Friday, April 29, 2005
he was actually cute, too. what a shame that cuteness could be wasted on such a sour attitude. he actually got uglier with each negative word flying from his mouth. remember that movie "the fly"? jeff goldblum went from attractive jewish guy to straight up nasty insect thing. that's kinda how this guy transformed before my eyes. he was buzzing around me like a pesky fly and all i wanted to do was swat him really hard.
anywho, so after that dance was thankfully over, i'm standing in front of my new partner, an older guy, tall and thin, who had just walked in with his wife. i was instantaneously nervous. the idea of dancing with a guy with his wife staring at us from a seat right next to us made me uncomfortable. it felt like she was watching us have sex. she never took her eyes off of us, which i knew cuz i could see her out of the corner of my eye. i couldn't tell if she was plotting my murder or just chillin, but i didn't breathe until i was done dancing with him. on the plus side, he did have a gracefulness about him. on the downside, his wife can stare without blinking for at least two minutes. that wasn't cool at all.
that brings up something else i have to consider if i'm gonna get into salsa...the painfully jealous sistas here in atlanta. sistas here will kill each other just to see who gets to wipe a guy's ass. the ratio of women to men is like 10-1. add in the homosexual brothas and the disparity is probably larger. this means even the most ignant, smelly, foul-mouthed brotha is being fought over. in other words, a blind, midget brotha with one leg, three teeth, and a flatulence problem is gonna have AT LEAST two sistas fighting over him if he's living in atlanta.
now do you understand why i was nervous? it makes sense that every married woman in atlanta is gonna think every woman her husband comes in contact with is trying to get with him, even if it's not true.
and because salsa is a social kind of dance, folks don't just dance with their spouses, they dance with everybody. i gotta ask myself if i'm down with dancing if it could mean having my tires slashed.
then again, i do get a bit over-dramatic. i hope it's not that bad.
aiight, back to the salsa class. my last partner for the day was this white guy. he was the only white person in the class, which let me know he was comfortable around black folks. that's good seeing as he's gotta dance with us.
he had a wonderful rhythm about him and was gentle as he led me into my turns. i wasn't surprised really, cuz i don't believe dancing is something that only folks with mellanin in their skin can do.
i really enjoyed dancing and am now on the lookout for some comfortable salsa shoes. i have to work out extra hard in the gym though, cuz that dancing is HELL on the legs.
i TOTALLY believe in the idea that situations present themselves to a person for a reason, so i took this as a sign that i needed to seriously pursue my interest in salsa dancing. we decided to stay for the class. at first i thought i was gonna be surrounded by a bunch of svelte folk who danced like they had wings on their feet, so i was a little intimidated. once the class filled up and i took a look around, i realized i was looking at folks who looked just like me: black and a little hesitant. these were regular folks, not professional dancers in this class. thank goodness, cuz the last thing i needed was someone sueing me cuz i stepped on a foot and broke a couple of toes.
it started off aiight. the teacher threw a few moves our way and nikki a. and i looked at each other like "yeah, this is the same stuff jessica taught us in arizona". at first we looked like gifted dancers cuz we "caught on" so quickly. i didn't have the heart to tell the teacher we weren't complete novices, so i just silently went through the motions until we got to a move i didn't already know.
once we got to the part where we had partners, things got both interesting and painful. the interesting part was trying to locate a partner who i felt comfortable with. the painful part was having to stare into the brotha's eyes for a minute straight once i found him. i look him straight in the eye and don't let up. meanwhile, the brotha is nervous, looking at me for a couple of seconds and then looking away...ANYWHERE but into my eyes. i could tell he was nervous cuz he even started sweating a little. i smiled in an attempt to calm him down, but he simply wasn't having it. he just kept standing there, sweating, his eyes darting to various parts of the room.
i should have known i had picked the wrong partner.
when it came time to twirl me around, this cat yanked my arm and damn near tore the thing from the socket. it went like this...he grabbed my hand, yanked my arm up, then twirled me around. by the time the twirl was over, i realized only the strength of the tendons in my arm prevented me from being a new one-armed salsa dancer. he looked at me sheepishly like steve urkel right before he says "did i do that?"...
i just smiled weakly and told him he was a bit forceful but he'll get the move down before the class was over. we tried it a couple of more times, each time my arm was yanked a little less painfully as he got more comfortable with me. then we switched partners and i breathed a sigh of relief.
the next partner was this shorty. he was cute and it wa obvious a brotha had skills cuz this was his very first class and yet he had the moves down cold. i'm standing in front of him, looking down at him (yeah, he was THAT short), and i couldn't help but think back to this brotha i used to date when i was at famu. the famu brotha was short just like this cat, and i dated him after telling myself for a month that he was too short for me. it didn't work out between us, but i can't hate on the kid...he had the goods when it came to um, extracurricular activities.
so anyway, back to the shorty in front of me in the salsa class. he's staring me up and i'm staring him down and then the music starts. we're both moving in sync and it's obvious we're on the same wavelength. he takes hold of my hand and then softly lifts it above my head before twirling me around. shit, i didn't even realize i had been twirled until after i was facing him again. he was that smooth with it. brotha moved like the rays of the sun...you don't even see them moving and the shadow becoming longer. all you know is that you suddenly have sunlight in your room so you stand in front of your bedroom window with your eyes closed, basking in the glow of it. it's not until you open your eyes minutes later that you realize the sunlight has moved on another window.
he's definitely gonna be a great salsa dancer if he keeps coming to the classes...
my next partner was a girl. she tried really hard, but the thing about salsa is letting the BROTHA lead, so her twirling me around went against the nature of the entire dance. on to the next partner...
who turned out to be the most critical and negative one in the bunch.
it was obvious the cat had taken a couple of classes before this one. i guess he was in the "i'm the salsa king mode", cuz every time i moved he had something negative to say about it, like i was one of his friggin subjects or something. i wanted to twirl so my foot landed in his ass, but that's not a legit salsa move so instead i just let him twirl me while i silently cut him to shreds in my mind.
gotta run, but i'll be back to tell the rest of the story...
