Monday, October 31, 2005
Bewitched, bothered & bewildered
Tricks aren't just for kids: Memo to women with a madonna/whore complex who don't have the balls to wear latex and fishnets on any of the other 364 days of the year. Dressing up like a slut for Halloween isn't cute, it's simply a contrived excuse to release your inner harlot under the guise of "being someone else." Can donning the naughty nurse or French maid motifs just to wind up face first in some strange guy's lap be any less creative?
"If there's one lesson to learn in college, it's that nothing brings out a person's inner asshole like a costume. Alcohol may unhinge our self-control, but eventually, it also makes us barf, putting a stop to the insanity. A costume, on the other hand, gives the dangerous impression of anonymity, a conscious break from our usual standards of behavior." - Nina Lalli, The Village VoiceLadies, if you need to wait for an annual faux-holiday that's geared to children for an excuse to let your freak flag fly without shame...you may want to consider trading scriptures for the Kama Sutra more often.
To commemorate the all-day festival of fright...I bring to you, the 20 greatest horror flicks of all time as selected by a blue ribbon panel, spearheaded by a sleep deprivation expert. Yours truly...try and sit through these when no one's home on a late night.
20) Sleepaway Camp
18) The Haunting
17) Salem's Lot
16) The Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
13) Friday The 13th
12) The Omen
9) Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
6) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and I mean the 1974 Tobe Hooper original, not the bullshit update starring tits on toast, Jessica Biel...blecch!)
5) The Shining
3) A Nightmare On Elm Street
1) The Exorcist
Friday, October 28, 2005
If the orange jumpsuit fits...
Recipe for Straight Scooter Shooter:
1 count obstruction of justice
2 counts of perjury
2 counts of making false statements
Place the details of Valerie "Blond. Jane Blond" Plame's identity into cocktail shaker along with heaping doses of vendetta and retribution. Muddle the confidentiality revealed from Dick Cheney in your role as the proverbial Tweety bird to NY Times bedfellow Judy Miller until top-secret info's released. Makes a maximum of 30 (years in the clank) servings.
"I will not end the investigation until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them we have carried out our responsibility sufficiently," Fitzgerald said, [source: The Washington Post]Just in case you thought the portly prince of darkness gets to walk away scot free from this impasse, rethink that stance. Ramifications of this scandal is reverberating with the force of a thunderclap and clearly the merry minions at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue are all a-flutter about the guillotine landing squarely on the architect of the "criminalization of politics" head. The no-frills, thorough demeanor of the prosecutor (who wisely refrained from taking the bait of voracious reporters at the press conference looking for slivers of red meat quotables) has Rethuglican cronies shaking in their Brooks Brothers suits with reason. It's beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Can a Gaza Strip detente be far behind?
The Nevilles and Percys. The Hatfields and McCoys. Jay-Z and Nas. 4 years after the lyrical joustfest that had all 5 boroughs lighting up Hot 97's airwaves and taking sides for King of New York supremacy, it's all over. Or so they say so for now. Looking back, does it really even matter who "won"? If this clash of the titans can be officially squashed, is it possible for Esco and Hova supporters to maintain a peaceful co-existance? I mean, even though Esco did put his foot in the camel's ass something awful which prompted an embarrassing display of psuedo civility on the Angie Martinez show...we can all get along. Can't we?
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Blurring the edges
But something weird happened on the trips to the health food store...
You've seen them among you and more often than not cringed inwardly whenever they opened their mouth to speak. Gum snapping, finger wagging, neck rolling broads from the block with "ryde or die chick" wishes and Courvousier dreams, equipped with the must-have essentials: rhinestone encrusted celly in one hand and bag of salt & vinegar Bon Ton's in the other. Better versed in the groundbreaking literary works of Omar Tyree, Carl Weber and Kashamba Williams than say... Kurt Vonnegut, random vignettes of the Maury Povich variety play out on urban radio advice hours before amused audiences who just can't get enough. Casual Fridays means wearing the tightest Parasuco jeans fresh off the wire hangers in the hall closet. Pictures adorning your desk all feature your girlfriends in the club with the same half-drunk pose — ass pushed out, Dixie cups raised. Aptly named after either a luxury automobile, alcoholic beverage or fashion designer, the likelihood of being told where to go by one in decibels approaching a sonic boom was a safer bet than wondering whether the flamboyant hairdo was thanks in part to yaki straight #5B or Spanish deep wave #9. Their utilities may be in collections for the second straight month, but dammit... isn't this multicolored Dooney & Bourke worth giving a bill collector a tongue lashing over? Mining the ghetto girl specimens for comic relief was about as easy as using a lunch hour to have a silk wrap and airbrushing at the nearest Korean.
But the strangest thing occurred on the way to the bodega...
You're well acquainted with her ... the quintessential BAP, that singular cross section of money, grooming and an insular pedigree befitting the créme de la créme of our kind of people's elite. She's attended the expensive private schools, vacations abroad in exotic locales, seasonal cotillions and debutante balls are the only sports worth following and namedropping places like Sag Harbor and Martha's Vineyard as if it were your neighborhood Big K-Mart is commonplace. Striving for perfection in every aspect of life is the mantra programmed from the minute these pampered princesses make their grand entrance out the womb. Raised with a mindset no different than your average Park Avenue Pollyanna who's all-American, but the inevitable "pigment figment" ensues when they learn the hard way that a comfortable upbringing doesn't wipe away that pesky inconvenience of brown skin. The elitist navigation through the Negro geography of "what-neighborhood-do-you-live, where-did-you-go-to-college, where-did-you-grow-up, how-much-money-does-your-Daddy-make, what-clubs-do-you-belong-to, are-you-lighter-than-a-brown-paper-bag" smacks about as relevant as a Hilary Banks quotable. Incessant chatter about Lilly Pulitzer and sing-a-longs of "Where And When I Enter" have the potency of an OD on Shoot. Me. Now.
