(To tell you more about why I really really like it would give too many spoilers away so I won’t)
I can say this: I laughed so hard while reading it that a stewardess asked me if something was wrong with me. I’m not kiddin.
That said, in the script I read, in places the film was also waaaay over the limit of most African American sensibilities …
There were things I felt I didn’t want or need to see…even if it is in an Goodbye Uncle Tom or Inglorious Basterds-style exploitation film..
Those images: All you traditionally think about slavery and more.
Tossed into the meat grinder of Tarantino’s violent zany sensibility.
That said, I cant wait. To see how he handled the tone of those scenes. Is it possible to juxtapose a dark violent scene or antebellum image with a James Brown song and make the striking images on the screen say something different? make images of slaves dance or strut in a new way?
all while making the audience clap laugh pump its fist etc? Is it possible to remake Shaft as an antebellum superhero? to have a modern black audience relate to this story in a way we don’t typically relate to such subject matter? to pull a revenge tale Kill Bill or Inglorious Basterds on the horrors of slavery?
Tarantino’s simply a genius at cultural provocation and transgression…yakking on about dead nigger storage…while his black wife (or was she asian? can’t tell because we never truly saw her face) comes home in PULP FICTION…
and he’s up to more of his tricks here…some that will make you fall out of your seat and roll in the aisles with laughter like I did on the plane…and some that will make you look out the window and say, “Wow. What the f–k. Is he really gonna film that?”
And now the trailer’s finally here…so we can all get a first glimpse at what’s going on in Tarantino’s first “Southern…”
And here’s QT himself speaking on the intentions of the project and describing what he means by this new genre he calls a “Southern”:
“I’d like to do a Western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject that everybody is afraid to deal with. Let’s shine that light on ourselves. You could do a ponderous history lesson of slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. Or, you could make a movie that would be exciting. Do it as an adventure. A spaghetti Western that takes place during that time. And I would call it ‘A Southern.’”
Lastly, here’s some pics from the world of the coming film….
In South Africa, there is a rampant phenomenon known as corrective rape…
throughout the country men are raping lesbians in an attempt to “cure” their sexual orientation…
(watch an excellent Dan Rather corrective rape report here…)
overall the statistics are alarming…
In general, South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world: 1 in 2 women can be expected to be raped at least once in her lifetime, and 1 in 4 men admitted that they had committed rape at one time or another.
Even the president Jacob Zuma has been charged with rape.
According to court testimony, he raped the daughter of his deceased friend: a 31-year-old woman and family friend at his home in Forest Town, Johannesburg. She was an AIDS activist and HIV positive. Zuma knew this, and yet he did not use a condom. He told the court that to reduce the chance of contracting the disease he took a shower afterward. He also told the court that he believed the victim was sending him sexual signals by wearing a knee-length skirt and no underwear under her kanga, or wrap, and sitting with her legs uncrossed, and that it was his duty, as a Zulu man, to satisfy a sexually aroused woman.
These comments bring the recent controversial painting of Zuma rendered by the white South African painter Brett Murray into a new light. The painting is named The Spear, and in it, Zuma stands bravely like a Russian Lenin, a defiant champion of the people–and yet, there is something off with the civilized depiction, for he is nude from the waist down.
(Above please see the Brett Murray painting in question alongside its proxy, an actual portrait of Vladimir Lenin.)
With Zuma’s rape charge in mind, I would argue now that Zuma’s exposed loins are thereby revealed to be a brutal weapon, a weapon of twisted tradition and history, the embodiment of South African misogyny, patriarchy, and violence against women–and by extension, yes, the violence of Africans and Christians against the LGBT community. (Let’s not conveniently forget that South Africa is predominantly a Christian nation. And before Muslims rejoice at the savagery of Christians: let’s also remember that in 2011, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation led a walkout of Muslim states from the Human Rights Council in Geneva because they thought the gay rights legislation promoted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would promote “licentious behavior” and lead to the “legitimization of many deplorable acts, including pedophilia and incest.”)
