Sunday, February 26, 2006

On This Here Rock

I think my mom should apply to study at the seminary. She would do well there. She did write her master's thesis on the Black Church and she identifies with it. She is not really a risk taker, but being retired, why not? Maybe she should think about it. Lately she has been asking me about paradigm shifts and stuff like that (can you freakin' imagine?). I have some books on critical theory and cultural studies I am sliding her way.

I went to the Christian publisher with my mother who has been trying her holiest to get me to work for. It was an essential stop for her as she prepared for her church focus group presentation. And it was an essential part of her learning to be a leader and learning she does have what it takes to lead a ministry. She wanted me to come so I could give my opinion about the books. I just sat there and read each selection she was deciding on. The theme was pastorial care. I got into the subject matter and so did she.

The interesting thing is that I did not know that critical theory has had such a long rang effect on how we communicate. There were all these discussions on paradigms, other discussions on minisitries that deal with people that are outside of the traditional church community. People like HIV suffers, prostitutes and drug addicts were given special attention. I found the critical aids to be really useful for people that do that kind of work. Ultimately, we all have to learn not to judge. There were discussions on how to impliment pastorial care in a small town church, or in the larger community. There were books that dealt with African-Americans and Jewish Americans, both the clergy and the regular followers. It was very eye opening and I helped mom choose 2 out of 8 possible books.

After I sat there with a cold, and talked loudly for a couple of minutes cause I was tired of one woman in the store running around acting as if I did not read and could not possibly be interested in books, or maybe she thought I made a mistake by coming into a Christian store. I do have an heretical profile in the right light.

The small frame sales attendent launched a psychic attack by asking if I needed any help. Her body language was as if I was a giraffe in the middle of a crystal shop. The silent body language ceased when she realized that I was my mother's son. The other women were cool, they were so quiet and seemed not to notice or care. The first of the two women looked like the grandmother in all the Tweety Bird cartoons, but she wore pants. Her hair was in a bun the exact same way. The second was not so descript. Something about her made her an Everywoman. The third, the zoo keeper, was young, thin, frail and wore braces. She would smile later as she gave me the bag, but that was much, much later. I talked loudly on purpose just to be an uppity negro. I don't see why I should even deal with that stupid publisher.

I went to a job fair near TSU one day last winter and there they were there, Thomas Nelson, with their own booth. I gave them my resume and they talked to me like . . . well, first only the black woman talked to me. The white guy looked at me as if I was lying about my resume. I stood there in my suit and realized that I have no business trying to crash into this Christian publisher's mix, and they had no business acting the way they were to me. My visit to the store confirmed this in a way. Though I did see that they have some interesting titles in the store. I am not so sure about their list.

I was mostly interested in the history of the Methodist church. It has been on my mind because of the things that I am preparing for my creative writing project. What is this methodist thing? Anabaptist? And I mean, what is it really. I grew up Baptist, but I am shocked by how little history concerning the Missionary Baptist movement that I know. And this is religion. This is what should be given to me without asking I feel.

That said. The only other interesting thing that happened was during the minutes between me trying to figure out where to put the books we did not need and my mother buying her two books an old man stopped me. He must have heard my loud ass explanations concerning this and that, and my stern tone (I really did not want to be there . . . I sometimes feel like people perceive me as vampire . . . I am not a vampire . . . I just don't agree with the current theocracy that I am leaving under . . . but it is home). This guy that dressed like the farmer guys that fixed tractors in the fields far off from my house when I was a kid, or the men stacked 3 deep in a truck on their way to Ashland city, stopped me and said: "I want to know more about Jesus." I looked at him and there was a level of pain and longing in his eyes, the way he spoke sounded like a wounded child. He was clearly missing teeth. And the bottom set that he had were all yellow, not the caked yellow of too much white bread, but the sucked smooth yellow of a lemon cough drop. The tips were white though, a confection white, the same way a hard candied marshmellow Easter egg is sucked revealing glacier ice white underneath. I did not know what to say. He really wanted me to tell him. I felt first a little embarrassed that all my loaded talking had attracted a man that was genuinely looking for guidence from the Lord. Then, I also felt like I understand how people view me. My mother, my friends, my church all think that if I get a PhD that I will lead them somewhere. It means I will be able to speak to them. It means that I can take their spiritual and social wills and bind them up like a string of charms. I am to sit in a pulpit somewhere and wear that charm and that responsibility. My struggle for the last year has been trying to get them to leave me alone, but too many times I am cornered by the faithful. The women watched in the store. I simply said I don't work here and I don't know.

We bought the books and left.

There Is A Hot Ass Mess Oozing Out of My Television Screen

OK, I think today is a bullet point day cause I got laundry and reading to do.

1. Talked to cousin Stan. His cold feet are warming to Atlanta again. He is pulling to get some of his models from California to come out to Atlanta. I wish him the best. Hope to see him. And I want to go to LA with him one day.

2. Black Women film fest and conference is happening in Hotlanta. Might go. Got a contact there. I have another meeting with 2 writers who would like for me to become their agent in NYC. Don't have much to loose. I am just going to pass them off to the same agent I am concentrating on delivering some work too. That is what I could do for them, not much else. Will be in then out. I must come back to Nashville.

I just wonder what's up. Why does my life revolve around black women when I get back to the states? Like the arts, culture and black men don't mix? It is weird. As hard as I try, if I find other brothers then many times there is a whole bunch of "work", "pouring T" and "reading" going on concerning how one is dealing with being black and gay or a reminder that "Littlemilk is bi", or confessions from fellow brotha 2 brothas that "they do not know what that (my) experience is like". Thank God for cousins. I can talk to my cousins.

3. Civil War in Iraq and an Abortion Fight, what is going on? All very depressing. This is rapidly becoming a Holy War. The terrible part of it is that I really don't identify with any of this religious war madness. I kind of keep my religon to myself. If I live with someone and pull out my little ancestor pot or what have you, then you know what is up. If I don't live with you, then I keep my mouth shut. The other thing that I know is that no one in Germany goes to church any more. I guess some do, but the idea of living ones life on belief or faith is thought of as being a bit old fashion. Maybe some dare to think of it as backwards. Europeans love their secular society; the seperation of church and state almost equals the erasure of the religon from public life. The Danish artist and editors that participated in that solely cerebral exercise had no idea that people could become so passionate about God. I am convinced of that now. So, I find it a big culture clash turning into a clash of the Northern Hemispheric Titans (The Christian West, The Islam East and Middle Judea). And if an Iraqi Civil War does break out, there is no coalition force to help contain it. Plus this idea of not letting those that were elected through democracy rule is very anti-democratic. We are in that situation now concerning Palestine and Iraq. "Terrible , embarrasing, and sophmoric this foreign policy is" Master Yoda would say. Get ready for the Republic and the Emperor of Dune and all that madness.

Plus Duvalier, Caligula and Hitler were all welcomed by the people no? No one willingly selects a dictator. Many are elected by the people.

Side Note: Everytime I see Armstrong Williams I feel like punching him in the face. At one point he was comparing the idea of Iraqi Freedom and the American Revolution. Williams basically elaborated on the idea that just as Americans had to die for Freedom, so did Iraqis in terms of standing up for themselves and taking over power. Spin. Spin. Spin. Spin. Spin. Spin. Does anyone know of a reliable number concerning Iraqi deaths? I think it stands at something like 30,000. But I have heard that "estimate" for months now. The fact is no one knows.

3. I realize that I am as close to as many people in the fashion industry as I am with people in the academy. Lenny and Cousin Stan are prime examples.

