Hopeless Fountain Kingdom

Prologue

Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene

 

 

A Creature of Capitalism.

            That’s how Oliver would describe himself on Census forms. Not Black, not Hispanic, though technically both were honest answers. No, he’d scribble down his sentence-long identity with confidence, honesty, and most of all, pride.

            His latest garments, iconography that gave praise to the House of Tom Ford and the Altar of Givenchy, were painted on his body. It was his unofficial ticket into the soiree on the corner of 56th and North Dorchester. The type of party where coming early was an unofficial way of saying you knew you didn’t belong, and coming too late was your official way of saying you were well past your prime. That the best booze and the most illicit of cocaine, so graciously brought by the Master of Ceremonies, were no longer yours to indulge.

            As he rose to the top apartment in the rickety elevator, the type where you had to slide two panels of rusted metal to one side in order for it lock in place and grant accession, he shuddered.

            What a fate worse than death, being forgotten.

            Oliver used the reflection on his IPhone to check his gelled black hair. Most of the strands were out of place, in a wild, almost fluid way. Which was to say every strand was in fact, in place. He gave his hair one final run through before pocketing his phone, a half a second before the elevator wheezed to a halt.

            He didn’t open the double sliding iron heavy doors. Well, technically he did. Physically, at least, Oliver Santos’ fingerprints could be found on the elevator handle. But the moment Oliver stepped into the elevator—hell, the moment he donned his leather jacket, just twenty-six minutes ago, and snorted the line of cocaine on his bathroom sink--he became someone else. Someone he wasn’t sure he recognized.

            And he liked it that way.  

            Ignoring the flutter in his chest, he stepped into the open concept loft. Where glass bars, worth more than his mother’s rent, were adorned with oddly shaped bottles with strange colored liquids from far off countries. Music, that wasn’t American, with enticing beats that made him want to submit, throbbed to his very bones. It was a hypnotic atmosphere, a fishbowl of ambiguity and hedonism, where it was okay to forget oneself, and no dared to ask another what happened last night?

            It was why when his phone vibrated, he pulled it out. Oliver hesitated, for a brief moment, enough time to read the ten-character long message. Perhaps, in another life, in another time he would have answered. No, not perhaps. For certain. The Oliver he killed twenty-seven minutes ago, would have stopped everything to answer that text.

            This Oliver, was more interested in the arms that snuck up behind him, the sharp chin that rest against his shoulder, and the hot lips that pressed against his neck.

            “You came,” a slurred voice said.

            “I said I would,” Oliver responded, patting Beckett’s arm with ink serpent itched into it.

            “People say a lot of things. I could have met you somewhere, you know.”

            “And miss the chance to show off this jacket?”

            The three-inch taller man laughed, spinning Oliver around fluidly. Light colored, sun-kissed hair and skin to contrast Oliver’s darker features, faced him, along with the other kept the lazy smile plastered on Beckett’s lips.

            “You’re turning messy,” Oliver scolded, using his thumb to wipe the white specs from under Beckett’s nose and lick it off his fingers.

            “You like me messy,” Beckett retorted. “Come on, I’ve been waiting all day.”

            “And impatient, too,” Oliver muttered as he was tugged along to the hallway. His phone vibrated, and once again, Oliver considered responding to the text, now two minutes old.  

            But Beckett pulling him close, crashing their lips together, and transferring the taste of Jack and Coke between the two of them, distracted him.

            “Do a line with me. Please?”

            Oliver studied the Englishman’s features, as if that would help pull him from the undertow of Beckett Winter’s he was already being swallowed by.

            “Please?” Becket repeated. “I’m not here for long.”

            “Fine,” he sighed.

            His sister’s ‘I’m sorry.’ text would have to wait.

 

Why Cancelling Sense8 Matters: An Open Letter, From a So-so- Fan

Let me get this out of the way right now. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sense8.

It was a shaky (plot wise) show with a mountain full of loose ends, poorly crafted characters, and a story that fell into the lull of the focus being white savior complex because that was easy to market. The story started out with a strong start, had a sagging middle, and seemed to never get over that. The science fiction Netflix series opted to add more flash and bang, rather than help people understand the mythos behind the Sensates. No, I’m not talking about Nomi’s Where in The World in Carmen Sandiego like domestic escapades for the history of the Sensates. I’m talking about what the Sensates could and could not do. It was a show I watched the first season, with extreme excitement, and then the second because “why not?”.

To me, it never reached the potential it should have as a science fiction show. When the news of Sense8’s termination came out, my first response was; “knew it”. Honestly, I’m not surprised it was cancelled.

