Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Apprenticeship...

When I was growing up my dad didn't believe in the concept of an "allowance". He told me at a very early age that in the real world people only gave you money if you did something to earn it.  My dad was a paint contractor so he figured I could learn HIS trade.

           From the age of nine whenever I needed money I put on my painters whites and earned money as I learned the construction arts of dry wall installation, painting and applying wall paper. Dad's deal was pretty straight forward, initially he paid me minimum wage, but eventually my salary went up as time went on.  I spent part of every summer, many weekends and sometimes some evenings doing jobs with my father.  The summer of 1985 he came to me with a deal I couldn't pass up as he wouldn't give me a choice.  There was a HUGE job at a hotel that was coming up and it paid more than he did. Dad's jobs were small commercial properties like strip malls and office parks but mostly residential. Residential was dad's bread and butter. This was different, he wasn't the contractor on this one, he was just another guy applying wall paper and he'd gotten me a job as an "assistant".
         
           There were only two painters assistants on this job and our job was to sandpaper dry wall and later to clean up excess plastic tarps and wasted wall paper.  The other "assistant" was the supervisors son. Unlike myself he showed no enthusiasm for the job. He was a quiet blond kid who had a permanent look of disinterest on his face.  It was a large building and there were several crews operating at once on different floors. I mentioned to the boss' son that if we separated we could get more done, that is I'd take the odd floors and he the even. He dismissed that idea and said that the day would go by faster if we worked together.
        
         Initially I thought I'd made a new friend,  but then I realized that aside from being the same age and on the same job, we had absolutely NOTHING in common.  We had no conversations of substance. He didn't want to talk about music, girls, politics, school or anything other than the car he wanted to buy how drunk he liked to get, how much weed he could smoke without his dad finding out and when we were either going to lunch OR getting off work. I soon realized WHY he didn't want to work apart from me. When we were "working" I was doing the lion's share of it.  He did as little as possible and only seemed to want to work as hard as I was when he saw his father on the periphery.  He did that act once when I stopped to go to the bathroom and his father showed up, he pretended that he had done all the work on our floor and of course who do you think his father believed. Other painters would later come to my defense but it was still a pain.
       
               I was on this job for a month before they told us that most of the hard work was done and they didn't need two assistants anymore. Guess which one of us was let go? Here's a hint, it wasn't the blond kid with the casual work ethic. I took the money I made and saved it for school clothes and didn't give the job a second thought until two weeks later when my dad told me that the supervisors son had quit.  Supposedly he told his father that he'd gotten tired of being on the site and that it bored him.  I laughed because I knew that he finally had to do some work for a sustained period of time and didn't have someone else for whose efforts he could take credit. He had to sink or swim and sank.

           I worked harder than he did and we made the same money, but when he had to do exactly what I'd been doing for a month he folded like a card table. Maybe he was smarter than I am. He figured out that all he had to do was show up and do the bare minimum and he'd still get paid.  He even took three "sick days" which he informed me were days when he was "sick of working." Whether he was a con artist or a malingerer I'll never know but he taught me three valuable lessons that summer: 1. Hard work is good for one's self esteem as you're either going to take pride in what you do or quit.  2. It's not WHAT you know, but WHOM and 3 and this was the most important lesson, every lie ever told eventually is exposed. You can only maintain subterfuge for so long before it's ultimately discovered and you're revealed as a fraud.
                  Regardless of my opinion of my former "co-worker" (I use that term ironically) he did at least show up on a job.  Little has changed as there are still young people working on summer jobs, but many more who simply wait for mom and dad to hand them what they want. I can't help but wonder, when did an entire generation stop equating work with rewards?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

There was a Green Book?


