Saturday Odds & Sods: Just My Imagination

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The Legend of John Brown #19 by Jacob Lawrence.

I decided not to whinge about the heat to open the post this week. Why? We’ve had our first genuine cool front of the fall, that’s why. I was tempted to dance in the streets but that would be undignified even for me. I only dance in the streets during Carnival.

This week’s theme song was inspired by last week’s successful fundraiser. Posting the Temptations show and Oscar begging made me want to hear some more sweet, sweet soul music. Ain’t nothing sweeter than hearing Eddie Kendricks croon Just My Imagination (Running Away From Me.) It was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong who specialized in funkier tunes than this lilting soul waltz. They nailed it: Just My Imagination went to number-1 on both the pop and R&B charts.

We begin with the Temptations’ glorious studio version produced by Norman Whitfield:

The Rolling Stones covered Just My Imagination on the 1978 album Some Girls. I’m terribly fond of the live version they did during their 1981 tour, which I saw at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Here’s a backstage view of the Stones live in the swing state of Arizona:

You may have noticed that I didn’t use the entire title in the post header. There’s method to my madness for a change. There’s also a swell Cranberries song of the same title. Let’s give it a spin:

That video gave me butterflies: Irish butterflies. It’s time to regress from a butterfly to a larval caterpillar. Trust me, I know that’s impossible but I wrote myself into a corner. Guess it’s time to give y’all a break by going to the break.

The amazing Jacob Lawrence image at the top of the post has me feeling rather Arty this week as opposed to Garfunkely.  I really shouldn’t cross the proverbial bridge over troubled waters, especially since I hate bridges. A great irony because I’ve always lived in places where bridges are ubiquitous. The good news is that art is just as important to me so let’s have a wee musical interlude before getting all arty farty:

Speaking of  art for art’s sake, let’s set the Wayback Machine to the early 20th Century.

My Art Belongs To Dada: I wish I could take credit for that pun. God knows, I’ve “borrowed” it enough times over the years. It comes from Tom Stoppard’s brilliant play, Travesties. I had the honor of seeing the original West End production. It was the theatrical experience of a lifetime. It turns out that V.I. Lenin and Dada founder Tristan Tzara both lived in Zurich during the Great War. Travesties is Stoppard’s take on what would have happened if the two revolutionaries had met. It was John Wood as Tzara who said: “My art belongs to Dada.” Lenin was bigger on turgid Marxist rhetoric than puns. I doubt if he would have liked the song below either. Bolshies are no fun.

That brings us to a swell article in the New York Review Of Books by Alfred Brendel: The Growing Charm of Dada. It’s an essay about a whole lotta Dadaist exhibits. I suppose I should have used a Dada image at the top of post but I did not. I hope I won’t be put in time-out by any of the mamas and dadas out there. I should probably be locked up for that pun. I feel a movie meme coming on:

Sig Ruman meme

That was Sig Ruman in Ernst Lubitsch’s dark World War II comedy, To Be Or Not To Be. It doesn’t have much to do with Dada but what can I tell ya? Read Brendel’s piece, he’s a bona fide highbrow whereas I’m just a wayward punster.

Now that I’ve made some puns that only Marcel Duchamp or James Karst could love, let’s move on to a story set in the wide world of sports. No, it’s not about Jim McKay or the agony of defeat. That gag is another sign of my dotage; at least I’m not dotty. I’m certain of that because my name isn’t Dorothy…

A Ref’s Coming Out Party: Bill Kennedy has been a respected NBA ref since 1999. Most referees tend to be failed players: not Bill Kennedy. He’s known he wanted to be a ref since he was a hoops crazy kid. There’s something else unusual about Kennedy: he’s gay and recently came out. He decided to do so after being called a “fucking faggot” by Rajon Rondo. It had been an open secret to many in the NBA but Kennedy decided it was time to go public. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz has the details on Kennedy’s remarkable odyssey.

The money quote in the article describes the reaction of Gregg Popovich, the crusty head coach of the San Antonio Spurs to Kennedy’s decision:

No more than eight hours after Kennedy began to share that story to the world, he suited up for a Spurs home game against the Jazz. The day had been a whirlwind. His statement had been released that morning, and immediately his phone had begun to convulse with calls and texts. “I put it on silent because I couldn’t keep up,” Kennedy says. “There were too many text messages, too many things going on, and I have to work that day.”

The morning meeting provided a little distraction, but the story was now being broadcast nationally, and it was gaining traction. For good measure, the league dispatched a security specialist and a public relations staffer to San Antonio. Before the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked whether he was surprised by Rondo’s slurs.

“Why would I be surprised?” Popovich told the pregame media scrum. “You see it all the time. It’s unfortunate. It’s disgusting. Bill is a great guy. He’s been a class act on and off the court. And as far as anybody’s sexual orientation, it’s nobody’s business. It just shows ignorance to act in a derogatory way toward anybody in the LGBT community. Just doesn’t make sense.”

