Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 166

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I watched a video of an 11-yr-old crying while she told the camera her dad’s not a criminal. This was hours after her father was arrested by ICE (along with almost 700 other brown-skinned men and women in Mississippi). She was wearing pink.

Late last week there two shootings, one in El Paso, the other in Dayton. In Texas, at least, the shooter said he was aiming for immigrants. He called them an invasion. He shot a lot of people, mostly Latinos. He was white, they weren’t.

I read a review of memoir called ‘When I Was White.” The book’s by Sarah Valentine, an author raised white in a white family, but who had a black father, and was taught from day one by her white mother to detest blackness. The review goes into this idea that since the original sin of slavery, whiteness has defined itself by ‘purity,’ the one-drop rule, etc. Valentine finds herself discovering her blackness and losing her former identity in the process.

I met a man who tiles pools. He’s black, and said he has a partner who handles the marketing.

“Why?” I asked. He struck me as a grade-A businessman.

“Because I’m a big guy. And, you know. Around here, people get worried seeing someone like me knock at their door.”

I did know.

When Cortes crossed the ocean and met the Aztecs, he fancied himself a divine visitor. And over the next three years, he cut up all the brown bodies until there was no-one left to contradict him.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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A 7-year old body becomes
A monument to our excess aggression
On Sunday morning she became
An effigy to our excessive aggression
And our lack of suppression
And access to automatic weapons.

We didn’t pull the trigger
But we pulled the blinds down.

The Fucking Cops, Aiyana

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 66

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Sometimes it feels like you speak things into focus. You’re thinking of something and all of a sudden it’s everywhere. 1985’s movie ‘Cocoon’ – now see how many times you notice ‘Cocoon’ coming up in conversation.

Yesterday, I wrote my blog in part about Charlotte. Today, two people were murdered by gun violence at UNC-C.

These days, nowhere feels safe. Every morning you take a serving of mass shootings with your toast and coffee. Places you assumed were impermeable are criss-crossed with bullet holes. It feeds itself – the less safe we all feel, the more on edge we all are. Our hands go quicker to our holsters.

Truth is, though, the world’s never been safe. In fact, even in America, there are communities that have suffered constant, consistent gun violence for decades. They just happen to be largely black or brown or poor, always marginalized. The papers don’t cover what they expect to happen, just the juicy stuff. We’ve been expecting poor minorities to die violently, but now we’re shocked when shots are fired at college kids.

None of that is to take away from the tragedy. It’s just perspective.

Anyway, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted with the violence. Isn’t a peaceful life wretched and heart-breaking enough?

There’s no news yet about the motives of this shooter. No news about the lives of their victims. I saw one picture of a shot-out glass door at the UNC-C library. A long time ago, I opened that door on the way to meet up with someone who loved me. Now the glass is gone and there’s no more border between warm, book-laden hallways and the long-fanged outdoors.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

E.F. Schumacher


Coffee Log, Day 260

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

We took a family trip to Williamsburg, VA when I was about 9yrs old. They’ve got this preserved, colonial town, a sort of streetcorner museum. I loved it. Back then (and lets be honest, even now) I was enamored with fantasy. I wanted to get lost in other people from other times.

My favorite part of the trip was the militia trainer. He was this big guy in boots and stockings with a long, messy beard. He got us kids in two lines. He gave us wooden toy muskets. We were led on drills to fill the powder, stuff the barrel, aim, fire. I hadn’t known that kind of power before. I took the toy gun home and played with it religiously.

America plays with her guns religiously.

The news is plastered with the shooting at the Thousand Oaks nightclub. Not so many details yet, but the guy comes in with a .45 pistol and picks targets. It’s awful, a tragedy, to be sure. Middle class white pundits wail and scream.

But the sad or sobering reality is: this shit happens everyday, it just doesn’t dress itself up for a captive audience.

There were 11,004 gun homicides in America in 2016. Most of those you’ve never heard of because they’re small, one-on-one, domestic. More importantly, they tend to happen to people in the margins: Jon and Chuck who hustle opioids in the podunk town the mills foreclosed on; all those black or brown kids in the urban south whose schools you keep defunding. What makes some lives matter more than others? Is it prejudice, greed?

America wants to watch the show. We want to see rich white purity cast in red horror so we can find someone to rail against. Freddy and Jason, a slasher flick. We want a cause, a commotion, an anxiety bigger than ourselves. But when the answer is right beside us – as simple as putting more dollars to the most marginalized of our neighbors, funding food security and infrastructure instead of a flailing gun debate that only acknowledges dramatic victims – we get bored and turn the TV off.

Novel Count: 6,839 words

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“I flashback on that shootout at the beach, twenty deep
You tried to squeeze, your gun jammed and they released
Blood on your tee, how many stains? I see three
The bitch started to panic so I made her switch seats
Drivin’ now, police chopper ahead flyin’ now
Really not too spooked, calmly asked me, “Am I dyin’ now?”
All I know is keep you calm and collected.” – Nipsey Hussle, Blue Laces 2

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Coffee Log, Day 152

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema; today the taste was ‘woodchips from your grandpa’s studio’ and a hint of ‘college dorm’

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto looks just like you: gray skies, string lights, cooking fire.

I’ve been to Canada once – ninth grade, an orchestra trip; we played at a high school, then listened to the Canadians play. These days, they’d probably do a Drake arrangement. Back then it was Beethoven.

On an off day, we toured the city. The Market was a morning stop, breakfast for many, though I don’t remember eating anything. I walked around with a few friends. We warmed up by the food stalls. It was late winter and mostly freezing. For those who haven’t seen it, St. Lawrence is in an old brick shipping warehouse. There’s a ground floor and a basement. Eventually, we got tired with the main floor so we went to the basement. There are more and more stalls down there. I looked at fish drying. I spied the pretty girls with fourteen-year-old eyes, careless.

Back against a pillar, tucked off the main drags, a man in blue jean-rags played guitar with the case open. He had a wild beard. His music was better than the Canadian orchestra’s, better than ours. I’d bought currency at customs and had already broken most of the bills. Pockets full of one and two-dollar coins, I emptied all the foreign money in his case. It was thirty-something. He nodded my way but didn’t miss a beat.

Last night, a gun, bullets, and fire-blooded man shot 15 and killed 2 people on a restaurant-packed street in Toronto. He was crazy, they say, but they always say that. I wonder what songs St. Lawrence’s guitarist is playing right now?

Gray skies, string lights, cooking fire – you can’t find what you’re looking for in the restless brick walls and crowded market, so you take it from someone else, irreversibly.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It seemed to me that everybody ended up in Toronto at least for a little while.” – Alice Munro, Dear Life

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