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.