Friday, September 29, 2006

THE OSM'S TOP TEN LIST OF JACKED-UP 'FROS . . .

Before we review today's list, let me just say I got an email from my old friend JG wanting to know why I was HATING on Jermaine Jackson so tough (see the OSM's list of Enviable 'Fros). Hating on Jermaine? Please. Tell me this JG, what's up with you always taking up for those dogone Jacksons (LOL)? If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you were one of Papa Joe's love children . . . Go on and 'fess up boy (smile).

Also, I need to add an honorable mention to the OSM's list of Enviable 'Fros. Comedian Steve Harvey always keeps his 'fro tight, doesn't he? Of course, something tells me he's doctoring his do with a heavy dose of dye, but still . . . it looks good on him (Yeah, okay I borrowed that last line from Bruce, Bruce).

Anyway, back to the business at hand. Like I mentioned before, this is all in good fun and in no particular order.

THE OSM'S TOP TEN LIST OF JACKED-UP 'FROS

1)LEROY "SUGARFOOT" BONNER (the original lead singer of the Ohio Players) I'm sorry, but he was the first somebody to come to mind when I thought up this list. Not sure why, but something about the way dude's 'fro cascaded over his eye, like a nappy triangular-shaped bang, has always seriously bugged me.

2) MAURICE WHITE (the original lead singer of Earth, Wind and Fire) Yeah, I can already hear my friend JG calling me a hater again (smile). But y'all know, back in the day, brother Maurcie (bless his heart) had durn near as much forehead as he did 'fro. Which only makes all the more peculiar the recent pics I've seen of him. Dude's hairline has actually moved forward a couple of inches since the 70's. Come on now. Who's Zoomin' Who? (Aretha Franklin 1985 ). Anyway, did you know that both Maurice and his equally hair challenged brother, Verdine, (also of EW&F fame) were from Memphis? Both were Booker T. Washington grads, if I'm not mistaken.

3) LIL STEVIE RAY (naw, y'all don't know him) Lil S. Ray appears on the list courtesy of my LeMoyne-Owen (the historically Black college located in Memphis) College days. Lil S. Ray was a little short dude, who I distinctly remember belting out a pretty decent version of EW&F's "Reasons" at one of LOC's talent shows. But the main reason I remember Lil Stevie is because his 'fro sat way back on hs head, just like Maurices's. Matter of fact, I'd dare say, his sat back a couple of inches further.

4) ROGER (from What's Happening!) I don't know if I even own the words to describe Raj's 'fro. I'm thinking his head was the reason why so many little boys got sent to the barbership every other Saturday with specific instructions to "get all that mess cut off."

5) FLORIDA (from Good Times) Y'all know had Willona been a real friend she would have hooked her girl Flo up with one of ther wigs . . . if not the name and number of a good beautician.

6) GEORGE JEFFERSON (from the Jeffersons) Just like the comb-over and the toupee, the hole in the 'fro look is a major fashion DON'T, unless, of course, you're goal is to look like a character as opposed to either cute or cool.

7) CORNEL WEST Now, I don't mean no harm . . . but every time I see brother Cornel's head, I get hit by an overwhelming urge to go dig up and dust off my old clippers (I cut my son's hair when he was a toddler). Actually, I think the professor's 'fro would go from jacked up to jazzy in no time with a regular shape up and trim.

8) MY COUSIN C. I almost didn't put Cuz on the list because he really was a good-looking brother. His being tall, dark and handsome, only made it all the more puzzling as to why he typically looked like he picked out his 'fro with a table fork and a butter knife.

9) BEN WLLACE (of the Detroit Pistons/Chicago Bulls fame) I must say, I do admire Ben's boldness and don't give a flip attitude. But that whole sticking straight up in the air, Buckwheat look, really doesn't become him. I'm thinking a round or two with somebody's hedge clippers and a weed whacker would suit him just fine.

10) ME (in high school) Hey, I call 'em like I see 'em (LOL). I'm pretty sure if my knuckle-headed brother is somewhere reading this, he's shouting, "Show 'em pictures! Show 'em pictures!" Nope, not gonna happen. I will go as far as to admit that even today, on occasion, I can still be caught sporting a right jacked up 'fro. All I can say is, cut a sister some slack. I'm working on it. All right?

Coming up next on the OSM's Top Ten Hair List? Brothers Who Need To Let The Perm Go . . . Y'all come back now, ya hear? ("Jed's Ballad" from The Beverly Hillbillies 1962-1971 )

Sunday, September 24, 2006

SUNDAY BEST . . . I HOPE YOU DANCE

is the title of a song by Lee Ann Womack. Yes, it is a country and western tune. No, I'm not what you might call a fan of C&W music, but the lyrics to I Hope You Dance are simply beautiful, for lack of a better word.

Believe it or not, I wouldn't even know the words to this song, had it not been for the hubby, who brought them to my attention, for the first time, just yesterday morning. I'm not sure what made him start talking about this old show we used to watch together--Any Day Now. He said there was a song that accompanied one episode of the show that for some reason he always remembered. That song was/is I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack. He went online, pulled up the lyrics of the song and printed them out for me.

The words to this song really do speak to me. If I didn't know any better, I'd say ole boy was trying to tell me something (smile). Anyway, I thought the words to Ms. Womack's song were inspirational enough to share in the SUNDAY BEST portion of the Old School Mix. I hope you enjoy them.

I Hope You Dance.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY . . . TO ME!

YES, today is, indeed, my BIRTHDAY! How old am I? Old enough to know better than to answer that question (smile). Hey, I've got my "old school" card and that's all you need to know.

Some of the folks who share a birthday with me include:
Ray Charles Julio Iglesias Jermaine Dupri Bruce Springsteen and John Coltrane who was born in Hamlet, North Carolina in 1926.

On this day in history . . .

Did you know that on this day (September 23) in 1957 the nine students who had entered the Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas were forced to withdraw due to threats of violence from an unruly mob?

Happy B-day to all of the other first day of autum, equinox children out there. Also, I'd like to extend an extra special thanks to SP of Cleveland, Ohio for taking the creases out of my baby picture for me. Peace & Blessings, Y'all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

THE OSM'S TOP TEN LIST OF ENVIABLE 'FROS . . . (This is all in good fun and in no particular order.)

1) PRINCE (Okay, I know I'm not the only one who remembers that "before the perm" poster of His Purple Badness that appeared in RIGHT ON! Magazine.)

2) MICHAEL AND JACKIE JACKSON (of the J5) (Yeah, I could have put Jermaine on the list too, but he was probably my least favorite Jackson, back in the day.)

3) LINC (from The Mod Squad) (Okay, with Linc it wasn't even about the hair. Brother was just cool with his.)

4) ANGELA DAVIS (When you look up 'fro in the dictionary, Angie D.'s picture is the first one you ought to see. To let you know just how "old school" I am, I can still remember my Mom's "free Angela Davis" t-shirt.)

5) NIKKI GIOVANNI (Did you ever see the back cover of her book The Women and The Men? Yup, Ms. G., had a right cute little 'fro.)

6) PAT CLAPP (Yeah, I know. Y'all are saying, who? Pat C. was a girl who went to JR High with me. She had the most perfect 'fro I've ever seen, bar none.)

7) THE BROTHERS IN THE SYLVERS (Don't play. Those "Boogie Fever' boys were somethin' else. Betcha didn't know they were originally from Memphis, did ya?)

8) DWAYNE AND SHIRLEY (from What's Happening?) (Shirley died, not too long ago. Wonder what ever happened to Dwayne?)

9) RON DELLUMS (You know, the retired Congressman who was recently elected Mayor of Oakland? Yeah, he's old enough to be my daddy, but hey. I've admired his hair and had a slight crush on ole boy for years.)

10) JESSIE JACKSON (Okay, work with me here. I'm talking the good Rev.'s WattStax days and on back . . . before he started putting that kit on those kinks and started using all of that dippity-do on his head.)

Well, that's my list. If you think I missed somebody, don't like one of my picks or want to submit a list of your own send me an email or feel free to use the comments section. Coming up next, the OSM's top ten list of Jacked Up 'Fros (smile).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

NEW GROWTH . . . COMMENTS

Did you feel the music all up in that piece? *(see previous post below)* I'm still not sure what inspired those particular characters. I just sat down one day and they appeared--fully formed and ready to cut up and act a fool.

