Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Sermonette

...and now a word from Sister Rosetta Tharpe (and a choir!), performing her iconic song Just Above My Head.  Be blessed!

Friday, September 27, 2013

...and now, a rock 'n roll book review...

Long Time GoneLong Time Gone by David Crosby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

you can learn a lot from biographies/autobiographies. this was no exception.

when it comes to rock and roll excess, who can separate truth from fiction from legend? when i saw the book i thought, cool—i can hear all about it from him. and that’s kind of the way the book goes, except that it augments what he says with what everyone else says: roadies, ex-lovers, business partners, damaged hippie freaks, ex-managers, fellow musicians and everything inbetween. all of that stitched up together gives a fuller picture than him, telling it like he remembers it. more often than not, everyone else reinforces whatever he says, and there’s the co-author with a timeline and photos and other documentation in case anyone goes off track. nice detail all around, especially when things go straight to hell and then get even worse.

there's him in the early days, riding around on a motorcycle wearing a leather cape. his love of/insistence upon three ways and little harems to take care of him. that whole hippie commune mentality, that share everything, with that everybody-in-and-out-of-everybody’s-house at all hours /everybody having sex with each other lifestyle. and him being a dick at any and every given opportunity because he thought he was soooooo great.

i don’t know. i think david crosby has a beautiful voice and he’s written some beautiful songs but after reading this and barney hoskyn’s “waiting for the sun” i think neil young is sooooooo great.

everyone else in rock and roll that does this level of drugs and debauchery for as long as he did dies in a pool of their own vomit. not “the cros”—probably because he got sent to prison for several years, and that’s what ultimately forced him to get clean. i knew some junkies in my day but at one point, just about everyone decided they didn’t want to die and they stopped doing it. somewhere in the 80s (the 80s!) he was looking at his rotting teeth and his swollen ankles and the sores and severe burn marks all over his face and body and he’d cry and feel sorry for himself and then he'd do some more freebase. (yikes-a-doodle-doo.)

sure, he went through hell with gasoline drawers on, but by his own admission, he was the one that bought the ticket for that ride -- triggered in part by his choice to deal with the sudden loss of his then girlfriend christine hinton with heroin instead of therapy.

and this was the guy that melissa etheridge chose to borrow a cup of sperm from to have not one but two kids with her then partner julie cypher? they couldn’t find jeff beck or eric clapton or something?

i don’t smoke and i don’t even do drugs and this book made me want to stop drinking coffee and eating meat and freaking detox whatever funk i had out of my system, just get it off of me. i just wanted to steam and sauna and take three showers and thank Jesus i never tried heroin. or cocaine. or freebase. or crack. or whatever everybody’s gotta be smoking or snorting these days. whatever.

and wow. he and his then girlfriend jan (who was even more strung out than he was) got clean and sober enough to get married and have a kid. i read that and i had to put the book down and when i did, i thought, the human body is a miraculous thing. or as the old black folks down south would say, He’s a wonder-working God.

bizarrely enough, i knew all their songs so well that when any particular ditty were mentioned in the book, i could hear it in my head. and i’ve never owned any of their records. even now, i don’t sit around listening to any of their songs. they were on permanent rotation that hardcore on the radio when i was a kid.

PS: um, yeah. this is kind of a must-read. especially if you’re a musician and you want to half-way know your rock and roll history.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Black Don't Crack, Part One: Yes it does -- if you don't use sunscreen!

There are some who desperately need to believe that the saying black don't crack! is true.  I can't even begin to tell you how many white women have gushed over my skin and told me their age in an effort to get me to tell mine (and of course i don't tell them any such thing) -- all while declaring emphatically that age doesn't matter, and demanding to know my secret: Why does my skin look so good?

After all, there should be a very simple reason as to why none of us are that old -- and yet some of us have way too many wrinkles and some of us don't have any.

The truth is, black really doesn't crack -- but actually, yes it does.

As it turns out, if those with black skin aren't careful, that skin will most definitely cave in on you.  There are a garden variety of relatively young, scabbed over, rachet-faced black drug addicts all over creation that prove my point -- like the gentleman below.

As this picture clearly shows, t doesn't matter how much melanin you have if you don't take care of what you've got. So what's the deal? 

