A little truth goes a long way, but a little lie goes farther.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
In Los Angeles, a new, multi-ethnic generation is redefining young American style.
By Bart Bull
(published in Vogue)
I'm looking -- staring actually -- at a handkerchief.
It's more than a handkerchief, though; it's an epiphany.
It is, without a doubt, the single most perfect isosceles triangle in all of Los Angeles tonight. It droops, languid in its linen perfection, from the breast picket of a navy blue blazer worn over a white boat-neck sweater, white linen pants, white silk shirt, and a firmly knotted navy silk tie. The handkerchief itself is a brave ocher-gold, a grand gesture against all that blue and white. But it's the droop that counts, that studied droop, much like one of Dali's soft watches oozing down from the pocket, a profound counterpoint to those precise angles. Frankly, I'm proud to be in the same room with a handkerchief so eloquent.
It's worn by Jose, who is nineteen and standing in the lobby of the Ukrainian Culture Center with his left hand resting lightly -- just so -- in the pocket of his high-waisted baggy trousers, acessorized by his fully achieved air of distraction. Jose is anything but distracted, of course. His attention is no less perfectly ponted than the cheese-slicing edge of his isosceles ocher-gold linen handkerchief. This is war, style war. The Ukrainian is tonight's central stop of the Fashion Crowd circuit and no one is anywhere near as distracted as the poses they're striking would suggest. Reputations will be reupholstered tonight, egos will suffer shattering defeats, and when the smoke clears, style will reign supreme.
What I noticed about the Fashion Crowd was that no one else in Los Angeles seemed to be noticing them -- and how could you miss them? They dress. They wear clothes as if their lives depend upon them. Grammar and syntax and vocabulary skills take time, but clothes are something you can shop for next Saturday morning.
The boys are especially devoted to staying in front of the pack. Ever alert to shifts in style, they are, like Jose of the isosceles droop, master of delicate nuance. These are guys who would rather die than be seen wearing drab socks, who can quite literally identify the designer of a tie at twenty paces. These are teenage boys who can walk around wearing their double-breasted jackets unbuttoned and still manage to look polished.
A great number of them live at home in order to avoid wasting money best spent on clothes. At lunch, they haunt the very best sections of the very best department stores. Their bedrooms are stacked with fashion magazines, and their phones stay busy with updated comparisons of last weekend's triumphs and disasters. Although the open-air alleys and wholesale showrooms of downtown LA's garment district are thick with them every weekend, only the most daringly secure would ever admit to buying anything other than their most playful shoes there. It's not true, of course, but they truly with it were.
The truth is that for many of the Hispanic members of the Fashion Crowd, their peers are still living in an old world of low riders and gangs, of fierce barrio territorialism that leads nowhere more glamorous than jail or a janitor job. There are gangs among the Asians too, as well as the equally terrifying Old World option of fulfilling the role of scrupulously dutiful son or daughter. But the more limiting those older possibilities seem, the more important the distinction becomes between the Fashion Crowd and their less fashionable peers.
The best-dressed guys -- known as "GQs" -- put considerable distance between their looks and anything that smacks of gangster style. Since low riders and gangbangers have been dressing for more than a decade in revisisionist variations on on the '40s zoot suit, the GQs are rapdily moving away from the formality of suits and ties, and on toward something more fanciful, more freewheeling. Last summer's GQ cliche was the omnipresent varsity look, crew sweaters over ties with the hair buzzed almost comically short on the sides in apparent emulation of the Princeton sculling crew of 1926. Currently, though, the GQs prefer long hair tied back or flying free, and the most daring are adopting entire looks built around rough suede cowboy boots or white turtlenecks worn tunic style. "I'm tired of ties," one of the GQ trendsetters told me. "I work at a law firm downtown -- all I see all day long is ties."
The Vogues are evry bit as intent on widening the gap between themselves and their counterparts, who are referred to, in the deepest tones of derision that a teenager can muster, as "Cha-Chas." While the Vogues are inclined toward hats and gloves and Chanel-inspired ensembles, the Cha-Chas (though no one will ever admit to being a Cha-Cha) settle for miniskirts, high heels, and dramatic makeup that is only a small evolutionary step away from the girl-gangsters' "loca" look. The Cha-Chas, less willing to abandon traditional Latin styles, will typically have longer hair, often teased into the high-crowned look the Vogues call "lionhead." Vogues, ever inclined to emphasize the distance from everyting the Cha-Cha represents, are currently acquiring Louise Brooks bobs or dramatically brief pageboys. No cocktail parties exist in thier lives, but should an invitation appear, they're dressed for the occasion.
Given the social mobility available in California, in the West, in this truly New World, it's entirely possible that the elegant cocktail party will be their next accomplishment. Young as they are, these kids dress with more verve and wit and can actually be seen at any contemporary evening affair, and the clubs and dances they attend on the party circuit exist, everyone agrees, essentially for display. They even dance together in large groups, in circles rather than couples, the better to admire each other, and the better to remind the outsider of the supreme uniqueness of their clique. At a time when the ouside world seems fixated on archaic fantasies of hot-blooded Latin style, no one here takes particular pride in their dancing. It's the look, the style, the leaps and flourishes of fashion that count. And for tonight, in their remarkably polyglot beauty and taste, they looke even more stylish than they have ever looked before. Tomorrow night is just an evening in the future, a fashionable instant yet to be invented.
Monday, November 24, 2008
A Tale of One City: Or, Once Upon A Time In The Southwest; Or, Not A Metaphor for Phoenix, Arizona, That's For Dang Sure!
(written for The Arizona Republic; not particularly published there, though)
Once upon a time there was a city, a big city.
It was so big it was a giant. It wasn’t a particularly smart giant, or an especially graceful one, but it sure was big, even for a giant. And it was still growing.
Well, kids, this giant city wanted to be admired and respected and appreciated. Like all of us, it wanted to be loved. And not just for being so damn -- oops, sorry, kids --so darn big. This city wanted to be admired for its beauty, its taste, its artistic sensibilities, its wisdom. It wanted to be what some people call "a world class city."
It wanted to be in the big leagues.
And it was, in certain ways. It sure was big.
And still growing too. It had a lot of golf courses. And some of them were world class ones. And they were all real big, awful big. It had a bunch of parks, including the absolute very biggest park in the whole wide world. And the fact that being the site of the biggest darn park in the world didn’t make anybody feel any better about anything only made the city feel bigger and dumber and more awful than ever.
Because the city really did feel kind of big and dumb and awful. There were a lot of other big things in the city -- big fountains and big freeways and big malls with big fountains and big houses with big yards in big gated communities with big fountains of their own but it didn’t make the city feel any more lovable. Just more awful.
Every once in a while -- not that often but every once in a while -- the giant city got an idea, a big idea, a really big idea. Other cities had giant-sized convention centers -- maybe it should get a really gigantic convention center and stick it right in the middle of downtown, right where the stores and people used to go, and then everybody would really love it.
And yet , oddly, nobody loved it. Nobody came.
Oh, sure, conventions came to the convention center, but they took one quick look at downtown and went straight back to their hotel and had the concierge book them a tee-time at a big world-class golf course. And then they went home again. As soon as possible. So the giant city decided maybe its convention center wasn’t big enough.
And maybe it needed some other stuff downtown too, like gigantic arts centers and massive major megalithic sports stadiums. Stuff like that.
The big giant ever-growing city had heard rumors. Frankly, it didn’t get around much but it had heard talk of other cities and how they had downtowns and other districts that were something called “vibrant.”
The giant city didn’t know very much about what “vibrant” was but it figured it wanted to buy some quick. So it paid through the nose -- the giant-sized nose.
