Monday, March 31, 2008

oh, ed!

couldn't help posting this one. Time Out New York caught ed durante in the street -- in monkey fur! (oh, ed.) he's the illustrious director of jake gets paid, the indie i was in last spring. enjoy!

I, New York

Time Out New York / Issue 652 : Mar 27–Apr 2, 2008
Public eye Ed DuRanté, 41/7th St and First Ave

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

Can we take your picture for the magazine?
[Laughs] This is too funny. My brother has been going around with this homburg hat and pipe, and I’ve been telling him he’s gonna get into Time Out because of it.

I don’t think I’d notice any hat within ten feet of your jacket.
It’s Mongolian monkey.

Sure it is.
I am dead serious! My ex-girlfriend got it years ago as a gift from her mother. She wouldn’t wear it, so I took it.

What do you do?
I’m a filmmaker. I just finished my first feature, Jake Gets Paid. It’s a black black comedy. It’s about a woman who, after discovering that her boyfriend is having an affair, decides to give him a surprise party. She invites the mistress, Jake’s parents, the friends. Everyone knows this party shouldn’t happen, yet they all come because they all love Jake. I just sent it to Cannes.

Anything autobiographical about the plot?
Well, you know. These things happen.

Monogamy is not a natural human inclination.
[Laughs] You said it, not me.
[Editor’s note: Wikipedia lists 16 different forms of non monogamy.]

Does the girl with the monkey jacket play into this?
Um, no comment? All my scripts are inspired by things in my life that hurt or were great. It took me three years to get this one right—mostly because it took so long to be truthful with myself.

Black black comedy is a catchy term. Do you think other people will start using it to describe their work? That’d be great. As long as they give me credit.

More thoughts from Ed

“I want to see Passing Strange. The show is political and deals with race and sex and so many other things that I deal with in my own work.”

“I worked for Ed Koch at City Hall for awhile. Eventually, I was like, Why am I doing this? I’m an artist. So I quit and started Talking Drum Theater Company. Then I started a hip-hop rock band. Then I applied to NYU’s film program and they gave me a full scholarship. How did I fit all that in? I did a lot of cocaine.”

“The ring and bracelet were my dad’s. When he died I put all his jewelry in a box because I didn’t feel like I was man enough to wear it. Then at a certain point in my life, I was like, You know what? I’m ready now. Our dad had a lot of style—he was a painter, very much a dandy. That’s why the brothers DuRanté roll with whatever we feel like wearing. [Laughs]”

—Kate Lowenstein

Sunday, March 30, 2008

oh, lebron

why is it that whenever a black male athlete is on the cover of a nationally distributed and well-respected magazine, he looks like a wild beast of some sort that someone just unleashed onto an unsuspecting public -- yet when his white counterpart is featured on the cover, he looks like a strong, handsome (sexy, even!) conquering hero, with his foot on his helmet and his shirt off and him looking out past you, into the horizon and everything, like he can see the next game he's going to win?

come on, now. i can't be the only one that sees this distinction and wonders about it.

what's especially heinous is that this is the first black man on the cover of VOGUE magazine. all of the black male models we know and love, black models that were ruling the runways in paris and milan and gracing everyone else's magazine cover, these people waited until 2008 to feature a black man on the cover? then again, that shouldn't be surprising when you consider that they didn't put a black woman on the cover until 1977. (and yes, it was beverley johnson.)

lebron james (also called "King James" by the way -- i like that) says he was putting on his game face for this shot -- but why would he need that look for a VOGUE magazine cover? shouldn't he save his game face for the actual game?

he certainly hasn't pulled out this game face for the commercials he's done. we've all seen "the lebrons" in the sun, haven't we: lebron, dressed in an all-white suit and carefully shaped spherical afro looking for all the world like an elegant dandy, pulling off a spectacular swan-dive in slow motion into a large swimming pool and smiling at the camera beatifically as he seems to lounge underwater, all the while surrounded by various and sundry characters at poolside who turn out to be lebron himself, a la eddie murphy/the nutty professor.

not surprisingly, it's my favorite one: lebron as comedian and character actor is so unexpected, and what with all the assumptions/stereotypes about black people not knowing how to swim/being afraid of the water, a poolside oneupsmanship/showdown against his many selves was effing brilliant. what's next, i wondered? will "the lebrons" go skiing?

