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, February 28, 2008

Mid-week Musings: Biggie, Project Runway, & Mediabistro

So it seems like the screenplay written by Cheo Hodari Coker for the much hyped Notorious BIG movie is a BIG bore (NY Mag's Vulture).

Mediabistro, a site that I check damn near everyday for freelance gigs and cool media news is a having their first media conference (Mediabistro Circus) to discuss and mull over the latest interactive strategies and tech platforms. Too bad in 2008 we are voting for what could be the first Black prez of the US but for their first conference MB can't find any Black bloggers or tech heads to discuss online media. What the hell?

Next week Project Runway may actually have a real contest between the three final designers. Christian, who I initially thought was going to just kill it at the end, was very disappointing last night. His looks definitely need to be edited as Tim so politely declared, when we all know he wanted to say Christian get a grip on reality and make something that a buyer Michael Kors can realistically consider assimilating. You are not in England anymore! Rami and especially Jillian's clothing looked great!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Proud Michelle!

I can't believe people are losing sleep, getting red in the face and blogging like mad about Michelle Obama's recent comment. The one where she said:
For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.
Many, many folks are outraged-- saying she should have been proud of America a long time ago and not just because Obama is kicking Hill's behind. Many Americans feel that she should be darn proud of the red, white and blue because for starters she and her husband are able to live the 'American Dream'. They are successful lawyers that attended Harvard for pete's sake and they make tons of money and can send their daughters to the best schools. Look at what America has bestowed upon them or better yet, the mindset is, look at how far America has allowed these Negroes to rise. How dare Michelle not be proud of America? Needless to say, I'm not in agreement. The Obamas are successful lawyers because they worked their butts off; Because of the sacrifices of their parents; Because of the movements created by Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. If it was up to "America" the Obamas would probably be packing bags at Walmart or nannying someone's kids or better yet in prison were "America" likes to see their Blacks. America is (still) corrupt, racist, and sexist. Proud Yankees built their marketplace on the back of Blacks (and now Mexicans). They are using war as a front to make billions through the oil trade. Yes, I am sure Michelle was proud before and in her exuberance was just expressing that she is prouder than ever now in the political process. But let's not forget there is a long list of reasons why Mrs. Obama should not be proud. Katrina. Darfur. Eleanor Bumpers. Abner Louima. Jena 6. Give me a break! Proud indeed... of Michelle speaking her God-given American mind. Aren't you?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Change Is Gonna Come or Simply PMSing

Well I've been thinking about this blog a lot lately and am currently behind the scenes making changes. I'm trying to expand and appeal to a younger, more national and international (read less New York City-centric), blogorific audience. I must say MySpace is helping me meet those ends and soon a few other bells and whistles will hopefully help catapult me into new waters. So often I feel like I'm blogging in the dark and no one is here, but other indicators say that isn’t so. Yesterday's NY Times article on blogging said blogs like mine (essaylike, personal, & fresh) are especially popular and cool. Alrighty then, so maybe I've outgrown my audience or maybe they've outgrown me and leaving comments are now just an afterthought. And when did I start lusting after comments so much? Jeesh! Oh just the thoughts running through my head today. I'm feeling cranky, bloated and irritable so maybe I'm over dramatizing this Hotness Grrrl slump I'm feeling. Maybe. When I get some RSS Feeds and find a cool subscription service I will have a better handle on traffic and interactivity. Until then I will just pop some Advil, get one of those Starbucks double chocolate cupcakes and make do with the blahs. Throughout, know that I'm always strategizing, plotting and trying to figure out how to be bigger and better-- for me; for y’all. Bitches still gotta brew even though it's that time of the month. Say word. No better yet, leave a damn comment!(ha, ha) Thanks B. Mansur, M. Gonzales, T. Franklin, (Very) Rev. Ace Clemmons, I. Bey and others of you who I don’t even know who have posted comments in this here cipher.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy V-Day: My Top 7 Raves

Okay after last year's personal post and all of the feedback and fallout, I'ma still keep it real this Valentine's Day, but in a simpler form. Back in the day my girl Bilqis and I used to have these list we would call "Our Raves" that we would create every now and then as a way of reminding ourselves of our own turn-ons, but also as a way of paying homage to all the simple goodness in life. So on this day of love I'm bringing it back. It always made us feel good and tingly after we would read them to each other. Try it. What 5 things truly make you happy and blissed out? Post them below:

1. Christian Louboutin shoes

2. The sweet hotness of Trader Joe's Spiced Mango

3. Archipelago candles (Bergamot Tobacco scent)

4. Warm Chocolate Cake from Pastis.

5.. Thé Pour un Eté my new fave scent by L'Artisan Parfumeur.

