Thursday, May 31, 2007


It's Reunions time at Princeton, and as this is a "big" one I'm off on hiatus. To the left is a photo from my 20th reunion a few years ago hahaha. Indeed, "Liar's Dice" wasn't invented by "Davy Jones " on the Flying Dutchman, but rather at Tiger Inn. I'm excited...nervous. Should be great!

Will be halting briefly at Book Expo America at the Javits Center in NYC, and kvetching with my book agent. A friend who runs an African American-themed bookclub in North Carolina asked me what the "African American Pavilion" was at BEA. One of her clubmates came to BEA here in DC last year, and while she was caught up in the "star-gazing" and the flurry of bodies, it didn't appear much got done. Well, I've always considered this our own personal Soweto, our sad Indian reservation chaulked off by "Mr. Charlie and Missy Anne." Inside our compound, we are free to the self-indulgent and the mediocre stuff flooding the "Black" section of your local Barnes & Noble. ;-) It's sad when we celebrate--even encourage--being shoved off in a corner.
Still, I'm looking to hanging my fellow authors, even if it's only for a hot second before I race back to Ol' Nassau...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Do you think anyone really noticed?

Interesting gesture. Futile,too. More so because of the thousands of infantile crappy books which should be on pyre.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used-book store, Prospero's Books. His collection ranges from best-sellers, such as Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" and Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities," to obscure titles, like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn't even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full. So yesterday, Mr. Wayne began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word. "This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Mr. Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books. The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Mr. Wayne didn't have a permit for burning. Mr. Wayne said that next time, he will get a permit. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply -- estimated at 20,000 books -- is exhausted. "After slogging through the tens of thousands of books, we've slogged through, and to accumulate that many and to have people turn you away when you take them somewhere, it's just kind of a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "And it's a good excuse for fun." Mr. Wayne said he has seen fewer customers in recent years as people more often get their information from television or the Internet. He pointed to a 2002 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, which found that fewer than half of adult respondents reported reading for pleasure, down from almost 57 percent in 1982. Kansas City has seen the number of used-book stores decline in recent years, and there are few independent bookstores left in town, said Will Leathem, a co-owner of Prospero's Books. "There are segments of this city where you go to an estate sale and find five TVs and three books," Mr. Leathem said. The idea of burning the books horrified Marcia Trayford, who paid $20 Sunday to carry away an armload of tomes on art, education and music. "I've been trying to adopt as many books as I could," she said. Dozens of other people took advantage of the book-burning, searching through the books waiting to go into the flames for last-minute bargains. Mike Bechtel paid $10 for a stack of books, including an antique collection of children's literature, which he said he'd save for his 4-year-old son. "I think, given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it's the best way to do it," Mr. Bechtel said. "[Wayne has] made the point that not reading a book is as good as burning it."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

The HBO Special was certainly a Dick Wolf short attention span formula job, he of Law and Order. Short and sweet, painful but with none of the scope of the orginal book by Dee Brown. That book was a landmark of American non fiction, and told the story of the American West through the eyes of native peoples (not just the specific Lakota Sioux story). Of course when it came out, the tag Mr. Charlie and Missy Anne used then and today was "revisionist history." Hmmm...notice how it's always telephone pole in the butt white people who toss around that term? I recall a brutal fight in Texas instigated by friends for Governor Perry and President Bush in reponse to the remake of The Alamo (when Billy Bob played David...the real one HATED to be called "Davey" and wore the coonskin cap as a PR gimmick...Crockett). They wanted the John Wayne version enshrined as fact, even though every historian in the universe know it was all bullshit. But how did they attack it? The smart Dubya-neo con-Fox News way. They said it was kowtowing to the Mexicans. Revisionist history. Ha! That wasn't true either. But when you challenge these scared myths, you get more than push-back. To this day, the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee raises eyebrows...

The powder puff version on HBO only made mine twitch a bit, with the exception of the pain of Dr. Charles Eastman, Sioux educated at Dartmouth. (Dartmouth was and still is a place Indians can go for free). Yanked between two worlds. Now that was powerful stuff. You see the destruction of a people and the literal re-assignment of the survivors to fit the white world through his eyes at the end.

Now if you're a brother, before you go gnash your teeth and slap the first smarmy white boy you see (I'm headed to my Princeton Reunion next weekend, so that's a target-rich environment), just recall this. Indians were displaced and exterminated. But they were treated as a people. Distinct nations, cultures--even feared and respected in a twisted way.

We weren't. Think of what was happening with Reconstruction, and then the eventual ascendency of terror, oppression and Jim Crow during this 1868-1890 period covered in Bury My Heart? Which explains the dissonance of WE, black people, mounted as the 9th and 10th Cavalries--"Buffalo Soldiers"--doing a lot of this killing. Actually...the irony, the dissonance, flows from one source. know what?...maybe you SHOULD go ahead and key door of the SUV of that smamry white guy frat rat you hate on your job. Or if you're white, yeah--feel guilty. Question and icon or two. Turn a sacred cow into a Big Mac. All stupid and futile gestures? Sure. But it will steel your soul. Just ask Sitting Bull, even Red Cloud. Fight the power. Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell: a defense?

Did it ever occur to these right wing fools that these fights are provoked if not orchestrated? Look, the favorite epithet is "big fat loud liberal lesbian" (as opposed to a nice lithe silent dyke like Dick Cheney's daughter and her wife...oops...thart's against God's law, isn't it, Mr. Vice President?). Ad hominem attacks like that show a dipstick where a true lead rod should be. The chick's got brass and ain't stupid. It's no contest. Elizabeth Hasselback is a walking allegory for every suburban housewife in the Sunbelt who can spend time getting pedicures and dropping the kids off in a Benz SUV...and lambasts women who have to get up, tend the kids AND go to a real job. Check out what my cousin comically said: "She's the sweetheart of Gamma Gamma Ho, stuck on the equally dense quarterback type who but for him being born an attractive white male in America, he'd be living in a highway drainage culvert!" Hahahaha. Know what I mean? Come on--you know you DO! Look, as "obnoxious" as Rosie is, do you REALLY think Hasselbeck's her intellectual equal? That plus Joy Behar and that fat sista just sitting there supports my thesis that this whole thing was a set-up.

Now as to THE thing, we all know that Saddam Hussein, our former ally, had nothing to do with 9-11. He even quelled the extemist factions in Iraq (holding the crap together by fear and violence the way Tito held Yugoslavia). The invasion, the whole thing was a bizarre political opera (I've give you the details later, but it being close to Memorial Day, I wouldn't want to be accused of not supporting the troops). We'd 've been better off invading western Pakistan. Lawd. ;-) Anyhow, it's easy to see how someone like Rosie would've made the comment she did, thus setting-up the right wing pundits to help their ratings, in turn. All Rosie said was to Elizabeth was "Hey do you really believe the hateful crap they are saying about me? Even if you don't agree with my opinions, as a colleague, blah blah, a woman, a castmember, even friend--do you have my back?

Elizabeth didn't. If I were Rosie, I'd have kicked her ass...were this real life. And there, fanboys & girls, is the punchline...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stay tuned: Cora Daniels, Ghetto Nation

Coming soon! A frank, not-to-miss interview with author-journalist Cora Daniels on her recent book, Ghetto Nation: A Journey into the Land of Bling and the Home of the Shameless. Are there negative elements of contemporary black culture that are transforming, even swallowing-up, our strides in business, religion, the arts, education--even politics? What are the consequences for the general society in the United States? Internationally? Well, come take a look as you digest your Memorial Day potato salad. You demand better. I give it to you. You can purchase a copy on through my website, on the "What I'm Reading" page.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Yet more reasons to buy a good book...

And don't forget Tyler Perry's "House of Payne" arrives soon on TBS. This offsets the good news that the CW network is cutting all of those sad-ass black sitcoms. Hopefully someone will end "Girlfriends" misery as well, now that Jill Marie Johns is doing liquor commercials. Worse still, BET and TVOne have seemed to re-affirm their slave status to 10Qs and de massas who truly run the show, and are quietly renegging on their very public pledges to us folk that they are looking for new, fresh, original quality black programing (hell, even news and documentaries!). If we don't demand this stuff, we won't get it. But then again, look below at what's up in Mr. Charlie & Missy Anne's world, so I guess we'll all suffer together...

