Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Bucket List 2014 -- The Harlem Edition

Sure, I made a list like this last year but it wasn't comprehensive enough -- and it was way too generic.  Maybe this one is way too personal. No need for candy apples of any kind (I won't jeopardize my dental work!) or football (I'm only remotely interested...) or haunted houses (in other parts of the country, they're really haunted!) or hayrides, which aren't as fun as you might think.

The list above is for a suburban midwesterner.  This list isn't specific to Harlem, per se -- but I am, more or less. This neighborhood's ongoing tide of gentrification makes me feel like even more of an outsider than I did when I got here. If you're in New York City and if you're as geeky and curious and insatiable as I am, and if you're not interested in going where everyone else boldly goes, this list is definitely for you.
  1. The New York Comic Con -- October 9 - 12 at the Javits Center! That's right, kids -- I'm going to the nerd prom. Wheeeeee!
  2. Exhibit #1: See Prune Nourry's Terracotta Daughters at FIAFFrom the website: An army of young girls assembles in the first U.S. showing of Terracotta Daughters, a monumental exhibition of 108 life-sized and individually crafted clay sculptures that recall China’s famous Terracotta Warriors.
  3. Sample the fall menu at The CecilI will miss the Frogmore Stew but I am very much looking forward to the bold, inventive additions to the dim sum menu and yes, their African/Asian take on roast duck.
  4. Do a 30 day cleanse. This time around, I'm doing The Clean Program for at least 21 days, I'll be incorporating a 7 day cleanse initially and I'll be working out. Yep -- I'm going to be a lot of fun in October.
  5. Go to a drive-in movie!  Click here for a list of five movie theaters that are less than a 2 hour drive from New York City.  I'll make a picnic basket and maybe we'll catch a double feature...!
  6. Go to The Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla -- October 26th, 3:30pm - 6:30pm This is way more fun than wandering through a pumpkin patch. It's a family-friendly, beautiful and yes, free annual event, sponsored by the Central Park Conservancy and it features music, arts and crafts, and glowing pumpkins, floating across the water at sundown.
  7. Exhibit #2: See Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion at the New York Historical Society. From the website: ...explores the centuries-long history of trade and immigration between China and the United States—a history that involved New York from its very beginnings—and will raise the question “What does it mean to be an American?” The exhibit narrative extends from the late eighteenth century to the present and includes all regions of the country, thus interpreting the Chinese American saga as a key part of American history.
  8. The Apollo Theater Presents Apollo Uptown Hall: The Harlem/South Africa Connection -- October 12th, 3pm. This panel discussion will feature Harry Belafonte, former Mayor David Dinkins and other notable speakers/activists. And yep, it's free.
  9. Exhibit #3: The Matisse Cut-outs You're welcome.
  10. Wine Tasting Series in The Balcony Lounge at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This happens on the first weekend of every month.  And MPB says it's delicious. I have a serious thing for this lounge, anyway -- mostly because they have wifi and they let me stay for as long as I want.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

That climate change march, though...

The largest climate march in history happened this week, with 2,808 events in 166 countries --  some guesstimate that well over 400, 000 people took to the streets in New York City alone -- and it was virtually ignored by every major news outlet in this country.  And then the next day, like a proper right cross that should follow any decent left hook, Flood Wall Street happened.

 Here's what they refused to show you. 

Sunday's People's Climate March

Monday's Flood Wall Street

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

National Voter Registration Day - September 23rd

I considered registering to vote to be a part of an important rite of passage and because of the stories my Southern, Depression-era father somberly told whenever the mood struck him, I took the entire process a little too seriously.  I knew it was a drop in the bucket of electoral votes but I wanted to believe that my drop somehow mattered, that I mattered.  I wanted to be a part of the process. I didn't think I had any right to bitch about the system if I didn't vote.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that for the powers that be to fight this hard to disenfranchise so many, voting must count for something.  This is the epitome of institutional racism: that the white people who are in power would create laws that would make it as difficult as possible for the poor, the marginalized and people who are of color to vote.  Every state is its own little kingdom, creating its own set of hoops and hurdles that everyone must unravel and traverse.  It's extremely difficult have a voter registration drive in Texas.  I have to show a birth certificate to register to vote in Kansas.  If I lose my house in Florida -- and let's face it, everyone is losing their house in Florida! -- I lose my right to vote. Lots of people -- the elderly, for example -- don't have government issued photo IDs or a driver's license.  And if I'm an ex-felon that's paid my debt to society and if I'm in Iowa, I am permanently disenfranchised.  Is it a surprise that only 70% of those who are eligible have  registered?

As an African-American that's two generations removed from slavery, I'm not big on state's rights.  As far as I'm concerned, this is the part where the federal government should step in and regulate most of this stuff -- and that's not bloodly likely. 

They're making it hard for us. Don't make it easy for them.  Know your rights. Register to vote.  And then, yes -- vote.

To register to vote online, click here.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: "How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired" by Dany Laferriere

How To Make Love To A NegroHow To Make Love To A Negro by Dany Laferrière

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Making love to a Negro isn't frightening; sleeping with him is. Sleep is complete surrender. It's more than nude; it's naked. Anything can happen during the night, when reason sleeps.” - Dany Laferriere, How To Make Love To A Negro

the complete title of this book is how to make love to a negro without getting tired. apparently the combination of black men and white women bonking is fairly combustible subject matter the world over -- even canada's montreal, a place that constantly reassures us is free of racial tension/problems. mr. laferriere is well aware of all of this and works every bit of it to the hilt. what's interesting is the way he delves into why interracial relationships with white women are such a threat to white men. this book -- his first novel! -- is white hot brilliant and just as fresh and relevant as when it was published in 1985. this stuff is free-wheeling and provocative and it just pops right off the page.

i love the way he and his african roommate discuss classical literature and philosophy and art and sex and food and life, the way he dissects a coltrane solo while going off on some stream of consciousness rant about rich white people and how bizarre it is to wander through their mansions when they aren't there and have violent dispassionate sex with their seemingly chaste daughters, the way he listens to big band jazz and vocalists like ella fitzgerald as his thoughts slide between communism, the last white girl he had and how wierd she was, and marinating a pigeon he killed in the park for that week's last summer day because he's so perpetually broke. heh.

so much of this reads like stream-of-consciousness prose -- smart, insightful, bitter, and very very funny. it spun out so easily, like i fell into his private thoughts, and he let me stay there for as long as i wanted. because i read/heard/knew most if not all of what he referenced, the book became almost four dimensional and i enjoyed it even more. not surprisingly, there were critics who assumed a black man DIDN'T write it, because he would have to be a certain kind of literate/well read/educated to have referenced the things he did.

all in all, a really good read.

ps: if you want another kick in this direction, i highly recommend "heading south," (written by dany l.) set in the 70s about older white female tourists who go to the beaches of haiti to be sexually serviced by beautiful young boys.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Sermonette: Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers - "Touch The Hem Of His Garment"

As the story goes, this legendary group were in the studio finishing an album and one more song was needed, so Sam Cooke asked for a Bible, it fell open to this verse and he wrote this song on the spot.  And the rest is history.

Listen in and be blessed.

Oh, there was a woman in the Bible days,
she had been sick, sick so very long
but she heard about Jesus was passing by,
so she joined the gathering throng
and while she was pushing her way through,
someone ask her: 'What are you trying to do?'

She said:
'if I could just touch the hem of His garment
I know I'll be made whole'

She cried:
'Oh Lord, Oh Lord and Oh Lord, Oh Lord'
Said :
'if I could just touch the hem of His garment
I know I'll be made whole'

Oh, She spent her money here and there
until she had no, had no more to spare,
the doctors, they'd done all they could
but their medicine would do no good.
When she touched Him The Saviour didn't see
but still He turned around and cried
'Somebody touched me'

She said:
'It was I who just wanna touch the hem of Your garment,
I know I'll be made whole right now'

She stood there crying:
'Oh Lord, Oh Lord and Oh Lord, Oh Lord'

'If I could just touch the hem of His garment,
I know I'll made whole right now'