Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
A Brush With Immortality: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and
One or two of the waitresses who'd been around for awhile knew my mother when she was working as a greeter at Dynamite Jackson's, and I think they put the word out on me. So they'd tolerate me, but they just wouldn't let me be the man that I wanted to be so desperately, because I wasn't. It's sort of funny when I look back on it. Had I been sophisticated enough to know what adulthood actually entailed, I would have been more desperate to hold on to those precious years than was I to become an adult.
So I just kept coming back and braving the humiliation, because from the time I was 12 years old I loved everything, and everybody, associated with jazz. I got that gene from my father. As I've said many times before, my father thought the only reason the Sun came up was to keep Bird's reeds warm. I had to fight the preacher at his funeral to have Jackie McLean playing "Love and Hate" in the background. I told the preacher if they don't have jazz in Heaven, the Pearly Gates would constitute the entrance to Hell for my father. The irony was, when I was done reading the eulogy that I'd written for my father (Blues For Mr. C), with Jackie Playing softly in the background, that very same preacher came up to me and asked me for a copy of it.
.On that particular night, however, after his first set, Monk walked up to me and TOLD me, "Come with me." He took me back to the musician's lounge where Nelly was, and asked, "Who does he remind you of?" And she said, "TOOTIE!" - Monk's son.
He saw me as a young wide-eyed joke, and I was. I was 16 and on a roll (I had just seenJohn Coltrane a couple of weeks earlier). Monk asked me, "What you know about jazz, boy?" And I started telling him about all the urban legends that I'd heard about him. As he was listening intently to one of my stories he asked me, "Damn! What did I do then!!!?" You have to know how Monk was to know why I look back on that as being so funny, because he was dead serious. He got into the story like I was telling him a story about someone else. I never did find out whether the story was true or not. But When I was done, he told his wife, Nelly, "Shit, he knows more about me than I do," and they started laughin' their asses off.
I spent that entire night with them, because I was so young that Nelly was worried that I was gonna be picked up by one of those,"Hollywood perverts." Monk told Nelly, "Shit,who you should be worried about is Blank" - his drummer (I''m not gonna give his name because he's famous and he's never been outed as gay). But for the rest of the night I sat in the front row next to Nelly, and after the gig I went to their hotel room with them and we grubbed and talked. I told him how I planned on becoming a great saxophone player someday, and I asked him everything I could think of about Bird. I remember him telling me, "Naw, you don't want to be Bird, unless you like bein' broke. How much money you got?" I had about five dollars in my pocket. And he said, "Shit, you already richer than Bird was half the time," and then started laughin'. Nelly said, "Don't say that, T!" They dropped me off at my mother's door just as the Sun was coming up. It was a night I will never forget.
After that episode, the OGs made me a celebrity in the hood. I've never had that much attention before, or since. I had attracted the interest of THELONIOUS MONK. EVERYBODY wanted to know EVERY detail of what went down, and every detail about Monk that they could get - everybody, including Jimmy, the brilliant dope fiend that my father had hired to teach me to play the saxophone. There are a lot of details that I've left out of this story, and I remember every detail like it happened last night, but I do intend to write about it, and every nuance of that great man in the most minute detail in the near future, because it's of historic significance. People STILL don't realize how great that man was. You can listen to "Ruby My Dear," or "Round Midnight," and they constitute a MASTER'S CLASS on what contemporary music is all about. I could appreciate that even back then. So I thank God that I had the sense to know that I was in the presence of immortality.
I also intend to write about an entire New Years weekend that I spent with Dexter Gordon during the 70s. He grew up two blocks from my mother and they both went to Jefferson High School here in Los Angeles. She graduated; he went on the road with Lionel Hampton at 17 years old. During that weekend Dex made a passing comment regarding how I idolized him that ended up becoming the guiding philosophy of my life - "Learn to become your own hero, because you're the only one who won't let you down." He also told me, "Whenever you hear me play a lick, your very first thought should be about how you could go about playing it better." He was right, and that was the key to his greatness. Lester Young was his main man, and you could hear Lester in him, but he wasn't Lester - he was Dexter, and nobody did it better. But he was wrong about one thing. He never did let me down. He blew the lights out until his very last breath. But I've taken him at his word, nevertheless, and he became my last hero. That's turned me into a severe cynic over the years, and that very cynicism has been of tremendous value to me as a writer. I don't trust the word of nobody, so I start off every piece I write by probing for lies.
A Swingin' Affair
Was told as a child
Blacks had no worth,
Not a nickel’s worth of dimes.
