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.

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Greg Baker