NEW YORK - (AP) ABC scheduled its "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff for Wednesdays and committed to a comedy derived from the Geico "Cavemen" commercials as part of an ambitious schedule with eight new series for the fall and 11 overall.
The third-place network lost an average of a million viewers in prime-time from last season, many attributable to the end of "Monday Night Football." With bankable hits "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives" and "Dancing With the Stars" returning, ABC is giving viewers plenty of new choices in the fall.
That approach contrasts with fourth-place NBC, which is introducing half as many new series under the theory that it's tough to market so many new shows.
The most anticipated new ABC series is "Private Practice," which takes Dr. Addison Shepard (Kate Walsh) from Seattle and moves her to Los Angeles. A special "Grey's Anatomy" that served as the show's pilot was seen by 21 million people earlier this month. The new series will air Wednesdays at 9 p.m., part of a night with all-new programming.
Despite the high hopes, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson indicated Tuesday that creator Shonda Rhimes has work ahead of her.
In the pilot, he said, "we spent a lot of time introducing the characters and not enough time introducing the stories."
"Cavemen" takes the commercial characters and sets them up in Atlanta, trying to live like normal guys in their 30s. The series pokes fun at the normally serious topic of racial attitudes, but since they're cavemen "it gives you kind of the ability to offend everybody but offend no one," McPherson said.
The pilot has already gotten some poor word-of-mouth, but McPherson urged caution. Out of 17 drama pilots ABC tested before audiences last season, eventual hit "Ugly Betty" did worse than all but one, he said.
After serial dramas on dark topics failed last season, ABC leaned more toward series that don't need an intense commitment to follow. Lighter, fantasy-oriented topics are also evident, with series on a lawyer with visions, a man who can bring dead people to life and ambitious executives.
"People didn't show up for these shows (last year)," McPherson said. "It wasn't a matter of seeing a show and rejecting it. People didn't show up. So we listened to that."
The network canceled the comedies "George Lopez," "Help Me Help You" and "Knights of Prosperity." "What About Brian" did not make the cut, and ABC is still debating the future of "According to Jim," while leaving it off the fall schedule.
The cancellation angered Lopez, who complained in the Los Angeles Times that his comedy about a Latino family is being dumped in favor of cavemen.
"TV just became really, really white again," Lopez said.
The first prime-time series from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions, "Oprah's Big Give," will debut in midseason. It's a reality series where contestants compete in philanthropy.
In contrast to last year, when "Grey's Anatomy" made its successful switch to Thursday nights, ABC plans no major shifts of its existing series. "Men in Trees" moves to an earlier time slot on Friday nights.
"Lost" will return in midseason, but ABC made no time slot commitment.
Other new series that ABC plans for next season:
_"Pushing Daisies," a "forensic fairy tale" about a young man who can bring dead people to life with his touch. He does that for his childhood sweetheart, only to learn that if he touches her again, she's dead for good.
_"Dirty Sexy Money," a trashy prime-time soap about the venal Darling family of New York. Family members include Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin and Jill Clayburgh.
_"Big Shots," a drama about four hard-charging friends and CEOs who are less successful with women. Dylan McDermott, Christopher Titus, Joshua Malina and Michael Vartan play the lead characters.
_"Cashmere Mafia," ABC's attempt to inherit the "Sex and the City" mantle. Four women, friends since business school, juggle their personal and professional lives in New York. NBC has a similar new show with three women. ABC's show has Lucy Liu; NBC's has Brooke Shields.
_"Sam I Am," a comedy with Christina Applegate about a woman who awakes from a coma with no memory, only to find out she was a creep before.
_"Eli Stone," a drama about a top lawyer in San Francisco who begins having visions because of a brain aneurysm, only to find his firm has a bunch of creeps.
_"Women's Murder Club," a drama, is also set in San Francisco. Based on James Patterson novels, it's about four crime-fighting women _ a detective, district attorney, medical examiner and reporter.
_"Carpoolers," a comedy about four men from different backgrounds who get together each day for some male bonding on the drive to work.
_"Miss/Guided," a comedy about a former high school geek who returns to her alma mater as a guidance counselor, only to see an ex-cheerleader and former nemesis come back as an English teacher.
Time to hit the public libraries, the indie book stores, etc. folks. Millions of minds are a terrible thing to waste.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Interview with Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher: the Clarence Thomas Biography

Kevin Merida is an associate editor at The Washington Post. He recently coordinated the acclaimed "Being A Black Man" series for the paper; he's covered cultural and politcal beats inside and outside The Beltway, including the First Gulf War and the Invasion of Panama. Michael Fletcher is on the front line as a Post White House correspondent. He was formerly the paper's national race relations correspondent and you may've seen Michael's talking head on BET's "Lead Story" and MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on any given night.

These two gentlemen are the authors of the new & controversial biography of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas. They took the time to speak to me the day after a very successful roundtable discussion on the book at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here in the Nation's Capital moderated by USA Today reporter Joan Biskupic and legendary constitutional scholar/Supreme Court Professor Mark Tushnet. Brothers, welcome. First let me laud you on an amazing job laying open and analyzing such a closed life and complex personality. This book could not have come at a better time, as Justice Thomas, molded by the diverse and divergent forces in his life, is starting to have a critical influence on ALL of our lives: our pocketbooks, our environment, our health, our civil rights, our civil liberties--now that Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito have joined him on the Court.

So let me start with this--how did you both come to this project? Did your backgrounds with the Washington Post and the political beats you cover fuel your interest, and Clarence Thomas was always a person begging in-depth study—or were you encouraged to write this by editors and/or a political insider you cover?

We were both intrigued by the passion that is stirred by the mere mention of Clarence Thomas’s name. There are no soft opinions about him, particularly among African Americans. We were once at a going-away party for a black professional friend and Justice Thomas’s name was harmlessly invoked. Just like that, a raging debate was kindled, drawing people from across the room. That gave us the idea that Justice Thomas would be a great subject to explore in a deep way. Beyond the strong opinions about him, he arguably the most powerful African American in the country and someone who is likely to be a historic figure. And given our reporting backgrounds--we’ve both written extensively about race and politics--we thought we were well-positioned to do the book.

