Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Incident in "The Go"

This weekend the fellas and I took a mini-excursion to Chicago to see Nicolay (greatest hip hop producer you've never heard of). The show was bananas but honestly, I had a pretty interesting time just riding the Metra through the city. The intersection between class and race is so wide open; at one point, I sat between a lawyer and a cat whom I presumed to be a vagrant. The whole trip made me begin to reconsider the way that melting-pot situations work to either foster or hinder "diversity".

In any event, Monday morning on the way home I acknowledged this brother who was dispensing tickets with a phrase like, "what's good cuz". Now apparently, the lady sitting in the row in front of me was eavesdropping on a prior conversation I was having with my friend across the aisle-way and she says to me, "do you mind if I ask you something?" (at this point I assume it's going to be some offensive, off-the-wall inquiry). So she begins to ask me why I change the way that I speak depending on who I'm talking to. I didn't want to get into a debate with a school teacher on the train so I reply, "it's just a habit". Next she starts telling me that she adopted a black child and works tirelessly to see that he always uses flawless diction so that he'll have an advantage over his classmates (and people like me) blah blah blah. And finally she ends by saying "I think it's important that you never try to be something you're not"... this is where she crossed the line.

I had intended to say something like, "it's called code switching, you should try it"; but all of a sudden I began to feel bad for this little boy and all the beautiful, cultural experiences that he'll likely miss out on, so I gave this strange woman a mouth-full in his honor--

Look lady, this is the problem: Black men and women who define themselves by the structure of their gated communities and country club status have become a cheap sponge for dominant white culture. This is not to say that every middle to upper class African American that has "made it," did so by acquiescing or selling out, however, it's often the case that as a rite of passage into the suburbs a substantial number of blacks abandon certain ethnic idiosyncrasies in order to fit a more socially accepted, eurocentric mold. I "change the way I talk" because I'd like to retain as much of my regional identity as I can. I change the way that I talk because I don't intend to fit any mold; and to tell you the truth, my slang is the reason why you actually paid for your train ticket and I'm riding for free.

If I was you, I'd think about letting your son hang out around a local community center or making him read DuBois early in life. Matter of fact, you should buy him some hip hop records-- I hear it helps with understanding poetry and meter.

Her response: Who's DuBois? (Damn. And I'm supposed to be the uneducated one.)

Just keeping it real for a minute here, I can't see anyone wanting to sound like Bryant Gumbel 24 hours a day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not Really a Post, Just a Personal Update

What's happenin' people? Just dropping through to send my sincerest apologies to all 10 of this blog's readers for not actually updating this week; but I promise I'll get back at it with my next post.

In any event, I figured I'd share some good news: just got word that I'll be receiving the Yusef Komanyaka Fellowship at IU (along with my other funding support) during my second year. It's kind of a big deal, well, at least a nice resume line. Here's the link so you can read about your boy--

Be Easy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Poets Don't Play No Games

Maybe this is blatant insecurity on my part, or perhaps, in some way related to the fact that I work with a bunch of automotive guys (whatever that means to you), but somehow the word has circulated that I "write poems and stuff," and I'm beginning to sense a hint of playful haterism on the home front.

I'm aware of the pedantic/frilly-boy stereotypes that go along with the muse-- which is probably why I spent four years writing secretive stanzas in the margins of my law notes, so I figured I'd set the record straight, once and for all: POETS KICK ASS. And not just your typical bar-room-brawl-ass-kicking. I've known poets who've sliced another man's throat from opposite ends of the country with an ink pen. Now if that's not some "bad motha... shut yo' mouth" shit, I don't know what is.

Keeping with the whole bad ass writer theme, I thought I'd post a few poets and poems that kick major ass. And yes, I'm aware that there are probably some sort of legal-smegal copyright issues here, but I'm hoping the authorities will overlook this post and use that time to write some sort of worth while legislation instead (yes, I take this blog that seriously).

