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...

Friday, December 28, 2007

R.I.P. - Benazir Bhutto

Somehow I thought something like this would happen, but I guess deep down inside I didn't really believe it would happen as I am suprised, and deeply saddened by Benazir Bhutto's assasination. Here is one of her last interviews. May she rest in peace.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Cipher Space: FaceBook, LinkedIn, MySpace

I spent an inordinate amount of time yesterday on Facebook. I became obsessed looking for old colleagues, international buddies and fellow college classmates. Seriously, I was on there for more than three hours... on a Sunday. When I should have been mopping, writing holiday cards or paying bills I was instead trying to find folks that I hung out with in South Africa and folks that graduated from Williams College. Fo' real peeps I was having an online meltdown. Everyone keeps telling me Facebook is The Ish, and that Myspace is dead and Linked-In is so 2005, but for all of their hootin and hollerin, I could only find one person from my graduating class on FB.This was even more distressful because we have a major reunion coming up in June and I really want Black folks to show up and get our Berkshire swerve on. But how can we get together in the boonies, when I can't even find folk on supposedly one of the hottest and most popular online networks there is. Now I found plenty of my white compadres that I worked with and schooled with, but I was really surprised by the high frequency of times I got "Name Not Found" when I searched for one of the many faces of color I used to know.

And for the record, I'm still not ready, set, go on believing in the power of online networking-- virtual or otherwise, I'm still doubtful. But even in the midst of my doubt, it seems like every month or so I get convinced, errr suckered, to join a new network, post my pic and rule the world (wide web) or at least have enough friends to do so together.

First there was MySpace: my man Greg was on me like toffee to join and I did and initially was thrilled and of course obsessed in my mission to "get friends." MySpace was hot! I discovered so many new artists and cool blogs and got updates on when my favorite artists would be performing. And of course I made friends-- 711 and counting. But what I discovered is the more “friends” you have, the more likely you are to get spammed with stupid messages about free gift certificates from Macy's or even worse, the easier it is for you to get hacked and lose your entire identity, um I mean profile. At the very least, having so many "friends" makes it harder for you to find the comments and bulletins from the folks you really care about and know... your real friends. Kinda like real life, huh, with all our technology and lack of intimacy? So Myspace isn't dead for me cause I still use it to promote this here blog and to connect with artists like Imani and Alice, but it's just not the space for me.

Next there was LinkedIn and my girl Melinda hood-linked me into joining this cipher. After investing so much into Myspace though I was a bit more cautious this time out and asked her several questions on what this community was all about and of course how it could best serve me knowing that I was already down with Tom and his crew. She convinced me that LinkedIn was the more mature version of MySpace and that it was great for professional wheelings and dealings. Well alrighty then, I thought! This sounds like a community I need to be a part of and in the beginning I was psyched, finding people I used to work with and even a few fellow alumni. And although I was linking-up left and right, I was still wondering about those elusive deals and new found business ventures I was supposed to be getting. I quickly realized that LinkedIn was going to require me to do a lot more footwork. The same kinda footwork that I do offline would have to be done here. That's just smurfy! And yeah I know, through my "CONNECTIONS" I'm like hooked-up to 4,000 people, but in order to get to those folk I have to get introduced by a friend or try to email them cold. And please the 3rd degree? Yeah I have 250,000 connections, but I can't even access them unless I upgrade my account and handover my Visa digits. Instead of martinis at the Four Seasons, a night out at Scores or some form of payola, it's Paypal. Either way it takes money to have real connections and make real deals. Huh, just like the real world again.

And last but not least, the motherland of matrix mash-ups-- FaceBook. I wasn't even going to mess with FB because by now I was feeling like I was a member of more social networks than a Jack & Jill swingin, Delta stepping, praying Deaconess. But when I went to South Africa (which I'm going to blog extensively about over the holidays) EVERYONE was down with FB and scoffed at me when I mentioned hooking up through MySpace. You would have thought I was asking my JoBurg homies to use Morse Code. So now that I'm down with FB I must say it is on and popping with all of their super walls and graffiti. I have 'poked' a ton of folks from my past and am hooked up with all of my international buddies. I'm finding it's a really useful way to stay in touch with friends and associates who do not live in NYC and I've been a bit more personal on FB than the other platforms.

