The Hipster Demagogue, The Leftist Professor & The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

The post-conference party’s second wave had arrived and soon
I notice familiar sly hand gestures, so tag on to the end
Of the exodus from the Christmas light lit living room to
The dilapidated upstate New York porch packed with old couches.

My mouth is soon on the blunt after a friendly inquiry
And we get to talking about the sessions we’d seen,
And what it will mean for the Social Justice Movement in America
To have a Black President as The Man in power for the first time ever.

The mixed race political theorist that the other students
Call Heideggerian-Anarchist behind his back, or so my friend
Tells me, performs a longwinded paean to Possibilities
That I, a historian, counter with a less sanguine assessment.

Having been pulled under the wing of someone that’s
Made a career of saying such things in glossy magazines
He counters my empiricism with arrogant idealism –
I almost respond with blows, but think  “decorum”, hit it again then go.

I float past those spastically dancing to the irregular beats
And lyrics with love-lost themes on the uneven living room
Back to the seat that I had just occupied only to find that
It’s now been taken by the event’s keynote speaker.

His scarf brushes again and again against the band
On his ring finger as he gesticulates high to low
In and out to emphasize whatever he’s explaining
To the manic pixie dream girl sitting next to him.

There’s a red string braided into her unkempt bleached
Orange hair, she wears a chain necklace with boho baubles,
Has a glass of five-dollar-a-bottle champagne in her hand
And a neighbor looking up at me with a fuck off stare.

I lie through my teeth and give compliment to his speech
That claimed an understanding of Ancient Greek Tragedy
Should inform how we frame resistance to contemporary policies
And that seizing the state is no way to stop neoliberalism.

Given this gem of status in front of his hopeful conquest
He repeats in his West Herts accent the same jest he opened with
About how glad he was that while the TSA did cause delay,
X-rays can’t yet reveal worldviews and so he was able to make it.

Turning to assess her reception he smiles seeing her do the same,
Unaware that she came from VT to see me and is mine, for now;
His face again frowns as I bend down and say just loud enough for
The three of us: I’ve grown tired of this, let’s go back to the hotel

Let’s forget all the things we think we know and just go
At each other like the animals we are for as long as
Our bodies will last and she says: Yes, let’s.
And this is why I love her, in my own way.

Review of BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family

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Cause nothing says “low-key” like putting billboards of yourself and your gang name around Atlanta.

I’d first heard about Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family via trap songs where his name gets dropped. I didn’t think much about it at the time but when doing research on gangs in Miami for the novel series I’m writing I came across their name again. I watched a video that Big Meech had released shortly before he went to prison and a documentary after and was intrigued. I came across a series of articles that Mara Shaloup had written about them as well as a book length treatment that she gave them titled BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family, so I decided to read it. I enjoyed the book. It’s light and quick reading and though remembering the names and relationships of people with multiple aliases was a little confusing at first, the chart included in the book helped make things clear.

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Guwop so icey.

The story presented is fascinating and illustrates why Big Meech and the gang he started with his brother Terry became so famous within the hip-hop community. The most obvious manner why he has been so celebrated within that community is his promotion of Young Jeezy at the beginning of his career. While not an official signee to the BMF crew, he clearly gained from being associated with BMF members by gaining a greater aura of authenticity. Shaloup touches upon this and also tells an aside story of the conflict between Jeezy and Gucci Mane that left an associate of the former dead following an attempted robbery. Another reason for Meech’s lionization in the rap community is his attempt at going legit through a record label. While Bleu Davinci, an BMF associate that also engaged in cocaine trafficking, was it’s sole signee – it’s likely that it may have one day been a launching pad for rappers. One of the pictures shown in the book is of a conversation between Meechie and Nelly and his connection with Puff Daddy (Meech employed his cousin), T.I. and other important rappers is also detailed. In a way, this dynamic and these interactions seems like Meech wanted his life to imitate the musical art that he and his crew were so fond of.

One of the aspects of the book that I enjoyed was the description of trafficking craft. How certain hidden compartments in cars were created and opened, pay rates for couriers versus traffickers, means of laundering money, the manner of processing the uncut cocaine for distribution to associated seller, the different types of employee relationships that existed, the wildly excessive partying and extravagant purchases, difficulties felt when trying to “stay off the radar”, how relationships were formed with other crews so that wars were avoided, the relationships forged and destroyed over fear. It makes for compelling reading as even though it’s hard to identify with the people being described one still can’t help but wonder at what point someone is going to get caught. While reading I kept feeling wondrous anticipation as to what it was that would lead to someone’s arrest and, once that was done, wondering if they would snitch.

