Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I have no idea if anyone is even checking for my blog anymore but I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I really, really will be updating again soon. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I've been swamped: co-editing the APLA literary anthology I mentioned some time back, working on the Mark Bradford/Hurricane Katrina book project, trying to shape an Obama essay for Flaunt magazine, doing odds & ends reviews for the LA Weekly film section (I'm all but exiled from their music section these days), getting ready to head back east for a quick book tour that starts in Baltimore on September 28th (details forthcoming; cannot wait to be back in Harlem), and frying my brain trying to meet a couple of other deadlines. Sheer madness. I also just realized today that I fucked up royally in writing the liner notes for the re-issues of the Jacksons' Destiny and Triumph albums. Well, just the Triumph notes. In my first draft, while writing about "Hearbreak Hotel"/"This Place Hotel," I wrote:

"The song’s poetically detailed emotional horror show unfolds through nuanced sonic textures and lyric complexities that clearly echo Michael’s solo work on Off the Wall and and forshadow his work on Thriller."

No problem, right?

By the final draft, rushing to meet deadline and to trim the over-long notes so they'd meet the assigned word-count, I ham-fistedly whittled the sentence down to:

"The song’s poetically detailed emotional horror show unfolds through nuanced sonic textures and lyric complexities that clearly foreshadow Michael’s solo work on Off the Wall and Thriller."

Only problem is that Off the Wall (1979) came out before Triumph (1980). For a stickler like myself, this is pure agony. Especially since I sat with all those albums (not CDs, the actual albums) sprawled around me while writing the notes just to make sure I wouldn't fuck up like that. And especially knowing the rabid fans of Michael's who really know their shit inside and out and will spot such a glaring mistake immediately. (I'm braced for the missive I should be getting any day now from the evil queen who sends me a nasty email for every typo that appears in anything I write. I should just mail him some lube and condoms now: Be gentle con mi, papi...) The worst part is that in mangling the sentence for brevity, I did nothing to significantly reduce the word count. Hopefully Sony/Legacy will make the correction in future pressings and y'all who bought the Fuck-up Edition will have, um, collector's items. Yeah.

Two last things before I bounce back to scribing articles and hussalin'. I wanted to give another round of thanks to all the folks who've contributed to my computer fund. Donations have stalled midway between $1500 and $1600, and I'm grateful for that amount. I'm gonna work my natural black ass off over the next several months so I can match it and get the computer I need/have in mind. Which leads me to my last item and last shout-out of gratitude. That new computer will be put to the grind for the afore-mentioned Mark Bradford/Hurricane Katrina book. The book is going to center on Bradford's art installation for Prospect 1 New Orleans, which kicks off November 1st and is the largest international biennial of contemporary art to ever be mounted in America. Over the course of its eleven-week run, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1] plans to draw international media attention, creative energy, and new economic activity to the city of New Orleans. Mark's installation, called Mithra, will be an ark that he's having designed and constructed in his Leimert Park studio here in LA. In a few weeks it will be carefully dismantled and shipped to New Orleans, where it will then be installed in the Lower 9th Ward. (Mark's currently in Korea so I haven't had a chance to ask him what effect, if any, Hurricane Gustav has had on those plans.) My book will be centered on Mark's building of the ark and its reception at the biennial but then branch out and use Katrina as a lens through which to look at modern Black America and larger issues. I've already done some in-studio interviews with Mark in which he broke down the ark beyond its obvious symbolism and I'm jazzed to be doing this project. (I love the way his mind works; the conceptual layers he's bringing to Mithra are dazzling.)

Anyway, that all leads back to my final thank you, which goes out to the lovely, amazing-smelling Jenisa Washington. (I'm weak for people who smell good.) She hosted an auction/fund-raiser for Mark a few weeks back at the no-joke home she shares with her husband Isaiah (yes, the actor, and he was very cool) and their kids. I led a conversation with Mark right before the auction of a painting he'd done for the occasion. I can't do the painting justice right now but its gray, heavily textured, abstract surface eerily and beautifully (if that's even the right word) captured the chaos and fallout of Katrina, though Mark says the painting is actually not about that. (By the way, the painting at the top of this blog entry is not the one that was auctioned. The piece here is a 2007 mixed-media collage called "Giant.") The auction itself was a scene right out of a movie, where people with more money than God were casually sitting on the floor or leaning against the walls as they blithely raised their hands to bid. One of the less financially fortunate women provided comic relief when Jenisa, who was the auctioneer, asked if the simmering bid could be raised to $75,000. The woman chose that moment to make a broad hand gesture to someone standing next to her. "Good, we have $75,000," said Jenisa, pointing to the woman. "OH GOD, NO!," screamed the accidental bidder. I literally sat on my hands the entire auction and didn't even blink the entire 15 minutes it took for the opening bid of $5,000 to close at $115,000.
These clips are killing me at the moment. Yeah, Patti is a beast but do not sleep on Ms. Nona and Ms. Sarah:

1 comment:

Lisa Seymour said...

Yes, indeed! Thank you for the videos. Here's another for you:

Loving me some Patti!