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Your Love Sign
Your love sign is Scorpio
You tend to
get selfish in your relationships, and assume a "me first" quality. You love to feel good, and respond very well to pampering. While you love to be admired and adored, you also want to take the lead, and make things happen in your relationship. Since the world is a stage to you, fun and excitement are part of your repertoire. You take chances whereromance is concerned, since losing is just not you.
Your Passion Sign
Your passion sign is Gemini
You are a master of glib-talk, and this point scores over the rest to
win your beloved over. You also possess an insatiable curiosity, and are always ready to experiment in your relationship. You are extremely versatile, and your multiple interests are forever expanding. You are very open to new experiences and mental challenges, and are capable of directing your energies for cerebral searches. You are blessed with a clear wit, and this helps ease out many sticky situations. You excel at asserting yourself through language, enabling you to talk your way into and out of any situation. As a lover, you are experimental, interesting, energetic and fun. An intellectually active partner would be
perfect for you
You in Relationships
You are the life of any relationship, and a courtship with you will rarely prove dull. You need to be lavished with attention, but can also do that in return. You need a lover who can keep up with you match your wits. If boredom creeps into the relationship, you look for greener pastures. You need a partner who can understand your needs and give you the attention you need.
Are you in Love?
You are a natural leader in the love dance. You will want to rule, but you also want to be admired, which makes for a relationship filled with tension. But your generous and giving nature makes certain that a lover will feel special. You make your beloved run in circles, while finding out answers to questions related to your relationship. Love is an attractive state for you, and you surely do love the chase.
You emit a great physicality, heat and ardour, when the timing is just right. You crave for action, and anyone who makes the right moves will get noticed. The right kind of approach makes you a confident lover.You are the happiest when a partner tells you how wonderful the relationship is. As your gracious gift, you will tell your partner just how
much that compliment meant!
What You Need
You love being fawned over. Being a devoted sort, you will return this gesture in kind, making a partner feel special indeed. Someone who exudes class and remembers that it's nothing but the best will score points with you. You are giving and devoted, and live for the pleasures that life can bring. One of these is being in the limelight, where you believe you truly belong.
You must know
What you should do:
Think of new ways to praise the Leo every single day. The Lion loves to bask in the glory of praise.
The Leo will rule the roost, so learn to be submissive. Pretend you like it!
Laugh at the Lion's jokes. The Leo has a wonderful sense of humour, and will keep you entertained.
Show the Leo how important they are to you.
Be prepared for surprise gifts to be showered on you on a daily basis.
What you should not do:
Don't make plans, unless the Lion has a place in them. Or be prepared for them to sulk in the corner.
Try and pull the Leo vanity down in public. The Leo ego will be bruised, and this is not very good news!
Don't take charge of a situation. The Leo knows he is boss, and would not like to share the spotlight with anyone, not even you.
Don't challenge the Leo vanity. The Lion's ego is fragile, and has to be handled with care.
Don't insist on sharing honours with a Leo. The spotlight is theirs and
Is it hot in here, or is it just me?
well ain't dat a bitch??? i'm a self-absorbed sex freak!
no really, i do love sex and i do love me (especially when i've got a fresh set of batteries), but when i fall in love with a brotha, WATCH OUT! it's funny, i always gravitated towards aries guys, even though they exhibited alot of the same qualities (good and bad) that i do. meanwhile, those relationships never lasted! maybe what they say is true...NEVER date someone like you, cuz it's like arguing with yourself, which means the argument NEVER ENDS. one day i'll figure that out...
the only person i would want attention from is my man. if he gives me that, i'll give him all of my love and devotion without a second thought.
i woke up at about 7:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. what's the point of taking a day off when i can't even sleep in?!? despite that momentary lapse into "responsible adulthood", i found my inner child and woke her up so we could check out the cartoon network. boy, but that channel is crappy during the morning. looney tune babies? that show will NEVER, EVER touch the brilliance that was the muppet babies. i remember watching that as a kid and wondering why they needed diapers when i never saw them go to the bathroom on the muppet show. in fact, kermit never wore clothes, so why was it suddenly important that the frog wear a diaper?
now that i think back on it, gonzo was a really freaky muppet. he was getting it on with hens for heaven sakes! wasn't that some kind of cross-species kinda screwing? gonzo wasn't a rooster! why didn't they find him a gonzette or something?
and those two guys up in the seats overlooking the stage were SO gay! think about it...they never brought dates, always had bitchy comebacks, and they were two men who had lifetime tickets to the muppet show. i ain't mad at it, though. i mean, sesame street had already covered that territory with ernie and bert. i won't even talk about them sharing a bath together....
yeah, so the looney tune babies cartoon was boring as hell. after that, i just sat at the computer working on some wedding maps for a couple of clients. i can't believe folks are actually paying me to do this, cuz i'm having so much fun creating them. then again, it's not like i'm paying off car notes with the amount i'm charging them. it's a nice gig for the little bit of downtime i get in between the jobs and school.
