Sunday, August 23, 2015

Genius Comic Book: The Only Medium In Which Cops Have Actually Been Portrayed as the Bad Guys

I've been wanting to post on my blog about more of the issues  involving cops this past year. I, like everyone else have an opinion about what has been happening. From Michael Brown's death, Freddie Gray, the Mckinney Pool Party Cop Incident, Walter Scott, and the convictions of cops who have actually gotten taken to jail or are being convicted of murder, and the many others who continue to get off and found not guilty, or involved in a justifiable killing of another man. Or even the New York police department literally turning their back on Deblasio as he gave a speech for two officers that were themselves murdered in the line of duty. But plenty has already been said about this.

As all these incidents were occurring, I found myself watching a film, I can't remember which film it was, but my mind started to wander and wonder, about cops in films. I started to wonder why there was never a film about bad cops. Yes, there are films about bad cops, they might usually be playing the villain to the hero good cop. And at times there's films about cops who walk the middle ground between good and bad, but do the bad to arrive at a the good. A great example of this would be in a show like The Shield. Or more recently on True Detective, where you see (in both seasons), at least one of the main characters assaulting someone in order to get information that will lead them to their next clue. You see similar things in comedy films or shows about cops, the way they threaten someone in order to get laughs, when in reality these things actually do happen to some people. It's not so funny if you watch Ken Burns documentary, The Central Park Five.

All of this is to say that you rarely if ever see a film in which cops are just bad, vile villainous people who violate our civil rights, and get away with murder in barrios. Even though as we have been seeing this past year, that there are many that behave that way. To my memory I have never watched a film where cops are being actually killed as part of the plot, because they are evil & horrible. There is a sense that only cops can kill other cops in films. In Street Kings, Keanu Reeves played a cop that walked that fine line, and at the end of the film is still a hero, because he killed other dirty cops in some kinda intricate plot that I forgot about. But we never see people that are having their rights violated or being assaulted, and having family members killed ever take up arms against the cops to dole out justice. It's interesting to see that nobody in Hollywood ever picked up on this. I think there's been such a serious belief that cops can't do any wrong, and that only other cops could ever bring other cops to justice, because our justice/judicial system works (?). And if that's how Hollywood portrays cops, then you better believed that's how the rest of the nation thinks about cops also. They can't do any wrong, maybe we did something wrong to get our rights violated, or you know, killed.

So, that long drawn out diatribe, is because I noticed this about films, but I did find a medium where you see people in the ghetto taking up arms against cops, it was in a comic book. The comic book is Genius, written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, with art by Afua Richardson.

Here's a plot summary:
"What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton...what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the 'Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN?"

The only reason I read it, was due to the revolutionary undertones. I really hate being a critic. But there's that part of my brain that read this, and I was thinking okay this is good, but then there's these other things that aren't good about it. 

It is first and foremost unique in that it's what I mentioned, a neighborhood taking action for themselves against a police force that abuses it's power. No bones made about it in this book, it's a war between people in the ghetto and cops. 

I'm not sure if this was the first writing effort by the creative team, but the story overall was a bit off. I get that they were trying to make Destiny the main character, this great military mind, but even in that regard the story is a bit off. What I cared for more was this character that sees wrongs occurring in her neighborhood, she usurps power from the local gang leaders, then consolidates power, and turns the attention to a common enemy - the police. If that would have been the story, it would have worked on it's own. But I had sense that they were trying to make Destiny an exception in the neighborhood, as if she were born special, and that only she could bring her neighborhood to the point they had arrived. As if nobody else in the neighborhood could have gotten fed up and decided it was time to go to war against law enforcement. But it is possible, that because the book was written by a couple of white guys, they were only thinking in terms of, "hey you know what would be cool? How bout we make her the greatest military mind of her time, but heres the twist . . . BUT she was born in the GHETTO!." And from there the writers are imagining other stories that can come out of this, or the conclusion or climax (Spoiler Alert) and how she will be sought out by her own government or shady secret organization within her government in order to sponsor her and use her for their own interests. But at the end of the story, we never know if Destiny's actions will lead to change in the neighborhood or for reform of the police department not even a panel with some characters looking enlightened by the actions this character and others in her neighborhood partake in. Destiny does ask that the government to give the people in her neighborhood immunity if she turns herself in. There is that. But what about the police department? Will they be investigated?

On Twitter I asked the writers if there will be a followup to their mini series, and in response they said they are working on it. I'm genuinely interested to see what they do with Destiny's character. I'm actually wondering if they will return her to her neighborhood, or if it was simply a novelty that was supposed to lead to "bigger" things, like Destiny leading a battalion into middle east to secure U.S. oil interests. Maybe some of the loose threads will be tightened up in the second volume.

