Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
"Hi Michele, it's not Jason. My name is RaeLynne."
"Two E's, two N's. My mama's name was Lynne and my daddy's name was-"
I cut her off, "Ray, got it. Who are you exactly?"
She giggled (not a pretty sound), "OMG [yes she said OMG], sorry! I'm Jason's fiancée and he told me I should call you."
Squelching the need to tell her she is fiancée #7 (I was #1), I ventured forward. "Why? Why did he tell you to call me?"
"He said if I wanted to know how to treat him right, I should call you."
I, who write for a living, was at a loss for words.
"Are you still there?"
"Are you okay?"
"Are you seriously calling me with this?" I was tempted to look around for the hidden cameras. Look for me on the next episode of Punk'd (or whatever took its place).
"Well he said-"
I cut her off again, "So here's the thing. You need to be insulted. You need to hang up the phone and give him a piece of your mind."
"But, what would I say?"
"Are you even 20?"
"I just turned 20 last week – how did you know?"
Jason is over 40 years of age. This chick just turned 20. Eww and ick. Swear fore God, I am NOT making this up. Please tell me how a woman (even at 20) could be this dingy? There is no amount of cajolery or bullshiggity that could get me to call my man’s ex to find out what to do with him. The hell you say? But what I said was, “Let me tell you what to say.”
And she said (ready for this?), "Should I write this down?"
No I understand what I'm dealing with. Ignorant ex with more ignorant super-young fiancée. "Yeah, go get a pen. I'll wait." Why did it take her over five minutes to find something to write with. And I can hear him asking questions in the background… idiot.
"Okay, I'm back."
"Oh good, I wouldn't want you to miss out on all this knowledge I'm about to drop." Sarcasm dripped from each syllable.
"Huh?" She missed the sarcasm altogether.
"Never mind. Here goes: Jason, either you take me as I am and quit playing games or I am gone. There is no reason for you to disrespect me or Michele by putting us through this lame-ass ego-stroking exercise. Whatever your reasons are for doing it, I don't care. Please apologize to both of us and decide if I should give back your ring tonight."
She was furiously scribbling. Stopped, read what I said and then spoke, "Oh. You're right. Sorry we bothered you."
"But before you go, one question."
"Okay one," I relented.
"Would you give back the ring?"
"I already did." I explained.
"Oh, yeah – one more?"
"It's kind of personal. Might be too intimate, not even sure how to ask you this." She giggled nervously.
"No ma'am, I don't even want to know. Good luck to the both of you." CLICK.
Two minutes later Jason sends a text. "Sorry. It was a test."
For who? I wondered but I replied, "You failed."
I was typing up this post to share when my phone rang again. It was my other ex-SO calling. We chatted briefly and in the course of the conversation, he said I was "complicated and sophisticated" – still trying to decide if that's a compliment or not. What I do know, it's that time of year again. Between the holidays and Valentine's Day – I call it the Rolodex Quick Check. I picture a fella scrolling though his contact list, thinking aloud: Hmm, wonder if she's still single? Thinking of me? Worth another shot? Good for one night of naked aerobics? Phone call worthy, at least!
Bless you, fellas. Just – bless you all.
BougieLand! Thoughts, comments, similar experiences? What do you think that child was about to ask me?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I'm not going to do in depth analysis of what was said because you can get that on another site. In a nutshell, he stepped up to the podium and said, "I got this. Don't know why ya'll tripping. And by the way Senate, you holding us back. Grow a pair and get to work. Shout out to my fine wife. Any questions? America rocks. Good night ya'll." Here the speech in its entirety:
But here's what I took from the speech:
- His job sucks. Seriously, better him then me. I mean how do you sleep well at night with the weight of the entire free world on your shoulders? He addressed jobs, wars, oil, climate change, don't-ask-don't-tell, equal pay, bi-partisanism, big government, Wall Street and health care all in the same speech. I was exhausted just listening to him.
- He's still the smartest guy in the room. And the most likable. Republicans who didn't even want to acknowledge his presence in the chamber were jumping to their feet and clapping near the end. This guy knows how to give a speech, sell an idea and rally the troops. Now we await (in giddy anticipation) his plans coming to fruition.
- I believe he's doing the best he can with the hand he was dealt. He reminded us of the crap-bag handed to him when he walked in the door. And clearly, I'm biased but I believe he genuinely wants to make things better. Whether he will be allowed to do so with all the partisan bullshiggity getting tossed is another question altogether.
- Michelle Obama is bad. Bad like good. Really, really good. SO far there is nothing about her I don't like. That mulberry dress was slamming. Her initiative to end childhood obesity is a noble cause that everyone can get behind. And yes, I love the fact that he paused in the middle of his speech to shout out the wife. As a friend of mine texted me, "She really classes up the joint."
- I always wish we could have sideline-style commentary. How great would it be to have a roving reporter up and down the aisles with a portable mike, "Tell us, Uptight Republican dude, how does it feel to have your ass handed to you on national TV?"
Favorite quotes of the night:
"We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit."
(about the bank bailout) "I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal."
"Let me repeat… we CUT taxes."
"How long should America put its future on hold?"
"I do not accept second place for the United States of America."
"People expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills."
I never said change would be easy or that I could do it alone."
And the epic ending: "We don't quit… I don't quit. God bless you and God bless America."
