Main | September 2005 »

ebogjonson's August 2005 archive

August 21, 2005

ported dreams, dec_01-mar_02

[from my pen and paper journals just before I left NYC for Cambridge]

Dream - 3/17/02

Dreamt I was planning a bank robbery. The targeted bank is a small, flat, window-less cinder of a building, reminiscent of a Jehovah`s Witness Kingdom Hall or a funeral home. The robbery is going to be committed by me, Jim and two other people. We practice it over and over, and I`m feeling confident until a fifth member joins us (Arul?). He asks many, many questions about my plan, asks the right questions. I have answers, but he gets me thinking. What if I have made a mistake? What if there`s a flaw in the plan? I don`t want my friends to get killed and I don`t want to get caught. When the day of the robbery comes things don`t feel right so I abort the robbery. I can`t tell whether I`m being cautious or timid.

The dream changes. A few months have passed and I am hiding out in an apartment in some generic projects. I remember planning the robbery, but don`t remember what happened. I walk around my cramped, dingy one bedroom trying to remember what went down. Did we get the money? Did anyone get killed? Why am I hiding? About then I notice there`s a dismembered body in my apartment. There are piles of tightly sealed garbage bags all over the place and each one contains a limb or organ. There's no smell because of the care taken in sealing the bags, but the sacks are heavy with liquid, the contents soft and jelly.

Who the fuck did I kill or get killed? Where is my money?

I decide to get rid of the parts before any smell or rot seeps out of the bags. I consider melting the parts in lye in the bathtub, but am concerned about the stink and gore. I think about moving it piece by piece to the dumpster but worry that someone will see me, discover the corpse. I think about all the movies I`ve seen where someone is trying to dispose of a body but all the depicted methods seem stupid when carefully reviewed. I stare out the project window at the kids standing on the basketball court, consider my options.

Dream - 2/12/02

Dreamt Jim showed me a short film he`d directed. It`s an action comedy about Asian-American teens, shot in the style of an HK action flick. It`s good, real good and seeing it makes me feel old and envious.

The screening takes place in an airport. Cole and Natasha come through. Natasha is impressed by Jim`s film, Cole is noncommittal. Nicky is with him, and we are introduced as if we have never met.

I also run into my father, who tries to get me to wait with him for two arriving passengers. I refuse. It turns out the couple he is waiting for is a bourgie black couple I know from Yale. I can`t imagine how my father could possibly have ended up greeting them at the airport, but I don't like the idea of him being their driver.

[EBOG's NOTE: The female half of the couple had, in her youth, been voted one of the four (or was it five?) most beautiful incoming black Yale freshwomen by the watchful junior/senior Kappas who kept track of such things at that time. She actually was one of the most beautiful women I had seen until then, but in a strangely still way that suggested a kind of sacrificial willingness to sit motionless in the cross-hairs of male desire. I remember catching a lucky, alcohol-fueled break and fooling around with her freshman year, this followed by almost a decade of sexual tension on the increasingly rare occasions that our distinct slices of black a Yale/NYC touched or overlapped. When she married her climbing clown of a husband I remember being washed over by an unexpected wave of disgust. In college we had joked about moving to France and making movies. I would direct and she would be my muse/star. (Did all this happen while we sat in the dining hall conjugating French homework? Idle language exercises suddenly finding unexpected application?) She had insisted at the time that it had to be a blockbuster and that I had to cast [MALE NAME] as her love interest, [MALE NAME] being an odd, incognegro that for some reason had caught her fancy. I had agreed to both terms immediately and without reservation. Starlets are to be allowed their fancies, I figured, because muses and directors had different, deeper, potentially sacrosanct connections. As for the question of the opening weekend, that went in one ear and out the other. I was 17 at the time and wouldn't give serious thought to such matters until I was 30. When she married the climbing clown it occurred to me that she had really meant it when she had intimated (in so many words) that she would willingly make herself the object of a man's creative focus, that she would sit there and be beautiful in exchange for a big enough marquee. The climbing clown is a climbing clown, but he has made her the star of a fine and long-running drama popular among the Black American moneyed-classes, i.e., The Tale of the Black Ivy Leaguers and their Architecturally Significant Brownstone.]

I tell my Dad he should just let [FEMALE NAME] and her husband take a cab, that they can certainly afford it. He tells me that for the life of hime he just can't understand why I'd be so rude to another black Yalie.

