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, June 27, 2008

3 Things To Do This Weekend

1.) Check out the Waterfalls. It may not have the authenticity of the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or the grandness of Niagara Falls, but the New York City Waterfalls like the orange Gates of Central Park back in 2005, is a public art project largely concerned, (if not solely), about juxtapositions. Waterfalls with the Brooklyn Bridge serving as backdrop and indeed as its canvas is something every New Yorker should wanna behold.

2.) Check out FLOW at The Studio Museum of Harlem, which closes this Sunday. Flow focuses on the work of a dynamic generation of young African artists. I peeped some of the works from Flow when I was in South Africa last fall and believe me there’s some really creative joints on exhibit.

And here are 7 Other Cool Things To Do While In Harlem.

3.) Pray for all of the young girls being stabbed, raped, and, in the case of this 3-year old, shaken to death. Then write a letter to your local politicians demanding tougher legislation against child abusers and, in some cases, against the parents of these victimized children. This nonsense has got to stop!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So Sneaky Freaky

(my kicks)
I love rocking heels and wedges and especially love kickin up snow in my pumpkin orange platform boots, but really I'm a sneaker freak at heart and in earnest. Living in NYC I've been blessed to have access to some of the best sneaker spots in the world. Not like I've ever paid more than $100 for a pair of kicks, but it's so nice to try on the classic, crazy expensive limited edition joints every now and then. And wow, when they opened this spot just for us grrrls I was in 7th Heaven.

But lately like in the last few years I've noticed an awful trend that's got me pulling my laces out in frustration. I don’t know if it started with Sex & The City and Carrie's addiction to Manolos, Choos and all manner of 4-inch heeled shoes, but now it seems that wearing sneakers is deemed so unsexy, so uncool and so unfemme by men and by society at large. It's like when I wear my Pumas or my newest purchase-- the Nike Court Force Lows-Copper Pack from their Limited Edition 2008 Olympic series (that's a mouthful), I get dudes saying, "Yo ma why you being such a hard rock today, what happened to the sexy lady I saw yesterday?" I'm like 'she's right here baby!' Dang, when did wearing sneakers render us grrrls frumpy, hard and asexual?

I remember when hiphop first emerged and grrrls weren't considered funky fresh if we did not rock a pair of Nike Pegasus or suede Pumas with big fat pink or baby blue laces. That was instant hotness back then that kept the boys coming to the yard. Oh yeah! Now I go out for a drink at The Mandarin Oriental and I'm rockin' my red Nike Sprint Sisters and they tell me I can't sit in the main lounge cause of my kicks. Whut da? Now I must say for awhile there was a double standard (and there still is to a large extent) where a woman can wear sneakers to clubs and lounges and be allowed in, but men cannot. I guess those days are fleeting. And it’s funny because down South "tennis shoes" are relegated just for the kiddies, and for garden work or sporting activities if you are an adult. I guess BBQ isn't the only thing we are assuming from Southerners.

Even when I reflect on today's pop music scene, it's like the only chicks that rock sneakers are the ones that people allege are gay or either tom-boys (i.e. Teyana Taylor, Lil Mama, Missy Elliott, Da Brat). Then there's those paparazzi shots of fly women like Beyonce or Alexis in their stilettos and/or beautiful high-end designer gear lounging on the arms of their significant others that are dressed in jeans, t-shirts and Air Force Ones, err I mean Bapes. I guess this is the other double standard whereby industry jiggas get off wearing rubber-soled kicks and its considered appropriate evening attire. Don't let Janet Jackson get caught out at a party in a pair of Adidas. It would be considered another wardrobe malfunction, no doubt.

I'm seriously pissed on one hand and I don't give a swoosh on the other. Living in Harlem, which is the sneaker capital of NYC, gives me firsthand, up-close, intimate moments with some of the hottest kicks out there and so that makes the double-standardized backlash tolerable and well worth it. ATMOS, the Japanese-based sneakeria has a boutique on 125th Street that carries a small, yet very exclusive selection of sneakers. On 116th there is the currently under-constrution Training Camp Store where I copped those copper Court Force joints. And then there's the newest and probably greatest sneaker emporium to grace Uptown's streets-- House of Hoops, a retail marriage between Nike and Footlocker to promote the NBA-- the game, the players and their apparel.