A few things that confused me: Why did Nancy Pelosi look like she was wearing her Easter suit? Why didn't Roland Burris get his skating-into-Congress-ass up and clap for the President? Why don't the Republicans EVER have a viable response? And what is wrong with Chris Matthews, perennial jack-ass at MSNBC for saying "he forgot Obama was black." For real though?
Chris Matthews, perennial jack-ass at MSNBC for saying “he forgot Obama was black.” For real though?
For those of you who saw the speech, what did you think? And those that didn't see it but have no doubt heard reports, what did you take from it?
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
As for why I'm not married yet… Let me share with you my favorite paragraph from an email I received Tuesday evening. The subject of the email being: I know what your problem is OneChele. Not knowing I had a problem, I popped open this bit of wisdom and dove in. Six paragraphs in, here's what I was treated to (leaving in the spelling and grammar errors so ya'll can soak up all this good flavor):
See, the problem with girls like you is that all your live people told you you are better than other black ppl. And you bought into that shyt. So no you think you can tell people how to live. I guess you try to be helpful but really you talk down. I have met so many bougey bitches like you that its really no surprise. You can't help yourself for acting like the world revolve around you. You so caught up in being fake and bougey that's why you don't have a man now and can only talk to them on you page. You say bougey but its really snobby and not a good way to live. I'm not tryin to be mean but someone need to get you to check yourself. I hope you find my words to you helpful not like your blog. Any way I won't be back to your blog and you won't here from me again. Good luck.
Uh thanks and wow. Methinks I ticked someone off. Boo-to-the-hoo. From yesterday's post I get that everyone's blog is not for everybody. But if you spent enough time here in BougieLand to get so wound up as to type out a seven paragraph note… you may have missed my premise. As a refresher course, here were my bouge rules:
THE BOUGE RULES (what puts the bouge in bougie)
- Bougie is more than a way of life, it's a state of mind
- Bougie does not equal stuck-up, siddity & pretty... unless it does
- There's nothing wrong with being bougie if your heart is true to the bouge
- If you are true to the bouge, people will hate on you. You won't care, you are too busy being bougie
- You can be born bougie, you can marry into bougie and you can evolve into bougie
- You can be bougie and hood but not at the same time
- You are no longer bougie if you are completely ghetto (fabulous or not)
- You can be broke and bougie but bouge works better with bank
- Bouge brings responsibility. Do not shame your bouge brothers and sisters lest you be kicked up out the bouge circle
- Bouge is old school people, we don't hate... we congratulate.
Please notice my tongue planted firmly in cheek. J If I've said it once, I've said it a million times… bouge is love ya'll. Okay, thoughts? Comments? Is bouge to blame for the hole in the ozone layer as well? Let me know, I'll apologize. Ever get a crazy flame-o-gram email? The floor is yours…
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
... the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. --Jim Beggs
Monday was a day in which I read one too many articles criticizing people (black women) for things that just aren't that critical. Buoyed by the endorphin high following yoga and step aerobics, I typed out this letter. Apologies if it's over the top. Without further ado…
Dear other bloggers,
Hi there! [waves] How are ya'll doing? I just wanted to say hello… and a few other things. Respectfully, I totally get that your blog is personal to you. You probably started it because you love to write and had a few things to say. Good for you. Let me ask you this though… once you developed a bit of a following and you realized that people actually paid attention to what you had to say… did that give you any sense of responsibility? You know, as far as content and tone? Not getting all up in your business… just wondering.
It might just be me. After blogging for a little over six months, I've gotten a feel for a lot of my readers and so I often make a conscientious effort to temper my opinions and declarations in such a way as to not be over the top combative or condescending. Though I could if I wanted to, I chose not to use my words like heat-seeking missiles aimed at making the most visible explosion possible. But I've never been a "look at me, look at me" person. What some people may view as a fun, topical post, others may view as self-serving grab for attention.
People have the capacity to be both incredibly strong and incredibly fragile all at the same time. And for the young females out there… well, I think the sisterhood deserves support, positivity and constructive criticism from their chosen bloggers. Keyword: Constructive.
Because I don't care to further promote some of the off-the-chain posts (and yes there have been more than one) that prompted this letter, I'm going to use an analogy featuring the fruitilicious candy known as Skittles. You with me? Let's just say that I have a lot of readers who love Skittles. Skittles make them feel good about themselves. Maybe there was a Skittles void in their past and they are making up for it now. Maybe Skittles are crazy expensive as opposed to say – organic, natural carrot sticks but who am I to judge someone for loving their rainbow goodies? Being aware of this Skittles-dependency among my readership, would I then write a flaming post about the evils of Skittles? How much I hate Skittles and look down on anybody who enjoys them? Would I spend hours (and I do mean hours) going in across all level of social media about how Skittles are what's wrong with the world today and I would never be caught dead hugged up next to a Skittle-eater?
I can hear my folks in BougieLand now – girl, it's just Skittles. I KNOW but then folks start going IN about how they've never had Skittles because they are too secure about themselves to ever ever eat a Skittle. Organic carrot sticks are the only way to go and anyone who doesn't cosign is a fraud. The Hell? Aw yes, now there is an entire sociology behind Skittles and people have to start taking sides – Skittles vs. Carrot Sticks. To this I say, why? What good did it do to go THAT hard about Skittles KNOWING the tsunami of ill-will and flame throwing that it would kick off? You don't like Skittles, don't eat them.
