Saturday, August 27, 2016

THE HUSTLERS AND THEIR LEGACY

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

THE HUSTLERS
______________________________
It is not my intent to promote living outside the law.   I’m against that - period.   But knowledge is power, and the fact is, the hustlers of my youth had a tremendous impact on my life, just as the current wannabes have on the lives of many Black youth today.  So I want to do two things in this piece - first, I want to make it clear to the Black youth of today that most of what they think of as "hustlers" were not anything like they're being portrayed in the media; and secondly, I want to give the wider audience a perspective on how these Black "renegades" are perceived by Black youth by allowing them to view these hustlers through the eyes of my youth.
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Many young people in "the hood" are fascinated by the mystique of the hustler. While I see education as the preferred mode of upward mobility, I can understand how the renegade persona of the hustler mystique has captured their imagination. But their idea of a hustler has been forged by the media, where they're portrayed as murderous sociopaths who specialized in victimizing the community. As a result, many young wannabes seem to feel that they have to run around ravaging the community to build their "street creds" as a bonafide hustler.
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VALDIE WATTREE
But that's not how old-school hustlers were at all. I know, because both me and my late wife, Val, were children of this culture. She was the niece of Big Joe Langford, a well known hustler in Los Angeles, and I was the son of Mac McClain (My maternal grandfather insisted that I wear his sir name so I wouldn't grow up with unnecessary baggage), and they brought Val and I together as teenagers (My mother, and Val's aunt).
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When Val and I were about to go on our first date, a gigolo by the name of Shelton called me earlier that day from out of the blue and said, "Hey Eric, I hear you and Valdie are hooking up.  I was just thinking, man. You know, that's Big Joe's niece, so you're gonna' have to come strong. So check this out. Why don't I scrape me up a chauffeur's cap and swing by your pad tonight and we can pick her up in my Bentley? We can give her a night she'll never forget. Just leave it to me" - and that's exactly what happened. We were in good hands with Shelton, because as a male escort, that was what Shelton specialized in, showing women a good time. He did it for the Hollywood studios.  My father had given me forty dollars to take Val out, but I didn't have to spend a penny of it. Everything was taken care of.
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The night started with Shelton pulling up to Val's house with me sitting in the backseat, and then he went to Val's door and retrieved her.  Thereafter, he escorted her to the Bentley, and as he opened the backdoor to helped her in, he touched the front of his cap - and from that moment on, she got the Cinderella treatment all night long.  Essentially, this was Shelton's date; I was just along for the ride, and Val talked about that night until the day she died. She used to say, "That Shelton was the prettiest man I've ever seen in my life!" But that night, Big Joe made absolutely sure that what I smelled what'n cookin'. What I didn't realize until I was grown was that Shelton was actually our chaperone. Big Joe wasn't about to let my crazy young horny ass slip off into the night with his 15 year-old love-struck niece, family ties or not. I had been what they called "finessed" by the best. But when I looked in Val's eyes, I knew it was just a matter of time - a very short time - because even now, long after her death, I'm still trying to live up to the man I saw reflected in her eyes.
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When Val and I got married at 19 and 21 years old, our wedding reception looked like a peacock's parade. And then when Kai and Eric was born, in spite of our young age - and the fact that I was penniless - we always lived under palm trees and at the edge of swing pools. We never wanted for anything. Every time money got tight, something seemed to fall out of the sky. The guy at the liquor would say, "Hey Eric, I need some help around here. How'd you like to come help me out in the evenings after you get off from work?"  And I mean, from out of the blue!  I had just come to get a drink., not a job, but I sure could use it, because while the price of rent in the "Jungle" was only $165 a month, that was twice what most were paying at the time - and it was considered outrageous for a 22 year-old.
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Then after I started working at the liquor store the local gangsters started coming in and selling me top-of-the-line ten-speed bikes for $15 a piece, which I would turn around and sell for a $100 dollars or more. I never bothered to inquire where they got them, but I knew they weren't being taken from kids, because they were brand spankin' new. Before long everybody in Baldwin Hills knew that if they wanted ten-speeds that I was the go-to guy. And again, this just started happening from out of the blue - and I was making a killin'!
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Then we were encouraged by Big Joe to enroll Kai and Eric in Windsor Hills Elementary School. As a result, they went to school with the children of doctors, lawyers, and politicians. And once they got there, they were assigned a teacher, Ms. Faye Armstrong, who became their PERMANENT teacher.  They didn't change teachers every year like most kids.  We got so close with Faye that we used to go to dinner together, and Kai became so close to her that she began to take on Faye's Texas drawl. By the time Kai graduated, Faye had her so sharp that she was doing her class' valedictorian speech.
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So I strongly suspect that something was at work here, because when I look back on it, Kai and Eric grew up like royalty. It seemed like even when I did something wrong, it somehow, miraculously, turned out right.  As a young man, I always wanted to think it was about what Val and I were doing right, but was it? Today I'm almost certain invisible hands were at work in the background, because the chances of two kids getting married at 19 and 21 years old and managing to raise two children into adulthood without hitting even ONE bump in the road severely challenges the odds of statistical probability. When we were raising Kai and Eric, we literally, never struggled. Life was one big party. Our home was a house with four kids in it, running itself . . . or so it seemed.


Kai Doing The Valedictorian Speech
So what these hustlers actually were, were flamboyant and bigger-than-life businessmen who didn't pay taxes - and that was during a time when Black people didn't have the opportunities that we have today. But, in spite of the fact they lived slightly outside the law, most were very responsible and caring people in many ways.
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Many of these people had a lot of class, wisdom, and knowledge. When my father was arrested and sent away, they came together and got my mother a job as a greeter at the world renowned Dynamite Jackson’s jazz club, and then, helped send her through nursing school. She later not only became a nurse, but a PA (Physician’s Assistant) - the closest you can come to a doctor, without actually becoming one - thanks to her close friend and mentor, Dr. Morris P. Atkins. They opened the 55th St Medical Group together. That's where I met Val. My mother hired her when Val was only 14 years old to send Christmas cards to the patients.
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In return for the assistance that my mother had been given by people in the community, when people in the neighborhood needed medical attention but couldn't afford to pay, my mother would treat them right there in our home - for free. And the community was good to her as well. A multi-faceted  hustler by the name of Big Eddie Carr pulled up one day with a huge box (I'll never forget Big Eddie; he was a very suave and elegant brother who used to always wear cummerbunds. He was also a singer - "It's Hard But It's Fair").  He told my mother, "Hey, Ver, I ran across this the other day and it had Verlee written all over it, so I thought I'd pick it up for you" - a FUR throw rug.  It became one of my mother's prize possessions - not only because it was so beautiful, but because Big Eddie was thoughtful enough to get it for her. And Buddy Cox, who dealt in clothing, kept me as clean as a young man could be in top-of-line slack suits.
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As early as junior high school I used to go to school dressed like a grown man.  I had acquired the hustlers' taste and style, so I used to go to school wearing expensive slack suits, Floresheim's, and jewelry - not gaudy and ostentatious stuff like you see today (quiet style was what it was about back then), but I dressed much too old for my years, and that caused me a few problems. It brought suspicion upon me, and I was looked upon by many of the staff as a bad influence on the "kids." Every time something went wrong at school they would come and pluck me out of class, even though I wouldn't know a thing about what was going on. And the irony was, I was probably one of the few students there that was there for the right reasons. The hustlers taught me to respect knowledge, so I was there trying to soak up everything I could get. But I was profiled, much like the hustlers themselves. None of the administrators liked my image, and that haunted me, and caused me a lot of trouble until I was 19 years old - but it also led to the event that changed my life.  
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So while old-school hustlers weren't all angels, and they were capable of emphasizing a point quite brutally when necessary - that was simply a matter of survival - that wasn't their preferred method of operation.  For the most part, they weren't vultures going around victimizing the community like they're often portrayed in the media. Many contributed to the community in many ways, including participating in assemblies and "May Day" parades that was put on by Holmes Ave. Elementary School. And I personally benefitted greatly from my exposure to them. They taught me a lot, which I try to pass on in my writings. So I look back upon them with much fondness.
 *
THIS IS WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE

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So as I was strollin’ down memory lane, thinking about the old-school hustlers of my youth, I couldn't help but think about how different they were than many of the wannabes that we see around today. First, they weren't in it for show. They were hustling to maintain a lifestyle that society was doing it's very best to deny them.  No joggin’ suits, baseball caps and tennis shoes for these brothers, it was Florsheims  and very expensive Brooks Bros. suits all the way - and you’d never see ‘em in the same one for weeks. And they weren't loud and crude cutthroats. While they undoubtedly lived outside the law, they reflected a style that was all their own - elegant and laid back, although, with an edge that said to anyone with anything less than the purest of motives, "I not the one." 
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Billy Dee Williams would have fit right in with these brothers, because he has their persona down to the last digit. Their most pronounced characteristic was class and style, not brutish swagger as they're often portrayed. They were the product of an era where class was everything.  These were gentlemen . . . illegitimate businessmen. And again, unlike the young brothers you see today, they weren't in it for show. They were dead serious about what they did.
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My father explained it simply - it was all about surviving in a White man's world without having to carry a tin cup. It was about living with dignity. He told me that what he and his friends engaged in was no more criminal than what White business men do every day, within the law. He said, crime is robbery, theft, mayhem, and taking from others what doesn't belong to you. They didn't engage in that kind of activity. What he and his friends did was provide "services" for consenting adults, just like the White man does routinely, and legally, on a daily basis. According to my father, the only difference between what they did, and what the White man does is they don't have politicians in their pockets to sign off on it. So the crime wasn't what they did - the crime was not giving the White man his cut.
.
My Father, Mac McClain, and Brother, Virgil, in 1966.
Mac was a good neighbor and loving father,