I know a little about history. I won't say I "KNOW" history because neither I nor any other person who didn't live in a given time has encyclopedic knowledge of any  time period though some come close.  My parents told me about certain things which were realities of the segregated south of their youth and early adulthood. I was told about "sundown towns" which garnered that name because blacks could not be there after sundown for fear of their own safety.  I was told about restrooms, restaurants, hotels and motels where black business was NOT accepted and about clothing stores where black clients couldn't even try on articles of clothing they wanted to buy.
        My parents and some of my teachers who had survived the same thing told me about their experiences, but NONE of them ever mentioned The Green Book. The Green book was written by a former Pullman porter (rail road worker) who compiled a list of every black friendly hotel and restaurant in the south and published it in the north and midwest and made a nice chunk of change doing so.
   
        In 2018 a film by the same title examines race relations in America circa 1962. Our protagonist ISN'T a black motorist going across the south, but rather a Bronx tough guy who occasionally works as muscle for the mob who lands a temporary assignment as a chauffeur  a black concert pianist who is embarking on a tour of the deep south.  For simplicity's sake, let's call him by his Bronx moniker "Tony Lip". Tony earns this name because of his ability to seeming charm and BS virtually anyone.  Tony's character is supposed to represent the average working class white guy. He doesn't HATE black people per say, but his only knowledge of them is based on superficial contact & stereotypes. He embraces black music and what he perceives to be black "culture" without knowing any actual black people. 
      Enter Doctor Sally a black piano prodigy who has been playing piano since the age of 3.  Tony travels throughout the midwest and later the south with Dr. Sally and discovers quite a bit about himself and his attitudes about his fellow man. Over the eight week odyssey Tony learns about elements of the black experience that he never knew existed that chances are most white people didn't know existed in the south for blacks at the time.
      I've always enjoyed the films of Spike Lee and Spike both HATED and dismissed this film as a white knight saving a helpless black man. I saw this film and disagree with Spike. I saw a  guy realizing that he didn't get it and neither did most of the people he knew.  Dr. Sally didn't need "rescue" he was in fact the person signing Tony's paycheck, the guy living in (as Tony put it) in a castle.  Dr. Sally's talent segregated him from most blacks and the color of his skin segregated him from everyone else.  In the course of the 8 weeks that Tony and Dr. Sally do their own version of "Driving Miss Daisy" in reverse, Tony and Dr. Sally grow and form a friendship and both are richer for it.  I'd recommend this film as a fun piece of history as it's based on two people who actually existed and no one dies in the course of the film. I recommend it as a nice buddy pic for anyone who knows what it's like to learn about someone else on an interpersonal level and make an honest to goodness friend.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Movin' on Up...

I'll help fools move, but you EITHER need to feed me ...WELL or get me disturbingly drunk off GOOD alcohol. There are people whom you'd drive to the airport, give a kidney and for whom you'd take a bullet, BUT whom you wouldn't help move. Seriously, you'd take a slug for a guy but you won't help him move his late grandmother's piano. 
        Hey, wounds heal and chicks dig scars, but movin' a piano is a pain in the butt. Okay calm down if you REALLY don't want people asking you to move, you have to make them think that they REALLY don't want you to know where they live. Make 'em think you're nuts or at least bizarre or slightly odd. Here are a few helpful hints to help you get out of the "moving" draft.

1. Have an unusual "emotional support" animal. I'm not talking dogs, cats, exotic birds or ferrets. Get a llama and have him clad in silk pajamas and one of those pimp hats with a feather. Get an aardvark and put a Parliament Funkadelic shirt on him.  Michael Jackson had a llama. How many times did you see that muff-hugga carrying the end of a couch?


2, Three words: "Giant...Carnival...Cigar".  Carnivals and fairs occasionally give out foot long, thick novelty cigars as prizes. Go online and buy a GROSS of them and smoke the dang things AROUND that friend who juuuust can't seem to find the right apartment who seems to move every six months.  If every time he sees you you're blowing smoke in his face from this funky, cheap cigar...you're as out as Sean Hayes.

