Style & Substance – The Medium Brown Oxford

Edward Green Brown OxfordBecause, when the severity of a black oxford threatens to compromise the sanctity of a fresh spring day, an alternative pair in a warm shade of brown will enable a gentleman to properly complement the day in style. Trust, as a gentleman’s presentation gradually adapts a lighter hue, the loyal employment of the black oxford will lessen more and more. Now, this is not a call for a complete excommunication from your shoe rotation. Rather, this is a thoughtful regulation of your trusted pair of somber kicks to specialized duty: overcast mornings, job interviews, funeral services, special events during the evening, etc. So, in other words, with the exception of moments that beg darker attire, a sprightly pair of brown shoes will marry perfectly with almost any lighter shade of trouser. Light to medium gray. Of course varying shades of brown or khaki. Earthy sage. And even softer hues of blue can coincide beautifully with your brown shoes. Now, whether you rock a cap-toe or wingtip, the selection is solely your own. I humbly suggest adding two pairs – more if you can afford it – to your footwear arsenal if you haven’t procured said pairs already. And with that – happy spring gentlemen!

Heritage – James Baldwin

James-Baldwin

  • James Arthur Baldwin was born August 2, 1924 in Harlem, New York
  • Novelist, essayist, activist, playwright, poet
  • Graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1942
  • Awarded Eugene F. Saxton Memorial Trust Award in 1945
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain published in 1953
  • The Amen Corner published in 1954
  • Notes of a Native Son published in 1955
  • Giovanni’s Room published in 1956
  • Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son published in 1961
  • Another Country published in 1962
  • The Fire Next Time published in 1963
  • Awarded George Polk prize in 1963
  • No Name in the Street published in 1972
  • Professorship of Literature and Afro-American Studies at the Five College Network in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1983
  • La Légion D’Honneur, France’s highest honor, awarded by President François Mitterand in 1986
  • Died December 1, 1987 at the age of 67

Black Thought

Frederick Douglas“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

-Frederick Douglass

As a parent, it is absolutely paramount that you ensure your child’s maturation is nurtured and cultivated for maximal, positive growth. To be certain, there are a myriad of unfortunate realities that work tirelessly to undermine and hinder your child’s development. Harsh realities such as poverty, crime, low self-esteem, bullying, and poor academic performance can lead to self-destructive behavior that regretfully transitions into adulthood. Moreover, if that adult decides to have children, there is a high risk that self-destructive behavior will be consciously or subconsciously transferred to the subsequent generation.

Truth: Some of the biggest bullies, critics, and abusers live right in the household. And that is a reality that we cannot tacitly accept. We have to do better. We must become increasingly more active by protecting and educating our youth, ensuring that they are intelligently prepared for the life that awaits them. We have to encourage. We have to impart meaningful wisdom. We have to enlighten them. We must unconditionally love them. We must fortify the integrity of their spirit and reinforce the foundation of their character. They deserve our parenting best – let’s get to work.

Gentleman Essentials – Brooks Brothers – Umbrella

Brooks Brothers Umbrella

Brooks Brothers

As unusual as it may seem, it is not uncommon to observe a certain breed of  gentleman, seemingly oblivious to the weather conditions around them, forgo the necessary accoutrements that grant protection and comfort from Mother Nature. Residing in Michigan, where the winter season is frigidly unflinching, I have spotted many men commuting to and fro, absent the requisite gear such as a hat, a pair of gloves, and even a coat. My humble opinion: That practice is simply insane. So, with spring headed our way, I am here to endorse a gentlemanly essential that should not be ignored – the gentleman’s umbrella. Yes, I have even spied gentlemen, leisurely strolling without a care as they are completely drenched by pouring rain. Don’t be that guy. Perhaps an umbrella is too old-fashioned nowadays. Well, I’ll just be old-fashioned, and comfortably dry. Maybe you will join me.

Review – Zirh – Shaving Cream Heavy Beard

Zirh Heavy Beard Shave CreamGentlemen, today we will revisit a subject that elicits both passion and fervor within us all – shaving. Sure, we have fervently scrutinized this topic on numerous occasions in the past, nevertheless, the subject matter never fails to provoke interest and discussion. And so today, I am examining a shaving cream from a trusted brand that I have reviewed in the past – Zirh. Now, this shaving cream distinguishes itself from previously reviewed products because it is specifically formulated to address heavy beards or thick, coarse hair. Being an African-American gentleman, I am the proud owner of both. That being said, let’s get to it gents – Zirh Shave Cream Heavy Beard.