My secret is, there is no secret.  If you want wrinkle free skin, you must eat clean, live clean and find some form of excercise you love and let it wear you out every single day.  That's right: you have to get all -- and I mean ALL -- toxins and carcinogens out of your life and you have to work that body on a daily basis, hard. And that's pretty much it.

Everybody can pull it off when they're young for the most part but after a certain age, I realized that if I wanted to look a certain way, I'd have to work for it.  This commitment to my physical well-being has required a great deal of sacrifice, effort and discipline. Thankfully, my COGIC upbringing gave me a great foundation for clean living. That, combined with the necessary maintenance and upkeep of a performing artist and voila!  Solid results.

And another thing...

Everyone has melanin. It gives your hair and your eyes their color and it protects human beings from the sun's harmful UV rays. The more melanin you have in your skin, the more protection from the sun you get.  If you don't have any and if you need it, your skin will supply it for you. That's basically what a tan is: your skin in panic mode, struggling to create melanin to protect you from the sun.  Believe it or not, a tan is a sign of damaged skin.  The deeper your tan, the more protection you needed in that sun-drenched moment of panic, the more damage you've got. If you're in the George Hamilton camp and enjoy a deep, dark tan year-round, don't be surprised when your skin takes on the look of a well-worn leather handbag before you hit 40.

My first rule of thumb is, I WEAR SUNSCREEN.

The sun causes 90% of skin damage. The other 10% is due to aging. That's right -- skin cancers, fine lines, coarse wrinkles, brown spots, freckles, loss of elasticity, dullness, sallowness, that leathery texture -- all of that comes from sun exposure. Spending time in the sun with no protection from UV rays is just plain toxic. So are tanning beds.  And don't let those fancy skin cream companies fool you.  Once the sun damages your skin, it cannot be undone.

 Yes, you need sunlight to process vitamin D in your body -- but according to experts, only 20 to 30 minutes a day will do the trick.

The best way to prevent sun damage? Sunscreen.  I started wearing sunscreen fastidiously in the oppressive Texas heat as an undergrad in Austin.  Truth is, I was probably the only black girl on campus that did so, and black folk made sure they gave me hell for it.  I didn't care. I knew the benefits and I stuck to my routine.

I still slather it on all the time -- whether it's summer or winter, whether it's sunny outside or completely overcast.

Knowing basic facts about how the sun could age me made me take care of my skin religiously and fight to stay out of the sun. Starting early and being ultra-disciplined about skin care is key. After all, its the human body's largest organ -- and if something is wrong with you, that's usually the place where it shows up. 

The photo on the left displays the subject under normal lighting. The photo on the right is using ultraviolet lighting, revealing subsurface spots and skin damage.

If you haven't seen this picture, take a good long look: A 69-year-old man presented with a 25-year history of gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin on the left side of his face. The physical examination showed hyperkeratosis with accentuated ridging, multiple open comedones, and areas of nodular elastosis... The patient reported that he had driven a delivery truck for 28 years. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis. Chronic UVA exposure can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum, as well as destruction of elastic fibers. This photoaging effect of UVA is contrasted with photocarcinogenesis.

Of course, the other part of this is that I use excellent moisturizers, creams and anti-aging products on my skin that contain plenty of antioxidants. I also eat my antioxidants, too -- and high-octane vitamins.  (More on that in my next post.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Secret (Chinese) Life of Peonies

I'm not ready for fall -- not by a long shot -- but with this image, Banksy makes me want to get ready.  Vomiting flowers is what I do as an artist. I'm fairly convinced that I've got acres upon acres of an English country garden in my creative belly, and everything in me is wanting to spew it all out.

I fell in love with the peony this summer and wore them like crazy.  They make me so happy. I have no idea why. Of course if I put flowers on my head and sing jazz, the whole world swears that I look exactly like Billie Holiday, which is disturbing because quite obviously I don't resemble her at all.  And peonies are not gardenias. (The flowers are actually an homage to The Pointer Sisters, whom I adored when I was a kid.)  As it turns out, I was instinctively reaching for something more.

In Chinese culture, the peony is the flower of spring and is referred to as the king (or queen) of flowers. It was grown for medicinal purposes for 2,000 years (the root is used to cure convulsions, menstrual cramps and asthma, for example) before anyone fell in love with those gigantic blossoms. It's symbolic of nobility -- perhaps because it was popular in imperial palaces in the Sui and Tang dynasties -- and is a metaphor for female beauty.  It always represents elegance and poise. When it is closed, the peony and the ants that labor tirelessly on its behalf (it can't open without them) symbolizes industriousness and optimism.  In full bloom, it symbolizes peace -- and the rewards of hard work.

In Japan, the peony symbolizes wealth, good fortune, honor, daring and masculine bravery.

The Greek translation of peony is "praisegiving" -- and in Europe, the peony is called "the rose without thorns" and symbolizes a happy marriage.

All of what that flower symbolizes encompasses so much of who I am as an artist and as a person.  Stylewise, I'm not so sure I'll ever be able to walk away from them completely...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Sermonette

...and now a word from The Clark Sisters, through their classic number Is My Living In Vain?  Be blessed!

Is my living in vain?
Is my giving in vain?
Is my praying in vain?
Is my fasting in vain?

Am I wasting my time?
Can the clock be rewind?
Have I let my light shine?
Have I made ninety-nine?

No, of course not
It's not all in vain
No, no Lord, no
'Cause up the road is eternal gain

Is my praying in vain?
Is my labor in vain?
Is my singing in vain?
Is my speaking, is it in vain?

Is my playing the organ in vain?
Is my praying in vain?
Is my, is my, is my labor in vain?
Is my singing, singing, singing, in vain?

No, of course not
No, of course not
No, of course not

No, no, no, no, no, no
Of course not
No, no, no, no, no, no
Of course not

It's not all in vain
Up the road is eternal gain

Is my praying in vain?
Is my, is my, is my labor in vain?
Is my singing, singing in vain?
I know I'm speaking in vain

Is my playin' this organ in vain, at the temple
At the cathedral, at all these churches?
Is my praying, my praying, my praying, in vain? Ooh

Is it in vain? Is it in vain?
Is it in vain? Is it in vain?
No it ain't in vain
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

No, no, of course not
No, no, no, no, no, no
No, no, no, no, no, no
Of course not

No, no, no, no, no, no
Of course not
No, no, no, no, no, no
Of course not

It's not all in vain
It's not all in vain
It's not all in vain
It's not all in vain
It's not all in vain
'Cause up the road is eternal gain

Friday, September 20, 2013

Run for your life!

I buy the same size clothes every season. If what I have is doesn't fit anymore, I simply lose weight until they do. That's how I do a diet regimen. For some reason, I have to work harder than ever to get back into all the clothes in my closet these days. I don't care. I'm getting back into my clothes.

 I hate, hate, HATE running -- but I love the way it makes my body look.  I also love to eat -- so there's that.

My goal is to run a 10 minute mile comfortably, and to run at least 5 miles a day. So far, I'm getting my mileage in and I can run that 10 minute mile uncomfortably. It's definitely making me a better pugilist. I'm not faster yet and I don't have enough stamina but I have way more endurance than I did a few months ago.  And believe me, that's progress.

Baby steps.  If I were doing this 8+ hours a day -- like an actor that's training to play a fighter in a movie, for example -- this would be an entirely different conversation. 

The number one reason why I run? Exercise relieves stress.  And believe it or not, stress is almost as much of a factor in the aging process as the sun. Or smoking. When you're stressed out, your body pumps the hormones cortisol (otherwise known as the stress hormone) and norepinephrine (responsible for increasing your heart rate and blood flow, amongst other things) into your bloodstream -- and with that, BOOM! Your blood pressure goes up and your immunity goes down. 

Chronic stress could mean that your body doesn't heal the way it should, your arteries harden and the areas of your brain involving learning, memory and mood shrink drastically.  If you stay stressed, that could lead to depression, obesity, sleep disorders, skin problems, digestive problems and heart disease.  All of that is minimized drastically when you exercise.

Wow. And with that, I just described way too many black people that I know.

