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...

Monday, February 19, 2007

A President's Day Quickie

Okay so I'm running out the door but I just stumbled on this editorial by author Trey Ellis. He's commenting on Blackness and politics and therefore on Obama:
I bit my tongue for as long as I could, reading essay after essay about Obama and his "blackness" that were about as insightful as if they'd been written in the era of Flip Wilson. Geez! Doesn't anybody watch the Disney Channel these days? The complexion of America has changed in the last thirty years.

His comments are interesting if not controversial as he takes his 1989 theory on The New Black Aesthetic and remixes it for a discussion on what he calls cultural mulattos:
A genetic mulatto is a black person of mixed parents who often can get along fine with his white grandparents, a cultural mulatto, educated by a multi-racial mix of cultures, can also navigate easily in the white world.
I hear Trey on the prevalence of cultural mulatto-ing. I mean my girl Nae and I have a whole run down on the pros and cons of attending Hunter High School for six years and how our real education came not so much from the literature we studied or the mathematical equations we solved but from our social interactions with boys and girls of all ethnicities, shades and financial backgrounds. We learned things about race that no book can teach and use those same lessons to this day in Corporate America. The whole theory on why do all the Black kids eat at the same lunch table just gets flipped to why do all the Black girls go out for drinks together after work? Do we straddle the fence of being in a Black and White world yeah I guess so. But does that straddling come into conflict with our Blackness. Nope not for us personally and not really for the white or Black folks we deal with. A few things about Trey editorial that I don't understand or agree with:

About Colin Powell-- truth is all my peeps whether they are born in Jamaica or born in England or born here will still say they are Jamaican because that is their culture and their family’s homeland. I don't ever hear any of them say they are Black American and furthermore I don't see what’s the big deal. Maybe I'm missing something here. Please y’all help me out!

This sentence here about Denise, Sandra, Vanessa and Rudy Huxtable:
The culturally mulatto Cosby girls are equally as black as a black teenage welfare mother.
I kinda disagree with him here because of the role class plays in how they rolled in their Blackness and therefore what they were exposed to and how that was played out. I mean the girls never talked about their hair and how different that was from their white friends. What Black girl in all white or in mixed environments never thinks about their hair or their skin complexion especially in the 80’s? (Of course this gets really complicated when we look at Sandra and Denise who in real life are both biracial and looked very much like the genetic mulattas they really were in spite of being cast as the children of two very brown-skinned parents!) In terms of Black culture it is still hard for me to say that the Huxtables were the quintessential Black fam. Just as I have a hard time swallowing that James, Florida and the rest of the Evans crew were the ultimate Black family. I know Trey would ask me was one fam more Black than the other and I guess in theory I would have to say no. It’s just in 2007 it still seems like these types of conversations in the first place do so much to stifle, contort and constrict definitions of all that Black folks are. Do Asians have these same conversations?

And then although I think Trey’s essay is engaging and definitely a good convo for the water cooler I do feel like his last sentence just simplifies everything. But maybe like me he was tight on time and didn't have a chance to say more so I won’t be mad. Alright I gotta bounce there's some President's Day sales I need to check out.


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Thursday, February 15, 2007

bell hooks & Sonia Sanchez @Hue-Man TONIGHT!

Sonia Sanchez and bell hooks come to Harlem: (from website)

bell hooks and Sonia Sanchez have continued to provide the public with exquisite works such as When Angels Speak Of Love, Like Singing Coming Off A Drum, and Shake Loose My Skin. Share this “celebration of love” with Hue-Man and receive first-hand advice from these pioneers of prose.

Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd
Between 124th and 125th Streets

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Please Don't Give Me Roses!

Did you know that the roses you buy from that corner store or shi-shi florist don't even have a scent? Yep they are bred to not smell like a rose or anything for that matter. Allegedly fragrant roses die faster. I discovered this little fact while watching CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday. So how ironic is it that the one flower most sought out, bought, wrapped and sent to thousands, shoot millions of women on this day has no smell and furthermore will die faster in environments over 60 degrees... of course that would be most places in which humans can thrive especially in the middle of February during snow and sleet storms. But who cares about any of that? As long as they get their long stems on Valentine's Day all these semantics can go to pot, which btw is where those long green thornless stems will be by February 18. Oh yes by February 18th, if not before, all this hype about love, commitment and romance will go back to where it once lived-- in the imagination and desires of women (and men) looking for love in all the wrong places. Frankly I learned at a very young age that Valentines Day is just like Easter (and later to my horror, like Santa-centered Christmases) in that it's a capitalist ideal to commodify love, romance and friendship.