6. The smell of Thé Pour un Eté on your shirt after we cuddle.

7. The smell of you on my sheets.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Best Thing About The Grammys

Ironically, the best thing about the Grammies last night didn't even happen in the Staples Center. It was over the pond and through the woods to Amy's (Wine)house. Amy's performance at, the otherwise mega yawn of an award show, was everything we held out for-- unpredictable, uneasy, spontaneous and authentic. All the qualities diluted in today's bling-blonde-bland music industry. Her phrasing was off the cuff and very often reminiscent of Ella. And her melodies were off the chain-- reminiscent of Lauryn. The 50th anniversary of "the biggest night in music" was quite reflective of these post-iPod times. There were a lot of pyrotechnics and very, very dark performances (Kanye); a ton of collabos, but nothing that sparked (Tina should have performed solo and Morris Day & The Time didn't need Rihanna up in their mix! Janet maybe? Prince definitely? Umbrella –ella-ella... not!) Oh well, thank God for You Tube. Check Amy's performance out below:

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Kara Walker

As the elevators opened and I walked out onto the second floor of the Whitney Museum, I was confronted by this humungous black and white mural that featured a number of different images and scenes. The one that is pretty much the most shocking (and that’s saying a lot within this context) is that of a pickaninnied black girl giving head to lil ole Huck Finn. As if someone had just walked by me and snatched my gold chain, I seized up and held my chest. Shook and shaken, I was traumatized. But this is why I came here. This is what I wanted to experience, the kind of horror I needed to bring me back to center. And clearly so did most of NYC. This was last Sunday and it was the final day that Kara Walker's "My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love" would be here. I kept running into so many people I knew and recognized from BK and Harlem. The gallery was packed like it was a club opening, not an exhibit closing. Never mind it was Superbowl Sunday and the weather outside was sunny and spring like, everyone was curious, if not anxious to understand how race, racism, slavery and gender bias could work its way into the imagination in such a way to create not only brilliantly beautiful reinterpretations of the worse of our society, but also works that, in their unsettling horror, educated and empowered. Surveying Kara's black and white silhouettes and her letters, notes and sketches especially from "Notes From a Negress," all I could do to keep from crying, to keep from choking the life out of some innocent Caucasoid was shake my head and write in my journal.

Looking at a blog The Whitney created around this exhibit and browsing online and in my inbox, I found a number of interesting quotes about art, agency, resistance and power. Check it:
It's interesting that as soon as you start telling the story of racism, you start reliving the story. You keep creating a monster that swallows you. But as long as there’s a Darfur, as long as there are people saying 'Hey, you don't belong here' to others, it only seems realistic to continue investigating the terrain of racism. --Kara Walker
In Walker's work, slavery is a nightmare from which no American has awakened: bondage, ownership, the selling of bodies for power and cash have made twisted figures of black and whites alike, leaving us al scarred, hateful, hated, and diminished. --Hilton Als
I felt the work of Kara Walker was sort of revolting and negative and a form of betrayal to the slaves, particularly women and children; that it was basically for the amusement and the investment of the white art establishment. --Betye Saar
It is harder to speak truth to power than one might think. I spent the day visiting the show. i thought it was absolutely outrageous. i am trying to collect my thoughts. As somebody who has become an avid follower of the work of Kara Walker, I am amazed that so little has happened in terms of the black response to it. The films were so provocatively elliptical, the amount of material devoted to... Betye Saar's critique of her so disproportionate. I was shocked again and again by the obsessiveness of it and total lack of what I see as an adequate response. --Michele Wallace
As a 26yo African-American man, my personal reaction to Kara Walker's work is one of absolute disgust. I personally believe Kara's work carefully situates itself within the post-Civil Rights backlash against racial equality. It's a trickbag, occasionally adopting the rhetoric of "exposing" stereotypes for the sake of social justice, while at the same time further perverting these stereotypes for the tacit amusement of the predominantly white art establishment. Art can be a form of resistence but Kara's work is anything but. --Christopher
Some find Walker's hypersexual and hyperviolent slavery fantasias offensive because they resurrect and mimic not one but two offensive programs--the aristocratic illusions of insane hillbilly cotton farmers and the coonification samboification pickannyification and thingification of a people whose enslavement rendered the Bill of Rights a scrap of lies from the get-go. Walker's critics sometimes do seem to have forgotten something she apparently hasn't-- that her work can never be more disgusting, awful or cruelly creative than whatever the real thing was. The real problem people have with Walker's work may not be what's in it-- the real problem is that we really don’t want to see a 'behind the music' version of the heroic runaway slave narrative, one complete with all the hidden, historical and hideously un imaginable visuals that duly underscore why the heroic narrative is actually so damn heroic. --Greg Tate

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rock On Barack!

