13 December 2006

Getting it Together

DO IT!!!!

Write like your life depends on it


Soft like an easy chair-
my ass.
It's just the mood I’m in right now, I guess.
I don't write about love-
don't want to write about it because it makes
me feel like a romantic fool.
There's no room for romantic notions
in a hyper technologized world of IM.
The time to develop the intensity of feelings
and bonds of trust have become truncated into
smiley faces and empty and
quick "I love you emails" and text messages.
I say it so much that the feelings I used to have
when I felt it is gone.
The heat and swelling in my chest.
The flush of my cheeks.
My hands going numb.
Ears throbbing and mind made blank by an emotion
so intensely overwhelming there was, as
the alcoholics would say, the magnificence of God.
But I say it back to everybody that says it to me and
when I think about how much I don’t mean it-
it only adds to the emptiness I feel
about my everyday existence.
When I don’t think about it but feel how empty it is
All I want to do is drink.
Booze is no muse though.
It only magnifies the desperation of being surrounded by
I love you’s" and not feeling loved.
It does, however, temporarily hide the fact that all of
this means nothing.
Nihilism is on short order after a bottle or two of montepulciano.
And whisky knocks it down that much better.
So love-
I’m writing about love and it’s new status as an apparition.
A ghost of what was and what everybody hopes to attain
Without knowing its true nature.
With no experience base of its highs and lows.
Because sans this understanding of the heart and mind
that relegated it to the dream realm,
the nether regions,
we all believe in reality TV’s version of love.
And that’s some real bullshit.

18 September 2006

Traveling while black

Okay, so I'm in Tulum, Mexico. Tons of Italians (apparently August is their month off) and my friend Simone says Argentians. She's deduced this from all the staring. And I don't mean a curious look of not expecting a person of color (who's not Mexican and in service of some manner). I mean a fork in the air- mouth open-full minute stare upon entering a room. Sitting at a table of compatriots and everyone at the table fully turning around and staring boldly even after the party of color- namely my friends and I- are seated and going about ordering cervezas. Sunni says it's because I'm beautiful that the children stare (thanks honey, right back at you). I buy that but what explains the adults? There are few cultures left on the planet in which this degree of staring without speaking is acceptable and many more where it's downright rude. When I give my friendly "Hola" there's no response. Of course, they're mainly Europeans and I must admit I don't expect many human courtesies from them- sorry. But the staring must stop.

On the other hand, I must say that during this trip I've never been so happy to see black people in my life. Remember, I'm from segregated Chicago and honestly believe that there are black people everywhere. Or, at least, we've been there. The people I know have been all over the globe so I don't believe I'm like James Baldwin when he went to Sweden. But, maybe I am. Dude. My people. We've got to travel more. It's fucking cheap down here. and a black person told me about it. Only here it's clothing optional (as I believe the entire beach is here in the Mayan Riviera) and I'm constantly aware of the historical context of my naked body (naked HOT! body). The reality of the skinny women in bikinis give me visions of Aushwitz. It's very disconcerting. I do love that the Spanish and Italians have some meat on their bones. The Americans are crazy skinny or crazy fat.

But being black gives me the feeling of unwanted novelty. I'm obvious everywhere and everyone remembers me. It was easier to think about when my friends were here. But today as my first full day alone, we'll see. I don't want to go to the pounding techno music party in Playa but to one closer to home at Mezzanine down the beach. I was there last week con mi amigos. Lets see what happens when I go alone, dancing and a little drunk hopefully. We'll see what the interest is then.

16 September 2006


So reinvention is heavy on my mind again. When I think about Chicago, I know I can do it. Go back more traveled, less known and so some society. But not like the Links, something entirely new with the same kind of social mores. I do think this is somehow part of my deal. I have had a dream of society, but I need to define what it is. I want to create my own with it's own rules, but only exclusionary to a point of behavior and belief. (Oh no Charity. That's not megalomaniacal at all. Everyone wants to recreate society.) Since ghetto is the rule rather than the exception it must be the point of departure for rule creation. So we have to define what ghetto is in order to destroy it and see what we shan't be. But I'm actually more interested in value systems than behaviors. Values define our behaviors. So what do I want to propagate?

yeah, yeah- i know

It's been like a month of Sundays, but I forgot my password in Mexico. I actually forgot all of my passwords in Mexico, sue me. I'm 32 now and gonna forget a lot more. Here's what I wrote while away... Enjoy

23 July 2006

In Speech to N.A.A.C.P., Bush Offers Reconciliation - New York Times

In Speech to N.A.A.C.P., Bush Offers Reconciliation - New York Times

Ha-What? Do I still live in the 21st Century? This is an age when I can sit here all day, playing in my computer and come up with all kinds of information. Now I understand that this guy is theoretically "running the country" but we all know the truth about that one. Did he really just defer to Karl Rove like that? No... that couldn't be so.
So let me get this straight:
I am supposed to believe that the "extension" of a law that protects my rights as an American citizen is bridge building?
Wait a minute... what would have happened had it not been extended? Would I have to recite the capital of all 50 states to be able to vote? Would my voting rights be revoked? Why do we still have this anyway... It's not about registering to vote it's about motivating people into believing their vote counts and that their voices will be heard. People don't get bopped over the head anymore to register. They're just hard pressed to go on a Tuesday morning to vote for someone that's not going to do anything to change their lives in any tangible way.
This is all some bullshit. More bullshit to get black people's heads away from the fact that more hell is being raised in the middle east and more black people are going to die because of it. If we don't get our heads out of the past, our actions out of the past the future is going to eat us alive. I thank God everyday that I don't have to suffer the inhumanities my parents did. They worked hard to make sure I, not only, didn't know that kind of hatred but also had a healthy love for justice and the truth. Only they couldn't train me for this new form of racist/ classist insidiousness. I might not be called a nigger (that often) but people certainly attempt to treat me like one. Like our current administration. That guy, GW, is so busy blaming history for his ignorance and lack of concern for a group of HUMAN BEINGS... I don't know why I'm allowing that to make me angry. He does it all over the planet to anyone who's not part of his clique. Oh, but I remember why I'm allowing it to upset me: CAUSE I DO VOTE. I'm from Chicago and I vote early and often and it still didn't work.
I have to think more on this and see what else I'm supposed to be paying attention to while this is being waved beneath our noses. I bet they're gonna pull OJ out of a hat soon... They tried a little Michael Jackson business, but it didn't move us past Lebanon.

06 June 2006

The anti-no fear

My mantra of "no fear" keeps me afraid. As long as I'm waiting for the moment to be fearless, I'm ignoring the present. I can live outside of social conventions and fear. I have to move past the superficiality of success and action that I perceive from others and create my own momentum. The springtime of my discontent is over. It's time to move. And instead of recklessness based on fear- stemming from fear- I'm going to turn it into a recklessness of confidence and boldness. I can't be afraid of motion. I will not allow cigs and booze to be an excuse for not moving and succeeding. By the end of the year I will be a well paid published writer fully engaged in the process of my work and enjoying the writing because I'm not afraid of it. Trusting it and myself. Trusting being prolific. I think I can be. I know I must be. Be about the business of it. I have to remove the "shoulda/ gonna" fakeness of it. Being engaged, not having a choice. And getting money. A lot of money for it without losing myself or my love. All of this spiritual work is the build up to this. I must be engaged in my life. Not researching it. Not asking other people about it. Being really terrified about it and doing it anyway.

