Carole’s notes on Ma Rainey (with links and annotations)

 

October 1, 2018: My Ma Rainey notes—

October 1, 2018: My Ma Rainey notes—

Related to Toledo’s first revealing commentary, and based on the premise that August Wilson was a pretty brilliant auto didactic and did not include anything in this play that he did not choose with a purpose—the Hull Train Crash in February 1927 in England—two trains on the same track in head-on collision led to 1927 Pathe film Express Train Disaster;

carbon monoxide and hydrogen —in “all things change” lines are in fact a potentially explosive combination (which could be disastrous) and in 1927 covalent hydrogen bonding was revealed in a paper by London and Heitler which elucidated quantum mechanics, and Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was also elucidated the same year—both of which provided information leading eventually to the development of the wartime atomic bomb and peaceful atomic energy. 

Toledo ‘s references to changing and atoms and molecules and trains on the same track may suggest Wilson’s foreshadowing of Levee’s clashes with Cutler over the existence of God and with Toledo when he was overcome by anger—leading to two knife threats and a stabbing.

Buddy Bolden was the cornetist credited by King Oliver as his influence—and King Oliver pioneered use of mutes, jazz solos—in Chicago in the 1920s. 

Toledo’s almost correct logic premise statement:

Aristotle says in logic it takes two premises to reach a conclusion—all men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal, is the classic Aristotelian example—Toledo is mortal, too. 

Toledo’s Pan-Africanist “stew” comments about Slow Drag’s comments may be related to W.E.B. Dubois’ theories and Marcus Garvey’s Return to Africa movement—there were four world conferences—third in 1923 and fourth in 1927—at the time Toledo begins to develop his theory about how the white man has digested the stew of African natives and how all “Negroes” who remain are leftovers—

The Blind Lemon dedication may have been chosen because he struggled with the same problem Ma Rainey did—he was brought from Dallas to Chicago by Mayo Williams to record for Paramount and his first widely successful recording was in 1926–unhappy with what he was paid, he moved with Mayo Williams in 1927 to Okeh Records for one record—may have accounted for some of Ma’s bravado about her options with Sturdyvant and her agent—

The Sunday Special reference may also be an allusion to the Great Flood of 1927, the year in which the play is set. The flood of the Mississippi River may have hastened the Great Migration, i.e., the mass movement, mainly by train, of blacks from Arkansas and Mississippi to cities in the North and Midwest. 

Lemon was born in Streetman, went from there to Dallas—knew Leadbelly and T Bone Walker—and wrote very popular railroad blues during the peak in the late 20s of the first wave of the mass migration. 

Also in 1927, a doctor named Raymond Pearl attacked the theory of eugenics in a book labelled The Biology of Superiority, criticizing the use of race in eugenics theory (regarding superiority of the white race), another piece of information accessible to a reader like Toledo, and maybe informing his black stew commentary. 

Louis Armstrong’s Mahogany Hill Stomp was a blues song about Lulu White’s brothel and barroom in New Orleans, where Levee offers to take Slow Drag to find a woman. 

Cutler’s telling of the Reverend Gates story led me to find a reference to Rev. JM Gates from Georgia, who recorded sermons and gospel songs from the mid-20s till the 40s and who supposedly introduced Thomas Dorsey to black gospel. 

Dorsey put together Ma Rainey’s Wildcats Jazz Band in the mid 20s: called Georgia Tom, he played with Tampa Red in her band, played blues piano and became an agent for Paramount records—so the Gates reference would seem to be another Wilson tribute to a “father” of gospel and jazz. Dorsey also had trouble getting paid by whites so opened the first black gospel recording company. 

The six of diamonds—the card Toledo draws for the magic trick, is variously described as representing loss or absence of someone, or personal accountability or generosity with strings attached—more foreshadowing of his fate? 

And then there are the shoe and walking blues images, from the clodhoppers Toledo wears to those that pinch Ma’s feet to the ones she’s going to buy—yellow and a half size bigger—for her best girl Dussie, to Levee’s soon scuffed fancy new dream shoes.

Robert Johnson, Jazz guitarist, the walking blues singer, was credited with signing a pact with the devil for in a two year period transforming himself from an adequate to a brilliant performer—Wilson’s takeoff on the story is the Eliza Cotter carpetbagger passage. 

And the money images, from the moon that slivers into 30 pieces of silver in the play’s preface, betrayal, maybe, of Levee’s dream of making it big by Sturdyvant, who tells Ma’s agent Levee’s music is the future of jazz then lies to Levee, tells him no one wants to hear it, and gives him $10, and reneges on his band promise, all for his own profit. 