The one thing I know for sure is the power of inspiration is real. And unlike matters of passion and spirituality, I think politics is one of those dubious arenas in which to heed and harness inspiration. Do I think we need it in politics? Oh yeah! But I am so careful to note how it is spun. How it is packaged. I have to admit when Obama first hit the campaign scene, immediately I was drawn into his aura. His message for change caressed my eardrums and indeed my weary spirit. His words had me moist before I even had a chance to do my usual research and background check into homeboy's platform and his history in the Senate. Needless to say, I discovered many a thing about brother Barack. Mostly good. And so now I finally feel I can allow myself to be swayed by his brilliant gift for oratory (his speechwriter is a monster with those metaphors!). And just as his zeal takes a hold of my cynical attitude, Barack done busted out with a music video... and like his speeches, it too has got that magic to morph and move. And will.i.am, what can I say? This brother's game is so tight, and not because he's got MiJac on his sack, but because he's got Barack's victory speech from South Carolina rivaling the soulful urgency of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" Say word.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Raisin In The Sun

Last night I took my spiritual god mama out to the screening/ panel discussion of the upcoming made for TV movie version of A Raisin In The Sun at the new Times Center building. With Phylicia Rashad, Diddy, Audra McDonald and Kenny Leon all on the panel it was, of course, a sold out affair. The movie itself is quite good. I really, really liked being able to see and to get a wonderful sense for what it was like living on the south side of Chicago in the 1950's from a Black perspective. The backdrop of the landscape and the people and seeing Mama Lena and Walter Lee's work environments just gave the play that much more body and soul.

Not to give anything away but the ending is slightly different from the book and the play, which gives the overall theme of this historic play a slightly new twist or nuance if you will. Just as I was about to ask Kenny and company about this change the dang host announced the event was over and the lights came up and my mic was silenced. Let me tell you they run this Times Center stage like a unioned Broadway production—started right on time and ended exactly when they said they would. Sucks for me though! This is like the third time this has happened to me recently. I've got a really strong question and I don't get to ask it because the Ashlee Simpson looking chick in front of me is talking about how she is a revolutionary for change and voting, yada, yada, yada. Ugh! And the chick in front of her in her red satin spaghetti strapped cocktail dress gushed about her new book of poetry and how she dedicated it to Ms. Rashad blah, blah, blah. That kind of crap should have happened after the show in the waiting wings by the exit door. Oh well. It is what it is. I'll get my Q&A moment eventually!

I'm a fan and wannabe student of theatre. I go every year and sometimes two and three times a year depending on what's out and how phat my pockets may be. I'm looking forward to Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. What about you? How many of you go to see theater and do you think adding pop celebs like Diddy, Fantasia and now Terrence Howard (in Cat) to the cast make a production more popular and therefore more successful? Check the trailer for Raisin below and check it out when it hits your boob tube on February 25th at 8pm on ABC.

In The Sun

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Monday, February 04, 2008

RingShout Launch Party

"Rain be damned, I'm getting my swerve on," had to be the preeminent thought of at least 125 folks that attended the inaugural event of ringShout on Friday night at Random House. Even though it was a monsoon outside and I was tired, I was even more curious about this ringShout event. ringShout, a consortium of Black writers, editors, and publishing heads was established in response to the lack of exposure, shelf space and buzz for African-American writers. The organization's founders—authors Martha Southgate (who got the proverbial Movement started with her piece in the NY Times magazine), Eisa Nefertari Ulen, Bridgett Davis, Cave Canems Alison Myers and Random House editor Chris Jackson say that ringShout is dedicated to "recognizing, reclaiming and celebrating literary fiction and non fiction by black writers." Personally I think this group was/is sorely needed whether Street Lit was trouncing literary types or not. Im not mad at Zane, or for that matter, feel that she is nabbing would be readers of Edwidge Danticat or Shay Youngblood. Two different audiences altogether, but there definitely is a need for Black writers and publishers to build coalitions by and for authors and aspiring writers. Needless to say I guess I wasn't alone in this presumption as there was a buzz in the room and it wasn’t from sipping all that wine! This was hands-down the best networking event Ive attended in years! Folks were anxious to give out their business cards, offer editorial advice, give insider info on new projects and freelance opportunities. It was a homecoming long overdue. I can't wait for the next gathering.

ringShout Co-founders Bridgett, Eisa, & Martha

Writer/Author Michael Gonzales, Vibe Editor-in-Chief Danyel Smith, & Sandra Jamison

Uptown Magazine Online Editor Sekou Writes, CosmoGirl Senior Editor Tara Roberts, Martha, and Blogger/Publicist Rob Fields

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