4. List of music I am listening to on repeat, in this order.

a. "Back In The Day" by Erykah Badu
b. "Can't Explain" by Jill Scott
c. "Check On It" by Miss Knowles
d. "Dark End Of The Street" by Aretha Franklin
e. "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston
f. "Encontros E Despedidas" by Maria Rita
g. "Follow You" (Kenny Dope Mix) by Terry Hunter feat. Charlotte Small
h. "Gabriel" by Lamb
i. "Girl" by Destiny's Child (I love them and I don't care what your momma say!)
j. "Is It OK If I Call You Mine" by Paul Crane (Featured on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Fame)
k. "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction
l. "Love of My Life" by Erykah Badu featuring Common
m. "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior
n. "Never Leave Me Alone" from Fame (Gospel Track)
o. "One" by Mary J. Blidge and U@
p. "Rendez-Vous a Minut" by Le Tone
q. "Ride On Time" by Black Box
r. "Shadowless" by Toni Braxton
s. "Share Your Love With Me" by Aretha Franklin
t. "Somewhere, Somehow" by Deep Sensation
u. "Take This Ring" by Toni Braxton
v. "The Fact Is (I Need You)" by Jill Scott
w. That 80's track I can't remember but the refrain is "I'm sugar free/ In the night"
x. "Trippin" (That's The Way Love Works) by Toni Braxton

This all makes me feel very normal. Not down. Away from CNN (any word on Aristide and when he is returning?). And keeps my mind off the fact that I ain't got no real relationship going on. I am starting to notice this. For about 12 months I just didn't notice. Too busy. Now, I am busy, but I need to take care of me. Booo! Hooo! Hooo!

I think it is time to start looking around.
Before I used to just let love bump into me.
That worked for a while.
But now is the time to be proactive.
The world is moving in a crazy, violent and fundamentalist direction.
We all deserve to be loved in such a climate.

6. I am organizing my bookmarks. Started with the evil blogs I have. Will look at the good blogs tomorrow. There are more on my computer than the ones listed here on the blog.

That's all

Good night.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Opryland Land USA And The International Space Station That Has Taken Its Place

Today I went to OpryMills which is a gigantic mall with everything that anyone could every want housed in a million dollars worth of bright lights, corrugation, and sliding compressed wood chip panels with removable metal rods. Everything is available except for those people that wear a size 14 shoe (15 in Nike). And folks. That is me. Everything in my size at every shoe store looked like the carcass of a crocodile in various colors. Bump that! Internet purchases are in order from Adidas I must say (I almost named this blog All Day I Dream About Sex, but I didn't).

After a somewhat productive morning of tweaking my resume (I was not aware of the revisions that it need, not so much content, it was just a sloppy presentation), helping my mom get ready for the discussion group that she is heading tomorrow, and writing a letter to another academic here in the city, the MOMZ and I went to go see Tyler Perry's latest. I think it is great. The plot and script are a little sore in places. There are many ebonical linguistical cadences for the oh so gaudy Afro-showmenship of it; the plot relies on a heavy usage of soap opera tricks and cathartic timing in revealing family secrets; plus, a there is a good sprinkling of climactical effects sans denouement. There is more than one explosion revolving around the same family conflict. In other words, it mimics black life perfectly. We will have to wait and see what the mainstream critics says about the movie.

I already can read the review in my brain: "What narrative needs more than one climatical after effect? At moments it is too “face value” and too overly dressed. At other moments there are performances that really hit you under the belt. Then at another turn there is comedy. The film could use one more look on the cutting room floor to find some connective tissue for different scenes. At places the muscle hits bone."

Other than that I love watching beautiful people. And Blair Underwood is passionate and . . . well that would give to much away. So go see how much of a mother fucker he is for yourself. Then let's discuss the performance. And the young women playing the part of the sisters were absolutely spellbounding on film.

We saw the movie at OpryMills, the mall where the old Opryland Amusement Park used to stand. It is gone and now there is a mall with a rain forest restaurant and another that is a palatial and roomy aquarium. Me and me mum strolled around. She found some shoes, I found some soy protein and we window shopped for a while. My mom is retired and I have been trying to get her to try some knew things.

We saw the Banana Republic Outlet, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My mom told me to wait for things to be cut down another 40 percent at Hechts or Hecht's or something like that. I explained that Hecht's is not really my style. She then started to look at the prices a bit closer. It is like I have to hint these things to her. I guess AngryblackLesbo is right. When you are away from home for 15 years you end up teaching your family things about yourself that they just don't know.

That can be taken several different ways. For example, later I took MOMZ into an Old Navy for the first time. I told her she could maybe find some “young stuff” there. She was asking about “young stuff” earlier this winter before she left her gig so I wanted her to give Old Navy a try. The first thing she asked the attendant in her very polite voice was "Where are the earrings?"

"So, that is me mum." I thought quitely (I think in different accents in my head sometimes, I am sure it is not a sign of mental illness, don't worry). Never really noticed that about her before.

We then went on down the corridor of grandeur, this superstore/outlet field of dreams, and saw a window to the exotic, a gigantic outdoors men shop where I think you can go fishing in the store, a kiosk with Dead Sea Salts, a Nike Outlet, a Levi Outlet, A Hushpuppy Outlet, an Alabama restaurant (started by the band), and finally that ice cream place where they work out your dessert on marble. OK. It was enough.

The mall is the kind of thing that you kind of hate but love too. It is the same contradiction I found in a Trotskyite and cultural activist friend who loved Ikea and Walmart. Interesting. All of it no? I wanted to have more money so I could buy more things, but strangely I did not feel like I fell into the whole consumption thing. I bought my soy protein, wished I did not buy that diet coke at the concession stand during Medea cause I really wanted a magazine after the movie, and that was about it. itunes is the love of my life. Can't buy shoes in a store. I need some new work clothes but I will buy that piece by piece and that is about it. The mall is just not my thing.

The other thing that I noticed was that American society manifests in the mall. First there were all the wandering eyes from guys at the big shoe outlet where I fell in love with a pair of Adidas. And at another point in Banana Republic my mother and I were looking at some pants and this guy keep looking at me. I put my shit down and ran. Not that I was scared, but damn, it is like cruisey. I have been wondering where everyone is and it turns out that everyone in America is at the mall. It is like our social honey comb, it is where we work without instruction. It is where all those chance meetings happen. I am getting hit on in the mall! In Nashville! Who knew? And after this dry spell of not meeting anyone normal at the bars and clubs. Interesting.

While sitting outside of the Hushpuppies Outlet where my mother was shopping I sat in what was practically a living room set in the middle of a large promenade. The interior designers and architects must have teamed up on this little invention. It is a functional island of masculine idleness in the middle of the great watering hole where women rummage through the Hushpuppies. That outlet is a total joke for me because they only go up to a size 13 in men's shoes. I just sat and listened to the languages flowing around. I felt like a bearded and beached walrus sunning on the rocks. The other guy sharing the living room set looked completely annoyed. His wife came out first. She was empty handed. My mom came out with a pair of shoes.

I guess this is globalization.

All the strolling in the mall -- that southern strolling if you know what I mean -- groups of five blocking the entire passage way cause no one should get to far from granny. They drove from Lawerence county for this you know? And then there are the teenagers. And the preteens. The young guys running around because their parents let them exercise independence, but only in packs. Man, I remember that behavior somehow, somewhere in the mid-80’s I would say.

Everyone is fat from southern cooking -- a fatness meant for all nationalities; and, the men with their wives leaving the outdoor store with live bait, that was a sight -- stomachs and thick legs and loose jeans and cold blue eyes. Deep. Succulent butts, wide chests, teenage girls in denim skirts that they have been cut even higher without a hem, sagging pants and trucker hats. Dull eyes, dialects that are so thick I have to listen hard, overly helpful teenagers, stressed out managers, working class retail. The Levi Outlet revealed my entire high school closet complete with denim shirts and cargo pants. The whole mall was dotted with cowboy hats, little boys in flannel jackets tied around their waste by their fathers and chubby guys from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan or Ethiopia. Even my mom talks about the lost boys. Even the man from the Dead Sea kiosk asked if my mother and I were from Ethiopia. As we walked away my mother said, "Yeah, by way of Alabama." And before that in the car she was upset with the critics that are talking about Kanye West's picture on Rolling Stone as Jesus. She said that Jesus sure as sugar does not look like the one painted in stain glass all over Europe and America. My mother’s underground slave intervals of 1960's “where is my lead pipe and leather glove” rhetoric is becoming more pronounced now. Maybe it is just a subconscious reaction to all the shit she has had to quietly shovel at work for the past 27 years and the circumstances of her retirement (the family nickname for her old boss is "The White Witch" . . . I came up with that one ).

