Sidelines and Sessions


No Turkeys

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 3:09 am

I had enough at the office. My dad made a roast. I kicked in mashed potatoes. My aunt brought green bean casserole and Dutch apple pie a la mode. Oh, and we all brought our appetites. A turducken would have been interesting, the obscenity of so much meat in my house notwithstanding.

I swear, my table gets more whitewashed every Thanksgiving – not a grain of rice to be seen anywhere, nor a drop of sambal. My dad decided to eat Serreno peppers with his food instead.

Strange how things work out. Chalk it up to time.



Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 8:29 am

I’m a very musical person. I hate saying that, since any jumped-up college kid with an iPod can say the same – and most do. Even if they just bandwagon bands (or if they do the ironic-hipster-reversal thing and start talking about bands nobody’s ever heard of – can’t stand that!) But that’s the door into a rant I don’t feel like going on right now. For know I’ll just repeat the words of a fellow saxophonist and DB staffer I respect – “so many music journalists aren’t musicians themselves, and it affects their work!” Imagine then, listeners!

But seriously, Consequently, specific kinds pull specific levers in my soul – the way smells or textures do for other people.

It’s been a very rough quarter, on a lot of levels, albeit a deeply satisfying one, my highkey (thanks for the word, Janelle!) stress and lowkey silence notwithstanding. Music soothes the savage beast, so I decided to let my fingers pull up a website at random as I write. It’s a college marching band. There’s just something about trumpeters pulling off high E’s that soothes my brain like a hot bath and a pint of Ben’N’Jerry’s Karamel Sutra. Nerdy as hell? Perhaps.

Social cachet aside, I feel like I’m eating my first substantial meal in weeks – my current choices have been fulfilling, but something about marching music makes me feel cozy, regardless of how I feel about high school or college or my reputation or church or the universe. Not uplifted – Selah’s got me there. Not empowered – Blue Scholars does that well enough. Just cozy. Unalienated. At home. Psychologically dressed-down.

It’s…unpretentious. Refreshing. A kind of “coming out,” to borrow from a friend and fellow blogger. The other parts of my identity that I occasionally play up or down – the writer/editor, the college student, the activist-theologian, the historian – all fall away, like clothes.

That’s not to say that I belong in the stands every Saturday – I don’t, for a lot of reasons. But hearing or playing the sort of stuff that does belong there simplifies my life, or at least takes me back to a time when my life was simpler – I knew who I loved and hated, I wasn’t worried about the entire universe, and I wasn’t paying for school.

I’m probably the only one who gets like this, but holler if you feel me.




Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 9:31 am

Where’s San Bernardino?”

If I had a dollar for everytime I said that, I’d buy my mom the Mercedes she always keeps singing about.

Where is it? Take the 405 south to the 10 East and drive 90 miles.

Take the 10 to the 215 and exit Waterman, turn left and drive to my place. Don’t hit the chick with the bruises and stroller and another baby on the way – she’s an old friend.

Don’t drive too fast going by the country club – there’s an elementary school there, and it’s the closest some of those kids will ever get to comfort.

You’ll know you’re there when you see the painted bridges saying “A City on the Move” in the middle of sprawling chaparral and sand. Oh, it’s on the move all right – you leave it or it leaves you, as it moves on to gated communities, Starbucks, and “historic districts.” Sound familiar?

Don’t linger too long in Redlands – cops’ll run you off the street if you’re too young, too dark, or too anything.

If you drive through late at night on weekends on the way to Vegas, tune into 99.1 and listen to the baby mamas dedicating songs to their guys who are “far away” in Chino or San Quentin.

I used to hate home. I got roughed up by the cops in high school because I looked shady. I got clowned on by teachers because I wasn’t so hot at math. To this day, I still don’t get how I got into UCLA. I guess I got lucky

I was just a small-town boy coming out here – a kid from a town nobody knew, who went to a church nobody knew, from a country nobody knew. Then I met y’all – children of nurses and postal workers and engineers and teachers, believers and doubters, charmers, beauties, and decievers, and I realized that you’re from San Bernardino, too.

You see, San Bernardino is everywhere. Anywhere kids grow up with big dreams and slim chances. Anywhere parents stay up sweating over bills in a haze of cigarette smoke and worry and try to hide it from their kids. Anywhere peopleĀ  say things are “fucked up” because they don’t know any other way to say it yet. Anywhere wealth lives cheek by jowl with hunger. No matter if you live by the country club or by the train station, everybody’s just one missed payment away from the soup kitchen – San B is where everybody prays, and doubts, and hopes.

Everybody’s from the same place – maybe it’s Carson, or Oakland, or San Diego – but we’re one people, riffing different variations of the same blues, of the same struggle, of the same hope.

So, where’re you from?

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