My idea was to make this weekly, like I was a bootleg Carrie Bradshaw or something (I’m planning my shoe alter this very moment—in my head) but for some reason I couldn’t quite make it to the site to write. Now, this happens to me as a writer often and, a long time ago, I made peace with not forcing myself to write when I didn’t want to. I felt guilty for a long time because of those cult like people that will tell you that if you are able to not write, then maybe you shouldn’t. And then I realized a few things 1) I am able to not do a lot of things. I am able to not be nice. I am able to not call people back. I am able to not save money. All these things I could “not do” with ease. But I don’t want to. OH! The second thing I realized (I’m rusty–it’s been two weeks–totally on “train of thought” mode) is: I am always writing. I learned this after the first one, hence it being second. As soon as I let go of what other people said was the “right” way to do my own passion, I learned that I am literally (ha ha) always writing in my head. Walking down the street. Driving. Talking. Making love. Praying. Watching a movie (especially watching a movie or a play). Fighting. Eating…you name it, I’m writing during that time. Seriously. We all do. So if you are experiencing guilty pangs because somebody is telling how to do something that doesn’t fit your own productivity, embrace your inner rebel and go off into your own sunset to find yourself. Seriously. Life is too short.
Which brings me to the other reason for my absence. The anniversary of my father’s death is in 7 days. There are moments when I’m just doing and moments where I break into tears. Still. It feels like yesterday, as if no time has elapsed at all. Daily I force myself to remember his phone number and the way his house and car smelled. I got new frames for his picture (I’m into my own version of ancestor worship). I can run 3-4 miles easily now (I am grasping to the memory of riding my Pink Panther bike beside him while he jogged around his house in Southfield). I bought a 1971 Volkswagen Squareback (because it is an easy project car to learn and I want to remember my dad working on the line at Ford for forty years). I listen to snooze jazz a hell of a lot more than I ever did (because that was our driving music on Sundays). I have been waiting for my father’s ghost to come to me (I wrote that before) and then I realized that it already has. It is in everything I do. And while that is pretty cool, in a sense, it is not enough right now. At least I don’t let it be enough. I want to call him. To hear his voice. To give him my kids to bounce on his knee. To dance with him at my wedding. To retreat to his house when life is too much. To take him to Lake Como, Italy so he can see beauty. There isn’t enough minutes in life to waste. There are so many things I wish I could’ve said or asked but those take a side burner to me wishing that I could trade any number of the things in my life for him to come back. I play that game with myself often. I walk past things and make a deal with God that I will gladly give up this _____________ if my dad could come back. And I would. But it’s a lost cause. People don’t come back from the dead. But if you’re lucky, you never let them go and disappear there. For the anniversary, I’ll be getting my dad’s hand tattooed on me. He would’ve probably thought it kind of crazy but he knows that I am kind of crazy. He paid for my first tattoo anyway. And Kerry’s too! Those memories come back to me like an Olympic sprinter sometimes. Anyways, I was going to thank you for reading this rambling thought on mortality of parents but then I realized it’s my blog and you’re here because you want to be.
The hip hop theater bit is delayed still. It’s a big thing for me to talk about the state of theater now because it’s a very careful thing I have to express. It’s not a damnation but it’s a disappointment that is almost life changing (but then I go read an Aisha Rahman or Clifford Odett’s play and I’m kind of okay again).
Never fear, I will never be gone for long. But if you could, and you believe (by that I mean that sort of situation that happens in the JM Barrie book “Peter Pan” where it says something about when babies laugh for the first time, fairies are born) please send a nice prayer to my dad Larry Ray Robinson, on March 31st. That’s where I’ll be.
You’re wack! Wack I tell you! See that movie! See yourself!
I’m going to reveal something tough here, so stick with me: I have envy. I have a remote connection to some of those folks in the movie because of where I was in the 90s (Brooklyn Moon, Tea Party, Harlem, Fort Greene, some places I should’ve been, some places I shouldn’t have). I want my connection to be shorter. I would like to be the kind of artist who is doing what they want for a living on a day to day basis. I want a VIP pass to the next block party. I want to hang out in the Green Room. I want to stare at Erykah Badu after she comes off stage. I want to tell Jill Scott that she is the bomb and have her smile at me with that big beautiful fourth-grade teacher grin she has. I want to clown Mos Def and Kweli again (yes, I did it. Me and Jess talking about how much they really love Detroit deep down—long story joke). I want remind Black Thought how I ran into him at the first Source Hip Hop awards in that broke down theater next to the Appollo, right after his gun “situation” with the cops. I want to make Common remember that we stood next to each other at this dance concert outdoors at Lincoln Center. I want to tell Martin Luther that “Daily Bread” is STILL my shit and that the next time he sees Wood or Saul, he should tell them I said what’s up. I want to tell Cody Chestnutt that Yaze is now ready to tour with him unlike the last time they uh, communed in the uh “garden” together. I want to be around the cool kids. There. I said it. I name dropped. I validated myself. I let you know that I was part of that scene. And now I want magic to happen. I want to magically get my novel published. I want to be on panels. I want to be interviewed. I want to do a prison theater festival. I want be regarded. You know what all this means? Here it is:
That movie made me want to make my art matter.
It is in the spirit of the original meaning of MC: it Moved the Crowd.
See it. Now.
