Banter on Tulips and a Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and John Coltrane, Outkast and Othello.


Vintage Veritas

So I'm sitting here playing Eric B. and Rakim...*doing the head whop from my chair* ("I aint no JOKE, I used to let the mike smoke, now I slam it when I'm done and make sure it's BROKE.") That was serious stuff. Of course I wasn't exactly all in the know back then. But I identified in my little "black-girl-who-wears-a-funny-uniform-because-she-goes-to-a-private-school-and-gets-clowned-because-she-can't-do-the-"Bobby Brown"-quite-right" way.

As I click on the next song in my playlist, De La's "Buddy", I'm not feeling obligated to the traditional blog mode tonight. Paragraphs and sentences seem so blah. So, as an "analog girl in a digital world" (shout out to Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun"), I'm shaking things up a bit. So sit on the curb, pour a glass of Crystal Pepsi or eat the faux Koolaid from a few Pixy Stix. Just be in the house by the time those streetlights come on. Announcing, my old school/new school edition of "Good and Betta"...

New School Good vs. Old School Betta

Bling... "Black medallion, no gold" (De La Soul)
Diamonds are a girls best friend. But they didn't need to sparkle when their lyrics shined

Leanin' back... the Whop, the Smurf, the Kid-n-Play
Joe says we don't need to dance and that's cool. But if you could nail these, you were so cool (my Jack and Jill buddies tutored me when they saw me floundering in my rhythmless abyss. *sniffle* Thanks guys!)

Queen Latifah singing showtunes... her singing "U-N-I-T-Y"
She deserves the mainstream recognition she's finally getting. But how fierce was this refrain?

Stankonia... Player's Ball
B.O.B. was hot , but not quite "coola than a polar bear's toenail."

"Holla" ... "2 Hype"
Hova made this phrase cool, but Kid-N-Play made theirs legendary. I still have a flourescent hat I etched the words on. With silver puffy paint y'all. Puffy freakin' paint!

Layered wrap... Asymmetrical two-tier with side parts
These days one style fits all, but raise your hand if you wanted to be Salt or Pepa (or Spinderella).

Cropped coat... Plastic red Michael Jackson jacket
Cute, classic looks are nice, but I begged my mom for one of these...and a Jheri curl, so I could have curly hey-ah. (She said I had "clean lost my mind." That's a direct quote. In retrospect, thanks Mom.)

Ciara... Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
Even the purist in me likes "1, 2 Step". But "Head to Toe" and "Take You Home" were untoppable. Still classic.

White ankle socks... Fluorescent colored socks mixed and matched
Perfect for those who rock vintage Adidas like me. But remember layering your two pairs of "slouch socks"? I had pink and green ones. I'd wear green and pink on the right foot, pink and green on the left. And when you put your ankles together, they'd look like checkers. Word up.

John Legend... Christopher Williams
"Ordinary People" is infectious. But this other light-skindeded brotha wore a song out. Anyone still "Dreamin"?

Chapelle's Show... In Living Color
I fall out when Rick James yells, "Unity, It's a celebration!" But the man with da git-taw "Wrote a song bout it, like to hear it? Here it go." (And I still snap three times in a circle for good measure.)

"G-g-g G-Unit" ... "The jungle, the jungle, the brothas, the brothas"
Fitty makes that money, but De La and Native Tongue made me love them


Hue Man at Harvard?

To swipe from Keith Murray, the most beautifullest thing in this world...is not loads of rain on a Monday. Definitely not.

This afternoon, I went to a cafe on Amsterdam to log a few hours of reading in. Yes, still on that same book. Same assignment. Yikes! Sounded like a good idea in my head, that was until I had to walk through a torrential downpour to get there. Note to self: natural twists and rain, not a good mix.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I'm in Harlem's Hue Man bookstore on Frederick Douglass, where they've invited Dr. Cornel West to speak about his role in Richard Bradley's controversial book, "Harvard Rules". He's very much on point. West tells the backstory of his departure from Harvard after the much beloved Harvard prez Larry Summers (do a search for ignant comments on women and intellect and he should come up) undercut his scholarship and role as a public intellectual. We all know that story. What I didn't know was that West, who went to Harvard as an undergraduate student, remains so torn over the experience that he refuses to wear his class ring. That momma gave him. That's deep.

