“Peter White” Does Not Like My Review of Peter White

“Jeff Winbush, at one of MY shows? Cheeky bugger.”

I’m of the mind that anyone who creates something for public consumption is subject to have whatever that something is critiqued.  Not every artist agrees with the assessment, but most don’t take the compliments or the criticism to heart.

Most, but not all as my recent review of the new Peter White album seems to demonstrate:  

Make no mistake about it: Peter White is a technically proficient guitarist who blends impeccable taste and admirable fluidity in his playing. He is standing on the top of the smooth jazz food chain and Here We Go will do nothing to lessen his dominance as one of the most popular artists working today. White is a pro’s pro who knows what he can do and he does it quite successfully.

But there’s a tad too much polish and far too much restraint to make any lasting impression At its heart, Here We Go feels like just another in a series of pleasant-sounding Peter White recording that breaks no new ground, places no demands and commands little (if any) attention.

This isn’t a bad album so much as it isn’t a compelling one. The saxophones solos by David Sanborn on the horn-heavy title track and Kirk Whalum on “Our Dance” are as effective as they are routine. Sanborn and Whalum can play this kind of stuff in their sleep. Philippe Saisse‘s piano is a standout, and Ramon Yslas’ Latin percussion livens up the three tracks he appears on, but he isn’t enough to lift the album up from the humdrum and ho-hum.

White can’t be faulted for being a bad musician because he clearly is not. He excels at what he does, but what he does is play exactly the right amount of notes in exactly the correct sequence to make precisely the kind of pretty sounding music that doesn’t stray from his formula. Some artists swim against the tide; others prefer to float along with it. White excels at the latter.

There’s nothing wrong with courting commercial success, and who can blame White for staying in his lane and making what is essentially nice-sounding, but never compelling music. This album was never meant to appeal to jazzheads wanting their guitarists to have a harder edge, get a little nasty and put some blood, sweat and tears into their playing.

That is not Peter White’s style, it never will be, and he’s probably okay with that. Everybody else will learn to be too.

Track Listing: Night After Night, Time Never Sleeps, Here We Go, If Ever, Our Dance, Desert Night, Joyride, Costa Rica, My Lucky Day, Requiem For A Princess, Reunion

Personnel: Peter White: guitars, accordion, unspecified instruments; D.C.: unspecified instruments; Nate Phillips: bass (1, 2,); Phillipe Saisse: piano, keyboards, drum programming, orchestration (1-5, 7, 10); David Sanborn: saxophone solo (3); Andrew Neu: background sax, soprano sax, saxophones, flute (3, 4, 7, 8); Gabriel the Gun: flugelhorn, trumpet (3, 7, 8); Mel Scott: baritone sax (3); Kiki Ebsen: vocals (4); Charlotte White: violin (4); Ramon Yslas: congas, timbales, percussion (4, 7, 8); Roberto Vally: upright bass (5, 11).

The review received a comment.  Apparently, from Mr. White himself.  He wasn’t happy either.

Thanks for the comments, Jeff.

I was amused by your line- “This album was never meant to appeal to jazzheads wanting their guitarists to have a harder edge, get a little nasty and put some blood, sweat and tears into their playing”.

I am not a jazz player, I have never tried to appeal to jazz heads, never tried to break new ground or place any demands as you say and most of all, never tried to court commercial success as you imply. I welcome criticism of my music but draw the line when writers such as yourself start questioning my motives. You do not know me and have not a clue as to what my motives are for making music. Let me help you-

I play and record music that I like and turns me on. I hope other people will like it but that is not what drives me. Please reserve your criticism for what I do, not for what you thought I should have done. You may become a better writer in the process.

All my best…..Peter White
email@peterwhite.com

P.S. As to your snide comment that my music “commands little (if any) attention”, my current single and the title track “Here We Go” currently stands at number 1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz chart. Maybe more research is needed here, Jeff.

Billboard Smooth Jazz chart:   1 – 1 (3rd week @ #1)

I have doubts Peter White trolls the Internet looking for middling-to-negative reviews of his albums so he can take the writer to task.  I would hope he has better things to do.   However, a Peter White fan has plenty of time to take exception to such a review.  Perhaps so much so they would respond to it by claiming they are Peter White.    That’s equal parts ballsy and stupid, but I had a few minutes to waste so I replied to “Peter.”

Hi, “Peter.”

If this really is  Peter White, the guy who says he never tried to court commercial success (but boasts his album is Number One on Billboard’s Jazz Chart), I’d say despite the claim ou welcome criticism of your music, aren’t you too busy enjoying that commercial success you say don’t care about?