19 May 2006

Feeling Better

I decided I'd feel much better about myself today if I'd posted to my blog before I went to my swim class. My Thursday and Friday swim classes with the women I most affectionately call "my old ladies" are the only real moments of structure in my life.
I love them because they inspire me. They show up weekly, as their schedules permit, and I love that they have these busy lives even though they could just sit around being grandmas. They've taught me just how skin deep beauty really is. That our inperfections (remember we're in bathing suits) are as beautiful, natural and human as what we might laughingly refer to as our perfections. They remind me of my grandmas. Only since I don't officially belong to them, I get a degree of candor about their lives that my grandmas would never reveal to me. Our naked steamroom talks are like fellowship meetings among women who've lived (and live) active productive lives. Their reassurance of me finding what I'm looking for in this life is comforting because I can trust their collective "don't worry about that sweetie, you have plenty of time". They have collectively been all over the world and still travel every summer. They give me recipes and tell me about the special days and activities they still share with their girlfriends. They tell me about meeting their husbands and their grandchildren's triumphs and problems. Most importantly to me, they see me as one of their own. But as a young woman with infinite possibilities who is taking advantage of life. They know my money woes are temporary although I feel like it's the end of the world sometimes. Coupled with my own experience, I know it's not the end of the world. They also want me to buy property. To go to jazz clubs to find a boyfriend- a jazz musician preferably (but been there- done that). To continue to travel and be free. I just love them. And now I'm on my way to go work off this ass of mine in the second of the 2 intense aqua-aerobic workouts of the week. I'm still taking aspirin from yesterdays. And they move. I'm sweating in the pool. But I know if they can do it, I can too. When I began going about a year and a half ago, I was gonna chicken out. I hadn't been in a pool outside of vacation splashings for years. That's when Miss Ruth said "well you're here now, go put your toe in the water. If you don't like it- take a nice steam." A year and a half later, that's what I know tell myself about everything I get scared about.
It also doesn't hurt that comparatively I look like, to quote Miss Victoria "a Playboy Bunny". Nice.

16 May 2006

Dying to Get Rich

In 1971, Melvin Van Peebles produced, directed, edited, and starred in Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which has now been dubbed the first “blaxploitaion” film. The films of the decade that followed used the commercial success of this film showing a Black man against the system and diluted the revolutionary-ness of the image to cater to white mass-market sensibilities. It’s this marketing and the re-appropriation of the caricature to a commercially viable creation that concerns me. As long as rappers can espouse “thug life” as cool and make lots of money from it- for themselves and more for their white owned record companies- this stereotype retains it’s power to terrorize white America while creating dangerous situations for Black men at large. The phenomenon of racial profiling is hinged on this caricature.
In Sweetback the movie’s stars were the Black community. In later movies, such as New Jack City (directed by Melvin’s son Mario Van Pebbles) the idea of community is used only to create a market for its own destruction. I use New Jack City as an example because it shows the generation of children born in the blaxploitation era and raised in the Reaganomics era of excess. Given the rise of drugs and violence in everyday urban life and the image of whites living “Dynasty” lives on TV, these children (now teenagers and adults) see money as the great equalizer. But the pursuit of material comforts demand an individualist capitalist modus operandi that is destroying the Black community and making Black men moving targets while commodifying Black women. In New Jack City, while they gave away turkeys to the community at Thanksgiving the “Cash Money Brothers” were in the process of turning a low-income apartment building into an all-inclusive crack haven. Therefore their seemingly generous gesture was really just a marketing scheme to win the trust of the community they were about to decimate and murder for profit.
Now with the popularity of everything hip-hop, what began as protest and revolution in lyrical and musical style, the line between commercialism and revolution has been smashed. Hip hop/ rap is used to sell everything from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Chevy cars. Hip-hop as a culture has, beginning in the mid ‘90’s become about “money, hoes, and clothes- all a nigga knows” (Notorious B.I.G. “Juicy”). The line between fiction and reality in hip-hop has blurred and the drug dealers become rappers Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Doggy Dog, Fat Joe, Jay-Z, Master P. are just a few of the more popular (and lucrative) examples. The violence needed to become a successful drug dealer bled into the reality of being successful rappers. Even rappers who had more middle class upbringings, like Tupac, fed into the brute stereotype because it sold albums. The “badass” moved from being an agent for revolution to a puppet for capitalism. Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac paid for their roles with their young lives.
The flip side of this image is the searing of it in the minds of white America. The brute image was created to instill fear of free Blacks into the minds of the post Civil War white consciousness, particularly white women. The conglomeration of the sexually indiscriminate and uncontrollable Black buck with the violent animalistic Black brute is what can be seen today most in media images. D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation was the visual marriage of the two images locking the Black man’s sexuality with violence leaving the brute image as a predominate staple of American popular culture. In the “Law and Order” clip I showed in class the perception of the threat of rape, whether real or imagined, got a man killed. The perception of violence got Amadou Diallo massacred. Emmett Till was murdered for allegedly looking (sometimes the story is whistling) at a white woman in Mississippi in the 1950’s. It’s a commonly held perception that Black men are dangerous and they are being sold as such. From the Supreme Court to Brentwood, even outside of the hip-hop community Black men are dangerous.
But are they? I think so. I think so not because of the threat of physical violence but as a Black woman who is acutely aware of the psychic violence that is currently breaking down the Black community and communal ties. I’m aware of being called a bitch or a ho or being perceived as a gold digger or being bought for the price of a dinner. The media doesn’t tell me that’s how I’m treated, experience does. The rapper Nas released a song “You Owe Me”; he tells a young lady that she owes him her body because he’s bought her things. Female rappers aren’t blameless either; they perpetuate the wonton sexuality slave masters used as an excuse for their rapes of female slaves. Yet my concern is with the Black men, because it’s costing them their lives.
Sweetback was necessary viewing for the Black Panther Party because a Black character standing up for himself and rebuking a comfortable life as a nonentity was unprecedented. He used his sex to get himself out of trouble and even his sexual encounters were communal activities. He moved from being controlled by it to controlling it and using it as power. There are still flaws in that schematic, but he’s not a victim. Nino Brown killed his “brother” G-Money in New Jack City over what came down to his capitalistic individualism at the expense of the Cash Money Brothers (his created community), but still in the midst of that, a woman he “took” from G-Money. The notion of being “your brother’s keeper” keeps literally getting shot to bits and forget about being “your sister’s keeper”. There is no responsibility taken by these men (and women) for their actions. Yes- as an artist one should have the right to express themselves however they see fit. But it’s the proliferation of this one image for more than a century that is obviously gotten into our psyches as well. The saddest part is that as evidenced in the Fat Joe and R. Kelly video “We Thuggin’” simply being Black and Latino means thug… because they’re singing, dancing, talking about what they have and ogling women. That’s not thuggin’ not by Nino Brown’s standards. The contemporary rappers with their “ghetto fabulous thug” mentality now equate sex with money with power and it’s destroying the community- by my estimation.

