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De Mojo Blues

De Mojo Blues

Tucept HighJohn, inspired by a set of mystical bones passed on to him by a dying brother in Vietnam, undergoes “hoodoo” training in his isolated house on stilts in a wilderness park in Memphis

Books by Arthur Flowers

De Mojo Blues   /   Another Good Loving Blues  

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Reviews of De Mojo Blues

A Novel by A.R. Flowers

Three black soldiers are dishonorably discharged from the Vietnam War due to a mutinous “fragging” incident. They return home resolved to take on the world, but ambition and poverty begin to dissolve their precious brotherhood forged in the trenches of southeast Asia.

To counter this growing fragmentation, the hero-prophet of the group, Tucept HighJohn, inspired by a set of mystical bones passed on to him by a dying brother in Vietnam, undergoes “hoodoo” training in his isolated house on stilts in a wilderness park in Memphis. His new self-mastery enables him to relive his memories of Vietnam and to rally his ex-companions-in-arms with a vision of the triumph of black people everywhere.

This rich first novel about the Vietnam inheritance of three black combat veterans, written in an original, rhythmic prose, marks the debut of a gifted young black novelist.—Publisher

Weaving the experiences of the veterans in war and in peace, Arthur Flowers forces us to understand why the powerless become mythmakers trying to determine their own destiny. De Mojo Blues portrays the ugliness and violence of war, but it’s a story told with humor as only a brother can tell it.—Rosa Guy

Art’s jungle war scenes were so vivid and dynamic that I literally craved more of them.—Louise Merriwether

Arthur Flowers novel is a late twentieth-century fable . . . not only a compelling tale of several young black men fighting in a war on behalf of ideals that are not honored in the country where they are not espoused, but also a meditation on tradition, destiny, and the exercise of mojo (power) as a healing force in a world poised for destruction.—Wesley Brown

Arthur Flowers is one of the most serious, interesting, and blue deep artists to appear in some time!—Amiri Baraka

His fast wit comes at you from every whichaway.—Ishmael Reed

De Mojo Blues is a resounding success. . . . Walk, run, get to the nearest bookstore and buy this book.—John Oliver Killens

Published by E.P. Dutton, New York, 1986

posted Fall 2002

Arthur Flowers, a Memphis native, is the author of two novels, De Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues (Ballantine Books), and a children’s story, Cleveland Lee’s Beale Street Band. He is a Vietnam veteran, blues singer, co-founder of the New Renaissance Writer’s Guild. In addition, he is the webmaster of Rootsblog: A Cyberhoodoo Webspace and a performance artist whose presentation, Delta Oracle: A Griot Speaks in Tongues, keeps him busy and Professor of MFA Fiction at Syracuse University.

 

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Eyeminded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art

By Kellie Jones

A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.

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Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow  / Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michelle Alexander

The mass incarceration of people of color through the War on Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites. Most people seem to imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This war has been focused overwhelmingly on low-level drug offenses, like marijuana possession—the very crimes that happen with equal frequency in middle class white communities.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D’Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America’s consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D’Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin’s intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, “You were capable of making the ‘mistake’ of thinking that you could be the leader in a revolution…at the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification.”

 update 26 June 2012

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