All This is That (a 30:30 report)
Well, this might be the day when that one true Tsetse fly here in the East Bay manages to drift down through the sweet light breeze and land on my sorry ass and I’ll go to sleep for a long, long time – of course there’s a number of people (a good number) would tell you what’s new, that cat Milky’s been sleep-walking through his whole damn life – but they do not truly know me, and it’s that African fly thingy that will one time send me to ta-ta land if’n he/she catches up with me — here as I make my way back from one of the Vietnamese open market stores with half a bag of mostly fresh veggies which I have purchased and am walking home – home being 1515 Alice Street off 14th and right up from the Oakland Public Library, which I do frequent both for books and free movies and enough so a couple of the front desk people when they check me out ask “What’s the haps, Milky?” – and I don’t know about you but that feels real good for me, being known, being a community member in good standing, at least as they see it,
But this story has me walking back from 8th where all those Vietnamese markets are jammed side by side and I’m cutting through relatively safe possible gang territory and up from the north end of the Laney campus and I do go to regular supermarkets but I try and buy most of my vegetables on 8th because it is supporting locals and people working seriously hard to catch a better life for them and their kids, versus the corporations which can go fuck themselves, excuse me, and this is a Saturday and it is usual Oakland weather for most of the year, this is May, and part of me has my eye open for aggressive looking flies which may be intent on swirling in my direction, maybe it’s the smell of the sweat I’ve worked up on my walk back or the general sweetness of my Portugee blood, anyway Pancho, keepin’ an eye out, but mostly I am humming favorite tunes to myself, like the Rascals “How Can I Be Sure” or Hall and Oats “Wait For Me” or the Dave Clark Five “Anyway You Want It” which some folks including me believe is the very first real hard rock tune, everyone carries their own opinions about things,
And I’m humming and slightly looking and paying fairly good attention to the ambiance of fellow walkers and cars booting it up and down side streets and then right in front of me is this small black kid – which having a small black kid right in front of you is not unusual in Oakland and is, in fact, one of the things I love about my Town here where I’ve lived eight years now, that it’s got all kinds of people including that Vietnamese neighborhood and lots of black people and a whole big Mexican group too and since I grew up back in Massachusetts in a town which had a similar mix and have in the in-between unfortunately found myself in towns almost all white and that truly sucks and can I get a big “Boring!!” as well, I mean, different strokes for different folks and we all got something to learn from each other, probably, and so here is this kid and I stop so as not to walk around him or for that matter bump into him and potentially knock him over as he is not all that big, I’d guess maybe eight years old and kind of skinny, and he asks me, out of the clear blue this is like I didn’t see the kid a minute ago when I was taking in the ambiance though maybe he slipped out of a store or one of these big cool apartment buildings over around this side of the lake,
Anyways there he is and he asks me if I have ever seen a flying saucer, and I cannot speak for you but this is not what one might expect walking casually down the street on the way back from vegetable shopping, at least I wouldn’t expect that any given day, but the fact of the matter is I have seen a flying saucer, in fact (again) back when I was maybe the same age as this kid in front of me or maybe even a little younger, and I tell him yes I have seen a flying saucer and then he asks me well what did it look like and there is the smallest hint of frustration in the tone of his voice which I interpret as his wondering why is this guy only half answering me, and we can debate following things as said/asked exactly or implications or being more plugged in to what I often refer to as “it all”, so I tell the kid it looked like – well – a flying saucer like in all the old time movies and at least, I can see from his expression I have now fully answered him but I can also see that he doesn’t know what the fuck I am talking about so I ask him how old are you and he says eight, which makes me feel good about being so astute in my street smarts, and I ask if he has seen all the old movies like “Angry Red Planet” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (and I don’t say what I’m about to say to you but not the bogus remake with Keanu Reeves, no, the classic with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal (who was way cool) and “Gort Baringa” which maybe you had to be there for that),
But the kid says no he never has so I go about describing the silvery gray saucer-shaped things which people my age of course know what I would be talking about and for sure could picture in their own mind’s eye, and apparently we have concluded our conversation to the kid’s satisfaction because he says cool and turns around and starts walking down the street the other way so I jog, I have a good hold on my bag and even while moving faster continue to glance around for sleep-inducing flies, and I catch up to him and say, little brother, what’s your name, and he tells me it’s Richard so I say Richard, why did you want to know if I ever saw a flying saucer? And he looks at me for maybe a whole 30 seconds without answering and then says because I saw one yesterday and I say no shit and he says no shit – we say it differently, mine more of a question, his more of an affirmation, and I ask where he saw it and he says up in the big hillside cemetery which of course I know anyone from Oakland knows because it is a fine place to go and spend an afternoon walking around and being respectful and quiet plus the view when you have driven, if you’re driving, or walked which takes a lot of energy, the view up at the top out over the whole bay looking west and a little north is pretty fucking incredible, you get to see all the bridges – the Bay, the Richmond, and way over there the Golden Gate and downtown San Francisco and downtown, of course, Oakland, and how the cemetery runs downhill for like forever,
And I ask Richard what he was doing up at the cemetery, and you know all those things I just got done telling you about why it is such a good place to go and spend an afternoon well he has a kind of “Duh” look on his face – pointed in my direction – and he says pretty much what I just said to which I can only reply “right” and he says he was up there with his older sister Janice (12) and cousin Mark (nine) later in the afternoon yesterday, in fact they all caught hell for being late for dinner plus scaring the crap out of their parents who worry about their kids, especially their black kids, being out later in the day or pretty much anytime, and anyway they were messing around and hide and seek and all around the big mausoleum things and right overhead from like Walnut Creek and heading out toward Marin, a flying saucer flew right over and they all saw it,
And Richard says it looks just like the one I saw, and maybe, he wonders, could it be the same one?