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Ghetto Celebrity: Searching for My Father in Me

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One dubious perk of growing up in the ghetto of small-town Sandusky, Ohio — ”the little, out-of-the-way hoods,” Donnell Alexander explains in his blustery though occasionally moving bildungs-memoir, ”are actually, like, extra-ghetto” — is the chance to later land a lucrative gig as a glossy magazine’s ”designated hipster.” At least that’s what Alexander concludes after ESPN The Magazine lures him away from L.A. Weekly to help sell urban cool to the white-suburban masses. Alexander’s insights into corporate culture can seem oddly naive, and he gratingly portrays himself as the only guy with a clue (whether in the alternative press or at a major media conglomerate). Overall, he is more effective exploring his conflicted feelings about his background, his interracial marriage, and the legacy of his father, a small-time musician, heroin addict, pimp, and charismatic ”ghetto celebrity” long before that became a marketable thing to be.

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