of the participants contributed to the night’s success, the bulk of the praise should go to paul. seriously, i don’t know if i’ve ever met someone with as much perpetual genuinely positive energy as he has. he’s like a cross between anderson varejao, mike tomlin, johnny carson, and little randy from the first six episodes of season four of “the wire”.

this die-hard skeptic is sold.

2. morehouse moonshine isn’t half bad

before the show began, “matchmakers –a somewhat deadly combination of (i think) ginger ale, lime, strawberries, and rum on ice– were freely given to the show’s participants and audience. and, considering the fact that this drink was so subtly strong that three of them could make you tipsy enough to holler at and bag a velvet barstool, its name was definitely apropos.

anyway, after finding out this particular brand of rum (chairman’s reserve) was created by a morehouse college grad, i referred to it as “morehouse moonshine“, a joke maybe 157 times more clever while intoxicated than when i just typed it out.

3. charlotte burley’s a good sport

while behind the curtain and getting ready to be called on stage, i attempted to give dominic a drunken “good luck and shit, man” fist bump, but completely missed my target and punched the matchmaker out of charlotte’s hands.

although i could sense she was tempted to give me a strong “i know this pittsburgh-ass n*gga didn’t just punch the drink out of my hand?” side-eye, she laughed it off, and one of the women working backstage helped me quickly get her another drink. she also invited me to be on her show, so hopefully i won’t drop-kick her purse off her arms the next time i see her.

4. commitment and monogamy are not the same thing

well, at least they aren’t to jj smith, who made this extremely debate-inducing statement when giving her rationale for men not wanting to commit in a traditional sense. to paraphrase: (many) men (rightly) feel like they can be fully committed to someone without being completely monogamous.

5. if hungry (and drunk) enough, i’ll eat anything. a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g

this was proven at the event afterparty, when i (a person who makes sure to let waitresses know to tell the chef to make sure my burgers and steaks are “burnt like ron mexico”) practically swallowed an entire tray of bite sized burgers, even though the meat was the color of the chicago bulls away jerseys.

6. its a small f*cking world

in a one hour span, i found out that j. ellington felton lived in my neighborhood when he was a student at carneige mellon, learned that one of paul’s friends (brian hamlin, seen here as “the activist”) and i worked at the same summer camp when i was still in high school, and met a woman who drove down to the event from pittsburgh, left her first comment on vsb last week, and actually happened to be sitting next to my girl and i at a restaurant in the burgh a week earlier (and received the same shitty service).

with that in mind…

7. everybody assumed i was from d.c. (at least until they heard me speak), except for the people actually from d.c., who assumed i was from new york, chicago, or (no lie) savannah, georgia

8. i definitely need to write down names of people i meet to ensure i’ll correctly hear and remember them

this is especially true when meeting vsb-er’s. i know at least six or seven introduced themselves to me, but the only names i could clearly hear and remember were orangestar616 and natasha. i’d blame it on the alcohol, but, well, there is no but. i’m officially blaming it on the alcohol.

9. nikki nokes is the homie…for reasons i don’t feel comfortable revealing quite yet

10. in hindsight, i probably should have worn one of my verysmartbrothas.com shirts

although liz provided me with business cards to pass out, rocking a vsb tee probably would have done wonders for the “who the hell is this awkward accent ass n*gga in the grey suit, and where the hell is he from?” sentiment probably held by (at least) a third of the audience.

oh well. hopefully they all know now.

—the champ

New Features and a Live Event Starring The Champ

Hey VSBs and VSSs,

We have some exciting housecleaning announcements for you all:

1. Some of our readers asked us to get on Tumblr so they could keep tabs on us over there. Your wish is our command: Follow us here. For now it’s just an imported feed, but we might do some other things with it later.

2. A few of you were asking if you could subscribe to The VSB Files on iTunes. I’m happy to announce we’ve been added to the iTunes Podcast directory: Click here to subscribe. You can subscribe to the podcast’s regular feed over here. We’ll be back with new episodes shortly!

3. A new feature we’ve been trying out over the past week is AskChamp. The Champ really wanted a way to answer your dating questions via Twitter, but we thought adding a layer of anonymity (and more character space) would help people open up a little more, if you know what I mean. We hooked up a FormSpring account that feeds to our Twitter account. Our Twitter followers have been enjoying Champ’s answers, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and feel free to drop your questions in the AskChamp widget on our website’s sidebar. You can also enter your love questions directly on the AskChamp page.

4. If you can’t get enough of The Champ, you’re in luck because he is (finally) going on the road! I thought Champ had strict orders to never leave the State of Pennsylvania, but he’s coming to Washington DC for the Modern Day Matchmaker event, where he will be a featured panelist for the show! The event goes down Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 6:15 PM (ET) at Gala Theatre, 3333 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010. Tickets are $20 for the show, and $10 for the after-party. FOR VSB READERS WE ARE OFFERING A $5.00 DISCOUNT ON TICKETS! Use the discount code VSB at checkout to receive your discount. The code applies only to the full access show & after-party ($25) and show-only ($20) tickets. We only have a limited amount of tickets to sell at the discount rate, so it’s first-come, first-served. Get your tickets now!

That’s it for now.

Feature requests, suggestions, complaints? You can keep them to yourself always e-mail us, we’re all ears.