Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Part II and III: Jazz and Blackness-- No Jazz in the Crack House and Savior Sonny Simmons

Part II: Jazz and Blackness--

No Jazz in the Crack house

The heroin addicts love jazz, the Crack heads hated jazz and all other music, including speech. Long before I became a Crack head, I noticed when I came into the Crack din no one looked up or even acknowledged I was in the room. Only silence and the passing of the pipe from one Crack head to another. Absolutely, there was no music played since the psychosis necessitated silence, for one had to listen for sounds that didn't exist, only in our warped minds. We imagined police were at the door, or that friends were outside the door plotting to kill us. We even thought the friends or Crack heads at the table were whispering about how to kill us, since they knew we had money. We imagined our girlfriend was knocking at the door, so we went to the door to let her in but no one was there, only the rustling leaves on the tree in the yard.

This drama went on for twelve years, no music, no sounds, no talking, sometimes no sex since we couldn't function sexually--our shit was like silly putty under the influence of Crack. No human touch for years, only the daily hustle for dope money. We wonder how was it possible for a Crack head to hustle money every day of his Crack life, but once clean and sober he is broke.

And so the music I loved was no longer part of my life, only the silence in the wind and the madness of my mind. And yet I had become accustomed to life without music so that even upon recovery, it would be years before I could listen to jazz. When I did listen to music it was P and D music, as Sun Ra called popular music, Pussy and Dick music. Only now, 2012, have I seriously returned to jazz, the music so necessary for my consciousness, spirituality and mental health.

As I said in Part I, we Black Arts poets styled ourselves after the jazz musicians. Even now, I try to write like they play, to go as far out as I can go with my words on paper. I am consciously trying to write like Coltrane, Parker and Miles played, to take the mind to the outer limits, to jump out of the box of white supremacy psycholinguistics, in short, to transcend the english language, or even if I use the devil tongue, I will flip the script, reverse the meaning of words, say the wildest shit that can come to my mind, of course a little Henny helps! lol. One thing about that Henny, there shall be no writer's block--you will tell the truth, even if  it will frighten you to death in the morning when you read some of the shit you've written. Often you must hit delete several times to not reveal too much truth, as a judge friend says I do too much.
--Marvin X

Part III: Savior Sonny Simmons

I just recalled that on one occasion during those Crack years I did connect with jazz. I used to live in one of those SRO hotels near San Francisco's Union Square, near Geary and Grant. During this time I would be in my room smoking Crack, separating from reality. Then many nights I would hear the most melodious music imaginable. It was so beautiful I would take a break from the Crack pipe to run outside to find the source of the music. It was sax man Sonny Simmons playing on the corner. Sometimes it seemed his music was floating in the night fog, drawing me to where he played. I was so in awe of the beauty he expressed that I was forced to give him a donation because I knew his music was trying to save me. This happened many nights that I would be forced to stop my madness and go out to give him a donation. Now Sonny may have had his own problems since many street hustlers are dope fiends, especially musicians, but it didn't matter to me because I needed to hear Sonny's sounds like a thirsty man needs water. Not long ago Sonny and Amiri Baraka performed together at Eastside Arts Center and I reminded him of those days and what I used to do when I heard him. It was like a private concert that temporarily liberated me from my madness. Thank you, Sonny.
--Marvin X

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