Interestingly enough, there are folks in Memphis who still ask about Jackie Ann. "What's Jackie been up to? When are you going to write about Jackie Ann again? What's been going on with her hair these days?"

After eyeballing the questioner in a right peculiar fashion, my standard response has been something along the lines of, "Now, you do know Jackie Ann is a figment of my imagination, don't you? (LOL)

If you don't mind, I think I'll stay on the topic of hair for a minute. Stay tuned for my (totally off the wall) list of the top ten best 'fros, worst 'fros and brothers who need to let the the perm go (smile).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BACK-TRACKING TUESDAY . . . A TASTE OF "NEW GROWTH"

The following is an excerpt from my very first published short story. "New Growth" debuted in the November 1990 issue of Memphis Magazine. Not to brag, but it also placed first in that year's Memphis Magazine's Fiction Award Contest. It's a fun, playful piece with more than a few serious undertones. Most of my work is like that, I think . . .

New Growth
by Lori D. Johnson
(an excerpt from a story first published in the November 1990 issue of Memphis Magazine)

Jackie Ann was a pretty little brown-skinned girl, who at the drop of the right down-beat could dance herself into a righteous frenzy. But these were facts that went unrecognized for their merit in her family. Whenever the spotlight turned to her, it seemed to focus on only one feature--her hair. It was always the hair, one and a half inches long and orange in some places, that pushed the reluctant Jackie Ann onto center stage.

From Tika and Shante, her long-haired half-sisters (half-monsters according to Jackie Ann), came the chant: "Short and nappy! Short and nappy! Ain't gone ever make no man happy!"

From her cigar-smoking, loud-talking Uncle Jake: "The girl sho' nuff got it honest though. All them folk on her mama's side of the family got that bad-ass hair."

From Charles, her father, a genuinely sympathetic but pretty much misguided soul: "Don't worry 'bout it, baby. When you get old enough, Daddy gone buy you a hair weave."

From Barbara Jean, her stepmother, who took everything to the most serious extreme: "Hair weave, my behind! You know how much those things cost! Humpf, if it was left up to me, I'd shave all that mess off and get her fitted for a wig."

And finally from Rose, Jackie Ann's grandmother, and the woman the family affectionately referred to as "M'Deah,' a tender-hearted: "Lawd, chile, what are we gonna do 'bout your head?"

What were they going to do about her head? A better question might have been--what hadn't they done to her head? It had been hot-combed, jheri-curled, permed, and cold-waved into a state of exhaustion. But still it remained defiant, steadfastly refusing to give in to their demands for luster and growth. Instead, it split at the ends, came out in patches, and turned orange from the unmerciful chemical warfare that had been launched against it.

Except for the vehement "No, don't cut it!" that accompanied the sight, sound or mention of scissors, Jackie Ann chose to endure both humiliation and mutilation in silence. A passive stance it was, but one frequently subject to betrayal by her body, which spoke eloquently in the language of dance. Her musically inspired performances, marked by fits of jerking, twisting, jumping, sliding, humping, and whirling 'round and 'round until she was drunk with motion and high on movement, led her puzzled kin to believe the child was truly crazy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

SUNDAY BEST . . . Something Within.com. for thinking women of faith

is the title of Dr. Renita Weems's e-journal. For those of you who don't know, Dr. Weems is a writer, a speaker, a scholar and an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

I've had the pleasure of reading several of Dr. Weem's books Listening for God: A Minister's Journey Through Silence and Doubt (2000) I Asked For Intimacy (1993) and Just A Sister Away (1987).

The book that initially stirred my interest in her work, Just A Sister Away, is one I stumbled upon while in the library, doing research on some totally unrelated topic. Prior to reading the book, I'd pretty much written off a couple of the women in my family. As far as I was concerned, these particular women were just some mean ole heifers and I wanted little to do with them. But after reading Just A Sister Away, my whole perspective changed and I started viewing those same women in a more compassionate light. I started seeing them as women who had been hurt and scarred and whose negativity towards me reflected their own inner pain. Rather than wish they'd change, I began to change my own behavior and how I chose to interact with them. The change (the one I made) not only improved my relationships with these women, but made me a better person as well.

