June 11, 2008


A Duke Ellington for modern times (Garrison Keillor, June 11, 2008, IHT)

The year my father graduated from high school, Duke Ellington toured the country with his 15-piece orchestra, playing his hits "Mood Indigo" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" to ballrooms packed with his fans, but things being what they were, they traveled in a private railroad car because you just never knew if you could get a hotel room or a meal in a restaurant or be turned away by some jerk in a suit and tie.

They were all black, but Juan Tizol, the trombonist, was fairly light-skinned and had to wear blackface so nobody would think the band was integrated. Ellington didn't complain. He loved his work and he was cool and he didn't deign to address bigotry - he just played right through it.

That era is not so distant. A culture doesn't turn on a dime. Race is a part of this race, even though nobody wants to think so. But Obama has gifts that transcend race and his own slim resumé.

Even if we're being conservative, Duke Ellington is what? One of the two or three greatest musicians America has produced?

Meanwhile, as that "slim resume" betrays, Barack Obama just barely ranks in the top 100 legislators in the current Senate.

The comparison of the two does such a disservice to the former it's disgraceful.

Zemanta Pixie

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 11, 2008 11:33 AM

Sen. Obama is less qualified than Dan Quayle.

Posted by: Mikey at June 11, 2008 12:00 PM

Keillor's latest entry in his continuing competition with Franken for the title of Minnesota's Least Funny Humorist.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 11, 2008 12:30 PM

Thanks, OJ...you hit my points...Ellington is one of the 2 or 3 greatest American composers, and the comparison is insulting.

One other thing: Tizol (the composer of "Caravan") did not wear make-up at live performances...but he had to for the shorts the band made in Hollywood...Southern theaters wouldn't show movies with mixed casts, so the studios would darken up lighter-skinned blacks so that some ignorant theater manager wouldn't mistakenly pull a film.

Posted by: Foos at June 11, 2008 1:50 PM

Again, it is the Left that is fascinated with race. Too bad there isn't a pill that could make one black - although I am sure very few of the mushy whites on the Left would dare take it, no matter their prostrations at the altar of race.

I wonder what Keillor thinks Obama's "transcendant" gifts are.

And I'll bet he would say Obama is more courageous than McCain, and more determined than Hillary.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 11, 2008 8:18 PM