My first tapes (yes, tapes, and for you youngins I mean a CASSETTE tape - look it up) I was ever allowed to buy on my own were from the gas station around the corner from us on St. Antoine in the D. I eagerly selected my choices carefully: Eric B. and Rakim, LL Cool J, Salt N Pepa and Whodini. For the better part of the year, those tapes were played on my purple Finger Hut boombox with the built-in mic whenever and wherever possible. Not only would I make my own mix tapes with the dual cassette recorder (Pause, play, pause, play. Throw a little “West End Girls” in there to show my versatility.) but I would also rewind and play, rewind and play to write down the lyrics. By the time the school sockhop or the next grade school neighborhood party happened, I was in the know. I would faux rhyme and faux beatbox and make faux music with my mouth like nobody’s business. All while rocking the ribbons my mother INSISTED on, Pre-Con gel baby hair hugging the side of my face, my fiercest gear (a red and blue sailor top and matching pleated skirt with red socks and navy shoes - shut YOUR mouth) rocked the only way I could rock it - FRESH.
This was my special life event.
Gradually more special life events featuring hip hop came along. I mean who could forget Two Live Crew. Sixth to eighth grade I spent riding with my best friend Kerry and her old sister Kim with her friends in her mom’s car spouting lyrics that would be illegal in most countries. In her living room is where I learned the fine art of girl booty dancing and how it can be chorea graphed to flow with a nice young man behind you.
High school brough NWA and my girl Trena (the first to get a car in the group) who liked drive down Six Mile and break to the beat of Easy E and Dr. Dre. Soon that gave way to the Native Tongue movement where I forced my father to listen to De La Soul (he thought they were WEIRD with all that D.A.I.S.Y movement business) as we drove down Woodward to the NBD Bank to cash his check from Ford. He really just wanted to listen to Sir Mix Alot and would, eventually, just palm that tape from me in the end. I learned how to jump in a car to Blacksheep and House of Pain. I would feel most grown up once Cathy Kelly and I had dinner, went to see Deep Cover and immediately needed to play Dre and Snoop’s “Deep Cover” cut from the soundtrack. This is also how I learned police codes such as 187. This would eventually lead to my addiction to Maurice Malone’s parties at Stanley’s Chinese Restaurant after hours (me explaining to my parents that their favorite chinese food place transformed into a baggy jeaned and black medallioned Maurice Malone flagship store where you could buy his latest t-shirts for twenty bucks and dance to the the most innovative hip hop in the city. They still didn’t understand. It’s a restuarant, they said). At Maurice Malones, I would meet Darryl Dawsey, the journalist to whom I had the most respect because he was young, unabashed and the closest to temperament of these new hip hop kids the Detroit News had ever seen. I would also keep in vague touch with Maurice group, including his then fiance whom I’d later run into in Florence, Italy of all places, joyfully recounting the dark, disco lit hot dining room where everyone danced like a Ernie Barnes painting.
Then I hit New York and the DOC had his vocal chords injured in a car accident but still made his scratchy Deep Throat appearance on Dre’s new album, Boss was the hottest female rapper anyone had ever seen, Onyx was the midget crew that everyone swore was on some kind of coke driven binge because of their energy and my college professor, Kurt Lamkin, had us study Das EFX.
As a new semi-journalist in New York, I was in heaven. My first week I saw KRS One live and not just on BET videos where he appeared with Miss Melody and kicked off the first ever hip hop peace summit video with “Self Destruction.” Then I saw the NOTORIOUS on stage in cheap windbreakers, about fifteen deep with a little bitty girl swimming in her windbreaker jacket, thick eyebrows visible from the back of Irving Plaza.
Through Jessica (the Care Moore of my life) I would eventually meet Mos Def and Talib Kweli in the EARLY stages of Blackstar when only my poet friends like T’Kalla and Jasiri were in the know at Frank’s Place in Brooklyn. There was the night that we left a small club after seeing them hold the mic down, traveling through Prospect Park and almost getting swooped up by bats, only to end up at Wood Harris’s apartment, drinking and watching crazy movies while the boy half of the living room, tried to rap to the girl half (Tyren, you remember there, right?).
Somewhere along the way, these joyous moments faded as hip hop got bigger and people did summits and held festivals about its impact on kids from Columbus to Japan. The special life event sort of became regular and not so special. There are shining moments like the first time I heard Eminem (a white boy rapping is not so odd in Detroit, FYI, especially with the infamous reputation of the drug dealer White Boy Rick who was almost more powerful than most drug dealers on the Eastside of the D. I should know. Kerry made me keep my eyes peeled for him wherever we went so she could make herself known to him in THAT way), Jay Z’s smooth and almost quiet rise to the top, Salt N Pepa maturing, DMX and the Rough Ryders hard sexy dangerous carefree lyrics, Mobb Deep really ill and dark samples, Wu Tang Clan’s storming the entire set, Tribe Called Quest quietly disbanding (but it sounded like a thud to the fans, trust) and De La Soul’s eventual rare release of always innovative musical themes (Pierre, I will always think of you when I hear De La Soul!). At some point, John Coltrane became louder to me than hip hop. Even hip hop flavored R&B got louder with Mary J. and the whole Bad Boy crew (especially when they all became Bad Boy alumni). Eventually, it just drowned out. Sure there are moments where I hear something fresh and can’t stop listening to it (Mos Def’s “Black on Both” Sides, Kweli’s “Get By” and “Four Women” featuring the Queen Goddess herself Imani Uzuri) but all in all, it has became a sea of choices with the notable storms too few and far between.
Today I just listened to Jay Z’s “Blueprint 3″ and I think I’m back to where I was before. I jumped in my car to some tracks. Others made me feel like that cool girl back in Detroit who drove down the block with her man in the passenger seat, leaned all the way back, as they enjoyed the crystal fresh sharpness of the Detroit sun. Some tracks made me feel like I was in that Maurice Malone club that doesn’t exist anymore where people are there for the music and the company and not the company alone. I feel like a special life event is once again in the spotlight with the Jigga Man. I’m not saying that there aren’t fantastic underground groups or groups that are a little below the mainstream. Lupe Fiacsco is great. I’m learning to get Kid Cudi. I unfortunately am no where near understanding Lil Mama. Weezy is an epic story but in no way do I know half these kids like the artists trapped behind the plastic cash register glass at the gas station like I used to. And I refuse to believe it’s because I’m getting old. Recently Scott and I went to Power House 90, solely for Jay Z of course, and I realized that some of this music isn’t so bad if you hear it live. It wasn’t until Jay Z took the stage though that we felt like we were in a brand new LaZBoy chair. There is no mistake that there is a way things are done. And that was a return to the special life event.
I’ve had requests from friends to read their stuff and it takes me forever because I don’t take these read things lightly. In my regular daily life, I send endless scripts out to people who either read or don’t read them. And, if they do, more than likely I know they haven’t digested them because it’s not taking long enough to read the script. But we live in a world where digestion is overrated. People prefer immediate heartburn. And if there’s something digestabley great and they missed it, well then they look for something that looks exactly like what they missed. Carbon copy digestion that’s really another heartburn.
From A History of Violencescreenwriter Josh Olson:
I will not read your fucking script.
That’s simple enough, isn’t it? “I will not read your fucking script.” What’s not clear about that? There’s nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.
If that seems unfair, I’ll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.
You’re a lovely person. Whatever time we’ve spent together has, I’m sure, been pleasurable for both of us. I quite enjoyed that conversation we once had about structure and theme, and why Sergio Leone is the greatest director who ever lived. Yes, we bonded, and yes, I wish you luck in all your endeavors, and it would thrill me no end to hear that you had sold your screenplay, and that it had been made into the best movie since Godfather Part II.
But I will not read your fucking script.
At this point, you should walk away, firm in your conviction that I’m a dick. But if you’re interested in growing as a human being and recognizing that it is, in fact, you who is the dick in this situation, please read on.
Yes. That’s right. I called you a dick. Because you created this situation. You put me in this spot where my only option is to acquiesce to your demands or be the bad guy. That, my friend, is the very definition of a dick move.
I was recently cornered by a young man of my barest acquaintance.
I doubt we’ve exchanged a hundred words. But he’s dating someone I know, and he cornered me in the right place at the right time, and asked me to read a two-page synopsis for a script he’d been working on for the last year. He was submitting the synopsis to some contest or program, and wanted to get a professional opinion.