I strongly encourage you to check out Renita Weem's site for yourself. http://www.somethingwithin.com/

Even if you're not a woman of faith, I'm fairly certain you'll find some bit of wisdom or insight that resonates within you. Below you'll find a link to an achieved piece by Dr. Weem's entitled "Trust Your Passion."

http://www.somethingwithin.com/archive-trustyourpassion.htm

In the piece Dr. Weem's mentions, among other things, a saying, "religion is not to be believed, it is to be danced." Her corresponding statement to which is, "Who wants to serve a God that doesn't make you want to dance from time to time?" Frankly, I couldn't agree more (smile).

I'd like to thank AD for sharing the link to Renita Weem's work with me. If you know of any similarly inspirational and/or encouraging websites feel free to email me the links. I'll try to share as many as I can in the SUNDAY BEST portion of the OS mix.

So, shall we, as my friend MR recently put it, "Let the dancing begin?" Stay tuned in the coming days for more dancing in the form of an excerpt from my short story "New Growth."

Friday, September 15, 2006

AFTER THE DANCE . . .

Q: Isn't that the title of a song? A: Yes, a Marvin Gaye tune. It first appeared on his I Want You album back in 1976.

Q: That's also the title of your novel? A: Yes . . . unless, of course, my editor suggests otherwise.

Q: What kind of story is it? A: I guess you could call it a romantic comedy, of sorts.

Sorry folks. Until Ms. Agent gives me the "go ahead," I'm really not at liberty (in this particular forum) to say more than that. As soon as all of the paperwork has been Signed, Sealed and Delivered (Stevie Wonder, 1970), I will happily disclose all of the important details (like the name of the publisher, the publication date, etc) as well as reveal a bit more about the story, the characters and the plot.

Until then, I'd like to invite you to take a look at how I think AFTER THE DANCE differs from some of the other "urban" romances/love stories currently on the market.

What AFTER THE DANCE does not contain:

1) Folks getting shot, killed, kidnapped or sexually assaulted

2) Cars, clothes or homes getting burned up

3) Dope smoking, sniffing, stealing or dealing

4) Triple X-rated sex

5) Excessive profanity

6) Name dropping of designer clothes, cars, shoes, bags, etc.

7) Brothers going to jail

8) Sisters getting beat-down or smacked around

9) W/Folks as villians or saviors

10) B/Folks as simpletons or saints

What AFTER THE DANCE does contain:

1) A father who openly demonstrates his love for his children

2) Ex-spouses who make a genuine effort to get along

3) B/Folks struggling to do better

4) Strong father/daughter relationships

5) Expressions of tenderness between a B/man & a B/woman

6) B/women behaving civilly towards one another

7) A number of old school musical references

8) Young people showing respect for their elders

9) A convergence of the urban South & the rural South

10) Modern day examples of B/Southern etiquette

Uh-huh, I know what you're thinking: "What?! No, triple X-rated sex? Nobody getting "stabbed, shot, kilt or hurt" (Arrested Development's "People Everday" 1992 )? Not so much as even one sister catching a beat down? Dag, girl, I thought you said you were a sister who wanted to be read?"

Yes, I did say that. Didn't I? (LOL)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

COMMENTS . . . ANYONE . . .

Hey, thanks for all of the nice emails. Understandably, quite a few of the comments have been about the picture--most of them complimentary (thank you very much). Still not so sure what to make of the "You sure WERE cute," (as in once upon a time, a heck of a long time ago) comments. LOL!

Anyway . . . One of my Cleveland pals, SP, has kindly offered to smooth the creases out of the picture for me. So, don't be surprised if it reappears at some point looking all new and improved (Thanks again, SP).

Another sisterfriend, AD from Memphis, sent me a cool, inspirational link that I may very well share in the coming weeks.

My ATL-based bud, YN, who has known me since our grad school days at the U of M (called Memphis State, back then) and who accompanied me on at least one of the 5 or 6 times I went to see the COLOR PURPLE upon its release umpteen some years ago, emailed to express her complete surprise at my mention of TO SLEEP WITH ANGER on my list of movie favorites. Turns out it's one of her all-time favs too. Hmmm. I'm thinking one of us just might be in the beginning stages of Old-Timer's disease 'cause I could almost swear we talked about that once . . .

