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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Imagine That

Here we are nearly a month removed from our historic Presidential election and for many of us, the fact we have a Black President-Elect is just starting to settle in.

No one was more shocked and amazed by Obama's victory than Black people and, of course, racists.

Actually the idea was more appalling to the racists than shocking because whether they choose to admit or not they also knew Obama was the better choice.

Perhaps we will see a spike in highblood pressure from outraged white people unable to vent their seething frustration in a healthy way. People mad for no reason.

I wonder how many didn't vote?

I also wonder how many people who, in public denounced Obama, gave him their vote?

But Black people and racists agree on one thing, we never saw it coming and up until the last second many of us believed something would happen to stop it.

Like the racists we have accepted the standard. We have lived with an imaginary barrier all of our lives.

Those of us over thirty at least.

You see, we had an imaginary barrier enforced by all the television and news reports you could digest. A barrier constructed and held up by black and white people. A barrier made up of accepted stereotypes and prescripted outcomes.

We all played our role.

The elder generations of blacks ( African American if you care) seeking evidence of the lingering American Social Disease...racism.
The elder generations of whites denying it's very existence.

Those under 30?
The new generation...recreating the paradigm.
I have said this before (after a few drinks) and you hear it here for the first time:
"Will Smith helped elect Obama more than anyone else"
More than the pundits, Hillary's flubs and even more than McCain's age and The Republican Party's agenda of death.

Because despite all of those things many people would still have bought what was being sold(Ronald Reagan) if they were being spoonfed the same Fantasy Island crap as we were during the eighties.

Will Smith ushered in a new understanding of the enigmatic 'Black Man'. But he did not start there. I can piece together enough from my vivid memories of his introduction to the American mainstream that will more than support my theory.

You see, I believe imagery, especially the background noise of television and radio, profoundly affect our present views on what is real, socially digestible and relevant to our lives.

The first films that hit the bigscreen helped people imagine. The imagination took a backseat to reality in those days. It took days-weeks-years for a thought to travel the globe. Nowadays I feel it is the other way around. That is, reality takes a backseat to imagination.

Imagination has always fueled the world, insured progress.

Now more than ever.

Who can forget when Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince debuted with the stellar Platinum hit "Parents Just Don't Understand"?

Probably the first rap album who's sales were fueled by white parents buying it for their kids.

The crossover appeal of the Black Middle class had already struck gold with the Cosby Show but Smith and his positive raps were a whole different phenomenon.

He appealed to several demographics at once , he enjoyed a broader audience than Cosby from the outset.

The marketing gurus at NBC were salivating after they signed him up for the seminal early nineties sitcom 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air".

At a time when the young black male was statistical anathema to all things decent, Will Smith was the answer.

And he continued to provide answers.

He built, through his choice of roles, the most positive body of work regarding the Black Man's image in the history of American Entertainment. Only Paul Robeson had dared and demanded to be portrayed as the Alpha Male despite the hostile climate he lived in. Obviously his career was compromised as a result of that and, of course, his poltical views.

But Smith is a different story, the promises of equality gained through civil rights made it possible for black people to participate in our huge entetainment industry with less scrutiny than before. We snuck in with shows like Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Jefferson's and That's My Momma ( I cannot help it, I am chuckling just typing this).

A new era for T.V., white people were actually allowed to laugh at us and, (can you believe it?) with us.

But it was time to get real and we were feeling it, we started to complain about realistic portrayals. People started to wonder why we always 'carry the knife' or 'play the pimp'.

The brief Richard Pryor Show was a potent tonic for all that ailed us but it would only survive four episodes before the sponsors pulled out.

You thought Chappelle was funny ...shiiiiit- no doubt he watched it too.

Back to our portrayals-We would always talk about this amongst ourselves.

Will was the answer.

Yeah he clowned his way into the mainstream but once he got there he held our attention.

He took the risky role of a gay conman in Six Degrees of Seperation. That role effectively took all of the Gangsta (that is associated with rappers) out of Smith.
All the while he nurtured and maintained his relevancy within the black community and the world of hip-hop.

He continued to act, choosing motuon pictures as his new vehicle of artistic expression.

What followed was flurry of Block Busters starting with Independence Day. He was such a good actor he took the hoochie out of Vivica Fox, he made Martin Lawrence a leading man.

The recent blockbusters have only added to his (I am) Legend.

A subtle commercial for The Capable Black Man. Played for two hours for all of our kids to see.

The Last One - (John)Hancock was released with scientific precision.

During the home stretch, a subliminal buffer for all the senseless negativity that floated around the ethers.
Remember Hancock's scullcap?
A Bald Eagle

Like I said only older black folks and racist worried about the outcome of the election.

To everyone else, it made perfect sense.

Friday, November 14, 2008

McCain Wins around here.

In Utica New York people live in a bubble. A tightknit, well preserved, bubble of developmental retardation. It effects everything from the Arts, Food and the Economy. It is a provincial attitude of exclusivity that has effectively shut the door on progress.

The fact McCain carried Oneida and Herkimer counties speaks for itself.

I know a local cop.

He's black (one of nine black officers out of nearly 200).

There is currently a pool at the station for how long Obama can survive.

A complete stranger ( white male) walked up to him and said : "you people got all the power now".
A complete stranger.

I guess we will know for sure when the arrest rate goes down. When we are not the only people on death row.

I guess we will know when there are more of our young men in College than prison.

I know we will have power, not to be confused with arrogance, when the imagery of a Black man in the most important job in the world settles in with our young boys and girls.
Black and White.
When they can secretly say to themselves two simple words: 'I Can'

Perplexing concept right?

Black President. Where are all the psychics now? No one in the world even thought it was possible, except me and Obama.

I'll admit I did not get on the bandwagon until he announced his run in 07'.

During that time even the black pundits scrutinized him. In his hometown , Chicago, Mary Mitchell from The Sun Times put him to the 'blackness test'.

But what possessed that guy to come up to complete stranger and blurt out his misguided opinion. My officer buddy was on his second sip of coffee of the day and was so offguard all he could muster was: "Power? shiiiiiit I want some damn money".

There will be a white backlash. All one needs to do is listen to the conservative pulse and you will hear hate, fear and frustration.

Ancient hate for anything not the same as them.

Fear of Black Men.

Frustration with the current scam being pulled on them by the very people they elected and currently support.
A backlash carried out by staunch, pragmatic racists. People who understand how little Obama can do about daily indiscretions people do not even know they fall victim to.
Dirty stuff like" "Oh, we don't have any applications and we are not hiring anyway".
You ask to speak to the manager and explain how you saw the ad in the paper. He explains "Oh yeah that ad...a simple mistake, we already filled that position".
You go out on a limb and explain that you were instructed over the phone (where anyone can be white with enough practice) to come down and : "fill out and apply". Things get awkward and you realize you would not want to work where you are not welcome anyway.
Obama was symbolic and a tonic for our Global reputation but it will take years to...
Because they (racists) know how little Obama can do about the coded language and subtle slights that are a part of everyone's life. Because some of our local elected Democrats admitted in private they did not think America was ready for a Black President.

