Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Petey Greene on the silver screen!

Can’t believe I didn’t know about this. But my buddy Jeff Krulik just told me that a movie based on Petey Greene’s life is coming out this summer.

Then I find out the trailer’s been on the Internet for a couple of months already. And Don Cheadle stars as Petey! (The trailer is embedded above.)

If you never lived in Washington, you probably never heard of Petey Greene. Unless you’ve seen that “watermelon” video that’s all over YouTube. (I didn’t know about that shit either. But more about that watermelon video later…)

Petey Greene was the longtime host of a low-budget TV talk show called “Petey Greene’s Washington.” He was also an AM radio personality. I wouldn’t say I was a fan, but you couldn’t grow up in D.C. without being familiar with his signature rappin’ sign-off:

I’ll tell it to the young, tell it to the old. Tell it to the hot, tell it to the cold. I don’t want no laughin’, don’t want no cryin’. And most of all, no signifyin’.”

About all I seemed to know about Petey Greene was that he was an ex-convict who got his community-activist hustle on, in tune with the times. And he was ghetto. Petey Greene was ghetto before ghetto crossed over. Nobody on TV was streetier than Petey. Case could be made that he was too ghetto… even for Chocolate City in the 1970s. (Yeah, I’m getting to the watermelon. Be cool, y’all. Damn.)

Greene died in 1984, but the legend lives on. The movie, directed by Kasi Lemmons, is “Talk to Me.” It’s supposed to be really good. I can’t wait to see it.

“Talk to Me” opens in limited release on July 13. It’ll also screen on June 21 to open the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Now, for those of you in need of lessons on how to eat watermelon, I present the man himself… Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Jr.:


bumpster said...

I wonder what Petey Greene would have to say today.

Undercover Black Man said...

Him and Marion Barry might still be partying hard.

Cal said...


Man that was some funny stuff. I was rollin' the whole time. I remember my mother and father discussing him. My Mom is deceased, so I don't really remember her take on him. I have to ask my Dad if he thought he was a con-man or not. But that clip is priceless...especially when he said "two country ass bamas". I went away to school and I was still talking my DC slang and they didn't know half of what I was talking about.

Nicholas said...

Sweet. Brought a smile to my face. I'm sure, with his rap, he did very well with the ladies, who probably made up two-thirds of the mourners.

BTW, in the islands, folks also eat some fruits with salt. Personally, I think it's nuts.

Nicholas Stix

Undercover Black Man said...

Cal: My favorite D.C. slang word that I never heard anyplace else...

'Flicted (which meant like "crippled" or "spastic").

Undercover Black Man said...

Nicholas: Thanks for hanging around and commenting!

If you're ever in L.A., reach out.

Rottin' in Denmark said...

I'm definitely seeing this when it comes out (i.e. renting it next time I'm back in the states, since this *hella* won't be screening in Copenhagen), but can we as a society make some sort of agreement to just be over the Trailer Dude?

Was your trailergoing experience remotely enhanced by Captain Gravel saying things like "In a time of change...one man who had something to prove...found what he was looking for...in the most unlikely place". There's a reason that voice has never been in an actual movie.

On the other hand, how else were we to learn that this summer, we would "discover... the extraordinary story ... of an outrageous voice ..."

sherifffruitfly said...

I wonder if that video is where my dad got his i'll-be-damned-if-i'm-gonna-stop-liking-watermelon attitude from, back in the day?

Oh - and wouldn't "'flicted" come from "afflicted"? Not to get all white & proper on you or anything...

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Indubitably. Your etymology is spot-on.

TL said...

you. have. got. to. be. kidding. me.

I swear that is someone in my family.

Oh Jebus, help us all. My dad uses a towel instead of a paper towel to wipe his mouth.

So many memories.