Thursday, August 16, 2018
I Even Got The Don Cornelius Reference Plus Diet Coke Sucks
I don't know y'all. I just don't know. I'm in a big old swamp of I don't know shit and although that's not really a bad place to be, it can be uncomfortable.
Woke up to discover that Aretha Franklin had died.
Fuck. Well, no. Not fuck. If she was in pain and/or ready to go, then godspeed, Queen Aretha. I don't think we mere humans on this planet could have reasonably asked for one more note from her. She gave us all of them. She was everything that everyone is saying about her today and she was far more than all of that. What she did, her very presence, her voice, her grace, her ability to transcend and elude every label anyone ever tried to put on her made her what she was which somehow was a symbol of all that is woman, of all that is performer, of all that is diva, of all that is holy, of all that is strong, of all that is the very miracle that the human voice can be.
Her daddy may have been a famous preacher but I think that Aretha probably brought more sinners to their knees than he ever did. And if Aretha couldn't show you the light, you were willfully blind.
Well. That's what I think.
Lord I feel like I need a good cry right now.
Not even sure why. Tears have been trembling and threatening since I watched a youtube clip of Aretha performing at the Kennedy Center Awards in 2015 and had our president wiping his eyes.
Of course the very thought of living in that world- a world where Aretha Franklin could stand on a stage in a full length fur coat and sing the song that she'd made famous which had been written by a young Jewish girl and we had a president who could show emotion, who actually experienced emotion, who was moved by art, whose wife stood beside him with joy instead of like a stolid, expressionless rock- remembering what it was like just those three short years ago made me want to cry. And then when Aretha shrugged off the coat, that mantle of royalty and stood there with arms raised, every bit of human natural woman glorified by her spirit I just couldn't handle it.
I didn't come here to talk about politics. I'm sorry. But can one avoid it these days?
I don't think so.
And besides, this afternoon I went to the first movie I've been to in so long I can't remember and I chose to go see Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman. I could hardly have picked a more political film to see if I'd tried. And I knew that going in. Spike Lee has never shied away from the hard questions, the harder truths. And if I'm going to go to an actual movie theater, it better count.
So I went to the new CMX theater in town and it was all quite impressive. I didn't like the fact that I had to pick out my seat on a screen when I bought my ticket but since there were only about a dozen people in that particular theater it wasn't too crazy-making.
And then I went and bought popcorn and a diet Coke and I haven't had a diet Coke since the last time I went to a movie theater, most likely. I didn't notice until after I ordered that they had iced tea but now I know for next time.
I took my popcorn and my coke and found my seat and settled down and I'd had about ten kernels of corn and the previews were still on when I spilled all of my damn popcorn on the new shiny floor and not only felt like a clumsy fool but also was fairly pissed because I'd really wanted that popcorn.
I cleaned it up the best I could and then the movie began and I just don't know what I think of it.
Part of me thinks that Lee could have pushed it a lot harder. I remember those times like they were yesterday. I remember the names, the clothes, the bombs, the jewelry, the hairstyles, the threat of race war.
Once, when I was about seventeen and was working at McDonalds, a man left a card at my register which I didn't see until he left which proudly alerted me to the fact that I had just been patronized by the Grand Dragon of the local KKK.
I could go on and on about those times but I won't. I think some part of me has always been hyper aware of the evils of racism and prejudice and I certainly never was one to hide my head under the sand, join a sorority at college and revel in my whiteness.
And none of that matters but I guess what I'm saying is is that the things that shocked me the most from this movie were the way certain white police officers not only sympathized with the new, first black recruit, but had his back and helped him infiltrate the KKK in Colorado Springs. This is probably because it didn't happen in Bumfuck, Mississippi but the fact remains that there was still an active chapter in Colorado.
I felt that the most power in the whole movie came at the end when there was a bit of film from last year when Trump said what he said about there being "good people" on both sides of the protest in Charlottesville and then some clips were shown of the violence which had ended with the death of Heather Heyer. And of course one of the themes of the whole movie was about calling the police "pigs" because of the way they could do whatever they wanted when they stopped black people on the streets including gunning them down in cold blood and how that situation certainly hasn't been rectified.
In other words, not only have things not gotten better, they've gotten worse and for me, the most painful moment in the whole film was when the black protagonist expressed complete disbelief that a man like David Duke would ever get elected president of the United States.
And here we are, 2018, waiting for a tape to surface in which our president says the N-word out loud and in public as if that was the proof we finally need to know that the man is a vile racist.
So I left the theater feeling like I hadn't really learned anything new but I'm old and I suppose I just feel beat down that we have to keep fighting these same battles over and over again as if we are sentenced to a lifetime of trying to put out a wildfire so vast that no amount of vigilance or effort can truly ever control.
Which I guess we are and no one ever said it would be different.
Except that maybe the dream was that it would be.
Except that maybe when we had a president with darker skin who could cry and sing along with Aretha Franklin we thought it was.
Happy fools we were.
Well. What a depressing post.
I'm sorry. But that's just the way it is sometimes.
And then we go to bed and we wake up in the morning and we go about the day doing the work that must be done the best we can to make whatever part of the world we occupy the best, most beautiful and loving place it can be.
Or something like that.
I really don't know shit.