The Next Hundred-Odd Half-Dreamed Miles
By Patrick Rosal

This part’s real: the kid sways
near a curb (the club’s fuck-hard
flash of neon lights keeps time
inside) his top lip split
mouth popped into hellglow blossom
eyes swelled shut like peaches
Small half-as-dark and twice
as yapping drunk as you
he swings forward and lands
a clean right cross you confuse
with a good reason to try
and toss him like a sack of trash
into the midnight traffic
His Pinay girlfriend (so light-skinned
and round-eyed she would have passed
for Magellan’s daughter) shouts
You goddamned monkey in perfect English
which makes you hold
his head in your hands
—without thinking of his mother
cursing in Tagalog—when you thrust one more time
the tender cartilage of his nose
against your knee except
this story isn’t about you It’s about me
and every time someone’s bar-buzz
crescendos to mezzo-forte tough-guy
maybe I should consider that kid
holding both arms out as if he’d catch
whatever he could summon from the sky
but rage doesn’t work like that
It’s like this: I race down the Parkway
and skip every exit I know too well
slumped in the driver’s seat
for the next hundred-odd half-dreamed miles
taking turns sucking my bloody knuckle
with the only girl I think I’ll ever kiss
—my tongue too dumb to tell
which taste belongs to whom
and which mouth happens when

Great stuff, right? If you dug on that piece, check out:
Readings, by Jason Bredle


Man Tries to Commit Suicide With a Crossbow, by Ross Gay

Monday, May 7, 2007

Mayweather Puts on Boxing Clinic Against a Desperate De la Hoya

On May 5th, Saturday night, the best pound for pound fighter in the world and one of boxing's few living legends stepped in the ring to settle the score once and for all. The most highly anticipated fight since the first Tyson v. Holyfield, this match has undoubtedly left many De La Hoya fans sick with the sour taste of loss.

After a few conversations today at work, I was compelled to write this post and silence the De La Hoya groupies who were clearly wearing Stevie Wonder’s sunglasses during the fight. Real boxing fans know that Mayweather used his accurate jab, laser-like left, and ring-generalship to outclass Oscar. Compubox, as well as a set of contact lenses prove that Mayweather picked his shots and landed with enough accuracy to actually frustrate De la Hoya.

There were possibly two rounds that Oscar did enough to win on the scorecards; however, Mayweather’s topnotch defense rendered him extremely elusive and hard to find. Towards the end of the fight Oscar began to show signs of desperation, firing half-ass, non-effective flurries which mostly glanced off Floyd’s gloves.

Mayweather's precision won the fight, hands down: they don't call boxing the Sweet Science for nothing. And if you ask me, the judge who scored the fight in De la Hoya’s favor was probably looking for a gig with Golden Boy Productions.
In Other News...
Normally, I would never support this type of uber-ignorance but since it's in the name of Kalamazoo, whatever.

"Meet Me In The North"

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

CNN: Cartoon News Network

Let me preface this post by saying that I'm a young, black male wannabe-writer from Ann Arbor (Michigan) with a degree in poli sci, so when it comes to liberalism I'm like Howard Zinn with an Afro. However, I do kind of appreciate, ya know, "real news" every once in a while. So here's my question: What the fuck happened to CNN? I know they're supposed to be the voice of the couch-potato democrat but lately they've been publicists for everything that's idiotic in the world.

Take a look at today's lead headlines: New York Times, "Iraqi Blocs Opposed to Draft Oil Bill". MSNBC, "Rice to Meet with Syria's Foreign Minister". Even the evil Fox News has got their act together this morning with their front runner-- "Congress Furious Over Iraqi Plans for Summer Vacation". But low and behold CNN's top story today: IMUS FIRES BACK... actually, never mind; they just changed their site about a millisecond ago to align with the rest of the sane human beings on the planet.

It's like they felt the wrath of this blog's far-reaching, strong-arm of criticism and decided to quiet my quirky banter, essentially shitting on what will likely be the highlight of my workday.