metrotextual-may 2015

i feel like there’s a point in all of my attempted records where things get a bit murky, and i have hit that point here. my may 2015 file is full of books dated with different months, so i think this means that i didn’t record the exact date that i read them, but i recorded the dates that i blogged them, when i was still doing that. my apologies to kathryn kiutenbrouwer for the interview i never wrote up from our talk about all of the broken things, i don’t think i was actually ready to confront my feelings about talking to you about the book you wrote about vietnamese-canadian identity.

the books:

1) All of the Broken Things-Kathryn Kiutenbrouwer
2) Exposing Myself-Geraldo Rivera
3) From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant-Alex Gilvarry
4) Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy-Darryl Pinckney
5) After Artest-The NBA and the Assault on Blackness-David J. Leonard

these were all very big books, literally and literally. one of them prompted me to contact a former canadian talk show host to ask if he’s ever interviewed geraldo (he had not). one of these i got from the philly free library podcast, my longtime fave.

here are some quotes:

“The effort to exclude under-20 ballers from the NBA, while also motivated by owners not wanting to pay first-round dollars to players who might take years to develop and college programs wanting to profit from the unpaid labor of America’s top ballers, reflects a desire to push America’s best players into attending college so they can join the league having been already ‘seasoned’ and ‘domesticated’.” (102)

“Barbara used to tell me that people like us would always carry the double-edged sword of celebrity: greater access to sources, but resentment from rivals and colleagues. Don’t let it affect your work, she counselled. On some stories, especially in remote places, we will often cause a bigger fuss than the story itself. Don’t worry about it. Just concentrate on doing better than anyone else.” (307)

“There were more rats running around the emergency room than hospital staff. The place would have been a scandal in Addis Ababa, or Bombay, but it was quietly tolerated in the urban wasteland of the South Bronx.” (72)

“What is it that they say? Home is where you hang yourself.” (5)

“Obama’s reelection stimulated concern in some quarters about the price black Americans were paying for a black president.” (39)

“We rented a boat, and I rowed us to a remote corner of the reservoir. The sun baked down hot. I took off my shirt, and we embraced. Right there, the estranged first lady of Canada leant new meaning to the term head of state.” (333)

“It was the shame Teacher conveyed, by trying to fix things. He wanted to shout that these things were just broken. He wanted her to understand about the pride of broken things.” (161)

“And you won’t hear any of us called prisoners either. That’s forbidden too. We are detainees. It is all very clever on their part. Because we are not called prisoners, they don’t have to charge us with a crime.” (206)

five words: politricks, notoriety, truth, advice, reality

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metrotextual-may 2016

the books:

1) The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears-Dinaw Mengetsu-may 6
2) The Punch-John Feinstein-may 11
3) One Last Thing Before I Go-Jonathan Tropper-may 13
4) Eleven Rings-Phil Jackson with Hugh Delehanty -may 17th
5) Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ex*-Heather Belle, Michelle Fiordaliso-may 19
6) Super Sad True Love Story-Gary Shteyngart-may 30

huh. deep in the playoffs for the first time, it doesn’t surprise me that it was mostly fiction and basketball, with a touch of trust issues.

the quotes:

“It wasn’t a kiss so much as it was a gentle press, or an extended graze of lips, full of a sudden, almost crushing tenderness.” (59)

“Players and coaches were far more accessible to the media. To begin with, there were far fewer media outlets. ESPN was still two years from its launch, and USA Today was six years away from publishing for the first time. None of the twenty-four-hour news services that now glut the airwaves existed. Writers often traveled on the same flights as the players. Their lifestyles weren’t all that different. The difference in salaries between most players and most writers wasn’t that great. Often they ate and drank together.” (36)

“He loves her as much as any man can love a woman he’s never spoken to, which is significantly more than you’d think.” (12)

“One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that you can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.” (13)

“And beneath the chaos of the moment, Denise becomes aware of a painful truth about herself: she is never as deeply in love with a man as she is in the moment he leaves her.” (211)

