Check In w/ the Blue Mirror


Found Object -- Harlem Visage, Recast in the Dirty, Dirty

Found Object

  • Henry Ossawa Tanner, Untitled, ca. 1895. Our apologies for the lo-fi repro. In the meantime, the Duke Ellington of painting moves on.

Found Object -- Old Time

  • Floyd Gordon, unknown title or date. Found rolling in the back woods of the dirty dirty.
We never quite know what to do with this kind of picturing of the old south. The brovah, who stands above most of this work for his strong views of the city & storybook colorism, consistently traffics in nostalgia, and we're asking ourselves whether that's a bad thing. It may be a very different kind of unnaground that he's walking through, and while he's busy resurrecting what he wishes happened, we're walking the streets doing only the same and wishing for the wrong things.

I would ask the queen of the blues what she thinks, but only after Dust Tracks. She might have the right thing to say.


Found Object -- Gots to get us more of these Pancaribbean flashes

This washed up on the beach, sent to us in a bottle from an island friend. "They want to go like this, like Farrah Fawcett," rasta stylee.


Strange Sights from the Land of Harmony

'Member that project w/ devils and the alphabet?* We're at the letter j. Brings us to James Reese Europe. In the face of the re-discovery of Europe, we must just pause to observe a few convergences.

There's the pre-war stuff: hyenawild instrumentation, big groove, yowling bandleader, sexy dancers and an explosive mix of disciplined bandsmanship on the one hand and dionysian improvisation on the other. They've been telling us that we gotta do a re-eval on this period for decades now. You lissen to these few slabs, you can hear the shout: bring us more, bring us more. What's going on? There's a riot going on.

Then there's the Hellfighters stuff. It brings out the devils, too. It's a cauldron of entendres, doubling over. See those notes flying everywhichway? That's cause the boys in the band gointa free the minds of thousands of Europeans who've been waiting for this kind of liberation for, well, maybe centuries.

Get to this, from 1919:

They call it "Jazzola!"
Nobody knows its origination,
It's just a dance full of syncopation,
And if you crave a new sensation,
Come with me,
You will see,
Strange sights from the land of harmony!
Old folks and young folks cry for Jazzola!
It's like a tonic, take it with each meal;
How good you'll feel!
My old granddad heard the news,
Dropped his cane for dancing shoes!
The whole world's going crazy 'bout Jazzola!

Just take your sweetie sweet
Out for a jazzy treat,
And she'll love you like she never did before;
What's more,
No need of fine wine,
You'll have a much better time,
Get those jazz musicians,
Choice positions
To play it o'er and o'er!

More gangsta sh*t, straight outta the second decade of the 20th c. The second verse is almost Snoop Dogg in it's pleasure principle, and you gotta love how the spirit of jesgrew, one of the real devils @ the crossroads, occupies the first.

It's time to come and get to this short clip for your lissening pleasure.

  • James Reese Europe's High Society Orchestra, "Down Home Rag." Do you feel better?
  • Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighter's Band, "That's Got 'Em."
  • Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighter's Band, "Jazzola."

There are these rumors that the Clef Club† sometimes brought together as many as 150 musicians into a single show. We think there are hundreds of minds, freed by this example, that imagine a sound this full of noise. It's been an example our people've been looking to copy every since.

Our purpose is not to be writing history; we are not wishing to bring back the past. We are talking about what's going on. But sometimes a tear or two falls from our historiographical third eye and leaks into these jottings. From that source, we drop a couple more bullets into the clip, just to make a point. And when we do, voila, the political reappears -- strange sights from the land of harmony.

* We started this 'nothering exercise here. We had the time and inclination a coupla weeks ago to spill our a box of devils in a different order. It's been harder to pick up the project since those days, if only because the day to day subtracts the free time that makes such exercises possible. As of today, we still rest in the letter j.
† There is so much lore in these two words that wikiologists can only leave a stub behind.