It is FOR and ABOUT authors. Here we shine the light on authors who we’ve read, reviewed and recommend to others. In this edition we are shining our light on another gifted author…
Baye McNeil is a writer, blogger, teacher, and amateur photographer from Brooklyn, New York. He has been living in Japan for nearly a decade where he is known by the moniker Loco due to the success of the blog he founded in 2008 called Loco in Yokohama. LIY has risen to become one of most famous Japan-related English language blogs in the country mostly on the strength of thoughtful and incisive posts about life in Japan for a black New Yorker since 2008 and his courage to take on controversial subject matter such as race and identity.
He is also the founder of Hunterfly Road Publishing through which he published his first book on race relations both in New York and Japan called: Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist. It has been well reviewed and was listed as one of the top books of 2012 by noted book critic Kam Williams.
He teaches JHS English in Yokohama Japan, where he has resided for the past decade, and just happens to be the setting of his upcoming collection of humorous anecdotes and thought-provoking essays entitled: Loco in Yokohama. This title will be published in early Autumn 2013. He will also be publishing a photo essay on street and subway life in Japan through the eyes of a perpetual outsider called Loco's Motives in early 2014.
McNeil has a pretty active cyber-life. He posts and interacts with friends and fans daily on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr and several others. While McNeil's life is his work, he enjoys his down time which he spends reading books, playing basketball with his boys, watching a crap load of movies, eating Ramen by the vat, and luxuriating at Japan's ample hot springs.
GETTING TO KNOW BAYE…
What is your favorite TV show of all-time, meaning you've seen all episodes, can watch it over and over again and quote lines from it? Definitely "The West Wing." Best writing, directing, character development. Funny, moving, educational, sophisticated, complex characters. Can't ask for more. All seven seasons I watch at least once a year, West Wing-a-thons get me pumped and ready to write. I loved when President Bartlett would say, "OK, what's next!" His favorite line.
What is your favorite cereal? Without a doubt, Honeycombs, with Corn Pops (formerly Sugar Pops) a close second.
What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name? Actually, I did choose my own name, Baye, when I was six years old. It's a long story but the short version is I went to an elementary school where every student had to have an African name, and we were encouraged to choose it ourselves. I chose Baye, and the name has been with me ever since.
What did you want to be when you were little? First dream job: Motor Man for the NYC Transit Authority. I've wanted to drive a train all my life and that fascination with trains continues til this day.
If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be and with whom?
I would go back to Bequia, a tiny island off the coast of St. Vincent in the Grenadines. Most beautiful place I've ever been. And I would probably be accompanied by the amour du jour.
If you had a 60-second Super Bowl advertisement, what would you want to show a billion people? I would try my best to encapsulate in 60 seconds exactly how fear works, how to identify it and how to overcome it. In my opinion, fear, in its many manifestations, is culpable in virtually every serious problem that confronts us as a species, anywhere on this planet. If we could just recognize it, in all of its forms, and address it perhaps one day we'd be able to overcome it and together progress to that Higher Ground Stevie Wonder sang of and John Lennon Imagined.
If you could be any age again, how old would you be? If I could know what I know now, I'd like to be 14. Then I would have stayed away from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and spent most of my free time at a piano or with a guitar, paintbrush, microphone or pen in hand. If not, 35. That's about the time I started figuring out who I was and what I was capable of accomplishing in this lifetime.
If you could have a conversation with someone from history who would it be? Probably Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston. I'd catch Michael right after "Off the Wall" and give him a good talking to. "OK, OK, but just the nose, Michael. Lay off the rest of your face. And, er, how do I put this? No sleep-overs with kids, awight? The kids'll love you to death, but, their parents? And, geezus, the goddamn press? They will make you wanna scream 'til you OD!" And, I'd catch Whitney while she's scoping out Mr. Brown at the Soul Train Music awards. "Bobby? Really? I mean, he's got something, undeniably, and he's pretty ambitious, but c'mon...what happened with Eddie Murphy? OK, OK, if you must, just hit Bobby off. But then keep it moving. Believe me, he's a one-night stand...at best!"
The strangest thing I have ever eaten is: Natto. Basically fermented beans. The kind of thing I dreaded seeing and smelling when I was a kid is a breakfast staple in Japan so naturally I've tried it. Unlikely I'll ever try it again, though.
Friendship and laughter…are essential to any relationship. When all the hoopla is over, when the romantic moments become far and few between, when the funds are low, or the debts are high, when illness or tragedy strike, when sex isn't as high a priority as it used to be, if you find yourself with someone you actually like to be around, that you share common interests with, and that you can laugh with, you'll likely come through it together.
PRAISE FOR HI! MY NAME IS LOCO AND I AM A RACIST
“I was genuinely caught off guard by this book in so many ways. I didn't hope to laugh as much as I ended up doing, but I never expected to cry. The book blew me away on three different levels…I expected to read a really long blog about Japan made into a book. I got the best damn read I've had in the last 10 years by a man who has proven to me beyond any doubt that he is a uniquely talented writer, who I hope gets this into print, and writes much more.” - Hikosaemon
“I laughed. I cried. I read it again. Thanks to Baye for laying it out there with intense honesty, helping me realize I'm a racist too.” - Rob Nugen
“This review doesn't do justice to the writing skill of McNeil, and the way he bares himself for his reader. Not only does he write about facing his own racist feelings throughout his life, he invited the reader to do the same. It isn't pretty, but it is honest and worth the trip…This book is important for those who will let it be important to them.” - Vincent Golden
“This book is a truth like it has never been told. I've been in Japan for the past 20+ years and felt as if Loco had somehow followed me around all this time and now writing parts of my story…This is a very well written book and I recommend it to anyone in Japan, coming to Japan or just interested in the country, & culture. Thanks you Loco for telling our story.” - Chris
“Kudos to Baye for looking a very ugly demon in the face, grabbing it by the horns, and getting the upper hand in dealing with it. Of course, the demon is racism--a topic that Baye explores in all its colors, ranging from what some people think is ‘benign’ to its downright ugly and nasty forms…this book made me uncomfortable at times and made me think too hard. But I really am glad I read it and appreciate the brain activity it stimulated as well as the emotions it evoked. I sincerely mean it. I learned a lot about myself in the process and highly recommend ‘Hi! My Name Is Loco and I Am A Racist.’” - Kan Yamamot
“Beyond being a open discussion about racial tensions and pressures in America and the world, Baye's own story is compelling…Ultimately, what I enjoyed most about this book is the way that it showcases how overwhelming stereotypes can be and how insignificant they become in one-on-one relationships. And I love how Baye constantly looks for (and generally finds) the good in others and in himself. I highly recommend this book as a fabulous tale and a needed lesson.” - Ellen Weeren
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