Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A reviewer from "Mail Online" called it Dances with Smurfs. I've read a lot of commentaries in the past few days concerning Avatar; people taking shots at James Cameron; complaining about everything from how expensive the film is, to how flimsy and cliche' the story is. I think that there are many valid points to be made about what's bad about the film; cliche', sure; flimsy plot line, OK; $450 mil production costs, that's the producers problem not yours; this is the most visually stunning film since LOTR; money well spent says my artistic sensibilities. But, the commentary about how racist the film is, is too much even for my radical ass.
The criticism goes like this; you've got a white, male protagonist who goes "native", hooks up with the tribe's princess and becomes the "great white hope," saving all the natives from the evil that is upon them. There is some discussion as to whether this film is just another white fantasy flick, in which centuries of oppression are dealt with by placing a white person, in the role of savior to an entire race or tribe, such as in Dances With Wolves. I agree that there are many similarities and it is valid to ask the question, "why another white male in the position of hero and savior to an indigenous population, when there is clearly no basis in reality for such a role"; history has white folk pegged as oppressors (sorry, take it up with your ancestors not me).
Now, to clarify, I understand where the criticism is coming from and certainly some of it is quite valid in many ways; but this is Science Fiction, people! It's not supposed to reflect reality.
Calling Avatar another example of Hollywood's racist agenda is not seeing the forest for the trees. First off, our white, male protagonist is not just a white dude; he's white, yes, but he's also a vet, disabled and he's poor. Except for Coming Home (1978) I don't recall ever seeing a protagonist that hit all three of these diverse categories of "shit out of luck." This, my friends, is diversity and insisting that since he's white the character is not fit for the role of hero to these people, is denying these other facts concerning the character and makes me wonder why they would be ignored in the first place by some of these critics.
The women in this film are all in powerful roles. Sigourney Weaver is a ball busting, brilliant scientist (smartest person in the film) and I should point out that the character, like the actress, is pushing 70; lest we forget that diversity also applies to age. Zoe Saldana as the leader of these aliens (actually she becomes leader later in the film, sorry about the spoiler, but it becomes obvious early on she's going to take charge anyways) is a courageous warrior, who holds her own against the males in her tribe. She doesn't fall for "avatar", Jake Sully, preferring to keep their relationship professional, until of course the two fall in love, which by my observation is a mutual affair (no rape, force or clubbing and dragging into a cave takes place). She is fierce, intelligent and deeply spiritual; another trifecta of shit women are not supposed to be in films. Lastly, Michelle Rodriguez's character, our fourth hero (notice: three heroic figures out of four are female) and clearly a woman of color; sacrifices herself in an incredibly valiant and unselfish act and not to mention is the only character on screen during a battle scene to reject violence and turns her back on the horror she sees. She is also, incidentally, the savior of this film, without her, forget the third act.
OK, so here we have it. Let's get this out in the open. As an aspiring film maker, screenwriter, what have you, I have a little bit of insight into how the system works and let me assure you that Hollywood only gives a fuck about one color; GREEN! They don't give a shit about our color, age, religion, political beliefs, struggles or whether you like Asian lady-boys for breakfast. They want your ass in the seat and they want you to bring a couple of friends and this movie is proof of that. 77 mil last week and 75 this week; guess what? It's a blockbuster and there is no denying that regardless of the criticisms it's going to go down in history as a smashing success and that is all that Hollywood gives a shit about. Everything else is incidental and instead of criticizing Cameron for the white male protagonist we should be recognizing him for getting a diversity of characters in positive roles.
Still not convinced? Well, then let me ask you this; the evil, racist, antagonists who were trying to destroy the natives without any consideration for their humanity, who were solely on the planet for the purpose of destroying everything in their paths and depriving the natives of any share of the wealth they were entitled to, weren't they rich, powerful, white males?
