Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Last night, January 28th, Leslie Marmon Silko read selections from three different pieces: Almanac of the Dead (1991), Ceremony (1977), and Chapolin’s Portrait. The event was held at The University of Arizona’s Modern Languages building. Every month, “The Vine Deloria, Jr. Distinguished Indigenous Scholars Series” has a guest speaker, and on this night, Silko was the honoree. (For a listing of upcoming guest speakers Click Here). Silko was born in 1948 in Albuquerque but grew up in Laguna Pueblo. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Mexico in 1969. Some of her awards include: National Endowment for the Arts award, 1974; the Pushcart prize in 1977; and the MacArthur Foundation grant in 1983. She is very well known in the literary world for being a key name in the Indigenous literary cannon. Her appearance on this night was more of a dedication and honoring of the late Vine Deloria Jr., whom she says was one of her greatest inspirations in becoming a writer.
Silko began the night by paying homage to two books that left her amazed when she was in her early 20’s: “Custer Died for Your Sins” by Vine Deloria Jr., and “House Made of Dawn” by N. Scott Momaday. She seemed a little nervous, maybe emotional, since she announced it was the first time she was going to acknowledge Vine Deloria’s death. Five minutes into her speaking, you could tell she feels enraged at the injustices Indigenous people have suffered for over 500 years. She made comments about the Influenza of 1918 that killed over 40 million people, the hopelessness in having Sheriff Arpaio in office, and how in 1948, New Mexico and Arizona did not allow Indigenous peoples to vote in state elections.
Besides the controversial topics she touched on, Silko also shared her gentle wisdom for everything living. She honored us with a couple of Native traditions on befriending animals of all kinds. For example, she recalled putting cotton balls by the windowsill as a child, so that flies would stay there instead of swarming around the house. Her people cherished all animals, she said. Also, if there happened to be an army of ants scavenging for food, she would put some food outside to feed them, eliminating the problem without death or sprays of some sort. Lastly, when Silko read from a newer short story titled “Chapolin’s Portrait,” we learned about a friendship she built with a multi-colored, over-sized cricket in her Tucson Mountain’s home. The cricket dies as summer comes to an end, but instead of mourning, Silko decides to keep the cricket alive through a colored pencil portrait.
Her voice held a consistent mixture of humility, excitement, and compassion. Her speech was genuine, her wisdom inspiring, and her frustrations admirable. The reading was a free event, with a reception afterwards that allowed her many fans that showed up, the chance to meet her and get an autograph.
I’ll start this blog by letting everyone know that I do not think I am better than anyone else and I feel sympathetic to those in horrible situations. This is more of a rant than anything else. I also do not think that this applies to everyone in rough neighborhoods.
This blog idea came from watching a couple of videos on worldstar hip hop about so called “unsigned hype.” Now I’m speaking as a fan of hip hop, not as an emcee trying to get on. I was watching videos that endorse gang initiation, drug using and distributing, and plain old negative hustling in general. Before I continue, let me make things clear. I am a complete advocate of doing what you have to do in order to feed and protect your family. I understand that some people deem it fit to hustle in order to pay the bills, but when you’re hustling to be able to take you and all your boys to the strip club and to buy an arsenal that can infiltrate a small country just because the “streets are tough” is just ridiculous. The streets are tough because of all the hostility that we ourselves create.
I also understand the formation of gangs. People want to fit in. There are plenty of wolves out there and you must protect yourself and your loved ones from harm, but when a dude is wearing a given color shirt and he gets attacked for it, that’s as ignorant as shit can get. There are so many other things that can be done with the formation of gangs instead of robbing, stealing, killing, etc. Organize fundraisers, supervise parks, help an old lady cross the street, I don’t know. By becoming killers and ignorant humans in society all we are doing is making it easier for the intellectuals and power hungry politicians to elevate while we fall into the abyss. With every “w@zz g0oD!” we slowly become more of the dumb creatures society shapes us to be. Plenty of times have I asked people what the last book they read and the reply was either a laugh or a “last book I read was Moby Dick in high school, some shit about a whale.”
I’m not saying reading will pay your bills, or that their aren’t intelligent people in rough neighborhoods, I’m saying that whenever their is a smart one in a group of dumb fucks he/she gets outcasted as a “nerd.” I mean, I’m guilty of doing this. I was also the nerd in several different groups. Cutting class, drinking on a corner, looking at other dudes with angry eyes and women with the spirit of a porn star seemed much more desirable than reading, studying, paying attention in class and lending a helping hand. Why though? Why is being a dumbass attractive in society? Why is it that when conscious rappers try to spread wisdom they get no shine or get classified as “underground”? Questions, Questions, Questions.
Hip-Hop has a lot to do with it. A LOT. Most of these mainstream artist talk about money, gangs, and women in ways that only makes us want it… BAD. Every other song has to deal with spending, and making tons of money, so the dude that makes $10/hr feels miserable. These artist are our role models. We see videos of these ugly looking dudes with fine fine fine women and we treat decent looking women like shit or think that all the girls are gonna get into thongs and dance for us… NOT HAPPENING. Every group has to be a gang or a unit or a military or soldiers….all fighting the wrong war. So when the few that do question the music scene, or the media shows (coughs Jersey Shore) we get called “Haters.” If you forget… we are all entitled to our own fucking opinions so everything I’m saying isn’t right or wrong but merely an opinion from a dude who sits down and thinks.
Now.. as an up-coming emcee I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of artists and people who are fighting the right war. The war against stupidity… the war for lyricism.. the war against secrecy, corruption and ignorance. This specific blog is a textual toast to those I know and those I don’t know. Special shout outs to all the emcees, producers, directors, musicians, bookworms, philosophers, promoters, managers, and everyone else who plays their part.
I’m not saying I have the right answers, I’m just seeing the wrong solutions
That’s it for now morons…
Monday, January 11, 2010
Well for starters, thank you for stopping by my blog. It's currently 1:52 in the morning and I just woke up from a dream about an experiment. Call it a manifesto, call it insanity, call it whatever the fuck. The main goal of this experiment is to get to know a little bit about random strangers. I figure it will be hard to convince people to stand around with me for five minutes and answer random questions, but it definitely should be fun. I figured I'd post the videos on a weekly basis maybe every couple of days and I hope the word spreads fast. Since I am currently in Tucson, Arizona, all of the interviews are done here (unless noted otherwise). I expect to write a small introduction to how and why I decided to interview the people I did. The experiment will not be on any kind of bias. I don't care how they look. Think of it like "eeny meeny miny mo," except a bit more sophisticated (I hope).
You might be asking "Why would I care to listen to what some random person has to say?" If you are asking yourself this question... try licking your elbows. What I'm trying to say is... instead of wondering what a celebrity does or wears or whatever the fuck people wonder about, remember they are normal people too, just like the people you will meet in this blog.