King Riot

Excerpt from My Memoir


“Darkness dwells in all of us, waiting for justification to be released.

Have you ever seen yourself in the face of somebody you didn’t want to be? I did. In 1992 I saw it in the faces of the looters on TV the night four of LA’s finest were acquitted of tag-teaming Rodney King. In the name of social and racial injustice mayhem came down like hellfire on Sodom that encompassed many who didn’t care one way or the other about the verdict. Like them, I was sorely tempted to run down to Circuit City for a five-fingered new stereo along with thousands of other berserkers running amok in the fire glazed night. I saw my avarice and greed in the dancing maniacal eyes of the wolfish faced mob smashing and grabbing things they didn’t even really need just because they could. Madness is contagious. I wanted to run with the pack too. I could feel it in my bones like leukemia ravaging my white cells leaving me weak kneed with desire to put on my wolf suit like Max in Where the Wild Things Are. I’d sail down sunset ahead of the Billy-clubbed-blue-line marching shield-to-shield trying to reclaim their streets, in their town, with their righteous and vicious piety blossoming streaks of burgundy from busted skulls too slow to avoid them.

I saw myself on TV in the face of the diaper looting welfare mama and in the dancing eyes of the 18th Street banger busting out the plate glass of a pawn shop crumbling into shards on the littered walk of stars six blocks from my crib. I was the hands and feet of the grabbers and runners burning down South Central, lighting up Baldwin Hills in the freakish night while the oil rigs undulated on the spines of those ridges like standing hairs on a pit bull’s neck. I felt my pulse tune-in to the frenetic heartbeat of the enraged city rioting because nothing was the American Dream on the gridlock of interlocked inhumanity. The city cracked like King when he got the shit kicked outta him like Jiffy Pop. I saw myself in the mirror of my bathroom vanity trying to keep my sanity the night LA burned while Nero fiddled.

I was on a seesaw of vacillating desire to dance with the devils in the City of Angels. I cackled at the thought of Beverly Hills and Bel Air blossoming in flames and realized it would never happen cos they had the money and The Man gots the backs of the bucks no matter how you stack it. I could hear the command center at One Police Plaza saying, “Let the hood burn and get all available squads to mansion-ville pronto!”

“One-Adam-twelve, roger.”

I saw it in the faces of the tenants of my building as we gathered on the rooftop armed with guns and bottles ready to bust the heads of any motherfuckers thinking they might torch our building. The feral, seething histrionic organism of self-preservation prepared to fuck someone up if they fucked with us. Neighbors I didn’t know until that night bonded like coalescing cells into a lifeform borne of perceived need collectively crouching ready to repel intruders. Sooty smoke floated wraith-like from midnight embers of the sizzling basin – a cauldron of boiling oil in the pitch colored powered down dark.”





El Diablo Image

” I was on a seesaw of vacillating desire to dance with the devils in the City of Angels.”


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