Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes; John D. Macdonald

Posted by Cinema Retro in Obituary

Isaac Hayes, who won both a Grammy and an Oscar for his hit title song from the 1971 film Shaft, was found dead at his home in Tennessee today. Hayes was 65 years old. Police are investigating the circumstances of the entertainer's death. His body was found near a treadmill. There was no indication of foul play. Hayes was a big influence on today's rappers and became an iconic figure in the soul music scene. He also dabbled in acting in Blaxploitation films of the 1970s including playing the title role in Truck Turner. In more recent years, he gained new fame as the voice of Chef in the envelope-pushing animated TV series South Park. However, Hayes quit the show when the producers began to mock his religion, Scientology. Hayes denied that higher-ups in the controversial organization had pressured him to leave the show, but the producers cited the fact that Hayes had no problem with the program's constant snipes at Christianity. For more on Hayes' life and career click here

Ed here: My favorite memory of Hayes, whom I liked a great deal, was his turn as the ex-con James Rockford knew in prison. Calling him "Rockfish" and bitching all the way. One of the many great character actors on that series and a terrific performer no matter what he was doing.

Last night I posted a piece about the mythical (and it is mythical) final Travis McGee novel...

Brendan DuBois said...
Ah, the joys of Travis McGee. In the mid 1980s, just as I was breaking into the mystery field, I encountered JDM and his works, and devoured them all... a pity that he's nearly forgotten nowadays.

Some time ago, I was in Florida with the missus, and we took a drive to Ft. Lauderdale, just so I could go to the Bahia Mar Marina. Found the plaque for the Busted Flush, and got a Bahia Mar baseball cap, which I wore for my first book jacket photo in 1994...

Ed here:

Ross Macdonald's sales went into a slump following his death but then came back with solid and consistent numbers. I've reread most of his novels in the past five years and they've dated hardly at all. The McGees don't hold up so well. The sexual attitudes are not only quaint they're borderline offensive and the derring do seems overmuch all too often. Not to mention the speechifying. My favorite McGee is the Green Ripper because it's a good story told with urgency and passion. Nothing gets in the way of the story.

But I still don't understand why, as Brendan says, he's nearly forgootten these days. All his great Dell and Gold Medals novels, and they are prime examples of pulp fiction at its best, are available inexpensively on abe and other used book sites.

We live in an age when neo noir dominates most of the press and internet attention. Rabe and Goodis are the prefered choices from the Fifties; Dan J. Marlowe and Jim Thompson (who really came to notice when Gold Medal started republishing him) in the Sixties. I understand that. I just wish there were room for old John D. these days but there doesn't seem to be.


Unknown said...

I'd hate to think that JDM was really forgotten. I agree with you about the flaws of most of the McGee books, but I can still re-read them. The story carries me along. Some of the standalones are even better.

Martin Edwards said...

I'm a fan of Isaac Hayes too. His version of 'The Windows of the World' is superb and he also wrote one of my favourite songs, 'Deja Vu'.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Ed, I'm with you with the Rockfish stuff, but South Park has forever ruined me--my first thoughts now about Isaac Hayes is as Chef singing "when a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man..."