Friday, June 30, 2006
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
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
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.
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
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
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?"
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!
tags: Ghana, World Cup, race, sports
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
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.
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.
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."
So i guess it's Chinatown tonite. *sigh*
Monday, June 19, 2006
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.
Friday, June 16, 2006
by Nikki Giovanni
i’m not lonely
sleeping all alone
you think i’m scared
but i’m a big girl
i don’t cry
i have a great
to roll around
in and lots of space
and i don’t dream
like i used
to have that you
were leaving me
now that you’re gone
i don’t dream
and no matter
what you think
i’m not lonely
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I've been on this mission for a while...not only consciously; it just comes natural to me to be kind and generous to people. And it often deeply saddens me how few people share in that.
I was on the PATH train this morning and it was standing-room-only. I found an empty corner, adopted my stance and settled into my book. At the first stop, a heavy woman with a cane gets on and labours her way to a pole to hold onto. She's in plain view of everyone that is sitting down and i thought for sure, that someone would offer her a seat. But the SCDBD kicked in. (Sudden Commuter Deafness and Blindness Disorder) It's a debilitating disease that is often trigger by the boarding of pregnant and disabled passengers. The affected almost immediately fall asleep or become completely absorbed in the latest supermarket novel/tabloid.
I closed my book and prepared to make my move. The train sped off toward the next stop and i observed the woman struggle to maintain her simulataneous grip on the pole and her cane. At the next stop, when the train was safely halted, i calmly walked over to the afflicted/seated passengers and said:
"Excuse me, everyone. Would anyone mind giving their seat to this woman? She has a cane and i'm sure that its difficult to stand for long periods of time."
There were a few moments of hesitation as they all quickly glanced at each other to see who would get up first. Finally one really slim man made his move and grudgingly gave his seat while no one else budged. The woman thanked me profusely. I just said 'no problem' and walked away to find another place to stand...
I swear, if i didn't love people so much, i'd hate they inconsiderate asses. But it's cool. It's my mission and i've chosen to accept it.
*Dons dark sunglasses*
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
"Early last week, Ludacris, while promoting the basketball documentary "Heart of the Game," said that despite the rumors, he is not calling for a boycott of Winfrey's show. He said he would go back on the program if it were filmed live. He also said Oprah should invite a gaggle of MCs on at one time to have an intelligent discussion about hip-hop"
Delusions of grandeur anyone? First of all, Ludracis couldn't call a boycott on Oprah. Like who does he think he is? That's beyond laughable. Secondly, why would she even want him back? And lastly, any MCs that Ludacris would suggest be involved in this so-called "intelligent discussion about hip-hop" would probably fail miserably at the task. Cuz then they'd be forced to answer for why the hip-hop they personally produce ain't remotely intelligent.
ok wait. Did he actually use the word 'gaggle'? I highly HIGHLY doubt it. Not saying that he couldn't but that just don't sound like a word he would say. In fact, if i ever met him, i'd ask him to say it out loud just for kicks..
I sometimes struggle with why i write here and what i had hoped to accomplish. I guess i initially had hoped for interaction and discussion with people via my comments section, like i see on other blogs but that has turned out to be more difficult than i had anticipated. I don't advertise my blog on the web (and i don't really think i want to, per se), none of my friends read it (or if they do, they don't comment) and most people who stumble upon it don't stay.
There could be many reasons for those reasons. One, my content is not often that interesting or compelling to most people. I'm fine with that. I write for me and maybe too much about me. I think alot of people want more witty commentary on celebrity gossip and news. Or it could be just that the blog is not focused enough. It's too all over the place..it's not just about politics or just about race, or just about social issues. It's not *just* about anything. Maybe it's about what goes on in my head (which changes alot) so ultimately that's only gonna be interesting to me.
So then that settles it. Since i really have no audience, i can just not think so much about what to write or how to write it. I'll just let things flow when the mood suits me.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Ain't that the truth.
That explains why so many people attempt to escape it. Whether through entertainment, books, vacations, drugs, sex or whatever the means...sometimes, and finally, even suicide.
