One Lone Black Nerd I be


It started with the movies. I used to go with my parents to every damn show possible. Alien? “Isn’t 4 too young, Donald?” my mom would say. “He’s 4! What can he possibly remember from it? He’ll be fine” I imagine he retorted. I was not fine. I ended up being afraid of the dark the rest of my childhood. You just never knew if that pesky xenomorph was hiding in the ceiling ready to punch your face out with its tongue. However, with the fear came wondrous amazement, joy, and imagination. Even at that age I imagined myself the hero. That was 1979. I’d already been indoctrinated by Star Wars and I thought I was like every kid in those days; full of spirit, giggles, imagination, and joy.

 

Then we moved to Texas from the East Coast and I met my best friend for life, who introduced me to video games! 1983. I had an Atari 2600, then he had a Nintendo, and it escalated from there. Dungeons and Dragons, Doctor Who (we’re talking Tom Baker Doctor Who now), radio serials, Star Trek, GI Joe, Transformers. I was hooked, like every kid. It didn’t hit me that I was any different than any other kid, besides being the only black kid I knew besides my cousins. I began to notice I was the odd kid when I started doing the voices of the characters from the cartoons whose toys I cherished. After all, Optimus Prime can’t sound like Cobra Commander and Darth Vader isn’t as intimidating when he sounds like a spastic nine year old. The kids at school would tease which would cause me to become introverted and only share with those I trusted. “You’re a nerd! You can’t be a nerd! You’re black!”

Well, shit. I’m a black nerd. Those were the worst world ever spoken! Ok, not really, but I was a kid. Words stung, yo. When I was 12, I struggled with my nerd/geek desire to still keep and display my toys, but also struggled with the peer pressure to “grow up” and “be a young man”. It was awkward and it felt wrong, but I put my toys away. “Young black men your age do not play with toys! They play football or basketball or do something cool and athletic.” I heard it, even from my mother. It hurt.  Everyone seemed to want me to do it the way you’re supposed to. I wonder if I would have faced such pressure were I the innocent looking white kid like my best friend. Would I have gotten more of a pass? People tease and ridiculed the white geek kids too, but they always had a click or group they could fall into that looked like them, sounded like them, and didn’t get suspicious looks when they went somewhere together as a group.

So I stopped. I played football in middle and high school…until I discovered comic books. Then it was another obsession. I got a job just to pay for them because my exasperated mother was not gonna pay for “One more damned comic book!” (I find out years later that she was a geek growing up too in an even harder time for black nerds. She had her own comic collection. We would watch movies together and nerd out in later years) I spent half my life in the comic shop. I felt at home, but I was usually always the only black guy in there, reading stories about white, homogenous heroes saving the world. I always wondered why there weren’t more. Where were the people who looked like me?

As I got into my twenties and turned my attention to trying to reach for a career in media, I started to really understand that I was an anomaly. The creators and artists who made the fantastic universes I would get lost in wrote and drew what they knew. They were majority white, and even more majority male. I was an exception to the standard geek rule. So that meant I was in an even more exclusive club. I had panache. I was cool by virtue of my rarity, like an Action Comics #1! The rest of these guys were just silver foiled, variant covered 1991 X-Men #1’s! I started to find heroes like Luke Cage, The Falcon, Spawn, Cyborg, Bishop,John Stewart Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter (dammit, he’s no Martian, he’s a Space Brutha)  and Deathlok. Men who looked like me (except Deathlok, that bruh got jacked up!) rising up and being the hero of the story; fighting injustice. Being a black hero became so damned cool, they went and made honky Nick Fury into Shaft!!!! I still love that one, especially now that he’s a fan favorite.

Now I’m in my early 40’s I see a subtle shift. I take pride in the fact that Dwayne McDuffie (RIP) is one of the most revered writers and creators ever in comics. These days my extended family and many of my friends still don’t quite get the level to which I nerd out and I don’t bore them to sleep with my obsessions, but they see my happiness and they get that. Though they usually stop listening after I start discussing the scientific reasoning behind Superman’s powers or why Batman is still better (He’s the God Damned Batman!). Now that being geeky is a mainstream, popular thing, I’m pleased. It’s a Golden Age! Now that it is mainstream means that more and more young black men and women will discover the wonders of geekdom and not be faced with being so alone in a crowd, if you get what I mean.

I used to feel like the odd man out, but now I don’t feel so awkward as I attend comic cons. I feel like an attraction, but in the best, most positive way possible. Maybe that’s maturity and learning to accept who I am and not worry all that much with other’s impressions. I feel like I’m the voice there to keep it honest and not let things stay the way they have been. I’ve picked up the mantle and I’m one of the trailblazers now!

I was totally a nerd before it was cool.