I think the only ones who should be bitching about this film's portrayal of power, gender and racial roles are those assholes on FOX and talk radio. Considering they have all but ignored this movie means they are either not going to the movies these days or our side is winning.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Americans own 2 million guns and according to the Guardian UK the FBI has been sifting through 7 million more applications, like the one Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan received, since Obama became president. This soldier, who by some accounts was so gentle he fed a pet bird from his own mouth and suffered racial slurs throughout his career in the army, is now the central figure in this terrible tragedy. The media has associated him with the Sept. 11th bombers. His religious views, which some are saying accounts for his opposition to the illegal wars we are still engaged in a year after we were promised CHANGE, are the focus of media reports that tell us a witness heard him yell, "god is great" in Arabic. And now Joe Lieberman, who has lost his fucking mind at this point, wants congress to investigate and decide on whether or not this incident could be called a terrorist attack; the consequences of which could be potentially disastrous for Muslims in this country. The blogs are teeming with messages from assholes demanding a good ol' fashioned dragging to peacenik commies who are admonishing us all to, "just take a breath."
Nations are fighting a dozen small wars around this world in places that don't register on the limited internal GPS taught to us as children. Violence is as normal a concept to us as would be a gun show next door to a kindergarten. Was this a terrorist attack? I think this was a terrorist attack, plain and simple. I think that it was an assault on innocent people. I believe the assailant of this crime to be the worst type of terrorist. But the true perpetrator, although believed to be apprehended, won't face any charges. As long as we, as a species, continue to accept that violence can resolve what words cannot; until we have grown tired of brutality as sport, a remedy for dissent and a means to punctuate our intentions and while we continue to think that sending our young to die on foreign land and we allow them to lose hope on neighborhood block; we will never, ever cease to bring to justice the true perpetrators of violence upon our kind. They will instead be rewarded through our ignorance with our blood and billions of dollars in compensation for creating the best tools for ending human life.
Hasan is a terrorist, the same way that weapons manufacturers, corrupt governments and other masters of propaganda are terrorists; by proxy, by definition and by consent. Until we, the victims of these terrorists, demand that civilized societies be defined by the daily acts of compassion their citizens show towards one another, we will always be on the hunt for terrorists, we will forever be doomed to watch our youth die in conflicts and we will never cease to see terrible tragedies unfold in the headlines, and the Hasans and Herstals of this world will continue to spread misery, hate and sorrow.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Sunday, August 02, 2009
I forget that I live a short 8 miles from the beach; correction, I live 8 miles from one of the nicest beaches in SoCal if not certainly the whole of the South Bay. So, I went out this week and spent every morning on the sand watching my son take his surf lessons. Well, every morning except the one following a nasty spell with sunburn. I forget that we are living in a post global warming era and the sun is far brutal than it has been, probably since before the age of Oxygen. I got toe' up and my shoulders still feel tight. Sunblock is not just for pussies anymore. Even us old school beach bums must use it. I got a little bit of writing done this week, though not much and I blame it on the waves, man. God, I love the waves. This beats corporate America all to hell; I'm never going back to work in a fucking office. If it ever comes to that, I'll walk into that ocean and never turning back.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Dear Sweet god, can the scared, racist, stupid assholes of this nation get any more pathetic? So now it seems BO is a Kenyan not to mention Arab, Muslim, terrorist. It just doesn't get any more sick minded and sad. Apparently, the idiots at Fox News and Lou "I hate brown people" Dobbs couldn't find anything else to fuck with BO about and have chosen this overtly racist, pseudo-patriotic heap of bullshit to go after our boy with. Here's a great link to Huff post, where you can watch Colbert rip the idiot that started this non-sense. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/29/colbert-vs-crazy-stephen_n_246700.html
Incidentally, this moron is a Russian immigrant, which I find particularly disgusting. Kind of like when Arnold suggests that immigrants should be forced to speak English; the shit just doesn't make sense. Don't let anyone tell you differently. At the core of their arguments there is pure, unadulterated racism and fear of the "other". These people, and allow me to point out that they are mostly old, white, hard-core, republican types, simply cannot wrap their diseased little minds around the fact that the rest of this country is ready to move beyond the bullshit baggage of race. In order to do this, however, we need to engage in a discussion of historical injustices, inequality and they must come to terms with their fears, as well as, lose the desire to return to a time when people of color smiled and nodded and accepted that they, white, racist mother fuckers, ran shit in this country. Those days are gone; long gone and will never return. Get over it and stop letting your fear control your emotions. We people of color already know what happens when whitey gets scared. They react violently and irrationally; no? not true? I submit to you that the last time whitey was this scared a federal building got blown to shit; and the weird part, the president was one of them, he was just cool with black people. My advice, be careful around white folk you don't know; some of them want to return to a time when white men were kings and the rest of us had to grin and bear it and there is no easier way to dismiss the accomplishments of people of color than to question and challenge their right to call themselves Americans.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Do Cyborgs Dream Electric Mensies?
