Gatemouth is the man New York politicos love to hate. An angry, acerbic, absurdist, contrarian, pragmatic, partisan, neo-liberal, Bill Clintonite, New Democrat, with an intolerence for sacred cows and received wisdom, a love-hate relationship with politics as usual, and an alarming tendency to drop bad puns, obscure political history and esoteric cultural references.
Picture, if you can, Michael Kinsley trying to channel Groucho Marx while overdosing on Viagra, stuffed derma, and scratchy old jump blues 78s. Watch New York politics realistically portrayed as the theme park you always suspected it was. Then watch Gatemouth spoil it by paying too much attention to the man behind the curtain.
GATEMOUTH NEWS (This page was updated 11/13/07)
Folks, the good news is there's no need anymore to settle for palid imitators; Gatemouth is back and Room 8's got him!
But there's better news!!
Back when the Gate was a little fenster, Carnation Dairies ran a national ad campaign: "Our milk comes from contented cows" In 1977, when the late, great and lamented Phil Burton ran for House Majority Leader, one Charlie Rose of North Carolina (no, he never appeared at the 92nd Street Y), gave Burton's nomination speech, and noted that, in response to the Carnation campaign, a local NC dairy had put up a billboard sayng "Our Cows Are Not Contented; They Are Always Striving To Do Better". And so it is with Gatemouth. In the last few weeks, he's made his peace with Mole333, Bouldin, Rock Hackshaw and Maurice Gumbs; next week he's having a civil commitment ceremony in Prospect Park, and the best man will be FUSTB! (Hopefully, there will be a wedding shower). First stop on the honeymoon will be Mecca, followed by Islamabad!!! Can't wait to taste the authentic falafel and curry.
On this blog, the change is emblematized (Is that a word? If not, it is now! Neat, huh?) by a new title and sparking new features including reviews, celebrity endorsements and a Gatemouth FAQ. These features will be updated regularly (and have been since this piece was posted) in an effort to serve all your Gatemouth needs, so stay tuned for more fun and laughter!!!
Gatemouth: You've tried the rest, now try the best!!!!
WHAT THE BLOGGERS ARE SAYING ABOUT GATEMOUTH:
"The thing about a Mouth is that it not only emits, but it takes in. And similarly a Gate provides a negative and positive function. I find it instructive to see Gate Mouth swinging backwards and forwards while searching for Truth which those who are intelligent recognize as being illusive and never as simple as it seems. Gate Mouth is not a person. A good symbol. And an excellent lesson for a long Sunday."
- Maurice Gumbs
"I can't believe it, but the second time around, Gatey seems far better, sharper, wittier. Gatey, I might not always agree with you, but I can't stop reading your pieces (no matter how long), until the end. You know where all the bodies are buried and you're not afraid to tell! There's often poetry and humor in the way you tell your stories, which often makes for a fascinating read for those of us who are political junkies and don't otherwise have a score card. As someone else said, You can't make this stuff up. I eagerly await your book. Nowadays, Gatey is the reason I'm drawn to Room 8."
"I have really tried to be civil, gracious and friendly towards Gatemouth. Truly. I respect his writing abilities- even though at times he is somewhat confusing, long-winded ( but then so am I at times / I am sure), inane, redundant and pompous. I admire his knowledge of NYC’s political history-even though he sometimes gets his facts wrong (like we all do at times/ I am sure); and I definitely agree with some of his positions on some issues. But that’s neither here nor there; the fact remains that his cheap shots are just that: cheap. And Gatemouth is a cheap shot artist."
- Rock Hackshaw
"New York's solipsistic blogger diva. "
"I will admit I have grown accostomed to seeing you around here, and in fact find you more interesting to argue with when we disagree than I find some others who I actually agree with more but respect less"
"Gatemouth kills me."
- Lead Dog
"love your posts ... super psyched that you're on board ...it gaurantees (sic) us a good bit of knowledgable entertainment"
"I have had many a fight with Gatey, and I will be dissappointed if we didn't have many more over the coming years. Gatemouth is unique, and he is also provocative, but all in all to me, his writings, insights, commentary and historical knowledge of New York's politics is worth the ocassional ideosyncratic outburst from him. So he pulls his lil temper tantrums sometimes: don't we all do/lol? I almost stopped contributing once or twice/lol. Remember?
- Rock Hackshaw
"Gatemouth, you da shit."
"Antid Oto (Left Behinds)."
He was definitely the best funniest commentator on "The Politicker"
- Solomon Grundy (Left Behinds)
"you are as much a resource as google"
- Azi Paybarah (SOMEBODY PLEASE READ THIS POOR MAN"S BLOG!!!) UPDATE: Azi has moved to a place where people actually read his work, thereby losing his appeal as a cult figure. However, he's still the best Islamic Ashkenazi writing about New York politics.
"You should either be lecturing at a university or preparing an autobiographical novel."
- Maurice Gumbs
"BTW Gatemouth, I have seen them attempt to savage you at times on other blogs, all I can say is that your skin is definnitely thicker than mine. LOL (must be the melanin content / lol)."
- Rock Hackshaw"If it's a conspiracy to discredit Gatemouth, count me in"
"as someone who came out very strongly against your "retirement", publicly and privately, I'm glad to see you're back. I would be more glad if you hadn't come back with this vindictive drivel."
"Your wicked tongue combined with nearly-encyclopedic knowledge of the city's politcal history has been missed. Although I don't aspire to the former, I'd gladly be your padawan for the latter."
"I have disagreed with GM, but I have always found him insightful and filled with political history - not only of one neighborhood of Brooklyn, but of the whole city...Some bloggers just rattle...the anonymity of the computer gives them free reign to incessently idle about with their conspiracy theories and salacious gossip. GM didn't do that; he backed up the reasons for his statements (which is more than we can say for many bloggers). You may not have agreed with what he said ... but the mere fact that we came back and engaged him - and ourselves - is a testament to the power of his words, and the popularity and importance of the political blogger."
- Black Pride
"You are one only morsel of esoteric info away from taking my title: 'the black prince of the blogs'; and I will willingly concede."
- Rock Hackshaw
"I was semi-disingenuously trying to contribute to the myth of Gatemouth, raising the question of whether "Gatemouth" might be a JT Leroy-esque group effort... Is Gatemouth actually a 45-year-old San Franciscan (currently raising the illegitimate son she had with Jerry Garcia) and occasionally the bassist in her jam band? I think it's a valid question."
- Solomon Grundy
"If I had to name the most striking thing about New York City blogs, it's the number, variety and individuality of the personalities who write them, more often than not anonymously. That leads inescapably to Gatemouth over on Room Eight, whose views I may or may not share from time to time, but who is read by myself and quite a few others"
"For Gatemouth (and probably to a lesser extent “EnWhySeeWonk”), blogging is simply an intellectual exercise. To them it’s mental masturbation aiming to achieve some kind of cerebral orgasm."
- Rock Hackshaw
"the Dean, and the premier source of legitimate information"
- Maurice Gumbs
FOR A MORE THOROUGH ANALYSIS OF THE GATEMOUTH OUVRE click here and here. Other Room 8 pieces inspired by Gatemouth include:http://www.r8ny.com/blog/rock_hackshaw/hey_gatemouth_your_buddy_chuck_barron_called_this_morning.html
as well as these out and out imitators:
"Gatemouth is a valuable New Yorker"
- Ravi Batra
"Gatemouth is a fine writer"
- Charles Barron
"...worthy of wider circulation to provide thought food for many more people. I would like to read more of your thoughts..."
- Chris Owens
"you are a saul bellow character...fixated, detail-oriented, obsessive interiority"
- Ben Smith
"GATEMOUTH IS MY GOD! I LOVE AND WORSHIP HIS POSTS"
- Brooklyn Reformer (probably owns a dachshund)
"GM has his own agenda, and dances to his own unique beat. He in entertaining and well written, and sometimes quite wrong."
- Brooklyn Regular (knew the real Beadie Markowitz; likes anything on a rotisserie, including sports equiptment)
- Part of Gatemouth's gay cult
"What if Gatemouth had boobs?"
- Decidely not part of Gatemouth's gay cult (but perhaps a part of his tranny cult)
"Room Eight is really Room Gate"
- Just wants to get Rock Hackshaw's (curried) goat
"I pray to the dear lord that gatemouth has no children!!!!"
"Oh Gatemouth must be GOD since he actually knows what other people think so much. fucking little bitch ass is what he is. I happen to know that Gatemouth doesn't hate liberals, he just likes to sit at home and watch young boys on porn sites. I KNOW THIS!"
- Thinks that this will stop Bruce Ratner
- Another member of DDDB's moderate wing
"Gatemout (sic) is a twisted, nasty, vicious, reckless bastard who obviously needs a psychiatrist because he goes after good people without cause or justification. Gatemout (sic) epitomizes the ills of politics and the aversion to political blogs. If he has told one truth in all his days posting on the politicker, I would be surpised.(sic)"
- Either needs to see a dentist, or supports Chris Owens, but not both.
"A Poem by Gatemouth"
3 minutes have past
A new post at last
Will I be first to write
and grace everyone with my intellectual might
or will I just ad meaningless talk
because my only other friend is my____
And of course we can't forget a typical conversation from Gatemouth's Day
Intelligent Poster: Bloomberg and speaker pledge want to prohibit city officials from accepting any gift or meal from lobbyists and double fines for those who violate lobbying laws.
Gatemouth: Yeah well superman is better than Bloomberg.
Intellingent Poster: What???!!! Are you on crack?!!
Gatemouth: Shut up you are stupid. Back when Mario Cuomo was governer superman was on TV five times a week and Bloomber wasn't, so he is more popular because Gov. Cuomo gave him more time on TV since he was the governer.
Intelligent Poster: Um..."
-Poet and Playwright; Fired by Chris Quinn; still looking for work.
"Where is fat disgusting Gatemouth (Porky Pig)? Does he have any money to pay his rent ? How pathetic it must be to lumber out of bed every day with a big fat disgusting fat ass and realize you are still a loser."
-Queens Political Operative active in Flushing; apparently believes Gatemouth is the nom de plume of Gatemouth's greatest detractor ("How do you make an elephant disappear in a room full of people? Misdirection!"). CORRECTION: It appears that the boys who live by the Park were not referring to a fat ugly political operative from Brooklyn associated with the Meng family, but rather a fat ugly political operative from Queens associated with the Meng family; sorry, my bad.
"Gatemouth (whoever he is) is definitely effective. Although he was run off room 8 (probably because he was a fantastic writer and that made the other guys feel inadequate), whenever he interjects into a thread - and he comments on anything with accuracy and intellect - he has the microphone. I've found myself often saying, "I wonder what gatemouth has to say about this?"
- Probably runs a political party (probably won't be running it for long. UPDATE:No longer is.)
“YOU BUY A BAG OF PEANUTS IN THIS TOWN YOU GET A SONG WRIITEN ABOUT YOU” -
CHARLES FOSTER KANE
“Sexy Gatey what have you done
You made a fool of everyone
You made a fool of everyone
Sexy Gatey ooh what have you done.
Sexy Gatey you broke the rules
You layed it down for all to see
You layed it down for all to see
Sexy Gatey oooh you broke the rules.
One sunny day the world was waiting for a blogger
He came along to turn on everyone
Sexy Gatey the greatest of them all.
Sexy Gatey how did you know
The world was waiting just for you
The world was waiting just for you
Sexy Gatey oooh how did you know.
Sexy Gatey you'll get yours yet
However big you think you are
However big you think you are
Sexy Gatey oooh you'll get yours yet.
We gave him everything we owned just to post at his table
Just a smile would lighten everything
Sexy Gatey he's the latest and the greatest of them all.
He made a fool of everyone
However big you think you are
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:.
Q: Gatey, where can I find the famous piece where you compare Clarence Norman with Vito Lopez?
A: Almost all my work from the Ben Smith version of "The Politicker" became lost to history when they switched servers and all the haloscan comment archives, with a few strange exceptions, were deleted (or something), leaving only Ben's original posts. Luckily, Ben loved this piece so much, he posted the entire thing on the site itself.
Q: What about GM's other greatest hits?
A: Mostly gone. Up to a few weeks ago, a few haloscan threads survived out in cyberspace for no apparent reason. Forinstance, I found the day where Lead Dog and I drove Judith Memblatt off the site by googling our names. One can still find it on google, but today when I clicked to the post itself, it had no comments in it. I suspect somone, maybe Lead Dog, saved it, and it may turn up again. I'm putting out an APB. However, the day I drove Rock Hackshaw off the blog survives only in truncated form, with no hint of the dramatic denouncement, thank to Ben's editorial decision to to delete the thread at the point it got really interesting; just as well though, as Rock is a public asset.
I have no such confidence we will ever again see the "Chris Quinn-Flag salute" thread. Luckily, the "Chris Quinn firings tearfest" thread survives, with most of the anger and stupidity intact, despite Ben's frequently use of his zapper. But, compared to this thread in which the opponents of Atlantic Yards vent their anger at Ben Smith's penis and my taste in music, it is a model of restraint. The perhaps regretable "L'affair Dryfoos" stuff survives as well, but you'll have to find it yourself, and I won't even mention "blood libel".
Q: Is there any reason you didn't link any threads where people aren't threatening to bust a cap in yo ass?
A: My old man once told me you don't buy shoes at a habadashery. Trying to locate such pieces reminded me of why Jesus wasn't born in Albany; they couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.
Q: Mouth; your posts here are so reasoned and thoughtful, while the stuff you put on other blogs often seems like the irrational ravings of a deeply troubled individual in need of prozac; why the dichotomy?
Q: Gatey: your pieces here seem largely cobbled together from stuff you've posted on other sites; can you comment?
A: Although your points seem contradictory, they share more than a few elements of truth. I'm an environmentalist and believe in recycling and make no apologies for it. I consider this blog the "Gatemouth of Record", and I make an effort to memorialize my best material here; many pieces (including this one) are composites drawn from several different souces , but I strenuously try to avoid the immediate reflexive responses I've often posted in other places. Nonetheless, the spontaneity of my posts on other forums is useful in that it often leads to observations I later develop more fully, and never would have made otherwise; to complain about this as if it were some sort of a rip-off is like criticizing a novelist for drawing material from his notebooks. However, such a method can also lead to enormous errors of fact and judgment. While I've always considered the real deal to be here, clearly, that is a something of a mistake; those reflexive bursts of anger shot from the hip that I've posted on other sites are also "the Gatemouth of Record", and are now hostages to fortune. In fact, in that I can freely delete or rewrite anything I've posted here, while land mines I've dropped on other sites are beyond my ability to control, they are worse than hostages; I can neither pay the kidnappers, or sit back and let them die; everyday, through the wonders of google, they mock my attempts to falsely portray an omniscient intelligence, which I suppose is the appropriate punishment for my hubris.
Q: What's the story with Roscoe Conway?A: Roscoe Conway is a nom de plume via William Kennedy (Albany’s James Joyce), but not, as some suspect, a nom de plume for Gatemouth. One day, without solicitation, Roscoe just began attaching brilliantly written commentary to my posts, and virtually only my posts, in much the manner that legendary NYC DJ Vin Scelsa, (the Brilliant Pioneer of FM Rock Radio whose free form sets and witty and incisive commentary, although virtually without vitriol until the advent of the administration of the second George Bush, was a major influence upon Gatemouth in ways far beyond his choice of soundtracks, although in that way as well), used to receive in the mail (or so he claimed) the brilliantly pun-filled letters he read on the air from “T-Shirt and Razoo Kelly”. Roscoe channels the greats: Nelson Algren, David Mamet, Marty Connor, Jean Shepherd, Groucho and (unaccountably) Kurt Vonnegut.
Q: Gate, where did the name come from?
A: The name comes from two bluesmen. The more famous is Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. In the late forties and early fifties, Brown was a blues guitarist (with a substantial jazz element) who rivalled the great T-Bone Walker (the founder of electric blues guitar), but whose playing was more playful (both guys liked funny lyrics, but only Gatemouth would get lost in high speed solo and suddenly start playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" or "Yankee Doodle"). About 1960 or so, Gatemouth went into a sort of drift, and ended up, among others things, playing on a soul jazz session, leading the band on some "American Bandstand" knock-off out of Nashville, and becoming a Deputy Sheriff in New Mexico. He had a very minor novelty hit with a version of Little Jimmy Dickens' country smash "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose", and after taking part in some sessions in France, both as leader and as backing musicians for serious jazz guys like Arnett Cobb and Milt Buckner (as well as for a couple of bluesmen), he ended up doing as much Country and Western as anything. There were two country-cajun (a serious part of his Texas-Louisiana border heritage) albums on which he played mostly fiddle (on which he excelled) and a hot western-swing duet album with "He-Haw's" Roy Clark; Gate then made several guest appearances on "He-Haw" and "Austin City Limits". By the late seventies he was trying to synthesize the various strands of his identity, and finally in the 80's he put it together, reviving his career among the (mostly white) blues audience with a series of remarkable albums that refused to bow to any genre. By then he refused to call himself a bluesman, saying he played "American Music-Texas style". In this endeavor he utilized not only guitar and fiddle, but also drums, piano, harmonica and mandolin (and probably other instruments as well).
In his 80's and diagnosed with lung cancer, Gate was told that the process of giving his disease its due would immobilize him for some time with no guarantee of positive results. He passed upon chemo and decided to keep playing until he dropped. Bedridden in his house in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, his home was destroyed by Katrina, and he was taken by relatives from whence he came, his ancestral home of Orange, Texas, in Cajun country near the Lousiania border, where he died.
The other Gatemouth is Arnold Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore, a racy blues singer, who one day got a revelation from on-high, quit it all, and started singin the Gospel, becoming one of the greatest figures in that field. Apparently, one day, Moore failed to show at a blues singing appeareance, and after the announcement was made, a young man in the audience jumped up on-stage and yelled "Well, Gatemouth Brown is here!", and proceeded to perform a set; the name stuck. I'd like to think that Moore was out behind the club staring at a burning bush when Brown stole his name, and took up the devil's work in his place, but Clarence Brown appears to have been a saintly figure himself, who lived to make people smile (and chose death rather than to quit performing a moment sooner than he had to) while he did his own form of missionary work. Arnold Dwight Moore actually re-appeared in the early 70's to do one album with Johnny Otis and his son Shuggie (a Gatemouth Brown inspired guitarist) as part of their cut-rate "Great Rhythym and Blues Oldies" series. Shuggie is now a funk cult figure, but Johnny should be; a white man who decided he was black (and militant to boot, calling both the 1966 Watts and the 90's Rodney King riots "uprisings"), and was generally accepted as such in the communitiy, Otis was a talent scout, producer, singer, drummer, pianist, night club and label owner, amongst other things. He was also Chief of Staff to Mervyn Dymally, who served as Jerry Brown's first Lt. Governor (the next one was Mike Curb), and in Congress. Otis also was minister in his own church.
I like to think sometimes that my Gatemouth owes a lot to both namesakes, as well as to Johnny Otis, but that may just be drinking my own Kool-aid.
Q: OK, now I'm curious. If I want to hear some Gatemouth Brown, where do I start?
A: I think a good place to start is "One More Mile", which is the first album that successfully synthesizes the mix, everything from straight jazz to straight cajun (well as straight as Gate ever plays anything), but consistently swinging.
Any compilation of material from the forties or fifties has great stuff (better guitar playing too), in the jump blues/jazz vein, but the other American roots music that is Gate's heritage, and ours, is rarely in evidence.
The real prize may be Gate's Western Swing album with Roy Clark; truly the Black neck/Redneck coalition; Bill Clinton would be proud.
Those desiring further exploration may find this link helpful: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/bluesy2/gate/index.html&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522gatemouth%2Bbrown%2Bdisk%2Bguide%2522%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26rls%3DDELA,DELA:2006-01,DELA:en%26sa%3DG
Q: HEY GATEMOUTH, Is it true that you are half-black? Many of us out here in cyberland want to know .
A: Well, I'd be perfectly honest if I told you that I comb my hair with a pick, I'm darker than Johnny Otis, my ancestors were sometimes called schvartze, my grandfather was the spitting image of Flip Wilson, and I own a "Got Melanin" t-shirt. And, in the immortal words of former City Comptroller Mario Proccacino, "my heart is as black as yours".
THANK YOU GUR FOR YOUR TECHNICAL AND CREATIVE ASSISTANCE