Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Bucket List 2014 -- The Harlem Edition

Sure, I made a list like this last year but it wasn't comprehensive enough -- and it was way too generic.  Maybe this one is way too personal. No need for candy apples of any kind (I won't jeopardize my dental work!) or football (I'm only remotely interested...) or haunted houses (in other parts of the country, they're really haunted!) or hayrides, which aren't as fun as you might think.

The list above is for a suburban midwesterner.  This list isn't specific to Harlem, per se -- but I am, more or less. This neighborhood's ongoing tide of gentrification makes me feel like even more of an outsider than I did when I got here. If you're in New York City and if you're as geeky and curious and insatiable as I am, and if you're not interested in going where everyone else boldly goes, this list is definitely for you.
  1. The New York Comic Con -- October 9 - 12 at the Javits Center! That's right, kids -- I'm going to the nerd prom. Wheeeeee!
  2. Exhibit #1: See Prune Nourry's Terracotta Daughters at FIAFFrom the website: An army of young girls assembles in the first U.S. showing of Terracotta Daughters, a monumental exhibition of 108 life-sized and individually crafted clay sculptures that recall China’s famous Terracotta Warriors.
  3. Sample the fall menu at The CecilI will miss the Frogmore Stew but I am very much looking forward to the bold, inventive additions to the dim sum menu and yes, their African/Asian take on roast duck.
  4. Do a 30 day cleanse. This time around, I'm doing The Clean Program for at least 21 days, I'll be incorporating a 7 day cleanse initially and I'll be working out. Yep -- I'm going to be a lot of fun in October.
  5. Go to a drive-in movie!  Click here for a list of five movie theaters that are less than a 2 hour drive from New York City.  I'll make a picnic basket and maybe we'll catch a double feature...!
  6. Go to The Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla -- October 26th, 3:30pm - 6:30pm This is way more fun than wandering through a pumpkin patch. It's a family-friendly, beautiful and yes, free annual event, sponsored by the Central Park Conservancy and it features music, arts and crafts, and glowing pumpkins, floating across the water at sundown.
  7. Exhibit #2: See Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion at the New York Historical Society. From the website: ...explores the centuries-long history of trade and immigration between China and the United States—a history that involved New York from its very beginnings—and will raise the question “What does it mean to be an American?” The exhibit narrative extends from the late eighteenth century to the present and includes all regions of the country, thus interpreting the Chinese American saga as a key part of American history.
  8. The Apollo Theater Presents Apollo Uptown Hall: The Harlem/South Africa Connection -- October 12th, 3pm. This panel discussion will feature Harry Belafonte, former Mayor David Dinkins and other notable speakers/activists. And yep, it's free.
  9. Exhibit #3: The Matisse Cut-outs You're welcome.
  10. Wine Tasting Series in The Balcony Lounge at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This happens on the first weekend of every month.  And MPB says it's delicious. I have a serious thing for this lounge, anyway -- mostly because they have wifi and they let me stay for as long as I want.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

That climate change march, though...

The largest climate march in history happened this week, with 2,808 events in 166 countries --  some guesstimate that well over 400, 000 people took to the streets in New York City alone -- and it was virtually ignored by every major news outlet in this country.  And then the next day, like a proper right cross that should follow any decent left hook, Flood Wall Street happened.

 Here's what they refused to show you. 

Sunday's People's Climate March

Monday's Flood Wall Street

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

National Voter Registration Day - September 23rd

I considered registering to vote to be a part of an important rite of passage and because of the stories my Southern, Depression-era father somberly told whenever the mood struck him, I took the entire process a little too seriously.  I knew it was a drop in the bucket of electoral votes but I wanted to believe that my drop somehow mattered, that I mattered.  I wanted to be a part of the process. I didn't think I had any right to bitch about the system if I didn't vote.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that for the powers that be to fight this hard to disenfranchise so many, voting must count for something.  This is the epitome of institutional racism: that the white people who are in power would create laws that would make it as difficult as possible for the poor, the marginalized and people who are of color to vote.  Every state is its own little kingdom, creating its own set of hoops and hurdles that everyone must unravel and traverse.  It's extremely difficult have a voter registration drive in Texas.  I have to show a birth certificate to register to vote in Kansas.  If I lose my house in Florida -- and let's face it, everyone is losing their house in Florida! -- I lose my right to vote. Lots of people -- the elderly, for example -- don't have government issued photo IDs or a driver's license.  And if I'm an ex-felon that's paid my debt to society and if I'm in Iowa, I am permanently disenfranchised.  Is it a surprise that only 70% of those who are eligible have  registered?

