Feed on

Follow? Red, the Negro shoeshine boy, waits by his dusty leather seat. The Negroes all over wasted Roxbury wait. Follow? “Cherokee” comes wailing up from the dance floor below, over the hi-hat, the string bass, the thousand sets of feet where the moving rose lights suggest not pale Harvard boys and their dates, but a lotta dolled-up redskins. The song playing is one more lie about white crimes. But more musicians have floundered in the channel to “Cherokee” than have got through from end to end. All those long notes, long notes. . . what’re they up to, all that time do something inside of? is it an Indian spirit plot? Down in New York, drive fast, maybe get there for the last set– on 7th Ave., between 139th and 140th, tonight, “Yardbird” Parker is finding out how he can use the notes at the higher ends of these very chords to break up the melody and have mercy what is it a fucking machine gun or something man he must be out of his mind 32nd notes demisemiquavers say it very (demisemiquaver) fast in a Munchkin voice if you can dig that coming out of Dan Wall’s Chili House and down the street— shit, out in all kinds of streets (his trip, by ’39, well begun: down inside his most affirmative solos honks already the idle, amused dum-de-dumming of old Mister fucking Death he self) out over the airwaves, into the society gigs, someday as far as what seeps out hidden speakers in the city’s elevators and in all the markets, his bird’s singing, to gainsay the Man’s lullabies, to subvert the groggy wash of the endlessly, gutlessly overdubbed strings. . . . So that prophecy, even up here on rainy Massachusetts Avenue, is beginning these days to work itself out in “Cherokee,” the saxes downstairs getting now into some, oh really weird shit. . . .

— Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Kenny “Ko-Ko” Wisdom, one-eighth Cherokee, has been to Kansas City— Missouri and Kansas!

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