mercredi, août 09, 2006


Apex Hides the Hurt
Colson Whitehead

Good. Very good. Reminds me of Giovanni's Room Baldwin in the naturalistic manner with which he reveals the race of the characters. The narration aptly mirrors the world view and social location of the protagonist. It can be confusing and that is not a critique. It's short, dense and the writing is lovely. It ends poorly (very Spike Lee ish). He tries to pull everything together, to communicate the book's thesis, which was most certainly not necessary.

Gloria Naylor
I am not done yet. It is a short easy read but very uncomfortable. It's a novel about surveillance and/or paranoia but the back cover blurbs refer to it as non-fiction. It is based on a true story: the author's 1996. I'm having trouble picking it back up. It's obviously struck a chord that, as of yet, I'm unable to hum.

Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie
Donald I. Maggin

He begins Dizzy's bio with a detailed history of the white people who owned and miscgenated with Dizzy's patrilineal ancestors. It was a poor choice. It centers whiteness. It is otherwise detailed, some times excessively, but there is the titular reference to both the life and times and he certainly fleshes out the times. A lot of musicological language and analysis, which the author takes great pains and pages to explain. I feel like I learned a great deal.

Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams
Tammy L. Kernodle

She could sometimes be a little presumptive with regards to the states of mind of Williams and her family especially the women. There was a lot of choppy historiography on black womanhood that I didn't think was necessary. It's a biography. It suffices to talk about Mary Lou Williams experience (which the author does) without the other extranneous commentary. I feel I learned a great deal about Williams. I read Maggin's bio first and he consistently recounts Gillespie's close relationship with Williams while Kernodle asserts the same she doesn't show it. I wonder what else could be missing. I will be reading Dahl's take soon. (And yes that's Mary Lou Williams bookending my banner.)

Footprints: The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter
Michelle Mercer

The reviews on Amazon aren't good but it's a good read. Mercer writes well. It doesn't particularly seek to be objective. Shorter cooperated and wrote the preface (Herbie Hancock handled the forward.) It's an interesting text on which to reflect on this extended conversation of black quirkiness (i see u moya) and/or black nerds. I recoiled at some of her commentary but generally found it to be a good read. (On a related note: Gretchen Parlato's Juju/Footprints is celestial.)

The Pursuit of Happyness
Chris Gardner w/ Quincy Troupe

Troupe is really good at this. So is David Ritz. A distinctive and credible voice (whether it's the subject's or not) comes though. And Gardner's story is incredible. I found myself more interested in his tales of single fatherhood than the rags to riches storyline. Although I respect the guy for raising his kids I stumbled when I read he kept his toddler son out all night at a blues club or took him to see Purple Rain. Umm, not appropiate.

I was also struck by how forthright he was in conversations about his sex life even the exhibitionist encounters with his kids mother. I wish women public figures could do the same in their stories. It's always this incredible distracting and often distorting silence in their stories.

No Direction Home

I never liked his voice. I still don't but I recognize the salience of his songwriting now but I was much more awed by how fucking quintessentially American he is/was. In the performative sense (I mean). Grandiose and mythic. Self posessed and opportunistic. So smart, elusive and unapologetic yet not one of the people interviewed said anything really bad about him although I sensed that they almost wanted to. He is a template for stardom and individualism.

The Shape of Things

It started so slow I almost flipped off IFC in hopes of doing something demonstratively productive. I am so glad I persevered. It sticks with you and resonates if it digs. It was a play. That fact remains. Melinda & Melinda however clever felt like movie about (two visions of) a play as it intends but The Shape of Things is so a play on film. And Paul Rudd is so fucking capable. Good ass film.

Jon Faddis

Excellent. Wish I'd had the dough to see him at his recent string of dates at the Jazz Standard. Since I'm on trumpeters: I can't seem to get into Dave Douglass.

"Hollywood Divorce"
Outkast feat. Lil' Wayne and Snoop

A thrice day rotation. I like the synths and 'Dre's hook and verse. I wish Big Boi would rhyme about something other than his personal and professional relationship with 'Dre. I don't like DeWayne's stream of consciousness contribution except for " feel different what's the real sense of it." I don't like "cooler than antifreeze" for obvious reasons. His half ass attempt at addressing Katrina makes me sad. Do rappers revise? I know Nas does. That's probably why I like him so much. Snoop's verse is forgettable. 'Dre shouldn't have let these fools get on the track although you can hear them trying their best to do something a little off beat. I'd like to have heard Elzhi on here just cause he's not only nice (with his) but introspective. Actually this might have been better with 'Dre fake singing on it maybe wit Joi and Gipp and Erykah.

"Number 1"
Pharrell Williams feat. Kanye West

Crown Kanye the annoying adlib champ ("Come on, come on."). Diddy and J.D. have nothing on him.

"Looking for You"

Kirk Franklin

I don't like Kirk Franklin but I find him to be very very funny. Listen to his adlibs (that's all he does. Remember?!) at the end of "Stomp." The Busta "Ya Ya Ya" is hilarious and is intensified by the preceding, "And my auntie say." But this song is incredible. I'm so mad his name isn't followed by "and the Family" or "and Nu Nation." This negro doesn't do nothing but booty shake to Gospel music and/or download kiddie porn but he's ridden his way to richesse and fame on the backs of a landry list of chunky black church singers with the exception of that one white girl.

The Salvodar Gabor Project
Funny is hard to do. Here it is done well.

"Pornokarma" is much better than "pyroeroticism" (a term I coined 8 years ago). Perfectly plain perfect prose.

Three of my fav. people are Tauruses. Mama (5/20), L(5/8), and Su the Fijian Gaijin(5/20). Her blog is much much much better than mine.

Nota Bene: Drink your water. Dizziness + Blurry Vision + Nausea = Heat Exhaustion aka me last Friday.