Paul Beatty is an Effin Genius


I read Slumberland last September in one evening.
Yes, it was that good. Its a book about a DJ who makes the

perfect beat and sets off to Germany on a mission to find a jazz
artist, the Schwa, to make it complete.

Race, Hitler, Jazz, Interacial Dating, Porn, you ask for it, its in this book.

My favorite part is when he gets to Wynton Marsalis,
who, for the record, doesn’t care for hip hop.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I have a critique
for just about everyone. Feminist’s, hip hop, Black people,
my moms, my peers, other bloggers, white folks, the hood.

In fact, my rationale is that if you aren’t critiquing it,
then you probably don’t love or understand it.

Imagine my surprise when Paul brings it to Wynton.
He writes,

I hate Wynton the same way Rommel hated Hitler. Whenever
I hear Marsalis’s trumpet playing I feel like the Desert Fox
forced to come to grips with the consequences of
totalitarianism after the war has been all but lost. At east Rommel
had Wagner. All I’ve got is Wynton. His musical Valkeries arrive
not on winged steeds but astride caged birds.
Wynton Marsalis reminds me that I was born wearing the wrong
uniform. That I am a Negro-Nazi, who only being a DJ and not
a general or politician or a movie director, is at best a functionary
or house party gauleiter.

The existentialist’s stay that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in
the jungles of Mauritania can cause a hurricane in the plains
of Kansas, but a high C from Wyntons Marsalis’s trumpet
doesn’t even change your mood
much less your mind. And I
don’t know whether or not Marsalis’s music is an allegory for
race, American Democracy, or black fascism, but I do
know that the Schwa’s music is anarchy. It’s Somalia. It’s the
Department of Motor Vehicles. Its Albert Einsteins hair.

How ironic, that Wyntons new book is titled, get this,
Moving to a Higher Ground, How Jazz Can Change Your Life.

This is why, ladies and gents, Paul Beatty is a genuis.

Comments

  1. toni says

    I am on the verge of creating a Paul Beatty fan club! I loved this book from the first page, but when I got to the part about Wynton Marsalis…whew…no words. Head over heels. Especially when he says that while Wynton is held as the new vanguard of jazz, you never hear him played in anyone’s house.

  2. M.Dot. says

    Especially when he says that while Wynton is held as the new vanguard of jazz, you never hear him played in anyone’s house.
    ======
    Real spit. You can’t be the vanguard of nothing negro related, if it hasn’t be tested in a barber shop, beauty salon or a house. I mean REALLY?

    Whose vanguard?

  3. Ankh Ah says

    Slumberland was the first piece of work by Paul Beatty that I didn’t like. Not even a little bit. I couldn’t get past the first 5 or so pages. I love his sharp wit and tongue, but it just wasn’t working for me this time around.

    He’s on point about Marsalis, though.

  4. Model Minority says

    Slumberland was the first piece of work by Paul Beatty that I didn’t like. Not even a little bit. I couldn’t get past the first 5 or so pages. I love his sharp wit and tongue, but it just wasn’t working for me this time around.
    ========
    Funny I NEVER liked his shit.

    EVER. AND I am a big Zora fan, so people would be like M.dot, White Boy Shuffle.

    See, I was reading it and was like this dude is a emcee, poet, sunnin!

    And then I read the cover, (I don’t read the covers of books, meh likes surprise), I read the cover and he was Nuyorican slam winner. I was like AWWWWW SHIT. Thats it.

    His economy of words….Its like a dude, knowing when do put his finger on that little hip bone at the “proper moment”, Paul is like that WITH WORDS.

    Why you ain’t like it?

    I am glad you responded by the way. Thank you for commenting.

  5. M.Dot. says

    Its all good.

    Comments sections be where the realness takes place.

    Miles ain’t like nobody tho.

  6. I am not Star Jones says

    Wynton is necessary for Paul Beatty to exist and have those feelings. Wynton and Paul are part of the same experience and just chose different ways to tease out the themes.

    For what jazz gives us and for what hip hop gives us ….Wynton is making his point that aesthetically they are not equal.

    That may cause some to lose their collective ish but there it is.

    and he don’t hate hip hop as much as people believe he does …
    i think he hates certain elements of the hip hop culture that makes people feel education and being scholarly are to be dismissed.

    i say that because I know Mr. Marsalis.

  7. M.Dot. says

    So you know Wynton? <<<<—-Ponders some things.

    Hmmp. You know I got jokes for you on Friday now? Lols.

    Don't know if I can cosign on that Wynton & Paul same experience.

    Where is the passion? Paul oozes it.

    I mean blood, passion is passion, thats Why I had Boom Bap and Hard Bop on the Pod and Filthy was like "dude, really, thats like the same music? Mingus to Mobb Deep. Do you own ANY R&B?"

  8. I am not Star Jones says

    Wynton owns a lot of R&B….he got it from his mom & dad.
    It's deepr than most people can imagine.

  9. naysue says

    Sigh. Now I have to add this to the list too. Did you read his other book? I loved it…writing papers on books makes you understand things on a different level. Mr. Beatty does his thing and I also enjoy reading his interviews.

  10. naysue says

    So wait a minute. Did you know that this book only has 4 reviews on Amazon? Are people sleeping on Beatty? I guess Zane wins again.

  11. Model Minority says

    So wait a minute. Did you know that this book only has 4 reviews on Amazon? Are people sleeping on Beatty? I guess Zane wins again.
    =======
    It ain’t Zane against Beatty, differnt lanes.

    I mean, old boy is a genius. But he is weird as shit. But then again, so am I.

    I haven’t read ANY of his other work, hence my surprise at Slumberland.

    As jonzey says, the more challenging art has A LOT of subtext.

    Spike Lee= Subtext.
    Tyler Perry= NO subtext.

  12. the prisoner's wife says

    hmmm, i might have to check this out. i've read 2 books this week and i'm itching to keep it going. went to borders last night & was appalled. negros & the street lit, ugh. i will look this one up.

  13. Model Minority says

    You will like it just for how he don’t give a shit.

    There is some outta pocket gender stuff/race stuff going on. Just a warning.

    He made me laugh out loud.