At this point in my life, i'm more aware of current events and the ills of society and the world than i've ever been. Optimism has always been my salvation. I've always needed to believe that things would be better (in my own life and in the larger world) because to face the opposite is too much. I've often wondered how pessismists even stay sane. As reality tightens its grip on me, i'm beginning to see just how brown and brittle the grass is on the other side.
Monday, June 05, 2006
A woman hurries onto a subway car and slices between two well-dressed businessmen in order to get to a seat before the doors close. She fidgets with her bags, looks at her arm then asks one of the men, "Do you have the time?"
Man 1: It's about 5:10.
Woman (matter-of-factly): It can't be "about".
Man 2 (quickly): It's 5:17pm.
Woman: Thank you.
Like, wow. I sat there stunned. And by the looks on the mens' faces, they had no idea what just hit them either.
That moment gave me an Assertiveness Wake-Up Call for I'm quite sure that I, as well as most other women, would have accepted the first man's response (and thanked him for it!). I would have preferred the second man's response but would not have dared demand it. Is it because they are men? Is it because they were businessmen? As i think on those two questions, i'd answer no to both. I think it's simply a matter of women not being taught to be assertive like that. I'd have accepted that response from anyone.
A couple weeks ago, I attended a seminar and one of the subjects was How To Be Assertive Without Being Pushy. The speaker (a female) talked at length about the differences in the way men and women communicate in positions of power. We found that women are more likely to passively ask for things that should be demanded (i.e. "When you get a minute, would you mind printing that cost report for me?" as opposed to "Please print the cost report before the end of the day") Of course, i'm generalizing and not all women are shrinking violets...at least not as adults. And i can't help but wonder how the assertive ones got that way. Were they taught as young girls or was it learned life experience?
For me, i'm assertive in situations that seem to clearly call for it. But it's definitely not knee-jerk. Its something i have to consciously remind myself of. On some "ok if you really want this or if you don't like this you must speak up or else". And the only reason why is because i've had situations where i've missed out on opportunities or was taken advantage of because i kept quiet or didn't ask the right questions or didn't make myself visible enough, etc.
I'm sure there are many men who are not assertive as well...maybe it's just not as noticeable because men seem to garner a certain amount of respect and attention just from being male. But yeah, ladies. We need to step our game up. Cuz as you can see, sometimes all it takes is a few well-placed words and a confident attitude.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
For real. Honestly. Like it's even available for advance purchase on Amazon. I'm still in shock as I type this....here's an excerpt:
"The Lord is all that, I need for nothing. He allows me to chill. He keeps me from being heated and allows me to breathe easy. He guides my life so that I can represent and give shouts out in his Name. And even though I walk through the Hood of death, I don't back down for you have my back. The fact that you have me covered allows me to chill. He provides me with back-up in front of my player-haters and I know that I am a baller and life will be phat. I fall back in the Lord's crib for the rest of my life."
Honestly, my first thought was: I wonder if 'the Lord's crib' also has a pool table, a piano that no one knows how to play, a poster of Scarface and a flat screen TV with surround sound?
Oh and i forgot to mention that the cover is in imitation leather. yeah.
As a hip-hop head from the 80s and as a former b-girl, i'm embarrassed. I mean i'm all for trying to reach the youngins...for trying to keep their heads on straight and give them some direction in life. But this just seems a little short-sighted. Besides the fact that slang changes so frequently, it just seems to be trying a bit too hard. I mean was there a Pothead Hippie Prayer Book filled with 'dude', 'groovy' and references to weed culture? Were they promised to be able to 'light a fat one' in 'the Lord's pad'?
My issues with the Bible et. al. aside, i don't think kids should be pandered to in this way. They should be encouraged to rise to the challenge of personal accountability, responsibility and impending adulthood, yes, but not by stooping to their level. That's just backwards.
Eric John agrees with me, although i don't agree with his indictment of hip hop culture as a whole. Uh, yes. It is a real culture. Don't get me started....
tags: hip hop, prayer