It’s great your album is doing so well, “Peter,” but I don’t write my reviews based upon whether you’ve sold 500,000 copies or five. Nobody on All About Jazz does.

You are right “Peter” that I don’t know or your motives, but I do own enough of your music and that qualifies me to express an opinion. My opinion is I don’t care for Here We Go. It’s safe. It has no edge. It breaks no new ground.  That’s my opinion.  I never said it had to accepted as fact.

I listen to and review music that artists make and when I do, I write reviews that honestly reflect my assessment of the music. If you feel I’ve attacked you personally and in an unprofessional manner, I’d urge you to bring it to the attention of the editors at All About Jazz.

What I will promise you when you make an album I like, I’ll say I’ll like it, but when you make an album I dislike, I’ll say that I dislike it.

I will also promise I won’t tell you how to become a better musician if you don’t tell me how to become a better writer.

Have a good day.  That was also a better album than Here We Go.

Jeff Winbush

Peter White in the process of making sure he’s not playing jazz.

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Stand Your Ground (and Shoot to Kill) or Go to Jail.

Stand Your Ground or Take A Beatdown.


Marissa Alexander needed the supposed protection of Stand Your Ground if anyone ever has.

 Marissa Alexander was a 31-year-old, 5-ft. 2-in. mother of three, her baby just 9 days old, living in Jacksonville, Fla., a “Stand your ground” state. Her 36-year-old husband Rico Gray was arrested in 2009 for attacking her and sending her to the hospital, after which she got a restraining order against him.

In a 2010 deposition, Gray said, “We was staying together and I pushed her back and she fell in the bathtub and hit her head and that’s the time I went to jail.” In the same deposition, he admits that this was not his first incident of domestic violence against women, saying, “I got five baby mamas and I put my hand on every last one of them except one. The way I was with women, they was like they had to walk on eggshells around me. You know they never knew what I was thinking or what I might do. Hit them, push them.” He also admits that he and Alexander had “four or five” episodes of domestic violence leading up the August 2010 incident that landed Alexander in prison facing a 20-year sentence.

 Alexander retrieved a gun she had in her truck. She returned a fired a shot in the wall. Gray backed off and left. He ran to the police and Alexander was arrested. She claimed she was in fear of her life and cited Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. The same law that George Zimmerman may use to justify why he shot and killed Trayvon Martin and the same prosecutor, Angela Corey would try to put Alexander away.

Facing 20 years in jail, Alexander was offered a three-year sentence instead, but turned it down and why not? She thought she had defended herself from a man whom had previously beaten her and admitted he liked thumping on woman. She had a permit to carry a firearm. Rico Gray was threatening to kill her or have her killed. She tried to leave the premises by going out through the garage, but couldn’t open the door, something Gray admitted in his deposition that he knew she couldn’t get out that way.

Alexander thought she would go free and why not?  Since SYG became the law in Florida justifiable homicide from it had been cited as a defense in 93 cases involving 65 deaths and successfully most times.

Is Corey using Alexander to warm up for Zimmerman?

Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Marissa Alexander, whose case brought allegations that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is being unfairly applied, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday after being convicted of three counts of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot during a dispute with her husband.

The case sparked a confrontation between a congresswoman and the prosecutor after the sentencing in Jacksonville, Fla., WJXT-TV reported.

Alexander, 31, claimed she fired a shot from a handgun into the wall to protect herself during a confrontation with her husband, who she said had abused her, WJXT reported. Two children were with him when she fired a shot in his direction, and she was charged with three counts of aggravated assault.

Her attorneys claimed self-defense and cited the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which gives people some protection from prosecution for using potentially deadly force in cases in which they feel their life is threatened.

The law came under nationwide scrutiny during the Trayvon Martin case, when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot an unarmed teen and authorities waited weeks before charging him.

But a jury agreed with prosecutors that the law didn’t apply because she left during the argument, got a gun and returned to confront him, WJXT reported.

Last week, State Attorney Angela Corey, who is also handling the Zimmerman case, said she personally met with Alexander and reviewed the evidence in the case, WJXT reported. She said she offered Alexander a three-year sentence before trial, despite the case qualifying for a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence.

This is what happens when a terrible law (Stand Your Ground) and an equally terrible practice (minimum-mandatory sentencing) catch up someone in a squeeze play. To the point if Florida is going to have this awful law, it either needs to be applied consistently or scrapped entirely.

Facing 20 years in jail, Alexander was offered a three-year sentence instead, but turned it down and why not? She thought she had defended herself from a man whom had previously beaten her and admitted he liked thumping on woman.

