Friday, November 26, 2010

Going Thanksgiving Alone: Heroine, Gorillas, & Mixtapes

“Yeah she prolly put in work, then go to sleep with that heroine”- “Seriously though, tell me the last time you met a ho that was smart? It just don’t make no got damn sense… see some women want to be treated like a ho, and man… I just don’t got it in me to do it”. The barber shop was less than asocial this particular Black Friday. Freshly jacked of a giant flat screen tv, all their entertainment, and a gumball machine, somehow the brave barbers of Nicollet Ave. manage smiles and conversation about ho’s and heroine.

When my mother snatched my sister and I, up and took off for Minneapolis, we stayed at my grandmother’s for a year or two until she got on her feet again. Possibly get on her feet for the 2nd time in her life, the woman had dropped out of the U of MN in the worst way, wandered the Twin Cities, and finally found her niche in politics. Ran for governor, garnered over 10,000 votes, didn’t win (in the subversive sense as we know it to be), and moved to New Orleans to work with the Socialist Activist Worker’s Union. Moving back, things were Up In The Air like George Clooney coming to find out his pseudo-girlfriend was married with kids (which btw, absolutely blew my mind when I saw it. If you saw it too, you can’t say you were surprised, but damn were you disappointed.) Mom didn’t get hit with it as bad as Clooney, but nonetheless, things were in the air. Out in Richfield living with the grandparents, my mother didn’t know a f’ng thing about black people’s hair, let alone what to expect from the skulls of two bi-racial kids. My hair was curly, then straigh, then started to curl again. Annie’s was still growing, so God knows what was coming from that girl. Mom played it safe and took me to a nearby barber shop where my grandfather would get his hair cut, Ray’s Barbershop.

Framed Norman Rockwells, old bottles of lather and after shave, and again a Norman Rockwell calendar decked the walls of the strip mall hair cut store. Ray’s Barbershop was a stomping ground for old white men all across the 1st and 2nd ring burbs. Enter 4 year old brown kid, fro down to his ears, walking hand in hand with a tall white graying jazz musician. Doc, my grandfather, would always take me to Ray’s. Mom would partake sometimes, but there she goes again, off to school, clinicals, work, one of the several institutions feeding her resume and bank account for fam survival. Mom had more hustle than the average single mother, and somehow above all made time to be a mom. Christ, we wound up on the cover of a magazine for her graduation picture. “Husband crap all over your life? Have two kids that look like you stole them from an adoption agency? Need a graduate degree? Shiiiiit, you can do it too!”. Completely kidding, of course. But yes, we were on the cover of a magazine, Annie wearing mom’s graduation cap, mom smiling bigger than life, and me somewhat hiding behind the grad gown. Twas a shy kid back then, still am.

Either way, Ray’s was always jumpin’... well, in the sense of “how much can four senior citizens get it poppin' in here” jumpin'. Vikings, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Twins (always with the friggin’ Twins), World Series, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Highways, we discussed the whole lot. Well, they did, not me. I could chat here and there about some of the stuff as I grew up, but usually smiled and watched the arguments and passive debates ensue on what to do with Frank Viola in the 8th inning, how Reagonomics is going to save the middle-class, who the hell is Jesse Jackson, “Michael Jordan’s a free agent next year. The Knicks would be idiots to not pick’em up.”. “Wow, this new gal Oprah’s really cleanin’ up, isn’t she.” and so on.

Always loved the griots-natured cat at the barbershop that felt it necessary to jump on his soap box and tell it like it is. Reality tv shows, movie scenes, entire movies, entire tv shows, entire media displays based around the concept of the African-American Barbershop. Gossip, rants, rambles, debates, everything… f--- the community newspaper, get it all here. To interject the hype, my two cents: the same shit goes down at a white barbershop. Not even just a barbershop that cuts a majority of white people’s hair, a barbershop full of Caucasian geriatrics with nicknames like “Rusty” and “Doc”. Gather a handful of people together that have a basic understanding of the headlines and a bit of the variety section, and boom… it’s on.

If the place where you get your hair cut, did, or done, doesn’t have a good conversation you can observe or participate in, then find another facility. Any place that can hold up to thick small talk, is a happy place. Same for friendships, relationships, and family-time-dinner-table discussion. No one takes it personal, we all walk away from it a bit more understanding of the other, and perspective stretches just that much further to hear someone out.

An old friend of the barber cutting my hair steps into the Nicollet Ave. shop. They burst in laughter, discuss Thanksgiving. My barber, somewhat reserved, “Aww na, man. I didn’t do much for yesterday. Just laid low, had a dinner by myself”.

The friend talks on with another customer. I ask my barber, “Got family out of town?”. “Na, man. See my daughter every now and then. My  mom and sister live way out there, though”. “Like far as Chicago?”, I ask. “Na. Way out in the burbs. I don’t drive though”.

A few moments of necessary silence pass. The mute air explains more than enough history he’d rather not go into. Daughter, doesn’t travel further than a few miles to see his mother and sister, takes Thanksgiving alone… reminds me of my dad. Except this guy is my age. Mom left Ricky around his 35th year, decade older than myself and my barber. However, barber boy sounds like it’s a mutual fault on both sides of the fence his Thanksgiving has gone solo, curse of circumstance, or the way he likes it. I don’t ask. 

Do you wanna go it alone? Better yet, like barber boy here, will we have to go it alone? I’m sure at some point, but for God's sake, any day other than Thanksgiving. 

F---, I’ve gone it alone more than not already. However, I’d rather not wind up referencing my kids as the “now & then”. I’ll sacrifice the last penny in my pocket and grain of sanity for my kids just to be with them (here I am talking about "my" kids...when I don't even have them. Good-Will-Hunting disorder of looking several thousand miles down the road before making a move...diagnose me please). Let’s be realistic, I know absolutely jack shit about having a child or children- but it’s fair for anyone to know what they want. I damn sure know my children would/will be my solar system. Again, the family man declaration. Always wanted to be, still aspiring to be, and when things work out… I will be. Self-Assessing what it takes to be a family man is damn discouraging, butterfly-in-the-gut exciting, and eyes-closed-deep-breath-before-the-marathon calming. Knowing what you want is one thing, acting on it is another. Barber boy’s been caught between the two, rightfully so, as we all have at some point, and perhaps still are.

The silence resumes until a blast of laughter breaks out at the entrance. Again, barbershop totally robbed less than a week ago. Speakers, Tv, remote, cds… gumball machine, all gone. Gumball machine, are you fucking serious? Who the fuck steals a gumball machine. Have mercy on the poor bastard that runs with a barbershop’s gumball machine, and lives to count the cash at the pawn shop. A sense of humor still runs alive in the roots of the building, and gets the best of several small talkers at the entrance. “Hey nigga, who the fuck would win though. I say the fuckin’ gorilla, I say the fuckin’ gorilla”. “Na, nigga you serious!?!? A mufuckin’ bear would rip the shit out of a gorilla”. “Hahaaaaaaa!!!! This nigga say the bear”. Collectively two grown men shout, “Awww HELLLL NAWWW”. (Yes, you are correct, this barbershop IS far from Ray's in Richfield...geographically and culturally).

And we’re back. First it was ho’s and heroine, now we’re on to Bear vs. Gorilla. Personally I’d root for the Gorilla, but deep down inside expect the Bear to shred the poor monkey to pieces.

Sometimes circumstance does us in. Does us in bad. The homelessness, the poverty, the cancer, the untimely death, the arm pit of it all. In a shitty analogous way, perhaps we’re all the gorilla, and it’s absurd to assume we’d ever get the best of a bear. Or, as I’d like to think, we fear success so much that we bet against ourselves to feel comfortable with failure. Excuse the French, but absolutely no-fucking thank you.