12 Things The Negro Must Do For Himself

Ask Yourself: Are We Living The Dream?

If The Negro Would Try

"The Negro race has never tried to do very much for itself. The race has great possibilities. Properly awakened, the Negro can do the so-called impossible."

Carter G. Woodson

12 Things The Negro Must Do For Himself by Nannie Helen Burroughs
(Circa Early 1900's)

1. The Negro Must Learn To Put First Things First. The First Things Are: Education; Development of Character Traits; A Trade and Home Ownership.


The Negro puts too much of his earning in clothes, in food, in show and in having what he calls "a good time." The Dr. Kelly Miller said, "The Negro buys what he WANTS and begs for what he Needs." Too true!

2. The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk To Do For Him What He Can Do For Himself.


It is the "Divine Plan" that the strong shall help the weak, but even God does not do for man what man can do for himself. The Negro will have to do exactly what Jesus told the man (in John 5:8) to do--Carry his own load--"Take up your bed and walk."

3. The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children And His Home Clean And Make The Surroundings In Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive.


He must learn to "run his community up"--not down. We can segregate by law, we integrate only by living. Civilization is not a matter of race, it is a matter of standards. Believe it or not--some day, some race is going to outdo the Anglo-Saxon, completely. It can be the Negro race, if the Negro gets sense enough. Civilization goes up and down that way.

4. The Negro Must Learn To Dress More Appropriately For Work And For Leisure.


Knowing what to wear--how to wear it--when to wear it and where to wear it, are earmarks of common sense, culture and also an index to character.

5. The Negro Must Make His Religion An Everyday Practice And Not Just A Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Emotional Affair.

6. The Negro Must Highly Resolve To Wipe Out Mass Ignorance.


The leaders of the race must teach and inspire the masses to become eager and determined to improve mentally, morally and spiritually, and to meet the basic requirements of good citizenship.

We should initiate an intensive literacy campaign in America, as well as in Africa. Ignorance--satisfied ignorance--is a millstone abut the neck of the race. It is democracy's greatest burden.

Social integration is a relationship attained as a result of the cultivation of kindred social ideals, interests and standards.

It is a blending process that requires time, understanding and kindred purposes to achieve. Likes alone and not laws can do it.

7. The Negro Must Stop Charging His Failures Up To His "Color" And To White People's Attitude.


The truth of the matter is that good service and conduct will make senseless race prejudice fade like mist before the rising sun.

God never intended that a man's color shall be anything other than a badge of distinction. It is high time that all races were learning that fact. The Negro must first QUALIFY for whatever position he wants. Purpose, initiative, ingenuity and industry are the keys that all men use to get what they want. The Negro will have to do the same. He must make himself a workman who is too skilled not to be wanted, and too DEPENDABLE not to be on the job, according to promise or plan. He will never become a vital factor in industry until he learns to put into his work the vitalizing force of initiative, skill and dependability. He has gone "RIGHTS" mad and "DUTY" dumb.

8. The Negro Must Overcome His Bad Job Habits.


He must make a brand new reputation for himself in the world of labor. His bad job habits are absenteeism, funerals to attend, or a little business to look after. The Negro runs an off and on business. He also has a bad reputation for conduct on the job--such as petty quarrelling with other help, incessant loud talking about nothing; loafing, carelessness, due to lack of job pride; insolence, gum chewing and--too often--liquor drinking. Just plain bad job habits!

9. He Must Improve His Conduct In Public Places.


Taken as a whole, he is entirely too loud and too ill-mannered.

There is much talk about wiping out racial segregation and also much talk about achieving integration.

Segregation is a physical arrangement by which people are separated in various services.

It is definitely up to the Negro to wipe out the apparent justification or excuse for segregation.

The only effective way to do it is to clean up and keep clean. By practice, cleanliness will become a habit and habit becomes character.

10. The Negro Must Learn How To Operate Business For People--Not For Negro People, Only.


To do business, he will have to remove all typical "earmarks," business principles; measure up to accepted standards and meet stimulating competition, graciously--in fact, he must learn to welcome competition.

11. The Average So-Called Educated Negro Will Have To Come Down Out Of The Air. He Is Too Inflated Over Nothing. He Needs An Experience Similar To The One That Ezekiel Had--(Ezekiel 3:14-19). And He Must Do What Ezekiel Did


Otherwise, through indifference, as to the plight of the masses, the Negro, who thinks that he has escaped, will lose his own soul. It will do all leaders good to read Hebrew 13:3, and the first Thirty-seven Chapters of Ezekiel.

A race transformation itself through its own leaders and its sensible "common people." A race rises on its own wings, or is held down by its own weight. True leaders are never "things apart from the people." They are the masses. They simply got to the front ahead of them. Their only business at the front is to inspire to masses by hard work and noble example and challenge them to "Come on!" Dante stated a fact when he said, "Show the people the light and they will find the way!"

There must arise within the Negro race a leadership that is not out hunting bargains for itself. A noble example is found in the men and women of the Negro race, who, in the early days, laid down their lives for the people. Their invaluable contributions have not been appraised by the "latter-day leaders." In many cases, their names would never be recorded, among the unsung heroes of the world, but for the fact that white friends have written them there.

"Lord, God of Hosts, Be with us yet."


The Negro of today does not realize that, but, for these exhibits A's, that certainly show the innate possibilities of members of their own race, white people would not have been moved to make such princely investments in lives and money, as they have made, for the establishment of schools and for the on-going of the race.

12. The Negro Must Stop Forgetting His Friends. "Remember."


Read Deuteronomy 24:18. Deuteronomy rings the big bell of gratitude. Why? Because an ingrate is an abomination in the sight of God. God is constantly telling us that "I the Lord thy God delivered you"--through human instrumentalities.

The American Negro has had and still has friends--in the North and in the South. These friends not only pray, speak, write, influence others, but make unbelievable, unpublished sacrifices and contributions for the advancement of the race--for their brothers in bonds.

The noblest thing that the Negro can do is to so live and labor that these benefactors will not have given in vain. The Negro must make his heart warm with gratitude, his lips sweet with thanks and his heart and mind resolute with purpose to justify the sacrifices and stand on his feet and go forward--"God is no respector of persons. In every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is" sure to win out. Get to work! That's the answer to everything that hurts us. We talk too much about nothing instead of redeeming the time by working.



In spite of race prejudice, America is brim full of opportunities. Go after them!

27 March 2006

Inside Man

This is an incomplete thought, but I saw the new Spike Lee and I have to say something. It was the top grossing film this weekend and the most money in a single weekend Spike has ever made. But I didn't like it. It reeked of Spike Lee. The story was hot. The actors were hot. Denzel was doing that thing he does now, like Bill Duke in the police scene in Juice, a lot of "smiley talking". Spike didn't write it but it still sunk into preachy monologues. How?

And the reality is- Jodie Foster's character was bad as hell. She was the kind of woman that I still hope to be when I grow up-only with a stronger moral compass. But how could the word "cunt" still be used to describe her? No, really? (Spike didn't write this one either.) Isn't bitch bad enough anymore to describe assertive women with questionable ethical behavior? I think bitch still works.

Oh and did I mention the part where the female bank robber is remembered for her rack and in trying to identify her, the women who fit the big busted profile are asked to unzip their tops.

