Monday, July 28, 2008

Redneck Terrorism?

Knoxville church shooting. My neighbor says this piece of dogshit didn't attack a rightwing Baptist church because those people carry assault weapons in the pews. I'm sure that view would be ironically heralded by wingnut bloggers like my fellow Princetonian Tigerhawk, or Limbaugh dittoheads. A Unitarian Church? Yep, in red states that's a nest of faggots, dykes, and race-traitor elitists called Obama voters! Church? Nah, they ain't no real Christians!Drivin' them small cars. Watching An Inconvenient Truth! Might as well been a mosque. Or a synogogue--of regular reformed 'rich" Jews, that is. We flag and cross-waving white boys LOVE Lubavitch/Orthodox/crazy West Bank settler types 'cause it means the Rapture's a-comin'. Oh yeah, and neocon Wolfowitz types. We love them too despite their Jew-sounding names...
Now get this: the guy was frustrated because he couldn't get a job. When white people murder over this, it's called mental illness. When black males do, it's called animal nihilism. But think of it as allegory for what Barack said way back when Hillary was playing her own race card. He can't fnd a instead of blaming the people who really run things, e.g. other white males more in tune with Dick Cheney and the Chinese than with Ted Kennedy or Ellen DeGeneres, he decides to attack a liberal church. Harmless, loving CHRISTIAN people. Where's wrath...the shame...on Hannity or Ingraham or Janet Parshall, blah blah? Yeah. I thought so. Barack, pick a running mate who'll shove this stuff back in their faces, because there is no reason other than psyches like this murderer's you are leading McCain by only 5 points...
Read between the lines here:
Authorities were investigating why an apparent stranger entered a church and opened fire during a children's performance of "Annie," killing two, including a man witnesses called a hero for shielding others from gunfire.
Seven others were wounded Sunday at the Unitarian church and attendees tackled the gunman.
Jim D. Adkisson, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting and was held on $1 million bail, according to city spokesman Randy Kenner, who did not know if Adkisson had an attorney.
No children were harmed at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Members said they dove under pews or ran from the building when the shooting started.
The slain man was identified as Greg McKendry, 60, a longtime church member and usher. Church member Barbara Kemper told The Associated Press that McKendry "stood in the front of the gunman and took the blast to protect the rest of us."
Linda Kraeger, 61, died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center a few hours after the shooting, Kenner said.
Five of those injured were in critical or serious condition at a hospital Sunday. Two others were treated and released.
The gunman's motive was not known. But Kemper said the gunman shouted before he opened fire.
"It was hateful words. He was saying hateful things," she said, but refused to elaborate.
The FBI was assisting in case the shooting turned out be a hate crime, Police Chief Sterling Owen said.
The church, like many other Unitarian Universalist churches, promotes progressive social work, such as desegregation and fighting for the rights of women and gays. The Knoxville congregation has provided sanctuary for political refugees, fed the homeless and founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to its Web site.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Real Good Rhymes...

Spoken word. OK, some uninitiated folk, some folk who watch parodies of the same on Mad TV or Def Comedy Jam or perhaps see it performed badly at some coffee bar will snicker. But the Graffiti Verite documentary Random Static: The Iridescent Equations of Spoken Word illustrates and expounds on the singlar thesis that this art form is indeed bon mots. Poetry. Subject to the discipline and devotion of craft. Indeed, the only additional element is the performance mode of the poet. Performance implies a primary purpose of "for the people," rather than serving a brooding ego or exorcise personal demons.
Directed by filmmaker Bob Bryan, the focus here on the craft, rather than the personal quirks of poets Natalie Patterson, Poetri, Sekou tha misfit, Hunter Lee Hughes, Vejea Jennings, Common Ground, Bridget Gray, Mollie Angelheart, J. Walker, Nick Lopez, Tim'm T. West, Rachel Kann, The Lindz and Eric Haber. Yes, their personalities and inspirations shine through, but the essence of craft is what Bryan captures, honestly and admirably. Craft in the poets sharing their philosophies on why they do what they: "People do not listen. They only hear static, the noise." Or how humor, irony become allegory for deeper problems, such as a jaded ode to the south's own caloric noose on the black man: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
If you don't know anything about spoken word but the HBO versions, or think you know something about poetry but wish to know more, check out Bob Bryan's Random Urban Static--and learn, understand what's been there all along. Devotion. With music by Nebula One, produced by Loida Bryan, Miles Bryan and Nicholas Bryan.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Real Good Music...

Some distractions from heat, gas, foreclosures and politics--My uncle Bo Hunt had a mission before he died. Marry the distinctive sound of the pan (steel drum) with classic Jazz composition. Exorcize the vision of the pan as what dumb, pink-skinned tourists hear as they jump off the plane and are greated by smiling natives adored in 1950s Harry Belafonte gear. Check out (and buy!) the new CD Cousins, by Steel+. Bathe not in the rhythms, but the melodies. Yeah, melodies. With vocals by fresh pipes like Joemca & Jessie Luck, Birdie's silky keyboards, Alston and Bertram's tonic pan notes. It's not about "de Islands dem." It's about smooth, cool enjoyment. By online or order directly; listen to some tracks here.
Bo put it so well:
I started sailing back in the 1970s, and on one of those early trips in the British Virgin Islands, we anchored off Tortola at a place called Cane Garden Bay. It had a beautiful horseshoe-shaped sandy beach ringed with palm trees. A cottage with a wrought iron gate sat smack in the middle, a tire hanging from a palm tree outside its door. That night, sitting in the cockpit of our sloop under a canopy of stars with just a whisper of wind, I heard a beautiful sound drift over the water from the shore, a crystal clear sound I knew well. I couldn't believe it. I jumped up and went to the bow: A steel band was playing at this smoking little club. And the band was good - real good. We jumped in the dinghy and went ashore to find the place packed with locals and sailors, all grooving to the pans, all feeding off the energy and joy of the drums. The band played all night and the club didn't empty until the sun came up.
That's the power of steel: It's addictive, seductive, and once it grabs you, it has you for life. It captured those sailors in its thrall just as it has always held me - just as it does to most people who have ever heard the sound. I remember years ago, when I donated a set of pans to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the musical instruments curator ran from behind his desk because he couldn't believe what he heard coming from the drums I had a musician play for him. He bent over and looked under the pans and studied all surfaces looking for amplification. Later, a woman in the department heard the steel drums and said, "It's the instrument of the future."
That was more than 20 years ago and the future is now. It really gets me that after all those years, and as beautiful as this instrument is, it's still largely neglected by mainstream musicians and the music industry itself - especially when played by Trinidadian musicians. Credit should be given where credit is due: Steel music originated in Trinidad and some of the most accomplished musicians today are from that island nation. Yet, very few of them are able to break the industry's glass ceiling.
By ignoring this instrument, everyone loses - music lovers, musicians, culture. The advertising and film industries are really missing out by not taking advantage of the sound of the steel drum. Hey guys, you're not paying attention. You're missing the steel connection.
I've been on a mission for more than 50 years to help the steel pan gain the respect and commercial success it deserves.
I like to say that the steel drum is an original form of recycling. Pans are made from 55-gallon oil drums. The bottom is sawed off and then you sink the top by hammering it, dropping it about seven to nine inches. The trick is to stretch the steel without breaking it. Fires are sometimes built under the steel to temper it.
Then each note is worked with the sledge hammer - you have to raise the note in the sunken part. And this is where the tuning begins. Bam, bam, bam! An hour and a half later, you hear harp-like sounds emerging from the note.
The creation of a steel drum requires as much artistry, skill and labor as the creation of a grand piano.
My first CD, Sweet Pans 'n Ivory, showed the versatility of steel music, how the pan beautifully translates not only calypso, but jazz and pop.
Now I'm bringing you Cousins, which builds on the relationship between steel and jazz, steel and classical music, steel and popular song, steel and calypso. They are all cousins in the great family of music.
I turned to an array of instruments for Cousins - double second steel drum, single tenor steel drum, piano and keyboards, trumpet, drums, bass, guitar, conga, timbales, bongos, and a quika to illuminate that same relationship. They, too, are cousins. And adding to the family are the musicians - Alston Jack, Wayne Birdie Kirton, Bertram Boldon, Manuel Ramos, Max Gouveia, Anthony Alexander, Gregory Rivero, Etienne Charles and Larry Marsben - and vocalists - Jess Luck, Joemca, Keith "Designer" Prescott and Alvin Roberts. All are cousins.
We open Cousins with a tribute to the steel drum called Pan Talent, a tune by Mighty Terror. Its upbeat feel easily swings into Irving Berlin's There Will Never Be Another You.
Birdie's lovely ballad, Don't Play Me No Sad Songs, was written years ago and I'm honored that he allowed me to include it on Cousins. Vocals are by two family friends - Joemca, a talented young composer and musician, and the sparkling Jess Luck.
I like the easy feel of the 1940s song A Sunday Kind of Love, and we do our own interpretation. It easily sets the tone for pretty little Blusette, the Norman Gimbel and Jean "Toots" Thielmans jazzy and breezy waltz.
Then we go in a different direction with Birdie's Ode to the King, a celebration of the late great pan master Rudolph King and his contribution to steel music.
We had some fun with the haunting Matt Dennis-Earl Brent song, Angel Eyes, and turned it into a medley with the Billy Holiday-Arthur Herzog Jr. masterpiece, God Bless the Child.
Joemca wrote I Hear a Chime at Midnight for Jess, whose crystal clear soprano is a perfect partner for steel. I think it's a beautiful segue to another tune I'm honored to include, Together, which was written and arranged by Jack.
Only Trust Your Heart is a beautiful bossa nova by Benny Carter and Sammy Cahn that I fell in love with decades ago - especially after hearing Astrud Gilberto sing it.
We end the CD with Beads of New Orleans, a calypso I wrote with Karen Miles for a special project we were asked to do for Mardi Gras. The music is by Jack and the song is arranged by Jack and Birdie. The popular calypsonian Designer does the vocals, with back up by Debra Haynes. We think we've captured the spirit of New Orleans on this tune, and I dedicate it to all those who suffered loss of family and homes in the horror of Katrina and its aftermath.
Cousins came together with a group of extraordinary artists. They are all special and talented in different ways, and without them, this CD would not have been made. Thank you Alston Jack, Wayne Birdie Kirton, Bertram Boldon, Manuel Ramos, Max Gouveia, Anthony Alexander, Gregory Rivero, Etienne Charles and Larry Marsben, and vocalists Jess Luck, Joemca, Keith "Designer" Prescott and Alvin Roberts.
My gratitude and appreciation to the many friends who dedicated time and endless support to our project, especially to Steve Lewis who had my back at every turn.
May the power of steel live with you through Cousins.
Bovain Hunt, New York City
We celebrated his life this past weekend at the Dillon Gallery on W25th street in New York. Celebrate your own with this CD...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Funnies: The Dark Knight