But a detour made me veer off course en route to the bistro...
"Black is not just ghetto. Black is not socially or aesthetically inferior. Black is vital to American culture." — Karen Grisgby Bates, [source: Salon.com, Young, Black and Too White]Right around the time I finished college as a wide-eyed optimist ready to tackle the world, I began letting my ghetto membership renewal lapse to branch out and embrace... *gulp* buppiedom. The days of wearing a name plate, Timbs and a North Face as my daily uniform was long over. I traded in placing my takeout orders through bulletproof glass to sidewalk cafés in the sitcom-ready areas of Fort Greene, the East Village and SoHo. Flipping through Stress, Rap Pages and Honey wasn't gonna cut the mustard anymore. I needed substance over style, so it was The Nation under my arm and The New Republic added to my subscription roll call.
"Oh, you think you too good to just eat a damn burger now...with all your chichi highfalutin' shit," a grammar school pal sneered when I opted for Mangia over Mickey D's during a lunch meeting. A bitch can't even decide to go for a non-artery clogging culinary choice without having my realness questioned.
Even since junior high, I was always paranoid about coming off too uppity for my own good. If I knew the answer to any random factoid, I'd purposely keep my mouth shut to avoid the "know-it-all" sideways glances. Reared in a lower middle class West Indian household, the only Jack & Jill I knew of were the ones who went up a hill to fetch a pail of water — however, while I was on the fringe of the rough & tumble areas of Brooklyn, my block was a curious oasis of well-manicured lawns, concerned neighbors, peaceful night's sleep and tree lined streets. While it was light years away from the bastion of brownstone bourgeoisie, I still got painted with the "she think she got it like that" brush from girls who didn't know the least bit about me. So I did what any self-conscious girl would do. I overcompensated...out went the prim and proper buns, in went baby hair slicked into god awful squiggles with Let's Jam (what the hell was I thinking?!), gold dangled from the lobes the size of hula hoops, fitted Guess jeans, one too many coats of Bonnie Bell lip smackers and a healthy dose of attitude to cover up the nerd lurking beneath the surface.
Being lumped in the census category of mere minorities aren't enough since the kissing cousin of race — class splinters us into further subdivisions. The melange of experiences for women of color are always shoehorned into the shopworn variety of ghetto, granola, geek or glam. All too often we expect shades of us to fit into rigid classifications of what a Black woman is supposed to look like, talk like and act like. We retreat to tactics of scorn and ridicule at the first hint someone isn't "down" and roll our eyes in exasperation at the ones atop the Blacker than thou soapbox. Sistas on the supreme side of siddity get the cold shoulder and we discard the round-the-way girls altogether.
"The status of having choices is assumed, still, to be a 'white' thing." But is the black culture they're being exposed to reinforcing values of delayed gratification, hard work and integrity, or frustrating them? We have the right to be culturally discerning — to exclude the videos, music, movies, or friends who undermine our values, regardless of their color."Black culture is far too rich, far too reaching and far too diverse, a brilliant gumbo of different styles and culture from around the world and the point that bares repeating to the slumbering masses who cling to archaic definitions of ethnicity is this: There is no one way to be black, nor is everything labeled black worth including in their lives. Sentences that begin with "Black people don't..." makes me wanna scream like Janet and Michael trapped in a spaceship too.
- Black people do watch other media outlets outside of BET.
- Black people can and do eat sushi.
- Black people can have aversions to watermelon.
- Black people can and do pay attention to politics.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
She shall not be moved
An American Icon. Pioneer. Heroine.
The mother of the civil rights movement.
Pretty lofty accolades bestowed on a petite Tuskegee-born seamstress who stared down the practice of segregationist Jim Crow mandates and simply refused to bend to the status quo of separate and unequal any longer.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was jailed and fined $14 for her refusal to give up her seat to a White man on a bus headed to downtown Montgomery, Alabama.
A woman decided to take a stand for what she believed was right. Her measured, dignified act of defiance sparked the chain reaction that would put into motion the most significant social advancements made in the United States for people of color. Now some 40 years later, the question marks abound for a post baby boomer era that's disturbingly more disconnected from those who came before them is: how long do we have to ride around in our own personal minivans of the mind, oblivious before we reach the corner of Sick & Tired to even care? We can't possibly know our destination until we understand why we've been spared the road less traveled now thanks to their sacrifices.
Her legacy stretches well beyond the boundaries of pop music confections with a hit OutKast song as her namesake and punchlines leveled at how much of a role she really played in Barbershop banter. She demonstrated that it was possible to sit down while still standing tall. May her spirit live on.
