Tuesday, November 20, 2007
We all know what happened when Joe Namath had too much to drink & hit on Suzy Kolber ON THE AIR.....He told her how much he wanted to "have relations" with her. Apparently it's a Jets tradition.
Why Does Hip Hop Get Such A Bad Rap When This Is Going Down?
Bear in mind as you read this story this nonsense has been going on for years. Not months, not weeks, not days, but for years. As this is going on we have not seen or heard a call to end any Jets games. Also interesting to note we have not seen or heard a peep from that fat ass sports writer Jason Whitlock bashing on this the way he does Hip Hop. We don't see Stanely Crouch sounding the alarm calling for change. Nor did we hear dumb ass Don Imus point out that perhaps he was inspired to call women Nappy Headed Hoes after attending one of these games.
For the record, I have always pointed out the madness that takes place at my beloved Raider Games including two unrelated shootings last month in the parking lot. Hip Hop had nothing to do with it. I have also pointed out the riots that take place after every 'Big Game' between Cal-Stanford, two of the nations most prestigious schools. I have always pointed out the damage done and the injuries sustained make the worse Hip Hop shows seem like a church gathering. Reading this story in the NY Times about the NY Jets tops the cake.
The next time you hear a Bill 'Neo-Nazi Scumbag' O'Reilly rant or read a Jason 'Uncle Ruckus' Whitlock column tell them to shut up and stick to subject matter closer to home and from the looks of things-more dangerous. Hip Hop doesn't hate women. The New York Jets Do!
Ritual of Harassment At Jets Games
By DAVID PICKER,The New York Times
At halftime of the Jets' home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, several hundred men lined one of Giants Stadium's two pedestrian ramps at Gate D. Three deep in some areas, they whistled and jumped up and down. Then they began an obscenity-laced chant, demanding that the few women in the gathering expose their breasts.
Gabriele Stabile for The New York Times Men gather at the Gate D pedestrian ramp during last Sunday's game yelling vulgar chants to women to expose their breasts in what has become a halftime ritual at New York Jets home games.
When one woman appeared to be on the verge of obliging, the hooting and hollering intensified. But then she walked away, and plastic beer bottles and spit went flying. Boos swept through the crowd of unsatisfied men.
Marco Hoffner, an 18-year-old from Lacey Township, N.J., was expecting to see more. Not from the Jets — they pulled off a big upset over the Steelers. He wanted more from the alternative halftime show that, according to many fans, has been a staple at Jets home games for years.
"Very disappointed, because we're used to seeing a lot," Hoffner said.
The mood of previous Gate D crowds — captured on video clips posted on YouTube — sometimes bordered on hostile, not unlike the spirit of infamously aggressive European soccer hooligans. One clip online shows a woman being groped by a man standing next to her.
Sunday's scene played out for about 20 minutes, and at least one woman granted the men's request, setting off a roar as if the former star running back Curtis Martin had just scored a touchdown. Martin was actually nearby, being honored on the field in the official halftime show, which had a far less intense audience.
Throughout halftime, about 10 security guards in yellow jackets stood near the bottom of the circular, multilevel ramp, located beyond the stadium's concourse of concession stands and restrooms. One of the guards was smoking a cigarette; many fans do the same during halftime on the giant ramps, which are located at each corner of the stadium. Another guard later said they were not permitted to do anything about the chants at Gate D because of free speech laws. Yet when a reporter tried to interview two security guards after halftime, he was detained in a holding room, threatened with arrest and asked to hand over his tape recorder.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which provides security at Giants Stadium for Jets and Giants games, is aware of the raucous and raunchy halftime show. Patrick C. Aramini, the authority's vice president for security, parking and traffic for the Meadowlands Sports Complex, said men and women could be expelled and even turned over to the New Jersey State Police to be arrested for their participation — although he said he did not know if anyone was cited Sunday. He added that other measures, like blocking access to the ramps, were being considered.
"The problem is, you got to watch four or five hundred people sometimes in the one particular spiral," Aramini said.
"What do we do, arrest everybody that starts chanting?"
Such fan behavior is not uncommon at other sporting events in the United States, like Nascar races and the infield at the Kentucky Derby. There was even an infamous undressing in the National Football League's marquee event: during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, a "wardrobe malfunction" exposed Janet Jackson's right breast before a worldwide televised audience.
