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Midnight on Christmas Eve and I’m alone I think for the first Christmas ever – no family, the girlfriend has gone off to see hers, just me and the cats lounging. The mood swings back and forth from relief and joy to loneliness and boredom. I’m not used to being alone any night of the week these days. But I’ve got some delicious pizza and a stack of DVD’s and no Christmas pressure.
I had spent the night before playing a game with the old gang in which the players get to kill Santa in the name of the Catholic Church.
“Wait, wait, wait…. If the Vatican kills Santa it’ll make him a martyr – but if the GOVERNMENT kills him he’ll be a terrorist!” to paraphrase RVI from a moment in the game that inspired a room full of giggles.
Santa was successfully vanquished and his toy factory destroyed. Then I hopped in my car and sped home, listening to a special Christmas edition of the Hour of Slack on WREK. They did a fine job skewering the season.
“Wait, isn’t this holiday supposed to be about Jesus? But I can’t remember if we’re celebrating his birth or when they nailed him to the manger…”
So Christmas Eve midnight passes while I write the paragraph above. Have a Very Merry Unbirthday, Jesus, ‘cause this ain’t really your birthday, it’s just the day the Church moved it to so it’d interfere with the real reason for the season, the pagan celebration of solstice.
Another glass of wine and I’m too sleepy to make it through the kung fu movie that was next on the heap. Off to bed with visions of sugarplum faeries dancing in my head.
In the morning I get a call. SW tells me James Brown is dead, pneumonia and heart failure, Christmas Day. I’m not sad. The man burned long and bright and it’s a miracle he survived his own excesses. I feel fortunate that I got to see him perform once, not long after he was released from one of his multiple stints in prison, at one of the Music Midtown festivals. Even in his 60's he put on a great show.
So I stepped into the living room and put on his greatest hits CD. It reminded me of something I meant to write down a couple of weeks back but neglected when I forgot to look at my notes after the Cadillac Jones show.
One of their tunes had inspired me to imagine going back in time to 1977 to do Star Wars as a blaxplotation musical. I imagined George Clinton as Obi Wan, the wise mystic. Bootsy Collins is clearly the man for Han Solo, the smiling scoundrel. His overgrown sidekick, Chewbacca, would be Barry White, the camel-like groan replaced with Barry’s velvet baritone. The fresh-faced Luke, a boy with a wandering spirit in need of training, could only be one guy in 1977 – Prince. And who would turn out to be his father, the dark and mysterious man with a criminal past, Darth Vader? James Brown, of course.
The James Brown CD was too much for my stereo – it committed seppuku with a tiny pop right at the end of “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and the room returned to silence.
If I believed in the judgmental God of fundamentalist Christians, I wouldn't believe James would sleep in heavenly peace. He'd be dancing up a sweaty storm on stage in hell right now. And one of these days I'd be writhing in the pit in the front row, grinning ear to ear.
Hallelujah and Amen.
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