My first Valentine's Day memories are of my dad every February 14th coming home from work with two small red satin hearts filled with Brach's chocolates for my sister and I and one huge box for my mommy that was filled with all kinds of crème filled delights. Getting these gifts didn't show or prove my father's love for me but if anything it was a reminder of the love he had for us—his three ladies. Frankly at least once or twice every week my dad would bring home a treat for us whether it was a pack of lifesavers or some lanyard to make our butterfly key chains-- every week was like Valentine’s for us and no matter how big or small the gift we always acted like we just got a fricking dollhouse or a new bike. We were overjoyed because we liked knowing that even at work we were still foremost on his mind and plus we were greedy girls too!

For whatever strange, cosmic reasons I am usually single on Valentine’s Day and usually, especially this year, quite forgetful that the 14th of February is Cupid’s moment to get his swerve on. That is until I'm out and about. For like three years straight I found myself hanging out with my good friend T on February 14th. At the time we worked together and would always be out and about drinking beer, watching basketball and so it was business as usual for us until we hit the lounges or the bars. There would always be throngs of women at tables talking loud, wearing either red or pink and drinking like nobody’s business. This would seem off because at the locales we would hang, there would never be large groups of women (or even men for that matter) and surely not so many in pink sweaters. I remember one year we went to this spot in SOHO that no one really knew about to get a drink and upon entering we saw like damn near every table filled with women and they were talking loud about not needing a man to be happy and taking shots of tequila to wash down their obvious joy at being single independent. I looked at T and we both laughed and toasted to not being sucked into the lunacy of what this day came to mean for so many women and men.

In 1996 I was dating this dude and I remember asking him what he wanted to do for Valentine’s Day and he said “nothing.” I looked at him like damn could you be a little more specific. But he quickly asked me, “Isn’t everyday you’re with me Valentine’s Day? Don’t I give you flowers and sweets every week? Did I not give you a massage and run a hot aromatherapy bath for you last week? Didn’t I make you a love mixtape for you last month and aren’t we going away to a Connecticut B&B next month? Do we really need to do something on Valentine’s Day when the prices have been jacked up for everything? I was shocked not by the bluntness of his words but how honestly and consistently he had infused love, intimacy and romance into our love life almost daily. And I tell you, that Valentine's Day he cooked dinner for me and we watched TV and listened to jungle music all night and it was great. Ever since then I have been upfront with the men that I date and told them that I really don't care about V-day, but how I expect our relationship to embody all that ish that Valentine's Day promotes for one day everyday. And it's worked out just wonderfully.

Some men get it. Some men don't. This year has been particularly insightful for me because I think I have been more open about my needs to certain suitors and even to my male friends just because as I get older, I'm learning that being vulnerable ain't half bad. Although that can be misconstrued too like when this ex, who after flaking on me three times when I needed his help during a crisis, asked for my help to sell the engagement ring he got his ex-fiance. Or when I asked Mr. J to come over to cuddle and he emailed me back that he would have to pass (as if we were playing poker or something) and then ended up blogging the next day about how he wants to give me more but couldn’t. I swear technology is taking over as the roses of the future—quick, easy and detached.

Seriously, at the end of the day not only do I not want roses, I don’t even like them-- such a boring cliché. I mean what is passion without the scent of sweat, of flowers, of perfume, of a homecooked meal? What is love without ardor? At the end of the day, and the beginning too, I want intimacy, honesty, support, comfort and I want to laugh. I want to hear your voice on the end of the line, I want to feel your breath on the back of my neck, I want you to act on your thoughts and not be afraid.

Shout out to Bill, Greg, Kiani and Karen G. who have all requested that I write more personal posts about life, love and myself. So here’s the first one. Tell me what you think.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Vibe Vixen, Uptown, UNleashed & Giant Mags

This may be old news for some but I just found out a few weeks ago that Harriette Cole, the former Editorial Director of Uptown, was recently named Creative Director of Ebony.
Cole’s focus in her new position is to try to strengthen the fashion and beauty coverage in Ebony in order to attract younger readers. She is also responsible for the overall look and design of Ebony, which last underwent a redesign in 2003.
That means major staff changes at Uptown as I hear she also nabbed their Art Director, Corinne Walker, before taking flight from their 1-2-5 offices. Erickka Sy Savane, their Editor at Large, the seat I once filled, has also jumped ship. Staying behind and holding it down are original players Sekou "Writes" and Melissa Kramer. Former Vibe Vixen editor, Ayanna Byrd will take the helm as Uptown's new EIC. I hope the Black muckety-muck mag continues to improve cause the current issue with John Legend on the cover is great and surely their best issue yet! (blogger's note: thanks for finally putting JL on the cover it is a good look)

Speaking of Vixen I hear from a very credible source that former Honey EIC and Essence exec, Michaela angela Davis is front runner for that EIC slot. And while I’m mentioning Michaela let me offer a retraction to something I said earlier about Honey that got her a lil riled up. When I said I wasn’t feeling the “last issues” of Honey I didn’t literally mean the last four that were published while she was rocking the top of the masthead. I just meant I wasn’t feeling the direction-- the overall content, the look of the mag after Joicelyn and Kierna left. I remember seeing only one of the issues that Michaela edited but did not see the other three. I did, however, see the 13 or so issues that were published under the two Ms. A’s that helmed the mag before Michaela and I thought they pretty much sucked!

The only thing that probably sucks over at Giant is that big ole vacuum Smokey is pushing to collect the revenue that that mag must be generating with its fantastic ads and the sweet deal they just closed with Radio One. And let’s not forget they had Jennifer Hudson on their cover before both Vogue and Essence.

And about that Vogue cover I was shocked to hear that Jennifer was the first Af-Am singer to grace its cover. I just knew Beyonce had a hold on that record but I guess my grrrl Jen done came in first again.

And oh my Lord, did y’all hear that allegedly Ron Samuel the former Publisher of the very hot looking mag UNleashedwas indicted on money laundering and is now serving time in a Californian jail. Not sure how true that story is but it is one that I’ve heard on more than one occasion. Does anyone know if there’s anything popping at Essence with either the staff or the direction of the mag? And what’s up with the Source and that other new HipHop Weekly publication that Joicelyn and I think Kierna are both working on with Dave Mays? I haven’t even seen it yet? Have you? C’mon gimme the scoop!

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Grammy Night

I missed the first 40 minutes but here's my run-down on last night's show:
1: Mary J. Blige's performance was outstanding! She looked stunning and sophisticated in her silver-white gown (got rid of that diamond tooth). And the whole opera-inspired set was one bit over the top cause MJB was giving us mad royal-flav, divaesque divinations and Kathleen Battle hair. I'm not even one of those chicks that's just crazy about Mary just cause. Honestly I think half the time when she sings her off pitch shrill is not cool. But last night her vocals were strong and sweet like Jamaican coffee on a breezy morning. When she came out later in that red jumpsuit I was floored. Mary looked and sounded better than ever! Last night was ladies night and our grrrl just made us all so proud!

2. On the flip side what the heck was Corinne Bailey Rae doing on stage last night? I kinda like her and her boheme booty but she sat there and strummed all of three notes last night and sang like she was in her bathtub. Does she even know how to play the guitar? Or better yet does she have a pulse?

3. Cee-lo has got the most beautifullest teeth and smile!

4. The audience gave Justin Timberlake a standing ovation, but not Ornette Coleman What the frack?

5. Common is too cute. Is he still single?

6. Was Smokey wearing a Black lace shirt or was my cable just screwed up and didn't he look bug-eyed like he had just seen a ghost or maybe he just made eye contact with Imogen Heap?

7. And why is Lionel Ritchie still the ishniz! I mean I was singing Hello and thinking about that song and how in 2007 it's still fresh and hot like cornbread and warm maple syrup.

8. Christina Aguillera singing It's a Man's World?!? Damn I really wanted to be mad at this Latina/Europhile for thinking she can sing a song so connected to Black Male Power and Identity, but she kinda killed it. Okay she murdered it! Did you see Jamie Foxx's expression afterwards? Honestly I don't think he would have been able to pull it off (I think he knows it too and so that's why he had to give CA a nod up). The same holds true for R. Kelly and Prince although I think their versions would be interesting, they may not really be fitting tributes to the Godfather of Soul. And I'm so glad they didn’t have what seems like the new progenitors of soul and R&B—Justin Timberlake or Robin Thicke—perform it. Grrrls like Alicia Keys and even MJB would have given it a nice try, but that’s about it. Yeah Christina did JB justice, but I still wish a brother sang that joint. Corey Glover, D'Angelo or even Anthony Hamilton would have surely turned that mutha out.