Okay, that's enough for now. I'll have more later.

01 March 2006

I can't believe I haven't written in over a month

I'm working and sleepy all the time now. I can only muster enough strength to play Monopoly at games.com.
More later.

28 January 2006

Travels with the Make-up Guy

This is my friend Tyrone's Blog...
It's a lot of fun.

Travels with the Make-up Guy

27 January 2006

I'm Race People

I’m race people. I come from a long line of race people. People who raised me to be a black, proud, smart, well mannered lady. It’s a sentence I don’t feel should even be written in the 21st century, but it’s the sentence that keeps me from writing about race. I’m so concerned now with being multi-culti, and my blackness so intrinsic to my being that writing about it seems obsolete to me. But we’re in trouble and my talking about it and not writing about it is part of the problem.

I had Tyrone put a texturizer in my hair, blow it out and straighten it…
And it’s straight and all Nona Hendrix right? (Or like Malcolm X before he went to jail.) And then I watched John Henrik Clarke’s "A Long and Mighty Walk" and went and washed the straight out of my hair.
I love having an Afro.
I love looking and being black. I do believe in race. It’s very important to me. It fills me with an incredible sense of pride.

But that all still sounds very pedestrian to me. Simple statements that don’t reflect the complexities of the subject. My intersection with race is directly tied to my particular environment. But since my environs have evolved so has my spin on race. I’m not of the school that race doesn’t exist because I don’t live in the world of people not noticing my race first. I mean, I’m black. People who try to describe others without race when race is the obvious distinction annoy me. “The guy, you know he had on a baseball cap and a blue jacket. He was standing over here.” “You mean the black guy?” “Um, yeah.”
Now isn’t that more to the point. It isn’t as if calling someone black is an indictment. All of this political correctness is making it difficult for any serious conversations on race. By being so obtuse, we are denying a fact of life on these shores. And living in a dream world. The fact that simple descriptions are politically loaded- that’s the problem. I’m offended if I’m the only black somewhere (like at work) and people go ten ways around the moon to describe me as opposed to “she’s the black girl” (although I guess I’m quickly moving from girlhood.)

But here in NY, surrounded by the people I’m surrounded by, race is even more complicated than my Chicago definitions. I love it. It confuses me and challenges me.

And I watched Amistad today and wish the straight-backed pride of being Africans, of being sure in our skins, of being wonderful (and boy I love Djimon Hounsou) was the reality of the totality of my people today. But the calling of ancestors, regardless of its cinematic merit, should be a common virtue (practice?) of all in the African Diaspora.
I’m quite aware of the fact that I wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t chosen to live in deplorable conditions, chose to live in general, for me to exist. I am the promise of things unseen. I am the promise of many sacrifices and I must succeed because of the sacrifices and choices made for me to draw breath. Regardless of what Budweiser tells me late at night, I will fulfill this promise. My writing this is a testament to my belief and fulfillment of this promise.

I Don't Know If You Know How Much I Love Oprah Yet

I love Oprah. I can't watch her show all the time, because... well I just can't (a recent incident with a pair of boots she had on has kinda set me off the whole "watching her show thing"). But as a powerful black lady...I adore her. As a writer (and a budding capitalist) her bookclub selection is up there with me winning the Pulitzer. I didn't read the Frey book because I'm not in the least bit interested in any rehab stories, but the story around it... well- let's put it like this: Michael Jackson was acting up again this week and I didn't even google it. So here are a few words from me on the spanking she gave this lying sack of....

There's not enough money in the world for me to be in trouble with Oprah. I'd have been laying on the ground crying and holding on to her feet screaming "Please! Please Miss Oprah!!!! Please don't be mad at me. I'm so sorry. I'm the worst. Please. I love you so much. It was that lady. She made me do it. She treated me like Miss Millie treated you in The Color Purple. You know how that is. Oh, Lord. I think I'm gonna fall out. Please!!! ARGHHHHHHH!!!!! PLEASE!!!. I'll do whatever you want me to do. I'll go pull sex offenders out of cars or playgrounds, or wherever they hole up. I'll pay more attention to Dr. Phil. I'll wear the right sized bra. Please don't relinquish me to a place where Miss Oprah's light doesn't shine on me. ARGHHHHHHH!!!!! Sweet Jesus, NOOOOOO!!!!!"
but that's me.
Excerpts From 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'
The following are excerpts from a transcript of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" from Jan. 26, 2006, featuring the author James Frey and Nan A. Talese, the publisher of his book:

OPRAH WINFREY: I have to say it is--it is difficult for me to talk to you, because I really feel duped. I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. And I think, you know, it's such a gift to have millions of people to read your work, and that bothers me greatly. And so now as I sit here today, I--I don't know what is truth and I don't know what isn't. So first of all, I wanted to start with--with The Smoking Gun report titled "The Man Who Conned Oprah." And I want to know, were they right?

Mr. FREY: I think most of what they wrote was pretty accurate, absolutely. I think they did a good job detailing some of the discrepancies between some of the actual facts of the events and...

Ms. WINFREY: What they said was that you lied about the length of time that you spent in jail. How long were you in jail?

Mr. FREY: I was in jail for--they were right about that, I was in for a few hours, not--not the time...

Ms. WINFREY: Not 87 days?

Mr. FREY: Correct.


Ms. WINFREY: ... [W]as there a Lily?

Mr. FREY: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, that--that's been a question for a long time before...

Ms. WINFREY: Well, the thing that doesn't make any sense to me is, if you were in jail for 87 days, and you say on page 420 of the book you and Lily are saying goodbye and, 'I have to go to jail in Ohio and it's only going to be for a few months and I'm going to write you every day.' And I have to tell you, James, that when I was reading that book and I get to the last page and Lily has hung herself and you arrived, you know, the day that she hang--was--was hung, and I couldn't even believe it. I'm, like, gasping. I'm calling people, like, `Oh, my God, this happened.' So if you weren't in jail all that time and you're telling her to hold on, why couldn't you get to her?

Mr. FREY: I mean, what actually happened was I went through Ohio. I was there very briefly. I went down to North Carolina, where I was living at the time...

Ms. WINFREY: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FREY: ...and I was closing up my life there.

Ms. WINFREY: Uh-huh.

Mr. FREY: The process was vastly accelerated from what I wrote in the book. She did...

Ms. WINFREY: I don't know what that means. What does that mean, "vastly accelerated"?

Mr. FREY: I mean, it happened in a much shorter period of time. And we were planning on meeting up with each other, and--and she committed suicide before we met up.


Ms. WINFREY: I called defending you on "Larry King" because I believed that the essence of the book was true, and at the time, I didn't know Smoking Gun was true or not, because you had had a strong relationship with my producers and they so believed in you. And we had asked the publisher if this was true when we started to get criticism after the book--after we had announced the book, and the publishers had all told us it was true. So that's why I trusted you and believed you. But this is--this is the thing. Why would you lie--why do you have to lie about the time you spent in jail? Why did you have to do that?