But the Gate D tradition at Giants Stadium apparently is unique to Jets games; the Gate D ramps are comparatively empty at Giants games. Perhaps forlorn Jets fans, who have rarely had a winning team to support, are seeking alternative entertainment on game days.
"This is the game," said Patrick Scofield, a 20-year-old from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who has attended several Jets games the last two seasons.
Denisse Rivera, a 23-year-old from the Bronx, was on a first date Sunday. When she arrived at the crowd at Gate D, several men pointed at her, signaling men at all levels to chant in her direction. After a brief moment of hesitation, she flashed them. Then she took a bow.
"I don't care," Rivera said when told that video clips of previous incidents, taken ..phones, ended up online. "I love my body and I like what I have, so let everybody share it."
Two security guards soon approached Rivera. The guards warned her about indecent exposure laws, she said, and let her go.
Jets officials declined to be interviewed about the halftime tradition at their home games. In a statement, the team said: "We expect our fans to comply with all rules at the stadium, and the vast majority do. For those who don't, we expect and encourage N.J.S.E.A. security to take appropriate action."
Greg Aiello, an N.F.L. spokesman, said, "I would defer any comment to law enforcement and the people on the stadium authority there that are in charge of fan-conduct issues."
The State Police staffs every Jets home game. But Sgt. Stephen Jones, a spokesman, said the State Police did not make an attempt to prevent fans from congregating in Giants Stadium. But he said that there were incidents of fans throwing money into the center of the spiral ramps. Those fans then threw objects at children picking up the money. Access to the center of the ramps is now blocked off by a chain-link fence.
"Our emphasis is certainly not general security," Jones said. "Something like you're describing, the stairwell behavior, is a matter that the security would handle. Now if they come up with something where somebody needs to be arrested, the troops will go out there and affect that arrest."
Some parents are not pleased with the halftime activities away from the field.
Randall Lazzaro, a 40-year-old from New Jersey, attended Sunday's game with his wife and two sons, ages 6 and 9. He was at the base of Gate D shortly before halftime and said that cursing at games was probably the main reason parents did not want to take their kids to games.
When Lazzaro was told what was about to happen on the ramps at Gate D, he said, "That's a disgusting practice and the police have to get involved, put a stop to it."
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
CHARLESTON, S.C. — For years, this city has debated whether to erect a monument to one of its most divisive figures — Denmark Vesey, the convicted plotter of a 19th-century slave rebellion.
Now, just when the monument builders have the upper hand, there's another question: Which Vesey should be memorialized?
The one who incited slaves to burn down the city, kill the whites, steal the ships and sail to freedom in Haiti? Or the one who, says the author of an upcoming book, was an innocent victim — framed by one white politician to discredit another?
In 1822 Vesey was found guilty of planning what would have been the biggest slave uprising in U.S. history. He was hanged along with 34 other blacks in what historians agree was probably the largest civil execution in U.S history.
Today he's marked only by a plaque on what may have been his house and by two paintings based on artists' conceptions of what he may have looked like. He left no records or writings. His descendants scattered.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: SC | African-American | Charleston | Michael Johnson
Quest for a monument
At the time of Vesey's conviction, Charleston was America's chief slave port and one of its tensest cities. Whites — outnumbered three to one by slaves — were haunted by memories of a 1791 slave rebellion in Haiti.
The Vesey affair seemed to confirm those fears. Afterward, whites became more militant in their support of slavery and more antagonistic toward Northern abolitionists. South Carolina cracked down on blacks' rights and Charleston built a fortress and military academy, The Citadel.
Then, in 1831, a slave named Nat Turner led an actual — though futile — rebellion in Virginia. A fuse had been lit that would burn until the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor and the start of the Civil War in 1861.
Ever since, many whites in Charleston saw Vesey as a killer, while many blacks saw him as a freedom fighter.
About 20 years ago, an African-American social studies teacher named Henry Darby decided that Vesey, buried in an unmarked grave in an unknown location, deserved a monument.
Although Charleston is obsessed by history and filled with memorials, he says, there's none to the blacks who built the city. "I thought we should do something for Denmark Vesey," he says. "His story needed to be told."
According to historical accounts, the story began around 1767 in the West Indies, where he was born into slavery. He was sold to a slave ship captain named Vesey, whom he accompanied on voyages around the Atlantic. The young slave learned to read and write, mastered several languages and became a skilled carpenter.
