A study in survival
Think what you may of former Washington Mayor Marion Barry, whose drug use and philandering hit national headlines when he was caught up in a 1990 FBI sting. But his life is rich with the history of black political movements. He was trained in the nonviolence movements of the 1960s and helped organize the political power that gave birth to home rule in the nation's capital in 1974. Discover this controversial yet compelling man in the HBO documentary, "The Nine Lives of Marion Barry," Aug. 10 at 9 p.m.
Woodstock has become an icon of counterculture history, but in the early summer of 1969, it almost didn't happen after worried townspeople revoked the site permit for the festival. With a month to set up a new venue, the ensuing chaos was inevitable. "Woodstock: Now & Then," a documentary with many of the attendees, performers, and producers, is an unapologetic recounting of the rampant drugs, open sexuality, and top political music of the time. Airing on VH1 and VH1 Classic Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. and repeating Aug. 17 at 8 p.m., it's as much a cautionary tale as a historical snapshot.
'Harvard beats Yale 29-29'
This terrific documentary, now out on DVD, follows one of the most dramatic football games in collegiate history. With 42 seconds left to play, and Yale ahead 29-13, Harvard came from behind to even the score. For the members of both squads, many of whom are interviewed, Nov. 23, 1968, is a day that lives as an almost mystical event.
The newest contender for the reggae superstar crown is a young woman. Queen Ifrica (aka Ventrice Morgan) is a multitalented singer, songwriter, and rapper tackling the really tough topics most Afro-Caribbean artists dodge. In her latest CD, "Queen Ifrica: Montego Bay" (VP Records, $11.99), she shreds reggae's misogyny and attacks the machismo of phony Rastafarians and exploitative tourists, but escapes the trap of moralizer by performing a few lush love tunes.
Long overdue and live
When well-known singer/songwriters are asked to name the artists who inspire them, Shawn Colvin is often near the top of the list. Though her own career has been spent mostly outside the spotlight, she continues to be a class act as songwriter and performer, best experienced live. Her new CD, "Shawn Colvin: Live," functions as the perfect introduction if you don't know her, and a long-awaited greatest-hits collection if you're already a fan.
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