- Five Days of Bleeding
“I’m the DJ, he’s the rapper,” Chops said, pointing his big finger in my face as if the planet had just begun to spin.
It was night, and the white clouds laughed at Chops until their stomachs bust and they cried. Linton Johnson, a Rastafarian-feeling Black nigger with mustard seed, scronched down in front of our faces and yelled out that New York’s Central Park was Nigger heaven.
“Wait a goddamn minute!
“Is Nigger heaven a Carl Van Vechten novel or a cabin in the sky or a Black place or a sanctuary where August hams grow wild or haven for blues or what?” I asked.
Johnson blew happy dust in my face. “Bottle it,” he said.
Along with Johnson, there was a slew of negroes celebrating and doing their thang in the park like it was nothing. Indecent exposure, pure and simple. A Black Monday. The stock market had crashed, so niggers played the numbers once they got back to Harlem. They picked out their numbers based on Neo-hoodoo and wrote them down during the party they threw for themselves in the park.
Meantime on television: “The problem is that when these films like New Jack City play there are so few of them until Blacks flood the theatres and make a major event out of them.”
Whites gazed out of their windows and saw dinge and charcoal everywhere, dope as art, Guns N’ Roses taking over their houses sky-high above the Harlem juke-joints.
One Nation Under a Groove
Chops’ joke was very funny, but Johnson was seriously looking for more entertainment to exhibit in the park, protest the absence of social reform, his forehead fucked up like the pavement on a bad road.
“The race problem in the United States had resolved itself into a question of saving black men’s bodies and white men’s souls,” he said.
“Are you Lyndon Johnson or James Weldon Johnson or Johnson & Johnson from Jet and Ebony magazines?” I asked. Under the moon, I passed for white.
Mr. Johnson, calm, slender and immaculate, stood on the narrow strip of stage between the footlights set up in the park and the green grass.
“The name is Linton. If you can’t say or play it, then take yourself, the girl and that little fat-ass fucker and go home.”
“Who made you head negro, Lint-head?” I asked. He ran up and pushed us into the grass, then laughed.
“That shit was cold, wasn’t it?” Johnson asked.
“Yeah, baby,” I answered. “Yeah.”
Birth of the Cool
Chops and Zu-Zu Girl were cutting up, tripping over sharp blades of wet brown grass they found in the park. Zu-Zu was singing the blues. We got up and sent Johnson off with a smile that we inverted once Johnson turned his back. We sat down on a familiar bench in the park, our boodies itching for a scratch. My cheeks slid along the hard wood. “Wiggle it, baby,” the bench said.
Zu-Zu laughed. Chops laid out.
“You got it good and that ain’t bad,” said Zu-Zu.
“Murdah in the first degree,” I told Zu-Zu.
“You can’t keep a good man down,” said Zu-Zu.
Chops was laid back, doing statues of liberty with his fingers. “Lucy’s in the sky with diamonds,” said Chops, downing a Third Stream from his bottle. He was a chaser of the American Dream.
Zu-Zu snatched the pastries out of Chops’ other hand and went off. “Straighten up and fly right,” said Zu-Zu. “Your jelly roll is good.”
The pigeons picked crumbs out of Zu-Zu’s palm. Chops offered Zu-Zu his bottle.
“Excuse me,” said Chops, “but would you like a heavy-wet, cherry bounce, gooseberry wine, fine, cold-without, Tom-and-Jerry or mountain dew?”
Zu-Zu whipped Chops with a coke stare and flicked her remaining crumbs into the trash can.
“I’d like a John Collins or blue ruin or apple-jack or black velvet or twopenny or white-ale or dog’s nose or whisky toddy or London particular...