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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?



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?


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?


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?


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


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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...


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


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):


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?


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

Angelina Jolie:


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.


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


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:


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.


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.


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?