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...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Black Body Radiation

Black Body Radiation is the cinematic brainchild and debut of Women in Love founder, Burnt Sugar lead conductor, guitarist and notorious "Lesbian in Me" scribe, Greg Tate. And like it's writer and director, this short is complicated, imaginative, erratic, enigmatic, spirited, confusing at times and totally ambitious. I caught a screening of it this past Sunday at Danny Simmons Gallery in Clinton Hill with about 80 other heads and must admit I really dug this flick's other worldliness.

Radiation is 35 minutes of sci-fi drama, knee-deep in post-apocalyptic scheming and provocative Black love that splices and dices Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and remixes it with Octavia's Butler's oeuvre. Even though the action takes place in a futuristic Brooklyn, Tate cleverly, keeps it grounded by using current in the hood sub-themes like baby daddy dilemmas, housing issues, fly Black grrrls going crazy, and dudes who want relations with more women than they can handle. The casting is superb physically and technically speaking. Karen Good as Kulu, this fierce priestess leader, is a wonder to watch and when she offers her guests tea and then grits with a steady eye and a smile that is part smirk part sneer you see that girlfriend not only has a gift for writing but also for acting. She told me her role is akin to that of The Oracle from the Matrix and sho nuff, she gives the film a nice balance of energy and edge that both sticks and moves. Brianna Hyneman is also wonderful as Naima this warrior goddess. She looks amazing on screen and delivers her lines with just enough tude to give her character depth without making her a stereotype. Her scenes with her husband reminded me of the nuanced moments between the couple in one of my favorite movies Killer of Sheep.

Check the film's myspace page for dates when it will screen again. It's a movie heads should check for a number of reasons, but, like most folks who saw it with me would probably say, mainly because it's one of the few times you will see Black folk in such an imaginative context without there being any pale faces in the mix to mess with, taint or otherwise distort our crazy genius. It's a beautiful Black mind f*ck if nothing else!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dream Girls

I've heard all the hype. Read the rumors about jealous girls and bitter women. And finally, last Thursday, I saw THE movie of '06-- Dream Girls.

It was everything I knew it would be flashy, fabulous and yes, fantastic! Having seen the play and been touched literally and figuratively by both former Effies-- the original Jennifer Holiday and the oft forgotten Lilias White, I have to admit I am a bonafide Dream Girl's Grrrl. I still have my original Playbill and I still get all misty-eyed when I think back to I guess it was '88 or '89 when I waited by the back stage exit for Ms. White. I needed to testify and tell her just how much Dream Girls had changed my life and that I knew now I had no choice but to follow my dreams to be an actress-singing sister too. Well Ms. White came out, I confessed and laid it all out on the line (tears and all) and she signed my Playbill and took me out to dinner and believe me I have never been the same since that night! Anyway back to the flick.

I know Jennifer Holliday wanted to be recast as Effie, which is totally bananas. Ummm, hello she is like 20 years too old for the part! It's so sad to see that this sister cannot let go of this role. For what it's worth in a way I can see why she is so bound to Effie Melody White. As much as she made and embodied that role, that character ended up making her and defining not only her career but her life. I mean who knows that Nell Carter was the original Effie before leaving to go to Hollywood for Gime A Break? And believe me no one even mentions so much as a peep about Lilias. I hear Holliday even fell madly in love with the director Michael Bennett and of course that love never blossomed because he was gay and so, in so many ways her life became Effie’s-- no love, no major recording success, etc.

On the other hand, I don't foresee Jennifer Hudson having those same issues. No doubt she sparkles and simmers on screen and when she sings it’s crazy how her voice just leaps off the screen and leaves the audience shook. You woulda thought she was on stage the way folks were hollering and clapping. It was mad emotional up in Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and I was in a theater full of journalists no less. But Ms. Hudson gots that thang that transports you right to the belly of her pain, her determination, her ish. She ain’t no Jennifer Holiday and frankly I'm glad. This gives Hudson the room to create her own path wherein Effie remains a character and doesn't eat her whole. Beyonce looks good and sounds good too. She did was she was supposed to do as Deena—look glamorous and sound sweet. Anika Noni Rose however is stunning! Definitely the best actor of the bunch she gives so much in her facial expressions-- in her eyes. Because of the never-ending Beyonce/ Jennifer drama everyone is missing this Tony-award winning actress who gives a performance that is touching, fiery and delicate all at once.

Definitely see this movie and let me know what you think. On my way out that night I bumped into Oprah's galpal Gayle and she said that this was her third time seeing it and she thought the crowd was a bit subdued in comparison to the other screenings she had attended. Anyway I'm just glad that a positive movie with a Black cast is going to make so much money and has folk excited the way I was almost 18 years ago. You know Magic Johnson Theaters across the nation are going to be off the chain on Christmas. I gotta see it again and this time at the MJT in Harlem just to see the popcorn and chicken tenders fly-up in the air when folks hear And I Am Telling You!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

9 Things I'm Thankful For

During this holiday season I can't help but look back on my life and on a year that is quickly coming to an end and be thankful for a few things.. well okay, 9 things:

1. I'm thankful that Nicole Ritchie was either honest enough or high enough to admit she was on drugs when recently arrested for DUI. It gives me hope that maybe she'll finally fess up to having an eating disorder and Im not talking about that nutritional conundrum that is allegedly keeping her from gaining weight cause we all saw the photos of her pre-Simple Life and that badunka-dunk was quite full of junka-junk. "Yes I smoke weed and yes I only eat the pickles when I order Big Macs." C'mon girl you can say it!

2. Thankful that Rupert Murdoch had sense enough to shut down OJ's If I Hadda Done It publicity stunt. Talk about a real dummy!

