04 April, 2011
Review: Ice by Ice-T and Douglas Century
If you're American you probably know Ice-T as either an actor, a rapper or as a symbol for what's wrong with the country. I think we need to flip that over and look at Ice as a symbol of what's right with our country. Ice is every American myth distilled into one man. Orphaned? Check. Troubled relationship with remaining family? Check. Lived in a war zone and / or wore our uniform? Check that twice. Self made man? Strong personal values? Honest about his faults? Works with our youth? Faced down political enemies? Willing to compromise? Strong work ethic? Whatever you've got on that Great American list you can go ahead and check it off. I have long respected Ice-T, but if the book was bad I'd tell you straight. So would he.
It's not. Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood (who titled this thing?) is fantastic. It's his voice, it's his story, it's uncompromising, and it's valuable. If you pay attention, you might learn something. Plenty of people have judged Ice without really knowing much about him. Was he a criminal? Yes. I would argue that there are any number of criminals respected in this nation, and Ice is far more honest than most in repudiating the sins of his youth. He's also a man capable of facing down the right and left when his career was hijacked to serve political interests. Faced with a public stoning, he reinvented himself and thrived. (Even at the time I found it ironic that the man doing the most to speak out against gang violence and thug life was being demolished as a symbol of the same. America, bunch of idiots, God love us.)
If nothing else, it's a good read. If you pay attention, it's a real look at how America eats it's own and what a person with integrity can do to stay ahead of the mob.