Friday, September 29, 2006
Lone souls fill the city streets with heads down, walking, thinking, appearing oblivious to their surroundings yet there's no doubt each one sees the other. For some reason there's this perception that if we dont connect we're better off and thus, more times than not you see folks with their heads down, tracing the path of the sidewalk, on their way to wherever they're going. And I say to this, lift each other up with a hello and maybe a smile 'cause nine times out of ten you will leave that moment wanting to say thanks because it came exactly when you needed it.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Reading about diversity today as reported by the newspaper. The only kind of diversity that sticks out in my mind is the haves versus the have nots. I work in Pasadena but live near Figueroa and Century. I'm a "have" though I work hard for the little that I got. I'm surrounded by "have nots." When I drive home, I take the harbor freeway and get off on Century. I noticed that they got what looks like twenty foot walls on the side of the freeway, designed to muffle the sound of all the traffic zooming by but if you ask me, I say it's designed to keep folks from seeing poverty. Them walls seem to disappear once you get out of South Central. That's diversity.
When I'm coming home, I make a right turn on my street and feel good that I've got a home to come to. But then I look down the street and see young ladies on the corner looking half naked and desperate. I was at a stoplight today and a young woman walked across the street holding her pants up with one hand and carrying a purse that looked like it came out the trashcan, in her other hand. Her clothes were dirty. Her skin looked like she hadn't bathed in months; maybe even a year. Makes you wonder sometimes. I look in the direction from which this female came from and I see a church with it's doors closed but I can't talk because I wouldn't let this lady in my house either. I ain't proud of those feelings but they right there in whatever part of my soul that causes me to judge everyone and everything I see like these local liquor store owners that ease up when they see I look neither hungry, homeless, or threatening.
So, everyday on my lunch break I walk over to the park. I sit and read my newspaper. I might have a little snack now and then but mostly I like to relax and catch up with the news. Ain't nothing new that I read about but I just like to keep current. Ain't no park in my area for miles and whenever I do drive over to the nearest one, I gotta keep track of the time 'cause things change when night time comes. Those have not's begin to take and like my mama once told me, I ain't always in my right mind so I will try to defend myself and make it a long day for anybody trying to take what belongs to me. The world that I read about in the newspaper is just a soundbite to reality. Counting blessings go hand in hand with counting how many lives were lost over the course of a weekend.
Diversity... Children smiling behind a backdrop of crime, grafitti, drugs, and the devastation of being the less fortunate. Ten mintues away from where I live you see this image on a day to day. I often wonder why there's so many police officers patrolling a small project housing area. Is it truly to protect and serve or to make sure nobody leaves. Twenty minutes away is Beverly Hills. You dont see police that often. As you walk around you can listen to the breeze. People are smiling. Some might even say hello and wish you a pleasant day. You can fill up your car at the gas station without being approached by a bunch of people that want to pump your gas or wash your windows. You can stand back an relax as the gas fills your tank without someone offering to sell you CD's and DVD's. I love my home and I even love my neighborhood but diversity to me is all about the differences you find based on where you live. I see it all everyday as I make my commute from South Central LA to Pasadena. LA ain't really growing. It's just filling up and getting crowded. The noise level be the only true thing that grows. People talking louder everywhere you go. People shouting into cellphones. Everybody gotta have music playing. Nobody appreciates a good dose of silence. That's why I come to the park on my lunch break. I welcome the night time at home though my heart goes out every once in a while when I hear a distant gunshot or some life altering foolishness that goes on in the streets. Those of us that got homes in this area can lock our doors, turn up the television and block it all out. I'm one of the "have's" so I'm guilty of avoiding what's outside my door. I haven't built a wall up but I do from time to time, look away... Then I read the newspaper about diversity and wonder what are they really celebrating because once they recognize who you are, you are then directed towards where they believe you should be... Back to work...
Sunday, September 17, 2006
It dont matter who's looking, I'ma get my party on! Shake my ass like a skinny girl. Twirl around like my homegirls wish they could do. I've got the sun shining all over me like God put the spotlight on a sistah, himself. Got my tight jeans on soaking it all up and everybody sitting around trying to figure out where I get the nerve to do what I do. They all know they wanna join me. Every other face got a smile. They watching me and lovin it. Lovin the way all of me jiggles and lovin it when I wiggle. They dont want none of this 'cause they can't handle it. But they all wish they could... handle it... *smile*
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Saturday was a good day once I shook off the morning laziness I was feeling after enjoying my sleep a little too much. I woke up later than I wanted to simply because I stayed up until about 7:30am. I laugh at myself because I got caught up in watching the movie version of Fat Albert. (LOL!) Yeah, that's funny but it's cool... I never saw it before when it first came out. I couldn't see myself going to a movie theatre to watch it and after that I pretty much forgot the movie existed. I have to admit that what also kept me glued to the television was the fact that that sexy actress whose name escapes me now was in it. I think she's puerto rican. I remember seeing her in Spike Lee's movie, She Hate Me. whew... beautiful...
But anyway, back to Saturday... I challenged myself to go out and take some incredible pictures because my good friend Kim sent me pictures from her day spent hanging out in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. I figured I'd see what I could do hanging out somewhere so I could send her some cool shots. I hope to convince her to work on a collection to put together in book form showing images, people, neighborhoods, etc etc that represent where she is(Atlanta) and where I am(LA). The book may take on a different theme being that I like to travel and especially love photographing the life and mystery that I often find when I'm in the south.
Speaking of the south, today as I was hanging out in Santa Monica trying to capture some incredible images to send to Kim, I heard some blues guitar and a haunting voice singing on the beach. I looked and found this bluesman in the picture above sitting leaned up against a bathroom wall. I listened to him for a little bit before taking a few pictures of him. Then I approached him so I could get a closer listen and to maybe talk for a bit. I smiled as I walked up. He'd seen me taking pictures of him. He bragged about his skills.
"Check this out here! This aint no amplification. This ain't no tape recorder and ain't no electricity anywhere near me! This is some real playing and some real sang'n!" He said.
"Yes, sir..." I threw some money in his case.
Then I asked him a question that seemed to put him in a very happy state of mind. It was like I'd hit a magical switch that touched his heart.
"Why you not playing in Memphis or in Clarksdale, Mississippi? You sounding real authentic like you belong where this kind of music was born at."
"Ha! You know the blues then, huh? Shoot, life bring me here some kind of way. I been on the streets for years but at least me coming down here by the beach I always got a way to make a few dollars and keep myself clean. They got all them little showers around here which come in handy."
"I hear you..."
"Yes, sir but you know, I try to be what you call, discreet about it. I mean, these hotels so close by and all. These visitors trying to see bikini girls. They dont wanna look out they window at some skinny black man's behind tryna run up under some water! Ahhh ha haa... You know what I'm sayun? Shoot..."
I laughed and enjoyed the spirit of this bluesman. Seemed like he needed someone to stop by and greet him in a friendly way. He played his music and some people would drop money here and there but nobody said hello or stopped to talk with him. He thanked me with pride before I walked away and smiled for as long as we made eye contact. The way he played he really should be in Mississippi playing the blues and being treated like a king because his voice sounded like it was coming from a radio. It was nice to put a smile on his face...
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Yo! First it was Halle searching every corner of every local bookstore just to get a glimpse of my book and now we have the most incredible musician/performer on the planet taking a break and losing himself inside the pages of my masterpiece.... My Life Is All I Have. Prince can't get enough of the unconditional love found inside the pages of this incredible read...