Needless to say, I'm going to keep on being the sneaker fiend that I am and rock my sneakers with pride. I'm a B-Girl at heart and everyone knows that a woman who knows her heart and loves herself in Louboutins as much as she loves herself in New Balance is the sexiest kind of grrrl there is!

Other sneak freak grrrls: (female-sneaker-fiends)

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Things to Do This Weekend

1.) Check out La Bruja as she rocks the mic at SummerStage's Definitely Poetry Jam on Saturday.

2.) Check Alice Russell do her wonderful, jazzy, funky thing at Hiro Ballroom (rare NYC performance) on Saturday night.

3.) Also on Saturday night go to El Museo del Barrio's film festival and catch Maldeamores a Puerto Rican film produced by one of my most fave actors-- Benicio del Toro.

4.) On Sunday download D-Nice's crazy-fresh start-of-summer music mix while doing that last bit of that spring-cleaning you've been putting off-- Saturday is the first day of summer you know!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

In the News & On the Web: Black Models, R. Kelly, UBO MOvie

On the heels of Vogue's historic and therefore much talked about "Black Issue" that hits newsstands here next week, there is an article in today's NY Times (again) about the lack of Black models in major fashion magazines and runways. Written by Cathy Horn, "Conspicuous by Their Presence," focuses more on the upcoming issue and on Steven Meisel who photographed all the models including Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Jourdan Dunn and Sessilee Lopez. Some interesting quotes from the article:
O.K., so fashion ain’t deep. It looks into a mirror and sees ... itself. The irony in fashion is that it loves change but it can’t actually change anything. It can only reflect a change in the air. But what changes fashion? What would finally move American designers to include more black models on their runways? That 30 percent of the country is nonwhite? That black women spend $20 billion a year on clothes? That an African-American is the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party?
Over Ms. Sozzani’s initial objections, he also hired Toccara Jones, a full-figure model, who became known from “America’s Next Top Model.” “I wanted to say something about weight, and I’m never allowed to do that,” he said. “I met Toccara and thought, she’s beautiful. What’s the deal with her? She’s great and she’s sexy.”

Some people think it's agood idea and others don't. I personally think it's fantastic, but I am also aware of how some in our society like to make these grandiose public acts just for show, which don't have any roots in anything substantial or lasting. So my eyes are wide open.

So R. Kelly was acquitted of all charges. Surprised? Nope. I knew it. Anytime it takes that long to bring someone to trial there is a lack of seriousness in the midst. My comrade Joicelyn said it firsts three years ago, the judicial system and our communities at large do not care what happens to little Black girls. I followed up just a month ago when Kila (who is from Chicago) thought Mister Braid-My-Hair would be getting his cornrows done in prison. I told her then that those folks on the jury are probably blaming the girl in the video for being promiscuous and that further more we are not about to lock up the dude who gave us the 2-Step. Jalylah over at Vibe really sums it up nicely.

And lastly Miles Marshall Lewis hipped me to the making of a documentary about UBO (Urban Box Office). Dang near every Black artist/ writer/ "tastemaker" was scooped by UBO—the mega all encompassing, multimillion dollar website with aspirations to be all things for all Black folk. Well needless to say that ish never panned out cause well it would seem that the folks at UBO spent their millions on lavish parties (launch party on Ellis Island), crazy salaries, private jets, Gucci suits, Cuban cigars and Dom Perignon. So typical! Anyway this doc, being produced by the man behind the hugely popular gossip site Urban Expose, should be painfully hilarious. I was asked to freelance for UBO three weeks before they went out of business and am still feeling the affects of their greed and mismanagement today when investors are still crazy skeptical of the urban online arena and it's potential to be highly successful. Thanks UBO for that one! Check the trailer:

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lingering Father's Day Thoughts

I didn't want to blog about Father's Day, but these last few days all I seem to think about is my daddy and it's causing me to have major writer's block. I don't know why I didn't want to write about my father. Well actually I do. There are a ton of reasons and the underlying theme is that it's a personal thing. As many of you know my dad just transitioned last year and writing about it could be cathartic or it could be like scratching a newly formed scab. The not knowing has been reason enough, at least up to now, to keep my thoughts to myself. Well anyway every time I talk about my dad and how much I love him and why I credit him for most of my hotness folk say I should write about our relationship (Right Danyel? Happy Tate?) So this is what I gots to say about me and my dad-- Cornelius "Kurt" Moore.

