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Having grown up in late-sixties South Central Los Angeles, Gary Phillips vividly recalls stories of what happened to brothers who ran afoul of the “polices” of the 77th Division. Small wonder that in his teens he organized against police abuse, later became active in the antiapartheid movement, was down against the contras, did duty as a labor rep, worked for a political action committee, and taught incarcerated youth. So of course matters of race, class, and the social fabric, along with influences of blaxploitation films and Jack Kirby comic books, permeate his crime and mystery stories. The Underbelly is a novella about a semi-homeless Vietnam vet searching for a disabled friend gone missing from Skid Row. It’s a solo sortie where the flashback-prone protagonist must deal with gentrification, kick-ass community organizers, an elderly sexpot, a magical skull, chronic-lovin’ knuckleheads, and the perils of chili-cheese fries at midnight. The Underbelly is illustrated with photos and drawings.
A rollicking interview wherein Phillips riffs on Ghetto Lit, politics, noir and the proletariat, the good negroes and bad knee-grows of pop culture, Redd Foxx and Lord Buckley, and wrestles with the future of books in the age of want.
anti-establishmentarianism, war veteran, Los Angeles, detective, hustlers, recovering addict, community organizers, homeless PI