Critical readers should be prepared to look askance on occasion at The New York Times‘ coverage, but yesterday it offered two items that left me gut-shot. One was a meticulous reconstruction, from multiple recorded sources, of George Floyd’s final eight minutes and forty-six seconds of life; the other was culture writer Wesley Morris’ reaction to the same tragedy, in which Patti LaBelle’s ’85 live version of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” undergoes a shattering recontextualization. If you know Harold Melvin and The Blue Note’s (really, Teddy Pendergrass’) original hit version, or Simply Red’s hit remake, I promise you will never hear them the same way again after reading Morris’ piece. You must listen to Patti’s version either before or after reading it. I am for damn-sure building a class around it next week.
In addition, a classic StoryCorps episode, in which a black father and his nine-year-old son discuss their life together in Mississippi, and a revisiting of George Perkins and The Silver Stars’ “Crying in the Streets”both ensured I would remain a sentient being for the day. I know I am constantly pushing media here but it keeps me human, and if it can help you, too, then my seconds have not been wasted.
In the late afternoon, I had a great, wide-ranging phone conversation with the spirited Bess Frissell. Once, when she was very young, she ran at top speed from one end of a Hickman High hallway to the other, where I happened to be standing, and at full force leaped on me like a mad monkey. That is one of my favorite memories of being a Kewpie. We laughed, kvetched, speculated, commiserated, traded theories, and compared dilemmas. And planned to get caught up soon.
Nicole and I closed the day with a trip to Tony’s Pizza Palace’s curb, a kat klatsch, and a chasing of last night’s strawberry moon. We caught it for the best possible view at the Hickman labyrinth. What do you know?
Streaming for Strivers:
Something never to give up on. Here’s your chance to dance your way / Out of your constrictions.