Journalism and a momentary rant with no purpose from a disciple

A moment of magic.

That’s what I thought I’d experience. I remember, I, a child chasing the seductive ball around the endless green pitch, my first love was football, the charming European cousin to the American brute. 

And much like a bitter ending to a French new wave film we parted ways, she was far too good for me, I was not up to the heights of her needs. 

I wept like I was at a funeral, the one in the casket was my dream, and with it felt like my life had come to an end.

Today three years have passed, I find myself in a new chase, this time the damsel of my affection far away from the shine of football’s pure beauty. She’s jaded, rough, and smokes like a chimney, that’s right she’s not football, but she’s real.

She’s journalism. I wonder if she’ll ever love me? I wonder about many things. 

It feels aimless. I’m writing but there isn’t a thing to do this December night, not that stories of the world have dried up, I did.

I was at the peak of the mountain, at least the highest I’ve ever been in this profession, an internship at the Star. It felt like a dream, but now only a cruel dangling of the carrot in front of this starving horse. 

I know complaining is like shouting at the void, certainly as a journo. We’re supposed to inherit the tough-as-nails grit present for decades in the industry, but why must I follow these rules?.

I’ve been a failure for most of my life, everything I’ve tried has washed away at my feet like sand hit by waves. It doesn’t seem to matter just how much I struggle against the world. I’m always drowning looking at my reflection. 

The truth is I’m afraid, I’m afraid to wake up and see zeros on my bank account, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make a living in this industry, that’ll struggle for breath in a world that has no oxygen for me. 

I dreamt of being a gonzo journalist, I still do. Hunter S. Thompson inspired articles, podcasts, video reporting and eventually working on stories that really gift someone something soulful, I don’t care to be rich..I really don’t need much money. 

I chase glory and acceptance, In the end, I’m just a kid who wants to be heard, to leave something behind for this little planet that’s way too grand for me to understand, to fetch an interesting tale to sing as a lullaby to myself, when I’m on my deathbed, cold and trembling.

I want to remember my journalism, pure of emotion and cool, unafraid of anything. A rebel with a cause.

Never have I been good enough at anything, but I can write a decent bit, I hope this can be a start to the metamorphism of this career path, this life.

Fred Hampton and the footsteps he left behind

Fred Hampton recently re-entered the public’s minds after the film Judas and the Black Messiah began rumbling with Oscar buzz, yet the story behind the man is a tale worth much more than simple award-season buzz. 

Growing up a young Black boy I was searching for heroes, I’ll never forget the day I stumbled upon Fred Hampton, It was a voice that made sense to my ears, the vigor in his voice is one that is universal among our people, deep sadness is all one can feel realizing the same problems that a 19-year-old Fred Hampton from the 60s was fighting against are faced today.

Fred Hampton is long gone but the reapers of systemized racism are alive and well.   

The Black Panther Party was often demonized as a Black answer to the KKK, a hateful militia deadset on whipping out the good old values of Americana. The boogeyman under white society’s bed. 

What the Black Panther Party truly was, was an answer to a long-standing question. How long can injustice be served, how long could a dog be beaten without a bite? As shown in Oakland in 1966 the answer was 101 years.  

Hampton was the leader of the Illinois branch of the party, Hampton led the charge for real change in his community and beyond. Uniting the city’s gangs through the Rainbow Coalition, creating a school lunch program for disadvantaged kids across Chicago, and even battling sexism among his party. 

Hampton was truly one of a kind and just like all bright constellations, he disappeared far too quickly.  

Hampton was shot and died at the age of 21 on a cold December day in 1969 at the hands of the F.B.I. who deemed him too dangerous to live. Betrayed by William O’neal, a double agent in the party.  

Decades later his death would make no Black man flinch, for a Black man dying young is an unlucky roll of the dice. Drawing the short end of this cursed straw in the cup of systemic racism.

Hampton’s words ring across the valleys of Black consciousness every decade after his death. A young man from Chicago had no business being such a prolific leader, he had no business being a Marxist, he had no business uniting races and creeds and he had no business bleeding out in that shabby apartment as his unborn child dodged bullets in his mother’s stomach. 

Hampton’s killers received a nice raise, a pat on the back, and a photo-op. The saviors who brought down a militant Black man, one who dared to challenge the white supremacy that swallowed his surroundings. Oh, how often has this story been repeated over the decades since, with a different Black death?

He died a martyr, even today they sing his praises from the balconies of BLM rallies, his name fills the credits scenes of cinemas worldwide but that grave is lonely all the same, with the corpse of a revolutionary. 

From the tortured pen of Alexander Dumas or the poetry of Maya Angelou, Black history is written in a golden book of humanity, there isn’t a page on it unworthy of attention, the despair to exist, the torture of fighting to be alive, the Black struggle. Fred Hampton was one of many hosts of this battle cry. 

On Dec. 4th,1969 a hero to millions died but a vision lives on in the millions upon millions of black kids that grew in a world Hampton helped shape, society doesn’t guarantee the safety of our children, but our history guarantees we live far beyond death. 

To be Black is to be burdened with the understanding wherever you pester on this planet you’re the most different existence, no one looks like you, no one shares similarities. 

The world’s punching bag, no matter what race faced, the one guarantee is that black people are at the bottom of most social perspectives, whether deep racism or passive ignorance, it all gazes at us. 

There is a particular stare you receive in life, one only a Black person can understand, having to prove yourself worthy, being born with the heavy-weight of prophecy latched on our backs, to be Black is to fight but to fight is what makes me Black. 

I’ll never stop being Black and I never want to for a second because what Fred Hampton fought for would be lost without me, if I gave up believing then all the marches my brothers and sisters led, would be rendered useless. The words of James Baldwin would be obsolete, the songs of Nina Simone forgotten. 

Being Black will never rest from the constant lashes of the world but neither will our fight.     

what the hell was I doing in an art gallery today?

Today was my first time waking into any form of an art gallery, I would often pass by them and think them too exclusive and elite for me to simply understand, never mind entering their immense presence, I felt like I’ll be a frog among princes.

Yet this week I found some spare bravery and attended Art Toronto 2021. As part of my habit I had difficulty reaching the venue, lost in the mazes of this city, I must have walked a marathon today, the growing skid marks on my sneakers as my alibi.

I shuffled around my pockets for my ticket and my vaccine passport, the latest development in this world becoming stranger by the day. After a few minutes of waiting in a line full of old people and young art students, I arrived inside, took the escalator, and when I moved my eyes like a drone I was seduced with the view of true creation, scattered across the endless halls, thousands of hours of painting, sculpting and scrapping into the trash can, the millions of “frustration cigarettes” stepped on in endless nights, pursuing the beauty of this moment, the showcase.

Internally, I felt myself tipping my metaphorical hat to the art world, friend or foe I knew this could be the start of a grand love or hate. Either way, It was about to show me something I had previously not known, I became excited.

My footsteps were cautious, mousy almost I was still feeling out the vibe, everyone wore cool clothes, nice hair, and looked like an expert as they stood next chatting among themselves, at least that’s what their stares said to a paranoid novice like me.

Then I came across it, oh my how it took my breath away…

Kristy Templeton Davidge’s Striped Pant (right) and Iridescent Jacket (left)

Maybe it’s my own particularly hellish mood lately but these pieces from Canadian figure painter Kristy Templeton Davidge really gave me a sense of profound sadness, figures trapped in separate forms of agony, wrapping themselves in their own skin, finding pathetic comfort in their own touch, attempting desperately and silently to foster up self-protection, I caught myself nodding my head in shared loneliness as these thoughts passed through my head, thankfully no one can read my inner thoughts.

I was really catapulting myself to follow up online to see what else Kristy worked on, I became a fan surely, one day when my wallet is nice and swollen I hope to purchase a piece for my art-deficient home.

