Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I like Charlie Rangel

Not a real controversial thing to say, I know, but sometimes I forget. Two examples from this week.

First, he's one of the few in the Congressional Black Caucus trying to get them to stop supporting crooked William Jefferson.

Second, this interview about trying to get one or more of the black candidates to drop out of the NY-11 race so as to prevent Yassky from winning. I don't like the idea of encouraging anyone to vote based on race (and see Rock Hackshaw's interesting if very long post on how anti-white rhetoric may be a cover for the real ethnic division in the 11th between Caribbean-Americans and native-born blacks), but it's great fun to see Rangel shred Azi Paybarah's single, lame talking point.

Me: Is having more than one black candidate going to make it easier for David Yassky to win and is whittling down the choice of black candidates taking away the choice of black voters?

Rangel: Hehe. You don't mean that. Of course the more black candidates you have the easier it is for a non-black candidate to win. And all this stuff about giving voters the most choice, that's ridiculous. We don't have that anywhere in a primary, where you want to bring in more black candidates into a primary for purposes of choice. You know it and I know it.


Me: ...what about the idea of having fewer black candidates. Doesn't it do a disservice to the electorate -

Rangel: That's ridiculous. Jesus Christ. I've been doing a disservice for 36 God-damn years. I've been the only candidate.

Me: But have you encouraged other black candidates not to run to avoid this kind of situation?

Rangel: I damn sure haven't encouraged them to run against me so we would have more choice.

He's your crusty old grandpa. Certainly more winning than Nancy Pelosi. Democrats should get him in front of cameras a lot more than they do.

And I'm not really ripping on Paybarah. He got a good interview full of great quotes. That's his job.


  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah, I kind of liked AP's reportage when he was at the New York Press. Though he usually seems to need a good editor.

    You're right about Rangel as a better public face for the Dems than Pelosi. Although I don't know how he'd play in Peoria. But I do know how Pelosi plays there, and it's not good.

  • At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Gatemouth said…

    You forgot to mention my column on the topic of Charlie. I know Solly disliked it (although his first comment was insightful; in fact, it was almost exactly the point), but I thought it had a couple of laugh lines or I wouldn't have written it.

  • At 10:24 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I didn't forget. I wrote this before you wrote about Rangel's letter. Or at least before I read your post on Rangel's letter.

  • At 11:19 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Thanks for the compliment, Gatie.

    I don't think I said I didn't like it. I just wondered if it was actually you who wrote it, because your usual sense of humor wasn't in evidence. It was well written, etc., just not funny, and humor has been prominent in everything I've read of yours (with the exception of the Truman comment above, which I'm still thinking about and will respond to shortly).

    I was semi-disingenuously trying to contribute to the myth of Gatemouth, raising the question of whether "Gatemouth" might be a JT Leroy-esque group effort... Is Gatemouth actually a 45-year-old San Franciscan (currently raising the illegitimate son she had with Jerry Garcia) and occasionally the bassist in her jam band? I think it's a valid question.

  • At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Gatemouth said…

    The name comes from two bluesmen. The more famous is Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, in the late forties and early fifties a blues guitarist (with a substantial jazz element) who rivalled the great T-Bone Walker (the founder of electric blues guitar), but whose playing was more playful (both guys liked funny lyrics, but only Gatemouth would get lost in high speed solo and suddenly start playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" or "Yankee Doodle"). About 1960 or so, Gatmeouth went into a sort of drift, and ended up among others things, playing on a soul jazz session, leading the band on some "American Bandstand" knock-off out of Nashville, and becoming a Deputy Sheriff in New Mexico. He had a very minor novelty hit with a version of Little Jimmy Dickens' country novelty "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose", and after taking part in some sessions in France, both as leader and as backing musicians for serious jazz guys like Arnett Cobb and Milt Buckner (as well as for a couple of bluesmen), he ended up doing as much Country and Western as anything. There were two country-cajun (a serious part of his Texas-Louisiana border heritage) albums on which he played mostly fiddle (on which he excelled) and a hot western-swing duet album with "He-Haw's" Roy Clark; Gate then made several guest appearances on "He-Haw". By the late seventies he was trying to sythesize the various strands of his identity, and finally in the 80's he put it together, reviving his career with (the mostly white) blues audience, with a series of remarkable albums that refused to bow to any genre. By then he refused to call himself a bluesman, saying he played "American Music-Texas style". In this endeavor he utilized not only guitar and fiddle, but drums, piano, harmonica and mandolin (and probably others as well).

