August 15, 2007

END OF SUMMER STORY-THON, Day 3 (more info on Story-Thon here)

Today's suggestion is from Garrett Palm: "Lunch time at the Apollo"

Dear Members Of The Harlem Entertainment Community,

For decades now, our community has been centered around the Apollo Theater. New acts have risen on the enthusiastic support of the crowd, and other new acts have fallen based on the crowd’s vocal disapproval. As you know, when the crowd seems to disapprove, acts are “danced off” by The Sandman. I don’t mean to rock the boat, but I think it is high time we realize The Sandman may be too hubristic and free-ranging in his dancing-off powers. As a wiser man than myself once asked, who will watch the watchmen? Or in this case, distinguished members of the Harlem entertainment community: who will dance off The Sandman?

Many of you may be quick to call my impartiality towards the Sandman into question, as on a recent Sunday, he danced off none other than my lovely eleven-year-old daughter Shirelle, who was in the midst of a stirring medley of classic gospel tunes. I can assure you, my concerns about The Sandman far predate my daughter’s dancing-off, though I think we can all agree said dancing-off was premature and seemingly out of step with the crowd’s reaction to my daughter, which my wife and I both agree was hushed and respectful. It is simply another case of the Sandman seeming to respond more to his own power-mad whims than the reaction of the assembled polity. It is merely a symptom, not the whole problem. The problem is the Sandman’s brutal executive overreach.

Another case of this overreach occurred a few weeks ago, when a charming group of young doo-woppers called The Dreamlistics were chased from the stage by The Sandman’s jackboot-like tap shoes. Granted, in this case, the audience could be heard to be shouting things like “Get off the stage!” at the performers, but if one really listened to the tone in which these things were shouted, it may have been that the audience was shouting “Get off the stage” in the manner that one might say “Get out!” to one’s friend when they have just said something so amazing and unbelievable you can’t bear it. My wife and I both agree that this might have been exactly what they were doing. A few wags might cast doubt on my unbiased perspective on this particular incident by pointing out that one member of The Dreamlistics is my nephew Charles and another member is my son Dwayne. I would counter that The Dreamlistics have five members, meaning I am not related to a majority of the group. And in a democracy, the majority is what matters. I remember this fact while Mr. Sandman seems to have forgotten it entirely.

Like many cruel fascist dictators throughout history, The Sandman silences dissent. I myself was danced off when I tried to bend the community’s ear about The Sandman’s insane abuses of power. I grant you that at the time, I was onstage at The Apollo, which is admittedly The Sandman’s domain, but I ask you, how long before he expands that domain? How long before ministers will shrink from trumpeting an unpopular opinion at the pulpit lest they be crushed beneath The Sandman’s ironclad soft-shoe? How long before scientists will conceal the results of their controversial studies for fear of being chased out of their own laboratories by an imperialistic shuffle-off-to-Buffalo?

These are exactly the things I would have asked you when I rushed the stage on Saturday, a few moments after my wife and I were danced off in the middle of our tightly choreographed, impeccably pitched “Ice Cream Castles” duet. Of any of the dance-offs I have complained about, The Sandman would seem to have been responding the most directly to audience reaction on this one. I will admit that among the things shouted were: “Boo!” “You SUCK!” and, perhaps most hurtfully, “The Clavis family is like the Jackson family except they were never any good!” The veracity of these comments aside, I would not put it past The Sandman to have greased a few palms in order to get audience plants to scream these things and give his dancing-off the appearance of legitimacy. It is my understanding that The Sandman makes upwards of seven hundred dollars a week; it is not unthinkable that he might put some of those funds towards manufacturing consent. My wife and I agree this could happen.

I have tacked this letter to the door of The Apollo, where I hope a few people will read it and hopefully have their minds changed, before The Sandman’s thugs inevitably tear it down and throw it on the ground for their tapping Caesar to stomp upon. That is the best I can hope for.

Know this, Mr. Sandman: you may be able to kick-ball-change rampantly over the dreams of talented little girls from aspiring show business families, but you will never be able to dance off an idea.


Dwayne Clavis, Sr.
Manager, The Clavis Family Singers (available for parties and dances.)

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