An Exquisite Corpse Exercise by:
Shanks Carpenter Green
V. Lazaro Zamora
The SVTLN 2- “MAN HUNTER” put the bloody knee cap of a fresh kill in her mouth and only stopped chewing when she heard the rustling coming from the rubble where the lighthouse once stood. Her impulse to inspect was both willful and hesitant since earlier, she knew, that was the same spot she had discarded her used, crumpled, obscene tampon and the rustling both excited and disturbed her. She quickly and simultaneously activated her radar, heat sensing, 5mm rocket, infra-vision and pre-lubed the walls of her aftermarket, 2nd generation, EXTC-17 vagina.
While the thought of alien penetration flustered the steel springs of her heaving, synthetic, light pink cunt lips, she couldn’t formulate (properly) the sensible computations for the invasive barrage of images resembling the stock memory of her humanoid father sprinkling the white spatter of creamy human goo across her sleeping face. She pushed the humiliation of her youth and the impulse to find a safe place in the wasteland to masturbate to her thoughts and moved towards the rubble, leaving the gutted, emasculated corpse of another assassin behind her.
Strangely, with no construct of mathematical logic, she released her rockets and decimated the earth within a 2.7 mile radius all around her; screaming hysterically and inexplicably, while the napalm aura engulfed her and rose to the heavens.
When she woke, the sky had cleared and sand had turned to glass and her metallic skin radiated the heat of her vengeance; no one fucks for free, she thought, no one fucks for free, ever again! The anguish of her digital scream resounded through the aftermath of charred earth and unfamiliar emotion and only died down as the sand moved and crept and gelled into the solid mass of her father who looked at her and sternly and uttered, “Bitch, there’s no escaping daddy’s cock,” and then slapped his “Svetlana” with the cold force of his backhand.
Monday, July 06, 2009
This is not a picture of the Del Amo Mall as it stands today. It is what it may look like within the next couple of years. I love a great mall and without apology, I will come forward and admit that, despite all of my anti-consumer rhetoric, I like heading out from time to time and browsing the shelves of the Gamestops, Brookstones and Suncoast Video store. There is something genuinely American about having a Pakistani, Kiosk operator try to sell me a Chinese made Che' Guevara, Ipod protector or rhinestone encrusted, diamond shaped belt buckle. That's why, I was so incredibly distraught by a visit I paid to the Del Amo Mall this weekend. The Del Amo is the former holder of the world's largest mall and has appeared prominently in Bad Santa, Jackie Brown and Valley Girl. At any time of day the Del Amo is packed to the rafters with eager shoppers, dropping bundles of cash on shit they don't need. So, when my wife suggested we go to the mall, the day after Independence Day, in the middle of the afternoon, I was expecting to relive a scene from a Romero flick. However, that did not happen. Instead, it appears that this mighty fountainhead of capitalism, has been ravaged by the DEPRESSION (YES, we are in a DEPRESSION!).
Many of the stores, have been closed down and operations in the ones still up and running have been scaled down considerably. The post-apocalypse consumers wander the corridors like going into any of the shops will give them leprosy; it is a sad thing to see. With few exceptions, the mall is a former shadow of itself. People are buying at the Gamestop; perhaps a reflection of the desire to escape the misery of life in the wake of the Bush years. The Chinese chair massage guy nearly tackled me when I walked past his shop; now empty except for the faint smell of patchouli and ass. Even Brookstone, where they were trying to sell self-sustaining eco-systems (a couple of dwarf frogs, a bamboo shoot and a snail in a tiny plastic bowl) at $40 a pop, has resorted to slashing prices on the other useless shit they sell.