World class cities all had mass transit, so the giant city figured it better send out for some of that too, even though it didn’t quite understand why. Because the giant city had a lot of giant freeways that went all over the place. It had even turned the little two-way streets that used to go in and out of downtown into big giant one-way streets that worked just like freeways. But it went ahead and bought a big hunk of mass transit anyway. It really wanted very badly to be loved, after all.
But even if it was guilty of looking for love in all the wrong places, it couldn’t seem to help from making the same mistakes over and over again. It kept shopping for expensive new outfits that would make it more attractive. It went on a lot of dates with a lot of new suitors but once they’d had their way, well, it always woke up feeling lonely and even emptier.
Well, you can guess what happened, can’t you, kids?
The big giant unlovable city kept making big giant unlovable grand gestures, and they didn’t make it any more lovable, only more laughable. And it wasn’t like it wasn’t trying, for God’s sake. It was paying big therapy bills, going to experts and university presidents and PR firms, and getting no relief whatsoever. The only friends it seemed to have were big developers and people on the payroll, and sometimes it wondered if they were just pretending to love the giant city in order to use for their own purposes.
But you’re worried that this tale of one city might not have a happy ending, aren’t you? Well, it does.
Because one day, completely out of the blue, a wonderful wizard magically appeared, waved his mighty wand, said an astonishing secret incantation, and all of the giant city’s great dreams and grand gestures came true! Yes! It really happened. Just like that! Really! You bet. Now go to bed, kids, pull those covers over your head, and go back to sleep.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
"If you would learn from Leadbelly, you should look deeper to find his greatest qualities. In other words, don't just imitate his Southern accent: Learn his straightforward honesty, vigor, and strength."
—Pete Seeger, from "The 12-String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly: An Instruction Manual by Julius Lester and Pete Seeger"; published by Oak Publications
"It is impossible to separate Huddie Ledbetter and his songs from the Negro South."
"Leadbelly — Huddie Ledbetter — was a man of depth who did not mask his contrasting moods... To me he was a guide and a teacher in country life, in politics, in Jim Crow."
—Moses Asch, Folkways Records owner and entrepreneur
"Because don't forget Because there is a a book riting about my Life and I don't think nothing about that Book . . . Because Lomax did not rite nothing like i told Him."
—Huddie Ledbetter (aka Leadbelly, aka Lead Belly, aka Walter Boyd)
"To which we must still add: if it hadn't been for old John Lomax, we would never have known Leadbelly, his genius, and his songs."
—Pete Seeger and Julius Lester
"Lead Belly drives the Lomax car
And he is never tired;
He's a better man, John Lomax vows,
Than any he ever hired.
He sings at prisons to convict throngs
And helps John Lomax gather songs."
—from a poem by William Rose Benet, The New Yorker, January 19, 1935
He was big, Benet declaimed (of Leadbelly, not Lomax) and he was black, and wondrous were his wrongs (we're still talking Leadbelly here, not Lomax). He was what scholars of the blues would call "a songster," by which they mean any old black guy who sang stuff other than just blues. It was a definition enforced by people perfectly capable of turning their own rectums into telescopes; there may never have been a black guy who only did blues, but ever since white folks first heard the phrase "the blues," they've been damn sure there ought to be.
For all the literary reams on Robert Johnson and his abbreviated recording career, for all the Lucky Strike-wreathed romance of hellhounds and crossroads, Johnson's hokum tunes like "They're Red Hot" ("Hot tamales and they're red hot/Yeah, got 'em for sale..." and pop attempts like "Malted Milk" manage to never much get mentioned. They're an embarassment, an offense against high romance, usually blamed against the insensitivity and/or commercial venalityof a previous generation's white blues entrepreneurs. Almost entirely unrecognized is the fact that the "bluesmen" were dance musicians and street performers who lived and survived and thrived by throwing all manner of change-up pitches. Almost entirely unremarked is the degree to which The Blues were demanded by generation after generation of white people -- first by the early record men who attached the magic word "blues" to anything and everything black folks did, and then generation after generation of field-recording "folk researchers" whose demand for blues has powerfully and effectively distorted what little is understood about the music of rural black Americans. For our purposes here, we can divide these people into two categories: obnoxious pirates and damn fools; curiously, as in the case of the preponderance of "bluesmen" over "songsters," there seem to be far more of the former than the latter.
