All posts by negrocomics

Eugenio Negro is a satirist from San Jose, California. He has been a regular contributor to The Nose Milk, and likes to do literary buddy projects with other writers. --Make friends with him on Google+ and Tumblr. --Need something quality to read? Pick up one of Negro's books at Exitos Gnosis.

Son of Amity by Peter Nathaniel Malae

DEAR MALAE: I swear I offered this to a bunch of publications in the straight community but no one wanted it, at least not from me, so here it is on an insignificant blog. I tried! Feel free to use. –N

Peter Nathaniel Malae’s new book Son of Amity begins with themes familiar to his readers: violence, incarceration, cultures tangled and erased by poverty, hatred for the consumer and the less-dedicated, and perhaps the Californian writer’s greatest contribution to twenty-first century literature: an identifiable search for the use of masculinity in our time.

As before, the economy of description is refreshingly socio-economic. Malae’s mission to portray common people brings us undernourished, overfed, jelly-spined poor whites, but also dignified and convincing portraits of men forgotten in prison and in Bush’s Middle-East conflict, and women rejected, imprisoned, by the ignorance in their environments.

But this is no rerun of What We Are: like Jimmy Baca before him, the author’s own evolution since he disappeared into the “Pacific Northwest” makes the reader an attractive offer to evolve according to his characters’ examples. There are three males in this dialect-rendered story. Which is the titular Son of Amity?

Here Malae repurposes his previous characterizations to disarming effect. For a start the writer’s voice, mercifully, is separating from the narrator’s. Malae always demonstrates an ear for specific slang, something that really impresses academics, but in Son of Amity, especially the memories of prison, we finally get to observe what this slang, in its various pressure and quantity, really means between characters.

Central to the three adults’ seemingly-doomed cohabitation is a highly-realistic evolution of characters’ wills and desires, something unfit in What We Are’s immediacy. Starting with revenge for a rape, the characters’ common ground shifts under them as the victim of the violence takes the will to both choose forgiveness and transform the violence into a child: Malietoa to his Samoan uncle, Tophat to his veteran father, the latter crippled by the former.

The use for masculinity is found in a shared faith in family centered around the child Benji, and not in an act or a gesture. The outcast’s longing for a family to serve –and worth serving –in previous work has arrived. As What We Are’s exasperation before an expanded mind rouses similar feelings to Immigrants in Our Own Land, so this meditation on refocused life approaches the glorious beauty of Black Mesa Poems.

Throughout the book, Malae turns his previous work’s conceits against themselves using time and natural renewal: here we hopelessly serve our past even as the future offers us a ride without reservations, in this case the innocent child at the lead. The book’s greatest charm lies in watching the three adults reluctantly choose the boy’s inspiration over their baggage. Who, then, is the Son of Amity? I would argue that it’s the boy, and I propose that the narcissistic masses of this country read this book and follow their own Malietoa, their own Tophat.

Malae never neglects the portraiture of people trying to both live up to the past and make some way of living in the present. Perhaps the clearest symbols of this are Pika’s Samoan umu Thanksgiving turkey at the book’s finale and Michael’s worship of the Vietnam vets. But the conceit and the dignity lies in Sissy’s internal monologue throughout, in which the urban, feminist, progressive reader must coexist with the fact that Sissy’s post-rape decisions come from a need to move forward without any plan.

Highly recommended for those needing an immediate dose of reality.

9780870719455.jpg

 

Advertisements

10-Year-old Mezcal for $28

I used to get Camichín from my man for years, and then he ran out about 2 years ago. Only now my man mentions that he has this Monte Albán –con gusano –that came with the liquor store when he bought it NINE years ago, and he never changed the price. God damned if it’s not good. Tastes clean, with wood and smoke, COMO DIOS MANDA, PENDEJOS! We’ll see if it lasts through tomorrow.

gusano

New Peter Malae Book, Link about Technique

Malae has a new book! Just ordered it from Better World Books cause I’m a liberal do-gooder nonprofit chump. In a bouncy singsong I repeat to myself: “Can’t wait to fucking read it…”

For you simpering simpletons don’t know Malae, I recommend starting with What We Are and then joining us on the ride for Son of Amity, which just came out this month. Be the first on your block to read it!

