Summer of Soul, The Big Green Egg and My Next Book

Welcome! I’ve recently refurbished my website. Thanks to Amy and Aspen Grove marketing for running it for the past few years. My new site is designed for writers by writers and is set up for operator use. I’m learning to run the site myself and will be able to change pages and pictures at my leisure. Old people like me need to challenge the brain. Why not learn how to design a website?

Once a month, I plan to compose an engaging blog to entertain and educate. I’ll update you on my writing projects, share interesting antidotes, recipes, TV and movie reviews and whatever else I deem notable. My memoir, Come Get Me Mother, I’m Through! told many stories of my 33 year radio career. I’ve left out some really fun tales, this blog will give you exclusive access to those. 

I’ll attempt to not get political but I make no promises. I’m a science believer who’s angry nobody paid attention to the warnings every year on Earth Day and I’m pissed that a certain political party wants to restrict voters’ rights. Learn more about my politics by reading my short story, The Death of Fairness.

Be advised: Proceeds from these two books are included in a yearly donation to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Cancer Society in memory of my late therapist Dena Brosh and Radio’s, Stewart “The Boy Wonder” Elliot.

Writing is now a part of my daily life and I think about it constantly. As obsessive as I was with my broadcasting career, writing has become my new passion. While commuting, dining or in the drive-through at Freddy’s (the best fries), I’m imagining different  scenarios, noticing the setting, the atmosphere and creating dialog. When not composing, I’m reading to hone my skill. The writings of: Steven King, Dan Brown, Harper Lee, Ernest Hemmingway, George Orwell, Patricia Highsmith, Nancy Garden, Celeste Ng, Steve Martin, Michael J. Fox and others occupy my very FIRST bookcase. 

Food and stuff

I’m the official chef of the Curry abode and have raised the bar for home cooks. I’m pretty skilled. Occasionally, I’ll share recipes and kitchen experiences. My only cooking news this month is that my wife allowed me to purchase The Big Green Egg! In the world of barbecue and meat smoking, it’s a trendsetter.. However, there is a learning process in maintaining constant temperature, but there are a plethora of Youtube videos to teach the skill. I’ve roasted a perfect chicken, pork butt and baked everyone’s favorite, Pizza. 

Suggestion to the Big Green Egg people: Have someone design a fashionable storage case to hold all the extra working parts, just a thought. But, I’m killin’ the Egg. There’s Pizza on the menu Friday nights!

Movie review! 

I just watched the Hulu documentary, Summer of Soul.  It’s about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival to celebrate Black history, music, culture and fashion. A series of free, Sunday afternoon concerts attracted over 300,000 at a packed Harlem’s Mount Morris Park. Each weekend, the major Black acts of the day were featured: Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Max Roach, Ray Barretto, Ma and Pa Staples with their family, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, Mahalia Jackson and many others. 

I turned on my TV’s surround sound, sat back and cranked it up. 

The opening scene looked like Black Woodstock, a sea of black and brown with a smattering of white faces singing and dancing to every song from the stage. Video of the young Stevie Wonder, deep in the groove and needing to be pushed back onto the piano stool because he nearly fell off. Pa Staples, his wife and family singing their brand of gospel “pop,” the Chambers Brothers, Gladys Knight and the Pips and a very tall David Ruffin, just after he’d left the Temptations. All performers dressed like they’d all been to Berry Gordy’s famous Motown Artists Development school where they learned to dress to the nines. 

Mahalia Jackson was there. At times, the festival resembled a big outdoor Southern Baptist church service. Concert goers became frenzied and possessed in the afternoon sun. 

It was interesting watching Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis of the 5th Dimension view the footage of the concert, 50 years later. Their band was thought to be too white by their own people, they weren’t black enough. The performance I witnessed and the crowd reaction proved that to be wrong. Marilyn, teared up as she witnessed their obvious acceptance by the throng.  

Specifically, notice the diversity of the funk-rock band, Sly and the Family Stone. Unlike the others on stage, Sly and his band wore street clothes. Different races abounded in his band; he featured a white guy on drums, white and black backup singers and a black woman on trumpet. Not many chicks played the trumpet in famous bands during the 60’s, or ‘70’s, or 80’s, or ever. And, never did I ever see a black woman play like that. She was not afraid and blew like a champ.

Summer of Soul became retrospective and discussed social topics of the day. The country was in a terrible place, Americans had not recovered from the horrific assassinations, one after another, of treasured leaders. In the documentary, young black people lamented, ‘They’ve taken them, they’ve killed John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.’ I remember sitting in my bedroom at 11th and Greenwood in Cañon City, Colorado listening to the song, Abraham, Martin and John and experiencing the same, desperate feeling.

 In 1969, America was fully engaged in the Vietnam war, anti-war riots raged on college campuses. It was uncomfortable watching video of the violence at the Democratic National convention in Chicago. Fifty-two years later, I had a pit in my stomach. Notably, the crowd booed at the announcement of America landing on the moon. “They need to spend that money here and feed the people!” was the general theme.

The incredible music and the comradery of the attendees tempered my feelings, all peacefully enjoying the party. At one point, you’ll see a white man with a black kid on his shoulders. You’ll also witness lots of white cops, keeping to themselves. 

In the documentary Summer of Soul, I witnessed no spectators barely dressed and dancing in a mud pit. Performers on stage didn’t show up in street clothes (except for Sly Stone). I saw no one in the crowd smoking joints and I certainly never got a sense of “church” watching videos of Woodstock. 

Woodstock was a landmark concert for my generation. But our generation also loved the music featured in Summer of Soul. Film of this concert sat in someone’s basement since those days and it pained me when they noted why.  Nobody wanted to produce it, broadcast suits of the day thought it didn’t matter. It mattered to me. I’m thrilled Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson brought it to light.

See Summer of Soul, I loved it and think you will too. 

Sidenote: In my memoir, Come Get Me Mother, I’m Through, you can read the story of my encounter with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis in 1976. I was just a pup. 

Big News!

My third novel, Bonnie’s Law, The Return to Fairness, has drawn the interest of a bestselling author. Since my first endeavor into writing, it’s been a desire to craft my prose; portray deeper emotions, better sentence structure and word crafting. I’m honored to have a skilled writer be excited to support my story. Stay tuned.

 Thanks for playing along. Check the previous blogs to get updated on my quest to make it to the finish line next Memorial Day to join thousands in America playing Taps for our fallen heroes.

Until next time, ¡Viva Cuba Libre!