"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

It’s funny how things work. A couple of years ago I had a brief correspondence with Sadat X, one of my favorite all-time emcees, who was serving a stint in Rikers on a gun possession charge. I sent him my Curt Flood book, The Courting of Marcus Dupree and dozens of magazine articles. We exchanged a half-dozen letters. Though we didn’t keep in touch when he got out it was a cool connection.

This week a writing assignment came up and I had a need to get in touch with Sadat. I asked a friend who owns a record shop who knows Lord Finesse (a regular customer) who is good friends with X. Finesse came in to buy records today, gave my man Sadat’s number which was then e-mailed to me.

I got home this evening and called X. “Yo man, of course I remember you,” he said. “You just caught me bugging out over here, it’s all over the news and the Internet: Michael Jackson is dead.”

And that’s how I heard the news, just hours after the sad report that Farrah Fawcett died. I wasn’t jolted but not shocked. Michael Jackson was the biggest pop idol of my youth; he did not live life like he wanted to grow old. It’s almost as if he committed a long, public suicide for years. It was painful and absurd. He was seminal, an icon, a wonderful entertainer who was so deeply disturbed that he became a freak show. I felt even worse for Fawcett who has been sick for a long time. Still, they are both out of pain, and that has to count for something.


Sadat was great with me and pleased to help. When we finished talking, I called a bunch of people to talk about Michael and then went walked down to Broadway and 233, across the street from the I-HOP, to the Uptown Sports Complex, which is owned by a high school pal of one of Bronx Banter’s own–Dimelo. Small World, man. I hung out around the cages and took-in the place, the clanking sound of bats hitting balls echoing around me. The Yankee game was on the flat screen TV. I missed Alex Rodriguez’s first inning jack, but caught his RBI base hit in the third, and saw the Yanks jump out to a big lead. I also stayed long enough to see Andy Pettitte cough most of it away.

When I left, I popped up the block, across the Major Deegan and checked out a Kingsbridge Little League under the lights. Then, on my way home, I followed the game on my blackberry. I refreshed the gameday page every 15 seconds, and passed by a bar on 238th street when Rodriguez drove in two more runs with a bases loaded single. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough was playing on the stereo. It was hot and muggy but a shiver ran down my spine.

The Yanks held on and won a barn-burner, 11-7, taking the series and returning to New York on a high note. A nice win on a mournful summer night.

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1 tahawus   ~  Jun 25, 2009 11:59 pm


I don't know you but I love the way you write and what you write about. Reading your posts inform me in many ways and I'm already looking forward to the reading the Marcus Dupree book. Thanks.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 26, 2009 12:16 am

I know all those places you talk of, except the sports place... I'll have to check it out soon.

I'm going to turn off the TV and the radio and maybe even the internet for a little while. What follows all this will not be humanity at it's best. But before I go, I will relate something I said somewhere else:

"To put things in proper perspective, there are far worse things that have happened to me, you and all of us personally and as a community; as a fan or as a citizen, as family or as a friend. But it still hurts when you hear about these things, no matter what, and it still leaves a bad feeling to linger on that very day and for days to come.

That's what I meant about wanting to hear from my friends instead of hearing about them. Little or big, a word or two makes the day go a little faster.

See you guys soon. >;)

3 RagingTartabull   ~  Jun 26, 2009 12:23 am

well done Alex

I kept coming back to two thoughts tonight: the first was that I'm too young to remember when Elvis died, but I feel like MUST have been what it was like. Not just the sudden death of a cultural icon, but the public mourning being not so much for the man who was gone but for the idea of him being lost. When Elvis died people weren't mourning a fat guy in a jumpsuit, they we're mourning a moment in time in their lives that they had clung to since it ended and they knew wasn't ever coming back. That's whats happening now I think.

The moonwalk, staying up past your bedtime because the "Black or White" video was premiering after The Simpsons and not wanting to be the only kid at school the next day who had missed it, the glove, Little Michael with Tito and Jermaine, and Marlon and Jackie...it's all gone.

The second thing I kept coming back to was that this was the end of one of the last true pop culture icons we're ever going to see. We'll never again in our lifetimes see an entertainer reach the level of fame that people like MJ or '80's-'90's-era Madonna or even Jordan did. The world is too small a place for that now...24 hour newscycles, the internet, tabloids...there's no mystery anymore. That's probably a good thing actually, but it's still bittersweet.

this post made me miss the old hood (even though I didn't move all that far away)..."Don't Stop" was a late night fixture at Fenwicks during college

4 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 12:28 am

[1,2,3] Great job you guys, wonderful comments.

Tartabull, I remember dacing to "Don't Stop..." with my older sisters when I was 5 years old..crystal clear memory, even my 60 yr old aunt liked that song back then..

5 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:02 am

[4] OT - i bought the Mouzon Funky Snakefoot today, at your behest. not looking forward to the vocals, but i'm glad to get it and hear it. not sure when it'll arrive in the mail.

you familiar w/ Jeremy Steig? i wasn't. avant-garde flutist on BN, 1970. i bought it cheap, for the "collection", and i'm pleasantly surprised! some out shit on it. really nice and easy to listen to, also (i know that prolly sounds like an oxymoron). Eddie Gomez and Don Alias, round out the trio. can't go wrong!

btw, i have multiple posts up at the end of tonight's game thread. warning: they're loooooong-winded. you'll have that...

i'm sure it won't come to anyone's surprise here, but i LOVED Farrah Fawcett, as a kid growing up. she was my 2nd crush ever! Stevie Nicks was 1st... : )

6 PJ   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:10 am

"Oh baby, give me one more chance, to show you that I love you. Won't you please let me back in your heart."

"I want you back!"

That's what keeps playing in my mind over and over.

Michael finally got that chance. What a tragedy just his spirit can see that manifest itself with everyone left behind on Earth, who now must be satisfied only with memories.

"You know they got a Hell of a band"...

7 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:14 am

let's just hope my little friend that i met tonight - and wrote about at the end of the game thread - does NOT join Jacko and Farrah.

8 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:20 am

[7] Man, just read your posts from the game thread..you're a real star, that kid will never forget getting that ball! Will you keep in touch with them? Having a little one myself..I can't imagine any worse horror than him being ill...

Sounds like overall you had an amazing game experience! One day (maybe in the offseason) I'll put up a long post about attending a game here.

Slow friday, had some NIgerian Juju guitar & Talking Drum on the iPod, it suits the summer heat that just arrived!

9 yankee23   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:21 am

In Baltimore it was perfectly cool out tonight, just a beautiful summer evening. I had a few errands to run, but decided to take the long way so I could keep the windows down and enjoy the weather. The local hip-hop station, 92Q was playing everything Michael, even some remixes of classics. But what really made this moment sink in was that every time I pulled up next to another car with the windows down and the music up, it was inevitably MJ spilling out into the night.

I know that for me, this will always be remembered as the summer Michael Jackson died.

It's not really important that his career petered out or that he turned into a rather ridiculous spectacle, but just how many people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond all grew up listening to him. The Michael we first heard is the one who matters, even if he's been gone for a while already. I think many held out hope that he would be back, that he was just holding out on us until the next great song.

Seemingly at every turn in the supermarket and bookstore tonight I heard stories, always following the same basic pattern: "Oh, when I was , I listened to over and over--I wore that thing out!"

"...and when the groove is dead and gone, yeah,
you know that love survives so we can rock forever on..."

10 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:26 am

[8] thanks for reading, buddy! i hope the others see the posts, also - even though that thread is dead.

well, i sure hope to keep in touch with that family! but it isn't up to me. the last thing i wanted to do, was burden them with feeling that they had to contact me - pretty much a complete stranger - with such deep and personal issues, simply 'coz i gave the kid a ball.

but the mom seemed eager to keep me apprised of the situation. she's been keeping sooo much in the last few days and hadn't slept. it was cathartic for her to talk to me about it and not get too emotional. i gave her my card and she has the option of texting and/or emailing me. i hope to hear from her next week, and i sure hope it's GREAT news!!!

Talking Drum - is that with David Garibaldi?! i LOVE that guy. complete freaking genius and i DON'T throw that word around lightly...

11 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:44 am

[9] Oh man, I can picture that scene perfectly..isn't it crazy to think that 10,000 miles away people here are having the exact same conversations?? A couple local guys here told me they remember getting Thiller on vinyl when they were in their early teens..as you said, for all the crap that came later, there was no one bigger in the 80s..

12 Bobtaco   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:47 am

"He was Norma Desmond, but played larger; he was his own Captain Ahab, seeking to find and murder himself. But goddamnit, he was brilliant too, a nuclear force of music, and no matter how his own soul failed him, that much cannot be denied. Hearing his young voice once again, touching each note flawlessly and effortlessly and with such weight, is nearly shocking."


13 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:47 am

[10] oops, I didn't mean to capitalize that, I just meant an album featuring Juju style guitar & talking drum..but will check out the Garibaldi on your recommendation!

oh, check out this clip, am going to see him play here in town on July 5th, local based organ player from Philly, really funky! http://tinyurl.com/nlls27

14 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:49 am

[13] oh, cool. Garibaldi was the original drummer with Tower of Power.

15 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:50 am

[14] Nice! Tower of Power play here almost every year at the Blue Note, at nearly $100 a ticket..awesome band but that's too steep for me to go to one gig..unless it's Keith Jarrett :)

16 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:56 am

[15] i saw them in Mexico, on the beach, for FREE a year and a half ago! : ) in fact, i saw 'em twice, since i watched the soundcheck during the day, which essentially was the entire show. unfortunately, Garibaldi wasn't on that one gig, for some reason. i'm still disappointed.

as much as i love old ToP, it's definitely NOT worth $100. watch a dvd, or better yet, just spin In The Slot from 1975! : )

this Jeremy Steig disc is freaking great! who knew...

17 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:02 am

[16] Will have to check out some previous concert footage, YouTube ahoy!

Jeremy Steig..I only know him from a BN compliation disk of famous samples, in his case by the Beastie Boys..but as you know, you can't go wrong with almost anything from BN up to the late 70s!.

18 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:05 am

[17] i'm not a big fan of a lot of the 70's material. i'm branching out more recently and am finding hits & misses. this is definitely a HIT! i'm hoping the alphonze mouzon is, as well. that one's on you, my friend! ; )

some of the BN material gets a bit iffy around '68/'69 and definitely takes a left turn by the decade change. just like there's hits/misses, in the mid-80's, when the label came back into being...

19 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:06 am

Check this out http://tinyurl.com/kre7ao
Can you believe they pay Steve Lyons to "analyze" baseball??? Almost makes me think this is fake..

20 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:09 am

i'm just starting to read the game thread. i remember that Cody shot early on. i thought it was totally foul. least it looked that way from where i was sitting. sounds like it was clearly fair. perhaps i was wrong on the botched popup, also...

21 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:10 am

[18] I only vouch for "Funky Snakefoot", nothing with vocals on it! :)

man, 3pm here and really quiet at the office..looking forward to a beer after work and some jazz at home this evening. Recently been trying to get my son to dance to Charles Mingus with me, but he prefers "Jimmy crack-corn and I don't care..." on a kids cd..but the jazz will sink in!

22 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:22 am

[21] my fave Mingus is: Let My Children Hear Music. with that title, he HAS to listen to it! : )

ah well, i'll get the Mouzon and see. it's just another BN for my collection! i'm sure there's some good drumming on there. but knowing me, i'll have to go buy the other Mouzon that's on BN. : ~

i hope to sleep well tonight. didn't at all last night. if i do, i've gotta chart a ton of tunes tomorrow for work and then practice. i get all that done and i'll "reward" myself with beer! ah, who the hell am i kidding - i'm drinkin' tomorrow, no matter what!!! : )

23 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 26, 2009 2:51 am

[22] If there's a bad Mingus album out there, I have never heard it..

Have a good one man, chat again next week. Go Yanks!!

24 RIYank   ~  Jun 26, 2009 6:57 am

I keep thinking it was MJ the little kid, the prodigy, who died. Well, I guess it was. But now that he's dead I'm going to have trouble thinking of him as a 50 year old.

Thelarmis, your deed was a mitzvah. I know Ms. Oct will understand!

25 The Mick536   ~  Jun 26, 2009 8:39 am

Not a tear for Jackson. No water for any of them since Lennon. Sat on the bed at the Imagine exhibit in Montreal. Sharon sat at the piano. As an adult, Micheal gave me the shakes. He won't open for Mingus when he gets to wherever he is going. No sure whom I would like to hear speak about him more, Lisa Marie or Liz. He did have a stable of friends, didn't he. Last time he was original was in the early 80's. That is a long time sitting on laurels. I saw Jackie Wilson and James Brown in the 60's. Thought Michael stole their acts, ablbeit and combined them. Used to take the train from Stamford to see Murray the K's show. Lonely teardrops, if any, for MJ.

26 Patrick   ~  Jun 26, 2009 10:47 am

Nice post, Alex.

27 The Hawk   ~  Jun 26, 2009 10:52 am

To me, Michael Jackson's life was far sadder than his death. After his most recent rounds of "trouble", I remember telling someone that I wished he would die. I wasn't entirely serious of course, but it was just too much. Luckily he did step way out of the spotlight for a few years and it really was a relief. Constantly hearing about his ****ed up life and seeing his completely horrifying face had become a media burden.

The things that were disturbing about him were disturbing on the surface, but also because they strongly suggested a truly awful inner life, something easily imagined after hearing stories about his youth. It was really a depressing thing to consider, how spectacularly unhappy and twisted this man must have been.

He hadn't made music that breathed in ages. His singing and dancing which were once so wonderful had long ago become somewhat ugly checklists of stylistic tics. Watching MTV's parade of Jackson videos yesterday really made this clearer than ever - contrasting "Jam" with "Beat It", or what have you. (Kriss Kross and Heavy D didn't help the former monstrosity at all, nor did featuring Michael Jordan, who looks like an African-American adonis compared to Michael's manipulated kabuki face - and that was before Jackson got really weird-looking! It's all relative, I suppose.)

A few days ago, for the first time I saw a picture of Michael Jackson's kids. They were obviously not blood relatives of his in any way. Just a completely bizarre sight, and now when I think about those children, and I hope this doesn't come off as callous, I can't help but believe they'll be better off in the long run.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver