The iJamming! Top 10

1) The Genius of Clyde McPhatter
Sadly, the former Dominoes and Drifters lead didn’t believe he was afforded such a title while he was alive. He died before he was 40, brought down by alcohol and depression. But he left behind some of the greatest vocal performances of early rhythm’n’blues, including ‘Do Something For Me’ and ‘Have Mercy Baby’ (The Dominoes) and ‘Money Honey,’ ‘Such A Night’ and ‘Lucille’ (The Drifters). Can a singer exhibit genius purely with his voice? If so, then McPhatter earned his posthumous accolade.

Genius of Clyde McPhatter

2) Milke vs. Grandmaster Flash
‘The Message’ gets a refreshed, dare-we-say-exuberant bounce in this mash-up, courtesy of Krafty Kuts and their Fabriclive 34 mix CD.

3) Gene Autrey lives…
…Or at least lives on in the new – indeed, first ever – thorough biography, Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry by Phoenicia resident Holly George Warren. A party at Joshua’s in Woodstock Saturday afternoon brought out friends, family, husband Uncle Rock, and a cardboard cut-out of The Singing Cowboy.

4) Ray
I love biopics, and the story of Ray Charles (long out on DVD) is certainly boosted by that splendid performance from Jamie Foxx. But man, oh man, I wish I could be as liberal with my nonfiction as Hollywood is with its supposed nonfiction. Yeah, right, Ahmet Ertegun put payola in Alan Freed’s top pocket – while the guy was on air in the studio. Sure, Ray Charles began singing ‘Hit The Road Jack’ at his mistress, while sitting at a keyboard, in his hotel room one day – and she sang it right back to him like they were already on sstage. And if it’s true that Ray Charles suddenly refused to play a segregated show in Georgia because of one vociferous protester in a crowd outside then I’d still be surprised if it happened how the film depicts it. I watch these movies, with their inconsistencies, their lack of backstory, their glib gluing together of pieces that simply don’t fit – and I guess I’m jealous!.. Because they’re fun to watch, even as I know they play liberal with the facts.

5) Mother’s Day at Sweet Sue’s
There are certainly less hectic times to attend Main Street’s internationally famous pancake house than (American) Mother’s Day: you’d have thought they were serving them for free based on the scrum outside. But our friend Phil Foxman was in town from Sydney and wanted a taste of Phoenicia’s finest. He got it.

6) Manchester United 0, West Ham United 1.
A win-win situation. As I try and describe it later to my wife, Man United’s player didn’t want to get injured before next week’s Cup Final more than West Ham didn’t want not to win. So West Ham end up surprising everyone (even themselves?) by staying in the Premiership with eight wins out of their final nine games, while Manchester United forget about their rare home defeat the moment they’re handed the Premiership Trophy. Not often you see two sets of fans equally happy – but watching the post-match celebrations, then for a moment this Palace fan could even put down his dislike of almost every other team in the country to wish them both the best. I hate to find myself saying this, Man U played great football this year. They deserve the title. And it’s still the beautiful game.

7) Spring sun
It wasn’t like this last year: the tent caterpillars were busy devouring their way through the woods, denuding the trees of their greenery and rendering the forest brown. Seems like they must have ended the cycle at a peak, for this year brings an absence of tree-trunk tents, and hilltops that glisten a hundred shades of green under a comfortable May sun.

What a difference a year makes… The scene from last spring.

8) I told you once…
Our son is so contradictory that I buy Monty Python’s ‘Argument Clinic’ sketch off iTunes for 99c, to demonstrate how silly his ‘automatic gamesaying’ sounds when played out by John Cleese. Next I know, I’ve picked up the ‘Cheese Shop’ and ‘Dead Parrot’ too, both of which also star the future Basil Fawlty. (Coincidence?) And now, every time he says ‘black’ when I say ‘white,’ I will ask him, “Is this the right room for an argument?” (And he will probably say, “I told you once….”)

9) Lost
We’re several programs behind, but catching up fast courtesy of Netflix. I love Lost and am not easily scared…

10) Nightmares
…But tell that to my subconscious. In my dreams Sunday night, I was stabbed once – and cut loose in an elevator a second time. Wow, that was a strange finale to an otherwise perfectly good weekend.

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December 2021