jeudi, mars 31, 2005

Wu Tang is for the Children

"I want to do a little real estate and help poor people. I want to be that dude on the TV like, 'For five cents a day you could feed this kid right here.'"

-Ghostface in a recent interview

mercredi, mars 30, 2005

Niggas Ain't Perfect

"Niggas Ain't Perfect."
-Big Black Af, Bamboozled

Moya knows what's up. I vented to her over the net this morning. I complained about my condition, the human condition, about how friends fail us, family dissapoints us, foes fuck us over. As much as I wanted to indict the cruel world and feel sorry for my self, I remember the wise words of one of my dearest chosen kin, L, "We attract what we are" and then I feel bad all over again. I want to point my finger at the cold cold world but then 4 fingers stare right back at me, emery board eschewing, ragged and ready to do some damage. I wish I could complain without contextualization, self-reflection, thought. I think it would do me some good. It seems like even when I want to me mad at other folk I'm mad at myself for absolving control over my emotions and getting mad in the first place. Oh what a tangled web I weave and walk through, sticking to my face, hands and arms. I hate that feeling. That's why I sort of hate my old house in Seattle. Each night a wild tumble with an invisble web was guaranteed leaving that icky lingering feeling that something is wrong.

mardi, mars 29, 2005

The Look of Love

William H. Johnson, Cafe, about 1939, oil on paperboard

When You Have Forgotten Sunday: The Love Story
~Gwendolyn Brooks~

And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a
Wednesday and a Saturday,
And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday--
When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,
Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping
Looking off down the long street
To nowhere,
Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation
And nothing-I-have-to-do and I'm-happy-why?
And if-Monday-never-had-to-come--
When you have forgotten that, I say,
And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell,
And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang;
And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner,
That is to say, went across the front room floor to the
ink-spotted table in the southwest corner
To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles
Or chicken and rice
And salad and rye bread and tea
And chocolate chip cookies--
I say, when you have forgotten that,
When you have forgotten my little presentiment
That the war would be over before they got to you;
And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed
into bed,
And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end
Bright bedclothes,
Then gently folded into each other--
When you have, I say, forgotten all that,
Then you may tell,
Then I may believe
You have forgotten me well.

lundi, mars 28, 2005

This Bridge Called My Back

It's only natural that diminutive johns are taking Affirmative Action.
Being that we are the kind of women that we are--
conduits, enablers, gullies--
we are instructed to stoop down, open wide, get low.
It's only natural that we expel bile
The bitter taste Timberland trampled livers demand.
I am a conspiracy theorist.
It's only natural.

jeudi, mars 24, 2005

Mad at Miles

Born May 25, 1926

May 25th means a lot to me, my mama, my sister, the handful of people I haven't alienated by staying out of contact much like the April-born father I haven't spoken to in damn near a year's time at his behest, of course. I told myself I'd never do this. I'd never be this reflection of him, the master alienater, but here I am following his tip toes. (He's real cool too; too cool to heal-toe through the world so he walks with his head high and ego higher bouncing through Seattle in self-appointed Kingly fashion.) I can't seem to keep up with myself or anyone else so then I'll stay to myself. How do you reconnect with people's who's phone calls you avoided for no good reason? How do you explain that you really wanted to talk to them but couldn't? I don't think I'm depressed, just moody, just Geminish, occasionaly stifled by insecurity and unable to shake some very bad habits.

I used to say I wanted to live on an tropical Island and transport all my globe trotting friends and loved ones there. Nobody stays in one place anymore, me especially. People come into my life in particular places but once I'm out, I'm out, and I can't say why. Not that I don't know but I'm not interested in thinking hard right now. I always say I'm not a phone person and I'm not I prefer face to face contact, preferrably one on one. I don't like the distraction and competitive energy of large groups...sometimes.