I believed that myth
‘Til Dex rode in
With his ax
In double time.
Horn was soarin’,
The changes flyin’,
His rhythm right on time;
Beat with the pleasure
Of new found pride,
Flowed through mine.
Took the chords
The keyboard played,
And danced around each note;
Then shuffled ‘em
Like a deck of cards,
And didn’t miss a stroke.
B minor 7 with flatted 5th,
A half diminished chord,
He substituted a lick in D,
Then really began to soar.
He tipped his hat
To Charlie Parker,
Trane with Miles,
Then paid his homage to
In Charlie Rouse's style.
A Scrapple From The Apple,
Then went to Billie’s Bounce,
The rhythm section, now on fire,
But he didn’t budge an ounce.
Dug right in
To shuffle again,
A Royal Flush;
Then lingered a bit
Behind the beat,
But in no rush.
Doubled the time
Just like this rhyme,
In fluid 16th notes,
Charlie and Lester,
"Your baby boy, Dexter’s,
On top of the
Bebop you wrote."
Like a banshee,
This prince of saxophone,
His ballads dripped of honey,
His Arpeggios were strong.
Callin’ on his idles,
Ghost of Pres’
Within in the isles,
Smiling at his protege,
At the peak of this new style.
Drenched of Blackness,
And all the things we are -
Of pain, and pleasure,
And creative greatness
Until his final bar.
*So we've been blessed, Playthell, and I intend to share that blessing, just as you have with your piece on the Duke. We're old schoolers. We've had the opportunity to be up close and personal with the kind of greatness that this world may never see again. So we have an obligation to share it, because after us, it will be lost forever.
Did I ever become that great saxophone player that I told Monk that was going to become? No. Because I never reached the caliber that I demanded of myself, and I wasn't raised to be a member of the dime-a-dozen club. I'd rather entertain myself in my bedroom and DREAM about being great than just being "one of the boys." If you can't be the best, it ain't worth doing. But sometimes, on a good day, Dex will step in and help me to make my eyes moist. I live for those days, when I don't think theory, notes, or chord progressions; when I just close my eyes and pour out my soul. Those days, as fleeting as they are, are good enough for me.
So while I still love playing my horn, I became a writer instead, because that's what I seem to do best - and as a writer, at least I can edit for quality as I go along; but as a musician, once it's played, it's out there. That's what makes jazz such a brilliant art form, the demand that it places on its musicians to compose their own compositions on the spot, based on some of the most intricate rhythms and chord progressions in music. It literally DEMANDS of it's practitioners a form of artistic genius. Thus, when I can substantiate my passions, I put them in the form of an essay. When I can't substantiate what I feel, I express my impressions through poetry. But during those times when I'm feeling the kind of passion that I can't express in words, only then, do I pickup my horn.
But 52nd Street is always tugging at my heart, because that's who I am. Many people who are long gone now put in a lot of work over the years to see to it, so I always live with a sense of letting them down. There are two brothers playing all over the world today who I taught to HOLD the saxophone, to play their chromatic scale, and who I taught the musical theory behind ii, V, Is ( you musicians will know what I'm talking about), and frankly, that brings me much pain. I feel displaced. I wasn't born to be Langston Hughes; I was born to be Bird, so even if I became lauded as the greatest writer who ever lived, I still wouldn't be able to escape that pain. But my problem has always been that I was TOO well schooled in jazz, and at much too early an age, so I've never been able to appreciate baby steps, as every good musician should. Instead of taking pride in how far I'd come, I'd listen to Dex, Jackie, or Trane and agonize over how far I had to go; and instead being thrilled at how well I could play "Misty," I'd be depressed at how sluggish I was at playing Bird's "Anthropology." That's a curse. But my blessing is, unlike most people who hear something they like and say, I'm going to go buy that, I can say, I'm going home and play that. Oh yes, I can play any tune, and in any key - Gb is just like C to me - but from the time I was a child, I've always known what it meant to be a GREAT musician, and I'm just not there . . . yet.
Show 'em what I mean, Dexter, Jackie.
but that solemn moan made it all his own, as burning passion flowed lush from his horn.
Hearing “Love and Hate” made Jazz my fate, joyous anguish dripped blue from his song. He both smiled and cried and dug deep-down inside, until the innocence of my childhood was gone.
As I heard this new sound, and embraced the profound, childish eyes now saw as a man;
I stood totally perplexed, but I couldn’t step back, from the hunger of my mind to expand. I saw Charlie and Lester, and a smiling young Dexter, as I peered into Jackie’s sweet horn;
it was a place that I knew, though I’d never been to, but a place that I now call my home.
