Tag Archives: spoken word

Angela Davis & Jean Genet

The Protest Artist is like the ice upon a body of water; it’s the frozen lake – enabling the Activists (realizers of the vision) to carry themselves OVER the water to the other side, 

the artist is the bridge

the crossing is the activist, the arrival is the fight (revolution).  You can’t have one without the other.
The artist receives the prophecy, the activist must decide what to do with the prophecy.
The artist is the seer
the activist is the doer
(Somewhere in between…is the Actor)
—-preface to the poem “Coda for My Shadow”
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Angela Davis and Jean Genet in conversation, New York City 1969 at a​n Arts Festival. ​(Photo by Robert Cohen, circa 1969​ – ​ from page 69 of Art of Protest by TV Reed)
​The spring of 1969: as the Paris rebellions failed, a​ conference about the Black Panthers Theater took place in Oakland​,​ which ended in an argument about the direction the theater should take – ​ which by this point was in demise due to FBI infiltration...Angela Davis and Jean Genet confer before embarking on two separate routes to the same ultimate destination.
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ANGELA DAVIS: If only I could only revolt as well as you create plays

JEAN GENET: No, if only I could write as elegantly as you revolt…if my words were as dangerous as your eyes I would not have the urge any longer to dream of a future. Instead I’d be living it.
AD: Yes but I was endgaming to the end of our imagination; I picked up a gun while you could still pick up a pen.
JG: The pen is not mightier than the sword.   It’s just more scary.
AD: If our words and actions were one we wouldn’t have to have this discussion. We could overturn society’s injustice with the swivel of a gun and the precision of a play and so…the world would not be a stage it would be our sun. And the sun is merely a star.
JG: But unfortunately for a star to exist one must be surrounded by darkness.
AD: “Let’s make new light out of love and erase all the darkness that comes with it.”  (I read that somewhere last year.  I think it was Bullins or Jackmon who wrote it; Huey had it painted on the back wall of one of Fred’s theater spaces in Chicago.)
JG: Is that act one or two?
AD: It’s the whole play
Or when the play
JG: ceases to to be a play.

Teeming Towards Triple Threats: Revolution in Radio Drama for a Podcast Age Vol. I 

Stay tuned for further information regarding transmission and production of the recorded podcast series: “Rebel Radio: Audio Works for a New Age” – coming this fall in conjugal with Speller Street Films LLC. 


 

 

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I Want to Hear the Sound of Capitalism Dying