No one is how they seem I am so sure. But I am even more sure that my mother has many people fooled, she is really a little more than militant. Her experiences in Anniston, Alabama going from door to door trying to convince people to pay the poll tax with my grandfather when she was seven has probably influenced me more than I care to think about. Charm and militancy. I think that is me. I am sure that it is her.

But before today, I would never have thought about the mall so much. I go into them so rarely. I really don't like shopping. I just don't. I will buy some clothes and keep moving. But as time has moved on, I am thinking a bit more about my own place again. It used to be that if it was not in Target of Walmart I really did not want to be bothered. Maybe OpryMills is worth a second chance. I was just so bummed out before because the amusement park closed. I would rather take my goddaughters and sister to a roller coaster than to a Bed, Bath and Beyond. I guess it is time to let go.

I wonder if anyone from another city would know what was in Nashville before this.

I doubt anyone would believe me.

I seriously doubt if my childhood is relevant to this place anymore.

I wonder if it is relevant to anything.

The Ferris Wheel and Water Ride are gone.

It is just a mall.

People seem to be just as excited about that.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Long View From Hampton or The Relevance of Up From Slavery in My Pursuit of 2 Projects

I like this show Project Runway, and I hate the fact that I missed the first 4 episodes complete with Andre crying and running around like he was a cross between a lost Romanov, Mary Tyler Moore and an Elf from Lord of the Rings. Adorable.

Then again, I think when I did start watching, it was THE TIME to watch it. It was getting juicy. I did not really understand that guy from last season who was back this season and looked like a friend of mine from Argentina. And I think Guadaloupe Vidal is on drugs, though she looks like Ms. Portugal. But the real Ms. Portugal is far more reserved which in this case is a good thing. She is my type, I love dark haired dark women. Zunima is very beautiful too, she looks almost exactly like my sister. I meant to tell her, but we normally just talk about her car that is starting to break down. We both have our first cars in a way and we are in our 30's. Never really needed one, though I did need one in Germany. That though is another story.

Lenny called me the other day and we talked about the show and the fashion business. We talked about his new model shoots and fashion week in Paris and in New York. And he wants me to move up and get a place in Yonkers and start working in NYC again. Maybe. At least people treat me like a professional something there and it is the land of creative people. Nashville has creative people too, don't get me wrong, but country music kind of taints everything here in a pink and white tight plaid paper napkin kind of faggotry. There is a Soul Food restaurant with that motif in the village. It is just below 4th and 7th Ave. Man, what was its name?

Anyway Nashville is fun, all the girls look like Kara Janx in East Nashville now, and they are earthy like her too. NYC will always be the children, and the Marys and the little Foucault Comp. Lit. PhDs that work in the special collections section of every library in the city. It is down and out rainbow hearted Brownstone girls with their Wittgensteins tucked under their dresses from an upstate university temping at your job. That is the difference to me. It is like the difference between yellow cake and a muffin from the Washington Square diner on 4th and 7th..

But, fashion is a great reality, but it is just not mine, so I always hang up with Lenny feeling guilty. Would love to take a crash course on fashion terminology and write something for somebody like Umberto Eco or Roland Barthes, but later. Not now. The truth is . . . no more New York rent. People are crying cause it still is going up. Why bother. Another friend wonders if we should all just live in little boxes like businessmen in Japan.



Today went to Vanderbilt after job application time (5:30 am on the computer) and my diabetic counciling time (11:00 am, we have been concentrating on my chronic disease and how it makes me different from my friends medically and financially . . . this shit is expensive. It causes more mental strain than people are aware of. I think it is part of my identity, but not my entire identity. What a fuckin' deck of cards man.). Read a bit. Looked at some books. Worked on project number 2. Not bad. The students at Vandy are very interesting. I remember myself when I was that age, and it is difficult to remember or imagine what my view of the world was then . . . well, no its not. I was definitely pimping Poor Righteous Teachers and Bob Marley until I realized that I liked boys and then it all changed. Can't really talk to your Rasta and 5 Percenter cipher if that is going on in your brain. Funny, my girlfriend at the time thought I should have that experience, and she was not going to drop me because of it. Man, I must have been really scared. I could not even form a discussion about it. I was 19. But now, I guess it is a new world.

The Vanderbilt phase is about to be interesting. I have a visiting scholar status. The library reminds me of Hampton very much. Maybe there is something about Southern universities that I have missed in my mind's eye. It is a perfect place to get somethings done cause I can go to the doctor then the university and keep that pace up. There proximity is advantageous. It makes Nashville advanteous for now. I love my doctors, advisors, nurse practioners and nutritionists. That has not happened in a while. That is a lot of people to have to like at the same time.

The Long View of History

The moment I knew that I should switch from being interested in "literature" and its construction to "history" and its construction was back in the late 90's. I had a friend that was very supportive and ran an institute on the Upper Westside. He told me then, while I was in my mid-twenties, that for an American I had a rather long view of history. I did not really understand his statement until I was teaching at the University of Cologne for a semester. The institution is 600 years old.

I have started to do the background reading for one of my two large projects. I am reading a history of Nashville written by Charles Elder (aptly named). It was published in 1890 and I have a beautiful facsimile of the book from the Bordeaux Library that is about 36 years old. The other is a history by Anita Shafer Goodstein entitled Nashville 1780-1860: From Frontier to City. Her volume was written in 1976 and is still fresh and relevant seeing that she was writing at a time when the concept of urban history or urban studies was just getting its footing. Goodstein is very aware of these "new" ideas and purposely uses this "newness" in a historical rendering of Nashville. I am grateful for her organization of material in introducing historical debates concerning Jacksonian Democracy, landownership and class formation in a very accessible way for those that are not familiar with Tennessee history. Or, as familiar as they should be with Tennessee history. I have noticed some very interesting things in both texts.

I guess it is the language. In the 1890 history the author writes a very personal account of the things that have made Nashville great which amount to a great list of names and chapters named "Municipal History", "Military History", "Manufacturing Industries" and "Transportation". I have not even gotten to the story of these founding fathers and lists of players in the passage of Nashville from a frontier outpost; to a functioning town; to a county seat; to a state capital; to a multi-layered district of different classes and occupations; to the confederacy; and, so on. For now, the cream is in the first two chapters. In his description of the landscape and the natural resources there is a hint of where a fiction could survive. I am learning how to talk like a 19th century judge -- post that seem to be held according to breeding and not education. His belief that there is enough coal in the hills to supply two or more generations. His 19th century optimism about the future. His 19th century syntax and word choice lacks inclusiveness, it is a statue for the future children of the state, his pages are cast iron gilded with gold. The world for him is the state of Tennessee, and all those that are honorable and hold the same office as him are great guardians of a planned utopian world. The Native Americans are mentioned in passing according to slaughters and defeated North Carolinian forts in what was then the wild west and is now my home state. Black folk are even less mentioned. Not that it is his fault, he was writing when that was the order of things, and in many ways it still is the order of things. There is a obscurity for the story of black folk in the South that scurries around a false sense of what the antebellum South was, and the desire to keep this narrative moving in motion pictures, unfortunately clouding our idea of a what a viable slave compound could have and would have looked like with the facts that are available to us. The fact is that Nashville rose from explorers and landgrabbers in 1780 and fell to the carpetbaggers by 1865. That is less than 100 years. And not all of that time was the time of Scarlet O'Hara and Terra. There was a lot of bloodletting, communities of Indians and forest to be tamed. The antebellum South was far from an eternal empire of lords, maidens and a fury of Negroes tacking fabric to busts and helping to mount gentlemen onto their stallions. And, the detail of that life is worth a second look I believe.

Am I being cliche? I was looking over another book on the Black Jacobins today, and I was wondering how many books concerning the "real" south have I had to read in my post-colonial studies course work. Am I post-colonial? Where does the Tennessee frontier fit in?

Naturally this is where Goodstein comes in and the Elder leaves off in 1890. Her language is more of a walk through archives to discuss exactly how corrupt and insider-trading-like the founders of Nashville were. James Robertson, the Blount brother, Andrew Jackson, John Overton and other names I have seen on high schools, roads and creeks are discussed here. In short, there is much blood and much land speculation. There is a silent introduction of slaves into the land. Very few records exist discussing the 100,000 people and their migration through the Cumberland Gap to the lands of Tennessee and Kentucky. According to Goodstein the Donelsons were the only family rich enough to bring a large number of slaves at first. That sentence was fascinating. But, the sentence that really got me twirling around in circles was: "Hagar, a black child fell from her perch behind Mrs. Robertson on a horse as the pioneers fled from Freeland's Station to the bluff." This sentence is only one of a few statements that name slaves during the pioneer period. And in my mind you might as well as sprinkled brown sugar on a gaping wound. It conjures up a lot of questions about what might have happened to Hagar. And what was the attachment of Mrs. Robertson to this little girl? What was that second like, and where did the following hours lead them? And most importantly, how did Hagar, a 4-year-old girl of African descent get herself all the way through time and space to the woods of Tennessee? There are other phantom coloreds and questions to ponder too.

Jack Civil was a freeman of color captured in 1780 at Clover Bottom by Indians. His son was also taken prisoner. There is more to the story in terms of how and where he pops up in historical documents; and, the situation of his social status among the pioneers does prove controversial in his rendering by other Southerners. But, something about that image, of Civil being black and kidnapped by Indian opens a fissure in my head. We talk about blacks "being mixed with Indian", but what about those that died in Indian raids. What about those that were loyal to their masters? What about those whose status as slaves were higher than the little white landless workers around them?

Then there is Sherwood Brian who became the richest free Negro in the state by 1850. His holdings included real-estate in Davidson county totaling $15,000 and 22 slaves. There were free laborers and slaves that rented out labor with great ease from their compliant masters. All of these amazing currents seemed to be bubbling up to the mid-1800's. Then something happened. Freedom and ideas concerning blacks soured. I will report on that later, I have not gotten to that part yet.

In the New World context, there is something to be said about slavery and its comfort levels in different places. Some blacks were willing to tolerate discomfort in order to pay for freedom, or to create a community of drifting men, women and children that could be re-assigned in an afternoon. I think I am coming to the conclusion that some black folk were all right with where they were (the book of the black confederates that I am reading is changing my view of the antebellum world). That, in the great order of things, was how whites and blacks were functioning. Did it mean that slaves did not have an understanding of the political problems that were around them? I don't think so. Even whites understood what the situation was, but to me there was something leaving people powerless to breakdown the construction of servitude in light of the constitution and the enlightenment. It is something that smells like mob violence. It is something that smells like pulpits. But in the end, for all the traveling and reading and acclimation to different environments that I have gone through, I have never looked at Tennessee as deeply as I am now. This project is needed. It is coming at the right time for me.

What happens next in this history?

I am not sure.

I have to keep reading.

And I will tell you more.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The View

Shaved. Fever broke after a few days. Prepared stuff for work. Watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith. A bit boring, though Angelina Jolie is a beauty to watch. Brad. Not so much. Don't know why. He is like a metrosexual Robert Redford I think. All that blond white boyness they love in sitcom offices (and real life ones sometimes too). Blair Underwood would be the equivalent of black boy goodness they love in offices. I am trying not to be angry slave again today. Don 't want people to think I am picking on white boys. But it is amazing how racialized my speech has become after living one year in Nashville, where my mother finds all whites to be suspect. After what she saw as a child I can see why.

By the way, today someone vandalized a black church in Goodlettsville. And A&E showed the white power skinheads screaming that they wanted Alabama to be an all white state. I had flashbacks to my Nazi students. Funny, all the Germans were all freaked out. For me, I have grown up with this shit all my life. I also had a flashback to NYU when I sat through a history class on oral history and I heard these guys talking about black extended families in the past and how they survived. Both of them were Northerners. I remember that feeling I had. All this talk about stuff like "church burnings" in the past tense. I was fresh from the South then, and I remember being shocked because that was still my experience. Now, I am shocked a decade later that stuff is still going on.

Also saw Final Destination 3. Death scenes were out of control. It was not as good as one and two. Though I love 2nd the best. The lead actor in FD3 should have been killed off first. She was horrible. Fuck it!, she was the horror! The one that played her younger sister was hot. Looked like Pepper's ex-girlfriend from Karlsruhe. Exactly.


Mom's first week of retirement has gone by OK. I wonder what this phase of life will be like for the both of us. When I leave she will be alone.

The Sick and Shut In

No post for a couple of days. Sorry. I got some real hard news concerning my trip to Germany and me having to postpone. After that I got really sick with a cold that has held for 4 days.

Fever breaks then comes back then breaks again. Still went everywhere I needed to go this week and started filling out my teaching applications.

More words when I am feeling better. I think one of the symptoms of this bug is writer's block.

Woke up this morning and there was some reality show on MTV with a young guy, a pregnant young mother and his mother-in-law or baby's moma's moma. A bit surreal. There lives are bad acting. Even the birth of their child was stiff, so stiff I found it embarassing. This only left me with one question. In my house, no one talks about relationships or sex, but when I talk to friends from other parts of the country they find the South to be a strange place. Foreign. Not open. Even some black friends found being followed in hotel lobbies and stores to be odd and a new experience. I guess things are that different here, though not as bad as before. Those cats on TV looked like they were from California. Much more open. Even if stiff. Wish I could talk about having sex with my partner in front of my mother.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life Off Clarksville High at the Entrance of Bourdeaux

I talked to Mom briefly. I put on one of my blue jackets. I started the car, and backed out of the driveway. I did not like the commercials on the radio channels. I then put in Sean Paul. I drove out. I made a left, then a right and kept straight. If you keep straight pass the intersection, then you exit Royal Hills and enter Creekwood. So I entered Creekwood. Then I made a left, followed by a right, kept straight for a very short while, before making a left, kept straight, then made a right at the light. Straight shot to Walgreens and the heart of Bordeaux, the earth on my side of the bridge.

Got there. For some odd reason I changed to 92.1 FM. I listened to Luther Vandross sing "A House is Not a Home." Sat in the car for a little while. Then I walked to the entrance of Walgreens. The vibrations from a maroon souped up Classic Buick (year unknown to me), polished to the nines, and housing negroes I could not see due to the glare of the florescent light inside and outside the drugstore distorted my sense of balance. It was not a clear thump, but a bling-bling trumpet of a bass line that spewed bass in every direction imaginable. I starred, then smiled my tough guy smile and my eyebrows bunched together like I was eating something that tasted mighty good. I did not want to reveal that I really wanted to go home, get a wrench and a screw driver to tighten up some wires and try to save their damaged woofer.

I then walked into Walgreens. There was someone talking to my left. I wanted to catch the phrases and pronunciations coming out of his mouth, but I could not get my head around it. Sometimes I think people take me for a foreigner. My voice must sound very different to everyone cause everyone's voice sound very different to me.

I walked 7 paces forward and turned to my left. There was this very elegant woman in all black. I think she must have come from church. Her hair was short, winged cut and combed straight back, no flips, just clear off her profile. She was so brown and slim I wondered if I had read about her somewhere, like the teacher in I Know Why the Cage Book Sings, or the African woman shopping for Parisian eggs in the first quarter of Tar Baby. That is what she looked like. The model of virtue and admiration from a congregation or jealousy from chubby mountain women that man the phones at the doctor's office. She was so concentrated on the thing she was looking for, that when she dropped something, she bent down and picked it up, and then continued as if she was having a conversation with a person. It was as if she had to tell hersef that she had her own total attention. I quickly moved to the next aisle, I felt myself starring, preparing to stalk, preparing to go down the aisle to talk to her. I noticed her pleated skirt, and her high heels, and the lace bellow the line of her jacket. I noticed her lips were perfect, with no lipstick, could not tell about other make-up, I was too far, and the glare was too great.

Three paces further, I reached the aisle with the magazines. I picked up Flex. Thumbed through it, and then put it down. I have loss so much money on such purchases.

For paces to the final aisle. Turned right. I took 11 paces to the back pharmacy counter. Four workers tonight. No line. The normal guy told me to wait a second. The second pharmacist is the type of woman that is just starting to age, the tall woman with gray in the front of her hair line that looks so familiar, like I know her people or went to school with her sister. She moved with heavy feet to the other computer monitor. She parted her lips and said, wait one second. She continued to stroll with plastic bottles containing a bitches brew of high blood pressure medicine and shit for your eyes so you can see -- white bottles of that white magic, clinical juju, with coloureds in white coats working like harvest ants trying to make that mortgage. Then a tall beautiful young man with a weird fade asked what I needed.

