An Open Letter to Branford Marsalis . . .

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you An Open Letter to Branford Marsalis.

WARNING: This broadcast contains no obscenities (unlike Branford’s last JazzTimes interview which is replete with the usage of  “F” and “S” bombs.)

‘Sup, Branford:

First, let me thank you for restating my argument and making my point for me. Now allow me to completely dismantle most everything you’ve said about Black American music and Nicholas Payton–with your own words.

On The Black Issues Forum . . .

There was a video someone hipped me to several months back with you speaking on #BAM. This was in the heat of the fire when I was getting blasted from all sides on the issue of Black American music. I addressed several “open letters” to many of the dissenters. I didn’t comment on every attack because they were so numerous it would have consumed all of my time and I didn’t want to indulge in any more negative energy than I deemed necessary. Though it was very tempting for me to outline point-by-point the fallacy in your statements, I decided I would let it go. (Video posted below).

It’s interesting that in this video right before your attack of the idea of Black American music, you say “I didn’t grow up with the idea of genre. . . . Genres don’t really exist. Human beings, for whatever the reason, we feel comfort in categorization. I think probably because it allows us not to have to think too much.” Exactly, Branford. I agree. You go on to say, “We all live in these narrow worlds that we consider large and expansive, and then something occurs that is about to expand your world, and you say ‘No, no, no, no, no. I have my world right here. I don’t need you coming in here and messing up what I know because then that’s going to change everything that I think. But then there’s those people who are just like, ‘Man, there’s so much I don’t know; let’s go get some of this, let’s go get some of that. Let’s go find out about this.’ And, I always had that kind of curiosity and I was lucky enough to live in a city where it embraced that idea.”

It’s interesting you note in the above video that some people reject a broader perspective because a more expanded view forces them to change the way they’ve looked at something their whole lives and they don’t want to have to think about reevaluating their views. Isn’t that exactly what you’ve done with #BAM? How ironic!

Well, Branford, I’m from that same city you speak of; born in a musical family just like you. Our fathers played music together, they both taught music in the Orleans Parish Public School System, and embraced a genre-free ideal of Black music.

You fundamentally agree with everything that I’ve said, but why the dissent? It doesn’t diminish your shine to acknowledge someone else’s brilliance. It takes a real man to recognize that there are other cats of note who are torchbearers. It’s particularly reminiscent of that way The “Marsalis” Coterie attempts to control the conversation and dismisses anyone who disagrees–that I’m all too familiar with. It’s easier to be dismissive of a new idea than to admit that maybe you’ve been wrong in your thinking, especially if someone else made that proposition.

You said that I said my point of view is superior to all other points of view because I am Black. This is a lie. Nowhere did I say that. Nor did I say people of other races can’t play this music. In fact, I’ve made it explicitly clear that anyone can play this music, but Black people created it. This is not a point of view or an opinion, this is a fact. You may not like the way I said it, but this was historically well-documented before I was born.

You also reference a question I posed on Facebook which was: “Why doesn’t Mulgrew Miller get the love that Brad Mehldau gets?” This was not to attack Brad as much as it was to highlight the fact that–though it is a Black American art form–it is controlled and dominated by Whites. These are stems of colonialism and imperialism that have plagued Black people since they crossed the shores of the Atlantic from Africa. You made the same observation while in attendance at a Michael Brecker concert where you asked your pianist, Joey Calderazzo, if John Coltrane would have gotten the same amount of standing ovations.

A slight sidebar, but worth discussion: You say that Americans don’t feel a need to support nationalist superiority and we haven’t had wars fighting for national sovereignty? What about the Cold War? Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Vietnam? The Middle East? Wow, you really bought into American White denial, haven’t you? This revisionist idea that America is the land of the free. America is the capital of imperialism and nationalism. Were it not for American nationalism, Black people wouldn’t even be here. Even a perfunctory knowledge of American history would enable you to see that. Next thing you’ll be saying is not only did Christopher Columbus discover America, but he invented jazz.

You close your argument by saying that Blackness in America is a cultural identity, and I completely agree. Black American music is not a genre, it is the truth. It’s not a style, it’s a communal expression that evolved from slaves who were transplanted from Africa to America. It is not African music. It is not African-American music. It is Black American music. This is not territorial any more than saying Afro-Cuban music, Brazilian music, Celtic music, or any other music of ethnic origin.

