As a child, my parents encouraged me to journal. This was pre-Internet, before blogs; at the time, it was popular for kids to scribble their private thoughts in padlocked diaries at bedtime. I doodled cartoons and wrote bad jokes or riddles. I also mulled over broader philosophical questions and I thought a lot about race. “Race is mankind’s greatest question,” I jotted down, “and knowing mankind, there is no answer.” Maybe it was around the LA Riots in 1992 or perhaps I had just learned about Vincent Chin or the internment camps, but I wasn’t unique in wondering these things. As we grow up, we are confronted with the stark reality of race, a reality that we chew and digest for the rest of our lives. Even when I speak to my own children about race, they are confused. Why are we designed in different colors? Especially when those categories are so politically charged and can cause division and injury?
My brother Larry, a pastor in Boston, was on the sidewalk. “Hey, Chinese guy!” this man yelled. “Are you gonna cross the road or do Kung-Fu?” Instead of picking a fight or swallowing the remark, Larry approached the driver with a word of introduction. It wasn’t until they were talking that Larry realized the man was wearing a The Hundreds hat. Over the course of a patient conversation, they actually became friendly. As he was driving off, the man told my brother, “Only real gangsters can wear The Hundreds!”
Sometimes, this anecdote reads as hopeful, sometimes I laugh at the absurdity. But mostly, I’m infuriated. Why did this dude feel the need to level a stranger like that? As I write about in my book, racism abbreviates a complete human being. I think that’s why it’s so viscerally repulsive. It’s beyond ignorant and uneducated. It’s against our nature.
I’m older now and as lost as ever on why race exists. Sure, it provides community and endows people with a firm, distinct identity. But, perhaps race also gives people a reason to cross the street and meet at an intersection. I think about the world that white supremacists want and the homogeneity sounds incredibly boring, if not depressing. Race, meanwhile, is an immediate distinction between you and another person, one that can be a curious unknown. What if differences aren’t meant to keep apart, but to coaelsce? What if borders between nations aren’t there to demarcate, but to bind together? All these years later and I’m in the same place. I do have to say, however, that I was wrong about knowing mankind there would be no answer. I think mankind IS the answer.
There were two instances of men picking fights with me today. One was in the water, right here off the shoulder on PCH. I found myself embroiled in a surf entanglement, ironically against ocean spray and the bluest sky. A hunched, older man – a salty dog – accused me of intruding on his wave and denied my apology. His bloodshot eyes bulged, his fists pounded his board like a toddler throwing a tantrum. I felt bad for this curmudgeon; he was consumed by an unbridled rage that preceded this argument and he’d be bound to for years to come. Any retort I could’ve given would pale in comparison to the toxins that orbited his universe.
The other, a streetwear beef thing. Even sillier. A snarky Instagram dig by a bitter ex-friend, a gossipy sizzle amongst the community. This news broke when I was out enjoying the holiday with my children. I was treating them to a trip to the Pokemon card shop. This individual did his best to steal our afternoon together. I didn’t give him the opportunity.
“Hate is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
It was either Buddha, Malachy McCourt, or Mandela who said it best (When quotes are hard to place, that tells me that they’re universally felt). So much of my young life was articulated by Hate, but anger and vitriol hold less meaning to me with time. I see them for what they are: impediments, nuisances. I’m on a mission, I wake up each morning with purpose, and Hate’s only job is to distract me from my goal. Or to derail me entirely. Fuck that. I don’t have enough time.
My problem is that Hate feels warm and familiar. It’s galvanizing and electric. Whether I’m projecting that energy or on the receiving end, it’s a shiny new toy to gnaw on. But, Hate takes more than it gives. It eats so much bandwidth. Like coming off a howling bender, Hate saps us of strength and leaves us cold and confused. It’s a debilitating, unmerciful cancer in the form of a fidget spinner.
Hate is a waste of everything, I really don’t know why we have it. I’m simply not interested. I’ve got so much to do and so much love to accept.