oh, you haven't seen my favorite lebron commercial, you say? well, here it is.

what's in this commercial is a far cry from what i see on the cover of VOGUE for the month of april: a King Kong for the 21st century, with giselle as fay wray.

i suppose one could say that i'm being overly sensitive or touchy, that it's just a magazine cover, that it doesn't matter. but actually, it does. in a media-saturated world where such images are carefully thought out and planned by people who are supposedly intelligent and educated and worldly, any visual inference that portrays black men as dangerous, angry, violent animals is not a good thing and it really shouldn't be celebrated as such. subconsciously, people are absorbing those images as truth and they treat black men accordingly.

you don't even want me to get into the images that are floating around out there about black women. you really don't.

the racism inside all of this is so obvious, it feels idiotic to explain it. it's like my friend ralph, driving up on a white skateboarder in the middle of the street at 120th and 5th and yelling at him to get out of the road. the kicker was that marcus garvey park was right there, mere inches away, but he'd rather skate in the street. (seriously, that really happened...)

interestingly, there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this. and one of them is lebron. hey, it's the april issue, it's out there. at this point, what else can he be but magnanimous?

boy. they'd better hope i never get famous.

Friday, March 28, 2008

congresswoman shirley chisholm did it first!

before there was obama, before there was hillary, there was former schoolteacher mrs. shirley chisholm -- the first black woman elected to congress and the first black woman to run for president of the united states in 1972. of course, they didn't take her seriously -- but that doesn't mean that she or her campaign weren't serious. what a powerhouse.

check out the documentary about her run for the white house: unbought and unbossed. essential viewing for every american anywhere.

how curious, how very interesting that with all of this gender vs. race talk from the likes of roseanne barr and gloria steinem, with their ongoing "dialogue" of gender bias and the constant positing of feminism as an inclusive sisterhood (ha! i've never believed that whopper), no one in the feminist movement has thought to mention congresswoman chisholm and her historic presidential bid.

seriously, i have a question: after listening to what ms. barr or ms. steinem have to say about the gender issues in this election, is anyone wondering why black women aren't voting for hillary in droves?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Charles Bronsom is...MANDOM!

i loved charles bronson when i was a little kid. he was a man's man -- the ultimate tough guy. now that those million dollar japanese commercials that american celebrities have been doing for years have come to light, gems like this one are starting to surface. he must have done this in the 70s.

as i watched it, all i could think was, that's totally the life i thought i'd have when i grew up: there i'd be, all dressed up and having a cocktail of some sort while some nat king cole look-a-like tickles the ivories. and then some midget doorman would give me that hearty "goodnight" along with my car keys, and i'd zip through gotham, feeling powerful and arrogant and in control. wheeee!

i wonder what that stuff smells like. do they still sell it? or has it gone the way of right guard and hai karate, two other very important emblems of my manly childhood...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

...and now, i give you the song "ken lee"...

why does everybody want to sing?
why does everybody think they can really sing when they really can't?
why can't anyone tell them how bad they sound?
why can't they hear how bad they sound?

with the worldwide onslaught of american idol, has bad singing become a cottage industry? is it really so mesmerizing, to listen to bad vocalists?

listening to this woman sing with such absolute conviction and be so far off the mark all the way across the board -- she even thought she was singing in english! -- was nothing short of astonishing. but then again, people lie to themselves all the time, about all kinds of things. this is just more blatant and obvious -- and funny! -- than the rest. i think it freaked me out because it made me wonder what i was unconsciously lying about to myself.

maybe bad singing is relative. for years, i couldn't stand bob dylan's voice. then one day i sat and listened to "tangled up in blue" and after i pushed "replay" for the fourth or fifth time, i knew the deal. i know some singers who feel the same way about billie holiday, and i've always loved her. but i think it's universally understood that as a vocalist, billie holiday is bringing way more to the table musically than ashanti or mya or beyonce or andre 3000 or a lot of others i could name. the question isn't whether or not any of them can sing. the question is, will anyone be sitting around listening to their music in 50 years?

chocolate rain, anyone?