The Spear painting has been vandalized, and there have been uprisings and arguments regarding its significance- with black Africans incensed that a white South African could disrespect the ANC president by exposing his painted penis to the world. But I wonder why these same Africans are not rioting in the streets over the victimization of women in general, and the rape and murder of lesbian women in particular, and the terrifying shouts of “We’ll show you you’re a woman” that resound in the night as these lesbians are raped and stabbed across South Africa.
The perverse irony is that, legally speaking, South Africa is ahead of America in the legal struggle for gay rights, and certainly ahead of Africa, and much of the world.
When the ANC came to power in 1994, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the anti-apartheid crusader Reverend Allan Boesak supported gay rights, and in 1996, President Nelson Mandela spearheaded the adoption of a constitution that overturned sodomy laws, and gave the LGBT community rights in areas such as adoption, immigration, inheritance, and medical aid. Gays now serve openly in the South African military, and in 2004, the South African common-law definition of marriage was changed to include same-sex marriage.
On paper and in the courts South Africa is one of the freest, most loving places in the world.
But in the streets and in the townships the battle continues against ignorance, against violence, against hate, against bigoted police officers, hateful Christian ministers, and THE SPEAR, Africans that believe “gayism” is un-African, and that “jackrolling”–rape by organized gangs–is the only cure.
How this African attitude toward gayness corresponds with black American attitudes and black church attitudes toward the LGBT community is the subject of a study or documentary I’d love to to see…
Until then, please pick up the May 28, 2012 New Yorker, read “Violated Hopes” by Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and support the movement to stop the madness.
You can begin your fight for change by leaving thoughts, comments and questions below.
Thanks for listening. And as we fight, may we all keep laughing to keep from crying.
I wanted to say something profoundhereaboutthebeastieboysthenijustsaid
and letchrismartin sing
itscrazywhen you’re in the studio
emotion and reflections and memory bends
and things get hard to put into words outside of the songs you’re working on
so hopefully this will be enough
to impart what MCA meant to all of us
in music art culture
the spiritual guru indie chief creative of our generation
until the next one: everyone in art and culture please follow MCA’s guidance on “Sure Shot”
“I want to say a little something that’s long overdue/ The disrespect to women has got to be through/ To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end.”
we will miss you man
isn’t this coldplay rendition scary?
proof that all great songs (no matter what the genre)
at their root sound hmmm a lil like coldplay? kindassssssscary
For an album to be classic, truly classic, it should ALPHA AND OMEGA: It should absolutely stand as the sharp beginning of something new in culture as well as a rupture, the demise of something else.
Unfortunately this story of a classic album also includes the ALPHA and OMEGA of the artists themselves, for like many narratives in the black community nowadays, this story will start with African prodigies and geniuses and end with jail time, empty pockets, dumb beefs, and crack pipes.
One prodigy. Four geniuses. And two crack pipes to be exact.
Crack pipe No. 1 belongs to J-Swift. Musical child prodigy. Primary music producer of this album, one of the greatest albums of all time. Watch him produce this album, produce the “Letitgo (Sherm Stick Edit)” remix for Prince…and then…then off to disappointment, off to jail…off to crack cocaine…
Crack Pipe No. 2 belongs to Fatlip…
Who went out to buy Fat Lip’s 2005 classic opus The Loneliest Punk? No one. Because Fat Lip isn’t a star. His mesmerizing Spike Jonz video “What’s Up Fatlip?” (see the video below) highlights his falling out from the Pharcyde, his search for an illustrious solo career, his descent into crack addiction…it’s one of the most riveting, painful hip hop videos ever made…but you’ve never seen it because it isn’t pop…and he isn’t a star….
Like Slim Kid Tre said, Shit falls quicker than a local hero zero.
I regret to inform you that I’m not a Pharcyde scholar. I don’t know the nature of the many personal contentions and beefs that define the group’s history: why J Swift fell out with the group over credits on their first amazing album, why Fat Lip just had to go (maybe the cocaine had something to do with it), why they couldn’t put the pieces back together.
But I do know that they changed my life, the way all great art should.
It’s ironic that their classic album is now being reissued with a puzzle. Almost makes you want to laugh. It’s as if they want our help, they need all the hands in America to put their souls back together again.