After this experience I continued to shuffle around jolting my puffy hair from side to side attempting to look as phony as possible, I even did that poser move of moving closer to the paintings as if I was going to catch some massive detail, I knew nothing but I used it as my shield, I wasn’t embarrassed to ask even the most basic questions, I must have been the person who bothered the guides the most, asking everything from absurd to faintly profound.

I rested for a second as I tied my shoelaces and when I got up I took notice of a booth that stood out, I went over hoping to ask the guide for more information but she was explaining something to a middle-aged couple, judging from their accents they must have been from Quebec but I enjoyed hearing french even in a casual sense it’s a language that always invites honey to the ears. When she finished, I took my chance and we began chatting. She explained it was a special showcase for the artist Peter Chan, for his collection called The Twilight Hours.

Truly a gripping set of works, apparently Chan was inspired by The Great Gatsby and the roaring 20s timestamp the book is set in, Chan points the mirror at a fantasy-like world, the theme of gold symbolizing distraction and commercialization of the world, how material things have literally become our veils, we’ve become sheep to greed and even our humanity is lost in a world of gold.

The final work I would like to discuss seduced me near the end of my time at the gallery, I was starting to feel hungry and for me, that usually spells armageddon as I have the eating capabilities of a timid medieval maiden, I knew the moment my stomach started growling like an angry pitbull my time was coming to an end, I was chasing one last thrill, one last image to staple to this afternoon.

And then it appeared in all its glory, the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe

Aggressively confrontational, this is a series of photos that showcase a man foaming in a power uncharacteristically nude, there is a shame in the male body even when it’s exposed so heavily, maybe indeed because it is exposed mostly in acts of power and bravado that it loses a lot of its fragility. In terms of black men, there is a deliberate dehumanization that rolls back to times of slavery, and Mapplethorpe’s choice of model and the snapshots yell loudly a message that is loud and clear.

I must extend my thanks to my girlfriend who really inspired me to attend and push myself to a new experience, in life, it’s important to appreciate the opportunity to lean and bounce around your comfort zone until it’s expanded its form completely, that’s the only way we become more complete in this grand game of birth and death.

I feel I grew in this aspect today.

More art below!

The most confusing portion is….is this art or an actual cat? I left without an answer.

To You, Familiar Demon

It’s a brisk morning today, the air is cold with a taste of melancholy, I miss something, something that is still here. Death, why do you come around so gingerly.

Oh heavens, something’s staring at me, something that breathes down my neck with a stench of familiarity.

I don’t need to speak your name, you’ll just keep picking at my wounds with your sharp talons, this is the extent of your power. Infect my surroundings with dreadful mortality, this is all you can do.

You know my body well don’t you, you’ve laid in the deepest portions of my pain, you’ve swam across my tears with a joyful expression, laughing with every plea I would throw your way, always the same response from your hollow tongue.

“Me and you are joined, i’ll never leave you.”

Yes I remember, those haunting words.

You come and go as you please from my life, invade my body and use me for your pleasure, clapping with laughter as you torment me so softly yet so painfully, until I revolt against myself and everything I know, until I hated everything I was.

You’re flexing all your muscles, you beat me with your bare hands with no mercy, you spill my screams in this empty room, no one will save me, no one wants to. You walk with the spoils of our barbaric war around your neck, you’ve won, throw the confetti in the air and declare the monster the champion, king of the broken.

It’s easy this way, to push me around the way you’ve pushed everyone else that’s fallen in your grave of carcasses. Pestering this wall of my resisentce until I crack It and It wallows in agony.

You’ve pushed me from the balcony many times , I wanted to listen to you, I wanted to die. My reflection jumped but it never hit the ground, pity for you I suppose I survived.

Broken as I am, in the senseless scribbles of my mind, I have a message for you.

A declaration that I’ll shout from the gallows of this prison you’ve placed around me since I was 15.

I’ll live this life with passion unlike your wishes, I’ll keep sprinting across these muddy waters, even I’ll get cut-up by the sharp rain that hits my skin, my blood wil flow as red paint in the terrain, I’ll be in pain but I don’t care one bit.

Because I’d rather die then not risk for what I want.