That doesn’t mean I’m not any less pissed.

Sense8 had something that no other show on TV, that was accessible to most people, had: diversity and representation. A person of color heavy cast, with multiple sexualities, a sex positive, pansexual positive undercurrent, and the driving message that ‘no matter who you are, you belong & have a purpose’, is what made Sense8 a spectacular show.

I’m a black gay man, who began writing novels because he could never see himself in books. I always had to adjust myself to fit the narrative; view things from a white, heterosexual lens, view things from a blonde white girl lens, etc. I’m sure not alone. Many marginalized authors started because of the need to see themselves in books. For many of us, Sense8 was the first, main-stream international way we saw ourselves in stories that were just about ‘sad marginalized people living with being sad and finding a way through life’. Sense8 allowed everyone, no matter who you are, to find yourself in the cast.

You’re a white guy? Check out Will. You’re questioning your gender? Nomi’s here to help. You’re a POC—or not—from an underrepresented area of the world? You can be as epic as Capheus. You feel, as a gay man, you’re stuck in a corner? Lito gets you and is here to help. You want to be something more—experience something more? Kala understands. You feel your family is out to get you? Sun’s got your back. And you’re just trying to find a way to survive, day by day? Wolfgang wants to have a drink with you.

Even the side characters had motive, agency, and drive that made them relatable and human. Every character was a person. Friend, foe, acquaintance, I felt like I was there with them—all over the world, and knew them. REALLY knew them. Even that damn DJing Riley had some maternal undertones & depths that gave her a unique space in the cluster and reminded us that sometimes—just existing and being there for people—is what makes you special.

Every person could find themselves in Sense8 and you can’t say that for every show. Sense8 was all about diversity in a sea of bland white boys and girls doing bland white boy and girls things in bland white town. How MANY stories like that can we have and praise as being ‘unique’ or ‘indie’? Trust me, I love indie films—that shit Netflix vomits out regularly isn’t indie. It’s SAFE.

So why was it cancelled? I have no fucking idea. Was it preforming exceptionally? No. But other shows, which have done worse, are still on. Was it perfectly written? Nope, but hey, 13 Reasons Why is still on. Was it repetitive? Yep. But we have ANOTHER season of Arrested Development coming out.

For whatever reason, Netflix decided this paradigm of diversity and inclusion was the right fat to cut. Same with The Get Down. Netflix saw these shows, with a diverse following, as expendable. For whatever secret, mustache twirling, capitalistic, villainous reason they had.   Most likely, to make way for another Adventure in Bland White World starting, Mary Sue and Gary Stu…but you didn’t hear that from me.

Let’s not ignore it was also cancelled on the first day of pride month. We see you, Netflix.

I’m not saying this is some attack on diversity and inclusion (-coughcough- it is—Fox cancelled Pitch too, another POC exceptional, unique and empowering drama), but what I’m saying is Sense8 did something no other Netflix show did so overtly. It made people, who were diverse, feel safe. It allowed us to dream, and it made us feel like our stories matter. How long will we have to wait for another POC driven show? How long will we have to wait for another Queer ensemble cast show? And DON’T GET ME STARTED ON HOW LONG WE’LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR BOTH IN ONE.

The answer? Forever.

Like a friend of mine said, was Sense8 perfect? No. Did it have flaws? Of course—many. Every show does. But the one saving grace it had was it made us all, no matter where we were from, who we were, or our backstories, feel like we can do anything. We can be heroes, we can be great, we can be loved, and we will find our home—sooner or later. Sense8’s storytelling did that.

So, even though I might not have loved the show, I thank you, Wachowskis, for making us part of your cluster. And for most of us, showing the world how kick ass people of color, and people across the sexual spectrum can be. And no matter what, even if the next show is cancelled--or the next ten shows one thing is for certain.

We'll survive. Together. 

Blog Entry 001: The call, the journey & the future.

Every author waits for the day they'll get 'that email'. The "Let's talk..." or "I'd like to discuss..." or some variation of it. And I'm no different. I wasn't sure when it was going to happen, but I knew it would happen. The whole, paying my dues BS.

That's a lie. More than once I thought it never would happen.

But February 28th, 2017, a day I was dreading because I'd have to live blog Cheetos Joint Sessions speech that evening, I got the email. And for me, it started with "I'd love to schedule a call..."

But, as many writers know--the journey in these blog posts is just as fun to read as the pay off, so let's start from the very beginning (A very good place to start) ...

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