It needs to be said again: in places like this, Utica, even Democrats voted for McCain.
A kneejerk reaction to the preposterous idea of a Black man in charge.

One of the kids that regularly attends the community center I work at was kicked out of class and suspended for singing a popular new variation of a rap song that includes the chant : OBAMA-OBAMA-OBAMA. He didn't get kicked out during class but while entering the class.

It was homeroom.
It was already bad enough around here.

White people have enjoyed a sense of entitlement for a long time. Here, in Utica/Rome and everywhere else in America, except the deepest of Black communities. Most do not carry around their privilege card. They move about the world with compassion and respect- even kindness.

But a few are scared. A few believe they are losing something. A few believe the welfare gates are going to be flung wide open and black folks are going to get reparations for slavery and years of disenfranchisement.

To a few this is a nightmare.

They do not take into account the big business welfare policies we have adopted in place of social welfare. They fail to realize that many of them them fall into the very demographic that will benefit from Obama's proposed tax plan.

Another friend told me he was talking to an ex-girlfriend (white ex) regarding the election. This wise Rochester resident shared her fear that: "now you guys are going to start acting know... like you got power." He stared at the phone like it bit him.

Personally, I won't be happy until I get the simple and humble benefit of the doubt. I won't be happy until people stop making uneducated assumptions about me or anyone who looks like me. I won't be happy until I do not intimidate strangers by my mere presence.

I won't be happy until the generation that overwhelmingly supported Obama (20-30 yr olds); the generation that I have accused of being 'dumbed down' and unenlightened, is in charge.

They also know cars can run on water and ethanol is impractical- stupid.
Hurry up guys- get involved.
This is your world now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ready Set...Repeat

I am reposting this piece sans some time sensitive language, it was written right before Christmas of 07'.
I am nopt strokiong myself but i must admit i haVE BEEN a bit of a prophet

I live in fanatical netherworld of Patriotic fervor barely contained by high taxes and a bad economy. I guess the subpar living conditions provide just enough of a distraction for people to go home after work instead of joining a militia.
That is what irks me.Underlying all the Patriotism is a naivete a complete gullability.

People trust the Government.The modern American man has forgotten why we had all these checks and balances built in to our government in the first place.

Our founding fathers simply created a structure that would require magical conspiratorial powers to pull off any bullshit on the American People at least for any prolonged period.

Just like the evolution of the urban rat sometimes you have to build a better trap .
Which leads us to our current State Of The Union.
The Government we trust so much would love to wish you a happy election.
May you create a debt so large you work every day of your life to recreate this experience ONCE a year.
May your property value tumble and your mortgage foreclose.
We will be there to help you pick up the pieces, maybe.
Especially at this time of year.
May you prepare for continued, neverending war. Invest in 'our' economy, it is a violent hedgefund.
Most of all, tell your kids to tune in........

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yes We Can...Can't we?

It is getting down to the wire.

One week to go.

As I write this I am listening to John McCain.

He is a fighter.
He's an innovator.
He's elderly(experienced).

He has the scars to prove it.

Lets face it America. We are at a crossroads. We are at the precipice of decline or growth. Our current financial 'crisis' is a manufactured hedgefund on future depression (Big Oil).

I know it is complicated and hard to understand. But each of us should ask why we do not prepare now for an inevitable scarcity of the worlds most precious commodity.
Because...thats why.
Each of us should ask why our Government is not at the forefront of this inevitable transformation.
Just Because...thats why.
If you do the math you will find out who owns the Oil futures. Who bought thousands of barrels in advance at extrememly low rates ($50 or less per barrel). Playing poker with consumers savings and seeing just how much they can squeeze before growth is halted in every sector of our economy. Including stupid, oil (petroleum) addicted Wall Street.
But what about the Bailout? (crack for crackheads thats what)

It is no accident gas prices have fallen a week before the election. The fact is they were off by a couple of weeks.

A lot of things need to happen in order for prices to fall. The ripple of these actions take weeks to show up at the pump.There are so many variables. Like I said, they stopped shaking us down a little too late to help McCain. At least I hope so.

The rich have never been richer.
But this election is about morale, survival, unity and of course, change.
The thick rhetoric is neccessary. There is soo much underlying bullshit in regards to race in America that there are TWO conversations going at once at all times ( BrownYellowBlack and The White Conversation). The broad sweeping language consolidates the sentiments of everyone.
But there are a lot of people who are afraid of Black Men. People who would not let a Black doctor work on them. People who think all mexicans are here illegally. People who just don't trust 'the blacks'.

Like I wrote before "there is equal and ample space at the bottom for Black and
White people".

I think most of us get it.

I think most of us would let the black nuero surgeon save us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Update from...

It is good to be back, but alas, my visit is brief. Dancy's Corner is going to the airwaves, in fact it already has.
If you have any interest at all, tune into WHCL 88.7 on Saturdays 4-6 p.m.
So far it is a blast. There is no telling how long they will allow me to stay on the air but I am going to make the most of it.
I am talking no holds barred shit sans the profanity.
My favorite subject?

Update from....

O.K. it has beem awhile. For that, I am sorry. I wish I could write everyday, navigate the ethers with reckless irresponsibility, but like most of us, I can't.

I am limited by time and lack of reliable technology.

The last few months dealing with extortionist (computer techs), trying to get my computer online has been an incredible hassle.

I think I might go Apple, join the Mac crowd. I am soo sick of invasive programs sucking the life out of my online experience (research). I would rather not get online.

Message to Gates and M-Soft. If you do not change your ways and create some real security, your market dominance will slowly diminish until you are AT&T.

Obviously I have a lot on my mind. A lot to share and little time to share it. As I write this Barry Max, home from daycare, is rolling on the floor, a classic example of pre-nap protocol. He is trying to stay awake which means I will be included in whatever his next distraction may be.
He just tossed a shoe.

I have very little time...tune in to WHCL 88.7 F.M. on Saturdays from 4-6 est. The Show is Dancy's Corner you can stream it online as well.

I cannot wait to hear from you all ( all 10 of ya').

Thursday, August 14, 2008

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It's Free

My editor has not bought this piece yet so I decided to give it a proper public burial. I enjoyed doing the research and meeting all those involved. especially Leighann Lord

A real treat.

As we navigate through this existence, growing older everyday, it is a blessing to be able to draw from great experiences and share them with total strangers. In this case, I was able to make a third party connection with Lord who performed with another comic that I knew rather well (Godfrey) in Chicago during the 90's.

They performed together recently.

It was refreshing that Godfrey (7up guy) remembered me when I asked her to say hello. He should have because I saw him in person at Hamilton College in 06'.