What We Are, besides being the Sanjoseest-ass book ever written, is a tight piece of prose from the point of view of a man who grasps his own masculinity and desperately wants to put it to use in service of his family and community, but can’t, and so jacks it off with dumb violence and relationship-ruining. Along the way the author makes some hilarious satires of Silicon Valley, of which we can never do enough.

To the end of reading, appreciating and contextualizing Malae, I’ll just leave this essay here from when What We Are came out, in which Fiction Advocate weighs the whys and wherefores of how Malae and Junot Díaz use so-called ‘high and low’ language juxtaposition (hello —deja el show. Have you read Dos Passos, pendejos?) but the latter gets a Pulitzer for it in Óscar Wao. As a huge fan of Óscar Wao myself, particularly Achy Obejas’ fucking killer Spanish translation, and as someone who also put down the last page of What We Are and wondered how the hell this didn’t get any awards, I’m only too interested in continuing the argument begun in the article. Not to encourage it, but the comment string is pretty salacious too. Read, read and argue away!

Highland Way, Nisene Marks, 7.2018

Somewhere around 30 July I found myself in a car with a sleeping kid on 17, so I figured it’d be a good day to drive out to one of my favorite views in the world, southwest from Highland Way, which is in fact not what the Los Gatos crowd calls Summit Road, but indeed the road below it. At sunset the view to the south (left in the photo) feels like the end of the world. Not even the Hearst-Argyle tower is visible; just a curtain of pointy trees and the coastal fog.

IMG_0305

This photo was taken from the well-known lookout point about a half mile southeast of “Mar Vista,” only about 14 miles from the bottom of Buzzard Lagoon, as the sign indicates. Recently it has been polluted by what appears to be a truckbed full of household refuse.

IMG_0309.jpg

I wish I knew what that ridge to the south is called. I can only say that this deep valley heading toward the void Pacific (center of photo) is where the Hinckley and East Branch Soquel creeks slice down deep over the shoulder of Nisene Marks and help create the moat around the fortress of the Soquel Demonstration Forest. I went to a crazy crazy party up that damn muddy Hinckley/Amaya territory in 2007, let me tell you. But you wouldn’t believe it.

IMG_0302.jpg

As you can see, nature is leading a successful roadfighting campaign, probably from winter 2017. I’ve tried this on my bike when I was a wee little boy, from the Mount Madonna Road side, which is a fucking puker. Not knowing at the time that said road becomes Loma Prieta Way and not indeed Highland, I made it only as far as Croy Ridge Road before I turned back (still don’t bring food or water on rides), and now I see why. This was before Google Maps or practical internet in my house.

IMG_0308.jpgNow that I’ve seen it and counted the miles from the Los Gatos side, I’m excited to try the escapade again by bike, this winter, using my old pal the Los Gatos Creek Trail route. Living in San José has its perks!

Marchers Demand Justice For Nia Wilson, 26.7.18

On 14th and Alice in downtown Oakland about 11am this morning we ran into a group gathered across from the Malonga Casquelourd Center preparing to march to the KTVU Fox Channel 2 television studios. Presenters were reading the story of how KTVU intentionally selected a photo for broadcast portraying murdered 18-year-old Nia Wilson with the typical corporate television wash of poverty and violence, a tactic well-known to anyone who’s watched commercial television from Fox to CNBC. They called the decision “dehumanizing.” Other people online have published videos interpreting the meaning of the photo as well as gestures of sympathy.

IMG_0295.jpg

The group was to march to KTVU and demand that KTVU publish an admission of guilt and that the producers in charge of the decision be held accountable. Artists present to help build the vibe included Khafre James of Hip Hop for Change and the group Samba Funk (hope the link is correct). Cops closed off two or so intersections to allow the marchers to fill the streets on the path.

