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‘This Hell that Forged My Soul’
T-Bone Jackson Discusses His Return to Harm City Over a Plate of Scrimps
Written 10/23/19
T-Bone looks a lot like film star Vin Diesel, was a man I’ve known since 2002 when I was along-haired savage, and headed west to the left coast to find his fortune away from the menace and mortality of Bodymore Murderland as his folk call my blown town. I bought him a plate of shrimp and some beer as I drank coffee and we compared notes about our apostolic outward journey and the tedious gravity which has drug us both back to the hideous whore what hatched us…

[looks above]
Lord, how have I angered you to bring me back to this forsaken place!
I’m back in this hell that forged my soul, so I suppose it adds up—but this place has got so little spirit and so much menace. The contrast is simply incredible. I’m not one of those Americans that believed this country could be that different in so many places and ways. But I know its true now.
Most parts of America don’t have that level of despair and rust belatedness and the number of black people necessary to make a place truly, bone-chillingly frightening like this sinkhole of the soul. Baltimore takes your humanity and then kills you! You are the only person I can really talk to about it.
I followed my dream, to be a drug dealer. No way was I trying that shit in a place like this where the cops are hammering you from one side and the thugs from the other. I just had a dream of being compensated for helping people escape within for a little while, to duck below the noise for as long as their high lasts. On the left Coast people don’t give a shit if you pass out getting high outside a club. They might help you up, see if you are okay. Not like here where the cops will fuck you up, the thugs will jack you up and someone has to pass another fucking law to keep you from getting high.
It’s so funny when people talk about bad towns, bad neighborhoods on the Left Coast. Tacoma Washington?
Please!
Portland?
Hell, they have services. The panhandlers don’t even panhandle, they clean up the fucking trash and sell it for recycle!
Oakland, ha!
[mimics the gangland narrator for the history channel documentaries in a deep baritone] Oakland, California, deadliest city—what, on the fucking Bay! I went into Oakland, to all the neighborhoods I was told were the worst places in town, guaranteed to get you killed and all I see is a couple of black dudes selling drugs, about as dangerous as walking past the wait staff in this joint.
Did I see a bunch of foreigners breaking a bunch of social laws?
You bet. But nobody was fucking anybody up—least of all the police. They’re like wellness officers out there. They help you out, clean you up, take a report and go on their way.
There are zones where people gather to do their business, do their drugs, make their connects, and that’s it. Try that here and you’ve got cops rolling you up on one end and the other team jacking you up on the other—they just don’t have the negro density necessary for real, around the clock, run you to ground menace that you get back here in the naval of despair.
The problem is there that the rent is so high that I had to take a break from the day job—a work injury sidelined me—and rehab and couldn’t afford that on unemployment, so I’m back here, back in the pit of looming despair with my folks while I heal up.
Dreams have to die somewhere and what better place for snuffing out hope but Baltimore.
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