Mark it “selfish”, but I left the barbershop counting my next steps away from the circumstance of “now & then” with my future family situation. “Full-time” is the goal, and the next few steps are to my rugged-ass beat-up Honda Civic. In the grand scheme, the next steps are to flier outside of every poppin’ venue tonight and the rest of the weekend for the even bigger procession in December: The Local Mixtape Release Party @ The Triple Rock. It's all part of the plan; future fatherhood, family man, husband, son, business partner, Damaged Goods, call it what you want... as long as you know what you want to call it:) 

You know what you want. Great. Now get out of your own f----ng way and go get it. This is me doing the same.

God willing, I sell out both nights. To better put it, WE sell out both nights. Both nights involve key players to make it do what it has to do.

Have an end in mind. The local release is a small piece of the puzzle, but it still counts.

Friday, Dec. 17th
9pm at The Triple Rock (18+)
$8, free mixtape w/entry

Sunday, Dec. 19th
5pm at The Triple Rock (All Ages)

$8, free mixtape w/entry

Only good ending I can think of at the moment is an excerpt from my grandmother's prayer book she gave me. Handed it over after the first time I joined her for church, just her and I. Notes, pictures, all types of writings fell out. One in particular stuck with me:

Watch your actions; they become your habits
Watch your habits; they become your character
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cut The Bs. Took Her To Church.

Yeah, that didn’t go as planned. I think I traumatized several women in the front row and forced the phrase “no homo” out of 2 dozen guys. Which by the way, I fucking hate the term “no homo”. If you use it, try wrapping your brain around something a little less insecure. Heterosexuals… we say the dumbest shit sometimes. K, I’m back, but seriously I think I’ve done mental harm to these people. I intended to take off my shirt while performing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” at the Prof show last Friday, but kinda went with the flow and took my pants off as well. No worries, I planned on this. Wore an extra pair of underwear, so nothing flies out the boxers. Now THAT, would create an widespread fear of ever attending a show I have something to do with. Matter of fact, if something had flown out of those boxers (actually if anything had flown out of my boxers), people would be downright susceptible to leave a venue even if I was in the crowd, for fear that I might take stage and whip it out again thus sending young and middle aged minds into another downward spiral of disgust & disdain. Not that enough people don't already harbor that for me, there’s always better ways to do more damage.

And I’m glad Teresa didn’t make it to the show. Don’t wanna taint her already fragile mind and perspective on the way things are. Teresa’s cool people, but there’s always somethin’ behind that smile. I don’t know if after every time we bid adieu, I’ll ever see her again, or we’ll be back on the same page tomorrow.

If I mutter or even reference “white people” in our conversation, she checks out. Thinks I’m always taking stabs at her faith, the fact “I just want Jesus” is in her fbook bio, about me, or somewhere around there. She counters with a soft race joke, I tell her she’ll have to do better than that, and we’re back on to Teresa & Toussaint. For once though, I’d like to cut the bullshit. I made a bet with myself that Teresa and I could hang out for 60 minutes without one sarcastic remark. I knew it’d be damn near impossible, seeing as I’m gullible, overly curious, and always in a state of analyzing. I make the bull’s eye bigger than needs be for her to dart.

So, I decided to take her to church. Easy, right? Not so much. First off, I’m not the most religious guy in the world. If there were a set of life rules in front of me, I’d use’em for toilet paper. Fran always gave me rules, and I’d break’em just because she gave’em to me. Same with school, my mom, not nowadays though. Second hurdle in the way, my family’s catholic. The only church I know of is catholic. I’d feel way f----n weird to waltz into a giant Lutheran church, white people everywhere, smiling, staring at you if you don’t smile with’em. Been there, didn’t smile though.

Last hurdle, I’ve never taken a gal to church. It’s not like that with Teresa, strictly platonic, but just out of sheer curiosity, taking her to church had to happen. And… it worked. She usually goes to college churches, Baptist churches, singing-out-loud-with-it shoutin’ churches. I’m down with that, but I like St. Cecilia’s in St. Paul just off Raymond. Again, I wouldn’t call myself Christian, Catholic, or religious for that matter… more so spiritual. There’s a lot out there, and the second I start acting like I have a grasp on it will be the moment I stand for people murmuring “no homo” within hearing distance. But, end goal accomplished. A few times she looked at me waiting to say some snide shit or waiting for me to say some snide shit, but I resisted the temptation.

And for me, at this point in my life, that’s what church is for:, solace, sanctuary, time to cut the bullshit and be grateful for your own mortality, life, and people around you.

Now, sitting in Arkham Café (aka Spyhouse on Henneppin), watching Slug get into his Yukon and Ant jump in his black American-made car, snow falling, just having placed the Maria Isa & Cecil Otter presale tix at 5th Element, not a chance in hell I could do it on my own. Whenever Teresa and I finish hanging out, she runs off to more church activity, and I run into opposite direction to partake in non-church activity;)  More than that being the difference, perhaps it’s just she’s accepted she can’t do it all on her own either. Places her faith in a higher power, cosmic significant other, an imaginary friend, whatever you want to down or up play it as, I think it’s humble to do so. Humble to accept you won’t ever be able to do this on your own.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prof @ The Varsity

“Good to see you, man. How’s your brother?”. “He’s not with us anymore. Hey, great job on the show tonight”. Of all the words and gestures exchanged last Friday at The Varsity, those stuck with me the most. I don’t think he teared up, but, sure as shit could have. Mike Frances, I remember being the absolute rock of Windom Open Middle School. The guy was Dominican or somethin’, you’d totally mistake him for just another black guy, but he spoke Spanish like it was his first language… I’m guessing it was. Bi-lingual home or somethin’. Again, he still looked tall as ever, could probably dunk on the entire southside of Minneapolis, as he could always make a basketball look so simple to handle, hair grown out into a tied bun like a straight-up g, and smile as wide as I remember it. Memories are always exaggerated, but Mike Frances lived up to the hype.

If I ever… were to lose someone as close as a brother (Adam, Mark, Will, Annie, etc.), I would crumble considerably at the whisper of the mentioning of their name. Mike Frances holds up. He holds up well.

The Varsity sells out, but what impresses one the most is the amount of familiarity that ensued at the end of the night. Could be due to the fact the last two acts all graduated from South High School, or simply because Omari, legendary southside dj, has a monopoly clutch on the joint, has his brother bartending and a steady southside audience every weekend for salsa at The Loring (just down the block, under the same ownership). However, faces I haven’t seen for years appear like it was just yesterday we went at it on the blacktop in a fatal game of kickball. It’s family, not in the 7th Heaven sense, but my reality of family. Broken, cracked, in some places would appear as “f----d up”, and connected by a past we never deny or shy away from. Ever see someone from your childhood, and purposely ignore them to escape the excrutiating moment of having to reintroduce yourself say “how’s life”, exchange stories, act like you care, and bid goodbye? Nah, we don’t do that. I actually embrace the awkward space of it. Lovely.

Nearly sweat a kiddie pool over remembering lyrics, admiring the deadline of 1230am for the show to be done or else they pull the plug, and making sure everyone was happy. Worries, aside, the concert went off without too many hitches. Girl fight broke out in the front of the stage, pre-partying never took such a toll on an audience, the bar might as well replaced the water in the faucet for tequila, etc. The substance and emotions got the best of a few folks, but not the entirety, I’d say.

We close out, move it to the library, can’t help but still think of Mike Frances. “He’s not with us anymore”. Christ, then where is he? Horrible moment to brew over where you go when you die, if anywhere, but I’m a wimp when it comes to curiosity. Something I’ll probably never know until I get there. Whatever, perhaps the closest we get to it is when we sing and dance. Nothing in my life has felt more correct and necessary than music, washing dishes for my mother, and walking my grandmother to church. Doesn’t mean I do it all the time, but it feeds the soul.

