Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

School Dayz (Remix).


i found this joint in particular to be so powerful. i wanted to re-view it thru a slightly revised lens, an' i hope that ain' against the rules.

the obvious alteration is of course, the sucking out of the colour. counterintuitive tho' it might be in light of the subject matter, i felt that the colourful classroom artwork (and they lil' outfits) were vibrant enough to just slightly overpower the shorties and the map.

secondly, i softened the focus a little, to give the impression that there's almost a flash going off in fronna them (the effect's mostly visible on the left shorty's left side) - like, Afrika's brightness is stunning, yo.

anyways. hope you dig the homage to your artistic eye, V. just a different perspective is all.

School Dayz.







Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Smartest Food.


I'm smart. I like food. So of course I'd be interested in a food that will make me even smarter. AND healthier. Pyschology Today has a great article on why we should all be eating blueberries. Here's a snippet:

There's a revolution going on. And it's not being fought with guns and bombs but with garden-variety fruits and vegetables.

Call it the 'smart-food revolution.' It has to do with the growing body of research showing that everyday produce can function medically to prevent, treat and even cure common diseases.
Many green grocery items contain goodies that can help ward off the diseases of aging, such as cancer and heart disease, and slow down the aging process itself. Some of them can even halt the brain deterioration and memory loss that tends to accompany aging.


All together, the findings suggest that relatively simple diet modifications can slow down the normal process of brain aging and memory impairment. And delicious little blueberries may be the smartest food of all.

At the University of Maine, Dorothea J. Klimis, associate professor of clinical nutrition, started looking at blueberries because of her interest in heart disease and manganese, a trace mineral found in abundance in blueberries.

She found that blueberries have a powerful effect on arteries, keeping them from constricting in response to stress hormones. Constricted arteries can raise blood pressure and bring on cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Her studies suggest that the compounds in blueberries bolster the bioavailability of nitric oxide, an artery relaxer. She is measuring enzymes that aid nitric oxide to see at which point in the chemical process blueberries intervene.

Although the research points to a compound within anthocyanin, Klimis is not interested in singling out specific ingredients. "The food industry is notorious for extracting things and turning them into pills. I promote whole foods. It's probably a synergistic effect within blueberries anyhow."

Smaller, wild blueberries, the "low-bush" variety, are thought to be healthier than cultivated blueberries because they contain more anthocyanin. And frozen berries are just as good as fresh ones.

Like their first cousins the cranberries, blueberries have been shown to suppress urinary tract infections, and to reduce eyestrain, too. "Hippocrates said to use food as medicine," Klimis reports, "but doctors don't do that."

You can.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On: Creativity



"Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe. " - Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher

Every time I read this, I think to myself, "How does one go about opening that door?" And then i think some more on it and figure out that it's a process. And then i think some more on that process and think some more and more and more and then it hits me: thinking about it isn't gonna get it open; you just gotta DO it.

Turning thoughts into actions has been one of the greatest obstacles of my life. Turning thoughts into words is easy. I can talk a blue streak about what i want to do and what i plan to do but actually doing it? Nah. There are very few times when i've broken thru. And when i have, it was very rewarding and fulfulling. But when i look back, i can't figure out how i did it or what got me off my proverbial ass. There's no pattern or rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes i just DID it. (shout out to Nike)

So i'm issuing myself a challenge.

Self, it's Tuesday. You have until Sunday evening to do something, anything that you've been thinking about for a while. I know you have a long ass list so pick just one. Start slow, start small. Maybe you could even write out a list and put it on the fridge. check them off as you go...but it's time, self. It's time.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Finally My Dry Spell Is Over.


I was starting to think I wasn't going to win anything ever again. The last time i won a sweepstakes was in January. I won a year subscription to my favorite magazine, GAMES. Then i didn't win any for a long, long time. I mean I spend about an hour a day entering them and deal with lots of spam but every now and then there's a payoff.

I win lots of little things like t-shirts, movie tickets, books, toys, a travel chair, and other trinkets but my biggest win was a trip to Birmingham, England to see Duran Duran in concert (I sqeezed in a lovely side-trip to London, too). That came via telephone from a rep at Sony Records...I couldn't believe it. I mean nobody really wins trips, do they? Well yup. I'm living proof of that.

Well anyway, i got a letter in the mail today from Best Buy saying that I'd won a Sony Cybershot digital camera from a World Cup prediction sweep I had entered. (now i REALLY love Sony) It should be shipped to me in 4 to 6 weeks...yay!!!! And i had been kinda slacking with entering sweeps cuz it had been sooooo long since i'd won anything substantial.

So i guess imma be back on the grind again...

and i may just start a new photo blog :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Madison Avenue Misstep.



