Friday, October 07, 2011

A Little Balm at the Bistro

Music is a universal balm and it proved just so in our household last night, where news of the death of Derrick Bell came with particular force. My wife, Anita, was especially close to Derrick and his first wife, Jewel. Anita had worked with and then succeeded Jewel as director of the African American Student Center at Tufts University. So when Anita suggested we go hear some music after work today, we headed over to Favor Bistro on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, where Hubb’s Groove has a steady gig on Thursdays.

We were finishing dinner as the band trickled in and began to set up. Their demeanor suggested the easy familiarity of four guys who gathered in the basement two hours before kickoff every autumn Sunday: you could see these cats were friends.

The musical dividend of their effortless camaraderie was apparent with the first notes as they quickly settled into an eponymous groove on what memory tells me was a Stanley Turrentine standard. Their comfortably-paced two-hour set also included songs by Stevie Wonder, Grover Washington and Herbie Hancock.

The quartet was an altogether sterling unit comprising Phil Jones on electric piano, Gary Stevenson on bass, Tony Watson on soprano and alto sax, and Robert Hubbard on drums. After a couple of straight ahead numbers, Hubbard appeared to suggest the band would later get into some of the smooth jazz that is also in their repertoire but that never happened. The musicians were having so much fun doing what they love: finding a groove and working it.

It worked for the rest of us too.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Three Giants Leave the Stage

This is a day for sober reflection. In short order the US — and the world — has lost three giants: Steve Jobs, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Derrick Bell. All were men of vision and principle who persevered through defeat and emerged triumphant.

Steve Jobs' succinct and memorable 2005 commencement address at Stanford University was just on WCPN 90.3/FM [NPR]. I suggest that whatever your current stage of life, you take 15 minutes to listen to perhaps the best such talk I have ever heard. The talk consists of three deeply personal stories — one on birth, one on life, one on death. They are honest, vivid, and gut-grabbing.

I went looking for the link on NPR at the request of my wife, who wanted it for her SAGES course on Movers and Shakers at Case Western Reserve University, but my friend Ken Lumpkin sent me a twofer: both the text and video are here.

Derrick Bell was a pioneer legal scholar and activist who consistently forsook personal gain for the greater good. He gave up privileged positions because he knew his sacrifices would benefit those who would come after him.

Perhaps he was inspired by the example of Fred Shuttlesworth, who as a young minister in 1950s Birmingham, Alabama repeatedly put himself in harm's way to protest the US apartheid system and to agitate for a new society.

Who among us could not learn from these giants?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Free tickets to tonight's showing of 'American Teacher'

If you were slow in getting tickets to the Cleveland community screening of American Teacher,  showing tonight at 7PM at the Capitol Theater, on West 65 Street at Gordon Square, we have two free tickets for the first person to request them via the comment section. 

American Teacher is the feature-length documentary produced and directed by Academy Award–winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth ; produced by Nínive Calegari, co-founder of the literacy non-profit 826 National, and best-selling author Dave Eggers ; and narrated by Academy Award-winner Matt Damon. It is based on the New York Times bestseller by Eggers, Calegari and Cleveland’s own Dan Moulthrop of Civic Commons.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Coincidence? Browns' loss coterminous with FirstEnergy outage

"An equipment problem at an electric substation in Euclid caused a power outage Sunday afternoon for FirstEnergy Corp. customers in Cleveland Heights and parts of Euclid and South Euclid.

The first reports of power being lost came in at about 2 p.m., according to a FirstEnergy spokesman. FirstEnergy crews repaired the problem, which occurred at a Euclid substation, and restored power to all areas by about 3:45 p.m."

The Browns were losing 14-6 when the power went off at my house yesterday. The host team did not score again until after power returned, by which time they were trailing 31-6.