Sex, drugs and death sell units. So materials on this site may include, in the words of Sherman Alexie's Zits, “blood, sweat, tears and cum.”
The oral histories on this site are small parts of several larger projects. Some of these projects are fictions. A lot of this work grows out of intriguing facts. I will do my best to help differentiate between facts and fiction, but part of the point of this site is to show how the truth is rarely clear or comfortable.
Like anyone who speaks for a long period of time, you should be skeptical of my stories. I’m not trying to deceive you, but my perspective can get wack. I am, like anyone, easily deceived. I get enamored by myths, and falsehoods are often easier to absorb than the truth. Approach this website as a work of fiction.
People say fiction is a convenient vacation of the truth. They say everyone is skeptical of rigorous journalism, but almost anyone will believe a full throated lie. For some reason bold lies are difficult to refute. While I’m not trying to lie here, I am free associating and playing around with abstract ideas that cannot exactly always be true.
Frank Zappa says, “Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best!”
Since much of my music is pirated, text and interviews are all I can offer. But, lifting hip hop tradition, I'm not afraid to break a rule or two. I’m mixing in other people’s work here, and gladly give credit when I can. I’d like to get to the point where I can pay myself and my collaborators, but this project has been on a slow simmer for awhile.
Maybe sometimes in my exuberance for spinning an oral history I’ve recorded, I’ll just slide in ten seconds of some odd song unattributed from one of my old hard drives. If you see me not giving people credit for their work or ideas here, please call me out with a comment.
Fiction works by simplifying the truth and condensing time (sometimes years of experience) into a stream of info that takes just hours or minutes to process. Fiction activates our imaginations, and it can stimulate conversation. There's cheap fiction (porn); realist fiction (Tolstoy); high fiction (Gonzo/POV Journalism). There are many kinds of fiction, but the worst and most obnoxious fictions are the ones that people (without reason or argument) emphatically pretend to be true for no other reason than to build up their brand with a hollow following.
Race is just such a fiction. It’s something we’ve developed through marriage, through culture, by favoring certain features over others for brief periods of time. And we take it far too seriously. Our physical traits, our melanin, tracing our roots back through this tribe on that continent, could at some point help each of us maximize our health and potential. Maybe, once we really understand the genome, some enterprising humans will be able to better define justice and cure cancer. But what really matters is what we create, and how we contribute to our society now. Race does not matter. Still it has this outsized effect on how we treat each other.
Last night I relieved an aggrieved white guy early from the concierge desk at a building downtown. His heart was aflutter. He had to get home. He said he got robbed. His neighbor, “a sweet old woman, from the old school.” Called him at work to say that there were some “niggers” in his apartment. He said, “she said the n-word’” and then whispered the word to me in a conspiratorial way (because we’re both white) “You know, niggers.”
At the time his story hit my Snowflake nerve. I should have said, “It's unfortunate she didn't take a video, get some identity on the guys.” I should have asked, “Why did she call you to be racist instead of calling the cops? Any idea why you were a target? Did you post pictures of your gun and address on Instagram like a mark?” But instead of being brave, I melted into the desk chair and just shut up until he left.
I didn't want to offend him. He seemed like the type of precious individual who would do some petty bullshit behind my back to spite me. Maybe he’d call the office to say I came in unshaven or something. Or since I’m on call all the time, he’s the type that would call out at an inopportune time just to prove his relevance, holding this grudge over my minutia. I thought, “I did not get enough sleep to try to change the world tonight.”
Since Obama called out identity politics last year, I keep hearing the young white men in my life complaining about him. People keep saying that Obama used identity politics all the time. I don’t remember seeing this. He made a few subtle digs, like that Beer Summit he held between a black professor and a white policemen that apparently flopped. He once told the listeners of Univision to “punish” their “enemies” at the polls to achieve their desired goals on immigration reform. For that, people said he abdicated responsibility. But legislation is the job of Congress, not the president. That was a civics lesson.
I never voted for Obama. I do not have very much faith in the human capacity to centrally plan an economy. I lean Libertarian, but I was a registered Republican until about a year ago. I prefer to see production take shape organically, at small scales. Bad actors can be checked at the periphery. Things like slavery, theft and murder need to be contained by the hamfisted power of law and punishment, but I believe most people play by whatever rules they’re given.
The two parties we have in America are functions of American democracy, not ends in themselves. They are supposed to elevate inspiring candidates and rational policies for debate, not generate identity cults.
I don’t know if I will ever vote for a Republican again. I’m a Snowflake, like I’ve said. I can’t abide hot air, and petty shit makes me ghost. Political parties are not like sports teams. They are central pillars for our government. This is not about decorum. It’s not about sexual deviance. It’s not about boorishness. The problem is complete lack of engagement in substance. It’s in hot takes. It’s PWNing media. Republicans cut the capital gains tax, but why? Nobody with a stake in that decision cared enough to explain.
During his presidency Obama referred to speculation subsidized by low capital gains tax, saying “You didn't build that.” That’s true, by the very nature of investing, you don’t build anything you fund. So if speculation causes bubbles, we ought to make conservative, rational investments. Betting on stars might make money fast, but it doesn’t chop wood or build condos.
Pearl clutching drove me out of the Republican party. I probably will not go back. If you’re a pearl clutcher, you will be triggered by many of the posts on this website. If you can’t see past falsehoods to find nuggets of truth, you might be baffled by my apparent lack of empathy.
Like when the skeletal lady with track marks walked into a dumpling shop last night to ask me for $10 while I was waiting for my dinner, too often I avoid engagement. I was reading on my phone, glued to my screen like a normal millennial, not wanting her distraction, aware that people who ask for money at midnight are hungry, but not for food. I wish I had offered to buy her something off the menu, struck up a conversation about where she’s from and what she really needs. Maybe I could have directed her somewhere nice and uplifting. I wish I knew of a place to send her for some food and a bed at midnight. “Today is the day you turn your life around,” I might have said. Instead I ignored her and continued reading my book.
Like when this man with a backpack expected me to unlock the door without asking his name, let him up to his apartment, even though I do not know him, sometimes I don’t bend rules. His FOB was not working, and mad at me he said, “I hope you do this to everyone.” I said, “Oh I do.” But I don’t. His backpack gave me pause. Did I also stop him because of his brown skin? I don’t think so. He does. So it goes.
You will not like everything I write here. I’m trying to keep this blog from becoming explicitly political. As far as politics, I’m registered Independent. That matters to some people. If you’re one of those people, you probably will get triggered by some of the content collected here.
I’m tired of not reacting. Like when I said nothing to a white teenager who I saw harassing a black teenager who was walking from the train (about 100 yards ahead of me) cutting through a little enclave of wealthy residences called Savin Hill toward BC High. This white kid road his bike slowly up on the heels of the black teenager and yelled, “Yo, where you from? Why you walking this way, man? Don’t want to take the main street? You look strong. I like your backpack. Why won’t you look at me? You have nice calves. What? I was trying to compliment you, if you didn’t know. Yeah, get out of here. Go back where you came from.” This preposterous display (of racism?) seemed almost unreal. In fact, I was also cutting through the neighborhood. I guess my whiteness gave me a pass. Or maybe these guys were just playing a crude prank on me, trying to catch attention for whatever reason, or just joking with each other. This website is me reacting to many weird, absurd, un-parsible experiences.