As an African-American that's two generations removed from slavery, I'm not big on state's rights.  As far as I'm concerned, this is the part where the federal government should step in and regulate most of this stuff -- and that's not bloodly likely. 

They're making it hard for us. Don't make it easy for them.  Know your rights. Register to vote.  And then, yes -- vote.

To register to vote online, click here.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: "How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired" by Dany Laferriere

How To Make Love To A NegroHow To Make Love To A Negro by Dany Laferrière

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Making love to a Negro isn't frightening; sleeping with him is. Sleep is complete surrender. It's more than nude; it's naked. Anything can happen during the night, when reason sleeps.” - Dany Laferriere, How To Make Love To A Negro

the complete title of this book is how to make love to a negro without getting tired. apparently the combination of black men and white women bonking is fairly combustible subject matter the world over -- even canada's montreal, a place that constantly reassures us is free of racial tension/problems. mr. laferriere is well aware of all of this and works every bit of it to the hilt. what's interesting is the way he delves into why interracial relationships with white women are such a threat to white men. this book -- his first novel! -- is white hot brilliant and just as fresh and relevant as when it was published in 1985. this stuff is free-wheeling and provocative and it just pops right off the page.

i love the way he and his african roommate discuss classical literature and philosophy and art and sex and food and life, the way he dissects a coltrane solo while going off on some stream of consciousness rant about rich white people and how bizarre it is to wander through their mansions when they aren't there and have violent dispassionate sex with their seemingly chaste daughters, the way he listens to big band jazz and vocalists like ella fitzgerald as his thoughts slide between communism, the last white girl he had and how wierd she was, and marinating a pigeon he killed in the park for that week's last summer day because he's so perpetually broke. heh.

so much of this reads like stream-of-consciousness prose -- smart, insightful, bitter, and very very funny. it spun out so easily, like i fell into his private thoughts, and he let me stay there for as long as i wanted. because i read/heard/knew most if not all of what he referenced, the book became almost four dimensional and i enjoyed it even more. not surprisingly, there were critics who assumed a black man DIDN'T write it, because he would have to be a certain kind of literate/well read/educated to have referenced the things he did.

all in all, a really good read.

ps: if you want another kick in this direction, i highly recommend "heading south," (written by dany l.) set in the 70s about older white female tourists who go to the beaches of haiti to be sexually serviced by beautiful young boys.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Sermonette: Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers - "Touch The Hem Of His Garment"

As the story goes, this legendary group were in the studio finishing an album and one more song was needed, so Sam Cooke asked for a Bible, it fell open to this verse and he wrote this song on the spot.  And the rest is history.

Listen in and be blessed.

Oh, there was a woman in the Bible days,
she had been sick, sick so very long
but she heard about Jesus was passing by,
so she joined the gathering throng
and while she was pushing her way through,
someone ask her: 'What are you trying to do?'

She said:
'if I could just touch the hem of His garment
I know I'll be made whole'

She cried:
'Oh Lord, Oh Lord and Oh Lord, Oh Lord'
Said :
'if I could just touch the hem of His garment
I know I'll be made whole'

Oh, She spent her money here and there
until she had no, had no more to spare,
the doctors, they'd done all they could
but their medicine would do no good.
When she touched Him The Saviour didn't see
but still He turned around and cried
'Somebody touched me'

She said:
'It was I who just wanna touch the hem of Your garment,
I know I'll be made whole right now'

She stood there crying:
'Oh Lord, Oh Lord and Oh Lord, Oh Lord'

'If I could just touch the hem of His garment,
I know I'll made whole right now' 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quote of the Day: "I'm not watching all-white movies anymore."

