Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Saturday, December 29, 2012

TCBY: Frozen Yogurt on a Cold Winter Day

Gigi's Pick:
Cheesecake mixed with Root Beer Float, with sprinkles on top.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Celebrate Kwanzaa! The Nguzo Saba

Celebrate Kwanzaa! December 26 - January 1 

Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African cultural holiday that is centered around seven principles (called Nguzo Saba in Swahili). They are:
  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves -- stand up.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kwanzaa and the Film, The Black Candle

Are you thinking of celebrating Kwanzaa this year, but not sure what it's all about? Check out the film The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration, directed by MK Asante and narrated by Madame Maya Angelou. Asante's film not only tells the story of the meaning, history and legacy of Kwanzaa, it also tells the provocative story of the African journey from a stripped and tortured people to the descendants who continue to tell their ancestors' stories, struggles, defeats and victories. This film calls for Africans in the diaspora to live the principles of the Nguzo Saba with courage and conviction.

Take a look at The Black Candle:

Visit the Web site for the film to find our more about it and how you can sponsor showings of The Black Candle

And if you haven't guessed, we need to practice these principles ALL YEAR LONG. A luta continua!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Don't Worry....I'll Wait for You

Your real friends don't mind when you take a little break and do your own thing for a minute. They'll always be there when you get back.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pecan Pie? Thank You, but......

I had lunch with a group of really nice people at work today and one of the desserts offered, after we ate our bagged lunches, was miniature pecan pies. 

Since I was a child, I’ve had an aversion to pecan pie or anything similar to it. It all started when I got sick as a dog after eating some of my grandmother’s pecan pie. Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother, who lived in North Carolina, was a great cook and pies were probably her specialty. But on this occasion after eating her pie, my stomach churned for the better part of a day, and although I didn’t throw up, I’m sure I had diarrhea. Thinking back, I believe at one point I loved her pecan pies, which may have been the problem. I think I liked them a little too much and ate too much of it. That just proves the old saying – too much of a good thing can be bad for you. I learned the hard way.

On the other hand, I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s Chess pie and started making my own years ago. Granted, I only make them on special occasions or to sell them.

Chess pie

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Who Can I Turn To?

I found a journal entry from Jan. 2, 2000 that made me just want to go back to my younger self and give myself a big HUG! My 2000 self was so sad sometimes and lost. Ladies, do yourself a favor, go back to your younger self (however you see her -- in a dream, your visions, a picture, or an old journal entry) and give her some LOVE and support.

I'd love to share the whole entry here but it's really too personal. But here's a line that perhaps some of you can identify with, if not now, then back in time. You will know the resounding answer to the problem, just after you read the line.

"Sometimes I am so lost and don’t know where or who to turn to."

OK, so now let's hear your response, in unison.......GOD! You need to turn to GOD.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Jeremy DeCarlos in "Red" at Actor's Theatre of Charlotte

“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.”   -- Mark Rothko

The play Red by John Logan reveals the fierce passion and intensely opinionated nature of Abstract Expressionist painter, Mark Rothko. In the play, Rothko and his assistant and protégé Ken are deep into working on a commissioned series of paintings for the new Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. Red is a duet between Rothko, an anxious artist who fought against commercialism and a love-hate relationship with success, and Ken, his assistant who represents the new blood of the art world, with the new generation’s fresh ideas and strong opinions about what art really is.

In the Actor's Theatre of Charlotte production of Red, Ken is played by Jeremy DeCarlos, who at 31, has already played lots of juicy parts in such plays as Pippin, American Buffalo, Topdog/Underdog, and Gem of the Ocean at ATC. DeCarlos, also an accomplished musician (he plays the guitar, violin, and other instruments), says he chose acting as a career because as an actor he gets to be all the people he dreamed of being as a child – the chance to try his hat at all kinds of roles is endless. Here's what DeCarlos had to say about art and Red

What actors have inspired you?

My sensible answers to this question would be, like, Will Smith or Idris Elba. Maybe Johnny Depp to an extent. My honest answers would be more James Dean and Montgomery Clift. Marlon Brando. And since my tastes range greatly and I’m inspired by many actors, I also dig on Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves. What can I say?

What did you know about Rothko before you got the part of Ken, Rothko’s assistant and protégé in Red?
I knew he had something to do with paint! Art history was never my strong suit, though at one point I did want to become an artist. After I read the script, it became clear the vast amount of research that I felt compelled to do, and this was before casting. I was and am genuinely intrigued by Rothko. I was surprised to learn how abrasive he could be perceived, but the rigid delicacy he applied to his creations is nothing short of inspiring. Much like Shakespeare, who when writing plays would 'instruct' you in how to perform them, Rothko demands you view his art a certain way. And when you follow his directions, the result is breathtaking.

What do Rothko’s paintings say to you?
Conflict. All those fuzzy rectangles should be that, but with Rothko even simplicity is complex: his rectangles are moving, fluid. As it mentions in the script, his works pulsate and the depths of what that means to the viewer.

"Untitled" by Rothko
Do you and the main character actually paint during the play? If so, what do you paint?
We do paint. What we do is try to bring to life the inner workings of an art studio. So, a lot of our business onstage as actors is to build frames, mix paint and prime canvases. What we do is a theatrical representation on priming a canvas.

Did you have to go through some sort of artist workshop in order to portray a painter onstage or have you had previous training as a painter?
In college I had the privilege of working closely with artists. Literally. The art building and the theater were next to each other. I made several artist friends, and would later live off campus as roommates with them, and I made it a point then to capitalize on my curiosity. In preparing for this role I reached out to those artists still around and grilled them for all it was worth. I got their opinions on Rothko, art history and most importantly crash courses in techniques like how to hold brushes properly.

