Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Friday, March 27, 2009

Monica in Beautiful Puerto Rico

Looking at this picture of my cousin Monica reminds me of a question that one of my students asked me recently. The question was, "Do you know what is bonita?" Well, bonita means pretty and it's the perfect word to describe Monica, who is shown here at the Palma del Mar in Humacao, Puerto Rico. She had the great pleasure of visiting that magical island earlier this year. How I wish I could have gone too! The water that is shining so brilliantly in the photo below is the beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico.

Thanks for finally sharing your pictures with me cuz! Here's a song that your photos conjure up for me. It's Ms. Patti LaBelle singing Teach Me Tonight (Me Gusta Tu Baile), which means, I like the way you dance.

Perfect Song: At the Concert by Michael Henderson

I've heard only a few songs that I would classify as perfectly made and this number, "At the Concert," by Michael Henderson is one of them. Not one note is extravagant. The vocals and instrumentation go together perfectly. The solos are all in the right place and skillfully played by the musicians -- Henderson on organ and bongos, Marcus Belgrave on trumpet, and Eli Fontaine on saxophone (they all make me want to put my fingers on an organ, the bongos, pick up a trumpet or saxophone and start making music!).

"At the Concert," a duet with Roberta Flack and Henderson is a flawless matching of sensuality, craft, and harmony. These two sing the song as if they were a real couple wanting to get together at the concert and repair whatever damage has been done to the relationship.

My cousin Monica told me some time ago that when she hears this song, she thinks of me. I know why. There's lots of Latin flavor in this piece (the drumming, and the rhythms of both the instruments and vocals) -- and she knows that I love Latin music. "At the Concert" makes me think of the beach in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic or somewhere like that -- where I've never been. I'm so jealous -- Monica was lucky enough to escape to P.R. earlier this year. (Monica, where's my picture?)

Listen to this sumptuous number by these master musicians:

Here are the gifted performers on "At the Concert:"

Roberta Flack - vocals
Marcus Belgrave - trumpet
Michael Henderson - vocals, bongos, bass
Herbie Hancock - Fender Rhodes
Rod Lumpkin - organ
Lorenzo Brown - percussion
Ollie E. Brown - percussion
Ralph Moss - strings
Steve Hunter - trombone

(I hear a flute in the song, but there's no credit for a flute player.)

About Michael Henderson (from Wikipedia):
Michael Henderson is a bass guitarist and vocalist best known for his work with Miles Davis in the early 1970s, providing a deep funky groove to early fusion albums such as A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Pangaea, and Live-Evil. He was the only musician to play with Miles in both phases of his electric period, starting in 1970 at the age of 18 and continuing until Miles's semi-retirement in 1976.

With deep, funky grooves and a pop sensibility, he was one of the first notable bassists of the fusion era as well as being one of the most influential jazz and soul musicians of the past 40 years. In addition to Miles, he has played and recorded with Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and The Dramatics.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Woman Has No Enemy

I'm posting this e-mail that I received today from the Save Darfur Coalition in hopes of inspiring more people to join in the fight to rescue the people of Darfur who are being brutalized in the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

Dear Alicia,

There was a saying in the Darfur in which I was raised: "A woman has no enemy."

Those words are not spoken here anymore. In today's Darfur, a woman has enemies everywhere she turns.

Together, we can end the violence in Darfur—and stop the systematic campaign of sexual brutality unleashed against Darfuri women.

But if we don't act now, it could get far worse.

On behalf of Darfuri women and all the people of Darfur—please contribute today. $150,000 by March 31 will help fuel our campaign for peace.

Women have traditionally commanded unquestioned respect in our culture—leaders of their families who walked the streets in safety and spoke with strangers without fear. That sense of honor has been taken away.

I am among the fortunate ones. I escaped the genocide—but in my heart, I can never leave the women and girls of Darfur. Helping them to survive—helping restore the exalted position they once occupied and still deserve—is my work. It is my calling.

Our new video highlights the struggle of life in Darfur, but also the promise of peace and what you can do to realize that promise. (See Video below.)

Our work is hard, and it is frustrating. But it is working. The signs are all around us—from the Bashir arrest warrant, to President Obama naming Gen. Gration as his special envoy to Sudan, to the increased number of UNAMID peacekeepers in the region.

We have accomplished so much—but it is not yet done. Life in Darfur is a daily struggle against unspeakable violence, starvation, and disease. More than ever, the people of Darfur need you.

Please give greater hope by rushing a generous contribution by March 31 to support this movement.

Fighting genocide is difficult, and it is painful, but it is not impossible—not if we promise ourselves that we can give life and hope to others. We can. Please help us today.


Niemat Ahmadi
Save Darfur Coalition

Click here to learn more about the Save Darfur Coalition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back to Kenya for Obama's Auntie?

Obama's Aunt Back in Boston for Deportation Hearing

By Maria Sacchetti
The Boston Globe
March 23, 2009

President Obama's aunt, a Kenyan immigrant who ignited controversy last year for living in the United States illegally, has returned to her quiet apartment in a Boston public housing complex to prepare for an April 1 deportation hearing.

When her case emerged in the waning days of the presidential race last year, Zeituni Onyango, a tall, frail-looking woman in her late 50s who walks with a cane, fled the media attention to stay with relatives in Cleveland.

She attended Obama's inauguration in January and, according to neighbors, returned to Boston a few weeks ago for her third attempt to fight removal from the United States. She had been living in the country illegally since she was ordered deported in 2004.

Onyango is a half-sister of the president's late father, Barack Obama Sr., who was absent most of Obama's life and who died in a car accident in 1982. The president met his aunt during a trip to Kenya and included her in his 1995 memoir, "Dreams from My Father," but has said he was unaware of her immigration issues.

Now the woman Obama called "Auntie Zeituni" is in a national spotlight, where she is being seen as a test for the president's commitment to enforcing immigration laws.

Obama has not had any involvement in the case, and believes that the case should run its ordinary course, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said today.

Critics, outraged that she is living in taxpayer funded public housing while thousands of citizens and legal immigrants are on waiting lists, are scrutinizing the case for political favoritism. Others caution that she may have legitimate grounds to stay in the United States.

"The case is unusual in American history because it’s a relative of the president involved in immigration matters," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. "It really does present the White House with an opportunity or a minefield. If they follow through on a decision that she should go home, that would actually raise the president’s credibility enormously on immigration enforcement."

Onyango's fate will play out behind closed doors before veteran immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro in Boston. Onyango's lawyer Margaret Wong of Ohio successfully argued to reopen her case in December and have the proceedings closed to the public, according to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees immigration courts.

Onyango declined two requests for interviews in recent days.

Wong has not responded to repeated requests for comment. But her spokesman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in January that Onyango would present new evidence to back an asylum claim.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Did O.J. Really Do It?

I was reading Patrick the Rogue's blog today and was intrigued by a documentary mentioned in his most recent post that I've never heard of before. The documentary is about O.J. Simpson and the possibility that he did not kill his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson. The makers of the film, "The Overlooked Suspect," contend that O.J. took the rap for his son Jason Simpson, who is now 38 years old.

"The Overlooked Suspect" is based on the book, O.J. is Guilty, But Not of Murder by writer and private investigator William Dear. Published in 2000, the book is the result of a six-year investigation by Dear and asserts that Jason Simpson committed the murders of Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Here's a bit from Chapter One of Dear's book:

Reasonable Doubt

“Never assume. Always verify.” Every detective, public defender and investigative reporter should have those four words tattooed in black ink on their foreheads. Then every time they looked at themselves in the mirror they would be reminded of the great responsibility they have to themselves and to the public to check their facts before jumping to conclusions. Lives are on the line–and not only those of the falsely accused.

Take a peak at "The Overlooked Suspect," directed by Phil Smith, starring William Dear:

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Friend, My Shelter

Here's Gigi with her very Best Friend Flavia.

A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.
~ Donna Roberts

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels.
~Author Unknown

I like her because she smiles at me and means it.

The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.
~Barbara Kingsolver

I felt it shelter to speak to you.
~Emily Dickinson

Hold a true friend with both your hands.
~Nigerian Proverb

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
~Oprah Winfrey

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.
~Toni Morrison, Beloved

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Don't Hate! Michelle's Green Boots

Don't hate me for saying this, but I thought this was hilarious. Look at the expression on Michelle's face. It's like she knows her outfit was not that great but said, "To hell with it... I got work to do!" Not only did I think this was funny, but I totally sympathize with Michelle on this one. On a really cold day, I'll throw on whatever I think will keep me warm -- no matter what it looks like, especially the shoes or boots.

Michelle Obama's Turquoise Suede Boots - Stylefoul?

by Dana Oliver
AOL's Stylist

The world has watched breathlessly as Michelle Obama establishes herself as the most stylish First Lady since Jackie O. But yesterday, "Shelly O" may have committed her first fashion faux pax while in office. She stepped out in a pair of questionable turquoise suede boots to talk community service with students from YouthBuild. Yes, she was braving a cold, muddy March day, and yes, perhaps the emerald-ish shade was to honor St. Patricks day, but regardless, the boots do seem to stand out like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

But we do totally heart Michelle's crafty reuse of her Inauguration Day sweater. That's right -- she's wearing the pale yellow Nina Ricci mohair sweater she threw over her Isabel Toledo dress on the big day, but instead of dressing it up with a diamond broach at the collar, she subdued it with a pair of cropped gray trousers.

In this economy it's refreshing to see that even the First Lady is economizing. Take note, AIG.

Check out a couple of comments that people posted to this AOL story:

-- It's not so much the horrible boots, but why is she wearing such short pants? If her pants had been longer, it wouldn't have looked so bad. Plus, they're really too tight for that short of a cardigan set....YIKES! Get the stylist back, ASAP!

-- The Boots would have been ok, if they had been close to the color of what she was wearing.... We should be grateful that she is not a dress show off, even though she has money, but prefers to live down to earth....take the dress scope off of First Lady Obama and put it on something more important.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love: A Choice, Not a Feeling

Church was wonderful on Sunday as I received a powerful prayer from my friend Sherrin who rushed over to me and said that she saw a vision of me that she had to tell me about. Her words from God were insightful and right on time!

Thanks Sherrin.

Also, Gigi gave me some good words after she left the children's church. She gave me a card with a big red heart on it and a message inside that said, "Mom, remember that love is not a feeling. It's a choice." She evidently learned this from the youth teacher. Gigi also told me that you show that you love someone, not by what you say, but by what you do.

Thanks for that message little lady. I'll carry it with me forever.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

So Redundant in the Modern World

There's something both hilarious and satisfying about Joaquin Phoenix's flight into his own world. However goofy, strange, or perplexing his persona seems these days, you get the sense that he might be trying to be who he was meant to be. I say "might be" because we don't really know if this is an Andy Kaufman-like spoof or not. If it is, he's just doing what we already knew he could do -- acting (brilliantly). If this isn't an act, then how refreshing this whole thing is. But rap doesn't really seem to be Joaquin's thing, not unless he's saving or holding back on the real jewels in his rap/musical arsenal.

Maybe he just wants to be a clown for a while. It's working. He certainly has given me some joyful laughs. Not only was his appearance on the David Letterman Show eerily comical, but his print interviews offer just as much laughable entertainment. Check out this bit from Newsweek's Feb. 23 interview with Phoenix:

Interviewer (Ramin Setoodeh): Looking over your career, do you have a favorite performance?

Have you seen "Two Lovers?" (his latest movie)

You're not curious about what it's like?
I was in it.

But you weren't in all the scenes.
It's all right. I'm sure they were great.

Most actors who I talk to are interested in how a director puts a movie together.
[Silence] No.

What about acting doesn't appeal to you anymore?
I don't know. The mystery is lost now. There was a time when I read a script and I just got excited about the possibilities. Most recently, I read a script and all I thought about was makeup and hair people touching me and having to do press and f---ing whatever s---.

Although I admire his courage, I can't help but wish that Joaquin had chosen a better second life. Why shoot for rap stardom when there are so many worthy, needy causes out there to support and elevate. One such effort is The Sold Project, which I just learned about today. The mission of The Sold Project is to inspire and empower individuals to stop child prostitution before it begins.

From The Sold Project's Web site:
The SOLD Project is a film and a movement. The purpose of the film is to tell the stories of children whose lives have been affected by prostitution, and allow those stories to inspire you to React. The purpose of the organization is to prevent the buying and selling of children by providing scholarships to children at risk. The SOLD Project also seeks to support our partner organizations in Thailand that work in the areas of rescue and rehabilitation for children at-risk.

I can think of hundreds of other deserving organizations and causes that Joaquin could spend his time on if that rap thing doesn't work out. He could help organizations such as The Foster Children's Foundation, which works to identify the many unmet needs of foster children and implement ways to both solve these issues and raise public awareness. The goal of the Foundation is to improve the quality of life for Foster Children and offer them many of the opportunities that non-fostered youth enjoy.

These are causes Joaquin could really sink his teeth into. Why go from being a famous actor to simply a glorified rap musician? "It's so redundant in the modern world."