Suck It, Racists! Progressive Television Shows Love For Interracial Love

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It’s no secret that I’m a fan of diversity in all its glorious splendor, consciously and unconsciously making sure that I don’t recognize the ugliness of bigotry if I can help it. As a lover of fairness and equality, I’ve made it my business to routinely champion for a future that strives against racial disharmony. Maybe it was something my dad taught me.

Immediately after I got a lecture from my mother on the importance of marrying black, dad pulled me aside and educated me on the “100% Rule.” He counted on one hand, saying there’s Red, Black, Yellow, Brown and Other, representing the color ratio of girls across the planet. (I assume “Brown” included South Asians) And my mom had just urged me to shoot for 20%. Well, dad said I shouldn’t reach for 20%f of anything. It’s 100% of everything, or nothing. Looks like modern television is taking dad’s advice. Let’s look at how things are going on the boob tube. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Sun Also Rises (Unless You’re Black, Jewish Or Privileged)

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“I’m 34, you know. I’m not going to be one of those bitches that ruins children.”

Lady Brett Ashley’s decision to not “ruin” children with settling down and raising a family works out just fine for her. She is one of a long line of literary Delilahs who turn male characters insane with adoration. Another one is Gatsby’s Daisy. There are more – the early 1900’s were littered with them. For some reason these hapless foolish fellows fall deeply in love with women in words who lead them into their dens of promises and false hopes, only to crush them before the story’s end. The early 1920’s seemed a rough time for men desperately in love. And blacks. Jews too.
Continue reading

I’ve Been Nominated For The Liebster Award For Bloggers!

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Thanks to Tahir from over at Words Across Borders, I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award! She is a self-described political junkie. I personally despise politics now (long story) so I try to stick to her poetry. Drop by and start clicking LIKE on things!

Liebster is basically an award by bloggers for other bloggers in a sort of chain. You can only nominate blogs with under 1,000 followers, so this is also a great way to give exposure to blogs you enjoy.

Here are the rules:

The Official Liebster Award Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Display the award somewhere on your blog.
  3. List 11 facts about yourself.
  4. Answer 11 questions chosen by the blogger who nominated you.
  5. Come up with 11 new questions to ask your nominees.
  6. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you think deserve the award and who have less than 1,000 followers.  (You many nominate blogs that have already received the award, but you cannot renominate the blog that nominated you.)
  7. Go to their blog and inform them that they’ve been nominated.

Okay here go the…

11 FACTS ABOUT MYSELF!

1. I am from Asbury Park, NJ and, though I’m super glad I don’t live there anymore, I take a great deal of pride in being FROM there. Growing up by the beach has desensitized me from caring much about beach vacations and things of that nature. And while I was growing up, it was a real shithole. They’ve been working hard to bring it up for years and it’s looking pretty good.

2. I worked in television for 20 years. I was a loyal member of CNN’s technical staff in New York City and when they illegally broke our tech contract in order to bust the union, we ended up in court. 0ver 100 former employees have been fighting them ever since and CNN keeps losing and appealing. It’s been 11 years.

3. I’m a hardcore geek. Always have been, as my avatar can tell you. I love comic books and superhero stuff especially. So I have an affinity for looking at cosplay. Not interested in participating in it though.

4. I write Yelp reviews in my spare time. When I moved from NYC to down south, I knew I’d need cool new things to do, so I banged out a ton of reviews until I was offered Yelp Elite, and therefore invited to lots of free events and parties. I’ve met some cool people and have constructed some sort of social life that way.

5. I hate cheese, unless it’s mozz on pizza. I find it so revolting.

6. I was married to a woman in New York City who divorced me and took the dog. The two things I hate the most from losing that union are, 1. she was rich 2. I miss my dog. In truth, I don’t miss the woman though.

