Quest for the Concords…

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone… The Christmas holiday season is a time where many people purchase gifts for loved ones and sometimes even themselves. According to the National Retail Foundation it is said that Americans will spend an upwards of 465.5 billion dollars in 2011 shopping which is a 2.8% increase from last year. On December 23, 2011 millions of people not only across the nation but the world reveled in  the release of the Iconic  Air Jordan XI shoe known to sneakerheads as the “Concords.” The past three years Jordan Brand has previously released other colors of this same styled shoe; the “Cool Gray” and the “Space Jam,” and while there was anticipation for the release of those shoes, neither compared to the release of the Concords. The release date of the shoe has been known since the summer, and shortly after many of those who desired to purchase the shoe began to plot on their approach for acquiring them. Generally there are two ways shoes are purchased; by going to the local retailer to purchase them or visiting the website of the same retailers so as to avoid the hassle. Under normal circumstances there wouldn’t be a problem for someone to use either of these outlets to purchase their shoes and be safe. However when it comes to limited or popular releases like the Concord shoe (and Jordans are not the only shoes people camp out for), many knew they would have to be very strategic to get them.

Once I caught wind of the release I made up in my mind that these would be my Christmas gift to myself. The $180 sticker price, while high to a lot of people, is not that far off from other popular shoes like the Foamposits ($200+) the LeBron’s ($170) and Kobe Bryant ($180). Yes there are plenty other brands and styles of gym shoes/sneakers that are less expensive but ask a female that has a REAL Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Tory Burch purse would a less costly purse had been sufficient, and they probably would say yes but  it’s about the brand. I have heard many people take issue with spending that much for a pair of shoes but I look at some of the shoes I have in my collection, which include a pair of Air Jordan XI in a different color that I have had since 2001 that are in still good condition, so if you take care of them they can and will last a long time. Now I am against purchasing these shoes for young children who have yet to develop an appreciation for clothing, but to each his/her own.

Blacks werent the only ones camping out for them

But back to my quest for the Concords, I initially thought about trying the “order online” route but I recalled the horror stories that many of my sneakerhead friends discussed in regards to ordering shoes that were just as popular online. From the website crashing and not allowing you to purchase, to you making the purchase but getting an email from the website stating that the order never went through. So I decided to try the campout route, where I would go to a local mall and sit outside until they opened the doors. Little did I know, the mall security had given out tickets to those interested in purchasing the shoes earlier that day, around the same time I had gone to the mall to scope out the scene and talk to a couple of guys that work in the shoe stores I frequent. So when I got back to the mall around 11pm for the Midnight release, there was a nice crowd of around 50-75 people already huddled around. I assumed that Footlocker would have an ample amount to satisfy this crowd so I was not worried. However right as the clock struck 12AM the dropped the ticket bomb on a lot of us and I began to get nervous. But after hearing that they only gave out 40 tickets, and me being close to the door, I became confident in being able to get them… SIKE… shortly after letting the 40 ticket holders get their shoes they pulled down the gate and sent many of us home empty-handed. The next morning I tried another store but had my hopes crushed again because this retailer, who was a private owned store, sold many of their allotment of shoes during the previous two weeks so I trudged home disappointed.

Now many are probably asking why would I go through all of this for a pair of shoes… Simply put because this was an item I really wanted. When it comes to things we want we will subject ourselves to things that to other people deem over the top. Some women will sit in a salon for hours for hairstyles that last only a couple of days then do it again in a couple of weeks which in the grand scheme equates purchasing these same “overpriced” shoes monthly. I also know people who will sit outside in line for Black Friday sales, stood in lines longer and under worse conditions to get tickets for concerts and we all  have seen images of college students who will miss class to eat sleep and chill in tents just to get access to tickets for bowl games or premium seats versus a heated rival. During my college days I will admit to have “camped-out” for the PS2 and actually missed a quiz but luckily begged my professor to let me retake it. I also stood in line for concerts and will never forget the frenzy behind the Kappa Thanksgiving Party at St. Andrews where if you weren’t in line at 9pm for a party that really didn’t get hype until 11pm you didn’t get in.

Fans of the Group Panic attack

Texas A&M fans camping for Cotton bowl tickets

I wonder what Best Buy had on sale?

Upon getting over my disappointment I got home to find out about the craziness that ensued throughout the nation. Recounts of pandemonium, fights and robberies were littered all over the internet and on the news (it even made ESPN.) Someone went as far as to create a fake death of a young teenager in the DC/Maryland area.

someone has too much time on their hands

While the drama that took place in many urban areas across the nation is unfortunate, please do not be blinded by the BS that is being perpetuated here. It’s ironic that any other time we take Fox News with a grain of salt especially it comes to politics, but with this story their perceptions are legit. Also now that there is evidence that the death in DC is a hoax, I havent seen ANY media outlet update the story or send a retraction for covering something that was false. It’s shameful that  the media knows how divided we as a black community are and will use it against us. Violence during Black Friday shopping isn’t given this much coverage because white America doesn’t care, but they realize that since much of our social acceptance is tied to our stuff and things they know it will be a heated topic of conversation where many will never understand the person on the other side of the argument.

