Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PC Run Amok

Emmett Till, 14 years old and black, was murdered in the Mississippi Delta town of Money 58 years ago for whistling his appreciation of a pretty white woman. The outrage — not just the murder, but the speedy acquittal at trial, by a jury of twelve white men, of the obviously guilty murderers — helped ignite the civil-rights movement. You would think that the Emmett Till story would be just the kind of thing to teach to American kids during Black History Month. A Los Angeles charter-school teacher named Marisol Alba thought so, and got her students to work up a presentation on the Emmett Till case. The administrators at the school quashed her presentation and reprimanded her. When she protested, they fired her, along with a colleague who had voiced support. Emmett Till’s wolf whistle, you see, betrayed him as a sexual harasser. We can’t celebrate that, can we? One parent who complained to the school about the firing of Ms. Alba said that the school principal used the term “rude” to describe Emmett Till’s actions. That, of course, was also the opinion of the lad’s murderers. Like the worm Ouroboros, political correctness consumes its own tail.

Posted on the old blog 4/5/2007.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Song of the Week: I Shot the Sheriff

Continuing with January's theme of Eric Clapton, here's Slowhand playing "I Shot the Sheriff" at the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival.  This version has a bit more Bob Marley's reggae influence than you typically hear from Clapton's iterations of this song.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Song of the Week: Tales of Brave Ulysses

This week we go with my favorite Cream tune.  OK, one of my favorites.  OK, so pretty much all their songs rock.  I don't know if it's the psychedelic lyrics or the driving bass line, but I always loved this one.

"Tales of Brave Ulysses"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Beast of Burden by, Ray Banks

Mo Tiernan is missing.

This one simple fact kicks off Beast of Burden, the fourth book in Ray Banks's Cal Innes series.  Through the course of the previous three novels, Innes has been beat up, blown up, lost part of an ear, developed a painkiller addiction, and had a stroke.  Burden opens with him picking up an application for a barista job; one of the few jobs left someone who's "half mong" can do to support himself.  So when local gangster "Uncle" Morris Tiernan says Innes is the only one he trusts to find his wayward son, Innes throws himself into the job.  Naturally, Innes finds Mo dead, but that only propels him further into the case.

It's enjoyable to watch Innes in full-blown private eye mode again.  He was so good at it, and Banks writes these stories so well.

As it is the fourth and final book in the Innes series, it serves as a natural bookend with Saturday's Child.  In fact, there are more than a few callbacks to the earlier book.  Not only are Mo and Morris back, but so are Mo's associates Baz and Rossie, an increased role for Cal's friend Paulo, and several run-ins with Mo's half-sister Alison (who disappeared with the croupier Cal was hired to find in Child).  Banks even does the parallel narrator trick he did in Child, this time bouncing between Innes and DS Donkin, a cop with a sour disposition and a vendetta against Innes.

The only quibble I have is I couldn't figure out who killed Mo.  The killer's reveal was breathtakingly perfect and made complete sense within the landscape of the series.  My eyes went wide when I read the line.  But I don't remember any hints being dropped that would lead the reader to that conclusion.  That being said, it didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of this novel.

Beast of Burden is a noir masterpiece, the perfect conclusion to Banks's Innes series.

Read the whole series from the beginning.

Highly recommended.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Song of the Week: Hideaway

Who says the blues have to be slow and depressing?  Here's Eric Clapton covering the Freddie King classic "Hideaway". I dare you to say your mood is not buoyed after listening to this.