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April 20, 2004

Three Questions

Go ahead. Ask me three questions. Any three you like. I'll answer.

(Yeah this was Baldilocks copy of DC's idea, but I like it.)

Posted by mbowen at April 20, 2004 12:01 PM

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1) Do you think should be more self-exploratory or more self-promotional?

2) Where did you grow up?

3) Lynn says you have a nice face. Beyond that, what inspired you to put your face at the top of your blog? Quite a few people do this; I'm more egotistical than you by a long shot, but I put mine further down the page, and it's an obscure shot, even though Lynn thinks I have a nice face too. (Hoping for an honest answer here.)

Posted by: joseph at April 20, 2004 08:58 PM

A1. I don't know if you meant "I" as the object of self-explorational or self-promotional or "one" as the object. Fortunately the answer is the same for both.

I think during adolescence one is naturally self-explorational and as one emerges with a fairly consistent sense of self, the activity should cease. That is because one can only teach oneself so much. As adults we should, if we seek true self-improvement (as we should), be more self-promotional. In that way we invite criticism, and if we are wise, we heed it.

Adults who are self-explorational become solopsistic. They start saying believing that they have come up with a perfect way to express their discoveries then justify all kinds of bizarre behavior by saying that they are only being true to themselves. But the person who subjects himself to the inevitable criticism which accompanies self-promotion ends up being true to his neighbor, which is profoundly more worthy of honor.

I made that up by myself. Deep huh?

A2. I grew up in 90016 in LA near Crenshaw and Jefferson. It was, and still is mostly, the 'hood. The 'hood is two steps above the Projects and one step above the Ghetto but also one step below the 'Burbs and two below the Hill. That particular 'hood is in close proximity to what had been for quite some time, among the most affluent black communities in the country. Of this fact, I was painfully and proudly aware from a fairly young age. My neighborhood was rough but not dangerous. Kids had fistfights in and after school, but there were no gangs who ruled and no fights with anything other than fists. People owned their own houses and mowed their own lawns, but some of us had Japanese gardners. 90016 is probably the only black and japanese neighborhood in the nation. The last whites moved out in about 68. We had every kind of tree. Oranges, lemons, walnuts, avocadoes, peaches, plums, chinaberry, jacaranda, sycamore, magnolias, palms. The street names were Buckingham, Somerset, Wellington, Victoria, Virginia. It was a very cool place to grow up. Most of the families that we knew were from Texas, except us. It was the old glorious 'hood. If you know the comedian Sinbad, everything about him is like the kid next door. We had our share of dysfunction, but unlike the ghetto, we played sports, we rode bikes, we were active and athletic. Kids worked on their cars. People grew their own greens in their gardens. We played street football, basketball and baseball, and any kid who couldn't swim was a punk. It was a good place to be for a long time, basically until the oldest of us went off to the military or to college. Then the young punk kids who didn't have any younger brothers and sisters took over (around 1982), then sherm and crack and the creation of the Bloods basically ripped the place up. People started putting on burglar bars, and people started getting shot. By 1986 it was a completely different place. Alien. Only the losers who had nowhere to go stayed around and it went downhill from there. I remember that as late as 1990 they still didn't have cable television over there. Today, there's a new generation and a lot more latinos in the area. It looks like it's more stable again, but it doesn't look nearly as nice as it used to. After the riots, there was a quiet comeback. Now there is better shopping in the area. It's a decent working class city neighborhood.

A3. To tell you the truth, I was copying off of Roger L. Simon. I looked at his blog and those folks who link to him like Michael J. Totten and I said that's how I want my blog to look. I made the logo button like Totten's in anticipation that people would link to my blog with a copy of the button (that never happened). I searched all over the web for a graffiti font that worked for that button. For the banner, I wanted to retain my goldish orange color (I started with Userland Radio) and I wanted my site to be instantly recognizeable as "Black man from Los Angeles talking". Furthermore, baldhead black man. I wanted my site to convey a 'man of the city' kind of attitude thus the typewriter-looking font for 'Cobb'. I ultimately decided on the smiling face although it was a very close with a one of me more serious face, but I'm not Bob Herbert. I consciously put my head on the right rather than the left. It's a recent picture and I still look just like that, except for most of the time when I'm wearing my glasses. Thanks for the compliment.

Posted by: Cobb at April 20, 2004 11:37 PM

Thanks for that, especially for letting it all rip and being thorough. By the way, I spent a good part of the evening putting together a "top ten blogs of LA" and put you on that list. It's not that I'm in a position to pick, but I do notice a thinning in the LA blogosphere of late, and I am hoping that it identifies more at a community level than it presently seems to. I see lots of subgroups but not many para-LAblogosphere groups.

All the best.

Posted by: joseph at April 21, 2004 12:07 AM

You played it safe on my blog (and have me curious about what you might ask that would warrant a slap..lol..and feel free to ask in email if you prefer), but I want to test the line a bit on yours:

1. What is it about multiculturalism that annoys you so?

2. Do you have the perception that white women with black men are airheads and basically clueless about racial issues?

3. Should I have asked these questions?

Posted by: Deb at April 21, 2004 05:29 PM

What is it about multiculturalism that annoys you so?
Everything that is wrong about multiculturalism was nailed by Ishmael Reed in 'Japanese by Spring'. But that doesn't mean I think it's wrong, I think it's applied wrong. What people call multicuturalism today is but a pale simalacrum. It was never really about raising the self-esteem of put upon people. It was about speaking multiple languages and understanding the relative strengths of doing so. But it is no surprise that PC is what it is. I call it the "Don't ask, don't tell version of multiculturalism". I detail the gripe here: http://www.mdcbowen.org/cobb/archives/001452.html

2. Do you have the perception that white women with black men are airheads and basically clueless about racial issues?
I think they're wonderfully subversive, unless they're ugly. I've never been with a white woman, and it never occured to me to put any effort into it until I proposed to my wife. It was like two weeks afterwards it hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh shit, I've never had sex with a white woman! I developed a very severe case of jungle fever which made it impossible to make any progress whatsoever. Every once in a while I get a relapse. But it's usually Elizabeth Shue that does it. I do regret shining on a couple women who had the hots for me in college. One was very much like 'Grace' on Hill Street Blues. She could have been Grace's daughter, a firey redhead with freckles and fairly awesome hips. The other was a stunning pale chick with icy blue eyes, a butch blonde crew cut and exquisite shoulders. She was a real brain too and sat next to the open sunny window in my psych class. Ah well... These days I know I could lose my mind over unpierced Seattle looking grunge chicks, you know with the black glasses, especially if she was jewish, smokes and is slightly neurotic. But really I have no experience so I can't tell you how clueless white women are or what black men do in such relationships. I don't find jungle fever a better or worse reason to be attracted to someone. There's marriage and there's everything else, who cares what happens with everything else? It's just human attraction.

3. Should I have asked these questions?
I don't see why not.

Posted by: Cobb at April 21, 2004 06:34 PM

Is the three questions still open?

Posted by: ej at April 28, 2004 02:12 AM

sure, why not?

Posted by: Cobb at April 28, 2004 07:17 AM