Related to Toledo’s first revealing commentary, and based on the premise that August Wilson was a pretty brilliant auto didactic and did not include anything in this play that he did not choose with a purpose—the Hull Train Crash in February 1927 in England—two trains on the same track in head-on collision led to 1927 Pathe film Express Train Disaster;

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 7.15.41 AM

carbon monoxide and hydrogen —in “all things change” lines are in fact a potentially explosive combination (which could be disastrous) and in 1927 covalent hydrogen bonding was revealed in a paper by London and Heitler which elucidated quantum mechanics, and Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was also elucidated the same year—both of which provided information leading eventually to the development of the wartime atomic bomb and peaceful atomic energy. 

Toledo ‘s references to changing and atoms and molecules and trains on the same track may suggest Wilson’s foreshadowing of Levee’s clashes with Cutler over the existence of God and with Toledo when he was overcome by anger—leading to two knife threats and a stabbing.

Buddy Bolden was the cornetist credited by King Oliver as his influence—and King Oliver pioneered use of mutes, jazz solos—in Chicago in the 1920s. 

Toledo’s almost correct logic premise statement:

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 7.46.45 AM

Aristotle says in logic it takes two premises to reach a conclusion—all men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal, is the classic Aristotelian example—Toledo is mortal, too. 

Toledo’s Pan-Africanist “stew” comments about Slow Drag’s comments may be related to W.E.B. Dubois’ theories and Marcus Garvey’s Return to Africa movement—there were four world conferences—third in 1923 and fourth in 1927—at the time Toledo begins to develop his theory about how the white man has digested the stew of African natives and how all “Negroes” who remain are leftovers—

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 8.06.05 AM

The Blind Lemon dedication may have been chosen because he struggled with the same problem Ma Rainey did—he was brought from Dallas to Chicago by Mayo Williams to record for Paramount and his first widely successful recording was in 1926–unhappy with what he was paid, he moved with Mayo Williams in 1927 to Okeh Records for one record—may have accounted for some of Ma’s bravado about her options with Sturdyvant and her agent—

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 8.08.35 AM

The Sunday Special reference may also be an allusion to the Great Flood of 1927, the year in which the play is set. The flood of the Mississippi River may have hastened the Great Migration, i.e., the mass movement, mainly by train, of blacks from Arkansas and Mississippi to cities in the North and Midwest. 

Lemon was born in Streetman, went from there to Dallas—knew Leadbelly and T Bone Walker—and wrote very popular railroad blues during the peak in the late 20s of the first wave of the mass migration. 

Also in 1927, a doctor named Raymond Pearl attacked the theory of eugenics in a book labelled The Biology of Superiority, criticizing the use of race in eugenics theory (regarding superiority of the white race), another piece of information accessible to a reader like Toledo, and maybe informing his black stew commentary. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 8.12.41 AM

Louis Armstrong’s Mahogany Hill Stomp was a blues song about Lulu White’s brothel and barroom in New Orleans, where Levee offers to take Slow Drag to find a woman. 

Cutler’s telling of the Reverend Gates story led me to find a reference to Rev. JM Gates from Georgia, who recorded sermons and gospel songs from the mid-20s till the 40s and who supposedly introduced Thomas Dorsey to black gospel. 

Dorsey put together Ma Rainey’s Wildcats Jazz Band in the mid 20s: called Georgia Tom, he played with Tampa Red in her band, played blues piano and became an agent for Paramount records—so the Gates reference would seem to be another Wilson tribute to a “father” of gospel and jazz. Dorsey also had trouble getting paid by whites so opened the first black gospel recording company. 

The six of diamonds—the card Toledo draws for the magic trick, is variously described as representing loss or absence of someone, or personal accountability or generosity with strings attached—more foreshadowing of his fate? 

And then there are the shoe and walking blues images, from the clodhoppers Toledo wears to those that pinch Ma’s feet to the ones she’s going to buy—yellow and a half size bigger—for her best girl Dussie, to Levee’s soon scuffed fancy new dream shoes.

Robert Johnson, Jazz guitarist, the walking blues singer, was credited with signing a pact with the devil for in a two year period transforming himself from an adequate to a brilliant performer—Wilson’s takeoff on the story is the Eliza Cotter carpetbagger passage. 

And the money images, from the moon that slivers into 30 pieces of silver in the play’s preface, betrayal, maybe, of Levee’s dream of making it big by Sturdyvant, who tells Ma’s agent Levee’s music is the future of jazz then lies to Levee, tells him no one wants to hear it, and gives him $10, and reneges on his band promise, all for his own profit. 

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