Shooting Down Consumer Culture

As I am sure everyone is aware of the tragic shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church had quite the ripple into American culture. From a micro scale to a macro scale, this shooting had an effect on my Westside Neighborhood, to the town of Charleston, and ultimately the entire country in a different spheres of our society. On a smallerl scale, members of the community that did not normally attend church (like my white roommate) went to church after a staggering amount of time never entertaining the thought. He actually got a seat at Emanuel AME the following Sunday and said the service was moving.

Unfortunately, this didn’t push me to the edge of enlightenment, but it did give me an excuse to check out the outside world. I followed the city’s twitter to figure out the events happening in the aftermath. I saw the Unity Chain from the base of the Ravenel Bridge. This gave me a kind of paradoxical feeling after a shooting, safety. The fact that Charlestonians were gathering together on a Sunday night, outside on the streets, before a busy work week to mourn and repair a broken community felt safe and comfortable. Nobody was lighting fires, rioting in the streets, blaming the cops, or screaming for reform. Instead we were gathering for peace and showing the victims’ families they do not stand alone.

The following week, still unemployed, I headed Southeast toward the public library. Still unsure of where I was going, Siri took me right past Emanuel AME. “Go .5 miles and turn Right,” Siri said, so I stopped in front of the church. I took a couple pictures of the white building with their immaculate stairway about one story tall. I saw Charlestonians laying flowers, those close to the victims bearing each other in their arms, and a pastor not upset, but giving forgiveness to the shooter, just as the victim’s families did to the shooter himself. Yet another example of the character of our new home. Regardless, images of the shooter came to mind. His Confederate Flags advertised in the yard, flame bearing hands, and blank face staring at the camera.

While I saved the pictures and mounted my noble steed I caught these blinding lights to my right and up on a podium, about 6 feet above me was Anderson Cooper in between live recordings of the scene downtown. How about them apples. This man would be the one to make the difference. From the little Westside Neighborhood, to all the people on the peninsula, this guy who could not only report but also exemplify the circumstances just well enough to make a change. It was almost as if everything leading up to his report from the following Sunday sermon, the Unity Chain, the gatherings instead of rioting, were enough to make political and economic waters that remained calm for decades, finally surge over a wall called change.

In the month after the shooting we have seen a variety of changes occur in the city of Charleston, the state of South Carolina, and the United States. In Charleston, bouquets of flowers and a memorial still stand in front of Emanuel AME. After more than two decades, the Confederate Flag was taken down of our State House, but outside of the politics the economic sphere finally had a much larger social impact. Walmart and Amazon had ceased the sales of all Confederate flag merchandise. I thought this was the determining factor that the victims of the shooting did not die in vane.

American is driven by what we purchase, whether it is a gold necklace of a cross, organic groceries, brand new pimped out whip with custom paint and 24’s; what we buy defines our culture and the future of what we and others that follow us believe. Without the sales of Confederate Flags in the future, American citizens who would potentially purchase the flag for years to come will slowly but surely lose the culture that is associated with them. I am not forgetting about the old timers who fly their Stars and Bars with pride on the farm, it will take time, but their grandchildren won’t be able to purchase their own when grand pappy’s flag is worn and torn. Like all good things, erasing an ugly culture from our past will take time.

Our hearts will be with the victims families, but they know that their loved ones did not die in vane. Their sacrifice is preventing future generations of hateful people from purchasing a lot of the goods we see on the backs of trucks, in the heart of Dixie’s front yards, and in possession of the shooter of Emanuel AME Church. Racist parents of potentially racist children will not see the flag as they walk past the South Carolina state house anymore and Charleston will be changed for years to come. Tourists will continue to walk down Calhoun Street as they have for years, but will always be reminded of the shift in currents that occurred in June 2015.


New Bikes & Hot Sauce

My transition into Charleston has been full of highs and lows, but I am quickly realizing how opportunistic a local must be. I remember in March when I first came to Chucktown for my first interview, I rounded the corner of the Vendue and Church and saw a graveyard. Passing a few authors I looked up and saw the grave site of John C Calhoun. There I felt the culture of the city, the past, present, and my future.

