jeudi, octobre 27, 2005


What ever happened to predictibility?
The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV.

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go (There's a heart).
There's a heart
A hand to hold onto.

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go.
There's a face
Of somebody who needs you.

Eveywhere you look
When you're lost out there
And you're all alone
A light is waiting to carry you home
Everywhere you look.
Everywhere you look.
This song spontaneously burst from my lips as I sat on the couch eating french fries from a falafel spot on flatbush. I bullshit you not. It was strangely cold but chattering teeth couldn't disrupt the flow. It was really cold but I was too tired to grab a sweater from my bedroom. 5 minutes into Law & Order: Criminal Intent I was fully goosebumped but only when I rose to turn the surround sound down did I notice the window ajar, evidence, along with the empty mailbox, of my roomie's brief stop at the lair en route to her boyfriends house. I promptly cursed integration.
Tell me something: why is it oh so cold in my house?

mardi, octobre 25, 2005

A Rose By Any Other Name

I've been concerned with the duration of our light if not the quality. Reflecting back, I think that's why I shed so many tears for dear Mr. Ossie Davis. I'm listening to too many who have come and gone*, Shirley Horn, Mary Lou Williams, Jimmy Smith, among others whose creativity continually enchants. I attest. And I miss their dapper attire and kick myself for sort of slumming it to work or to my not black congregation. That's not not how we do or how we did. But purist, I am not. I still prefer Miles to Wynton, always will.

I am re-reading Invisible Man now. It is time. It reminds me of the futility of trying to disprove white disdain unless, of course, one masochistically enjoys getting repeatedly knocked upside the head. And I always remember Du Bois as black public figures shuffle across my TV screen or crassly bellow from my not acting right iPod. A lot has changed. I could maybe attribute it to the diminishing influence of once prevailing black ethics, codes that we have exchanged for indignant swagger and blood-stained currency. It is a little overwhelming, although not so much as the firehose. I want not for a time machine just a little order.

I am surpsingly calm about the homegoing of our Rosa. I don't know why. Her passing reminds me of the politics of her iconicity. Ms. Claudette, beat her to the punch, but didn't look the part in the eyes of our transformational leadership, avowed devotees of the prevailing black ethics, the codes of our segregated sanctuaries and streets. Freedom attended Sister Rosa, a fair-skinned woman with an equally unblemished reputation, and the rest as they say is history. We celebrated her but not with enough zeal to allow her seamstress hands some well-deserved rest. And we, "new schools fools" as 'Kast put it, call her name while renouncing her whispered witness.

Peace be upon she.

*Will others punctually come forever and ever?

vendredi, octobre 21, 2005

Here, My Dears

I am buying tix to see the opera, Margaret Garner, in Philadelphia for its East Coast premiere. I suggest you do the same.

jeudi, octobre 20, 2005

What is your favorite word?*

*I stole this question from Court' who is brilliant and asks good questions and listens. Court' asked me and now I am asking you.

mercredi, octobre 19, 2005

"What, what, am I to do with all this life?"

It was her habit to speak for both of us, and I rarely minded as it kept me from having to make any decisions of my own. David Sedaris on his mock-girlfriend Veronica in "C.O.G." from Naked
I had this friend. Actually, the past tense isn't quite appropriate. I have this friend with whom I haven't spoken in 3 years. The love is there it's just the communication that's lacking but that's a common grievance of anyone who's ever known me. This friend, who I don't speak to anymore, confessed in her heavily A/C'ed room in Block 2 at 10 Lok Wo Sha Lane back when it was uninhabited except for a bunch of obnoxious underaged expats, that she wouldn't mind an arranged marriage. In fact, once she got going, spurred by my empty eyes, she explained that she would prefer an arranged marriage. Who better than one's parents, lifegivers if you will, to decide one's life's partner," she mused. No pain, infinite or at least 'til death do us part gain.

I intuitively disagreed but spoke shy. The last thing anyone wants is a contrarian friend especially when continents from home and lonely. Add to that some extra pudge circling her waistline and a host of post-pubuscent acne staining her face and her outlook gained all the more weight. I posed a few questions on this crazy little thing we call love accidentally revealing the soft spot on the underside of my sharp tongue. She didn't waver. Her hope of partnership resolved in a boy muslim like herself, Detroit black to her South African brown whom she met on the internet. Her South Asian family didn't take to him, religous synchronicity notwithstanding. When she finally arrived in Detroit for a much pined after face to face he didn't take to her paunch or her pre-Proactiv complexion and they were soon done.

I thought about my friend. I can hear her speaking in her Pretorian accent wishing for a life where happiness was as dependable as it was contractual. I thought of her as I read David Sedaris on the R train to the Cadman Plaza Post Office where I stood in line 2o minutes for two Arthur Ashe stamps since I'd left my Marian Anderson's on my bookshelf at home.

Then I thought about another friend contemplating the simple kind of life. At a quarter-life multi-pronged fork in the road she was, as many of us are, confused but found a remedy in relinquishing her life to her partner and inevitably their offspring, and fternoon stories and a minivan--G wagon if her man made good--and soccer practice, and Jack & Jill meetings, and recitals and domestic shit like that. I understand. We both struggle to decide what we'll have for dinner much less what we'll have with our mortality.

I thought about myself and my history of begrudgingly kind of handing over my own life. How much I'd like to do the same right now and relinquish responsibility for my success and detritus. How much easier it would be to again let someone else choose dinner, run a conversation, walk a few steps ahead scouting out the rocky terrain. Life is strenous in both the invogorating and exhaustive sense. For many women, socially constructed tentative, it's the latter. What, what, are we to do with all this life but hand it over to a man then tug his firm grip a safe arms length behind in case he were to fall off course or if drift into a mud puddle, quicksand or white sand, even, when both of us know we are seeking Whistler's white powder. I consider this Peter Pan existence from time to time: childhood in powerless perpetuity. Being carted along in a 4 wheel drive stroller but in each imaginative episode I inevitably turn terrible toddler pulling at my waistbelt, yawning towards the sky and running away.

So it is only fair that I share Julie Dexter's extraterrestrial chanson, Never Will I Marry. It is what is is. It's not a love song or an anti-love song just a revisitation of freedom and responsibility from a woman's point of view.

mardi, octobre 18, 2005

"It's Got Me Stuck Like A Crackpipe"

I Want to Write
by Margaret Walker

I want to write
I want to write the songs of my people.
I want to hear them singing melodies in the dark.
I want to catch the last floating strains from their sob-torn
I want to frame their dreams into words; their souls into
I want to catch their sunshine laughter in a bowl;
fling dark hands to a darker sky
and fill them full of stars
then crush and mix such lights till they become
a mirrored pool of brilliance in the dawn.

lundi, octobre 17, 2005

"I don’t think of myself as the ‘other.’ I think of myself as central."

Zadie and Father
This is the best time to be Zadie Smith. The British literary writer is young, educated, talented, popular, rich, multiracial, gorgeous. This is also the worst time to be Zadie Smith. All her wondrous attributes and successes have a downside these days.

From John Marshall's article, "The cult of celebrity doesn't interest Brit-lit phenom Zadie Smith" for
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
When did being multiracial become a "wondrous attribute"? I take that back when did it become OK to speak openly about multiracialness or, in this context, increased proximity to whiteness as a "wondrous attribute"? I can't imagine the author would ever say the same for whiteness, that's a given, or blackness, that would be, in most folks eyes, ludicrous. John Marshall's obviously not alone in this opinion. Q's been saying the same thing for years.

And for the record, I relished White Teeth but couldn't quite digest Autograph Man. What I've hear of On Beauty is already tickling the literary taste buds.

vendredi, octobre 14, 2005

Universal Magnetic

"There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people." ~Muhammad "Bumaye" Ali
C. Delores Tucker and Vivian Malone Jones have, God willing, moved on up a little higher and I wish them both a peaceful journey.

