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This monthly podcast looks back at the pop culture of Generation X, from an African-American perspective.

Nov 1, 2020

Topics: Biggie death, Erykah Badu, Eve's Bayou, Miss Evers' Boys (Bonus Artist: Luck Pacheco)

Notes 1997
1.    President: Bill Clinton
2.    Feb -A Santa Monica jury finds former football legend O.J. Simpson is liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
3.    Feb - North Hollywood shootout: Two heavily armed bank robbers conflict with officers from the Los Angeles Police Department in a mass shootout.
4.    Feb - Miss Evers' Boys airs on HBO. It is a made-for-TV adaptation of David Feldshuh's eponymous 1992 stage play, and was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards and won four, Outstanding Made for Television Movie / Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie – Alfre Woodard / Editing / Cinematography
5.    Mar - Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. is killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles at age 24 before the release of his second album Life After Death. The album was released on March 25.
6.    Mar - In San Diego, California, 39 members of  Heaven's Gate, a UFO religious cult, commit mass suicide.
7.    Apr - The Ellen episode, "The Puppy Episode" is broadcast on ABC, showing for the first time the revelation of a main character as a homosexual.
8.    May - U.S. President Bill Clinton issues a formal apology to the surviving victims of the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male and their families.
9.    Jun - During the Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II boxing match in Las Vegas, Mike Tyson bites off part of Evander Holyfield's ear.
10.    Jun - The base version of the standard WiFi was released
11.    Aug - Diana, Princess of Wales died in hospital after being injured in a motor vehicle accident in a road tunnel in Paris.
12.    Sep - is registered by Google.
13.    Nov - Mary Kay Letourneau is sentenced to six months imprisonment in Washington after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape. Letourneau gave birth to her victims' child and the leniency of her sentence was widely criticized.[3]
14.    Nov - The Emergency Broadcast System is replaced by the Emergency Alert System and it continues to this day. - "This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test."
15.    Open Comments:
16.    Top 3 Pop Songs
17.    #1-"Something About the Way You Look Tonight" / "Candle in the Wind 1997", Elton John
18.    #2-"Foolish Games" / "You Were Meant for Me", Jewel
19.    #3-"I'll Be Missing You", Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
20.    Record Of The Year, Sunny Came Home - Shawn Colvin
21.    Album Of The Year, Time Out Of Mind - Bob Dylan
22.    Song Of The Year, Sunny Came Home - Shawn Colvin Colvin)
23.    Best New Artist, Paula Cole
24.    Best Female R&B, On & On - Erykah Badu
25.    Best Male R&B, I Believe I Can Fly - R. Kelly
26.    Best R&B Duo Or Group, No Diggity - Blackstreet
27.    Best R&B Song, I Believe I Can Fly - R. Kelly
28.    Best R&B Album, Baduizm - Erykah Badu
29.    Best Rap Solo, Men In Black - Will Smith
30.    Best Rap Duo Or Group, I'll Be Missing You - Puff Daddy & Faith Evans Featuring 112
31.    Best Rap Album, No Way Out - Puff Daddy & The Family
32.    Top 3 Movies
33.    #1-Titanic
34.    #2-The Lost World: Jurassic Park
35.    #3-Men in Black
36.    Notables: Rhyme & Reason, Gridlock'd, Rosewood, Good Burger, Def Jam's How to Be a Player, Hoodlum, Kiss the Girls, Gang Related, Boogie Nights, The Devil's Advocate, Good Will Hunting, Jackie Brown, Love Jones, B*A*P*S, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Booty Call, Donnie Brasco, Soul Food, Gang Related,
37.    Open Comments:
38.    Top TV Shows
39.    #1-Seinfeld
40.    #2-ER
41.    #3-Veronica's Closet
42.    Debuts, The Chris Rock Show
43.    Open Comments:
44.    Economic Snapshots
45.    Income = 37.5 (Previously 36.3K)
46.    House = 124k (118.2)
47.    Car = 17k (16.3)
48.    Rent = 576 (554)
49.    Harvard = 28.9 (27.5)
50.    Movie = 4.59 (4.42)
51.    Gas = 1.22 (-)
52.    Stamp = .32 (-)
53.    Social Scene: Death of Christopher George Latore Wallace, aka ‘Biggie Smalls,’ ‘The Notorious B.I.G,’ or ‘Biggie,’
54.    Childhood & Early Life: Born on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York, to Voletta Wallace and Selwyn George Latore. His mother was a Jamaican preschool teacher and his father was a politician and welder. His father left the family when he was two years old. He attended the ‘Queen of All Saints Middle School’ where he excelled in English, won many awards,  and was given the nickname ‘Big.’ because of his weight, around the age of 10 (1982).  He started dealing drugs as early as 12 while his mother went out for work, and she says he adapted a ‘smart-ass’ attitude, while attending high school, but he was still a good student. He dropped out of school at 17 (1989) and gradually got involved in criminal activities. Shortly after dropping out, he was arrested on weapon charges and was sentenced for probation of five years. He was again arrested in 1990 for violating his probation and again a year later for drug dealing in North Carolina. He stayed in jail for nine months.
