Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 Summer Reading List

If you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book. Well, that’s what they say at least. They, of course, being the infamous all knowing, ever present, acquaintance to all, and speaker of no lies, and the “they” that informs us of everything we should know. All kidding aside, the existence of this horrible stereotype is real and often seen as truth by those whom I’d like to call ignorant but whom we consider and call friends, co-workers, and the people we’re surrounded by. You know, the same folks that think all black people love friend chicken, watermelon, and grape soda; which ironically or maybe not so ironically I do enjoy, just not in public. Well, not in public if I can manage to not succumb to my melanin induced draw to said indulgences. However unlikely and unrealistic it may be that this stereotype is of any validity, I continue to impose the challenge to those surrounding me to crack a book open from time to time.

It was my mother during the summers of my childhood that wouldn’t allow me and my brother to just chill like we wanted to. Nope. Instead we were drag to libraries, forced to participate in summer reading programs, and though at the time it was what I’d describe as torture, I’m now quite thankful for the building of an appreciation for writing and reading that I’ll say ma’dukes embedded in me. Literacy, in my opinion, is the single most important part of any education. It is the basis of any level of intellectual prowess. Reading (the act of, not the ability to) for me, was not necessarily something I took to like some of my idols or the great writers that I’ve become a fan of have been said to have. It took time for me to enjoy it at the level in which I do now, and considering my affinity for writing, I soon realized that in order to be great I’d have to read the greats. With that being said, I’ve composed a list of books that I intend to read this summer. I’m going to do my best to make it through them all. Join if you’d like.

Also, I’d like to thank and give a huge shout out to @_Sugahoney (http://www.sugahoney.com) for sharing her reading list with me. Some of what’s listed was recommended by her.… Thanks!  

2012 Summer Reading List    
The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on black Life in America by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill
How should a person be? by Sheila Heti
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
We Real Cool: Black Men & Masculinity by Bell Hooks
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Pulphead essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Women, race & Class by Angela Davis
Black Cool: One thousand Streams of Blackness by Rebecca Walker
The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene
Is Just a Movie by Earl Lovelace

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Black Film Predicament

It’s raining. I’m no longer a child so the fear of me not being able to go out and play no longer exists. Now, However, is when I appreciate substituting my television watching with reading, writing (quite evidently), or reflecting. The Rain outside sounding seamless, as if at any given second there’s a drop of water hitting something to allow for one long consistent note, and in a jazz-like fashion percussioned by random thunder and strobed by the lightning’s bright light through my blinds. I’d describe this as being very close to the epitome of the perfect setting for said activities. Obviously second fiddle to beautiful naked women plucking away at a harp made of my beard hairs, while feeding me grapes filled with Jack Daniels and massaging my body with Aloe Vera. That’s perfect… Anyhow, its’ times like this when I like to allow my phone to die, defensing all distraction, and precede in pounding on a keyboard.

I’m reminded while glancing over at the rack containing my DVD collection that I need to push in the one DVD that’s protruding out, Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, a film amongst my favorites. Evidently, also a film that I recently watched and obviously neglected to thoroughly secure when putting back. But what’s saddening is the ratio of black film to other films in my collection. But what’s even more saddening is this being a precise metaphor for our current film atmosphere in general. Massive amounts of movie made and put out and little of them being by or about us. It’s hard to pin point the culprit. Is it the production studios? They obviously under value black film and filmmakers, almost never allowing either a big budget. Is it the movie goers not supporting the good black films available? Is it society? Does black film no longer appeal to anyone? I’ll assume it’s a bit of all of the above. What’s clear is that there is a major issue with representing blackness in Hollywood. It would seem as though Hollywood finally believes that this is a task that can be negotiated by anyone. The value of the black experience no longer exists. 

I recently watched Think like a Man. A film written by two white men, marketed as being a film by and about blackness, successfully. It angers me to no end that anything Spike Lee has done or will do could ever possibly match the financial return of this piece of shit. OK, Kevin Hart made me laugh a few times but ultimately the film is about simple caricatures and consisted of no depth nor properly represented us. Are Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry going to be the only two black males representing the culture? If so, this is quite disheartening. Here’s a name for you, Ron Bass. The white man that wrote all your favorite black movies; Stella Got Her Groove Back, Dangerous Minds, Waiting to Exhale. Yes, I said Waiting to Exhale, the film frequently described as the great black movie that depicts the black women’s plight. Written by a white dude? Is this acceptable? I definitely respect his hustle, but what does it say about us that this, evidenced by it's success, is all we support. It reminds me of the beginning of Spike Lee’s Girl 6, in which Quentin Tarantino during the audition scene claims to be making the next great black film. How silly is that? Yet this is reality, this is what Hollywood believes can be done.  

A few months ago I wrote a blog about what I thought was going to be the new black film movement. This movement consisting of, Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow), Dee Rees (Pariah), Qasim Basir (Mooz-lum), Alrick Brown (Kinyarwanda), Steve McQueen (Shame), Salim Akil (Jumping the broom), and a few more. This movement is absolutely still possible. But it requires support. It requires education. It requires that we as black people or as a black culture can’t allow ourselves not to be force fed or accepting of everything we’re tossed. This requires, until information is more readily available, research, support, and the seeking out of such films.

I am by no means trying to sound overly righteous or revolutionary. I have no issue with white film or any other type of films for that matter. I just feel like I know what’s at stake. Popular culture is where the learning is. What people see the most of ultimately begins to be adopted as truth. Reality television is doing an amazing job depicting black women and men horribly with shows like basketball wives and love and hip hop already, imagine if those same images were all you saw in the theater too. If that’s what profitable, then that’s what we’ll see. Let’s not let that happen. Support quality independent film for the time being. Allow those to be what we crave. 

