Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hot Grrrls, Cool Music - ALICE SMITH

Last night I finally had a chance to browse through this month's Fader when I stumbled on a feature about Alice Smith. I've known about Alice for a minute and have seen her perform several times, but the last time I saw her back in October at Joe's Pub, the performance left me feeling really troubled and I couldn't put my finger on why.

Her past shows were mostly soulful, funked-up jazz joints and this show was advertised to be more of the same, but as soon as Alice took the stage I knew something different was about to go down. Her band was totally new and looked like a cross between the Doobie Brothers and The Partridge Family. Now this wouldn’t have been all that bad if they had the chops to back up Alice whose got this quirky sensuality, a sorta geeky diva thing that makes her really hard to ignore when she’s on the stage. She’s like one of those kids from that spelling bee movie, um.. Spellbound, who is so self-aware and nervous, but smart and even inadvertently comical. That’s Alice who’s also got some of Fiona Apple’s attitude and Amel Larrieux’s boheme sexiness. So when she launched into her new material, which was more pop and PJ Harvey than soul and Goapele, I was surprised. Her voice however was as strong and brilliant as ever. I really liked most of the songs, even really loved a few, but something left a bad taste in my mouth that left me walking down 8th Street feeling disappointed. I went with my boy Todd and he too felt the same way and said that her band was really too blame. “No one that fine and fly should be backed by a guitarist that non-rhythmic and a back-up a singer that looks and sounds like Holly Hobbie.” I’m paraphrasing him a bit but you get the point-- there was mad incongruity!

But after reading the more than splendid feature of Alice in Fader it made want to do a bit more digging and so to myspace I went. While there I listened to four of her tracks and was so completely impressed, especially with Dream. So without the visuals of a very unsightly band, (yes a band’s physical style matters almost as much as their musical style and skills—see The Roots or Prince’s Revolution or Sade’s Sweetback if you doubt me), I was able to enjoy Alice once again. Although I still think the production could be a hell of a lot better, I was still juiced and immediately downloaded two songs and sent a request to her label for a review copy of her upcoming CD. Lil’ Miss Alice will be performing this Sunday in NYC on the LES so if you get a chance (and it's a free show), check her out and you be the judge, just make sure you hit me back with your thoughts. Yo, it’s 70 degrees outside… I’m out!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ms. Hill's Space

While perusing myspace, errr... while lost in (my)space, this afternoon, I stumbled onto a somewhat newly registered spot for L-Boogie. It seems to be the real McCoy and has a pretty smart, Lauryn-like rhyme on there. And since I found the link through Ahmir "?uestlove's" space, well, it has to be legit because Questo is on my very short list of men I absolutely adore (and therefore trust) as artists, thinkers, and sexy mental provocateurs. He's right up there with my other fantasy baby daddies-- Maxwell and Ben Harper. But woe is me cause all three of them are taken and it would seem that sazon is the new brown sugar cause they all have Latina novias. Well actually Ben may still be with that chick from Juraissic Park, but that's still a far cry from the brown sweetness. No worries love is love, spring is in the air and myspace seems to have all the flavors simmering anyway.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cootchie Chronicles

I went to see The Vagina Monologues last night and was surprisingly impressed by the performances. I had seen VM before in Chicago and loved it, but that was so long ago that it was really nice to see it again especially in light of all the pimp madness in the air. I decided to take my girl Aissata along since she is like the only woman I know who hasn't seen Eve Ensler's really provocative production. And since her line of T-shirts are called The Unapologetic Woman, it all just made sense. Anyway we get there and Muhammida, cool publicist w/ all the connects was right there with our tix in hand (thanks grrrl!). As soon as we walked in the door Ai hit the bar and got us some cocktails so we could calm down after having our own lil' dramas on 1-2-5. Why folks have to be so hostile for no reason. Well that’s another story. Anyway here’s the skinny:

Zoe Saldana was fantastic! Her comedic timing and her dramatic pauses were crazy on point and made her monologue reading so fricking inescapably moving. I was shocked! I’ve never seen her act before. I know she was in Guess Who, but Lord knows that was no motivation for me to check her out, but you best believe I will now. She’s not just another light skin Hollywood honey trying to get over on her looks. She’s really talented and I’m telling all y’all to look out. She’s the next big thing, not this Joy Bryant chick that I see everywhere. I still don’t get that.