Mr. FREY: I mean, I think part of what happened with a number of the things in the book is when you go through an experience like the one I went through, you develop different coping mechanisms, and I think one of the coping mechanisms I developed was sort of this image of myself that was greater probably than--not probably, that was greater than what I actually was. In order to get through the experience of--of the addiction, I thought of myself as being tougher than I was and badder than I was, and it--it helped me cope. And when I was writing the book, I--instead of being as introspective as I should have been, I clung to that image.

Ms. WINFREY: And did you cling to that image because that's how you wanted to see yourself, or did you cling to that image because that would make a better book?

Mr. FREY: Probably both.


Ms. WINFREY: Nan Talese is the publisher and editor in chief of "A Million Little Pieces" and the senior vice president of Doubleday, which is a division of Random House. ... Nan is the person who would have overseen the publication of James' book, which you did, right?

Ms. NAN A. TALESE (Publisher of "A Million Little Pieces"): Correct.

Ms. WINFREY: Correct. And so, Nan, James has admitted that he embellished his memoir. And I--what responsibility do you take in that?

Ms. TALESE: Well, I can only tell you how the book came to me and how I read it. And I read the manuscript as a memoir and I thought it was an extraordinary story of a man with drug addiction, going through hell of both the addiction and the recovery and the process. And I thought the book was absolutely riveting. And you talked about the novocaine and you know, you were implying that perhaps that was a red flag, that the publisher should have said, 'Hey, this couldn't possibly be true.'


Ms. TALESE: In fact, I have had a root canal without novocaine, not particularly because of the choice but because of a extraordinary inept dentist.


Ms. TALESE: And I'm here and I, you know, it's really awful. It's very much as James described it. So I didn't think that it wasn't a red flag to me.

Ms. WINFREY: Do you--I don't know why that wouldn't be a red flag to anybody, Nan. I'm sorry, even if you'd had it yourself. That whole--the whole book, one of the reasons why we're all so taken with the book is because it feels and reads so sensationally that it--it--you you can't believe that all of this happened to one person. When did you realize that James hadn't told the truth in his memoir?

Ms. TALESE: I learned about the--the jail, the two things that were in Smoking Gun at the same time you did. And I was dismayed to know that. But I had not--I mean, as an editor, do you ask someone, 'Are you really as bad as you are?'


Ms. TALESE: Because someone...

Ms. WINFREY: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, you do. Yes.


Ms. WINFREY: You never questioned it?


Ms. WINFREY: OK. Because I'm thinking as a reader, up until this moment, sitting on the show, that Lily hung herself. Well, obviously, after all these reports came out, I started to think, `Well, if he wasn't in jail, if that's true, and he wasn't in jail all that time and he was trying to get to Lily, then maybe there wasn't even a Lily.'

Ms. TALESE: Well, no, I understand that. And I understand the questioning. The tragedy is not in the hanging or slitting her wrists. It's in the suicide. And I'm not excusing it.


Ms. WINFREY: Let me say this: Eight days after we announced this book, and it had already made the bestsellers list, we were contacted--eight days afterwards--by a former Hazelton counselor challenging the truth of James's memoir. And our producer told me about it, because this woman is now saying that what James is saying in the book isn't true. I said, `Well, did she work with James? Was she there when James was there?' I said, `Well, I--I--I don't know if what she's saying is true. What you need to do is contact the publisher. Contact the publisher and ask them if it's true.'

So, we contacted your representatives, and we were told by them that the claims that this woman was making, we were assured that there was no validity to those claims. And we asked if you, your company stood behind James's book as a work of non-fiction at the time, and they said absolutely. And they were also asked if their legal department had checked out the book, and they said yes. So in a press release sent out for the book in 2004 by your company, the book was described as brutally honest and an altering look at--at addiction. So how can you say that if you haven't checked it to be sure?

Ms. TALESE: You know, Oprah, I mean, I think this whole experience is very sad. It's very sad for you, it's very sad for us...

WINFREY: It's not sad for me, it's embarrassing and disappointing for me. That it's embarrassing and disappointing to me.

Ms. TALESE: But I don't--I do not know how you get inside another person's mind...

WINFREY: Well, this is my point, Nan: otherwise, then anybody can just walk in off with the street with whatever story they have...

Ms. TALESE: But you know...

WINFREY: ...and say "this is my story."

Ms. TALESE: That is absolutely true, and people in publishing and editor...

WINFREY: Well, that needs to change.

23 January 2006

The Phat Lady Sings: ON FEELING FAT

The Phat Lady Sings: ON FEELING FAT

Femme Fatale

For those of you who have received my mix CD's as December holiday gifts... you're familiar with what is affectionately called "The Cheemix". Today is a day for that. I've posted a bunch of other things I've written for various school projects. Here's another:

Claim: Femme Fatale or What’s Brian DePalma Thinking?

A lesbian jewelry heist at the Cannes Film Festival leads to a double cross leads to a suicide leads to a stolen identity leads to a photographer leads to… who knows? In this weaving heavy handed film laden with inside jokes thumbing its nose at Hollywood and Bizarro world Hitchcockian references, subplots are really plots and seeming randomness becomes the key to understanding. Twists and reversals make a script great. Yanking peoples emotional chains and playing cinematic mind games generally makes people angry. Yet, and this is the big one, it’s fascinating. You might want to throw things but you have to know what’s going to happen. That’s the most annoying part of this movie. Once you come to grips with the fact that nothing is what it seems you have to know the truth. You know the whole things a set-up, but how? Why? It’s hard to say it’s horrible. (Not impossible, though). It might be- but not boring. This is a film for adults. Not just because of the utterly bizarre and gratuitous striptease scene, but because you have to think. You might not want to or like it… but think you will. As a side note: Rebecca Romijn- Stamos is a model. Hello? A model. Brian DePalma keeping her silent during the first quarter of the movie doesn'’t erase the fact that she'’s the "Femme Fatale" of the title and eventually, to let us know what'’s going on, she must speak.

Too much deja vu
Antonio Banderas
Really, what’s going on?

Roger and Me

Roger and Me
Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me” is a perfect metaphor for the search for the culpability of corporate America. The film follows Moore searching for GM chief executive Roger Smith to bring him to Flint, Michigan to see the devastation the closing of the plants (which were the economic backbone of the city) has done to the community. This film follows a clear path and there are no extraneous moments. It is a three year culmination of events detailing the personal and communal tragedies of a formally prosperous town. Though this vision is decidedly anti- corporation and is edited in a way that shows both sides, the weight of the argument on the side of the fired auto workers is clear.
Moore’s genius in this film is his clarity. From the beginning the viewer is clear on his position and can thusly posit themselves in a way that avoids manipulation. Even those not suffering from the lay-offs and with a set position of “it’s not that bad” can see how it is that bad for others. Those feeling the effects of the economic downsizing can feel they have a champion and know their story was told. Those outside of Flint can make their own decisions and still have a choice in their opinion on the facts of the case. Yet, Moore has told the audience from the beginning whose side he’s on. He told his history in the town and how he’s a part of it. Although it’s a documentary this film isn’t a documentary with no comment. Moore has the advantage of having a personal history with these people in addition to being a journalist, which adds to the different dimensions of his evaluation.
While trying to interview Roger Smith and bring him to Flint to see the ghost town it had become, Moore made a poignant comment on corporate America. Corporate America was given a body and a name- Roger Smith. The elusiveness at finding someone to hold responsible in corporations is clear. The levels of bureaucracy are so deep and multifaceted, yet Moore’s tenacity and subsequent failure at even speaking to Roger Smith is a painful illustration of how powerless individuals can be in the face of corporate power. This story doesn’t have a happy ending. People are displaced. Communities are destroyed and it’s “nobody’s fault”… it’s just how business has to be in a competitive capitalist society. That’s a sad but true statement that was beautifully illuminated in this film.

