Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Congressional Reform Act of 2011 - It IS Time

someone emailed this to me and it made so much sense, i'm blogging it. please repost/forward/reblog/twitter and send, send, send. it's time.

apparently, congress does whatever it wants. or do they? the jury is still out on that one. the vietnam war came to a screeching halt because people marched and demanded it. but that was, what -- 40 years ago? we aren't a generation that takes to the streets in defiance. we take to our laptops and smart phones. the problem with this reform act is that ultimately, congress has to ratify it. isn't that like asking a bad kid to punish themselves?

with six figure salaries and self-regulated pay raises, solid health insurance, a pension and excellent retirement plan, and (yes believe it or not) not working for months on end, being a congressman (or woman) is like riding a gravy train with bisquit wheels. that is, compared to how the average american is doing.

congress should draft everyone at the age of 18. get personal. hit home, hard. that would make for a politically astute and very much involved populace, with a quickness.


The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 -- before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land -- all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those people to do likewise.

In three days, most people in the United States will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011
  1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office
  2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose
  3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
  4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
  5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
  6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people
  7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people
in the United States to receive this message. Maybe it is time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

GREAT news!

i just booked a performance workshop series at dixon place on thursday september 29 for a “musical” i’m assembling called the billie holiday project. this is an idea that i performed at the historic lenox lounge at the first annual harlem jazz shrines in may of this year. i wanted to grow it and i wasn’t sure how or if i could even pull it off in new york city because i hadn’t developed anything here through conventional means in awhile and i didn’t know the lay of the land. i still don’t, but i’m feeling my way along and i’m enjoying the process.

this is the way you do something new. i’ve originated work before. i know the trajectory very well. one step at a time, one moment at a time, one idea at a time – getting all of it up on its legs every season, getting a run where you can and shaping it as it goes along.

but that’s not the kicker.

the kicker is that i just confirmed with the apollo theater’s sound stage for their monthly music cafe series for may 11 and 12, 2012. i’ll also be performing there for harlem jazz shrines for those dates.

yeah, i’m over the moon. once i land, mpb and i will celebrate.

still submitting this idea for workshop opportunities all over the place. and yeah, i’m still waiting to find out if i’ve been chosen as a librettist for the bmi musical theater workshop. let’s see what develops. when anything gets confirmed, you will be the first one i tell.

happy summer!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, July 09, 2011

for your viewing pleasure

first up - flame and citron. it's about two world war II danish resistance fighters -- legendary, iconic heroes, actually -- who get caught out there with double crossing agents, a triple (yes, triple!) femme fatale and assassinations run amok. it's loosely based on fact, but who cares. it's a bloody wild ride - in part because everything was constantly unraveling so thoroughly and so believably around them all the time.

inglorious basterds should have been this good.

here's another gem - black book. it's another world war II epic about a dutch jewish woman who becomes a spy for the resistance. unbelievably shockingly great film. more twists and turns and unexpected potholes than anything i was anticipating. i mean it. you must see this. there were moments when i was actually yelling at the screen, in this totally involuntarily way.

it's interesting to see films about world war II that show another european perspective besides concentration camps and what happened to the jews. what about everybody else?

here's the based on facts world war II movie i'll make someday: german prisoners of war shipped off to america believe it or not. specifically, i want to go off about the ones held in barracks deep in the heart of the lone star state in the early 1940s. what happened to them -- most of them ended up staying, getting married, having a life -- is a story for the ages.

Friday, July 08, 2011

disappearing acts

running away to a beach in new jersey this weekend with my permanent boyfriend, to swim in the ocean and hopefully not get pulled in by the undertow. time to get a little sun, oversleep, watch more foreign movies and eat seafood with abandon. yay, summer!

in the meantime, here's a summertime song about swimming (and so much more) that i forgot about, from way back in the day: de la soul's tread water and as a happy bonus their theme song (as far as i'm concerned) magic number.

and oy. yes, i have to say this. i am so sick and tired of people who know nothing about hip-hop or rap pitching all of it into the garbage because of some song or lyric they heard in passing that they deemed sexist or substandard or unacceptable. ashley judd went way over the line by declaring that rap has a rape culture but she's not the first to talk what she doesn't know and she won't be the last. de la soul has always been known for their smarts, their humor and their social commentary. when its time to complain about this music, why aren't they ever mentioned?

lyrics: tread water
I was walking on the water when I saw a crocodile
He had daisies in his hat, so I stopped him for a while
He delivered me a message, a massage to soothe my stage
What it was was more then plug-up dosage
More than daisy age
Conversation drew a rule,
Which the crowd will roar by millions
Mr. crocodile said, 'dove, you must look
For now the villains try to hold you underwater
But one thing we all must heed
Sony walkmans keep us walking
De la soul can help you breathe when you tread water'