"I need refills" I replied.

"OK " he replied. "What is your date of birth."

"February 12th" I said. I am so used to this I know they don't need the year.


"Littlemilk." I responded.

"What do you need?"

And I went down the list: three different pills; insulin; plus, test strips. I asked if it could be ready by noon the next day. He said yes. And I left. He smiled. I smiled and I walked 11 paces back to the end of the aisle passing all the Arizona Ice Teas and Red Bulls on that end. I made a right turn and walked about 12 or 13 more steps to the door.

On the way, I saw them taking down the Valentine's candy and displays. It is over, this holiday. I did not even notice. I might buy some half price chocolate later.

I walked out. And passed maroon Jaguar. It was polished and its entire looked so clean I thought an airplane cleaning crew might have shampooed the entire interior. There was a beautiful man inside. He was so beautiful that his face shown through the florescent lights and spotlights outside. He was talking on the phone. He looked like one of them dudes from Soulfood (the movie). It dawned on me at that moment that that beautiful woman was inside checking out and ready to get back into the beautiful car with the be beautiful man.

It was about 17 paces from the curb of the street and preacher man's profile to my silver car. It looks like a brand new ghost.

I got into my car, started it, put in my CD, and drove across the bridge.

I had to return my DVDs in West End.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

St. Valentine's Day

No plans. Ms. A sent an e-mail wishing me a good trip. I think we might be doing this just friend thing, though I sense that there are some girlfriends chatting around her. They always look at me funny, but now they are getting a bit softer. That happened the day we all shot that commercial at the restaurant. I think they saw me in a different light at work.

Hard to follow their comments since they speak Portuguese so fast, but I understand the bits that I can, and Ms. A is funny. She just watches my face and reactions. But man she has got a lot of girlfriends. A samba school practically.

On the otherside . . .

the Persian Prince and I might catch a movie. Last time we saw Syriana. He said it was realistic, though I found it hard to follow. But since he understood a couple of the languages he translated many a detail for me. Not sure what we will see today when he gets off work. If he is not tired. And if I am not tired. This is Platonic.

Paper organizing time for me. That is my goal for St. Valentine's Day.

You know the words to that old Negro Spiritual: "No Romance without Finance".


I wish everybody

Peace, Love, a bottle of Eros and a pound of Chocolate without tooth decay.

Have a good one.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Meu Anniversário

Today is my birthday. And last night was the party. It started at 12 midnight because me and the Persian Prince (we share the same birthday) are both superstitious and didn't want to celebrate before the actual day. Although I was born at 11:53 pm on the 12th, I am not that specific. There were people from Persia, Brazil, Chile and America at the party. We partied at Bar 23, then we went to an after hours club. Both not the Nashville I remember, but both still very Nashville. Bar 23 had beautiful people but a Top 40 DJ. Kiss, the after hours club, had some hot ass house, but no people. And there is no alcohol being served in after hours places, so it is hard to pull in a crowd, though I do have an idea of what could work as a business model under that situation. I won't say, but I have to check the laws. The Bible Belt has been working overtime lately on killing all carnal fun.

Sometimes I feel like Kevin Bacon in Footloose.

I don't have a post on the 11th because I spent a good part of the day talking to a friend in Brazil on-line. An anthropologist. A real cutie and very sweet but already taken. We seem to have some things in common though, not in a romantic way, but in terms of just life experiences. Our chat was really encouraging concerning the work I do and my opinions about the New World. After that I watched Kill Bill at my good friends house and played around with her 3 daughters, my 3 godchildren. It is cool. I like them very much. They are really accepting. They tease me about my growing stomach without end. And how tall I am. And they laugh at the way I dance. And they get some of my jokes, but not all. It is just a nice house.

Then I went to the party.

That was the 11th.

The 12 is dinner with mom and Kill Bill 2 with my friend, while the kids play in the front room as usual and more thinking about Germany.



The past couple of days have been very insane. I have been reading, and haven't had much time for blogging, but I have entries set up for the days that I have been absent. They have yet to be written out completely. I also have pictures from the party. I am debating if I will post. I am pretty sure, but I want to ask my friends first. So previous days are coming and will be announced.

ciao, ciao

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bom Criuolo

I found the book Bom-Crioulo at the bookstore. The book was written by Adolfo Ferreira Caminha (1867-1897). It is a love story between a black man and a young white cabin boy in Brazil. It was published in 1895. It ends tragically I am sure, though I have not read it. So expect a book report on it soon.

The only problem I have is the way the book's title is translated by some reviewers and websites. Some have said that Bom Crioulo means Good Darkie or Good Nigger. American racial connotations against a Brazilian book title doth maketh my skin crawl I must say. I think Crioulo must be a term of endearment. Maybe? Something like Negruinho (Upa negruinho na estrada!). In Portuguese I can survive colored niceties and knick-knacks. In other languages it can be real difficult. I kicked it with this Bulgarian business man one night on a blind date. He made a couple of terms of endearment that kind of had me spinning my wheels. And with his German being very basic, and absolutely no English skills at all, I was not sure how to communicate that his English word for me was more than a slight insult. The affair was brief to say the least. He wrecked my nerves.

The translation I found by E.A. Lacey has Bom-Crioulo: The Black Man and the Cabin Boy.

Cool beans.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Consensus and Terrence Howard

Some of my friends that are not writers have told me that my blogs are too long. I am sorry, I don't realize it, my fingers get to going and it does not take that much time. Plus after a month of doing it I am finding it a bit easier to figure out how to go about my daily entries. Plus things out here in the wilderness (of thought) are a bit isolated, so what I don't say to anyone I say on my blog.

Today I want to talk about director Craig Brewer's "Hustle & Flow".

The movie stars Terrence Howard as DJay, the worn and weary pimp-o-matic with 3 female investments and inner angst. From the very first line he utters in the dismal isolation of a sun beat Caprice Classic to the very last shot of the film I was addicted. I watched it with my friend from high school, she has lived the life and I think for all the years I was in New York and other places I did not understand those realities. Yes, I understood them in the same sense I understood walking through urban areas or working with homeless people, but not life for my friend. For some time now I have had an insider view of a privileged guy just wanting to help. I am beginning to think of it as the insidious Florence Nightingale in pimp language syndrome that a lot of middle class black folk got. Do we really know what is going on? I did not assign such pimpin realities to my friend cause we were always laughing, but I found we never talked about those other realities until a mutual friend of ours was murdered by her husband 2 days after Christmas a coupld of years ago. After that, the sad song of a lonely hearted pimped out girl emerged from both of my friends, the one living and the one dead.

And at times, I think she has underestimated the things that have been going on with mine. My corporate isolation. The joy of archival isolation. The isolation of living in a different language. But those are all cerebral. They are not connected to a scarcity of resources in an mini-micro economic ghetto. Larger than that is the task of providing for children. Children make all the difference in the adult world. It creates a divide between the single and the parents. I have an inner maturity from books, a couple of relationships, independence (or perceived independence); versus, the outward maturity of thinking outside of yourself. And in the South it is an issue of social respectability and the accolades of having outer "responsibilities", seen children, your old ladies children from an old marriage, hidden children, children in jail, unknown children, a woman with child, etc. . . .

So, we watched the film together. And, during this homecoming, I must admit that it articulated the chasm that has developed between me and the people that live here. There were clearly two sides to the equation, the isolation of a legitimate world formed by the preoccupation of making a descent honest living, and on the other side, the underworld and its communal fortitude. Anyone that has "partied" and "rolled" with Philly Blunts, Crown, Miller High Life and a big pot of something spice must know what that feeling is and how easy it is to drift from the legitimate side to the underworld without skipping a beat because you have known your homeboy since 7th grade and you "know him", in a much different sense. You knew him before ghetto trappings, and he knew you before degreed sheep’s skin.

My quizzical apprehension to crunk music has started to evaporate due to the film. Part of it is because I see what is so familiar about it, its nothing but gansta walkin' with big speakers and sagging pants. The energy is a bit less melodic, its all flash and bling.

