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Monday, July 9, 2012

A Meditation On: The Art Of Cool




From a very early age, almost as soon as we THINK we understand the meaning of the word “Cool”, it becomes an admired thing, a desired state, and an ultimate destination. Little kids, keeids, big heads and li'l duns will mimic any adult who they see, think, feel or decide in their formative minds to be that thing called cool. No matter our birthright or disposition, all throughout school we aimed to be seen and thought of as Cool. The way we walked, talked, dressed, acted, reacted, the music we listened to, the people we associated with, it was all in an effort, a singular quest to be seen as “Cool.”

But what is COOL, really? Tell me... tell me, if you THINK you know.


Are we born with it… or is it something that we can acquire? The Jury's still out.

Can we cop some coolness by simply being around it, like in osmosis? Who knows.

Is it thrust upon us or drummed into us by those cooler elder people? It's possible.

Is it the same as popularity? No. I don't think so.

Is it something we can slip on or off, like a fly leather jacket… and suddenly we can claim Cool as our personal ownership? Ummm... 'fraid not!


Actually, to be COOL is the complete opposite of hot, hot-tah, or the hotness (another of those often desired states).

To be Cool is to be profoundly mellow, relaxed, unexcitable and extremely laidback. Cool is a state of mind which ultimately infiltrates into a state of being.

Cool is something one emits. Yes, one can project it but that doesn't necessarily mean that one IS actually The Coolness! You see, Cool is a very strange animal, indeed. It’s not all warm and cuddly. In fact, it can be the polar opposite. Cool is not necessarily ice-cold or unfeeling either. It’s a subtle way of regulating emotion, one's core reactions and attitude. To be seriously Cool can scare the hell out of some people… and deeply intimidate others.

The Truly Cool rarely if ever lose their tempers or raise their voices. In fact, they rarely if ever TRY too hard at anything. They simply don’t give a damn what you might think of them or what you perceive them to be. You can’t upset them, even when you try. You can’t piss them off, visibly, or make them surrender control of that all-mighty coolness. You see, they inhabit coolness. They simply are COOL, 24/7.


That above descript clearly cancels my personal membership to The Ultimate Club of The Care-free, Casual Coolness Clique.

You see, the Truly, Deeply, Madly Cool are like from another planet, yo. They don’t belong to any group or station in life. They eschew all rules and organizations. They don’t follow anything or anyone. Instead, they are the pacesetters, the forbearers, the mavericks and such. They are often misunderstood, lone wolves who buck all trends and humdrum signs of homogenization.

They are either, very wise, or secretly deficient in knowledge. But if it’s the latter, you’d never even know it.

For some erroneous reason, many of us think of Coolness as a youthful phenomenon… and that it has a certain time frame in which it is relevant.

This is a HUGE mistake. I mean, think about it: Who was cooler than Miles Davis, even well into his mid-60s?


Miles:

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No. He did not roll with a one-name-moniker like Cher or Liberace, Beyonce or Usher, Prince or Madonna, but he very well could have. When you hear the name MILES… you don’t have to wonder Miles who(?). Yes, he blew a mean and most pristine trumpet, and he was notorious for turning his back to an audience as he played. People HATED that isht! But did Miles Davis care?


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Hell-to-the-nah, man! Man oh man, Miles was one of a kind! This cat was all dat and a slab of swiss, man! His genius could never be denied, man. The dude seemed to redefine the word COOL itself, man. Ya digs, man? Ya digs?

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As I’m typing these words, I’m collectively counting up all the cool people I currently know of personally, along with the Icons Of Coolness, and it occurs to me that there are very few Truly Cool Ones left. Well, at least in my opinion. For instance, here are a few of the Iconic Cool:


Tell me, who is cooler than George Clinton, a man now well into his seventh decade?

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The cat invents words, phrases and entire social movements with the ease of an emotional Ex-Lax. “Tear The Roof Off The Mother Sucker…” “I Wants To Get Funked Up!” “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow.” They are but a few Clinton gems.

And yes, his LOOK might be a tad, a tidbit... ummm… urruh… mad-stoopid-crazy-out-there

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But that only reminds us of The Beauty of The Truly Cool: See, the Truly Cool don’t give a good damn what the world might think!


Hey, maybe True Cool needs some time to marinate.


Musician Lou Reed... is The Coolness.


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From his past as originator and vital member of the iconic and seminal band The Velvet Underground, or his beat poet delivery on the ultra laid-back jam “Take a Walk On The Wild Side,” to his senior status as one of the leather-clad Prince's of NYC Underground Cool, Lou Reed seems worthy of the title.

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A legendary rock musician, songwriter and photographer, he even upped his cool factor by marrying Performance Artist Supreme Laurie Anderson. Nah, I ain't mad at Lou.