3.  Randomly bolt! When around someone whom you suspect will be moving soon, travel with him/ her by cab or Uber. When at a stop light, get out and run the hell off. If they later ask where you were or what you did, be amazingly vague and elusive.

4.  "Sister Christian" them! Everyone who's seen the film "Boogie Nights" remembers the "Sister Christian" scene. REENACT IT!  When the "friend" is over for a dinner or social gathering, LITERALLY hire a prepubescent Asian kid to light and randomly toss firecrackers as you're talking to them...and pretend he isn't there...or that you can't hear anything.

5. Refer to yourself in 3rd person.  "Rodney feels that we should go to Ricos for lasagne. Rodney thinks they're better than Demiglios." Not only will they NOT want you to help them move,  you'll be lucky if one of them doesn't lunge at you with a steak knife.

6.  Get a "title".   Insist on your friends referring to you as "your grace", "Your eminence", "Lord Balvaird" or "Grand Ayatolla."  It's annoying as (rhymes with duck). If it doesn't kill your invite to the big move then my name isn't "His Highness Prince Regent Jesse Handy"

7. Charlie Daniels.  Charlie Daniels is a talented country artist from the 70s and 80s  His greatest hit which was a crossover on the pop charts was entitled "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Play that song CONSTANTLY when around the friend whom you're trying to  avoid. No OTHER music from Charlie or anyone else...JUST play "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" over...and over...and OVER again. If you're lucky they won't try to have you killed.

8. Bubba Gump them. If you've seen the film "Forest Gump" you remember Forest fellow developmentally challenged Army buddy "Bubba" whose knowledge of shrimp and how to prepare it was encyclopedic.  Learn EVERYTHING there is to know about a particular food...then ramble incessantly about it. IT WORKS!

9.  Get a CATCH PHRASE! I can promise you that if you punctuate every other sentence with "Well don't that butter your biscuit?" , "Aint that a soccer kick in the ballz?" or "Shave my butt and call me fluffy!" People will lift their OWN piano to see if they can throw it at you.

and FINALLY and this one is THERMONUCLEAR

10. The Hank Hill. Go to somewhere where either the person who you know will ask (or someone you both know) is getting their freak on and just burst in and say (in your best Hank Hill voice) "OH MY GOD IT'S SO JUICY!"  from one of the Thanksgiving episodes. Not only will they NOT want you to help them move, they might NEVER speak to you again. Of course the downside is...they might ask you to join.  Either way...good luck.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The "African American" Experience?

Several  years ago I worked with a young, black teacher from a small town in northern state. As we have mutual acquaintences I won't say her name or where she's from. We never had an in depth conversation and truthfully I never found her an interesting enough person to engage on more than a superficial level.
           After working with her for the better part of a year however I thought her to be a tad condescending. She seemed to patronize when she spoke to me.  In all fairness, there are some teachers who feel the need to simplify things when they speak to their students and it carries over to everyday conversations. It sounds as if they're being patronizing, but it's not their intent, they just want to be comprehended and tend to speak slowly and in warm tones. As I had to work with this person and from time to time I had to attend the occasional meeting with her, I couldn't help but notice that whenever I spoke she had a snide comment. There were LITERALLY times when I wished I'd been born a woman so I  could have slapped the hell out of her. I loathed her, but as time went on I couldn't help but notice that whenever the other southern black people spoke she would seem to talk down to us in her replies as well.
          Black southerners tend to look down on blacks from Alabama. I think it has something to do with the fact that during the Jim Crow era blacks in Alabama took more grief than anyone else and seemed to be okay with it. In fact black people calling you a "Bama" is just a polite way of calling you a backward, rustic idiot.  It never dawned on me that blacks from the North and Midwest could see ALL black southerners that way, which leaves me to ask What IS the "black/African-American experience?"