So for now I'm totally content with my online hood. But recognize yo, at the end of the day nothing makes me happier than receiving a good ole fashion, handwritten letter in my mailbox. I love sending out and receiving Christmas cards and just bought a box of cute notecards from Papyrus. Online networking and texting is cool, but a note that says 'I love you' or an 'I'm just thinking of you' postcard from a far off locale or coffee with one of my mentors or a fried fish dinner with my mom... priceless!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Perfect Holiday, I Am Legend & Erykah Badu

Okay, so is it me or does it seem like Perfect Holiday is just like that other x-mas flick that came out last month? And damn isn't Gabrielle Union in that one too? Maybe I'm wrong. The movies are just so similar that I can't begin to wonder who in da hell thought we needed another movie like this. Two of a kind can be sweet, but give me a break with the whole waiting-to-exhale-chocolate-covered-As The World Turns soul-on-lukewarm-collard greens-drama! I understand that Tyler Perry's vehicle is a money generator but enough already! And last night when I was watching this special preview on BET (I guess this is what I get for watching BET... no offense Alvin & Thembisa!), Gabs Union had the nerve to say the chararcter that Charlie Murphy portrays is similar to some of our music moguls of today and that she's sure Jay-Z and Puffy can relate. Are you fricking kidding me?! Just in case y'all don't know, Gabby plays a divorcee mother of three to Charlie Murphy (who is a famous music exec) and she meets her love (Morris Chestnut, of course) in a mall cause his occupation is part-time Santy Clause. As if Kim Porter (mother of three) would even step foot in a mall and you know she ain't even checking for no man that has a part-time gig wearing a big red costume! And that goes for Tracy Edmonds too. Sheeeit even in real life Morris ain't banking loot like Eddie, not even by a long shot, which is what this movie is-- a long shot into the non-imaginative mind of someone I thought had way more skills on the music side of this here entertainment business... oh well. I know Hollywood doesn't have a clue but c'mon Black folks are so varied, so different, so freaking multi-culti that everytime I look at what's coming down the pike in terms of movies that feature Black folk I throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Well on the upside, all of the flimsiness out there has actually started to make "I Am Legend" look good to me now. I just peeped this trailer and might have to check it out:

I also just peeped this infomercial on Erykah Badu's new single Honey and liked what she said so much that I'd thought I share it with you.


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If only we had someone in Hollywood, greenlighting projects as freeminded, witty and as Black as Erykah then I'm sure I would have seen this on the big screen and not on my laptop. Have a good weekend!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Finding Inspiration: Aileys' "Revelations," Ayo's "Joyful," & Felicia Pride's The Message

As a writer, an artist, I am constantly searching for inspiration. Mama needs her muses. And more often than not, the more I look, even here in this metropolis of theatrics, edge and delights known as NYC, the less inspired I become. To be honest I never find inspiration, inspiration finds me.

And last Thursday night was one of those moments when inspiration kissed me on the back of my neck. I was just totally caught off guard by Alvin Ailey's Dance Theater and their performances of Night Creature (see above photo), Pas De Duke, The River and my all time fave, Revelations. For many, many years my mom and I went practically every December but I haven't been in about 3 years and I guess I forgot how absolutely invigorating, awesome and lovely the AA dancers and choreography can be. Specifically with Alvin Ailey it’s the music that gets me. Night Creature and Pas De Duke both showcased the romantic, lyrically seductive compositions of Duke Ellington. And Revelations, wow Revelations just grabs me and drenches me in hope, passion and fortitude. By the time Rocka My Soul starts playing and the women start waving their yellow fans, I’m on my feet—exhilarated and proud.

