TAKE MY HANGING BASKET
- the Jazz Loft, pt. 16, 1967 -
I always figured for something to come along,
one way or the other; so I just rolled ahead.
Inherent in the deal I'd made with myself
was the idea that as long as I applied myself
towards a goal of learning and creativity, as
long as I could 'back up' whatever it was I
was doing, thinking or undergoing, it was
OK. I wanted no falsity, no compromise.
Lo, these many years later, it's brought me
to this pass - which is good. Had I ever
tried to explain this or even bring it up
to any of these guys, it would have been a
non-starter, not even within their language.
So it was always easier just to remain
by myself, silent, sort of, and solitary.
I used to wonder if any of this little
microcosm of things that I was being
exposed to was, likewise, going on all
over and in other places of the city. If there
were loft groups and crazy bunches of
musicians and creative types doing this
sort of thing all over the place? And there
were, that was pretty apparent and obvious
- and now, in reading anything back from
those old days, I can see the message clearly
spread : that was what NYC was all about,
that overwhelming creative push, and it
was going on everywhere. There were so
many iterations of it, I think that's where I'd
get tripped up. Layers. Strata. Everyone going
on all at once. It was pretty incredible. Really,
the only 'artsy' thing I never dealt with at
all was dance. I had a friend or two who
got all caught up in dance. One of them, a
friend on my periphery, was the least likely
to have that interest, but he did and when
he started bringing it up to me all the time I
got perplexed. I just could not share any of
the attributes he was claiming for and about
dance. Modern dance, interpretive dance, etc.
At the time there were layers of dance groups
and an entire avant-garde of dance itself.
Martha Graham had a grand dance history,
Twyla Tharp, Merce Cunningham, to name
but a few. The entire Beatnik thing always
had its cliched black-leotard skinny girls
dance cult. It was part of that dealt, plus, of
course, the silent undercurrent of gay and
male dancers - all those stage stars and
Broadway choreograph people. But I just
never went there. I asked my friend about
it all once saying like, 'What's the deal with
your interest in all this ballet and dance stuff?'
I was really curious and just seeking an
answer. It turned out, and I figure it was a
cop-out answer on his part anyway, that he had
an 8 or 9 year old daughter that I hadn't
known about, custody with the mother,
and his every-other weekend thing with
her, based - he said - on her interest in
it, pretty much rotated around dance -
recital, performances, shows and all that.
I guess there were attempts at dance-to-jazz
things. I never caught any, not cared. Nor
did I ever see any of the jazz guys show an
interest in that sort of thing. It seems to me
that it's only when what I call 'culture-vultures'
get involved that all this troublesome overlapping
of arts begins to happen. Otherwise, before that,
it's just the simple dedication and drive of the
people doing the art that makes it what it is. It's
that whole purity thing, and it's like that everywhere.
There's an entire outside race - I ain't saying and
you must know what I mean - it's on you, not me -
that then always wants to jump in, do nothing,
ride the coattails, extend crooked and cheap,
dirty contracts taking advantage of the artist,
setting up gigs and appearances, shows and
the rest, and then walking off with the exorbitant
profits of another's labor. It's always been like
that, and that's how all this jazz crap, and art
too, operated. Shysters and con men making
coin of the labors of others. I learned that
quickly, and all these guys knew about it too.
Race, in this case, superseded color.