Around 1783 the captain moved to Charleston with his slave, who hired himself out as a carpenter and became a lay leader of the African Episcopal Methodist church. In 1799 he won a lottery and bought his freedom for $600.
Vesey was outspoken — he read the Book of Exodus as a liberation lesson for slaves — and charismatic — "looked up to with respect and awe" by others of his race, according to the judges' official summary of his trial.
In 1822, according to the summary, a slave told authorities about a planned uprising. Vesey was arrested, and subsequent testimony put him at the center of a plot.
According to one witness, Vesey secretly urged followers to allow "no white soul (to) survive." When asked about innocent women and children, he allegedly replied, according to trial records, "What was the use of killing the louse and leaving the nit?"
Those words were handed from generation to generation in Charleston. When Darby advanced his proposal in 2000, a flood of letters to the Charleston Post and Courier accused Vesey of having plotted "ethnic cleansing"; "nothing less than a Holocaust"; "mass murder."
Plans move ahead
Within a few years, however, the city had promised $20,000 toward a Vesey memorial and provided a site in a municipal park. This summer, the Charleston County Council voted $40,000 for the memorial, and the city tentatively approved the design, which features a 7-foot statue of Vesey holding a Bible in one hand and carpentry tools in the other.
The news provoked virtually no negative reaction — a sign to Darby (who was elected to the county council four years ago) that "Charleston has come of age. We no longer marginalize black history."
Mayor Joe Riley, who is white, attributes the change in part to curiosity: "We all want to know what happened. We want the empty pages of history to be filled in."
There lies the rub.
Historians such as Michael Johnson of Johns Hopkins have replaced the old Vesey question — good guy or bad guy? — with another: Was he the author of a black conspiracy or the victim of a white one?
Johnson has concluded "there was no plot. … Slaves and free people of color talked about freedom a lot, and at the trial that talk was amplified into a conspiracy."
In a forthcoming book, Johnson argues that testimony against Vesey was coerced under "emotional duress and sometimes torture" from slaves who feared for their lives.
Johnson says the real motive for the trials was the desire of the city's hard-line mayor, James Hamilton Jr., to embarrass Gov. Thomas Bennett Jr., a moderate on slavery, and that Vesey's real heroism was his refusal to give false testimony.
Douglas Egerton, a historian at Le Moyne College in New York, who has written about the affair, says Vesey indeed was the plot mastermind.
Egerton says that just because testimony is coerced doesn't mean it's false, and that other blacks, including some who'd reached safety in the North, agreed there had been a plot led by Vesey.
If Vesey was a victim, will there be enough enthusiasm to raise the several hundred thousand dollars still needed for the monument?
Darby says that although he believes Vesey did plot rebellion, it doesn't matter: "Whether one looks at him as a freedom fighter or as a victim, the fact remains that he was a black man who hated slavery and was executed for a cause."
........"He then read in the Bible where God commanded, that all should be cut off, both men, women and children, and he said, he believed, it was no sin for us to do so, for the Lord had commanded us to do it." --Testimony of Rolla, belonging to Thomas Bennett, recorded in the Trial Record of the Denmark Vesey Slave Conspiracy of 1822
In 1771, fourteen-year-old Denmark Vesey was transported from St. Thomas to Cape Francais by slave trader Captain Joseph Vesey. Upon a return trip to Cape Francais, Captain Vesey was forced to reclaim Denmark, who his master said was suffering from epileptic fits. Denmark accompanied Captain Vesey on his trading voyages until the Captain retired to Charleston, never again showing signs of epilepsy.
In 1799, Vesey won the lottery and bought his freedom for $600. He could not purchase the freedom of his wife and children, however, and some claimed that this fact motivated his crusade to destroy the institution of slavery.
Vesey joined the newly formed African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1817. He became a "class leader," preaching to a small group in his home during the week. White Charlestonians constantly monitored the African church, disrupting services and arresting members. An angry Vesey began preaching from the Old Testament, particularly Exodus, and taught followers that they were the New Israelites, the chosen people whose enslavement God would punish with death.
In 1822, Vesey and other leaders from the African Church began plotting a rebellion. His chief lieutenant was an East African priest named Gullah Jack, who led conspirators in prayer and rituals and gave them amulets to protect them in battle. Vesey's theology of liberation, combined with Gullah Jack's African mysticism, inspired potential participants, and word of the rebellion grew. Vesey set the date for revolt on July 14, and men from Charleston and surrounding plantations planned to seize Charleston's arsenals and guard houses, kill the Governor, set fire to the city, and kill every white man they saw. But in June, several nervous slaves leaked the plot to their masters, and Charleston authorities began arresting leaders. Vesey was captured on June 22, and he and the conspirators were brought to trial. Despite torture and the threat of execution, the men refused to give up their followers. On July 2nd, Denmark Vesey and five other men were hanged. Gullah Jack was executed several days later, with the total number of executions reaching 35 by August 9th.
