5.30.2010

Permanent Press



I have never met the photographer of this image in person, but I have known him (Damon) for about 5 years now. We were similarly introduced to each other's works through Myspace, and there has always been a mutual appreciation of the things we create.

A few weeks ago, Damon sent me the photograph of one of his models sittin' in the laundromat reading a copy of the first issue of Kung Fu Grip! zine. I was surprised and flattered to see that the zine still meant enough to him all these years later that it would be factored in as a prop in one of his shoots.

Damon's Flickr feed contains a stunning assortment of afro-themed photographs that he's been producing over the years. I don't know much about the project itself, but the images all inspire me to want to finish something I started writing a year or two ago, which carries a similar theme.

I'm pretty sure that the copy of KFG! used in the photograph above is the same one that I sent Damon nearly half a decade ago. When I get around to printing up my newest project, I'm gonna send him a copy of it, as well as another copy of that first zine.

Knowing Damon, he'll probably still have 'em five years from now.

5.29.2010

Gary Coleman (1968-2010)



Growing Pains

Late last night before I went to bed, I saw a headline that Gary Coleman had been rushed to the hospital. Knowing the kidney related health challenges that he'd had to endure his entire life, I expected there would be a follow-up reporting that the once-beloved child star was dead.

I saw that headline when I got to work this morning. But my full expectation of the news did little to lessen the small sense of sadness that came afterward.

Most people in America knew Gary Coleman from his wise-cracking role as Arnold Jackson on the television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. But some knew him from earlier star-turning appearances on the sitcoms Good Times and The Jeffersons. People from Chicago like myself, however, knew Gary from his first TV appearance as a pint-sized pitchman in a commercial for Harris Bank.

At the time of the Harris commercial, I was all of age nine and Gary was just a year older. For several years after, the chubby cheeked boy from Zion, Illinois, would be the face of my generation. It was an impossibly large pair of shoes for anyone to try to fill -- especially someone as small as Gary.

In remembrance, I wanted to find an upload of that commercial to share in this blog post. Amazingly, though, it isn't anywhere on the web – not even on YouTube. I thought that everything ever broadcast on TV might be found posted there.

Thanks to Ebony magazine (Jun 1978), I was at least able to find an image of the bespeckled Coleman holding the Hubert the Lion doll with whom he once shared the screen.

Though I haven't seen the actual commercial in more than three decades, I can still easily recall the baritone voice of the cartoon lion mascot saying, "You should have a Harris Banker," and Gary replying in an elfish twang, "You should have a Hubert doll!"

Despite the litany of embarrassing 'growing pains' that he had to undergo in the bright light that comes with celebrity, I've always maintained a fondness for Gary Coleman.

At the young age of 42, his pains, both physical and emotional, have finally come to an end.