WENT TO THE NORTHEAST NEIGHBORS MEETING Monday evening, and they behaved themselves. But they were strong in offering their viewpoints, and I like that. Two speakers, Jeffrey Kiernan, Regional Public Affairs Manager for the League of California Cities, spoke about Gov. Brown’s attempts to speed housing development legislatively, but neither he nor Tim Harter, Senior Field Rep for Assemblymember Richard Bloom (and a Santa Monica resident), were very familiar with the LUVE initiative, or had even read it. What ever happened to doing your homework? Harter, in particular, looked a bit like a deer in the headlights when hit with a barrage of questions and declarations. Too many “I’ll get back to you on that”s. I hope he tells his boss that the natives are restless and ain’t gonna take it no more.
BASKETBALL JONES …
I got a basketball jones. And I’m going to let it take us on a journey from the hardwood court through the halls of music to the legal courts. Yes, it connects. I do sometimes know where I’m headed, and sometimes … I get there.
But hoops are history, you say, til next fall. Not so. The NBA draft selections are tomorrow night, and I can’t wait to see if the Lakers’ dunderhead General Manager Mitch Kupchak blows it again, like last year, like always. Instead of the obvious choice, Brandon Ingram of Duke, maybe he’ll choose, oh, who knows, me.
Don’t worry. I will turn down the offer, even though I’ve nearly recovered from my foot injury and my shooting has really improved lately. I will not play for new Laker coach Luke Walton, because I still remember him as the Laker player who was outstandingly awful, always making some boneheaded miscue within a minute or two of being put into a game. So he winds up with two championship rings, assistant coach of another championship team (Golden State Warriors), and now it’s back to Lakerland as our young new head coach. But it’s Jim Buss-land now, desolate and hopeless, and it’s not going to be pretty.
Yesterday our LA Sparks played the Minnesota Lynx, and I probably watched, I’m pretty sure I did, because the Sparks, WNBA champions in 2001 and ’02 but nothin’ since, have started this year undefeated through 11 games. The Lynx, though, have won their first 12. It’s the first time in any major sport, ever, that two teams, undefeated with at least 10 wins and no losses or ties (thanks, soccer), have met.
OH, THE DRAMA, REAL DRAMA
See, that’s the point. The human drama. The weight of history. The spectacle of titans clashing for their place in the Pantheon. The good guys don’t always win.
Although hoops is the only sport I really follow, and watch, and play, what I love about all sports is that spectacle. And the unpredictability. Even when the worst plays the first, no one can say for sure what the outcome will be. It’s true reality TV.
Staying with sports and working our way toward prison, Bill Cosby was a four-sport star in high school and college, and as a TV entertainer came up with the animated series “Fat Albert” in the ’70s, based on his childhood. It was a breakthrough in several ways, and a hit.
The animation style of “Fat Albert” was taken up (and exaggerated) by stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong when they made their 1973 animation for their song “Basketball Jones,” starring Tyrone Shoelaces. It was a parody of the hit song “Love Jones” by the Brighter Side of Darkness, the only time a parody charted higher than the hit it parodied. (Eat your heart out, Weird Al.)
In digging it out and being reminded how funny and prescient it was (predicted Nixon’s impeachment), I was amazed to discover the stellar musicians who played on it. Credit famous producer Lou Adler — Monterrey Pop Festival, “Tapestry,” the Mamas and the Papas, “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and the first Spirit album (in my Top 10), which includes “Taurus,” the song being litigated as we speak, in LA, as being the one Led Zeppelin ripped off into “Stairway to Heaven,” all half a billion (yes, billion) dollars worth. That one song. All three living Zeps in court, Page with guitar. THAT’S the jury I wanted to be on!
HEY, GEORGE … CAROLE …
Adler called some friends over who were recording across the hall at his A&M Studios in Hollywood, so instead of just Tommy Chong on piano with Cheech singing falsetto, it features George Harrison, Billy Preston, Carole King, Klaus Voorman (Beatle guy), Nicky Hopkins (Stones), Tom Scott, Jim Keltner, the Blossoms featuring Darlene Love, Mama Michelle Phillips, and Ronnie Spector.
“They made up the track right on the spot,” said Cheech. He said George Harrison commented, “Oh, those are very good chords. I’ll have to nick those.” Chong: “That session Cheech and I ended up on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Court and Spark’ album (‘Twisted’).”
Adler is also the die-hard Laker fan who always sits next to Jack but never gets mentioned. That’s dumb. So back to sports.
Everyone told me recently, you have to watch “OJ: Made in America,” it’s so well done. I resisted. My first reaction was, no thanks, I’ve had enough OJ to last a lifetime.
You see, I could have been on the jury for his civil trial. I had my summons for jury duty, in Santa Monica, just as that jury was being selected. In those days you could easily beg off, and I did, and I’m glad. I was sickened by the whole idea of such a vicious murderer getting off because he had a star legal team, and celebrity. (Yes — I know — if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. What a sad joke on our justice system.) And I was sick of the never ending barrage of coverage and analysis.
People said Charles, you could’ve written a book! More likely I’d have wound up being known as the guy who was thrown off the OJ trial for falling asleep.
There is no happy ending here folks, for this olympian sports hero fallen so low. But as the TV doc shows, everything he did led up to this. No happy outro song. Just prison stripes blues, and two dead people and shattered lives left behind.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’ve got murder in my heart for the judge.” —Moby Grape
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.