Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Business, Never Personal

For some time now I have been pondering upon this fact: Altruism in business and, it's erosion. When did business ignore and forget about the people who are at the core of the business, the workers? Workers are undoubtedly the heart and soul of any business, without them a business is pretty much done for. Ever since I entered the work force all I have ever heard is that business is about profit, profit and more profit. At all costs. Some of this profit has come through the sacrifice and at the expense, if not exploitation as well, of workers. Minimum wages, irregular working hours, poor working conditions, are the order of the day. That's just my impression of how business operates. Not only in a South African context, but the world over.

Another issue I have is this: Business in general, is engaged in corporate social initiatives. Business never makes the mistake and not take part and contribute to charitable causes. The paradox, for me, lies in the fact that business does a lot to invest in social initiatives, yet doesn't put the same impetus behind it's workforce.

When I was first introduced to NBA basketball, I became very fond of the Atlanta Hawks. And, and an even bigger fan of Dominique Wilkins. It was a sad day for me when The Human Highlight Film was traded to perennial losers, the Los Angeles Clippers, sometime during the 1994 season. I couldn't, for the then teenaged life of me, fathom why the Hawks would do such a thing. How could someone who was a proven leader, scorer and face of the franchise, be traded for Danny Manning? As far as I was concerned, business didn't care about the fans, me. It was a business transaction that suited the Hawks on the financial side, more than the fans, on the entertainment side.

Is greed the main driving force? The story about energy company Enron suggests that. While employees worked tirelessly for the advancement of the company, there was unprecedented accounting and financial mismanagement taking place. When all of this irregularity culminated in the demise of Enron thousands of employees had lost their jobs, and lost even more in financial returns that had previously been guaranteed to them, in the form of pension and provident funds.This is a classic case of busines caring about profit and not the driving force behind the business.

A current case in South Africa, is that of Aurora Mines and its handlers. One of the directors is related to the State president, Jacob Zuma. Mine workers from this mine have not been paid since February this year. Things have gotten so bad, that the same miners went on the rampage looting offices and the canteen because they were hungry. The way the directors of Aurora are going about this saga is stupefying. Instead of toning down on modern exceses, they are instead doing a good job of running operations into the ground (excuse the pun). Explain this, how is it that someone can drive an SLS Mercedes-Benz and yet fail to pay the very people who are directly contributing to the purchase and maintenance of said vehicle?

I fail to understand how people who have been in a particular job for 7 - 10 years, can all of a sudden be deemed incompetent to carry on with their jobs. And make way for people who are either new to the industry and the job specifications. Where is the continuity? Where is the vision? Where is the humanity? Mind you, these individuals who have been thrown out of their jobs have contributed positively to the business and the way it is perceived by the public. I said in the beginning it's business, never personal, yet one can't help but wonder if whether it is personal. A business decision taken to perpetuate a personal agenda?

The way the economics of the world are today, I don't see this scourge abating. The old truism applies, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We live in exciting times indeed, however it has become survival of the fittest. Everywhere you go.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Current Wardrobe Review

This is a startling fact that gave me a jolt and awakened me to the sobering reality that my wardrobe is comprised of primarily winter garments. Durban winters don't get cold. Mild at best. Consistently cold weather is a foreign concept. I think the main reason for this wardrobe anomaly is the fact that summer is excruciatingly hot in these parts, and the hot weather carries on throughout the year. That's why the dress code in my workplace is relaxed from December through January. Therefore there's never really a reason to dress up. The traditional summer for Durban men is; shorts, of any kind, a t-shirt and any type of open footwear, flip-flops, sandals, beach thongs, slides, car shoes and imbhadada (traditional Zulu sandals).

This sudden sobering up is nothing but a serious call to action. I mean, I do have some pants in viscose, jackets in cotton and linen, but I'm over run by flannels, heavy wools, thick knits and tweeds. It's time I expanded on the summer gear and diversified. And that goes for the footwear as well.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Proportion: Lapel + Shirt Collar + Tie

Watching Andrew Branes anchoring midday news a few days ago, I came to the realisation that attention to proportion is vital. On any day the sartorially discerning gentleman wants to look his best. Not necessarily in designer clothes but, in garments that fit and are well proportioned. You don't want to look like you hijacked your younger brother's shirt. Nor do you want to appear as wearing a hand-me-down jacket, that's ill-fitting. So, you have to comply with the rules regarding the size of your jacket lapel to your shirt collar and tie.