I understand there are lots of references to some great thinkers in the play like Nietzsche, Freud, Jung and Shakespeare. How did you prepare for this type of intellectual role?
Freud and Jung I had previously studied in college, so I was familiar with them. I also studied with the South Carolina Shakespeare Company for several seasons, and that was like a boot camp- I mean that in the best way possible. Shakespeare? Got it. Nietzsche I had only dabbled in, so I went straight to the reference in the play, The Birth of Tragedy. I was struck by how long I had lived without reading it- I related to the material quite easily and the discussion of the symbiosis between Dionysian emotion and Apollonian form is incredibly relevant to what I do as an actor.

How are Ken and Rothko similar and/or different?
They're both competent and knowledgeable painters, to say the least. Rothko certainly more so. Ken is more at the cusp of his prime, whereas Rothko is on the tail end of his. The main difference is that Rothko believes that his movement is and will be the only movement, and Ken challenges that notion.

Who are some well-known artists that you admire?
I've been a fan of Banksy for a while now, not to be all hipster about it. But, I love that mix of art, social awareness and hooliganism that exists with Tagging when done properly, and Banksy's work is amazing in that way. The way he plays with depth and that ink-pad stamp look. Almost Escher for the streets.

"Triptich" by Rothko
What artwork is hanging in your home now? Why did you choose work by those artists?
I'm a minimalist, or a poor interior decorator, take your pick. I'm currently rocking some off beige affair from Sherwin Williams in my walls. However, I did fall into the Che Guevara art movement of the early 00's. I had plenty of the 'Hasta la Victoria Sempre' stuff all over that didn't survive the move. To be fair, I did study Che quite extensively, but it was certainly fueled by public interest. Now, I have little pieces like a block with a murder of crows painted by a local artist and a strange multicolored ceramic elephant with a cracked trunk that was unearthed in NoDa. I found it walking my dog and fell in love with it.

What do you like most about the character you portray?
I like that he has a legitimate arc. Some characters journeys are greater than others, and Ken's journey is pretty epic. He grows, he has to. He takes shots in the beginning but learns to defend himself, to speak his mind, to lay stake to his claim. And it's done intellectually.

What do you think the audience learns about Rothko and Ken by the end of the play?
I think the audience will learn that Rothko was a dedicated and opinionated painter who maybe lost his way later in his life and that Ken, while talking Rothko away from the ledge, may likely carry a little of Rothko's spirit into the Pop Art movement.

The last production of Red will be held Saturday, December 1, 8 p.m. at the Actors Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E. Stonewall Street, Charlotte. Call 704-342-2251 for more information. Also, Look for DeCarlos in ATC’s upcoming production of The Whipping Man.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Marvin Gaye: The Genius of Trouble Man

Here's the latest news on my Washington, D.C., genius musician homie, Marvin Gaye.

Lenny Kravitz has been cast to play Gaye in a film about the singer's life, from his time in London in 1981, to his secluded years in Ostend, Belgium, where music promoter Freddy Cousaert took him to recover from various addictions. Julien Temple, who is known for his documentary London: The Modern Babylon and a film about the Sex Pistols, will direct the film.

This month also marks the 40th anniversary of Gaye's masterpiece, the soundtrack to the film Trouble Man. The movie wasn't so great, but the recording is filled with some of the most compelling movie music ever made. From the main theme, "Trouble Man," "Cleo's Apartment," "Abbey Walsh," to "T Plays it Cool" and "Life is a Gamble," the listener gets a full experience of a tense and action-packed story just by listening to Gaye's funky, sensual, and dramatic music.

As a testament to Gaye's timeless sensibilities, tunes from the Trouble Man soundtrack have been used many times by artists such as Kanye West, T.I., Angie Stone, Raashan Ahmad, and on and on. Certainly with more to come.

Hip-O released a brand-new edition of Trouble Man to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The new 2 CD expanded edition will feature the remastered original soundtrack recording, plus 29 unreleased performances, including alternate takes, rare vocals, and the full score for the film. It's a must-have (Well at least, I gotta have it).

See the full track listing for "Trouble Man"

Here are two jewels from the sountrack: "Trouble Man" and "Cleo's Apartment"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quvenhzané Wallis Wins Her First Award

This little girl is going places -- ya heard? After I saw Quvenhzané play Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild, I couldn't get her tough, lovable, and wise character out of my mind. Please take your little girls, especially your little brown girls, to see this. They'll never forget it and will undoubtedly be inspired by this story about a girl's resilient and unbreakable spirit as she braves a Katrina-like storm in the Bayous of Louisiana.

Here's a blog post from the Beasts of the Southern Wild website and the Youtube clip of Quvenhzané Wallis accepting her first (of many, I'm sure) awards for her portrayal of Hushpuppy.

Back in October, Quvenzhané Wallis received the New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Film Awards, joining the ranks of previous recipients like Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Lawrence, Gabourey Sidibe and Felicity Jones. Her acceptance speech from the night was recently released on YouTube and we can not stop smiling. From a sassy six year old from Houma, Louisiana to a confident and grounded young girl on the Hollywood stage, we are so proud of our Hushpuppy!

Just Because....