Tonight, I choose to sleep peacefully, having seen my children and our memories of today clearly.
It was just a couple months ago that I wrote primers on NFTs to help orient our audience around the crypto art wave. Today, Non-Fungible Tokens have gone mainstream, starring in Saturday Night Live skits, with celebrities like The Weeknd and Takashi Murakami partaking, and brand names like Funko and Taco Bell onboard. The music industry has been shaken, the art world has been tested, NFTs are growing so fast that they’ve already survived a couple cancel-culture cycles.
Yet, as forward and futuristic as this all is, NFTs are spiritually rooted in the decades-old cultural phenomenon of Streetwear. Consider how NFT marketplaces work on a Drop schedule, the Limited Edition nature of the goods, and the emphasis on secondary market resale. Every time I meet a leader in crypto art, they readily acknowledge how NFT practitioners are inspired by the collectability, coolness, and rarity of brands like Supreme, Off-White, and Nike.
Two of those pioneers were John Watkinson and Matt Hall, the “creative technologists” behind CryptoPunks: the very first NFT. In early 2017, Matt and John ran an experiment, assembling 10,000, 8-bit style, punk characters, each one of them with unique attributes. They gave them away for free, and for the most part, those images sat uneventfully online for a few years. In 2020, with the pandemic pushing us deeper into our phones, life in the metaverse started making a lot more sense, as did digital ownership. CryptoPunks exploded.
Today, those digital Punks are flipping for anywhere between $40,000 and $7.5 Million USD (!). Because there’s such a limited supply of these collectables, there’s all sorts of speculation. Some believe Punks will be the last NFT standing. There’s even a theory that the couple thousand Punk owners out there will one day be the richest in the world. On the ground level, Punks have been adopted as identities – oftentimes as a crypto collector’s avatar – if not a badge that says you’re a member of the NFT tribe.
Tomorrow (Sunday) night, The Hundreds is releasing a very special collaboration with CryptoPunks. Matt and John wished to keep it ultra-limited (50 hats for sale). They also wanted to make the actual Purple Hat (a trending, trademark Punks attribute). And for whatever reason, they requested we stick to the Zombie (instead of the Alien, Gorilla, or a straight-up Punk). This snap-back embodies many firsts: their first collab, our first time working with a crypto artist… It also bridges the physical collector’s space and the crypto world. To me, it brings NFTs and Streetwear full circle. And The Hundreds is right there, in the center of it all.
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
– Pema Chodron
So, when they said robots would one day destroy us, I pictured square steel monsters shooting laser beams from their eyes. Or, something more eerie and android: superhuman, zombie armies of cyborgs in the vein of I, Robot or Terminator. I never imagined these robots would sneak up under our noses in the shape of phone apps and home assistant devices with people names. Recording our behavior, selling our data off to corporations so that they could find us and drown us with material distractions and debt.
These robots would feed our insatiable appetite for information, and once we were hooked, indulge us with an impossible amount of news and content to absorb – ungodly helpings that drive a human mad with anxiety or worse, contempt with self-righteousness.
These killer robots powered “social networks,” which were put in place to further isolate us into our echo chambers, turn brother against sister, and dupe us into baring our most private and unformed thoughts with total strangers. Social networks stoked our primitive desire for acceptance by coaxing us to share our darkest secrets – the ones meant for our community to help us face and process – not suitable for a public square or even less forgiving, the court of public opinion.
Robots removed context from our narrative, they stripped us of nuance that makes us complex and human. Robots auto-tuned our art, they made us comparative instead of competitive. We traded brilliance for convenience. We didn’t want the best of anything as much as we wanted it fast and plenty, so that we could have more time. To do what with exactly? Tend to our robots.
Robots made us mediocre and unhealthy – not just in body, but of mind. They stole our most valuable asset – our attention –and made the world endless and exhausting, so we were never fulfilled. We assumed we weren’t enough for ourselves, but really, we just weren’t enough for a robot world.