after a couple hours of that, i worked on some femtech stuff. i'm currently on the lookout for some t-shirts with the femtech logo on it and finding a printer who'll print our fundraising calendars. there are some straight up trife businessfolk here in atlanta. nobody returned my email inquiries. if i could print the calendars myself i would.
oh yeah, i did peep a few minutes of the maury povich show. i swear that guy only talks about five things: who's the baby's daddy, wierd looking couples, women who should leave their domineering men, is that a man or a woman, and/or secret crushes. first off, where does he find these people?!? if i'm a teenager who has slept with a bunch of guys and i don't know who the father of my child is, i'm not getting on national television so everyone can see just how many folks dipped their pen in my inkwell. i remember this one girl who after like seven tests still hadn't found the father of her child. what da hell? sista...babygirl...pumpkin...just let it go. you ain't gonna find that brotha now. take care of your kid and KEEP DA LEGS CLOSED. I CAN SMELL THE TRAIL OF SEMEN FROM HERE!
right now i'm working on some more poetry, but this time i'm gonna digitally tell a story. i got the idea from the village challenge. angelique (mah gurl!) wrote this beautiful poem i'm sure was inspired by her fiance'. it's amazing how love (or lust for that matter) can unlock all kinds of beautiful imagery within one's mind. i'm currently working under the lust inspiration, so the words have been flowing from me like milk from a busted carton.
i'll probably post a poem in a couple of hours...
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Just the vision of him as the light fragments into slivers before dancing like silver pebbles across the surface of his caramel skin is enough to leave me reeling from the feeling of wanting him
And I almost despise the size of my grin as it doubles in volume when I see his form walk into a room
I've tried disguising the desire, but it burns through my being like a five alarm fire charring my body from follicle to feet
I=ve ended all attempts at being discreet
With white flag in hand, I signal defeat to the realization that the sensations permeating through me are a direct result of his creation
This brotha got me hoping like a homeless person who just pulled a lotto ticket from a trash bag on the curb
So absurd how easily he can disperse of the negative thoughts that lay like tumors on my spirit with swift incisions of uplifting scripts that clarify my future missions
He adds the strokes of brilliant color to my mental canvas of black and blue
Brushing hues of rosy views to banish bleak news that used to invade in parades across my horizon
His indigo groove is found in each stanza expanding from my fingers
To land on paper in infinite tribute to the beauty he's brought to my world
His love lingers like midnight caresses in everything I doThat's why I'm blessed with spoken word, triggered by his every move
Monday, April 25, 2005
DAMN. i'm straight up addicted to him.
this totally fucking sucks.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
here are members of femtech, the program I coordinate for girls from underserved communities. here we're having a discussion of rap lyrics and their affect on the black community. nikki did an experiment where she turned on a rap video and put it on mute, so the girls could focus their attention on how women were being portrayed in the video. it's amazing what you notice when you're not distracted by the beat or lyrics. when we asked the girls how the women were being depicted in the video, they all said they looked like prostitutes. meanwhile, these are the same videos they watch day after day. did they even notice this before we did the experiment?
the message here wasn't to bash the rap artists. in fact, it's the fault of both the artist and the women who made the choice to be in those videos. i could expound all day long on how our patriarchial society has created an environment where many women feel powerless to say no when faced with the choice of being negatively depicted in videos. however, that wouldn't be totally accurate. while it goes without saying that women by and large are objectified in the media, ultimately the power to choose or not to choose to do those things does lie within us.
when i see those videos, i see how folks have made the choice to believe in their own powerlessness. those particular rap artists say they're doing it because that's what the fanbase wants. the fanbase wants it because those rap artists make it seem like it's an appealing lifestyle. maybe i give those rap artists too much credit when i assume they're in the music biz because they want to express themselves creatively, regardless of who buys it. they DO care, and i think they care too fucking much. maybe money has been their motivation all along and the image of black folks means little in that scenario.
then there are the women in those videos who believe that kind of exposure is the only way they can "make it" in show biz. or maybe they want to be objectified. i don't think it's as simple as labeling those women as victims of a patriarchial society. i mean, women shouldn't be punished because they're sexual beings. they shouldn't be seen as victims simply because they've made the choice to use their sexuality in such a way. but is it really their choice? did they walk into the office of the casting director and tell the person they want to show as much t and a as possible? did they tell the cd they wanted to shake their asses and pour themselves over the guys in the videos? did the directors of these videos initially have the idea of having all of the women wearing nun habits and stand in back of the rap artists like frozen popsicle sticks?
i seriously doubt it.
i think there is a fine line between the empowerment of expressing one's sexuality and allowing others to exploit that sexuality and unfortunately, i think the rap industry has done a poor job of being respectful about it. the fact that the majority of its fans are young and vulnerable to the messages put forth by those images makes the responsibility of adequately depicting women in all of our facets doubly important.
as a consumer, what i can do is continue to support those artists who do a good job of it and boycotting those who don't.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
here i am today after a long day at work. i look and feel really sleepy. i was supposed to go to my little cousin's game tonight, but i couldn't make it. getting up in the morning to work out makes me sleepy way before my bedtime. it'll be worth it in the end, though.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
his name is lamount and he's my little cousin. i was there when he was born and i've made a point of being in his life despite the fact that his father (my first cousin) hasn't seen him since he was a toddler. he's now eleven years old.
every now and again he spends the night at my house and we play video games until the wee hours of the morning. last time he stopped by, we played madden '05, nba live '05, ssx 3, tekken tag-team, and ncaa football 2005 from around 8 p.m. until around 4 a.m. i'm getting tired just thinking about it. he beat me most of the time, but that's because he had created either a super team or a super player who couldn't be defeated. i tried to tell him he wasn't learning how to beat his opponents with strategy because he had the unstoppable teams. needless to say, he didn't really give a damn what i was saying. he just liked the fact that he was whupping me for a change.