There's no real way to get rid of stress completely so clearly, its important to learn how to manage it. You don't have to run -- but for the the sake of your quality of life, please do something.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

the cool list

this is the stuff i think is cool at the moment, in no order whatsoever.
  1. avon naturals chocolate ice cream scrub (this comes in vanilla and strawberry, too) -- if you can find this product, grab it. it's incredible. i can't believe they've discontinued this stuff. thank goodness i stocked up this summer...
  2. seychelles footwear -- beautiful vintage looking heels (because nothing screams amateur like a lovely vintage frock and contemporary shoes), remarkably comfortable to dance in and since i can write them off on my taxes, totally affordable.
  3. my martin ukulele -- probably because playing it is so easy, even i can do it.
  4. -- thanks to neil santos (and yes, a LOT of practice), i'm finally learning how to play guitar. (his book the guitar simplified is pretty dope, too.)   
  5. hot jazz at mona's -- this is the best kept secret in new york city: a slew of traditional/hot jazz players are squeezing themselves into a little bar on avenue b every tuesday (until 4am!) and ripping through some of the best music in the 20th century.  sitting at the bar and letting it wash over you is an absolute blast. sitting in with mona's hot four is kind of epic.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ten things you must give up to move forward.

I'll bet you a dollar and a Twinkie that this stuff isn't anything you haven't heard already.  These are microwave-ready, self-help truisms that are floating around in the miasma of our everyday, ordinary lives, like clouds in the sky. We've all seen them. We all know them. So why isn't everyone doing them?

Everyone grows into or out of whatever it is whenever they're ready, willing and able.  My blazing epiphany of the day happened when I realized I'd crossed all ten of these bridges a long time ago. All of a sudden, I grew up and moved forward. I don't know when that happened -- or how! -- but I'm quite relieved that it did. 

Right. Well! Off I go, to box/play guitar/have tea/run a mile in 10 minutes/get a facial/make cool art -- not necessarily in that order. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Next Gig: Queen Esther sings at Bushwick Burlesque -- TONIGHT, 9/17!

Darlinda Just Darlinda & Scary Ben Present:

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 (Every third Tuesday)

12 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Doors at 8pm / Show at 9pm (NOTE NEW START TIME!)

Tickets Free (Suggested Donation $7)

You read it correctly! We at Bushwick Burlesque are celebrating our 2 year anniversary! In September 2011 we had our very first Bushwick Burlesque show and we haven't stopped! We've laughed, we've cringed, we've felt funny "down there", and mostly we've been ENTERTAINED!! That's right TWO YEARS of unabashed uncensored ULTIMATE Performance Art and Debauchery!!

You won't want to miss this month's celebratory line-up! September brings you many award winning international performers on our bill, just to show you that Bushwick is an international destination and guess what . . .it has been for TWO YEARS!!

Alotta Boutté, Adrienne Truscott (of The WauWau Sisters), Jo "Boobs" Weldon, Perle Noire, James Habacker as Go-Goat Boy, Dixie Ramone, Albadoro Gala, Kitty Bang Bang, Queen Esther, Rush the Sadomasochistic Elastic Indestructible Clown, and Gemma Stone!

Our resident DJ, DJ Johnny Horrible, and of course performing and hosting the show are “The Perverse George and Gracie”; Scary Ben and Darlinda Just Darlinda!!!

As always we offer superbly curated line-ups designed to highlight the fine line of where absurdist art meets entertainment, meant to confound, titillate, excite and bewilder, with hopes of blowing you (our loving audience) away.

Come celebrate the ridiculous, risque, rowdy and raunchy night of BOOBS!! BOOZE!! BALLS!!

(of course we welcome your suggested donation of $7 or more to help us support live art, artists and theater, right here in our neighborhoods!!)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Black Country Gold -- with The Pointer Sisters (and Elvis)!

I can't even begin to tell you how often I sat next to my Uncle Tyrone's stereo in his den as a small child, casually thumbing through his extensive album collection until my fingers happened upon this album and then I stared and stared and stared.  The Pointer Sisters were such a huge watermark for me in so many ways -- for style, for panache, for the way they embodied the past and yet were so much a part of the now.  I must have memorized every nuance that I saw in this picture an effort to absorb just the slightest bit of that elan.  They were as brown as me and they reveled in their blackness in this really deliberate way that was just as powerful and authentic as a well-coiffed Afro and a fist in the air. And I loved them for it.  Actually, I still do.

In my mind's eye, I am the fifth one at that table and they are the sisters I never had.

