"We lost a man who healed a nation," said former president Bill Clinton, "and brought us together on the dance floor. A healer and a concilitator like no other. Good God, y'all!"
Gerald Ford, the country's 38th president died Monday. He was 93. Mr. Ford passed peacefully in his sleep at his Palm Desert, CA home located above one of his many GF's Funky BBQ Shacks. The restaurant chain represents the latest in a series of questionable business ventures that nearly bankrupted the beloved ex-president.
The son of Georgia sharecroppers, Ford spent his youth selling coal, shining shoes, and performing throughout the south on the legendary chitlin circuit where he is rumored to have had an affair with singer Bessie Smith. The relationship ended when Mr. Ford left to attend the University of Michigan. He led the Wolverines to two Rose Bowl victories and formed the first version of GF's All-Stars.
It was on the Michigan campus that Mr. Ford first began working with longtime sidesmen Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Although both men recalled Ford with affection, they also acknowledged his reputation as a strict disciplinarian. "Once," recalled Cheney, "I came up with a plan to invade Angola. Gerry liked the idea of destabilizing southern Africa but he fined me $50 for not having my shoes shined." Rumsfeld remembered his initial doubts about working for a commander-in-chief who wore capes. "It grew on me," said Rumsfeld. "We'd be having a disagreement in a cabinet meeting and Gerry would faint and Cheney would cover him with the cape. Then Gerry would throw off the cape and get right back to discussing OPAC policy. It was amazing!"
Although dogged by controversy for his role on the Warren Commission, pardoning Richard Nixon, and leading law enforcement officials on an infamous highway chase following a drug-fueled domestic disturbance, Ford is viewed favorable by most of his contemporaries. ?uest Love from The Roots cited Ford as a major influence. "He gave us the 'Funky Drummer.' That ends the discussion right there!"
Ford is survived by his wife Betty and numerous children. His body will lie in state at the Apollo Theatre through the weekend.
When it comes to identity politics all parties seem united by one belief: wealthy, white, heterosexual men suck and no one wants to hear their stories because those stories are so pervasive as it is. Enter director François Kohler and psycho-therapist Alexis Burger. They recruited a dozen guys, mostly from Europe, took them into the Tunisian desert, and asked them to talk about their feelings. Early on you get a lot of what you'd expect (best summarized by one man who said, "My mother screwed me up and my wife finished the job.") But as they come to trust each other, the participants are unusually reflective; these are not the thoughts of the Monday Night Football crowd. And they have to trust each other because Burger asks them to engage in very unconventional activities. For example, asking each man to stand before the group, nude, and talk about what he likes and dislikes about his body. Desert Wind is a weird ride and though it lacks a clear destination for the audience, it's worth checking out.
Despite having troops in battle around the globe and various other ailments, life is pretty good for us Yanks. In fact, for some people, the prime dilemma is, "How the hell am I going to spend this money? I've got a Hummer. I'm spending as much money as they'll allow me on my cell phone/cable tv/internet package. I've got floor seats for the Lakers. Last year I went snorkeling in New Zealand and yet I'm still bored!" The "haves" are burdened with an itch they just can't seem to scratch.
Enter the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. An entertainment endeavor that offers more than its name suggests. We caught up with Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp employee, Ben Sturgis, to get the lowdown. Go Metric: You are Ben Sturgis and you work for... Ben Sturgis: The Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, which is five days of people paying in the neighborhood of $8,000-$9,000 to learn from, perform next to rock stars. At the same time meeting and learning from even larger rock stars. In the past there's been Roger Daltrey, Sheila E., Brett Michaels (Poison), Vince Neil (Motley Crue), George Thorogood, Marky Ramone, Leslie West (Mountain)...
And a former member of Kiss, too, right? Bruce Kulick, as a normal counselor. And at one of the upcoming camps, Paul Stanley, that is not yet announced to the public. He's coming for L.A. Joe Walsh will be coming for L.A. Jack Bruce will be coming for London. Jon Anderson of Yes will performing in New York in August along with Dickie Betts (The Allman Brothers) and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad.
Or does he prefer Grand Funk? He prefers, due to a legal dispute, Mark Farner, in one size font, and then I believe 50% of that font, "formerly of Grand Funk Railroad." That's what he prefers.