it's so funny, cuz my ego was taking a bashing. on the one hand, i didn't want to lose to this kid. on the other hand, he was so happy after each win. a few times when he tried to talk trash i had to laugh, cuz he's still a kid so he doesn't really know what "talking trash" is.
there are times when i look at him and feel his vulnerability as a black boy growing up in america. it's at those times when i want to hold him close and tell him nobody will ever hurt him or treat him wrong because his big cousin has his back. then i realize all i can do is hope he develops the strength necessary to fight against any weapon held against him. i love him as if he were my own son. i don't think it's even possible to love another person in the world more than i love lamount.
that little boy is gonna grow up and change the world for the better. he's already brightened my world just by being in it.
in the meanwhile, i've gotta take him to the batting cage, cuz he struck out twice during this game and it looks like he hasn't developed the patience to wait for his pitch yet.
btw, his team won 6-3 and is undefeated so far.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
your caresses of crests
in the curves of my pages
your breath as it whispers
across my hushed surfaces
your fingers that linger
within the chasms
of my corners
the binding of
my spine cupped
in your palm
as your eyes
Monday, April 18, 2005
most times i am compelled to stitch up the gash before the end of the blood letting, my limbs left bloated from the retention of words swimming in furious dissention within me. however, the ache of refusing to answer the illness of forced silence with emergency censuring is hardly ever easier to bear than baring my soul.
so i sit here, the untrained surgeon with scalpel in hand, not really eager to begin the process of revealing my thoughts to the world. i can only hope with each successive laceration i am left with a scar that is easier in healing than the last.
Dreamed of you this morning,
Then came the dawn and ,
I thought that you were here with me,
If you could only see how much I love you,
You'd wanna trust me
Oh in my dream I was loving you
Every place that you wanted me to
Since I believe in dreams and fantasies and things
I want to make love to you right now baby
hooo, I got a real strong need to love you everywhere
I won't stop until I find your passion flowing like wine
Baby, baby please let me do it to you
(Although) I never gave up no head before
but there's always the first you know
So I made up my mind soon I'll be loving you
That's all --I've rested up baby, I've made up my mind
Soon I'll be loving, girl I know what I'm gonna do
I can't wait to touch you
and give you that feelin'
eat you up my dear
so that your mood will be revealed, and
Baby, and soon as I know I've got you willin'
I'm gonna give you some head baby
I'm a knock you right up woman
I'm gonna to give you some head, suga I know what to do
I want to give you some head ah you big fine woman
Soon, I'm gonna let you get it, cause I know just what to do with it
Ah I'm gonna give the ultimate love baby the ultimate love baby
Don't you know I can handle you
Soon, soon, soon I'll be loving you oh Janice
Ah, hah! Yes, you're so fine
Oh how I love you, ahh oow!
DANG MARVIN! i was reading a review of the album i want you and evidently marvin recorded the entire album with his wife there watching him. now i can see what inspired him to say what he said.
it's amazing how love inspires the creative soul.
now i know brotha marvin was a bit freaky, but would he really say that?? i mean, they keep repeating it until the end of the song! and nowhere on line can i find the lyrics for the song that includes the background chorus. this is gonna burn my brain until i figure out what they were saying.
if that's what they're saying then marvin was off da chain. that's all i gotta say.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
in other news, i met up with some of my family members yesterday to finalize stuff for our family reunion in july. we're having it here in atlanta, which is cool. however, i can feel the strains of something insincere within our efforts.
the feeling started when i got to my cousin tony's house yesterday afternoon. the one thing i kept hearing was how "the georgia connection" was gonna do the family reunion up big, making it the most spectacular reunion yet. i was cringing from the inside when i heard this. the thing i hold most precious regarding family reunions is the time spent meeting new relatives and getting reacquainted with old ones. whenever i'm in the presence of my family, i'm keenly aware of the journey of each generation, and how their steps created the paths for my generation and those after mine.
so to me, it's not about putting on the best show. it's about making it the most meaningful moments possible. it's about establishing traditions that will be carried forth by those afterwards. it's about honoring the struggles of our elders and engaging in discussion on how past mistakes can be avoided by younger folk in the future.
in other words, i was totally out of place at that meeting.
i suggested to tony that we put together a living legacy video. have all of the family members over the age of 80 sit down for a discussion before the camera. i felt this would be a great opportunity to engage them within the events of the family reunion and not relegate them to merely royalty observing from the sidelines. at first, he didn't like the idea. it wasn't until someone else said it was a good idea that he changed his mind.
it was at that moment i realized the family reunion in his mind wasn't about family at all, and that saddened me. it made me think back to a time when black families were forcibly torn apart. moms and dads weren't in the same household as their children or their spouses for that matter. they were torn away and sent away to plantations where they didn't know anybody. yet despite this, the black community remained close, as folks adopted other folk as family, finding solace in the communion of people in the same situation as them. no matter if the blood connected them, the struggle did. family was really important back then.
and now i'm part of a family where it seems the young folk don't care about the legacy. maybe i'm just being overly cynical, especially after that meeting, but i can't shake the feeling that all of the shit our ancestors went through is being wasted somehow. it seems ridiculous they would fight so hard so that later generations would de-value the importance of history and its part in how the present is shaped. they didn't fight for human rights so that we could turn around and place little importance on our interaction with each other.