Just to show there's more to this film than friggin' suicidal Heath Ledger. (why didn't Brad Renfro--who was actually a better actor than Heath--get any death props at the Oscars. Drugs are drugs). Sorry for the hating. Besides Batman, Christian Bale as "American Psycho" is still my favorite of his roles. I remember him as child in "Empire of the Sun...."
Poor Aaron Eckhart. Just a throwaway role in the film. You think this is what Fox News, Limbaugh and Glenn Beck wish for Obama? hehehehe

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Creator to Watch: Shawn Martinbrough

A recent write-up in the Washington Post on artist Shawn Martinbrough was sub-titled: "Gangsters, Superheros and Other Creatures of the Underworld." That pretty much encapsulates the main subjects of this brave medium known as comics, graphic novels, serial visual storytelling. This award-winning artist has done it all, from striking out on his own with indie comic projects such as Aire Force for Bodog, to working such heavyweights as Greg Rucka, to his partnership in multimedia VergeTV with brothas like former DC editor Joe Illidge. And he's an allright dude. Cool and confident. The Clark Kent glasses complete the picture. People like Shawn I like to call creators. Not re-hashers, not mining the same old hackneyed jokes, stereotypes, soap opera plots, warmed-over bama and ghetto sensibilities. You see that in his recent book, first pubbed by indie Watson-Gupthill, now owned by Random House (under my old sponsors, the Crown imprint): How to Draw Noir Comics (Watson Gupthill 2007). Yes, before "street lit" and other short attention span softcore porn there was noir. Mix the gangster dramas of 1930s film with the paranoia and realism of Post World War two America and you had noir. From Chester Himes & Dashiell Hammett to George Pelecanos and elements of The Wire, the traditions are thusly. And not necessarily in color. Rich shades of black, white and gray. Incongruous you say: the words "rich" and "shades" and "black" and "white?" Well, that's where the artistry comes in. The dedication. Talent. Humility. Creation. Check out Shawn Martinbrough on myspace, and buy this book. Even if you can't draw, because it's more than learning a skill. It's getting enlightened. When you understand the difference, then you'll understand the word creator. How to Draw Noir Comics. RAFBN choice for week 10. Read and learn.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just in time for Election 08...

White people, white people...what to do? It's hypocrit or hipster time. Yeah, so we culudfolk 're still hashing out some silliness ourselves: Jesse and the activist gray-dicks versus Barack and young button-downs, Cosby-ism versus Dyson-sim, Condi versus Lil' Kim, Teri Woods versus real literature (calm down--I'm just teasing!), but these so- called "culture battles" are nowhere near the kind of conflict ya'll will endure when it comes man-in-the-mirror time in November. Internecine. And internal. Oh sure, Fox News, the wingnut bloggers, the howling douchebags on the radio, izarre story plants and salted headlines, blah blah are attempting to provide you cover, but hey, unless you're a foreigner reared on pop-culture visions of African Americans, an irredeemable redneck, seething guido or a zombie to your rightwing pastor, you know the peek into the abyss is coming. You pine for more movies like Hancock, or Eddie Murphy as "Donkey" to diffuse the tension, make for reassuring ebony-ivory moments. Instead comes Bama Girl, and it ain't about country-ass black people.
The film just dropped, so it missed SilverDocs here in DC/Silver Spring at the American Film Institute. Nevertheless, it's is opening in major film festivals this summer and will hit like a Rivera fastball on a batter covering home plate to closely. What happens when one African American girl aspires to take the Homecoming Queen crown of the University of Alabama. That slot has been controlled for over a century by a cadre of frats and sororities on campus known as "The Machine," which ensures the title only goes to the sweetest magnolia blossom, with her pink cheeks and supposedly Christian values (until Spring Break in Mobile or Panama City, then, Lord, here cometh the stinky pinky?) This wasn't 1968. This is now. New wounds, old wounds. Surprising attitudes, even from our folk. Hell, perhaps even the black football players. Yep--all them brothas recruited for the Crimson Tide. Read Forty Million Dollar Slaves for how those negroes roll. Pretty white girls as recruitment meat. Yum...
So check out the documentary film's site and the trailers. Nothing yet on Youtube. Will keep you posted. ROOOOOLLLLLL TIDE!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rednecks everywhere are cutting their mullets, slitting their wrists...

Oh the foul stench of betrayal. Worse than Obama as honored guest of NASCAR. Worse than realizing that yes, maybe the GOP is full of rich hypocritical bastards who use the flag and the cross to dupe us. Worse than trying having to get a license for your kid's assault rifles away. Or paying too much for that saggy ass tattoo. Or keeping Brett Favre out of a Packer uniform!
Bud...bought by the Belgians?! Zounds! What's next--they buy up IHOP and Dennys to serve Belgian Waffles? The Waffle House itself--there off the the frontage road...'round the corner from my doublewide... offering "smothered Brussels sprouts?"
Just kidding, white people. But my question is--will this turn Bud drinkers into connisseurs of my favorite beers, which happen to be Becks and Stella? "Hard working Americans" (in Hillary-Rove-speak) becoming metro, urbane? First they're selling off their Ford F-10s for effecient this? Maybe Obama has a chance. Or, sadly, will Becks and Stella Artois degenerate to the level of Bud swill? I'm sure Europeans don't want that. But hey, sign of the times. Sell off America, Americana. The St. Louis Cardinals will be called the Canals, and they'll play in
King Leopold Field (they'll be sure to flash photos of the rape of the Congo to make the black fans feel at home). We do it to ourselves and don't hold the same hotshots who tell us to be patroits accountable as they float off on their gilded parachutes.
What to do about the Clydesdales, however? The Chinese are buying them. Yummy with scallions and plum sauce...washed down by an "Antwerp Lite."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Not-so-Funnies: Sudan, again

A day late, a dollar and thousands of bodies short. The International Criminal Court will seek to charge President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan with genocide and crimes against humanity. It's the first time the court's gone after a sitting head of state. Check out the story here. Karl Rove, supposedly in retirement yet somehow still covered by executive privilege, is ringing Dubya now saying "Ya know, this might not be such a great precedent for you..."
No need to rehash what this guy did in Darfur, or the regime's rapine war in southern Sudan. It is yet another item Islam refuses to discuss. The key here is that I have no doubt our pals the Chinese will somehow rescue him or indirectly pressure the ICC. No doubt.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Let the Dog Waggin' begin...

Gas prices will mysteriously drop. Threats and great feats of patriotism to vanquish them will arise. Hey, why have an "October Surprise" when you can do it in the summer? As context, check out Dreyfus's blog piece in The Nation. I don't think we'll got to war with Iran, either. Bigger fish to fry out there, like fixing broke shit at home. Ultimately, we have to parse the rightwing paradox which refutes the GOP and Bush notion that "the terrorists [and who the hell are they?] want Obama to win. In order for Taliban, al Qaida, dickheads in Pakistan, mullahs in Iran, Hammas, Hezbollah, the Republican Party, Fox News, Glenn Beck, about 90% of the bloggers on Pajamas Media to have any purpose at all or reason to exist, there must be a counterveiling threat (real or invented, perceived or concrete). Ergo, the "terrorists" would want McCain, or another Bush/Cheney. Moderate Arabs, regular street folk in Islam love Barack precisely because he's not out here rattling sabers or dragging his knuckles or waving cross. Indeed, look at the contrapostive: China or Russia, India likes it when we are distracted and bankrupting ourselves and outsourcing. Israel--Lord, don't get started. The EU (yes, even Merkel and Sarko-tool), while bemoaning our cowboy and robber barron economy and sick disregard for the welfare of common citizens and consumers, loves to have Dubya as cartoonish foil. And what about North Korea? Hmm...
So here's my one little snipe at Dreyfus, and perhaps a novel extension of the Wag the Dog theory. Iran's doing this on purpose to provoke, all right--because they do want to influence our election. But not for the candidate Fox News would have to think...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Mummy & China: Two Great Pieces of Bad Taste that go great together

