Sunday, January 28, 2007

Videos of the Day



Friday, January 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The man who accepts Western values absolutely, finds his creative faculties becoming so warped and stunted that he is almost completely dependent on external satisfactions, and the moment he becomes frustrated in his search for these, he begins to develop neurotic symptoms, to feel that life is not worth living, and, in chronic cases, to take his own life." -- Paul Robeson

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cruising in LA

Everyone who walks through the door gasps. Folks step from the sidewalk of downtown L.A.’s surprisingly well-lit, nearly deserted Broadway into the lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre and, taking in the old-school Hollywood opulence (visibly battered but undeniably vibrant, gorgeous), let go with reflexive sighs of “Wow” and “Oh, my God.” Mike Sonksen (a.k.a. Mike the PoeT), our tour guide for the evening, glides through the lobby introducing himself while two elderly couples, a hipster homo duo, assorted hetero power-broker couples dressed simply but expensively, and a gaggle of artsy-boho Silver Lake types all take in the cavernous space. Light from vintage crystal chandeliers glints off gilt ornaments and bronze banisters; even the dullest eye can catch and appreciate the attention to detail that workers from almost 80 years ago lavished on everything from the marble fountain to the etched and painted high ceiling. It feels like we’ve stumbled through a rainforest onto an ancient city, still intact, with the ghosts of a past civilization nudging us into awe.


For the rest of the article, click here

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quote


"How many minutes / How many hours before we agree that loving ourselves does not require our hatred of somebody else?" - June Jordan

Friday, January 19, 2007

Scary, Beautiful...


The caption that accompanied this photo in the LA Times reads: Waves break on Chiswell Beach, Portland, in Dorset, England. Gale force winds and heavy rain has brought disruption to large parts of the country.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Help me, Jeebus, fake my way to the top...


Earlier this week, I was asked by a magazine to pen a piece on the Down-Low. (Hey, unless you're ready to pay my rent, do not roll your eyes. And stifle that yawn... I did.) Today, I received an email that all but leapt through my monitor with excitement. It was from someone else in the magazine office who heard about the assignment and was siked that I was doing a piece on... Dipset.

I am so tempted to act like it's all one and the same.

Thirty Strong And A Gun To His Head…Pay Attention?


This is from an essay / editorial by filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons about the much publicized and controversial arrest of her brother, DJ Drama:

"No one will ever be able to explain to me why the hell a SWAT Team of at least 30 strong went charging into the Aphilliates Music Group studio as if they were doing a major drug or an illegal arms bust? Why did they need to put my brother Tyree (DJ Drama) and his cohorts face down on the ground with guns to their heads? Did the agents need to ransack the studio, confiscate cd's featuring artist sanctioned original music not bootlegs, disc drives, computers, cars, ultimately stripping the studio of everything with the exception of furniture....

"So the question for me... is was a SWAT team needed? Was this solely about mixtapes? Would this have happened if this wasn't a Black run company? One of the claims is that Tyree (DJ Drama) was racketeering. Well, this alleged racketeer is a legitimate businessman who played and continues to play a pivotal role in the careers of numerous known and unknown hiphop artists, which by direct extension helps the recording industry immensely. Tyree ( DJ Drama) is also a partner, a father, a brother, and a son.

"When I think about all of the scandals in corporate Ameri-KKK-a (Enron and WorldCom to name a minute few)…I don't ever recall hearing about any SWAT enforced raids. I don't recall any images of Ken Lay or other top executives of corporations being forced to lay face down on the ground surrounded by SWAT agents with guns to their heads and K-9 dogs sniffing them. For a detailed expose on the evils that corporations all around the world do and get away with legally and illegally, check out the powerfully gripping documentaries "Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room," and "The Corporation."

For the rest of this essay, go here

Mighty Real



From Joshua Gamson’s book, the Fabulous Sylvester, in which the author recounts a performance the late diva did as part of the influential, groundbreaking late ‘60s-early ‘70s San Francisco-based genderfuck / identity-fuck glam performance art collective, the Cockettes:

Sylvester did not take kindly to Cockettes flouncing around onstage while he was singing, as they were wont to do, or to the amateur-hour mishaps. “Sylvester,” says Sebastian, “took care of Sylvester.” During a performance of the Cockettes’ October 1970 show, Les Cockettes Folies des Paris, while Sylvester was singing “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Hibiscus took to the stage in a zebra-skin costume, dancing around and eventually wandering into the spotlight. Sylvester watched out of the corner of his eye, and his face went steely as he finished the song. After his number, Sylvester left the stage to boisterous applause, and waited for Hibiscus to come off stage.