After spending the past two weeks in my new home, I quickly figured out downtown life in Charleston is both closely knit, but  compartmentalized. My first week was nothing but chaos, trying to get geographically settled and more importantly trying to find a job. While driving in my car I took wrong turns down One Ways, ran through stop lights, and even stopped in parking lots just to figure out where I was coming from and headed to.

I quickly realized a bike was necessary. My bike provided a more comfortable feel  that conformed me to the city. I rode to the barbershop, down to Rainbow Row, and around the harbor to find a couple fishing spots. Some of the people I met were awesome. Jacqueline, an eccentric local who enjoys crabbing filled me in about her new entrepreneurial opportunity. Ghetto Country Hot Sauce. Bottled up in mason jars is a sweet, but spicy hot sauce that kicks the back of your throat when on shellfish, seafood, chicken, and more. That day I had the opportunity to help Jacqueline out. She needed labels and I knew how to make them. Now she is distributing her hot sauce at every Caribbean market on the Peninsula!

Things mostly slowed down after that, I got hired for a company that does Door to Door for AT&T. I said no thanks after a week. Something about spending 70 hours a week on walking the streets, bothering neighbors, and sweating my ass off just did not seem as good as the pay check had to offer. Back to my life of running in the morning and writing throughout the day. The coolest part about Chucktown has got to be the history. Every day I pass that graveyard on my bike toward the library and Waterfront Dog Park. I know the only history I will make here will be the history I write for myself.

Waiting for Flight

Sitting Waiting Writing

That’s the only thing we can do…well besides drink, while I sit here waiting for US Airways flight 5172 to take off. We were about to pull out when suddenly an known fluid strikes the ground. There is a reason for everything. Air traffic control rushes onto the scene and stops us immediately and it is another 35 minutes before take off. So I got a double shot of Jack, got my pen out, and started writing another installment of The Trials of Gonzalo. 

Through one more outline and five more character sketches I realized that my writing is the thing that controls my impatient tendencies. All the anger, all the frustration, all the negative energy that the other forty passengers are feeling…I do not feel. Call me an optimist or better yet a optimistic symbolist, but this really is not too shabby.
I use to have a problem with waiting and wasting time over little things. Now all I see is opportunity to create, opportunity to design and justify an idea that may have potential to become something great. I am just happy I give those ideas a chance now instead of being wrapped up in what I could be missing out on.

A Long Day’s Journey: My First Research Conference

April 8th marked a great day in my academic career. UNC Pembroke holds an annual symposium for undergrads to show their research through our PURC (Pembroke Undergraduate Research & Creativity) program. During December of 2014 I was accepted to the program and earned a grant to continue my research. I presented my poster for Innovative Authors: Charles Dickens and Modern Marketing at the symposium. The project started as a Senior Seminar paper 2 years ago. While I investigated my interests in marketing, I noticed Charles Dickens was the Original Gangsta in the marketing industry and my interests quickly took over.

Fast forward to the morning of the 8th and I get to look at the finished product of my poster, view here-(PURC Poster). When I arrived for registration I immediately got some coffee at 8:00 in the morning, then did my rounds throughout the catacombs of the posters. There was art, bio projects, and literary reviews, but nothing that used two different disciplines as I did with English & Marketing so I naturally began to worry as the judges started making their rounds.

The conference started out with a few speeches from presenters that went from a Victorian literary review to the difference in a computer science degree and information science degree (A friend and I looked puzzled over how a grant was given for basically a blog post), but I was starting to get nervous for the poster competition. So nervous my mom ran back to my apartment and got me a plaid shirt so as I could hide my pit stains.

During the poster competition, I knew I would get foot traffic from the supermodel posed with a Hardee’s burger right next to Dickens, but I did not know the mixed feelings people would have. As the male judges and professors walked by they immediately gave a chuckle, talking to me about key points that I went over and over the night before. Suddenly, some of my female professors (who are unfortunately rooted in feminism) thought that my poster was stereotyping the gender. O well. If I were to put a man up there it still would have been stereotyping men.