Judith Beheading Holofernes (1599) by Caravaggio

Judith Beheading Holofernes (1599) by Caravaggio

I want to hear the sound of Capitalism

Dying

As it takes its last breath

I want to hear Angels – not singing

But flapping their wings

As they commemorate the end of a

Wicked carnival

A station-agent’s sunrise

As he tip-toes into a new orange glow

Of possibilities

I want to hear the death rattle

Of the Unconscious

And the shimmer

Of their warped souls

Taking leave of their lovely

But contorted bodies

Hands that could not help

Legs that could not jump

Mouths that could not

Utter words of love

Eyes that could not see

No matter where they looked

I want to hear

The beating

Of hearts

Instead of the vulgar

Clichés

And expected yarns

Of Self-Hatred

And all that makes

The Ghettoes

Glow

With ripe ideas

For a Television series

That will cash in

As it pushes out

All that I’ve sworn to fight against

I want to hear the shovel

Kiss and hug the dirt

Before malevolent coffins

Are lowered in

Just barely deep enough

To be covered

But close enough that the wild dogs

Will have something still

To find

When we have vacated this

Awful experiment

Called the 21st century

I want to hear my lover’s morning stretch

Her smooth sigh

That sends the only real vibrations

I am still able to feel

Straight up my spine

Between the yawling drone of

Ambulances at 1AM

And young women

Who should know better

Cursing

Not like drunken sailors

But the way a 17 year old boy

Might

Convinced

That his mother won’t hear him

I want to hear my darling’s wishes

Not her fears

But the gentle breathe of her desires

Still healthy and fertile

But beginning to show

Just a tiny bit of dust

I want to hear them released

And fulfilled

Instead of a motorcycle

That thinks

My city block

Is a suburban

Parking garage

Or Caribbean Island

I want to hear the sound of Hollywood

Dwindling

Not crashing down

But receding

Slipping into the earth

Like quicksand

Incurring the politicians

To realize that

Their days, too,

Are numbered

I want to hear my thoughts

In a language

Only I can claim

As my own

As the rage in my head

Calms down

And

Numbered like a lithograph

Takes stock of itself

I want to hear the sweet sound of demolition

So I can pray

That the next city

Built

Is one we can

Be proud of

Or one

We gladly

Wait

To rot

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Originally published on Thomas Vaultonburg’s Outlaw Poetry blog, Zombie Logic.

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The Nomad Junkie Interview – 2011

Read Sylvia Harvey’s interview with Dennis Leroy Kangalee at the closing of his 2011 performance piece, “Gentrified Minds” which was not only the end of a whole performance project, but his last sigh as his alter-ego, ‘the Nomad Junkie’ — which he abandoned so he could move beyond his rage about gentrification and the death of neighborhoods and, specifically, New York City.

Dennis Leroy Kangalee
*The interview originally appeared in the Bed-Stuy Patch as a part of the column Change for a Dollar that focuses on gentrification.

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“What Happened to the Brother on the Block? (The NY Horror Vol.1)” – Spoken Word Recording

“What happened to the brother on the block? He turned into a Starbucks!”

Inspired by the Twilight Zone, the comedy of Pryor & Mooney, Theater of the Absurd, & the Folkways Spoken Word Recordings, this darkly-poetic satire about corporate-friendly gentrification in “21st Century Urbana” was recorded in one take in May 2010 and was mixed by Isaiah Singer, who applied spare musical arrangements and sound effects to support the “surreal midnight vulnerability” of Kangalee’s reading. The result is a perfect introduction to Dennis LeRoy Kangalee’s dramatic spoken word and fiction.  It was the first installment in a series detailing the gross bizarre suburbanization of NYC and, of course, led to his theatrical realization of “Gentrified Minds(The NY Horror Vol.2)” which includes an abridged version of this story via his now abandoned persona, the ‘Nomad Junkie’. .

Read an excerpt of the original story here.

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The Chase Bank Murder

The climax from my 2011 performance of “Gentrified Minds” in which the Nomad Junkie invokes the refrain from my earlier short story, “What Happened to the Brother on the Block?” — my surrealist tale about corporate friendly gentrification..one that has become more and relevant, especially in light of the sinister times we live in, the demise of community, and the psychopathic behavior of JP Morgan Chase & Co. With a nod to Gil Scott Heron, Lou Reed, and the spirit of the NYC protest poets — this was punk theater all the way…

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Tourists in Harlem…

The Nomad Junkie’s comedic interlude about ignorant, annoying, and ultimately racist tourists assaulting Harlem and “inner-city” enclaves. Written & performed by Dennis Leroy Kangalee, directed by Nina Fleck. This excerpt is from the 2011 premiere of “Gentrified Minds” at the Downtown Urban Theater Festival at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center.

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A Loser Can Surely Find Time For Love

Poison 42 - A Loser Can Surely Find Time For Love (Dennis Leroy Kangalee) by Nina Fleck
Before that I thought I was just another waking asphalt animal perched on his shaky brick-limb trying to do what it is that rats do to stay alive.

The rats are the true underground.

Hamptons in Harlem.
Condos creeping.
My belly is torn asunder.

They’ve pulled apart the letters of alphabet city.
Don’t mind me–it’s just my feet are getting wet and I never realized I could swim. The Mets are Citibank pets in steel cages.
Plastic surgeons from the west coast have brought their palm trees with them, they’ll be importing the rest of the emptiness later.
They’re sending me to the outbacks, the caves in the dunes where books meet man and clean hands are an ideal to achieve.


Losers
Like Loners
Make the
Best
Lovers.
They have so much to give.

