True Story©... Better Traphouses and Bandos



     Life is fucking hilarious sometimes…

Back on 05/20, I was invited into a one on one with my manager and HER manager and informed that I was being furloughed on 05/26 and that it would last until 08/30.
     The way things were in play with unemployment eligibility and leave time payout, things were not framed to be as bad as one might have thought they should be.  I ain’t living like that though.  I know two speeds: “control” and “motherfucking panic.”  That said, I was NOT prepared to do anything short of wilding the fuck out.

     I finished the week and collected my holiday pay for Memorial Day, then came the panic.  I woke every day at my normal time, made my omelet and sat down to the computer and hopped on the Google machine to see if I could locate the name of someone who could put me in the direction of generating some income doing something I know how to do.  That said, I miraculously found myself with the contact information of a couple of television studio executives.
     And this is where it gets fun…

     I signed up for Zoom and starting on that Tuesday afternoon, I sent unsolicited invites to a conference wherein I would pitch my ideas to my captive audience until they eventually showed interest or hung the fuck up on me.
… and hang the fuck up on me, they did.  Except for one.

Me: “Good afternoon, sir.  Thank you for accepting my invite!”
Executive: “Do, I uhh…  Know you?”
Me: “No sir, but you should and I will see to it that you do soon.”
Executive: “Have a good day sir--…”
Me: “NO WAIT!”
Executive: “Sir, my time is very expensive and I cannot imagine a man who would start an unsolicited Zoom meeting shirtless and holding a puppy can pay my rates.”
Me: “Heheh, say hi to Shaggy Buddy.  Isn’t he a cutie?”
Executive: “Well, he is, but you’re burning up your time here.”
Me: “Aight, so check it.  I came to you with the idea of pitching a television network.”
Executive: “A…  Net…  Work?”
Me: “Yeah, I got big BIG dreams and what WAS one show turned into a collection of them.  If I could have some of your time to discuss them and perhaps get some direction?”
Executive: “I don’t like where this is headed, but I am intrigued.  You have 12 minutes left before my 2pm meeting.”
Me: “Okay.  Here goes.
The network is ‘Better Traphouses and Bandos, and in it I--…’”
Executive: “Traphouse?  Bando?”
Me: “Please, sir…  You have given me a time limit.  Don’t interrupt me.”
Executive: “Sorry”
Me: “So anyway, traphouses and bandos.  A traphouse is a hood dwelling in which felonies are enterprised, and a bando is an abandoned house which will become such.”
Executive: “I see, but a whole network?”
Me: “Yep!  And this might be poverty porn, but I feel like people would watch.”
Executive: “Poverty porn?”
Me: “Yeah, like a Tyler Perry movie.”
Executive: “…”
Me: “So anyway, my first idea is ‘Trap Kitchen’ and that is a cooking show in which we show viewers how to make a meal of things that would normally come through a traphouse kitchen.  Bear in mind that while there are usually more than a couple of stoves in a trap house, those stoves are not for cooking FOOD, but--…”
Executive: “Wait, what!?”
Me: “…  not for cooking food, but instead cooking DRUGS.  The more stoves, the more drugs”
Executive: “aahh…”
Me: “So anyway.  Since no one is cooking actual food, we explain how, without involving any cooking device more than a microwave, to take fast food – NOT delivery, since no unknown people can come to the door – and elevate it to make a tasty meal.”
Executive: “Insanity.”
Me: “Right?  Well wait until I tell you about ‘Some Seriously Gourmet Shit,’ where we--…”
Executive: “Look, I am FAR more interested in this than I want or ever expected to be.  This seems to be headed toward butting into my meeting.  I will be off site for the rest of the week.  Can we continue this next Tuesday, same time?”
Me: “You ain’t shuffling me off the phone, is you?”
Executive: “No, I promise!”

Get this shit, y’all.  I tried him back the next week, same time and he fuckin’ ANSWERED.

Executive: “Okay, when we left off, you said umm…  Pulp Fiction, or uhh--…”
Me: “Some Serious Gourmet Shit.  Good call catching the reference.”
Executive: “Thank you.  Let’s hear it.”
Me: “Okay.  So Traphouses and Bandos are typically in the hood, right?  Our mothers learned to make BANGING meals on no-frills budgets.  Imagine feeding a mother and three kids on the Wednesday and leftovers on Thursday before payday for under 7 dollars with tax.”
Executive: “Get the ff--…”
Me: “Nah, this shit is real.”
Executive: “Continue.”
Me: “Okay, so this shit is like Guy’s grocery games.  I give a single mother seven bucks and a ride to the store.  She cannot put anything back, has to shop out a meal; protein, vegetable and starch for four people.”
Executive: “No fucking way this is possib--…”
Me: “I swear to you, this happens in every city you’ve ever been in.”
Executive: “So, what is this, like a gameshow or what?”
Me: “No, this is all informational.”
Executive: “Informational?”
Me: “Yeah, some people such as yourself – but more dangerously people IN this situation – don’t even know that this is a thing, let alone possible.”
Executive: “Aye dios mijo.”
Me: “Right?”
Executive: “And how long is this show block?”
Me: “Thirty minutes, however many meals can be crammed into that segment.”
Executive: “Where do you come up with this shit?”
Me: “Ever grew up in the hood?”
Executive: “I, I--…”
Me: “Hell no you didn’t.”
Executive: “Verily, I have not.”
Me: “I know.”
Executive: “…”
Me: “So I got more ideas and don’t intend to infringe on your schedule.  Respect for your time bodes better for my prospects.”
Executive: “Wow, thanks.  You’re better at that than people I intend to meet with.”
Me: “Good.  See you next Tuesday”
Executive: “I see what you did there.”
Me: “Ha!”
Executive: “Sure.  What’s next?”
Me: “An idea I call ’Prison Kitchen,’ where we cook a spread of things that can ONLY be gotten from a prison commissary or easily smuggled away from the lunch line.”
Executive: “I’m afraid to cop to looking forward to it.”

