It’s fascinating because with the invention of Twitter and Facebook, blogs sometimes come to a standstill because you’ve kind of already said a bunch of stuff in a bunch of places. I’ve been trying to figure out what piece of my writing goes where. I write fiction but I’m trying to finish it! I have random thoughts so I post them to Twitter where they get lost in the ticker tape abyss. I hate Facebook because I feel like there’s far too much personal information that sometime causes you to lose friends and acquaintances (both have happened to me and I hate the feeling of finding out somebody is a bigot or a hater on other people).
So here I am today, with a little more time on my hands. And what do I get inspired to write about? That hot ass mess called “Single Ladies” on VH1. Now, let me back up. The concept isn’t so bad or original. Three women who are friends, navigating single life. I think that was called “Everything Candace Bushnell Writes” or “Any Of Those Hot Mess Reality Shows on Bravo.” But I judge this one particularly harsh because the flaw is in the acting. It’s not always the actors’ fault, by the way. The job of the director is to Tim Gunn It (Make IT Work). If it ain’t working, fix it! Lisa Raye seems really nice but folks aren’t telling her that her reaction timing is off. The vanilla girl is not good for this show. I can’t find anything that would make me miss her acting specifically if she were replaced. They do it on the soaps all the time. Not a big deal. Stacey Dash has always been a bit of a shining star. She’s no Meryl Streep but she makes you want to watch her because she knows her marks.
In the rush to put shows about women, drama and controversy on television, networks are putting up sloppy work. Listen, I’m free if you need some script doctoring. Anything can be fixed.
Today I wrote a poem
And it died on the street like a homemade bomb crafted with desperate hands
When I hear homemade I think of lemonade and soft hands in grease touching scalps and scabs making pains go away
The faint smell of cigarettes that should have been discarded long ago
But loneliness forces a pack to stay out of sight but nearby
When did home lives become so desperate?
I asked my poem that died on the street while I was racing to my job that didn’t need me but needed the illusion of me by 8:30am
I asked, “How come more dinosaurs died in Iraq so long ago than here? Or maybe they didn’t and we just used all of our dead dinosaurs up??
My dead poem was lifeless when it was born so it was of no use to me as my noisy car flew past fancy cars fueled in dead dinosaurs
More than mine
I escape guilt
I was reaching out to the dinosaurs because they can’t tell us why they are dead or if they had wars or if their president said that it was bad policy to bring their army home
I wonder if they had a president
Or if they were confident enough to know their own voices would be heard
I don’t write poems often because they are so fragile in this world where things die and become fuel for something else
In essence having a second death
These things, as I rush, make me wonder
Will my father have a second death?
Will he one day become the primary source for some brat to drag race downEast Outer Drive (like we always wanted to do) and crash into trees
What will my father’s second death be a tribute to?
So special he was that my poems that die are of no measure to his love
That doesn’t really exist anymore
Not with homemade bombs and children shooting tanks
He had seen this in Vietnam
And now we see it for him in the Middle East
Where I get confused. Where I try to keep up. Where all the names start to make my head hurt. Where I don’t know who is good and who is bad anymore.
I know that my father didn’t talk about Vietnam. Not the children. Not the food. Not the screams. Not the people who didn’t come back.
He only said, later, when my friend went for her honeymoon, “Why would anyone want to go there?”
And I wanted to wrap my arms around him then
But who wraps their arms around a man who’s grief is strong like steel and bullets and machines
I melt his heart as his daughter
Not as a caretaker
He melts my heart as a father and a man
My dead poem whispers the keys to life as the breath fades from it.
It has given me this vision of my father, immense, wondering freak vegetative contents
Looking for some place to rest forever so that he may give me something in his second death
I just keep circling the street looking for a way to give him something in a life that has now passed with such speed
Cutting my wrists hoping the words that pour out will give us all some resolve
But watching my wrists heal themselves
Because my father wished it so
Protection in death
In my dead poem’s last breath, it whispers a new definition of homemade to me:
There are few homes made
In the spirit of John Legend’s new crusade “Wake Up Everybody” (though some of you from Detroit may remember this as Teddy Pendergrass on WJLB reminding you that it was time to get to school and not necessarily an anthem for grass movements), I’d like to reflect on teachers that changed my life. No I don’t think teaching is some sort of “Ghost Whisper” job you get when you can inherently talk to the natives without moving your lips. I think teaching is damn hard work for no money and you just might as well go into it without expectations and lots of Five Hour Energy Drinks. In other words, it’s the new brick breaking.
