Tuesday, January 25, 2022


There is a part of me that is almost embarrassed that it took me this long to really delve into James Baldwin, luckily i'm an excellent binge reader and have now ran through almost every essay the man wrote, Notes of a Native Son, The Fire Next Time, Nobody Knows My Name, The Devil Finds Work, The Library of America does a fantastic job of collecting pieces and putting them in hardbound books in what turns out to actually be a great value. To put it simply i'm a fan of what they do... but i digress. Mr. Baldwin was so far ahead of his time that his ideas are still challenging and thought provoking and sadly still highly relevant in a country that is still rife with racism and bigotry and with the rise of an orange autocrat silver spooned buffoon and his Dunning-Kruger army the level of hegemonic white butt hurt has risen to dangerous levels. As i've stated before many people confuse being a selfish, self-centered asshole with freedom. They are not the same thing and never will be. 

If there was one sentence though that really hit me it was this one, on page 700 and something and since it particularly pertained to things around the Casa de Kono at the time (the sentence pretty much pertains to life all the time) it struck a bulls-eye. "I believe, if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less." How fucking brilliant is that? a dozen fucking words and James pretty much sums up human existence. If we knew ourselves better we'd damage ourselves less. Yet here in the so-called land of milk and honey, a land where there is a billion dollar industry supposedly aimed at that very concept, very few of us know who the fuck we are, we think we do yet we have no fucking clue, we don't want to sit in a quiet room and think about where we are and how we got here and what we are doing. In the land of consumerism the acquisition of wealth and possessions has become the way we know ourselves, it's how we place value on the humans around us and it's a fucking travesty. I often find the ones who flaunt or possess the most trinkets and dosh are the ones who are the poorest and saddest souls among us. Lives spent in the pursuit of these things are not really lives at all. Yet it would be a difficult conversation because the people in this position would chalk it up to jealousy or use the excuse that i'm (or whoever broaches the subject) just lazy or envious where in fact i'm just trying to help them understand before they waste the time they have. But what makes me an authority on the subject? well nothing actually and it took me a long time to figure this little theory out and i'm still working on it myself though i guess i was lucky in that i've always had an innate ability to understand who i am, not always, and sometimes i understood it was convenient to lie to myself but in those early wee hours staring at the ceiling i knew... and sometimes that meant knowing i was a complete fucking bastard... the truth is never easy.

Which brings me to the new year... to say it's been quite a year for the I-mac would be an understatement. He's growing up and doing all the things teenagers do and New Years Eve was no exception... much like my father told me i've told him that if he gets fucked up i'd much prefer he call me and i'll come get him, no questions asked. It's happened once and NYE seemed a ripe time for it to happen again. The first time it happened he swore he'd never do it again, this as he sat with a bucket in his lap as i drove him home, uttered between dry heaves. I laughed and said, i'm quite sure it will happen again and you are saying the words anyone who has ever gotten shit-faced has said, in fact boy your old man has said those words more times than he can count and it took him until he was 44 years old to swear it off or good... to become Cali sober as they say. And so when my phone rang at 1:15am NYE i answered, got dressed, and went to pick up my son from the house he was going to stay at, the house that had a raging party where it seemed puking was the theme as the boyo informed me that the whole patio was practically covered in vomit as damn near every kid there was blotto. 

Which brings us to the part about knowing yourself. The kid is 15, i don't really expect him to know himself, what fucking 15yr old does? In fact he's just figuring out who he is but i understand much better now from my view here at 51 and why i'm sure i caused my old man much worry in my youth. The boy was adamant he wasn't going to get drunk and the Breadwinner even suggested he take some beer from our house, a couple or three, and that could be his limit. Of course he said it wasn't necessary and i knew right then i'd be getting a call... and of course i did, to which i donned my jacket and made the short drive to pick him up, got him home and deposited his ass in bed. Even better (yes sarcasm) the party he went to ended up being a fucking super-spreader event and the boy became the first in the house to get our friendly neighborhood virus. As for the rest of us so far so good as we did a fine job of isolating the I-mac and his old man was vigilant in his cleaning and enforcing of the rules, (masks and the like in the house when around him, the boy stuck in his room.) So knock on wood... 

Which brings me back to the knowing yourself theme... what somewhat astounds me as i speed towards the void is the relative ignorance of the parental types when it comes to dealing with teenagers. First off we were all teenagers once which means we knew a fuck ton more than any other living being and in particular our parents who knew fuck all about anything. I defer to the Mark Twain quote on this subject. To say i wasn't drinking, smoking weed and fucking as a teenager would be a lie... i was... i know that all those things are out there and in particular cannabis has much less of a stigma now then it did when i was a kid even if that stigma remains in some of the more square types. It seems that when the adults talk about these kids they forget that they were once doing the same thing and now suddenly we think these kids shouldn't be doing exactly what we did. I understand that the concern comes from a place of good intention, from love and caring and worry, but the best thing to do is talk to them about it no matter how uncomfortable it might be. In my case it's easy, my relationship with the boyos is pretty wide open and i've told the I-mac stories to help illustrate how stupid his old man was and how the reason i'm relaying said story is to show him the pitfalls of certain actions. The fact he gets it is great but that doesn't mean he's not going to do the same dumb shit i did. I just worry more now because it's not me doing it and of course when i was fucking doing it i knew what i was doing... what a fucking laugh, it's a bit hypocritical to say the least but when i hear some of these adult types talk i chuckle with their sudden affliction of naivete... 

In just six short months i will have two teenage boys... seems like i fucking blinked. This little endeavor? the lounge? just turned 15 if my memory serves... know yourself huh? i can look back through the tripe deposited on these pages and laugh at where i was, where i've been, who the fuck i am now... and really who the fuck am i now? all i really know is that i'm not bored and it's been quite the adventure, this life thing, the boyos adding more to it than i could have ever imagined... there was once a time when i thought the end all be all was running the streets, epic hangovers, shagging strange women, and in general being a nuisance to society... now? i don't really give a fuck about any of that, now i just want to raise me boyos, watch them grow up, read my books and ponder the beauty and meaning of it all when i know it doesn't mean anything really, that the only thing that matters is love, for my boyos, my cats, a hamster, a fish, and yes to you dear reader, whoever you may be, to show love and compassion to my fellow humans even when i don't receive it in return because there is no use in causing more pain, the universe in general will dole out enough of that on it's own, the job is to abide, to boil it down to the one sentence Philosophy of El Kono... don't be an asshole... and i'm trying Ringo... i'm trying real hard.  


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