Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Netflix brought forth "Wattstax" on Friday, a documentary about the 1972 Watts Summer Festival-- and about the state of Black America that year, at the tail end of the 60's. Interesting stuff. Among other thoughts I had as I watched: if you had to pick the best of American culture to save, a lot of people would be surprised by how much that is really worthwhile is black culture. (What White America would I save? An interesting question for another day, but I suppose it'd would come down to American literature-- from Washington Irving to Don DeLillo that deserves to be pulled from the steam wreckage.) Once you control for race, it is surprising how conservative a lot of the values of Black America are. Of course, you can't control for race. No matter what they are doing, Black America looks like they are having more fun at it than White America. I'd have rather been at the Watts Summer Festival than Woodstock. I wish I could get away with the style that Black America carries off so gracefully-- Rufus Thomas, in his pink Bermuda shorts suit-- which had a cape!-- asks the crowd, "Am I clean?" Yeah, he was clean. The quality of the musicianship at this show establishes for me, once and for all, that it is much hard for white guys to rock, let alone swing, or groove. These cats make the Jefferson Airplane, to pick an arbitrary unfair example, look like somebody's sixth grade band recital. Richard Prior was always brilliant, (this was his first movie appearance)and he was always at his most brilliant when he was at his most cutting. Sometimes you don't know if you are laughing or gasping. I've cast a lot of votes that I proud of, but seeing Jessie Jackson in full dashiki and Oscar Gamble afro reminded me of how good I felt about supporting him. Until our current president you could fairly say that the biggest challenges the United States faced would be a long way towards resolved once the race issue was honestly addressed and resolved, and Jessie Jackson has been the only presidential candidate in my lifetime who has said that. There is no way that any of the current candidates have ever enjoyed themselves as much as Jessie is enjoying himself introducing Isaac Hayes, and there is no way that any of them could have delivered the invocation that he did to open the show. Speaking of Isaac Hayes, I think I've decided that I want the intro to the "Theme from Shaft" played from now on whenever I am introduced at a conference. That'd be baaaad.

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