It’s been twenty years since The Pharcyde released Bizarre Ryde II The Pharcyde, Kanye West’s favorite album, and one of the greatest musical recordings ever made. And it’s been twenty years since the Pharcyde came steamrolling onto the rollercoaster of the music industry, received four mics in The Source, and their song and video “Passin’ Me By” changed the face of hip hop and pop culture forever.
“Passin’ me By” makes everything, all the acclaim, simple to understand. It’s just simply the most beautiful, innovative hip hop love song ever made. Musically, the foundation is perfect. Jimi’s backwards guitar from “Are You Experienced” and the strolling warm ass bass from Quincy’s “Summer in the City,” feeling like a fine ass girl’s legs wrapped around you on a summer day. Then here come the voices, like zany forlorn spirits, crooning and doo wopping and rapping about the dopest ethiopians and after that, you never hear hip hop the same, or see love and the world the same way again…
Wow. That was twenty years ago. It’s now Record Story day in April 2012, and most of the white indie rock hipsters around me are looking for records that include stained panties or small vials of human blood. Indie rock groups always want to take things to another level: this time the Flaming Lips (God bless em) are releasing a small batch of records that come with vials of actual human blood. Guess you have to find a way to top actual human skulls that come stuffed with USB drives.
Which I guess is all quite fascinating if you’re white and have lots of money and umpteen cool limited releases and bootleg remastered vault box sets to keep up with.
But things are different on the black side of town. Our greatest, most classic musical moments, are treated like flies.
But that’s another subject, for a rainier day.
Because this is an anomaly, a triumphant occasion, a $80 celebration, A BOX SET ILLUSTRIOUSLY PACKAGED of a 20-year old classic hip hop recording: The Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde: The Singles Collection Music Box.
Wow. PAN from left to right toward the proverbial little boy under the Christmas tree. ZOOM IN ON EXPANSIVE GAPTOOTHED GRIN. This box set doozy comes complete with limited edition colored “7 inch singles, a double CD of remixes and instrumentals, a poster, a puzzle featuring the classic album cover, unreleased music, liner notes by J-Swift…the box even plays “OH SHIT” when you open it, which is enough to make you say… AWWWWW SHIT!!
So everyone black, everyone white in America, all together now, just nod and say YESsssss. Party over here Party over there There’s a Party right here There’s a party in ya mouth bitch….
Yes. It makes sense to start there.
With the last echoing words on a classic album, doesn’t it?
I get back to Wondaland and rip the packaging off like a speedy robotic auto-unwrapper. Ladies and Gentlement, he has just taken the cellophane off in a world record .7 seconds flat! Amazing! He must be one excited motherfucka! They say this particular auto-unwrapper began his illustrious career under his grandma’s Christmas tree in El Dorado, Arkansas sometime in the 1980’s…
I put the Pharcyde puzzle together, while listening to Slim Kid Tre hang upside down and croon she’s passing me by. I laugh as OH SHIT plays when I open the box. I open it. And close it. And laugh hard every single time like I’m hearing OH SHIT again for the very first time. It’s simply too good to be true.
And I look at the way the sunlight refracts rainbows out of the colored vinyl of each small 7” record before I play it.
To put it mildly, I enjoy the lavish Singles Club collection immensely…
Go somewhere, anywhere. And play the Soul Flower instrumental loud enough for the sun to hear it. And I guarantee it will bloom and change your day.
Overall, the collection bangs, and in general, the instrumentals and remixes make me laugh and scrunch my face, but more than anything, the collection makes me miss the regular Bizarre Ride album: its presentation, its flow and sequencing, the way the hilarious ideas bounce and ricochet off each other, and the way the horns and drums and words tell a story as they move back and forth from speaker to speaker…
As the instrumentals and acapellas of the Singles Collection plays, I feel like I’m listening to an extended trailer, instead of enjoying the full film I love…
And then the revelation suddenly hits me: this album was the apex and the end of the rap group, of genius communalism in hip hop.
