Wednesday, February 5, 2014


"Where I live in East Baltimore, everything looks like 'The Wire' and nobody cares what a selfie is"

At Salon, here's the beginning of a killer essay by D. Watkins called "Too Poor for Pop Culture":

Miss Sheryl, Dontay, Bucket-Head and I compiled our loose change for a fifth of vodka. I’m the only driver, so I went to get it. On the way back I laughed at the local radio stations going on and on and on, still buzzing about Obama taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Who cares?

[...] Two taps on the door, it opened and the gang was all there — four disenfranchised African-Americans posted up in a 9 x 11 prison-size tenement, one of those spots where you enter the front door, take a half-step and land in the yard. I call us disenfranchised, because Obama’s selfie with some random lady or the whole selfie movement in general is more important than us and the conditions where we dwell.

Watkins backs up and explains:

My equation for survival is teaching at three colleges, substituting, freelance Web designing, freelance graphic designing, rap video director, wedding photographer and tutor —  the proceeds from all of these are swallowed by my mortgage, cigarettes, rail vodka and Ramen noodles. I used to eat only free-range organic shit, I used to live in Whole Foods, I used to drink top shelf — I used to be able to afford pop culture.

But long gone are the days when I pumped crack into the very neighborhood where we hold our card game.


4 Comments / Post A Comment


Well, he could probably afford a cell phone and take selfies if he stopped buying cigarettes!!

*Obviously being sarcastic here.


Really, really great! Loved it!@l


Well, at least it looks like he's on the 8 bus line. (Baltimore transit humor, everybody!) My life in this town is very different from the writer's, but I relate to the picture he paints of a lot of people struggling hard for not much, but still finding their pleasure where they can.


This was kind of beautiful and heartbreaking. But then I read Sean Wilson's comment, which seems to have been removed in the 5 minutes since I read it? He claims to know the author and suggests that he owned two Lexuses and two iPhones (?) as recently as 2013, and is a regular at local pubs where he always orders premium vodka.

I never know who to trust when I read comments like that. They make me sad. I want to believe people are genuine.

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