Ummm...uhhh..what time is it! lol... DISCLAIMER TIME... In a perfect, fabulous, dreamed about world this image above would be true. Nah, Prince ain't holding my book(though he should) but it just goes to show you, you can't always believe what your eyes may see. What's below the surface? Behind the curtain? Behind those eyes? Underneath that skin? And in the case of the picture above, Prince is actually holding a Hawaii travel guide... *smile* Ha ha!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Just like the picture above of the Bird Soldiers almost standing at perfect attention, this was almost a perfect weekend. Actually, any weekend where there's great experiences, memorable moments, cool conversations and as my good friend Jody would say, "rainbows passing by" you know it's been a good one. Perfection might be if I were to catch one of those rainbows and spend good quality time. Jody always tells me to catch one but none of the moments were right for me to do that. Rainbows represent the ladies for those that might not catch what I'm saying.. *smile*
Anyway, this weekend was cool and it was slightly sad... I got stood up by my "ex." Ha! Actually, that falls under the cool category because despite it being her idea to hook up and hangout, I knew she wouldn't follow through-- like always. Life goes on and so it did in a more special way. Spent time visiting my grandmother who is in a rest home right now. She looked strong. She looked good though it's a tough one getting used to her being there rather than being active at home like she used to be.
As I was visiting my grandmother, there were also two other women in the room with her. Each room has three beds separated by curtains. My grandmother is in the middle bed. To the left of her is a white woman, very frail and sleeps all the time. Every once in a while she mumbles something. As I stood there, my mother who was also visiting and my grandmother sort of brushed off what the white woman was saying. "She does that all the time; it's nothing," my mother said as my grandmother agreed. Thing about it, to me when an elderly person who is pretty much at the end of her life mumbles something, it's never "nothing." I listened to her and could sense that somewhere in her mind, this white woman's life was passing before her. She was saying words that sounded as if she were having a conversation with a loved one; possibly her husband. This lady actually looked like she was once a very beautiful woman perhaps when she was young but now she was curled up and so frail.
To the right of my grandmother was another very frail woman with salt and pepper hair and a tube in her nose. She was also asleep the whole time. She was a black woman with a beautiful face despite her elderly appearance. They said she had just been brought into the rest home. She was also lying in bed curled up. She reminded me of my grandmother on my father's side. As I stood there, moments later a stunning young woman walked into the room. She placed her hand on the frail black woman's shoulder to see if she'd wake up but she didn't. I could tell that this young woman was probably the grand daughter. She looked at me, smiled and said hello. And then I witnessed something that I so badly wanted to capture with my camera but all I could think was that I'd only be intruding on a very precious moment. The young woman leaned over and placed her face against her grandmother's and closed her eyes. It was like she was connecting with her through spirit. It was really a touching moment and then I turned away. After a couple minutes I looked again and noticed the young woman had left.
After some good time spent with my grandmother I hit the streets and had a blast. Took some pictures, met up with some friends and even met someone new; a young lady named Nadia. That's where the cool conversation of the weekend comes in. Nadia was funny, very cheerful, sexy, very touchy/feely, and a beautiful happy spirit. She's originally from Long Island and hasn't been in LA very long; maybe a month or two. She seems like she has a lot to learn and I pray she gains wisdom fast. I loved her accent and the way she kept putting the word "mad" practically before every word... *smile* Maybe not every word but she said it a lot! mad-this...mad that....yo! I was lovin it. She scooted up close and gave me a hug. She kept touching my hands and forgetting that she asked me some of the same questions already. "Uh-oh, we got mad chemistry, yo.." she said to me as I gripped her hand. "I like you. I hope I'm not talkin too much. Am I messin up your flow?" she said as she looked around thinking I might be looking at other women. "Nah..." I said. we parted ways after she gave me her phone number and kept repeating as her voice faded away "you gonna call me, right? Yo...come on..call me...okay?" She was mad cool.. *smile*
It was hot in the valley where I live so I chilled for a while in Venice near the beach. I walked along the canals. Yeah, there's a neighborhood with canals for streets and everybody got little boats if they wanna cruise around. Ducks are all over the place quacking like crazy but sounding like they're laughing. Everybody seems happy to live in this neighborhood so pretty much everyone says hello in passing. You usually find that out here in neighborhoods where people love to come home.I got a dose of some latin christian hip hop music on Venice Beach that was pretty good. It was a group called Sons Of God performing near the boardwalk. They basically sounded like Tupac with religious words. And every step of my weekend journey was filled with visions of those rainbows.. It ended with a nice semi-bigtime moment as a young lady said to me "oh my God, I know you! I'm like halfway finished with reading your book! It's very good! That book about that girl named Leesha? You wrote that, right?" I was like, whoa... my little minute of fame... Now its time to get back to reality and look forward to next weekend..
