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The South-East Bounce

OK… The deadline for the e-book has passed. I’ve only organized the first round of pictures and there a lot more. Cataloging has become the unforeseen monkey wrench in my show. I thought it would be easy, laying out provocactive pictures and justifying them along  with my peppered prose, but the more I looked at each picture, stories emerged that had eluded my original narrative, and took on lives of their own. If I put more time in earlier on pre-production like I do on my filmed narratives, it would have been done on time and hopefully with great fanfare. I’m still pressing forward, though. I’m going to see what kind of help I can get by reaching out to my community of fellow artists, writers and photographers.

Earlier this month, I had a chance to travel away from L.A. for a couple of weeks. The first stop was Todd Mission, TX, where the first Middlelands music festival went down. The venue was the Texas Renaissance Fairgrounds. I was told that at least 60,000 people attended this 3-day event that popped up in a dusty wood, an hour northwest of Houston. There were many people who attended on a day-to-day basis, but a great majority stayed on the campgrounds. Oh yes, there was camping, and with the camping came the night parties til the dawn and brilliant displays of light. Being Loupy D, I had the luxury of a golf cart and an all-access pass. All day I was getting hailed by partygoers who after partying til the breakadawn were making their way from the campgrounds to the stages. I had a couple of interesting offers in the later hours of the fest, but due to the nature of my duties, I had to give every sweet-faced girlie the go-by. Even if I’d listened to that devil in the white nightgown whispering in my left ear, the best accommodation I could offer was the RV space I shared with two roomies. Three funky fellas in a tight quarters over seven days is an acquired aroma, but when one of the ladies from our group poked her head in our space one day, her acquisition couldn’t quite handle our aroma.

Febreze handled it.

Next week, new stop. After a quick repack in L.A. (and a long shower), I boarded United Airlines for a nonstop flight to Washington, D.C. aka Chocolate City with an orange glaze on top… oh well. The occasion for the destination was not to hate, but to celebrate the bestowing of rights and privileges thereof decreed up on my niece… as a PhD recipient! Her dissertation is titled Concussions, The Emerging Public Health Crisis, and Why Media Advocacy Is Needed. Looks to me as like she’s taking up the mantle against the NFL, and anyone else who puts profits as a priority over health. From day one when she learned how to talk she hasn’t been quiet and, I don’t know a bigger sports fanatic than @ProfCDP. As a teenager, I saw her go head-to-head  at a cookout with a grown man over some college sports stats! Christian caught the journalism bug in the heart of my freelance writing days. She began writing articles for the sports section of her high school newspaper and was the sports editor in her senior year. She was accepted to Spelman College and breezed through in three years with a double major in English and Spanish. Without missing a beat, she tackled the cold of upstate New York to get her master’s degree from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. I still see that tough, gangly 9-year old who I took hiking in Kenneth Hahn Park. The end of our hike was a short, steep incline. Poor Christian lost her footing and and took a frightful dive near the bottom. When I checked her out there was no blood, just a few scrapes. “See, if you can walk away from it then your okay,” I reassured her. By the time we made it back to my red Mazda B-2000 pickup, she was already asking, “can we come back tomorrow?” I feel so good that I kept telling her to put the books before the boys, too. It was the most solid piece of advice that I could have given her as a youngster. The reward for having that kind of patience and focus was getting engaged with her sweetheart of seven years, the day after defending her dissertation.There was a lot to celebrate that week!

You never know how the things you say to a person or the way you treat them, will influence them later on in life. I always tried to give my nieces and nephews aspects from my life that I wished I had more of: inspiration and motivation from an adult. A person who gives the go-ahead to try something new and not be afraid to fail is so hard to find in a competition-minded society. I gave them the freedom to be, and they were able to pick up on the pieces of wisdom and understanding I dropped on them at a young age. I had to wait to get it straight from my grandpa down in New Orleans as a wild youth in my 20s, while running with the hip hop crowd in the 90s. I remember always being told what to do, what not to do, what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I did my best to make other people happy, not knowing that I was the source of my own happiness. Like many misguided youth, I rebelled, made lots of mistakes and engaged in shenanigans that would have put me in the hospital, jail or in the ground. I’m here by the blessings from the good Lord above. I’m happy the ones coming up under me didn’t have to experience life the way I did. I’m not saying that life is hard, but it sure ain’t easy. I just had to change if I wanted to raise my own kids one day. Now I have two boys, and it’s the same with them, but different. Time will tell.

