Okay I gotta walk this one back a bit. Not for the reasons you think, like I’m afraid Ice Cube is going to beat me up/cut a “diss” track about me. Or the racial epithet, which, by the way, I’m not the one uttering.
No; it’s because an Ice Cube movie brightened up one of the darkest points of my life.
Four years after I drew this strip, I was sent to Fulton County Jail. For the month and a half I was stuck there, I watched very little television, because it was always on BET. But sometimes I had no choice, because it didn’t exactly look good to stay in my cell all day. It was better to make an appearance on the main floor, and spend the day walking around silently, getting a feeling for the energy of the block. If there’s a decent place to sit, take it.
Everything you’re given to wear is slippery against the hard surfaces of the jail; your blue canvas jumpsuit slides against the metal tables and benches, your flip-flops get no traction on the slick concrete floor and steel stairways. You learn to move slowly and confidently, even though you’re dressed in ill-fitting togs and wearing someone else’s underpants. You get used to your armpits reeking like a sick animal even after a shower; there will be inmates who smell a thousand times lousier. If you fall down, and you will, you’d better recoup, or get comfortable with a derisive nickname.
I did alright; they called me “Matty”.
The craziest aspect of jail is the dreams; they’re vivid, exciting, and agonizingly realistic. Countless times, I experienced a spontaneous, loving and natural sexual encounter with a beautiful female stranger. Sometimes two or more. The sensation of sunlight and flesh would dissolve into the mottled grey of the ceiling of my cell, the laughing voices of women still bubbling in my ears. The clatter of metal locks. Furious, tormented screaming. A farting thud.
YOU’RE STILL HERE.
Imagine, for a moment, your happiest memory. Now imagine it was only a dream, and cross-fade it with the realization of being locked in one small room for months. That’s more or less how it was. Plus everyone stinks loudly.
Okay, we’ve set the tone. I was bored out of my skull, pacing the main floor, contemplating the possibility of life in prison. Miserable. Defeated, I slide into a seat at one of the tables. I try to position myself in such a way where I can sit comfortably, feet on the floor, lumbar region supported on the rim of the metal table, without my butt or feet slipping out from under me. If you ever are unfortunate enough to go to jail, know that for the entire duration, you will never be comfortably seated. It’s jail! You’re supposed to totally hate it!
I raise my head to look at the gigantic TV screen. Of course it’s on BET. It’s a movie; All About The Benjamins, starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps. Cube has a badge on a chain around his neck, identifying him as a bounty hunter, or cop, or something. It’s not important. Mike Epps plays a mouthy guy that Cube knows, and for whatever reason Cube ends up pursuing him. Look it up for the details, I ain’t Ebert.
Anyway, Ice Cube chases Mike Epps for like two commercial breaks. One commercial was for a restaurant that breaded chicken in crumbled potato chips. I tried this idea after I got out of jail, and it was pretty fucking delicious. Of course, I’d been eating navy beans and baloney for over a month.
Anyway. This particular foot chase goes on and on, with neither Cube nor Epps slowing down. It’s like when Ice-T chases Wesley Snipes in New Jack City, which also showed on the big TV, but all the good parts were spliced out! Like, Ice-T’s best line was cut! “I wanna kill you so bad, my dick is hard!” I understand it was edited for television, but come on! Everyone in the block was expecting it!
Mike Epps only gets away from Ice Cube by running down an alley, clambering up a convenient ladder onto a high rooftop, and pulling the ladder up with him. Cube looks up with utter disbelief, like a frustrated Doberman.
Mike Epps does a little victory dance on the roof, taunting Ice Cube. I laughed the hardest that I’d laughed in over a month.
It was probably even the first time I laughed since being handcuffed. All because of an Ice Cube movie. So, I have to rescind my disdain towards the film career of O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson.
I mean, shit, what was he gonna do, keep making gangsta rap? How far can anyone really go with that, anyway? Ice Cube started out like gangbusters, in Boyz N The Hood. Then he proved he could do comedy, with the Friday franchise. Plus he’s made bank as an action star, in that non-porno xXx thing. Ice Cube is great as a movie star.
I don’t know what I’m talking about.