Archive for the Uncategorized Category

We Won a Battle…..

Posted in Chauvin Convicted on All Counts, Uncategorized with tags , on April 21, 2021 by playthell

Racist Killer Cop Escorted to Jail

But We Could Still Lose the War!

After watching the masterful case put on by the prosecution, with airtight arguments by a variety of expert witnesses establishing the guilt of Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd last May 25 – which ruined my birthday – I wondered what would happen if this killer white cop were acquitted, or even if there was a hung jury.  Considering the rage I felt at the thought of either outcome, I shuddered for the fate of my country when I reflected upon what enraged youths might do.  As I felt like throwing a Molotov cocktail at a police station, and I am not anti-police.  I think talk about abolishing the police, or disarming them, is reckless folly.

Given the rampages of armed criminals, especially in low income black and Latin communities, either alternative would be suicidal.  We need armed police, we just need to weed out the ignorant racists, and see to it that they protect and serve law abiding citizens and shoot armed criminals who pose a danger to citizens or themselves.  And the struggle to achieve these ends continues.

Hence, I think the celebrations after the guilty verdict against the former cop turned convict, may have claimed a greater victory than was won.  Some observers, such as Dr. Jason Johnson, a professor of political science and journalism at Morgan State University, in the troubled city of Baltimore, thought the celebrations excessive, because the outcome of this case might prove a pyric victory that could be an asset to the reactionary forces opposing wider police reform.

His fear is that the effusive praise of a verdict, won after the extraordinary efforts of the prosecution, obscures the fact this this should have been an open and shut case, a prima facie case of guilt.  After all, the whole world watched the murder in living color on television, thanks to the diligence and courage of the new breed of citizen journalists like 17-year-old Danella Frazier, armed with cell phone cameras, who are recording police brutality in on the scene.  However, while Johnson’s fear of the real possibility that this case will be used to oppose wider efforts at police reform has merit, Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and professor of Law at the University of Alabama, believes that this guilty verdict will act as “a deterrent” to future police abuse of power.

Yet the real test of the importance of this case will be decided by the extent to which it is able to influence the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is being debated in the US Senate as I write.  This bill contains a package of reforms that will put the full force of the federal government behind the victims of police abuse of authority, putting an end to it.  This is of critical importance because it will create a uniform standard for police conduct nationwide, removing the disciplining of abusive officers from the incestuous snake pit of local politics.

The history of racial oppression in the former Confederate states in the South demonstrates the effectiveness of federal power in pursuing racial justice.  In the aftermath of the Civil War, the defeated southern slave masters and their poor cracker dupes – who had fought and died to preserve a system of slave labor that denied them any chance of achieving better working conditions and wages for themselves because they were competing with unpaid labor that had no rights – attempted to re-enslave the black population with a series of hastily passed laws that became known as the “Black Codes.”

Andrew Johnson, the anti-Confederate white southerner that became president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, opposed slavery precisely for the role it played in impoverishing the class of white southerners from which he hailed, but was a devout white supremacist, and opposed efforts by Congress to empower the freedmen – as the newly emancipated former slaves were called.  This provoked congress, led by anti-slavery members such as Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania in the House, and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts in the Senate, to take over the rebuilding of the nation from the ruins of Civil War and introduce a plan for “Radical Reconstruction.”

During this period 1866- 76 the Congress passed seven Civil Rights bills and added three amendments to the constitution. The 13, 14 and 15 Amendments, known as the “Reconstruction Amendments, were designed to end chattel slavery permanently, confer citizenship and equal rights on the Freedman, and extend the voting franchise to them, giving them a vote in deciding who shall govern them.  The results of these federal laws dramatically elevated the status of the Freedman.

However, most of these gains were nullified with the retreat of federal protections beginning with the Compromise in the Presidential election of 1877, and a series of defeats in the Supreme Court culminating in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which stood the crucial Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment on its head, and created the legal basis for racial segregation everywhere in the US, with it’s infamous “Separate but Equal” doctrine.

This doctrine quickly resulted in the creation of a legal racial caste that was separate but manifestly unequal, until the Brown v The Board of Ed decision of 1954 – argued by the brilliant Afro-American litigator Thurgood Marshall and his team of lawyers from the NAACP – resulted in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court that “Separate is inherently unequal.”  Yet it took the Omnibus Civil rights Bill of 1964 and the Voting rights Act of 1965, to restore Afro-American Americans to the status we had enjoyed in 1875!

As I write, the spate of voter suppression laws being passed by Republican controlled legislatures around the country – a reaction to their defeat by Democrats in the last election with the Afro-American vote making the difference – in conjunction with “anti-riot” laws cropping up in some states, threatens a similar reversal of hard-won gains. This is why federal protections from official police violence is critical to the well being and progress of Afro-Americans. The prevention of such protections have been consistently  opposed by racists, which is the paramount reason for our failure to get an anti-law on the books for a century; the most recent attempt championed by Afro-American senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris – who has since become the first female Vice President –  was defeated in the Senate just a couple of years ago.

This is why the struggle must now focus on getting the Senate to pass the Bill sent up from the House, which was vociferously opposed by House Republicans, as is exemplified by the rancorous debate between that pugnacious pasty-faced charlatan Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, and beautiful, brilliant Val Demings – of Florida, a former police chief with 27 years in policing. Beauty and the beast! Hence the true measure of the Victory in the Chauvin conviction will ultimately be determined by the outcome of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.  I will have more to say about the trial itself, and what it tells us about the state of American jurisprudence in a forthcoming essay.

 

JUBLIATION!

They Thanked Everybody from God to the Jurors

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
April 21, 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Harlem Darky’s Daughter

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2021 by playthell
 The Embodiment of Oshun

 Reveries of a Caribbean Conjure Woman

Sweet T&T/My Country/I want you to know….I love you 

She loved to Jump up and wind to sensuous Calypso beats, flashing a joyous smile as luminous as the Caribbean sun.  Her generously proportioned ebony physique was molded into dangerous curves that drove men, wise men and fools, and some women, to distraction.  Silky satiny chocolate skin, luscious lips that begged a kiss, high cheekbones surrounding a prominent nose revealing her Afro-Carib genealogy, jutting mammary mounds and jaunting  Gluteus Maximus – tits and ass in spades – with long curvaceous legs worthy of a star mud kickin ho.

She spoke with the melodious mellifluous sing song sounds of her enchanted island of the Three Peaks, sounds so sweet it put the song birds to shame as the took to the skies in silence.  Indeed, even the forces of nature seemed bewitched by her charms.  And no man who ever loved her, that she deigned to love back, was ever free of her spell; she constantly intruded into their waking thoughts causing pauses as they went about their labors….and even invaded their dreams.  Only the grave could free their body and souls from her black magic.

This is no mere hearsay, idle chatter, or second-hand gossip.  I know whereof I speak, for I been bewitched by the conjurations of this mahogany Enchantress, the natural issue from the luscious ebony lions of the intoxicatingly beautiful “Harlem Darkie;” a soubriquet bestowed by her village, because her extravagantly seductive beauty seemed made for that marvelous Negro metropolis in uptown Manhattan – center of that seductive colossus in the decadent dynamic wilderness of North America – the most famous cultural community in Babylon.  Harlem, a place of such legendary beauties the world was forced to take notice after the Poet Laureate Langston penned panegyrics to them in his epic poem Harlem Sweeties: ”[Peach-skinned girlie, Coffee and cream, Chocolate darling out of a dream.” And Maestro Ellington painted marvelous musical portraits of them in “Black, brown and Beige  Suite, and “Black and Tan Fantasy.”

Oshun and Yemaya: A Black and Tan Fantasy Jumping up at Carnival

Naughty Trini Gals     

Harlem Darkie’s mysterious beauty evoked all this…and more. Oshun the Conjurer was her daughter, inheriting her gorgeous gams, comely chocolate complexion and lustrous crown of black hair. I am her happy bondsman, permanently fettered by amorous chains. This tale will tell…how I fell under her spell.

Harlem Darkie
Where Oshun Got her Beauty

 It Only took a Minute Girl…

I had only been in my new office for a couple of days when I had the sudden urge to go to the restroom, which was shared by the principal and teachers of a school for young children.  A young man that worked in the building directed me to a stairway and told me the restroom was located at the top, just turn right and I would see the door, which bore a sign.  As I reached the bottom of the stairs and looked up, my eyes immediately fixated on a pair of long, luscious, exquisitely sculpted legs, covered in a rich satiny smooth deep chocolate skin.  As I raised my gaze, I caught a glimpse of generous gams that exploded from a compact waist into curvy baby making hips. And as my eyes continued their upward trajectory while climbing the narrow stairway, her generous breast was suddenly in my face.

I greeted her as we passed and she graciously responded, flashing a quicksilver smile as lovely as first morning light that animated her beautiful face, then quickly casting her lovely brown eyes downward, away from my persistent gaze.  Her voice had the musicality of the Caribbean Isles from whence she came, yet despite her modesty and proper demeanor she was enticingly hot and gave off  sensuous vibes as our bodies nearly touched in passing on the narrow stairs. In a flash of the spirit, I was struck in the heart by Cupid’s arrow…I was smitten.

Dying to know who this dark and lovely woman was, I hasted to my officed and called François, the Haitian fellow who had directed me to the restroom.  “Who is that tall beautiful sexy creature with the exotic accent that works upstairs.”  Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Oh you must mean Ms. Padmore,” I was intrigued by her name, since it was famous in the Caribbean Isles, and belonged to a hero of the race.  But then he warned, “Yes, she is beautiful, but she is happily married”.

For a moment I was deterred by the disappointing news.  Having come of age in the 1960’s, in the savage wilds of Babylon, a troubled time when the America nation was in turmoil,  when all the traditional values were viewed with a jaundiced eye and up for question, I had not been a  respecter of matrimonial claims.  If I wanted a woman and she was willing,  I just seduced her into an adulterous affair…taking her from her husband altogether on more than one occasion.

Thrice I had been shot at by enraged cuckholds, I was alive to play another day only because they had been bad shots and their hands were trembling with rage, a condition that could cause even a sharpshooter to miss.  As I had grown older and wiser –I was 23 the last time I had been shot  at – and I was reluctant to press my luck.  After all, the next dude might be a cold-blooded killer.  So, I was thinking about chillin on the whole thing…to just play past the charms of this sensuous Caribbean queen who had suddenly appeared in my midst like a generous gift of the Gods.

But then, at the end of the workday, I happened to gaze out of my window and glimpse her walking down the sidewalk.  The graceful swing sway motion with which she moved, her bountiful booty bouncing about like two melons in a grocery sack, she looked like her goody-gap was so good it felt good to her every time she took a step!  I was reminded of that song by the folk blues singer Taj Mahal:” I know you ain’t no street walkin woman…but I sho loves the way you struts yo stuff!” Overcome with wonder/lust, I wanted to taste the juice box of this succulent chocolate delight, literally and figuratively, so I began to devise a plan to seduce her.

 Executing the Plan

 All I knew about the lady whom I was trying to ensnare was her full name, Muriel Padmore; she was married to a prosperous businessman; she was teacher of small children; a Caribbean immigrant; a proper lady in style and manners, the kind of highly civilized British West Indian that always used her butter knife to push food onto a fork in moderate portions.  And after having witnessed the way she wiggled when she walked, I strongly suspected that just underneath that placid proper prissy surface lurked a voracious sexy beast yearning to be set free. And I intended to be her liberator.

I began by secretly giving her the name Oshun, because she reminded me of the beautiful Yoruba Goddess of erotic love, the West African counterpart of the Roman and Greek Goddesses Venus and Aphrodite.  Muriel seemed to embody the physical attributes of Oshun as I imagined her, with lush sexy curves and a delicious chocolate complexion. I had to have her…so I began plotting.

As with every good plan I had to develop clearly defined objectives.  Early on I decided that I had to distinguished myself from the common lot of salivating dogs who must come sniffing around such a stunning sexy woman.  Which means that I could not come at her with cliched pick-up pitches.   Hence, I decided to present myself as a gentleman and scholar.  Since that was one of the things I was, it seemed a role to which I was born.  I also wanted to distinguish myself from the common lot of “ignorant arrogant Yankees,” whose ignorance of her country and its impressive culture was insulting.   And my hope was that this would make her curious about me, and thirsty to know more.  I figured if I couldn’t win with that, I should get outta the game.

With the plan at hand, I set to work, a seasoned wolf of great experience in hot pursuit of a succulent innocent lamb.  The next time I saw Oshun she was on her way to work.  I walked up to her and greeted her.  She looked pleasantly surprised when I said cheerily , “ Good Morning Ms. Trinidad.”  “ Good Morning,” she replied in that lovely Trini accented voice accompanied by an incandescent smile that could brighten up a dark day.  “I am a big fan of your country.”  “Really, how so?” she asked with a hint of skepticism.  “Well, I love your music; I believe Calypsonians are the greatest song poets in the world. And I have been tutored and greatly inspired by some of your leading intellectuals.”

Her skepticism became palpable as she said, “Well that’s a surprise because you are the first Yankee I’ve met who even knows where my country is…if they heard of Trinidad at all….So who are these intellectuals that enlightened and inspired you?”   There was a put up or shut up quality to her question.  She was going to see if there was anything more than mother wit and bullshit with me.  But little did she know, she had taken the bait and was strolling right into my tender trap.

“Well, there are three in particular, and they have had a great influence on how I see the world politically, economically and historically.  George Padmore was the first, his book “Pan-Africanism or Communism” pretty much shaped how I view the anti-colonial struggle for the independence of African nations.  And CLR James’s book “Black Jacobins,” where he brilliantly analyzes the Haitian Revolution against French slave holders, greatly expanded my knowledge of the three great 18th century revolutions – the American, French and Haitian – events that changed the world.  CLR showed how they were all inspired by the same set of universal humanist ideas.  It was a brilliant insight.

Once I discovered this brilliant original thinker, I went on to read many other works by James. Including his brilliant analysis of the Mighty Sparrow’s Calypso’s and how West Indians created their version of Cricket, a game I had always thought of as the epitome of the boring style of the British upper class.  And then there was the singularly important book by your former Prime Minister, the great historian Dr. Eric Williams, “Slavery and Capitalism.”

This book changed the way the whole world understands the birth of the capitalist system, and how the Industrial Revolution in England, which ushered in the modern industrial age, was financed by the African slave trade…the sale of our ancestors as if they were livestock.  This book helped me to see that all black communities in the Americas were created by the same historical forces, and that we are one people with different flavors.”

As I expounded on my analysis, in answer to her question, I could see her facial expression transform from skepticism, to surprise, to wonder as she broke into a gushing smile and said: “Wow!  You really do know a LOT about Trinidadian intellectuals, I have certainly received a quick education this morning.  Not only have I never met a Yankee that knew as much as you on this subject, I can’t think of any Trinidadians either.  That was very impressive Mr. America!  Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, but I have to get to work now.”  I gently kissed her hand and assured her, “We’ll talk again Ms. Trinidad,”  “I’ll be looking forward to it Mr. America.”

As I watched her walk away in with that sensual swing sway motion, I saw her look back and flash a teasing nice/nasty smile that promised a visit to paradise, where I would come to know here as Adam knew Eve.  I felt like break dancing…spinning on my head and shit.  But I just maintained my cool, certain that I had achieved my objectives.  I distinguished myself from the run of the mill Yankees; established myself as a gentleman and scholar in her eyes; sparked her curiosity and left her thirsty to know more about this bold and unusual Yankee.  I was convinced it wouldn’t be long before I lured her into my bed…It was pretty much a done deal.

The Long Beg!

It soon became clear that Oshun was a different breed of woman from the multitude that had gone before her.  The promise of her sensuous voice and alluring smile turned out to be illusionary, although she became more flirty and friendly…she wasn’t letting me see or feel any parts of that pussy.  I began to believe, after six weeks of persistent efforts, that this was going to be a protracted struggle.  But I didn’t have a clue what a mighty trek it would be.

Although I was convinced Oshun was a hottie, I would soon discover that she was also a “Dorothy Do Right” a very faithful wife.  She was flirtatious enough to keep me hanging on, making no attempt to disguise the fact that she found me something of a charming “Yankee scamp,” but she had not the slightest intention of going further…she didn’t intend to even give me a peek at the pussy. But the sunshine smiles and teasing banter was quite enough to keep me hangin on…if that’s all I would ever get from her…the cheap thrills were more than worth the effort.  So, I decided to adopt a policy of wearing her down with persistence, after all, I had lots of time, everything to gain…and nothing to lose.

