Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Marvin X on the teachings of Black Arts Movement Master Sun Ra

Friday, July 15, 2011

What did Sun Ra teach?

He taught me the need for discipline in the artistic life, not freedom. He told me to stop teaching my actors freedom when discipline was needed. He demonstrated discipline by keeping his band together for over twenty years. When I got him to take a young actor of mine on European tour, he sent the very talented singer/musician home because he lacked discipline. He taught me not to be so moral, especially when I took a scene out of my musical with a sex scene. He was horrified that I had done so. He said, "Marvin you so right you wrong. That scene was the best one in the play. That's what people want, a little dirt. They don't want to truth, they want the low down dirty truth."

Most importantly, he taught the importance of mythology and ritual theatre, breaking down that fourth wall and merging with the audience, becoming one and indivisible, thus reaching the level of African communal theatre wherein there is no audience, only the community. His Arkestra, including poets, singers, dancers, and mixed media, expanded the potential of black theatre. It was a great experience performing with an Arkestra as opposed to simply reading solo or even with a small band. This is no doubt why I can only conceive of theatre as extravaganza in terms of performance, space and time.

Imagine being able to work with some of the greatest musicians in the world, aside from Sun Ra himself, there was John Gilmore, Danny Thompson, June Tyson, and Marshall Allen. See my DVD Live in Philly at Warmdaddy's, which I call 39 minutes of Jazz history. The set included Marshall Allen and Danny Thompson, along with bagpipe legend Rufus Harley and myself reading poetry. Also Elliott Bey, Ancestor Goldsky and Alexander El.

We can say that Sun Ra had a profound influence on the Black Arts Movement coast to coast. He was a founding member of Amiri Baraka's Black Arts Theatre in Harlem as well as a worker at my Black Educational Theatre in the Fillmore.
--Marvin X
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marvin X and his Chief Mentor, Sun Ra, 1972

Those who have a problem understanding the complexity of Marvin X need only understand he was a student and colleague of Sun Ra, the bandleader of the Arkestra that Marvin X performed with on the east coast and west coast. Sun Ra worked with Marvin X at his Black Educational Thearte in the Fillmore, 1972. Sun Ra did the musical version of his play Flowers for the Trashaman, retitled Take Care of Business.

Sun Ra and Marvin X did a five hour production of Take Care of Business at the Harding Theatre on Divisadero Street in San Francisco, 1972. Sun Ra also told Marvin X he would be hired to lecture in the Black Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Marvin X doubted Sun Ra since Gov. Ronald Reagan had banned him from teaching at Fresno State College in 1969, the same year he banned Angela Davis from teaching at UCLA. Marvin X did indeed teach at UCB and his off campus class was at his Black Educational Theatre in the Fillmore. Sun Rn worked with him and the Harding Theatre concert was a five hour show without intermission, that consisted of a fifty member cast, including the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Ellendar Barnes dancers, along with the Raymond Saywer dancers and the Marvin X actors.

Academy of Da Corner Episode #2: Broken Systems, Broken Minds

Broken Systems, Broken Minds

by Marvin X

What we perceive as reality is most often a reflection of imagination, of mythology and ritual, or simply the mind of man is the macrocosm, reality the microcosm. Systems thus reflect the mind of man--did not someone say creations only reflect the mind of the creator. Broken systems, therefore, originate in broken minds. Yet we wonder why systems are broken, e.g., school system, political system, economic system, religious and moral systems.

But systems are not the problem, rather it is the minds of men that are broken irreparably, suffering a mental atrophy, an anorexia, a paralysis of imagination. The causation is simple greed, selfishness and lust for power. It is augmented by the quest for the acquisition of things, the wanton addiction to materialism or the world of make believe, the illusion that the microcosm can satisfy the macrocosm, when the real deal holyfield is the inner rather than the outer. Yet men fear to go there, deep down into the metaphysical realm where the darkest mysteries lie seeking edification and recognition. Thus, we find ourselves at the precipice, about to be consumed by the wonder of life.

Elijah told us, "The wisdom of this world is exhausted." And so it is--spent, obsolete, retarded, and yet we wonder why we are immobile, transfixed--stuck on stupid! Why no systems work.
How is it possible for the great Toyota to need recalling, a consummate machine suddenly dysfunctional. What caused this sudden breakdown-- some internal defect in the machine or in the mind of man?

Look at the educational system, confounded by the ideological foundation of white supremacy capitalism that continues to prepare students for a world of work when there is none, especially with living wages in an economic system that demands cheap labor and resources, a socalled free market system that will transcend the national needs for the wants and desires of global finance gangs, connected with, supported and defended by the military, i.e., the Christian Crusaders, soon to be supplanted by Communists from China, India and Russia.

The teachers were long ago taught to teach a new way--back in Egypt they were told to teach with compassion and love. Yet what we see today is the pedagogy of hate. It is a system that rewards ignorance and punishes wisdom and creativity, especially of the thinking variety. Any original thought is suppressed or deemed antisocial thought and behavior, often resulting in the student diagnosed to require psycho drugs that turn him into the zombie required by the society of the walking dead.

The religious system is the same. It is in full blown denial about the meaning of the cross and the lynching tree, about the mission of the prince of peace. For the most part, the religious community is Silent Night about the trillion dollar military budget that allows mass murder to take place across the planet. Along with Silent Night, it sings Onward Christian Soldiers as its sons and daughters crisscross the planet to secure labor and natural resources for the pleasure of the walking dead, and most especially the miserable few who enjoy the high life.

It is all about the glorification of Pharaoh and his magicians. God, in the minds of men, is a business, big business. There is no desire for spirituality, only prosperity, minus compassion for the poor, homeless, jobless and broken hearted, crushed to earth like the pot in the hands of Jeremiah at the gates of his city.

In the minds of politicians, there is no compromise, only preparation for the next election, or the assumption or resumption of power at any and all costs, no lie is exempt, "Vote for me, I'll set you free!" All bribes are acceptable--politicians are thus loyal to lobbyists, not the people who are expendable.

The lips of politicians do not say let us reason together for the sake of the people, for the love of the people, for the consent of the governed. These men and women of the political realm only know the language of no, no, no. As the people starve, become homeless, jobless, we yet hear the mantra of no, no, no, late into the night. No compromise, no reconciliation, only recalcitrance and niggardliness. They are fast to reward the robber barons, the blood suckers of the poor. Eventually, a few crumbs, kibble and bits reach the poor, if ever, unless there is revolt. And then Pharaoh sees the light, suddenly, but he will send his magicians to placate the poor with more crumbs, kibbles and bits.

Between good and evil, evil is the choice, with greed the foundation stone in the minds of men. Amazingly, the people see clearly. They feel change in the wind, not the change in the educational system or the political or religious, but in the wind. They smell the rotten hearts of men who lead into nothingness and dread, with their pitiful strut of the peacock, the one legged dance of the flamingo.

Pharaoh magicians gather in dens of iniquity to share blood money. Teachers, preachers, politicians, all there to party on the backs of the poor. The military stand post at the door of the den, ready to club the wretched into submission, even death, if they dare enter the den of thieves, robbers, murderers, and those who perpetuate the world of make believe.

Inside the den we hear a symphony of sick sounds, giggles, wails, grunts emanating from putrid minds exhausted from wickedness. The result is systematic gridlock--it is 5pm and the freeway is jammed with drivers full of road rage, ready to kill in an instant. It is thus a destruction of self by self, internal combustion.

Unlike the car, there is no forward motion or backward, or perhaps it goes both ways simultaneously, if such is possible in the world of physics, but after all, the minds of men defy all laws, except the law of the jungle and the devil.

But there shall be no forward motion with the present mind-set. Jack must jump out the box of his own making. He must take wings and fly away into a world beyond his imagination.
This is the only way out the morass of his mind. All the technology is to no avail, for he talks, but more often says nothing, he listens but hears nothing, deaf, dumb and blind.
--Marvin X

Poet/playwright/educator/philosopher/planner Marvin X travels to Chicago on May 22 to participate in the Sun Ra Conference at the University of Chicago. He will perform with Sun Ra musicians Marshall Allen and Danny Thompson, also with David Boykin, conference  planner.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Inmates oMembers of the Sun Ra Jail will be in the University of Chicago Sun Ra celebration: Marshall Alen, Danny Thompson, Marvin X, et al.

www. blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com

Marvin X and son of Chicago's BPP Chairman, Fred Hampton, murdered in a police shootout.
Black Panther Cub will host a reception for Black Liberation/Black Arts Movement Elder Marvin X in Chicago while he attends the University of Chicago celebration of Black Arts Movement Master Sun Ra. Marvin X had a long artistic association with Sun Ra and his Myth-Science Arkestra and will perform with surviving Arkestra members Marshall Allen and Danny Thompson, along with David Boykin and other Chicago musicians and poets.

Notes on Slave Narratives from Marvin X's Academy of da Corner

 Young brothers at Marvin X's Academy of da Corner, reading the Oakland Post Newspaper
photo by Gene Hazzard

 Marvin X and son of Chicago's BPP Chairman, Fred Hampton, murdered in a police shootout.
Black Panther Cub will host a reception for Black Liberation/Black Arts Movement Elder Marvin X in Chicago while he attends the University of Chicago celebration of Black Arts Movement Master Sun Ra. Marvin X had a long artistic association with Sun Ra and his Myth-Science Arkestra and will perform with surviving Arkestra members Marshall Allen and Danny Thompson, along with David Boykin and other Chicago musicians and poets.

Black Arts Movement's poets/mythologists/philosophers Marvin X and Sun Ra

 Rev. Blandon Reemes, Academy of da Corner students/authors Aries Jordan, Latoya Carter and Master Teacher Marvin X, on a visit to Alameda County Juvenile Hall to give out books from North American African authors, donated by the Post Newsgroup, published by Paul Cobb.

 Linda Johnson, dancer, choreographer, dancer Raynetta Rayzetta, Val Serrant, Tumani, drummers
at the 75th birthday celebration of Amiri Baraka at the Lush Live Gallery, San Francisco, produced by Marvin X.

Aries Jordan, one of the students at Academy of Da Corner that Marvin X has mentored.
She survived the Wild Crazy Ride of the Marvin X Experience to publish two books and have a male child, Legend Muhammad.

 Marvin X and Academy of da Corner students Toya Prosperity and Aries Jordan, reading poetry at the Memorial for Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Los Angeles Black Panther Party Leader, at Oakland's Bobby Hutton Park, aka Defermery Park.

Bay Area Black Authors, Artists, Activists celebrate the life of slain journalist Chauncey Bailey at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin, Oakland.
photo Gene Hazzard and Adam Turner

 Comrade George Jackson, Messiah of the American Prison Movement

 Marvin X as bandleader with the Black Arts Movement Poet's Choir and Arkestra
performing at the Malcolm X Jazz/Art Festival, Oakland, May, 2014

Cornel West's first cousin Kwame Satterfield is Marvin X's stepson. Ase!

I am so horrified at the tales people tell me at Academy of da Corner, whether at Oakland's 14th and Broadway, the upscale Lakeshore Academy or in Berkeley at the ASHBY BART STATION. We are at all locations when we feel like it (prerogative of the Senior Citizen).

The unresolved grief and traumatic stress narratives presented to me in the various locations of Academy of da Corner, are overwhelming to say the least. Yes, some of the tales and stores are beyond tragedy, yet Cheikh Anta Diop taught us there is no African tragedy, only tragi-comedy, for the Southern Cradle believes in tragi-comedy. Tragedy is a concept from the Northern Cradle, Europe, thus it has no place in African mythology.

Perhaps, one day I can present testimonies in the first person, especially since I am pushing the suffering oppressed to write their narratives of how I survived, the essential theme in North Amrican literature, beginning with the socalled Slave Narratives, we say the Narratives of North American Africans caught in the American Slave System (Ed Howard term). I tell them to write one page a day. They said, how can I do this? I say turn off the phone, get the lover off your shoulder, put them out the room for an hour or two, do not show them what you are writing, write, write, write. Got blockage? Get some Henny, weed or Blizo! No writer's block up in here!

Marvin X's Ten Points for Survival in the Streets of Babylon, USA

Ten Points for Youth Survival in the Street

Marvin X at his Academy of da Corner,
14th and Broadway, Oakland, with one of his top students,
brother Jermaine Cash. Author Ishmael Reed says, " Don't spend all that money attending seminars and workshops, if you want motivation and inspiration, just go stand at 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland, and watch Marvin X at work. He's Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland." Bob Holman calls him, "The USA's Rumi, Saadi and Hafiz...." Rudolph Lewis says, "I would put him ahead of Mark Twain, even, as a story teller."

Ten Points for Youth Survival

1. Before going into the street, put on the amour of God or Spiritual consciousness,i.e., yea thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. The Lord is my rod and staff.

2. Be aware of your surroundings. Two are better than one, for if you stumble and fall, who shall lift you up? Do not stay long in unfamiliar places with strange people.

3. Be conscious of the tone test with the police, e.g., if they stop you for any reason, one of three things can happen depending on your tone of voice: they can kill you, arrest you or release you.

4. Be conscious of the tone test with another brother or sister: they can kill you, bum rush you or greet you in peace.

5. Do not wear sagging pants that prevent you from running or fighting. The ghetto, sad to say, is a war zone or hostile environment. Do not pretend you are in La La Land. There are mind fields everywhere, so try not to be in a mind altered state. It is best to be cold sober on the street.

6. Respect elders and do not take liberties with women.

7. Help the poor, say a kind word to the broken hearted.

8. At all times, be a soldier in the army of the Lord.

9. Pray going out and coming in. Be thankful you made it back home safely.

10. Make your home the No Stress Zone.

--Marvin X, Prime Minister, First Poet's Church of the Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists

Marvin X at University of Chicago Conference on Black Arts Movement Master Sun Ra 101st Earthday

Marvin X and Sun Ra at Marvin's Black Educational Theatre, San Francisco, CA 1972. Sun Ra arranged the musical version of Marvin's Flowers for the Trashman, retitled Take Care of Business. Both also lectured at the University of California, Berkeley in Black Studies, 1971-72.

 BAM poet Marvin X with his Poet's Choir and Arkestra, featuring David Murray and Earle Davis, all three were associated with San Ra. This performance is from Oakland's Malcolm X Jazz/Art Festival, 2014
David Boykin, Sun Ra Conference project director