Regarding sources of such information, http://www.affrm.com/ seems to be a great place. Twitter too.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pore Music and Girls

My inconsistency is quite shameful. I almost feel it necessary to begin each of my post with an apology because of this fact. This time around I’ll refrain from doing so. Although it would be an honest effort on my part, I suppose it would mean nothing if not corrected. Allow me to work on correction and maybe an apology, though no longer necessary if my attempt is success, will come later. Welcome back.

I hope life has been good to you. Me? I can say that it has. Not because much has changed, because much hasn’t, but because things aren’t horrible. I’m not sure if that’s an optimistic outlook or a pessimistic standard, either way, I have a glass, and it has water in it, and whether half full or half empty, I’m getting thirsty? Whatever. At last declaration, I proposed a life of non-conformity, in which I made it a personal goal of mine to, as so precisely titled, not conform in manners that I had been in the past. I greatly underestimated the level of difficulty of this task. I recognize that most of my conforming happens in the workplace, and though I would love to say fuck it and roll out with my head held high, sound tracked by James Brown’s the big payback, I’m fully aware that I have a lifestyle to maintain and need money to do so. So aspects of conformity will have to stay in place for the time being. I also mentioned that I was going to let my facial hair grow, initially as a fuck-corporate-America-black-man-strong-beard type of thing, but now it’s something that I’m totally embracing. I love my beard! Not only is there a level of unexpected liberation that I’m experiencing, I’m also feeling like a gold member of tribe, gang, brotherhood, or as I refer to us on twitter, bearded brigade brethren. With one glance at another bearded gentlemen I’m able to convey kinship, respect, and “Dude, nice fucking beard.” Plus, this is reciprocated. It just feels so damn Manly, for lack of a bearder word! Catch that? I also seem to be receiving a fair amount of positive attention from the ladies, and you can never be mad at that. Anyhow, I’ll attach a photo and you can let me know what you think about the Music from my pores, so to speak….

So, I live alone, and I think a lot. I read a lot too. I’m currently working through Toni Morrison’s collection and thoroughly enjoying it. She’s genius. Quite the prototype I’m scheming up for whatever woman I end up with in life. The mind of Morrison, lips of Kerry Washington, Swag of Badu, lisp of Melissa Harris-Perry, and so on. Though I’m sure all that will change tomorrow. What won’t change tomorrow is my co-sign for HBO’s new show Girls, which I frequently find myself in debates about. Though critically acclaimed, something about this show repulses the people around me. Not that critical acclaim is everything because it’s definitely not, but because the show is so outstandingly good in my opinion that I find myself perplexed by those that feel differently. In what I would describe as Woody-allen-esque, Girls thrives where a lot of other shows fail to keep my interest, the writing. It’s sharp, witty, smart, and high brow comedy. I encourage you all to check it out.

Amongst beards, books, and new shows are relationships, new and old. It’s funny how you never really know which relationships will be substantial and which will be trivial. I suppose I should appreciate the amount of people that come in, out, and around my life but at times that’s hard to do. A friendship that I considered deep ended as a new/old friendship seems to be rekindled. I tread delicately in regards to the latter, though I hope it grows much stronger. We’ll see.

I’ll assume this is my attempt at getting back in the flow of things. My making amends for inconsistency. I assure you that this blog will become priority. Thanks for reading.


Monday, March 12, 2012

A Life of Non-Conformity

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth – John F. Kennedy

Where I am today is easily traced back to few decisions I’ve made in my life. Some good, some bad, and some just as a result of succumbing to the pressures of society. It’s hard to really put a finger on where my Idea of “what a man is” comes from, and in the same manner, my ideas of success. I’d imagine that both being a man and successful would be of varying opinion for both those who consider themselves men and successful, respectively. In regards to my ideas about being a man, I’ll have to save that for another post. Today I’d like to focus more on success, or at least aspects of it. In fact, maybe not even success. Maybe just life and how I’ve chosen to live it and where that’s taken me. I don’t know really, I’m just writing. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really begun to recognize how much conforming I’ve done in life. Actually the majority of my life has been just that, conforming. Typically, my attempts at not conforming or being rebellious were not because of a fiery spirit within me wanting to do so, but out of ignorance and ultimately leading to trouble (breaking laws) and making up those bad decisions that I spoke about earlier. Either way, I’ve ended up on path that isn’t allowing ultimate satisfaction and higher happiness. And that’s what I’ll assume success is to me; happiness. This may insinuate that I’m currently unhappy, and at times I am, but generally I’m not. I have great people in my life that I love, I’m alive and breathing, frequently in the presence of beautiful women, and surviving tough economic times. Who am I to complain, right? Well complaining isn’t what I’m doing here. Nor is this a “feel sorry for me” session. I’m simply reevaluating. Change is good. For me what needs changing most is the amount of conforming to societal/parental/peer pressures as I do. Until I stop that, nothing will change, I guess.  

So in what ways do I feel I’m conforming? Good question. I think in a lot of ways I’ve conformed simply out of not having an alternative. Let me clarify. I don’t think I’ve had a clear alternative route or option for my life that I completely turned my back on or ignored due to pressures. Which is why it probably never really seemed as though conforming is what I was doing. I’ve just been doing the “regular” stuff. Go to school… get pretty good job… Look for a lady… start a family. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But that’s a cycle that I’m beginning to feel trapped in. Incarcerated by an expectation of others to do what I’m apparently supposed to do. That in conjunction to my need to be “free,” so to speak, provides quite the dichotomy. A fine line, or let’s call it a fence, in which one side presents the six figure gig, the house with the nice lawn, and a family. This by the way is attractive to me. But the other side of the fence, wonderland, in which I’m chasing Immortality! Where the goal is doing something great and important, of substance, and meaningful to way more people than those in my immediate circle.  But, I have no Idea what that would be. I really want to figure something out though. I do know that it’s not corporate America. Is it too egotistical of me to assume a purpose greater than what my current path is leading me to? Is it possible to have both? I’m sure it is!  

Major change doesn’t happen overnight, I suppose it requires planning. So though I’m waiting to make drastic moves I can’t allow those moves to be stupid. In the smaller picture, there’s something within me that requires an expression of my non-conformity. What I’ve come up with as a mean of outward expression of my no longer wanting to conform will be my beard! Yes, my beard. As silly as this sounds I’m serious. It’s the one thing that I’ve wanted to do (grow a long beard) but haven’t because I’ve felt like I shouldn’t. I’ve conformed. I’ve thought more about what the people at the job would think, what women would think, and about what everyone else would think instead of just doing it. Change is also a matter of working outside your comfort zone. I’ve been most comfortable shaved. I know this is a small step to a life of non-conformity, but I’ll allow my big beard (and I mean big) to act as a reminder that I’m transitioning to a path to a higher quality freedom, a life of non-conformity, and attempt at something new.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Goodbye February

It’s difficult to really put my finger on what black history month means to me now. At my age, is it supposed to mean anything? As yet another February sprints by, I question where black history month fits in our society. It’s almost as if it’s just something to say but not regarded with any importance. If you’re not in Jr. High school or below, where a change in curriculum occurs, then black history month isn’t quite the trending topic, so to speak, but merely just a whisper in the background during the shortest month of the year, February. We’re immersed in a culture defined by speed. In which, you’re left behind during moments of reflection, what happened 30 minutes prior is “history,” and no ones work is appreciated until #RIP is placed in front of your name. Seriously, what does black history month represent to a self proclaimed post-racial generation? Where the accomplishments of historical figures are no longer associated with color of skin but maybe more so with being American, where someone is from, or even simply just zodiac signs. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me as much as you may be assuming it does. Technically, i’m a member of the post-blackness generation due to my not having to be as thoroughly equipped defensively in society growing up, as say, my mother and father might have had to be during segration, integration, and blantant racism. I’m the biggest supporter of “can we all get along.” But, still I feel close enough to the harsh times, being a generation away, that reminiscing and learning about what great things people accomplished during amazingly less privileged times is something I look forward to. I think you should too. There’s way too much watching the throne and not enough remembering who attempted to get there first but got denied due to reasons that we’ll never experience. My intention here isn’t to be preachy but merely to point out how often times we’re, including myself, easily distracted. It's scary to think that we’re maybe one generation away from never mentioning some historical figures ever again and possibly even closer to doing away with black history month all together. Let’s be more focused, so I’ll children will have the opportunity to be as inspired by our past as they are unknowingly affected by it.

Goodbye February.

My loving respects to a few great black writers with whom I love and admire… A big Shout Out to Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Amiri Baraka, and my favorite, James Baldwin. I love you all!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 Films From Sundance 2012 That I Can't Wait To See!!

Yes folks, once again I’m tortured knowing that all the films that I’ve been most recently reading about, as a result of the Sundance Film Festival, will be inaccessible for only God knows how long to the general population. So for the time being, I forced to live in the purgatory of amazing reviews about amazing debuted films with amazing synopsizes that I can’t see. It’s a horrible way to live. But I guess I do it to myself. For the past few years it has been a goal of mine to be at Sundance. For obvious reasons of course. One, I’m a film buff. It’s where I belong. And two, the festival is right around my birthday (Jan 15th), so what better gift to give myself, right? Hopefully 2013 will be my year.

Following is a list of the 10 films that I seem to be most interested in seeing, for various reasons. My man 50 Grand, Spike lee, is back reprising his role from Do the Right Thing role, Mookie, in his new film. He makes it clear that this is no sequel, but also that he’s back to his roots with this one. Ava DuVernay wins best drama directing award for her new film Middle of Nowhere, which is huge for women and black folk I suppose. I thought her last film; I will follow, was great, and am becoming a huge fan of hers’. She’s a Hip Hop head too! But, the big winner at the festival, Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is apparently undeniably amazing is what I’m most curious and excited about. Those are probably the big three for me but the rest look just as amazing. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: The synopsizes under each title are not my words. They are either from IMDB or something Google produced.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in "the Bathtub," a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink's tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he's no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack and temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink's health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.

Red Hook Summer

When his mom deposits him at the Red Hook housing project in Brooklyn to spend the summer with the grandfather he’s never met, young Flik may as well have landed on Mars. Fresh from his cushy life in Atlanta, he’s bored and friendless, and his strict grandfather, Enoch, a firebrand preacher, is bent on getting him to accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Only Chazz, the feisty girl from church, provides a diversion from the drudgery. As hot summer simmers and Sunday mornings brim with Enoch’s operatic sermons, things turn anything but dull as people’s conflicting agendas collide.
Playfully ironic, heightened, yet grounded, Spike Lee’s bold new movie returns him to his roots, where lovable, larger-than-life characters form the tinderbox of a tight-knit community. A story about the coexistence of altruism and corruption, Red Hook Summer toys with expectations, seducing us with the promise of moral and spiritual transcendence. Spike is back in the ’hood.

An Oversimplification of her Beauty

You’ve just arrived home after a bad day. You’re broke and lonely, even though you live in the biggest and busiest city in America. You do, however, have one cause for mild optimism: you seem to have captured the attention of an intriguing young lady. You’ve rushed home to clean your apartment before she comes over. In your haste, you see that you’ve missed a call. There’s a voice mail; she tells you that she won’t be seeing you tonight.

With arresting insight, vulnerability, and a delightful sense of humor, Terence Nance’s explosively creative debut feature, AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY, documents the relationship between Terence and a lovely young woman (Namik Minter) as it teeters on the divide between platonic and romantic. Utilizing a tapestry of live action and various styles of animation, Terence explores the fantasies, emotions, and memories that race through his mind during a singular moment in time.

Room 237

A subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining (1980). The film may be over 30 years old but it continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery. Five very different points of view are illuminated through voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments. Together they'll draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out.

Simon Killer

A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of five years. His life should be open-ended and full of promise, but he can’t shake his feelings of loss. Being a stranger in a strange land only aggravates his situation. When he falls in love with a young mysterious prostitute, a fateful journey begins, though we soon learn that Simon is the one with deeper secrets.

The Surrogate

A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.


A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help

The Words

A struggling writer (Bradley Cooper) finds a manuscript for a sprawling novel, and passes it off as his own. The novel is universally acclaimed as a masterpiece, but soon, an old man (Jeremy Irons) shows up to claim the manuscript as his own.

Middle of Nowhere

A drama that follows a woman who changes her life in order to contend with her husband's 8-year prison sentence.

2 Days in New York

Marion (Delpy) has broken up with Jack (Two Days in Paris) and now lives in New York with their child. But when her family decides to come visit her, she's unaware that the different cultural background held by her new American boyfriend Mingus (Rock), her eccentric father, and her sister Rose who decided to bring her ex-boyfriend along for the trip, added to her upcoming photo exhibition, will make up for an explosive mix

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Le Professeur des femmes: Bukowski and Moody

Of all I love, women sit amongst the highest objects on that totem pole. Beautiful, interesting, caring, and there are a lot of other adjectives that make them up in a manner that shits on what any MAC cosmetic possibly could. I love them a lot. I want to make sure I’m not misunderstood here though, I’m looking for my Delilah but I’m no Samson. In that, I’m incapable of being seduced to a point where I divulge the keys to my demise, but have made plenty of horrible decisions in respect to them. I’m also not Brandon, Michael Fassbender’s character in Steve McQueen’s recent release Shame, dealing with a sexual addiction of enormous proportions and unable to control my need to constantly be “in” a woman, so to speak. But, whether blatant mistreatment, falling for the guise of a pretty face and phat “assets”, choice, or straight up indecisiveness, what’s obvious is that I’m still single. I’m not going to lie; this is a lifestyle that I enjoy, but to be fair, only at times. I’m definitely aware of its benefits, some of which I don’t look forward to relieving and consider also that something within me may not be able to ever let some of these freedoms go. I also realize that this wouldn’t be an ideal situation for me. I’ve never envisioned a future of mine that didn’t consist of the partnership of a wife and the raising of children (Yes, multiple). But unfortunately, my life up to this point hasn’t led me in that direction. So, my question to myself is how should I feel about this?

“Don't wait for the good woman. She doesn't exist” – Charles Bukowski

That’s quite the perspective, right? The aforementioned quote is by one of my favorite writers, Charles Bukowski, whom is in possession of an opinion about women that I, in some cases, slightly relate to and admire. He’s responsible for a Novel called Women (I’ll let you ponder on what it’s about), that I find myself reading in its entirety on an annual basis. Like tax season, it never fails. But, before you side-eye me in the manner that most women side-eye men at the beginnings of saying something distasteful about their species, let me say that I do not agree with this statement (Though…at…times…. SMH!!). I’m often the biggest basher of the act of generalizing, and to give this quote any validity would be doing just that. In the same way that I have absolutely no respect for Steve Harvey’s book, Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man, for generalizing the actions of men. So I’ll refrain from doing that. This quote does bring about questions of settling down or at least having the ability to actually recognize what a “good woman”, as Bukowski so inefficiently worded, is for me. So what does Bukowski mean here? What is the good woman? My mother is a good woman. But contrary to the popular belief that all men are looking for their mothers in women, I’m not. I also have female friends that are good woman, but again, not for me. I suspect “the good woman that doesn’t exist” refers to who I’ve currently been looking for. If that’s the case then it might be true, because she’s not here. In a previous post I’ve discussed my fear of actually settling for whom I spend the rest of my life with. No one deserves that. I’ve also spoken about being fine with just being a baby-daddy and not a husband… as a means to an end. No, I’m not one yet, but I refuse to allow anything to prevent my becoming a father one day. “THE Good Woman” isn’t required, just “a good woman,” right?   

"I have been treated better than I should have been---not by life in general nor by the machinery of things but by women." – Charles Bukowski

I’ve had the pleasure to deal with some great women, and am thankful for that. Some of which situations I can’t put a finger on why things didn’t work out. Quite possibly because of me and my supposed lack of exerted effort towards making it work. Quite possibly because of them and for reasons that just seem so unclear to me now. Things start off cool, some confusion in the middle, next thing she’s packed up, moved, and residing in Atlanta. The ones that get away!!! But, with the assistance of hindsight, I see that I am to be at fault for a lot of shit, a fact that I would’ve argued before. Sometimes I wonder what it is about me that’s able to pull some women in as close as I do, and at times, effortlessly and, as harsh as it sounds, without care. “Atlanta Girl” believes I do what I do because I’m spoiled by women. I’d hate to misquote her, but something to the effect that I present what women want, they fall for it, then I, in a hunter-like manner, take advantage of them (Sorry Atlanta Girl if this is not accurate). I respect that theory, though not true, and also see this as Atlanta Girls way of insinuating something negative about the quality of previous and other girls in my life. Atlanta girl was one of the good ones though, and still is.         

