Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Comic Book History- The Hypestyle Universe
I have always enjoyed reading comic books, even before I could ‘read’, as per the term. Being the youngest out of five—more specifically, having three older brothers- I got ahold of their cast-offs in various capacities- including whatever comic books they had. Combined with the various animated adventure shows on television, my taste for superhero fiction was stoked like a furnace. My earliest interests in drawing and relateds artwork tended to revolve around super-characters. In terms of collecting comic books on my own, that didn’t happen for several years. You see, for a long time I didn’t have an allowance, per se’. I received spending money on a sporadic basis, and usually outside the context of where comic books were available. Also, my mother (indeed, all the elders in my family) had grown up in poor backgrounds, and when they were kids, comic books were still 10 cents. By the time I was 10 years old, the average price had risen to roughly 60 cents- which to them, was outrageous. Usually, I had to wait until I could find one of those 3-comics-for-a-dollar (well, technically 99 cents) packages that certain stores sold from time to time. Comic book specialty stores were a relatively new phenomenon in the early 80’s, but they just didn’t exist in my town—though I remember there was a store that kept its surplus warehouse in a storefront along Broadway. The public wasn’t allowed to enter. Periodically, they would change the promotional posters in the windows that were sent to them by various comics publishers. But the main store itself was in a neighboring town, so I just didn’t have access.
It wasn’t until I hit middle-school age when my lingering comics desires would finally find fulfillment. I was in the 7th grade, when my family had to move out of the house we were renting. The house we moved to was across town from where we were. Totally different layout, landmarks, etc. One of my older brothers, who had left for college a year or two ago had recently come back to stay. He came across a pharmacy within walking distance (well, a good 25 minutes walking distance). They had a newsstand and sold an assortment of comic books. For me, it was like Mohammed finding Mecca.
By that time, the school I attended had inaugurated a hot-sandwich program, and I got maybe $1.50 a day spending money to buy something. Shortly after I discovered the pharmacy, I started saving money from that to buy comics. The average price had risen to $.75, so saving 3 quarters out of the week wasn’t too hard. I finally started carrying a wallet now—and, coincidentally, was given spending money more often now. My entertainment priorities centered around comics, video (arcade) games, and blank tape cassettes to record songs off the radio. When high school came around, and I got slightly more money to buy hot food every day- hence, more spending money to save.
Due to obvious ‘budget restrictions’, I couldn’t buy every comic that came out every month- or rather, every comic that I wanted. So, from month to month, I would prioritize: Depending on whether or not I liked the art, Spider-Man and X-Men came first. After that came the various other Marvel stalwarts at the time- Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, etc. My brother stayed with us for about another year or so. During that time, he bought comics, too. That helped out for the titles that I missed.
I had an unusual prejudice against DC comics at that time. In my elementary-school years, I appreciated any comic book I could get ahold of. But as time went on, in my adolescent mind, the DC standards just seemed to pale in comparison to my Marvel champions, so I virtually ignored everything they were putting out at the time- even though much of the DC product at the time ended up being influential- Frank Miller’s Batman: Dark Knight and Year One mini-series, the death of Robin II, and John Byrne’s Superman relaunch, among other events.
I would pick up titles as I became interested in them, and then abandon them when I lost interest- usually because of the artwork. Mom wasn’t happy with my comics collecting, but she wasn’t strident about it. I would periodically come up to Detroit on assorted school vacations and holidays; while there, I had, for the first time, occasional access to a comics store. It was during one of these vacations when I also had my first access to a comics convention—imagine- seemingly all the comics in the world at your disposal. For me, it was the equivalent to Disneyland- all my favorite characters just waiting for me.
My collection grew and grew and grew—I would occasionally come across people that claimed to have thousands—I had a few hundred by the time I graduated high school. In college, I continued my comics fervor. There was a comics store on campus, and I would visit it every week- sometimes more often. Comics were also sold in a variety of other stores as well, to my delight. By this time, I had mellowed toward buying DC titles- the Batman movie started my re-appreciation for that character, and I would occasionally buy other DC books on a case-by-case basis. During this time was also my first exposure to ‘adult’ (as in, rated R) comics. A lot of the stuff was very edgy with hyper-violent and sexual acts graphically depicted. It wasn’t for me. Besides, if the wrong person found it…
And so, my collection just continued to get larger. In the back of my mind, my fantasy was to pass them along to my children when they came ‘of age’. Imagine, comic books as family heirlooms. Well, I figure someone’s probably done it before. Anyway, as the collection grew, space in the house got less. Meanwhile, prices kept increasing, at a rate that I didn’t like. I also started to feel less satisfied in general with some of the titles I was keeping up with. The stories didn’t have the same meaning for me as they did ‘back in the days’. One evening, I think I got overcharged a few bucks, but I let it slide—it really kicked in that I was spending money on stuff that didn’t really matter any more. It was almost instinctual, going to the comics stores now. And so, I decided, that was it. No more. I stopped. I actually stopped. Since then, I have bought a few reprint magazines, and I still buy Wizard, which is a magazine covering the industry. I have now begun strategically organizing my old comics by their particular title (or main character). I am trying to sell them off as entire collections, as opposed to individual comics or in smaller increments. I really don’t have the ‘time’ to be meticulous with the arrangements, as I’m really trying to get rid of them as fast as possible.
My first collection, consisting of 90% of my Spider-Man and X-Men comics, I took to a comics dealer in an attempt to get some dough. In the end, what I ended up doing was trading them for a used (but still functional) Playstation 1 system and several games. It was my choice to do it, but I learned in the meanwhile that comics collecting for my generation ain’t like it was for the distant past. Most comics from the 80’s and 90’s tend to be in higher proliferation. Hence, the general demand is lower to find those issues, unless they are of extreme rarity. Incidentally, I only got rid of 90% of my Spidey & X-Men books because I didn’t know I had another boxful of comics containing some more issues, that I hadn’t looked at before. Ah well—more to sell later, I guess. I don’t have a car, so I can’t get out to comics stores like I would want to, to get some assessments.
Selling on the internet is a slow go—Even though I start the bidding prices low (idiotically low), the ‘bites’ tend to be few and far between. Right now, I’m just set up at Ebay—there are many more auction sites to choose from- Thus, I’ll have to just explore what’s out there and hope for the best.
The other option is to actually set up a table at a convention. It costs X amount of money to do that, plus of course, you need a car to get out there. I dunno. I might just do it if it’s not too expensive for a table. Then, I need lots of money for change, etc. Not to mention a strategy for prices—should I sell them for cover price? Or for ‘mark-up’ value? I guess maybe a combination of both.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Rap concerts in Gary were few and far between, though.. in suburban Merrillville and beyond, certain theaters like the Holiday Star would advertise mainstream pop and country acts-- Toto, Kansas, Mickey Gilley, Starship, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle.. but forget about rap, really.. and the Jacksons never, I mean NEVER, came back to Gary for any kind of homecoming concert-- the closest they came was Chicago during the Victory tour, and that sold out in like 3 hours.. but like a good soldier, I kept my Mike Jax posters on the wall... "He'll come back someday.. Just you wait and see..." whoo-boy... well-- Jermaine did once do an impromptu visit to their old family house, which caused a minor stampede, but I digress... Whenever I got to hear about some show, I either didn't have the money, didn't have a ride (mom went through about 4 hooptie cars between 6th grade and 9th.. the last of which sat rusting in the driveway until well into my senior year when she finally sold it as is to someone..), or both..

The first music concert I was, well, exposed to was in the summer of 1988, spending the summer vacation in Detroit.. Scott's church, which was United Methodist affiliated, was participating in the UMC's "Youth 88" convention summit, on the campus of Eastern Illinois university-- it was mostly us kids, with maybe 1/3rd grownups with us.. on the bus ride there, which started at midnight, one girl threw up barely an hour into the ride.. several hours later, we actually ended up bypassing the University by accident, going across the Miss. River into Iowa.. Stopped at a restaurant, it was like 7 in the morning.. Half of us bum-rushed a nearby Burger King and started ordering Whoppers and orange juice.. We finally turned around and made it back to the University.. Staying on the campus.. Crazy girls there from all over, but alas, none meant for me.. there was this fine-assed girl named Heaven (!), and she swore she'd send her photo to me when I gave her my address.. Anyway, The dorms we stayed in had this fucked up system where when you get on the elevator, you had to have a key to get to a specific floor.. each of us kids only got the key to our own floor.. we were going nuts calling each other on phones-- "Press the elevator button on your floor! I'm comin' up!"..
Oh, i did mention there was a concert here? Well, the first day consisted of different workshops of nice, but vaguely boring interaction with each other, bible study and more.. but at the end of the day, our first special guest arrived, as we had all gathered in the university's basketball stadium.. All to witness the coming of..



the show was still on the air then, and she was still a "star", more or less.. she proceeded to talk to us about her career and her faith life... and the fact that she doesn't go see R rated movies.. she even did a skit in character as Blair, and sang some maudlin Christian pop..

