Apr 28 2015

Simple “Solutions” to Complicated Problems

Published by at 9:09 pm under "Activism"

I’m going to start right off and tell you that I fucking hate the Mondawmin Mall.

In 1991, I worked down the road from Mondawmin. I was an assistant manager for the largest music retailer in the country (at the time).  At least 100 times a day, I was told that whatever we had was cheaper at Mondawmin.  If we didn’t have it, Mondawmin did.

“You got Mint Condition?  You got Nu-Nu? No?!”

“I’m going down MonDAWmin!”

(pronounced just like the sign says)


Mondawmin was apparently the paradise where everything and anything resided, and could be had for far less than us clueless white folk up the street were charging – IF we were even hip enough to what “the kids today” were listening to.

When your company is based out of Minnesota, it takes a long time to figure out that not everybody is going to be into Garth Brooks.

The store I was in was at a mall that was making a transition in clientele – like the Chris Rock joke: “Every town has two malls.  The mall the white people go to, and the mall the white people used to go to.”

There was a lot of racial tension in the mall.


Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass what color your skin is. I’m more interested in whether or not you’re an asshole.

We dealt with a lot of assholes.

When the Rodney King verdict went down, a number of assholes decided it would be a good idea to stir shit up at the mall where I was working. A number of assholes decided it would be a good  idea to get in my face about it.

Because, apparently, I was telecommuting in to the jury or something.

Or, maybe, it was because “something” about me reminded them of the cops who had beaten King.

I also found out that night that some of my co-workers were assholes. Even though we’d worked together for months, and had gotten to be good friends (or so I’d thought), apparently none of that mattered.

Me?  I was just there, trying to do my job.  I was 21 years old, and not making shit for pay. Eventually you run a cost/benefit analysis on interactions with the public. If I ask you if you need help finding something, are you going to jump my shit because you assume I’m profiling you as a shoplifter?  Or if I leave you alone, will you jump my shit because I’m “obviously” snubbing you because of your skin color.

Oh, and by the way, me calling security on your ass has nothing to do with your skin color.  It has to do with the fact that you have 30 CDs stuffed down your pants.

I digress.

My point is, speaking from experience, I can say that the area of Baltimore where all of this shit started has been smoldering for years. If not decades.

The unnecessary death of yet another black man at the hands of yet another police force was just the spark that pushed things over the edge.

For the record, I think this shit (where “this shit” = “the unnecessary death of yet another black man at the hands of yet another police force”) needs to stop.

It is here that I would like to introduce a concept put forth by Robert Anton Wilson, in his book Quantum Psychology:


“Sombunall” can be defined as “Some, but not all.”

Sombunall cops are assholes.

Sombunall Muslims are assholes.

Sombunall Christians are assholes.

Sombunall Hasidic Jews are assholes.

I’ve even met a Sikh asshole.  For the record.

Sombunall white people are assholes. I’ll let you decide if I am.

I honestly don’t care what you think of me, and I’m pretty comfortable with who I am these days.

Sombunall black people in my store after the Rodney King verdict were assholes.

Sombunall black people in my store after the Rodney King verdict were not assholes.

Probably just about everybody (I’m guessing) who was out in Baltimore last night were pretty upset over Freddie Gray’s death (as am I).

Sombunall of those people used this as an excuse to be assholes.

Sombunall white people (who may or may not be cops) use this as an excuse to be assholes.

This then creates an asshole vortex, which gathers in intensity and and overwhelms people’s thinking by obliterating the “sombun” part, and making them start believing that ALL X ARE Y.

Interestingly, though, I’m finding the comments I see from people I know on both sides of the political spectrum are rather telling.

On the Right, we have pretty much what you would expect (Sombunall people on the right – I’m only referring to a portion of the people I know on this end of the spectrum) – “All Black people = bad / All White people and cops = good”

On the Left, though, in Sombunall instances, it’s getting a little more twisted.

In one instance, there was a fellow taking considerable glee in the destruction, making sure to chastise anyone who was aghast at the violence as “not having learned the lessons of history.”

What those lessons were, he never said.

This strikes me as disingenuous, in that there appears to be an underlying tone of desperation to his glee; a need, a desire, to be recognized as being a GOOD GUY. If he’s just a little more zealous about the riots than the average rioter, then he’s proven he can be part of the club.  I would suggest that this is based out of fear – fear that “they” will come for him, too, and judge him not on his merit (or asshole quotient), but on something arbitrary, like, say, the color of his skin.

So, in a way, he is now assuming that Sombunall black people are going to assume that Sombunall white people are bad, and he has to prove his street cred in order to survive the upcoming race war. If he keeps declaring he is an ALLY loud enough, maybe “they” will listen, and bless him, and he will be “safe”.

As long as people do his bidding and behave in a manner of which he approves, and recognize him as being one of them (gooble gobble), then all is well in the world, because, boy, does he ever feel the righteousness of their anger.

Or something.

A second response I have seen from the Left, is that white supremacists had somehow provoked the riots.

Maybe.  I wasn’t there. I don’t know.

But to assume that Sombunall of the rioters would have been perfectly peaceful if only it hadn’t been for those pesky white supremacists, is to also devalue the humanity of the rioters. “Those” people are perfectly peaceful and docile creatures unless victimized by the the inherently evil white man.

Here we again, have someone wearing a Good Guy Badge, and proudly flying their Ally Flag (for the same reasons as above), but at the same time denying the humanity of both black people and white people. How?

By suggesting that it is impossible for black people to be assholes, and for suggesting that white people are inherently assholes (except when they’re enlightened enough to put on Good Guy Badges and shout their Ally status from the rooftops – behaviors which seem asshole-ish to me), you deny people the ability to think for themselves, and to engage in the very nuanced behavior that makes each of us human, even if it means behaving like an asshole.

THAT, in my opinion, just perpetuates the Asshole Vortex further.

People are (understandably) upset over the continued escalating death rate of black men at the hands of various police departments.

I, personally, do not agree with rioting, looting, burning shit down, or any of the other violence that has been happening of late in response.

But I understand where it’s coming from.  I understand the despair.  And this time, I know the neighborhood where it’s going down.

I also do not agree with the behaviors of Sombunall police officers who feel the need to go around killing unarmed black men.

The Asshole Vortex will continue until we can find a way to look each other in the eye and find some common ground.

I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the word Sombunall needs to be put into circulation sooner, rather than later.

This is getting old.

All of it.

Oh, and for the record, I actually went to Mondawmin Mall once, to see if they really did have “everything.”

They didn’t have shit.


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