55.    Career: As a teen, he began exploring music and performed with local groups, such as ‘Techniques’ and ‘Old Gold Brothers.’ He made a casual demo tape titled ‘Microphone Murder’ under the name ‘Biggie Smalls.’ The name was inspired from his own stature as well as from a character of a 1975 film ‘Let’s Do it Again.’ The tape was promoted by Mister Cee, a New York based DJ and was heard by the editor of ‘The Source.’ In March 1992 (@19), he was featured in the ‘Unsigned Hype’ column of ‘The Source,’ magazine. Shortly thereafter, he was signed by ‘Uptown Records’. In 1993, when Sean 'Puffy' Combs, a producer/A&R with ‘Uptown Records’ was fired, Biggie Smalls signed with Combs’ ‘Bad Boy Records.’ In August, 1993 (@21), he had his first child T’yanna.  To financially support his daughter, he continued to deal drugs. Also in 1993, he worked on the remix of Mary J. Blige’s ‘Real Love.’ While working for ‘Real Love,’ he used the pseudonym ‘The Notorious B.I.G.,’ the name he used for the rest of his career. He followed up with another remix of Blige's ‘What’s the 411’. He debuted as a solo artist in the 1993 film ‘Who’s the Man?’ with the single ‘Party and Bullshit.’
56.    As a solo artist he hit the pop chart in August 1994 (@22) with ‘Juicy/Unbelievable.’ His debut album ‘Ready to Die’ was released in September, 1994, peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200 and was subject to critical acclaim and soon a commercial success. Three singles were released from the album: "Juicy", "Big Poppa", "One More Chance". "Big Poppa" was a hit on multiple charts, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and also being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1996 Grammy Awards.  At a time when West Coast hip hop was dominating the mainstream, this album became a huge success, making him a prominent figure in the East Coast hip hop scene. [Side Note: 2 months later in November, Tupac was shot five times in a NYC recording studio].  In July 1995 (@23), the cover of ‘The Source’ magazine featured him along with the caption ‘The King of New York Takes Over.’
57.    Recording of his second album, ‘Life After Death,’  began in September 1995 but was interrupted due to injuries, hip hop disputes, and legal squabbles (much like his friend Tupac). He was in a car accident which hospitalized him for three months. He had to complete rehabilitation and was confined to a wheelchair for a period. The car accident had shattered his left leg and made him dependent on a cane. He was arrested outside a nightclub in Manhattan in March, 1996 (24), for manhandling and threatening to kill two of his fans who were seeking autographs, and again in the middle of the year, he was arrested from his home at Teaneck, New Jersey, for possessing weapons and drugs. On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was shot in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he died six days later. Rumors of Biggie Smalls’ involvement in Shakur’s murder were doing the rounds and were reported immediately. In January 1997, he faced an order to pay 41k for a dispute that occurred in May 1995 where a concert promoter’s friend accused him and his entourage of beating him up.
58.    Death: In February 1997, he went to Los Angeles to promote his upcoming album ‘Life After Death’ which was scheduled for March 25th release. On March 7, 1997, he attended the 1997 ‘Soul Train Music Awards’ and presented an award to Toni Braxton. On March 8, he attended the after party at ‘Peterson Automotive Museum,’ hosted by ‘Quest Records’ and ‘Vibe’ magazine. While leaving the party, his truck stopped at a red light, and a black Chevy Impala pulled up alongside it. The Impala's driver, an unidentified African-American man dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol, and fired at Wallace's car. Four bullets hit Wallace, and his entourage subsequently rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed emergency procedures, but he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. He was 24 years old.