I love Digital Underground, A Tribe Called Quest, the Fugees, Black Sheep, Souls of Mischief, Digable Planets, Das EFX, Public Enemy, Outkast, Wu Tang, the Roots, all the last great hip hop groups of the ’90’s. And now you have Odd Future, and underground collectives from NY to Atlanta to the Bay.
But it’s different now. Now it’s every star for himself. It’s kinda like we watched the killer bees from the Wu Tang Clan collective fly out of the hive for their own solo releases and never come back.
Now we have cliques, G.O.O.D. Music, Cash Money, etc, but these cliques are just conglomerations of singular stars. Pop stars. Lil Wayne. Drake. Nicki Minaj. All pop stars. They hop on each other’s albums and walk red carpets together, while wearing Japanese streetwear or French shoes. They croon pop songs, using AutoTune. They’re indistinguishable sometimes from everything else out there thumping on the radio and the dance floor.
Ya mama’s a sellout nigga. Ya mama did a pop tune, nigga.
Outside of the Roots (who seem on a career-long project to keep communal black genius, particularly in its live format alive), collective hip hop is over.
And you can’t tell where Trey Songz or Chris Brown begins and where Drake or Kanye ends. And that’s all by design.
Bizarre Ride was also the end of fun. Back in the day a great hip hop album had fun songs, songs that made you jump up and dance for dancing’s sake—unmitigated shocks of fun that were frequently dance songs masquerading as epic battle or cartoon dis records. Pharcyde’s playful dis record “Ya Mama” walks in a continuum of fun dis anthems such as Whodini’s “Big Mouth,” LL Cool J’s “You Can’t Dance,” damn near anything by Fresh Prince from “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” to “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and who can forget Run DMC’s “You Talk Too Much” (see the video below)? “Ya Mama” was the last perfect dis song of this wildly different era: when black men were still having unmitigated fun at the microphone, throwing language back and forth instead of guns and hos, playing the dozens like dominoes in a day when nobody died, when beef was something you ate, not something you shot somebody over.
And hip hop used to sound like hip hop— but it doesn’t anymore. It’s dangerous today for it to sound like anything other than pop or what might be loosely described as what’s left of R & B.
(That said, what is the perfect form of hip hop from a musical standpoint? Whole swaths of classic hip hop sound like new wave, heavy metal/hard rock, soul, dub, and disco, not to mention the forays into jazz, JB breakbeats and the P Funk synths and choruses….)
But back in 1992, when Bizarre Ride was released, it was a different, classic and innovative hip hop era, lyrically, rhythmically, thematically, musically—on almost any level, and under any criteria, that era’s hip hop kicks this era’s ass. Period. It was what I call the “BEHOP” era of rap. I call it that because there was a bebop level of proficiency in terms of the production of the music itself, and there was also a brave understanding of the hip hop collective, the discipline and creativity it took to build a classic hip hop experience in an almost jazz combo sense. I mean to say that every lyrical voice in the classic behop ensemble was unique, a singular cadence, color, worldview and timbre unto itself. The voices, like horns, had their own sound. Ice Cube vs. Ren or Dre. Q Tip vs. Phife. Butterfly vs. Doodleug and Ladybug. Andre vs. Big Boi. On back to everybody’s rhythmic lyrical ancestor: Rakim (vs. the world??). That list could go on and on. And the producers and writers were Ellingtonian jazz conductors, painting with sound.
Here’s how the Pharcyde version of classic behop sounds. The drums and horns zip around and attack like nervous beasts in a zoo, barely contained. And every once in a while a beast lunges at the bars, forcing you to jump, forcing you out of yourself, forcing you to bullshit, to party, to chant a thousand chants a minute, nonsensical mantras about jigaboo time, about shooting robbers and getting away with it, about masturbating or unknowingly making out with a transvestite or falling in love with your teacher or about needing zigzags or existential questions like how long can you freak the funk just how long can you freak the funk??
What does this even mean who cares why is my body moving like thissssssssss
I repeat, THE DRUMS ARE BEASTS: they force you do things you would never do like shuddering while sanging
We shot him in the ass on the downstroke we shot him in the ass on the downstroke
It’s a madman’s teaparty, as imagined by Ishmael Reed and Frank Zappa, like a zany opera about a jheri curl possee in the 80’s, all zoned out on speed and Fat Albert animation. Like Cooley High. On crack.