People are walking the mall, staring at the things they wish they could buy, take home and let depreciate on a shelf somewhere; being unable to afford even a months supply of weight loss tea, most of the consumers are left staring at those few who are walking around with bags of merchandise. Oddly enough, while we are all in an economic shit storm, there are some of us who can still afford vacations, shopping sprees at the mall and driving SUVs that get 4 miles to the gallon. I'm baffled by the new dynamic of our economy and I'm left wondering when this terrible shit is going to end; though if you ask Joe Biden, he and BO had no clue it was as bad as it really is until just recently.
I think perhaps it's time to re-examine why we let the same people who have brought this mess on us, continue to keep what is not theirs for the keeping. Of course, the Rush Limbaughs of this world, have got the NASCAR fans and Sarah Palinites convinced that if you tax the shit out of the rich, they will hide "their" money and we will suffer worse for it. I would argue that, in this depression and long before it, they managed to hide "their" money just fine. The difference is that now, all one has to do is go to a shopping mall if you want to see them hide it in plain sight.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
PS. RIP Michael Jackson. I give two shits about all the scandal; "Thriller" changed how I listened to music, and I'm thankful for and have to recognize his genius!
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Pussy farts? That's all you got?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??!!!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I never thought I would agree with Chuck Grassely. He's an angry, old, white man who represents the angry, old, white people of Iowa. We just run in different circles. But I have to hand it to the asshole. He said that the thieving bastards from AIG who want to walk away with 165 Mil of tax payer money should either give up the money or publicly kill themselves. I think it's about time people started talking about violence as a remedy for our financial woes. Hanging bastards like Jeff Skilling, Dennis Kozlowski's and Bernie Madoff off the side of a bridge from their nutsacks won't bring a single dime back to the investors or taxpayers. It would, however, give me a warm fuzzy feeling and personally I don't know what would be wrong with feeding the whole lot of them to a pack of hungry badgers, on prime time TV. Actually, if we could find someone to produce a show where these soft fingered, amoral, lowlifes have to run through a maze of death only to be dismembered if they make it out anyway, I would actually consider watching TV again (other than BSG, of course, (please don't go!))
I think we could have a celebrity version of the "Labyrinth of Reprisal" or "The Great Reparation Relay" (Mark Burnett, eat your heart out). We could actually start with Chuck Grassley. He did, after all, TAKE "119 earmarks totaling nearly $120 million" according to the Iowa Independent, so in that sense he's as much a thieving piece of shit as those AIG types.
It's like this, those fuckers on 9/11 killed 3000 people in the blink of an eye. It sucked and we retaliated as only we Americans can; we bombed the shit out of brown people. Right? We threw cab drivers in prison indefinitely and tortured and maimed and let GWB take a big ol' shit on our Constitution and ultimately we killed an assload of people as retribution for the death of our 3000. We took our pound of flesh and declared a "War on Terror" and we called it justice when we shocked and awed those mother fuckers "over there".
Now, all of a sudden, the bad guys are wearing $10k black Armani suits and for some reason we have to treat them with kidgloves. We have to follow the letter of the law; the lawyers have to open their appointment books and the justice Department has to ask politely for affidavits. Does the law request a hearing when a young black kid in the ghetto sells a joint on a street corner? Do the Sheriff's Deputies knock politely on the door of a family who is being evicted because they can't pay the mortgage? NO! The law brings in the bulldozers, pops off the flash bangs and wrestles your 90 year old granny to the ground with a a Jiu-jitsu death choke!
Yet, these "greed is good", Ayn Rand and Henry Kissinger worshipping mother fuckers have been the cause of more suicides, poverty and general misery in the US and worldwide for the last 30 years than any camel fucking terrorist. They have brought our country to the brink of economic collapse and have destroyed lives with their corrupted souls and "fuck you = more for me" approach to making a living. Suicide is too good for them; ALL OF THEM! I say, let's watch them run for their lives. Let's grab pitchforks and chase them down alleyways and watch the gutters fill with blood. Let's write about them in history books as the thieves that tried to destroy us all. Let's soil their names and wreck their lives for generations to come the way they have ruined our credit and turned our lives upside down. BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!