Okay then, in conclusion fellow bloggers, this is the American Blogosphere. You have the right to say anything you want to. But does that mean you should? And can we not agree that it's not always WHAT you say but HOW you say it? A finishing thought from En Vogue:
Yours in blogging, OneChele
Bougienistas - Let's make a pact… if I ever get preachy – one of ya'll call me on it, okay? I mean just stop me in my tracks and say – Chele, get off your high horse, you're not that crucial. If I ever get so desperate for page hits and readers that I just decide to go tabloid blogger, please feel free to virtually slap the sh!t outta me. Clear? Good. Woo-sah, let me take a breath. Read anything in the blogosphere that got your blood boiling lately?
Monday, January 25, 2010
Somehow, somewhere along the way, I find myself handing out relationship advice. While I find it amusing to be in this role, I must agree that I have been in the game long enough to offer up a few tidbits of wisdom. So yes, I know the title of this post is a little crazy but I wanted chit and chat at you about a serious epidemic sweeping the nation. Folks who think being b*tchy and rude is a way of life. So much so that they impose their negativity on the rest of us.
I know Southern Hospitality and The Golden Rule are become antiquated reminders of times gone by but wow… is it just me or are folks a lot more rude than they used to be? I understand people today have no afterschool specials or School House Rock or upstanding moral role models on television or film. I get that. If you are learning your dating behavior from tabloid TV and music videos, I guess I shouldn't expect any better. But by the time your parents are no longer driving you to school and back, shouldn't you have learned some common courtesy?
Dating is just that much harder when people are walking around salty, sour and discourteous to begin with. I can't see how stepping into the dating game with a scowl up on your face helps your cause. A couple of quick stories to illustrate my point:
Confession: I went through an extremely b*tchy phase. Back in my mid-20s after my boyfriend called to tell me that instead of coming to visit for Thanksgiving, he was marrying someone else. Um-hmm, happy holidays to me. So yeah, I was bitter and tart and more likely to snap a man's head off for just saying hello. Shocking – I did not date much for a minute. Seems that the mean mug coupled with the 'back-the-eff-up-off-me' vibe that was radiating off me in thick heated waves was a bit of a barrier. I spent about two months straight in sweats and a ponytail. Yup, I was bringing the sexy from inside out.
One day, while standing in the grocery store eating ice cream in the freezer aisle (no, I didn't want to wait to get home) a brother rolled up and started talking. Just chatting away. What flavor was the ice cream, how was my day, did I always wear my hair up, could he call me sometime? Huh? I literally had to beat back my inner b*tch and decide whether it was more important to hold onto my anger or get to know the piece of chocolate goodness standing in front of me. I chose the chocolate.
Next BougieTale: There was a gentleman I was trying to date and I couldn't figure out where the relationship kept stalling. We seemed to get along but something was just slightly off. Turned out, he was testing me on everything. How many times could he make snipey comments before I called him out? How much would I let him get away with? How many times could he make a suggestion sound more like a command before I caught on? Answer to all those questions: not so very many. I believe the last straw came when we were sitting on the couch watching football. I was eating some pretzels when he reached over, took the bag and said, "No more snacks." My mouth fell open, "Beg pardon?" He said, "I don't want you to have to go to a Belly-Buster boot camp because you got too big."
I called bullshiggity and asked what his general problem was. He said his ex-girlfriend had been a control freak and he was determined not to get caught in that situation again. Ooo-kay, what does that have to do with me? He said he wanted to set boundaries early. I told him his need to be in control of every (single) thing made him come off like a total jerk. He said, "If you don't like it, you can walk." Deuces, dude… I left skidmarks on the way out of that one. (And of course you know that just infuriated him and he wanted to chase harder – brother wanted to control the break-up too). His inner jerk cost him any chance with me. And we all know what a terrible loss that is J.
All of this to say, we've all been through some tough times and none of us walks around in a state of euphoric bliss 24/7 but foisting that on someone else just won't take you very far in Relationship Roulette. Alright Bougienistas – comments, thoughts? Any b*tchy, jerky tales to share?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
After Movie Week and Music Week, I realized that we are all super nostalgic for the "Black Renaissance" of the 90s. This week on Blog Talk Radio, the Freedom through Speech show wonders, what happened to all of our movies, tv shows, and innovative music? Who is this generation's Whitley Gilbert? Did reality TV kill the black sitcom? Did all the Boyz make it out The Hood? Where in world is John Singleton?! Who's on deck as this decade's D'Angelo or Lauryn Hill? Join us (one hour later after football) while we go back to the nineties and try to figure out what's good for the 2010's.