This is certainly not justice. No way is society a safer place with Marissa Alexander locked up until she’s 51 years old.

One can only hope Corey is as equally aggressive and successful in her prosecution of George Zimmerman who actually put a hole in a human being, not a wall, and killed Trayvon Martin.

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

Is Coming Out Gay Just Another Comic Book Stunt?

Astonishing Gay X-Men?

To be a man in your fifth decade and still reading comics is slightly embarrassing and that was reinforced when sitting next to my 13-year-old nephew at The Avengers and realizing I’ve forgotten more about every major character in the movie than he will ever know (or care) about.

I gave up comics this year.  I didn’t give up buying them every so often.  Old habits do die-hard.  I just took myself out of the never-ending cycle of 52 Wednesdays a year burning up gas and spending money to bring home another $20 to $40 worth of four-color funny books that after being read once or twice end up in filling storage bins in my basement.    Throw in the ridiculous cost ($3.99 for something that used to cost 12 cents) and giving comics up wasn’t a tough call.

I still read comic books.  Most of them are my brother’s “New 52” line from DC Comics.   Last year, fueled by desperation as much as inspiration, DC zeroed out its existing universe and rebooted their line with  brand new Number One issues, new costumes for Superman and his other super-friends and in doing so generated a buzz that garnered a ton of favorable coverage from the mainstream media and the interest and excitement of fans.

That’s how you create a buzz about comics.  You come up with a stunt.  Kill Superman and bring him back.  Kill Captain America and bring him back.  Kill Batman and…are you starting to see a pattern here?

Anyway,  The New 52 worked great.   DC knocked industry leader Marvel on its backside and out of the top spot, which for as minimal comic books have on pop culture is like being the tallest pygmy.   Movies based on comic books are big business.  Comic books themselves struggle to sell 75,000 copies a month, but DC is owned by TimeWarner and Marvel by Disney and they could give a shit if Superman sells in the thousands or in the dozens.  What their comic book companies contribute to ledger sheets of  their corporate masters wouldn’t pay for a week’s worth of office supplies.

What Disney and TimeWarner care about are the comic book properties.  You think they give a toot in a tornado about a damn comic book when one Friday evening of The Avengers puts more cash in The Mouse House’s pocket than 40 years Avengers comic books.

“Dick, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

The New 52 was a great hook, but it wasn’t a revolutionary concept.  Many of the same artists and writers whose lousy stories ran the company into a ditch were now being tapped to pull it out.  Zeroing out their universe and starting from scratch liberated DC from decades of confusing and convoluted comic continuity .   Continuity is important to the educated in comics lore fan base, but their numbers are too small and the demographic too old for Hollywood to give a shit if a geek gets upset because Superman no longer wears his underwear on the outside.  The purpose of comic books are to provide concepts that can be mined by movie studios and turned into movie franchises. DC has failed to successfully follow Marvel in making the transition from comic book company to feeder system for million-dollar movies.

It no longer matters what happens in comics.  Not that it really ever did, but particularly not now.  Spider-Man, Batman and Iron Man generate millions in ticket sales and that second life on the silver screen means whatever happens to them in their paper and staples form don’t mean a thing.

What’s left for comic books?  Stunts.  Tricks.  Big cataclysmic events that shake up the status quo, shatter worlds, and change everything as we know.  Then six months later someone comes along and changes it all back.

The newest stunt:  Make someone gay everyone thought was straight or take a second or third-string hero and marry him off.   To his boyfriend.   HEY KIDS! GAY COMICS!

Marvel is allowing Northstar, their French-Canadian mutant speedster to marry his Black boyfriend.  Gay and interracial marriage?  Two taboos broken for the price of one.

DC’s response?  Follow the leader and announce a “major” character will come out the closet as a gay man.

Gay supporting characters and even gay heroes aren’t new.  Northstar has been out for years.  DC’s Wildstorm imprint featured a openly gay couple named Apollo and The Midnighter who were overt Superman/Batman stand-ins.   But their love affair ended when they were incorporated into the DC mainstream.  Odd that there weren’t many protests from the continuity-obsessed fans about that reboot.

Not Superman and Batman, but just like them.

Who will come out of the comic book closet?  It could be Batman.  It should be Batman.  But because it’s both so obvious and so perfect it won’t be Batman.  Batman is now on his third or fourth Robin.  He just keeps picking up young boys to be his “partner.”  What would you call a billionaire who’s never married, only uses women as props, enjoys dressing up head to toe in leather and prefers the company of athletic youths?

One of Bats current writers, Grant Morrison, fessed up in Playboy  the Dark Knight”s antenna isn’t picking up the wavelength of the opposite sex.