Howard's character is endearing. A guy that is in his mid-to-late 30's trying to become a full man. He wants to be a full fledged adult delivered from his lowness through his dream of becoming a rapper. In the South, people will say you are low because of the carnal things that you do. Like the chick that lived across the street. She danced for her boyfriend outside one night. She did it in front of his car light while he blasted the music and put lights on bright. Her preacher father had to have heard. My Church of Christ neighbors surely did see it cause they are the ones that told me. I was not living here. I heard about it after a visit from New York. The next day the Church of Christ matriarch supposedly told the preacher's big hipped daughter (Denomination Not Known -- DNK) that she was "low". That word has stuck with me since because it implies that she is down on the ground with the beast and water nymphs. She is separated from the angels. She has been come earthbound. And, in the streets, I see these earthbound teenagers. And, in the language of the crunk, the Church of Christ family and the DNK pole dancing daughter I hear phrases full of the "low" and "lowly"; those that want something to "swing low"; and, others that simply or rhythmically want to "rock away" like a chariot carrying baby jesus to the nativity. All crunk motion now. DNK daughter's street dance as seen by my Church of Christ neighbors was almost 10 years ago. I can't remember if that preacher died. I know that the woman that told me the story, my neighbor's eldest daughter, died during childbirth. I don't know who lives there across the street. I believe it is that same DNK daughter. The second daughter of my Church of Christ next door neighbors has started her family. None of us talk much. We simply don't talk much at all.

My film screening friend tells me that people in the projects don't care about my art. They are not thinking about "that". It seems as if much is lost in the translation of my languishing literary world to their literal and earthbound world. It is a small world because it is occupied by young people involved in behavior that keeps them young and in motherhood, and middle-aged with the responsibilities of an septuagenarian. Their bodies never catch-up to the task at hand.

"Hustle & Flow" is about a boy in a sense. It is an open world full of roaming visionaries independent of parental guidance. It is family made from different stuff. It is child bearing. It is the nastiness of a man fucking a 20 dollar whore. It is about a whore.

After figuring out sometime ago that I am a sucker for good marketing, good use of formula and seeing the human even in the highly photoshopped, I have started to read reviews for movies on-line. I read both "A Pimp With A Heart Follows His Dreams" by New York Times' A.O. Scott and the Village Voice's "Memphis Bleak: Trick daddy: Pimp-hop flick's troubled sensibility sabotages an exquisite lead performance." by Laura Sinagra. Both of them basically say the same thing concerning Howard's performance and the misogynistic overtones of the film. I agree with the both critics that Howard shines with minimal textual direction. Howard's technique and analysis of this character's situation does turn the movie into something special. A.O. Scott states, "The complexity -- one might less charitably say the incoherence -- of DJay's character requires a lot from an actor, and Mr. Brewer's good fortune in casting Mr. Howard can hardly be overstated. The actor's heavy eyes and downturned mouth convey weariness and worry, but he tries not to presume too heavily on the audience's sympathy."

The films depiction of a woman’s value and worth bothers both reviewers. For me the problem becomes, do these Florence Nightingale reviewers understand that this is what really happens in life? There are real live people that assign themselves to positions in which they are looking for a man to lead them or are looking for women to adore and follow them. Call it what you want. But in the South no woman is looking to get beat and have her grill totally jacked off her jawbone, but there are a lot of women that are looking for a King Solomon. There are a lot of women that are looking for a house to keep and a man to kiss before he fights the dragon. So, the critic falls flat on me, because I sat near Fisk University watching the movie on DVD with my friend who lived that life for 10 years. 10 years she talked about as if she possessed a deformed fetus in formaldehyde.

The critics talk about this movie as if it is a hip-hop fantasy, a real Earth Wind and Fire Alice in Wonderland Vacation Holiday for Ho’s.

The fact is pimping is woman hating. So when A.O. Scott says that the film does not endorse the behavior depicted in the film (DJay kicks one of his bitches out, and sets the tricks baby next to her still in his troller), "it is integral to the fantasy Mr. Brewer is selling, which is that pimping is not as hard as it looks." "Hustle & Flow" is not a girl flick. Pimping is hip-hop's boy power.

Sinagra attacks the female characters as a flock of flat characters that have arrived flatlined. They are different archetypes of female subjugation -- a mirage of brides of Pimpin'stein. The shrew, the docile blues (morphed into a modern lyrical sample lick) woman, the good christian woman, and the tramp are all haunting her perception of the films truly great performance by Howard. I will give her credit, but I will also give credit to the director, because in the world of philly blunts and reformed women that I know, they are still looking for a man, they are still looking towards me, and they are starting to apologize for call me a fag because I did not play sports and I liked to read so much. Sinagra reminds me so much of the writer and critic that always has a problem with how someone depicts someone else. "Great!, what else is new.", is always my response, because I am not convinced that she interacts with that world or knows what that world is. Must art always show another way out? Sometimes I think that art can show how things are.

In truth, her calling the collection of four women in the in the movie a feminine heresy does not bother me. But, one quote does. Sinagra declares very bluntly that ". . . in another pimp stroke, Brewer ensures that the two characters with the most innate ambition in his story are white: Manning's washout (Yevette, the caucasian pussy-over-popped youngster tired of the life -- I describe this in the jest of the pimp -- not my true personae) with a sudden head for business and DJ Qualls's stoner church pianist who lays down DJay's crunk beats." Sinagra goes on to say that the position of these white folk in the narrative was a hollywood "concession".

OK, I honestly don't know where to begin, so let's start with class and the South. First, these white folk did not wield any power. Yevette is a homeless young girl that tricks out of the back seat of cars, and DJ Qualls fills up vending machines for living. Hey! Go figure! Where does the representation of "innate" power get injected into the narrative? And I guess the most glaring misconception for this call against hollywood concessions is that Yevette's business sense comes from flirting with radio program managers and specialist in order to get the disk played. We do not see her squatting under a desk sucking off executives, but we do see her legs crossed and her running down a monologue and getting people to listen. Is that white power at work Sinagra? I wonder. I appreciate her critic until the end, then her language and observations smack of cynicism, which I simply don't like. It closes down discussions because cynics are just disgruntled clairvoyants that know what's going to happen anyway, and in this case what all the signs mean. The black folk are simply “hustling” and the “whites” have a work ethic. Fuck that, they all pimps, tricks and trickin' chicks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A New Hope

I guess I have chosen the first Star Wars movie title because the beginning is actually the middle. And that is where I am at, starting all over from the middle. My dissertation is back on track, with the change in theme I feel a bit more confident and also feel like I am not trying to bite into an entire piping hot apple pie while it is walking away from me. I got it down to a slice, now I got to consume it/write it bite by bite.

I also started on that "other project". Wrote some pages for it, not sure how I feel about it, but it is getting out of my system.

Then I updated my monster account, so I can start to look for a gig with insurance. I gotta pay for my insulin pump.

And I figured out some of my settings on my blog that should make it easier for comments to be posted.

Talked to a friend in Norway about the riots (I have been making mad comments to people all over the websphere about stereotypes in Europe). Wrote an e-mail to a friend from Brazil.

Watched the Coretta Scott King funeral service in bits and pieces. If I was there I would have called her "a woman with a cool head and a fiery heart". And I would have also said that she proved that to be a mother and a wife does not mean you can't be a warrior.

Later a feminist popped up and said that Jackie O. and Coretta Scott King proved that you can endure and be calm and strong and still be effective. The old feminist movement overlooked them she continued. Then she went on to blah, blah, blah. Anytime I hear that kind of speech I remember when my boss accused me of being "just one of the other men" when it came to power. That was her reasoning for not defending me against some really foul shit. And shortly after that I was sent up the river without a paddle. I could have sued. I think feminism is fair, but in terms of things that have happened to me in my old company, I think I still carry some baggage and trust "issues" (such a silly word now, but a friend of mine from Holland loves its American usage) about power women in the work place and how they perceive me. Them Southern executives who worked with the NYC office ran a freakin' train on all the women and blacks who worked for them. I will never forget this same female director taking me to lunch at my favorite French bistro (it is gone now) and crying telling me I had nothing to do with the power play that was pitted against her. "But what about me" I thought. I just left that job. I had to leave that job, I was not being defended in anyway. I left only to hear other male friends talking about having to leave other jobs too. I guess it is universal . . . in America. German corporate politics are back in the 50's, so you can guess what my black ass had to go through walking through that door. Actually, I did not go through shit cause I am an arrogant pompous ass! Them white folk went through some shit, and I did not tire of giving it too them. Maybe somebody will write a book about it.

