Thursday, June 01, 2006

An Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey

Dear Oprah,
      You need to leave the white boys alone. Jonathan Franzen turned his nose up at you and your audience, pandering to literary elites and saltine hipsters who envy your media power and snicker at your audience. He snubbed your recommendation by hoisting himself above you. Above you, Oprah. Asshole. And James Frey… Wow. But the smack-down you gave Frey on your show – tossing your most bone-straight white-girl weave (nice choice), and mean-mugging your hardest, “Muhfucka, please… I will fuck you up” facial expressions. Much respect. Rwanda, or Rolonda… Whatever her name was, could’ve never pulled that shit off.
      Oprah, middle-aged white women love me and I love them. Well, I can learn. I will learn. I would never disrespect you or them. And, Oprah, there are no lies in my new book, Blood Beats Vol. 1: Demos, Remixes and Extended Versions (Red Bone Press; $19.95). There are no passages lifted wholesale from other books. (I am many things. An overachiever is not one of them.) I will submit to urine tests, blood samples and semen analysis. Stool samples available on request. Whatever it takes to prove my honesty to you. As a Modern Negro Writer (that’s Latin for whore), I am used to soul-crushing degradation. I’ve written for the Source and for Vibe.
      For real, Oprah. This is who you can trust in this world: Me, Stedman and Gail. Well, me and Gail. How is she? She’s so pretty.
       Make Blood Beats Vol. 1 an Oprah Winfrey book club choice. This boy (below) was unable to walk just a week ago, and look at him now:

      He read the book and was instantly healed. Like one of your Angel Network success stories. And now, he’s the Blood Beats mascot. (He’s legal. We checked his papers.)
      It’s true, I am not a DL-brutha and I wouldn’t fuck Terry McMillan with your dick. I am also not some wealthy closet case peddling hetero-fetishizing, Negro status-quo consecrating, Christian propaganda while dressed in drag and wielding a gun. So, I know that means that I – like most (relatively) sane black men – am completely off your radar. But we do exist. And some of us write books. Some of us even know how to read. Four reel.
      Look, somewhere out there is a long-suffering white girl who is waiting for me – her own, angry, bitter and under-employed Negro writer/lover – to come into her life and treat her badly while she supports me and our three mulatto children: Denzel, Malik and Mariah Finkelstein-Hardy. (Denzel’s jealous of the twins, but fuck it; they got the good hair.) None of this can happen if you don’t hook me up, thrust me in the limelight and start the wheels of fate turning. I am your own creation myth, waiting to happen. Make me.

Much love (and even more heartfelt respect),
Ernest Hardy

Blood Beats Excerpt

Track 6: For the Love of Money (I'll Bee Dat)

      What’s even more depressing than the sight of Tommy Wear blanketing the world (is there much on the planet that’s uglier?) is the way so much contemporary rap conflates life-or-death political inequity and social injustice with the desire to wear designer gear, party with old-money blue bloods in the Hamptons, or bathe in Cristal. Genuine need and market-stoked wants have been fused. A handful of rappers’ newfound ability to shop without end is heralded as radical social change, as the whole point of centuries’ worth of social struggle. Even those still oppressed on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race or class are conned into believing this, to the point that many participate in their own silencing because there’s no profit potential, no strobe-light validation, in serious voicing of their real-life issues. When the late Audre Lorde warned that the master’s house can never be dismantled by using the master’s tools, could she have envisioned a time when there wouldn’t even be a desire to dismantle that house — that, in fact, we would master the tools only to turn them on ourselves in order to protect that same house?

Click here to read the rest.

Blood Beats Table of Contents


xiii  Introduction: Sampled Clips Remixed
01    No Fear:
        Me’Shell NdegéOcello’s Peace by Pieces (08.02.96)
07   Do Thug Niggaz Go to Heaven?
        Tupac Shakur, 1971-1996 (09.20.96)
09   Devil’s Helper:
        Tricky: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (10.04.96)
13    I, Amazon: Queen Latifah Speaks (11.15.96)
15    Nouveau Negro Valentine:
        Having a Jones for Love Jones (03.14.97)
19    Ice Is Nice: Björk (03.21.97)
21    Monsters: Arthur Dong and the Faces of Hate (04.18.97)
23   Thief of Hearts: La Promesse (05.30.97)
25   The Delta (08.15.97)
27   Les Enfants Terrible: Nenette et Boni (10.24.97)
31    Thicker Than Blood: Family Name (10.10.97)
35   Ambersunshower: See Her for Her Beauty (1997)
41   Penal Colony: The Keeper (01.16.98)
43   Last Rites: Mother and Son (02.20.98)
45   Pitted Against the Lizard: Beatty Talks Bulworth, Baptists,
        Boo and the Bullshit of the Bottom Line (03.28.98)
53   Under the Influence: High Art (06.12.98)
55   To Hav and Hav Not: Hav Plenty (06.19.98)
57   Flying High: Do You Remember Disco Heat? (07.03.98)
61   Behind the Mask: A Man Named Rachid (06.26.98)
69  Too Deep: Aretha-Chaka-Lauryn (09.11.98)
75  Ziggy Stardust Memories:
       Todd Haynes’ Heady Film (11.06.98)
79  Home of the Brave: P.M. Dawn (12.25.98)
83  Other Side of the Game:
       Erykah Badu Unlocks the Paradox (12.26.98)
87  Hip-Hop 1998: The Year in Review (12.1998)
93  Homegrrlz: Reclaiming TLC (05.07.99)
97  Les Nubians: Black and White in Color (05.21.99)
109  The Secret Sharer: Following (06.04.99)
111   Like a Virgin: Edge of Seventeen (06.11.99)
115  Darkness Audible:
        An Interview with Me’Shell NdegéOcello (09.10.99)
131  Do You Know Us? Armand Van Helden, Mos Def:
       A Masculine Equation (12.10.99)
137  Howl: Ghost Dog (03.17.00)
141  Naked: D’Angelo (04.07.00)
145  Jock Rockin’: Welcome to the Macho House (08.04.00)
149  Sons and Lovers: Urbania and Human Resources (09.15.00)
153  I, Too, Sing Hollywood:
        Four Women on Race, Art and Making Movies (10.20.00)
173  God Made Them Phunky:
        Outkast: Art, Artifice, Booty and the Beat (11.24.00)
177  Before Night Falls (12.22.00)

bonus disc

181  Punks Jump Up to Get Theirs:
        Homo-hop: A Musical Odyssey
181  Track 1 (Intro): Shake Ya Ass
182  Track 2: Back Dat Thang Up
185  Track 3: And I Ask Myself, How Did You Get Here?
186  Track 4: Sweet Daddy, Break it on Down
190  Track 5: Harvest for the World
192  Track 6: For the Love of Money (I’ll Bee Dat)
194  Track 7: Miss Thing, There Is No Guest List Tonight
195  Track 8: My Emancipation Don’t Fit Your Equation
        (The Et Tu, Nigga? Mix)
198  Track 9: Friends... How Many of Us Have Them?
205  Track 10: Interludinal Skit
206  Track 11:
         Hol’ up, wait a minnit/ Time to put some troof init...
207  Track 12: Ya’ll Gon’ Make Me Lose My Mind
210  Track 13: Brown Skin Lady
211  Track 14: Outro: I Am I Be
217  Outro
221  Coming Attractions
223  About the Author