Vivian Malone Jones remains largely unknown. We, people who if not darker than blue are beaten there, may recall her name from African American history services at out churches or conversations with our parents or ADW but rarely the history book. This is a woman who wouldn't let George Wallace turn her around who integrated the University of Alabama and graduated with honors deftly ducking the stones whizzing by her head more often than not absorbing their vicious impact and proudly persisting toward her desired goal. I know a lot about intense enmity. All black people do those of us on the margins of that margin even better. Thank the lord inside I was able to go to an HBCU for undegrad but my little time at a predominant institution damn near broke my spirit and it was heaven to the infinte power compared to what this woman endured. I am constantly amazed at us. I am grateful for those who have come before.

C. Delores Tucker, we know well, or at least many of us think we do. I met her a decade ago and I didn't know her but I know her better than those who throw stones at her turbanned topped body just barely in rigor. In 1995 I read an articled in The Facts or The Medium, black Seattle papers, about the impending
Biennial Conference of the National Political Congress of Black Women at the Seatac Sheraton. I had never heard of the organization but black women plus politics seemed right up my alley. I was always in the mix so were my friends. When the Northwest International Women's Conference convened in Seattle in preparation for the monumental conference in Beijing I attended as a student delegate from Lakeside School and arrived to see my friends L'Erin and Ife fully engaged in conference proceedings. We informed these women how marginalized and racist mainstream feminism was in the spirit of black feminists we hadn't even read yet and we had just started high school. Unafraid and always up in the mix.

But back to the NPCBW conference. I wanted to go but it was out at hotel by the airport easily a 40 minute drive from the crib and not easily accesible via public transport, since I was too young to drive anyway. The conference began on Friday while I was in school but my mother thought nothing of chauferring me there and back Saturday and Sunday. Dressed in my church clothes (no need to add the modifier "finest" cause they were all nice. That's how we did/do at the oldest black church in Seattle for better or for worse) I presented myself at the volunteer table at which point my friend and schoolmate Ife saw me and scooped me from certain banal duties and squired me to Tucker's spacious suite. Ife was the definition of connected even in her early teens. We split our time between engaging workshops and trailing after C. Delores Tucker. Tucker had initiated conversations with Suge and Tupac at the time. In fact, if I recall correctly she met with Suge during the conference in her suite (or at least she was supposed to). I was at a workshop at the time. I left the conference feeling empowered, plugged in, revitalized by political conversations that centered black women. Not too long after Tucker and her crew left town I learned of her mobilization against certain strains of hip hop. It was kinda funny to me cause after leaving the conference on that Sunday I skipped dinner to listen to KCMU's Rap Attack in my rose wallpapered bedroom. I felt a little embarassed at first by her method and by her occasional contradictions but could feel her discomfort/outrage at the preponderance of racialized misogyny in hip hop even if I had yet to renounce it. Tucker was conflicted, yes. Occasionally opportunistic, yes. And she suffered too many tactical failures for me to list. But she was also principled and brave and unfairly represented in the media.

I dont know if I knew Tucker's history then but I know it now. Tucker fought for black women to be at the civil rights table when our shining black princes would have preferred us to be prone and she carved a space, however narrow, for black women at the democratic party table. I'd be wary 'fore I threw stones at Tucker especially if I was continuing to stay mum on the failures of Rev. Chavis, oops I mean Minister Chavis Muhammad, and Jesse Jackson but then again I don't throw stones, I am merely the target.

jeudi, octobre 13, 2005

What More Can I Say?

There's nothing I'd like
better than to fall
but I fear
I have nothing to give
I have so much to lose
I have nothing to give

I speak to my sister daily. Well, almost. I used to be good with it. I've been slacking. But I'm getting back together. Nightly conversations with family. I call my sister 'cause I love her. I don't call everyone else 'cause I don't love myself. Enough. At least that's what a she* told me and I'm a believe her.

I call my sister because we are in this life together. Me, Jalylah; her, Aisha; my mother Julie. I've always felt that way. I don't expect additions. I don't pretend that this is a good outlook. It's where I am and have been. We are more than sufficient. Abundance in human form. That doesn't mean I have to stop here but it's easier that way.