Songsters were originally books, books full of songs from the minstrel stage, and big-lipped blackface pictures usually too. To be a black American musician has been to be insistently spanked into place, to be hectored by critics whenever you failed to be a "bluesman" or a "songster," when you veered too far from whatever definition of "jazz" somebody was wielding warily in the direction of "rhythm & blues" or in the direction of "strings" with their suggestion of symphonic sensibilities. The initial reviews the Fisk Jubilee Singers received when they went north from Nashville in 1871 were lousy, rotten, stink-o. The rock critics of the day didn't dig 'em, saw stoic black college students in suits and dignified dresses singing concert-style "Negro spirituals," and missed the minstrel man flash, the jigaboo jazz jive, the niggerisms. Once they got hepped, however, to the authenticity of it all (in part, at least by Mark Twain, who was so deeply Southern he pretty much never went home again), the reviews straightened out. When it comes to white critics and black music, they buy "Authentic" every time.
"Along with these in point of service I must place that group of Negro 'boys' who this summer, cheerfully and with such manifest friendliness, gave up for the time their crap and card games, their prayer meetings, their much needed Sunday and evening rest to sing for Alan and me -- that group whose real names we omit for no other reason than to print the substituted picturesque nicknames."
—John Lomax, from "Acknowledgment" in "American Ballads and Folk Songs"
"A folk song belongs to no one in particular - it belongs to everyone. Even though we may know the writer of a song which later became a folksong, we can say that without the people who went before him - to give him the rich background against which to create his song - he could never have written that song."
—Peggy Seeger, from her entirely non-ironically titled "Folksongs of Peggy Seeger," Oak Publications. (Peggy Seeger's husband Ewan MacColl wr0te "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," and she receives international publishing royalties on that song, which Billboard magazine declared both Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1972, as well as on numerous compositions of her own and of others.)
Huddie Ledbetter was not poverty's child. His parents owned the land they worked near Caddo Lake at the border between East Texas and Louisiana, a land where white folks were often sharecroppers. He was strong and smart and loud and sexy, all of which have historically been problems for a black man in our country, all of which surely were blessings and a curse for him. He attacked a woman and killed a man, maybe two, maybe more, and did prison time for murder. The legends say he sang his way out, and the legends seem to be right. Between prison terms, he did five years on the street, which, in my experience with ex-cons, ain't bad. He went back to the joint on "assault with intent to murder." These things happen.
"The singer found it difficult to shed the habit of quick anger he had acquired during his years as a roustabout," the New York Times said in his obituary. He did jail time in New York too, for stabbing a man. That part was disturbing to the folk who needed him to be St. Belly of Lead, patron saint of patronization. He had failed to understand how truly, truly different things were up North, here in New York City, where Folkways Records were recorded. "Perhaps he wondered at my earnestness," says Pete Seeger, "trying to learn folkmusic." Perhaps.
Perhaps John Lomax had helped him get loose from prison during his second stretch, but whether he actually did or not, once Ledbetter was free, Lomax found a lot of handy uses for him. "Honorary Consultant in American Folk Song and Curator of the Folk Song Archives of the Library of Congress," Lomax was cobbling a career out of "collecting" other folks' music, and he knew where Negro folks were at their purest: "In the prison camps . . . the conditions were practically ideal." For collectors, anyway. Once Ledbetter was loose, Lomax took him on as chauffeur, as valet, as live bait to be dangled before other prisoners in hope of softening their suspicions. Payment was to be negotiated later, another folk music tradition. They left Marshall Texas, and set off straight Northeast. First stop: Little Rock.
