Saturday, February 19, 2011

there's no such thing as a post-racial society

if you're so detached from reality that you honestly believe that we as a nation are living in a post-racial society, then anything i have to say probably won't change your mind. perhaps you live in an international city that's especially segregated (and racist!), like los angeles. maybe you don't know any black people. i don't mean the guy at work that chats with you at the water cooler, or those nice africans you talk to over coffee after church. i mean an ongoing relationship that would ultimately dispel a lot of myths and give some insight as to what's actually going on around here. perhaps you're on some sort of cultural sedative -- the kind that has you whole-heartedly believing whatever the media force feeds you, not necessarily because you're daft but because you really want that claptrap to be true.

or you know what. none of this means anything to you because your life pretty much flows like an episode of friends or sex and the city -- people of color are background talent in your (new york city!) life. occasionally, some negro walks through the frame on his way somewhere. or he makes you a latte, or a cocktail, or a sandwich. or he has sex with you. and that's about it.

the system that this country is based upon is designed to give me every disadvantage as a person of color. ignoring this simple fact about how america works doesn't mean that race is irrelevant. it means that you're deluding yourself. and that's fine, i suppose. apparently, you can afford to wear blinders. i can't.

help me, someone said to me recently -- a dirty white boy of epic proportions, a borderline hipster. smart, well-intentioned and lost, lost, lost. not surprisingly, he said it with feeling. he had just made a remark to a few of us that made one sister gasp involuntarily. i think he was genuinely embarassed.

i laughed in his face. save yourself, i said. but i find it difficult to ignore someone when they're drowning right in front of me, so i threw him a line and gave him a book to read.

i'll let you know how he's doing from time to time. until that next sunny dispatch, here's a glimpse of his required reading list.
  1. White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
  2. Toms, Coons, Mammies, Mulattoes and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Film by Donald Bogle
  3. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings
  4. The Price of the Ticket by James Baldwin
  5. Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the America by Eduardo Bonillo-Silva

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

another one?

here's the trailer for the green lantern -- another hollywood big budget popcorn masterpiece. frankly, i'm shocked that it isn't in 3-d.

i have no idea why i don't love ryan reynolds as much everyone else does. this movie probably won't change my mind but the special effects look awe-inspiring -- and there'll probably be enough sassy one-liners to hold my interest if the script sucks.

did you know that the green lantern from the non-comic books -- the one in the cartoons who hung out in the justice league in the 80s -- was a black man named john stewart? when it was time to make the movie, fans of the chartreuse superhero were left bitching, uh, i mean wondering why they put a white guy in the on-screen role. or so says my permanent boyfriend, who knows such things because lives deep in the geek forest, in a mancave filled with comic books and beer. oh, but don't believe him -- this trailer tells the entire history of the green lantern, in so much high brow supernerdy detail, it's actually a little weird.

here's a thought: if they're really going to troll through every comic book ever written to make movies, when are they going to bring black lightning to the masses?

Monday, February 07, 2011

this looks promising...

...and by promising, i mean not crappy. who wouldn't want to see where it all began? here's the new x men:first class trailer. enjoy.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

writing and writing and writing

i was working with ken on some rewrites at the workspace in chelsea tonight and he starts improvising around this one idea, just verbalizing intent and ideas and bits of things that we'd been discussing about entitlement and white people. i don't know why but something took off in me, running. hard and fast. i almost literally exploded in another direction. i stood there in the middle of the rehearsal space scribbling, while he went off. i couldn't write fast enough. it was astonishing, how effortless all of it was, how the words swung out of the pit of me, how what ken said had me bouncing in a thousand different directions, all of it oozing out of the tip of my pen.

it was almost as though i were in some sort of trance. not thinking, not feeling. instinctively shifting something inside me again and again and letting more and more out.

there was a time when i couldn't remember when i had moments like those as a playwright. now they're coming hard and fast, all the time. for this, i am truly grateful.

now back to my rewrites.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

busy signals

up to my neck in rewrites, lyrics, rehearsals, boxing conditioning sessions and editing work. and of course, the spring cleaning never ends. the rpm challenge awaits me. i've got some good ideas. blah, blah, blah.

everything is working itself out, though. i can't remember the last time i practiced the piano -- and out of nowhere, i almost threw away the phone number for a piano teacher i found on craigslist.