Because of him or should I say, road-trippin with him to Cleveland or Trenton in his silver gray Toronado Oldsmobile, I knew about green anti-freeze before I knew about Tampax Tampons. I could check the oil in his car long before I signed my first check.

Because of my father I knew as much about Miles Davis, Isaac Hayes and Lou Rawls as I did about Michael Jackson, Prince and New Edition and loved them all with equal fervor. I'll never forget the first time he played Cristo Redentor for me and my sister. We were young teenagers at the time. The sound of that mournful chorus and Donald Byrd’s trumpet would thickly flow through the four speakers in the living and dining rooms and fill our home like warm lava. My sister and I would sit back quietly absorbing it all. Today it is easily my most favorite jazz song of all time. As a matter of fact when he was at his most grave state and not conscious, I would play this song and James Brown’s "It's a Man's World." His eyes would be closed but he would squeeze my hand almost every time. Because of my dad's sensitive nature and extremely fragile state at the time, it was a family decision not to inform him of James Brown's transition. His love for James was that serious. I went to the Apollo the night of James' memorial and stood outside on behalf of my dad. Don't think I ever told him though. Yeah my dad gave my sister and I a Jedi's education in jazz and soul.

Because of him I am a sports fanatic. I know a great deal about the Knicks and the Jets and the Mets and the Yankees-- Reggie Jackson, Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Patrick Ewing, these dudes were fixtures in my house-- if not on the tv, then in one of our fiery conversations or in some crazy bet between him and my Aunt Ann. My dad loved them all, but the Yankees were his absolute favorite team. Dang I even had my first taste of liquor with my pops watching a Yankees game. I had to be about nine or ten. He asked me to go to the fridge and get him a beer. A cold Miller or Budweiser, of course. He opened the can, took a sip and exhaled "aaahhh." I stood there watching it all-- amused, amazed and curious. I asked to take a sip. He said okay, "but a small one." With a quickness I turned that frigid aluminum can over into my mouth and tried to take the biggest gulp ever. It was good. I wanted more, but he said not this time. I told my sister and this somehow became our little ritual—watch baseball with daddy and we’d get a sip of his beer (maybe two if the Yankees or Mets were ahead). It was funny to us and so cool that daddy would let us taste what we knew was a grown-up drink. Besides we already had moms on lock in the morning with our requests for some of her "coffee-milk" and now we had Bud on Sunday afternoons with daddy. My sister and I, twirling around my dad's chair making ourselves dizzy playing like we were drunk, had a wonderful childhood.

Because of daddy, I am a complete woman. I don't feel like I need to have a man, nor have I ever, to complete me or make me. It's certainly nice to be in a relationship, but my daddy loved his girls and gave us so much of himself that there is no void in terms of needing male validation. From the lil Valentine hearts he would give us filled with Brach chocolates on Valentine's Day to him helping me into the bath after major surgery just eight years ago he was always there with goodies, with jokes, and with a helping hand.

Yep because of him I'm better. My dad made me a better individual (my mom too). So this is why I'm hot. This is why I'm hot! Thanks daddy... you are my original hotness.

