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Scott-Heron: A Narrative Fiction

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Scott-Heron: A Narrative Fiction
Scott-Heron calls himself a bluesologist. He is sixty-one, tall and scrawny, and he lives in Harlem, in a ground-floor apartment that he doesn’t often leave. It is long and narrow, and there’s a bedspread covering a sliding glass door to a patio, so no light enters, making the place seem like a monk’s cell or a cave. Once, when I thought he was away, I called to convey a message, and he answered and said, “I’m here. Where else would a caveman be but in his cave?”

Recently, I arrived at his apartment while he was watching fight films with Mimi Little, whom he calls Miss Mimi. Miss Mimi helps run his affairs and those of his company, Brouhaha Music; the living room of his apartment is the company’s office. They were watching Muhammad Ali knock
…show more content…
“You hit like a baby.”

A crowd flooded the ring. “Look at these silly people,” Scott-Heron said. A large black man in a blue blazer wrapped his arms around Ali from behind and lifted him, and Ali waved his arms like a cranky baby. “Brother try to pick up Ali here. He says, ‘Put me down.’ ”

All you could see then of Ali in the blending swarm was his head and shoulders, so he looked like a bust. “Ali’s thirty-two, having been exiled to nowhere,” Scott-Heron said. “Unbelievable odds. I like to see unbelievable odds, because that’s what I’ve been facing all these years. When I feel like giving up, I like to watch this.”

The phone rang, and Little answered. She said it was Kim Jordan, his piano player. Little covered the phone and said, “She wants to know what to practice.” Scott-Heron had a performance that week in Washington, D.C. He kept his eyes on the screen. “ ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane,’ key of A,” he said. “ ‘I Call It Morning,’ ‘Give Her a Call.’ ”

“He’ll give you a call,” Little said.

“No, that’s the name of the song, ‘Give Her a Call,’ ” Scott-Heron
…show more content…
The couch was brown, with so many little black burn circles that they seemed worked into the fabric’s design. A few extension cords crossed a rug on the floor, and lying at his feet among them was a propane torch. Taped to the wall facing him was a piece of paper on which he had written, in capital letters, with a Sharpie, “nothing nice to talk about? nothing good to say? no yuks? no smiles? then shut up. the mngmt.” On the shelf of a cabinet were some books, and some DVDs, which he buys at a video store next door to the Apollo Theatre, on 125th Street. He especially likes shows and movies and cartoons from his childhood, such as “Top Cat” and “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and “Underdog.” “Your life has to consist of more than ‘Black people should unite,’ ” he said. “You hope they do, but not twenty-four hours a day. If you aren’t having no fun, die, because you’re running a worthless program, far as I’m

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