In the meantime here are some of the more interesting scenes in the series issues:

This is from the Genius Pilot Season issue published back in 2008 (Available on Comixology for free). Pilot Season was done by Image Comics imprint Top Cow comics to test books out in the market. A few books would be released, and fans would buy the issue(s), and then vote on which offering they believed deserved it's own ongoing series. Genius did not get picked up in 2008 for an ongoing, It would later be published as a mini series on August 6th, 2014, a few days before the death of Michael Brown (August 9, 2014). The opening page above is just incredible for me. Going into the series, I didn't know what to expect. That first page I was thinking okay, this is very different in comparison to other narratives about cops. And as is it turned out it wasn't because it was about cops, but about the community that the cops terrorized. 

Then the pages that followed, kept it coming, and we are introduced to Destiny, the military genius. Hence the title.
I found the above page interesting, due to the exchange between the character Chavonne and Destiny. Destiny is speaking formal English instead of slang. I don't know why, but this page kinda threw me for a loop. In later issues it is shown, that Destiny is well read, but I'm not sure what the writers were trying to do here. She can exist in more than one space due to her ability to keep it real with her language or be formal (which she later uses in a different space)? Theres that cynical part of me that digs a bit more, because the writers are Anglo, and I can't help but wonder. Overthinking it? 

The cops are very one dimensional. They're getting killed off without remorse, and of course it makes me think about how cops, possibly view some of us in ghettos or barrios, really most of us as minorities might be one dimensional and that might be why are quick and willing to shoot us in the back, and leave us laying out on the street for hours, without remorse. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

The end of the Pilot Season issue. Destiny making it very clear, that winning one battle against the cops was just that, they are just getting started waging war.

I really dig the image of a young Destiny with the gun, having already made the decision that she was going to wage war, and everything she did was simply training to prepare her for it. And it is apparent by the captions, that she decided to act a young age.

One of the better scenes in the book, acknowledging the reality of what going to war means. After a battle some of Destiny's men try to turn on her, but she uses her words to diffuse the situation. 

Another great image.

I mentioned earlier about Destiny shifting from one space to the next based on her language. Here's the other scene, now more formal in order to infiltrate the police department, which the writers acknowledge as social engineering. Great scenes like this where the writers seem to be thinking about some deeper issues are few and far between.

Showing the media getting involved, but also showing the other side of the story. That of the community, living in the ghetto and being terrorized by the police.

And probably my favorite page of the series. Destiny speaking to her audience and letting them know this could happen anywhere at any moment. And maybe this had more impact on me due to recent events. We have seen people getting fed up with police brutality and cops getting away with murder;  the people have begun to wage war against law enforcement, at times through peaceful protests and at times through violence.


Excuse the white background and the font on some of this, I don't know what I did, but couldn't fix it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Case of Sexual Harassment in the Depths of a University in California

I have an ex, who remains a friend that recently gave me a call. I believe it was about a week ago that she called to get me caught up on a sexual harassment case she had going on at the university she works at. You see, about a year or so ago she and I had been in touch, and she had started to get me caught up on a situation that had occurred to her. Mainly that she had co-worker who was "all hands."   That is to say he had the tendency to rub his co-workers back. To my understanding mostly the females. She had given him the nickname of one of the members of the Addams Family, because his body type was reminiscent of this character. So I'll call him Mr. Addams.

Based on what my friend told, she had to deal with sexual harassment at a couple of other jobs she had before as well. Unfortunately what she would do, was just find herself a different job and move on. She wouldn't make a "fuzz," mainly because that wasn't in her persona. Even as we spoke she was already in the process of considering looking for employment elsewhere, because the discomfort was too great for her, and she felt it best to move on, even though she enjoyed her work, which consisted of working for a program that recruited students from marginalized communities and gave them financial assistance along with moral and academic support.

Let me work out a chronology so that this doesn't get too confusing.

-It begins over a year ago when she notices that her co-worker makes a habit out of rubbing her back when he's around her at work.

-My friend talks to her supervisor about the touching. Her supervisor against university policy, and to my knowledge sexual harassment policy in most work places, tells my friend to talk to him about it. HUGE mistake on the supervisor's part, who should have reported the complaint to Human Resources.

-Nonetheless my friend talks to Mr. Addams, and tells him, that she is uncomfortable with the touching. According to her, he just stares at her and says "Okay." No other response. He does not apologize, nor gives her his reassurance that he won't put his hands on her again since it makes her uncomfortable, you know the commonsensical thing to do.

-Eventually she gets too uncomfortable with the whole thing. Her supervisor's husband who also works at the university tells her about a position that is going to open in his department, and that she should consider applying. She decides that this is best for her, since she is uncomfortable with the situation in her department. Her supervisor finds out about this and starts to distance herself from my friend.

-She tries to keep things amicable with Mr. Addams since she has to stay in the same office. The touching doesn't stop. After a trip to a coffee shop, with another female co-worker, and Mr. Addams; as they walk out the door he places his hand on her back, but according to her he removes it almost immediately. She considers it a slip-up, where he maybe forgot what she had brought to his attention.

-On a recruiting trip to southern California, they end up sitting next to each other, and after a few drinks, he slides his hand down her lap. She switches seats with someone else. One of the most uncomfortable situations she has had to experience.