That does not make me want to buy a Snickers bar. (Neither do these.) It makes want to vomit. What were they thinking associating candy with a surgical procedure? As a woman, the word hysterectomy immediately comes to mind. So if i bite into a Snickers bar, my uterus will fall out BUT I will no longer be hungry. Great.

P.S. I wish i were this clever.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

First Day of School Update:

I just spoke to Pumpkin and he said his first day of school was awesome! And he didn't get detention! whew... I'm so glad he liked it. He was doing his homework when I called (they gave very little) so he's off to a good start.

He did miss the school bus because he was confused about which bus to take home. So one of the teachers gave him a ride to the bus stop where his dad was waiting. Excellent.

Now i can exhale...

The First Day of School


As much as i enjoyed summer vacation, I could not WAIT for the first day of school. The smiling teachers, chattering kids, brand new textbooks... It was always an exciting day for me and it was the one day where i'd wake up before my mom just so i could pick out which of my new outfits I was gonna wear. I used to put extra vaseline on my face and arms to make sure i didn't get teased for being ashy. I almost always had a new bookbag, pencil case and fresh composition books with my name neatly scrawled on the front.

Today is my 10-year old's first day of 5th grade and i'm just as nervous and excited sitting here at my desk as if i were there myself. He had previously been in the same school for the last 6 years and I can only imagine how he must feel today...a new school, new classmates, new teachers. Nothing at all will be familiar. And he's not going to just any school...it's a college-prepatory charter school. An award-winning system that has been featured on various TV talk shows. One with lots of strict rules and easy-to-get detentions. It will be fun too, but he will have to earn that fun.

I know he was probably scared on the way this morning...worrying about what it's gonna be like...worrying about getting a detention on the first day...with good reason. His father and i have spent the last two weeks drilling him and impressing upon him the importance of getting organized, focusing on his work and paying attention in class. Those 3 things have been very difficult for him in the past...which is part of why I'm so excited that he will be in this school.

The last school he was in was horribly sub-standard. Even though he finished the year with A's and B's, he was being given work on a 2nd grade level...and he was in the 4th grade! Unfortunately, the administration's expectations for the students in that school were so low, that no one was being challenged. He did as little as possible and came away with good grades. It was easy to succeed there and it has given my son a false sense of security.

Well today begins his reality check. Middle school is when things start getting serious; the math is harder and the work is more demanding. If he doesn't get serious about school now, and develop good study habits, high school is going to be even more trying for him.

I know he's smart enough but that boy is just (admittedly) lazy. All he cares about is playing and watching TV. He hates school. Which is so foreign to me because I always LOVED LOVED LOVED school. How did i raise a child that hates school? I mean i know it's not my fault; children are individuals, but still.

Well fine. He can hate school all he wants but I won't let him get away with not doing his best. I know he's going to need alot of support and encouragement in these first few months. If i can keep his spirits up and let him know that i'm always proud of him no matter what, hopefully he will Rise to this new challenge.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mondays with Meshell.


Watching Meshell Ndegeocello perform is like watching a flower blossom slowly.

She starts out quiet and closed. Her mic is angled towards the band instead of the audience...She takes the stage without incident; no introductions, no warnings. She lets the band get started as she hangs back...shy. After some minutes, she starts to sing a little but then dons her hood in order to protect herself even more from the scrutiny of the crowd....

But after a while, she begins to warm up...she dances, moves, gives direction, laughs with the band. Eventually she acknowledges the crowd. Banters. Smiles. Introduces the band. Then finally, after 1.5 hours, and at long last....

She picks up the Bass. just wow.

Meshell makes me want to quit my job, buy a bass, and lock myself in a padded room for a month until i emerge with an opus. She plays so amazingly and effortlessly. Her dainty fingers flit and fly over the thick strings as if she's caressing them instead of pressing them. If the main bass player is doing a simple 3 chord repetition, she quietly overtakes him and adds a note here and a note there...but differently every other bar...i was mesmerized.

Lucky for me, there's more to come. She's performing with her band, A Different Girl [Every Night], for 3 Mondays in August. So tonight was only the beginning...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stupid Girl.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in a lovely village. She went to school every day, studied real hard and got good grades. But there was just one problem.

Every day at 4pm, she walked a ways up the road to where there is always a small fire burning. Every day, as she passes by the old man, he tells her not to touch the fire. Every day, she walks right up to the fire and puts her hand over it.

The pain is intense and the girl screams out. Her hand is already sore and scarred from all the previous days' pain and every day the pain is worse. She walks back down the road, crying, past the old man (who hands her a bandage) and goes home.

