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Friday, December 29, 2006

Not Enough Brown; More Than Enough Ford

posted by on December 29 at 12:25 PM

Gerald Ford means nothing to America. He contributed jack to the culture. He is the emptiness that came; and emptiness that went. With or without him, we would still be the same America. This can not be said about the Soul Brother Number One.
James+Brown.jpg But the way the newspapers in America are going on about Ford, you’d think he actually gave birth to something that has now become crucial to how we feel and think as Americans. But the way he is now is the way he was back then: a vacuum! The story of his life should have been nothing more than a news brief, and the main of the media’s attention should have been lavished on the real importance, the real substance, an actual 20th century hero, James Brown. But the white press just couldn’t do it. These whites who listen to Brown everyday of their fucking lives, dance to his songs at their fucking weddings—and never had Ford enter their fucking thoughts until the hour he kicked the fucking bucket—they gave their big space to an absolute zero. Why? Because he is white and nothing else. Damn you all.

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From the movie Black Ceaser: Lyrics by James Brown (may he rest in funky peace)and this playing as his theme on the way to the hereafter.


1-2-get down

Pay the cause to be the boss
Pay the cause to be the boss
Pay the cause to be the boss

Look at me
you know what you see,
you see a bad mutha
Look at me
you know what you see,
you see a bad mutha

Pay the cause to be the boss
Pay the cause to be the boss
heh!told you so!
told you so!

Havin fun, fooling around
Havin fun, got money to boot

Cause pay the cause to be the boss X3
turned my back uhh!

Pay the cause to be the boss
Im a bad mutha
Im a bad mutha

Head for the turn around
Head for the turn around
told you so

Pay the cause to be the boss...

Posted by sputnik | December 29, 2006 12:36 PM

I'm sorry, Charles. You are absolutely right and it makes me very sad. James Brown is an icon, second only to Louis Armstrong in importance in American music, and the very short list for American culture.

Posted by Fnarf | December 29, 2006 12:40 PM

It really is sad how little ink has been given to James, especially compared to Ford.

Posted by Explorer | December 29, 2006 12:58 PM

Amen, Charles. And RIP, JB.

Posted by RedYeti | December 29, 2006 1:04 PM

Any truth to the rumor that Betty had to go into rehab because Gerry had smacked her around at home?

Posted by anome | December 29, 2006 1:04 PM

I think it also has something to do with the blind obesquience so many people want to give to certain political figures. You know they're still a little nolstagic for monarchy.

Posted by Jennifer | December 29, 2006 1:10 PM


Posted by josh | December 29, 2006 1:15 PM

I think it has to do with the greater legitimacy we grant politics vs. the lesser legitimacy we grant arts and entertainment (and, if we dig deeper, the arbitrary line we draw between "high" art and "low" art). The catch, of course, is that the political sphere is as much an arbitrary construct as art and music are; the first governs civility while the others parse out more individuated abstractions like personality, sexuality, psychology, and spirituality.

Posted by thelyamhound | December 29, 2006 1:21 PM

Breaking news: Former President Gerald Ford, eaten by senseless wolves...

Let me play the (white) devil's advocate here, Charles.

I watched the news last night (oh boy) and there was a lengthy piece on James Brown's viewing at the Apollo. It included shots of how many people waited however long just for a chance to see him, it included commentary from Rev. Al Sharpton on the GFOS's impact on the world... I don't think it gave him a short shrift at all.

And there was a smaller piece on Gerald Ford in that same news broadcast that included his recorded comments about how he feels that his former advisers and the current President made serious mistakes in the justification for the current situation in Iraq.

(And can someone please tell me why people keep telling Bob Woodward things that he's not supposed to tell anyone until they're dead?)

Was Gerald Ford important? He was a United States President--and there haven't been all that many of those. He is unique in how he wasn't elected to be vice-president or president--but took on those duties in the wake of ever increasing scandals.

And whether or not you agree with HOW he managed the post-Watergate crisis, the fact is that he was charged to do it...and the country held together. The fact that his presidency was so uneventful and unremarkable is incredible.

As far as James Brown goes--I tend to agree with you. Second, perhaps, only to Muhammad Ali...he transcended his original (and extraordinary) talents to make deep cultural and socio-political impact.

But, to quote Stetsasonic: Tell the truth...James Brown was old until Eric B and Rakim came out with "I Got Soul"...

One Dan Hartman-penned hit from the cheesiest Rocky movie...and a great collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa not withstanding--what James Brown gave us over the past twenty five years have been tales of drug-fueled misadventure and misogyny.

Does that erase all that he did and all that he meant before--no, of course not.

In the end, I think each passing is noteworthy--and I can't say that anyone is being ignored by the media... I suppose one can find racism in everything, but I disagree that this is an egregious case of it.


PS--The lyrics to "The Boss"--I know that one on-line lyric site has it the way that Sputnik wrote it...but that doesn't mean that it's accurate. Shouldn't it be "pay the COST to be the boss"? (There's at least one on-line lyric site that has it that way.)

Posted by pgreyy | December 29, 2006 1:33 PM

Charles, you are a pompous, un-American fuckwit. Here's why.

Would you honestly rather your son grew up to be a good musician/drug abuser/people abuser? Or president?


Posted by frederick r | December 29, 2006 1:35 PM

if there's anything we should remember gerald ford for, it's for not beating his wife, not groping his employees, and not threatening people with knives.

he did destroy america, yes, but you don't get a batshit crazy mugshot for that.

Posted by jamier | December 29, 2006 1:36 PM

The worst thing to read about Ford's "legacy" is how his pardon of Nixon "healed" the nation. What the fuck? It probably did more damage to this country's mindset than the Watergate incident itself!

2 years of break-ins, rigged elections, Congressional hearings, indictments, and Ford washes it all away. *That* fucked up the country's mentality but good for a long fact it still is somewhat residual to this day. And this horse shit is being spoken by people who were alive and were presumably functioning adults in the '70s, which I was not.

No, in a week, we will all have forgotten Gerald Ford once again, and for good this time. But James Brown's influence on American pop culture and music will be forever felt and remembered.

Posted by laterite | December 29, 2006 1:42 PM

Nice to see a few trolls made it in here, too.

Posted by laterite | December 29, 2006 1:46 PM

Oh yeah. This post is totally spot on. I haven't seen like, one mention of James Brown in the media. What an outrage. What a tragedy. White people, man.

Posted by Wells | December 29, 2006 1:55 PM

James Brown is a wife beater. I hope he rots in hell.

Posted by Kim | December 29, 2006 1:58 PM

James Brown had the bad luck to die at the same time as a U.S. President. The press doesn't go on and on about dead presidents because they're white, but because they're presidents. The world you're imagining, where press coverage of dead people is based on some lofty idea of their impact on the current culture, is a silly fantasy. The racist angle here is absurd. If fucking Beethoven had died the same week as Ford, you can bet he would have been given short shrift on the front page too.

This all assumes, of course, that you're right about the lack of coverage of Brown's death, which you're not.

To wit--Google News hits for Gerald Ford: 8,109. Hits for James Brown: 17,719.

Posted by Silly | December 29, 2006 2:00 PM

I must have halucinated all that news coverage this week, and that NY Times front page this morning.

Posted by Art | December 29, 2006 2:06 PM

Gerald Ford set the precedent for high crimes going unpunished. The Republicans in 1973 knew he would, that is why they picked him. Plus, he said the Iraq war was a mistake to Bob Woodward two years ago but asked that not be made public until after his death. How many more deaths occurred in Iraq thanks to this 'influential statesman' holding his tongue?

What an asshole.

I have been watching TV and reading the papers (things I do very intermittently) for the last two days and seen nothing but, yes, Jennifer, monarchist paeans to Ford, while the only coverage of Brown I have seen has been of his death (Tuesday) and his funeral (today). Not to minimize Brown's personal problems: yes, he was abusive to his wife. But Ford smacked every one of us, and it stings (more than ever) even now.

Brown brought joy into the lives of millions. Ford simply abetted the pain inflicted on millions. No one in the mainstream media is even entertaining the possibility of a second opinion on this. It is high time to stop giving these evildoers lip service and the benefit of the doubt. Ford was a puppet, a vicious lackey in the guise of a genial old man; Brown was a visionary with personal problems. I know which I'd rather be, and which I'd rather die than be.


Posted by Grant Cogswell | December 29, 2006 2:06 PM

James Brown is a wife beater. I hope he is forgiven in heaven.

Posted by David Schmader | December 29, 2006 2:07 PM

Make it known: The Stranger mind prefers wife beaters to ineffective Presidents.

Posted by Wells Oliver | December 29, 2006 2:14 PM

#10 Listen up..
At least James Brown came from the heart and soul and reprisented us common folk in america black and white. His music got white girls and white boys to get off hteir funky asses and try and relate to where the soul was comming from. The inner cityof Chicago, Motown, New York, the will for the southern black youth to get out of the slavery mentality and rise up against the establishment.
Music fueled that fire and Passion to get whites and blacks together, whether it was at the voting booth, Dance hall, or the bedroom.
Presidents are usually all talk no action until the people demand it. James Brown got people to relate and feel good just as that Martin Luther King speech, I have a dream "where little black boys and little white girls" get off their funky ass and Jam.
Get it.
On the otherhand Presidents didn't do nothing....if they did they could or would have brought the Hammer down on the KKK back. Oh a court allowed this here a court allowed that there... slowly(even though they had power- hell they got us into WW2, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, south america, Iraq)

James Brown soul brought blacks and whites loving his music together a lot quicker than some speech about civil rights. Music gets people to listen and act and feel something more about themselves and others than a fucking Poltician. James Brown spoke volumes.

Posted by sputnik | December 29, 2006 2:15 PM

#16 - "The press doesn't go on and on about dead presidents because they're white, but because they're presidents. The racist angle here is absurd."

When will we ever have a black president?

Yeah, the racist angle is just absurd.

Posted by Vote JB | December 29, 2006 2:23 PM

#16 see #8

JB would have gotten no more or less coverage had no one of import died the same week... so, perhaps you might think of the good luck of JB dying on Christmas day. Easier to remember that way. In many homes around the world, I Feel Good will drown out Silent night. Merry JBmas everyone... just remember to be nice.

Posted by herethere | December 29, 2006 2:58 PM

"It really is sad how little ink has been given to James, especially compared to Ford."

So very wrong. Do you actually buy and read a newspaper? Which one? The Seattle Times ran a JB obit, followed by a JB appreciation, followed by the wife-locked-out item, followed by Spike Lee directing the biopic, followed by the Apollo theater item. That's a lot of James.

Maybe you should buy local instead of relying on McUSA Today.

Ford's an ex-president, and whether you like him or not, he is going to get his two open pages. I'm sure it's hard to stomach this thought, but when GW goes, he'll get his ink too.

I'm sure space is being reserved for Sadaam right this very minute.

Posted by Hypnotwist | December 29, 2006 2:58 PM

It's "Paid the cost". That is if one can trust the liner notes to Brown's album.
Yeah Charles I am sure that the only reason the media is paying attention to Ford is because he was white. That is why whenever any white person dies anywhere he gets the same treatment as Ford is getting right now.
Both men were probably pretty big assholes in person but you are right about one thing Brown did make a bigger contribution to culture, but this may not be a good thing.
Brown's music is top notch but unfortunately it is also the source of 95% of the samples in Hip-Hop.

Posted by brand new bag | December 29, 2006 3:35 PM

Brown was a great musician/singer but there is no way in hell he was a hero. Neither man was. I'm not going to give you the traditional "heroes are firemen etc." but none of my heroes slap their wives around, at least not that I'm aware of.

Posted by A Brown Ford | December 29, 2006 3:37 PM

Sorry, Hypnotwist- bad choice of words on my part.

"It really is sad how little ink credit has been given to James, especially compared to Ford."

I don't read USA Today, but I do read the Times, the P-I and the Heralds of both Bellingham and West Seattle. Have you checked out Assumptive Asshole Quarterly?

Posted by Explorer | December 29, 2006 3:39 PM


What the fuck? I'm as commonfolk as any other commonfolk. And no, some wifebeating drug addict who runs from state troopers and wears an asinine, straightened-nap haircut does not represent me, whether he is black, white, Jewish or Michiganese. His music was and is cool. But the man himself was offensive.

And it's stupid to compare him to Gerald Ford just because they died the same week. Fuck. I hope I don't die this week.

Posted by frederick r | December 29, 2006 3:55 PM

I hope Jerry Brown doesn't die anytime soon.

Posted by DOUG. | December 29, 2006 4:06 PM

The fucking repressive dead beat 70s and the coked up me me 80s probably took there toll on James Brown( not excusing him on the beating but ahem just stating )

I was responding and going with my gut that Music, and I name James Brown because it is relevant to topic, is a what seems to motivate people in this country together ( Clubs up in hartlem, Jazz clubs in Frisco, New Orleans) of different nationalities and race more so than the Politicians. So I repeat but i'll change the words.... Politicians ride on the coat tales of what us common folk need and want. if they do so otherwise they are not reppresenting. Unless its good ol whitefolk that like ol timey music like the Swing er sisters voting in (slow on civil rights ) characters like FDR and so on or the funky putting a foot up the politicians asses (60s civil rights era).
Just arguing music is a motivator for change and it demands it quick wehter people want it or not. Common white girls got into James Brown and Chuck Berry on the radio and fantisized about common black soul singers despite what Klu Klux Gramps said.
Oh but some politician got that girl to fantasize... my ass.
Music is sex, love, life, and emotion and that all I got to say.
Other factors are there and great people yes, but it is not the icing on the cake. The 50s and 60s was the Battlefront and rockn roll and jazz shook it up. I'm sure Lennon would agree. We faded out in the 70s and 80s and so did Brown. So what. He kept it funky.

Posted by sputnik | December 29, 2006 4:25 PM

Would I want my son to grow-up and be a version of Ford or Bush (1 or 2), who pardoned vicious criminals and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people? Or, would I rather him, like James Brown, bring music and joy to the world while challenging EVERYONE to rise above the limitations of racism and stereotypes? Which would I feel more proud of?

What a damn no-brainer. (On the other hand Ford may have been happier. Brown was driven by his art. Those whipped by their muse aren't always the happiest people.)

P.S. Does Brown have an history of violence against women other than this one incident when he was 70?

Posted by mirror | December 29, 2006 4:34 PM

lets see Punk vs Disco (70s era)
New Wave vs Hip Hop(80s)

and back then JAzz , Blues, Bluegrass, Rock abilly and rock and roll and so on were fused. No scism in peoples brains. There was debate but not a scism. So WTF happened in the 70s and 80s to divide what civil rights and all the artists try to achieve. Notthing but Bollocks. I'm drunk now and just reiterating my Point.
And I know shit was fucked up back then but did the politicians bring the little white boys and black girls togehter? . did it bring the black boys and white girls together? no it didn't , not like Music did.
CBGB newyork ( white) Studio 54(nd white) so there.

Posted by sputnik | December 29, 2006 4:37 PM

I'm still bitter that John Ritter didn't get the media attention he so richly deserved merely because he happened to die a day before Johnny Cash.

Ignorant fuckwit media bastards!!!

Posted by gkb | December 29, 2006 4:42 PM

Charles, let it go.

I'm as nauseated as anyone over the media fawning over Gerald Ford. Talk about revisionist history with rose colored glasses. *gag* But former presidents -- even accidental, boring, Nixon-pardoning presidents -- get splashy state funerals. With any luck, in about 40 we'll give President Obama an equally lavish send off.

And even if you don't think James Brown is getting his fair share of newsprint, you yourself acknowledged that most of us, regardless of race, have all but forgotten Ford was even alive, and most of us, regardless of race, are very familiar with James Brown's music, and listen to it regularly.

Take heart in the knowledge that in 20 years, people will still remember James Brown and still listen to his music. Maybe even 50 years from now. Gerald Ford, on the other hand, will quickly fade back in to obscurity, and nobody will remember him at all in about two weeks.

Truly, despite the drugs and spousal abuse, James Brown will have a far more lasting influence on American culture than Gerald Ford ever dreamed of having.

Posted by SDA in SEA | December 29, 2006 5:41 PM

tell em why you mad son!!

Posted by lar | December 29, 2006 5:43 PM

As usual Charles you seem to be NOT spot on. Again!
Lot's of James Brown coverage here in Canada. CANADA Charles! You know "The Great White North". Would you like to turn the "Great White North" statement into something anti Black. The Newspapers are white paper with black printing on them but there is less black print than the white paper it is printed on. Why don't you spin that into racism too. Hmmm let me think of some other ridiculous things to make look racist. Oh ya, snow. It is everywhere now days.
Let it go!

Posted by Brian | December 30, 2006 9:24 AM

And in more JB news, farewell tour ends today. Still not enuf?

BTW, name-calling: always an effective way to get your point across, explorer.

" Have you checked out Assumptive Asshole Quarterly?

Posted by Explorer - December 29, 2006 03:39 PM "

Posted by Hypnotwist | December 30, 2006 9:52 AM

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