“A Bus Ride on Labrea” by Levy Lee Simon

–  Keeping it Real series #16

So, today I was waiting for the bus at LaBrea and Washington. Yes, I ride the bus in LA, sometimes. It’s the New Yorker in me. Anyway, as I approached the bus stop I saw four Black women, who I can only describe as being from the hood, and I’m trying to be political correct.  (I know my people when I see them because I’m from the same place, so to speak.) Three of them were way over weight wearing uncombed wigs and weaves, tight fitting jeans on one, and tight stretch pants on the other two. All three had bellies hanging out and over their stomachs with  stretch marks everywhere, front and back. The fourth one was a very attractive tall brown with wild braids and a killer body in a sundress that I could see through. Between them they had six kids with them all under the age of five. They were talking and cursing very loud about something that seemed very important to them.  

One of the heavies spotted my bone earring and screamed, “ I like that earring, handsome!” I smiled and said thank you. When the bus came two of the kids jumped in front of me without saying excuse me, or anything. The bus was packed but I managed to get a seat. Of course they found seats next to me, across from me and in front of me. I was surrounded. They talked at the top of their lungs to each other as if the other person was two blocks away with language that was laced with cursing, insults and threats. “Naw, Ima bust that MotherF ass …. , etc.” In a so-called lower toned conversation between two, I heard one tell the other about someone who’d been shot and killed, someone they both knew.  Everyone on the bus kept a straight face as they pretty much took us hostage with their loud abusive verbal assault on the ears. And people are constantly complaining about my language verbal and written.  

At one point the slim one, stood on her seat and grabbed the three year old sitting behind her.  If the bus would have made a sudden stop, it would not have been pretty.  She literally stood on her seat, reached behind her and picked the kid up. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. When she sat down she passed a black plastic bag across the aisle to the one sitting next to me. The woman opened the bag which contained an open pint of liqour.  She drank then passed the bottle, each taking healthy swigs. I almost forgot to mention that each of them had a black plastic bags filled with candy, potato chips, and sweet juice drinks, that they ate and shared with the little ones. 

At another point the slim one and I locked eyes. It was as if she was seeing me for the first time on the ride and was wondering why I was looking at her. At first, I could tell she was trying to intimidate me with those deep penetrating eyes but I just stared back.  I didn’t want to appear threatening or demeaning at all. In fact, I looked at her with extreme compassion. She would not look away and I would not look away. She stared back now as if she was trying to understand what was on my mind. Or maybe deep down inside she knew what was on my mind. I don’t know who broke the stare but suddenly we were at Wilshire Blvd. I figured they would get off there to head downtown LA and back to the hood. I knew they were not going to Hollywood, or the Valley. As they loudly got off the bus, I felt for all of them but mostly for those kids, who astonishingly were quite well behaved. They leaped off at Wilshire screaming as they did, and off they went. Someone on the bus yelled, “take care of those babies.” A dreadlocked  brother standing by the door looked at me and said, “Man we are in trouble.” I nodded my head, not in agreement but in acknowledgement.

The image of those women and those kids  will stick with me for a long, long time. I cannot understand how in 2012, why I was able to witness what I saw. Right there, right there was the devastating legacy of no education, no jobs, no family training, no consideration for others,  and no God. Do I really know all of this? No, but I know what I saw and  I didn’t see any indication of the aforementioned at all.  My heart felt flush.  I fear for the future of those kids, and I fear for the lives of those women. My heart goes out to them because I know they are in pain and have been through more than I can ever imagine. And, there is probably a long, long line of neglect, abuse, alcoholism, addiction and who knows what else.

I wish they had someone to talk to them who could reach them. But, I’m also sure they have had tons of social workers, and caseworkers and systematic correspondents who have tried. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not.  I’m babbling because I’m baffled.

 I wish someone could hold them in their arms and tell them life doesn’t have to be lived this way. I wish for someone who could tell them it’s going to be all right. But, off they went into the LA sunset, with their lives, unwise to these eyes. God bless. God bless. God bless, because only God can hold them and protect them, mothers and children. Mothers and children. May God protect and bless, the mothers and children.

Levy Lee Simon

Photo by L.K. Thayer

ADDENDUM 

On reflection, I cannot help but to recognize how blessed I am, and those of us who had people in our corner, parents, relatives, people in our lives that showed us the way. I was actually on my way home from a day of meetings about my making movies sitting at outdoor cafes and such. And, complaining about this and that … Sometimes, God just humbles me greatly. Levy Lee


“Suicide Is Just Not an Option …When the BS is Too Much” by Levy Lee Simon

Levy Lee Simon at Elderberries in Hollywood

I sit here in the quiet of my solitude,
silent in full awareness of my breath,
thoughts clear, mind on reflect,
understanding fully well who I am
a Black man, individual unto myself,
a unique creation of God by God,
fully charged.

Yet, I’m puzzled again and again
by those that try to identify me in terms of generality,
this black man, me.
Of deep brown skin tone, but I was born alone.
I am not a clone.

So why is it I hear constantly in my ear,
cries that a Black man should be feared.
the Black man this or that.
That nigger, this or that,
Always giving us crap…
busted by laws with all it’s flaws,
denied access to cabs, used in labs,
given looks that could kill,
racially profiled, unfair trails,
poor test scores, followed in stores,
low evaluations and low grades,
treated unfair, called spades
prisons and jails with no bails.
It’s hard because can’t get no job,
Can’t even  buy a house, without a spouse
Kicked to the pavement even with a down payment.