Weeks and weeks go by and the girl continues her daily routine. Until one day, when the old man could not take it anymore. He stops the girl as she is walking by, hand already bloodied and bandaged from the day before...he has to know.

Old Man: are you going to the fire?

Stupid Girl: yes.

Old Man: don't you know that it will burn you? i tell you every day...

Stupid Girl: yes, i know. i hear you tell me.

Old Man: then why do you keep doing it? why don't you stop hurting yourself?

Stupid Girl: Because I am stupid, I guess.

and off towards the fire she went again.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

On: Stuff

I absolutely detest the word *Can't*. it's a copout. a crutch. i hate it when people use it because what they really mean is that they *won't* or *don't want to* do something. They are just afraid to say it that way. But yes, they are quite able to. We CAN do anything that we have a desire to do, if we want it badly enough. There's just no such thing as *can't*. Cuz it would be really easy for me to say "I can't open a franchise right now", but the truth of the matter is, I'm not willing to give it a sincere attempt right now. Because i know for a fact that if i put 100% effort into doing it, it would get done.

Every day after work, I pass by a seemingly homeless man in the subway (i try not to 100% trust appearances). He looks about 55 years old, Black, salt/pepper hair and beard...he's a large man. Not obese but not thin. Very alert and seemingly healthy. He sits on a milk crate and has a paper cup with change in it that he shakes as people walk by.

Now i understand that some people are down on their luck for whatever reason...loss of home, loss of job, etc. and maybe they need some help to get ahead. I can sympathize because i'm only 2 paychecks away from homelessness myself. But to sit in the same spot every day and shake a cup? that shit pisses me off. Now i don't know what he's doing up until I see him...maybe he's out looking for work or whatever. I don't know. But i can only go on what i see. And my perception is that this man expects me to get up every morning, go to a job that i don't even really want to be at, work all day, earn a paycheck, then just give it to him because he's shaking a cup? I don't think so. Sometimes i have an urge to start a conversation with him and find out what his situation is and other times, I want to scream at him. So i just say nothing. I walk by and don't even look at him. I pretend to not even see him. I treat him as if he is invisible even tho it hate it when people do that to me. I'm often amazed at my own hypocrisy..

and speaking of my hypocrisy...I was on the PATH train last night and there was this couple. The girl was petite, white with blond hair. Some kind of accent that i could not place. Cute round face. Her boyfriend was a bit taller than her...dark curly hair, piercing eyes..maybe Italian?. Well i don't know if they were newly in love with each other but they just would not keep their hands off each other...they constantly kissed (loudly) right in front of where i was standing. I was highly annoyed and rolled my eyes at them several times. In those moments, I hated them intensely and wanted to scream at them to give me a fucking break...

But I know now that I was just jealous. Not too long ago, that was me/us. on a train, holding hands, standing close, sharing an ipod, kissing, staring into each others eyes, not caring about anyone else around us, wondering whether the train could move faster so we could hurry up and be home and alone...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Testimony Vol 1: Life and Relationships


I got this cd the other day and i was very excited to listen to it...this was my first time buying a CD in a very long time and i'd almost forgotten how much i enjoy liner notes...i read them all. all her thank you's (there were like 5 pages worth).. what struck me the most tho, were her photographs. she is so beautiful. and she just looks so happy and at peace. especially the one photo of her in Hawaii by the waterfall. just amazing...

so i loaded the cd up onto my nano and took a listen on my way to work. maybe my expectations were too high though because i was not that impressed.

Now there's no denying that India has a nice voice and she writes very well. She has alot to say and i'm glad someone is saying it. It's a refreshing change from the empty ,vacuous, materialistic subject matter of the average songs you hear on the radio these days.

but the music was a bit unremarkable and sometimes boring. elementary, even. I'd have much preferred this be a spoken word album because i loved the lyrics to most of the songs...but the vocal and musical arrangements..the musicianship displayed...B.L.A.H. My main gripe is that there was too much talk-singing (damn you, R. Kelly) and meaningless runs. Oftentimes her voice was not as full of emotion as the lyrics would seem to require...

i hated writing that because i wanted to like this album so badly. but i gotta be honest. i can't not speak on mediocrity. Jehan has given me such a healthy appreciation of really well-produced, high quality, professional music and vocal stylings that it's really glaring when something is not up to snuff.

but at the end of the day, I'm incredibly thankful for India.Arie. She is a welcome change to the music industry's obsession with light skin, straight noses, long blond hair... India looks like me. Her nose and lips and skin are like mine. I rarely get to see a reflection of myself being successful in the entertainment business. AND she's not selling sex. AND she's talking about positive uplifting things. She's important and relevant. She's opening doors and carving pathways for an army of little dark black girls to pick up an instrument and march in behind her. I will always respect and support her for that.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Don't Think I'm Ready for This

My 10-year old son came to me today and told me there's a girl he likes and he wants to kiss her. I mean i'm happy as hell that he feels comfortable coming to me and talking about stuff like this and i hope i don't screw it up and make him think twice about it when he's older but i was hoping for at least another year before i had to start thinking of my sweet little boy wanting to win the affections of some unappreciative, mean little girl.

