Black & Single Blues

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Recently e-published writer ‘digs humanity’ Like Richard Pryor and James Baldwin, Dwight Hobbes speaks his mind

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Name the subject — any subject — and Dwight Hobbes will have something unique to say about it. After his writing appeared over the years in such publications as Reader’s Digest, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Essence and the MSR, Hobbes finally relented after being oft-asked when he’d write a book. “People kept nagging me,” said Hobbes recently in an MSR contributing-writer-to-staff-writer conversation. As a result, his Something I Said (Papyrus Publishing, 2012) contains previously published essays, along with a half dozen more added specifically for the book — 33 in all in an uncompromising, reflective, “candid, no-holds-barred” style — ranging over such topics as domestic abuse, rape, race and relationship issues. Continue Reading →

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Black & Single Blues, by Dwight Hobbes

 

 

Life without Lesli was, any way you sliced it, a losing proposition. Sleep, forget about it. It took all the courage he had — frankly, not a lot — to lay on the bed where they’d made love. After the first few nights of tossing, turning, twisting in the sheets, eyes closed with his mind wide awake, he gave up and started laying on the sofa, watching the television until late at night the television wound up watching him. Luis and Gerry both told Keith the best thing was to throw himself into work. Continue Reading →

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Keith’s long reverie of romance ends when Lesli pops the big question

 

 

 

At length, Lesli had made the transition from L.A. to NYC in fairly fine shape, getting her legs beneath her once she’d decided to accept the gig running the research library at the American Museum of Natural History. Her next step had been to sign a lease on some digs downtown. She didn’t particularly care for the Upper East Side. “All these damn snobs,” she had groused one morning as they sat poring over the N.Y. Times classifieds to find her a crib. Keith had to agree that his neighbors — for that matter, everybody he knew of in this part of town — thought their stuff didn’t stink.  He also couldn’t give a flying figure-eight. Continue Reading →

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Dwight Hobbes’ Black and Single Blues

 

 

Editor’s note: This is the 16th episode of “Black & Single Blues” since the series began in our February 14 issue. Thus far, Dwight Hobbes’ continuation and expansion of a story that originally appeared in Essence magazine has taken Keith Jackson through prolonged reflection on his relationship with Lesli Hall, who remain unaware of Keith’s doubts about their future. Readers who have followed the story from its beginning will find their anticipation amply rewarded in upcoming segments. Readers who have only recently tuned in can access the entire series on the MSR website. Enjoy! Continue Reading →

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Persistent thoughts of Lesli got scary for Keith

 

 

Lola’s pad truly was tripped out. Not surprising, since she, herself, was a trip without luggage. In a warehouse district, tiny joint, studio-like apartment decked out in retro-activist aesthetic — posters of Angela Davis, H. Rap Brown, Malcolm X.

In all corners loomed some of the strangest sculpture he’d ever seen, concrete renderings of melted wax faces and figures. The place was black as night. Day-glo lit. Continue Reading →

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Thoughts of Leslie kept Keith out of jail

 

 

Lesli. Maybe the best thing, beyond her good looks and bangin’ body, was that she had a wonderful sense of humor. He would call her up, mad enough to chew nails and spit thumbtacks, and wind up laughing his hind parts off. He sure could’ve used some of that sitting in the pit back then, holding onto his temper by a thread. A guitar string had snapped in the middle of a number. Keith naturally had kept playing, unavoidably missing notes, hanging in as best he reasonably could. The musical director, at intermission, began bitching him out: “Where, Mr. Jackson, were my high notes on your instrument?!” As everyone else started to file out into the set-up room, he sat there staring at Gustav, not saying a word, and went about replacing the damned string. It’s common knowledge high-e strings tend to break if you so much as look at them the wrong way, let alone after prolonged use. Which is why Keith changed his on a regular basis and kept a good supply on hand. It’s a pain in the behind when they break on the job, but hey, stuff happens. He’d thought of trying to translate that to this over-paid jerk who, despite connections and a big name, a few folk thought would be more useful directing traffic than music. He had been directly inclined to cuss Gustav out and give him the guitar for a neck-tie. The music director, pulling his short, thin frame to full height, fluffing a mane of sandy-blond hair off his neck, went on: “When I ask you a question, I expect an answer. Or is English your second language?”

Keith saw out of the corner of his eye that his friends had gathered around. Luis was rubbing his congas, smirking, just waiting to see how this would turn out. Lola had her head down, tuning her timbales. Gerry, cradling his bass guitar, leaned back with an analytical gaze. All of them looked dispassionate but, knowing Keith since they were kids, were curious to see just how far Gustav could go without landing in the middle of next Tuesday. In an emergency ward. Continue Reading →

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Lesli grew under Keith’s skin and into his brain

 

 

A long week. Spent in good spirits, but it was long. After leaving Lesli off at the airport, Keith had ridden back to the hotel and gotten his regular routine in gear — looking over the sheets, running fingering scales. Then he’d punched in and, throughout the show, guitaring in the orchestra pit for The Lion King, his mind was on her. The leading lady, portraying Nala, sang “Showlands” with rich, earthen intensity. Reminding him how Lesli made love. Luis, second chair to first percussionist Lola, once in awhile — when not staring at Lola’s Amazon physique — shot Keith a sharp, smirking glance. Luis, Keith thought, could go pee up a rope. As much as Luis loved riding his buddies who fell for one of these broads on the road, Keith knew the guy was himself holding out for a new lady love. Continue Reading →

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Black & Single Blues — Lesli flew back to L.A. but never left his thoughts

 

 

 

Love. Just like that. Well, he’d wondered, is there really any other way for it to happen except all of a sudden? He’d stepped out of the cab. “Luis,” he said, “since you got so much mouth about other folk bidniz, you can pay the tip.” And went to the stage door. Continue Reading →

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