On The JazzTimes Article . . .

Bill Milkowski, the journalist, asked what your thoughts were on my supposed “diatribe,” and before he could finish the question, you say: “There’s no topic there. There’s nothing there.” That’s interesting. A year after I started the conversation, you’re still talking about it. There must be something there for you to have already had an opinion raring to go. You say it doesn’t matter, but the fact that it’s Black American music is actually the most important part. This music was fundamental in breaking down the climate of racial oppression all over the world. It’s the world’s first popular music and instrumental in making the White race reexamine its position of people of color not being human.

A key thing that many don’t seem to understand is that Black American music is not a replacement for the term “Jazz”. It is the umbrella under which all manner of the Black American musical aesthetic lives. Gospel, Blues, so-called Jazz, Bebop, R&B, Soul, and Hiphop are the same communal expression of the same people. The only things that differ are the eras and the individuals who created it.

The whole premise of the proposition of Black American music are two basic facts: 1) Jazz is a disdainful term of dubious origin. 2) Black Americans created it.

As LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”

“What does Jazz mean to you when I come up behind you: ‘Jazz,’ I say, ‘what does that do to you? That doesn’t explain the music. But let me tell you one thing: Jazz, that’s a name the white people have given to the music. There’s two kinds of music. There’s classic and there’s ragtime. When I tell you ragtime, you can feel it, there’s a spirit right in the word…But Jazz, ­ Jazz could mean any damn’ thing: high times, screwing, ballroom. It used to be spelled Jass…”

- Sidney Bechet

“By and large, jazz always has been like the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with. The word ‘jazz’ has been part of the problem. In the 1920s I used to try to convince Fletcher Henderson that we ought to call what we were doing ‘Negromusic.’ But it’s too late for that now. This music has become so integrated you can’t tell one part from the other so far as color is concerned.”

- Duke Ellington

So what I propose is absurd? But are Bechet and Ellington absurd? If there was nothing there, why were they talking about this decades before we were born?

If you look in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, every synonym for “JAZZ” is a pejorative:

Synonyms: applesauce [slang], balderdash, baloney (also boloney), beans, bilge, blah (also blah-blah), blarney, blather, blatherskite, blither, bosh, bull [slang], bunk, bunkum (or buncombe), claptrap, codswallop [British], crapola [slang], crock, drivel, drool, fiddle, fiddle-faddle, fiddlesticks, flannel [British], flapdoodle, folderol (also falderal), folly, foolishness, fudge, garbage, guff, hogwash, hokeypokey, hokum, hoodoo, hooey, horsefeathers [slang], humbug, humbuggery, nonsense, malarkey (also malarky), moonshine, muck, nerts [slang], nuts, piffle, poppycock, punk, rot, rubbish, senselessness, silliness, slush, stupidity, taradiddle (or tarradiddle), tommyrot, tosh, trash, trumpery,  twaddle.

Black American music wasn’t called “JAZZ” to begin with . . .

“I moved back home with my mother. I was working at Tom Anderson’s Cabaret ­ located on ‘Rampart…Lots of Big Shots from Lulu White’s used to come there…And I was playing the Cornet. We played all sorts of arrangements T’wasn’t called ‘Jazz’ back there in those days They played a whole lot of Ragtime music. We called it Dixie ­ Jazz, in the later years.”

- Louis Armstrong

You said if I think changing the name will make people like it, that’s absurd. When you take into account many people don’t like it–not because of how it sounds–but because it’s “Jazz,” it makes sense that a title more fitting would give it new life and get people to see the continuum of Black American music in a new light. I’m not saying a name change is a cure-all, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

The most ridiculous thing that you said–and there are many–is:

“If you believe there are people making decisions about music based on cultural ignorance or arrogance, then there is an argument to be made for that. The whole idea of European jazz is that argument. You have people who say they want to play jazz and at the same time they want to pretend that Black American culture doesn’t even exist and has no part of the discussion.”

Branford, I have a solution to that argument: Stop calling it “JAZZ” and call it Black American music. End. Of. Argument. Thanks again for outlining the whole impetus behind the Black American music movement.

You sight a story about a friend of yours who was told by a professor that the diminished chord has been used in Jazz since Lennie Tristano and Bill Evans. When the student sighted Duke Ellington, the teacher told him if he did, it was a mistake! Before all of them did it, Dippermouth Blues used the diminished chord in its intro.

Saying, “When Black musicians used this chord was a mistake,” is racial coding for, “Those Negroes aren’t sophisticated enough to have known what they were doing.” With “mistakes” like this, perfection is overrated.

This is yet another reason why people need to know this is Black American music; calling it Jazz allows many to forget the people it comes from and makes the art subject to the kind of whitewashing we’ve seen in all corners of Black culture.

You say in school one of your teachers told you Charlie Parker played eighth-note triplets as the swing feel, to which you said, “Naw, that’s not true.” But the fluctuation of the triplet is exactly what set Charlie Parker apart from his predecessors. Ask Barry Harris. His whole pedagogy of Bebop is based on the triplet feel. 

Since you said I never qualify my arguments in musical terms–another lie–I did a piece (pre-#BAM movement) breaking down in specific musical terms the connection between Charlie Parker’s music and the triplet. See post: Dissertation On Bebop and Hiphop

You substantiated your claim by saying, “Because I played in orchestra, I know that [triplet] feel very well.” By orchestra, I assume you mean, classical. So you legitimize, or denigrate, a Black expression by the measure of a European litmus test? That’s a faulty analysis.

For more on the fallacy of applying European ideals to Black music: See http://nicholaspayton.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/on-the-european-influence-in-black-american-music/

A symptom of being oppressed is accepting the standards of your oppressor as your own. It’s the House Negro syndrome. “Bill Milkowski ( A White dude) calls Payton’s stance a diatribe, so I’ll call it a diatribe, as well.” Calling what I’ve said about Jazz a diatribe is racial coding for calling me an angry, Black man. Telling me I can further my argument just by playing my horn is code for, “Boy, do your job by playing that horn like a good Nigger should.”

“Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work. A silent slave is not liked by masters or overseers. ‘Make a noise, make a noise,’ are the words usually addressed to the slaves when there is silence among them.”

–Fredrick Douglass

What I do on the bandstand is exactly why the #BAM argument has had such life and traction; because I said it. Had some jackleg trumpeter said it, no one would care.

Instead of constantly trying to find fault in me–someone who has done his homework and represents a high level of artistic integrity–why not call to task the real people behind the problem in this music? I know why, because those are the folks who sign your paycheck. It’s the same reason the civil rights movement imploded on itself. You can’t get all Black people on board to further their liberation. The caste system has been deeply ingrained and most are more fearful of freedom than the plantation. Oppression survives because you can always find a “Tom” nigger to sell out his brother.

An oppressed mind speaks the language of their oppressors, adopts their mindset, and their vision of themselves is colored by the colonialist mentality they’ve been conditioned by. They don’t know themselves outside of their master’s vision of them. Any effort to deconstruct the distorted image is shunned as it’s easier to accept what they’ve been sold.

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”

–Assata Shakur

You criticized the rebuttal piece I did in reference to Ben Ratliff’s Four Pianists On The Rise, by saying what I chose to do is talk about their whiteness. Whose whiteness? Ratliff’s or the pianists’? My point was: it’s odd that on a list of “Jazz” pianists in New York City, no Black Americans were included. It would be tantamount to a list of best Mariachi bands with no Mexicans. I was clear to state that no one should have made the list just because they’re Black, but to have a list of up and coming pianists in an art form created by Black Americans and none are Black Americans? That’s absurd!

It speaks to the amount of control the White critical establishment has in saying who’s hot and who’s not; which is a vestige of colonialism. Not that what they say ultimately matters–but in terms of visibility for this music and its artists–it serves as a means of sustaining viability in a largely ignored field of practice.

The power of prophesy is not the ability to predict the future. It’s knowing history so well–you can sense when it’s coming back around again.

- Nicholas Payton

You say, “…whenever things are presented to me that are counter to my way of thinking, I don’t have to discredit it.” But that’s exactly what you’ve tried to do here, Branford. Discredit what I’ve said without even reading it first–by your own admission–and being fed second-hand information and having a knee-jerk reaction to it. In fact, what you’ve done is worse than discredit me. By saying, “There’s no topic there. There’s nothing there.” you don’t even recognize my voice. I’m as invisible to you as Clint Eastwood’s imaginary Obama in a chair.

To say it’s not a topic or it doesn’t matter, you sure have a lot to say about the subject.

You claim to have better things to do than to engage in subterfuge, but just about everything you’ve introduced as your stance against me and Black American music is subterfuge; an ad hominem argument that has little to do with what I’ve said and serves to deride me and derail the listeners toward your deceitful point of view.

Lauded as one of the “young lions” of the ’80s, the new millennium has shown you to bear more resemblance to a paper tiger.

1 #MFCOMN

This is a test. . . . Only a test.

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Creator of #BAM

Kunta Kinte Goes To Outer Space (Part II)

Let me just go ahead and say that just about anyone who has a TV to watch PBS is privileged relative to some of the atrocities others outside of America struggle with daily. Some who read my posts regularly may begin to think I’m anti-American because I’m so hard on my country, but to the contrary– I just believe we have yet to realize the full potential of who we are as a nation. Unlike many Conservatives, I empathize with the poor. But for all my empathy, like the Conservatives, I don’t believe that to be a reason to enable those in poverty. But what does poverty look like for Americans in 2012?

PBS = Pure Bull Shit

Because I don’t play the party game, I’m able to look at both sides of the situation. Many Republicans, who are statistically White folks, feel like if these poor folks (who are statistically people of color) can wear designer sneakers, over-indulge in food (albeit unhealthy) to the point of being overweight or obese in many cases, have Internet access, and have access to all the latest, greatest toys like iPads and iPhones, they have nothing to complain about. And to some degree, this is correct. And before some of you get all offended, really read what I’m saying. . . .

I don’t support the idea that being poor is synonymous with being lazy, feeling entitled and taking advantage of the system, but I do believe that many tend to exploit The System, as opposed to exploiting their resources.

A few bad seeds give a bad name to poor people at large. They make needing assistance a shameful, scornful existence for those who really do need it. Being that this is America, all of her citizens benefit from First World privilege in 2012, regardless of where they sit on the class scale. And privilege is most often accompanied with a sense that certain things don’t have to be earned for they’re entitled to you. Americans love to state what they have right to while having the privilege of not being aware that in many other places people are most concerned with their basic needs being met.

Exposure > Access + Excess

As a result of the aforementioned, there seems to be this fundamental debate between most folks on access versus excess. But, to me, there is something larger that speaks to the source of the problem: exposure. You can have access to the point of excess, but without being exposed to things of quality, it all means nothing. When you’re exposed to quality, you’re given an opportunity to experience the finer things in life. You’re blessed with a chance to be able to develop a taste for and appreciate the beautiful subtleties that make life so sweet and dynamic. But just because you’re exposed to it, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll take advantage.

Entitlement has an uncanny way of polarizing folks who appear to be on opposite extremes of the economic grid. It is my feeling that these seemingly different types have more in common than not. I’ve seen rich White people saunter across the street before moving traffic the same way poor Black folks do. Both possess an aloofness while walking slowly in front of your vehicle while daring you to hit them at the same time. No matter how you slice it, ignorance is ignorance. The amount of bread in the bank may determine your class, but it doesn’t determine who has class in the end.

Love Me Tender . . .

Romney and Obama both speak of American citizens like they’re mice that need to be guided through a maze. The primary difference is that the Republican philosophy is based on the idea that you make it through the best way you can, and the Democrat’s is that you’re not smart enough to make it on your own.

As a result, the majority of American people are treated like baby veal– kept in dark and dimly lit areas, confined to quarters with limited space to move around in so that they remain tender, vulnerable and never able to develop the muscle to self-sustain. Instead of  creating policy that will enable the majority of American citizens to achieve what both candidates have for themselves and their families, Romney and Obama shield that information from the public thus placing themselves in positions of power. You can have access to the information, you can have an excess of information– but without exposure to the right information– your chances of breaking beyond the middle are slim.

You can take the chains off of the slave, you can release a person from prison, but they won’t truly be free until they are exposed to choice of quality.

What Poverty Looks Like . . .

