Thursday, September 20, 2007


Preface: This is a silly little story i wrote for Creative Writing class last Fall. The assignment was to create a short scene of conflict where one person was trying to get something from the other, except without using the word 'no'. I don't think 'no' is in there. Tell me if it is. It's dated September 18, 2006.


A skinny boy with red dreds sauntered by my booth. His face was crisp and glowing orange, freshly scorched. Ounces of sweat-water dripped down his jaw from under his plastic green leprechaun hat. He engaged the guy next door.

“Hey man, how much is a water?”

“One dollar, Gatorade is two. Looks like you could use a little refreshment, eh buddy?”

“Oh yea man, ya think so? Not sure SPF 420 could save my brain from melting out here if ya know what I mean?”

“I hear you, so what’ll it be?”

“Well shit man here’s the thing. I’m clean outta cash at the moment, so I was hopin’ maybe you might could help out a fair-haired friend and slip me a swig or two for free…”

“Aww sorry buddy, can’t help you there.”

“C’mon I’m dyin’ here. A little charity goes a long way concerning Karma.”

“I’m sorry but I mean, that comes right out of my pocket, and I’m barely breaking even as it is.”

“Ahh but sir, the day is almost done and soon the moment will pass, and your good deeds will be all that remain, no two dollars.”

“I told you…”

“I hear ya, yea alright, you seen any drinking fountains ‘round here?”

“Not at all, not much permanent plumbing in these parts.”

“Yea, figured.”

The boy took a half-turn and looked up and down the half-mile stretch of vendors. Food, drink, tie-dye and drums, stickers and cd’s, fancy fresh products crying for consumption and he, the consumer, left helpless. I called him over.

“Hey man, here’s a dollar, get yourself some water before you pass out.”

“Hah hahh I appreciate that but when I pass out it won’t be from dehydration! Plus, I’m really tryin’ to get my hands on a Gatorade. Water is well an’ good an’ all but ahh a Gatorade, now there’s somethin’ worth begging for.”

“Fair enough. So here’s two.”

“Thanks man, mighty generous of course, but I think I can finagle one for free here if I just keep workin’ on it.”

“This is free ain’t it?”

“Yea but cash is different. Doesn’t feel right somehow, know what I mean?”

I did. His hazed wide eyes wandered, scatterbrained, but met mine long enough to establish understanding. His eyes were kind, if a bit lost. It seemed he had simply misplaced his official friends only to find Everyone as his companion.

“What if I handed it right to the guy? Then he gave me the Gatorade, then I gave it to you, would that work?”

“Wait hold on, I’m gonna turn my back. When I turn around, whatever happens has happened and that’ll be that.”

I left the Gatorade sitting on the table and hid behind a rack of t-shirts. He turned around and laughed a joyous laugh at our little game. He smiled triumphant, holding the drink out in front of him for inspection. “Melon. FIERCE Melon. Hah Hahhh.” With that he heaved it towards the sky and with arms spread wide to the heavens screamed, “Thank Yoooouuu!!” He spun a one-footed 540 and caught the plastic bottle one-handed behind his back all in one motion and meandered back toward the stage, slipping into the mass dancing with love-ly electrolytes in his heart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

is that intentional?

There is an eBay commercial I've seen recently. It shows a group of people running around a race-track, like dogs chasing after the sliding bunny, but instead of a bunny it's a toaster or some such thing. So they're coming down the homestretch, and a pale, 30-something, tubby dude is in the lead, but look out, a young, cool looking black dude is making his move. He is about to pass our pale friend and win the race when, OH NO, he comes up lame with a pulled hammy, and Average White American Man wins his toaster! The ad campaign is of course centered on the slogan, "It's More Fun When You Win It", or something like that.

Is that social commentary or what? I know it's kinda subtle, but not really. Who did the casting for that commercial? Was it written into the script that the white guy would win only because the black guy got injured? Is that a conscious decision to represent it that way? Or do they think we're living in such a heterogeneous world that it doesn't matter, that the white and black dudes are interchangeable, and it could have just as easily been the other way around. But that's just the thing, it could have just as easily been the other way around, but it wasn't. Basically what i'm saying is, Critical Theory class has ruined TV for me. Everywhere you look there are sketchy representations like that, creeping into our psyche with seemingly meaningless images that in fact reinforce whatever it is we're supposed to believe.
Which is what? The black guy would have won if he hadn't gotten injured. So what is that saying? Is it suggesting that Black Americans have every opportunity to succeed but in large part they don't because they don't stretch properly before the race (ie shoot themselves in the foot)? [I pose it as a question because i don't want to offend anybody, which i shouldn't, if you understand what i'm saying.] That is certainly what it suggests to me.
So the question becomes, is that true? Well it's almost three in the morning here, so i plan to go to bed and dream of elysium, thankful that i'm not (directly) responsible for any under-handed racism.
But just for the record, HEY, remember when we enslaved an entire race for a few hundred years? Exported them all over the world? Invaded their continent and destroyed intricate cultures with knowledge dating back to the dawn of man? Then we slowly, begrudgingly let them be a part of OUR society, finally letting allowing them to be recognized as real citizens something like 40 years ago. And do we really think that in such a tiny timespan, barely a generation, the effects of our wrongdoing have worn off and we're all on an equal playing field?
I just hope that people think for themselves, and not blindly buy what an eBay commercial is trying to sell them. Hopefully most people won't notice at all. I think that would be best, serving as evidence for the whole heterogeneous society theory.
I'm going to bed.