Monday, March 24, 2008

america the divided: dunbar village and why you don't know about it

nowhere is the racial divide in this country more evident than during the evening news. i can't believe that everyone in america doesn't know what happened at dunbar village last june. aside from bet news and other african-american news sources (programs that most americans that aren't of color don't watch, to put it lightly), i have yet to see any national news coverage to discuss or address this issue whatsoever.

this is why so many black people are angry and in a panic. this is why we have our own news sources and radio programs and newspapers. because the resources that are for the common good and that are supposedly for all of us aren't reporting about what's happening in our communities. so we have to do it. we aren't being divisive. they aren't being inclusive. they never have been.

i can certainly tell you all about what's happening in your collective community. why can't you tell me what's happening in mine?

until basic issues like reporting the news are rectified, i will never believe that there is equality or justice here. those are buzzwords used to pitch this country favorably in a global marketplace. it's all a marketing ploy. as always, we're selling the idea of what america is. what's funny is that everyone else in the world can see right through it.

but i digress.

the thing that is so profoundly disturbing about the entire dunbar village issue is that a black woman was assaulted to this extreme -- as many as 10 black youths beat and sexually assaulted her in front of her 12 year old son and forced both of them to do some pretty sick things -- and the nationally recognized so-called leaders of the black community have rushed to defend and protect the accused and not the victims. for a long time, i was fairly convinced that we have been conditioned to denigrate black women. unfortunately, this entire situation proves me right.

now what?



This mass open letter is a call to action for all black people who care about the safety and welfare of black women and children in America. If you are concerned about the recent developments about Dunbar Village, please copy the post below, and email it to all of your friends and coworkers.


Copy and email below, and title your email: Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women!

Let us know in the comments section if you are supporting the movement to protect black women from black on black violence.


Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women!

Right-thinking black people everywhere are stunned by the recent betrayal of Al Sharpton and the NAACP in a situation that is just too outrageous to ignore.

This is a painful story to tell, but it's important for the moral, law-abiding majority of black Americans to understand exactly why Al Sharpton and the NAACP must be immediately stopped.

On June 18, 2007, a black woman was gang raped by 10 youths and forced at gunpoint to have sex with her own 12 year old son in a housing complex called Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach, Florida. The young men not only viciously punched, kicked and sliced this sister and her
son with glass objects, but they also blinded her boy by pouring nail polish remover into his eyes.

The young men forced this sister and son to lay naked in a bathtub together, and attempted to set them on fire (they could not find matches). The youths boldly took cell phone pictures so that they could enjoy their violent, immoral and sadistic acts at a later time. The violence continued for more than three hours, and although this sister's neighbors heard her screams, no one called the police or came to her aid.

This sister and her son had to walk a mile to the hospital, because the assailants stole her car, and threatened to kill her and her family if she told the authorities.

Only four of the young men have been apprehended, while the remaining six are on the loose, doing Lord knows what in our communities. There is no manhunt for the remaining suspects.

As devastating as this story is, what the NAACP and Al Sharpton have done about it will simply take your breath away:

Not only did the NAACP ignore hundreds of requests to assist this woman because it was 'outside the scope of their mission', but they joined forces with Al Sharpton, and sent their lawyers to speak out IN SUPPORT OF THE RAPISTS.

You heard me right.

Even though there is conclusive DNA evidence and signed confessions, the NAACP and Al Sharpton are saying that it is 'unfair' to not offer bail to these four alleged rapists. They even had a press release about it.


Al Sharpton and the NAACP are banking on the belief that you and I will be just like this black woman's neighbors. Join me by saying NOT THIS TIME. We will not turn a deaf ear to when we hear calls for help from one of our sisters and brothers who are being victimized.

Stop the NAACP and Al Sharpton's National Action Network from committing this disgrace in our community. Just this once, let's stand up and be counted by saying that we demand safe neighborhoods for our women and children.

Here is what you can do:
  1. Spread the word. Forward this email if your conscience and concern have been raised. Send it to every concerned black citizen that you know.
  2. Demand an explanation from your local NAACP chapter about thiscase. Cancel your membership to these organizations, and write a letter explaining that you will return when they prioritize the public safety needs of black women and children.
  3. If you know an African American reporter or a black radio talk show
    host, forward this story them and ask them to follow up on it.
  4. If you do not belong to these organizations, call and write them to tell them of your outrage and displeasure:
NAACP National Headquarters
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore MD 21215
Toll Free: (877) NAACP-98
Local: (410) 580-5777

National Action Network
Rev. Al Sharpton
106 W. 145th Street
Harlem, New York 10039

Each Friday at 9:00am, visit any of the websites below, which will give you an update on the status of this situation. DO NOT LET THIS GO. Let us start working for safer neighborhoods in black communities.