“He’s very plutonian in the sense that he’s wealthy and also in the sense that he’s sexually deviant,” Morrison said. “Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he’s intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay.”

“I think that’s why people like it. All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get to him. He doesn’t care — he’s more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid.”

As someone with no skin in the game, I’m all for gay fans of comics being represented with gay characters they can relate to   An openly homosexual hero isn’t going to corrupt a kid’s mind anymore than most of the other crap DC and Marvel poop out every Wednesday.

Just don’t stop there.  Let’s see what happens when a gay superhero faces discrimination from a straight superhero who doesn’t want to team up with him.  Instead of fighting alien invaders, let’s have the Justice League or Avengers take on a homophobic hate group.

There have always been gay themes in comics as long as there have been comics.  It was just nodded and winked at and never spoken of in a serious way.   This feels like the latest in a long line of contrived stunts the major companies engage in passing it off as being socially conscious.   We’ll see if DC and Marvel are as seriously committed to their “evolution” as gay couples are to getting married.

Don’t look for the happy couple in the next X-Men movie.

Shaken and Stirred by the “Skyfall” Teaser

007 has a license to kill, but did he lose his razor?

A teaser trailer is supposed to do precisely two things:  generate a bit of a buzz before the movie opens and not send off major warning signs that it’s going to suck (Green Lantern, I’m  looking at you).    The teaser for James Bond 23 , Skyfall does its job with workmanlike precision in a tidy 94 seconds.

A lot of quick cuts and ominous music does not a good movie make,  But a new James Bond movie is always something to look forward to.  Nobody is more pleased by than I am that Skyfall doesn’t give off the tell-tale odor of flop sweat.

Casino Royale was a return to glory for the franchise, but the follow-up Quantum of Solace killed a lot of the good will.   In the theater it’s busy and gets to point “A” to “B” faster than its predecessor, but Quantum of Solace  doesn’t go anywhere special.  Even though the story picks up immediately after Casino Royale all it establishes is this is a Bond who really seems to enjoy killing people.   Daniel Craig is once again the most joyless and cold-blooded 007 ever, but he’s got nothing to work with in Quantum.   The plot was murky, the bad guy  wimpy and bug-eyed and the standard “Bond girl “nearly non-existent with the whole tiresome mess anchored by Marc Forster’s sloppy and scattered direction.

Forster, who had never handled a big-budget franchise film tried copying the fight and chase scenes from the previous film and demonstrated he simply couldn’t shoot an action scene.  Either he shot everything too close, too dark and cut it so fast it’s hard at times to figure out what’s happening on screen.

Roger Moore, the third actor to portray Bond on film put it well.  ‘I enjoy Daniel Craig, I think he’s a damn good Bond but the film as a whole, there was a bit too much flash cutting for me.’

‘I thought Casino Royale was better. It was just like a commercial of the action. There didn’t seem to be any geography and you were wondering what the hell was going on.”

“She needs help! She watched ‘Quantum of Solace’ three times in a row.”

I’ve watched Quantum on DVD, but it still leaves no impression.  Things zip by on screen, lines are delivered, guns shoot, and Bond wins.  The end.  Roll credits and put the license to kill in a drawer for four years.

Skyfall  arrives in November both liberated and burdened.   Four years is a long time between Bond entries and it’s the longest lay-off between films since the six years from License to Kill (1989) to GoldenEye (1995) which featured a long legal battle and the recasting of the lead between Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.  Skyfall doesn’t have to be as good as Casino Royale.  It  only has to be better than Quantum of So What.   How hard could that be.

Since the last time we saw Bond onscreen he was scowling his way through a pedestrian movie, there is pressure on Craig and Sam Mendes, the Academy Award director of American Beauty to regain the momentum.

One way to do it is to give everyone a reason to hope the five months from the teaser to the film fly by  Bond’s longest line of dialogue goes a long way to get me there.

“Some men are coming to kill us. We’re gonna kill them first.”

That sounds like the bad-tempered Bond we’ve come to known and love.

Fake-Ass Black Militants and the White Conservatives That Love Them

Attention conservatives: THIS is what a brother who means business looks like.

Having never been White or a conservative I can’t begin to understand what it is about the Pseudo New Black Panthers Party that sets White conservatives into a frenzy.  As far as I know, the only one who takes these fake-ass Black radicals seriously are White conservatives.  The only reason I can figure they do is it plays into their paranoia that the Age of Obama is the harbinger for the upcoming race war or something.