               My grandfather in Louisiana couldn't vote until he was a middle aged man. In contrast black men in Chicago, New York and Boston COULD vote, but often felt as if they had nothing for which to vote.  Did they consider my grandfather and men like him, shucking and jiving Uncle Toms and Bamas who allowed themselves to be pushed around, or did they see them as men who stared down metaphorical (and in some cases literal) gun barrels when they left their homes?  Growing up black in these United States BEFORE I was born was NOT a pleasant experience, but can we compare being black in Chicago to being black in Mississippi? Was being black in Texas the same as being black in Los Angeles or was the black Georgian experience the SAME as the black New Yorker's experience? Racism existed (and to an extent still exists) in all those places, but is being told "we don't serve your kind" in Manhattan after not being able to hail a cab the same as having a mob in Tennessee threaten to lynch you because someone thinks you looked a white woman in the eye or perhaps forgot to tip your hat?

       Don't get me wrong, there are elements of the black experience that are/were universal.

- The sense of isolation one feels when one is the ONLY person of color in some places. There are friendly people of every race color and creed and some will speak to you, but there are times when you become invisible. Waiters and waitresses and other patrons of some restaurants seem to gaze right through you. Some don't want to antagonize us, some simply don't want to engage us, others simply figure if they ignore us long enough we'll go away. Ralph Waldo Emmerson captured that sense of isolation best in his novel "Invisible Man". There are some who don't consider us "American" as evident by those who clamored to believe the theory that a black man born in Hawaii HAD to have been born in a foreign country as they simply couldn't accept that a black American could possibly be the leader of their country.

- Not being admitted into certain places, be it a club, hotel, restaurant, college or neighborhood which gentlemen's agreements, policies and in some cases state laws and city ordinances excluded us. This isn't an entirely black experience. The Irish, Italians, Jews and every other minority has experienced this at some point and it leaves a mental scar even if you can walk away with a smile and pretend it doesn't bother you.
    
-The random criminal and other stereotypes. At the end of the civil war many who considered blacks the lowest rung on the societal ladder feared newly empowered blacks. The newly freed men and women would want the education denied them, ACTUAL jobs, equality in every way and MAYBE even some kind of retrobution for generations of mal treatment.  To that end laws were put into place to deny all of these things to blacks as a group. In some states there were literally laws to insure that unemployed black men would be in jail to provide a ready made labor supply for chain gangs.  Generations of selective prosecution have lead to many believing that blacks are more likely to simply BE criminals.  Black schools are constantly under funded and some resent their tax dollars going to fund "failing inner city schools".  "Inner city" has become the buzz phrase for "black" and anyone who attended an "inner city" school clearly must have received a sub par education.


In all fairness however we can't say that all aspects of the black experience are "negative".  If you're a black American in a foreign country you MIGHT be treated as the random stereotype that has been exported via mass media, OR you may be treated simply as an American. There are many who LOVE Americans. 
      As I sit and write this piece in 2018 I'm three days removed from having cast an early ballot in an election, a privilege that many of all races would envy. I live in a country where even the poor have running water and electricity and in some cases cable television and three meals a day. 
     I have access to higher education and I know that my grandfather would be proud of me, my sibling and my cousins and nephews who were able to attain it. 

       What DOES being black in America mean? I'd say the black experience in America is like a finger print. No two are exactly alike. I can't judge a black man who grew up in south Florida anymore than a black woman from up Delaware can judge me.  The "experience" in my opinion has as many similarities as it has differences, and as time wears on those will change as all things should.  What's the "black/African American experience?"  How should I know?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Sweet Caroline

"CLEAR!" the attending physician said sternly notifying the nurses to back away from the patient before fibrillating  her. The paddles sent a surge of electricity through her body, restarting her heart.  She'd just given birth to a healthy, five pound baby boy and was about to go home when she suffered a heart attack.  A cardiologist would tell her before discharging her that being in her mid 30s and being overweight had made her pregnancy risky and informed her that the history of heart disease in her family had caught up with her. She was told that the baby boy she was leaving the hospital with would be the LAST child she'd ever had. Her heart wouldn't be strong enough for her to carry another child to term. She went home devastated.