As the story goes, they couldn't afford designer items for their first album cover and they didn't have a stylist to borrow them, so they raided their mother's attic, wore their grandmother's clothes and came up with something beautiful and timeless.  Sounds exactly like me. When I came to New York City, I had nothing to sing in, so I'd raid Domsey's on a regular basis. Only $5 for a vintage cocktail dress. Ha. Even I could afford that.

This country song -- Fairytale, written by Anita (lyrics) and Bonnie (music) -- is one of my favorites.  It sounds so upbeat and it's full of heartbreak and misery. (Perfect!) Everyone in the industry was genuinely surprised that they wrote this -- except them, of course.  Sure, they grew up in Oakland, California -- but as it turns out, their parents are from Arkansas (!!!) and they've always sung country music.  This wasn't the only country song they recorded, either.

The stats? In 1974, The Pointer Sisters won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Anita and Bonnie were nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Song. And then Elvis covered it the following year. (Ka-BOOM.)

Thank Jesus all of my uncles had really great taste when it came to music.

Here's The Pointer Sisters, singing it live. I just looooove the way they look -- the flowers, the make-up, all of it.  I know stylewise I'm leaning ever so slightly in this direction when I perform. I just can't help it.

...and here's Elvis, singing it in full on drugged out Vegas glitterati pantsuit regalia -- giving it his all.  Interesting, to hear a male voice sing it.  And even though he's kind of out of it, he's still got it. Go, Elvis.


I'll pack up all my things and walk away,
I don't want to hear another word you have to say
I've been waiting for so long,
And just found out there's something wrong
Nothing will get better if I stay
There's no need to explain anymore
I tried my best to love you,
Now I'm walkin' out the door
(Walkin' out the door)
You used me, you deceived me,
And you never seem to need me
But I bet, you won't forget me when I go
Oh no, no, no

Seems I've been lost in a dream
Pretending that you care
But now I've opened up my eyes
And found it's all been just a great big fairytale
I've been lovin' you so long
Don't think I even know how to forget you
But now the way that things have been
I think I'm better off alone than to be with you
You don't love me it's plain to see

There's no need to explain anymore
I tried my best to love you,
Now I'm walkin' out the door
(Walkin' out the door)
Ahh, you used me, you deceived me,
And you never seem to need me
But I'll bet you won't forget me when I go
Oh no, no, no

Seems I've been lost in a dream
Pretending you were mine
Someday you'll open up your eyes
And realize that a good woman's hard to find
Yes I've been lost in a dream
Pretending that you care
But now I've opened up my eyes
And found it's all been just a great big fairytale

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Four Little Girls (and Condi, too)

Fifty years ago today at about 10:22am, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed by four active members of the Klu Klux Klan, an American terrorist organization. Their names were Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry. They belonged to a splinter group of the KKK of about a dozen members called The Cahaba Boys that met every Thursday night near the Cahaba river to drink beer and gripe about ridding the south of Catholics, Jews and black people.  Why did they create a splinter group? Because they didn't feel that the Klan was radical enough. This, at a time when the city of Birmingham was called Bombingham (by us, of course -- because it was happening to us) because since the mid 1940s, so many homes and churches in the African-American community were getting blown up on a regular basis with no federal government intervention whatsoever.  And of course, all of the bombings were officially unsolved cases.

Very few people know that Condoleezza Rice -- the first black woman to serve as the United States' national security adviser, as well as the first black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State (2005 - 2009) -- could very easily have been one of those little girls.

A native of Birmingham, Condi was an only child to a teacher and a Presbyterian minister, both of whom were well-educated in historically black colleges, staunchly middle class and Southern natives, having survived the Great Depression and some of the worst racism this country had to offer.  They both knew the importance of a formal education and constantly stressed this to their child.  Initially home schooled (are you surprised by that one?) Condi's mother went so far as to enroll her in the first grade when she was 3 years old.  She could read music before she could read.

Here's a picture of the future Secretary of State with her mother Angelena, at home in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1950s.

She was 8 years old when her playmate Denise McNair -- 11 years old at the time -- was killed in the bombing.  Denise attended preschool at Condi's father's church, where he was a pastor.  When Condi was 11, her family relocated to another city in Alabama and shortly thereafter, to Denver, Colorado and then finally to Palo Alto, California.  And the rest is history.