Nightly conversations with friend? I speak to D daily. Well almost. I lost my footing but I'm catching the beat, focusing on the blank space between each partner's eyes beneath the third. Try and catch it. Try, try, again. I'll step in mine own name or merengue, if that's how you call it. My Colombian instructor, the inimitable Ricardo, is in Colombia last I heard and his anonymous successor is probably grinding up on some anonymous tourist in Puerta Plata. D commented on how easy it is to lose the beat staring, as it were and still is, at someone else. But you can't look away. Down or up in ecstatic abandon, yes, but never away. That's the hard part.

Me and D were talking about secrets. D saw something on 60 Minutes that sounded like what I saw online. Laylah sent it to GSCN. I remember and then I added it to my blogroll and read it religously for a meantime then stopped. D was excited by it no doubt but probably more at the prospect of revealing it to unsuspecting partners in crime. But I burst the bubble.

D has no secrets or so she says. I believe her. I don't say anything. I think I have a secret but D already knows it so does L and M dot. GW knows another and we don't even speak no more. Mama and 'dem know one but wouldn't imagine it a secret. "Can it be a secret if someone else knows it?" I ask. "It's a secret if there's someone you don't want to know it." D responds. Good answer.

So I have a flat ass, not a secret, and I buy small underwear. A 5 usually, never a 4 'cause despite what Mya says they don't make 'em. Today I have on some undies I bought at a Macy's type department store in Greensboro with a caravan of extended fam, women exclusively. Caught with some downtime before the wedding, we hustled to the mall. I bought a few items cause they were cute and on sale but mostly to be social. You gots to have some booty to display in the car ride home or back at the hotel. "Look, see! Periwinkle silk panties with lace trim. Originally 25 dollars. Marked down to 4 and then 50% off. Can't beat that." Oohs, ahhs. Aunties cursing they expanded backsides, "I used to be able to wear those now its strictly control top microfibers." Upon return to the city of your residence, you** wash panties gentle cycle. Dry open air and then file in the overflowing panty drawer. As the songwriter should write, "you can never have to many underwears." You shimmy periwinkle panties on, months later, only to find out they are too small. A quarter inch of crack exposed without bending. But laundry baskets overflowing and even if it wasn't, you paid good money for the periwinkle panties and they cute. You get used to the 3/4 inch crack exposure masked by the too tight light wash jeans thanking the Lord inside you ain't wear the Japanese low riders.

To L: "We right here."

*not Aisha
**in this case, me

mercredi, octobre 12, 2005

Listen to This

Sign This

Color of Change Petition on William Bennet's racist remarks. They are 2,000 signatures short of their goal.

mardi, octobre 11, 2005

Slam the [man]child on the hard concrete

64 year old Robert Davis battered into arrest on charges of
public intoxication on Bourbon St in N.O. French Quarter.

...or the reason why I don't smile at the popos.
~Long ass interview with Emmanuel Jal, conscripted as a child into the Sudan's People's Liberation army, journeyed by foot to Ethiopia and back and now holds court as a rapper. Terry Gross, the interviewer, has the same effect on me as most palm-pigmented: she makes me want to vomit. You can hear the racism in her liberal well-intentioned voice. Black disdain is just embedded in her speech. You can hear it in the air.

~And Mtume ya Salaam on Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" at Breath of Life spelling out why that song and video don't sit right with me. And as a bonus they also quote good peeps and writer extraodinaire Clover Hope.

jeudi, octobre 06, 2005

That Equal Got to Me*

"Cause while the goods glisten, certain eyes take position"

My apt. was robbed. Laptops, TVs, iPods, only things we'd notice missing, are still there. Don't know where a lot of my posessions are, esp. my clothes. They probably mean the most to me. But I can't imagine a thief stealing apparel. Not much money in consignment even for the good shit and it would take a while to recoup. I'm hardly home. My roomate's never there. Wierd to think someone else was. We live in a nice bldg. Elevator, laundry, and all that but we got got and I'm not scared but I don't want to go home so I won't.

