Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Godfather


While I was away I was saddened to hear about the passing away of the “Godfather of Soul”, James Brown, on Christmas Day. I don’t know why, but it seems appropriate to me that “The Godfatha” would pass on Christmas.

Brown liked to cultivate a bit of a macho, revenge-obsessed image regarding payback, and had a bit of a checkered history with the law, but there is at least one thing he should always be remembered for... He was performing in concert at the Boston Garden the night that Martin Luther King was assassinated, and in his appeal to the crowd that night, he pled with them not to do injustice to Dr. King’s memory by responding violently, and his appeal had a lot to do with why Boston did not erupt with the same level of destruction and violence that was seen in other American cities that week. By the way, Cowboyangel has an excellent post on a sermon on non-violence delivered by Martin Luther King, during the Christmas of 1967.

Here is a fuller version of Please Please Please, complete with the cape being placed upon his shoulders by his acolytes every time he collapses to his knees on stage.

Could James Brown get down? You bet. What ever happened to Soul Music anyway? Who took the Soul out of it? I suppose one could argue that Brown was a seminal figure in the formation of Hip-Hop, but he was so much better than these current pretenders. I loathe Rap and Hip-Hop. It’s a shame that the whole Hip-Hop genre of music didn’t pass away on Christmas instead of James Brown.

Other Milestones of 2006

Saddam Hussein Another act of brutality in a land already saturated with brutality. Hussein had stopped being a relevant factor in Iraq since his overthrow nearly four years ago. I’m not sure what his execution will accomplish at this point but the begetting of more violence.

Gerald Ford I had always like Gerald Ford and considered him a decent man. I was a little bit disappointed when the media posthumously released some information from some interview tapes he’d made a while back with some bitter and bitchy comments about his feelings towards other members of the Republican Party. They didn’t reflect well upon him in my opinion. It turns out that personal friendship had a lot more to do with his pardon of Richard Nixon than we’d previously been led to believe, and apparently his definition of what constituted a “hard right” Republican was based solely upon one holding to an anti-abortion position.

This is just the kind of comfortable, self-satisfied, morally obtuse libertarian thinking in the Republican Party that I can’t stand…. But I don’t wish to speak badly of the dead. The Fords have done some good things for charity. Besides, I actually agree with the late Jerry Ford that the Pro-Life plank doesn’t have a natural home in the Republican Party. Folks like James Dobson in the Bible Belt may think the G.O.P. belongs to them, but I’m not fooled for a minute. it still belongs to country-club golfers. It always has and it always will.

Ed Bradley This was a huge loss. Ed Bradley was a man of grace, wit, and charm, and he was a superb investigative reporter. He will be missed.

John Kenneth Galbraith A brilliant economist and humanitarian.

Milton Friedman I can’t say he wasn’t brilliant, but he was a far too influential economist, and the effects have been pernicious.

Louis Rukeyser I was surprised to hear about this one. I remember having to sit through Wall Street Week on PBS many a Friday evening. I liked Rukeyser, but the topic is one I just can’t build a passion for, although perhaps I should. I have a lot of children to educate.

His passing reminds me of the passing of a beloved uncle of mine a few years ago. He was a brilliant investor, who watched his stocks and portfolio carefully on a daily basis, and he’d done very well. It was like a game with him. One night, he died of an embolism in an instant. What becomes of all that financial brilliance? To what end? What do we ultimately take with us when we go? We leave with our hands empty.


crystal said...

Ed Bradley - I liked him! :-(

I agree about Saddam.

It's good to see you back from your trip ... what was it like?

Rashfriar said...

Peace! Happy New Year. Thanks for the reflections. I pray for peace in this world.

Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

Not a James Brown fan, huh? :-)

It was good to get away, but it's good to be back too.

If you haven't been out East, Nantucket is a very beautiful spot, but it is very expensive too. I like it much better in the off-season than I do during the summer.

I love it during the winter especially. I love the wildness of the ocean, the moors, and the quietness and isolation, at least for a little while.

We wouldn't be able to afford to stay there at all, except that my father-in-law lives there in a cottage year-round. Anne stayed there with the littlest ones, and I had the two oldest girls with me at the Jared Coffin House, which was going for $100 a night rather than the $400 a night it fetches during the summer months.. Yikes!

The cottage is too small for all of us, but we couldn't all stay there at once even if we wanted to, because my oldest daughter is strongly allergic to my father-in-law's cat, Leo.

Jeff said...

Hi Rashfriar,

Great to see you again. I hope that you and your brothers had a Blessed Christmas Day. I always wonder if religious have a tough time being away from their natural birth families on holidays like Christmas. I second your prayer for peace. It's the most important prayer there is.