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Election day came and America voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Donald Trump, bringing to the fore something we have known for the longest time — Americans will do anything to return the country to a time which never even existed in the first place. When it was great, they think. When was that? Nobody knows. But that’s the thing about hindsight. It’s always 20/20.

They put their faith in a clueless leader who would shovel them head-first into an oven, like Jews in the Holocaust, if it would net him more money, more votes and ultimately, more power.

Two days later, states are still counting votes. In Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina, the votes are still being counted because many people voted by mail, and the GOP mandated votes could not be pre-counted prior to election; thus, the backlog. …

In the fall of 2010, I had the courtesy of interviewing a young rapper, largely unknown out of serious hip-hop circles, named Kendrick Lamar. The interview was for a 300-word profile to be published in XXL magazine, what I believe was the first piece of print journalism done on him.

At the time, he was on the Independent Grind Tour with Tech N9ne, performing a mere 20-minutes each night alongside labelmate Jay Rock, promoting his now-classic mixtape Overly Dedicated.

He was thoughtful and self-assured, wise beyond his years. Though his voice barely rose a register, he saw himself one day being mentioned amongst the legends. Many young artists say this. …

It is good to begin your day with some reading, fifteen or twenty minutes, maybe even thirty, with which you can cleanse your mind of whatever filth you have spent your slumber dreaming up, and rid yourself still of the lingering thoughts, emotions and worries of the previous day.

I would say that it doesn’t matter what you read, but it does; something complicated and heavy, too complex, this can set the mind in motion too early. In turn, you burn out your mental faculties hours before they’re actually firing. …

Sometimes you feel like you have not written enough — at least not publicly. You go a few months without publishing something, a few years, whatever it is, people forget about you. It could be that you’re working on something larger, something less immediate, and you don’t have it in you to keep pushing content out there onto the internet. Maybe you don’t have any deep thoughts, at least not any deep thoughts worth sharing. Maybe you’re in a calm period, the experiences you have more quiet and intimate, less adventurous and, to a laymen, less exciting. You have eased into a steady routine, each day filled less with drama to regale readers with than plain ol’ hard work. …

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Yesterday I went to an estate sale in Morristown, NJ. I have begun going to these sales on the weekends, because I am either interested in buying random ephemera or I am simply bored.

To be honest, it’s hard to tell you exactly what I am hoping to find.

This particular sale was at the home of a man who ran a small recording studio out of his basement, garage and shed. It appeared, from looking at the detritus of what was left, that his main business was corporate clients; all throughout the basement studio, which featured not only a vocal booth but a live room as well, were CDs and tapes of sound libraries, many of which he had either made himself or was using to facilitate his process. …

Last night I began looking, as I often do late in the evening, at photographs that had been taken months ago, a year ago, two years ago. We can do this so very easily now, what with Google Photos, Apple Photos, cloud storage systems that store our photos in perpetuity. There is something to be said about their storage of these photos, how they collect these memories, perhaps harvesting that data for purposes unclear. But this is not that.

No, what I realized looking at these photos, specifically the ones dating to January or February, was how my wife and child smiled in them — how they played, rather carelessly, in the videos that accompanied the pictures. I thought, looking back at them, that this was what life looked like before it all changed, before the virus came, before the cities went up in flames, before the poverty struck, and the deep-seated anger hidden inside of many revealed itself anew. …

People who refuse to wear masks are weird. There are a lot of things you could protest, but protesting masks —a precautionary measure you can use to stop the spread of COVID-19 — seems dumb.

The science on masks isn’t accurate. Maybe they work, maybe they don’t. But like driving on a highway at a hundred miles an hour, it’s just common sense that the slower you go, your chances of crashing decrease.

Not wearing masks then — it’s almost like rebelling for the sake of rebelling. Which makes you think that maybe if the state governments and scientists stopped talking about masks, people might be inclined to wear them just because. …

Went to sleep, last night, in a bit of a weird way. I left my phone downstairs, charging on the charger, and tried to rest the old fashioned way — by simply closing my eyes. It was an interesting experience, if only because I wound up tossing and turning for what, at times, felt like hours. It might have actually been hours, only I wouldn’t have known, since it is not like I had access to a clock or anything. …

Too often, when we are trying to get something done, or at the very least thinking about it, our minds seize on the obstacle instead of the goal.

Our logical brain kicks in — if I do x, then y will happen, leading to problem z.

Which in turn brings us back to x, making us pause, and reconsider x at all. There are too many y’s, we think. Might as well not bother.

But, this is all wrong. And I’ll tell you why. Consider basketball.

Basketball is a game in which the team that wins is the one that outscores the other. Back and forth, the ball goes down the court, and each trip down, the team with the ball tries to score. …

Rick Rubin has a podcast on which he interviews different musicians. A few months ago he had Rza on. It’s an interesting conversation.

Rza talks about growing up in Staten Island, the early days of hip-hop, about visiting China, taking pilgrimages, communism, religion, a bunch of different subjects.

A few other things jumped out at me. One, when Rick asks what smoking has contributed to Rza’s life, Rza says he realized, about five years ago, that all his best work was made when he was sober. Enter the Wu-Tang, for example, was made when he was sober. …


Paul Cantor

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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