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8/25/13

Portrait of Emmanuel or A Vietnam War Veteran’s Troubles in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
3/8/2001


Emmanuel is my entry into a more down to earth life/experience. Living on campus can be shriveling/debilitating for a writer. After a while you get vomitous with the same faces, same professors, same students, same gossip, same stories about books they’ve read, movies they’ve just watched, and the reviews they agreed with or not. They talk about the representation of the representation of life, while I prefer to write about life.
Emmanuel took me to his tongue-speaking church, to the soup kitchen, to the black district, to his barber and his rapper friends.
At times he does insufferable things. One evening he abducted Alex, my son. I take an art class up to 9 p.m., Tuesday and Thursdays, and I called Alex in the break telling him, “If Emmanuel calls or shows up to take me shopping to Albertson’s, tell him I’d be home by 9:15.”
But when I arrive home as promised and Alex was not at home, neither at John’s, neither at A.J.’s. and they showed up after 30 minutes, saying they went to buy pizza. They didn’t in the end, which is so like Emmanuel, always changing plans, they went to pick up his daughter from her granny and he got yelled at. Well, I didn’t yell at him, I just told him, “That’s enough! I’m Alex’s parent and you had no right to take the child on trips without even leaving a note.” He tried to settle the matter, but I noticed he had a beer bottle in a brown bag, so I said, “Please, that’s enough, get out.”
For a month I didn’t hear from him. I thought he died—he suffers from AIDS, though he said God had cured him, and I was just prejudiced, he said, when I told him that before marrying that Mexican lady from Texas, who is actually not even divorced yet from her homeless junkie, I told him to stop bragging about him getting married when this could kill his future wife. He said he was magically healed and I was prejudiced. “Alright then, did your tests confirm your magically, Godly-sent healing?” He mumbled. “Well, then, if you were magically healed there is no issue, go ahead and marry.” Then he came back later on with another foolery, that he decided to stay a bachelor because it’s a great life to be available for your friends, and his future wife would interfere. He still didn’t take his medicine, God healed him magically. But He didn’t.
Then he called me to tell me he was sorry and he was wrong and he wouldn’t do it again and he misses us—he has but few friends. He says in the black community people run away from him, don’t even want to sit in his car, think the seats might give them AIDS—and he loves us and he was so wrong. So I said, “Won’t you come over and help me out with a homework. I’ll interview you for my Performance Studies class.”
He showed up in ten minutes. He was excited. He shaved his skull and asked me to rub it, because it brings him good luck. I patted him once, and he complained, “Just once?!” “Well, it’s like sandpaper,” I owned up to my reluctance. “I have to put grease,” he said.
So I interviewed him. I changed his name to preserve his privacy.

Ella: I don’t want you to talk as if you’re talking to some board meeting. Just talk the way you usually talk to me.
Emmanuel: Okay, I’m doing it.
So we were, we kept on planning writing something about you, how you came to these cross roads, or how you say, troubles. I think it’s nice to talk about it and then we talk about your life in general if you want. Okay, and then we’ll find a name for you.
Okay, look, my name is Abraham…
[Laughs] No, your name is not Abraham!
Oh, no? Oh, my bad. See now you need to back it up. I’m sorry.
No, that’s alright. What’s your name?
Okay, well, my name, my name, is Abraham.
Pumpersnickel. [Laughs]
My name is Janus Duskorson, darling. And this is, this is my friend. And we, we recorded some stuff that’s, that’s real nice. So we’re just trying to make something that’s real. And right now, I’m going thru this.
I’m trying my mic now, 1, 2, 3….1, 2, 3…
See now I don’t even believe your mic is working.
It does, it does.
I told you don’t even hook that mic up. All I need to do is to sit close to you.
You are right.
All I need to do is sit close to you. Now you need to rewind it to the start.
No, we’ll do it like that. Just a minute, you talk. Slow. Mr. Pumpersnickel. [laughs]
Okay, what?
