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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Judy Pace - A class act for the ages



70's Judy!


Judy Lenteen Pace. June 15, 1942. Beautiful. Skilled. Underrated. Daughter of an airplane mechanic and a dressmaker. Sister to singer Jean Pace.

I first encountered this lady when she played villainess, Vicki Fletcher on the  old TV show Peyton Place. Loved her part. She was a dark-skinned beauty who had not been cast as a helpless female or a maid or a magical person of color. Why does that matter you ask? Because "America" had never seen a dark-skinned,Black actress that had not been a "Mammy" before. They were only used to actress with her phenotype playing maids, servants and usually groveling. Judy didn't play that. She was sexy, svelte and smooth-talking. Oh, honey. "America" was shook. Viewers wrote letters and called the network. All sorts of calamity ensued. They protested. "How dare this woman NOT be a subservient character! This must stop!" Oh my. Such fragility. She stayed on the show until her character played out and then she went on to other shows

Anyhoo, I was only a kid but I recall dinners around the dining room table where my youngest uncle (The Revolutionary! LOL) would try to draw my hard-to-impress grandfather into discussion about how "groundbreaking" this was. My mom used to nod in agreement. My Grandma used to quietly keep serving the food and my grandfather used to grunt. He was not a  TV watcher. Later, when Pace received an Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for another TV show The Young Lawyers, Grandpa got impressed. He remarked, "Well, I guess she's good, she won something." Me? I just loved her because she was b-a-d in everything. Do you hear me? Michael Jackson B-A-D.

Anyway, another fantastic break came for her. She became famous for her guest shots on TV shows, TV movies (Brian's Song for one opposite Billy Dee Williams, Shelley Fabares and James Caan) and did a lot of films. Many were blaxpoitation. Whatevs. I ADORED them. Each and everyone. Her biggest break came when she did a show called Owners with two other young, hungry actresses  - Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith. Another show on ABC was in development and since the trio had such good chemistry, they were first choice to star in it. But it was not to be. When it came down to "America,"' the sponsors and plain old prejudice,  ABC choked which was weird because Pace had delivered for them with Peyton Place years before. I suppose visions of all the hate mail they'd get for YEARS if they picked Judy even if the show were a hit was dancing in their heads. Soooooo, Charlie's Angels proceeded without Pace and the part went to Kate Jackson. And you know the rest. It made household names of these women.

Side note: The same nonsense happened to Bruce Lee in the early 70s too. ABC Network executives saw his work as Cato in The Green Hornet and supposedly "absolutely adored" it. Lee was promised the lead in a new kind of TV Westen once the particulars were squared away. The execs pledged to call him. Well, the particulars got squared away and Lee got no call except the wake up call. He lost the lead to David Carradine. ABC shot and aired that new kind of Western, Kung Fu, without Lee. He sat at home and watched it premiere like the rest of us.

In any case, I loved Judy's tenure in Hollywood. I saw EVERYTHING she did. Twice married (first to fellow actor, the late Don Mitchell and then to another groundbreaker, the late baseball great Curt Flood), Ms.Pace is the mother of two daughters, survived the nuttiness of Hollywood and is busy today.


Judy today!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Farewell to two legends!


Some biggies in the music and news industries took their leave of the mortal coil last week. Bobby Taylor, the Motown singer and producer who discovered the Jackson 5, NOT Diana Ross, as the myth goes and Jim Vance, a pioneer in local D. C. news.

Taylor was 83 years old at the time of his passing, and was the man who introduced the Jackson 5 to the world. Diana Ross was the known face that was used to boost interest in the new group to the public, but it was lesser profiled Bobby Taylor who cracked the band. To his own fame, he was a noted record producer and part of the group, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. R. I. P. Mr. Taylor.








Newscaster Jim Vance was  a contemporary of Ed Bradley, but never made the leap to reporting network news like Mr. Bradley. Mr. Vance made his stomping ground the D. C. area for over 40 years. Not a happening there escaped his reporter's eye. The last public appearance I recall seeing him at was the televising of the dedication of the mural on the side of Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington. The painting memorialized the stars and politicians who'd eaten there. He looked frail then as he was fighting cancer but he still wanted to part of the news. Mr. Vance was 75. R. I. P. Mr. Vance.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

HBO'S CONFEDERATE - I don't got time for dat!






Nichelle Tramble Spellman. Malcolm Spellman.

Major side-eye for you two.

I come with a heavy heart to say that these two black writers are going to be on board to pen the HBO alternate universe series called CONFEDERATE. Now, Lord knows I do not like to see Black talent stifled, but...why, people? CONFEDERATE deals with a present-day USA where, you guessed it, the South won the Civil War. Slavery still exists. Oh, joy! The North is repenting. And I'm sure there will be tons of gratuitous, interracial sex scenes for titillation for one and all!

What the hell?

All I can see is a racist's wet dream no matter how "wonderfully" it will be written. I can do without this "entertainment." Are they kidding me? I can picture Richard Spencer, Steve Bannon and their ilk getting comfy on the couch on the nights this show airs to munch popcorn, sip sweet tea and wax nostalgic.

UGH!

This is the cinematic equivalent of those historical romances with Black characters, set during the Civil War South, that are created under the guise of showing "another, softer" side to US history where the darkies are all happy and all the masters were benevolent.

UGH!

GAME of THRONES creators, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss will bring this cringefest to the airwaves in 2018. I suppose since the success of GoT, they are game for anything. And they believe they are helping "diversity" by hiring two Black writers. Whatevs. Look, I have always said, do what you want. Write what you want.That is your right. But be prepared for the accompanying criticism. Folk do not have to like what you wrote just because you wrote it! That's folks right too! And that's how I feel now about ALL forms of "entertainment" I find questionable.

It just gets me that the WGN CANCELLED UNDERGROUND, a successful series about the Underground Railroad, after two seasons. HBO could have picked that show up if it wanted to be progressive. But no. It doesn't make a certain demographic feel good about itself. It's amazing how when black folk make progress, others get nervous and have to be placated. Others then rush in to remind us of our "place."

UGH!

And since a certain administration got in, I see pandering of the lowest sort going on in the field of "entertainment" to the lowest of instincts. Don't get me started on the racist, crap talking that MMA fighter Conor MacGregor gets away with when he is set to fight non-White opponents. He's not the only one. A few Russian MMA fighters are out of line too. Boxers have always talked smack about each other before getting in the ring, but it has NEVER been about the other's ethnicity. Muhammud Ali talked smack but he talked about an opponent's style, or looks, or losses. NOT the fighter's ORIGINS. The new audience that boxing is trying to attract (the MMA audience) loves the racist talk. But, hey. I digress. Apparently the powers-that-be know their audiences.

So no. CONFEDERATE won't be on my dance card. It won't be getting my support, or my eyes, or my time, no matter how "sensitivity-read" it is by two Black writers looking to get established in Hollywood. No. I like myself, and my ancestors, too much. So, no. No matter which hipster way you spin it, Hollywood, my ancestors are still the losers in this alt-right, left-handed re-do of history.

Sansa Stark of GAME of THRONES said, "The North remembers." And you know what? So do I.

BENIOFF and WEISS

Monday, July 17, 2017

Michaela DePrince - A ballerina against all odds

Michaela DePrince is a ballerina and a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet. A war orphan from Sierra Leone, she endured the death of her father by the Revolutionary United Front, and the demise of her mother from starvation as the result of the ravages of war. Alone at three, she was shipped off to a refugee camp and then an orphanage. Marked by vitiligo, she was the object of taunts at the orphanage. Finally, at four, she was adopted, along with another girl, by a Jewish couple from Cherry Hill, NJ.

In the states, she thrived and dreamed of doing what she saw a woman do when she spied a magazine cover with a ballet dancer on it. As they say, "the rest is history." After many scholarships and a course of study in Philly at the Rock School for Dance Education, she was ready to fly. Discouraged by a naysayer of a teacher who told her mom that it wasn't worth investing money and time in her because "Black girls grow big butts and big boobs" (sigh) and I suppose ruin the traditional idea of what a ballerina is supposed to look like. Whatever that is. Lord help us. Ignoring the instructor, Michaela studied with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and was accepted as their youngest troupe member ever. More studies at the American Ballet Theatre and elsewhere, and after winning competitions, she she spread her wings, again and applied and was accepted at the Dutch National Ballet junior company. Diligence led ther to being admitted to the main company and made a Coryphee.

Last year, she became a household name when she danced in the video for the Beyonce song, Freedom.

Congratulations and much success to this talented, driven, 22-year old.performer. Now, I'd like to see her dance in something with Misty Copeland.

Ladies, y'all killin' it!