Now, I normally have a standard response to people who ask me to read their scripts, and it’s the simple truth: I have two piles next to my bed. One is scripts from good friends, and the other is manuscripts and books and scripts my agents have sent to me that I have to read for work. Every time I pick up a friend’s script, I feel guilty that I’m ignoring work. Every time I pick something up from the other pile, I feel guilty that I’m ignoring my friends. If I read yours before any of that, I’d be an awful person.
Most people get that. But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the guilt factor is really high, or someone plays on a relationship or a perceived obligation, and it’s hard to escape without seeming rude. Then, I tell them I’ll read it, but if I can put it down after ten pages, I will. They always go for that, because nobody ever believes you can put their script down once you start.
But hell, this was a two page synopsis, and there was no time to go into either song or dance, and it was just easier to take it. How long can two pages take?
Weeks, is the answer.
And this is why I will not read your fucking script.
It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.
(By the way, here’s a simple way to find out if you’re a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you’re not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)
You may want to allow for the fact that this fellow had never written a synopsis before, but that doesn’t excuse the inability to form a decent sentence, or an utter lack of facility with language and structure. The story described was clearly of great importance to him, but he had done nothing to convey its specifics to an impartial reader. What I was handed was, essentially, a barely coherent list of events, some connected, some not so much. Characters wander around aimlessly, do things for no reason, vanish, reappear, get arrested for unnamed crimes, and make wild, life-altering decisions for no reason. Half a paragraph is devoted to describing the smell and texture of a piece of food, but the climactic central event of the film is glossed over in a sentence. The death of the hero is not even mentioned. One sentence describes a scene he’s in, the next describes people showing up at his funeral. I could go on, but I won’t. This is the sort of thing that would earn you a D minus in any Freshman Comp class.
Which brings us to an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn’t actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn’t require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don’t regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.
So. I read the thing. And it hurt, man. It really hurt. I was dying to find something positive to say, and there was nothing. And the truth is, saying something positive about this thing would be the nastiest, meanest and most dishonest thing I could do. Because here’s the thing: not only is it cruel to encourage the hopeless, but you cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you’re not a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, I’ve done you a favor, because now you’ll be free to pursue your real talent, whatever that may be. And, for the record, everybody has one. The lucky ones figure out what that is. The unlucky ones keep on writing shitty screenplays and asking me to read them.
To make matters worse, this guy (and his girlfriend) had begged me to be honest with him. He was frustrated by the responses he’d gotten from friends, because he felt they were going easy on him, and he wanted real criticism. They never do, of course. What they want is a few tough notes to give the illusion of honesty, and then some pats on the head. What they want–always–is encouragement, even when they shouldn’t get any.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell someone that they’ve spent a year wasting their time? Do you know how much blood and sweat goes into that criticism? Because you want to tell the truth, but you want to make absolutely certain that it comes across honestly and without cruelty. I did more rewrites on that fucking e-mail than I did on my last three studio projects.
My first draft was ridiculous. I started with specific notes, and after a while, found I’d written three pages on the first two paragraphs. That wasn’t the right approach. So I tossed it, and by the time I was done, I’d come up with something that was relatively brief, to the point, and considerate as hell. The main point I made was that he’d fallen prey to a fallacy that nails a lot of first timers. He was way more interested in telling his one story than in being a writer. It was like buying all the parts to a car and starting to build it before learning the basics of auto mechanics. You’ll learn a lot along the way, I said, but you’ll never have a car that runs.
(I should mention that while I was composing my response, he pulled the ultimate amateur move, and sent me an e-mail saying, “If you haven’t read it yet, don’t! I have a new draft. Read this!” In other words, “The draft I told you was ready for professional input, wasn’t actually.”)
I advised him that if all he was interested in was this story, he should find a writer and work with him; or, if he really wanted to be a writer, start at the beginning and take some classes, and start studying seriously.
And you know what? I shouldn’t have bothered. Because for all the hair I pulled out, for all the weight and seriousness I gave his request for a real, professional critique, his response was a terse “Thanks for your opinion.” And, the inevitable fallout–a week later a mutual friend asked me, “What’s this dick move I hear you pulled on Whatsisname?”
