Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Round-up

Jennifer Hudson... was adequate at best. The sassy, stout black girl being... well, sassy and stout. And sad. But then, sassy again. If we use up all the superlatives on someone who is merely (and often barely) competent, then what is left for those who show true genius? Viola Davis is the truth. Google, ninjas. Jennifer Hudson? A compilation of cultural cliches, pre-fab "realness" and the slightest, most feeble gestures toward a real character. Shit, bring back Halle's titties.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Video of the Day

Yeah, yeah... still on blog hiatus. Just wanted to share this very quickly. I love me some him...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Blog Hiatus / Addendum

Was all set to pull away from the blog for a minute (see post below), then I woke up to the following email from my friend Vaginal Davis, which she gave me permission to share. I'm very happy for her because I know she's been deeply unhappy in LA for a very long time. Los Angeles, contrary to whatever sunshine and glitter rep it has with folks who don't live here (and with the rich folks that do), is a very, very hard and unforgiving place to live. It's only getting more so. I've said it for years and the reality has arrived: We are straight-up Brazil, now. No favelas yet but that rich/poor divide ain't no joke and it's only getting deeper. The grind of living here is especially heavy on ordinary black folks. As I said, I'm happy for Vag but bummed for purely selfish reasons: She was one of the elements made LA cool and fun and interesting in ways that are immeasurable and beyond words. Now, I have to raise the funds to go visit her crazy ass...

Vag's email:

"thanks doll for sending that article from the LA times. I am now permanently based in Berlin Germany, and its things like that which made me leave Los Ang in the first place. Strangely enough i am not missing it one bit, of course i'm sucked into the glamour of the Berlin Film Festival where my installation, Cheap Gossip Studio-Rumourville,is the talk of the Berlinale. They are also screening three of my movies, which i didn't expect since i didn't enter them into the festival, i'm also being deluged with swag by all these companies courting me and just wanting to give me things cuz i'm a woman. nice welcome to my new city, where i have a great apartment. its cold here, but hopefully i'll get use to it. love and kissy kisstata to silverlakey."

Okay, now I am gone til' november. (Naw, just March 15th...)


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blog Hiatus

Manuscript deadline, some other stuff... Blood Beats blog will be on hiatus until March 15th or so. I may post up links to articles I am working on, but no new stuff for a few weeks...


Great Country, Great City...

A swipe from the LA Times:

Paraplegic allegedly 'dumped' on skid row

L.A. police say man was dropped off in front of dozens of witnesses by van linked to Hollywood Presbyterian hospital.
By Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton, Times Staff Writers
February 9, 2007

A paraplegic man wearing a soiled hospital gown and a broken colostomy bag was found crawling in a gutter in skid row in Los Angeles on Thursday after allegedly being dumped in the street by a Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center van, police said.

The incident, witnessed by more than two dozen people, was described by police as a particularly outrageous case of "homeless dumping" that has plagued the downtown area.

"I can't think of anything colder than that," said LAPD Det. Russ Long, who called the case the most egregious of its kind that he has seen in his career. "There was no mission around, no services. It's the worst area of skid row."

Los Angeles Police Department detectives said they connected the van to Hollywood Presbyterian after witnesses wrote down a phone number on the van and took down its license-plate number.

They are questioning officials from the hospital, which the LAPD had accused in an earlier dumping case that is now under investigation.

Witnesses shouted at the female driver of the van, "Where's his wheelchair, where's his walker?"

Gary Lett, an employee at Gladys Park, near where the incident occurred, said the woman driving the van didn't reply, but proceeded to apply makeup and perfume before driving off.

"She didn't make any attempt to help him," Lett said. "He was in bad shape. He was incoherent."

Kaylor Shemberger, executive vice president for Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, said, "Obviously we are very concerned about the information that has been presented to us. We are continuing to investigate the incident. If some of the facts are correct, it is clearly not in line with our policy of handling these types of patients."

When the hospital was previously accused of dumping in 2005, a top executive said the facility takes discharged patients to Los Angeles Mission at their request.

The case comes three months after the L.A. city attorney's office filed the first indictment for homeless dumping against Kaiser Permanente. The charges stem from an incident earlier last year when a 63-year-old patient from Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower medical center was videotaped as she stepped from a taxi in gown and socks and then wandered the streets of skid row.

Los Angeles officials have accused more than a dozen hospitals, as well as some outside law enforcement agencies, of dumping patients and criminals on downtown's troubled skid row. The city attorney's office said it was considering filing charges against several other medical facilities.

