In Memory of Mac & Hayes . . .

By now we’ve all heard the news of both Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes deaths this past weekend. I jam to a few Issac Hayes cuts on my Ipod, on the other hand, I never really got into the Bernie Mac Show. Watched South Park featuring Issac Hayes character The Chef. Never paid to see Bernie Mac do standup show though. Never saw Issac Hayes in concert, nor do I own any albums (only singles). All that aside, in memory of these two individuals, I’ve decided to dig up a few books that they’ve authored. I also bothered to highlight the quirkier moments in the Publisher’s Weekly review. Read on.

I Ain’t Scared of You: Bernie Mac on How Life Is
From Publisher’s Weekly: Whether he is heir to Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx as his publicists claim may be debatable, but Bernie Mac is unquestionably a funny man. He has strong opinions and fires in every direction, revealing nuggets of humanity that make this debut volume mostly a worthwhile read. While Mac has starred in a handful of television shows and movies (most notably Spike Lee’s The Original Kings of Comedy), his name remains obscured particularly among white audiences by figures like Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker and the Wayans brothers. Here Mac tackles such well-worn topics as professional athletes, sex, religion, marriage, child-rearing and (of course) flatulence, but his most compelling material stems from his inner-city childhood. He writes of sharing not only bathwater with his siblings but cereal milk, poured from bowl to bowl. He laments the erosion of communal structures, the disappearance of the strong maternal figure (“Your grandmama, now what 34?”). Co-written by journalist Dawsey (Living to Tell About It: Black Men in America Speak Their Piece), this book skillfully captures the rhythm and color of street vernacular. But the structure is loose and jumpy, fattened up with verbal chest puffing and relentless swearing. There are some perhaps overly confessional moments (e.g., physical fights with his wife), but Mac shows on more than one occasion that he can reach deep into the pockets of human distress and bring forth a smile. “That’s what inspires my humor,” he writes. “I don’t want nobody to cry.” Forecast: Mac’s audience is primarily urban, working class and minority, and white kids struggling to be hip. They will know Mac from Spike Lee’s movie and fromMac’s 1995 HBO variety show, Midnight Mac. (Read an excerpt . . .)

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Maybe You Never Cry Again by Bernie Mac

“That’s what I want to be, mama. A comedian. Make you laugh like that, maybe you never cry again.” By the tender age of five, Bernie Mac had found his calling: making others laugh. Since then, he has become one of the greatest comedians of our time. Now, this amazing comedian delves deep down inside to retell the poignant story of his childhood and the people who helped shape him into the comedian, and the strong and self-reliant man he is today. When Bernie Mac was just sixteen years old, he lost his beloved mother to breast cancer. While he grew up, she was a tough but loving teacher of life lessons and “Mac-isms” that would carry him through many hardships. These lessons gave him an inner strength that led him to choose hope over despair, and to follow his dream of becoming a comedian. Bernie Mac recounts his slow rise to stardom, from doing stand-up at a church dinner at age eight, to performing in amateur open-mike nights to make ends meet, to eventually entertaining huge audiences on stage and in film and television. He also shares the secrets to life, and to comedy, that he learned along the way. (Read an excerpt . . .)

Surprisingly, Isaac Hayes didn’t publish an autobiography, nor did anybody consult him about producing one on his behalf. So, I guess all we have of Isaac Hayes in the literary world is his cookbook.

Cooking With Heart & Soul by Isaac Hayes

Long before Isaac Hayes became the voice of “Chef” on the wildly popular and irreverent television show South Park, he was a food lover. His fondest and most enduring memories are those associated with his Tennessee boyhood and helping his grandmother to prepare traditional Southern soul food. Before becoming an Academy Award-winning composer, Hayes was a short-order cook. And somewhere in a career spanning more than four decades, he was a single father who cooked for five children and shared recipes with friends, professional chefs, and family. The commercial successes in music, film, television, and radio came and went and came again-but always there was the food. Cooking with Heart and Soul is pure Isaac Hayes-one part hot buttered soul, one part chocolate salty balls, and a big helping of comfort. It’s a mix of traditional home cooking and healthy eating, with a touch of the gourmet-and lots of stories from a life lived to the fullest. This is a rare collection of recipes and reminiscences that reveals Isaac’s passionate and eclectic interests from soul food and soul music to superstars and super-nutrients. It is as inspiring and satisfying as his Mama’s Fried Cream Corn recipe.

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RECIPE EXCERPT:

Isaac’s Breakfast of Champions

Over the years I’ve experimented to find what works best for me as a morning meal, especially when I’ve got a busy day ahead (which is most of the time). This is what I call “my breakfast of champions,” my first choice for high-energy and easy digestion. I’ve listed the fruits I like to eat, but you can substitute any you prefer. The key to cooking brown rice is just to let the water boil out, but not too long. If you cook it too much, brown rice gets sticky.

Serves 2 to 4
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to
package directions, with 1/4 cup raisins
added while cooking
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sliced fresh peaches
1/2 cup sliced banana
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced apples
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut butter per serving

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Add the fruits, walnuts, and maple syrup and fold gently to mix.

What I do is put the peanut butter on the lip of the bowl, and when I scoop up some rice on my fork, I pick up a little of the peanut butter with it. (View more . . .)

While I don’t think I’ll be attempting the Breakfast of Champions dish anytime soon, has anybody else tried any dishes from this book? My sister sometimes cooks out of Patti Labelle’s and had positive results. Don’t get me started on one of my cookbook rants.

Happy reading ya’ll!

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