Observations

  • White in color, this product arrives with an extremely thick, creamy texture. Allow me to reiterate: This shaving cream is exceedingly dense with a velvety touch. No seriously, this is probably the thickest shaving cream that I have utilized to date.
  • That being said, a gentleman should be mindful of the quantity used during the application process. I severely underestimated its robust texture, therefore, the result was an undesirable goopy shaving brush and a clogged safety razor head.
  • I would strongly suggest applying small to medium amounts in an incremental fashion that satisfies your shaving needs. This can be achieved with either your fingertips or a badger shaving brush. I prefer using a shaving brush. Applying the cream with my fingertips proved to be too sticky for my tastes.
  • This shaving cream has no discernible fragrance. There is a hint eucalyptus, but it is very discreet.
  • The resulting lather is rather indistinguishable. No worries. The strength of this shaving cream resides in its heaviness, thereby providing supreme protection from that sharpened blade gliding across your skin.
  • Now, the thickness of the shaving cream does have its rewards. Namely, a gentleman need not worry about blowing through product because a little will definitely take you the distance in your shaving adventures.
  • To minimize a clogged razor head, I definitely recommend clearing your razor of any debris after each stroke with running hot water.
  • Unlike some foam shaving creams, this offering will not quickly dry into skin, thus requiring repeated applications. At the most, a gentleman may be inclined to employ an additional layer of cream after the initial application.
  • Post-shave – my skin was calm and smooth. The barrier provided by the shaving cream between my skin and blade was more than enough in providing optimal protection. My skin was left well hydrated and supple. Please note: A double edge safety razor was used during shaving.
  • Retails for $25.00 at 8.4 fl oz (250 ml). Zirh offers a unique payment option. A gentleman can choose a one time payment, or an auto-replenishment is available in bi-monthly or quarterly intervals. If anyone has any experience with this replenishment program, please feel free to comment.
  • For more details, please visit http://www.zirh.com/men-shaving-products/shave-cream-heavy-beard.html for information.

Product Specifications

Zirh Shaving Cream Heavy Beard

Created specifically to provide a smooth glide on even the toughest and roughest beards. Luxurious cream calms the skin, reduces irritation and counters the effects of aging.

Key Ingredients

The Standard #5

successUndeterred by difficult obstacles in his path, the accomplished gentleman understands that he must remain true to his beliefs. Resolute in making decisions regarding his future, he does not let circumstances or individuals negatively influence his actions. Doubt can never become a factor, for doubt is a killer of faith and kidnapper of hope. Nevertheless, this gentleman is acutely focused. All challenges are welcomed. He remains remarkably steady, even in the face of naysayers. And even if success does not arrive expeditiously, he understands patience is an ally of diligence. And together, they will bring forth prosperity. Transforming aspirational dreams into reality, this gentleman never betrays his goals. He never betrays his work. And most important, he never betrays himself. Success feels so much better this way.

Style & Substance – Linen Blend Necktie

Richard James Linen NecktieTo be sure, the artful procedure of dressing well can arrive with an array of anxiety and trepidation. And that should not be viewed as uncommon or surprising. The magic of a perfectly coordinated, immaculately fitted ensemble can surely elicit an erroneous perception of sartorial complexity that proves daunting for any gentleman not deeply entrenched in some serious style. Nevertheless, rejoice gentlemen, dressing oneself with a sophisticated hand is not as mentally taxing as it may seem. Sometimes, a mere departure from your sartorial comfort zone is all a gentleman requires to inject elegance into his wardrobe. So, circling back to the aforementioned comfort zone, let’s talk about one – the necktie zone. Now, standard necktie policy dictates the status quo selection of silk as a gentleman’s first choice. However, with spring on the horizon – don’t worry, it’s coming - I implore the gentlemanly audience to introduce a different type of flavor  to knot around their necks – the linen blend necktie.

Now, a linen blend necktie may arrive in a combination of cotton & linen or silk & linen. The percentage of each textile within the necktie will depend on the selected brand. As a personal favorite, I lean towards cotton and linen. So, what are the advantages of a linen blend necktie over a regular silk necktie? Well, none really. It all depends on taste. However, in the spirit of introducing a creative wrinkle – pun intended - to your necktie rotation, a touch of linen will add a lovely, delicately wrinkled texture that will contrast beautifully with a clean, smooth dress shirt. Given the impending season, a gentleman’s options will become plentiful. If I may further suggest, soft pastels in paisley or plaid are great patterns to complement the spring season. And if those are too bold for your palate, a solid necktie is still a great choice as well.

Heritage – Carter G. Woodson

carter g. woodson 2

  • Carter Godwin Woodson was born on December 19, 1875
  • Graduated from Douglass High School in 1897
  • Became principal of Douglass High School in 1900
  • Earned his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College in 1903
  • Earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Chicago in 1908.
  • Earned doctorate from Harvard University in 1912
  • Historian, educator, author, publisher, and journalist
  • Founder of Association for the Study of African-American Life and History in 1915
  • Authored The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 in 1915
  • Founded The Journal of Negro History 1916
  • Became Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Howard University in 1920
  • Founded The Associated Publishers in 1920
  • Authored The History of the Negro Church in 1922
  • Established Negro History Week in February 1926, which later expanded to Black History Month
  • Authored The Mis-Education of the Negro in 1933
  • Founded the Negro History Bulletin in 1937
  • Died at the age of 74 on April 3, 1950

Daddy Diary – My Best Moments of Being a Dad (Year 1)

Ava & DaddyThis upcoming Sunday, my daughter will finally reach the tender age of one, and it has been a truly amazing experience. I would not trade it in for anything. A question that I received all the time from people was: What is the best part of being a father? Well, that is a tough one to completely nail down. There are many facets that I love and adore dearly. Nevertheless, I have decided to write down some of the best moments that readily come to mind over this past year. So, in no particular order, here are my best moments of being a father during Ava’s first year.