59.    16 days after his murder, his double disc album ‘Life After Death’ was released. The album peaked at No. 1 spot on the U.S. charts, ultimately went 11× Platinum, was nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance for its first single "Hypnotize", and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for its second single "Mo Money Mo Problems" at the 1998 Grammy Awards. In 2012, the album was ranked at No. 476 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Biggie has been described as ‘the savior of East Coast hip hop’ by some and ‘greatest rapper of all time’ by others.
60.    Tupac and Biggie Best Frenemies: Biggie's first single, “Party and Bulls**t” came out in 1993. By that year, Tupac was already a platinum-selling artist, so Biggie asked a drug dealer to introduce him to Tupac at a Los Angeles party, according to the book 'Original Gangstas...' by Ben Westhoff. An intern who worked with Biggie recalled the meeting. “'Pac walks into the kitchen and starts cooking for us. He's in the kitchen cooking some steaks,”.  “We were drinking and smoking and all of a sudden ‘Pac was like, ‘Yo, come get it.’ And we go into the kitchen and he had steaks, and French fries, and bread, and Kool Aid and we just sittin’ there eating and drinking and laughing...that's truly where Big and ‘Pac’s friendship started.” There was mutual respect between the two and Biggie would crash on Tupac’s couch when he was in California and Tupac would always stop by Biggie’s neighborhood when he was in New York. In essence, they were like any other pair of friends and both of them respected the other's talent. At the 1993 Budweiser Superfest at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, they freestyled together. Biggie often turned to Tupac for advice in the business, and even asked him to manage his career. But Tupac advised him to, "stay with Puff. He will make you a star.”
61.    The first big fallout happened when they were scheduled to work on a project together for another rapper, Little Shawn. Tupac arrived at Times Square’s Quad Recording Studios on November 30, 1994, and was getting ready to head upstairs to where Biggie and Combs were. But instead, Tupac was gunned down in the lobby and shot five times. Tupac reportedly believed that Biggie had prior knowledge of the attack and that he also knew who was behind it. "He really thought when he got shot the first time, not that Big set it up or anything, just Big didn't tell him who did it," Tupac's friend and Naughty by Nature frontman Treach told MTV News in June 2010. "In his heart, he was like, 'The homie knows who did it.' Biggie might have wanted to just stay out of it, like, 'I don't know nothing.' [Tupac] was like, 'Yo, man, just put your ear to the street. Let me know who hit me up.'" Despite Tupac's claims, Biggie remained adamant that he had been loyal to his friend. "Honestly, I didn't have no problem with [Tupac]," Biggie previously said. "I saw situations and how sh*t was going, and I tried to school [Tupac]. I was there when he bought his first Rolex, but I wasn't in the position to be rolling like that. I think Tupac felt more comfortable with the dudes he was hanging with because they had just as much money as him."
62.    Still, Tupac's suspicions were only heightened when Biggie released "Who Shot Ya?" a month after Tupac's attack. Biggie claimed that he wrote the song "way before Tupac got shot," but the rapper took it as Biggie's confession. "Even if that song ain't about it, you should be, like, 'I'm not putting it out, 'cause he might think it's about him,'" Tupac said in an interview with Vibe while incarcerated for an unrelated charge.
63.    When Tupac joined Death Row Records, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry was cemented. While Tupac was incarcerated for another incident, he came to believe Biggie knew about the attack ahead of time. The west coast rapper reached out to Suge Knight, who offered him a place on his Death Row Records roster. Tupac accepted, cementing the rivalry between Knight's label and Combs’ Bad Boy Records. “Any artist out there that wanna be an artist, stay a star, and won’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing—come to Death Row!” Knight proclaimed at that 1995 Source awards show.
64.    There was never proof that Biggie or Combs knew about the incident. But a couple of months later, Biggie’s B-side single was a track called “Who Shot Ya?” which led to Tupac’s response with the song, “Hit ‘Em Up.” In it, Tupac claimed he slept with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans. According to Vibe, Evans denied the claim, saying, “That ain’t how I do business.”