Cuz girls are mean at this age. They will "Ew, you ugly" you with the quickness. So a boy's gotta be careful. Right now, he somehow instinctively knows that he should not tell her or any of the other kids. Knowing him, he shows her every chance he gets that he can do back flips and other cool tricks...

He says he doesn't know if she likes him too. He got a lil annoyed when I asked if the girl was Black or not. He rolled his eyes and said she was Puerto Rican. It totally makes sense that he'd like a Puerto Rican girl...back when he was 6, he said he was going to change his middle name to Jose. And he's always asking me to take him to Puerto Rico.

I'm gonna have to get a look at this girl tho...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Short Stories.

Short stories are special. They are little tasty morsels of verbiage that are just right for when your time is limited. Or for when your imagination needs a boost. Its like eating 3 m&m's instead of a whole chocolate bar...you just wanted to taste the chocolate.

Growing up an avid reader, i never really was interested in short stories. Chapter books were my thing. I don't know why though. One would think that a child with a medium-length attention span would welcome a story that you can begin and finish in one afternoon...maybe it was because whenever i'd see a collection of short stories, they just weren't short enough. Twenty, thirty, fifty pages they'd go on and on... It felt like a cheat. Like people who make 35-minute-long "short" films. To me, a short story should be only 1 page long. 3 at the most.

Even as i'm writing this, i've suddenly gained a new appreciation for my Fruit Nazi story. I wasn't really thinking of it as a short story as i was writing it, but when i re-read it today, i was like, hey now! *shakes a short-story tailfeather*

In last month's magazine, Oprah challenged 8 well-known authors to tell a story in 300 words or less. Here is my favorite one:


With One Wheel Gone Wrong
by A.M. Homes

With one wheel gone wrong, she careens into the checkout line. A perfect shopper, she prides herself on sailing the circulars, clipping coupons, buying in bulk. Her basket is overflowing with catnip and kitty litter, Pull-Ups and pomegranates -- plenty of all. She takes a magazine out of the rack; there's a spot to scratch, an offee she can't resist -- "Got an itch you can't identify, don't know what you want, let this be your moment." The background photo is of a beautiful house with everything just as you would want it to be -- untouched by reality. She scratches; her finger is quickly coated with gold powder and under that is something a little sticky -- tugging at her. It is as thought she is being pulled in to the magazine. A sudden burst of light, an explosion of inspiration, a fleeting illumination, and she is inside the picture and it is clear -- this is her house, this is who she is, the life she is supposed to live.

It is incredible -- she's seeing not only the future but the pathway there -- and it's a new kind of floor tile -- you just put one foot in front of the other, don't stop, and watch where you're going. And then, as thought in a faraway dream, she hears the scanner beeping, she hears the checker say, "Are you taking that magazine?" Drawing a deep breath, she pulls herself back into the checkout line. She takes every copy of the magazine out of the rack. "I'll take all you've got," she says.

"Paper or plastic?"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Fruit Nazi.

His territory is the northwest corner of 54th St and Park avenue. He always looks weary whether its 7am or 7pm. Long days for the sake of selling fruit come easy to him. And sell fruit, he does. He has many tools in his arsenal...the Slavic accent, the raggedy clothes, the unshaven beard, the pot belly...he oozes 'hard working-immigrant'...you cannot say no to him.

You just want one banana? HA!! The Fruit Nazi will somehow force-cajole you into buying 4 for $1. As you walk away in a daze carrying your little black plastic bag and your 4-pack of nature's perfect fruit, you vaguely remember that you were hoping for that 75 cents in change for the office soda machine. But that's how he gets you...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fuck Therapy; All I Need Is Music.

I can't stop listening to this song...

In My Mind by Heather Headley

Imagine seeing him on the town, holding another hand.
She's staring me down so I figure that he told her who I am
But it don't matter either way
what they do or say
'cause ain't nothin' changed
he's standin with her
but his soul is callin' out my name.

In my mind, I'll always be his lady.
In my mind, I'll always be his girl.

Saw his momma just the other day
said he'd been through a spell (well, well)
had a bad breakup
thinks he's on his way up
it's hard to tell

She said i think it'd do some good
if you call him every now and then
you see he's been through some things and
I'm thinking he could really use a friend

Chorus:
In my mind I'll always be his lady. (I'll always be)
In my mind I'll always be his girl.
Only time will tell if I'm his lady
But in my mind I'll always be his girl.