When the small, but noisy, group of Black separatists issued a “manifesto” denouncing President Obama and speculated the choice in November would come down to the “ballot or the bullet” the conservative media and blogs freaked the hell out.   The conservative website, The Daily Caller breathlessly wrote:

In the Spring edition of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) newspaper — cover reading “The Ballot or The Bullet: which way for black people?” — NBPP Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz breaks down the presidential election, concluding the Democratic Party is the “institutional pimp of Black peoples and the Black Nation” and that Obama has “been a real disappointment.”

“Black peoples are the whores and prostitutes of the Democratic Party, and mistreated mistress that is courted in the late of night, but left hanging when it is time for real change in the light of the post election day,” Shabazz wrote, following a dissertation on the need to “Vote for Revolution.”

“Black peoples are the whores and prostitutes of the Democratic Party, and mistreated mistress that is courted in the late of night, but left hanging when it is time for real change in the light of the post election day,” he wrote, encouraging blacks to “vote for revolution.”

“Black America, you must decide who will best represent you in 2012. You must decide if you will choose the ballot as a means to change, or the bullet,” he wrote, adding that ““demanding change does come by any means necessary.”

The right-wing media does an excellent job of whipping their base into a mouth-foaming frenzy.  But they do a rotten job of doing even a little bit of historical research.  If they had they would have realized “the ballot or the bullet” were ripped off from a speech given by an assassinated Black leader some 48 years ago.

Whomever Malik Zulu Shabazz really is, he’s ripping off the far more articulate and infinitely more intelligent El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz, a.k.a. Malcolm X.   The phrases “the ballot or the bullet” and “by any means necessary” are instantly familiar to anyone who has listened to the deceased Black Muslim leader’s fiery and impassioned speeches.  That does not seem to include Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and the idiots running Breitbrart.com.

Malcolm X gave a speech on March 29, 1964 entitled “The Ballot or the Bullet.” The Black Muslim leader was speaking about the need for Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act and warning of what the dire consequences might be if it wasn’t.

“Look at us! We’re tough! We’re mean!. GRRR! You scared yet?”

If you’re interested in freedom, you need some judo, you need some karate–you need all the things that will help you fight for freedom. If we don’t resort to the bullet, then immediately we have to take steps to use the ballot. Equality of opportunity, if the constitution at the present time [doesn’t offer it], then change it. Either it offers it, or it doesn’t offer it. If it offers it–good, then give it to us–if it doesn’t offer it, then change it. You don’t need a debate. You don’t need a filibuster. You need some action!

So what you and I have to do is get involved. You and I have to be right there breathing down their throats. Every time they look over their shoulders, we want them to see us.

We want to make them–we want to make them–pass the strongest civil-rights bill they ever passed, because we know that even after they pass it, they can’t enforce it.

In order to do this, we’re starting a voters’ registration drive. We have to get everybody in Harlem registered, not as Democrats or Republicans, but registered as Independents. We’re going to organize a corps of brothers and sisters who, after this city is mapped out, they won’t leave one apartment-house door not knocked on. There won’t be a door in Harlem that will not have been knocked on to see that whatever black face lives behind that door is registered to vote by a certain time this year. Nobody will have an excuse not to be registered. We’ll ask him to let us see your card. If you don’t have the sense of responsibility to get registered, we’ll move you out of town.

It’s going to be the ballot or the bullet…

The Pseudo New Black Panthers specialize in two things: dick-riding authentic Black leaders and pissing offf White conservatives. Why do I say White conservatives? Because those are their major constituents. The way they inflame fear and paranoia among the White right, you have to wonder if they are on the Koch Brothers payroll.

The Real Deal Black Steel

They know this kind of jive makes conservatives see red and double-check to make sure all their guns are loaded and ready for when the race war begins. Meanwhile, these fakes get all sorts of free pub. It’s a win-win!

All the Pseudo Panthers do is scare White folks that the big, bad Black militants are going to come to take their guns and rape their wives. It’s a crock. These clowns love to dress up, talk tough and do nothing. They never raised $10,000 for a bounty on George Zimmerman. They couldn’t raise $10 bucks if they passed the hat between themselves.

You can promise anything if you know you’re never going to deliver. Maybe the right-wing blogosphere and the people who get dumber by watching Fox News are putting bars on the doors and windows in fear of the Pseudo Panthers comin’ to get their mama, but this is karaoke Black militancy.

Malcolm X was a real Black militant. Huey Newton and the original-accept-no-substitutes Black Panthers were real Black militants.

This shit by the Pseudo Panthers isn’t militancy. It’s cabaret. It’s “Let’s scare the shit out of White folks” and it’s working.