Or we could just make them pay back all of the money they stole, make "short selling" illegal from now on and outlaw earmarks permanently. At least that would be a start.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Late night T.V. just keeps getting funnier and funnier and this week Jimmy Fallon just added his own pot of stupidly unfunny to the already dull and tasteless late night buffet. I didn't think he would pull off to begin with, but it was truly depressing to see him try to do a monologue that was written for an audience of coma patients; he just stood there with his eyes wide open like some cat that is about to get hit by a dump truck. He played beer pong with Serena Williams, had Drew Barrymore lick a bowling ball and had a dance off with Cameron Diaz in his first ground breaking week. And the thrills didn't stop there. Watching him interview "The Donald" showed how unprepared he really. Mr. Combover hijacked the interview and used it as an opportunity to promote his own show and nothing more; Fallon has no control. The good news for Jimmy Kimmel is now he has someone whose career he'll be able to laugh at; when he's not crying over breaking up with Sarah Silverman for the upmteenth time. Oddly enough, not being able to watch either of these trainwrecks forced me to switch over to Craig Ferguson for the first time in ages. Looks like Ferguson might finally have his shit together. His ad libs are still hit or miss, but he looks comfortable and like he's at least having fun doing his job, a big difference from the early days. Late night TV sucks ass in general and it's time for some fresh blood, but Jimmy Fallon is totally wrong for the job.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Talk about chicken shit. Rush "The fat drug addicted hypocritical, scumbag," Limbaugh owned Michael Steele this weekend at the RNC convention. Steele then goes on D.L. Hughely and defends himself and finally calls it like it is on that fat piece of shit, as any person in his position should have done. Limbaugh goes on his show and tells his listeners that Steele is not the GOP, doesn't represent the GOP and that he is the GOP! Steele then totally pusses out and apologizes. APOLOGIZES for Christ sakes. That's like having an asshole throw his drink on you and then asking him for forgiveness to avoid a fight. This is what the GOP has come too. I knew years ago that that stupid asshole Limbaugh would eventually end up ruining the party and that it was only a matter of time before he completely hijacked it. Now what's left is for him to actually assume an official role in the party, followed by an invasion of Poland. You don't need Jon Stewart if you want a good laugh at the expense of the Republican party; you just need to stay tuned and watch.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
So, it looks like Bobby Jindal is a fucking idiot and not very likely to pop back up on our radar anytime soon. If last night was any indication as to the state of the Republican party, it's safe to say that BO will be keeping the best seat in the Oval Office warm until 2016. Seriously, a governor from the state that nearly had an entire city wiped off the face of the earth not 5 years ago, can't understand why people in Washington state and Hawaii might need volcano monitoring equipment? I say again, what a fucking idiot. This guy was supposed to be the great brown hope of the GOP and now both he and Michael Steele are out making the party look like GWB left the white house and took the partys brain home to Texas with him. What a train wreck, man. I think we saw the end of the party for good last night. There is no way that they are going to reconnect with voters anytime soon and it's unlikely that the Dems will be able to fuck things up any worse than they are for quite some time. Anyone notice that Sarah "Bukake librarian" Palin has completely disappeared? I mean aside from a small blurb about her having to pay back the state of Alaska for stealing money to take her kids on tour with her last Fall, there is nothing out there about her. I think she's trying to avoid a Bobby Jindal moment and if she gets through the next four years without publicly making a fool of herself she might get those die hard, right wing, racist, Jesus freak,morons from last Fall to come out of the wood work for her again in 12'. Let's all just hope some really dirty pictures of her getting it on with another chick make their way to TMZ or smoking gun. Judging from the myriad shitbag potential candidates that the GOP is already out parading around, a bit of hot lesbo, experimenting might actually make Palin a potential threat to BO's re-election chances. Jesus Christ, I miss Bob Dole.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
A young, chubby girl with sausagesque fingers and cat like eyes lights a cigarette and continues talking into her phone, over the noise of downtown movement. She fumbles for a lighter in a rainbow colored purse and continues talking in between the sucking and puffing on the filter of a Camel Turkish Delight. By the time she is half done with the cigarette, she has filled the air around her with negativity; her boredom with the seminars, her dislike for the other writers she has met, the failure to gain knowledge from any of the panelists. She insists that she should have stayed home and worked on her manuscript.
