Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Loyal readers will know we love CHico DeBarge and his BFF 4EVA former Bullet point guard Rod Strickland and we have exclusive interview today with a TRU WARIOR of words MATt Price who wrote a book about them thats so good it makes WHo Moved My Cheese look like monkeys painting with Caca!
Hi Matt, we r so excited to interview you!! First I want to say u r such an awesome speller!Where did u learn how to spell so good?
Where did I learn to spell? I guess in school. Probably in primary school? I suppose it's the sort of thing that you begin to take for granted as a writer. Now days of course I have a spell checker that picks up the odd typo.
A spell checker, wow! They must be expensive! Does he live in a guest house, like Kato Kaelin?
No the spell checker isn't a person, it's software on my computer.
I bet Kato Kaelin cant spell for beans. But i bet he can spell "KA-CHING!" right!?So you wrote a book about Chico DeBarge? Its called "The Devil Wears Fubu: The Authorized Biography of Neo-soul Scoundrel Chico DeBarge." We love Chico DeBarge! Was it awesome hanging out with him?
It was certainly an interesting experience. It was an all-access arrangement, which means where Chico went, I went. It was definitely a little intimidating at first. He has this very tight knit posse that follows him everywhere while he's on the road. Individually, these people may be security guards, stylists, drivers, PR agents, groupies, old neighborhood pals, there's even a minister. But together they are like a singular living animal, and they are each other's only real family for months at a time. At first I was treated with suspicion, as an outsider. They called me "Bookie" and "College Boy," but over time I think they came to respect my tenacity, and I found myself welcomed slowly into the circle. I sometimes thought of myself like a National Geographic photographer tracking a den of proud wolves in the wild. We were wary strangers, but as we built a mutual trust, we came to realize that maybe we were more alike than we had ever imagined.
SO what we want to know most is did you meet Rod Strickland?! Rod Strickland is one our favorite players ever. He has a hunger for life and for basketball and for meat franks that we also have at wizznutzz.
Of course. One can't reach an understanding Chico without understanding his relationship with Rod. They have an extraordinary bond. Chico showed a loyalty to Rod like I have never seen. Sometimes it almost seemed like they were two sides to a single man; a philosophical, emotional side, and a darkly primal, destructive side. Rod was quiet, with an almost Mephistophelian coldness, and often had this unsettling grin on his face. He always seemed to be in Chico's ear just before trouble broke out. At first I imagined him as Shakespeare's Iago. A master manipulator, perhaps driven from envy or another of the dark passions. But it soon became clear that he was really just an intensely juvenile hedonist. I mean, here's a guy with all the time and all the money a man could ask for, and seems to want nothing more from life than running afoul of the law like some sort of PG County libertine. For most of us, the 30s are a decade of family and career and for the first time beginning to prepare for the future. For Rod it appears to be a time of throwing eggs, burning piles of leaves, letting the air out of car tires. I even saw him steal a candy bar from a deli once. He stuffed it right down the front of his jeans.
Did you guys hang out with El DeBarge alot?
You would think so. When it comes to late 20th century neo-soul, the DeBarge brothers are practically the Carnegies. But it was actually a very sore subject. Chico is an amazingly tangled product of his own contradictions. At times he almost seems miscast in his own life. On the one hand, Chico clearly envied his older brother Eldra. In his game room was a jukebox full of El DeBarge singles. His prize car was a restored Pontiac Fiero, the same car his brother bought when he signed his first major label deal. On the other hand, if Chico saw someone wearing a Bolero hat at a club, he would go into a violent rage. Everyone around Chico knew the No Bolero rule. And during the research for this book, Chico approached Charlie Ray Wiggins, Toni of Tony! Toni! Tone!, about collaborating on a neo-soul opera, an update of Faust in which the devil was pretty clearly meant to be his brother Eldra.
So Does your book have good incites?
Well I'm probably not the best person to ask that question. Critically, it has been very well received. The New Yorker called it "nuanced, pliant" and Dave Eggers was generous when he blurbed: "Every time Matt Price writes a sentence, an angel laces up his hoodie."
As for Chico, I heard that initially he wasn't thrilled with it. I had warned him upfront that this wouldn't be a puff piece, that I was in pursuit of something honest. Still, I wasn't surprised by his reaction. I mean here is a guy who has spent his entire life in the company of sycophants, hangers-on who propped him up, inflated his ego. Is it any wonder then, that Chico cut his fashions from the cloth of self-deception? But then show me a man that doesn't. All of our lives are really just ideas; ideas about who we want to be, how we like to think others see us. Selfdom is an optimistic enterprise, it's the front seat of the roller coaster; but vanity is a funhouse mirror. The thing that did surprise me about this project, though, was how much it taught me about myself. You go in thinking you can maintain a critical distance, but you can only observe something for so long before you begin to see something of yourself reflected in it. Darwin unlocked evolutions mysteries by studying finches. I unlocked mine last summer in a panel van with a man named Chico.
Thats so tru! Hey did CHico DeBarge have a mothering hut??
I don't know what that is.
Its like a place you go into to discipline yourself like a tent of pain and violence. You can make your mothering hut have whatever you want to make it special for your own fears. Like if you look in the wizznutzz mothering hut you find duct tape, an angry raccoon, steel wool and torn underpants.