-Of course it doesn't stop, she mentions a couple of other instances where he tries to play footsie with her. My friend no longer really knows what to do. Feeling frustrated and isolated she stops attending unity building activities for the team of employees in the program. Some members on her team notice the distance and think she's being stuck up. What is really going on is that, the issue with Mr. Addams has not been resolved, and instead of risking being touched by him, and having to deal with further discomfort, she retreats into herself. She feels that her co-workers don't like her very much, not knowing the actual problem.

-Things don't get any better. Her supervisor is going to take leave of the office, because she's pregnant and is due soon. In the mean time, they want to place an interim supervisor, and one of the people interviewing is Mr. Addams. It is more than likely Mr. Addams is going to get the job. My friend is extremely uncomfortable with this, because this means he'll be in a position of power, and she has been trying to avoid as much communication with him as possible. Now, she'll have to report to him.

-She decides to talk with her supervisor again, about the whole situation. A supervisor who had been sending her e-mails about other jobs that she should apply for. My friend believes her boss is being vindictive, because she for some reason felt betrayed when my friend tried to apply for a different job (that the supervisor's very own husband suggested she should apply for). During the conversation, my friend expresses her discomfort once again. The supervisor's own words: "I don't understand what the problem is. He rubs my back too, and I'm married, but it doesn't bother me." If you just said "WOW" to yourself, then you know my own reaction.

-My friend is at a loss. At this point she gets some advice from someone who notices her distress. She encourages her to go straight to Human Resources.

-My friend goes to Human Resources and the process begins. As a result Mr. Addams isn't allowed to become interim supervisor. However he is not fired. They used to have cubicles right next to each other, but what HR does, is simply place another cubicle between them. And on certain days my friend is given access to a private office. This doesn't end the alienation she's feeling, as office whispers and gossips have painted Mr. Addams as a victim, because he's such a nice guy. Not to mention the fact that some of my friend's officemates already don't care much for her, because she distanced herself from them (again not really knowing the reason why).

-My friend has to gather as much documentation that she can get her hands on. Text messages and even give access to a professional psychiatrist she has been seeing. She approaches a friend in a different department who knows her ordeal, and asks him to write up a letter of what he knows about her situation, but he decides its best not to help nor get involved, because he doesn't want to deal with any conflict this might bring his way, since he at times has to interact with her supervisor.

-It's an uphill battle for the next few months as she struggles to write down as much as she can remember, everything that led up to the events when she decided to file. She's told that she might not have much of a case since she waited close to a year to finally report the incident(s).

-My friend continues to pursue the case as best as she can. Human Resources being a neutral party can't or won't do much about it. The man who runs the program, comes to talk to her and asks if it would be enough to get her and Mr. Addams to sit in the same room together, and have Mr. Addams apologize to her. In other words, the program wanted to sweep it under the rug. She reminds the boss, that she already gave Mr. Addams an opportunity to apologize when she approached him directly initially (as her supervisor had wrongly advised), and instead of an apology, she got a blank look, and she felt awkward, as if she had done something wrong.

-Everything is in limbo for some time. An outside organization that usually deals in these types of cases isn't able to do anything, due to the time that has elapsed and because they don't see that the supervisor has been retaliating and siding with Mr. Addams as a way to make things harder for my friend.

-That's how things remained for a couple of months or so. When the semester started anew, my friend found herself depressed and spending most of her weekends just sleeping in, and coping with the mental weight of the hostile work environment she had to deal with since her supervisor's return.

When she called me last week she sounded better. She told me that Mr. Addams had found himself employment somewhere else, possibly at the recommendation or even pressure of his supervisor and program boss. He'll actually be out of the office in the next couple of weeks if he isn't gone already. However she still has to contend with her supervisor who keeps going out of her way to sabotage or remove her from projects, by handing them over to another person. She finally had a confrontation with the supervisor that involved a Human Resources rep mediating. The supervisor played the "I forgot you were on the that project"-card. And my friend asked her, "You forgot four times?" I laughed my ass off at this and applauded her. My friend was also unsure about her position, since she had been given many different roles, and asked about whether this meant a pay increase or if her position was going to be fully defined finally? According to the supervisor her position was only a "pilot" position, therefore they decided to place her back as a recruiter. In other words, since she made a fuzz, they were going to demote her, at the behest of the supervisor, who had an axe to grind with her. In the face of all of this, my friend is looking for employment elsewhere. She is still seeking some type of compensation for her medical bills, which is a process all on its own.

But what is absolutely insane to me about this, is that after my friend came out, and filed her complaint, her bosses started keeping a closer eye on her. They started keeping track of her sick days, and really scrutinizing her as an employee. They didn't keep an eye on the sexual harasser, they kept an eye on the woman who had been wronged, the victim. She became guilty of what? I'm not sure.