George Bush II arrives at the airport while I am arguing with my father. I try to leave the terminal, walking upstream through the crowd of soldiers and functionaries. My dream POV is shaky and hand-held, agitated. As I make my exit I walk past a midget marching band setting up. Bush drives by in a golf cart. He is short, reddish and driving himself. He looks, it goes without saying, like a clown.

Dream - 1/22/02

Dreamt I was in a Vegas-y midtown. I am either hanging out with an old homeless woman, or I am an old homeless woman. The homeless lady that I may or may not be is going on and on about the funny thing that happens when she lies down on the concrete to sleep. Sometimes the city looks like ugly she says, like teeth, but when she rests her head on her arm just so the city looks like Amsterdam. Arul appears suddenly. He tells the old woman\me that her priorities are all fucked up. Forget arm or no arm he says. Get the fuck up off the floor.

Dream - 1/19/02

Dreamt I was at work, only the office is a classroom. Instead of desks we all work at chair/tabletop combos. [NAME CHANGE] is giving some kind of lecture by a white board. As he gesticulates and enthuses I keep thinking: this man is not a grown-up. I look around the room wanting to know where the real teacher is.

I am not paying much attention to the lecture so I find myself getting a public dressing down about my attitude problem. I'm annoyed, but have to admit that I am acting like a sullen little shit, adolescent and eye-rolley. Except for annoyance at the public nature of the rebuke, I don`t feel terribly bad or concerned about my behavior. The situation in the office/classroom doesn`t seem real to me. It feels like play-acting, perhaps a re-enactment of a scene from a John Hughes movie, The Breakfast Club or Weird Science.

One lecture ends and another begins. The new lecturer wants us to re-organize our chairs so that we sit in a circle. I decide to sit on the floor at [WOMAN`S NAME THAT IS NOT THE NAME OF MY 2002 GIRLFRIEND]`s feet. She is wearing very nice, shiny Jimmy Choo boots and a shortish denim skirt. I am leaning against her, the back of my head on her exposed knees. She is massaging my scalp, digging her fingers into the center mass of my locks. She does this offhandedly while listening to the lecture, a slight, sleepy smile on her face. Every now and then she taps a pen against the crown of my head like I'm a pad or notebook. Blank, I am, wondering if she will write something on me. I lean farther back into her hands and her fingers and settle against her like a sigh. I think to myself: This is not a bad place to be sitting. When I wake up, I feel bereft, think that perhaps I should be crying. I feel ghost fingers in my hair and a tightness in my chest for days every time I see her in the office.

Dream - 12/29/01

Dreamt I was Nelson Mandela. He/me has just delivered some sort of speech, and as I am getting into my limo, I run into an old college roommate. He was a drama student and he is now a successful South African sitcom actor. I flashback to our old apartment\dorm. It is ratty, small, collegiate.

Flash forward. We reminisce and decide to have a drink. We go to several bars, including now unrecognizable college haunts. Gentrification has filled them with white people, liberal white college kids who are "honored" to be having a pint with Nelson Mandela. They get on our nerves, and me and my old roommate are carried away with nostalgia, start a bar fight. My presidential bodyguards materialize, intervene, break it up. We`re so old, the bodyguards have to carry us back into the limo. I look at the guards, embarassed that I have dreamt Nelson Mandela into such an undignified, un-Mandela-like circumstance, but they wink at me, assure me that my roommate and I could have taken those Boer fucks easy. It occurs to me that the guards don't just work for Mandela, that they love him with the fierce tenderness of children protecting a parent. This realization moves me to happy\sad tears: I feel happy for Nelson, sad for Gary.

The dream changes. Now I am a junior member of the US Congress. I am in Brooklyn riding a Manhattan-bound green line train with two ranking Republicans. I don't know where we are going, but I feel like I've been tricked into participating in some kind of bullshit collegial exercise, the dedication of a highway perhaps. I avoid eye contact with the rest of the riders, don't want anyone to think I am with the Republicans by choice.

One of the Republicans is a crazy, right-wing Cuban lady from Miami who keeps crawling and cavorting on the subway car floor. There is something vaguely MILFish about her, so even though I don't want anyone to think I subscribe to her politics I wonder briefly whether this might turn into a sex dream. I consider then discard the possibility. She is plainly pretty and well-preserved, and rather nicely poured into a maroon, polyester pants-suit, but the way she keeps crawling on the subway floor disturbs me. I wonder if she's been infected by some kind of virus.