In the aftermath of the Vesey rebellion, the African Church was burned down and authorities passed a series of laws further restricting the rights of Charleston slaves. Vesey became a martyr for African-Americans and a symbol for the abolitionist movement, while the increasingly militant politics of white America dragged the country toward Civil War.
"At almost every meeting, it was said, Vesey or one of his comrades 'read to us from the Bible, how the children of Israel were delivered out of Egypt from bondage.' That theme was struck insistently: the deliverance from Egypt, the movement of God among his captive people. (No wonder, then, that in some black tradition it was said that Vesey or his fellows were the inspiration for the ageless black song of faith and struggle, 'Go Down, Moses'...)" --Vincent Harding, There is a River
KEY MOMENTS OF FAITH
VESEY LEAVES THE WHITE CHURCH
In 1815, whites in Charleston discovered that black Methodists had been secretly pooling money to buy freedom for enslaved congregants. Whites moved to restrict black autonomy. They planned to construct a hearse house on top of a black burial ground, a move Charleston blacks saw as a final insult. Over 4,000 black members left white churches in protest, and formed an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Denmark Vesey followed them, leaving the segregated Second Presbyterian Church, where slaves were taught the words of St. Paul: "Servants, obey your masters." In the AME Church, Vesey found the freedom to preach his beliefs.
PLANNING A REBELLION
At weekly AME "class meetings" held in his home, Vesey taught a radical new liberation theology. He spoke only from the Old Testament, particularly Exodus, casting his followers as the new Israelites, whom God would lead to freedom. In 1818, white authorities disrupted an AME service attended by free black ministers from Philadelphia and arrested 140 people. Vesey considered leaving Charleston for Africa, but he decided to stay and "see what he could do for his fellow creatures." With a new urgency, he preached that freedom for slaves would be realized, and he began plotting a rebellion.
VESEY ENLISTS AN AFRICAN PRIEST
Following the 1818 raid on the African Church, Vesey enlisted Gullah Jack, a Church member and an Angolan priest and healer, to recruit native Africans to join his rebellion. As a conjurer who could control the supernatural world, Jack was respected among the slaves working on Charleston's plantations. At secret nighttime meetings, Jack led men in prayer, singing and ritual meals that transformed them from powerless slaves to rebels with a common purpose. He prescribed a special diet and gave them crab claws as amulets to protect them in battle. Through Jack, Vesey was able to reach many more recruits.
BETRAYED BY A CHRISTIAN
Like Denmark Vesey, George Wilson was a class leader in the AME Church, but he followed the Christian doctrine of loving one's neighbor, and was devoted to his master. When fellow slave Rolla Bennett told him of the rebellion, Wilson pleaded with him "to let it alone." Five sleepless nights later, on June 14, Wilson told his master of the plot, confirming the confession of another man and leading to the arrest and execution of Rolla Bennett and his conspirators. Although he was granted his freedom as a reward, Wilson eventually lost his sanity and committed suicide.
BEYOND THE GRAVE
After the executions of Denmark Vesey and 34 others, Charleston authorities exiled the African Church leaders and razed the building. Although devastated by the destruction of their church, black Charlestonians continued to honor Vesey's revolutionary Old Testament theology in secret. For abolitionists such as David Walker, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Vesey became a symbol of resistance and an inspiration in their writings. White Charleston responded by increasing efforts to convert slaves to New Testament Christianity, and by passing legislation to further restrict the rights of slaves. This increasingly militant path eventually led to the Civil War.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I've decided to compile a list of the most soulful singers of the last 50 years....In no particular order. I dare you to dispute my list.