Damn, does that make me a hipster? I do have a Chewbacca beanie…..

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To Aquaman


I found this handwritten letter while cleaning my apartment. I had forgotten I wrote this. This was on the day one of my friends, Jonathan Vela, passed away. These were my thoughts at the time. Please be respectful in your comments.

To Jonathan,

I wish I knew you better. I should have known you better. We were classmates. We attended so many of the same geek events. I had every opportunity to get to be a true friend to you. You were a greater man and human being than any I’ve ever known, save for my mother. Your selfless attitude and passion for helping others knew no limits. You had a level of bravery unmatched by even the most legendary warriors. You would dress up as Aquaman and people would ridicule you and make fun, but you always shook it off with a smile and a disarming charm. I grew to admire your unwavering dedication to and love for your community. Humanity, really. The example you set for us all can never be eclipsed. The world was far too undeserving a place for the likes of you.

To know that you are gone makes me very sad and incredibly angry; angry at a universe that would allow such a terrible end befall such a beautiful, soulful human. Why you? Why in the prime of your life? What could you have possibly done in your short life to be saddled with such a tragic and unfair ending to your story? Why are others, evil others, rewarded for their cold actions against mankind? Why do they live and you do not? The only thing I can think is that there is no intelligent design and we are on this blue orb, hurtling through the black void, alone and rudderless. Maybe the universe is completely fair in its complete unfairness.

All I do know is that the world, San Antonio, cosplay, geekdom, and most of all the Velas, have lost a man of immesurable beauty and good. We all look for heroes in the world. I can say with certainty that we lost one today. We lost a legend. Rest in peace and take solace in a job well done, Aquaman.

You will always be my friend, Jonathan.

Aquaman

The Declaration of Geekdependence


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People ask me why I am doing this. Why am I chasing down this dream of becoming a professional, paid geek entertainer, podcaster, and voice actor? Where did you get this drive to do what needs to be done to make it happen?

To answer that question, I have to go back to July 6th, 1975, when I was born to Carolyn and Donald Coe. That was a year of the rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac. Why does that matter? Well, the traits of men born in the year of the rabbit are:

“…those who always treat people politely, with a gentle smile that makes people feel that they are credible and sincere. When meeting trouble, Rabbits can handle it in an orderly way; when encountering tough difficulties they are never discouraged, but are persistent to seek solutions. So they eventually achieve enviable success.”

Enviable success?  I like that.

So I’m totally destined for greatness?

Perhaps, but having those traits doesn’t guarantee anything. I still needed the nurturing and the constant push to speak up, to do the right things by people, to make them laugh, to make them happy. I credit my mother with this, the toughest woman I have ever known. She came from South Central Los Angeles and could survive almost anything. She showed my sister and I how to take life’s punches and punch back. I never saw her complain or quit, and she had every right and reason to. I used to ask her why she never gave up. My mother always said, “Baby, I never was given the choice. I have you and your sister. You need me.” She loved my voices I made and how I made her laugh, and fed my burgeoning geekiness. She encouraged me to be me. She said if I could overcome my shyness, I could do wonders with what she says God has gifted me.

I always thought I was ugly and odd shaped. I would hide and make my voice small, freezing up when I had to speak in class or give a presentation. I sneaked silently through school, only really being myself around my trusted friends. They had always told me, “Your voice is great! You should do radio! Cartoons! Something! You could be the new Movie Trailer Guy! You are funny, seriously. You can do it!” I would say, “No, I’m nowhere near as talented as Don LaFontaine!”  They’d say, “Who?” I would roll my eyes, “How do you not know who that is?!”  I just didn’t think I was worthy of the success I craved, the goal I desired. I thought that my heart disease, low self esteem, and size wouldn’t allow me to be anything other than invisible.


After the deaths of too many friends and family before their time, including my mother and father, I realized there was no right moment. I had to push myself to believe I had talent and, most importantly, that I was worthy of success. I had to make it happen. I had to make it the right moment. So with that in my heart and the integral help of my brothers Timmy Stewart, Alex Trevino, we formed The GeekVengers. We started small with local conventions here and there locally, did some videos, and had a blast. They gave me the mic and put me out front. “Use your natural humor and charisma! Fuck the fear!” I did just that and at our very first convention we met and interviewed Jennifer “Lil Bit” Adams.  I had no idea at the time how that singular event would chart the course of my life going forward. 4 years later, with some heartbreaking subtractions and some wonderful additions like Adam Garcia, Courtney Goodrum, The Blurred Nerds Podcast, and GVTV, we are going strong and growing stronger.

This is my calling. This is my focus. This is my destiny.

No quitting.

Alamo City Comic Con 2015: Generalissimo Pwns It!!!