I read Malcolm X. I listened to Malcolm X. I admired Malcolm X.  These fake-ass Negroes are no Malcolm X.

But they’re good enough for the White Right to use as the boogeymen of Scary Black People.  It’s great for creating paranoia, racial hatred, ratings and gun sales.  I really do not get what it is about the Pseudo-New Black Panthers that gets so many tighty whiteys in a wad. They talk a lot of mad shit. Oh GOD, how they love to talk about all their plans and what they’re going to do and how they’ve gonna fuck up White folks world.

And they don’t do diddly.  Who listens to the Pseudo Panthers?  Who hangs on their every word?  Who takes them seriously?  It’s White folks, not Black folks.

The only militants worth worrying about are the ones that don’t run off at the mouth, don’t announce their plans, don’t do media events and don’t bite off of dead Black Muslims and the carcass of the original real deal Black Panthers.

“I’ll Persuade You” and The Black Widow Does.

“Is it hot in here or is it just all this leather I’m wearing?”

When you make a movie that grosses over a billion dollars and shatters box office records like The Avengers, every little detail of it is going to be picked apart, analyzed, and dissected down to its essence trying to figure out how it became such a category crossing sensation that defies demographics and appeals to teenagers, couples, families, fanboys of all ages, races, shapes and sizes.

It’s a major plus to hire a director who likes his women characters and treats them as important components instead of pretty girls in tight spandex.

The Black Widow can’t fly, doesn’t wear a suit of high-tech armor, doesn’t sport a mystical hammer, unbreakable shield, or get big mean and green, but that doesn’t mean she has no game. Of all the incredible things Joss Whedon put into The Avengers he gave a second-string super heroine major game.

Black Widow 2.0 is a vast improvement over her uselessness in Iron Man 2 she almost seems like a brand new character despite being played by the same actress. In the trailers, the Widow and Hawkeye looked like they were there to fetch coffee for Cap and Iron Man. Whedon was crafty to not give away what he had planned for Natasha Romanoff. . More screen time than Thor, Bruce Banner or Hawkeye and third behind Captain America and Iron Man.

Just don’t believe Scarlett Johansson got the role of Black Widow based upon her immense acting abilities as opposed to how hot she looks in a completely impractical outfit so tight if she you can tell if a coin in her pocket is heads or tails.  There’s plenty of beefcake in The Avengers. Let’s not pretend the Black Widow’s primary power isn’t eye candy, but to Johansson, Whedon and co-screenwriter Zak Penn’s infinite credit, they made Natasha Romanoff so much more than that.

Pretty people get cast as superheroes.  Even if they wear masks, they tend to lose them exposing the actor’s face.  If you’re an incredibly good-looking dude like Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, that’s  understandable.  Lucky for Johansson she’s both pretty and plays a character that doesn’t hide her looks behind a mask. Looking pretty and occasionally punching out someone was all she was given to do in Iron Man 2. 

It sure helps to work with a director who likes female characters.

So I wasn’t excited to see the Black Widow was an Avenger until I saw The Avengers.  Whedon is justifiably being lavished with praise for doing the following:

  • Fixing the problem of two previous attempts to present the Hulk as something more than a CGI hot mess.
  • Made a superhero movie fun instead of dark, grim and gritty without making it dumb.
  • Turned a supporting character who was previously little more than sexy wallpaper into a valuable member of a group instead one of their weakest links.  And she’s still sexy.
  • Doubled the expectations that The Dark Knight Rises can’t get away with just being good; now it has to be great.

Sexism has been a part of the comics as long as there have been women in comics. All you have to do is look at how often Wonder Woman is depicted bound and chained. Despite DC’s “New 52” revamp, while Superman got out of his “undies on the outside” look, they put Wonder Woman back in her one-piece bathing suit. The more things change….

That’s why the Black Widow runs around in curve-hugging black leather that is all but useless in a fight, but  looks cool.  Whedon likes to give his actresses interesting things to do and say, but he has to pander to popular tastes too and guys really like women kicking ass in tight clothes.   As least she’s not wearing heels.

One of the last frontiers for the super hero genre is to make a successful one featuring a super heroine.  Wonder Woman seems like a no-brainer, but DC Comics has been inept at making movies featuring characters not named Superman and Batman.  Hollywood is reluctant to put millions into a movie featuring women or minorities as the center of attraction.

The speculation Marvel will greenlight a solo Black Widow film is running rampant on the Internet, but like most things online, doubt everything until the ticket stub is in your hand.  It could happen and it should happen, but whether it does happen is no sure thing.

