Parable of the Man Who Could Write
Brother, you always amaze me. The way you can turn out a piece every day of the year, 356 days, or however many there are, you are always on the case, sometimes three or four pieces if there is a hot subject. I mean all over the wide wide world web. And be on Da corner, too. Fantastic!
You know, I like those Westerns--I was born and raised up in that age--in which there is always some white cat (tall and rugged) who is handy with a gun, you know, the fastest gun in the West, especially in those Spaghetti Westerns out of Italy in which Clint Eastwood became so famous.
Well, if it wasn't the fastest hand it was the man with the biggest balls in town who just couldn't be stared down or the man in which bullets just passed him by without putting holes in his garments.
Well, Brother Marvin, you got the fastest pen or fingers (as it would be in our computer age) in the West. You have no peer in that regard. You are the Great One of the Internet. You have no match: none can stand up to the work you do daily. You are omnipresent, like a god. In your case a Black God whose nose is still in tact....
Loving you madly,
Rudolph Lewis, Editor
ChickenBones: A Journal
Parable of the Man Who Could Write
There was a Negro who could write. People were amazed he could write, put books together quicker than you can say Jackie Robinson! But their doubts quickly subsided once they perused his books. Some people were in total shock at his flair for the pen. "Man, you can really write," one person said. This person didn't know the Reno Gazzette called him, "The writer's writer," meaning he excelled in multiple genres, journalism, poetry, drama, fiction, non-fiction, technical writing. He was so good at writing checks, he was charged with sixteen counts of forgery! He beat the case by writing a statement that each of the sixteen people had given him permission to cash their checks, which they signed.
The Last Poets, his buddies from the Harlem Black Arts Movement of the 60s, swear he writes a book a month. Well, he wrote his memoir of his buddy Eldridge Cleaver in three weeks while on national tour for another book How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy. He was in Houston, Texas at his daughter's house when, after a conversation with her about Cleaver, he decided to pen the Cleaver memoir, My Friend the Devil. Even though his friends and comrades in the liberation movement long considered Cleaver the devil incarnate, they were upset when he labeled Cleaver Satan. His delay was out of respect to Kathleen and her children.
Actually he officiated a Cleaver Memorial service in Oakland. So why shouldn't he have the final say on his friend, the man he introduced to Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, after being the first person Cleaver hooked up with upon his release from Soledad prison in 1966? Along with playwright Ed Bullins, singer Willie Dale and X's companion Ethna X. Wyatt (Hurriyah Asar), they organized the Black House, a political cultural center in San Francisco. The Black House was funded with Cleaver's royalties from his bestseller Soul on Ice.
But as per the man who could write, another brother said, "Man, I was planning to write a book, but after reading your book, I don't need to write. You said everything I wanted to say the way I wanted to say it!"
Well, thank you very much, said the man who could write. I am honored you realize I really know how to write, that I can construct a sentence, a paragraph, and a page or two, even though I flunked English grammar and can't spell a lick, but I can write a book or two. And I do indeed have a point of view. I may ramble a little here and there, but I know how to focus, how to argue a point and come to a conclusion.
On May 29, 1944, it was at least a hundred and ten degrees that Monday morning when he came out of his mother's womb down in the Central Valley town of Fowler, a raising growing community where his mother was born as well, who attended a nearly all white high school, with a few Japanese farmer's children.
Of course many of the Japanese farmers and their families were put into concentration camps around the time of his birth. World War II was ending, the atomic bomb was dropped shortly after he turned a year old.
By executive order of President Harry S. Truman the U.S. dropped the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed by the detonation of "Fat Man" over Nagasaki on August 9. These are the only use of nuclear weapons in war."
Therefore, should we not worry about the white man using nuclear weapons, rather than Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel(oh, they white too!)?