I went there expecting nothing but a superb performance from Kerry Washington, who I thought nailed it as Ray Charles’ wife, and she delivered all that and more. She is so damn poised and sophisticated in her stance that you can’t help but focus completely on her when she is speaking. But what was kinda surprising was when she let loose on the dance tip like when Nina Skye performed (they were actually tight. I’ve seen them before and wasn’t impressed but even though they performed one too many songs they did their thing). Kerry was up on stage dancing like she was at some Ubiquita joint and encouraging everyone to get out their seats to do the same. Very cool moment!

Natalie from Floetry was the only sister who performed without a script in hand. Not only did she have everything memorized, but damn I think she may have been the most memorable. I was shocked at her ease and natural skill, but then Ai reminded me that she’s a poet who’s been doing this, albeit in a somewhat different medium, for years and so this ain’t nothing for her. And so when Natalie’s monologue talked about a girl whose cootchie snorcher had been violated and became this place associated with such trauma and pain and how it was another much older woman who taught her to love her cootchie you almost forgot that she’s really a Floacist and not an abused teenage girl looking for love.

There were 3 musical performances-- Nina, Miri Ben Ari and some grrrl named Crisette Michelle that I’ve never heard of, but who is apparently signed to Island/ Def Jam and who LA Reid and Jay-Z think is a supastar. Of course hearing that before homegirl even utters one note made me doubtful and distracted. But after she sang like 1.5 bars my mouth was wide open and I was sitting on the edge of my seat. At first her voice seemed contrived and affected. Maybe she was nervous and trying too hard, but by the end of her number I was on my feet as was the entire Apollo audience. Look out and listen up for this girl. Distinct, full-figured and wholesomely real like Jill Scott. Actually she’s a cross between Jill, Karen Clarke Sheard and Alicia Keys with a smidgin’ of Nancy Wilson. She’s fresh like summer peaches, yo!

Those are the highlights. The after-party reception was cool. Saw Michaela, Angie from Regis & Kelly and Eric from Uptown (damn I forgot to ask how he felt as a dude in the midst of all this vaginaing). Was deep in convo sipping on free Belvedere and missed my opportunity to talk to Kerry and Zoe, but I did holla at Jacque Reid who I think is either being managed or represented by Kim Cooper formerly of The Source. She adamantly told me she had no desire to write ever again after I asked her to contribute something to theHotness and did not even want to continue discussing the matter with me. Point blank our talk was over. Basically she was just about me interviewing her girl and nada mas. I guess urban journalism done killed another flower. That’s something I think I’m going to have to post about. But another day. Later lads..thg

Friday, March 24, 2006

3 Days--3 Things To Do

Tomorrow - Killing us softly with her song: This Saturday, the supa dupa and ultra-talented Roberta Flack will be performing at The Apollo Theater. Catch this legendary love song, baby making maestra at 8pm and see where Alicia, Lauryn and other biters get their inspiration.

Sunday - The Elite Eight: Watch NCAA basketball as the remaining 8 teams battle it out to make it to the Big Dance. I guarantee it will be way more exciting than your lame Knicks, Hornets or Lakers games.