but he wasn't one to toy with. He had one mindset
for dealing with his neighbors, and another for dealing with
people on the street.
I remember how Ronnie, who was something of a hustler himself, would open up his barbershop just for them every Monday so they could get their domes laid. Monday was Hustler's Day at Ronnie's barbershop. The shop was closed for everybody else. What was funny about that, and the hustlers used to joke about it inside, was how the up-and-coming wannabes would try to get in there on Monday through hook-or-crook, because just managing to get their hair laid at Ronnie's on a Monday could make their reputation on the street. It would also allow them to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers, and maybe gain the attention of one of them, which meant a tremendous boost in both prestige, and pay grade.
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I recall how one Monday even a preacher tried to get in there. After Ronnie politely turned him away, they waited long enough for him to get out of earshot, then everybody fell-out laughing. Wakeen, who used to run "the book," said, in his slow and draggin' voice, "You should have let 'em in, Ron. He got more game than anybody in buildin' - and his game is Betty Crocker approved." Everybody started laughing. Then the ladies started telling stories about the good reverend. That taught me very early in life that no matter where you go, you just cannot escape politics.
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So every Monday around noon, the whole block would be lined with a row of shiny new hogs, and the beauticians who worked for Ronnie (only on Mondays) were the cream of the crop. They were the most fabulous sisters in the hood, and everyone of them smelled like a freshly picked rose after a Spring rain. I can still smell their aroma to this today. They were absolutely, the cream of the crop - they had to be - because they were servicing the royalty of the Black community.
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Robert Beck (Iceberg Slim) after he moved
to Los Angeles in the 60s.
 He was a little different - he had an East Coast
edge to him . . . a dangerous edge.
And these weren't silly wannabes with delusions of grandeur, trying to pattern themselves after someone they'd seen on television. These brothers were the real deal. They were the aristocrats of the darker side of the Black community, those who simply chose not to allow a racist society to hold them hostage. Any one of them could have thrived on Wall Street had they not been blessed with various hues of Black skin. And the community recognized this, so while many "mainstream" Black people weren't crazy about their lifestyle, they understood the rationale behind it. So the community not only accepted them, but they even treated them with a grudging respect and deferment.
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My father was a part of that lifestyle, but you would never have known it by the way I was treated as a child. When I was a young boy and visiting my dad, the neighbors wouldn't hesitate to whip my butt if they caught me doing something I wasn't suppose to do. I was treated just like the other kids in the neighborhood, because they knew they had nothing to fear from my dad. He reserved his wrath for the people who lived the street life.  
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Ronnie was a friend of the family, so during the Summer, every Monday at 11 a.m. I was headed for his shop. That was my hustle. Between working Ronnie's on Monday, and working the candy concession at Mr. Pierce's liquor store after school, I made a young boy’s fortune. At Ronnie's, just going back and forth to the store and taking messages around the corner to the various people who worked for these impressive brothers could fill my pockets up - all the way up - and all four of them.  But I didn’t just love the money, it was a thrill just being acknowledged by these bigger-than-life personalities who made such a huge impression on my life, and I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit it. Sometimes in my writings even today, I'll take on the persona of one of them to make a point, because they had a dry, bottom-line wit about them that cut straight through all  manner of bullshit. Listening to them taught me to look beneath a person's words and address the motive behind what they were saying. I also learned to never tap dance around the edges of an issue - get to the point. That's why I call my column "Beneath the Spin."
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One of the reasons I could see through Cornel West and that I'm so relentless against him in my column is due the words of a friend of my father that they used to call "Sweet Willie."  When I was about 16 years old he told me, "Never trust a brother who's always trying to be the coolest thing in the room, because he's using so much of his brain trying to maintain his image that there's nothing left for him to think with. The primary reason he's trying to be so cool in the first place is because he's insecure, which means that inside, even HE knows he ain't shit, and he's trying his best to hide that fact from the rest of the world.  It also means he scary, so if you're ever busted with him, he'll turn out to be a turncoat and a snitch every time."
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Wakeen introduced me to the book "Psych-Cybernetics." That, along with the words of another hustler that they used to call "Genie Boy" led me to major in psychology in college. Genie Boy said, Eric, "The human mind is one of the most powerful forces in the known universe, so if you don't control it, it WILL control you., so the first thing you need to learn is life, is to keep firm control over your own mind, and never trust anyone to think for you - NOBODY!" Later, as a student of psychology, I found that the words of both men were valid. Carl Jung, a protégé of Sigmund Freud said, everything we do, short of seeking to satisfy our homeostatic (biological) needs, we do in an attempt to reduce our feelings of insecurity, or to enhance our feeling of self-esteem.  That's what Cornel West does, he tries to be the coolest thing in the room, and he's always running his mouth in order to reduce his feelings of insecurity, and then he tries to get others to look up to him in order to enhance his own self-esteem. Sweet Willie said, "A person who's truly secure doesn't need the assistance of others to maintain his or her sense of self.  They're just who they are, and they don't give a damn what nobody else thinks.  That's the difference between your father, and the people who work for your father."
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So yes, I really admired these people. I loved just hearing them say my name. It made me feel like I was a part of an inner circle, or a world that others couldn't gain access to - and indeed I was.  But I especially loved hearing those gorgeous and pretty-smelling women say my name - "Eric, honey, will you run around to the drug store and ask Mr. Reed to send me a large jar of this?" And then they'd hand me an empty jar of something. "Thank you, baby." How I loved that - especially when Harriett did it, and she'd rubbed her hand against my face or shoulder.
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Harriett was so beautiful that she didn't even look real. She was the finest and most refined of them all. She looked like someone had painted her. And when she moved she was so sensuous that as she walked, I imagined her thighs must've even made one another other feel good as they rubbed up against each other. That's right!  That woman was tough. Yet, she didn't even seem to notice how beautiful she was.  That's where the class came in.  Every man who knew her yearned for her, but they also knew not to cross the line, because Harriett wasn't the kind of woman that a man could just choose - she had to choose you.
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And Harriett was the one I knew best. We had a special relationship, because we had Jimmy in common. She was Jimmy's girlfriend, and how I envied him that accomplishment. But actually, it wasn't an accomplishment on Jimmy's part. Harriett just sort of dropped into his lap. Jimmy was a guy my father hired to teach me to play the saxophone. He had a serious heroin addition at the time, and he used to drink a lot too. So we'd see him nodded out in alleys and behind the pool hall, or getting sick and throwing up in public. So everybody used to look down on him - everybody, that is, accept Harriett. She went to high school with Jimmy, so you'd often see her waking him up, and scooping him up from behind the pool hall. He probably would have died if it weren't for Harriett, because his wife left him for another man, and she and the other dude would walk right past Jimmy nodded out somewhere without even looking down. So he didn't have anyone who gave a damn about him - except Harriett, the finest thing who ever lived. Go figure it.
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So just think about the character of that lady. Harriet was a woman who was so beautiful, sexy, and classy that she could, literally, get any man she wanted, at any station in life - in or out of the hood. Yet, she catered to the needs of a man who had been a dope fiend for years, and had degenerated to the point that he'd become the neighborhood joke. Jimmy wasn't simply at the bottom, the bottom was sitting on him.
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The situation with Jimmy was one of my first big eye-openers in life. Jimmy was a metaphor for the direction that many of our young people are headed for today. But Jimmy turned out to be a guy who had more character, more class, and much more talent than any of us (I tell his story in a link below). But when Jimmy was down and needed us most, we not only stepped over him, but laughed at him as we were doing it - and as young as I was, I was a big part of it. When it came to Jimmy, I was one of the most prolific practical jokers against him.  If I found him passed out somewhere, it seemed that I just couldn't get myself to pass by without playing some kind of practical joke on him, like tying his shoes together or something childish like that.  To this day I wonder if he knew that.  I'll never know, because he had so much class, that even if he did, he would have never let me know it. So as I sit here, I agonize over that decades later, because that miserable dope fiend ended up teaching me about everything I know about the importance of maintaining a sense of humanity, and he nurtured everything that sustains my life today.  But Harriett was the only one with the empathy to see the inhumanity in the way we treated Jimmy, and she had the courage of her convictions. She dropped lifelong friends over Jimmy, including Jimmy's wife - and I don't mean temporarily; I mean, permanently!  She even got on my ass over him once, but she gave me a pass because I was so young.
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But Harriett had the last laugh, because by the time that's being discussed here, Jimmy had become one of the most impressive and respected personalities in the community. While Jimmy wasn't a hustler, he could walk into Ronnie's any day of the week and command the respect of everybody in the place, and everybody loved seeing him coming - ESPECIALLY, if he had his gig bag slung across his shoulder. Harriett helped to make that happen - and not because she wanted him, but because she was a devoted friend. I think the only reason they ended up together was because Jimmy made such an impressive comeback, and so fast, that it made her fall in love with him, as it did the entire community, including his wayward wife - who USED to be Harriet's best friend, until she deserted Jimmy for another man and left him to die in the street. But when she deserted Jimmy, Harriet immediately dropped her as a friend, and due to Harriet's stature in the community, that meant Wanda also lost a lot of other "friends." She went from the A list to the Z list, almost overnight. The love between Harriett and Jimmy was one of those rare stories in the hood that had a happy ending. It was clear to everybody who knew them that Jimmy was the man that Harriett had been waiting for. It was also clear that Harriett was the woman who Jimmy needed. They were very happy and devoted to each other, because they DESERVED one another.  But that's another story - and a very tender one - but I digress.
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I used to hang on to every word of these ghetto aristocrats. I would listen to their stories, and live a vicarious life through theirs. But what I really loved most was their music. It literally painted a portrait of who they were. They’d fill Ronnie’s juke box up with coins and one monster after another would flow from it’s speakers - Miles, Trane, Bird, and they loved Jimmy Smith.  Areatha was the new kid on the block. She hadn’t really established which direction she was going at that time, but everybody assumed that she was going to be a jazz star, because the only thing by her on the juke box was "Sky Lark."
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Yeah, those were the days, but what I remember most was how suave and gracefully those enigmatic products of adversity would glide across the floor. With diamonds gleaming from their manicured fingers gently pinching the seam of their trousers, and the light altering the colors of their sharkskin suits, they seemed to be dancing on a cushion of air as they did the "Soft Shoe" to what they seemed to have adopted as their collective theme song - Killer Joe.
.

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No, we don't see nothing like 'em today, and I don't think we ever will again . . .  because they were the product of a bygone era - an era that I miss tremendously, and one that will continue to live, as long as I do.
The Eulipians
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Some of the greatest minds I've ever known
held court while sitting on empty milk crates
in the parking lot of ghetto liquor stores.
At their feet I embraced the love of knowledge,
And through their tutelage defined self-worth
In my own terms.
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These were the "Eulipians" — writers, poets,
musicians, hustlers, and uncommon drunks —
those shade-tree philosophers who
contemplate the fungus between the
toes of society;
Who danced with reckless abandon,
unfettered by formal inhibition,
through the presumptuous
speculation of the ages;
Who live in county jails, cardboard boxes,
alley ways, and luxury Apartments.
Insignificant here in Great Bruteland,
but of ultimate significance in the eyes of God.
.
While these obscure intellectuals
stood well outside the mainstream
of academy, I watched
with astonished delight as
they sang, scat, and scribed their various

philosophies into the mainstream of human knowledge.
.
Their philosophy?
knowledge is free, thus,
will transcend attempts
to be contained through barriers
of caste or privilege,
leaving man's innate thirst
for knowledge free to someday
overwhelm his passionate lust for stupidity.