Best moment of the night: all throughout soundcheck, Jake (Prof), sustained this stonewall, hoodie up, game face. I don’t blame’em. He pre-sold 300+ tix on his name alone, I’d feel the pressure or the necessity to produce a calm before the storm.  I didn’t really see Jake until I walked down to the green room after it was all said and done. An uncontainable smile stretched cross his face. Lit up the room, forces you to smile a bit when you see it too. I congratulate him, he reciprocates. There we go. Once stubborn and naive over 5 years ago and on no means of speaking to each other, now clasped in a handshake after selling out one of Minneapolis' biggest venues. There we go. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How To Jump A Bombed Bridge

Sun’s up and the show’s about to start. I’m gonna call this kid. Not for me, but for him and everyone else on stage- Shit, I hate doing this stuff. Why me, why do I gotta tell the guy he’s not in the band. He’s x’d, ax’d, finite, over… Daniel should drop the hammer on’em. Ehhh, my luck, we’d run into each other and give those midewestern nice bullshit smiles like nothing ever happened. Fuck it, it’s goin’ down like the bonus round, he hasn’t shown up to rehearsal in 6 months, can barely ever get a hold of’em, what’s he think? He’s just gonna two-step on stage, rock the mic, take cred, and peace out? Wish I could do that. Took me the past 4 weeks of little to no sleep to put the show together, print the cd’s for the release, and deal with a dragon named Julie. Shit’s not easy…especially with a dragon in the mix.  

Update: I’m 21, it’s the Friday of final’s week (the only date the Kitty Cat Klub would let me have, unreasonable wankers), and The Blend is having their FIRST cd release show…problem is the two emcees that used to make up the vocal trio of the group haven’t been in sight for the past several months. They recorded, they started with us, they exist… but ¾ of the cd have them nowhere to be found. Just me, again. No clue how to put it to’em, but “hey, you’re credited as NOT IN THE BAND on the back of the disc. Cool with you? Great, glad we agree on everything (cheezy Jim Carrey smile, thumbs up, and I’m out)." Ya, not goin’ down like that.

Calling Jacob Anderson, and breaking it to him that he’s not a part of The Blend anymore, literally broke my young naïve heart in several places. And the only reason it sucked, was because I knew he wanted to do music more than anyone else in the group. Cole on the drums, amazing kid, but he was totally fly by night and had no aspirations to be with the group after the release. Ed, the guitarist, is more interested in producing a tribute album to Attrition than sitting down and writing original music for the band he’s already in… and I can’t wrap my feeble brain around “why?”. Then Linden, the weirdest m----f-----r I’ve ever met, yet the most talented musician I’ve ever seen live. Still in high school, I haven’t figured him out yet. Lastly, the asshole, Daniel. He knows he’s difficult, he knows he’s stubborn, and we totally say that to each others face…every 5 minutes, but he insisted on it. And that’s a total cop out. Even if Daniel didn’t lead the witch hunt to cut Tim and Jake out of the credits, and written in as features, I would’ve done it myself anyways.

Being in a band is like being in a relationship. If you didn’t hear from your girl for 6 months…shiiiiiiit, she’d be no where near the credits. Lo siento, but if you go despondent on the call, then the dial goes elsewhere. What  the f--- are several high schoolers and a late bloomer supposed to do? Swallow pride and spit out a record deal… with two kids who don’t even pick up their phones. Hell, even if best friends didn’t answer the call in 6 months,, you’d be on the outs, or severely dropped in rank.

Whatever… it’s going to happen, and at some point you gotta stand up for yourself and call “bullshit”. It’s just the worst when you have to call on the people closest to you. Maybe, somethin’ good can come of this. Maybe Jake’ll put somethin’ together for himself. He’s always talked about doin’ a solo act.

Years later.

The Blend, to hell and half-way back; me, a foot in to paying for a house with music; Jacob Anderson, also know as the uncanny and locally infamous Prof. Last time I called Jake was to kick him out of a band, and years later… the call’s to join on the same stage and sell out The Varsity.

Watch it happen:
Friday, Nov. 19th
The Varsity Theater
1308 4th St. SE
Mpls, MN
Doors 8pm, Music 9pm

350 presale tix have already been sold. Hope you get there before the others are gone. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sucker Punched

Before she left the car, there was something she said. It wasn’t the “you’re in lack of a relationship to the divine” part, although it could’ve/should’ve been. My relationship with anything higher than the IDS building is severely distant at the moment. I sleep a handful of hours a day, run in the midst of cold nights like I’m on the chopping block for the cross country team, my coffee addiction just doubled, numbness streaks across my lips every now and then, and the Vikings just lost to the Bears. None of it makes any sense, and that’s the least mysterious part of this past month. What should be most concerning is nothing has had to make sense.

“You can only do so much by yourself”, she said. True above anything I’ve heard this year. It’s on my shoulders , and whatever I can’t carry, I let the pen move the weight. Reid’s project is almost done, the mixtape is virtually complete, The Blend’s snagged a new guitarist, Lazlo could move like a serpent but realities of money and time are in heat, and amongst the thick of it all in this car, can’t help but ask “what the f--- am I still doing here trying to push music into ears for???”. Ever find yourself sitting or standing and thinking “F----n Christ, I could’ve given this up a loooooong time ago”? Every day, every day that streaks my mind. Not in the sense like “Oh I should put it down and sign up for a cubicle at American Express and start paying off that student  loan interest”. Na, think about it more in the vein of “What next, who next, where next”.

And she doesn’t stop at the “doing it on your own” chapter, she asks how much longer can I go without the help of others, the divine, the details. I don’t have an answer for her. The past three artists I’ve met with to book giant sold-out shows, I’ve had to go through their managers. Me, on the other hand, no manager, no LLC, just me. I’m sure she wouldn’t be inquiring all of this if she didn’t think I deserved it…I think.

However, the source of this Friday’s show (mayhem)…me. I had the dimwitted idea that I could get Prof, long time ex-bandmate Jake, and Maria Isa on the same stage. Never panned out. 1st Ave. wanted to take a percentage I couldn’t handle, The Cabooze had little to no dates available, and where else can you fit 600+ people in Minneapolis? U of MN (rent a room for 3000, no thank you), Fine Line (you could, but unless they know you, you have to start out with a Tuesday night show…work your way up, no thank you)…anywhere else? Yeah, that’s what I thought. In the end, I was able to maneuver Isa into a night at The Cabooze alongside Cecil Otter. The two of them, absolutely amazing together, and f’n class acts. Been a treat, so far, to work with’em. So then what do I do with Prof? Put’em in The Varsity date I had been hankering Josh for a half year ago.

Varsity and Prof together, and an undercard to jolt a burnt out Ford F-150 back to life. Enough undercard to rival SoundSet. Enough undercard to rival the Celtics. Stick with music long enough, befriend these cats from the open mics, and keep your eye on what an audience responds to… voila, undercard of the century. They’re scrappy, talented, hungry- I love workin’ with these folks because they don’t sleep ‘til Brooklyn, or Canada for that matter. Mnemosyne, Mike Dreams, K. Raydio, DJ Turtleneck, Lazlo Supreme, and myself. Prof can only pull so much, and The Varsity’s cap is 650. Bam, if it doesn’t sell out, it’ll be illegal for how many people will be crammed in the joint.

Back to the car, it’s true, absolutely true. So much in fact that I feel like taking deep breaths for the rest of the night. It’s sad. Not only have I not asked for help, I’ve consciously steered away from it. Before 2 years of taking stages in Minneapolis, I developed 2 rivalries, an entire side of the city that evil eyed even the spelling of my name, and a dis track online heard cross the country…about me (ref. Customer Service by Franz Diego). It’s good, I dig it, can’t find it anymore, so it goes.

Can’t travel into the future without putting the past behind you, I’ve done my damndest to mend the cracks and crevaces, reach out, and develop something beyond my own sight line. Still, she’s right… until Friday.