This blog isn't good for me. I indulge in myself and my voice in NYU's sterile computer lab, or at a minimized screen at my part time job (I'm supposed to be working), never at my internship (I really am working) but sometimes via my slow ass dial-up connection at home. It's completely solitary and not so much so, kind of like me: a half brewed bitch, you know, not quite ready, a mean-mugging May baby, deceptively kind and generous, trying to grow up.

Born May 25, 1975

mercredi, mars 23, 2005

What More Can I Say?


Respect to the kind Russian woman in the Fresh honey hued hooded coat (Who said the ex-eastern bloc doesn't have style!?) on the Q train. In uncharacteristic, "I don't give a fuck about you," New York fashion, she recognized my darting eyes as an indication that I, like most morning commuters, desperately wanted a seat. She then recognized that the ridiculously wide stance* of the men surrounding her on each side of the subway bench accounted for enough space for at least one more person then proceeded to urge them and then finally scoot/butt bump them over so I could sit down. You get a gold star, hammer and a sickle!

Although it's been over a decade since my feet touched what was then Soviet Union soil, barfing my weak-stomached way from Seattle to Moscow to Tashkent on the incomparable (in a bad way) Aeroflot Airlines there is no love lost. I am eternally grateful for that childhood sojourn; the first of many transoceanic flights that opened me up to the world outside of all of our windows.

* Male Privilege in action one again.

samedi, mars 19, 2005

If You Don't Know...

Now You Know: My Q&A with 112 for VIBE.Com went up last Monday but I'm just getting around to letting y'all know. As always links to all my online articles are in the sidebar.

Pushin' On!

mardi, mars 15, 2005

God Bless Your Life

Muchas, muchas, muchas, gracias et merci beaucoup to Biz Markie's Disposition for putting me on to Nobody's Smiling (except for Jay Hov.) Streaming from this site is one of my favorite songs and videos of all time which I was starting to believe was a product of my active imagination. I can't seem to find a CD with this version on it and it tremendously outclasses the remix on the collection, From Illmatic to Stillmatic: The Remixes. It ranks up there with "Silent Treatment" (Black Thought's '87 You And Yours Mix) in quantity of joules (Look it up in your high school science text books. Know-it-alls, don't e-mail me correcting my usage; I'm quite comfortable with malaprops.) They took it back to 1994 when I was a ponytailed young'n in Seattle repping the Lakeside Middle School Student Government Association and the YPD Allen Stars. AME'ers stand up! Anyway the smile-inducing video is the hard to find The World is Yours (Remix) by God's Son himself, Nasir Jones.
And yes, Nas topped the classic original, at least in my opinion, it's bright, edgy, uptempo, grimy, mischevious, reflective.... The beat's renovated as are the second verse, a few words and phrases here and there and the chorus is tweaked to perfection.

The second verse:
To my man Ill Will, God bless your life
To my peoples throughout Queens, God bless your life
My insight enlights vision
Words of wisdom, niggaz pay me intuition
To listen, to murder paragraphs of mysticism
Man plant seeds that brings forth multiple breeds
So many cultures on one planet but one culture's free
Son, I need weed to proceed
Change the flow speed I'm getting vexed Giuliani's is 666
There's no days for broke days selling smoke pays
I tote the chocolate and potent phillies never roach sprayed
Shit is a hassel, the bridge is like a haunted castle
The mic's my religion; the system is the Devil's lasso
And Yo, the trife life is the most influential
The colors on men's skins and pens is coincidental
How ya living large you broker, you're wasting time extortin' papers from smokers
Catching court papers getting broker

samedi, mars 12, 2005

What a Lovely Way to Burn

I woke up this morning with my lights on, my alarm ringing, Michael Crichton's new novel State of Fear splayed open beside my head and a picturesque view of neighboring snow-dusted Brownstones shining though my fourth floor apartment window. I took my time showering and getting dressed, leisurely watched a quarter of That's So Raven and ET on MTV before venturing into the sunbshine bright bitter cold city.

