Today Patton Osawlt tweeted, "Where do people find the social wattage to build & maintain an entourage? I thought success meant you earned quiet & solitude." It made me think of this portrait of Sinatra's entourage and his role in it, from Gay Talese's masterpiece "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." If anything can answer that, it's this:
The first time I ever met Jason Chin, who died yesterday at 46, was in late winter, 1999. I was 24, a student at the iO Theater where he was the at various times the official or the de facto artistic director. I had shown up to watch a Pat Shay Dancers and Deep Schwa show. (Now that I think of it, he was coach of both storied teams). Jason was the house manager that night, and though I knew him, he did not know me. I had forgotten my student ID, which would get me in for free. I waved him down and explained my situation: level one student, down on his luck, missing ID, trying to impress this girl here, etc., etc. I asked if I could be let in, like, just this once. He stared at me for a good ten seconds, shook his head, and said, “No.” And then he walked away.
I would later give him shit for this. He had no memory of it and said that it did not sound like something he’d do. I agreed, but the fact that he did do it amused me. Because Jason was the kind of guy who, 99.9% of the time, would have waved me and all of my friends in. He was warm and generous and friendly, and he loved students. Still, I like thinking of him as that first impression I had: Jason R. Chin, the merciless, take-no-shit Ice Man with a cold, cold stare.
My friend and I disagree about disco in two ways: one a basic matter of taste; and one controversial. I dislike it; he likes it. That’s trouble enough for a pleasant conversation. But the second part of the argument is where it gets interesting. Or, if not interesting, tedious and divisive. He thinks that the bulk of the backlash goes beyond taste and is directly attributable to homophobia. I counter that no, it sucks.
This little entry is in response to Renee Graham’s Boston Globe article, which my bullshit “friend” emailed to me yesterday, titled “Why does rock and roll hate disco?” You may remember that I titled this entry (see above) “Because it sucks.” Get it?
Heh heh heh. I am sticking with the sophomoric title not because I think I am so funny or even because that’s what I think about disco. I am keeping it because I think it is an apt response to the way Graham frames the article: why have so many disco musicians been excluded from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Answer: Because it, the hall, sucks.
Dennis O'Toole is an all-set cobra jet creepin' through the nighttime. He lives in Chicago.
If you need to reach me, dial:
denotoole AT SYMBOL gmail DOT co LETTER M.