I told my friend some time ago, the university does not care about you, or it's students. It's a business. We had a conversation about this, she believed that her campus was different because it had a reputation as being liberal and progressive. To which I responded, bullshit. The students might be liberal and progressive, but the university doesn't care about that or the well being of students, until students get hurt. When she started going through her sexual harassment case, I reminded her of this. As a business, the university wants to protect itself, and her bosses wanted to protect the image of the university. A sexual harassment case like hers would give this prestigious campus a black eye, especially after the ineptness and vindictiveness shown by her supervisor. As I said, the supervisor should have gone directly to human resources, if she's not uncomfortable with being touched, that's all good and great, but she shouldn't have expected my friend or any other employees for that matter to be comfortable with it. We all have different levels of comfort or discomfort when it comes to personal space. Something the supervisor didn't seem to understand. Most unfortunate, is that you would have thought, that as a woman, the supervisor would have been more sympathetic to her female employee. Now I have wonder what it would have been like if Mr. Addams were touching any of the female undergrad students he worked with? Would those students feel comfortable reporting this? Or would his role as "mentor" make them second guess their feelings of discomfort? Abuses of power come in many shapes and forms, and it is unfortunate that the program, and for that matter that this prestigious University in California has allowed this to occur, and that Mr. Addams has gotten away essentially scott-free.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Passion(s) and Success

Have you ever gotten high on quality weed? When I say quality weed, I don't mean college student weed. College students think they get high on great quality weed, because that's what the movies make them believe. I mean weed that someone with a hefty income and good connects can get, I mean higher plane weed. Again, not college weed that makes you think you're on a higher plane, I mean higher plane weed that makes you feel like the image above. No? Me neither.

My friend and I had a conversation that began with discussing masculinity. Well in reality it was more about relationships and the way in which we as men, seem to have goals or missions. Women have the same, but what does it mean in terms of relationships? All this came out of a recent break up he had, and he began to question what occurred that lose sight of his mission or compromise his identity. He felt he had gone through a natural progression in his life. He graduated from college, got a job, has worked his way up in his job, and is doing well after a few years. He has accomplished some things in his field, and felt that the next step was naturally marriage. Except he had chosen a less than ideal partner and he walked me through what led to the dissolution of the relationship.

And then somehow we ended up talking about "passion," and the things that make us "passionate." Not passionate lovers, but passionate about the goals or things that drive us, the things we would rather be doing. He said he doesn't believe in passion, but instead believes in goals, missions and the fact that we try to accomplish those things, because even when you do the things that you are passionate about, there are downsides to it, even if you are successful at it. Of course I agreed about that, I've met a couple of people who are doing what they want to do, especially creatively, but there are downsides that they complain about. But when they speak of what they are doing, they are generally happy, because they enjoy doing what they do, and they are passionate about it.

One of my friends who is doing what he likes, has very much become a devoted capitalist. About 7 to 8 months ago he quit his job, to pursue his passion of being a promoter. He's doing well for himself. He mentioned being happy, because he wakes up at whatever time he wants. Of course there's a hustle and hassle that comes with him being successful at what he does. He has to book an act each week, he has to go around promoting and he has to deal with the performers who can act like douches. But he told me, "You know, I don't think money buys you happiness, but it does buy you comfort." Aside from this, he believes that if he could do it, anyone can do it. Anyone should be able to make a buck, because there were times when he was at his lowest, and because he hustled, he was able to get where he is today. It's gotten to the point, where he is offended by raza that he sees begging for money. He has no problem giving a non-Chicano a handout, but he can't do it for his raza, because with his raza, he feels where's our orgullo?

The thing that he didn't seem to think about was that his passion coincided with being able to make a living off of it. How many artists or writers are out there, who pursue their passion, but would like to make a living from it? I'm guessing plenty. There's also plenty of stories of people who sit in cubicles, and one day decide, "fuck this, I'm going to go out and start my own company!" But was this the actual passion? Is the passion embedded in the fact that the person needs to be able to survive financially from their passion in order to feel like it's worth pursuing? Can the creative be pursued without a decent financial return to pay the rent and bills? I'm asking questions that have possibly been debated endlessly, and for which, some people I'm sure have answers.

Nowadays there doesn't seem to be a difference between pursuit of passion and financial success. You hear comedians talk about it, they went through obscurity to eventually starring in films, and getting paid millions of dollars. They were passionate about their craft, but did financial success make them even more passionate about it? Or was that simply an added bonus? Or was financial success always the intended goal? Passions and money are interconnected.

I am not saying that a passion that comes with financial success is impure. I think that most of us who pursue our passions do it, because we enjoy it, and if we get paid for it, all the better. Especially because we have to eat and provide shelter for ourselves and our families. But in our society, dependent on financial earnings and recognition, is it ever possible to pursue a passion, without the need to achieve those other things to feel successful at it? Does it simply become a goal or mission and not a passion as my friend said? If a person pursues their passion and they are not financially successful at it, are they disappointed with themselves or do they simply shrug their shoulders and continue to do it, because it is what makes them happy?

It is not the aforementioned weed that had me writing this post. It was simply this conversation with a friend and then the realization (that others must already understand and know) of the interconnectedness of passions and capitalistic success. Or maybe its capitalistic comfort.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Purgatory Is No Place for Me

I'm back in Purgatory.

And in the town of Purgatory I'm sitting in coffee shop, sipping on something they dubbed El Chicano. I'm not sure who owns this place, but it's definitely not Chican@s. They also have Mexican and Mayan Mochas and something called a Carmella, which I'm guessing is them being clever with some type of drink that contains caramel, but why not make it sound like a Spanish name.

Not that I mind the El Chicano drink and whatever they dropped in it, to make it Chicano-ish. It tastes like maybe they used some Mexican chocolate de barra, but I can't be too sure. Other than that, their hours are shit, only open from 5am to 5pm. They used to be open longer years ago, but I'm guessing they no longer have enough people walking through the doors, so they felt a need to cutback on their hours. Nice thing about them is that they have a work in training program, so I feel drawn here for that reason alone--to apoyar.

Purgatory used to be nice when I was a young undergrad getting drunk para chingada, popping pills, and smoking weed. At one point I saw myself returning to Purgatory when I went off to the Midwest, But as the years passed, I didn't see myself returning here any longer. I actually did not even want to come back here. Maybe it was because I matured, I don't know. But it was one of those situations where an opportunity presented itself, and I would have been a pendejo not to take it.

I thought I would end up in a different location in California. I would have even been happy in another place in the Midwest, so I could continue seeing the changing seasons, especially the Fall. Well let me rephrase that. I would have been happy anywhere else in the Midwest so long as it didn't snow, if that were even be possible. The snow can still go fuck itself.

The nice thing about Purgatory is that it does have a lot of trees, so when the Fall season kicks in, the leaves begin to turn. Its like a little bit of the Midwest, but in the West. Minus the snow.

Why do I loathe Purgatory so much? Because it feels like I haven't moved forward.

I'm surrounded by too many drunkards that remind me of myself.

Aside from this, I had the Whatever She Was ask if she could come spend time in Purgatory to get away from her miserable life in the city. Well that and a miserable relationship that she had a hand in destroying. "Mi casa es tu casa," was essentially my response. She hadn't stopped self-medicating since the summer, by popping pills. I did offer to note that the place I'm currently living in is unfurnished and that she would find herself sleeping on the floor. Aside from that I wouldn't be much of a good host, because I spent most of my time on campus doing work. This didn't seem appealing to her, because she was in one of those states of mind, where she needed to cry and bare her soul; seriously in need of an ear and caring friend, or someone that she dated and possibly would have fucked if things had gone differently. But I've become selfish over the years, and fucking her although one of my lifelong goals, is no longer a priority. Now my priority as a responsible adult, is work. Well, that and I'm currently seeing someone else, and I doubt she would approve of my Whatever she Was staying at my place, even if it's me trying to be a good friend. I know. I'm a horrible person.

Nonetheless, here my Whatever she Was would have been alone, which would have been counterproductive, since she was already feeling alone in the big city.The only thing keeping her company would have been the mice I hear squeaking and crawling around in one of the boiler rooms in the apartment. That alone probably would have led her to pop enough Ativan to make her comatose, and I would have probably returned to find her near death or dead on my floor. Yay me.

"Well no detective, I have no clue why she's dead on my floor. My fault you say? Oh, because I should have been here listening to her, popping Ativan, getting high & drunk, and possibly fucking her. Well detective, then you should definitely cuff me, because I am a terrible and utterly horrible person for being selfish and not doing any of those things."

I've realized that the one thing that has kept me sane while back in Purgatory, besides talking to myself in the empty apartment, is writing (again).


Friday, October 3, 2014

The State That Birthed The Foul-Mouthed Mexican

I'm back in the state that birthed this foul-mouthed Mexican. I don't really know how to feel about this. It is a bittersweet return for the moment.

It was good to drive through the roads in my hometown and see fields of strawberries and lettuce to the right and left of me. A different kind of green than the bright emerald I saw on the trees and grass in the Midwest. The California green I see now is usually speckled with flecks of red. I can't say that I'm happy to have left the Midwest. There was a serenity in the area I lived in. I would go out for walks around my complex, take in the sunny day, breathe and organize my thoughts during those walks. I also made some good friends in the Midwest. I almost feel out of place back in California, not that I feel like a Midwesterner (I think most Midwesterners would tell me to go fuck myself, because I was like an obese tick that continued increasing its volume by sucking in their clean air and water), never that. But being back on the traffic filled California freeways and highways at first added to my tension. I would think "I didn't have to deal with this shit in the Midwest! Fuck!" Then I'd take a deep breath, and I'd think to myself, "But I'm back in California. My home state. No humidity. Closer to family and friends. Yes in certain areas I'll get that intense heat, but at leasts it's dry and there is no humidity in sight. Fuck yeah!""