As we approach the river and the last Brooklyn stop another motive for our trip begins to emerge: Some sort of disaster has brought us together. 9/11 goes unmentioned. We are on an express train, and when I check one of the stops for the local the other Republican - a very red faced Midwesterner - asks if I wish I were traveling with Democrats. "New times call for new solutions," he says. He seems sincere but I still wish he would stop talking to me in front of the other riders.

I shout at him: "I'm only doing this because of what happened." He laughs at me.

"Sure," he says.

I get off the train at Astor Place. The congresswoman gets off with me but the other Republican stays on the train. It turns out I am going to meet an ex-girlfriend instead of going with the Congresspeople. The crazy Cuban woman scoffs, tells me I need to move on, says I should come with her instead. It occurs to me that she is propositioning me. She looks better, less insane when standing upright, but the talcum powder between her cleavage looks like it has picked up dust and dinge from the subway floor. I beg off and she stalks towards the East Village, angry.

I go to the café where I'm supposed to meet my ex. My ex has blown me off at this very spot several times, and she does it again. As I wait for her, though, the dream develops a split-screen and I'm able to watch her hurry through a game attempt to meet me. I see her dressing, putting on make-up, looking for a babysitter. She is trying to call me to tell me she is running late, but the minutes on her cell, which I used to pay for before she became my ex, have run out. She looks at the phone incredulous, as if only just realizing that I have stopped paying her bill. The dream becomes a close up of her face. She's wearing a lot of make-up, dramatic eyes, high gloss Mac lipstick. I note with a mix of cruel pleasure and disquiet that she seems haggard, used-up. She keeps glaring at her dead cell, angry, but also grudgingly impressed that I have asserted myself by not paying her bill. Just then I think the crazy thought that if I had slapped her more than the once (the only time I ever hit a woman and the main reason I left), we'd still be together, trapped in an endless constricting (but unbroken) cycle of sin, debt, and shame. We'd end up like a doomed addict couple, bound by a craving not for rock but for the grim, intense high of having our ever sinking expectations (of each other, of the opposite sex) met.

Her preparations start to falter. I'm annoyed that she is going to blow me off again, but I have to concede that she tried. She made an effort to meet me. When the she gives up completely her side of the split screen collapses. I sit in the cafe anyway, enjoying two cafe-au-laits and a perfectly buttery and flakey croissant, dreaming of breakfast just before I wake.

[EnD]

Posted by ebogjonson in dream logplaces at 8:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 19, 2005

moving

[the following was written yesterday and posted today. Which means today's post will likely be coming tomorrow.]

Getting ready for the big move LaLaish next week. The last five or so days have been marked by an inclining line of smallish detail and repetitive action - paying movers, turn-off calls, filling containers, throwing out trash, packing, post-packing - the peak/crescendo coming this morning with the near-simultaneous arrival and departure of the flatbed conveying my containers west. I watched the truck leave and then stood on my soon-to-be ex-sidewalk for an uncomfortable while wondering what I should be feeling, but the best I could come up with was "empty." Between the packing and the long good-byes (to a live TiVo, for example, and Mike and me's project to watch every episode of Angel) I hadn't sleep all night, and as I stumbled off to Mike's to crash (my own bed being gone) I felt disoriented, disembodied, weightless.

Except for the trash on the floor, all my shit is gone. I kept thinking this on the short walk to Mike's. I am completely fucking shitless.

Moving always inspires unpleasant confrontations of the me-on-me sort. I have no reckoning of the hours I've put into contemplating yellowed scraps of paper, but they must number in the dozens. Each scrap was not so much a record as a branching where I was asked to choose between literally shredding the past and wallowing in it. Documents related to youthful financial indiscretion were the most powerful talismans, as were the physical traces of the proverbial pussy hunt. Old receipts, unpaid bills, scary tax documents, collection notices for accounts (ATT celly?) I forgot I had, the transcript of my brief and incomplete brush with graduate education, emphatic letters from long-gone lovers, manuscripts, drafts - whether shredded or piled they comprised a not-so-thin layer of detritus left over from a kind of negative New Years, a non-celebration honoring a pernicious strain of memory where the past lingers in perpetuity as debilitating anti-possibility.