             Our mother, let's call her Caroline would have to learn to live with the heart condition she just become aware of, but before she truly could a family friend, drugged and raped her and she would learn weeks later that she was pregnant. Her cardiologist informed her that her pregnancy was essentially a death sentence.  Her options were: a. have a rapist's baby and die in the process or b. medically terminate the child that grew inside her so that she could be a mother to her two existing children. She knew a kind of pain that hopefully most of us will NEVER know.  Like Meryl Streep in "Sophie's Choice" she would suffer and regret whatever decision she made for the rest of her days.
         
             Before we look any further into Caroline's situation and how it was resolved, a few other facts need to be presented. Caroline was at the time unemployed and poor.  She was receiving food stamps and was on Medicaid. She needed an abortion and it was life or death. When the word "abortion" is mentioned a great American debate rises like a tsunami.  The image of irresponsible, impoverished minority teens comes to mind and the religious argument of a person becoming a person the moment a spermatozoa meets an egg and cell division begins. One side of the political fence paints all who would get an abortion as either amoral, irresponsible or both and wanting to get a free, surgical "do over" from the  government and their tax dollars by "killing a baby." What's rarely mentioned in that argument are women like Caroline who are victims of rape, or worse women who are victims of incestuous rape who find themselves pregnant. High risk pregnancies are also never mentioned.
             Many anti-abortion activists would simply tell a rape victim that the child she would have would be a "blessing from God" or to simply give him or her up for adoption. What about cases like Caroline's They're never mentioned

             Getting back to Caroline, she's not only unfortunate enough to be a rape victim who has learned she's pregnant with her rapist's child and that she has a  heart condition that would kill her should she have the child, she is also a poor woman in Texas where the laws governing abortion are strict and "moral".  Because politicians who feel all abortion is murder dominate Texas politics, there is NO public funding for any form of abortion. Caroline must go to friends, family & special charities set up for women like her and literally BEG for her life. Texas state law REQUIRES that she get an expensive ultrasound, despite the fact that she already KNOWS that she is with child and also that she look at it.
           Caroline managed to get the money and the procedure that saved her life, and spent a week in bed recuperating physically and emotionally, though whether or not she'll ever do the latter is debatable. Is she a bad person? Should we have laws on the books that tell Caroline to sacrifice herself for her unborn child? Can a childless man like myself ever truly understand the ordeal through which she suffered and should I or any man have the right to put on our religious blinders which permit no shades of grey so that we can judge people like Caroline? If ALL abortion was illegal as some in this country want, Caroline would be dead now. Her two children would be motherless and what moral truth would we have preserved in her demise?

         Caroline is a real person whose name I changed to protect her dignity and anonymity.  She is not the face of abortion many see when they pontificate about how immoral it is, but maybe she should be one of the people whom both sides of the debate should consider.

                

Friday, September 28, 2018

I Figure...(an updated "Modest Proposal")


     (OBVIOUS SATIRE)


Why is my hard earned money being dumped into schools that don't work? Secretary Devos says she'd get rid of public schools and I say she and president Trump are right! Let companies who want to open schools open 'em. As a country we're all about competition and that competition will make America even greater!
     The government running schools or anything else has a name, and that name is COMMUNISM! President Reagan proved that communism don't work when he won the cold war and defeated the Soviet Union all by himself.

        The "tax & spend" liberals like Nancy Pelosi want to waste more of my money on failing
schools. Hell, they even want all the schools to teach the same subjects so they can  do some kind of mind control. I don't want nobody in Washington D.C. tellin' me what MY kids ought to learn.
     Everybody knows that D.C. is controlled by Hollywood types who hate America, freedom and Jesus.  They're gonna want to teach that Muslims don't hate us, that men in dresses are "women", homos should get married and that the government should be able to take my guns away. You know the whole damn liberal agenda.