Just because a lot of people are doing it (whatever it is), doesn't make it right.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Obama Cries

President Barack Obama gives a heartfelt thanks to his campaign workers. In explaining to them how he wanted to live a life of purpose, he says:

"I wanted to make sure people living in poverty could get decent jobs and live in make sure people didn't have to go to the emergency room to get healthcare."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Al Gore on the Global Warming Crisis

“As many know, the Chinese expression for "crisis" consists of two characters side by side. The first is the symbol for "danger," the second the symbol for "opportunity."

―-Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It

And here's what I imagine Al Gore is saying as he watches the catastrophe of Sandy along the East Coast:

"I tried to tell ya! -- but y'all didn't wanna listen to me."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Governor Christie: I Like Working with the President

Hurricane Sandy brought out the best in New Jersey Governor Christie and President Obama


"I have to give the President great credit. He has been attentive to anything that I've asked for ... as far as I'm concerned, he's done a great job for New Jersey."


"I've got a job to do in New Jersey ... If you think, right now, I give a damn about Presidential politics, then you don't know me."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vote Early - Party Afterwards

Here's a message that I received this morning from a family member that I had to share with you. It's important because it urges everyone to get out and vote -- early if you can. I was determined to vote last night and did so at my neighborhood library. Not too surprisingly, there was almost a hiccup with my attempt to vote. There was a little mix up that happened when the poll worker was trying to determine my correct address. Needless to say, I was about to get loud until I thought to bring out my voter registration card, which I had handily tucked in my wallet. Let's be ultra prepared when we go to the polls OK? 

Here's the message: 

My People,

If you have early voting in your state I would like to challenge you to get up early and vote this Saturday! Get with your friends and make it an outing, meet for breakfast afterward, or a play date in the park for your kids.

The election is so important -- more important than just the 1st black President which is what the opposition wants you to think.

How about health care, taxes, education, the future of Social Security and Medicare, affirmative action -- even our right to vote! There is so much on the line we can’t be caught sleeping.

Please get out and vote as soon as you can!!!!

Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Dog in a Dream: What Does It Mean?

What does it mean when a dog inhabits your dream?

Some of the common themes regarding dreaming of a dog involve loyalty, lack of loyalty, protection, security, faithfulness, intuition, and the need to rediscover a talent that has been neglected.

A person who dreams about a dog could represent someone who has intuitive knowledge and follows their instincts, since a dog sees in the dark and has extraordinary hearing abilities. This person lives from inner feelings and follows directions with an animal-like instinct. The presence of a dog in dreams indicates male energy.

The dog in a dream can also represent danger -- of course this depends on whether the dog is barking, snarling, or attacking you.

If the dream involves you using the dog as a pillow, the dog represents a friend who will prove useful and whom the dreamer will be proud of.

So, a dog in a dream can represent a friend, lover, protector, foe, or potential enemy. It can indicate feelings of warmth, protection, and love, or anger and betrayal. It can point to the dreamer's gifts of intuition and perception, or aggressive impulses. This all depends on the stance of the dog in the dream.  Is he friendly and/or protective, or is he ferocious and on the attack?

Hmmmmm…… I’m glad to say that the dog most recently in my dreams was eerily persistent, but unexpectedly friendly and protective. What about you?

Youtube treat: What do dogs have to do with persistence?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Election Protection: Voting in North Carolina

You have the right to vote in North Carolina. Here's what you need to know about voting requirements for this state:
Most voters in North Carolina are not required to show identification. However, if you are a first-time voter and you did not provide your North Carolina driver's license or the last four digits of your social security number when you completed your voter registration application, or one or both of those numbers could not be validated, then you will need to provide ID the first time that you vote. If you are required to show ID, you must provide one the following:
-- A current and valid photo identification; or -- A copy of one of the following documents that shows your name and address: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document Note: Early voting (also known as One Stop Voting) is available from October 18, 2012 to November 3, 2012.
Have questions or need more information? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)! Visit Election Protection: You Have the Right to Vote! for more detailed information about your right to vote in North Carolina. Source: Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alicia's Movies Off the Beaten Path

Here’s a list of movies that I really love, that you probably haven’t seen before. Why not pick one, watch it, and post a comment here or send me an email with your comments about the film. I’d love to hear from you!

1. Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Directed by: Blake Edwards
Starring: Jack Lemon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, Jack Klugman

2. Gloria (1980)
Directed by: John Cassavetes
Starring: Gena Rowlands, John Adames, Buck Henry

3. For Love of Ivy (1968)
Directed by: Daniel Mann
Starring: Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln, Beau Bridges, Carroll O’Connor

4. Without You I’m Nothing (1990)
Directed by: John Boskovich
Starring: Sandra Bernhard

5. Claudine (1974)
Directed by: John Berry
Starring: James Earl Jones, Diahann Carroll, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs

6. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Directed by: Nicolas Gessner
Starring: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Scott Jacoby

7. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
Directed by: Robert Ellis Miller
Starring: Alan Arkin, Stacy Keach, Cicely Tyson

8. Birth (2004) Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Danny Huston, Lauren Bacall, Cameron Bright

9. Broken Flowers (2005)
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Tilda Swinton
Broken Flowers

10. Small Time Crooks (2000)
Directed by: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Tracey Ullman, Hugh Grant, Michael Rapaport

11. The Hairdresser’s Husband (1990)
Directed by: Patrice Leconte
Starring: Jean Rochefort, Anna Galiena

12. State and Main (2000)
Directed by: David Mamet
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin

13. Street Smart (1987)
Directed by: Jerry Schatzberg
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Christopher Reeve, Kathy Baker, Mimi Rogers

14. Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow

15. Blood In, Blood Out (1993)
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Slave Narrative: 121-Year-Old Sarah Gudger

Sarah Gudger
Here's an excerpt from Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1938, which contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.