I wonder: If those southern white terrorists knew that bombing that church would have caused the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, would they have done it anyway?

Here's a 1997 interview of filmmaker Spike Lee for 4 Little Girls -- his first feature length documentary.  Interestingly, it was an article he read in the New York Times Magazine in 1983 when he was a first year film student at NYU that prompted him to make this movie.  His thoughts about how the movie got made are also very telling.

Documentaries are so important.  These girls would be lost to history books if Mr. Lee hadn't made this one.

A few days ago, the Congressional Gold Medal was given to the families of the four girls -- the highest honor a civilian can receive.  Somehow all of that rings hollow, especially in light of the fact that Carolyn Bryant -- the woman who pointed out Emmett Till to her husband and brother-in-law from the backseat of a sedan  -- is still alive and well at 74 years of age and relaxing comfortably with her loving family in Greenville, Mississippi. She's an accessory to his murder. Why has she never been prosecuted? Why isn't she in jail?

As if on cue, Congressman John Boehner wept openly during that Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.  When they prosecute Carolyn Bryant and many others like her for their crimes against African-Americans during the civil rights movement, I'll believe the sincerity of his tears.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

a quick update

i didn't win in my region for the 2013 mountain stage newsong contest (womp-womp!) but my songs were automatically entered into the general round (the deadline is sunday, september 15th!) and i'm still in the running for the people's choice category. voting will remain open until tuesday, september 17th.

if you'd like to vote for me, please click here. and as always, thank you for your support.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Viva NashVegas!

Crash-landed in this terrarium/bio-sphere the locals call Gaylord Opryland early this morning with MPB for a long weekend.  At 2,800 rooms, this place is the biggest non-casino hotel in the world. Not surprisingly, we needed a color-coded map to find our room.

I could live here forever.

This whole place is covered by a gigantic dome and filled with tropical plants, exotic flowers, waterfalls -- and undulating rivulets and ponds and eddys, oh my! filled with beautiful gigantic koi.  -- Everything a modern blackgrrl like me needs is here: elegant restaurants, indoor/outdoor swimming pools with huge whirlpools, a world-class spa with steam/sauna, bars, cafes, eateries, a conservatory garden, water that lights up and dances and whatnot...

I just wandered into the wrong end of this place and ended up on a little bridge on Delta Island (yeah, they have an island), watching a boatload of folks appear from underneath me and slowly drift down a river filled with enormous happy catfish -- snapping pictures with their iTablets, sipping cocktails and chatting in dulcet tones.

Its like I came to Nashville and ended up in Costa Rica.  Sort of.

MPB will be at the comic con in the convention center. I'll be hammering out new ideas, working on running a 10 minute mile consistently (God help me), working on new songs and writing my butt off.  I should go sightseeing but I kind of don't want to leave here. I think I've fallen in love with this place.

Oh, I almost forgot. Happy Friday the 13th!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I voted already. Did you?

I went to a local elementary school with MPB a few blocks from home and voted this morning. I didn't have to show any ID whatsoever.  I signed where indicated, took a numbered card, and then I gave that card to a volunteer before I stepped into a booth, pulled a lever and did my civic duty.  We got there so early, we were actually the 8th and 9th voters for the day. Huzzah!

I can't even begin to imagine what we as a people had to endure as we as newly freed former slaves were systematically disenfranchised from every aspect of society, including the voting process.  Tens of thousands of honest, hard-working, tax-paying Americans lost their lives to the brutality of home grown terrorism run amok, simply because they wanted to exercise their right to vote -- while the federal government looked the other way. The Voter ID Laws -- now active in 30 states -- shouldn't surprise anyone that's paying attention.

Was any of that 2012 voter fraud information real? No, it wasn't.  (Surprise!)

Here's your challenge for the day:  can you can pass the voter's test that the state of Louisiana gave to African-Americans in the 1960s? If you'd like to try, please click here.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Butterflies = Love? Think again...!

If your special someone gives you butterflies, that means your body is having a "fight-or-flight" response.  As it turns out, you have a second brain in your stomach, which is why you should probably pay more attention to your gut feelings.  Those butterflies are a reaction to a perceived threat. Yes, that's right: what you're really feeling is stress. If this stress persists, you're supposed to seek medical attention. (Heh.)

I recently accused a male friend of pursuing relationships that gave him butterflies because he was addicted to the ongoing adrenaline rush and the way the "just right" girl always seemed to freak him out without her having to do anything at all.  He disagreed, of course.  "I'm in love!" he insisted. (Uh-huh.)

A shrink I know put it another way: butterflies = fear. You're either afraid of that person, afraid of what you're feeling for that person or afraid of losing them.  And remember, folks: fear is the opposite of love.

Something to think about, the next time you stop seeing someone because they don't give you that fluttery feeling in your stomach.

Oh, nevermind.

Here's Michael Jackson's take on the subject.

All you gotta do is just walk away and pass me by
Don’t acknowledge my smile when I try to say hello to you, yeah
And all you gotta do is not answer my calls when
I’m trying to get through
To keep me wondering why, when all I can do is sigh
I just wanna touch you

I just wanna touch and kiss
And I wish that I could be with you tonight
You give me butterflies inside, inside and i

All I gotta say is that I must be dreaming, can’t be real
You’re not here with me, still I can feel you near me
I caress you, let you taste us, just so blissful listen
I would give you anything baby, just make my dreams come true
Oh baby you give me butterflies

I just wanna touch and kiss
And I wish that I could be with you tonight
You give me butterflies inside, inside and i
I just wanna touch and kiss
And I wish that I could be with you tonight
You give me butterflies inside, inside and i

If you would take my hand, baby I would show you
Guide you to the light babe
If you would be my love, baby I will love you, love you
’til the end of time

I just wanna touch and kiss
And I wish that I could be with you tonight
You give me butterflies inside, inside and i
I just wanna touch and kiss
And I wish that I could be with you tonight
You give me butterflies inside, inside and i
I just wanna touch and kiss
And I wish that I could be with you tonight
You give me butterflies inside, inside and i 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Work With What You Got

I saw this Canadian movie Goon last night and totally I loved it.  I tripped up over it on The Movie Channel (which is pretty spot-on, most of the time).  Or maybe I loved Seann William Scott and what a brawler he was. And ditto for Liev Schreiber.  Jay Baruchel -- who played the hockey-obsessed best friend -- co-wrote it.  Not surprisingly, it's based on a true story about Doug "The Hammer" Smith. I don't know what's cooler -- the tale of his life run amok or the story of how the movie got made.  Filmmaking is so convoluted sometimes that it's amazing any big budget projects get made at all.

Goon vaguely reminded me of that Paul Newman movie Slap Shot, which is still hilarious.

Here's a compilation of Doug Smith's career in hockey.  Some of it is actually kind of breathtaking.  It's hard enough for me to throw a left hook with my feet planted on the ground. I can't even imagine trying to pull that off in ice skates.  Why was I not surprised when they revealed at the end of the film that he's a police officer now?

Oh -- and this poppy little ditty was all over the end credits. Who in the world is Socalled and why havent I heard of him before?

That rapper should sound really familiar -- it's Roxanne Shante!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Future Gratitude

Here's the top ten things I did today that the future me feels truly grateful. (The truth is, I do most of this stuff every day.)
  1. I did my morning pages. I don't know why/how that sets everything right creatively but it does.
  2. I used exceptional products on my skin, as usual. I've been borderline obsessive about my skin since college and the payoff has been nothing short of immeasurable. More on that later.
  3. I used plenty of excellent sunscreen.
  4. I used exceptional products on my hair -- an argan oil 7-in-1 leave-in conditioner, to be specific -- which is growing like crazy.  (Gotta love Curlbox.)
  5. I gobbled down my daily supplements: biotin, collagen, calcium and a powerhouse 
  6. I didn't eat any garbage.
  7. I pulled out my guitar and wrote a pretty cool rock and roll song.
  8. I had a great consultation with my periodontist. After two years of x-rays, cleanings, implants and bone graftings, Invisalign, here I come! (Finally.)
  9. I put in ten miles on my bike. I know that doesn't sound like much but it's way more than the mileage I would have clocked from my couch.
  10. I worked on rewrites.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Truth be told...

