Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Funnies? I Report, You Decide (smile)

"Fair and Balanced" funnies. OK, this is filler for Monday, but before you call me sick, check out anything on 106th & Park on my favorite network (which ran "The Mack" recently--now I actually saw that. Pretty Tony should run for President), or VH-1 (Da Brat and "Screech" from Saved By the Bell sparring on Celebrity Fit Club; any damn thing on Flavor of Love Charm School?) or MTV. Or "Rush Limbaugh's "Barack De Magic Negro." (click on the fat scumbag's name and see what Arianna Huffington has to say). Enjoy your Mondays and discuss all of this stuff this at your lunch break.

The Devil's Mambo book lauch at Bar Sepia in Brooklyn was, as expected, too cool for for this planet; will get an update on Lori Bryant -Woolridge's events, and congratz/humungous ups to author Naomi Hirahara, one of our The Darker Mask folks, on her Edgar Award (Mystery Writers of America). More to come...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Book Parties: end of April

The Lord rested on Sunday but that doesn't mean you should. Check out two launch parties by my colleagues, Essence Bestseller Lori Bryant Woolridge and Senor Rogue Taino--Jerry Rodriguez--in the NY-NJ area.

Jerry: Sunday, April 29th @ 7:00pm-? Bar Sepia. Open bar (wine & beer) from 8:00-9:00234 Underhill Avenue (@ Eastern Parkway)(2,3 or 4 train to the Brooklyn Museum stop) call 718-399-6680 for info. Launch for The Devil's Mambo. If you can't make it, buy it on this blog along with Mike Gonzales' story in Bronx Biannual...
Click here to see trailers featuring the likes of Lauren (Oz, NY Undercover, I Like it Like That etc ) Velez and Paul (Pulp Fiction, Law & Order, The King of New York, Kss of Death etc) Calderone.

Lori: Sunday, April 29th @2:00pm Weapons of Mass Seduction Workshop/Launch Party Hosted by: Mothers Extraordinaire. Cafe Eclectic, 444 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042 call 973-509-9179 for info (space may be limited!) Buy it here on this blog, or run, fly, swim or brave the Garden State Pkwy (what exit?!) and get a signed one from Lori herself before she gets so big she has staff to ghostwrite her stuff...

Monday, April 23, 2007

RIP David & Juanita

David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Best and the Brightest, as well as twelve other books, has left us. Best and Brightest was the first political monograph I ever read as a student, and it's lessons bear review today. So now we're stuck with Tim Russert and Ann Coulter? Makes even a fiction writer like myself consider early retirement. And so went the Honorable Juanita Millender-MacDonald. The model of a public servant, e.g., someone who actually knew what that term means. She took over the term of a sadly corrupt, self-aggrandizing black politician in Compton; she's been re-elected for successive terms overwhelmingly ever since. Here was someone who showed fellow Californian Maxine Waters how one can be a House member, a role model and a strong black woman without being a harpy and a hypocrite. RIP folks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


No, I'm not talking about the Bush Adminstration and the cadre of bizarre GOP knuckleheads who want to pee all over Earth Day and global warming/climate change/Al "I'm getting as fat as Ted Kennedy" Gore. I'll let Sheryl Crow, Tom McGraw & Faith Hill carry that fight. Rather, though I don't usually promote scholarly monographs and papers, journal articles or items such as law reviews on this blog (unless it's my own stuff, fanboys & girls) I invite you to buy Dr. Gerald Powell's A Rhetoric of Symbolic Identity, an Analysis of Spike Lee's X and Bamboozled. Click on the title for a link to, or go to While X was seen as Spike's opus, "Bamboozled" was a very nuanced work even though the images slapped you in the face. Recall, a black TV executive, under pressure to produce a black "hit" and, having his more cerebral work shot down for something resembling a "Madea" sitcom (see how this presages the present issue?) comes up with an idea to revive old-time minstrel show/black face/ tap-dancing comedy (complete with Savion Glover!). The show even has a house band dressed in chain-gang, 1920s vintage attire! Among whites AND blacks, the sponsors--the show becomes a runaway hit! Complications follow...