Here's Sarah Gudger, Age 121 speaking:

I 'membahs de time when mah mammy wah alive, I wah a small chile, afoah dey tuck huh t' Rims Crick. All us chillens wah playin' in de ya'd one night. Jes' arunnin' an' aplayin' lak chillun will. All a sudden mammy cum to de do' all a'sited. "Cum in heah dis minnit," she say. "Jes look up at what is ahappenin'," and bless yo' life, honey, da sta's wah fallin' jes' lak rain.* Mammy wah tebble skeered, but we chillen wa'nt afeard, no, we wa'nt afeard. But mammy she say evah time a sta' fall, somebuddy gonna die. Look lak lotta folks gonna die f'om de looks ob dem sta's. Ebbathin' wah jes' as bright as day. Yo' cudda pick a pin up. Yo' know de sta's don' shine as bright as dey did back den. I wondah wy dey don'. Dey jes' don' shine as bright. Wa'nt long afoah dey took mah mammy away, and I wah lef' alone.

*(One of the most spectacular meteoric showers on record, visible all over North America, occurred in 1833.)

The Slave Auction
by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

The sale began—young girls were there,  
   Defenseless in their wretchedness,
Whose stifled sobs of deep despair  
   Revealed their anguish and distress.

And mothers stood, with streaming eyes,
   And saw their dearest children sold;
Unheeded rose their bitter cries,
   While tyrants bartered them for gold.

And woman, with her love and truth—
   For these in sable forms may dwell—
Gazed on the husband of her youth,
   With anguish none may paint or tell.

And men, whose sole crime was their hue,
   The impress of their Maker’s hand,
And frail and shrinking children too,
   Were gathered in that mournful band.

Ye who have laid your loved to rest,
   And wept above their lifeless clay,
Know not the anguish of that breast,
   Whose loved are rudely torn away.

Ye may not know how desolate
   Are bosoms rudely forced to part,
And how a dull and heavy weight
   Will press the life-drops from the heart.

Friday, October 12, 2012

VP Biden's Cheshire Cat Grin

Huh?... Ya see? Didn't I tell ya?

Did my homie from Delaware do the d*** thing last night or what? I was so proud and had maybe too much of a good time watching the debates. Here's the New York Times' take on the match.

October 12, 2012

Night of Withering Ripostes, Mostly Delivered by Biden

by Alessandra Stanley

Joe Biden knew Lloyd Bentsen.

Lloyd Bentsen was a friend of Joe Biden’s.

And the vice president made full use of his old Senate colleague’s 1988 debate playbook, shaking his head and scoffing pityingly at Representative Paul D. Ryan, trying to paint his opponent as a latter-day Dan Quayle.

Mr. Ryan was no Dan Quayle, but he did make the mistake of mentioning John F. Kennedy in an argument over whether tax cuts recharge the economy. Mr. Biden flashed a Cheshire Cat grin and said to Ryan, after waiting a beat to let the moment sink in, “So, now you’re Jack Kennedy?”

The vice presidential debate on Tuesday was supposed to be a reboot for the Obama campaign after the president’s dismal performance at his debate with the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, last week. Mr. Biden, clearly delighted to come to President Obama’s rescue, relished his role, addressing his opponent as “my friend” but dismissing his arguments as “malarkey.” He laughed at Mr. Ryan’s remarks so often and so heartily that at times he seemed like a guest at a comedy club roast, not a vice president debating the fate of the nation with his opponent.

It was a sharp and spirited debate, with both candidates delivering some lacerating blows, but Mr. Ryan at times seemed disconcerted by the sheer blowhard intensity Mr. Biden brought to the night. Mr. Ryan tried to be respectful, listening to the vice president with a tilted head, choirboy smile and puppy-dog eyes, but he showed his irritation when Mr. Biden kept interrupting to attack his policy on Medicare. “I know you’re under duress,” he told the vice president, prompting another belly laugh.

For Mr. Biden especially, the night was his chance to relive past debates and unleash his inner barroom brawler. He had to be contained and courteous when he debated Sarah Palin four years ago, lest he look like a bully. This time he let loose. And unlike the courtly Mr. Bentsen in 1988, Mr. Biden turned his temperature up, singeing the young man across the table with patronizing grins, but mostly withering retorts. His interruptive barrage was as relentless as his silent mugging for the camera.

Mr. Ryan held his own, but did look abashed when Mr. Biden mocked him for opposing the Obama stimulus, yet asking for government funds for his own district. “On two occasions, we — we — we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants,” Mr. Ryan said stiffly.

“I love that. I love that,” Mr. Biden said. “This was such a bad program, and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, the reason we need this stimulus — it will create growth and jobs.”

When Mr. Biden went after Mr. Romney’s infamous remark at a private fund-raiser about the “47 percent,” Mr. Ryan reminded the vice president of his own propensity for gaffes. “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way,” he said with a gotcha smile. Mr. Biden was not quite as amused.

Mr. Biden was not the only one in the room intent on rectifying his predecessor’s mistakes. Martha Raddatz of ABC News was the moderator, and she made a point of speaking forcefully, pushing the candidates to be specific and changing subjects abruptly. She seemed determined to be less passive and sleepy than Jim Lehrer of PBS was as moderator of the Obama-Romney debate.