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The Eulipians
http://wattree.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-eulipians.html
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So yes, I'm the quintessential hood rat, but if you think that your education from Harvard or Yale is superior to my own, I hereby challenge you to bring it on:
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THE HOOD RAT
.
Baby,
I’m sure you know that I love you.
You’re everything I need.
You fit the bill of all my desires,
a perfect match for all of my dreams.
From the moment I first laid eyes on you,
You were everything I craved -
that luscious vision
from across the tracks,
that delicate flower,
just beyond this hood rat's blade.
*
But what you ask is foreign to me.
You need something that I’m not.
You said, just tweak my nature a little bit,
and you’ll give everything you’ve got.
*
But that "tweak" you need is who I am -
it’s my essence, can’t you see?
So how can you speak of loving my soul,
yet, not the hood rat that makes me, me?
*
While "hood rat" may seem trite to you,
it’s the very essence of my being.
So forget about what other’s say,
here’s what it means to me:
*
I’ve been brutally dragged through the pits of hell,
yet, managed to survive,
well educated, and fully functional,
when I came out the other side.
I scrounged the lessons taught at Harvard -
because knowledge, I found, was free.
But they’ll never obtain the lessons I’ve learned -
or my knowledge of adversity.
*
While the "elite" may have heard a mournful Trane,
or Miles muted on a Summer night,
not in the context of hunger and pain,
or hopelessness, hatred, and blight.
*           
So while I've lived the life of a hood rat,
I’ve reaped a knowledge that money can't buy; 
a knowledge passed on to my son and daughter,
which has greatly enhanced their lives.
Thus, I wouldn't change a thing about my life -
I’ve faced hell and passed the test.
I have a PhD in adversity, and
it's made me much more,
rather than less.
*
So unlike the people at Harvard and Yale,
who try to buy intellectual clout,
they only study the genius of Miles and Trane,
while I'm who they’re talkin' about.
*
So when snobs try to slur me as "just a hood rat,"
I say, "thank you," and don’t take offense.
I take great pride in surviving the pits of Hell -
That’s what gives me my confidence.
*
The Ivy League degrees of those of means
are only paper compared to mine;
they merely have a "receipt"
for what's suppose o be  knowledge,
while my  knowledge is ETCHED in my mind.
*
I can TEACH philosophy to Aristotle and Plato
with the adversity that I’ve endured,
and any snob who seeks to match my wit,
will come up short, and
that’s for sure.
*
Snobs walk about quoting Socrates and such,
because through their "education" they are prone;
but while they’re spewing the thoughts of various dead men,
I spend my time developing my own.
*
Because we should never give the thoughts of ANY man,
living or dead, priority over our own;
collect the facts, and think for yourself,
that’s where
Harvard and Yale has gone wrong.
*
Preacher, politician, potentate or monk,
whatever their tale or point of view,
God didn't give them anything,
that he failed to also give you. 
*
And being seen as a hood rat has its advantages -
especially against racists of limited wit;
I simply quietly wait for their condescension,
then show ‘em that they ain’t shit.
*
God made birds to fly, fish to swim,
and man to think and that's the key.
So any man who claims to be superior
will have to PROVE his wit to me.
*
Thus, knowledge is the key to set us free -
it doesn’t matter what the people say,
and there’s nothing more formidable than
a knowledgeable hood rat, and
that’s what you’re looking upon today.
.
Yet, these are the things you want me to purge -
you want me to spurn the life I’ve led,
but I’m sorry, my love,
as much as I adore you,
the soul of a hood rat is my edge.
.

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 Eric L. Wattree
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.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Presenting Ms. Rita Edmond - Meet The Contemporary Face of True Jazz Royalty (UPDATE)

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

PROLOGUE


AN APPEAL TO PRESERVE BLACK CULTURE
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I’m a lifelong musician who’s been devoted to jazz every since I was a child, and I take great pride in what jazz has contributed to the Black community, America, and the world. I also have a deep devotion to my culture. For both of those reasons I’ve decided to devote much of my waking hours to the promotion of a woman who I’m convinced is highly significant to what Black people represent as a culture, and as an artistic force in the world. Her name is Rita Edmond, and she’s come along at just the right time, because the jazz world really needs someone like her now. But due to America’s current self-serving environment, its elitist media is completely ignoring her, and it’s a slap in the face of jazz. It’s, literally, like ignoring Sarah Vaughan.
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But this situation is not just a result of the White establishment alone. It’s also a result of what many Black people have allowed themselves to become. It’s sad that I even have to make this appeal for an artist of this caliber. In the past, jazz flourished because musicians promoted one another. Back in the day Jimmy Heath would have told a promoter or club owner, “If you like me, you’ll also like a guy by the name John Coltrane. You need to check him out.” Jimmy would do that in the name of jazz, because he recognized that by promoting jazz, he was also promoting himself.  Thelonious Monk even went to jail for Bud Powell to prevent Bud from being barred from playing in New York, because Monk knew that Bud was good for jazz. But today the attitude seems to be, “I got mine, so you’re just gonna to have to struggle like I did.” Many even go so far as to HIDE possible connections - and then we wonder why our traditions are disappearing. So the very last thing we should want is for someone like Rita Edmond to be a secret, because she’s not just another singer; she’s without a doubt one of the most significant jazz divas alive in the world today.
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As Black people, we’ve  got to start recognizing our priorities. This is our CULTURE we’re talking about here, and the failure to promote it whenever, and however, we can only serves to diminish it. Yet, many Black people fail to support the very best in who we are. Rita has only one stumbling block - when it comes to the Black culture, the American media has conditioned us to fixate on only one thing, the booty-shacking frivolity of entertainment. I’m not criticizing entertainment, but a culture has to be recognized for more than just shaking their booty to gain and maintain the world’s respect. It was the dazzling technical abilities of people like Dizzy, Bird, Monk and Miles that made the world begin to recognize that there was much more to Black people than the slow-minded Stepin Fetchit-like people in which we had previously been portrayed. Thus, it was the seriousness of jazz as an art form that brought the Black culture into the modern world, and musicologists at universities and conservatories all over this planet are still scratching their heads and trying to figure out what Bird was doing over 60 years after his death. 
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In that regard, people in nations as far flung as Russia and Thailand have thrown flowers at Rita’s feet, fans have come to Thailand from as far away as Japan just to hear her sing, and when she was leaving Russia people met her at the train station with roses, and a young piano prodigy (whose father brought him to several of Rita’s performances) ran up and hugged her. These people gave her that kind of love because they recognize and appreciate excellence, and they know that Rita is a part of a great tradition. But most importantly, these people haven’t been subjected to the Hillbilly mentality of America’s attitude towards Black culture. So they see this woman for what she is - a world-class talent. Rita Edmond is not just an entertainer . . . she’s an artist - and one of the world’s greatest.  Check her out for yourself:
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Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

