Brotherly Love – Idris Elba

Idris ElbaThe change is unmistakably different, a distant departure from routine covers of scantily clad models, the September issue of Maxim intends to appeal the masculine tastes of a polished gentlemanly audience. Not by entreating the senses with lust-inducing imagery, no, instead Maxim breaks historical protocol and features the epitome of what many consider of brooding sophistication – Idris Elba. And yes, he is the first male to ever grace the cover of Maxim, as the magazine redirects its focus to more refined, cultured material and less on the gratuitous showcase of the female anatomy, which served as pleasing eye-candy, but did not do much in terms of educating the audience regarding style and culture. So, congratulations Mr. Elba for being chosen as representation of Maxim’s reinvention and redirection. Smooth. Stylish. Self-assured.

Style & Substance – Jack Black Dry Down Friction-Free Powder

Jack Black Dry DownRegarding the intimate affairs of gentlemanly grooming, I openly confess that my personal regimen has evolved immensely – largely in part to the creation of this site – over the last few years. My standard carousel of unremarkable soap and lotion has slowly transformed into a collection of sophisticated balms, moisturizers, soaps, and creams. However, a line may have to be drawn with the Jack Black Dry Down Friction-Free Powder. I cannot totally dismiss this latest offering from Jack Black, as I am absent experience in its benefits and qualities. Nevertheless, sprinkling some magical, moisture-absorbing powder down into my nether region seems a bit fussy. If you are an active gentleman, I can totally understand how and why this item would be beneficial. However, I just cannot fathom said gentleman allotting time to address his crotch with powder – unless there is something seriously going on with the sweat glands down there. Alas, I could be totally off the mark with my assessment. Perhaps gentlemen across the globe have been quietly suffering with sweaty privates and I am just totally oblivious. I’m interested to know if any gents out there have any experience with the Jack Black Powder. Please weigh in with your thoughts.

The Standard #30

respectA man who fails to meet or exceed the level of expectation that he smugly demands of others should abstain from such demands in the first place. Intoxicated by grandiose delusions of false importance, said individual will never earn a modicum of respect from his peers, as he will be viewed as a fraud lacking substance and depth. Effective leadership does not consist of hollow rhetoric and anemic work ethic. Effective leadership does not belittle or ignore other viewpoints. An acolyte of arrogance, a practitioner of presumption and pretentiousness – please expect the absence of any deference from other individuals. You will duly receive what you give. A gentleman shall be judged by his deeds and examples. Ensure that you uphold the same standard you will hold others accountable for. Otherwise, a gentleman will never be an owner of credibility. Own your standard. Reinforce your credibility. Rightfully earn the respect from your peers.

Style & Substance – The Wholecut Oxford

Berluti WholecutUnderstated in every facet of the definition, the wholecut oxford affords a beautiful touch of sophisticated subtlety to a gentleman’s footwear rotation. Aptly titled because its construction consists of a single piece of leather stitched to the sole, the uncommon wholecut is seldom recognized in the sartorial mainstream, perhaps because of the labor intensive process to manufacture such a quiet beauty. Nevertheless, if one can afford and locate this elusive, sexy beast from a reputable brand, I would wholeheartedly endorse the venture. Because, in a world of footwear where extravagant aesthetics are lustfully sought after, the wholecut offers next-level elegance, albeit shrouded in a plain exterior. And with its indistinct demeanor, a clever irony cannot be missed: In all of its muted glory; it is this lack of showiness that makes the wholecut stand pronounced away from the rest of the shoe field. Absent decorative distraction and coupled with a high-gloss shine, one cannot help by appreciate the naked aesthetics when paired with a pair of neat, natty dress trousers. Patterned trousers would be my preference to offer some visual contrast, but the choice is your own. If your closet is replete with wingtips, captoes and anything in-between, I would strongly encourage the contemplation of adding a wholecut to your repertoire.

I Feel Blessed – The Tigers Cap

Tigers HatConditioned by the continuous, rudimentary trappings of everyday life, it is not uncommon for a gentleman to become oblivious to the life of privilege and comfort that he routinely enjoys. I am no different. Mundane pleasures such as clothing, sustenance, and shelter can largely exist as invisible, absent the proper appreciation and recognition that is deserved. Such imperceptible pleasures stand as much-required blessing to those individuals deprived and barren of such objects of contentment. Yet many of us partake in our blessings with eyes wide shut to the impoverished masses surrounding us. And as it came to pass one day, I was stirred from awakened slumber to the sight of an older gentleman, wheelchair bound, stationed at a street corner just outside of Costco. Missing both lower limbs, he was armed with the obligatory sign requesting assistance, and attended by a lone, aged radio with a modest array of food dispersed about, as I can assume some good Samaritans donated to him.