"Dave is that you? What the fuck are you doing here"?

The last time Godfrey saw me was during the mid nineties at All jokes Aside in Chicago. We hung quite bit, but I never managed to smoke a blunt with him.

Before All jokes I knew him from kickin the hacky-sack at Oak St. beach on Chicago's Gold Coast. At the time I did not know he was a comic but I loved his dead on impression of Marv Albert- Yessss! Plus , we were the only brothas who regularly joined the circle.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot he used to peruse Columbia College campus as well. I was a student so our universes were always colliding.

Life is weird but it is obvious I am in a cool circle of the Universe.

But I have to ask myself. How do I know all these people and still be broke?

Leighann Lord has been doing standup for sixteen years. On July 30th she performed at The Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona as part of their popular Wednesday night Comedy series.

Comedy at the casino is good a experiment, a proven experiment. The mid-week show regularly attracts local fans of stand-up and simultaneusly attracts a welcome rest for visiting gamblers.

The nightclub atmosphere that The Turning Stone provides is authentic.

Everyone knows that comedy and casinos go together like peanut butter and jelly. Winners and losers enjoy a good joke. After all, what better way to get over losing the mortgage payment than a few laughs.

The July 30th card featured local host Dave Goldstein who performed M.C., duties for New York City based headliner Jim Medrinos and opening act Leighann Lord.

I am strategically posing next to Leighann, quit would too.

The Life and Times of Utica was curious about Leighann (very curious) and the ambitous T-Stone venture into the comedy business. We caught up with The NYC based comic between shows.

For those who do not know : comics are always between shows.

L&T:"Did you find comedy early...plan on being a comic"?

Lord: "Well yeah, I graduated from college with a major in humor. For real? No. I had no concrete plans on being a comic. I am actually a graduate of Baruch College...I majored in journalism and creative writing and minored in theatre"

L&T: From theatre to stand-up?

Lord: Not exactly.

Throughout college Lord honed her acting skills in the drama department. "I did everthing under the sun...I originally stumbled into an audition and I got the part".

Her career did not exactly take off there. In fact, there was not even a hint that she would eventually make a living by telling jokes. But she loved it. "I was hooked on theatre , I got involved with every aspect of the drama department".

After talking with Lord, I felt a bit of the energy and irony that is a part of every comic's personality.

A structured, practical, forward thinking woman taking a confident 16 year leap of faith into the whirlwind that is stand-up.

L&T: You graduated. So what gives?

Lord: "After graduation I got a job in Corporate Communications...for who, it doesn't matter, but after a while, I was not seeing 'the job' in my future"

Lord decided to take a course on stand-up comedy.

L&T: How'd that work out"?

Lord: "The biggest challenge in stand-up is fear...don't get me wrong there are time honored techniques, but the main obstacle is fear, that was my first real lesson."

She also explained the grim prospects for all the people that took the course with her. "Hardly anyone makes it in this business by taking a class".

After she completed her class Lord staked out some of the finer comedy establishments in the NYC area. "I hung out in the Comic Strip for like a month before I finally got on stage".

Leighann described the feeling her first time on stage "I was terrified I got on stage and just talked. I don't even remember what I said I just remember laughter...lot's of laughter. March 31st 1992 I'll always remember the date but I'll never remember the jokes"

Good for her and good for us because Lord is funny enough to make a fulltime living doing what she loves, telling jokes. In the meantime she does commercials and guest appearances all over the airwaves.

Sixteen years later she is still at it and the hundred plus assembled in the T-Stone showroom had a bird's eye view of the action. The dim lights with a strong spotlight on the act. The stage, which looms large over a regular crowd, had a catwalk addition, bringing the weekly perfomers down to earth.

The cavernous venue was transformed to add an element of closeness. A true cosmopolitan atmosphere.Venues like the Showroom are where the 'comic' rubber meets the road. This is a place where comics can bomb. To make it tougher there is no alcohol.Which means cheap laughs are not available.

At the T-Stone, veterans need to bring their a-game or risk being forgotten...forever. Or even worse-laughed at, not with.

To get things started, Goldstein manned the mic like a seasoned pro, warming up each act with his timely delivery. His local flavor was apparent in his subject matter. "On an upstate rural route you can find everything that is NOT at Wal-Mart".

He effectively paced the crowd and handed the mic to Leighann.

The stage, the mic, a crowd and ready made jokes; Lord was in her element. Her warm reception was followed by warm anecdotal humor. Lord is a safe comic, she works around a minefield of perceptions with warm stories from her childhood. "Food clothes and shelter...sounds like jail".

Adorned with a nuanced earthly style, dreadlocked comic delivered her material into the glaring spotlight capturing a consistent smattering of laughs.

The prohibition of alcohol is a proven factor against any and all comics that want to avoid bombing. In other words, if you can make a dry crowd laugh you are either funny or lucky. Lucky for her there was the obligitory, 'bring your own alcohol' crowd and fans of comedy (like me) in the crowd that added merciful laughter to honor a joke that flew over the heads of most.

Leighann has cerebral jokes reserved for college grads and people who pay their bills. "I am approaching the age when cops are starting to look young". That joke brought laughter that rippled through the room like a wave, especially me (39 yrs 8/5/08).

Lord also expounded on the many ironies she has experienced as an adult. " you ever had a Freaky Friday moment? If you haven't, get your mom a cellphone" Her trip down the technological divide that has plagued the children of the elderly was hilarious. "When I got her phone my neice was texting her, she said 'Someone keeps sending me messages on my phone...the lord is talkin to me".

Next up was Jim Medrinos, another veteran from NYC. Medrinos immediately launched into his act. He was merciless.

About Utica: "I thought I stepped into the fifties when I came to downtown Utica. Do you guys still use steam or coal?

Overall the show was entetainig and worth the trip. If you like comedy check it out. Tell them the Life and Times of Utica sent you.

Oh yeah, now I know Medrinos and Goldstein..see ya down the road.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Irrera Part II

On Saturday June 14th 2008 Dom Irrera kept his promise and swooped in on The Turning Stone Resort and Casino to perform his rapid fire stand up act.

Irrera did not waste a second getting into his performance. From the moment he hit the stage it was one joke after another. His loaded delivery was reminiscent of greats like Rodney Dangerfield.

During one ten minute stretch he averaged an amazing ten jokes per minute, he crammed about one hundred jokes into ten minutes. People, including me,COO Ray Halbritter and everyone else were dizzy from laughter.

His subject matter was like a stream of consciousness, one subject leading into another all arriving at the same hilarious conclusion- a gut busting laugh.

Everyone was fair game. No race was off limits no age , no sexual orientation. He distributed his absurd and often practical observations equally across all demographic spectrums.

Irrera is the epitome of stand-up veteran the prototypical comic. His nuanced delivery kills everwhere he goes. If he does not like the response, if he isn't satisfied, he shifts gears falling back on his lounge comic act to get his propers.

