If Tupac Were Here Today (Would He Be Here Today?)

Tupac Shakur is phenomenal. I use present tense because his influence is still with us today. Just like in our minds how fictional characters never die, same with ‘Pac.

I’m sure you all are aware of the rumors about how he’s hiding out in Cuba. Again I ask, if Tupac were here today, would he be here today? I don’t believe that he would be hiding out, when the world is in flux. Not after he catalyzed the modern resistance which the world is facing right now, by addressing police brutality that plagues inner cities, by addressing how the black community has been underserved and left vulnerable to poverty and sickness.

He is, in many minds, a symbol of the resistance against inequality. His words resonate with not only the fans who were there to witness his ascension in the music industry, but with kids and activists today, who are younger than I was at the time he was shifting the paradigm of gangsta rap away from the murderous depictions of Black on Black crime, to the social injustices that keep a knee on the neck of the Black and Brown community.

Tupac is here today. He’s in everyone who is involved in the struggle. I think he’d be proud at the fact that the foundation he laid out for the people has been bucked but not broken. In a sense, all eyez are on him, on me, on we. Happy bornday, Tupac. The shit ain’t over…

Loup D in a limited edition 2Pac Collection hoodie by Oakbay Fits

Burning Down The House

“We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.

I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had …. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s 2020 and integration is a reality. Even though Black people are seeing the fruits of Dr. King’s dream, we are still experiencing the nightmare of oppression in America. Nearly thirty years ago, Rodney King became the first victim caught on tape in a case of police brutality, and Los Angeles and the country let their voices be heard at the absurdity of the trial and the system that allowed the four officers to walk away without lawful rebuke for their savagery.

Obviously, George Floyd’s televised lynching is a tipping point. We cannot have another outcome like the Rodney King trial. The whole world is watching. It’s rivals are calling the killing of George Floyd a symbol of America’s hypocrisy. The great defender of democracy and free speech uses military tactics against protesters marching against oppression against Black people. How dare America judge other countries about human rights atrocities?

People revel in the unifying language of the “I Have A Dream” speech, but who knew that even the great Reverend himself could see WTF was up with the mess Black people were about to get into, seeking equality in White American culture. Why do we have to seek equality? I thought that was a Constitutional given. The Black Lives Matter movement is asking this integrated society for the same things Dr. King and his followers asked their segregated society. What does that say about how far we’ve come and how far we have to go? It’s a deep seated anger that needs to be quelled. We’re tired of being afraid, waiting, not breathing…

Daddy Loup

I still remember the fear I was struck with whenever I knew I was going to get an ass whipping; I remember the smell of bitter tears welling in my nostrils as I held them back from my eyes. The anticipation of feeling the sting from a hardened leather belt, at least 42 inches in length, doubled over so that it wouldn’t flail and lose its power as it came hurtling towards my young, tender brown skin, over and over again seemed an eternity. The unleashing of the punishment seemed to last longer.

“STOP! STOP! I WON’T DO IT AGAIN DADDY! I PROMISE! I PROMISE! PLEASE STOP!!” My cries overlapped with the rhythm of the strap, as daddy punctuated each blow with a staccato warning to never ever do it again, and didn’t I tell you not to do that I’m tired of you doing this shit are you going to do it again, huh, huh, huh?

That shit seems funny in retrospect to a lot of people in my age bracket. Many a Black comedian brings back memories of these vicious attacks in their routines because it’s something a lot of us can relate to; it’s a memory that just doesn’t go away for most of us. For some of us, the memories got buried in a time capsule, someplace deep inside wherever lost memories dwell. The feelings of anger and helplessness unconsciously spill into our lives, our relationships. For others, it served as the conditioning for the model of how to deal with their children’s misbehaviors, as well as an outlet for the pain that was inflicted upon them.

It’s hard to believe a lot of the facts floating around during these days of sequestration, but believe this: there are a lot of ass whippings happening in the world today. Some would argue that it’s the thing to do to keep the kids in line, as both parent and child struggle with how to deal with their upended lives. It’s stressful for everybody, and all those ass whippings are creating a generation of abuse victims who will be living in a post-pandemic world that has socially distanced itself to complacency. And be aware that there are other types of abuse going on that I won’t even mention, but the psychologically scarred index is definitely on the uptick for the AlphaGens.