Monday - It’s V-Day! Check out the all-star benefit performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues featuring Kerry Washington (Ray), Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child), Zoe Saldana (Guess Who?), Natalie Stewart (Floetry), Angie Martinez (Hot 97) and more! This is a must-see event that will benefit the Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), a Harlem based nonprofit organization which provides specialized services to young women and girls ages 12-21 who have experienced domestic human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. In a time where Hollywood believes that a song about a pimp exploiting women cause he gotta pay the rent deserves an award, let us put our money on the dashboard and support this wonderful organization. Tickets are available ($35-250) for the one-time March 27th, 6:00PM performance through GEMS, the Apollo Box Office (212.531.5301) or Ticketmaster.com

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Pink Side of HipHop: Pimped Out & Pissed Off

Well it seems that Crunchy Black done did it now. All that talk about how hard it is out here to be a pimp has come back and pimped slap him right in the kisser. And surely if it had not won that dang Oscar, his song, like the movie (Hustle & Flow) in which it was featured, would have vanished right back into the blight realm of pop culture from whence it sprung without anyone so much as even remembering the lyrics or being concerned with how the social ramifications of pimp culture affect women, especially Black and Latina women. I mean we weren’t mesmerized or affected by the performances, or for that matter, the plot, of H&F like we were when we had seen other flicks like The Matrix, Daughters of the Dust or Do The Right Thing. And as far as that song was concerned it may have had a catchy hook that we couldn’t get out of our heads, but we all knew and agreed it was a horrible rap. No? The rhymes were simplistic, Mother Goose-like fodder that would never have the roof, the roof, the roof on fire. But real life is stranger than fiction and so when Crunchy Black and his Three 6 Mafia crew trounced the podium accepting their honor for having best song in a movie, it forced us to actually think about this rap for more than 2 minutes and consider what it may say about us as Americans-- that we honor a song that makes the exploitation of women sound so dutiful and sentimental. And it's when we started thinking deeply, that us so called beeyotches started to brew... with anger and disgust. First up, writer Jill Nelson and she’s fuming:

Recently, a grown-up, apparently sane Black woman suggested that I was being overly sensitive because I found the very words "It's hard out here for a pimp" to be absurd--let alone the idea that a song by that name would win an Academy Award in 2006. Couldn't I understand, she asked, that I was taking the words out of context? After all, she continued, what about the pimp's perspective? The pimp's perspective? Correct me if I'm wrong, but last time I looked, pimps were predators and parasites who didn't work. Men who made a living off the sexual labor of women they controlled through abuse and violence. It seems to me that being a pimp is kind of an easy, if reprehensible, way to make a living.... Call me a snob or a hater or whatever you'd like, but I've had enough. I'm bored with, tired of, and disgusted by the overwhelming majority of hip-hop music and culture... I don't think it's OK that Nelly sells pimp juice or Snoop pornography, and yes, I like Kanye West, but his progressive lyrics are a drop in the huge bucket of hip-hop mediocrity. Maybe what breaks my heart most of all is that the uncritical embrace of hip-hop culture by so many of us--and the attempts to dismiss those who speak out against its misogyny, violence, and materialism--are a manifestation of the profound cynicism and hopelessness that define so much of contemporary American life.
On last Sunday’s CBS Morning Show, actress and media commentator, Nancy Giles was simply fed up and pissed off:
“Watching these hoodlums and poser pimps I was at first embarrassed and then I became angry. What makes this aspect of Black life so entertaining? We’re steppin’ fetchin ourselves and I can’t get down with that!
Well when I saw Crunchy snag the award I was just as shocked as Dolly and Latifah and thought the group’s acceptance was hilarious. Honestly it took me a minute to get pissed off. I don’t even take the Academy Awards seriously when it comes to (dis)regarding Black folks. I mean these are the same knuckleheads that honored Denzel for his performance in Training Day and not Malcolm X, honored Whoopi for Ghost and not Color Purple, honored Halle for Monster’s Ball and not Dorothy Dandridge. I thought it was clear that the ignorance didn’t end when the credits rolled. It wasn’t until I realized that people were actually talking about Hard For A Pimp being a legit song, a good rap even that I was taken aback.

