Saturday, July 27, 2013

Listening to George Carlin Talk About the Foolishness of Ethnic and National Pride While Wondering What Would Happen if Anakin Never Turned to the Dark Side Because He Listened to the Sweet Jazz Sounds of Maulawi

I am touched and impressed by the generosity of the readers of We Are Respectable Negroes. You have reached out from the ether and been so very kind in supporting the first five days of our twice a year donation drive. We have two more days, a weekend to go, my friends. WARN is a labor of love. If you can and are able after your other commitments do please throw some change into the donation bucket

I enjoy these nice sharing with each other online discovery potpourri posts.

Two fun happenings today. I saw George Lucas and his wife at the AMC theater here in downtown Chicago. They were hiding in plain sight. I followed them for a bit, but ultimately decided to give them their peace and privacy. No autographs. No handshakes. But, I did get to see one of my favorite celebrities. I am happy with that outcome.

I also watched the new Wolverine movie. I do wish that Darren Aronofsky had not backed out of directing the movie; I am still very pleased with the film's take on Wolverine's adventures in Japan. Jackman is Wolverine, and this movie is probably as close as we are going to get in terms of seeing Logan from the graphic novels properly depicted on the big screen. And yes, do stay for the credits to see the Easter Egg for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie. Sentinels? Time travel? How are they gonna pull it off? I am eager to find out.

My three finds for the weekend.

George Carlin was/is a genius. Smart folks with taste know that to be true. As we dig in for another stillborn "national conversation on race" following Zimmerman's acquittal for murdering Trayvon Martin, his question about "racial pride" is potent and timely.

I disagree with his observation that no one should be "proud" of their accident of birth--this is true for the in-group and the powerful--because surviving and doing well in a society that discriminates and oppresses you because of your group identity and personhood is in fact something of which to be proud.

The master comic is also a master psychologist because he or she can use humor to call into doubt society's taken for granted assumptions as a means of pointing out the absurdities of standing norms. Carlin does that in this routine. But is he right in his critique of pride?

WARN's first podcast was with Bill the Lizard, my dear friend and guest contributor to WARN, where we discussed all things Star Wars.

Slate's recent essay (borrowed from the site Quora) exploring some "what if?" scenarios about Anakin Skywalker, he who would become Darth Vader, is Star Wars gold.

Consider the following possibility:
If Anakin would have killed Yoda in that epic duel, then it would be the Skywalker family of Anakin, Padme, Luke, and Leia. Having killed Yoda, Anakin would likely feel the Dark Side just around the corner. Guilt or no guilt of what he did. He'd struggle with it for sure. 
That struggle would trickle down to the twins, Luke and Leia. Anakin would train them poorly, leading to all three of them being vulnerable to the Dark Side, luring the Emperor to them. And since we know that with the Sith, only a master and apprentice can prevail, then the Emperor would have to choose an apprentice from the three of them.

Or perhaps Anakin, Luke, and Leia would would forgo the Dark Side, overthrow the Emperor, have Padme lead the newly constructed New Republic, and all would be well. OR would it? The Jedi would be different. Evolved. Born of Anakin's natural defiance to its order. Perhaps the Gray Side, rather than outright Dark or Light side.

Lastly, Luke never meets Han. Leia never meets Han. Chewbacca never meets them either, nor does he befriend Threepio and Artoo. Boba Fett is never killed, at least by any of the characters we know and love. The same goes with Jabba the Hutt. He's likely still alive.

Who knows where Obi-Wan is? He's likely off somewhere, living under the hidden guise of Ben Kenobi, although not on Tattooine (He'd have no reason to be there with Luke not in the mix). He could be an old hermit at any end of the galaxy.
Considering all of that, the possibilities are endless.
The Star Wars comic books series have done some cool "What if?" scenarios in recent years. I would love to see a different writer and artist duo take on a version of the "What if Anakin Skywalker Never Turned to the Dark Side?" thought experiments.

I am no artist. But, I do know my Star Wars. Maybe the Force will bless me with the opportunity to contribute to such a collection if I am so lucky?

Maulawi Nururdi's song Orotunds is a new discovery. This is gonna be my "have a Chimay and pretend that I am the most interesting man in the world" soundtrack when it is released later this year by 180 Proof records.

Any finds to share? For my ghetto nerds, what Star Wars counter-factuals do you think would make for a great movie or graphic novel? For those of you who know more about jazz than I do, if I like Maulawi, what other artists/songs would you suggest?


Shady Grady said...

As far as music that shares that DNA I would start with Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, specifically Coltrane's "Ptah" and "Journey in Satchidananda" albums and Sanders' "Karma", "Back Unity" and "Love is in us All" albums. You have to be careful though as Sanders can also play very free and that is an acquired taste for some people.

Idris Ackamoor, Phillip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, Gary Bartz, and Phil Ranelin are all people that walk back and forth between Afro-centric/spiritual jazz and slightly more popular forms. It's hard to go wrong with much that they did.

And the Pharaohs, which were the forerunners to Earth, Wind and Fire, are also a great group to get familiar with though they tend towards a more percussive openly African sound and a funk backbeat.

There was something special going on in the late sixties and early seventies.

chauncey devega said...

I knew that the one and only Shady Grady would have some suggestions. All those groups are new to me. Tell me more about the Pharaohs, their history sounds very interesting. Did they get the attention they deserve?

Shady Grady said...

No they didn't. They only did two albums before Maurice White took half the horn section and a few other players to become the Phenix Horns/EWF.

The Pharoahs were a mix of African and African-American players. They had a very thick deep organic sound for lack of a better word. They were playing in the same pond as people like Sun Ra. Basically it was a Funkadelic without the pop/rock overtones or silliness. The Pharaohs grew out of college ensembles and Chess studio musicians. Very Afro-centric/black pride, in tune with the times.

I think you would like them but the closest thing to Maulawi is probably Phil Ranelin.

Vic78 said...

I remember Bill Maher saying he was kind of like George Carlin. And I'm kind of like Lebron James. Carlin was a special dude. His comedy sharpened as he aged.

Anakin never turning would be a great story. There would be some tension between him and the council. At the time Jedi were to be celibate. The Jedi would also have to explain killing the head of state during a war at a time when people were losing confidence in the Jedi. Anakin probably wouldn't appreciate his friend being killed. I believe that Padme and the kids will keep him grounded. You have some pretty good What if stories. Dark Horse needs to get on the ball.
How about Luke killing Vader and Leia has to self train using Obi wan's notes? Yoda had better have a backup plan.

physioproffe said...

Carlin was a genius. One of the most memorable experiences of my life was spending an hour with him backstage before his show. I got the opportunity during grad school, because my next-door neighbor was his childhood friend and took me to the show.

chauncey devega said...

What a story. What we he like? How did he prepare for the show?

AGreenBird said...

I have to say that my interpretation of what Carlin said would lead me to think that surviving in a society/culture that oppresses blackness & blacks is something to be proud of, but I would like to know more on the thinking re how this survival is because of being black or because of being wise enough to get past the fallacies of and for oppression. Which may be one and the same to anyone black and only because I am not black, I have to be taught how this works, as I'm too bound up in a language tooled for oppression?

chauncey devega said...

I think most folks survive, many do not make it out whole psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, economically etc.

Remember this has nothing to do with color and everything to do with power. Privilege, as I am in the habit of saying, is all the stuff in life you do not have to think about. A lack of privilege is all of that little and some not so little stuff that is a drain on your energy. That comes with gender, race, class, sexuality, ability status, etc. etc. etc.

To add another complication, lots of folks who are "oppressed" have internalized this relationship as a means of "surviving." Are they "living?" I am not sure.