It Is What It Is

(Game Recognize Game)


A Memoir of David August

As told to Ron Hardy

While at the discharge processing station on Fort Hood,TX as I was processing out of the military, I ran into a couple of guys I knew. We all were in the same Battalion but different Companies. The ironic thing was that they were both from
Shreveport,LA. My father lived there and both my parents were from there. I had lived in Shreveport for a short period during my high school days. I remembered the village type community spirit that loomed over the old broken down neighborhood that my father had lived in. I remember people, places and things very
well. It felt like Shreveport was a good direction for me to go so I caught a ride with them to Shreveport.

As we were riding, I was sitting in the back seat of the car heading for Shreveport with no indication of what was to
become of me or of my life in general. That night on our journey, it rained cats and dogs as the old saying
goes. I had never seen or been in a rain storm like that before. You couldn’t see anything in front, back or sideways except raindrops beating fiercely down on the wind shields and windows. There were moments that I thought we weren’t gonna make it, but I just laid back and went with the flow. I had nothing to
lose and maybe nothing to gain.

As I began conversing with one of the guys in the car little did he nor I know, he was well acquainted with my father and knew my family very well. His oldest brother Terrace Hopper had been a running buddy of my father’s back in the days.

When we got to Shreveport and they dropped me off at my Aunt Lena’s house. My new found friend Rod Hopper actually knew where my aunt lived. As it turned out, my cousin Donald whose nick name was Cool D and Rod were running buddies at one point and time. Rod and I started running together. Rod was quite popular of around town. He was quite a character himself. Rod and I where running wild through Shreveport

It seemed like everybody from Cross Town remembered me from the time I had been here before in my High School days. I was back in town. Fresh out of the Army with plenty of oats to sow along with discharge money to play with. Rod and I were everywhere that the women were at. Rod knew plenty of them all around town. We ran the streets hard for about 3 months unstoppable like chickens with their heads chopped off until my uncle Lester intervened. He told me it was time to slow down and handle my business. He told me a story, ‘ ‘ ‘
“ When a baby eagle grows up and the time comes for him to leave the nest. The father eagle flies the baby eagle a long distance from the nest. He then drops him in the air and from there the baby eagle is on his own”. His point was for me not to expect too much from my father or any man. I was a
now a man myself. My uncle Lester was aunt Lena’s husband who was my mother’s baby sister. He was always my favorite uncle although we were not biologically related. He told it the way it was. He
didn’t bar no holds for nobody. He was straight up. He loved his Early Times whiskey but as a World War II veteran he deserved it. His feet had been frost bitten from the extreme cold conditions during the war. He told me countless stories of his adventures in the army while in Germany fighting the Nazi’s. He had a great love and admiration for my father. He would love to tell me about
my father, David, Sr. David, Sr. seemed to be kind of a living legend in the roots part of town. He was the first Black man to drive a RC Cola truck which was something in the hood back in those days. It was a
White-man’s job. David, Sr owned and operated a few night clubs and was a big gambler as well in those days. He was also a Mason and stuck close to the black community in the hood. He had no aspiration to be high profile in the white mans world. His stomping ground was the area they called “The Bottom”. To this day many people are still afraid to be down in the Bottom.

In Shreveport, LA there was a lot to learn about the plight of Black people in America. I was now at the root of the Black man’s experience in America. I often contemplated on many social issues. Take for instance, in school we were taught the American dream concept. This is the land of freedom, opportunity and justice. Hard work will get you a great life with great rewards. Using that deduction
one might be prone to think that the White people who lived in the nice fine houses and mini mansions were the hard workers. The neighborhood where the Black people lived across the freeway the houses were small sub par and some dilapidated. One would assume that Black people were lazy and shiftless according to the narrative we were given in school about America being the land of opportunity for those who worked hard. After 3 months of running the streets with Rod, I learned that to be not true, I got a job in the plant at Louisiana Industries a cement products manufacturing company. My father drove a cement truck there at that time. Except for
management all the plant workers and drivers were 99% Black. The work was exhausting and grueling. It certainly was not work for a lazy man. The pay was ok I guess but it wouldn’t get you too far out of
poverty. Johnny Guitar Watson released the song “ Ain’t That a Bitch” in 1976. It was then 1977 and that song described the whole scenario. I worked there about 9 months and my father noticed that I was
playing the streets at night and trying to work all day. One day he told me, “ Either you should work or
you should play the streets but don’t try to do both. Pick one or the other. I don’t care which one, but just pick one” The streets won that battle. I already had caught a fine little woman named Sara. She was about 6 years older than me. She was always looking good like a movie star. She played the streets with class. She wasn’t a flat backer or what you would call a prostitute but she was one of the coldest shop
lifters in the area. A booster as we called them. She dressed me and I was sharp as a tack. She even had some preachers and their wives as customers. All she needed to know was what the customer wanted along with which store,size and the color. I was really impressed by her professionalism. The one thing I really liked about her was that she didn’t drink alcohol or use any drugs.

One of the uniquest Player’s in Shreveport at the time was a guy they called Rectangle. He was called Rectangle because his game was almost square but not quite. His game was tight and he had Shreveport on lock down. Rectangle had the streets in his grip along with the the square world in his pocket. He
ran the Sparrow Club and owned about 50 or 60 rent houses. He had many material assets. He was also a big player in the cash money world as well. He had several women that he referred to as his wives. They
worked jobs and all put their money together in one big pot. They all coexisted in their paradox. Along with his
3 main wives, a bunch of other women were vying to jump on board his band train. He dealt with women in the streets but his game was to elevate them to a higher place in life. The name of the game was everybody helping to elevate each other out of poverty while retaining your dignity, culture, soul and sense of Blackness. He had a great system to combat and escape the White Supremacy system that was established and
rooted in the South. Later years I found out that Shreveport was the last Capital of the Confederacy. The Confederates surrendered to the Yankees from Shreveport but this city was never plundered, seized or invaded by the Yankee Army. When the Yankee Army left out of this region, it was business as usual for the Confederates here. Actually the slaves in this area weren’t told they were free here until 2 months after the South surrendered. Black’s were banned from living in Shreveport during the Civil War and there shortly after. The Blacks in surrounding areas of Shreveport are also victims of the Juneteenth Holiday celebrated in Texas. Like the Texas Slaves they didn’t know they were free from slavery until 2 months after the Civil War ended. It seems like many Black’s in Shreveport didn’t get the “Free from Slavery” memo until Barrack Obama became president. This area is rooted in generational oppression without remorse or rectification for the atrocities of horrific past done onto Black Americans.

Black people from Louisiana have left a mark in America and across the world. They’ve left an imprint in music, politics, religion, culture, invention as well as being great con artists. In order to survive and live a dignified life under such an oppressive umbrella as Blacks have experienced. It takes what we call game. Knowing how to play the game for Massa was imperative to survial. Learning how to please Massa and be a good Nigger underling are the keys to learning how to be a great con artist. Black kids had to be taught how to act in order to survive in the White man’s world. Acting and smiling are 2 essential elements of being a successful con artist. People tend to confuse lying and cheating with conning. They are different things.

The game of life has rules as does all games. When you’re at the bottom, up is the only
direction you want to go. There are many ways routes get to there. I learned there are 3 types of men a Player, a Hustler and a Trick. A Trick is parallel in life to a Pond on the chess board. I always felt a bit of compassion and sorrow for the Tricks / Ponds but game is to leave them right where they are and keep getting your money. Even if you try to wake a Trick/Pond up, they won’t believe you anyway. They’ll fight you down and say you’re lying. They like making the same mistake over and over. Player is one who uses his wits to maneuver through the system but retains his pride and culture. All Players
seem to have a special touch with the ladies. The misinformed think that the word Player means play her but it doesn’t. Any Player whose platform is built on misusing women or anyone won’t last long in the game of life. Those are the ones who usually end up turning into Preachers where they pimp using the words of God. Real Players are not pimps or reformed preachers. Hustlers are a combination of the Trick/ Pond and the
Player. Hustlers will work hard to get things but without a solid plan. They don’t know what to do with it when they get it. They usually get tricked out of it by a Player one way or another. Also, Hustlers can become Ponds to the status qua within the system. Ponds/Tricks are those enslaved and blind to the
truth of things circulating in their world. They usually taken advantage of and seem to like it. Tricks/Ponds can can be dangerous when and if they ever detect what’s really going on. When used properly they can be very helpful. Just like in the game of chess when your Pond advances to the opposing player’s first rank. You then can replace the Pond with a higher ranking piece of your choice.

Many of the top Players and Hustlers across America have Louisiana roots and background.
In Louisiana notably North Louisiana the level of suppression,oppression and Black poverty in this capitalist system promotes the greed along with a lost sense of fairness and mortality. Cheating and scheming become the new norm also known as conning. Maybe that’s why Johnny Cochran from Shreveport was such a great lawyer. He’s noted for conning the jury into believing that OJ didn’t do it. Acting is the basis to conning someone. Blacks reared during segregation had to teach their children how to act in the presence of White people as well as how to know their place in society. In other words how to act in a situation no matter how you actually feel or think. The smiling face either way is the key that opens up the door for most con artists along with a good act.

During the 70’s there were large sums of cash money circulating in Shreveport although many people
didn’t see it and poverty was amidst. Shreveport was a hub for illegal underground gambling. I learned
to play with the Players and hustle with the Hustlers. In other words I learned the game from 2 different angles. The game just goes round and round.
I was in the mall one day with Sara and her crew. She always worked with a team. There was a young boy about 10 years old with his mother shopping for school clothes. I was dressed clean and sharp as a
tact. I reminisced back on how my mother would take me shopping for school clothes when I was a
kid. The young boy looked admiringly at me all dressed up looking dignified. My mothers words came into my mind, “ You never know how people get the things they have so don’t envy or worry about what people have. People will do all kind of wicked and unrighteous things to get the things they
have.” Here I was in this store with this boy looking at me with admiration but I was as down and dirty as they come. I was clean physically but I felt dirty and a disgraceful spiritually. I felt dirty. It was a feeling that I never forgot. As time passed I noticed that my biggest concern daily was to get my hair finger waved so I could hit the streets dressed to impress and looking fly as we called it. I wanted to be the top young Player in the streets. I had some great Players lacing me up with the game. I could wake up broke in the morning and by the end of the day I would have a stack of money. The best part was that I didn’t have to use a gun to rob anybody or burglarize anything for my cash flow. It was all with your conversation. Selling drugs was not a Player’s hustle in those days. This was way before crack attacked the Black Community but there were many other negative elements in the streets. I had been involved in a few shoot outs with Player
haters during the year and a half that I was in Shreveport. Nothing was adding up to what I thought life was really about. At one point I had even tried going to school.

I enrolled in Southern University on the
Cooper Road but found it difficult to be around those bright eyed bushy tailed students who didn’t
know the first thing about life. Most of them were my age but not with my experience or
understanding. I couldn’t find peace and my spirit wasn’t satisfied so back home to California I headed.

No one knew I was coming home not even my mother. I surprised everyone when I hit the Bay Area. I left Shreveport with a solid education on life down in the trenches from the roots of the Black American experience . The first song I heard when I arrived to the San Francisco Greyhound bus terminal was “Flashlight” by Parliament Funkadelics. A young Asian guy had it blasting on his
boom box at the terminal. It was the first time I had heard that song. It was ironic because it fit the vibe
of San Francisco with all the flashing lights and everything moving fast around me. Back in the city.
The vibes that I left back in Shreveport were laid back with the sound of insects chirping in the night. Shreveport’s vibe fit the song “Happy Feeling” released by the group Maze in 1977. In my opinion that song described the Shreveport vibe to a tee. It is also a classic and favorite in the Black Shreveport community.

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Published by Utopia West Creations