Tag: memoir

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Relativity

For anyone who’s worked 16 straight days in a row, 12 to 19 hours each day, you know how I’m feeling right about now. I’d say the majority of you who can relate to this kind of fatigue works in either the film industry or nursing. I can relate to both. My mom was a nurse for 40 years before she retired. She became the first black head nurse at California Hospital downtown in 1965. I think she might have been the inspiration behind the 1968 television series Julia, because a lot of Hollywood producers, directors, writers and movie stars were frequently under her care. I can remember her leaving in the day and coming home at night. I never knew how hard she worked, but anyone who dedicates more than half a day to their profession has got to be someone special.

She earned a place in Los Angeles’s Civil Rights history, but there was no Urban Intellectuals headlining her breakthrough promotion, nor did a #blacknursesmatter cause draw attention to the lack of diversity of management in her field. There wasn’t even a mention in LA’s perennial black dispatch The Sentinel at the time, heralding her pioneering role. She just did her thing, and three years later, I was born in that same hospital. At the time, I was the only colored baby in the nursery. I know this because my grandpa told me when he came to see me he couldn’t miss me! (Cuba Gooding, Jr. was born on the same day in the same hospital, but I have a darker complexion) After that, Grandpa flew out to see us from New Orleans every Christmas. I’ve seen photographs of him holding me. I remember at six years old, smoking on one of his cigars when he wasn’t looking, and the intoxicating and nauseous aftermath. I remember his last visit in ’92, the year I flew out to visit him for a change. The following year, he passed away.

I didn’t have a blog then, to exorcise the demon of despair that possessed me. He taught me lot about life in the three months that I stayed with him in the Big Easy. He is the reason I decided to write a memoir, but he knew nothing about this digital world that would one day become the overlay of the analog one he mastered in his ninety years of living. Now I find myself so busy living life by his tenets and instruction, that I don’t really think about taking the time to write about it on social media as much as the next person. I should be writing everyday regardless (see Morning habits). I even installed a digital journal on my phone to record my private thoughts on the go… much easier than taking a backpack with me full of physical journals and books.

Alas, it’s taken a few months, but I’m finding that my Circadian writing rhythm goes a little something like this:

  • Work
  • Kids
  • Sleep
  • Write

Where’s the fun, you ask? Trust me, it’s in every aspect of the above. I love being on a film crew, creating the next new thing; my sons are my joy and inspiration; what more can I say about the joy of sleep than what you don’t already know? And writing is my release and salvation, and that brings a sense of satisfaction and happiness and peace to my soul.

Between the phases of this cycle, I may make a jump onto the digital plane to see what everyone is up to, since we’re all connected on the Matrix. Facebook used to be my thing, but Instagram is now by far my social media app of choice. A picture really does say a thousand words, so why does it matter if I write a blog or not? Pictures can capture and express a moment, but writing captures and expresses a feeling. You can pick out the details in a picture, but words themselves are the details when you’re reading, the pixels in the paragraph. Words are a slowly developing Polaroid picture, compared to an instantly destructible Snapchat.

I have more ways and means to broadcast the events in my life than I can keep up with, a sharp contrast to what my mom and grandfather went through in their days. My mom told me that when she first heard a radio broadcast, she checked behind the massive floor model RCA for the people who were talking through the loudspeaker. As a Gen Xer, I crossed into a digital divide where the people behind a profile may not even really be people, yet I am bound, mind, body and soul, to the technology of the 21st century. I’ve formed for social media a love/hate relationship, much like the one I’ve formed with hip hop culture. It has its strengths, but going back to the old school basics just works better for me sometimes.

I wish I could share more. The digital me has been gone too long between posts I feel, and those who know me outside of this realm wish they could see more. It’s hard for the analog me, with all the new hobbies and adventures and life commitments drawing my attention, to give my online audience a sense of the satisfaction and elation I get from these experiences instantly, if not minutes after the fact.

I’m not one to give up and let the immediacy of social media deter me from mastering this realm, though. I’m just getting started. I’m reading all kinds of online writing books I found on Kindle. (Gotta love all the gratis libri in the Digital Age!) Last month I took a great online course called Cast Your Net: Web Presence and Social Media for Writers, taught by my good friend Brodie Hubbard. It helped me pay more attention to the presentation of my literary self to the online world. I want this blog to be a city within itself eventually, a place you can tour and visit and come away with some memories. I’m learning how to engage y’all and keep you coming back for more! I just wasn’t sure how to separate the personal from the professional, when my personal is such an integral part of my professional. It sounds to me like the life of a celebrity, but hey, when I was a kid, Flip Wilson had somewhat of an influence on my career choices.

Right now though, I’ll take the slow and easy road of observation and report what I see when that phase in my cycle comes around for its turn to play. I feel it’s my best work in the moment. Word by word, the pictures are developing, slowly, like a Polaroid.

YouTube Video courtesy of jayceemediaofficial

“Live for love.” – Prince

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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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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.