Wednesday, August 17, 2016

More on Darryl McDaniels, coming to Boswell on Saturday, August 27, 7 pm, for "Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide."

I can't stop thinking about Darryl McDaniels and his book, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide. I picked up the book because he's coming to Boswell on Saturday, August 27, 7 pm (the event is free, but you must purchase a book to get in the signing line) but the book resonated with me in a number of different ways.

For one thing, Mr. McDaniels grew up only about five miles from me, in Hollis Queens. When I would very occasionally walk home from the subway train, would walk down Hillside Avenue, not really too far from his house. Some of the Black kids I went to school with lived in Hollis and nearby St. Albans. So while McDaniels himself went to Catholic school, I probably had classes with some of his neighbors - I'm a bit older than him, but not by much.

As a New Yorker who was still living in New York, when Run-D.M.C. broke out, songs like "Sucker M.C.'s" and "It's Like That" were ubiquitous on the radio, even if you weren't particularly focused on hip hop. I tended to listen all over the dial. You probably won't be surprised to find out in the early 1980s, I would continuously move the radio dial and count how many times I heard each song, and then tabulate the numbers each week, sitting at a folding card table in a studio apartment in Queens with a very good few of the famous Elmhurst tanks. I would call this the New York Radio Frequency Chart. I do wish I could find that folder with all the little charts I compiled. See, there were plenty of time sucks before the internet.

I've been trying to do some outreach to help the event along. Our friends at Cope Services has agreed to spread the word. Their helpline in Ozaukee County helps folks all over the Southeast Wisconsin area. I've lost folks to suicide over the years (including at least one coworker and more than one customer) and I know how important these hotlines can be.We also know that our friends at Community Advocates are on the case. Please check out the work of both these fine organizations.

After reading Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, I understood that adoption is also a cause near and dear to McDaniels' heart. His story about how he learned he was adopted and came to love both his his adopted and birth family is quite touching, almost as much as how he came to fall in love with Sarah McLachlan's Angel. I literally teared up, and I had to dig out my CD of Surfacing so I could play the song. My favorite Sarah McLachlan song continues to be "Possession."

Alas, I was more of a wimpy DC fan instead of Marvel, and even my Batman reading focused on the less dark stories of the late sixties and early seventies. I particularly liked the Legion of Super Heroes and the weirder the power, the better. Rest in peace, Ferro Lad, the boy who could sort of do nothing! And thank you Wikipedia for the story behind Ferro Lad, who was meant to be the first Black Legionnaire.

So thanks to Darryl McDaniels for writing this and appearing. And thanks to Darrell Dawsey, who helped McDaniels get the book written. And thanks to Amistad Press, who let us host a public event in conjunction with a private fundraiser Mr. McDaniels is doing in town. Thank you to Cope Services and Community Advocates to getting the word out. And if you come to our event on Saturday, August 27, 7 pm, I'll thank you too.

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