A wannabe writer…
So there I was, a wannabe writer with on one hand a conviction that only the truth was worth telling and then on the other recognizing a sociopathic need for conformity from the top down in my society.
So I made my truth small. I focused on myself. America was getting herself worked up to elect Obama like a fake orgasm of social justice but I didn’t stick around to witness the disappointment. No I went to Mexico to lay roses on my grandmother’s grave and keep working on my own story.
I kept growing stronger.
There are so many spinning plates in the news I don’t know if we have a strong collective memory of Obama’s mandate. But I remember. It was an anti-war election. It was an anti-authoritarian executive election. It was a referendum on the flaming shit show that was the George Jr presidency.
And of course he gave everyone a pass, refusing to “look backwards” as he said and bailing out the banks before going on to prosecute more whistleblowers and escalating more foreign conflicts than his predecessors.
The hypocrisy was becoming unbearable. I’d come back from Mexico with 50 pages of a novel written, an immigrant story based on the effects of NAFTA on both sides of the border. But it just didn’t interest me as much as the dominant narrative of injustice.
That’s me coming back from Mexico as the “prodigal son” with flowers for my mom because she doesn’t understand why I can’t just be normal. To my right is Brother Benson, who’s pretty much known me my whole life. He met my folks when I was just born.
My mom was an orphan, my dad lost his own father before they had me. Brother Benson’s as much of a grandpa as I’ve had. He said I was going to be a preacher as well. I didn’t agree with everything he’d say. But he’s a good man. I know this because he’d counsel my folks when they fought. He was slow to anger, I never saw him get angry. He was a hard worker.
He had a word.
Barry is an asshole. Look at the picture above. That’s not a smile, that’s a sneer, we’ve just forgotten how to tell the difference.
There’s a difference between cool and cold.
He increased racial tensions by having race be the only substance to the discussion. That’s what they mean by Obama being racist. He used his race as a gimmick, just like my line about someone sleeping with a jew. By using his identity to further his own ambition in such a shallow way he merely used the concept of race, with all of its complex baggage and history, as another political tactic. Obama didn’t invent this trick, but his approach to it hardly broke from tradition.
There’s a difference between illuminating the black experience and cashing it in.
Besides, mutts like me are the first to point out that race has always been more of a political than a scientific classification. He might as well have been adhering to the one drop doctrine. But we also were desperate I guess. Which probably makes his political opportunism worse in hindsight…
Maybe you don’t agree with me. I get heated. I’m not a genius, I only get 95% of the answers right remember. But I think enough time has passed to acknowledge that Obama let us all down.
It’s just that those of us who were paying attention have been let down for a little bit longer. So I tried to turn my frustration into something positive. I made art. I wrote. I took speeches from historic figures that I felt contained wisdom worth sharing and put them to inspirational music.
And then I listened to those songs, because I needed inspiring.
You know what it was? It was that shitty horse at the grocery store that you put a quarter in as a child and you get on once and then you never do it again. Because for some reason it looks awesome every time you pass it. But it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t go anywhere.
It’s not a real animal and it’s not even a real toy.
Obama was a way to keep us distracted while the adults went shopping.
Didn’t land any freelance writing gigs though, so I also pretended to work at my parents business between trips back to the Bay Area, every now and then making them some money by accident.
Around this time I developed my concept of tools vs toys. Tools multiply labor, toys waste it.
In a world of abundance our cultural obsession with toys helped explain the current situation. It also served as a warning sign for myself.
No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings, as Kennedy said. If we’re focused on them, that is. In order for our world to maintain its disrepair in the face of increased efficiency, it made sense that labor would have to be systematically wasted. So I started to document the promoted distractions.
And I marked down every person and organization that told me to get on that shitty fake horse ride and took them off my list of people who’s judgement I could trust.
Have you made your list yet?
You should probably start, while we still have an honest historical record. Barry’s done. His actions are set. Judge the man against his word. Did he match his rhetoric?
How does that make you feel?
Well it made me feel like getting drunk and then I got a DUI. So don’t do that.
Actually I blame the Lakers.
And after some reflection myself. I needed to change my lifestyle.
So I found an ad for a job with Greenpeace in Manhattan and jumped on a plane.
It’s not the size of the tree as they say… it was a cold, humbling first New York winter. All the writing and books were left back in California.