Hip Hop Ads

In a grad school class we actually had to post to a blog weekly. The postings were whatever the assignment were for the week:

Pro: Hip Hop Goes Commercial by Erik Parker (Village Voice September 11-17, 2002)

In the late 1980’s I remember my journalism teacher telling me that hip-hop wouldn’t last the next five years. Well, more than 20 years after it’s inception hip-hop culture and music has woven it’s way into all parts of global living. So it’s only natural that it would be used as a commercial vehicle. Like all underground movements that gained pop culture status, hip hop is now being used to sell everything from burgers to cellular phones. If everything sang or rapped about becomes “cool” then it goes without saying that the artists should gain financially from it. This is a capitalist society and there’s no such thing as free advertising. It’s only fair that a cultural movement began by economically impoverished minorities should be able to benefit from big businesses that co-op culture for monetary gain.

Con: Hip Hop Goes Commercial by Erik Parker (Village Voice September 11-17, 2002)

Conspicuous consumption and market branding has ruined hip-hop culture and music. In the late 1980’s hip hop was about community building and the upliftment of an economically impoverished people. Even if you weren’t poor you could still benefit from the teachings of the music and the sense of community it fostered. Yet today unless you care about Motorola pagers, Courvoisier liquor, Range Rovers, platinum, diamonds, and any number of brand name foolishness, then hip hop isn’t for you. Everything is to further individual materialistic desires usually by means detrimental to the human community as a whole. Hip hop has spread it’s materialistic message across the globe. It’s an infection that’s only getting worse when Snapple bottles start breakdancing.

Make the Call That May Make the Difference

Make The Call That May Make The Difference.

Using slow motion and the faces of smiling calm children, McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals presents a vague glimmer of hope for the parents of children with ADHD. No doubt some of these children need help and one would only call or get information from the website if their child has ADHD. Yet this commercial has a kind of creepiness that borders on an image of mind control. The increase of pharmaceutical companies advertisements seems to be either the chicken or the egg of a bigger American problem. The medicalization of everyday life. The children are shown with their parents being the type of children seen on television in generic “childhood” situations such as playing with other children, working with their parents, doing their homework, eating breakfast. This is all fantastic if only there weren’t graphics over the montage saying “12 hour dose”; “Once daily medication”; “Consistent symptom control”. The parents calm pleased voices tell of the process the children are making from their medication. In the shot showing the success story video and ADHD advances brochure (with questions for your doctor) this is when it’s apparent what’s being sold. What’s being sold is the idea that your child can be like these kids. Not to negate the real problems some children have, but a national ad campaign shown during daytime TV to mothers watching their soap operas seems a little sinister. Yes, this might get the information to a mother who has a child with a real problem, but what about the mother who simply doesn’t know how to handle her child. What about the loud rambunctious children who are natural explorers and trouble makers? Certain kinds of these ADHD medications have been safely and widely used for over 40 years. Does this explain the increase of the overall pharmaceutical campaigns for treatment of anxiety disorders. There’s no shame in getting help for problems, yet a commercial showing television children leading television lives seems to be a poor (and dangerous) method for getting help for those who really might need it as opposed to simply those who can get it.


Now this show is now defunct... but let's think about it again- shall we?


Looking at a single crime from at least seven different viewpoints is a clever working of the postmodernist theory of no master narrative, yet Must See Sunday on NBC might not be the tableau in which to paint this particular masterpiece. The outstanding ensemble cast and brilliant concept of Boomtown may get lost in the very gimmick that makes this show interesting.

The audience is guided through a crime from the point of view of it’s seven major characters: two detectives, two cops, a paramedic, a district attorney, and a reporter. That’s brilliant. “Sometimes the best way to tell the whole story about something is not to try to tell the whole story, but to tell all the little stories and let the viewers put it together themselves,” according to Graham Yost, series co-creator, executive producer, and writer. In addition to the regular cast, the story is also told through the eyes of the victims and perpetrators of the crimes (and sometimes quirky passersby). The vignettes are woven together by white titles (telling the audience who they are now) on a black screen. During this half season every situation has neatly been handled. It’s not always pretty, but there are no pesky questions lurking around on Monday morning.

Let’s stop for a moment. This is a show that’s daring enough to allow an American TV audience to believe they are experiencing life through the characters eyes, yet heavy handedly guiding them the most obvious choices. Boomtown needs the leash taken off. It wants a smart audience but doesn’t trust itself or the audience enough to give them the freedom to make up their own minds. The audience, according to the commercials, are people: who travel, shop by computer, drive luxury cars (as well as small foreign and beefy American ones), eat chicken and beef, use wireless phones and digital cameras, vote, have health insurance and families, care about wrinkles, and wear underwear. That sounds like a broad sampling of America. That sounds like people who can be trusted. Boomtown should trust these people and not treat them like idiots while telling them their “smart”.

Watching this show feels like having a crush. You see the person. You like them. You kind of follow them around, and you learn about them through other people. Just enough to make you want to know more. You start having small conversations with them and then you discover- all they have is small conversation. There’s nothing else. No depth. Some interesting, even alluring, detail is mentioned, then it’s back to the weather.

It’s not that the characters on Boomtown don’t have depth. That’s what’s infuriating. There’s more story there. We’re given glimpses of who these people are. Wonderful glimpses. But everything feels like a shadow. As soon as we’re getting some understanding we’re somewhere else being someone else. On commercial series television- there must be some master narrative. Even Twin Peaks had central question. Something to make an audience care. In the midst of solving a crime, the audience also has to sympathize with these characters. The viewers experience is experiential, yet we never really get a chance to experience.

The strength of the performances keeps it alive. Actors Donnie Wahlberg (Detective Joel Stevens) and Neal McDonough (Deputy D.A. David McNorris)- both from Graham Yost’s “Band of Brothers”- lead a superb ensemble. These actors are fighting to give the audience what they need to hold their attention. But as soon as the door cracks open to understanding… there’s a commercial, or a cut, or a little piece of business that destroys the moment. It screams “CABLE!!!”.

So at mid-season I leave you with these questions: Will Boomtown trust itself enough to not rely on it’s flashy editing style to show the characters development? Will Boomtown trust it’s audience enough to know that flashy editing and titles won’t be necessary when the characters and their motivations are clear? If not… we might have to see what the mid-season replacements have in store.


