Book review and art inspired by ‘This Bright Future: A Memoir’

Movie poster inspired by This Bright Future.
Made while I listened to the book.

I found this memoir after looking at the NYT Bestsellers list. I went into it not knowing who Bobby Hall aka Young Sinatra aka Bobby Tarantino aka Sir Robert was. But I had heard of Logic, who rapped on Sam Smith track I liked a few years back. I remember thinking “wow, he really elevated that song”. But that was it. As much as I was into hip hop and rap growing up in the Bronx, that doesn’t remain true today. I fell out of step with it because of all the auto-tuning that turned my stomach and hurt my ears. Before I moved out of the borough, the only radio station anyone listened to was Hot 97. Now that I don’t, it’s mostly classical, rock, and experimental. As for rap, I listen to the same people I did as a child: Biggie, Tupac, Dr. Dre, Snoop, The Fugees, Method Man, Salt n’ Pepa, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, Nas, DMX (RIP), and Eminem. I don’t watch MTV, BET, or listen to the radio. Life changes you, and my patience for shows that were designed to bring down artists was depleted which meant I wasn’t hearing new music. Once I was in Bronx Science, my focus shifted. Not to say that happens to everyone who goes to nerd schools, but it did for me. I discovered other types of interests and music, and realized I loved classical because I could actually play it.

So, my reasons for not knowing Bobby Hall were because of me, not because he’s not talented, which he absolutely is. I legit thought he was a British rapper because he was on that Smith track. How wrong I was. He is the very definition of a red-blooded ‘Merican. Mixed race. From Maryland. Inspired by pop culture. Eats Taco Bell. Now that I’ve read his memoir and heard his music, I’m reminded of those rappers I loved so much that were able to spit a verse without all the garbage filtered in the track. What a breath of fresh air. Good music is good music, and he makes it.

I’ll be blunt. This Bright Future is a masterpiece. This will be made into a movie, no question. A modern coming of age story, it was like Catcher in the Rye with music, witches, sex, and a big splash of crack. At its core, this memoir is about a kind and overlooked soul who, through pure grit and determination, navigated to an existence where he is now safe, loved, and counted. Raised in poverty with a mentally ill, alcoholic, PCP-using white mother, an absent drug-addicted black father, and a system that failed him, This Bright Future is the quintessential success story of an outcast named Bobby Hall. What’s scary is that the childhood Hall had is not unique. Yes, the specific situations he was put in may be, but child abuse like this is prevalent. I’ve been that person whose had to carry a child away from their screaming drug addicted parents. I hate it. I see it a lot, and it’s awful and traumatic every time. What is special is that Bobby Hall didn’t become what raised him. Instead, he became Logic. There are kids living in horrific conditions they don’t realize are horrific, so they repeat the cycle. Despite the chaos and having the odds stacked against him, the same is not true for Hall, which can show a hopeless kid struggling today that they can do the same. Hard work, courage, perseverance, the kindness of others, and a good sense of humor helped Hall carve a path to what he was meant to do and be where he was meant to be. Because our boy can rap, write, create, and uplift. And how lucky we are to be able to live and see this. How tiring it is to see people born with a silver spoon just make it in the industry so they can have gold ones. So many people work hard and are never acknowledged for it, and it’s nice to see it happen for once to someone who came from humble beginnings.

As tragic as this memoir was, I would be lying if I didn’t say it was also hilarious. Especially the chapter about his mother’s religiosity. I was literally laughing out loud in public. Hall’s stories about his parents, siblings, acquaintances are all shared with a care and sensitivity that demonstrates how much he doesn’t want to hurt anyone by disclosing to us how much they hurt him. This is an inherently good person who has empathy even for those who don’t appreciate or deserve it. As a result of his upbringing and his ability to withstand so much abuse by having hope, and yes, a logical outlook, the dust settled and what emerged from the wreckage was PTSD and anxiety. You can’t blame him. So, if you struggle too, you will absolutely feel a connection to this story. And know that it’ll be okay.

Speaking of which, Hall points out several times that fans tell him how much they mean to him because they share commonalities. I now join that group by saying there were times I literally said out loud “Wtf, yes, I feel that”. Besides loving Kill Bill, our life circumstances were very similar. Examples: Not being accepted because you are mixed. Literally being asked “What are you?” is something I’ve put up with my whole life. “You aren’t black enough, you aren’t white enough, you aren’t spanish enough, how come you sound so white, how come you don’t sound like Rosie Perez, why are you so pale, why is your hair so frizzy? Do you date white or black men? Why?” Yeah. It’s so much fun.

On a personal note, I have a mentally ill black mother and a temperamental Puerto Rican father. My mother is literally crazy and is becoming a nun. Yeah. I’ve cut her off after a childhood of manipulation, degradation, neglect, and abuse. It’s been years since I’ve seen or spoken to her. How I long to have a mother I could just talk to. But like Bobby Hall, I don’t have that kind of family dynamic. And as hard it is for him to say that he doesn’t have a real family, I’m glad he did. Because people like us exist, and it hurts. And so we have to make our own families. I think the valuable lesson Hall tells is that when you become a parent it doesn’t come with a license that says you can abuse your child and expect your child to let you get away with it. To the people who say “but she’s your mother” to him, understand that cutting your own parent off is not easy, and there are reasons they don’t deserve to be in a survivor’s life. And you questioning that decision crosses a line and only makes it worse. We all know parenting is hard, even when you don’t struggle with illness and addiction. We don’t get to choose our parents, but we do get to choose boundaries so that we aren’t destroyed by them.

