Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?

During the last set he became doubly alive because the saxophone player, who had been way out all night, took off on a terrific solo. He was a kid of about the same age as Rufus, from some insane place like Jersey City or Syracuse, but somewhere along the line he had discovered he could say it with a saxophone. He had a lot to say. He stood there, wide-legged, humping the air, filling his barrel chest, shivering in the rags of his twenty-odd years, and screaming through the horn. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And, again, Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? This, anyway, was the question Rufus heard, the same phrase, unbearably, endlessly, and variously repeated, with all of the force the boy had. The silence of the listeners became strict with abruptly focused attention, cigarettes were unlit, and drinks stayed on tables; and in all of the faces, even the most ruined and most dull, a curious, wary light appeared. They were being assaulted by the saxophonist who perhaps no longer wanted their love and merely hurled his outrage at them with the same contemptuous, pagan pride with which he humped the air. And yet the question was terrible and real; the boy was blowing with his lungs and guts out of his own short past; somewhere in that past, in the gutters or gang fights or gang shags; in the acrid room, on the sperm-stiffened blanket, behind marijuana or the needle, under the smell of piss in the precinct basement, he had received the blow from which he would never recover and this no one wanted to believe. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? The men on the stand stayed with him, cool and at a little distance, adding and questioning and corroborating, holding it down as well as they could with an ironical self-mockery; but each man knew that the boy was blowing for every one of them.

James Baldwin, Another Country

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Truth is always funnier. Truth is always more telling.

Duke Ellington’s feature film debut was in a 1929 film that starred “Amos and Andy,” Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden, two popular white comedians who played black characters on radio and wore blackface in order to play them on screen…In fact, two members of the Ellington band, Juan Tizol and Barney Bigard, had to wear blackface in the film because their skin was so light. It was unacceptable that they should appear in a black band in a film that starred two white men wearing blackface.  You can’t make up things like that, and you don’t have to. Truth is always better. Truth is always funnier. Truth is always more telling.

 

Ethan Iverson interviews Duke biographer Terry Teachout

The Lookout

Although fire lookouts continue to be critical front-line components of our forest system’s battle to detect and prevent wildfires, their roles often times go unnoticed, due largely to both the manual nature of the work involved and the quiet, extremely solitary nature of the working environment.  Leif Haugen is a fire lookout in a remote corner of the Flathead National Forest in northwestern Montana, and each summer he lives and works alone on top of a mountain three miles from the Canadian border.  A simple, somewhat primitive one-room structure serves as both his home and office; however, what it may lack in amenities (neither electricity nor running water are available) is more than compensated for by the majestic, 360-degree views of the world that his perch provides.  With only a remote radio to keep him connected to the outside world, Leif’s primary responsibility is to scan the valley floor for any signs of destructive fire activity – one which calls for enduring long stretches of tedium and an eagle’s eye and quick response the moment fire is spotted or lighting strikes in the distance.  There are approximately 500 active lookouts currently operating in some of the most rugged and desolate outposts of the American West.  The Lookout captures both the critical nature of one fire lookout’s work as well as the life of quiet, contemplative solitude which accompanies his job.

Stewart Lee and the Pueblo Clowns

Pueblo Clowns
Pueblo Clowns

In 2006 Stewart Lee travelled to Taos in New Mexico to see the Pueblo Clowns and make this two part documentary for Radio 4. The clowns, unlike the cartoonish, vaguely melancholy characters that occupy the edges of our own culture, are – literally – unrepresentable, figures who operate in some shadowy shamanic space between worlds and who still wield a terrifying raw power that approaches the sacred.

Part One | Part Two (Right click and save as)