7. I am currently unemployed, and have been for over a year.

8. But I’m not without money. My brother owns a detailing business and I work with him a few times a month. I am also a Yelp Brand Ambassador and they send me the occasional gig. I am a freelance Social Media Manager, and my clients include Edutainment, Detailed By Lamont, 319 Media Group and New Hope Outreach Church. I pick up some cash from all these gigs and they keep me from starving. I’m always looking though!

9. I moved from NYC to NC because my brother and sisters and their families are here. After the divorce, I decided that being with my family was probably a good idea, so I relocated.

10. One of my other jobs is staff writer for Nerd Bastards. It’s a geek entertainment site and it’s lots of fun. Go to the side of the page where it says “Meet All The Bastards” and click on it. I’m presently the only black guy on staff lol. Holy shit, four jobs is pretty good for a guy who’s unemployed…

11. I’ve been shaving my head since 1997. One time in my early 30’s, I decided to grow it out. Not only was it super thin on the very top, but it came in mostly gray. To hell with that idea.

And here are the Questions From Tahir!

The Questions:

1) What is your connection to place?

I have no idea what that means. I will shape it into something: I have an intense connection to France, particularly Paris and the French Riviera. The most beautiful places in the world, if you asked me. I hope to one day have a vacation home there, but hey…reality and all.

2) Who was one of your role models growing up?

As a comic book geek, my role models were superheroes. I also watched wrestling, which showcased a distinct difference between right and wrong, featuring good and bad guy characters. These things shaped within me a very strict code. Outside of fantasy, I was a jock and primarily played baseball. Rickey Henderson of the New York Yankees (at the time) was my favorite player and I worked hard to emulate him.

3) If you could talk to a past version of yourself, what would you tell him/her?

Don’t go into communications. Center on the things you’re deeply passionate about, even if they don’t make you rich. Even if you have ups and downs, at least you’ll love doing it. Some people have ups and downs just doing the things they’ve settled on. Don’t be one of them.

4) Are you political or a-political? Why?

I’m Liberal, leaning Libertarian, but I’m jaded on politics. There is no such thing as an honest politician and anyone who truly believes that their party or their chosen candidate is out for their best interests is fooling himself/herself. Those fuckers are out for themselves ONLY. It’s all bullshit and the only way to find a modicum of sense in that flawed structure is to vote for the person who tells the lies you like to hear. I voted for Obama because his lies were far less destructive to my personal lifestyle than the Conservative candidates’ lies.

5) Aside from writing/reading, is there a particular art form you enjoy?

I’m a junkie for creativity in all its forms, from painting to sketching to building anything from scratch. I respect and love it all. I’m also an artist, so if I had to pick something in particular, I’d have to go with drawing.

6) What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

They are too many to count. I was with my brother today and said, “I’ve done a lot of ill-advised, insane shit. But if I didn’t do them, I think I’d be bored with life.” I sometimes have daredevil behavior. I’m lots more boring with age, tho. There’s this ramped road that crosses a railroad track by my sister’s house. You have to take it gingerly. One night about 20 yrs ago, when coming to visit her, I said “fuck it” and upon approaching the asphalt incline, I hit the gas pedal. I probably jumped that ramp (in a Mercury Tracer no less) about 30 feet. My heart was pounding and the adrenaline rush was incredible. And I kinda messed up my car…

7) What color are your eyes? (Just curious.)

Brown.

8) What are you most afraid of?

Death. Not just death, but the end of life. I treasure my faith, but I weigh it equally with science. And sometimes they don’t meet in the middle. I love the idea of Heaven and an afterlife, but the possibility of being wrong depresses the shit out of me. I hate hate hate the thought of just going black when this is all over, and then there’s nothing. We just cease to exist. It terrifies me…

9) What is something you inherited from your family that has greatly effected how you see the world? (Can be anything including a story, family history, item, language etc.)