Nothing in life will rip me away, I’ll never die again like those times you pursueded me. I’ll never bend my head and shake under the weight of your judgment, so give it your best shot you hideous nihilsm, I won’t be the one that slips off the joyride, I still have more to give.

Fuck you

You’ve ruined everything I have ever had, everything I never dared to have but you won’t tarnish this destiny any longer, I’ll live inspite of you, there is something I must live for now.

Midnight Train 1989: Ode to Youth

Beatdown streets of Memphis, a love letter to Elvis Pressley, and the specter of the stories he left behind.

Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 flick Mystery Train is a snapshot of Americana, at its grimy glory. 

The journey begins at the sideview of a teenaged couple from Yokohama sitting across each other as the noise of the train tracks greet the viewer’s ear.

Doc Martens, a walkman and cigaratees. Jun and Mitsuko arrive at the king’s palace, Memphis.

Leather jackets and well cared for pomade aside there is a quiet Japanese aesthetic to this tale. From the moment they step unto the soil of the city, the couple reeks a stench of genuine wonder, everything is new, everything is uncharted territory yet Memphis refuses to react to them. The city pesters on, indifferent.  

As they seek a first destination under the new air of Memphis, Mitsuko argues on the merits of making Graceland their first stop which Jun opposes, later warming up to the idea without directly acknowledging the favor he does for her, always maintaining his cool guy persona. 

Mitsuko greets the night clerk (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) with “Hi goodnight” in that cheery exposition so quintessentially Japanese to western senses, while Jun shyly stays to himself. 

Iconic and timeless, the city roares as the young couple walk with the red suitcase between them.

As that distinctive red suitcase swings between them under the beautiful cinematography of Robby Muller, there was a small thought growing claws in my mind. The regal status of Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley half-heartedly argued over the embrace of warm cigarette smoke. Red lipstick smeared across their faces, Jun’s resistance to smile. It became clear as the red Mister Baby print on Mitsuko’s leather jacket.      

‘Elvis Pressley, Carl Perkins, Elvis Pressley’

Mitsuko takes a lead in the relationship, to the point it becomes dangerously one-sided, she yearns for Jun’s approval, even in intimacy asking for his body to wrap around hers, yet he looks away, attempting to hide himself in the embrace of coolness. Jun loves Mitsuko, that much is made clear through his sheepish eyes when she is not investigating his glances but he prefers to keep this too himself. Always straying away from open affection and emotions.  

The bed, the battleground of their love with no victor.

His misreading of the Americana fantasy archetype is prevalent. The macho man with a heart of gold buried under oceans of steely toughness, the greaser bad boy who gets the nice girl. These ideas have seeped their way into Jun’s understanding of the culture he worships. A misunderstanding or not it’s what shapes his relationship with Mitsuko. It’s hardly an ideal equal division among them but like a committed character actor Jun’s persistence to his persona takes priority.  

“Isn’t there anything I could do to cheer you up” Mitsuko says before embarking on a brave lipstick filled kiss smearing Jun’s face with red. She laughs and says ‘Now you look a little happier” but he doesn’t, he pulls out a cigarette and before he lights it she stops him and says she’ll do for him, showing off an impressive maneuver using her feet to give him flame, to this still no reaction just a cold, thanks.  

Mitsuko in this scene was the jester and Jun the spoiled prince, no matter how hard she tried she was met with a tall wall of indifference, and that’s the arc of their story. Mitsuko takes a step forward and Jun takes one sideways. There is a hole as wide as Memphis between them, but as young lovers often do, they don’t see what will be left when this greaser cosplay ends, and the juice of this fruit turns dry and they are forced into adulthood, seeing that far ahead simply isn’t cool.  

Solitute in foreign land. Jun stares out the window, Yokohama nowhere to be found.

Jun loves Mitsuko, he just loves his slicked back hair and stoic one-liners more.  He shows his love in quiet ways, if one were to blink, they’d miss them, the type of love only an immature man can give, and that only a naive girl can accept. 