  • That moment when I have retired from work for the day, and as I walk through the door, my daughter will either flash me a big smile from her high chair or crawl over to me and pull herself up on my pants legs – still flashing that big smile.
  • Sleep has been plenty scarce for the past year. Nevertheless, it is always pleasant to be awakened in the morning because your daughter is playing with your face. And as you open your eyes, the first thing you see is a big toothless smile peering at you.
  • And speaking of the scarcity of sleep, sometimes I am also awakened in the middle of the night, as my daughter has sleepily travelled across the bed and found a nice sleeping spot under my armpit.
  • Actually, anytime Ava falls asleep either in my arms, on my chest, or in my lap – the moment is wonderful.
  • Of course, watching Ava reach her milestones (flipping over, crawling, babbling, walking) has been a joy to see. In the back of your mind, you hope and pray that your child’s development proceeds as normal, and presumptuously you assume it will. However, watching the little things finally take shape is truly spectacular. I remember lounging on the couch one afternoon when Ava babbled those words every father anticipates to hear: Dada. Of course she hadn’t made the connection between her babble to the gentleman that was holding her. Nevertheless it made my heart melt with happiness.
  • Given my work schedule, I am the last one out of the house. Thus, I have been assigned the task of getting Ava ready in the morning. And so, we have developed our own little morning routine as I hustle to get us both ready for the day. Whether we sing along with Doc McStuffins’ toy check-ups or dive adventurously into the car seat on our way to daycare; each morning is a different, exciting experience that I love having with my daughter.
  • I would be terribly remiss if I excluded Kenny G from this post. Mr. G. was instrumental during Ava’s early, early weeks of bedtime. Although we don’t listen to Kenny quite as often now, it is amazing to see Ava’s eyes light up and flap her arms when she hears the first few notes of “Alone” kick in.
  • And when Kenny G is not around for any assistance, Ava sometimes sucks on her 2 middle fingers on one hand and tugs on my beard as she goes to sleep with the other hand. Cute.
  • Now, Ava does cry. Sometimes – a lot. I found out early on that she likes looking at herself. I mean…really, really likes looking at herself. So, in times of distress, I would whip out my cell phone and load a picture of her to calm her down. Instantly, she would cease crying, flash that smile, and be completely at ease. Crazy right? And if my cell phone was not readily accessible, I would quickly retreat to a mirror as back-up. Again – cute.
  • That moment when Ava was born. There is no feeling like it. Staying up for almost an entire day, seeing the labor until the end. One minute, she is in your wife’s belly, and the next minute, she is staring at you like, “What’s up?” I don’t think I really slept that night or the next few weeks thereafter. Not because Ava was waking up crying. No. Because, as a newly minted father, you’re paranoid as all get-out. A brother was checking numerous times nightly to see if his angel’s lungs were in working order.
  • File this moment under the blooper files. My wife, bless her heart, reads a lot and likes to try different things. So, she is really big into skin-to-skin contact. The first night home, Stephanie had to use the bathroom, so she handed Ava over to me. Being a big skin-to-skin advocate, she instructed me to take off my shirt. I put up resistance, but I relented. Well, instinctively, Ava mistook my chest for Stephanie’s chest and tried to extract milk from a place that had nothing bear. Suffice it to say, I quickly put my shirt on before things got weird. #milkdon’tcomefromthere LoL

The Standard #35

mistakeToday, I will reluctantly, stubbornly concede this excruciating truth: Sometimes a gentleman can possess an innate, insatiable instinct to be infallible. Yes, we are absolutely incapable of committing mistakes. We are never in the wrong and our lives are conducted free of error. Now, this alternate universe exists, of course, entirely within our subconscious. Nevertheless, a significant number of gentlemen believe this esteemed opinion to be truth. And yes – I am guilty on occasion of holding such foolish beliefs. However, the fact of the matter is we are all susceptible to making mistakes, and even worse, treating other individuals unfairly and unjustly.

Now, in striving to be righteous and honorable gentlemen, it is imperative that we recognize the moment our behavior becomes unflattering and injurious towards another individual. This moment does not warrant any form of excuse or justification. Moreover, the moment does not call for denial or flat-out ignoring that any offense has transpired. No, a gentleman should take ownership of his misdeed, demonstrate honest regret, proffer an apology, and make amends for any wrongdoing if possible. A principled gentleman fully understands that there is dignity and respect in his contrition. He does not cower before the truth of his fallible existence. A key component of being a gentleman is knowing this truth, and never being resistant to apologizing for one’s distressing actions. That is a gentleman’s standard we must diligently strive to uphold.

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