I’m a Mystic Man
I’m just a Mystic Man
I man don’t
I don’t drink no champagne
No I don’t
And I man don’t
I don’t sniff them cocaine
I man don’t
No I don’t
Don’t take a morphine
I man don’t
I don’t take no heroin
No no no
‘Cause I’m a man of the past
And I’m livin’ in the present
And I’m walking in the future
Stepping in the future
Man of the past
And I’m livin’ the present
And I’m walking in the future
I’m just a mystic man
Got to be a mystic man
I man don’t
Eat up your fried chicken
I man don’t
Eat up them frankfurters
I man don’t
Eat down the hamburger
can’t do that
I man don’t
Drink pink, blue, yellow, green soda
Just a mystic man
Got to be a mystic man
I man don’t
No I don’t
Play fools’ games on Saturday
And I man don’t
No I don’t
Congregate on a Sunday
Such a mystic man
Just a mystic man
Just a mystic man
Got to be a mystic man
We can’t count the number of times we’ve wanted to enact vengeance on some inconsiderate audience member whose cell phone goes off during a performance. But, like most people, we just bottle that fury up deep down inside and take it out on the break room vending machine later. Not Kevin Williamson. Last nightthe National Review writer was in attendance at the marvelous new musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 when one theatergoer’s incessant cell phone use finally drove him over the edge… into vigilantism.
Although each table is explicitly told that photography and cell phone use is strictly prohibited during the performance, the people seated around Williamson were, he says, unbearable. “They were carrying on a steady conversation throughout entire show,” Williamson, who also writes a theater column for New Criterion, tells us. “They had been quite loud and obnoxious the entire time. There were two groups, one to the left and one to the right who were being loud and disruptive.”
During intermission, Williamson’s date complained to the theater’s management, but he says he didn’t personally witness the theater managers admonish the disruptive audience members. And once the performance resumed, the woman sitting to Williamson’s right on his bench would not, he says, stop using her cell phone. “It looked like she was Googling or something,” Williamson tells us. “So I leaned over and told her it was distracting and told her to put it away. She responded, ‘So don’t look.’ “
Blood boiling, Williamson says he then asked her, sarcastically, “whether there had been a special exemption for her about not using her phone during the play. She told me to mind my own business, and so I took the phone out of her hands. I meant to throw it out the side door, but it hit some curtains instead. I guess my aim’s not as good as it should be.” Asked if the phone was damaged, Williamson says, “It had to be; I threw it a pretty good distance.”
According to Williamson, the woman then slapped him in the face and, after failing to find her phone, stormed out. Soon the show’s security director asked to “have a word” with Williamson, and they stepped out into the lobby. “I told him I would be happy to leave,” Williamson recalls. “They tried to keep me there. He said the lady was talking about filing charges. So I waited around for a bit, but it seemed to be taking a while. He did try to physically keep me in, and was standing in the door blocking me, telling me I couldn’t leave. I inquired as to whether he was a police officer and I was under arrest, and since I wasn’t, I left.”
A publicist for the production did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But if the cell phone user decides to press charges, Williamson says he’s willing to face her in court. “I doubt that will happen, but if it does, that’ll be fun. If I have to spend a night in jail, I’ll spend a night in jail. I don’t want to suggest I’m Henry David Thoreau protesting the Mexican-American War, but I’ll do a day in jail if I have to.”
Phil Jackson, the former coach and player who won 13 N.B.A. championships.
Everyone wants to know what Phil Jackson is doing.
In the absence of data, they are happy to speculate. The first time I met Jackson, at the end of April, rumor had it that he might become the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Cleveland hired Mike Brown instead.) When we met again, a week later, the rumor was that he was maybe going to be an executive for the Toronto Raptors. While that rumor was still circulating, a new rumor popped up that he had taken a job with the Detroit Pistons. (Later it emerged that he agreed only to help the team, whose owner is a friend, choose its next head coach.) Then a rumor broke that the Brooklyn Nets were after him as a possible coach and/or president and/or part-owner.
