Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sick Day Note


I have been sick for about two weeks. First was a fight with a stomach flu, and now it is inflamed tonsils. So, I can't really write. Went and did my diabetic check up in the mist of learning where my tonsils are ("Doc! You mean that is not my throat? But it hurts when I swallow. Amazing!). Blood pressure was slightly elevated but nothing near what landed me in the hospital two years ago. Sugar, need a little help. Gotta keep up the blood testing and finding cash for the Novolog.

Man, this is expensive. I kick myself in my pants for not having insurance, and the more I stare adjunct teaching positions down, the more I think about changing professions. The kind of security I need seems to be impossible in the academic system. At least for me. I am becoming frustrated I guess.

So, that is that. More later.

I wrote a note to Ms Portugal after a long time. She is not mad at me. Thought she was. Maybe we have grown a bit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Video for the War -- OK, Back to the War -- It Cost a Gazillion Dollars

Whenever I get upset with New York, which is often, I usually listen to Stevie Nicks. In a perfect universe the both of us would have been twins or something, but a last, we are separated by space and time and I only consult her on Youtube (which, I continue to think is the second coming).

So, as I go through another administrative hell with yet another educational mastodon, I decided that I needed to talk to Stevie. So, magically (you know how Ms. Wicca operates) the first of Stevie's "Stand Back" music videos appeared on my Youtube search. This particular video is called the Scarlet Version. It is a corny re-enactment of a civil war scene and was trashed in favor of the now famous electric lights version of the song (funny, concealed in her "Scarlet" commentary is all I want to say about Bush's War, as well as the act of self editing). It still hits me in my gut,because I remember riding in many a dirty white cameo or rimmed out little black tinted windowed Toyota with the Appalachian foothills surrounding me in hump backed silhouettes listening to Stevie. I love her voice because it is preachy, bitchy and sisterly. Her vibrato draws a line in the sand like a lioness awaiting a watering bull.

It brings me back to riding with a chef from Anniston, Alabama to Birmingham, Alabama to escort him to one of his "meetings" because he had a hard week and did not want to relapse (what we do for the love of straight guys). I remember devouring canned smoked oysters and wine coolers. I remember watching lightening storms. I remember the smell of wet green leaves and Newports. I remember dish water blond white girls smiling at me on the bus smelling like Marlboro's. And, I remember watching Showtime's movie intermissions which included videos by The Police and Stevie. It was a whole Saturday afternoon full of a British Robin Hood mini-series and repeats of Clash of the Titans. A whole Southern world where we never talk about race, where everyone is a good ole boy, where recreation is work and sport is leisure. It is a world that is still there . . . oddly enough. It is still hot, humid and full of surprise visits from people you may not have seen in12 years.

It is my New York kryptonite.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Death of the Roxy/Twilight World

I don't have much time so let's get to it, my sister is in town and will leave tomorrow. I am also waiting to see how things pan out at work because we got a new budget in River City and I never like to stay at a place until the Sandman comes and forces me off the stage. Though that is not going to happen.

I am also in the middle of some essential reading, and working on a writer/painter collaboration hopefully set for May in Harlem (we know how these things go). I want to work on the project regardless of whether it runs or doesn't, but I gotta birth this literary exercise. So, I apologize for my blogging attendance, it has been dismal. When I finish reading this book by Joe LeSueur about the poet Frank O'Hara, I will free myself up to write about my New York experience. But in the mist of me reading about NYC's past I noticed a part of my past has fallen away. The Roxy closed.

It is depressing or is it progress?

The truth is I never went and I am not a Chelsea kid; and, I never scored at The Big Cup, nor could I keep up with the gym queens. But The Roxy's sudden death does make me sad, my entire youth seems to be erased block by block. The first kid I meet at work during my first year in NYC in 1993 who was openly gay invited me to the Roxy. He was about 23 or 24, thin and sick from the AZT that threw his stomach and bowels into fits. He called me a primitive Jack Kerouac, which I did not know how to take since I was stark naked in terms of critical theory and the ways of those north of the Mason Dixon line. But his invitation and slur/compliment was like a wet plastic gloved slap on my newly awakened upside down sexually free ass.

The crack of that comment nestled somewhere in my spinal fluid, and a thought was formed that sunk down to the base of my skull: "This is a Mary. This is shade. This is viscous. This is 8th and Broadway. This might be racist. This is a come on." He was in graduate school too, studying with some weird out spacey artist whose name I forget. I would have thought him a nerd, tall and slender, maybe from the mid-west, but the way he walked down the imaginary cat walk was not like a white boy, it was like a black woman giving her tidings in church. And, I guess that is why I find him still endearing, though I know nothing of his condition today. Again, another nameless and timeless New York happenstance.

Chelsea is becoming very upscale with the galleries and many of the old monied New Yorkers moving down town (a little birdy told me this). Maybe that is why it is happening. And so it is gone, the dirty little K-hole of manger that birthed muscle boys in 1991 after the city's population was devastated by Miss Kitty. I remember that too. 1989. A year that is now just another layer of soot in this city's history and in my mind.

So, that was The Roxy!.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dream Time

I had a dream last night that I had 2,000 hits on my blog. I guess it is a sign that I have not been writing. So far my cousin and 3 other friends have called specifically to tell me to get my ass back on that keyboard. Thanks Stan and Ava.

So, what have I been doing? The list could go on and on, but let's concentrate on Dreamgirls, shall we. I finally saw the movie at the Ziegfeld Theater on the same evening as the Oscars. German Musicologist and I rushed back to his hotel room to watch the show. I think I will watch a couple of movies on the same day as the Oscars next year because it makes the actors' performances and the award ceremony equal in immediacy. It is a great feeling of anticipation actually.

I guess what I liked about the film above all was how it delved into the complicated world of drugs, sex and attraction without a nude scene or Eddie Murphy's character bleeding out of every orifice after some caustic overdose of bad heroin. I have never seen the original Broadway version of Dreamgirls. I was just 8 or 9 when it first came out, and we lived in Nashville, Tennessee not in the Tri-State area. Even if my mother had asked me then if I wanted to go, I would not have gone, I would have wanted to ride my bike down some rocky glass laden side road with my dog or a couple of friends. So, I was surprised to see a composite of Marvin Gaye, Berry Gordy and a couple of the Temptations mixed together with the epic story of The Supremes. The tragedy of Florence Ballard deserves several operas in my opinion.

So, I think Jennifer Hudson deserved the Oscar. I loved the way she was delectable in that way big sisters can be delectable. She was love on the screen, soaking up all the lighting like Grace Kelly. Beyonce Knowles gave a more than worthy performance, but I don't think that film gave her enough space to go where she could have gone. And I wish over all that Anika Noni Rose got more attention, she has caught mine, so I am looking out for her.

In so many ways Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose feed into America's mythical stardom cortex of black girls in the entertainment industrial complex. All talented, all divas and all conjurers in a way. During the 2007 Oscar Awards ceremony you see Beyonce smiling, screaming, crossing her eyes and pushing up vibretto laden hallelujahs; Jennifer Hudson biting the ends of notes like hot pickled peppers straight from the jar; and, Anika singing like a 1970's Philadelphia Sound songbird given a chance to stick her head out from the overshadowing battle. It is enchanting somehow. It is a living trope. Its mustard powder and love charms.

I am waiting to see what comes next. In some funny way, with the way R&B, Hip-Hop and NeoSoul have been progressing, this seems like some sort of apex, from which no one knows how to dismount, or turn it into something else. It is like Lauryn Hill's debut album and the cashing in of an inheritance. For Hill it was the Marley set of miracles, for these Neo-Divas it is the heavily historical phantom hurricane of Miss Ross and the shunning of that original Dreamgirls cast in some obvious and not so obvious ways. Lauryn was our savior before our sugar and grandiose political land of Afro-Valhalla fell directly on top of her head. And by the way, where is Jennifer Holiday? Jennifer Holiday come back to the five and dime baby, we miss you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Postcard From Jazz @ Lincoln Center

Well, the last 10 days have been me getting things together in my head to see German Musicologist and now it is Sunday night and I am having a tall tropical drink and relaxing from days of analyzing the world of musicologists and how they measure up in the academy, peppered with glimpses of jazz inspired debates. But in the end, I guess I was left wanting. Though the intellectual meals and epicurial dialogue were stimulating, I simply know what I like in terms of jazz music, but I can't form a coherent historiography of its study. German Musicologist and I talked about musicians, performance, and our performances (he is a better musician than I by far), but as with all things in Germany, his view of the world is not limited by walls, but by little blinds attached to his glasses . . . he studied jazz and that is what is safe. An impromtu conversation starter around Eddie Money was received coldly but with mild affection.

There is a poem forming in my brain as we speak.

Tonight, I feel like Woodstock from the Peanuts, dancing down an open field, singing "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" cause Spring 2007 is here.

I received word from PU that I was not accepted in an e-mail. I am not so interested in why, I am just happy that I got a response, and I am happy that after the ordeal of the application my family of accountants, under paid social science majors, biologists and engineers have a better idea about what I do and what I want. So with that, I am breathing a sigh of relief because my little universe is not teetering on the balance any longer. Definitive answers and resolutions are coming daily.

But, not to be so self centered, I would like to share a funky New Orleans and Nashville based band I found surfing the web tonight. The Captain Midnight Band is all that and a double dash of fish sauce -- just before I partake in some white beans, oven roasted chicken, southern style cabbage and corn bread.

But chew on these chewy promises . . .

-- I promise to fill in the gaps on the latest heartache -- I broke a heart this time, instead of mine getting bullet ridden.

-- I promise to fill in the gaps on the future -- I have another job possibility.

-- I promise to fill in the gaps on that short piece I want to write about Andre and me riding to East Nashville that summer -- it has been on my mind, but PU had my creative juices on lock down, my subconscious did not know where to go after organizing my thoughts for a larger historical project.

Blah, blah, blah

More to say . . . but . . . no real time.

Just rebounding after being a tourist for a couple days. . .

And waiting for a new Dream Time to start.