In a worse-case scenario, I see a future painted by conspiracy theories with Orwellian accuracy, as a low self-esteemed, mollified society moves about under the watchful eye of an angry god, ready to inflict pain upon a mostly damaged and diminished population, the masters themselves victims of what they perpetrate. The rosy alternative is that awareness about the oncoming purge of pain will lead to a surge in resources to help such a civilization to deal with the after effects of quarantine.

Consider these things while you watch death tolls rise and gas prices fall. There will be a lot of ups and downs on this journey. Consider how you respond to your upbringing. Is it a reflection of joy or pain? If it’s joy, you are one of the lucky ones. If it is pain, consider the alternative if you can. If you have kids or you are a kid, don’t take take your pain out on the other person. Seek help. Now’s a good time to call a friend because you know they’re at home, plus there are all kinds of online resources for mental health counseling. One of the good things about being stuck at home is that everyone is trying to reach out on the giving and receiving ends.

This is just daddy Loup talking. I have two sons and I don’t whip their asses, because I remember how it felt. There are other ways to drill respect into your kids’ persona without tearing down their will. Kids are going to do unthinkable things, sometimes to figure out how something in life works, sometimes for the thrill. Let the punishment fit the alleged transgression. I think each generation gets bolder because restraints never made much of a difference to young people in any generation so they will always test the limits. I just don’t allow the reactions that hurt me in the past hurt my children now; and I hope one day, the ass whipping curve will flatten too.

Book update: (The Real Struggle)

I’m here, trying to capture the healing energy of writing. I haven’t taken a chance to blog in a long time, but my journal has been working overtime. Blogs take too long to create, because I get caught up editing them trying to get all the tags and keywords right, in hopes of getting thousands of hits to my site. I’m not a big deal to most people so I chalk up my efforts to wishful viral thinking.

Writing a book is a lot harder than I thought too, especially a memoir. You’d think it would be easy to think of all the memories in your life and put them down on paper. It’s not. There were a lot steps to get from a summer journal, to a full on autobiographical sketch, to a first draft, to a thesis project, to a publication in progress; a lot of tears, a lot of decisions on additions and omissions, and a lot of unblocked memories attest to the effort it takes to accept one’s faults, fates and fears. I’m forcing myself to face down the things that led to this time in my life, and this blog gives my readers some insights on the concurrent circumstances of life I tangle with while dealing with my past in a poetic and literary way.

I can tell you that fatherhood has had a huge impact on my writing habits. Writing is a dream in progress, nebulous and free-flowing, coming to fruition when I least expect it, appreciating the moments when it happens. Fatherhood is a reality in progress, steadfast, uncompromising, something I can expect to face everyday and appreciating it always. I now know how parents can get so wrapped up in their kids’ lives and lose touch with themselves. I have witnessed the power of the attention shifting perils of parenthood!

So the book took a backseat for a while…and the blogging. It’s summertime and I’m feeling ripe to type up some more marvelous stuff, though. A corner is turning as one kid starts kindergarten and the other high school. What a spread, right? I’m going to be young forever! Now I have to bend a corner and get my writing flow on go again.

Send me some encouragement. I need feedback. Are you, or do you know someone who is a parent-writer? I’d love to hear the challenges you go through.

I’ve Been Playing LPs Again…

“Playing LPs” is really my online code for living life in the real world not the digital one. I wish I had a working turntable to play my records on, but I haven’t made the time to find a cartridge for the old Technics direct-drive relic sitting on the top closet shelf.

Sometimes it takes a while for me to come back to this format. There’s been plenty to write about, but a lot are too personal to share with the world, so I’m dealing with them in a space where they can’t be stolen and exploited. Real world problems need real world solutions. A time is coming where I’ll reckon with my feelings more freely.

For me, the real world inspires the words that come tapping from my fingertips. Writing my memoir itself has been liberating in that I’m unraveling a history that explains my occasional reclusions. I think every kind of artist goes through those moments, writers probably more so than most, but in these times you have to be consistent in exposing your online presence in order to be relevant. It’s sad that us humans have chosen to live in two worlds, as if one isn’t hard enough with which to deal.

#testimonialtuesday #tuesdaymorning

 

 

Hospitalized: Redo

IT HAPPENED AGAIN.