Still feeling the glow, my soul was rocked again last night when I had the opportunity to see singer Ayo open for Babyface at the Nokia Theater. If you don’t know of her now, believe me you will! Born in Germany and raised in Paris and New York she has a really interesting sound that is part Corinne Bailey Rae, part Tracy Chapman, part Miriam Makeba. When she sang "On My Knees" you could hear a pin drop and when she finished the crowd erupted into cheers and screams of “We love you Ayo.” Check out her video for Help Is On The Way and see why I’m still lifted.

Over the weekend I also had a chance to check out Felicia (of The Backlist) Pride's new book The Message. I have to admit I was doubtful about an “inspirational” book of hiphop lyrics cause here lately I just haven’t thought of hiphop as being inspirational. But Felicia really did a supa fly job at picking lyrics that resonate on a historical, err nostalgic level, but by using personal anecdotes as a backdrop she also creates these mini “life lessons” that reminded me of the importance of partnership (“It Takes Two”) and self-esteem (“Brown Skin Lady”). The Message is sorta like Chicken Soup for The Soul but it bounces and sways. More like the chicken noodle soup dance for your booty.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Shop N' Mingle & Najwa Moses Rock Harlem

Yesterday I attended Shop N' Mingle, an event produced by BK hotspot Harriet's Alter Ego. Usually held at Turning Heads Salon, this year Ngozi and crew moved their shopping bazaar to The National Black Theater and that made a hell of a difference (forget shop til you drop, last year was sweat til you're sopping wet). The new space was cool and gave vendors a real space in which to hawk their wares and for DJ Lynee Denise to spin. Folks were even able to get their 2-step, drop and bounce on when she played the JB's Girl I'll House You.

Unfortunately the snow definitely did a number on the numbers cause it wasn't packed like usual and I think this year they were expecting something like 600 people. And with all that they were offering-- an open bar, makeovers, complimentary desserts and a free gift bag with purchase I know they would have surely pulled at least that many folk, if not more. And talking about gift bags, I really feel like by now I'm an expert as I've scooped more than 200 or so bags in my ever enriched event hopping career and I must say the one distributes at this event is consistently in my Top 10 of best gift bags ever, up there with my Time Out and MTVN gift bags. There had to be at least $75 worth of goodies in the bag-- everything from Vitamin Water to Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment.

In line with stepping up their vending game, SNM was hosted by Najwa Moses, founder of the bold and eclectic Styleaholics. Miss Najwa was ready-set-go even at 5pm when I arrived, still looking fresh to def and totally excited about her new line of handmade leather earrings. I scooped up a beautiful pair with gold links and ice blue leather. She even has a fabulous style that she's named The Blogger, which come in either bronze, blue or black leather and feature tiny diamond and circular shaped cut-outs.

** As a way of showing her love for theHotness, Najwa is giving away a pair of the Blogger style earrings to the first person who posts below (in the comments section) the name of the major shopping event she launched in 2001 and in 2005 attracted over 1000 attendees (check her website for answer). **

Along with the earrings, I also nabbed a fresh Tuff Like Iron T-shirt that features a turquoise silhouetted image of a Rwandan woman and the flyest belt bag designed by Harriet's. And to think a year ago I was sweating that Gucci version which has been so bootlegged that now I see 9-year old girls rocking them with their Dora jeans and grandmama's using them to carry their laundry money and Bingo chips. Even though I still got a thang for Gucci, more often than not, I find that the most stylish ish is being produced by independent designers around the way.

And this leaves me with my only gripe, which is why SNM is billed as "Uptown's Premier Shopping Event," when in fact most of the designers and vendors are from Brooklyn? It just makes me curious as to why they don’t attract more vendors from Harlem. I know someone reading this has to have the answers so please post them below and let me know what's up. And don't think that I'm hatin on Brooklyn cause y'all know from posts like these that I have mad love and would really just hate to have to start trekking over the bridge to experience this event. I'm just trying to wrangle up that Uptown flava whenever and wherever I can before it's all gone.

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