MR, my "go-to-guy" in Memphis emailed me wanting to know what was up with me describing myself as "shy" and "innocent." He obviously doesn't see me as either. LOL. All right MR! Don't let me have to break out some T.I. on you. How's that one verse go? "When you see me in the street shorty, you don't know me!" (Well, at least that's how the cleaned-up version goes, anyway) Of course, when MR reads this he's going to be like, "Huh?" Being that he's even more "Old School" than myself, I'm not so sure he knows T.I. from the FBI. But that's all right. He knows I don't have nothin' but love for him.

Need I say the preceding sentiment is one that goes ten-fold for AL, who apparently was the only somebody brave enough to step forward with a public comment (appreciate ya Sweetie).

Seriously y'all, it is my sincere hope that over time the OS Mix will evolve into more of a dialogue. What I'm striving for is an on-going exchange of ideas and comments. In other words, don't y'all have me up in here talking to myself, like somebody crazy! I'm saying, if nothing else, grant a sister a public, "Amen" every once in a while. All right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

PICTURE PERFECT . . .
See that black & white picture in the corner? It's one of my favorite photographs of "me." According to Mom, the snapshot was taken at Scott AFB in Illinois, where Dad was stationed at the time. Furthermore, Mom states that I am somewhere between the ages of 2-3 in the caputured image and the hooded coat I'm wearing is pink with white trim (Yep, leave it to Mom to remember all of the pertinent fashion details).

I think I like this picture because I can readily see so much of the "core" me in it--the shy me, the innocent me and even the mischievous me. Best of all though, this snapshot grants me an unobstructed view of the quick to laugh and smile little girl that most days I still am--behind the adult facade. The picture is one I used to keep in my wallet until the day a friend shamed me out of the habit. "How many people do you know, who actually walk around with a picture of themselves?" is pretty much what she hurled at me. Not wanting to be thought of as vain or in anyway self-absorbed, I shoved the photo into the back corner of a drawer and all but forgot about it, until just recently. I suppose I've FINALLY reached that point in life where I honestly DON'T CARE what other folks think when it comes to CERTAIN things. I mean, come on y'all, ain't like it's some totally unflattering photo of me caught in some compromising position (like say, a snapshot of me sitting up somewhere slanty-eyed drunk and dressed like a hoochie mama or else one of me all snuggled up next to somebody else's husband or, God-forbid, one of me swinging around a pole in some fool's shake 'em up joint). No, Mom, I don't actually own any pictures like the aforementioned. I'm just saying . . . Anyway, this is indeed, a new day. Later for letting folks (whether friends, foes or family members) push their self-esteem issues off on me (smile). Besides, if showcasing one's babygirl picture is good enough for the likes of -- Jill Scott http://www.jillscott.com/ and

Nichelle Tramble http://www.nichelletramble.com/biography.htm

(Thanks for the inspiration, ladies!)

Hey, it's durn sure good enough for me. Nuff said? All right then.

Monday, September 11, 2006

INTRO . . .

At the end of the day, I'm just a sister who writes and who wants to be read. I am also proud to announce the pending publication of my very first novel--

AFTER THE DANCE

(stay tuned for details)

WHAT IS "OLD SCHOOL?"

I was born in the 60's. Need I say more?

WHAT IS LORI'S OLD SCHOOL MIX?

I intend for the Old School Mix to be a hodge-podge of commentary, information, trivia, interviews, links and reviews. The OS Mix will cover a wide array of topics--music, literature, history, art, pop culture and social issues to name a few. Every now and then the Mix will rock hard and serious, but on most days it will swing toward the light-hearted and fun. If at any time you feel like adding your voice to the Mix, please, don't hesitate. Your comments, feedback, opinions and suggests are always welcome.

ABOUT MY WORK
My work is heavily influenced by music. I grew up listening to my mother's Aretha Franklin and Al Green, my father's Miles and Coltrane as well as the James Brown, Johnny Taylor, B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland that typically greeted my ears in the dark North Memphis cafes, grills and smoke-filled lounges that kept one of my grandmothers gainfully employed.
Perhaps that is why, for me, beneath the words there is always music--whether a throb, a hum, a quiet melody or a rhythmic beat. In a sense, my approach to writing is all about chasing the music. I know if I'm able to string together the "right" combination of words, I'll find it. I know once I've found it, I can make the piece sing.