Assign Me Up, Chuck
The only conceivable reasons to run a Chuck Brown feature in 2009
“Chuck Brown's Long Dance,” last Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine cover story about the godfather of D.C. go-go music, was an illustration of the importance of editing. Brown’s audience? “30- to 40-something African Americans.” Later we learn that his audience “is made up of mostly 30- and 40-something African Americans.” Brown’s prison stint? “Back then, Lorton was like a school,” he tells author Robin Rose Parker. Later he tells her “Lorton was a schoolhouse,” adding for good measure, “It was like a college.” And what of Parker’s assertion that Brown’s 1979 hit “Bustin’ Loose” was released “decades before his high school audience was born”? Considering today’s seniors were mostly born in 1992, those must have been some short decades! But the problems with this piece don’t end with line-editing—you have to wonder why a feature on Brown got assigned in the first place, when there is nothing new left to say about the legendary musician, who rates over 11,000 results in a Google search for “Washington Post” plus his name. However! There are still some scenarios under which a Chuck Brown feature might be worthwhile reading, as long as the Godfather is still winding up the living. For instance:
Chuck Brown’s Global War on Terrorism
It is one thing to bemoan the United States’ purported use of torture on suspected terrorists. It is another to note that 24 is a really good show, and sometimes rules have to be broken to ensure peace. While Charles Graner and Lynndie England earned prison stints for their boneheaded prisoner abuse, an elite squad of undercover psyops specialists has turned CIA “black sites” into confession factories—and there has not been an attack on U.S. soil in eight years. Thank you, Chuck Brown.
Chuck Brown Saves the Redskins
Greg Blache didn’t fire up the Skins during halftime with an emotional speech that led to last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was actually Brown, who is secretly Sean Taylor’s uncle and has sworn to return the team’s D to what it could have been had his nephew lived. Blache is retired and living in Boca; Brown wears a full-sized suit to impersonate him on the sidelines. Also, Brown, working with Andy Garcia (uncle to Taylor’s partner, Jackie Garcia) is close to finding Taylor’s real murderer: a forensic scientist–cum–serial killer in the Miami Police Department who blamed Taylor for Rod Gardner’s lackluster career. First, however, Brown and Garcia must befriend the forensic scientist for several episodes.
Chuck Brown Invades Nashville
Bored with decades of love and adulation, Brown, a fan of Marcel Duchamp, decides to become the sort of artist who invites scorn and ridicule. Because it’s impossible for him to become a white reggae musician (and unlikely that he’ll consent to another Thievery Corporation cameo), he opts for the second best thing: black country singer. With Cleve Francis, Darius Rucker, and Cowboy Troy, Brown forms the first all-African-American country & western tribute band, the Charley Prides.
Chuck Brown, Consumer Advocate
Although his D.C. Lotto commercial is one of the catchiest spots of all time, Brown has never been able to work that marketing magic in an Eastern Motors ad. Brown’s talks with the second-chance auto store fell through when the the Godfather learned of Eastern’s tagline “Your Job's Your Credit,” because as a successful working musician who has managed to raise children and keep himself in luxury cars and silk shirts for the last 40 years, he is savvy enough to know that nobody’s job is their fucking credit.
Photo illustrations by Brooke Hatfield