Police describe the homeless people who congregate around Gladys Park, in the heart of skid row, as a tough crowd who have seen much and say little.

But there was no shortage of people willing to describe what they saw about 10:45 a.m. Thursday morning, when the white hospital van pulled up several feet from the curb.

"They were lining up to give their story," Long said. "They were collectively appalled. We were as shocked as the homeless folks."

Witnesses told police that the man propped himself up in the door of the van. He then hurled himself from the vehicle, tumbling to the street. He pulled himself along, dragging a bag of his belongings in his clenched teeth.

Police said several people began shouting at the driver, who in addition to applying makeup was more concerned that the seats of the van had been soiled, investigators said.

LAPD Officers Eric de la Cruz and Pernell Taylor said they arrived to find the man being carried out of the street on a chair that had been retrieved from the nearby park offices.

De la Cruz later asked the victim if he had wanted to be dropped off at the location.

"He said he had nowhere else to go, and the hospital staff told him he could no longer stay there," De la Cruz said of the man, who is being treated at County-USC Medical Center.

The LAPD has accused several hospitals of dumping patients on skid row over the last two years, including Kaiser's West Los Angeles hospital, Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center and Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center.

Officials at those hospitals have denied dumping patients, but some said they had taken homeless patients to skid row service providers.

In 2005, at attorney for Hollywood Presbyterian denied that the hospital had dumped patients, but he said skid row service providers offered treatment and care for some patients who had nowhere else to go.

City officials are trying to crack down on crime and blight in the district, which has the largest concentration of homeless people in the western United States. In recent months, a police crackdown has resulted in more than 1,000 arrests and a drop in crime.

Quotes of the Day

"Hip is a herd mentality."
-- Joni Mitchell

"Imagination is more important than knowledge..."
-- Albert Einstein

"It's not the load that breaks you, it's the way you carry it."
-- Old Negro saying

Thursday, February 08, 2007

LA Weekly Valentine's Day Love Song Round-up

Here's my contribution:

Aretha Franklin, “Prove It”

People think Aretha’s genius, the spine of her musical legacy, is the vocal wail that’s released when the head is thrown back, the eyes squeezed shut, and the lungs turned up to 10. But listen to this track from 1967, when the Queen of Soul was just coming into her power, and be reminded of what her true, true talent was. “Prove that it won’t bother me to become your used-to-be / Prove that I can just ignore all the love we shared before...” The opening lines to “Prove It” are perched upon the barely drawn breath, the one it hurts you to take, and that leaves you exhausted. Post-tears distress. The vocals are strong and unwavering, but paradoxically delicate. The beauty and the power of the performance is in the shading, the raw letting of pain. It’s in the lived knowledge of how a broken heart depletes all of you and leaves you wasted. Yes, Miss Franklin does deliver cathartic, pure belting later in the song, and the glorious interplay of lead and backing vocals is the stuff that created soul-boy fanatics around the globe. But what first pulls you into this song is the nakedness and fragility with which she begins. And when the emotional fallout hits, with no-holds-barred blues shouting at the song’s climax, you know this isn’t volume masquerading as passion. It isn’t undisciplined shouting to hide weak lyrics. It’s the distilled sound of loss and grief and a bewildered, tossed-aside lover’s pleas and recriminations. Dear Mary J., please don’t ever cover this... please, please... for real, please. (Ernest Hardy)

For the rest of the article, go here

Anna Nicole Smith

Her obituary was never going to read: Died of natural causes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Bastard Question

“How did we go from calling each other brother to saying, ‘Kill that nigga’?” asks Cle “Bone” Sloan, gang member turned filmmaker, in his documentary Bastards of the Party. Illuminating, frequently infuriating and often depressing, Bastards is an exhaustively researched look at the history and legacies of the Bloods and the Crips. Bone, a 38-year-old former Blood, made the film after years of banging and bloodshed finally led him to ask the simple question: Where does this culture of death come from?

Bastards starts in the present, then leaps back to the great African-American migration from the South to the West in the mid 20th century. It chronicles the racism black folk encountered upon their arrival, and how they slowly carved neighborhoods and communities of their own. News to many will be the fact (also detailed in a comprehensive 2006 report on the history of the Bloods and the Crips by Sheriff’s Department gang expert Detective Wayne Coffey) that white gangs — with names like the Spook Hunters — planted the seeds of modern gang strife in L.A. when black school kids banded together to protect themselves from attacks. By the time white flight solved the problem of white gangs, black gangs like the Slausons, the Farmers and the Gladiators began to turn on one another.