“It’s my purgatory, really... Dinner, drinks, whatever. I’m never really all that interested, but I find myself telling her how beautiful she is anyway. ‘Cause it’s true, all women are, in one way or another. You know, there’s always something about every damn one of you, it’s a smile, a curve, a secret. You ladies really are the most amazing creatures, my life’s work. But then there’s the morning after, a hangover, and the realization that I’m not quite as available as I thought I was the night before. And then she’s gone, and I’m haunted by yet another road not taken.” – Hank Moody (David Duchovny’s character in Californication)

PREACH!!!! My god I love that quote… Nuff said

I feel as though I’m a direct descendent of Mr. Bukowski and Mr. Moody (even though he’s fictional) --One of the Sons of Passion. It’s never my intention to hurt anyone, nor have I ever been in love. I long for a deep and loving relationship but get more comfortable on a daily basis knowing that it may never happen. I’m neither a lost cause nor an overnight project but something has to change. Women, Women, Women… How I love you so.

Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 - March 9, 1994)... R.I.P.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Apologies and Conversations

I apologize to the few frequent followers that this blog appeals to for my absence. I’d like to say that this absence was the result of some great event that required my time for tedious and delicate decision making, or maybe a cross country trip skipping from state to state meeting awesome strangers and smashing every 6 and above that stepped in front of me, or perhaps Sundance, the film festival that I’ve been saying that I was going to for years now that just ended. But no, my loving and loyal readers, to my dismay this is not the case. Instead, my absence is more so of slacker repute. The un-interruption, so to speak, of my everyday wheelings and dealings. Work, Women, and DVR!! Better known in classier circles as WWD, or WBD depending on how disrespectful I’m feeling. The “B” is probably better left unsaid. Regarding my absence, let me say that this is of no cause for concern! But, who am I to do so? Why trust me of all people, the untrustworthy narrator. Perhaps I should just put up or shut, practice what I preach, and stop being so damn inconsistent. And I will!
Amidst my days of bojangling and lollygagging were conversations. Conversations with people. People who held alternative beliefs about a variety of subject matters. You’d think I’d want to blog about said conversations, and I did, but managed to allow other B.S. to blogger-block me until now. So, now this unfulfilled release manifests itself into this, a hodgepodge of lingering thoughts that will quite possibly lead nowhere, but we’ll see.

Religion… I don’t consider myself to be a religious man, in fact, quite the opposite in that the rules that I adhere to, aside from those enforced by “the infamous pigs,” are of my own. I live a life that’s self-defined and completely based on what I truly feel is right and wrong. What’s to be taken into consideration and deliberated upon, which I have and do, is that I was raised in a very religious household. This may account for a pretense of Christian morals assumed by those I converse with. In some cases they may be right. I generally do believe that it is wrong to kill, steal, and other overwhelmingly obvious criminal acts that are specifically pointed out in the bible. But, not because of the bible, but rather because I wouldn’t want any of said criminal acts done to me. That defines the space in which I live. The basis to with which I call my code of ethics is taking the ever so reliable “treat people how you want to be treated” attitude towards all my actions and intentions.

I’d like it to be clear that I don’t have an issue with Religion. Almost everyone I love is held strong within it. So I slightly respect it. With that being said, the question with which most religious debates are sparked must be asked. Does God exist? That question is quite difficult for me to answer. If given the options of Yes and No, I’d prefer not to choose. Because I don’t know. I’m pretty positive no one does. I believe that people strongly (and I mean really STRONGLY) believe their respective sides, he does and doesn’t. I think we can all agree that-that’s not knowing though. I’ve been given the opportunity to ask this question to a variety of people. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), most responses to this question are similar. “Does God Exist?”… “Yes”… obviously followed with, “Well how do you know.” This is commonly followed with and evidenced by a “miraculous experience” that’s happened, or unexplained relief from difficult circumstances, you know, “There are things that happen in my life that let me KNOW that there is a God.” And please believe, I respect all of the above. But what’s most important about those reasons for a believer is that they are equally as disprovable as they are provable. In my opinion, these evidences come out of convenience. In my mind, it’s easy to label good things and positive outcomes as God’s work. So, something good happens… “Thank God.” But good things happen to everyone, right? I’m sure there aren’t any non-believers whom only experience horrible things or bad outcomes. That’s kind of how life is… you deal with the good and the bad. But maybe this is a weak argument. Who knows?

I understand the comfort folks feel with believing there is a Greater Being out there hovering over and watching us. Who loves us, and is there for assistance when we need help. It’s comforting not being alone in this world. It’s comforting believing that your “soul” lives forever in heaven after you die, as opposed to what may be true, that nothing happens and the lights just go out… forever. I understand all of that, and would love for it to be true. But I just don’t know. I don’t believe it’s not true but I don’t believe it is either. Agnosticism I suppose.

I have to admit, there is a void that I feel. This void, I’ve been told is because of my lack of relationship with God, but It may just be my hunger for higher success. But as a pseudo-resolution for the New Year, I’ve intended to seek out a more spiritual lifestyle. I’m not making any promises, but an effort will be made.

I’m hoping this is clear. What do you think?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ARTIST TO WATCH: Chantavia Brown


My name is Chantavia Brown. Art has always been a part of me, but in the last year, my talent in the realm of art, has exposed its true abilities. Art, poetry, and reading form much of my perspective on the joy’s of life. I began creating collages in college. I would sit for hours in my dorm room cutting articles and pictures out of magazines, placing them on my wall to express personal thoughts, imaginations, and life’s frustrations.

A coworker had rolls of newspapers he was going to throw away from the Newseum, but I asked for them, and the idea of placing the articles on a canvas blindsided me. Writing and creating these canvas’ vocalizes my perception of all that I see, and it allows me the time to really focus on what is most important in my life, which are love and truth. My faith in Christ has catapulted me into a freedom never experienced. Since truly dedicating my life to Him, He has enhanced my abilities in not just art, but my peace of mind. He has captivated my heart to share my experiences while planting seeds of truth.

My art will touch the hearts of a generation with so many avenues of wickedness, but few escape routes for righteousness. This generation starves for reformed love and affirmation, but we hotwire them with immediate gratifications. My art represents a desire to see there is more to life than ourselves. My art expresses the rising of a generation demanding more than old stories intertwined with traditions. I hope my gift reminds us of the biblical standards this country was established on, stained with the trickling of  blood, sweat, and tears from social warriors before us, whose voices have seemed to become whispers.


Aspects of Endurance

Sodom & Gomorrah


For Inquiries about Chantavia's work, please contact her via email at chantavia_b@yahoo.com or hit up her blog!  http://elementsofatonement.blogspot.com     

Monday, January 16, 2012

Apathy and Applejacks (Guest Blog by Cassanova Quixote)

I’m back again.  Shocking I know, but apparently MaDBlack is tolerant of my random and scatterbrain rants.  This time I struggled to come up with another blog topic, and though I am not vain in the slightest bit, I’ve decided to talk about myself again.  The question that I get most right now is:

"Cassanova now that you are back in the United States, what are you doing with your life?"

In one word. Nothing.

It’s true, I don’t do anything.  I’m homeless and jobless, but it’s not as easy as it seems.  In fact it’s quite hard.  I think Jerry Seinfield said it best when he said, “I am so busy doing nothing... that the idea of doing anything - which as you know, always leads to something - cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.

So M-F from approximately 8:45ish to 6:15ish, I do nothing.  It’s hard to get an exact measurement of when the nothing that I do on the clock crosses over into the nothingness that I do after hours.  When the nothing is finished for the day, which is not really possible since it has to be something to even have an end, I do the same thing that most people do after work.  I socialize with friends, help slow the rate of the rapidly rising national debt by patronizing restaurants and bars, and go on prowl girls with low self-esteems.   

Most people struggle, toil, and work all of their lives so they can hope for the possibly of retiring one day, so they can do nothing.  I do nothing now.  I just cut thirty plus years of servitude out of my life.  I leave you to ponder on that.

As you can see I am slightly crazier than MaDBlack’s moniker might imply and I probably need a hug.  But unless you are the author of this blog (http://readingissexii.blogspot.com/) please don’t bother.
And before I go I would to give a shout out to two of my favorite documentaries right now. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top 10 Albums of 2011

It can be difficult juggling being both a true film fanatic and music head. Ultimately, you have to sacrifice delving deep into one for another. This is a continuous see-saw in my life. At some points, you can catch me and I’m totally into movies, but at others, there’s nothing but music on my mind. Some consider it slightly obsessive compulsive wanting to see and hear every movie and album, respectively, but that’s just how it’s always been for me. Given that a goal like this is impossible and there’s no way for me to possibly thoroughly listen to and analyze every album that dropped this year, i give you the best of what I’ve heard. This year for me has been a bit hip-hop-heavy, so to speak. My top ten lists of years prior would reflect that. Unfortunately for you, I just started this blog, so those lists aren’t available for reference. I’m not calling this a best hip-hip album list though, because it’s not. Hip hop is just primarily what I’ve been into recently. Also, top 10 seem more appropriate than anything else, but I’d like to say that of the ten, the top 5 are of my hands-down-top-favorites of the year. Six through ten and my honorable mentions are arguably interchangeable depending upon the week you catch me. I guess I could have made this a top 15 but i thought 10 was more suitable, get it? If not, deal with it. I’ve also mentioned quite a few of the albums previously in music post on this blog. So for some, this may be a bit repetitive. For the others, feel free to check prior comments about some of these albums. Enjoy!

10. The Roots - Undun

I’d imagine that being a Roots fan is very similar to being one of those die-hard-super-geeks for Star Wars or Star Trek. It’s like, you know that what you support and follow (in my case listen to) is the bestest-mostest-underratedest shit out, yet people don’t treat it as such. The Roots are respected by everyone, loved and looked up to by artist, but forgotten within mainstream music. I’ll never really understand it. Black thought may be the greatest rapper never mentioned in a top 5 argument and the roots, as a collective, are arguably building one of the greatest bodies of works that hip hop will ever and has ever seen. Undun evidences this theory of mine. It’s definitely not flawless and also not their best work, in my opinion, yet Undun still manages to take you on a journey. It tells a story and is an album that is conceptually put together.  I highly recommend giving this a listen.

9. Ice Bird – The Abandoned Lullaby

The Abandoned Lullaby is the collaborative effort of RJD2 and Aaron Livingston. RJD2 provides the beats and Aaron laces them with his very-on-point vocals. Going in, I had no Idea what to expect from this album. As you can see, I was thoroughly surprised by this discovery.

8. Evidence – Cats & Dogs

Evidence definitely surprised me. Not that I didn’t consider him a good artist, because I do. I just didn’t expect to like this album as much as I do. An album not dressed up with a ton of features, evidence makes it known that he can hold his own with this opus.

7. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva

Originally co-signed by 9th Wonder, often compared to Outkast, and leading the next wave of producer/emcees, comes Krit. Staying true to the soulfulness of the south, he’s created an album for a variety of purposes. It’s not just club music, riding slow music, or tales-of-where-I-come-from music. It’s all of the above. Krit has definitely done a great job displaying his versatility. I think this ship has sailed, he’s bound to be a household name any day now.

6. Danny Brown – XXX

It may take a generation like the newest to allow for an artist like Danny Brown to shine. Given his tight jeans alone, some old-head-hip-hop-people would write him off immediately. With a rap style as unique and alternative to what we “know” as a rapper, comes Danny Brown out of Detroit. He’s sick. His flow is amazingly different and content deep. Danny Brown may not be for everyone, but he’s definitely for the people who like dope shit. I’m a fan!