My plan was to write a portrait of Phil Jackson after basketball: to capture the full mundanity of his post-N.B.A. existence. It became clear very quickly, however, that such a thing was impossible. There is no Phil Jackson after basketball. Our first meeting was at his favorite diner, an unpretentious, inexpensive place decorated with framed jigsaw puzzles of Norman Rockwell paintings. We chatted for a while about upstate New York, where Jackson used to live, and the rumors about his current job prospects, but before long he was giving me detailed scouting reports of current N.B.A. players, then borrowing my pen so he could diagram a play on his place mat. At our second meal, at the little cafe attached to the upscale grocery store, I asked Jackson — innocently enough, I thought — how the N.B.A. has evolved since he first joined it as a player 46 years ago. He started unfolding his napkin to draw another diagram — whereupon I stopped him, went out to my car and brought back a stack of fresh paper. I expected him to sketch maybe three or four representative schemes: the motion offense of his 1970s Knicks, the running game of the 1980s Showtime Lakers, his 1990s Bulls’ signature triangle offense, the screen-roll plays popular today. Instead, Jackson spent more than an hour and a half drawing, in great and sometimes bewildering detail, what turned out to be more than 20 sketches — a mess of circles and arrows and hash marks that represented, no doubt, an infinitesimal fraction of his total basketball knowledge. He worked, the whole time, with the joyful absorption of someone solving a particularly excellent crossword puzzle. The drawings included the offensive sets of some of his biggest rivals — Jerry Sloan’s Jazz, Rick Adelman’s Kings, Mike D’Antoni’s Suns — as well as such novelties as the Horst Pinholster Pinwheel Offense, an elegant but obscure remnant of the 1950s in which everyone without the ball is sucked into a continuous vortex of motion. Jackson taught me how to get Shaquille O’Neal open in the post when the defense wants to double-team him. He drew Michael Jordan’s final two plays against the Jazz in 1998, including the iconic jump shot that won the Bulls their sixth trophy. In response to a sloppy playoff game he saw on TV the night before, Jackson showed me how to eliminate the possibility of a turnover on an inbounds pass.
Pine River Valley Bank is proud to show the work of Brenda Grajeda and her one woman show “72 degrees and Sunny”
“My desire is to express in the abstract the imagery I see in nature; patterns, surface elements, space and the seasonal shifts of vibrancy”
Claudine Longet: Aspen’s Femme Fatale
By Robert Chalmers
Claudine Longet left France in pursuit of the American dream. She found it as a chanteuse, actress and socialite. Then, in 1976, she was accused of killing her lover, the skiing legend Spider Sabich. But it was the outcome of her trial in the high-living haunt of Hunter S Thompson that really shocked the nation.
Just for a moment I assumed that the journalist sitting at his keyboard in the front office of the Aspen Times had to be joking. Exactly how many aspects of Claudine Longet’s extraordinary life could have passed him by? Her performance as the female lead, opposite Peter Sellers, in Blake Edwards’ 1968 film The Party? The mercilessly derisive song “Claudine”, written about her by the Rolling Stones? Her close friendship with Bobby Kennedy, whose company she was in at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of his shooting, on 5 June 1968?
Ronald Reagan once called Williams’ voice a “national treasure”. (While I was in Aspen in August last year, Williams was in hospital, combating the terminal stages of cancer.) No such claims have ever been made for Longet, although there is a distinctive and oddly haunting quality to her breathy, girlish renditions of songs such as the Beatles’ Here, There And Everywhere and Good Day Sunshine.
Another thing you’d have assumed any Aspenite would be aware of was the moment, on 21 March 1976, when a .22 in Longet’s hand discharged a single bullet from close range, killing her partner, champion skier Spider Sabich, in the luxury chalet they shared on the edge of town.
It’s certainly acceptable – some might say desirable – for a female icon to radiate a sense of recklessness and danger. But in Longet’s case, the events of that Sunday afternoon shifted the emphasis so firmly from femme to fatale that, even now, many have not forgiven her.
“She is still widely detested in Aspen,” one source told me.