Rachel Weisz quit The Mummy 3: Return of the Dragon Emperor not just to have her kid. Star of the first two dreadful Mummy flicks, she was pissed off at words like "franchise," "tie-in to Beijing Olympics," "vast Chinese market," and "Rob Cohen." Okay the last one's a doozy. Cohen has directed such hi art as Vin Diesel's XXX and The Fast and the Furious. He is on record as believing that films should be as loud and explosive as possible to appeal to the greater mass of dumbasses. And they should have commercial tie ins and franchise appeal. He's publicly excoriated Weisz and got Universal to seduce talented actress Maria Bello. Maria's got that indie cred but come on, having her play Weisz's character is like having Hill Harper and Ray Allen switch characters in He's Got Game. But Maria's gotta pay her rent, too, I guess. The Chinese government, film board and what they call private industry is actually helping promote this flick rather than banning it outright; it opens in Beijing first. Kinda smacks of the Berlin 36 Olympics pr job? The weirder part is that the film Hollywoodizes (sodomizes, whores?) themes, people and events in their history, from the Qin king's founding of the first dynasty and unification of China as an empire, to the construction of the first Great Wall, to the "terracotta army" every fool's seen in Discovery Channel and National Geographic specials, to...yeah...the Abominable Snowman. Lots of Snowmen. Of course, the latter, the yeti, is a Tibetan legend, but hey, as our President tells us, let's not allow stuff like Tibet, or the re-colonization of Africa and Darfur and gluttonous oil consumption and pollution and a continued Stalinist view of civil and political rights ruin the party. After all, without China's cheap goods and cheap borrowed money, our government and our economy would collapse. Then who'd uselessly patrol streets in Ramallah then and spend billions on contractors instead of fixing housing, health care and our own infrastructure?
The film sucks. Nuff said. I've seen press trailers. As an Xbox game or a theme park ride (hey, that's what this "product" is for) is okay. But ya know, sometimes what Kurt Russell (who was better in Big Trouble in Little China than a dozen Brendan Frasers) said about CGI in Death Proof (Grindhouse) is right. Too damn much of it. And the approach? Imagine if Tyler Perry had written the teleplay to Roots, or Jerry Bruckheimer decided to direct John Adams. Get the idea? Good, now mix in a lot of Indiana Jones rip-off and multiply the schlock and explosions by 100. Too often we allow ourselves to say things like "Hey don;t be a snob. These are summer fun movie romps. Fine--except there's the counterpoint of Spider Man I, or 2008's Iron Man, even The Hulk...and of course, The Dark Knight. Accordingly, exciting summer flicks don't have to be least common denominator floating turds enticing rednecks, suburban tools and bammas to the Multiplex. On top of that, China shows it's true colors to the world by promoting this fantasy (imagine if the UK & Ireland decided to adopt The Lord of the Rings as official history...then again the Scots did it with Braveheart and looked stupid doing it).
I won't bore you with a gloss of Jet Li's performance. If you want to see him in something awesome and historical about China, rent Hero. Brendan Fraser's been on my shit list since Dudley Doo Right.
But hey, Rob Cohen will be heralded in China the way the French still love Jerry Lewis and the Brits rightly lionize The Ramones. And isn't keeping those commie sons of bitches happy what's important? After all, we've mortgaged this country to them. What happens when they foreclose? EEEEEEW. Too much for many little brains to take. Like global warming. Easier to shut it down a la the way black folks consume street fiction, plunk down that $9.50. Moi, I'll be seeing Batman for the 7th time, and boycotting NBC's Olympics coverage (okay, I'll watch the boxing). Me, and Rachel Weisz. Alone in our good taste...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Barack Obama Campaign Song

One of my blog visitors inspired me. The Clintons had Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow." FDR had "Happy Days are Here Again." Woody Woo had "It's a Long Way to Tipperarry." Dubya had the Mr. Magoo theme. I've found the perfect Obama campaign song--one that will even woo the rednecks with stickers who have no bidness voting Republican...

Ladies and gentlemen...DEWEY COX!

Friday, July 04, 2008

RIP Jesse (Helms)

Dispatch from the cloudy muggy beaches of Delaware--
Guess the notion of Barack was too much for the pre-Whoville epiphany Grinch-sized ticker of his to take? Well, any white person who sees that as anything more than an elderly man sadly succumbing to the fate awaiting all humans is as twisted a cracker scumbag as he was. Oh, and that includes Michael Jordan. Michael you will roast in the same coals as your boy Jesse for what you did to Harvey Gantt...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Countdown to ComiCon San Diego...and the End of Days

The march to the madness that is ComiCon has begun. What will the latest Hollywood invasion bring? Will anyone care about graphic novels when 50,000 geeks are dressed up like Boba Fett, Princess Leia, Wolverine and Mr. Spock? Another 25,000 are there to see the stars and the babes on G4 brought in to entice the geeks...about 25,000 are really there to enjoy the art and nothing else.
Check out me and Gary's The Darker Mask interview on the official site Pulse page. Our panel is 7/24.
Speaking of scary creatures and apocalypse, Rush Limbaugh's new ten year contract with Clear Channel (the other Goebbels-like rightwing network) is worth almost $400 million. Proving again that as many ignorant black folks were implicated in "Hard Times at Douglass High," multiply that by a thousand for the fraction of the total number of stupid white people in America.
Oh, and have a Happy July Fourth. Watch HBO's John Adams for the truth of that Philly scene...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

RAFBN-Week 7

USAToday recently announced that explosive growth in Hispanic communities nationwide is now attributable to births, not immigration (illegal or otherwise). Which Hispanics and why, I ask. Like us, they are not monolithic. There is poverty and wild wealth. They endure invidious discrimination yet many practice it to an artform. They want to be "Americans" yet are often more insular than many Asian and South Asian groups. They suffer starker skin color, caste, origin and self-exploitaton issues among themselves than even we blackfolk. So who are "they?" No one's ever answered that question for mainstream USA. Are they "Castillan" (e.g. closer to Spanish roots...white) Cubans who've taken over south Florida? Those folks aren't the same as the legions of Hondurans, Salvadorans, etc. in Maryland, DC or Northern Virginia. Black Dominicans aren't the same as Mexicans. Mexicans--lord...Tejanos and folks in Arizona or New Mexico who've been around so long they are basically cowboys and rednecks with deep suntans and black hair...or the thousands of folks smuggled in VW buses...or what is the defining nature of the difference between the Chicano schoolteacher or dentist in the Valley versus the vatos and chicks in East LA and the ruthless scumbag gangsters of La Eme ruling California prisons? They're the same as the few Argentinians, Chileans running around up here going to grad school? Or the Panamaians descendended from black West Indians? Or...Puerto Ricans?
Geraldo Rivera--yep Gerry Rivers--only tickles theses issues in his book HISPANIC: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S. (Celebra, 2008). Indeed, much of the monograph becomes a memoir and sprinkled with illustrations and examples other Puerto Rican sucess-over-adversity stories. Trouble is--that's about Puerto Ricans. Culturally and legally (since the Jones Act of 1917) US citizens. More Brooklynesque than Italians, more Bronx than Yankee Stadium, more New Haven than Yalie George Bush. Yes, Geraldo takes on some of his FOX NEWS cohorts--and in this era of info-tainment and target demo fakery you have to wonder how genuine this is--and names names among Mr. Charlie's anti-immigrant crowd. Yes, Geraldo decries this friction between black and brown. But there's no nuance on one level...or blunt force on another which always gets short shrift: differences among Hispanic or "Latino" groups...and thorny social issues such as crime, education, too many young girls having too many kids, nihilism, alcoholism, drugs, lack of health care/insurance. You know--the shit they tag US with hahahahaha.
That Hispanic birth rate? Again--among which groups? Run of the mill families or second generation Mexican immigrants...girls just celebrating their Quinceanera by getting pregnant? Or some of my Salvadoran or Ecuadoran neighbors pumping out kids whilst papa can't find work during the housing slump? Note the birth rate's not some cultural dialectic. They have biology on their side. No one's waiting to finish grad school or make partner or move into the good school district before they get married and have kids; you don't see too many late thirties/fortysomething Hispanic couples at the IVF place. Lots of black people, though. Interesting. Maybe you will in a few generations, as caste/class displaces ethnicity as a determinant? Both Darwin and God say we are set up to be fecund and fertile by age 17-18, and if there's food and no natural stresses, we shall multiply. Hispanics are a testament to that fact. Geraldo? He doesn't delve into the details at all. Not that I expected him to be Bill Cosby in Come on People, but once he's beyond the immigration debate he merely touchs problems with success anecdotes re: Edward James Olmos & famous people. "American Me" is not a tale of inspiration. Then there is the matter of education, drop-out rates, etc. This is even more painful, and rivals anything in HBO's "Hard Times at Douglass High." Again, Geraldo rails against Anglo cretins and oppression, but doesn't winnow into nasty stuff. Finally, there is the seperate issue of Mexico which could fill a whole volume. History? Yeah, they didn't cross the border--the border crossed them. Issues unique to California, Texas? Yeah, and again, no true co-sanguinity with Puerto Ricans. He doesn't even presage the weird doings of Hillary Clinton with respect to turning Hispanics "against" Obama this year. Ironically, his spleen's aimed that Republicans.
Geraldo missed a chance for a multi-volume Michener-esque chronicle of diverse tribes who are thought of as one "nation" onto themselves. Still, there are interesting arguments, insights, stories. Me--I decry the lack of "coverage" for Brazilians (and okay, Portuguese and Cape Verdeans in New England--ya happy?). As black folks we likely have more in common with them...even the "white" ones who cling to their German/Italian roots...than we do most Hispanics outside of Puerto Ricans, Domincans and some Cubans. Best looking women in the universe, too. And you'd have thought THAT would tickle Geraldo's fancy! Talk about BIRTH RATE. Lawd. Anyway, HISPANIC: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the US. Read and learn.