freelance

i write for xmag, the black juice, broke ass stuart & thsppl.com

*elegy for Hip Hop

Kool Hand Herc

smoke billows in my mind when i remember the sound of classic jazz, hip hop

or R&B – most of my favorites can’t be found in the top 40. but when i woke up

in sixth grade, radio jams would include some of the greatest of all time: jeeps the

lex coups the beamers and the benz echoes through sub woofers in my cerebellum.

‘member usher’s footwork in that first video like damn– i felt the foot steps of my

virginity walking away. meanwhile, jigga still sitting on jay elec’s debut and i’ma

keep bumping joey bad til the cows come home & settle remy ma’s beef.

remy kinda lost it. i have to be honest tho- 75% of lyricists don’t interest me. straight

up, i don’t entirely differentiate between emcees and comics. if you don’t believe me,

come thru the roast battle on thursday. everybody i know here straight out of fucks to

give, homie. for what? not for nothing, but i watched capital steez smile, taking shots

at the based god & remembered days when i had more on the line. right now, i can’t

think of nothing i need more than a black messiah. so when i receive photographs of

my friend’s slashed wrists i think back to the roots of Water & How I Got Over– cuz

music makes me high when alcohol seems to fail me. i remember when i used to

believe – now it’s difficult to stick around in rooms of excessive sincerity, especially

when i’ve heard most of the motifs and metaphors before: i pass around my number

hoping for a surprise inspiration; but i know it comes off as desperation. truth, i am

desperate – hopeful i may feel something unfamiliar, like interest in this current

moment (or the next). i’m down with slim k slowdown and the maad city but ya boy

more oriented towards flow. a nigga still waiting on monch’s record, even though i

can never really spell the brother’s name. pharoahe lives. i’m still thinking on how

abdul kenyatta asked me –what’s changed. the old heads are all i wanna listen to now-

old friends are all i have time for. motherfuckers keep praising timberlake but on the

real – gimme them diamonds in the back. i will say this about kendrick- i haven’t heard

jay z get so passionate in years as he did on the freaking Vibe remix.

i’m saying tho- i been out the circuit a lil bit. i ain’t heard the new blackalicious, Meow

the Jewels or what’s going on with Native Tongues. pretty sure Shadow dropped some

thing recently, i ain’t gotten my hands on. forgive me for chasing the past- i’m finna

figure out what the fuck Bronze Naz has been up to. by which i mean to suggest: ya boy

isn’t really a Drizzy fan. no offense or whatever. i won’t be able to care too much about

gambino or Bronson (RIP) until the Roc releases a couple Badu and Jay Elec collabs.

until then, i’m reminiscing on some family jams – erykah/3000, and whatever Ms Hill

got going on. cuz, the dopest emcees i heard in a minute stay mad underutilized in San

Jose, or slumber in the cut working most days in Oakland. i been around this nation; i’ve

heard the millionaires and town heroes; so i project with confidence which of these rappers

and stand ups may get the best shot. and i wish white folks would represent a little more –

the truth is, we need some prophets for these race wars. case in point: some of these legends

have stayed a little quiet. i’m here, waiting on the Trumpslayer to lead us home. shout out to

Cate Gary. i heard a little kid threw something at trump’s motorcade. everybody draws their

own line. after waiting for the return of Jon Stewart, hoping for Obama’s third term, thinking

Trevor Noah might save us- after congratulating Baldwin for his contribution on Saturday

Night; at some point, we have to recognize true revolutionary acts must come from us.

Cornel West is still speaking, Mumia still on Death Row and it’s on us. Chance the Rapper

buying tickets to Get Out like a mini lottery, Cheadle taking his shots where he can, but it’s

still on us. And ya nigga’s rusty, my sound equipment’s busted but we out here trying. i hear

vicious political analysis over stale beers in random dive bars & some days i can’t tell who’s

winning these culture wars but here we are.

i am so sick of shrinking myself down to fit inside a fucking cell phone. straining thru

the cracks to watch a victorious sound byte, bootlegging special FX over stolen WiFi.

apple tells me i can’t listen to music i made, as i slalom flagged emails from youtube over

sampled content – i used to admire graf artists; because, every word they write is illegal.

in 2017, half my thoughts are probably against the law. i considered joining the military,

not sure what my other options were – i’ve daydreamed of artist grants – honestly, i can’t

believe in anything more than the impulse of an unknown.

