Cloister Commentary, Day 163: Work To Do

This was my last day before I go back to work. I will be tutoring students virtually from my office in Hugh Stephens Library (which at present is closed), as well as touching base intermittently with Stephens freshmen about their progress in getting adjusted. It is not likely to be the most exciting professional semester I will ever have spent, but I’m eager to get back to trying to help. I may also be doing some curbside notarizing….

For a last day before work, we were relatively quiet. We cleaned the house and WD-40’d some squeaky things; we Zoomed with family and friends; we listened to old favorites Earl King, Lucinda Williams, and Bettye LaVette; we ate leftover Indian food for lunch and ordered a Tony’s Pizza Palace favorite for dinner (the Veggie Zeus); I marveled at the NBA shooting guard Battle of the Ages pitting Denver’s Jamal Murray against Utah’s Donovan Mitchell; Nicole snagged us some groceries; and we hit the sack early.

Streaming for Strivers:

In compensation for this entry’s lack of sizzle, I bring you this.

Cloister Commentary, Day 78: Gut-Shot

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?

076C1562-8EA0-43FC-BB6C-513CC3D96DA8

Streaming for Strivers:

Something never to give up on. Here’s your chance to dance your way / Out of your constrictions.