February 28, 2008
Them Changes: Buddy Miles is Dead
Buddy Miles is dead.
The drummer died Tuesday at home in Texas of conjestive heart failure. He was 60. You might know him as man assaulting the skins on "Them Changes" or from a live record with Carlos Santana.
You could hide a revolution in that hair.
February 15, 2008
Big Brother Falls
From Chris, who was writing from South Dakota: "I feel a profound sadness at the loss of someone who I considered a father to me and I only hope you can possibly help other people see how he lived and how much he actually gave back to the community and those around him. Craig was a great man who thought nothing of himself and always thought about the welfare of others before considering himself."
I'd spent an evening in May with Craig and his newest little brother, Pernell Francis, as "Perry" wolfed down a meal and a half at Tony Luke's. Craig visited Perry each week, picking him up at his South Philly rowhouse, taking him to dinners, and other events in Perry's packed life. The column's here. That's Craig and Perry, together in this photo, being honored by U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah this September.
Craig was a Big Brother for 36 years, helping four young men to their feet. He'd been a borough councilman in Oaklyn, N.J. He managed a cemetery in Cinnaminson the past 16 years. He also ran a tax preparation business. He fished and read avidly. He played Santa at Big Brother Christmas parties for a decade. He was a member of the Avalon and Aqua String Bands. His wife died four years ago.
What I remember is the softness of this exchange, toward the end of the evening at Tony Luke's:
Craig: "I've gotten an extended family out of this. Not only with the ids, but with the family. You never lose track of them when they grow up. They stick with you like the mud. I've got four sons I'd never have had. I love them, and I think they love me."
Perry: "You think?"
January 24, 2008
Not Just Hugs
Thursday's column about the Wawa in the Northeast Philly that has a hugging problem prompted this email from Cindy Newman, which she allowed me to post:
As a recently retired law enforcement officer having read your column today regarding hugs at a local WaWa Store I was sadly reminded of an incident that occurred during my career. I was blessed to have spent the last 17 years working in S. Florida in a school-based policing program. We were a pro-active unit whose purpose was not just enforcement. We saw our students everyday, taught in the classrooms, built positive relationships with them outside of the arena of law enforcement. We were part of their everyday lives and I loved everyday I went to work with "my" kids.
July 30, 2007
But you watched The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder.
January 29, 2007
Barbaro is gone. The Kentucky Derby winner was euthanized in his stall this morning, ending his fight to survive the catastrophic injury he suffered during the May 20 Preakness Stakes.
Devotion from his cyberfans lasts forever. On Tim Woolley's horseracing site, some comments reflect strangely deep sorrow:
I must admit that on hearing the sad news of Barbaro's passing, the only other times that I have felt so empty and so devastated was when President Kennedy was assassinated, and when the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed.
Philebrity breaks into regularly scheduled programming to link Bob Dylan's "All The Tired Horses."
"You Were a Good Horse," says The Phillyist. "May you rest in peace in that great stud farm in the sky."
Philadelphia Will Do wonders how long before the great horse's miracles are documented.
Author Jane Smiley writes in the Washington Post: A horse's hoof is wondrous structure -- the outside horn is lined with delicate membranes and blood vessels that feed and support the bones of the foot. The bones of the foot are analogous to a person's finger tips, since a horse's knee is analogous to a person's wrist -- the race horse carries a thousand pounds at thirty-five or forty miles per hour using a few slender bones supported by an apparatus of ligaments and tendons that have no analogues in human anatomy.
So what's this all about? If you have two minutes, watch this, which could be called, "And here comes Barbaro." One more time, the 132nd Running of the Roses, and his nearly seven-lengths romp. Some horse.
January 18, 2007
Art Buchwald, 1925-2007
What spokesman James Hagerty failed to understand was that the column was a spoof.
The writer replied, "Hagerty is wrong. I write adulterated rot."
He was once printed in more newspapers than any other columnist. His column explaining Thanksgiving to the French, is a holiday tradition in many families. He won a Pulitzer for commentary in 1982.
His line with the longest legs:
"If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it."
You can watch his own video obit, which he recorded for the New York Times.
December 25, 2006
James Brown, 1933-2006
December 15, 2006
Ahmet Ertegun, visionary co-founder of Atlantic Records, died yesterday. He was 83. He'd been in a coma since falling backstage at the Beacon Theater in October, when the Rolling Stones were playing Bill Clinton's 60th birthday party.
Son of a Turkish diplomat, Ertegun helped shaped the careers of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin. He added Young to Crosby Stills & Nash. He took a gospel singer and turned her into the Queen of Soul.
From the L.A. Times obit:
In the music-industry book "Hit Men" in 1991, author Fredric Dannen described Ertegun as a winking and worldly player: "He had Great Record Man written all over him. He was jaunty, and bald, and had a goatee…. He could order a bottle of wine from a headwaiter in perfect French, then turn to his jazzman dinner guest and slip into black jive. Ertegun was one of the original characters of the record business, but the one with the most class."
His colleague Jerry Wexler described Ertegun’s life as “a brew of rock stars, diplomats, financiers, movie stars, and avant-garde artists”. In a typical episode Ertegun once found himself sitting on the office sofa at a party to celebrate an anniversary of Atlantic Records, between two guests who had never met. With perfect aplomb he introduced Henry Kissinger and Wilson Pickett, who threw a high five.
December 14, 2006
Uiiiitting on the Iiiiitz!
In memory of the actor Peter Boyle, who died Wednesday at age 71. Known to many as the crusty, Lazy-Boy-bound grandpa from Everyone Loves Raymond, the son of a Philadelphia kiddie-TV personality had this memorable turn as a monster, in Mel Brooks' 1974 spoof, Young Frankenstein.
December 11, 2006
Remember the scene in American Splendor when Harvey Pekar runs into R. Crumb, and turns to hide the record he's got under his arm?
That was a Jay McShann album Pekar had just scored.
Jay "Hootie" McShann died Thursday. I just saw the obituary our morning paper. I remember loving that bluesy barrelhouse piano in the soundtrack so much that I sent away for the Jumpin' The Blues collection of Kansas City jazzman's music.
Been looking around for a proper musical tribute. Found one - from Kansas City. The music blogger who goes by There Stands The Glass wrote:
It always frustrated me that I only saw him perform in concert halls and at festivals. I would have given anything to see him play in a small nightclub. I'll nod in approval if you want to call it art, but his good-time party music is meant to be heard in a smoky room with a drink in your hand.
Go to his site to hear "Hootie Blues." That first alto sax solo sound familiar? It's Charlie Parker.
A toast to one of the great ones.