    In his 80's and diagnosed with lung cancer, Gate was told that the process of giving his disease his due would immobilize him for some time with no guarantee of positive results. He passed upon chemo and decided to keep playing until he dropped. Bedridden in his home in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, his home was destroyed by Katrina, and he was taken by relatives from whence he came, his ancestral home of Orange Texas, in cajun country near the Lousiania border, where he died.

    The other Gatemouth is Arnold Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore, a racy blues singer, who one day got a revelation from on-high, quit it all, and started singin the Gospel, becoming one of the greatest figures in theat field. Apparently, one day, he failed to show at a blues singing appeareance, and the crowd got impatient, when a young man ran up on-stage and yelled, "we don't have Gatemouth Moore, but I'm Gatemouth Brown", and the name stuck. I'd like to think that Moore was out behind the club staring at a burning bush when Brown stole his name, and took up the devil's work in his place, but Clarence appears to have been a saintly figure himself, who lived to make people smile (and chose death rather than to quit a moment sooner than he had to) while he did his own form of missionary work. Arnold Dwight actually re-appeared in the early 70's to do one album with Johnny Otis and his son Shuggie (a Gatemoth Brown ispired guitarist) as part of their cut-rate "Great Rhythym and Blues Oldies" series. Shuggie is now a funk cult figure, but Johnny should be; a white man who decided he was black (and militant to boot, calling both the 1966 Watts and the 90's Rodney King riots "uprisings"), and was generally accepted as such in the communitiy, Otis was a talent scout, producer, singer, drummer pianist, night club and label owner, amongst other things. He was also Chief of Staff to Mervyn Dymally, who served as Jerry Brown's first Lt. Governor (the next one was Mike Curb), and in Congress. Otis also was minister in his own church.

    I like to think sometimes that my Gatemouth owes a lot to both namesakes, as well as to Johnny Otis, but that may just be drinking my own Kool-aid.

    And the Rangel-Owens piece was not devoid of a dry wit, unlike my Truman post, and this one.

  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    The only old guitarist named Clarence I have in my collection is Clarence Ashley, who's really more of a banjo player. I'm more into the older, sparser American roots music, but I'll download your namesake's stuff now...

    I'm one of those white liberals who's always loved Shuggie's Information Inspiration and in fact just sent a couple tracks from that album to one of the Left Behinds contributors who's into early soul. She was like "thanks, I haven't listened to that since I was 16. It brings back memories." Or maybe she said that about the Foster Sylvers track. I'm a dilettante when it comes to soul. Most of my early soul comes from what Alex Abramovich discusses on Moistworks. Or from soulseek-poaching.

    Hm, I just listened to "Sometimes I Slip" by Gatemouth, and I can see the appeal, but it's a little too smooth for my taste.

  • At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Gatemouth said…

    Solly: You may just not like jump blues; I live for it; Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, Amos Milburn, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vison, T-Bone Walker, etc. These are truly the "unsung heroes of rock 'n roll".

    As far as Gate goes, I think a good place to start is "Allright Again" which is the first album that synthesizes the mix, everything from straight jazz to straight cajun (well as straight as Gate ever plays anything), but consistently swinging.

    Any compilation from the forties or fifties has great stuff (better guitar playing too), in the jump blues/jazz vein, but the other American roots music that is Gate's heritage, and ours, is rarely in evidence.

    The real prize may be the Western swing album with Roy Clark; truly the black neck/Redneck coalition; Bill Clinton would be proud.

    Shuggie's own albums are nice (his "strawberry letter 23" was a big hit for the Brothers Johnson); but is only part of his story. He played with his daddy's band on great albums like "cold shot", was on the great dirty party record "snatch and the poontangs" and recorded behind virtually every living jump blues star (including the other Gatemouth)on the 13 volume "Great Rhythm and Blues Oldies" series (recently a "Shuggie" blues album was compiled from these sessions). His first album under his name was the bluesy "Kooper Sessions", which he did jointly with Al Kooper (BS&T, The Blues Project, Kooper & Bloomfield, etc). But his daddy, Johnny, was the real genius.

    I talk about soul and funk some other time.

  • At 5:18 AM, Anonymous Gatemouth said…

    Oops: I said "allright again", but I meant "One More Mile", on the first he still hasn't gotten the miz quite right yet.


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