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Presenting Ms. Rita Edmond - Meet The Contemporary Face of True Jazz Royalty
http://wattree.blogspot.com/2016/08/presenting-ms-rita-edmond-meet.html
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Presenting Ms. Rita Edmond - Meet The Contemporary Face of True Jazz Royalty
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If you’re a jazz lover and want to look upon the contemporary face of jazz royalty, take a moment to go check out Ms. Rita Edmond on Youtube. She's the jazz world's best kept secret.  She's currently working on her third CD, but even on her first CD, she made it abundantly clear to this writer that she hit the ground fully seasoned as one of the greatest jazz singers alive today. I know, that's a mighty lofty claim to heap onto the shoulders of a relatively new artist, but I'm not given to hyperbole, so I fully intend to back up my assertion with the contents and attachments to this piece.
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Ms. Edmond moves between sultry sophistication, hard driving swing, and childlike innocence without any effort at all. There are many great singers out there , but from the very first bar of anything Rita does, she clearly distinguishes herself as one of those rare individuals who was born to do exactly what she’s doing, and nothing else. She swings with the effortless grace of a Sliver Shadow cruisin' down Pacific Coast Highway, and her ballads are lush with sultry passion, personal depth, and individuality.
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You can't "learn" to sing like Rita Edmond. You either have it, or you don't, and there's only one or two lucky few in a generation who do - but Rita, like Ella and Sarah, is one of those lucky few. But don’t just take my word for it, go check her out for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that she’s a once in a generation talent, and clearly the heir apparent to some of the greatest divas that jazz has ever known.
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Along with this piece I'm attaching three links to make my point - ‘Here’s to Life,’ ‘Embraceable You' (Live at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) , and ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’ - and each tune shows a different side of her tremendous, and still growing, musical personality.
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‘Here’s to Life’ is a beautiful ballad that’s been done by some of the greatest singers who’s ever lived, yet Ms. Edmond’s version is as good or better than any version of this tune that’s ever been recorded. The soaring passion that she brings to this tune makes it almost impossible for anyone who’s ever had to struggle through life’s adversities to listen to with a dry eye.  Artie Butler - the multi-Grammy Award winning composer (and Barbara Streisand's musical director) - said of Ms. Edmond, "Rita Edmond knows exactly what to do with a song like 'Here's To Life.' She brings the listener into the music as she sings, making you feel she's singing just for you. That's indeed a gift."
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'Embraceable You,' (featuring Harold Land, Jr. on piano) demonstrates the ease in which she can establish the mood of a song and captivate an audience. It also shows an artist who is so comfortable in serenading an audience that it seems like she was born on stage. And after the piano solo, notice the effortless spontaneity in which she throws in a lick that's so exquisite that it sounds like it should have been written into the tune. You won't be able to miss it because the audience places an exclamation point of approval immediately afterward, as she casually, and routinely, moves on to the next phrase, as though it's all in a night's work. 
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Rita Edmond and Phil Woods Protégé
and International
Jazz Great, Robert Anchipolosky
Finally, she does ‘It Might As Well Be Spring,’ a tried and true jazz standard. Not everyone can do this tune well, because it’s such a jazz staple that it’s hard for a singer to put their personal stamp on it, and whenever they try, they either over sing or under sing the tune.  But Rita swings through it effortlessly and makes it her own. King Pleasure himself would smile at her rendition.
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I also wanted to add Ms. Edmond's rendition of ‘This Can’t Be Love’ as an attachment, but unfortunately, it's not available on Youtube. Nevertheless, it deserves a mention. On that tune Ms. Edmond displays yet another part of her musical vocabulary - her growing chops as a scatter and her ability to swing with the best of them. In this case, she scats in unison with yet another powerhouse, tenor sax player Ricky Woodard, and they’re pushed forward by the hard driving rhythms of Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath of the illustrious Heath Brothers on drums - and when it comes to the aristocracy of jazz, they don’t come any more blue-blooded than Tootie. She's also regularly accompanied by Nancy Wilson's keyboard player, Llew Matthews, who has also played with legendary jazz giants such as Jackie McLean and Woody Shaw, and the sweet-struttin' Edwin Livingston on bass.  So Rita is regularly being tested by fire, and she literally dances through the flames with blissful abandon.
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Earlier this year Ms. Edmond toured Russia, bringing the house down with the late Phil Woods' protégé, Robert Anchipolosky, and at this writing she's wrapping up a three month gig at  the luxurious Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, where she's doing her part to show jazz lovers, politicians, and  ambassadors from all over the world what we bring to the table.  She's also just completed a project with  her good friend and fabulous sax player, Dale Fielder, "Resiliance,"on the Clarion Jazz label that's monstrous. While very contemporary in it's concept, the quality of musicianship is a throwback to the way the big boys used to do it. 
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Ms. Edmond approaches jazz like she's been here before; it's like she walked on stage fresh from 52nd Street. For that reason, whenever I hear her sing it makes my eyes moist, because I can here Ella and Sarah whispering softly in the background, "Show 'em how it's done, baby girl." And she has a natural musical kinship to Dexter Gordon, whether she's singing a ballad or swinging, and when you're as familiar with Dexter Gordon's music as I am (his family lived two blocks away from my grandparents, and my mother went to Jefferson High School with him), it's a scary thing to watch. Her approach to phrasing and the feeling she evokes is the exactly the same kind of feeling that Dexter had on his tenor.  I played Dexter for her doing "You've Changed," and she said, "Hey!  He sounds just like me!"  I had to laugh. I told her, "No, Rita, You sound like HIM."

Rita with the former Australian Ambassador,
Ireland Ambassador, and the
Portuguese Ambassador
But in spite of her talent, Ms.  Edmond is a very innocent sort whose emotions are always very close to the surface - I think that may be the key to the beauty of her musicianship, but in spite of her unassuming manner, when she picks up a mic someone else emerges.  Just the touch of a mic seems to transform her. It gives her a  tremendous confidence, and a unique sense of individualism that serves to produce a flawless musical delivery - a delivery that seems to say, “There’s a new diva in town,” and I say, it’s about time!
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PS: Something just happened that made my blood run cold. I didn't know whether or not it was appropriate to mention it in the context of this article, but it was such a coincident that I feel that I would be remiss if I didn't say something about it.  As I was writing about the kinship of the music of Dexter Gordon and Rita Edmond - before I posted - I received a contact. It was from Dexter's wife, Maxine Gordon (or as Dex would call her, "Lady Gordon").  She sent me a friend request.  My last contact with her was over two years ago, so that was one hell of a coincident . . . or was it?  
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4SZXO9-jrc
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Eric L. Wattree
wattree.blogspot.com
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Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