5. Phonte – Charity Starts at home

As one half of the group Little Brother, I always thought of Phonte as the stronger of the two. Much like Andre 3000 in Outkast, Phonte has always been my favorite member. I love Outkast and Little Brother as a group but selfishly always wished both Andre and Phonte would release solo efforts. Well, Phontigallo’s solo opus has arrived and it’s great. Lyrically, I think Phonte is making it clear that he can hold his own with anyone doing it now, and I believe him. From beginning to end I can let the album ride with no disappointments. This is a classic in my opinion.

4. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

I’ve never quite heard an album like this. It’s genius in many ways but also slept on. A ton of “alternative” magazines have been giving this album love and critical acclaim. The hip hop spots haven’t been showing the same amount of love for this work. I’m not really sure why. It’s unmistakably a rap album. It’s definitely unique, in a manner that allows me to love it that much more. Please listen to this album before what’s done on it is stolen by whomever, and made into the next biggest thing, and given none of the credit.

3. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Following in the footsteps of other great Canadians like Celine Dion and Drizzy, comes The Weeknd. Accompanied by his great music and name that sounds like a young white punk band, The Weeknd is sure to become a monster on the billboard. House of Balloons, the second installment of his 3 mixtape release, is where I jumped on the bandwagon. With dark content and the voice of Michael Jackson, The Weeknd immediately pulled me in. I’m expecting major things from this young man.

2. The Black Keys – El Camino

Danger Mouse and The Black Keys join again. I will never be upset when these 2 collaborate. I was initially introduced to the Black key when they released Attack & Release in 2008. I literally bought their album solely on my attraction to the album cover. Yes, and that folks is when I first heard Danger Mouse and The Black Keys together. Since that point, I’ve definitely gotten much more familiar with their work and consider myself to be a huge fan.  You should to… get familiar.

1. Kendrick Lamar – Section 80

Kendrick Lamar is the best thing since whatever was the best thing before sliced bread. I listen to his music and say to myself, “he gets it.” One of the most passionate artist we’ll be seeing, it’s obvious that Kendrick’s track are made of blood, sweat, and tears. Section 80 is breath of fresh air, a hint of what’s to come, and a letter to the people that proclaims “this hip hop shit is alive.” He’s also a member of The Black hippy collective/group/crew, made up of him, SchoolBoy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul. Surprisingly enough, they all make exceptional music and musically speaking, I’d put that crew up against anyone.

Honorable Mentions
Little Dragon – Ritual Union
Drive (original motion Picture Soundtrack)
Stalley – Lincoln Way Nights
Schoolboy Q – Setbacks
2 Chainz – Codeine Cowboy
G-Side – the One…  Cohesive

Worst Films of 2011 (GUEST BLOG by Traffic)

******Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the owner of this blog. Enjoy.

1.Scream 4Wes Craven has officially displayed his loss of horror and substance. This by far is the worst sequel out of the bunch and I pray there will be no more.

2.Super 8Memo to J.J Abrams, you are and you will never be Steven Spielberg. Enough Said

3.Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon Another excuse to display incredible CGI, problem is they forgot that it had to make sense. Oh and then this has the audacity to be 154 minutes.

4.Your HighnessThis was close to Jack and Jill bad, but there literally isn't a funny scene in the movie and I like Danny McBride, but this is just pathetic.

5.The ThingRemake from the 80's that thinks CGI can make a difference.  Well it doesn't, in fact it makes this shit terrible.

6.Cowboys & Aliens - Listen to the title, enough said.

7.Big Mommas House: Like Father Like SonMartin Lawrence has probably had the biggest drop off in talent and films for a comedian and it's sad.  He's the Black Jim Carrey

8.Don't Be Afraid of the DarkLittle monsters that are the size of frogs threaten a family. Wow

9.Jack and JillWhoever continues to fund Adam Sandler films should be dropped off into space to the point of no return.

10.The Green LanternWorst Superhero film in recent years and Ghost rider came out two years ago.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Forwards and Frosted Flakes (GUEST BLOG by Cassanova Quixote)

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cassanova Quixote.  MaDBlacK asked me to be a guest blogger from time to time.  Though I am greatly honored, I feel as though there is an ulterior motive to this request.  MaDBlacK is a long time real life friend who has been trying to get me to go “Tron” and enter the digital age.  Well, for those who don’t know I am paranoid cynic whose favorite book in the 3rd grade was 1984.  For those who don’t know Big Brother is watching, and now he is watching me too.  But since I am now on the radar, I might as well act a donkey. 

I guess first I should explain my name for those who don’t get it.  It basically means that romance and everything that is related to it is dead.  In fact it has always been dead.  Romance is a myth.  I challenge anyone to make me believe that it isn’t.  I instead chose to believe in lust and laws of the wild.  The food chain that exists in the animal kingdom exists within the human race as well.
“… Everyone wants to eat but no one wants to be eaten.”  - Christopher Paolini

I think a more apt quote would be that… Everyone wants to f*** but no one wants to get f***ed.  But I think the inverse applies for getting dome.  Odd… I leave you to ponder this.

As you can see I am slightly angrier that MaDBlacK’s moniker might imply and I probably need a hug.  But unless you are the author of this blog ( http://inspire-thetribe.blogspot.com/ ) please don’t bother.