Vladimir “Spider” Sabich had won the slalom at the World Cup in 1968 and the US championships in 1971 and 1972, but his huge popularity transcended the world of professional skiing. When he was killed, aged 31, the handsome Sabich was one of America’s most widely venerated sporting heroes. He was the model for fellow Californian Robert Redford’s character in Michael Ritchie’s 1969 film Downhill Racer and endorsed a wide range of products, from cosmetics to coffee. His shooting remains the most incredible story that the Aspen Times has carried in the modern era, even if you include the 2005 suicide of the writer Hunter S Thompson in nearby Woody Creek: that last death, very sadly, was more predictable. Only a serious back injury sustained when he was approaching the peak of his career (fearlessness was perceived to be his greatest weakness) prevented Sabich from becoming one of the best-known American sporting legends of all time. Known for his charm, generosity and humour, the Californian effortlessly excelled in every area of life that most young American men openly aspired to, with the significant exception of monogamy.
But it wasn’t her role in Sabich’s violent death that secured Longet’s unique place in the history of American justice, so much as her trial and subsequent punishment. Despite admitting that she was holding the gun when it killed Sabich in his bathroom, Longet, who said the weapon went off by accident, was charged not with homicide but with reckless manslaughter. She would eventually be sentenced to 30 days in Aspen’s Pitkin County Jail, a term to commence on a date of her own choosing. Beforesentencing, her defence co-attorney Ronald Austin had reportedly said that he hoped Longet would escape with a fine.
One reliable Aspen source told me that, shortly after Sabich’s death, an acquaintance had been obliged to help dissuade a third party from taking out a contract on Longet.
There are certain traumas so intense that they can permeate the DNA of a place or an institution, altering and defining the way it is perceived for decades to come, and affecting future generations whose awareness of the event may be vague or nonexistent. It might sound curious to compare the Longet shooting to the Munich air crash, and yet, just as that latter tragedy helped galvanise the ambition, world following and European focus of Manchester United, so the legacy of the Longet affair had significant and enduring consequences for Aspen. The case was crucial to the development of the Colorado town’s now famous reputation as a place that polices itself – not by orthodox means, but through liberal, consensual tolerance, a policy mainly orchestrated by its world-famous, recently retired sheriff, Bob Braudis. As a young deputy back in 1977, Braudis had the job of taking Longet her breakfast in jail.
April 30, 2013 Taj Mahal’s influences are drawn from many places around the world, from California to Africa to the Pacific Islands. But in this archival Mountain Stage performance from 1995, he pays tribute to his roots with a lively set of blues and boogie songs.
Little Freddie King at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 2013, photographed by Skip Bolen.
The 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival wraps up Monday. This weekend and last, 12 stages have mixed such marquee names as Fleetwood Mac, Phoenix and Los Lobos with dozens of local bluesmen, soul belters and Cajun fiddle players. Some of the most iconic images of New Orleans musicians have come from Jazz Fest — thanks to photographers who jumble together at the apron of the stage, vying for the best shots.
Skip Bolen is one of them. For him, a day at Jazz Fest starts with three vital tools: iced coffee, a yellow highlighter and the festival schedule.
“We’ve got The Nevilles, Diane Reeves, Kermit Ruffins; B.B. King I definitely want to see,” Bolen says, skimming the day’s events. “Dave Matthews, he’s kind of a boring artist to photograph — [but] if I photograph him I know I’ll make money.”
And that’s how Bolen makes a living: balancing local favorites with venerable elders and, yes, the money shots that will sell. Bolen works for Getty Images, which supplies pictures to news outlets around the world. He’s from Lafayette, La., and has lived in New Orleans for decades. He loves music, but on the job he’s not listening so much as looking.
“Those blues musicians are so dapper,” Bolen says. “They’re dressed in their suits even on the hottest day of the year. They’re just pouring sweat and they’re a lot of fun to photograph.”
The festival is held at the Fair Grounds Race Course, a New Orleans’ horse track — which is kind of appropriate for the way Bolen works, dashing from one show to another. (He calls that part of the gig his “free gym membership.”)
Before the age of computers and vinyl printers, sign painters worked by hand to illustrate storefronts, billboards and banners. Local craftsmen often developed a signature style that could distinguish a neighborhood, or even a city.
But technology made creating signs less expensive — and less expressive. Sign Painters, a new book and documentary written and directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, focuses on dozens of artists who are keeping the art alive.
Before Macon began working on the film, he said never thought much about sign painting.
