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 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)



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12/12/2006 6:10 PM


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