You interviewed many public figures and public officials—including former President George H.W. Bush —yet you describe your efforts to get a word with your subject as “an intricate chess game.” Can you describe your efforts to talk to the brother, why his denial may illuminate his personality? Do you think if, say, Ann Coulter, Bernard Goldberg or even Rush Limbaugh desired a print or an on-air word from him on any subject, Thomas would feel more comfortable complying?

We worked hard to try to get an interview with Justice Thomas. We talked to him on the sidelines of several speeches, hearings and conferences. We also wrote him six or seven letters. And while he was friendly and approachable, he never wavered from his position not to grant an interview. We think he is distrustful of the press. In one encounter, he told Kevin the exact date of an article that he found offensive. The remarkable thing was the piece had been written 20 years earlier and was a standard piece of journalism, hardly a hatchet job. We believe it illustrates how much he has been scarred by the confirmation process and the cascade of criticism he received in his early years on the court. It seems like Justice Thomas would be more comfortable with interviewers who were clear conservatives, as you suggest. But having said that, he grants to the occasional interview to mainstream reporters. Recently, he did an interview with Business Week, but only after the reporter had been recommended by a Thomas mentor from the College of the Holy Cross, which he attended as an undergraduate. But even in that interview , Thomas was critical of reporters, saying we often bring our own scripts to stories.

This dovetails nicely into my next question then--the theme of duality, ambivalence—the bizarre yin & yang of the man—permeates his story. Independent black man and willing pawn, all in one body, perhaps? Is this something you uncovered as you did your research, or did you have a hypothesis or a hunch, and went about proving it? Give us a few quick examples of defining moments in his personal life.

This is something that became apparent as we dug into his story. Thomas has had many defining moments in his life beginning with when his father left his family when he was two years old. At age six, his mother left him and his brother to be raised by her father, who reluctantly took the boys in. Thomas’s grandfather transformed his life, lifting him from poverty and sending him to Catholic schools. In high school, Thomas went to a minor seminary in hopes of becoming a priest. He began college at a seminary in Missouri but quit during his freshman year because of the racism of white seminarians. He transferred to the College of the Holy Cross, where he flirted with radicalism. From there he went to Yale Law School, where he began to question affirmative action because he saw it as unnecessary for most of his black classmates, who were solidly middle class and, he felt, elitist. From there, he was on to work for John Danforth, first as an assistant attorney general in Missouri and later on Capitol Hill when Danforth was a senator. From there, he rose through the ranks of the Reagan Administration to the high court in 12 short years. Of course, the most searing experience of all was his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, where Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment. It seems that that event has framed the rest of his life.

So if you didn’t have agendas, what were your personal views of Thomas before undertaking the research? I don't mean the circus surrounding Anita Hill in 1991 or his jurisprudence, his relationship with Scalia, etc. But rather, as African American men, how did you feel about this brother? Some people say “Handkerchief Head A-Number 1?...pawn of the right and fool." Did your personal views evolve or merely amplify?

Most of all, we felt Thomas had been caricatured. We knew he had to be more complex than what we heard from either the left or the right. And that proved to be right. He is a tortured, conflicted, complex, high achieving, man who is by turns, stubborn, gracious, humble and arrogant. In short, he is fascinating--especially when you consider where he sits and his historical significance.

You use the case of Hudson v. McMillian as a paradigm of Thomas's judicial thought process (Keith Hudson was an African American convict suing the state of Louisiana under the 8th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution)…why did you use that case? Why isn’t widely known that Thomas's beloved nephew is also in prison, like so many other young black men?

The case was one of Justice Thomas’s earliest and it helped set the mold for both how he is perceived and how he applies the law. Before his confirmation hearings, many civil rights leaders, knowing Thomas was conservative, nonetheless held out hope that he would moderate his views once he was on the court. They reasoned that his experience as a black man would not allow anything less. And Thomas played into that, saying at one point that he often looked out of his office window to watch the prisoners being loaded onto vans to take them to court.
“There but for the grace of God go I,” Thomas said, indicating that he would show empathy in his rulings for the dispossessed. But Thomas voted against Hudson (who nonetheless won his case charging cruel and unusual punishment). Not only did he vote against him, but he wrote a dissent arguing that while Hudson’s beating at the hands of prison guards was terrible, tortuous and wrong, it did not amount to a constitutional violation. Punishment, he said, had to do with penalties handed down by the courts, not beatings meted out by prison guards that resulted in “minor” injury. Many people, including other justices, where shocked that Thomas seemed to minimize the human dimension of the case. But Thomas dissent showed that he would be a strict “originalist” when it came to interpreting the Constitution--meaning he would read the Constitution only in the context of time in which is was written. That set the pattern for his later positions in favor of the death penalty, even for juveniles and the retarded, opposition to affirmative action and his suggestion that regulatory power enjoyed by the federal government on environmental, labor, civil rights and other matters should mostly reside with the states.
The issue of Thomas’s nephew is interesting. We interviewed the nephew for the book and he says that he does not want many people to know Justice Thomas is his uncle. We imagine that the nephew’s situation is not well known because it is not something that Thomas talks about in his public appearances nor would it come up in routine coverage of Thomas at the court.