Irrera is beyond bombing he can mess a joke up and still get laughs. He always starts with family, his Philadelphia roots serve as a foundation for his multi themed act. The cast of character include a homophobic cousin with homoerotic tendencies, a grandmother with a mouth that would make a sailor blush and many more.

The funniest is the overweight uncle who thinks every woman wants him and when he gets rejected...they're gay.

After the show I met him backstage the first thing he did was thank me for telling him there was no alcohol. "I had the limo driver stop to get these" he held up an ice cold La Batts.

Unfortunately it was the last beer.

Thanks Dom.

"You're the guy with the kid... from Ithaca right"? he asked. Dom was reffering to my son, Barry Max, who impressed Dom with his persistence taking every opportunity to intterupt me during my first telephone interview with him.

"That kid won't let he alright"?

"He's doing an imitation of Curly on The Three Stooges" I replied.

After the initial niceties we were treated to a tour of The Turning Stone Resort and Casino. Brigitte Calisti, talent co-ordinator for the Turning Stone would be our guide.

During the tour around the casino Irrera's off the cuff observations trumped many of the jokes he told on stage.

"How big is this place"? I asked "I don't know... ask Dr. Moe or Dr. Larry" he was reffering to two approaching food inspectors required to wear white lab of them was cross eyed.

Flanked by security and Brigitte we made our way around the horseshoe shaped casino eventually arriving at our final destination, Lava The Danceclub at Turning Stone.

Lava's oppulent, plush , red confines conjur images mirth and merriment. The twenty two thousand square foot club is well suited for the young, hip crowd that it attracts.

Our early arrival made it easy to take advantage of the available drinks for the members at the members only club we instantly joined.

Our conversation shifted to his craft " I like a quick paced show. I keep the jokes comin ...thats my style" he explained.

He also talked about his love of the lifestyle. "I love this , flying first class, the best wines, foods, five star hotels...actually Dave come to think of it maybe I can just freelance, I'd rather do what you do".

Dom enjoyed himself he enjoyed the trip. One of the revelers at Lava admitted Irrera is the only comic he likes other than George Carlin. "Jeez thats great just compared me to God" he said.
"I had a light crowd but that guy Ray asked me back" he said. "That was the COO" I informed. "The crowd was not light at fact, it was full of heavyweights".

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dom Irrera is a man of many words. A man who knows how to make a point. A busy veteran of stand-up comedy that most of us know but don't know we know.

"I don't know... I do a lot of talk shows" he said during a cross country telephone interview. I caught up to him after a tour in Ireland. Irrera performed at the Kilkenny Comedy Festival for the fourteenth year in a row.

"It was great I love Ireland...where did you say you where from".

We worked out the difference between Utica and Ithaca. I laughed, he learned.

Irrera is a busy man. A rare entertainment treat. The pure comedian. He is always on, peppering our conversation with rapid fire jokes and a hollywood 'insiders' knowledge. He has traveled all around the world, been on just about every talk show and has two television shows on air now.

"Back at the Barnyard is a cartoon, it's on saturday mornings. And the Supreme Court of Comedy is an exclusive Direct T.V. produced Show". Irrera also was a seminal character on Dr. Katz the original adult animated series.

His Hollywood credits read like a good fortune cookie or a chapter on King Midas. Just about every show he was on enjoyed phenomenal commercial success. Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld are among them. His popularity in the Hollywood inner circle is exemplified by his many talk show appearances.

He could easily have produced his own talkshow out of footage from his guest spots."I don't know why I do so many talk shows... the phone rings, if I'm not busy, who knows". So far he has done Letterman, Leno, The View,Oprah(2), Late Nite w/Conan O'Brien and The Late Show. Unlike many of his contemporaries he is usually not there to push a product or show. Actually he is modest.

"I love performing in front of people...but after an audience comes in to see me I don't feel comfortable pushing my latest DVD after they spent their money to see me perform" he explained.

You can thank his humble Philadelphia roots. His humility may be the only reason he is not a household name(you will recognize him). He is also credited with popularizing the now common, household term Bada-boom Bada bing'.

"Taking credit for that is like taking credit for 'what's up'...its just a common term in Italian households that got blown up because of the Sopranos".

The Philly native started out acting in Miami. "I was part of an improv group and I had a lot of fun" he said. He eventually made his way north to NYC and in 1981 auditioned for Saturday Night Live. "I didn't make the cut but I found comedy...again". Irrera has been doing stand-up since then and has not looked back. His rediscovery has resulted in a career.

"I work a lot but I also take time off, lay around" In other words he is not afraid to live a life full of the trappings that make celebrity so appealing. "I just got tickets to the Lakers Celtics..Joey Crawford sent em''he said.

Irrera counts NBA ref Crawford, Charles Barkley and Bruce Willis among his lengthy list of friends. He also has old friends, guys from the neighborhood who he keeps up with. "One of my buddies from Philly Fran O'hanlon is a coach at Lafayette".

There is definitely more to our conversation but this was about June 14 at The Turning Stone Resort and Casino. "I can't wait...I heard they worked wonders out there at that place, after the show let's get a drink".

I had to break the bad news that the Turning Stone Resort and Casino was recently denied a liquor license by New York State.

"Why" he asked.

"Its complicated" I said. Barely stifling a rant I went on to explain the process that resulted in denial for the casino. I explained how the adversarial relationship between the Nation and local Government compelled the State to deny the casino during a PGA event.

"You gotta be kiddin me" he said.

"Nope, unfortunately I am not. Come to think of it that's probably what COO Ray Halbritter said when he heard they got denied"

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Art in Utica?

The second annual Bagg's Square Festival of The Arts was an ambitous event to say the least. The people behind it (Art on The Run, The Resonance Center) spent the better part of a year to make it happen. The many vendors, artists, performers and attendees that participated in the three day festival validated the need for creative avenues of expression. Not only as an artist but as an appraiser or fan of art. The people in attendance served as a barometer. A way to measure the demand for originality and creativity here in Utica.

Friday: Day one

Friday May 30th the second annual Bagg's Square Festival of the Arts began. All the preparation and planning leading up to this evening guaranteed a thorough and organized event.

Friday was an introductory night. The streets were not blocked off, there were no stages or live music. Instead the participating storefronts along the street were temporarily transformed creating a vibrant atmosphere and attracting a colorful crowd. Installation pieces and simpler more traditional works of art were displayed in every business with a few exceptions.

106 Genesee St, Utica Monday Nite's storefront, was the scene of a photo exhibit. At least sixteen local photographers participated creating a room full of expression. Some photos were deep, technological pools of understanding and provocative imagery, capturing poignant poses and expressions, others were shallow afterthoughts. Visions from a mental cable remote.

Kurt Williams, Anthony Garito and Meagan Sample are exempt of any criticism.