Poet Latasha N. Diggs has her theories and breaks this quagmire down along class lines:
Some have called this battle The Talented Tenth vs. the Niggas. Well, one could say that we are angry that a cat named Crunchy Black got an award for portraying a figure in our culture we least support.
Latasha then switches gears though and wonders if we aren’t all pimping ourselves:
Aren't we all pimps in some right? We give props to folks who hustle and flow into the academia, get their papers and pimp the system so fools can get genius awards, NEAs and homes of their own. And in the realm of music, pop or experimental, don't a mofo gotta pimp themselves to get on... ain't we pimping ourselves on myspace?
For the record I think pimping and hustling are fundamentally different than being driven, ingenious and savvy. Yeah maybe you can argue that pimps are savvy and word hard, but you'll never hear anyone say that um, Oprah Winfrey is a great pimp. The word pimp is rooted historically in something specific and like the word “nigger” I just don't believe you can dismiss all that lynching, raping, death and pain to just use it casually. But I do like how Latasha flips the script and turns the mirror around. I don’t know about myspace, but I do think the folks behind BET’s Uncut video series, specifically the President and COO, Debra Lee, is guilty of pimping. And yes I’m talking about pimping in the Hustle & Flow sense with butt naked girls shaking what their mama gave them. They may not be turning tricks in the back room but these girls are being screwed just the same. I think it’s time to pick up where those Spelman girls left off and at least send Ms. Lee an email or two to let her know we’re pimped out and pissed off.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Wedge Fund

Okay so you may think theHotness grrrl is all rant, no style. No, no, no. Although I hate these Pucci sandals, I do love clothes, shoes, and cute lil' accessories I just hate shopping for them. But now that the Web is all so blowed up, I must say shopping has become a bit more fun, well maybe not fun, but less stressful. Now I can at least scope out what I want first online and sometimes I'll just buy whatever right there on the site.

Anyway, flipping through my new Elle and Jane mags it's clear the classic wedge sandal is back in full effect. When I think of wedge clodhoppers from back in the day, I think about Thelma (BernNadette Stanis) from Good Times and Farrah Fawcett's Jill from Charlie' Angels. It's weird, but I do associate this very classic style with two icons of the 70's & 80's that somehow embodied humor, crass, sexiness, athleticism and independence all while having THE best smiles on network television! Wedges also remind me of Soul Train dancers jamming to Shalamar on Saturday mornings. That's probably why I'm still so fond of these joints even today-- cause nostalgically for me these kicks are totally linked to bad a$s women and soul! Needless to say I'm happy their back in style. Frankly I was wedge and platform sandal crazy in '99 and b/c I never throw anything away, I will be rocking my Steve Maddens and Luichiny's this summer cause they are thehotness. The SM's are pretty standard w/ tan leather straps crisscrossing the top. The Luichi's though are totally unique, black leather peep toes with a 4-inch dark brown wooden wedge platformed heel. They are crazy fly and being that I'm almost 5'10" without them, can you imagine how fiercely Amazonian I look with them! I wish I could've found pictures of them to post (yeah I really need to get a digital camera) but you'll have to take my word. And now that everything old is considered vintage I guess being a pack rat has its advantages.

And loving shoes doesn't mean being a fool for shoes (kinda like the rule I have about loving men). So you won't catch this hotgrrrl spending 5 or 6 bills on a pair of heels. Like I think these shoes are fiya, and these have my name, and in this specific case, shoe-size, written all over them, but instead I'll probably get these for the summer. I just can't break the piggy bank for kicks. And I love, love to walk around a lot, so I definitely can't be shelling out crazy loot for shoes that I can only walk from the front door to a taxi in. That's why this year I'm mostly excited about this place just for us grrrls who like to keep it real and tight laced.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

J*Davey @The Canal Room, NYC

On Wednesday night I went to see the supa hyped, totally buzzed about West Coast band J*Davey. I've been so curious to see this afropunk duo from La-La Land ever since I read about them here. The article made them sound so fresh, damn near revolutionary in their approach to music that nothing was going to keep me from seeing them this past Wednesday (yes I drank the Fader-aid)-- not a supposed new episode of Lost; not Gladys making her monthly visit-- Nada! My uptown homie Latasha rolled with me for support-- she had never heard of them, but was curious to see some potentially new hotness.