When he did, Sylvester slapped him right across the face. “Don’t you ever do that to me again,” he said. “You do not come out in my song and upstage me.” He pushed Hibiscus into one of the dressing rooms and kicked him over and over. Another time, a local artist made a beautiful butcher-paper backdrop for Sylvester: a giant bluebird with notes coming out of its mouth. As Sylvester was singing, the rolled-up paper began to unfurl behind him. The audience, keen appreciators of the unintended, applauded so enthusiastically that Sylvester had to stop mid-song. The next night, he insisted that the bluebird be lowered before his song began. He was not about to be upstaged by a piece of paper.

Sylvester made sure he had his own little space apart from the mayhem and sloppiness of the Cockettes, so he could re-create a musical moment from another place and time. He wanted the stage to himself; as he put it later, in simple diva-ese, “My shit was better.”

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Different Angle...


The news is crazy with stories of tension between black & brown folk in LA. I want to write something but I am a little overwhelmed. I see, quite often in this city, shit that makes you think, "It's a wrap." But I also see, everyday, countless reasons to be hopeful. The scale see-saws constantly. We each have to decide which side we're going to drop our weight on. As a writer aching to tackle this subject, I have to find a way to express the former (the dire shit) without seeming defeatist and bleak, and to express the latter (the hope, the love, the connections forged across the bullshit) without seeming oblivious and Pollyanna-ish. In the meantime, I'm offering up this review of a truly fantastic documentary, OT: Our Town, that comes at all these issues from a much different angle than the media currently is. This is going to be re-printed in Blood Beats Vol. 2. It's from the year 2003.


Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, that most-performed of American plays, is, on its surface, a throwback to a time when America and Americans were both understood to be “white,” when the mainstream values espoused and celebrated were decidedly small-town and Christian, with family, marriage, church and (homogenous) community as the unshakeable pillars of life. If those perceptions and elements were the sum of the play, it’d be nothing more than a fetishistic footnote, a nostalgia piece occasionally revived for camp value or ironic “deconstruction.” But Wilder was grappling with “something eternal” in all of us – that connection to spirit that is found in all the meaningful relationships in our lives. When imagined and executed not that long ago by students and faculty at Compton’s Manuel Dominguez High School, the play was relocated to Compton and peopled with black and brown folk who mingled cultures and accents without even thinking about it. And while Wilder might be baffled by the slang, clothing and music used to modernize his celebrated work, he’d undoubtedly recognize the people and their universal concerns — love and connection, loss and grief.

Video and commercial director Scott Hamilton Kennedy stumbled upon the subject matter for his first documentary, OT: Our Town, in 1999, after he began dating high school English teacher Catherine Borek, who told him of her and a colleague’s plans to stage Our Town with their students in Compton — the first play produced at Manuel Dominguez in 20 years. With a head filled with preconceptions and stereotypes propagated by hood films and rap videos, Kennedy picked up a camera and trekked to Compton to document the process, from auditions to opening night. What he found was a Los Angeles that’s never been put on film. (“We’re not that different,” says one girl, “but we’re way different from what you think we are.”)

While gangs, poverty and teen pregnancy are inarguable facts of life in Compton, Kennedy also found funny, charismatic and at times stunningly insightful kids whose lives involved families of all shapes and configurations. The bitterness spit by a circle of young boys over their absent fathers — and the struggle of one boy to garner his father’s attention — is balanced by the story of Ebony Starr, a young Latina whose prostitute mom dropped her off at her black babysitter’s one day and never returned; Ebony was adopted at the age of five months by that black family and, by the time Our Town went into production at her high school, was big sister to a crew of nappy headed little brothers. (The teenage Ebony’s matter-of-fact analysis of the perpetuated cycles of poverty, unwed mothers and hopelessness is a highlight of the film.)

