mercredi, février 23, 2005

Confessions Part II

For background read Monday's post, "Message in a Bottle or Why I am Seldom Up in the Club."

lundi, février 21, 2005

Stars Never Lie

"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."

I am not Malcolm X. But born six days and almost six decades later and daughter to the phenomenal woman born one day and 2+ decades later, I'd like to think we are close. Stars never lie.

Malcolm Little touched down on earth the spring of 1925. Keeping with the blood red times, his birthplace, Omaha, Nebraska, turned a cold shoulder to the black boy eventually turning Malcolm's blacker baptist preaching father's hot blood way below zero. I imagine after shelving the unnecessary cooling board, they laid his tattered body six feet deep. Mother Louise's blood continued to pump but her faculties having evaluated her circumstances soon felt it best to cease operations.

"I am neither a fanatic nor a dreamer. I am a black man who loves peace, and justice, and loves his people."

Although mother and father Little left Malcolm at a young age, the broadnosed redbone proved big before puberty ushered in his formidable adult stature. Fearing only God and not of humankind Malcolm was a big time hustler, a brilliant numbers runner, a fire-starting minister, a global revolutionary, and a changing man.

Authentic Malcolm took stands. Humble Malcolm took instruction. Principled Malcolm questioned authority. Malcolm did not play positions. He allowed his orientation towards them to change as his knowledge and wisdom grew. Tethered to righteousness he strived towards freedom like fellow freedom fighter Martin but in his strive he changed.

"...I shall never rest until I have undone the harm I did to so many well-meaning, innocent Negroes who through my own evangelistic zeal now believe in him even more fanatically and more blindly than I did."
(On those he encouraged to follow Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad)

Mortal and inherently imperfect our lives are characterized by infinite possibility: the gift OR the curse. Jailtime conversion to Islam, career stalling break from Elijah Muhammad, The Hajj all demonstrate Malcolm's respect for the process in the face of ego and consistency's seduction. His life was a gift we can pattern ours after.

"I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color."

On this day in 1965 Malcolm made his transition from flesh and blood to disembodied spirit. Ashe.

Message in a Bottle or Why I am Seldom up in the Club!

It's always the liqs that get the best of me on an evening out. It's a guaranteed pathway to fun or its not so exact replica: good times or rather good moments. For with morning and afternoon and evening and maybe even the morning after next comes headache and nausea. I ain't got time for fake times which is why I am not interesting in sipping Cris' or personal fav Veuve Cliquot with anyone these days. Volvic is all I need to get by.

Quite often I wonder why clubbing is such a universal means of letting loose and why checking out let's say Henry Threadgill at the Knitting Factory isn't. I feel like my lifestyle demands compromise for camraderie. I eat where I don't want to eat. I go where I'm not that interested in going. Who in the hell wants to go see Jacky Terrason on a Saturday night? Who won't trip out at Kate's Joint? It's very, very, interesting how living your own life can so distance you from your friends and in turn socializing with your friends so distances you from yourself.

samedi, février 19, 2005

Holler at a Player!

Yo. It has come to my attention that on some browsers my blog is not displaying correctly. Ideally my blog should have two adjacent columns: this one with my posts and another column with my profile, blogroll, etc. Please advise if they are not showing up as adjacent! Apparently sometimes my profile only appears when you scroll to the end of my posts. Folks using Firefox or Netscape shouldn't experience this problem. Internet Explorer sucks!

mercredi, février 16, 2005


Cotton Candy On A Rainy Day
by Nikki Giovanni

Don't look now
I'm fading away
Into the gray of my mornings
Or the blues of every night

Is it that my nails
keep breaking
Or maybe the corn
on my second little piggy
Things keep popping out
on my face
of my life

It seems no matter how
I try I become more difficult
to hold
I am not an easy woman
to want

They have asked
the psychiatrists psychologists politicians and
social workers
What this decade will be
known for
There is no doubt it is

samedi, février 12, 2005

Funeral Procession

Ossie Davis
December 18, 1917-February 4, 2005

I have not been present at many events in my lifetime, events of great magnitute, that I imagine I will be able to recount (god willing) to my descendants. I suppose I should be able to testify to four years at a historically black women's college. I hope to herald the nurturers, the inventive intellects, the fearless activists, the autonomous black women of Spelman and their life affirming legacy. Their strength of spirit is one seldom seen elsewhere. But when driven to recall a single event, a transformative moment in time, freedom times, I fear that I will be at a great loss.

TV, sexy, seductive and insidious as it is, might paint my spirit's conundrum more vividly. A painting that we as African Americans used to hang in our battered but hardly heavy hearts hung in Clair and Cliff Huxtable's home for 8 memorable years. Ellis Wilson's "The Funeral Procession", as familiar to fans of The Cosby Show as the colorful 'Cosby' sweaters that clothed the fictional patriarch each episode graced the far wall bearing down on the assemblage of the supremely talented black artists who tread through the elegantly appointed parlor. One such episode found the family in their lived-in room reflecting black. Cliff and Clair's parents with Rudy, Vanessa, Theo, Denise and Sondra looking on, told of a March on Washington. They told the story of putting down posessions, skipping out on work, putting on sunday's best and assembling on the capitol steps. I imagine they love to tell the story. I would not be so foolish as to wish I could have experienced segregation, but I would love to tell the story of community, resistance, of integrity, of black beauty, of goodness, and most of all Godliness.

There was a man, a regal man, "a shining black prince" of the same rare earthen composition as his dear red bone revolutionary El Hajj Malik El Shabazz who served as one of the Masters of Ceremony for that great day in a morning with his equally grand wife, an equally accomplished actor and activist. Raiford Chatman Davis better known as Ossie was that man; Ruby Dee his divinely ordained mate. That great man loved to tell stories who dreamed of writing above and beyond performing, wrote as brilliantly as he spoke and performed perfection.

As I crawled around the periphery of Riverside Church this frigid morning with thousands of homegoing well wishers, huddles together for warmth I bantered with two beautiful black women, elders and a black man. The man, a Howard alum, a classically trained vocalist, an educator refuted Rock and Rap. Rap was garbage. Rock far from a genre. We got at it. I spoke in relatives. He spoke in absolutes. I tried to bridge the generation gap. Some salt and peppered men echoed his condemnation of hip hop, of Foxy's, Jay-Z's and Kims. We stood apart but when I found myself in an overflow room I saved them seats. I would love to tell the story of intergenerational communication of unjadedness. We stood apart in ideas but together in mourning of a foregone moment, another black community with less distance but just as much disagreement. It was the communal concern that we lacked and we mourn. So I would love to tell the story of Ossie's time, though I know it was painful, maybe that's why I snuck into the balcony to find an open seat but also two seats for my elders. I wouldn't have felt right up there by myself.

I cried and I cried at the ceremony. I cried for Ossie Davis. I cried for King and Queens past. I cried for their barren legacy's. I cried for myself. I cried for I have few communal stories to tell. Oh how I'd love to tell the story.

I cried for black families oppositional of Ossie and Ruby's unconditional love and responsibility. I cried for myself. I am not a crier but I cried and I imagine I will cry in fear of the end of a generation that defines blackness to me. If they leave, what will happen to me? What will happen to us? What if they have already left?

I will not join the funeral procession of blackness, black people, black liberation which is women's liberation, which is universal equality as exemplified by Ella Baker and Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer and A. Philip Randolph. I will remember Ossie's life. I must. His living would be in vain and that of every bone black ancestor if I did not live my life with the ultimate integrity.

I send my love to Ossie's spirit, immortal and blessed, swirling through the universe. I bring greetings and I extend my thanks: Thank you Ossie for the gift!

"He belongs to us. He exists in us. We can be more, Everyday we can be more because Ossie Davis existed and belonged to us." Maya Angelou, 2/12/2005

vendredi, février 11, 2005

Aoleon's Grammy Picks

I know Com's not nominated but he's hot and that's all that matters.

In case I haven't mouthed off about awards shows, let me quote Amel Larriex (who mysteriously was shut out despite her album blowing many of the nominated albums out the water and I'm not really much of a fan) and say "I do not not subscribe to their philosophies." Good people, we need to stop looking to the insanely rich, powerful and not so arbitrarily connected to determine what's good. And more importantly artists need to stop looking to these self important fools for validation. The Grammys and the Oscars are about art that is popular, hyped or buzzingly edgy in the narrow minds and even narrower tastes of these people. Denzel was better without his. Halle is still unremarkable as an actress (excluding her wallet clunching turn as a crackhead in Jungle Fever). So I'm definitely not tripping too hard of the Grammys so be wary since I like music and listen to it with a discriminating hear many of my picks may not come true, i.e. everyone I picked over Usher in a category he is nominated in in will lose.

I'm gonna dig down deep and offer some of Aoleon's Grammy predictions. Shout to Joe for telling me the name of the Queen of Zamunda despite the fact that I've seen Coming to America 10-20,000 times...And I call myself a feminist.

But before I put on my fortune teller's turban let's talk about some of my concerns:

~Why wasn't Jill Scott's "Golden" nominated for Best R&B song?
It was. No discussion.

