Snowfall Premieres July 5th on FX
"HeyyYYyyyyyyy, how are youu?" They ask as they look completely through me with that squinty, gleam, and toothy veneer smile. Their face remains in a frozen grimace as their eyes never make contact and hover above, beyond, but never connect to my own.
To be clear, they never posed the question for me to answer. Rather it was a demand to keep this encounter forgettable and at a distance. So, no problem, I push on, it's cool, there's no point to engage when someone is full of shit.
That's until instant karma for that thought returns as an associate or friend that demands that you meet this fabulous person across the room. Of course, it’s the same infamously rude witch or warlock. At this point, the gargoyle will respond by not acknowledging the earlier uncomfortable greeting, plus have amnesia of the four or five other instances that you've met them. Not that it matters, but I proceed to re-explain the what, when, who, and where. Then, reappears another half creepy fake smile followed by a puzzled look, and finally they blurt out, "Oooooh yessssss great to see you again."
I just ice grill grin and move on. Mofos be as fake as the Jordan's in Chinatown. That's when I look at my friend with the, "I told you they be acting like weirdos," "Don't introduce me to nobody, I'll feel out my own crowd."
The morale of the story is this. I don’t remember everyone I've ever met and my memory often slips. But I respect and give full attention to the person in my face. If I don’t remember you, I apologize and re-introduce. Who knows, I may forget you again. There's been many years and battles scars and memories fade. I just think there's never a reason to be flat out disrespectful.
Main culprits: Celebrities, The Boyfriends of Girl "Friends", Corner Store Cashiers, Athletes, Competition Guys, Women in New Relationships, Asian restaurants, New Money, The Pretty Friend, Rich Dude, Saved Folks, Money Hoes, Snob Guy, Snob Girl, The Director, The Investor's friend.
UPDATE: This person is no longer that bad. We had lunch they are actually a big fan of my work. We are working on a project together after years of ignoring each other and they are so talented. GET IT...HOLLYWOOD FAKEOUT
My first recollection of James Baldwin was a double-decker bus tour from downtown filled with "white internationals" looking to get a glimpse of the ole civil rights Harlem that no longer existed. There were a couple spots Uptown in the mid 90's that people "said" he used to live. Tourist would slide a tip to go upstairs and take a look at an unfurnished crack spot.
The next time I recall James Baldwin had to be my first year of Rice High School in Harlem. Some forgotten soul that I am thankful for today challenged me to read classic plays to pull monologues from rather than the contemporary monologue and scene books I was rummaging through. I jumped on the 2 train to forty-deuce and dug through the shelves of Drama bookstore until I came across a title that had a similarity to my namesake, "The Amen Corner." I was baffled by the way Baldwin was defining God's existence. It proved to be a good read and mature outlook, but I ended up choosing a piece from Dutchman to recite.
It wasn’t until 10th grade, after being intrigued with Richard Wright's Native Son, that I was put up on "Notes of a Native Son" by Baldwin. I remember being told not to read it because he was gay. Just as I was told to "Watch out cuz you know all the homosexuals are in the Arts, A," "You sure you want to be an actor?" Then the friend would look at me with a side eye. Whatever, I always knew the shit they tell you not to read is the exact thing you should. To say the least, Baldwin's essays were way over my head. His command of the language and writing style was so crisp, and up till then I knew nothing of his activism or sexuality. I proceeded to read through half the book, do a report in AP English on a few of the essays and that's it. I knew Baldwin! Can't tell me shit, plus I walked the same streets as him in Harlem. So, that's the extent of my Baldwin knowledge, it's pretty pathetic but at the same time I thought I knew something.
Okay. Start the movie. The documentary I Am Not Your Negro is directed by a Haitian brother Raoul Peck. Now, I know what you thinking, but our Haitian brothers know firsthand about fighting for freedom so they can tell any story of the diaspora. That being said, the tone and pace of this film is expertly executed. Samuel Jackson is an impeccable narrator. The film focuses on a three-year period based on an unfinished manuscript of James' titled "Remember This House." It takes a look at Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. All personal friends of James Baldwin. All three losing their lives in that three-year span. This film is not for the light of heart as several times I got chills listening to Baldwin's words coming out of his own mouth, painting a sober conscience of our present-day state as Americans. He speaks as a prophet and fortune teller and it's quite eerie. However, for those of us that know the pain to which he speaks, it's quite liberating. I suggest those that know a lot about James Baldwin to those that know nothing at all see the film. I imagine many may benefit from this perspective on American history. I will say this documentary lacks one very important thing, a solution. However, Raoul has used Baldwin's critical thinking so that you and I can be a part of that solve.
Amin Joseph and Damson Idris bring a new humanity to the crack game of the early 80's. How exact did a community without planes or boats get a constant flow of narcotics to eventually create an epidemic? Watch Snowfall to find out! It's not what you may expect and I had a blast filming. See you this summer.
Franklin and Jerome.