They were supposed to go on at 11pm but didn't hit the stage until 11:35, which meant all the folks that arrived at 9 and 9:30 had been meandering around the cash bar for like 2 hours and had nothing, but foam in the bottom of their Corona bottles long before the lights dimmed on stage. L & I got there around 10:30 and even we were totally exasperated by show time partly because we worked all day, but mostly because the DJ spinning beforehand was awful. Her transitions were abrupt and non-rhythmic and her song selection was wacky.

When Brook D'Leau and Briana Cartwright, nee Jack Davey hit the stage I was relieved that she looked as stylish as she did in Fader and in the pics I had seen from her performance at The Roots pre-Grammy jam session and not jacked like the shots of her in this month’s Urb. Of course it was hard for me to focus on her style much less her set, because in the background there was a porno playing. Yep, they played their entire set against a screen of pornography. And yeah I get it. They are a fresh, cutting-edge ultra sexy band and to play a set of somewhat deliciously funky joints with someone getting head as your backdrop is tre edgy, right? Uuuhhhh, not quite! It was tre distracting, especially if, like me, you’ve never seen the group and you're only familiar with one of their songs, and especially if you’ve only seen like two skin flicks in your life. It's like listening to a politician speak, but his fly is open. Who can concentrate on campaign promises when, as Latasha abruptly pointed out 15 minutes into their set, they're competing against double penetration scenes (that were blurred but not enough to keep our eyes from popping wide open)? This is what Jack had to say about the porn:
okay, so 2 days before the show, cat from URB hit me & asked if we wanted anything projected during our performance, y'know, maybe some old home videos or whatever. i instantly got this idea of blurred silhouetted bodies moving together, so i suggested porn...blurred so folks wouldn't be able to make out exactly what was goin on, but they'd get the point that some shit was goin on. i wanted the color contrast completely saturated. i had it all mapped out in my head. the porn would be an interesting twist because i'm already aware that once i stepped on stage all eyes would be focused on me...people would listen to the music & focus completely on this mohawked creature onstage. then at some point, the eyes would start to scan the rest of the stage, & eventually they would land on the blurry porn & try to make out what was goin on...then (hopefully) the eyes & ears would sync up and people would start to zone out & listen to the music, thus enhancing the overall experience of the live show...maybe it didn't come across like that, but it was a great experiment imo...
Personally it took about 35 minutes and finally by the fourth song, I was able to take my eyes off of the backdrop and listen to J*Davey. Their beats were fiya-- kinda like Goldie meets meets Radiohead. Jack's voihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifce was cute, but kinda uninspiring and totally swallowed-up at times in the crazy loud distorted bass. Brook was looking too fine on synth/keys/ MAC. The fourth and fifth songs in the set were dope though. One had a hook that said something like "Miss J's gonna get her way" and something about "his wifey," but I can't remember now. Did I mention what a sexy muh-fuh Brook is? I’ve d-loaded 2 of their songs-- Mr. Mister and No More (thanks AO!)and I'm absolutely digging them. I so wish I would have liked their live performance more. But I'm your typical jaded, hard to impress New Yawker. Just in that space alone, which was previously Shine, in the last two years, I've seen Floetry, Cody ChestnuTT, Tamar Kali, and Sweetback and they, for the most part, killed it! I'm loving their two tracks and so I'm still open to seeing another J*Davey show. I will just tell myself that this first experience was, like most first sexual experiences, awkward, uneasy and just not good. But I have every confidence that the next time I experience J*Davey in the flesh, we will be in sync and I'll love every minute of it.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Pink Side of HipHop: Images of Black Women in Rap Music Videos

I finally made it to Brooklyn this past Saturday to The Reel Sisters Film Fest panel on images of Black women in film. I say "finally" because with that summery weather in effect, everyone I know including myself, was outdoors, chillin at sidewalk cafes and avoiding at all costs, long trips on the subway and even longer moments indoors in some university auditorium. Anyway by the time I arrived panelists and audience members were talking about women in music videos, which isn't film but I guess in terms of Black women and images shaping popular thought and powerful mediums than I guess BET trumps MGM, and videos hos not Regina King are the hot topics of the day. (Sidebar: The success behind Tyler Perry's films and plays were mentioned in reference to the differences in high and low Black entertainment—for the record Madea is considered low and is extremely popular and therefore should be analyzed as one way of pinpointing the social behaviors and pleasures of Black folk. I heard Halle and Monster's Ball was never even mentioned, my oh my how we've moved on!)

