Tag Archive: donald trump


palps-empire

Where do I begin?

Consoling my mother who thought she would vote a woman into the Oval Office in her lifetime?

Trying to find something to say other than ‘I’m sorry’ to my friends who have children and have to try to explain to them (especially the girls) what happened and why?

Pretending I have a comeback for the Muslim women who are in fear of wearing hijab in public, when I’ve been looking at the map myself and saying ‘I like road trips, but I am NOT taking any chances of a car breaking down in me in rural America right now.’

I’m like everyone else right now (or I guess, half of you).  I’m angry.  I’m shocked.  Frankly, I’m depressed.  I’ve already dipped back into a couple of my old vices, and frankly, if you feel mentally shot (and of course you’re not hurting anybody), a sanity check is as understandable right now as it’s ever been.

The gallows humor has provided a little relief.  But it’s been very fleeting today.  I don’t have any ‘everything is going to be alright’ quotes for you right now.  The shock and the embarrassment (for those of us who think about how we’re perceived by the rest of the world) is too strong.  Among many questions that come to mind today…

How Sexist Are We Exactly?  Phrased another way, would Bernie have beat Trump? (Possibly but him being Jewish might have had a similar effect). Would Joe Biden, who’s definitely in the same ballpark as the President-elect in terms of being charismatic and passionate, and in the same ballpark as Hilary as coming from the working class and having spent a lifetime in public service, would Joe have won?

Would Hilary have beaten any of the ‘traditional’ Republican candidates, or is the Clinton fatigue that strong?  Maybe the most depressing hypothetical that ties to the original question…what type of woman will one day become President of the United States?  Black people know better than most how ‘perfect’ Obama had to be to win and thrive as President.  And the vibe many of us feel today, to paraphrase the great Paul Mooney, is that, ‘It was OK for us to have a little fun, but we had too much fun’ with a black First Family.  And there had to be repercussions.

What’s done is done for now.  For the near future, I think I’m done writing scripts.  One of many things this year as a whole has made me consider is, my true passion as a writer (and the full scope of my vocabulary) comes out in nonfiction.  And with a Republican President, a Republican Congress and a Republican Supreme Court, I don’t think I’ll have a shortage of topics or events that stoke my fire. When I speak as I’m speaking now, you’re clearly getting the voice of a Muslim, an African-American, a liberal.  When I’m doing skits and plays and movies, that’s me too, but that’s me as a performer bringing another person’s voice to life. I take a lot of pride in helping others bring their vision to life as well, so it’s not that the two things automatically contradict each other.   But right now I feel, maybe the time has come to be even stricter in terms of ‘artist/citizen’.  We’ll see how it plays out.

Like I said, I have no platitudes to try to make you feel better right now.  A lot of us feel we took an historic L yesterday.  We’re down but not out.

Never out.

 

chaplin

The gallows humor has begun!

As we approach Judgment Day (literally), there’s been more ‘jokes’ in my tribe about how soon President Trump will deport us, and where we’ll go if we we’re given a choice. (Assuming he doesn’t just send me ‘back to where I came from’, I have thought about what it would be like to spend my twilight years in Zumunda.)

Kidding aside, this line of thinking did make me reflect on two of my artistic heroes…

Charlie Chaplin.  The Tramp.  One of (if not the first) international movie star.  Master of physical comedy of course, but he knew storytelling and was a great filmmaker (‘City Lights’ is still one of the best films ever in my opinion.)

Also, for the record, evicted by the United States Government.  An Englishman by birth, he publicly stated he wasn’t a Communist, but he also didn’t distance himself (enough) from his Soviet friends.  So when he went abroad to promote a film, they took his work visa.  In this case he wasn’t charged with a crime per se, but the man who gave us ‘The Great Dictator’ would have to submit to an interview to prove his loyalty to America if he wanted back in.

He opted not to come back for twenty years (when the Academy gave him an honorary Oscar, and he got the longest standing ovation in history).

johnnyc

If you come here routinely, you know the man above is my favorite Beatle.  The sarcastic one, the nerdy one, the cynical but romantic lyrics.  No need to repeat all of that.

Also, for the record, deported in a court of law by the United States Government.  When he came to this country he got deep into leftist politics, used his celebrity to introduce Bobby Seale and others on national television. Next thing you know, the powers that be decided he had to go back where he came from.  And if not for that President being so criminal he had to resign from office…

And those two were absurdly rich white guys.

Have we all been exhausted by how nasty this election cycle has been? Clearly.  Has this country ever been so openly hostile politically to so many of its own?  More often than I think we want to admit.  We’ve been good about ending up on the right side of history.  Now, whether we take the long way to get there or the short way… I guess we’ll have a better idea in a week.

I’m looking at…six Sundays from now to talk about how 2016 has changed me.  But speaking just in terms of this election cycle…look.  It was always part of the endgame to be, ‘a little’ more publicly vocal about my private identity.  Being prepared though, is not the same as expecting a day would ever come where I would feel so repeatedly offended, threatened, or disrespected as a Muslim, as an African-American, as a man whose general life philosophy is ‘you respect my space, I’ll respect yours.’  And as is the norm with everything right now, that’s just base level day to day life without getting into any specific political policies or governing.