These two weeks of travel have sure put me in a reflective state. Life is short and precious and I enjoy the variety that it brings day to day. I’m getting used to the expereinces that will get me through the next phases of life. I don’t need a lot to be happy. I can be lonely in a crowd or at ease in my own company. There’s no use in remembering what I did for others when I’m going to forget it a year later. What you sow is what you reap, and I’m alright with what I’m seeing so far.

 

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Searching for Inspiration

I’m a longhand kind of writer. I love the feel of a pen in my hand, watching my thoughts manifest into ink as it sinks into the paper. The sound of the stroke of the ballpoint that swooshes, and leaves behind a trail words that sum up the feelings and observations of the moment thrills me.

Ever on the quest to digitize my analog life, I’m planning to publish my first e-book near the end of the month. It’s an essay with pictures, or a pictorial essay, if that’s a more marketable term, about my experience during the L.A. Riots, 25 years ago. The other day I was stressed out over formatting the photos, so I left the house with journal in hand and decided to go the beach.

I know that when I get inspired to go the beach, it’s a time for cleansing. Whenever a major change is coming along, I feel I have to count my blessings and clear my thoughts. I wanted to free my mind of the anxiety I was feeling from the pressures of perfection and just write something… anything. I found out that thoughts never come in any specific order unless you force them. They are as random as the waves hitting the shore, yet they do so with an expectant frequency. Here’s a random thought that hit the shores of my mind…

I’m at war with myself again. Trying to regain the sense of reality I sought in my youth. The ways of the world have had their way with me far too long. I felt alone in my quest before, but I’m more alone being a part of the crowd. It’s not easy journeying internally and finding the blocks that bar the way to true freedom, the freedom to live a life in love with myself. The freedom to be fearless in the face of adversity, to take the high road, takes more courage than lying to myself saying I just can’t take it anymore. I am stronger than the weakest perceptions I create, which tell me that this is as far as I’ll ever go. I’ve got to take chances. I’ve got to win this battle…

Someone recently told me that you have to fight for your right to write. I forced myself to come out here just to write this, even though I had no idea that this is what would come out of me. I always feel like these moments of reflection come too late to make any difference, but I’m grateful because it’s like taking a huge stretch before a workout. Here, in this moment, anything can happen, and if I write about it, it must be important, I think, because randomness can inevitably have meaning. Four more motorcycles just zoomed by.  A red Lamborghini. Another motorcycle, no two. A man holding a fake hand in one hand and a fat cigar in the other crosses the street. An airplane disappears into the clouds. What’s the meaning? It happened.

Now, I’m breathing easier.

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I’m having trouble with my computer. I turned it off and now I’m working off the iPhone.

I hear an owl hooting nearby. I remember one another time, years ago. I actually saw it perched in a tree, then it took off and flew towards the hill. It’s wingspan was huge. Owls are big ol monsters of birds.

I’ve decided to make a difference in my life. I will do what needs to be done. That includes taking care of my health. I fell off the exercise plan I was on two years ago, but I’ve got to get in at least 30 minutes a day. Just like I’m doing 15 minutes (which usually turns into an hour) of writing a day, my resolve must be to go to the gym or hit the trail or ride the stationary bike at home.

I’ve been going through pictures. I have two photo albums. They cover the years roughly between my last year at Orville Wright Junior High and 1993 – ten years in photo albums. They brought a lot of recall that will be useful in the current draft of my memoir. The other sets of pictures I went through are from the riots. I’ve been working on a filing system, but I hope one of the homies on my next gig will help me out with that and some editing advice. My hope was to have a pictorial tribute to the 25th anniversary of the 92 LA riots, but the realities of work and family clouded my foresight to get started on this project much sooner than I did. I’ll be blessed and lucky if I get a few weeks in early April to finish the layout of the book. Work has been amazing since the new year got here. 

It feels good to be busy. At the same time, all these production jobs are giving me the motivation to push to get these books out, and living the life of a writer again. I am sacrificing friendships, putting them on hold; relationships are a joke, except the one that I’m developing with my sons. It feels good to be a daddy, and the time I put into it I do so unapologetically, but I realize I gotta work smarter to get everything  – and everyone – back that adds to the richness of my life.

