Program Notes 36

You wanna play Xmas with me, buckwheat, I'll play ya some freakin' Xmas.
So it turns out Luke Campbell is a nigger. Jesus Christ -- speaking of which, Jesus was a black man, but no one disses Him (especially this time of year), although the government did back then -- I figured one quick racially reactive column would be enough to tide us through the holidays, take care of that new Ice Cube album and that racist psycho killer on the Long Island Rail Road, and my good friend TW, and -- well, I hope you read last week's coly. Get it out of my system and into yours, peace, ghost. But this week I pick up the daily and there's all the Dade County commissioners (except Bruce Kaplan) calling Mr. Campbell a steenkin' nigger because Kaplan nominated Campbell for a seat on the cultural affairs council. The nastiest idiot on the commission, Natacha Millan, even tried to turn it into an international incident. "It would be a slap against Cubans," Madam Fathead Commissioner grunted. What about the French? What about people in Iceland? Martians? What in the name of Jesus do the people in Cuba have to do with it? This is America. Excuse me commissioners, I meant to say Amerikkka.

They A you know who they are, sadly it's coming down to an us-and-them situation A try to strip Campbell of his rights for making some nasty music. They tar and feather Luke when Bruce Kaplan brings up the notion that it might be a good idea to have an extremely successful self-made businessman with deep roots in the community and a range of involvement in this city's culture sit on the county's cultural affairs council. God, we can't have anyone who's actually competent involved in government. But...but...but -- when Luke Campbell tries to be good and kind and share in the Xmas spirit, you don't hear a goddamn word. The Miami Herald, for one bad example, calls Luke "the foul-rapping lead of Miami's 2 Live Crew." How many errors does that phrase contain? The 2 Live Crew broke up a long time ago, Luke was hardly its "lead." There's two right there.

Late last week Luke issued -- can I say "issued"? -- a three-page statement, which the Herald, of course, published in full (I'm joking, I'm joking). To the chairman of the commission, Art Teele, Luke directed a reminder that "we sat together with Reverend Jesse Jackson after [WEDR's] Jerry Rushin...and I took food to South Dade after Hurricane Andrew and found out that many of the black people were going hungry because they had no transportation to the food banks. I called Jesse Jackson, asked for his help, and chartered a private jet to bring him to Miami.... None of you did this. It was not your time, dedication, or money."

It's interesting that, perhaps because he didn't seek it, Luther Campbell received no publicity for his hurricane heroics. "As [commissioners] battled for camera shots," Campbell states, "I simply backed away and continued my relief efforts. I was there for my community, not for any publicity." Along with his statement, Luke faxed out a list of the two dozen or so worthy causes he supports A from police football games to Cure AIDS Now to food banks and homeless shelters. He is the founder of the Liberty City Optimist Club, for which he recently staged a benefit golf tournament. You read all about it in the Herald -- didn't you?

I wonder how it must feel. Christmas at Luke's House is the name of the album. It's beautiful, gentle stuff, spreading joy not legs, H-Town and U-Mynd and the profound Chris Brinson and the Gospel Music Ministry Choir oozing love and peace, although there is great irony when U-Mynd steps to the mike for a snippet of "White Christmas." Yeah boy, white it is. Merry Malcolm Xmas.

But nobody writes about, or cares about, the good things Luke does, his attempt to say happy holidays with a ho-ho-ho but nary a ho or bitch in sight. Music. And Luke really gets into the Xmas spirit -- all of his label's releases include a mini-catalogue of merchandise for sale by the company.

But, whatever, I can't argue with the almighty county commission. Luke's a nigger, and that's all he is. Crumple his resume and toss it in the trash. Merry fucking Xmas.

Pardon the profanity, excuse the cynicism. A time of joy and giving. Of good not bad, nice not naughty. A time to revisit old friends.

What could be more suitable -- Kreamy 'Lectric Santa plays Xmas eve at Coyote.

One of the world's great percussionists, Master Henry Gibson, is back in South Florida for a while, jamming weekends at the Cardozo with guitarist Arturo Fuerte. Gibson and his wonderful wife, Anne, spent some of their time visiting old friend Curtis Mayfield, who, Master Henry says, recently recorded something with the Isley Brothers. "They wheeled him into the studio," Gibson reports. "Great to see him working again." Over the years Gibson worked with Mayfield on classics such as the Superfly soundtrack. During his travels, Gibson also found a copy of the extremely rare album Master Henry recorded with piano god Oscar Peterson. The Gibsons also visited Sweden, of course, where Henry's congas provided the soundtrack -- just percussion -- for a movie, Black and White in Color, being shot by the Swedish Film Institute for submission at Cannes. Gibson also acts in the film, which he says is about "white people, hardworking, going on the subway to their jobs every day. I perform in the underground where the escalators lead to the trains. My character earns his living through donations." A white character turns away from the music, which pursues him to the point of acceptance. "He finds out Carmen is sung by two blacks," Master Henry explains. After Cannes the film will be distributed commercially with a special screening planned at Dade County Commission headquarters.

Up at Rock Solid the day after Xmas you get Resurrection, Raped Ape, and Demonomacy, the last of whom are currently recording their new demo at Tapeworm Studios. For Tapeworm info, call 633-6940.

Noodles has joined the Baboons, but she won't be able to play their next gig, tonight (Wednesday) at Squeeze. I hear Ferny from I Don't Know might sit in (on clarinet). The "Celebration of Spirituality" show also features Basketcase.

In Dade County tonight, two Browbands, two great bands, Vesper Sparrow and Black Janet, play at the Talkhouse.

Butthorns of the South Florida Rock Awards: Me, for not going (I literally fell asleep -- exhaustion is my paycheck) and the staff at Plus Five. After hearing rumors the next day (this is what they pay me for), I phoned up Rob Elba, singer for one of the Southeast's best live bands, the Holy Terrors, and elicited this tale: "During our set I mentioned that we were playing at the Zoo the next night, which means we can't play here. [Plus Five has an exclusivity rule.] The crowd cheers, whatever. Afterwards, I'm told the owner wants to talk to me. So I go back there, to a backroom, and inside is him and another big guy and a bouncer. I start to walk away. Another bouncer pushes me in, closes the door. They say, 'We're not gonna hurt you.' Then they start yelling at me, 'Who the fuck you think you are?' and 'This is not a political thing.' I told 'em they take it too seriously. They say, 'Your band's shit.' I say, 'You guys really want to beat the crap out of me, don't you?' They said you and the rest of your band get the fuck out of here right now." Remember the old you-can't-get-out-if-you-don't-go-in rule.

Butthorn of the week: MoJazz Cafe and any other clubs using the ol' slip-'em-a-bill trick. This week's nomination comes from two people who dropped by MoJazz late the other night to hear some music. They ordered two fancy coffees. The bill came to $17. They thought there might be some mistake. Yeah, theirs. They failed to notice the table stand that alerts especially attentive customers to the fact it costs five bucks to sit at a table. You'd think waitstaff might mention this hidden charge to nonregulars. Oh, by the way, our spies add, the music was great.

The media circus: I don't know, stocking stuffers? What to do with printed words. scrape #10 is out, still free, looking good with great new graphics (as Greg Brown might sing) and glossy cover. It includes a fantastic avant-interview with Stiff of Tampa's Stiff Pole Records. If you're wasting your time reading this lame-brain excuse for a column, you damn sure should be reading scrape. And now there's tip -- publications just don't capitalize their names any more, I guess -- which mixes rap and dance and all kinds of stuff, including in the December ish a Nil Lara profile (profiling Nil Lara, what an idea!). And on the national tip, a mega rag called Grand Royal that mixes rap and b-ball and Bruce Lee -- a lot like this column I suppose but bigger and better.

Pet corner: First, may I suggest the perfect Xmas gift: spaying and neutering of all companion animals. And second, may I offer my condolences to Kevin Cornish upon the loss of his friend, Buddy. Buddy was just a little lost kitten who wandered into Washington Square one night about two and a half years ago. Kevin did what any decent human would do -- he took the feline home. Ten days ago Buddy fell off the eighth-floor balcony. Rushed to the vet, Buddy survived a full day. "My hope was renewed," Cornish says. "I thought he might pull through." The next morning the vet called with the bad news. I remember Blondie, the most intellectually gifted and sweetly loving cat I ever knew. She died on the vet's table too, of some horrible ailment that made her suffer for no good reason. And Kimba, a long-ago companion who taught me about philosophy and magic A he used to vanish from our second-floor apartment. We could never figure out how, so one day I asked him. The big cat jumped up on the balcony railing, walked to the wall between units, twisted around it, tightroped a few more feet of railing, sprung high into the air, soared up and out about twenty feet, and crashlanded in a nearby tree, spreading his arms and legs so as to be caught in the branches. Then he shimmied down. When we fed the strays people dumped at the apartment complex, big Kimba would sit there in the parking lot by the Dumpster and make sure the smaller of the strays got a turn at the food. A regular catcher in the rye. Found him one morning in the front yard, dried blood trailed from his mouth, he died violently, cold and alone. Have a merry fucking Xmas one and all.

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