See you there! 9:00pm est tonight on Blog Talk Radio.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Thanks to the 30 of you who have purchased the "Help Haiti Now – Bougie Gives Back" T-shirts. I'd love to get that number closer to 50. If you can, snap one up. Not feeling the T-shirt? Well, let's see what else we've got… Have you bought my book yet? No? Well, you can get an autographed copy directly from me for the next 10 days and I will donate half (yes, half) of the sale to Yele Haiti. Come on now, who could pass that up? J Click the Buy Now button below to order.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Now for the rest of us. I did not write yesterday's post with the intent of telling people to settle. I don't believe in the concept. If you all knew me and how completely over the top sensitive I get when anyone even whispers the word "settle" in my direction, you would know this to be true. As irked as I get with trophy dating, I get just as irked at folks who just decide they are done with the whole shebang, look at the person closest to them at say, "You'll do." Who is that fair to? No, I'm not talking about people that have been together a long time and decide to take the next step. I'm talking about people who have just given up. Let's take a look at what settling really means…
Settle – Pronunciation: \ˈse-təl\
1 : to come to rest
2 a : to sink gradually or to the bottom b : to become clear by the deposit of sediment or scum c : to become compact by sinking
3 a : to become fixed, resolved, or established b : to establish a residence or colony—often used with down
4 a : to become quiet or orderly b : to take up an ordered or stable life —often used with down
Um, none of that sounds sexy. A friend of mine in the Bay Area declared about three years ago that 2007 was the year she was going to get married, no matter what. We giggled at her (since she wasn't even seeing anyone at the time) and said, "Good luck with that." Nine months later she called from Vegas – a newlywed. Last week her divorce papers were final. Why? She settled. She is a person who spent her entire life chasing degrees and accomplishments and the next rung on the ladder. Her vacations were ten-day guided luxury excursions to places like the Bourdeaux region of France and Marrakesh. She married a guy who was happy parking cars at a downtown hotel (which he had been doing for 15 years) and whose idea of a vacation was fishing at his grandfather's property in a rural area of California. Now nothing is wrong with him and nothing is wrong with her but together nothing about them fit. I mean nothing. They didn't agree on sex, religion, child-rearing, finances or basic value systems. They agreed that she wanted to get married and he'd "give it a try." Ah yes, she proposed to him and his answer was, "I'll give it a try." PEOPLE! That is settling. And who did it help? When she asked me why I didn't stop her… I was a little bit offended.
Equally offensive is the oft-abused term, "Stay in your lane." That's right up there with "out of your league." This term is meant to discourage those considered one or two star personnel from approaching those considered five star players. I call bullshiggity. The thought that the quirky nerdy girl shouldn't shoot for the jock or that the pimply overweight dude shouldn't holla at the cheerleader is just a little too "Breakfast Club" for me. It realIy isn't all about the looks. Sometimes two people you would never imagine together just click and it works. I highly encourage dating and marrying outside your norm. Someone wrote an entire book on how to "marry up."
Flirt without fear folks. It's a few minutes out of your life. Take a shot of Patron, put your game face on and go in. All they can say is boo, go away or no. And no only stings for a minute or two. What is that saying? You'll never win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket.
Another girlfriend of mine, single mom, never married, a little out of shape was telling me how lonely she is. I asked her why she didn't get back out there. She said the guys she was interested in weren't interested in her and she just didn't want to face the rejection. I asked her if she had tried to approach one and she said no… thought they were out of her league. My head exploded. (okay, not really) I introduced her to the wonders of stretch denim and stack-heeled boots, got her hair whipped up and erased the "I'm tired and don't give a damn" look from her face and trotted her out to meet some friends. She got an invitation for coffee. Now there was no happily ever after (so far), they went out twice and decided to be friends but it gave her the boost she needed to get up and go for it. (cue the Rocky music) At the very least, she started taking pride in her appearance again and started spending less time with her behind glued to the sofa.
To make a long post short, I just want people to be happy. Happily ever after kind of happy. Word on the yard is that a great relationship will do that for you. Staying in your lane and settling nets you nada. Who's to say that your lane won't change? Believe me, there is always someone who wasn't checking for you at one time who will take a second look and try to holla. (Usually the minute you start shining or find somebody else).
I can hear you all now - wait a minute, Chele... are you saying that the crackhead chick should roll up on CEO dude? Okay, I said get out of your lane not alter your universe. But if crackhead chick gets herself together and sees CEO dude chilling, why not say hi? That's all I'm saying.
Alright, let me have it… what are your thoughts on settling? Do you think people should stay in their lane? Who gets to decide the lanes anyway? Thoughts? Comments?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Sitting in Starbuck's the other day, I overheard a group of guys talking. Apparently, over the weekend one of the fellas had brought his new girlfriend to a party for all his peeps to meet. From the tone of the conversation, apparently she was a dime and a nickel all rolled into one. He was congratulated heartily by all for "pulling that" and asked how the relationship was going.
He replied, "Oh, it's great. I'm going to act right with this one, I mean – did you see her?" I choked on my coffee and they all looked over.
I averted my eyes (while rolling them) and the one guy said, "What? I know you have an opinion." I shrugged and he pressed, "Come on, let me have it."
I raised my brows and said, "You're going to act right with this one because she's hot?"
He had the good sense to turn a little red, "Well it sounds bad when you say it like that."
"Like you haven't been fully committed in relationships before because the woman wasn't hot enough?"
His friend piped in, "Well you don't want to lose the really hot ones!"
I nodded, "Ya'll are 23, 24?"
"How did you know?"
I just smiled and kept sipping, "Good luck with the hot girl."
