Rest in Power, Chocolate Thunder

When I was growing up, Darryl Dawkins always captured my imagination. (I love basketball though rarely bombard people with my sports talk.) Arguably less skilled than some big-name players, he had so much heart and so much beautiful jive–not to mention that signature backboard-breaking slam. Consider his nicknames: Chocolate Thunder, Doctor Dunkenstein, Sir Slam. Consider his patter: If you ain’t groovin’, best get movin’. Consider that outta sight Globetrotters stint. Man, I loved the 6’11″ Dunk so much that I channeled him every day on the playground (Rump Roastin’ Rosperson flyin’ at ya!), maybe because I knew how much he loved kids. Loved everybody, except for refs. And there’s so much about Dawkins’ story that didn’t get much airtime, like why he became the first high school player to go straight to the NBA in the first place. He may only have been 58 when he passed today but he covered more terrain than most will ever imagine. Rest in power, Chocolate Thunder.

A Dog, a Descent, a Dream

I always write down my dreams–they’re signposts, they’re gifts, they’re the straight talk I can’t hear during the day, they’re the littlest part of me asking for help, they’re the biggest part describing more than I can consciously conceive. By writing down my dreams I am giving all this a voice, and charting a progression that is as clear if not as linear as the growth pencilled on a door jamb.

Last night I had a dream that yanked me so hard that I am sharing it here. It is silly and it is strong, as all the best dreams are.… Read More

A Gently Grown-up Film: ‘Learning to Drive’

“Learning to Drive,” about a middle-aged Sikh driving instructor and his middle-aged student, is a satisfyingly grownup movie. Its stakes are gentle but real. Its characters behave decently yet feel strongly, and their parallel worlds are unfair if occasionally joyous. For this reason but not this reason alone, this is a late-summer film to see, despite its pedestrian premise. (Puns are an occupational hazard when discussing this topic.)

The luminous Patricia Clarkson is rock-star book critic Wendy, whose enviable NYC intelligentsia lifestyle is in tatters since Ted (Jake Weber), her relatively unsuccessful husband, left her for a colleague, and her daughter, Tasha (Grace Gummer), took off for a remote Vermont commune.… Read More