      I aint go to nobody's college and I turned out alright.  Hell, they don't do nothin' in college but read books anyway. Books are boring. If you aint talking about the Bible, aint nothing in books I need.  People who read books think they're better than everybody else anyway and all they know is what the liberal media and professors want them to know.  If they got rid of the liberal public school system I could teach my kids myself. Reading, writing and basic math are all they need to know. If they want to know history I'll tell 'em about the revolutionary war and how the whole country was behind George Washington fighting for freedom.
    I'll tell my kids how big government tried to over regulate small businessmen and brought us into a civil war that heroes like Robert E. Lee could have won if they had half the men the Union Army did.  The money
      
       I'm being forced to pay is being WASTED by people who took the bible out of school so they could tell my kids that sins against God are "normal" and we should "accept" and "tolerate" 'em. That money would do more good in my pocket. I could teach my kids useful stuff like fishing and things they can use in real life. You know, useful stuff like gapping your spark plugs or rebuilding a carburetor.  This country got to be great by kicking ass in wars not because a bunch of people read books and go to school. Aint nobody trying to keep everybody in school except them weak, socialist countries in Europe that need us to protect 'em and the Chinese.
     Hell if the Chinese were so great, they wouldn't be making all our shoes and phones and stuff. #MAGA

Monday, August 6, 2018

Ink out...

A friend of mine aspires to run his own small publishing company. Personally I aspire to be a published author of fiction.  Just imagine sitting across from Amy Tan, Stephen King, Arthur Golden & Khaled Hosseni and discussing plot twists and character development.  Seriously , How cool would that be? My pragmatic and bluntly honest friend (who shall remain nameless) told me that he thinks I'm a damn good writer. Let me preface this by saying that this guy does not hand out compliments. He says what he thinks and I've seen him make people cry.  The fact that I'm MUCH bigger than him wouldn't factor in as knowing this guy if he thought my work was garbage he'd most certainly tell me.
       He told me that while I might get published by someone other than a glorified vanity press in my lifetime several factors assure that it most certainly won't be the easiest thing. Here's his list and the explanations as to WHY:

RACISM: The publishing industry is NOT very kind to authors of color.  I'm sure someone just saw the word racism and immediately stood up and said "How DARE you" in that exaggerated way that people only seem to do in movies, but here's what I mean.
                   Feel free to substitute the words "Latino", "Asian" or "Native American" and I'm sure they may fit just as well.  I will NOT dispute that there ARE black authors and have been for centuries, but think about the kinds of things they're allowed to publish.  While film maker Oscar Micheaux did self publish a few novels. On the whole publishers back in the old days, just as today didn't have the highest opinions of black readers or authors. Publishers want black stories from black authors, meaning our protagonist must be black and the story has to be in some way about the black experience or some struggle we must overcome as black people. If it isn't a "black struggle" it has to be seen as a way of "humanizing" blacks to a liberal white readership who wish to know of our journey pushing cars up hill with ropes because society has decided that we are destined to endure hardships.
              What if you're an author of color and your protagonist isn't? Then chances are publishers aren't the least bit interested in you. Apparently The only people who CAN write believable characters of a given ethnic group must BELONG to the aforementioned group unless of course the author is white in WHICH case he's a sensitive artist who understands the struggle of society's outcasts. Someone not familiar with me reading this will more than likely say that I'm probably either a racist, a bad writer or just someone incapable of accepting that the things he writes might not POSSIBLY be WORTH either publishing or reading.  Fair enough. Those same people will then point out that Richard Wright and James Baldwin succeeded in being published. I'd then recommend "Black Boy", "Native Son", "The Fire Next Time" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain" to illustrate my point about black writers ONLY being allowed to tell "black" stories.
              My indignant critic would then bring up masterful writers like Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, & Toni Morrison among others to prove my ignorance and those amazing crafters of fiction bring me to my next point.