65.    Open Comments:
66.    Question: What Notable deaths hit you pretty hard? [Aaliyh/Al Jarreau/Andre Harrell/Areatha Franklin/Bernie Mack/Bill Withers/Bob Marley/Chadwick Boseman/Diahann Carroll/Donny Hathaway/Eazy-E/Florence Ballard/Florence Griffith Joyner/Fred “Curly” Neal/Heavy D/Jam Master Jay/Jimi Hendrix/John Lewis/John Singleton/John Thompson/Kobe Bryant/Left Eye/Little Richard/Malcolm X/Martin Luther King, Jr./Micgael Jackson/Muhammad Ali/Mya Angelou/Ol' Dirty Bastard/Otis Redding/Prince/Sam Cooke/The Notorious B.I.G./Toni Morrrison/Tupac/Walter Payton/Whitney Houston]
67.    Music Scene: Black Songs from the top 40
68.    #3-"I'll Be Missing You", Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
69.    #4-"Un-Break My Heart", Toni Braxton
70.    #5- "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down", Puff Daddy featuring Mase
71.    #6-"I Believe I Can Fly", R. Kelly
72.    #7-"Don't Let Go (Love)", En Vogue
73.    #8-"Return of the Mack", Mark Morrison
74.    #13- "For You I Will", Monica
75.    #14-"You Make Me Wanna...", Usher
76.    #16-"Nobody", Keith Sweat featuring Athena Cage
77.    #20- "Mo Money Mo Problems", The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase
78.    #23-"No Diggity", Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre
79.    #24-"I Belong to You (Every Time I See Your Face)", Rome
80.    #25-"Hypnotize", The Notorious B.I.G.
81.    #26-"Every Time I Close My Eyes", Babyface
82.    #27-"In My Bed", Dru Hill
83.    #30-"4 Seasons of Loneliness", Boyz II Men
84.    #31-"G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.", Changing Faces
85.    #32-"Honey", Mariah Carey
86.    #33-"I Believe in You and Me", Whitney Houston
87.    #34-"Da' Dip", Freak Nasty
88.    #37-"Cupid", 112
89.    Vote:
90.    Top RnB Albums
91.    Jan - The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Makaveli
92.    Mar - Baduizm, Erykah Badu
93.    Mar - The Untouchable, Scarface
94.    Apr - Life After Death, The Notorious B.I.G.
95.    May - Share My World, Mary J. Blige
96.    Jun - God's Property from Kirk Franklin's Nu Nation
97.    Jun - Wu-Tang Forever, Wu-Tang Clan
98.    Aug - Supa Dupa Fly, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott
99.    Aug - No Way Out, Puff Daddy and the Family
100.    Aug - The Art of War, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
101.    Sep - Ghetto D, Master P
102.    Oct - When Disaster Strikes, Busta Rhymes
103.    Oct - Evolution, Boyz II Men
104.    Nov - The Firm: The Album, The Firm feat. Nas, Foxy Brown, Nature and AZ
105.    Nov - Harlem World, Mase
106.    Nov - The 18th Letter, Rakim
107.    Nov - Unpredictable, Mystikal
108.    Dec - Live, Erykah Badu
109.    Dec - R U Still Down? (Remember Me), 2Pac
110.    Vote:
111.    Music Scene: Erykah Badu, Queen of Neo-Soul
112.    Childhood & Early Years: Born as Erica Abi Wright on February 26, 1971 in Dallas, TX. Her father spent a considerable period in jail, vanished altogether in 1975, and only returned twenty years later. Her mother, a much respected actress in the local theatre, raised the children with the help  of her own mother and her mother-in-law. Erica spent a lot of time with these ladies while her mother was busy on the stage. Erica was born the eldest of 3. Although they were comparatively poor Erica never realized that because everything was neat and clean. Despite the absence of her father, she had a very happy childhood, surrounded by uncles, aunts, grandmothers and cousins. Her mother imbibed in her daughters a love for music, playing the songs of Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to them. Erica inherited her mother’s artistic traits and a desire to perform. She would often sing in front of the mirror pretending that she was a background singer for Chaka Khan. She would also make her grandmother sit up and watch her while she sang, danced and acted. In 1975, Erica first appeared on stage, performing with her mother at Dallas Theatre Centre and by seven, she started learning to play the piano. Her favorite song was ‘The Greatest Love of All’. Another important aspect of her character was that from her childhood she loved to be in control of the situation around her. Therefore, when it was time for elementary schooling, she refused to continue her education there, mainly because she found that in school she was no longer in control. She began her formal education at a grade school, where her talent was quickly recognized. In her First Grade, she appeared in ‘Annie’, skipping and singing the song ‘Somebody Snitched On Me.’ During the summer vacations, she sang at the choir of the First Baptist Church, honing her choral skills.Along with acting and singing, little Erica also began to expand her cultural horizon, attending different festivals, especially Harambee Festival in South Dallas, slowly developing an interest in African culture and dress. The tall headgear she would wear one day originated from these visits.
113.    In 1980, she was enrolled in a dancing troupe. Later she also learned formal ballet. By 1982, she had also started rapping. When it was time to attend high school, she chose Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School, an arts-oriented magnet school. While studying there she rejected what she considered to be a slave name, changing the spelling of Erica to Erykah and replacing Wright with Badu. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at the Grambling State University, a historically black institution in Grambling, Louisiana, studying theatre until 1993. Thereafter, she returned to Dallas without completing her degree, mainly to concentrate on music.
114.    Career: In 1993, Erykah Badu started her career as a music teacher in Dallas. For a time, she also taught drama and dance at South Dallas Cultural Centre. To augment her income, she also served as waitress. She also formed a hip-hop duo with her cousin Robert Free Bradford, calling it ‘Erykah Free’. Very soon, they started going on musical tours and earning local opening slots. Her big chance came when in 1994 (@23), Erykah opened a show for D’Angelo. Through him, she caught the attention of Kedar Massenburg, an American record producer and founder of Kedar Entertainment. Impressed, he set her up to record a duet, ‘Your Precious Love' with D'Angelo. In 1995, she signed a contract with Kedar Entertainment and moved to Brooklyn. In January 1996, she made her debut with ‘On & On’, which remained at the number-one position on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for two weeks. In 1996, Erykah also recorded her debut album, ‘Baduizm’. Released on February 11, 1997 by Kedar Records, The Grammy award-winning album received universal acclaim from critics, who not only praised the musical style of the album, but also her ‘artistic vision’, establishing her position as the torchbearer of soul music. Her next album, ‘Live’ was a live album released on November 18, 1997, barely a month after the release of its lead single, ‘Tyrone’. It was also a huge hit and reached number four on the US Billboard 200 and number one on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. While ‘Live’ was being recorded Badu was pregnant with her first child. After its release, she took some time off to raise her child, not returning until 1999.
115.    Open Comments:
116.    Question: What is neo-soul and why don’t I like it?
117.    Movie Scene:Eve’s Bayou, Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons; produced by Caldecot Chubb and Samuel L. Jackson - Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (Louis Batiste), Jurnee Smollett (Eve Batiste), Lynn Whitfield (Roz Batiste), Debbi Morgan (Mozelle Batiste Delacroix), Vondie Curtis Hall (Julian Grayraven), Meagan Good (Cisely Batiste) and Diahann Carroll (Elzora).
118.    Review #1: “...As these images unfold, we are drawn into the same process Eve has gone through: We, too, are trying to understand what happened in that summer of 1962, when Eve's handsome, dashing father--a doctor and womanizer--took one chance too many. And we want to understand what happened late one night between the father and Eve's older sister, in a moment that was over before it began.
119.    We want to know because the film makes it perfectly possible that there is more than one explanation; "Eve's Bayou" studies the way that dangerous emotions can build up until something happens that no one is responsible for and that can never be taken back.