This may relate to the “duality” question again, but what struck me about the man's life experiences is that they seem to have fueled this strange “denial” or “cognitive dissonance” when it comes to the conservative movement. One of many instances: does Thomas just not “get it” when Clint Bolick a friend of his, savages sister Lani Guanier when Bill Clinton tried to appoint her to Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, and yet Thomas was also very, very close to Lani? Or was he just being pragmatic?

That is hard to answer and illustrates why an interview with Justice Thomas would have been great. We puzzle over things like that. We also puzzle over how Justice Thomas could toast former segregationist Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina or hold Rush Limbaugh in such high regard, despite his frequent departures into racial parody that crosses the line for many.

Indeed, you guys appear to create an almost reverse-allegory (sorry but I’m a fiction writer and that sneaks in!) when you briefly profile black conservative icons like George Schuyler, A. Philip Randolph, and of course Booker T. Washington. Are you saying that Thomas should try to emulate the independence and intellectual honesty of these men? By implication, then, can Clarence Thomas's life be summed up as a man who’s kidding himself?

Justice Thomas often comes across as a man burdened by the fact that he is a black conservative and he indicates that the black community punishes him for that fact. We just wanted to point out that Thomas is hardly the first black conservative nor is he the only black person who has had to confront expectations--some unreasonable--from the larger community. We don’t know whether Justice Thomas is kidding himself, but it seems that he does contribute to his own isolation by not engaging the community more regularly.

Gentlemen, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this man. Fascinating analysis of ambivalence and the forces that forged it. Nevetheless, I have a feeling that many African Americans will still want to carve that last several collective words of yours onto Clarence Thomas's public service headstone: " seems that he does contribute to his own isolation by not engaging the community..." Amen.

Best of luck on your book tour and we wish you continued success at the Post. We hope to see more of you on the talk shows & other media. Michael and Kevin's website can be accessed by clicking here. For those of you in the D.C. area they wil be appearing at Border's in downtown Silver Spring, MD on May 15 at 6:30pm.

One of the Seven Dirty Words?


But first...

In the early 1970s cool hippy comedian now curmudgeon George Carlin outlined the so-called "seven dirty words" you couldn't say on TV and the radio. The list has contracted a bit, but there's still one that's utterly verboten. In England, it's bad word but also means schlub or jerk or turdhead. In the US, people use it a lot more than you think. But among African Americans it's not. But when it is hurled at a woman it's 30 megaton airburst and be prepared for the post-nuke wasteland!

In this photo Carlin is using the term on Nazi nympho Ann Coulter. The term: C-*-N-T. Um...obscene, inappropriate, mean? That's like saying someone's being cruel to Lucifer. Well, here's what this beeyotch had to say yesterday about Obama. It's one of many prongs of attack in the usual orchestrated talking points circulated like drums in the old Tarzan movies. I call it the "Douchebag Pipeline." Just check the blogs, the reports on Fox News, Rush, Glenn Beck and the other clowns. Notice how the stories and opinions are identical?

Check this out--

A recent Newsweek poll showing Democrat Barack Obama leading top Republican presidential hopefuls could have been made up and might help al-Qaida, conservative commentator Ann Coulter said in her latest verbal broadside.
Coulter, a best-selling author known for outrageous and often controversial statements, was asked Sunday on Fox News' "At Large" what she thought about the survey results.
"I think this is Newsweek doing more push polling for al-Qaida," she said, referring to campaign-season telephone calls to voters masquerading as neutral surveys but designed to build opposition to targeted candidates.
Asked by host Geraldo Rivera whether she thought Newsweek would make up the results, Coulter said, "Yes, I do," adding, "In polls where people are actually allowed to vote, Republicans do a lot better."
Coulter did not explain how the poll might help the terrorist group. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, some Republicans have argued that their party would do a better job of protecting the U.S. against terrorism than Democrats.
Coulter's remark drew a response from Evans Witt, chief executive officer of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which conducted the Newsweek survey.
"As the 2008 election campaign continues to heat up, I am sure that there will be informed and incisive criticisms of polls from many observers," he said. Coulter's comments "do not fit into this category," he added.
Newsweek spokeswoman Jan Angilella said the magazine would have no comment.
In March, Coulter used a gay slur about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

