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


Jive Turkeys in Blue Badges

"Why am I wearing handcuffs?" - D'Angelo, "S---, D---, M--------"

My Thanksgiving weekend was filled with new friends and old… mac and cheese…greens and, of course, poultry. And, a healthy dose of… being harassed by the man, lest I forget my melanin quotient. Let me explain. I’m from a suburb where black folks are the majority. This is evident in the preponderance of soul food restaurants, the sightings of young cornrowed lads with white-on-white Urrr Force Ones and white tees, and by the stacks of Glory greens on grocery markdown right before the T-day feast. So, being from such a place, one would expect that the police would somehow be acculturated to the more melanin endowed among us. Not exactly.

My brother and I were sitting outside the local library a few nights ago making smart use of the free wireless access from the comfort of his rental car, a candy apple red Mazda 6. What nefarious pursuits where we engaging in? Um… checking our e-mail. Lol. Suddenly, out of nowhere comes the 5-0. Two cops approach the car from each side. Each bares a flashlight and shines it in our faces. I put the window down and purposefully overenunciate, explaining to the officer on my side of the car that we are using the "In-ter-net." (My mind thoughts continued —"Not plotting to blow up the building. Not soliciting the crack man. Not even evading Mr. IRS".) The cop tells me to talk to the other one, who happens to be of the Caucasian persuasion (I guess he is the boss man.) So, I lean over the driver’s seat, from my passenger’s side and speak to the other officer. "Hi there. We’re just using the Internet." The officer asks me, "Are you students here?" (He gestures to the community college right next to the library.) I explain, "We are using the library’s Internet." (And since when do you have to be enrolled at a community college to use free local Internet?) My younger brother, the most kind, non-threatening black man one could encounter, who just so happens to be an oak solid 6’4", panders to the cops, perhaps in a lesson taught by my dad. "We are [Ourtown] residents, sir." The cop, after looking in the car, changes his focus and explains that the reason we were approached is that we are sitting in a handicapped spot.

Um, right… That spot, as well as all of the other spots in the lot were unoccupied. Why? Cause the freaking library was closed!!! Our lights and engine were on, indicating that we were not parked there permanently, but standing. I start to explain this to the cop, in perhaps not the nicest of tones (by now my inner Aquanetta, fresh off of yet another law school application and armed with a basic knowledge of Constitutional rights, is nearing the surface). My brother hushes me up. "[Mahogany,] Let’s just move to another space. It’s not worth all of this." When the bossman cop agrees to his promise to pull away, my brother sighs and says to me, "Listen, I don’t mess with cops." I marinate on that for a second. It’s probably the best survival strategy for a black man. The status quo is unfortunate, but I guess his methodology is crucial to the endgame of staying alive as long as possible. And, granted we were not being beat down like Rodney King. They did not ask for our working papers like in apartheid South Africa. And, granted, they did not make us get out, spread our arms and legs and sing like on the Five Heartbeats. Lol. But, call me stupid, call me rash, call me uppity. I can take it. But, I’ll be Boo Boo the daggone Fool, if I’m going to let some cop unduly harass me without cause.The day I see people in less diverse communities being questioned while sitting in front of a library with a laptop inside their own, not-stolen car is the day that I will shuffle along and display my teeth, while singing a rousing rendition of "Ole Man Rivah." And, I’ll cap that mess off with a spirited tap dance complete with "jazz hands." But, until then…

(In other news -- For everyone wishing to know how the "In this Corner..." music battle turned out, I'm waiting for more votes. I promise to post the results soon.)


And, in this corner...

Now playing: "The Food," Common / "Imaginary Player," Jay-Z
So admittedly, I’m negligent y’all… I haven’t had time to write with this lengthy commute, long hours and yada, yada. Lol. So, grab a spot on the couch and let’s get reacquainted, shall we? How was your week? Catch the UPN lineup on Monday? Hear that Jennifer Hudson will be filling the shoes of Jennifer Holiday in “Dreamgirls”? That girl can blooow! I can’t wait...

The mild weather here in the Apple has put me in a delightful mood today. I came into work listening to a radio battle between Prince and Michael Jackson. You know my soft spot for old-nose Mike, but I realized that sometime between “Purple Rain” and “Human Nature”, that I was really torn. Two of the greatest geniuses of our musical time and we have to pick a winner? Impossible… (Okay, you twisted my arm. Mike still wins but only because Prince was contraband growing up in my house.)

Listening this morning reminded me of how many other heavyweight match-ups (old school of course) there could be. So, get out your dusty 8-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs and gasp…I-Pods and tell me who’s the best of these fantastic four. I’ll post the winners later this week.