Friday, February 04, 2011

would you like some tequila lime sorbet?

i'm making a batch of this yummy goodness tomorrow. it's so good, i thought you should have some, too.

tequila lime sorbet

you need:

lime juice
lime zest
an ice cream machine (preferrably electric)

that's it!

here's what you do:

make simple syrup -- put this in a saucepan on low, let it dissolve.

one cup sugar
one cup water

then add one cup of fresh squeezed lime juice to the dissolved hot simple syrup, pulp and all. put in two tablespoons of lime zest. stir this, make sure everything is dissolved and totally liquid, then let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for TWO HOURS.

after TWO HOURS, yank it out and put 4 tablespoons of tequila in it. stir carefully, then pour all of it into an ice cream maker for 30 minutes. after 30 minutes, take it out and put it in the freezer. leave it there overnight for best results -- but it should be ready in TWO HOURS, at least.

eat up and think of me...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

shirley chisholm, we need you

i keep forgetting that it's black history month because as far as i'm concerned, that's every month. so i'm going to do what i usually do and go on and on about whatever amazing negro pops into my head. today is no exception.

ah, shirley chisholm -- the first black woman elected to congress, the first major party black candidate to run for president and the first woman to run for the democratic presidential nomination. she was also an educator and an author, and (in my opinion) a gifted orator. if you haven't seen the 2005 documentary shirley chisholm: unbought and unbossed, you are missing out on something truly spectacular: the awesome visual of a black woman, unflinching and surrounded by hippies, feminists, young voters -- with presence and poise, an absolute powerhouse -- as she delivers the goods.

here's the trailer for the documentary.

...and here's a few wise words from mrs. chisholm herself.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

a break in the ice

yeah, so...

once i got the winter 2011 emerging artist residency through the field in december, i thought that would be more than enough until the end of the season. there's a lot of work involved. we have weekly meetings, i have weekly rehearsals, and there are consultations and talks to consider, along with a final performance at the kitchen on march 21. january found me trudging through chelsea's west side in the snow and freezing cold to the warmth of an open studio space and fresh ideas, to flesh out whatever was inside me. i spent my days buried in rewrites and running lines aloud in our harlem apt to bounce them around and make them come alive somehow, leaving the house for twice daily boxing sessions, church and occasionally groceries. my self-imposed lockdown was complete.

nevermind the fact that i have to finish recording and mixing my black country rock album, that i've got the "billy meets billie" project in february at the university of the streets to rehearse for or the salon's anniversary bash at the edison ballroom in early march. i'll get to those tidbits later.

the thing is, i had every intention to stay in lockdown until my father's birthday in march. but inspiration is a funny thing. it can't be partitioned off or legistated or controlled. once something triggers it, it simply flows. in the best of circumstances -- that is, if i get out of the way and don't undo things -- it keeps flowing. once the ideas started to run over me from one project, they started to spill onto everything else.

i'm not afraid to fall through the ice and drown. thanks to my time in nyc as an outsider, i know how to swim very well. there may be an undertow, but that's to be expected when the pull is this strong.

if you've been reading this blog, you already know this -- so for the uninitiated and/or uninformed, here's something you should know about me as an artist.

i'm not a replicator. i'm an originator. that means most of the work i do comes from what i create. everyone that calls themselves an artist doesn't do these things. as a matter of fact, most of the creative folk i know patiently wait by the phone for it to ring so they can make a living. for most of them, developing and executing their own ideas is unthinkable -- for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that they don't have any ideas in the first place. needless to say, fear of so many things -- one's own potential, for example -- can sometimes play a stronger part than anyone would care to imagine. but i digress.

i'll tell you what i'm working on later. for now, all i can say is that i'm working. hard.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


at the moment, i'm listening to murder ballads, making lists and having a naked protein shake, and messing with garageband. (i'm definitely taking a mac workshop to figure this out. if i do it on my own, it'll take forever.) my boyfriend, a really old danelectro guitar, is within easy reach. it's time for the rpm challenge -- i'm going to write an album in a month. to tell the truth and shame the devil, i've already got the songs. they're in bits and pieces all over the place, in various books i scribble lyrics and stuff into at random. it'll probably be the next americana album -- but there's some other stuff i have in mind, too. i'll put it up, but God knows if i want anyone to actually hear it.

i'm still pissed that i overslept and missed my first boxing session. the next one is at 6:45pm. someone is getting pummeled tonight. and it's not going to be me.

it's going to be a busy month -- with babies! -- so i'm going to blog every day of it. this month's theme on nablopomo is CHARACTER, whatever that means. of course, i'm working on a script or two, so there's plenty of characters there. and there's the fiber of one's being to consider, i suppose. we'll see where all of it takes me.

it's the dead of winter. what a beautiful time to make art.