These robots convinced us that our disagreements were irreparable; ideas outside of our own were laughable at best, and at worst, to be extinguished. Only the loudest and most severe voices were given preferential treatment by the robots, not the factual and prevalent as these were construed as pedestrian. We only had time now for splashy headlines, not bodies of stories. A newspaper that runs solely on headlines is neither fair nor real, but we took them for truth. And with the aid of the robots, we then published our own news and truths and nobody cared about news and truth anymore.
The robots didn’t sleep or rest. They worked forever, without food or vacations or healthcare. The men who hired these robots were happy with their choice, so that they could make more money to buy more robots. These robots took on the work we didn’t want to do, and then they stole the work we needed to do, and so we were left purposeless.
And in this way, robots defeated us. It didn’t happen one day, but over many, and it wasn’t the robots at first, but our greed, our narcissism, and our apathy that walked the robots in. Until one day, we sat up and realized that the robots surrounded and controlled us, and we didn’t know how to manage our lives without their guidance or assistance. They were as much a part of our identity as we were of theirs. As with a dogwalker who is being dragged by a wayward beast, it became trickier to determine who owned who.
The one thing these robots could never be was broken. Conversely, we needed to be fixed always. The only ones who could help us do that, we remembered, were the others like us. We were naturally equipped with tools like empathy and compassion to heal. With arms to hold and eyes to tear. The restorative process, the human bonding, were inefficient in the robots’ opinion. There was no financial incentive in bridging relationships. It took too much time. It was boring. Yet, we were engineered to need Love and give Love and in this way, the robots were confounded and useless.
We were reminded then that robots are made better and perfect and exciting. And we were never meant to be so. What made us valuable were our imperfections and shortcomings and failures. Because in those errors – those weaknesses – was room for growth, which is what life is all about, isn’t it? Progression. Our existence isn’t just about winning the race or knowing the most. It’s about running and tripping, and then learning and advancing.
The next morning, we awoke and acknowledged the greatest collective mistake. We had granted the robots too much room in our lives and far too much credit. They made us faster and stronger, but we were already fast and strong. They made us money and showered us with glory, but we had enough and were inherently glorious. The robots needed us to have purpose, not the other way around. From then on, we lived with them and still used them, but we were glad to not be stainless like them. And, we were happy to realize this together.
A couple of years ago, Gary Vaynerchuk invited me to a DM groupchat about investing in baseball cards. I didn’t get it. I mean, I grew up trading cards and still have my 3-ring binders, but I didn’t understand the mechanics of sports collectibles as modern investments. For decades, 40-year-old virgin hoarders – I mean collectors – have been jeered for believing that stockpiling Garbage Pail Kids and Star Wars figures in our youth would ever amount to a retirement payout. Being a 40-year-old virgin hoarder myself, I was skeptical.
“Bobby, trust me,” Gary texted, “Buy this LeBron card on eBay. It’ll grow in value.” I didn’t. And Gary turned out to be right. It was a thousand dollars at the time, but today, that card is hundreds of thousands. I had it right in front of me and I blew it! I’ll be honest. Sometimes, it nags at me that I could’ve effortlessly made 5x my money flipping rookie cards over selling clothing.
If you were around when social media started, you remember this word: FOMO. In 2004, author Patrick J. McGinnis coined the acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out” in response to the nature of smartphones and Instagram reminding everyone that they weren’t a part of something that could make their life better. At the time, these important moments were parties or TV shows. “How do you not know about this?!” FOMO was born out of fear of being left behind, left out of the conversation, and stems back to a childhood anxiety of being the last one picked on the playground.
FOMO never left the social media experience. It just mutated like a COVID variant. In the worst sense, I think people grew so aware of FOMO, that they learned how to weaponize it and capitalize on it to either injure or manipulate others (Marketers can attest to that…). FOMO is also what’s catalyzed politics and activism over the last several years. People fear not having the information to keep them safe from racists, from a virus, even from shame and cancellation for not speaking the correct vernacular or moving about their social life in accordance with a standard of responsibility. And whether we’re conscious of it or not, FOMO is now baked into a weekly Wednesday cycle of current affairs. How do you not know about Nik’s Dior Jordans at the inauguration, GameStop stonks, Bitcoin all-time-highs, and the Texas freeze?! As fragmented as the Internet has made us and our interests, we are all more rhythmically bound to the same water-cooler moments than ever.
