Greetings in Peace Daniel Friedman!
Like you, I’m always morphing into one medium or another –or at least attempting to– and for this particular moment I found myself honored to be thought of in relation to the late great ‘buffalo soldier’. At the same time, because morphing is such a kaleidoscopic process, I also found myself a bit apprehensive about accepting your thinking of me during this song as an actual compliment. This had very little to do with you personally, but more to do with the context so eloquently described by The Persuasions. After all, the ‘buffalo soldier’ tells of a terrible war between Native and African Americans which ultimately took more from each side than it gave to them. What’s more, the song understandably expresses only sadness at having its subject named after an animal rather than a fellow human being.
Today, unfortunately, this injustice is still prevalent among our fellow human beings in 2014, almost one-hundred and fifty years since the first all-black regiments took up arms against their fellow brethren of color in the struggle for survival. In other words, today, whether we’re black, white, or yellow, our societies still have an incredibly long way to go before we can say we refer to one another with respect as actual human beings, each of whom is just as capable and worthy of respect as the next person.
Of course, I don’t say this to lecture you, but to highlight just a few of the multiple dimensions I see when looking at the buffalo soldier and his place in history. And yet, perhaps that’s precisely where you come from, isn’t it? Perhaps, you think of me as yet another brother who — like the buffalo soldier– has not yet truly been heard either. If this is in fact your assessment, then I can tell you: it’s absolutely correct my friend.
Here’s why I love writing: it contains the spirit of a voice which might endlessly be summoned for those eager to hear it, and as a writer, I’m indefinitely in need of another reader or listener. Therefore, my journey is endless. That is, my voice will never truly be heard until it is heard by each and every individual who’s capable of hearing me, which brings another thought to mind: do you believe in immortality?
Here’s what I think. One of my favorite books is by a man known as John Fante, who authored an L.A. classic known as Ask the Dust in 1934. Like many great stories, when his book was published it was largely ignored by the day; today, however, it’s widely held by L.A. aficionados as a timeless ode to the city. As you might gather, the key word is ‘timeless’, because it leads me to a second question, and yet another: is Fante’s book alive in the technical sense of the word? And if so, is its existence through the ages a testament to a kind of immortality which it commands?
I’d say so.
But would you? Perhaps you would! And in fact, perhaps you already have said so! I dare say once again, then, that it is an honor to be considered alongside the buffalo soldier. Like the buffalo soldier and the Natives who named them as such, I have an expression to share with the world that transcends time and space. I fight for my belief in what’s just, because if I don’t, what else is there to fight for?
Thanks again for the song, and here’s one for you that I think should go rather well with your new chapter at Stanford!
Many congratulations, and all the more cheers for more encounters between us.
Your friend and fan from Los Angeles,
Jimmy “JIMBO” Recinos