11 26 2014
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  • 'If you’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table where we’re told that you don’t talk about sex, you don’t talk about religion, you don’t talk about politics, throw some fuel on the fire'  
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  • Protestors shut down streets demanding systemic change   
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  • Nearly one in three retailers in Multnomah County illegally sold tobacco to minors last summer  
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  • PHOTO: Still image from The Imitation Game.   BIG BUDGET FILMS Horrible Bosses 2 (R for pervasive profanity and crude sexuality) Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day reunite for revenge-fueled sequel as inept entrepreneurs-turned-kidnappers who hatch a cockamamie plan to hold the son (Chris Pine) of a ruthless businessman (Christoph Waltz) for ransom. Cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Keegan-Michael Key. The Imitation Game (PG-13 for sexual references, mature themes and smoking) Historical biopic about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the British cryptologist who helped the Allies defeat the Nazis by cracking the Enigma Code, only to be prosecuted and chemically castrated following World War II for being gay. With Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong.   Penguins of Madagascar (PG for mild action and rude humor) 4th installment in the animated franchise finds the peripatetic quartet of penguin protagonists (Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon and Christopher Knights) joining forces with an undercover, inter-species task force to apprehend a diabolical madman (John Malkovich) bent on world domination. Voice cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr. Ken Jeong and Peter Stormare. INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS Antarctica: A Year on Ice (PG for mild epithets and mature themes) Subzero documentary chronicling what life is like at a couple of ice stations located near the South Pole. The Babadook (Unrated) Haunted house flick, set in Adelaide, Australia, about a grieving widow (Essie Davis) who comes to substantiate her young son’s (Noah Wiseman) complaints about a monster inhabiting their home. Cast includes Daniel Henshall, Tim Purcell and Cathy Adamek. Before I Disappear (Unrated) Surrealistic saga, set in NYC, about a suicidal twenty-something (Shawn Christensen) who finds new meaning in life by babysitting his prepubescent niece (Fatima Ptacek) for his long-estranged sister (Emmy Rossum). With Ron Perlman, Paul Wesley and Richard Schiff. Escobar: Paradise Lost (Unrated) Romance thriller, set in Colombia in the summer of 1991, about a Canadian surfer dude (Josh Hutchinson) who is pressured to serve as a hit man after falling for the niece (Claudia Traisac) of drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar (Benicio del Toro). Support cast includes Anne Giradot, Carlos Bardem and Brady Corbet. The Immortalists (Unrated) Fountain of Youth documentary chronicling the efforts of a couple of eccentric biologists desperate to live forever. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Unrated) Reverential biopic revisiting the six-decade career of legendary Japanese filmmaker, artist, animator, illustrator, producer and scriptwriter Hayao Miyazaki. (In Japanese with subtitles) Remote Area Medical (Unrated) Domestic doctors without borders documentary about the free healthcare offered uninsured Appalachians once a year at a pop-up clinic set up for three days at a NASCAR speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. The Rule (Unrated) Inspirational documentary about the overachieving students at St. Benedict’s Prep, a Catholic school in Newark, New Jersey whose mostly Latino and African-American graduates enjoy a nearly 100 percent college acceptance rate. A Small Section of the World (Unrated) Tale of female empowerment about a group of women who sparked a coffee-growing revolution in Costa Rica. Touch the Wall (Unrated) “Bound for Greatness” biopic about Missy Franklin, the Olympic swimmer who won a quartet of gold medals at the 2012 games in London. Featuring appearances by Lara Lynn Joyce, Rowdy Gaines and Michael Phelps. Women Who Flirt (Unrated) Romantic comedy, set in Shanghai, revolving around a college student (Zhou Xun) who relies on her womanly wiles to woo the classmate (Xiaoming Huang) she has a crush on when he returns from a trip to Taiwan with a new girlfriend (Sonia Sui) in tow. With Yi-Lin Hsieh. (In Cantonese with subtitles)  
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Thad Spencer pictured on the front cover of The Ring magazine

 Former heavyweight champion boxer Thaddeus Spencer Jr. died in Vallejo, Calif., Dec. 13, at the age of 70.  Born in Tuscaloosa Ala., March 28, 1943, Spencer was the third in a family of 12. His parents, Thad Sr. and Marie Spencer moved to Portland’s Woodlawn neighborhood when he was an infant.

“He fought through as much as he could for as long as he could,” said his son Lance Spencer. “He died peacefully in his sleep. He had no struggles.”

During the 1960s Spencer was a top contender for the heavyweight championship of the world, joining an elite group of boxers that included Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Ernie Terrell.

“He was the number one contender for heavyweight champion,” says Paul Brown a childhood friend and fellow boxer. “He was the baddest man on the planet.”

Spencer was among the great boxers who blazed a trail for all Black athletes, by increasing the rewards they received for their sporting prowess.

“These guys were monsters in that era of the 60s,” Brown said. “When Ali and Frazier earned $2.5 million in 1971 for their first meeting, that was unheard of for African Americans. And Thad was one of those fighters. They came right out of the civil rights era to make that kind of money. He paved the way for all the NFL and NBA players today. He paid the price.”

Spencer never fought Ali or Frazier, but he beat Doug Jones who had won his bout with the young Cassius Clay. And he beat Ernie Terrell, Brian London and Amos Lincoln all top flight heavyweights of the day.

“He had the fastest hands in the sport,” says Lance Spencer. “He was just a natural.”

Spencer started his boxing career at the storied Knott Street Gym, which still operates at Dishman Community Center. The training he received there helped him to a Pacific Northwest Golden Gloves Championship at age 16.

But Spencer encountered many challenges in his life. He turned professional at just 17, instead of pursuing an Olympic career because he wanted to support his family. And even as he approached the peak of his profession, he was falling prey to alcohol and drug addiction. Even his tremendous talent couldn’t save his boxing career.

“He endured a lot of pain during his life,” says Brown. “He endured tremendous pain before he became successful just being in the trenches of the fight game.

“He was a good guy. He tried hard hard all his life. He truly was a champion and he has an undisputed crown today.”

In 1975 Spencer was shot five times in a Portland bar. He shot back in self-defense killing his attacker. That same year he would be shot again, and also run down by a car.

But Brown recalls Spencer would get a standing ovation when he entered the Expo Center, even after his glory days.

“I think he touched many people who admired who he was and what he did.”

Later Spencer tackled his addictions. He worked as a promoter for a time. And he grew close to family members.

“He was a family man; he loved his family,” says Lance Spencer. “He was a big teddy bear. He was very funny. And he was a very classy guy. He lived life his way.”

In his later years Spencer lived with his son in Vallejo, Calif. Despite having dementia, he posted notes to himself around the home to help his memory. And he was happy and optimistic by nature, says Lance.

“He had this saying: ‘I may not be as tough as I once was, but I’m as tough once, as I’ll ever be.’” Lance says.  

“I miss him and I’m that selfish that I want to have him here. But he’s in heaven now and has no more pain and no regrets.”

Thad Spencer is survived by his mother, Marie Spencer; his  brothers, Kenny and Kevin; his sisters Loretta Ganter, Cynthia Lovell, Maudine Smith and Gerry Orr; hi children Tamara, Todd, Lance, Mister, Taron, Joseph, Carmen Andria Jones; his step-children Duran Beasley and Lisa Beasley; 16 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Word Assembly Church, 2333 Harrison Street, Oakland, California 94612.

Send remembrances to McNary-Morgan-Greene & Jackson Mortuary, 3630 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, Calif.

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