"And the colored girls go...

Doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo...
"




Meshell Ndegeocello:

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Quite simply: the chick is baaaaadd. Plays a mean-ass, mad innovative bass. She writes songs that make you think, and outed herself as a lesbian way before it was considered cool, en vogue or even acceptable to do so.

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Funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, folk, jazz, she has staunchly refused to be pigeonholed or put comfortably inside anyone’s trick bag. Her exterior is calm and so chill that her coolness sneaks up on you, like a smooth hit of herb. Her music, much like her steelo, is so fantastically mellow that it's intoxicating. Sometimes one of her songs alone can become the soundtrack of my day. She always thinks and performs outside of the box.

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You have to love the gusty swag and soulful energy of someone so determined to pave her own road.


And speaking of swag...



Johnny Depp: He defined cool undercover cop swag in the 80s with his role in 21 Jump Street. And ever since, on film he has been the cool-azz chameleon... transforming from Edward Scissorhands, to The Mad Hatter, to Captain Jack Sparrow...

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Depp is constantly showing us the various personas and facets of his cool.


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And that quality seems to extend beyond his movie roles and into his off-screen appearances. Yo, Johnny. That suit is MURDA!




Prince (or “Princeton” as I calls him):


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This cat was busy being cool while the rest of the world was trying to figure out what his true sexuality was… or what his lyrics really meant. I mean, come on: "Reach For The Purple Banana Till They Roll Us In The Truck?" WTF?

His whole genre of Cool is different. It’s part retro/part futuristic, part androgynous/part glam-slam swagger. He’s unique and so damned talented, multifaceted, and charismatic, and yet he’s managed to remain this ultimately mysterious character, no matter what has been written, said, attested. Face it. What do you REALLY KNOW about Prince?

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To be so damned famous and to still remain an enigma is the very Essence of Cool.


Angelina Jolie:

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She's one of those special peeps I consider a friend in my head. What makes Angie so effortlessly cool is not just her distinctive look-- which is edgy, stunning, dangerously-gorgeous and always uber-sexy… nor is it her thoroughbred thespian chops, which have already been awarded with Oscar, Emmys and Golden Globes, and it’s not her notorious past of drug addiction, cutting, self-mutilation and same-sex relationships; it’s her ability to transcend all of that shadiness in her yesterday to become a citizen of the world today, an ambassador, a mother of six and somehow still remain a world renowned icon.

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Yes, her glamour game might be beyond extra-terrestrial...

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But it’s the global size and scope of her heart and her world vision that makes her so damned Cool.



And then there was One…

Barack Obama aka The King Of Coolness:


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Sometimes his sense of cool is damn-near ridiculous for a man of such power. No, I don’t mean the street-lively bop of his gait, nor the fact that he plays a rousing game of b-ball on White House premises. It is that nothing and no one, not the press, not those media vultures, nor the blatant lies of Fox News nor certain Republican candidates can fade him or get this man’s goat.

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His cool is so transcendent that to call him 'laidback' would be a most gross understatement. Obama? Fly off the handle? Apparently, that’s NOT in his nature nor his DNA.


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Sometimes I'll wonder: has Michelle ever once pissed him off to the point of him raising his voice? Hmmmm... *ponders*


And there you have it. There must be some that I’ve missed, but I fear there really aren’t very many… well, not anymore.

Who or what defines cool for you?

And when did you first become aware of this concept called Coolness?

Any Candidates Of Cool come to mind?


Holla.


One.

28 comments:

Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz said...

I just kept saying Yep, Yep, Yep...
Your Cool List is Right On!And your descriptions perfect. I think I would truly be 'star struck' around any one on your list and might just manage to shake their hands, and then need support to keep from fainting...words, I would be at a loss but maybe if I took your words with me, that might help! I'd sure be snatching some joy!

QH said...

First off, thanks for the love on my ABBA piece. I always enjoy when you stop by. I thought this was a refreshing and clever piece, I may have picked some different cool folks (though your thoughts on Prince & our President ( I love them both) were spot on). Continue on!-QH

Lovebabz said...

And you Beautiful One, are the COOLEST!

Add Nina Simone, Eddie Kendricks, Calvin Lockhart, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Anyone from the Marsalis family, add those to the mix.

Moanerplicity said...

@ Teri:

Thanks. I'm quite sure there are some other who might better fit your personal opinion of cool.


I'm really not the kind of person to get starstruck. It would take a LOT of charisma coming my way to leave me flustered or feeling faint. *smiles* The only person who MIGHT leave me blattering would be Stevie Wonder (& he's not even on my list!)... & that would be because I've always deeply admired him as a musician, writer, artist & social activist. Besides that, his atrtistry has gotten me through some hard times.

I'm friendly w/ some people who've been in his company & they say he's a pretty regular dude & very likable off-stage. If that's true, it would only increase my admiration of the man.


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Moanerplicity said...

@ Q:

You're welcome, man.

Somehow I think any list you'd compose would include even more musicians than my own. Just a feeling I get. *smiles*

Take care, bruh.

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Moanerplicity said...

@ Lovebabz:

Why thankyavurrrmuch, my Lovely Sista. *smiles*

I already explained the reason WHY I'm NOT quite so cool.

But let's go through YOUR list, shall we?


Nina Simone: Loved Nina. Still do. Sometimes her SOUND was cool, and there could be a certain coolness to her vocals, but Ms. Simone was QUICK to go off on a mofo. Her phrasing could also very easily turn a corner from soothing to POWERFUL pissosity. This seemed to relfect a part of her no-nonsense personality. Legend has it that she was not above even cussing out audience members. Much of that was probably due to her mental illness issues. But as beloved as Ms. Simone is, I wouldn't call her cool. The Sista was waaaay, waaaaaaaaay TOO vivid in her anger.The opposite of cool, Nina was or could be explosive and mad PASSIONATE!


Eddie Kendricks: Ok. I almost can go w/ this one. Eddie was the coolest member of the Tempts. He has his own quiet swagger which was defined cool in its time. I see old clips & actually miss that quality that he & cats like him once exuded. But I'm not sure if that coolness factor still holds up. It's a toss up. Not sure. But Eddie definitely had some coolness about him.


Calvin Lockahart: YES! You nailed it. I actually wanted to emulate this cat back in the day. Handsome, suave and coolly sophisticated air, impeccable manner and dresser, he had coolness in spades, wiped all those other actors clean off the screen, & shoulda been a much Bigger Movie Star. I don't know much about his private life, & even that's kinda cool. He had charisma out the ying-yang & certainly projected a mad cool flava on the screen.


Malcolm: Ummm.. I almost mentioned him, because he was at least 80 percent intelligence, mixed with righteous indignation. I hear tell that he even followed fashion, liked to dress well, and wasn't above indulging in the gossip of the day. The latter is not the coolest of activities. However, I think a sense of Refined Fury was the quality Malcolm most projected. It can be mistaken as cool. But it's actually quite different. I'm not mad at the mention, tho.



The Marsalis fam: Pops Ellis. The very epitome of well-aged coolness. I like him. I like his mellow. His talent is smooth and his genetic slippage speaks volumes.

Branford, love him madly & have ever since I saw the String documentray "Bring On The Night." Branford is duh man, yo! He's funny, mad clever, a helluva sax player, and best of all he's HUMBLE. Very cool traits. He's also witty & gets the joke. I'm a fan of his. Yes, all those qualities are the kind I'd seek in a friend, and they certainly make him a candidate for coolness.

Delfeayo & Jason: ummm...they are the baby bros and I'm not that familiar with their steelo, though I sincerely admire their jazz chops & pedigree. If they are anything at all like Branford, personality-wise, then both dudes get a free Cool Pass from me.


Now... their older brother Wynton... Cool? Umm... not so much. There's waaay too much arrogance there. Like the need to TEACH, instruct, talk down to damn-near errrr-e-body who'll listen. Completely humility-free. No matter how much you know (about jazz, past, present & future), it's not a very attractive quality to lord it over others in some superior way. So on the coolness scale, he gets the big thumbs down from me.

But you know what? I really liked your additions. They challenged me & made me consider a few things. And besides, LATA for what I think! Much like beauty, true Coolness is in the eye of the beholder!


One.

Roger Poladopoulos said...

Excellent dissertation on Cool, my blogger brother. In my own limited perception, cool is beyond definition: it is someone who marches to the beat of a different drummer, oblivious to the judgements of others, be they supporters or detractors. Cool can be male or female, tall or short, Deaf or hearing, black or white. No matter the person, their level of coolness rests inside them: in their heart, mind and soul. Great post!

♥ CG ♥ said...

Loved the coolness in your breakdown of cool. Where's your pic? It should be up there with the others :-)

Moanerplicity said...

@ Roger:

Your wrote: "Cool can be male or female, tall or short, Deaf or hearing, black or white. No matter the person, their level of coolness rests inside them..."


Perfectly stated, my friend. I could not agree more.


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Moanerplicity said...

@ CG:


Awww. Thanks for Duh Coolness vote muy friend... but even by my own defintion, I'M NOT WORTHY, yo! *smiles*


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Anna Renee said...

Lin, when you're cool, you just are. Don't deny.

I agree with your list and your sidebar has a few more cool cats and cattesses as well. Sade does it for me.

People who are not afraid of themselves in their "quirkiness" and who go full throttle "doing them" makes me smile.

I like Johnny Cash because he sang about a man name Sue. He got me with that song and a few others.

True story. I worked with a guy named Su, Sucetas, and we played that song by Johnny all the time. In the basement receiving mailroom at the bookstore.

Su loved that song. As a matter of fact, Su was an ultra cool dude.

This was a damned good post, Lin.

J said...

Man, I agree with CC. Where's your pic, bruh? Huh?

Everyone listed in this post is right on the money. Great write, bro pen.

Moanerplicity said...

@ Anna May:

Thanks Sista Westsiiiide.

oTAY, let's say I'M cool 60% of the time... that still doesn't make me officially cool. Someone might catch me slipping on one of those 40% type days. *smiles*

Actually, although I would have never thought of him, yes, Mr. Cash was kinda cool. Ummm... country cool. Or maybe he just made Country cool. He had mad edge, always wore black, possessed a slice of danger in his swager... plus he wasn't afraid to show us his demons. Very good songwriter. Yes, the public personna was definitely cool.


Sade. Yes. I quite agree. She's a long tall drink of Cool.


Thanks for weighing in, A.M.


One.

Moanerplicity said...

@J:

Ummm... thanks for the Honorable Mention, Bro Pen. It took a while to come up w/ a list of only 8. Ten woulda been a mind-stretch.


One.

Queen of My Castle said...

I smiled and nodded my head the entire time I read this post. If I may add, there is something crazily sexy about a cool, calm, laidback man. Very enjoyable read :-)

Moanerplicity said...

@ Queen of My Castle:

Yup, coolness is a much desired trait for some of us. Sometimes tho, a little bit of it goes a long way. *smiles*

Thanks for visiting.



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Lin

Chet said...

Cool isn't a learned behavior for most either it is in you or it's not. It's a way of life a classy yet daring and unconventional style, but cleverly displayed.

Moanerplicity said...

@ Chet:

Very well-stated bruh. I concur. In fact YOUR succinct definition trumps my own & I'd dare say it's the COOLEST one yet!

Thanks for weighing in, mane.


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Mizrepresent said...

How did i miss this post. Cool? Cool is being able to maintain your head inspite of your conditions, people, surroundings. Cool exemplifies your already God Given Talent to control (without them even knowing it) your fate, your thoughts, your talent, your mastering of everything we were meant to be. Cool, is the true definition of Peace, some may not believe, but when you have peace, faith and confidence, you handle everything cooly. You are Cool my brother, so cool and all the folks you have listed here have that in them, showed it, the world recognized and now we honor it. Great post!

Anna Renee said...

Lin, it's very uncool when a real cool dude says he's not cool!!! Trust! You are cool! *smile*

You are cool.

That's it,
That's all.

S.J!

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Moanerplicity said...

@ Miz:

I really like...ummm... dig what you wrote... ummm... spat right here. *smiles* I agree completely that cool is based in FAITH and in having a peaceful mentality.

The Truly Cool never start, condone, engage in nor embrace drama of any kind. Everything w/ them is just CHILLLLL, yo... & that's very definition of Coolness!


& thanks for the inclusion. ;-)

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Moanerplicity said...

@ Anna:

oTAY, Anna May! You win. I lose. I'm COOOOOL, dammit! I'm cool as hell, yo! Cooler than a group of Eskimos, in January, chillin' in an igloo! Aiight??? lol.

But ya KNOW you wile, right?

;-)

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Anna Renee said...

Now you cookin' with gas!

Yes, I know. ;-)

Moanerplicity said...

@ A.M.:

Yo. Bet!

Coolness.


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Up4Dsn said...

Whoa! This was a great post. Your break down of COOL was on point. So many people long to be cool, but don't even understand what it entails. Really dope post.

Moanerplicity said...

@ Up4Dsn:


Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed this post & that you recognized its utter dopeness. *smiles*

Stop by anytime.


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Daij said...

As I read along I was thinking "ok, he's got Miles Davis , George Clinton, and Mechell Ngdeocello on the list ( all of whom i love) , but I was thinking he's got to have Prince and President Obama on the list. And do you! The only person I would add is John Coltrane. This is a great blog entry. I love music-related blog entries, especially when they include my favorite musicians. And the President.

Moanerplicity said...

@Daij:

Thanks for the co-sign.

re Coltrane: Yes, after he conquered his harrowing demons, nixed his heroin addiction, & actively sought a life of reflection & Spiritual Enlightenment, it was THEN that his Coolness truly became more evident in his music & in his very existence.

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