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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Leroy Brown, updated (and updated again)

Back in 1973, Jim Croce had a hit song, Bad Bad Leroy Brown. Musically, it wasn't much to speak of, but here are the slightly more memorable lyrics, in case you've never heard it. It was sort of a paean to badass black masculinity.

Listening to Trump talk about how the murder rate in Chicago is out of control for some reason put me in mind of the song, which starts out, "Well the south side of Chicago is the baddest part of town."

If you look at the lyrics, they now seem incredibly dated. There are references to how Leroy is "badder than old King Kong," to his diamond rings, his Continental, and his Eldorado.

The reference to Kong Kong wouldn't fly these days, and probably neither would the fact that he is made to sound like a pimp.

Another way the song seems dated is that Leroy meets his end in a bar fight after "messin' with the wife of a jealous man."

If the 1973 South Side had been anything like the 2017 version, Leroy would far more likely have been shot in a drive by. And the guy who shot him would also long since have been killed, also by a bullet. And the guy who shot that guy. And so on...

Recently, Trump threatened to send in the Feds if the Chicago authorities don't get their act together and stop the violence. Yesterday, according to the Chicago Tribune:

President Donald Trump responded enthusiastically Wednesday to a Cleveland-area minister's surprise comment that "top gang thugs" wanted to meet in Chicago to help reduce the city's gun violence.

"That's a great idea because Chicago is totally out of control," the president told the Rev. Darrell Scott at a Black History Month event at the White House. ...

At the morning meeting, Scott said that the gang leaders in Chicago had committed "to lower that body count" in return for added social programs from the federal government.

"If they're not going to solve the problem — and what you're doing is the right thing — then we're going to solve the problem for them because we're going to have to do something about Chicago," the president said. "Because what's happening in Chicago should not be happening in this country."

The funniest thing was what emerged about the gangs' attitude:

Scott said of the Chicago gangs: "They want to work with this administration. They believe in this administration. They didn't believe in the prior administration. They told me this out of their mouth. But they see hope with you."

"I love it," Trump said.

The article went on to point out that people closer to the situation claim that decreasing the violence will be harder than ever because the former gangs which dominated Chicago have now splintered into hundreds of smaller gangs.

Still, what does their belief in the current administration -- and their lack of faith in the previous one -- say about gang members in the most violent neighborhood in the country?

That they're keepin' it real.

If the President somehow does manage to lower the gun violence in Chicago, someone should write a song about bad bad Donald Trump.

Update, 2/4/17: Commenter JR has just informed me that the Reverend Scott has admitted he was lying about having met with the gang leaders (he only met with one former gang member), and that he has blamed his lapse on lack of sleep. How disappointing. (And how naive of me to fall for it, even if it was in the Chicago Tribune; it really was too good to be true.)


Steven said...

'I've got a name' by Jim Croce is one of my favourite songs and I like time in a bottle.

If it was Chicago in 2017, Doris wouldn't be the guys wife. She'd be his baby mama. And her name would be Kadisha.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Good point. I'd meant (but forgot) to say that another way the song is died is that Leroy is no longer a common black name. He would be Quashawn Brown.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Jim Croce's music. My older sister use to listen to him. When he died, that was a downer. Regarding gangs helping Trump decrease gun violence in inner Chicago (and other cities), go for it. It will give the gang members something constructive, positive to do.

- birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Never was a Croce fan myself.

I agree completely, whatever can be done to point the gang members in a constructive direction, should be done.

Anonymous said...

The most honorable Reverend Scott has been found out. He made the whole story up and blamed it on lack of sleep. When will they learn?

John Craig said...

JR --
Argh! Okay, I'll put an update on the post saying that Scott was lying. How disappointing.

(I like his defense though -- lack of sleep. I wonder how well that one would stand up in court: "Your Honor, I didn't mean to kill her, it's just that I'd only gotten about four hours of sleep the night before.)

Mike said...

Lack of sleep could 'splain a lot of things....
I think I might have forgotten that I commented on your cancer issue awhile back....
My apologies. It really is more an effort to move past the cancer thing, and return mentally to a healthy state (bulletproof youth???)
At any rate, you and I share something beyond a diagnosis; I'm still dukin' it out with young guys (used to be 1/2 my age, now they're 1/3 my age...)
and you, from what I can tell, are an amazing swimmer and athlete..

I have a Spanish toast that I like:

Salud' y pesetas, y tiempo para gastarles....

We're both in good shape that way, amigo

John Craig said...

Mike --
Absolutely no need to apologize. If you commented before on my cancer, that certainly doesn't mean you're not allowed to comment again on it, especially when it's a friendly comment.

Ha, yes, I too have turned into one of those old guys who's always challenging people to do things (I think I can win at). It's sort of pathetic, but it's also sort of fun, and the young guys don't seem to mind much, or, at least, they don't show it if they do. You're probably the same as me, it's a lot easier to get yourself psyched up to try hard at something if you've got someone to compete against.

Health and pesetas, and time to spend it.

I like that.

Mike said...

Biggest difference I've seen, John, between youth, and ahem, maturity, in athletes is recovery time. That, and range of motion, flexibility, stamina, lung volume, oh never mind....

I rarely kick someone in the head anymore, but there are a few things that I have been doing for 40+ years that can catch a young'un off -guard.
Old age and treachery, I say....

John Craig said...

Mike --
Yes, recovery time is key. Actually, even with young athletes, the biggest mistake a lot of them make is not giving themselves enough recovery time. That was my biggest mistake back then. Now, I only really work out hard twice a week.

Ha, treachery, yes. I never challenge anyone to anything where I don't think I'm going to ambush them.

What is your sport?