At least, on the second night, the special guest was Deneice Williams; she mostly did gospel selections, but she finally did "Let's Hear it For the Boy" at the end..
Hype’s History with Hip-Hop:
I was 5 years old when I first heard “Rapper’s Delight”. To me, of course, it was just another record. Growing up in Gary, Indiana, I was as far from the ghetto boroughs of New York as you could get, so there was no one hipping me to the ‘phenomenon’ of hip-hop culture. The first rap song I really got interested in was the B-side to ‘delight’, “Apache”. My cousin Scott had the 45, and we played it at 33 so we could understand the lyrics and write them down. In my youngest days, I was listening to whatever happened to be on the radio, so if it was rock, r&b, or even country, then that’s what I was tuned into. Being as I was perpetually outside of the popular kids’ clique, I always seemed to be behind in knowing whatever was the latest record on the streets. Scott always seemed to be in the know about what records were out and who the performers were. Given that rap at that time was primarily singles-driven, and rap videos were few and far between (especially since I didn’t have cable at home), I didn’t always immediately recognize folks. I remember when Run DMC’s “It’s Like That” was on the radio. Scott and I kinda laughed at the part where they said “huuh!!” (I guess even back then, the whole ‘being hard’ thing occasionally came off forced).
My favorite rap performers for several years were the Fat Boys. I guess, being a big kid, I kind of related in a big way. None of my classmates were even concerned that I listened to rap just like they did; as far as they knew, whatever I listened to had to be corny- like Barry Manilow or something (not that there’s anything really wrong with Barry. But I digress..)
Anyway, as I became more exposed to hip-hop, my consciousness of it grew. Thanks in part to skimming through magazines like Black Beat, Right On, and eventually those like Word Up, Rap Masters. I didn’t have the money to buy them most of the time, but I’d memorize as much stuff as I could.
I remember the spring of ’88, I had bought a copy of Word Up with Run DMC on the cover. It had a picture in there of Professor Griff of Public Enemy. The caption beneath said “flavor flav”, but I would eventually find out who was really who. Griff’s paramilitary outfit had fascinated me, and I found myself drawing lots of pictures of it. I still had no idea what songs this guy did, though. Early on during summer vacation, I asked Scott who Flav was. He played me “Rebel Without a Pause”. From that point, it was on for life.
Hip hop is in a different place, socially, than it was when I started high school. It was 87, and at that point, you only had a handful of acts that had just broken through to achieve mainstream prominence- Run DMC’s Raising Hell, Beastie Boys’ License to Ill, LL Cool J’s Bigger & Deffer, & the Fat Boys’ Crushin. For the most part, that was all that most of my white classmates were familiar with. Most didn’t know about any earlier records, like when a few of these artists first came out. During every school year, there were maybe two or so acts that would become known to the white kids, either from the mtv-friendly standpoint (Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince, Tone Loc, Hammer), or from a controversy-friendly angle, (P.E., NWA, 2 Live Crew). Even so, most still weren’t up on stuff that by comparison, was “in between” at that time, like Ice T, BDP, or Eric B & Rakim, who were all popular in their own right, but at the time didn’t have the pop airplay or any media firestorms to blow them up in the mainstream consciousness.
Nowadays, hip-hop, collectively, is fairly mainstream business. It’s big enough to warrant its own section at the music stores (urban and suburban)—though it would be interesting to see it combined in the general pop/rock shelves. Videos are seen regularly on all video-playing networks. Even hardcore-leaning artists have become genuine pop stars, like Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, and Snoop Dogg. Regional scenes for rap have become more prominent, especially in those areas historically devoid of one. There is often more than one rap act seen during the run of a music award show now. Rappers present awards and they host the shows as well. It’s not a rarity anymore to see a rap act on one of the late night or daytime talk shows. These are good things.
Some disappointing things have occurred as well, though. Pop-leaning rap acts occasionally bypass (or are bypassed by) Urban radio. So you have situations where you’ll hear a rap song (often, the artist is not black) on a pop station but not anywhere else. Unfortunately, most current white rap artists do not have a sizable black following. Eminem is the exception that proves the rule, because no other Caucasian rap acts are heard on Urban radio at all. Sure enough, there are plenty of hardcore-leaning and non-radio-friendly white rap acts who aren’t on radio in general. Yet the attendance at their shows (and by extension, sales) are almost exclusively white. Some operate websites, where cds, t-shirts and other merchandise can be purchased. Thus, these performers have been able to sustain careers autonomous from a relationship with black fans. Conversely, black rap acts, even ‘underground’ types, can still count on a sizable white audience at various shows, and if they desire mainstream acceptance, a relationship with white consumers is inevitable. If you look at it in a certain way, ‘white hip-hop’ becoming almost a sub-genre unto itself. Which is a not so ‘good’ thing, if only because a segment of rappers are virtually invisible to the audience that birthed the genre.
On another level, street-hustling-centered hip-hop has become the default thematic bent for most new artists. Specifically, songs that revolve around the lifestyle associated with the inner-city underworld: drug sales/use, gunfights, confronting rival hustlers, pimping/prostitution, heavy drinking, dive strip bars, and the like. By comparison, rap that does not engage in this general worldview is a relative rarity now. Further, politically-leaning rap has scarce presence on shelves, and scarcer presence on radio—Top 40 or Urban. Some current “conscious rap” practitioners are ambivalent to the term, if only to avoid being pigeonholed. Still, despite their efforts, most have yet to achieve the same audience share as most other rappers.

How can a man like me/ be walking around in a world of misery/ and if women want a man with a body, it’s not mine/ ‘cause they be walking past me like I was a stop sign… I go to the clubs, they wanna baseball-bat me/ I go to the mall, they throw their walkmans at me/…I’m so horny/ and every girl I know be like “he’s so corny”…
“You think you know me.. But you don’t.. not in the least..” ‘Be yourself and people will like you’- that is the worst lie that you can tell someone, especially a child; because humanity being the species that it is, often times, it just doesn’t work out that way. No matter how ‘yourself’ you may be, there will always be adversaries for you to contend with; perceived differences breed misunderstanding; misunderstanding breeds contempt and hatred; and hatred often leads to violence. We are all conditioned to be skeptical and wary, supposedly for our own protection- I’ve been a ‘nice guy’ for the better part of 25 years, and what has it gotten me, besides being rejected, humiliated and ignored…? I am both abhorrent of humanity and yet lonely at the same time- People look at me, they either see the silent ogre to keep your distance from; or the gentle-giant/manageable negro/helpful doormat/’all-around nice guy’, who should be above petty concerns of whether or not people, especially women, find favor with him. Ah, being a “sweet guy” does have its perks- then again, I wouldn’t know. The women who say that, “but let’s just be friends” are really just giving verbal novocaine before they start up the drill- BUZZZZZ!!! Once again, either you’re simply dealing with a case of sincere platonic appreciation, or someone who feels you aren’t what she’s looking for at all, but figures she’ll let you down easy (but don’t call back…really). Well I’m sick of always settling for friends when I want more; getting the virtual shaft, and not being able to give my ‘shaft’ to anyone. Any attempt I make at humor is met with thinly-veiled apathy, so the “guy who knows how to make me laugh” angle means nothing, really. Heck, even in most of my nighttime dreams, women will run from me, once I become ‘aware’ of them.
Except for the Freshmen, (whose elections were held in late September), class elections were held during the second semester. The titles would be in effect next school year. So I made my speech as a sophomore, running for Junior class treasurer- and I won! Incidentally, my speech was the most that many of my classmates had heard me speak at all. I felt good. But when Junior year came into effect, I started to wonder what all I exactly had to do. Purportedly, each class had a budget of money that could/would be used to help pay for things they wanted, like class trips, dances, etc. I remember Ben Rizzo, who for the 2nd year running was class prez, asked me to call up the Chicago Blackhawks to find out what their group rate for hockey tickets were. I did- but from there, your guess is as good as mine what all money ‘we’ technically had. I never got to see any books or records of any kind. We never had a class trip exclusively for us that year. Call me jaded, but I was pretty ticked that I didn’t get to do anything. Given that the elections were kind of school-sanctioned popularity contests, empty titles may have been the unspoken norm. Of course, given that I was the only person of color elected, it kind of smacked of tokenism the more I thought about it. Still, I was un-fazed enough to run for class office again, this time for president. The first time, I was very solemn in my approach- I put up a few homemade posters, and my speech was fairly serious. This time, I figured I might as well go all out, and play the game like everyone else- flashy & shallow. I put up lots of posters, involving pictures of hip-hop personalities and cartoon characters, with catchy sloganeering. My speech was geared to be uptempo, and full of bluster- “Fight the power, and vote for me!”. What with the response I got, I just knew I had a great chance of winning. This time around, though, one key rule had been changed by the administration- Students were now technically not running for one specific office- everyone now simply ran as an ‘undetermined’ candidate. The top four vote-getters would get the four ranking titles, respectively- President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer. As it so happens, pretty much all of the black kids in class were pulling for me, and quite a lot of the white kids; I had become somewhat popular in the intellectual sense. Percy and Jay were on my side; my fellow candidate Goran Melmen was also pretty popular, and more of an all-American “most likely to succeed” type. Goran and I were cordial, but didn’t know each other well. However, he was especially good friends with Ben Rizzo, who had opted not to run for Senior office. At one point during a class meeting, Ben pulled me aside and suggested I run for president “You really have a great rapport with them!” he said, ingratiatingly. Now Ben, whom I had known since Freshman year, was a well-practiced jokester/comedian, the type to lay it on thick whenever he spoke to you. Depending on how well you knew him, you either found him contemptuously amusing, or you couldn’t stand him. I remember the speeches for election all took place on a Tuesday. The elections took place on a Wednesday. Results were to be announced Friday. As it so happened, both sophomore and junior class officer announcements were made. As for us- the forthcoming seniors- results were delayed!! I was shocked- “now what?” Needless to say, ‘conspiracy!’ was the collective sentiment for my black classmates. And yet, were they really that far from the truth? I would never know for sure- several students revealed that they had seen Ben counting results by himself (without our faculty Sponsor) during their homeroom session- with ballots allegedly being stuffed in favor of Goran. As this scandalous scuttlebutt shot through our ranks, it eventually got back to Mr. Zotski, our Sponsor. At the time, I was initially unaware of the reason for delay, and asked him what was wrong. He admitted that there were “a number of rumors” floating about, and that he was going to be re-counting the results himself. But by then, the damage may have already been done. Taking student absences into account- even if Mr. Zotski made sure there was no surplus of ballots that superceded our class size, there was no way to determine who really voted for whom, since the ballots were not personalized. Personally, I would have preferred an all new ballot- But as it stood, the established votes were counted. Once again, I was a ‘sole brother’, but technically #2, not #1. I came in second place (exactly by how many was never revealed). And so, I was now class Vice-President Hypestyle. By then, my lingering resentment of the way things went at that school was really coming to a head. When senior year rolled around, I found that, my duties, once again, were in theory only. What makes things worse, is that, in my senior yearbook, published after I graduated, I am identified as class SECRETARY! Probably cheated in one instance, and retroactively demoted in another! Typical… My sports career in school was short lived. I briefly tried out for the basketball team my Freshman year, but got cut after one day. I let it discourage me, and Sophomore year didn’t even bother. But, fatefully, Percy Shapiro, who was in my homeroom, invited me to come with him to videotape the games. He and I got to travel with the team to all the away games, and got in free to all home games. He and I had a great friendship through that time we spent. As time went on it seemed to matter less that I was not on the floor, getting the glory and the girls. On the flip side, by Junior year I was antsy to at least get involved with something. I briefly mulled wrestling, but decided not to do it. Finally, I submitted my name & phone number for training camp for football. It was going to be Senior year, and I was trying out for football for the first time. People had always been remarking at my size, and how I might be good at it. I wasn’t a pro, that’s for sure. I had to get used to all the regular exercises and routines, that other guys had been doing since freshman year. I was so bad, I even got hassled by the underclassmen, most of which were on the Junior Varsity team. But eventually, I persevered, and got my uniform. I was a bencher, but the one time I got let on the field was cool. I was offensive tackle, by the way. We were playing Chesterton High. When I slammed into my opponent, I was dreading doing something stupid. But it went by pretty okay. I missed out on our sectional victory that year- a bout with asthma laid me out for a week. After that, we lost our regional game, to Hobart High. Many in the region felt we could’ve gone all the way that year. It didn’t help that we lost a few of our starting people- ‘Jerry Cruz’ had grade problems; ‘Ed Vaughn’ had a broken arm; ‘Ferris Dice’, a busted leg. I wish I would have ordered our season video that the Coach put together. And I got a (second) letter to put on my jacket. So, at least for a limited time, I was my own football hero. For the most part, I internalized feelings- the negative things said to and done to me- as I had done throughout most of my grade school years. My exasperation with it all just seethed, without exploding. At one point during sophomore year, I threw my art supply box at one (black) clown; senior year I almost got into a fight with two (white) others; both times, I felt my rage intensify to the breaking point- but I couldn’t help but think of the consequences. I was still on the school bus when I tossed my art box- part of me wanted to tear the guy apart, another part of me knew that a cramped bus wasn’t the best place to start a brawl; and if Mr. Atkinson kicked me off the route, that would have meant me having to walk to school every morning- from 47th to 59th avenue, but the block lengths were hardly consistent. If I walked non-stop, it took me about 45 minutes. Like I said earlier, Mom’s car was burnt out; and dad stopped driving altogether after his back surgery in ’85, when I was in 6th grade. Senior year, I was in a classroom when my ire was struck, I struck a few brief blows against my antagonizers, but both times, the donnybrooks were cut off prematurely. I knew that if I had fully given in to my anger, I was capable of maiming, or worse. And with college around the corner, I knew that I didn’t want an expulsion on my record. Overall: Freshman year was a nuisance, sophomore year was horrible, junior year things eased back, and senior year, finally, the drama that headed my way was minimized. So, if I had to do it all over, I probably wouldn’t go to Andrean again, if only just to have an alternative experience. Of course, hindsight being 20/20- Maybe I would have been popular. Maybe I would have made the basketball team; maybe I would have met a special girl. Maybe not. I never would have gotten to know Percy- I probably wouldn’t have even thought about being a videotaper. I’m sure I would have been keeping in touch with Jay, in letters and by phone, but I would have rarely gotten to see him again face-to-face during that time. Looking at what happened in Colorado- I hardly condone what those kids did, yet I can understand the concept of feeling alienated from almost everyone around you. The immediate future seems dismal, and, for the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do but take it. I fantasized about getting physical revenge on people many times during those years. But it never went beyond the thought level- On one hand, I didn’t even remotely have the access to the things that those kids did- through the internet and otherwise. On another level, I know that my conscience would never let me follow through with any such deeds. And just the fact that these kids were Aryan sympathizers, makes my blood boil- I definitely wouldn’t have been a trench-coater.