I have seen it all in regards to jokes & comments about those who have purchased the Concords, and yes I’ll agree that if your bills aren’t paid and you skimping out on other responsibilities as an adult, you shouldn’t be able to partake of any luxuries but that goes beyond purchasing sneakers/gym shoes. But changing this mindset of having the latest toy and “keep up with the Jones” goes way beyond what is happening now. Just like we are pre-disposed to health issues because of genetics, we also acquire mentalities and thought-processes from the DNA of our parents and ancestors. Many believe this “gotta ball” mentality is something new but it’s not, I believe we can trace these desires back to when we were African kings and queens. Look at historical accounts of how our ancestors cherished stuff and things, C’mon, they had extravagant tombs and pyramids constructed for the “ballers” of their times. Even look at present day African tribes, while they may not use a Benz or extravagant homes to show status they have their own unique way of showing who is the top of the heap, whether its colorful face paint or necklaces. So we first must realize this ball out mindset and how you treat money did not just recently evolve,  so you may need to sit down with your parents and even grandparents to see how they spent their money and compare habits to really see how much of a curse this is. I am currently doing a 18 week financial stewardship class through my church and we are using the  book Jesus on Money by Larry Burkett;  it has  helped all of us in the class face issues head on so that our bad financial habits aren’t transferred to our children or grandchildren.

So while all of this started as a quest for a pair of shoes, it has opened my eyes to so much more, and while I still wish I had gotten them I’m glad for the life lessons the journey taught me.

CIAA 2011 Recap

For those who don’t know the CIAA is a HBCU conference composed of schools in NC/VA/MD/PA and at the end of their mens & womens basketball season there is a Conference Tournament that decides who goes onto the Division II tournament. There are various events that coincide with the playing of the games. From concerts, to job fairs to parties (which is why so many people come into town). The tournament originally was based in Virginia for a long period of time but transitioned to Raleigh NC (that was where I first attended in 2005) and in 2006 transitioned to the city of Charlotte where it will be until 2014…

In past years I had the pleasure of covering the games as an on floor photographer and also going to a couple of the non-party related events (steve Harvey show, the fan experience) this year due to scheduling I focused on just the social aspect of the CI (as many call it)

and all I can say is that it was the truest essence of the GOOD BAD AND UGLY….

Good:

the one thing of the CIAA I truly love seeing are the older couples 50+ who still come into town and support their respective colleges by going to the games and some of the mature alumni events. On my way to a day party Friday I saw three separate couples around my grandparents age walking to Time Warner Arena to watch game. Also Saturday during the CIAA Championship Brunch sponsored by the charlotte alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, I had the pleasure of interacting with a lot of 40+ crowd and just to overhear the stories of how long they had been coming to the CIAA and participating in events similar to ours was great…

I also think this year was the year of the Cougar. I saw so many woman between the ages of 35-45+ that were on top of their games. They were appropriately dressed handled themselves in a great way and just looked good. I know a couple of my boys went to events (mainly the AKA Pink Groove event) where they dominated the scene even over some of their younger sorors. They also are not afraid to get out there and enjoy themselves on the dancefloor. Bernadette Standis (Thelma from Good Times) was at the Saturday Night Party I covered for Six Figure Entertainment, and for someone who is 58 not only did she still look good but she was not afraid to get out on the floor and dance…
Yes there were and have always been men who come out in that same age range but being a guy I don’t pay that much attention to them. One of the hostesses at a party I was shooting said that a “sugar daddy” she met two years ago still calls her every CIAA to see what she has up.

Also this year at all the events I covered people, for the most part, were willing to take photos. Usually you find someone who is standoffish by the camera or being on the internet… It’s still hilarious to see the few people who don’t wanna be photo’d how they run to the other side of the room, uh ma’am I know what I am doing I can crop the photo to where you aren’t seen.

Shout out to all the Promoters; IV Horseman Entertainment, Six Figure Entertainment, Kappas of Charlotte whose events I covered from my vantige point all were successes, no issues or problems. The DJs were great and people looked to be enjoying themselves. Also talking to people who attended other parties they really enjoyed themselves once they got to a party

BAD:
Traffic: That’s all I kept hearing about on twitter, how traffic was so bad and things were gridlocked downtown in the epi-center. You see I said others, after finally figuring out how to maneuver through the city and being fortunate that the parties I covered friday and saturday night were on the outer part of downtown, I was able to circumvent most of it. The combination of charlotte’s funny structure of downtown (one way streets and traffic lights) in addition to people holding up traffic trying to see and be seen (the candy-painted rides were out again… the Coors, yes coors light beer, Cutlass and the lime green Charger were the highlights.