This was written for my brother's magazine years ago:

When given the prospect of writing on freedom, particularly the freedom of not wearing underwear, I was elated. Finally, some forum to express my little slice of rebellion , however seemingly mundane, against the repressive bit of binding holding in my holiest of holes. When I was young the thought- the very idea – of me not wearing underwear was as close to sin as taking the Lord’s name in vain (which I also didn’t get because- What does she care?) The first time I didn’t wear them was an accident. When my grandmother found out she obviously didn’t it was as funny as I did. I might as well had been selling pussy for the reaction I got. So after that, I didn’t dare go bare until I was an adult. The era ended when I would ask my two best friends why they weren’t wearing any panties, and their answer was “Why should I?” I couldn’t answer them so off came the drawa’s.
It’s one of my many struggles against social mores. It’s me knowing I’m a sexual being at every moment of everyday. Men find it sexy, but more importantly I find it sexy. There’s a bit of exhibitionism to it. There’s a sense of power that comes with being able to hike up my skirt anywhere I choose and take a whiz. To have to check my sexual thoughts, as men do, to make sure I’m not sitting in a puddle.
But moreover, it’s my little secret. (Well not anymore I guess). But when I ‘m sitting at work listening to these ball-less fucks tell me to do mind numbing bullshit, I know that if I wanted to I could stand up, piss on their shoes and tell them to kiss my ass in one fell swoop. And on top of it all, I believe it’s made me more of a lady.

12 January 2006

Marion Berry Loves Cocaine

I was born in DC. I went to Howard. I spent my summers in DC. I remember when my cousins and step-brothers and sisters got summer jobs because Marion Berry had created a wonderful work program for the little black girls and boys in the city. As a child, raised in segragated Chicago and in love with Harold Washington, having a black mayor was really important to me. I loved Marion Berry because being the mayor of DC was tough. There were tons of politics. Particularly in the Reagan years... but, Marion... you gotta pay your taxes. You can't do cocaine. YOU can't do cocaine. And I've also heard some more disturbing news about MJ today... but we'll save that for later.

COCAINE: Mandatory drug test last fall
came up dirty.

*Former Washington D.C. mayor Marion
Barry now faces an increased risk of serving
the maximum 18 months in jail for misdemeanor
tax charges after testing positive for cocaine
use during a mandatory drug test administered
last fall.
Barry, who was elected to the Ward 8
council seat in 2004, has since begun treatment
for drug use, sources tell the Washington Post,
but his dirty drug test violates the terms of his
release in the tax case. Instead of probation, the
politician now faces and 18-month bid during his
sentencing scheduled for Feb. 8.
Barry, interviewed Tuesday night in his Howard
University Hospital room, where he's being treated
for hypertension, said he did not deny accounts
of his drug test and treatment but declined to
discuss his case.
"Write what you want to write," he told a
Washington Post reporter. "That's my official
quote. No more, no less."
The tax case involves Barry's failure to pay
most of his federal and D.C. income taxes for six
years after his fourth term as mayor ended in
January 1999. Prosecutors said he received more
than $530,000 in income over the next six years
but did not document most of it. Barry's plea
agreement also calls for him to make
arrangements to resolve his tax debts.
Barry grabbed national headlines last week
after two young men who helped him carry groceries
to his Southeast apartment returned to rob him at
gunpoint. The suspects, who escaped with Barry’s
wallet containing more than $200 in cash, his driver’s
license and two credit cards, are still at large.
In 1990, during Barry’s third term as mayor, he
was videotaped smoking crack at the Vista Hotel
by federal agents.

11 January 2006

Museum of the African Diaspora

"I've Known Rivers: The MoAD African Diaspora Stories Project" is up and running.

My poem "Poor People" can be seen here: http://www.iveknownrivers.org/stories/adaptation.htm.

Here's a little background on the project from the website:

SAN FRANCISCO (September 12, 2005) - In Africa it is said that when a griot, or oral historian, dies, "a library has burned to the ground." In recognition of the fabled tradition of the griot and in an effort to document stories of the African Diaspora, San Francisco's Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) has embarked on a landmark project.

I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Story Project is an unprecedented effort by an international museum to collect, publish, and archive "first voice" narratives about people of African descent. In light of the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and its effect on the lives of thousands of African Americans, this project's story-collecting mission takes on an even greater significance.

An international museum based in San Francisco, California USA, MoAD is scheduled to open in December 2005 and is poised to become one of the world's pre-eminent cultural institutions. Unlike anything ever offered by a modern museum, I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Story Project will be similar in vision to the historic WPA Federal Writers' Project (1936 -1940), which archived thousands of items, including essays, oral testimony, folklore, and authentic narratives of ex-slaves about life during slavery.

"We are excited about people everywhere sharing inspiring stories which explore our African roots," said Emmy award winning journalist and MoAD Board President, Belva Davis. "These stories will create an international conversation about what it means for us as a global community to be connected to Africa." International Call for Stories

MoAD has issued a global Call for Stories in an effort to collect, publish and archive authentic stories from throughout the African Diaspora. Stories should be submitted in the form of first-person essay, short fiction, and poem by published and unpublished writers as well as authentic voices from across the African Diaspora. Additionally, the stories must be related to MoAD's four founding themes: origin, movement, adaptation, and transformation.

In partnership with User Logic and funded by the ATT Excelerator Grant, MoAD will begin publishing these selected stories on the museum web site starting Fall 2005 and continue leading up to MoAD's grand opening in December 2005.

The most highly distinguished twenty-five stories from the entries submitted will be published online and considered for an inaugural hard cover book for the museum.

After the opening, the project will continue to collect and archive stories, creating one of the first international virtual archives of African Diaspora Stories by a modern museum. In addition, the I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Stories Project web site will serve as an online writer's lab, providing the newest applications in instructional media to assist those in the general public to write their own African Diaspora stories.

It's a great way to start the new year.

There will be more exciting times to come.

Things I wish I'd Known In My 20's

I know I've asked people to comment and I appreciate those who have.
I didn't put my list on here, because it's a little more revealing than I like to do... but this is what this forum is for.
So, even though I totally don't want to- I'm going to reveal.
What do I wish I’d known in my ‘20’s?

That things smell funny and it’s okay.
Things being your own body

That men are nasty and will do anything to get laid.

The weight that you used to lose in a week now takes months -even years-of concerted effort to lose.

Smoking stinks and it’s mad hard to quit.

Cocktails only get more delicious with time
Men don’t like to hear the truth
Shit, sometimes I don't like to hear the truth
Friends leave
There’s no such thing as a grown up
You can save $100 a month and not spend it on shoes
There is such a thing as too many shoes.
Just because you sleep with a guy that you think is your friend… doesn’t mean he’s going to call
Mind blowing sex does not a relationship make
Sometimes, your best friends will abandon you
Most times your best friends will save your life in ways they'll never know
Maybe your mother is really crazy- I mean really crazy
Siblings are God’s way of saying everything’s okay-or that you might be just as screwed up as them
You’ll still get crushes that will completely occupy your mind
You'll still have pretend boyfriends/ girlfriends because you're still too scared to say something to them.
Money comes and goes. Worrying about it doesn’t change it’s nature.
Don’t worry the money will come
You have to do a lot of work to get a lot of money
Freedom is worth more than money
Joy is worth more than money
Piece of mind is worth more than money
Doing what you love will always pay off
I don't want to go to work everyday- damn.

Arghhh, and I still want to remove some...
So now there's no excuse for not helping me out.

