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Sunday, October 3, 2010


and the blacks unlimited

Another day that went by too fast. For some odd reason I sat for 2.5 hours and watched 2012, "the best disaster movie ever," watched it despite recognizing at the beginning I'd seen it. Started watching it being lazy, then continued watching because it was constantly compelling, kept interest rolling. It's not like I'd give it more than 3 stars on the netflix scale of 5. It must have cost a fortune to produce. Special effects. For my taste special effects equals special ed. They're always artificial looking, like ocean waves crashing over the Himalayas: give me a break. Big tsunamis drenched all the earth and the water level presumably rose a very great deal and Africa raised something like a thousand feet, floating like an innertube on the risen water. Whatever. Of course, the kid in it was named Noah. At the start was the notice that it was rated R "for intense disaster sequences." It's a children's movie. Then they rate it so kids can't see it in a theater. Kids can only see it at home after the thrill of the new is gone. I don't try to understand much anymore. Too much is incomprehensible.

From there I painted a bit, then came to the computer and found a Thomas Mapfumo video performing his song Moyo Wango. He's from Zimbabwe. Back when Rhodesia had white rule Mapfumo was a rebel singer, sang about putting out the white government and taking it over by blacks. His band is the Blacks Unlimited. Kinda racist, but he's African, exempt from American middle class morality. Unfortunately when the revolution occurred and the white landowners and government people were killed or run back to Europe, the new government by blacks was headed by a dictator, worse, inept, took everything for himself, dropped the entire country into the worst kind of poverty and unrealistic inflation. Mapfumo as an entertainer survived everything he stood for before it all fell down around him.

What do you do when you struggle for what you believe to be the good of your country and your people, and then it's worse than even possible for it to be? I hope our Supreme Court experienced at least a little remorse for giving the 2000 election to the loser after seeing the mayhem the Bush-Cheney-Rummy triumvirate unleashed on the American people and our democracy, if they care, which I see no evidence of. We're the thick-fingered masses that didn't go to Yale or Harvard. Resistance to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is lethal. Mapfumo's music continues to be good music. Real music. Flowing music. It's music that sets the body in motion, head nodding to the rhythm, feet tapping, a kind of swimming in the flow of the smooth rhythm. Mapfumo uses a thumb piano (mbira) in his band. It's a hand-held device played by the thumb, an instrument particular to traditional Zimbabwean music. Electric guitars, drums, horns and dancing girls on stage compose the Blacks Unlimited.

At amazon where I borrowed the above picture I found they had sources for out of print copies of Skeeter & the Skidmarks album, Hubbin It. They also had from Alternate Roots, Tales of Love and Sorrow, Branching Out and Another Dirt Road (expensive prices on this one). Next week Skeeter & the Skidmarks are playing at the Front Porch Gallery. I'll tell some people who go there who have been asking about finding some Skeeter or Alternate Roots cds. Both bands were Willard and Scott's bands. Willard and Scott have been a musical team for a long time, at least 20 years. They make music with as smooth a rhythmic flow as Mapfumo's Blacks Unlimited, just more in a Whites Unlimited sort of way. As poverty tends to bring the music out in people, I wonder about the music in small Zimbabwean towns when they're writhing in the agonies of poverty. The music must be something extraordinary.

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