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‘Taking Hyphenated Names’
Five Guns West Offers More Infamy: 11/9/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
Web comment from 5 guns west. 10.08
“The writing has always been ... at least good ... often great but now, you are hitting your stride, your groove. Your Steinbeck years. You could write about taking a crap and its genius! Go forth and irritate. Kick ass and take hyphenated names. There was a time when you really helped us get out there ... now I have over 30,000 visitors a month and I'm leaning on your stuff and introducing you to a lot of dorks and a lot of influential people. Is that okay?”
Ruben, I remain flattered that writers make up a significant portion of my readership, about 10%. Also, as a musical wasteland who does not even listen to any music other than the ringing in my head—which has no base and but a single tone—I am honored and amazed that some musicians: Yourself, Barry Bliss, Stephan Michael Sechi, Yeti Waters and Doctor Dread seem to find something worthy in my writing.
This entire publishing thing has been an experiment to see if I can learn how to express ideas and reality and strange notions in writing, by doing it in public, typos and all, where you can all see me slip and fall.
I seem to have 4,000 monthly readers, which is a great honor. I once had nearly 30,000. But that was not my doing, but an attempt by various fringe political dissidents to use me for their own purposes, both for good and ill. My guess is that most of your readers, being humans, will not find the ramblings of an extraterrestrial anthropologist compelling.
I appreciate and accept your generous offer to promote my work and promise to try and become a better writer in the final leg of this gimpy race against grumpy old Time.
Oh, as you are a musician, I thought you might enjoy this old Ghetto Grocer story from 1991.
Tony, a platform member of BASH Baltimore Area Skin Heads, who would try and have me killed six months later [as related in The Logic of Steel] was a heavy metal and punk listener. The night captain, Jomo, was the leader of a West Indian Steel Band, who I used to have kung fu fights with in the stockroom—him winning all but one, me not having much kung fu. Mike was a crack dealer from NYC who saw Mike Tyson punch out Mitch Green at 4 in the morning in front of a clothing store while he was slinging crack.
Night crews have a music problem.
The black guys wanted hip hop.
The white guys wanted metal.
Jomo said, “You savages argue it out, I have my walkman.”
Jomo detailed me to change the music as part of the rolling lottery, each man getting an hour of his taste, with all agreeing that country music would be grounds for serious violence!
Tony, the racist white skin head, and Mike, the black crack dealer, were debating the merits of their music and pulled me in to their discussion and asked me what kind of music I listened to.
I have summarized this event but never wrote about it in detail.
I said, “I don’t.”
“You don’t listen to music?” indicted Tony. You have to be kidding me? I knew you were an asshole, but even this savage African half-breed whose ancestors were lucky the Jews didn’t sell them into Jomo’s, fucking jungle island, even this fucking negro listens to music!”
I shrugged my shoulders and Mike and Tony looked at each other:
Mike: “Racism I understand. But no music—dat shit is fucked up.”
Tony: “My brother, my brother, Mike, we might disagree on many things, we might even hate each other, might even burn each other alive on special occasions, but we are at least human. Humans have culture, and music, the possession of music, is a necessary component of human culture—look at this fucking barbarian!”
Mike: “I feel ya my brutha—shie, dis, dis Jimjam muvafuca, dis slave not even evolved halfway ta Ő¸igger status!”
They then hugged, hip hop and heavy metal, black braids and blonde curls, ebony and ivory, having made common cause over a mutual enemy—culture free me.
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Ruben     May 15, 2023


Thanks so much James. It's good to hear from you.

Truth be told, I rarely listen to music and when I do it's a classical music show on Saturday morning that plays classical music written for films.

I also have a ringing in my ears full time as you can well imagine.

As I have "Logic of Steel" I'm somewhat familiar with this story but am loving the additional details. Thanks so much!

I was a supervisor for the Youthbuild program in Venice California about a decade ago. It was a program for what I called 'at promise' youth. I taught construction and life skills.

A drug rehab program called 'Promises' in Malibu partnered up with us to get their high profile out in the community and do good works. Lindsay Lohan was one and she was cool as F.

Mike Tyson was another one. He was also very cool, had been working on anger management. He'd been interviewed in Rolling Stone about his sex addiction and how he'd quit objectifying women. It didn't stop him from trying to feel up my female students, aged 16-24, in the van or in the classroom.

I worked mostly in Watts, Compton, South Central, all those neighborhoods we hear are so horrible but were great to me. Venice too. I wish you could have seen folks faces when they saw Mike on our jobsites, or Lindsay for that matter. She was a laugh riot.

I'm honored by this post. Thanks so much.

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