Friday, September 23, 2011

Video of Barry Michael Cooper Moderating The Planet Rock Doc Panel @ The Paley Center 12 September 2011

from left to right: Melle Mel, Martin Torgoff, Richard Lowe, Nelson George, Azie Faison, Ice T, Barry Michael Cooper-photo credit: Paley Center

By Barry Michael Cooper

Last Monday (12 September 2011), I was blessed to moderate the panel for the screening for VH1's groundbreaking documentary on the history of crack cocaine in America, "Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation."
Barry Michael Cooper-photo credit: S. Mack/Wireimage
Narrated and executive produced by actor, emcee, and burgeoning media mogul Ice T, and produced by Martin Torgoff and Richard Lowe, "Planet Rock," is an unflinching and in depth examination of the crack cocaine epidemic in America during the 1980s, and the sweeping, cataclysmic effect it had on politics, economics, culture, and society as a whole. I was also honored to be a participant (and unofficial consultant) on the VH1 "Planet Rock" documentary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Xcrpt From The "New Jack City Eats Its Young" Anthology

The Carter Era--not Jigga or Weezy's, but Jimmy C.'s--was a prodigious time for us Mountaintop Children. The Mountaintop Children (or Black Boomers, if you will) are that progeny--primarily African-American--born at the rise of the Civil Rights movement; children of cultural privilege and promise, hoisted onto the shoulders of history by ancestors who struggled, bled, and died to make this One-Nation-Under-GOD-Indivisible-With-Liberty-And-Justice-For-All-America, a level playing field.

Even in the "imaginarium" of television, Black people had visions of a better life. Florida Evans and her familia of J.J., Michael, and a married Thelma were no longer scratchin' and survivin', and finally moved out of the Cabrini-Green Houses in Chicago. George and Louise Jefferson were the proprietors of a chain of successful dry cleaners, that allowed them to move on up and live among the wealthy on the Upper East Side of New York City.

But the good times were cut short by the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, which ushered in a former actor, laundry detergent shill, and poster boy for the Republican Ruling Class, by the name of Ronald Wilson Reagan. The Reagan Ideal was a get-one-for-The-Gipper return to an America the RRC was more comfortable with; white, Republican, racist, repressively transgressive, remunerated, and removed. Removed from the plight of the poor (Black and White folks, too), the blight of minorities, and the financial apoplexy of the middle class. The Reaganites were a coterie who took their White Parties on Sutton Place and in Santa Barbara, literally and seriously. This was an America the Reaganites saw as the dawning of a new day for old prejudices wrapped in a new ideology. President Reagan called it, "Morning in America."

However, for many others, that "Morning" became their own personal Mourning in America, and crack was the assassin. Crack was the explosion that shook fear into the Black Boomers and began to turn the purpose of the Mountaintop Children into an avalanche of nightmarish apathy. In the African-American community, crack was a dream-killer, a bank (and drug proceeds) builder, a cradle-robber, and prison-stocker, and a tomb-filler. Crack was the circuit-breaker in the psychic fuse-box of African-American advancement. Crack re-wired the descendants of the Motherland, reprogramming them into the 20th Century slaves of a new pharm-land, where the cash crops of cooked cocaine had been reaped from the infertility of their very own hopes and dreams...

My debut anthology of street journalism from the 1980s (and more current essays), "Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1: New Jack City Eats Its Young," is now available on Kindle/Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon site.