Sisters with Voices — Chaka Khan vs. Patti Labelle
Anyone who’s heard Patti belt out “Lady Marmalade”, “Isn’t it a Shame” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” could join me in the first pew of her Pentecostal On the Way to Jordan, By the Way of the Cross, up the Rough Side of the Mountain, Holiness Assembly Church of Labelle. Lol. But listen to Chaka blow on “I’m Every Woman”, “I Feel For You” or “Hollywood,” and you just have to chant, “Chaka. Chaka. Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan!” So, whose chops do you bank on?

Battle of the Baritones —Isaac Hayes vs. Barry White
I swear every time my dad played “By The Time I get to Phoenix” I’d complain. The song took so long to get started, I’d say, I could get my petutie to Phoenix before Isaac was finished. But they didn’t call him “Black Moses” for nothing. Listen to his take on the Jackson Five’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” or the theme from “Shaft” and you’ll be ready to join him on the mountain. Lol. But, Barry White, who would probably beat Luthah as the man responsible for starting the most black families in the U.S., was just an icon. His rap on “So Much To Give” is one for the ages. Not to mention his classic, “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up.” So musically, who truly gives it up?

Dolce Duets — Tammi and Marvin vs. Roberta and Donny
Listen to Tammi and Marvin sing “Heaven Must Have Sent You From Above, or “You’re all I Need to Get By” and you realize why they were rumored to be together. Their voices blend together perfectly, their enthusiasm matched only by the pounding percussion of Motown’s house band. The duo, who both prematurely passed, thankfully left their legacy for us to still enjoy. So, fortunately, did another guy who left us too soon — Donnie. When he sang “The Closer I Get to You” with Roberta and my fave, “Back Together Again”, there was no question that their best moments were performing together. The hard question is which duo triumphs?

Get in the Groove — Parliament-Funkadelic vs. James Brown
Sing it with me y’all…“With the groove our only guide, we shall all be moved. [Feet don’t fail me now!]” When George Clinton begins his incantation on “One Nation,” you fall under the power of his cloak of many colors. Head starts bobbing. Feet start tapping. Dance, the funk summons you. Lol. And don’t even crank up “Flashlight” or even think about playing “Atomic Dog” lest you want to get mauled by a pack of Ques. But does the President of Funk stand a chance against the Godfather of Soul? He who jammeths to “Super Bad” or “Gonna Have a Funky Good Time” has often been thought to jammeth the best. But James against the intergalatic funktasticness? You be the judge.


Non Sequitur(s)

Now playing: "Here's That Rainy Day", Astrud Gilberto /"Make This City Ours", Sarah Vaughn / "Fair Weather", Chet Baker

I spent the weekend catching up on my old cinema. Watched "Claudine" for the first time. I know, I know... I wondered why I had never come across it before. Anyway, Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones were so cute. And regal. Together, they battled poverty, life circumstances and da welfare man to carve their little niche in the world. Reminded me of James Baldwin's "If Beale Street Could Talk" albeit with a funkier soundtrack, sung by Miss Gladys and her Pips and penned by Mr. Curtis Mayfield. (Including one of the favorite songs, "The Makings of You". *singing* "Add a little sugar / Honeysuckle and / A great big expression of happiness") Aside from one, "Mama please, muh muh mama, what we gon' do, mama?" scene ... I thought it was a good flic.

I also watched "Fame" for the first time since the late 80's. I never thought about it before, but that movie is so daggone depressing. Geez Louise. I know everyone gets together for a rousing rendition of "I Sing the Body Electric" at the end, but the getting there is really melodramatic. One kid grapples with poverty and not being able to protect his little sister from abuse... another comes painfully to grips with his identity... yet another with the fact that he has omnipresent dusty cornrows and cut-off sweatshirts (Lol... Okay, I won't mess with L-E-R-O-Y. That was my boy!)

Speaking of cornrows and the black aesthetic, earlier this week, I saw a gentleman of the Caucasian persuasion with a Kufi (knit cap) on in Port Authority. I actually think that’s a first for me. Oddly enough, as much I have seen the majority folks interpreting the "ethnic other" through rapping (see 8 Mile) and song (see Justin Timberlake), I have never seen a white dude in a Kufi. I guess there is a first time for everything.

Speaking of first times, yesterday my faith is modern music took another blow. A friend sent me the link to Mr. Kevin Federline’s hip-hop debut. Um... right. So, I made it to the part where he complained of the"Pavarottis" chasing after him, at which point I had to shut it off. Poor, poor man. And, our poor, poor abused English language. Lol.

Speaking of English, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles took to the U. S. this week for their stateside tour. I must say, that in spite of my urge to make fun of the woman who has been compared to a horse and worse, she looked quite the fashionista in her fuschia suit and natty pumps. Not bad for a home-wrecking mugly mistress. I guess all's well that ends well. Free from scampering about under the cloak of darkness, now all she has to do is wave and smile for the cameras.

So, my new theory is skip writing, skip law school. I should like to be a royal as well. Me thinketh my title would be the Duchess of Harlemworld

Toodles *smile*