When I was in third grade in Detroit, my teacher, Miss Bailey, read a horrible poem I wrote and proclaimed me a writer. The poem was about our visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts (not only a cultural institution but also a great place to play hooky where many of my friends stole their first kiss obviously in front of the Diego Rivera mural) and somehow I made a rhyme with ants. After that I wrote horrible stories in a notebook that got passed from friend to friend until the end of the week when I was forced to keep going.
I would love to say my high school, Renaissance (the ultimate college prep at the time - and I say that because we had no fun distractions like a football teams - only tennis, golf and helluva girls’ basketball team that had no following), had great teachers. In fact, I can say it but none of them made me feel as special as Miss Baily did. Actually, I made myself feel special back then out of sheer hormonal need puberic angst (I still don’t know how one can combat an unfresh perm, acne and a minimal clothes budget).
Eugene Lang College changed my life. One day, in Sekou Sundiata’s 1960s art social class, it all made sense to me. I realized that everything I learned was connected. There was no separating history from art, from social studies to math. Time, Sekou taught me, was the glue that held everything together and made everything a living organism that needed to be addressed. “Leave room for the ghost,” he told us several times. He and Kurt Lamkin were able to allow me to pull words out of the depth of my gut and make them wrap themselves around what I was thinking. Peter Wallace made realize I could stage all of this.
Sarah Lawrence was a joint educational process. Ed Allan Baker was the best playwrighting teacher around. He taught me timing, humor, appreciation for my working class roots and how that’s just as interesting as Shakespeare - Ed was the babysitter you prayed your parents would leave you with. Kevin Confoy taught me producing and imagination. To this day, his staging of Sophie Treadwell’s “Machinal” was the best I’d ever see and I still strive to capture the moment the main character, on the brink of her death sentence, shoots several feet up in the air just as the electric chair switch went down. I think of it and am breathless.
I don’t know what kids have people who teach them and leave them breathless anymore. I know I wasn’t the easiest kid to teach because I was a Know-It-All and incredibly defensive but did I have the sense of entitlement present today? I was too scared to. I knew my parents would kill me. I’m hoping there are still some of those parents out there who are able to peel through the onion layers of these crazy modern times and can reach their kids before the entitle themselves out of reality. So if you’re a teacher, hats off to you. Keep breaking the bricks of whatever this present state of chaos is we have surrounding us. If you want me to, I’ll email you everyday to remind you that you’re valued.
I might dead on news.
Though I consider myself fairly news oriented, since “Yes We Can” I’ve literally been on a downward spiral from what we now call news. I don’t think I was prepared for the wave of negativity, backlash, ridiculous grand standings, rush judgments and hypocrisy that was soon to follow a POTUS (President Of The United States for those of you not keen on brevity) that made history but then would have the same tasks most other POTUSes had before him: change the world as soon as you can or else people are going to hate you.
There are a couple of different things to remember here, that I literally forgot: 1) People expect the POTUS to have a wand that changes everything in record time 2) No one ever remembers when things sucked more than they do now 3) Desperate times call for desperate crazies and every crowd loves a crazy.
I was okay with these things except for the fact that I didn’t know the “news” would follow suit. I love blogging and silly me thought we could keep the lines bold between opinion and facts. Somehow news organizations found out that people don’t really check their own facts, despite how rampant this dang internet has become. They’ve feared us so that we believe whoever our respective TV comfy blankets are (mine happens to be Jon Stewart and Bill Maher but I know a bunch of people think Bill O’Reilly and Faux News are as cozy as white snow).
Call me crazy but I just want some good news every once in a while. That’s why POTUS had such a great rise to fame. Sure he was smart and personable but who doesn’t love a feel good story? I’ve been forced to cut and paste my news now. An NPR snippet here, a BBC shot there, a little bit from TheRoots.com and I’m almost happy to feel informed. But I have to work at it.
Listen, Kanye is outside of the box. We all know this. I wish I turned myself into a stampin fool when my father died but I went inward cause I don’t have that big beautiful painting of an ego that Kanye has. It’s not a diss. That ego is like a wall mural of a big city street during rush hour and sometimes we need that. What else would folks talk about if not Kanye sometimes?
