Chris Cornell and Crying

Sad things and sad people are more pleasant, more real, because they’re more relatable; Chris Cornell was no exception. The first song I ever learned to play on guitar was “I Am The Highway,” and to this day it’s really the only song I can sing and play simultaneously. Later, “Heavens Dead” was the first song I ever cried to. I was lonely and trying not to drink and hadn’t been sleeping well for some time and a doc at the VA fucked around and gave me some Trazodone. Half a pill later I was glued to my bed, sweat burning my eyes while all the metal in my apartment glowed red and smoke sifted in beneath my bedroom door because I thought I left the burners and oven on, but then the oven blew up, my dog and kids along with it and my ears rang but I couldn’t get up to do anything about it so I just laid there cold and wet with sweat, afraid to stand even when my limbs started working again.

I took a shower and tucked the Trazodone away in a cabinet, then I stretched out on the floor listening to Chris Cornell and the only reason I noticed I was crying was because I felt so much better. I used Audioslave’s music, namely the octave range and lyrics of Chris Cornell’s voice to make me feel less lonely, like I was a human worth being, worth thinking things that not every normal person I knew agreed with. Essentially, I got over my frustrations with the blissful ignorance of my neighbors by thinking, now this fucking guy, he gets it; he sounds like I feel. And I know I’m not the only one; that’s what I love about art.

All day and night as my brain deconstructs the nuance of thousands of conversations, situations, stories, feelings, expressions, theories and material items–both good and bad, though without my permission either way–art, primarily music, is the only means by which I can stop deconstructing what was, is or could be, and actually breathe a little. Listening to “Heavens Dead” probably helped me breathe a lot.

Before I got rid of that Trazodone for good, I’d gotten really frustrated with the lack of sleep and angry about a bunch of other activities of daily human: failed relationships, but mostly the inevitable growing apart from all of my friends, who were the closest thing I’d ever known to family. I think it was more sad because then, and even now, it still feels like I’m the only one noticing the disconnects in what we say or care about and how we think or feel (if and when a male friend is even able to talk about feelings beyond a superficial level). We’ve grown in opposite directions, and some not at all. Anyways, upon realizing this I tried the Trazodone again, maybe a handful of them and passed out, but I woke up in the middle of the night, exhausted and vomited next to the dog. Then I trashed the Trazodone out and put on Out of Exile.

In no way am I prescribing Chris Cornell’s voice as a cure for depression; it doesn’t always help and has varying layers of effectiveness. But it is at times, a relief to know that there are other options.

Is Marvel allergic to Medical Consultants?

I mean, for real. I love Rosario Dawson/Claire, and I’ve heard she’s a great person in real life but I have to draw the line somewhere. Half-way through Marvel’s “The Iron Fist” I had come to accept the global lack of plot and/or character motivation, deciding to finish it only because:

A: Brandon is in it, on like episode twelve, and

B: It’s a preamble to the “Defenders” series

But still, I couldn’t help but cringe after Danny, the Iron Fist Rand, gets beat up in the back of a truck by stock bad guy #17 and causes the archetypal Russian chemist–whose daughter is of course being held captive by shadow corporation #23 so that he will help flood the streets with fire ass heroin–to be stabbed by stock bad guy #17, resulting in the classic sucking chest wound. The script, fine, expected it, whatever. The problem is that Danny takes said Russian chemist to secret superhero helper nurse Claire who decides that the only way to deal with his sucking chest wound is with a credit card.

“Do you have your credit card?” she asks.

Now clearly, there’s the money pun with Claire requesting billionaire Danny’s physical credit card to save someone’s life. It’s supposed to elevate this situation, add layers and shit, but it doesn’t. It’s just too far from practical. Remember when everyone was flipping shit about the whole pen-style emergency crics on medical shows like “ER”? The credit card chest seal improvisation far exceeds the standards of ridiculous, yes, even on a super hero show–most of which, by the way, are liminal fantasy, so the rest of the world does follow the rules of physics, etc. I wasn’t that upset at first though, even while staring at the credit card and gauze taped lightly–not even two inches mind you–around the wound, blood and air doing whatever it wants, however it wants on the Russian chemist’s chest.

