1.01.2007

The Godfather, The President and The Dictator

Old folks, or those older than me, have always said that deaths come in threes. Well, we got quite a triumvirate this past Christmas weekend.

On the first day of 2007, as we mark the loss of 3000 troops dead, and 22,000 wounded in this illegal war in Iraq, we also lost James Brown, and former President Gerald Ford.

The third member of the big three went quietly but not willingly. He was ushered out kicking and screaming. That would be Saddam Hussein, who was hanged for crimes against his people. He was buried Sunday, in the town of his birth.

Brown, not that you’d know it, had a connection to the City of Cincinnati. He began his recording career at King Records, which was based right here in the Queen City. King Records is long forgotten. The only evidence are the many still existing vinyl records in my collection and the collections of others, bearing the King label.

My favorite album, was Brown’s “Live” at the Apollo, recorded October 24th, 1962, but pressed right here in Cincinnati. I was twelve and would put on that album and dream of being old enough to be in the audience when performers like Brown took to the stage.

I’m surprised it’s still in such good shape, because I literally wore the grooves out playing it over and over.

I think it would help the city resurrect its image by remembering what Brown and King Records in particular, meant to the music industry and to Cincinnati. How about a street named after Brown. How about a King boulevard or Avenue in the neighborhood where the record company used to do business?

I’ve already talked about Mr. Ford (The Accidental President). I liked him. He was one of the good guys. We now know that he was against going to war in Iraq, and that he was not too fond of how his former proteges Rumsfeld and Cheney were handling our military. That news comes after his death because he was too much of a gentleman to slam a sitting president.

We’ve also learned Ford favored, and quietly worked for affirmative action, LGBT rights, as well as women’s rights. I wish he had spoken up. Maybe the republican party, while still leaning right, might not have stepped off into the deep end of fundamentalist conservatism in which it is now mired.

Both James Brown and Gerald Ford leave huge holes in the cosmic fabric that surrounds us, as did Saddam Hussein.

He was a bad man, a killer, a despot, a dictator. I guess he deserved to be hanged. But while he was alive, there was no al Quaeda in Iraq. There was no terrorist machine turning out angry young men and women dedicated to killing Americans. There was no practice field for would-be terrorists to get good at killing innocents while perfecting their homemade bombs.There was no threat to the USA from Iraq. He served his purpose. America did not suffer while he was alive.

Those of us left behind by the passing of these three, must now pay the price of their loss.
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