     Okay, so now I got this cat on my side.  My ideas are TERRIBLY fucked up and this exec is more than likely to be exploiting the shit out of an already marginalized group to take this on, but I have him listening.  The unenjployment money has kept me whole during the time away from work, but I need something to occupy my TIME doing something other than bourbon and this man is it.  So anyway, Tuesday comes around…

Me: “G’day, sir.”
Executive: “No puppy today?”
Me: “My daughter is home, he is entertaining her.”
Executive: “And you have on a shirt, good touch.  Whatcha got for me today?”
Me: “Prison Kitchen.”
Executive: “Ahh, oh yeah.”
Me: “So check.  You start with Jack Mackerel in oil smuggled from the ACTUAL kitchen, some cheese crackers, a mirror and a lighter.”
Executive: “Wait, what?”
Me: “This is just an example.  Chill, I am going somewhere with this.”
Executive: “Okay”
Me: “Aight, so prison systems aren’t springing for salmon.  Mackerel is cheaper.  The crackers are a binder, the mirror is a cooking surface and--…”
Executive: “Holy shit, seriously?”
Me: “Talk to someone who has been in prison before, those negroes are like Macgyver for the most mundane shit ever.”
Executive: “Wow”
Me: “So anyway, skim off the oil and keep it to cook in, crush the crackers up good and mix with the fish like you would salmon croquettes.  Heat the mirror and cook SLOWLY.”
Executive: “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
Me: “I personally know three guys who came from prison to culinary school.”
Executive: “So…”
Me: “This was an example, I can do at least a 10-episode season of these.”
Executive: “I need to get out more.”
Me: “You do.”
Executive: “Heh”
Me: “So…  Same bat time, same bat channel?”
Executive: “Hell yeah!”

     Let me just say…  I am not much of the opinion that this will go ANYWHERE, but he and I are quite apparently in this for the same reason.  He is entertained and I am killing an hour of my day every Tuesday.
     Tuesday arrives…

Me: “I call this one ’Flop or Flip,’ where--…
Executive: “…  this one is real estate related isn’t it?”
Me: “Yep, is it obvious?”
Executive: “Well only based on our conversations.  Let’s hear it.”
Me: “I like to think of this one as a ‘Gentrification game’  Like one of those shows where a couple where neither has a job that is an actual occupation has some INSANE 7-figure budget?”
Executive: “I fucking hate those.”
Me: “Everyone does.”
Executive: “Truth.”
Me: “So anyway.  Gentrification game.  A white couple traverses an ‘up and coming inner city neighborhood’ in search of a house to purchase and fix up a little, thereby bringing up the property value of those around it and thereby pricing the people who live in the neighborhood out.”
Executive: “Gaaahdamn, that is AWFUL!”
Me: “No, wait!  I am, again, inferring that you’ve not spent much time in and around the hood.”
Executive: “Agreed.”
Me: “So to our original conversation over a month ago, a great many houses appear to be abandoned from the street.”
Executive: “I recall.  But if someone has made a bando into a traphouse, then it is not technically ‘empty’”
Me: “Bingo”
Executive: “So, how does one know?”
Me: “Trap house dog.  A pit bull or a Rottweiler or four on a big chain with old tires around them.”
Executive: “At an abandoned house?”
Me: “ESPECIALLY at an abandoned house!  Dogs bark and let the people inside know to hide their illicit dealings before the cops get to the door.”
Executive: “But this show, how does that relate?”
Me: “You think some suburban-ass gentrifiers know that?”
Executive: “It seems not.”
Me: “So that becomes the game!  Is this an available house to be flipped, or is it someone’s flop house?  Flip or Flop.”
Executive: “Holy shit!”
Me: “Right.  Getting this answer wrong could have dire consequences.”
Executive: “I imagine.”
Me: “So yeah, the show follows house flippers through random hoods around the south gambling their lives on this.”
Executive: “Ouch.”
Me: “So you got me penciled in for next Tuesday?”
Executive: “Damn yeah!”



      It wasn’t to be though.  Behind the scenes, my management was fighting to get me returned early to work.  My 12 week furlough was shortened to six, so my every-Tuesday sale pitch was replaced with actual work this time.
My new friend and I have spent the time conversing over emails and text messages and he is still picking my brain over ideas for episodes of the four shows I threw at him, as well as more.  It has only been a week now, but I swear before God if he calls me with the right offer, I won’t be compelled to worry myself over furlough ever again.

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