My High School Hell- I was in 8th grade when I chose to go to Andrean. I did it because I wanted friends; I knew that a few of my classmates at St. Mary’s Elementary would be going there. As it stood, there was a public high school closer to me- Lew Wallace- but I knew that I wouldn’t know anyone there. I had grown up downtown, and by mid-7th grade I was living in Glen Park. In both cases, I was essentially on the opposite end of town from from my elementary school- St. Mary’s was far northeast, in the Miller district. Most of my St. Mary’s classmates were going to either Wirt High or Emerson, both also in Miller. While L.W. (long-nicknamed ‘El Dubb’ by the student population) was in Glen Park, there was the vague spectre of its reputation as a roughneck haven. This is before gangster rap, by the way. Incidentally, two of my brothers and my sister went there, and my oldest brother to Andrean. Andrean is in Merrillville, a suburban town just outside of Gary. Little did I know that my four years as a ‘59er would be more (and less) than I expected. I had been going to Catholic schools all of my life, so I figured, “how could it be all that outrageously different”? Oy vey. I happened to ride a private bus service from the inner-city; the kids on my bus were all black. Not that I had an inherently easier time on the bus because of the ethnic homogeneity. As somewhat of a continuation of my years in grade school, I caught grief from the loudmouths once again; whether it was smart-aleck remarks (out loud or under their breath) or jackass antics like throwing paper wads/other small objects. I thought I could have a fresh start there; no one knew me, so I could at least get the benefit of the doubt as to be considered ‘cool’, and accepted. But as usual, I had another think coming. The ethnic makeup of the school was a total flip flop from my elementary school days; during that time, the white students (as well as others) drifted out of my class slowly every year- My eighth grade class had 16 kids total, including me. But at Andrean, I now had roughly 200 new classmates, of about 1,000 students overall. The vast majority of the student body was Caucasian, roughly 60-70%. Beneath that, maybe 10-15% Asian, 10% Latino and 10% Black. Given the comparatively expensive tuition, most students happened to be from middle class & suburban lifestyles. Base tuition was roughly $1,800 a year; needless to say, that didn’t include books- and for the fact that I tended to be late starting every year, meant that most of mine had to be bought new, rather than used. my parents made it work somehow, but it wasn’t easy. Not to say that I was a starving kid (I wasn’t); but I definitely knew of cheese blocks and food stamps. Dad had retired from the steel mill in ’85, after his back problems ended up with an emergency trip to the hospital to treat a slipped disc. After that, he stopped driving altogether. At the time, Mom was earning SS/disability from a leg injury from some time back. By the beginning of my sophomore year, her car had burnt out, and just sat dead in the driveway for a couple of years until she was able to sell it. Both before, during, and after this, I was a bus-catcher and a walker; over the years, tales of seeing me trek down Broadway became semi-legendary. Socializing outside of school was often difficult- As far as Mom was concerned, most places in the city were virtual shooting galleries; yet, even the safer teen hang-out spots in the area (malls, restaurants, etc.) became fairly inaccessible by default, rather than parental mandate. The bus system in the city was terrible- all routes cut off after 11 p.m., no routes went into the surrounding towns/suburbs, and there was no service at all on Sundays. Most of my Saturday nights were spent at home, watching TV and listening to the hip-hop radio shows. I knew that most of the incidental perks that some kids took for granted- including class photos and field trips- always had a stop sign in front for me. I remember when the school would have food drives, everybody would bring non-perishables, which would be given out to low-income families. In everyone’s homeroom, there was a box up front that the food was placed in. One year, one of the nuns pulled me aside, and brought me to where the boxes of food were being collected. They gave me about three boxes worth, and did the same thing next year. Sophomore year, class rings were being sold- at roughly $150. I brought the brochure home to Mom, and to say that she balked was an understatement; Junior and Senior year, I didn’t even bother asking- I just didn’t want to hear a lecture that I knew was sure to come. An annual fund-raiser had us selling calendars, which had pictures of us students. They went for $25 apiece; not that they were really worth that- it was one of those ‘support knowledge’ type of deals- In any case, for every calendar a student sold, they could potentially get back the same amount of money in cash. There was this bingo-style name pull with all the student names; I remember, throughout the campaign, my name turned up twice- and I had sold nada. Mom wasn’t about to shell out $25 for one calendar, let alone $100 for 4 of them, and none of my other relatives were really hip to it either. Not that I could really blame them- Nonetheless, whenever events/situations would come up that cost something, I was always self-conscious about it- Getting a part-time job would have helped- but with all of the afterschool activities I ended up participating in (science club, math club, et al), I guess it hadn’t even occurred to me. Effectively, they didn’t cost anything to join, and they helped to bring me some semblance of self-worth that was lacking. At any predominantly white-run and/or white-populated institution, there’s bound to be social tensions, certainly from the standpoint of the minority students. Generally, the pre-existing cliques were exacerbated by ethnic self-grouping; white with white, black with black, latino with latino, etc. Given that my two best friends there were white, I managed to clear through some of the typecasting that people probably did. On the flip side, I learned that not everybody there was meant to be your friend. It wasn’t so much a matter of coping with blatant bigots- there were a few fools that just seemed to give sullen stares, and never associated with minorities- at least you knew where you stood in their (twisted) mind. From my view it was worse dealing with the hypocrites. Certain guys that would be cordial with you- shake your hand, smile, talk with you during class, lunchtime, etc. But in other circumstances- you could come up on them when they’ve got their back turned to you (or otherwise not noticing you), talking to some other white guys, and hear some repulsive comments: “Dumb n****rs” this-and-that, straight up cracker-isms. And I’d be like “what the fu*k?!?” I really can’t say that I trust the so-called “white liberal” any more than the “white conservative”. It was a challenge to cope with the cultural hegemony at the school- trying to socially navigate among the ‘white privilege’ that I was thrust into. Grades were even more of an issue now- It wasn’t just 15 other kids in my class anymore, but 200+. My mother, naturally, would sweat me, constantly stressing the angle that it takes twice the effort for “us” to get noticed, in the mainstream. And after graduation, scholarships were going to be a must, not just a blessing. I guess on a basic level, I understood, but that didn’t make accepting it any easier. From my standpoint, the political worldviews I held were vastly different from not only the administration, but also many of my peers. At school, it was a very pro-Reagan/Bush, pro-military, right-wing sympathetic atmosphere. At home, let me put it like this- my mother wouldn’t have shot at President Reagan, but she wasn’t upset when John Hinckley did the deed. Maybe its was the typical “faculty is the enemy” ethic that a lot of teens have, but I tended to keep my distance from the faculty, personally and emotionally. Privately, I never really bought into many of the political comments people would express, and my mild-manneredness tended to obscure the frustrations within me. When it was announced that class elections would be held soon, I figured this is a chance to have some impact here. I wanted to be a class officer for my sophomore class. At the time, the setup was, students would run for a specific office. Every student representing each category- treasurer, secretary, vice-president, president- would make their speeches. Ballots were checked off on slips of paper, and counted under supervision of the teacher who was the class Sponsor (faculty member delegated to be the supervisor for all class-wide activities). Freshman year I wasn’t interested. I knew almost no one, except the St. Mary’s alumni I had hooked back up with; I figured I couldn’t get elected for class janitor (if they even had such a title). To get officially nominated, kids had to get all of their teachers to sign an ‘endorsement’ form. But I ended up turning in my form in a day late after the deadline, and lost out due to my own carelessness. Maybe, psychologically, I wanted myself to fail, because I was used to it, socially. But I did turn the form in on time the next year.
I guess this is part of the reason that I’m kind of hesitant to pursue relationships- none that I grew up seeing were all that positive. It’s probably not too far fetched to say that I’m somewhat bitter about my long-standing solo status. The way my peers often rejected me, combined with the twisted home situation, has led me to be apprehensive about pursuing new acquaintances, especially romantic ones. Given my inexperience at having relationships, I’m afraid that I’d just end up doing something dumb and blow it before I realize what’s going on. That’s one thing about being alone- It’s been an integral part of my existence for so long, I almost can’t relate to the ramifications of being close to someone. What’s close enough? How much is too close? In modern-day pop psychology, much ado has been made about people who are ‘clingy & needy’; I don’t want to be perceived as a social vulture. Even if I was lucky enough to meet someone special- I’m so sexually repressed, I can just see myself going overboard, trying to make up for every aborted adolescent fantasy I’ve had. Whenever I’m around attractive women, my subconscious is virtually screaming. My eyes start roving, and I have to keep from being obvious about it. Any moment of physical intimacy I may have is going to be like lighting the fuse for a bomb. Part of me is going to say “take it easy & slow, she’s not going anywhere”, but the flip side says “Nail her! Smother it! Get rowdy! This could be your only lifetime chance!” Certainly, most women appreciate a man who can be ‘aggressive’ (at the right times), but if and when ‘the dark side’ is released, would that ruin her respect for me? Would I lose respect for myself? Maybe it’s just too late for me to even bother trying.
“It’s such a beautiful night for a date rape/ A beautiful night for a kill…/ It’s such a beautiful night for a homicide…/ A beautiful night, let’s go steal…/ It’s such a beautiful night to kill crackers/… A beautiful night, all around../ It’s a beautiful night for being anti-social,/ let’s have a night on the town…” Personal Mantra (by way of Prince Paul’s Psychoanalysis).
It’s like that: Home life? Ah, okay. I survived it, but unscathed? I think not. After we moved from downtown to Glen Park, I never got to know any of the kids in the area. On my block There wasn’t a proliferation of any my age. I wasn’t riding my bike much anymore, so I didn’t get out much, in general. What made it worse was that the block became less inviting as time passed. The house immediately to the right of us was abandoned- an eyesore, to be sure. At one point, workers from the city bulldozed its front yard, but why they didn’t knock down the house was unknown. In the house immediately further down was a young white couple who moved out maybe a year after we got there. An extended black family moved in- I never really got to know them, never really had much to say to them- of course, part of that was that they turned it into a dope spot. They were unapologetically sullen; after I graduated school & left town, mom told me of a time that one of them tried to steal Dad’s bicycle, among other confrontations. There was a kid, two years behind me in school, that lived straight across the street from us. I forget his name, but his folks were nice enough- once, they drove me to school when I had missed the bus. As it so happens, though, they too, were rolling on the down-low. All types of different people would be showing up at the house, throughout the day and evening- white black, latin, rich-looking, poor-looking… I remember one time, a police car pulled up. One cop went inside, while his partner waited in the car. A little while later they left. What all it was about, I don’t know, but it probably wasn’t just to say ‘hi’. Their son ended up at Andrean, but we didn’t share any classes- the two-year difference certainly played a part in that- but I wish I had gotten to know him a little better, though; in the year after I graduated, I found out he had died- apparently one night, these white biker cats had beef from a deal gone bad, and there was a shootout of some sort on the house grounds; a homemade bomb was also thrown on the side of the house. I don’t know if it was a stray bullet or the shrapnel, but the young fellow was killed that night.
Saga of hip-hop and mass media.
To me, part of the problem is not with Puffy, Missy, Funkmaster Flex, sampling, or the Beasties’ seeming lack of props from blacks. Rather, it often the self-congratulatory nature and general cluelessness of the mainstream pop culture media. More often than not, the press will fawn over a white rap act’s success in the pop field. But given certain historical parallels, this is really nothing new.