TAKING A STAND FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: I WILL NOT BE BLACKMAILED OUT OF MY VOTE

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

TAKING A STAND FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY:
I WILL NOT BE BLACKMAILED OUT OF MY VOTE

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this election, and I’ve come to the conclusion that if we want to survive we've got to bring the corruption of our democracy to an end. So I'm taking a stand right here and right now - I WILL NOT BE BLACKMAILED OUT OF MY VOTE, and I'm not gonna let anybody send me on a guilt trip talking about Donald Trump. That’s political subterfuge, an attempt by the Clinton forces to Blackmail the electorate into voting for Hillary, whose history clearly shows that she's every bit as bad as Trump; she just has sense enough to tailor her lies to accommodate the agenda of whoever she happens to be talking to at the time.
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“But she won the nomination,” they say.
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No, she didn’t win the nomination - she stole it. When she hired Debbie Wasserman-Schultz she not only confirmed that fact, but she thumbed her nose at us in the process.  I had planned to hold my nose and vote for Hillary, but the arrogance of the Wasserman-Shultz episode was the final straw for me. It said that the voice of the average citizen doesn't matter, and that’s a direct threat to our democracy.
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And the Clintons have shown that very same kind of arrogant disregard for the people and our laws repeatedly - like when Bill showed up at a Massachusetts polling place (where you're not even suppose to wear a Clinton button) and began to electioneer; and again when he casually strolled in to visit Attorney General Loretta Lynch while Hillary was still under active investigation by the FBI; and now they hire the disgraced chairperson of the DNC who was forced to resign for corruption after handing Hillary the nomination. They think they're above the people, and above the law, so the Clinton/Democratic machine and their corporate cronies simply anointed Hillary the nominee just as surely as the U.S. Supreme Court anointed George W. Bush president after the 2000 election. If Barack Obama were running against Hillary Clinton today, he wouldn't have stood a chance - no one would.  With their money, corporate ties, and control over the Democratic Party, the people no longer count.
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BILL CLINTON
CASUALLY - BUT BLATANTLY -  COMMITTING
ELECTION FRAUD AND THUMBING HIS NOSE
AT THE VOTER'S RIGHTS ACT WITH COMPLETE IMPUNITY -
AND, IN A BLACK COMMUNITY.
WHAT IS HE DOING IN THIS POLLING PLACE?
Bill and Hillary Clinton have brought fraud, deceit and corruption to the Democratic Party just like they have to everything else they've ever touched in the past 25 years. So to simply sit on our hands and let this assault on our democratic system take place will set a horrible precedent from which the nation may never be able to recover. We should be in a complete uproar over this election fraud - after all, this is OUR VOICE they're stealing - so we should be demanding that everybody involved be run out of politics, if not jailed, not elect them president! This is not a hockey match; we're talking about our democracy here! - a democracy that many who were obviously much more informed and dedicated than we are, were willing to fight and die for.  And now, we're just giving it away.
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If we allow Hillary to just slide into the presidency in spite of the now documented evidence of cheating and corruption, this unconscionable assault on our democracy won't just be an ugly aberration, we will be acknowledging it as an accepted practice, giving it tacit approval. Thereafter the corporatists will be able to anoint anybody president that they choose - and they'll be completely free to do so, because as this incident clearly shows, with the Clintons controlling the Democratic Party it's no longer liberals fighting conservatives in order to protect the interest of the people, it's now sibling rivals fighting one another over whose turn it is to exploit the people, so neither party will be willing to fight the excesses of the corporate elites. Thus, the people have simply got to stand up and say, "No, this is not going to happen. Hillary, you've got to step aside," and based on the exposed cheating and corruption the Clintons have engaged in, we have every right to do so. They've forfeited the right to the nomination, but we're just submissively going along with the program like a group of somnambulistic Stepford wives, and that's exactly why our political "employees" don't take us seriously.
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Political corruption is already changing the character of America. A Princeton University study found that the United States is no longer a democracy; it has now become an oligarchy.  Researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page indicated that "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."  And again, clear evidence of the validity of that fact is after the Democratic Party did contortions to shove Hillary Clinton down our throats as the Democratic nominee, former DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Shultz was forced to resign for corruption. Thereafter, she immediately went to work for the Clinton campaign.
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Further evidence of the validity of the Princeton study is reflected in our double standard of justice. The FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton was clearly a sham. Just imagine what would happen to you if you worked for the State Department and put classified files on your home computer. Do you think they would worry about your "intent?" I don't think so. What Hillary did is called "Gross (criminal) Negligence" and "Endangering National Security," both, very serious crimes. She should have, at the very least, lost her security clearance, but that would have prevented her from running for president. So in Hillary's case it was just fluffed off, while in another case, Sandra Bland was dragged from her vehicle, brutalized, and died under "suspicious circumstances" while in custody, for smoking a cigarette in her own car. That's the kind of double standard of justice(?) that Americans previously associated with "third world" countries. So now to reward Hillary Clinton with the presidency after she committed such an irresponsible act and then allowed to simply walk away, would send the integrity of our democracy spiraling down a rat hole.
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HILLARY SPENT 6 YEARS ON WAL-MART'S
BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND NEVER LIFTED A FINGER
TO HELP THE WORKERS
“But if we refuse to vote for Hillary, what about the Supreme Court?”
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What about it? Hillary would nominate someone who is just as corrupt as she is and would give her corporate supporters priority over the people. We have children and grandchildren to think about, so it's not enough to just defeat Trump, we must also defend the integrity of this democracy by defeating corruption -  and corruption has been Hillary's stock and trade for decades.
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So I’m fighting Hillary just like I would fight David Duke if he'd been shoved down our throat, because Hillary Clinton is nothing short of David Duke in a pants suit with a smile and a lie on her lips. Thus, if the DNC insists on trying to force-feed us Hillary Clinton, I’m going to vote Green Party, regardless of the consequences.  I'll let God sort it out.  While I’ll be voting outside the Democratic Party for the first time in my life, that’s their fault, not mine, because I refuse to be either manipulated, or blackmailed, into voting for the Clinton political machine.  We May Have Bill Clinton to Thank for Donald Trump's Presidential Run.  Bill gave Donald Trump a pep talk just weeks before Trump entered the race. Take a minute to think about that.
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In addition, and as I pointed out in a previous article, the Clintons were involved in Ronald Reagan’s scheme to flood the Black community with crack cocaine in order to fund his illegal war in Nicaragua. That one action completely destroyed hundreds of thousands of Black lives and is still having a negative impact on Black people today. There's currently a huge part of an entire generation of young Black people who don't know anything about their culture, and don't really know what it means to be Black, because the people who were responsible for teaching them were either dead, in prison, or mentally disabled by the affects of crack cocaine. As a direct result, instead of developing their potential and preparing for the future, many of these young people, who were literally raised by the corporate media, have been conditioned to believe that their role in life is to be criminals, drug addicts, and at the very bottom of society. In addition, they're being mesmerized by the media by being fed a constant diet of music that celebrates drug use, killing one another, and referring to the very womb of their culture as "bitches and hoes." So their fate is all but sealed. Yet, many Black people are falling all over one another to put two of the people who are hugely responsible for this state of affairs back into the White House. The situation is beyond sad, it's disgusting. So being forced to choose between Clinton and Trump is like having to choose between cyanide and strychnine.
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In June of last year Politico.com reported, “Donald Trump may be a Republican, but his favorite president of the last four is none other than Bill Clinton,” and that makes perfect sense, because Bill gave him a complete blueprint on how to handle Hispanics, Muslims, and other minorities. According to the United States Census, there were 3.2 million Black slaves in America in 1850. Today more than 4 million Blacks are involved with the prison industrial complex, either incarcerated or on parole. So the prison industrial complex currently controls the lives of more Black people than slave masters did 10 years before the Civil War. We have Bill Clinton (our so-called “First Black President”) to thank for that. Thereafter, the prison industrial complex became one of Hillary’s biggest contributors. Thus, the Clintons have brought a thousand times more harm to the Black community than David Duke and the Klan. If they had done as much harm to the Jewish community, Hillary wouldn’t have even been able to run.
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A NO-LOOSE ELECTION FOR THE
CORPORATE ELETES.
Presidential Run
Therefore, I continue to point out at every opportunity that Bill and Hillary Clinton are conservatives in drag. They walk like liberals, and they talk like liberals, but they always manage to leave conservative policies behind. They've been more successful in passing fiscally conservative legislation than the GOP - the passing of NAFTA, allowing corporations to send $20 an hour jobs out of the country to be performed for $5 an hour in other countries; the gutting of Glass-Steagall, allowing commercial banks to gamble with our deposits, which led directly to the 2008 Wall Street crisis; the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, leading to the dumbing down of America and making propagandist networks like FOX News possible, etc., etc. In addition, their tacit participation in the Mena connection, and then subjecting the resulting victims of their flooding the Black community with drugs to mass incarceration is nothing short of gross bigotry. They're just bigots who keep a smile on their face so they can trot us out when they need us.
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Thus, the working class must come together and tell the corporate establishment that we’re not going to be manipulated or blackmailed into swallowing this tainted meat they’re trying to shove down our throats. If we fail to do so, our democracy may be lost to us forever. 
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I can’t repeat this enough - Bill and Hillary Clinton are "Republicrats." Their primary mission in life is to drag the Democratic party to the right. Hillary is the same closet Republican that she’s always been (a Goldwater girl, and President of the “Young Republicans" in college), and Bill is a White Southern Dixiecrat. When Hillary was running against Barack Obama in 2008, in an attempt to get Ted Kennedy's support, Bill Clinton was reported to have said, "A few years ago this guy would have been carrying our bags." True liberals don't talk like that. In fact, the reaction of one of my White neighbors to the comment is how I found out about it. She called me screaming over the phone - "Did you hear what that racist bastard said about Barack Obama!!!?" So the Clintons are far from liberal; they're just calculating. They saw which way the wind was blowing during the sixties and then made the cynical decision to take advantage of it. Wikipedia puts it this way:
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New Democrats, also called Centrist Democrats, Clinton Democrats or Moderate Democrats, is an ideologically 'centrist' faction within the Democratic Party that emerged after the victory of Republican George H. W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election. They are an economically conservative and ‘Third Way’ faction which dominated the party for around 20 years starting in the late 1980s after the US populace turned much further to the political right. They are represented by organizations such as the New Democrat Network and the New Democrat Coalition." So in short, they’re conservatives.
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The New York Times reports:
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"Mrs. Clinton’s dogged pursuit of Republican votes has especially rankled progressives, and highlights the divisions within the Democratic Party, even as they see a victory more likely. They have grumbled at her eager promotion of endorsements from veterans of the George W. Bush and Reagan administrations, including that of John D. Negroponte, a top diplomat and intelligence official under Mr. Bush. They worry aloud that Henry Kissinger, of whom Mrs. Clinton has often spoken fondly, could be next . . . 'Secretary Clinton’s decision to aggressively court Mitt Romney’s base has her looking more and more like Mitt Romney every day,' said Benjamin T. Jealous, a former N.A.A.C.P. president who initially supported Mr. Sanders. 'That’s not a good thing."'
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So Hillary Clinton fans, I don’t care what you say. Hillary and her New Democratic machine can shove it. If they're so concerned about Trump, they need to step up and tell  If enough of us do that she'll have no choice but to do so.
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CONGRESS ACCUSES HILLARY CLINTON OF PERJURY
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Hillary needs to be made to step aside for committing election fraud and trying to corrupt our democracy alone, but she also needs to step aside so she won't dump Trump right in our laps by default.  The Democrats need to run someone with much less baggage than Hillary been has already been revealed to have, and the worst probably hasn’t even come out yet, because we don’t know what it was she was trying to hide with that private email server.  But you can be assured that the opposition does, and they’re going to wait until just a few days before election day to drop it on us;  then we’re going to end up with a President Trump.  So if Hillary cares more about America than she does her own ambition (which I seriously doubt), she’ll voluntarily step aside. If it turns out that I’m right and she is more self-serving than patriotic, she doesn’t deserve to be president in the first place.



