Saturday, June 17, 2017

9648. TAKE MY HANGING BASKET, pt. six, 1967

- pt. six, 1967 -
In about 1963, LeRoi Jones wrote a book
entitled 'Blues People' which traced the
social history of blacks and downtrodden
southern slave workers, etc., and put it
into their under-structure of blues and
hard-times music. It worked well enough,
and was and is a good read for that sort
of thing. In fact, I probably need another
read of it because it's kind of hazy now.
I've got it around here somewhere. It didn't
specifically lead into jazz or black jazz music,
but it pretty much could have  -  as he came up
and gained credibility in the Beatnik movement,
out of the Navy and his interesting life-story
and adventures, it stayed with me. I watched
him, even in my seminary years, at about that
1963 era  -  keep note of what he'd written,
Dutchman, plays,  all that stuff, and this book
here just mentioned. He had to do with old
NYC, and the jazz movement guys too. Jones
was a pretty credible guy, and people listened.
His wife, at one point anyway, was 'Hettie Jones.'
They ran a small publication, name of which
I forget now, and it became an early 1960's voice
for radicalized poetry, music writing, essay
and drama work. That was back in the old
typewriter days, when self-publishing and
all that bore no resemblance to what it is today.
Things needed to be carefully typed, arranged,
corrected and sorted, taken to the printer, brought
back, collated, folded, and stitched, or stapled or
whatever means was chosen. I used to do that
very same stuff, so I know, It was pretty tedious,
and typewriters, no matter the 'romance' of them
now, were in actuality a real pain in the butt.
Corrections, re-types, type-overs, etc. There were
a hundred different forms of correcto-tapes,
white out, and the rest, or re-type over an error.
It didn't often work, the whole page would need
to be started over, or you'd get to the bottom of
the page, too low, and find the bottom line or
two slipping, looking ridiculous on a low slant.
Tons of frustration. When 'word processors,' as
they were first called, came out, it made a world of
difference  -  not for the quality of the writing, of 
course, no, but for the correcting and the
re-arranging of content and lines.
Anyway, he had this book out. The connection,
or the leap, to jazz was pretty big. Word was he
liked jazz anyway but that the dictates of black
militarism has pushed him instead into the
vibrant anger of the dispossessed, so that he
had to take that stance  -  even more than the
representative stance of the be-bop, jazz, and
black 'Negro' movement, within the musical
world. Which at that time was still more subdued
and, actually, more active, but busy with its own
stuff, not so much the 'social activism,' movement.
The jazz guys, by now some five years later, I
guess had learned to live with all this and not 
much was ever really said. I don't think anybody
really much cared, to be honest. All that marching
on this or that location, walk-ins and sit-ins and
teach-ins and that, all that was  -  to them  -  in
effect just not part of their world. It was 'whitey'
stuff, so to speak, even if it was black. The meaning,
in their terms, was that it just didn't count because
it wasn't music and their single-eyed determination
was to work their music out, only,  and to hell with 
the rest. Equality and rights was old white-world 
stuff, where the usual lackeys professed to believe
that any of that really existed, They'd say things
like, 'the time was comin', and soon, but not my
worry.' Pretty cryptic, but that's how they talked.
By today's standards these guys were Neanderthals.
And so was I. By any standard  -  the sexism was
rampant, the what's now called 'incorrect' aspect of
everything was everywhere, and no one cared. A
she was always a 'Doll' or somesuch address, and
considered ready, willing, and 'available,' at any
time. There were no stops or limitations. and
they went along too, so, whatever. I wasn't even
a part of this scene, really, but I think back at it
now and realize I never gave a thought to things
that by today's standards would be way out of
bounds. It stands out. 
These loft buildings always had a stairwell, of some
sort, usually long and skinny too  -  narrow is the
word, I guess, not skinny, for stairs. And of course
a freight elevator or two, lined with blankets and all, 
to protect things, and used more than the stairs,
which could just be a hazard, or a trysting place
or even a shoot-up nook. The code was, for me 
anyway, if you walk up on something, whatever 
it is you're seeing, you didn't just see it. And
that's that. Then there was the roof, and then there
usually was, of some sort, the basement. That was
utility and storage, electrical boxes sometimes,
heaters and water pumps and heaters again, drains
and sinks, work-bench table, paints, etc. Command
centers for, mostly, daytime utility services and 
maintenance. I never too often got involved, but
stuff was always going on. I still see old buildings
like this today, 17th, 19th street, into the west 20's.
There are still a few great ones up by the w50s,
used for horse care, park wagons, blacksmith stuff.
They still have the ramps and open inner stairs, 
just like of old. But otherwise it's all gone, and 
disappearing fast. Plumber guys now, in the
early morning they line up at one place that's 
a plumbing supply depot, and they load up there
for their day's scheduled work  -  that's right 
next to the horse place. And often there's 
Russian or foreign east-Euro types with their
rental liveries and big black limos, just waiting
around by Clinton Park  -  not the President 
Clinton and family stuff, this is DeWitt Clinton.
They all just wait around, and this mix is pretty
genuine, like you don't get in many other
places. It always brings me back to the jazz
loft stuff; even though it's totally different and 
that's all gone now, but it does anyway. I get
transported, with all these weird people now
hanging around, just as unsavory probably,
yet completely and differently tasked. Worlds
mix and mingle, but maybe only in my brain.
I don't really have a beef with the world any
more. Distance has set in; disdain, removal.
Nothing  - as it's put  -  cares for nothing, in
this modern day of paltry desires and needs.

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