It’s this, in fact, that makes me feel a little uneasy about the celebrity which Meech has received. Shaloup doesn’t delve into these sorts of reflections, sticking more with the journalists craft, however after reading this and a number of the telephone transcripts available for perusal in the very large prosecutorial file on B.M.F. it’s clear the amount of stress that was felt by the individuals involved in the enterprise. The parties were like over the top cathartic releases for they seemed to all recognize that this was a house of cards and thought they were flying high – such heights meant that like Icarus they’d soon come crashing down. The sole factors involved in the safety maintenance of the operation seemed to be Meech’s code of conduct – No talking on the phone and make your employees love you first and also fear you so they don’t snitch – and a few corrupt people in minor government offices that could provide info or fake identification cards. While not sighting the tails that followed them, they all seemed to recognize – as more bodies of innocents and potential witnesses piled up and as police came to see that people which could potentially testify to crimes would clam up on learning who the suspects were – that greater police attention was being paid to them.

While the greater depth of personal insight into “the game” that I was hoping for was not to be found in the book through quotes or any interview with Meech, I found something of the sort while reading an interview. It seems that after a few years in the pen, when his legal options are dried up, his once boisterous, rebellious energy has disappeared. In his own words he states:

I’m crying inside. I’ve been in the hold on ’23 and 1′ [23 hours in cell and one hour out per day] since June 2011. This SMU sh*t is like a torture camp for real. First, showers are only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Both me and my celly have to cuff up whether one of us is leaving to go to rec, shower, or medical, or if both of us are leaving. Everywhere we go, our hands are in black box handcuffs behind our back with a C.O. holding our cuffs, walking with us. I’m always trying to get out of my handcuffs first because you never know when your celly may have a bad day and jump you while you still have your cuffs on.
There’s three or four fights or stabbings daily, especially since it’s hot. If you disobey them, you’ll get a heavy dose of tear gas, which has the whole building choking and coughing, eyes burning. Then they’ll put you in restraints handcuffed extra tight with a chain around your waist, shackled. I’ve heard grown men cry crocodile tears from their hands swelling and nerve damage from the cuffs. If that’s not enough, they have another form of punishment called “Four Points” where they put you on your back chained around both ankles and wrists in a very cold room with the lights on. Everyone who reads this should look up Lewisburg SMU online and read about the deaths, disfigurements, and inhumane conditions and brutality that goes on in here. So, my days are like a living hell.

It’s at this point that I start to agree with some of the people in the comments section of a number of Hip Hop news sites that despite his “success” it was all a big waste.

One of the other aspects that I found interesting in the book is the narratives about BMF associates that tried to start successful side business to launder money and to potentially become a platform to go legit. There was the BMF record label, of course, but within the story Mara also accounts for a recording studio, a high-end car dealerships and a number of other enterprises. Ironically but perhaps not so surprisingly, the successes that BMF had selling drugs was undermined by their failures as actual businessmen. Another irony is that despite all of the criticisms made by Terry against his brother Meech, it was the latter’s generous attitude and willingness to engage in opulent conspicuous consumption at strip clubs and night clubs with his subordinates that motivated them to not snitch on him once caught. Not that their testimony would have been the point on which the prosecution’s case would have rested in full – but it’s worth noting: as a means of maintaining organizational morale, it turns out that warmth and affection rather than coldness and annoyance have a significant impact.

Yet another major irony illustrated in the book is that after the capture of the Black Mafia Family, the drug task force which had helped bring them down gets disbanded following the accidental death of an elderly woman that the Atlanta Police Department tried to frame as a cocaine trafficker. While not widely announced in the paper, the presence was common knowledge amongst the criminal elements in the area and following this trade picked up apace and with greater openness. This time, however, it was largely done by Mexican gangs with military backgrounds that made the 270 million brought in by the Black Mafia Family look like peanuts.

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Some of the original notes and articles from which made the book was written can be found here.


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The historical revisionism and false dilemma of Matt Kibbe's views on Cuban Socialism

https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/03/why-is-rock-and-roll-the-first-thing-socialist-ban

An acquaintance recently posted the above video and I was a taken aback. I’m no specialist on Cuban history, but what was presented didn’t seem right to me as I knew many of claims he was making to be half-truths, not correctly contextualized or were outright lies.