"Her life should inspire a generation yet unborn to stand up," Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia [source: The Associated Press]
February 4, 1913 - October 24, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Maybe AdSense is just the tip of the iceberg
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Could've been a contender
Adriana Evans - Say You Won't
Thievery Corporation - Pela Janela
Christina Aguilera - Lovin' Me For Me
Mint Condition - My Dear
Caron Wheeler - Little Girl Blue
Lisa Stansfield - Suzanne
Sweetback - Softly Softly
Javier - She Spoke To Me
Chante Moore - Better Than Making Love
Everything But The Girl - Troubled Mind
The Wallflowers - Closer To You
Goodie Mob - Thought Process
Kylie Minogue - Chocolate
Shakira - Obtener Un Si
Nas - Doo Rags
D'Angelo - Spanish Joint
Janet Jackson - And On And On
The Tony Rich Project - Hey Blue
Imani Coppola - Naked City (Love To See U Shine)
Tweet - Smoking Cigarettes
Garbage - Cherry Lips
DJ Rap - You Get Around
Lucy Pearl - Lala
GZA - Investigative Reports
Shades - Serenade
Billy Lawrence - Paradise
Teena Marie - Stop The World
Davina - Mercy
Tori Amos - Liquid Diamonds
Sade - I Never Thought I'd See The Day
Madonna - Thief Of Hearts
Nelly Furtado - The Grass Is Green
Big L - No Endz, No Skinz
Prince - Sometimes It Snows In April
Amp Fiddler - Superficial
Gwen Stefani - The Real Thing (Wendy & Lisa Slow Jam Mix)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Funny how time flies when you're having fun
"If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice"
I'd had never ventured to la isla del encanto before and when the opportunity presented itself for a 5-night getaway from the incessant rains that pummeled the Mid-Atlantic relentlessly for the past week and a half with airfare discounts reaching rock bottom prices, gift wrapped in the pretty satin bow of non-stop flights in a shade over 3 hours, how could I resist?
The rustic architecture of Old San Juan, the vibrancy of Calle San Sebastian (pictured above) at night, the amazing colonial churches, the pulse of Santurce, hanging out with the locals at Piñones or browsing the lineup of kiosks on Luquillo Beach was a welcome slice of the real P.R. outside of just indulging in cheap rum courtesy of the Bacardi factory (which I happily obliged daily) and picking out the ugliest coquí souvenir you could find.
However, I spent the bulk of time in Isla Verde (right) as this was where my hotel was, and since so many places were situated in the area - it functioned as the hub I wound up coming back to. Bars, a glutton of restaurant chains, high-rise condos, strip malls, 24-hr. pharmacies, hip-hop and reggaeton blasting from every other car that whizzed by certainly had the big city feel of life in the 5 boroughs. It was so refreshing to actually make a late-night run for a pint of Haagen-Dazs from Walgreens around the corner even though I was miles away from the 'burbs.
The beach was literally a hop, skip and a jump away...slipping into my flip flops only was a 30 yard dash for both the tourists and native beach bums alike. However, the sands and seas were of the Monet variety. Amazing to photograph from a distance, but up close? Straight seaweed city. And there was no way in hell that I was going halfway out into the ocean just to frolic in the aqua blues. Reclining with a steady supply of mojitos handy while watching butter pecan Adonises of the Kamar De Los Reyes variety jog up and down the surf for their daily cardio was clearly a better alternative.
After being lulled into an almost otherworldly-like state of relaxation, it was only fitting that once I touched back down in the Rotten Apple, a mantra of "don't worry, be happy" would soon be obliterated.
I was determined to quell my over packing tendencies for once, so I traveled light with only 2 (!!!) carry-on pieces in addition to my shoulder tote... a giant step for mankind if I do say so myself. But the self-congratulatory satisfaction I felt turned into sheer rage when only my Louis Vuitton packall came through the baggage conveyor belt. My rolling Pegasé was nowhere to be found. I waited a bit longer. Kept peering through the rubber curtains to see if there was anything still left to be unloaded from the aircraft's storage. Not a trace in sight. Color me stressed the fuck out. Off my heels clacked at warp speed to American Airlines' customer service office to rip some unassuming rep a new asshole. Nothing is more annoying that explaining a situation to someone who has a hard time jump starting their brain cells out of neutral to give you a succinct answer. First the clueless wonder couldn't tell me for sure whether my belongings still MIA were floating on a flight that hadn't yet arrived even with the boarding pass I provided. So I did what any irrational chick would do. I went to her superior and berated the both of them while tearing the claims form already filled out until I got a satisfactory response to basic questions posed. An hour had ticked by and the next flight was touching down @ JFK in another 5 minutes. Yet another jaunt upstairs to Terminal 9 would be required, but my Smart Carte was moving like grease lightning. Finally I could stop waiting to exhale once I saw the familiar monogrammed trolley with my name on it.
The relief of that small victory dissipated almost as quickly as it had began once I was accosted by a fast talking Bajan cabbie who thought I was some fresh water Yankee who didn't know any better once he tried to sell me on a $40 price tag from Kennedy to my front door. Negro please. Hustling is in my DNA...
As we bickered down the Belt Parkway to slash the price down to my usual $30 fare, my iPod shifted in my purse and suddenly Lighters Up filled my ears with the staccato beat every bit as rough around the edges as this welcome back had went all night.
Like I always said, there's no place like home.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Escape from New York
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
She's gotta have it
The video iPod, unveiled today by CEO Steve Jobs at the headquarters in San Francisco as the newest addition to the stable of mp3 players that's revolutionized pop culture. The underground buzz was building this week for the pending announcement with good reason.