Mr. Ryan made a point of praising Mr. Romney, even trying to soften his image by recounting a time when Mr. Romney gave money and attention to a couple whose children were badly injured in a car accident. It wasn’t the best example to use, because it prompted Mr. Biden to describe his own tragedy, when his wife and young daughter were killed in a car crash.

Here's a good analysis too from The Washington Post Biden Rattles Ryan

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gigi's Performance Art Card

Here's Gigi's contribution to Sheryl Oring's "I Wish to Say" performance art piece, created during the DNC in Charlotte.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Come See Beasts of the Southern Wild, Talk and Eat After

Hushpuppy and her dad brave a
Katrina-like storm in this fantasy film,
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Women, young and mature, are invited to view "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and gather after the film to talk about the strength and empowering spirit of the main character and what we can learn from this fiesty little girl named "Hushpuppy."

Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 4:30 p.m.

Film Venue: Regal Park Terrace Stadium 6 
Park Road Shopping Center
 4289 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209

Meetup after the viewing to talk about the film and eat:
Fuel Pizza, Park Road Shopping Center
4267 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209

If you'd like to join us, contact Alicia Benjamin at

Watch the Trailer:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Time Capsule: Joe Biden and Quven-zhané

Quven-zhané Wallis
As I was reading the Sept. 10 Time magazine special convention issue titled “The Democrats,” I was especially drawn to two articles. One is about Vice President Joe Biden and the other is a brief tidbit in The Culture section about the lead character in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Regarding my Delaware homie, Joe Biden:

This is at least the second article I’ve read about Biden that talks about his ability to warm up the crowd and identify with the everyday man and woman. In his article, “Let There Be Joe,” David Von Drehle discusses how Joe’s ability to schmooze with the people compliments Barack Obama’s coolness  -- in other words, the Obama-Biden ticket is well balanced.

Von Drehle writes:

Biden is Dixieland swing, Obama is Miles Davis. Biden's a banana split, Obama is grapefruit sorbet. Biden's a bubble bath, Obama a dip in a Minnesota lake. In the coming campaign for the hearts and minds of America’s remaining undecided voters, the hearts part is Biden’s brief.

No wonder. Biden, who affectionately calls his wife “Jilly,” and gives her all the credit for healing his family after losing his first wife and young daughter in a tragic car accident, seems to genuinely identify with and care for the hearts of Americans. When a woman at a diner said she might just invite him to visit the Walmart where she works, he tells her, “ I’m like a poor relative. I show up if I’m invited.”

And I bet he would. He’d probably even help to bag some of the groceries.

The very description of Beasts of the Southern Wild is enough to make me want to see this highly imaginative film, directed by Benh Zeitlin. Quven-zhané Wallis plays Hushpuppy, a 6-year-old who lives in a fictional town on the Louisiana coast struggling to survive a Katrina-like storm. The levees break and most of the animals die off in this fantasy tale about a girl whose resilience and imagination help her to not only stay alive, but also to save her ailing father and overcome the devastation. The glimpse of poetic voiceover by Wallis draws me even more to this story:

“When all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me, flying around in invisible pieces. Me and my daddy, we stay right here. We who this earth is for.”

Time writer Lily Rothman calls Wallis a breakout star who "could become the youngest actor ever nominated for an Oscar.” I sure would like to see that. I will definitely see this film very soon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Run-up to DNC 2012: CarolinaFest Photos

Drumming for Obama
at CarolinaFest 2012
Waiting for the
band to play
Checking out the art at the
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Dictating and writing as performance art.
Gigi's postcard to Obama
End of performance: Gigi puts her stamp on
her postcard to Obama.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

CarolinaFest: Kickin' Off the DNC 2012 in Charlotte

CarolinaFest 2012 kicked off the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte yesterday with crowds so thick, you’d think you were in the middle of rush hour madness in midtown Manhattan instead of uptown Charlotte. Once we found a LYNX Light Rail station that had available parking spaces where we could leave our car before boarding the commuter train uptown, we waited with the crowds on the platform for the train to take us to the excitement. I’m glad we went, as we got to see and feel the vibrancy coming from all the people who flocked to the city from all over the nation and probably other countries.


-- We got to hear some live music including West End Mambo, Jeff Bridges, and James Taylor. (I’m so sorry that we missed Anthony Hamilton sing the national anthem. I didn’t know until TODAY that he was scheduled to sing yesterday.)

-- Entrance to most of the museums was free and so we ventured into both the Mint Museum (one of our favorites) and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

-- We got lots of exercise! We had to walk from the Park and Ride area to the LYNX, and many blocks to get to the festival and through all the festival events. Phew!

-- Our attendance at CarolinaFest confirmed my decision to watch the DNC activities on TV, like folks in other parts of the country. I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of all that commotion for four days!

-- Gigi participated in a performance art project, staged by an assistant professor of art at UNC Greensboro, Sheryl Oring, at which the public was invited to dictate a postcard to the President. Oring organized a pool of typists at the Bechtler Museum, who asked Gigi and lots of other visitors what they would wish to say to the President if they could talk to him. The visitors dictated their responses as the typists, all dressed in 1960s style dresses and makeup, typed the responses on small sheets of white paper, using manual typewriters. The original copy of the postcards will be sent to the White House. I won’t divulge Gigi’s response entirely, but it had to do with supporting President Obama because of Romney and his policy ideas.

-- We tried to do this Presidential Experience tour on Friday, but it started raining and we couldn’t find the place – we walked for blocks and blocks looking for it. Maybe we’ll have more luck, when the parking ban is lifted uptown and we can actually park closer to the place.