I’ll get into it later, but Jake (aka Prof) and I had a falling out years upon years ago. Happened at The Blend’s CD release show at the Kitty Cat Klub… The Blend’s 1st CD Release Show, prehistoric high school/freshmen college year days. Crazy far back, it’s not worth holding a chip on your shoulder about. So I said fuck it, and called him up. Not before running into his manager, Mike… and then his label, Stophouse…wait- Label, this kid’s on a label? Indeed. Sells out the Fine Line, participates in SoundSet, and opens for POS at the 1st Ave. Main Room. Can’t make moves like all alone…right? ;)  Meh, I reached out and made it happen… and here we are. Me, promoting him as a headliner in conjunction with Stophouse, and him assisting the young, dirty, scrappy undercard… actually they’re both helping each other, but it is what it is.

We bid goodbye. I turn off the radio. Get that short moment of silence that’s necessary after the truth’s reared it’s familiar smarmy-ass smile. I get it. I get it. I get the small notion to call Jeb, good friend out in LA, and ask him “Hey, wanna be my manager”.

Be there:
Friday, Nov. 19th
The Varsity Theater
1308 14th St. SE
Mpls, MN
Doors 8pm, Music 9pm

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Late For My Own Funeral

Who the f--- is Ricky, you ask? Ricky is an old man that lives in New Orleans, LA, fights for Charity Hospital after it’s demise, not due to Katrina but to the shallow pockets and greedy appetite of Louisiana State University. After Katrina hit New Orleans, it gave the government and powers-that-be, an excuse to shut down institutions they could have only dreamed of scraping from the picture.

Charity Hospital was one of few hospitals that took care of people without health insurance. The gamut between haves and have-nots, in New Orleans, is far enough to fill several charity hospitals, and to shut down the one that catered to an impoverished city, set a fire under Ricky’s ass. Veteran activist, protested the Vietnam war, lead the Socialist Worker’s Activist Union in New Orleans, dropped out of college to write for the Militant in NYC, didn’t get his driver’s license until thirty-something, ladies and gentlemen… I give you Ricky.

Aside from all the civil rights fighting, freedom fighting, and public speaking, the special thing about Ricky is…he’s my dad. We totally don’t get along, the fire under his ass is an eternal flame, if you Wikipedia “curmudgeon” (def: a bad tempered, difficult, cantankerous person) his picture pops up, nuff said. Ask either of us to speak ill of the other and we could go on for days, but at the end of every phone conversation we wrap with “Love you”. Crazy and off-the-wall as it sounds, we get along through the thick of it. We have to. For as many times as I’ve walked away, he’s walked away, we’ve written each other off, the fact is…I’m his son, and he’s my father and ain’t shit gonna change it.

When it comes down to it between any two people, there is the potential for love, given both parties have to chip in. Scratch that, sometimes to love you have to have faith, and I can’t count how many times I’d sit and pray in church, as an 8yr old, and pray for my dad’s health and safety. No clue who or what God was at that point… still don’t, but I’d kneel and pray for the man. Scary as he was, loud as he’d yell, much as he could be a prick, I’d pray for him. This. For me, became the roots and practice of unconditional love. Shit’s hard, but somebody’s gotta do it, and it’s the same regards I’d like him to hold me to.

Anyways, getting to my point, Jake and I finished a song a few days ago in regards to Ricky. I played it for my mom, Jane. She liked it. Volume’s gotta come down on the vocals a lil bit, but aside from that it might suffice as the front runner for the mixtape. We perform it next week Friday, Nov. 19th at the Varsity Theater, a show I put together with Prof as the headliner. Got the idea for the song from a story Abigail had given me, The Return by Roberto Bolano (squiggly line over the “n” of “Bolano”. Never really figured out how to do that. Result: numerous points docked in Spanish classes). Roberto Bolano wrote The Return as a hypothetical as to how he died, what it’s like on the other side, and everything he experienced. Loved it, had to try it myself. We’re all goin’ at some point, might as well start writing thanks.

Yesterday morning, after hearing the song a few more times, my mother, in tears, poor woman, weeps, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” “No mom. Roberto Bolano wrote it, why can’t I, it’s just a song”. “Who’s Roberto?”. Christ, the communication has come down to this. Yea yea, the song is dark, I get it, but not enough to pass the impression “I’m gonna end this thing today”. C’maaaaaaaaan. Check it for yourself here. If links aren’t your thing, you can jump to and click on “Late For My Own Funeral”.

Here’s the lyrics:

Ya see that thing up there, it’s called the sky
And I’m gonna give it to you someday, but only when it’s right
You see my time here isn’t long, matter fact I’m already gone.
They buried me yesterday with my backpack and a song
Well first things first, tell Carol she was my earth
I enjoyed the long talks over Szechuan after church,
The long prayers through it all, the long stares at the wall
Makin’ waits to hear your fate from doctors at the hospitals.

And we made it, well at least you did, so tell Jane
She’s the ink for those “World’s Greatest Mom” t-shirt templates
We fought like deadlines, set-backs, age and time
And worked out like deadliner, set-backs, and age and time
Rock on Janer, you last minute lane changer
Combattin’ cancer on the daily all love and no anger.
Tell your daughter, Annie, to take it easy on herself
She’s come farther than her father could ever help.

Yea, I dig that guy, but he’s a sketchy profile,
And I’ll be damned if I’m not the one to walk you down the aisle
I have a few words for Ricky, but we’ll save that for the end
So for now, sister, know your brother loves you after death
And I’m still lookin’ for Chase, Jerren Schaden and Doc
Maria Croix, Barb Jones, and Joe Sodd
It’s crazy up here, I’ve been in line since I landed
Fillin’ out paper work to make sure I am who I say I am, but

What I miss most is your voice
My memory’s still the same even though my life has change
Cos’ what gets me by are the simple joys.
I was late for my own funeral so I could spend the day as a ghost on your shoulder.

Anyways, over here the roads are pristine
I only wish I could’ve brought my Honda with me.
That things gonna out live your kid’s kids
So don’t forget, every 60,000 give the transmission fluid the business.
Drive it back to New Orleans, have a hand grenade for me
And kill the hangover with PJ’s in the mornin’
I wanna hear you laughter in the hereafter
Unconditional, no matter where luck steers the dagger

Smile, it may not feel like a lot,
But trust in the end, it’s the only thing you’ve got
I don’t mind that you don’t care, I don’t mind
And I’ll be late for yours too, so I guess it’s only fair
It’s clear you pick the moments you choose to be a father
And I’m guilty of lettin’ my mood determine what I call ya
Derek, Mr. Morrison, Dad whatever it is today
I’m your son, and even in the next that won’t change

But what I miss most is your voice
My memory’s still the same even though my life has changed
What gets me by are the simple joys
I was late for my own funeral so I could spend the day as a ghost on your shoulder.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Interracial Night Out

Four weeks ago, I had come across a dope-ass font named "Mexcellent". Two weeks later, in Cancun, I stepped into an elevator along with the rest of Mexico's Women's National Soccer Team. Yesterday, saw one of the gals from the elevator on ESPN jumping in the air after handing the USA Women's Team their first loss to Mexico in a damn long time. All events that have nothing to do with the following story...

So a Mexican, two Brazilians, and a racially ambiguous guy walk into a bar… meh, less a bar, more like a giant club fitting for a Michael Mann shoot out (ref: Collateral), but nonetheless we’ll call it a bar for the sake of simplicity.

More shades of brown than Photoshop CS10 Jesus Edition 3000, if the four of us were in New York we’d look like we knew each other, in L.A. we’d look like an out-of-work camera crew, in Minnesota we’d look like a drug cartel... and we’d totally get away with it, but for now we’re two Brazilians, an American, and a local (damn good running title for Michael Mann’s next film, as long as they hire Javier Bardem as the Mexican, I’ll sell the rights for less than 10g).