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R.I.P., B.I.G.

20 years ago today we lost one of the most prolific rappers in the history of the genre, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls. Three years prior to his untimely demise, I was one of the first journalists to interview him. It went down the night before his debut album Ready To Die hit the charts, hours before his debut performance at Glam Slam West, Prince’s downtown L.A. hotspot in the 90’s.

I’m posting this article in honor and tribute to this fallen soldier. I can easily say that Biggie was the most humble rapper I’ve ever interviewed. After we finished our formal interview session and the recorders were off, Biggie said to me, “I hope people like my album.” I looked him straight in the eye and said “dude, people love you!” “Ain’t no guarantees in life,” he shot back, “if this shit don’t jump off, I’ll be back on the streets hustling tomorrow.”

I think you will see a side of Biggie in this interview that most people didn’t see during his short tenure as the king of rap. That’s the reason why I put up a picture of the brother smiling. He had reason to be mad muggin’ all the time, but he also had reasons to smile.

Wait until you read the article. I’m sharing this remnant of the past, before the Internet forced me to go back and get my hustle on the streets. I hope you enjoy, comment and share. Blessings to you all…

Click below to open the PDF:

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P.S. I know I’ve been off the radar for a while (I was supposed to go to Europe, but the funding didn’t come through), but I’m working on a new project that I pray will be in time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots on April 29th. Details coming soon!!!

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Power To The People

I told you I had some news in my last post. The news is that I’ve been asked to go to Europe to represent a film! I never imagined the idea of just packing up and going to Europe unless I had a legitimate and creative reason to go, and here it is. My dream country to visit is France. I want to experience what the Harlem Renaissance writers felt when they went there. I took French in high school and college, but most of it is forgotten because I didn’t have a practice partner. I’d probably be fluent in Spanish if I took as many classes and spoke to every Spanish speaking person in Los Angeles that I encountered living my life here.

The film 41st & Central: The Untold Story Of The LA Black Panthers is being screened in Stockholm and Berlin. I don’t speak Swedish, but I do have German ancestors on both sides of my family, so this trip would be a homecoming too. I won’t have time to go to Hamburg to check the emigration records, but at least I’ll have the chance to make contacts in the country to come back when it’s time. Being there to represent the film is more relevant to what’s going on right now, right now.

2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots. Some of the conditions that led to this uprising existed during the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles: high unemployment and police repression. In these divided times, it’s so important to look back on the history of what causes these divisions and how far we’ve come in our healing. Will we have to deal with the same issues again under our new president, or can we find answers so that we will not have to repeat such a brutal cycle?

This trip is important to me as a survivor of the riots because it’s a chance to see what the Black Experience in LA looks like from a Euopean standpoint and offer my insights and information to their inquiries. The experience woud be great to share in the photo book I plan to publish about the LA Riots in 2017. I’ve started a GoFundMe page to assist with the expenses for the trip, so please donate to the cause and/or pass this information on to someone you know who supports these kinds of efforts.

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How I Got The Name “Loupy”

I have been so busy these past couple of months… Work, kids, write, rest, repeat! I admit I’ve been stingy with my online experience, but all the latest internet fads and trends over the holidays did not go unnoticed, nor did the “Trump-set” of the election. I had to go underground and get my bearings back on straight, so now I’m ready to share something with you.

It’s the story of how I got the name Loupy. Loupy D was created in 1991 when my first interview was published and became my hip hop moniker for life! There are only a few people that have worked with Loupy D, but that story will be told in the second memoir. Right now you’re getting a sneak peak into the first.

I have some more news to share wth you very soon, so stay tuned. The holidays are coming and I’m in a sharing mood. Please share your holiday spirit by leaving a comment and sharing this with someone!


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1979, fifth grade at Windsor Hills Elementary changed the course of my history, though I didn’t know it at the time.

A brotha named Jeff had transferred into Windsor Hills from another school that was on the south side of Slauson. This kid was on the path to destruction. He was like me when I first went to Canfield: always in trouble, always in the office, but the school aids at Windsor Hills weren’t as nice as they were at Canfield.

