“When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy—that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.”—Mark Twain
Since you mentioned the prison system, I would recommend No More Prisons by William Upskii Wimsatt. Growing up in a big prison infrastructure state like Illinois and seeing friends and family members in the system and a part of it, this cemented most of my current views. His other works(Bomb the Suburbs and [Please Don’t] Bomb the Suburbs) are great, but not without some historical context.
Anything about Lenny Bruce is great. The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of American Icon is a monster, but well worth the read on probably the most influential comic ever. Hell, I started performing a poetry piece based on that read alone.
Hip Hop America by Nelson George is an interesting history piece with reference to the influence of basketball, “five percenters”, sampling, and the highlights of the culture. Nelson George has a great perspective on it all.
There’s so much… I’m currently reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn at the behest of a friend.
as far as film is concerned: I just watched Crooklyn again. It’s a really great story with a great soundtrack(as always with Spike Lee). I love documentaries and The Devil Came On Horseback, We Live In Public, Dear Zachary, The King of Kong, and Gonzo are some favorites I’ve recently watched. Aside from that, it’s been leone/kurosawa films and horror/monster/b movies for me. I’m about ready for Halloween…
How'd you come to choose the username americanjinn
Excellent question. I will try not to be too long-winded. AmericanJinn comes from my blog title, Chronicles of American Jinn. That, in turn, was influenced by One Thousand and One Nights and the 72nd and 34th Surah. I’ve always had a love and fascination with folklore, supernatural, and religious works.
Jinn(“Genies” for western folks) always intrigued me because of their class in the supernatural world; they’re not regarded entirely as devils or demons in some cases and they’re certainly not angels(in my finite understanding). They also have free will(despite Solomon), which is unique. They hide just beneath the surface in the mundanity of life with the same predilections of humanity.
In my personal artistic expressions(mostly writing) they often symbolize an untapped level of human consciousness in our capacity for good or ill with as little orientalist notions(a la Francis Burton) as possible.
So, I am cutting up some strawberries for the boys as a snack. I tell my two year old “to finish the food on his tray and I’ll give him some”. Moments later I see him stuffing food down the sides of his seat and trying to feed the cat. He looks up at me, cocks his eyebrow, and smiles… He makes it hard to contain laughter sometimes.