Now, we’ll just sit back and relax at home while we watch the Democrats do their thing and observe President Obama accept the party’s presidential nomination. I’m expecting lots of good speeches, along with some surprises and laughs.

As Mos Def used to say at the beginning of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam – “Let’s Get it Goin’!”

 (Photos to come)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Killing Time ........ Not!

Here's my inspiration for today -- "Killing Time" by Tek 9 -- which reminds me of how little time I do have to actually "kill." This song has helped me come up with some more ideas for a performance piece that I'm working on. When I get a chance, I'll dance to it. Enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

More Myrtle Beach 2012

"Mama Day" by Gloria Naylor. Perfect
reading material for the beach.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Myrtle Beach 2012

Gigi and new friends
Hands in the sand
Ahhh, the ocean, so lovely...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bumpy's Lament and The Ave

In remembrance of Isaac Hayes (August 20, 1942 - August 10, 2008) here is his song "Bumpy's Lament" from the soundtrack for the 1971 film Shaft. Hayes was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972 for the "Theme from Shaft," making him the third African-American, after Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel, to win an Academy Award. He also won two Grammy Awards that year for the Shaft soundtrack.

I'm following "Bumpy's Lament" with the song that I always hear after it ("The Ave" by The Holland Tunnel Project), no matter what radio, CD, or mp3 recording comes after it in reality -- because this is the song that I included on my mixed tape, when I was still enjoying my hobby of creating mixed tapes. "The Ave" is the logical followup to Hayes' song, but I'm curious to know if other people can hear it. Can you tell why I chose "The Ave" to follow "Bumpy's Lament"?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Film Exposes Fraternity Hazing Practices

Aspiring gang members are exposed to extreme violence, including beat downs, verbal abuse, and sometimes sexual abuse. Gang members hit, stomp, and kick the wannabes and frequently use weapons to exact pain on their soon-to-be "brothers." Oftentimes the new members suffer broken bones, cuts, and contusions. Sometimes they die from the beatings. This blood-and-guts initiation process is also what many young men who pledge fraternities at some college campuses must endure. The humiliation is the same and so is the danger.
Hoping to inspire discussion and change around this tragic phenomenon, Nashville director, Jeff Obafemi Carr, created the film, He Ain’t Heavy, which tells the story of five young men who pledge a prestigious African-American fraternity in a raw, intense, and oftentimes disturbing way. Carr, a Nashville director, put five actors in realistic situations where they had to improvise their way through hazing by frat brothers (another group of actors), who interviewed, intimidated, and hazed the pledgees through a violent, whirlwind pledging process. “I watched these young men commit themselves to a process that many before them have been through,” Carr said. “Some call it Pledging. Others call it Hazing. I call it real.” And real it is. Along with the verbal abuse, hitting, pushing, and intimidation shown in the film is a repulsive scene toward the end of He Ain't Heavy that calls for the pledgees to pass raw eggs from mouth to mouth, repeatedly. Some viewers have left during this part of the film, and/or vomited, Carr said. The film ends with one of the pledgees, Hannibal, dropping to the ground on a football field after a physically grueling session demanded by the “big brothers.” A bystander calls 911, but not soon enough -- Hannibal dies before help arrives.
Hannibal’s ending recalls the real life hazing deaths that occur in the U.S. every year – most notably the death of Robert Champion Jr., the 26-year-old Florida A&M drum major, who was found dead on a bus after he was allegedly severely beaten by his band mates, Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity members. The University of Connecticut reports that since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on a college campus each year. As of February 12, 2010, 96 hazing-related deaths have occurred in fraternities and sororities – 90 males and 6 females, according to HazingPrevention.Org. Carr, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, who himself experienced intense hazing at Tennessee State University, said he made the film because he wanted to inspire honest discussions about hazing among college fraternities. Last week in Charlotte, a group of about 400 members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity saw the film during their national Leadership Summit. During the Q & A segment after the film, Phi Beta Sigma’s international president, Jimmy Hammock, denounced all forms of fraternity hazing and encouraged the members to help eradicate the practice from its initiation process. “There's a huge human cost in hazing," Hammock was quoted as saying in a article. “Someone has to step up and say enough is enough.” Watch the He Ain’t Heavy trailer:
How to See the Film: Carr plans to show He Ain’t Heavy, winner of the Nashville Film Festival’s Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature Film, at other college campuses this year and plans a theatrical release of the film next year. This Saturday, August 18 at 6 p.m., the film will be shown at the Peachtree Village International Film Festival in Atlanta at the W-Hotel. Check out the He Ain't Heavy Website

Monday, July 30, 2012

South African Woman to Lead African Union

Members of the African Union (AU) Commission may not shout, “All Hail the Queen” when they see Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma walk into a room, but they will give the lady their undivided attention, as she was elected on July 15 to serve as the new leader of the AU Commission — the first woman to hold the position.

South Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma, 63, was elected AU’s leader earlier this month, beating veteran incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon. Dlamini-Zuma has held cabinet positions in South Africa since 1994, when she was appointed health minister under Nelson Mandela. A pediatrician by trade, Dlamini-Zuma was appointed home affairs minister in 2009. Formerly married to South African President, Jacob Zuma (they were divorced in 1998), Dlamini-Zuma has a reputation that is distinct and separate from Zuma. Although the two are known to work together well as leaders, the new AU leader is known for her own brand of diplomatic and political savvy.

The goal of the AU, a pan-African organization made up of 54 member nations, is “to propel a united continent towards peace and prosperity."

During her acceptance speech the day after her election at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dlamini-Zuma said:

The future of our continent is inextricably linked with that of the rest of humanity, the world over. Africa must therefore take its rightful place among nations of the world as an equal reliable partner, and full member of the international community.

The new AU Commission leader has four years as leader of the organization to make her case.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crissy and Chaka Khan

You know how some songs make you think of people — especially those who aren’t with us anymore? Well, “You Got the Love,” by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan makes me think of my dear sister and friend Crissy (Crystal Saunders). Crissy — a staunch academic (she received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology), and a classically-trained pianist — could also clown around like the best of them. She and I have had many laughs and shared many fits of silliness and foolishness. We often would pick songs that came on the radio and talk about the lyrics, sing them to each other, and laugh at the emotion or meaning.

Well Crissy could have fun with “You Got the Love” for a very long time. She most enjoyed singing the first part, “Love me right. What's the matter with you? Hold me tight. Why must I tell you what to do?” She could hardly finish the “…what’s the matter with you,” before she would fall down laughing. And I laughed right along with her. Thanks for the laughs (and so much more) sister Crissy and may you R.I.P.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Patti Labelle: Me Gusta Tu Baile

One of my friends did have to show off her picture of Frankie Beverly that she took at the Charlotte concert with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Patti Labelle, and The O'Jays tonight. But that's alright. Even though I didn't make it, that doesn't mean I can't turn on my favorite Patti Labelle song and dance to it. Yes, this little known song by Patti Labelle is my favorite by her because she's got the Latin rhythm in there -- which is so good to dance to.

Here's sister Patti singing "Teach Me Tonight (Me Gusta Tu Baile)." She tells this guy to please "teach me how to dance because me gusta tu baile (I like the way you dance). Sing Patti!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

R.I.P. Ms. Melodie of Boogie Down Productions

(from the Global Grind)

Ms. Melodie of the hit '80s rap posse Boogie Down Productions has died, according to the Urban Daily.

Born Romona Parker in Brooklyn, New York, the rap star rose to fame with a cameo in the 1988 song "Self Destruction" alongside Heavy D, MC Lyte and Kool Moe Dee.

She was also known for her mega singles, "Hype According to Ms. Melodie," "Live on Stage" and a memorable cameo in Queen Latifah's "Ladies First" video.

Her first and only album, Diva, was released in 1989 via Jive Records.

Ms. Melodie is the ex-wife of legendary rapper KRS-One, who produced much of her debut album. She was survived by two sons.

A cause of death has not been released.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Biden: We ARE Our Brother's Keeper

Here, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, addresses the NAACP Convention in Houston on July 12 and may I say, he "put it down" and gave a keen rebuttal to Mitt Romney's weak and tired address to the same crowd, just a day before this one. This speech shows that Biden not only knows how to work a room, but says what he means and means what he says.

"We see an America, where in the words of the scripture: 'What you do unto the least of my brothren, you do unto me.' President Barack Obama says, We are our brother's keeper."

Here is the speech in its entiretly because, quite frankly, you need to hear this:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lest We Forget: Slave Patrol and Runaway Posts

If there are some good examples of terroism out there, these would be high on the list:

From the South Carolina Gazette Oct 28, 1732

RUN AWAY from his Master's Plantation, in the Parish of St. James's Goose Creek, a lusty Negro Man named Hercules, he formerly used to wait on his Master in Charlestown, and is now by Trade a Cooper [barrel maker]. He had on when he went away a blue Duffils Jacket, a pair of ozenbrig Breeches, and speaks very good English. Whoever apprehends and brings him either to the said Plantation in Goose-Creek, or to his Master Robert Hume on Charlestown Neck, shall receive 5 [lb] reward, besides the usual Allowance for Mileage. Robert Hume

August 13, 1737

RUN AWAY from the Plantation of Isaac Porcher on Wassamsaw, a new Angola Negro Man, named Clawss, he is a small Fellow, and very black, he had on when he went away a Breeches, Jacket and Cap of white Plains, pretty much worn and dirty, any Person who shall apprehend the said Negro Man, and bring him to his Master, or to Goal in Charlestown, or give Information so as he may be had again, shall receive 2 [lb] reward and all Charges paid by Isaac Porcher. N.B. As there is an abundance of Negroes in the Province of that Nation, he may chance to be harbour'd among some of them, therefore all Masters are desire to give notice of their Slaves who shall receive the same reward, if they take up the said Run-away.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

Tupac: The Uncut Prison Interview

Believe it, Tupac had some sense. He just let it get away from him...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Me and a Dove

Alternate title: Me and a Found Painting

Monday, June 11, 2012

AT&T Workers in Califonia, Nevada Walkout

Photo by Anonymous

In support of a friend's effort to stand with her union to renegotiate a fair contract, here's an article from the Los Angeles Times about an AT&T workers' protest that started last Friday, and a photo to go with it.

Thousands of AT&T workers in California and Nevada have walked off their jobs, the latest development in an acrimonious contract negotiation that has dragged on for months.

AT&T landline workers in hundreds of locations gathered to protest what they saw as AT&T's unfair contract demands, which they say include "massive healthcare cost-shifting to workers and their families," as well as reductions in AT&T worker retirement security, according to the Communications Workers of America, the union to which the employees belong.

The contract for 40,000 AT&T workers around the U.S. expired two months ago, and the company has since failed to reach an accord with the CWA. The CWA’s 9th district, which includes California and Nevada, covers 18,000 AT&T landline workers.