As much as West had done for the elevation of black studies at the nation's most renowned institution of higher learning (and now does for Princeton), it makes you wonder how did we ever get to this? And who's to say it won't happen again to any black professor who won't "dance" so his university can increase their profit margin?

The subject matter was heavy -- race, class, education, the academy. Among the other details the night revealed was that West was once in a special ed class as a kid ("I had extra energy I had to channel" he said, wryly.) But, there were lighter spots where West showed us why he is currently still the most famous face of the Crimson.
On his interaction with Summers -- "I'm Christian,
but no pacifist. I'll slap a brotha upside the head very quick."

Can't deny the hilarious eloquence (or a forthcoming new rap CD! ... fodder for a future blog, my friends. LOL) West is West due to his lack of ambiguity. There's no asking what does this man think? Where is he coming from? He leaves everything on the table. And, with him, it's like Jay-Z says, "You can love me or hate me eitha or." I opt for the former.


The Way We Were

My sorority sisters and I at our annual ball Posted by Hello

(soundtrack - Dwele "Subject"/ Digable Planets "Pacifics")

So, like Outkast says in "SpottieOttieDopaliscious", "It's only 'bout 4 a.m." but this chica's not tired yet. I'm supposed to be finishing reading this 500-page book for an assignment, but my attention span is that of a fruit fly on red koolaid and crizzack. Yeah...it's like that. Like Dwele, "all I ever needed was a subject" to get these fingers typing. Turns out I have one.

I miss college y'all (sniffle).

Is there anyone who feels like it was the bright light of young adulthood that we, in our pursuit of grad school, careers and the stuff of life, now move rapidly away from? Onward we march down the abyss of never ending adulthood and a lifetime of taxes. Sigh.

Those four years, as much as I complained about how racist my school was (that's for a whole other blog), were the best. When else can you hit up the cafeteria on Saturday afternoons in pajama bottoms and Adidas slides? ...Shoot, even ashy feet (benefit of going to a white school). Though, my devotion to my momma's home training never did let me feel right about doing that. So, I didn't. But it was just about the idea that you could. That's freedom. Screw equal pay. Freedom is sporting ashy feet outside your dorm room and not caring...Somebody get Jesse on speaker phone. We're about to revamp our policy goals a bit.

The other things I miss, with five years of perspective, seem just as important. Random chats until 5 a.m. on our "life strategies" with my roomies N.G. and L.F. senior year. "Study" sessions that segueway into signifying marathons. And, If I was really black, I guess I'd miss all-night spades and dominos tourneys too, but those skills didn't come with my melanin package. Jumping double dutch either. Argh... Maybe I should have upgraded to African American 8.0?

I miss freshman year when Maya Angelou gave our riveting convocation speech (peppered with her singing "I'm on my journey now" in her moving contralto). I stayed afterwards to meet her. She told me I had a beautiful spirit. What an honor.

I miss "borrowing" printer paper from the computer labs and using as our justification the same refrain that all black "blue devils" used. "$30,000???!! I dare someone to tell me I can't." I loved that. Negroes have spunk. LOL

Then, there were the omnipresent house parties hosted by whatever three students (i.e. Kappas) decided to convert their Central campus apartments for weekend revelry. Much as I was predisposed for a lively party stroll to Mystikal's "Danger" or Outkast's live "So fresh and so clane clane!", or even bobbing to the infectious beat of D.C. gogo music (ask me about this on the record and I'll neither confirm nor deny). To my credit, I never did dabble in that shady "Nupe juice" in the punch bowl, though. Nope. My parents did raiseth not a fool.