For Ayo & Lori.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Things To Do This Weekend

FRIDAY, 06.13 - MAVIS STAPLES & STEPHANIE MCKAY @Central Park SummerStage in Manhattan

FRIDAY, 06.13 - LES NUBIANS @House of Blues in Chicago

SATURDAY, 06.14 - KOOL HERC & LITTLE JACKIE @The Brooklyn Public Library in BK

SATURDAY, 06.14 - DIANE DACOSTA’S AMERICAN BEAUTY TOUR in Atlanta @Shrine of the Black Madonna

SUNDAY, 06.15 – GAME 5: BOSTON CELTICS & LA LAKERS @The Staples Center in Los Angeles (and on ABC nationwide) at 9PM

For more cool happenings in NYC this summer check Sharon Pendana's supa uber comprehensive listing of free events on her very cool blog.

And read here why sometimes it's hard for me to find things to do in Harlem.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Katy Perry

On Monday night I met up with new partner in crime, Jamiyla, at Steve Madden on the LES to check out this new artist that had music promotion bigwigs-- Giant Step-- going absolutely ga-ga. I had never heard of Katy Perry before I received my invitation. In all honesty the main reason I decided to go was for the Perrier Jouet and Stoli open bar. I know that says very lil about my curiosity for new music and volumes about my love for the bubbly, buy hey, music here lately just hasn't been blowing my skirt up.

As soon as I turned the corner onto Rivington I was surprised to see a small line forming outside. Were all of these very hip, very cool multi-culti folk here to see Katy or to get their drink on? If it was the former I wanted needed to be in the know.

By the time I slid inside, Jamiyla had made a new friend-- Tracey Moore (formerly of the Jazzyfatnastees and co-founder of Black Lily). While we sipped our mimosas, the three of us talked about the state of Black music and debated about how segregated New York City’s Black and White artistic communities had become. Initially I disagreed about this last issue, pointing to groups like Burnt Sugar and the Afro- Punk movement, but then I realized that if it wasn't for Giant Step I would have never heard of Katy Perry and come to find out she is pretty well known outside of the urban or Af-Am cipher (she's been featured in the NY Times, on TRL and on this summer's Warped Tour).

(Jamiyla & Tracey)

She has this song, "I Kissed A Girl," which is like chicken pox catchy and she totally reminds me of early Alanis Morissette except where Alanis' "Like A Pill" was situated on a bed of anger and angst, Katy settles on a more humorous cushion for her set. She also reminds me of Ashlee Simpson or Avril Lavigne before they became US mag fodder. I'm looking forward to checking out her record, One of The Boys, when it drops next week.

Afterwards I thought about some of the things Tracey had mentioned with regard to NYC's artists communities and how we tend to not socialize and collaborate across racial groupings. Maybe she is right. I think back to when I was a little girl and even though I may not have been chillin with white girls, that at least musically speaking, my homegirls and I would all listen to 92-WKTU and watch Video Music Box where they played Madonna, Blondie, Tony Basil and Belinda Carlisle as often as they did Vanity 6, Run DMC and the Mary Jane Girls and we loved them all and we're surely influenced stylistically by them too! We knew all the words to "Mickey" just as well as we knew Mtume's "Juicy Fruit." Of course this was before there was such a thing as urban radio-- clearly the beginning of our sonic xenophobia. Now I hardly ever listen to the radio and the only time I readily hear about white artists (in urban circles) is if they are "soul" singers ala Robin Thicke or Amy Winehouse.

Well thank you Giant Step for always keeping me in the know. Last year you got me so into Sara Bareilles and now you got me again with Katy!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's A Black Thing, Oh No Wait, It's a White Thing!

First there was Bo Derek rocking cornrows in "10" and suddenly braids were the ish and everyone just had to cop that style. Never mind that Cicely Tyson, Patrice Rushen, Peaches (of Peaches & Herb), and scores of other Black women from New York City to Nigeria rocked this style long before Bo ever got Dudley Moore open. Then there was Carrie Bradshaw and her ghetto gold. This chick, and the series that made hers a household name, Sex & The City, actually gets credit for name chains and their ensuing popularity! Do you know how absolutely ill this ignorance makes me? Every time I wear my name chain and some spritely young girl says, "ooh I love your chain-- so SJP," I really feel like karate kicking her right smack dab in the back of her True Religions, but usually I'll just share how my daddy got it for me on my 16th birthday from Corners on White Plains Road in the BX in the 80's when SJP was still a square peg. Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Tammi Billinghurst, Lisa Parran-- we all had name plates back in the day. And some, like my sister, even had name earrings and rings. Whut!!?

But life sometimes bees like that, especially in Hollywood where White folks are repositioning much of urban culture for their own big box office payouts. And it's not just our hairstyles and jewelry, they are reappropriating entire cultural idioms as in "Baby Mama" and "Knocked Up" into feel good success stories. In fact, as of late, Hollywood is just giving Black actresses the finger by casting white girls in the lead of Black biopics. They did it with Angelina Jolie when she played Mariane in "A Mighty Heart" and we kinda let it slide because, well, it was Angie.

But now, and this is a real kicker (no doubt right back in our bootylicious booties), they have cast Mena Suvari in the true life story based on African-American Chante Mallard and get this, she's even wearing cornrows for the part. And this, my friends, is why talented Black actresses can't get a decent movie role unless it's a Tyler Perry flick and why Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg is hosting The View. When it only requires one to be cornrowed, ebonicfied and blinged-out then any blond, brunette, doed eyed chick can be Black and therefore employed. Jeesh, am I the only one getting nauseous?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Obama, Oh Yeah!

I have been hesitant to write about Senator Barack Obama this week partly because I cannot believe that for the first time in this country’s history (and in my lifetime) an African-American has won the Democratic nomination to be President and partly because the superstitious part of me feels like talking about it will jinx it-- maybe Hillary will rise from the ashes like some villainous character in a horror flick to claim victory, maybe and I hate to say the A-word, but you know it's a possibility especially when his opponent starts mentioning that Robert Kennedy lost his life that way in June. Anyway this is history! This is, as an older woman on the beach summed up so well last weekend, "simply thrilling." I just got used to the fact that Oprah is one of the richest and most powerful people in the world and now this. Yeah thrilling.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sex & The City: A Night Out With The Grrrls

The clothes were flashy and seductive. Who cared if it was only 7pm and the sun was still shining. The ladies were rocking sequins, feathers and bodacious fake flowers. The weaves were tight, ponytails high and perfectly streaked bangs were coifed just so. And these were just the ladies on line to see Sex And The City at the 34th Street AMC.

And even though the critics wasted no time telling us SATC was nothing more than a shat filled excuse for product marketing with it's excessive brand placements and shopaholic protagonists, I found the movie to be the perfect salve for us grrrls left to contend with Iron Man and Indy or more consistently Entourage and The Wire. While I love these shows and hear the movies are also thrilling, sometimes us ladies need our grrrly moments of indulgence. These critics who are just hatin because they probably have never had sex in this city or in any other can't see beyond Carrie's Choos for what really got us ladies rolling out this past weekend in crews so deep we made The Warriors look like some suburban boy scout gathering. In SATC there were wonderful conversations about love and marriage, heartfelt testimonies about forgiveness and yes, all out fashion romps. It was a frock concert like no other-- the gladiator sandals, Vivienne Westwood and DVF dresses and ooohhh wheee those handbags. It was indeed orgasmic and well, I say give me more!

It's called fantasy people and personally I feel women are not allowed to fantasize enough. Never mind that we are in a war and violence abounds on street corners, in college classrooms, master bedroom suites and in so many nooks of our everyday lives and still we not only continue to promote violence in our films, we encourage our young boys by gifting them with aggressively violent video games. Never mind that our men, well, they have hockey, wrestling and football to exorcise their aggressive fantastical whims. But dang, give a grrrl two and a half hours of Manolo Blahniks, erotica and romance and suddenly the entire film genre has gone to pot. Whatever! I loved it and if you've been reading theHotness you know that we (myself most certainly included) have had our share of criticisms about the HBO series. Clearly our cries for diversity did not go unheard. There was color (and even references to coloring, lol) sprinkled throughout the film in the background and in the forefront. And yeah, even though Jennifer Hudson didn't add any real substance or complexity to the production, like everything in the movie (and in the movie theatre), it all made for the sweetest eye candy a grrrl could have on a Saturday night out!

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