Sleek, multifaceted, compact. Just how I like my accessories. Now not only can you still store music and photos with a nifty color screen...music videos and network TV episode availability of shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives for a mere buck ninety-nine the day after it airs?! Ay dios mio, I haven't been this excited since the 6 season DVD boxset reissuance of Sex and the City. You just know self styled "G-Unit soljahs" huggin' a block near you will make sure that someone's gonna die over this of 5.5 oz. of hotness.
If those status-defining white headphone buds still spur longing stares of envy on public transportation from the project chicks lagging behind on the Discman express or even worse... with cassette Walkmans (egads!), can you imagine the whiplash I'm gonna cause when I whip this out the LV casing to switch playlists? Yes dahlinks, I'm just snooty like that.
Gadget geeks, start your pre-orders.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Freeze tags on the way to 7th heaven
"And we lay down on the sand of the sea
And before us animosity will stand and decree
That we speak not of love only blasphemy
And in the distance, 6 others will curse me
But that's alright
4 I will watch them fall
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
...7." - Prince
7 things I plan to do before I die:
- Make the transition from merely going through the motions for a paycheck's sake to having a career that makes me feel fulfilled while affording my compulsive shoe habit.
- See my family's homelands in their entirety to deepen my appreciation, knowledge and pride in where my roots lie.
- Backpack throughout Europe to meditate on life, love, the pursuit of happiness with a map in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.
- Get my driver's license. No, I'm not an alien from the planet Melmar. But since I reside well outside the city limits of West Bubblefuck, USA, affording to delegate cash to others to be behind the wheel isn't a stretch. So yeah, um... I'm working on that.
- Free myself from the 8-ball of financial messiness I put myself in as an irresponsible, reckless, devil-may-care undergrad with a pocketbook full of kryptonite. Credit cards.
- Become a do-right woman so I can attract a do-right man in turn.
- Get into the Dolce & Gabbana corset dress hanging in my closet. It's been taunting me for over a year but I am determined to work that shit if even I'm old and gray stuck eating creamed corn out of a can. Nearly had to scrap with a drag queen at a sample sale for it...you think it ain't getting some mileage?
- Sing. Although my public forays to the stage have ended eons ago, I don't break mirrors or cause backyard pets to howl in pain while harmonizing in the shower. Not quite Whitney in her prime but nowhere near Macy Gray.
- Cook. A woman brought up in a Caribbean household without culinary skills borders on sheer blasphemy. So please believe, I gets down in the kitchen.
- Speak fluent Spanish, passable Italian and pedestrian French. I'm working to get my weight up on the latter.
- Tie a cherry stem with my teeth. It's one of the barroom tricks that'll get knowing glances every time.
- Remain in the company of me, me and me while out and about feeling totally comfortable.
- Be a stand-in tool time girl around the house...Bob Vila need not apply. Almost anything I've put my mind to that required assembly or technical instructions for an electronics/furniture setup hasn't caused much grief for me to figure out.
- Kill folks with kindness. While it's a stretch for me to camouflage my emotions because I have the demeanor that sends all kinds of body language red flags, I can buck for an Oscar nod with the best of bullshit artists. The same folks who would get serenaded with a tinkle shower on their grave could garner a honeyed smile and remain none the wiser.
- Swim. After watching my mom nearly drown before my eyes, I've upgraded my personal terror alert from anytime-I-feel-like-it amber to of-paramount-importance-in-my-repertoire orange.
- Understand the dichotomy that are Black conservatives. With so many high powered Aunt Tomasinas (see: Condi) and Stepin Fetchits (see: Clarence/Armstrong/Ward), you'd think I'd be used to the behavior of house Negroes in the public eye, but I can't help but feel like Laurence Fishburne at the end of School Daze. WAKE UP!
- Live in the Pacific Northwest. Anywhere that has a propensity for extended periods of rain, an onslaught of brothers seeking out Beckys exclusively and no sources of West Indian culture just ain't happening. EVER.
- Get to work on time. This is where the bane of stereotypes kick my ass since I've been afflicted with CPT since high school and I see no signs of the habit being broken in the foreseeable future.
- Lose my childlike enthusiasm. People tend to equate getting older with morphing into some crotchety stick-in-the-mud and that just ain't me. I'm quite the cynic, but becoming jaded towards it all just isn't living. Little things still bring me joy. Laughter at damn near everything is a huge makeup of who I am and it keeps me from taking myself too seriously.
- Cop a bootleg anything. Whether it's a CD, DVD or a Louie Fuitton straight outta Canal St. I can't get with the imitations. Call me crazy, but I need the liner notes of an album. I live for the brand new smell and tags of a purse. Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.
- Take my fondness for certain celebrities to the outer reachings of an online restraining order. If it comes to the point where you're threatening bodily harm towards a perfect stranger in defense of your favorite pinup's honor. Log the fuck off. Immediately.
- Intelligence. I cannot begin to stress the importance of this enough. And I don't mean in just the conventional prerequisites of what boosts a GPA, but also in a well rounded arc that encompasses the gamut of interest stories from all areas. If we can vibe about Cornel West & Henry Louis Gates with the same ease as 2 cone layup vs. the jump stop for shooting effectiveness - now we're getting somewhere. However, if phrases like "conversate" are in your vocab and BET's Nightly News is your only source to the outside world, take a cue from the Pharcyde because I'll pass your ass by.
