RIP Yaphet Kotto

by Randy Fuller Mar 24, 2021

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, we remember Yaphet Kotto – Bond villain, space alien fighter, homicide detective, along with many other memorable roles.  Rest in peace, Mr. Big.

TFH guru Larry Cohen wrote and directed 1972’s Bone, with Kotto playing the title role.  Cohen has remarked that Bone “cuts to the heart of racial prejudice…where the white man has a fear of the black man’s sexuality.”  Yeah, especially when the man is named “Bone,” I would imagine.  Would you fear violence from a man named “Killer?”  Would you fear bad hair from a man named Butch?  Would you fear terrible political decisions from a man named “Kanye?”  I’m guessing you would.

Boneshaker Zinfandel is produced by the Hahn Family from a vineyard in Lodi, California.  It is intense, much like many of Kotto’s roles, Bone included.  You can probably find it for less than $15 and have it with a T-bone steak.

The 1978 crime drama Blue Collar has some laughs in it, provided by Richard Pryor.  Kotto gives the film a load of pathos in his role as Smokey James.  They and a third man all have their reasons for wanting to rip off the auto workers union.  The safe is bare, however, so it looks like someone beat them to it.  An exposé unfolds, with Kotto getting an early exit from the movie.  Did someone make off with the union’s health care funds?  Tune in and find out.  It’s cheap to rent.

While looking for a “blue collar” wine to pair with Blue Collar, it occurred to me that a so-called “blue collar” imbiber might not look for the same things in a wine that a wine writer does.  I poked around and found choices like having a Cab with a couple of ice cubes thrown in, a Chardonnay mixed with a Sprite and (gasp) making a white Zinfandel by blending Zin with Pinot Grigio.  McPrice Myers saves the day, though, with what he calls the Blue Collar Line, Paso Robles wines like High on the Hog or Bull By the Horns.  A twenty buck wine might be on a higher shelf than preferred by some blue collar workers, but hey – it’s Paso Robles juice at a steal.

Truck Turner came out in 1974, amid the blaxploitation phase of American film.  Yaphet Kotto AND Isaac Hayes, in the same movie?  A gift from the drive-in gods.  Hayes is in the title role of a bounty hunter who goes after a skipped pimp named Gator.  Well, I’m sold.  Turn it on!  Kotto plays a revenge-minded pimp who tries to wipe out Truck, but finds, alas, the table turns on him.  It’s hard out there for a pimp.

Bounty Hunter Wines has a full line of expensive bottles dedicated to various forms of justice – Blind Justice, Frontier Justice, Poetic Justice – all Napa Valley juice.  For the glittery pimp wine glass, you’re on your own.

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