One of the saddest things in the news now (and believe me it’s hard to pick with all the chaos going on in this Babylon) would have to be the ripple affect of the Danish ignorance in publishing offense Islamic cartoons. Now, I like Spongebob as much as the next kid but this is getting to be too much. Recently, while listening to NPR, I heard some UC Irvine New Republican Group members defending their decision to republish the offensive Islamic cartoons by saying “we need to talk about the issue and have discourse about it.” Hold up, homey. What is with this desire in America for us to have “discourse” over everything? One time, when I was home alone as a latch key kid, I was curious and put my tongue in the freezer to see what would happen. You probably know the rest of the story—that shit hurt and I was so happy I was alone so that I could spend the rest of my embarrassed day watching “Green Acres” nursing a sore tongue without some “you dummy” comments from anyone other than myself. Yes, I was the fool in “A Christmas Story” who accepts the double dog dare and puts my tongue on a freezing surface. Had I read a book about the affects of tongues on freezing cold surfaces, I wouldn’t have done it. Somewhere, there existed evidence that I didn’t need to accept my own double dog dare and be in pain for a few days. Do the Danish have Google? Is there a Masjid there? How about a Quran?
Now, I’m not sure how many Muslims they have in that country that published the cartoon, but I can guarantee you as a Muslim-friendly girl, even I KNOW that there are certain things I can do to respect the religion without basically sticking my tongue to a freezer. Do newspapers research anymore (quiet the Jayson Blair comments, Peanut Gallery)? One of the Muslims from UC Irvine had a great point while arguing some Apple Pie Debater (You are not Pro-American if you try to shut other cultures down; you are the opposite–most conservatives are not really American, believe that). The kid’s point was (I’m paraphrasing because I couldn’t get my photographic ear together while dodging crazy LA traffic): “I believe in freedom of speech too! That means I could start flinging racial slurs if I wanted to. But knowing how painful that is, why would I?”
With publishing comes a certain level of responsibility. If you want to put something offensive on paper, do you, son/daughter. But don’t get heated and wonder why people are dying when long standing religious texts could tell you that a certain group of people don’t go for the portrayal of their religious figures in jest. You like doing Jesus or Abraham satire, talking about some “how’s business”? Cool. Are you Christian or Jewish and cool with a jokey joke about parting the Red Sea? Perfect. Guess what? There are certain folks who aren’t down for that. And that doesn’t seem to off key for me. Because American Representatives (not necessarily American to the core, but like to wear the uniform and spout the disconnected rhetoric) tend to spread some really ridiculous PR internationally. We don’t give a shit about other cultures, these AR folks seem to say. “This is how we roll over here, homey. Naw, I don’t speak your language. Now gimme a large pork fried French fries up in this piece,” they say.
I’ve been overseas. I know we all got our issues. But I have to say, if you’re one of those people that believes whatever Fox News tells you, you might be getting a really jarring awakening when you die and get the power to see all (my heaven is inclusive of all beliefs—I’m not sure who you’re going to see or if you see anybody but I pretty much think some sort of cold shower comes with dying).
My theory is that us real Americans—the ones who’s ancestors got brought here by force, or by desire to actually survive and eat, or the ones who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and know that respect, truth and intellect are the best political ideologies since the beginning of time—we should start getting off of our couches and turn off Spongebob (even for a second—you know they’re going to run it again!) and take out our ARs. They are messing up the country. They are mispronouncing people’s names. They are saying there are too many Mexicans flooding the border (um, at the core, we are all some type of illegal alien). They even believe that there should be no separation of church and state! Newsflash: People think we’re idiots, insensitive, uneducated, ill-informed, greedy and self centered.
Now, you can say f-them if you want to but you know, just like you know how you felt the last time you did something dumb you didn’t want to admit to, you know that you care about what people think of you. Everyone does. Your AR is letting the rest of the world know that you can be bullied into thinking certain things are right when they are not. We have people who are pro-war. Say that over and over in your mind. Not pro-peace but pro-war. Soldiers seek peace. Political leaders seek war. When I see a politician leading a brigade like King Arthur in the trenches, I might revisit my theory but I don’t see Bush in a tanker with your brother, sister, cousin, wife, husband, father or mother. You cannot continue to let a small group of people go on organizing, creating art, fighting and shouting against injustice while you read or listen to it. I’m talking to myself too, by the way. The dumber and more lazy we get, the heavier the web of ill-will and deceit that blanket our country will get.
All this to say the world is bigger than our 9 to 5. I know that sounds overwhelming but even my homegirl (in the mind—she doesn’t know me), gospel artist Yolanda Adams, sings about getting to the root of your pain. We need to get to the root of our pain and stop putting our tongues in the freezer just to have discourse.
This post was supposed to be about hip hop and theater (and that’s still coming but I’m so hurt behind the current state of affairs in that arena that I’m having trouble coming up with the words–I’m a playwright, man!) but I had to say something about those little Timmies out there who want to see what would happen if they stuck other people’s tongues on the freezer by publishing offensive cartoons that hurt people and go against their religion. Sure you’re not a Muslim. But are you human? Talk to me when somebody does something they know would piss you off and see how you respond.
In other news that fits this post, our Boondock’s hero, Aaron McGrudder is taking a hiatus from fighting bullshit so he won’t fall out from exhaustion like Lindsay Lohan did. Super hero work is never done.
Toni Cade Bambara was my visiting spirit in this post. Please Google her if you’ve never heard about her. She, like all of our loved ones who don’t get up in the morning anymore, lives on if we are open. Just like Octavia (lots of pictures of her have been floating around so I think it best to pull another Beloved out of the stratosphere to share the spotlight):
In case you’re lazy:
My post about “hip hop” and theater is coming…I swear…you ain’t ready…