I miss smirking as black student alliance meetings would turn into sermons on the mount, with people speechifying about "the man". Many of these same students would almost need to stop the meetings early to ask, "Is that the alarm to my Lexus jeep going off in the parking lot?" The revolution, apparently, though not televised, had all-wheel drive and power steering. LOL

I miss the floral scent of North Carolina springs. Packed-in-car group trips to Wal-Mart. Learning how to perm my own hair without putting my eye out. Learning to depend on friends like family. Gospel choir rehearsals. That one choir tour where we traversed the East Coast in what seemed to be the Rosa Parks original bus. Working in a sorority. Becoming a writer. Firsts. Like interviewing Tommie Smith (1968 Olympic gold medalist who got his medal snatched for his black power stance on the medal podium) for our student paper. After I spoke with him that February in 2000, he gave me a signed photo with these words: "Time is Now".

Mr. Smith was right. It is. Still, it's nice to look back.

Because four years are forever.


Happy Easter

Easter reminds me that the cycle of life springs eternal. Far be it from me to speechify but Jesus lived this example. So, when I'm challenged to find positivity in my surroundings, it makes me smile to realize that he watches out for me. Enjoy your weekend with family and friends and remember to, as Jill Scott sings, "live your life like it's GOLDEN" Because it is.

Happy Easter!


My Maiden Voyage

I'm so excited. Launching my very own blog. Wow, I feel like I should give a speech. I'd like to first thank my late goldfish Shiner (pouring a bit of aquarium water for my lil homie who aint here). "Mayin, they was tryin ta tell us we wasn't gonna be nobody, but look at us man, look at us!!" Sorry about that, just had to take a moment.


Okay, I'm cool now. I guess I should introduce myself. I live in New York and am very excited about life, people and the idea that I actually get paid to do something I LOVE. What a blessing.

I thought I'd share a little about myself...

