And speaking of HBO, it is a major advertiser for the site, and underwriter of Gates' ancestry tracing efforts based at Harvard. Hence, Paul Giamatti's meaty face, prominently displayed. I have been following Tom Hanks' production of John Adams like a hungry dog tracks a porkchop, and yes, I actually read David McCullough's ten pound book and even met and had a danish with the author at Book Expo America at Chicago's McCormick Center a few years ago. Nice guy. Easy going. Not a dick-knotted old white man in the John McCain stereotypical vein. He asked me if I read Gates' edit of The Bondswoman's Tale (a novel written by a freed slave some 150 years ago). I said hell yeah! He asked how it was received in the African American community. I snickered. See, they don't talk about stuff like that on Charlie Rose...or even Tavis. After I composed myself I tried to limit the "hating" and the "elitism" and the "dirty laundry"to a minimum, and I told him of our illustrustrious bards, such as Terri Woods, or Darren Coleman, or C-Murder...of coldest winters and ghetto girls, of authors and poets named not Zora or Langston, but rather "Relentless." Of Madea. "You mean Jason [of the Argonaut's posse]'s wife Medea?" the white haired historian asked before his publicist whisked him away for a photo op with Oprah and fellow superstar author Isabelle Allende. "No sir," I sighed. "M-A-D-E-A. Tyler Perry." "Oh," said McCullough--and this was likely the first and last time I'd get to see him. "I heard he was funny." As McCullough shook my hand and was about to vanish, I called to him, "Yes, a bamma Benny Hill...dude in drag." He knew who Benny Hill was (the madcap limey comedian). Hadn't a clue what "bamma" meant. But then he said, "Has anyone done anything on Phyllis Wheatley...slave who became our first true poetress?" Then he was gone. Yes, there have been papers, journals etc. on Phyllis--a contemporary, more or less of John Adams and her idol, George Washington. Can't recall them. Indeed, anything that embraces history, whether nonfiction or literature, is hard to recall in our circles.
OK. Maybe the Root needs to sponsor and present these works: prose, art, performance/stage, poetry, documentary film. Hit HBO up for the cash, eh? It likely won't come from publishers. Terri Woods gets a million bucks from Warner for more hood fantasy (yes, fantasy--this is NOT about reality...buy The Wire or The Corner on DVD for reality). How much did James McBride get for Song Yet Sung? The Pulitzer cash award to Edward P. Jones was enough for him to buy a TV, some clothes, put a little bit in the bank but that's about it. Would love to James and Edward figured prominently on theRoot. Would love to see their work adapted and splashed all over HBO...or Showtime for that matter ("The Tudors"--screw 'em. See A Man For All Seasons or Anne of the Thousands Days doing it without the straining cod pieces and bare titties). Or The Pirate's Daughter, excerpted? Or Phyllis Wheatley, acclaimed and adorned by the denizens of Def Poetry Jam online?
For now, I guess Paul Giamatti's interesting mug will have to do. A few blog posts and a cool article here or there on theRoot. Otherwise I yawn or scowl through the Web, through TV, through bookstores which may or may not be open next week. But at least Terri Woods is happy, and isn't that what it's all about? I think Skip Gates should approach her about being a regular contributor. Would open up theRoot to all those "real folk" who couldn't give a damn about Phyllis, about John Adams, even. A bridge between David McCullough and Tyler Perry. "Madea & Missy Ann Go On A Roadtrip," starring Tyler and Laura Linney. Can't you see the ads on HBO now, and the traffic that would pour into theRoot? Ha! Skip--make it happen, bruh!