Who’s Afraid of James Baldwin? (No Name In The Street)

James Baldwin

In No Name In The Streets Baldwin attempts to bear witness to the tumultuous and decadent era of the Civil Rights Movement. Baldwin discusses his whereabouts during the murders of 3 of the movement’s most influential titanic figures – Malcolm, Medgar, and Martin; he discusses his involvement; philosophizes the meaning of the movement -and its key players, what impact it had on all Americans – and ultimately how it changed his (already cynical, detached and disenchanted) attitude on the possibility of America ever achieving racial harmony.

Baldwin anchors his story (a historical glance at an era of systemic deep racism, hatred, and oppression) in the dubious innocence of an old Harlem buddy who has fled to Germany to escape a murder rap (which is essentially and interestingly a gay-hate crime that Baldwin – a known homosexual – leaves unchecked and unexplored). Eventually, the suspect is apprehended, extradited back to New York, and is convicted for the crime of which Baldwin is never really certain of his innocence. Or, for Baldwin, it doesn’t really matter as much as does the symbolism of the (possible) acquittal. Baldwin is much more concerned with the American judicial system (and its evil and wicked relation to the McCarthy phenomenon) and, more specifically, the infamously corrupt New York court system, under which his buddy is to be tried.

For Baldwin, who has come to know firsthand just how crooked the white American cop can be – when no one is looking – he seems more interested in getting his buddy off the hook just for the purpose of sticking it to the (il)legal system – one that has victimized, murdered and destroyed more black men than anything else – whether his buddy is innocent or not. So, for Baldwin, his buddy’s innocence is predicated on the thought that, guilty or not, he deserves to be set free because he will never get a fair trail in a system which is designed to disbelieve thus imprison him by virtue of his skin color. For Baldwin, his buddy becomes a symbol of protest and rebellion against the American legal system for its unending history of injustice to the black sojourn in America….click here to continue…

bell hooks, Kerouac and Denicio Barbier: A Brief Discussion with Black Atlantic Cultural Aestheticist, Jana Sante

JS: So, what’s your new book about? And I gather you regard bell’s voice as credible because unlike some of these other screaming feminist scribes, Ms. hooks has much more of an Oracle feel about her? I wonder. Who ranks supreme in your upper-echelon list of male scribes?

Jana Sante

PNR: Denicio Barbier – the new book – is loosely based on a woman I met in Arizona. I’d gone out there to write my first book, get away from the existential meaninglessness of Detroit, find myself, and eat good Mexican food. For shelter, I took lodge on a Native American reservation for free rent in exchange for a promise of early morning rising to make community coffee, tend to the elders, and herd the sheep until late afternoon. Afterwards, I’d write and explore the vastness of land. Once every two weeks I’d drive into town – a three hour drive – to get supplies, water, and mail letters to the outside world. Also, I would sometimes drive to Ahwataukee for a beer, chicken wings, and the Carvin Jones blues band. That’s where I met Denicio, an attractive sista with a Brooklyn accent, who told me she was from the Hamptons. I didn’t believe her because she didn’t seem polished like that, and she didn’t have educated or sophisticated diction. She was very urban, chic, and more believably situated in the lower class bracket of Brooklyn or Harlem rather than upper-crust Hamptons. I really didn’t care because she had a great figure, nice ass, pretty mouth and a sexy accent. So, over the course of the summer I’d make it a habit of meeting her at that bar, and eventually at her apartment. In short, she was the most dynamic, exotic, and mysterious woman I’ve ever met. So, she is the basis of my story. Later I met more Denicio’s, and I begin to think of women, in terms of the things that connect them. As for my favorite male writers, I’d say James Baldwin, Edgar Poe, Cornel West, Chinua Achebe, Woody Allen, and Capote….(click here to continue)

Dying on the Edge: Maggie, Pathology…and Francine’s Craft

She must be his mistress. Certainly not the wife. He hugged her too closely. Too passionately…. lovingly. He smiled and blushed. She melted in his arms, gushing in the tenderness of his sweet embrace. They barely noticed when I sat my small travel bag beside her in seat 26A. C/B/A 26 was located at the point of a side-exit door, and the three of us had bargained with the flight attendant (for the privilege to sit near the exit door) that we could lift more than 50 pounds, and that we would gladly and willingly help other passengers to safety in case of a landing emergency. Such a strange request. If the plane had to make an “emergency landing” (a euphemism for “OH MY FUCKING GOD!!! THE PLANE IS CRASHING AND WE’RE ALL GONNA FUCKING DIE!!) I would be too thrilled and grateful to aid survivors from a wrecked airplane crash, wouldn’t one think?.

Loverboy couldn’t keep his hands off of Dirty Diana. She looked 45 years old, sun-bleached blond, modest tits slightly exposed under a soft blue cashmere button-up resting over her arms and shoulders,  snuggled, caressing her feminine mystique.   She finally looked up at me, smiling as though she were concealing some forbidden secret. She had nice teeth, great smile, slender hips, polished toes, French manicure, and young-girl legs with cool zippers on her jeans. Her purple leotard top had a gaudy broach resting at the middle of her supple cleavage, and she flashed me a wicked smile when I turned to sit next to her. She looked like a young Nancy Sinatra, I thought to myself, noticing a bottle of water, a cup of oatmeal bran, and a Home Journal magazine resting on her lap. She had nice poise – not a Sophisticated Lady, though – and I could certainly see why he was infatuated with her. He held on to her tightly, so affectionate and tender and loving, as though he did not want to lose her for anything in the world. This woman did not seem to be his wife. He wore an expensive wedding ring, her wedding finger was bare. I smiled at the obviousness of their secret love affair, and I wondered if his wife would be waiting for him at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Perhaps there would be children too. Daddy, daddy! Welcome home! I took my seat beside Romeo and Juliet, read last-minute texts, set my music, and pulled out my latest review copy of Francine Craft’s Dying On The Edge….(click on book to continue on June 6)