Dr. Powell is a Ph.D in Philosophy (Howard University, my spouse's alma mater) and resides here in the nation's capital. He taught at St. Joseph's University in Indiana and is now with Coppin State University in Baltimore. He argues for a new rhetorical analysis of African American culture, and uses the study of the good, bad and ugly of Spike Lee's vision as the test case. Traditional tools of rhetoric are being molded to fit this new ethos, and it's about time. What's good for white geese isn't seen as good for black ganders, and it would have been cool to see academics like Dr. Powell on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. when the Imus thing broke, rather than the right wing turds like Hannity or Glenn Beck versus Snoop Dogg. Better still, Oprah should have had Dr. Powell on the panel with folks like Russell Simmons regarding contemporary Hip Hop's sickeningly bling/prison/gangsta/sex/bitch/ho/stripper ethos rather than "Mr. Toad" Stanley Crouch. hahaha

Whether you understand the arcane language of philosophy, arts & communications or not, this is a must read, for it will definitely help you build a framework for understanding the equally complex issues of race and culture in this country.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Resign...leave...get the f**k out!!!

When I worked for Janet Reno, right-wing clowns were constantly declaring her an enemy, a traitor, incompetent. They never backed it up because it was utterly ridiculous. Now we have an A-G who is unequivocably an incompetent fool at best, a lying hack at worst. Even Gonzales' own party wants him gone. This
is the office once occupied by Bobby Kennedy, by Nicholas Katzenbach, John Sherman. But Gonzales--as much a Hispanic as Clarence Thomas is black--is filling the shoes of scum like John Mitchell and Edwin Meese quite well. Oh and I chose that photo very carefully. That's Karl Rove there, folks. You didn't think the President was involved in any of this, did you? ;-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Dirty Secret about what it means to be human...

I don't care what you say, folks. Two things make us human. One side is the Va. Tech professor who survived a German death camp as a little boy, sacrificing his life to save his students. Kids he really didn't know personally. The side other is Cho.

And that's why the world is the way it is. Think about it. 32 people killed in Blacksburg? Well, 32 people were killed in Baghdad in one evening out of scores of evenings just like it. A thousand women the age of the girls shot at Va. Tech were raped or sold into sexual slavery in one month. A whole generation of children was scattered to the wind in Southern Sudan and Darfur. Someone bumps someone in line to see a film in St. Louis, the other person's in some dumbass rival crew; two young men suddenly lay dead and people who know what happened don't want to "snitch."

The folks who do all of these things, or fail to act to prevent them, thought they were utterly justified. Just like Cho Sueng-Hui thought he was utterly justified in murdering 31 people. Hey, we're only human...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

RIP Roscoe Lee Browne

I first saw him when I was barely in first grade and my uncle took me to see Alfred Hitchcock's spy flick Topaz (the equalivalent of me taking my little nephew to an "R" rated film). His bearing, his voice...amazing. So much so that anytime anyone needed a black actor who DIDN'T sound like they just got out of prison or off the farm, they got him. His voice was more patrician than James Earl Jones's, more mellifluous than Ossie Davis's. He was in Oscar-winning films, he was in cartoons, on Broadway, on TV. Now we're stuck with Tyrese...

From CNN: Actor Roscoe Lee Browne, whose rich voice and dignified bearing brought him an Emmy Award and a Tony nomination, has died. He was 81. Browne died early Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long battle with cancer, said Alan Nierob, a spokesman for the family. Browne's career ranged from classic theater to TV cartoons. He also was a poet and a former world-class athlete. His deep, cultured voice was heard narrating the 1995 hit movie "Babe." On screen, his character often was smart, cynical and well-educated, whether a congressman, a judge or a butler.
Born to a Baptist minister in Woodbury, New Jersey, Browne graduated from historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he later returned to teach comparative literature and French. He also was a track star, winning the 880-yard run in the 1952 Millrose Games.
Browne was selling wine for an import company when he decided to become a full-time actor in 1956 and had roles that year in the inaugural season of the New York Shakespeare Festival in a production of "Julius Caesar."
In 1961, he starred in an English-language version of Jean Genet's play "The Blacks."
Two years later, he was The Narrator in a Broadway production of "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," a play by Edward Albee from a novella by Carson McCullers. In a front page article on the advances made by blacks in the theater, the New York Times noted that Browne's understudy was white.
He won an Obie Award in 1965 for his role as a rebellious slave in the off-Broadway "Benito Cereno."
In movies, he was a spy in the 1969 Alfred Hitchcock feature "Topaz" and a camp cook in 1972's "The Cowboys," which starred John Wayne.
"Some critics complained that I spoke too well to be believable" in the cook's role, Browne told The Washington Post in 1972. "When a critic makes that remark, I think, if I had said, 'Yassuh, boss' to John Wayne, then the critic would have taken a shine to me."
On television, he had several memorable guest roles. He was a snobbish black lawyer trapped in an elevator with bigot Archie Bunker in an episode of the 1970s TV comedy "All in the Family" and the butler Saunders in the comedy "Soap." He won an Emmy in 1986 for a guest role as Professor Foster on "The Cosby Show."
In 1992, Browne returned to Broadway in "Two Trains Running," one of August Wilson's acclaimed series of plays on the black experience. It won the Tony for best play and brought Browne a Tony nomination for best featured (supporting) actor.
The New York Times said he portrayed "the wry perspective of one who believes that human folly knows few bounds and certainly no racial bounds. The performance is wise and slyly life-affirming."
Browne also wrote poetry and included some of it along with works by masters such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti and William Butler Yeats in "Behind the Broken Words," a poetry anthology stage piece that he and Anthony Zerbe performed annually for three decades.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Where have you gone, Jackie Robinson?"

