Monday, May 28, 2007


A couple of days ago, when I discovered I'd be in Atlanta this summer in time to catch the Atlanta Black Arts Festival, I all but jumped out of my seat and cheered. Not only do I LOVE art festivals, I've been wanting to attend the Atlanta Black Arts Fest for years now . . really, ever since I learned of its existence.

Yes, I have an arts festival JONES that won't quit. My house is full things (prints, jewelry, mirrors, purses, african drums and other such hand carved items) I've purchased at various festivals from around the country. But the truth is, I attend them even when I'm broke and have absolutely no plans of buying anything. My guess is the creatively rich environment that makes up an art festivals helps feed the ravenous cravings of my own muse.

A combination of things go into the making of a good arts festival, I think. Location and parking are two inter-related items that place pretty high on my list. While a center-city or downtown locale always adds a bit of flavor to the event, parking that is free (or relatively inexpensive), nearby and plentiful makes attendance all the more inviting.

Being a fan of fresh air and sunshine, I prefer an outdoor festival. But an in-door event can have its merits. One of the highlights (and believe me, there weren't many) of the four long years I spent in the Cleveland area was an indoor festival called Sankofa / Cleveland Fine Art Expo which was typically held at Tri-C's (Cuyahoga Community College) eastern campus.

I always wondered why the event organizers never used the suburban campus' nicely manicured and enormous grounds for the festival. But in Cleveland, its always about the weather . . . rain, wind or snow is typically always lurking somewhere in the forecast. So, if not precipitation, mud may have been an issue. What I enjoyed must about Sankofa was the mix of arts--fine, folk, film literary, etc. There was a bit of something to whet every artistic appetite.

The presence of food, the kind you eat, also helps make a festival fun. At the most recent fest (The Art and Soul of The South End) I attended here in Charlotte, I actually managed to limit myself to a single bratwrust and a cherry-flavored Italian ice.

But what truly endears a festival to me are the people. When I lived in Memphis, one of the great joys of attending the yearly Africa in April celebration was running into people I'd lost touch with or no longer saw on a regular basis. It was always a fun surprise to bump into friends, relatives and/or see co-workers who I'd least expect to see at a crowded, downtown "artsy event."

Equally enjoyable is the opportunity to meet and greet some of the artists and vendors. Again, whenever I hung-out in Africa in April's "market place" I'd always look for my friend and fellow writer, A.J., who hawked goods on behalf of the business she and her hubby owned. While living in Cleveland, I generally looked for an artist by the name of Shedrick, whose thin, long-legged characters I've come to love. On two different occasions, I purchased some of her work at a Cleveland area art festival called Art In the Village.

I'm already looking forward to September when one of the artist I met at Charlotte's Art and Soul of South End will return with her eye-catching array of shadow boxes, mirrors and clocks (Jordan's Treasures). Yup, I plan on adding more of her work to my collection too (smile).

Obviously, I was meant to live in Charlotte, if only because the nice weather makes it ideal for out-door activities year round. Festival junkie that I am, last year I celebrated my first full week here by going out to an area of Charlotte known as NoDA (North Davidson) and attending what was billed as Charlotte's First Literary Festival. Not only am I looking forward to trekking out to the Charlotte Literary Festival again this August, but I already have my sights set on next year's event when, if all goes well and the creek don't rise, I'll be one of the many author participants. Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed. I'll keep you posted.

If you have a favorite festival or you know one that just might tickle my fancy, give me the scoop. I'm always on the look-out for new ones to try.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Really, I hadn't intended for this to be my next post. But my funny-bone was so tickled by the article on "pole dancing" I ran across in Friday's Charlotte Observer, I couldn't resist.

According to the piece, "pole dancing" long a past-time of the exotic dancer and stripper set, is the newest exercise craze. One of the instructors at a fitness club called "B-Risque" claims many of the women who come to her for instruction in "pole-ercise" are housewives and teachers. She also said a lot of church folk show up wanting to learn how to work the pole (LOL).

After I stopped laughing, I shared the article with the hubby only to have him say, "Girl, we need to think about getting us one of those poles . . . " I said, "Yeah right, that's all we need, one of us getting up in the middle of the night, walking straight into some doggone pole and knocking ourselves out. How'd we explain that one to the paramedics, much less our folks?"

Anyway, alongside the article ran a sidebar containing a list of the Top 10 Pole Dancing Songs. On the list were the following: 1) Erotica: Madonna; (2) Hollaback Girl: Gwen Stafani; (3) Temperature: Sean Paul; (4) Ain't No Other Man: Christina Aguilera; (5) Check On It: Beyonce; (6) I'm N Luv (Wit A Stripper) T-Pain; (7) Promiscuous: Nelly Furtado; (8) SexyBack: Justin Timberlake; (9) London Bridge: Fergie; (10) Buttons: Pussycat Dolls

I'm sure it goes without saying that even if I were trying to work a pole (uh, don't worry Mom, I'm not) I wouldn't be trying to do it to any of that whack mess. Of course, then I started wondering what an "old school" list of music to work a pole by would look like and I came up with the following:

The Old School Mix Top 10 Pole Dancing Tunes
1) Push It (Salt N Pepa)
2) Da Butt (E.U.)
3) Nasty Girl (Vanity Six)
4) Lady Marmalade (Labelle)
5) Love To Love You Baby (Donna Summers)
6) Giving Him Something He Can Feel (Aretha Franklin)
7)Do Me Baby (Prince)
8) Cold-Blooded (Rick James)
9) Housecall (Your Body Can't Lie To Me) (Maxi Priest & Shabba Ranks)
10) The Over Weight Lover's In The House (Heavy D & Da Boys)

Hey, now that's a list beffiting of an ole girl who's still got enough fire left in her to wanna work a pole . . . and no Mom, in case you're wondering, that would NOT be me (LOL)!

If you'd like to make an addition or two to the list, hit me up in the comments section.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

COINCIDENCE . . . OR DIVINE INTERVENTION? PT I (A Few Odd Happenings On The Road to Publication)

Have you ever experienced one of those moments in life that made you wonder if what just took place was truly a coincidence or if the hand of GOD had actually come into play? Well, I've had things of that nature happen to me so many times over the years, I've stopped counting them. Still, I'm always momentarily taken aback when they arise.

I'm not talking about those random or odd happenings that sometimes occur when folks with similar interests or like backgrounds collide or meet up in the same place. Just last week, I experienced one of those. While blog-hopping one night, I stumbled upon a funny comment from an artist I'd actually met, barely a couple of weeks before, and whose work I'd admired enough to purchase at a local art festival.

Yes, those isolated "small world" moments are neat, but that's not what I'm talking about. What I mean are those All Up In Your Face moments that force you to nod, if not outright bow to the Higher Power (or unseen forces, if you prefer) working behind the scenes.

Case in point, years ago, when I lived in Memphis and still drove a hoopty, it up and stalled on me a couple of times. Both times the car quit and wouldn't start again were at night and in one of those instances, in a part of the city that could best be described as less than desirable. In the latter instance, it just so happened I was with friends and within walking distance of a well-lit gas station that had a working phone. (This was, of course, in the days before cell phones became all the rage). I called up a cousin, who lived nearby and who, to my surprised and good fortune, just so happened to be at home, instead out making his drug rounds to his usual customers . . . oh yeah, true story.

Anyway, the other time my hoopty died, I was alone and I'd just left a REALLY BAD area, one where I could have been easly hit by a car if not shot, stabbed and kilt dead (ebonics 101 y'all) in the very process of trying to find a working phone. On that particular occasion, as fate would have it, my car screeched to a halt at a corner . . . a corner that was only a 3 minute walk from my favorite aunt and uncle's house.

A couple of odd and random coincidences? No baby, that was some sho' nuff divine intervention because in Memphis if your car dies at night and you don't have ready access to a phone, you'd best start praying the worse the thugs decide to do is take your money, jewelry, rims and what have you . . .

So why am I bringing any of this up? And what, if anything, does it have to do with my book deal? Well, recently a series of odd things happened to me with regards to the pending publication of my novel, AFTER THE DANCE and I felt like sharing . . .

But before I do, I'd like to invite any of you who've experienced similarly odd happenings to share a bit of what transpired in your particular situation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I caught an interview with Prince on BETJ last week. At one point, the interviewer told Prince how much he enjoyed the song, "Dirty Mind." He asked if Prince would be performing the song in his up coming tour or any of the other risque material for which he's known.