I inherited my house in Asbury Park from my dad when he passed away. He had property and all his kids got a house. But my inheritance had to be sold off to pay for my mother’s assisted living expenses and subsequent nursing home charges. It bummed me out at first, but made me stronger. It taught me that hope is nice, luck is awesome, wishes are shit and nothing is set in stone. But, most importantly, material possessions are just dust. Don’t love them too hard. There are better things in life to cherish.

10) If you could talk to one person right now, who would it be and why?

Jesus Christ. Because I gotta know.

11) Dog, cat, or both?

Cats are cool, but I’m allergic. I prefer dogs anyway. A dog’s capacity for unconditional love and affection makes my heart flutter.

If you got this far, thank you so much for reading. Here are my nominees…

Sacha Dichter’s Blog

Lam on the Lam

2 sojourners

DIY Made Simple

SPLICED PERSONALITY

Hated Yankees

Here are the questions…

1. What is the most interesting thing to happen to you in 2014?

2. What is your favorite non-writing/non-blogging website outside of WordPress?

3. Hipsters…cool or lame?

4. Name three things you’d rather be doing than this.

5. What was your dream job growing up?

6. What you’d say in your acceptance speech:

7. What is your least favorite food and why?

8. What do you think you have to add to the lives of those who read you on this site?

9. What do you personally get out of the material you produce on this site?

10. Name the two most awesome places you’ve ever been to.

11. Love…is it overrated or underappreciated?

Thanks guys! Not everyone likes to play these things, so it’s okay if you back out! Take care!

Love Letter To “Community”

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I jumped on board the bandwagon late in the game, just a few months ago, in fact. For any number of reasons, I ignored this series for a long time. But when I finally got around to it, I was completely blown away by it’s smart writing and diverse ensemble cast. Of course it was doomed to fail.

But this series was the “little engine that could,” always under threat of cancellation and mind-bogglingly slipping through the unlikely cracks of renewal year after implausible year. The seasons would get shorter and shorter as the cult fan base grew larger and larger. But the problem with that demographic is that it’s just never big enough.

If you build it, they will come: Jeff Winger is a disbarred lawyer jerk who has to go back to school and earn the degree he lied about having. Trying to get student activist Britta into bed, he offers to form a study group with just the two of them as members. But she invites five other classmates, ruining his sexy plans and leaving him to run a group he never even wanted. Hilarity ensued in the house that creator Dan Harmon built. Yet, nobody came to watch.

And I just don’t understand why. Was the series ignored because it couldn’t connect to a mass audience? Was there stiff competition in that time slot? As I’ve said, I discovered the show late, and could therefore be part of the problem, so I was never witness to its plight. But I do have strong opinions to offer.

This beautifully racially mixed cast brought great characters to the small screen and delivered their lines with expert lunacy. And how wonderfully written they were, with leagues of room to grow. Jeff is the self-impressed fashionista, dressed head to toe in sarcastic conceit. He later grows into a more sympathetic version of himself, but not at all less funny. Stoner Britta fails at first, as the writers didn’t seem to know how to keep her headstrong independence from being abrasive. But when she added on absent-minded buzzkiller traits, actress Gillian Jacobs surfed through the role like a comedic champ. Comparatively, former high school jock Troy (played by rap artist Donald Glover) is way too cool in the opening episodes. When his character embraces his geeky side and mellows out, it’s genius in the making. I will admit that the first season felt a bit rocky at times as the actors got used to their roles.

More about the characters. Danny Pudi’s TV-obsessed Abed is clearly autistic or perhaps dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome, leaving him with a difficulty in relating to others. Yet, somewhere along the line something magical happens! Abed and Troy somehow connect and become the cutest, funniest BFF duo since Harold and Kumar – minus the weed. It really is a touch that gave the show a pop (pop) that so many millions of viewers missed out on. Sometimes I found myself looking forward to an episode’s end tag, which commonly consisted of Abed and Troy doing something ridiculous during the credits.