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Finally, I'm sure that a lot of Clinton lovers  - both Black and White - are going to be absolutely furious at what I've said here. But that's only because it's absolutely meaningless to them what the Clintons have done to the Black community. That speaks volumes, and it also explains why Black lives don't matter, in spite of all the liberal rhetoric that we engage in. Here's where we've got to make Black lives matter, by bringing down corrupt politicians.
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INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE THAT THE CLINTONS ARE CLOSET CONSERVATIVES, CORRUPT, AND COLLUDED WITH RONALD REAGAN TO VICTIMIZE THE BLACK COMMUNITY
http://wattree.blogspot.com/2016/07/indisputable-evidence-that-clintons-are.html
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Eric L. Wattree
http://wattree.blogspot.com/
Ewattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


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Monday, August 01, 2016

AMERICAN HYPOCRISY AND THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF OUR DEMOCRACY

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

AMERICAN HYPOCRISY AND THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF OUR DEMOCRACY
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 This will be an unwelcome comment but I believe we should shut off this thread at least overnight and have a space while we think about the officers killed today in Baton Rouge and the black former marine who shot them. And the families of all of them.
by Flavius on Sun, 07/17/2016 - 11:28pm


Flavius,
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Your comment is not unwelcome at all, because it clearly points out a very serious area of hypocrisy that we have in this country. We'd have to shut down the site indefinitely if we decided to honor all of the innocent Black people and their families who are being brutally murdered by rogue cops - and this comes from the father of a federal agent, so I'm definitely not a cop hater. In fact, I love one.
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So the tension that led to the brutal murder of both these officers, and the scores of innocent Black people who have been killed is exactly what this thread is SUPPOSE to be about - unequal justice under the law, and its inevitable consequences.
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But what makes your comment particularly enlightening is out of all the threads on this site, why should we shutdown THIS particular thread? While your comment may have been completely innocent and well meaning, it speaks volumes regarding our social conditioning in this country. In fact, you couldn't have said more if I had written it for you myself.  It begs the question, what makes one person's life more valuable than another? That's what all the hoopla is about. It seems that no matter how "liberal" some White people profess to be, Black lives just don't seem to matter as much - either by rogue cops, White juries, or even many Black accommodationists.
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But this is a question that White people need to be very concerned about - especially if they are a part of the working class - because we are now knee-deep in a class struggle, and race is meaningless to the corporate oligarchs and their political cronies. They'll send your child to his or her death in a heartbeat if it means they can make a dollar, as they've already demonstrated.  
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So White working-class people should be very concerned about the growing devaluation of human life, and start putting the value of life in perspective.  Because this hierarchy of injustice starts at the top with the political elites, and then it trickles it's way down. The elitists can do no wrong and we can do no right, unless we're in complete lockstep with their desires. Then the legal impunity of the elitists filters its way down to their surrogates, the rogue cop on the street, and then finally ends in the mass brutalization of the average citizen who is not in complete lockstep with their plutocratic agenda.
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And we can witness no better example of how that system works than the sham that took place in the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton. Just imagine what would happen to you if you worked for the State Department and put classified files on your home computer. Do you think they would worry about your "intent?" I don't think so. What Hillary did is called "Gross (criminal) Negligence," and "Endangering National Security," both, very serious crimes. She should have, at the very least, lost her security clearance, but that would have prevented her from running for president. So in Hillary's case it was just fluffed off, while in another case, Sandra Bland was dragged from her vehicle, brutalized, and died under "suspicious circumstances" while in custody, for smoking a cigarette in her own car.
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So anyone who supports the double standard at work with respect to Hillary Clinton and Sandra Bland is guilty of supporting classism, plutocracy, and the perpetuation of the White supremacist system, and that includes President Obama. I hate to admit that, because I've always been a big supporter of Obama, but one cannot edit truth. We must follow it wherever it leads.
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And what's completely unbelievable about how blatant the class system has become is the fact that President Obama scheduled campaign appearances with Hillary even before the investigation was complete! Does that send any kind of signal to the investigators or what!!!?
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That said a lot to me. The most benevolent spin that one can put on Obama's actions is that it was politically clumsy. But Obama is not known for being a clumsy politician.  He is known, however, for acknowledging the political lay of the land - that's why Bush and Cheney aren't in prison. So while I have always been a strong Obama supporter, I support truth, justice, and a fully functional democracy much more. I don't see President Obama, or any other politician, as my leader. I see them as my employees, and as one of his employers, I don't like what he did, at all.  For that reason, I will always criticize him for failing to take action against Bush and Cheney, and now, I will always criticize him for this Clinton decision.
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I mean, this was a woman who tried to dog-whistled his assassination! So something MUST be going
JEEVES, GO FETCH ME A SENATOR . . .
ANY ONE OF 'EM WILL DO.
on behind the scenes in this country that the American people aren't privy to. Obama's actions tell me that this situation has become much more ingrained in our system than most of us ever realized, and therefore, much more dangerous to our democracy.
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But this hierarchy of "justice" is nothing new; it's simply becoming more blatant, and much more pronounced.  It started with the pardon of Richard Nixon, and then Reagan committed outright treason in the Iran-Contra affair, and then flooded the Black community with crack cocaine (with Bill Clinton's help) with complete impunity. Thereafter, George Bush Sr. sent our troops to die in Iraq, for the first time, in order to take his son, Neil Bush's, name out of the news after an investigation found him guilty of "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest."   The story regarding the investigation was reported by UPI on June 29, 1990, and we invaded Iraq one month later. Then, of course, we had George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sending our troops back into Iraq where 4500 of our troops were killed, and countless others maimed for life (this time with Hillary Clinton's help) in order to enrich war profiteers.
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This kind of thing has been going on every since the corporate and political elitists found out just how gullible the American people have become when we bought into the supply-side economics scam. It's been open-house on the American people every since, and the American middle class has been in a downward spiral every since.
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Supply- Side Economics was a scheme hatch by U.S.C. economist Arthur Laffer and the Reagan crowd which was supposed to cut the deficit and balance the budget. The theory behind Reaganomics was ostensibly, if you cut taxes for business and people in the upper tax brackets, and then deregulated business of such nuisances as safety regulations and environmental safeguards, the beneficiaries would invest their savings into creating new jobs. In that way the money would eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us. The resulting broadened tax base would not only help to bring down the deficit, but also subsidize the tremendously high defense budget. When the plan was first floated, even George Bush, Reagan's vice president to be, called it "voodoo economics."
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Reaganomics, for the most part, sought to undo many of the safeguards put into place during the Roosevelt era and create a business environment similar to that which was in place during the Coolidge Administration. That's also what Bill Clinton did when he ripped the guts out of Glass-Steagall, and with the very same result.
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Instead of taking the money and investing it into creating new jobs, the money was used in wild schemes and stock market speculation. One of these schemes, the leveraged buy-out, involved buying up large companies with borrowed funds secured by the company's assets, then paying off the loan by selling off the assets of the purchased company. This practice cost the citizens of this country its industrial base. In addition, the bottom fell out of the stock market. On Monday, October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Average fell 508.32 points. It was the greatest one-day decline since 1914 - 15 years before the Great Depression.
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And what about Ronald Reagan's promise to balance the budget and lower the deficit? By the time he left office he was not only the most prolific spender of any president, but he also added more to the deficit than all of the other presidents from George Washington to his own administration combined. And what does the Republican Party propose to do about that? One of the Republican proposals was their "contract with America," a capitol gains tax cut -- for the rich.
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HERE ARE BUT A FEW OF THE GAMES RUN ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BY THE ELITISTS WITH IMPUNITY
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Due to the continued freewheeling fiscal policies of conservative Republicans, between 1986 and 1989, spanning the presidencies of Reagan and Bush Sr., the FSLIC had to pay off all the depositors of 296 institutions with assets of over $125 billion.
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Then in 1988 Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $1.3 billion. It was headed by Neil Bush, brother of George W. The investigation alleged that he was guilty of "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest." The issue was eventually settled out of court with Bush paying a mere $50,000 settlement.
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Then there was the Lincoln Savings and loan scandal in 1987, involving John McCain. The scandal was very similar to the one that is currently playing out on Wall Street. He was one of a group of senators dubbed "The Keating Five" involved in a scandal by the same name.
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In 1976 Charles Keating moved to Arizona to run the American Continental Corporation. In 1984, shortly after the Reagan era push to deregulate the savings and loan community, Keating bought Lincoln Savings and Loan and began to engage in highly risky investments with the depositors' savings. In 1989 the parent company, which Keating headed, went bankrupt, and it resulted in over 21,000 investors losing their life savings. Most of the investors were elderly, and the loss amounted to about 285 million dollars.
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After having received over a million dollars from Keating in illegal campaign contributions, gifts, free trips, and other gratuities, the Keating Five--Senators John Glenn, Don Riegle, Dennis DeConini, Alan Cranston, and Sen. John McCain--attempted to intervene in the investigation into Keating's activities by the regulators. Later, they were admonished to varying degrees by the senate for attempting to influence regulators on Keating's behalf. Charles Keating ended up being convicted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy, for which he received 10 years by the state court, and a 12 year sentence in federal court. After spending four and a half years in prison, his convictions were overturned. But prior to being retried, he pled guilty to a number of felonies in return for a sentence of time served.
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Then came the George W. Bush administration that caused close to a million people to die uselessly in an illegal war in Iraq, robbed the American people blind, whose fumbling ignited the longest war in American history in Afghanistan, and whose greed came very close to sending the nation into yet another depression, so people of every race need to open their eyes, because we're being treated like pawns.
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So it hasn't been lost on me that no matter how much evidence is brought to the table about how unjust the Clintons have been to Black people - Bill’s role in flooding the Black community with crack cocaine, followed by the mass incarceration of Black people, and then creating the prison industrial complex - it's been like spittin' in the wind. It’s simply been either brushed off or outright denied and other issues are brought up in their place. The reason for that is regardless to what people say, or what their political persuasion, they've been conditioned to believe that Black lives don't matter.  But now, just one or two White cops are killed and you want an evening of silence to commemorate their deaths. Are you completely blind to the gross hypocrisy in that!!!?
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It clearly demonstrates that regardless to how well-meaning many White people are, they just can't see life, death, or gross injustice from the perspective of a Black person. That's exactly why I'm often misunderstood as being militant, but it's also why I don't give a damn. Not all, but most White folks are completely blind to reality, along with many of their accommodationist Black stooges - though I suspect that many of the stooges choose to be blind, because it helps to promote their accommodationist agenda. But it can really be a frustrating thing to watch, because most people want to think that their fellow citizens have, at the very least, simple common sense. When they cease feeling that way this can be a very scary and lonely place. So I must admit, after what I've seen in this past primary year, and watching many of my fellow citizens just sitting on their hands and letting it happen, the chill is beginning to roll in on me.
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So the bottom line is this - while demonstrations do have their place, we'll never be able to resolve this problem by simply shaking our fists in the street and then going home to be misinformed and distracted by the five corporations that control everything that we see, hear, or read in the media.  We've got to come together as a people and clean house in Washington.  We've got to get rid of all the plutocrats at the top (like Trump and the Clintons), two-thirds or more of both houses of congress, and then take back our democracy.  If we don't, it'll be you and your family's turn soon, because the plutocrats don't care any more about the White working class than they do Black people. When they send your children to war, send your jobs out of the country, or rob you of your lifesavings (and the Clintons have done all of those things), they're clearly demonstrating that your lives don't matter either - it's just not as politically acceptable to shoot you down in the street . . . yet.


Eric L. Wattree
http://wattree.blogspot.com/
Ewattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
 

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