Back in the 1950’s, black rhythm & blues artists were regularly ripped off by record labels through shady accounting, and the free reign given to White artists to do cover versions. Many of which were often lame- how in the heck did Pat Boone and Bobby Vee get over? More often than not, no royalty money was paid to the original composer. By default, the ‘real’ money black acts made was from touring, not record sales. Then, there is the mega-phenomenon of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Despite the excesses he indulged in later in life, most people generally do not dispute his stature as “the Greatest”. Even Chuck D of Public Enemy admits that his often quoted line from “Fight the Power” was not so much a dis towards Elvis, whom he considered talented, but a dis towards the bigoted culture that boosted him but downplayed the efforts of the black artists who were Elvis’ predecessors and peers…

In the early 60’s, there was a gentle wave of black pop music from the likes of the Ronettes, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, and the Motown stars. But in 1964, the U.S. was bum rushed by a quartet of mop-topped fellows from Liverpool, England. The breakthrough of the Beatles, along with the swiftly following ‘British Invastion’ (the Stones, Cream, etc.), all but overshadowed the careers of the black American acts, while changing forever the atmosphere of the infant rock world. In retrospect, many people would postulate that the Beatles ‘saved rock & roll’. But from whom?

In the 1970’s, disco took a lot of flak from the (mostly White) hard rock element. But when rock acts like the Bee Gees, Rolling Stones, & Rod Stewart appropriated the genre, they reaped the full benefits of pop success with no lasting backlash- we see them on ‘Legends’ on VH-1, right, now?

Fast forward to the early 80’s- Blondie’s “Rapture” was a big hit- some journalists would go so far to say Ms. Deborah Harry & co. ‘jumpstarted’, even created, hip hop with this record. It was a new wave song that incorporated elements of the nascent New York rap scene. Her rapping was awkward, but the song was considered hip enough to go platinum. This totally ignores the fact that the culture of DJs, MCs, breaking & graf artists had been going on for years before then. A guy like Keith Haring (RIP) got more props and money for doing graffiti inspired art than the people who started it off.

In the mid 80’s- heavy metal fans and bands (Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison) had no problems railing against all things rap., But when Run DMC and Aerosmith collaborated, it was not looked at as the band being creative unto themselves, but rather Run DMC upgrading/elevating their standards by working with the then-languishing Aerosmith- and look at them now. In my opinion, Aerosmith disrespected Run DMC by not inviting them on tour at the time.

It is disturbing, that certain white critics & fans, seem to want to draw intellectual lines in sand, trumpeting these acts as ‘theirs’. In regards to House of Pain & Beasties, when their 1992 albums came out, they indirectly rode the bandwagon of post-Nirvana ‘alternative music’. Subsequently, they are adulated as being “among rock’s finest”; they become labeled as frat-boy-rap, or alternative-rock/rap; now they are above being ‘just rappers’ (i.e. Negro imitators) anymore. The same designation is not given to black/latino rap; pop/rock magazines will regularly give accolades to white acts on the periphery of the genre like DJ Shadow, Beck, and The Chemical Bros; but not, say, Prince Paul, DJ Premier, or EPMD. Who’s to say what’s more ‘progressive’, Pete Rock, DJ Quik , Gang Starr, or House of Pain? And don’t even talk about who gets on the cover first.

Another example is the Insane Clown Posse. A duo who hail from as they tell it, a fairly integrated Detroit neighborhood. They themselves admit to pretending to be gangbangers early on but got beat up by the real gangs. To listen to their style, it’s clearly gangsta influenced (ice cube 1992). Combined with punk/metal music and horror-show imagery, it’s like pro-wresting meets the Geto Boys. Which is a ‘striking’ image, but no more shocking than digital underground’s antics. The dedicated among their fans casually refer to each other as ‘ninja’, a corny code word for you-know-what. As it so happens, their records appeal primarily to the citizens of trailer parks and suburban townhouses, rather than the inner-city dwellers that they partially swipe their image from (who’s goin’ chicken huntin? We’s goin chicken huntin!) When their major label debut was pulled in 1997, they got all types of free publicity, and became free speech rap rebels of the moment. But I wonder, how many rap albums by people of color, before and after the ‘Cop Killer’ scandal, got the same treatment, only it didn’t make Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, or MTV?

The ‘hair metal’ crowd isn’t as vocal anymore; but you still have more than enough young rock fans willing to voice their venom at hip hop (rap sucks! It’s not music! It’s all sampling/negative!) I find it amazing that so many of these kids can say that, but are clearly fascinated by 90’s rock bands, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Rage, 311, who clearly have a hip-hop influence. but same white kid fans say they hate ‘rap/hiphop’.

Recent chart favorite Eminem has been touted, not so subtly, as rap’ s ‘great White hope’, to ‘fill the void’ of a perceived dearth of White rap performers. What with the 5 major music labels being White-run and/or owned, there could certainly be more White rappers out there if it were perceived as a profitable effort (but, as it stands, they’re already making much loot off the backs of Black performers). Much ado has been made of his rhyme-battling ethic, and the years of dues-paying obscurity that he went through. Which, essentially, doesn’t make him much different from other performers who did the same; but of course, his being White (in the mostly Black/Latino social subcultures of hip hop) makes it look all the more courageous- the presumption is, as a white kid, he has/had a vast assortment of options in front of him besides trying to be a rapper. His penchant for dirty punchlines has earned him the tag of ‘witty satirist’, and in one journalist’s assessment, “(he’s a necessary) counterpoint to the progressive styles of The Roots, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu, (who themselves were) reactionary counterpoints to the ubiquitous gangster style”. His endorsement by label mentor Dr. Dre’ is considered the highest validation of his talents. In one sense, his trench-mouthed extremism could be compared to that of Kool Keith or Redman (but neither of them have been as quickly embraced by the rock intelligentsia and gotten a Rolling Stone cover shoot less than 2 months after their debut). His music does not particularly have a rock n’ roll bent, but he gets regular rotations on alternative-rock radio. Why is it that white performers doing this somehow get treated as if their creative ethic is somehow more sophisticated?

When I listen to Alternative radio, almost the only rap I hear is the Beastie Boys (or Everlast), which is a group I happen to like. But it’s as if performers like Public Enemy, De la Soul, Tribe Called Quest, even LL & Snoop, couldn’t get arrested. Supposedly, there is no color barrier. In my opinion, if the designation ‘alternative music’ supposedly embraces everything that didn’t get the wealth of radio accolades in the 80’s (like so-called ‘college rock’, i.e. punk, ska, avant-garde), then rap should be a part of that mix.