They don’t need me here. Give me my apocalypse and ship me out soon.

I am not sure how long I can carry this battery.

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originally published in the Lower East Side BOOG City poetry journal, Summer 2012
& included in the chapbook “Lying Meat”

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Lying Meat


There is a risk
in knowing
trusting
and believing
the eyes in your head
and the voice in your heart…


…The feeling
that crawls
along the wall of your
spleen
underway
inside your mind
the decay
of a possibility.

that lying meat is proven right with each and every passing day their structures stand and balance the board of the hollow man’s wet-dream
A scoreboard for the insurance man
A loose noose so the stock trader can’t hang himself
(Not that he’d want to/No he’s made the bet against the hands that tied the mesh together/In fact he owns the machine)
All hail the robotic father and forsaken son beaten into the sand of the King Tut exhibition where they’ll teach you to walk like an Egyptian for a special price but think like an Angry Saxon on his way home from the yards teeth tongue and dripping waiting in the mouth
Below there are about a million suckers who’ve reached the end of their lollipop
Each of them a Joe Stack in between the sheets of their mind sheets of the sound sheets of a lonely woolen brain tired of trying and nervous about what it all meant
Rattlesnakes don’t commit suicide,
but sheep know when it is time to raise the b-b-b-baahh…

Not sure where that leaves us

Do we have hope?
(What’s hope – but nope with more hair!)
Hope has been AWOL since 1492 and returned briefly somewhere in between the Beatles and Martin Luther King
NY and Alabama
A porter’s camera and freshly painted theater that still smelled like a barn and had a few drops of sweat left behind by Max Roach or a sari that had just been ripped and was struggling to break free of its curry and dog eared ruffles

O-bomb-a reappraised hope and made off with a hefty sum
Not sure where it exactly got him
But i know for a fact that he sleeps well at night

Glad somebody does


There’s a bleeding termite inside
each of us
what was once sawdust
is now
the backbone
of an African chief
a winded Viking
an Indian sermon
once gazed upon
before the dollar made its move.

*
— from the 2011 chapbook, “Lying Meat & Other Poems Beneath the Oil”

Lying Meat

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My Final Scream: Punk & Poetry

“EVEN MORE POWERFUL LIVE THAN IT WAS ON THE PAGE! BRILLIANTLY STAGED BY NINA FLECK -A STRONG MIX OF WORDS & MUSIC THAT CREATES A DIFFERENT THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE…KANGALEE WILL BE FOUGHT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, BUT HE ALREADY KNOWS THIS.”
– Reg E. Gaines, NYC Downtown Urban Theater Festival Director, 2011
Tony-Award Nominated author of Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk

Dennis Leroy Kangalee as The Nomad Junkie fronts his theatrical punk band in "Gentrified Minds" (2011)  [photo by J.Lehrman]

Dennis Leroy Kangalee as The Nomad Junkie fronts his theatrical punk band in “Gentrified Minds” (2011) [photo by J.Lehrman]

Every now and then it is healthy to remember your personal war stories. From time to time, I will share bits and pieces of past works that might fit such a definition. Below are lyrics to the title song of my 2011 performance piece, “Gentrified Minds: The NY Horror Vol.2,” a musical spoken-word piece about gentrification. I was coming out of a long deep-seated emotional stir regarding the virulently corporate-friendly gentrified nature of NYC. It was stifling, sad, and arresting to feel like an alien in my hometown. My wife and muse Nina Fleck, pushed me to express my views about it all in a theatrical piece that combined our love for poetry, protest, and punk in one. It was meant to be a dagger in the side of the suburbanization/homogenization of New York City. To this day I don’t know a single soul who has gained anything as a result of the gross over-development of NYC. And if they did gain, it was just more money…and they were probably already rich to begin with. The project came to a swift halt in 2012 but it was one of the most thrilling and freeing experiences I ever had. It was the tail end of a long phase that gave birth to a number of poems in the guise of my “Nomad Junkie” persona and it was my last sigh in a tense chain of ‘holy rants’ and aggressive works that I construed to be viewed as poetic grenades. In the end, I was reminded that protest art doesn’t really do much to the status quo, but it does affirm the tremors of each choir member you may choose to preach to. And that’s all right, because that says a lot. It solidified my belief that the nature of true rebellion can never be popular. For when it becomes tamed — so does one’s passions.