the meeting yesterday was little more than an exercise in pettiness. folks were bitching about the lack of communication from other family members, bitching about how nobody was stepping up to assist in the planning of the reunion. bitching about the limitations of the contract with the hotel, the paltry menu selections, the limited amenities, etc. that shit was getting on my nerves. it took everything in me not to just walk out.
now this isn't to say i don't understand how necessary it is to have those things taken care of. however, my main concern was making sure the family reunion wasn't just a gathering of individuals at a place and handing them a list of activities, none of which would do anything in the way of bringing the family closer together.
i was the youngest member there, and i felt that generation gap. i felt like they were looking at me like i was a nusance, bringing up the "inconsequential" ideas like a living legacy video and a family quilt.
i felt alone in a room full of people and that disturbed me, yet i'm not sure how to go about fixing it. i can't instill within them the value of family. they're all grown folk. all i can hope to do is throw in my two cents and hope they land in the hands of someone who shares the same feelings i do.
i've got some work to do.
it'll be a little tough because i always feel vulnerable after that kind of exposure, but i keep reminding myself that this is necessary surgery. i'm bringing my camera, so of course i'll post photos of what went down.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
of a mint of sun-stroked gold
stretching smooth like soothing music
telling stories once untold
her hair was long, black rivulets
spilt like onyx folds
to land upon her shoulders
like an anger uncontrolled
her voice rang proud and brassy
loud and sassy notes of bold
the burning ice of salsa
scars forever with her scold
her beauty is unparalleled
from her they broke the mold
and left all us mere mortals
a stunning vision to behold
jessica, i'm still working on it, but here's rough draft! i've actually been inspired by a few folks from arizona, so i've got alot more writing to do!
Friday, April 15, 2005
i'm just gonna have to write it outta me, cuz to contemplate the possibility of it is to torture myself needlessly.
i'm waiting behind another car as she tries to inch her way into traffic. i close my eyes, cuz i just got lost in a melody and i can feel it saturating my bones. i open my eyes to see her pull out and i look to the left to make find my opening. my foot is put on the gas and BANG!
i hit the car in front of me!
she had pulled out and at the last minute decided to stop. i didn't realize it until it was too late.
her honda civic ends up with a dent in the bumper. meanwhile my monster truck honda crv doesn't have a scratch on it. it's invincible!
we exchange information and i come home, no music on, my nerves rattled, and decide to forgo the trip to the gym i had planned for after work. i'm gonna blame it on the salsa music, damnit.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
basically, o'neal said that the act of putting an age requirement on the nba was racist because while other leagues allow high school graduates to enter their ranks, the nba is the only one considering an age requirement. he thinks the fact that the league is predominantly black has something to do with it.
the guy i'm debating with is basically coming from the standpoint of "those guys are making millions of dollars, so why is one of them saying anything about racism?!?"
you know, cuz being a black multi-millionaire means never experiencing racism ever again. if i had rolled my eyes any further, i'd have given myself whiplash.
as an nba fan, i have noticed the level of play deteriorate in that it has become a game dominated by a bunch of young guys who are not nearly as fundamentally sound as those from previous eras. remember when the league was full of seasoned brothas? i remember that time, too. a guy like shaq would have been duking it out in the paint with karl malone and akeem olajawon. in fact, the paint was crowded with big bodies, and i'm talking about the big bodies of grown ass men who not only knew how to play, but also understood the significant part strategy played in how a game was won or lost.
i'm not seeing that now. i think the moment i realized how much the professional game had changed was during the nba championship last year. on one end, we've got a team with two really talented guys, one of whom was a young cat who had no problem with letting his ego lose a game for his team. the other one a dominating force in the paint who stayed injured and didn't possess the competitive spirit necessary for him to stay in shape and play to his best ability. watching the lakers was frustrating to me. they had all the talent and despite the coach's strategy, the players did whatever da hell they wanted to do.
and on the other end was a team full of guys, none of whom was a star or felt it was "his" team. all brown had to do was get the brothas to believe in his game plan. they did, and the rest is history.
no amount of talent can make up for the lack of an effective strategy or humility needed to just play to win, even if a brotha don't score any points.
okay, i just started rambling, so let me rein myself in. the point i am trying to make is that the nba has changed, and it's not necessarily for the better, and alot of it has to do with the influx of high school players into the league.
all that said, i feel if a brotha is old enough to die for his country, he can play in the nba. in a utopian society, the pursuit of an education could be prioritized over the pursuit of money. however, here in reality the socioeconomic inequality existing in america and perpetuated by the glorification of material gain over personal growth has created the scenario of teenagers reaching for the money.
and while as a fan i'm not happy about it, i'm not gonna stop that show. it's their right.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
here are the flamenco dancers i was talking about. very beautiful and they moved like molten lava, burning the stage with their sensual movements. no wonder amon and jonathan were mesmerized! hell, i was too!
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here is amon and jonathan from boston. you can barely make them out, but that's cuz the big weiner takes up so much of the photo. this photo confirms that a brainy guy DOES have a big weiner.
i gotta talk about the long ass trek we embarked on trying to find the spot jonathan had his heart set on going to. we started off at the front desk asking folks there for directions. we should have realized immediately that the place jonathan spoke of was a non-existent figment of his imagination, cuz nobody had heard of the spot or knew how to get to the street it was on. so being the adventurous intel folk we are, we decided to just start walking in the general direction of the restaurant, figuring we'd trip over it eventually. well, needless to say, "eventually" turned out to be "never", cuz we were walking for about fifteen minutes before we realized the place was nowhere we'd be able to get to. we ended up walking in a large circle, ending up at a tapas spot RIGHT BEHIND THE HOTEL.
you know what, though? i enjoyed every moment of it, cuz the air was crisp, the sky was a beautiful dark blue, and i love walking around exploring new territory.
i really enjoyed the dinner with these two. i found out that amon has an easy laugh and a quick wit, while jonathan is very pensive and family oriented. i have to say though, with all of the fun i had at the conference, i was starved for some thought-provoking conversation, so i was hoping for more discussion in that vein. that's aiight. i shouldn't have expected them to be in that mindset just cuz i was. i did learn a little about both of them, though. i learned they both have a weak spot for flamenco dancers!
