Blues With Half a Past

Imagine writing about American music but somehow avoiding mention of the blues. Imagine writing about Lincoln and the Civil War somehow without mentioning slavery. The movie Black Snake Moan loves and knows the blues, loves and knows females …

Black Snake Moan, Ricci

Christina Ricci

and males too, and Memphis, and guitar styles …

Black Snake Moan, Ricci

Christina Ricci
acting a dirty girl in pristine panties

… but somehow divorces it all from history, from our knowledge of lynchings, of black men living in terror of white women, and their white men; of the rocky slope black music had to climb in order to be known and loved by white people in Memphis, and New York.

The persecutions practiced against me and my jazz friends (and many many others) in the 1950s is not communicable to our beneficiaries: they hear the blues and can’t even imagine the bullying. We live in a culture where facts are not facts until and unless they are voted as facts. Our history is a self-administered anodyne fiction.

All I’ll talk about to start though is Christina Ricci. I’ve liked her since I first saw her, but now I really love her. And perversely I kind of love the perverse racial selectivity of Black Snake Moan.

Porn has saturated the world in the past few decades. It doesn’t though spam my mailbox these days the way it used to. Still, it’s astonishing to see Chistina Ricci acting natural before the cameras in her little white panties. It’s similarly astonishing to see the movie makers showing her beat to hell and gone, battered, bruised, scratched, blooded, dirty wet leaves stuck to her bare boobs, the girl wearing nothing (besides those panties) at one point but football shoulder pads, yet we never spot the tiniest bit of crotch stain in those panties, we absolutely never get a whiff of anything untoward from the other hole, those panties are pristine. She got her teeth rattled, but she never wet farted.
(And we get not one hint of reaction to her crotch from the “black” population! Nothing for Whitie to run and get a rope about!)

Black Snake Moan, the song, was composed by Blind Lemon. Blind Lemon wasn’t always blind, imagine him when he could see. Imagine him in his prime, when he travelled with Leadbelly, but could see: imagine Blind Lemon seeing this movie.
Like war, with all blood, but no guts; or all guts, but no blood.

2013 01 22 Watched part of Footloose on DVD, was reminded of Black Snake Moan and of much of the above. Apparently a remake, this 2011 movie stars a white kid born in Massachussets playing a Gulf coast high schooler, complete with shanty, car wreck to work on, redneck friends, Puritanical school administration. We see him posed in his shed, blue jeans, cool … What’s the background music? Muddy Waters! Mississippi Delta blues! History, culture, ethnicity … we just make it up! Just take whatever we want.

Go back to 1955, just try playing Muddy Waters to some random Alabama white kid.

2013 02 12 I had similar thoughts, a milder case of them, introducing Spanglish to Jan. (I love that movie, and so now does she.) I particularly love the mother-in-law played by Cloris Leachman: supposedly an alchy once-upon-a-time torch singer who never kept her legs crossed. The old broad demonstrates a measure or two of Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life to her grandkids. Now, that is one of the immortal songs, an indelible example of what Billy Stayhorn added to the already brilliant Duke Ellington: the syncopation precise and equisite, the harmony far out: things blacks were teaching to whites; not the other way around.

The Cloris Leachman character says that her rendition sold 60,000 copies. “Not bad for a jazz album.” Damn right.
But in this fiction it’s a white woman who popularized it? No, no, no. It was popular as played by Duke!
This is history Hollywood revisions of which should be punished.
By God, of course, not by the state: certainly not by the United States.

Note, citing wikipedia: Kay “Davis and Billy Strayhorn gave the first performance of Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” on November 13, 1948 at Carnegie Hall—even though the song had been written in the 1930s.” Google Kay Davis.

It’s ironic for me to be exposing kleptocratic practices in Spanglish, a wonderful movie, in general highly sensitive to cultural, ethnic differences, difficulties, non-uniformities. The scene where the Mexican maid’s daughter translates her tirade into English for her boss in real time is priceless.

He Wore His Beaver Down (Shaekspeare)
Beaver shots are always startling. Males aren’t the only ones who notice when a bit of crotch might show. But Ricci here really puts her crotch yawning into our eye. No accident you know its scripted, storyboarded that way. 2016 05 28 Jan and I watched Mommy Dearest last evening. There’s a scene where Joan Crawford supposedly tries to strangle her adopted Christine. Doncha know the camera focuses on Christina’s yawn, doesn’t waver. Gasp.

Sleepy Hollow Depp
2016 10 10 I sure do love Christina Ricci: but yesterday she just came along free for the ride: I was watching Johnny Depp, and was therefore likely also to be watching Tim Burton, and therefore, don’cha know’it, got a whole bunch of good cast members. Christina uses her boobs to effect, and so does Miranda Richardson. Nice.



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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