Book Review: ‘Dyn-O-Mite!’
Author: Jimmie Walker with Sal Manna
Your childhood isn’t very far away. All it takes is one click.
Just turning on the TV can take you back to eating popcorn on the floor, your elbows on a pillow, Mom and Dad in their easy chairs, and your favorite program just beginning. Without much trouble, you can still sing the theme song. It’s a part of your childhood, and those were good times.
For author Jimmie Walker, the Good Times were filled with struggle, success, and career surprises. In his new memoir “Dyn-O-Mite!” (with Sal Manna) ( c.2012, Da Capo, $25.00 / $28.00 Canada, 296 pages), Walker writes about his life and his various careers.
Jimmie Walker never had good times with his dad.
By the time Walker was born in Manhattan in 1947, his father was mostly absent and when he was at home, he was abusive. In part to escape the “rampages” and beatings, Walker’s mother sent Jimmie and his sister to Birmingham every summer.
That was a “culture shock,” says Walker, but it gave him a different look at racism. It also made him realize that New York was a pretty good place to grow up.
Walker wasn’t much of a scholar, but he managed to avoid alcohol and drugs while he earned his high school diploma. He tried to enlist in the Army Reserves, but he “flunked a physical” and instead went into a college-prep program.
It was there that someone asked him what he really wanted to do with his life.
He tried a career in radio, but it wasn’t a good fit. He tried to write, but was told that he was “not funny.” Undaunted, he bluffed his way into a club for his first stand-up gig, which bombed.
Walker worked with the Last Poets, the Black Panthers, as an emcee for other acts, and he kept trying.
And then someone introduced him to producer Norman Lear.
It seemed to Walker then that his part as JJ on the TV show “Good Times” was already a done deal, although he was reluctant to suspend his stand-up career. Still, his comedy served him in his new role, although he fought co-stars and writers to keep “funny” on the show, and he loved to ad-lib.
It was one such off-the-cuff word that blew “Good Times” into pop culture history . . . .
In this memoir, Walker says that many people told him, throughout the years, that his comedy was “not funny.”
When it comes to this book, they were extremely correct.
Filled with boasting, name-dropping, scattershot stories, and 40-year-old-jokes, “Dyn-O-Mite” is hard to read with a straight face—not because you’ll be smiling, but because you’ll be grimacing.
Not only is it not funny, but it’s not all that interesting: in addition to a long, overly detailed, and tedious career timeline, Walker devotes a good amount of paper to his political ideology.
I think that if you’re a rabid Walker fan and you own all the “Good Times” episodes on DVD, you might like this book at least a little. For the rest of us, though, this “Dyn-O-Mite” simply fizzles.
Television and movie producer Norman Lear will receive a lifetime achievement award May 22 at the Playboy Mansion for his defense of values embodied by the Bill of Rights, the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation announced today.
The awards, begun in 1979 by Christie Hefner, honor people who help protect and enhance First Amendment rights in journalism, government, book publishing and education.
They say the economy’s getting better.
Truthfully, the bad news came as no surprise.
Your Mom hadn’t been feeling well lately, and for weeks you’d heard your parents whispering. You knew she was having some tests done. Still, when they finally told you she had cancer, you couldn’t believe it. You cried for 20 minutes, ran out of the house, kicked the door, or just quietly went to your room to think.
In the gritty world of the NYPD, no one’s tougher than Detective Robert Ironside. He’s a fearless cop who won’t stop until the guilty are brought to justice. He and his trusted, handpicked team of specialists will do whatever it takes to solve New York’s most difficult and notorious crimes — even if it means breaking the rules.
The song always pops up when you least expect it.
There you are, minding your own business, you hear a few notes, and you’re pulled back to a wonderful-horrible time, starry dreams, laughter, bitterness, love lost. That old love song might be just a “precious melody,” but it almost brings you to your knees.