"Whitefolks are-a marketing you to-day/Hey hey hey/Hey hey hey..."

(sorry for the Simon & Garfunkle parody all you young folks, but Young Jeezy and Ciara don't have baseball songs to bite on...)
This man was subject to murder threats, he was spit on by white ball players (who often slid into second, metal cleats high), and yet told not to fight back. Hard for a dude with a hair-trigger temper like Jackie's not to fight back, to bear it all with "dignity." They love it when we bear things with dignity or have to "understand the way things work," don't they? Well, the not-so-distant ancestors of same clowns who infest Fox News and talk radio/blogs attacked him daily. "Middle America" despised the man; had he manifested 10% of the vices and anti-social behavior of some of Major League Baseball's (MLB) iconic white players, Jackie would have been expelled from the game. And of course the Senator Joseph McCarthy's minions tried to shellack him as a communist, to which Jackie responded with the classic, "If the comunists are using treatment of Negro to their advantage, then who can blame them? Think about this: Jim Crow has been around longer than communism, and might be around long after communism's gone unless somebody does something!"

These are the same folks, corporations, manipulators of MLB who, this week in 2007, this week of Imus and Duke Lacrosse imbroglios, are turning this 60th anniversity of his joining the Brooklyn Dodgers as a feel-good marketing event.

I'll be even more blunt about MLB history, and feel free to call me a loon. If Negro League players had been in the majors from, say, 1919-on, no one would have heard of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle. Ty Cobb would've prospered, though, using his hatred of blacks as fuel. Would have been fun to see him sliding spikes-first toward Josh Gibson, and Josh knocking some of Ty's teeth out with his elbow at the baseline. Ty would've cursed, called him an infernal nigger, and come right back at him the next at-bat. Now that's some baseball! But alas, it didn't happen. You never would've known this history judging from the feel-good Disneyfication going on. We have to stop kidding ourselves when we try to bemoan an "obsession" with race. Race--like lawyers--was a defining element in the founding and development of this nation. Period. No debate. So can't we just be honest about what happened 60 years ago?

Note many black folks still use a phrase coined back in '47 whenever we face obtuse comments about affirmative action. It's called "the Jackie Robinson thing." You have to be three times better than them to be considered half as good. Think about it...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Last Word on Imus...

...from the Big Man himself, Jason Whitlock. Basically, we as black folks have to take responsibility for the ghetto/prison/stripper culture crap we allow our own people to put out there, unchallenged. Think I'm crazy? Check any Fox News show (Hannity, O'Reilley, etc.) or right wing blog or any conservative blowhard like Glenn Beck or my favorite dope fiend, Rush Limbaugh, and do you see the paeons to capitalism that you should see? E.g., GM, Procter & Gamble, Amex (g'head Ken!) got Imus off MSNBC, not Jesse, Al et al. Nope. You see these smarmy preppies (I've been dealing with boys like this my whole life) down at Duke, and endless references to folk like Snoop, Young Jeezy, even Diddy and Jay-Z, plus the crazy chick who accused the lacrosse players in the first place. Nevermind that the Rutgers young ladies are NOT Ron Artest, "Pacman" or Tank Johnson. Might as well be, as these are the type of athletes we laud. Check Jason's column and either rave or rage. One thing, if this matter got Al Roker back his black card (you should have seen the hate email he got from white people who thought they had him pegged as jolly and safe), then you know this was serious...

For lighter fare, be sure to pick up a copy of Jerry Rodriguez's new novel (see April 10 Post) and check out the trailer he filmed featuring actor Paul Calderon as Nick Esperanza. I'll be following up with views and reviews of new stuff by LA Banks, Trisha Thomas, Lori Byrant Woolridge and the new book trailer by Jonathan Luckett. Plus some ticklers on Nat Turner's own projects.

Check back after Tax Time, fanboys and girls...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Buy this Book!