$50 wrist band and “free” shuttle ride later, this place wreaks of a Justin Timberlake music video. Ceiling high as a national bank, and lighting that’d make The Varsity look like a sideshow; all of which is a good thing, however that cold feeling happens to my gut on the minute every minute, translating this could be fun, or I could wind up in a suitcase just outside the Cancun City Dump.

Can’t make out a single word this guy is saying to me. “De donde eres?”, I ask. “Brasil”, he says, and that explains it. Nice, I could use a quick brush-up on my Portugese while I’m here. Perhaps he mistook me for someone who’s native to something closer to Brazil than plain ol’ U.S.A. Narp, not even. We hold what I wouldn’t even call a conversation… let’s go with neanderthalic sign language. We stick with the gutturals, short-Spanish, and hand gestures. Back in a theater tech class, professor Lance held an entire class on communication between director and lead set design. He said the best communication is guttural. Short gestures and grunts can go farther than a paragraph… and they do. Christ, we talked about Giselle, Jiu-Jitsu, the caliber of Brazilian women of which he couldn’t stop speaking about, how long we’re in town- ERRRRK! Dance circle twelve o’clock!

Quick note, when a dance circle breaks out, one of two things must happen: 1. Draw to it like a fly to neon lighting, white people to poll booths, cops to the north side of Minneapolis, etc… or 2. Jump in.
Even quicker note: never jump into a dance circle to show-off. You kamikaze that biotch to make a complete fool of yourself, and hopefully light a fire under someone elses arse who’s dream it’s always been to jump in a dance circle and break it down like freakonomics.

Love these things. Dove in hands first to eek out the two –and-a-half break moves I know. I’m no good, but put out just enough and you’ll draw out the real b-boys. Flashback: 15 yr. old Toussaint use to stand and watch dancers b-boy for so long at the Sunday danceteria at 1st Ave. that each breaker could’ve easily filed a restraining order on me. I’d just stand there, between “too afraid to jump off the diving board” and “enthralled enough to watch it all go down”. A few lessons, bruised elbows, and 3 of my top 10 most embarrassing moments later, I can do it like they’re the only moves I know… because they are. Half-break, half-gymnastics, it’s enough to draw this kid out lookin’ like Pharell’s younger brother. He takes the bait, shoulders me out, spins like a dreidel on his hands and heals. Folks gasp at his sneaks in the air, the crowd ooh’s at his simple defiance of gravity-Bam, I’m back in on the hands, absolutely no rhythm, but nonetheless feet don’t touch the ground, and it continues like that ‘til I can negotiate a shoulder to the ground and spin to a pose… enough to look like I meant it. He puts on another clinic, finishes almost on his face, and calls it. Thanks, I’m out of moves anyways. Shiiiiit, and if this were to haul on any longer we would have to resort to dancing on our feet. We clasp hands and greet. He says he’s from New York, the others with him are from Canada, my drug cartel introduces themselves from South America, a group of gals drop in to introduce themselves from London… and here we are, dancing like we’ve known each other since the California Achievement Test in grade school, border-line buzzed, and above all: smiling.

The alcohol sweats through your pours so quick, you’d think you’d been drinking Diet Coke the whole night. Trust, it’ll hit you at some moment though. These wristbands = license to binge. Too much is always an easy direction to start, although no one ever finishes. The fact we’re in Mexico, the authorities could make sure your picture doesn’t even make it to the back of a milk carton… I’m coo.

In a blink… it’s 4am. Buenos dias, I step out to snag a taxi. It’s raining like the storm to put the coast under for good is eminent to hit. If it does, at least we went down dancing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

This Is Fran Camden, This Is Sparta

(Read the previous entry here to actually understand what the f’s going on. However, quick brush-up: Fran Camden, ex from a year ago. Last we saw each other, the national guard was put on alert. Murk, Fran’s sister.

Bar-close upon us, The Nomad was more cryphy than Get Cryphy. People jumpin’ off the stage, dancing on, off, in, and around it, tables pushed all directions to clear the floor. The night’s dubbed “Soul Friday, the only dance party for and by queer women of color and friends”. Not a bad claim, and got damn do they get down. Twas off the cliff.

Murk showed me her new extension, ever so proudly. I made a joke, which is mandatory whenever anyone shows you their extensions, we went on to converse. Her bday’s next week, can’t make it to the show, etc. Enter the Dragon…Fran. She’s shorter than I remember. Touches my newly dawned beard. “What’s this…why are we growing a beard all of a sudden? What’s going on here?”. She’s not as good at condescension as the master, Ms. Shin, but she gives it a college try. “Growing it out for a music vid”, I say. Which as of now, is gone. Couldn’t stand the damn beard. Itched, itched and itched. Blonde, red, and gray hairs were sproutin’ out the thing. No clue what was goin’ on in there. Had to go.

She continues. Stares at me like it’s my turn to give her shit…but I’m all out. Game’s over, I’d rather talk about Tom Emmer’s day schedule than spar with the woman. I grin and look to Murk to continue our conversation. “Uhh, I hate that. I can’t stand it when you do that”, she says. And I just look back, smile, and continue the conversation with Murk. So she stands there and stares at me for the rest of the ten minutes I was around. Obviously drunk, she kept repeating "This is awkward. Isn't this awkward?" wanting myself and everyone else to agree with her and partake in the same feeling... but it wasn't. It was absolutely fine, with nothing awkward about it. 

Doting on a few more gestures I gave, as she persisted with the "awkward" accusations, I thought, "Why? Why even tell me that your uncomfortable right now? The best you have to contribute to the conversation is the overbearing obvious, then why even step here. You know absolutely everyone in this bar, you use to work in this bar, everyone would love to hear about your this bar, so why step to me, hold the smile, and play Queen Obvious. Tell me what your excited about for the future, where you're going next, do you think of Sex & The City 2 is anywhere near the 1st, somethin' more than thin discussion about the discussion." Yes, I'd rather talk about Carrie Bradshaw than hear more of the same from the same...but, it's cute, and although she wants me to agree with her, I can't... I don't feel awkward. This "Dance party for and by queer women" is too outrageously awesome to feel awkward. Shiiiiiit, I might just have to jump in.

After a few tries, she gave it a civil pursuit. She didn’t make the cut for GAP in San Francisco, asked about Jeb’s wedding in Cali… and I honestly couldn’t tell you the rest of what we spoke about. They say 90% of communication is done without words. I believe it. Fran and I quite possibly carried on an entire dialogue, just without words. What’s strange is the fact that I could be dead silent, and I’d still somehow piss her off. Had to have been several times throughout the conversation that she road blocked to say, “Uhh, I can’t stand it when you do that”. Do what? I’m taken back, here. It seemed that simple gestures, laughs, and details just lit a fire under her arse. And for what? No clue.

With Fran Camden, these little things use to set off Battle Royale Galacticas. Back when we were together, there was a definitive moment when she snapped on a moment’s sliver, gave me this look like a supervisor gives a late employee. This entitlement, sense of ownership, bravado was going to have to check itself, or find a different man to take the wrap. Wasn’t me. I plugged my fair share of mishaps and wrongs into the equation, but again, relationships are about problem solving (ref: Mallory). Twas the final snap, and it was either high time to deal or fold. When it came time, more than enough factors reared their ugly mugs and the entire situation folded. Ehhh, “folded” is an understatement. Let’s go with “mushroom clouded”.

However you cut the butter, seeing Fran again was refreshing. It’s not everyday you can put down the guns and gloves, and share a smile with someone that threatened to dial 911 last they saw you. Truly a special thing (half sarcastic, half sarcastic). I kid, I kid. What was nice about it was the little gestures that use to provoke the crazy in her weren’t half as devastating. At least not to me. Murk hovered in the background the entire time, making expressions at Fran’s expense, mocking, bunny ears, the works… I’d laugh, Fran’d turn to her and give her shit.