She tells the person on the other end, “I didn’t really need to come to this. It was stupid. What a waste.” Her milky white cheeks are now red from the whip and stretch of the numbing cold and she puts out her cigarette in the gold plated ashtray under the heaters that fail to live up to their name on this morning. She hangs up the phone and walks past me to into the carousel doors. I smell the faint trail of vanilla she leaves behind as vanishes into the crowded lobby of the Chicago Hilton.
It is done now. The AWP is a wrap and I have celebrated with a ten dollar glass of Dewars (neat of course) in the mock Irish tavern on the lobby level of the Hilton. I forget about the 4 extra dollars I have just overpayed for a mediocre brand as I walk through the revolving doors. I climb into the back seat of a gray-skinned, four-wheeled beast. I leave the downtown area for the last time this week and head for the old neighborhood.
The line stretches out of the restaurant and onto the sidewalk, snaking down the block for at least 20 yards. People shiver, but the snot and tears will not get in the way of a good meal and no man dares utter the phrase, “let’s go it’s too long.”; not on valentines evening. My father climbs down onto the frozen pavement and tells my mother to park in the lot. He walks toward the restaurant doors and we drive up into the lot, where a bundled up parking attendant waves us off and starts yelling that there is no parking. My mother opens the window and sticks her head out. She looks at the man and smiles and ask, “no?” The smile is instantly returned by the attendant, who laughs and starts frantically waving us in. “Claro que si. Claro que si.”
I walk down 18th street and see the crowd down the way, in front of the restaurant, I will fight my way through it; but this moment is for reserved for taking inventory of what has bloomed and decayed in my absence. “The fire. See?” My mother points at the building directly in front of the restaurant and I see the shell of a building that was once a home to the old Eastern European immigrants, before it was the home for the new Latin American immigrants, before it died a fiery death, a few months ago. I stop and look at the damage for a moment and my mother walks on towards the crowd. The damage caused by the fire looks like it was caused by a fire that started in the bakery in the building next door. The bakery was only a few years old, but though everyone complained about the prices, the creations were wonderful pieces of edible confection and I lament missing out on a chocolate cupcake, laced with chile’ and buttercream frosting. My stomach protests the sightseeing and refuses to miss another meal today so I turn and walk towards the crowd.
When I reach the line my parents call to me from inside the restaurant, over the angry looks of people who can’t believe our audacity. I look past them, and at the doorway; they notice my indifference to their complaint twisted faces and collectively and silently make it difficult for me to make it into the restaurant. Half way through to the door a family, being led by a teenage boy with Down syndrome, comes out of the restaurant’s inner doorway towards me. I am already to the door of the restaurant, but see that the boy is having trouble getting through the crowd and he begins to screech excitedly. His mother gently nudges him, saying softly, “Dale’ Nestor. Dale’ Mijo.”
I take his arm and guide him back towards the opening asking people to please step aside. He continues screeching and laughing under his breath. I let the rest of the family through and I turn back towards the door of the restaurant. I don’t need to ask to get through; the people have seen a good deed and they reward me by stepping aside. My Carne Asada will taste better tonight than it ever has.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Huron Room of the 8th floor is packed to capacity. I can’t see into the room, but I can hear the speakers, though I missed half of the discussion and don’t know what’s going on. People are standing in the back of the room and occasionally some asshole, with a sense of entitlement, pushes through the crowd and works their way to the front; What the Fuck?
A security guard in blue polyester, with a gold, lapel pin that relates his authority with a small letter “a” comes through and waves his “walky talky”. He asks people to “please clear out the back of the room.” The bottom drops out of his baritone voice, when some bald-headed, guy, sporting way too many Black Flag buttons, says with a broad smile, “this is fuckin’ bullshit.” The security guard frowns and I see the creases around his mouth make a pair of horizontal “u’s” and he raises his voice and says, “sir, I’m sorry for any inconvenience, but it’s against fire code.”
I move away from the outside of the door and I’m asked to move along as well, since the fire code extends to the ante-room of the larger conference hall. A heavy set woman dressed in beige with a matching scarf comes out of the conference hall waving her arms around like a tusken raider waving off flames. She marches up to the security guard and proclaims “My daughter is a lawyer! You people are endangering the lives of the people in that room! They cannot be sitting in the aisle and you know it! I’m calling the Hilton corporate offices! You have made my day!” It becomes her mantra as the head of security, followed by a supervisor and manager and assistant director and finally the hotel head honcho try to assure her that there is nothing wrong with the people being in the center of the aisle. They ask her, Shirley, to please just calm down; her only reply is, “that’s Doctor Long to you, sir”.
Shirley reminds me of what I hate about this city. Unreasonable people, who are made miserable and stupid by weather and other things they can’t control. I find a couch in the front lobby and take a small nap. Shirley, the cold, the negativity in this corner of the city and the scotch have all left me by the times Miles Davis’ Jeru comes on my player; the afternoon will be better.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I puff smoke through the icy ether and follow the cloud, with my eyes, as it quickly dissipates around a light post. I look around and see flocks of tourists now weaving in around the hipsters, pointing and smiling at some far off, distant adventure that awaits them. I notice there are no homeless people on the street. No homeless on Michigan Avenue? In the middle of the day? The thought is foreign and I contemplate filing a complaint somewhere. Then I notice that there are buildings going up south of 7th Avenue, way south close to Racine; something never imagined possible only five years ago. Herr Daley giveth and he taketh away. I comforted by the idea that the more things change in this city, the more likely someone is going to be indicted and decide to drop the idea of filing a complaint with the mayor’s office.
It is now late in the evening and I have penciled into my itinerary a reading by Eric Bogosian, which will be the last thing I do today. I walk through the upper lobby of the Chicago Hilton, towards the International Ballroom; it’s carpeting a multi-colored salute to cheap Vegas-style, psycho-mind fucking. The carpeting is certainly inspired by the latest generation of girls-gone wild and I imagine is meant to make the heiress to the Hilton fortune feel at home in lush gaudiness; the walls and ceilings are a different matter. They remind me of an age of elegance; when excess did not necessarily mean flash. The molding is painted now, but in its day it most certainly had to have been left bare if only to show off the beauty of the natural world it was inspired by.
I am nearing the stairs that lead to the ballroom when I see a sign outside of the grand ballroom, which reads, “Builder of Positive Reality: A Conversation with Haki R. Madhubuti. I decide to stop in and hear what the gentle-faced man on the poster has to say; Bogosian is a douche bag anyway, I decide. The room is nearly completely empty and the discussion has already begun; this cannot be good.
I sit and listen to Dr. Madhubuti speak about his experiences growing up in Detroit; where his mother, a beautiful but “unprotected” woman had to prostitute herself to feed the both of them. I heard him tell of his own self-hatred for himself and his race and how he overcame it by reading Richard Wright at her insistence. He described how his experience in the army, which he calls “employment for poor people”, taught him to never let himself be put in a position where, “stupid people would be telling me what to do”. I was inspired when he told of the personal accounts as confidant to Gwendolyn Brooks and his role in the development of “Afrikan-centered” schools on Chicago’s South side.
He impressed upon me that the struggle to be great is not only a personal one; but one that demands the rejection of evil. It is a delicate fight that takes the form of a balancing act without a net; to stay above the fray and yet take matters into one’s own hands. His discussion was by far the most gratifying of any I attended today and without question, what he had to say was far more important than anything Eric Bogosian has ever said or written. Why then, I asked myself were there less than 30 people in a room that easily fits 500?