I've only been back a few weeks, but it hasn't taken me long to remember the things I missed out here, like Second Street Cafe and it's Mexican Mocha. Or seeing other Mexicans around me. Also the weather in my hometown is usually nice, warm with a breeze, usually in the mid 70's to low 80's. I drove through Gilroy and it's armpit stench which was in reality garlic. I drove into a mountainous region near Oakland where the middle upperclass people and students from Berkley tend to meander safely, at safe distance from Too $hort's hometown. I managed not to gag, and they managed not to stare too long at the goateed Mexican. I wanted to yell out, "I'm one of the safe ones though!" But yelling out my car window probably would have prompted someone to call the cops on me and then I'd end up on the street with my hands up, yelling, "Don't Shoot!!" Then they'd probably shoot me anyway about 6 or 7 times, maybe more, maybe less than more. Not that the cops in the Midwest don't harass you. But I've been harassed there once. Here in California it has been a couple more times. Usually by Latino cops trying to look like good tough cops in front of their Anglo companions. 

Nonetheless, there are things that I appreciated about the Midwest for all the derision I had for the College Town. I enjoyed the seasons there. Let me correct that, fuck the winter and snow in the Midwest. But the Fall, with it's yellow, red, brown and orange leaves brought me tremendous happiness and peace. It was gorgeous. If the Midwest's Fall season were a woman I'd probably pursue her doggedly until she let me sleep with her, and I'd be heartbroken once she went away.

Being back in this state I've been frequenting taco trucks, taco stands, and small Mexican restaurants that only fit about 10 people at a time, and I order, yes, you guessed it, the tacos. De asada, adobada, and carnitas are my usual preference. Of course I prefer paying only a single dollar per taco. But other times I enjoy trying the tacos sold for $1.99. But there's only one place where they warrant that price because the tortilla isn't the midget tortilla, it's the large tortilla you'll find in most Mexican families' homes. And the seasoned protein is stacked on top with a good-sized serving of salsa, cebolla, and cilantro. Not surprisingly this small restaurant is named Aztlán.

There is something be said about a good breakfast burrito, though. If you can find a place that uses homemade flour tortillas, the eggs are seasoned with just the right amount of salt and where the chorizo is nice big chunks, not crumbled.

Other than it is nice to be back in California, the most multicultural state in U.S. Where the multiculturalism is noticed and understood, but never truly really accepted. It's a myth of California.

I'm reminded that I need to shave my facial hair, so that the lady behind the cash register doesn't feel intimidated when I walk in to buy heat lamp taquitos in the morning. She probably has one finger hovering over the red button that alerts the police to come and rescue her when the Chicano element is acting a little too excitable or when they are looking a little too bald or like they have little too much goatee. Walking through a Target in the local town was no different when a young man in his early 20's with down syndrome saw me. He stared at me for some time, grinned, then threw the finger-signed "W" (made famous by the rap group Westside Connection) at me. I smiled, nodded, and said "hi."

Or my personal favorite, is always getting maddogged by other Chicano youth with facial hair who want to stare me down, because of my facial which apparently makes me look like a thug also. Whether they are gang affiliated or not, I have no clue. Maddogging just seems to have become a part of the culture, along with Latinos calling each other the "nigga." It's overwhelming how many Latinos and Latinas I hear saying this to each other. It just seems normal to them. I doubt they would say it around African-American folks. But apparently I don't know anything about Chicano or Latino culture any longer.

Also, has anybody else noticed that rap music, no longer sounds like rap music? It's like this cross between hip-hop and r&b. Very poppish. It's a lot of singing rappers.

I can't believe I'm complaining about music and the vernacular of Chicanos and Latinos. Tonight during a full moon, I'll probably morph into Bill Cosby.

Nonetheless it's good to be back in California, with all the good tacos, maddogging, the cute white girls wearing wearing short-shorts or skirts willing to have a coffee with you, because not only are they not intimidated, but they want to try getting to know a variety of different people, imagine that, chales; and the attendants who give me sideways looks, because I have a goattee and look like I might steal something.

Moments like those, remind me, I am truly back in California.

Fucken California.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Writing Under the Influence

