...and a twang of salt
March 28, 2010 9:33 AM   Subscribe

How to Eat Watermelon - life lessons from Petey Greene's Washington, 1982.

"I'll tell it to the hot, I'll tell it to the cold, I'll tell it to the young, I'll tell it to the old, I don't want no laughin', I don't want no cryin', and most of all, no signifyin' ..."

Ex-con, pioneer broadcaster, speechifier, hustler, entertainer, activist, 2-time Emmy Winner Petey Greene's story is viewable online in the 1 hour PBS documentary Adjust Your Color.

Greene was the subject Talk to Me, a film starring Don Cheadle. NPR reviews the film: Petey Greene: Pioneering Shock Jock.

For the real Petey, listen to Petey's speech to the 1982 graduating class of Whitman High School, Bethseda MD - a must hear, imo - available in the sidebar of the above NPR feature.

Many feel the film did not do justice to the life of Petey Green. Here's a sampling of some of the controversies and critiques:
When it comes to Petey Greene, Lurma Rackley wrote the book. So why didn't it become the source for Talk to Me?
Undercover Black Man: The real Petey Greene
Left Out of the Picture

More on Greene: Laugh If You Like, Ain’t a Damn Thing Funny: The Life Story of Ralph “Petey” Greene as Told to Lurma Rackley
posted by madamjujujive (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

I see he, too, disproves of Midori.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's easier to understand than this guy.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:44 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just to keep on the subject of things that are extremely tasty and map onto some stereotype or other -The Fried-Chicken Ideal - The Meaning and the Eating of the World's Best Food
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on March 28, 2010

Mayor Meeno is an easy mark.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:18 AM on March 28, 2010

And just to the right, Related Videos: Anal Sex - How to Make Her REALLY Want It.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:27 AM on March 28, 2010

Oh Dem Watermelons: mash up of Stephen Foster and Steve Reich
posted by hortense at 10:30 AM on March 28, 2010

That's REVEREND Petey Greene of Church of the Watermelon, of which I am a devout and practicing member! Hallelujah! Amen!
posted by kneecapped at 11:22 AM on March 28, 2010

Just twang it.
posted by nola at 12:19 PM on March 28, 2010

Am I missing something here? All I can see is a children's show in which racist stereotypes are perpetuated by an embodiment of that stereotype.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:53 PM on March 28, 2010

Well, Jon_Evil, I offered several supporting links so this clip wouldn't be devoid of any context.

This clip was not from a children's show (that was just a promo at the clip's beginning - I can see where that might be confusing) This was an excerpt from a Washington DC-based TV show called Petey Greene's Washington. Greene was a popular local radio and TV personality from the 60s to the 70s.

I see this is a humor piece with a satiric edge. He would have made this clip right in the era when black leaders and cultural figures were urging people to stop trying to be white and to to embrace their blackness. It was an era of Black Power, racial pride, "I'm Black and I'm Proud"

He's making fun of his friends that are tiptoeing around, cutting up watermelons and serving them up fancy. He's saying be yourself, be natural, just enjoy the freaking thing and stop worrying about being like the white folk cocktail circuit. And choosing a watermelon is sort of the same idea as his using the word nigger - stripping the negative of its power by claiming it.

I guess some of the links I offered are in the too long/didn't read or watch category, and if so, the entry on Wikipedia is probably the best quick source to learn more about Petey Greene, a pretty remarkable character.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:53 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I grew up listening to Petey Greene's Washington. I'm not sure I want to see that new movie. Maybe best to leave it as it is.

Jon_Evil said: "Am I missing something here?"

The FPP has numerous links for your edification, my friend.
posted by sidereal at 1:56 PM on March 28, 2010

BTW, in searching, I just came upon (and am watching now) a 90-minute documentary on Melvin Van Peebles entitled How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and enjoy it).
posted by madamjujujive at 2:28 PM on March 28, 2010

Ok. The clip made it seem like he was giving this as a lecture to children.
posted by Jon_Evil at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2010

Great post - really interesting. Never had heard of Petey Greene before. Thanks, mjjj...
posted by Miko at 4:51 PM on March 28, 2010

That was weird in so many ways.
posted by Flex1970 at 5:27 PM on March 28, 2010

That was mouth watering. And it made me smile on a number of levels.
posted by nickyskye at 5:46 PM on March 28, 2010

Yet another inexorable step taken towards my eventual comprehensive post of Greaseman clips. Bammas be ready.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:56 PM on March 28, 2010

I agree. With everything everyone said, I agree, too.
posted by humannaire at 9:39 PM on March 28, 2010

At a BBQ I was hosting, there was pressure to serve the huge chilled watermelon -- while my hands were full with the grill. For some reason I ended up lifting the watermelon to just over my head and letting it drop onto the stone patio. I have no idea if this would work a second or third time, but what happened was the rind cracked into about 6 separate pieces, each with the approximate configuration of a serving bowl, and the fruity flesh fractured into irregular chunks 2 or 3 inches in diameter within each bowl, which then simply had to be placed on the table for very convenient serve yourself finger food portions of watermelon.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:21 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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