Make somebody say,
what’s the use… it’s like abuse.
Alcohol, drugs, becoming a thug.
Hatred and fear harbored inside the mind,
the only solution, a hit of something, or a bottle of wine.
Everybody can’t be an athlete or a Hip-Hop King,
Bread for entertainment to dance and sing.

Subjected to this…
You ain’t shit….  May as well quit.
You no good…. I wish you would.
I can do bad by myself, you ain’t got no wealth
Wasn’t going to amount to nothing, gimme something,
loser, abuser, liar, womanizer. Why try? Just lie.
Shiiiiiit. No hope, why not use dope.
Nobody’s there to dry my eyes,
to ease the pain inside,
the shame that can’t be denied.

To even the score, walk through the door,
Walk strong, like I belong.
Head up eyes straight ahead, not dead
Suicide is not an option.

Even when
our mothers didn’t get it,
when our sisters didn’t get it,
when our women don’t get it,
when nobody gets it but us.
Because we are up against,
News and movies that try to define who we are,
but far from the truth by far.
Killing me like I don’t need your help,
But, I’ll be damned if I kill myself.

Through a life time of situations,
and aggravations, suicide is not an option.
Let’s talk about revolutions, let’s talk about solutions.
Because suicide in not an option, when the BS is just too much.

Levy Lee Simon

Photo by L. K. Thayer

© 2010

“How Did We Get Here?” by Levy Lee Simon



I look around at today’s world and wonder how in the world did we get here?

Not to make myself seem old because I’m not old but I am old skool and there’s nothing wrong with that and that’s a fact.

I mean I grew up during a time when kids played outside and parents sat up late after putting dinner on the plate. When baseball, and basketball and football were an activity

not just a visual commodity or something you play on X Box 500, Madden or whatever the video game’s name’s name is. I grew up in a time where boys and girls squared off in the middle of the street when there was a beef, no guns or AKs like there are today. The best person won, you shook hands and had fun.

I mean how did we get here, after Martin and Malcolm and Huey and Bobby and H.Rap Brown and James Brown, and Attica and JFK and RK and all those that died in Viet Nam for Uncle Sam. How did we get here?

After promises of a better world, those that died, those that got fried, those that went into exile to hide, because they wanted to expose the truth. The truth that was suppose to set us free, you and me. So how did we get here?

In 2010 when we were suppose to win, with a Black President who said all the right things like it’s about change and yes we can…. can I get an Amen, elected by blacks whites, yellows and browns by a people tired of the same old sounds. It was an event a Black man is president. Yes we can! Yes we can, make a America a vision of divine destiny that can’t be denied by American historical shame called pride, yes we can turn the economy around that’s going down betrayed by needy greedy parasites of the right. And a war that’s not ours to fight.  We got a president that’s Black, now you know they were going to react. If you didn’t you got it twisted because here they come, dumb diddy dumb.

Where progress seems to have stopped and we have lost a lot, where racism and sexism and homophobism are back in style and suicide seems like the only way out for some because it stinks that bad and hurts that hard and grips that tight, like it’s not going to let go so there is only one way out.  How did we get here?

Where young kids are still being murdered on the inner cities streets by cops and by their own, who don’t know any better because they don’t know their own history, as they walk down the streets like the streets they own, their turf full of hurt, self hatred dripping from the very skin that they can’t stand to be in.

How did we get here… where marching on Washington is like a new hobby for uneducated racist hooligans, marching in the name of the American flag when it’s the America flag they are desecrating by their very own presence, and you ask them why and they tell you to your face that the president is a Muslim, like there’s something wrong with that even though it’s far from a fact.  How did we get here? Maybe take a look at eight years of a burning Bush.

How did we get here? Where it’s OK for blue bloodied Americans to disrespect the President on National TV and for others to threaten his life as if it’s all right. Funny in all my years, a decade and almost four score, I never saw or heard that before.

And some people actually thought we’d progressed to a post-racial America. LOL Laughing out loud. Is FOX TV still in America?  Can you take the spots off of a leopard? I know they are working on it, I mean they crossed a Tiger and Lion to make a 9000 pound beast called a Liger. Watch out something’s coming, next summer at a movie theatre near you.

How did we get here? A Tea Party that’s neither in Boston nor in England but maybe in your neighbor’s back yard at three. How did we get here, where people are seriously considering Sarah Palin for president, Sarah Palin is a national security threat, press eject. And that voice, come on guys forget president, could you imagine hearing that voice in the morning or at the height of sexual expression. There goes my erection.

I mean what happened to a time when people passionately fought for their rights and weren’t suckered into being scared or living in fear. We used to be a fearless country that marched in spite of all odds…. I mean we faced dogs and hoses, and red necks, and ropes, lynchings, the KKK, the national guard, the threat of communism, murder and assassination . And we stood strong and looked anybody in the eye and demanded to be heard, to be acknowledged because we were tired of the bullshit and we were real Americans godamnit.

So how did we get here, where everything seems to be so petty?  Where politicians spend millions to call each other names on TV? Aren’t we in a recession? I mean millions being spent to elect who? What? Why? Damn a commercial, I need a job. You selfish, self seeking mother .. no you can’t have my vote!

News flash.. they just got the house back… deal with that.

How did we get here? But we are here. The question I should ask next is, how do we get out?

Levy Lee Simon

© 2010