Read the history of the Dunbar Village problem here:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

i know this sounds stupid but...

when you live in new york city, it’s so easy to fall into a daily grind that blots out the world. and that’s kind of bizarre, because compared to other parts of the country, everything is here. it’s kind of like going to a lavish exotic smorgasbord every night for dinner and walking away with a tuna sandwich on your plate.

some time ago, i promised myself that i wouldn’t live that way, that i would make the best of my time in the city. i got a membership to the Met and set aside one day a week to visit museums. i figured that since there was at least 100 of them in the city, i’d stay busy. and i was right. it got the ball rolling in the right direction. my fun day expanded to include apontaneous day trips, exotic foods, long winding walks exploring the city and of course, cool friends. like beauty day, when fun day isn’t there, i feel it in the rest of my life eventually.

that was an important lesson to learn: that if you don’t set the time aside for whatever it is that you want to do, it just won’t happen.

being a part of this group is one of those tools i have in my secret arsenal that guarantees me a certain amount of equilibrium in my world. i’m elated that this ball is still going to roll. count me in. it’s going to be a great year.

Friday, March 21, 2008

"black women who date interracially" - the support group!

someone sent me an invitation to a mixer for an organization called Black Women Who Date Interracially, or BWWDI for short. i don't know when it is exactly but i'm thinking about finding out and going, purely out of curiousity. this is a group that seems to go beyond the "sitting around talking about where are all the brothers" conflamma and gives a lot of support and encouragement to sisters who are reaching out in that direction. because evidently, they need it.

i guess i'd need it too, if i actually gave a crap about what anyone thought about who i was seeing. but whatever.

we all know the stats, don't we? as it stands, 70% of black women are single.

when they run over these numbers, no one launches into who isn't interested in marriage because they're gay/lesbians. hm. that would be an interesting documentary.

evidently, i can join this BWWDI group whether i'm married or not. they want supportive sisters, that's all. and i understand. but more and more i think that anyone's comfort level with interracial dating has everything to do with not just being open but also emotionally mature and grounded. you really have to know who you are and be sure of who you are. it's easy for me to not care because i know that all of those "other people" (the proverbial "them," i suppose) don't matter.

why do black women have to be so deliberate about interracial dating? do we really need a 12 step program, a support group, a prayer circle and a how-to manual to say yes when that white guy at work asks us out for the thousandth time?

good grief.

still and all, it's good that black women are discussing this stuff. i know i've posted about this before, but it bears repeating: it's not about dating the white guy, or a guy of any race, for that matter. it's about dating the cool guy, no matter what he looks like. whether the two of you are compatible and get along matters way more than what race he is.

then again, i don't know what i'm saying. there are still way too many black women who can't stand to look at themselves unless their hair is straightened...(check out that video above from the Oprah show. an audience full of black women, and not an afro or a dreadlock in the bunch!)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

the problem with obama's minister

i think it's important to read as much as possible from every and any perspective about the issues that concern this campaign (and of course, the war). this article is one that you're not likely to hear on the "fair and balanced" reporting that doesn't happen at ultra-conservative right-wing arch-republican FOX News. so i thought i'd post it here.

frankly, when taken in context, i agreed with much of what obama's minister said. i challenge anyone to take what he said in context and examine his words closely. want an example? it's true that the Klu Klux Klan in its inception was a terrorist organization that was condoned by the government -- and truth be told, they still are. they systematically murdered hundreds of thousands of black men, women and children and used terrorist tactics to intimidate and control them.

no one has ever acknowledged this publicly on a national level. no one puts this in schoolbooks and such so we can all learn about our collective past as americans. and definitely, no one has EVER apologized for it.

how could hard-working, tax-paying american citizens be treated this way? how could the american government stand by and let this happen to its citizens for more than a hundred years? why is the Klu Klux Klan still alive and well in this country? why hasn't the government called them the terrorists that they are and dismantled them?