Playwright, filmmaker-auteur and writer Jerry Rodriguez has, in down-home bamma parlance "put his foot in it." One of the best debut crime novels since my debut (just kidding). The Devil's Mambo is real noir. Not the retro fad we have today where clowns write about smelly alleys and darkened sidewalks. It's about characters & heart...and grit, guts. Nick Esperanza's already up there with Sam Spade, Coffin Ed & Gravedigger. Buy this damn thing. Now.

And check out the plays, short films, columns and body of work hightlighted on Jerry's site. Plus look for his boy, Charm City's own Michael Gonzales, online and newstands everywhere...even in Crawford, Texas, right Jenna?

Monday, April 09, 2007

History's for everyone

Amazing how the right wing clowns tend to allow me in their club whenever I check the History Channel and other chats discussing my upcoming historical novel (2008) Yella Patsy's Boys. They appear to excuse my "whining about slavery" as long as I get some good battle scenes in there. Particularly the USS Peacock vs. HMS Epervier in 1814, and the British invasion of the U.S., inclunding the attack on and burning of Washington, DC. Part and parcel of that will be two chapters on the heroic stand of Marines and black sailors on the Bladensburg Road, not too far from where I type this post. While the rest of the army and militia ran (shades of today--this included the very people who sabre-rattled for a dumbass war against England) a mottley crew of brothers and Marines under Commodore Joshua Barney became America's "300," holding off Royal Marines and the same troops who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte untile the bloody end, thus saving the President and half the Congress from capture. Osama bin laden himself couldn't have hoped for a better outcome after that--burning the White House and the Capitol Building to hulks. The punchline: black men fought on the other side. Hundreds of slaves flocked to the British and decided to give Mr. Charlie an asswhipping. They even ransacked the Capitol and had a little mock session of Congress in the smoldering wreck of the old Senate Chamber. Frankly Fox News would be a lot more charitable to Barack Obama if they fully understood that it was likely a black man who lit the first match on Dolly Madison's furniture. This particular little incident was the genesis of Yella Patsy's Boys...

So no matter how misguided their missions or igorant their commanders, I ALWAYS give my props to the USMC. And before redneck Congressmen laid down the law, fully 30% of the USN sailors in the Revolution and War of 1812 were black. In the Civil War we returned to the Navy; but in 1915 Princeton's "hero" Woodrow Wilson ordered total subjugation of blacks in the Navy, and we became mess boys until the latter days of World War Two. Gee, Woody Woo, were it not for black sailors blazing away at Bladensburg until death or capture, you'd still be back in Staunton Virginia whining about "darkies."

The flipside: the Bladensburg Battlefield has only recently been consecrated by the federal government and National Park Service. The campaign in the Cheasepeake marked the ONLY time the US was invaded...and we of course almost lost. (9-11 and Pearl Harbor don't count as invasions). We would have lost but for the heroic defense of Baltimore (believe it or not some morons of all ages have no clue where The Star Spangled Banner ...the song they sing at the beginning of ball games...comes from).
Now, in a twist of irony tailor-made for right wingers/Hannity/O'Reilly et al, the Bladensburg site is surrounded by a huge illegal alien community (Cheverly/South Hyattsville). Yes, Bill O'...they trash the park along the Eastern Branch and get drunk, drive like they are back in San Salvador--you happy now? And Sean & Rush, right across from the Peace Cross marking the heaviest action is a club called "Crossroads" (at the crossroads of US 1 and Route 450) which the Prince George's County Maryland government attempted to close due to shootings and assaults at Hip Hop and "Go-Go" (the distinctive DC regional drum-popping groove known nationally through Chuck Brown or EU in, e.g. "Doin' the Butt").

