Them there eyes.

I was making my way down the ever-fascinating 8 Mile Road yesterday, sort of half-listening to “Fresh Air,” when I snapped to attention: Some critic, reviewing some Billie Holiday collection, pronounced “Lady Sings the Blues,” the 1972 movie about her, ahem, “howlingly bad.”

My lower lip pooched out. I kind of liked “Lady Sings the Blues.”

Of course, it came out when I was 14 years old. Fourteen-year-olds are effortlessly easy to please, particularly 14-year-olds who fancy themselves rebels. Take one Motown star, stick a gardenia in her hair, add Billy Dee Williams, a lynching and some heroin, and you’ve got a winner. I started thinking about the movie. Diana Ross? As Billie Holiday? All they share is a one-octave range. And I remember an embarrassing entrance for Williams, where he steps out of the shadow, looks up at the camera Clark Gable-style and the camera holds for a long beat you know was added so that the women in the theater could squeal and slide off their seats, recover and not miss the next line, which was, as I recall, “What’s the matter, don’t you like gardenias?”

OK, so it was howlingly bad. I pounded the steering wheel. Damn these critics, ruining yet another fond memory.

8 Mile Road is never boring. After I did my errand, I meandered into Detroit down Gratiot and stopped at the Eastern Market. Bought some roasted almonds and sour cherry balls. There’re not many afternoons that can’t be improved with salt and sugar.

And in the afternoon, at least one and maybe two more freelance assignments — sputtering and wheezing, my career lurches into its next phase.

So, bloggage: A nice read in the Freep today about Steve Wilson, one of those on-your-side TV guys whose specialty is chasing people down the street. Fortunately for him, some people deserve chasing. Detroit’s mayor, for instance:

TV investigative reporter Steve Wilson and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had had other dustups — most notably an incident in Washington, D.C., when Wilson flew there to catch the mayor with a microphone, a camera and an attitude he knew would make compelling, and, some say, revulsive television.

The money shot featured one of the mayor’s bodyguards shoving him into a wall after Wilson had badgered Kilpatrick for an answer about the city’s lease of a red Lincoln Navigator for his wife, Carlita. It was the kind of jaw-dropping footage that has helped make Wilson a ratings star in Detroit’s competitive TV news market. And has given ammunition to his critics.

…Wilson scurried around to the front of the moving pack, as a half-dozen security and staff members encircled the mayor, trying to cut a path back to the Escalade. The bodyguards began pushing Wilson. Kilpatrick’s personal assistant DeDan Milton grabbed Wilson. Someone kicked him in the shin. Wilson turned and kicked back. Seconds later, someone punched Wilson in the gut.

Kilpatrick supporters began shouting for Wilson to back off, to quit harassing the mayor. But the pushing and shoving continued. A child was knocked down in the scrum.

This entertaining anecdote ends with the mayor’s walk-off line, calling Wilson a “fat ass.”

Which he is, but man, have you seen the mayor? He’s got that football-player build, true, but he also looks about one Twinkie away from a diabetes diagnosis.

Two halfway-decent tag sales are calling my name. More later, or maybe not.

Posted at 8:30 am in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “Them there eyes.”

  1. Connie said on May 20, 2005 at 8:47 am

    “Lady Sings the Blues” is part of my mental soundtrack for my freshman year in college. It was around all year as one of those one dollar movies on campus and I couldn’t count the number of times I saw it. And yes we all squealed, “ooh, Billy Dee” in that scene.

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  2. mary said on May 20, 2005 at 7:09 pm


    Were you my roommate in college, going by the name “Mo?” Mo dragged me to this movie once, and I thought it was terrible, but she saw it over and over at the one dollar movie theatre. She thought I was a philistine for not liking it.

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  3. alex said on May 20, 2005 at 7:35 pm

    I didn’t see “Lady” ’til the ’80s, when one night, while flipping through the channels, I came across La Ross in the scene where she plays a haggard Holiday on heroin looking much like, well, like Diana Ross the last coupla times she got arrested for being blasted outta her gourd.

    That would’ve been in my college years when “Purple Rain” was all the rage. I remember it making me wince, the acting and dialogue were so bad, but expressing such sentiments was worse than kicking a kitten in the eyes of those who adored it. One was a j-student named Wes Bausmith. Wonder what he thinks of it now.

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  4. harry near indy said on May 21, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    if you ever see eminem or kid rock, please let us know asap.

    besides some of the pistons and red wings, i believe they’re the only nationally known celebrities from and still living near detroit.

    thank you in advance if it happens.

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  5. Nance said on May 22, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    Um, don’t forget Geoffery Feiger, Aretha Franklin, Rosa Parks, Elmore Leonard…there are others, but I’m just talking off the talk of my head here.

    It so happens my hairdresser’s best friend is Eminem’s next-door neighbor. They have quote hung out unquote with Em, she said.

    “What’s he like?” I asked.

    “Shorter than you’d think,” she said.

    Are there ANY tall celebrities?

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  6. mary said on May 23, 2005 at 1:09 pm

    My pre-mom career put me in a position to see quite a few celebrities, and for the most part, they are shorter than you’d think. They seem skinny, short and large headed in person, sort of lollipop shaped. Michael Caine was an exception. I was waiting to cross Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills one afternoon, and there at the same crosswalk was Michael Caine, at least 6’2″. And he looks exactly like he does in the movies, which is to me a very good thing.

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  7. Nance said on May 23, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    Ahh, Michael Caine. The British Gene Hackman — a great actor who always makes a movie better just by showing up. I’m glad he’s taller than me.

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  8. mary said on May 23, 2005 at 1:48 pm

    It did my heart good to see he was taller than I as well. It’s true about him improving every movie. He was the only thing worth watching in Miss Congeniality, for instance. I caught Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on cable a few weeks ago, and he’s a hoot in that one.

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