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I'm winking at Bloopty-Bloop with this one! lol.. It's the return of Mista Semi-Bigtime! Yeah, that's me... Giving a shoutout to myself as I'm featured in this new online magazine, written, produced, and directed by bestselling author, NOIRE who is making a huge splash in the literary world right now. I'm honored and blessed to be included in the first issue of her magazine which really looks good. I wish it were on the newstands just so I could hold a copy in my hands... If you're surfing the net be sure to check it out at www.NOIREMagazine.com Dont just checkout my interview but checkout the entire magazine.. It's real cool reading...
Monday, September 04, 2006
As the police vans rolled in one by one across the Venice Boardwalk, the fella above with electric guitar in hand yelled out "Here they come! Homeland IN-security!" Then he hit us all with a barrage of electric sounds that spoke volumes to those passing by. Most would agree that this brotha needs to learn him some chords!!! His heart was in it and he posed real good...
That's how my weekend began and it's been a hot one in Southern Cali. The energy out here is a mixture of positive and negative. The heat brings out the worst in folks, especially those behind the wheel of an automobile. People honking for no reason or speeding to get around you-for no reason. Just people generally acting a fool.
I had a fabulous booksigning on Saturday at Zahras Books & Thangs located in LA on La Brea. I had a good time. Again feeling the heat. Sweating and greeting folks that came in the door. Most that came in already had my book or had seen it advertised around town and thought about getting it. Everybody promised to get it in the future, meaning that despite my fun-filled two hours chatting with the friendly customers and enjoying my visit with beautiful Trisha behind the counter and the beautiful owner Renee, I sold zero books! lol.. That's the hazards of booksignings.. Sometimes you do great and other times you do nothing at all but it can still be fun.
As always whenever I do a signing there's one person that comes in and takes up at least fifteen to thirty minutes of your time talking typically about a desire to write a book or questioning why black folks dont buy and/or support black product. I had one of those moments but I appreciated it and went with the flow. Killed some time and bonded with the brotha for a few minutes. He was there looking for some mystery books so I told him about a few that he promised to come back and buy along with my book.
Sunday, I went to the annual African American Marketplace festival. People were walking around with umbrellas or knocking each over trying to find some shade. It was funny. The vibe at the festival was really nice and positive. Great music filled the air. I heard over a loud speaker that Fantasia was moments away from performing onstage so I went over to the stage area. I took a look thinking I would hear some singing but instead it was a dance troupe of about eight little girls dressed in purple, doing their thang. It was cute. I enjoyed it. Then I got a request of a donation by some Dorsey Highschool cheerleaders. They looked like what I used to always term "future foxes" on their way to becoming serious heartbreakers. I donated some money and gave a poster card to them about my book since Dorsey High is featured in the story. My battery was low in the camera so I didn't bring it into the festival. I missed a lot of moments this weekend by not having the camera ready but just like that signing, you win some, ya lose some but you can always have a great time! :-)
After the festival I headed to my favorite Starbucks in the Ladera Center. You can always find several things there.. great gossip, beautiful ladies, cool cars and motorcycles... This time the air was filled with talk about a shooting that happened on Crenshaw Blvd. The fellas were all taken back by the lawlessness and disregard for life. One fella made an interesting comment that is also a sad reality... He said "one good thing about these dudes pulling the trigger lately is that they dont just spray a crowd with bullets. Now they walk right up on the muh-fukka and shoot him!" Everybody chimed in as another fella described what he heard about the shooting... "They said motorcycles was passing by so nobody really heard the shots eventhough it happened at 4:30 in broad daylight. Homeboy just walked up to the car and shot that dude six times, they said... Defintely on some retaliation tip. It dont matter how long it take. They'll wait to find you." After that, there was a little bit of silence for a moment and then a change of subject as a lovely lady walked inside Starbucks putting a smile back on everyone's face...
It's been a good weekend and now that the actual holiday is here, I'm planning to just chill, burn some food on the grill and relax.. It's still burning hot outside but eating good food makes it a lot more bearable... :-)