Lots of people have reason to be afraid in the next four years, and there are some people who get a big kick out of that. Fuck them. We might feel like we’ve been kicked in stomach by Bruce Lee straight into a spear stuck on the wall. But we have to toughen up, do your thing, and use that thing to stand up and get in the faces of the people who feel they can tell us to sit down and shut up.
2017, do not fuck with me. I’m going into next year angry, and so are a lot of my friends.
I’ll forever know 2016 as The Year of Silenced Voices. The year we lost Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, not to mention all manner of actors, writers, is broadcasters, will be the year we lost Miss Sharon Jones.
I know the whole Daptone Records thing is sometimes seen as retro at best and white hipster appropriation at worst. I heard the some of the same criticisms of the so-called “Young Lions” of jazz back in the ’80s, who made music that Miles called “warmed-over turkey.” But I always appreciated the Daptone vibe and the aesthetic, and Sharon Jones will always be at the forefront of that in my mind.
I watched – more importantly, heard – that vibe in action in 2011, when Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings came to my neck of the woods. And after the show, I got to exchange words with Sharon and some of the other members of the band. I got to see firsthand what a true artistic collective looks like; how a group can make a single member’s voice shine and how that single member highlights the rest of the group. Sharon herself, of course, is one of the best examples I’ll ever encounter of someone who succeeds by fighting to do what she does, whether it’s ANR people’s perceptions or cancer. That, to me, was her magnetic je ne sais quoi.
Today’s playlist: the whole SJDK catalog. Probably for the rest of the week too, I think.
I’m a regular PBS Newshour viewer, going back to when Jim Lehrer was still running the show. I remember noticing near the end of his tenure, the growing prominence of Ifill, Judy Woodruff, and a few others. From my perspective, it was done quietly, almost subversively. I remember thinking for sure it’d be Margaret Warner at the desk after Lehrer left, but seeing Ifill and Woodruff center stage gave me real hope for the future of good reporting. Reporting that really sought to deliver us the news from as many different perspectives as possible.
People point to institutions (every institution, really) all the time with justified criticism, but most folks can point to individuals in those institutions who represent the ideal. The ones about whom even reasonable detractors can say, “If everyone in that instituion had the professional skills and personal integrity as X, I’d have no problem.”
Gwen Ifill was one of those folks. I’ll miss her presence and her voice, especially during these trying times.