This column will come days after the initial shock of the weekend, but the ever-maddening reality of the situation will still be as raw as freshly cut bloody meat and as loud and incessant as the mix of police, military and news copters buzzing around us, overhead, like medflies on a warm summer’s night.
I’m embarrassed. Embarrassed that white police officer Derek Chauvin had the savagery and the hubris to look the world in the eye while choking to death another black man hollering for help.
Embarrassed that it took four days to bring that same man to justice for slaying George Floyd.
Embarrassed that mayors and heads of police departments can’t keep its citizens free from racism and police harm. Embarrassed that good cops aren’t safe from harassment and physical harm.
Embarrassed that mayors like our own exposed and opened season on our cities to looting rioters – not peaceful protestors, they’re always permitted, always desired, always welcome – before considering the psychic and spiritual damage to the black community.
Embarrassed by the looters who tore deeper holes in their own long-struggling neighborhoods by stealing from those they know and love.
Embarrassed by any and all civic leaders who refused to demand calm, safety, law and order to go with all matters of anti-racism.
Embarrassed that journalists got arrested.
Embarrassed by media outlets that fueled any and all racial fires for commercial gain, spouting divided nation porn.
Embarrassed that I still have to wake up in a city in a state in a country in a world where all of this racist shit still happens.
Oh, and, fucking COVID-19, just in case you forgot.
Not being snarky or sarcastic or sniping here. Not this week. One interesting new word to come from the murder-mess of the weekend came from Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw when she called the actions of many of the rioters, “lootering,” which just happens to be a real cross between “looting” and “loitering.”
Le Guess Who? music
Philadelphia conceptual artist, poet, rapper, experimental musician and stark, dark mistress of the avant-garde Moor Mother makes the sort of serious, spontaneous composition necessary for times such as these. When she hooked up with Pittsburgh flautist/fellow conceptual artist Nicole Mitchell back in 2018 – at the Le Guess Who? Festival, which Moor Mother curated, in Utrecht in the Netherlands – the two made a beautiful noise. Don Giovanni Records just released the audio of the performance as “Offering – Live At Le Guess Who” on June 1.
Latino Film Festival
For its ninth season in the blazing sun, the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival will go all virtual starting Thursday, June 4 through June 7. Along with Festival Director Marángeli Mejía-Rabell, and Programming Director Kristal Sotomayor, focusing on Latinx filmmakers and Zoom panels exploring intersectionalities with LGBTQ, Afro-Latinx, immigrant and undocumented identities, the PLF Fest will host a handful of big news premieres, such as “Mariachi con Pantalones, “a documentary, sinner and show featuring a live performance from the all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the soccer-flavored “Identidad: As We Are,” and “Say My Name,” a documentary about transgender women fighting for the right to change their names and gender with official documentation. Check phlaff.org/ for all of the premiere info, and know that both of the women heading the fest have a long pedigree of presenting the finest, rarest, rawest, deepest, most inclusive and most passionate works, be it film, art, music and food.
Drive-in at the Shore
When it comes to getting back to the business of safely distanced live music at drive-ins – how many are even left in Philly? – it looks as if the Jersey Shore has us beat. A new series of drive-in shows was just announced for Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport with hometown hero, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, set to launch the venture July 11. And if Johnny Lyon and his Asbury Jukes are there, how far behind could pal Bruce Springsteen and original songwriter and producer Little Stevie Van Zant be in joining them?
Fuel the Fight
Since the beginning of May, Philadelphia musician Madalean Gauze has been a real force in making certain that the area’s most essential workers, those dealing directly with COVID-19, get their due, our respect, and some cold, hard cash. To that end, Gauze started with the local artist-driven “Fuel The Fight” compilation at the start of May and will put out a second volume, “Fuel The Fight II,” on June 5, therefore totaling the number of tracks and artists to nearly 100.
Where is the money going? The Fuel the Fight campaign, which is partnering with area restaurants to get meals to health-care workers at Philly hospitals. Hit up the fuelthefight.bandcamp.com for the purpose of music and money, or just send cash via gofundme.com/f/xxedc8-help-our-heroes.