A couple of doors down at 100 Genesee St. (aptly dubbed 'The Film Palace') Vince Brown a local filmaker, hosted Hobo Filmfest. Many people were attracted by the installation piece in the display window of the storefront. The piece, named Queen Victoria's Psychedelic Crystal Palace was...more on that later.

The featured director of The Hobo filmfest, Shawn Lukitsh from Agency Films, showed a number of documentaries about the hobo lifestyle. "I have an interest in trains and the 'hobo' culture" he said.
Lukitsh has taken a interest to another level having traveled thousands of miles as a 'hobo' and personally documenting the lifestyle for himself. His knowledge of the culture and the people within it leant an air of authenticity to the films he chose to play.

The railway with it's boxcars and miles of track is as much a star in these films as the many grizzled characters that grumbled through their part of the tale. The Bill Daniels documentary on Bozo Texino, a famous railway 'hobo artist' was the highlight. The feature film, titled 'Hobo', was a documentary by John T. Davis an Irish National with a passion for hobos that might rival Lukitsh's.
A subculture indeed.
The old Resonance Center was also lit up. Artwork adorned every wall. Paintings and sculpture filled the room. People milled about checking out the work by some of The Mohawk Valley's best artists. I heard a lot of 'wows' and 'what's this'? by the end of the weekend.

Saturday : Day Two

The day started with a pessimistic warning from the weather man.
Rain all day.

That didn't stop 3/5 of the scheduled vendors from coming and filling their coveted spots along Genesee St.. But it stopped the rest. " A lot of paying vendors didn't even bother to come out because fo the weather warnings" shared one of the event organizers under a clear blue sky.

The visible gaps left by absent vendors were filled with frollicking kids and curious adults. The latter wondering what to look at next. A large group from The Mohawk Valley Center for Refugees looked particularly lost. They were looking for food. Ioanna ( pronounced yuwanna) Balint, chaperone for the future citizens successfully located two different booths. Eating steak sandwiches and salt potatoes is one of many great ways to become American.

The patches of rain throughout the day actually provided periodic relief from the climbing temperatures. And despite the showers the water dried up before I finished my third hot a row.

There was also music. A roster of local bands were sceduled to perform on the two stage areas set up on Genesee and Whitesboro St. Due to some last minute beaurocracy the Mainstage had to be moved effectively shelving and moving some of the performances. "These things happen" said Chuck Tomaselli one the event organizers. "We simply have to look for solutions" he added.

At the time of the first move Tomaselli had no idea the logistical nightmare that was developing. The electricity from the alternate location was not adequate for the sound technician. So, with bands frothing at the mouth in anticipation to play and a growing crowd the frustrated sound tech packed up and left.

"We can do this" Tomaselli was overheard saying.
After a few hours the stage was moved again and stand-in sound tech, Jerry D from the Rusty Dove's used last minute equipment provided by Big Apple Music. "We got Devin Garramone in on time" said a surprised and triumphant Adam Spiridillozi.

The Grammy nominated Garramone represented the seasoned best out of a strong roster of talent assembled for the fest. Whitesboro's answer to the Jonas Bros. Intermission could be overheard jamming their almost perfect covers. The Sauce perhaps the area's most interesting project belted out a sampling of pure musical talent.

The Sauce's Chris Woods and mono-nomed drummer Blake have definitely nudged open a spot on the local music scene. Woods is a musical wizard finger popping his bass in a zone reserved for shamans. Blake, the drummer, acts as a translater holding back and rolling with him adding a perceptive structure to Woodses immense talent.

Local hip-hop innovator AM Breakups made it back from their northeastern tour to perform as well. "It was great man ... people were like: 'you're AM Breakups?'. shared a happy Maris Meilnick.

Before I left I had to get a good look at Queen Victoria's Psychedelic Palace again. This installation was cleverly set up in the storefront of the 'Film Palace' at 100 Genesee St. Two signs one on each facade of the display windows read: Peek Holes.

With a peek in one of a dozen holes one can get a glimpse of the nightmarish, and disturbingly appealing scene that was painstakingly set up by creator Alex Yeager and Tina (she bolted before I could get her full name). The angles are everything in this piece. Vials with strange colored liquids, a mannequin head. Is that a Ken doll? It was a managerie of sideshow oddities that will never be seen in the same space ever again anywhere.

The festivities continued on till late night where it was rumored that: 'everyone in the art scene was there- dancers, poets, actors and musicians'. But no writers.

Sunday: Day Three

The crowd was much more intimate for the third day. It was all about the food and fundraising. The Lomeo Brothers belted out a timely set of Blues standards, at times accompanied by well timed trainhorns provided by freights that periodically pass through Utica.

The blues harp takes on a whole different role when heard in tandem with a distant, approaching train. As if The Lomeo's weren't enough the weather was great and so was the food. A modest number of people who stopped by to support a good cause sat through and enjoyed the live performance put on by The Sir Philip Sydney Association for Local Writers.

This group of writing enthusiasts has been together for less han a year and they have already decided to expand their artistic horizons to include live theater. The festival provided a venue for their first live performance.

The group had to reschedule due to Saturday's last minute stage move but they still delivered a humor filled show. Walter 'Bud' Wadas wrote, designed the set and directed for the group. His original script, On The Stoop inspired more than a few chuckles. " I am just glad we pulled it off" a relieved Wadas admitted. Everyone 'pulled it off'. It was a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Huckabee & Hillary : Obama Assasins?

O.K. we can all admit our surprise. Obama has a commanding lead and there is only one thing that can stop him...right?

If you ask anyone in the black community if they think he will be killed or someone will try to kill him, depending on the generation, the overwhelming answer is( drumroll please) yes.

Most of us have toiled away and survived in this foreign home with a degree a cynicism reserved for the average blogger and seasoned revolutionary. Black folks are accustomed to last minute rule changes and skullduggery of every kind. We are accustomed to planned disasters that shatter hopes and kill dreams. We have watched our leadership devastated, killed, murdered and terrorized until there were no more leaders.

No more leaders that appealed to white and black people.

The two H's Hillary and Huckabee just reminded the 'old guard' (civil rights veterans) about the age old tactics of our political elite. The mere mention of Bobby Kennedy ignited the slumbering collective conscience of a community that has been devastated by felled leadership.

A community that has been let down over and over again.

Optimism? Hard to come by.

The major point a lot of us are missing is: They killed white revolutionaries too. Anyone who dared rattle the cages of our monarchy was and basically is at risk even if they enjoyed the elite status that most of us are taught to dream about.

In the midst of all this negativity there is also a refreshing occurence, a transformation. I was recently chatting with a local editor of a newspaper. While lowballing me on freelance opportunities, he admitted the Huckabee crack sounded like : "A veiled invitation for a psycho to act out".

Phew I am not crazy after all.

We expect that type of stuff from the stumbling Huckabee but Hillary? We need to remember that she is part of the squad, she used to be on the starting team. She does not want to be a benchwarmer, not after all the progress she has made on her own.

