https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2016-07-01 19:09:342016-07-01 19:09:34Bundy Bunch Update: The Pa-Traitor-ating!
… He was an iconic human being in an era that produced icons with every turn of the television dial, every front page of every morning newspaper and, my god, most of them died young. John and Robert Kennedy. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. None of them ever made 50. None of them ever made old bones. Only Ali lived to see how he truly changed the world around him, how it had come to understand that some lives are lived beyond the mortal limits.
He was a transcendent athlete, first and foremost, every bit as skilled at what he did for a living as Michael Jordan or Pele. The greatest change in athletes over the span of his physical life is that big athletes got fast. LeBron James plays basketball and he is just about the same size as Antonio Gates, who is a tight end. When he first arrived at Wimbledon, Boris Becker looked like a college linebacker. Ali was tall for a heavyweight, bigger than anyone who was faster than he was and faster than anyone who was bigger.
You have to have seen him before he was stripped of his livelihood to appreciate fully his gifts as an athlete. Foot speed. Hand speed. Before it all hit the fan in 1968, Sports Illustrated put him in a lab with strobe lights and everything, to time the speed of his punches. The results looked something out of a special-effects lab. In one of his routines, the late Richard Pryor used to talk about sparring with Ali in a charity exhibition. A Golden Gloves fighter in his youth, as Pryor later put it, “you don’t see his punches until they comin’ back. And your mind be sayin’, ‘Wait a minute now. There was some shit in my face a minute ago. I know that.'” He was an accelerated man in an accelerated age. Saying he was “ahead of his time” was only the half of it. His time was all time.
That was what led to the rest of it—the opposition to the criminal stupidity that was being practiced by this country in Southeast Asia, stated in terms as fundamentally American as the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law…” His stubborn insistence that his life was his own, that it did not belong to the sclerotic old gangsters who still ran boxing, nor to the sclerotic old men who still ran the government, with their wiretaps and their phony indictments and their lawbooks. He was too fast for them all to catch, ultimately, and too pretty for a country that was vandalizing its most beautiful elements. That stubbornness also likely led to his physical downfall. All gifts have their dark side. All debts come due…
Before "Roots," Alex Haley was one of the best interviewers around. Here is his 1964 profile of Cassius Clay: https://t.co/nxNBlOkQkp
The past is a foreign country… From that Playboy interview:
It wasn’t until 9:55 on a night last February that anyone began to take seriously the extravagant boasts of Cassius Marcellus Clay: That was the moment when the redoubtable Sonny Liston, sitting dazed and disbelieving on a stool in Miami Beach’s Convention Hall, resignedly spat out his mouthpiece—and relinquished the world’s heavyweight boxing championship to the brash young braggart whom he, along with the nation’s sportswriters and nearly everyone else, had dismissed as a loudmouthed pushover.
Leaping around the ring in a frenzy of glee, Clay screamed, “I am the greatest! I am the king!”—the strident rallying cry of a campaign of self-celebration, punctuated with rhyming couplets predicting victory, which had rocketed him from relative obscurity as a 1960 Olympic Gold Medal winner to dubious renown as the “villain” of a title match with the least lovable heavyweight champion in boxing history. Undefeated in 100 amateur fights and all 18 professional bouts, the cocky 22-year-old had become, if not another Joe Louis, at least the world’s wealthiest poet (with a purse of $600,000), and one of its most flamboyant public figures.
Within 24 hours of his victory, he also became sports’ most controversial cause cèlébre when he announced at a press conference that he was henceforth to be billed on fight programs only as Muhammad Ali, his new name as a full-fledged member of the Black Muslims, the militant nationwide Negro religious cult that preaches racial segregation, black supremacy and unconcealed hostility toward whites… Read more →
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Anne Lauriehttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAnne Laurie2016-06-04 21:53:272016-06-04 21:53:27Float Like A Butterfly, Muhammed Ali
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Many Balloon Juice readers have served or have known and/or been related to those who have. And, unfortunately, some Balloon Juice readers know those who never made it back from the wars they’ve served in. In honor of those who served, here are two videos of Soldiers of the Old Guard (the 3rd Infantry Regiment – the Oldest US Army Infantry Regiment) providing two different types of 21 Gun Salutes: a brief explanation and demonstration of Final Honors and a 21 Gun Salute by the Presidential Salute Battery from Memorial Day 2013. The final video is of Staff Sergeant (SSG) Drew Fremder of the The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Buglers playing taps at Arlington National Cemetery.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2016-05-29 22:26:452016-05-29 22:26:45Memorial Day: Final Honors
There are some people who become type specimens. They’re the folks who define the characteristics of the category of folks to whom they belong. Guy Clark was — or rather, given what remains — continues to be the type specimen of the singer-songwriter.
He was a craftsman in all the best senses of the word–in the way he created his songs, and in the way he told his stories, and in the places the music took you…
That’s exactly right. And yeah, go read the rest, and listen to Charlie’s picks of the Guy Clark songs that resonate for him.
For me? Well, the first number I recall was his biggest mainstream hit, “L. A. Freeway” — which holds up OK, but isn’t what drew me back to Clark when I started listening to him with intent a few years ago. This is the one that got me started, at a time (as I face again this year, dammit) when too many people that mattered in my life were dying on me:
This one got me next, and still does:*
And this is the one I think of on the day Guy Clark left us; he’s taken his place in the room he sings us into:
All of which is to say that Clark couldn’t have a good time. He loved a party** — just ask him:
The list goes on. The Hon. Pierce has it right: Clark was a meticulous song writer and a brilliant one (the two modifiers don’t describe the same quality). Dive in anywhere, and the worst you’ll get is fine fun. At his best….
Dammit — it’s been a crap year for musicians here in these United States.
I’ll leave you with one more favorite, one that captures the heart of what I love most about Clark — the way his music inhabits a story and vice versa:
Rest in peace, Guy Clark.
*And here’s a lagniappe. Check out this tune, the one Clark sends us to in an homage and something of a statement — a recognition of the league in which Guy himself could play.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Tom Levensonhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgTom Levenson2016-05-17 16:57:272016-05-17 17:47:11RIP Guy Clark
Paul Kantner, founding member, guitarist and singer for Jefferson Airplane and Starship, died Thursday of multiple organ failure and septic shock. He had suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, according to San Francisco Chronicle. He was 74.
The musician had been in ill health in recent years, with Kantner suffering a heart attack in March 2015, according to the paper.
With Jefferson Airplane, Kantner helped pioneer the oft-imitated psychedelic sound: simple, fuzzy guitar lines steeped in dreamlike reverb. The group formed in 1965 and, within a few years, scored hits with “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” In their first run, five of the band’s seven albums went gold, including 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow and 1968’s Crown of Creation.
Verging on a breakup in the early Seventies, Kantner recorded a solo album, Blows Against the Empire, with Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, crediting it to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. The album was nominated for a Hugo Award presented to the best science-fiction and fantasy works. After formalizing the band Jefferson Starship, the band went on to greater commercial success than Jefferson Airplane, scoring platinum and gold records, including the double-platinum 1975 record Red Octopus. Kantner quit the group in 1984, but would rejoin in 1992 and continue to play with them until his death…
I’ll admit I’d forgotten that Hugo nomination. Further adventures, per SFGate:
… A sometimes prickly, often sarcastic musician who kept his own counsel and routinely enraged his old bandmates — they sued him for trademark infringement (and settled) after he started his own version of Jefferson Starship in 1991 — Mr. Kantner became something of a landmark on the San Francisco music scene, the only member of the band still living in town.
“Somebody once said, if you want to go crazy go to San Francisco,” he said. “Nobody will notice.”
Mr. Kantner was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work with the Jefferson Airplane during the band’s glory years — from the breakthrough 1967 “Surrealistic Pillow” album through Woodstock and Altamont.
“We never made plans,” said Mr. Kantner. “Well, we made plans, but they went awry. It was good to have a plan in case they didn’t go awry.”
He maintained a strenuous touring schedule, performing regularly with some version of the Jefferson Starship name. His group sometimes included Balin, as well as David Freiberg of the Quicksilver Messenger Service, another leading Bay Area band from the ’60s.
“When I look back on it, that’s probably longer than any of the other bands I’ve been in,” Mr. Kantner said…
Glenn Frey, Eagles guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, passed away Monday. He was 67. “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder, Glenn Frey, in New York City on Monday, January 18th, 2016. Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia,” the Eagles wrote in a statement Monday…
The Detroit-born Frey performed with groups in the Motor City area before relocating to Los Angeles in the late Sixties. Frey would eventually meet and live with J.D. Souther — his partner in the short-lived duo Longbranch Pennywhistle — and singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. It was Souther who encouraged Linda Ronstadt, his girlfriend at the time, to hire Frey and three other artists – drummer Don Henley, bassist Randy Meisner and guitarist Bernie Leadon – to serve as her backing band during a 1971 tour. When the trek concluded, the Eagles were born…
As a solo artist, Frey enjoyed a string of hits that included the Beverly Hills Cop track “The Heat Is On” and “You Belong to the City,” a song penned for Miami Vice. “City” would go on to take on a second life as a New York anthem thanks to its association with the 1986 World Series-winning New York Mets and Jay Z’s Frey-sampling “The City Is Mine.” Frey released five solo albums during this period, and also dabbled in acting, appearing in Miami Vice and later Jerry Maguire. That film’s director, Cameron Crowe, famously interviewed the Eagles for a 1975 Rolling Stone cover story, which would later inspire the filmmaker’s 2000 movie Almost Famous…
… It’s not like the Eagles are intrusive. Wasn’t that the most appealing thing about their music? As Frey points out in The History of the Eagles, Part Two, people did things with the Eagles. They could join you for any road trip, any party, any breakup, any late-night hang… Their music is harmlessly timeless, and I swear, I mean that as a compliment.
You know what else? The Eagles were significantly bigger than I ever realized. Really, there wasn’t a more successful, popular or famous American band in the 1970s. Even today, their first greatest hits album (released in 1976, almost one year before Hotel California came out) is still battling neck and neck with Thriller as the highest-selling album of all time. That dumbfounding fact alone made the Eagles worthy of a documentary, even if a 215-minute treatment was unquestionably overboard… Read more →
… Bowie’s 25 albums produced a string of hits including Changes, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. He was known for experimenting across diverse musical genres, and for his alter egos Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke. He also had a notable acting career.
His latest album, Blackstar, was released last week to coincide with his 69th birthday, and had received widespread critical acclaim…
Tributes were paid on social media. In a heartfelt Facebook post, Tony Visconti, who produced a series of Bowie’s albums, including Young Americans and his seminal Berlin trilogy, Low, Heroes and Lodger, wrote: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of art.
“He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”…
“I am not a natural performer,” Bowie said in a rare interview in 2002. “I don’t enjoy performing terribly much. Never have. I can do it and, if my mind’s on the situation, do it quite well. But, five or six shows in, I’m dying to get off the road and go back to the studio.”
In the same interview, he said: “My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter. The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety, all of the high points of one’s life.”
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Anne Lauriehttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAnne Laurie2016-01-12 00:58:512016-01-12 00:58:51Late Night Far-Flung Memories Open Thread