Other than the odd online brawl with Dudebro Nation, I had an uneventful week until Thursday night. I was about to work on this post when a spectacular and terrifying light show began. It was as intense as a thunderstorm can be without rising to the level of a hurricane. It did, however, show some signs of an eye and organization. Give me a blind, sloppy and disorganized storm any day. We didn’t lose power here at the Adrastos Virtual Cafe but I slept fitfully. Oscar cowered along with me whereas Della didn’t give a shit. As for Dr. A, her ability to sleep through storms that rattle the windows is unparalleled. This one, however, briefly stirred her to wakefulness.
A friend of mine recently asked why I hadn’t used a Todd Rundgren tune as the theme song for this feature. I had no coherent answer; not that anybody expects coherence from me. I told him that I was planning to do so some time in the near future. There’s no time like the present. Parallel Lines comes from the great 1989 album Nearly Human; it’s my favorite Rundgrenian (ite?) ballad. I’m presenting two renditions beginning with the studio version followed by a teevee appearance with David Sanborn:
It’s lagniappe time. I could have sworn that I’d seen a version of Parallel Lines from Live From Daryl’s House but I cannot for the life of me find the bugger online. In lieu of that, here are two sons of Philly singing another tremendous Todd tune at his humble abode in Hawaii in 2011:
You’ll hear more about Daryl Hall anon. That’s a fancy way of saying later. La-de-da. Now that we’ve called in the Hall monitor, it’s time to munch on some Oates and move on to the break.
We begin with a serious piece from a new ESPN web site that’s dedicated to African-American culture in all its complex glory, The Undefeated:
The Waco Horror is the story of an infamous lynching that occurred in Waco, Texas 100 years ago this month. The piece is written by Jesse Washington who shares a name with the victim of that atrocious event. It’s a fine piece of writing in the classic new journalism style created back in the day by Talese, Wolfe, Didion, and Mailer. Washington is a character in the story of the Other Jesse Washington, and how the attempt by some folks to commemorate the lynching met with considerable resistance from an amnesiac white population. Washington describes a visit to the McLendon County Courthouse thusly:
Through the entrance and past the metal detector is a circular lobby, three stories high, with wide hallways heading north, south, east and west. High above, the dome beneath Themis’ feet glitters with blue and red stained glass. Six painted murals circle the ground-floor lobby, depicting Waco’s history starting from its 1837 founding as Fort Fisher, a temporary Texas Ranger station. Painted on one panel is a circular piece of rope suspended from a bushy green tree outside the courthouse.
“ ‘Hanging tree’ with noose,” the caption reads, below a list of educational and cultural landmarks and the headline “Athens of Texas.”
I’d been aggravated by the noose for years, since reading about an unsuccessful attempt to have it painted over. But then I see something even more disturbing.
Beneath the mural, mounted on a small wooden stand, is the resolution ultimately passed by the county commissioners after they refused to say a word in response to the proposal by Gibson, the lone black commissioner.
The document begins by saying lynching was “a widely documented and accepted practice in the United States, the State of Texas, and McLennan County from the early 1800’s to the 1920’s.” The second paragraph says “lynching affected people of all colors and races.” The resolution concludes three vague paragraphs later, without mentioning the specific lynching that was so barbaric it immediately made international headlines.
The name Jesse Washington is not there.
Apologies for the epic quote but it’s too well-constructed to chop up. The Waco Horror is a must-read piece that intertwines history with current events to tell a compelling and important story.
It’s time to lighten things up and talk about one of my favorite subjects, music:
Salon Meets Daryl Hall: The folks at Salon took a break from Dudebroing to publish something of interest. It’s getting rarer and rarer but I’ll take what I can get. The interview conducted by David Masciotra with the blonder half of Hall & Oates became something of a cause celebre because of this passage:
One of the current debates is over “cultural appropriation” – The idea that white people should not appropriate the culture of ethnic and racial minorities. I know that you don’t like the term “blue eyed soul.” Have you followed this conversation?
Are you trying to say that I don’t own the style of music that I grew up with and sing? I grew up with this music. It is not about being black or white. That is the most naïve attitude I’ve ever heard in my life. That is so far in the past, I hope, for everyone’s sake. It isn’t even an issue to discuss. The music that you listened to when you grew up is your music. It has nothing to do with “cultural appropriation.”
I agree with you entirely, because…
I’m glad that you do, because anyone who says that should shut the fuck up.
Well, this entire critique is coming back…
I’m sorry to hear it. Who is making these critiques? Who do they write for? What are their credentials to give an opinion like that? Who are they?
Much of it is academic.
Well, then they should go back to school. Academia? Now, there’s a hotbed of idiocy.
Anyone who knows about music, about culture in general, understands that everything is much more natural. Everything is a mixture.
We live in America. That’s our entire culture. Our culture is a blend. It isn’t split up into groups. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool – worse than a fool – a dangerous fool.
