Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goodbye, Anita.

A friend recently wrote to remind me of an obit-memory written for Shuffle Boil just after Anita O'Day's departure from our world. I had almost forgot about, and how much I liked, it. So, here it is, in "one take." Typos and all.

Special thanks, Karen.

Goodbye, Anita.
> Roland Barthes wrote us that we live in what he called
> the Republic of the Image. But of course the image
> had to come from somewhere. Jacques Derrida reminded
> us that in order for the image to be stabelized it
> must always-already be destablizing, thus obscuring,
> another. In this present moment where wearing the
> coat of arms that is Feminism or even Marxism has
> become too easy, a bit like the kid who likes to
> read the back of the book and then have a discussion
> of its contents (James Dean?), Anita O'Day was
> authentic. She and her image were united in the
> divine symbiosis of form and content. She was
> exactly who you heard and what you saw. No need for
> clever rhetoric one day and callus reason the next.
> Persona, personae and other cloak and dagger
> routines of indentity affected for the unwary and
> unwise? No way! A close reading of her autobiography
> High Times, Hard Times. See what I mean.
> Hip before hep, wearing the pants before it was in
> step. Anita was, as they say, The Man.
> In an era when sly inuendo and skillful double
> entedre made or broke the career of the jazz singer
> Anita mastered both. Her powerful use of subtle
> phrasing and breath line to modulate between melodic
> and speech like delivery continue to damn sure tell
> it like it is. Like it really is then and today
> without the chicanery and foolishness of faux
> spiritual and political sloganeering so prevelant in
> todays pop song. Her early work with Roy Eldridge
> broke the color and gender barriers simultaneuosly
> with finesse and courage as well and hipness and
> humanity. Try that litmus test on todays art scene!
> Ouch. As a longtime fan i've been both humbled to
> depths of self loathing and inspired to flights of
> egoistic grace by this singular artist. Her
> existential asides from the original recording of
> Anitas Blues will keep the love light on far past
> 'round midnight. I love you Anita, I love you like a
> school boy loves his pie!
> JD

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