Seeing the gentleman, I was deeply moved. So I parked and made my way over to him for some conversation. I asked if he needed anything because I was headed into Costco. Pausing briefly, and referring to me as “brother”, he stated he could not think of anything. I asked if he was sure, and on a second contemplation, he requested a Detroit Tigers baseball cap if I could find him one. He didn’t try to game me, swindle me, or scam me. With the Tigers’ pre-game transmitting from his radio, he only wanted a ball cap. Scanning the area, I saw a few stores that held promise, and I finally settled on a Dunham’s Sports to procure the requested item. Disappearing for about 30 minutes (I had to walk some blocks), the war veteran (assumed by his gear and sign) showed a genuine expression of gratitude and thankfulness. One would not think that a simple Tigers cap would elicit such happiness. But that is what occurs when one takes for granted what another individual may not possess, as I have stood guilty of on many occasion. My word to you: Be thankful of your blessings, and when presented with the opportunity, be a blessing to someone in need.

The Standard #29

MountainHumility. The act of possessing a modest opinion of one’s importance, understanding the complex context of life, and respecting the reality that other individuals may be better at some things than you. Gentlemen, please don’t be mislead by the boisterous musings of silly folk; so enamored by their own greatness that they cannot recognize their own shortcomings. Sometimes a man must recognize his faults and limitations. There is no shame in that. One must understand that embracing humility does not make a gentleman weak, actually, humility strengthens you. It keeps you grounded. It keeps you focused – on the important things in life.

It is brazen arrogance that renders a gentleman vulnerable. Trust this: Keep living and life will eventually happen to you. And life can be the greatest administrator of humility. Recognize your position in life, and even if your station ranks well above others, discipline yourself in humility, as the folly of vanity can ultimately become your undoing. You don’t want to discover this bit of wisdom the hard way, but I am sure that you won’t. Maintain the standard my friends; catch you later.

Style & Substance – The Dotted Dress Shirt

Ted Baker Dot ShirtAdmittedly, a considerable length of time has elapsed since this unconventional trend has become popular. Well, presently, this unorthodox utilization of a dress shirt is starting to influence my sartorial, conservative leanings. True, I am not wholly opposed to stylish risk, nevertheless, I tend to avoid outlandish trends that are more runway spectacle than meaningful, useful style. And so, behold, the dotted dress shirt. Now, this may appear as a European transplant, but I vaguely remember my grandfather owning a dress shirt discreetly speckled with small dots. Not yet of teenage years, and therefore not fully appreciating the function of a dress shirt, I dismissed the oddly patterned shirt as something only my grandfather would wear. Now here we are today, and that peculiar dress shirt that my grandfather once wore has received a modern update. Definitely rakish, totally uncommon; the office has probably never seen a bold dress shirt like this in the boardroom. I may have to take the plunge. The risk is relatively low, and the reward is high on style, smoothness, and attitude. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Daddy Diary – My Best Moments of Being a Dad (Year 1.5)

IMG_2956Continuing in the tradition of my inaugural documentation of my first-year best moments as a father, I wanted to revisit the subject, only this time we are winding towards the 1 and 1/2 year mark. Yes, the terrible-twos will soon upon me and Stephanie. Nonetheless, there have been some really awesome moments that I would like to share since the last time I wrote. And again, in no particular order, here are some of the best moments that I have experienced as a newly minted father. Enjoy.