9. Okay I didn't realize how many legends in music we had lost in the past year-- Ahmet Ertegun, James Brown, Billy Preston, Ruth Brown, Arif Mardin, Gerald Levert...

10. Did Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" somehow inspire Tribe’s "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo"?

11. I don't care what anybody says Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" was the song of the year. That joint was played everywhere and loved by so many and the thought that they may have been snuffed because they turned down an offer by McDonalds which would have made "Crazy" soar into Golden Arch ubiquity should be counted as a win and not a loss.

12. The end of the show couldn't have been more anti-climatic. I like the Chili Peppers but they didn't get it up. Maybe that's what happens when they don't rock in their socks.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

She Shootin' Photography Opening

The She Shootin' Photography Collective presents:
A Drum Beats in Brooklyn:
A Photography Exhibition Celebrating the Drum-Based and African Influenced Traditions of Brooklyn

On View: February 14 through May 13, 2007
OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, February 15, 5:30 - 7:30pm

A Drum Beats in Brooklyn offers a panoramic view of traditions such as J'ouvert, Drummers Grove, Tribute to the Ancestors of the Middle Passage among others and show how they are uniquely Brooklyn. From the intimate gesture to the grand declaration, the She Shootin' Photography Collective document these celebrations that bring spectator and performer together and highlight the timeless magic of the drum.

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street - Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 222-4111
Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 5 p.m.
M, R to Court Street; 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall

Curated by the She Shootin' Photography Collective-- Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Delphine Fawundu-Buford, Ava Griffiths, Kerika Fields and Nsenga Knight. Five of Brooklyn's emerging women photographers invite us into their worlds through glimpses into their growing bodies of work. From candid portraiture to street photography, the images included in A Drum Beats in Brooklyn marks personal stations of these women's photographic journeys.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hot Grrrls Cool Music: Santogold is Stupid Fresh!

Santogold is the new evolution or should say revolution of Stiffed. It's Santi White remixed and renewed and right on time.

I've known Sant for awhile now-- atleast 10 years. We even lived together for a minute in '96 and during that time, especially on weekends when we were both around, I really got to know and love her. She's mad ambitious and passionate and always has a ton of things on her plate. Authentic, outspoken and mad funny, this Philly grrrl loves hard, but will also waste no time in letting you know when you have effed up. Just ask some of her homies or a certain rapper/actor ex.

When I heard she was writing songs for Res I wasn't surprised. She's always had a gift for telling great stories and is always following her mind and intuition like during the Internet Boom of the 90's when she launched an online store filled with the flyest goodies and wears. Then sensing, errr.... knowing that she could rock the mic just as fiercely as the singers she was writing for she decided to put a band together and like that Stiffed was born. I guess in dealing with the death of her father and finding true love and then moving back to BK she got that itch again and now she’s blowing wigs back as Santogold-- her solo persona non grata. Last week when I got the bulletin that she had posted a new song "Creator" on her myspace page I immediately went to check it out and have been playing that joint non-stop ever since. I love the sultry, playful, boasting attitude she emits in her vocals. It's stupid fresh!

And while on the subject of indie music gone good. Finally the NY Times writes a piece about young Black folk, rock-n-roll and skateboarding. Not only are they late (damn I remember Ninety-9, Beans and Sascha rocking with Yauch of the Beasties and skateboarding in the Village and that was back in '94. Not too mention James Spooner's Afro Punk done been out and he's now on his second flick. I guess I should just be happy that folks are finally getting some shine!

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Will Y'all Get Off Of Tyra's Muffin Already?

"I don't want to sit in front of you and be soap-boxy and fake and say, 'I love myself, I'm beautiful, it's great,'" says Banks, who is 5 feet 10 inches tall (and reportedly weighs 161 pounds). "I still feel hot, but every day is different. It's when I put on the jeans that used to fit a year ago and don't fit now and give me the muffin top, that's when I say, 'Damn!'"
I mean don't folks have better things to analyze and dissect other than Tyra's weight gain. Yeah she doesn't have that stupid-crazy body she had when she was on the cover of Sport's Illustrated-- during her Super-Modeling Days, but grrrlfriend still looks good-- if anything she's got more of a typical Black grrrl's booty... err body! And I know for a fact that all those editors at People and at US would be happy to get a nibble at that same muffin that they have "reported" as being fat and overweight. Gimme a break and get a life and go back to wondering why Britney refuses to wear undies or why Lindsay's alcohol rehab program at Wonderland involves her partying at clubs (isn't she underage). Or better yet go and Supersize your fricking McDonalds snack wrap with fries and maybe then you will realize that Tyra is not modeling anymore. And although I like Naomi's modeling and personal style better, at least Tyra ain't throwing Blackberrys at the help. As a matter of fact she's doing a pretty good job at being a talk show host and we all know that there are more than a few talk show hosts who weigh more than 161 pounds!

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Friday, February 02, 2007


The night before last I decided to take a break from my usual routine and instead of heading to the BX I headed downtown to get my geek on at two writer-centric events. The first event was put on by The New York Times and was held at their headquarters on 43rd street. The invitation read:
This panel discussion with three Times journalists (Sewell Chan, Andrea Elliott and David Gonzalez, each featured in The Times's new brand advertising campaign) discussing their beats and how racial and ethnic trends impact the stories they cover.

My Beat: The Impact of Diversity on a Story was the really hip name they christened this panel that featured some really not so hip writers (excluding David Gonzalez who was charismatic, really open and had more personality in his big toe than the other two writers combined). Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a big yawn, but when one hears the word "beat" ya can’t help but think music, culture or enlivened, witty and impassioned discussions and this it, well, wasn't. I knew going into this it was going to be a night filled with irony and weird, errr… staged juxtapositioning if that makes any sense just because the event was sponsored by their Human Resources Dept. (ie. The NY Times is looking for writers of color or at least they want us to believe that they are at least committed to da rainbow coalition!)

As I got off the elevator and walked down this long winding hallway I had to laugh. This hall featured about 50 framed photographs of, I believe, writers who have worked at The Times and as I walked to this diversity event I realized this long a$s hall had only two photos of Black women. I recognized Isabel Wilkerson in one shot but didn’t know who the other woman was. It’s so remarkable to me that every time I walk the hallowed halls of so many (old) institutions (like my college’s alumni club for example), I have to deal with seeing old white men or as MeShell NdegeOcello once told me “we are confronted with the ancestral history of The Man every day damn near every minute here in America.”

Anyway I digress. The panel was pretty interesting because the work of the writers featured especially David and Andrea was really insightful and unique. Hearing how they get people to open up about their very personal lives and how authenticity played apart in their goals as journalist was very inspiring for me. The other thing that I found totally inspiring was their dope spread—open bar, shrimp, sushi, Kobe beef satay, curry chicken tartes. Never mind that my questions about gender and about passion & objectivity were also a bit hit, so much so that I was asked by two Times execs to send them my resume and writing samples.

My next stop: Rockefeller Plaza to NBC Studios for their first ever NYC Blogger Summit. I got there a lil late and missed the reception, but heads were still complaining about there not being any liquor, especially beer. This issue was actually brought up at least three or four times throughout the night. I’m gathering I’m not the only blogger who likes to get her drink on. I think the final count for attendees was 129 and I was probably1 of only 3 Black folks there. But on the upside the Conan O’Brien studio where the Summit was held had a good look on blog-grrrls in the mix. The ladies were definitely in the house repping a number of sites ranging from big dot coms like Mediabistro and Gothamist to All Cupcakes and of course theHotness Grrrl.

This Summit was groundbreaking in that a mainstream (not to mention VERY major) news source was basically fessing up that they need us. WNBC, at least, wants to partner with us on delivering news. Initially most bloggers were doubtful of this “partnership” and really had to think about the value of what we would get in return—basically credit, hyperlinks and TV exposure. No loot. I think most folks were like me and more interested in hearing the stories of various bloggers and how they developed their audience and their particular blogging styles. The folks at NBC didn’t really have a lot to say. The highlight for me was meeting Anil Dash the cat that created TypePad, Movable Type and other blogging software and services. We spoke for a good minute about hiphop and the Web, successful (i.e. revenue generating) blogs & sites related to urban culture, Questlove’s blog and OkayPlayer. We had a great convo and are supposed to hangout real soon. A good night overall that ended with me on the 11pm news coverage of the Blogger Summit. Thanks Lynne for noticing my two seconds of fame. Real recognizing real!

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