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Friday, August 03, 2001
Thursday, August 02, 2001
It was a scary experience for LilBro as he walked the streets of Jacksonville, Florida when he first came to visit.
Un-nerving, even for a hardened New York native.
"They.. they were all being NICE to me.. saying 'hello' and 'how are you' an' shit like they KNOW me.."
I laughed at him, but his consternation was real.
Dont get me wrong. Even with the traditional outward Pennant reserve, he is a famously sociable fella.
But even so, he was torn then as to what he was supposed to do.
Respond, or just avoid the idiots?
Now, Im starting to understand his feeling then of fighting ingrained instincts and his relief at fleeing back to New York where people mind their own damned business.
New York is a famously crowded place where prolonged eye-contact, even casual eye-contact, can be construed as an act of aggression or confrontation.
So you tend not to make any social contact on the streets, even if most New Yorkers turn out to be suprisingly affable, if uniformly high-strung and hurried, when you get to know them one on one.
Walking the less crowded, but still active, not-so-urban streets of Bayonne.. after learning how to smoothly avoid eye-contact .. its becoming un-nerving that I have to unlearn..sorta..sometimes.. on occasion... an essential urban instinct.
I mean, this is still the New York metro area, so Southern-style friendliness isnt to be expected or assumed. But when people are giving me nods and smiles, and I respond by instinctively avoiding eye-contact.. well, I feel strange... un-nerved.
What am I serposed to do? I cant help myself now.
SPECIALLY when its friendliness envinced by Jersey femmes wearing their trademark *skin-tight* shorts and pants. Ai-yi-yi. Lord a' mercy.
(As opposed to the East Harlem or Bronx Mami Wear... a subtle difference and a subject for another day.)
I feel like a fuckin' idiot avoiding eye-contact then.
Heh, even if most of them ARE jailbait. :-)
As we stood around the Internet Cafe/artists gallery, the musician talked about what he needed to do to put some new songs together for gigs and albums, and of another photographer and poet putting on shows one day after coming out of the hospital.. I blurted out..
"Jeez, most folk think the life of an artist is an easy one."
Momentarily, that stopped the conversation.. and a look of pain(?) flickered over his face.
Then he answered evenly; "No, its not easy at all."
And we all left it at that.
Im no artist, but Im starting to appreciate.. (theres that word again).
I was rocking to the funk of yesteryear while blowin' up schtuff.. :-)
Then I heard this tune
Im wrong about the way I feel
But then, will somebody tell me
What is really real
I respect myself
I respect you too
In the end
Its got to be
doing to me as I'd do to you
- Skin Im In, Cameo.
As the lady behind the counter of the dominican-owned and staffed Bronx eatery redid my food order, he came beside me and whispered sotto voce into my ear.. "They got the order wrong because theyre 'Dumb-minicans'..get it?"
Yeah, I got it - but only raised my head upward in a silent nod.
"Heheh. Dumb-minicans. Heheh"
'Dumb'ass grinned at his self-evident wit as I turned back to the ladies and made sure I was VERY nice to them. I wanted to kick his ass out of the eatery myself...on general principle, really.. just so I could feel better for all the good dominican folk in and out of my life that I felt he had just personally slurred.
Later, he asked the Cappy why was she hanging out with "that nigger".
Based on the garbage he had breathed into my ear, I wasnt overly surprised, and only went "He really said that, eh?", when she related an extremely censored version of his conversations.
Is it for real
Or am I seeing shadows in the dark
I'll let you tell me..
Can YOU tell me?
Personally, I ve never had the nigger epithet hurled into my face directly.
But Ive always assumed variations on the theme went on behind my back and around me. Most folk of color do. Thats why we listen for it, even when we dont hear it directly, paying attention to whats often not said.
We would rather know what is really going on.
Then you can deal.
Yes, I do know. Not everyone sez it and not everyone thinks like that..
But shit, if a *Puerto Rican* of multi-ethnic ancestry said that..
Bronx born and raised, he praises his multi-ethnic friends and community.. but in private - would rather think of himself as 'spanish'.
You figure out the code.
Ironically, the Cappy's family and friends make no such distinction.
To my face, they say 'swarthy'.
I dont make a distinction either.
I say other things.
Im just trying to be
In a world
with less and less appeal
I often stand and look at the street sign by my corner in this town of diverse polish/italian/central american/asian cultures, indicating the street as Martin Luther King Avenue..
I stare at the blank space where someone had taken the time to carefully cut out and remove the image of the man being honored, leaving the rest of the sign intact.
When I do, stories go through my mind, like the one related to me the other night, where a young Bayonne cop, confronted by an unruly group in one of the projects and feeling his oats, yelled..
"We OWN you niggers!"
As I looked at the sign, painted with the colors of the american flag, I had no doubt whoever did the deed - doing what he probably thought as his civic duty - would vehemently deny in public he was in any way a bigot.
Is it immoral
or a sin
according to the skin Im in
Nowhere in the song "Skin Im in" does Larry Blackmon of Cameo indicate or mention specific races.
For its not just about any particular race. Or race for that matter.
The feelings arent unique to any single race or culture.
Thats why Im not really angry. Just more and more disappointed as I get older and I see more of what I dont always hear.
That is the creed by which I live
Im just trying to be
But Im becoming
I give thanks for the folk who try.
Tuesday, July 31, 2001
- Broke (as someone retorted .. isnt everyone?)
- Behind on bills. Scarily behind.
- Stuck. Just heading into the city or anywhere beyond walking distance requires heavy financial planning.
- Projects. Not behind, but stuck for lack o' funds. Catch22. You need startup funding to do a venture, otherwise its hard to startup and since no one is willing to fund a startup unless there is an actual entity ... (..round and round, round we go..)
I understand, but.. dammit.
So, relationships, reflections etc etc arent weighing that heavily on my mind, no.
That aside, Im doin fine. :-) Hangin' in d'ere. Thanx fer askin..
That needed to be said. ;-)
Monday, July 30, 2001
The Sicilian ladies in the bakery have been teaching me Italian.
Well, proper italian and a little sicilian.
"Agita" has been my favorite word these last 2 years, if y'all havent noticed.
Ever since I saw Kobe nattering in colloquial, earthy italian on TV somewheres - Ive been .. intrigued.
And no, its not at all pretentious. Nope.
'Course, Im having a hard time RETAINING anything useful ... :-)
Loud and bass booming, natcherally.
NIN - Closer
Shaggy - Mr Lover
RedHotChiliPeppers - RollerCoaster
DMX - Up In Here
Hieroglyphics - The Who
Yeah, I know - Ive had this list up before. Just call me Rewind.
A few weeks ago, the Cappy got tired of me whining about how I never got to see the USS Intrepid cuz young women kept flaking on me whenever it was time to go...
(Truth was, I worked mere blox away in mid-town for years and never hied over there when I had the chance, but anyways..)
So, she told me to put on some decent clothes and dragged me over there to shut me up about people flaking...
Yes. It was all that for this aircraft buff.
But... (whine).. what with two rambunctious kids and the Cappy REALLY wanting to go catch a theater show.. well... it was all kinda rushed...
I think I'll go by meself next time. :-)
Although "Les Miserables" was FAR better than I thought it would be...
Was also my first time to a Broadway Show. (Her being ex-military, she knew how to score free tix...)
So, all in all. A pretty decent time.
Damn, but I find this funny.. :-)