 

Let just consider some of the claims made.

1) Matt Kibbe quotes Castro as saying that Rock and Roll was the “Music of the Enemy”. Well, if you are a nationalist that didn’t like the fact that United States capital was controlling the political situation in the country than it was. Following the Spanish-American war Cuba was no longer a Spanish colony but an American Protectorate. From 1898 to 1935

4812412_origWhat was the Platt Amedment?

  • Cuba could not make any treaty with another nation that the U.S. did not agree to.
  • Cuba must allow the US to buy or lease a naval base.
  • S. had the right to intervene in Cuban conflict to protect it.
  • Cuba had to keep it’s debts low to prevent foreign countries from landing troops to enforce payment.

This amendment was used multiple times in order to bolster different factions of the Cuban political elite that were protecting American investments in the sugar and railroad industries. At this time the Cuban elite – predominantly peninsulares and lighter skinned mulattoes – were exceptionally racist and prized American culture. In the period after the Platt Amendment’s repeal, despite the Good Neighbor policy much of the American extensions of power at times when U.S. capital was threatened remained the same. Consider the U.S. history in the Caribbean – even before the Cuban Revolution the U.S. had established a habit of propping up military dictators throughout Latin America for financial gain and 1961 Cuba’s neighbor, Dominican Republic, had over 20,000 US troops on the island that were fighting a Communist-inspired insurgency against American-backed rule!

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2) Kibbe claims that Fidel Castro “banned rock music” in his country? A little research shows that while The Beatles were banned for two years, from 1964-1966, by 1974 the MNT (Nueva Tropa Movimiento) helped to end this often unenforced “ban” on certain musical acts playing in public.

(‪https://books.google.com/books?id=Q55Z8YPH_XoC&pg=PA214… ; ‪https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_rock ; ‪http://www.ipsnews.net/…/cuba-maps-its-rock-music-history/)

3) Following the banned music claim, Matt Kibbe alleges that “you could be beaten, jailed or send to a work camp for having long hair.” The manner in which transitions to a 2008 example of this gives the impression that this has gone on continuously since that point. As the above has already shown, this is not true.

The example that Kibbe gives, is also more complex than he informs us. The names of the band (which Kibbe doesn’t cite) is Porno Para Ricardo. Readings this article for context, it becomes apparent that Matt is grossly misrepresenting both what happened to the band as well as the overall context. I recommend reading the whole article, but here’s an except from the close that does a good job summarizing the complexities of this.

“the band’s oppositional stance is complicated by the fact that Gorki’s pronouncements dovetail—at least in some aspects—with the rhetoric of the Miami right. For example, in interviews with the foreign media, Gorki has suggested that the Cuban government has purposefully caused food shortages and described the leadership as motivated by a desire to “humiliate” the people. Such statements are rarely heard on the island, despite the proliferation of other types of complaints and allegations, yet they are daily fare in Miami.

Although the band has no formal political affiliation and states that it has never accepted funds from abroad, the possibility of such a relationship is latent, as suggested by the Cuban American National Foundation’s immediate offer to provide legal assistance to Gorki.”

4) Haymarket. The Palmer Raids. Pinkertons. American Legion. Red Squads and Special Investigations Bureau’s committed to undermining radicals throughout every major city in the United States. The KKK’s mass entry into policing. Florida’s Johns Committee. Detroit’s Black Legion. New York’s Bureau of Special Services. Los Angeles’ Public Disorder Intelligence Division. Philadelphia’s Civil Defense Squad. Memphis’ Defense Intelligence Unit. McCarthyism. The FBI’s COINTELPRO. House Un-American Activities Committee. House Internal Security Committee. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Internal Security. The corporate, extra-legal origins of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit.The Tenney Committee. The assassination of the Black Panthers. The fracturing of the Students for a Democratic Society. The attempt to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr. The monitoring of anti-war groups.

These are important instances of American history to know when considering the binary the Kibbe is setting up with Socialism as Evil and Capitalism as Good. They are important as it they are all examples of times when the U.S. government spied on citizens, beat up activists, prevented mail that’s considered politically unsavory to those in power from being sent, assassinating activists, and all around having their lives interfered with by the U.S. state. This list isn’t even a comprehensive one of all of the examples of the massive state intervention in the political lives of Americans. So let’s not buy into this dichotomy of Socialism bad cause you can’t express yourself, cause it ain’t true.