Every time I saw her, I found a clever way to beg Oshun for some pussy.  Having grown up listening to great Soul singers like Ray Charles and James Brown, I knew how to beg.  Anybody who had listened to Ray sing “OH Come Back Baby” and “Drown in My Own Tears,” or James Brown shouting “Please, Please, Please” could learn how to beg if they paid close attention to these masters.  I had to be artful with it though, I didn’t want to say something that turned her smiles into frowns and drive her away.  I played it so cool I damned near slipped into a state of suspended animation.

My task of seduction was made immeasurably lighter by the discovery that Oshun was moved by the intoxicating alchemy of well-spoken words.  For me, this was like throwing Brer Rabbit in the briar patch!  For I was a master of the spoken word:  In the streets, the suites and…especially the sheets.  I had wowed crowds around the world, so I was qualified to blow soul in her ear til she was satisfied.   Thus, I stuck to my plan and put the beg on Oshun every time I saw her…composing witty panegyrics to her myriad charms on the spot, original lines, whose cleverness and spontaneity always elicited some of the brightest smiles in town.  And that was more than enough to keep me in pursuit, with my eyes firmly fixed on the pulchritudinous prize.

Alas, as the days extended to weeks, and the weeks became months it became harder and harder to find original ways to beg for pussy.  Afraid of sounding like a broken record stuck on stupid, I began to vary my approach and just tell her how great she was looking, how I admired her outfits and other small talk.  I would have retired from the chase altogether if it were not for those flirty fresh smiles that seemed to promise better days ahead.  And besides, the more I saw her the more convinced I became that she was really special…and if there was any chance at all it would be worth the wait.  But after nine months of persistent effort employing different tactics, I was running out of game…and hope.

Oshun had long passed the six weeks limit for most women, and the 90-day maximum for even very special ones.  The truth be told, I usually had my way with women I really wanted in much less time that the deadline.  But Oshun, Dorothy Do-Right that she was, seemed as cold and unmovable as an iceberg.  Perhaps calling her “cold” is an inartful way of describing her attitude.  Although she appeared impervious to my sexual advances, Oshun was always warm to me, greeting my attempts to seduce her into an adulterous liaison with shy smiles and teasing eyes.  And she never showed a hint of anger…or disgust.  That would have killed my dreams and ended my fruitless efforts mucho pronto.

When my hopes of having my way with her seemed most remote, I would think of what the old folks in Florida would say when I was a boy: ”Good things will come to those who wait”…So I waited.

Yet things were not all downers, there where some bright moments that buoyed my spirits, fortified my spirit, and inspired confidence that my efforts would eventually bear fruit.  For instance, there was the magical night of the New Moon.  When Autumn came to New York and the days became shorter, there were days when darkness fell before we left work.  One evening we both left the building at the same time; it was a purely chance encounter and it turned out that we were going in the same direction.  She was on her way home, and I was walking to the bus stop three blocks away.

As we strolled along the tree lined sidewalks of Crown Heights, the silver light of the moon seeped through the leafy canopies and seemed to dance off Oshun’s beautiful ebony complexion, hovering around her beautiful face like a halo.  She looked every bit the black magic woman immortalized in song, like the Goddess Oshun, I felt like genuflecting before her alter even as the throbbing bulge in my britches grew.

As I fixed my gaze upon her sensuous lips, painted in glossy purple lipstick, they seemed to invite a kiss.  I thought she felt it too from the coy way she looked at me, and the warm smiles that animated her face as her eyes met mine in lingering gazes.  There were several dark spots under the elms that seemed perfect places to poach a kiss.  But that would have been a daring move and I didn’t want to press my luck.

Yet it required every iota of will power I could muster to restrain the powerful impulse to sweep her up in my arms and plant a deep wet kiss on her sensuous mouth,  sucking her tongue into mine.  But I chilled and cautiously played past the moment, although she would later admit that had I made a move to kiss her it would have been welcomed with a passionate response.  We never touched physically, nor spoke nary a word about sex…yet our conversation was a highly stimulating mindfuck.  It was more than enough to keep my hopes of entering the promised land alive.

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Since Oshun was a happily married woman, I thought the best I could hope for was a fling. I, of course, was not suffering from a paucity of willing female admirers.  And I was in a relationship with two ladies, one of whom lived in another state that competed for my affection.  I was fond of them both, but suffice it to say, had Oshun been available, and I had my druthers, I would have wifed her faster than Hopalong Cassidy could draw his guns! However, one of the ladies gave me an ultimatum, piss or get off the pot, marry her or forget about her.

She was not willing to wait for me ad infinitum, she was a beautiful, educated woman and did not suffer for male attention.  In fact, she was quite a catch in her on right.  Since Oshun was not available and would never be for any sort of permanent union, I decided to tie the knot.  However, when I told Oshun that I would be leaving the job, and getting married, her response surprised me.

At first, she looked shocked, but quickly composed herself then smiled and congratulated me on my upcoming nuptials…but it did not seem sincere…her body language suggested disappointment, and a bit of anxiety.  It caught me off guard, I thought she would be happy because I would finally be off her case.  And we could have the Platonic relationship she seemed to desire, just be buddies.  I don’t think I have ever misread a situation so badly.

 A Great Leap Forward

 I was married within a week, and I didn’t see Oshun with the regularity of the past because I was tying up my affairs, finishing some projects, before I left my job for other interests, and would no longer have an office in the building where Oshun worked.  In fact, I was preparing to move out of the borough of Brooklyn, altogether for greener pastures in glamorous Manhattan, in fact, I was moving to beautiful crib in Harlem!  And I was looking forward to building a wonderful life with my new wife.

Except for the ceremony, married life didn’t seem that different, because my wife and I had been living together for months, as she had gotten a good job in New York and moved in with me.  So, life went on as before, except that she now had “papers” on me and everything I had was hers.  I had had more than my share of beautiful women in my lifetime – black, white, and tan – English and Spanish speakers.  Hence, I was quite prepared to commit myself to my wife completely, forsaking the myriad temptations of shameless succulent wenches, who held the bonds of matrimony in no higher regard than I had when I seduced the wives of unsuspecting husbands.

As there are exceptions to every rule, Oshun would prove to be the exception to my new rule.  Strangely, after I was married Oshun became friendlier than ever.  It seemed as if her voice grew more melodious and seductive, her eyes swept lazily over me from, my cranium to my phalanges as if she were appraising a prize stallion.  And her playful flirting grew.

As a seasoned Master Cocksman, I could feel when a woman was radiating erotic vibes toward me, and I was feeling Oshun with a growing intensity whenever I had been in her presence lately.  I wondered if it was just my imagination, but then, I had reconciled myself to the belief that nothing was happening with her.  So why would I be fantasizing about her secretly lusting for me?  After all I had given her countless opportunities to say yes to my passionate lust for her.

Oshun’s growing effervescence was puzzling.  But affairs of the heart often defy logic, and the ways of women are a mystery to men.  It would not be long before the truth would out, as the old adage promises.  One sunny day just as Spring had sprung, and perfumed flowers had begun to bloom, I encountered Oshun walking to work later than usual, and I was walking in the opposite direction having just left my office.  And it set off a chain of events that rocked our worlds.

One of the many splendid joys of Spring is that the warm weather causes the ladies to shed their heavy winter garments and adorn their bodies in colorful sheer fabrics that reveal contours of their bodies…whether they are stacked with lovely, sensuous curves, or piled with ungainly fat.  Oshun was stacked for days: She had it all.  Usually if a woman has a fine generously proportioned booty, she has skinny legs or small boobs, or both.  And if she has luscious legs, she will often have a flat booty – like many East Asian women.

If a woman has big boobs, she will often be top heavy and suffer from lackabooty syndrome.  And she may or may not have spindly legs.  Alas, it is the rare female specimen that has all three in generous finely sculpted endowments.  Oshun was that rarest of beautiful women: she had it all in exquisite proportions.  She did not have the buffed body of an athlete or dancer, but a firm fine female body built for loving and bearing children.  My kinda woman!

On this fine Spring day Oshun wore a white dress with high heels that made her look good enough to eat.  Her smooth ebony skin was accented by the white garments she wore, and when the sunlight hit her dress from certain angles you could see the outline of her lush curves.  The very sight of this sable siren nearly took my breath away. As soon as I could get myself together, I said to her as we walked closer to each other: “Good Morning Miss Trinidad, my aren’t you the perfect picture of Spring…in any field of flowers you would easily be the most beautiful of them all!”

“Good Morning Mr. America!” she gushed; her face animated with sunshine smiles bright enough to illuminate the dark corners of human character.  “My goodness, you always know just what to say to make a lady feel great!”  Oshun’s proclamation was made with such enthusiasm, as she passed me by hurrying to meet her class, a Caribbean cutie of the deepest chocolate hue walking a few paces behind her whispered, “That’s a hell of a recommendation mister,” and slipped me her card as we passed.

I looked back at them as they walked away, and the spectacle could easily have been billed as “The Battle of the Booties,” as they were both built like the ladies in the Commodores hit song “Brickhouse!”  Although the dark and lovely stranger’s gesture was flattering, I was a happily married man…smitten by a Goddess, and that might be more than I could handle.

The last thing on my mind was initiating a peccadillo with a third woman…if it were not for the fact that I was bewitched by Oshun, I would have been like Caesar’s wife: “pure as the driven snow.”   Pussy bullying rogue that I that I had been, I was now committed to doing the right thing, to be true to my wife.  But, alas, try as I might, I could muster no armaments to defend against the charms and conjurations of the Goddess.

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Later that day, upon returning to my office to retrieve some papers I had forgotten, I had a chance encounter with Oshun as I was leaving the building.  She seemed genuinely excited to see me.  “Good Afternoon Mr. America, what a surprise to see you here.  I thought you had left for the day…I noticed your office was locked up.” She said in that manner of speaking that I called “genuine West Indian eloquence.”  It was a cross between upper-class British speech seasoned with the cadences and phonetics of the local Patois.

I found it quite lovely and endearing; I loved to hear her speak, especially when she spoke directly to me, embellished with that million-dollar smile.  “Well Ms. Trinidad, my eyes demanded that I treat them to another feast, so naturally I came back to get another peek at a chocolate delight dressed in white.”  “Oh, go way mon,” she said with a chuckle and wave of her hand. “If I listened to you my head would be so big I would have trouble holding it up.”  “I’m just an honest umpire in the game of life, I’m just calling it like I see it…keepin it ‘Cricket’ as you bourgeois West Indians say.”

My clumsy Yankee attempt to reference Cricket, a popular sport among British West Indians, was met with a gale of laughter. I loved it when she laughed…it was something of a thrill.  I had it bad for this wonderful woman…and that wasn’t good, given the fact that from all appearances we would never be more than friends.  Still, it was like walking on air as I escorted her to her car.

Having moved out of the neighborhood Oshun was now driving to work, and she offered me a ride.  “Can I drop you somewhere Mr. America?”  “Why thank you Miss Trinidad, but you know what I would really like?  Let’s take a spin through Prospect Park on the way.  It’s such a beautiful day, and there is no better place to see mother Nature in bloom in this city of  concrete and steel.”  “That’s a splendid idea Mr. America, I am in no hurry so let’s do it.”

While the popular image of New York City in the minds of those elsewhere is of a paved-over place with too many people, a “concrete jungle,” the City is actually very green in many places.  And it  has many parks, especially Central Park in Manhattan, and Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  Both were designed by the same prescient planner, Frederick Law Olmstead, who was fascinated by London’s Hyde Park and the great parks of Paris, Berlin, and other European cities.

A visionary landscape architect who was also a journalist, social critic, and public administrator, Olmstead saw that in order for cities to work, given the contradictions arising from a widening gap in the distribution of wealth, and the disparity in living conditions  in 19th century American cities, there needed to be public spaces where all classes could meet as equals, a sanctuary for Mother Nature amidst the miles of concrete.

Here, surrounded  by the singing of birds, lush green meadows and perfumed flowers, one could dress up in Sunday go to meeting clothes and promenade through Central Park, with no one able to tell if the strollers hailed from overcrowded squalid tenements on the lower East Side, or the grand townhouses and palatial mansions of Fifth Avenue.  In the creation of Central Park, along with its Brooklyn counterpart, Olmstead achieved his dream magnificently.

Entering Prospect Park

Prospect Park at the Birth of Spring

We Were Bewitched by the Beauty of Mother Nature

As we drove leisurely through Prospect Park, the bouquets of blooming flowers tickling our noses, we were treated to the many splendors of Springtime.  The sparkling sunshine created a sheen on Oshun’s mahogany face and magnified her beauty.  She had raised the hem of her dress slightly above her knees so that she could easily access the brakes.  Sitting beside her in the front seat I had a perfect view of her long, smooth, exquisitely curvaceous legs.  She looked so sexy I got such a boner that it felt about to pop outta my pants.  And it was becoming uncomfortable because I am big boned.  I tried my best to maintain my cool , but Oshun was looking so good I had to speak on it.

“You always look great Miss Trinidad, I believe you would be stunning in a flour sack, but you just look extra special fine today.  The designer and manufacturer should pay you a generous fee for wearing it.  The fact is that it would look rather ordinary on the average woman, but it looks spectacular on you!”

“ Oh, thank you Mr. America,” she said with a coquettish smile, “but I bet you chat up all the ladies with your silver tongue.”

All of a sudden, an idea popped into my head and I decided to take a chance and really go for it…to make a bold move.  I thought about the fact that we had become friends and at worst she would admonish me to cease and desist…but then, things might break my way…who could say.   So, I decided to fire from the top and shoot my best shot, and like Mellin told Snellin wasn’t no tellin.

As a teacher I felt she would at least see the humor in my maneuver, and that was in my favor.

“Do you believe that the scientific method is the best means of discovering truth.  Miss Trinidad?

“Of course, science is a fool proof method, which is to say it will produce the same results wherever it is employed to solve a problem.  Why do you ask?”

“Because the things I tell you about the way you excite me is a scientific fact, and I  can prove it.”

“Well prove it then, you talk a lot, but where is your proof,” she said with a playful show me attitude.”

“ You understand that the heart of the scientific method is the careful observation and examination of hard evidence, right?”

“Righto,” she said flippantly.

Without further comment I whipped out my rock-hard cock and announced:” Well here is the hard evidence Miss Trinidad, and you may observe and examine it as much as you require to satisfy any doubts you may have about its authenticity.”  I held my throbbing Rod of Correction in my hand and then released it to stand boldly on its own so the Oshun could get a full gander at it and waited for her to respond with bated breath.”

She looked over and gasped loudly when she saw it, her eyes widened, and she shrieked with genuine astonishment. “Oh Gosh man…you are CRAAZZZY!”  Yet she could not take her eyes off my generously proportioned finely carved chocolate tool.  “Oh, My Goodneesss, you are really CRAZY!”  She said as she continued to observe the evidence.  I noticed that Osun was laughing as she spoke, and she was staring so intently she damned near ran off the road.

 What I’m Working With

She Couldn’t take her eyes off it!

“You better watch where you are going girl!  Let me put this sugarcane away before you smash up the car and kill us both,” I said, as I put my rigid Johnson  bar back in my pants.

Still laughing incredulously, she said “Sugarcane?”  That’s a Guyana cane Mon.”  And she laughed heartily, “You are really Craaazy…I can’t think of anybody else who would do such a outrageous thing!”

She said as she continued to crack up laughing.  But what struck me most about this moment, was that there wasn’t a hint of anger.  I knew then that all things were possible.  So, I told her to drive over to the gallery of composers, a special place in Prospect park where the busts of great European classical composers’ repose on pedestals.  It was a perfect setting, because as she set her gaze my way, it was as if a chorus of viols began to play – Violin, Viola, and Cello – all sang a romantic rhapsody in perfect harmony…it was the ideal background sound for my next move.

As we strolled among the musical icons, I suddenly swept Oshun up in my arms and planted a deep wet kiss on her mouth, she responded by slithering her tongue in my mouth.  And as we swapped slobs, her leg slipped between mine and her percolating sugar pussy was pressing right up on my swollen soul pole and I began to slowly grind on it.  Things could not have turned out better, because I was a master of the art of grinding…

Back in the day, when I was in high-school, and dry fucking was all the pussy you was gonna get – unless you got lucky and she let you play “stink finger” – the gals nick-named me “Dr. Coffee,” cause I grind so fine.  The feeling  got so good we lost our heads and was oblivious to the fact that we were in a public place.