Here’s what Coach Pop said to Kennedy at that game:

As the lights went down for player introductions, Popovich sidled up beside him — telling Kennedy that he chose to walk over in the dark because he didn’t want to make a scene that everyone could witness. “He said, quote, unquote, ‘You have more guts, you have more balls than anybody I know,'” Kennedy says. “‘You have more courage than anybody I know. Now, go out there and kick ass.’ Then he walked away. He didn’t say a word to me for the rest of the game.”

It’s good to know that a great coach is also a good man.

Bill Kennedy’s story is an uplifting one. As a hoops fan, I’m proud of how the NBA handled it. We move on to a darker place in our next segment but first the standard disclaimer:

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A Murder In The Family: Edward Branley is a talented, opinionated New Orleans area writer. He’s been blogging as Yat Pundit for even longer than I’ve called myself Adrastos. A year-and-a-half ago, Edward’s brother-in-law and nephew were murdered in a home invasion gone terribly wrong. His sister had gone to bed earlier than the rest of the family and was interrogated for seven hours before being ruled out as a suspect. Those of you who watch Major Crimes are familiar with Lt. Provenza’s maxim: it’s always the spouse. Not in this case.

A man named Dexter Allen was tried and convicted earlier this week of killing Edward’s kin folks, David and Nick Pence. Edward is a thoughtful man and an ardent liberal and he shares his conflicted feelings about what befell his family at his blog. He believes that the right man was convicted but he had some doubts before the trial:

It was the sort of crime that lights up every local news outlet. It was also the sort of crime that the cops need to solve post-haste. The murders happened on a Wednesday night, and the Sheriff was standing before the press the following Sunday, telling the worried white people of East Jefferson that the case had been solved and arrests had been made. Part of me was relieved, but then, there was lingering doubt in the back of my mind. It wouldn’t be the first time a black man was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a petty thief ends up doing time for a murder he didn’t commit.

I harbored that lingering doubt for a year and a half. As much as I wanted closure for my sister and my niece, along with Dave and Nick’s friends, it was important that the price would not be too high. Every bit of common sense I had told me the detectives of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office got the right guy. The JPSO crime scene technicians meticulously documented the scene and collected all the evidence. Fingerprint evidence from down the street put Haraquon Degruy in the neighborhood on the night of 22-April.

I’m glad that Edward’s family received justice. I’m gladder still that he shared his thoughts in that extremely well-written post. The world would be a better place if more people wanted justice instead of vengeance.

Let’s move on to a true crime documentary about a case that was in the headlines for years. It’s time for a visual aid:

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Documentary Of The Week: I only casually followed the Amanda Knox murder case. I knew the British tabloids went nuts over the story because the victim was a pretty young Brit. I also knew that the tabs called Ms. Knox, Foxy Knoxy as you can see above. I did not know, however, how sloppy the investigation was or how the prosecutors played on nationalist sentiments to win a conviction against an American student.

I came away from Netflix’s Amanda Knox believing that a miscarriage of justice occurred. The DNA evidence was more contaminated than a porta-potty at Jazz Fest. Additionally, the murder room only contained the DNA of one of the three suspects who were convicted  of killing Meredith Kercher. That’s one reason Italy’s highest court eventually cleared Knox and her co-defendant, Raffaele  Sollecito.

My one cavil about this documentary is that the subtitles are too small and too white. Repeat after me: yellow subtitles rock. I give Amanda Knox 3 stars, an Adrastos grade of B and an Ebertian thumbs up.

The readers have spoken. Apparently, many of you like my movie lists. That has inspired me to start a semi-regular Saturday feature. I think you can figure out what it is by the bold-faced text below; at least I hope so. If not. you’re in deep shit and sinking fast and all the yellow sub-titles in the world won’t help you stay afloat.

Movie List Of The Week: Jack Nicholson hasn’t made a movie in 6 years. Jack has made 75 films, most of them good, some of them great. It’s time to present, in no particular order:

My Top Ten Jack Nicholson Films:

  1. Chinatown
  2. The Last Detail
  3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  4.  Five Easy Pieces
  5.  Prizzi’s Honor
  6.  The Passenger
  7. The Shining
  8. Ironweed
  9. About Schmidt
  10.  Terms Of Endearment

Now that I’ve jacked you around, it’s time for some more music.

Saturday Classic: Writing about Miles Davis in this space put me in the mood to listen to some jazz-fusion. Weather Report was led by former Miles sidemen Josef Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. They made challenging music and sold more records than one would expect. Mysterious Traveller was their last album before bassist Jaco Pastorious joined the band, but Alphonso Johnson was his equal in every way but stage presence.

My favorite track on Mysterious Traveller is the third one: Cucumber Slumber. My friend Greg is a talented home brewer. He borrowed the song title for one of his beers. It was pretty darn good. I hope he does it again, especially now that I’ve put him on the spot. That concludes the brew report, time for Weather Report.

That’s it for this week. Since I did a best of Jack movie list, it’s only fitting to bring him back along with Michael Keaton for our closing bat-meme:

Nicholson-Keaton Meme

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