Youth! I thought and went about my day. But more recently, I was perusing a girlfriend of mine's Facebook page. And became annoyed. Her page was all about her new man. Starting with the announcement, "Have ya'll seen my new man?!" This was linked to picture after picture of the new dude along with his entire resume… look he's employed, look at him in front of his car, look at us on vacation, look he has a house. Sarcastically, I sent her a note: "But how are YOU?" She replied, "Good, have you seen my new man?!" Le Sigh. People, she's 36 – she knows better.
And then another friend of mine, an older male in his mid-forties who divorced his wife of 15 years about nine months ago. He is a vice-president at a Fortune 100 company, triple-degreed, and handsome. He just introduced me to his new girlfriend. Wow. I'm not mad that she's 25. Good for him. I'm not even mad that she's a size two with cosmetically enhanced cleavage. Channel your inner Barbie, boo-boo. I'm only slightly irked at her complete lack of melanin. But what REALLY gets me? This chick is dumb as a box of rocks. He asked me if I was still being split in too many directions and this heffa asked me if I made porn. [Read that again, that sh!t really happened] When I corrected her and gave him the laser beam side-eye; he said, "She's really sweet. I don't need a Michelle Obama. I want a Rihanna. I want someone 100% dedicated to me who just wants to look good on my arm. Does that make me shallow?" I threw up a little bit in my mouth and replied that yes, it surely did.
These instances got me to thinking, how many people are treating their relationships like trophies? Like the next acquisition on a checklist: Job ü Car ü House ü Hot Person on arm ü. Yes, yes – I know you cannot look across a room and be impressed by a person's brain or heart so I recognize where the physical comes into it. But really, at some point are people not realizing that money can go, boobs can sag and hairlines recede? Or when those things happen are we just onto the next? Are relationships the new throwaway accessory? (Get one, use it up, get another? Like Kleenex?)
Maybe (just maybe) this is part of the problem with the general state of relationships today. Are people more worried about who they love rather than how they love? Now before you think I'm all up on a high horse, let me admit to being guilty of this myself. I have definitely overlooked the heart of somebody because I was wrapped up in the packaging and/or the resume. I've definitely worried more about whether someone was GOP and GIB rather than JGP. (Translation: Good on Paper and Good in Bed rather than Just Good People) But I'm working on it. And really, I need to be a better lover (no, NOT like that – mind out of the gutter)… I need to work on (and yes, I read this somewhere) giving out the love I want to get the love I need back in. I've also been known to cut and run at the first sign of bullshiggity. Cause there's always at least one more relationship in the box, right?
A twitter pal of mine, Paul Brunson, is a matchmaker and life coach in the Washington DC area. He has a site called onedegreefrom.me and has a theory about getting the good love. He calls it investing rather than shopping. Here are some of the tips he has to share:
So what do you think? Are people more concerned with the superficial and giving less of a damn about what lies beneath? Comments, thoughts on Paul's video? Could you be happy with nothing more than a shiny trophy on your arm?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I've noticed an irritating communication trend lately. It's happening across mainstream media, the blogosphere, social media and all out in public. And I must say, I don't care for it at all. Time was when you wanted to hear an opinion; you asked it of the smartest person in the room. Now everybody has a freaking microphone and he (or she) who screams loudest gets heard. It seems that the majority of the American public is accepting volume over value. And sometimes it's hard to hear yourself think with all the noise. I also find I have to unplug from Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere a lot more often.
All of a sudden, everybody is a political theorist, a sociologist, judge, jury and executioner. Sometimes, I just want to talk about how cute my boots are and what kind of wine helped to smooth out my mood. And yet, I find myself assailed and assaulted by all these loud (often angry, often ignorant) voices. In fact I would argue that nowadays the louder the voice, the less intelligent the speaker. What's stunning to me is that more these people scream, the more people stop and look and the greater their false sense of self grows. It's a vicious circle. Folks, I don't rubberneck at car wrecks on the side of the road, I keep driving. Focused on arriving at my destination sanely and safely.
I'm choosing to take the time to look beyond the screaming and get to what makes sense for me. Here are some examples:
Music – there's a whole lot of crap out there. I mean a lot. Not sure what flavor of deep-fried idiot is sitting up in Manhattan and LA offices dictating the music that blares from radio and television. I really don't need to hear whoever the latest no-talent-pop-princess is (who the heck is Ke$ha? I mean, seriously?!). I would be tempted to give up on new music altogether if wasn't for hidden gems like this giving me life from Eric Roberson and Lalah Hathaway:
Television – surely you have heard me rant about reality television enough that I don't need to go in any further. What's worse is that the "original programming" sucks for air as well. Network television (with the exception of one or two shows) has gone to hell in a handbasket. Seriously, are we back to the 50s? In the 90s we had a slew of programming featuring African American casts and telling stories of life outside the mainstream (read Caucasian) experience. Now, I have to be happy if there is one face of color in a cast. But there are some wins on cable, specifically Southland on TNT:
News and Politics – I quite frankly don't want to hear one more word about what a crappy job people think Obama is doing or how let down they feel. That's their opinion and they are welcome to it. But what is their bitching doing to help? Yes, Martha Coakley lost the Kennedy seat in Massachusetts and guess what… the world continues to spin on its axis (though I'm positive Teddy is spinning in his grave right about now). It's a blow but not a harbinger of an eminent apocalyptic disaster in America. Get some perspective people, folks are dying in Haiti. Hell, they're dying here!
And speaking of Haiti, boo and hiss to the folks talking about all the so-called "wild looters" running wild in the streets of Port-au-Prince. According to actual feet on the street, there a few folks out there cutting up out of sheer desperation but most of the Haitian citizens are well-behaved and thankful for any aid that can come their way. And don't get me started on the deliberate smear campaign directed at Wyclef and his Yele organization. Turns out the loudest people are the meanest ones too. To counterbalance, let me share this great story of Jeanette: A Haitian woman rescued after six days because neither she nor her husband would give up:
Public – So I'm at the gas station the other day minding my own damn business when the pump starts acting all crazy. I mean it won't let me pump more than a few drops at a time without cutting out. So I go inside and ask Habib to come check out it. Hold up… I'm not being racist, his name tag actually said, "Habib." Habib comes out, cheesing and striking up a conversation about Kanye West (since I'm black I gotta talk about Ye, right? Le sigh!) and whether I think his music has gotten too electronic when JimBob pulls up in a big old Ford pickup. Okay, now I'm being a little racist, I don't know if the boy's name was JimBob – he looked like a JimBob to me. (I'll go back to diversity sensitivity training this summer). Anyway, JimBob had drama with his pump as well and turned around in a circle before loudly declaring, "She broke the pump system and now we all have to wait."
No one said anything to him and Habib fiddled with the pump while still getting his chat on. So then JimBob said, "If she would stop flirting with Akmed, maybe we could get outta here." Brother across the way said, "Dude, chill out! She wasn't doing anything." JimBob whirled on him and said, "Who the f*** are you telling to chill out?" Sensing some bullshiggitty about to pop off, two of Habib's more beefy coworkers came out and asked, "Is there a problem out here?" JimBob started going in on them, not noticing that the pumps were fixed and the rest of us were filling up and moving on. That's a whole lotta drama for a Shell station on a Wednesday night. And his loud ass held all of us temporarily hostage while we figured out whether he was about to go all disenfranchised psycho-killer. I ask you, is it really that crucial?
So go ahead angry, loud people… get your best scream going. I'll have my music on, my head down and my keys at the ready. I will unplug, change a channel or disconnect before I allow crappy music, half-done TV or fruitless commentary to take over. Carry on. Thoughts, comments, music or TV you are proud to share with the group?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I will start simply by saying I loved this movie. I went knowing little more than Denzel starred and Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society and Dead Presidents) directed. The opening sequence was confusing and a little disturbing, in fact you are quite a few minutes in before Denzel speaks and a few more before you understand what's really going… you know that something really, really bad has happened to Planet Earth. A brief synopsis:
Eli (also known as Walker) is a man on a mission in post-apocalyptic America. A catastrophic war has happened that turned Earth into a scorched wasteland with few natural resources (water is scarce) and a sun with little filter. Lawlessness abounds and it is an "every man for himself" world. Gangs of marauding, ill-groomed hoodlums roam the land raping, plundering and pillaging. Eli won't start a fight but he'll end it with the quickness. When challenged, he attempts peaceful solutions but ultimately has to go ninja on these fools. Eli is walking west (and has been for 30 years) to complete his mission of carrying a book to its final destination. The book is so powerful that a super evil dude (played by Gary Oldman) wants it and has been hunting for it by sending out the aforementioned hoodlums. The book is the last hope for humanity to begin again and rebuild civilization. Along the way, Eli picks up a young girl who becomes surprisingly resourceful and helpful.
Kudos to the marketing folks for not giving away the integral point of the plot (I did not either). The movie though a little violent, is a far deeper warning to society than I expected. And they are smart enough to include a twist at the end that has you rethinking the entire plot from start to finish. They are calling this an action/drama but I will tell you it's really a post-modern Western. There is a definite white hat/black hat vibe, greater good message. There is even a "cleaning up the town" scene, dust blowing up, a damsel in distress and a bar fight… it's a classic western with a smart twist.
The cinematography was stunning. There are moments where you have to pull yourself out of the beauty of the picture to remember what's happening in scene. If I had any beef with the film it's that there are apparently no sister girls that survived the war unless we're counting Jennifer Beals. Seriously, did the sisters just not want to live in a world without hair products and chap stick? O__o Anyway… you had to suspend a little disbelief at the ending too but that was to be expected.
Scruffy Denzel looks GOOD in this movie. There's this one scene with him and a wet wipe that… well – I would pay good money to go where that wipe has been. Hotness. Moving on… I was surprised by the message of the movie. I was expecting a shoot 'em up film (and would have been happy with that) but this is actually a societal lesson and a look at spirituality done with just a light enough touch and topical context to work. Long story short – go see it. Okay yes, I say that about all of Denzel's movies but… I really, really mean it this time.
Four and a half purple boots out of five. Enjoy! Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?
Monday, January 18, 2010
Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
For many, the ascension of Barack Obama was the realization of Martin Luther King, Jr's dream. In fact, many attempted to tell us that the very act of Barack Obama being elected President proved that racism no longer existed in America. That the so-called "race card" could no longer be played. As if by his inauguration alone, all of the inequalities and injustices rooted in racial divisions were magically erased. We can quickly call bullshiggity on that and address the bigger issue. Dr. King had a vision that went beyond the superficial and plumbed the depths of the very foundation that America was built on.
I implore every American, of all colors, to understand what Martin Luther King Jr was about the substance beyond the sound bites. He truly believed that fairness and equality for all races across all nations was possible and within the grasp of the coming generations. Yet he did not believe it could be done by words alone. His message was a call to action for continuous improvement.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent. ~MLK
Changing your twitter pic to a black fist rising or announcing to the world that a change is coming does nothing to actually effect change. For an interesting take on what MLK would say in the age of Twitter, check out this article by Baratunde Thurston.
I recall briefly dating a fellow we'll call Nathan right around the time of the presidential primaries. Nathan was a self-proclaimed Black Conservative Republican. What initially attracted me to him was his ability to speak on any topic eloquently. We agreed on nothing politically yet I found his intelligence compelling. Right until it became apparent to me (quickly) that he was full of hot air and little else. He talked a good game but when time came to back up his so-called beliefs with meaningful action, he fell quite short. King was flawed because of his indiscretions, he said. Obama was suspect because he smoked but he was backing him because he felt betrayed by Bush. I listened in disbelief and said, "Well what are you going to do?" After much cajoling, he finally signed up to be a precinct caption for Obama's campaign. He worked two events and nothing after. To my knowledge, he's done nary a thing since to promote the agenda he eloquently professed to believe in.
Nathan believed he was successful because of his own hard work only. He did not believe that all the footsteps tread by generations past had anything to his current success. He believed he personally owed no debt to Malcolm X or MLK because he would have risen to the top anyway. I began to give up on him short thereafter. I absolutely cannot abide successful black folks who truly believe that there is no more need to protest, speak out, take action. Folks who have "arrived" and don't recognize that there are others you left behind who need a hand up. That whole "I got mine, you gotta get your own" mentality falls extremely flat with me.
So on this day of remembrance and service, I ask that you really take a moment to figure out what you can do to improve the community. Mentor someone at work, mop of floor, feed a child, give some clothes away… Do something more than just dream. In the meantime, here was President Obama's speech (in two parts) at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in D.C. Sunday morning:
Go Chele, it's your birthday. We're going to party like it's your birthday.
Hey all, before I make this day all about me, me, me – check out my Call to Service post from Friday. Get out there and give back. Okay then… moving on.
So back to me, today is the anniversary of my late night arrival into the world, fists balled up, kicking and screaming. (I no longer kick and scream in public but much else remains the same). So far folks have sent me books (love 'em), gift certificate (always classy) and cash (gift that keeps on giving). My ex sent me some chocolate suede boots that feel like butter. I saw no strings attached. I went to BougieMom and asked if I should keep them or send them back. BougieMom said, "He was dumb enough to send them, you're smart enough to keep them." Done. I guilted Sprint into upgrading my BlackBerry into the new purple Curve for free (SCORE!) and BougieOlderSis scooped me up some leather goods while she was in China.
But the best gift was from BougieYoungerBro who found photo albums that have been missing for years. It really was like being giving my childhood back. I got unreasonably sentimental looking back (wayback) at life in BougieHousehold. Really, before he found these, we thought all of our baby pics were lost forever. In addition to the gems above , I found this revelation:
BougieMom and Dad with former Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller. BougieDad had political aspirations at one time and was a registered Republican until they ticked him off in the late 60s and he switched affiliations. But sometimes we need a reminder of just how fly our parents were before we came along and beat them down with our foolishness J. BougieDad was G'ed up and BougieMom's hair was laid, wasn't it?
At any rate, later on, I'm heading out to see Book of Eli… expect a Bougie Movie Review to follow. Have a great day! Seen any childhood pictures of yourself recently? What did you learn?
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Wrapping up Movie Week. It's all love for all cultures here in BougieLand but let's face it… there are some movies that black folks love. (Love, love, love) Not saying other folks don't love these movies too but these are movies we take real, real personally. Randomly, top 10 movies considered "Chocolate Classics":
The Color Purple: Sure we gave a side-eye to Steven Spielberg for producing but we forgave him after viewing the finished product. Oprah, Danny, Whoopi shine in this timeless tale of redemption and overcoming against all odds.
A Raisin in the Sun: Ya’ll KNOW I mean the original version and not that hot steaming mess Diddy was in. Sidney and the always-excellent Ruby Dee hold this one down.
Amistad: “GIVE US FREE!” Djimon Hounsou, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins. Another Spielberg effort (very watered down) drama-filled story of slaves battling for justice in 1840s America.
Malcolm X: C’mon now, it’s Malcolm, it’s Denzel, it’s the man and the movement with Angela Bassett and Delroy Lindo as part of the stellar cast. A brilliant biopic that took us from Malcolm Little, to Red, to Malcolm X.
Claudine: Every damn thing Diahann Carroll ever did in front of the camera was classy. This tale with James Earl Jones involves a single mom, welfare and a whole lotta drama. But we love it anyway.
Shaft : (the original with Richard Roundtree, ya’ll) Pause for two seconds right here and the theme will start playing in your head. Yeah it was a “womanizing P.I. sticking it to The Man and everybody else” plot we’d seen before but Shaft remains the epitome of cool. Personally, I think when Obama comes out to do press conferences he should put on a leather trench and bounce out with this theme laying in the background.