*my favorite part*

They say if you love something
you've got to let it go (Oh----)
and if it comes back
then it means so much more.
Fine if it never does
at least you will know (Oh--)
that it was something you had to go through to grow

chorus:
In my mind I'll always be his lady.
In my mind I'll always be his girl.
(I don't care what nobody else says)
Only time will tell if I'm his lady.
But in my mind i'll always be his girl.
I'll always feel this way about you.
I'll always be your lady!
In my heart,in my mind
In my heart,in my mind
In my soul,in my mind
baby you should know
you're in my thoughts,in my mind
you're in my prayers,in my mind
I'll always in my mind keep you there.in my mind

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Title-less. (is that a word?)

So I'm attending an office function tonite. Some guy here got promoted President of our European operations and his department is throwing a cocktail party in his honor at some swanky private social club. No dinner, just hors d'oeuvres. (i spelled that from memory; i hope its correct). Well as any broke mofo will tell you, one can most certainly get full off of hors d'oeuvres if you eat enough of them.

*aside: how does one get intelligent enough to spell hors d'oeuvres but is still broke enough to look forward to dining on them?*

the only thing i dread about these kinds of events is the small talk. I mean you're not at work, but you're still with co-workers so you can't exactly be yourself but you can be the slightly-more-relaxed and funny version of yourself, if you've got one. some people don't. I have one.

and in closing, my favorite word right now is schadenfreude. I love it when writers use it but, sadly, i haven't yet been able to work it into a conversation. I will tho. and when i do, i will tingle inside.

Monday, July 17, 2006

World War III

I remember being a kid growing up during the Cold War era. In middle school, we were shown a film called The Day After (to our collective horror). Some of the images in that film are still burned into my mind to this day. According to the film, World War III would come in the form of various nuclear-powered countries obliterating the hell out of America and each other. I remember after seeing the film, everyone in the school was familiarized with our local bomb shelters and the cool kids had basements with jars of peaches lining the walls. I guess i missed the memo where home-canned peaches were the key to surviving thermonuclear war.

Over the next 20 or so years, various nuclear disarmament treaties have eased collective minds as to the dwindling possibilities of World War III. But that's only because we were thinking of World War III in narrow terms. We viewed it as countries officially declaring war on one another and fighter bombs and warships engaging on all sides.

What we did not and probably could not have anticipated is happening now. Radical and individual extremist groups waging their own personal wars on countries with bombs in rucksacks and timers in #2 pencils and cellphones. They don't need government support. They use the internet to claim their crimes and disseminate their propaganda.

that reminds me of a quote by Einstein...i'm paraphrasing but the jist is that technology has advanced at a much faster pace than the human race itself has evolved. It's gotten ahead of us. Our common sense and self-preservation is lagging behind. And people just like me who live in Israel and Lebanon and Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan and India..regular folks who are just trying to make a living and see a concert, and catch the train to school and find a good ice cream cone and get to the doctor's office...we/they pay with life. It is not lost on me how lucky i am to not be faced with uncharted bombs raining down on my home and office. I sleep in peace. i feel a mixture of relief and guilt about that...

But back to the issue at hand...mainly government and media denial. I can't stand it when i see Condi et al saying that Iraq is 'on the brink of civil war'. No. they are IN one. But it seems to publicly declare it so would force someone in the U.S. government to say that we've caused it. and of course no one wants to do that. Now Israel and Hezbollah. the dominos keep falling. The Taliban and Al Qaeda keep getting stronger. Some speculate that we are heading 'towards World War III'. No. We are in it. And i'm terrified.

I envy the innocence of my children. They only worry about school and swimming, and what's for dessert. They concern themselves with the release dates of their favorite films and the theme songs of their favorite cartoons. Pumpkin likes to watch Wheel of Fortune. Munchkin prefers Millionaire. I wish i could go back in time and be that oblivious. What good does all this awareness do when there's nothing i can do to help anyone who is suffering?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

This Is How It Should Be Done..

This is how I write:

As I walked up to the lecture hall, I checked my syllabus to make sure i was in the right place. Intro to Black Studies, Room 415 Hamilton Hall, 4:45 pm. Yup. I'm good. I'd heard that the professor was Umamu Shaheed Alam. He's a dark-skinned, overweight man who tends to always be found in tailored suits, loafers and designer eyewear. I guess professors are more well-paid than I thought...

