Friday, December 29, 2006

Goo But Not Forgotten

There is a debate over whether or not it was appropriate to televise the open casket of James Brown during the viewing at the Apollo Theater. Maybe I am desensitized by the countless figures displayed at Mme. Tussaud’s Wax Museum, but that was the last thing I found disturbing about the wake. The funeral procession, for example, had a lot of potential. With a horse-drawn carriage and thousands of viewers, I expected eyes welled up with tears and Elton John’s voice to waft over the crowd, “Good bye Jimmy Brown…” But there were no bowed heads. Instead the crowd was cheering! Were they glad to see him go? He owed that many people money? Maybe he was a tyrannical dictator. Only his assistant knows for sure. “And it seemed to me you lived your life like a paper bag of gin. Dry and crinkly, full of liquor, with a crazy spin…”

Cut to his arrival at the theater where people are comfortably squatting in lawn chairs like for one of his concerts. “He always makes me wait like this. But it’s worth it to be near him. I’m gonna ask him to sign my velvet portrait when he’s done.” How about Professional Casket Guard Reverend Al Sharpton who was babysitting the stage like a watchful club bouncer? Maybe he just wanted to see what happens to his hair when he’s sleeping. I’ll admit, seeing James Brown lay still is unsettling, but is there anything creepier than his mug shots over the years? That is a plastic terror I will never forget. Why he was dressed like a 1940s bell hop is beyond me, but maybe it was a clause in the first contract he ever signed. The icing on the cake was that the sign next to the body had a soft, rounded, capital D, celebrating “THE GOO FATHER”. The Goo Father of Soup, ladies and gentlemen. Raise a spoon.