Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the last book I ever read (Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? excerpt fourteen)

from Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? by George Clinton with Ben Greenman:

Hey Man...Smell My Finger was a hot record. People loved its texture and its message. But support was lacking from the label. Over the years I’ve seen a variety of ways in which companies help records succeed or fail to do so. In this case, they deliberately stepped away from it. I can only speculate on their reasons. Maybe it was related to their lack of patience with Prince. Maybe they were breaking in new radio people. Maybe they honestly just didn’t see how they could succeed with it. But when we sensed that they weren’t working with us, we went over their heads and started dealing straight with the programmers and jocks. Berry Gordy, Kerry’s father, caught wind of it and told us not to do that anymore. His theory, being Berry, was that you can’t anger the company. He thought it would only make things worse. In retrospect, he was right. It’s a shame, because we had a video for “Martial Law” all ready to go. It had been directed by Reginald and Warrington Hudlin, who I had worked with on their movie House Party (I played the DJ at a fraternity reunion). The very next year, the Hudlins did a pilot for HBO, a black take on The Twilight Zone called Cosmic Slop. One of the segments was an adaptation of a short story by Derrick Bell, who was the first tenured African-American law professor at Harvard, called “The Space Traders.” The idea of it was that aliens came to Earth and agreed to solve all the plant’s problems—they would give us infinitely renewable energy, pay off the debt, leave a Utopia when they went—if they could take all the black people in America back to their planet. The spaceships that Bell imagined were “huge vessels, the size of aircraft carriers,” sort of anti-Motherships.

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