The Onion published an essay recently called “Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.”The piece was satire, but it’s how many of us respond to the question Mason Currey raises in his entertaining new book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. “How do you do meaningful creative work,” he wonders, “while also earning a living?”
A product of the author’s now-defunct blog, Daily Routines, Daily Rituals assembles the regimens of 161 assorted creative geniuses into a lean, engaging volume. Its brief entries humanize legends like Hemingway and Picasso, and shed light on the working lives of less popular contemporary geniuses, like painter Gerhard Richter, choreographer Twyla Tharp and illustrator Maira Kalman.
The book makes one thing abundantly clear: There’s no such thing as the way to create good work, but all greats have their way. And some of those ways are spectacularly weird.
Louis Armstrong smoked pot (“gage,” as he called it) almost daily and couldn’t go to sleep until he had taken his dose of a “potent herbal laxative” called Swiss Kriss. “Armstrong believed so strongly in its curative powers that he recommended it to all his friends,” Currey writes, “and even had a card printed up with a photo of himself sitting on a toilet, above the caption ‘Leave It All Behind Ya.’ “
Researchers say van Gogh painted the walls in his 1888 picture “The Bedroom” violet, not blue.
AMSTERDAM — “The Bedroom,” Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 painting, with its honey-yellow bed pressed into the corner of a cozy sky-blue room, is instantly recognizable to art lovers, with his signature contrasting hues. But does our experience of this painting change upon learning that van Gogh had originally depicted those walls in violet, not blue, or that he was less a painter wrestling with his demons and more of a deliberate, goal-oriented artist?
These questions are raised by a new analysis, eight years in the making, of hundreds of van Gogh’s canvases as well as his palette, pigments, letters and notebooks by scientists at Shell, the oil company, in collaboration with the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency and curators at the newly renovated Van Gogh Museum here, which owns the world’s largest collection of works by that Dutch Post Impressionist.
The research did not lead to “earth-shattering new insights” that rewrite van Gogh’s life story, said the director of the Van Gogh Museum, Axel Rüger, but it could shift the understanding of van Gogh’s temperament and personality. The results of that study will be revealed in an exhibition, “Van Gogh at Work,” which opens on Wednesday and features about 200 paintings and drawings, 150 of them by van Gogh and others by contemporaries, including Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard.
“You discover more clearly that van Gogh was a very methodical artist, which runs counter to the general myth that he was a manic, possibly slightly deranged man who just spontaneously threw paint at the canvas,” Mr. Rüger said. “He was actually someone who knew very well about the properties of the materials he used, how to use them, and also he created very deliberate compositions. In that sense it’s a major insight in that it gives us a better notion of van Gogh the artist. He was very goal-oriented.”
13 Cartoon Portraits of Legendary Blues Artists So good, you’d think illustrator William Stout made a deal with the devil. —Michael Mechanic
Before I read the author’s note, there was something that confused me about William Stout’s great new book, Legends of the Blues, due out May 7 from Abrams ComicArts (with an intro by music journalist Ed Leimbacher). Where were Memphis Minnie, Mississippi John Hurt, and Reverend Gary Davis, three of my personal faves? How could he overlook them? Also, why did the artwork feel so familiar, yet so different from other stuff I’d seen from Stout—an acclaimed comics, fantasy, and pop-culture artist and illustrator whose work you’ve undoubtedly seen. And then it hit me: Robert Crumb! This, as it turned out, was the answer to both questions.
Way back when, cartoonist Crumb, a blues and old-time music freak who has drawn his share of artists and album art (you can view some of them here along with our Crumb interview), created a series of 36 Heroes of the Blues trading cards. They included, among others, Memphis Minnie and John Hurt; Stout, an avid blues fan, had loved Crumb’s cards and didn’t want to replicate them. But the others were fair game. Rhino Records founder Richard Foos, a friend of Stout’s, ended up licensing Crumb’s portraits for a series of greatest hits CDs for Shout! Factory. And since Crumb had moved on to other stuff, Foos approached Stout to produce some additional ones in a style similar to Crumb’s.
That’s how it started. But after his assignment was complete, Stout kept it up. He was hooked. While recovering from cancer treatments, he cranked them out, imagining that he would produce a bunch of new trading-card sets. In the end, Denis Kitchen, another friend (and the guy who commissioned Crumb’s original cards) suggested that Stout make them into a book instead.
