Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Randomness: Bruce Lee on Fame and Being a "Star," Pray Tell What Lessons Do Your Heroes have for All of Us?

Some randomness for you all.

I have a few heroes in my life: Brother Malcolm, Martin, Muhammad Ali, and Bruce Lee. True, no bs. One of the favorite truisms I have heard throughout my years is that black folk have two pictures in their homes: Bruce Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. For some, we would add JFK Jr., especially if you went to my grandma's house.

Random factoid: I actually studied Kung Fu with one of, if not the only, African Americans to study with the most high and skilled teachers in China. I will never forget watching this brother doing our forms in dress shoes as I slipped, bare footed, embarrassed, and near fallen in front of him. Our teacher smiled, suppressed a laugh, and said I best keep practicing...

I also remember him hitting me once and I damn near was lifted off of my feet. Funny, after a few years of study I still was an incompetent...but ironically, that little bit I absorbed saved my life on one frightening night. Trust, if I had a time machine I would go back and pay closer attention to Brother Paul's teaching so I could actually be semi-competent beyond the ability to fight off young ign'ts with undersized pistols who happened to tangle with the wrong negro.

As we reach for the stars, as our wings of wax melt, and we keep on trying despite the obstacles, Brother Bruce Lee's words still resonate. I keep on trying to be a star even though I am far from being one. But funny, thus my faith in the creator of the multiverse, I keep getting lucky despite myself.

Ain't fate grand?

My respectable negroes friends and allies, tell me of your heroes and what lessons they have taught you? Are your heroes conventional or unconventional? Are these personal lessons which none can comprehend? Or are these teachings for all of us to grasp and share?


CNu said...

nothing random about this post, that interview, or your lionizing Bruce Lee CD.

Bruce Lee probably exerted the single greatest non-familial role-model influence on the arc of my own life, avocations, and personal efforts - and I'll tell you exactly how - by making his mastery of the martial arts plainly and shockingly apparent.

After reading the way of jeet kune do and every one of his biographies I could ever get my hands on, the story and the example of Bruce Lee served to singularly demystify the martial arts and put everything there was to know about training, conditioning, and practice into the realm of the readily graspable and shareable.

Bruce Lee personified the culture of competence to which we all should aspire if, as a species, we're going to make it through the evolutionary cul-de-sac that our addiction to conspicuous consumption and status-seeking has led us down.

After rather fully grasping what Sifu Lee had to teach about the way of the intercepting fist, I found it comparatively easy to grasp what George Gurdjieff had to say about consciousness and man's individual psychological potential what Schwaller de Lubicz had to say about pharaonic civilization and man's collective cultural potential.

These two would then serve as my "heroes" and the lessons that they've taught me have provided me with a tangible path for personal development and external service and effort.

Cobb said...

Bruce Lee was, of course, a hero of mine. In one way he was the other side of the coin to Muhammad Ali. Bruce was, in all of his fighting, not only a reluctant hero but a reactionary in the best way - which is that he never struck first.

Lee never had anything to prove, he was not a badass, and it was interesting to watch him in his masterpiece on the Island of Han in which he always smiled as he begun a fight. We always knew he would win. He always knew he would win.

I've done a lot more thinking about Lee and the philosophy of his art in the intervening years, so it's hard to get a true bearing on my original attraction. But I wanted to be like Bruce because I thought of myself as fast and skinny like him and not one to pick a fight. Practically speaking however, I taught myself a bit of the Bo, which was also my 8th grade nickname.

Jim Kelly's karate studio was a short mile from my house on Crenshaw Boulevard, and I would go and stare in the window from time to time. When other kids were idolizing Shaft and The Mack and Superfly, I stuck with Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly and John Saxon.

For a short time, Billy Jack was the man. It was the movie I managed to sneak off and see the most times. It rocked my world later to discover that I had witnessed that rape scene so many times not really realizing that it was rape.


My original hero was Batman and all of the astronauts of course. But Muhammad Ali and Bruce took center stage during my middle school years.

In high school, I became some combination Funkateer, Trekkie and Jesus Freak who could recite Richard Pryor from memory. I still haven't really deconstructed all of that. So Bruce Lee was probably the last time I bothered to model myself around any whole person.

Your driver said...

Slightly off topic, but growing up I had an Irish friend who had a picture of the Kennedy brothers holding hands with MLK as they entered the gates of heaven. I always thought that was a cool picture.

Your driver said...

Oh, I forgot to mention his parents had the picture, framed and over the sofa in the living room.

Oh Crap said...

Some of my heroes, none of whom appeared on any stamps:

Loretta Long aka Susan from Sesame Street

Tricia Toyota, newsanchor Channel 4 KNBC Los Angeles

Connie Chung, newsanchor Channel 2 KCBS Los Angeles

Rita Moreno on Electric Company

Goldie Hawn on Laugh In (saw it all in syndication)

Gilda Radner on SNL (same for syndication)

Oh Crap said...

Bruce Lee was hawt.

Anonymous said...

I had a MAD crush on Bruce Lee when I was little even before I knew what a 'crush' meant. Sad to see though after the 'Airbender' mess we haven't moved that far from him being shafted and not getting 'Kung Fu'. But I think he still could have been a star if he had lived that would have been very cool. Damn I have to get a new poster.