March 16, 2005
About Last Night
Yesterday was one of those spellbindingly incredible days in which so many things happen that you don't know where to start explaining. Lordy I've got some explaining to do. Unfortunately, I've also got some driving to do because today is my first day on the new job. So here are some bullet points for you to consider and me to remember as I put together the pieces of a remarkable evening which started on the balcony of a 70 year old woman and ended up with police circling at 2am in a parking lot in Long Beach.
Brokerage Politics The Chinese Backdoor Weigers The Power of the Mic Lahore, Karachi, I Can't Remember Which A Guy Named Julio Four Black Men With Shotguns That Girl's Dope The Quiet Man in the Blue Blazer Strata & Freakonomics House Bugs Bunny & Grenada, Mississippi These Black Kids Don't Look Sick The King & Queen Charlton Heston A Fistful of Chest Hair April First
It appears that I will be expanding the Circle of Trust. Last night was rather magical. And the picture? That's me on the Right.
UPDATE: OK I'm just a big tease, but actually all the conversation was with a gaggle of old and new academic friends, led by Spence, whom I've known for a decade and yet never met face to face. The event was out at Whittier College.
Spence had spoken the night before, and Sharpton spoke last night. After the show (which I missed) was over, we retired for dinner across the street - we meaning the faculty sponsors of the event, friends of Spence and some folks who had apparently come with the Rev. His long table was full and he looked a bit peaked, and so I wasn't about to make a geek of myself, even though in the end I did.
I wasn't really interested in engaging the Reverend because I don't get bent out of shape that he does what he does. I get bent out of shape because I percieve that too many Americans consider that there is no alternative.
Now Spence is many things besides a very well-rounded individual for one who has a PhD, but one thing he has got in spades is a finely tuned bullshit detector. And he's not afraid of coming with the hardline if he thinks people don't merit political credibility. Now credibility isn't always about the science of political science, and some might call that gullibility, but when it comes to policy, I think anyone would be a fool to doubt the man. So when he said something to the effect of 'Say what you will about Sharpton, he is one of the top five orators in America', that distilled something which I've been mulling over.
One of the bullet points above was that if you're holding the mic, everyone else is subservient. There is power in center stage. And you don't get to be the media magnet Al Sharpton is without having mastered the art of that thing called mediagenics in this country. The American media can destroy any one of us in a heartbeat. Say what you will, but Sharpton has learned all of those lessons and he is a uniquely American creature, which is one who can alter, however slightly, the national dialog through his ability to withstand that awesome beast called the mainstream media. And so my man Spence thought twice of trying to cross Sharpton, when Sharpton held the mic.
Much of that discussion brought to mind what Jimi Israel wrote of his appearance on TV and I also think about what my blogsister LaShawn Barber and blogbrother Michael King have learned in their more frequent media appearances. We talk back to the radio and TV in our pajamas, but it surely is not easy to deal with that camera. So yeah, that's my faux pas for not coming a lot cleaner in that crappy picture at the top of the page, then again I used the cheap digicam on purpose.
Of that I thought of simply publishing the shot with the phrase: "This is the difference between black Republicans and white Republicans." But I stopped short in recognition of Christie Todd Whitman's campaign for governor a decade ago. I was mad at Ed Rollins back in those days, but now I have a different agenda.
Bottom line on Sharpton. I think he does, as an orator, exactly what an unelected person should do. Speak out on issues. It's clear that our system benefits from all the rhetorical monkey wrenches. That makes him a politician I'm just not sure that makes him a public servant.
After Sharpton and the quiet man in the blue blazer (Secret Service, no doubt) left in the limo, I literally had one of those rare evenings when the conversation sparkles so lively that I didn't jump meta and fall into my 'space alien observing strange earthlings' subtext. We were a lovely bunch of coconuts and were still carrying on in the parking lot off Broadway and Pine in the LBC at two in the morning. What a great gang of folks.
Posted by mbowen at March 16, 2005 06:26 AM
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Rev. Al has a rather stinky history in NYC that the local tabloids never let anybody forget. Is he moving to the Left Coast to leave his past behind, to ply his influence where the local media doesn't know him, and get a fresh start?
Posted by: Scott Ferguson at March 16, 2005 07:43 AM
Oh that's just great ... I gotta sit on the
edge of my seat until you tie all that up?
That's not right.
Posted by: Steel Turman at March 16, 2005 10:32 AM
That's you, Cobb? You look sound different from the picture in the header.
Posted by: La Shawn at March 16, 2005 04:53 PM
Youe secret's safe with me. LOL!
Posted by: Juliette at March 16, 2005 08:50 PM
I ain't gonna forget that. I chafed my butt on
the edge of my seat. I've a mind to send you the
bill from the chafologist.
Posted by: Steel Turman at March 17, 2005 12:37 AM
I'm currently on a detroit to baltimore to la to philly to nyc to baltimore in the space of ten days tour. so i have some serious writing to do before i get to back to the blog. suffice it to say that within the space of a couple of paragraphs you did an excellent job of capturing a series of moments that i won't forget anytime soon.
dope is an understatement.
Posted by: Lester Spence at March 17, 2005 05:56 PM