Saturday, December 30, 2006

Black Caesar (pt. 2)

Bob Davis, creator of the essential Soul-Patrol website, watched the Rev. Al Sharpton deliver his eulogy for James Brown on Friday at the Apollo. (Davis has posted a RealAudio file of interviews he conducted that day.) Here, with Bob Davis’s kind permission, is a little of what he wrote about it:
BOB DAVIS: "Rev. Al" gave the eulogy at around 6:30 pm. He "tore the roof off the sucka" as he described in detail just how James Brown told him how he created FUNK MUSIC ("the half note") and revolutionized the last 50 years of music, but also spoke of how James Brown was a mentor to him and to all of those around him.

"Rev. Al" spoke of how James Brown totally eradicated the term "NEGRO" from our collective vocabularies with a single song. "Rev. Al" talked about a conversation that he had recently with James Brown. He said that James Brown told him that he was very disturbed about the things that were being said in today's music, and that he felt that they were destructive. And then "Rev. Al" ROCKED the Apollo in a way that ONLY a Baptist preacher from the ghetto can and said…


"Rev. Al" is not a person that I had much respect for prior to this day. But I watched Rev. Al stand silently next to the open casket of James Brown damn near all day long, mostly in silence, watching over his mentor, and then at 6:30 deliver a great speech in tribute to the man who invented FUNK MUSIC and truly created a "revolution of the mind" inside
of the heads of several generations of people around the world. And as I observed Alfred Sharpton today on December 29, 2006, I saw someone who just earned my respect.

Black Caesar (pt. 1)

They came not to bury James Brown, but to praise. And to witness.

Cartoonist and album-cover artist Ronald “Stozo” Edwards, a member of the P-Funk mob since the ‘70s, was up in Harlem on Thursday for James Brown’s final visit to the Apollo. Here’s what he writes:
RONALD “STOZO” EDWARDS (a.k.a. STOZO THE CLOWN): It was not easy for me to avoid a sentimental tear as I arrived at the James Brown wake. The famous Apollo Theater was the first public stage I ever performed on (as the “SnowMon” character in Parliament-Funkadelic’s way-off-Broadway production called “Popsycle Stix,” later known as the Gloryhallastoopid Tour).

I remembered me and Maceo Parker (J.B.’s former lead sax player) going across the street to the Daddy Grace Church between matinees on Saturdays, as we performed at the Apollo for a whole month. The whole P-Funk Mob used the cafeteria at that church as our official lunchroom. (They cooked some of the best soul food in Harlem!) Maceo always had a story to tell about the Apollo and, of course, the Godfather of Soul.

Seeing all the people on Thursday, all the black people… hearing the songs, James’s music coming out of cars, stores, radios, ringtones… voices, people singing, chanting… Cold Sweat, Say It Loud, Gonna Have A Funky Good Time… it was like being at a James Brown World’s Fair! Me, one of his biggest admirers, there to launch our Black SuperHero into that land where we all are sure to go… yo!

There were impersonators like for Elvis, the media (mostly all white people), and an older crowd, mostly African-American women and men, patiently awaiting the last dance with Soul Brother #1. Looking at this massive amount of happy mourners caused me to have goose bumps. I felt real history again, like when watching JFK’s and Martin Luther King’s funeral processions on black-and-white TV as a kid funkadelic. This time I was right there!

When the two white horses arrived, with the white carriage and James Brown’s golden coffin, surrounded in a sea of black faces, cameras flashing, cellphones clicking, people shouting, the glee of a dedicated community for a SuperBadd Hero… we were witnessing maybe the last real African-American leader. I was proud… Black and Proud! And filled with “tears of a clown” for the Godfather of Soul.

The end of my adventure this day was when I returned home, passing B.B. King’s Club on 42nd Street, where James Brown was scheduled to play on New Year’s Eve. There was a tribute goin’ on out front of the venue. People were dancing, his music was playing, and there were posters and banners being signed by many. I had to stop and leave my trademark Stozo The Clown signature and a caricature cartoon doodle of James Brown doing the “camel walk.”

BTW… James Brown came to the production of “Popsycle Stix” at the Apollo, dressed in a black mink coat. I remember saying hello to him as he came backstage through the green room with two bodyguards. He was there to see our P-Funk show, and probably MACEO blow his horn. Unforgettable!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dennis Chambers has a James Brown story.

Dennis Chambers is one of the world's top jazz drummers, but he built his reputation playing funk. P-Funk, to be precise. He joined George Clinton’s traveling circus before he was 20 years old, and his powerhouse chops soon boosted the energy level of what was then the greatest road show in black music.