Ultimately, I don’t hate white rappers, and I don’t believe they are unqualified from making a contribution to the hip-hop atmosphere; but it irks me when I see Mark Wahlberg debut with one hit to his name (“Good Vibrations”), then get fashion model gigs & acting jobs straight out the box. At the same time, hip hop veterans like Will Smith, Queen Latifah, Ice Cube, and LL Cool J have to ‘prove’ their acting credentials whenever their projects come out, to the same mainstream critics, who don’t give a hang about rap, but apparently are willing to give ‘certain’ people the benefit of the doubt.
Saga of ‘sexual awareness’ discussion in 8th grade. Oh, yeah. There was this one particular day that apparently was designated as the ‘Sex Ed’ day by the school. Since there were only 16 of us in the whole class, Mrs. Olberg and the 4 girls went down the hallway to another room to talk; and us guys stayed in the classroom while Mrs. Mervin came in to talk to us. As one might have expected, her talk was theology-centered, based in Scripture; however, things got off track really fast, thanks to the ‘devil’s advocates’ in the class. I think we started off with Adam and Eve, but then we ended up discussing Jesus and the miracle of the fish & bread (be fruitful & multiply?). In any case, any type of real-life issues were not even touched upon. That didn’t happen until our session with Mrs. Mervin was over and Mrs. Olberg came in; she was roped into talking with us. It was a much less contentious chat; among the topics touched on were physical urges, dating issues, how far to go, etc. Even wet dreams. Ah, I remember my first—It had something to do with Sheila E (remember her, from Prince’s band?). At the end of it all, she did an anonymous survey among us, asking whether or not we were still virgins. As the results tallied, 7 of us had said ‘yes’, while 5 of us had said ‘no’. Of course, I was among the sterile seven; who was among the fertile five? Well, strictly speaking, it wasn’t revealed, but I’d bet any money that it was, well, the guys in the class who actually talked about sex with regularity. Yes, I know, outrageous for some to believe that anyone not even in high school could lose the Big V. But by now it’s happening at younger and younger ages. Even though the median age for guys is 15 and 16 ½ for girls, there are still bound to be scores of exceptions to the rule. Young girls have been found to be starting puberty at younger ages now; and it has been a quiet scientific curiosity that many pre-pubescent boys, as young as 5, are technically fertile enough to impregnate a woman.
Man, am I out of it. So many things to think about now; it’s almost mind-boggling. And since my own socialization skills were effectively stunted, I’m bound to be perceived as a strange weirdo if I was remotely lucky enough to get a ‘date’. No circle of friends at all, acquaintances are all distant- all of my hobbies are solitary by default- comic books, going to movies, computer games, internet surfing. I’m not into going overboard to get to know someone, and I’m dead-set against being ‘absorbed’ into someone else’s clique. There’s no point in being a social vulture, constantly hanging around others and their friends- they’ll get wise to you before long.. I’m into rap, but I’m not a thugged-out ghetto-club hopper; I like some rock, but I’m not a frat-boy wannabe; I like to dance, but I’m no raver; I don’t drink, or smoke, or take drugs. I do have a spiritual side, but I’m no holy roller. I feel so alone in my comic-toon-sci fi hobby; I see other brothers in these stores regularly; I’m not acquainted with any of them; often times I feel as if I’m being stared at by them, as if to say, “whoah, there’s something different about this guy”. Maybe they can tell I’m one of the ‘obsessionists’, with no life outside of the realm. Maybe it’s an aura that I can’t detect for myself. I could introduce myself, but to what avail? My depressive state would eventually show, and they’d come to just disregard me as some knucklehead. It’s like I can walk into these places that are traditional havens for us ‘geeks’, and still feel out of place.
The (depressing) Life, (unrequited) Love, and (mis) Adventures of Broke Man. I first met ***** during my stint here at 4C. She originally worked out of an agency branch office, and would come over for staff meetings. I thought she was pretty (she was), and she occasionally made valentine presents that I bought from her, through *****. Eventually, she apparently left 4C, then came back-- and she came back here at the administrative office. She started off being situated in the cubicle next to me. She’s very gregarious, and likes to talk-- a lot. Since i’m the affable listening type, I suppose she grew to feel close to me. I didn’t mind looking at her at all, especially when she would wear small clothing. she’s very religious, and generally only listens to gospel performers on the radio and CDs. She regularly listens to Christian music radio stations. Well, I needn’t go into my apprehension towards people who are ultra- spiritual-minded. It’s like an ironic curse-- people who are so “into God”, but have some obvious hang-ups (at least to me) that make my life relatively miserable in some way. What do you do when you are attracted to a woman who is married, not to mention working closely with her every day? This past year, I’ve been lending her money on a regular basis in various ways. I have bought her lunch almost literally every work day, five days out of the week, from month to month. Her tastes border on the expensive side of things, and it doesn’t help that the local establishments that I can walk to tend to be on the higher end of prices-- even though they’re “fast food”. But such is the way of downtown Detroit. I end up spending roughly $5 or better every day, just for her own food. If I buy myself something, then I can count on doubling the price, roughly. That totals roughly $100 per month, money that I could otherwise have for myself or paying other bills. Her now ex-husband lives and works in GA. I’ve met him once, at one of these Tahitian Noni meetings (more on that later), and he works for Bell South, the telephone utility. I don’t know exactly what his job title is, but apparently it is enough to support a family with, and in an office setting. Apparently-- and I didn’t realize it at first-- but there is/was some estrangement between them. A house was already purchased by her husband for well over a year now-- She left 4C in October 2000, only to come right back roughly a month or so later. As she later related to me, her fear is being ‘left’ to care for their son alone, and thus she’s trying to establish her own independent identity-- at the extreme rate of apparently refusing and/or not pursuing child/spousal support monies, neither on an informal nor formal basis. Another point of contention is ‘emergencies’. The most damning circumstances have been her car note and insurance note-- both totaling over 200 dollars each, I have ended up borrowing cash from my credit cards just to accommodate her. At first, I figured that I was just being neighborly, and she would get me my money back soon enough. But then, it kept happening. And happening again. And again. Even aside from buying her lunch, almost a week did not go by without me giving her some money for something-- even if it wasn’t for her car bills, it was something in relation to her son-- books, an educational toy, little league football registration, a cake for a school party, etc. Her son is on friendly terms with me, which I don’t mind-- but it also leads to another frustration for me-- If I were to ‘blow up’ at *****, what would that mean to her son? Strange, that I would fear the child’s reaction more so than *****’s. Perhaps because he’s had nothing to do with the predicament I’m in. Also, there were expenses regarding her gift baskets. She wanted to do it on a professional basis. She has a gift for making creative baskets, but it takes money to make them, obviously. But along the way she started asking me to go in with her to buy the supplies-- with the agreement that we split the profits. However, as would be my luck, she didn’t sell too many these past couple of times around, and I ended up just losing that money I spent--- not to mention the money I paid buying baskets as gifts for relatives. There’s another ‘season’ coming around now, and she ‘expects’ me to help her buy stuff again-- i’ve already given her $60 thus far this time. Whether that’s enough and I’ll have to pay out ‘more’ for my own baskets remains to be seen. If it’s a gas emergency, it’s 10 here, 5 there-- and if I’m with her, I can count on probably picking up a soda and/or chips. Even shortly after pay days, she’s asking for assistance-- $20 here, $30 there. She ‘discovered’ my feelings about her around the middle of the year-- Peg asked us about something or other, and me about whether I had plans for a ‘special someone’. I ended up giving ***** my ‘platonic friend’ letter and she hugged me. She wasn’t offended at all, apparently. When it comes to entertainment, she apparently enjoys going places-- but often, it ends up being on my tab. Not that I have a problem with treating someone, but it has gotten beyond being taken for granted. She’s an impulsive shopper, as i’ve come to learn, regrettably. She has such a casual way of asking for money, it is becoming increasingly frustrating to deal with her. I dread calling her out of fear that some ‘new’ idea will pop into her head that will end up costing me money. Both of my credit cards are on the verge of being maxed out, and i’m barely paying $100 per month to pay it off. I’ve got at least one old student loan that I’m stuck with paying off at $175 per month. I’ve got another one that I’ve only made a few payments on thus far. Plus, other bills come periodically, so I have to pay them, as well. Now, I’m back in school, I’m paying for tuition and books. I wanted to get a car/truck this year, but my involvement with ***** just totally threw a monkeywrench into that. I have no idea when I’ll be able to save enough money to buy something now. And then, there are ‘other guys’. She has friendships with plenty of men-- which, in and of itself, is innocent enough. Though, I think that several of them used to date her years ago-- and she speaks about them at varying lengths. Part of me doesn’t want to hear about it-- vague jealousy-- and part of me simply enjoys the fact that there is somebody else who has to foot some tabs besides me-- though I really have no idea whether or not she gets cash ‘loans’ from them or not-- certainly, she gets gifts-- which, again, is fine. Dwayne is aware of her ‘high maintenance’ status, but I have yet to tell him about the depths that I have plunged for her. I certainly don’t want to tell him just to rant-- but it’s really eating at me inside, and becoming frustrating, and depressing. In some bizarre, twisted way, I can only suppose she means well, and is a product of her socialization. Once she mentioned to me that she had a Hudson credit card when she was in high school, and ended up maxing it out. From there, to eventually living an arguably middle-class existence with her husband, with little or no money worries. But i’m getting sick of it. I alternate between wanting to yell at her to wanting to kiss her and make out with her. If I could do the latter, i’d probably be more forgiving for all of this bilking that’s going on. But of course, that’s not an option. I feel as if I have been carrying the financial burden that her husband should be taking care of-- and i’ve been going without any of the ‘husbandly’ benefits. I know that sounds bad-- I mean, I guess i’ve noticed plenty of pretty married women-- just none that i’ve had this regular contact with. She’s so petite and curvy, and I would love to just. Well, you know. She says she plans to go back to living with her husband in January. Originally, that was to be back this August, but those plans were scuttled. Currently, she has bought a bedding set through me, and is ‘looking’ for a house/apartment to move into. I guess this all fits into the “just in case” category. If and when January does come, she is allegedly going to move down there with her son. Of course, her son will have to enroll in a different school. She will allegedly continue school, and get another job. Will this happen? I sure as heck hope so. I stopped keeping general track of how much money she owed me after it swelled up beyond $1500. I don’t know, I might just tell her to ‘cut it in half’, if-- a big IF-- she actually starts paying me back consistently. And even then, she couldn’t hardly pay me back all at once-- I’d estimate it to be over 3K and counting-- so, can I look forward to getting maybe $100 a month in the mail next year? $200? I don’t know. I hope so. I really hope that she finds the happiness she wants, and deserves-- and I really hope that involves staying with her husband! Addendum: 10/24/03- Well, I sent her a letter today explaining all of my current feelings, wrapped in a bow. Who knows how she’s going to react, but I don’t care. I’m keeping my money with me from now on. She was mad, at least for a week, maybe. But now she’s back to the same attitude, only it hasn’t involved money—yet. Sigh. 3/1/04: And now more craziness. She’s still taking this correspondence course in Business, and has to complete this battery of tests with each subject book she receives. I guess she’s expected to finish them once every six weeks, roughly. Now this latest one is science. Easier than accounting. But there are still two problems from that book she didn’t finish as well. This is getting worse all the time. I can’t concentrate, I don’t feel like reading, things just start falling apart for me every time I try to get ahead.
Tonya (not her real name) ( & the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship)- I encountered this young lady in a dorm bible study my 2nd year at University of Michigan. She was pretty, and cordial, so I casually figured it might be worth giving a try. Fates above, I thought I might actually get a girlfriend out of this.. But, at one point, she casually mentioned to the group that she’d like to get married to someone who would teach Bible study classes with her. What with my love of arguably violent video games, action movies, comic books, and rap music, I quickly realized that I would probably not make her ideal partner. My relationship with the “campus crusaders” contributed to my anxiousness. Here I was, thinking that I’d be free and clear to become the semi-hedonist that I had always dreamed of (since puberty, at least) after spending all of my formative years in Catholic school; I had every intention of partying with cool people, and finally meeting someone special; I had no intentions of spending my time in prayer groups and debating scriptures; as it so happened, Freshman year, my dorm room was next to two guys who ran the hall bible study (divine providence? Or just God’s sense of humor?). Being the affable chap that I am (for better or worse), I agreed to participate. Individually, and as a group, they were all nice enough; but socially, I felt our worldviews were often different- Most of them were white, and they had apparently spent a good deal of time being either ‘born-again’ or came from neo-fundamentalist aesthetics (example: some were firm Creationists), in small towns and suburbia. Me, I came from “the hood”; knowing nothing but Catholic dogma; part of the Gen X age-group saturated with pop-culture; even more specifially, hip-hop. A conscientious Christian on the outside, angry revolutionary on the inside. These kids tended to be fairly conservative politically (i.e. pro-life, “family values”), and some were fairly critical of secular society (MTV, etc.). The ‘hardest’ rock music they were into was stuff like BRYAN ADAMS & EDDIE MONEY; whoo-boy; and of course, many were into Christian pop, like Amy Grant or Michael W. Smith. I wonder what they would have said about my collection of Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and the Beastie Boys, which I never bothered to tell them about.
On one hand, I was truly fascinated by the level of apparent fervor that these people my age presented, which I had never seen in my collective elementary years & high school. Back then, even though catechism was part of our daily curriculum, most of the attitudes outwardly expressed by my classmates was that “I’m learning this just to take the test”. plenty people were still engaged in the typical teen rituals of smoking, drinking and screwing with abandon. I considered joining the priesthood every Friday night when I didn't have any parties to go to.. On the flip side, the particular kids that I now met seemed to really walk the Christian walk that they talked; and boy, did they talk it up. Up until then, I thought I was the only cat my age lobbying for sainthood (if only by default). After being with them for a length of time, you sensed that their spiritual shtick wasn’t just a hustle, to get you to join so-and-so’s ministry or buy a book not worth the paper it’s printed on. Unlike some of the guys I grew up around, these kids never asked me for any money, never swiped anything from me, never insulted me, never declined my company, and never told me a blatant lie. As it so happens, a few of the kids in the group had been overseas on behalf of varying missionary organizations, and some others definitely wanted to go. Me, personally, I couldn’t see it- Go to Japan or Israel or Haiti to teach kids English for the rest of my life? Hell, no…. Um, unless they could hook me up through one of those “mail-order-bride” agencies (with scores of beautiful-but-blissfully-ignorant native babes to choose from. Man, I’d be getting a divorce every two weeks.) I spent my sophomore year in a solo dorm room, vaguely thinking in the back of my mind that I could finally ‘get my mack on’. Of course, it never happened. During my brief flirtation with a fraternity, I thought it might help me score; but that just washed out after the frat bros. started acting flaky. I didn’t know that they treated you like jerks for weeks on end before you get to become one of the family. I’d had my fill of people like that, even if it was just an act, in the name of ‘paying dues’.
The Bible-study kids did like clean-cut fun, though- I spent a week with a bunch of them at a camp up in the upper peninsula of Michigan. I couldn’t afford the regular fee, so I volunteered to help with the maintenance crew during the day, for 1/3 of the cost. Ethnically speaking, except for one counselor (a gentleman that happened to be from Nigeria), it was like being a brown fly in a bowl of rice. I remember also getting into a square dance (for the second time in my life). One particular evening though, was not as lighthearted- I had been invited to go square dancing (again!), but the dance was canceled (hooray!); we ended up heading back to one fellow’s house, and somehow, amidst sharing popcorn, the conversation drifted into discussing demonology and possession. Apparently, everybody I was there with really believed in it, and some told of their own ‘experiences’, either with themselves or with other people. The weirdness factor cranked up like a Kenwood speaker. One felllow spoke on how an alleged demon ‘held’ him in his bed, for several minutes one night when he suddenly awoke from a dream. They were all rather calm and matter-of-fact about it, and were quite articulate in how to ‘bind’ (reject) demons, by reciting scriptures & so forth. I was pretty quiet throughout the discussion. Part of me was freaking out, while the other half was silently chuckling. I mean, I had come to know some ‘devilish characters’ in my time, but I never encountered anything that I would qualify as full-blown headspinning stuff. If I remember right, in modern times, the Catholic Church has officially eased back from the work of exorcism: From being rampant in the middle ages, to being a relatively hush-hush topic now. In retrospect, there was probably a lot of misuse of power going on, particularly against people with physical and/or mental illness. So we were never really taught the particulars of that discipline in our Religion History classes. Everything I knew about so-called ‘exorcism’ came from hokey TV & movies, and Dr. Strange comics. I was definitely turned off to square dancing after that.
I ended up distancing myself from the “campus crusaders”- skipping meetings and general ducking out. The last time I spent any time with them was towards the end of the second semester- a small concert given by some of the students- one group was a band that did classic rock covers (“Joy to the World”, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, “Bye-Bye Miss American Pie”) with the twist that they also discussed the Christian context and/or message within them. I’m glad they didn’t take requests- I might have suggested Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” out of sheer apathy. Then there was another, acappela group of kids. I forget the exact routine, but at one point, one of the girls attempted a brief beat-box impression; a cute display, no doubt, but I had to rein in the laughter that wanted to escape. I felt both badly and relieved that I had cut myself off from them- They were, for all intents and purposes, sincere folk- unlike some of the knuckleheads I had grown up knowing, I didn’t have to worry about them swiping my things or freeloading. They didn’t care that I wasn’t a jock. But, like many young people, I was having my own version of an identity crisis. I had become weary with having a social circle that was almost exclusively White- or at least, that which didn’t really reflect most of the issues & interests that I was into- I had spent my years in high school being ‘absorbed’ into the subculture of my white peers; other than after-school ‘hanging out’, there was no formal fellowship among the black students. That was something that was important to me that I felt I was missing out on- having only, at best, marginal friendships with all of the black kids I became acquainted with. It had built up within me for some time, but I suppose after that, I simply became disgusted with humanity, or at least the element of it that I seemed to constantly come in contact with. I became resigned to the notion that the vast majority of people I came across were put here by God to ignore me or humiliate me. I ended up getting sick and dropping out later in the second semester.. I still owed the school money, so I couldn't go back the next year-- and I haven't been back since.. and the bastards still won't release my transcripts (it's over $10,000), so I'm going to Wayne State U. starting off as a freshman instead of a junior.. which only contributes to my bitterness...
“Sharon Johns” (again, not her real name- I’m sensitive about lawsuits!)- She was my first almost-girlfriend. Her popularity extended way beyond me, and she knew it. I didn’t mind, really. I remember one morning, she ducked my hand when I tried to put my arm around her,. We both laughed; I knew there were other guys probably interested in her; she was the first girl that I felt really liked me. Of course, being as she lived in East Chicago, and me in Gary, that would’ve been awkward; especially considering that I didn’t have a car (mom’s car had been rusting in the driveway since early Sophomore year); or a part-time job. I felt stifled at the concept of asking her (or anyone) out to any dances; I could just see myself saying something like- “hey, babe, I don’t have a car, but I’ve got a skateboard, 4 wheel drive.” She was the first girl I got to talk to on the phone. She would occasionally make suggestive comments to me while talking. I remember it was around late November of senior year when she mentioned to me that she had started dating ‘Ben Tomack’. Anyway, shortly after that, around February, she mentioned that she had gotten ‘engaged’. This blew my mind, but I took it in stride, and swore to myself that I was not going to interfere. Of course, for whatever, reason, Sharon had no problem with asking my mother why I didn’t ask her to the senior prom (WHAT??!!!). Ultimately, I guess Sharon had no qualms about ‘being a player’, but I was either too strait-laced or too dumb to go ahead and ask her out anyway.
Addendum to the Hype Man’s Gallery- “The First Shall Be the Last…” My sole dating experiences to date were more or less arranged: Early on during Senior year, there was a special function that I was invited to be a part of, a ‘Beautillion’; essentially along the lines of a cotillion (society ball), but for boys. It was sponsored by a city youth advocacy program. Weekly, I and several other guys from different high schools would meet together, and practice dance steps for a stage presentation. It sounded like it was going to be pretty cool- On the day of the event, we would be wearing tuxedos, gathered with our families, and they would present us with plaques acknowledging our academic achievement. But then, about the third week of practice, we were told that we would have to have dates for the event. My eyes lit up with panic. A date?!! I’d have an easier time hitchhiking to Paris (France or Texas). I seriously considered quitting; once again, the only real prospect I had was Shannon; but of course, with her living in East Chicago, and my having to catch a cab to the practice hall downtown (no car at home, and the city bus service didn’t run at all on Sundays), it just didn’t seem feasible (not to mention that whole ‘engagement’ thing.. Sheesh!). As it so happens, the youth program sponsoring the event had a group of girls with similar functions going on; I ended up arranging a date with the daughter of one of the board members. Later, I would find out that she was Tim jasper’s’ girlfriend. Early on, she asked me if I knew Tim- I said ‘yeah’. Then she said, “I heard he was kind of nerdy”. I said, “Nah, Tim’s cool”. Not exactly the kind of thing you’d expect a girlfriend to say. Of course, at the time I still didn’t know. It wasn’t until after the Beautillion, when ‘Stacy’ (not her real name- ‘cause I forget, and it wouldn’t be appropriate anyway!) asked me to take her to her high school prom. I sure wasn’t going to mine, so I figured, why not? I agreed. Then, a week or so later, I happened to be talking with Tim and ‘joey dane’ before classes. Tim asked me if I was going to our prom. I said that I’d probably be going to Horace Mann’s prom. He asked me the name of the girl. I told him. His eyes got huge with disbelief, and ‘joey’ started laughing. Not that I was sweating her- but it did put a cloud of awkwardness over me once I found out the truth. The Beautillion was fun; although when me, ‘Stacy’, my mother, and my brother Jeff went out to eat at a Bennigan’s in Griffith, a waitress’ crash spilled a dacquiri on Stacy’s dress. Incredulously, the manager balked at the idea of paying for the dry cleaning. Forward about a month & ½ later: At Stacy’s prom, what I thought would be at least an enjoyful evening of dancing turned out to be a disco fiasco. My mother rented a car; and we went to pick up Stacy. While we were meeting with her mother, inside her house, guess who shows up at the door- Tim! But that alone really didn’t freak me out- what did that was the fact that he shows up at the door dressed in nothing but white long johns and a pair of slippers (!!!!!!?!?????). At that point, the neighborhood was kind of quiet, and it was dusk, but geez. At least you could tell that he couldn’t have been packing a weapon (I guess). Anyway, a few snapshots later (without Tim), and we were off. But then she asked if we could pick up her best friend, ‘Susie’. This was unexpected, but I really didn’t object. We picked her up and went to the hall where the dance was held. When we arrived, she and her pal burst into full hang-out mode almost immediately. It was kind of an understatement to say that I felt left out. From what I could glean from their conversation, it seems that they were both on the prom planning committee, making the arrangements, decorations, and so forth. On top of that, I guess Stacy and Tim had hit rocky shores for a moment, so I ended up being the rebound man, if only as a non-essential escort. I think I ended up talking to the other kids at our table more than with Stacy, who was frequently elsewhere with Susie. Later, after the dance was officially over, Mom picked us up, and we decided to head to Chicago to find a restaurant; when we got up there, we drove around to various locations, but neither Stacy nor Susie could really settle on a place. We ended up running into a distant cousin of mine at a Bennigan’s (not the same place), where his date and another couple from the prom were going in. The line was rather long, and Stacy opted not to wait. We drove around some more, trying to find something other than a rib joint or McDonald’s, but no such luck. Eventually, we didn’t eat at all, and just drove back to take them both home. Even after all of that, I promised Stacy that I’d call her. Of course, I never did- man, I thought I was above that ‘typical guy’ stuff, but I guess I still had loads to learn. I imagine that she and Tim got back together (for however long), so in a way, maybe I unknowingly brought them closer. How about that- Hypestyle, unwitting relationship counselor!