If you define poverty as the absence of quality, most people in America would qualify as impoverished. Lack of monetary resources is the most obvious form of poverty, but it’s also the quickest to cure. Getting money is easy, but changing an impoverished mindset is next to impossible. The American society has devolved as a whole because its people have fallen victim to an impoverished mindset.

This doesn’t happen by accident. This is the result of years and years of ignoring the symptoms and the American government conditioning its citizens to be culturally malnourished.

That’s Why Darkies Were Born

We are living in a cultural Dark Ages. Culture is the heart and soul of a community. When culture dies, a people die. It’s gotten so that the American mindset has become barren of the likes of the famines in the Horn of Africa. Both are political and have been used as a means of policing the people. Outsiders can raise money and bring temporary aid to the sick and hungry, but unless The System changes–whose inflation and greed caused the famine–the people will be starving soon again.

To be impoverished, is to have a lack of options and choice. Poverty is unnatural and manmade. Mother Earth is not set up for people to live in poverty. It’s the government’s greed that brings about poverty of the mind, poverty of the spirit, and causes the soul to starve to death.

Someone had to pick the cotton.
Someone had to plow the corn.
Someone had to slave and be able to sing.
That’s why darkies were born.

- Henderson & Brown

I would dare say darkies weren’t born, they were created.

. . . for more on why, tune-in to Part III.

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

Kunta Kinte Goes To Outer Space (Part I)

Everyone’s making a big deal about Romney pulling the plug on Big Bird. Mitt got Kunta Kinte all upset. My thing is: When has Obama ever made a big stance on supporting the arts? He certainly didn’t say anything on the first night of the debates about it. I did, however, hear the president make a platform for hiring more math and science teachers in the schools. That’s cool, but when you deal with the arts, you are automatically engaged in math and science. Sadly, the arts is always the first thing to get cut from schools.

There’s no way to be a student of music and not deal with math and science. In fact, music one ups the way math and science are traditionally taught in this country. When you study music, you deal with the practical application of both disciplines– numbers, the metric system, reading, time, sound, space, your body, your senses, your environment– all done through a social medium.

She Hate Me

As a kid in school, I always had a hard time with math courses. Not because I couldn’t comprehend it, but because I had an animus towards learning anything by rote without a fundamental understanding behind what made it work. I used to get “into it” with my math teachers. All. The. Time. I’m sure the fact that I was pretty smug about it didn’t help my relations with them. They hated me. I asked too many questions. I’ve come to understand over time, they disliked me because they themselves didn’t know the answers. They were taught by rote, too. If it wasn’t in the book, forget it.

I remember one classic occasion in my algebra class where we were discussing greater than/less than and the teacher was illustrating a number line. . . .

The problem was: 1 > -2

Her point (via the textbook) was that all numbers on the positive side are greater than all negative numbers. I told the teacher this didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t get why we were showing favor to the positive numbers. I said if 0 is the origin, then the greatness of a number should be determined by its distance from the origin. If -2 is 2 units away from the origin and 1 is only 1 unit away, then -2 is greater than 1.  Nearly all of the students in class roared with excitement and sided with my argument. That teacher was done with me for the rest of the year. Needless to say, I failed the class. Ha!

Grits, Dummy!

Seems like simple logic, but we were not taught this in school. We were told that if a number is positive, it’s always greater than any negative number, but this undermines the whole principle behind 0 being the origin and a neutral number. Scientifically speaking, something being “positive” is not always good and “negative” is not always bad. For example, being HIV negative is commonly accepted as good news.

Kunta Learns To Read

LeVar Burton made the point in the above video that Romney killing “Big Bird” is an attack on disenfranchised kids. I would say it’s an attack on all children– and as a result– an assault on all Americans. I believe Romney’s thinking is that since the 47% is lazy and shiftless and ultimately doesn’t benefit from such programming, they don’t deserve to have access to it and the government shouldn’t deepen the deficit to bail them out. The poor minority are not the only ones who watch PBS. When I was growing up, all kids watched Sesame Street. I wasn’t a big fan of Reading Rainbow when it aired because I had aged a bit by then, but I loved the theme. . . .

