05 April 2017

What is Jazz? This is Jazz. Toxic.




What is Jazz? This is Jazz.

I am late to the appreciation of Jazz Appreciation Month, again, the spur, as always, being, my friend, the essential, Rose, who was raised, as I was--a hopeful, white, American child--in a house of Jazz.

I always seek the liminal, the undefinable, the indecipherable, the edge-places, and in-between places. All of the true, American art forms belong to this space of uncertain certainty: they all come from and are beholden to earlier expressions and traditions, yet pose a problem-solution so special that we decide, upon some thoughtful, knowledgeable, respectful analysis that it presents a unique position. 

Not even Athena sprang Athena-like from the forehead of Zeus. Her mother, Metis, the Titan of Wisdom, whose progeny would be greater than the father, were that prophecy allowed to take place properly, had been swallowed as the fly into which she'd transformed herself to escape Zeus' amour. There are two great prophecies, that I know of, in Greek mythology, calling out the offspring of the mother as greater than the father, the other being a sea goddess, Thetis. Both prophecies encounter Zeus, who--wily as Odin and the other Skyfathers--sidesteps the prophetic outcome made in the lap of a woman, which is to say, a womb. Who says the Fates can't be denied?

Metis. Thetis.

In the case of Thetis, Zeus, who "loved" her but, given her prophetic baggage, was unwilling to chance his throne on his lust, through an incredible public relations coup, relegated her offspring, through a mortal father, King Peleus, to the mortal dimension, as Achilles, mightiest of doomed mortals. Similarly, Athena--as a woman, not a man, as a goddess of wisdom and war, out-does her father in every way; she is her father's favorite--poses no threat to the line of succession and the base of power, since only male offspring pose that issue of issue. And thus, the rape of her mother, and the prophecy about her, was constrained, contained, diffused, and defused into the most fascinating of deities, as a female, always-virgin god.

All the post-indigenous-people, indigenous, American forms are based on a kind of love, appropriation, and violence: the Blues, Jazz, the Broadway Musical, and Rock and Roll--all of which, constantly, bleed into each other. Miscegenation is our American past and our American future. It is our heritage, our dowry, our inheritance, our legacy, and our estate. Just ask Thomas Jefferson.

Welcome to Jazz Appreciation Month.


Toxic

Baby, can't you see,
I'm calling.
A guy like you
Should wear a warning.
It's dangerous.
I'm falling.

There is no escape;
I can't wait;
I need a hit;
Baby, give me it;
You're dangerous;
I'm loving it.

Too high,
Can't come down;
It's in the air
And it's all around.

Can you feel me, now?

With a taste of your lips,
I'm on a ride:
You're toxic,
I'm slipping under.

A taste of your poison paradise,
I'm addicted to you,
Don't you know that you're 
toc-sick,
And I love what you do,
Don't you know that you're 
toxic?

It's getting late
To give you up;
I took a sip
From my devil's cup;
Slowly,
It's taking over me:

Too high,
Can't come down;
It's in the air,
And it's all around.

Can you feel me now?

With a taste 
of your lips,
I'm on a ride.
You're toxic,
I'm slipping 
under;

Taste of a poison paradise,
I'm addicted to you;
Don't you know that you're toxic?
And I love what you do,
Don't you know 
that you're toxic?

Intoxicate me, now,
With your lovin', now,
Think I'm ready, now,
Think I'm ready, now.

Toxicate me, now,
With your lovin', now,
Think I'm ready, now,
Think I'm ready, now.

Toxicate me, now,
With your lovin', now,
I think I'm ready, now,
I think I'm ready, now.

I think I'm ready, now.

I think I'm ready, now.
Toxicate me, now,
With your lovin', now,
I think I'm ready, now,
Think I'm ready, now.


Now.
Now.
Now
Now.
Now-ow.
Now.
Now
Now.
Now.
Now
Now. Now. Now. Now. Now. Now Now. Now. Now. Now.

I think I'm ready, now,
With a taste of lips,
I think I'm ready, now.
I think I'm ready, now.

Intoxicate me, now,
With your lovin', now,
I think I'm ready, now,
I think I'm ready, now.

Intoxicate me, now,
With your lovin', now,
I think I'm ready, now,
I think I'm ready, now.


Yael Naïm, "Toxic." 

"Toxic" is a song recorded by American singer Britney Spears for her fourth studio album In the Zone (2003). It was written and produced by Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (known collectively as Bloodshy & Avant), with additional writing from Cathy Dennis and Henrik Jonback. 


20 March 2017

On the Current Antisemitism



Okay, so this must be the proof in the pudding. 

Since the election, the United States has seen a spike in reported hate crimes and violent acts against a whole array of people--this is reported, countable, legible, provable, and obvious. The high-profile ones are on the national news, but you can see them in your local newspaper, on your city news broadcasts, you can hear about them on the radio, and you sometimes witness them in person, when you are not the victim of them. This is happening. 

Some of these "groups"--to be absurdly reductive, but why not? The perpetrators of these aggressions are--are painfully expected, for example Muslims.

Obviously, Muslims--or people perceived to be "Muslim"--would be the first recipient of this local (but also executive and, thus, national) aggression: mosques, individuals, islamic organizations.

Then "immigrants"--but not all immigrants, really, just immigrants of, shall we impolitely call it, in that charmingly, antique phrasing, a "duskier hue": apparently that's Indians (from India), Sikhs (turbans: because turbans are exotic and the exotic is unfamiliar and the unfamiliar is frightening and what frightens us is automatically dangerous), anyone suspiciously Latin (i.e. "illegal Mexican" rapist/murderer/au pair/gardener), and anyone else with brown skin ("Go back to your country!"). 

Then we have African-Americans--you know, "Black people"? You've probably heard of them.

This comes as no surprise, since targeting black people is a national pastime and seems to be written into our national DNA, when it is not written into our national Constitution. (The horrible words, the curses, the slurs, the lies, half-lies, statistics, the violent words uttered against African-Americans, Blacks, People of Color, and Negroes in this-great-country-against-itself, need never be repeated again, to my way of thinking. We have all heard them, far too much, in our minds, in our homes, in our beds, on television, in books and magazines, and on the street.)

Okay, there's been a spike in violence against gay people, particularly men ("Trump won! Get used to it!"), which is not that weird, considering the kinds of people we're talking about, and how late the gay have been to the party of even tacit or expected "tolerance"/"acceptance." 

But the one I really can't wrap my stupid, fucking, American mind around is the spike in antisemitism everywhere, and against long-established synagogues (Sure! Why not attack a neighborhood place of worship? Synagogue=Mosque) and Jewish community centers.

When people are clearly other by skin color, the cowards go after them, sure.

Muslim, immigrant, dirty Mexican rapist, black man--I get it. It's asinine and repugnant, but I can at least follow the ham-fisted, racist logic at work, here. 

With our Jewish friends and neighbors, we enter into a strangely different territory.

This is not just because these individuals and communities have been here, on our shores, for so long (Black people, after the First Nations and Native Americans, after the Dutch, are the people who have lived here the longest: yes, they were slaves in New Amsterdam), but because of Jewish assimilation to American-ness, especially during the postwar period; their imbrication with American culture; their strange invisibility and presence--their frequent ability to pass, especially after entering the current period, where black Irish, Italians, Greeks, mediterraneans, and so on, were no longer considered "animals," in America--and the long, difficult history with and against antisemitism in the United States; our experience and non-experience/our knowledge and non-knowledge/our non-complicity and complicity in the Holocaust; our relationship politically, imperially, territorially, and culturally to Israel: for all these reasons, the sudden temerity in the attacks against Jewish cultural centers and people in the U.S.A., after the election, really pulls the mask off the clown.

Oh... It's YOU!

And, even if all the people committing the violence aren't motivated by the same animus, they are each being animated by each others' animus. 

And so, the oldest--the foundational--bigotry in Christendom; that most European of christian hatreds; that two thousand-year-old, murderous rage rises again, after being told to settle down for so long: Jew-hatred; Jew-murder; God-murder; Antisemitism: two-thousand years of death, pogrom, exile-in-exile, status-without-status, nationality-without-nationality. This? Again?

To my mind, this is how we should know it's serious.


What would Jesus do?