Sunday, July 10, 2016

Self-Evident Truths

I am an introspective person, as the title of this blog suggests, but there are times when my "historical context" blares so loudly I have no choice but to bring it to the forefront and do my best to discuss it, to "add my voice," as it were.  Sitting in silence doesn't cut it at times like these.

I've been preoccupied by all of the high-profile violence occurring in our country... I was about to add  the words "as of late," but this is a country -- like many others -- built on violence, forged by inequality, and although we have some lovely language in our foundational scripts and scrolls about self-evident truths, and everyone being equal, someone has always had to be less free in order for the white male power base of the U.S.A. to exist, the way it was designed to exist.

Recently, a couple of changes have occurred in our long-standing modus operandi that have shaken things up and made other truths self-evident -- the ones that had remained mostly hidden up till now.  One is that the electorate in this country selected a black president.  Whatever the motives for voting for Barack Obama (the simple fact that he was different, "CHANGE" being the operative word in his 2008 run, or that he represented a thinking, thoughtful America, or that he was "liberal," or even more to the point, just because he was black), his election terrified a lot of people.  It didn't matter to them how liberal he really was, and in fact he turned out to be a lot more conservative than some of us had hoped.  The election of our first black present, a momentous occasion to be sure, also mobilized a quiet minority of scared racists who are fueled by the rhetoric of reactionaries like Donald Trump and the so-called "birthers."

The other major change is in our personal technology.  Thanks to the advent of smart phones and nearly universal access to the Internet, horrifying incidents of police brutality that we'd never have known about now appear on YouTube and our Facebook feeds daily.  And the overwhelming majority of these incidents involve black men.  True, there have been others who have been victims of police brutality, but most appear to be black males.  There are those who may one day read this and take issue with the two words emphasized in the previous sentence.  Because, as others have already stated, they cannot hold BOTH truths at once, but feel a need to take one side or the other.  Those who side "with the police" will begin almost immediately to question the now dead man:  What was he doing? Where was he going? What was he wearing? What kind of person was he?

This is where the inequality -- the blatant Lack of Rights -- becomes most self-evident:  If you are a black man interacting with the police force, you don't have any rights.  You don't have a right to free speech, or to walk in a "nice" neighborhood at night, and you don't have a right to wear a hoody, or any other clothing you decide to wear.  You are not presumed innocent as a black man.  You are presumed a threat.  This is how it has always been, since the earliest days of our country, when white hegemony kept black people as property to be bought and sold.

None of this is meant to excuse the horrific shooting that happened in Dallas last week.  The answer to police brutality is NOT to brutalize our police.  Instead, we all need to look at these truths as self-evident and to ask ourselves what we're willing to do as a people in the face of them.  If we don't, our biggest danger may not be foreign terrorists but ourselves.  If we don't confront these realities, these truths soon, the FBI will be spending a lot of time with its head on a swivel, responding to the sounds of our well-armed citizenry "locking and loading" in fear-inspired militias all over this country.  Then the only thing ISIS will need to do is sit back and watch us implode on CNN and Al Jazeera.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Diego and His Dogs

A boy, his technology and his dogs
The older of our two boys has an interesting and strong connection with our dogs.  There's a photo I took of Diego recently in which he's seated on the floor in our living room, (or "sala," as we call it here in Casa Reyes-Fuchs) his headphones on, facing the two dogs who are drowsing in the two chairs before him.  Diego is paying attention to them, but not.  He is both attentive and dismissive all at once, and that seems to be just fine as far as Ginger and Ally are concerned.

Of course, the two dogs worship and fawn over me, as they've imprinted on me the role of B.A.D. (Big Alpha Dog), but their love of Diego is far more genuine.  Yes, they love Jackson and Jeanette too, but Jackson's is a "fly-by" kind of love, as he is in a near constant state of motion, so that the dogs wag their tails when he comes by, as if to say, "Okay, we're not going to get too used to this."  With Mom, it's a treat they adore, similar to Diego, but less like a sibling.  They seem to know she's of the B.A.D. class, as well.  

It's with Diego, the teenager, the one who I see breaking out of his shell in how he tries to interact more confidently with adults, like the waitress at our local Mexican restaurant who greets him by his name, that our dogs have the true connection.  Maybe he's a Cesar Millan-style dog whisperer in the making, I don't know.  Or maybe he's just found someone who will love him in the unconditional, non-judgmental way in which he needs to be loved.  

And maybe the dogs have found the same thing.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nighthawks: Sure It's Crap, but it's MY Crap

A young (uncredited) Rutger Hauer and a bearded Sly on the poster.  What more could you want?

When I was 17 years old, my girlfriend and I went to the movies and saw an unheralded cop drama called "Nighthawks."  Like all boys of my generation, Sly Stallone, as much as I would goof on him, was an undeniable hero, due to the enormous impact of "Rocky" in 1976 and "Rocky II" a couple of years later.  We allowed Sly his flops ("F.I.S.T." and "Paradise Alley") after the first Rocky, and this was bound to be his post "Rocky II" schlock.  

But I'll be damned if Maria and I didn't absolutely love this movie.  What wasn't to love, after all?  You had young, sexy Rutger Hauer playing international terrorist and man-about-town Heymar "Wulfgar" Reinhardt, and young, sexy Persis Khambatta as his evil minion, Shaka Holland.  You had a bearded Stallone as misunderstood Vietnam vet with "57 registered kills"-turned-misunderstood New York undercover cop specializing in "decoy" detail, Deke DaSilva.  You had the Bionic Fucking Woman, Lindsay Wagner, for God's sake!  And, oh yeah, Billy.  Dee.  Williams.

We ate it up.  We wrote each other love notes in high school and signed them "Love, Wulfgar," and "Love, Shaka."  This was our flick.

Normally, my 5 a.m. routine is to wake up, let the dogs out, put some coffee on the stove and turn on the local news, toggling back and forth to Sportscenter.  As it would happen, I woke up this morning and turned on the set, and there, of all things, was "Nighthawks." The wife and kids were sleeping in late, and getting them up wasn't a priority.  So, I watched.  

Rutger Hauer is still riveting.  I realize, now, that he is really what gives "Nighthawks" the energy it has.  The scenes without Hauer feel like an airless room.  The script is "flawed," to put it kindly.  The great international terrorist makes mistake after mistake, and is far too easily located by Deke.  And the image of Stallone taking off the Lindsay Wagner wig at the end, is just too fucking funny.  

Now.  

Back then it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.  

I'm not calling for a sequel, or wanting to start a fan club.  The world has changed since 1981.  Terrorism is not something to be romanticized as it sort of was back then.  Images of buildings exploding on Wall Street and Picadilly bring very real reminders of loss and pain.  At the end of the day, as they say, "Nighthawks" is, quite simply, a good old-fashioned "B Movie."  But it was a lot of fun watching it this morning, thinking back on a youth that was better than I deserved, and giggling ever so slightly at the guilty pleasure of a crappy movie I once loved.