I've always thought of myself as a writer, among other things. I have a journalism background -- I've worked as a newspaper reporter and copy editor. I know my way around a keyboard.
Increasingly, I find myself without words, at least ones that I can print here. There is something to be said -- something important. I wish I knew what the hell it was.
The enormity of evil has murdered my words. Killed them dead, just like the Baton Rouge, La., police killed Alton Sterling.
Sterling was the CD Man at the corner of North Foster and Fairfields, in north Baton Rouge, otherwise known as the 'hood. Truth be told, lots of my hometown is the 'hood. This part of town, like so many others in north BR, used to be working class and white back when I was a kid.
Anyway, the CD Man peddled compact discs, bootleg and otherwise, outside the Triple S Food Mart. That's how he scraped together what some people might call a living, or as much of a living as you can when you have a long rap sheet and can't get a job.
Long rap sheets happen in the 'hood, the 'hood in my hometown and yours, too. You grow up poor, you grow up lacking a father . . . or a mother . . . or both, and then shit starts to happen. Then shit snowballs. Then you get out of jail and peddle CDs. And then you carry a pistol because you got mugged or a buddy got mugged or you're just scared of the 'hood that is your home.
Then you cross paths with the Baton Rouge cops. Again.
And now you're dead, a big-ass hole blown in your chest, point-blank from a cop's service weapon. Don't ask me why. I don't know. I got theories, probably wrong ones. I got no words -- no sufficient ones, at least.
I just know that there Baton Rouge is, sitting atop a tinderbox with people -- many of them white, self-righteous and racist as a son of a bitch -- tossing lit matches from atop platforms provided them by local media. Add some outraged African-American counterparts in incivility, and you have a combox race war. All you need are guns.
There are a few of those floating around Louisiana. And America.
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Wouldn't do any good. The last grown-ups in the media were laid off sometime around 2010.
Heat draws eyeballs. Light gets you squat.
If you're looking for a ray of sunshine amid the darkness, if you're looking for some earthly hope in this space, I apologize for wasting your time. I got nothing.
I got no great hope for my hometown or my home state. I got no great hope that racism won't get anything but worse in this Age of Trump. I got no words -- no useful ones. I got squat.
All I have is that familiar sick feeling in my middle-aged gut. All I have is sorrow. All I have is contempt for my hometown and the hateful stupidity it seems to nurture like a Petri dish does bacteria.
I wish I could say, like the Steve Taylor song, "Since I Gave Up Hope (I Feel A Lot Better)." But I don't. I'm just the same -- tired, pissed and sick to my stomach, just without any real hope this side of the Second Coming.
It's always 1959 somewhere. Somewhere, thy name is Baton Rouge.