So I’ve voted.  And I’ve used this space to say my piece one more time before Tuesday, for those of you who respect my intellect and opinion on these things.  I’ve done what I can; I’m ready to deal with whatever comes next.

You should do the same.

 

centralpark5

Here’s another ‘must see’ if it’s somehow slipped through the cracks (as it had for me until this weekend…)

‘The Central Park Five’ is another great documentary by Ken Burns.  This one focuses on the case of the five black and brown teenagers in New York City who were tried and convicted of assaulting and raping a young woman in Central Park.  Circumstantial evidence and mainly, the coerced confessions of the kids was more than enough to send them upstate for a violent crime none of them were a part of.

As mentioned in the film, the ‘lynch mob’ mentality grabbed ahold of this case and the kids really didn’t have much of a chance. (And yes, this film is a great complement to ’13th’.)  A metropolis already boiling over in tension, a young white female victim vs. five boys who were ‘wilding’, and a future Republican presidential nominee going on TV and taking out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty. (Yep, him.)

The conscience of the person who committed the actual crime eventually led to the legal exoneration of the boys, so they were vindicated.  But that part of their lives is forever ‘gone’. Not to mention the psychological trauma that obviously can never be taken away from being behind bars (for something again, you know the whole time you didn’t do.)

PBS is streaming ‘The Central Park Five’ for free on their website.  If you haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet, now’s your chance.

 

13th

I want to stay away from the obvious cliches when I judge this film on its own and within the long view of Ava Duvernay’s career (‘this is an important film’), so I’ll try to find the right words at the end…

The conceit of this documentary is that while the 13th Amendment abolished slavery…it really didn’t.  The U.S. Civil War (like pretty much every other war, ever) was about economics.  The Southern economic system was destroyed, so…something had to replace it.  And as a side note, all those blacks who that economic system was completely dependent on…what about them?

So that’s your starting point in this, incredible film.  Writing it down as I am now really doesn’t do it justice, but you get a five star ‘the History of Black America’ story in under two hours that rarely, if ever, moves too far away from its thesis.  You want a quick lesson in why (the original) Birth of a Nation is so important for all the wrong reasons?  It’s in here.  You want to know how coded language has evolved from nigger to ‘crack users’ to ‘thugs’ over the years? It’s covered pretty well here.  You want a quick political science lesson in how Nixon won over the South to the Republican party, and how the Clintons figured out how to neutralize that advantage?  It’s in here.

It’s history but make no mistake, this is a ‘film’ as well.  It’s art.  The use of graphics to illustrate how the prison rate keeps escalating, the use of hip hop to guide us through the political eras (I reflexively threw up my fist when Public Enemy came on.)  The editing is superb; in the early sections you will question why aren’t black people constantly boiling over in anger, in the present day Black Lives Matter section, I had to look away as the film makes you relive Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and the still growing list of boys who’ve been killed for being.

I have no inside information on if Ava even cares about industry awards, but as I write this either this film or the more L.A. centric story about race, ‘O.J. Made in America’ is the frontrunner for Best Documentary.  What I can say is that this is in my opinion the best film she’s directed to this point in here in her career by far.

Streaming on Netflix.  Watch it.

mclooney

So ‘Trojan War’ is done and a living product now, officially.  It’s been a great ride, a ton of memories I’ll never forget, chief among them the outpouring of support.

I love my people.  In every possible way that statement can be interpreted. Beyond the superficial links between us, that sense of ‘take care of the people who take care of you’ is a common value that binds me and Aaron.  Somewhat ironically, it’s cut both ways the past few weeks.  I’ve pumped up the film and its players every chance I got leading up to the premiere (as most of you saw).

The flip side of that is choosing to be quiet publicly as (in no particular order) Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Quentin Tarantino have…gotten my attention. If any of their news is still relevant next week (likely), we can address it then.  For one, this week has been about having fun and reminiscing about a great time to be a Trojan.  And two; sure nobody is interviewing me or quoting me today.  But I personally saw twice (TWICE!), conversations I’ve had with people on this project, where the context was clear, then the exact same thing is repeated word for word, to a reporter, put (and edited) in print, and turned into something else.  (One of them you can probably guess with little difficulty). So again, even if, in all likelihood me talking anything political would have never been picked up…why take a chance on being an unnecessary distraction?  One thing I must admit I like about being ‘on’ all the time, is that it’s made me fast-forward to acting like ‘the best version of Malik Aziz’ now, instead of waiting on being ‘big-time’ and then trying to clean up my act. More ‘hey Malik is this thoughtful and intellectual and passionate film geek’, less ‘man Malik retweets a lot of those booty clapping videos’ (half joking).

(In terms of the one relevant news item you can connect to the film; what started as a bitter, season ticket holder sniping has turned into ‘Alright, get him out of here, but if he really is drinking his life away, get him help.  We’ll use the rest of this season to figure out who should lead the program.  We’re full strength now.’)

Moving forward, ‘Trojan War’ is the biggest, flashiest project I’ve been a part of.  I’ll always point to it as something I’m proud of.  In terms of my endgame, it’s a door, a gateway, a bridge to tell other stories I’m passionate about.

As much as anything, the personal validation of knowing there’s a way for me to get what I want without making compromises I’m completely uncomfortable with, means as much to me as the professional validation.

So what exactly am I planning next?

Well, I’m not talking about that. Yet…