  • Crawling has slowly transformed into walking, and walking has given way to running. Incoherent babbling has transformed into long strings of incoherent babbling. Thus, the moments when I walk through the door after work and I am greeted with excited squeals and the hurried scamper of feet, the feeling of overwhelming joy is one that is unparalleled.
  • Now, on the contrary – this may seem slightly odd being listed here – when I depart, Ava has taken to the practice of producing a few salty tears, whining with discontent, and even attaching herself to my leg (on occasion both legs) in an attempt to thwart my exit. Now, this was an act only exclusively performed when my wife readied herself for departure. I was now the benefactor of such treatment. No parent wants their child to launch into tirade when they leave – it’s not healthy. Nevertheless, at this stage of the game when the words I love you have not been properly formed, this small act of loving defiance is a reassuring confirmation that my little girl doesn’t to see daddy go, and it slightly warms the heart.
  • Nothing strengthens the bond between father and child more (perhaps I’m exaggerating) than engaging infant bodily fluids in battle. Sure, Ava initiated me into fatherhood with a nice, warm spray of baby urine, but that was nothing. Every father should encounter a bodily fluid moment that pushes him to the limit. I have three good ones under my belt thus far. First episode: The entire family had a bout with the stomach flu. It started with Ava, moved on to my wife, and partially claimed me. That weekend, Ava probably hit me with streams of vomit on 5-6 separate occasions. Coupled with runny diapers – it was a wild weekend. Stephanie was incapacitated, so the entire weekend I was either at the laundromat with our soiled bed comforter, changing Ava’s soiled bed & clothing, going to CVS for medicine & Pedialyte, or trying to stay healthy myself – I was feeling queasy, but the good Lord kept me healthy enough to hold it down for everyone else.
  • The second episode saw me engaging fecal matter that had cleverly escaped Ava’s diaper – Shawshank Redemption style – and totally flooding her onesie with smelly, renegade poop. Changing a runny diaper is a challenge. And stopping a child from reaching into soiled nether regions is also quite a task itself. So, off to the laundry basin I whisked Ava away and armed myself with some latex gloves. I skipped the surgical mask, as it was too cumbersome and hot. It was messy. It was smelly. It was an adventure. Nevertheless, all contaminated articles of clothing were successfully extracted and said infant daughter was thoroughly cleansed of most unpleasant bodily waste.
  • The third episode witnessed me once again engaging infant regurgitation. Except at this juncture, Ava had graduated to adult food, and this wasn’t that adorable little spit-up that infants produce. No, out of nowhere, I was hit with a green, chunky blast that would make Linda Blair of Exorcist fame blush. Even though we were on tile, I instinctively tried to “catch” the contents of my baby girl’s upset stomach with my body to avoid getting it on the floor. I know…I wasn’t thinking at all. Crying out like a baby deer with a busted hoof, I beckoned rescue to my wife upstairs, as I could not move in any direction for fear of tracking the digestive remnants of kale and squash with me throughout the house. In what seemed like an eternity for help to arrive, Ava and I just stood in the middle of the hallway looking at each other, covering in green muck. You have to appreciate moments like those.
  • Okay, on to something more pleasant. I love when Ava runs to a table, grabs a book, and then hurries back to me as she motions for me to read to her. It’s really cute.
  • Feeding my little lady has been a very interesting process. Teaching her how to use utensils and communicate her needs begs patience, but it so very worth the instruction. I even taught her how to “feed” daddy some of her yummy food. That’s really cute too, well, at least to me.
  • Art FairAva had her first art fair in daycare and I bought up what I could that she was involved with – a very proud daddy moment for me. Yes, this picture to the right of her little feet as butterfly wings almost…almost made me cry.
  • In daycare, daily progress reports are given at the end of the day so a parent can read about their child’s day. I love reading about the new things Ava is being introduced to and her interaction with teachers and classmates. I hope I don’t turn into a hoarder, but I have a folder that I keep all her reports in. She’ll probably get a kick out of reading them when she is older.
  • I love daddy and daughter time when we take strolls around the neighborhood either in the stroller or simple walking to and fro, up and down the block.
  • It is simple amazing to watch a child develop the necessary cognitive skills to fully interact with you. One morning, Ava had once again found her way into our bed. Armed with the capability of scaling and traversing any human obstacle in her path to freedom, she attempted to vault over me and onto the floor. Nevertheless, I prevented each attempt. Exasperated and irritated; she suddenly stopped, crawled over to me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and just looked at me. I let her out of the bed. Damn it –  foiled by daddy’s little girl!

Blog Appreciation – Please feel free to share on your social network of choice. Spread a little positivity. Not all fathers, especially fathers of color, fit the mold of a negative stereotype. There are plenty of fathers handling business as men.


Gent Hints – PreShave Oil – Head Shaving

Zirh PrepareToday, I would like to share with the audience an amazing discovery. Actually, it perhaps is not that amazing at all. It was a bit of grooming commonsense that apparently wasn’t common to me at all. Revealed during a perusal through Men’s Health Magazine, I was awakened to the practice of rubbing pre-shave oil into the scalp before shaving. Now gentlemen, in all seriousness, I cannot begin fathom why I never employed the services of pre-shave oil for my head shaving endeavors. I would like to think that the remainder of the civilized, grooming world has long been up to speed with such a ritual. And so, the first opportunity I had to shave, I readily employed the advice as dispensed by Men’s Health – and what a difference it made. The finished product – my freshly shaven bald head – was smoother with far less irritation than past adventures in shaving. Shame on me for not utilizing this tactic long ago. Well, if you are reading this, none of us (assuming you are a fellow bald gentleman) have an excuse going forward with our shaving regimens. The pre-shave oil in concert with your shaving cream will provide a comfortable glide across your scalp, absent the nicks and burn. Happy shaving gents!

The Standard #15

jobsThe following is a gentleman’s public service announcement: An intelligent gentleman understands and appreciates the delicate nature of a recovering job market. Certainly, the employment forecast is becoming brighter, but an astute gentleman demonstrates due diligence during his job search. Never stagnant, he works tirelessly to improve his chances of landing his job of choice. And once the moment arrives when a gentleman is standing before a potential employer, he fully realizes what his primary role is at that time-salesperson. He is a salesperson and the product that he is selling is himself. He soundly demonstrates that his experience and expertise are viable commodities that a future employer wants…no…needs at their company. His career goals are perfectly aligned with the company’s mission and vision. He is supremely confident, yet humble. He superbly demonstrates the ability to work independently, but he is a team player. He clearly shows the drive to continually improve himself and become a valuable asset to the company. By the time his pitch is done, the job is his. No questions about it!


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