Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rationality, and the Myth of Corporate Decision-Making

It appears fairly unanimous among the bland white oracles of Kansas City that the P&L District must be in the clear on this whole DJ Jazzy Jeff situation. Indeed, the Baron of Bland, Mike Hendricks, has decided from his Johnson County perspective, that there's not a racial narrative to be seen here. Move along, folks.

There are four main points he makes, and I'll address them in the order he makes them.

1. Nobody is stupid enough to hire a hip hop performer and not expect a hip hop performance, so DJ Jazzy Jeff's claim that the nature of his music is what caused the shut-down is baseless. This is certainly the spin that most defenders of "the way things are" have accepted. The unstated assumption, however, is that the corporation is rational, while the black performer is not. Nobody questions that DJ Jazzy Jeff would be perfectly happy to blow out a sound system and ruin his own reputation among booking agents, because, well, he's just a stupid black rapper. "They" do that kind of thing, don't they? But a corporation would never have one division (security, perhaps) disagree with a decision of another division (booking, perhaps). Anyone who has ever worked in a corporation knows that speaking of Cordish as though it is one rational decision-maker is insane. It is entirely plausible that the person who booked DJ Jazzy Jeff did so enthusiastically, while the security patrol on duty that night was horrified at the look and sound of the performance. It's also implausible to me (though I am no sound engineer) that Cordish would blow my tax dollars on a sound system that doesn't have some sort of system to prevent such overloads.

2. The black dude is being childish because he couldn't have everything his way. From his privileged suburban perspective, Mike Hendricks is perfectly willing to assume that Cordish is a model of effective decision-making, but he cannot conceive that the black people involved are telling the truth. Instead, it seems way easier to conclude that they were being immature and that DJ Jazzy Jeff was acting out his "huge ego". Notice that the guy who has managed to build a career catering to mostly white venue-owners is the irrational one with his ego out of joint, not some rent-a-cop working Saturday nights. You need to put your faith in someone, and it's clear that Hendricks, like much of the rest of the opinion-makers, prefers a paler, more corporate brand of truth.

3. "This being Kansas City, some are trying to turn this into a racial thing. . . . So until there's more proof to say there was anything more to this than a dispute over the sound system, everyone needs to calm down." Yes, friends, that is a direct quote. "Some" people want to turn stuff into a racial thing. This may be the most infuriating line of Hendricks' nonsense, but it underlies the thought-process of all of us who want to tuck this incident safely into a non-racial category. If there's not absolute proof that there was racism involved, we give the white, corporate people the benefit of the doubt and instead accuse those crazy black people of being bomb-throwing, over-reacting race-baiters.

Sorry, but a hip-hop concert at the P&L District is "a racial thing", whether anything happened or not. The very fact of DJ Jazzy Jeff playing on Cordish turf has more racial angles than a geometry book, and for Hendricks to try to strip this incident of its racial overtones is the height of blindness brought on by white privilege. Shame on him and on any person who wants to act like it is black people trying to make this into a racial thing. It is a racial thing, through and through. Even if the shut-down was motivated by absolutely pure motives, this was a "racial thing" from the git-go.

4. Blacks don't matter as much as greens. Fortunately, this is not a direct quotation, but Hendricks flat-out argues that potential money is more important than potential racism. Read it again for yourself, just in case you missed it:
It's not funny, though. Kansas City needs the Power & Light District to succeed.

So until there's more proof to say there was anything more to this than a dispute over the sound system, everyone needs to calm down.
Mike Hendricks is telling people to "calm down" about a potential tax-payer funded incident of racism because we need Cordish to make more money. He fails to state clearly what level of potential profitability we need to see at the P&L District before we should again care about racism in our community, but I'm sure he'll let us know when they reach it. Until then, calm down about racism, okay?

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Blogger m.v. said...

Did TKC write this? Because his favorite line of thinking is Johnson County=suburban=racist and a moron. I wasn't born or raised in JoCo nor do I care about Hendricks. But I am here to offer a big Johnson County "fuck you" to this equation and people who think it's a fact. I live in JoCo and my kid's school is easily 60% minority and the same number (if not more)probably qualifies for free lunches. In a mile radius of my house there are probably more people named Jose than Joe. Lets put it up against the numbers of your kids' schools or your neighbors. Living in the white enclave in Jackson County doesn't make you a race expert anymore than Hendricks, and white rich enclaves there are many in KCMO. You are not typing this at a ghetto library, you live just far enough to make you feel safe. At least TKC is a self-admitted joke-blog.

6/09/2009 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meesha is such a douche. Going off on two words to justify a long whine about the fact that he lives in the crappy part of JoCo. Wah wah wah. I bet Hendricks rolls up his windows and locks his doors when he drives through that part of town.

Besides, just yesterday Dan was saying he was living a suburban lifestyle. It's not like Dan's running around claiming to be an urban pioneer.

No wonder MV lives in JoCo - he has the right level of douchy cluelessness.

6/09/2009 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jako Sunshine said...

The person whom is the recipient of adverse action is often the first to complain of the action to discriminate. I have been to enough live performances to be wary of temperamental artists so leaving town with the money is the typical response without need for explaination.

Some may eagerly anticipate his return performance but the taxpayers have the biggest stake in the return engagement because we are already married to the outcome.

Cordish certainly made compromises to book the act and therein may lay the best groundwork of intention that can be deduced from this controversy. This is not where this debate should remain and both participants owe it to the community to move beyond this impasse to support their advocates and to negotiate a new venue for mutual benefit.

6/09/2009 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another perspective. I'm a musician and I like things loud. I have played jobs where I have been asked to turn it down on many occasions.

An act that has good management will find out about things like decibel restrictions before committing to a show. A good venue will clearly inform an act about these types of restrictions. KC Live is in the middle of several bars and restaurants, some of which have entertainment of their own inside. My bet is this isn't a race issue, but an issue of some idiot working for Cordish or DJ Jazzy Jeff or idiots from both sides who didn't discuss this issue in advance. This stuff happens more than you realize and it has to do with bad planning not race. You don't book the Blues Brothers to play in a C & W bar - think "Rawhide".

6/10/2009 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leaping to unsupported cries of racism seems to be the politically correct way to go these days. I was a professional musician for about 10 years. I played all kinds of venues throughout most of the U.S. I played with some nationally-known acts (they are old dudes now). When the management said to turn it down, however, we turned it down (or pretended to do so). Then, we'd gradually turn it back up until mgt told us to turn it down again. I recall a couple of instances where the main act got into it with management--wanted mgt to kiss their butts, etc.

I wasn't there when all of this happened with Jazzy Jeff. (I like most of his music--if that matters.) However, we need to find out what really happened before making mean-spirited allegations of racism. Dan, what if I called you a racist because you are a cheap tipper and you only gave an Asian waitress 5%? You may have had a good reason--poor service, etc. Are you a racist? Seems to me that the P&L folks gave a pretty good explanation for what they did. Again, I wasn't there--but I certainly am not going to jump to conclusions based on the whining of someone who apparently needs to be coddled. (Oops, I am jumping to a conclusion, too.)

6/13/2009 10:07 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

If you read carefully, you'll see that I'm not jumping to any conclusions, and I have been almost strident in my insistence that I was not there. Once again, I was not there. But my points are great ones, and, if you stop and think, instead of react, you might learn something. (If you want to jump to the conclusion that I just wrote an incredibly arrogant statement, you'd be correct on that!)

6/14/2009 4:17 PM  
Blogger Phil Cardarella said...

If the Power & White folks don't want hip-hoppers, hire Montavani. But Don't hire hip-hop and feign surprise that hip-hoppers come by.


Or maybe they are that dumb.

And bigoted.

6/15/2009 4:25 PM  
Blogger Phil Cardarella said...

Oh, and for a minor fee, I would be willing to locate the volume control to solve their other problem.

6/15/2009 4:26 PM  
Blogger Phil Cardarella said...

If the Power & White folks don't want hip-hoppers, hire Montavani. But Don't hire hip-hop and feign surprise that hip-hoppers come by.


Or maybe they are that dumb.

And bigoted.

6/15/2009 4:27 PM  

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