Quinceneras, Trent Reznor, proms and the banal dramas of parent-child conflict unfold before the camera as students and teachers wage battle to mount the play. Perhaps the brisk (76 minutes) film’s greatest strength, aside from its winning subjects, is Kennedy’s deft editing skills. Cutting between rehearsals and interviews with students and faculty, footage shot in the kids’ homes with their families and the acclaimed 1977 television broadcast of the play starring Hal Holbrook and Robby Benson, Kennedy creates a smart, seamless commentary on race and class, and the expectations (or lack of) that are often attached to them. He’s helped greatly by thick currents of heart and humor that pull you into the unfolding tale, and to the edge of your seat as countdown to opening night — and to answering the question of whether all the kids will be able to find and sustain enough self-confidence to see the production through to its actual perfomance — begins. (This is the film that the wanly imagined Camp aspired to be.)

Early in rehearsals for the play, tension arises when some of the students resist the suggestion to modernize the text with current vernacular and urban culture references because they’re afraid that doing so will simply confirm stereotype. What they want is to prove they’re capable of doing the unexpected. They needn’t have worried. Working with no funds and no support from the school (which doesn’t have an auditorium and in which these newly hatched dramaramas play second — or third, or fourth — fiddle to the school’s athletes), the OT posse trump stereotype and, on and off-stage, are utterly captivating. So is the film. The slow bonds that develop between cast mates, the insecurities that flare before cooling down, and the lump-in-the-throat payoff do what all good movies do: They take you where you haven’t been, and introduce you to people that you don’t know – even if you think you do.

Classic Video of the Day

Massive Attack + Tracey Thorn + Michel Gondry = Perfection.




This girl I know needs some shelter
She don't believe anyone can help her
She's doing so much harm, doing so much damage
But you don't want to get involved
You tell her she can manage
And you can't change the way she feels
But you could put your arms around her

I know you want to live yourself
But could you forgive yourself
If you left her just the way
You found her

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and i'm a girl
But you know you can lean on me

And I don't have no fear
I'll take on any man here
Who says that's not the way it should be

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

She's a girl and you're a boy
Sometimes you look so small, look so small

You've got a baby of your own
When your baby's gone, she'll be the one
To catch you when you fall

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a girl and i'm a boy [x4]

Sometimes you look so small, need some shelter
Just runnin' round and round, helter skelter
And I've leaned on you for years
Now you can lean on me
And that's more than love, that's the way it should be
Now I can't change the way you feel
But I can put my arms around you
That's just part of the deal
That's the way I feel
I'll put my arms around you

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and i'm a girl [x4]

Sunday, January 14, 2007

They Got Jokes at the DataLounge...

Original [ delusional ] Post: If Bush somehow turns Iraq around in the face of overwhelming opposition, let's face it, this has the makings of what history regards as greatness.

Reply: And if he could fly over there in his invisible jet and capture all the evildoers with his Lasso of Truth, he'd be Linda Carter. So the fuck what?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Voices Rising...


Later this year, the second volume of my criticism comes out (as I’ve already noted many times) but I’m almost as excited just to be part of the new Voices Rising anthology. I don’t even have words to express how honored I am to be in the same collection as folks like Staceyann Chin, Samuel R. Delany, Jewelle Gomez, Tim’m West, sharon bridgforth, Bil Wright, Samiya Bashir, Thomas Glave, Lisa C. Moore, G. Winston James, Pamela Sneed and Marvin K. White. (Speaking of Marvin, the former Pomo Afro Homo has a new collection of poetry coming out later this year that is fucking amazing. Truly some old-school meets next-level writing. He and I share a publisher and when she read me some of the poems a while ago, I was too full of awe to even make room for jealousy.)
      I have three pieces in Voices, two poems (“Shopping List,” “Blood, Prayer & Tears: 2002 A.D.”) and a short story (“Curtis.”) I’m not sure how well they work being separated from the larger poetry/fiction/whatever manuscript I’m working on but here is the full “Shopping List” poem, and just an excerpt from “Curtis”:


