SOMETHING I SAID by Dwight Hobbes
After careful consideration, this column might, on occasion, be, shall we say, a bit abrasive. “Something I Said” may have been a little hard on its subjects, some well-known, widely admired figures a few readers would just as soon not see raked over the coals.
Past missives have railed against President Barack Obama, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, and entrepreneur/media personality Pete Rhodes. And offered harsh observations of participants in a popular pastime, spoken word open mics around the Twin Cities, specifically at nightspots like the Blue Nile and Favor Café.
President Obama, it should be taken into account, inherited a mess. The economy was shot to hell before he walked into his first day on the job. Plus, no matter what solutions he came up with to fix the nation’s finances, Republicans could be counted on to throw every possible monkey wrench in the works.
Which, of course, is exactly what they have done each and every chance they’ve had. Not because they thought he was going about things wrong — just out of pure spite. If Obama, when he got in office, had pulled off a miracle and managed to figuratively walk on water, Republicans would’ve complained that he got his shoes wet. He faced an extremely difficult, quite thankless task from day one, and it was shortsighted to slam him five ways to Sunday without cutting the man some slack.
Congressman Ellison is, when all is said and done, a valiant standard-bearer, the first Muslim in his position who certainly has a right to acknowledge his religion no less than did John Kennedy as the first Irish-Catholic president. It was irresponsible to attack him for it.
Pete Rhodes including White rock-R&B act The New Congress at the 2010 Minnesota Black Music Awards graciously did the right thing, making the event about inclusion rather than an insular conclave of, so to speak, reverse racism.
At open mics in Minneapolis and St. Paul, aspiring authors deserve the chance to pursue their artistry without being sniped at for their efforts. And being mostly Black women, it is to their credit that they are holding forth with power and conviction to take the stage on behalf of self-empowerment. Don’t know what I could’ve been thinking to sell them so short.
If Barack Obama wasn’t prepared to take on an impossible job and get it done, he had no business running for president. Did he think the Republicans were going to treat him differently than any other Democratic president just because he won the election as some affirmative action poster child?
They sure wiped off his face that smarmy, plastic smile he wore during the campaign, posturing on a politically correct soapbox as a champion of “Change we can believe in.” Sure, fixing the economy is a messier job than trying to untangle a plate of spaghetti. Fine. There still is change he could have made that we the fouled-over people, particularly minorities and women, could believe in, with a click of the pen.
Besides, no matter how tough his job is — for which he is very well paid — how bad can you feel for somebody who goes home every night to Michelle Obama?
Ellison — can you believe those photo-op crocodile tears? — has co-opted his office and used North Minneapolis voters, who turned out in droves on his behalf. Used them and, after they helped him win, forgot about every single one of them who aren’t financial backers and couldn’t care less about the common man, woman and child’s concerns. His top priority is Qur’an-thumping like some snake-oil salesman cut from the same cloth as Elmer Gantry.
Pete Rhodes, as a slick hustle, brought The New Congress in because their manager, Steph Devine, has insider juice. Talented a powerhouse as TNC were, the exposure that highly touted event garnered obviously should’ve gone to a Black or Black-led band. That spotlight, which could’ve added strong momentum to the careers of, say, New Primitives or Soulacious went the way of pearls before swine now that TNC have broken up.
The only greater pageant of pretentious posturing and gratuitous spite run rampant at amateur-hour open mics is the clique of emasculating, bilge-spewing charlatans who populate the Twin Cities spoken word scene at large and actually get paid to do it, pocketing gigs and arts grants by virtue of nothing more than being in politically correct vogue. In scarce supply are legitimately gifted pens and tongues like Ibé, Shà Cage and e.g. bailey, while pretenders like Sol Testimony, Marie Chanté and more stream out of the woodwork to get in on a good thing without the first concern for genuinely plying a craft.
I don’t apologize for a single word about Obama, Ellison, Rhodes and spoken word so-called artists. Just wish there’d been room on the page to say more. And don’t particularly care who don’t like it.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.