Sunday, May 25, 2008

RAFBN-Week 2

Week Two: Summer's "read a f-ing book, n- "series...
James McBride is my hero. An African American LITERARY author of somewhat popular note. A brother who is not plagiarizing Candace Bushnell and replacing the white girls with obese church ladies lookin' to score wid the pastor. Who isn't writing thug fables and calling it "the reality of the street" (Ha!). Whose lead character isn't a conflicted handsome, mysterious dude romancing female lawyers who look and act suspiciously like video hoes. Whose lead character isn't a conflicted handsome mysterious clown romancing MALE lawyers. His Song Yet Sung (buy it at the right) is a paeon to the Chesapeake, to the slaves who toiled, yearned and struck out for freedom at water's edge; of course I'll try to best him with Yella Patsy's Boys. His first foray into the historical fiction genre came a few years ago with Miracle at St. Anna. I offer this selection in honor of ALL vets and dead soldiers (except Confederates--why the hell should those redneck traitors count?) this Memorial Day.
The setting is Italy, WWII, 1944. The true event is the Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre: retreating German (call them German...stop with this "Nazi" shit) Waffen-SS Panzergrenadiers rounded up about 500 women, children and old folks--in retaliation for guerilla activity--and shot them, then burned them (many were just wounded so they were burned alive). The other element is the 92nd Infantry--a segregated combat unit which encompassed most of the old "Buffalo Soldier" infantry regiments. Led by incompetent and racist white officers, plagued by so-called "Greatest Generation" white boy GIs on the one hand, they must also deal with a desperate enemy hell bent on taking as many Americans with them to the bitter end (the Waffen-SS were the most fanatical German troops).
Here's where it gets interesting. McBride gives us a sweet yet dim witted black soldier (think Lenny from Of Mice and Men with a rifle and a tan) who befriends an orphan against the backdrop of this atrocity. Allegory's all there on many levels, including a symbolic device with a statue's head; pain, bravery, treachery, love, miracles...ensue. And don't look for the usual "cross-section of society" stereotypes re: the dudes in the group of four black soldiers caught behind German lines. Read/re-read this book before Spike Lee's film comes out. McBride penned the screenplay but Spike's already up to his old bullshit braying and self-promo--given his pretty much needless attacks on Clint Eastwood for "Flags of Our Father/Letters of Iwo Jima" and Speilberg for "Saving Private Ryan". Interesting as Clint's ALWAYS been a thoughtful, artful director and even did the Charlie Parker biopic. Did you, Spike? Nah. So shut up. Speilberg did The Color Purple and yeah--Amistad. Did you, Spike? Nah. So shut up. Why not A Soldier's Story? Or any number of films and TV-movies of the week on blacks and WWII, blacks and any war (hey you can option Yella Patsy's Boys once it drops and show the freed slaves burning down the White House with the British in 1814 if you want--one of those patented moving shots of your on Dolley Madison realizing she gotta run before she's caught would be cool...). Going into the merits of his attacks on the WWII movies is silly as the attacks are silly; again I'm sure 99.99% of it is just his ego/personality, and I'm praying my hero Brother McBride tempers that stuff. Would he allow Hollywood succubus to steal his soul, a la Mariane Pearl and Brangelina in A Mighty Heart? Likely not. He's my hero, after all. Read and learn.


Anonymous said...

I have it! Read it last year! Perfect!

And Spike is full of it. The whole thing went over like a fully clothed beach at Cannes and Clint had the grace to ignore him.

P.S. I call them "Germans," too. This Nazi label is silly, as if Hitler came from another planet and enslaved his country. Good background on Waffen-SS units.

Anonymous said...

No you didn't! What do you have against A Mighty Heart?!

Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...

(call them German...stop with this "Nazi" shit)
That makes my DAY.

And I hope one day people will realize that Civilization did that started in Greece.

Regarding Spike Lee, I agree that the last C.E.'s movies ignored Afro-American soldiers, and the portrait of the Indian dude on Flags of Our Father is plain stereotype.

Lisa said...

Bravo you!!!

"Here on the battlefield lay our heroes
From Salem Poor and Peter Salem on Bunker Hill
To Andre Borden dead from a mine in Iraq
And the brother who shot himself last week, despondent.
From Barney's black sailors on Bladensburg Road facing the redcoats
Who brought Napoleon's legions low, to
the 54th Massachussetts, the Red Ball Express, the 9th Cavalry.
The old 24th--outnumbered 50-1 yet besting the Red Chinese and North Koreans...
...the soul brothers, grim and enduring the Viet Cong, at Ka Sanh.
Here they lay, so we may be free.
Here they lay, so that we shall have dignity.
Here they lay, so the nation that shunned and reviled them,
Shall not perish from the earth."

Snowman said...

There were several instances of shameful, racially motivated lapses in leadership for the 94th in Italy. Even the "Nisei" battalions of Japanese-Americans were accorded more respect and had a few Japanese-American officers.
I do not believe Spike Lee would do this justice, and I indeed feel that Clint Eastwood would have made a better picture regarding the valor and the struggle of those black troops.

Anonymous said...

Im a Spike Lee spporter and fan but I gotta support C E on this one, Flags of ourFather did contain images of African American soldiers who were mostly in munitions.
SPIKE, you want to chastise someone, Brian Depalma, who didnt ven have a AA shoe black in the untouchables!