So now this guy and his girlfriend think I’m an asshole, and the truth of the matter is, the story really ended the moment he handed me the goddamn synopsis. Because if I’d just said “No” then and there, they’d still think I’m an asshole. Only difference is, I wouldn’t have had to spend all that time trying to communicate thoughtfully and honestly with someone who just wanted a pat on the head, and, more importantly, I wouldn’t have had to read that godawful piece of shit.
You are not owed a read from a professional, even if you think you have an in, and even if you think it’s not a huge imposition. It’s not your choice to make. This needs to be clear–when you ask a professional for their take on your material, you’re not just asking them to take an hour or two out of their life, you’re asking them to give you–gratis–the acquired knowledge, insight, and skill of years of work. It is no different than asking your friend the house painter to paint your living room during his off hours.
There’s a great story about Pablo Picasso. Some guy told Picasso he’d pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, and said, “One million dollars, please.”
“A million dollars?” the guy exclaimed. “That only took you thirty seconds!”
“Yes,” said Picasso. “But it took me fifty years to learn how to draw that in thirty seconds.”
Like the cad who asks the professional for a free read, the guy simply didn’t have enough respect for the artist to think about what he was asking for. If you think it’s only about the time, then ask one of your non-writer friends to read it. Hell, they might even enjoy your script. They might look upon you with a newfound respect. It could even come to pass that they call up a friend in the movie business and help you sell it, and soon, all your dreams will come true. But me?
I will not read your fucking script.
Let’s be honest. Award shows are never about the work you did to receive said honor. There’s little to do with honor on a red carpet, picking out the outfit (unless you’re the stylist or the feet that have to endure the carpet in five inch stillettos), sitting for hours, enduring less than riveting media questions (”Who are you wearing?” has absolutely nothing to do with how you prepared to play a concentration camp victim or a beautician/prostitute/care taker) or getting on the list to the Vanity Fair party afterwards. It’s all about ego. So let’s just put the ego on full spotlight, shall we? I mean this is what’s been leaking out from these shows the past few decades. There was the Native American Marlon Brando sent to make his political statement. There was the streaker in the 1970s. There was Jack Palance:
There was the time Ving Rhames gave his award to a perplexed looking Jack Lemmon:
There was Diana Ross fondling Lil Kim’s exposed boob:
Then, of course, the Ego of Egos could not be peaceful observer last night at the VMAs. Kanye West, whether you love him or hate him, filled with that “Can’t Act Right” juice from the bottle he carried on the red carpet, had to and upstage a young seventeen year old girl who had never won an MTV anything before by inappropriately confiscating her mic, jacking off to mortified Beyonce, and then being asked to leave by a producer only to to issue a temp blog apology to little Taylor Swift afterwards.
Kanye has been the upshower of most events since his arrival on the scene. Somewhere, probably in Bad Boy Records school, people were teaching kids off the street that you had to be a dog get what you wanted (I mean that in the Rough Ryders - DMX sense) and then word spread to the kids after the Bad Boy generation thus some of the arrogants we have walking around today. Listen up kids, here’s the part they didn’t tell you about. There is a time to slow it down. After you can live off of your record earnings (not your advances, trust), are confident that you are a one hit wonder or a sophmore slumper, that you work harder in the studio than you do on people’s nerves, you’re allowed to pull back the ego. Look at Jay Z. Whether you get him or not, he would probably wear a dress before he jumped on stage to steal thunder from a child. There comes a time when all your blogs in CAPS LOCK and your incoherent rantings about random things that mostly never concern you are going to not propel you any further than you are. You even inspired Lil Mama to jump on stage with the astonishing idea that she belong right there next to Jay Z and Alicia Keys. That was all you, Kanye. It is time to love that little nerdy kid that didn’t get along with anyone in grade school before you go any further. Do it in tribute to your mom. Do it so that you can heal yourself and see what other stratosphere your music can take you. Do it for whatever reason resonates. Because while Award Shows are about ego, there are not about disrespect. This is a circus, my friend, not improv theater. We can’t handle improv theater anymore because there’s a severe need of intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity and respect. Specifically on the political stage right now (if I hear one more conservative “news” person say that most anti-Obama folks are just tired Americans, I might scream. You can’t be anymore tired than he is of being compared to Hitler, of seeing lynching pictures or of the racial slurs that are plastered on your posters, “tired Americans”…seriously). And while I know you’ve given your award to others before, you’ve stomped that action out by this one. You can’t apologize for being real when you did when nobody asked you.