The real problem is that they got my man back to their apartment and then left the sloppy credit card/gauze chest seal in place, not that it was or could have been working anyway. Claire was like, fuck checking my interventions. And even stranger, in the house stocked with, at minimum, food and water, there wasn’t any saran wrap? Was there no plastic in the entire house, or the the bodega down the street? Claire couldn’t walk into the clean utility closet at her old hospital and grab one of the Atrium kits? Not even a few fourteen gauge needles and chest seals? It’s just too ridiculous to not be distracting.

Of course, some people will be like, why does it matter? Well, just to start, it’s a tad troubling when such low quality art, narrative that is loosely bound to the world of nerdom that I call home is even acceptable. When Marvel studios won’t even bother to phone a friend for life-or-death scenes with characters that we’re supposed to care about, at least tangentially, what the fuck is the point of even creating the story? The tension dissolves. The plot–if there was one to begin with–would wither away. We just aren’t being taken serious as fans or even viewers, and it’s kind of sad.

Black Zombie Girl Magic.

I only recently discovered that I wasn’t the only one engaging “The Girl With All The Gifts” with critical race theory in mind. I wondered though, why a little Black girl who destroys the entire human world as we know it–see white civil society–didn’t get more attention. Negative attention is what I would have guessed. It didn’t do very well in the box office in the UK, and I’m tempted to delve into that whole thing a little more. Many of the reviews for the movie adaptation focus on smart zombies and such, and yes it is an interesting/novel idea, but I have to say, the race swap between Ms. Justineau and Melanie changes the whole fucking game.

 

Melanie, played by Sennia Nanua, is part of an ongoing experiment involving child zombies with partial sentience: partial because they’re still liable to lose control and eat humans if tempted by scent, though often times, Melanie proves to be much more intelligent than her full human counterparts. In the book, Melanie was white and Ms. Justineau was Black. The swap of these two characters for the movie–who I feel were both cast very well–works as much more than just a diversity plug for the big screen though. Melanie, throughout the whole film is treated as less than human; she is caged and her body is forfeit in the pursuit of human ambitions which she is not only excluded from, but whose success would mean the destruction of her entire species.

 

Sound familiar?
Still, she cooperates. She tries. She plays her part and saves the lives of her human companions after the facility where she is being held burns down. The most fantastic thing though, is that she figures out that no matter how hard she tries, even in spite of her relationship with Ms. Justineau, they will never see her as a person. So what does she do with that? She’s not a person. She’s something better, so she does better. Only in science fiction could this young Black girl achieve such personhood because we aren’t even ready to conceive what it would look like in real life. Melanie realizes that her worth isn’t based on something as empty as “human” which only exists really, because of its ability to compare what is not human, what is other. So, Melanie burns the whole fucking world down, just like we deserve. She literally stands over the white man and tells him, “it’s just not yours anymore” as he dies. Better yet, the benevolent liberal of this tale, Ms. Justineau takes her rightful place in the cage, as Melanie uses her body to teach a new generation of beings which she will always be excluded from. How is it possible not to love that?

Not with a Bang, but a whimper

You know, I think it’s the social death that bothers me more. Every time a Black kid is degraded, maimed or killed by a cop, it’s not the act itself that I’m most disgusted by. I guess knowing it was always a thing, and now the frequency with which such events are recorded or written about has forced me into a state of perpetual shitty television show watching malaise, like I’m waiting for Tyrell and five other men on Jerry Springer or Steve Wilkos or whoever to find out if they all might be da father of Keisha baby and shit. It’s always on, everywhere. At work, at the barbershop, people talking about it, it’s unavoidable and the outcome, though obvious, doesn’t even fucking matter, because collectively we’re already in it from the start. Damn near every reproduction of Blackness continues to either dehumanize, or–conversely, yet similarly–to elevate those of us who are ideologically closer to whiteness, think tame, or as Damon might say, sunken place negroes like Steve Harvey, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, et al (who is currently fondling the idea of affordable housing as long as it’s not too comfortable).

Every interaction with a Black person in this country, is predicated on a history and present that American innocence will never acknowledge; but it still hurts to see, not one paragraph into the article, that J

If you don’t get the fuck out of my face with that. Like we have a choice. Being superior in a long ass game where every piece is culturally biased against us is the only defense, and it doesn’t even work. And it’s exhausting. And you’re still gonna just be some dumb nigga, subconsciously at minimum, even to some white folks you might be close to. And they’re going to use anything as evidence to further the idea of your inferiority, especially, if even for your own mental health, you simply choose not to engage from time to time.

I love the scene in “Dear White People,” where Reggie is at this party, bustin that ass at this Ivy League trivia game and just lays it on the table: “Damn,” he says. This game is culturally biased against me, and I’m still whoopin that ass. I know your shit, and my shit!” I was happy for him. It feels good, I know, so damn good. But what happens next? He doesn’t want one of the guys there to rap “nigga” in his ear during one of the songs and, after the third time he says, “hey man, we cool, but could you just not say that?” And then the White kid–who deems his right to rap about niggas superior to the polite request from a friend to not do so–begins to break down Barney style to Reggie, why he should be allowed to say it anyway. Mind you, Reggie, the much more intelligent person than he, who was asked to join and win said bourgeoisie Ivy league trivia game on politics/culture/philosophy/history etc, who is miles above his peers, academically at their Ivy League school, is immediately being talked down to (happens all the time), in spite of any and everything.

Reggie, who knows their shit (white people) and his own shit–because let’s face it, we don’t have a choice–is brought right down to monkey status because this kid who was supposed to be his friend believes he has a groundbreaking idea, that will rock the foundations of social relations as Reggie knows them. He doesn’t, of course. He assumes that Reggie could not have imagined the implications of the ultra simple, mediocre, unthought, un-critical shit that he’s about to say about the etymology and cultural representation of the word nigga because Reggie is Black Reggie. Some shit about nigga being in the song so what does Reggie want him to do, hum instead? Plus, Black people say it. Groundbreaking. More true, is that Reggie may not have ever discussed this with his friend simply because:

  1. He would just immediately re-center Whiteness/himself.
  2. He would say something about Africa, or Jewish slaves or whatever.
  3. He would in some way, divert the importance of what it means to live in this country in a body that bares the common-sense perception of Blackness to either dating or fucking Black people or having familial ties to them.

Or, Reggie probably acknowledges how basic the arguments are around whether it should be socially acceptable for White people to say nigga (amongst other things), regardless of whether they’re repeating a rapper or say, a patient in a North Philly emergency department. Either way, the fact that Reggie is then being taught something that he’s probably had worked out since he was five, as if it’s new and exciting information, escalates the situation. Now, all the anger that we are never permitted to express is the only thing Reggie has left, so he gets up in the middle of a graduate class at Saint Joseph’s University, and chokes the shit–no no, wait. Reggie, at the Ivy League party, raises his voice, a little, and the Whites shiver and people are like “calm down bro” and then the cops show up and see Reggie. That’s it, they see Reggie and not much else and demand that he furnish his I.D. even though he’s been a fucking graduate student at this University for two years and is about to get an achievement award at graduation and sees the same fucking security guys every–no, wait. Reggie, at the Ivy League party is disinterest, to say the least, his ears are on fire and he can’t possibly imagine placating even a second longer to the bullshit so he’s like fuck this, fuck you, fuck them, fuck this school, fuck this society, and then the cop pulls a gun on him.

 

In order to gauge his humanity the next day, while the cop is on administrative leave, CNN will start with, “he was a straight-A-student, well liked…” But it won’t fucking matter.