If everybody keeps trying to do all this self-help business, who’s gonna be our Billie Holiday?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trying to be a better person by treating yourself as best as possible, but at which point are we over medicating ourselves out of shit just happening?
Somebody needs to teach the Jerry Springer guests how to write the blues. The world might be better. And don’t talk to me about the Springer musical. That’s like telling me Elvis invented the hip thing.
Some people wonder why women, people of color, etc. still have beef with everyday subtle and not so subtle assaults against the core of who they are. Well, as long as we still have the madness below happening or any other “ism” related crimes happening, we all have legit beef.
Before you read the below, an anecdote:
When I was in college at Eugene Lang, there was a class called “The Whiteness of Blackness” where we studied texts from the 1880s - 1930s and how skin color affected privilege. Of course, one cannot just regulate conversation to Frederick Douglas or Nella Larsen. You have to move over, as a forming adult, to your own personal experiences because you have no idea that they are worth much or are not so unique yet so you have to talk about them. All the time.
There was a pretty pink haired, pierced, pixie white girl from Connecticut who “knew exactly what it felt like to be looked at differently because of your appearance.” Once, she said, she was followed around a store for forty minutes. Said girl also lived next door to Bryant Gumbel.
Enter beautiful somewhat well off conservative black girl who could have very much been Clare Huxtable. Young Clare says to Pretty Pink Hair, “I got followed too when I was home last.” Young Clare brushes a piece of lint off of her Donna Karan pants as Pretty Pink Hair digs a purposeful hole into her own consciously ratty cashmere sweater. “But you can dye your hair back, take your piercings out and they won’t follow you anymore. The only thing I would have to do is take off my skin.”
The moral: there’s always a bigger picture to what ever suffering you may have. Doesn’t mean it’s a pretty picture though.
India probes baby body parts find
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi
Police in the eastern Indian state of Orissa say they have recovered nearly 30 bags full of babies’ body parts from a waste dump near a maternity clinic.
Forensic tests are being carried out on the remains following the raid near the town of Nayagarh on Sunday.
It is thought the find could be linked to the killing of female foetuses - a practice fairly widespread in India.
According to one estimate, up to 10m female foetuses may have been aborted in the country in the past two decades.
India, where boys have traditionally been favoured over girls, banned gender selection and selective abortion in 1994.
A senior police office in Orissa said they raided an area outside Nayagarh following a tip-off.
The bags, full of skulls and bones, were buried inside a pit in a plot of land belonging to a maternity clinic owner.
The clinic owner and manager have now been taken into custody by the police.
Officials say it is not possible at this stage to say exactly how many bodies were found in the bags.
“We cannot put any numbers. We have to wait for the details of the investigation,” BK Sharma, Orissa crime branch inspector general said.
Media reports last week said seven female foetuses had been thrown into a garbage dump in another area in the state.
The recovery prompted the state chief minister to order a wider inquiry.
Skewed sex ratio
Sunday’s raid came as part of the drive begun by the special crime police across the state.
Officials say a detailed investigation is now under way and initial indications point to sex selective abortions.
Similar incidents have been reported from other parts of the country in recent months, raising concerns about India’s dwindling female population.
Female foeticide is believed to be one of the main reasons for the skewed sex ratio in India.
India’s minister for Women and Child Development, Renuka Chowdhary, has said the government plans to monitor all pregnancies to prevent female foeticide.
In June, police arrested the owner of a clinic near Delhi on suspicion of illegally aborting female foetuses.
The arrest followed a raid at the clinic in Gurgaon in Haryana state. Officials said the remains of several foetuses were found in a well nearby.
Last year, a surprise raid in Patiala district in Punjab province unearthed the remains of at least 50 female foetuses from a well by a private clinic.
Sekou Sundiata has passed.
In the words of Henry James:
“The golden bowl is broken indeed, but it was golden.”
It was 1993 and I had just gotten to New York. I’m sure I had a sign on me that said, “Hi I’m from Detroit and I ain’t never seen a place like this before in my life. Where is Spike Lee”?