So, you called. First you called, first you called that you will come, that you would take me to church, to the black church. Is it true or is it not true? Yeah, that we were going to the black church. Then you called me in the morning that you are too tired because somebody tumbled from the bed.
Yes.
Then you called that you will take us to the barbeque. And, that you will call later on and you would pick us up. You didn’t call. Then you disappeared. Then you called,
when did you call you’d come in 10 min? You came in an hour. And then you disappeared.
Okay, but do you want me to be real on this tape?
Yeah.
Okay, first of all I’m not even going to say my name. I’m John Pimpernel. And, look, I’m an alcoholic, drug addict, recovering drug addict. I’ve been to Desert Storm. And I’m going thru a lot right now. But, I work a job. I’m a lieutenant.
When did you become an alcoholic?
I’ve been an alcoholic, but I was just... You got alcoholics driving, driving drunk and go to work but… [Clears throat] Excuse me. I have been out of town, riding in my car, no insurance, no registration, nothing like that. It’s illegal. Because I’m in the army. Got Army license plates on my car and all of that. And I just got a big head, thinking I can do that. You know what I’m saying? I’m gonna have my way across this country. Serving this country, and then I volunteered to go to the law. I came back. But I’m not making excuses right now, but from what you were saying. I’m sorry to… I, I never meant to lie. If I told you something, that was my intentions at that time. But once I go and leave, and have another drink and get into something else, you know, I get caught up. You ever heard, you know the definition of the word, the 2 words, caught up? Something caught up? I’m caught up into my atmosphere, and my neighborhood with drugs and alcohol and all that. And I cherish my friendship and relationship with you. I have other friends like you, I work with people like you that’s educated, professional people. But, I’ve been living so wrongly and running from God, not going to church, lying, you know, well, not stealing but just living. Driving illegally, and all of that. And it, it’s finally gotten caught up with me. I got a DWI.
What’s that?
Driving the car while under the influence. Driving while intoxicated. So I got caught, this is my first offence while driving while intoxicated. In other words, look, I’ve lost my life. I’m very grateful that, for God, now that I’m not dead. I’m still alive. I’d lost control, see I drive a 280-ZX sports car and I’ve lost control of both cars about 6 or 7 times and now that is about the 8
th or 9th, 9th time, it has caught up with me. But I thank God that I didn’t kill nobody. All I did was tear up my car, but, not kill myself, but tear up the car. I says to my friend, get my car out.
You can’t get your car?
I can’t even get my friend right now. I spent 475 dollars before today and I still haven’t gotten my car out. We gotta wait till Friday and spend about 280 more dollars to get the car out. Then I gotta go to court on the first DWI charge, to get my car out. I mean well, just to get my car.
So after you pay the money, they will give you the car back.
No.
No?
Well, I have a temporary license right now for 30 days. And, right now, this happened on the 18
th. The day of the 22nd. Right now I’m in the process of getting my car out of the impound. And that costs money. It goes up every day. I called them Saturday, it was 136. And it goes up every day like 11, 13 dollars every day. So, this car costs 2,000 dollars. It’s an ‘83 280-ZX. My sister have been helping me, she gave me 600 dollars today. And I spent like 450 and gave her 150 back. So, I have to go to work in the morning. And Thursday. Wednesday and Thursday. So Friday we gonna try to get the car out. I’m just trying to get the car out and make sure that I don’t lose my job. I don’t have to go a drug center or nothing like that because I’ve been to church. And I got delivered from drug and alcohol abuse thru getting born again in church. That’s how I met this lady that I’m doing the interview now with, so. The devil, I, I’ve just been making some real bad decisions. And, right now I’m in the process of getting my life back straight, with God, I’m gonna get back into church, and leave all that foolishness and the foul, and, you know, living alone, and just try to do right.
What happened to your phone?