SEXISM: Publishing fiction in the late 20th century if you're a person of color seems a tad easier if you were born with a uterus.  Angry, black feminists are preparing to attack me on this one but my defense is as follows: Women are far smarter and rational than men are. Society (of which the publishing industry is part) would rather deal with women than men. A male dominated society at some point decided that certain work places needed to be more female than male due to the misconception that women are far less to be disagreeable.  Look at the workplace at the end of the civil rights movement and with the rise of Affirmative action programs. MANY work places when told to diversify i.e. hire more women AND minorities simply hired female minorities leaving men of color in the dust.
          E.g. The AMC Series "Mad Men" took place in a New York ad agency during the sixties. Some rival firm posted an ad saying that the firm around which the show centered was hiring people of color. In the next scene a very timid English man walks into an office filled with professionally dressed black men and women eager to enter the monochromatic setting and the first thing he did was tell the men to go home and simply interviewed women.  Black women are some of the most intelligent people on the planet and the publishing industry seemed to buy into the narrative that the black community is run entirely by matriarchs as all black men either abandon our children, get shot & killed committing crimes or simply are incarcerated and can't be there for our children; hence, the women must tell our stories. As a black man raised by his married mother and father I can't begin to tell you how offensive that stereotype is.
       I hear a mounting chorus of "There have been and still are black male authors! You have no idea what you're talking about!" I'll go on a limb here and say that if you've read a work by a black male author he's EITHER a politician about to run for president, an athlete, an entertainer or a convicted felon.  Books by rappers, athletes and ex cons will get printed because apparently publishers think the only thing in the black male wheelhouse are those skills. The last barrier to a man of color being published?

Homophobia: This one MAY surprise you a tad, as in this case the presumptions about gay men will GET a gay black man published before his heterosexual counterpart. I could see the blood pressure of readers rise as they read that and before I get accused of generalizing, the stereotype has long been that gay men are more creative than heterosexual men. Some are, but there are heterosexual men like Ralph Lauren who would respectfully disagree.
          Let me go on record in saying I have respect for the gay community ESPECIALLY the black gay community. The black community as a whole is pretty conservative religiously and amazingly homophobic. Black gay men have to deal with issues within their own families, churches and peer groups before dealing with the racism that many try to pretend doesn't exist in the gay community.  As a heterosexual man I can't pretend I know what that's like and can only go from what friends have told me, but from what I've seen if you're a black gay man with a story to tell in fiction, you'll have a better chance at it than I will.  Publishers have just started to see the struggle that gays have endured for thousands of years and want to give gays a voice. I have no issue with this as their stories warrant being told, but are publishers and the literary community treating gay men the same way they treated black intellectuals like Langston Hughes & James Baldwin (both of whom were gay) as brilliant novelties? I'd hate to imagine them suffering that indignation.

In closing, my friend the aspiring publisher told me not to lose hope in spite of these obstacles as he pointed out that Herman Melville wrote one of the greatest novels ever written, it was barely published and wasn't appreciated until nearly before he died.  One never knows which book will be a hit and which won't. Who knows, I might wind up like Stieg Larsson and have someone publish my work to have it become an international best seller AFTER I die! One never knows. Do I write for fortune and fame? Hardly, if I did I would have given up long ago as I have neither of these things.  Someone once told me that Stephen King said that if he didn't write, he'd be in a clock tower somewhere with a rifle. Writers simply have to put words on a page, it's the essence of their being. On the off chance that this blog goes viral, and people at big publishing houses read it some would say I've shot my hopes of ever being in black and white in the foot. Well, as I'm not being currently offered any NEA grants, writing fellowships or book deals and literary agents aren't currently knocking on my door I can hardly cry over losing the notoriety which I don't have and can only hope that if any of the big publishing houses DO read this that they take that which I've said here with a grain of salt unless they're perfectly happy printing celebrity cook books and books containing celebrity selfies, purses and pets.