The Drop: A Lesson in Gravity

As a crime flick junkie I couldn’t resist a chance to catch another of James Gandolfini’s last performances in The Drop, directed by Michael Roskam and written by crime master Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, The Wire).  Not unlike his performance in Killing Me Softly with Brad Pitt, Gandofini plays the “reverse” Tony Soprano, a local hood who lost it all and is looking to steal a piece back by any means necessary.  But The Drop is definitely Hardy’s movie.  Not only did I dig his Brooklyn accent (he’s Brit), but in a character piece about restraint and predictability it was the strength of both his performance and LeHane’s script that got me through a second act that has a few drags.  I caught it the last day in my local theater but you should definitely rent it or check it out on demand.

Slapboxing with Yeezus

Going past the local playground today I saw some dude who was supposed to be a boxing trainer doing the mitts with some guy that was supposed to be a boxer.  No speed.  No power.  I hadn’t seen a precision session that weak since the Fresh Prince tried to take on Tyson.  For some reason it reminded me that the decade of my 30s seems to have also been the decade of the loudmouth.  Whether it’s Kanye West in a cleavage top trying to get paraplegics to stand or the fact that more Black people know who Wendy Williams is than they do James Baldwin and even when you look at current fashion trends today’s world is all about being loud, even if you’re also wrong. Most of these dudes wouldn’t have made it in the old neighborhood without keeping their shades drawn.  Just a thought.

Geoffrey Holder: Another Classic Transcends

I was saddened to hear about the passing of actor and choreographer Geoffrey Holder.   I wasn’t versed in his entire resume but I first peeped him in the film adaptation of Annie that dropped in ’82, his bellowing laugh in that long series of 7-UP commercials, and later in his unforgettable turn alongside Eddie Murphy in The Hudlin Brothers’ Boomerang.   As one of the only Black kids in the summer program that took us to see Annie it was Holder’s character that got and best held my attention. For me this was where it all started.  But with all art and artists it never really ends.  May his transition be a smooth one.

Good People: Uncle Porter – Elder

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He built half of the house he lives in with his own hands.  At 95, a World War II vet of the Army Corps of Engineers, he still drives and puffs the occasional cigarette.  He grows his own tomatoes and walks where his wheels won’t take him.   It’s the 21st century and he still burns his trash.  I remember when the white hairs on his head was a dark red and when he wore a Kangols instead of ball caps.  But more than anything I’m happy that he’s still here, that he kept the words I wrote for a birthday in a frame, and that he can still laugh at himself.  I’m glad that I took these shots and recorded some of his stories for the lens and mic.   He’s gone from farm boy to living history, and I hope to document as much of the road he’s traveled as I can.

Karriem Riggins: Alone/Together

While folks always remember the hits, it tends to be the “working” producer who has the most longevity in music.  Karriem Riggins is not only a seasoned jazz drummer who has played for folks all over.  He’s also been working with artists like Common, Madlib and Erykah Badu since the turn of the millennium.  Today I’m listening to his Alone/Together compilation.  Check out this well-directed clip “Summer Madness” below: