Monday, May 24, 2010

Sheer Fucking Brilliance

Whitney Houston + Linda Blair in The Exorcist + George Romero = Sheer fucking brilliance...

Quote of the Day (and Visual Aid)

“Lying is done with words, and also with silence… The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than [they want] truth… There is no “the truth” or “a truth” – truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity… The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire. The complexity and fecundity of poetry come from that same struggle.” – Adrienne Rich, from her 1979 essay “Women and Honor; Notes on Lying

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

“While there is the annual temptation to ask, “What would Malcolm say or do in response to today’s conditions,” it is best to remember at least of couple of things: First, today’s conditions and a living, breathing Malcolm X are absolutely mutually exclusive. One could not exist with the other. There is not one trace of evidence to suggest that Malcolm X would have, over the last 40 years, found ways to accept or rationalize the loss of a movement and a momentum that was designed to rid us of the conditions faced here and abroad, so we have to conclude, based on all existing evidence, that what exists today is in part the willful result of his assassination. This is, of course, the purpose of political assassinations, to stunt or end movements represented by the target. What do we think those in power killed him to achieve?”  (From this link.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

It's fitting that I came across this quote on the same day I began reading June Jordan's "Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint." The quote opens a really wonderful documentary, The Philosopher Kings, that I am reviewing for the LA Weekly.

"Do you think the porter and the cook have no anecdotes, no experiences, no wonders for you? The walls of their minds are scrawled all over with thoughts. They shall one day bring a lantern and read the inscriptions." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monica Will Aways Love You

I'm not a huge fan of diva attitude unless you grew up in the Brewster Housing Projects, your father was named Rev. C.L. Franklin, or your last name is Streisand; the emphasis on divadom is one of the things that's seriously maimed modern pop and r&b music. That said, this clip of Monica in diva-mode is fantastic -- the break for her to sip tea; the neck roll and exaggeratedly fluttered lashes; the hand on the hip... all delivered deadpan but all wonderfully tongue-in-cheek. And unlike the case with so many of her contemporaries, the diva shtick employed here is not a mask for vocal deficiencies. Monica can blow.

Sound of the Day: Dead Prez "The Beauty Within"

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Lena Horne: June 30, 1917 - May 9, 2010

Looking back at the age of 80, Ms. Horne said: “My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”

In Brian Lanker's book "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America," she was quoted as saying:"I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn't work for places that kept us out ... it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world."  

When I was a child her beauty grabbed me first, but there was so much more... that extraordinarily regal bearing, which never broke; the fire in her eyes that let you know there was a real fighter behind that classically gorgeous face; the earthy, frank humor which dispelled the "goddess" mystique in which her countenance and her own rich, layered history (personal and professional) shrouded her. But it was her vast reality and the courage and class with which she lived it that made me a lifelong fan, and made her relevant beyond nostalgic longing. Her struggles in Hollywood and her principled stands against racism in the entertainment  industry, in the military (she was an early challenger to the rules of segregation that were in effect when celebrities performed for the military in the '40s), and in America at large made her a heroine and cultural icon for Black folks even though her film career was a clear example of the race-based glass ceiling at work. We had great pride in her because she was talented and tenacious... But also because she was loud and clear about the pride she had in us, long before such pride was publicly fashionable. She was tough. Fearless. Legendary. My good friend, the poet/publisher Steven G. Fullwood dug up the following quotes in his tribute to her:

From Donald Bogle's book Brown Sugar:
"There was a Horne aloofness, which never unnoticed, became the hallmark of her style. Sometimes as she sang, her face went vacant. Other times she seemed condescending. But always held something back. In the middle of her career, The New Yorker commented on her unusual detachment: 'Curiously, as her style as developed, she seems to have withdrawn further and further from her audience and into herself. She never addresses her listeners directly, and her eyes are closed, a good part of the time. In acknowledging applause, she tilts her head, eyes cast down, and bends and turns with...self effacement.'"

And from the Lady herself:
"...they were too busy seeing their own preconceived image of a Negro woman. The image that I chose to give them was of a woman who they could not reach. I think this why I rarely speak to an audience. I am too proud to let them think that can have any personal contact with me. They get the singer, but they are not going to get the woman."