Prince smiled and asked the interviewer what he thought Prince should do. The guy said, in so many words, "Hey, go for it." Prince said, "Well what should I do about the 14 year old who's sitting in the front row?

The interviewer said, "Well, you never thought about the 14 year old back in the 80's . . ." To which Prince responded, "No, back then, there were no 14 year olds seated in the front row. Besides, I'd like to think that I've grown and I'm more responsible than I was back then . . ."

Responsibility? Wow, what an interesting coincidence. Not only did my last post on "The Death Of Hip Hop" address the topic of artistic and collective responsibility, the post was written in the hours prior to my viewing of the Prince interview.

So what does any of this have to do with the singer Akon? Well, there is that picture of him and the alleged 14 year old girl currently making the internet rounds. You know, the one with him on stage on his back and babygirl sitting atop his thighs? Yeah, even if you haven't seen it, you get the picture, I'm sure.

Anyway, I've heard all of the excuses. How was he supposed to know how old she was? Her little fast tail didn't have any business there in the first place. Did you see how she was dressed? And where were her parents?

Spare me, please. After all is said and done, she's still 14 years old (allegedly) and at age 34 (I believe) Akon is still a grown azz man. Perhaps one good place to start would be not pulling anyone up on stage for the purpose of simulating sex. Since when is strip club behavior appropriate for a concert? I guess around about the time we all decided any and everything goes, huh? I'm pretty sure, at this rate and given the direction things are going, actual sex on stage will be next. And after that, what? Publicly relieving oneself on folks' children? Oh, I'm sorry I guess R. Kelley already did that . . . allegedly (smile).

Prince, His Royal Badness personified, is right. Back in the 80's, I had the pleasure of attending a couple of his concerts and I can personally vouch for what he said about 14 year olds not sitting up front row center of his shows. They weren't. They shouldn't be at Akon's either--not front row center (under the circumstances) and most certainly not up stage straddling his 34 year old thighs. If we were all committed to being responsible, they wouldn't be.

But if we truly want this kind of foolishness to end, we can't just stop at blaming the parents, much less the child. And at age 14, I don't care how she's dressed, she's still a child. It takes a village y'all. So stop co-signing this mess and act like you know.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

CLINTON, LEADERSHIP, ADORATION & BLACK FOLKS (A Few Reflections via Randall Robinson)

Bill Clinton He purchased our affection with gestures . . ."our support should not be so easily obtainable." (Randall Robinson)

Randall Robinson is somone whose work I've been intending to read for years now. I remember watching an interview with him on some cable network, shortly after his book, THE RECKONING: WHAT BLACK FOLKS OWE EACH OTHER (2002) was released. Quite a few of his thoughts and relections made me stop, think and go, "Hmmm."

Recently, while cleaning out a folder, I ran across a scrap of paper on which I'd scribbled a few of the sentiments Robinson had expressed on that particular program. Robinson's comment about Clinton (see above) struck me, not only because it was a view I shared, but also because I hadn't heard any other African American liberal or moderate, worthy of respect, express such. My notes on the Robinson interveiw also included the following two gems:

Leadership "Leaders are assigned for the convenience of people who dominate you."

Adoration "The school teacher we don't respect like we used to--the wealthy bandit, we adore."

Robinson's view on adoration is one that has serious implications, I think, not only in the world of politics, but also, increasingly, in the field of entertainment. But then again, I guess that really should come as no surprise. Historicially and across the board Americans appear to have a warped fascination with outlaws, gangsters and thugs.
From yesteryears' large than life Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde and Al Capone to today's John Gotti, and his fiction-drawn cronies, Tony Montana (Scarface) and Tony Soprano we do seem to love us some ruthless, money-grubbing bad boys and gals. And don't let me forget all of the pimps and drug-dealers, the rouge preachers and politicians and the thieving CEO's who've taken up the mantle and become the real American Idols. Yeah, there's some thug-love out there, for real y'all . . .
But anyway, the following are a couple of other books by Randall Robinson that I hope to read one day and may, perhaps, be of some interest to some of you:

If you've read any of Mr. Robinson's books, feel free to express your opinion (whether good or bad) about what you read in the OSM's comment section. Also if you agree or disagree with his reflections about Clintion, leadership and/or adoration, please don't hesitate to share your views.