Paramount Pictures; starring Elvis Presley, with Barbara Stanwyck, Leif Erickson, and Pat Buttram.
Dynamic singer-guitarist Charlie Rodgers (Elvis Presley) is fired from his gig at a teahouse, wrecks his motorcycle, and has a run-in with the law, so he takes a job with the carnival. With Jack Albertson, Billy Barty, Teri Garr, Raquel Welch, and Sue Ann Langdon as the gypsy fortune teller.
Lomax was a pioneering arts-grant racketeer, an Aggie prof who went on to Harvard—no denser brick can be compressed out of red kiln-fired clay. His first book, a collection of cowboy songs, borrowed liberally from a little-known collection by another less scholarly-inclined author, Jack Thorp. Carrying a transcription machine around with him, he established the archetypal field-recording folklorist, more to be feared than wondered at, more to be fled from than sung at. Equipped with all the urges toward authenticity that have always driven white men to blackface, he was doing his pseudo-academic best to establish minstrelsy by machine. Further along, some field-recorders might change his methods—most would not—but the ethical standards he set have remained remarkably consistent.
Once he had his hands on Ledbetter, he knew he'd collected hisself a live one. He dressed Ledbetter in prison stripes, coon stripes, the stripes of minstrelsy, the not far from faux-nigger stripes of what would become Dixieland and of barbershop quartets, and brought him before East Coast audiences. Not much of a liberal himself, he knew how to work bleeding-heart Northerners like a pinball machine. A minstrel show was still a hot ticket up North, even if the white man was no longer weraring blackface, even if he was wearing an entire black man instead.
Huddie Ledbetter learned quick how politically-correct bread was buttered, and on which side. He learned to knock off singing about Brownskin Women and Yaller Gals, to hold back on all the Pigmeat Papa stuff. Prissy young Pete Seeger and his permanently PC Weavers would change the words of "Good Night, Irene" to "I'll see you in my dreams..." from the darker, dirtier, more dangerous "I'll get you in my dreams." Nothing like a fool, Leadbelly learned to fake the party line and commenced singing something he called "The Bourgeois Blues." It was a title that cut on every edge, more edges than the Folkways folk have ever understood.
John Lomax lost all semblance of scholarly objectivity when Leadbelly insisted on doing some collecting of his own: he wanted to collect his pay. More, he wanted out of the jailbird stripes and into a pin-striped suit. John's folk-collecting son Alan Lomax describes the clash: "Two such strong temperaments can seldom collaborate," he wrote. It was a rare and historic instance of a folklorist using the word "collaborate"— even if it was a hilarious malaprop—and should be cherished for its scarcity, then stuffed and placed in a museum, properly labeled, enclosed in a glass case, for public display and the annotated attentions of appropriately-accredited academics. In the Lomax's 1941 book, "Our Singing Country," they laundry-list a blind singer from the Ozarks, dispossessed Texas sharecroppers, a retired cowpuncher, a "Georgy cracker," farmer's wives (if not their daughters), a tomato-canning factory worker, a New England scissors griner, a miner's wife who became a union organizer, a Vermont lumberjack now a car salesman, and that undisguisable dustbowl (and thus dispossessed -- and gritty!) balladmaker, Woody the G. It's practically the entire Popular Front, front and back. It's pathetic and bathetic, Jim. Woe is Us, We The People. Finally, way, way, way down the line, Lomax Pere et Junior get around to naming, folk anonymity or no, ".....the singers who have moved us beyond all others that we have heard between Maine and New Mexico"—and no explanation of why they skipped Arizona and California which I admit pisses me right off —"the Negroes who in our opinion have made the most important and original contributions to American folksong." They name Aunt Harriet McClintock, they name the deadly deathly dull spiritual singers Vera Hall and Dock Read, they name "Dobie Red." They name "Iron Head," but they don't, do not, can not, will not say the cursed name of Lead Belly. They say "Iron Head" instead.
