Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eulogy for a Gifted Bastard

You're not supposed to speak ill of the recently departed. There's kind of a code we all subscribe to 'cause we're not sure where those people have traveled to. Or how they might be able to exact retribution against us. Some of us truly don't have the stomach to pick on the defenseless. Most of us simply don't like to mess with our kharma.

Sometimes, though, exceptions deserve to be made when discussing the recently departed. Ike Turner is probably one of those exceptions.

You know all about the bastard side of him. There's a whole movie about it.

Maybe you even remember the gifted side of him. Or, probably, you remember how his gifts were most commonly filtered. As they were in the following performance from 1971ish. (Or was it '77ish?)

For most folks, Ike Turner is a supporting character in the story of his own demons. For some, he's the father of rock and/or roll. The truth, as it tends to do, derives from both.

This guy seems to have the whole story of Ike Turner--however condensed it may be--all figured out. I can't say much more about Ike than he did. But I did spend some time today digging around youtube for this. (Watch the first two minutes. Trust me.)

1993 was a very good year for me. That NCAA Tournament was one of my favorites. The most bittersweet of endings. But still in the top 3 of the 20-odd Tournaments I've watched. (1988 and 2003 fill out that list, BTW.)

And everything that was good about that tournament--indeed, that year--could be summed up in the first two minutes of that video.

I used to have a VHS of that game. And I used to watch the first two minutes. On the afternoons before the nights when I used to dash up and down a basketball court in front of 3,000 people. All blue and white and hairless. Arms and legs flying through the air. First name: Tremendous. Last name: Potential.

My fingertips glowed from being so close to such brilliant possibility. And I used to watch that video to see and hear a facsimile of what it was that was waiting for me to snatch it and make it mine.

I haven't watched it in years. Today, on the occasion of the death of Ike Turner, I needed to see it again.

It gave me goosebumps. Just like it used to. And it made me wonder where things had gone wrong. Maybe not all the way wrong. Some dreams came true. Some dreams died viciously. Others have been deferred altogether.

Life, much like that game, didn't turn out quite like I envisioned it.

As eulogies for Ike Turner slowly pile up, I can't help but feel that Ike would have related to that. He was clearly a hungry man. And he was an amazing musician. Yet, he will mostly be remembered for the worst that he was capable of.

Hardly what he would have envisioned for himself.

Rest, Bad Man. Peace may not be yours to have. But, if it means anything, your gifts still give.

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