Hey, maybe I should write a book about it!

Flash of literary success in front of my eyes.

Now back to normalcy.

I promised not to be an angry slave this week.

And finally I have been getting stuff together for my German trip. I leave on the 14th of February. I talked to Pepper. He asked how long I have to live. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not. Everyone just says, "I did not know it was that bad." Well, actually it is better with a tube running out of my stomach, what is bad is people being so aggressive about drinking and drugs when I tell them I can't do them. I can have a beer, but not anything else. In Germany everybody has to be doing what everybody else is doing . . . at least in the Southern German.

So. I am kinda ready to make my amends. Got two checks coming from my old job here in Nashville. Will meet my Doktorvater (mentor) in Cologne, spend a weekend with some friends, pack my things and start again from the middle.

Teaching again when I get back. Non-insured. Bummer. I do like how companies treat you over academic institutions honestly. But I won't bitch. I think I have found people and a university I can work with the way I want. The important thing is for me to keep on writing.

Now that has got to be in the top 3 things. Ignoring dumb asses and fucking with boys that make me jump through hoops is in the top 5. Girls? They always pop up when I need them. When I want them, or when I want her most I should say. They are secret treats I don't like to share. I have said it once and I will say it again.

I am a repressed heterosexual.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Day After

I have been talking about race a lot lately, more so than I would in Germany. But when I lived in Germany I was always sick in my stomach cause I did not have anyone to talk to about my situation in that country. Everytime I tried to talk to a German about how I felt they would say "I don't know how that feels." Thanks guys for the honesty as usual. I still love all your little German asses.

So, I need new subject matter. How about the fact I am absolutely addicted to Project Runway and that Flava Flav show. What do they put in these shows, MSG? I like Project Runway because anything with creative people catches my interest. And I think one of the guys on there is cute, sensitive, bitchy, bitter, passionate and totally queer. I would do him in a second. I forgot his name though. Arabian Prince said my non-southern accent and my hetero-butchness are my main attractions. It made me think of this guy from France who screamed "Totally Butch!" in disgust when I snorted out a woogey and spat it 10 fit across the Koenigstr. I miss that guy. He was so nice. I don't think I could get very far with the Project Runway guys though. I just don't.

This blog is really starting to wear me down. The whole thing was down yesterday. I guess that is fine, but I could not post anything for two days, nor read for two days so I have been having fits of withdrawl. Glad we are back on line.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Southern Bodegas on the Edge of Hard Knocks and Section 8


I live in Northwest Nashville. Our house is in the Black subdivision of middle-class homes that no one knows about. Or, let's just say knew or cared about when I was growing up. The uppity negroes. As time has progressed from our genesis back in the 60's when somebody decided to develop this land, the generation that played in its streets in the 70's and 80’s moved to Atlanta where you could be black, or gay, or a lesbo, or dab on the side, or see strippers, or hang with your lawyer friends, or play in little five points, etc. . . . So the parents, rich enough to move somewhere else either sold their houses, rented them as section 8 or simply stayed their ground while the world around them was invaded by the black folk across the river beccause the mayor wanted that land where the projects were in order to build a stadium since run down concrete grassless acres do not look good on NBC during football season from an arial view.

I live on the hill. We are safe up here, though I question our property value, not in an act of race hating but as part of the propertied class.

So funny to hear my self use such language.

The reality of black life is that no matter how much money you have, if you live in a black neighborhood, you may be in a position where you are starving for goods and services. When I opened my bank account, the guy said "I don't understand why they don't bring more stores and services out to this area?" I giggled and just signed on the dotted line. He is obviously from another part of town and has been stationed out here in the outskirts by the company.

When I was twelve they opened a Kwik Sak gasoline connivence store on Clarksville Highway. They offered gas, magazines (I would look at the dirty magazines, my sister would just laugh two steps behind me when the cashier would scream "Hey!", we weren't embarrassed for some odd reason), fresh backed glazed donuts, chicken and potato wedges with that crumbly breaded coating used for fried steaks in the morning. The store was the closest thing to a corner store for us. We would brave a very narrow road open to two way traffic to get to it for a pack Hubba Bubba and a box of Whoopers. There was no sidewalk, and the edges were trimmed with white gravel and bits of concrete. These gray, light sand brown and bleached bone white bits of calcium and limestone were speckled with tiny shards of green glass. It was dangerous, especially going up hill where the cars could not see you. We walked there in the summer, at least a mile and a half and thought nothing of it. It was close. Just for a grape soda and a talk about our parents and who was moving to which neighborhood cause their dad got a raise; or, who was moving to a new state cause their mom just finished dentist school; or, who got into a fight at the all white private all boys school that their mother worked two jobs to send them to. You know normal shit.

One day during one of these talks, Paul, a friend of mine, who was only 2 months older but a full head taller walked in front of me with an umbrella. A crazy redneck with his girlfriend faked like he was going to run us down. His girl was in one arm, his other hand was on the steering wheel and we both froze as the practical joke played out and his fiery brown hair flared back like a super hero, a super villan that my mother warned me about, those crazy white guys that will abduct you, stab you, violate you, kill you cause your black. This guy was just a blip on a world that was ending around us, but a world that was and still is behind in race relations. But at 12, I thought that these green trees and this thin road and our nice house was the world. I thought that the guy in the green car was going to run us down because he could.

That was just one incident of many while walking down a street on Clarksville Highway, but the only one I will tell today.

But for me and Paul, this was a big incident. We talked about how we wished he would come back. We talked about how we wished Paul had held the tip of his umbrella out to scratch the car, cause he was that close to us. Cause there was no where to go but into the thicket, of which any 12 year old would be scared in my neighborhood. Poisonous snakes. Chicken Snakes. Black Racers. Thistles. Ticks. Wasps nest. Rabid dogs. All I had seen in my yard or under our house, let alone in the woods, all threats.


Today after maybe 22 years of that store being there it has a different name. All of the cars in the parking lot are duces, beat up trucks, Cadillacs, fixed up Toyotas, etc. . . . The guys running it are Middle Easterners. It is a bodega and not a connivence store anymore. It is a cornucopia of nukka city delights. Hot Fries. Hot Potato Chips. Onion Rings. Golden Flakes. Little Debbies. Hostesses. Brimms’. Old English. 5th Avenues. Golden Flakes. Sour Creams and Onions. Cool Ranches. Extra Cool Ranches. Beef Jerkies. Egyptian Musk Inscenses. Strawberry Inscenses. Drakar Inscenses. Philly Blunts. Fried Chickens. An ATM. High Lifes. Genuine Drafts. Coors Lights. Mystic flavors. Nutty Buddies. Banana Fingers. Lotto. Pick 3. Rub-Off. Chocolate miniature Donuts 6 in a Pack. Powdered miniature Donuts 6 in a Pack. Toasted Coconut Dusted miniature Donuts 6 in a Pack. Honey Buns. Glazed Honey Buns. 35 cent Honey Buns. 99 cent Honey Buns. Cokes. Sprites. Diet Cokes. Newports. Salems. Winstons. Virginia Slims. Camels. Malboros. Lights. Menthol. Life is in a can. Life is in plastic. Life is in a box. Life is in a wrapper. It is a bakery. It is a chocolaterie. It is a soda shop. It is a brewery. It is a dairy. It is a tobacco shop. It is a smoke house. It is a parfumerie. It is provisions. It is Madison Avenue thin paper weight placards painted blue with silver lettering. It is a photshopped black girl on every box.It is a field of dreams. It has oil for the car so you can fuck to a sweet scent. It has car oil. It has newspapers. No magazines. It has little horoscopes rolled tight like spliffs of different colors. It is worn. The North Africans or Persians or Syrians talk without looking. Their lips are black. Their eyes are black. They seem to want to be there. They are comfortable. Everyone is comfortable with them being here in my neighborhood.

I remember when that store had black employees. I remember when the store up the street the Little Red Barn was own by a black guy after he bought it from a white guy but then sold it to another guy whose origin I do not know. The men behind the counter of the Little Red Barn are from the Middle East too. As I approached the former Kwik Sak, driving in a Cadillac, looking for a parking space, on this outpost I paid attention to my direction. When traveling north on Clarksville City Highway you can turn right on Kings Lane and see a couple of big houses to your left. To your right the world is becoming the hood, with roaming groups of young peoples. They are harmless and not foreboding, but looking down this road, to my right and watching three children, maybe not even 16, walking with a baby and a stroller on that same precarious concrete crumble trim of a narrow two way street unnerves me. That is harmful. It is foreboding. The boy up front, holding the pink fitted infant, the two girls pushing the carriage behind talking as they go. 2 are dark, one is brown. 2 have straighten strands of hair, one is beady and boney and tall and lanky. The boy walks like he his balancing something on his head the baby is a secondary gesture in his arms. It is extra. The girls chatter as if they have husbands and must rush home to cook and prepare a bath. They chatter like they have men at war and one has just had an affair or their next door neighbor has just sucked off an officer on leave. They wonder about that husband. They chatter as if they know the kids. They hurry pass me on the road, the shorter dumpier one's motion with the carriage, the speed at which she tries to keep up, the way she is bent over the rail of the buggy, betrays chatter concerning judgment. They are passing judgment, the two girls, the boy strolls atheletically and with perfect posture, almost ready to break into a strut, but the little baby legs clip his motion.

To the left, if you choose to turn left, you are heading to my neighborhood. I live on the hill. There are many hills, but mine is not the big one where the science teacher lives. Mine is the small hill, in the middle of the suburban calm but spacial chaos. The bumpy lands make it so that our land is not carved out so well, not true squares but pie slices. The kids on the bottom of my hill’s north side are in smaller houses. When I was younger friends would visit and they would say that I was rich (not seeing the house I lived in before my parents divorce). I did not believe it. I played it off. It made me uncomfortable to hear such words. But today, as I drive through I wonder. I wonder what is happening to the neighborhood. What is it going to mean for us if that group below the hill invades? From the north comes the look of dilapidated front yards that are grassless. Are grassless yards a sign of poor coloreds? Just a question. Are lush grasses a sign of uppity coloreds? Is that the code? I don't know, but I plant my seeds at the beginning of every spring, sowing my seeds from a basket by hand, like my grandfather used to do. I heard you should do it when it gets cold, in the fall, cover the yard with straw after sowing and wait for the snow. When it melts, the weight of the water will take your seeds into the earth. A bit much. No? I am not that uppity. Negroes.

Below, to the South are my neighbors with the fences. A couple have manicured gardens. Another is a handsome couple who have handsome children that I have not seen for years. They are probably in college now. I remember when they were really small. That yard has two German shepherds that bark all the time at the rabbits that run through our yard. To the West is a view of the green hills before the green mountains. To the east is a church steeple that is new to me. When I played in that church’s backyard it was not built. The pastor has died too. The old first lady of the church lives up the street. Her daughter married a friend of mine from high school who I saw buying chicken soup for his sick son at the Kroger they just built at the sight of an old drive-in theater which once held a blues festival back in the nineties that I missed cause I was in New Jersey finding myself. He is balding. I feel funny near him. He seems conservative, I thought he was wild, he kind of remembered me, but didn't. I forgot. I had a sexual identity problem, I did not speak to anyone in school that much. I just went to class, laughed loud, but I did not go out out out. I did not know what to do with whom. Doom. Gloom. A girlfriend here, a girlfriend there, but no boyfriends. The girl I liked I think became a Black Republican. Not for me.

I went into the Kwik Sak after getting my haircut. It took all day. Today was a service day for the teachers so fathers were at the barber’s with their sons. I waited for 2 hours without any food. Afterwards I went shopping at Kroger. I bought ground chicken, a big chili spice packet, one onion, one pepper, some milk, some eggs, a small can of tomato sauce and a case of Diet Vanilla Cherry Dr. Pepper (nectar from Venus's titty). I then drove to the old Kwik Sak and bought a honey bun because I did not eat all day. I know that I am diabetic, but all those nikka city delectable delights were circling my head like sugar plum fairies. They all gathered at my temple and killed the little sugarless gum bitch of a fairy that is normally talking into my subconscious. Then I picked up a beer for the chili mix and drove away. Every time I am in line I want to speak French to them, but I am nervous, a bit scared. The cashiers have a programed way of addressing everyone. I instantly turn into "boss" or "dawg". They can tell that something is different about me. Something is different about me. Something is different about me. They must know where I live. Maybe they think I am an immigrant too. Kwik Sak is the last gas station for some miles. The Clarksville Highway goes on forever, out of my subdivision into a world of farmland and horse farms. Beautiful little communities. They are agrarian. They are working class. The majority are white. They do not consider themselves Nashvillians at all.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ancestors, Anarchy, Autonomy (The Lost Blog)


I posted something on this site and it has been erased. And then my entry for the Feb. 3rd was erased so I had to post it as the 4th. I will cut and paste and save for now on. How much you wanna bet? They were updating last night during my blogging session.

One of my lost blogs was an entire treatise on Denmark, racist European behavior (them bitches say that they don't discriminate, but they sure as hell can be motherfuckin' prejudice!) and a call for Al Sharpton to boycott BET and not the Cartoon Channel. Boondocks is a great show, with much insight on what is going on from the other side of the looking glass. BET and them chicks on the videos is another situation. Them girls got their moosies in the air like ashtrays. When we have a chance to go after either tasteless pornography (I like porn mind you) or satire in the Black community where does the line fall for the preacher man? Enough said.

My post was beautiful, but I don't want to write it again in vain. The word choices and metaphors just clicked after much tweaking and now the shit is gone. This is all the flavor I can recapture.


Here is the rest of the recap because the headline is worth saving.

Ancestors -- They wanted me to rest, I am sure of that. That is what this past year has been about.

Anarchy -- See above. Our world is becoming black and white, the Western World vs. the rest of the World. It is happening so quick it is unbelievable. Makes me think of Jonathan Swift and boiled eggs. It makes me think about what Jimmy Carter said about World War III.

Autonomy -- What I want and crave like a junkie. This is different than detachment. Please meditate on the difference.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The State of The Union

I wanted to make some comments concerning the speech and get into an interesting discussion with some of my fellow writers but . . .

Last night, I went downstairs to watch the State of the Union address and both me and my mom fell asleep within the first three paragraphs. Woke up. Me and mom watched bits of the Parliament/Funkadelic documentary on PBS. It was our second time. I was wide awake, my mom parted her half sleeping lips to say they don't make music like that anymore, "after Parliment/Funkadelic everything went downhill." Sometimes I think my mom has become a church woman because it is convenient. She needs a boyfriend. I then got up and went to the pharmacy. Complete madness. 4 people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Then I dropped off the video. I owe one million dollars. Black man at the interstate exit on the way back asked me for some money. He was really hungry. He needed help. I did not really notice him till I drove away. I was depressed. Could not get back to the exit to give him something. Got home. Worked on computer. Chatted with the new brown booties that popped up on my new adam4adam account. Downloaded "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction because I love Perry Farrell's voice and the key he sings this song in is fucking great. Started to work on my project for a while, I am on a new phase. Went downstairs. Watched the replay of the documentary on P-Funk. Realized that me and all my childhood friends grew up that way. Southern and Funk oriented. Fell asleep at 3:30 am. Woke up this morning at 9:30 am. Called Cousin in Atlanta. Called the Bronx. No answer. Made coffee. Called the lady from the Bronx's cell. Talked for a second. Go upstairs. Check Hotmail. Have to return e-mail to my friend down in the lower east side of Manhattan. Intellectual. Wonderful woman. My mentor. Husband just found out he had diabetes. We will talk. Go back downstairs and hear that PRESIDENT BUSH IS SPEAKING IN NASHVILLE TODAY AT 11:50 EST AT THE OPRY HOUSE WITH SENATOR BILL FRIST.

Fuck it. I am staying in my house.