Well, first of all, I was in a long distance relationship on my phone. I was howling it. Okay, and one of my friends had gotten into jail. So he got in jail about 7 months. So he was calling me. See, when they call, it’s gotta be to someone’s house that it’s gonna be charged to. So he was trying to get out. He’d been there about 7, 8 months. Now, the first 3 or 4 months we thought that pro’ly he could get out. I was helping him. See, once he called, I could patch him over on the 3-way to his mom, or lawyer, and people like that. But it got out of hand. I wasn’t able to pay the phone. The phone bill got so high. And I wasn’t even able to make the payments.
How much? 1,000?
No, right now the phone is just 4, 400 dollars.
Why don’t his parents help you to pay?
Well, right now they’re dealing with lawyers and stuff, to try to get him out. As a matter of fact, he go to court tomorrow, on the 23
rd.
What did he do?
[Pause]
Uh, okay, well, he, he, he had some uh, drug charges. But he was on some other charges that were like uh, credit card fraud and stuff like that. You know, like bad checks, bad checks or credit card fraud. [Coughing] Excuse me.
He stole somebody else’s card and he charged on it, or how?
I don’t know, I don’t know how he got it. But if you get a person’s card like right today and go to the bank, you get the money out. Because by tonight or tomorrow morning they’re going, they’re going to cut it off. They’re gonna say, oh, the card’s lost, they’re going to cut it off.
But this, this dude is a good friend. I’m going to introduce him to you, and he just, he just got caught up too. Now this dude was supposed to be in the NBA right now.
What’s that NBA?
National Basketball Association. Because he can play basketball the best, almost one of the best in this state. Like I want to say his name, but...
But Emmanuel, how happened the accident?
Okay, I was just on the interstate. And I was driving fast and I think somebody came behind me. And I was on the interstate in front of the governor’s mansion and I was attempting to get off of the interstate. And the exit had a curve and the curve was real sharp and I was going so fast. One of my wheels caught the grass and once I hit the brake, the car just slid and, and it, and it fishtailed a lil bit. Now, they got a man, he was a sheriff, he wasn’t directly behind me, he was the second, third person behind me, second person. And he saw my car just fishtailed and went to the side and the grass and he stopped. The other car kept going. And that’s when he stopped, and I was drinking a beer at the time, I threw the beer out. And he called the police. We were in front of the governor’s mansion. Governor Foster, his mansion, downtown by the lake. So once I tried to start the car, it didn’t want to start. So, I just, I just got out of the car. And he was calling the police. I didn’t refuse arrest or nothing, because I was already caught. [Pause] I had been doing that for a while and I thank God to death that that happened because I didn’t kill anybody or hurt anybody because it could have been worse than that. I could have killed myself because I’ve lost, like I told you, I’ve lost control before. I’d lost control with the back beak towards the front and I’m sliding like that.
So what did he do? He called the police?
He, he, he, he, detained me and called the police. And the state troopers came, police came, they checked the back of the car. Put me in the back of another police unit. And they took me to a central booking unit. I stayed there for like 30, 40 minutes. And then after that I did a breathalyzer at that central booking unit. And my alcohol was over the level. And then after that, I had to go to the Terrebonne, Terrebonne Parish Jail, the jail by the Metropolitan Airport.
They took you there by car?
Yeah, in a police car.
And what did you do then?
Well, I had sit up in there and go thru booking and I had to call my lawyer.
You have a lawyer?
Yeah, I have a lawyer.
How do you pay a lawyer? You can’t pay your phone bill!
No, no, no, see this is what the deal is: If you don’t get no trouble, you don’t have to pay a lawyer. But, if, see I was in some trouble before, I was in jail, so I have a lawyer to help me with that. So once you get back in trouble, you have that lawyer and you call him and then you pay him. So while you’re not in trouble, you don’t have to pay your lawyer.
Okay.