-I'm a writer.
-I grew up in southern New Jersey (Willingboro, where Carl Lewis and City High are from...you know the group that did "What would you do?" Heard of them, right? Right? LOL
-I'm based in New York, working as a research assistant/freelance journalist. The rest of my time is spent listening to music, contemplating the world, or watching my faves, ANTM and Half and Half.
-I just finished a nine month internship at a national magazine.
-I own a copy of Earth, Wind and Fire's greatest hits (volume one and two) They're the bomb. My all time favorite group (Philip Bailey's falsetto on "Fantasy" is out of this world.)
-I like Harlem. It's diverse and quiet. Lovely on Sunday mornings when I walk to church. It makes me happy to go to a siddity church. I like to look at the who's who of black Harlem, like I might of had I been around during the Renaissance.
-Oh, by the way, I love all people, and because I happen to be one, especially black people. Most black people, that is. (see Chris Rock, for further explanation)
-My brother makes me proud. He's a straight arrow -- principled, disciplined, kind and funny (on the low). Most people think he's quiet. But, that's his hustle. (smile). He fools you.
-I love the fact that I have such good friends. All with different personalities. All quite the hilarious. That's really a blessing.
-I visit my family a lot.
-I am an oldest child. We were all born about 4.5 years apart.
-I can be extroverted and introverted by turns. People who don't know me generally think I'm reserved and quiet. Much in contrast to those who know me. They think I'm outgoing. I can be a "Chatty Cathy" when I'm excited about something.
-I laugh a lot. What cracks me up the most is sarcasm, irony. Faves are Seinfeld and Dave Chapelle (*singing* "Unity, it's a celebration!")
-I may be the only black person in the world who hasn't mastered spades and certainly the only black girl who can't jump double-dutch! (The rhythm always threw me off, probably due to all those years in private school). I always had to be "permanent turner" and then Boomquisha or Starletta from up the block would tell me, "You turnin' doublehan-ted!" No one could tell me what that meant though. LOL
-When I was little my dad used to quiz me on Motown songs. So, I've developed this sort of encyclopedia in my head. Play the first five seconds of any song from that era, or 70's R&B and I can pop out with the name, artist, issue date. It's sort of "Rainman"-esque LOL
-I know the words to "Can't you Feel a Brand New Day" from "The Wiz", which by the way, is my all-time favorite movie. A bit of trivia -- that song was written by Luther Vandross (words and music). I only know that because I recently looked at the liner notes (my parents still have the original record...that's priceless)
-My favorite part is the sequence with the snooty people who live in Oz. I used to wear my mother's coat and dance in front of the TV when that part came on. (*singing* "You got to be seen in green, to show that your stuff is layed. If you're not seen in green, you better be wearing jade!")
-My favorite song from that movie is "You Can't Win". Barring his current trouble, Michael was the greatest. The boy tore it up. Sigh...I still remember that poster of him with the yellow vest/ bowtie on. Old-nose Michael was fine.
-If I had to be a character in "The Wiz", I'd want to be one of the dancers from the Oz sequence...or Miss One.
-Let's see, my other fave is the Five Heartbeats (it was sooo underrated) You might not want to watch the movie with me though, I know all the words. Especially Eddie's parts. (*singing* "I got nuthin but love for you bay-bay. Got nothin but love for you bay-bay") The best part is when they tear it up at the Apollo. Eddie Kang brought the house down.
-I think my soulmate will be someone who marches to his own beat, meaning he's not someone who's imprisoned by conventionality (is that a word?). I think he'll appreciate the written word and music. I hope he'll be taller than me (I'm 5'8)
-I think good guys are good listeners and have a sense of humor. Also, they value their mommas. (smile)
-In the meantime, I'm fortunate for family and friends who cheer me on.
-Let's see...a few of my favorite things -- warm weather, driving, Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane duets, Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks, The Roots, old Talib Kweli, writing, of course. It's like breathing to me, my CD player...don't know what I'd do without being able to listen to Curtis Mayfield or Jill Scott... I guess, I would hum to myself, but that would be wack :) , reading Newsweek, the New Yorker and the old Savoy.
-I could be found guilty for overuse of the word "Hype"
-Favorite songs are "Keep Your Head to the Sky" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "Another Star" by Stevie Wonder and "Award Tour" by Tribe Called Quest. A close runnerup is "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield. Basically I like most of what was recorded by black people in the 70's.
-I think that "everything in it's time" is a good way to approach your life ethos. Things will happen when they are meant to happen.
-The best place I've been on vacation is West Palm Beach, Fla. Ahhh. So dreamy. I think the place I want to visit next (again) is New Orleans. I love the spirit of that place. So many different cultural influences. So fun.
-I'm grateful to say that at 25, I've written for my dream magazine and have been published in a book. They were both dreams last year that came true. I'm thankful for that.
-I've been to Martha's Vineyard and no I don't think that makes me "boogie" (LOL)
-My favorite sport to watch is basketball (college hoops -- Go DUKE!!)
-My favorite sport to play growing up was soccer. I played sweeper (the last defender before the goalie). I also ran track. (My mom still has pictures where I'm running with my sky blue "Get in Shape Girl" headband on. Mom, please don't show those to anyone!
-I feel sorry for Bobby and Cracky...I mean Whitney. It's a sad study of what drugs will do to ya. I hope the best for them.
-The best writers around today, I think, are Jonathan Alter and Malcolm Jones (Newsweek) and Hilton Als (New Yorker). I love their work.
-I keep hearing rumors that a Tribe Called Quest is getting back together. (I hope so!!)
-I like to debate, especially when I don't really know what I'm talking about. I like to see how far I can get on braggadocio and sans real facts...LOL
-I don't make any appointments before 11 a.m. if I can help it.
-I call my grandmother Sweetie Pie. We started calling her that a long time ago and it stuck. She, at 84, is the greatest. The Louisville lady taught me the importance of art and can rock a hat/ fur coat like no one else I've ever seen. Has three walk-in closets, all packed. Like Jay Z, says, "can't knock the hustle furreal".