"When you do the math it just doesn’t add up.  A movie costs about $13.75. Plus parking and snacks.  On average, I’m spending about $25 every time I go see a movie.  I usually see a movie at least 4 times a month.  That’s $100 a month.  Multiply that by 12 months and I’m spending $1200 a year on movies alone.  That’s rent money.

I’m wasting rent money on these films that purposefully exclude me.  Why would I do that?  That’s completely insane.  

If I took that $1200 every year and put it in my savings account I could invest in my own original content.  I wish I’d thought of doing this years ago.  I’d probably be directing a feature film by now.  But as they say, there’s no time like the present."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Book Review: "The 50th Law" by 50 Cent and Robert Greene

The 50th LawThe 50th Law by 50 Cent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

i don't like 50 cent. i never have and i probably never will, in spite of the way he's recently cleaned up his image and repackaged himself to mainstream/middle (white) america, readying all of us for his next incarnation. he's not stupid. he knows that his gangsta rap moment has played itself out and it's time to move onto the next -- probably acting (he's getting his tatoos removed for this purpose) and producing. there's an astonishing amount of money in film/tv, no matter which side of the camera you're on. truthfully, he's become more of a businessman and haberdasher, like most of his ilk who are successful -- with a line of clothing, vitamin water and whatever else makes him more money, all the while maintaining a menacing dangerous image to validate his brand.

and therein lies the problem.

it started out with its heart in the right place, as a way to report what the black urban underclass was experiencing, something that the rest of america was blissfully unaware of. but eventually, when hip/hop and rap saw the money, it branded and sold itself to the highest bidder in the name of multiculturalism and opportunity. now it's pretty much a black-faced caricature of itself. the thug posturing and posing that's supposed to represent all black american men of a certain age. the idea that bitch=(black) women. the casual/liberal use of the "n" word. and many more things that have fostered a climate in our culture that's perpetuated almost as many stereotypes about black people to the world as stepin fetchit, arguably.  all for the sake of money, material things, and beef/"reputation" (whatever that is).

i hope it was worth it.

so i was thinking all of these things and more as i read this book. i read it because a friend suggested it and admittedly, i am a huge fan of Robert Greene. i've read pretty much all of his books and i think he gives an interesting and thought-provoking take on media, power and societial dynamics. this book is basically mr. greene taking on the idea of fear, the 50th law, and using 50 cent's life story and personal philosophy to augment and illustrate his intent. mr. greene didn't take this lightly. he followed 50 cent for years and was a fly on the wall in his life in and out of boardrooms, heady confrontations and power moves. he did his homework, and it shows.

it's a provocative premise. curtis "50 cent" jackson is probably the only gangsta rapper out here that was actually a gangster in real life and not a wangsta, someone that cultivated that image to make money. rick ross (the boss), for example, was a corrections officer in florida for years -- and in spite of him insisting that it's not true, there are pictures and paperwork to prove it.

we've all heard tell of what it takes to be a gangster. why not hear it from the source?

this is what makes the book a fascinating read. it delves into the details of mr. jackson's life as a drug dealer in queens and his rise as a gangsta rapper to pull up details that augment this idea: all of us have the capacity to live a fearless life, and to live life to the fullest, and to live to the fullest of our potential, we must find a way to eliminate that fear by any means necessary.

apparently, curtis has come a long way. it's no surprise that what he has observed by working for gangsters initially and usurping them to create his own power base has come in handy when doing business in the corporate world and the entertainment industry. what i find interesting -- and yes, hilarious -- is the way mr. jackson will drag any rapper (rick ross), any dalliance (vivica fox), any former friendship ( floyd mayweather) through the media muck with unbridled glee, ridiculing and humiliating them all the way. yet he has carefully refrained from even so much as mentioning his brief relationship with ms. chelsea handler. ironically, he has done this out of fear, i imagine. at least that's what the look on his face says whenever her name is mentioned. ms. handler takes no prisoners.

i don't want to get into too much detail. it's a very juicy read and in the end it didn't tell me anything that i didn't already know about fear and how it can undo you. but i must admit, mr. greene found a very interesting way to tell it.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Sermonette: Edwin Hawkins and The Edwin Hawkins Singers -- "I Believe"

This song -- commissioned by pre-war singer/actress Jane Froman in 1953 for her tv show The Jane Froman Show as a response to the Korean War -- was the first hit song ever introduced on television. She said wanted to give people hope.  I don't know if it worked but it's a popular and enduring song that transcends genres.  Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- has covered it, from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra to Mahalia Jackson to Dolly Parton. 

