There are many reasons to revel in Summer of Soul, the acclaimed music doc premiering on Hulu this weekend. Across six days in 1969, tens of thousands of people streamed into a park in Harlem to see performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Sly and the Family Stone, and many more. Respectfully compiled by first-time director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the forgotten footage from the Harlem Cultural Festival has been condensed into a two-hour movie that’s more than just another concert film. From Sly’s anthemic “Everyday People” to then-and-now interviews with audience members, and even an Afrocentric TV ad from the festival’s coffee-maker sponsor, the movie is a time capsule of shifting trends in music, fashion, and politics in black America as the Sixties wound down.
And yet another reason to applaud it? It finally gives another one of its performers, the 5th Dimension, an overdue spotlight.
As co-lead singer Billy Davis Jr. acknowledges in the film, the 5th Dimension were blessed and cursed. Coming together from worlds as varied as pop and gospel, the quintet were, in a way, a black version of the Mamas and the Papas. Their harmonies were similarly sunny and enveloping, and one of their earliest hits was, in fact, a cover of John Phillips’ “Go Where You Wanna Go.”
But it was 1967’s “Up, Up and Away,” Jimmy Webb’s cottony ode to balloons (literally or metaphorically), that vaulted the 5th Dimension into the worlds of Top 40 radio, nightclubs, and TV. From then and into the early Seventies, they were a ubiquitous presence — on tour, variety shows, and radio, especially when singles like the sublime sad-sack classic “One Less Bell to Answer” or the ebullient “Wedding Bell Blues” connected.
As their segment in Summer of Soul demonstrates, the 5th Dimension were a proud throwback at a time when R&B and soul were evolving, growing more socially conscious and rejecting musical conventions. Onstage in Harlem, they’re wearing matching orange outfits (“creamsicle”-colored, as one interviewee bemusedly remarks), with the three male members in matching red ties. Their clip is dominated by “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures),” their medley of songs from the hippie musical Hair that was impossible to avoid on pop radio in 1969. With their synchronized dance moves, celestial harmonies, and eager-to-please aura, you can see why they were regulars on the likes of The Ed Sullivan Show, but Davis’ throaty ad-libs during the song’s second half bring the performance back to church, where he began singing. (And check out studio bassist Joe Osborne’s insane bass line during the “Let the Sunshine In” part of the studio recording.)
But in a scenario that’s nearly impossible to imagine for a modern act, the 5th Dimension also became victims of their own success. In an extended Summer of Soul segment, Davis and Marilyn McCoo, the group’s most prominent female member, rewatch the footage with equal degrees pride and pain. “We were constantly being attacked because we weren’t ‘black enough,’” McCoo says. “Sometimes we were called the black group with the white sound, and we didn’t like that. … Our voices sound the way they sound. How do you color a sound?” As Davis adds, “Everyone thought we were a white act until they saw pictures.” Those poignant moments recall similar put-downs that Whitney Houston endured two decades later, after she began pulling in both black and white audiences with her first two albums.
Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo are still together and still making music. I reviewed their brand new hit album BLACKBIRD: LENNON & MCCARTNEY ICONS.
I didn't see that in David Browne's article but it may have been. I don't know because my mascara is ruined and I'm dabbing my eyes.
No, nothing bad happened. I was looking for something to watch and saw MOTHER'S DAY on NETFLIX. I hadn't seen it before and Gary Marshall films may not be 'cool' with some people but they were always funny.
This one was no exception but it almost made me cry several times. And it really makes a great showcase for Jennifer Aniston, by the way. She doesn't get a lot of credit for her talent but she is very talented. Everyone does a great job including Jack Whitehall and Timothy Olyphant and Julia Roberts.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, July 2, 2021. Let's spend another day on Donald Rumsfeld because his War Crimes were immense.
TEEN VOGUE notes:
Yes, Donald remains thankfully dead. Before we get into the War Criminal, let's note a basic truth: If you've spent the last days with more attention on Bill Cosby than on Donald Rumsfeld, you really aren't much of an adult.
If Bill is guilty of what he was accused of, his crimes shrink in the scope of Donald's crimes -- unless you only care about American people and feel other people -- especially people in the Middle East -- don't matter at all. I don't like Bill Cosby. I've never liked him and I've never owed him a damn thing. But he rescued a lot of people's careers over the years and it was so sad/strange to watch those people play dumb in public. I'm not talking about TV actors who worked with him. I'm talking about people whose careers were over and who he helped restart their careers. I'm talking about people like Cher who were a joke and who were over but Bill put his reputation behind Cher and Sonny to help their comeback.
I don't like Bill. I never have. I've encountered him many times. (He doesn't like me either, it's mutual.) But if he'd ever helped me in some way, I think I would at least state something publicly like, "That's not the Bill I knew. I'm deeply saddened if the charges are true." But we didn't get that. And so many in Hollywood owe Bill. That's why he was able to get so many people to make idiots of themselves by appearing in LEONARD PART 6.
Bill's not guilty because the conviction was overturned. Legally, he's not guilty. This wasn't a pardon. This was the conviction was overturned. "On a technicality!"
Yes, and it's a hell of a technicality.