So my lawyer, once I got in trouble, I called my lawyer that I was in the jail. He called my sister and left a message on there. And then, she had just got home and she had just heard the message from the lawyer, and then the phone rung. That was me calling her. And I told her, “Girl, look, the car slid out of control, I had a sheriff behind me, and in his unmarked car. They got me on DWI. I’m locked up. And they said, “Okay, it’s gonna cost you 160 dollars to get out. 75 to get out.”’
What’s that? Bail?
On a DWI, see that’s just a regular charge. It ain’t like no armed robbery or nothing like that. So, well my sister, my sister teach school, and she goes to Southern. She’s trying to get her Master’s, just like my other sister.
‘So, now my sister, you go, you gotta go to a bail bond, plus you gotta pay them about 50 or 60 dollars. And then you gotta pay what the jail want you to pay to get me out. Now they told me 75 dollars.’ Now my sister told, she had to pay them 165 dollars to get me out. This happened at 11 o’clock on Friday the 18
th in the morning. I got out at 12.
So you stayed all night there?
No, I got out at 12, 12:15 that night. Friday night, I, I got out. And once I got out, my sister brought me straight home, I went to sleep. Once I woke up the next morning, man, my head was spinning. So I was supposed to go work at 4:30 that Friday, till night. 4:30 that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So, after that Friday, that Saturday morning at 8 o’clock I called my boss, and me and her talked. And she said, ‘No, you made a mistake, blah, blah, blah. We told the cop, DWI.’ She said, ‘I replaced you, filled in your spot for right now.’ Now she had to come into work, she was supposed to be off. I was ready to come, about 4:30 that Saturday evening. So she said, ‘No, I just switched you with the guy who works on days and you was working at nights.’ She said, ‘I had to work today so what I want you to do is come in Sunday morning.’ So I went to sleep, and got ready and went into work Sunday morning I worked all of Sunday, from 4:30 in the morning till 6 o’clock. Now look, the, the paper came in and my name was in the paper. First offence, DWI. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, in The Advocate. In print on the Sunday paper.
You were in the Sunday paper?
Right. They put it in the paper, as a matter of fact, they put me on TV too, Channel 9.
Aren’t you famous?!
They put it in the TV. Because a lot of people kill people on DWI. They have a lot of people that get 3 and 4 and sometimes 5 DWI’s. Now, I don’t know how they let them go to 6 DUI’s. But I’m going through so much and this is my first DWI. But once I face the judge, I’ve been to the army, man, Desert Storm and all that. Now once, my judgment, Judge Himel, once I go to my judge, and I talked to him and see him, I’m paying so much stuff right now, just to try to get my car out of there, that it’s overwhelming. I mean, I, I, I have, I ain’t gonna, I ain’t, I’m not going to kill myself, I ain’t gonna commit suicide, I mean, man, this just, man, this ain’t nothing, man, if I lose my job, I have to go 2 days in jail, 48 hours.
Why?
Because I’m submitted guilty. Because they caught me guilty. Because somebody found me guilty, because I had a beer in the car with me.
So. Then you have to miss work.
I, I can’t contest it. No. I hope that the days they assign me to do 48 hours, 2 days, is my off days, if not my boss will have to find somebody to work for me. Because she’s been working with me so far already. Matter of fact a month ago, this same car had broke on me. I had just got fixed it myself. And the car was working and I was on my way to work. The car broke. And I couldn’t even go into work. So, she suspended me for 3 days. I had to work nights, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the same schedule at the same time. So this is what I wanted to say on here.
In my opinion, see, my brother, well, I think somebody got a hex, some type of curse on me. My brother, he got a girlfriend, that just, it is not right. And look, I was in Mexico and in Texas, and my Mexican friend, she got another friend, a Mexican lady that I let pray with me and stuff. Now she put… I’m gonna tell you the truth, I drunk some Holy Water and she put some Holy Water on me and all that, and I don’t know, I feel like the devil’s got such a stronghold, a hand on my life right now. But, I’m going to change my life and start…
I don’t understand. So, what did she do? She put the curse on you?
