America Or Trump. What can Carl and Tom think about shooting a guy seven times in the back, as his little children look on? About a 17-year-old vigilante who murders two innocent people? About murdering journalists? Poisoning opposition leaders? About declaring — in advance — an election will be legitimate only if you win? Isn’t that what dictators do (except not generally out loud)? About calling our soldiers “losers” and our fallen soldiers “suckers”? About calling “the Russia thing” a hoax and “the greatest witch hunt in history” when even every Republican Senator on the Intelligence Committee reports that it was real, and the FBI and Mueller investigations justified? About pulling back the CDC forward deployment from China that could have kept the pandemic from going global and ignoring urgent warnings in January, February, and March? America Or Trump. Watch. Volunteer. Contribute. Recruit poll workers.
I met Chester Higgins in 1967, when he was taking time off from Tuskegee to spend a few months working at Harvard. Long story. Brimming with enthusiasm, talking a mile a minute . . . what path would this product of a rural Alabama town, population 800, take?
Here we are a few years later.
“Hey Andy,” he writes. “Allow me to bring to your attention my earliest work in the Black Arts Movement as chief photographer for PBS’s weekly ‘SOUL’ that ran from 1968 to 1973. Last week, the 2018 documentary made about ‘SOUL’ was written up in The New York Times — and was WNYC’s featured ‘Doc of the Week.‘”
Mr. Soul can be streamed here for another few days. Click on “screenings” to select a Cinema Partner to support and watch.
One such partner, AFI Silver Theater, writes:
Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was MR. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip ensures the Revolution will be televised, with “SOUL!,” America’s first “Black Tonight Show.” From 1968 to 1973, the public-television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic, openly gay producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and a bevy of great archival clips, MR. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate.
Featuring rare live performances and interviews from the legendary Al Green, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, The Last Poets, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Ashford & Simpson, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Billy Preston, Black Ivory, The Delfonics, Bill Withers, Sonia Sanchez, Wilson Pickett, Odetta, Merry Clayton, Mandrill, Kool & the Gang, Toni Morrison, Kathleen Cleaver, Betty Shabazz, Stokely Carmichael, Mrs. Georgia Jackson, George Faison, Patti LaBelle, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and many more.
Chester and I used to be in touch more often, but when I called to thank him, he remembered that summer even better than I do.
“Remember when you tried to paint me white?” he asked.
“When I what????”
That’s something I would have remembered.
“Mr. Burke recruited you and me and Max and Sean to help paint his house. And you were up on a ladder with a roller — ”
“I was up on the what?”
“This definitely doesn’t sound like me. I am not a ladder guy. I am not a handy guy — ”
“Clearly. But you were up there, and you had way too much paint on the roller, and some of it dripped down on me, and I said, ‘What are you doing?! Are you trying to paint me white???”
And then he went off to be a staff photographer for the New York Times for forty years; have some kids and grandkids; headline a slew of exhibits and publich some books.
There’s nothing like the friends you made when you were 20 and still have today.
“The Princess Bride” is, of course, one of the ten greatest movies of all time (true love! pirates! rodents of unusual size!). Here, now, our chance for a reunion with the cast — a script read followed by a Q&A — to help win Wisconsin. Click here for the invite: 7pm EDT September 13. I, for one, can’t wait.
Remember air travel?
And separately — check this out. A six-passenger vehicle that could get the same gas mileage as your SUV, only fly. (Can your SUV do that?) At 460mph! (Again, I ask you.) From Miami to Seattle non-stop! With plenty of room to stand up, if you’re a woman or man of sensible height. At a projected operating cost of $328 an hour — one-sixth that of today’s private jets. So, still not for routine economy travel; but for those who currently fly full fare? Or first class? Or simply to reduce the carbon footprint of current private jet travel by 80%?
Quote of the Day
Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn't have it and thought of other things if you did.~James Baldwin
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