henry darger’s closet, stacked with an illustrated manifesto of his tortured mind; fiona

apple locked inside a hotel room, penning her Criminal masterpiece, Poe coughing up

blood on his manuscript. Andre screaming, “all of my heroes did dope” … i’ve pored

over the words of jimi hendrix seeking the cursive lines between genius and obsession

and all i can figure, from Hedberg, Ledger and Lucas is it’s possible for an artist to

outlive his brilliance. then again, since the millennium it doesn’t matter – they’ll dig you

up like vinyl crates and resurrect you as a hologram if necessary. in 2017, Hip Hop

manifests as time capsule, ballot polemic, nostalgic polaroid and pop culture motif.

but the last time i met an emcee on the street, he tried to sell his CD & forgot to rhyme.

***
*a piece on moonlight & anti oppressive art

i spend my days in empty bars, where piss has overtaken ash and cigarette smoke as the dominant odor. god forbid a bar

should smell of beer. people ask what i do for a living. favors, mostly. i’ve heard speculation that somebody switched the

envelope on warren beatty, just before he handed off responsibility to faye. the oscars have been white since cinema was

filmed in greyscale.  what moonlight thru yonder ceiling breaks? twenty seventeen is the era of black love. i heard an OG

ask why an award matters- some comic called out subjectivity- chance got the grammy; i been bumping joey bad all day.

and, um, white folks have been kind of busy. this is what i hear. caucasians be doing the most- just real productive, lately.

i kind of figured on Four Years A Nap; but i guess i better get on some of this cracker energy. i best be making moves.

what do i think of cosby and nate parker & the kimmel jokes regarding diasporic nomenclature ? i’ll be 33 in two weeks:

same age as christ, when he died. i tell jokes in dead rooms: sammy davis, jimi hendrix and bob marley walk into a bar…

here’s why it matters – i want black film makers making as many films as possible. and i’m not talking about epic homages

to the historical plight of negroes. i ain’t asking for nigga tales and bio pics. gimme stories of black love, glowing like moon

light amid the alabaster day. and all that jazz. what do i think? i’ve been grinding on the fringes of show business for too

long to believe entirely in accidental PR opportunities. what do i think? james kimmel told the cast of La La Land to grab

the gold and run. we’re still living in the shadowlands of tinsel town. plucking strings and bussing tables at the cotton club.

i’ve been wandering my neighborhood on foot, peering down alleyways and into bars or galleries- encased in brick, mortar

and glass; considering new orleans, contemplating summer on stages, clubs & couches all around new york. i have nothing

better to do than support the revolutionary love of black artists. the other day, i met a man- who played with fela kuti- who

was looking for a venue, which i mentioned to my friend. i’ve read semi esoteric mormon science fiction which suggested

that the bonds of love are not just metaphorical but sub atomic. stephen hawking implied there could still be pockets in our

universe of magic from the origin of life. donald trump is president and we’re still here. i read an article comparing jokes

from this year’s oscars, as opposed to last year- without mentioning that Chris Rock hosted in 2016. people still keep

straining to stay color blind; meanwhile the streets are running red: 2017 to me has felt the fascist overtones so many spoke

on during Cheney’s second term, before he shot somebody in the face. and you know donald was jealous, cuz he brought it

up – although Donald may not be the hunting type. Trump prefers to shoot somebody in the middle of the street – preferably

in New York. Shit, he didn’t even want to leave new york to live in the most famous house in the world, possibly because

they wouldn’t let him put his name on it. Do I Believe In Accidents? how magical that La La Land’s dream sequence could

extend a little bit farther into the spotlight: how long can you tell a story before it has become the truth? often, the arithmetic

of 3/5 person hood echoes to remind us we aren’t fully people – it’s rare i hear somebody mention what the tally was for; black

mark underscoring the opinion of a landowning white man. you may have heard of him – he sits on the electoral college, on

the board of directors writing memos to lobbyists; he chooses whose name goes in the envelope at the oscars- pens across maps, gerrymanders districts and decides which healthcare we can afford. here’s where y’all have it twisted – moonlight is not important

cuz it won an oscar. moonlight was too important not to win- they won before the venue was scheduled. here’s something about

art – you can burn a book or ban a film, but we remember. half the tuxes went back the next day; meanwhile black love keeps

on raging like the great Chicago fire, like devil’s night – like the blaze of los angeles in sixtyfive and 92, like the fire of

Prometheus who must have come from africa, like all of us, like the griots tending the ancient flames across pangea. bless.

***
*an article about black love
***
*an article on Sex & Friends
*** 
*a political article tangentially about pokemon go
 
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*an essay on a friend who died
 
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*a piece about the UN & Black America

straight outta geneva

this negro dreams of the benefit of the doubt. i bet it tastes like ice cream.

a few weeks back in portland – towards the end of summer heat – i ducked into a pub.

i’d guess i had a twenty on me. far as i’m concerned, water is a human right. i’ve been

known to invoke eleanor roosevelt, debating away dehydration at a lunch counter.

i asked for a pint of ice, because i’m a prima donna. when i could breathe again,

i returned the glass and thanked the woman. she glanced nervously at the corn fed

all-american across the bar, then looked back at me, and said “don’t steal the glass“.

my standard move would be to burn this mother down. i went with ‘fuck it‘. like, i don’t

even want to be here.  i need to get my Baldwin on. James. two years ago, on greyhound,

i read an announcement from the UN. well, i mean – they don’t send me announcements.

i read an article Straight Outta Geneva.

U.N. CALLS OUT U.S. GOVERNMENT FUCK SHIT .

i want to get the fuck out of here. last week the UN came back with a remix.

UNITED STATES OWES NEGRO REPARATIONS .

i’m paraphrasing – this shit hit me like a banger – United Nations, speaking my language.

hit a nigga wit a birthright. Who Wanna Be A.A. Millionaire. 100 acres & Eeyore. this

shit has me depressed, dog. i barely give a fuck if i get shot half the time. supposedly,

this is the Obsessive element of Pure OCD. fixating on negative outcomes. that all sounds

part & parcel of hereditary depression; but it’s arguably more tactful to call out diasporic

PTSD.  either way, i want to move to Amsterdam. so here’s my theory – holla if ya hear me

– i require refugee status. but i would settle for a mandatory minimum income. days ago,

i read about the Rauschenberg Foundation. an artist grant for one hundred thousand dollars

over two years, dedicated to dismantling mass incarceration. my friend, who’s probably

exhausted from lending me cash, suggested i submit a proposal. there’s got to be somebody

better suited. unless y’all want to rebuild Garvey’s Ark. i went to an open mic wednesday at

the Revolution Cafe, in the lower bottoms of west oakland. i used to chill there all time (after

the bedbugs, before the robbery). my shit’s been falling apart for a while.

the Revolution got sold and re-envisioned – by New Panthers, recalling oakland’s militant

legacy. their open mic, dimly lit and smoke filled, was everything you could ask of a venue,

excepting an audience and six feet of mic cable. before we got to the list, somebody threw

on instrumentals and called down the soul. it’s been a while since i felt like an emcee.

i never got to flaunt my niggas in paris. touring with a crew gets expensive as fuck – plus

equipment costs. that’s half the reason i’m pretending stand up comedy is a career. littering

breadcrumbs across the superhighway, calling out from obscurity. when you cross a bridge,

do you ever hear the call to jump? i can’t stop diagnosing myself – sex addiction, autism, ADD.

Depression. germophobia. Pure O. washing my hands until they bleed.

i need anxiety medication. or a living wage. i want a ticket to geneva. when i moved to

portland, i told myself i wouldn’t leave until i’d burned every bridge. my family is obtuse

as fuck. or does every wedding become a grudge match? i’ve learned to leave a room like

punctuation; the last time i got dumped, i wound up on a bus. these lower bottom cafe

revolutionaries told me we have an obligation to stay and fight. they recited their platform,

with out space for interruption – it kind of felt like i was in a cult. but, every time i find

my way down to a rally, all anyone can talk about is the protest next week. my liberation

peers out from shadows like the viet cong. i joke about wanting to kick off the race wars,

only because it’s so clear they’re raging on. i’m hearing frantic, whispered conversations;

searching for chris dorner – listing off murdered witnesses, recounting our laments for

the dead. i’m thinking suicide by cop could be an option. wondering who left that pillow

on Scalia’s face. with Republicans predicting armageddon and Palahniuk rebooting project

mayhem – i’m bumping Bone N Biggie, “let’s ride, let’s ride, let’s ride, let’s ride – get high”.