Finished my Abita beer, “Was good seeing you”, made my way to the exit. Not bad for a Friday. Just when I thought it was the end of a night that’d never end, in rolls a text from Mike Lipset. After Party... oh sure why not. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And There She Was...

The coolest sister she has calls her sissafran, so for short we’ll call her Fran. Far from the family, but always aspiring to be, her immediate lineage resembles somewhat the surface of the Camdens (ref: 7th Heaven). With that said, this woman is Fran Camden. True grit, crazy like a fox, smarter than everything above-average, and has a glare that could give a non-smoker cardiac arrest. Let’s leave her alone for now, and get back to it later.

The night is somewhat young, and you can hear his voice is a lil’ bit younger. Not the fact that it’s young age-wise or high pitch, but in the vein of enthusiasm. This kid has the f----kin fire. He’s waited this moment for years, perhaps his life even. Sweat, dreams, cash: all spent in the name of an art form that suits an outlet for his mental livelihood and day-to-day miscues. When you look Mike Lipset in the eyes, he looks like he will cut you. His eyes have the frow of a bull dog, truly not giving a f--- and the one who will finish the fight rather than start it. I’ve seen this before and it strikes no fear in any fiber of me, but what sends chills down my spine is the history in his pupils. I don’t know Mike’s background, but aside from his stare staking action, the stare also parlays he has cut someone before. People that aren’t afraid to do shit… are nothing to be afraid of. It’s the m-----f-----ers that’ve done it before and have absolutely no problem taking to you with fist, blade, or bullet at any moments notice.

Getting to know Mike, you’d quickly conclude he’s not the type. His stare however communicates different. The dichotomy is still beleaguering, but I do my best to stay on the same page with him, and this is it. His night has come. The 18+ crowd of escapists, impulse, and live fast instinct raises their hands in sync with his call and response. The Minnesota girls either gyrate to the beat as if Burning Man had just been kicked off, or stand and give him the same killer stare back. It’s moving. Mike’s moving. The moment is moving, and he’s brought us along for the ride. You gotta be thankful for gritty-ass artists like Mike. His ambition is just getting started and you can’t help but respect the fire he has to offer. Mike Lipset’s Levelheads Mixtape release party at Hell’s Kitchen… yeah, I was there.

Quickly had to bounce to 1st ave for Get Cryphy. Anu’s always spoken about it, but I never took her word for it. Met up with Ryan K, Riley, and a few other national caliber poets outside the joint. Tried to get in, couldn’t. Door man says they’re at capacity. C’moooooon, I have money, don’t you want it.

Na. 1st Ave’rs could give a shit less if you had the cure for cancer at the door. The building shuts it down like Fort Knox. Years ago, I use to be a bouncer at 1st Ave. You take a code of the samurai for that place. Soul before cash. Defend the establishment at all costs… even if that cost is you. Jea, if any door men were to take a bullet for their club, they’d be the door men I’m staring down right now. Quick, he’s not looking. I raise my wrist as if I already have a wristband, and pass by like a ghost.

Boom, I’m in. Bodies clashing, bass blowing through the wet air, ganja blowing through the wet air, and there she was… at the bar. Arch-nemesis, the devil herself, “Ms. Shin” we’ll call her for now. Backstory: Ms. Shin and myself collided like a bitter old loveless marriage in high school. Never took the time to get to know each other, just hated each other. Senior year we tried to make a treuce, she asked me to Sadies. It was on, but later we called it off. Possibly we could look each other in the eye and mean it when we say "even if you were the last person on earth...". Or not. Last we spoke, we were out for coffee, walking with her 3 year old daughter around Medal Park. Again, somehow the hatred lives on. “Don’t you have a bar and a kid to tend to?”. She quickly cuts back, “Don’t you have a show to do in Wisconsin?”. Wasn’t a dig, but the way Ms. Shin says it… you can just tell she’s going for the throat everytime. The way she said it would make any musician feel ashamed for ever setting foot near Wisconsin. I don’t know how she does it, but she does. She could spite volunteer work in Africa, and make people feel guilty for even thinking about joining the Peace Core. Mutant power, cold queen… or both. We’ll never know, but when she aims, hot damn she always hits. I grin. She grins. I ghost away to the entrance to catch Ryan K and co. still outside not trying to find the cure for cancer. Get Cryphy, more than my scene, and I’d stay for the party, but not tonight. Promised a friend I’d meet her somewhere, sometime in the city. Meh, can’t quite call it “friend”, more a friendly acquaintance.

The text is in, she’s at The Nomad… and I know where this is going. Coolest sister Fran has, we called her La Mark. I always liked LaMurk better, so we’ll go with Murk on this one. Murk texts she’s at The Nomad. Seeing she’s never in Minneapolis, I book it down to the West Bank. Step out the taxi with my bright orange Michael Kors sweatshirt I bought in Brooklyn for $20, and a tie that’d make me gay in Mpls, but fresh to death in Brooklyn. Meh, I’d rather dress Brooklyn in Mpls, than dress Mpls in Brooklyn, right? Door man/Bartender Shad greets me at the door. “You’re in for it tonight”, he cryptically murmurs. “I know”, I think back to him. Shad, quite possibly the bartender with the most swag in Minneapolis… partially ‘cos he’s from New Orleans. (Sidenote: If you’re ever at The Nomad, ask Shad to make you a Hurricane. Only cat in Mpls that can do it like New Orleans. Hot fire.)

“Meh, her sister told me to meet her here.” Shad opens the door, I step in. Dark as the bat cave, Dracula dark, organized noise sweeping through the room, couldn’t be a better way to end the night… why? We’ve already said it once before, but collectively let’s say it again all together now “And there she was”. Back turned at the bar, facing the side door, her head swiveled to the right to glance over her shoulder… Fran. Similar to the snake woman in The Golden Child, starring Eddie Murphy, her head swiveled over that shoulder like a damn serpent. Christ, the woman’s got Spider-Sense all of a sudden. Maybe she’s seen this coming as well. Did Murk tell her I was droppin’ by? Is that a question you idiot, they’re sisters? Wish I cared enough to listen to the questions fire off in my brain like Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room, for this I could careless.

Mind you, Fran is as important to me as I am to her. Nil. However, what is important is the last time Fran and I were face-to-face, volume raised past high and into the realms of “somebody better call the po’s, a domestic’s about to go down like the bonus round”. Last time Fran and I were face-to-face she looked the sight of unrecognizable, a familiar face gone more ways than straight, eyes empty, anger full as a dirty sink , and holding on to the final tangible piece you could record from our discorded past. Call it heated, trespassing, crazy, or me just trying to get my shit back, but the last time Fran and I were face-to-face, Clash of the Titans didn’t have shit on us, the beginning fight scene between Justice and Afro’s father of Afro Samurai was fluorescent pale in comparison, and clearly everything prologued to the moment, strangely, made it an appropriate explosion. Meh, but I didn’t come here to see her, came here to see Murk. And Murk totally knew we'd run into each other. Christ, when was the last time Murk wanted to hang out without Fran involved? Maybe Murk's as entertained with our interactions as any blood lusting UFC audience... can't blame her.

Always had an idea of how this’d go down… but was never in the cards ‘til tonight. If anything, it’ll be entertaining just to see if she breaks a glass and lunges at me right then and there, or acts stand off-ish and plays it safe. Fran and I could be apathetic, engaged, or absolutely unaware of each others presence in the same room, and we’d somehow still wind up at each others throats, be it attraction or spite. For more than a year, love’s been long gone, and I’m too apathetic at this point to give the woman spite… however, the last time we spoke is about to become microscopic compared to the next moments we spend in the same building together… (to be continued... when I have more energy tomorrow to type again.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How the most important white man in Wisconsin lost everyone's attention...

They ebb and flow these kids through the doors everyday. I’m no different.