There is no excuse for her statements. You can't spin that. Why even mention the word assasination? A calculated invitation for a psycho to handle their business perhaps?

Most of us know every word every picture is scrutinized before public consumption; there is no 'shooting from the hip' there is no 'keeping it real'. Elections are a scientific balancing act measured and ran by marketing geniuses.

'Assasination' was calculated.

Hillary is determined to go down in flames. A lot of new Yorkers who supported her have switched allegiance behind that crack. She appears desperate and willing to do anything to win or discredit her opponent even at the expense of her party and it's constituents. She has spent the last several months apologizing for this or that.

You cannot win on a platform of apology...can you?

I am convinced if the Republican Party offered her a place on the ticket she would take it.

She is beyond partisan politics we all know that.

The superdelegates are running out of reasons to justify voting for her. It is simply to late for a victory, she needs to salvage what is left of her integrity and bow out. I would say gracefully but it is too late for that, she simply needs to slink away and lick her deep wounds. Black folks will not forget nor forgive her... we are baffled. She will have to let Bill court the black vote for now on.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Black Cowboys

The Cowboy is an all American character, a living symbol to a romantic time. Country and Western music, westerns full of quickdraw gunfights and rodeos are all remnants of a culture that helped glorify the Western United States.

In The early 1800's, vast stretches of grassy plains teaming with wildlife (free cattle and free land) lured all walks of life to the lawless lands of opportunity. The Darwinian lifestyle quickly earned the territories a name " The Wild West".

Before the transcontinental railroad spanned the entire United States, goods and services were still needed in the rapidly expanding western territories.

The expansion west , like any other expansion, was fueled and sustained by trade and commerce. The lawless nature of the new territories required a rugged disposition for anyone venturing west of the Mississippi River.

In fact many territories were conquered by settlers. The biggest army in the world was the armed to teeth, poor , eager American citizen.

Cowboys were the main characters in this storied chapter in American History. From the cattle ranches of what is now Texas to the expansive plains of the 'great midwest' a motley collection of rejects from every corner of America made a home on the range.

There are many popular stories, legends, that have stood the test of time regarding the supposed romantic life these men led. Lonesome Dove, a well read story of the Good night-Loving trail and the cowboys that ran it was made into a television minisereies.

Gen X question: Who can forget Silver Spoon's Ricky Schroeder returning to T.V., finally playing a man?
The popular television show Bonanza also provided a sanitized version of life on the Ponderosa range. These popular depictions of cowboy life came well after hundreds of dimestore novels made there way east out of the western territories during the 1860's.

A good story was part of the newly emerging Cowboy culture. Spinning a good yarn was as important as the round-up. The evening campfire would glow bright into the eyes of the storyteller who had the ability to captivate his audience with glorious tales of triumph and loss. The ancient art of the griot living through these mercenaries of manifest destiny. There were also few women around so a good imagination provided an escape from the present reality which was full of danger and back-breaking hard work.

The new frontier provided many opportunities for the men that chose the life. Race was not always an issue. Cowboys came in all shapes and sizes. The majority were white but at least a third were black. Many of the newly freed and runaway black men made an equal living working alongside their white counterparts; often times being paid the same to do the same.
The risk was the same or everyone, the threats from outlaws and Indians made life very dangerous for the hardworkng cowboys. The reward for their hard work was great, the money for a successful run reaped fortunes for the cattlemen and their drivers. The rich stories they told reflect a life of adversity and accomplishment.

The range was a place of equality where natural law, not man's law, prevailed.

What Did They Do?

The term Cowboy has been used for a little over a hundred and fifty years. According to legend it originated from a southern slave owner who hired out his 'cowboy ' slaves to manage herds in his county. They were noted for their excellent manipulation of a large herd with only a dog and salt. Another legend says the term comes from the english transalation of the Spanish termvaqueros which described the south of the border version of cattlmen on horseback.

The Texas territory before the American expansion was a haven for Missions and Spanish forts. The cattle the Spaniards left behind after Mexican independence roamed the huge plains of Texas wild and free.

The Indians and Mexicans had more than enough cattle to deal with ( easily over 100,000 in Texas). The American expansion west brought more people. And with them a demand for beef. The large herds were rounded up and the techniques employed by the Indigenous Indians and Mexicans on horseback were copied and perfected by the newest settlers.

A cowboy rides a horse, a cowboy has skills in the saddle. The ability to control a a large number of cattle on horseback is the backbone of the trade. The cowboy had to do many things to be considered a good cattleman. Good shooting skills had nothing to do with cattle but would increase the lifespan of any man on the range during the cattle drive. The ability to handle a stampede ( an out of control herd) and withstand an attack by Indians and outlaw at the same time could not be taught. Many good men died on the trail.

One Example of Excellence

Bill pickett is the most famous of all Black Cowboys. "Imagine creating your olympic event...Bill Pickett did that with rodeo" shared Lu vason of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo


Bill Picket was born in Texas in 1870. He is legendary for reating the event bulldoging. as child he used to watch the buldogs take down 1000lb bulls on the ranch. As a man he applied the technique to earn his immortal reputation.

It was a suicidal, daring act. He would ride alongside the bull at full gallop, jump off of his horse straddling the bull by the horns, somehow sliding around the front of the bull while turning its head. As if it wasn't daring enough, he raised the 'insane bar' by biting the top lip of the bull and then would raise his hands showing complete control of momentum and direction of the subdued behemoth. One can only imagine the looks of astonishment on the faces of the first witnesses to this amazing feat.

The modern version of 'Bulldogging' does not include biting the top lip. The originator, Bill Pickett ironically died from a kick to the head, on the rodeo circuit , at the age of 62 still dazzling audiences with his amazing performances. The fact he lasted that long is a testament to his skills when everything is on the line.

"He really is beyond compare, he created the competition, he was the best" Vason said.

Vason's rodeo is all about education and fun and choosing Bill Pickett as it's namesake was easy .

How It Started For Lu

Vason's interest in rodeo is an exercise in irony. Its the part of his life story that I love. Some of us, me included, never know where we are going to end up; we just know we are going to make it. When Vason graduated highschool he did not know he would be running the number one black rodeo. The Berkeley High Graduate (Berkeley Ca) got his start writing for a small African American Newspaper called The Berkeley Post in 1962.

He segued into entertainment, managing local acts. He was a shameless self promoter and through his efforts he helped many others advance their careers.

Lu Vason started the rodeo twenty three years ago in Colorado. The producer and former manager of The Whispers, The Natural Four and The Pointer Sisters ironically decided to trade in the silk suits and handkerchiefs for a lariat and spurs.

"Cheyenne , at the time, was open, clean and there weren't many people" He said referring to the isolation and sparse population at the time. " I had knowledge of history. What I considered a good knowledge, a thorough knowledge. There were a lot of guys missing from the history books and the westerns that I saw" he paused.

"Black Guys" he continued "I started the rodeo to include that piece of history, for the reverence that was missing...Cheyenne was the place to do it".

Lu Vason does not consider himself a cowboy. He does not ride a horse, he is a businessman first.

The invitational has an international reputation and attracts Black riders from all over America. Most are already in other pro Rodeo circuits.
"I am a producer and this is a business endeavour" he reminded.

When asked, he had to agree "Oh yeah, an educator too"

Sounds Good Lu, sounds good. But remember, no one is learning shit until he gets paid.

Another Amazing Black Cowboy

Bose Ikard was born a slave in Mississippi in 1843 to a prominent southern Doctor. In his childhood he acquired all the requisite skills for life on the range. His hard life as a slave prepared him for just about any challenge.The many tasks he mastered helped make him a valuable commodity in the newly emerging territories.

Texas during the 1850's was still a very dangerous place. There was a constant threat of attack. Cunning , skill and luck were requirements for anyone trying to reach adulthood in the feral society.
A man could earn a reputation real fast in the territories just by surviving past fifteen.

Ikard was young, smart and eager. By the end of the civil war he had gained his freedom and proved his worth as a good cowhand and sure-footed fighter.

In 1866 he officially beame a cowboy working under traildrivers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight.

Early in his traildriving career,the man that gave him a job, Oliver Loving was killed. He fell victim to Comanches who regularly attacked the cattlemen. Loving's partner, Goodnight kept Ikard on his crew and they became fast friends.

Through the years they successfully repelled indians, outlaws and steered stampeding herds. Ikard finally settled down in 1870 and would live to be 86 years old. The father of fifteen children and a celebrated friend of Charles Goodnight. The trailblazing co- creator of the legendary Goodnight Loving Trail.

One More Example

Nat love was a writer, Pullman Porter, card shark and cowboy. He personified the true 'Wild West' renaissance man. Love lived a full life on the trail working as a cowboy with many different outfits.

Love's book, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love gave a full acount of his exploits on the plains from his early days in slavery to his teenage years fighting The Yellow Dog Tribe.

An excerpt describes his life: "I had full confidence in myself as being able to take care of myself and making my way." another excerpt: "I gloried in the danger, and the wild and free life of the plains, the new country I was continually traversing, and the many new scenes and incidents continually arising in the life of a rough rider"

Rough Rider? Sounds Like D-Block
He mentions just about every notable person of the time. Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Billie the Kid and Kit carson all made appearances in his book. The historical accuracy confirmed by his own legend.

I beleive him because I have met a lot of 'Pop Culture' celebrities myself but I don't talk about it because when I start name dropping (like I am about to do right now) most people think I am lying.

There is a magic in being at the right place at the right time.

If you really know me- you know.

Nat Love , also known as 'DeadwoodDick', had earned his reputation early. He is a legendary figure who changed with his surroundings.

The need for cowboys dwindled with the growth of the railroad. When the Transcontinental railroad was complete a lot of cowboys had to find otherways to make a living.The great iron horse would rumble across the plains bringing more people and change. Nat yearned for the life on the trail but would ultimately adopt the soft lifestyle working on the railroad as a Pullman porter. He continued to live on his own terms till he died in 1921, leaving behind a legend and many friends.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What do you think about blackface?

I was hanging out with a group of friends last week. We were rehearsing a one act play by J.I. Rodale titled: Streets of Confusion.

It's about urban renewal(in case you cared).

We are scheduled to perform at The 2nd Annual Bagg's Square Art Festival. I have been involved from its inception.

Part of the mission is to show the diversity of Utica and provide a platform for artists of every medium to show their work.

There will be music, food, film , poetry, and one act plays throughout the day. There will be booths were local artists wil be selling handmade jewelry and an assortment of offerings. So , naturally I will flex my acting acting chops by participating in several of the performances.

We are an assortment of individuals from totally different backgrounds assembled to make this aspect of the event sucessful.

We each bring something different to the table.

I have been able to point an early spotlight on the event by writing several articles about it. I have also went into the community to get some diversity in the homegenous event. The planners are enthusiastic about some additional culture.

Breakthrough Central New York have managed to watch these written ideas come to fruition. The last hurdle is the inclusiveness, to embrace and include all segments of Utica.

The upshot?

They admit... "we need help"

The attitude is there. That is what I mean when I say"there really is harmony", it just has to be realized. And conflict, wether racial in origin or not, has to be a point of connection not separation.

There are a great many people who want that.

Want to get along.

There are people who are tired of hating and do not even know why they hate.

Sometimes brutal honesty is a tonic, we need to know what is up sometimes.

During our rehearsal one of my associates asked "Dave what do you think about blackface"?

All eyes on me.

Without any hesitation I said "In a historical context it is sad and sickening." I thought about it a little more and continued without pausing "I need to understand how many actual performances were literally ripped of. How many brilliant black performers had their material stolen from some small backwater stage and then had to sit through the mainstream mockery of these blackfaced cretins" Then I said "Think about all the black people who had to wear it as well, a little piece of their sould dying everytime they put it on, think about the rare black headliner of the show having to enter the theatre through the back door. If you are comfortable after that so be it".

I almost said think about Paul Robeson but I knew it was futile.

Then I thought of Flava Flav
and it is hard to blame people who don't know history for doing or saying something that may seem totally innappropriate with someone like him on the airwaves, drawing big audiences.

Can anyone say Mantan?

"O.K Dave.... so, what do you think guys"

I refused to be angry, I am sure there are bad events in his/their cultural history that I am just as indifferent about . It is not that I don't care, it just does not resonate emotionally. So I can understand other eurocentric ethnicities not caring too much about racism and the biased construct we live under today.

After all, they treat each other pretty bad too.

Inclusiveness conversations and questions like "do you mind blackface" make all the difference.

With a group consensus it probably won't happen, if it does, I will counter with white face,
walk around like something is in my butt and dance without rythm(Its a stereotype).

Is that funny?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This for You Anonymous

This is the first time I have posted something twice. I am posting this in reponse to an unprovoked attack by an anonymous visitor to Dancyscorner. Like most people he/she hides behind an avatar. Nothing wrong with that until you start hurling insults and go out your way to belittle me, the host of Dancyscorner. I post what I post because I am a big boy. I know there is no shortage of nut cases who probably beat their kids over some of the things I write.

People without coping skills.

I have written about the power of words before and I am still, to this day, in awe of what they can do in the proper order.

I have narrowed down the location of the anonymous reader but that is unimportant I do not have any intent on going beyond this form of correspondence.

But I am disturbed.

The type of cowardice displayed is equally as bad as the jealous merchant after reconstruction joining in on the lynching of a business rival. It is disturbing because there is no integrity, no face, no pride, just ethers and the monolithic injustice of our shared American history.

I also am disturbed by people who read the first paragraph of my blog and comment on it without finishing the whole post. The type of people that read the headlines in the newspaper not the articles. I actually thought about moderating my comment section but I want to expose these type of people. I knew they existed but in everyday life they will never speak out of turn at least that is my experience.

So without further ado

enjoy anonymous -this is for you.

Black History is American History. The lack of historical acknowledgement or an accurate account of the Black American experience is a regular complaint of those dedicated to racial justice in America.

The continued subtle omission of Black/American accomplishments in history books help shape a contemporary mindset- an indoctrination.

They did it all- white people that is. We blacks have always been a burden.

O.K. back to omissions

A particularly grievous omission( historical disregard) hovers around the issue of lynching; this brutal bizarre form of mob 'justice' would occur continually from the end of the Civil War to the last celebrated lynching in 1951.

The statistics are fuzzy- The Tuskeegee institute claims about 3,500 during that period- most of the lynchings recorded were documented through press clipping and postcards , there were obviously a lot more.

My grandmother has shared first hand accounts of an American world gone mad.

Before we continue ask yourself.

If I was alive then would I do something?
(To stop it)?

The Klu Klux Klan started in 1865.....thats interesting.Isn't that the same year the slaves were freed?Mr. Pike( 1st Grandmaster) did not wait one Mystikal second to set the record straight.No..... I uppity niggers!

The white supremacist mindset included a belief that Black people were less than human therefore inhumane acts could be committed us. The Klan would help define those methods.The level of brutality was incomprehensible.

A lot of people will have difficulty reading this post.
Many won't even finish
Racism hits a nerve.
Especially with racists

I always wonder why white people are so quick to say."This isn't about race"or"He played the race card".

Breaking News-"We did not invent the race card".

Back to lynching.

Contrary to popular belief there was a lot of skilled slave labor. Slaves were used to build and maintain the infrastructure of the Southern United States. But who cares. They are not doing it now.

We all know the Civil War devastated the southern economy. All the, newly freed, skilled artisans who were once sources of income for their masters immediately became bonafide competitors.

The main competition was poor whites.

The frugal lifestyle of the former slave served as a catalyst for creativity and efficiency. It was easy for these survivors to create a comfortable modest lifestyle from very little. Prosperity was right around the corner all the newly freed men needed was opportunity. The ingredients for success were there.

Guaranteed in The Constitution.

Many ex-slaves began to thrive as a result of hard work and of course, humility. But the rapid success brought about jealousy from the Southern Gentleman- the once dominant Southern Planter did not enjoy the same profits he did before. It was an abomination for him to be stripped of his skilled cheap labor, but for the brutes to succesfully compete with him was unthinkable- like war with Iran

Still here? Good.

I actually got hate mail for this article.

As we climbed the social totem pole under the watchful and protective eye of Federal Troops we began to develop a little self esteem. Started to walk upright, no longer bowing our heads as we walked by a white person. Some even made direct eye contact with a white person-before abolition that could get you killed. Some former slaves even competed in international markets for tobacco and other crops during harvest charging top dollar for a superior crop. This is surely where the notion of being uppity was invented.The former Master snickering away as The French Merchant buys his ex-slave's bumper crop of Tobacco.

His face turning red.

Knuckles bone white.Gripping the Lions Head on his cane... A gentleman.

Many white southerners felt the The Federal Government had declared outright war on their sensibilities. There was a simmering effect.It was not just the Klan.There was determination to prevent the newly freed black men from ever being on equal ground with the white man.

William J Northern Governor of Georgia from 1890-1894 conducted a fact finding mission on the backroads of his state. He observed: I was amazed to find scores and hundred of men who believed the negro to be a brute, without reponsibility to God, and his slaughter nothing more than the killing of a dog.

Remember Black folks were no longer a private commodity the value of Black life cheapened considerably. Lynching became the most popular means of controlling and intimidating Black people. To deter any type of social progress but it was mainly about white supremacy. It was terrorism American style. It was a peculiar cultural phenomenon that persisted for generations undeterred by local, regional and even Federal law enforcement.

Lynchings were not restricted to the south, they occured all over the United States. Wherever they were it was an occasion.There was a self righteous pride in these mobs. Photographs were taken, post cards made to commemorate what came to be known as The Negro Bar- B- Que.

Most of us conjur images of a man hanging from a tree. Sorry- its worse.

The first recorded lynchings involved tying the victim to a tree, whipping them and then setting them on fire.

Pretty effective way to send a message to the uppity......They would usually grab an innocent upstanding citizen to send a message"We'll take their best nigger an burn em on the trash heap if they get to actin biggity"(quote in Without Sanctuary 00')The power of the lynch mob was directly related to the excitement that could be generated.

Many victims were dragged out of court after acquittal by a Judge and lynched. You could be lynched for just about anything.

Talk about race card.

There are documented lycnchings with absurd reasons like reckless eyeballing, unpopularity...unpopularity? And refusing to sell land. Regardless, the atmosphere was always carnival like . A man dressed as a clown in blackface might be running around like a gleeful imp encouraging people on the sidelines to get involved.

People would sometimes rampage through streets severing digits, limbs or genitals off the victim as they made their way kicking, screaming and pleading for mercyThe burning coal oil would await them and the mob would erupt in a frenzy as the near dead but concious man/woman was lowered into the oil.

Participants would come and clip a finger, toe somethiong as a souvenir before he was finally set afire and mercifully allowed to die.

An account of a lynching by a reporter for the Vicksburg Evening Post decribes the 1904 execution of a husband and wife. When the two negroes were captured, they were tied to trees and while their funeral pyres were being prepared the were forced to suffer the most fiendish tortures. The blacks were forced to hold out thier hands while one finger at a time was chopped off . The fingers were distributed as souvenirs. The ears of the murderers were cut off. Holbert was beaten severely his skull was fractured and one of his eyes, knocked out with a stick, hung by a shred from the socket...The most excruciating form of punishment consisted in the use of a large corkscrew in the hands of some of the mob. The instrument was bored into the woman in the arms, legs ,and body and then pulled out, the spirals tearing out big pieces of raw, quivering flesh every time it was withdrawn.

A frenzied America there are a lot of frenzied atmospheres.Suffice it to say the thin fabric of order was routinely torn in many otherwise law abiding communities. Entire towns would trade in their civility and replace it with demonic, unthinkable demonstrations of hatred.Words like savage , brutal, sadistic, evil and abberant can be used to describe every report of a lynching.

Remember these were supposedly sane people. The postman, The Dentist.They were all indoctrinated to believe it was o.k.

This is The America we fail to recall in The History Books.

This is the America that kills it's own.
An old black man shared some thoughts "Kill a mule, buy another, Kill a nigger hire another...They had to have a license to kill anything but a nigger".

At least now you have to have a badge.Bridge the gap...if you can.any funny looking heirlooms in your family?