3. Thankful that that 3-ring circus of a wedding by Tomkat is finally over. Maybe I can hear some real news for a change. Like hello there is a war and yeah police are still shooting elderly Black women and unarmed Black men... 50 times no less.

4. I am eternally grateful that there will be no more Flavor of Love episodes. Which means no more booty-shaking (now I can simply rely on BET for all of that), spitting, sneaker-throwing and oh we just can't forget all the other sh*t that went down! And I specifically mean the feces going down that chick's leg who thought it prudent to crap on herself just to make sure she got a clock. (Although the premiere for I Love New York is right around the corner I am predicting this will flop and not leave the kind of nasty imprint as its predecessor).

5. I saw Terrence Howard yesterday and as he was checking me out, I returned the love. Can't say I spotted his ubiquitous man-purse, which I am actually so thankful for (hated it!), but I think he was with his moms and so maybe she was carrying his stash in her bag.

6. Thank you Lordy for no more America’s Next Top Model too. See number 4 for why I'm glad to see this boob tube bore end its season run (i.e. the stereotypes). Just substitute the contestant crapping on herself for that chick who faked peeing in the bed. What the hell is up with these sisters and bodily functions that should be taking place in the privacy of their bathrooms and not on national TV. Besides I'm still reeling from Nnenna not winning season 6. Even the special guests photographers and modeling reps were like she has the potential to be the biggest ANTM winner and that was like in the third episode, but yet Danielle wins. Like I said I'm flabbergasted and no, that ain't something I can just deal with in the bathroom.

7. For TMZ.com. Because of them rarely is there any instance or event that goes unrecorded. Thanks to them we are able to see in living color how one of America's funny men from one of America's most beloved comedies flips the N-word again and again and again. Can we say comedy of errors?

8. Maxwell's return!

9. And finally I'm thankful for this blog being so fresh (yeah I'm patting myself on the back) that NY MAG is bitin our rhymes and Gawker is reporting on fabulous folk that we done talked about almost a year ago. Now that's why we're theHotness and they're just not!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

High Society, Japan Society, & Harlem's Café Society

Ever since I declared my self-imposed Harlem Hiatus way back in February of this year, I've been out and about exploring new frontiers. From my voyages to Brooklyn to my escapes out East, I've enjoyed meeting new peeps and seeing wonderful new thangs. Last week was mostly about exploring the other side of 96th Street and moving beyond the temple of my familiar.

Tuesday night I had a function to attend that related to my 9-5. I had to meet and greet multi-millionaire philanthropists and the young, brilliant recipients of all their loot. Let me stress that these people were wealthy which is like being rich squared to the highest power people and I was one of only three Black faces in the joint. It soon became apparent to me that most of the folks there rarely interface with people of color especially women (that is unless you are counting their nannies and I'm not). For all of my cross cultural hobnobbing I found myself feeling nervous, overwhelmed, anxious and uber confident all at once. I did my thing, which was basically proving to these folks why I was socializing and not carrying a silver tray in my hand, all while rocking my olive green Diane Von Furstenberg dress. These cats didn't know what to make of me. I kid you not. Someone actually said to me "ooh you are exquisite," which I might have taken as a compliment if they didn't say it in such a way that made it sound as if they were gawking over a rare Faberge egg.

I had never heard of Japan Society before visiting there on Wednesday night where Mediabistro was having a reception for freelance writers. I was totally amped because I love so many aspects of Japanese culture-- the food, the language, their customs and even the popular Tokyo street fashion of the Harajuku district that Gwen Stefani has appropriated to death. (In this book there is this wonderful essay--The Black Asianphile in Me by Latasha Natasha Diggs that really gets into Black folks' fascination [and adoration] with Asian culture that I think is brilliant. She talks about everything from the local Chinese food spot in Harlem to Taimak to how brothers used to weild Nunchakus like they do PSP's today.) The purpose of the reception was not just to meet and greet other freelance writers but it was also to celebrate the Society's 100th anniversary. It was very cool. The champagne, the duck, the sushi. Yummy! But the real hotness were the clay pieces currently on exhibit. You see The Japan Society is more than a group of people but it also represents the building or should I say art gallery that houses the organization. Aesthetically it will blow your mind! The actual art gallery resembles a traditional Japanese structure-- low ceilings, lots of bamboo and shoji screens. And then you have the clay. There was one piece that was blow torched into a black cracking molt of clay and then was turned inside out and put in a kiln. The result is this piece that looks like it was shot out of Vesuvias. It was totally black and charred with red over tones and simply exquisite. I had a great time but honestly I didn't meet any freelance writers. I did however discover the delicious wonders of Cava and for those of you who know me know that I was just as pleased if not more so to discover a new libation.

Last stop of the week was on Thursday where I actually went to an event in Harlem. While on my way to a Harlem World mag reception at a relatively new spot—Tribal Spears Gallery, I was astonished at how 8th Avenue (from 110th-118th) in particular has just exploded into this urban oasis of cafes. There's Saurin Parke on 110th, Zapo on 113th and then Society Café on 114th, Tribal Spears on 117th and Les Ambassades on 118th. Dang, on every corner there's a bodega and now on every other one there is a café. Now I can get a $4 latte and a 25-cent bag of UTZ anytime I want! And who said Harlem wasn't on the come-up?!?

Check out this event tonight at Mcnally Robinson:

In the Black Female Literary Tradition:
Three Contemporary Authors on Black Women's Books
With Bridgett Davis, Martha Southgate and Eisa Nefertari Ulen


52 Prince St.
(between Lafayette and Mulberry)