Black Power Mixtape (Summer 2017)

The fourth and final BookTalk is for mature audiences.  BookTalk 1 focused on criticism of technology.  BookTalk 2 explored the artistic legacy of Orwell’s novel 1984BookTalk 3 grappled with the sprawling and surreal world of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666BookTalk 4 attempts to understand Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man; and, analyze it in conjunction with Grant Morrison’s comic series The Invisibles.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (deutscher Trailer)

To understand American History or American Literature, any analysis failing to address racism would be incomplete.  Furthermore, BookTalk 4 does not aim to “check a box” or celebrate some twisted form of cultural appropriation.  A reader would comprehend modern Anglo American culture from a study of 1984, as much as one would comprehend African American culture from reading Invisible Man; however, both of these powerful novels help us perceive the universal plight of the forgotten “thinking” man.

To identify as color blind and avoid discussion of racism is disingenuous.  The post-racism era remains as an elusive utopian concept.  President Obama has not ushered in this new era, though he has established a major milestone in history.  The end of his term in office and the new administration’s rise to power — including its emphatic goal to undo the Obama legacy — serve as a critical setting for this final BookTalk.

Trump claims a lot of things.  During the 2016 Election a media blip surfaced the assertion that Trump could have won against Obama – if Obama could have run again.  To this, most audiences would say “Get Out” and it was perfect timing for Jordan Peele’s social thriller of the same name.  The philosophy of Get Out covers many topics related to an initial understanding of Invisible Man.


Writing this in central Florida — the supposed birthplace of the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin circa the 2012 Election — I am well aware of how difficult it can be to discuss racism.  During Obama’s first term in office, I had the opportunity to participate in a book study on Gary Corsair’s “The Groveland Four: The Sad Saga of a Legal Lynching.”

The Groveland Four story is not typically taught in public schools, especially in Florida.  And a group of Social Studies teachers in Marion County worked directly with the author of this latest investigative piece to see how this could be taught.  The experience was even more enlightening afterwards, knowing the history and driving through the same settings years later – not to mention interacting with the surviving relatives of those involved.  History never felt so raw.

Aside from the textbook offerings of Martin Luther King Jr. speeches and letters, the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, and bloated presentations on the Harlem Renaissance (usually a few Langston Hughes poems), many public schools offer little African American studies.  Alex Haley’s “Roots” series of the late 1970s became a clear reference point and a useful teaching tool for a generation of TV teachers.  Educators are ill-equipped, overwhelmed, or fearful of stoking community backlash when addressing race issues outside of Black History Month.

All of this brings us back to the present.  Recently, the film Birth of a Nation has attracted attention in the form of a slave rebellion story as well as a documentary entitled Birth of a Movement.  William Monroe Trotter enters the scene as another ignored historical figure.  Ta-Nehisi Coates, the celebrated journalist and author charged with rebooting the Black Panther comic series, did an amazing job of capturing the Obama era as it happened – and continues to happen.  Whereas U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attended a commencement event at Bethune-Cookman University and was booed off the stage.

To the Class of 2017

Class of 2017
Carpe Diem
Seize the day
I prefer to tell my students
Please Enjoy This Setting
Whatever the situation or scenario
Just enjoy this moment, for what it is
When it’s hard to imagine something pleasant
Remember your favorite PETS
Those friends you loved and loved you back unconditionally

This is a special event
10 years of ceremonies like this, in this auditorium
A chapter comes to a close, with new hopes for the next
I started my teaching career at MTI, back in 2005
Teaching English Language Arts and Social Sciences
The best writing advice I received from a mentor author
was deliver your story as if you are in an overcrowded bar.
For many years I took this to mean
Be Loud & Simple
I now realize he meant for me to Get to the Point
Be Sincere & Interesting

This school has accomplished great things
Many individuals are worth more credit.
One stands out among the pack
His name is on the street signs outside
Specialist Markie Tyrell Sims
On this boulevard of dreams
He was my student
He only lived for 20 years
He was KI@ in Afghanistan

One last set of directions
Thank your family for all the love filled in you
Make every moment count
Make a difference

First, Free WiFi

I started saving documents and forgetting the filenames.  Keywords did not retrieve any results that interested me at the time.  Searching for something was futile in the sense that I forgot what I was originally searching for and it didn’t matter, when there was an endless stream of new information readily available to occupy my time.

He told me to write it like a newspaper article, front page, above the fold, bold headline.  You know, something like on the reading level of a fifth grader, for mass release.  I had not the heart to tell him that the newspapers died a while back and that secretly I still read the newspapers, but they were not same newspapers he was thinking of; he was thinking of the New York Post and I was reading the New York Times.

He continued to dictate to me the extent of a story as I pretended to record it, and if I did, I had misplaced the recording until recently.  After browsing through some files, I recovered a conversation hastily sketched between him, myself, and an audience via speakerphone.  In a few brief moments he revealed how he acquired a vast fortune investing in an historic enterprise.

FiWiFR, pronounced like stiffer, to FWFR means to solve a problem through the market.  I guess it was a reboot of eBay mixed with the convenience of a smartphone app.  The turnaround was quicker, so the behavior reinforcements tightened.  Posting was effortless, and what started as a way to auction off dinner reservations, turned into the de facto way to reserve venues and highly prized ad space and it all melted together after a while.  People FWFRed tasks and other social obligations as part of the gig economy, making it an integral part of the macroeconomy.

Luckily, he harvested the company’s stock and profited from the venture capitalists ready to accelerate FWFR’s brand.  What could not be auctioned off?  The criminal elements of extortion and entrapment intertwined until social regulations strangled the overflowing convenience.  The platform fell out of favor and receded into the technocratic background as another tool for social engagement.

My uncle Frank’s union championed the idea that citizens should be able to auction off their own Internet history data to the highest bidders, and this appealed to the narcissism industry as individuals could actively promote their identity and market it better, thus increasing the capitalization of the data.  You have to know who you are marketing to and what you are selling.  The bottom line is: first won, first reserved.

Three Wishes

1)  F-Zero / Wizorb cross over video game
F-Zorb would be a racing game like F-Zero with a built in puzzle-battle mode.  When vehicles approach they can toggle a lock-on function that activates a dual screen top-down effect.  The vehicles are automatically rendered as retro 2-D block collections that then battle in Wizorb fashion.  Picture a block breaker, pong style back and forth between opponents, while battle racing to the finish.

2)  Narcos Netflix series, seasons 4-6, to focus on the rise of El Chapo
Finish the Colombian Cali Cartel storyline in season 3 and start the transition to Mexican Narcos, using Roberto Bolaño’s source material.

3)  A New Judge Dredd movie on “The Robot Wars
Call-Me-Kenneth is the perfect villain for a proper Judge Dredd reboot.  This time around the tone needs to be more like a Robert Rodriguez “grindhouse” film with emphasis on cyborgs and the rise of the Neon Knights.


Find a new tweet each day in the month of April @BeardofSteel on Twitter.  30 quotes from the first chapter of 1984 rationed for victory and assembled by the hashtag 301984.  30 years after 1984, in the year 2014, I also pieced together a literary analysis of 1Q84, V for Vendetta and 1984, that explores their lasting appeal.  #301984 attempts to clarify all of the sudden resurgence in popularity of a novel published 70 years ago.  Enjoy!

A Climactic Ending

Through the month of March, I managed to write 3 short essays on the major changes in Motion Pictures during the last decade of the twentieth century; it takes less than 10 minutes to read.  First, the over saturation of satire set the stage for post-truth realities in the 21st century.  Second, Web 2.0 brought life to a Truman Show way of life for all, the blueprint for our contemporary echo chambers and the death knell to the theater experience — as it stands now the majority of moviegoers in 2017 are over age 50.  Third, the extension of viewing times exceeded the matinee marathon and binge-watching bloated audience appetite for all-you-can-eat storytelling.  Read all about it on Medium:

You Should (Re)Watch 1990’s Bonfire of the Vanities

YouTube Killed the Movie Star: From Laces Out to Get Out

The Fat Lady Sings: this Completes the Trilogy, Not the Saga