One of my exes (or whatever) told me she writes better when she’s having alcoholic drinks, or while she’s smoking a joint.
            “Parts of my brain that I do not normally use get triggered “creativity,” is induced :)” She texted. Yes, the smiley face is hers.
            There was something about norco pills. Oh yes! She had popped a norco pill, because it was a Friday night, she had ordered a pizza, and was drinking soda, which she hadn’t drank in a looong time, according to her; and she was texting me because she was bored. And like the dumbfuck I was, I was texting back with her between 1am and 2am. Anyhow this whole thing about writing under the influence, she asked me if I’d done it. My response was, “no, if I try to write while drinking, I usually drink until I knockout. If I write while smoking, I just stop writing.” This has been my experience with writing under the influence. In my lit courses I heard about many a now posthumously famous authors who wrote under the influence. Now this girl from a past life was hoping to be among the posthumously famous authors who got high or inebriated as they wrote or before they wrote.
            I remember I had a conversation with a friend in college that went along the same lines. He told me he tried writing a couple of his essays while drinking or after toking, because he bought into the romanticism of more famous and better authors than him who wrote master-fucken-pieces under the influence. But I doubt any profe at a university would take the pinche time to actually read an undergrad student’s essay and find the master-fucken-piece within it. Skimming is the name of the game. Anyhow, said friend, said, that while drinking or smoking the tweeds, he just wants to keep getting fucked up. The same applies to me.
            Anyhow, my I-don’t- know-what (we dated a couple of times, so she wasn’t my girlfriend, so she can’t be my ex. More like a girl I dated, we never fucked, but for some odd reason we keep in touch once or twice a year, even though she’s back with her boyfriend who did about 12 years in prison. If you’re first thought is "you’re a grandiose pendejo," you are correct my friend!) Anyhow, the writing under the influence. I made some wiseass, lame remark about the norco pill she told me she had popped. I should be flogged for it. It was horrible. Anyway, her textual response: “Ooh nooo norco actually blocks neurons in my brain. Marijuana is what helps my creativity and memory.” I don’t know if she actually knows what the fuck she was talking about. But she called me a chickenshit for not writing under the influence like her. This is after I explained how I am a horrible binger and won’t get any writing done.
            So that was last night. Today I helped a friend but together a treadmill. Yes! A fucking treadmill! Then we had dinner. Followed by a couple of drinks at an Irish Pub. I had some kinda vanilla stout, followed by something called a Short’s Cinnabilly. The Vanilla Stout was waaaay better. As my friend drove me back home, I got a bright idea. “You know what, I’m going to prove to My Whatever, you can’t write successfully under the influence!” So I told my friend to pull over at the shitty Midwestern substitute for a 7/11. She asked why? I said because I want to prove to My Whatever that you can’t write under the fucking influence. I believe that by this point, the alcohol was talking.
            Indeed, I’m on my fourth Guiness draught. The bottled stuff. When I pursued this endeavor I was thinking, how hard could it be? I saw Hunter S. Thompson do it in this documentary just recently. I have to admit, like I did to My Whatever, I always had respect for writers/authors who could write under the influence, that was always one of my aspirations as a mocoso. But now I have a newfound respect for writers who can write under the influence. I think my first mistake was trying to write under the influence, even though I took my time drinking my beer, not pounding it like an undergrad student.
            Maybe if I would have smoked a joint this would have been a different experience, but I’m not an avid pot smoker, and thus do not have an avid drug dealer. The pot would probably go well with the Wiz Khalifa I’m about to listen to. Currently listienng to Lets Get Lucky, but those Daft Punk guys. Me? Not getting lucky. I just like the beat. Makes me wonder what My Whatever actually drinks when and if she writes. Probably fruity tasting red wine. Or maybe some expensive brandy. Can’t see her downing shots of tequila unless its in margaritas, which she probably wouldn’t make for herself.  Did I prove her wrong though? I think I did. I’m currently on my 5th Guinness. But I’m also chomping on tortilla chips that I’m dipping in homemade tomatillo and aguacate salsa. Good as fuck.

            I had also told my friend that this evening for me was akin to a phrase like “I don’t give a fuck.” I don’t know why I threw that in there, but I’m pretty sure it’s an allegory for something.

Editor's note: Yes I did take the the time to revise this . . . while under the influence.¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Things Pigs Say: "I'm Not a Pig, I'm Just a Douche."

About a week ago I posted the following on my Feisbuk page:
A friend of mine who happens to be a cop, saw the above image, and posted this in the comments section: "Do you know if violent crime has increased?"

I guess he somehow felt offended by the image. How dare a department require their officers to have cameras on their shirts that can record how they conduct themselves when approaching civilians? Not only that but I didn't see the point of his question. How or why would crime increase if cops restrained themselves from using excessive force? Unless he meant violent crimes committed by cops? I chalked it up to my friend simply being a cop that had seen other truisms about cops on my Feisbuk page. Truth hurts. 

Earlier on my timeline, about a few months ago, I posted a video about a guy that was gunned down after a high speed chase in LA. Once the guy got out of his car, a policeman shot him on site, and the guy wasn't even wielding a weapon. On this video my friend posted something along that lines of, "That peace officer just did a public service, the man they were chasing had ran into a family in the car he hit, and he could have killed him." I snickered at his comment, but I didn't post a response. I knew my friend well enough as an undergrad from college that I knew he liked making inflammatory statements to try to provoke an angry response, at which point he would then laugh, because he felt he had the upper hand, because he'd made the person angry. Don't get me wrong, something had come to mind about "the public service Christopher Dorner," had done during his one man war against policemen, but I refrained, knowing that such a response would give my friend what he wanted. 