Proving again, history provides something for everyone. So, hail to you Leathernecks and black Jack Tars. Always remember this African proverb: "Only when lions get historians will lion hunters cease to be heroes."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Jesus wants you to claim the wealth you deserve. Jesus wants you to quit smoking.
Jesus wants you condemn queers. Jesus wants to bomb Iran. Jesus wants you to tithe often and in great amounts. Jesus wants you to support the expansion of the church to include a jacuzzi, media center and 12,000 seat auditorium. Jesus wants you to dance. Jesus wants you to stop dancing. Jesus wants you to tune into "Fox & Friends" every morning. Jesus wants you to only listen to my podcast. Jesus wants you to check the $100 box to defeat liberal candidates. Jesus wants you to stop snitching. Jesus wants you to loose 30 pounds. Jesus wants you to have that extra helping of potato salad. Jesus wants you to watch "Caddyshack" for the 75th time on HBO. Jesus wants you to obtain a concealed weapon permit. Jesus wants you to submit to your husband. Jesus wants you to forgive Rush Limbaugh for his drug addiction. Jesus wants you to have more children to offset the number of Hispanic and black babies being born. Jesus wants you to buy a stolen social security number and slip into the USA from Mexico so you can have more children. Jesus wants you to see Islam for the specious and barbarous "religion" it is. Jesus wants you to convert from Judiasm or else! Jesus wants you to stop bitchin' about gas prices and pay up and mock Al Gore. Jesus wants you to donate to Greenpeace. Jesus wants you to aim a shotgun at the Greenpeace boat. Jesus wants you to liberate animals. Jesus wants you to be buried with your jewelry in a $6000 casket as the choir sings His Eye is on the Sparrow with Cece Winans as guest soloist. Jesus wants you to marry a 17 year old girl as a new sister wife to the rest of your wives. Jesus wants you to disown your daughter for loving another woman. Jesus wants you to do what the Pope tells you. Jesus wants you to leave rehab. Jesus wants you to not to pay for those workers' health insurance, close that other plant so you can keep the stock prices high and improve those Third Quarter numbers so can get your bonus. Jesus wants you to forget your son's tuition and just g'head and buy that Hummer. Jesus wants you to kill in his name...
Interestingly, when I read about the agony, anguish and fear he suffered knowing he'd be nailed to a piece of wood and asphixiated, I recall him really only wanting is two things: Love your fellow man. Love God. Did he whisper any of this other bullcrap and I somehow didn't catch it?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oh and can I get a big butt and a 'tude with that shade?

Can you believe this silly ass movie (made in 03) but not released till now, is causing such a stir?
Slow Burn, stars a sad and paunchy Ray Liotta, plus LL Cool J, Mekhi Phifer and Taye Diggs (all of them likely grumbling how this is but one step above those made-for-BET or TVOne or Starz cheapies). Well uber-hottie Jolene Blalock, who makes you really really wanne be a trekkie as the first Vulcan to ever join Star Fleet, "T'Pol," on Star Trek: Enterprise, plays guess what--a sista. Her makeup was done by the same lady who turned Angelina Jolie into a Marianne Pearl in the film about the murder of Daniel Pearl, upon which I blogged this December. Jolene plays a white DA who's climbing to the top of the political ladder by pretending to be...Jeez...a light skinned black woman. I guess she's a "clean" role model in Joe Biden's lexicon. In the flick she's supposedly a darling with the media and the Sharpton and Michael Dyson types and the pastors and even the gang leaders (played by a middle aged LL Cool J...WTF?!). Everyone wants to bone her but only Ray, who's running for mayor, has that privilege. In any event, the movie's coming out, finally, and looks utterly bad (then again so was Showgirls and Basic Instinct and I know you dogs watched the hell out of them!!!).

A lot of black actresses have apparently voiced their dismay over this casting choice (n.b.--where were they back in 2003?); in Newsday Jesse Jackson, Sr. called this film "vulgar." Ha! And recall the TV furor in the last few seasons of NYPD Blue when Elizabeth Berkeley (yes she of Showgirls and old pervert's wet dreams in Saved by the Bell) played a light-skinned black woman. Even the LA branch of the NAACP, apparently taking a time out from choosing Image Award nominees, got into the act on that one. And yet of course no one but Zoe Saldana has had the balls to call out Angelina on the Marianne Pearl thing. Before you go reissuing Zoe's sistagurl card, she is the same dumb bitch who promotes her blackness to get some roles while punting it and proclaiming her His-panic-ness to get others. (I'm a 100% Latina, she says. Zoe, you're black. Just because you can salsa, you were still licking Nick Cannon's cashew nut head in Drumline.)

Here's the punchline. Ready?

... Jolene Blalock IS a sista. For real, her daddy's a light-skinned black man, ex-navy dude from San Diego. Her mamma's white. She pointed this out on E! recently and joked how silly people are for insinuating that she'd been "passing." I don't think you need to lie about your race to get into Maxim and FHM, true. For a bikini model she's actually quite smart and a little raunchy. She said she knew older trekkies who fantasized about Nichelle Nichols as "Lt. Uhura" (me being one). Now the younger fanboys and booger-eaters have another black woman to fantasize about in Star Fleet.

G'won Jo-lene! Live long and prosper, gurl. Now if Mo'nique finally admits she has a Klingon mamma blood, or Tyler Perry reveals he is actually new model of Borg withthe mission to assimilate us all, I'll die happy...