Glad Jam

What can we be other than glad that a being of the sort of Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret., has graced the Earth-stage? Hampton was a wise, even shamanistic mentor in the form of an eccentric and sometimes scary trickster who touched, prodded, pushed, and fostered the careers of so many great musicians. (Click that link for some brief, compelling testimonials from familiar folks.) Elsewhere, I’ve described him as the underground patron saint of modern Southern rock ‘n’ roll, but his influence was broader than that. He died this month on the night of his 70th birthday concert, collapsing onstage at the end of the performance at Atlanta’s Fox Theater in what his friends and collaborators initially thought was nothing more than his latest stunt. (Later that night, one said, “We’ve all seen him do this kind of thing so many times—some of us were going to get down on the stage, too.”)

Writing about Hampton– I tried once before today– isn’t the easiest: he said that one would-be biographer “‘tried to write a book about me, but it was insane—filled with space ships and spies and things that made no sense,’ Hampton said, adding later that this was his 165th trip to the Planet Earth, ‘the only planet in the solar system with aluminum.’” Best just to listen, probably. Snuggled between the various, varied, and engaging interview clips, movie clips (both from the one about him and his appearance in Sling Blade), baseball clips, and concert clips, is this this happy one:

I heard Hampton perform just once, on a magical musical night last summer with some of his most vocal prophets, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and, although I had to turn down tickets to what would be his final concert, where he passed on to a preferable dimension, I consider myself fortunate enough to have heard him outside on that summer night, and, so many more times, to have heard his influence conveyed through his pupils, subjects, and sonic neighbors. For all of that I am glad indeed.

Advertisements

The Truth: What really happened in the murder trial of Ray Lewis, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting (via Atlanta Magazine)

“When was the last time a high-profile case in Atlanta ended in acquittal?” Bruce Harvey asks. “For a criminal defense lawyer, it doesn’t get any better. It ain’t never gonna be no sweeter than this.”

The colorful, ponytailed defense lawyer smiles broadly, sitting behind his paper-strewn desk in a loft near the Tabernacle club downtown. Behind him, the wall is dominated by a framed photo and signature of legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow. Harvey’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle is parked in the lobby downstairs. “Not guiltynot guiltynot guilty,” he almost whispers. “You know, this was the right verdict. In that way, justice and the system was vindicated. When it works the way it’s supposed to work, our justice system is a glorious thing. The trial wasn’t the problem, the problem was that this case ever made it to trial. That was the disgrace.”

The Ray Lewis Murder Trial, beyond attracting more national attention than any courthouse drama to unfold here in more than 20 years, became a morality play for modern-day Atlanta. It had the intrigue of a well-crafted whodunit. The glitz and glamour of the Super Bowl. An NFL star accused of murder. The trappings of Buckhead. A setting outside a popular bar in which professional athletes partied in a VIP room. It had the street hustle of hip-hop. Young black men wearing mink coats and drinking $200 bottles of champagne with luscious gold-diggers hanging on each arm. It was the kind of trial that makes or breaks legal careers, that seals reputations. And it attracted the creme de la creme of Atlanta’s criminal defense lawyers.

“This was a defense lawyer’s dream,” says Harvey. “You had a high-profile, nationally significant case and an innocent client.”

The result was a stunning and humiliating defeat for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack went as far as to compare Howard’s performance to the bumbling Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther movies. “If they ever write a book listing the most inept prosecutions ever,” Cossack wrote in his online column, “this one will be highlighted as the standard by which all others are to be measured.”

In a series of interviews, both the defense team and Howard spoke candidly to Atlanta Magazine about the trial. Howard strenuously defended his handling of the case and his decision to enter the courtroom to personally prosecute after a nearly four-year hiatus from trial work. He described witnesses sabotaging the prosecution with organized silence. He answered criticism that he rushed the case to trial, maintaining that the case demanded aggressive prosecution.

Defense lawyers revealed how they shredded the prosecution case. They described political pressure from city officials that led to hastily drawn indictments. Some of the defense lawyers accused Howard of approaching ethical boundaries, even lying to them. (Howard denies all such allegations.) All the lawyers spoke openly of their behind-the-scenes disagreements, detailing awkward moments in coordinating a shared defense strategy. They told the inside story of Lewis’ dramatic 11th-hour plea agreement that gave the All-Pro Baltimore Ravens linebacker what he’d wanted all along: probation for a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. And they explained how they won the outright acquittals of co-defendants Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley on all charges.

Above all, they talked about the truths that were never revealed in the courtroom. They talked about what really happened that night when two men died in the middle of the street in the heart of Buckhead. … Read More

(via Atlanta Magazine)

_________________________________________________________________

Related Super Bowl Coverage
Ravens vs. 49ers: A losers’ guide to Super Bowl cheering
A question about Super Bowl Media Day
Beyond the Archives: How Big Government Cost Southern Conservatives a Super Bowl Win

Super Bowl Politicking

ALDLAND Archives: Breaking Up is Hard to Do
ALDLAND Archives: Why I Hate Harbaugh
Super Bowl XLVII, brought to you by the AARP?