“To earn that kind of trust and affection from a child is to find out that you may have just been a better person than you believed all along.” (108)

“What impressed me most about Scottie, however, was his development over time as a leader-not by mimicking Michael but by teaching his teammates how to play within the system and always offering a compassionate ear when they ran into trouble. This was critical because Michael wasn’t very accessible and many of the players were intimidated by his presence. Scottie was someone they could talk to, someone who would keep an eye out for them on court. As Steve Kerr says, ‘Scottie was the nurturer, Michael was the enforcer.’” (74)

“While the desire to please caregivers is natural, it can become confusing if too much was expected from you as a child…..If responsibilities were foisted upon you too early, you may have come to believe that your greatest worth comes from denying yourself and offering up acts of service instead.” (102)

“I was only sixteen at the time. I didn’t believe in consequences yet.” (126)

“I felt both jealous of their youth and scared for their future. In short, I felt paternal and aroused, which is not a good combination.” (206)

in five words: experience, relationships, revelations, imaginary, intimidation.

metrotextual-may 2017

here are the books i read this month a year ago:

1) milk and honey-rupi kaur-may 3
2) I Have the Right to Destroy Myself-Young-Ha Kim-may 5
3) Listening to Grasshoppers-Arundhati Roy-may 10
4) Things that Can and Cannot Be Said-Arundhati Roy and John Cusack-may 11
5) Long Shot-Craig Hodges with Rory Fanning-may 14th
6) The Art of a Beautiful Game-Chris Ballard-may 16
7) Hungry Heart-Jennifer Weiner-may 22
8) Do I Have to Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?-Jordan and Margaret Paul, Ph.D.-may 25
9) The Name Therapist-Duana Taha-may 27

some pull quotes:

“We all want freedom and we all want intimacy-at the same time.” (19)

“Failure to understand a player’s psyche is a flaw Ravin sees in the disciplinarian style of some coaches. Rather than empowering a player, they strip him of his authority.” (158)

“…being a good writer and a good reporter are far from the same thing. A writer can be invisible, but a reporter has to be both present and persistent, showing up with a notebook or asking questions over the phone.” (130)

“In a lot of ways, I relied on my education to maintain my edge with Jordan. I knew he didn’t know shit about Black history. No matter how much people praised Jordan, no matter how many awards he won, no matter how much money he had, he didn’t have the thing I held most dear: an education in the struggle of our people. This gave me confidence on the court and in the locker room with him.” (99)

“The trend of skipping grades stopped once educators realized that they were creating a generation of social cripples.” (25)

“R.Kelly went on to do great and horrible things. Carlita and I were both proud to say we played a part in his musical success. The fact that he cheated with my wife , in my house, after all I did for him, still haunts me from time to time.” (83-4)

“Can you really bomb feminism into a country?” (22)

“Most people take their first date to a movie, but not me; I take my first dates to hear the minister Louis Farrakhan speak.” (63)

“History is really a study of the future, not the past.” (23)

“It’s easy to have sex when you can’t really communicate.” (66)

“People who don’t know how to summarize have no dignity.” (6)

wow. so i guess we don’t really ever change who we are. (as we shouldn’t). thanks to these writers/ballers for their work.

this metrotextual month (closing tabs)-mays

“you lack discipline. it’s the paralysis of capacity.”

there’s a stunning honestly that comes from someone who loves you, and is mad that you can’t love them back in the way that they want you to. (sigh). i suppose we are complicated beings, ever waddling between seeking attention/affection and control over how that shows up.

so, i accept this and am attempting to do something(s).

here are the books that i read this month:

1) Her Body and Other Parties-Carmen Maria Machado May 2nd
2) The Hate You Give-Angie Thomas-May 6th
3) Sex Object-Jessica Valenti-May 7th
4) The Clasp-Sloane Crosley-May 15th
5) Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You-Lisa Leslie-May 17th
6) New People-Danzy Senna-May 20th
7) Halfrocentric-Jewels Smith-May 21
8) Beautiful You-Chuck Palahniuk-May 23
9) We Gon’ Be Alright-Jeff Chang-May 30

here are some pull quotes from the above:

“If a coach is not strong, consistent, and in control, the team will eventually fall apart.” (100)

“The best sex she ever had was with a white guy she despised and fantasized about bludgeoning to death with an African statuette.” (185)

“Victimhood doesn’t need to be an identity, but it is a product of facts.” (12)

“Hers is a war cry. She must have learned it at that Beijing orphanage. The survivors cry the loudest.” (223)

“You are entitled to us but we’re not even allowed to call you what you are.” (135)

“I am always surprised at the poetry with which boys can describe boning.” (129)

“She has decided all university campuses are alike-the sense of possibility and stasis. She thinks this too: all graduate students, if you look closely enough, exude the same aura of privilege and poverty.” (5)

thank you to these authors for their brilliance. five adjectives to describe where my mind was at this month? go:

un/natural cycling

i just tried to lie down because it was four-thirty-something and i have been crying for hours, and it turns out that there is a top limit of clips that i can watch of lebron becoming the GOAT (again).

what season is this? spring? summer? are the birds confused or ecstatic? what is the reason that they are yelling at the top of their lungs at this time? are they organizing? are they catching up? do they know that we don’t have that much time left? are they really free, or are they just in the sky? i mean, they’re definitely not in the sky right now, they are all in these trees, loud as fuck.

have you ever noticed that when you cry lying down, your tears pool in your ears? since equilibrium happens in there, is it actually possible to drown yourself in sorrow?

either way, i’m up and trying this again because i am not tired, even though i am exhausted. or maybe i am not exhausted, even though i am tired. i’ve never been sure where one stops and the other begins.

i put the itunes on shuffle and three songs in, have just been reminded that i haven’t removed kanye from my ipod yet. we haven’t had the chance to debate whether or not we are removing kanye from our ipods yet. because it’s “lost in the world”, i’m not skipping the track. nope-because it’s “lost in the world”, i’m skipping it. hold on.

(“consideration”-rihanna feat. sza)

when i first met you as a fresh-faced music enthusiast, your locks were swinging proudly as you bragged that you became a woman at a lauryn hill concert. i have always wished that was my story.

(“speechless”-beyonce)

i had to tell my single dad that i got my period when i was eleven and he gave me the free samples that came in the mail, immediately called my uncle, and gave me five dollars to ask my sixth grade teacher to buy me “what the girls were using these days”. he did the best he thought he could.

(“needed me”-rihanna)

it’s been twenty years since miseducation and it’s hard to get excited for a reunion when you no longer recognize anyone. i’m there in a heartbeat if there’s even a little chance of original arrangements, so eager that i’m satisfied with the four bars of ex-factor that skratch bastid played on saturday, and i like “nice for what” as much as anyone, but that song is not meant to be a jock jam.

(“kick your game”-TLC)

i heard the hurt in your voice when you rejected the comfort that people offered you at the funeral when they told you that it was their time. “no. it. wasn’t.” i’ve never said that about anyone from that point on.

(“caint use my phone”-badu)

yesterday, my sistar said that about you, and i said, “well….”

she knows the tattoo artist that was supposed to do your chest piece. of course she does, our communities are strong, connected, beauty-full and resistant as fuck.

i heard the news from your ex, who had heard from your other ex-the one that i had a crush on first, for the record, and i introduced you to. nobody ever remembers that part, but i’m not really mad about it, and now is not the time to be petty.

(“what they do”-the roots)

or maybe neither of you took me seriously because you’d seen me cry over that professor, though you never questioned me when i professed my love for him, or his for me-ok, maybe one of you did. you just laughed when i compared him to that big, drooling cat that came with your sublet in mile end, the one we wrote your dissertation in, the one you introduced me to sweet tea in, the one we lay around montrealing and discussing so much music in. i don’t think we ever talked about how he went on to offer a whole course in kanye when it was i who loved him, i never got to tell you that i felt a way about that.

(“skit #4”-kanye west i have to leave it because it’s the “there’s an imposter among us” skit)

i was on the subway when i got the text, on a slow crawl from warden to kennedy.

(“gold digger”-kanye and jamie foxx-fuck fuck fuckity fuck. skipping.)

(“the old prince still lives at home”-shad)

aside: for someone who came from the midwestern united states, born almost in the ’90s, i was very impressed with your knowledge and gusto for canadian hip hop so this is actually getting kind of eerie.

basically, i had too much time to imagine every possible scenario-in this present climate in your country, in your body, it could’ve been any number of things.

(“blood on the leaves”-kanye west fuckity fuck fuck i cannot skip this one.)

but the truth was absolutely not anywhere in the realm of any possibility that i could have imagined. and that’s how you always were-out of this world. honestly, homie, where did you come from? how were you so full of joy, life, experience, curiosity, wisdom, wonder, and how did you have a renewable source for so much more?

even when you were low, and i know you were. you always lived in such an exemplary way. and so you the ending matches the middle that we didn’t know was the middle. your social media accounts are already fading, but i have your letters and know your hand. i love your pictures and that you printed and mailed them to me. i just looked up at your holiday card now and my eyes are misty again.

(“southside”-common and kanye ok, so you trying to have this discussion, huh?)

the thing is, i didn’t realize that i put up so many of your pictures. i was also on my way to resume the library tour with the book you gifted me with as my guidebook when i learned. i was wearing my sue bird jersey. i was reading the first chuck palahniuk book i had read in years. everything was you and pndubs.

i was numb for 48, but this morning on the train uptown, the tears came forth. of course. you always supported metrotextual, you always saw me and my little acts of processing. remember that time my letter got lost because it went to jamaica jamaica and not jamaica plain, boston? and when you wrote back with a giant box filled with all of my favourite snacks from trader joe’s? there was no return address but i knew immediately that it was you. how the fuck did you remember my favourite snacks from trader joe’s? we never went to no trader joe’s.

(“compton”-kendrick feat. dre)

do you remember our babies that last year we were both in montreal? how you couldn’t just let keyanna cry so you ran to pick her up thirteen seconds after she started? i had her under less than ideal circumstances, and you helped me keep her safe. the twins are ten now, and look so much like their parents, i got a picture last year and meant to send it to you, did i send it to you? i never saw a picture of your new twins, but we did talk about all of the twins that seemed to find us.

(“everything i am”-kanye-sigh, i give up)

2016. it had been a minute. washrooms were a hot topic at that time. you were so relieved to be away from it while you were here. i picked you up and we ate so many seafoods with our hands, and you were there when i kicked my newly finished verse to my favourite poet. you floored me by remembering how i prefer to go through revolving doors-everyone in the same door, bobbing like muppets. i cannot remember a single revolving door in montrill so i don’t know how you even knew that, let alone how you remembered it 9 years later….

(“fireworks”-drake feat. alicia keys)

we went to the conference finals that year. you were here for game 7 vs. indiana, when i cried because we made it out of the first round for the first time since forever. you were still here when kyle hit that halfcourt shot to tie the game and i almost puked in hurricane’s, where they’d already switched some of the screens to the jays’ game because toronto sports fans are like that- hashtag,trust issues.

(“hola’ hovito”-jay-z)

you were there when i went “home” to vancouver before i moved here, back when i was still grasping at that idea of “closure”, when i cut off all my hair and was performing a lot. i was processing and you were in love, travelling to the yukon and shit because, that’s what you did, naturally.

(“the healer”-badu)

i didn’t know that i walked fast until you told me when i last saw you. i don’t think i ever noticed that before. did i walk slower in montreal? probably. i don’t recall you having a problem keeping up.

well, you’re ahead of me now, dear friend. i feel that in a lot of ways, you always have been. lightyears ahead, flying past on your bike. i hope the wind on your face brought you freedom and peace.

i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you.

thank you for loving me and making sure that i felt it.

(“desperado”-rihanna)

coach wooden and me-kareem abdul-jabbar

“you like brazilian music?”

ok so, was this commonly known? i’ve read a concentration of kareem abdul-jabbar‘s books lately, and this is the first one of the bunch that he hasn’t written with a cowriter. i suppose that makes sense, as it is the most personal. the inside jackets are proof of how prolific he’s been (lately, and ever), i feel like this one must have been released within months of writings on the wall. i learn something every time that i read one of his books, and this time, the most surprising thing was when he just tries to casually drop the detail “i had just started training with bruce lee“. the most basic google search yielded this fascinating (and at times homoerotic) clip with a curious soundtrack that i won’t ever be able to unsee.

long relationships always make me cry because they are proof that people can and do choose to stick around and work things out. intentional ones infinitely more so for the work and hurt (and triumph) of these reasons.

***i am feeling the urge to interject my continued feeling that vince carter should retire here because the jersey pictures have already surfaced, and i don’t remember which basketball book it was that i learned that the first step to trading a player is to leak it in the press and see how people receive it, but i did read that, and the response has been great. i’m sad that it didn’t happen by the deadline, i mean, bruno for vc should’ve been a good trade? but they (cleveland and the nba) must have known that veteran leadership and all of they symbolism would’ve pushed this current team towards at least the nba finals…so….***

i am interested in coach books because i am inspired by people who do right because it’s the right thing to do (and sports in general because it is a secular form of witness/worship). respecting, influencing and teaching people is thankless work that may never pay big dividends because it requires those people to also do the work. it may come years later, and in strange ways, as kareem accounts many times in this book (and his others).

here are the highlights as i have pulled them:

“Being good is the payoff, athletically and spiritually. That’s why he didn’t care for sports movies in which the underdog team or player learns the hard way that winning isn’t everything, but then they go on to win at the end.” (8)

bad news bears. it’s also the reason that i dislike the fact that awards for individual merit often outshine team play (i will never get over russell westbrook‘s kick in the face of an MVP award).

“His players would graduate with grades that would give them career opportunities beyond sports. He was worried about our long-term happiness, not our win-loss record.” (23)

no kidding.

“Both of us spoke fluent basketball, a language free of emotion. He loved that shot and saw in it possibilities I hadn’t imagined.” (106)

(sky hook).

“There’s very little creativity in racism.” (133)

still.

“I tried to make the point that true patriotism is about acknowledging problems and, rather than running away from them, joining together to fix them.” (142)

amen.

“It was jazz as religion: everyone playing the same song, but adapting, improvising, harmonizing until we produced beautiful music together.” (217)

this was a really interesting point-no set plays, just lots of practice. i basically told some teenagers the same thing when i was working at the music school, “don’t be scurred, just be pre-purred”. i am almost certain that this is at least part of what’s been happening in san antonio all this time.

the other night, at the rather lacklustre celtics game, we honoured bill russell for black history month as he should be honoured and one of the images on the big screen was obama awarding him with the same award that he awarded kareem with to start this book, the same one that bush (jr) awarded to coach wooden and i got to thinking about whom, if anyone, this sitting guy will honour, since he doesn’t seem to have much regard for or interest in history or the future, and my i am truly sad that he doesn’t know the power of reading.

annex writes-too

and so, we were down to two on wednesday, but it was lovely to talk, continue getting to know each other, be served tea and a “yuppy snack”, as well as be sent home with lunch for the next day along with plenty of accomplishment and inspiration.

here were the poems that we made, first the collaborative word faux sestinas:

toothless smiles
holding tight
a reign of nurturing
the dependence gradient
proceed with tenderness
in this bookend of care

gradients of burden
technicolour cares
shades of reign
grasping at shadows
toothless yet full
tenderness for miles

and the haikus:

going round and round
circular motion always
one day we will stop

if a woman lives
without making another
does anyone know?

dogs come home with fleas
kids with lice and chicken pox
i don’t live with bugs

we all get older
though we don’t always get smart
men get passes though

volume and volume
tomes and issues and chapters
same book or a/new?

we were speaking on themes, perhaps that’s evident?

if you’re reading this we meet next on valentine’s day. it would be lovely to see you again, parkdale writers.