Thursday, June 30, 2005

Brother From Another Planet

This my friends, is a photograph of Flavor Flav's illegitimate daddy. Not really, but maybe it should be. Actually, this is Sun Ra (1914-1993), one of the oddest and most ingenious musicians of his time. On the day of his death, The New York Times proclaimed him "one of the great surrealists of jazz" ( Kenny G was automatically disqualified on several grounds, including his music and his afro-mullet). One of the most intriguing things about him is that he was futuristic and retro at the same time. A lot of his costumes were styled in the fashion of ancient Egyptian clothing, but he also infused elements of science fiction into his music and persona. He was notorious for being secretive about his life before he became semi-famous, and would usually only reveal the fact that he was born on Saturn. Do you think you can get U-Haul to let you take one of their trucks to another planet? The government says he was born Herman Sonny Blout in Birmingham, Alabama, but what the hell do they know? Besides the generous catalog of recordings he left behind, Sun Ra may well have made another very important contribution to music. It's been rumored that he was responsible for helping legendary jazz musician John Coltrane quit using drugs.

Sun Ra is just one example of an extremely talented person who is also potentially rather insane. There are many famous people who are perceived as eccentric or who are considered deviant because they behave outside of proscribed social norms. Truth is that madness and genius frequently go together like Siamese twins (what a ridiculous analogy!). You could probably think of several examples, but you won't have to, because Wikipedia has compiled a list of famous eccentrics just for you. There are a lot of people they overlooked (no Tom Cruise entry, for example), but they also made quite a few deserving selections. You can read a little about the bizarre antics of each celebrity they've chosen, making you more knowledgeable about useless information within seconds!!!!! See William Hung, Adolf Hitler, J.D. Salinger and Old Dirty Bastard on a website together for the first time ever! :

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