So much so that if you care about justice, you should be in agreement. If a legal agreement is reached in 2004, the government can't overturn it a few years later because they don't like it.
The 2004 agreement never should have been made but it was made. Instead of building what appeared to be a strong case on real evidence, the prosecution went too far -- and the judge overseeing the case allowed them to go that far. The government is not supposed to go unchecked.
Do I think Bill committed the crimes? Yes, personally I do. I also don't feel it was that difficult of a case to be built. But the government chose to cut corners and to cut basic principles in our legal system. That was outrageous. They deserve to have their work disputed and spat upon.
There is no conviction now. I'm sorry if you were assaulted by Bill. I hope you get whatever help a failing system can provide. But this is our legal system and it is better that a guilty person go free than that the system is abused and destroyed so that many more suffer. (Even when not abused, our system still suffers and that's evident by the huge number of people incarcerated throughout the US.)
The system doesn't guarantee you justice -- a fact that many don't appear to grasp. It guarantees you -- or is supposed to -- a public say. The government abused the system and a higher court rightly called that out and overturned the verdict.
Donald Rumsfeld was a War Criminal who is responsible for the deaths of millions. He was in a position of trust -- not because he was an entertainer but because he was a public servant -- a role that comes with the expectation that the public can trust the person. The public couldn't trust Donald and were wrong to have thought that they could. He abused democracy, he advanced torture and he is responsible for the deaths of millions.
"Rape!" Yes, rape is an important issue and I'm not saying it's not. But if you're unaware of how many rapes have taken place in Iraq because of the illegal war (and let's include 'trial marriages' in that category as well as forced marriages where underage girls were married off to elderly men against their will), that's really on you.
Don't pretend to me that rape matters to you if you're unaware of, for example, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi who was gang-raped and murdered on March12, 2006 while Donald was still Secretary of Defense. She'd be 29-years-old now but she instead she's dead.
Donald set the tone. He had US troops torturing people -- in CIA black sites, at Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib and many other places. That's what send the message that US troops can get away with rape and murder.
And US troops gang-raped and murdered Abeer. While they were taking turns raping her, she could hear her five-year-old-sister and her mother and her father being shot dead in the next room.
The focus on Bill Cosby at the expense of Donald Rumsfeld? It may be part of the refusal to own what our government has done. It may be part of the natural gossipy nature of our society to focus on celebrities. It may also have some elements of racism. There was a glee with which Bill was taken down. I don't like Bill. I actually loathe him and that's been clear for years. But I was sent reeling by the glee that surrounded this entire chapter.
Rape is a serious issue. If you're unhappy that Bill's not behind bars -- and is no longer guilty of rape (a verdict overturned means it no longer exists) -- you need to blame the government for how they argued the case and how, in arguing it, they abused the system.
[ADDED: 3:13 PM EST, 7/2/21 E-mails coming in have noted that Jonathan Turley weighed in earlier this week on Cosby's verdict being tossed aside:
In their 79-page opinion, the judges found that a “non-prosecution agreement” reached with Cosby should have barred the prosecution. In the earlier agreement, the prosecutor, Bruce Castor Jr., agreed not to charge Cosby in return for his civil deposition. He proceeded to incriminate himself in what the Court said was a bait-and-switch. The later prosecutor then just ignored the nonprosecution agreement. The trial was also undermined by the decision of the trial court to allow women to testify as witnesses on uncharged alleged crimes against Cosby.
It is clear that, absent the agreement, Cosby would never have agreed to the four depositions. Free of the threat of prosecution, Cosby incriminated himself. Dolores Troiani., counsel for Andrea Constand, asked “When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” Cosby replied, “Yes.” That and other statements were used at his criminal trial.
Kevin Steele, the Montgomery County district attorney who convicted Cosby, issued a statement that was embarrassing in its evasion of responsibility. He dismissed the ruling as “a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime.” Obviously, it was quite relevant because Steele proved a crime by unconstitutional means. Yet, Steele seems entirely unwilling to acknowledge his errors and declared that
“My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law — including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”
The statement is breathtaking. Of course it could undermine such reports since Steele engineered an unconstitutional verdict that led to Cosby prevailing. Moreover, Steele is right, “no one is above the law” including prosecutors who are not allowed to pursue convictions at any cost in popular high-profile cases.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill (who the defense sought to force off the case for bias) also has much to answer for in this wrongful conviction. O’Neill at trial seemed hellbent to try the case. He virtually mocked the defense arguments on the nonprosecution agreement: O’Neill, rejected that claim, saying, “There’s no other witness to the promise. The rabbit is in the hat and you want me at this point to assume: ‘Hey, the promise was made, judge. Accept that.’”
I didn't see that. Rough week. But we'll include it and add it into this snapshot before it gets reposted elsewhere. As I've noted here before, I agree with Jonathan about 95% of the time -- a huge number for me -- and I think he has one of the best legal minds in the US -- why isn't he on the Supreme Court? Thank you to Billie, Sabina, Ahmed and Lewis for pointing out Turley's opinion on the Cosby case.
While I'm adding, let's also add Katie Halper addressing the press treatment of Rumsfeld versus the way they treater the late Senator Mike Gravel.