I'm not sure how many times a person has to post some type of haterism in order to be considered a troll. But by his comment on the Rialto cops picture, which has his second, I felt he was a troll, and should be dealt with thusly. So again, I ignored his comment and then posted a link about some cops in King City who were busted by the FBI on corruption, for harassing local citizens by impounding their vehicles, and basically feeling that they could do this, because the citizens they fucked with didn't speak Spanish. (King City Cops) I like that Feisbuk allows you to add captions, it's just nifty that way, because I added this with the link: "Pigs to the slaughter . . ." Lo and behold! About 5 to 10 minutes later my friend sent me a direct message through Feisbuk. I had a hard time restraining my laughter. His response was: "I agree with you 100% these men in King City were in the wrong. But for the educated Latino you are you are making ignorant statements. The same ignorant type [of] statement that are made of us Latinos. You have friends and fraternity brothers in law enforcement. You classify all of us under one umbrella that is wrong. Just my thoughts bro."

I couldn't stop laughing. It was funny on many different levels, at least for me. First of all, I posted the pigs comment intentionally because I wanted to get a rise out of him. This was my way of dealing with his trollism. Second his ire was such that he felt a need to send me a direct message. Third he starts his message by stating that he agrees 100% and that the cops were wrong, but it makes me wonder if being part of the brotherhood in blue, he would actually post that publicly in the comments section on my wall. Probably not, because we all know cops cover for each other, and they wouldn't speak out that way, if they want to keep their job and safety. Fourth he tries to provoke me into an argument by calling out for considering myself an "educated Latino" and then uses the word "ignorant," because he feels he knows that I can't stand ignorant people. What better way to provoke someone who disdains ignorant people than by calling him ignorant right? Good bait. This was me -> XD 

My kindly response to him was, "If my posts offend you, you should consider unfriending me. Thanks for your thoughts and perspective." 

Welp! this did not please him, because he probably didn't get the reaction nor response he expected from me. So he wrote the following: "Your absolutely correct, I will unfriend you. Its sad that you will some day influence young people to be disrespectful towards the same people that would risk their lives to help them. Next time you need a cop don't call. Based on your statements, you don't like them, therefore you never ask for their help. If you do that would make you a hypocrite." Again, this was me upon reading his vitriol-> ¡¡XD!!

I replied by saying, "If you want to have a discussion about this we can talk on the phone or in person some day. And I can share my perspective. Not that we'll agree, but who knows we might. We both bring our obvious bias to the topic. When I say "pigs" its for cops who abuse their power. You should take the time to share what you did with me about the King City cops being in the wrong publicly. But if you don't, I understand. And no worries, when I teach I keep my personal opinions about law enforcement to myself. Feel free to continue sharing your opinions and comments. Anyhow if you do unfriend me, I wish you the best. Nice hearing from you." I've learned over the years, you can't argue with stupid, and sometimes you gotta kill stupid with kindness. Alas I don't know if my friend read my comment before he unfriended me. But he was displaying a typical marrano mentality, he was not wrong, he was right, and wanted to get the last word. 

Its funny, because early in his career, my friend did share a couple of incidents where he felt that the person who was his partner was bending the rules a little too much, and/or that he was trying to provoke a person they were in the process of arresting. I wonder if my friend has since assimilated into full-blown marrano status and now simply turns the other cheek when he sees these things. I could have gone onto my friend's page earlier and gone todo troll status on him. For example there was a pic of him having received an award for being an outstanding officer. I could have left a shitty comment on that post, something along the lines of "So how many Hispanic Male Suspects or any other minority for that matter did you shoot in the back to get that award?  But meh. I didn't feel the need to argue with him online, its pointless to try to debate with him online, besides, like I said you can't argue with a pig, they are never wrong. And aside from that as I mentioned I knew my friend well enough, and that's what he wanted. Even his last message was a final attempt to try to goad me into some type of reaction where I would tell him to go fuck himself, but again I wasn't going to give him that, because that's what he wanted.

I could have told him about the incidents involving the cops in my neighborhood, and my mother. Those marranos in my neighborhood need those cameras so that they actually respect citizen rights and don't block their badge numbers when they are asked for them, because even that is an excessive use of force. But my friend probably wouldn't see it that way. I could have pointed to what happened in Anaheim about a year or so ago. I could have even mentioned that I don't need to share my personal opinion about law enforcement with students, because I've had classes where students share their own experiences of unsavory encounters with cops. It doesn't only happen in the barrio, there are marranos in college towns and in nice upper middle class neighborhoods too. There are cops that behave like pigs anywhere you go. Pigs-o-plenty.

When I got my friend's direct message, I could have replied something along the lines of "I posted that on purpose to piss you off, and it worked." And then who knows, we could have had a good laugh about it. But seeing him reply in what seemed to be a genuine perturbed way, was just too much fun to pass up. Maybe he wouldn't have been so offended if I would have posted something along the lines of, "Thank God, the FBI brought these dangerous street terrorists to justice!" Maybe he wouldn't have been so offended if called cops, "Street Terrorists" instead of "pigs." But I think I'll save that one for another incident involving marranos being held accountable for their actions, as rare as that is.