“Well, Mr. America, what now?”

“You just follow my lead Ms. Trinidad, cause this is the start of something really big.”

Stealing Kisses under the Master’s Gaze

What wonderful music our budding romance could have inspired….

Osun had a winsome smile on her face as she drove me home.  Several times I took her willing hand and placed it on my throbbing dick, reminding her: “This is all yo fault Miss Trinidad.”  She rubbed and squeezed it firmly, while feigning innocence:

”How, me cause such a ting mon, I jes an innocent woman  mindin she business!  Is you that mek trouble, pulling that treacherous black snake out on me with no warning.”

“Oh, you know you like it,” I said as she conducted a hands on examination of the abundant evidence.   By the way, you said I had a Guyana Cane, what did you mean by that?”

She smiled coyly and said: ”Well there are sugar cane farms all over the Caribbean, but Guyana, which is just 8 miles off the coast of Trinidad in South America, is famous for growing the hardest, thickest, sweetest cane of them all.” She chuckled, as she negotiated the traffic with one hand and squeezed my Guyana cane with her free hand.  I liked the sound of it, “Guyana cane.”

As we approached my building, she removed her hand and assumed a prissy proper school momish  demeanor.  I didn’t tarry long, after all who knows what unseen obscene eyes were gazing upon us.  So, I quickly told her.

“Thanks for the ride and the company beautiful. But I think it is past time that we met in private, where we can really explore each other and see what this thing is about that’s been vibing between us all this time.   What say ye?”

“Sounds good to me.  If  you have a place where we can meet just tell me when and where, and I’ll be there.  Just give me a couple of days’ notice.”

“No Problem Sweetie, I have a cousin who has a nice crib right here in Brooklyn.  I’ll hook it up and let you know.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said as she squeezed my hand, “I had a lovely time…the most excitement I’ve had in a while.”

Then she smiled that bewitching smile, a conjuration that made heart flutter, my liver quiver, and my knees freeze.  Transforming me into silly putty in her hands.  She could mold me into whatever she desired.  It was her world…I was just a squirrel…tryna get a nut.

Strangers in Paradise

A few days later I met Oshun after work and we drove over to my cousin Ernest’s crib.  As usual, Oshun was looking fine as vintage wine and I suspected she offered a more potent high.  The red dress she wore accented her rich chocolate skin, which had been buffed to a sheen with coco butter.  The white strapped heels she wore enhanced the curvature of her long legs and was sexy as hell.  I was like a starving man about to finally partake of a fest that I had been salivating over as I watched from outside  the window.  She was in a great mood, as if she had thought it through and was satisfied with her decision.  Whatever that turned out to be.  We had never explicitly said that we were getting together for the express purpose of making love…but it was implicit in everything we did.

It was early evening when we got to Ernest’s crib and the sun was beginning to set, its crimson rays streaked through the windows and amplified the subtle red hues in her ebony skin, an inheritance from her Carib grandpop.  I just sat across the room and stared at her.  I never tired of looking at her, I actually experienced a physical sensation from just staring at her.  It was akin to experiencing eyegasms.  And I had never had the opportunity to just ogle her openly to my heart’s contentdk, looking at her sitting right in front of me with those fabulous legs crossed wearing those “fuck me” shoes.

Instead of jumping her bones as soon as we entered the crib, I wanted to savor her beauty, enjoy the warm titillations of her charm,  swoon to the sound of her sensuous cultivated Caribbean contralto voice, and bask in the sunshine of her smile.  I was in no hurry, I wanted to enjoy every nano-second exploring the luscious feast of a female from head to toe.  I wanted the evening to build in intensity like a crescendo in a great piano concerto.  So, we sat making small talk, skinning and grinning at each other like Cheshire cats from Alice in Wonderland, and just grooving on each other.

It was an enchanted evening, the kind of evening when it seems the God’s are happy in the heavens, the ancestors are pleased, and all is right with the world.  Oshun sat there all prim and proper, every inch the  well- educated Afro-British lady, elegant of style and manners, speaking with the cadenced eloquence  unique to her nation’s oral culture, a tradition in which the well-spoken word is highly prized, and their popular music is epic poetry.  I lit up a splif, and although she had grown up around East Indians – whose ancient Sages had first cultivated Marijuana and called it “The Heavenly Guide,” and “The Poor Man’s Heaven” – she didn’t smoke Ganja.  Rum Punch de Crème was more her thing.

The more we sat there making eyes at each other the hotter we got.  I put the album John Coltrane Plays Johnny Hartman  Sings  and played the song “You are too Beautiful,” and as Johnny Hartman’s silky baritone voice crooned “You are too beautiful my dear to be true” Oshun looked at me dreamily and smile a mystic smile.  She was so alluring I could no longer contain myself.  I took a long drag off the herb, rose from my chair and walked over to her, making no attempt to hide the pulsating bulge in my pants, so she couldn’t miss it.

Besides she knew what I was working with because she had seen and physically examined it.  And I remember the look on her face the first time she saw it…for those who know about sugarcane, is enough to know that she called it “Guyana cane.”  I knelt before her, took her face in my hands and kissed her deeply, blowing Ganja smoke down her lungs slowly.  She coughed a little and asked:

” What was that?”

“Oh, something that will make very thing feel better.”

“You gave me that Ganja smoke?”

“Yeah, but don’t worry about it, just relax and follow my lead. Cause we bout to do a dance of magic.  If you thin yo heart can take it come fly with me.”

“Go ahead, like the song says: ‘Fly me to the moon…let me play among the stars.”

That was all the cue I needed.  I placed my hands on her knees and pulled her legs apart, but when I place my hand on her pussy it was like touching a sponge that had been emersed in water…they were soaking wet.  When I pulled my had from under her skirt Oshun discovered that her love canal was overflowing.  She jumped up and noticed that her dress was wet in the back, and when I grabbed the hem and raised her skirt up to her waist, you could see the do-it fluid beginning to drip down her thighs like a juicy fruit.  She was shocked, and immediately began to apologize.

“Oh, my goodness!  I don’t know what is happening down there.  It has never been like this before,” she said with obvious embarrassment, as she grabbed her bag and began nervously rummaging for a tissue.  “I’ll take care of this…just give me a moment.”

At first, I thought she was joking, I couldn’t believe that she thought this was offensive.  Wow, she was more innocent than I thought.  I quickly moved to rid her of that notion and put her at ease.

“Oh baby, you got this all wrong!  I LOVE IT!  The reason your sweet juice box is hemorrhaging like that is because you really want to fuck me, that’s how nature planned it.  I am deeply flattered!  That looks like Love Potion # 9 that the coasters made that hit song about.  Don’t you dare wipe it away with some tissue, just let me handle this my dear.”

“Okay, whatever you say, but I’ve got to take this dress and slip off.  I have a gown in my bag that I brought along just in case we ended up like this.  Just let me take it off and wash the spot out.  Is that the bathroom over there?  I need to get to the sink.”

“Go to the sink, but only to wash the stain out: DO NOT TOUCH THE PUSSY!  I want it all juicy with its natural bouquet!  Don’t even THINK about using any of those perfumed soaps!”

“Reeeally?  Oh Gosh man you are soo Craaaazy!  Me never hear of anything like that.” She said gushing with laugher, the do-it fluid creeping down her thighs.  I soon come” she said as she dashed in the bathroom.

While she was in the bathroom, I stripped down to my velvet boxer shorts.  Although I was not the same physical specimen that had won the “Mr. Atlas” contest in high school  nearly 20 years ago, I did retain some of my football physique.  As soon as she walked out of the bathroom dressed in a gown and heels, I swept her up in my arms and kissed her while running my hands all slowly over her soft but firm generously proportioned body.

She was grinding on my heart cock through the gown, when I gently pushed her down in the big cushiony chair, fell on my knees, pushed the gown up, spread her legs, and was face to face with her pretty pink pussy.  It seems that dark skin girls have the pinkest pussies…the juiciest too.  Although there are exceptions, they only serve to prove the rule.  Oshun had the juiciest pussy I had ever seen; it was like an overflowing honey pot.  Just looking at it made my mouth water.  Some guy’s suck pussy because they have been told that women love it…but I suck pussy because I LOVE IT!

This is not to say that my paramount objective isn’t to make my lady feel good, but I discovered that the ladies get their greatest thrills when the man also really loves it.  They can tell when a guy approach’s it like a circus performer who holds his nose and kisses a skunk because it’s part of the act.  I looked up at Osun, who had a quizzical look on her face, as if she was not quite sure what to expect since I had forbidden her to make any attempt to swab it.

“Okay Sweetie, now I’m gonna show you what to do with all this sweet nectar flowing outta your brown sugar pussy.  You just lay back and enjoy yourself.”

“Alright Mr. Magic fly me to the moon.”

A Tasty Sight

I Loved to lick The Juicy Pink Core

I surveyed the glossy pink slit, set between yummy chocolate thighs, surrounded by a crown of curly black hair, and it looked delicious.  Cunnilingus is a fine art when it is performed by a Master.  And I was a Grand Master.  I was trying to decide where to start, the first moves would be exploratory, trying to see what she liked…what moved her.  Most women loved direct clitoral stimulation, so my first thought was to just swallow up her beautiful boy in the boat, grip it with my Orbicularis Oris muscles, which are normally used for whistling…and deep kissing.

But as my mouth moved closer to the dripping pink pussy parfait, I decide to go lickety split and slurp it with a broad stroke of my tongue, right down the middle of the gooey goody-gap.  The way she jumped, lifting her butt up off the chair and meeting my tongue, then she stiffened up as if she had been shocked by a live wire that sent electric waves to every part of her body.  I knew immediately that I had a real live one here, that she was highly sensitive in all parts of the pussy.

I was delighted, because women who were fixated on clitoral stimulation are often so narrowly focused on getting the “Big O” that they become quick tricks.  In order to get a quick nut, they forfeit the more nuanced experience that a great cunilingist can offer.  I was like a virtuoso violinist, who had mastered that extremely difficult fretless fiddle which requires the artist to feel the right places to make the music they want to hear.

How they do it is, as near as I can tell, a mysterious alchemy that is beyond the comprehension to all but that special band of gifted artists who can pull it off.  Sucking pussy is like that.  In order to be a great cunilingist, like the virtuoso violinist, one must be prepared to devote many hours to practicing their technique.  Which means that you must really love it.  I loved it…and I had paid my dues.

Ohun had my favorite kinda sucking pussy – pink, drippy and grippy- and the woman who owned it was like my favorite cup of coffee: Strong, hot and black!  I licked it again and she groaned, “Ahhhhggggh,” as her eyes rolled back into her head revealing the pure white of her eyes.   I knew I had the situation under control, the only question was what kinda ride I wanted to take her on.

When I first spoke to Oshun, my objectives had been to dazzle her with my knowledge of her country; distinguish myself from the other Yankees she knew; and leave her wanting to see more of me, now I wanted to amaze her with my knowledge of her body, set myself apart and above every lover she had known, and leave her hungering for more.  I wanted to addict her to my sexual prowess.

I had already captured her mind by virtue of a year of special pleading, leaving her ears greedy for the sound of my basso profundo voice; now I wanted to make her mine body and soul. With that objective in mind, I devoted all my talents in the art of pleasuring to give an unforgettable performance, one that inspires a Sunday kinda love, the kinda love that lasts past Saturday night.  All fuckin is good after a fashion, but love fuckin is out of this world…like astral traveling.

Since the love between us was the real deal, I decided to just go for what I know. But on the third or fourth stroke – I can’t say precisely because I was on a natural high and totally focused on licking the problem before me – a strange thing happened.  The muscles of her pussy reached out and grabbed my tongue, sucked it up her love canal, and squeezed it like a French kiss!  I was fascinated and  amazed.  I had never experienced anything like it; I was reminded that Oshun was a conjure woman, a worker of spells, even if her gift was unbeknownst.

I was tasked with discovering the key to her libido, the location of her special spots, and release the sexy beast that I had long suspected lurked just beneath the surface of her prim and proper persona.  Now it was no longer a matter of speculation…my job was to free the beast. Seeing how sensitive the walls of her vagina was I hesitated to stimulate her boy in the boat directly for fear that she just might lose in and erupt in orgasmic explosion.

I was very careful about that because in my experience, when women bust their nut from manipulation of the joy button, trying to make love to them after that is like whipping a dead mule.  So, I played past the  boy in the boat, pulled out my Rod of Correction, and thrust it balls deep in her pulsating pussy.  Oshun clamped down on it like a Venus Fly Trap, causing my rigid rod to swell up like a blow fish.  She had a frantic look in her eyes as her juicy goody-gap put the mug on the Bald Head Champ. She might have been a proper lady, but she had some gangsta pussy!

It felt so good I didn’t move for several minutes, I don’t know how long I was frozen because the sensations were so fantastic I completely lost track of time.  Wrapping my arms around her I began to kiss those luscious lips and was transported to a space where time ceased to exist.  Most men would have done their office right then and it would all have been over.  Few could have withstood the marvelous sensations induced by Oshun’s super gripper, and I survived only because I had spent years perfecting the art of prolongus coitus.  I could fuck ad infinitum, so long as the pussy was hot, drippy and grippy.  And Oshun’s honey pot was all three!

When I took one of her full ripe breast in my mouth, something I had dreamed of ever since our first chance encounter in the stair well, I was treated to yet another marvel.  I cupped her breast, sucked an erect nipple, and suddenly felt milk trickling from it.  The taste was different, and far more delicious, and when I realized what was happening, I took the tit from my lips and saw the flowing milk.  I thought it was  mad sexy and started sucking on it again.

The effect was like that of Spinach on the cartoon character Popeye!  She was beginning to apologize for the spilling milk, but I put my finger on her lips and suckled on it like a hungry babe.  It caused my Guyana cane to get bigger and harder, and I begin to thrust, wind and grind.  Slowly at first but then increasing the tempo.  Like sucking pussy, fucking is also a fine art.  And I was a master cocksman of the first order: Often tried, never denied, and willing to be tried again.  Off we went into the wild blue yonder, destination moon.  When she fairly shouted “Oh gosh Man!  It’s Greeeat!  It’s Greeat! It’s so wonderful Mr. Magic!”

When I felt her body become spasmodic, trembling like a flower in a tropical breeze, I knew she was cumming…and she came again…and again.  That’s why fucking orgasms are superior to clitoral orgasms…because women can get them over and over again…   Her orgasms were so powerful they could rock the Rictor Scale.  When she went limp in my arms, my dick stayed hard, and her vise like pussy never released its grip.

Oshun looked up at me like she was coming back from a trip to wonderland, and whispered, “I have NEVER ever experienced anything like this, its fantastic, I don’t even have words to describe it.  But you are far and away the best lover I ever had.”  Her words conjured up an old folk saying we used to recite when I was a boy:” Love is a feeling that you feel/ when you feel/what you never felt before.” I stood up and led her to the bedroom, and after a brief rest and recuperation break, we ravaged each other for another couple of hours.

Finally, I decided to suckle on her swollen clit, and Oshun came with such passion she seemed to possess the power of  the Goddess I had named her, it was so violent she nearly passed out.  When she looked at me dreamily and whispered, “Please make me go home.” I knew this was the start of something big!  Indeed, we were on fire for each other, “a boss blaze,” as we used to say during my days at an all-black college, when the artful invention of colorful colloquialisms was common fare. It was a flame that burned intensely for years.

We made love in a variety of clandestine pleasure pads, all of which seemed like Shangri La to us…even when it was just a simple room.  Sometimes we just drove around “The Fruit,” as hip Black Philadelphians referred to Manhattan when I resided in that violent gun totin gang-bangin City of Brotherly Love.  We would drive through Central Park, and chill on upper Fifth Avenue on the cusp of Harlem, where the magnificent statue of Duke Ellington now stands.