Shopping List

Don’t bring me hardcore. Don’t bring me street. Don’t bring me ghetto. Don’t bring me keepin’-it-real performances. Don’t bring me steely Ph.Ds, academic jism or intellectual jargon. Be radical. Be revolutionary: Bring me tenderness. Bring me blood-riddled, tearstained insights. Bring me strength beyond a pose. Be who you really are. Be the you beneath protective covering. Strip away conditioning. Strip away posturing. Strip away all the bullshit that you’ve learned. I don’t want words you’ve memorized. I don’t want record collection validation or bookshelf credentials. I want fragments synthesized. I want the wisdom you’ve earned through sweat and unshed tears. I don’t care about technique; I don’t care if you’re tone deaf. Miss a note / fuck a note. Just sing your song. Don’t wave platinum credit cards. Don’t flash bank account statements. Don’t wield diamonds wrought from African blood. Just lay your head near mine, press your heart against mine, and promise to be good. Swear to do your best. And just be your best. Then let the rest fall away. Let the rest just fall away. Then let the rest fall away. Just let the rest fall away…

Curtis

      On the morning I woke up with the clarity to know I could never be in a love thang with an ofay… On the morning after the night that a friend pointedly told me Dorothy Dandridge once said, “Some people commit suicide by booze, guns or drugs. I did it by marrying a white man.” (I don’t know if she ever really said this, but I know in my bones that she felt it...)
      On that morning, I ran into Curtis after two years of not seeing him. He was wearing designer knock-off sunglasses and dark blue, baggy-nylon sweatpants. An azure, short-sleeved cotton t-shirt (folded lengthwise) was tucked into his waistband, dangling like a sash. His upper body was exposed and gleaming, like truth at the root of cliché. Passersby snatched glances.
      His naturally wavy, almost-straight brown hair was sun-streaked with blonde highlights and sculpted into baby-twists. He’d been tanned to a nice golden-brown, and smelled of beer and eau de crack. It was a new fragrance for him: pungent / acrid / bitter. His previous scent was never any stronger than a dab of weed & ‘forty, wafting gently from his pores as he read his poetry.
      His gestures were more flamboyant, more queeny than before. Gone were the sturdy lines of hetero-mulatto, surfer-boy machismo that had been girding him when we first met. Gone, too, was the baby-fat that had once padded his face. The crack, in a perverse but familiar twist, was razoring his beauty into high relief before destroying it altogether. Showing what could have been before cruelly wasting it away.
      There was a hardness to him, now. The melancholy that had hung from him when I first met him – melancholy made all the more potent by the childlike optimism that struggled to sustain itself within him (he wanted to be an important writer) – had coarsened into a bitter, palpable sadness.
      After hugs and small talk, he slipped on his shirt and we walked back to my place, talking of agents and writing, New York vs. L.A., porno and poetry, and what he grimly grinned and called his, “long, dark descent into self-annihilation” before he said, harshly, “Can we talk about something else? Thinking about writing only makes me depressed and angry.”
      He paused.
      “It’s so funny,” he began again. “Last night, I told myself that today would be the day that I seriously thought about this shit, about my writing and my life. Then I woke up this morning and didn’t want to.” He looked at me. “Funny running into you, again. It’s like an omen or something.”
      He told me that he and his girl D_____ had spent the morning drinking forties and getting high. He’d been on his way to Benito’s Taco Shop when I ran into him standing at the bus stop on the corner of Santa Monica and Western. Now, he was going back to my place with me.
      When we got to my apartment, I put Lewis Taylor in the CD player (“Whoever is the love in your life, he got a hard time ahead of him…”) and opened a window. A breeze blew over his chest as he sat on my sofa, absent-mindedly fingering his twists. “I gotta put some bee’s wax on my shit when I get home,” he said softly. “I haven’t been home for days.”
      “Where are you staying now?” I asked.
      “With my sister. Or, I guess I should say, brother. No... sister.” He smiled. “My brother’s a pre-op transexual, now. Stays up on DeLongpre and Vine. I love my sister. She’s so cool... so fucking cool. She’s always making me laugh. She just knows shit, you know?”
      I sat next to him and he slid down on the sofa until his head rested on my shoulder. I put my arm around him. He took off his sunglasses and looked up at me with glassy blue-gray eyes. We talked about the low-end modeling gigs he’d been working...
      “That’s not my thing at all,” he said with disgust. “People always trip off how I look. I hate that shit. This photographer I know is always telling me how I could have a big career. Based on my fucking looks. Nothing to do with talent. Nothing to do with substance. My fucking looks.”
      …about the porno he was tempted to do, and the minor-celeb porn stars (men, women, and all points in-between) that he’d been fucking since I last saw him.
      “I’m not a writer, I’m not a poet. I’m nothing, okay?” he said suddenly, looking me square in the eyes. “I’m just another fuckin’ Hollywood waste. A pathetic excuse for a human being. Don’t think of me as anything other than that, okay? I’m serious. That’s all I am.”
      He inched closer to me and I kissed him.

For more info on the book, go here

Check Her Out


If you live in the Bay Area, be sure to check out one of Ledisi’s upcoming gigs. She’ll be at Yoshi’s Jack London Square (in Oakland) January 17-21. All shows start at 8 p.m. I’ve been building shrines to her for years – her talent is ridiculous – and Billboard magazine just recently named her one of 2007’s best bets based on her forthcoming album for Verve. (I’ve heard some of it. Yep, it is niiiiiiiiiiiiiice.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Erykah Badu Live @ HOB on New Year's Eve



Shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Erykah Badu took the stage at the House of Blues wearing designer bag-lady gear (Chanel, Gucci) and sporting a massive, dusty, tangled wig. Very Mahogany on crack. She opened the show with the ribald “Annie Don’t Wear No Panties” and for almost two hours gave a concert that has to rank as one of her finest — no small thing considering that Ms. Badu is one of the most phenomenal live performers around. In great voice and dancing her funky ass off, she premiered some new material, sang a shitload of hits and fan favorites (“Cleva,” “Apple Tree,” “I Want You,” “Danger,” “Booty,” “Kiss Me on My Neck,” “Back in the Day”), did what seemed to be an impromptu but lovely version of “Believe in Yourself” from the Wiz, and created a frenzy when, during “Love of My Life,” she wove in full verses from Doug E. Fresh’s “La Di Da Di” and N.W.A’s “Gangsta Gangsta,” both of which became crowd sing-alongs. But wait, there’s more.

To read the rest of the review, click here

I Knew I Shoulda Played More Sports in School

How Shit Be


Freestyle riffs & ruminations on black music and pop culture at the dawn of 2007

MISSED OPPORTUNITY AT JAMES BROWN’S FUNERAL:
After Michael Jackson exchanged dap and hair-care tips with Al Sharpton and baby-mama war tales with Jesse Jackson, he leaned over Mr. Brown’s coffin to pay giggly respect. At that point, you wished the Godfather would've thrust up an arm, horror-flick style, grabbed Michael by the throat and demanded, "Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud!"

VIDEO AND SINGLE OF THE YEAR: NYOIL's "Y'all Should All Get Lynched." This is what it sounds like when exasperated Negroes cry. Just a few weeks before Michael Richards' lynching tirade, New York–based rapper NYOIL deployed strategic hyperbole to call for the lynching of rappers — specifically, the materialistic, violence-glamorizing, thug/pimp/playa types. His take-no-prisoners video named names and spliced unauthorized video clips (the ostensible reason YouTube banned the video). Juxtaposing Sambo imagery against photos of The Game, Lil Jon, Diddy and others, NYOIL painted many of rap’s biggest stars as Uncle Toms poisoning hip-hop and black American culture.

Controversial doesn't begin to describe this video. "Y’All Should All Get Lynched" was a cultural bomb whose detonation reverberated across the blogosphere and beyond. Fallout is still falling out.

It’s true that the song and clip are incredibly flawed, as is some of NYOIL’s logic — including his use of the word "nigga" when railing against black self-degradation, and the misogyny and homophobia floating his thesis. Yet the unwavering passion and timeliness of his message are why "Y’all Should All Get Lynched" is song and video of the year: The pimps, thugs and hustlas swarming through rap today are doing massa’s bidding. (And props to him for giving props to Oprah. I’m not even a fan of hers, but the way MCs whined last year because she wouldn’t have them on her show was proof that rappers are the most sensitive, need-a-hug muhfuckas on the planet.)

ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Ms. Peachez ("Fry That Chicken"). Shortly before NYOIL threw his grenade, YouTube saw fit to make a star of bow-legged, transgender Southern rapper Ms. Peachez. The video for her song "Fry That Chicken" looks like a low-budget short as directed by D.W. Griffith: a ghetto-country, she-male mammy plays chicken-frying pied piper to a troupe of pickaninnies. On paper? Brilliant. The possibility for scathing subversiveness is infinite.

Again, the Web was (and continues to be) a battleground for heated debate: Was it just good-natured fun or reheated cooning? Gender-fucking triumph? (Uh, no on that.)

Ms. Peachez' shtick is almost performance art — a knowing embrace of stereotypes, a dead-on replication of rap’s state-of-2006 beats. It's also an unabashed celebration of things many black folk still have shame around: Southern-ness, countriness, faggotry and ingenuity born of poverty. It's also the embodiment of the galling simple-mindedness that defines current hip-hop. Ms. Peachez' shit would easily fit in on most rap stations and video shows, because unconscious self-parody has become a building block of black pop culture.

As stupid as "Fry That Chicken" is, it's complicated. This video, a hodgepodge of cultural pride and internalized racist stereotypes — all set to mama-said-make-you-dance beats — speaks volumes about how shit be right now. That's how fucked up both hip-hop and black America are. (And, yes, NYOIL calls out Ms. Peachez in his video too, which is sublime synchronicity.)

Watching a passionate debate like this take place outside academia or music-critic circle jerks was like finding the faintest pulse in a body you’d assumed dead.

CD TITLE OF THE YEAR: Hip-Hop Is Dead, by Nas (Def Jam).

QUOTE OF THE YEAR NO. 1: "Of course hip-hop cannot be dead. Nas was warning us. One of the best ways to warn a culture is to shock it. I think Nas shocked hip-hop culture by declaring its death. By declaring its death, it means that it will live now." —KRS-One, in an interview with AllHipHop.com

For the rest of the article, click here

The Reviews Are In...




Mark Anthony Neal
, Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University, wrote the following about my book in a review on the website seeingblack:

"BLOOD BEATS" sets the bar high for those for which cultural criticism – journalistic or otherwise – has been reduced to name dropping and ego-tripping... [Hardy’s] work resides at the obvious (to some) intersections of Blackness, gender and sexuality, but to simply align his writing and style to the now clichéd province of intersectionality is to miss the point of the work. This is writing that is doing real labor – heavy lifting, if you will – on behalf of those folks (the artists, the audiences, and the activists) – who are grappling with “new language in the effort to overthrow... everything."

Other reviews:

"There’s intense competition for the title of best quality in Hardy's prose. I'm inclined to prefer 1) its ability to swivel between film and black pop music subjects while keeping an eye toward trends in American politics, and 2) the (seemingly) effortless elegance of his sentences. The number of new ideas in a typical Ernest Hardy review is high enough and the prose liquid enough that I'll put petty disagreements aside... Full disclosure: Ernest Hardy is a longtime friend. Yet he's such a difficult twerp that there's no way I'd be trying to help the motherfucker on purpose. This praise is about the product and about you, the reader, as your life will be much better with Blood Beats in it. His writing on MeShell NdegeOcello is enough to justify every party of mine that he failed to show up to, each argument about the culture of gangsta rap that ended in stilted silence and bullshit reasons for hanging up. He's got great pieces on Lauryn Hill, D'Angelo, homo-thugs, Warren Beatty and a dozen other topics. Go cop, for real. Vol. 2 hits in 07 and you'll need to be ready for that." – Donnell Alexander, culture critic and author of Ghetto Celebrity

"...this collection of interviews, reviews and essays from 1996 to 2000 gives engrossing critical shout-outs to both well-established artists and eclectic, on-the-fringe outsiders..." – Craig D. Lindsey, Philadelphia Weekly

"A good friend of mine gave me a copy of Blood Beats and I love it. I couldn't put it down. In several of the essays, Hardy articulates some of the same thoughts I have about hip-hop and Blackness as filtered through and fucked-over by American pop culture. His work pushes me to think deeper about what I write. Hardy keeps it real, refreshing and stimulating.” – Rashod Ollison, Pop Music Critic at the Baltimore Sun

"Ernest Hardy has a way with words. Without actually seeing or hearing this celebrated writer, one could instantly recognize his voice on a page. Honest, entertaining and thought provoking, Hardy's film and music criticism has been featured in the LA Times, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Vibe. This year, he published Blood Beats: Vol. 1 a series of essays and interviews exploring film, music and sexual identity from an evolved perspective." – from the blog, The Cocoa Lounge.

