We Hood! We Votin'--and Throwin' It Up!

How an infectious new Obama video Jes Grew.


In Ishmael Reed's 1972 novel Mumbo Jumbo, a dangerous epidemic, "Jes Grew" threatens 1920s America. For the uninfected, the virus' symptoms are troubling and sudden, centering on an obsession with the dances, lingo and clandestine locations associated with ragtime and jazz. Jes Grew infections start in the country's colored precincts, but the virus soon shows itself capable of spreading to nation's most vulnerable - young white people - sending them out into the streets shaking and twirling and hot with a fever that was "electric as life and […] characterized by ebullience and ecstasy." Far from being simple young-people foolishness, the outbreak threatens the very fabric of Western Civilization itself what with all the freed asses (and hence minds) it engenders.

A white secret society called the Wallflower Order tries to stop Jes Grew. Its weapon? A "talking android," which is to say, a black man who renounced all aspects of black culture as pathological, primitive and self-defeating. (Insert the name of your favorite black conservative here.)

Flash forward 80 years from Reed's fictional/non-fictional world, and your humble narrator (aka, me) is sitting on his putatively free ass, whiling away some spare time on YouTube. A friend has just sent me a new Obama viral video, a Day-Glo music-vid by Sa-Ra Creative Partners member Taz Arnold. Hung on a single, loopy lyric verse and an iconic Isley Brothers sample, Arnold's contribution to the ever growing corpus of Obama-related youtubery is an ebullient and ecstatic little trifle.

This is real and not for play

I'ma vote Obama way

We hood, We votin' and throwin' it up.



Most notable for me was not the video's pro-Obama message, but how it summarizes a certain, mashed-up segment of black L.A. hipsterdom. Spandex and baseball caps, Hollywood Boulevard and the Watts Towers, crotch-hugging skinny rock pants and low-slung hip-hop denim all bump against one another and cohabitate in the L.A. sun, and all of that black diversity and enthusiasm feel completely united under the rising red-white-and-blue sun of the Obama logo. It's the perfect video to watch today, and the best thing is that I am pretty sure there will be a better one tomorrow.