47 Steps To Heaven

What elites like Romney don’t understand is that when you call yourself punishing middle and low-class kids by refusing to fund arts and culture, you hurt your own as well. Conversely, I don’t believe Obama is anti-arts, he’s just not pro-arts enough. Life has a way of balancing disadvantages out. Being privileged doesn’t mean that you get to ride through life completely unscathed by the problems that plague those who are less fortunate. What affects the disenfranchised citizens affects all citizens.

Shit that trickles-down, trickles-up!

It’s this capitalist idea that supports the notion that we must have low-wage workers to feed the system. To ensure this, we make sure that a faction of the people remain unenlightened and uneducated. We need a low-class, slave work force to fuel the economy, so keep those poor peons on the new plantation of the private prison matrix. This is what slavery looks like in 2012. Given Mitt’s politics, I suppose he would rather see the money go to building bigger jails, not building better jobs.

But Obama’s no better. He also believes we need to support The System. The difference is that– unlike Mitt who favors the upper-class– Barack feels emphatically about building and sustaining a strong middle-class. For someone who is actually a member of the Elite 1%, he’s suspiciously big on encouraging folks to be in the middle. I’m pretty sure President Obama and Michelle aren’t grooming Sasha and Malia to be a part of that “strong middle” he loves to champion.

Most people tend to judge these presidential candidates for where they differ, but I believe looking for similarities is far more telling.

I Hates Classism

There’s nothing wrong with being middle-class, but I don’t believe it’s anything to strive for. Of course, I’m sure that there are those who are happy with doing just enough in life. “Don’t be too good or too bad” is their edict. This is not to suggest mediocrity and being middle-class are synonymous with one another. If you select a profession like being a public school teacher and you decide that it’s more important to be of service to the community than be wealthy, then being middle-class is a by-product, not a life passion. As an artist, I don’t believe martyrdom legitimizes my craft, but I also have no aversion to being rich. As a middle-class American, I don’t strive to escalate to the upper-class any more than I’ve strived to be middle-class, but I definitely strive not to be broke.

Not that there’s anything wrong with washing dishes or mopping floors. If this is what you choose to do in life, so be it. But for most people who do it, it’s not a choice.

Who’s Johnny?

Before the humanists direct all their hate to Mitt Romney for his disbelief in the Public Broadcasting System, I don’t believe his lack of faith lies completely unfounded. Having grown up watching a variety of children’s programming on PBS, what I’ve seen today pales in comparison. I remember I used to love hearing the great pianist Johnny Costa, who was dubbed “The White Tatum” by his hero, Art Tatum himself. In fact, hearing Costa play celeste on the show is partly what inspired me to feature that instrument on my album Nick @ Night. I also used to dig the handyman who played the guitar, Joe Negri (I always got a kick out of a White dude having that last name). It is only recently that I learned all the performances were done live on the spot for every episode. Imagine the effect of hearing a live band while learning. . . . That was 30-years ago.

Given how far we’ve evolved technologically, why have we devolved culturally?

 . . . find out why in part II of Kunta Kinte Goes To Outer Space. *cue organ music*

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

On Why Mothafuckas Chillin’ On Big Bird’s Nutz

The American people as a whole are so easily manipulated it’s no wonder the country’s in decline. Critical thinking is at an all-time low. People just go with what they see on the surface and never bother to probe any deeper. Who has the time? We’re too busy fucking around on Twitter and Facebook to deal with real thought. Everyone’s logging on to see who can make the wittiest quip, or cackle like kids in kindergarten about the Sesame Street memes floating around in cyberspace. I’m all about maintaining a childlike perspective throughout adulthood, but there’s a reason we grow up.

Which Of These Kids Is Doing His Own Thing?

As long as Americans remain so gullible and easily led, we will remain in the dark regardless of which candidate wins. Think for yourselves people, please. Just because you see some shit on the Internet or TV doesn’t make it real.

Save The Babies

With all the hundreds of millions of dollars both candidates have raised in campaign funds so far, wouldn’t that money be of more use to low-wage and unemployed citizens trying to feed themselves or their families? How about helping disabled veterans? If either Romney or Obama really practiced what they preached, they’d give that money directly to those in need. How avant-garde would that be? I can’t think of a greater campaign strategy. Clearly being the more popular nominee is more a priority than the people.