I don’t know if she put the curse on me or not. Bu, she prayed with me. Now see, if she was right, then everything is fine. If she was a right lady, with God. But she prayed with me, and I, I drunk some Holy Water too. And she put it on my head, she was praying for me. Now she was praying for me in Español, you know, in Spanish.
So you don’t know what she was saying?
[In a lower voice]
No, I don’t know what she was saying. But, I, I was trusting my girlfriend, now she was sitting over there telling me nothing. Matter of fact, I’m thinking about calling her right now. Look today is uh, 22
nd, it’s Tuesday the 22nd, evening, like what time is it? 6 o’clock, 6:30?
6:35.
Yeah, I’m gonna go call her. But see, this is what I’m saying. I don’t care if she did a curse, whatever, or whatnot. But once I give my life to God and Jesus and really commit my life unto doing right, I don’t even have to worry about the devil, or nobody having no curses or whatever on me. But within the past 3 or 4 months, I’ve, I’ve just been going through so much hell.
Like what?
I’ve been in a relationship for 2 years. I’ve been in a relationship with this lady for 2 years. And then my brother, his girlfriend, that situation just compound things. Because he ain’t bringing no money to the house, you know, no food, and things just been going crazy. If, if I have to go to jail, which I don’t want to go to jail.
What did you do in jail?
Oh, I wasn’t in jail for nothing like 13, 12 or 13 hours.
So you were by yourself there?
No, I was in a holding cell.
Alone?
Well, one other guy.
What was he doing?
Oh man, talking stuff, he crying, he was going to the back, you know, murderers and rapists and all that. Like I’m standing up, talking to them, “Let me use the phone.” They said, “Sit down, be quiet.” All that. I’m telling him, “Man, look, I need to call my lawyer, call my sister, because I’m getting out of here.” But this is the thing: I got 30 days to drive, then my license is gonna be suspended. I got 30 days. After that my license is gonna be suspended for 90 days.
Why?
Because on your first DWI, driving while intoxicated, under the influence, that’s how that goes. I need to make sure I get to my job.
But how?
No, see when I’m working on nights, I can catch the bus. While I’m working on days, which I have to go to in the morning, my brother is going to drop me off and I catch the bus home. He’s gonna have to drive me again at like 4:15, 4 o’clock. We gotta get up at like 4 o’clock. We gotta get ourselves up for him to drop me off, and then I come home.
So then that means I get the cardboard boxes I gave you with clothing donations before I move out? I need empty boxes.
I’ve been talking to people about your boxes.
Matter of fact, the boxes you gave me they still at my house. What I’m gonna have to do is call the Salvation Army and, ‘cause I’m not going to Mexico because the Mexico thing is out. I’m sorry about that. I wanted to really take you to that. I was telling people about that. But see…
[Ella sighs]
Now, why you? You know, God is going to work a miracle out for me. You don’t know, you don’t have to go thru what a regular person goes thru for a first DWI, because, see, I have been to the army. I was a lieutenant and served this country. I tell the judge, “Man, you wanna take me to jail? No, you won’t, I was a lieutenant. I work at a plant. I volunteered and served this country and then…” You want me to say this on here?
It’s fine.
“I’m HIV positive. Man, I got AIDS. I got, I got drug, alcohol problems. Little junkie. 18 years old, I’m shooting up cocaine. And, and I’ve been smoking crack, drinking alcohol. I have got many of problems. But I’m not, I’m not going to use that as an excuse. But I just want you to know that before you make a decision.” I’m gonna tell the judge that. “Now I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’m sorry for driving my car with no insurance and I’ve been drinking alcohol and all this here. Your Honor, you know what, I’m sorry, that’s all I can do right. And look, I’m gonna change my life, I’m not gonna be drinking, driving no more. Matter of fact, I’m not gonna touch the alcohol anymore. I wanna change my life. I wanna get back into the, a church. Please, can I keep my job? If, and if you can’t do that, I will go to a long term drug center, like in Texas for 2 years, but I don’t want to go to jail. Please, pardon me and just like I’m asking the Lord, God, to help me. Can you help me and give me some pardon? Have, have pity on me, please.”
And it will work?
And I might go on my knees telling him that. Because in my, from my heart, I mean that. I have, you gonna need help like that. You go to my neighborhood, my community, and from where I come, they say, “You trippin’. You weak.” I don’t get no help back. Now God, bless me back from helping people. But not like when I help you. I mean, God still bless me back. But people like you make sure, like girl, look, these shoes come from you, most of all the clothes I wear, come from you. I tell people that too. They said, “Man, who did that?” Lately I’ve been looking at the walls, looking at that car, that blue car you made pictures sittin’ in it. I’m looking at your pictures of Transylvania, I said, “God! God, I learn from her, that’s my friend. She’s been there for me, I said I’m glad and I will try my best to be there for her.”
And I got black friends, white friends, that haven’t been there for me, like you have. I’m glad we recorded all this. You know what I’m saying?
I just want to record this and just, uh, just let you know and everybody that’s listening here, how much I love this lady. She know about my girlfriend and met some of my friends. And all of that. I’m trying to think of your whole name.
[Ella laughs]
Ella Veres. One time the police stopped us. And look, the police pulled me out of the car and look, put the handcuffs on me, straight. Your son was going to a school right behind where I lived. Downtown, we here in Spanishtown. And the police said, “What’s your friend’s name?” So I told them, I knew the Romanian name, but I said, Ella Veres, her American name. So she, we had just, we knew each other 5, 6 months at that time. But she told the people her Romanian name. Yeah, her foreign name. And I told them Ella Veres, the name that we was familiar with over here. And then the police, he could have punched me. He wanted to beat me up at that time because he thought that… See once they see a black and white person together, they think it’s drugs. So he thought I was lying and all that. But it, see if he had went further, he put the handcuffs on me tight. And if he had of went further than that, I would have put my lawyer on him. Because, if he had impounded that car and took that car and all of that, now, he got, that was a harassment charge.
They were looking for somebody. But we had gone on a public street. He had stopped me and he just pulled me out of the car, just put the handcuffs on me and all of that. Because I was a young black person. See if I was white, if I was Mexican, you know.
Say how it was when we went to the soup kitchen?
Okay, well, the soup kitchen is very funky.
Why did you go? [Laughs]
You see a lot of alcoholics and drug addicts. Now see, I go to the soup kitchen all the time. Because, the reason why I go to the soup kitchen because I’m HIV positive, I wasn’t doing good at the time. I got AIDS. I work a job, yeah, and I was kinda struggling but people didn’t know it. I had a car and all that though, but I still needed somewhere to eat. Wasn’t no food at my house. So that’s why I was going there, eating, and one time I was going into two of them.
Two of them?
Yeah. The Da Vinci, Saint Paul Da Vinci and the Catholic one right up down East Boulevard. Tell them to take double.
Well, how did the soup kitchen look like?
Ah man, tell you what it look like, smell like. One of them was crowded, both of them were crowded. Crowded, smelling like pee, like the garbage.
Really?
Yeah, some of them the food is good at different times. But uh, that’s just like jail. That is not the place you want to be. That’s a terrible place. But for people that’s on the street, homeless people, drug addicts, alcoholics, that’s their main stay. They wouldn’t even be able to live if it wasn’t for that, because they need to eat to live. They have to be starving. More people be eating out of the garbage and stuff like that. Which we’ll see more in time.
Why did I go to the soup kitchen?
Well, she went as a guest with me, but she told me, no, I don’t wanna knock these people because these people really need. At this time she really needed it. Because I was the one that took her there. She didn’t really need it like homeless people, but just like me. That was just a place to go eat, at 11:30 through 1 o’clock you just go there to eat. Uh, but I admire that because she said she wasn’t gonna, you got people on the street that need it more.