That's from Krystal and Saagar's BREAKING POINTS which aired earlier today -- and is already up as an individual entry.]
"Unlike the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, and so many others killed in the wars he launched and in the torture cells he oversaw, Donald Rumsfeld died peacefully," Phyllis Bennis observes at THE NATION and from that basic truth she stumbles and falls flat on her fat ass. By the time she's noting deaths and using what we now know is a US government backed website (Iraq Body Count) for her numbers, she's just an embarrassment. Do we need Elaine to publicly shame her again to get her to use THE LANCET? Bitch, I don't have time for your s**t and, quite honestly, the world can't afford it.
Phyllis just needs to shut her damn mouth and keep it shut on Iraq. In the summer of 2006, the last day KNIGHT RIDDER existed, before it officially became MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS, Nancy A. Youssef published an important article about how the US government was, in fact, keeping track of Iraqi deaths despite their denials and repeatedly insisting that they didn't "do" body counts. Weeks later, Phyllis goes on FAIR's COUNTERSPIN to bemaon the fact that there are no body counts being kept on the Iraqis being killed. This was when Phyl was the Iraq expert and pretended she actually followed the subject and topic.
And Elaine had to publicly slap the bitch for pimping undercounts of the dead in Iraq when many solid counts -- non US government counts -- existed. Phyl was part of the fake ass United for Peace and Justice (aka the turnout the vote auxiliary of the Democratic Party) so she couldn't take the embarrassment and upped her count but now she's back and she's pimping IBC. Because she's a liar? Because she's a coward?
I have no idea. She's a useless bitch and she's made that her life's role, take it up with her. We can't afford her or her garbage. She tells you no one wanted the war more than Donald Rumsfeld.
Bully Boy Bush is still alive but let's continue to give him a pass, right, Phyllis? And I'm not sure Donald wanted it more than members of press that worked overtime to pimp and promote the war -- and to keep it going once it got started -- while shaming and bullying anyone who spoke out or questioned.
I'm not seeing any acknowledgement in Phyliss' garbage that the press turned Donald Rumsfeld and others into media heroes. VANITY FAIR can act as woke as it wishes it were -- I don't really thingk that sexual harassment there is buried but, I'm sure Conde Naste hopes it is -- but the reality will always be that they did a glossy spread on Bully Boy Bush and his administration and Annie Leibovitz can lie all she wants but she didn't use that opportunity and her camera to serve up Diane Arbus type type portraits of the War Criminals for that issue but instead became the Leni Riefenstahl of still photography.
Phyllis, the 'expert' on Iraq, offers a lot of words that do very little. She never addresses the press in any real detail. The name "Thomas Friedman" is but one of many that fails to appear, for example. Or the hideous Tim Russert or . . . And, again, step out of line and be shamed and bullied -- or worse. If you were outside the US, there was much worse.
Journalists’ organizations have demanded investigations into two incidents in which US military forces killed three journalists in Baghdad on April 8, including Al-Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayoub, and seriously wounded several others. The attacks came amid broadcasts showing some of the mounting slaughter being conducted by US troops throughout the Iraqi capital.
Ayoub, a 34-year-old Palestinian Jordanian, was killed in a direct missile strike on Al-Jazeera’s Baghdad offices. Surviving Al-Jazeera staff sought shelter in the nearby offices of rival satellite station Abu Dhabi TV, which then also came under US attack.
At one point, Abu Dhabi TV correspondent Shaker Hamed issued an emergency on-air call for help, saying “Twenty-five journalists and technicians belonging to Abu Dhabi television and Qatari satellite television channel Al-Jazeera are surrounded in the offices of Abu Dhabi TV in Baghdad.”
Hamed called on the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Organization of Journalists, Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Arab Journalists Union “to intervene quickly to pull us out of this zone where missiles and shells are striking in an unbelievable way.”
Shortly after the Al-Jazeera strike, two cameramen died when a US tank fired on Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, which houses more than 200 international correspondents—nearly all of the “non-embedded” journalists left in the besieged city. The victims were Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, 35, a Ukrainian national, and Jose Couso, 37, who worked for the private Spanish television station Telecinco. Another three members of the media were injured.
The strike on Al-Jazeera’s broadcasting facilities was undoubtedly deliberate. Al-Jazeera had written to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on February 23 giving the precise location of its office so as to avoid being targeted.
Both Ayoub and a cameraman, Zuheir Iraqi, who was wounded with shrapnel to his neck, were standing on the station’s roof in preparation for a live broadcast when the missiles hit the building, leaving Al-Jazeera’s bureau in ruins.
BBC reporter Rageh Omaar, who is stationed in the nearby Palestine Hotel, described the bombing as “suspect.” He said, “We were watching and filming the bombardment and it’s quite clearly a direct strike on the Al-Jazeera office. This was not just a stray round. It just seemed too specific.”
Where's that in your 'analysis' or 'commentary' or just vomitary of words? It's no where to be found, Phyllis.
Here's a few examples of much better analysis than Phyllis offered.
Elaine's "POLITO lies again" went up a few minutes ago and the following sites also updated: