Juan Devis and KCET Web Stories Follow Up

Juan DevisKCET at invites you to “explore” L.A. in their ongoing series Web Stories. One of their latest offerings is “Children of Slam” featuring poets who are featured here in the kinté space, including Steve Connell and Gina Loring. This introductory paragraph could go on and sound very journalistic and professional but this is a Blog in the rasx() context so, for those of you with adjustable rate mortgages, stop reading now because I am about waste your time:

I am almost certain that the Juan Devis from KCET that contacted me last February about KCET Web Stories is the same Juan Devis that is the president of LA Freewaves. This means that he may interested in knowing that I am familiar with Anne Bray, executive director and secretary of LA Freewaves. I have to assert my familiarity with Anne Bray just in case this is another experience of a self-described “normal person” meeting a man from Mars. I’m supposed to play the man from Mars and you get to play The Sole Voice of Reason in the Universe.

But let me stick to the facts:

  • Juan Devis contacted through Google search only because he was searching for Steve Connell. It was not like he was searching for Black men poets from Los Angeles who think KCET is ossifying the minds of Latino youth with punk-ass, missionary Pollyanna shows like Dragon Tales. That search (as of this writing) will bring up zero results.
  • Juan Devis asked me to call him.
  • Juan Devis wanted to know were the streaming sound recordings on “legal.”
  • Juan Devis wanted to make sure that I am working “alone” here in the kinté space. He is confident that I am working alone. That struck me like a FBI-style, lunchroom-clique-style question…
  • Children of Slam” is not written by Juan Devis. It is written by a grown man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who lives with his L.A. “roommates” and calls himself Ratpack Slim. This means is that Juan Devis works with a large organization—he is not working alone. Super.
  • Juan Devis told me at the end of our conversation that he would “get back to me in a few days.” He never did. Saying something like this before our conversation means he is making a small effort to ensure that I would speak to him at length. Saying this after our conversation—and not doing what he said he was going to do—is yet another indicator of the life “we” lead here in Los Angeles. Flaky? Or is it just “normal”?So my Martian theory from “outer space” is that this whole piece for KCET places “Da Poetry Lounge” at the center of the Los Angeles poetry universe—and the Kamau Daáood world of Los Angeles poetry is a “thing of the past.” I knew Juan was not going for in general and me in particular so I offered up the softest and most “socially acceptable” poet I know and that spot is held permanently by Michael Datcher—he’s sporting the Shirley Temple dreadlocks to prove my point. Visiting Professor Datcher even appeared on KCET—but he is not a “slam” poet with “mentorship” from “Mos Def and Norman Lear” so he’s out of this game. Fortunately all of the home games have poor attendance and home is where the hatred is.