In a follow-up piece Mascriota describes the reaction of wingnuts who claimed that Hall “destroyed” him. They incorrectly assumed that Mascriota and his editor were slaves to political correctness whatever the hell that means. Here’s how he concluded the sequel to his chat with Hall:
My editor’s immediate reaction to the interview was a succinct endorsement: “This is amazing.” I have written several essays ridiculing political correctness on the left – the most recent of which is available at Splice Today. I have written books on Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp – two artists profoundly influenced by black musicians – and as I write inside my home office, I’m looking at a picture of Elvis Presley hanging on the wall. If I actually believed that white musicians who play or sing according to a black influence were guilty of a cultural crime, I would have to destroy half of my record collection and disavow two of my own books. In the leap to conclude that I am the stereotype of their limited imaginations, they made fools of themselves, but that is hardly anything new.
I love Hall’s description of academia as a hotbed of idiocy. That’s equally true of conservative twitter, which is full of twits with too much time on their hands. It almost makes me wonder if Maneater is autobiographical:
Yeah, I know it’s a stretch but Daryl Hall is a tough and whip smart maneater in his own right. Make sure you read the whole article. It *almost* compensates for some of their crappier political coverage. David Talbot weeps.
We move on to the story of the ultimate sibling rivalry, classic Hollywood style.
Joan Hates Olivia: Olivia de Havilland is 99 years old. She’s one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Olivia and her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, were both Oscar winners and big stars. The had something else in common: they couldn’t stand one another. Joan died a few years ago at the advanced age of 96 but Olivia endures. She granted a rare interview to Vanity Fair’s William Stadiem for the magaizne’s sisters issue. They covered a wide range of topics, but the sibling rivalry inevitably came up and, as always, Olivia was gracious about her late sister. She didn’t like Joan but the latter was the primary combatant. There is a picture at the beginning of the print article and in the online slideshow of the two out to dinner that sums up their relationship perfectly:
Olivia is in the foreground looking vexed with her kid sister who is on the left side of the image. Sibling rivalry is ugly even when it involves beautiful women.
Olivia de Havilland is best remembered for playing goody two shoes Melanie in Gone With The Wind. In real life, she was a tough broad who helped smash the Hollywood contract system in court. I’m particularly fond of the seven films she made with Errol Flynn. They had amazing chemistry. Here’s Olivia’s account of their last meeting:
Although the age of the celebrity stalker had not yet dawned, the normally unflappable Olivia de Havilland could not help being discomfited by the disheveled man with the dead eyes who would not stop staring at her. It was 1957. She was at a charity ball for the costumers union at Conrad Hilton’s sparkling new hotel, the Beverly Hilton.
But who was this creepy man who wouldn’t go away? All Olivia could do was turn her back and protectively chat with her old friend William Schallert, the son of the longtime drama critic of the Los Angeles Times and one of many talented character actors who had been body-snatched, to borrow a term from that paranoid era, by television. (He would soon have several episodes of Gunsmoke to his credit.) “Suddenly I felt a kiss on the back of my neck,” Olivia recalls. She was too polite to dream of calling security. “I turned around and it was that man. He was gaunt. His clothes didn’t fit. But it was those lifeless eyes that troubled me. ‘Do I know you?’ I asked him.”
“It’s Errol,” he replied.
“Errol who?” Olivia genuinely didn’t know. And then she figured it out: Errol Flynn. Nearly 60 years later, she remains shocked by the moment. “Those eyes. They used to be so glinting, so full of life,” she remembers. “And now they were dead.”
There’s more to the story but if you want more dish, read the article. Suffice it to say that Flynn no longer looked like this:
Let’s leave the world of classic Hollywood and talk some trash:
Documentary Of The Week: This week’s pick takes us to the world of professional basketball in the 1990’s. One of the fiercest rivalries in the NBA at that time is depicted in the 30 For 30 film, Winning Time: Reggie Miler vs. the New York Knicks. Miller’s Pacers and the Knicks were eastern conference rivals who never won a championship but had some memorable teams.
Reggie Miller is a world-class trash talker. Much of the documentary, uh, documents his attempts to get in the heads of opposing players. Miller is also a very funny man so I was in stitches most of the time while watching Winning Time. Dr. A was in another room and thought I was watching MST3K or the Marx Brothers. Reggie *did* cause as much chaos as Chico and Harpo on a good day but had a much better jump shot.
It’s trash talk trailer time:
I give Winning Time 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a sporty Siskelian thumbs up. Gene was the hoops fan so I gotta go with him. The movie is streaming on Netflix.
Saturday Classic: I’m going to do something different with this feature. I went on earlier about another of my guilty pleasures, Hall & Oates. Dr. A and I saw them at Jazz Fest in 2013. It was a great set with one of the most racially diverse crowds I’ve ever seen at the Fairgrounds. Black ladies love them some Hall & Oates. Here’s that set via the magic of the YouTube:
That’s it for this week. But before we go, let’s talk butlers and I’m not talking Rhett or former Giant CF Brett. Come on down, Mr. Senecal. It figures that the Insult Comedian would have a loudmouth bigoted butler. In contrast, all the teevee and movie Alfreds have been polite and discreet, and this one was played by a great actor who went from Alfie to Alfred: