Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Friday, December 22, 2006

Andre Braugher Nominated for Golden Globe Award

“I am a free man, as was my father before me.”

When Andre Braugher delivered this line in the film Glory, I knew he was going to be one of the great ones. He probably saw that line in the script and thought, “This is what all the training has been for. That Shakespeare preparation is gonna pay off right here!”

Braugher just oozes with confidence and fierceness when it comes to acting. That’s why I was thrilled that he won the Emmy award for his role as Nick Atwater in the FX miniseries, Thief, and why I’m rooting for him to win the Golden Globe best actor award for the same role.

In the series, which began shooting in New Orleans just before Katrina struck, Nick leads a band of robbers on heist jobs that yield millions of dollars. Although Braugher’s character can be scary at times, he also has a soft side when it comes to his family. Mid-robbery he answers a cell phone call from his wife who wants him to talk to a police officer who has taken his stepdaughter Tammi down to the station. Nick convinces the officer to give Tammi another chance and goes right back to breaking into a bank vault.

In another well-done scene, Braugher displays his charisma and fine acting skills as he deals with one of his Christian born-again robbers, the sad-eyed Clifton Collins, Jr. Collins, who plays Jack in the series, tells Nick that he’s feeling guilty about the robbery they’ve planned. Seemingly amused, Nick looks at him as if to say, “You can’t be serious.” But in the next second he grabs Jack’s shoulders and tells him, “I need you.” Braugher delivers the line like a mother telling a child to “stop this nonsense and straighten up.” Jack hops to it.

It’s obvious that Nick adores Wanda, his white wife, but has trouble relating to Tammi. Scenes between Nick and Tammi, trying to get along, after Wanda is killed in a car accident, are some of the most compelling father-daughter pieces ever done on television.

Unfortunately, FX isn’t bringing Thief back due to a lack of viewers. What a shame. Why do the quality television programs always get the axe?

Oh well. Although he won’t be back for another season of Thief, Braugher deserves the Golden Globe award for the hard work he put in down in the Big Easy. The Golden Globes Awards will be televised on NBC, Monday, January 15.

Check out this interview with Braugher on

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shot Police Officer Gets Friendly Visit from Titans Player

I don’t know much about the Tennessee Titans because I haven’t followed professional football in years. Even if I were to watch a game, it would be one involving the Philadelphia Eagles, my former favorite team and the team my Dad pulls for every week.

But I have been hearing a lot about the troubles of Titans player Adam “Pacman” Jones. I haven’t focused much on the news about Pacman’s run-ins with the law, but when I found out that Jones jumped at the chance to visit Danita Marsh, a Nashville police officer who was severely wounded on duty in late October, I took a look at some of the press clips on Jones. It seems “Pacman” has had some bad luck with the law, including charges of disorderly conduct, misdemeanor assault, and public intoxication. What a shame that this 23-year-old with such a shining chance to establish a great football career is finding it hard to behave himself.

Maybe his visit with Marsh is a sign that he’s going to try to turn things around. The Tennessean reported last week that Metro Police Commander Louise Kelton was in Marsh’s hospital room when Jones visited. The newspaper also reported that Jones spent over two hours with Marsh.

“He pulled a chair next to Danita’s bed and they had a conversation like they had been friends for years,” Kelton told The Tennessean. “They had this down-home conversation about food, likes, dislikes. They had some laughs. It really meant a lot to her.”

Hopefully, like Jones, others will want to extend warmth and help to Marsh who is paralyzed from the waist down. The officer was shot when she responded to a call from a domestic violence victim. The victim’s boyfriend, Willie Lee Lindsley, shot Marsh several times in the upper body and in the hip.

Funds in Marsh’s name have been established for those who want to support Marsh and her 9-year-old son. Checks payable to the Danita Marsh Fund can be mailed to any Citizens Bank in Nashville. Checks may also be sent to the MPD Community Credit Union, 306 Gay Street, Suite 105, Nashville, TN, 37201 and The Hundred Club of Nashville, P.O. Box 190428, Nashville, TN, 37219.

Let’s send out lots of love and healing energy to Danita Marsh and her entire family.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let Them Eat for Goodness Sake!

The Homeless Guy, Kevin Barbieux, reports some disturbing news today about police officers chasing away people in Nashville public places who are trying to feed the homeless. “It's just another attempt to rid cities of homeless people, based on the idea that homeless people are attracted to certain areas because of offerings of food,” he said.

But he says church groups take the food to places where they think homeless people are. He says this effort to thwart the feeding of homeless people is a way for “certain people” to cut off the source of food for the homeless so that homeless people won’t congregate in certain areas. It seems cruel to try to zone off certain public places for only certain kinds of people. Why not let homeless people eat and sleep in places like parks? Is it that we don’t want to see the devastation that this society has caused in various segments of the population?