Contemplating the draft documents was a whole special kind of hard. Why do I have so many drafts? I wish the answer was "because I'm a writer," but the hermetic nature of my output suggests quite the opposite. I'm actually a hoarder, a lexical retentive who shits out literal piles of it in order to better fill the bottom of desk drawers. In the last few days I've held in my hands two short novels, maybe ten stories, card stacks for at least six screenplays. All of it unpublished/unshot, of course. Who knew I had been so fruitlessly productive? Some of this shit is so old, it's printed in dot matrix on perforated paper and comes topped off by now incomprehensible headers identifying long-disappeared printer locations, the printer at the old 824 Broadway Village Voice building, for example. There's a Virgin and a multiplex at 824 now, has been for years.

Now that the moving is done, I think it'll be good to get the fuck out of here and perform another memory purge in LA. (I packed the shredder.) I'm infinitely grateful to Cambridge/MA for being the place where I met Ingrid and Mike, and I'm glad for the many, many other amazing people this place brought into my life. Still, I can't say that I'll look back to the last three years as much more than an interregnum, a transitional zone where I sat back a bit and let some of the lies I'd been telling myself about my career run their course and collapse. The day-job I had here is ultimately what taints this place. The more late nights I put into my gig, the more I sacrificed, the more my ascent was linked to constructive engagement with organizations/persons I had previously found objectionable, the more the gig itself became a matter of interpreting fickle organizational mandates (as opposed to following core creative or ethical precepts) - well, the more of all that, and the more hollowed out I was becoming. What will likely endure feels less than the sum of my recent effort: a few sterling lines added to my resume, an impressive salary history, a raft of lessons learned, a more-than-passing acquaintance with the great crack of mediocrity that runs like an active fault-line through the world and (by virtue of an awful distributive property) myself.

Fuck it. What I need to do is to accept the gifts of this time (friends, the lady, the man's money in my pocket) and learn its lessons (bought-out corporate negroes are boring, white corporate negroes are worse; strive to work for self or for the undeniably like minded; speak and lead under my own steam and in my own name, as opposed to with/under the sign system of the various media machines) without wallowing in the oddly soothing pleasure of scab-picking. Which means fuck this too, i.e., this posting, or at the very least the tone/modality this posting represents. These words are a form of dangerous and constricting self-abuse (auto-asphyx without the eros), and now that I've adequately indulged myself - look at the time! - it's off to the enormous room to see some people I like and will greatly miss. These are people who will tell me to stop whinging when they read these words, people who tonight will stare brightly into my face to ask/demand if I'm excited about my move. Their belief in the world's possibilities will beam out at me like a searchlight. They've (god know why) decided that I'm a reliable mirror for their faith, and I'll not dishonor them or it by blah-blah-blahing the shit on my floor into an existential metaphor.

It's just the most banal of facts, really. There's inevitably some shit left on the floor when you move, doubly so when you like to keep things and think about them. No more and no less.

Posted by ebogjonson in brain maintenancecity of angelsplaces at 5:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

new kid in town

the lady has a blog.

Posted by ebogjonson in blogish at 1:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

August 9, 2005

a few notes on editing and revision

Two confessions:

A - I'm a compulsive tinkerer. Nothing ever feels right or finished to me, especially after it's supoosed to have been right or finished. Of course, like most things, my tinkering runs hot then gets a little cold. (Picture candle-wax being shaped and sculpted.)

B - I have a kind of editorial color-blindness, by which I mean I don't fully "see" my own writing unless it's been made external to me via some form of actual and public publishing. I can make all the print-outs in the world, hit preview till my fingers bleed and I will still miss all kinds of writing and thinking problems. Until a reader actually exists who is truly external to me I have a hard time imagining him or her, making me a fairly lousy self-editor and potentially a worse marketer. Get me on the newstand or on the public server, though, and I am about three times smarter than I was before the circuit closed.

(In so much as I can explain these behaviors, I think it has to do with the fact that shame is likely the strongest interactive force in my personal grand unification theory, meaning that unless I am at risk of some kind of public exposure I'm kind of lazy. But that's for another post.)

The above confessions are obviously a song sung in praise of editors, and I thank the Holy Virgin for them every waking moment of my miserable writerly life. Unfortuantely (and you know where this is going), ebogjonson.com has no editor except for me and (by extension) those of you kind enough to write in and tell me exactly what the fuck it is I'm doing wrong.

This is a problem.

One way that I've been dealing with this problem is to spend a few minutes every day changing already existing posts. Besides presenting a practical problem for the reader (sorry, that thing I asked you to read last week? That was the wrong thing. You should have read this thing.) this practice makes me feel a little ethically queasy. While I have zero issues with making my language stronger from here until kingdom come, I do feel honor bound to cop to factual errors as well as changes that have been motivated by the observations/ripostes of readers and colleagues.

I've looked around at blogs I like, but haven't found a solution or convention that satisfies me. Since I'm fairly new at this I know I'm probably missing an obvious and already extant motherlode of guidelines on this question and I eagerly await the world's instruction.

In the interim, though, I thought I'd cobble together the following temporary/evolving set of guidelines to govern my editing and revising behavior and make them public:

ebogjonson's temporary/evolving guidelines

1 - Any time I update a post after publish I'll flag it in the title with the date of the update. I don't intend to adopt finer resolution on the flag than date because I don't envision being able to return to posts on a shorter cycle. (But I'll keep an eye on my habits and adjust the convention with a timestamp if needed.)

2 - Any factual error will be left in the posting but get a strike-through, followed by the correct information and an [EDITOR'S NOTE: XXXX] explaining the error if needed and crediting dude that brought it to my attention.

3 - Simple word changes, grammar fixes, point modulations, nuances added/deleted and WILL NOT produce any visible version tracking unless I've substantively changed the meaning of the posting.

My thinking on this is mostly mercenary. I believe that most people will likely get to these postings via long tail search and referral links, meaning one will probably encounter a post after I've stopped tinkering with it. Burdening everyone with version tracking most useful to a minority of early risers (and true fans :( !) strikes me as a kind of false piety so I'm not going to bother. However, if I add/delete whole paragraphs I'll flag them as added and change the title. Also, if some aspect of the piece evolves in response to the news cycle I will flag that at the bottom of the posting.

[UPDATED: The above is obviously a sloppy stop-gap and is likely to evolve both in practice and presentation.)

[UPDATED: Uh, all this is going in effect from 8.9.05 9:26 PM EST on, as I did some stuff I said I wouldn't do but I did it yesterday. Note that the current time - 9:26 PM EST - is about an hour and a half after the timestamp on the posting.]

4 - Exchanges with commentors will always go in the comments. I think it's kind of talking down to people to revise the source post in response to something written in the comments.

5 - This is just a thought, but I might flag the first versions of a posting with "RAW" or "DEVELOPING" in the title, meaning I am actually online and making updates. I may not do this at all, but if I do, you'll know it.

6 - I swear to tell the truth, the whole and whatever the third part of that saying is, so help me BLOG!

That's it for now.

Posted by ebogjonson in ebog housekeeping at 8:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 8, 2005

late rizer (updated 8.9.05)

Finally got around to seeing David LaChapelle's much-hyped Rize last night. Overall verdict is that I'm glad to have been introduced to krumping and its putative inventor Tommy the Clown, but my feeling of gratitude doesn't extend to director LaChappelle. The images of dancers and dancing LaChapelle recorded make for genuinely great clips (thanks, Dave!), but the non-dancing parts of the doc suffer from a woeful lack of ambition and imagination.

I'd deliberately avoided Rize while apartment hunting in LA last month, as bounding out to see it at that particular juncture felt like self-conscious (cynical?) geographic bandwagon jumping. (Kind of like someone moving to NYC post 9/11 and immediately trying to autodidact/google themselves into terror connoisseur status, if not quite veteran.) Being introduced to a given black scene by any form of professional media (alternative weeklies, for example, or independent films) always induces a series of anxieties in me - jealousy that I hadn't gotten there before Livingston, followed by depression at having projected myself into the Livingston (native informant?) slot in the first place. Rize is just a rote journey of pseudo-discovery, though, so the worst I experienced was a newbie-Angeleno's cartographic confusion about the neighborhoods and streets depicted on screen. (South LA vs South Central, anyone?)

Outside of scoring cool points for the director and tugging at liberal heartstrings, Rize's main conceptual ambition seems to be winning the essentialist side-bet that's played out between the dance sequences and ghetto uplift set-pieces. LaChapelle uses soundtrack, ethnographic source footage and his subjects' pre-installed conceits about the souls of black folk to craft a kind of Afrocentrism-for-Dummies sub-plot, one where the goal is to go from West Africa to Watts in as few steps as possible. Unfortunately, Rize lacks the context or rigor to succeed as any kind of anthropology or ethnography, being instead a kind of Dr. Phil meets Robert Farris Thompson amalgam where getting out of bed while poor and black is enough to earn you installation as a streetcorner santero, mambo or houngan. In that kind of slack, credulous cultural framework, krumping's somatic innovation (pop your chest and ass fast enough and some curious-looking shit happens) isn't offered for consideration as African American dance, but for consumption as a tasty piece cultural resistance cut from the eternal mystery meat (loin?) of a transcendental, Afro-Atlantic ecstasy.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not arguing we should throw the conceit of Afro-Atlantic ecstasy out the window. I wouldn't presume to cut a movie about a place I'd never been to pieces unless I believed I was armed/authorized by some formed of unique underlyingness, be it blackness or good filmmaking or conceptual consistency. The problem is that Rize doesn't take its own premise seriously enough to interrogate it. The now-and-foreverist cultural frame lets LaChapelle off the hook of having to put any effort into getting beneath the thick layer of ghettocentric cliche that krumping swaths itself in the second it aspires to the status of movement. By taking everyone and everything at face/dance value, Rize effectively forecloses whole potential avenues of exploration, like, for example, how krumping connects (or not) to Hollywood's various vogues of the black dancer, from breakdancing flicks to the ubiquitous stripper of hip hop video and movies. (It would have been nice for LaChapelle to note that while the early masterworks of b-boy cinema are set in the Bronx, almost all the later commercial successes - Breakin', or You Got Served - take place in LA.)

And speaking of vogues: what's with how so many of the male dancers in Rize scanned (to me at least) as queer? (My gaydar was probably primed by intertextual background noise about LaChappelle and his photographic "muse," transsexual Amanda Lapore, with a less work-friendly image here.) Gay, straight or indifferent, how masculinity gets performed in krumping was worthy of more explicit excavation, but the purportedly unabashed LaChappelle keeps a strangely chaste distance from the question, this even as his camera soaks in images of black men daintily applying make-up, or prowling across leopard-print satin sheets, or squatting down to do the stripper dance, beefy ass cheeks flying. Gender provocateur Chapelle takes up the question of the stripper dance from an entirely heterosexual and parental POV, i.e., is it "nasty" for an eight year old girl to slide her crotch across the floor like a dog with worms. (Rize's answer - surprise, surprise - is an emphatic "no.") Sure, as numerous on-screen informants testify, the stripper dance has long evolved past its origins as a form of female sexual display. But the film's actual ass-enabled sequences belie the feint towards asexual respectability, each enthusisatic twerk articulating a clearly gendered grammar governing when and where the ass is to be deployed in anyone's face. (It's largely absent in hyper-masculine inter-crew battles, which focus on the chest, but seems fine in ecstatic, familial intra-crew ciphers. A third form of usage comes in the crews who disavow use of the stripper dance altogether, their forbearance bandied about like a point of honor.)

Rize confers on Tommy the Clown the credit for inventing krumping by combining his clown schtick with the stripper dance. (Although most people seem to buy Rize's chronology there is inevitably some controversy about this.) You can easily riff your way through a plausible chain of ass-causality starting with Tommy: clown gets to doing the stripper dance in the largely female and todder-lish arena of the ghetto birthday party, dance jumps a few gridlines thanks to that viral-culture-mutant thing, and all of a sudden young black men all over LA are escaping the dangers of gang life by getting down on all fours and shaking their money-makers like, well, their lives depended on it. It's a wonderfully loopy and clearly incomplete scenario whose twists, turns and decision points would have made for a great documentary. Too bad LaChapelle lacked the courage (or the engagement) to film it.

Posted by ebogjonson in city of angelsscreened at 12:56 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2005

ebogjonson is seven

hey there, my name is Gary. Some things to know about me:

I grew up in Queens, NYC and just moved to Downtown LA.

My family comes from Haiti.

I am a huge fan of DDR, TiVo, GTA and Battlestar Galactica.

For the last seven or so years I've been preoccupied with building, editing, and managing websites for African Americans and their various corporate admirers, community/programming portals like Blackplanet.com, Africana.com and AOL Black Voices.

For the seven or so years previous to the above web gigs I mostly bounced around Fort Greene, Brooklyn, dating various biracial women and writing film reviews for the Village Voice, Vibe and other publications.

These days, I am mostly keeping to myself.