And before I go I would to give a shout out to two of my favorite websites right now. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Top 10 Films Of 2011

I personally thought it was an amazing year for film. Much better than years prior where deciding my top 10 list was as easy as picking up a drunk and hot girl. That is, easy because of the lack of options of that standard. This year was difficult. So many high quality films have come out, or maybe it’s just my increasing love for film and consistent consumption of it. Either way, I’m thoroughly satisfied with this year’s outcome. Not only have we been introduced to great films this year but have also become aware of a few great first time directors. We saw great films by Joe Cornish (Attack the block), Evan Glodell (Bellflower), Dee Rees (Pariah), and David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American sleepover), and a few more. I look forward to the new projects from all of these directors and hope they continue on their successful paths. If you haven’t seen their work, please check it out!

It would seem that we also may be on the heels of a new black film movement. Reminiscent of the crime melodramas of the Blaxploitation era with Shaft and Super Fly, and the more recent 90’s, lead by Spike lee (Do the Right thing and Jungle Fever), John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood and Poetic Justice), and Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City and Panther), comes THE NOW. Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow), Dee Rees (Pariah), Qasim Basir (Mooz-lum), Alrick Brown (Kinyarwanda), Steve McQueen (Shame), Salim Akil (Jumping the broom), and a few more. This is something that especially makes me proud. This “movement,” also brings forth not being able to fit the black character in a box, as an ideal. As Toure’ would say, the post-black (his book: Who’s afraid of Post-Blackness) era. Where blacks are of a variety of character, morally, sexually, and rid of any other stereotype that’s been assumed upon our culture. All of these films do a great job clarifying that we’re all different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I wish the greatest success and longest careers to said directors and also to the directors, writers, and actors that I left out.

Disclaimer: I’m a regular person. I’m not a paid critic. So I wouldn’t say that there are any hidden agendas or secret politics behind the making of this list (also not saying critics do). Also to that point, I don’t get paid or asked by anyone to go see these films. I haven’t seen as many films as a professional critic and everything I do see comes out of my own pocket in some manner and is done in my limited free time. If I haven’t listed something you love, forgive me. I may have not seen it or it just may suck. Let’s begin.

10. Attack the Block

As mentioned in my introduction, Attack the Block is from first time writer/director Joe Cornish. The film is about a teen gang in London doing their best to defend their block from an alien invasion. Gathering comparisons to J.J. Abrams’s Super 8, it deals with children and aliens but much better in my opinion. Nostalgia isn’t the goal of ATB as in Super 8 which to me felt like an homage to the earlier work of Steven Spielberg. ATB is simple, gritty, and worth every penny used to see it.    

9. The Interrupters

From the documentarian of Hoop Dreams, Steve James, comes this GEM. This documentary follows the lives of three “Violence interrupters” in Chicago.  Like most documentaries, this allows you to be the fly on the wall. You witness some heartbreaking things, motivating things, and the people that live and work in this environment. One of the interrupters, Ameena Matthews, shines on the screen as she negotiable the streets, motivates the young people, and wears her heart on her sleeve trying to make a change. Steve James does a 
marvelous job conveying the fact that this is how it is and ultimately there may not be a way to fix it, but there are people who care and try. What are you doing?  

8. The Trip

One word precisely describes this film. Hilarious!! One of the few films this year that literally had me laughing out loud. You can YouTube the impressions of Michael Caine for of a taste of the hilarity that takes place in this film. I’d say that this definitely isn’t for everyone. Nothing really happens, it just follows two men on a trip, like the title insinuates. Tons of conversation (which I love), but am aware that everyone doesn’t have the patience for. See this, bring a diaper!

7. Another Earth

Drama and science and fiction. This is a film about a girl celebrating her acceptance to MIT and following that with the killing a family during a drunk driving accident. The movie picks up 4 years after the accident at which point the main character, played greatly by co-writer Brit Marling, is released from Jail. This movie was such a surprise, but very reflective of the vibrant indie scene currently existing.

6. Warrior

The tale of two brothers. For that fact, my opinion here may be a little biased, considering that I have a brother and we’re the only children. None the less, this movie is great. I was already a huge fan of Tom 
Hardy who is great in this film, but it was the performance of Nick Nolte (yes, I said Nick Nolte) who really just steals this for me. So moving, so emotional, so much more than a UFC fighting film.

5. Bridesmaids

Often called the woman’s version of The Hangover, which in my opinion doesn’t do it justice. Things we learned from this movie: Kristen Wig is a star… Women can do it too… Melissa McCarthy should be a household name. All in all, this movie is all kinds of funny.

4. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is back? He quite possibly could be with the amazing piece of work. This is any writer’s dream in screenplay form. I was so jealous while watching this movie. What I would give for this plot to be my life. The dialogue in this film is sharp, funny, and leaves you (or just me) yearning for more. I loved this!

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Strangely, I feel connected to these anthropoid mammals and their struggle for freedom… something seems awkwardly familiar about the whole thing… or maybe not. This Movie is as close to perfect as it can get. Improperly promoted, I went into this expecting something less deep. Andy Circus is the MAN!! And Caesar says NO!! Do more than go see this, buy it.

2. Shame

Steve McQueen is an amazingly powerful director. He was able to make something that I love so much, which is sex, seem so damn unsexy. Filled with long takes of superb acting by Michael Fassbender, who deserves and Oscar nod for this performance, and content that’s dark and provocative. This is definitely not for everyone. It’s quite disturbing. I have it ranked this high primarily because it’s not often that a film can make me feel that way this one did. It lingered in my head for days, made me question a lot about myself, and required the viewing of something light (preferably Disney) after. Definitely go see this! If you can handle it…

1. Drive

Gosling + Winding Refn = Great. Then sprinkle in Albert Brooks at his best and Sick 80’s music and you get Incredible. There’s not much I need to say about this film, it’s quite the Masterpiece. See it now!

Honorable Mentions
Meek’s Cutoff
I Will Follow
Sarah’s Key
Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Movies I haven’t seen yet that I believe would have been contenders
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Take Shelter