i was talking to this aging white hippie the other day who agreed with much of what rev. wright said as well. and in a way, that's to be expected. think about it. old hippies are always going off about "the man" and "the government" and "foreign policy" and our tax dollars being used to fight unnecessary wars, because they lived through it in the 60s and 70s. the war in iraq is only the latest in a long line of dirty deeds done at our expense. there are many people in the world who've observed our foreign policy from a distance for quite some time and many more who are still living through its damaging aftereffects. it's lunacy to think that we could do so much harm in the world under the guise of freedom and democracy and not eventually have any of it impact us in some horrible way. according to that old white hippie, that's just not the way karma works.

the problem with obama's minister isn't that he's divisive or racist or homophobic or anti-semitic. (i mean, come on. didn't i just describe most of the presidents we've ever had? didn't i just describe nixon? get this: president wilson loved the movie birth of a nation and was completely and utterly pro-KKK. but i digress.) the problem is that rev. wright is not a well-dressed, well-heeled conservative white man -- because if he was pat robertson or jerry falwell, people may have batted an eyelash but it wouldn't have upended someone else's presidential bid. remember when they said that hurricane katrina happened because new orleans was a modern day sodom, that 9/11 happened because of the sins of the nation? who rushed to denounce them? i don't recall a national furor on a level that would come anywhere near what rev. wright has experienced. well. actually john mccain made a statement against what they said. but he needs the votes of the religious right, so he's taken all of that back now.

why isn't anyone focusing on the divisive things these conservatives said in comparison to rev. wright, or john mccain's latest flip-flop? you tell me.


Obama's Minister Committed "Treason" But When My Father Said The Same Thing, He Was An American Hero
by Frank Schaeffer

When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison Obama's minister's shouted "controversial" comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton.

Dad and I were amongst the founders of the Religious right. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation's sins instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party. (This was while I was my father's sidekick before I dropped out of the evangelical movement altogether.) We were rewarded for our "stand" by people such as Congressman Jack Kemp, the Fords, Reagan and the Bush family. The top Republican leadership depended on preachers and agitators like us to energize their rank and file. No one called us un-American.

Consider a few passages from my father's immensely influential America-bashing book A Christian Manifesto. It sailed under the radar of the major media who, back when it was published in 1980, were not paying particular attention to best-selling religious books. Nevertheless it sold more than a million copies.

Here's Dad writing in his chapter on civil disobedience:
If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force [against the US government]... then at a certain point force is justifiable.
And this:
In the United States the materialistic, humanistic world view is being taught exclusively in most state schools... There is an obvious parallel between this and the situation in Russia [the USSR]. And we really must not be blind to the fact that indeed in the public schools in the United States all religious influence is as forcibly forbidden as in the Soviet Union....

Then this:

There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate... A true Christian in Hitler's Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion... It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God's law it abrogates it's authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation...

Was any conservative political leader associated with Dad running for cover? Far from it. Dad was a frequent guest of the Kemps, had lunch with the Fords, stayed in the White House as their guest, he met with Reagan, helped Dr. C. Everett Koop become Surgeon General. (I went on the 700 Club several times to generate support for Koop).

Dad became a hero to the evangelical community and a leading political instigator. When Dad died in 1984 everyone from Reagan to Kemp to Billy Graham lamented his passing publicly as the loss of a great American. Not one Republican leader was ever asked to denounce my dad or distanced himself from Dad's statements.

Take Dad's words and put them in the mouth of Obama's preacher (or in the mouth of any black American preacher) and people would be accusing that preacher of treason. Yet when we of the white Religious Right denounced America white conservative Americans and top political leaders, called our words "godly" and "prophetic" and a "call to repentance."

We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.

My dad's books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the "respectable" evangelical community and he's still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he'd take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad's Whatever Happened to the Human Race? a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler's Germany.

The hypocrisy of the right denouncing Obama, because of his minister's words, is staggering. They are the same people who argue for the right to "bear arms" as "insurance" to limit government power. They are the same people that (in the early 1980s roared and cheered when I called down damnation on America as "fallen away from God" at their national meetings where I was keynote speaker, including the annual meeting of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist convention, and the religious broadcasters that I addressed.

Today we have a marriage of convenience between the right wing fundamentalists who hate Obama, and the "progressive" Clintons who are playing the race card through their own smear machine. As Jane Smiley writes in the Huffington Post "[The Clinton's] are, indeed, now part of the 'vast right wing conspiracy.' ( )

Both the far right Republicans and the stop-at-nothing Clintons are using the "scandal" of Obama's preacher to undermine the first black American candidate with a serious shot at the presidency. Funny thing is, the racist Clinton/Far Right smear machine proves that Obama's minister had a valid point. There is plenty to yell about these days.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


for all of you folks out there in foreign countries, those of you who don't have televisions or who categorically refuse to watch them, here it is: the prego commercial i did last year! yes, it's still running. yes, as long as it's still running, i'm still getting paid. yes, residuals are a beautiful thing. yes, yes, yes!

by the way: i had an audition today at HOUSE, for the fast food folks at sonic. more on that later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the swedish cottage in nyc

my friend and i were tromping around walking through central park after the last big snow in february after spending the early afternoon in MoMA. somewhere in there, we came upon this sign:

"imported from sweden in 1876?" my curiousity was piqued. it was a beautiful little place. immediately i thought of gunnar and wondered what he would think of this little bit of sweden in the middle of the city. is it authentic? it must be.

sometimes its really overwhelming, the way the unexpected can overtake you so suddenly in this town. sweden? who would've thought it? everytime i turn around, i trip up over something wonderful in the city to explore that i've never seen before, that's been there forever and that is decidedly and distinctively not american. i've criscrossed the park a jillion times but i'd never walked from central park south (midtown) to central park north (harlem). and i'd definitely never seen this cottage. but this is located beyond the popular zones like sheep's meadow and the bandshell and all that. further up isn't as congested and so it feels more like a sanctuary, like its my own private back yard.

if gunnar ever came to visit, we could actually have a day of swedish everything, right in the city. i suppose we'd have to end up at aquavit. i really love the food there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

sunday's gig

here's a cool photo of jef lee johnson and naisha watson at soundcheck. the gig on sunday at the brooklyn museum was stellar, for many reasons. read more about it on my rock and roll blog here.

the one reason i couldn't stop dwelling on was that this was the first time that i could hear the new songs -- material that i'd written all by myself -- out of the confines (and the safety) of the sofa in my living room. not that i'd never written a song by myself before but i've written so many all at once this time around that they're starting to tell a story that reflects a lot of what i've been going through recently. i know that as an artist, what you create is supposed to be a reflection of you, but this is much more transparent than i expected, and all of it sounds better than i'd hoped for.

after awhile, whatever brought me to the song is what i leave there inside of it when its done. i've gotten it off my chest, as it were. the emotional weight that brought it out of me only exists when i sing it, and that's a passing momentary thing. i left it in the song for someone else to feel. and so i'm on to the next.

i didn't mean to write about these things in such a direct way, i never meant to be so deliberate about it. i didn't think to myself, let me write a song about that situation. i just happened to be thinking about or reliving a moment in that situation and the song came out.

i realize now more than ever that this is the way it works creatively. to be inside the moment-to-moment work as this process is unraveling inside of me and all around me is overwhelming and humbling and strange. the songs are becoming jigsaw puzzle pieces that, when placed together just so are a complete picture, a snapshot of whatever i was going through at that moment in my life.

actually, i'm still going through it. i'm still writing it all out of me. it's not over yet.

Monday, March 10, 2008

everyday i'm hustlin'

kat williams is right. it doesn't matter if you're actually doing illegal business or not. if you're out there working the fryer at mc donald's hustling to make ends meet, then this is your theme song.

and yes, i'm seriously considering dropping major coinage to see katt williams at radio city music hall in april. and chris rock when he comes to madison square garden in may.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

charleston sc and beyond

cooper river bridge

i spent last weekend in charleston, sc looking at churches and talking to officiants with my friend. although there was a chill in the air, it was still sunny and beautiful. i love this cooper river bridge (also called the arthur ravenel jr. bridge). crossing it feels epic, somehow.

the cooper river bridge

trust me, it's much more overwhelming when you're standing on it.

the arthur ravenel jr bridge in charleston, sc

thankfully,we still made it to the isle of palms to stick our feet in the ocean before we left.

douglas on the beach