The one time I pray for those people, because people create the devil. They need to eat to keep their warmth and their health, but they buy the health. And that made me really think a lot when you told me, “No, I’m not gonna knock these people because we can do better.” Now some people can do better. But you’re right, I thought about that a lot. By me being in alcohol and relapsing and stuff on drugs, alcohol, I was really going back there and that’s why I was making the decisions and doing the stuff that I was doing. Sorry about that.
Right now I just thank God that I am still alive. [Clears throat.] I thank God that I am still alive and that I still have my freedom. Not in jail. I have a lot of friends in jail. I have a lot of friends that’s dead. But right now, I just thank God that I’m not. My sister, my little sister, she’s been helping me out a lot. People have been paying money on me. I’m very thankful for the people that have been helping me, especially this lady here. This lady has been helping me a lot. And through my church. [Coughs] I haven’t been going to church, but people at my church, her, by her inviting me to meetings and other people I’ve been meeting thru her. Because where I live, they’re, they’re only just drug people. People just looking out for themselves. People don’t wanna help you. Man, people just, people just…. It’s just dog eat dog. These people just selling drugs, people stealing out of my bank. I lose a lot of stuff. People just stealing and just, man, man, if I had been living with a stronger brother maybe I would be in a different predicament. But my brother, he’s been giving all his money to his girlfriend. And, I’m spending all my money on drugs and alcohol. But at least I’m spending money on myself, well, at least I’m not doing like him, I’m not giving my girl and she riding in a brand new car. At least, if I’m spending my money on drugs and alcohol, at least I’m spending it on me, you know what I’m saying? But that’s still with the wrong outlook, the way to be looking at that.
How was it when you came to visit me at the Photography Department?
Oh, that was very wonderful. I don’t know why I didn’t stop. I, I tried, I said, man I need to stop, then my brother arrived in there and that was a very enlightening experience for me. I had been heard about the black vibes and I got to hear a lot of people speak about their lives and going through college, and everything they had been going through. And about uh, their uh acclimizim, getting culmination of getting their degrees from coming out of college.
We played some basketball over there and it was back then that I lost 3 or 4 games. And see, see I didn’t have management. Team anxiety. See I gotta a claim for Gulf, Gulf War Syndrome.
What’s that?
PTSD. Post, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They said, “Ain’t nothing wrong with your body, but there’s something wrong with your mind.” I, I forget a lot of things, I can’t remember a lot of things, and I’ve been drinking alcohol and drugs, so maybe I need to go to a drug, a long term drug center. I, I may just do that. I may just go to a long-term drug center for like 2 years and then I’m gonna go to Texas. When I go to Texas, if I do make that move, I’m not gonna come back here.
Now let me put this on record. I have a 15-year old daughter who goes to high school. I haven’t been able to pay child support for my daughter. Her grandmother, she only lives with her grandmother. Her mom, they don’t even know what’s going on with me. Because for the past 7 or 8 months I haven’t been able to give the money, like I used to. You know, once I get paid, I give her down some money. It was never on child support I give it to her on my own. But I haven’t been doing nothing for that girl lately. Last time I was on the telephone with her, I said, “Girl you know I love you. I’ve been going through some rough times.” And she said, “Do you really?” And I said, well, I, I, I really didn’t know what to say or how to say it. I say, “What you think? You’re gonna believe what your grandma and your mommy tell you?” I mean, she, she likes to go places and see people that I don’t like her to see. So that’s why I don’t like to come pick her up or nothing like that and take her where she wants to go because, she, she’s living kinda a rough, wild life style herself.
Like what?