I just Loved to Stare at Her Beauty

On such occasions she always asked me to drive, which left her hands free to fondle my Guyana cane as we listened to music on the radio, especially when Frankie Crocker, “the Chief Rocker” played King Pleasure singing “Moody’s Mood For Love, wich was his theme song and he played it intermittently during his five hour drive time show.”  Often we would park and steal a kiss, or I would engage in one of my favorite things…pulling her skirts up above her knees and just staring at her while experiencing multi-eyegasms.  For my money, she was the most beautiful sexy woman in the world, and I loved ogling every inch of her voluptuous ebony frame.

We had to be very careful with our public behavior because we didn’t want to become victims of “seenus,” which would have been an unmitigated disaster if any of her married friends had seen us.  She explained to me that they would love to discover that she was “tippin out” on her husband,  because she was held up as the example of the “perfect wife” by their husbands, especially when criticizing their shortcomings.  And, naturally, they heartily resented it.  It would have given them great satisfaction to discover that Muriel, as they knew her, was “hornin” her husband as the Trinis say.

Miraculously, we were never exposed.  But this was not a matter of chance. We took an abundance of precautions: We never went out together at night, never got together on weekends, or even attended a movie, concert, or Broadway show. We always met right after work on weekdays, often several times a week, stealing a few hours together here there everywhere.  Since we had spent the daydreaming of our coming lovefest, we were always read hot for each other when we met. Hence regular conversation became sexual foreplay…even if we were discussing US-Cuban relations…or Dr. Eric Williams insightful book: “The Education of a Prime Minister.”  My Guyana cane blew up and became rigid from the moment she smiled at me…and every time I reached up her skirts and felt her panties, Osun’s panties were soaking wet.

Those were the days my friend…I thought they would never end. We enjoyed a decade and a half of bliss before our separate responsibilities as married people with children demanded all of our attention, causing us to part as lovers…but we remained loving friends…and who knows what the future holds.  There is one thing of which I am absolutely certain: Of all the gifts that wonderous Ilse of the Three Peaks, “Sweet T&T, has given the world…none is more wonderful than she!

As for the skeptical reader who cares to fathom, who question whether this tale is a fabulation or actual history, truth or fiction, to wit I shall refer them to the observation of that insightful French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire: “There is no history, only fictions of varying degrees of plausibility.”

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An Erotic Fable

By: Playthell G, Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Spring 2001

Music in the Key of Life

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Caviar and Bananas

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2021 by playthell

Basquiat and Warhol: Master and Slave?

Ishmael Reed and the Big, Beautiful Art Market

In advance of the full performance we look forward to seeing this year, I make bold to review the video reading1 of Ishmael Reed’s new play, The Slave Who Loved Caviar. The production, beautifully narrated by Tennessee Reed, was produced remotely due to the pandemic. This in itself demonstrates a technical mastery and the prodigious talents of the actors, especially Rome Neal of Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe. The video whets our appetite for the live performance to come.

Pinning down, debating, categorizing or even fully comprehending the complex narratives of of this seasoned, fearless writer can challenge Reed’s most faithful long-term readers. His resources are endless. For example, a pedestrian critique of the Loop Garou Kid, a cowboy character who utilizes futuristic space travel2 as merely an absurdist conflation of heroic structure, is to restrict one’s gaze to the tiny pinhole of genre, and reveals the critic as a pinhead. Thus, Ishmael Reed himself appears in the play as a vampire who ensnares his victims with the aid of his evil assistant and comes to the attention of a fearless detective.

I was inducted into the critic’s role by the caustic Dave Hickey, who challenged me to bring my own voice as a contemporary artist into the art conversation. He also warned me that only an articulate and well-informed writer could hope to succeed in the field. Rather than telling the reader what to think about Reed’s marvelous new play, I will discuss my own lens into some cogent and very current questions he raises.

Teaching lower-division art history to college students throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, I faced a critical obstacle: the textbooks. The artists pictured therein did not match the faces in my classes. Work selected as culturally “good” or “representational” often simply wasn’t. By deft maneuvering and appropriating of instructor’s privileges, I brought our analysis to bear on the context of the texts; we looked at how the work got its visibility and, most importantly, its lasting value.

In his liminal essay “The Birth of the Big, Beautiful Art Market,” Dave Hickey writes about the way art dealers based their sales campaign on the hugely successful commodification of the American car. To sell the consumer a new car every year, you first have to make him want it. In order to create and drive this desire, Cadillac hired designers including Frank Hershey, a former WWI naval officer. Basing his design on the “Fork-Tailed Devil” P38 Fighter 3 so feared by the Nazis, Hershey created the striking tailfins that put the company first in car sales in America until 1955.

To sell art at “white-hot” prices, you must first convince your wealthy buyers of its value, and that must be based upon novelty and scarcity. In his book The Tradition of the New4, Harold Rosenberg pinpoints this driving factor to coincide with the early 20th century art market that began in New York City. Get the newest one, get the only one, make all your friends jealous, and show that you have the best eye for what’s happening in art!

This mindless, ostentatious, decadence has become so prevalent among the fashionable super-rich that Maurizio Cattelan’s banana, simply stuck to the wall with ten inches of grey duct tape, sold for 120,000 dollars at the 2019 Miami Basel. Someone ate the banana; critics and fellow artists drubbed Cattelan mercilessly; Arthur Goldstein, chief editor of Artnet, wrote a article titled “The Vultures Are Circling,” stating that young artists might “get in,” but they might not “get out alive.”

Ishmael Reed refers to that same taped banana piece in The Slave Who Loved Caviar. A careless reader might take his meaning to be a wholesale indictment of contemporary art, but it’s the vultures we need to see. Equally, the title of the play invokes the heated historic arguments among African Americans about effective resistance to slavery. According to Malcom X, speaking at Michigan State University, East Lansing, on January 23, 1963,5 the slaves working and living in the owner’s house became invested in their privilege.

They then identified with their white owners and the food, clothing and comforts they experienced, he said. In fact, they would be unable to survive on their own without it. He maintained that given an obviously hypothetical choice, they would actually fight against other slaves in defense of their owners. Malcolm was not making a simple point. He was indicting an entire system. But was he right about the people caught inside it? Weren’t they the ones with the agency for real resistance?  The historical record testifies to the truth of the latter.

Ishmael Reed invokes this familiar cultural discussion with characteristic scholarship and intellectual agility. To assume the artist/slave loves his caviar, his master and his system is to fall into a most ingeniously constructed trap. Resistance has two forms – from inside the system of oppression, or from the outside. The first is characterized by the loss of agency and authority that is imposed upon the individual. In the second case, the individual makes choices and maintains the dignity of selfhood, but loses the “caviar” or rewards of obedience.  As characterized by Ishmael in this play, it appears that the much-celebrated Lower East Side black art phenom Basquiat, who was patronized by Andy Warhol, the fabulously famous white artist, chose the caviar.

When confronted with this choice and its consequences, Reed chose a different path. Unable to find a publisher in the US for Going Too Far: Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown, 2012, he sought a publisher in Canada. Reed has founded and cofounded several small presses, journals, and organizations, including the Before Columbus Foundation, Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, PEN Oakland, Quilt magazine, and Yardbird Publishing Company, shouldering the responsibilities of funding, publicity and more. African American artist Kehinde Wiley, who painted Barack Obama’s 2017 presidential portrait, is a highly recognized, and well-paid figure in contemporary art. He chose to locate an artist residency in Dakar, Senegal, avoiding the constraints of corporate funding and selection6.

Art historian-literalists who balk at Ishmael Reed’s characterization of Andy Warhol will be lost in a Platonic cave of their own making. By framing the art world through the neo-slave narrative, Reed tears off the veils of whiteness in which its canons are shrouded. Thus, he provides an opportunity for change from within the system, which arts professionals urgently need to recognize.

As a professor of art history, I used my agency and authority to provide curriculum that examined and confronted established concepts and assumptions. For instance, when I invited visiting artists into the classroom, I did not invite anyone white. Similarly, I had a 3-page handout of important artists, available for students upon request when they wrote research papers, that didn’t list any white artists. It is noteworthy that nobody ever commented about this. It gave the students freedom of choice, making them the authority and agents of their own education about art.

I conclude with a final word for my art colleagues, or any others who may remain concerned with Reed’s portrayal of Andy Warhol and distracted from the serious questions examined in this play. Dr. Patrick McGee, Professor of Race & Cultural Studies at LSU, Baton Rouge, gives the best explanation about both my teaching practices and the importance of The Slave Who Loved Caviar as acts of activism and education. In his critique of racial ideology, Ishmael Reed and the Ends of Race7, Dr. McGee says that because of “the historical contradictions that compose American society, …art [is] a symptom of history that can be made to reveal its historical truth only through a critical intervention that lays bare the context of the text.” Ishmael Reed has given us a masterful view of the truth. We will do well to heed it.

The Bard and the Veep
Oakland Homies Hangin Out
Susannah Israel.
Oakland, California

Footnotes

[1] The Slave Who Loved Caviar, video reading. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgiFuEUhzy0

2 Severson, Aaron. “Fork-Tailed Devil: The P-38 Lightning and the Birth of Cadillac’s Famous Fins.”

 https://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/cadillac-1948-tailfins/

3 Rosenberg, Harold. The Tradition of the New. Horizon Press: New York. 1959

4 https://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/mxp/speeches/mxa17.html5%5B1%5D Benjamin, Playthell G. “Is Manning’s Marable A Re-Invention?: On Myth, History and Special Pleading”.

Commentaries On The Times, Harlem NY  https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2013/09/29/is-marables-malcolm-a-re-invention/

5 Black Rock Senegal. Kehinde Wiley. https://africanshapers.com/16-artistes-selectionnes-pour-la-premiere-residence-au-black-rock-senegal/

6 McGee, Patrick, Phd. Ishmael Reed and the Ends of Race. Palgrave MacMillan, 1997

 

 

 

A Blast From Our Cultural Past!

Posted in Cultural Matters, Film Criticism, Movie Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , on November 27, 2020 by playthell

Spike Lee and the Malcolm X Movie Mess

A reprint from 1991

“We know we can’t satisfy everybody’s vision of Malcolm X. He has achieved mythic proportions …but we knew going into it that we’d have that problem,” said Spike Lee about his current work-in-progress, then he declared his intention “to be as honest as possible” and “to make a great film.” But in tackling this project Spike has not only undertaken a monumental artistic task, he has also waded into troubled political waters.

It will be hard enough to capture Malcolm’s complex personality and the epic tale that is his life story within the scope of a single feature film. But that may turn out to be the easy part. For around this film all the prickly questions of the relationship of politics and art have already begun to swirl. Given a decent script, I have no doubt that Denzel Washington will resurrect that warm charm and sunny smile, biting sarcasm, regal bearing, fearless posture and verbal virtuosity that combined to form the alchemy of Malcolm’s persona. But Spike will have to negotiate myriad hurdles-artistic and political-before the Malcolm X story reaches theaters.

This is not the first attempt to project the amazing life of Malcolm X onto the silver screen. All the other attempts failed. And they all faltered attempting to produce a .workable script that would satisfy the decision makers who could green light the project. Some distinguished names are associated with this history of failure, which extends over a period of 20 years. In 1967 film producer Marvin Worth acquired the rights to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, co-authored with Alex Haley, from Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz, now an administrator at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. Worth commissioned the distinguished Afro-American novelist James Baldwin to write the script.

On the face of it, this was an excellent choice. For not only did Baldwin know Malcolm personally, he was also deeply committed to the black liberation struggle. However, after a year of livin’ large in Tinseltown at studio expense, he failed to come up with a usable and finished script. Two other novelists tried their hand at it and failed: David Bradley, a black college professor and author of the celebrated novel The Chaneysville Incident, and Calder Willingham author of the novel Eternal Fire. Two Pulitzer prize-winning dramatists also bit the dust trying to produce a viable script: Charles Fuller and David Mamet.

Fuller, a product of the sixties Black Arts Movement, was significantly influenced-like most of us of that generation-by the example of Malcolm X. So there can be no doubt that he took his task to heart. A brilliant playwright who has taken us on marvelous excursions into the soul of African American culture, he seemed destined for the project. But alas, zilch. After Fuller wrote the script, director Norman Jewison, with whom Fuller had collaborated on the Academy Award-nominated film version of his Pulitzer prize-winning’ play, A Soldier’s Play, abandoned the project.

Jewison told Mother Jones, “If I knew how to do it, I would move heaven and high water tomorrow to do it. The man’s an enigma to me. I just haven’t licked it. I know Spike Lee wants to get involved, and, at the moment, I would encourage him to do it because the film should be made.” As for Charlie Fuller, he ain’t talkin’. So perhaps we’ll never know what really went down with the script. And David Mamet, the much acclaimed white playwright, met a similar fate after writing a script that • director Sidney Lumet described as having a “breathtaking sweep and extraordinary language.” But perhaps its untimely death was the best fate, because Lumet had planned to cast Richard Pryor in the lead role. That would have been a travesty, for while Pryor is an extraordinary performer, he does not posses either the physical stature or the resources as a mature dramatic actor to play Malcolm X.

So if Malcolm’s story is going to reach the screen anytime soon, in a fashion that will do him proud, it looks as if Spike is going to have to do it. Whereas all the other writers have chosen to start from scratch, Spike is rewriting the James Baldwin script which had been completed by Arnold Perl. I thought it was a great script except for the last third-because a lot of history about Malcolm’s assassination has come out since it was completed.” But even with the Baldwin/Perl script as a foundation, Spike will have his work cut out for him.

First of all, there is the question of a suitable length. Everyone who has worked on this project agrees that the normal two and a half hours allotted for most feature films will not suffice. And while the question of length involves aesthetics, in Malcolm’s story it is also political. It is difficult to imagine a situation where the competing claims of politics and aesthetics impinge upon the creative process as much as in the present film. One film pundit confided, “If Spike makes this film anything less than four hours long he’s doomed.” Another assured me, “It can’t be done in one movie. The only way you can tell Malcolm’s story effectively is with two movies of about three hours and ten minutes each.”

But Spike is tightlipped about the length; all he is saying is, “I will have final cut-It’s an epic story.” An epic story indeed, for Malcolm X’s life symbolizes the triumph of the African American spirit over the crippling experience of racial caste oppression. It is also a metaphor for the American Dream: the rise from poverty to prominence. Hence it is a quintessentially American story that embodies as much of Americana as the music of Duke Ellington. Neither of these phenomena could have happened anywhere else in the world. As the premier American promoter and great bullshit artist Don King would say, “Only in America.”

The story of Malcolm X begins with a working class black family in Lansing, Mich., where the father-a militant black nationalist and Garveyite preacher-is mysteriously killed by a trolley car. The mother, a West Indian immigrant who could pass for white, is driven mad while Malcolm is still a child. The family is fragmented and Malcolm ends up years later as a Harlem hipster who only wants to snort nose candy, rag down in fly zoot suits and lindyhop his ass off at the Savoy Ballroom and other dance emporiums.

He has a strange sadomasochistic love affair with a beautiful Boston white girl whose folks are holding grand-theft dough. He later goes to jail, after participating in a variety of criminal activities, and in yet another incarnation emerges from his dungeon as Malcolm X, the most devoted and inspired disciple of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam. As the chief spokesman for the Nation, Malcolm becomes one of the most influential charismatic revivalists of the turbulent sixties. Like Othello’s, his is a hell of a story.

No one understands the magnitude of the task of telling Malcolm’s story more than Spike Lee, who has said, “Everybody else who’s working on this film-if they don’t think this is the most important film in the history of cinema, I don’t want them on it.” Spike is gping all out to bring forth a film that will be distinguished by its fidelity to Malcolm’s life and times. Aside from Malcolm’s autobiography, Spike is reviewing journalistic accounts from the sixties, reading Malcolm’s speeches, watching TV clips and, most of all, interviewing family, friends and associates.

Among those he has personally interviewed is Minister Louis Farrakhan. This is a critical interview, because Farrakhan and Malcolm were as tight as Dick’s hat band during the crucial years of Malcolm’s ministry in the Nation of Islam. And beyond that, Farrakhan, although never linked to the shooting, in the minds of many people who lived through that era, was implicated in Malcolm’s assassination. This question continues to dog Farrakhan, and it came up in an interview conducted by EMERGE(see August 1990).

Farrakhan burst into tears when confronted with a clipping from Muhammad Speaks, in which he seems to be calling for Malcolm’s demise because he was a traitor to the Nation of Islam. By his account, Spike did not fudge the issue when he spoke with Farrakhan. “I showed him the paper clippings from Muhammad Speaks, where his comments suggested Malcolm ought to be killed,” said Spike of his meeting with Farrakhan in Chicago.