I met Jeff sitting in the office. The thing that gave way to that reality was that he was a bully to most, but took a liking to me. He was just a cool and funny kid, a little slow and big for his age, but after we joked around I guess he saw me as a cool brotha to hang with, so we became friends. He asked if he could come over after school one day. I told him that his parents would have to check with mine to see if it was okay. I wrote my name and number on a piece of notebook paper and handed it to him.

“Call me tonight and put your mom on the phone, and she can talk to my mom,” I said.  Later that evening he called. I picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Uh… may I speak to Loupus?”

“Loupus??” It took me a few seconds to figure out who it was since there was no Caller ID in those days.

“Man, my name ain’t no Loupus! It’s Lawrence!”

“Uhhhhh… aight den… Loupus.” I could hear him chuckling in the background. “That shit is funny.”

“Man, you crazy Jeff!”

“Hu-ha…Loupus…”

“What’s up man? Where’s your mom?”

“She had to work late, but she said it was okay for me to come over.”

“Oh for real? That’s cool. I’ll tell my mom your mom said it was alright in the morning.”

“Okay… Loupus. Hu-ha…”

“Man, stop calling me that!”

The rest of our conversation probably went on about what was gonna be for lunch in the cafeteria or who was the best at kickball, but I sure remember him snickering and saying under his breath, “Loupus…”

The next day I walked alone to recess, and when neared the gate, there was Jeff, grinning. His ashy, whop sided Afro looked steamy in the morning sun, his face beaming as bright. Jeff looked like that kid who was waiting to see his auntie with the candy come off the airplane, standing there, waiting for me right at the gate.

“WHAT’S UP LOUPUS?”

It so happened that one of my new Jewish friends Doug was walking in the gate at the same time. Doug and I both wanted to be architects when we grew up and we were in gifted class together, so we were cool. He was about to be even cooler because after he heard Jeff call me “Loupus” he picked up the chain that Jeff threw down. Doug couldn’t stop laughing.

“Loupus!!” Hahhahahahaha!!! Here we go loop de loo here we go loop de lie!!! HAHAHAHA!!!”

After that, in all my yearbooks, the name stuck and it stayed. Loupy was born.

The school day ended and I walked out of school with Jeff. My house was right around the corner. When we got there he looked up and marveled.

“Dang, this all your house?” That was the typical reaction when someone saw our house for the first time. I had a birthday party earlier that year and invited friends from my old neighborhood. One of the guys said that when he walked to the front door that he wondered if he was at the right apartment.

“It’s all one house,” I said. “My dad designed and built it.” I took more pride in saying that fact than I did in the size of the house. It seemed like it was just big enough for our family to be together and be apart at the same time. My sisters shared a room in the same section of the house where my room was. We shared a bathroom. It was long, with a double sink counter. The toilet and shower/tub were at the end. The bathroom divided our rooms, but the only way in was from the shared hallway. I used to wish that it was like the bathroom on the Brady Bunch, where both sets of kids had an access door from their rooms. We walked in through the front door and you could see the backyard through the glass windows in the foyer. We had a big backyard. There was a big pool in that big backyard, and lots of room to run and play.

Jeff and I came out onto the patio area. It was brick tiled, with white patio furniture consisting of two round metal tables framed by four and two chairs each, surrounded by planters with huge fronded exotic plants. Off in a corner of the tiled area was a wet bar and a gas barbecue grill, perfect for grilling in all types of weather, my dad used to brag. On the other side of the bar was the pool and Jacuzzi area, taking up about one third of the backyard. Next to the pool was a flat grassy area that went towards the neighbor’s wall into a hilly area going towards the back of the house. This is where Meme planted her vegetable garden. Another thing that Meme taught me was how to work the soil and grow things. She was the granddaughter of a slave, and she grew up in Tennessee. Making use of the soil was an ancestral skill she handed down to me, and I took a lot of pride in the strawberries I planted that were bursting with sweet, delicious full fruit.

Jeff was so interested in the garden. Most of my friends who came over would want to race around the pool or roughhouse in the grass. Not Jeff. He walked right over to the strawberry patch and started picking strawberries right off the vine and eating them. Some of those strawberries were already half eaten by snails, but Jeff didn’t seem to care at all. I never ate anything out of the garden without washing it off first, but I realized that Jeff didn’t care. After he got his fill of strawberries, he told me that he had to go home.