Now, we all know this chick isn't kidding. It's no act, no O'Reilley-esque gimmick or Imus cluelessness. This is for real. They tried the similar tactic on Fat Rev Al re: the Mormons when everyone who was there in his debate with Christopher "Douchebag of the Left Wing" Hitchens knew what really happened. Folks of conscience and intelligence need to start speak up and but this heifer in check. Obama's Mr. Nice Guy thing is wearing thin with me. He has a brain fart and misquotes the number of deaths due to this tornado? The President makes even dumber gaffs every 15 minutes. But yes, I expect more from Barack. he doesn't have the luxury of being off his game, but he also doesn't have the luxury of smiling. Call Ann Coulter out. Dare to compare the loving kindness showed Kansas--which will be destroyed again--to the utter contempt shown New Orleans (remember when all the Red Staters called in to CNN saying New Orleans will flood again so just move the niggers out?). Well, why rebuild any town in Kansas or Oklahoma? Ahhhh...that's different. No. That's Coulterism. Barack if you can't at least grow some fangs and some hanging balls, hire someone who does. Someone who knows there is a time when you have to call it like it is...even when it's a c*nt. How about George Carlin? ;-)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Brief Look: Colin Channer

Me bredrin t'ought he'd sneak dis by me one, eh? Bard of Jamaica, national bestseller Colin Channer gifts us his new novella, The Girl with the Golden Shoes, published by Akashic; Akashic now seems to be the indie publisher unconcerned with the dross, the silly, the pandering, having also published Bronx Biannual.

Colin is one of best writers in the Americas, and his Calabash Literary Festival on our Island in de sun draws international acclaim and coverage.
Good things come in small packages, and The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a bite-sized treat. It is sweet and bittersweet: World War Two in the Carribean is the setting. Channelling Faulker and Edward P. Jones, Channer reprises his imaginary island, "San Carlos," and on it we see Estrella Thompson, a 14-year-old who's exiled from the isolated fishing village where she's lived all her life...
Check Colin out at the University of Maryland this Thursday May 10 at Vertigo Books in College Park.
Coming soon: Clarence Thomas...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

What's more exiciting than the DC Madame?

In the D.C. area on Thursday May 10th? Come see and hear author Colin Channer at Vertigo Books in College Park, 630pm discussing his newest work, The Girl with the Golden Shoes (more to come on this Monday). Or stay home and check this blog to see my interview of Washington Post reporters Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, authors of Supreme Discomfort: the Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas.

The Jamaican bard and non-fiction is all boring, y'all say? Nah. and they are more exciting than what I just saw on ABC. ABC, like American Idol, like Heroes, like Spider Man 3, truly "jumped the shark" when it aired this ridiculous "DC Madame" story. When "Missy Ann" pimps, it's big news. When it's someone named "Bishop Magic Don Juan" or "Mister Whitefolks," and the hookers are of color, no biggie.

Yet this was the huge scandal that wasn't. First, "jumping the shark" refers to a TV term of art, minted by online media critics when "Fonzie" on Happy Days jumped his motorcycle over a shark tank. It literally marks a moment when a show has lost its steam, gotten stupid, etc. etc. Like James on Good Times dying. Or any point on Desperate Houswives. Grey's Anatomy's momentl ikely came and went, however, as we are pre-programmed to accept any insipid soap opera these days. The publishing industry, when it comes to black books and authors, indeed added MORE sharks to the damn tank. Nuff said...
Well, after all of this fanfare, ABC only dwelled on two idiots who were "newsworthy." First of course was Mr. Tobias, Condi Rice's undersecretary at USAID who was also the Bush Administration's mouthpiece on world HIV prevention (preaching abstinence of course) and keeping money from any group that even mentioned abortion in family planning. Good enough for a call girl at the Hay-Adams. The next was the Navy's big shot who authored the whole "Shock and Awe" strategy that so wowed the Red State dullards at the beginning of the Iraq War and now means absolutely nothing. Clearly this dude had some d*ck issues. I guess he also came up with the strategy of using our soldiers as bait to draw in terrorists who were never there in the first place, turning Iraq into a new school Verdun, complete with that WWI battle's ruinous irony? (look up Verdun on wikipedia, you dummies!)

The rest of tricks were supposedly people only recognizable inside the Beltway, so ABC, having already sucked you in with this nonense, just dumped the phone records. Now fanboys and girls I am sure there are a lot of partners in big DC law firms, certain lobbyists, fat pig real estate developers and bankers (who aren't otherwise pedophiles), parking lot czars, heads of foundations, local university presidents etc. on this list. I'll publish it on this blog when I get ahold of it...and I will get ahold of it. The U.S. Attorney's already jumped his own shark and says he won't use the list at trial. Is that not newsworthy? Why not? Screw you, ABC--is your DC bureau chief on that list?

What bothers me is (1) it's always the tricks who are seen as victims. They are part of the crime. The GIRLS are victims. Indeed one, a professor at the University of Mayland who neededextra cash to keep her home and feed her kids (Lord, I just joined up with UM!!! Better check my W-2), killed herself two weeks ago when Pimp Palfrey went public. And (2) these men on the list are usually the same people who tell you you are deficient, you are late with your payments, you are fired, you are downsized, your grant application is denied, your son is going to Iraq, you're gulity, you're liable, you're lying on the stand, you don't have as much money as them so you'll loose...and on and on. Bloody hypocrits. Time they suffered for a change, and they are humbled. Yeah, some of their wives will forgive them, for the same reason the FDA forgives the Red Chinese for poisoning us and our pets. Greed, self interest. But oh, maybe someone will learn from this, and change from hypocrisy to humility...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lori Bryant-Woolridge: An Interview

Lori Bryant-Woolridge is the author of Weapons of Mass Seduction, her latest novel and folks are eating it up as more copies hit the bookstores starting last week. Lori spoke to me from her girl-palace in one of New Jersey's posh 'burbs. First, welcome and congratulations on the spread in Essence, and as a man I dare say the photos were "tastefully provocative!" How does your public persona match the real you? In other words, do you practice what you (and your protagonist, "Pia Jamison") preach?