He frankly admitted his role in creating the conditions of hostility leading to Malcolm’s assassination and said, ”It was the climate of the times. I would do it differently if I had to do it over again.” But interestingly enough, it was not his own image that caused Farrakhan concern. ”He was most concerned about how the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would be portrayed,” said Spike. ”But Minister Farrakhan did not ask to see the script or anything. He just said, ‘Listen to everybody’s truth Spike, pray, and then come up with your own truth.'”

The greatest danger to the realization of this film has to do with neither art nor commerce but with politics, intergroup and intragroup politics. On the one hand there is the age-old struggle of African Americans to control their image in the mass culture and on the other, there is the fight for artistic autonomy from those in-group political factions that would make creative endeavors subservient to the demands of politics.

The fight waged by Afro-Americans to control their own image goes back to the 18th century, when Benjamin Banneker-scientist and writer-was forced to challenge and debunk Thomas Jefferson’s racist ruminations on black people by word and deed. This resistance grew throughout the 19th century and manifested itself in a steady stream of written and spoken polemics, political struggle, art, music, dance and finally, musical theater.

One could argue that history was a major impetus to the rise of a native Afro-American musical theater that produced works like Chlorindy: The Origin of the Cake Walk, by the Paul Laurence Dunbar and composer Will Marion Cook, or In Abbyssinia , a musical review by Bob Cole, J. Rosamond Johnson,  and his brother James Weldon Johnson. “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a multi-stanza art song popularly known as the ”Black National Anthem,” by James Weldon Johnson and his J. Rosamond Johnson.

Afro-American film historian Donald Bogle, the premier authority on blacks in American movies, concluded, “American films are still dominated by stereotypes and distortions. And the history of blacks in films remains one in which individual actors and actresses have often had to direct themselves; rather than playing characters, they have often had to play against their roles.”

The first black character in American movies appeared in the 1903 silent film Uncle Tom’s Cabin, based on the 19th century novel of the same title. But as Bogle points out, “The great paradox was that in actuality Torn was not black at all. Instead he was portrayed by a nameless, slightly overweight white actor made up in black face.” And he offers this analysis of the evolution of the Afro-American image on the silver screen: “After the Torn’s debut, there appeared a variety of black presences bearing the fanciful names of the coon, the tragic mulatto, the mammy, and the brutal black buck. All were character types used for the same effect: to entertain by stressing Negro inferiority.”

Bogle argues that these archetypes survived into the 1980s and says, of the white American films of the last decade that, “the 1980s might be viewed as the age of the hybrid stereotype: a time when major stars played characters who were sometimes part coon/part buck, sometimes part coon/part mammy. Then, too, black men frequently found themselves de-sexed, rarely permitted romantic roles. Women had few major parts.”

The fabulous flowering of the first authentic Afro- American cinema was sparked by the achievements of one young man: Spike Lee. Like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis-who has almost single-handedly inspired a renaissance in classical acoustic jazz-Spike is the father of the contemporary black film movement. In his five films that have made it to theater screens, he has given us a fascinating portrait of Afro-American life. From the outset, Spike has sought to bring artistic values to black cinema. Hence, we have an array of vigorous and varied black characters that run the gamut from sophisticated cosmopolites to uncouth ghetto fools. He has explored important topics previously ignored in American movies and brought African American art music, i.e., jazz, to the sound tracks of his films, thus introducing it to new audiences around the world.

And while Spike has not always succeeded in his creative efforts, I agree with Bogle’s assessment of his contribution, that “the director’s style (and his refusal to make a formula picture) proved fresh and original.” She’s Gatta Have It “was a true rarity; a black film with a black sensibility.” However, this assessment is not shared by some members of the black community.

Some even accuse Spike of subverting black culture, distorting the history of the black liberation movement, and just generally calling us out of our names. Some of the charges that are now being leveled at Spike, by people who oppose his efforts to make the Malcolm X film, are equivalent to calling him a charlatan or an ignoramus. Most offensive in this regard is Amiri Baraka, ne LeRoi Jones, the aging sixties radical, who recently showed up . at Spike’s door and presented him with a letter stating his concerns about how Spike would handle Malcolm’s story. “We were holding a meeting at the time,” said Spike. “So, I just accepted the letter and told him I would read it.”  But before he could respond, Baraka went public.

Railing against Spike at a Harlem rally on August 3, Baraka exhorted a crowd of about 200 listeners not to let Malcolm X’s life “be trashed to make middle-class Negroes sleep easier.” He also announced that he had come “to bring the issue of Mr. Lee’s exploitation film to the masses.” However, some observers who have worked with Baraka in the past and know him well, are skeptical about what motivated this latest outburst. Dr. Maulana (Ron) Karenga, whose Kawaida philosophy Baraka once passionately embraced and then denounced-along with Karenga himself-when he converted to Marxism, thinks: “LeRoi Jones is just trying to call attention to himself, get a little free publicity.”

And writer Greg Tate takes a similar view: “Baraka is just jealous because he’s no longer getting the kind of attention he used to get. Spike has the ear of the people, and he doesn’t anymore, and I believe he can’t stand it. He seems to hate any young black person who is successful.” One irony is that Spike has collaborated on three books, all associated with the release of his films, with Lisa Jones, who is Baraka’s bi-racial daughter by his first marriage.

But whatever motivated Baraka to launch this bitter and ill-conceived attack on Spike, his speech up in Harlem suggests that he is losing his grip on reality. After all, he denounces the black middle class, while just retiring from a protracted war with Rutgers over tenure demands. And what, pray tell, is more bourgeois than a tenured professor at a major white university? And the 200 or so curious onlookers hardly constituted the African American “masses.”

Indeed, this appears to be the rhetoric of a sadly deluded man. And it is not the worst of it; there are other aspects of Baraka’s behavior regarding the role of Spike Lee as a filmmaker that are troubling. For instance, when Baraka appeared on my radio show over WBAl on July 30, he argued that Spike was part of a conspiracy to trash and discredit the Black Liberation Movement of the sixties and subvert the black cultural revolution, a phenomenon he never defined. As proof of Spike’s evil intentions, Baraka pointed out that Spike had refused to publish his critical treatise on Spike’s movies in his recent anthology Five For Five (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). And he said of Spike, “There is a retrograde trend to people here who are being aggrandized based on the fact of their opposing the historical struggles of black people, and I see Spike Lee as one of those. I don’t see where his films have supported the Black Movement.”

This attack was bad enough, but when I read Baraka’s essay “Spike Lee at the Movies,” I knew why Lee didn’t publish it. A vulgar Marxist tract, handicapped by leaden prose and anachronistic ideas, it reads like the ranting of a religious devotee who has flipped his wig. Coming from the pen of one of the most important writers to emerge from the sixties Black Arts Movement, it is a sad and alarming document that is distinguished by a total absence of original thought.

Baraka’s essay is riddled with Marxist cliches and sloganeering which often substitute for thoughtful analysis. For instance, Spike’s innovative and artistic low-budget satire on male-female relations, She’s Gotta Have It, was “tied to an ingenuous bourgeois feminism. (It’s best defense.) The ‘turn-around’ Nola practices, as equality, is still not correct. Revenge, perhaps, but here an entitlement of her philosophical freedom.” Then he tells us why the film is finally unrighteous: “Womanizing among men is negative and needs to be opposed. Manizing by ‘free’ women is normal bourgeois society.”

The fact that Baraka can only perceive Spike’s sexy, stylish and riotously funny film in such morose terms exposes this self-proclaimed revolutionary as a closet puritan. But Ishmael Reed, a novelist poet and essayist of extraordinary intellect and imagination, who is attacked along with Ralph Ellison in Baraka’s cliche-ridden diatribe, has Baraka’s number on this issue: “His remarks about Spike Lee just reinforce the stereotype that the black intelligentsia slavishly devouring intellectual scraps that are thrown out from the academic big house. They seem to always be behind the trends. Marxism, as an economic theory, is being abandoned all over the world. They are still writing essays that use the language of deconstruction when this theory is being abandoned. They still think phenomenology is hip. If Baraka doesn’t like Spike’s films, he should make his own.”

Spike concurs with Ishmael’s view: “With all the problems that plague black people, why are they attacking me? Baraka is full of shit. “When Malcolm was alive, I was a little kid but Baraka was a grown man. And what was he doing? He was running around the Village with Allen Ginsberg being a beatnik. He didn’t even move uptown to Harlem until after Malcolm was assassinated! I don’t tell Baraka what to write in his books, and he can’t tell me what to say in my films.”

However, Baraka is not alone in his skepticism about Spike’s intentions for Malcolm’s story. A pamphlet issued by the hastily formed United Front to Preserve the Legacy of Malcolm X and the Cultural Revolution echoes many of the questions raised in Baraka’s essay. In fact, much of it reads as if written by Baraka, whose name is prominently displayed in it. The United Front is largely composed of middle-aged political activists, many of whom knew Malcolm X. Its purpose is to further ,Political objectives. But Spike Lee, and all artists, must fervently resist any effort to reduce them to nothing more than vehicles for political propaganda. For this possibility poses a far greater danger to the future of African American culture than any honest mistake Spike might make in telling Malcolm’s story. In a work of art, the vision of the artist must be paramount.

*******************

Playthell G. Benjamin

Reprinted from Emerge Magazine

November Issue, 1991

 

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing If it ain’t got that Swing!

Posted in Blues For A word Sorcerer, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 18, 2020 by playthell

Remembering Stanley Crouch

BLUES FOR A WORD SORCERER

Alas, the sad news has reached my ears that Stanley Crouch, a unique tribune of our times, has danced and joined the ancestors. A poet, essayist, dramatist, short story writer and novelist. Stanley was by any objective measure a GREAT writer. A native of South-Central Los Angeles, Stanley began writing for the theater in a company that grew out of the great Watts riot of 1965. When I met him in 1968, he was a Poet in Residence at Pomona, one of the prestigious Claremont Colleges, just outside LA, popularly known as “The Harvard of the West.”

I was visiting the school as a guest lecturer to help make the case for the importance of Black Studies, add Stanley was part of the black campus movement attempting to establish a Black Studies Department. At the time he was a militant Black Nationalist, decked in a dashiki, dark shades with a big Afro, and had just produced a collection of weaponized words, radical poems titled: “Ain’t No Ambulances for No Niggers Tonight!”

It was clear that Stanley shared the view of writing advocated by the peerless word warrior, Ishmael Reed: “Writin is Fightin.”  And like Ish, his esthetic conception and literary concerns were shaped by the Black Arts Movement, which like the black cultural awakening in the 1920’s which is known to history as “The Harlem Renaissance, was also born in Harlem with the founding of The African Jazz Art Society in 1958.  The founders: Cecil and Ronnie Brathwaite, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, represented a cross section of the visual and musical arts.

The writers – especially Leori Jones aka Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal – greatly inspired and influenced him would come to Harlem from Newark via Greenwich Village, and Philadelphia.  And like everybody who were studying the extremely complex art of Jazz drumming, Stanley was profoundly influenced by Max Roach, the most influential innovator in improvisational percussion of the 20th century. These influences, deeply rooted in Black Cultural Nationalism, inspired and shaped Stanley’s poetic style.

Despite being far away on the western frontier in The City Of Angels, Stanley herd the word, as it was being transfigured and weaponized by cultural warriors in Harlem’s hip black coffee House “The Truth.”  A gathering place for Black revolutionaries on the political and cultural front, word sorcerers weaved dreams with the magic of the spoken word.  Poetry that made our spirits dance and fortified us for the liberation struggle.

Roland Stone aka Yusef Rachman, Ed Spriggs, Calvin Hernton, Roland Snellings, aka Askia Muhammad Toure, Leroi Jones aka Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, Jayne Cortez, Soyna Sanchez, Aisha Rachman, were all born of this black cultural awakening in Harlem.  And as these Black Bards traveled across the country like circuit preachers spreading the good word, the Black Arts Movement caught fire.  Chit-Town produced Amus Moore and Don L. Lee  aka Haki Madibuti, and LA gave us Stanley Crouch, one of the most able of the radical Black Nationalist bards.

Although he would eventually fall under the tutelage of the celebrated novelist/essayist Ralph Ellison, and Blues Philosopher Albert Murray, weighty intellectual hep cats from our parent’s generation,  and reject Radical Black Nationalism, abandoning his leftist literary comrades, he remained a literary pugilist.   And would later savagely skewer those comrades in a critically acclaimed collection of essays: “Notes of A Hanging Judge.” For which he was awarded the highly prestigious “MacArthur Genius Award.”

‘Stanley would become one of the most decorated writers in American letters. Primarily an essayist, Stanley wrote on a variety of subjects, but his greatest distinction was as a masterful critic of the quintessential American art of Jazz, which he correctly viewed as the contribution of US civilization to the canon of great art. I discovered his love for Jazz the first time we met. After my speech he invited me over to his crib to hang out, and he had a set of drums in his living room.

Having once played the drum kit myself but had long abandoned them for the Afro-Cuban Conga drums, I had remained a fan and was interested in hearing him play. He put on a record and began to play along. He said he was working on “some different stuff,” that he was not ready to reveal. Among the students hangin out was the young lady who later became the famous television star “Judge Mable, and a young saxophonist I believe was Davis Murray, who became one of the truly original voices on the tenor sax.

After that visit I did not see Stanley again until about six years later, when we met again in New York. But I had followed his brilliant column “Crouch on Jazz,” which was published in Players magazine, a black version of Playboy. I thought they were the most elegantly crafted insightful was essays I had ever read on the art of Jazz. There was a grandeur to his conception of the music that set his writing apart from the common lot of critics, even in the Big Apple, where good writers are common fare.

Crouch’s writings on Jazz conjured up the observation of Zora Neal Hurston in a letter to James Weldon Johnson – two great early 20th century Afro-American writers who migrated from Northern Florida to the Big Apple just like me – when she said: “We are a people who love magnificence and cannot get too much of it.” In New York he joined the staff at the Village Voice, an incubator of great music critics. From his conspicuous prestigious perch at the Village Voice, Crouch quickly became the most outstanding Jazz critic in the big Apple…the world capital of Jazz. And his influence was such that Stanley became an intellectual mentor to the trumpet genius and brilliant composer Wynton Marsalis, and he was a major force in the creation of “Jazz Lincoln Center,” the nation’s most important monument to Afro-American culture!

Known as “the writer’s paper,” and the “home of the New Journalism,” the Voice, with its reverence for fine English prose and creative storytelling, was the perfect place for Stanley, as the editors prized the individual writers voice – especially the great Bob Christgeau, who edited Stanley’s finest essays penned during his tenure at the voice. Several of which ended up as award winning anthologies.

Stanley really blossomed at the Voice, as he branched out from Jazz criticism and wrote about art, literature and politics. Although the subjects of his interest changed, his pugnacious poetic style didn’t, concocting a prose style that prized poetic simile and metaphor. Often his prose seemed to dance off the page, animated by the polyrhythmic phrases.

A lover of literature, I was bewitched by Stanley’s compositions and avidly read his texts. In conversations about various and sundry issues, Stanly began to chide me about writing more, At the time my writing was limited to a few academic treatises published in obscure journals, and the lyrics to songs I had written for a great singer with whom I was smitten.

Stanley began to chide me to write more. He would say: “Listen man, it would be so easy for you because you speak in essays.” His comment really got my attention because Mike Thelwell,  my colleague at the University of Massachusetts who is a great writer and professor of Black World literature, had told me this a couple of years earlier as he pushed me to write, but to no avail.  I was a voracious reader, and I was always telling him about something I had read. But one day he said to me: “You know why you read so much? Because reading is a lot easier than writing!”

He badgered me until I began to take myself seriously as a writer. And once I started I have been unable to stop having now written hundreds of serious essays…1000 of them posted online at www.commentariesonthetimes.wordpress.com. I have written for some of the finest publications in the English language, here and in England. Along the way I have won several awards, and two Pulitzer Prize nominations for Feature Writing and Distinguished Commentary. The nominating letters are posted at Commentaries on The Times. I was in my forties when I began to write seriously, and had it not been for Stanley’s insistent prodding and encouragement, I might never have pursued a writing career. We became serious intellectual sparring partners for years.

