I may have failed to post about the passing of jazz giant Yusef Lateef but it did not go by without my notice. And thankfully a myriad of others were much more johnny on the spot with their tributes, including one of the hardest working men in the game, Giles Peterson (a giant in his own right). Here he blesses us with a tribute mix to one of my all time favorite jazz cats. You should also check out some of Yusef Lateef’s essays and visual artwork. Peace Mr. Lateef, you sure enough deserve it.
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Tom Laughlin 1931-2013
Tom Laughlin, best known for his role as Billy Jack, passed away last week. He was an actor, writer, director, producer, and activist and like a couple of us Common Folker’s he was raised in the brew city, aka Milwaukee. He was also influential in independent film, a “prototype for independent filmmaking and distribution.”
I only know about the Billy Jack phenomenon because of a film class on counterculture in college. At the time it was pretty easy to dismiss the because the films are pretty campy and dated and all about taking down “The Man”. Though, while it shares a lot of ideals of hippies in the 60s, it was also all about taking action and actually doing something instead of sitting on your ass and philosophizing about it (generally in the films this took place in the form of pretty rudimentary kung-fu, karate but you get the idea). I have to attribute part of this action taking to his midwest upbringing where if you’re going to be about it, you gotta be about it.
I digress, Tom Laughlin, and Billy Jack (loosely based on him), were men of action and an example of how one person, and each one of us, can really make positive change in things. So, cheers to a good life passed on.
And I’ll leave you all with a great “I’ll go berserk” monologue right before Billy Jack kicks some racist ass, as quoted in the Nytimes obituary-
“…when I see this girl of such a beautiful spirit so degraded, and this boy, that I love, sprawled out by this ape here, and this little girl, who is so special to us that we call her God’s little gift to sunshine — and when I think of the number of years she’s going to have to carry in her memory the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours, I — just — go — berserk!”
Click through for some more images…
The graffiti world has lost another king, another too young king. I saw something on the internet a couple days ago but waited to believe anything until I talked to someone who actually knew. I didn’t know him personally but it also seemed like there would always be newer and more epic Nekst pieces popping up. He will always be remembered not only as a prolific bomber but for his fair share of pieces and freights and trackside rollers as well. Everything got hit. And got hit BIG.
All I can say is that hopefully in his life and death, there’s a lesson for all. Go big while you got it and live to keep getting it.
This first pic is from a piece done when I was working across the street on the Bowery and the first time I really opened up to him being a major player in doing big things, and doing them in very insanely high profile spots.
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I imagine most have heard that jazz legend Dave Brubeck passed away yesterday. I was thinking about it and it’s kind of interesting, “Take 5″ is arguably one of the most well known, recognizable jazz numbers ever. You hear so much about Miles Davis and John Coltrane but if you ask someone to name one of their songs you’ll probably get a bunch of mumbling. Unfortunately Brubeck, as popular as he was, didn’t get rock star status cuz he wasn’t a crazy eccentric personality and/or beat his wife. He was a standard in jazz and created jazz standards. As it too often goes, maybe in his death interest will rise again. Cheers, Mr. Brubeck.
Wildstyle (complex, interconnecting graffiti lettering) innovator Tracy 168 passed on this morning. He was a true New York legend whose influence is incalculable.
Lift those glasses and give a cheers to an O.G. Common Folk’er, Matt Smith, 07.26.73-10.20.02.