Posts Tagged ‘Race Relations’

Several years ago, I heard a news report about a gunman who walked into his workplace and killed not only his supervisors, but several innocent fellow workers. My reaction was “Damn! Why didn’t you just kill your boss?!”

That night, I wrote the lyrics for “Postal.” I’d been screwing around with the chord pattern for a while before that, and everything fell into place. The song basically wrote itself; it urges people who go postal to just kill their bosses, and not their co-workers. (My thought at the time was, “Who could possibly object to that?”)

A year or two later, my band at the time, Pinche Blues Band, recorded it.

I was surprised by the reaction to the song.  Even the most progressive white folks I know, extremely cynical leftist musicians and PC guilt-ridden liberals, thought it was “sick.” Though some eventually came around to seeing it as “getting inside the mind” of a shooter. They were wrong. I was literally urging people to shoot their bosses and not their innocent co-workers, if they decided to go that route. (Not a good idea, needless to say–too many negative personal consequences.)

In contrast, my black neighbors (middle-aged ex-gang bangers from one of the hellholes back east–and no, I’m not going to get more specific–and one of their pops, a longtime blues musician in that hellhole) loved it. A couple of my  ex-gangster Mexican neighbors did, too. As one of the neighbors put it, “I”m comin’ for you, motherfucker!” I was very surprised at how much they loved the song: everybody else was lukewarm at best (something I very much didn’t anticipate — I thought everybody on the left side of the spectrum would love it).

Here it is. Make up your own mind. Is the reaction to this a reflection of small sample size, a reflection of how awful I am as a human being, and how some people who sympathize with me are “sick,” or a reflection of how much more badly black folks get shit upon than even poor white folks in this society, how much most white folks are in denial?, and how much so many of us, poor black, white, and Mexican, want vengeance?  Here ’tis. Enjoy. And reflect, please. And then do something about it.




There’s a very clear protocol about how you act late at night walking on the street in marginal neighborhoods (my neighborhood)–“marginal” being poor, working class, mostly nonwhite, but not gang- or drug-addict-dominated, and which look way worse than they actually are.

I just went through the drill. Walked the half-kilometer to the Circle K, and bullshitted around with the drug dealer (a black guy in his 50s) in front of the place for 10 or 15 seconds — which translated to, “Good evening sir, I know why you’re here and I don’t care; I’m just here to buy some beer; I wish you well.” Which in practice went:

“Hey bro, what’s happenin’?”

“Not much, man. Just messin’ around with this technology” (pointing to his phone). “I just don’t get it.”

“Me neither. It’s for the young folks.” And I walked in.

On the way out, it was a mutual nod and “Good night bro.”

On the way back, I walked past two guys. The one on the other side of the street ignored me, as I did him, which was proper. The guy walking on the same side as I was (who was huge, bigger than me) did the right thing, stepped five feet out into the street, and kept on walking.

That’s what it’s come down to: fear, protocol, and constant vigilance. What a way to live in the land of the free.