Detective called me. Didn't pick up since it came up 'unknown' but I called back when I heard the msg. He wants me and my roomie to drop everything and go home to figure out what's gone. I told him I don't know what I have so I won't know what's missing or misplaced or
chez someone else or in Seattle. I leave things everywhere I go. Here and there. I have a beautiful diamond pendant that I never wear but I haven't seen that in a while. Just cause it's not in my jewelry box doesn't mean ole boy took it.

You see, they have someone in custody who admitted to burglarizing our apt. They just need us to confirm that items are missing to hold ole dude but, honestly, neither one of us keeps track of our stuff that well and going home ain't gonna jog our memory. I could tell detective was frustrated. He was like "I have somebody here who's admitting to robbing your apt and neither you or your roomie will go home to figure out what's missing." No. What for? Earlier in the convo he explained that the robbery took place recently but not yesterday and I was home last night. My roomie, the night before. Nothing's changed between then and now. I wish I could be of more assistance. He insists on calling my roommate. I give him her number. If she picks up I doubt she'll go home. She got people in town. We both stay elsewhere most of the time. We just need a home base. If that's compromised it's unfortunate but not the end of the world. I think.

*"Got", from which this comes, is pure genius. "Robbed on principle" used to crack us up so did plaintive choral background shout "This is so unfair"

I've been thinking...

I didn't like that Ray Cash song, then, and I don't like it now but I think it's interesting in a unintentional sort of way. It's a conversation piece. I've talked to myself about it, a dialogue in my own mind. Letting two voices slip from my lips even in the confines of my apt could make me sound imbalanced. My roomate could hear.

Ray Cash plays with the notion that one could be a pimp in one's one mind. It's tentative at first*: "I'm a pimp in my own fuckin' mind?" but gains momentum with repetition. "Yes, I'm a pimp in my own fuckin' mind." By the end, you hear his satisfied smirk, "Yes, I'm." No blank to fill.

So where does whoredom fit in, you know, hoeing? Could one be a whore in one's own mind? What would that feel like? Would it feel like someone? Would it start like Ray Cash's cerebral pimpin' does? Tentatively? Who draws the line between mind and matter? Thought and action? Hunts Point and the cortex's contents resting beneath red-bedazzled-newsboy-capped-frizzy-haired black girls. Brown, really, but you get the point.

His surface braggadocio betrayed by the inesteem "Sex Appeal", aka every unwanted boy's vengeful daily affirmation, assuages or as KRS said "Real bad boys move in silence."

lundi, octobre 03, 2005

Double Entendre

I don't know why I like this picture but I do.

Lauryn Hill joins the line up of Take Back TV's free concert this Thursday at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield. It's Monday and I'm already too tired to contemplate end-of-the-week, after-work, crowd serfdom but my avowed devotion to L Boogaloo (both of them*) might just draw me out.

* I see you, Juicy!

dimanche, octobre 02, 2005

"I claimed that record there as mine."

August Wilson, April 27, 1945-October 2, 2005

"I first heard Bessie Smith as a 20-year-old living in a rooming House in Pittsburgh in 1965. And I would go across the street to the St. Vincent de Paul Store and, indiscriminately, buy these 78 records for a nickel apiece... And one day I had a typewritten yellow label, a record by someone named Bessie Smith, you know. And I put that on the turntable, and it actually changed my life. I was stunned by this record. I had never heard anything like it. And as a consequence of that, I began to look at the people who were living in the rooming house. I began to look at them differently; I began to connect them to a history. And then I realized that I was part of that. And so I claimed that record there as mine. And from that moment on, you know, I began to, in my writing, you know, to embrace and explore this African presence in America."

samedi, octobre 01, 2005

Out of the Mouths of Babes

"If you're going to make us wear bright clothes, so, life is all flowers and sausages, we can wear the clothes we want to. If you'r e going to make us wear light clothes, I'm going to wear a shirt that says [bleep] Shannon, if I can."