- Confidence. Often mistaken for DL thug bravado and arrogance, the true essence is neither. The quiet, yet distinctive power of a man whose at ease in his own skin with the kind of magnetism that draws you in rather than leaving you cold is one helluva aphrodisiac.
- A self-effacing sense of humor. It goes without saying that laughter has always been my quicker-picker-upper and a man who can who gives as good as he gets is totally a keeper.
- Good looks. Hell, I'd be one hypocritical bitch if I didn't admit that being physically blessed doesn't hurt. Rather not have someone drop-dead gorgeous as that's just asking to have your mirrors monopolized, but if I've got to wake up to you in the morning having a face that more people than just your mother will love isn't too much to ask.
- A sense of style. No, you don't have to wave a metrosexual banner with vigor, but recognizing that Timbs and a football jersey don't mesh with every damn thing goes a long way.
- Proper hygiene. Bad breath, teeth the color of stained glass, malodorous body stenches, unkempt haircuts/braids/'locs...does it even need to be explained with these are non-negotiables?
- Someone who recognizes that chivalry & romance are NOT dead. I'm sorry, but coming at me with the "yo, why don't you come over and chill?" line will earn you a dial tone. There are too many things that cost little to nada which are a welcome change of pace other than being holed up on your couch watching music videos.
- Jawn (the scourge of Philly lingo has rubbed off on me. Forgive me Father for I have sinned.)
- Say word?
- Yeah right
- Curtis Martin. His reputation for being a born-again holy roller is known, so praying that one of these days I can get him to lay hands on me to release the heathen beneath the surface has been added to my Hail Mary's.
- Derek Jeter. Okay, so maybe I wasn't as sympathetic as I could've been about the whole threatening letter thing, since the likelihood of DJ getting some brown sugar in his life is slim to none...but I've still got love for him. The green-eyed heartbreaker single handedly made me sit up and take notice of the fall classic and kept my attention for 10 years strong. I do love a man in pinstripes. ;o)
- Nas. Call him Nasty, Esco, God's Son... but most of all, call this lyrical wordsmith very easy on the eyes. It ain't hard to tell why this Queensbridge dime has had me open since the first time I caught a glimpse of him on Video Music Box. Chipped tooth and all, he was still flyer than your average.
- Bryce Wilson. One word sums up this former half of Groove Theory: yummy.
- Chris Webber. The panty-dropping powers of his smile work like a Spanish Fly overdose. What a tall, chocolaty drink of fineness he is.
- Aaron McGruder. What's more appealing than boyish good looks alone? A cutie with killer wit and a brilliant mind. Behold the possessor of both qualities. Mental masturbation would be taken to a whole 'nother level.
- Jesse Metcalfe. When has sleeping with the gardener been such an obvious choice?
Jagged bitter pill
As enemies of all things pinstripes rejoice, I have no choice but to find solace in multiple bottles of Absolut to numb the sting after leaving a dent in my flat screen from hurling my fuzzy slippers in frustration. At the end of the day, yes it's still just a game. But for the casual fan, it's hard to fully understand what it's like to ride and die with one team. Hurts like a motherfucker. The countdown to hope budding eternal at Legends Field begins now.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Hooked on ebonics
Drama Queen, Bad Girlz, Going Broke, You Wrong For That, Hoodlum.
While it gives the appearance of giving a voice to everyday folks in the 'hood, the themes never skew from a redundant blend of pimps, hos, crackheads, hustlers, drug dealers, aspiring rappers, baby mamas, thugs and the chickenheads who love them, it's blaxploitation blinged out for the hip-hop generation. The most successful in the genre all have a heaping dose of coarse language, fast cars, loose women and bullets spraying. And it's no longer relegated to authors on the self promoting on the underground and Black-owned bookstores, now established retail chains like Barnes & Noble and Waldenbooks have entire category subsets devoted to "street life" as an offshoot of its African-American literature sections.
Nowadays it seems that a prior conviction and a rap sheet are impressive credentials to pander to the beauty shop audience who prize scandal over symbolism. Since the advent of book clubs like Black Expressions have gone a long way in advancing the cause of dumbing down our fiction, I'll happily play the "uppity negress" card because knowing that a sizable majority of sisters consider Teri Woods, La Jill Hunt and Zane must-read essentials spurs the urge for a bonfire. The quality of many of these books don't even meet up to Francine Pascal standards. Honing one's craft, proper sentence structure, making grammatical sense and utilizing the skills of an editor (!!!) has now become a foreign concept since it's all about getting paper.
"Hip-hop fiction is doing for 15- to 25-year-old African-Americans what 'Harry Potter' did for kids," says Matt Campbell, a buyer for Waldenbooks. "Getting a new audience excited about books." - source, Newsweek.com [It's Gangsta Lit]Guilty pleasures cut across all walks of Black life and the highbrow savant with a New York Times-bestseller jones is just as apt to sneak a peek in at Omar Tyree or E. Lynn Harris like anyone else (myself included). But when there's no balance between the serious and the shallow, you have to wonder whether the constant onslaught of negative glorification doesn't cry out for an IQ detox. If we've got the income to make overnight sensations of Vickie Stringer, Shannon Holmes and glitz 'n gangsta grit queen bee Nikki Turner, it's not too much to ask that our support should extend to unmined talents like Percival Everett (his satire of this very subject in question covered in the brilliantly vicious Erasure), Delores Phillips, Z.Z. Packer and Malcolm Gladwell also. The after effects to Morgan Spurlock after scarfing down enough junk food for an African village in a month's time was well documented. Just imagine how being reliant on the inspiration for the next installment of BET Uncut can do to your brain cells.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Riddle me this
Why is it when you're waiting on an elevator after pushing the button, the next genius comes along and presses it... again? Better yet, why do jackasses hop in without looking and then ask "is this up or down?"
With fall in full swing, why has the office practice of grown ass adults slangin' candy for their snot nosed brats now surpassed the trend of $1 Poland Springs and oversized "support our troops" ribbon magnets?
Why is it necessary to go to the Army to be all that you can be?
Why does the gargoyle face of David Ortiz send me scurrying for voodoo dolls and the nearest currandera on santeria practices to inflict a mysterious game time injury, yet I fantasize about Manny Ramirez grounding into a double play in between my thighs? (I know as the high priestess of pinstripes, I'm supposed to hate all things Boston... but it's downright sinful how this clod is making me weak lately) ...
Just take a good, hard glance at Exhibit A above right quick. Ladies (and a few fellas... how you doin'), I rest my case.
*crosses legs and squirms*
When is ESPN going to let go of their obvious distaste for my beloved Bombers? Impartial reporting, my ass.
Why am I not heading to Miami this weekend for Carnival? Dammit!
Why is it impossible to walk out of Target with ONE goddamn item? It's ridiculous how people debate the existence of Lucifer when their bullseye logo points you straight into the depths of consumer hell.
Why do I have to work on Columbus Day?! Private firms suck.
Of all the people Vanity Fair could've chosen to headline the "throw a dog bone" castoff hip-hop issue, they had to go with the shiny happy dim bulb, Beyoncé? WHY?!
Why won't the Jets ever get a pass on being on the receiving end of shit-out-of-luck situations?
Why do people call your phone and ask you "who's this?" Hell, you dialed me up!
Why do men still send their boy over to talk to you instead up growing some balls in doing it themselves?
When is the trend of pointless "don't worry, be happy" ditties on plastic bracelets going to die?
Feel free to keep the unsolvable equations going.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Nappily ever after
That's how long my addiction to the contents of Pandora's box lasted.
Affirm, Optimum, Hawaiian Silky, Motions, Dudley's, Dark & Lovely, African Pride, Just For Me, Mizani, Creme of Nature, Soft & Beautiful, Silk Elements, At One With Nature, Elasta QP, Fabulaxer, Revlon Realistic, Gentle Treatment, Isoplus, Luster's Pink, Parnevu, Organic Root Stimulator, Raveen, Summit, TCB, Ultra Sheen, Bantu, Lustrasilk, Pro-Line, Precise, All Ways Natural, Alternatives, Phytospecific, Paul Mitchell...
You name it and I've tried it. All part of the neverending quest for the Holy Grail.
If you had asked me point blank why I kept at the relaxing game for that long, you would've gotten the usual rundown of excuses that's become the cornerstone of the pledge of allegiance to the relaxer kit.
- It's easier to maintain
- I didn't have the right face shape for short hair
- Growing it all back would take forever
- Wearing it straight is simply more "professional looking" for the workplace
- Upkeep would be too expensive
I had longed to break the cycle of creamy crack consultations for years, but fear of letting go of the only routine I really ever knew would paralyze me whenever my frustrations got the better of me. Could I still be considered attractive with a natural? The question alone sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? If the barometer is held at whether members of the opposite sex pay you any attention, if women stop to pay a compliment or significant others and family members will approve, it isn't such a farfetched notion.
Growing up, I always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. Once it was beaten into submission with extreme heat, the finished product was a sight to behold. It hung down my back and swung over my shoulders with ease. The telltale coatings of Bergamot made my abundant ebony pigtails stay wrapped around my barrettes. But the sheer volume of it all would send me into tantrums. Being tender headed with tangles made for one agonizing equation. "Hold your ears" became the three word sentence I dreaded as the rattail comb sectioned off a moptop saturated with Dax pressing grease as a prep for my nemesis. The hot comb. Source of all scars borne out of not keeping still. My childhood hairdresser I affectionately call Tantie Shirley never failed to remark that I had enough hair for 3 heads since it was thicker than a frozen milkshake.
By the time I reached the seventh grade, wearing it half up/half-down in puffy plaits on the daily wasn't gonna cut the mustard in the minor leagues of public junior high. Chicks in homeroom had left the been there, done that approach of a press & curl long ago and ruled the hallways with their bounce 'n behavin' perms. I wanted to be down. I had to be initiated into the sorority of Gamma Mix Activator pronto. My pleading cries for the magic no-lye potion finally got my mom to relent at age 10 and godmother Marcia came through with the PCJ box ready to turn this lion's mane into silky strands that I could manage on my own. After all the begging, the first time around, it didn't "take." While it laid a bit flatter in the front....overall, the difference really wasn't all that noticeable. Talk about a glitch in the beauty matrix. I hit the jackpot on my second try with Tantie Shirley. Bless her old fashioned heart. She couldn't style worth a damn, but she could work a perm like you just left Orlando Pita's chair. I had the swish effect somethin' fierce! My drop curls felt like cornsilk and that lightness which allowed me to run my hands through it effortlessly was worse than any narcotic. I wanted to bottle the high forever.
The need for super-strength straightening solution only intensified in high school. I went from being used to seeing shades of me as the majority to being the minority in the racial makeup of students. It was no coincidence that the girls deemed the prettiest and got the most play from the guys all were all distant descendants of Rapunzel. The clique of the popular Black girls all were carbon copies of each other. Almost indistinguishable variations of finely textured, bone straight, nothing less than shoulder length hair. I remember overhearing an Ecuadorian classmate remark that Tonya* in our AP History class was an anomaly because sisters + long hair that didn't come from a horse's ass = utterly flabbergasting! By now, getting my hair hookup wasn't merely maintenance, it was an event. It didn't matter if my stylist said she'd "be right back" to put in an order of french fries & chicken wings while I was still left at the sink or how much my scalp felt like flames were shooting every which way, I'd grit my teeth and say it wasn't burning. No pain, no gain.
As I inched closer to my mid 20's, I was greeted with long-overdue follicle burnout. I had done damn near every style there was to experiment with at least once. French rolls, the "I Dream Of Jeannie" ponytail, pageboy bobs, the MC Lyte asymmetrical cut on top/shag tail in the back, finger waves, dyed cinnamon brown switched to a chestnut rinse and back to jet black, crimped, chignons, buns, pin curls, blunt cut bangs, flips, bantu knots, Casamas braids, Senegalese twists. I still had length, but the breakage and constant reliance on flat ironing every day was becoming too much of a hassle. Not to mention I was tired of shelling out money like clockwork while I lost my entire Saturday afternoon waiting at the salon among the suffocating crowds who would arrive from as early as 9:00 a.m. to get fried, dyed and laid to the side.
The decision to give chemicals the kiss off turned out to be a relatively easy choice after the last dose of gunky application of Smooth Touch in February. I just stopped heading in the direction of Flatbush Ave. when the weekend rolled around and resurrected the wash 'n wear habits usually saved exclusively for summer. Even though I spent so much time fighting the real texture of my hair, I was still able to encourage a pretty decent wave pattern from the crown, sides and back - but the front was totally ironed into oblivion and hung limp like a wet noodle. As spring came into focus, I was starting to feel the first sprouts of new growth. A bit of panic set in. It was almost a reflex to get my heavy handed Jamaican stylist of the moment on speed dial, but I let those pangs subside and continue to keep on the path started in winter.
Around this time, a friend recommended that I pay a visit to Curve in Bed Stuy as they were specialists on curly hair - specifically for women of color. I made my first appointment in early June to assess my options and plot my next step. The sister stylists recommended to begin transitioning from a still-relaxed state to being natural, I had two options. Cutting it all over in one fell swoop or in gradual increments. The thought alone of a date with Mr. Scissors right then made me lose my breath. The latter of the two was clearly what I could handle. Phase #1 had began. I left with a now collarbone-grazing cut and was advised to come back in 3 months time. I returned in the beginning of fall and everyone (myself included) was shocked at how much more growth had unfolded. More snips had brought the total span up to my ears. There wasn't much left except a few straggly ends that no kink could be coaxed out as they were pin straight. I was asked if I wanted to go ahead and get rid of them now too. But I couldn't quite bring myself to crossing that barrier, so I put it off for the next date scheduled. Sensing my apprehension, Titi & Miko offered to have me come back in the next week to do the big chop free of charge. After mulling that over for a day or two, I knew I wouldn't look a gift horse like this in the mouth considering their services didn't come cheap. So, the date was September 30, 2004. I was back in the hot seat to take the plunge. And Miko began to cut. And cut. And cut. And cut. As the clumps continued to fall around the floor, sudden chest palpitations had me descending into Dick Cheney territory. Inside I was freaking the fuck out, but I kept a weak smile plastered and let her continue to peel off the exterior layers right to the core. When she was finished, the effort to keep from barfing as the residual clusters were swept into the wastebasket overwhelmed me. Staring at my spiky blow-dried fade harkened to Grace Jones in Conan the Destroyer. Traces of the panini sandwich eaten for lunch immediately rose in chunks at the back of my throat. I wanted to start bawling. But off to the sink I was whisked for shampooing and fingerstyling. Suddenly the ooh's and ahh's started. I wanted to know what the hell was going on. A mirror was brought over and revealed the real me. Stripped of all additives and enhancements. Tiny ringlets crisscrossed all over my head like a maze of slinkys. I was amazed that this was what I was running from my whole life.
After the cape came off and I was left to inspect the handiwork once voila! was pronounced, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Gone was the security blanket of an incarnation that was synonymous for almost as long as anyone ever knew me. In its place was a girl staring back at me I wasn't acquainted with. Sure, the face was the same but who's that girl? The one with a close cropped curly caesar? With the apple cheeks and deep set eyes in full spotlight? I felt excited...but naked. Literally. Heading down the brownstone's steps en route to the bus ride home, I went to tuck my hair behind my right ear and realized it could just skim thru my fingertips now. This was gonna take some getting used to. A few appreciative glances on the B44 began to relax my bundle of nerves, but then the thought of pending interrogation from Mother Dearest wasn't gonna go over well. As a card carrying member of "your hair is your beauty," she's always been obsessed with lengthy locks. And for the first time ever, silence became the chastiser of choice. This turned into a recurring theme for the next 2 weeks. People I knew were shocked that I had hacked all that "pretty hair" off. I got the obligatory dose of ignorance from a few older folk who brazenly wanted to know when I was going to "fix it back" as if what comes naturally was broken. But time was the salve to this minor wound and now my ringlets are on the road to freeflowing Botticelli spirals, the naysayers are pretty much over it. (Surprise, surprise.) It was also a boon for me as it was a crash course in how to actually care for my hair. Before the main objective was just about making it look good by frying it to death. Now I took the time to put the health back and in turn, it's responded beautifully. I don't worry about running at the first sight of a raindrop. I don't avoid pushing it too hard at the gym because I didn't want to sweat my edges out. I can sleep like a normal person without a Carmen Miranda-like basket of hot rollers atop my head. Swimming pools are no longer the enemy. It released me from the baggage of trying to stay in a mold I outgrew. I realized that straightening wasn't just a preference, it was a ritual preordained before I really even had a say. And now it was time to reclaim the kinky coils I never really got to embrace. My only regret? I didn't untangle those insecure roots long ago.