My grade school years had been one long, and often, depressing road. From the beginning, I found myself often shunned and rejected by my peers. My academic prowess was downplayed- I got called all of the typical names- nerd, bookworm, teacher’s pet- one would almost be led to think that doing well in your classes was a vice, and not a virtue. I was jeered and teased regularly. For better or worse, I was the type of child to believe what I was told- being a good citizen (& a good Christian) meant following the rules, it never occurred to me not to. I was not particularly mischievous, so I was lumped in the category of a goody two-shoes. It seems that not a day went by when I didn’t encounter some type of snide remark, juvenile prank or mean-spirited innuendo. It is an odd thing to have your sexuality questioned before you even hit puberty. Church services were held during school hours once a week. During one particular service, all students were required to hold hands with each other during a song. My pal Joe sturgis happened to be sitting next to me. The song was kind of boring, and I ended up daydreaming for a few minutes. When it was over, all the students let go of each others’ hands, except us- the both of us forgot to let go of each other’s hand for about 30 seconds to a minute- I forget exactly. When I snapped out of my semi-slumber, I let go- but not before someone noticed. ‘geoff jackson’ (not his real name), new to the class, had apparently spotted us and couldn’t resist the temptation to start a rumor. During recess, I was talking with Jan Bilboni about something or other- then he made that ‘flip-flop’ hand gesture to me. I had no idea what it meant at first. But then he told me, and another source of grief was made manifest. Where I succeeded academically, my athletic prowess left quite a bit to be desired- despite being tall, I was never the best at basketball, football or baseball- and that became another sore point. Whereas a classmate like Guyford- who got good grades and was pretty good in sports- was regarded as “brain-as-popular-jock”, I was always “brain-as-object-of-scorn”. About 50% of the time, I would get picked last in games during recess- and the other half I wasn’t picked at all. I never took to rejection very well- over the years it never got any easier to deal with- I would find myself bursting into tears. Most dismissed it as a sympathy ploy- I would contemplate for hours trying to fathom some reason why people would want nothing to do with me, when it was clear I had caused them no harm. It was as if my human dignity was tied to being able to sink a jump shot, do the latest dance, or knowing the lyrics to the latest songs. I was, effectively, on the lowest rung of the social ladder. If there was ever a moment that I felt that I belonged, someone made sure to remind me otherwise. Only in escapism did I really feel valued- whether that was doing schoolwork, listening to music, reading comics, watching sci fi TV & movies. I didn’t realize it at the time, but slowly, gradually, I began to withdraw.
My grade school years had been one long, and often, depressing road. From the beginning, I found myself often shunned and rejected by my peers. My academic prowess was downplayed- I got called all of the typical names- nerd, bookworm, teacher’s pet- one would almost be led to think that doing well in your classes was a vice, and not a virtue. I was jeered and teased regularly. For better or worse, I was the type of child to believe what I was told- being a good citizen (& a good Christian) meant following the rules, it never occurred to me not to. I was not particularly mischievous, so I was lumped in the category of a goody two-shoes. It seems that not a day went by when I didn’t encounter some type of snide remark, juvenile prank or mean-spirited innuendo. It is an odd thing to have your sexuality questioned before you even hit puberty. Church services were held during school hours once a week. During one particular service, all students were required to hold hands with each other during a song. My pal James Snemis happened to be sitting next to me. The song was kind of boring, and I ended up daydreaming for a few minutes. When it was over, all the students let go of each others’ hands, except us- the both of us forgot to let go of each other’s hand for about 30 seconds to a minute- I forget exactly. When I snapped out of my semi-slumber, I let go- but not before someone noticed. George Johnson, new to the class, had apparently spotted us and couldn’t resist the temptation to start a rumor. During recess, I was talking with Jim Bottando about something or other- then he made that ‘flip-flop’ hand gesture to me. I had no idea what it meant at first. But then he told me, and another source of grief was made manifest.
Where I succeeded academically, my athletic prowess left quite a bit to be desired- despite being tall, I was never the best at basketball, football or baseball- and that became another sore point. Whereas a classmate like Garrick- who got good grades and was pretty good in sports- was regarded as “brain-as-popular-jock”, I was always “brain-as-object-of-scorn”. About 50% of the time, I would get picked last in games during recess- and the other half I wasn’t picked at all. I never took to rejection very well- over the years it never got any easier to deal with- I would find myself bursting into tears. Most dismissed it as a sympathy ploy- I would contemplate for hours trying to fathom some reason why people would want nothing to do with me, when it was clear I had caused them no harm. It was as if my human dignity was tied to being able to sink a jump shot, do the latest dance, or knowing the lyrics to the latest songs. I was, effectively, on the lowest rung of the social ladder. If there was ever a moment that I felt that I belonged, someone made sure to remind me otherwise. Only in escapism did I really feel valued- whether that was doing schoolwork, listening to music, reading comics, watching sci fi TV & movies. I didn’t realize it at the time, but slowly, gradually, I began to withdraw.
8th Grade- The Great Surrender. What else can I say? It’s my greatest failure to date, and it still hangs over my head like a stalking vulture. As an 8th grade upper-classman, I was a somewhat big man on campus. I had reached some sense of d├ętente (cease-fire) with the rest of the class. The gay rumors had stopped (a major source of tortuous pain), and I was getting more consistent grades. My status as the poster boy for scorn and contempt seemed to have dissipated. Back when I first started the semester that year, I was a week late (as usual). To my surprise, there was a new person in the class that year. Zzzzz was the new person. She had grown up in Chicago, and now lived with her aunt. Incidentally, she was bi-racial (her mother was Philipino). At first, she was generally shy, and reserved. I never gave her an ‘official’ welcome, which I wanted to. So I kind of just relented, as she mingled among the rest of the class. Despite the temporary truce that had gone on between me and the ‘cool guys’, I still wanted someone that I felt was ‘on my side’. She was the first girl that made me say ‘Hmm..’ Could this have been a potential kind ear and soul-mate? Oh, well… As time went on for the first couple of weeks, things didn’t seem to be going well for Zzzzz. She was becoming as popular as me, which of course, is an oxymoron. I remember one particular day, when she was absent, there was an impromptu ‘round table’ discussion about her that afternoon. Mrs. Orberg served as the defacto moderator. Most of the people who spoke were saying negative things about her. I didn’t feel it was fair, but I initially said nothing. I let my own insecurities keep me from speaking up for her. What I wanted to say was that, being as Zzzzz is new here, not just in the class but a whole new town, it’s going to take some time for her to get to know people here, and at the moment, she’s just trying to fit in. The most vociferous voices against her were Chuck and Tim. For whatever reason, I guess Mrs. Orberg could tell that I was the silent minority. She asked me how I felt about her. I hesitated and gave some kind of neutral answer. But even before I could do that, Gerry Jimson blurts out, “He likes her!” making me doubly embarrassed. Shortly after that, ironically, things began to turn around for her. I guess the class just needed to vent that day before they came to their senses. One afternoon, I admitted to Zuriel that I was interested in Zzzzz. Naturally, he made that information public domain. But, in what was soon to be my surprise, the next time I encountered Zzzzz, she was uncharacteristically rude. What poured salt on the wound is that, she was really becoming popular now, at my expense! The element of the class that had been riding her was now warm and inviting. As for me? Hell, I became public outcast #1, all over again. The refined, staid object of my affection became a venomous viper. Not a day went by without her hurling some type of verbal jab my way. What was once neutral Switzerland now sided with the Cuban fascists in the rest of the class. I suppose in a bizarre way, you could say things went back to ‘normal’. Despite all of this, there was still some small spark of hope within me, that said ‘she’ll come to her senses’. But that was never to be- About a day or so before the end of the second semester, word got out about her and Tim having some type of secret rendezvous (how typical!). Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but feel for her at graduation. It was held in the school Church. Everybody sat in their own separate pew, with their family & guests. She was to sing solo Whitney Houston’s ‘The Greatest Love of All’, as Gerry played piano. She went up to the front of the Church to sing; at the time, none of her relatives had shown up yet to sit; she was crying as she sang. Her folks did eventually show up. After the commencement ceremony was finally over, she said something to me in passing, that I didn’t really hear. She was laughing & holding a bottle of what seemed to be mints. I just kind of smiled and waved as she walked away. I had been attending that damned school essentially since the beginning, chop-chop-chopping away at the Great Tree of Inequity. Hoping in vain faith that I would come to know some sense of acceptance & fellowship. And just when I think I’ve met someone who could understand, I get shot down in flames… Looking back on it, it’s even more frustrating to know that she became an adversary by default! By default! Not because I had done anything to her; not because I had said anything bad about her… But simply because I was who I was! It’s as if I have some type of invisible aura that brings out the worst in people, and subsequently directs that negative energy towards myself. This, then, is my fate? To be a perpetual pariah? Shunned, scandalized, and scorned, seemingly without logic nor provocation?
Here’s a Silly Idea… The Hype Man’s Gallery of Gals- yes, the sordid, sorry slate of strike-outs! S Mervin- I suppose I had an innocent crush on her back in 1st grade. Needless to say, had no concept of hormones yet. Lasted until she initially left St. Mary’s, after 3rd grade(?). When she came back in 5th grade, my feelings had atrophied. D Steel- Neighborhood girl; along with her mischievous next door neighbor Demond, we hung out often, up until she moved to a different part of town while we were in 6th grade. Never saw her after that, but did see her face in a high school who’s who of graduates. A Tone- for whatever reason, my mother insisted on teasing me about her, up until she left for Colorado in 5th grade. It started when I gave her a page out of my Shogun Warriors coloring book, back in Kindergarten. A Tapper- Daughter of our 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Tapper. Back in 7th grade, somebody hipped me to the notion that she was interested in me. I didn’t know her well, and I figured, heck, she lives in Miller, I’m downtown, what’s the point (as usual!). I just brushed it off. T Jif- 6th grade girl who was advanced enough in reading to participate in our 7th grade reading class. Initially, she happened to ride the city bus about halfway back home ‘together’ with me. When someone made me aware that she allegedly had a crush on me, I brushed it off verbally, believing it to be just the latest prank to humiliate me. That afternoon, T Jif had some very cross words for me at the bus stop. A few minutes later, she apologized, and we were at least cordial after that. She ended up at Andrean, pals with F Gray. So-- did she really like me, and word got back that I turned her down cold? Hell hath no fury, I guess. Still, I would never know… A Payne-classmate from 4th to 8th grade; she was slight framed, not to mention hot-tempered, so I never went for it. F Gray- Back in 7th grade, my pal 'Joe Sturgis' would repeatedly make mention of girls like Zzzz and Zzzz (I use Z’s to protect the innocent—and the litigious-minded); I really wasn’t interested in anyone in the class at the time, but I kind of felt left out of all the fun the rest of the guys seemed to be having. To be real, she was the first girl I copped a feel on (!). But I never really approached her in the capacity of trying to ‘go with her’; such was the typical terminology for dating, even if you never went anywhere. And so, despite the purloined pleasure from unsolicited sampling, I wasn’t full-blown into trying to find a girlfriend yet. At the time, I essentially made it up in my mind that I ‘liked’ her, only to keep up appearances. C Joloson- she was our most, um, well endowed classmate, she was the second girl I copped a feel on. and the third. Classmate at Andrean.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

now if i can get to work on my own damned homework.. writing and reading Calvino "If a Traveler..." , Perec, "W".... arcane stuff.. but I gotta turn it into a 10 page paper..
well i just finished with the homework that's not mine.. hopefully homegirl will leave me alone now.. she's promised me a day at a massage parlor.. eh.. i dunno.. we'll see..

listening to the LOUD ROCKS soundtrack.. Rap and Rock artists collaborating and rock acts covering rap songs.. Everlast does a great version of Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones pt. 2"..

other people: Sugar Ray/Alkaholiks; Xzibit, Big Pun, Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Morello, Static X, Dead Prez, more..

Monday, April 19, 2004

whoa.. lotta homework tonight.. some craziness for sure.. accounting.. bad thing is, it's not even my own! the insanity! she's not paying me.. am I at least getting some nooky out of this? Nnooo.....

Saturday, April 17, 2004

well, more homework woes.. hopefully it'll all be done by the end of this weekend.. and i can get this the hell out of the way..

Friday, April 09, 2004

hockey playoffs are in full swing, detroit red wings hopefully will have a good run, if not all the way.. though i have to still object to the rule at many NHL stadiums where they block you from "randomly" exiting and re-entering your seat section (making you wait until there's a time-out, penalty, face-off, or end of period), if only to theoretically avoid folks either getting beaned by a stray puck (the epitome of bad timing), or beaned by beer-soaked fans who feel that you've blocked their vision during a key play.. maybe a red wings win will help bring some detroit unity-- one of the lingering ironies about detroit hockey is that Joe Louis Arena has been firmly downtown for decades, but attendance by fans of color is threadbare...

and the same goes for the Tigers baseball team, city-of-Detroit-Taxpayer-boosted stadium notwithstanding (thank you, tiger/redwings maestro Michael Ilitch and former mayor Dennis Archer).. at least new blood Pudge Rodriguez and the boys are 4-and-0, and will hopefully avoid the shameful performance of last year's almost literally worst-of-all-time record.. it's been 20 years since the Tigers' last pennant, and the last palpable pennant run, really..

of course, the Lions are months away from, uh, whatever it is they do every year, in the 3rd year of a great-to-look-at-but-nothing-great-to-witness-inside Ford Field (except the Black College Football/Band Showcase in August, started last year).. the old Pontiac Silverdome has turned its parking lot into a drive-in movie theater, so maybe now folks can go here instead of public parks to make out..

at least when the Super Bowl comes in 2006, there will be "Super Bowl Winners in Detroit" we can hold up.. and hopefully most of the empty shells of derelict buildings (and their derelict owners) downtown will have been reinvigorated or at least razed ('tis a madhouse, gah..).. I still haven't made it to the Hard Rock Cafe inside the CompuWare HQ building, but I hear that for all the stuff in there, there's no George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic memorabilia.. blasphemy!!

..Oh, and did Berry Gordy REALLY have to sell his last stake in Motown's publishing rights to EMI? "Shop Around", indeed.. on a vaguely related note, folks should check out "Standing in the Shadow of Motown", a documentary feature highlighting the contributions of the Funk Brothers studio musicans, who played on all the key motown tracks back in the days..

sorry for the rant-- good Easter to all..