Interestingly, Ms. Froman -- an educated Midwesterner (from Columbia, Missouri), a classically trained vocalist (Cincinnati Conservatory of Music), a genuine Hollywood movie star and a chronic stutterer  -- has not one but three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I've heard this song before, quite a lot. I don't like it or dislike it.  It's just there, like pleasant aural wallpaper.  Kinda pre-hippyish in this deliberate way that's so sincere, it's not schmaltzy at all. 

It's like that song Misty: You know it even if you think you don't know it. You don't quite know how you know it or when you learned it. It's just there, stuck in your head, like an earworm you carried into the world at birth.

What better gospel choir to do this song justice than the iconic Edwin Hawkins Singers?

Listen in and be blessed.
I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows,
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows,
I believe for everyone who goes astray,
Someone will come to show the way,
I believe, I believe.

I believe above the storm a smallest prayer
Will still be heard,
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word,
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
Or touch a leaf, or see the sky,
Then I know why,
I believe.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
Or touch a leaf, or see the sky,
Then I know why,
I believe.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Quote of the Day -- from Ta-Nehisi Coates, on Mike Brown

And if Michael Brown was not angelic, I was practically demonic. I had my first drink when I was 11. I once brawled in the cafeteria after getting hit in the head with a steel trash can. In my junior year I failed five out of seven classes. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been arrested for assaulting a teacher and been kicked out of school (twice.) And yet no one who knew me thought I had the least bit of thug in me. That is because I also read a lot of books, loved my Commodore 64, and ghostwrote love notes for my friends. In other words, I was a human being. A large number of American teenagers live exactly like Michael Brown. Very few of them are shot in the head and left to bake on the pavement.” 

                         —  Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

That brother in last night's Ferguson City Council meeting, though...

Say what you will about what may or may not have happened a month and a day ago in Ferguson, Missouri -- one thing is frightfully clear, to anyone that's actually paying attention to any of this: there is NO going back to the way things used to be.

Just look at this brother right here at last night's city council meeting.  He is on fire. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Mike Brown -- One Month Later

One month ago in a place that hardly anyone had ever heard of,  police officer Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown multiple times at close range in broad daylight -- and then proceeded to blow his brains out.  According to several eyewitnesses, Mike Brown -- a college-bound high school graduate -- had both of his hands up when he was murdered. Officer Wilson never called in to report the shooting and he never called for an ambulance. Mike Brown's body laid in the street where he fell for more than 4 hours. Eventually, an unmarked black SUV came and took his body away.

At this juncture, I should probably tell you that the population of Ferguson (a suburb of St. Louis) is about 21,000 and 70% black. Out of 53 cops, only 3 are black. The mayor and five of the six city council members are white.  Ticketing, arresting and otherwise harassing black folk is big business for Ferguson. More on that some other time.

Let's be clear: Officer Wilson never called in to report the shooting because they turned it over to St. Louis county police almost immediately.  Oh, but that didn't stop them from turning over an incident report and video in which Mike Brown is allegedly guilty of stealing cigars.  (Nevermind Fox News and their idiocy. Cue Kevin Sorbo and his racist rant about Ferguson.) Interestingly, the store didn't call the cops -- a customer did.

Watch your back, black folk: customers can get you killed. Just ask John Crawford -- a few days before Mike Brown's murder, he was shot 10 times while holding a toy gun in Wal-Mart as he chatted on the phone with his girlfriend, who was in another section of the store.  Ronald Ritchie, an ex-Marine (that's not true), called 911 while his wife April (who had a broken ankle and was on the phone with her mother) trailed behind Mr. Crawford in a Wal-Mart scooter at what she described as a "safe distance", waving people away from him.  No one else in the store was alarmed by Mr. Crawford. A month later, Ronald Ritchie completely changed his story.

The kicker is that Ohio is a right to carry state.  That means you can openly carry a firearm in public.

Right about now, the attorney general of Ohio is hoping that this case goes away so no one's career gets tanked and those cops and yes, you too,  Mr. Ritchie -- because this is all your fault -- don't get sued into oblivion and see some serious jail time for murder.  As far as I'm concerned, the rest of his natural life wouldn't be long enough.

But I digress.

Cops arrived on the scene that afternoon with assault rifles because angry residents refused to disperse, and wanted answers.  That's when everything went beserk and suddenly, Ferguson was on full blast. Twitter was on fire with moment to moment updates as everything unraveled, from photos of German shepherds attacking black folk to a militarized police presence to the barricade that ultimately shut the police out of the neighborhood after the cops deliberately destroyed Mike Brown's memorial. And that was the first day.

Officer Wilson was secreted away immediately and his identity was withheld by the Ferguson police department for almost a week. Apparently, this was long enough for him to erase any unsavory tidbits on his social media and hide with his family in "a safe place" -- with pay and benefits, of course. 

What's the upshot?
  1. The Ferguson Police Department is facing a federal civil rights investigation, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.  And what they've found so far is pretty disturbing.
  2. The Ferguson City Council (which met for the first time today since Mike Brown's murder) is assembling their first ever police department review board.
  3. Black folk in Ferguson have been holding a slew of voter registration rallies.
Know justice, know peace.

Oh -- and about that Ferguson City Council meeting...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Sermonette: Le'Andria Johnson's Auditon for Sunday Best

When Le'Andria Johnson showed up from Orlando, Florida to audition for BET's reality tv show Sunday Best, she was already a seasoned performer, producer and a singer-songwriter. She had led the prayer and praise worship in her father's church for years and had been singing since she was 2 years old. She was also twice divorced with 3 children and had just lost her house to foreclosure.  Jump cut to the end of the story: not only does she win season three, the 7 song album they quickly release debuts at number one on the gospel chart and her life is nothing but roses.

Of course, another hit album, a Grammy and plenty of scandal quickly followed -- but it's interesting to see the moment when the world discovered her, and to watch everything change and shift at the judges' table just as soon as she opened her mouth.

I love this woman's voice.

Some people think that this is what's supposed to happen when you sing gospel music, that you are supposed to let God move through you and sing from your soul.  I think this is what's supposed to happen when you sing anything.  Or what's the point?

Here it is, Le'Andria's audition tape. Listen in and be blessed.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Cartoon Saturdays -- Bugs Bunny: Hillbilly Hare

Because it's really not Saturday morning unless I'm watching Bugs Bunny in my underwear -- and because I'm such a generous and benevolent monarch (heh.) -- I thought I'd post this little gem for your cultural edification/amusement/etc.  And you can sing along and everything! Wheeee!

I'm going to serve up a weekly heaping helping of Chuck Jones to the world any Saturday it strikes my fancy.  God, I love him.  How sad am I that we never met.

This stuff will never get old.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Joan Rivers, we hardly knew you...

Love her or hate her, one thing is certain: Joan Rivers -- a first generation Russian Jew from Brooklyn -- was a trailblazer and a genuine powerhouse that became a hit on The Tonight Show at 32 and never stopped working.  Some performers hope for a victory lap in their old age -- a gig that allows them to step out into the spotlight and shine once more before they leave this world. Elaine Stritch had a wonderful victory lap. So did Alberta Hunter and Eartha Kitt.  Joan Rivers, on the other hand, was sprinting around the track of life and when she checked out of here, her career was on fire.  At the time of her passing, she had a reality tv show, a ridiculously popular youtube show (In Bed with Joan!) and a fashion talk show on E!  Nevermind her stand up comedy appearances, her must-see red carpet interviews for the Golden Globes and the Oscars, and all that  jewelry she was selling -- of her own design! -- on QVC.  She wasn't just working. She was culturally relevant. That's a formidable accomplishment.

She finished at Barnard College with a major in English Literature and anthropology -- which seems ideal, in retrospect. She's one of the few comedians that actually wrote her own material.  Actually, she wrote 12 books (!!!) and released several comedy albums. She didn't win every award out there but she was nominated for a Tony, a Grammy and won an Emmy in 1990 for her daytime talk show.  And she's the first woman to host her own late night talk show on network television.  Think about it: how many women have they allowed to take that coveted late night seat, to even co-host?  Can you name three? Unless I'm seriously missing something, Joan Rivers is the only one I can think of.

