A Crack in the Room Tone

stories for a noisy world

by Fred Smith

September 22, 2019

I wasn't going to leave until he agreed to be in my movie, but for a guy with his own art palace and beer label, he sure seemed to have a knack for ducking attention.  

We were sitting in his kitchen and on our third round of his personal home brew when Evander Preston told me about why he chose to make the signature brew of his namesake brand a lig...

September 19, 2019

Arguably the greatest standup comedian of his generation, Dave Chappelle's most enlightened political joke was unleashed not during his 2019 Netflix special, Sticks and Stones, but nearly two decades ago on HBO.

At the turn of the 21st century, when he was just 27 years old, the artist with a once-a-generation gift for racial observation and transcendent...

August 16, 2019

On December 21, 1979, at just after 1 AM, thirty-three-year-old Arthur McDuffie left his girlfriend’s apartment in Miami’s Liberty City on his Kawasaki Motorcycle. 

While McDuffie’s intended destination that morning remains unknown, his fate is not. 

The insurance salesman and former US Marine was beaten to death by four Miami-Dade Police officers followi...

August 4, 2019

For a teenager from South Miami-Dade in the 1990s,  US-1  was a highway to mischief, mayhem, and memory.

Along its east and west banks were the sites and haunts of a teenage Miamian’s after-hours, high school  adventure.

For South Dade kids who came of age in the 1990s, US-1 was more than a road. It was a runway that led to life.

We knew t...

May 20, 2019

I'll admit it for you if, unlike the rest of the internet, you're still in denial. The series finale of Game of Thrones didn't satisfy. 

Sure, there were moments that reminded you why you've devoted yourself to HBO's flagship show for the better part of the last decade. I won't recap them. Chances are, you've already discussed them at...

May 15, 2019

“Having a bad day? Going nowhere fast? The economy making you tense? Afraid to walk the streets? Life in the ‘90s got you down? What are you going to do about it?”

So begins the voiceover from the trailer for the 1993 movie Falling Down, about (according to the film’s marketing department) an ordinary guy having a very bad day.

Here’s Falling Down’s basic...

April 30, 2019

Filmmaker John Singleton died yesterday at 51. Most will remember him for his 1991 debut Boyz N the Hood. I’ll forever remember him for the advice he gave me about storytelling.

He was already a Hollywood juggernaut when he spoke at the University of Florida in 1998. Boyz, had put him on the map.  Poetic Justice (1993) Higher Learning (1995)andRosewood (...

April 17, 2019

You could see it in their eyes. They weren’t the eyes of champions, confident and determined to do whatever it takes to win.

Watching hockey in hi-def on TV, even a casual fan can see two crucial things: the puck and the eyes of the players.

The eyes of the Lightning looked like those of over-matched players who knew they couldn’t win.

They weren’t game 7...

November 15, 2018

The charred corpse of Jesse Washington hangs from a utility pole. His ashen body is naked from the waist up, arms flexing like a body builder showing off his chiseled physique. A noose hangs around his neck.

Two white men pose in front of the body, each wears a sullen face typical of photography subjects from the early 1900s. Dozens of stoic black face...

July 25, 2018

I’m in love, have been since March 23, 2002. That was the day my twenty-five-year-old eyes first took in the woman who would one day become my wife.

I can cue the image on my mind’s movie projector as though the scene played for the first time mere moments ago. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in the college town of Gainesville, Florida. I’m standing in t...

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