As I walked along my journey,
I thought 'what have I just learned? '
In a flash I saw commotion
There was movement in these ferns
Silently the silence came, was it the end of my world?
I shouted out in fear, 'who's there? '
'it's me,' said mr. squirrel
'i've searched for you all over, now you're found,
No time to waste. we must find the preacher man,
We must find the p.a. mase. all my population's dying,
And we're all in tune to doom.
Like the daisy, I need water
I need chesnuts to consume.'
'mr. squirrel,' I said, 'i'm sorry,
But the problem can't be solved
If there's no one here to help, and no one to get involved
Always look to the positive and never drop your head
For the water will engulf us if we do not dare to tread
So let's tread water'

Now one weary day I woke, my alarm said 'plug time's up'
Filled my bath up with the water, gargled with my gargle cup
As I bathed I felt a presence, and I'm sort of ticklish
I looked down and then around and I heard,
'hi! I'm mr fish. how do you do? as for me,
I'm in tip-top shape today, cause my water's clean
And no-one's menu says fresh fish filet
See I look past all my worries, which is something you must do
Though you're fed up, throw your head up
With this advice from me to you
And that's to tread water

As my day went unexplained, time was finding nothing fun
As I walked along the sidewalk, I heard,
'psst, excuse me, plug one.'
From my soul, de la that is, I hollered
'yes, are you talking to me? '
'no alarm meant,' he said, 'let me introduce myself.
I'm mr monkey.'
'mr monkey, I pledge you slap of five,
Now how does your problem meet? '
He said, 'my bananas are at their ripest, but they all
Stand at three feet. my swinging hand is bandaged up.
Could you help me with this chore? '
I brought him down to the native shop
And bought him copies of the de la score
Which assisted well in his elevation
Now all bananas is at his grasp
He decided with this accomplished,
He would put me on to the path
He to my to live by the inner sound, y'all
Which would bring me health in showbiz
Then to use them, not abuse them
And then in the words that got me to 'em
And that is to tread water

De La Soul - Magic Number by hushhush112

Thursday, July 07, 2011

What's in YOUR purse?

after reading this blog entry from stylist olori swank, i realized that a lot of people who know me usually wonder aloud when they're around me as to what is in my purse. i usually carry vintage purses because i figure it's less likely that i'll see anyone else with what i've got. to my way of thinking, style is much more important than fashion.

here's what lives in my purse -- as of today. (i don't know what's more shocking/annoying: the amount of stuff i carry everywhere or how much this says about who i am.)
  1. enid collins purse. (yes, i collect these. i found the latest one at a vintage/antique shop in brattleboro, vt for $30. go figure.)
  2. ipod shuffle (tres retro!) and big ol' sony headphones
  3. lucas' papaw ointment (if you are in the us of a and if you are black like me and if you have any of this in your purse, i owe you a coke.)
  4. a large coach wallet
  5. moo business cards in their tidy leather holder
  6. housekeys
  7. a small handmade gold compact with pam grier's picture embossed on it
  8. multivitamins for the day
  9. a chococat contact lens compact w/lens holder
  10. a hand-embroidered vintage handkerchief
  11. pocket kleenex tissues
  12. android phone
  13. android phone charger
  14. pens i love to write with
  15. bejeweled journal
  16. a good book, usually a bio (now finishing up bessie by chris albertson)
  17. a small bottle of motrin ib
  18. purell hand sanitizer
  19. small bottle of kiehl's creme de corps
  20. small container of kiehl's superbly restorative skin salve
  21. tide-to-go instant stain remover
  22. nars lipstick -- "scarlet empress" (heh.)
  23. vintage 50s ray ban shades and container
okay, yikes. this is too much for one purse. but all of it is so...necessary. i've got to be able to read and write and listen to cool stuff everywhere i go. one small slight disclaimer: most of these items are in a small clear plastic zip bag -- a purse in my purse, if you will -- so i can transfer it easily from one bag to another. really uncomplicates things.

hm. i feel another enid collins box purse coming on...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

oh, really?

how annoying is this?

so many stereotypes about black people are reinforced so innocuously throughout the media, it's no wonder so many of us believe them. here's a clip from the film harvard man that features some prattle about how black people can't swim.

i love the way the brother in this scene lets this fact of black life slide by, like his blackness depends on it. because if that's what black people do and if he's truly black, he'd better be all about it. right?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

happy fourth of july, america. actually, i celebrate juneteenth, so don't mind me. i'm only being magnanimous. (heh.)

before the more jingoistic amongst you go off the deep end with patriotic musings about how great you think the founding fathers were and how wonderful this country has always been (too late!), you should take this with you: a speech given by frederick douglass on july 4, 1851 that rips into the idea of celebrating freedom while 4 million americans were enslaved. ah, such hypocrisy...