120.    All of these moments unfold in a film of astonishing maturity and confidence; "Eve's Bayou," one of the very best films of the year, is the debut of its writer and director, Kasi Lemmons. She sets her story in Southern Gothic country, in the bayous and old Louisiana traditions that Tennessee Williams might have been familiar with, but in tone and style she earns comparison with the family dramas of Ingmar Bergman. That Lemmons can make a film this good on the first try is like a rebuke to established filmmakers..."Eve's Bayou" resonates in the memory. It called me back for a second and third viewing. If it is not nominated for Academy Awards, then the academy is not paying attention. For the viewer, it is a reminder that sometimes films can venture into the realms of poetry and dreams. - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
121.    Review #2: Kasi Lemmons’ fluid, feminine, African-American, Southern-gothic narrative covers a tremendous amount of emotional territory with the most graceful of steps. Young Jurnee Smollett plays 10-year-old Eve, struggling to understand the womanizing of her adored daddy (Samuel L. Jackson in easy, sexy command) and the passions of her big sister; Debbi Morgan, in a blazing performance, plays Eve’s vibrant aunt, infused with good-witch spiritual powers. The film’s dream-state visual elegance is matched by a great soundtrack. Grade, A-. -  Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
122.    Review #3: First and best, it's got a rip-roaring story. It sweeps you along, borne effortlessly by believable if flawed characters, as it flows toward the inevitable tragedy. But it's also got a heart: It watches as a child harsh of judgment learns that judgment is too easy a posture for the world, and it's best to love with compassion. - Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
123.    Review #4: “You don't have to believe in magic to be gripped by the psychic forces that the characters' sorcery unleashes. Sibling rivalry, sexual jealousy and anxiety are all feelings that, when heated to the boiling point, have incendiary, semi magical powers. And as the psychosexual forces that bind but also threaten the Batiste family heat up, you can feel the lid about to blow. Every element of the film -- from the turbulent, stormy performances to the rich cinematography (which includes black-and-white computer-enhanced dream sequences) to the setting itself, in which the thick layers of hanging moss over muddy water seem to drip with sexual intrigue and secrecy -- merges to create an atmosphere of extraordinary erotic tension and anxiety.
124.    At the center of it all, exuding a dangerous magnetism, is Jackson's Louis, a swashbuckling, flashing-eyed, slightly oily lightning rod of a charmer whose charisma conveys a warning electric buzz. Jackson has never played a character quite this avid. And in a performance that requires him to infuse the role of perfect father and dream lover with a demonic charge, Jackson makes Louis at once irresistibly lovable and slightly terrifying. - Stephen Holden, New York Times
125.    Open Comments:
126.    Question: Are our family dynamics still suffering, internally, from the legacy of slavery or we closer to moving past it.
127.    TV Scene: “Miss Evers’ Boys”: Powerful, haunting and artfully mounted, “Miss Evers’ Boys” is a docudrama of uncommon quality and clarity. The acting is exceptional, the characters vivid, the presentation balanced. Original films for television rarely aim so high as does this HBO NYC production...And cinematographically, it is a revelation, with director of photography Donald M. Morgan lending the production a strikingly dingy, washed-out look that blends perfectly with the piece’s bleak sensibility. The story as told here centers on nurse Eunice Evers (a dynamic, layered performance from Alfre Woodard). Evers went to work at Alabama’s Tuskegee Hospital in 1932 to assist a certain Dr. Brodus (brilliant work from Joe Morton) in caring for poor black men (sharecroppers mostly) who have been stricken with syphilis. Enter Dr. Douglas (Craig Sheffer), a white doctor who brings with him a fully funded program to treat syphilis at the hospital, offering free treatment to any man who tests positive for the disease. A few months pass before Brodus travels to Washington to meet with Douglas and a government panel of doctors who tell him the funding for treatment has dried up. However, money is available for a study of the syphilitic African-American men. The catch: They can receive no medical treatment initially as a way to establish whether syphilis affects blacks and whites differently. Brodus initially is outraged, but acquiesces in the belief the study will disprove the racist notion of physiological inferiority in blacks. Evers also reluctantly follows along, lying to the men while giving them only vitamins, tonics and liniment rubs. But as the months turn into years, it becomes clear that the afflicted men will never receive treatment. Only with their deaths is the study of how the disease runs its course made complete and viable….[the movie] switches gears during its second hour to become an examination of Evers’ gut-wrenching moral ambiguity in sticking around to help perpetrate this ghastly fraud over 40 years. Woodard movingly conveys the conflict weighing down Evers’ guilt-riddled soul, giving a profound resonance to the disturbing ethical questions raised by her dedication in the name of lending the men comfort and a form of loving (if deliberately ineffectual) care….the overall tone and tenor of “Miss Evers’ Boys” is one of subtle brilliance, bolstered by an exquisitely detailed period sheen that screams excellence. After it’s over, you sit disbelieving that such an inhumane, insidious experiment designed to reduce black men to the level of laboratory animals could ever have been conducted in the United States of America — much less gone undetected until 25 years ago. It went far beyond mere institutional racism. It was pure evil. — Ray Richmond Vanity Fair
128.    Open Comments:
129.    Vote: Best/most important/favorite pop culture item from 1997?