Oh, like she, man, this neighborhood, like people that she knew that got killed. They, they be having drive-by shootings and everything up there right behind Bel Air. All, all the drug territory stuff. See, out in California, they got gangs. These people here, they shoot, kill each other over drugs, and it’s just stupid stuff. She, she don’t know, I don’t know. Matter of fact, they don’t even know themselves why they doing it. But see they call themselves gangsta’. If someone just come into their neighborhood and just speak to one of the girls that’s in the neighborhood, they, they feel like that’s confrontational. And really, it’s just stupid. Really, why can’t they all just get along? Matter of fact, first of all, black people they catch flack from man, a young black, if you’re in the States, anywhere in the States, white police stop you, your car can be straight, you don’t even have to be on no alcohol. But, you gonna catch something. Because if that man don’t like blacks, and you a young black, he might beat you up. He gonna tear your car up looking for drugs. He could, they think that every young black sell drugs, and all that. Now, see we make it hard on people that go to college, that sit in law school. People’s that’s in universities, young blacks. I say ‘we’ though, because I’ve been messing up myself. Now see, we make that hard on all them people, see they put all of us in a category, they, they put us in a box, they put blacks in a box. But young, young black males. You are really in a box.
So they can’t get out of the box?
[Pause]
No, you can’t. No, no, see just like you looking at me right now. See, I’m young, I’m young and I ain’t not harm. I’m 36 years old. I’m in the box. If, see, check it, you know, these fine cars that these people drive in? If I’m in a Lexus or a Jaguar or something like that, I could go get in the car right now and have on some nice clothes. And be driving down the highway, legibly, legibly, I mean, not speeding, or nothing. And they might stop me, see they going to check. “Where’s your insurance? Registration? Where’s your license?” And then they might search the car. And I haven’t done nothing.
You are a suspect.
Yes, suspect. There you go. Suspect.
The man I’m talking about, his son got killed. Cosby, Bill Cosby. He lives in California. That was a man that was robbing him on the highway. But sometimes, see, see different cases, if it’s black against white or if it’s white against black. Look, I think it was a black man that killed him or whatever. But if the victim would have been white and the suspect would have been black, aw man, he’d have got hung. But, lot of the times, when the victim is black, and the suspect is white, or, even when the suspect is black, man, that thing get throwed out. If you kill a black, sometime they like that. Because you’re eliminating another person that maybe doing some crime, you see, what I’m saying?
Now see, when the other person is white, that did that to them, well, we don’t even hear about them cases. But see, they handle that legibly. They go to court, and take care of them people there, if that’s their first offence. They take care of that the way it should be done. But if the victim or the person that got hurt is white and the suspect is black, man, that black person gonna get hung.
Hung?
And, and sometimes, they got loop holes in the system. You never heard of loop holes? See they got Catch-22 holes. And then they got crooked men. Now I told you, dirtiness and crookedness, prejudice and racism. You’ve got all that going on. You can’t throw that out the window. Now if somebody gonna write, write about that.
Say more about that then.
Well, I saw some award they gave last night, man. They gave one to the poor and this other one that was a civil rights leader. And Carol, Carolyn Kennedy was giving out the award. Everything was about hero, heroism. No, something like that. Cour… it, it was about [Pause] same thing as heroism.
Courage?
Yeah, courage. It was about courage. Matter of fact, it was on Nightline last night. The 21
st, Monday night. And they were saying, what is the definition of courage for you? And some women was giving their definition and description of what they thought courage was about. And I really liked that. But I’m not gonna make no excuses for my life. I done really lay down, this part of my life on this tape. I, I’d just really laid it down on the line and I did that for my friend right here because I really love this lady and her son. And I don’t ever lose that friendship. I’m sorry for being such a [Pause] doufus, but I love and I, that, that’s why I did this.
You want to listen a little bit to see what we did? Should I rewind it a bit?

Emmanuel would like to be a missionary and now is gathering money to go to missionary school that gets more and more expensive each year, he said. He fears his memory is not good enough because in Vietnam the gases ruined his health, he said. He often tells me he would love to go visit my country.

 
 
Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, freedom of speech and faith, and engineering social change thru art being some of them, I’d be grateful.
 
 

New York
August 25, 2013

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