This site you've found is my virtual sandbox, a place where I intend to sit for a spell and play with some of the ideas and topics that have been my main concern over the years. These include (but aren't limited to) race, tech, Haiti, politics, the B.O.G., media, science-fiction, work, afrofuturism, movies, videogames, "fitting in," music, urban culture and so on. Like all good sandboxes, the kids here are going to come in a range of ages and stages but no one is going to get forced to play nice with the freaks or outliers - my dream log, for example, or pictures of people and places I love, or the occasional stab at a short story. I have a firm (albeit cliched) belief that that which doesn't kill freaks and outliers only makes them stronger.

There was a minute or two where I thought that ebogjonson.com should be a professional sort of sandbox, well-mannered and ready for its talking-head mid-shot. A measured and antiseptic e-shingle (ideally work generating) that would be reflective of my most recent, managerial incarnation. "Fuck it," is all I can really say about all that that at this point. If I wanted to keep bullshitting you or (more importantly) myself I'd have stayed in the treacherous embrace of gainful employ.

Seven years and seven years and...? Whatever's next gets documented here. All I can say for sure about it is that my score is turning over. Does the screen change, I wonder? Do I get more lives or just more bosses?

Posted by ebogjonson in ebog housekeeping at 8:28 PM | Permalink

August 5, 2005

a dream

wherein I dream about school, time travel, Saabs, girlfriends ex and otherwise, Hustle and Flow, and the Pacific Coast Highway....

At some point (mid-point? I can only recall the second half of the dream) I decide I need to research successfully sold and produced screenplays if I'm ever to become a screenwriter. [Some solid backstory: Wesley had called me the previous day to discuss a film idea.] Towards this end, I somehow identify (Craigslist? Black Filmmaker's Yahoo group?) a guy who can help me, who I then meet on a street corner somewhere in LA - West Hollywood-ish. He's brown-skinned, short, skinny, bespectacled. His hair is oily, post-curl. He carries the screenplay for Hustle and Flow in a ziplock-type plastic bag with a handle, a disposable briefcase. In another ziplock bag is the fat stack of index cards which preceded the script, dude obviously having run into one of the innumerable writing gurus who recommend the index card thing. (Think Robert Mckee.)

Dude hands me the materials and walks off. He isn't Craig Brewer, the white writer-director who actually made Hustle in the solid, but I accept the work as his own and promise to get it back to him in the next few days. Why he is doing this for me isn't made clear in the dream.

The dream shifts and I am visiting my high school/college. It's only a physical shift: I'm still my own age and know that I graduated successfully with my high school diploma and BA years ago. What few students I encounter all seem old enough to be college juniors, but the physical plant is that of my solid high school back in Queens, NYC. I wander the halls until I find the wing (east? west?) that looks down Francis Lewis Boulevard. I stand at the window at the end of that hall for a spell, staring south with some sadness towards what used to be my home. I'm not sure what year it is outside the window. 2005? 1986? 1995, perhaps? I try to deduce my temporal location from the gear on the street (I am pulling for 1986, hoping to spy some pinstripe Lee Jeans) but there are too few kids out for me to make any judgments. The best information I have is the lush green of the trees along Francis Lewis and the angle of the sun. They suggest that I'm visiting late in the day in July or August. School's out and the summer session doesn't take the entire day.

I press my nose against the window. It's refrigerator cool. I imagine throwing myself against the pane and falling, take stock of the height and run a mental projection of glass spray backwards and forwards. I don't intend to kill myself, thrilling instead at the thought that breaking through the boundary will somehow turn the clock back, make me new again.

There is a sudden commotion in the school behind me. One of the students, a tall, lanky Arab/Mediterranean/Latino/South Asian kid (reader's choice, as long as he's brown) has been stung by a bee. He's allergic and his distress takes the form of hyperventilation and a fakey paralysis. He can't move his arms or legs, can't get out of his chair, but he does manage a dopey, secretive half smile. It strikes me as a strange expression for a potentially dying man. It reminds me of the mugshot of the British terror suspect under arrest in Italy. A few days later someone had made a joke about his lawyer being do-able in a uniquely Italian, MILF-ish kind of way, which, I had countered with the observation that the mother in last season's 24 was a TILF - i.e., a Terrorist I'd Like to Fuck.

This isn't a sex dream, so soon I find myself helping the bee-stung boy's teacher and some of the other students carry him down the back stairs to the nurse's office. He's about 6'4" or so, making for slow going. One of the people helping turns out to be my ex-girlfriend Rachel. We carry the kid into the nurse's office, which doubles as the nurse's bedroom. She's kind of an old bag, the nurse, but she reclines on a mid-century modern daybed in a parody of seduction nonetheless, her white skirt riding up ancient thighs, her flesh-colored stockings a wrinkled ruin due to an unseemly loss of elasticity. She's smoking and doesn't bother to get up, telling us to leave the bee-stung boy on the matching daybed that has previously been hidden under a huge pile of junk - ashtrays, empty cigarette cartons, magazines and old pantyhose. As I leave, I glance back into the office and decide that the nurse bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the nuns who taught at my high school.

[In the solid this particular nun also ran the college admissions office and for years I'd held a grudge against her for her failure to urge me to apply to any Ivy League schools. It was another counselor (Mr. Milano?) who pushed me towards Yale at the last possible moment in spite of what I remember as the nun's vague disapproval. Left to her devices I'd have gone to St. Johns, NYU at best. Not the worst of fates - NYU's film program had been my dream until Mr. Milano introduced me to Yale and its various deconstructions - but I never shook the feeling that had I been Irish or Italian she might have been better able to imagine me in New Haven.]

Next up: I'm sitting in the dean's office with Rachel and some other people. The change in scene effects another geographical shift, as the dean's office is in California. I take note of the air temperature and the moisture and make an internal declaration that we're in Santa Barbara, maybe Ojai. The dean is Rachel's father, an odd thing seeing how the man in my dream is an addled, desiccated, British snob and solid Rachel is one of those wry, livewire Jewish girls from a Michigan college town. For some reason or another I lend the script and the cards to Rachel and decide to drive back down to LA. I'm in Ingrid's car, a sporty red Saab, and it's a beautiful day. I don't know how to drive a stick but I'm flying down the Pacific Coast Highway in fifth gear anyway. I'm a little filled with awe at the ocean off to my right even though I know that behind me to the north sit stretches of mountain and water unlike any I've ever seen and that, moreover, I've been ill-equipped to properly imagine by years of city dwelling. I make a mental note to take the drive north with Ingrid when I get a chance. I get to thinking it would have been foolish to jump out that window back in Queens.

The dream starts to sputter and shake just then like a car running out of gas. Three things happen nearly at once:

1 - Dude who gave me the screenplay and the index cards calls my cell and asks for them back. He explains that Hustle and Flow opened #1 on the box office while I was away (back east?) and for some reason this means he needs the materials back ASAP. Even though I know the movie didn't open that well, I congratulate him and tell him I'll have the Ziplock bags back in LA by evening. As I turn the car around, it occurs to me that if I'm stopped for speeding and my car is searched the bags could be mistaken for drugs. I take note of the speed limit, lay off the gas.

2 - The dean's office in Santa Barbara/Ojai turns into a publicist's office. Rachel turns into an imaginary British film publicist named Thelma and her fake father, the dean, turns into a writer/editor I know in the solid. As I walk into the room Thelma announces that I'm not to worry: she has already shipped the script and the cards back to Craig Brewer. This gives me a moment's pause and I spend the rest of the dream waiting for an angry phone call from the dude who actually gave me the script and cards. It never comes.

I try to make writer-on-publicist chitchat with Thelma in hopes of getting back onto her particular advance screening list, but I'm inhibited by the awkwardness I feel around the writer/editor. A few years ago he had asked me to write a piece for an anthology he was editing and I'd never delivered. Unfortunately, a number of websites had promoted the upcoming book using an early, pre-publication press release that listed me as a contributor, and these pages sit in my google results to this day like non-disputable negative entries in some unholy editorial credit score. The pages are like virtual thorns embedded in the skin of my ego and self-esteem, and anyone associated with the project could easily pluck them out - if only they hadn't moved on with their lives years ago. The thought of those pages being out in the world makes me crazy, makes me feel like the web itself is some kind of malevolent antagonist, makes me feel sick with self-disgust, all of this despite the fact that there were other writers listed on that press release who also didn't make it into the solid anthology. Do they cringe every time they see those false positives, I wonder?

3 - Ingrid is in the Saab with me. We're somewhere between LA and Santa Barbara/Ojai. In the solid the two of us had taken a trip north along this same coast this past spring, spending a few days in a B&B in Santa Barbara. I had driven a rented car and she had videotaped me as I sang along to the radio, my tunelessness inter-cut with great swaths of majestic, empty ocean. This time around she's driving and I sit camera-less, watching her and watching her until morning.

[EnD]

Posted by ebogjonson in city of angelsdream log at 10:19 AM | Permalink