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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

6 Responses

  1. Jacob Johnson says:

    My father saw Dizzy Gillespie play in the early 80’s at the University of Arizona. So the story goes, in the middle of his performance, he abruptly stopped it and turned to a camera man, who was black, and proceeded to abusively excoriate him in a lengthy, profanity-laced rant in which he called the camera man every anti-black epithet in existence. Then he finished playing, as if nothing happened, while the audience stood completely still in utter discomfort and confusion. Apparently, as part of the contract for the performance, a local television station was to film two minutes for broadcast. I suppose this illustrates the importance of specificity when drawing a contract.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I saw Gillespie several times in the late 1960’s, both in Chicago and in San Francisco, each time in a good jazz club with a good feel to the place and the evening. Having listened to a lot of old records, I was surprised by the precision of his playing and by the articulateness of his phrasing, at least much of the time. He was also quite genial, seemed to have an excellent rapport with his band, and, without pandering to the audience, he seemed to enjoy the evening. I still think the whole Bee Bop thing was a mistake, but he and Parker and, especially, Monk made real music, despite the perversity of their little movement.

  3. Jacob Johnson says:

    Does the term Bee Bop “movement” – as opposed to genre- imply that, like the “avant-garde” painting sects, it was supposed to be an expression of some dodgy “philosophy?” I’ve only ever been aware of it as a style of ensemble with improvisation. I should add about that story that it was said, although Gillespie appeared to be quite drunk, he nonetheless played flawlessly.

  4. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    JJ makes a valuable point. I think critics were largely responsible for projecting the idea of a movement. I cannot imagine any of the principal players thinking much beyond doing what they felt light doing. About once a month, I put on one or another version of Anterus Smith’s favorite tune, “Everything Happens to Me.” Chet Baker has a wonderful version, but I always come back to Monk. Don’t anyone get me started on how I almost rented a room over the Five Spot Cafe….

  5. Steven Lakoff says:

    I am not a Bruce Lee fan or a fan of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies but I know a little about both. Enter the Dragon was a Hollywood style movie, very different from his earlier movies. It was not at all popular in Asia as the quick cuts and edits of the fight scenes don’t guarantee to the audience, the authentic skill of the actors the way the long continuous shots seen in Hong Kong movies do. If you must watch one of Bruce’s movies I would watch an earlier one. At least you will get a laugh out of the bad acting and translated dialogue.

  6. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Thanks for the tip on Bruce Lee. The little bits I’ve seen we’re much much dumber than old formula Westerne.