“This dynamic - the hallmark of a healthy and free society - has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”
Sorry it’s taken me so long to write you back. It’s been like what…over 10 years now. I thought of you recently because I was watching this doc “The House I Live In.” It’s about the war on drugs and how harmful it’s been, how it’s destroyed lives, ruined families, and hasn’t brought drug use down. They showed how it affects everyone involved. So yeah, I thought about you and wondered how you were doing.
You probably remember the last letter you wrote me. You asked me to buy your kids birthday gifts. Remote control cars. You filled out an order form from Radio Shack and begged that I do this one thing for you. You’d asked me to do other things before like send you books, magazines, and find you female pen pals. I never got around to asking for pen pals but I sent you a ton of things to read and you devoured all of them. I remember you really enjoyed “Holler If You Hear Me.” And oh yeah you liked some calendar I sent too.
“I need a favor from you homie! I hate to have to ask but I have to at least know that I tryed Im really fucked up right now. I want my kids to know that I really love them so much. I want them to get a nice present from me. :( I really need you on this bro! Please man.”
Man, I was really annoyed that you’d asked me to do that. I thought, this dude, out of nowhere writes me a letter to my job from prison because he saw a pic of me in Vibe. I hadn’t heard or seen you since high school. And I took time out of my busy life…writing you letters and sending you packages and now you wanted my money? I was mad at you, Troy. Like, how ungrateful. I tossed that order form out.
That was then though. I regret not getting those gifts. I regret not ever writing you back. I look back and I was so selfish then. I really thought it was all about me all of the time. I didn’t really take the time to understand anything. Even your situation. I just couldn’t understand how our lives could’ve gone so different.
“I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.”
If you don’t think our youth are in trouble , if you don’t think our schools face a crisis, and if you don’t think that all this won’t affect our future, you will change your mind after you watch this. Powerful. It’s a reality that we like to ignore.
Dad’s been mentioning time a lot recently. It’s in his emails. Says it in passing. Feels like he’s running out of time. Uses it as an excuse, well more of an explanation as to why he’s doing something or why he’s not doing something. All because of time. But he’s only 66. Works a full-time job with no desire to retire. Plays tennis a few times a week. He’s not on his deathbed, he’s not sick, he just keeps thinking about time.
Living in New York City, we’re constantly reminded that nobody has time for anything, No one has time for a relationship, to have kids, to look for a new job even though they hate their current one, to date, to cook, to workout, to search for a new apartment, to start that project that they were really excited to talk to you about seven months ago. Sweet Brown is right. We have so many things we want to do and so many things we have to do that the one thing that we share is the lack of time to do it all. Only if we had more time.
But since the beginning, time has not changed. All the greats who achieved world changing feats had the same amount of time in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year that we have now. Yet we complain we don’t have enough of it. So frustrated with our shared feelings of having a lack of time we turn to any combination of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram to express our frustration only to spend time checking to see if people who also feel like there’s not enough time agreed or disagreed via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.
“At 30, I was moving so fast. I never had time to think about all the things I was encountering, all the things I was touching. Now when I go back and find these things, it triggers so many different thoughts: God, I forgot about that. That’s how fast we were moving. Now I can slow it down and hopefully remember what that meant. That’s when I know I’m getting old.”
“Beyoncé’s performance makes us nervous when juxtaposed with the earnest idealism of the inauguration. It is an event that Americans rightfully take pride in: a peaceful transfer of power; a chance to re-affirm the values of openness, freedom of speech, and egalitarianism that define us; a democratic ceremony symbolically attended by all citizens. Beyoncé’s fakery, it seems, implies some larger fakery at the heart of the whole enterprise. But, of course, the ceremony is itself a performance—how else can we explain that it is through the recitation of scripted words in a ritual call-and-response that the President assumes his position of power? We don’t want to be reminded that we’re watching mere mortals who might trip on their way to the podium, stutter through the oaths of office, shiver in the cold, or worse, err in judgment and lead the country on the wrong path. These are the people we are entrusting to enact America’s timeless values? Too bad. Beyoncé reminded us.”