Wow. If I understand you, it's like an auto-sadist cubbyhouse? That's very unusual. No, I can't say I ever saw a mothering hut in my time with Chico. I suppose in some sense, Chico's van served that purpose. He would drive around in that thing late into the night trying to work things out of his system. That van seemed to have almost absorbed qualities of Chico's soul. That van was uninsulated, its rivets and panels were exposed, the wheel wells were stuffed with discarded 7-Eleven wrappers, its suspension was shot. It shuddered upon the cracked bitumen of the pitted boulevard of his broken dreams.
Did it have a DVD player?
Yes it did.
What did they watch on it?
Music videos mostly. Some porn films. That movie Short Circuit. I think Chico wrote a song for the soundtrack.
Do you have things you do when you write? Like Gilbert Arenas does behind the back with the ball before foul shots?
You mean like rituals? Not really. I usually get up, check my e-mail, write for a few hours in the morning. Maybe meet up with my editor for a late lunch. Try and get outside for a bit. Then I typically spent a couple of hours in the late afternoon going back through the mornings work.
Is there any food u like to eat while you r writing?
No not really.
You should eat Romanian bacon. Its best bacon in the world. In Romanian they don't have laws about giving steroids to animals so bacon is really big and if you leave it out u can still eat like 2 weeks later.
Is that a question?
When we write on our website sometimes we put on gameworn shorts of our favorite players that we got on eBay. For some players the more they are soiled when u buy they are even cheaper I don;t know why! Sometimes we mix up the shorts so when we don't know whose shorts we have on and it helps our incites be even more inspired. Are there writers shorts u like to wear when you write?
I fear that you mean that literally. But if I was to interpret that to mean 'Which writers inspire you', I would probably say Tom Wolfe. He really changed for me the idea of what a reporter can accomplish. Also Edmund White, and the amazingly detailed work of Proust. I was recently impressed by that civil rights history by Taylor Branch.
Did you like Manute: The Center of Two Worlds?
No I don't know that one.
Its real good. You should read it most definitely if u like books.
DO you Have a MySpace page?
Not that I know of. Is that an internet thing?
We have one. JArvis Hayes is one of our friends! I bet u would have lots of friends. If you want we can give u an add.
Did u make a audiobook of Devils Wears Fubu?
I think the publisher are planning one.
U should get the guy from the Harry Potter ones. He does 100 voices I bet. If he does two house eleves you can even tell they are different. Or Maybe you should get sports announcers to read it! Like Bullets radio guy Dave Johnson when he said "Rod Rod Rod Rod Rod!" He says only one word but he tells so much when he says it. Or Steve Buckhantz, you can have him yell "DAGGER!" at the end of the chapters!
That would be interesting. But I'm not really involved.
I read that there is a magazine that called you a liar. Is that true?
No. I was the target of a recent expose in the Jet Magazine Literary Supplement. The piece, which bore the sardonic title: "Well Maybe the Devil Wore Sean Jean After All," accused Mister DeBarge of fabricating many of the sensational anecdotes that helped give the book its bravura energy.
Well, among the claims that Jet contested:
-that Chico DeBarge can outrun wild dogs in a race. -that Chico DeBarge has a special SUV that is powered by Hennessy and can go 300 miles per hour. -that Chico DeBarge donated one of his lungs to help his sick nephew, and refused anesthetic during the surgery because "I couldn't give my little cousin no junkie lung. Junkie lung isn't like a regular lung. Junkie lung will take the whole show down 'cause it has nothing to lose and is crazier than Margot Kidder."
But at no time was I personally accused of any fabrications. I simply reported the claims as they were made to me. And in fact, I feel it's a more fascinating profile now that we know that much of it was the pure imaginings of this one man bearing an almost Wagnerian grandiosity. My peers have been very supportive. Skip Gates Jr. wrote a very generous letter to the editors at Jet defending my work. He even argued that Chico DeBarge is just the latest in a important line of "trickster characters," who have a powerful, even archetypal, presence in the African American folkloric tradition. In that light, you can argue about standards and practice until your blue in the face, but tell me, how does one fact-check a man's roots?
OK one more question. If you had a dinner party and u could invite 3 people to it even if they were dead who would u have?
Oh this question. God, no idea. I guess I'll just go with the usual suspects: Jesus, Martin Luther King, Ghandi.
Really?! You are a great writer so no disrespect but thats crazy! They wouldn't even want to talk to u and they would be so picky about food, like Coach Lynam used to say at halftime: u cant give Jesus a halfsmoke! I would have instead of JC, I would have Randy Quaid or Al Koken cuz those guys will eat anything! And instead of Ghandi I have former Bullet Stan Love cuz he could do the dishes after, and I bet Stan Love could roll a proper joint and bring some ladies around. And instead of Dr King I say get Webster! Hes black and famous but hes also HILarious! Hes so small, u can have him a high chair and when u cut his food for him he would be like "Hey Im not a child I can cut my own food Im a grown man" and Stan Love would say "Yeah OK you'll be big and tall you just growing late like your brother he's 6 feet HAHA take a hit off this black gnome youll be so tall u can touch the moon!"