Sunday, May 22, 2005

...sing, sing, sing...

...sing, sing, sing...
Originally uploaded by the queen esther.
this is me, singing with jc hopkins' biggish band at the slipper room on friday april 29, as photographed by tracey's friend suzann. as usual, it was a fun night.

by the way, i have about a hundred denim dresses. this one is #32.

Friday, May 20, 2005

they got "the riddler"!

frank gorshin, who played "the riddler" on batman better than anyone else back in the day, is dead at 72 of lung cancer. i totally loved him. he was a mainstay on the mike douglas show when i was a little kid, doing impersonations of absolutely everyone in hollywood that mattered. the other one that was big on impersonations back then was jonathan winters. robin williams took a lot from him. nowadays comics occasionally attempt to do things like that, but there isn't an army of rich littles wandering the earth, cracking people up at random. i think richard pryor was the one who changed all that.

i think it's nice that he was married to the same woman for 48 years.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

lou gehrig is the pride of east harlem!

who doesn't love lou gehrig? what i didn't know is that while they'll tell you that he was born in new york city of german immigrant parents (and maybe they'll even go so far as to say that he's from upper manhattan, which is a nice way of saying the obvious), no one will say that he's from east harlem -- 1994 2nd Avenue, to be exact. by my guesstimation, that's right about at e. 116th street. they dedicated a plaque there the other day in a lovely garden area. his house is gone. there's a laundromat in it's place. if they'd known that it was his, they probably wouldn't have torn it down...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

my new clothes

every year, it seems to get harder to fit into my clothes from one season to the next. i don't believe in being thin or starving myself to be thin or eating certain things to be thin. what's important is to be healthy and strong, with lots of energy because i want a great quality of life and i want longevity.

i've always gone to the gym religiously (i think it's the fountain of youth) and i've always kept one eye on fitness magazines and articles about diet and weight loss, amassing a mental file cabinet of information fine tuned to my body and what seemed to work best for me. over time, i figured out what my body likes: free weights and running almost every day; a variety of fresh fruits (i eat blueberries and raspberries like popcorn) and vegetables (i love broccoli); all kinds of meats but mostly lots of salmon; and really powerful vitamins. i'm not big on bread or pasta or sodas or even juices. i don't usually eat sandwiches. typically, dinner is a bowl of steamed vegetables (like bok choy) with a little chicken. i fall off sometimes but the need to fit into my clothes every season tends to make me fall right back on. basically, everything is a dress size 6 because i'm too cheap to buy myself a new wardrobe every year. sometimes i even buy things that don't fit but are the size i know i should be, and then i work out steadily until i fit into them.

to tell you the truth, if i had money, there's a strong chance that i'd be completely overweight. i love food and i love to cook. i love to watch the food network for fun. most of the time, it feels like cooking school on-the-go. and it gives me a lot of ideas.

now that spring is here and summer is on the brink of exploding, it's time to take off the bulky jackets and sweaters to reveal the layrer of bulk that's inevitably underneath. for some strange reason, when i threw my closet open and began to try things on a few weeks ago, i didn't have a freak-0ut panic attack. not only did everything fit me but i could wear things i hadn't touched in several years. what the heck happened?

as it turns out, i was eating most of The 14 Superfoods. i was also doing The Perricone Promise and i didn't even know it. all of a sudden, being healthy and staying in shape is a part of my life and who i am, not something that i have to pull out everytime the weather begins to warm up. as it turns out, maybe it always was.

when i was a little kid, my father had a heart attack. his diet changed radically and so of course that meant that ours did, too. my mother was never big on candy and junk food and soda -- we weren't allowed to eat sweets -- but everything that was fatty and fried went right out the window. so did most of what passes itself off as "soul food" nowadays. occasionally, we'd have a meal like that here and there -- i certainly learned how to make it -- but for the most part, that stuff passed right over my plate. when i spent time with my grandparents in charleston, sc there was lots of seafood and things like boiled peanuts and red rice. i was always physically active. our house was surrounded by land and trees and sky, so there was plenty of room to run around. so these good habits were planted in me very early on.

understandably, it's extremely hard to talk to my cousin damon about good nutrition after his heart attack a few weeks ago when he doesn't excercise, he doesn't know how to cook, he's surrounded by an endless array of fast food restaurants and he smokes (he actually chain-smoked his way through his brother's funeral). then again, it's possible to make healthy fast food choices nowadays. it's not easy -- but it's possible. he's got a workout room at his job, with free weights and treadmills, that he can use whenever he wants. it's all about discipline.

then again, being cheap really helps. it's why i never smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol and it's definitely why i never got into smoking pot. i would look at my friends who did that stuff and i'd see all this cash money flying out of their hands and it would make me a little nervous. once a friend of mine did the math and figured that if he'd invested the money he'd spent on pot and cigarettes alone, he would have been a millionaire about 8 years ago. but i digress.

my point is, i've got a lot of new clothes. and i've got so much energy that it certainly feels like i've got a new body. i've turned a corner. again. go figure.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

In Observance of Cinco de Mayo: A Lingering Afterthought

While at a festive gathering somewhere in the bowels of this burgeoning metropolis to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a few years ago with a bunch of Dominicans and NuYoRicans, a redheaded Texan I knew rather wryly observed that most Latinos that she encountered in Yankeelandia didn’t know anything about our beloved Mexican holiday. As far as she could tell, it was just another reason to throw a party. As an honorary Texan, I had to concur.

When I lived in Texas, it was the event of the year. If I could, I would spend every Cinco de Mayo in San Antonio. What a beautiful little town. Sometimes my friends and I would go to there for the day, to make sure that we ripped it up just right. There were tequila tastings, lots of Tejano music and of course there was incredible Mexican food and Tex-Mex, the likes of which cannot be found up here—and trust me, I’ve looked. More importantly, we knew why the day was important and we were extremely proud of it, even though we weren’t Mexican at all. Where did that pride come from, you ask? The mezcal?

I’d taken enough required classes on Texas history as a student while at UT to know that it was essentially an unofficial Mexican/Mexican-American July 4th holiday. No one ever tells the real story: the Mexicans collectively beat an army that hadn’t been defeated in 50 years. Not just any army—the army of Emperor Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. And the Mexican general that led the fray was a Texan! Finally, Europe was officially out of Mexico and the Mexicans were free to rule themselves. (Now why do you suppose no one in Hollywood wants to make a movie about that?) It's a really good thing the Mexicans did this, kids. Remember, this happened in 1862. While both Mexico and the US were having civil wars, the French sided with the South. (In spite of popular opinion at the moment, the French have been buddies with the US for quite some time. They helped us gain our independence from England. Y'all know who General Lafayette is, don't you?) If the French had won in Mexico, they would have sent reinforcements through Texas to help the Confederates win the Civil War. And we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.

I don't care what anyone says. As a Southerner that’s only two generations removed from slavery, Cinco De Mayo is very much my holiday.

I think it's wonderful that everyone has their Independence Day because its a cool way to introduce yourself to another culture. Of course, African-Americans in Texas have been celebrating Juneteenth as their July 4th for quite some time—another very important day that isn’t really honored with much fanfare up here. Such holidays can be a great way to unify us. In understanding the history of Cinco de Mayo and celebrating the event, we can better understand ourselves and our collective history as Americans.

There’s a push to make Juneteenth a national holiday for African-Americans. If it happens, how lovely—and if it doesn’t happen, I suppose that’ll have to be lovely too. It’s certainly not going to stop my fish fry. Why should we wait around for the powers that be to “officially” recognize and validate what we know to be ours? Heck. Let’s all take the day off on Malcolm X’s birthday, not just Martin Luther King, Jr. And Zora Neale Hurston. And Robert F. Williams, too. Why not? Pick your hero and celebrate your heritage. Make the world wonder what in the world we’re up to—and for the love of Benji, fill them in.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Top 25 Most Played (on my iTunes)

  1. holdin' on to nothin'/dolly parton & porter wagoner
  2. desaparecido/manu chao
  3. pretty noose/soundgarden
  4. bell bottom blues/derek and the dominoes
  5. i want you to want me/dwight yoakam
  6. lady sniff (yes, this is my favorite butthole surfers song...)/the butthole surfers
  7. L-O-V-E/al green
  8. rockin' pneumonia/professor longhair
  9. one monkey don't stop no show/big maybelle
  10. a song for you/donny hathaway
  11. white girl/x (my favorite x song)
  12. it's a tie! "oh, happy day" and "joy, joy"/the edwin hawkins singers (if i had a favorite song, the latter one would probably be it...)
  13. can't let go/lucinda williams
  14. harmony/elton john
  15. how i could just kill a man/rage against the machine
  16. swingin' party/the replacements
  17. sara smile/hall & oates
  18. little t&a/the rolling stones (my favorite stones song)
  19. the crusher/the cramps
  20. theme from "midnight cowboy"/john barry
  21. nothing is true/jim carroll band
  22. my big iron skillet/wanda jackson
  23. marvelous/walter hawkins and the love alive choir
  24. touch me, i'm sick /mudhoney
  25. sinnerman/nina simone