It’d take over 30 years and a Black President for anyone to give enough fucks to address these sentencing atrocities via his “Drugs Minus Two” policy revamp in 2014 (in which 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders were released early from prison) and the much-publicized commutations of 2015 (by which he’d commuted the sentences of nearly 200 Brothers locked up for nonviolent drug offenses), but make note: today,
there are more than 5 times the number of whites getting high as Blacks, and yet we are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate. More than 500,000 of us behind bars for pushing bags of blow to the same kids that made Ellis famous. If you scratch just beneath its surface, Ellis’ Zero
amounts to nothing more than an exposé written in minimalistic prose on the class and racial bias of the Anti-Drug years, which have had lasting effects up until this very day.
Ellis went on to become one of the most unduly canonized writers of his generation, a member of some so-called “literary Brat Pack,” but Ellis, like Singleton, didn’t really live up to his hype with endless rather uninspired versions of the same novel like Rules of Attraction
(1987) and American Psycho
(1991). Critics hated them,
Hollywood loved them,
Ellis went on to be a reluctant star—sick of his success, with works optioned by major Hollywood studios and a career that, once he’s six-feet-under, will set off a wave of posthumous worship by douche-y white kids for generations to come. Where’s Singleton again?
He doesn’t even show up on any trade rag’s list of Hollywood’s most important directors, ever. No shade,
someone needs to go to jail for this
crime, but no worries,
the sun and the sounds reminded me that life in L.A. was wonderful.
that even with its appetite for crime stories (who doesn’t
live for the Black Dahlia?), I was assured that THE GAYS were not on the menu. Whew!
I felt a great weight lifted from my gym bag. The L.A. Times
reported last September that even with a slight uptick in numbers for 2016, “the good news for Los Angeles County is that the number of hate crimes reported in 2015 was the second-lowest total in 25 years. The lowest number came in 2013, with 384 hate crimes reported.”
So while America owns dead white kids hanging like scarecrows on its prairies and will ultimately have to pay for its silence on the murders of over 25 trans women of color in its urban bowels last year, Los Angeles has kept its sales pitch of good fortune in tact, it's outlook of getting ahead in front, because remember, out here, should you get caught cruising Griffith Park, there’s always a studio publicist around to clean up the mess. Dick-sucking-Rebel-Without-a-Cause James Dean got ahead, the 6-foot-5 power-bottom bachelor Rock Hudson too, proving that in Hollywood, you can be a difficult, ornery psychopath or a perfectly respectable leading man—as long as you’re camera-ready and white,
you’ll never have to suffer professionally for your homosexuality.
Harry Hay got ahead too, when founding the pre-Stonewall Mattachine Society in 1950 (believed to be the first modern gay rights group) among the cultural bohemia of Los Angeles at a time when homosexuality was still defined by The American Psychiatric Association as a mental illness. The New York Times
wrote at the time of his death in 2002: “Although little known in the broader national culture over the years, Harry Hay's contribution was to do what no one else had done before: plant the idea among American homosexuals that they formed an oppressed cultural minority of their own, like blacks, and to create a lasting organization in which homosexuals could come together to socialize and to pursue what was, at the beginning, the very radical concept of homosexual rights.”
A whole cattle call
of white boys got ahead when they incorporated a city
in 1984 West of Hollywood (originally called Sherman), and every white boy in a dress got ahead on the heels of Muva Ru as that city became the unofficial planet of origin for any boy up in ’em
back in 2009. As I put on my heels
for a night out at The Abbey, I realized I wouldn’t even have the time to list all the white boys who’ve gotten ahead—Patrick-Harris, Bass, Quinto, Bomber… and well, it seemed that at least the queens
out in Hollywood had retained their manners. That was until I
shimmied onto the dance floor—a fucking unbothered Black sissy—and they all turn their backs on me in unison, one even accidentally spilling his drink on me in protest.
After that debacle, trust,
I did pose more racially conscious questions to boys who looked and acted just like me. What’s up with all these white boys? Why are they so hateful? What’s your take on the pedagogy of the oppressed?
But, if I had struck a chord, I wouldn’t have known it because they’d strike right back with loose racial terms and post-racial ideologies, sort of saying in effect, “This doesn't really concern me.” For a moment, it was profoundly alienating for me. Was I being shaded in the same town as them, or nah? Maybe nah, because upon orders to take off my sunglasses—“the sun was already
rose-hued out here”— I was reminded, that life in L.A. would be wonderful.
Los Angeles had its dark side, fine,
but my battery was drained from the impromptu history lesson, and I was Natalie Portman nauseous
from overdosing on truth and traffic on the I-10 all day. Finally,
my Uber pulled up to a place called Los Globos on Sunset where Karim revealed as Gracie and Matty as the ruling “It” Boy snatched she out of the car past an assortment of other boy wonders to dance the night away on some secret floor of a Silver Lake nightclub that a mutha-fucking-ova-ass-kunt-bitch named Rhonda
had taken over for the night. I hadn’t danced like that in years. I didn’t know Special K was still a thing,
but for what it’s worth I felt heavenly atmospherics out there on the floor, and before the clock struck 2, obviously,
the Angels for which the city is named and their dusts of white powder in capsules, in lines, and in spirits had erased all residue of L.A.’s most sordid affairs.
Before this very moment, a fear of the unknown in this surreal city made engagement with its inhabitants elusive—just beyond the reach of any concrete sentiment. I’d reach out to touch them in a crowd at The Grove, and they’d turn around to become someone else. But Extra, Extra: this was L.A.,
so there was no rush at all, and somehow, as the pace slowed from a fist-pump to a slow grind, I found myself falling in love with a guy who wore tight blue jeans and dirty Chucks and partied in the hills with Miley, only ever using the word chill
to describe any-and-everything.
His name was LA
and I was head over heels into the pool—only 4-feet-deep—but drowning nonetheless.
The next morning as I lay in bed, once sleep and dreams had fallen away, I realized I’d been imprinted by a crush, and rather than run for the hills, wait,
run in the hills,
I decided to just let my heart go.
...But not my body, so LA
took me to the Equinox on Sunset to lift what felt like tons
of pretension before heading downstairs for Bitty Berry smoothies where eight dollars never felt so light. He helped me reorganize my mind to float above the provenance of Blackness by taking me high into the hills, and then getting me high, before pulling a metal detector out of his trunk—he was silly like that—and assuring me that we would
find gold, even under a rough crust of broken dreams, racial violence, trash, and vaudeville. Seemed like the dumbest thing ever at first, but when he told me about the “nugget factor,” I was intrigued.
“You can find nothing all day out here, then end up with a couple ounces in one nugget. So the biggest advice I have is never quit, never give up, never slow down. If you are easily discouraged, you'll have a tough time here. Persistence is the name of the game. And a little bit of luck might help.”