Ol’ Man River by MAXINE

ol man river

Editor’s note: MAXINE sums up learning, loving and life

Dere’s an ol’ man called de Mississippi,
Dat’s de ol’ man dat I’d like to be, (Ol Man River-Showboat 1927)

Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire, the things that can kill us are what turn us on the most. So bad but so good at the same time. It’s like listening to a Michael Jackson song while awaiting the verdict in his 2005 child molestation case. If he’s ‘guilty’, oh the drama that would ensue! If he’s ‘not guilty’ even more drama would ensue! See, like the Mississippi River, we just keep rolling along, propelled by something akin to desire and ecstasy. ‘Butterflies’ plays in the background…

“I caress you, let you taste us, just so blissful listen
I would give you anything baby, just make my dreams come true
Oh baby you give me butterflies inside”

In that moment, that 1:45 seconds, his falsetto takes me so high, higher than any allegations, rumors, or opinions from others, to a place meant for the indulgence of love, truth and passion. The song ends, the glassy-eyed sentiment is over, and I think to myself, “did an alleged child molester just tell my story better than it’s ever been told?”

He mus’ know sumpin’,
But don’ say nothin’;

Whenever I’m in Brooklyn, I hit up one particular store for apples. The problem is that this supermarket has shitty produce stock. The apples always taste like there’s a waxy Carmex film. No amount of washing can ever dissolve all of the strange wax, a simple solution is to a)not buy apples from this particular store or b)not eat the apples. No no no. Attraction is a powerful thing. I guarantee the one day I decide not to purchase apples from this store’s shitty produce stock is the one day the waxy film
disappears, and then what?! All those days of waxy red apple tasting will be for naught? Those who know won’t tell and those who’ll tell don’t know.

What does he care if de world’s got troubles?
What does he care if de land ain’t free?

Keep on movin, keep on movin, don’t stop no. Remember that old Soul 2 Soul song? That ‘s what we do, we keep going, no matter the troubles, not matter the slavery, the price of the land that is ours to begin with. We keep going. The mental slavery is one from which there is no emancipation. As the years pass us by, we reflect on things we’ve loved, lost and learned from, but where is the change? Our world is only as wide as we allow it to be. I see you nodding your head to the newest Weezy F track. I saw you clapping your hands to that “Ay Bay Bay” joint. Throw on some of that old R.Kelly and see how many pairs of panties you can catch. None but ourselves can free our minds. Desire and ecstasy.

You an’ me, we sweat an’ strain,
Body all achin’ and racked with pain.

We try though. Yes we do try. We like the process of trying. We like to create more fuel for the addiction. The rush. The panic at failing. The fear of flying, being, wanting. The Chilli Peppers aren’t the only cats who like pleasure spiked with pain. What’s your aeroplane? We push, pull and plead for the change. The change to what? How do we change something we
don’t understand? But we like to try. The trying shows that we are aware, the blood, sweat and tears show the pain, and the pain is the proof. The proof that this isn’t all there is, there is more than us. More than we are. But who are we? We have been conditioned to be programmed by fear, the fear of changing or being better. The fear fuels the addiction, the pain is the proof in trying. We eliminate that which slows us down. How can we eliminate ourselves?

Git a little drunk,
An’ you lands in jail!

Lisa Fischer once asked, “How can I ease the pain?” At some points in the song she almost whispers the words, other times her vocals are so scintillating and powerful that I find myself straining to answer her question. How? Those things that can kill us are what turn us on the most. Ease the pain, not make it go away, ease it. Make it more necessary. See, we like things that hurt, just enough for us to feel them. A little mixed with a lot is a deadly combination. All of a sudden there is no stopping, the inertia of the mind takes over, our desires and ecstasy wait for us at the bottom and we run toward it, full force.

Ah’m tired o’ livin’,
And skeered o’ dyin’

We are never tired. Never tired of the struggle, the hustle. Addiction needs fuel, and we are addicted…to the life. Addicted to the love, to the truth, to the understanding. We tire from the process but oh, how we love it! Nothing more than to be martyr of ourselves. Who wouldn’t sacrifice themselves for themselves? A better being. Dying is part of the process but not really. People who jump out of planes always wear parachutes. We just want to get taken to the brink, the brink of no return, only to save ourselves by pulling the cord. It can be like sex. Daring, reckless, dangerous, warm, beautiful, necessary. Fuck that suede headboard, silk scarves, and strawberries and shit. Pure, unadulturated, sweaty, grimy sex. Ah, the things that turn us on the most right? Then he wakes up in the morning and goes home to his wife.

But Ol’ Man River,
He jes’ keeps rollin’ along!

We go on, we continue, we move, we love, we grow, we…are. Everything we want to be, and more. We take from ourselves, from the world, from each other, and we flow. Like honey, slowly and sweetly. When things get sticky, well, we enjoy it and use the setback as a lubricant for things not so easily achievable. Because the harder things always come. We like it, we find our strength in the understanding of the unknown. Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire, my love is blind can’t you see my desire?

2 Responses to “Ol’ Man River by MAXINE”

  1. Jaislayer says:

    Very good post. We need reasons to complain, so we enjoy a second of pleasure for a life of pain.

    “What would I do if we were pecfect
    Where would I go for disappointment
    Love without pain would leave me wondering why I stayed”

    Down Here In Hell (With You)- Van Hunt

  2. Ernest Paniccioli says:

    and like that river I keep creating and flowing and fighting the power, decade after decade for over 60 years…..
    Happy New Year.

    I’ve decided to self publish a variety of books.

    Including a 5 volume set of the 5 Elements of Hip Hop over a thirty year period.

    Three books of my artwork, one of black and white drawings, one of color images and a book of my collages created from 1967-1971.

    Just completed the first book “Four Decades of Artwork By Ernie Paniccioli” a limited edition (25 copies) collectors edition. It contains 50 drawings that I did from 1967-2007. The price is based on the fact that it is a unique limited edition.
    It is now available from http://www.lulu.com

    Any help or publicity you can offer on this and future books I do will be deeply appreciated.
    Thanks, Brother Ernie

    The Other Side of Hip Hop” a movie on my life, art politics and photography has been awarded Best Documentary in the 2007 Big Apple Film Festival.


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