I was too much in my head. I was growing bitter and in danger of jumping off bridges. I needed to live. I needed balance.
I needed a relationship.
So I did what self-respecting adults ten years ago did to get laid.
I went on craigslist.
This is where the Shazz vs David dichotomy started to come up. I was David in my public life, but my email I used for everything including my dating life now was this Shazz, Shazzbar, or just SHAZZBARBARIC.
And I didn’t want to give it up. Once I secured a relationship with the new Shazz name, the girl telling me I looked more like Shazz, that settled it. I was Shazz the writer in a serious relationship with a beautiful creative intelligent and equally impulsive partner for the first time in my life.
I would change my name as soon as I sold my first book project, I told myself. So we moved back to the Bay Area to work on that project. Because if I was going to consider actually settling down with this girl I had to share Big Sur with her. I had to share my version of beauty and happiness.
She packed a suitcase full of shoes and asked me where were all the streetlights. It was an adjustment.
But I was in love.
It was winter of 2009-10. We had jobs in Berkeley, where I’d lived for a couple months back when I was fresh out of the Army and always meant to return. Even if it’s not the current activist hub, there’s an energy in the air and natural beauty that makes you feel alive.
So we ended up subletting an apartment on Spaulding from Regina Spektor’s cousin funny enough. The night we met she recommended a book over a hand rolled cigarette that read like a workout, where once you finish you can go right back to the beginning and start over for the next level of understanding. Mental heavy lifting, philosophy as art.
I had a girl I was considering putting a ring on. So I made plans to jump into the family business, albeit in my own way, and start an insurance agency in Northern California. The art, although our initial spark, was going to have to take a backseat to reality.
While Sha worked at a local health clinic as a receptionist I sat home smoking multiple strains of medical grade marijuana – free samples from recently made friends in return for my opinion of their quality – and I collected data into spreadsheets from the California government motor carrier permit sites.
I was maturing, right? Time to put those childish things away if I wanted to start a family. As mom said, she also liked Che Guevera when she was young, until that bastard Fidel killed him because he was jealous. She had her ideas. But she also was a hard worker, both my parents were. Self-made independent entrepreneur Republicans. My dad’s never been on disability even though he’s epileptic.
Pride in yourself and your abilities over handouts.
I had learned a couple tricks on how to build a sales pipeline while working for my folks. Some of my clients still brought them decent commissions. And I knew it all first started with a good database of leads. Commercial trucking was where the money was near a port like Oakland, one of the busiest in the world.
So I got high and worked on the foundations of my nascent business while my girl held down the bills.
And then, sitting at home with my unlimited free weed and hours of busy work, I watched a documentary on Hulu about “Granny D,” an old lady who walked across the country to raise political awareness.
Funny enough, that documentary was free on Hulu back then but now I can’t find it anywhere online. I couldn’t even find a valid source for the Iraqi boy who lost an eye I posted further up when I was ranting about Obama through a reverse image search.
The internet has changed over these last 8 years.
But back to the story, I was starting to get my own ideas again.
Non-commercial insurance ideas.
Our cultural tools were multiplying as well as our toys. Youtube was sold to Google a year and a half after it’s invention for $1.65B. Cameras were taking videos, good videos. People were becoming empowered.
Perhaps now the truth could outrun deceit.
I’ve always felt that if you slow down your mind the answer will come to you.
Just like all writing is editing, the answer is defined by what’s left.
Yeah I annoyed my friends. But I felt like I was onto something.
California was having an election. Jerry Brown, the former Governor and son of a previous one wanted to run again. I had read enough by then to start focusing on power structures, and how the same people seemed to stay at the top.
When you’re young you want a single big boss to fight. But as you gain wisdom and experience you realize that evil in its most malicious form isn’t a concentrated poison but a diluted one, the kind that doesn’t kill immediately but slowly cripples.
Perhaps that is why our collective consciousness latches onto these Hamlet figures haunted by the ghosts of historic tragedies we’ve never been able to contextualize, rejecting friend lover and mother in suicidal self-explorations.
But then Don Quixote was able to achieve a measure of honesty, peace and even fame, although admittedly he used the tools of delusion to attain them.
I’d like to think this was because Cervantes was a soldier, an honorable one, and so he knew the real consequences to false words, for better or for worse.
Shakespeare merely made cuckolds of his crowds.
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