I was doing some reporting for the Michigan Citizen newspaper my first year there and was always on the look out for something fantastical to report that nobody seemingly cared about back in Detroit. (I in fact got one letter in the mail asking the paper to write about some entertainment news that people were familiar with…like Patti LaBelle and not movie reviews for movies only at the Detroit Institute of Arts–man whatever). I cared though. Part of the fun of entertainment journalism is finding the entertainment that nobody knew already.
Enter the Village Voice. After my first visit to New York, I was hooked - baggy jeans, Carhart jacket envy, you name it. Somebody came to my dad’s house in Southfield selling magazines and instantly I saw the ticket to my future. The Village Voice. I perused it four seven months before I even moved there.
Enter The Circle Unbroken in a Hard Bop. I had seen the ad for the play and then recognized Sekou Sundiata’s name as one of the practicing professors at Eugene Lang (they are ALL practicing there - no weekend artists best believe).
I made my first foray down the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (someplace that would one day be like my third home) by myself. Alphabet City in the hot Fall at 8pm is something to be experienced. Back then there were drunks on every corner singing spanish love songs at the top of their lungs and as many dark corners as you would imagine your worst mood to have. I didn’t even flinch.
When I walked in, I’d never seen a cafe like this. There was a small cognac stage that was well worn with old whore red curtains that had been manipulated a few too many times. Ghetto bistro tables smelling like lots of beer spillings and discarded gum were surrounded by uneven bistro chairs light enough to create your own space. The long wooden bar looked to grand for this place and I don’t remember it ever living up to the potential of a palatial liquor garden but it did have beer. Always. It sat at the entrance on the right side like a forgotten brown whale waiting to take off and find Paris in the 1920s. One day.
The lights were set urgently. Bright hot spots on the stage. We all waited. The first thing I saw were slides of beautiful countries. Slides too bright for the cafe, betraying the melancholy left there by Pinero and all those before and after him. These were photos of a bright love. African people in colorful outfits. Sunsets you could sink your teeth in to taste the citrus of their core. Billie Holiday blue water running along nooks. And then the voice. You heard the voice before you saw the body, the tall lanky body with woman hips and taught chocolate skin. If it were not manly, it would be like your southern grandma. But it is a manly body and voice. And it is projected straight out to us. Later in the play, that manly voice will make me forget his posture and tone and he will contort himself into a homeless Vietnam vet who can’t even tweak out more than three words at a time. But no matter because those three words always evolve into lines of poetry. It must. The voice is Sekou Sundiata.
The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop is a play about three people on the road dealing with their lives post Vietnam and knee deep in a world. They are letters to one another trying to explain things to themselves and to us. They are friends who seem more intimate than the most married of newlyweds. I got so swept up in their language, their slides, their voices that sway like skirts of the most beautiful of dancers.
I wanted to be that play, to be in it, to eat it and have it drip down my arms, to sleep with it like a lover who’d been away, to laugh with it like my friend who I mean to call but time always slips through my fingers.
It made me write a play. And another. And another.
I need to say this now because Sekou is seriously ill and needs all prayers. Any man who can make you swoon with a world that is literally painted by colors that can sing, burst in your mouth and dance around you like sprites should be riddled with prayers and love and tears of joy and song and poems. Sekou is a treasure unlike any other and though he wasn’t the best advisor in college (he was such an artist that he had absolutely no time for “required courses” and idle chit chat, especially not helpful since at Lang, we created our own majors. It was as if somebody showed you Santa’s workshop and said, “Make your favorite toy!” Where does one begin??)
This prayer is for you Sekou that your ability to spin a brutal reality into a painting that goes beyond flat surfaces but then becomes its own star of life is something that gives you safe travels with moonbeams and rainbows attached to your exterior, keeping you colorful and full of joy. No matter what.
The song: Imani Uzuri (my sister Capricorn!)