Legends… profiles a whopping 100 blues artists—many of them you’ll recognize and many you won’t. It’s a must for blues fans or even dabblers—although Stout cautions that purists might be upset by his inclusion of crossover artists. Hey, whatever. The format is simple: Each spread contains the artist’s vital stats; recommended tracks; notable tributes and covers by other artists; and a short, punchy mini-profile of each one. The book comes with a 14-track CD compilation, with some nice gritty old tunes from the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Bukka White, and Rev. Robert Wilkins—I’m listening to it right now!
But the real treat is Stout’s Crumby (sorry) portraits. Colorful, evocative, playful, they pay homage both to the original cards and to the great musicians Stout came to admire. There’s the badass blues guitarist Robert Johnson, said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his chops. Champion Jack Dupree, who made the unlikely leap from pro boxer to pro musician. The highly talented yet modest sideman Papa Charlie McCoy. And Lucille Bogan, notorious for her raunchy lyrics. The Crumb effect runs especially strong with certain portraits—for instance, Slim Harpo, whose tunes were covered by a who’s who of 1960s rock icons. Here’s the Stones doing Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” way back when.
So, okay, I missed those few musicians, but I also learned about plenty of folks I’d never heard of—including a good number of blueswomen. And the poor chap had to crank out 100 portraits. You could hardly ask him to do more. Except that he did so anyway. By the end of Stout’s drawing marathon, he had produced 150 portraits, so maybe a sequel is in the cards. Talk about collecting ‘em all!
Richie Havens, a Brooklyn-born singer who sang gospel as a teenager, began playing folk music in Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s and was the opening act at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, N.J., according to his agent. He was 72 years old.
Havens had a long career as a musician, but if he had done nothing else, his performance at Woodstock would secure his place in American music history. Havens was the first performer to walk onto the stage at the festival; he sat on a stool and performed for nearly two hours — including an improvisation that incorporated the spiritual “Motherless Child,” later called “Freedom.” It became a highlight of the documentary about the festival and introduced him to audiences around the world.
As a black performer, he was a rarity in the folk-dominated Greenwich Village scene. His sandpaper soft voice and percussive guitar playing caught the ear of folk impresario Albert Grossman, who first signed Bob Dylan and helped create Peter, Paul and Mary. Havens released his breakout album, Mixed Bag, in 1967.
Havens went on to act in films and on television, and he continued recording for more than 40 years. He had a Top 20 hit in 1971 with a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” and released his last album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. But it was onstage — with his guitar — that Havens was in his element. He toured constantly and in 2008 told NPR that he never planned his shows beyond the opening and closing songs.
“Many times people have come up to me after and they’d, they’d say, ‘Richie, do you know what you did?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ They’d go, ‘I wrote these songs down for you to sing and you sang ‘em all in a row.’ That’s the kind of communication happens, you know,” Havens said. “It’s like if you let the audience lead, then you are the audience.”
Havens connected with audiences from stages large and small for more than 50 years.
Richie Havens, Folk Icon, Dead at 72
Brooklyn native opened Woodstock in 1969
Richie Havens, who brought an earthy soulfulness to the folk scene of the Sixties and was the first act to hit the stage at Woodstock, died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22. He was 72 and was living in Jersey City, New Jersey. Last month, Havens announced he would no longer be touring due to health issues.
From the beginning, when he played Village folk clubs in the mid-Sixties, Havens stood out due to more than just his imposing height (he was six-and-a-half feet tall) and his ethnicity (African-American in a largely white folk scene). He played his acoustic guitar with an open tuning and in a fervent, rhythmic style, and he sang in a sonorous, gravel-road voice that connected folk, blues and gospel.
Like many of his peers, Havens was a songwriter (he co-wrote one of his best-known songs, “Handsome Johnny,” with actor Lou Gossett Jr.). But Havens also knew a great contemporary song when he heard it, and made his name covering and rearranging songs by Bob Dylan (“Just Like a Woman,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”) and the Beatles(“With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here Comes the Sun”). “Music is the major form of communication,” he told Rolling Stone in 1968. “It’s the commonest vibration, the people’s news broadcast, especially for kids.”