Lately, I’ve been sharing a lot about cryptomedia and NFTs. The response has been overwhelming from fellow artists who want to tap into the space to get their work seen. But, I’ve also noticed this frantic alarm from creators who feel like they’re too late. Many feel frustrated for not entirely understanding the concept. They’re banging down the Clubhouse doors trying to access the information and are worried they’re losing out on that “better life.”
For one, FOMO is a collective lie. Your better life is always the one in front of you, with the resources and relationships at your disposal. Secondarily, especially with zeitgeist trends, have faith that the worthy ideas take time and thoughtfulness to sustainably build. NFTs will take years to properly coalesce as a mainstream infrastructure. The truth is nobody totally understands it; we are constructing the definition together, making history, every passing day. Bitcoin’s been around for a little over a decade and just now does it seem like the world is taking it seriously. Like cryptocurrency, NFTs are an (ALT) investment, and a long-term investment at that. This is not only an investment in digital collectibles, but an investment in thinking differently about ownership, new financial systems, a revised approach to wealth sharing and how art is appreciated.
A month ago, Gary tweeted, “Sports cards and Pokemon ect (sic) – graded cards are about to have a wild explosion… most think they missed it .. it hasn’t even started.” And, I agree. Just the fact that you’re wondering about NFTs and baseball cards right now means you’re ahead of the curve. And if you’re not? If you miss the curve completely (Like I did with that LeBron card)? That’s totally fine also. One thing I’ve learned is that having the knowledge and access to an opportunity is not enough juice to seize it. You also have to hold the passion and care, otherwise you won’t last. Different hearts are wired to latch onto different loves, so don’t dive into a venture simply because you’re afraid of missing the boat. There’s another boat out there specifically tailored for you. And you won’t be the one swimming after it. You’ll be driving it.
As you know, the media has been reporting a recent rise in hate crimes towards Asian-Americans, especially the elderly. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating. But, I’m not gonna outline infographics, share anecdotal experiences with racism, or teach an Asian-American history lesson here. There are better-informed activists and leaders who’ve done the work (see @amandangocnguyen @nextshark). Truthfully, I found myself between a rock and a hard place in posting something about this. I wanted to be thoughtful and impactful in how I responded. I also didn’t want this to be some viral social justice trend that Americans are granting space for, just because there’s not another “more pressing” activism matter to tend to right now. Because the cold and gnawing reality is that none of this is new. You can Google articles from a decade ago covering trends of physical assaults against our Asian grandparents in SF and NY Chinatowns. Even last year, as COVID erupted and Trump leaned into his “Kung Flu” rhetoric, the Asian-American community circulated daily nightmares of innocent victims being painted with epithets or harmed. But, unless you are Asian-American or have positioned yourself in our spaces, you probably didn’t hear much of it. I waited a while to say something because I didn’t want to be emotional and reactionary. Sensational moments can be fleeting and I want to leave this permanent mark: Hate towards Asian-Americans is NOTHING NEW. Although the statistics are higher, the biggest reason why these reports are in your face is that We are getting louder. Even though we’re few, there are more of us in this country than ever, we are emboldened, better organized, and uniting our efforts. This might be the story of the month and in March, we’ll find a new topic to be outraged about. Meanwhile, Asian-Americans will still be getting attacked, spit on, and discriminated against. But you know what? We’re also still gonna be here, plotting, mobilizing, and building. The next time you pay attention to us, we’ll look differently to you. And then it’ll get to the point where you won’t be able to forget our grandparents, our communities, our stories. You won’t step over us.
And then, I realized I don’t need to be known as a great writer.
I just want to do great writing.
Two totally different things.
Legendary downtown photographer Ricky Powell died this week, leaving behind a lifetime’s worth of hip-hop history gold. Jensen Karp called him, “the man who photo’d absolutely everything I’ve ever thought was cool,” much of that attributed to frozen moments in time with rappers like LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, and RUN DMC. Along with Glen E. Friedman, Estevan Oriol, Craig Stecyk, and Chi Modu, my own foray into photography in the ‘90s was inspired by cultural documentarians like Ricky Powell.
In fact, there was a season where photography led my career aspirations. I grew up shooting film at concerts and skate sessions, but I most enjoyed taking people’s portraits. In the early 2000s, DSLRs and editing programs lowered the barrier-of-entry to the practice. Smartphone cameras empowered laymen to be savvy photographers. It became harder to distinguish whether someone was a serious shutterbug or hobbyist. Then, the Internet democratized content and social media became a media free-for-all (Or a freefall, depending on how you look at it).
Years ago, I shopped my photography portfolio to some select art galleries only to discover that many of them had a policy of not curating photo shows. I then toyed with the idea of producing a photo book but was promptly told by mainstream publishers that photo books are a tough sell.
“Well, what do I do with all these photos I’ve been shooting since I was 12 years old? Live photos from punk shows and ‘90s skaters and world travels?”
“Put them where everyone else puts them: Instagram.”
I love the medium of photography. Some of my pictures mean more to me than the clothing I design and sell. Yet, the marketplace tells me that unlike a physical product, photos aren’t worth as much because they’re easily replicable, drag-and-droppable, and digitally disposable. And it’s not just photography. GIFs and JPEGs, memes, captions, MP4s. Whichever the file extension, we’ve grown accustomed to offering our creative output for free. We’ve been trained to believe that nobody owns anything on the Internet. Online media is to be liberally sourced and shared with all. And there is no monetary value in a tweet or a TikTok.
But, that’s not true. Your social media posts do make money. It’s just that you don’t see any of it. Your gorgeous photographs, compelling essays, and motion graphics draw attention to platforms like Facebook and Google, which churn advertising dollars off of all those eyeballs. You do all the hard work. They make the money from it. And now that you see it that way, isn’t it incredibly unfair?
I have good news. Over the past few years, but really in the last 12 months, there’s been a revolution welling up to reclaim value and ownership in digital art. There is finally a way to restore much of the meaning and value that have been lost with – what is now coined as – cryptomedia. And that’s through blockchain technology and Non-Fungible Tokens. Or NFTs.
What is an NFT?
Do you remember the Art Basel banana? In late 2019, a duct-taped banana sold at the Miami art fair for $120,000. But, of course, bananas rot, so why would anyone pay that much for a perishable installation? What the patron was actually buying wasn’t the physical banana itself, but the certificate tied to the fruit. The artist Maurizio Cattelan clarified that the mushy, decomposing banana can always be swapped out. But, there’s only one certificate, and that’s where the value existed.
NFTs are those certificates recorded on Ethereum blockchain. *Heads up, I’m not gonna attempt to explain bitcoin or how blockchain technology works (You can dive deep into a Reddit or Wiki for that). For all intents of this essay, all you need to know is that if the banana is a metaphor for your cryptoart (a photo you shot, a song you recorded, a meme you passed around), you can now mark it – or mint it – as an NFT. It’s now listed in the blockchain and universally recognized by the world that you are the rightful owner of the work. Which, means that you can sell it. It also means you can buy other people’s NFTs.
Where does this all go down? Decentralized marketplaces like Nifty Gateway, Rarible, Superrare, and Zora. How much money are we talking here? Cryptomedia made headlines in December when Instagram artist Beeple sold 20 of his pieces for $3.5 Million. The more sensational story, however, is the thousands of everyday artists who are striking overnight success and notoriety in this digital gold rush. Estimates are that over $8 Million of cryptoart changed hands over the month of December.
