Friday, March 07, 2008

All the news that fits the stereotype

Boy, this one is delicious. The New York Times wrote a fawning review and then an even more fawning profile of a book by a half Navaho/half white woman raised in a foster home on the mean streets of LA. She witnessed horrors, bought a burial plot when she sold her first drugs at age 13 and has now rehabbed herself to have a happy home life in bucolic Eugene, Oregon.

Except it was all bullshit. She actually was an upper middle class white chick who went to an elite private school in suburban LA. Her sister turned her in. and, oh yeah, the editor of her book is the daughter of an NYT senior reporter, a fact never mentioned in all these thousands of words of strokage.

If this all sounds amusing enough, wait until you read some of the actual writing.

From the profile:

The house smelled of black-eyed peas, which were stewing with pork neck bones — a dish from the repertory of her foster mother, known as “Big Mom,” whose shoe box of recipes she inherited.


Of course her foster mother was named Big Mom and she just happened to be stewing up some pork neck bones when the reporter for the NYT arrived. This is priceless stuff.

And then this:

Is Ms. Jones still a gang member? “If you make a choice to do it, it’s forever,” she said. “Once a Blood, always a Blood. Am I an active member? No.”

And finally this because it just keeps getting better:

“The first time my o. g. visited me here” — meaning original gangster, the gang’s leader — “he slept 20 hours straight. In L.A. your anxiety is so high you sleep three hours a night.”

That visitor, whom Rya calls Uncle Madd Ronald, is now in prison in California.


Uncle Madd Ronald! I wonder how he and Big Mom got along.

Seeing the writer lapping it all up, the fraud kept going:

She keeps up with gangland style, slang and people from her old life, many of whom are in jail. Until two and a half years ago, she said, she bred pit bulls and sold them locally and in Los Angeles, where red-nosed pit bulls are the favorite dog of Bloods, largely because of their reputedly aggressive nature.


And the review is just as funny. NYT chief critic Michiko Kakutani was as gullible as a guppy, writing

Ms. Jones… saw a gang elder named Kraziak, who’d patiently taught her about the history of L.A., gunned down by rival Crips. She saw her next-door neighbor Big Rodney, who used to give her books to read, grabbed by the police in a violent raid.

Both her older brothers, Terrell and Taye, were sent to prison, and after his release, Terrell, who’d talked of getting a straight job so his children wouldn’t grow up in the ’hood, was shot to death by Crips as he sat outside Big Mom’s house, waiting to meet his son for his weekend visit. Ms. Jones’s friend Marcus, a brother figure with whom she used to drive around Los Angeles, dreaming of what life might be like “beyond the lights” of the city, was shot and killed, she says, and her boyfriend, Slikk, was arrested for an attempted murder he didn’t commit.


And finally my favorite turn of phrase:

She finds love with, of all men, a Crip who “changed every detail of my life” and who taught her that “we are not each other’s enemies,” we “were just born into different streets and neighborhoods.”


Of all things a Crip!