I’m taking my nephew to see the movie tomorrow.  He won’t care if the Black Widow is a strong hero or an objectified sex object. . All he’ll care about is how much butt she kicks.  He might also take a long look at how her butt looks.

Yeah, you think it’s easy kicking butt in skin-tight leather? Try it sometime.

Donna Summer: She Worked Hard For the Money

She worked hard for it honey.

“Sometimes it gets to the point where you’ve been pushed for so long, by this monstrous, monstrous force, this whole production of people and props that you’re responsible for, by audiences and everything that rules you, until you take it upon yourself to be a machine. And at some point a machine breaks down.”

~ Donna Summer

My enduring memory of Donna Summer, the most popular artist of the disco era who passed away at age 63 from cancer is when I wore a younger man clothes I danced with a girl I did not like to “Love To Love You, Baby.”  All 17 minutes and 18 seconds of it.

Summer was the undisputed Queen of Disco (Sorry, Gloria Gaynor), but the downside of being the ruler of a genre of music that is as despised as much as it is admired is once disco fell off (and it fell off hard) her career was pulled down along with it.  A 1978 Rolling Stone cover story about Summer posed the question, “Is There Life After Disco?”  The answer was of course .   There just aren’t a lot more hits in the pipeline.

It isn’t that Summer was a talentless mouthpiece for the lush production of strings, horns, and  Giorgio Moroder’s synthesized beats.  She was the peanut butter to the jelly of her European producers’ coldly efficient and relatively anonymous music.

The highs and lows of Donna Summer are documented perfectly in the 2005 best of compilation, Gold.   Disco was great to dance to but man, is it ever lousy to listen to.  It’s the perfect triumph of machine over man and nobody was better at cooing seductively over bloodless, passionless, and robotic sounds than Summer.   More than any other style, disco music is frozen in time and like white linen suits and feathered hair it hasn’t aged well.

I Feel Love” may deserve the credit for the template for what electronic dance music has been for the past 25 years, but you can’t make love to it.   Immediately after listening to disco,  I always have to follow it up with some Led Zeppelin or Funkadelic, or anything else that sounds like human beings were involved in making it.

Take your order, sir?

At 34 songs spread over two discs, Gold is overly generous by half, but if you’re interested in marking where Summer’s career ran off a cliff, it’s the phony attempt at “new wave” relevance with “The Wanderer” which is bad, but “Love Is In Control (Finger On the Trigger)” is one overproduced hot mess of a song with Quincy Jones throwing everything in his trick bag at it as he tries and fails to kick-start Summer’s faltering fortunes.   Summer herself wasn’t fond of the six months she spent recording with the man behind Michael Jackson’s biggest solo hits.  She told a reporter, “Sometimes I feel it’s a Quincy Jones album that I sang on.”

Like many other artists whose success hinged on being the best at a specific genre at its commercial peak, Summer struggled to stay relevant in her post-disco diva days.   She changed record labels, worked with various producers, dabbled with various sounds and there are a smattering of moments of interest as she sticks a toe in pop, funk, new wave and non-disco dance music, but the supreme moment of accomplishment remains “She Works Hard For the Money.”

She works hard for the money. So hard for it, honey.
She works hard for the money. So you better treat her right.

Onetta here in the corner stand and wonders where she is.
And it’s strange to her, some people seem to have everything.
9 am on the hour hand and she’s waiting for the bell.
And she’s looking real pretty. She’s waiting for her clientele.

She works hard for the money. So hard for it, honey.
She works hard for the money. So you better treat her right.

After being forced by David Geffen to abandon Moroder and her European production team and shelving, I’m A Rainbow, another two-record set and the ill-matched Jones produced Donna Summer, Summer was compelled to deliver one more album to her former label, Casablanca.  The result was the inspired She Works Hard For the Money.  Paired with producer Michael Omartin, Summer wrote or co-wrote every song including the Number One R&B title track.

The album is spotty, but “She Works Hard For the Money” is historic as its accompanying video was the first by a Black woman put on “heavy rotation” on MTV back in ancient times when the “M” in MTV stood for music.   Summer (despite being a disco queen couldn’t dance a lick) stands around in the video observing its female protagonist indeed working hard for the money.  Though Summer the based the song on an exhausted Black woman working as a bathroom attendant she observed, the video featured a White woman named “Onetta.”  Go figure.

The other odd thing about Donna Summer besides her inability to dance is when I would d.j. parties, if I played one of her songs they would clear the floor.   Nobody would dance to them.  That overproduced Eurodisco sound worked okay in a club, but fell flat on its ass at a house party.

