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…..
Special guest Eric Staples joins us once again on the podcast where we discuss:
– Sims 4 removing gender restrictions
– Shorter future seasons on Game Of Thrones
– Meme Wars
– Walking Dead
– Reboots of Highlander & League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
– Scary movies as a child vs now
– What makes someone walk out of a movie/stop watching a show
– Upcoming geek events and cons.
Read more at The Blurred Nerds on Facebook
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.
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.
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!!!
“No spoilers!!” Yeah, we all know that one person or group of people that moan about spoilers for shows and movies they haven’t watched. They usually see your Facebook or Twitter post about something they haven’t seen and they just can’t resist clicking on it like a heroin addict chasing the dragon. Then they loudly type, “NO SPOILERS!!! I HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET!!!!”.
There are legit times in which to proclaim your fear of spoilers, but this blog isn’t about that. This blog is about the people who call NO SPOILERS about shit they have no right to still be claiming no spoilers on. I always have to resist my desired reaction when I hear no spoilers.
Person: “No Spoilers!!!”
Me: (Punches person) “There. Were you surprised? Hell of a twist, right?!”
So, this is when you can’t claim NO SPOILERS:
1. When the show or movie is years old. Just because YOU haven’t seen the cartoon, movie, or tv show in question and EVERYONE else has, doesn’t mean you can jump into the conversation and cry about being spoiled. Fucking catch-up, you lazy bastard! You’ve had YEARS. Either move into that cave you’ve been eying or join us in the 21st century and fucking Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or Youtube that shit. Borrow your friend’s collection. Whatever.
Person: “Holy shit, did you know that Vader is Luke’s father?!!!!”
Me: “Where the fuck you been, dude?!!!”
2. When you have no intention of watching whatever it is that is being talked about. I listened to my friends go on about Doctor Who and other shit that I was actively not watching and was in no danger of watching. Not once did a desire rise in me to chastise them for discussing it in my presence on the small percent chance that I would decide to start watching and remember that one specific conversation and be crestfallen as my experience would be completely ruined!!! “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! The whole show is now ruined for me because I know about that one thing that happened that one time!!!!! RAAAAAAAGE!!!!!”
3. When you are not part of the conversation. Whether it be on the internet or in person, it is not ok for you to shoehorn your C ass into an A and B conversation. It’s like people get the shakes when they hear other people’s conversations about geek shit and can’t……keep……out…of…..it. Just keep away and find something constructive to do. When you are surfing the internet, don’t click the link when it says things like, “Holy shit Breaking Bad!!!!”, “Can you believe Dexter?!!!! Deb is craaaaazy!!!!”, or anything else of that nature. You will be spoiled in that thread and when that happens, it is only you that is to blame. That’s like you running into a burning building and then bitching about when you catch on fire.
4. You have actively chosen to spoil yourself. This should be self explanatory and sheer common sense, but we’re geeks and we just can’t resist. You might think this is just like #3, but it isn’t. #3 was all about jumping into someone else’s convo while this is all about you and your personal willpower and responsibility. No one is twisting your arm or talking near you about it. You just can’t stop yourself. I have a dear close friend of mine who devoured every tidbit of information about Star Trek Into Darkness. The plot, the character arcs, the whole fucking thing. Guess what happened? Yes, he hated the movie and at least once a day tells me how much he hated it. I just laugh and tell him, “B..O..O H..O..O.” I, on the other hand, was pleasantly oblivious about the movie and loved every damned second of it. What’s the lesson? DON’T FUCKING SPOIL YOURSELF! DUH. You do it and you develop specific expectations for the movie that always end up letting you down. Your dreams are dashed upon the Rocks of Nerd Doom. Wait for the show or movie and be surprised, for good or bad. Things are really more fun that way. You have no right to vacuum up everything about a show/movie you haven’t seen yet and then bitch about all that stuff. Just wait until you’ve seen the finished product before you don your Firefly t-shirt and begin your fanboy protests.