The axis of the film, however, is the new life it breathes into the not-altogether-novel argument that the federal government, and the FBI in particular, pitted the Black Panther Party, and its L.A. leader, Bunchy Carter, against Ron Karenga and his US (United Slaves) movement, leaving both movements in ruins and creating a devastating political and cultural — not to mention spiritual — void in the local African-American community. Bastards is filled with fantastic gangsta-on-the-street interviews, archival photos and news footage, and interviews with Geronimo Pratt, other black activists and L.A. historian Mike Davis. As it unfolds, it presents an ever-deepening perspective not just on gang lore but on the black experience in Los Angeles, with its ripple effects on the national stage.

In the midst of a frenzy of promotional activity to hype the film’s February 6 HBO premiere (you can catch it all month on HBO’s various channels), while at the same time taking care of his young son, Bone sat down to answer questions about the film, the current state of black life in Los Angeles and his take on black and brown tensions in the city.

For the rest of the interview, click here

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Horror Gateway...

I read the following piece on Davey D's MySpace blog; it's a swipe of an article written by Annette Stark on Latino gangs targeting black folks in LA...

Like other African-American residents of this 12-block working-class enclave, Charlene Lovett came to the South L.A. neighborhood of Harbor Gateway thinking she was giving her kids a better life. Shortly after she settled in, her neighbors came over to warn her about a decade of violence by Latino gangs against neighborhood blacks. Lovett recalls, "They said don't walk north to 204th Street."

That was six years ago. Today, one wall in Lovett's tidy ground floor apartment is dedicated – with photos, letters, and posters – to her 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Green, who was brutally gunned down in December by the 204th Street Gang, the 100-member Latino street gang that has been terrorizing the black community there. "I'm not part of a gang. My daughter was not part of a gang," Lovett stresses. "My daughter was killed because of the color of her skin."

This is not a gang war. There is no black gang that encroaches on the 204's turf. The hate is so prevalent and obvious that activists and city officials alike can no longer avoid calling it by the name being used by everyone from prosecutors to opinion writers in the L.A. Times: ethnic cleansing. "I'm not saying it's a problem with Latinos generally," Lovett clarifies. "I wouldn't dare say that. All I'm saying is that the gangs here have let it be known that they hate black people.

"They have written it on the walls, graffiti-ed the ground, and put it online, on the web."

The evidence is hard to miss: the N-word is graffitied everywhere; 206th Street has been declared a line blacks cannot cross; there is a big market on 204th Street in which blacks are forbidden to shop. Like other Latino gang members, one of the suspects charged in this murder had a MySpace web page riddled with anti-black rhetoric.

And now, more. Seated at her dining table and joined by Los Angeles Humanity Advocacy Group's Melvin Snell and Project Islamic Hope's Najee Ali, Lovett listens, hands pressed against her mouth, as Snell reads a letter she recently received from the previous occupant of her apartment. And though it came just a few days ago, "Words of encouragement from one black mother to another," is dated December 13, 2006. The sender – Snell calls her "Blank" – was working in the Emergency Room in Harbor UCLA hospital the night Cheryl and her friends were rushed in. She helped get the victims out of the car. "I watched them work on your baby," she says.

"I know you don't remember me, but my name is 'Blank.' I'm the lady who used to live in your apartment. When I moved out, you moved in. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for not warning you about the 204s. You see I had a bad experience with them. They shot my daughter's boyfriend's car up one night as they were leaving to go to the movies. God spared my daughter, for some reason. I don't know. God needed Cheryl up in heaven."

Across the street, newly constructed Spanish-style town homes are riddled with bullet holes and anti-black graffiti. Photographer Ted Soqui was taking pictures when he caught up with the developer, a Chinese immigrant, who said he has to patch broken windows and bullet holes and clean up the 204s racial slogans once a week. It's sad, he said. He was trying to build something that would make the neighborhood nicer.

Ernesto Alcarez, 20, was arrested Dec. 21 in connection with Green's murder, and on Jan. 4 police had Jonathan Fajardo, 18, the alleged triggerman, in custody. Both are charged with special circumstances murder, attempted murder, and hate crimes. They can face the death penalty if convicted.

For the rest of the article, click here