At one point in that list of rock stars it sounded like you made a distinction among the stars, like there are different tiers among counselors. There are what we like to call the rock star counselors and then our all-star talent. Those are the two designations. The all-star talent is the likes of a Roger Daltrey, of a Dickie Betts, of a Joe Walsh. And then your counselors are guys who have been in bands with years of experience and platinum records under their belts, but not as big, like a Kip Winger, a Mark Slaughter, a Jack Blades of Damn Yankees and Night Ranger. Who was credited at one point as "head counselor." You're touching on a very touchy subject that we need to avoid for right now. His status is up in the air. He will not be the head counselor for New York. We've also had counselors like Doug Fieger from the Knack, bands with platinum selling albums but not necessarily in the mainstream's consciousness right now. Mark Farner has acted as all-star talent... I'm sorry, would that be Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad"? Correct, only in print, though, you don't have to do that in conversation. He's been a regular counselor and an all-star counselor, and he sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles. To read the rest of this interview, pick up a copy of Go Metric issue 21, available now from these fine retailers: Atomic Books, LittleType, Quimby's, Razorcake.
The first 40 minutes of Daniel Fox's Cambodia is, essentially, a travelogue of his trip to that nation. What sparked his desire to make such a trip or what he hoped to find there remain mysteries. There are moments of interest (I never knew, for example, that the Khmer Rouge reset the calendar in 1975, making that year zero for their new society), but it's not clear what's on the screen because it's of interest to Fox on a personal level and what's there for the sake of the audience. When Cambodian school children swarmed around Fox and his camera I'm sure it was a memorable experience for him, but, not to be cynical, it doesn't reveal anything to viewers other than the fact that kids the world over love being on camera. The final 20 minutes, wherein Fox visits the harrowing Killing Fields and then interviews survivors, are completely different. Here it's a perfectly clear why we're watching: it's one thing to know about Pol Pot's mass murders, it's quite another to walk through the Killing Fields and see bones and scraps of clothing that have yet to removed. The last third of the film makes Cambodia worthwhile.
The teacher in me was drawn to The Boys of Baraka once I heard the idea behind the documentary, which depicts a year in the life of a group of boys from inner city Baltimore who are given the opportunity to travel to Africa to attend a small private school located in the Kenyan countryside. But I think the filmmakers hooked the audience from the moment they revealed that 76% of African-American boys in Baltimore don't graduate high school. Those are the kinds of odds that people love to root against and the better you can get to know the boys, each of whom is smart and likeable, the more you pull for them. There are "feel good" moments through the movie, but the filmmakers don't yield to cheap sentiment. We see Richard visit his father in jail, hear a mother tell her son, "Don't be like your father," and perhaps most tellingly, see the teary-eyed airport send off populated solely by mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and aunts. It's fascinating to watch the boys change as they settle in the Baraka school, even while it's disappointing to see that most of the teaching techniques are conventional and traditional. (Why in a class of six-to-eight students would you have everyone reading aloud from the same text? Doing the same work at the same pace? Nuts to that, baby, individualize and differentiate!) Aside from the unnecessary subtitles employed when the boys speak (a choice that seems completely at odds with the film's overall tone), The Boys of Baraka does a very good job of focusing on the boys and their families (as opposed to the educators) and follows through on an intriguing premise.
It is a little known fact that Dick Rowe, the Decca Records PR man who famously dismissed the Beatles in 1962 because "guitar groups (were) on the way out," had a substantial career as a literary agent whose acumen for spotting great works of literature somehow exceeded his ability to spot up and coming beat groups.
Mr. Rowe passed away in early 2006 and his estate presented his archives to Columbia's Harnick School of American Studies. GM was granted a sneak preview of Rowe's correspondence with legendary authors. Here is the first in a series of Overlooked Letters of Rejection.
October 12, 1952
Dick Rowe c/o Charles Scribner's Sons 56 Cooper Square New York City, New York
Ernest Hemingway Grand Hotel et de Milan Via Manzoni 29 Milan
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
Thank you for submitting your promising work The Old Man and the Sea. As a man of some experience in the literary field, allow me to say that I believe you to be on the right track, though, clearly, the book is not yet ready for publication.
A couple of questions for your consideration: Why an old man? Market research shows that 81% of new novels are purchased by those in the 25-40 age bracket. It's the Eisenhower era, after all, be mindful of contemporary icons such as the ever-gaunt Marlon Brando and James Dean. (Did you see his promotional work for the Traffic Safety Council? Outstanding!) I recommend making the protagonist younger and more accessible. Second, why a sea? Don't get me wrong, we have had great success with fishing books in recent years (notably Lance Wedlick's 60 Ways to Fool a Muskellunge and The Happy Armchair Angler's Guide to the Magic of Bait Fishing in Utah), but our nation is bordered by two oceans (the Atlantic and the Pacific). Further, I am reluctant to ostracize our many readers in the middle regions of the country. Perhaps a river or an inlet would be more appropriate.
In closing, do not be discouraged. I am certain you will enjoy a flourishing career as long as the noble General Batista reigns over Cuba.