Sunday, February 22, 2009
Living life like it's golden
The irony of Hollywood's award season avalanche of accolades to Mumbai populism with a fairytale ending amid the climate of righteous anger towards anyone in the upper tax bracket is a wry punchline to real-life tragicomedy. In spite of the juxtaposition of laughing to keep from crying, I'm always good for getting my crystal ball on in the name of a side hustle. In case you need to sneak a peek at a ballot before finalizing picks for the office pool, my choices are as follows...
Should win: Slumdog Millionaire
Will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Should win: Sean Penn, Milk
Will win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Should win: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Will win: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor:
Should win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Will win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress:
Should win: Viola Davis, Doubt
Will win: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Should win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Will win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Screenplay:
Should win: Milk
Will win: Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Should win: Slumdog Millionaire
Will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature:
Should win: Kung Fu Panda
Will win: Wall-E
Best Documentary Feature:
Should win: Trouble The Water
Will win: Man On Wire
Foreign Language Film:
Should win: Waltz With Bashir
Will win: Waltz With Bashir
Best Costume Design:
Should win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Will win: The Duchess
Best Original Song:
Should win: Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire
Will win: Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire
Saturday, February 14, 2009
My funny valentine
Showing contempt for February 14th usually gets one shoved into the conventional "bitter, lonely spinster" category of which I am a charter member, but it's a bit deeper than just being alone. The sheer competitive horsetrading aspect of watching women compete for attention by the metric of fluffy pink hearts and rose bouquets feels way retrograde. While it would be nice to have someone to cuddle up with and split a bowl of spaghetti alla carbonara, is it necessary to do so at the lobbying of Hallmark, Russell Stover and 1-800-Flowers?
According to the Beatles, "all we need is love," but breaking in my new vibrator will suit me just fine in the meantime.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Seven whole days
Barack Obama is President.
Barack Obama is President.
I'm sorry, but I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around this new reality. Hearing news anchors lead off pieces at the top of the hour with the phrase "President Obama" as standard media protocol still brings a goofy grin to my face. Scrolling through the presidential slideshow on the White House web site brought me to tears. It still feels like a dream and I haven't woken up yet.
A man named Barack Obama won. A black man from an urban metropolis who didn't go goosehunting to prove his manhood. A solid liberal Democrat. He actually won. In a goddamn electoral landslide. He won. Here. In America. This isn't the screenplay to some summer action flick, James Earl Jones isn't providing voiceover work and an asteroid isn't heading straight for the Earth. WE did it. We actually elected a smart, sincere, sophisticated person to be President who is black and named Barack Hussein Obama.
Intellectualism is back like vinyl leggings.
Sorry. Just can't quite believe it yet. During the '06 midterms, the first verse to Prince's 1999 came to mind in crystallizing the mood of the moment. I think it bears repeating more now than then.
"I was dreaming when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this morning
Could've sworn it was judgment day..."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I, too, sing America
"She promised all the sweetest giftsPresident Barack Obama.
That only the heavens could bestow
You bring your light and shine like morning
And as you so gracefully give
Her light as long as you live
I'll always remember this moment..."
— Sade, The Sweetest Gift
Amazing grace, how sweet that sound.
The day universally acknowledged by us brown folk as the one we never thought we'd live to see, the one my mother told me was a pipe dream a mere two summers ago, the one which served as a pilgrimage to our nation's capital whether you were from Brooklyn or Birmingham, the one that compelled me to brave the frigid cold and daunting crowds to be an eyewitness to history.
I was born twenty-nine years ago today. My first born day ushered in the era of greed, irresponsibility and neglect to our working class which I pray has come to an overdue end with the changing of the guard.
My parents emigrated to the United States from the West Indies during the 60's in search of a better life. My father inspired by his countryman Stokely Carmichael and the civil rights movement stressed the importance of political activism. I remember coloring homemade signs and counting out buttons as a hyperactive eight-year old in a cramped church basement, nagging him as why he was working so hard to elect Jesse Jackson during the chilly winter months of 1988. As a child, I couldn't fully grasp what the big deal about a Black president was. After all, I learned about Eric Williams and Michael Manley alongside Abraham Lincoln and John Adams from early on. He had lived through prime ministers and heads of state who looked just like him before becoming a freshwater Yankee. So, what difference did it make?
He tilted my chin upwards to his serious eyes and said, "Because our hearts and minds need to match our Constitution if all people really are created equal. We're not there yet."
In my experiences traveling abroad, I've always been struck by how nationalism by people of color in other countries differed so much from what I came to live and learn here at home. Even if their skin was darker than mine, their pride of country was never a question. If you're from the Dominican Republic, you name it. If you're from Trinidad, you claim it. But in America, it boiled down to "I'm Black." Period. It was the only place where regardless if you were born and raised here, somehow we were made to feel apart from our own country. Look no further than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when our own citizens were labeled "refugees" repeatedly by the mainstream media for days on end. Carrying on the complicated but necessary exercise of critical patriotism, to hold a mirror to America's conscience, forcing the nation to live up to the guiding principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence can leave one feeling like a stranger in a native land.
But as I watched the son of an African economist and an anthropologist from Kansas raise his hand and repeat "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...," the tears flooded my eyes as a cleansing release. The anger and xenophobia whipped up in the witching hours of the general election became dead weight. The romanticized immigrant story of Ellis Island became threaded into the story of my mother and father. The stars and stripes became a symbol of not what was perpetually wrong, but what could be made right.
And it felt like that the hope of a cocoa colored girl with a funny last name can finally believe America has a place for her too.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Requiem for a dream
Because I fall into the Gen X category, the data bank of "where were you when?" memories for me are few and far between. I could never pinpoint an exact time when we've stood at the precipice of the kind of seismic shift that this country will undergo tomorrow afternoon at high noon.
But what I am amazed at is the optimism of the trailblazers who came before, opened doors we can easily walk through and oftentimes take for granted now. In an fascinating bit of footage unearthed by BBC World News America from 1964, MLK expressed confidence that the barrier so many of us thought we'd never see fall would happen "within 40 years." Even before Black folk were legally allowed to take part in our own democracy, his conviction that a person of color could eventually ascend to the highest office in the land makes even ironic detachment seem like a sorry kind of wisdom.
Hope springs eternal.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
First lady in waiting
"Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her." - Barack Obama, The New Yorker
Friday, January 16, 2009
Still delusional after all these years
"Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads headin' south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe..." - Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind, 1974