"Iron Head," see, was quite a character—quite a character. By 1947, Lomax had a lot of stories about "Iron Head" for his latest bring-'em-back-alive book, "Adventures of a Ballad Hunter." Lomax had personally gotten "Iron Head" temporarily paroled, see: "Thus, I picked this Negro singer of English ballads, of Ol Hannah, Little John Henry, The Gray Goose, Black Betty, Shorty George, Pick A Bale of Cotton, The Ol' Lady' -- yet this is Leadbelly's repertoire, oddly enough -- and other 'sinful songs,' to be my chauffeur and companion..." Best of all, this time, if 'Iron Head' got biggity, why, right back to prison he goes! But 'Iron Head' is a far more cooperative Negro than that doggone old Lead Belly ever was -- why, he admits that he was guilty of his crimes, for one thing, and when Lomax returns to New York, the place where Lead Belly was corrupted, "Iron Head' "...held on to me in terror." Even so, despite all that Mister Lomax tried to do for him, "Iron Head" eventually lands back in prison, incorrigible, unredeemable. "I should have left him in Sugarland..." to weave horse collars, Cap'n Lomax says, sadder, but much, much wiser.
There may have been, sort of, an "Iron Head." There is a furlough slip, nothing like a pardon, leaving a prisoner named Iron Head in the hands of John Lomax. A man, once upon a time named James Baker, was imprisoned in Texas, and identified only as Ironhead, he recorded some work songs for the Lomax machine. (Those recordings have a half-life that we are only beginning to suspect, by the way, but of course, as a prisoner, as a black man in prison, as a folk artifact, as an object and subject and reject and abject and construct of culture and Folk and of the frighteningly oxymoronic term "field-recording" with its creepy sub-harmonic resonances that reach beyond the slave labor that built the Pharoahs' echo-chamber tombs, well, we can only begin to speculate. Unless, of course, we care to look at the collection of publishing royalties, where reverberations transform themselves mysteriously into revenues.)
But if there was an Iron Head, his identity was swallowed, eaten alive, by Lomax's hunger, by his need to fix Huddie Ledbetter, who was succeeding in surviving in New York City, while he, John Lomax, a once-and-former-Texas banker, a fully graduated Aggie educator, an honored lecturer at Modern Language Association conventions, a guy who could pull out greasy dog-eared letters showing him to be an Honorary Consultant to some goofy governmental boondoggle with a damn official-looking letterhead, was flopping around looking for ways to scrape a living together still. Lomax was doing his dim Aggie damndest to write Leadbelly right out of history. He fucked up, mostly because he'd done to thorough a public relations job folk-pimping him in the first place. All the same, it was a less painful failure than it would have been had he and Alan and Folkways not ended up with their names on Huddie Ledbetter's publishing. That way, songs like "Goodnight, Irene," (the biggest pop music hit of 1950, with it's astonishing resulting effect, and its near-eternal flood of royalty revenues), and "In the Pines," and "House of the Rising Sun," and "Midnight Special," and "Boll Weevil," and "Rock Island Line" would be distinguished by the Lomax name, which in turn would make certain that publishing royalty revenues that might have been squandered on liquor and flashy clothes and such by an ungrateful Negro might go to a better, larger, more important cause.
"So here's to John A. Lomax
And to Orpheus his peer,
With a voice that makes brown ladies swoon,
And a scar from ear to ear..."
—William Rose Benet
"As the half century came to a close Huddie Ledbetter ended his walk through the valley of the shadow and sat down at that welcome table specifically prepared for Scott Joplin, and Dan Emmett, for Black Patti and John Henry, for Buddy Bolden and Blind Lemon. Like the rest of that happy company of American singers, Leadbelly had opened a road for the others who would come after."