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Today's Sermon

click here for today's sermon the gift that keeps on giving by pastor william carrol of times square church. enjoy and be blessed.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Black People CAN and DO Swim, Part 1: Hansborough Recreation Center

in zipping through topics on aquatics and water safety for nablopomo's theme this month, one that popped up repeatedly was the subject of african-americans and swimming. bizarrely, it seems that there are quite a lot of people who believe that this is something that we innately cannot do. black folk have heard this so often over the years -- reinforced by every media outlet, cheezy sit-com and hack comedian on the planet, of course -- that quite a few of us believe it.

i suppose any stereotype has a grain of truth in it, but this is one that just doesn't hold water -- even when the powers that be attempt to justify it by saying that black people aren't buoyant enough to swim. the reasons why black people don't swim are deeply rooted in our oh so racist society and are every indication of how escaping our troubled past isn't as simple as most jingoistic revisionists think it is.

first of all, there is this: historically when we had aquatics as a recreational option, we have taken full advantage of it. that is, when we were given the option. usually, we weren't. in my daddy's day for example (the 20s/30s), municipal swimming pools and the free swimming lessons that came with them were all the rage. in most instances, they were for whites only.

as an african-american, it would be more than frustrating for me to watch my hard-earned city and state tax dollars pay for something that i couldn't use. but i digress. and yes, more on that later.

black folk in some urban areas had swimming as a city-sponsored recreational option in their own neighborhoods. for the most part, harlem was the exception, not the rule. hansborough recreational center is a bright shining example of this. (see the video below.) open to the public in 1925 at an estimated cost of $500,000 -- with basketball courts, an elevated track and a huge indoor pool -- they had an average of 43,000 visitors annually by 1926. those regulars included everything from church groups and boys and girls clubs to black amateur athletes. with the harlem renaissance in bloom and harlem as the unofficial capital of black america, we were hitting our stride and our stroke.

yes, i know white people lived in harlem once upon a time -- but with white flight setting in as early as 1904 with the onset of the great migration, according to the 1930 census *surprise!* harlem was over 70% black.

secondly, segregation at muncipal swimming pools continued through the 60s for the most part, until such practices were deemed illegal. there was a second wave that embraced swimming as a sport in the 50s/60s but by the time we were allowed into those pools that our tax dollars funded, white people had embraced a decades old swim culture that meant not only enjoying the water on a regular basis amongst themselves but making swim lessons a kiddie rite of passage for their children. we had no such traditions in place.

last but not least: i'm not going to get into black women who don't swim -- or excercise! -- because they just got their hair done and they don't want to sweat their perm/press and curl/relaxer out, or screw up their expensive weave. seriously. i'm not going to touch that with somebody else's hand. but i will say that a black parent who is afraid of the water quite often keeps their child from learning to swim because they're afraid they'll drown.

the facility in the video is kind of stunning, isn't it. oh, and guess what? membership is $37.50 for 6 months or $75 for the year -- and with that, you have unlimited use of the entire facility.

i love harlem.

can i swim? yes, i can.

i never took lessons as a kid. we grew up in the ATL with a swimming pool in our backyard, so we jumped in until we figured it out. but i would never swim outdoors in large bodies of water. once i understood our history with all of this -- how slaves weren't allowed to learn to swim, for example -- i decided to formally learn in college. now i can swim like a fish.

we are out there, swimming -- and loving it. we have always been out there. we are legion. we are overcoming our phobias, with grace. we are learning how to swim. we have our own swim clubs and swim meets...

Friday, July 01, 2011

swim, swim, swim

nablopomo's theme for july is SWIM - whatever that means. since i could use a distraction from the funeral i attended today, i'll answer today's daily prompt: Where would you love to go swimming?

why, barton springs in the nation's capital, of course!

located in beautiful zilker park, barton springs -- and yes, that includes barton springs pool -- is a thing of wonder. without a doubt, austin texas was one of the prettiest places i knew of, and those natural springs set off every season just right. picture it: sunny days, blue skies, world-class mexican food, the best bbq you've never had, live music everywhere and lots of swimming holes. i couldn't have picked a more perfect place to go to college. but that was then. the austin i knew no longer exists.

with barton springs pool remaining a relatively toasty 70 degrees in the dead of winter, swimming in austin was a year round essential moment to cherish.

we grew up with a swimming pool in the back yard, so i could swim -- but i was lousy at it. wading around and dog pedaling it was good enough until i got to school and watched everyone else take to the deep end of the lake with abandon. i promised myself that i would take lessons and become a strong swimmer and maybe become a lifeguard before i left texas. and i did become a strong swimmer. i worked at it until i could swim and dive comfortably. baywatch knocked the idea of being a lifeguard right out of my head, thankfully. finally, i could enjoy barton springs the way the rest of my friends did, instead of looking nonchalant at the water's edge whilst posing in a vintage one piece swimsuit and nibbling on things.

of course, there was also hippie hollow, the clothing optional situation that everyone knew of and no one frequented. well, just about everyone went there, actually. i imagine that back in teh 70s, everyone was smoking pot and sunning themselves endlessly and whatever. (frackin' hippies!)

austin had such a hippie vibe when i was there. lots of outlaw biker hippies chillin' out all over the place. but that's another conversation...