I can honestly say that a big part of the reason why my life is so scrumtrulescent right now is because there are certain people that aren't in it anymore.  No wonder I'm finally losing my "happy" weight.  Interestingly, the apartment is less cluttered and more organized. There's no drama, no strife, no games, no manipulation, no gossip, no contention, no funk whatsoever.  My parents no longer call me every other week to inform me in no uncertain terms that I'm wasting my life and what I'm doing is garbage.  (And yeah -- not getting those phone calls in the middle of the night still feels weird.)

I love my permanent boyfriend. I love my guitars. I love to make cool art. The lack of stress feels light and breezy, like a new kind of permanent inner tropical vacation. Wheeee!

My only real regret is that it took so long to get here.  And that's nobody's fault but mine.

Now when stuff tips over and goes left, I relinquish it without a second thought, no matter what it is.  The less I struggle to hold onto whatever it is, the smoother things go, the better everything gets, the happier I am, the more joy overwhelms me.

I'm still stuck on getting a right cross that's stronger than my left jab.  I'm still figuring out how to play my own songs on guitar with conviction.  I'm still trying to make the perfect hair butter. I am still learning how to sing.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My Big Iron Skillet

I cover this song on my next album. Am I unleashing my inner feminist or what. 


My Big Iron Skillet

You out doing wrong again it's plain for all to see
And you think that here at home is where I ought to be
There's gonna be some changes made when you get home tonight
Cause I'm gonna teach you wrong from right

With my big iron skillet in my hand
I'm gonna show you how a little woman can whup a great big man
If you live through the fight we're gonna have when you get home
You'll wake up and find yourself alone

You say you're sick and tired of me and that I look a mess
But it's never dawned on you this is my only dress
I have never met a man who's quite the likes of you
I don't know why I ever said I do

With my big iron skillet in my hand
I'm gonna show you how a little woman can whup a great big man
If you live through the fight we're gonna have when you get home
You'll wake up and find yourself alone

With my big iron skillet in my hand
I'm gonna show you how a little woman can whup a great big man
If you live through the fight we're gonna have when you get home
You'll wake up and find yourself alone

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Silver lining

I'm running around in whatever sunlight I can find, letting creativity flow out of me however it wants -- practicing guitar, working on rewrites and listening to hot jazz to keep warm.  Disappearing into museums and drifting around and bouncing ideas in my head is a necessity.  Morning pages are essential. Making good use of my library card is an absolute must. I"m getting obsessed with boxing all over again.  My body is starting to wake up. More oral surgery means more drugs. Silver lining.

The other day, I made the most perfect upside-down cake and I was so happy, I quite literally jumped for joy. What's up with that?

Monday, September 02, 2013

happy labor day

all of a sudden, it's not summer anymore. there was this cold snap and it rattled the sunshine and the warmth out of everything and then it rained a lot and that was that. it's pretty soggy outside now.  not that rain is going to keep anyone in my neighborhood from barbecuing on the sidewalk.

hello, fall.

i'm inbetween decisions, bouncing ideas around, up to my neck in rewrites and, as usual, i'm running with scissors.  i feel quite fortunate because songs are still coming at me -- fully formed, full of feeling, insistent -- and i'm full of resolve to finish what i've started, namely self-releasing my next album, getting my musical the billie holiday project developed and produced and making a short film idea a reality. 

in the meantime, i'm doing a severe amount of spring cleaning and throwing things away with strategic abandon. God. i am such a hoarder. something has to snap me out of it or so help me Jesus, i'll end up like one of those old ladies that's buried alive in a houseful of clothes, useless expensive piffle and of course garbage.

i've returned to boxing with an absolute vengeance -- because nothing annoys me more than not being able to fit into my clothes every season.  and besides, i think i'm actually getting good at it.

ok. gotta go.  time for that daily five mile run that's supposed to give me the endurance i need to not collapse from exhaustion when i really throw myself into a boxing conditioning session.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Happy Sunday!

This song -- Blind Willie Johnson's God Don't Never Change -- was one that I'd sing a lot when I first came to New York City.  Now I'm relearning it and incorporating it into what's next.

More and more, I'm embracing the sounds of my childhood. I can't even begin to imagine where this will end up but I'm enjoying the sonic regression.