—Alan Lomax, from "The Leadbelly Song Book," Oak Publications. (Nearly all copyrights would include either Alan or John Lomax's name or both; only some would include Huddie Ledbetter.)
[Among the happy company Alan Lomax has assembled to greet Leadbelly in that Upper Room's upper balcony, what Carl Van Vechten's novel called "Nigger Heaven," are: Scott Joplin, ragtime composer who died impoverished of syphyllis; the early white blackface minstrel Dan Emmett; the unprecedented "Black Patti," properly named Sissieretta Jones, who triumphed worldwide at the turn of the 20th Century as among the greatest opera singers in all history, though unable to break through the minstrelsy barriers, and who died thieved and penniless; John Henry, the mythic, fantastic, fictional folkloric figure who died with a hammer in his hand; Buddy Bolden, the emblematic New Orleans trumpeter who languished and died in an insane asylum; and Blind Lemon Jefferson, the master blues singer and guitarist and recording artist and street performer whom the young Huddie Ledbetter served journeyman duties alongside, and who died of exposure on a frozen Chicago street.]
"To ballad-makers, long dead and nameless; to the jokey boys whose smiles are dust; to the singers of the lumberwoods, the cattle trail, the chain gang, the kitchen ... and to the horny-handed, hospitable, generous, honest, and inspired folk-artists who carved thse songs out of the rock of their lives, we dedicate this, their own book.
—Dedication of "Folk Song U.S.A.", collected, adapted, and arranged by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax; Alan Lomax, Editor; Charles Seeger and Ruth Crawford Seeger, Music Editors (piano arrangements by Charles and Ruth Seeger); copyright 1947 by John A. and Alan Lomax.All rights reserved. Permission to reprint material from this book must be obtained in writing, except that brief selections may be quoted in connection with a newspers magazine or radio review. All requests for permission should be addressed to the publishers.
The 12-String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly; Pete Seeger (2 cassette set)
Pete Seeger Sings Leadbelly
Ballads of Black America; Pete Seeger and Revernd Frederick Douglas Kirkpatrick
Washboard Band Country Dance Music; Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee
Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry; Recorded at Their Carnegie Hall Concert
Bantu Choral Fok Songs; Pete Seeger and the Song Swappers
Songs to Grow On; Pete Seeger and Leadbelly
How I Hunted the Little Fellows; by Zhitzov as recited by Pete Seeger
Folksongs of Four Continents; Pete Seeger
The Story of the Nativity; Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger Sings and Answers Questions
—from the Folkways Records catalog, which features 53 Pete Seeger albums and 11 collections including Pete Seeger; 8 Peggy Seeger albums and 10 by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl; 4 by Mike Seeger and 16 by his New Lost City Ramblers. Under SEEGER, PETE: see American Fok, American Folk Collections, African-American Traditions, African-American Traditions Spoken Collections, Blues/R&B, Blues/R&B Collections, Soundtracks-Musicals-Radio, Children's Recordings, Christmas and Holiday, Historical Collections, Music Instruction
"Administered by the Smithsonians's Office of Folklife Programs, Folkways Records is one of the ways the Office supports culture conservations and continuity, integrity, and equity for traditional artists and cultures."
—from "Folkways Recordings; The Asch Legacy" by Anthony Seeger, Curator, The Folkways Collection, April 1991
Currently, the BMI catalog contains 890 compositions with Alan Lomax listed as songwriter or composer; John A. Lomax is listed as the author of 694 titles; in both cases, based on legal issues or royalty revenue stream preferences, other songs are listed with ASCAP, PRS, or other international collection societies.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
by Bart Bull
"Just minutes away from showtime!” the deejay at Fantasy World announces. “We’re only minutes away from Miss Chesty Morgan and her monstrous 76-inch mountains." We’ve been just minutes away from Miss Chesty Morgan for about two hours now but this time the deejay happens to be telling the truth. In the meantime, he’s got a question he wants to ask. “Is thisapartyheretonightorwhat?”
