Music: Cuban Opera

Raquel Diaz was almost as colorful in dress as she was in attitude befitting her hometown of Miami.  (Her Puerto Rican family pronounced the English y sound as j, and when she’d been accepted to Yale the house erupted with exclamations of “Raquel is going to jail!  Raquel is going to JAIL!”; she struggled not to project undue symbolism onto the dialectical mishap.)  A dense tangle of long, reddish-brown, tightly curled hair burst from her scalp at all angles. She was the kind of person around whom you had to be careful about the opinions you expressed, because if she disagreed, she would let you know it.  She was like a beautiful tropical bird, all smooth placid feathers one moment, and the next a quick-striking chaos of talons and beak. She’d met Rob during the second or third night of college, when she found him stoned to the point of passing out while her friend, a beautiful future actress from Morocco named Lyric Benson, performed something like a belly dance above him. Raquel’s father, a Cuban opera singer and Santero, had stormed out of their home when she was six months old, following a fight with her mother.  He’d never returned. Her barrio upbringing had been rife with anxieties similar to those Rob had experienced with a single, poor, minority mother. Like Rob, she had controlled these stresses by excelling in sports and academics.  However, unlike Rob, Raquel was temperamental and unpredictable, and at Yale she found few socially acceptable means by which to vent her various frustrations. Increasingly as college wore on, she vented them to Rob, often in the boiler room two stories beneath the college’s ground floor, where they met to share a blunt after dinner a few nights a week. While the heavy machines around them pumped heat to a few hundred students above, she found in Rob Peace a strange blend of an older brother’s strength and a sister’s sensitivity that she’d never encountered before: someone with whom she could just chill and worry less about the tuition installments her mother might not be able to send, and exchange gripes about the people around them without judgment.  They were at Yale. They had “won.”  But they both learned the hard way that “winning” didn’t mean they wouldn’t encounter problems—problems that some herb and good company went a long way toward resolving.

(The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs, pages 156-157)

[flowers in vase, flowery dress:]
… The musical’s profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy.[1] The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical”, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a “Be-In” finale.[2]

[Her pose is suggestive of bondage, sadomasochism:]
“Pubes rule,” said the junior. “I think it’s weird for a woman to shave her whole body. You were never like that except before puberty, so why is that sexually attractive? Who wants to have sex with a prepubescent human?”
De Blasio wears short dreads pulled back into two pigtails. Thin metal bars pierce an eyebrow and an ear, and a lacy gold crescent hangs between her nostrils. Her cut-off heavy metal t-shirts often show off her most unique feature: armpit hair., July 5, 2017, 7:30am

July 5, 2017.  About Me.  I feel right now that the deception is too overwhelming.  It’s obvious that this work that I do is nonsense work, crazy woman work.  It is obvious that the stock market will never crash.  I am too depressed, too discouraged, to post any more information today. When I unplugged my computer cord, when I bent to take the cord out of the socket, a bell rang in my ear; a bell on the device in the hands of the guy sitting across from me. When I asked him what was the bell sound, he pretended to not understand what I asked.  I looked at his device, looks like he was watching a boxing match. I would throw in the towel, so to speak, but I cannot. A force, Jehovah’s spirit, drives me on.

I’m going to sit somewhere outside and read the book I am currently reading, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs.


WHEN JEFF HOBBS arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Rob’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980’s, with his father in jail and his mother barely scraping by as a cafeteria worker.  But Rob was a brilliant student, and everything was supposed to get easier when he was got to Yale.  But nothing got easier.  Rob carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, “fronting” at Yale and at home.

As Jeff pieces through Rob’s life story through his relationships—with his struggling mother, his incarcerated father, his teachers and friends and fellow drug dears—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace comes to encompass the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. Rob’s story is about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey—and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again.  It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all, the book is about the life and death of one brilliant man.

(The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs, page 408)

#Meet Brilliant

June 29, 2017