A small collar shirt requires; an equally slim tie and then rounded off with a jacket with slim lapels. Everything in proportion, means a clean cut look. No excess baggage created by ill-fitting garments. I've seen, at times, how some gentlemen use a tie bar longer than the width of slim tie, and it works. As a rule though, it isn't advisable. A mini tie bar is what the stylist ordered.

A large shirt collar mandates that the tie be an actual big complement as well. Thick knot, so that both the collar and knot are equally visible. A slim/ skinny tie lost in a large collar is nothing but a sore sight. The jacket's lapel will also be bigger and not slim at all. So as to keep proportion consistent.

This is a clear case of going big or small. Never mixing it up or going in between.

Drake images taken from GQ.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Youthful Ignorance: The Receding Hairline

Youthful ignorance. This series is going to do its best to expose the folly of my twenties which culminated in a lot of ignorance. I digress. Something I couldn't comprehend or fathom in, particularly, my early twenties was a receding hairline or premature balding. Especially if it happened to someone in their twenties or even younger. Needless to say, I teased and made fun of gentlemen who experienced this process. I was ignorant, not knowing that a receding hairline is caused by a number of reasons, hereditary, genetic, shaving one's hair too much, etc.

I know better now. Especially after witnessing many gentlemen who wear a receding hairline with pride. And in the process appear stylish and confident. I can't say the same for myself though. When my hair grows out and the barber shop is out of reach, I have to grin and bear the fact that I'm putting together a presentable outfit however my hair is not presentable. And I go through this often. I've conversed with other bloggers regarding this process and most of them have embraced it as a new look and also a welcome change. I, have not reached that stage yet. I still wish for a full head of hair. With hair I'd be able to exepriment with different looks. Needless to say my receding hairline has precluded me from any kind of experiments involving hair.

Maybe I am far from embracing my redecing hairline. Especially when I look at my friends and realise that none of them are losing hair. Even worse, my father doesn't have a receding hairline. Therefore I'm forced to conclude that this could be the result of cutting my hair too much or my eating habits I don't know. I feel my best when I am bald and my beard has been neatly trimmed. However this is a time consuming process in itself. Maybe if I learnt how to cut and shave my own hair, then I wouldn't be so reluctant to do it at times. In time I know I'll learn to appreciate and also impart some knowledge about a receding hairline. However right now I am still grappling with the issue. Experience has taught me that I'm fortunate not to have lived during the time of Elisha the prophet. However I can picture some young ignorant boys unwittingly teasing me saying, " Sir, is your hairline receding..? Or is it visiting the top of your head for a little party..?"

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The tiger in Oskido's hair (a column by Ndumiso Ngcobo)

While reading Sunday's paper today, it takes me days to read the behemoth that is the Sunday Times, I came across the below piece by Ndumiso Ngcobo. It is nothing but the truth, one I agreed with from the first word to the last. Read it and do feedback on your thoughts and opinions. I hope he doesn't mind me blogging it.

There are varying degrees of great unwashedness - all awful
I am not the most physically attractive specimen of manhood anybody is likely to ever meet. For the record, I used to be. But that was about 20kg ago, which is a story for another day. The fact that I do not pay too much attention to my appearance is not helping matters either. On the day that the photograph above was taken, I was being interviewed by this newspaper's own Gillian Anstey for a profile they were doing.
In the piece she wrote, she called me a "frumpy dresser". Truth be told, I was rather flattered by this characterisation. You see, people in the arts, academia and politics often associate sub-par grooming with great intellectual prowess. I personally blame Albert Einstein, who popularised the dog's-breakfast look back in the 1920s.

This thought hit me last week when I ran into award-winning R&B singer Ishmael of Jozi, Skeem and Prophets of Da City fame. Each time I see Ishmael, I get an almost uncontrollable urge to tackle him to the ground, dunk him in a scalding hot bath containing a Dettol/Jeyes Fluid concoction, attack him with a scrubbing brush and then douse him with a flea powder. Oh, I'm pretty certain that the young man cleanses himself. After all, he did snap up US songbird Puff Johnson. I bet she "don't do skunk". It's just that Ishmael insists on that whole "look at me, I'm dirty and talented" image.

