the riot within-rodney king

my journey from rebellion to redemption

“Now I know what my dad went through, because I have prowled the dark side and have paid dearly for my addiction to alcohol, which I feel is the most dangerous drug. Not the worst drug, like meth or heroin, but the one that wrecks the most lives because it’s totally legal, easily accessible, and a stone-cold killer. My dad didn’t make it past forty-two.” (22)

and, the ultimate tragedy is that rodney king died a few months after this book was released-at age forty-seven. i heard him speak about it on the npr book podcast, and got in line for it at the library. it was still on my shelf in the queue when i heard about his passing. i guess, sir, we really can’t just get along. but maybe one day we can learn something from your eternal struggle.

“While I was trying to decide whether to take the stuff, a few more friends rolled up in SUVs and hatchbacks, all filled to the brim with tons of goods. Each had the same idea: they were bringing all kinds of stuff for me and my family. They could have taken off for their homes and stashed all of it for themselves, but they wanted me to have first dibs. Said it was the right thing to do. I got the chills again, getting very emotional and almost crying right there as I stood on the sidewalk.” (68)

a detail about the looting that we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.


2 thoughts on “the riot within-rodney king

  1. name droppin’:

    “While behind bars, I would always look for something to lighten the burden-and I actually found something. For me, it was the fact that we had a resident celebrity. It was none other than Ike Turner. Now, I only got to be near Ike a few times, but he had prison life licked. He had his own private cell, and nobody messed with him. Almost all prisoners shared a cell, but not with Ike, he had a cell all to himself. Ike also had a lifetime supply of chocolate, which he loved. I’m talking about stacks and stacks of almond and plain Hershey’s bars. He had a couple of rats for pets that had crept into his cell from God knows where, and Ike used to feed them chocolate, give them names, and pet them like a kid would hold a hamster. He was smart, though, because he kept the rest of the chocolate tightly sealed shut in cookie tins. Being around Ike was the one good memory I took with me after my year in the pen. He was the ultimate of cool. I remember him rocking out with his wife, Tina, in the early seventies, and I still smile when I think of him running the show in there.” (40-1)

    this is really a stunning visual. Ike Turner feeding prison rats chocolate?

    “The story I heard was that Mac 10 was brilliant the way he used his resourcefulness to move up the ladder in the rap business. He wrote a letter to the Muslim brothers who had access to Ice Cube. He spoke passionately to Cube and told him in the letter that he was close to the persecuted black man Rodney King, and that in fact his dear cousin Dede was Rodney’s wife. Whether this actually was what got him to meet Cube, I’ll never know for sure. But Monty was smart and resourceful, and made the most of the opportunity. He became a protege of Cube, who began to feature Mac 10 in his shows.” (176)

    mack 10? spell check? rodney king record label?

    “They even brought on Billy Blanks, the Tae Bo guy, to offer instruction. He worked with all of us at one time or another. However buff he looks on TV, he’s even more cute in person!” (201)

    um, pause.

  2. american justice system:

    “Many people don’t understand how those policemen ended up back in a courtroom again after that ‘not guilty’ verdict came down. The fact is that a lot, or maybe all, of the civil trial had to do with President Bush and his insistence that justice be done. I still think about him and how his direct involvement helped all of us in this country feel like we could maybe trust the judicial system, that it actually worked.” (86)

    “I was involved in more incidents the next decade. In September 2001, the cops arrested me in Pomona for indecent exposure and for being on PCP.” (131-2)

    oh, how we mark milestones.

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