We’ve had such an amazing run since September when we attended this event. We apologize for the delay, but we’re only human! So now that you’ve whet your appetite with The Blurred Nerds podcast‘s newest episode, you can give your ears AND eyeballs some sweet geek loving and watch this panel! He’s The Man.

Excelsior!

Episode 3: The Holidays Awaken


 

 

On this episode, Lil Bit and I discuss unending Force Awakens trailers, best Christmas gifts evah, holiday memories, wishlists, and I beg just about the entire known universe for an Xbox One. So click the picture and sit down for an hour of fun and geek frivolity! We’ll be back soon with all new musings and rants to sate your geek appetite.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, VENGERS!!!

The Blurred Nerds: Episode II


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We discuss some Adele, Mockingjay Part 2, Jessica Jones, the etiquette of talking at the movies, what we’re thankful for, Black Friday shenanigans, some dog wrangling, and the joy of being a geek!

Words, Feely Words.


Hello and salutations to you, my geek brethren and normals! How are you? Good! Anyway, sorry I don’t blog enough. I mean to, but I’m such a procrastinator.

I was out tonight having dinner with a close friend of 20+ years and the subject of relationships came up. We went on about how tangled and deep we get when we find someone we feel is worthy of giving our love to. He, like me, is a Cancer. We live for being able to care for and watch over others. We are unrepentant romantics at our core. We are honest men and very forthright. Sadly, that has not been a great attribute as of late. So much so that both of us are semi-retired from seeking love and a relationship. I’m not going to speak for him, but my reasons are simple.

I think I’m kinda terrible at it.

I am a deeply honest person. I’ve never been a good liar and I never will be. I take pride in that. I used to think that it would be a benefit to me in a good relationship. I hear it’s what women all ask for. Honesty? I has that! Humor? I has that, too!!! Handsome, big, black, and charming? Check, check, check, and check!!!! Total package, right? Hmmm, so far, no. You see, I am honest probably to my own detriment. I want to be straightforward with anyone I get involved with and the women I have met lately don’t cotton to that so much. That’s the part I am terrible at. I fall in love with being in love and perhaps it puts me into overdrive and that’s what freaks women out. Now I purposely move really slow and take my time, and it is really difficult. I must fight the screaming crazy person inside my heart at every turn. 🙂

Now here’s the part I can’t control…

A little history for you- I have non-ischemic cardiomyopathy. Huh? Layman’s terms? My heart is defective and I take all manner of medication to regulate it and make so I don’t die. I like not dying. It’s my life goal. So, when I do get involved with a woman and I like her, I am sure that she knows the score. Not on the first date or anything, but usually when I am comfortable sharing such info. They almost always run away like King Arthur’s men in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I’m not asking them to take care of me or watch out for me or any of that shit. I can do it on my own and have been for many years before you and I’ll do it for many years after you, thank you. I share out of total honesty. Perhaps I’m just meeting the wrong women.

For this situation I really don’t think there is a right one, though. The fear of getting involved with someone, falling in love, and having them die on you is strong. I understand, but just so you know, I have no plans of dying anytime soon. Could I? Sure, but we all could. Enjoy your life as it is now and worry less about what will possibly be.I suppose it also has to just do with hard-wired human instincts. People want to be with others who exude healthy qualities. No matter how much I work out or try to take care of myself, I am a damaged specimen and I will always bear the scars of that. Can’t worry or obsess about what you can’t control. so I’m semi-retired from all of that. It’s made my life easier. Do I get lonely? Sure. Do I still love naked women? Duh, yeah!!!!!! Do I long for companionship? Of course I do, I’m human. I want the togetherness and closeness of loving love like many do. I remember watching my mom live alone after my dad left. I wish I had spoken with her more about her true feelings. I’m sure her wisdom and her strength would have been immensely helpful now. I had no idea that I would be in a similar situation years later.  

It has taken me a few years to really be in the right frame of mind for something like this. I could not have been this kind of man in my twenties. I could not have been this kind of man even 4 years ago. Wisdom is a hell of a thing. Don’t feel sorry for me. That’s not what the goal of this blog entry is. I guess it’s just personal therapy. I’m not saying that I am closed to meeting someone special. I am open to it. I always will be, but the difference now is that hooking up or meeting a woman isn’t my first goal when I go out somewhere. Honestly, it never should have been. That’s not to say Chocolate Machismo isn’t going to be panty-dropping charming, though. That’s just innate skill, my friends. You can’t turn that off. 😉

The operative word in that paragraph was ‘special’. I want to meet someone I can truly know and who can see who I am underneath all the on-camera bravado and the gregarious ebullience. Until then, I’m focused on my work with The Geekvengers, being the best geek I can, being the best friend I can, improving the world in my own little way, improving myself physically and mentally, and being educated by the world.