Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

between the world and meBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (9780812993547) : Spiegel & Grau (2015)

In this era of “Black Lives Matter” and concerns of increased police violence, it has become increasingly difficult to contextualize the American Dream with the reality of American Reality. The two cannot seem to be reconciled for people of color, whose reality is filled with injustices both large and small. In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains this state of affairs to his son in the context of the protection of the Black body and how it is been traded as the currency of so-called “progress” over the centuries of American history and continues to be at risk today.

Throughout this treatise, Coates speaks of the protection of that body from the Dreamers, those who follow the false idea of the American Dream, from those who would protect the false idea of “race”, of whiteness and blackness, and those who would break that body to protect that dream. He speaks of the death of Prince Jones, a former classmate that galvanized his anger at the struggle. He has anger at the threat to his body, but not hatred. Righteous anger. And that’s an important difference. This is what he wants to impart to his son–an eyes-wide-open attitude to race and to the struggle. Not hatred, but a realistic look at what is really going on and an attitude that will allow him to protect his precious body.

This is a profound book that needs to be read slowly and deeply to get its nuance. Its language is lyrical and resonant. Its message is deep and timely and transcendent. According to Toni Morrison, “This is required reading.” I heartily agree.

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Geek FM: Sunshine on Leith

When I got married, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my and my wife’s CD collections complemented each other nicely. There was very little overlap, but she dug most of what I contributed and vice versa. As a result, I got introduced to a lot of good music. One of the albums that I still thank my wife to this day for introducing me to is The Proclaimer’s Sunshine on Leith.

Sure, it’s got the catchy hits “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” and “I’m On My Way”. But it has so much more. The haunting melody of the title track. The melancholy harmonies “Teardrops”. The bluesy refrain of “My Old Friend the Blues”. The wide-eyed optimism of “Sean”. The sheer joy of love in “Then I Met You.” I can sit and listen to this album over and over.



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Geek FM: A Day at the Races

I’m a major Queen fan. Absolutely love the sound of the band and their evolution into one of the greatest pop/rock acts of all time. A Day at the Races is their follow-up to the phenomenal A Night at the Opera (which gave us “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and it is my favorite Queen album.

The album opens with a big intro, almost a mini-overture of songs to come, blending themes from “White Man” and “Teo Torriatte” before getting down and dirty to the first track, “Tie Your Mother Down.” This is a blues/rock piece that has Freddie Mercury growling about the object of his desire’s family getting in the way of his fun. Next we have the textured harmonics “You Take My Breath Away.” This leads into the plaintive love song by Brian May, “Long Away” (one of my favorite tracks). We go to the dancehall with “The Millionaire Waltz”–somewhat reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but still very much it’s own thing. Then we go into John Deacon’s “You and I”, an upbeat love song and another favorite. Then we get to the meat of the album–the gospel-infused “Somebody to Love”. This one was a staple of the their live shows and the big hit from the album. Now we have the hard and heavy “White Man,” deploring the plight of the Native Americans. We return to the dancehall with “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy.” Roger Taylor’s “Drowse” is another heavy piece, in 12/8 time. The finale of the album, “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together), is probably my favorite track on the album–I even quoted from it for my wedding invitations back in the day.

Overall, A Day at the Races is a great album with lots to offer any ear. I think it is one of the most eclectic and creative albums Queen ever put out.



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Be Free, My Children, Be Free

I know that you’ve been dying to know the current state of my fiction submissions, so here goes. I have two stories that I’m still shopping around to various markets. The rejection pile grows ever higher, but I’m still hopeful that my little brain children will find a home.

I try to keep a philosophical frame of mind in the face of all the rejections. Some days are better than others, but I keep trying.

I need to work on more submissions to send out, but I’ve hit a bit of “inspiration slump”. Oh well, it’ll come back. I’m sure of it.

So, that’s the latest. I’ll keep you posted if there are any changes. In the meantime, if you’d like to sample my published fiction, look for the March 2015 issue of Stupefying Stories and the Spring 2014 issue of On Spec.

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Geek FM: Glenn Frey (RIP)

Man, this has been a helluva month for music legends. Glenn Frey was one of the founding members of one of the greatest bands of the 1970s (The Eagles, for you youngsters out there). He also had some success as a solo artist as well. So this week’s Geek FM is dedicated to Mr. Frey. If there’s a rock and roll heaven, well you know they have a hell of a band.



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