That's jazz. That's greatness. That's world-class excellence and what it means to be Black, and we should never forget that.
Presenting Ms. Rita Edmond - Meet The Contemporary Face of True Jazz Royalty
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.Sphere: Related Content
When Jackie McLean first appeared on the scene he swung it like nobody else;
He stood all alone, with that bittersweet tone, owing nobody, only himself.
With his furious attack he could take you back to the beauty of Yardbird’s song,
This article will not only explain what a satire essay is, but provide you a tutorial or guide on how to write this type of essay as well as examples.
As the name suggests, this essay uses satire to bring attention to an issue or subject. In our opinion, satirical essays are the most difficult type of essays that students will be asked to tackle in their academic careers. In them, students are not only expected to demonstrate a high level of subject-area and content knowledge, but also be able to employ humor to highlight the absurdities of a real life event or situation. While satirical essays use humor, not all types of humor are appropriate for them. Moreover, they are written in a serious tone, suggesting that the author actually intends the reader to take the suggestions or information contained within the essay seriously.
Fortunately, while initially mastering the writing style needed for a successful satirical essay is difficult, once you have learned how to successfully incorporate humor, hyperbole, and irony into your essays, writing satirically can not only be easy, but also fun.
Understanding the Task
Generally, before you begin any writing assignment, it is important to understand the assignment. Have you been asked to satirize a particular topic or a particular area of culture? How long should your essay be? Are there any technical requirement that you need to know in order to complete your paper? What style should govern your format choices? Do you need to write things in the third person?
You also need to understand satire writing. If you have never read a satirical essay, a great place to start is with Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, which is widely recognized as one of the best satirical essays. The Onion is probably the best well-known modern satire site, where you can find satirical essays on modern political topics.
With satire, you may be able to write the essay from the perspective of a first-narrator other than yourself. This opens up entire avenues of possibilities and lets you bring cultural and social elements into essays about other topics. For example, we are writing this article in the wake of Trump’s leaked Access Hollywood tapes, which contained Trump saying things broadly considered demeaning to women. A response to that response is a meme suggesting that women should not be able to say they are offended by his words because of the success of author E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy, which depicts a romantic (or at least sexual) relationship between a very controlling male and a female who willingly submits to him. A timely satirical essay would address the issue from the perspective of James’ main male character in that series, Christian Grey. The Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte was recently in trouble for saying he had been robbed, when the evidence seems to support that he was the actual wrong-doer. Writing your essay from the perspective of Ryan Lochte giving advice to Kim Kardashian-West after her recent robbery in Paris would be another way to effectively use a third-person narrator to increase the amount of satire in your work.
“The Onion” satire news website
Satire Essay Topics
While you can write a satirical essay on almost any topic, they are best-suited to major political or cultural events. Therefore, appropriate topics for satirical essays can change frequently, to reflect political, social, and cultural concerns. Some ideas for satirical topics would be:
- Border walls
- Donald Trump
- Hillary Clinton
- Mike Pence
- Tim Kaine
- Barack Obama
- Paul Ryan
- Michelle Obama
- Immigration reform
- Healthcare/ Obamacare
- Kim Kardashian West being robbed in Paris
- Brad and Angelina’s divorce
Brainstorming Satire Essays
Brainstorming can be an effective tool in any type of essay writing situation, but it can play a special role in helping plan a satirical essay. While some essay formats lend themselves to outlines in the initial stages of planning, other methods work well in satire. One tool that we like is the use of the bubble map. A simple tool that can be used at or above the elementary school level, the bubble map basically encourages word association with your topic or topics. They do not necessarily have to be elements you consider satirical, but may just be things that you associate with a particular topic. For example, if you write a bubble map about Donald Trump, you may branch out from it with words like: businessman, married, father, divorced, adulterer, The Apprentice, billionaire, bombastic, orange, Miss USA/ Miss Universe, real estate, Home Alone, and New York City. See how that map simply brings up elements that are associated with Trump. A descriptive essay about a dog might contain a word in the middle, like the dog’s name. The words in the bubbles do not have to be the words you choose to use in your essay, but they should help you flesh out an issue and decide how to approach it satirically.
Satire Essay Thesis Statements
Once you have decided on the topic of your descriptive essay, then you need to write your thesis statement. A thesis statement is a short one or two-sentence statement that gives the reader the goal of your paper and tells them how you are going to achieve that goal. The structure of your thesis statement does not change. However, the plausibility of your thesis statement can be very different in a satirical essay than it would if you were actually proposing a genuine idea.
Some example thesis statements for satirical essays could be:
–The United States should ban the burka because permitting women to wear it threatens the religious freedom of Christians, does not respect women’s rights to bodily autonomy, and sexualizes the female body.
-In order to ensure that your jewelry is safe, you should be inconspicuous about it, store valuable jewelry in a vault or safety deposit box, and never travel with more jewelry than you can wear at one time. (Author: Kim Kardashian-West).
-Building a quality marriage is simple: select your second wife while married to your first, have a number of children together before you get married, and smoke a lot of marijuana. (Author: Brad Pitt).
As the above examples highlight, who is writing the essay can, and often is, one of the most satirical elements of the essay. The intended audience can be part of the satire, as well. Jimmy Carter writing Donald Trump a letter that says he needs to loosen up and not worry so much about offending women would increase the satire because of the reputations both men have. Bill Clinton sending Barack Obama a letter on how to be a better spouse while in office would also have that double-irony factor, since Obama is widely regarded as an excellent husband, while Bill Clinton had an affair in office. Miley Cyrus telling one of the Duggar girls that she was dressed provocatively, Madonna criticizing Lady Gaga for publicity stunts, or Pete Rose criticizing Tom Brady would all utilize this type of double-satire approach.
Satirical Essay Resources
The vast majority of satirical essays draw directly from current events. You may not actually need to cite from these sources when writing your essay, but you will want to be aware of the actual events and issues surrounding a situation. Ironically, you will need to be very aware of which news sites are, themselves, satire. It can be difficult to tell in the modern political context. Therefore, you want to choose an unbiased, academically reliable sources for your information.
The general rule is to use sources that are less than three years old and that come from reputable sources such as academic publications, newspapers, magazines, and .org or .com websites. Sources older than three years are acceptable, but if there have been changes to the information in the intervening period, you want to make the reader aware of those changes.
Furthermore, you may have heard not to use some sources like Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica in your writing. This is good advice; they are not considered to be reputable, scholarly sources. However, do not let that ban keep you from using them when first researching your topic. Both of those resources can provide a great overview of a topic, and h; these resources can actually provide you with excellent information and a list of references you can explore for additional research. Google Scholar’s search engine, which you can limit to specific types of academic or scholarly articles, can also help you find high-quality scholarly or academic writing.
Generic news websites are an additional resource for satirical essays. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the major networks and local news stations are all good sources for news. However, the news-dedicated channels also have shows that are not news shows, but political and social commentary. Those shows may present information in a biased manner or present information that is simply not true. You need to be aware of this potential bias when choosing sources.
If you do choose to incorporate sources into your satirical essay, you will want to cite academic sources to back up any assertions you make about a particular leadership style. If you are writing an essay that contains actual figures, dates, or lesser-known facts, you are going to want to cite your sources. You may be instructed which style or format to use, or you may be permitted to choose which format. The three most frequently used academic writing styles for undergraduate level writing are Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago Manual of Style (also known as Turabian) and American Psychological Association (APA). Unless your instructions specify which format to use, choose the one you find easiest to use or the one that is most appropriate for your subject area. You can use our citation generator and citation guideline article to help ensure your work conforms to your selected style.
“Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted” (RAINN, 2016).
Source Format for References:
RAINN. (2016). Victims of sexual violence: statistics. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from
RAINN website: https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence
Estimates of the number of women raped each year vary from 300,000 to 1.3 million (Chemaly).
Source Format for Works Cites/Bibliography:
Chemaly, S. “50 Actual Facts About Rape.” The Huffington Post. October 26, 2012. Web, 30
September 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-facts-rape_b_2019338.html>.
“Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted” (RAINN 2016, n.p.).
Source Format for References:
RAINN. “Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Satire Essays Examples
Many people learn by example. Reading one of our sample essays not only introduces you to satirical writing, but can also show you how to correctly format an essay in a particular style. Two of our most popular satirical essays are available in the links below:
Satire in Huckleberry Finn Essay
Satire on Terrorism and the TSA
Satire in the Simpsons
Custom Written Satire Essay
Hopefully, after reading this article and the example essays, you are feeling more confident about understanding and writing a satire essay. However, we know that it can still be very challenging to write one. From picking a topic, to choosing things that seem outrageous, to actually writing the essay; all of it can be overwhelming. We are here to help. Our tutors can help students at any stage in the writing process, whether it is brainstorming ideas or writing a custom example of a satirical essay on your chosen topic. If you want to learn more about this very popular student assistance program, click here.