That girl can’t her moment back but thankfully, Beyonce gave her another moment which is hopefully richer than the first would have been. But it didn’t have to be like that. Give me the days of the Native American protestor, the Jack Palance push up, the Ving Rhames act of random kindness any day.
Whether you agree or disagree with the Obama administration’s handling of the country, I think it’s flat wrong to decide not to air a Presidential speech on the basis of it creating “a cult of personality” ( a direct quote from one of the Senators of one of the five state boycotting Obama’s speech). If that were the case, why have we been allowed and subject to endless ridiculous Republican Presidential speech every administration? All of a sudden because there are so many fear abiding, undercover racist, misinformed tea party mobsters, we now have to change how we’ve done things in the past. As a liberal, I’ve not ever boycotted a Presidential speech whether I agreed with the President or not. He’s the President so I let him (hopefully one day “her”) speak his peace and agree to disagree. It’s really quite scary how large the hypocrisy is getting in this country over this change. At least Obama predicted it and hopefully, not many supporters of change are loosing faith over the propoganda being poured out. We don’t really even have news anymore. We have ponderers. Today I saw a man with several bumper stickers on his big pick up truck that said “Throw the bums out” with a picture of the White House and “I’ll keep my money, you keep your change.” It made my blood boil. What money was getting taken from him? His taxes? Do we not want to pay taxes anymore? Or, a better question, do we not think we need to pay taxes anymore? If that’s the case, let’s just set all of you up on your little boats/rafts/etc and let you sail until you find your remote island so you can handle yours. The rest of us realize we live in a country with several communities that require our participation in order to make them work. For so long, we’ve been on the other end of the stick of most of these communities. We’ve had people work our communities and then go back to their far richer community and not give back to either the one they work in or the one they live in. If you use a resource, you have to pay for it.
Further, I’m boggled by most of these anti-healthcare protestors. I’m convinced most were dropped on their heads at some point. It’s common sense. Buy in bulk, cost goes down. All these people shop at Costco, Sam’s Club and Wal-mart on the regular so how come they don’t get that a larger healthcare option including reform will make costs go lower?
Lastly, the question that will loom until we’re through this web of YEARS OLD economic deception, where were all of you angry anti-everything people when they were spinning this shit?
God, I hope the rest of the world is watching. It’s hard to stay ignorant when there’s a spotlight on.
I have a longstanding odd history with fire. In the third grade, I remember opening up one of those black history books and coming face to page with the infamous photo of the black man in the south barbecued on a pit while his Klan onlookers stood around grinning like moonshine fiends. Easily identifiable were his scars from being beaten. His face was contorted in agony. His skin crispy and succumbing to the disaster around him. In third grade, even now sometimes, whatever happens during the day, usually ended up in my dreams at night. I could swear on all that I hold sacred that my soul was fighting something evil that wanted me in that fire. I tossed and turned, trying to wake up to the point were my chest ached and I almost couldn’t breathe. When I finally woke up with a big gasp, safely tucked away in my butter yellow room, stuffed animals surrounding me, I knew I’d won something but I wasn’t sure what completely. I checked my body for burn marks and figured I was okay.
A few weeks later, I’d have one of those dreams that was so complex and ridiculous that I wrote it down in my diary. Since that was “mfoiaupiofpa” years ago, I don’t exactly still have that diary (but the pack rat I am at least salvaged a report card or two), but I remember that dream as clear as if I had it last night. There was an abandoned building. There were desert people who could only go to there final resting place if they caught on fire. There were children stuck in the abandoned building. There was me to save everyone. I think of it as “Mad Max” meets that civil rights photo. That dream has never left me.