~Why are LL, Beastie Boys or Nelly nominated?

-Record of the Year-
American Idiot, Green Day
-Album of the Year-
The College Dropout, Kanye West
-Song of the Year-
"Jesus Walks", Kanye West
-Best New Artist-
Kanye West
-Best Female Pop Vocal Performance-
"What You Waiting For", Gwen Stefani
-Best Male Pop Vocal Performance-
"Daughters", John Mayer
-Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal-
"It's My Life", No Doubt
-Best Dance Recording-
"Toxic", Britney Spears
-Best Female R&B Vocal Performance-
"U-Haul", Angie Stone
-Best Male R&B Vocal Performance-
"Charlene", Anthony Hamilton (If Usher wins for sappy slag "Burn" its gonna be some shit)
-Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals-
Diary, Alicia Keys
-Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance-
"Musicology", Prince
-Best Urban/Alternative Performance-
"Star", The Roots
-Best R&B Song-
"You Don't Know My Name", Alicia Keys
-Best R&B Album-
Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. II, Jill Scott
-Best Contemporary R&B Album-
Confessions, Usher
-Best Rap Solo Performance-
"99 Problems", Jay-Z
-Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group-
"Lean Back", Terror Squad
-Best Rap/Sung Collaboration-
"Why", Jadakiss and Anthony Hamilton
-Best Rap Song-
"Jesus Walks", Kanye West
-Best Rap Album-
The College Dropout, Kanye West
-Best Contemporary Jazz Album-
Strength, Roy Hargrove RH Factor
-Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical-
John Shanks

One of my fav Grammy plunderers ever!

Who knew Jigga Smiled?

mardi, février 08, 2005

Vote or Die!

Last year I cursed the critics surveyed in the Village Voice's annual Pazz&Jop issue for their poor selections. A leisurely read of 2005's Pazz&Jop lifted from Union Square's Virgin Megastore no less may or may not be equally off target. I can't tell. I knew last year's list was bollocks cause I was noticeably angry but as I read this year's list over a banging vegan caesar salad at everybody's favorite diner since Veg City closed, Kate's Joint, I did not scowl and I may have even cracked a relucant smile.

You see 2003 was a very, very, good year for black music (Kindred, Anthony Hamilton, and Donnie all put out muthafucking CLASSICS!) none of which charted on Pazz&Jop while obscure hipster white bands and overseas imports stormed the charts. It seems being black isn't exotic enough anymore and when it is its deemed to commonplace; uninventive. Oh and don't get me started on the undeniable race and class politics of mash ups better known to city dwellers esp. people of color as a muthafucking remix! If its this 'genre distinction' bs as some folks claim: mash ups are two tracks that don't belong together. Who says so and how is that determined? Jay Z's "99 Problems" is over a so called rock track so how is it a mash up if put over another rock beat? Do mash ups say more about the social location of the remixers than anything else?

Okay I'm still not mad but I bet anybody reading this thinks I am.

But back to Pazz&Jop 2005 Kanye graces the cover as expected; captured within the greying pages is pencil jockin' of 'Ye and it-bands Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand and redemptively white and exotically british rapper The Streets. The best things in life are free but "A Grand..." isn't one of them. But anyway glaring omissions in my opinion are:

The Grind Date
~De La Soul
(If Diddy's pockmarked parolee know "Hot Fiyah" when he sees it, why can't 700+ critics?)
This Week~Jean Grae
Van Hunt~Van Hunt

Single's wise:
"It's All Real"~Pitch Black
"Bang Bang"~Big Noyd
"Selfish"~Slum Village
"Got It Twisted"~Mobb Deep

I'll think of more later and add them...

PS-Where are today's Vestas? Where is the 2005's Stephanie Mills? SWV please reunite!

J "I will listen to you!" B

lundi, février 07, 2005

"1 Thing"

'Blasians' Kimora Lee and Amerie Backstage at Baby Phat during Fashion Week 2005

I walk tall except when I slouch, straight on the occasion life's winding roads fail to beckon. I move swiftly some would say purposefully. My yoga loathing frame is mysteriously balanced but "It's this 1 things that's got me trippin'".

My alma mater plays host to an array of phenomenal women (or as Alice Lovelace would ullulate "wise women") including our esteemed President who left before I arrived but though hobbled by emphysema signed this little black girls copy of Conversations on a mid nineties trip to Seattle and who smiled so hard, so sincerely at this coming of age black girl at Spelman's annual Sweet Honey and the Rock Concert I truly believed that I or at least my dreams could fly.

