Category Archives: vulnerability

Juxtaposition: Fiona Apple and Dave Chappelle walk off the stage

Artifact One: Fiona Apple at a Tokyo fashion event.

Apple grew frustrated with the ongoing chatter in the venue, a hall at Tokyo Station Hotel, where the exhibition makes its home. Partway through her short set, she climbed on top of her grand piano and asked the audience to be quiet so that she could perform. She then challenged everyone to be silent for the duration of a tone she created by striking a small metal bell. The performer grew even more angry when the noise in the venue continued.

Apple instructed the audience to “shut the f–k up” and uttered other expletives, both audibly and under her breath, calling the event’s attendees “rude.” She continued with her set before shouting, “Predictable! Predictable fashion, what the f–k?” as she stormed off the stage. The show was punctuated with other bizarre moments, such as when she hit her head with her microphone, did a back bend over her piano bench and stared intensely at her guitarist as if in a love-struck trance.

via Louis Vuitton Toasts ‘Timeless Muses’ in Tokyo – Parties – Eye – WWD.com.

Artifact 2: Dave Chappelle walking off the stage at a Connecticut comedy club.

Chappelle wasn’t having a meltdown. This was a Black artist shrugging the weight of White consumption, deciding when enough was enough. This isn’t the first time Chappelle has done so and it isn’t the first time his behavior has been characterized as a meltdown.

There is a long history of asking African-Americans to endure racism silently; it’s characterized as grace, as strength. Chappelle’s Connecticut audience, made up of largely young White males, demanded a shuck and jive. Men who seemed to have missed the fine satire of the Chappelle show demanded he do characters who, out of the context of the show look more like more racist tropes, than mockery of America’s belief in them.

When he expressed shock at the fact that he’d sat there and been yelled at for so long, people yelled that they’d paid him. They felt paying for a show meant they could verbally harass him, direct him in any tone of voice, as though they’d bought him.

via Dave Chappelle Didn’t Melt Down – Entertainment & Culture – EBONY.

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Filed under art, fashion, juxtaposition, media, protest, race, representation, resistance, vulnerability

Martin Luther King improvising

I heard a nice tribute to Martin Luther King Junior and his speech at the March on Washington on the radio this morning.  Another version of this showed up in my RSS feed thanks to the fantastic “Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet” on Feministing.

Apparently, the essential chorus of “I have a dream” was a semi-improvisation for King.  It was a response to Mahalia Jackson.

As King neared the end, he came to a sentence that wasn’t quite right. He had planned to introduce his conclusion with a call to “go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction.” He skipped that, read a few more lines, and then improvised: “Go back to Mississippi; go back to Alabama; go back to South Carolina; go back to Georgia; go back to Louisiana; go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.”

Nearby, off to one side, Mahalia Jackson shouted: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” King looked out over the crowd. As he later explained in an interview, “all of a sudden this thing came to me that I have used — I’d used many times before, that thing about ‘I have a dream’ — and I just felt that I wanted to use it here.” He said, “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” And he was off, delivering some of the most beloved lines in American history, a speech that he never intended to give and that some of the other civil rights leaders believed no one but the marchers would ever remember.

via Mahalia Jackson, and King’s Improvisation – NYTimes.com.

Don’t sleep on the impact of the solid gospel choices of Mahalia Jackson in motivating a political crowd.  Remember that music is key for every liberation movement I can think of.

She sang two spirituals, “I Been ’Buked and I Been Scorned” and “How I Got Over.” King was seated nearby, clapping his hands on his knees and calling out to her as she sang. Roger Mudd, covering the event for CBS News, said after the first song: “Mahalia Jackson. And all the speeches in the world couldn’t have brought the response that just came from the hymns she sang. Miss Mahalia Jackson.”

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I hope you have some remaining monthly New York Times tokens!  Or else you won’t be able to follow the link I’ve recommended to read the whole article.  Pretty short-sighted New York Times.  #newyorktimeshatesfreeinformation

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Filed under art, communication, memorial, music, protest, race, vulnerability

Killer Mike exposed

Killer Mike is a grown up hip hop artist, thinking about serious stuff.  He and El-P ran through the Combat Jack show and came off with this nice little exchange. 

1. Notice the fundamentals, Dallas Penn sets this off.  I don’t love his consumerist Polo identity, but there is no discounting how smart and insightful that guy really is.  If you aren’t reading and donating to Dallas Penn’s web site, you aren’t living right.

2. Good interviewers.  Ask the question and get out of the way.  Combat Jack is serious, Dallas Penn is serious.  That means listening when ideas are flowing.

3. How about two grown men getting honest with each other?  El-P telling Killer Mike he is just starting his career.  Killer Mike talking about having to expose parts of his vulnerabilities and fears to work with El.

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Updated a few days later . . . May 9, 2013.  Part 3 is out.

El-P, Killer Mike, Combat Jack, and Dallas Penn.  The third clip is a conversation about race.  Nice discussion.

1. For those educators out there looking for an example of a “race pass” check out Dallas Penn saying to El-P: “I don’t call you a white rapper.”

Absolutely on point, El-P rejects the offer of the card.  “I’m a white guy, I rap. There’s no question about it.” Just because you are cool doesn’t mean that you don’t have privilege.  And leave it to Killer Mike to remind us of that.  When asked about white-identified rap fans Killer Mike responds:

“I’m not saying their experience isn’t worthy, I’m not saying it isn’t valuable. I’m saying it’s not special.  Because every human being experiences love and pain and let down.  Your thing is no more special.  And a lot of times, as Americans, and in this country, we feel like our suffering makes us special. You are special because you are a human being.”  – Killer Mike

3.  This argument is a dumb prompt from Combat Jack.  I think it might be a kind of policing — because of Killer Mike’s reference in segment one to his increasing vulnerability.   I appreciate all the examples of great black emcees who recorded some vulnerable verses that are quickly volunteered by the panelists.

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Filed under art, hip hop, media, music, vulnerability