Tuesday, September 25, 2007

how was the gig?

friday's gig at the upsouth festival at the gatehouse was stellar. there is video and audio, too. it's going to take me a minute to get that together. until then, read all about what happened here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

all of us, dressed in black

i got an email from stephen this afternoon, telling me that black folk all over the country are going to wear black tomorrow. (needless to say, i've got just the dress.) there is to be a march and a rally in jena, louisana -- and the organizers asked that everyone who couldn't attend dress in this way, as a show of solidarity for the jena six.

every black anybody that i contacted already knew all about it. unbelievable, the way forwarding email amongst us nowadays is basically like beating the african drum to pass along pertinent information. its moments like this one when i can't help but think that, in spite of what the media says -- and in spite of what we tell ourselves -- we really are much stronger and more unified than we seem to be able to grasp.

okay, i have to say it: all these bling-bling african-american millionaire knuckleheads out here on shows like mtv cribs bragging about their solid gold toilets and the swans in their expansive backyard ponds and all the tacky crap in their 50 room mansion and whatnot -- and who steps up with a $10,000 donation for the defense fund? david freakin' bowie. what's sad is that his gesture is probably all that most people know about what's happened.

i'm sure that a lot of people think that it's business as usual in the south -- like racism lives down there and no place else. sean bell would disagree, if he could. so would yusef hawkins. and amadou diallo. one would think that in these media saturated times, we'd be hearing all about the jena six. believe me, the world is watching -- and reporting -- even if most americans don't know anything about it yet.

no one will ever be able to convince me that there aren't two countries called america: one for white people and another for everybody else. we can drink from the same water fountain, we can use the same public toilets, but we can't get the same level of justice. now, that's progress.

well. if you want to protest tomorrow, here's a few suggestions:
  1. wear black. because absolutely everyone should.
  2. register to vote -- and then when the next election rolls around, get out of the house and do it, no matter what.
  3. sign the petition to the louisana governor
  4. sign the petition to the justice department
  5. call your congressperson. seriously, ring their phone all the way off the hook -- because this whole situation is nuts, and no one with any real degree of authority seems to care.
  6. better yet, email them.
  7. make a donation, if you've got it like that.
  8. and last but not least, mychal bell has been in jail for no reason since 2006, so if you've got the time (and an SASE), write him a letter
and if you want to know what the deal is, this video pretty much sums it up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

the next gig

here's the invite for the next gig this friday at harlem stage/the gatehouse. i wanted it to look modern, yet vaguely edwardian. my friend made it for me.

i'm really looking forward to this. the upsouth international book festival is a beautiful thing. it's happening all week. it's not just words -- it's all kinds of live performances. dance. performance art. music. it's in a great space, too. what's especially sweet is that they've dedicated the entire festival to sekou sundiata. his name will also remain on the program as a speaker.

i'm the only music on friday night. i'm hoping for a strong performance on video.

unfortunately, the phone number in the flyer is wrong. bizarrely enough, i got it off the web. if you want to come, you have to call 212 281 9240 x 19 or x 20.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

...the plot thickens...

Torture victim may have visited before
Neighbor on Big Creek says woman asked for help last month

By Gary Harki Staff writer
By Andrew Clevenger Staff writer

BIG CREEK — When Megan Williams was kept against her will in a shed beside a Logan County mobile home, it may not have been her first time at the residence.

Police say Williams, 20, was tortured, raped and beaten by a group of people for about a week. The group was led by Frankie Lee Brewster, who lived in the trailer, and her son, Bobby Ray Brewster, according to police. Six people have been charged in the case, and more may be arrested.

(here's the kicker: she said she was dating one of them. for the rest of the story, click here.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It Happened In Big Creek, West Virginia

This is the kind of news that explodes in the black community and no one else in the world seems to know about it. I certainly didn't wake up the day after I read this in the Amsterdam News and hear any of it mentioned on The View. So -- if you haven't heard about what happened in Big Creek, West Virginia earlier this month, you might want to read this. Be warned: the article is fairly graphic.


6 arrested, charged in woman's weeklong torture
Authorities believe racism played role in ordeal

By Gary Harki
Staff writer

Carmen Williams doesn’t understand why her 20-year-old daughter was tortured, raped and tied up in a shed.

Police tell her that what happened was probably a hate crime, that it happened because Megan Williams is black.

“Every time they stabbed her, they called her ‘nigger,’” her mother said.

But whatever the reason, Carmen Williams wants people to know what happened to her daughter. She agreed to talk to a reporter from her daughter’s room at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital.

She said a man and a woman — who Megan Williams thought were her friends — took her to the house of Frankie Lee Brewster in Pecks Mill, Logan County.

Megan Williams was held in the house for about a week, police said.

According to criminal complaints filed against six people in this case, she was beaten, stabbed, choked, sexually assaulted and threatened with death.

The details are even more horrible. According to the complaints, she was forced to eat dog and rat feces and to lick up blood. She was made to lick parts of Brewster’s body, under the threat of death. Her hair was pulled out. She was made to drink from the toilet. She was sexually assaulted while hot water was poured on her body, and while a man held a knife to her.

A woman allegedly cut Megan Williams’ ankle and said, “That’s what we do to niggers around here.”

(If you want to read the rest, click here.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

An African safe sex ad...


This is a South African safe sex ad for kids, according to a friend to sent it to me -- though i know way too many adults who would get a good laugh out of this. I especially like the pink fringed curtain as a progressively diseased vulva in the first four panels.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Queen Esther Gets Paid

a few days ago, i got a call from ed durante, the director of the indie black black comedy jake gets paid. this was my first substantial film role to date -- although i have some blactress buddies that think my moment in that grand farce marcy x (a medium/semi-close up shot of me, in a kente cloth headwrap no less, yelling "get that bitch off the stage!" in reference to a pink chanel-suit wearing lisa kudrow) was a pretty good one. ed sounded a little giddy, as usual. he decided to have one last rough cut showing of the film before he submitted it to sundance, to get some feedback. that's got to be a crazy trajectory, drumming up support to get your film seen there. because it's not about independent film anymore. and it doesn't necessarily matter how good your film is. he had put it up for "public" consumption somewhere on nyu's campus (his alma mater) on the same night as sekou sundiata's memorial, so i figured i was destined to not see it before the rest of the world did. but here was ed's phone call. i couldn't say no.

ed pulled that shoot off in april by scheduling everything on the weekends. in retrospect, i can't believe he did it. wait a minute -- what am i saying? film is a collaborative effort. we did it -- the cast, the crew, all of us. we really did.

he said 7pm, so i'm thinking he'll click the light switch off at 6:55pm and of course when i show up at about 6:20pm or something i'm the very first person there, which is embarassing and wierd. i got to thinking, maybe i should give up on this whole "punctual" thing i've got going. it's totally working for me but not really. ed was at his rosy effervescent best -- wisecracking and wine-sipping his way through it as he rearranged furniture with his brother paris and answered the door and greeted the guests and poured the vino. there were a dozen of us or so. it was very much a listening room.

i have to say, i really liked the movie. it looks so warm and lush. and there are moments that feel immediate and familiar because of the camera angles, the rhythm in conversation and some fairly straightforward funny moments. there were moments when i wouldn't look at my face but i didn't look as fat as i thought i would, so all i could really feel was sweet relief. i didn't know that ed would bookend the movie with my songs. that was a beautiful surprise.

the first was "stand by your man" which rang out stark and weary as the main character Liza, a brunette white girl, runs out of the bedroom towards the camera completely naked in slow motion a la peckinpah (at least that's who i thought of when i saw it) with her black boyfriend jake's freshly removed condom. the next shot has her in the tub, emptying the contents of said condom into her vagina and tilting her hips upward, in an obvious effort to impregnate herself, all the while chatting casually with the boyfriend through the closed/locked door, who thinks she's simply washing up. obviously a psycho, right? there's more but i really don't want to give it away...
later when it was time to ask questions and toss up opinions, i remembered out loud an article i read somewhere about desperate modern women who say they don't want to get married or have kids but who poke tiny pinholes in their condoms and diaphrams or stop taking the pill, or whatever, to entrap whoever they're with. conception by deception. it's supposedly on the upswing in urban areas, especially new york city -- but no one had ever heard of such a thing. how cool was ed, to tap into something so topical.

he ends with the song "get it right this time" which totally worked. it was almost as though the lyrics were saying what jake was really thinking.

i remember walking to the subway and thinking, okay, i'm over the hump. i've done three national commercials, i've done a supporting role in a film. i've finally got on-camera stuff that shows that i can act. now what i need is a role on the "law and order" franchise and my transition to film/tv/commercials will be complete -- relatively speaking, naturally.