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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

 Stanley Crouch has died.

He was a teacher to me, through his books and columns. And like all teachers, he taught me great ideas in his thoughts and he taught bad examples through his actions.

Here's his New York Times obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/obituaries/stanley-crouch-dead.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

I read his first book, "Notes of a Hanging Judge" in 1990 after seeing him on some obscure PBS show in northern Wisconsin. Please understand the Nort'woods are rural and homogeneous and attempting to be woke as a 25-year-old would take some time.

Also, there was no such thing as "woke" at the time.

But I'd seen this incredibly erudite guy on the TV interview and bought the book. In it, I found he thought for himself. He did not accept narratives and ideology as I had done.

Crouch sought truth from his own internal intellect -- sometimes he was wrong.

He was almost always right about jazz and how the freedom and advancement of the music was a perfect example of democracy. Those making the music paid little attention to criticism and attacks. They played the music in them. And if that was Louis Armstrong helping create jazz and later scat singing as a verbal personification of free jazz or moving to Be-Bop or Thelonious Monk or Chick Corea. Hell, "Bitches Brew," which is a hard listen for me, is the existential freedom of jazz.

Crouch wrote against the predetermination of black skin and poverty, which I don't think holds up as well. Statistics and history are pretty clear. But this was his narrative and not the accepted one.

And then he'd be in a fistfight with a fellow reporter.

Worse, he was homophobic to a gross degree. It's only my hope that he lost this later in life. Imagine someone who understands racism and how it degrades an entire people but fails to see the same for people born LGTBQ.

Crouch taught me. Whether I wanted to be or not.

Think for yourselves, my friends.

Peace and reason unto all of you my brothers and sisters.



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