The psychedelic tempo, the uptight drums, the summery rolling upright bass, the Richard Pryor-like acoustic piano skits, and the drums, the drums, kicking like elephants…everything is rising, taking you higher: You shudder as the album cover opens up, and you slip off, you ride the painted rollercoaster off into the sky, into a fanged vagina…
Are those ants all over your hands? Are you masturbating? Are you going up or down? Falling or flying? Funking or fucking? Who cares?
You awake to see that the songs are still playing. You’re locked in a nightmare paradise of blackness, full of big cartoon hips that have herpes, and cops that shoot flowers, and fatlipped prophets that doo wop spooky premonitions about a black president fixing the economy. The scratches are still rocking the room, constant deep slashes of ultra-rhythm, pushing the neverending jokes— they’re the equivalent of Jimmy Nolen’s guitar, stretching the groove, pushing the laughs and the tears blacker and further in dynamic, darker directions. The vocals punch in and out, like jazzy uppercuts, like demented horn players that most likely can’t play a lick off stage, but are ingenious right now, miraculously gathered around this microphone, together. And the music is a mixture of samples and live instrumentation and drunken melodies that seem to come from everywhere: jazz, metal, folk, funk, psychedelic rock, Broadway musicals: but it’s all thrown in the melting pot and cooked while getting high on shrooms, getting shot at, getting your heart broke not by just girls, but by America.
The homeless voices say it all. Damn. We’re nerds. We’re black men. We’re broke. We’re one step away from becoming drug addicts. Or ending up in caskets. Nothing is what it looks like. Magic’s got AIDs now, and Michael Jordan’s losing his hair. We’re lonely. We have diseases without names. We’re dancing because the white man has a camera. We’re dancing and telling jokes because we’re lost and we don’t know which way to go. We prank call pretty clueless American girls and they scream which is fine because their screams sound great in our slasher film lives. Who left us here? Where are we? Why is our mother so fat? She’s so fat that when she walks she looks like she has no legs she just glides across the floor. See? We’re laughing now. We’re high. We’re feeling better. What’s the officer want? Tell him a joke. See if you can make him laugh. Then maybe he’ll forget to shoot you. Give the lil black boy some weed. Maybe he won’t grow up. Maybe he won’t ever feel like us. We got places to go. We gotta survive. We gotta find home. They say it’s here somewhere. Down this rollecoaster called life.
Can’t you see? There’s a battle going on here. A battle between zombies and the clueless. And in this epic album the zombies crawl out the gutters of America and come back to eat the clueless, because they’re white, they’re pretty, they’re virgins, and they have no idea about the evil that they’ve done, about how they are unknowingly complicit in the tragedy of black American life.
But that’s the academic part. The part that’s genius is that they say all that and you never think about it. No matter what color you are you’re too busy jammin and laughing and playing the dozens and falling in and outta love like a star falling out of the sky.
Speaking of falling out of the sky, The Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde also stands out as an a dark ALPHA, a ripple of darkness in the sunshine, the beginning of “THE KEEP IT REAL” era of hip hop, an era that left emcees struggling to be “real” to themselves, their entourage, the streets, and their fans, scrambling and shooting at each other in clubs, getting arrested for carrying heat in their bulletproof cars like Tony Montana, smoking and selling real drugs, warring over women, regions, and money like Grecian city states. Within five years of this album, as previously mentioned, both J-Swift and Fatlip would fall prey to hardcore drug usage, and both Tupac and Biggie would be dead.
Well this is the final chapter…
I’ll take a hammer and start to drill
Your skull, and then I’ll really start
picking your brain cells
Ummmm mmmm mmmm
You taste so intelligent…
Snap to silence.
We went a little overboard.
Can you believe it? We looked out the window for love and we got this shit. To put it plainly, America’s breaking our fucking hearts.
So this week at long last I’m finally taking my Robert McKee class.
My sister gave me the class for Christmas two years ago (thanks Kim!!), and I’ve rescheduled..wow..probably seven times now…
So it feels good to be going.
You may be familiar with Robert McKee’s book Story.
Or his appearance in Spike Jonz’s film Adaptation, where Robert Mckee (played by Brian Cox) delivers a powerful monologue to Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage) on the subject of conflict in life, and conflict in film:
If you’re an avid filmgoer, an actor reading scripts and wanting more understanding on text vs. subtext, or a writer wanting more understanding of how scenes in films turn, of the various options available to you in terms of three art structure, story principles and character arc…if you’re interested in the world, your life and what’s happening in it, damnit read this book.
I started the book completely unaffected and a little like Charlie Kaufman’s character in Adaptation (What can a Hollywood guru teach me? I’m reading Tolstoy! lol), but ended it shaking my head, smitten with his way of seeing stories, life and the world.
The primary difference between Story and regular fiction writing books (such as EM Forster’s brilliant Aspects of the Novel) is the concentrated focus on creating stories that move briskly through higher and higher levels of conflict. (Like life.)
Here’s three quick tips from the world of Story that I think apply in general that are philosophical in nature and help in everyday life.
1) ABSOLUTE TRUTH can be discovered only through action. It’s crazy. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to be a Pulitzer-winning novelist, an astronaut, a chef, etc. Your Absolute Truth as a human being comes when you set out to finally do that. When you say, fuck it, I’m going to become my highest aspiration, my greatest dream. Now the TRUTH is the gap between your dreams and expectations and what actually happens. It’s the severe cut on your thumb that makes you leave culinary school, or the case of writer’s block that happens on Page 2 of your novel, or the A on your Astrophysics test. Film, like all stories, is about Absolute Truth. Characters don’t just sit around, pining and dreaming, like most of us, sitting on our couch and tweeting about Kanye and Kim Kardashian, while wishing we had the gumption to become…something…anything. That’s not a story! Story is Action! In stories, the character gets off the fucking couch! So to become a character, a protagonist in your own life, you have to act, you have to seek ABSOLUTE TRUTH, not just talk about it on Twitter, FB, etc.
2) But in reality, most human beings must be pushed off the couch. The hand of God has to come out of the sky and shake the house. That hand of God is called the INCITING INCIDENT, the thing that actually starts the story, the search for Absolute Truth. You’d be surprised to know that until that incident happens there is no story. What you’re seeing is fun stuff possibly, backstory, all the setup, and exposition, or possibly even a rich introductory subplot, but until the explosion of the inciting incident there is no true story, no quest for absolute truth. The nature of the inciting incident is determined by genre. In action films, it could literally be an explosion. In a romantic comedy, it could be, well, actually meeting that girl of your dreams at the wedding (see Wedding Crashers). The Inciting Incident is really about two questions: 1) What is the worst possible thing that could happen to my protagonist? And 2) how could that turn out to be the best possible thing that could happen? It’s like losing your house…only to find the Garden of Eden… It’s important to realize that the darkest, most traumatic and explosive things in life lead frequently to absolute truth. Our quest to be whole again shows us who and what we really are.
3) It’s going to get far, far worse after the EXPLOSION. The Inciting Incident, the explosion, is tragic, but it is only the beginning. And that’s where the mindbending, Phillip K Dick territory really begins. As a writer, your job is to not let the character heal and go about her daily life–your job is to make her suffer! First, you take her beautiful and model-perfect body away from her in a horrifying accident, and then push, push, push, further, darker, down the hole of suffering and tragedy! The ultimate question is: What happens after the Inciting Incident, the explosion, the wife leaving (see Kramer vs. Kramer), or the car-spinning two-car collision? Wow…hmm…after the accident…How about if her adorable dog, her favorite thing left in the whole wide world, her only solace and joy, how about if that precious dog falls in a hole in her apartment floor, and now she has to listen to it from her new wheelchair–she actually has to listen to her beloved companion moaning, starving and suffering and scratching all day long under the floorboards (see Amores Perros)?And it has to keep going. It has to get even worse than that. It has to get progressively worse until you can go no further. Until there’s nothing left. The character, the life is splattered into a thousand pieces. Everything they were has to change in order to survive. It’s what Blake Snyder calls “the whiff of death.” And that’s what you call story. It’s also what you call life. But most of us find that out when it’s too late.
See below for McKee’s take on the triangle of story possibilites.
Now I’m not the kind of man to lament such a condition. The way I see it men had roughly two millennia to get our shit correct…and we still haven’t sooo….
Male writers have completely fumbled the ball, from their antiquated or opaque literary depictions of sex to patriarchal art games: it’s been our chess board for so long that we forgot what it’s like not to hold all the pieces. Now it’s the women’s turn. And don’t even get me started on some of my favorite black literary lions such as Ishmael Reed and Charles Johnson and their war with our black female geniuses: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, etc.
The men I love hate the women I love. And there’s no sense in that. Leave it to Baldwin to float above the fray.
But I digress: this post is about what’s happening right now to women, right now to men, and what we’re all doing about it.
Scholars say that the arrival of the Judd Apatow/Adam Sandler manchild– a particular 21st Century species who bumbles around playing videogames all day and not committing to anything: children (see Knocked Up), marriage (see Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch), even friendship (see I Love You, Man)– that this inept, impotent being has created a void in America and the world that is being filled by upwardly mobile professional women that are doing their damn thang: outnumbering men in college matriculation and employment rates, raising children, paying bills, building organizations and communities, starting companies and engaging in BIG IDEAS…
Now here’s where things get even more interesting. According to particular feminists, this vacuum is leading women to want it fasterharderstronger in the bedroom…
According to Katie Roiphe and her head-turning Newsweek cover story “The Fantasy Life of Working Women,” all over America professional women are turning to BDSM and “rape fantasies” in order to compensate for their discomfort with their newly won positions of prestige and power in society.
I think this is ridiculous. If bondage is going mainstream, so be it. So are Brazilian waxes. And a lot of other things, some perhaps good, some perhaps bad.
But this is sex, people.
One woman’s pain is another woman’s pleasure. Ditto for men.
And generations define themselves by how they approach love and sex.
Remember the Victorians? Interesting lot. Underneath all their clothes, there was still a lot of sex and celestial beds going on.
So here we are in the 21st Century where asexuality is on the rise, men are addicted to online porn and faking orgasms, and women want to be tied up and sexually assaulted by a “master” wearing a monster mask.
I always wonder where the black community fits into all these convoluted cultural conversations.
Are black women working at Golman Sachs and then going home wanting to be someone’s slave, dressing up in antebellum garb, and moaning through a rape fantasy?
For some reason, I highly doubt it. But in actuality, if that’s what turns her on, who cares? At least, SHE’S GETTING TURNED ON. Isn’t that her prerogative, her love, her life, her dream that Dr. King said she had a right to have umpteen years ago?
Besides, I think the focus on sexual adventures misses the point entirely for three reasons:
1. It’s the 21st Century. We have holograms now. In fact, hologram Tupac is about to go on tour. And yet we still want to control and vilify women’s sexual fantasies? Their right to not only have sex when and with whom they want, but how they damn want to? (I personally happen to know several women that want to have sex with Tupac’s hologram, but I’m not complaining about that. I just find it interesting.)
2. Women are making gains, but still fighting hard for respect, love and equality in the workplace and beyond. For proof of this, see the recent firestorm caused by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s announcement that she leaves work at 5:30 pm, as well as her seminal TED speech about the lack of women leaders, which has become a rallying cry frequently cited by feminists and women everywhere about the disappointing persistence of gender inequality (see the video below).
3. Don’t feminists have other things to fight over? Try some racial/class solidarity for starters. I’m tired of feeling that feminist arguments are really thinly veiled PRIVILEGED WASP WOMEN ARGUMENTS AND MARCHES (see the womanist vs. feminist fuss over those WOMAN IS THE NIGGER OF THE WORLD signs at the New York Slutwalk for example). If y’all women could all get on the same page, stop being classist, stop being racist, stop being essentialist, and pull more men and colors into your ranks then more things would get accomplished GUARANTEED.