Shirley is Jeff’s age, and a devout Christian who has mastered the art of kindness as well as ugly manipulation. And just when you’re bored of her, she has the potential to give the episode’s best line. She would also be the most ignored character on the show if not for veteran actor Chevy Chase’s millionaire, Pierce Hawthorne. Pierce literally just goes to school for the hell of it. He is lonely, selfish and passively racist/misogynistic. He so despises being left out of his friends’ plans that he’s been known to lash out hatefully. He has actually played the villain on a few occasions, both on and off the set. His war with Dan Harmon that ended with them both leaving the show is something to be Googled to be believed. Drama!

And then there’s Annie, the youngest…and hottest of the group. Overachieving and adorable, she’s commanded fanboy attention since the show started. I’d roll my eyes reading about some of my favorite bloggers’ obsessions with her…until I watched the show and witnessed it myself. Jesus God I love her so. And by the way, you haven’t lived til you’ve heard her freestyle rap in the show’s outtakes. She’s a charmer.

Backed by a wonderful supporting cast: the Dean, who steals scenes effortlessly in his bi-curious (or even flat-out gay) hilarity, will dress in drag, make passes at Jeff, and say every single line with perfect flamboyance. Senor Chang, the inept Spanish teacher who does a “Jeff Winger” and becomes a student when his lack of credentials are exposed, is probably the most insane TV character I’ve ever seen in my life. He never says or does anything rational and he’s the show’s secret weapon adrenaline shot. Lesser characters like Magnitude, Fat Neil, Todd, Leonard, Starburns…the list goes on and on and on…are a casting director’s dream. The unnecessarily panicky Garrett is pure brilliance all by himself. And Buzz Hickey, who joined the group in its final run, was a nice addition who just needed time to be developed. But we learned such great things about him! Amateur cartoonist, former cop, always carrying rope for some reason! God!  Thinking back on all this, I’m so sad to see these folks go. They were a perfect comedy team.

But it wasn’t a perfect show. It had its clunker episodes like the one where they were video game characters, but the standout entries more than made up for their failures. “Remedial Chaos Theory” is the quintessentially flawless example of a bottle episode. The one where they were all animated G.I. Joe characters was inspired enough to call to my childhood. Touching, darker runs like “Mixology Certification” were handled with the type of expert tenderness one needs to make sad stuff funny. Yes, time and time again this show proved itself, and more than earned the respect of its loyal and loving fans.  Fans like myself. Trekkie. Whovian. CloneClubber, and whatever the hell they are calling people who loved and lost when the truly darkest timeline would be to never have loved at all.

 

100 Days Of Happiness

ImageWhenever I think of the 100 Years War, I feel bad that they didn’t consider this idea first. Because being happy is a crapload better than dying.

The 100 Days OF Happiness Project is a challenge – kind of like The Cinnamon Challenge – just done 99 consecutive times and you substitute the pain and suffering with a warm and cozy feeling. Now, in a perfect world, you could go all Marquis De Sade and throw in an extra 20 days for good measure (as one could debate that sodomy was his “happy” place.) Furthermore, why not shoot for a lifetime of happiness? (see Hugh Hefner). Well let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. 100 days is a damn good start.

On paper it’s an easy effort: You sign up at 100Happydays.com and once a day you find something that makes you happy – then post a picture of it via whatever you’ve got (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) with the hashtag #100happydays. I’m doing mine STARTING TODAY via My Instagram Account and everyone is invited to come by and check it out or play along with me. I’d love to follow your progress!

And just for kicks, I’ll post my first entry here:IMG_20140430_114245

What you see there are two of three birthday balloons in my bedroom, recently given to me at a party my family threw for my 41st day of life. I was really touched by it so I have them floating on the ceiling so that they’re the first things I see when I wake up.

Tomorrow I’ll find something different, hopefully, because the challenge is, you gotta do it every single day for 100 days. Hence the name, duh.