My Banana Republic is a sad lie to say “I care”. My Lands End shoes could quite possibly give someone the illusion I know what I’m doing. The surface, the shell, the costume I brandish here isn’t for anyone else but a few important white guys that have my cojones by the legal system. Good friends have become cops, good friends have wound up behind bars, neither side I’d like to have anything to do with. However, here I am, sitting patiently in the safety building of Winnebago County waiting for my 9:30am appointment with the court.

A woman steps into the hall and announces “nine thirty” down the tunnel of shame. About twenty-some people stand up and enter along with me. Christ, this thing is full. Tattoos, suits, backpacks, leggings huddle into the stretch of benches… and apparently everyone knows each other. Greetings, hugs, handshakes, texts, number exchanges, shared stories, all seem to go down in a matter of several minutes before my ass even hits the bench. Everyone knows each other! And they’re not even phased that they’re about to get hit with the realness from Judge Captain Caucasian Conservative, in t-minus 30 minutes. Wisconsin is about to tarnish and tax that ass, and these folks are shaking hands like a “peace be with you” session in catholic church. Before I can join in, they put the wheels in motion.

A cop, with a mustache that’d rival Captain Jack, sits at a table facing away from us. Another white guy in a suit and badge sits at the far left of the room facing perpendicular to us. Then, the most important white guy enters the room. We rise. We sit. We listen.

He lays out the rules, but somehow I go into a blur. Completely thought I was going to go “not guilty” with this thing. I’d consulted over a dozen lawyers, over a dozen people hit with the same ticket, but do I seriously wanna drag this out to come back to this god forsaken middle-of-nowhere-great-candidate-for-a-Wes-Craven-film town again? Na, cousin. I want out- but maybe I can fight it with “not guilty”. My situation’s less cut and dry, and more Pelican Brief… minus Denzel and the happy ending.

In a state of “what the fuck should I do”, the entire crowd of accused gets blindsided. Here it goes. The first called to the stand is a young woman. She got a ticket for something alcohol related… like the rest of us, right? Everything is going dandy, until she steps in front of us to face important white guy numero uno. Please bear in mind, I’m sitting at the front of 3 benches, chalk full of male.

Ok, so she steps in front, and several seconds into her plea, I notice something... dude to my left, dude to my right, seemingly every dude on this bench is cryptically staring at something. Before I begin to believe time’s been frozen, and I might have to consult the Professor X to put it back in motion- boom, there it is. The source of the silence. The young gal copping a plea for her case isn't wearing pants, shorts, skirt, absolutely nothing to cover her lower situation, for that matter... just leggings.

Now, unless I’m in a well defined relationship, I’m not the type to cat call, ass slap, overtly flirt, or harass in any way. Matter of fact, I’m self-conscious enough to look away and go “Jesus, woman clothe yourself”… however, this is entertaining enough just to spot the reaction on my band of soon-to-be-ticketed Wisconsinites. I look to my right and a gentlemen’s jaw has dropped through the floor into purgatory. He looks brain dead, ready to drool the capacity of a kiddie pool, and unaware if today’s date is B.C. or A.D. To my left, the only other guy dressed as if he “care’s” more than I do, has gone flush. He doesn’t know whether to stare at it or dodge it. He can’t decide, so he does this shuffle like he has to get to the bathroom, stat. A shuffle that isn’t quite “I need a cigarette”, but leaning more towards “If I don't get another hit, I'm goin' tourettes”.

F it, I give in and look as well (say “as if you weren’t, Toussaint you big f----ng liar” here). Annnnnnd, her “leggings” were definitely worth the entire attention of room. Call me dirty, rancid, f’d in the head, whatever you want, but when you’re sitting in court waiting to hear your fate from the long shlong of the law, and all of a sudden the hind of a female commands more attention than the most important white man in all of Winnebago county… it should be documented.

The spell quickly broke. She resolved her case and resided to the outside of the room. Whispering and chuckling spawned from each bench. Back to reality…

Drugs, alcohol, reckless behavior, we’re all in for the shit, but an amount of relief breezes through as this is it… no more waiting, no more wondering... we’re here, finally. Breathing sighs of relief as each leaves the room almost as if they’d never get there… but they do. We all do.

I remember stepping out of the pool of swim practice in high school, holding my chest about to heave over from anxiety. The source you ask? I was freaking about a swim meet over a month away! Anxiety… always had it, will probably forever have it- the trick is in how you deal. Trick is in manipulating it to your advantage. For this, I can maneuver it. I’m not coming back here for anything less than a show, so thanks, but no thanks on boxing the case. I plead no contest. They drop over half the charges, and I’m out.

Best friend, Jarvis, who put Mallory and I up for the night before this court appearance, was behind bars for 2 years. Hardly the criminal of the century, matter fact I can find no piece of Jarvis that could come close to synonymous with “criminal”. One of the best peoples I know. He’ll forever have my back, and if he was ever in a bind, I’d steal a bike and jump to his rescue as quick as possible.

To Write Love On Her Arms, was inspired by a gal that had cut “Fuck Up” into her forearm. Essentially we all “fuck up”, and sometimes that “fuck up” goes against the standards of our friends & family, standards of our own, standards of the law, and so on. Whatever the standard may be, we can take the wrap so hard we're capable of carving it into our skin. Whether you like it or not, we're built on an abundance of shame, and if you can't find a smile in the fire or deep breathe amongst the chaos, therein lies the loss. It gets worse before it gets better. So there we sat, a pack of one-winged angels that hit rock bottom with a grin, dared to climb the edge of the pit back to the surface, show up to court, and still radiate a smirk wide as the cracks in our halos. Again, how we deal is what counts.

Like Mallory, some of us have the ability to laugh at funerals, silent elevators, near-death experiences, etc. Somehow, some way, I couldn't hold it in much longer, and laughed in court just before getting a heavy dose of “don’t f--- with us again”. Absolutely nothing funny about what we’re here for, but watching two dozen soon-to-be-fined gentlemen go zombie at the site of a woman’s back side whilst in the presence of the most important white guy in Wisconsin... that'll hit a funny bone for anyone bearing witness.

For me, the risk never outweighed the direction, and along the way, its built a few beautiful imperfections. As much as I should hate to get mellow dramatic at the end of something like this, I don't :) One thing is sure: we don't have much time here. I say, even in the thick of all the shit and what would presumably be the worst, smile- laugh- enjoy while you can.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Big Buck Thunder

There’s definitely something about the girl. She has this profound sense of her surroundings. We’re not talkin’ anything relative to Spider-Man’s Spider Sense, but more so Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman.

Anyways, we’re rolling along 21E through the perilous, black of night. Mallory’s usually a quiet gal, doesn’t speak unless spoken to… meh, I take that back, she’ll totally blurt out some weird inappropriate random shite every now and then. Either way, she’s sittin’ passenger, I’m behind the wheel, Oshkosh-bound for my first court date (we won’t divulge details, but spot me on the street or any coffeeshop and I’ll tell you all about it).

The basis of this trip is to take care of business, take responsibility, and make it to court in one piece. Problem is the trip doesn’t mean shite to anyone but me. The importance of the trip only bears weight in my life, and no one elses. Again, problem is I need someone to travel with me or else I’ll never escape Wisconsin (you’re getting closer, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, ask and I shall tell).

In the midst of all this personal bs, legalities and politics, I’d like you to take note, again, of Mallory; Shining, magnetizing men more by accident than purpose, smile bright as the day is long, and absolutely down for whatever. Best friend, illegitimate sister, person of immeasurable patience, ticket back to Minnesota, provider of a gallant favor by taking this trip with me, beholder of all things awesome… Mallory. We jet thru the night, pushing 60 on a pitch black road, bumping NPR, Honda’s brights slicing through the absence of light.


I feel it…

Not before Mallory felt it… she murmurs something I can’t make out (Bear in mind, these next few paragraphs are attempting to describe 3 seconds).

Hairs stand up from my forearms to my chest, then to places I didn’t know I had hair. A profound ghost whips through my shell of a body, alerting every bit of attention I can possibly give to this world and presumably the next. Eerily, without even fully interpreting what Mallory continues to repeat… I see it.
The light bouncing off its giant chest, present as the night, tall as clouds, confident since conception, marauding like a B.A.M.F. straight O.G. Some would shout “DEER”, as Mallory was, but this thing wasn’t even close to the word. This animal was huge, and when I say huge I don’t mean the conventional “wow that’s pretty big”, I mean it in terms of “Holy Christ of all things lost and found, I thought the Jurassic era ended millions ago…” huge. So large it was the descendent bastard son of the most badass fawn in all the land and a moose that use to hunt white people, so ridiculous and giant that the moose community had to outcast it from the herd. The steed’s out ran horses, gave notion to the Jagermeister logo, and evaded every red neck shotgun in Wisconsin only to return to the highway and sack cars in the name of Reggie White. It’s antlers were the size of Brock Lesnar’s thighs, but it’s stare said, “fuck you Honda, don’t mind the antlers, you see this torso, cos’ I will total your fucking car and straight roll up out this bitch, back  to the fam and brag how your shitty Honda tried to contest the swag”.

The beast lunges towards Honda. I quickly take note, the swag of the monster is irrefutable. Honda’s got swag, but not enough. Fuck the car, this things horns will stab through the windshield, through my face, and continue thru my soul. I want nothing to do with this, I want my soul, I want to stick around in this world for a lil’ longer just to see what will happen with the Vikes, have a kid, and see my sister get married - so I juke right, the beast falls for it- Quick! I swerve left- he swivels his head toward the hood, I twist even deeper to the left almost a 90degree angle from straight… and dodge the mythological creature.

If this were a movie, this thing would have totaled me, Mallory, my car, and moved on to ban humans from ever entering Wisconsin again, thusly branding the Animal Civil Rights Patriot Act of 2010. If this were a video game, this thing would shoot back at the Big Buck Hunter, and if you ever had the Irish luck to get a piece of it, it’d be worth over 10,000 points, immediately thrusting you to all-time high-score. This wasn’t a deer, this wasn’t a buck, this wasn’t a big buck… this was Zeus Buck. The Bruce Willis to fawns, the Muhammad of four-legged organisms, the Moses of all Midwestern wildlife… and I dodged it.
We drive into the dark… again. Me just a little more alert, Mallory laughing so hard she almost burst into tears. She laughs loudly while I contemplate my grave stone. She confesses to having a hard time not giggling at funerals and silent elevators. I forgive her for the insensitivity to us possibly going on a road trip to the hereafter instead of Oshkosh. Had she not had the eye of the samurai, I would’ve totaled my car into Zeus Buck’s chest, become another notch on his bed post, and missed a court date that would put me yet deeper into the ass of the system.

I sigh one of those sighs that makes you grateful for simple mortality, your mother, AM/FM radio, and anything else blessing you amongst the financial upper-echelon of the world. Amidst her cackling laughter, I wasn’t able to say what I’m able to type now… thank you Mallory, thank you. Crazy or not, I don’t care what they say about you. You’re Elvis, you’re The Daily Show, you’re a Tribe Called Quest, simply all things good wrapped into one.

Aside from my thanks, Honda says she owes you her livelihood. Until next time…

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Third

Had to have been four years ago, Mallory facebook'd me how displeased she was with the way white women were portrayed in Thursday Night, a play I had written and put up at the Varsity Theater. I called her on it, and said "let's get coffee if you're so broken up about it". We did. She weirded me out, I freaked her out. We didn't talk for a solid two years. Met back up and spent the entire summer together terrorizing Minneapolis leaving behind stolen bikes, fake id's, and empty PBR cans. Let's call it the Summer of Mallory, shall we.

Tonight, on a road trip to Wisconsin, we chat over it all. All'a sudden I flash back to the summer we kicked for so long, and the week I completely checked out on her. The week that started with a call from my mother that Joe Sodd III, one of my sister's best friends, had been murdered outside of the Triple Rock. Crazy, I had just had a conversation with the kid last I threw a party in Minneapolis at the old apartment. It was the fact he was gone, it was the fact he was murdered in the neighborhood I was raised in. 

I learned to love the West Bank and Riverside Plaza. The worst we got caught up in were fist fights, drug deals, and the occasional vandalism. Later on,, for some peers things got worse. Jail time, on the run, addicted to hard drugs, etc. The community slowly got the best of a few of us. Turned us into the strangers we weren't supposed to talk to as children. Luckily, I had the outlet of a house in South Minneapolis and could, later on, avoid it all... not for the breadth of the group though. 

The same shit that caught up with the old crew... spilled onto Joe. Not that Joe was caught up with anything, but the nature of a neglected, low-income, over populated neighborhood had swallowed up an innocent outsider trying to get to his scooter after leaving the Triple Rock. No clue who had the soundless mind to commit such a cowardly act, but they did. Happens every day, and picking notice of it doesn't really strike until it's relatively close to home... unfortunately. People die in the streets everyday. Just heard a story on NPR of Frank Paul from B.C., died in an alley of hypothermia. He had just been picked up by cops in Vancouver for being drunk in public. They took him and and then dropped him off sopping wet in an alley... The cops responsible were suspended for 2 to 3 days.

Question is: what do we do after the tragedy, how do we deal with the tragedy, how do we prevent the tragedy, and more so than anything what do we learn from the tragedy. Wrote this back in the Summer of Mallory, figured it's appropriate for today.


So she’s blackout drunk
With Friday night still caught in the cobwebs of her hair,
and nail polish so chipped
It makes the escape from Shawshank look as easy
as checking out of a hotel.

And she snores…
Like the death of a Ford Truck
So loud
it actually wakes her up on every other (snore)

Still half asleep,
whatever lucid dream going on her head at the moment
pulls her eyelids back down
like garage doors crashing shut against the ground.

I just sit there and watch her, to make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid
Because it’s Saturday morning,
less than half the weekend,
And anyone can take a wild guess
the rest isn’t peaches
They don’t sell liquor around here on Sundays,
but it more than likely won’t stop the drinking
                Because it’s only been a few days since her best friend was stabbed in the neck
And left in the street bleeding… to die.

Unexpected Death is funny.
                It’ like the moment you just realized someone stole your bike.
Y’know the brief moment you step outside and its not there and… Fuck!

It’s one of those things
a decade and a half of school,
twenty some odd years on earth,
and parents can’t prepare you for
or teach. It’s
just one of those things
you deal with…

Her and I have grown up together,
long enough
To understand giving two cents doesn’t always make up the difference
And defining what it is and what it isn’t, isn’t as defining as what you give it.

As children
We learned to never trust never
In high school we found that no savior or god
                can measure out forever
                or reassure any empty feeling or broken heart
                will feel better.
And in these past few days,
we learned the city doesn’t have a halo
                it has a cloud.
And you never truly have tomorrow
                all you got is right now.

So for the moment, she can drink
and cry as much as she wants
Draw an imaginary line
between sad and drunk
Grab the ground by the collar
and smash it back to mud
Curse the world to ash and dust
wanting nothing to do with anything,
and right now that’s not asking much.

Standing stuck
smiling through tears
and sporatically laughing
just because
It’s only been a few days since your best friend passed away.

And it’s come down to
The direction we walk
after we crash in flames
What we pursue
when there’s nothing left to drink
What we do
when there’s nothing left to say

Her and I don’t accept death
the same.
So, she gets trashed to a fashionable disaster
                and I watch after her knowing I don’t have to
But I stick around,
Because Minneapolis is her name.
She showed me death
is just one of those things that happens…
like time.
And the rest of us take the risk
being alive.

I want to tell her it’s just like when someone steals your bike
… but people aren’t bikes.
Although, when they’re stolen from us
we walk the city as if we’ll find them again.