In the front row, I noticed Andre sitting next to a pretty black girl in a headwrap. Probably one of those super-studious types as she seemed to ignore whatever flirting he thought he was trying to do. As the hall was filling up, Professor Alam arrived and awkwardly shuffled his way towards the podium. He tapped the mic twice to get our attention.


This is how Adam Mansbach writes: (in Angry Black White Boy)

Intro to Black Studies, Room 415 Hamilton Hall, 4:45 pm, Associate Professor of American Studies Umamu Shaheed Alam presiding: three hundred plus two dime-sacks of esteemed chocolate-brown scholarship poured into an expertly tailored girth-streamlining double breasted olive suit, accented with Armani eyewear and compromised by rubber-soled load-bearing loafers.

In the front row of the cavernous slant-seated lecture hall, Andre slouched next to a light skinned honey in a headwrap. She'd smiled back at him, then unsnapped a leatherbound notepad and crossed her legs, pen poised, preparing to look busy instead of sideways until class started. The hall was full when Professor Alam entered, swinging his legs around his belly in an
overweight pimp-shuffle. He strode directly to the podium and tapped the mic twice with a sausage forefinger, silencing the room.


It's all in the descriptions, the detail. The ability to paint a picture so vividly. sausage forefinger. overweight pimp-shuffle. load-bearing loafers. wow. It's taking me a long time to read this book cuz i read paragraphs like that over and over while shaking my head. That's the kind of writer i'd want to be if i was going to seriously pursue it. I guess any good writer knows how to do that well. Isn't that what they teach you in college? I mean i've never been to any kind of writing workshop or course but i'd imagine that they give you some bland paragraph and ask you to bring it to life. Or give you assignments on describing simple things like air and water etc. I don't know. Maybe one day i'll join a workshop and find out.

One day. yeah. that day will be right after the day I finish writing all the scripts i have in my head. Or the day after I learn to play the guitar I got for Christmas 4 years ago. Or maybe the day after I buy that franchise. But wait, that is supposed to come the day after I start a non-profit organization for underpriveleged teen girls. Yeah but first, i gotta record my debut album. Which is the day before go back to school to finish my degrees. Which should fall about 6 or 7 days after i've gone back to dance class.

I suffer from the Cosby Closet Syndrome. You open the door and out tumbles all the things I've started and never finished. Vanessa and Theo ain't got nothin' on me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thirty-Five.

this is an audio post - click to play


On July 1, I turned thirty-five years old. In this audiopost, I talk a little about how i feel about that and also provide a guide to the photos below. After listening to it again myself, I think my voice sounds a bit dead but that's only because i was sad while i was talking..













Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Bornday, mami.


Happy making it this far. Happy taking it this far. It often seems that birthday wishes are enthused in the selfish spirit of making up for lost time, lost praise, or lost love. But this isn't the case here, both compliment and sentiment are genuinely felt like evergreens, fall thru freeze, springbloom thru summerjam.
I hope your special day was a reflection of you, and that it segues seamlessly into an entire decade (let's shoot high, yo) of spectacular specialness.
Enjoy, and try to blow out the candles before you eat (*no theo*).

Friday, June 30, 2006

Break.

I won't be writing here for a while. But I'll be back.

Break.

Herbie and Friends



I'm having a hard time even knowing where to start with this post. No superlative exists in the English language that can accurately describe what i witnessed at Carnegie Hall on Friday night. I can only say that my soul has been opened. I heard music that night in a way i'd never heard it before. For the first time in my life, I *got* it. And here i was thinking I've been a music lover all this time...I was a fraud. NOW I am a music lover. For i had not truly *heard* music before that so therefore i could not have known what it was i professed to love.


For those who may not know what the hell i'm talking about, I went to see Herbie Hancock and Friends at the JVC Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall in NYC, which is definitely the perfect venue for such beautiful music.





Lili Haydn on violin. Matt Garrison on bass. Richie Barshay on drums. Marcus Miller on electric bass.

Piano duet w/Herbie Hancock and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. It was a dance, a chase and a duel...all at once...each piece they performed was a meticulously built sandcastle...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

525,600 Minutes


How do you measure a year? I know a group of young people who would say that a year is almost a lifetime. That all those minutes add up to some of the most rewarding and challenging experiences they've ever had.

I attended the graduation ceremony for NY 's City Year Corps. It was on the grounds of Gracie Mansion on the East Side of Manhattan. As you'll see from the photos, it looks like we stepped off the gritty NY streets into the Hamptons.

