a thousand words

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bill Cosby and the Mysteries of Jell-O

"When a product is perfectly matched to its seller, you cannot tell which thing you are being sold." - Anonymous.

Jell-O was always a mystery to me growing up. What held it together? Why did it wiggle and how come other foods were not nearly as shiny and fun.

Well, Bill Cosby's recent scandal forced me to not only deal with the nightmarish revelations of over 50 women, it also caused me to finally find out what the hell Jell-O is.

Jell-O is gelatin and gelatin is: animal bones and skin ground up, treated with acid, then boiled. The top layer of gelatin is skimmed off the surface. Flavored and colored water fills in the spaces between the polymer chains and in that state, making it jiggly, shiny, fun and desirable.

But if you heat the Jell-O, you break the bonds that hold the proteins together and it becomes what it once was: dead meat.

Bill Cosby's scandal is literally like heating Jell-O. It has broken the bonds holding together his image and turned his legacy into skin and bone because no matter how we celebrate Cosby's life and career after he's gone, there will inevitably be a discussion of this scandal, which makes his whole life's work look like a dead carcass.

The accusations of over 50 women casts a spell on the life and work of Bill Cosby and forces the imagination to recast him in our memories: 

Chet Kincaid, the impossibly positive and helpful physical education teacher of the first Bill Cosby Show, can now be seen lusting after young school girls and cute teachers in that Los Angeles high school, spiking their milk cartons in the lunch room and their coffees in the teacher's lounge and doing unspeakable things in the janitor's closet.

Alexander Scott the intrepid tennis pro of I Spy is fighting the cold war, but also date raping women across Europe, leaving dazed and confused heiresses and the occasional countess in hotel rooms, groggy and unable to remember what happened to them.

And of course, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable is not just a dad and physician, but a skillful predator who uses that cover to assault women throughout New York in his OBGYN office, while raising his kids with jokes.

And in reality, we had Bill Cosby the man, the lovable, intelligent icon, a man who stood tall from the oppression of Jim Crow and rode the new racial enlightenment as an example of hard work, talent and perseverance. And now we are told that all during that glorious journey, he was drugging and raping women, in a constant pattern and in numbers that were consistent with his famous work ethic. If Bill Cosby was a brilliant entertainer, athlete and scholar, why would he be any less talented as a predator?

And while this is still technically an allegation, the volume of the evidence against him has stifled all doubt. But this notion should not totally surprise us because wasn't there always something just a little creepy about Jell-O? I mean, it moved like it was alive and then you ate it while it was still shaking on your spoon. Not cool, man, as Chet Kincaid might say.

I do not know how the Bill Cosby story will end, but I am sure it will not be good. And for years after he's gone, people will argue whether he was evil or the victim of an incredible and terrible conspiracy. The latter seems very unlikely and the former will probably never be conclusively proven to everyone's satisfaction.

But one thing is sure for all of us now. 

Jell-O is no longer a mystery.

And neither is Bill Cosby. 

copyright 2015.

Friday, February 13, 2015

THE PARABLE OF THE WORTHY HEART

God called Michael and Gabriel to him for they had been arguing about Man and Love again.

“Humans do not deserve Love,” said Gabriel. “They are weak and will squander it on carnal waste and sin.”

“Love cannot be quantified,” said Michael. “It is spirit and so is its own reward to cherish or to lose.”

And so God made them both mortal and endowed them with pure loving hearts and sent them to earth to live for a year to prove their arguments.

And God said: “Bring back your hearts to me in a year's time and I shall decide which is the more worthy.”

And so Michael and Gabriel went to earth. Gabriel lived as a pious soul, shunned sin and pleasure and used his heart only to worship God and caution men to be good. Michael engaged people and life, found and lost love, was taken advantage of and cast asunder by the vagaries of man but he endured.

In a year, they returned to God who bid them to remove their hearts to see.

Gabriel took out his heart and the light was blinding. Bright as a hundred suns, it was so good and pure that it floated on currents of air.

Michael removed his heart and it filled his hands in dim pieces, each one telling a tale of use, love loss or triumph. It was broken you see and could not be whole again.

“Who is right?” asked Gabriel. “Surely, my heart is the more beautiful.”

“But mine has been useful,” said Michael. “And isn’t that what a heart is made for?”

And God said: “You Gabriel held grace but your heart remains unworthy because you feared using it. Michael's heart though damaged, was sacrificed for the cause of life so freely given but always in My Service.”

“But how can this be?” asked Gabriel with shock. "How does a man attain Your Grace when he must fall to achieve it?”


And God said: “Man's heart is a seed which grows the Tree Of Life which in turn produces the fruit of his eternal soul. If the tree does not struggle to grow, then it bears no fruit and the seed, the miracle, is wasted. So thus, The Worthy Heart is given in Grace but earned by Love.”



Copyright Gary Hardwick 2015






Monday, February 2, 2015

Interstellar Civil Rights and the Gravity of Slaves: Another Conversation

This is the continuation of a real conversation with a friend (who still will not let me use their name) about cinema and the relative position of our people. As usual, the conversation may not have been this witty but it's how I remember it.

Again, we met at the Starbucks in No Ho.

FRIEND: I hate you.

GARY: For what? I haven't even made a condescending remark yet.

FRIEND: You messed up my brain.

GARY: You can't give me set ups like that. Too easy. So, what did I allegedly do now?

FRIEND: You made your evil analogy about the movie Gravity and 12 Years a slave and how black folk are stuck in some kind of cinematic time machine while everyone else gets to be fully human. blah, blah blah

GARY: I believe I actually made a temporal analogy to the future versus the past and--

FRIEND: Whatever.  I went to see Interstellar and they showed a trailer for Selma. 

GARY: Oh. Well, that would be more of the same, actually.

FRIEND: I know! I thought, shit, how many civil rights movies are we gonna do? And then I sat and watched three hours of white people traveling through the fifth goddamned dimension.

GARY: Well, good.

FRIEND: No, it's not. I couldn't enjoy the movie and now I'm feeling some kinda way about Selma.

GARY: See, how dangerous thinking is?

FRIEND: Black men are getting killed, police are getting away with murder, the President is being insulted, there's protest and I'm supposed to go sit and watch two hours of historical pain?

GARY: Maybe we need a lesson, to be reminded what this is all about.

FRIENDS: No, I don't. I know my history and it's humanity that's missing, the same humanity that we don't see in the movies.

GARY: What about Beyond The Lights and Top Five? They're both good movies they depict us fine and they are not historical pieces.

FRIEND: Not Oscar movies.

GARY: Man, you have come a long way. Look, just go see Selma. It's worth seeing.

FRIEND: I did see and it was good but where is our space movie? Where are we counted for in the future? No, something is wrong.

GARY: There was a black scientist in Interstellar.

FRIEND: They killed him and at the end of the movie, there were no black people in the fifth dimension future.

GARY: Well, I have nothing left to teach you, grasshopper.

FRIEND: What?

GARY: Nevermind.