Thank you. And the term "tastefully provocative" is exactly what a true Weapon of Mass Seduction strives to be, so I appreciate the compliment.

Most things about my public persona match the real me. I am a woman who strives to be honest and authentic so I don't really switch on one personality in public and switch it off in private. You can tell by reading my blog and website that I'm straight up and open. I've always been a "what you see is what you get" kind of girl and dare I say, without sounding totally full of myself, that it's the key to my charming personality!

I definitely practice what Pia preaches...come on, I'm the wizard behind the curtain calling the shots!. I enjoy life, am grateful for the amazing journey I am on and I love being a woman and all the perks that come with it! That includes, but is certainly not limited to, beautiful lingerie, sexy scents, jewelry, and high heels! And like Pia, I'm also interested in love, politics, motherhood, learning and growing as an individual, and knowing and appreciating good men

Now, regardless of your publisher's plans, there are bookstores and websites who market you with authors like Kayla Perrin, Eric Jerome Dickey, etc. who are well-known for certain "relationship" themes. So do you bristle at the term "chick lit" or better still "black chick lit," or do welcome it?

I bristle at all labels placed on me, whether personal or literary. While I'm thrilled to be thought of in same company of many wonderful A-A and genre specific writers, my works is so much more inclusive and broad than the narrow scope they try to force me and so many other wonderful writers into. It's embarrassing sometimes when I walk into the store and over to 'our' section. Based on what they chose to spotlight, there appears to be no balance to the writing being offered our readers. Every book prominently displayed under "African American Literature" is sexually driven, often sexually explicit, work that make us look like the ho's and heifers the Don Imuses of the world think us to be. And looking at the bulk of our literary/artistic offerings, why would they think differently? And this is so not to say that great work doesn't exist out there. Just that there is no balance and won't be until publishers stop picking books based on trends and more on merit.

And speaking of chick lit, tell a little about the future of the Femme Fatale tours on military bases. Any poignant or interesting stories from our sistas in uniform during the past tour? I had a blast as an honorary male author at Ft. Belvoir, by the way--you adopting any brothas for similar events?

Brotha, we may be killer writers and killer women who stand for literary justice for all, but we are not fatal! It's the Femme Fantastik Tour! Nina Foxx, Carmen Green and I have invited four other guest authors, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Trisha Thomas, Wendy Coakley-Thompson and Berta Platas, for a little Latina flair, to join us this year. We're really excited because it's a fabulous and dynamic group. And though we loved having you as our guest Homme--you were amazing in that G-string--we've decided to do away with the male authors and concentrate on entertaining and empowering women through good literature--not good looking men!

The responses from the bases and the military families has been phenomenal. At every installation they have made us feel welcomed and supported and they are so appreciative that we haven't forgotten them during this ridiculous war and that we are helping to expand the offerings they get from their PX book section.

We will be officially kicking off the tour September 15 in San Antonio, Texas and will tour ten bases before we're done in March 2008. The word is getting out and we're steadily being booked at different events across the country. This summer we've been booked as the featured authors at the Salute to African American Writers in Austin, Texas on June 15 and we've been booked for an event in Las Vegas on August 11. You can follow our travels at

Well I was happy to dust off the ole "banana and coconuts hammock" and dance you ladies! But getting back to Weapons...this new novel..what do think seems to resonate for real women, real-life readers, regarding someone like Pia Jamison, or other characters like Florence and Becca?

What resonates for them is the feelings of being stuck (voluntarily or not) living a life of details and knowing that the vibrant, sexy woman you once were is suffocating under all the hats. Women have not been taught to embrace and understand their sensuality and sexuality in any real and healthy way eventually they become confused by who and what they are supposed to be. As teenagers and young women, we're taught to be good girls and given a list of all the things good girls DON'T do and then we get out in the world and see that a) men want something different and b) as we grow and mature into ourselves WE want something different. But we're so disconnected and confused by then we don't know which way to turn. Weapons of Mass Seduction gives women a direction, a plan and an understanding that being yourself can never be wrong and that's ultimately the sexiest thing they can do (being themselves) to get and keep the men they want.

Do you think you'll become a full-fledged lecturer on flirting, on getting one's "sexy" back and self-esteem? Any related non-fiction projects down the pike?

