Film

'Pat XO': The All-Time Winningest Coach in NCAA Basketball History

Pictured in scratchy-seeming, anti-slick, internally framed clips, the interviews here create a sense of the subjects' personal experiences with coach Pat Summitt.


Pat XO

Director: Nancy Stern Winters, Lisa Lax
Cast: Tyler Summitt, Pat Summitt, Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings, Michelle Marciniak, Geno Auriemma, Peyton Manning, Kenny Chesney
Rated: NR
Studio: ESPN Films
Year: 2013
US date: 2013-07-09 (ESPN)
Website
Trailer
"If I aint happy, nobody's happy."

-- Pat Summitt

"The whole state of Tennessee is counting on you. Have you looked at the orange in this building?" Pat Summitt is standing in her Lady Vols' locker room, her players about to take the court in Thompson-Boling Arena. Framed from the back of the room, the shot situates the coach front and utter center, as she makes sure that her team, seated in rows and leaning forward as she speaks, understands the pressure of expectations and is ready to meet them.

The image is striking and iconic, like so many images of Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. But while you're reminded of the University of Tennessee coach's legacy by the film Pat XO, its focus is less her work as a coach than her multiple impacts as a person. Directed by Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax and premiering 9 July as part of EPSN's "Nine for IX" documentary series, Pat XO opens with narration by Pat's son Tyler, who suggests that what follows will be a collection of impressions, some from people who know her well, including 18-year assistant coach Mickie DeMoss, who offers, "Every day we went into practice like we were playing a national championship that day," or, "Pat was the queen of multi-tasking: if she didn't have at least five things going on at one time, she wasn't busy." Other observers include people who don't know her well at all, but bring their own legendary weight, like, say, Peyton Manning, who pops in for a moment to assert, "I'd like to play for her in some capacity, just to see what she's like inside the locker room."

Manning's aspiration leads to a shot of Pat in a locker room with a pen and paper, insisting to a clutch of players, "I don't know about y'all, but I want to go out an win a national championship." On this cue, which might have occurred on any number of like occasions, the team members jump up and agree, "I want to win a national championship!" The idea, summarized so briefly here, is the film's fundamental argument, namely, Pat is awesome in every way.

Selected instances of her awesomeness do provide a story arc of sorts, as well as a familiar sort of mythic structure, from humble origins to mega stardom. Pictured in scratchy-seeming, anti-slick, internally framed clips, the interviews create a sense of the subjects' personal experiences with the coach, however contrived and however briefly noted. A couple of these reflections, near film's end, focus on speakers' respect for how she's handling her 2011 diagnosis with early-onset dementia. It's a terrifying next step for the coach, and Pat XO structures it as another instance of her courage.

That said, the movie doesn't spend much time on the diagnosis, only notes it and gives Jenkins and a couple of other interviewees brief moments to respond to it. Their stoicism appears to mirror hers, as the film spends most of its time on anecdotes rather than details. Friends and family recall that Patricia Sue Head was born in 1952 and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee, did chores on her family's dairy and tobacco farm before and after school, and played basketball with her brothers. But no one dwells on her childhood, only uses images from it to lead to the Lady Vols. Her sister Linda Ateberry reveals -- no surprise -- that Pat was bossy as a child, and their brother Charles says both their parents were "real strict on us." Sally Jenkins adds that he was "complicated not easy," as well as "a deeply good man," illustrated by the fact that in the 1960s, "He moved his entire family across the state so his daughter could play basketball like her brothers" (that is, in Henrietta, which had a women's high school team).

Jenkins here sets up the context for Summitt's career and even her mission going forward, that women's basketball -- or more generally, women's sports -- was hardly a priority at high schools or colleges before the era Summitt helped to shape. As a player, you hear repeatedly, Summitt was "very aggressive and very intense," and moreover, she was inclined to coach, to motivate her teammates and also to "hold them accountable."

Summitt explains her approach, at this point in the film and a few others appearing on a couch with Tyler; they leaf through a book of photographs, most of which you don't see. Tyler tells part of his mom's story (when she was "my age," she took the job coaching the Lady Vols, for just $250 a month, driving the team bus and washing their uniforms), and she fills in occasionally with comments on other comments, voicing her own memories or reflections. She was skinny as a child, she says, which is why they called her "Bonehead." Her fist practice for the Lady Vols was tough "because I wanted it to be tough." Tyler recalls -- and photos illustrate -- that he was at practices and games from the time he was a baby, and various generations of Lady Vols embraced him, making him something like an honorary team member.

In all its forms, that team looms, winning lots of games (1098) and multiple national championships (eight), producing college graduates (all 161 Lady Vols), 45 college coaches, from Kellie Harper to Gwen Jackson and Tyler Summitt (now an assistant at Marquette), and WNBA stars like Tamika Catchings and Chamique Holdsclaw. Some of this success is a function of Summitt's relentless energy (former Auburn and 2000 Olympics coach Nell Fortner acts out her memory of finding Pat on the phone in her kitchen, dinner cooking while she contended with three or four callers, as well as her guest, Nell) as well as Summitt's formidable reputation as recruiter, summed up here by Michelle Marciniak and her parents (who recall how pregnant Summitt was when she arrived at their home).

As famous as Summitt's fortitude may be, a couple of memories ensure your appreciation: a few players describe "the stare," for which Summitt is renowned (Holdsclaw says, "It's just rips through your soul," and Jill Rankin adds, "You might just as well die before I shoot these darts through you"), and other interviewees affirm her life lessons: Jenkins remembers, "You don't play the victim, there are no excuses in Pat Summitt's world, none," by way of a story about her support of Patricia Roberts, in 1976 the only black player on the Lady Vols. When she responded with a gesture to racist taunts from Ole Miss fans, Summitt benched her but, Roberts says now, she also told her, "'You can go out there and be the player I know you can be… or you can go out there and sulk and be mad, and not play. It's up to you.' That's all she had to say."

This belief, that success is "up to" individuals, however gifted or encouraged, troubled or constrained by circumstances, has no end of adherents in sports. The film makes the case that Pat Summitt helped girls and young women to share in this belief, by building a dynasty and dealing daily with individuals.

7

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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