Song: Sun Moon Child
This absolutely takes my breath away. Not only am I an Ailey/Wiz/Mikhail/Judith dancer when I close my eyes but my body knows it too because my heart beats faster to keep in time. And then I get my breath back.
I am concerned about people, specifically me since I am the one I’m most in charge of. How do we allow ourselves to comfortably see our flaws? By nature I am defensive. It’s possible it’s an inherited trait like my cheeks and my wild eyebrows since I do remember my mother and her high pitched voice, trying to find the most articulate way of saying “Sue me! I was wrong!”
If that phrase rings true to you, you may be suffering from defensiv-ism too. Since I lived almost 18 years of hearing the high pitch screech of “Jesus God! If I’m wrong then the world will come to an end”, it is very difficult for me to admit that I am wrong because, duh, the world will come to an end. This disease has been the source of many verbal altercations, crying episode, swollen tears of unfairness when I walk away from somebody who put me in the WRONG corner, and probably a few bad relationships (ex-boys, don’t get it twisted though…y’all were faulty too).
At 33, the year Jesus was when he died (so we think and so I roll with), I have decided to face this evil disease with the force of one who is fighting for their lives. Why? Because the shit is too heavy and life is too short. Finally, I have decided that all the stuff they tell you in writing school (it’s not technically called that but call meat some meat and not filet) is probably more applicable to life than any degree you could pay for: take the criticism silently and use what you can, chuck the rest.
Just because someone says something about or to you doesn’t mean that it’s true. Cliche and found in most self help books, yes! But there is a reason for that. This is the simple part. The hard part is not wanting to correct them. Why do you need for others to get the right impression about you? What do you get in the end? So many other things go haywire in most peoples’ brains that you are not responsible for. This is one of them. This logic makes sense because if you believed the opposite then you could, for example, talk a serial killer out of the need to kill. Tell pedophiles that doing it to children is wrong. Tell people who think they are above reproach that they are above reproach and have them believe it. Caped crusaders are in the comics. Do not try to give yourself a super power that doesn’t exist. The art of persuasion is not a forced craft. It’s just a miracle.
In a fit of truth and possible crazyness, I’ve decided to call myself on my own bullshit. Here are some flaws I have:
-gossip (sigh and not for a living!)
-fear of my own intelligence (if I truly believed that I was smart, I would not have to peacock it around)
-short of patience
-would stab someone for french fries (this is a problem)
Now that stuff sucked to type but if writing was truly a pleasure all the time then you’d see people calling themselves writing addicts. Yeah right.
In the future I want kids and I don’t want them blogging about how difficult I was to talk to. There are a lot of people in this world who don’t believe that they are but until you put your shield down and take a hard look at yourself, you have no idea. There are tons of reasons why people pick the defensive route for themselves. Maybe they feel like they have a lot to accomplish and can’t be bothered with how they react to others. Maybe they are terrified that they will crumble into a pile of dust if they accept truth in their hearts without it meanign the world is coming to an end.
Think about it though. What do you have to lose if you are able to drop one less self imposed burden? What do you have to lose?
This post was inspired by journalist Andreson Jones, not because he was defensive, but because he died at the age of 38 of a major coronary during a screening of “A Mighty Heart.” The irony cannot escape me. Andy was super fun, super mysterious and drowning in his own reality about his health. He is missed.
Andy, for you, I shed a burden so I can delay the next time I see you…even if it’s just a little bit of time or none at all, I’m doing what I can.
Thanks to all of you who enjoyed the Owen Meany post. The movie that was based on the book was called “Simon Burch” and it doesn’t hold a candle to the book because John Irving thought no one would EVER be able to make his book into a movie effectively and he was right. I’m diving into “The Hotel New Hampshire” now and will post if inspires me the same one the first one did.
Yaze and I are off to Europe for ten days for the marriage of two awesome people: Shembi Nagel and Vince Buckles.
Mantra for the day: Show this to yourself rather than telling it: What’s the goal?