“You just got here,” I complained. I didn’t get to have company over very often and it was cool having a guest. It felt like being grown.

“My momma’s gonna beat my ass if I don’t get home,” Jeff replied.

“I thought you said that your mom said it was okay for you to come over.”

“I lied, cuzz. I got to go home before my mama beat my ass. Thanks for them strawberries though cuzz!”

Jeff slapped me on the back of my neck – a Benny Hill as we called it – and took off running. I chased him and caught him at the door leading into the house. I smacked his neck twice: one for lying and one for eating all my strawberries!

That was Jeff’s first and last visit to my house. We still kicked it at school though. When our play area changed from kickball field we would have tetherball or foursquare, and none of the boys were interested in that. So, we walked around the schoolyard and I’d watch him harass other kids. If any of my gifted friends approached me Jeff would scare them off. Even my black classmates Reggie and Blair were cool when it came to Jeff. His trademark greeting was “What’s up cuzz?” He claimed RSC or Rolling Sixties Crip. I didn’t know that kids my age were gang banging. I knew about teh Crips though because we just moved from where 18th Street was founded. Jeff didn’t pose a danger to me, but the other kids feared him.

We eventually drifted apart. He was put into a remedial class, which was far away from the other classrooms. We saw less of each other at lunch because our play area days were on different schedules. Whenever we’d see each other on the yard he would say or yell out:

“What’s up Loupy Cuzz!”

People always ask, “How did you get the name Loupy?” Some think it’s Spanish like “Lupe”, so when they ask if I’m from South America, I say “Si.” That opened me up to meeting a lot of Spanish speaking people. When I was a chubby little chocolate kid, other kids would tease me in reference to my “loopy” proportions. I didn’t even know how that name would one day have its own personality. The way that it came about has nothing to do with what it has come to mean, and the meaning behind has become a lot more significant because of the course life has taken me.

I find that Loupy fits. Loupy is loopy: kind of goofy and nerdy, full of mirth. On the foreign end, like le loup (French for wolf) I can run solo or with a pack.. The yin and yang and is complete, like a circle, churning up the chi and the creativity flows deliciously. Loupy represents the freestyle of my spirit and good nature, the square kid who rounded out his stitch in the fabric of the American quilt. I’ve made it up view my life as a series of cycles and turns, not just a lineation of facts and events. This means I’m always evolving, and I’m great with my Loupy way of life.

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Seasonal Shifting

I am back from the trenches. A lot of my personal woes have been too close to the heart to share with this crowd, or even Facebook for that matter. Work and parenting are certainly testing my limitations and motivations. I ask myself often, Why am I writing? Blogging ain’t paying the bills! I think about other work to make money to survive and buy stuff for the kids. Oh, the kids are getting bigger and need more stuff. I need to make more money!

I collaborate with a great group of people who are passionate about film and loyal friends as well. We continue to develop scripts and ideas that we hope will one day soon sell in the marketplace. The last five years we have all experienced the challenges of balancing parenthood, art and work. Since the hands on practice of filmmaking is on hold, we have all relapsed into our creative cocoons. They write screenplays while I focus on personal narratives, poetry, and developing a new old outlook on an old love: hip hop. The past few months I’ve had the opportunity to practice my photography skills with my DSLR instead of my phone camera.

The other day my sister comes over. She picks up a book I put together on Shutterfly, sitting on my coffee table. She can’t believe the beauty of the photo selection. “You took these?” “Yup.” “You’ve still got those pictures from the riots?” “Yeah.” I’ve been wanting to make a book from those photos for a long time. I admit that I have anxiety about starting projects that don’t require the hands on support of fellow visionaries. This is something that would carry my name on it. Sole credit. “What will it take to make the book?”

Dreams. promises. I try everything and I don’t give up. I write because I set things in motion from the words that stir from my fingertips. A person can think of what they want to do, but until those thoughts materialize as words and those words become actions, ideas will be the house of dreams and unkept promises.

Winter is coming quick. I set that as the deadline for a rewrite of my memoir. I’m going to smash a few pages out while I’m down from work these next few days. A friend sent me back notes on some poems I’m getting ready for publication. I want to work on those. Tomorrow isn’t promised. My buddy is going to show me how to shoot stars in the desert at the end of the month. It feels good to be back on this page.