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Marc Dion
Marc Dion
29 Jun 2015
Is This Your Flag?

It flew over hundreds of thousands of obscenities of horror. The rape of young slave women, fresh from Africa,… Read More.

22 Jun 2015
Am I Black Enough For You?

Just last week I was writing about rap music. I listen to rap music not just because some of it is good writing,… Read More.

15 Jun 2015
Be My Woman

I heard it blowing out of the car radio just before we took the right turn into Target. My wife was driving. "… Read More.

Is My Microphone On?


He was straight outta Brooklyn, Jack Chakrin, who changed his name to Jack Carter a long time before dying, at 93, on the other edge of America.

He was an American Jew, as were a lot of the stand-up comics who came out of that time, hustling their way up through saloons and mob-owned supper clubs, Borscht Belt hotels and amateur hours.

Buddy, Benny, Jackie, all the boys. They're gone now, most of them and Carter's gone, too.

I loved them on "The Ed Sullivan Show," slick suits, shiny ties and fast, fast jokes like firecrackers going off in a bunch.

Comin' up, like P. Diddy coming out of a Harlem housing project, flying on nothing but the fast, fast words, delivery, pauses in the right places. Or the Notorious B.I.G. coming out of dope dealing with words, more words.

I like the word-hustlers. I like the guys who find that narrow edge of language and sharpen it until you can use it to cut a slice off the lush life.

There was a way to dress for guys like Cater. Shiny, tight narrow-lapelled sharkskin suit, pointy high-polish shoes, a narrow tie, cufflinks, a pinkie ring maybe and a white-on-white shirt. You shot your cuffs and started telling jokes.

"My old neighborhood was so tough ..."

And you rapped the joke out fast, ducking, rolling, pausing a little before the punch line then unloading and skating away fast.

Like rapping, slide the lines out smooth but never slow, then crash down on the chorus.

Rap to 'em about the smoke and the dope, tell 'em where you came from.

"My old neighborhood was so tough ..."

Always, from the old comics and the new rappers, some nod to the old neighborhood, that place you scuffled out of back when your sneakers were torn and dirty, before you had 150 pairs, all blindingly bright, before the pinkie ring.

"Steal, deal or hook," the old junkies say.

"Nobody rides for free."

Ah, but they do, the ones with the fast mouths and the slick words, the ones who know just when to pause and then drop the best line like a hammer.

Talk your way past the criminals on the corners of 1930 New York, the bookies and the bums, maybe join 'em for a little, but dance away fast, riding the fine, fat flow of words. Duck the dope dealers and the killers, slide right around the junkies, join 'em for a little and then roll away behind the words.

America says you can work your way out of poverty, get scholarships, go to law school, start as a dishwasher and end up owning 15 sub sandwich joints or a chain of muffler shops throughout some tri-state area.

America is right.

But for some of the boys (and girls) who come up hard and don't like school too much, there's always fast, fast words.

That's American, too.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Dion's newest book, "Marc Dion: Volume I," a collection of his best columns from 2014, is available for Nook and Kindle.



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