I liked how Hall also discussed the impact that social media has had on all of us, and how we connect and treat writers, artists, or just everyday people because we are given a virtual safety net. The internet helped make him, but it also made him a target. I was angry to hear about all the abuse he got from online trolls, how people laughed at his pain when he was physically ill, or spewed venom about him because of a VMA performance. I haven’t watched any of that MTV nonsense since Britney danced in a sheer suit on stage (which was awesome, you do you Britney). I don’t even know how long ago that was, but I do know that no awards show should lead to the type of vitriol artists experience, which means there’s an issue with the entertainment culture that only encourages it. And if you are guilty of such online abuse, you need to reconsider your words and think about the energy you’re wasting.

If you haven’t guessed it, I’m giving this five stars. I don’t think anything else I say could do this justice, so I’ll stop. Also, I don’t want to ruin anything for you because part of what’s so great about the book are the crazy stories you don’t see coming that knock you on your ass.

Dream Cast: 🎥

Bobby Hall: Bobby Hall. And if he doesn’t act, Jesse Williams.

Young Bobby Hall: Lonnie Chavis

Mom: Juliette Lewis

Dad: Jamie Foxx

MaryJo: Melissa McCarthy

Josh: Marcus Scribner

Britney: Phoebe Dynevor

Available on Audible

Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review: American Predator- The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

Right off the bat I want to say that this isn’t a true crime book about some serial killer from the 1970s that no one remembers. This happened within the last few years. A spree that went from 1996 to 2012 to be exact. Right under all our noses. And you could have been a victim. I could have been. This is a total mindf*ck. One of the smartest killers I’ve ever read about. Which says a lot considering I got a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and interview violent felons for a living.

Israel Keyes hunted and hated humans. Former military, Keyes knew how to use weapons and his gigantic body to take an innocent person down. How often do we hear about a serial killer with no MO? Who just killed anyone, and did it for sport. It’s rare. Most serial killers have their targets or fetishes; Son of Sam killed young couples, Ed Kemper killed female college students, the Manson Family killed well-off people in the Hollywood Hills, etc. Keyes, born from holy roller parents and living in Alaska, was more like Richard Ramirez (aka Night Stalker) in that the only prerequisite for being a victim was that you breathed. Keyes murdered just to murder. He killed in Alaska, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Vermont. During the day and at night. Keyes tortured, raped, mutilated, and killed people-men and women- across the United States, and I bet you’ve never heard of him. Right?

If you haven’t heard of Keyes, don’t feel bad…there’s a good reason why. The author of this terrifying account, Maureen Callahan, had to go to court and battle with the feds for information that is usually readily available to investigative journalists. Not only is law enforcement tight lipped about the havoc this monster caused, Keyes himself refused to cooperate unless he was promised his name would be kept out of the news. Because he didn’t want his daughter or family to be traumatized. All of a sudden dude is caring and sentimental. And the feds agree to Keyes’ terms because he promised them he’d help them find the bodies of his victims. The problem here is you never bargain with the bad guy, especially one as calculating as Israel Keyes. Never give them that control. In the interrogations of Keyes that Callahan puts in this book, you can see how he’s toying with law enforcement and how they let him. And I can criticize their techniques because interrogating and interviewing criminals is what I do for a living. These officers were afraid of him. What a mess. He loved it.

So, instead of another documentary about how handsome Ted Bundy was (and btw, he wasn’t, give me a break) or how gross Jeffrey Dahmer’s eating habits were, the powers that be should focus on homicides perpetrated by monsters like Keyes. Like I said, Keyes’ crimes did not happen that long ago, and people like him need to be looked at because the nut used modern technology and the internet to map out his targets. He used the FBI’s own techniques to figure out a way to make it so crimes were either never investigated or discovered. This guy is all the way in remote Alaska with the bears and the eagles, and he’s using the internet to meticulously research towns in states (and counties) thousands of miles away. He knew of communities with little to no police force, every camera placement and angle in town so he could park or stand without being recorded or detected, every way in which he could use natural elements in whatever state he chose to his advantage. This man only got caught because he wanted to get caught. Period.

This is a well written page-turner. Callahan did her research, much to the chagrin of law enforcement. What Keyes did to his victims is downright chilling, shocking, and gruesome. I felt for these victims, and it hurts to know how much they suffered. Worse knowing there are some who will never be found.

If you are interested in true crime, this is a must-read. Prepare to be freaked out.

Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Awareness for our Missing Indigenous People

This piece was inspired by the fact that 710 Indigenous people, mostly girls, were reported missing over the past decade in Wyoming, the same state where Gabby Petito reportedly disappeared. Despite the extent of the issue, missing and murdered Indigenous people get less media coverage. Give them all the same attention so we can curb violence against women and children, and hopefully bring them home.