It's beginning to shape up that way. I am now getting requests to come speak at various venues--College campuses, cruise ships, etc. I just did an XM radio interview on how women can take their flirt game international! As you know I just did a workshop for moms trying to get their sexy back. I love the workshops and the interaction with my readers that comes from doing them. And I have always believed that fiction is a huge self-help vehicle for women. This is a topic that the book and lectures seem to go hand in hand.

I've also begun a blog to continue this important discussion. Women want to be sexy. They want to be flirtatious and charming but many don't know where to start and the book, the blog and the workshops are all designed to help.

I'm considering a nonfiction book for married women on how to get their flirt on with their spouses to keep the marriage alive. I've also got a few other projects in the works that I'll tell you about as they come to fruition

Was writing Weapons of Mass Seduction more difficult than writing Hitts & Mrs?

Yes, in a couple of ways. I had to write WMS very fast, five months, which is a record for me. And because I wanted to make it a true flirt-manual within a novel it took time to craft it in a way that was informative like a nonfiction book but still had the pacing and story/character elements of a good novel. It was a challenge but I enjoyed it. I had fun with my male focus group, who really opened up and were very honest about what attracts them to a woman and once they all got past the "great breasts and a slamming ass" they were all in agreement that it was a woman's confidence, energy and friendliness that universally caught their eye.

Hitts & Mrs. was slightly more controversial because I was talking about emotional infidelity without making it a bad thing. Instead I wanted readers to think about how they loved and why they felt love had such strict boundaries. To recognize that love comes in all kinds of forms, fashions and regaedless of whether a person is married, because love comes in many forms from many different people in our lives.

Both are thought-provoking and my goal is always not for readers to necessarily agree with me, but to look at their own ideas on the subject matter and decided for themselves based on their own individual truths and not 'truths' handed down to them from some moral authority.

By the way, Hitts & Mrs. is now available in mass paperback from Avon.

On another note: I love your blog! It's witty and informed and a true WMS is sexy and smart and appreciates a man who is the same!

Thanks for the love!

No, thank you Lori. You're a marriage of craft and commerce, sex and brains--so I suppose yes, you practice what you preach. Bravo and we expect big things over the next few months. And fans should check your website for details of the Flirting Seminar at Sea/Cruise to Jamaica and the Caymans.

Dexter St. Jock

As we wait for Lori, chew on this reflection by the "The Little Lady Who Started This Mess" (as Abe Lincoln clowned Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin) and let me know what you think:

“I just think there are some people who try too hard. They just think every sentence has to be perfect. I’m the sort of writer who thinks your first draft is your most honest. You know, get the story out any way you can. You don’t have to think about it. Just write it. Experience it. Don’t worry how pretty it sounds, how lilting it is, and the imagery, and the metaphor, all that. Most readers don’t care. It’s the people in your book that matter. It’s the human element. The emotional response that matters. That’s what I’ve learned.”-Terry McMillan, published in January's Poets & Writers Magazine (borrowed from the blog of author Mat Johnson)
The most amusing observation was by my brother: "She deserved everything that the gay "Dexter St. Jock" did to her. Karma for turning black lit into the WB sitcoms and cheesy melodrama hell..." Day-um!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Clarence Thomas, open...

If you're in the DC area, here's a reminder to check out Washington Post writers Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher tonight--Tuesday, May 1, 2007 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Karibu Bookstore15624 Emerald Way Bowie, MD 20716, before they roll out again on tour (Atlanta area). They'll be discussing an amazing and hornet-stirring biography of who my late mother called, "a handkerchief head and spook-a-demus of the worst kind," Clarence Thomas. Supreme Discomfort: the Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas is a must read, even for your up-coming beach trips, believe it or not. Click here for the authors' website and excerpts; you can purchase the book on amazon through my website's "What I'm reading" page.
Was Mom right? Hell Yes and Hell No, according to the authors, who have painstakingly opened the life of a very complex, closed individual, from birth to present day, and track the seminal events that shaped and continue to shape his views, his rather insidious and often insincere sponsors/backers/handlers, his jurisprudence and the public's perception. This is a man who very well may party with hogs like Rush Limbaugh--whose wedding he officiated--then goes home and cries in his sleep for doing so. Torture, hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance run that deep.
I hope to have an interview with the authors very soon; later this month they'll be discussing the book in the DC area--Silver Spring and Politics & Prose bookstore--and then Baltimore. In the meantime be sure to check out another fantastic non-fiction choice: Ghetto Nation by Cora Daniels.
FYI, facist sluts Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter have been attempting to evade debate on Supreme Discomfort on the barking head circuit lest they give it too much piggyback PR. Keith Olbermann and Charlie Rose need to headline this book, and hell yes so does Tavis, along with Ghetto Nation. Feed your brains, folks. Your teeth will rot from too much candy-ass street lit and soap opera novels (you know of whom I speak...)
Any comments on Mr. Justice Thomas, especially if you've read the book?