Johnny America


Aunt Jemi­ma by Andy Warhol


It is cold. The build­ing which press­es up­on the gar­ret in which I mere­ly ex­ist is cov­ered in ice. I look through a win­dow in­to the build­ing next door and I see a young woman seat­ed at a ta­ble. A flim­sy ta­ble. This woman an­noys me. Her hair is in a bun. She eats milk pud­ding. A cat is on the ta­ble. Pi­cas­so was of­ten an­noyed by women, as was Hen­ry Miller, Seu­rat and Muhammed Ali. Bran­cusi hat­ed cats. The sym­bol­ism is obvious.

I of­ten wish to be a black man, al­lowed to call women “bitch­es” all the time. Black women in­dulge such be­hav­ior. But they do not fear mur­der once the blood has boiled.

The ice is dull gray. The cat licks pud­ding from the wom­an’s chin. I feel disgust.

And I feel now a sud­den and sweep­ing ter­ror. Aunt Jemi­ma has come to mind. Aunt Jemi­ma is a ghast­ly mur­der­ess. She once stalked gaslit streets, her shad­ow loom­ing up­on frozen walls. She cut their throats with a piece of brown glass, man and woman alike. A pho­to­graph was made on her ex­e­cu­tion day — a daugh­ter of Sa­tan, smil­ing to the end. She died with a ban­dan­na wrapped around her head. A cen­tu­ry away, an ad­ver­tis­ing man finds some­thing jol­ly in her im­age. The world is drenched in syrup. Syrup is blood, as every­one knows.

Snow con­tin­ues to fall, mut­ing all hu­man voic­es. The tem­per­a­ture drops to torture.

Aunt Jemi­ma, mur­der­ess — a lurid smile; a be­he­moth­’s bo­som. Thoughts of such evil over­whelm me with nausea.

I drink a bot­tle of alcohol.

I retch.

I per­spire from the crotch.

The build­ing freezes.

“Oh! Damn!” I cry unheard.

Andy Warhol made a por­trait of Aunt Jemi­ma. I can­not bear to look at it.

"Mammy" by Andy Warhol

Filed under Art on February 10th, 2004

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