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

So everyone is saying that Mitt Romney won the debate last night. . . . Won how? By telling the American people what they wanted to hear? For being assertive enough to take charge in a situation where there were clear openings? Is that not the whole point of a debate? Did he lie? So what. In a political debate, honesty does not necessarily score a victory.

Some Obamaphiles fault Jim Lehrer for failing as a moderator and having a bias towards Mr. Romney. I didn’t get that from it at all. From what I saw, both candidates ignored his timing signals. Did Mr. Romney bogart the proceedings? Definitely. He tactically measured his opponent’s weakness and responded swiftly and successfully. Did anyone else notice how adamant Romney was that since Obama started the first segment, he had a right to respond last in that segment. Conversely, Obama wasn’t adamant at all when he was not allowed to respond last in the second segment. That’s not Lehrer’s fault. The president had every right to speak up just as Romney did. Obama certainly did make mention when his last 5 seconds were interrupted before he took another 50.

Let’s be clear, all politicians lie. It’s not possible to be one if you don’t. It’s essentially a matter of voting for who you believe lies least. These days, choice is consistently a case of the lesser of evils. The question is: Can you tell the lessor from the lessee?

“If you stick a knife in my back 9-inches and pull it out 6-inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress is healing the wound that the blow made and they haven’t even begun to pull the knife out, much less try and heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.”

-El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

Mitt Romney (Vomit Around Me)

Romney’s a dickhead. We all know that. You can tell just by that plastic smirk he wore the whole time the president was speaking. Get your camera face together, son. Self-awareness is a mothafucka. The eyes don’t lie. Governor Romney clearly is an intelligent guy, which leads me to believe he’s at least smart enough to look as congenial as President Obama appeared to be.

Barack’s Rocks

Barack ain’t no punk. I know it’s popular to say he has no balls, but he does. Anyone who can get on national television several times to claim to have killed Osama bin Laden, is a gangster. Why then was he feigning restraint and mumbling disapproval to himself during the first debate the whole time Romney was lying but refused to really call “Bullshit!”? Romney clearly had no issue calling the president out.

The Chess Players

This shit is all a game. These guys are great method actors. Who won? Nobody, and as a result, the American people lose. As you saw after the sparring session, they came out of their respective corners and shook hands like everything was cool. That’s because none of this means anything. All the Obamaphytes are praying that he’s just playing possum and that he’s luring Romney into his trap so he can pounce later. They feel Obama to be a chess player and is in it for the long game. But what I saw last night wasn’t chess; it was checkers.

The caveat is: When you take into account that most people function at a pubescent level of maturity, it all makes sense.

-Nicholas Payton

The SaveYour Of The World

Everyone wants a savior. Thing is, the savior can’t save yours. As long as the American people believe they need a leader or a role model to show them a better way, some pimp is always going to be willing to step in and sell you a dream. There is only one party: The Elite. All this Republican/Democratic stuff is just for show. The fact that most American adults today are still so enamored with Big Bird is just one example of how infantile the psyche is.

Nobody Here But Us Chickens . . .

Kill Big Bird. I don’t give a shit. Jim Henson’s a genius, but posthumously The Muppets have plummeted. Have you seen Sesame Street lately? Sesame Street used to cultivate young minds, now it panders to the popular aesthetic. We’re a long way from Mr. Hooper and it’s 10 zillion light years away from what most 30-year-olds and up remember.

Some people argue that you have to meet people where they are, but meeting people where they are is exactly the problem. We must bring people up. It’s hard to get a baby to develop a taste for broccoli when all you’ve fed them is high-fructose corn syrup. To me, it all comes down to exposure.

Education and entertainment are not mutually exclusive ideals. I remember when Sesame Street was enlightening on all levels. As an adult you can watch those classic episodes and they still hold up. I can recall Stevie Wonder being on the show; today’s answer is to have an episode starring Katy Perry.

Sesame Street used to be hood; it has now been gentrified.

The quality of programming on PBS has not evolved — much like society itself — to the contrary. I guess the overall sentiment is that the shitty programming on PBS is a better alternative to all the other bullshit out there. That’s a very telling commentary of about how far the American people have been led astray.

To me, Big Bird dying would just be a case of chickens coming home to roost.

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop