To forget Etta Moten is to miss the chance to celebrate a life as eventful as the twentieth century she traversed, an American biography that boasted not only a second act but a third and a triumphant fourth.
In pursuit of that rough and ready insight, I’ve been listening to the right of wrong and to the wrong of right in Brooklyn music for a couple of years. Here follows a smidgeon of the music in Brooklyn and a little of the Brooklyn in music, overheard.
Though I in no way consider John Darnielle to be the only artist who negotiates his connection with his fans through sharing his pain, I appreciate the way he has interrogated this dynamic in his recent work, both lyrically and in prose.
“I’ve said that I have a love-hate relationship with the institute of higher learning, but I’m not opposed to scholarship. A poet is a scholar. I really believe that you should know not just your own age, but other ages.”
“When I turned eighteen, the cult just turned into the Devil’s playground. The cult was insisting on things from me and harassing me. They shaved my head, they forced me to do hard labor, I was being told I didn’t deserve nice things and I believed it. I think having my head shaved caused me to go into shock, but I then went to my dance teacher and I said to her that at Synanon, all the women shave their heads. My dance teacher couldn’t handle my shaved head and threw me out the school. And then it got worse and worse and worse.”