Also, the practice that Kevin mentions of “declaring that any food given to the homeless must be prepared in a kitchen subjected to the same municipal codes as restaurants,” is ridiculous. My mother, who lives in Delaware, says that officials there and in Pennsylvania have tried to enforce the same kind of silliness for churches and other groups who feed homeless folks. But a judge in Delaware called an end to the farce. He allowed a church to continue to feed the homeless without any kind of “inspection.” The judge, in essence, said officials took the code guidelines too far. Did it really take a judge to tell them that? Anybody with a modicum of compassion could see that holding a church kitchen to the same rules as a full-fledged restaurant is quite unnecessary.

Anyway, as Kevin said, he’s never gotten sick from food offered by independent operations. On the other hand, he has barfed a few times after eating food prepared at a rescue mission.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Immigrant Mothers Snatched from their Children

Most of the reactions posted on an Iowa newspaper’s Web site about last week’s swift raids on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Marshalltown, Iowa have been nothing short of cruel and hostile. Close to 100 immigrants were rounded up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (known as ICE) and taken to Camp Dodge, an Iowa National Guard camp in Johnston, Iowa.

One reader posted this comment on the Des Moines Register’s Web site:

Who cares if the officials "violated rules"—the illegal invaders violated rules (also known as LAWS) when they ILLEGALLY came into the country …

Let's get some more of those busses loaded and rolling toward the jails, airports, and the Mexican border!!!!

Way to go ICE. You rock!!!!

How could you be so heartless when you hear this kind of story?

Mothers were taken away, leaving many children behind without supervision. One horrendous story involved a 22-year-old woman, Escalante who was arrested last Tuesday without being given time to find care for Ariana, her 4-month-old infant, who she was BREASTFEEDING. Immigration advocates who began fervently gathering these children, including Ariana, to care for them had problems feeding the child. Sister Christine Feagan, part of the St. Mary's Hispanic Ministry, said another mother tried to breastfeed the child, but the little girl knew it wasn’t her mother.

Anxious to find out whether this mom was reunited with her hungry baby, I e-mailed one of the Des Monies Register reporters covering this shameless story, Jennifer Jacobs. The reporter responded Saturday to inform me that the mother has been reunited with the child and the baby is eating. Thank God!

But many other children have still not been able to see their parents since the raid. At one point, early in this heinous mission, advocates, who were desperately trying to match parents with left behind children, were denied access to the detainees. Camp Dodge officials would not allow advocates to talk to the immigrants. Some advocates who were also immigrants were threatened with being arrested and deported if they, themselves, did not possess legal documentation.

Many aspects of this Iowa sweep are painful to read, but one thing many people may not know is that the people seized in the raid have not committed criminal infractions. If they do indeed lack the legal documentation needed to be in this country, that constitutes civil violations of immigration law. Was this sweep a just response to such civil violations? I say no. The crime here is that these government officials separated the breastfeeding mother and the other mothers of small children who depend on their parents for shelter and sustenance.

As the story moves along Immigration attorneys are questioning the ICE officials’ actions. Some of those officials are being accused of violating rules. I hope justice will prevail.

Here’s a comment posted by another Des Moines Register reader that quelled my shaken spirit after hearing about this human rights tragedy:

The vast majority of American citizens are descendants of immigrants (prior to the 1940s there were no immigration policies and all US borders were open.) Those of us whose ancestors were able to enter the country prior to any policy have no business looking down on those who are trying to achieve the same result—a better life for themselves and their families.

As far as these undocumented workers are concerned, it is important to realize that they are NOT criminals. They are breaking a civil law, which is the same as you and I getting a ticket for a traffic violation.

Perhaps a trip to the many parts of the world that live below the poverty line would help people in this country understand the desperation of those who can barely feed their families while living in sight of the richest country in the world. The true solution requires creating fair and just immigration policies that allow those who desire to be productive an easy process to become citizens. Building fences and mass arrests only reinforce the poor reputation that America has in the eyes of the rest of the world.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Forest Whitaker, Will Smith Get Golden Globe Nominations

The Golden Globe Award nominations were announced today and surprsingly two African-American actors have been picked to compete for the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture category: Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland.

Whitaker is one of my favorite actors and so I was elated to see his name on the list. His performance in the 1999 film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is shere poetry. I have even written a poem that's partially inspired by the film.

Whitaker has lost a considerable amount of weight recently, but when he played Ghost Dog (the name of his character in the film), he was a hulking piece of work. Despite his size, he moved as gracefully as a martial arts expert. His dance-like movement on the roof when he’s practicing with his katana sword is like watching ballet. You wonder how such a big man can move so effortlessly.