On Christmas Day, Sean Williams, a former Cartoon Network intern, accidentally kicked a hole in his wall. As an experiment, he placed a frame around the gash, snapped a photo of it, and minted it on the Superrare platform. One week later, on New Year’s, Sean accepted an offer of 7 ETH for his cryptoart, entitled “Idiot.” 7 ETH, as of this writing, converts to roughly $11,000.
Who is buying this stuff?
I love this question, because it’s one that I’ve been personally hearing my entire career:
“Why would anyone spend $300 on some basketball sneakers?”
“$500 for denim with holes in it? What’s wrong with some $50 Levis?”
“Who is paying thousands of dollars for a T-shirt? Just because there’s a red box on it?”
There’s a lot of money floating around out there, especially these days with stimulus checks and stonk surges. And there’s a market for everything. We can compare an $11,000 Amir Fallah painting to $11,000 “What the Dunks” or a fancy $11,000 Napa dinner with Screaming Eagle wine. It’s relative. One or none of these items may mean as much to you as Sean’s photo, but there are consumers out there who will readily justify each expense down to the penny.
Granted, gambling speculators are stirring much of the frenzied activity around cryptoart right now. These are the same types of people who bet big when bitcoin first broke or squatted on domain names or hedged their investments on real estate in the 2000s. They believe that cryptoart may very well be the next big thing for the Internet. And, although $11,000 is a lot of money for a digital photograph of a hole, it pales compared to the upside of millions if this is the next Banksy, or billions if it’s the next Mona Lisa.
I still don’t get it. Why would you want to own a digital piece of media if it can be downloaded onto anyone else’s computer? Wouldn’t you prefer a physical possession (e.g. a 1-of-1 oil painting) instead, to ensure that – and brag to your friends – that it’s the original?
Speaking of Christmas, at the crack of dawn, my boys tore through their meticulously wrapped presents under the tree. Santa gifted them board games, action figures, books, and remote-controlled robots. However, to our dismay, they spent about 35 minutes playing with their new toys before diving back into Fortnite. For many children today, their realities and social scenes exist within the digital framework of video games. What does it matter if you have a Baby Yoda doll or new Jordans if you can’t flex them to your peers in the gaming universe? It’s more important to stack digital assets inside the games instead, like back-bling or spray. I could literally hand my kids a $100 bill and they wouldn’t know what to do with it. Instead, they’d ask, “Daddy, can you convert that to Fortnite V-bucks?”
As bizarre and disheartening as this sounds for the kids, you’re no different. You spend more time digitally interacting with your friends than seeing them in person. You’d rather curate your page instead of decorating your home. You can hang a painting in your living room for your 25 guests a year. Or, you can take a photo of the painting and post it to your social media where thousands of followers will appreciate it.
You can even rotate cryptoart through a digital picture frame: A sunset photograph, Trump’s “covfefe” tweet, a Beeple IG video, an NBA Top Shot digital basketball card. Although each slide is a Google Images click away, you can take pride that you own the unique certificate to each of these masterpieces. And that somebody, somewhere, is willing to buy it from you.
So, why are you so excited about this?
I’m still figuring this out. Cryptoart and NFTs are so new that history is being made every hour of every day. Most of the insightful editorial, podcasts, and YouTube thinkpieces on the subject matter have been recorded in the last month or so. Last night, a new marketplace called Foundation sprouted up. And this next week, The Hundreds will be the first clothing brand to mint NFTs against our Spring season’s collection of T-shirt graphics.
I think what inspires me the most is that creators will finally be able to make the money they deserve from their hard work. Facebook is a half-a-trillion-dollar company while many young artists are struggling to make rent. Although the financial rewards aren’t the only things that matter in making art, money and compensation help to provide a safe and secure environment to create. And it cuts the lie that your art doesn’t hold value or that nobody cares to pay for your work. They do. The market is there. Its just that instead of paying you, the clientele’s been paying the social media companies with their time and attention.
Every ten years or so, there’s a paradigm shift with the Internet. First, it was the transition from portal sites to Google. In the 2010s, social networks not only flipped how we interacted with each other, but how we consumed content. Could cryptomedia and NFTs indicate the next wave of how we consider and use the Internet? One where everyone, not just artists, stand to benefit as far as property ownership and profitability are concerned?
That shit is bananas.
A special Thank You to Trevor McFedries, Dee Goens, Sean Williams and Charlie Rosenthal for teaching me the wonders of NFT. And yes, I did mint this essay on Zora.
If you read my book, there are a couple quotes that resonate louder tonight in light of the GameStop short squeeze.
1) “Streetwear doesn’t die. It multiplies.”
Streetwear is not a product relegated to T-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers. It’s an attitude and business strategy that can apply to other industries and marketplaces. For decades, streetwear brands like Supreme and sneaker sellers pioneered the “hype” business model of limited-edition drops fueled by anti-establishment, culture-based groundswells. These days, the most successful businesses – from tech startups to restaurants to furniture makers – understand the power of intentional scarcity, Veblen goods, and capitalizing on the hype economy. For the streetwear-minded, this week’s stock market shakeup is thrilling, but not confusing or unexpected. We are used to watching young communities rally together to up-end systems. Our culture thrives off of momentum-based runs, inspired by emotional, social movements. We know how to make something out of nothing, manufacture trends, and toy with perceived value. I spoke to a traditional finance friend this morning who remarked that, “None of this makes sense.” Baffled garmentos said the same about our $30 T-shirts and $150 Dunks twenty years ago.
2) “People used to buy streetwear because nobody else wore it. Now, they buy it because everyone else is wearing it.”
As evidenced by stonks and bitcoin collectables like cryptomedia and NFTs, our culture is transitioning from “standing out” to “fitting in.” It used to be cool to be the outsider, now everyone wants to be first in line as an insider. I can write another essay about why this is (and the threat of compromising individuality in pursuit of community), but we are clearly LONGING for BELONGING (see political tribalism). In her 2017 essay, “My Collectible Ass,” McKenzie Wark writes, “The future of collecting may be less in owning the thing that nobody else has, and more in owning the thing that everybody else has.” Again, very streetwear. When we share the cheat codes and mobilize together, all boats rise.
From destabilized government to toppling industries, the upheaval and decentralization are interconnected. Without quality leadership, we have appointed ourselves the Leaders. With unfettered access to information, the old guard – the gatekeepers – can’t keep the people at bay. We at The Hundreds like to say, “Strength in Numbers,” in reference to the community and it’s days like today that reveal the Might of the Many. I’m hopeful, entertained, and scared out of my wits at how fast and violently this is all happening. But, as any hypebeast will tell you, it’s been a long time coming. And it’s about to get really fun.
Love doesn’t follow a straight line.
On this Inauguration Day, it stands that my interpretation of being an American is one who holds its leaders accountable, recognizes that dissent is not disloyalty, and takes its government to task for any self-serving corruption. At some point in their terms, I’ve protested every single President since I was a teenager. Although I voted for Barack Obama, I was one of many who marched against his administration’s immigration policies (I shot this photograph in 2012), spoke out against his signing of the NDAA in 2011, and drew red circles around his drone killings. Now that Joe Biden is in office, we must continue to do our part. We, the people. We, the largest and most powerful branch of government. Just because Trump’s left office, doesn’t mean that these antiquated systems are fixed, that white supremacy is erased, or that politicians uncoil themselves. Today has been a breath of fresh air and there’s much to celebrate. Exhale. Tomorrow, we march on.
Your prejudiced ways – are so fucked up
Your mind’s so dense – look inside yourself
You’ve closed your mind
I can’t get in
Look at color – not within
How many must die
In front of your eyes
Use your brain – help to stop
War Between Races
Gun to my head
Knife to your back
Nowhere to run
I wonder how – it all started
Time is now to stop and think
You might be next, watch your back
You’ve got a choice – tie to act
War Between Races
Gun to my head
Knife to your back
Nowhere to run
Your prejudiced ways – are so fucked up
Your mind’s so dense – look inside yourself
– Warzone, 1995