14 January 2011

Mingus Tweets

Charles Mingus left us 32 years ago last week, succumbing to Lou Gehrig's Disease. Sometimes I think of which dead jazz musicians would have been great on Twitter, and if I could pick one person to resurrect solely for the purpose of reading his tweets, it would be Charles Mingus. I'm surely not the first person to wish Twitter had been around during the life of a particular historical figure. The social networking tool can be a gold mine when placed in the hands of the right celebrity or public figure (it can also be an entertaining train wreck or a dull bore, but I digress). A Mingus Twitter account would have been equal parts Angry Keith Jarrett (a fictional account), Cornel West, and Kanye. Why do I think this is the case? I've read Mingus' wild memoir, Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus. Written during the 1960s, the book is structured as a conversation with Mingus' therapist, and covers his sex life, thoughts on race and American society, and his contentious upbringing. The first draft was a 1,500-page manuscript, the published version was edited down to a little under 400 pages.

Below is a sample of what I think @Mingus would have been like. All the quotes are presented context-free, sometimes in more than 140 characters.
  • They shouldn't have stopped! They're all wrong--I was right! (p. 31)
  • "Fuck all you pathetic prejudiced cocksuckers," he thought. "I dig minds, inside and out. No race, no color, no sex. Don't show me no kind of skin 'cause I can see right through to the hate in your little undeveloped souls." (p. 66)
  • I don't ever want to stop thinking, it's the only way I can go forward. (p. 107)
  • [Fats Navarro to Mingus]: Jazz ain't supposed to make nobody no millions but that's where it's at. Them that shouldn't is raking it in but the purest are out in the street with me and Bird and it rains all over us, man.(p. 189)
  • I tried being a pimp, Fats. I didn't like it. (p. 191)
  • White cats take our music and make more money out of it than we ever did or do now! (p. 352)
  • Someday one of us put-down, outcast makers of jazz music should show those church-going clock-punchers that people like Monk and Bird are dying for what they believe. (p. 360)

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