In 2003, Stanley and I was commissioned to write a book commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dr. WEB DuBois’ classic American text: “The Souls of Black Folk.” Since I was a co-founder of the WEB DuBois Department of Black Studies at the University of Massachusetts in 1969, one year after our first meeting – the first free standing, degree granting, Black Studies department in the world, and acquired Dr, DuBois’s voluminous papers – and held a professorship in history there, we agreed that I would write the historical overview, reconstructing the intellectual milieu, in the US and Germany – that shaped DuBois’s education and worldview.

Reconsidering The Souls of Black Folk” consists of two complex essays in intellectual, cultural and political history and criticism centered around the historical context, text and legacy of “The Souls of Black Folk” and its brilliant author. The book was selected for discussion at the opening session of the National Black Writers Conference, sponsored by Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and hosted by the Studio Museum of Harlem. C-Spans Bhttps://www.c-span.org/video/?176136-1/reconsidering-souls-black-folkook World covered the event, and I have appended the link to their video below.

See> https://www.c-span.org/video/?176136-1/reconsidering-souls-black-folk

It Don’t Mean a Thing If  Ain’t Got That Swing – Duke Ellington Orchestra 1943,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDQpZT3GhDg

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 2020

Had I Spoken at the Democratic Convention

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2020 by playthell

This is What I Would Have Said

Friends, truth seekers, country men, lend me your ears!  I have come to speak the unvarnished truth about the historic choice that confronts us in the coming presidential election.  In choosing a President, the person who will serve as the chief executive of our government and Commander-In-Chief of our awesome armed forces – including our doomsday nuclear arsenal which can destroy our planet in a flash – what matters most is character and competence. Our guy, Uncle Joe, has both in abundance.  An embarrassment of riches!

Alas the other guy has a severe deficit of both.  Indeed, I think it fair to say: If character and competence were ink, Dirty Don tha Con wouldn’t have enough to cross a T, or even dot an I!   Since the good character, humble demeanor and humane vision of Joe Biden has been roundly attested to and duly praised by the high and the humble, from the suites to the streets, in a hail of poignant panegyrics worthy of a hero or a saint, and his competence for the high office he seeks has been duly demonstrated from decades of public service, and the wise counsel he provided President Obama that helped make him the GOAT, the Muhammad Ali of the political arena – The Greatest of All Times – I shall concentrate on the deficits of Devious Dangerous Donnie Dimwit.

In her eloquent, wise and extraordinarily relevant address to this convention our beautiful and brilliant former first lady Michelle Obama, once more implored us to take the high road, when the nasty amoral Trumpanzees who have converted the Grand Old Party into the Grand Obstructionist Party “go low.”  However, despite the fact that I fairly worships the ground she treads upon, I must dissent.  I find the position of former Attorney General Eric Holder much more to my liking: “When they go low…kick em!

It is in that spirt that I critique the cretin that is presently befouling the White House.  I feel this is of singular importance because no one thus far, in the flurry of florid oratory, rich in metaphor and elegant turns of phrase, pregnant with intellectual gravitas, none has flagellated the scurrilous scoundrel to my satisfaction.  I would bet my bottom dollar that when Uncle Joe comes up to speak, he will also fail to flog the foulhearted fool with a fitting flagellation!  For he is a Christian gentleman, and thus it is in his nature to forgive the transgressions of knaves and blaggards, to seek the higher ground that Lady Obama commends.  Hence the task of whipping Trump’s treacherous treasonous jive ass in the fashion he so richly deserves falls to me.

It is a calling I joyously accept!  For I am as perfectly suited to this…as killer whales to water.  Indeed, I feel born to this role, to this moment. For I am neither a Christian, a gentleman, and certainly not a lady!  In my comments about the present occupant of the Oval Office – I hesitate to refer to him as “the president” because, like the late great congressman John Lewis, I do not consider his “election” to be legitimate. Aside from the fact that he was trounced by Hillary Clinton in the popular vote by a three million majority, our intelligence agencies tell us that Russian military intelligence posted a million and a half disinformation messages attacking Hillary and supporting Trump.  And both the Mueller Report and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report concluded that the Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference in behalf of the Moscow Candidate.

Hence, rather than address  Devious Donald as “President,” I have decided to follow his example of labeling everyone he disagrees by a negative nickname – “Crooked Hillary,” “Shifty Shift,” “Sleepy Joe,” “Sloppy Steve,” et al.  And I remind his Christian apologists of the biblical injunction: “Ye shall reap what ye sow.”  It has been a revealing exercise, since there are so many negative nicknames that suits Don Tha Con perfectly!

After covering Ditzy Donald’s presidential campaign, crack reporter Matt Taibbi wrote a book about the candidate titled “The Insane Clown President.”  It would be hard to find a titled that so accurately describes its subject, indeed history has proven Taibbi prescient in his projection.  For Trump has turned out to be just that…and worse.  In an interview on Democracy Now, with the highly informed veteran Journalist Juan Gonzales, Taibbi described his impressions of Dopey Donald after observing him closely for two years: “He is the perfect foil to reflect everything that is tasteless and vulgar and disgusting and cheap and greedy about American culture.”

Although Taibbi refers to Donnie Dimwit as “insane,” it is used as more of a symbolic rhetorical device.  However, there is compelling evidence that Trump is suffering from serious psychopathologies, and it affects his behavior in the political arena. A group of psychiatrists and psychologists became so troubled from watching his antics on television that they felt the nation should be alerted to the fact that we have a dangerous sociopath running the nation’s affairs.  And the published a book to do just that titled “Duty to Warn,” describing his psychopathology as “Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia.”  In the beginning it was less than twenty doctors who advanced this theory, but as Deranged Donald has continued cut the fool before the world the number of doctors who now lend their names and reputations to the Duty to Warn statement number upwards of 70, 000!

Many of these doctors constitute the elite of their profession, and they are not deterred from forming opinions on Trump’s mental state because of the “Goldwater Rule,” which argues that in order to assess a persons mental state the doctor must personally examine them, and we should not be deterred from referencing their opinions based on an antiquated rule which was a political act rather than a scientific finding.  In fact, as many of you know, the CIA regularly relies on this kind of psychiatric profiling of foreign leaders when advising the President and Congress on matters of national security and foreign policy.

In fact, this diagnosis was introduced into the psychiatric  literature by the distinguished German Psycho-analyst Eric Fromm, a refugee from Nazi terror living in the US, when he was contracted by the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, to develop a psychiatric profile of Adolph Hitler!  Hence, we have a President of the United states who suffers from the identical psychopathologies as the most destructive political leader of the 20th century!

This fact should keep us all awake at night, every night, when we consider the fact that this sicko is in command of our nuclear arsenal.  That he literally has the power to destroy the world!   And our nuclear chain of command does not have the failsafe checks on the Commander-In-Chief that the ordinary citizen thinks it does.  That’s why the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the world’s foremost experts on the probability of accidental nuclear war, has the hands on their Doomsday Clock poised at seconds to midnight! To their everlasting credit, Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Ted Lieu recognized the grave danger this poses and authored a bill to do something about it by requiring congressional consent before Dangerous Donald could launch a nuclear first strike.  But the bill never saw the light of day, because our political leaders found other issues more important…more urgent.

The indisputable truth is that although there is much criticism of The Donald’s myriad moral and mental shortcomings, his missing marbles, few understand the depth of the danger the world is in every minute this crazy corrupt charlatan remains in the White House.  Alas, we have received numerous warnings, the latest coming from his own niece, a PhD psychologist who has observed his antics from a front row seat for decades, and has written a book calling Dastardly Donald: “The world’s Most Dangerous Man!”

The evidence of his mental maladies is everywhere manifest.  One only needs to watch his act, his ongoing live reality show, in order to identify the symptoms.  The Malignant Narcissist believes the world revolves around him; that time moves when he moves.  It is his show 24/7, the world is his stage and the rest of us are but minor players upon it.  Hence, in his mind he knows more about war than the generals and more about medicine than the doctors.  He understands the Corona-Virus better than the scientist who have spent a lifetime studying it.  And when their prescriptions for suppressing its spread differs from his they are all involved in a plot against him, a conspiracy by the “Deep State” “to make him look bad.”  That is the paranoid component of his madness wedded to the dangerous Megalomania.  And while he claims to be a proud grandfather, his decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement to halt global warming, which along with nuclear war threatens the extinction of mankind, makes him the worst grandfather ever.

Deadly Donnie believes he understands world events better than the intelligence agencies that American taxpayers provide billions annually to fund.  And he routinely dismisses their findings when they disagree with his gut feelings, even refusing to read their detailed presidential briefing papers. Which explains why he refused to act on the CIA warnings about the Corona-Virus developing in Wuhan China long before it became a Pandemic, which led to the disaster we are now coping with.  He has declared himself a “stable genius” who alone understand and can fix the complex problems facing the nation.  In fact it was just such a statement that first led me to draw a connection between Don that Con and Adolph Hitler, whom his first wife said he so admired that he kept a volume of Adolph’s collected speeches on his bedside table.

But before I learned anything about his strange fascination with the German autocrat, or the fact that they suffered from the same mental maladies, I wrote an extended essay titled “Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?”  This treatise was inspired by the fact that Hitler had made the same claim, the language was slightly different but it was the same in essence: “It All depends on me.”

What stood out for me was that both of these supreme egotists had conflated the nation and their personality into one entity.  This is why The Don feels that any criticism of him is “Treason,” a charge whose definition in the Constitution is unbeknownst to this pugnacious narcissistic ignoramus.  But this misunderstanding, coupled with Dirty Don’s grandiose conception of himself, is the key to understanding his personality and how it affects his often bizarre behavior.

To those who loudly protest that “Trump is no Hitler,” I readily agree.  For one thing Hitler was an aspiring artist and a connoisseur of the arts and architecture.  Hence when the Nazi armies marched into Paris, they had strict orders to preserve the art and architecture.  Donnie Dumbass, ignorant philistine that he is,  had to be restrained from ordering the bombing of ancient temples in Iran, priceless irreplaceable architectural and art treasure from ancient Persia.  The cultural heritage of all man the Iranians have preserved from antiquity. Alas, uncultured white trash that he is, this meant nothing to Donny Dimwit!

In the famous scene of Hitler entering Paris in his motorcade, the first stop he made was to visit the world-renowned Paris Opera House, where he toured the building to admire the architectural design.  He was a lover of great music who founded the annual Bayreuth opera festival, which celebrates the magnificent music of Richard Wagner, performed by great artists from all over the world.  Hitler was also an impassioned Nationalist, just as Donny Drumfp claims to be, but when time came to answer the call to arms in defense of the national interest, Hitler was a brave solder in combat and Don tha Con was a draft dodging coward, whose rich corrupt daddy bought him a phony medical report that falsely claimed he had a handicap that rendered him unfit for military service!

Hitler was a reader and student of history; Donnie Dimwit won’t even read his daily presidential briefings.  Hitler had a political philosophy and wrote a book to define it…Trump believes in nothing beyond building his brand, basking in the admiration of his acolytes, and making money.  And while Hitler spent his leisure visiting art exhibits and attending performances of classical German music, Trump was hanging out with lowlife child molesters like his ace boon coon Jeffery Epstein!   By now the shocked listener feels compelled to cry out: But Hitler was the most evil man that ever lived, how can you compare him to Trump?”

To wit I quote my grandfather’s defense: “I ain’t told a word of a lie yet”  Alas, facts are stubborn things…they persist even when they are embarrassing, inconvenient or discrediting.  In a burst of sophistic apologia by the Evangelicals who have entered a Faustian Bargain with this Devil, or a pitiful final attempt by Trumpanzees to salvage their savior,  they offer a final protest:  But Hitler killed Six Million Jews, and sparked a world war that killed 50.000 million!  President Trump has committed no atrocity that approaches Hitler’s crimes.   I readily concede the point.  However I caution you that if Deranged Donald is elected to another four years in the Oval Office, given his assault  on efforts to stem climate change, and his carless child-like infatuation with nuclear weapons, he could end putting forces in motion that will extinguish all life on planet earth…making his fellow German authoritarian, who like Donnie Drumfp attributed his “genius” to German blood – look like a small time butcher!

Hence, in dealing with this dangerous tragi-comic joker, we must arm ourselves with an unadorned understanding of who he is.  As the late Afro-American poet Maya Angelo warned: “When a person shows you who they are the first time…believe them!”  Hence in negotiating with Dirty Don tha Con we must always remember that we are dealing with a mentally ill, amoral, dangerous, Big Apple flim flam man who needs to “win” at any cost.  He is not a statesman, and he neither knows nor cares about how to govern.

The late Republican speaker of the House Paul Ryan – a wonkish fellow for whom mastering and making policy was a joy – said after one meeting with The Don: ”The guy knows absolutely nothing about government.”  This is who he is…it is what it is alas, and we must act accordingly: When he goes low kick him!  We owe it to generations yet unborn to get his evil charlatan out of the Oval Office ASAP!  This is the task history has assigned to enlightened Americans in the coming election.

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
September 1, 2020

 

NOW LET US PRAISE A GREAT ARTIST!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2020 by playthell

IN REMEMBRANCE OF CHADWICK BOSEMAN

Three Reviews of his Magnificent Performances

For lovers of cinema, Chadwick Boseman has provided many magnificent moments with his marvelous performances on the Giant Silver Screen. I have loved the movies since I was a boy, bewitched by the magic images dancing around on a giant silver screen as we sat in awe staring in a darkened room. In the movies one could be transported anywhere in the world and out of this world.

But, alas, there was no Chadwick Boseman when I was a boy, and no movies like the ones he made. Movies that celebrate the beauty, bravery, heroism, and nobility of our collective spirits. A spiritual gravitas that enabled us to struggle in the savage wilds of North America and emerge four centuries hence strong, gifted and black…”with our souls in tact’ That’s why I write about the arts. Although I consider writing about politics a duty, writing about the arts is pure pleasure. Yet the time and effort I can devote to the task is limited, hence I only write about the MASTERPIECES!

Brother Boseman, who lately danced and joined the ancestors, was a sterling example of the best of the Afro-American cultural tradition – a tradition forged in the fires of persistent struggle over four long treacherous centuries, in which the Euro-American majority subjected Afro-Americans to unimaginable trials and tribulations. All the while being forced to recite drivel about Living in “the land of the free,” where “all men are created equal,” with freedom and justice for all,” when we knew it was a gargantuan lie! This is the real “American Exceptionalism”

Although to speak this obvious truth to white power would often invite disaster, despite your First Amendment right to say so. Colin Kapernik being a conspicuous example! That’s why the movies of Chadwick Boseman are essential tools to better understand our experience. For he has brought our heroes to life on the giant screen in living color. By brilliantly portraying such iconic figures as Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Jessie Owens, James Brown, et al, he not only celebrated their greatness in bravura performances, he also brought to life the struggles of Afro-Americans in a country that is dedicated to the preservation of White Supremacy as I write.

Although I am always writing a treatise about something or the other, as my patron saint Dr. WEB DuBois said – “Something done and something doing” – writing about the arts is almost a guilty pleasure for me during these troubled times. I share Frederick Douglass’ unease when he was asked by fellow activist, and thoughtful intellectuals, how he could squander time and talents writing about the emerging art of photography while the country was being torn apart by the Abolitionists Movement, Civil War, and Reconstruction?

In truth, these are questions asked by well meaning philistines, sincere people with good intentions yet miss the meaning of art in our lives. Although politics determines our life’s chances, since it is the process by which power is created and distributed; the arts stimulate our imagination, nourish our souls, and make our spirits dance. Often the arts have been called upon to illuminate the power of the Gods!

In ancient traditional African societies, “Art of art’s sake” was a foreign idea, as all art had an organic connection religious ritual. The art of Chadwick Boseman strikes a close communion with the Ancestor Veneration Rituals of traditional African societies. The “Igungun” ritual of the Yoruba’s, a civilization from which many neo-African cultures of the Black Atlantic Diaspora of the America’s derive.

The function of these rituals was the celebrate the ancestors by evoking their spirits as we honored their virtues. That’s what Chad Boseman did in marvelous, heroic, performances on the silver Screen. A fundamental function of art everywhere is to imagine things unseen, to create new visions of human possibility. That is one of the major functions of myth making, and story telling, a function essential to all humanity, because the homo sapian sepecies alone have this gift!