"Ernest Hardy writes with a fierce hand. His book Blood Beats:Volume 1 (Demos, Remixes & Extended Versions)... is a compilation of five years of his articles from the LA Weekly, Vibe, LA Times, The Source, Flaunt & several other publications from 1996 to 2001. In between articles he has interludes & some fun connecting stories that make the book not only a great history of late 90’s culture, but an insightful window into the soul of a great writer." – Mike the Poet

In BLOOD BEATS VOL. 1 you will find:

INTERVIEWS: Meshell NdgeOcello, Les Nubian, Queen Latifah, Bjork, Warren Beatty, Kasi Lemmons, Ambersunshower, a round-table session with four black women film directors, and more.

ESSAYS: "The Life & Death of Tupac;" "Why Outkast is so important to hip-hop;" the demystification of the gay rapper; "Aretha, Chaka & Lauryn: The Thread That Links Them;" "Erykah Badu Unlocks the Paradox;" Macho House (music) and more.

FILM REVIEWS: Love Jones, Hav Plenty, Ghost Dog, Bullworth, High Art, Nenette et Boni, Velvet Goldmine, and more.

MUSIC REVIEWS: TLC, Tricky, Mos Def, Armand Van Helden, Byron Stingily, and more.

Buy the book here

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Shit, Damn... Motherfucker

Manuscript for Volume 2 of Blood Beats is due in less than four weeks. Nothing has gone according to plan. Feverishly worked to stack funds so I wouldn't have to be face-down-ass-up hustling bill-paying work as I finished Vol. 2. The goal was to take Dec and Jan off to do nothing but finish the book. So close, so close, but so much to do. I'm proud of this second kid. She's got big, throbbin', ninja-what ovaries. I like her. She's the product of my muse, who ain't a delicate, Grecian gown wearing, harp-strumming little deity. My muse strolls in wearing a ratty fur coat, with a lukewarm Pepsi in one hand and a bag of Funyons in the other. Kicks off her shoes and says, "Nickel, I ain't got all night. I got shit to do and places to be. Write this down..." Things were going Halle Berry make-me-feel-good good. And then: Illness, financial setbacks, blah, blah, blah. A wholly unoriginal dilemna.

Watched the History Boys the other night (meh... don't bother) but had to laugh out loud when one of the students, after being asked to define history, blurted, "It's just one fookin' thing after anudda..."

There are children starving around the world; whole towns/villages/cities are dodging bombs and burying sons and daughters; New Orleans is still shell-shocked and criminally unattended, so what the fuck am I whining about?

But still...

Shit.
Damn.
Motherfucker.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Brilliant Move...



By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer Wed Jan 3, 5:39 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, will use a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson during his ceremonial swearing-in Thursday. The chief of the
Library of Congress' rare book and special collections division, Mark Dimunation, will walk the Quran across the street to the Capitol and then walk it back after the ceremony.

Ellison, D-Minn., contacted the library about the book last month, Dimunation said.

Some critics have argued that only a Bible should be used for the swearing-in. Last month, Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode (news, bio, voting record), R-Va., warned that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected and follow Ellison's lead. Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college.

Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert said the new congressman "wants this to be a special day, and using Thomas Jefferson's Quran makes it even more special."

"Jefferson's Quran dates religious tolerance to the founders of our country," he added.

An English translation of the Arabic, it was published in 1764 in London, a later printing of one originally published in 1734.

"This is considered the text that shaped Europe's understanding of the Quran," Dimunation said.

It was acquired in 1815 as part of a 6,400-volume collection that Jefferson sold for $24,000, to replace the congressional library that had been burned by British troops the year before, in the War of 1812.

"It was a real bargain," Dimunation said.