Her first appearance is from the floor by the side of the stage. She’s wearing a green-and-silver-spangled gown and an immense matching sunhat and she strolls the audience slowly, silently, her face set in ethereal abstraction. “Tits!” screams a fan. “Show us your tits!” She strolls on, silent all the while, then goes to the stage. Stepping lightly forward, stepping lightly back, stepping stage left to stage right and back again, she walks with the
concentration of someone balancing a beer bottle on her head. When she takes off a piece of her gown and reveals an even more generous portion of herself, the nightclub crowd goes wild.
“Can you believe those bazoomas?”asks the deejay. “TITS!” screams a fan.
She steps forward, she steps back. She holds a beer bottle between them and shakes, then does the same with a pitcher. She squeezes them together between her forearms, releases, then squeezes them again. She steps forward and back, steps back and forward. She says nothing, nothing at all.
When it’s over, the emcee brings her back to speak with the audience. “Hi, everybody,” she says. Her accent is broad and surprisingly thick. “It’s so difficult for me chust to carry my boobs, I dun’t have time really to do anyt’ink else.”
“You know, fel-lows, do we have any leg men in the audience? No leg men?”
“Pussy!” yells a fan.
“I kind off like dose leg men to get to see more,” she says, bending a knee, “because I usual get the wat-er-mel-on men come up to see my show, I would say so. Fel-lows, I feel my boobs belong to the public, they’re only ehtteched-uh to me. If I could, I would like for you to touched them but it’s ehgainst the law to touch et, really — that’s the Ar-izona law, you know.
“By the way, you know, fel-lows, I just got a divorce. The reason was we could not get to-gether because of my big boobs. Thet’s why I gotta divorce, huh. My husbend did try to drown me but no chence-uh. I took cold shower lest night, you know, but my feet still kept warm, believe it or no. Yes. I stay at the Hilton Hotel. Goink into the olovator, believe it or no, I kept the olovator from closink. Yes.”
The crowd is restless. They’re here for tits, not talk. “I can’t understand a fuckin’ word she’s saying,” complains a fan. Somebody is hollering at her from the back of the room.
“Who is dot big mout’ — do you heve any question, you big mout’? Chust a minute, honey, get you hands out of you pockets — no self-entertainment. Thenk you. Appreciate. Yes. What is you question, honey?”
The deejay holds the microphone for the fan. “Does anybody ever give you a hard time about the size of your chest when you go anywhere?”
“What, what?! I didn’t hear you?”
“Does anybody ever give you, you know, a rough time about the size of your tits — in other words, do people get freaked out about the size of your tits when you go out in public?”
“Honey, I chust knock them down.” She gets a laugh from the crowd. “Sweetheart, I chust knock them down.”
“You just kind of take those boogers and slap ‘em in their head, huh?" says the deejay.
“Thet’s right, honey. If I fall down, I bounce op wit’ no prob-lem.”
Another question from the audience. “Can you see your feet?”
“No honey. I don’t wanna see my feet-uh — I let the men see et, honey. I love my legs, and I love men and therefore I want them to see my legs. It’s so difficult for me just to car-ry my boobs, I don’t have time really to do anyt’ink else. That’s heavy weight really, you know. Very very difficult, you know. Appreciate you very much, very much. I would love for you to touch them, honey, but it’s ehgainst the law. I wish fellows that you could see it that they’re real. Thenk you very much for comink tonight — do appreciate you comink tonight, thank you very much.”
“The lovely Miss Chesty Morgan, ladies and gentlemen. Miss Chesty Morgan. Let’s put your hands together for seventy-six inches of incredible, amazing bazoomas! Insured by Lloyds of London! For one million dollars! Put your hands together for the lovely Chesty Morgan! Two more shows tonight, ladies and gentlemen, he sure to stick around! We are going to party!”