After a certain point, I made a point of ingesting as many biographies, autobiographies, documentaries and Behind The Music episodes that I could. Everyone's trajectory is so revealing and important, and teaches so many lessons about what not to do and how this business really works. A part of it is a history lesson but what I look for is the cautionary tale that's inherent in just about all of them. The documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is essential must-see viewing for any performer.  It's a glimpse into her work ethic and the anatomy of the machine that she built to propel her business of show forward.  And somewhere in there is the Joan that hardly anyone ever thought they knew.

Godspeed, Joan Rivers. What a fantastic life you had.  Long may you run.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How To Deal With The Police -- A Cheat Sheet

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. ” -- James Baldwin

I have been stopped by the police on numerous occasions for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  Usually they back off when they realize I'm not the black woman they were looking for. Or expecting. Or something. Jedi mind tricks don't always work, though. The last time this happened to me was in the subway at Times Square awhile ago. I had walked through an open exit door with a herd of midwestern tourists at rush hour because the turnstiles were faulty.  I was repeatedly told that the condition of the turnstiles didn't matter. What I did was wrong. None of those tourists were detained, of course.  When I pointed this out, they ignored me. 

The first thing they did was put my name in the system.  The disappointment they felt when nothing came up was nearly tangible.  They gave me a summons, anyway -- with the hope that I'd pay the fine and be done with it. Problem is, I refused to pay the fine and I wanted the whole thing expunged. I contested it and spent the next 6 months unraveling gobs of red tape in one Waiting for Godot take-a-number-and-wait situation after another until finally a random person behind a desk turns off the tape recorder in the middle of The Interview That Settled This Whole Thing and tells me off the record that I was right, the cops were wrong and they were probably hoping I wouldn't follow through so I'd be in the system. That's the kicker: if my name came up at all in the system, that would have meant that the cops could cuff me and take me downtown immediately -- no questions asked.

Apparently, once you're in the system, you're screwed.

Any cop that stops me had better have a bloody fantastic reason for doing so because if he doesn't, I will roast him whole. Here's my super-short list of what you should know if they stop you:
  1. If the police stop you in New York, you don't have to show them your ID -- unless you're driving.
  2. If you're being detained by a cop, he can't hold you for more than 20 minutes and he can't search through your stuff.
  3. You can film the police as long as you don't interfere with what they're doing. And yes, EVERYONE should film the police. 

I'm fairly certain that Marlene Pinnock is grateful to David Diaz for shooting the video of that California Highway Patrol officer straddling her MMA style and pounding her in the face with his fists. Even Fox News couldn't justify this one -- and you know they tried. I hope they sue that cop into oblivion. Or at least an early retirement.

Monday, September 01, 2014

September's NaBloPoMo: Healing

What does healing mean, exactly? Is it all interconnected -- mind, body, spirit -- or can one experience a profound healing in one area of one's life and complete rot in another one? Is it perpetual? Can someone's body be overwhelmed in the process of healing and wear itself out in the process? Is there ever a moment when I can declare that I am truly healed in every way imaginable?  Won't I be like Sisyphus, constantly striving and ever reaching for healing of some sort but never quite getting there?

I don't drink alcohol, I don't smoke cigarettes -- or anything else for that matter. I stay out of the sun and I'm so Howard Hughes obsessive about my skin, I wear sunblock in the shade.  I definitely don't do drugs recreationally. I don't do these things for fairly obvious reasons, of course. I make sure that I drink this green stuff for breakfast habitually and I pop these vitamins after every meal.  I am making it my business to physically exhaust myself on a daily basis with boxing, bikram yoga, pilates and anything else I can stand,  to get my body back and keep it once it gets here. And as if all of that weren't enough, I usually eat clean. Yet in spite of my best efforts, there are moments when I can feel my body struggling against whatever modern day toxins the world is inflicting upon me at random. And I sometimes wonder how any of it is affecting the rest of me...