Gentrified minds
Speak in gentrified times
Of gentrified ways
In gentrified days
With tongues that they stole
From mouths that they sold
In order to live “that way.”

“That way” is the day
That you knew you would pay
For the sins of a hustler
Who gave birth decay
My gait ain’t my own
Nor the shoes that I own
Barely’s the air that I suck
Or the sounds that I groan —

We are
Gentrified Minds.

I have no culture
Only a vulture
That breeds on my dying days.

Click here to see video excerpt of the performance.

or visit this earlier post

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Visit this link for a glimpse into an earlier phase of my NY Horror series.

(c) 2011 by Dennis Leroy Kangalee; Words by DL Kangalee, music by Bob Kuch.

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What Happened to the Brother on the Block? (The NY Horror Vol.1) [story excerpt]

Brother on Block (original)
…And as he stood on the footbridge, overlooking the L.I.E, making his way over the foliage slithering through the cement that still managed to breathe outside of LaGuardia – he turned to face the Shea Stadium he always passed on his way home in his youth, instead he was confronted with a garish gleaming light that spat wasted electricity through the famous Rockefeller octagon – only it was the glaring red of the otherwise impotent graffiti, below, that caught his eye, which innocently asked: Which way to New York?

Leroy had the Church of Scientology on one side and JP Morgan Chase bank on the other.

He knew he was in trouble.

But he figured if he couldn’t find salvation in one, he could always find it in the other. After all, the other, and more ancient, religions had failed him interminably and maybe now it was time to get with the program: money or outer space.

“Fuck it,” he thought, “I’m ready for it. Bring on the aliens.”

He knew it wouldn’t matter, that no extra-terrestrial invasion would change a thing – regardless of whether we were or weren’t demons from another moon-planet or the swapped saliva under Tom Cruise’s armpit. His mother, ironing clothes when he came home from school, holding up and shaking the iron every time L. Ron Hubbard’s commercials came on – the volcanic eruption, the flowing lava on the screen: “What the hell did Dianetics ever do for Black folks!” she’d cry and as soon as the sales pitch vanished and Oprah’s face filled the screen – she would calm back down.

She was frantic for understanding and honesty and generosity. Especially when it concerned money. Other people’s money. This was probably why he felt as foreign from the Capitalists as he did from the Scientologists, but he’d better get with the program – quick – or he’ll be destroyed. Cause if the Aliens from Hollywood don’t save him, then money will. And if that doesn’t work there is always death. Because when you’ve got a bank you can’t join and a church you can’t believe in, then your options don’t seem that great.

“No, couldn’t be,” he said to himself every morning, “this couldn’t be the end…”

He knew it was, or could be, or would be and it scared him. He was desperate to make a connection.

On his first day back the adrenalin pumping only crystallized his prey. He turned on his heel, looked down the block, hoping to find another brother from Back in the Day.

One, named Creepy, was the type of brother you take for granted.

Creepy Fist

He was a record-keeping device with veins. Some kind of anthropological scout in the form of a camera that pumped blood.

He knew everything about Harlem and had seen all the changes. Which is why whenever he saw Leroy – he’d raise his fist:

“So long, so long, since I’d seen a man —

not a son with a gun, but a man with a hand.”

And of course no one ever listened to him. He was not a prophet (he always said things would get better). The looming shadow that lurked over the corner he frequented proved that. The residents of his neighborhood had grown tired of his hallucinations and desired coffee instead.

Or at least that’s what the land developers said.

They had replaced the Brother on the block with a Starbucks and it was just the beginning of a very quick extermination.

Starbucks
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[An alternate version was originally published in “The Nerve Lantern”; then revised in the performance piece “Gentrified Minds: The NY Horror Vol.2”. This excerpt is from my spoken word text which can be heard here.]

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