Let me start off by thanking all my friends, fans & followers for their suggestions. Although I ended up going off on my own in picking a name for my column here on The Urban Twist, all the ideas were very helpful as I seemed thoroughly incapable of even brainstorming about this. Imagine that, a Word Pimp at a loss for words.
The ideas ranged from witty to funny to borderline offensive. If I wasn’t friends with most of those who offered their two cents, I might even think some were a tad bit racist. No worries, none of my buds are from Arizona, I think. Anyway, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention at least some of their ideas:
FAQ, Hustlin’, The World’s Oldest Profession, Word Pimp Parking Only, Downtown & Brown, Mano a Quijano, Defacto Facto, Letters from the Urbanground, Screwtape Blogging, View from Below, Spicy con Queso, The Pimp Stops Here, Street Beat, Pimpology 101, Pimplicious, Pimpology, Pimpbonics, Pimp-nut-butter, Pimpqueso, Pimp & Beans, Word on the Street, Street Talk, & Pimped on Phonics
There were a few I seriously considered. A friend and co-worker from back in the day, Shelly Brooks (¡Happy Birthday, Shelly!), offered Straight Pimpin’. That appealed to me because of the pimp reference and the fact that I try my best not to sugarcoat the issues I discuss in my column. My neighbor, Kristina Stewart, offered Pimp Slap, which works on a certain level considering how I often try to use my column as a wake up call, or a slap to those unaware of how important some of the issues I discuss are and how they affect us all. Although I originally dismissed View from Below, one of my old pal Josh Collier’s many ideas, it came closest to what I ultimately wanted to represent, a voice for those on the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder, for the many who don’t generally have a voice.
I won’t bore you with a bunch of details. If you’ve kept up with my column or my blog, you already know plenty about my background. I’m straight from the bottom, baby. If anybody knows what life is like there, I do. If anybody can relate to those still there, I can. I’ve worked hard enough to have pulled myself up to a typical middle class existence, but I’ve never let that distract me from my origins. Shit, if I don’t find a job real soon, I’m going to find myself right back down there in no time.
From the Bottom Up doesn’t just represent a voice for the most disadvantaged among us, though. It’s also symbolic of my personal journey. I know I’m nowhere near the top, at least not yet; but I’ve worked, fought and occasionally scammed my way to where I am today. More importantly, I’m still fighting. I don’t know who will ultimately read my column, but my hope is that I can eventually offer at least a bit of inspiration to some who are still deeply engrossed in the struggle, particularly those who feel there is no way up. I truly believe that it’s that sense of hopelessness that leads to many of the problems plaguing our inner cities today.
It’s that same sense of hopelessness in poor, underdeveloped regions around the world that psychologists and terrorism experts point to as creating the perfect recruits for extremists needing suicide bombers and the like. Yet, we continue to ignore those same problems in our own cities. Okay, so maybe ignore is too strong a word, but we certainly don’t pay them the type of attention they truly deserve. Today, we’re still plagued with the same issues when I was coming up: poverty, drug & alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, terrible schools, high dropout rates, STDs, etc. I’ve been around for forty years, and little has changed. I don’t claim to have the solutions, but if nobody talks about them openly and honestly, how the fuck are we ever going to find them?
For my part, I will continue to let everyone willing to listen know exactly what it’s like to be on the bottom.
Fernando Quijano III is the former President of the Maryland Writers Association, Baltimore Chapter. His work has been featured in Welter, Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore & the poetry anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. An excerpt from his unpublished novel, Forever, Lilith was included in the Apprentice House anthology Freshly Squeezed. He has been featured at the Baltimore Book Festival, Stoop Storytelling, & The Signal on WYPR, Baltimore's local NPR station. In his spare time, Fernando volunteers to lead workshops for Writing Outside the Fence, a program for the ex-offender community, as well as at the Brock Bridge Correctional Facility. Fernando was recently awarded a B grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.