Letters from the Soul Numbers 7 and 8

Bruce S. Reilly's New Jack's Guide to the Big House

Bruce S. Reilly’s New Jack’s Guide to the Big House

The holidays are a good time to recall shared journeys in one’s life and therefore also a good time to resume the presentation of Visionary Vibes, Letters from the Soul here at Red Room. If you missed the last installment of Letters from the Soul Number 6 please click this link or to start at the beginning click here .  Also, I perhaps should point out that the language gets a bit rough in places so please consider these rated PG-13. Letters number 7 and 8 start now: 




My Brotha:

Bangin out a few letters.  See, first I wanted to read the Baldwin (considering yours and CG’s reviews) and your poem before writing.  The book was most happenin’ – the debate with Schulberg in 1964-65… I had the same one just a year ago!  It’s actually kind of scary that I can read anything written in the 60s and feel like it’s in synch with an essay I wrote a year ago, even a month ago.  Does nothing change?!  Today I read this comment by a Jewish (Israeli) actress portraying the chick in Arabian Nights: "I’m of the generation that doesn’t care, about all the hating and culture-domination."  Word!

I think a strong indicator of America’s long-term future will be who gets the jobs when all the Baby Boomers retire.  Women?  Blacks?  Hispanics?  Asians?  Such is when we can see if the hippies and radicals tapped the public consciousness or what.  The Bill Clintons and Jimmy Baldwins had to invent themselves but what values have they instilled upon their children?

It’s tough to say if I’m getting "better" at art.  I noticed that about every 18 months I’ll go ‘Whoa! That’s the best shit I ever done!’  I know I can get better though.  What’s a little depressing is this Baldwin portrait [I’m sending you] looks eerily similar to a Mandela I did back in high school (I was both offended and proud that a few people thought I’d pasted a photo of Mandela on an ANC background flag I colored).  Did I ever tell you I keep a picture of Kerouac on my desk for the past four years or so? It’s a Ginsburg photo 1953 NYC with a "Brahman’s Manuel in pocket" – on a fire escape, puffin’ a butt.

Jack Kerouac photo by fellow Beat writer Allen Ginsberg.

CG got all pissed because I stated my diatribe on women having more opportunity than men (leaching, selling their sexuality, just as many dead end jobs…) and used the prison’s and unemployment office’s male/female ratios in my defense – she’s all mad.

The art show is May 15 to June 15; if a perfect world exists, I’l pull about $600!  I’m gonna take off about now.  Keep Shizining!  Felicidad Cinco De Mayo!  Arriba!!




Brother Bruce–

Peace.  Much gratitude for the totally beautiful portrait of James Baldwin.  It arrived on the same day that I finished writing chapter 5 of my novel and I took it as a sign that I was making some decent headway and the great griot Baldwin was blowing a smoke ring or two from the other side to say, "Shit baby, you kickin’ it like I used to.  Don’t even think about quitting.  Slam those keys like you know what’s best for your grown-up black man ass because in fact you do."  That made my day very good indeed.  Needless to say, I’m glad you got the books.  I was doubly surprised when I saw the Baldwin tribute staring at me from the biography section of The Book Lady used bookstore downtown. 

The picture of Bob Marley and your other works were also fantastic.  I hope they generate both big interest and big cash during the show.  I saw Bob Marley at the Oakland Colliseum in California way back around 1980 and your portrait of him moved me with the same force of Rastaman Vibrations that hit me that night.  About a month ago, for whatever odd reason, I dreamed I was sitting down talking with Ziggy Marley and telling him about the night I saw his dad in Oakland

I don’t think we’ve ever discussed Kerouac or the Beats before but for some reason I’ve always sensed an affinity between you and him.  It was my desire last Christmas to send you a paperback edition of SOME OF THE DHARMA but I couldn’t get the packaging right for mailing.  Co-workers gave me a hardback edition a couple years back and it’s probably the purest record we have of who and what Kerouac knew himself to be in partnership with the universe.  From what I know of his life through my readings and meditations, Kerouac was a man who never completely healed the scar of losing a brother who died under profoundly mystical circumstances and who spent the rest of his life trying to replace him by embracing all people and things as his brother.  I believe in his heart he was sincere.  His effort was an intensely noble one because he inherited and at times exhibited quite a bit of racist baggage but through soul vision reached and lived beyond such limitations.  I believe he was both the holy fool and the universal brother of which he sang.  And I believe his country and his peers and his family failed him horribly.  As a people, Americans rarely know what to do with true beauty because we so often fail to recognize it for what it is; instead of cherishing it with our love we find endless ways to destroy it with our ignorance. 

Well now, about you and CG.  Hmmm.   I imagine she did get "all pissed at your diatribe on women having more opportunity than men".  Sorry dude, but despite your pinpoint analyses, most women will tell you to flush that shit down the toilet because they’re the ones being made to wade through it on a daily basis.  I believe it’s true that they have the greater "opportunity" of which you wrote but most don’t get the chance to cash in on those opportunities because the power structure at any level on which you care to look at it (individual homes excepted) is still dick-controlled (please excuse my crudeness but every now and then my ghetto likes to get out).  My last supervisor was a woman who did the same job as the man before her but got paid something like $10,000 less, though by all accounts she was much more effective. 

In San Francisco, I was seriously put on the spot when an employer offered me a job as an editor while I was a college senior but refused to extend that same offer to his receptionist, a woman who had just gotten her degree in journalism.  I wanted very badly to refuse the job out of protest and a sense of solidarity (you might or might not believe how radical I was in those days) but I had about 50 cents in my pocket, owed two months back rent at the YMCA Hotel and was hungry like a motherf*cka.  As it turned out, the young woman thanked me for my concern but decided her star was waiting for her elsewhere.

Peace dude.  Thank you again for the Baldwin portrait.  May his spirit of eloquence bless your pen with grace and insight and the power to guide toward light those minds blind to their own truth and beauty.  


Aberjhani                                                                                    (5/22/00)



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