So, off I go! Here’s to me not screwing it up because I forgot to take a photo and post it on the internet!

p.s.

You also have the option to keep yours private. Party-poopers.

Does Blogging Still Ruin Marriages?

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Here is a story about something meaningless. Perhaps you’ve heard it before.

One upon a time, I had an extremely popular blog going on Myspace…a once extremely popular site. My name was “The Gringo Gentile” – random words I strung together much as I did with the equally ridiculous “Fate Jacket X.”

Nonetheless, the fun I had posting twice a week or so was enriching and provided me with my fix to create, to write, to socialize, to share. I took it seriously because, as a writer, it needed to happen. Screenplays and Yelp reviews weren’t enough and committing to a novel would’ve been to wage war on my ADD. And since Harper’s and Salon kept friendzoning my short stories, blogging won.

Then blogging lost. As I’m newly returned to the blog-o-sphere, I don’t know what to expect, but back in 2007, it was a sexy place. Female bloggers and commenters who liked me (without ever meeting me in person) didn’t hesitate to splash my page with sexual innuendo. The lurkers would send messages filled with flat-out perversion. And a topless photo or phone number request was normal for the inbox. After awhile, I’d just accepted it as the culture while not really entertaining it. You see, I was madly in love with my wife.

But after months of seething over flirty online comments, she’d grown jealous and could no longer bottle the rage. I knew how she was shortly after we started dating, but grew to love her and that was that. In fact, the things those online ladies liked about me were the very same traits that lured my wife. I felt it unreasonable that she could think that those few personality wins would simply cap around anyone but herself. Yes, there it was – the ultimatum: the blog or the wife.

She won; she beat the blog. And then six years later, the bitch left me. But that’s a different story.

Sure, I missed writing and I missed those connections, some of which I’d renew through Facebook. All of a sudden KittieVicious was Renee’. The Fearless Ferret was just…Doug. It was strange knowing these nutcase blog-folk as real people composing themselves across FB’s vast landscape of accountability. In fact, if someone I knew from the old days tried to add me with a pseudonym, I refused.

Over time I’d be told stories. About Daryl-Ain’t-Right ruining his marriage because he banged Sweet Jess. Another story about C.B.K. traveling 780 miles to fuck JustJen and then she tried to kill him because he wouldn’t leave his wife. One story after another about Myspace bloggers fucking the shit out of each other and burning over it. Those gals must’ve thought I was an oddball prude! How DARE I refuse to send penis pics?? Hmmm…I thought maybe my wife was right to be apprehensive.

But she was wrong. I got no credit for being that oddball prude. Nurse Becky and Vic Vodka having a 3-way in Vegas with xXxDanellaxXx had nothing to do with me. The writer has to write! Simple as that. Never again will I let anyone get in the way of my expression. And, so I’m back. Back with two middle fingers raised high, thinking out loud over the Web, arrogantly convinced that people give a shit about what I have to say. But it doesn’t matter either way…as long as we can get our fix without killjoys fucking up the buzz, it’s all good.

p.s. – I should note that I’m no longer friends with like 80% of those Myspace refugees. Turned out they’re all insane. Yes, internet people are batshit crazy. 0.O

Celebrating Interracial Couples In The Media

I’ve been banging out tons of television lately – partly because I’ve yet to find a job at my relocation – partly because I love television. And as one who loves dating the rainbow even more, I’ve taken notice of the many mixed-race couples on TV and in film and print. From Moses’ nameless Ethiopian wife to Troy and Britta on “Community,” love has proven itself more powerful than ignorance since the early days of running from Egyptians. And no two would be more groundbreaking in that display than Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball.

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Thanks to Ball’s insistence that the network cast Arnez, her real life husband, as her spouse on the show, we have our most pioneering integrated on-screen couple. And then the steamroller…

guess“Good thing you were here. This cab would’ve NEVER stopped for me alone.”

