Tag: creative nonfiction

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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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Transmission Complete

It’s a big day for me. My online class is up for the offering. It starts October 25th. I’m in the middle of preparing the syllabus and I think that it will be an interesting course for anyone who writes creative nonfiction. It will be nice to teach again; it’s been over ten years since I’ve been in a classroom. The major difference is that this is a virtual classroom. The coolest thing about online education is that you show up to class when it’s convenient for you. As long as you meet your deadlines and participate in the discussions, you’re okay. I did it for two years of grad school, so I’m really looking forward to the experience being the online instructor this time.

Also today, the official announcement goes out that I am an assistant editor at the online literary journal Drunk Monkeys. At last! I’ve broken the digital barrier and now I’m writing for an online magazine. It seems like this blog came just in the nick of time, to chronicle the bridging of the gap between where I left off twelve years ago in my career, and now. I made a little money in between working in the film industry, but somehow the appeal of being a near broke starving artist, working for pennies and cred, is alluring. The feeling is always “this is going to lead to something great!” In the meantime, I’m wondering if they’re gonna turn off the lights because my payment arrangement is a few days late. There’s a sick thrill in relishing in these types of opportunities. I’ve lived with the same kind of hunger since my first article was published in 1991.

I didn’t know where my literary efforts would lead me, but I did it again and again, and man did I have some memories behind a lot of those articles and encounters: interviewing Notorious B.I.G. the night before his first album Ready To Die dropped, snapping photos of Tupac performing at the record release party for 2Pacalypse Now, his first album, interviewing the entire Wu-Tang Clan, to name a few. I was broke, but happy. My grandfather told me back then, as long as you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food to eat, you’re doing alright. I’m still doing alright, and my sons seem to be pretty happy when they’re at my apartment playing on the Xbox and eating homemade ice cream.

It’s a hustle to keep this dream alive and make it grow in the process. The digital age is still a new landscape to me. I’ve peeped it out through virtual binoculars and I can’t even see the horizon, which means that there is plenty of ground to build these dreams into realities, just like the artists I knew in the analog age, some who didn’t make it this far. Their inspiration and belief in the hustle gives me reason to keep reinventing the hunger that I felt back then and use it to feed the muse.