The panel was pretty much the usual fare served up in black feminism discourse. You know... the way in which rap music is detrimental to the psyche of sisters and is having a huge affect on young girls around issues of self-esteem and body image and how these hiphop videos define Black female idenity on a global level. It also seems like "It’s Hard Out Here for A Pimp" and specifically its Oscar honor has many a folk upset--like undies-in-a-bunch upset. (More on that later too...or this post will be of encyclopedia like proportions)

Anyway I've heard it all before so if my short-hand makes the panel discussion sound like empty blabber, scuse me, cause that’s not my intention. I've just been to too many panels about this subject and for me they just don't inspire. Instead they simultaneously infuriate and bore me (actually the fact that I'm usually bored about what should be a sizzling topic is what leads to the infuriation), which may not necessarily be a bad thing b/c it makes my wandering, incensed mind think about what I can do through my writings to be progressive, proactive and inspiring. But there were two standout memories. The first was how very few people showed up (again the beautiful weather had to be a factor), but how frickin' dynamically bright and well versed the members of the audience were (well except for 1, but that's my 2nd standout memory). In the audience: Bethann Hardison, Greg Tate, Charles Stone, Arthur Jafa, Michaela angela Davis, Shola Lynch, and Vince Morgan.

Some of the things said that I liked:
Jacquie Jones (moderator): "I don’t think it’s okay to make money at our exepense. There needs to be more critical engagement by those that consume these images. Russell Simmons has two daughters and can’t even answer questions on the topic. It's crazy."

Charles Stone: "I think there's no sense of imagination-- guys aren't imagining what a woman looks like without clothes instead it's just about seeing cleavage. With technology's popularity it's just about instant gratification."

Joan Morgan: "When you talk about and critique these images, you give them power."
The 2nd standout moment was when this Black woman filmmaker got up and said that she didn't understand why the panel (and audience) was wasting so much time discussing the perils of how these images affected young girls and how rap music videos promoted unhealthy sexual attitudes between Black girls and boys. She basically was of the mindset that it's the parents responsibility to mold and set the bar for how Black kids behave, and that rappers and filmmakers shouldn't be burdened with the responsibility of having healthy images and portrayals of Black folk in their works. That would be fine and dandy if the Black Family was still intact and on the up and up, but I thought everyone knew that TV, movies, video games and Trina are shaping the consciousness of Black adolescents and adult males and females.

True I didn't grow up wanting to be a stripper or having the desire to shake my booty in some video (even though I did about 11 years ago). Me and my girls grew-up making mud pies, playing double-dutch and eating FDA approved meals every night with our folks. But then again the TV programs of choice back then were The Electric Company and Fame and later they became Video Music Box, Kojak and Dallas. A far cry from today's totally popular BET's "Uncut", Sex and The City, MTV's "Real World." By no means did I ever want to re-enact the crazy shower scenes featuring JR Ewing and his many mistresses. And Music Box was no Music Television! It was harmless hiphop profiling that featured cats around our way in videos shot in someone's basement or in the some park. There were no video vixens just girls chillin (albeit in the background) in their Le Tigre tops and Lee jeans. We knew about the prostitutes in Times Square and Hunts Point and that the strip joint over the bridge going to Pelham right before you got to IHOP hired some high school girls, so we heard. But we thought all of that was nasty and being nasty was being unladylike. We wanted to be doctors, teachers and actresses like Diana Ross in Mahoghany...we wanted to be ladies. I mean when we wore miniskirts we usually had shorts underneath cause no one was down for having their booty accidentally exposed. It just wasn't fresh back then. So times they are a changing and yeah it may be hard out here for a pimp, but it's even harder out here for 12-year old girls who give blow jobs to be popular and whose parents have no clue or worse could care less. Infuriated indeed!

