Category Archives: Culture

Pendergrass at Live Aid: Tragedy, Revival and Philly

News of the death of Teddy Pendergrass found many of us posting videos of the singer at his prime, teasing live crowds with “Love TKO” and “Close the Door” as he sauntered the stage in his revealing custom white tank-top in ’79 and ’80.

This clip of singing-songwriter duo Ashford & Simpson bringing Pendergrass to the stage at the 1985 Live Aid concert for Ethiopian famine relief at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium brought chills back then and still does. Three years earlier, the brakes failed on the Rolls Royce that Pendergrass was driving through Philly’s northwest Germantown district, leading to an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. So in visual contrast to his heyday, Pendergrass comes on at Live Aid in a motorized wheelchair, the body he used to evoke such sensualized instincts in his audience now almost a heartbreaking redundancy.

Ashford & Simpson–who met at Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church in the mid-’60s–had made their songwriting careers specializing in both ecstatic love songs and grandiose, gospel-tinged tunes like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” The duo wrote the last as Diana Ross’s first solo single in 1969 as a strikingly plaintive plea for fellowship in contrast to, for example, the Temptations’ more confrontational “Ball of Confusion” during that year of Nixon, Manson, My Lai and Altamont. Sixteen years later, “Reach Out and Touch” seemed fitting again as cracks of compassion like Live Aid started showing through the Reagan/Thatcher/Gecko era of greed-is-good.

A&S reintroduce Pendergrass to his city in near church-meeting style, from Nick’s heartfelt build-up intro to the duo’s welcoming of the singer with upraised arms. By the time of his accident, Pendergrass had left Gamble & Huff’s CBS-subsidized Philadelphia International Records label–which had just been taken over by EMI–to record with Asylum. A bit of stretch, but maybe we can see this clip as A&S redelivering Pendergrass back to the City of Bro Love and the world.

Another reading: Pendergrass re-emerged in ’85 in this context of an elongated, natural-and-man-made crisis in continental Africa. News of his demise in ’10 came in against the heartbreaking background of an instant though similarly devastating natural crisis for the African-descended people of Haiti–another time for the world to reach out.


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Advertising in Israel: Sure, why not, YES!

Time Jerusalem blogger Tim McGirk’s notice
of McCann Erickson Israel’s irreverent use of the spectre of Iranian
president Ahmadinejad in a commercial for that country’s YES satellite
TV company led me to the massive and fascinating YouTube channel for Tel Aviv agency Mizbala, run by confessed “shameless copywriter” Dori.

It seems to feature the whole of McCann’s series of spots for YES, many of which seem to feature a hilarious Busby Berkeley-ish song-and-dance number extolling the virtues of YES programming.
Orthodox Jews singing “YMCA”? YES!
Full Metal Jacket the Musical? YES!
Chapelle-ishly edgy intersection of slavery & hip-hop imagery? YES! YES! YES!

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Filed under Ad/Biz, Culture, International, Music

The other Dirty South

UK-based social network site Bebo is packed with pages by kids repping (or claiming to rep) South London gangs, providing an interesting insight into the multiracial (AfrCarib, S. Asian, white) gangsta scene in the capitol (made up of apparently over 160 crewz). Gun & knife attacks are now running sky-high

Start here, and click on the Similar Stuff icons on the top of the page, and you’ll get the general picture. Among other observations:

  • Brixton (Brixx) is at war with Peckham (Pexx, Pecknarm, etc.)
  • These guys can make names like Woolwich Rd., Ladbroke Grove, Walthamstow, and Camberwell sound hard
  • Lots of international Blood/Crip infiltration, BUT where else but in London can there sprout a Yellow Brick Massive, or the impetus to make a gang color out of…yes…BEIGE??

Check out part of Ross Kemp’s chat w/some S. London boyz, and as a bonus, his exploration of London’s Tamil gang scene. Chili powder!


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Filed under Culture, International, Music, Race, Society

Great Bloggingheads diavlogs

As I’ve noted previously on this blog, these folks keep delivering some highly incisive stuff. Among others, check out:

John McWhorter
Glenn Loury

Author and Manhattan Institute scholar McWhorter and
Brown econ prof Loury throw a lot of things around, mostly about race ‘n’ politix, including how r
acism plays less of a role than race, ie white people are less scared of a black prez per se than an unfamiliar black prez surrounded by Farrakhans.

Raj Patel & Megan McArdle
Stuffed and Starved author Patel and Atlantic writer and econ blogger McArdle talk food ‘n’ politics, tackling topics like the World Bank and democracy, the downsides of food aid, and obesity. The occasional familial distractions that Patel experiences during the vlog show the cute idiosyncracies that B-heads makes possible.

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Cover this!

Ziggy vs. Reality

Ziggy vs. Reality

Designer Khoi Vin at Subtraction shows how rock stars’ album art gets shittier as they get older. Good thesis that bears out on the examples he shows.

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Filed under Culture, Music, Visual Art


Time Magazine Cairo correspondent Scott McLeod offers up a remarkable slideshow from Education City on the outskirts of Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Read it and weep, America–this is what can be done with a portion of the profits from a half-million barrels per day. Fourteen million square meters, branches of 5 major American universities. Proportionally, if Qatar can hook up one of these, we can do better than our single Education City of Boston—right?


Filed under Culture, International, Society



Turned off by the work ethic and productive American Dream values of their parents, hippies instead opted for a cowardly, irresponsible lifestyle of random sex, life-destroying drugs and mostly soulless rock music that flourished in San Francisco.

Ted Nugent, Wall St. Journal, 7/4/07

That Nadine, what a teenage queen
She lookin’ so clean, especi’lly down in between What I like
She come to town; she be foolin’ around
a puttin’ me down as a rock-and-roll clown
It’s all right
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
Wang dang, what a sweet poontang
a shakin’ my thang as a rang-a-dang-dang in the bell
She’s so sweet when she yanks on my meat
Down on the street you know she can’t be beat
What the hell
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang

Ted Nugent, “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”, 1977 

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