The Defiant Ones

It’s true: Snoop loved the birds-nest-fro thing I had going.

Yes, this post is just 100% an excuse for me to use this photo of Snoop and me. But, also…

I binged The Defiant Ones last night. So. damn. good. The four four hours flew by.

The engine of the story is entrepreneurship. Both Dre and Jimmy are hustlers who scrapped their way up from the bottom. Watching their parallel journeys eventually intersect was fun and inspiring as hell. Anyone who is a creator will love it.

Other random thoughts:

Language: I watched w/mom and there’s just a ton of profanity. Ironically, there’s a cute scene where Dre’s mom talks of her initial discomfort with his lyrical vulgarity considering she didn’t think he normally speaks that way. She accepted that he had to “conform” in order to “make it.” Given he ended up cussing a f-ton in the interviews for the documentary, I wonder if he’s changed over time, or if he was putting on “that persona” for the filmmaker. My only point is don’t watch this with your mom.

What if? There’s a funny story that Jimmy tells of having a long breakfast with Suge Knight to keep him from a Warner exec who was going to use their leverage to push Suge to tone down the violence, etc. Jimmy is successful. Left unexamined was what might have happened. The counterfactual in Warner Music successfully getting Suge to tone down Death Row’s content might have ended in a de-escalation of the rap-wars and MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE Tupac and Biggie not getting killed. So maybe it was bad that he succeeded? Who knows.

Eco-systemsReid talks a lot about ecosystems and The Defiant Ones is basically a documentary about them. Without a healthy ecosystem in NYC, Jimmy would have never gotten his start with Lennon, Springsteen, etc. The constellation of talent, friends, mentors, et al played a huge role as he stretched to producer and then started up Interscope. The same thing was true for Dre. The people around you matter so so much.

Springsteen, Bono, Eminem, Snoop, Nas, Reznor, Stefani, Kendrick, Cube — a never-ending who’s who of talent speaking intimately to the camera. Here’s the literal image of my face the second I walked into the studio in 2006 and saw Snoop:

Also my face as I watched this documentary.

So, yeah. Watch it.


I Trust Donald Trump (more) Because He Fired Me

It went on for hours. I went to the meeting knowing that my prospects weren’t great. Still, I fought. I appealed to his ego. I reframed my decisions against what I knew about his own past. I attacked my enemy relentlessly. That I had a legit beef helped, too. Trump seemed to come around.

And, yet. He fired me.

I was sent out of the room twice. I knew this meant he was torn and therefore consulting advisors. He had gone into the meeting briefed that I was the most obvious firee. Yet, as we parried back-and-forth, I was getting through and changing his mind. It seemed that, instinctively, he liked was siding with me.

And, yet. He fired me.

This, of course, wasn’t real real life. It was The Apprentice. I was a contestant. The meeting was the “boardroom” segment. The advisors were the show’s producers.

In firing me, Trump heeded the advice of his experts — the producers much more involved in the show than himself. I only knew for sure that this is what happened later. After it was all over, and the show had aired, two different folks recounted the events of Trump’s acquiescence.

Today, I woke up (I’m in another time zone in South Asia) to a Washington Post news alert that Trump was considering military action in Syria. With my wicked jet lag, I’m basically unable to sleep more (at night, anyway). So I listen to podcasts hoping they’d help me drift off. They don’t. Instead I listen to things like Fresh Air and Terry Gross discuss a recent Huffington Post Highline article about how Trump’s impulsiveness could trigger a war with Russia.

As I laid awake and thought about all this, my mind drifted back to my time with him. Much of it ended up being in various boardrooms. I watched as he grilled contestants for information, impulsively fired contestants for trivial reasons (but probably good TV), and weighed conflicting counsel. While the first Apprentice winner, Bill, argued passionately on my behalf, ultimately he sided with the producers.

In hindsight, that was the right call. He wasn’t really hiring someone to work for him. The job was a sham. He was producing a TV show. I know now that 24-year-old-surya made pretty shitty TV. I was too anxious about how I’d be perceived, too caught up in trying to control everything. I didn’t have the wisdom to realize that with endless hours of footage, I’d never be able to control how I was portrayed. I was on a fool’s errand, and I didn’t realize it. My penance, that he ultimately executed against his own instincts, was firing me. It made sense in the context of the episode and it got a problematic reality TV pawn out of the way. Ultimately, the right call (though the show was doomed, anyway).

So: here we are. It’s been more than ten years since that day. Yet, its recollection gives me hope that our president is capable of listening to wise counsel when it counts.

OK, real talk: I don’t trust him. I’m just saying I trust him *more* than I would have if I hadn’t spent time with the man and had this look.

Let’s hope.