After copping 2 ounces of ginger spiked wheat grass from New York Naturals (I move organic medicinals by the OZ!), I trekked over the Brooklyn Bridge through Chinatown and Soho and into the west village to the sounds of Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop mix cd which according to his website is extremely scarce. A condensed version of his critically acclaimed book, Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, tells the hip hop story in the most appropriate form, music.

Somewhere in Boerum Hill, on Dean between 3rd and Nevins or Nevins and Bond, Jimmy Castor Bunch's "It's Just Begun" put a little hop in my (kwik)step. In my dreams, I might have dropped the Triple 5 Soul bag I copped (as a free gift with purchase) from Jeff Chang's book party at the Bronx Musuem of Art and showcased some classic footwork. Nah, even better, I would have shown out like the b-boys at the beginning of Flashdance or as replicated in the great b-girl/b-boy film The Freshest Kids but I just smiled and heard the song as if for the first time. There is something the littered and concretized BK cityscape does for that intensifying break, that urban funk, that quintessential hip hop sound.

Still bopping and imaginary pop lockin' down Dean I remembered reading an article about Stuyvestant High as a 9th grader at Seattle's Lakeside School desperate to get up out of that stale chalky space and speaking to my high school's domestic exhcange program coordinator about making it happen. It didn't but I'm here now stepping my writing game up while living more than enough for the city and I guess that's all that matters.

mercredi, mars 09, 2005

There Were No Mirrors in my Nana's House

The more and more I think about it the more and more I'm committed to living in a mirror free space. Maybe committed is too strong a word; aspire might be more appropriate. On second thought, since I'm taking no steps to remove mirrors from my Ft. Greene lair, let's just say in a perfect world I would not consult those pesky mirrors on the wall.

Think about it. No mirrors on the walls ensures no fairest of us all and more importantly no tear streaked faces on the duskier end of the spectrum. Zora Neale Hurston, whose (tele)vision was attempted Sunday courtesy of three black women: Suzan Lori-Parks, Oprah and Halle 'I want you to make me feel good" Berry, wrote black women are the "mules of the world." While black men and women, specifically, and humanity, generally, wear different masks that grin and lie black women, specifically, and women, generally, bear the man-made burden of having to be beautiful.

At this moment in time I couldn't help but talk about this if I wanted to. The reasons for this I won't get into in this public space. How do women negotiate beauty, style, fashion and self-esteem. I don't know if there was ever a time when beauty and womanhood weren't inextricably linked. Kim said it was "Money, Power & Respect" in 1998, her surgically altered face tells an entirely different story in 2005.

I feel a special kinship to Lil' Kim and Mary J. Blige for that matter not because of their music but because of their forthrightness about their struggles with beauty or rather feeling beautiful. Kim said in an article that I will eventually track down that as a young woman in 'do or die' Bed Stuy she felt dark and not so lovely. In her estimation all the boys desired the Jada Pinkett-Smith types. Mary confessed in an old ESSENCE article, if my mind serves me right, that she couldn't for the life of her figure out why her current husband, Kendu Isaacs, fell for her. Apparently she had previously seen him in the company of "exotic" multiracial chicks and she, in her own words, was just a "black girl with a weave." Add to that testimony on some viacom special that that her Yonkers neighbors used to ridicule what they perceived to be her "donkey butt" and "big feet" and I know I understood why drugs and drama dominated her life for so long.

There are billions of women around the world with similar narratives and for that reason alone I don't know if banishing mirrors from my living space and that of my future flock will be enough but then again I'm just making excuses, being cynical, relinquishing control of my life to the false but oh so powerful gods of beauty, cool, celebrity, importance and hierarchy. Allowing them to reduce my existence to persistent not enoughness. To quote L, who quotes and misquotes the masses, “not the kid.”