This is accomplished magnificently in the movie Black Panther, where we see Chadwick Boseman in what will no doubt be his most influential and remembered role: The wise and brave King of the mythical African Kingdom of Wakanda, which captured the imagination of people all over the world, broke box office records, and presented our children with a superhero worthy of them!

REVIEWS:

Bio-pic of Jackie Robinson – Some Reflections on Forty Two” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/…/some-reflections-on-fo…/

Bio-pic on James Brown: “Get On Up,” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2014/08/12/get-on-up/

BLACK PANTHER at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/…/black-panther-a-cinema…/

Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in “GET ON UP!”

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

August 28, 2020

Can A House So Divided Continue to Stand?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2020 by playthell

Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell

Thing Are Falling Apart!

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Abraham Lincoln declared at the 1858 Illinois state Republican Convention, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” This was only four years before Lincoln was elected President and the United States of America fell apart, degenerating into Civil War – the most destructive war in history at the time.

It was the first modern war where industrialized methods were used to produce and transport men and materials, it lasted four years and exacted a price in blood and treasure that devastated the nation. Yet Lincoln could not see it coming, and therein, I believe, lies a critical warning for our times; when Americans are arguably the most divided since the Civil War, and some Trump supporters are openly and increasingly calling for “Civil War” should he be impeached; which is now a fait accompli.

To gain some perspective on the dimensions of this bloody 19th century catastrophe that nearly destroyed the United States, we have but to point out the fact that 51 thousand Americans lost their lives during three days of combat at Gettysburg Pennsylvania, while from 2001 to July 7 2018, 2,372 American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.

Hence over sixteen times more Americans were slaughtered by Americans in three days at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, than were killed in the Afghan war in 17 years! The battle however was a resounding victory for the Union forces, and spelled the beginning of the end for the southern Confederacy which saved the Union.

On November 19th 1863, four and a half months after the Union victory, Abraham Lincoln would stand on the blood soaked soil of Gettysburg to dedicate the opening of a new National Cemetery in remembrance of those who had fought and died there to save the Union. Although he feared his oration of 272 words did not rise to the occasion after following Edward Everette – a Massachusetts politician, preacher and famous orator that spoke for two hours – President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is remembered in history as one of the greatest speeches ever presented on a public occasion in America.

The press praised it widely and Everette even wrote to Lincoln that he felt the President’s brief speech touched the central issues of the war much more profoundly than his wordy oration. In fact, Lincoln’s view of why the war was fought can be summed up in the last words of his oration “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Alas, the question that confronts us today is whether truly representative democratic government shall perish from the USA? And I have referenced these events from our tumultuous past because I believe our understanding of current events can be greatly enhanced by the added dimension of historical perspective. Although it is axiomatic among professional historians that history does not repeat itself, that great American wit Mark Twain made a telling point when he observed “History may not repeat…but it rhymes.”

Hence if we view the fundamental cause of the Civil War as the failure of our constitutional government to peacefully resolve internal conflict, then we may be witnessing a recurrent phenomenon; a class of event that is not unique to America, but can be observed in nations embroiled in internecine conflicts across time and geography.

As hard as it is for many Americans to believe, our constitutional democracy is on very shaky ground. The election of Donald J. Trump as President has proved a grave mistake, a blunder of biblical proportions, and our democratic system of governance is imperiled. From the outset the validity of Trump’s election has been in question. Even as fair minded a man as Congressman John Lewis – an icon of the great Civil Rights Movement who is deeply committed to the democratic process, and once put his life on the line to insure that it worked for all Americans – openly refused to attend Trump’s inauguration, declaring his election “illegitimate.”

And the nation’s capitol saw one of the largest demonstrations in its history when the women marched and chanted “Not my president!” They were expressing their righteous anger, protesting what they viewed as a stolen election that prevented the first woman from becoming President. And to add insult to injury Hillary Clinton was the best qualified candidate ever to run for President, and Donald Trump was demonstrably the least qualified for the office. And that is exactly how he has conducted himself as president.

Not only has Trump been an embarrassment with his crude vulgar rhetoric, amoral behavior and disdain for the dignity of the presidency; he also poses a real and present danger to the national interests with his reckless attacks on the fundamental institutions that make our constitutional democracy work. He has repeatedly referred to highly competent dedicated professionals in the intelligence and foreign service communities as “scum,” accusing them of “treason” for doing their jobs – much of which he does not even understand – and declaring them agents of a mythical “Deep State,” that is orchestrating a “coup” against him at the behest of the “evil” Democrats.

He has called the major journalistic institutions, the newspapers of record that future historians will consult when assessing his legacy, “Enemies of the people!” Through the agency of his Twitter feed the Tweeting Twit has weaponized lies – he has been busted telling outright lies over 14 thousand times by professional fact checkers at the Toronto Star and Washington Post – Devious Donald is seriously undermining confidence in their government for millions of his acolytes.

Yet that is just part of the story. Dirty Donnie has also undermined confidence in our presidential and even senatorial elections by his refusal to admit the massive Russian interference in our last presidential election on his behalf even happened, and taking vigorous measures to prevent it’s recurrence. Indeed, he continues to refer to the Russian intervention, which all 17 US intelligence agencies agree happened, as “a hoax.”

When we consider the fact that former the National Intelligence Director James Clapper says Russian intelligence agencies, at the instruction of Vladimir Putin, posted 157 million disinformation messages attacking Hillary and promoting Fat Don tha Con on the internet, it is virtually impossible for a thoughtful person to conclude that such an effort could not influence 77 thousand votes in three states combined! Contray to the claims of that raging buffoon, Jiveass Jim Jordan, Devious Don’s shameless shill in the House of Representatives, trump did not “win the Electoral College in a landslide.” But it is undeniable that he lost the popular vote by three million votes!

Trump’s transparent lies began when he declared his inauguration was “the biggest ever” and denied the photographic evidence from the US Parks Service that clearly contradicted his bogus claim. Then he invented a bizzare conspiracy theory claiming that “millions of illegal aliens voted for Hillary.” When the extent of Russian meddling began to emerge, first from thoughtful analyst in the intelligence community such as retired spook Malcolm Nance, who wrote a book length treatise on it “The Hacking of America, and the FBI stepped up its investigation into the matter, Trump fired the FBI Director James Comey, and was later heard bragging about it to representatives of the Russian government in the Oval Office.

Alas, blabber mouth thoughtless fool that he is, Devious Donald told NBC Evening News host Lester Holt in a nationally televised interview that he fired Comey to end the investigation into Russian attempts to subvert the will of the American people through a covert cyber-attack. It was this act of stupidity and hubris that sparked the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as “Special Prosecutor,” with a mandate to thoroughly investigate the matter. After interrogating hundreds of witnesses and perusing thousands of documents, Mr. Mueller issued a 400 page report detailing extensive Russian interference in the presidential election to support Trump.

He identified the exact units and agents in the Russian intelligence apparatus that carried out the operation and issued indictments against them. Mr. Mueller explained that although he could not establish a “conspiracy” between the Russian operatives and members of the Trump campaign that would meet the standard of evidence required by the statute, the Trump campaign knew of and welcomed the Russian interference. But since “collusion” is not specifically addressed in the law, he would leave it to Congress to decide.

He also pointed to ten instances that could be construed as “Obstruction of Justice,” which he would also leave it to Congress to determine because of a Department Of Justice regulation prohibiting the indictment of a sitting President. However a thousand former Federal Prosecutors, Democrats and Republicans who served in urban and rural areas, say they would indict and convict a suspect on the evidence Mueller provided. Furthermore, Mr. Mueller clearly stated in his Report and later in testimony before Congress, that his investigation did not exonerate the President.

However, by the time the Mueller Report was released, Devious Donald had replaced Jeff Sessions – who had recused himself from all matters involving the Russian investigation, sparking outrage and charges of disloyalty from from Trump – and replaced him with Bill Barr, who proved eager to to do for Trump what the unethical lawyer Roy Cohn had done for him as a businessman in New York. Barr, who as Attorney General, had jurisdiction over Mueller and thus had access to the Report before the public saw any part of it, helped Devious Donald deceive the American people by misrepresenting the Report’s findings and witholding parts of it from the public and Congress.

Barr simply announced that the extensive investigation by Mr. Mueller “found no collusion and no obstruction of justice.” This pronouncement was quickly seized upon and repeated endlessly on Fox News, a right-wing propaganda outfit posing as a legitimate journalistic institution, and that has become the gospel truth for members of the Trump personality cult, that untutored mob they call “the Republican base.”

Since few people have either the time or inclination to actually read a dense legalistic document of 400 pages, and many Republican members of Congress openly declared that they would not read it, while Trump resorted to Twitter, partisan rallies and right wing media to declare himself “totally exonerated” in his hyperbolic style, the Mueller Report detailing the Russian cyber-attack and his crimes of obstruction has become largely irrelevant.

While the meticulous presentation of of the evidence of Russian intervention contained in the Mueller Report has not prevented Trump from labeling it “a hoax,” the new Inspector General’s investigation of the FBI, debunking Trump’s claims that the FBI “spied on his campaign” at the behest of President Barack Obama, seems destined for a similar fate. Attorney General Barr has already disputed it’s findings and has appointed a hand picked Federal Prosecutor to conduct another investigation that will yeild the results he seeks, which is to give legitimacy to Trump’s bogus claims.

Right before our eyes Barr and Trump are lying about the results of the investigation. Listening to them talk, they seem to have embraced the principle of The Big Lie, Invented by Dr. Joseph Goebbles, Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich, it is a simple proposition that has proved to be very effective with targeted audiences subjected to controlled messages repeatedly beamed into their brains: “Tell the people a lie long enough and they will believe it!”

Dr. Goebbles had control of the national radio net work and the film industry, but Trump has the FOX network and Twitter – a more intimate means of communicating with his followers than Hitler ever had. And there is much evidence showing that the fervent acolytes in the Trump personality cult called the “Republican Base,” only believe what they hear on FOX, or right wing verbal arsonists like Rush Limbaugh on WABC radio, along with Trumps Tweets.

Hence they live in a fact free propaganda bubble that bears little resemblance to the reality that other Americans share by virtue of the reporting from objective journalistic organizations; whose reporters are bound by the ethics taught in Journalism schools, peer reviewed by colleagues and policed by professional organizations. The reporters who are winning Pulitzer Prizes for their careful reportage.

Herein lies the crux of the crisis we are now facing in defining reality: What is truth? One of the basic strategies of dictators in making reality conform to their will is to obfuscate and deny the existence of objective truth, Napoleon Bonaparte for instance, said “History is lies commonly agreed upon!” This is why in the effort to establish a dictatorship the first casualty is truth. We hear echoes of Bonaparte’s claim in Trump’s mouthpiece, Kelleyane Conway, who when confronted with unpleasant facts about Trump said: “We have alternative facts!”

This is a dangerous declaration, because Trump has been diagnosed as a “compulsive liar;” the main symptom of which is the willingness to lie even when you know that your lies can be easily disproven. We see this pathological behavior in Don tha Con all the time, it is his modus operandi. The danger we now face as a nation, is that the Republicans have proved willing to violate their oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” and place their personal and party interests above the national interests. This fact pattern conjures up some of the most dire warnings of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington at the founding of this nation, warnings that now have the ring of prophecy.

In his Farewell Address to the nation delivered on Sept. 19, 1796, President George Washington warned about the dangers of the factionalism promoted by the development of political parties in the new republic:

“I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State… Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party generally. This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed… The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities…The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty…It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

Although delivered over 200 years ago, this is a remarkably accurate description of the antics of Dirty Donald and the Republican Follies! One need only witness their attempts to disrupt the impeachment hearings with transparent lies and shameless sophistries, to recognize the willingness of partisans of the Grand Obstructionist Party to disgrace and beclown themselves to please a corrupt, wannabe autocrat, who demands a permanent lips to posterior posture from all who wish to remain in his good graces.

Why do they do it? Why does educated and accomplished elected officials shamelessly genuflect before this vulgar, pompous, ignorant, boisterous buffoon? The answer lies in their careerist opportunism and the ignorance of the Republican electorate who display a cult like devotion to their savior: “The Donald.” All Republican politicians live in dread of offending him and becoming a victim of the terrible tweets of this twisted twit!

For they have seen the ruin that can come to those who fall from favor with him and become the targets of his vulgar verbal assaults. And, like most elected officials, they understand their constituents and therefore well know that they are dealing with an untutored mob mesmerized by a big city bunko artists whose persona was forged on reality TV and a business career without accountability to superiors. To the “Republican Base” alas, Dirty Donald” is everything they hope to be…the stuff of their dreams.

When your head is empty you can even be convinced to go for the okey doke about Trump being “a blue collar billionaire,” a classic oxymoron. Yet this weird love affair between the plutocrat and the plebes cannot be fully understood without recognizing that they do share something fundamental in common, white trash values; Dirty Donnie is white trash with money! That’s why he can so easily con them with bullshit raps like “us against the elites,” when he is the a prominent member of the most powerful elite in America: The Plutocracy!

But perception is reality for most people alas, and when your mind is a tabla rasa incapable of critical thought, you are the perfect patsy for a bodacious bunko artist playing the long range con. This is the danger that Jefferson saw when he warned the nation: “A democracy cannot work with an ignorant electorate, because they will elect and return the worst people to power.”

The millions of Americans who see Devious Donald for the ignorant dangerous amoral lying charlatan that he is are determined to get his treasonous ass out of the Oval Office as quickly as possible. To them impeachment is the logical, legal and most efficient method of accomplishing this; it was the remedy provided by the architects of the Constitution to remove a criminal, incompetent or power crazed president from office. But the acolytes of The Donald, brainwashed by FOX and the right-wing disinformation complex, are just as convinced of his innocence and are certain that he is the victim of a “coup” directed by the “Deep State” and carried out by deluded evil “liberals” supported by “fake news” from the “Lame Stream Media.”

So here we are, one nation with two different views of reality, and a growing suspicion and mutual hostility toward each other. In a gun crazed nation with millions of firearms in private hands, including military assault weapons, where mass shootings have become commonplace, and a Malignant Narcissist in the Oval Office spouting increasingly reckless rhetoric which echos across the Twitter sphere on a daily basis and fires up the mindless Trumpanzees, anything can happen!

People often ask me how the present period compares with the turbulent 1960’s, which despite nation-wide riots and urban rebellions that set American cities ablaze from coast to coast we survived, and went on to thrive. It is a question that I have been giving serious thought lately, because it is a compass that will help us understand where we are now as the ship of state plows through troubled waters. As one who not only lived through the Sixties, but was a part of the black resistance movement that abolished southern apartheid and outlawed de jure racial discrimination all over this land, I suppose I have a unique perspective on the current state of the Union.

One obvious difference is that radical Black Activists viewed ourselves as part of the Third World Revolution, which was breaking out all over Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Islands of the seas. When I started in the movement I was an angry teenager, a 17 year old college student fighting for my constitutional rights.  Three years later, influenced by the writings of Third World Revolutionaries and news reports of their victorious movements,  spurred on by Thomas Jefferson’s talk about the right and duty to overthrow tyranny, I was an armed revolutionary advocating the overthrow of the racist capitalist American government.

However most Afro-Americans, then as now, continued to believe in the promise of equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by constitutional law. The biggest differences between the 1960’s and now is the absence of bi-partisanship when both parties had liberals and conservatives in their ranks. For instance, civil rights activists and southern segregationists were largely democrats. And major Civil Rights legislation of the period was all passed with Republican support despite the fact that it was authored by Democrats.

And most of all, there was no disagreement on the basic facts in our news media – which was confined to three networks ABC, NBC and CBS – whose reporters all adhered to a universal code of journalistic ethics that dictated the rules of objective reportage. Today the proliferation of propaganda outlets committed to promoting a “news” product determined by political ideology rather than fact based reportage, where the very distinction between reportage and opinion has been obscured, coupled with the internet where there are no journalistic standards at all in much of what is posted as “news,” our public discourse has been reduced to a tower of babble.

In such a confusing information environment many citizens cannot distinguish fact from fiction and thus choose the narrative of events that appeals to their prejudices or desires. This fractured view of reality promotes tribalist divisions among the populace. And when a demagogue like Devious Donald Trump tells his tribe that honest journalists, such as was envisioned by the founders who enshrined a free press in the Constitution because they considered it essential to a democratic society based on the rule of law, are their “enemies,” these divisions can threaten the stability, or survival, of our constitutional democracy.