Few people know that Chambers, at the age of 13 (!), was invited to join the James Brown band. Here’s how he told the story to funk historian Larry Alexander in a 1997 interview:
DENNIS CHAMBERS: What happened was, there was a place called the James Brown Motor Inn in downtown Baltimore. James came in for some strange reason – 'cause he owned it, he owned the place. But he came in there. I was playing with a band that was playing all cover tunes of James Brown stuff.

I'm in the bathroom. I'm standing there washing my hands, and this guy standing next to me is picking his hair out, looking into the mirror and singing. I was like, “Man, that sounds great. It sounds like James Brown!” But he was singing in a low tone. Then he sang something at full volume, like he was practicing. I looked at him again, I was like, “That is James Brown!” And I started talking to him.

I said, “Mr. Brown, I'm a big fan of your music, I'm playing at your club here, and we happen to play your music.” He said, “Oh yeah? That's nice, kid.” I said, “Well, you know, it would be great if you would come in and check us out.” He said, “Yeah, maybe I will, maybe I won't.” He never looked at me. He just stood there picking out his hair, still singing. I asked him what was he doing there in town, and he said he had to take care of some business.

I come out of the bathroom, and I go and tell the rest of the fellas. “Guess what? I just saw James Brown.” “Right.” “I'm serious, J.B. was in the bathroom!” “Sure, right.” “Well, check it out. Go in the bathroom and see for yourself!” Nobody went.

So somewhere in the middle of the show, the second or third set we were doing, an entourage of people came in and sat somewhere in that room in the dark. After we finished playing, some big goon came over and said, “Mr. Brown requests your presence at his table. He wants to talk to you.” “Really?” I looked at the rest of the guys. They were in shock. They were, like, mouths open. “He wants us?” “No, he just wants him to come over to the table.”

So I go over to the table, and he still didn't look at me, he's still picking out his hair. “Hey kid, you sound great. How old are you?” “Thirteen.” “Wow, that's fantastic. That's great. What do you think about, you know, would you like to play with me? Play in my band?” “Hell yeah” – that's what I was thinking to myself. “Yeah, but I'm thinking about school – how would that work out? I may have a problem with my mom. She might not want me to go…” And I gave him the phone number to the house to talk to my mother, or have his manager talk to my mother.

And he wouldn't offer a tutor, which I thought was very weird. Because at that time, James was advertising, you know, “Stay in school, don’t be no fool.” He wanted me to go on the road, but he wouldn't offer a tutor. So naturally, I couldn't do it. My mother wouldn't let me go.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Playlist: Tribute to James Brown

James Brown. That’s all you need to say. I had the privilege of interviewing the Godfather in 1990. My tapes are on the opposite coast, so it’ll be a few weeks before I can post a transcript here. Meanwhile, here’s a playlist of eclectic James Brown tribute songs.

Since as far back as 1970 and Gylan Kain’s spoken-word piece “James Brown” with the Last Poets, musicians across the stylistic spectrum have honored the man in song, by name. I mean rockers, not just funkers. Singers, not just rappers. The following tracks are all available on iTunes; most are also on eMusic (which I love). Or you can see where the links take you...

1. "Diggin’ On James Brown" – Tower of Power (4:38)
2. "J.B. in Oakland (Pass the Peas)" – Delta Wires (6:06)
3. "James Brown" – Robert Fairweather & Luv Machine (3:23)
4. "I Love James Brown" – Cynthia Manley (5:31)
5. "James Brown" – Malcolm’s Before Mecca (4:04)
6. "The J.B. Groove" – Julien Kasper Band (5:09)
7. "James Brown" – The Hancock Band (4:29)
8. "James Brown Band" – Uncle Max’s Cosmic Band (4:01)
9. "Tribute to James Brown" – Stevie Hawkins (7:38)
10. "James Brown!/Iron Man" – Victor Wooten (7:46)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Funny white people: Unmasking 'The Realist'

I’ll introduce myself properly in the coming days. Right now, I gotta get my blog on with a feisty opening salvo.

Way out on the far-right fringes of the blogosphere, a nameless white man is taking a stand. His goal: to make white supremacy safe for Jews. Talk about a fool’s errand.

Two weeks ago, a fellow known only as “The Realist” launched a website called The Inverted World, devoted to “promoting race realism and white activism.” Before you write him off as a neo-Nazi, looky here: He slapped a big red “X” over a photo of David Duke, and he promised: “We will speak out against him.” The Realist kept his word within days, with an essay titled “The Insanity of David Duke.”

The Inverted World offers a daily list of newslinks to mainstream articles about illegal immigrants, bad Muslims, scary black criminals, victimized white people (“Raped in Oslo”), etc. The Realist solicits comments from readers. But so far, the only topic generating much discussion is The Realist’s own hard line against anti-Semitism.