5) If you are going to define any sort of large social operations, be it Capitalism or Socialism, any encapsulation of it to two words is a grave distortion of it. The two words that Kibbe uses is “plan” and “conformity”, which could equally be used to describe capitalism – owners create a “plan” for production based upon their market knowledge and capital and require workers to “conform” to their wishes through wage labor in order to produce. Socialism could be better stated as a system of political economy wherein workers own and direct the means of production through the state. This sort of faulty generalization allows him to replace what he is calling socialism with what is more properly called authoritarianism. What’s the difference? Check this video out for a brief primer: (‪https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwYmcbRYi1w)

6) Kibbe claims that with Socialism you can’t get no satisfaction, however there are many counterfactuals to prove this wrong – from the quasi-socialist Nordic countries having the highest rates of happiness to the nostalgia of people in the former Soviet Bloc for the stability offered by the government without it’s repressive aspects.

(‪http://www.forbes.com/…/norway-denmark-finland-business…; ‪https://news.usc.edu/…/are-socialists-happier-than…/)

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Matt Kibbe’s video presents the viewer with a false dilemma, it is either Capitalism and Freedom or Socialism and Repression. It furthermore distorts Cuban history prior to the revolution both as an official protectorate and as an unofficial one. Arthur Schelsinger, Jr reported about the country under Batista that: “The corruption of the Government, the brutality of the police, the government’s indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic justice … is an open invitation to revolution.” As this short article shows this is not the case and the claims he made are off for a number of reasons. I hope you found this article interesting and that you can gain greater media savvy as a result of it.

15 Reasons Why Teachers Make Great Content Marketers

There are a lot of reasons why those trained as teachers make highly effective content marketers. Here is a list 15 reasons with short explanations.

  1. Teachers have to differentiate instruction in the classroom, so know how to differentiate content to produce for different audiences.

Any teacher worth their salt will tell you that it’s through approaching the same material in a variety of ways that allows for the greatest learning gains for their students. Visual aids, kinesthetic manipulation of symbolic objects and auditory engagement all should be used to obtain the highest possible learning gains. Great content marketers are able to determine how visual engagement through artifacts such as infographics, videos and graphics can synergistically be combined with text and audio to convey information pertinent to their buyers journey.

Buyer Personas Blog

  1. Teachers have to repackage and repurpose materials for their lesson plans, so they know how to reuse content.

Teachers are faced with an ever-changing audience, and one lesson that might do great for a particular group of students may not be so effective for another. Recognizing the same is true for their publications, great content marketers will create material for a variety of different marketing personas.

  1. Teachers have to track student progress over time, so they know how to quantify progress for marketing,

Before students learn new material they use pre-assessment strategies in order to determine the depth to which certain material is already understood. Once they have determined a baseline, they are able to build upon that knowledge – a process known as scaffolding. Great content marketers recognize that not everyone is not at the same point on the buyers journey and is thus able to create a number of sign posts to help them get to their destination.

  1. Teachers have to document their daily and weekly lesson plans, so they know how to prepare work reports.

Managing a classroom is but one side of the coin of teaching. The other, lesson planning and record keeping often takes up nearly as much time as that spent with students. Through the latter component, teachers are able to document gains. Great content marketers do the same to share this information with clients.

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  1. Teachers have to prepare multiple week lesson plans on various units of inquiry, so they know how to organize and enact a publishing schedule.

A good teacher knows that they can’t possibly achieve the most out of their classroom time unless every minute is accounted for with corresponding activity. Many teachers use formulas on the daily level – such as beginning of the class reviews the previous lesson plan, explanation of key words and concepts to be addressed that day, learning activities and end of class reflection – as well as on the unit level – such as pre-assessment strategies, lessons plans and formative tests. Great content marketers are able to create material that is valuable unto itself and that can also be an element of keystone content – longer form content that lowers PPC costs and helps to establish a business as a thought leader in the industry.

  1. Teachers have to give precise instructions to students lest uncertainty cause problems, so they know how to work well with other marketing staff.

Having to explain unclear directions or a test questions is both embarrassing and a waste of classroom time. Good teachers recognize how imprecise language can lead to confusion and consistently seek to avoid such situations from arising. Good marketers always keep their messages clear so that similar loss of productivity within a collaborative work environment doesn’t occur.

