the title above are the snapshots that happened in my head this morning.
i’m listening to leroi jones/amira baraka poetry on wkcr as i write this. i mention this on his seventy-fifth birthday. i grew up reading leroi jones and bristled with the name change. i did that with cassius clay, too. i was young and that’s what i was told to do, so i did it. i was told by the news i heard and read.
it was a little later, as i approached adulthood, that i understood and accepted the whys.
hearing his poetry played on the bed of jazz reminded me of my “innocent”- “racist” – “ignorance” being underscored headlines on the cover of the daily mirror, the new york news and the post or splayed onto the tv screen by the three (count-em) major networks and the three minor ones.
they, too, were ignorant innocent racists (even if they were wearing the suits of education and authority), the victims of a vast section of historical “white time” that extended for a millennia-plus, something that is losing its foothold in world history.
old habits die hard and the old-white-line is digging in for a long, bloody fight.
ask a republican.
thank goodness for the end of the world in 2012.
(don’t pay too much mind to me – it’s a shill for you to read my previous note).
i mentioned “leroi” first because it was the printed word i saw when i first read him, because it was my introduction and my gratitude that went to that black, ghetto-name before my cynicism would allow me to accept the proud african name.
“what? don’t you LIKE your american slave name?” – this was the accepted white argument i grew up with. sounds totally sane, doesn’t it?
that thing that tells me “a rose is a rose by any other name…”
it was like trying to walk through a snare-drum, an osmosis reality, before understanding it’s alright, the fifties moved to the sixties to the seventies….and on and on…..and remembering that walking-on-eggs excitement when i held hands with that black girl……knowing she was thinking the same thing…we were feeling like heroes for seconds at a time, safe in the notion that yes, it was ok – i made it to manhattan where they’re….not so…..,so these moments were exciting and dangerous, walking on the fence of hate from both sides.
listening to baraka’s poetry, his voice i haven’t heard in years and years, is making me woozy in a swirl of dreams and memories. his words were one thing; his voice, another. intermingling it with musical sounds and voices has been taking me away for a while now.
no one knows a poet’s voice like the poet.
you can quote me, for what it’s worth.
on second thought, don’t quote me.
no, never mind….go ahead. or get a hobby. if you go around quoting the likes of me, you might have too much time on your hands.
last night was the Bushwick BookClub’s “confederacy of dunces” by john kennedy toole.
i read the book a long way back and was amazed at how the characters and situations came back to me when the performers spoke about their journey with this book.
susan hwang opened the show because her macaroni had the number one drawn on it, which to me was fitting, because she’s the momma of the show and everyone one who followed were her “chirrens.” i could draw lines from the music and poetry i awoke to today to the author and the world of mr. toole in new orleans and rather than dwell on the past, it’s wiser to breathe in the history of the present and the hope for the future, another exercise in near-futility if not for the glimpse back to know that the future is designed for the hopeful more than the lost, or at least i can hope it is, anyway.
the bikes and the bands?