Saturday, July 15, 2017

A little blast from the past to fill your weekend

I'm posting this just because. I came across it on that hellmouth known as Twitter. It took me back. Waaaaaaaay back. Lord, I think I had every one of those outfits the girls were wearing. But I must admit the guys are stealing the sartorial show in this clip. Dude in the fur coat...Lawd. The terpsichorean efforts are from the Soul Train dance show from the 70s. The music is by the Isley Bros - a song called Live It Up. Then it veers off into some prime '70s soul

Now, do that and as Don Cortez Cornelius used to say, "Love, Peace and Soul!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-fwjugT3f4

No Copyright infringement intended.
I own absolutely none of these videos. (Unless otherwise stated)
Copyrights belong to their original owners.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Oil tycoon Stephen L. Hightower

The man even has the kind of name that reeks of power, prestige and oil. I mean think J. R. Ewing from the old TV show Dallas. Okay. With a name like Hightower, big things had to develop for Steve. And they did. This now CEO and founder of Hightowers Petroleum of Ohio started as a JANITOR before hitting it big in oil. Who says it can't be done? Believe in your talent, don't reveal your dream to naysayers if possible and when they do comment negatively, tell them to STFU!

My one question? His house. I wonder if it resembles Southfork.

https://blackamericaweb.com/2017/07/13/little-known-black-history-fact-steve-hightower/





info courtesy of blackamericaweb.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cherie Harris - Excellence in polo. Yes. I said "polo."

https://blavity.com/cherie-harris-is-the-first-black-woman-to-play-at-the-highest-level-of-american-polo?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Blavity%20Daily%20Newsletter%2071017&utm_content=Blavity%20Daily%20Newsletter%2071017+CID_d2a985226238a3ef67180ac8636612c2&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=first%20black%20woman%20to%20play

https://blackamericaweb.com/2017/07/11/little-known-black-history-fact-shariah-harris/


Yes. We are there too. I'm sure the regulars did a double-take when the sistah and her mount trotted onto the field. Oh, well. It was comin'. Oh, and by the by. This 19 year old at Cornell University was named player of the year. for 2016. And she's from Philly. There seems to be two spellings to her first name. I'm not certain which is correct (Cherie or Shariah), but she is a winner either way.

Don't be mad.





info courtesy of blavity.com and blackamerica web.com

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Funk Ahoy! Lakeside and Slave

Today, because of all the July 4th hoopla, I thought I'd delve into more funk bands. Again, they are just a few of the talented groups that are dear to my heart. These, and so many more, are the soundtrack of my life. So, without further ado, I give you LAKESIDE and SLAVE.

LAKESIDE







The above photos show the group in then and now poses. The outfits? They are the canvas for their biggest, greatest hit Fantastic Voyage. And that is a freakin' great song. Hailing from the tri-sate area of Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky, the band is the result of the merging of two former acts, The Nomads and The Montereys. Remarkably, they have been together since '69, continue to perform and are scheduled to be performing in my area on August 17th  at the Dell in Philadelphia. The bill will include Sheila EDav Koz, Larry Graham of Graham Central Station and Slave, the other enduring band profiled on this post.

Listen to the magic of Lakeside and you can't sit still. If you do, you better check your pulse because you are probably DEAD! Also, notice that there is NO LIP SYNCING! Actual instruments are used. Plus, as you know by now, my favorite part of a funk band is heard loud and clear. THE BASS! Oh, and peep those boots. Pirates gotta pirate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1YjmXSyHa8



SLAVE






An Ohio funk band.
Phew! Those then and now photos. I think they have more 'tude now then back in the day. Those shades and those expressions. Front man Steve Arrington, known for using the electric trumpet, broke out on his own in 1982 to form Steve Arrington's Hall of Fame to become a successful solo act. Along with Nobody Can Be You but You, his biggest, infectious hit was Weak at the Knees. And yes. That song was a smash waaaaaay before Straight Outta Compton used it.

Sadly, the guy who played BASS (Mark Adams) was murdered in 2011 (sniff!) just as the band was pushing for a big comeback. Also, another member, guitarist Mark "Drac" Hicks died the same year. Otherwise, through numerous comings, goings, regroupings and disputes, the group has stayed together and still performs. Their immortal hits are Just a Touch of Love, Slide, and Watching You. Again, musicianship, no lip syncing and actual instruments. Listen some more

Good god. I used to sneak and watch all these acts on the old Don Kirschner's Rock Concert or Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack when I was a precocious kid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3ZdRU8iiw0 - Just a Touch of Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6z-zRKA-Os - Slide

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOVFbLs3EFE - Watching You




Steve Arrington
then


now


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nfrQuKZ1UQ  - Weak at the Knees

Listen. Hear. Feel this music. It gets in your being. I could move my body to this instead of standing in one spot looking too cool to crease my dress.

Don't mind me.

I gotta go dance. Bye. Happy 4th!