This is what Americans are confronted with as I write, and whether a society thus divided can hang together is the paramount question that confronts us in this moment. And, deprived of the prescience of seers, or the heroic optimism of those who walk by faith, the future looks problematic to me.

***************

 

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

1/8/20

 

 

 

On Dirty Donald’s Letter to Madam Speaker

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2020 by playthell
In Speaker Pelosi The Donald has met the Woman he can’t Dismiss

All Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia

Donald J. Trump the accidental 45th President of the United States, whose candidacy was boosted by covert Russian activities, leading many astute observers to suspect that he may be a “Moscow mole,” says that he penned his letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “for history.” However, like most things outside of real estate, Devious Donald is clueless. What he does not understand is that future historians, far removed from the partisan passions of this moment and subject to rigorous peer review, will consult a wide variety of evidentiary sources.

First among these will be the great reporters at mainstream journalistic institutions who won Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting on the Trump presidency and impeachment. Ironically, the very people that Trump routinely demonizes and dismisses as “fake news” will be a primary source of evidence for historians who will delineate Donnie’s dirty deeds, define his character, and shape his image in our history books for America’s posterity.

The historians will also take into account the observations of contemporary scholars, as well the copious records and internal memoranda of the Trump Administration which, although concealed now, will then be public records. The historians will surely give great importance to the analysis of Psychiatrists and Psychologist on the state of the president’s mental health, and all of these sources will determine how they view Trump’s “Letter for History.” If ever there was a situation where the warning “be careful what you wish for” applied: This is it!

There are certain things about this poison pen letter that seems to me beyond question, none of it flattering to Trump. It is a propaganda instrument, and although it expresses Trump’s true feelings he is too illiterate to have written it. It is clearly the product of a sick mind, which speaks to its authenticity. And although the exact nature of Devious Donald’s illness has been diagnosed, the fear of litigation has restrained the nation’s great journalistic institutions from referencing the psychiatric profile developed by the 27 doctors that put together the “Duty to Warn” document, alerting the nation to the fact that we have elected a President who is afflicted with a serious psycho-pathology. The assessments of future historians however, will not be restrained by such considerations.

Donald Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supplies abundant evidence to support the diagnosis of the mental health professionals; it is an indispensable road map for exploring the twisted mind of the man who “wrote” it. The doctors warned that the nature of Trump’s pathology posed a clear and present danger to our nation. They diagnosed his condition as “Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia;” the same diagnosis of Adolph Hitler adopted by the US Office of Strategic Services – forerunner to the CIA – during World War II.

Hitler’s diagnosis was based on a psychiatric profile developed by the distinguished German psycho-analyst Eric Fromm, under a contract from the OSS, when Fromm was a refugee from German Fascism residing in the USA. This begs the question: If such psychiatric profiling was valid for a leader who posed a danger to our national existence during World War II, why not now when diagnostic tools and methods are a 70 years advanced?

Since the Duty to Warn analysis was published, it has been endorsed by over 70, 000 Psychiatrists and Psychologists. Among their number are some of the most distinguished scholars and clinicians in the field. However due to the “Goldwater Rule,” which was adopted by the American Psychological Association in response to a suit from Republican backers of Senator Barry Goldwater, mainstream media organizations shy away from citing the conclusions in “Duty to Warn.”

Goldwater’s supporters claimed that his bid for the presidency was quashed by Lyndon Johnson largely because of a published psychiatric profile of Goldwater by a group of Psychiatrist who warned that his cavalier attitude toward nuclear war posed a danger to the world. Their suit argued that since none of the doctors had personally examined Goldwater, it was unethical for them to offer an opinion of his mental state which cost him the presidency.

The APA bowed to the attacks of Goldwater’s supporters and ruled that it is “unethical and unprofessional” conduct for a member of their association to offer a diagnosis of someone they have not “personally examined,” and vowed to sin no more; prohibiting psychiatrists from offering such opinions in the future. This ban became popularly known as “The Goldwater Rule.”

However, the Psychiatrists who have signed the “Duty to Warn” analysis have dismissed this restriction. Their rejection rests on two main arguments: The Goldwater Rule is based upon political expedience not science, and observing Dangerous Donald’s behavior in the public arena as a political actor is far more important method of assessing his character and motivations than having him on a couch in their office. For as anybody who has ever been in therapy knows, you can lie to a therapist during interviews, but actions speak far louder than words…it is deeds that paint the truer portrait of who we are.

I would go even further and argue that the entire factual basis of the Republican claims regarding Senator Goldwater’s defeat is a fiction, conjured up by his apologists to explain away his embarrassing rejection at the polls. Any objective examination of the historical record will clearly show that Senator Goldwater was out of touch with the electorate on a variety of critical issues, and one could persuasively argue the his promise to repeal Social Security was far more important to his devastating defeat.

Lyndon Johnson won in a real landslide election – not the fake “Electoral College landslide” that Republican Congressman and shameless Trumpanzee shill Jim Jordan claims for Don tha Con. In the 1964 Presidential election Lyndon Johnson won 44 of 50 states with 61% of the popular vote and 486 Electoral College votes compared to a mere 52 votes for Senator Goldwater. It was the largest margin of victory in a presidential election since 1820, 144 years before!

By contrast, Trump lost the popular election by almost three million votes and stumbled into the presidency with a mere 77 thousand votes spread over three big Midwestern states which gave him a majority in the Electoral College of 304 to 227 over Hillary Clinton, a margin of 77 votes. When we consider that President Johnson defeated Senator Goldwater by a margin of 434 Electoral votes, it is painfully obvious how deluded Trump’s insistence that he won by a “historic” landslide is.

When we add the claim of James Clapper, who was head of National Intelligence at the time, that Russian intelligence agencies posted 157 million disinformation messages designed to help Trump and hurt Hillary on a variety of internet platforms, the legitimacy of Trump’s election is called into question. That’s why Congressman John Lewis refused to attend the inauguration of Devious Donald – which many Americans, this writer among them, considered a day of infamy for our nation when we installed a Moscow Candidate in the Oval Office – and women staged a massive demonstration in Washington.

This skepticism about his legitimacy is the paramount reason why Trump still denies the magnitude of Russian interference in our election, despite the conclusion of all 17 US intelligence agencies that it happened. He continues to deny this fact even after the exhaustive Muller Investigation, which in a rigorously detailed report of several hundred pages not only identified the exact units of Russian military intelligence that carried out the pro-Trump cyber-attack, but even issued indictments for specific individuals who directed it. In his frenzied fight for legitimacy, Devious Donald has gone to absurd lengths to explain his dramatic trouncing in the popular election – even making insane claims that “millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary.”

Yet in three years, with all of the investigative powers of the American government, Trump has produced no evidence for his fantastic claim. His deranged lies were not confined to this travesty; Don tha Con continues to insist that his inauguration was the most largely attended in American history; even dismissing the photographic evidence provided by the US Parks Service clearly showing that the crowds at President Barack Obama’s inaugural were far larger! It was these claims, along with Trump’s grandiose declarations that “Only I can solve the nations problems” – a claim often made by deluded autocrats like the 20th century Fascists Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler – that sounded the alarm for mental health professionals.

Alas the symptoms of their diagnosis – Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia – are clearly evident in Trump’s letter to the Speaker of the house. Grandiose delusions of self-importance; conflating the interest and destiny of the nation with his own; fact free revisionist history that support his claims of victimhood; inability to express contrition; compulsive lying to get his way; lack of empathy; hysterical feelings of paranoia; are everywhere on display in Trump’s twisted missive to the Speaker.

They are so pervasive we can clearly identify several of these pathologies in the opening passage. The pathological lying; dangerous denial of reality; paranoid sense of victimhood; lack of contrition; are prominently displayed. Yet this is the high point of the diatribe…it goes down hill from here:

“I write to express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history. The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”

From the most casual reading of this tempestuous tirade two things are obvious: it is far to literate and thoughtful to have been composed by Donnie Dimwit so it was cobbled together by a committee subject to his approval. And it was written as a propaganda screed designed to becloud the real issues and create mass confusion; a smokescreen allowing the Senate to just let Trump walk away in a fog of legal Mumbo Jumbo. There is no other rational explanation for making this putrid letter public.

Banking on their ignorance, anger and irrational cult like devotion to Dirty Donald, the Republicans think they can sell their base any kind of bogus tawdry tale. Furthermore, if one does not have an understanding of what the Constitution mandates, much of the legal polemics sound like unfathomable babble. Unable to distinguish constitutional fact from fiction, they seek refuge in their tribe. The strategy of Devious Donald’s letter mirrors his approach to politics in general; an approach which prizes the “Big Lie” axiom of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

************

“To attract people, to win over people to that which I have realised as being true, that is called propaganda…Success is the important thing. Propaganda…is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right…We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths. Those are found in other circumstances…”

One need not be a great thinker in order to recognize the themes laid out by Dr. Goebbels to win the allegiance of the untutored mob, prominently displayed in the in the strategy and political practice of Dirty Donald and the timid automatons in the GOP. All Republican elected officials are terrified of the control Don Tha Con exercises over the “low information” white voters that make up the “Republican Base,” whom he can inflame against them whenever they fail to rigidly adhere to the Trumpist line; no matter if his whacky pronouncements bear any resemblance to objective reality or not.

Like those who flocked to Hitler, Trump’s most passionate acolytes are disillusioned white workers, many of whom are evangelical protestants. Powerless and economically insecure, panicked over the erosion of their “white privilege,” they are convinced that their problems are caused by immigrants, non-whites, traditional elites, and non-Christian elements in the population. And these sordid sad sacks, these pitiful plebes, haven’t a clue that they are being played; that they are the storm troopers advancing the interests of the most reactionary anti-worker faction of the plutocrats!

Hence in their eyes the liberal intellectual elite, Hispanics, black folks; Muslims, Jews, homosexuals etc – their objective allies – are viewed as the enemy. That’s why blatant White Nationalism and the illusion of a return to a golden age – a delusion of grandeur common to all nationalist movements – is so effective in winning them over. To be effective all mass movements must have a power packed slogan that mirrors the hopes and dreams of the disillusioned masses and moves them to action. Trump achieves this with “MAGA: Make America Great Again!” This slogan is so broad and all embracing it can be invested with specific content that make it mean whatever the hysterical Trumpanzees who pack his rallies are told it means.

A fundamental part of Trump’s approach to truth is to quickly accuse his adversaries of the crimes he are guilty of! And sadly, listening to the impeachment debate, it seems as if the GOP – Grand Obstructionist Party – has whole heartedly adopted this Trump-Goebbles strategy of persistently obfuscating truth with blatant lies. This is why the Trump presidency is called a “post fact period,” an attempt to destroy the belief in “objective truth” for millions of Americans; a standard practice of all authoritarian dictators and wannabe autocrats.

From the outset we can see that obfuscation of objective truth is the paramount objective of this poison pen diatribe, which Dumb Donald believes is a grand historical document of state. It is as if Dirty Donald and his co-conspirators in the Grand Obstructionists Party are referencing Dr. Goebbel’s dogma the way Catholics adhere to the pronouncements of the pope! And Devious Donald’s putrid, paranoid, self-aggrandizing tirade, posing as a historical pronouncement worthy of a great statesman, is compelling evidence that that suspicion is the truth of the matter.

*************

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

1/7/20

Impeach Treacherous Treasonous Trump Now!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2019 by playthell
Devious Donald ” The Moscow Candidate” and his Handler

Kick Dirty Donald’s Corrupt Cakes to the Curb!

Like the wise seasoned political pro and master strategist that she is, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has orchestrated the impeachment process to remove Dastardly Don from office like a grand Maestro conducting a complex symphony of many movements. Politically astute voters and pundits committed to preserving constitutional democracy in America, this writer prominently among them, have been calling for Dirty Donnie’s impeachment for a while now. We thought it was time to kick him to the curb when he repeatedly violated his oath to “defend the Constitution,” and enforce the laws of the land.

Devious Donald’s cavaleir disregard for law and established custom, when he began violating the Emoluments clause prohibiting US presidents from accepting payments from foreign governments through his various businesses; refusing to take measures to defend the US electoral system against Russian cyber attacks; obstructing justice by firing Jim Comey, and using his bully pulpit to repeatedly attack the American press as “Enemies of the people” for carrying out their constitutionally mandated duty to serve as the people’s watch dog over those we elect to positions of power.

Thomas Jefferson, arguably the most thoughtful of the Founding Fathers, warned that “a democracy cannot work with an ignorant electorate.”  Hence he viewed creating an informed citizenry to be at the heart of their project of building a functional constitutional republic of self-governing people that could stand the test of time.  Tis belief no doubt inspired Jefferson’s declaration that, if given a choice between “a free press and no government, or a government and no free press,” He would choose “A free press and no government!”    Nothing so dramatically exposes how far Dirty Donald has wandered from the spirit of governance envisioned by the architects of the American Republic as his assault on our free press.

These are times that conjure up Benjamin Fraknlin’s statement upon the drafting of the US Constitution in Philadelphia, his home town, in the hot dog’s days of August 1787: “Gentleman you have got yourselves a republic…if you can keep it.” Trump’s scurrilous and unconstitutional attack against our free press – a fundamental pillar of American democracy would have been odious in any case, but to call them enemies while repeatedly praising Vladimir Putin, whom all 17 US intelligence agencies say ordered the subversion of our election to help Dirty Don tha Con become president, is treasonous!

And Trump has been openly accused of Treason by former Governor Weld, and the other pretenders to the Republican presidency.  The simple fact that the heads of US intelligence agencies all say that they have never been tasked with either developing an assessment of the extent to which Russian interference determined the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, nor to develop a plan to counteract such Russian interference in the future, provides ample grounds for the charge of treason.

It does not require a deep knowledge of US Constitutional law to recognize treason when we see it. Treason is clearly defined in the Constitution as “giving aid and comfort to an enemy with whom the nation is at war.” All one need understand is the President is first and foremost our Commander-In-Chief, entrusted with the responsibility of defending this nation against foreign enemies, and Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States has failed to do this. The only possible refutation to the verdict of treason is to argue that Cyber-Warfare is not really war.

I would argue that such a position is the acme of absurdities! Cyber-warfare is an extension of the technological arsenal in the war making arsenal of nations.  And it is no exaggeration to say that Cyber-attacks are rapidly becoming the most powerful of our weapons; given the diverse capabilities to inflict harm on the enemy it provides. Alas, cyber-warfare can not only subvert elections, it can jam communications systems, bring down electrical grids, freeze banking functions, and threatens to break into nuclear weapons system and fire the nuclear nuclear weapons of another nation.

Indeed, Cyber-Warfare is not only real war, it is rapidly becoming the most dangerous form of war! And Devious Donald, our commander-In-Chief, has not only refused to defend the nation against Russian Cyber-War attack, but continues to deny that it even happened despite mountains of detailed evidence presented in the Mueller report, and has not only defended Putin, even publicly taking his word over his own intelligence agencies, but has met with him in private for over an hour with no American observers present in Oslo, and told Russian diplomats in the Oval Office after firing FBI Director Jame Comey, who was the chief investigator into the Russian affair, that their intrusion into our election was no biggie because the US does it too!

Despite the fact that Treasonous Trump’s statement was true: It is not the business of American president’s to give aid and comfort to an enemy who gas committed and act of war against the nation he is sworn to defend!  This Scurrilous act is part of the reason why Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House of Representatives – upon whose shoulders the Constitution places the awesome weight of removing a duly elected American President from office – finally ordered the commencement of a formal impeachment inquiry.

The Speaker’s caution had begun to seem  like inexplicbale foot dragging to those of us who feel the case for impeaching Don tha Con had long been made.   The Specame around to empowering six committees in the House to conduct investigations to provide evidence for drafting Articles of Impeachment. Although she has been slow getting there – albeit wisely proceeding with caution – it is better LATE THAN NEVER!

Nancy Pelosi: Speaker of the House

Argueably the Most Effective Speaker Ever

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Witness Nancy Pelosi’s Evolution on the Impeachment Issue

 

ABC News Coverage of Speaker Pelosi’s Announcement of
Impeachment Inquiry

 

Nancy Pelosi: “Barr Has Gone Rogue!”

See CNN

 

Republican Presidential Challengers:

ACCUSE TRUMP OF TREASON!

 

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

9/29/ 2019