Ever since I went back to work (the Mike Brown thing and subsequent happenings in Ferguson happened while I was on vacation), there seems to be this weird tension from the unabashed conservatives in my neighborhood. Since second-guessing myself is my default reaction when I think about anything, I thought it was all in my head. But it’s tangible in the way they speak to me and the way they interact with customers of color. There’s an under-the-surface hostility in their behavior.
When I was picked up from the airport, my landlady/roommate and I had a very spirited conversation about Ferguson. She said, “Boy, I didn’t know this kind of stuff still happened. I thought we were all over this.” She asked me if I thought the problem with racism was improving in the culture at large. It told her it isn’t any better, it’s just different. And in some places (obviously like Ferguson, but essentially in little pockets everywhere), it’s not different at all.
fwarg tagged me to say 5 things I like about myself/5 things that are dope about me, so I’m going to do it, but I will exercise my right to decline tagging other people, because I’m supposed to be getting ready for work.
I guess I would consider myself smart, but I’m far prouder of my intellectual curiosity. I want to know everything, not for the sake of being able to tell people that I know everything, but because I like learning about things, about people.
I’m a very sincere person. Though sarcasm is a great tool for humor, sincerity is very important to me.
I’m a pretty good writer. Being a communicator through the written word is one of the only things I consider myself to be truly good at.
“The way I look at music—especially urban music, black-people music, whatever you want to call it—is that we’re all in the zoo, and the listeners are the people outside of the cage. You can look at five lions that could literally destroy you, but since you’re looking through the glass, it’s fun and cute. You point at the glass. You wave at them. But you’re not going to step inside that glass, because you know what’ll happen to you. Rappers are making this shit a petting zoo. They’re like, ‘It’s cool, you can walk up, we’re not threatening, we’re just musicians, it’s all an act.’ But it’s actually a very real thing. It’s not a game. One of my friends just died last month—got shot in his face five times in the back of his mom’s house in front of his 5-year-old sister. He was 24 and a good dude, went to work, never really hurt nobody. So if this is what we’re rapping about, why do you not feel that?”—Vince Staples, dropping knowledge. (via Pitchfork)
I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten something as part of the Martin Douglas Snail-Mail Exchange Program. Sometimes I’ll get the occasional question of whether or not I’m even still doing it. The answer is a resounding yes, although most of the time I only get unsolicited promo materials from bands. So write me a letter. I’m good at writing letters.
As for the letter itself, thank you Tori. Your letter meant a lot to me, and I’ve carved out some time this week to write you back.
You know how you feel like you desperately need a change but you’re not exactly sure what that change is, and it seems as though you’re holding a gigantic bag full of your own things but don’t know where to put it down? Yeah, I feel that sort of way right now.
People have asked me more than once, “Hey, Martin Douglas. How do you feel about cat sweaters? Would you ever wear a cat sweater? Why haven’t you ever worn a cat sweater?” It’s not that I’m not open to the idea at all, because I very much am. It’s just that I have yet to find a cat sweater that makes me fall in love when I see it on the hanger or in front of that white background. I haven’t seen a cat sweater that made me say, “Now, that’s a cat sweater. I need to try that cat sweater on RIGHT NOW.” I’ve been waiting for that day for almost 31 years. But it has yet to come.
i have this friend who just wants everybody to be their best selves. i can count on her to tell me when i could be doing better. she doesn’t know this — or maybe she does — she is my clearest inspiration to be a better person. it’s an endless process, a lifelong journey, and i don’t consider myself to be any greater than a mildly decent person morally. i have a lot to learn and always try to surround myself with people to teach me things. she teaches me how to strengthen my character.
i have this thing called hubris, which burns bridges beyond repair, even beyond a lengthy pile of ash. in terms of everybody’s life being a story, pride has always been my tragic flaw. it’s cost me jobs that paid well, people whom i have been incredibly fond of. i used to justify it as, “people will come and go, but my pride will always be with me.” i’ve come to realize using this as a means to do emotionally harmful things to people is a flimsy justification at best. it’s actually just one’s way to hold onto one’s ego, and i need to find a way to put the kibosh on my ego, because i’m a grown man now.
i have this tendency to stroke a girl’s hair while i’m lying next to her. i like to put my arm around her waist and spoon her. i like to drape my arm across her torso while she lies on her back. i really like it when she strokes my arm the way someone would play a lute. it’s amazing to have someone who would trust you enough to let you share a bed with them while they sleep. it’s even more amazing when the person is okay not only sharing that space with you, but making you an active part of it.
“I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very same reason.”—James Baldwin (via brookehatfield)