It was a beautiful ceremony...fun, funny and touching. The most poignant moment was when they gave an Idealist of the Year award to this man who helps train and guide all of the City Year members. Well instead of giving a thank you speech to the crowd, he brought his two young children up on stage. One boy and one girl. They looked about 8 and 4 years old, respectively. He turned to them and thanked them for supporting his work with City Year...for being understanding when he came home late at night and was too tired to play. Or when he had to be gone some weekends when they had sports games. He told them that City Year Corps were his heroes and how they help kids who don't go to nice (read:rich) schools like they do. He told his children that he wanted them to be just like the City Year kids when they grew up. The way his children looked up at him and hung on his every word and nodded in the appropriate places was so beautiful. And the way he sincerely spoke to them about why volunteer work is so important...i mean it was way better than any speech could have been.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My TV Must Be Broke Cuz It Just Turned Purple.

Cuz i'm looking at Prince playin' guitar and singing backup for India Arie as Stevie Wonder plays on his keyboard and Kanye West takin' pictures with his camera from the audience like a lil kid.

Nah. that just can't be. I gotta get this TV fixed.

ok now Prince and Chaka singing together on I Feel For You and Stevie was playing the harmonica. I'm in shock. This just isn't happening.

I shouldn't have had that red wine...yes. that's gotta be it. I'm drunk.

But wait, i didn't have any wine. Wow, i must be so drunk that i don't remember drinking.

I'm just staring at the TV stock still with my eyes wide. I can't even yell or shout...i'm not moving...just wow.

And Again, I Am Inspired

What makes a hero? That answer is different for every person you ask. Some will cite their local sports figure as their hero. Others will name policemen or firemen. Others will name entertainers. Someone else may talk about our serviceman and military personnel. But me? My heroes are philanthropists. And not just rich ones; pretty much anyone who dedicates a large portion of their time and resources to help those less fortunate than they are. Reading this wonderful article in the New York Times today has made my heart swell with so much admiration for these two men and everyone like them. Here's an excerpt:

The friendship between Warren E. Buffett and Bill Gates has been forged over a shared passion for such homespun American treats as cherry Coke, burgers and college football. They delight as well in loftier pursuits, like playing bridge and solving complex math problems.

But, more than anything, what Mr. Buffett's $31 billion gift to the foundation that Mr. Gates runs with his wife, Melinda, shows is a common disdain for inherited wealth and a shared view that the capitalist system that has enriched them so handsomely is not capable alone of addressing the root causes of poverty.

"A market system has not worked in terms of poor people," Mr. Buffett said yesterday, in an interview taped earlier in the day for "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS.

As for any thought he might have had in giving the bulk of his billions to his three children, Mr. Buffett was characteristically blunt. "I don't believe in dynastic wealth," he said, calling those who grow up in wealthy circumstances "members of the lucky sperm club."

I've always shared that sentiment, sometimes eliciting a mountain of scorn from others. If I build a fortune in my lifetime, the bulk of it would go to help humankind and not my own children. They would not inherit millions of dollars upon my death. It is up to them to work hard and build their own fortune. They will become much stronger and competent people that way. That's not to say that i wouldn't leave a small amount to them but it would be under certain conditions. Like if they were trying to complete an advanced degree or if they wanted to start a non-profit organization..things like that. But not just do-whatever-you-want-and-not-work money. I will not breed any Paris Hiltons.

Some have said to me, "why would you not want your children to have an easier life than you?" Because it's my belief that easier is not better. Easier is worse. It fosters complacency and a lack of fortitude. Struggle builds character and inspires creativity. So my greatest wish for my 2 sons is that they have great struggles and obstacles in life. Hell, they were born Black in America so they already do.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Today Might Be A Good Day

I'm having a hard time getting excited about it though..

This afternoon I get to leave work early and go the City Year graduation ceremony at Gracie Mansion. Then later on, I will be going to Carnegie Hall to see Herbie Hancock and Friends at the JVC Jazz Festival. I'm all dressed up with someplace to go.

Maybe i'll get excited later. I'm gonna try to take lots of pictures.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nikki, I Take It All Back

I *Am* Lonely.

Yes I know
that's what you were
really saying
and you were
just trying
to be a big girl

I do that too sometimes
We big tho
Mostly on the outside
Maybe we just small inside

No Jingo.

USA vs Ghana is on, as we all know.

I'm American but i'm routing for Ghana. Why? Because i'm Black. And they are the only African team left in the running for this year's World Cup. And i would love to see the Africans win.

So i was just sitting at my desk watching MatchCast deliver the play-by-play and Ghana scored a goal. I accidently exclaimed out loud and my white co-worker asked what was wrong. I told her Ghana scored a goal. She says:

"You're rooting for Ghana?"

Me: Yes

Her (incredulously): Why????

Me: Long story

But i was thinking, "Isn't it obvious?" It amazes me that she can't comprehend how a Black person watching a sporting event where one team is majority white and the other is dark wouldn't root for the Black team. And i'm at work and didn't feel like explaining it to her.

