Me and …Rodney King?!

I was a bit startled yesterday to learn that a well-known person featured in a This is True story was in fact aware that I wrote about him.

Yes, that Rodney King. Here’s the story, from True’s 6 July 1997 issue:

A Fool and His Money are Soon Parted

Even after paying his lawyers, Rodney King still has some of the $3.8 million left from his civil judgement against the city of Los Angeles, Calif., for the 1991 beating he got by city police officers. “We want to give a real positive boost to the rap market,” King said of his new venture, Straight Alta-Pazz Recording Co. The company has recorded an album for the group Stranded, California Grindin, and is now looking for a distributor. First I was beat up / now I’ll sing this song / Just to ask the burnin’ question / can’t we all just get along?

And here’s the page from King’s 2012 autobiography (written with an actual writer, Lawrence J. Spagnola *), The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption:

The page shown is actually no longer available in True’s archive, but the story is above, from my own book, This is True: Artificial Intelligence Like Real Thing.

I find it a bit “weird” that someone considered being featured in This is True is some sort of media “appearance,” but there you go. Still, it’s quite unusual to hear of a True story subject being aware of being in a story. Some love it, some hate it,

Rodney King on 22 April 2012. (Photo: Justin Hoch CC2.0 via Wikimedia Commons, cropped.)

King barely lived to see his book: he was found drowned in his swimming pool on on June 17, 2012, just 33 days after its official publication date. A combination of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and PCP found in his system were ruled to be contributing factors in his death.

“Can’t we all just get along?” (used in my story’s tagline) is what most remember as his signature line, uttered during a TV appearance after the cops who beat him were acquitted of police brutality — resulting in the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It’s actually a paraphrase of what he said:

I just want to say – you know – can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids? And … I mean we’ve got enough smog in Los Angeles let alone to deal with setting these fires and things … It’s just not right. It’s not right and it’s not going to change anything. We’ll get our justice. They’ve won the battle, but they haven’t won the war. We’ll get our day in court and that’s all we want. And, just, uh, I love — I’m neutral. I love every — I love people of color. I’m not like they’re making me out to be. We’ve got to quit. We’ve got to quit; I mean after all, I could understand the first — upset for the first two hours after the verdict, but to go on, to keep going on like this and to see the security guard shot on the ground — it’s just not right. It’s just not right, because those people will never go home to their families again. And uh, I mean please, we can, we can get along here. We all can get along. We just gotta. We gotta. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s, you know, let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it, you know. Let’s try to work it out.

King’s book. (Amazon*)

So… how the heck did I happen across this yesterday? I was searching for something else on the Internet Archive and came to a screeching halt when I saw his book’s cover, somehow associated with me. It was a real what the heck?! moment, so naturally I searched the text for my name, found the reference, and took the quick screenshot shown above.

It’s truly astounding what one can find in the Internet Archive. For instance, are you a jazz fan? Browse through their collection of 78 rpm records! Just one of the reasons it’s one of several online-related non-profits I support.

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