***

ten. a.m.
3.13.17

this room is in shambles and i can never keep the lenses of my glasses from blurring
& fog. my hands feel a bit better at the moment, which could possibly be the best i get.

i’m ready for another blunt. when i woke up, there was no alcohol around; no stores
were open and i hadn’t gone to bed drunk last night. i used to enjoy rolling blunts, like
the opening notes of a Luniz track – you knew what was coming next – today i am not
what i was yesterday. people keep telling me to keep writing which – meant as an
encouragement, at the least demonstrates an unfamiliarity. my second ex wife said
the same, somewhat recently – for the same reason i have been drinking; to remain un
familiar. my drugs haven’t been working, time to change them. i decided to keep a diary.

blunt 1- it’s my birthday, i couldn’t think of anything but champagne and citrus when i
woke, mimosas are my primary hydration oftentimes. by the time i got back from the
store for a third time, without success- the blunt was already burning. matt lillard keeps
trying to act like a normal person onscreen, which always disappoints me. i miss the old
lillard, tongue wagging and eyes ablaze, inked up- raving and ranting across salt lake
city, cyberspace & the landscape of suburban horror. i’m living my dream life and i want
to die less than i used to- i have a joke about this, about quantum and the fear of mortality.

eventually, we do what works. i was reading today about how black men fail to ride for our
women- and i had to think back on all the ways i haven’t managed to look out and protect
the concerns of my community. i’ve spent the last decade looking for loopholes in capitalism
and usually it’s the folks furthest away who appreciate me the most. wonder what that means.

that first blunt took the edge off, blur of tobacco- wet eyed, unprepared. music drifts around me
as i consider the steps Linking me, like Zelda, down the path of an adventure i seem to have
chosen. years ago, i mapped out five goals and realized – years later – they had all technically
come true. recently, my goals are less defined and as nebulously qualified. the pot still works.

waxing philosophically, craving that mimosa as my only source of fruit and water. do you ever
sit for hours, wanting to move- reaching out from within your mind but unable to articulate the
wail rising unspoken through your spine? some days i clutch my phone and stare, knowing a
monosyllable i left in someone’s text box will be mistaken for indifference- other times i have to
ask myself why i can’t muster the appropriate emotional response to trauma. i’ve been talking
friends down from suicide for years- perhaps the secret is i want it just as much as them.

mimosa one – i’ve become obsessive with regard to freezers, multi layered frozen drinks for
art and sustenance. you can skip this ad in 3 seconds. here we go- if you chill a pint glass for
half an hour, your beer will be the best you can imagine. i leave mine in for weeks at a time-
rinse as needed. sometimes i leave two inches of water to freeze beneath my beer, it looks
pretty cool: i’ve watched water freeze as it runs down the side of my glass. when i go to pour
the mimosa, i lose time for a second and spill it all over the counter and down the cabinets.

i do pretty much what i want, but sometimes it’s up to gravity. after cleaning the mimosa, i end
up craving a second blunt almost immediately – maybe, just to know i can. mimosa back in the
freezer – i roll one up and watch lillard lose his mind. citrus is my motherfucker – fools don’t know
about mimosas … i know how to drink them properly. the champagne has to be practically frozen.

sometimes i end up covered in champagne froth, the timing is delicate but completely worthwhile.

perfectly chilled champagne, with a hint of pineapple and approximately one third orange juice
is freaking inarguable. i also invented a vodka cocktail and a warm drink called Sweet Mary’s
Vagina. i’ve been fairly productive, i guess.

years back, i was in san francisco at this coffee shop and i asked for pineapple juice. the barista
laughed and told me about some movie i had never seen. long story short, she hinted that i must
have fairly appetizing semen. i didn’t get it until later. supposedly, she’s dating her boss. i should
start another business.

blunt number two i tasted briefly and then snubbed it out. i’m on youtube, cursing their algorithm
out, demanding deep cuts. a glass pipe lays out on the bed, along with this freaking campfire
lighter and a white midget bic, plus the game controller, some napkins and wrapping papers. no
sheet. i haven’t had an actual lighter in about a week. one i can use with young arthritic fingers.

lit the blunt again and it’s gone, oedenkirk rhapsodically philosophizing w/ tompkins over whiskey
on his webseries. i have to leave soon for this podcast, thinking about what’s going well and what
isn’t. letting things go. at some point matthew lillard said some bullshit about how easy it is to make
time for a child, which seemed disingenuous. i’m feeling pretty good but i can tell the high is fading.

it’s 10AM.

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