I love my work. I get to go places and see things most people don’t (until it’s broadcast), and get paid for the experience. But seriously, one of the best perks about the biz is the food!

My first year in the film industry I gained about twenty pounds, easy. Craft service was heaven laid out on three 6-foot long folding tables, free snacks and drinks to satisfy a hungry crew’s snack habits.

The first time I was ever hospitalized was because of craft service. I was producing a behind the scenes shoot for a Disney Channel show. It was a long day because the shoot schedule didn’t allow many opportunities for my team to interview the cast, so with all this wait time, I’m at crafty, munching on popcorn and cashews, calling myself being healthy. See, I gained those twenty in one year and it took me five to figure out how to lose it. I learned to stay away from the candies, sodas and the chips, and stick to the fruits, nuts, veggies and dips.

What happened that day is briefly documented in three previous blog posts, Hospitalized, Hospitalized – Do and Mended. Well, a few days ago, I had another ill food experience while working on a spot for the City of L.A. It was a run ‘n gun deal across the L.A. landscape, from the heart of downtown, to the Watts Towers to the beaches, we were catching some of the gem tourists spots of my sprawling town. On Day 2 of our shoot we stopped and ate at the Echo Park picnic tables with the locals. I made sure to hand sanitize but still, a little bacteria can creep up from just a thoughtless swipe on a bench or table and contaminate a meal in a minute.

Early the next morning, I was earling in the toilet, but I wasn’t going to let a little vomit keep me from making money, so I gathered myself and joined the crew for Day 3 of our adventure. By the time we got to action I was able and ready, but by midday, earl was calling again…

Needless, to say, I was sent home for the day. The situation was worse by the time I got home. I drove myself to urgent care down the street, and when she took my blood pressure, the nurse freaked. “220 over 180! You need to go to the hospital right now!” An ambulance was called, but my niece and her bae got there quicker. They rushed me to a Mid City emergency room and I was admitted immediately. The preliminary EKGs were abnormal… and they said I had the symptoms of a heart attack.

Oh shit.

I remained calm like an old Roots song, and let the doctors run their tests and scans. I was sad and glad to be there this time. I needed something to slow me down to think about what’s been going on. Lying there in that hospital bed, I thought about the past year and how much I’d done. The changes in my daily structure, like having to take two kids to school almost everyday, and dealing with a newly endowed teenager, are things for me now. I thought about the near death experience I had a few months ago: I was on my way to work one dark, early morning, barely a car on the road. I’m at the light, waiting to turn right on the green arrow. I get my light, and out of nowhere a Yukon came speeding through my turn lane, where I had to slam on the brakes to keep from getting smacked out of existence. After a pause to gather myself, I kept driving. The next song on my playlist was Deja Vu by Teena Marie. The words to that song took on a whole new meaning for me, and I cried my eyes out as I listened to it over and over again, until I decided that it was time for me to do something new. This is what set in motion a series of events leading up to the setting of the deadline for my memoir’s publication. Three days and many more thoughts later, I was released with a clean bill after all test results came out negative, no heart tissue damage, blood pressure hereditarily high, but controlled with medication and a better diet.

I’m at the dawn of my golden anniversary on earth. My health should be my primary concern from now on. My time with my loved ones is so important to me, and that’s why my approach to making the gold is taking a new turn. My vision is vast, and this last speed bump was a reminder to just pace myself. It’s all about to come to together. Thanks for participating in the vision, my readers. Every look counts.

New Look, New Book!!!

Just a quick update. A few changes are underway as you can tell from the housekeeping on the site, but it is a work in progress.

I am officially announcing the release of my first book “Rebelation: A Memoir with Photos” in March of 2018. It is a look at my life in back in 1992. Living in Los Angeles, it was my first year as a hip-hop journalist. It is a familiar tale about a young man coming of age, but in the unfamiliar context after the most violent civil disturbance in United States history. A series of events and alliances with people near and far help me forge a new perspective on life, black unity and personal responsibility. Now I’m ready to share my story with the world.

Come back soon and I’ll throw some pages up. In the meantime, I am just trying to figure out all the links and and click stats that are going to lead to this automatic money I’m gonna get once I figure out web commerce. Yippee ki-o!!!

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.

 

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.

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.