The Realist bemoans the fact that many white racialists, even educated ones, are “conspiracy theorists whose minds twisted everything they disliked about the present and past into evidence for Jewish evil.” And he will not stand for this!

The first posted comment in response, under the name “Moshe Stein,” gave a cheer: “FINALLY! A website for ALL White people.” Someone named “Alec” also tipped his hat: “I admire what you’re doing. Our movement could go mainstream if we didn’t have a hard-core anti-Semitic entrenchment.” Similar congratulations followed.

Then came dissenting comments like this one: “Jews are not White.” A self-labeled “goy” wrote: “Smells like another false flag operation.” (Meaning, a sinister Jewish trick.)

The Realist took tougher blows from the folks at Stormfront, a white-power forum of long standing. The editor, known as “jack boot,” rejected any communion with “alien races.” “One is either of the Volk or one is not,” he wrote. “This is the first test. Blood and soil.” A Stormfront moderator declared: “Jews aren't White, and they will never be White: period.” A commenter added, “they are our worst enemy.”

Likewise, The Realist is being denounced on To wit: “anyone who thinks that by being nice to jews, jews will stop trying to destroy the european race is delusional and not worth our time.”

The Realist has at least one admirer in Lawrence Auster, a traditionalist conservative blogger (Jewish by birth, Anglican by faith) and anti-immigration pamphleteer. “I think we ought to give our support to any civilized… defender of white Western civilization,” Mr. Auster writes.

Like watching a dog chase its tail, there’s entertainment value in seeing anti-Semitic racists and philo-Semitic racists – and the Jews who hate and love them, respectively – go round and round on the Internet. But this tempest in a nut dish highlights a serious strategy on the part of some well-educated white supremacists. They want to legitimize the racist right. They want a seat at the table of our national conversation. They want to be on TV. They don’t want to be written off as neo-Nazis like David Duke.

Yale alumnus Jared Taylor is an architect of this strategy. With his American Renaissance website, Taylor argues that whites are being driven to extinction by liberalism, multiculturalism and a lack of race pride. But he has stopped short of blaming the Jews. In fact, AR welcomes Jewish supporters. A few regularly post comments on the site (often under pseudonyms like “Jewamongyou” and “White, Jewish, and Proud”). Taylor also hosts a biennial American Renaissance conference, unique in the white-nationalist world for welcoming Jewish speakers, such as Michael Levin, Paul Gottfried and Rabbi Mayer Schiller.

I’ve attended a couple of AR conferences. (Being light-skinned and straight-haired, I didn’t exactly stand out like Miles Davis.) I have even commented on AR’s message boards. As a student of the ideology of race, I’ve been fascinated with Jared Taylor for years, especially with his avoidance of overt anti-Semitism. Jew-hatred is so woven into the intellectual tradition of white racialism, how could Taylor possibly succeed in bringing Jews into his tent? Wouldn’t the gentiles always be distrustful of them? Wouldn’t the Jews always be waiting for anti-Semitism to rear its ugly head?

Sure enough, the shit hit the fan in February, at the sixth American Renaissance conference in suburban Washington. David Duke was there, and he reportedly engaged in a little Jew-baiting from the floor. A Jewish attendee got up and said, “You’re a fucking Nazi, you’ve disgraced this meeting,” and walked out. Everyone was all a-dither. Jared Taylor was later harshly denounced by Lawrence Auster for associating with the likes of Duke.

All of which brings us back to The Realist. His newly launched website is a spillover of the AR shitstorm. Indeed, I have figured out The Realist’s true identity. He didn’t make it too difficult.

His name is Ian Jobling. For two and a half years, till this past June, he worked for Jared Taylor as American Renaissance’s webmaster. Jobling’s resume is posted online; he’s in search of work as a writer or web designer. For a writing sample, Jobling provides a technical piece titled “How to Format Articles for Publication”. Which is identical to the “Stylesheet” provided by The Realist on his Inverted World site.

According to his resume, Ian Jobling holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is a cum laude graduate of Amherst. He taught English composition at SUNY Buffalo between 1997 and 2002. His doctoral dissertation was on British Romantic literature.

For the Inverted World site, he hides all this under a bushel basket. Come on, Dr. Jobling, stand tall and proud. In other words, be a mensch.

UPDATE (12/24/06): Within 24 hours of my original post, Ian Jobling took down his personal resume site, because it contained the smoking gun that establishes him as the creator of The Inverted World. (The telltale writing sample is cached here.) I don't get it. Martin Luther King was willing to be locked up in Southern jails for his cause. This chump isn't even willing to fight under his own name.