Hurt feet: That’s all I kept hearing from women “oh my feet hurt” Its funny what you women will subject yourself to for the sake of beauty. Even as a man I will say there were some shoes that were nice looking but was it worth it (and i can hear all my lady readers yell YES) By the end of the night with many of women i saw those shoes were in hand or they had the wobble legs… Ladies in the future what you may want to do is carry one of those knapsack backpacks with a pair of flip-flops/flats check it into coat check and at the end of the night switch into those, because walking the street (because for a lot of people it was a major hike due to lack of close parking) barefoot is not safe nor is it sexy… Speaking of coat check, next year ladies PLEASE make that your BFF. For those who have come to CIAA the past 3 years, we know the weather has not been at its best and we know you are determined to still wear your “get-em girl outfit” so when you buy the dress find a nice jacket/shall that you can put over it and check it… Nothing is worse than leaving out the club after sweating and having to shiver your way back to your car, its bad enough your feet will hurt don’t compound it with pneumonia of the breast because you had to be cute…

VIP: I heard so many people had issues with venues VIP set up, they paid an extra amount for admission but really didn’t get much with it. Next year do your research and find out what you get with that before you pay $80 for a party just to standing in a crowded room with other people away from the party. I will give my boy Kirk Brown from Six Figure Entertainment credit, Saturday night Good Times event, not only did you get a separate DJ, you got a full course meal (pasta/roast/3 types of chicken/veggie tray/cupcakes) but you also got an OPEN BAR… how many promoters are willing to do that… well keep them in mind for CIAA 2012… Everyone I talked to enjoyed themselves and it was as if it was a separate party.

Weather: I joked early saturday that the weatherman lied because they were calling for rain Friday but it never showed. I guess the joke was on me because it rained and poured most of saturday… I did notice that unlike with most social weekends in Charlotte people were not afraid to still come out. I did talk to a couple of people who said the malls were on jam during the afternoon and a couple were reminiscent of freaknik (not much clothing a lot of loitering) I guess God knew if the day was clear the people wouldn’t know how to act so it rained enough during the day to keep those without plans from downtown, cleared up to allow people to get to their respective parties that night and then started pouring again around 2am, I guess to tell people GO HOME…

UGLY

Dress: Dont wanna be sexist but most men keep their attire for these types of events simple: either you have the sweater/sports coat or Graphic T look which is pretty simple you can’t mess that up, but LADIES LADIES LADIES a lot of the stuff I saw this week, some of you don’t have friends who care about you… A lot of you went for the “whatever looks the craziest” look. I saw some color combinations that should be outlawed. Yes I understand many of you are trying to be fashion forward but its 2011 not 2035 some looks should be left to the video chick because they can take it off and leave it with the stylist.

The Leggins/designer tights look is a gift and a curse… while I saw a couple of women correctly pull them off and made me do a double take, I saw too many that didn’t. I even saw a grandma (50+s) out there trying to rock them… Ma’am not to be rude but leggings should NOT sag in your backside, give them back to your granddaughter.
Make sure the outfit you wear to the party is size appropriate you should not spend the entire night pulling it down on your legs or pulling it up in your breast area… It’s funny how chicks will walk around the party the entire night with the top part of their dress hanging low then when I take the picture get all critical and fuss at me. Or this is the funny one, girls take the photo look at it and then say “I look fat”, uh boo you knew that when you bought the outfit, tried it on at home, packed it, and put it on in the room but you didn’t care so why get all conscious now… I guess because the world will see the chunkiness that your girls were too shady to tell you about before. And if your girl is pregnant (well with a stomach like that I HOPE she was) either leave her home or tell her wearing a white skin-tight shirt is NOT the business

Speaking about home girls and the people you hang with… Ladies if they leave you in front of a restaurant incoherent throwing up THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS… if you are a friend of someone in this state at least take them back to the car, don’t leave them out in the public to be clowned or even worse taken advantage of by thirsty men. And if she is that gone you may have to take an L on your fun to help her out, IF she is truly your friend.

And speaking of that it leads to my last and perhaps my BIGGEST peeve of the weekend. It’s what I will call CIAA Wasted. Its bad when guys get sloppy drunk and barely know whats going on but its a damn shame when women get to that level. Know your limits… If you are regularly a one glass of wine drinker what sense does it make to come to CIAA and have 3 drinks before leaving your hotel room then get to the party and have 3 more drinks… I do know some women who can drink men under the table but that was an acquired skillset. Not to mention by Saturday night your body is probably so dehydrated from all the alcohol consumed Thursday night Friday day and Friday night. You probably have had no water and werent eating right if at all… Pointblank ladies especially if you are over 25 that ish is not cute, and truthfully what is the purpose of drinking that much?
These women irk me because as a photographer I have to personally deal with them, a guy in the party can just ignore you, but it seems like the more drunk women get the more they want to take pictures and become touchy feely. I wanted to mush at least 10 women in their face, over the course of this weekend because they; invaded my personal space their breath was horrid and they were just acting horribly. You don’t have to touch me for me to take a photo of you, and yes you do look drunk in the photo BECAUSE YOU ARE

Overall it was a decent CIAA and considering my move, this will be my last CIAA… people ask would I come back to shoot, probably not. It’s not financially worth it considering all the stress/tired moments. My body is just now recovering and I had to take today off to allow for that.

For those who want to see what I saw through my lens goto Crush Charlotte