Far from Yokohama is youth in a bottle thrown into the sea, a reminder of a time period already far gone from today, and the two figures that worship the one before their own, one familiar to a TikTok generation wearing oversized vests and parted hair, strong aromas of Aaron Carter’s boyish looks or Left Eye’s tomboy charm. Coolness is recycled as days turn into nights. Jun and Mitsuko have become their own little snapshot of retro and their story lives on as a beautiful ode to youth.       

Cinema Chronicles: That Obscure Object of Desire

The many masks of love and lust and how interchangeable they really are.

At the core of this grand piece of film lays a fundamental question, who is the hunter and who is the hunted?  

That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) CREDIT:The Criterion Collection

Luis Bunuel’s ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’ was an adaption of the 1898 novel The Woman and the Puppet. Widely considered one of the greatest swansongs of cinema. As a final film ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’ surely paints justice across the ending chapter and life of an all-time great visionary.   

Luis Bunuel (left) with leading ladies Angela Molina (middle) and Carole Bouquet (right) on set of That Obscure Object of Desire.

Young Conchita (dual role by Bouquet and Molina) vibrant with the colors of her youth and red-hot Spanish blood entices the grey-haired fox Mathieu or as Conchita and later her mother affectionately brand him, Mateo into the chase of a lifetime.

Her beauty strikes his eyes as he visits a friend of his, Conchita is working as a maid and as quick as a glance expires, Mathieu cannot help himself but hound every movement of the young girl, he revisits her like an eager schoolboy and becomes obsessed with conquering the ever-allusive Conchita.  

Conchita is presented as a playful girl who is very much aware of the control she has over men, it’s very likely this isn’t the first rodeo for Conchita as none of the actions of Mathieu ever seem to truly fluster her, only annoying her, but always with control. Mathieu begins a frankly pathetic attempt to woo his Helen of Troy, designer bags, daily groceries at her doorstep and countless promises of country-side getaways.

It gets to the point where Mathieu’s groveling is only justified by Conchita’s masterful puppeteering of the relationship. The whole film could be summed up as a rabbit slavering itself in barbecue sauce and hopping ever so near a chained starving cayote’s mouth.  

Mathieu overcome with a feeling far stronger then himself, can no longer hold back and explodes in a fit of old man lust.

She refuses to concede herself to him, finds excuses each time to spend as little of time with him as possible and seems to be on her way to different cities with every slight combative exchange they have, Mathieu ambitiously chasing the bread trail Conchita places behind her. Whether it’s Seville, Paris or even Mars he chases after her like a bank chasing a late loan payment.

The question I began to ponder was whether any of his interest was ever genuine or was Conchita simply a nut he couldn’t crack.  I had difficulty trusting either of these two, but Mathieu is the character I took exception with the most. The power he held from a social perspective probably led him to believe he could easily bed Conchita, like countless other conquests he has influenced as a bourgeoise man. When rejection strikes his ears, he becomes intrigued, as the teasing of Conchita continues, we see our morally aroused protagonist become obsessed, but with what?         

Mateo is a slobbering heap of hormones and throughout his journey we learn the truth depth of his prideless conviction. Our charming Mateo with all his might and riches is nothing but a dog chasing a mythical bone, unlucky for him this bone is a red blooded girl, not a woman yet but for him that never really mattered. His childish attempts to conquest her would work on any wide-eyed belle, and it almost does, for awhile but then reality kicks in.

The control he so readily attempted to shackle Conchita with, was around his own neck. She was not the one chasing after him nor the one breaking her marriage for a sniff of his shadow. There is nowhere left to run, he’s defeated and lost, so he rages to the sky and through his open hand he strikes Conchita until she bleeds, but the reality he was striking was the old bastard he realized he truly was.

The one thing our bourgeoisie couldn’t tame, Conchita.

Conchita is found to have been playing ventroloquist, never had she loved him, a realization that angers Mateo more then any rejection of his wormy pursuits because for the first time he realizes he has truly lost.

No matter how much money or time he throws her way it’ll never work. In the end no money can turn an old man, young and no man can turn a girl into a woman.