Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lawrence Jackson Reads Well

Ellison seems free of an enormous subconscious drive to incorporate and surpass the achievements of the local "father" figures Richard Wright and langston Hughes.  In fact, Ellison's intellectual point is precisely that he did not have to engage...because there were already writers of global significance to battle against for his writer's identity.

--Lawrence Jackson, "Ellison's Invented Life."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Cinematic Foundations of Native Son, Pt. 2

There are only traces of Trader Horn, the movie Bigger watches w/ Jack and Doc.  We're gonna keep the pictures in our eyes.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Crate Digging Looks Like on Paper

Go here after you look at the picture.  You'll wish that Dr. Wald spent a bit more time posting the scans from the Defender.

The Musical Foundations of Native Son, Pt. 6

"They listened to the pipe organ. It was humming so low that it could scarcely be heard. There were times when it seemed to stop altogether; then it would surge forth again, mellow, nostalgic, sweet."

Maybe the most telling of all musical references in the book.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Musical Foundation of Native Son, Pt. 5

     "He sat at the table.  The odor of frying bacon and boiling coffee drifted to him from behind the curtain.  His mother's voice floated to him in song.

Life is like a mountain railroad
With an engineer that's brave
We must make the run successful
From the cradle to the grave....

     "The song irked him and he was glad when she stopped and came in the room with a pot of coffee and a plate of crinkled bacon." 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Musical Foundation of Native Son, Pt. 4

      "Bigger walked to the front of the store and stood looking out the plate glass window.  The, suddenly, he felt sick.  He saw Gus coming along the street. And his muscles stiffened.  He was going to do something to Gus; just hat, he didn't know.  As Gus neared him he heard him whistling: 'The Merry Go Round Broke Down....'
     "'Hi, Bigger,' Gus said.
      "Bigger did not answer. Gus passed him and started toward the rear tables.  Bigger whirled and kicked him hard."

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Musical Foundations of Native Son, Pt. 3

Noiselessly, he went up the steps and inserted his key in the lock; the door swung in silently and he heard his mother singing behind the curtain.

Lord, I want to be a Christian,
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be a Christian
In my heart, in my heart....

He tiptoed into the room and lifted the top matress of his bed and pulled forth the gun and slipped it inside his shirt.  Just as he was about to open the door his mother paused in her singing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Musical Foundation of Native Son, Pt. 2

     "Say, Jan, do you know many negroes?  I want to meet some."
     "I don't know any very well.  But you'll meet them when you're in the party."
     "The have so much emotion!  What a people!  If we could ever get them going..."
     "We can't have a revolution without 'em," Jan said.  "They've got to be organized.  They've got spirit.  They'll give the party something it needs."
     "And their songs -- the spirituals!  Aren't they marvelous?"  Bigger saw her turn to him."Say, Bigger, can't you sing?"
     "I can't sing," he said.
     "Aw Bigger," she said, pouting.  She tilted her head, closed her eye and opened her mouth.

"Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home . . . . "

     Jan joined in and Bigger smiled derisively.  Hell, that ain't the tune, he thought.
     "C'mon, Bigger, and help us sing it," Jan said.
     "I can't sing," he said again.
     They were silent.  The car purred along.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

F/ the Archives

We posted a stash of wonderful sound recordings from the LoC of Zora Neale Hurston helping the anthropologizer man work on his street over @ the blue light. Recently we found a fuller stash @ the Florida archives, and though we'll liberate 'em in a later post for those of you who can't hardly wait, we urge you to hop a ride on the Internets Mass Transit Authority and stop here for 2ns, here for paper, here for pitchers.

A Note or Two While We're Reorganizing...

We know we've been gone for a while now, and for that we offer our apologies to the small audience who strays by, even leave the occasional stone in the pile. The leadership @ Jackson Negative, our corporate sponsor and motivating force, is on a retreat, promising to come back with a strategic plan. That's the way it is w/ corporate leaders.

It's not like we're not working, though. Give us credit. We have been rollin and tumblin @ fb. And we're moving to 1 a day practices @ the annex.

Stop by when you're riding internets mass transit system.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Body and Soul: Redux

As we continue the Book of Richard, we find these words:

"...but even after obeying, after killing, they still ruled him.  He was their property, heart and soul, body and blood; what they did claimed him sleeping and waking; it colored life and dictated the terms of death."

The easy thing to do with this passage, even all of Native Son, is to run the critique of the gangsta stance, from the first time we sang about a gun going rooty-toot-toot on a rekkid 'til Ice Cube defined a good day.  But that'd be easy, and therefore incomplete.

So instead we observe that the passage reminded us of our versionology of "Body and Soul."  We are taking careful, slow steps up to a few posts on the way music makes meaning in the Book of Richard, and we are uncertain that this passage belongs in those posts.  Nevertheless, the dialectic is obvious, just as it is when we read through tropes of visibility in Native Son and imagine tropes of invisibility that loom so large in the Book of Ralph.

Let us begin by observing that the passage cited offers important political nuance to the approaches to the lyrics we posted back in the day.  In light of this, we think we should come back to the material and consider the place of the citizen in the song.  We should also consider how Dunbar/DuBois, as ancestors concerned about the masks that dual civic status places on citizens, informs the versionology, however indirectly.

As we go, we will, of necessity, observe that the Book of Richard proposes, of necessity, a totality that is belied by the simple historical proof offered by the example of "Body and Soul." This is the same topic we have been addressing in our recent readings in the Book of Langston.  Freedom is demonstrated when we defy the expectation that we'll repeat ourselves, that we'll be consistent.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Blues Keep on Coming

We 'a post up a devilin' versionology, maybe this weekend, but we 'a say two things early.  1) 'tunes have developed the groove to carry this one, even if it is not as thoroughly minimal as their signature grooves.  2) This may mot be the most lyrically explosive example of what either Pusha or Tyler have done, but we can say that, even w/out the video, which promises to be interesting, they are aware that they are doubling down like crapshooters on a sure bet in here one.


Thursday, July 14, 2011