In fact, East Bay Express’ Josh Slowiczek beat me to publishing this story by an hour, so you can read his more in-depth piece here. We can corroborate Slowiczek’s number of about fifty people in the march at any given time. Those interested in contributing should find the Facebook and Instagram hashtag #Justicefornia.

IMG_0296

In order to understand, the reader must let go of the racist and classist conditioning that controls perception of people we see in media: the person of color is an aggressor, the white person the victim. Nia Wilson was 18. That makes her a fresh highschool graduate. She could’ve been any teacher’s student, any parent’s child.
Her skin color and socioeconomic inheritance put her in the lowest class in the US, a measly 12% of population for whom the country can’t find a shred of empathy. She was murdered at the MacArthur BART last weekend almost certainly by cracker John Lee Cowell, who was also charged with attempted murder of her elder sister Lahtifa (sources have also Letifah, Latifah; correct spelling unconfirmed –there you have it with the white media) on Wednesday according to SF Gate.

How Liberals Reason #2

Hate to repeat myself, but, this is the world I live in.

NegroLiberalReasonPlasticRoads

One thing liberals and conservatives agree upon, it’s the need to drive the rest of the planet’s lifeforms to extinction in order to please humankind’s every appetite and whim. They don’t seem to ever find this common ground, though, when you get them in a room together…

Laswell/Zorn, Konx Om Pax, Chapel SF 13.7.18

I saw fuckin Bill Laswell, the man, last night in SF with his frequent collaborator John Zorn doing a thing they call Konx Om Pax. I went with my old pal Diahrrio of A Fashionable Disease, the best band in Santa Cruz in the oughts, and his girlfriend Danielle, who together do various noise projects. One of my other old friends showed up at the Chapel by surprise and a fine time was had by all. Below is the lame cellphone proof photo of the Chapel, one of SF’s great newish venues in the face of so many old ones dying.
IMG_0283

Laswell’s doing his Material bass thing with all the effects and Zorn’s farting into his thigh with those red army camo pants. Tell me he wears those around Manhattan.

The coolest part was after the end when the two retreated upstairs after an hour, having said not a fucking word to the audience. Me and this other cat waited at the bottom of the stairs and finally our main man, Security Fred, offers to take our records up with him and get them signed. Thanks Fred! Laswell signed my old Celluloid Records Time Zone single!! Fucking stoked. Thanks Bill!!! It was a once-in-a-lifetime show, and even benefited something about pretending to care about abuse and destruction of migrant laborers over the last 50 years.
IMG_0284

For the uninitiated, it’s hard to put the scope of Laswell’s contribution to punk rock and alternative (in the true broad sense, not like the 1994 BMG catalogue) music over the last 40 years into a quick statement. Before and even with the internet, Laswell is the only reason we know about Fela Kuti in the US. He seems to have been playing a game of making the most connections throughout his life. His bands Material, Last Exit, and Praxis, just to name a few, touch punk, hiphop, new age, ambient, jazz, Coltrane’s biggest fans Pharaoh Sanders and Sonny Sharrock, Bernie Worrell, and the Primus guys. He’s all about collaboration and mutual aid amongst artists. If you play the six-degrees game in contemporary music, you will find Bill every time. That woozy light-funk bass he’s known for might sound goofy in today’s context, but remember that he did it first and never stopped. It’s further notable that both Bill and Zorn have worked tirelessly to unite musicians on both coasts.

Not until I saw the ad for the show did I really feel how much his stuff has informed my life. What a treat to see him play. You can look up the similarly-cosmopolitan Zorn, I’m not really an expert except to say that his record project Tzadik was the inventor of the $35 fucking CD in the 90s, so we never dared hear Naked City even though we knew it’d be the most badass hardcore skronk that we needed to hear. Diahrrio’s band A Fashionable Disease was just a little influenced by Naked City, as it happens.

It was an old-guy set, which I loved, done by 10, and we were in bed by midnight.