The Friday Five

Not as much locally to talk about this week, as I spent a long weekend in Richmond, but still some fun stuff to talk about:

What I’m Watching: Just watched Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Highly recommend. Love movies about people who aren’t the most talented or most gifted, but simply the most determined, and if there was any one word that described Rudy Ray Moore, it was “determined”. Reminded me of another Rudy. And the acting is terrific. Eddie Murphy is at his best, and Wesley Snipes is just terrific.

What I Learned This Week: That Ballad of a Thin Man by Bob Dylan was one of the main theme songs of the Black Panthers. From an article on Red Bull Music Academy: The song’s lyrics, which describe a man who enjoys watching circus geek shows, struck a chord with (Huey P.) Newton. He saw the titular character, Mr. Jones, as an upper class white man who indulged in exploring the black ghetto on Sunday afternoons to check out the prostitutes and inhabitants of the decaying community. The fictional Mr. Jones was a voyeur of sorts, and got off on watching what Newton called a freak show...According to Newton, the circus freaks mentioned in the song, including the sword swallower and the one-eye midget, represent the disadvantaged ghetto residents who aren’t interested in serving as entertainment for Mr. Jones. They instead demand payment for a trick or some food or drink. Otherwise, they’d like Mr. Jones to shove off and go home.

What I’m Reading: Great 1985 Esquire piece on Dr J. Interesting dude, and a great article. Can’t imagine too many elite athletes today discussing the tenets of religion with a reporter.

But it wasn’t until our discussion in his office, during a laborious spiel of mine concerning the duty of the seeker to examine the varieties of religious experience, that Julius began to get pissed.

“I just can’t agree,” he said, “because even if you do manage to synthesize all these systems, what good is it going to do you? Even if you’re the smartest man on earth, even if you’re Albert Einstein, you’ll still only have a thimbleful of all the knowledge in the world. Where does that lead you? Digging and grinding on this unbelievable quest? Is there happiness in that? So it comes down to making concessions … down to knowing you’re not the wisest or the smartest, not the ultimate of anything, but knowing too that you have this powerful need to grasp something meaningful, something purposeful … you want a way, a way that makes sense for you, that you can embrace.”

The guy who wrote it, Marc Jacobson, would 15 years later do a piece on Franck Lucas that would be the inspiration for American Gangster. Also worth a read.

The lychee martini at Xiandu.

Where I’m eating and drinking: Xiandu Thai. I’ve really come to love this place over the past few months. My move is to get their for pickup before 7, have a Happy Hour cocktail while I wait for my takeout, and then come home a conquering hero with terrific Thai food. Get the lychee martini! This past time I got the the drunken noodles and the pineapple fried rice, but no matter what I get there it’s great. It’s my favorite Thai place in Philly.

Goofy Little Project I’m Working On: I started this awhile back, took a long break, and just started back on it. I’m a huge fan of the book Travels in Philadelphia by Christopher Morley (you can read the entire book online, though I’d suggest you get a physical copy if you really like it.) I decided awhile back to start an instagram page where I went back to places he wrote about in the late 1910s for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger and take pictures of them 100 years later. Kind of fun to see what’s changed and what’s the same after this much time.