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

5 Things To Do In 4 Days

1.) Dance, Sip & Sushi at Ubiquity—the hottest dance party in NYC. Tonight Carol C from the super fly Latin group, Sisè, will be spinning her favorite House jams with resident DJs Reborn, Selly and Moni taking the wheels a lil' later. Tonight Kim Knox and crew will be serving sushi and they're picking up the tab. UBIQUITA@SUTRA LOUNGE- 16 First Ave. Bet. 1st & 2nd Sts.; 8-10pm

2.) Celebrate-- The Opening Night gala awards ceremony for The Reel Sisters Film Festival honoring award-winning filmmaker Julie Dash (Daughters of The Dust). This year’s festival will celebrate the work of Zora Neale Hurston as an inspiration for women filmmakers. KUMBLE THEATER on the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island Univ. (@ DeKalb & Flatbush Avenues); 6:30pm. For more information or tickets, please visit reelsisters.org or call 718.488.1052.

3.) Power Shop—Get your shop on first at the grand re-opening of Harriet's Alter Ego. There’ll be complimentary makeovers by Noir Cosmetics and a performance by St. Juste @ 4:30pm. HARRIET'S ALTER EGO - 293 Flatbush Ave. Bklyn, NY 11217. (btw. St. Marks & Prospect Pl.); 718.783.2074; harrietsalterego.com.12- 8pm.

4.) Next make some power moves at Saturday's Reel Sisters Power Panel: "Moving Images: The Shifting Image of Black Women in Film" with Jacquie Jones (Moderator), Thulani Davis, Julie Dash (this year’s Pioneer Award winner), & Joan Morgan. A hip discussion on video hos, sexuality and surely some mention of Halle's role in Monster's Ball. Brooklyn Campus of LIU (@ DeKalb & Flatbush Aves.); reelsisters.org/; 4pm.

5.) Relax

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Something New

When will all of this talk about the Oscars and the "magic of movie making" end? And yet in the midst of all the blabbering, for some reason, I still feel like no one has said squat of substance in the last 72 hours. Well except maybe for George Clooney and his comments about Hollywood in regards to Hattie McDaniels & also to AIDS in his acceptance speech. I found it a tad refreshing and smart. We all know Clooney had a way with us grrrls, but after that Hattie McDaniels comment, I'm sure Dr. Ross is going to be getting a lot more than just points and kudos from sisters. Ha, ha!

Well actually there's something I'd like to get off my chest about Something New-- the first feature to be directed, written, produced and starring African-American women. I saw it the weekend before last and thought the concept of interracial dating, even with regard to Black women, is not really something new, but actually something that's a bit played out. Sanaa Lathan was cute and typical in her role as Kenya, but she was at her best when being a funny goof-off like when she thinks there's a spider in her hair. I know I'm not the only one who’s had a similar outburst while enjoying nature.

Anyway I guess my two major points of contention about this flick is firstly, the idea that Black women with backgrounds similar to Kenya's (i.e. middle-upper class, who have gone to private or prep schools or in this case, who’ve attended an ivy league college) has not experienced either first hand or through the experiences of friends, interracial dating. C'mon, Black girls were dating white boys in my NYC high school and that was back in the late 80's. And having graduated from a small ivy, so many of my girls--like way more than half-- dated, and clutch your pearls, even married outside of their race… Nicola, Robin, Lesley, Bahia, Alanna, Kerita, and I could go on and on. Personally my first dip into cool whip happened after college. He turned me on to Rush, which is one of favorite groups to this day and I turned him onto Nas. It was a short, but memorable run. So I could see if Kenya was from the PJ's or went to Spelman or Howard then maybe the idea of dating a white guy may be terrifying, icky or foreign, but I just wasn't buying her trepidation at all!