Later on that year, one of my Girl Scout troop members, Dawn, was killed in a fire. My troop was part of Bethel AME in Detroit so already we had a lot of religious reside ensconced in our meetings. Most of the girls were the daughters of long time church members. I just went because I lived around the corner. My mother and I went to Sunday church service maybe once every other year. For my mom, she spent her whole life going to church so by the time she was grown with a baby girl on her own, she was not having it anymore. My grandpa used to pay me to go to church. “Ladybird, here’s three dollars. Half in the collection plate, half in your pocket.” I went with fervor. Not only did I get $1.50 but my grandma would pass me half sticks of Juicy Fruit. But that was not the case by the time Dawn died. We weren’t in Cleveland anymore by then. My grandpa had long since been murdered. And I was not the least bit comfortable going to funerals after having gotten lost in the parlor at my grandpa’s funeral. But I went to Dawn’s by myself, dressing in the only good dress I really had and walking around the corner with my little patent leather pocket book. I sat with a few of my troop members and listened to Dawn’s family wail and scream (awfully unusual for an AME church but given the circumstances, completely understandable). The personable pastor (who I swear was one of the twins from the group The Whispers) delivered a somber but spiritually uplifting sermon that did it’s best to make us all forget that a little girl died in a fire. There was a picture of Dawn above her casket since she was young but the fire didn’t wouldn’t let us see her ever again. She was oval and full like an Easter egg, not yet hitting puberty where everything settles in its appropriate places. She had a short Jheri Curl and toffee brown skin. In her picture, she was happy.
I was good until we had to go up to the casket, pay our respect to her and then hit family row. Her mother’s hand grabbed mine tight. It was soaked to the bone with tears and snot. When I took my hand away, I remember the blood pulsating under the skin, trying to come back from her grip.
After the funeral, out in the sunny beautiful Detroit afternoon (a sensory experience not many people will be blessed to experience or remember) us troop girls in various sizes and ages, mulled around the church, not wanting to go home but definitely not wanting to go back into the church where all the adults were old enough to be stunned about a little girl’s death. Back then I was usually the youngest, the most impressionable, the most silent, the most curious and probably the one most likely to follow the older girls. This was always a good and bad thing. On the good side, I got to be cool, got to hear closer to adult age things than I was used to, had the most adventures than the other girls my age. On the bad side, I got to be cool, got to hear closer to adult age things than I was used to and had the most adventures than the other girls my age. One of the older girls, Gabrielle, was very maturely developed thirteen year old (this was back when I thought thirteen was practically adult) with a father who worked around the clock to keep her away from the boys in our neighborhood since she had the biggest chest, the goofiest personality and the prettiest face. Her father instantly thought these things were a recipe for a grandchild he was not ready for. Plus Gabrielle’s mother had died so it was just him vs. the cunning boys of Kirby Street. Though Gabrielle was nice and fun, she also lied a lot. I suppose when you’re a kid, it’s called having a healthy imagination or having an active fantasy life. But she was getting older and it was called flat out lying by then. As I went through my patent pocketbook for gum, she said to me, “You know, Dawn told me before she died that you were her best friend.”
This was impossible and struck me with great stress and fear. One, I had no idea where Dawn lived or what her phone number was and back then, that’s how you had a best friend. You were either over their house or on their phone. But I was neither. And, instead of thinking of this as one of Gabrielle’s lies (that being my first thought was a process that would take some time and by then, her father had finally moved her away), I was thinking what a rotten friend I’d been to let her die in the fire. What kind of best friend was I that Dawn couldn’t call me to get out? Immediately I ran through the scenarios of how I could’ve missed Dawn being my best friend. Sure there was the time we went camping and made fun of our troop leader’s sloppy joes (they put vegetables in them like proper church ladies would). There was the time we walked through the camp carefully together so we wouldn’t disturb the witch, rumored to be living in the pond underneath the bridge (especially since she liked to each children). But those were very few incidents that I know were isolated. I spent way more time with Gabrielle and Pip (the other thirteen year old girl who lived next door to me) than Dawn.
I accepted my responsibility and felt maybe Dawn would forgive me later now that she was in heaven. I was sure my grandpa, who was up there already, would sort her out. Plus, if you died in a fire, like the man in the book, you probably had other things to sort through than who your best friend was.
I thought of all of this today as we experience raging fires here in LA. There is smoke in the sky and, in some parts of the city, you can see the flames dance above the mountains. There are people being evacuated and some who are holding their ground. Today we heard about two firefighters who lost their lives as their car careened off of a cliff as they were on their way to find an escape route for some safety trained prisoners and other fire team members. I wonder if Dawn or the man in the picture are sent down from wherever to be spirits to guide these kinds of deaths. If they are part of some supernatural squadron of life savers, I would feel better. That would me that they did die for something I could locate in the rational part of my brain and not just the fantastical part.