The Sad Tale of Iceberg Slim

I just finished listening to the CD version of “The Naked Soul of Iceberg┬áSlim.” Robert was a complicated person, raised in poverty, estranged from his mother due to some problem with a step-father, lacking in education, yet gifted.

After many years of being a pimp, he finally had enough of the prison life which came with it, and went straight. He said he was glad when he was able to stop exploiting and brutalizing black women.

Then Robert was exploited himself, by the publishing industry. Despite writing several books with sales above two million, he died penniless in 1992, at the age of 73. I haven’t seen his contracts, but he must have given up most of his rights, including the co-publishing royalties.

Publishers took his money, but they could not take his lasting fame. His writing is riveting. “Naked Soul” includes some political rants, but his street stories continue to be his best writing.

R.I.P, Iceberg Slim.

Disappointment City

I am disappointed that Don John has taken the first opportunity to bomb foreign targets, with little justification. I┬ádon’t believe he cares about anyone’s babies.

Using 21,000 pounds of explosives to kill 36 humans seems to be wasteful, as well. Maybe they just wanted to use it, since it was only tested before.

The whole world is watching.

Update: Baldwin Letters

The Baldwin Letters (described as 70,000 pages) have been donated to the Schomberg Center of the New York Public Library. I was interested to see Baldwin’s handwriting, neat and tidy. Some of the letters will not be available to the public for 20 years, most likely due to references to persons who are still living.

Bon appetit!

Beale Street Talkin’

Be sure to see “I am Not Your Negro”, the new Baldwin documentary by Raoul Peck. The film concentrates on Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and Dr. King, three men who meant a lot to James. It is so sad that we now have the “toddler President” who plays into the white fear of non-white rebellion, immigrant takeover, and general lack of social control. The old white world depended on the repression, oppression, and exploitation of others, who were supposed to stay quiet and suffer in silence. It wasn’t good for our nation back then, and now it is simply impossible.

Social Music

I was in a parking lot recently, waiting in a long line of cars. I had music blasting out the window, which is what I do in traffic jams. Much to my surprise, a young black girl wearing cat-eye shades started looking at me with solemn intensity. Her mother pulled her arm but she turned around and stared at me some more. I knew it wasn’t my 2003 Ford she was looking at – it was the sound she wanted, “Tribute to Jack Johnson,” by Miles Davis.

Art has the capacity to reach out far beyond its own borders, far past 1970, far past New York City, far past the musician who composed it or played it. No amount of politics can kill the appeal of Art. Art is a necessity. As we go forward into the uncertain future, remember we can all develop our ability to appreciate Art.