Just looking at our Black girl celebrity landscape, its clear that the only person still thinking Black and White love is "new" is Kriss Turner–the film’s writer. Let's see we've got Halle, Eve, Aisha Tyler, Serena Williams, Tyra Banks, Thandie Newton, Naomi Campbell, Robin Givens and my favorite, Da Brat, either dating or married to white men. I don't see what the big deal is and why it constituted a movie or better yet, why the plot of the movie was about it being a big deal. Which brings me to part 2 of my beef.

Why does New, as did Guess Who, revolve around the premise that Black folks are the (only) ones freaked out by interracial dating when history has shown us, as has my own personal experiences, that white families usually are the ones (more) terrified by just the thought. In all of the instances that I've known including the one in which my father's brother married an Irish woman, Black families tend to welcome so-called "outsiders" into the family or at the very least, the dinner table. Whereas I've heard so many white families threaten their kin with disassociation (as that being the case with my aunt), being written out of wills and all kinds of disrespectful attempts to break-up the union. So needless to say, I was disappointed to see Alfre Woodard's character just acting-up and being so ill, while seeing Brian's (Simon Baker) mom at the end portrayed with such happiness and sheer joy for their marriage.

Okay, why did I just hear that Oprah's show today is about this very thing?!? What a frickin coinky-dink! Well I won't be able to see it so please leave comments on the site and let me know what went down. I'm so curious to hear what Oprah's spin is on the subject.

And while I'm talking about movies I would be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of legendary filmmaker Gordon Parks who I had the opportunity to see in November in a very intimate tribute. What a timely blessing!


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Kimora Lee’s Fabulosity

Last Monday night I went by Hue Man bookstore in Harlem to check out Miss Kimora and to get an up close look at what she and all this talk about Fabulosity was all about. One thing’s for sure it’s not about being punctual. I got there around 6:45 and there were people at the door shouting to passersby on the street to come on in and see Kimora...live! You would think they were promoting some three-headed freak marquee circus act, but then of course that would have probably enticed more people to attend than the numbers that actually showed. There were police barricades and even a red velvet rope outside, but none of that was needed as Hue Man easily accommodated the 40 or so people that came (a fraction of the folk that showed up for Wendy Williams and Alicia Keys). Finally, an hour after her scheduled book signing was to begin, Kimora, sporting a beautiful green spaghetti-strapped top entered, the cameras flashed, the crowd applauded and Kimora took center stage...well actually she doubled back into a room and closed the door. Five minutes later she emerged, but now wearing a fur jacket and rocking a gazillion dollar smile. Oddly for someone whose book is not flying off the shelves, her publicist BJ Coleman seemed really nonchalant about the whole affair. He limited her Q&A to like 10 minutes (despite the 20 people w/ raised hands and inquiring minds) and he didn’t allow for any interviews. As if that move would put a stop to the negative press and scathing interviews Kimora seems to attract?! I remember last year, maybe two years ago, I was asked to interview her, but only with the understanding that Andre Harrell would be asking the questions and that her peeps have final say on the finished copy. Needless to say that never happened, but I think she ended up making the pages of said mag anyway for her alleged drug possession charge. That mug shot got 10 times more play than her naked booty Baby Phat ad. Anyway I digress. Back at HueMan, Kimora, (unlike her handlers), was mad friendly, took a ton of photos with anyone who asked and seemed to prefer to talk to the girls in the house than talk about her book. About Fabulosity, Russell’s wife did have this to say:
Fabulosity is knowing that you are fabulous and that you deserve to be here. That everything (you) are doing is what you are supposed to be doing at that moment.
She also mentioned that every girl should wear something gold to play up our golden complexions and that we should not leave home without a tube of lip gloss. Okay so now we know that there is no fabulosity without a hot pink tube of lip gloss and self-confidence requires an over the top cache of bling and oh yeah, it doesn't hurt if your man is rich. Well aren't you glad that being theHotness is so much simpler than being fabulous?!?

Upcoming Book Signings:

03.20.06 12:30 PM at Barnes & Noble – North Broad Street. Philly, PA (Temple Univ.)
04.04.06 7:00 PM at FIT – West 27th Street. New York, NY.