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.
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.