by Dave Cohen
In looking around, I've noticed far too many serious issues I might have to write about. Everyone else here at the Prism seems to handle them much more competently than I might, so I've chosen to turn a blind eye on them. Actually, I'm turning my blind eye on everything we bombard ourselves with to ease the pain of solemnity and gravity, so if you need someone for a little mindless prattle about entertainment, I'm your man.
And speaking of mindless entertainment, did anyone actually watch the Academy Awards when they were on a few weeks ago? Don't hide behind muffled excuses that you watch only PBS and the occasional contribution from the BBC on A&E. 'Fess up to staring glassy-eyed at the hordes of glitterati who'd made their press agents work overtime booking dates and choosing clothes, and who'd come to be surrounded by the faithful paparazzi and admired by the good common folk.
Ye gods, what a bizarre parade of media freaks glorying in attention and peer recognition (such as it is) the awards show is! It's the night of 1000 stars, smiling on cue and wearing either conservative tuxes or cleavage-revealing dresses. (The preceding wasn't meant to be a sexist statement. Didn't Dennis Rodman reveal a little cleavage too?) I fail to comprehend the voyeuristic attraction of ogling the stars as the camera pans from one to the next for something like two hours. Yes, it's interesting to learn who'll get the motion picture industry's self-congratulatory nods for the major awards, but it's easier to read about it in the news the next day instead of listening to a cadre of folks called "gaffers" thank their families for putting them through gaffing school (and that's no gaffing matter).
At least this year "the academy" finally noted the fact that most of the good movies being made today are small independent films. Of course, Hollywood still got its obligatory kudos. Never chop down your money tree just because your rose bush is prettier, you know. Of course, the down side to the success/rise of the independent film was having to listen to the producer of The English Patient prattle on like some hack small-newspaper columnist. Ooops. I guess that just tips my hand and reveals that I did indeed watch at least a portion of the Academy Awards. I just caught a few minutes while killing time before that great BBC mystery show came on PBS. Really. Yikes, before I admit to being an awards show junkie and knowing such arcana as the fact that the grammies were named after the musicians' favorite metric unit for measuring quantities of cocaine, I'd better switch subjects.
Turning to things musical, it's with a heavy heart (gotta lower that cholesterol count) that I have to note the passing of two very different musical stylists, Randy California and Tony Williams. California, the leader of the 60s jazz-rock group Spirit, was known for playing with Hendrix before Jimi made it big and for writing environmental songs (at least some of you should recall "Nature's Way") before they were popular. Williams was a straight-ahead jazz musician who played with the likes of Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock before (and after) putting out some seminal fusion albums, such as "Emergency." The beat goes on without these two, but the song's just a bit sadder.
On a final musical note, as it were, I had to get the funk out of the Triangle, so I headed for the hills recently to catch George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. They were qualifying and satisfying all the folks who were up for the downstroke in Boone, which one overzealous funk fan with a can of spray paint renamed "Booty Booney" on one street sign (and booty, as Clinton-George or Bill, take your pick-might say, is in the eye of the beholder). The show provided some evidence that Dr. Funkenstein himself-an NC native-reads the Prism. At one point, Clinton spouted a rap about DEA dogs and the "CIA-I-O" supplying drugs to be sold on the streets-a story that astute readers know the Prism has been covering for some time now. Of course, Clinton added his own spin on the whole sordid affair, summing up with his long-running notion that "America eats its young." The guitarist wearing nothing but a cowboy hat and a diaper (some say Clinton pampers him) seemed to dig it, so who am I to argue?
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