Monday, October 03, 2005
George Bush doesn't care about Latino people
"President Bush has again ignored highly qualified Latino judges, attorneys and law professors who could serve the nation ably on the United States Supreme Court," said Ann Marie Tallman, executive director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, after Miers' nomination was announced Monday.Well guess what, suckas?
"The failure of this administration to nominate a Hispanic judge to the Supreme Court is a slap in the face to all those highly qualified Hispanic judges that dutifully serve on our federal courts across the nation," said Raul Yzaguirre, former president of the National Council of La Raza. "Our community continues to contribute to the greatness of this nation and yet, we are ignored for a vital role on our third branch of governance." - source, The Associated Press [Hispanics Upset Bush Passed on Candidate]
The Mexican sister-in-law, hollow campaign promises, butchered speeches made in pedestrian Spanish, the application of puckered lips to the Cuban collective in Miami and the polish of the JFK, Jr. pedigree of eye candy offspring (George P. Bush) trotted out as part of the "aren't we inclusive?" dog & pony show had you thinking the gates to the promised land were as open as our borders, huh? All were brilliant diversion tactics to blind you from the realness that was smack dab in your faces. The GOP pulled those strings like a puppet. For all of the courting Republicans have done to successfully sway the Latino vote in vital states like Texas and Florida, when push came to shove...guess who got left out in the cold? Don't get mad, get educated on what really counts. The damn issues!
Mass Transit Annoyance: Part Deux
The MTA left in place an existing ban on open containers and voted in favor of a $25 fine on the activity. The rule only applies to open containers on subways, and does not extend to platforms.So, just to be sure I've gotten this straight....it's peachy keen to be held hostage in a subway car with broken A/C, panhandlers shilling for spare change, evangelical apostles sent to spread the word that the world's gonna end because God sent a Blackberry message with the exact date, the stench of garbage dragged in shopping carts from the homeless and your garden variety psychos lurking among us all because of antiquated rules that now deem importance by the NYPD.
"If you're walking around with a steaming hot coffee on the 5 or the 4 train at 8:30 a.m., I would hope to hell the cop would give you a summons because you have no right to do that. It's not right and it's not courteous to your fellow passengers," said MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow.
"You still can't bring an open container and drink on the subway, as you couldn't in 1960, in 1950, in all the other years," said Kalikow.
Well, to Peter Kalikow & Co., I offer a few of my personal pet peeves to the bargaining table which should merit compensatory recoups since they rely on a little thing you guys aren't too acquainted with and doesn't come a dime a dozen. Common fucking sense.
- Future squeegie washers who disturb a fleeting moment of complex simplicity to request handouts because they're "not trying to raise money for no basketball team, school uniforms, etc., but to keep some money in their pocket for themselves to stay out of trouble" while doing backflips and the Harlem shake to blaring Neptunes beats should be tagged with flexicuffs at first glance of the incoming boombox. No questions asked.
- Hefty motherfuckers who know good and goddamn well they require 2 seats need to have $4 deducted from their MetroCards right off the top. I can't tell you how many times I've been on the receiving end of some oompa loompa's hips rolling over onto me due to the "mind over matter" philosophy being taken a bit too literally.
- Attention brothas: I know most of you are under the impression that you're carrying an anaconda in between your legs, but perception clearly isn't reality. There is no need to have your legs wide open in the ThighMaster position the entire time. I've done involuntary Kegels simply because the asshole next to me is contorting my lower body in more compromising positions than a pretzel.
- To my Asian brethren, I got love for ya'll since those $1 batteries have been the hookup since '92, but a word to the wise...when you have over 3 plastic bags of produce, you'll be surcharged for the extras.
- Can we please enforce a "three swipes and you're out" mandate which would be just desserts for the clueless wonders who can't keep track of their MetroCard balance? To the back of the line at crowded turnstiles with a line snaking up the stairs you go! Pole leaners, who deprive others from holding on while the train's swerving and screeching into the next stop at breakneck speed, would be forced off the train, or forced to ride in the middle of the car without anything or anyone to grip for balance. Loud talkers would be paired up next to anyone with their trap wide open, serenading riders with snores.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
1 down, 11 more wins to go
"It's OK to say it. Don't worry about jinxing them. The 2005 Red Sox are going to win the American League East. By a landslide. Come late September, this is going to look like Secretariat at the Belmont in 1973." - Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe, June 26, 2005
We play today.
We win today.
For the eighth straight year, the division is ours. Notching a now DECADE long streak, another postseason run is assured. A Bronx cheer for the AL East Champion New York Yankees!