And for the rest of you (especially us men): Read a damn book. Treat the women in your life right.
Let me be clear: When I met Nate Wonder at Morehouse College in 2002, AT THE DRIVE IN was the band that helped give birth to Deep Cotton.
Their look, their stance, their energy said it all: Rock Ain’t Jus Bout White Guys.
Mexican afros and flags. Hoopties on Texan side streets. Chuck Taylors. Black Jeans. Bandannas. And James Brown spins at punk rock shows. YES.
And their sound. Oh my God.
The first video I ever saw was ONE ARMED SCISSOR and that did it for me.
The chorus riff had so much meat and passion…it was like Mother Earth twisting, shuddering and wailing…I hadn’t heard anything like it since Nirvana…and I had to have more…
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was proof that colored boys were not just playing, but innovating on guitar….
And Cedric Bixler-Zavala didn’t sing in a traditional sense. He was like a cross between Screamin Jay Hawkins and Zack De La Rocha. He wailed, like a man undergoing an exorcism. He was part rap, part punk, part everything else. He shook you. He just let loose. He gave you blood. And the blood he gave you reminded you of the blood spilled in the jungles, the blood spilled on the asphalt, the blood spilled in the sea, the blood that everyone could smell and see but no one wanted to talk about.
On Thursdays, I used to leave King Chapel after Crown Forum, get in my car and blast PATTERN AGAINST USER like it was the black national anthem.
Black folks would look at me like WTF!!!?? I hoped they were getting educated because I sure was.
handcuffed to the park bench
hypodermic people poking
fun at the living
please lift the weight out of this
it takes the weight out of living
are we just infants
that are ripe for the training
A lot of folks now ridicule the abstruse nature of Cedric’s lyrics, and he and Omar have certainly gotten tiresome in their new punk opera project Mars Volta: they’re proof that two geniuses can take any wonderful thing too far. (It’s like they’re trying to create the string theory of Beat Poetry, Salsa and Punk or something. It’s not Jungle Rhythm 101; its Jungle Rhythm 1000.)
The first Mars Volta EP and album ( Tremulant and De-Loused in the Comatorium respectively) were brilliant. After that, they set out to combine Miles Davis’s Panagea with…well everything, and things didn’t work so well…and Cedric’s lyrics got more and more obscurantist and poetic…in a bad way.
But back then in 2003, Cedric’s lyrics said it all:
Dissect a trillion sighs away Will you get this letter? Jagged pulp sliced in my veins I write to remember Cause I’m a million miles away, Will you get this letter? Jagged pulp sliced in my veins I write to remember… I write to remember… My Right to remember…
AFter I’d worn Relationship to Command out, I came across the ATDI EP Vaya. And that did it for me. That was proof: the electronica, nods to hip hop, jazz, the odd time signatures, and Omar’s guitar, divebombing like Jimi, angelic like Eddie, skronking and biting dissonantly on the rhythm like Ivan Julien on speed, and the punk spirit suffusing everything…this was a new form of music…
And if it was crack, I’d be in trouble…
I write to remember…
It was the year we met James Spooner, the year we saw AFROPUNK, the year we felt and said fuck it…let’s do this shit…the year Deep Cotton was born.
It was the year we rode around with Saul Williams blasting his music, our music, and him smiling while Black Stacey boomed out into the Atlanta sky…he looked and over said, Give them five years, then they’ll be ready…and wait til you meet this friend I have in Oakland…his name’s Cody ChesnuTT…
A year later we were all at those Cody ChesnuTT shows. Jammin.
Cody invited Nate onstage to sing a song with him. And Nate never gave the mic back. He acted oblivious when Cody reached for it and went to the edge of the stage singing like it was his show. It was HIS show. All Cody could do was laugh. (And yes Nate: Cody and all of us still remember…don’t even try it…lol)
We took Jane to Cody’s second show. And she was there, taking notes. We all were.
That was ten years ago. Damn. It’s 2012.
Deep Cotton…Runaway Radio‘s about to drop. Out the sky. Like a cross between a bomb and chariot.
The Mayans say the world’s ending. At the Drive In just reunited.