In a completely opposite role, Whitaker plays the delusional Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Amin, who became Uganda’s President from 1971–1979, gained power after overthrowing Milton Obote. He then persecuted and killed upwards of 300,000 people from several ethnic groups. Amin was reportedly a cannibal who ate some of his victims, but Whitaker, who thoroughly researched the part, says those reports have never been proven.

All reviews thus far have raved about Whitaker's powerful performance in the film. I can’t wait to see it. Unfortunately, it’s not showing here in Nashville! A Belcourt Theatre representative said the film will not be shown there and I’m still waiting to hear back from the Nashville Film Festival Artistic Director. (My fingers are crossed!) Let's hope we get a repeat of the 2004 Oscar nominations when Don Cheadle and Jamie Foxx were picked to compete for the Actor in a Leading Role prize.

If The Last King of Scotland is playing in your town—-run, don’t walk to the theatre to see it! I’m sure you won’t be dissappointed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Here's what the Nashville Film Festival's Artistic Director has to say about the film coming to Nashville;

Hi Alicia,

From what I understand the film probably will come to Nashville between now and Oscar time. The distributor opened the film in some major markets and is slowly rolling out the film. As Forrest Whitaker has begun to receive recognition for his role in the film, and therefore interest in the film is building, it will make its way here.

Looking forward to seeing it, too.


Brian Gordon
Artistic Director
Nashville Film Festival

Interview with Forest Whitaker on

Comments from customers who have seen the film:

When I saw this film opening weekend, a few people left the theater visibly shaken from these very disturbing scenes. Make no mistake, these scenes are appropriate to the film, but anyone squeemish in the face of film violence may want to think twice about seeing "The Last King of Scotland." — Padraig

This may be Whitaker’s best role to date and should earn him a Best Actor Oscar nod. The moment he first appears the tension becomes palpable. When he smiles, you sense the evil behind the grin. Throughout the film you cannot predict what he will do next, a reflection of Amin’s instability and a testament to the talent that Whitaker brings to the role. — Richard Krzemien

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remembering Tara Cole

The story of Tara Cole is one that should be told over and over if we are to ever end such human tragedies as homelessness. For those who don’t know, in August, two Tennessee men pushed Tara Cole, a 32-year-old homeless woman, into the Cumberland River in Nashville, as she slept. I’m not going to go on and on here about how angry I am about this. I’m so appalled and still in such disbelief about Tara’s story that I’m not able to voice my opinion with any sort of coherence yet.

But if you’re in Nashville this weekend, please come to a place where Tara Cole will be honored--the 16th Annual Nashville Homeless Memorial Day service for those who have died while homeless. The event, sponsored by the Nashville Homeless Power Project, will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 16, Riverfront Park. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m.

The American Negro Playwright Theatre will also remember Tara Cole with its performance of Shelter, a play by Jim Reyland that explores a night in the life of some homeless people in Nashville. Barry Scott, ANPT’s Artistic Director, will direct and perform in the piece. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. December 13-16, the Thomas Edward Poag Auditorium on Tennessee State Unviersity’s campus. On December 17 the performance will start at 3:30 p.m. Call 615-579-4223 or e-mail for more information. All performances are free!

My friend Howard Allen, a homeless man who has been a longtime activist for the homeless, told theThe Tennessean that Tara didn’t have a chance to ask God for help because she was asleep. “But she’s home now,” Allen said. But he also said, “there are plenty of Taras still sleeping on the streets.” Let’s work hard to change that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pomegranates—Super Fruit of the World

I have loved eating pomegranates (or as we called them "Chinese apples") since I was a child. I associate certain foods like Tastykake and the gorgeous red pomegranate with childhood. I just discovered the Tastykake company's Web site, so now I can have a taste of home in Nashville! The company's slogan was "all the good things wrapped up in one." We also loved pickles, Italian ice (water ice), sunflower seeds, Now & Later candy, subs, Utz and Herr’s potato chips, and the awesomely juicy pomegranate. I don't know why we loved them so much in my neighborhood, but somehow we found a way to eat them often as we played in the street.

Lately I've been noticing the fruit more and more in grocery stores. Also, the juice seems to be pretty popular (and expensive!), especially the POM brand. Lately I've introduced the fruit to our four-year-old daughter and surprisingly, she has adopted my passion for the fruit. She was surprised that I was able to chew most of the deep red pulp off the seeds and present bare white seeds.