Donna Summer never found a second act as successful as her disco days, but she made her mark, had some hits and left a lasting impression upon music.  That’s not too shabby a list of accomplishments to be proud of.   R.I.P., Queen of Disco.

My Donna Summer Top Ten playlist:

1.  She Works Hard For the Money
2.  Hot Stuff
3.  Bad Girls
4.  Dim All the Lights
5.  Sunset People
6.   Last Dance
7.   This Time I Know It’s For Real
8.   I Feel Love
9.   No More Tears (Enough is Enough)
10. Love to Love You Baby

Another Day in the Death of Trayvon Martin

Who’s worse? The guy selling it or the guy buying it?

Remember when Trayvon Martin’s mother put her son’s name under copyright protection and was roundly criticized for doing so? Maybe now we can understand why.

Not a day goes by in America where some two-legged maggot isn’t trying to connive some way to make a buck off of the most tragic of situations.

This is one such day.

A person selling gun range targets modeled after slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin says that their “main motivation was to make money off the controversy.”

WKMG’s Mike DeForest reported on Friday that the unidentified seller told him that the targets “sold out in 2 days.”

“The response is overwhelming,” the seller said.

While the item appears to have been removed from GunBroker.com, a cached version of the page was still available at the time of publication.

Photos of the item, which was titled “10 Pack Trayvon Martin Targets,” showed crosshairs over a hoodie similar to the one Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in February. The figure has a bag of Skittle in his pocket and is holding what appears to be a can of iced tea, similar to what Martin had purchased before being gunned down. The pack of 10 targets was being sold for $8.

“Everyone knows the story of Zimmerman and Martin,” a description on the targets reads. “Obviously we support Zimmerman and believe he is innocent and that he shot a thug. Each target is printed on thick, high quality poster paper with a matte finish! The dimensions are 12″x18″ This is a Ten Pack of Targets.”

Let he or she who fears possible violence coming from Trayvon Martin’s supporters worry as much about the hatred coming from George Zimmerman’s supporters.

Now the relevant question is whether it is helpful or even desired support and Zimmerman’s attorney makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t want that kind of support for his client. Good for him, but even with his disclaimer there is no doubt Zimmerman has become a cause celebre for racist turds trying to make a dirty dollar off of a dead kid.

They are Zimmerman supporters too. The wrong kind, but there are always those types looking to slither out from under their rocks to exploit a bad situation and make it worse.

I can discern the difference between the bottom-feeders and those who earnestly believe Zimmerman is innocent and deserves his day in court, but let’s not be naive and think it’s only nice people backing this guy.

ABC News reports Zimmerman’s doctor says his patient was diagnosed with a “closed fracture” of his nose, a pair of black eyes, two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury the day after he fatally shot Martin. Zimmerman’s defenders have seized upon this as evidence he was fighting for his life when he gunned down the unarmed teenager.

However, other aspects of the ABC News story seems to have been glossed over. The report also notes that Zimmerman had been prescribed mood medications Adderall and Temazepam before the shooting, ABC News reported. The doctor added that Zimmerman refused to go to the hospital the night of the shooting and added that it was “imperative” that he see his psychologist.

George’s little helper?

 

Some fun facts about Temazepam:

What should I avoid while taking temazepam?

Do not drink alcohol while you are taking temazepam. It can increase some of the side effects, and could possibly cause a fatal overdose. Temazepam can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Temazepam side effects

  • weak or shallow breathing;
  • fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • confusion, slurred speech, unusual thoughts or behavior;
  • hallucinations, agitation, aggression;
  • thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;
  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
  • amnesia or forgetfulness;
  • muscle weakness, lack of balance or coordination;
  • headache, blurred vision, depressed mood;
  • feeling nervous, excited, or irritable;

Here are some more fun facts about Adderall:

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.

What should I avoid while taking Adderall?

Adderall may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Adderall Side Effects – for the Professional

Central Nervous System

Psychotic episodes at recommended doses, overstimulation, restlessness, dizziness, insomnia, euphoria, dyskinesia, dysphoria, depression, tremor, headache, exacerbation of motor and phonic tics and Tourette’s syndrome, seizures, stroke.

Zimmerman had been prescribed two powerful drugs with multiple side effects and clear warnings not to consume alcohol. However, the Sanford Police Department, whose work Zimmerman’s defenders say did not make a botch of the investigation,  did NOT test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol (though they did test Trayvon’s corpse).

It might have been important to know if Trayvon’s killer was high as a kite when he stalked and shot the unarmed teenager. Thanks to the inept bungling of the idiot Sanford cops we never will.

“Let me help you with your bags of pills, Mr. Zimmerman.”