No Mirrors In My Nana's House
by Y.M. Barnwell; Performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
There were no mirrors in my Na's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat.
I never knew that my clothes didn't fit.
I never knew there were things that I'd missed,
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun);
...was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I was intrigued by the cracks in the walls.
I tasted, with joy, the dust that would fall.
The noise in the hallway was music to me.
The trash and the rubbish just cushioned my feet.
And the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
...was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

The world outside was a magical place.
I only knew love.
I never knew hate,
and the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
...was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

"Chil', look deep into my eyes."
"Chil', look deep into my eyes."

samedi, mars 05, 2005

The New Milennium Mantras

Who's The Black Sheep?

"That's the way it is with a wiseguy partner. He gets his money no matter what. You got no business? Fuck you, pay me. You had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. The place got hit by lightning and World War Three started in the lounge? Fuck you, pay me."
~Henry Hill, Goodfellas

Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Fuck you, pay me
Gimme the loot, Gimme the loot, Gimme the loot
~Mos Def, "War", The New Danger

If I have a mantra it is the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Communicated less from scripture than from my mama, less from the prospect of judgement than a sense of what's just, what's fair and what's right. As for many of my peers, little sisters, distant cousins, young actin' uncles, "Fuck you! Pay me!" is the phrase that pays: the new millennium mantra for hip hop's current generation.

It's refereshingly irreverent unabashedly individualistic, embarassingly funny but particularly irksome not to mention insidious. This theme permeates the loose walk and slick talk of the self-described awake emcee mos def the syruppy sleepy Lil' Flip and countless average jill and joes.

Tastemakers flaunt expensive accoutrements purchased from 16 platinum plaque securing bars of fuck you's and the occasional pimp branded malt liquor. They make a kiling. they profit in death or at least the implied devastation their profane mantra champions.

Chuck D. reminded me and an eager assemblage at NYU last weekend that humanity's purpose is to make a living: realizing possibility and all that jazz or reggae or punk rock. But hip hop is frighteningly stuck on/in death.

Well-paid fuckers remind me of Dick Cheney who is for all intent purposes George Bush in that he is that actor of evil's shameless puppetmaster. All this "fuck you, pay me" shit: this "make a killing" talk and action is our latest crack epidemic. Tearing ravished communities further apart, pulling a troubled nation further asunder. Yeah, these fools: play cousins, big brothers, sister friends (who I'll admit it may sometimes on the lower frequencies speak for me) remind me a whole lot of ole' crusty ass Dick.


I had the privilege of spending some much needed quality time with Jilly from Philly and Chi's own Common last night along with throngs of uptight New York concert goers at Radio City Music Hall (I swear I will cut* the next numbskull concertgoer who hounds me to stop dancing amd sit down: It's a concert you stuffy stiffs.) Damn near every other word that came out of Jill's mouth, and even Com's in his short set, was "love." Jill's infectious smile and happy-hearted beauty belied her always nuanced and yes sometimes painful testimony. She's a glass-half-full-chick and has made it her mission to infuse that type of optimism in this new milennium generation of hustlers. To paraphrase fellow illadelphan Ursula, Jill is the anti-fuckkillprosperer. Yeah, that's it. And it's amazing how good it felt to be in her presence in contrast to jazz juners...die sooners who lurk on every turned corner.

Yeah Jilly from Philly reminds me of 'sef: that part of my 'sef that is my mama, Auntie Julie to some, Ms. Julie to others, good woman to everyone else. I'm gonna hold tight to my mama and her lessons. I'm gonna hold tight to Jill and her kindred both famous and obscure. I'm gonna avert my eyes from the looming snake charmers and I know I said it before but I gotta say it again: "live my life like its golden." Can we make that the new millenium negro national anthem? I mean "Lift Every Voice" is a classic (and should be committed to memory by every self-respecting African American) but changing times call for changing methods and changing theme songs. So call your local NAACP, build with your local 5 percenters, and lets make this happen.

* eyes. (I'm a lover not a fighter)