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here's the cutest couple at the conference, paul/miami and andrea/dc. okay, so they weren't an OFFICIAL couple, but damnit, i tried.notice how beautiful her smile is! i loved hearing her laugh. it was like being surrounded by bubbles with audio. she really was mad cool and i didn't get to hang with her nearly enough!
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here's jeff trying to actually eat sushi with one chopstick. now i know we're all supposed to be technically knowledgeable, but i don't know of any way to accomplish this task. the brotha gets an "a" for trying, though. DAMN that was some good sushi. thanks to jessica for recommending the las vegas roll, cuz it was DA BOMB!
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here's tracy/new york, jessica/arizona, and paul/virginia. how come i've got so many photos of this guy??? then again, he IS cute. i've actually known tracy for about four years (through my brother). we found out right before the conference that we'd be both be attending the same conference in arizona! it is indeed a SMALL WORLD.
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do these guys look like clubhouse coordinators or what?
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FUCK ALEX! no, that's an inside joke. you had to be there...that's alex/east palo alto, malcolm/east palo alto, omar/los angeles, a guy in a green and white shirt, adetunji/chelsea, a woman in a blue shirt, and paul/virginia. i'm so sorry i don't know the name of everybody in this photo, but my memory is crappy. i do good to remember MY name half the time.
this was the last day of the conference and folks were feeling a little down. we were sitting by the pool when someone decided to go get the beer and liquor. we were sitting there chilling, drinking our beers when someone from the hotel came out and told us we couldn't have bottles by the pool. that sucked, but i had to laugh when i witnessed just how fast people can finish off drinks so they wouldn't have to throw them away.
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here's jessica/arizona and adetunji/chelsea. jessica worked her ass off the entire week, taking care of all of us. i can't thank her enough for all of her generosity and humor. she truly had me laughing damn near every moment i was with her! oh, she doesn't take any shit, either. adetunji is from ghana, but is a coordinator in massachusetts. he's planning a trip to africa for next year, so i've got some saving to do...
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here's malcolm. notice his nice legs (i know i sure did!)
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okay, so i know this picture sucks, but i forgot to put the flash on. i know a few in this photo. starting from third from the left, paul/arizona, the tall light-skinned guy is amon/boston, then marlon/boston, and kristen/san francisco. marlon was very focused throughout the entire conference, so i didn't see him much. amon is a grad student who actually thought it was a good idea to finish up his thesis at the conference! i think he finished it, too. he gets an "a" for dedication and determination.
this was at the phoenix zoo, and if you remember correctly (which i barely do cuz i was a little tipsy), it was an open bar for a couple of hours, so you KNOW we took advantage of that!
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here's kristin/san francisco and chris/miami. kristin's room was THE room to be in if you wanted to hang out and talk to folks while listening to some great music! on one of the nights, i coaxed a couple of the coordinators into reading some of their poetry. that's when i found out both malcolm and aaron from colorado had the gift for the written word.
i think kristin was in the jacuzzi every day. i think chris has a photo with damn near every woman at the conference, cuz that's what playas do.
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Not long ago I met this woman at a concert. We were chatting, flirting a lot, and trying to get to know each other. She asked me what kind of music I liked. I said, “Jazz, blues, hip-hop, gospel… If it’s Black music, I’m with it.” Almost immediately she broke out laughing. When I asked her what was so funny, she said, “You said ‘Black music’. There’s no such thing as ‘Black music’. Music is universal.”
I walked away thinking about what she said. And over time as I saw more and more non-Blacks co-opting and claiming fashion, language and musical styles that came out of the Black community, I realized something: Blackness no longer belongs to Black people.
Blackness has been extracted, harvested, distilled and repackaged for mass consumption. And for the most part, it’s being bought, sold, defined and produced with little or no involvement from Blacks. If Blackness were a government, Blacks would be its figureheads with the real power held by others.
Now from what I’ve seen in society and the marketing worlds, Blackness goes thru 7 stages of extraction.
1. “What’s that?” Outsider recognition.
2. “Oh, that’s just some thing ‘they’ do/are.” Here, “it” and those connected to “it” are ridiculed and devalued.
3. “Hmmm, ‘it’ looks interesting -- bet I can do it/use ‘it’.” They covet.
4. “This could be profitable for ‘us’.” Then comes greed.
5. “This isn’t yours, it’s ‘ours’ -- it’s ‘universal’.” Then it’s taken, co-opted, redefined and commoditized.
6. “What happened? IT was so much better back when WE started it…” IT loses its cool cache as revisionist history and selective memory takes hold.
7. “What’s next?” Now it’s back to the ‘hood to see what else the natives are cooking up.
What am I talking about? Take jazz for example. Today, jazz is called “American Classical music.” The face of jazz is primarily non-Black: Norah Jones, Kenny G., Dianna Krall and others. Beyond the Marsalis family, our most popular Black jazz musicians Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday are all dead.
But when it began in the Black community, jazz, along with blues and R&B, was slurred together as “nigger music” and “race music” by White America. It wasn’t until white musicians like Benny Goodman, The Andrew Sisters, Bing Crosby, the Dorsey Brothers and others started doing their versions of jazz, did jazz become acceptable -- and even then it was mainly the white musicians who got credit for their artistry and innovations.
By most accounts, Blackness is now dangling somewhere between stages 5 and 6. The job of the music business is to maintain Level 5 as long as possible, because once stage 6 hits, it’s a wrap. Blackness will get flipped into a VH1 special. And maybe, say 10 years from now, it’ll become “kitschy” or “retro hip” and the same forces that wrecked it in the first place will return to start the cycle all over again.
I take your culture and sell it back to you!
—Danny Hoch (1)
Hip-hop is easily the most obvious case of cultural extraction in recent memory. As of 2004, hip-hop generates an estimated $10 billion-a-year in music, fashion, art, entertainment, and cross-marketing ventures (2). In 2003, Soundscan noted that the hip-hop, R&B and urban genres accounted for nearly 40% of all albums sold (3). And according to market research firm NPD Group, hip-hop and R&B CDs alone made $1 billion in 2003, lead mainly by Eminem and 50 Cent (4). (In 2004, Usher, Fiddy, Ludacris, L’il John, and Jay-Z were industry leaders.) There are an estimated 45 million hip-hop consumers between ages 13 and 34, 80 percent of whom are white (5). According to SLMG’s research, this group has $1 trillion in spending power (6).
Now let’s go to the supply side of the equation: Over 96% of America’s major radio stations, national magazines and TV stations are white-owned, while 100% of the major chain retailers and distributors (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Tower, FYE, Virgin, Circuit City, Amazon, etc.) that carry Black music are owned by non-Blacks. Lastly, let’s factor in the still near-systemic lack of diversity on Wall Street, in Hollywood and Madison Avenue, all which create the images, ideas, brands and perspectives that shape America’s pop culture and consumer landscape.
What you’re left with is an environment where Blackness, from look to style to content, is shaped mainly by non-Black marketers, manufacturers, and retailers catering to the tastes of primarily non-Black consumers.
In the beginning, hip-hop was born of Black with some Hispanic and indigenous tribal expressions -- just as blues, funk, R&B, soul, gospel, house, jazz, and rock & roll were. But just as happened with Black artforms and generations past, cultural extraction cut, scratched and crossfaded those art forms into “white” (rock & roll, alternative, punk) or “universal” (jazz, funk, techno, blues) ones. Why? Because in each instance mainstream America decided it preferred a version of Blackness it could shape, own and most importantly control. And everyone from consumers to artists to manufacturers to marketers saw the value in engineering that extraction. And so it began...
In the case of hip-hop, labels abandoned certain Black artists in favor of “less-threatening” ones. Artists with an Afro-centric/pro-Black bent such as X-Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, Rakim, Paris, and Queen Latifah were downplayed and pushed to the side in favor of acts with more “crossover” appeal like Run-DMC, MC Hammer, De La Soul, Salt & Pepa, Fresh Prince, and Young Black Teenagers.
Then, video channels and radio stations and magazines, craving mainstream advertising dollars and audiences, joined in by reviewing rap albums and covering more hip-hop-related stories. Traditionally white channels such as MTV (who wouldn’t even play Black artists thru the mid 80s) launched “Yo MTV Raps!” and ultimately bought The BoX, which was beating MTV in many markets due to its huge cache of videos by young Black music artists.
Next, the FCC jumped in by putting the screws to “urban” artists via various indecency hearings, fines, etc. Hollywood and Madison Avenue joined in by reflecting and promoting what mainstream consumers wanted to see from Black artists and Black life. Non-blacks (Vanilla Ice, 3rd Base, NSYNC, House of Pain, Beastie Boys, Michael Bolton, Christina Aguilera, BackStreet Boys, Britney Spears, Expose, Lighter Shade of Brown, etc.) began making their own “Black music,” bringing their version of Blackness to bear.
Certain Black artists and industry insiders joined in, too. Hustlers got into the game. So did pimps and whores. And before you knew it, Blackness had become a product and an industry for mass consumption.
And now that hip-hop -- and by extension Blackness -- has become “global youth culture,” my generation has put its stamp on the age-old, perennially marketable and comforting myth of Blackness as something you can “experience” your way into thru participation and imitation. Or you can own and control it through co-option, purchases and majority rules. It’s almost like a new brand of beer: “Blackness: all of Black people’s flavor but with none of the fattening calories and carbs of Black folks’ melanin, heritage, pain and struggle.”
But how does all of this affect Black Americans and Black folks worldwide? For starters, Black artists are under constant pressure to crossover (reach white consumers). As a result they have to tailor their image and their content to fit whatever non-Blacks want to see and hear. Black music celebrates niggers, biches, hoes, strippers, drug dealers and such because Black music’s 80% non-Black consumer base demands it, while Black music’s 90-100% white corporate manufacturing/marketing/ media/ distribution infrastructure churns it out.
Again, don’t sleep on the consumer portion of this story because despite the growing number of high-powered minorities (Stan Lathan, Sean Combs, Tom Burrell, Earl Graves, Jr., Ann Fudge, Cathy Hughes, and Ken Chenault), they are ultimately beholden to the same majority consumer base, not to mention the same marketing, media, and entertainment infrastructures. Consequently, many minority professionals end up perpetuating Black myths and stereotypes in order to grow their businesses and further their careers.
The main reason acts like X-Clan and Public Enemy lost a lot of their popularity in America is because white kids got tired of rebelling against their parents and stopped supporting them. At some point while they were chanting, “Fight the Power,” they realized their parents and their community were “the power.”
Today when you see artists like 50 Cent, Nelly, Ludacris, and others painting lyrical pictures of Black men as thugs, drug dealers, and degrading imagery of Black women, they succeed because their 80% non-Black consumer base co-signs it. So far, Ludacris has sold 10 million albums. Fiddy’s "Get Rich or Die Trying" moved 11 million. If all the Black music consumers boycotted these two artists, Luda would still have sold around 8 million while 50’s last disc would’ve moved a little over 9 million, simply due to the fact that 80% of their audience is not Black.
When people have little or no say in how they define themselves or constantly have to seek the “approval” and acceptance of those outside their community, they are living under a form of mental slavery and cultural colonialism. How free are you when you need someone else’s approval and acceptance just to be what you are? What is Black music, Black style, Black fashion, Black heritage if non-Blacks are the authorities on it?
So what’s the solution to the extraction? Let’s start with getting non-Black “urban culture” consumers to take responsibility for their part in the extraction. Then, maybe we’ll have a shot at stopping it. And until they do, the extraction saga will continue. Same as it ever was.
just some food for thought. i'll have more to say on this once i've collected my thoughts into the brown paper bag called my mind.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
but isn’t everybody?
perfection is but the erection
of an impossible dream
forever past my grasp
like the highest leaf
on the longest branch
of the tallest tree
i watched that leaf come to being
an emerald unfurling from
it’s momma’s fingers
into a brassy being of
and realized only
nature is perfect
but it’s perfection lies in the
absence of standards
established in its world
we view its imperfections
as simply different degrees of brilliance
not a mistake put forth
by the hands of its creator
we are all molded by the
those same loving fingers
so why is it when i look into the mirror
i am reminded that deficiencies exist?
the evolution of our intelligence
has cursed us with a mind’s eye
focused on our inner cracks as fractures
shattering a previously unblemished vision
instead of acknowledging the breaks
as intended incisions carefully
carving us into
unique structures ofvulnerability and strength
we remember the scars
yet forget that while stars
reflect the light of the sun
their shine can’t be seen without shadow
i return to the simplicity of myself
i am of nature
i am that leaf
unfolding my coffee curves
with courageous grace
to stand expanded and exposed
to the eyes of all
and upon reflection
i see perfection
found because of my flaws
i was inspired by rick james, a brotha who simply lived life the best way he could. his death again made me think of how important it is to recognize the beauty in everything, as life is too short to wait for "perfection" to show itself to me.
Monday, April 11, 2005
anybody have skills with photoshop or any other software that will fix these crappy photos?
this is the main crew i hung out with while in arizona. from the left...lawrence, chris from chicago, jeff, chris from miami, and paul from miami. each one of them had unique and positive attributes. lawrence is a spiritually connected, naturally funny guy. chris/chicago is sensitive, thoughtful, talks about sports as much as i do, and has very beautiful eyes. jeff is quick with a laugh and very intelligent, chris/miami is a funny playa, and paul is not only flat out hilarious, he's a gifted artist and very sweet. lucky for these brothas, i was around to hang with them, cuz they needed someone to check them every once in a while.
here is paul from virginia, some guy i don't know, and malcolm from cali. paul and i worked out at the gym almost every morning. he's a cool cat with a dry sense of humor. malcolm is a really great poet with alot of anger in him, although in this photo i caught him flashing his beautiful smile for one of the very few times during the conference...
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here's a photo of paul/arizona and a sista from one of the new york computer clubhouses. i forgot her name, but she was really cool. paul was definitely a unique brotha to say the least.
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here's a better photo of jeff and chris/miami. too bad i couldn't have gotten a photo of chris/chicago's face after his beloved illinois had their asses handed to them.
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everyone's waiting on the birthday girl brenda to come down so we can get a piece of that delicious looking cake. after a couple of bites of it, i realized the cake looked a whole lot better than it tasted.
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this is from the conference welcome later in the night. i was a little nervous about meeting everybody, but it turned out to be cool. the first cat i met that night was chris. he's from chicago and a big illinois fan. too bad my unc squad had to put the beatdown on his team. i'll show photos from that night later...
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this is the beautiful view we had from our patio. go ahead...you can envy us now. i won't be mad atcha...
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my roommate nikki is checking out the features of the hotel while i'm snapping a candid. check out the private patio! this would have been perfect if i had gotten that cabana boy i requested...
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surely, this can't be our room! plush bed, plush pillows and all the ammenities a girl could ask for (then again, a cabana boy was missing from the wish list, so they got it 99% right)
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first day in arizona and i'm greeted by a round mound of earth
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the low hum of the computer in the background reminds me of the sensual song of the crickets chirping fervently in the darkness, calling to their mates with come hither insistence. i can still feel the remnants of a quiet breeze gliding across my skin like the soft lashes framing sleepy eyes. my mind is forever moved to a place of tranquility, taking residence in a land of fantasy where each intake of breath is a cleansing of the soul.
it is this place i run to in my dreams at night. the same place where i find myself in the arms of my love.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
onyx knowledge of my form
your gaze excites my grace reborn
lingering like pliant fingers in my skin
igniting fires burning everything within
its in your voice
liquid longing low and vibrant
tremors woven through the silent
question carved upon your lips
answered invite in my swayed hips
its on your mind
unwinding thoughts of intertwined design
images of bodies supine
limbs extended, curved and clenched
fragrant, fervent, blurred and drenched
-end- (for now)
written during a trip to arizona last week.