I was surprised to see actual instructions on the Internet explaining how to eat a pomegranate. My friends and I used to simply break open the beautiful red skin of the fruit with our hands, pick out the burgundy red seeds, and eat them. Most of the time we'd savor each seed individually, but I can remember sometimes taking big bites out of the fruit, eating a mouthful of seeds at one time. This was pretty messy so I rarely ate it that way.

Only recently have I discovered the many health benefits of the "Chinese apple" from my childhood. Evidently the pomegranate, one of the oldest fruits known to man, has extraordinary health benefits.

Results from studies at Washington University in St. Louis last year suggest that pomegranates may help to prevent brain injury in newborn infants. This wonder fruit, high in vitamin C, folic acid, vitamins A and E, is said to both increase fertility AND prevent pregnancy (go figure). Research studies also suggest that eating pomegranates can prevent cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.

So the next time you're in the grocery store and spot a pomegranate, why not give it a try. The juice can stain your fingers, but the temporary discoloration is worth the sweet flavor!

Interesting Facts:
Every pomegranate has exactly 840 seeds.

Some scholars say that the apple mentioned in the Bible's Adam and Eve story was really a pomegranate.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kanye West—Son of a Black Panther?

I had not heard about the unfortunate comments that Kanye West made about biracial women in the upcoming January issue of Essence magazine. But after a Cappuccino Soul reader, Lakissha Taylor, called my attention to West’s comments, I’ll be looking for this issue in the mail.

For those of you who have not heard, Kanye West makes some off-color comments about biracial women in the upcoming issue of Essence. “If it wasn’t for race mixing there’d be no video girls,” West is quoted as saying in the January issue of Essence magazine. “Me and most of our friends like mutts a lot. Yeah, in the hood they call ’em mutts.”

How could West think that referring to women as “mutts” would fly? And as the son of a former Black Panther/College Professor, shouldn’t he know better?

My full response to West’s comments could potentially serve as a term paper for an anthropology or African-American history class, so I won’t respond fully. But I will say this. Somewhere in West’s consciousness, he has to know that most African-Americans who live in the United States have some sort of mixed racial ancestry—including people in his own family. This is a fact that doesn’t even require much research, all you have to do is look at the range of colors and facial features of “black” people in this country and this is obvious. Both my mom and dad’s family trees have African, Native American, and Caucasian elements—this is the truth for MANY of us in America.

This whole discussion made me think about an e-mail I received from a reader of this blog about two weeks ago. The reader wanted to know if I was biracial. I had to pause because I wondered why she had asked. Had she seen me around town or a picture of me somewhere? To my knowledge, we’ve never met.

I guess I could I match the image of lots of “biracial” folks. When I lived in New York, Spanish-speaking people would frequently speak to me in Spanish, assuming that I was a “Boricua” or hailed from some other Latino land. (Boricua is a word sometimes used to denote a Puerto Rican or a person of Puerto Rican descent. It is derived from the Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico, Boriquén.)

The reader said she asked because of the “Nuyorican Poets Café” link that’s included in my “Favorite Sites” to the right. I guess she thought that my interest in the café came from some connection to the “Nuyoricans.” (Nuyorican is a blending of the phases “New York” and “Puerto Rican.”)

Well, yes. I’m connected to the Nuyoricans, as are many black people in New York and many places on the East Coast. As a matter of fact, people from all over the world have either performed there or been an audience member at the Nuyorican Poets Café. It’s a premiere vehicle for poets, musicians and thespians.

Puerto Ricans and Latinos from other places have been a part of my life since childhood. My neighborhood friend David Cruz had a crush on me and I had a mad crush on his cousin Jose, who also lived in the neighborhood.

But my experience can’t be that much different from Kanye’s. I’m sure he’s had biracial friends and people from other cultures in his life. I can’t imagine why he would make such an ugly reference to mixed race women. As Morgan Freeman said recently on the Charlie Rose show, "We as Americans don't really know who we are."

Here’s what Lakissha Taylor has to say about the mess:

Kanye has forgotten our history; historically we were all considered black and had to use the colored only facilities. For Kanye to make such a derogatory statement towards biracial women (society considers us Black women) is indicative of the misogynistic culture we have created and condoned in the world of hip-hop. While not all Bruth'as in hip-hop would put women on par with a mix-breed dog, for Kanye to use his influence and power in such a derogatory way is a HUGE statement for all young people who love his music. He is only participating in the JIM CROW legacy of slavery. I wonder would Kanye call the following a mutt to their face? Sean Paul, Barack Obama, Alicia Keyes, Maria Carey, Faith Evans. I am sure he has produced beats for many of these artists too.

Be blessed, don't fall into the trap, and don't believe the hype!

I’m with Lakissha. Family, let’s pray for Kanye.