Was this schizophrenia? As Asefi closed the door behind her, she remembered a young man in a red beanie reading a book on Peter Grant the “greatest rock manager of all time”. It was a night of love at Stories in Echopark, the well dressed in LA crowded around a reading on “emotional understanding”. She was there because she had been invited by a friend, Eleanor, who shared the apartment that she lived in. Was Peter Grant the “greatest rock manager of all time”? She doubted it. She loved and lived rock and roll, and when Vanessa at the Cactus Store told her that she “did not know any other Vanessa” in the area, instead of thinking of another Asefi, she began to sing about this to herself. She bought the book Jerusalem by Patti Smith at because she had the relationship between rock and roll and polities in mind at the time; the relationship between aesthetic artistic form and democracy, both as ideals, both often unattained, both far from sight for the average American citizen. And for the average Haitian citizen.
She had planned on sitting down at her computer for the night and writing an article on the Haitian government’s choosing to side with Donald Trump and against Venezuela. It reminded her too much of pain in the Americas, of flutes and of botany, of promises and of protest that she had spent the last ten years committing herself to (when she graduated from NYU), a commitment, conviction even visible in the books around her house, her dress, her boots, etc. The etc. was a long etc., the sort that was not her identity but manifested a serious period of her living, far away from the judgement of her judgmental Haitian protestant parents, the sort that named her Asefi before holding hands and praying to God the father and against Vodou Loa, that Loa she fell in love with in college, when she first saw that Veve of Kadja Bossou and begin to sing songs that mean herself, the sort that carry her into a place of deep resolve. Asefi, she had learned in college, was a name given by Haitian families to girls like her to mean that this would be their last girl and that they did not want another one.
Asefi. Her friends loved the name. They loved associating it with color, and dance, as through it she shared the sense and sensibility of Caribbean liberty. They did not understand the deep conservatism inherent to her name, and she let it be this way. What mattered was that she mattered, and that she had both purpose and community. It’s the reason why she did not write the article she wanted to write and instead headed out to Stories with Eleanor, to meet James, and Tim, purveyors of good humor. She ordered an IPA and sat near the middle with everyone, before they all gravitated to the books and sat on the bench.
He was reading a book on Peter Grant in front of her. She wondered who he was, and why he was reading such a book. What could reading a book on such a capitalist get someone like him. Nothing, except for a whole bunch of information, that will amount to nothing. Did he want to manage bands? Did he manage bands. No, he did not, and she knew this by the fact that he read the book with checking his phone once. She turned her head to the politics section, and then turned right back towards the young man. What was his name.
As all of this happened, Stories played song after song of rock psychedelia and masculine pomp. Not a single female rocker came on, though perhaps it was just for the time that she was there. However, it all was pretty clear to her, and she didn’t like it.
Then it happened just like that. She began thinking about managing a Haitian band, as if transported out of this room with her thoughts, into an imagined world of much different values, thoughts, and perspectives, a world not LA. She moved her hand around as if to go along with the dream, which seemed to make her much happier than the present.
To your phone
Here it comes
She wrote these lyrics in her mind as she thought of the sort of band that she would love to manage, the sort of Haitian band that could do both politics and rock with Compas rhythms and cultural tradition. Not to mention feminism. She would sing lead.
The man had left. 10 minutes after it commenced, she snapped out of her dream. No one was in front of her. Instead, a music section of books she sort of wanted to read stared right at her. It took her sometime to feel comfortable again.
After closing the door, she sat on her couch. He seemed like a cool guy. It would have been cool to chat with him a bit, ask him a question or two about his interest in management. She laughed.
A new cactus sat on the table in front of the couch. She loved its color and its size. LA loved her back, she felt, as free as she could be with her thoughts.