Looking into the Sister President's light grey (or are they blue, green, hazel?) eyes sparked more than inspiration they started my mind's well worn wheels turning. Many of the most prominent phenomenal women who graced Spelman's podiums, filled our African Diaspora and the World books and enriched and nurtured black girls sense of possibility while supplementing, nah!, writing/righing the global stories in that inclusive and revolutionary manner that sometimes only those thrice marginalized can do.

There names are: Sonia Sanchez, Pearl Cleage, June Jordan, Johnetta B. Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Kathleen Cleaver, Elaine Brown, Angela Davis, Hazel Carby, Nikki Giovanni, bell hooks, Thulani Davis, Audre Lorde and Julianne Malveaux. Their speach is poetry, their words (in a nod to Guy-Sheftall) are fire and I love them and their legacy dearly but then I wonder why the prominemt poets, familiar pundits, representative movers and shakers are are on the lighter shade of the spectrum.

I don't raise the issue to indict my sisters but to raise the issue, to establish if this is a phenomenon or just a coincidence (although I don't think I believe in coincidences), and if this is is a pattern of the color complex in effect mode why has it not been interrogated.

Today, Abena and I reflected black. We spoke about how darker black women's bodies and posteriors, thick thighs and healthy flesh are highlighted in music videos while lighter black or non-black women's faces are highlighted. I was reminded of a color conscious childhood in Seattle where multiracial individuals have long been the norm and the standard or beauty. So being black, bone black, just black, happily black, the only black at times was a challenge. Unmistakably brown skin and an undisputedly nigger nose would have done me in if not for me and my sisters long not so kinky hair.

It's odd that Johnetta "inspired a generation of black women" Cole's body would represent residuals of oppression or the pale face of sweet voiced Ms. Cleage author of some serious work. It's confusing that these same women's fair complexions would symbolize a seldom talked about privilege, would represent exclusion in one of its most insidious forms in the supposed realm of avant guard, the domain of the professed intellects: the academy, the arts.

"It's this 1 thing my soul may be feelin'"

My favorite writer is Gwendolyn Brooks. Lithe lyricist, patient poet, word wizard, and brilliantly, Yes!, unmistakably black woman. I guess she is my lily in the valley, my dark star. A women who wrote the unmistakably black women, so overlooked, but far from tragic into her own heart wrenching work.

mercredi, février 02, 2005

Dream Sequence I:The Phantom Menace

What if I punctuated every utterance with: "I'm from Seattle" or "I went to Spelman" or "I once lived in Hong Kong" or "My father isn't speaking to me" or "My mother and I argued two nights ago" or "My mama always calls me when I'm at the club" or "I REALLY love my Mama" or "My sister holds me down" or "I bathe every night" or "I battle fear each dawn" or "I am silent more often than I am honest" or I am not angry" or "I am disheartened by 2 dear friends" or "I see insecurities like Haley Joel Osment saw the dead" or "I love to laugh" or "I hate to smile"? Would you know where I am or even where I am coming from? If my words are not enough, are my actions? If so, what if no one is looking. Does my story end there? Does it ever begin?

What happens when you run out of words to say? Do you dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore--and then run? Do you stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over--like a syrupy sweet. Maybe you just sag like a heavy load. Or do you explode?

J "Invoking the dearly departed Langston Hughes on a banal work day" B

Happy Black History Month!

More on the BS that was Unforgiveable Blackness later.

mardi, février 01, 2005

O-Dub is chillin'

What more can I say? Well I have already linked the audioblogs listed in this article to my blogroll so they got top billin' in my book. This is pretty fresh!

"The more I smoke the smaller the Philly gets"

So I interviewed 112 today and I was really impressed with them and their integrity as artists. Real cool dudes. I remember seeing them with Matt, Shaun and L'Erin at the BET Phat Hip Hop Concert at the Tacoma Dome. I think it was '95. I probably have a ticket stub and one of those overpriced glossy souvenir photo booklets of Mary and Biggie somewhere in my childhood lair if my mama hasn't thrown my stuff out as she threatens every year. Anyway, Adina Howard opened up followed by The Luniz I think (aside-why are L and I the only ones who know that "I Got Five On It" in accordance with the great African American tradition is call in response. Some folks say "I Got Five On It" while some other folks respond "BEEYATCH" before coming together to proclaim "Grab your 40. Let's get keyed!"
As I was saying: Lil' Kim performed, so did Mary J. Blige, I think Naughty By Nature was there and Jodeci and of course Total. All I can say was that was a concert for all concerts.

Jalylah "Back in the day when I was young I'm not a kid anymore but somedays I sit and wish I was a kid again" Burrell