1. Sam Cooke
2. Otis Redding
3. Bobby Womack
4. Al Green
5. Aretha Franklin
6. James Brown
7. Isaac Hayes
8. Johnnie Taylor
9. Mavis Staples
10. Marvin Gaye
11. Eddie Levert
12. Wilson Pickett
13. Terence Trent D'Arby
14. Etta James
15. Charlie Wilson
16. Barry White
17. Chaka Khan
19. Jill Scott
20. Lauryn Hill
21. Johnny Gill
22. Joe Simon
23. Anthony Hamilton
24. Hil St. Soul
25. Gladys Knight
1. Sam Cooke
2. Otis Redding
3. Bobby Womack
4. Al Green
5. Aretha Franklin
6. James Brown
7. Isaac Hayes
8. Johnnie Taylor
9. Mavis Staples
10. Marvin Gaye
11. Eddie Levert
12. Wilson Pickett
13. Terence Trent D'Arby
14. Etta James
15. Charlie Wilson
16. Barry White
17. Chaka Khan
19. Jill Scott
20. Lauryn Hill
21. Johnny Gill
22. Joe Simon
23. Anthony Hamilton
24. Hil St. Soul
25. Gladys Knight
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thu Nov 15, 2:59 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) - Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse kicked off her 17-date tour with a shambolic performance that saw fuming fans booing and marching out, reports said Thursday.
The concert at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, was a chance for the 24-year-old to get back to singing and put her woes behind her.
Winehouse has had "health issues" -- widely reported to be drug and alcohol abuse -- and her party-loving husband Blake Fielder-Civil is being held on grievous bodily harm and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice charges.
But Wednesday's gig at the NIA, which can hold up to 13,000 people, was slammed by angry fans as a "disgrace" after she turned up late and stumbled about the stage.
When punters started jeering, Winehouse snapped: "Let me tell you something. First of all, if you're booing, you're a mug for buying a ticket.
"Second, to all those booing, just wait till my husband gets out of incarceration -- and I mean that."
The Birmingham Mail newspaper's music critic Andy Coleman said it was "one of the saddest nights of my life".
"I saw a supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience," he wrote.
James Dyas demanded his money back, according to London's Evening Standard newspaper.
"She came on stage half an hour late. She managed four songs but was slurring her words and swaying all over the place," he said.
"She fell into the guitar stand and dropped the microphone -- it was atrocious. The song dedicated to her husband was so bad it was like swinging a cat round your head."
An, from Birmingham, commented on The Times newspaper's website: "Her singing was awful, out of tune and slurred. She sang for around 50 minutes -- drinking throughout.
"I have never seen so many people leave a show. 'Valerie' was my favourite song -- she massacred it!"
Pete Massera, from north-west England, added: "It was an absolutely atrocious gig. I, like many others in the audience, got our coats and left before she even finished the set."
Gary Atwell, from nearby Rugby, said "streams" of fans walked out, according to the BBC website.
"I went out for a sneaky cigarette half way through and at least 40 people left, just in that five minutes," he said.
"Valerie", the closing number, descended into chaos when Winehouse stopped singing, dropped the microphone and walked off stage.
Winehouse, named best British female solo artist at the Brit Awards in February, has rarely been out of the newspapers in recent months due to her lifestyle issues.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I would never consider him to be the "King", but I certainly admire his music & his performances. There are at least 5 other artists that could lay claim to the title of "King Of Rock n Roll" before Elvis. Say what you want, but Elvis was still a BAD MAN...
Elvis & Racism - Elvis Presley Legacy is cloudy through lens of race
By: Christopher Blank
In April 1957, Sepia magazine, a white-owned sensationalist monthly for black readers, took up a discussion as controversial then as it is today: the case of a white kid who adopted black music and became the most successful artist of his time.
The headline: 'How Negroes Feel About Elvis'
"As one of the most-debated subjects in the land, Elvis Presley arouses white-heat discussion everywhere. But among Negroes, the controversy over Elvis is even more explosive than among whites. Colored opinion about the hydromatic-hipped hillbilly from Mississippi runs the gamut from caustic condemnation to ardent admiration.
"Some Negroes are unable to forget that Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, home town of the foremost Dixie race baiter, former Congressman Jon Rankin. Others believe a rumored crack by Elvis during a Boston appearance in which he is alleged to have said: "The only thing Negroes can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records."
And there it is. The first time ever that statement appeared in print, says Michael T. Bertrand, author of the book Race, Rock, and Elvis (2000, University of Illinois Press) and a Southern studies professor at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
"Each time I teach a new class on popular music and Southern history, I still have African-American students come up after class and say, 'You know, I heard from my uncle what Elvis said.' So I eventually had to find where it came from."
Twenty-five years after Elvis' death, people still want to know how black people feel about Elvis Presley.
Was he just another white Southern racist? Was he an impostor or worse, a thief?
Many black artists have spoken out to honor the singer. From bluesman BB King to rapper Chuck D, these influential musicians are helping to change perceptions of Elvis.
Elvis couldn't do it himself.
Soon after the Sepia rumor started, Elvis broke his media silence for an exclusive interview in Jet, another magazine targeted at black readers.
Some said he made the remark while in Boston. Elvis had never been to Boston. Others said they heard it on Edward R. Murrow's CBS TV show Person to Person. But after Elvis' manager Col. Tom Parker demanded an appearance fee, CBS balked and Elvis didn't go on the show.
The Jet article of 1957 further confirmed what friends and associates knew about Elvis all along: He truly loved and respected black musicians.
"A lot of people seem to think I started this business," he told Jet. "But rock n roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people. Let's face it: I can't sing like Fats Domino can. I know that."
Musicologists scoff at talk of a racist Elvis. A dirt-poor outcast at segregated Humes High School, he wore pink shirts and pomaded hair like the folks he admired down on Beale Street.
He listened religiously to Memphis's black radio station WDIA and became friends with then-disc jockey BB King, who later defended him in Sepia: "What most people don't know is that this boy is serious about what he's doing. He's carried away by it. When I was in Memphis with my band, he used to stand in the wings and watch us perform. As for fading away, rock and roll is here to stay and so, I believe, is Elvis. He's been a shot in the arm to the business and all I can say is 'that's my man'"
Elvis attended black church services. Two early No. 1 hits - Don't Be Cruel and All Shook Up - were by black songwriter Otis Blackwell.
Who's the real king?
While Elvis rocketed to stardom, resentment grew among talented musicians whose similar-sounding records weren't getting the same play. The hip swiveling that merely disgusted conservative whites amounted to theft for blacks. More than one player laid claim to Elvis' gimmicks.
Blues shouter Wynonie 'Mr. Blues' Harris told Sepia: "I originated that style 10 years ago. The current crop of shouters are rank impostors. They have no right to call themselves the kings of rock and roll. I am the king of rock and roll."
In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, guitarist Calvin New born said Elvis hung out in a black bar outside Memphis where he played. "He would sit there and watch me every Wednesday and Friday night," he said. "I'd wiggle my legs and swivel my hips and make love to the guitar."
In 1956, the Amsterdam News said Elvis had "copied Bo Diddley's style to the letter."
Flamboyant singer Little Richard pointed out stinging economic disparities: "Elvis was paid $25,000 for doing three songs in a movie and I only got $5,000, and if it wasn't for me, Elvis would starve."
But Elvis also couldn't change the times. In the same month of the Sepia article, singer Nat King Cole was famously attacked onstage by five racists during a concert in Birmingham. The 3,000 white audience members booed the assailants, but did not intervene during the beating, which the men claimed was to protest "bop and Negro music."
"It's unfortunate that Presley eventually became the white hero," Bertrand said, "because during his lifetime he represented the possibility of racial reconciliation."
What Elvis believed
Bertrand suggests that Elvis' song choices - such as If I Can Dream, Walk a Mile in My Shoes or In the Ghetto - revealed his true feelings.
But the singer's move to Hollywood struck many as an abandonment of his musical roots. Credibility with struggling black musicians faded when Elvis jumped to the big screen.
"When he first started out in his career, Presley blurred racial lines," Bertrand said. "But later on in his career he became, for lack of a better term, whiter. When he tried to become more middle class, he lost what people perceived were his black characteristics."
After Elvis' death in August 1977, white America's continued idolization of the singer didn't ride well with many black people who, particularly during the 1980s, saw their contributions to pop music overlooked and underexposed.
In 1990, anti-Elvis sentiment exploded from black artists. The group Living Colour lashed out against the music industry through their song Elvis Is Dead: "I've got a reason to believe / We all won't be received at Graceland."
Raging against gang violence, poverty and inequality, rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy shouted what have become some of the group's most enduring lyrics.
"Elvis was a hero to most / but he didn't mean (expletive) to me you see / Straight up racist, that sucker was simple and plain / Mother (expletive) him and John Wayne / Cause I'm black and I'm proud, I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped / Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps."
Recently, Chuck D explained that his attack was against the Elvis whose roots were whitewashed by his legacy.
"The Elvis that died wasn't the same Elvis that was coming up", Chuck D said. "They said he was king. Based on who and what? Based on the quality of the people judging or the quality of his music? What does 'King of Rock and Roll' mean growing up in a black household? My Chuck Berry records are still in my house. Little Richard is still in the house. Otis Redding and James Brown. The King of what?"
Memphis, Elvis' kingdom, is a near perfect reflection of the problems with the music industry and society at large.
The Bluff City is known for its blues. Known for its soul. Known for BB King, Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MGs, Al Green and one of the most influential recording studios of all time: Stax.
While Elvis shrines were popping up all over town, black contributions were being dismantled. The Stax recording studio was demolished in 1989. The same fate nearly befell one of the Civil Rights era's most important landmarks, the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.
As much as singer Mavis Staples loved Elvis and his music, his unbridled legacy bothered her.
"What helped Elvis was that when he did interviews, he would tell that he got it from blacks," Staples said. "Now one thing that I could say for myself was that when I came back to Memphis after Stax closed, maybe about five years later, I only saw Elvis. And that's when I said, 'wait a minute.' Something should be out here about Stax. Just because it folded doesn't mean it didn't happen. And the people of Memphis should have remembered all of the music."
Soul singer Isaac Hayes, back into the limelight after his stint as South Park's Chef, said he understands how Elvis' memory became entangled in broader issues of race.
"Elvis was due the respect he had. No animosity. No sour grapes. Elvis was the man", he said. "The thing was that we didn't get what we (the black artists) deserved. Ignorance is one of the main things. Racism? It's one of the factors. I would say it took the whole world outside of Memphis to recognize what a treasure black Memphis had."
In the past 25 years, the world has improved for black people not only in the music industry, but in other areas as well.
Again, Memphis exemplifies this. Graceland isn't the only tourist attraction anymore.
The Rock and Soul Museum traces the history of the blues. The National Civil Rights Museum (which rescued the Lorraine Motel) depicts the 20th Century's great American struggle. And the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is on the original site.
Folks in the music industry now have more respect for black artists, says Chuck D, including the new artists who seem to be walking in Elvis' shoes.
If ever there were a modern parallel, white rapper Eminem is a shoo-in.
Like Elvis, Eminem grew up poor and honed his gift by studying black music and culture. Like Elvis, he's popular with whites. Like Elvis, he's become one of the most successful in the business. And like Elvis, Eminem has caught the acting bug.
Eminem doesn't hesitate to point out the irony on his latest album The Eminem Show, produced by rapper and mentor Dr. Dre.
"I'm not the first king of controversy / I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley / To do black music so selfishly / And use it to get myself wealthy (Hey) / There's a concept that works."
Chuck D, a founding father of hip-hop and pop musicologist, said that accepting Elvis, and by extension other white crossover artists, might be easier for black Americans now that black artists are getting more credit and exposure.
Several years ago, the Fox TV network sent him to Graceland to do a black-perspective news story about Elvis. The assignment opened his eyes.
"Elvis had to come through the streets of Memphis and turn out black crowds before he became famous," Chuck D said. "It wasn't like he cheated to get there. He was a bad-ass white boy. Just like Eminem is doing today. The thing about today is that Eminem has more respect for black artists and black people and culture today than a lot of black artists themselves. He has a better knowledge where it comes from. Elvis had a great respect for black folk at a time when black folks were considered niggers, and who gave a damn about nigger music?"
The battle for Elvis' 'soul' continues. The Disney cartoon Lilo & Stitch, one of the first Elvis-themed films to show minorities (in this case, Hawaiian natives) digging Elvis' music, is a step in dismantling the racist rumor and acquainting a young, multicultural generation with his music.
Race relations are a constant effort, says Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises. (This article written 2002)
"Time and time again in marketing sessions it ends up on the list of things we want to continually put forth," Soden said. "We've got a responsibility for the history, the pop culture and the legacy to find a way to correct those misperceptions."
Improving business is also a factor. Not just in record sales, but in getting the community to support the headquarters of Elvis' empire.
After all, how much pride could the mostly black neighborhood of Whitehaven take in Graceland if its celebrity occupant represented racism? How does that affect the morale of the 400 employees, many of whom live nearby? How does that rub off on the mostly white tourists who are a major source of income for Whitehaven businesses?
"Let's face it, 98 percent of our visitors are from outside the city," Soden said. "We know that we're an economic contribution to the neighborhood. We know for a fact that we're going to be here five years, 10 years, 20 years from now."
