Monday, August 24, 2009
There's Nothing Wrong With A Little "Bump"-n-Wine. Or Is That Bump And Grind?
I 've seen the images of junkies on television. I watched Frank Sinatra in The Man With A Golden Arm. I saw the mug shots of Nick Nolte and Robert Downey Jr. I've witnessed the distant gaze of Keith Richards and Ozzie Osborn. Who hasn't seen Jungle Fever and watched Samuel Jackson do his crack monkey dance in an effort to obtain a bump? Pookie, played by Chris Rock, was a shining example of a crack head gone wrong. Marvin Gaye asked What's Going On. And we all saw his demise. I think it safe to say, all the above were looking for a little "bump" - of something. I wonder if it was a bump of life? You know, a sparkle in their otherwise boring life. While they were on their grind, they bumped into a mean thang! There IS something wrong with a little bump-n-grind - ain't it?
I've often said that I don't write much social commentary. But today I have to go there. Today I read a wonderful article on D'angelo http://soulsummer.com/ezine/feature-stories/black-pop-kool-aid-dangelos-left-right/ . Well, the article was tight. It was extremely well written, it was exciting, it was delicious, it flowed, it made me pause, it was voluptuous. Yet, it was ultimately sad. That article focused on a video shoot. The video was to accompany the release of D'angelo's CD, "Left and Right". Redman and Method Man were there, so was George Clinton. It appears Rick James should have been there. Its been reported that George Clinton was unabashedly smoking crack cocaine while standing in full view of everyone at the gathering. This is the same beloved George Clinton that some televisions and radio stations allowed to do commentary over the Micheal Jackson memorial. Like Marvin Gaye asked, What Going On?
The images, journey and fate of the D'Angelo's of the world are common. All of their journeys offer a story that is not new and carry a stereotypical message. There is an outward display of self-destruction and loss of respect. Have we as a culture placed ourselves in a social caste system? Most readers stratify themselves far above the George Clinton's, Michael Jackson and D' angelo's of the world and others like them. In this system, are we not simply denying the truth that each of us has a piece of them within ourselves. Is that why we excuse all the social ills in our neighborhoods. Are we afraid of pointing a finger at ourselves. You know, ain't nothing wrong with a little bump-n-grind, err'body gotta get paid - right?
Why do we quietly excuse our "Talented Tenth"? Why is their drug use only highlighted as a subplot to great stories of triumph and fame?
I am reminded of the time a member of the Temptations "graduated" from a treatment center and proclaimed that he was cured. At that time, he was in a battle with a seasoned professional and had only acquired what amounted to a G.E.D. He died with his undergraduate degree firmly tucked under his arm, along with his crack pipe. Who knew Etta James had a habit? Why are we so nieve and misinformed of the gripping affects of substance abuse?
Should we say poor D'angelo and poor Michael Jackson or pour me another drink? I don't know what's going on but something just ain't right. I do feel a little guilty. Well, while I was writing this post, I was playing D'angelo. But aren't drugs and alcohol the ugliest scrounge in society. Have we given up on the war on drugs? Should we just close our eyes or build a war zone like District 9?
Like so many others, I have few answers and less solutions. Pour me another drink. No, don't, tell me what's on your mind. What about you, do you have any answers? Do you know someone that has a problem? Have you been there? What's going on? I wasn't being totally truthful when I said I didn't have any answers. And if you'll show me yours, I'll show you mine.