Kind of blue

As I lit up a joint and opened a beer this afternoon, I got an insight into why alcoholism and other addictions are so popular: it gets so we can’t really tolerate living unless were high on something. This is no accident. The triangular trade, dating from 1560, defined as follows, was the foundational transaction for capitalism in the Americas:

  • New Englanders manufactured and shipped rum to the west coast of Africa in exchange for slaves.
  • The slaves were taken on the ‘Middle Passage’ to the West Indies where they were sold for molasses/sugar and money.
  • The molasses would be sent to New England to make rum and start the entire system of trade all over again

I’ve been wallowing in the blues since the election. Listening to Miles Davis helps, his blues an achingly beautiful midnight cry being among the most significant achievements of those times, back when America was “great.” That culture, like all of them, steeped in addiction.

It’s not just substances. Without addictive consumerism, capitalism would collapse in a minute.

So I worry about us. I suspect I’m not alone in consuming more alcohol and marijuana since the election. Listening to Miles, Billie, Coltrane, the cultural advance guard that led the Sixties Revolution. Thankfully not ready for the heroin that fueled those geniuses, fueled or fouled – and continues to do so to this day. Maybe I’m projecting, but I hear a hopelessness in early Miles, as he plays Cole Porter and George Gershwin and squeezes the blues out of those somewhat innocuous ballads, a hopelessness reflective of the pre-Civil Rights movement time in Black America. Once the struggle heated up, Ornette Coleman, Coltrane, Eric Dolphy exploded the music as a cry for freedom.

We like to talk about fascism in connection with Trump, but in doing so, we fail to recognize that Black and Native people have been living under a fascist regime since 1650 or so, and in fact U.S. racial laws were admired and copied by Hitler.

So, we’re at 1955 and Rosa hasn’t sat down yet. It’s coming, though, folks, the resurgent movement. Challenging Trump in the Electoral College and all the Russia stuff seems like a huge waste of time and energy to me, but it’s good to illegitimize his regime before it gets too strong a foothold.

But we still need to grieve, to feel our depression, to own our discouragement, to recognize ALL of our culpability in allowing this situation to happen. Then we need to fight like hell. Listen to “Kind of Blue,” cry your eyes out, but get the fuck ready for “A Love Supreme.” Listen to Nina singing “I Loves You Porgy,” but get the fuck ready for “Mississippi Goddamn.”

 

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