Goodbye Mr. T

Posted in Dancing about architecture on November 14th, 2015 by bill

In a reversal of the usual situation, Allen Toussaint is in the foreground here, with Dr. John in the background.

We lost one of the greats this week: Allen Toussaint, legendary New Orleans songwriter/producer/pianist and all-around musical genius, who dropped dead of a heart attack shortly after finishing a show in Madrid.

Toussaint was not exactly a household name; he mostly stayed in the background, I think by design. But his influence on American popular music was broad and deep. He recorded with everyone from Fats Domino to Elvis Costello, Etta James to Dr. John, The Meters to Paul McCartney. All his work – with the possible exception of that Wings album – shared a common vibe; not just funky and groovy, but soulful and positive and uplifting. In short, some of the best music ever made by humans.

Many of us came to know him through his work with Lee Dorsey, which the kind of stuff you know even if you don’t know you know it. Toussaint and Dorsey recorded “Yes We Can Can,” which later became a big hit for the Pointer Sisters; “Workin’ in a Coal Mine,” which I came to know first in Devo’s cover version; and of course “Everything I Do Gonh be Funky,” famously referenced by the Beastie Boys in “Sure Shot.”

I don’t know if everything Mr. Toussaint did in his life was funky, but his average was surely among the highest out there. The world will be measurably less funky without him.

(I’ve only scratched the surface here; for a deeper dive, I recommend this article by Mike Powell.)

It Is Happening Again

Posted in Golden (State) Years on November 6th, 2015 by bill

'Shoot it again, Steph.'

Exactly one year ago, I was writing a breathless encomium to the undefeated Golden State Warriors, who were coming off a big win against the detested LA Clippers. Well…(cue the giant)…it is happening again.

If anything, this year’s Dubs have been better than last year’s. The Clips game was their first close contest; before that their average margin of victory had been 25 points, including a 50-point obliteration of the once-feared Memphis Grizzlies. Steph Curry has somehow found a way to take his already stratospheric game up to yet another level, dismembering defenses with an ease that borders on contempt. And all this has been happening without coach Steve Kerr, who is still sidelined by complications from offseason back surgery. Interim coach Luke Walton is 5-0, and with no disrespect to young Mr. Walton, I’m pretty sure that I would also be undefeated if they’d given me the job.

Once again I must remind myself that we’re only five games into the season. It’s a long hard road and so on and so forth. All the more reason to take a moment to savor the sweetness of being a fan of a team that is playing intergalactic basketball right now. Can they possibly keep it up all season? Well, consider that Andrew Bogut hasn’t played a single minute…that Klay Thompson’s shot has been MIA so far…and that Harrison Barnes has been inconsistent. In other words, the Warriors could be better. I wouldn’t bet against them.