And to even put race aside for a minute: the United States damn near runs the world. They/we have everything and run around taking whatever they/we don't have. I want the 'little guys' to win sometimes. I want the people of Ghana to enjoy that they have beat the big bad US at something...that they have stolen a dream from us for once. To me, it's only fair and just. I don't want the US to ever win a World Cup. So many people here have such little regard for the game of football that we just don't deserve to be playing on a world stage, in my opinion.

Hey Ghana, enjoy your half-day today!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday Night Fun

Celebrity Real Names:

Alan Alda -- Alphonso d'Abruzzo

Woody Allen -- Allen Stewart Konigsberg

Lauren Bacall -- Betty Joan Perske

Pat Benatar -- Patricia Andrzejewski

Robert Blake -- Michael Gubitosi

David Bowie -- David Robert Hayward-Jones

Diahann Carroll -- Carol Diahann Johnson

Chubby Checker -- Ernest Evans

Chick Corea -- Armando Anthony Corea

Sheena Easton -- Sheena Shirley Orr

Redd Foxx -- John Elroy Sanford

Robert Guillaume -- Robert Peter Williams

Billie Holiday -- Eleanora Fagan

Ben Kingsley -- Krishna Bhanji

I could go on and on....i love that kinda stuff. I can just hear all the Hollywood agents on some "uh...that name just isn't gonna work in this town. It's too plain/too ethnic. We're gonna have to find something else to call you"

Does that still go on? Are modern day celebs still changing their names? I mean i do know that Alicia's last name isn't Keyes but there definitely weren't very many under 35 celebs in that almanac.

I guess agents feel we live in a more tolerant (i hate that word) society nowadays. That Americans (or more importantly, casting directors) will accept an actor named La Donna Andrea Gaines and not expect her to change her name to Donna Summer.


Netflix is annoying me.

Generally, I love Netflix. Its been a very reliable service for me and its very easy to use. But there's just one quirk that is annoying the hell outta me.

I've just discovered HBO's The Wire--arguably the most quality television drama ever made--and i've recently completed season 1. Disc 1 of Season 2 is first in my queue, with all the other Season 2 discs following it. Next to the listing, it says that the disc is "available now". Excellent.

But.

When it comes time for me to receive that disc, I get Chinatown instead. Another excellent film that i've been looking forward to watching but not NOW! I'm in quality-television-drama mode; not quality-classic-movie mode. My brain can only process all things Barksdale, Stringer, McNulty and Daniels. I'm not ready for anything else.

So now i'm stuck. My internal wiring (pun strongly intended) will not allow me to return a Netflix film unwatched. I just can't. There's just something unethical and morally wrong about that.

I've called Netflix about this problem before. I asked why can't they just list things as "short wait" like they normally do when it's not available now? So at least i know not be expecting it. Some customer service boy whose dad forced him to work at Netflix hoping to get free rentals replies, "well sometimes copies ship at the last minute and we think it's available for you but it turns out to not be so we ship you the next available film on your queue. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Whatever.

So i guess it's Chinatown tonite. *sigh*

Monday, June 19, 2006

All In A Day's Work


I had the immense pleasure of participating in a Service Day with City Year. It's an incredible organization that enables 17 to 24 year olds to spend a year doing transformative service projects around the city. They are often assigned in small groups to a particular school or community center and do the majority of their service working with a group of children.

On Saturday June 17, the public was invited to volunteer and spend a day of service with City Year. We all assembled on the campus of Columbia University at 9am to receive our assignment for the day. I brought my 2 sons along so that they could start to understand the importance of volunteer work.


We were about 1600 strong. The majority were City Year corps members, the rest, regular volunteers. We heard some speeches, did a little PE, and then were deployed to our site for the day. My company sponsors the Hunts Point, Bronx corps members so that's where me and my group were sent.



Hunts Point Recreation Center is a really beautiful building but just in slight disrepair. So City Year keeps it spruced up. We painted murals, planted grass out front, repainted fences, drew new hopscotch grids on the pavement...it was amazing. The green and white mural on top of this post was my creation. I mean i only had to paint it...i didn't do the sketch. But it was still very challenging. Me and the kids painted the background white first since the canvases were a little dirty. Then we did the green on top after it dried. The whole thing took us about 5 hours...

The best thing about City Year is the young people. On the ride to and from the service day, i talked with some of them...i was amazed at how intelligent, socially aware, and focused these kids were. They were inspiring to me and definitely gave me hope for the future generations.

My kids really enjoyed the service day and want to do it again. It would make me so proud if they also joined City Year one day.