  1. Teachers have to come up with interesting ways to present their material lest students lose interest, so they know how to make compelling marketing content.

Having differentiated methods of teaching is certainly important, but without the initial student buy in teachers are fighting an uphill battle. Whether it is through a displaying an image that fascinates student’s attention or asking a provocative question, it is often the first few moments that determines whether classroom participation will be active or passive. Great content marketers know not only how to present information in a variety of manner but how to immediately gain the interests of various marketing personas and to hold it.

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  1. Teachers have to stay abreast of current best practices, so are used to viewing work as a career requiring continuing education.

In order to maintain their status as certified teaching credentials, teachers must attend in-service training or take college level classes in order to stay abreast of the latest research-based best practices for teaching. Great content marketers must do the same sort of research in their field as changes in the manner in which search engines operate have and will continue to cause content markets to adjust their strategies and tactics.

  1. Teachers are savvy cultural consumers and disseminators, so they can apply this in creative endeavors to help build brand value.

Once brand awareness has been established, brand association is the most important factor that will create brand loyalty to consumers. Images, symbols, attributes and values associated with a brand – their use helps to elicit feelings within the customer beyond the fulfillment of their immediate need for a specific product or service. Teachers apply this knowledge in the creation of the educational guises that change based upon the composition and subject area content of their classes. Great content marketers are aware of this as well and exploit this via their marketing products.

Brand Awareness

  1. Teachers have to apply rubrics in the classroom to determine which methods work and which don’t, so they know how to apply the principles of A/B testing.

Teachers not only test their students, but test their tests in order to determine whether or not certain material they covered was effective at a statistical. If all students miss questions five through nine, for example, certain material was not presented in an appropriate manner and should be covered differently in the future. Great content marketers engage in the same practices in order to determine which aesthetic or message is most compelling.

  1. Teachers in humanities present content that is written at the grade level most Americans read at, so they know how to produce content that is not too complex for their readers.

Teachers that stop lecturing or a classroom discussion to explain a word lose their momentum. While teaching vocabulary is certainly an important component of teaching it must not be an activity that is unnecessarily frequent. Great content marketers write according to their audience’s reading abilities. While the level of content complexity will shift based upon the outlet for the content, they certainly know how to keep things single enough so rapport is established.

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  1. Teachers have to stay professional when parents are dissatisfied with their child’s grades, so they know how to respectfully communicate with and manage the expectations of clients.

It’s commonly recognized among teachers that while parents once blamed their own children for their poor grades, they now seek to place blame on those that give them. Passive or active aggression has lead to many contracts to include clauses that allow teachers to have administration present when dealing with hostile parents. Great teachers, however, are able to defuse such situations in a way that they need not involve others. Over a long enough time frame even the greatest content marketers will too deal with such expressions of concern over failure as unlike with direct marketing, inbound marketing can sometimes take a longer period of time to see returns. Calmly explaining the situation, respectfully addressing any questions no matter how they are worded and reiterating that both parties desire the same things from the relationship can go a long way to maintaining client satisfaction.

  1. Teachers have to follow State and Federal Educational Standards, so can easily abide by the guidelines set by clients, search engines, news outlets and content platforms.

Teachers operate under an incredibly large number of regulations on the methods and goals informing their work. Adherence to them is often the difference between those that stay in the field and those that don’t have their contract renewed. Great content marketers are able to follow the explicit guidelines of their clients as well those set by the outlets that their content is hosted upon.

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  1. Teachers are highly skilled in researching their subject area, so can apply these abilities to others areas for content development.

Teachers in the humanities transmit a variety of subject area content as well as critical thinking and communication skills. They also know how to find the information that they don’t know. Great content marketers do extensive research into the informational and promotional outlets of goods and services before they write their first piece and from this are able to produce better work and can see which content topics aren’t being addressed that could be useful to clients.

  1. Teachers know how to work in groups, so can bring that to a marketing team.

While teachers seek to create the greatest learning gains through their lesson plans, it’s sometimes the brief one-on-one contact that allows for students to obtain those “A-ha!” moments that will stick with them for the rest of their life. Great content marketers working together on a project don’t seek to compete with one another for recognition but to co-operate with one another on behalf of their client.

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If you are interested in learning about how the content marketer/teacher who wrote this can help out your business, please contact me!