Music producer, club deejay and radio jock DJ Oscar (popularly known as Oskido) has taken the slovenly look a few notches up. A friend of mine was so moved by Oskido's scruffiness upon meeting him that she sent me a text message: "I don't think anybody would raise an eyebrow if a tiger leapt out of Oskido's hair." This is when it occurred to me that Panjo the tiger could have disappeared into Oskido's hair the whole time he went missing. Oskido would certainly never notice a tiger in his hair.

There are different types of unwashed among us. The first is the arty-fartsy Oskido variant of scruffiness made popular by Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Meatloaf. Then there's that greasy sloppiness favoured by Hispanics and Latinos such as Antonio Banderas. The Manchester City player-brawler Carlos Tevez, notoriously known as "The Animal", is a prime example. Tevez looks like a rodent-consuming extra from the 1980s TV series V. When my kids won't eat their broccoli, I threaten them with Tevez.

Not that the Reverend Al Sharpton is any less greasy either, hey. I bet you could operate a mid-sized palm-oil refinery in downtown Kuala Lumpur for six weeks from the Rev's oil slick. And if you drained grease off the cast of a standard Bollywood movie - six months.

And then there's the political-intellectual grubby look for which we have Karl Marx to thank. So far, Marx's own dishevelled look has ruined the appearance of at least nine generations of politicians from Fidel, Nujoma, Savimbi and, tragically, our own Thabo Mbeki. Come now, we all remember those disturbing pictures from the Groote Schuur deliberations in 1990. Mbeki looked like an Indonesian tom cat 10 minutes after the 2004 tsunami, what with nasal hair scraping his tobacco pipe and all. Suffice to say, Mbeki's shadow at the time, one Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was looking just as tatty until sanity prevailed, circa 2000. Sadly, just before the Terrible Twins discovered that Gillette is their best friend, they passed on the baton of intellectual sloppiness to ├╝ber bureaucrat Joel Netshitenzhe. I saw him the other day. He looks like someone who lost his pair of scissors back in 1978. But, oh, to have been a fly on the wall when that image consultant confronted Mbeki.

"Oh my great three-term president, the people are restless ... It's your beard."

"I am an African and an intellectual from Mapungubwe. I have never met anyone who died of whiskers."

Look, I'm not an advocate of the Kgalema Motlanthe, porn star, manicured-by-a-horticulturist look. That's absurd. But I have a recurring nightmare involving a horror-movie scene. The main character whispers: "I see unkempt people. They're everywhere. They walk around like regular people. They don't know that they're disgusting."

                                    PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sucker For Seersucker

Yes I do. I do go out with the sole intention to thrift. Therefore this double breasted seersucker jacket was, somewhat of a surprise. The last time I wore seersucker was some time in the 80s. My affinity for, the fabric and a seersucker suit, will never diminish. One of the very first suits my father ever bought me was a seersucker suit, in the conventional light blue and white stripes. And whenever I wore it, I'd feel all Miami Vice, sans the rolled up sleeves though.

I got this jacket for a mere R10. It is not in the best of conditions however the work it requires is very minimal. My wife, along with her clear loathing for the jacket, remarked that I am not a rolled up sleeves type of guy, and I agree. Therefore I will have the sleeves elongated because they are a little short. Something also seems amiss with the alighnment of the buttons. However it's nothing a little Soli Omar can't fix.

This jacket has jetted pockets too. It has no labeling on the inside therefore I am unable to tell who it's by. The only label is on the collar instructing professional dry cleaning.

Double vented with a cream satin finish on the inside. When it comes to double breasted jackets I have been on a winning streak. I think of this jacket as a casual summer piece I can wear to an informal event. Cotton or linen pants, espadrilles or loafers and, a crew or v-neck tee. The possibilities are endless.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

PG Sounds: Sending My Love

It's been a while since I did a musical post. My real introduction to the music of Norman Brown couldn't have come at a better time. I have always heard his music but never really paid attention to it until I recently intimated to a colleague of mine that, I have this dream to someday do radio and host a show. After listening to a track titled 'Lydian', by Norman Brown, I am certain that it will be the theme and background music for my show. Today, however, I offer you something from his latest offering, released in June this year. For me, Sending My Love, is right on time. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GQ Best Dressed Men Of The Year 2010