“A million years ago, the cave man, without tools, with small brain, and with nothing but the strength of his body, managed to feed his wife and children, so that through him the race survived. You on the other hand, armed with all the modern means of production, multiplying the productive capacity of the cave man a million times — you are incompetents and muddlers, you are unable to secure to millions even the paltry amount of bread that would sustain their physical life. You have mismanaged the world, and it shall be taken from you.”
I never want to forget the look on my mom’s face when the cashier rang up the sneakers and we realized that they were not on sale. I never want to forget picking up a TV that was thrown out on the street in Williamsburg for my first apartment in NYC, an illegal artist loft with no windows with a shared bathroom for eight residents. The TV got three channels: NBC, Univision, and Telemundo. I never want to forget reduced school lunches. I never want to forget taking all my coins to CoinStar. I never want to forget sharing a piggy bank with a coworker and going to a steak dinner after it filled up, twice. I never want to forget that I got to go to every school trip because my parents made sure that we sold enough chocolate bars or fruit baskets to pay for it. I never want to forget that mom told us to not say the name of the second kid she was babysitting because she didn’t want the first kid she was babysitting to start saying her name because her mom may find out that she was babysitting an additional kid.
I never want to forget how good my mom’s fried bologna sandwiches tasted after school. I never want to forget buying noodle soup for lunch, eating the noodles, saving the soup, and adding rice to the soup for dinner. I never want to forget planning my trips around the city so that I could utilize the free transfer from the train to the bus so that I would only be paying for one ride instead of two. I never want to forget how chubby my face got after college because my diet consisted of pizza slices, bodega sandwiches, instant noodles, and takeout Chinese. I never want to forget how we went to the clearance section then the sales section and never looked at the regularly priced section. I never want to forget working at a sushi restaurant at a food court when I was too young to work. I never want to forget my dad walking away from yard sales after he couldn’t negotiate 50 cents off things he really wanted. I never want to forget working in the dish room freshman year in college for work study. I never want to forget how I lied to my parents about how little my first job paid because I didn’t want them to worry. I never want to forget how rude people were to me when I worked at a laundromat in high school. I never want to forget seeing my parents filing papers at the music school office as a part of my partial scholarship that paid for my saxophone lessons. I never want to forget all the patches my mother sewed to the elbows and knees of clothes that I always ripped during recess. I never want to forget that my parents cried in private.
I never want to forget these things because I need to remind myself that everything will be OK. That things may not always be great. Or even good. At times. But that in the end we find a way. My parents may have never told us but they certainly showed us that opportunities were there for us. They believed that if a kid in subsidized housing worked hard, if you sold enough chocolate bars, you could go to a band trip with kids who had pools and tennis courts in their backyards. And things like that stick with you. You don’t just shake that off and forget things like that. We were free to feel as good about ourselves as everybody else felt about themselves. We were good enough. I need to remember because while to many I don’t have everything but to many more I have more than I need. I need to remember because while the future is unknown the past is set. And I don’t want to change that. I need to remember to appreciate. I need to remember so that I always know what got me here, what made me who I am.
“The modern analog is the ‘chick flick,’ a demeaning name applied mostly to cynical and threadbare rom-coms trotted out with dreary regularity every spring. Movie comedy, once a lively, if tilted, battlefield of the sexes, regressed into an aggressive puerility that was the flip side of macho superhero self-pity. The big joke, repeated endlessly (and sometimes wittily) in Adam Sandler vehicles, school-of-Apatow farces and up-from-mumblecore slackfests is that guys can reject all the traditional trappings of maturity — jobs, manners, hygiene — and that girls will sleep with them anyway. And the girls in these movies are not called on to do much else, except be mommies, nice or mean, symbolic or actual. They can serve as the object of or the audience for the guys’ jokes but rarely the agents of humor in their own right.”