10 January 2006

Just A Lousy Dime

“We want to leave early so that we can get in for free. So can you be ready by 9?”
“If I take a nap. I’m exhausted. I haven’t had time to sleep yet.”
“Well you know you have to go with us Minah. It’s your last night here. I haven’t seen you since graduation and now you’re flying off to Paris... I can’t even talk about it or I’ll start crying.”
“Okay. Okay. I’ll go but have to start my nap now. It’s already 6 what time are you calling?”
“Okay, I’ll call you at 8.”
“That’s cool, I have to shave my legs so yeah, that’s cool. Eight o’clock.”
“I’m so happy you’re going.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll see you later.”

Minah laid down with Miles Davis asking “So What” on his trumpet. She dozed off with visions of the Seine flowing through her mind, then the phone rang.
“You up?”
“What time is it? “
“Five after 8. I just finished cleaning up and I’m about to take my shower. We should be over there in about 1/2 hour. I’ll call first.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to you in a little while.”
Minah got up and turned on her light. The room was bare. Everything was packed except for some pictures she wanted to carry with her and her traveling clothes. She picked up a stack of pictures and started flipping through them. She stopped on a picture of herself with her “big brother”. Though they weren’t related by blood, they spoke everyday until she left for school. She hadn’t spoken to him in two years. Two years? Has it been that long Blueboy? She missed him, he always wanted to go to Paris. But pain kept her pride from giving in to fits of sentimental fancy. She’d accepted his flaky behavior as part of his character, but after that Christmas she couldn’t stand being stood up by him one more time.
The final straw had been her missing a party she’d planned because of him. Her car was being ravaged by the unnaturally cold Chicago winter. It was quite naturally cold for her, but her car was Japanese and still not used to the weather. So who else to call but her brother who only lived a few blocks away. She knew she was taking a chance, but she figured, Hey, we’re adults now and made the mistake, yet again, of depending on him. He called and told her he was on his way and she woke up the next morning in her bad-assed boots and a mini-dress in the recliner by the door. He called the next morning with some excuse she’d already heard and she hung up on him. He called periodically but she never spoke to him. She didn’t trust him. She had a couple of boyfriends who tried the same game. She had no tolerance for it and they got the same treatment. When they asked why she was “trippin’ so hard” she’d just say she had her reasons. She flipped to a picture of herself as a child standing in front of the window smiling and holding a little suitcase.
“Minah, sweetie, is your bag packed to go to your Dad’s?”
“Yes, I even put little Minah in there.”
She points to a brown yarn doll wearing a yellow sundress and black toe-shoes. “We’re dressed alike today, only I don’t’ have a bonnet and she doesn’t have on gloves.”
“Well you have a little while before your dad gets here. Do you want to watch some TV?”
“No thank you. I’d like to sit in the window and see him pull up so he can see I’m ready. We’re going to see the Muppet Movie and we can’t be late.”
“Okay baby.” her mother said and gave her a kiss on the cheek. As she did she stroked Minah’s cheek and looked lovingly at her daughter. She looked so much like her father it sometimes scared her. Please let him come this time. One of the few good things she believed about her ex-husband was that he loved Minah. Yet she knows he loved her when they were married but that didn’t stop him from disappointing her. She hoped he wouldn’t have the same relationship with Minah. As she walked back into the den, she looked at her daughter so little and vulnerable, then at the clock. He was already 20 minutes late.
Minah comes back to the present and puts the pictures down. On the top of the stack is the picture of her as that child. Ironic, she laughs to herself, as she pulls out a similar dress to wear on her last hurrah. As she jumps in the shower she throws in her favorite Jimi Hendrix CD and together they declare “there must be some kinda way outta here” as All Along the Watchtower begins reverberating through her empty apartment.
About ten “there must be some kinda way outta here”’s later she’s dressed and waited for her friends. She puts her wrap, purse and shoes by the door and sits in her living room smoking a cigarette and looking through more pictures. She runs across another one from the same day except it’s with her and her mother at Fun Town, the now defunct amusement part that was Chicago’s equivalent to Coney Island. She remembers waiting in that window for hours waiting on her father and running for the door every time a car started down her quiet street. She sat there until the phone rang and her mother came out of the den and told her that her dad wouldn’t be able to make it today and that he would come and take her out tomorrow. As soon as her mother finished telling her, Minah started crying. Her Mommy came and picked her up hugging her tightly to her.
“It’s not that bad Sweetie,” her mother said in that soothing Mommy voice. “You’ll see him tomorrow and you two will have a great time, you’ll see.”
“But why didn’t he come today? He promised,” she said through her tears. “What’s wrong with me? I look pretty today, don’t I ? Tomorrow I might not look as pretty. He promised. Why doesn’t he keep his promises?”
“Oh Baby,” her mother said with tears now in her eyes that she fought to keep out of her voice. “You look pretty as always and you’ll look just as pretty tomorrow. This isn’t your fault. You know your daddy loves you it’s just... well... it’s just that sometimes the things you may think are important he might not feel the same way about. And that’s not his fault. Now I’m not saying he should break his promises, that’s not right, you just have to make sure you tell him, or anybody else, how this makes you feel. Okay?”
“I guess so,” she said feeling better and not really understanding why.
But she understood why now. She couldn’t, then or now, cut her father off. But anyone else who pulled the same act got the boot. She sometimes explained why, and like with Blueboy, explained over and over again how she felt, other times it was just not worth her breath. She said in the beginning of all of her relationships if you can’t make it or are gong to be late, just call and tell her what’s going on. No big whoop. Just a thin quarter.
At 9:45 she slid on the jeans and tee-shirt she was going to wear tomorrow. She taped up the last of her boxes and started a book. Her friends called at 10:30 explaining but she didn’t answer. She was on the other line talking to her father. She wanted to see what time he was coming to pick her up for the airport in the morning- before she packed her phone.

09 January 2006

Merry Christmas

Sure it's late- but I get to do whatever I want here. I was sitting around watching TV while trying not to play Monopoly on games.com (completely addictive and I'm trying to get everybody hooked. There's a movie like that... it'll come to me.) So I sat with my notebook next to me and wrote what my limited attention span could muster. Now I share it with you:

The closer we get to Christmas, the shittier the gifts get. I mean a jar opener? Really? Do people consume the bulk of their nourishment from jarred foods? How many olives can you eat? A jar, can , bottle opener. Who needs this? Are we really this lazy?

Law & Order was really good when it came out. Razor sharp writing, exquisite timing, compelling characters on every side. Smart. Development of characters on all sides.

Okay. I said there was a dirth of mental activity on my part. I've been busy. Law & Order, the original and SVU, had marathons over the holidays; I was partying with my friends; Monopoly. Come on. That's a ton.

I'm working on a story that I have to finish this week... I'll see how that goes and share.

ok, ok...

I know it's been a minute- but HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
I've been busy getting myself into trouble and avoiding my work like the plague. I've been writing, only not posting and that, my friends, is ending now.
It's a new year and a new perspective on life. (BTW, anyone who wants to hire me for American dollars-or euros- give me a shout.)

So I'm now trying (again) to change my layout, but it appears that my master's degree hasn't prepared me for code harder than Chinese algebra.

Alas, I will share some of my newest thoughts, ideas, rants, stories and such within the coming week.

Oh, and I'm trying out the google ad business too.... but right now it appears that my open letter to MJ and the frequent references to Dubai have steered the ads in an interesting direction.