Harmony Holiday

  • The Ire Next Time

    And I’m not sure why I’m infatuated with death. 

    —Kendrick Lamar 

    It’s more than just an ordinary pain in your heart. 

    —Stevie Wonder 

    WE'RE ALWAYS WOOING our catastrophes. They delight us with their constellation of delay and grace. The catastrophic slows time and lets us revel in its ugly beauty. Then we cede it to fantasy and romance in a dissociative stupor. If you remix it well, the remixes turn out like when Moodymann flips the glowing lilt in Betty Carter’s voice from ballad into arabesque and back on his song “I’d Rather Be Lonely.” He doesn’t employ the by-now-recognizable trope

  • Seduction and Betrayal

    PINUPS ARE RUMORED TO EMERGE FROM THE SEA, mer-peoples caught between nautical and earthly existence, so that maybe there are fewer black pinups circulating in popular culture, because the sea for us is in part the graveyard of the Middle Passage, not just an escapist fantasy. Black pinups would emerge blood-drenched and haunting, rather than seducing onlookers. Just bypass the trance of glamour and observe Josephine Baker’s double consciousness in any photograph, at once entertaining you and devastating you, silly and caustic with grief. Or just look at Prince and try not to fall in love.

  • Alas, King Richard

    RICHARD WILLIAMS DEMANDS GLORY. The pursuit of glory is revised madness, the ambition of addicts, to get so high they collapse, and are forced to repeat the ascent as if for the first time. It’s preemptive repentance disguised as innocent yearning to win. You have to need vindication to need victory so desperately. Richard Williams is looking for redemption. In a scene from a 1990s video of Richard, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, we see him genuflecting on a tennis court in Compton, California, in front of a shopping cart full of tennis balls—the ground swells with them.

  • Anti-American Graffiti

    ARTHUR JAFA RELAYS A HAUNTING INTERPRETATION of the griot as someone who cannibalizes the flesh of those whose stories he tells, as a matter of pragmatism, in order to keep those stories alive for the telling in himself. At the end of his life, the griot’s unsolicited efforts at preservation of both self and other are met with the same gesture: he is denied a traditional burial. His carrion is left out in the open air to be consumed by maggots, completing a loop or energy cycle in nature, which can be ruthlessly just and deliberate in its delivery of karmic retribution. James Dewitt Yancey, a