Friday, September 9, 2011

Partnerships in Omar Tyree's "Pecking Order" and Ice Cube's "Janky Promoters"

I haven't read a good Omar Tyree book in a while, so I was glad when I discovered a copy of "Pecking Order" (2008) at my local library. Two of his previous novels, "Just Say No" (2001) and "Diary of a Groupie" (2003) are easily amongst my favourite books of all times...this one also didn't disappoint.

Overall, I found the book to be a bit too long. I loved the story, and was definitely interested in seeing what would happen to the overnight sensation, commoner-turned-celebrity promoter Ivan David...but I found that it took a long time to get to the end.

Around 500 pages in length, "Pecking Order" is a story about a California accountant who is tired of being just a regular guy. He wants to be on the VIP list. He wants to side-step the lineup at the club. He wants to ball with the ballers and begins to yearn for recognition and status in the town of San Diego where he works and resides.

After glimpsing the beautiful and intriguing Lucina Gallo outside of a local event, he is jump started into his mission to be a top-a-top man in his city.

His journey is interesting: he plans, he networks, skillfully builds relationships--and surrounded by gorgeous women, professional athletes, and the city's richest business people, he quickly rises to the top of his game.

What I love about the Omar Tyree books that I've read thus far is the element of entertainment fantasy. By reading these three novels (by no coincidence) of his over the years, I really and truly appreciate how he recreates the "inside look" into the lives of the rich and famous. It's fascinating to me in real life...and fasinating to me in fiction as well.

However...and this is a big much as I enjoyed the book, a part of me was waiting for at least a tiny glimpse of reality. As Ivan David rose to the top of his game, hooked up with models, and secretly yearned for his business partner Lucina...I kind of expected at least something to go wrong. I mean...isn't that how stories go? There's a rise...maybe a little fall...a bit of redemption, and then inevitably a lesson learned or some relief/redemption at the end?

Not this story. Ivan got bigger and better, his website blew up to a multi-million dollar corporation. Even situations with females didn't turn out as disastrous as they could have (and should have!)...and in the end, well, Ivan is on top of the world.

Everyone loves a happy ending, but something about the constant success, and consistent ease with which Ivan's success came proved to be a little bit disappointing almost.

Furthermore, I didn't even really like Ivan. He got cocky, he hardly showed any sentimental moments that made me trust and believe in his integrity...he just continued to be a hard ass business man with a brilliance for numbers and accounting. And I guess that's why he became the face of San Diego...and not just another accountant stuck behind a cubicle, wishing for "more" of out life.

Nonetheless, it was a great read, and I truly did need to get to the end of that book (desperately) to see if Ivan would fail. But he didn't. And he even got the girl. No problem. Easy stuff.

A funny contrast was Ice Cube's movie "Janky Promoters" (2009) that I happened to watch while in the middle of reading "Pecking Order." HORRIBLE movie, but because of Ice Cube's fine azz and the cutie Young Jeezy...I watched it from beginning to end.

I know the first time I saw Cube in "Friday" I thought it was also some stupid s***....and then it turned out to be one of the funniest movies I'd ever seen when I caught it the second, third, (twentieth...) time. "Janky Promoters"...not likely. I had a few chuckles, but overall it was pretty dumb and it will not be on repeat.

But because of my entertainment selections, promoters have been on my mind hard. What does it take to make it as a promoter? What does it take to be a respected business person? And both "Pecking Order" and "Janky Promoters" really made it evident. At the core of both stories was one thing: a partnership.

The partnership between Ice Cube (Russell Redds) and Mike Epps (Jellyroll) was a joke. There was no trust, bad communication, and a complete lack of knowledge and experience. But with the partnership between Ivan David and Lucina Gallo, there was great judgement, sharing of strategies, and a loyalty that couldn't be shaken.

So no huge life lessons or light-bulb "ah ha" moments from either, but I really did love the strength of the partnership between Ivan and Lucina in the book and felt that it was the most powerful message of the text. Despite the money, the status, the yachts and luxury cars, partying with celebs, and taking over the city...the one thing that felt satisfying throughout was that when all was said and done, Ivan had maintained a solid relationship with Lucina.

If nothing else, that was inspiring. Because as we saw with Russell Redds and Mike Epps, having the right people on your team really does determine how well you are going to do in life sometimes, and even how quickly and efficiently you are going to do it.

So Redds and Jelly got Young Jeezy to perform...Ivan and Lucina got a house in the hills, and the partnerships proved to be the real prize in the end after all the fiascos and plotting that it took to get these promoters to a pleasureable plateau.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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