Those quotes capture what I most loved about Lena: that detachment while performing, that cool mask and the sparks that flint from beneath it, the way her calculated self-protectiveness (and more than a little contempt) became her glamorous shield/facade.

Her death hits hard. She was 92 years old.

NY Times obit
Washington Post obit

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sight + Sound of the Day: Georgia Anne Muldrow

h/t Brett Collins...

You don't have to cut up no roses / please just leave them living...

I hear this as a Mother's Day anthem as sung by the dopest mom(s).

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


From the essay "We Are Not Your Weapons, We Are Women" by Amanda Kijera...

      Two weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I started to write what I thought was a very clever editorial about violence against women in Haiti. The case, I believed, was being overstated by women’s organizations in need of additional resources. Ever committed to preserving the dignity of Black men in a world which constantly stereotypes them as violent savages, I viewed this writing as yet one more opportunity to fight “the man” on behalf of my brothers. That night, before I could finish the piece, I was held on a rooftop in Haiti and raped repeatedly by one of the very men who I had spent the bulk of my life advocating for.

      It hurt. The experience was almost more than I could bear. I begged him to stop. Afraid he would kill me, I pleaded with him to honor my commitment to Haiti, to him as a brother in the mutual struggle for an end to our common oppression, but to no avail. He didn’t care that I was a Malcolm X scholar. He told me to shut up, and then slapped me in the face. Overpowered, I gave up fighting halfway through the night.
      Accepting the helplessness of my situation, I chucked aside the Haiti bracelet I had worn so proudly for over a year, along with it, my dreams of human liberation. Someone, I told myself, would always be bigger and stronger than me. As a woman, my place in life had been ascribed from birth. A Chinese proverb says that “women are like the grass, meant to be stepped on.” The thought comforted me at the same time that it made me cringe.
      A dangerous thought. Others like it have derailed movements, discouraged consciousness and retarded progress for centuries. To accept it as truth signals the beginning of the end of a person–or community’s–life and ability to self-love. Resignation means inertia, and for the past two weeks I have inhabited its innards. My neighbors here include women from all over the world, but it’s the women of African descent, and particularly Haitian women, who move me to write now.
      Truly, I have witnessed as a journalist and human rights advocate the many injustices inflicted upon Black men in this world. The pain, trauma and rage born of exploitation are terrors that I have grappled with every day of my life. They make one want to strike back, to fight rabidly for what is left of their personal dignity in the wake of such things. Black men have every right to the anger they feel in response to their position in the global hierarchy, but their anger is misdirected.
      Women are not the source of their oppression; oppressive policies and the as-yet unaddressed white patriarchy which still dominates the global stage are. Because women – and particularly women of color – are forced to bear the brunt of the Black male response to the Black male plight, the international community and those nations who have benefitted from the oppression of colonized peoples have a responsibility to provide women with the protection that they need.

Read more at the link


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Babyfather: Sade Video

I love this. Director Sophie Muller has done it again, and I put this one up there with the videos she directed for "No Ordinary Love," "By Your Side" and the sublime "King of Sorrow." Here, Sade is sensuous, playful... larger-than-life but earthy. I'm digging it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Electron Boy

Man, just when you're about to give up on humanity...

Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day
By Katherine Long
Seattle Times Eastside reporter

      Thursday was shaping up to be just another school day for 13-year-old Erik Martin, but then something extraordinary happened: Spider-Man called.
      Spider-Man happens to be one of the few people who knows that Erik, too, has a secret identity; he's Electron Boy, a superhero who fights the powers of evil with light.
      And Spider-Man needed Erik's help.

      Erik, who is living with liver cancer, has always wanted to be a superhero. On Thursday, the regional chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted him that wish with an elaborate event that involved hundreds of volunteers in Bellevue and Seattle.
      The local chapter, which serves four states, grants more than 300 wishes every year to children with life-threatening medical conditions, but only a few of them involve so many participants.
      Pulling off a wish like this one required a big story, and a lot of heart. And so, with a note of panic in his voice, Spider-Man explained the dilemma: "Dr. Dark" and "Blackout Boy" had imprisoned the Seattle Sounders in a locker room at Qwest Field. Only Electron Boy could free them.
      Erik got into his red-and-blue superhero costume, and called on the powers of Moonshine Maid, who owns a DeLorean sports car. For good measure, more than 20 motorcycle officers from the Bellevue Police Department and King County and Snohomish sheriff's offices escorted Electron Boy to Seattle.
      "They shut down 405, they shut down I-90," marveled Moonshine Maid, aka Misty Peterson. "I thought it would just be me, in the car."
      At Qwest Field, Electron Boy was directed by frantic fans to the Sounders locker room, where the entire team was shouting for help behind jammed doors. With a little help from Lightning Lad, the alter ego of local actor Rob Burgess, Erik opened the door with his lightning rod. The Sounders cheered.
      "Thank you, Electron Boy," said defender Taylor Graham.
      "You saved us!" exclaimed forward Nate Jaqua.
      "Good job, big man," said defender Tyrone Marshall. And forward Steve Zakuani mutely bowed his thanks.
      Electron Boy seemed a little dazed by his powers. Out on Qwest Field, the Sounders gave Erik a hero's congratulations, posed for pictures and gave him a jersey and autographed ball.
      Everyone was startled when, overhead, the Jumbotron crackled to life.
      "Electron Boy, I am Dr. Dark and this is Blackout Boy," sneered an evil voice, as the villain Edgar Hansen, and his sidekick Jake Anderson, both of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," taunted the young superhero. "We are here to take over Seattle and make it dark!"
      On the Jumbotron, a video showed a Puget Sound Electric employee Jim Hutchinson trapped in the top of his bucket truck in front of PSE's Bellevue headquarters. Only Electron Boy could save him.
      As Electron Boy's motorcade, the DeLorean, the 25 motorcycle officers and a white limo, rolled through downtown Bellevue, pedestrians stopped in their tracks and pulled out their cameras to take pictures. Clearly, somebody famous was in town. But who could it be?
      "It's Electron Boy," Erik's older sister, Charlotte Foote, shouted out the window of the limousine.
      More than 250 PSE employees gathered outside the company's headquarters and cheered as Electron Boy freed the trapped worker. "It was so loud, people in office buildings were looking out the window," said Make-A-Wish communications director Jeannette Tarcha.
      But Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy were still at large. Electron Boy got a tip that the evil duo were at the Space Needle, where they had disabled the elevator and trapped people on the observation deck. Racing back to Seattle, Electron Boy stepped out of the DeLorean to a cheering crowd of dozens of admirers, and confronted his nemesis.
      "How did you find us, Electron Boy?" Dr. Dark demanded.
      Erik wordlessly leapt at Dr. Dark with his lightning rod, freezing the villain. Then he unlocked the elevator and freed the people trapped upstairs.
      Bellevue police Officer Curtis McIvor snapped handcuffs on Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy, who couldn't resist some last words: "How can we thank you for saving our souls?"
      A tiny smile played around Electron Boy's mouth. Just for good measure, he held his lightning sword to Blackout Boy's throat again. The crowd went wild. "Hip-hip, hooray!"
      Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw stepped forward with a key to the city and a proclamation that Thursday was Electron Boy Day. Afterward, Erik posed for the TV cameras, flexed his muscles and spent some time astride a Bellevue police motorcycle.
      "He's over the moon," said Foote. "This is definitely beyond anything we thought it would be."
      Watching her son run across the plaza in front of the Space Needle, mom Judy Martin said Erik goes to school when he's able, but is often too tired. "He hasn't had this much energy in a long time," she said. "They called it the power of the wish, and they're right."
      Like any good superhero, Electron Boy kept his innermost thoughts to himself. But he did have one important thing to say:
      "This is the best day of my life."


Quote of the Day: Morrissey

In a statement released in the wake of the April 12th death of his "super fan" Melinda Hsu, singer Morrissey said the following:

"Life's only promise is its final deadline. When Mel, and others who are dear to us, depart, we should at least realize as we shuffle along living our small and persecuted lives, how absolutely ridiculous it is to be afraid of anything or anyone on this unhappy planet."