Monday, August 11, 2008

R.I.P.: Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes


Bernie Mac (Bernard Jeffrey McCullough) October 5, 1957 - August 9, 2008

I always had a hard time appreciating the rather perfect father that was Bill Cosby's Dr. Huxtable; his biggest flaw seemed to be a weakness for sweets. Bernie Mac's father-figure on the other hand, was all too human: patriarchal, egotistical, music loving ("don't touch my stereo, or my records...just don't touch anything!"), partial control freak, wrestling with his internalized sexism and homophobic, who is learning as he goes along as well as relying on the valuable the lessons learned from his grandmother and beloved uncle who turns out to really have been his father. Here is a man who ultimately truly loves his nieces and nephews, even if he has a hard time showing it all of the time in ways that make sense to them.

Also, he was a pretty man in the old sense of the word. It was more apparent before his illness caused his body to bloat, but Mac was a man who clearly liked a pedicure, a sharp haircut and a well-tailored suit. And who wouldn't say no to a facial, cause he wasn't ashamed to love himself that much. That's the version of a "pretty-man" that doesn't have anything to do with celebrating a man for his ability to charm women and then cast them off like so much used tissue, nor does it have anything to do with attempts to question his masculinity or put his sexuality in a negative light (pretty-men can be gay, straight, bisexual, trans, whatever). It's really about internal self-love and celebration, without abject narcissism, and all men need models for that.

Plus Mac was funny as all get out, even when I thought he was wrong, wrong, wrong. The great thing was that he created a character who could admit his need for self-examination and growth with the simple exasperated phrase, "you know I ain't right, America" when he was at the end of his rope with three very bright and independent minded children. Mac structured the show to include various instances of direct audience address from his character sitting in his favorite recliner. These segments often included even invited guest commentators such as former professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard on a show dealing with his attempts to "toughen up" his nephew. In this instance Leonard told Mac point blank he was a bully, and provided a video-play-by-play to back it up, as Mac pouted. In another instance Mac is convinced acting will be easy and he invites Angela Bassett to give him some advice, which he then shines on as she laughs full in his face. He created a character who was a responsible parent, an avowed king of his castle, but who could also be humble and admit he made mistakes.

I'll miss seeing Bernie Mac be Bernie Mac the character and the real life human being.

• Chicago Tribune obituary
• Coverage from the New Zealand Herald, with quotes from family and co-stars.
• Director Malcolm D. Lee talks about working with Mac and Hayes in the upcoming movie
Soul Men, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Mac as estranged soul singers who reunite after the death of their band leader.
E! Entertainment News coverage of remembrances from friend and colleagues.
New York Times obituary.



Isaac Hayes August 20, 1942 - August 10, 2008

There are some fortunate ones who got to see Mr. Black Moses open the annual Celebrate Brooklyn music and art festival earlier this summer.

• Obituary from timesonline.uk
• Concord Music Group statement click on "Enter Site"
• MTV coverage with recollections from Bootsy Collins and Aretha Franklin.
• New Music Express's "Top 5 Tracks that Sample Isaac Hayes"
• Houston Chronicle's profile of Hayes' genre-crossing artistic legacy.
Bold As Love offers links to Michael Gonzales' blog post remembrance, and Ann Power's LA Times obituary (as well as a fierce photo of Hayes).
New York Times obituary.


A slow-motion homage to Hayes the conductor; documentation of the recording session for "Shaft"




Hayes performing "Shaft" live in 1972 at Wattstax, with introduction by Rev. Jesse Jackson (who's having a hard time getting off the mic, ouch). Hayes is working the chain vest, melon-colored spandex pants, black and white striped furry boots, and aviator sunglasses (weren't the 70s great!)--and you couldn't tell him nothing! His band is hot right from the git, what a great group of musicians!




Hayes showing his gift for the extended arrangement on his performance of Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love"




And still working the floor-length chain vest, Hayes baritone pressing the yearning, with occasional falsetto for good measure, on his remake of the Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye" which like the Bacarach classic he makes his own (but this is a relatively brief version for the man who was working the "extended remix" concept before their was such a market category)

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8 Comments:

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Great Men of talent will be and are truly missed!! I am Glad that Hollywood allowed two Black American Men the opportunity to have positive images on television. In reality, there are Black Men that truly have the attributes of Mr.Mac and Mr. Hayes. I am proud of both of them, let their legacy continue and may their souls have eternal rest and peace.

R.I.P

From: A Native Black American Male from Chicago , Illinois

Rick

 
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