Here's the third and final of my Dumb Questions this week:
Whatever happened to prison entertainment?
In researching an article I never wound up writing, I learned that the Harlem Globetrotters played a game at Attica Correctional Facility in 1976—only five years after the famous riot at the prison. The game was broadcast on ABC Sports, with play-by-play by Howard Cosell.
Other live entertainment took place in prisons too. The Sex Pistols played live in Clemsford Prison in England, and Sonny James played "In Prison, In Person" at the Tennessee State penitentiary, with the prison band.
And of course there were Johnny Cash's famous concerts, at Folsom Prison and at San Quentin.
I've had a hard time determining the frequency with which these shows took place, which is why the article petered out.
Perhaps this kind of prison entertainment was a foolish phenomenon of the same era when every dentist and insurance broker had a CB radio in his car so he could slum with his good buddies driving big rigs.
Still, why would it be so ridiculously implausible to read a Tweet, today, saying that the Black-Eyed Peas, or even Toby Keith, were going to play 4 the prisoners @ Stateville?
And really, why wouldn't our cultural representatives just every once in awhile symbolically acknowledge and publicly interact with our locked-up millions, many of whom must be what the Man in Black described, however sentimentally, as "the prisoner who is long paid for his crime but is there because he's a victim of the times"?
In short: What happened to prison concerts?