The man who could write was thus a war baby. He remembers when his uncles came home from WWII, Clarence and Stanley, his mother's brothers. Clarence would say nothing about the war. He became associate editor of the family newspaper Fresno Voice. Stanley showed him pictures of his war buddies. He told of seeing his buddies heads shot off. When his parents separated, Stanley became his surrogate father. Uncle Stan told him he had to eat some pussy to be a man. He ain't mastered that lesson yet, not completely and totally! lol
His parents took he and his brother Ollie, a year older, to the drive in theatre to see Lena Horne in Stormy Weather, circa 1944. He remembers Stormy Weather, also the newsreel of Palestinian refugees storming across that bridge into Jordan.
Imagine, a Negro, Ralph Bunche, Undersecretary of the United Nations, helped establish the state of Israel. Years later, the man who could write heard a radio broadcast by Elijah Muhmamad saying, "Ralph Bunche is a Negro we don't need." There's a plethora of Negroes we don't need these days. They should be recycled into aluminum cans.
For the first years of his life, whenever the movie theatre showed newsreels of Palestinian refugees, his little baby mind couldn't figure out why so many people were crossing that bridge. It horrified him to see so much such suffering, even though he was four years old at best when the Zionist entity was finally established, 1948.
His parents explained nothing, so he just sat eating popcorn and watching people running for their lives because the Nazis had crucified the Jews in Germany. But what did this have to do with Palestinians, how was Hitler connected with Palestinians? Why didn't they give the Jews land in Germany? The Palestinians didn't put them in the oven? Why are you throwing Palestinians out of their homes and replacing them with those who say they are God's chosen people? Jesus said, "You are of the synagogue of Satan! If you were Abraham's children you would do the works of Abraham! You are a liar and murderer and abide not in the truth. If God were your father you would love me, but you seek to kill me because I tell you the truth!"
One day he heard a brother running through the housing projects where he lived with his grandmother, shouting, "The war is over in Korea, the war is over everybody." Over a half century later, the war ain't over, US troops are still stationed in South Korea and Japan. The imperialists and their running dogs are fanning the flames of war as we write.
The man who could write was a born writer. His earliest memories are sitting atop his father's desk pecking on the typewriter. The photograph is lost. But he remembers sitting there pecking and watching his dad lay out the type for his newspaper The Fresno Voice. He was two, three or four. It took him a long time to understand how his dad could lay the type spelling the words backwards.
For a Gemini, writing comes natural. He loves communication, observation and studying people, looking at their walk, dress, eyes, smile, voice, language.
Now some of his observation skills came from his grandmother, especially after his parents moved from Fresno to Oakland. Grandma's hands were precious in his life, even more than his mother's. He loved his grandmother like a hog loves slop, like a Negro loves pork chops! He read his first black book at Granny's, her old raggedy copy of Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery.
His mother was busy with six children and wrestling with his dad. Mom eventually broke up with his dad and later hooked up with another man. The man who could write was all in his mama's business, til she had to put him out in his senior year in high school. She rented him a room since he was way out of control, attacking her new man with a knife.
Mom was only trying to have a life, just as he was, but he was in her business, as if she didn't have a right to her life!
I love you Mom for putting me out--children need to stay out of their moma's business, especially boys suffering that Oedipus complex! Get yo motherfucking ass out yo mama's bizness! Yo mama got a right to fuck whomever she want to fuck, big time gangsta ass nigguh, juvenile delinquent. That's yo mama's pussy, not yours, big time! Get you a life, nigguh!
When his dad moved to Oakland from Fresno, after fiduciary crimes in real estate, he became a florist on Seventh Street in West Oakland, so the budding writer grew up with the Scott brothers, Paul Cobb, Leon Teasley, Roy Overalls, Curtis and Oscar Simmons, Alvis and Billy Ray Ward, Penneywell, and others, some of whom became violent gangsters, including his brother Ollie.
After a lifetime of violence, pimping, drug dealing, and long prison time, only now is he enjoying his brother's love, although his brother tells him after a life of crime and prison, he don't know how to love, to accept love. His brother often meets him downtown at his Academy of Da Corner, 14th and Broadway. At Da Corner, he and his brother meet the few childhood friends still alive, Paul Cobb, Willie Reems, Freddie Boone, Ralph Scott, et al.
In childhood, the budding writer loved Jackie Adams, from the second grade to junior high at Lowell. But she had brothers cock blocking, so he never got to her. At Lowell he was on the basketball team, along with Joe Ellis, who went on to play for the Warriors. He fell in love with Doris Elliott, a cheer leader, especially after she rocked his world by sticking her tongue in his mouth. He's never been quite the same.
For many years, Dad's florist shop was at 7th and Campbell, down the block from Campbell Village, the notorious housing projects in West Oakland. And they're still notorious, except that a white woman, as Paul Cobb noted, can jog pass the projects at night without fear. If the blacks curse her it's a terrorist threat, if they attack her it's a hate crime that can qualify for the death penalty. But it's not a terrorist threat when blacks disrespect each other, and black on black homicide doesn't qualify for the death penalty. Why?
Granny used to sit in the window of the living quarters in back of the shop. There was a window in his bedroom that looked out onto Seventh Street, though the window was on Campbell. From the window one could see half way down the block on Seventh, from Campbell Street to the Lincoln Theatre, in between were a bar, cafe and clubs, enough activity for Granny to have an eye view of action never scene in her little country world of the dirty South (Oklahoma) and in Central California, although there was a little activity in Fresno's Chinatown, with clubs and gambling houses for the mainly agricultural workers, grape cutters, cotton pickers and choppers, watermelon pitchers, mostly black and Mexican.
Many nights Granny would send his uncle and mother to rescue his grandfather from El Gato Negro, a bar and gambling house on G Street. After a time, his uncle Stan would come out with the boy's grandfather, Johnny Murrill, stumbling drunk and broke again. His mother couldn't understand how or why her father could work all week in the hot fields then mess off his money on the weekends drinking and gambling. But isn't this the ritual of many men throughout the world, the wage slaves who must medicate themselves rather than fight the oppressor, even beat their wives and girlfriends but never approach the oppressive boss who is pimping them to death.
From her seat in the window on Campbell and 7th Street, Granny would sit for hours late nights, especially on the weekends, watching Negroes on Seventh Street "acting a fool," she said. Sometimes she would let her grandson watch the high Negro drama, the bumper to bumper cars cruising pass, 7th Street wall to wall with Negroes, dressed clean as a mosquito's tweeter, in and out of clubs, cafes, restaurants, the Lincoln Theatre watching all black movies, this was Nigguh Heaven! No matter the segregation, Negroes were in their world, doing their thing without the presence of the white man. When the police came, the boy saw them get their asses whupped, sometimes in broad daylight.
Granny had to force him out the window and into bed, especially after 2am when the clubs closed and activity slowed or Negroes slipped into the after hours clubs. Now Slim Jenkins was at the other end of Seventh, toward the Army base and Navy Supply Center. At Slim's was the very best jazz and shows, including Josephine Baker, Earl Father Hines and an array of others from the black world.
Seventh Street was thus Harlem of the West, although across the Bay was Fillmore Street, but more blacks lived in Oakland, so it was more intense than San Francisco, although his dad would often drive the family across the bridge to Frisco to the "black belt" district of Fillmore. And there it was the same, Negroes "acting a fool," having fun, laughing, shouting, cussing, fighting, loving, hating, stabbing, getting busted by the police.
On Seventh Street the military police were out in full force, intervening fights with Negro civilians and those in uniform, usually over women in the clubs, or AWOL soldiers.
Aside from elementary school writings that astounded his classmates, such as a story based on his reading of Earl Stanley Gardner mysteries and watching Dragnet on TV and absorbing the vocabulary, the budding writer had stories in the Children's Section of the Oakland Tribune.