But this ain’t about him or how I listen to “Flashing Lights” on repeat at the gym sometimes. This is about dude’s website with the BOMB art! How come nobody told me? He’s collected some beautiful images. Man, if you don’t have the $$ to fly to Paris or ain’t in the mood to stand by tourists NOT looking at the art at the museum, just click on this:
No it’s not those weird bears he had in one video and it damn sure ain’t Amber Rose spread eagle (there is a sneaky image or two of the Ye and the former Bun but it’s not too bad - since you can see her for zero reason at the opening of an envelope these days). There’s a bunch of different types and styles ranging from Russian Prison tattoos, supermodels, Liberian children, Madonna and some vintage shots. Man, this dude should curate a bunch of stuff. Wait, that’s what he does already. Curate sounds awful close to create when you say it outloud, don’t it?
And it ain’t me.
I have a very interesting relationship with Vanity Fair magazine. I love it for its size. When it comes in the mailbox, I see myself in the bed with snacks, wearing my reading glasses (if I remember) and devouring almost ALL the articles, sad when I get to the Proust questionnaire because it’s all over then. Sometimes the BF clowns me and he should. It’s not like Vanity Fair ever reached out to me directly. In fact, they bypass me and give me the stories I yearn for: there’s always a political story, a social story, a scandal story that may or may not be historical but still relevant, an art/architecture/fashion story and a bunch of bits that I either swoon over or bypass (I mean who doesn’t read the My Stuff with great detail? I do care what soap other people use - I’m crazy what can I say?).
Yet once I wrote them and told them that their cover (it had a few chocolate and cinnamon girls in it that month) was more diverse than their writing staff (George Wayne may or may not count - depending on the scandalous questions he asks). They neither published my letter nor reached out to me. (On the contrary, Glamour magazine’s Editor in Chief responded to an email I wrote to them and Instyle published one of my commentaries on the endless bashing of Michelle Obama - FLOTUS who can do no right by those who look for only wrong).
So imagine my surprise when they did a spread on the Hamptons and found this black girl (she has a name: Christina Lewis - WSJ Hamptons reporter) in it…looking literary…in a house that’s hers with some of MY favorite flowers. What? Okay she inherited it but that makes it that much more interesting because most times we are just regulated to Martha’s Vineyard. Who knew there chocolate folks with old money in the Hamptons? The last time I went there (I was a guest of course) the only person I saw who looked like they were from my tribe was Russell Simmons himself. And he didn’t even blink at me. Despite us being the only chocolate people on the whole beach. Not even a curious “how did YOU get here” glance. Maybe I was acting wrong. I think I was supposed to BE there and not be there with my big huge old eyes.
I suppose we should’ve seen this whole thing coming…the one where the President is always to blame for everything. I mean President Obama saw it coming. He did keep saying stuff like “the buck stops here” and “this is my job” but some of us really didn’t understand what that meant until the weird complaints started coming in. You know…like the death threats from so-called Christians. The impatience from those who have been fighting decades long battles and had expectations that there would be a magic wand waved and all our problems would disappear. Majority of the country who hadn’t pretended to read the constitution since they were in American History class, now reciting bits and pieces to fit their agenda. The ones who forgot this is a democracy and we have other people in government who are responsible for their jobs and that the President doesn’t do EVERYTHING. I mean we’ve never expected the President to do EVERYTHING before so why now?
It’s a blessing and a curse to have a historic President. On one hand, we’ve done something we’ve never done before. On the other, we are now doing everything we did before and worse (economically, socially, culturally - we should come up with new deadly sins) and expect one person to wipe up after us.
Today I’m annoyed because people are pissed at Obama for coming to LA and making traffic bad. Really? Traffic in LA is always bad and none of the local politicians seemed to ever care. If we had a city where things on the road ran smoothly, the whole world wouldn’t collapse because Olympic is shut down. Now I know the Secret Service is part of this ring (and they have a helluva job guarding a historic President given there are people who aren’t happy about his skin color in 2010 - real talk). But how come nobody asks Villagrosa to clean up the HORRIBLE traffic on a daily basis? How come we never find out about the protests that close off streets until we are in the middle of them (I mean I’ve learned more about the Armenian Genocide sitting on Wilshire than I ever did in school and don’t even get me started on the Day without Latinos)? How come the Hollywood Bowl area is a always a clusterfuck no matter which way you go since they hold the lights so people can go stack park their cars for $20?
All this has made me read the news less or get soundbite news. I can’t stand how we present actual facts nowadays. There’s always a sly twist, an unsubstantiated tangent, a rash process of judgment, a disregard for humanity. There is no news anymore. There’s just tone - a sarcastic tone, an angry tone, a defensive tone, a judgmental tone…we’re going so fast that we can’t even hear ourselves anymore. I suppose if I was more tuned in, I would find all of this fascinating but I don’t. I find it exhausting. I’m tuning out.
My blood boils a bit when I hear people being so upset with Lebron James as though he literally stole the check out of their mailbox. People from wackalicious Charles Barkley (who NEVER got a ring by the way) to, well, me, have an opinion about how Lebron should have handled his career. Key word HIS career. Barkley, Jordan, etc all say they would have never done what Lebron did (and by “did” let’s separate the HOW from the WHAT). Times were different back then, old timers. Nobody had to live in Cleveland to make their way. I’m not a Cleveland basher but having family from there (so thus, visiting a few more times than I wanted to), I can say that it is NOWHERE near my top choices to live. It’s around where Philly is but Philly has The Roots so I wouldn’t be TOO devastated in Philly. For Jordan and his years of being off the rader before being the demi-god he turned into, he could do it in fancy Chi-town with all its jazz, good food, metro people, and a budding youngish Oprah who was smashing Phil Donahue in the ratings. Something to do, in other words. Barkley had some nice weather. Bird had Boston where he fit right in, being vanilla and all (If I was vanilla, Boston might be a nicer place for me too). I won’t even get into Magic. I’m from Michigan so I know where Magic came from and I live in LA so I know where he landed. Dude, you had not one complaint. None of y’all tried to make it ago in Cleveland where you literally have to recreate fire.
I imagine it being heavy carrying an entire state’s hopes and dreams. And when people talk about Lebron quitting in the finals, I wonder if they ever bashed Kobe for doing the same (as a message to his teammates) or considered the fact that dud was just tired of being Whole Team Cavaliers.
Haters go hate but there’s nothing wrong with some young men trying to achieve their goals. They outsmarted some rich team owners who sometimes act above the law and they got theirs. Nobody took a check out of your mailbox so fall back and stop taking it personally. I can’t wait to see how many of y’all are camped in front of the tv waching Heat games.
(Please note, this post is heavily influenced by the emotionality of PMS - it’s real)
This weekend, sparked by a couple of events, made me aware that times in our lives are like cities we live in for a time and the move on through. I was remembering people that I used to be
so close to and how heavily dependent (or so I thought) my life was on my relationship with them - friends, friends close as family, etc. This isn’t about missing or regret because neither of those feelings came up. This is more about realizing that I’ve grown as a human being beyond anything that I could’ve imagined for myself. Think expansion more than being “better off”. I’ve been able to look back at my old self and see events and relationships that served a specific purposes and been able to put them in their appropriate photo album.
Life really does feel like a journey lately.
I’m remembering people like sights to visit on a vacation. I’m remembering how once seeming large events are now put into perspective and letting them fade into the scenery. It’s kind of nice to realize that you don’t need to grasp on to people as you if they would leave if you let go. Sometimes it’s good to let go so you can let yourself go and you can expand.
It’s funny to feel or realize that you have friends in your life who are moving in a direction that you’re not going into. And it’s okay. I feel like at the end of the day/month/year/decade, maybe you can pow wow about two different experiences and share.
This post is so vague and esoteric - internal - what a welcome back from a long break of blogging. But it’s necessary for me anyways to document for what used to be years’ long guilt of not going above and beyond to stay in touch with certain old friends. I’m letting myself be okay with doing what I can and allowing life to charter on.
I feel grown. Deep.
Anyways, this to send love to all of those whom I never talk to but used to regularly. I hope life is whipping great joys up like a cotton candy machine!
My uncle believes there are people who will, on their judgment day, “burn in a lake of fire.” To be clear we were talking about atheists and not homosexuals, transgenders or any other alternate lifestyle…we didn’t get there in the conversation.
I am pleasantly delighted when I hear Dario Franchitti speak because he’s from Scotland and I thought he was Italian but then he can be Italian from Scotland because that’s what immigration is all about. He lives in Indiana. He won’t be asked for papers there but he could be if enters Arizona. He’s got a “tan”.