Graceland wants the Memphis community to know it cares. Its biggest charity effort is Presley Place, a 12-unit apartment complex that houses homeless people until they're back on their feet.
Despite the efforts by historians, musicians and corporate executives, getting the word out means reaching one person at a time.
Hip-hop singer Mary J. Blige apologized after singing Blue Suede Shoes on VH1's Divas Live.
She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I prayed about it (performing the song) because I know Elvis was a racist. But that was just a song VH1 asked me to sing. It meant nothing to me. I didn't wear an Elvis flag. I didn't represent Elvis that day. I was just doing my job like everybody else."
The extra exposure in 2002 will have helped change minds, certainly. That, and the continued efforts of Elvis' black acquaintances.
Before his death, Rufus Thomas gave an interview to the TV program American Routes, which aired yesterday on WKNO. The former WDIA disc jockey and legendary Stax singer said: "Well a lot of people said Elvis stole our music. Stole the black man's music. The black man, white man, has got no music of their own. Music belongs to the universe."
Thomas went on to say that he played Elvis' tunes on the radio until the program manager told him to stop because black people didn't want to hear them. Then Elvis showed up at a WDIA fund-raising event for black handicapped children.
"When Elvis wiggled that leg, the crowd went nuts. He walked right off the stage and people were storming that stage. The next day I started back to playing Elvis again. Going to show you that no one person can tell you what another group might like."
Quotes about Elvis
"Elvis was my close personal friend. He came to my Deer Lake training camp about two years before he died. He told us he didn't want nobody to bother us. He wanted peace and quiet and I gave him a cabin in my camp and nobody even knew it. When the cameras started watching me train, he was up on the hill sleeping in the cabin. Elvis had a robe made for me. I don't admire nobody, but Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know." - Muhammad Ali
"A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis". - Jackie Wilson
"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him. Last time I saw him was at Graceland. We sang Old Blind Barnabus together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother". - James Brown
"That's my idol, Elvis Presley. If you went to my house, you'd see pictures all over of Elvis. He’s just the greatest entertainer that ever lived. And I think it’s because he had such presence. When Elvis walked into a room, Elvis Presley was in the f***ing room. I don’t give a f*** who was in the room with him, Bogart, Marilyn Monroe". - Eddie Murphy
"I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun studios. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra's. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness". - B.B. King
"Elvis was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn't let Black music through. He opened the door for Black music." – Little Richard
"Early on somebody told me that Elvis was black. And I said 'No, he's white but he's down-home'. And that is what it’s all about. Not being black or white it’s being 'down-home' and which part of down-home you come from." – Sammy Davis Jnr
"I have a respect for Elvis and my friendship. It ain't my business what he did in private. The only thing I want to know is, 'Was he my friend?', 'Did I enjoy him as a performer?', 'Did he give the world of entertainment something?' - and the answer is YES on all accounts. The other jazz just don't matter." – Sammy Davis Jnr
"On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Elvis eleven." – Sammy Davis Jnr
"Describe Elvis Presley? He was the greatest who ever was, is, or will ever be." - Chuck Berry
"Elvis loved gospel music. He was raised on it. And he really did know what he was talking about. He was singing Gospel all the time – almost anything he did had that flavor. You can’t get away from what your roots are." – Cissy Houston
He was a mild tempered, quiet, nice guy. He treated everyone the same. There have been rumors about him, saying that he said 'The only thing blacks can do for me is shine my shoes.' Now, I don't believe that. I never saw him act in anyway like that." "I overheard one of Elvis' friends at the time ask Elvis 'Why do you call him 'mister' -- he's just a barbecue guy?' Elvis looked at him and said 'He's a man.' " "That," Withers says, "Was the humility in his temperament." - Ernest Withers
"Elvis was a great man and did more for civil rights than people know. To call him a racist is an insult to us all." - Ernest Withers
Saturday, November 03, 2007
So, we went to the fair and we were enjoying ourselves. We decided to walk around the entire fairground area and as we were walking near one of the shooting galleries, some idiot says to me in an attempt to get me to play his crooked game..."Hey come on over and practice for your next drive-by..." It caught us off-guard and we walked away shaking our heads....A couple of days later he was let go after I decided to complain. Apparently he's been a problem before. Should I have allowed him to keep the 13 teeth that he still had? Maybe he's friends with Dog The Bounty Hunter...