As the conference continued, the students who wanted to give speeches went through. Some interesting, some no so much, but regret started to seep in. I wanted to speak. Rather than viewers gazing, they would of had to listen and it would have been up to my skills as a confident speaker to get the job done. Unfortunately, I went for the poster.

As the prizes began to be handed out a professor came up to me raving about my project. That same professor was a judge. He told me I did not win anything but it was not because of a lack of validity, sources, or especially poster presentation. But because I transcended the two disciplines in English and Marketing, a lack of focus. To that end, my confidence was a tad diminished, but not my creativity. I was proud of my project, how I was the only one to go across disciplines and most of all mesh my interests. Unfortunately, there was not best in show.

PURC Poster

Resume Tutorial

Hello comrades. I uploaded a pdf attachment of my Resume Tutorial based off the Purdue OWL MLA Sample Paper. All the tips are pretty self explanatory but if you have any questions let me know, and if you want somebody to write your CV or Resume for you, just shoot me an email at OR comment below. Hope this helps guys.

Resume Tutorial

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, market yourself, and show off your hard work over the past few years.

My “Real-Deal” Difference Maker for Writing

What a great response to the “Real-Deal” perspective, or what may really be a syndrome. Although The Myth of the Real Deal explains and contradicts Ryan Boudinot’s two types of students that either have it or don’t in writing, I believe that students need not go through an MFA or Creative Writing Program to find it, but rather keep writing and figure out our voice with the people already around us.

I believe the difference to achieve “Real-Deal” writing is the development of our voice, or written fingerprint that readers can ID with us. As a naive yet self-entitled freshman, I thought I knew how to write a paper because I had organization. Our Director of Composition taught me otherwise. On top of conciseness, she grew my belief in my writing. It is that belief in your poetry, short story, flash-fiction, or even academic research that builds our confidence and exemplifies the fingerprint on our writing.To get to our voice there are a few steps that I went through that may help others.

  1. First of all, keep writing. If you don’t play basketball every day, we probably won’t get better at basketball.
  2. The same goes for reading, unless were watching our opponents game film, we probably will not be informed about what others have done and more importantly what they are doing now.
  3. Experience. Although the greats have been cited as spending night upon night under candlelight, not everybody can just make creative points, characters, and key roles from just thinking about them. Every day I see things that spiral into excerpts of stories, lines of poems, and even points in my academic projects. So let your eyes cast light on everything you witness.
  4. Let Yourself Feel. Probably the most important step I took in finding my voice. One thing that separates humans from animals is our ability to feel and contemplate those feelings. By adding in emotions and tone to writing it brings the voice in the head of the reader from monotone to a tone full of personality.

Teachers & Professors alike know that their students could learn to write better on an organization level and maybe even word choice, but when it comes to instructing the students to “feel” the nature of their piece it is a much different story. 

I agree that you may not need an MFA or some kind of instinct to be the “Real-Deal,” not saying that I am, but as an ignorant freshman I had no feeling of my writing. Today as a senior I see things that could be the real deal every day, unfortunately I need to get in the habit of writing everything down.

Check out The Myth of the Real Deal by Jennifer Berney posted on for the article

TD: #TDThanksYou

It’s seems like its been a winter of the emotional appeal. From the McDonald’s “Lovin” campaign to the #TDThanksYou companies and their ads are showing their soft side. Its nice to see these guys moving away from sex appeal from the last decade and move to make a difference with something other than their product or service.

AdPitch Blog

This was kindly sent my way by Serfweb, if yo have anything that you feel that is awesome that I’d like for the blog let me know!

TD is a bank company in Canada, on a special weekend they changed their boring old ATM machine into an Automated Thanking Machine thanking customers for their custom. I love people getting surprises, it’s all so heart warming and goose-bump-giving.

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