The one thing I appreciate and enjoy about this list is its diversity. A well balanced group of gentlemen who, according to GQ SA, are South Africa's best dressed. The ANC Youth League has, for quite some time, been calling for a generational mix in its leadership structures so as to inject some youth, which in turn will enhance the party's position and direction. The judging panel at for this year's list  have done a good job of introducing a predominantly youthful top ten. What you can't deny is that, when youth have style, know how to interpret it and are consistent in that regard, the results will always be inspiring. Some individuals in this list definitely exude that. What I don't agree with however, is that the list lacks depth and substance, in terms of visibility. This list is for recognisable folk. Some of them I know of, others I don't know and never heard of them at all. A suggestion to GQ, would be to be less of a write up and include more pictures with said individuals in their best and a variety of threads. That would give the reader an indication into the gentlemen's tastes and preferences, their personal style and how they express it. Anyone can pull off a black suit and loafers, and that look is rather overdone. Therefore, challenge these gentlemen to bring their A-game because, after all, this is a contest for the best dressed man in Siouth Africa. Since GQ SA has relaunched their website, I think it's time the public got involved, as this would allow for more in-depth presentation and analysis of the nominees. By seeing a full spread presentation, of the nominees, online, the audience will be better informed about the nominees, their wardrobe and how they consistently manage to make it work. Just a suggestion, Mr. Tyson. With that said, I present to you, the top 10 out of the top 50 and, congratulations to Seth Rotherham for taking poll position.

Andrew McDade

Guy Ndlovu

Larry Cohen

Mokotjo Mohulo

Seth Rotherham

Shaun De Wet

Siyabonga Ngwekazi

Spoek Mathambo

Themba Mngomezulu

Tyron Arendse

All images taken from GQ

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stones Throw X Lacoste

Ever since the obfuscation of Rawkus Records, there is one particular record label I have stayed true to: Stones Throw Records. They have really done a phenomenal job of pushing the envelope and staying true to the art, in as far as hip hop and alternative music are concerned. The collaboration between music artists and fashion houses is nothing new, therefore the advent of the Lacoste Stones Throw Legends Chevel sneaker, comes as no surprise.

Inspired by the legacy of Rene Lacoste and tradition, Lacoste Legend's is a concept that has been established to pay homage to the icon through a series of footwear conceptualised and designed by 12 contemporaries.

A breakdown of the shoe reveals that it is made of full grain leather upper with textile detailing. A tongue crafted from petit pique cotton, incorporating a woven Lacoste-branded tab finished with a mother-of-pearl button.

Head on over to the Stones Throw website for more info on pricing, shipping, availability, etc. As for me, I'm not surprised this shoe was designed by Peanut Butter Wolf. A true Stones Throw pioneer and the first artist I got to know of, and hear from this record label. Now, if only they would come to South Africa to do a show.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First Impressions Last

Are you sometimes concerned about how people perceive you..? I know I am. This perception is especially crucial when in the company of strangers. People I am interacting with for the first time. It is important to me that I project the right image to people. Never denying my true self or who I am, by the way. I also try not to confuse a good image with the right image. What may be a good image, may not necessarily, be the right image, for me.

It is with this notion in mind that I was taken aback a few weeks ago when I met a particular gentleman to engage in a business transaction. Said gentleman was way older than I am. We were both casually dressed, but from the moment he opened his mouth, his speech was riddled with expletives. Seriously, his speech caught me off guard. And what he spoke about most of the time bordered on complaints, about life in general, and accentuated by foul language. Here is where I had a problem, he didn't even know me, was meeting me for the first time. Shouldn't there be a certain level of respect? I'm sure it is warranted, and that it goes both ways. Now I'm not saying that I have a consistently clean mouth, however I don't think you will find me amongst strangers letting off curse words just because I want to add something to my personality or even worse, trying to blend in. But I do mind my language because words go a long way. I like to think that based on my speech people would be interested in interacting with me on many more occasions. Just as much as a gentleman needs a clean and polished look. He should also strive for his character to be of the same quality. And yes, words can make or break, therefore by choosing them carefully you are saying that you are an individual who thinks before he speaks.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Virgin Active + Totalsports

Virgin Active has teamed up with Totalsports, offering a free workout for any Adidas athletic gear purchased from Totalsports. Conversely, any Adidas athletic gear you purchase from Totalsports, you get a free workout from Virgin Active (I'm not sure if the aforementioned sentence(s) contain tautology). It might be a tad too late to get into shape for this summer, but it is a good start.

For more info click the relevant links above.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.