“Matt and Christina Drayton are a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black.” ~ IMDB. That’s the breakdown for “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” as in “there goes the neighborhood!” This is an important film in all its hammy preachiness and it shocked 1967 audiences to see such a hard topic get attacked so fearlessly. Great performances all around, during the spike in Sidney Poitier’s career.

320x240Only TRUE bff’s rock secret handshakes.

“Star Trek” had no peer when it came to giving hope for a more tolerant future. Sure, Kirk and Uhura had the first white/black television kiss and God knows Kirk was no stranger to chasing alien tail. But on the subject of love, Spock’s parents Sarek and Perrin gave us something else entirely: the first inter-species couple. Thanks to television’s most famous Vulcan/Human pairing, creator Gene Roddenberry was able to show us that our hangups over taboo “race mixing” couldn’t have been more ridiculous.

Tom-HelenI got nothing…

But since we humans are still too barbaric to even fathom such things, let’s get back to something we can almost deal with. Probably television’s funniest black and white couple was Tom and Helen Willis of “The Jeffersons.” All through the 70’s and early 80’s these two played foils to racist comedy, courtesy of Mr. George Jefferson. Yet, none of it was mean-spirited. In fact, Mr. Jefferson and his two “frenemies” showed us that this was a topic that didn’t have to be taken so seriously after all.

oth2“Your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs!” ~ Iago, Othello

Hundreds of years after Miriam and Aaron hated on Moses’ black wife, William Shakespeare’s Iago wanted war hero Othello D.E.A.D. in one of the bard’s most powerful tragedies. It’s not just a sad story of insecurity and betrayal, it’ s an interesting window into an era we simply don’t know enough about. But we do know that interracial couples either widely existed or were on people’s minds. And moreso thanks to Shakespeare’s brave writing.

 luke-cage-jessica-jonesPlease…no “white wife-beater” jokes.

As a former comic book collector (shocker, yes) and full-time cartoon lover, I’ve come across some awesomely artful examples of interracial love. Iceman and Opal taught me was falafel was. Power Man and Iron Fist’s Luke Cage and Danny Rand were tag-team champions of colorful loving with their gf’s Misty Knight and Jessica Jones. And Green Lantern Jon Stewart’s dating Hawkgirl came to mainstream audiences via the amazing Justice League cartoons. Thank goodness the younger generations are being exposed to such beauty.

gl and hgHe must not get many “come hither” looks.

On a side note, The Vision and Scarlet Witch even went so far as to express human/android relationships as a thing of wholesome innocence – a subject Star Trek: TNG even touched on a couple times. Hey whatever floats your boat!

torchowoodINTERGALACTIC ORGY TIME!!

But when it comes to a full on, balls out, go-for-broke display of love, sex and zero judgments, Britain’s “Torchwood” wins hands down. Not only do we get the incomparable Captain Jack Harkess – a man who will screw ANYTHING hot, but almost every character on the show has either experienced interracial relationships, homosexual encounters, cyborg love, alien banging, everything you can think of. All sentient beings are equal on this show and that’s why I love it so.

VASTRA-JENNY-2014-TEASER“Hey gurrrl. Your world or mine?”

Yet “Torchwood” was the spawn of something bigger. It’s the progeny of the “Dr. Who” universe, one of the most important creations of all time. Spanning fifty years as I write this, and running the gamut of television, radio plays, and print media, this is an unstoppable thing of epic power. And the show has used this clout to depict an existence where not only do interracial couples prosper, but they are commanding relationships throughout the modern series. One duo goes even farther with their lesbian union by hailing from different planets!

doctorwhoIs there a Doctor in the house?

God bless Doctor Who for showing us a world (or worlds) where it absolutely does not matter what color you are as long as you practice that one blissfully incredible, achingly beautiful, sweetly perfect emotion called “Love.”

Honorabe mention: That adorable Cheerios commercial that features a mixed race family doing not a damn thing but being awesome.