Libby Sayre, a CWA spokeswoman, said that the actions on Friday did not amount to a full-blown worker strike, and were only likely to last through the day. Although the contract negotiations have been "excruciatingly slow and time-consuming," she said, "we'd much rather get a contract without a strike."

Workers have been further incensed by remarks made in a memo from an AT&T executive, Betsy Farrell. In the memo, obtained by the Times, Farrell writes that when workers leave their jobs, "The company doesn't suffer. In fact, these actions help us financially when we don't pay you."

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Heavy Quote from Dawna Markova

I was quite taken with this quote and inspired by it, but when my father called and left a message for me saying, "The first line from this quote you sent me is heavy, as a matter of fact, all of it is heavy," then I knew I had to post it. Here it is:

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

-- Dawna Markova

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Yoruba Proverb: For the Children

"Make a bed for the children of other people in the place where your own children sleep."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Civic Duty: Registering People to Vote

Crystal and Sarah
My Voter Registration Cohorts
As you can well imagine, workers for the Obama campaign have swarmed the city of Charlotte, getting ready for the Democratic National Committee convention scheduled to be held here in early September.

I got in on the action last Saturday as a volunteer for Organizing for America, a community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee. Throughout that day and for several weeks to come, volunteers will help register people to vote, as I did, throughout the city.

As a first-time volunteer, I didn’t know what to expect and just showed up ready to sign folks up so they could exercise their right to vote – no matter what party they’re affiliated with.

I met some field organizers in the Habitat for Humanity parking lot on Wendover and was sent to a major retail store in East Charlotte to ask people, who weren’t already registered to vote, to do so. My cohorts, Crystal and Sarah and I, drove to the establishment, stood outside in front of the place and went to work. What we found was that most of the people were already registered. And some weren’t eligible because of their citizenship status and other reasons.

The first woman I registered to vote, Jaimie, had recently moved to Charlotte from Ashville, so yes indeed, she needed to get on the roster. She filled out the registration form, but wouldn’t allow me to take her photo (darnit). She was a really nice lady who said she moved to Charlotte because after four years of working at a job in Ashville, she was not given a raise. She came to Charlotte for a better opportunity. Her mate (boyfriend or husband – I didn’t ask) declined to vote as he was an ex-felon and thought he was ineligible. I tried to explain to him that if you've been convicted of a felony in North Carolina, you only temporarily lose your citizenship rights, including the right to vote. BUT you automatically get those rights back after you serve all parts of your sentence, including probation, parole and restitution. You do not need a special document saying your rights are restored. You just register and vote like any other citizen.

But he wasn’t convinced and walked to his car while Jaimie signed up. I also met a nice gentleman from my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware who was with his two adult sons. Of course, he was already registered in Delaware and couldn’t register again, but I did find out that he used to teach at my alma mater – William Penn High School!

We were at this retail store for only an hour when we realized we were being monitored from the security room of the store. Yes, that’s right – we were being WATCHED! So, as you might guess, the manager of the store sauntered out to Crystal and politely told her that we didn’t have permission to be there and had to leave. “Really?” Crystal asked. “Wow, OK, we didn’t know.” And so we left.

When we got back to the Habitat for Humanity parking lot, Crystal and Sarah joined another volunteer and walked over to some nearby retail stores to register more people, but I had to go and pick up Gigi. So that was my first experience registering people to vote. I’m sure I’ll try it again before the summer is over.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chuck Brown Took Us to the Go Go

Y’all didn’t think I was gonna let Chuck Brown’s passing go without a tribute, did ya? I might have been raised in Delaware, but look to the right and check out where I was born. Anyway, Go Go has had its admirers all up and down the East Coast and eventually, the world.

I’ve always known that Go Go has influenced music outside the D.C. area, even though it is an indigenous Chocolate City creation. But after listening to tributes paid to Brown on various radio stations, I’m even more convinced.

What I didn’t realize is how heavily some groups have used the Go Go sound —think, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Salt & Pepper, Kurtis Blow, Beyoncé, Jill Scott, and on and on.

Here's the way Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times describes Go Go: “Featuring remarkable Afro-Cuban polyrhythms via pounding congas and rototoms, punctuated bursts of brass and Brown shouting out call-and-response phrases alongside grooves that extended many songs to over eight minutes long — and, more importantly, almost two or three times that in a live setting.”

Yes, Brown knew how to get a party started and keep it going all night long. There’s no other music that makes me want to get up and dance as much as Go Go. I’m sure it's my love of Latin and African music that draws me to Go Go, since by Chuck’s own admission, he uses the Latin and African percussion sounds as a foundation for his invention.

After doing several stints in prison for robbery, Brown started working as a professional musician in the early 1960s with Jerry Butler and The Earls of Rhythm. In 1965, he joined the group Los Latinos, a band that played Top 40 music with a Latin flavor.

Brown, born Charles Louis Brown in Gaston, N.C., on Aug. 22, 1936, was raised in poverty by his mother, Lyla Louise Brown, a housekeeper. He never knew his father. Brown remembers: “We’d go to somebody’s house and [my mother] would say, ‘Please feed my child. Don’t worry about me. Just feed my child.’”

He may have been born poor, but he lived a rich, music-filled life that made the world of music a whole lot spicier. Thank you Godfather – and may you rest in peace.

Check out this precious clip from Brown’s interview at the National Visionary Leadership Project, an organization co-founded by Camille O. Cosby and Renee Poussaint.

Here’s “Bustin' Loose" -- Chuck's most popular hit: