I Fell Down a Hole: In the Heat of the Night

I am currently sitting, eyes closed in a hole I created by playing the television show In the Heat of the Night in the background while writing something completely unrelated. It started, as most things do in my life, with the theme song, particularly the part of the song I’m used to hearing at the opening of an episode:

In the heat of the night
I’ve got trouble wall to wall
Oh yes I have
I repeat in the night
Must be an ending to it all
But hold on, it won’t be long
Just you be strong
And it’ll be all right
In the heat of the night

This inevitably led to me to the original film score Quincy Jones composed and Ray Charles’ recording of the same song:

Next, I found myself reading John Ridley’s foreword to the Penguin Classics 50th Anniversary Edition of John Ball’s novel, In the Heat of the Night. In it, Ridley describes the main character Virgil Tibbs as a “black man more carefully constructed than fully realized, an approximation of life designed to thwart a common enemy but to be of no threat to its originator.” My curiosity has been inflamed, to say the least. Now I want to know more. How did this book lead to an Oscar-winning movie starring Sidney Poitier and a television series that was certainly a familiar presence in my home? Maybe reading the book will offer some insight. I don’t know. For now I’m still in the hole, digging deeper.

Working Poor

Sip fancy coffees; Step over body outside he door.
Him fancy condo; He she call PO PO, me sing too loud.

I keep on knockin’. I keep on knockin’, but I can’t get in.

~ Fantastic Negrito, “Working Poor”

 

American Pill

American pill will wreck and kill.

~ Fantastic Negrito, “Plastic Hamburgers”

I live in a world where everything is potentially harmful and the rules we are taught to follow may very well destroy us; where evolution and technological advancement has left us questioning little, trapped in our own ideas and safe from others; where the violence of yesteryear, once hidden under hope for change, has reared its ugly head holding tiki torches and marching through university streets; where one wrong move leads to death by a badged gunman; where mass gatherings incite anxiety of mass violence. I live in a world I don’t like. I live in a world I don’t understand.

Let’s break out these chains, let’s burn it down.

~ Fantastic Negrito, “Plastic Hamburgers”