Odds & Ends

Plus: A tribute to Rick James

In last week's Across the Bar, we reported on the July 25 incident at the Gypsy Tea Room that left a divorced father of three paralyzed from the waist down. Although the suspect has not yet been caught by police, several readers e-mailed to ask what they could do for the victim (who has repeatedly requested that his name not be published), as well as what they could do about safety issues at the Gypsy Tea Room and, more generally, Deep Ellum. The latter is a report for another time. The former, however, can be addressed pronto. A benefit fund has been set up in the man's name and handled by the church's Brent Barry. Please send donations to Northridge Presbyterian Church, attn: Brent Barry, 6920 Bob O Link, Dallas, TX 75214.

The stories of Deep Ellum crime, however, didn't seem to prevent crowds from congregating at the Gypsy last weekend. Saturday night saw a healthy showing in the ballroom for local acts Choris Romance, A Week of Tuesdays, the Now and Envoy, a surprisingly solid young rock band that just may be Dallas' answer to Radiohead. The five-piece (including one glorious-sounding cello) has a masterful hold on rock's secret weapon No. 315, dynamics. Expect good things from these kids.

Speaking of expecting good things: Mike Schoder's eagerly anticipated Granada Theater opens Wednesday. Among the reported innovations are kinder, gentler security (with shirts that read "Serenity") and--at long last--earlier shows during the week. So people who have, like, jobs can actually go see shows without getting home at 2:30 a.m. bleary-eyed and frustrated. So far, the lineup is looking promising, with upcoming shows from The Gourds, Guster and (everyone rush for the phone at once) Wilco. Tickets for that September 17 show are going quickly, though.

Congratulations to Chomsky, who played a spot on Craig Kilborn's Late Late Show on Tuesday night, as this paper was going to press. Guys, you sounded totally _____ when you played "______." I know it seemed a little _____ at first, but then things really _______ed big-time. Right awn!

In Memory (of a Super Freak)

I don't have much to say about Rick James. My coming-of-age coincided with his downfall; since then, he's offered glimpses into a life that seemed in constant freefall--druggy, violent, desperate, sad. While I was surprised to hear of his death last week, at 56, from "natural causes," it didn't elicit much in me. I did, however, receive this dispatch from one of our freelance writers, who had a different take on James' life and death. Here it is.

"Unlike Ray Charles, there won't be a lot of lengthy, laudatory biographical stories about Rick James' importance to American music. James, as fine a musician as he was, doesn't really stand up well against Charles in terms of musicianship and innovation. James' star power, if there ever was any, scarred over long ago into infamy, not unlike the scars he put on that girl's body with a hot pipe. Even if it did put some greenbacks in his account, it still hurts me--if it didn't James--that his biggest hit will always be connected to MC Hammer.

What most of us will be left with is Dave Chappelle's brilliant satire of James. Even though the skit takes particular aim at James' cocaine habit and his penchant for abusing women, the picture we get of James is not only humorous but also humanizing. As James Wood writes in his new book The Irresponsible Self, the best narratives are not the ones that make us laugh with superiority at the failures of lamentable characters but instead the ones that make us laugh because of some recognition of our own human faults. I'm not saying we're all crackheads (or that we hold women hostage to drug-addled sexual torture), but sometimes, as Jamie Foxx says, we all act a little crackish.

Rick James made some fine-ass music. In the early '80s his nasty bass lines helped me learn what the Bump was really about.

She don't lie: Cocaine is a powerful drug.

May the freak be with all y'all." --Walton Muyumba

 
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