Glory: This is one of those movies that made you go into work with your fist balled up the whole month after you saw it. Earned Denzel his first Oscar and Matthew Broderick a convincing role beyond Ferris Bueller.
Do the Right Thing: Still waiting on folks to act right. At any rate, it’s hot in Bed-Stuy and more than the pizza sauce boils over in this slice of racial tension. Rosie Perez whining to Mookie is stuck in our collective conscious forever. Fight the Power!
Carmen Jones: Even if we couldn’t get with the operatic soundtrack, we get Carmen and that man of hers. The beautiful Dorothy Dandridge stars with Harry Belafonte in the first “big budget” all-Black Hollywood movie.
Coming to America: Eddie as royalty, Arsenio as sidekick (predictably) and James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer still stands the test of time. You know when you quote something 20 years later and people still laugh that it’s a classic. “Sexual Chocolate!” *drops mic*
Honorable mention to TV Movies/Miniseries: The Autobiography of Ms. Jane Pittman & Roots – the first starred Cicely Tyson, our answer to Meryl Streep; the second was an all-star cast in a story surrounding the life of Kunta Kinte and slavery in America. His name is Toby, ya'll.
Another Honorable Mention to: The Lion King – I don't care how close to the surface you carry your inner thug, no one could hate on Lion King. "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Lion sleeps tonight…" Sing it with me, you KNOW you know those words. Dammit, am I tearing up NOW thinking about Mufasa's death scene? A literal coming-of-age story of little Simba, they placed The Lion King in Africa so we claimed it. Yeah we did.
Okay BougieLand, whatcha got? Favorite "Chocolate Classic"? Least favorite? The floor is yours.
President Obama keeps his two predecessors waiting for 30 minutes and has MJ's "They don't care about us" on repeat playing for them. Suddenly, the music gets a little louder and Jay-Z's "I'm a hustler, baby" pipes in through the speakers. Obama strolls in the side door with his sunglasses on. Makes a throat cut gesture to Rahm and the music cuts off. He takes off his glasses and tucks them in his breast pocket.He nods to the two ex-Presidents, "Welcome back, b*tches. Come on in and have a seat."Bush and Clinton exhange glances and follow him.As they settle into the Oval Office, Obama looks at Diamond Bill, "Can I get you some coffee?"Bill turns red, "Now Barack, you know that was taken out of context. Ask Hillary!"Barack just gives him the steely-eyed glare before turning his attention to G. Shrub, "Can we get you a tall glass of haterade?"Bush laughs nervously, slapping his thigh, "That's a good one, Barry. You got me.""Anyway," Prez 44 continues, "since you two made such a God-awful mess of your disaster-relief and crisis-handling... I got this Haiti thing. But I'm giving you a chance to get right and do something besides flap your lips about me. You in or you out?"Clinton starts, "Don't throw Rwanda in my face, I apologized-""Whatever," Obama cuts him off.Bush starts to open his mouth and Obama says, "Four words for you: Katrina. Brownie. Heckuva Job." Bush starts sweating."In or out, gentlemen? I have the economy you two tanked to work on today. I don't spend my days on speaking tours and playing golf. What's it gonna be?""We're in." They chorus."Good. Let's rock this press conference. Group fist bump." He holds his fists out the either side, "Come on, dap me up!" They reluctantly bump.Clinton heads for the door, "Let me get that for you, Mr. President."Barack nods, "Better recognize." As they head down the walk (see pic above) he says under his breath to Bush, "George, try not to embarrass us out there."
And the PSA (try not to giggle at Clinton's expression while G-dub is talking):
Friday, January 15, 2010
It's my favorite weekend of the year, ya'll. January 15th always brings a myriad of feelings for me. The 15th was my father's birthday, and yes – he loved the fact that he shared this day with Dr. King. He used to say that January 15th was a birthday for those destined for greatness. None of us dared side-eye him when he compared himself to a Civil Rights martyr. Hey, BougieDad was a hero to us. The next January 15 birthday belongs to my nephew who we have nicknamed Cisco. Just take one look at this face and tell me he isn't destined for greatness (or great mischief)? (or to slay females coast to coast – little playa already has two girlfriends – blonde twins… need we say more?)
Monday is my birthday. I only count the 5s and the 10s so just don’t worry about how old I am. My answer is old enough to know how, just wise enough to know better and young enough to still do it anyway. J My birthday usually falls on or around the “observed” MLK holiday and it’s always around NFL playoffs. It’s just far enough away from Christmas that I can guilt people into buying me another gift. As I said, it’s my favorite weekend of the year.
On a serious note, MLK Day has become so much more than a day to play speeches and “remember when”, the holiday is a National Day of Service where people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities are encouraged to serve on King Day, and to make the day the beginning of an ongoing commitment to a cause that is meaningful to them and serves a need in their community. For ideas of where and how to serve, check out serve.gov. And just because this gives me goose bumps every time – a classic MLK clip:
Somewhere in the middle of the long weekend, serving the community, wishing me happy birthday, helping Haiti and watching football, raise up a toast in simple gratitude that you are still alive and free. I'll be wrapping up Movie Week tomorrow, Sunday night I'll be on BlogTalk Radio with guests AverageBro and Thembi. And yes, I have a special post already written for my birthday. Enjoy your weekend, be safe and well.
Michele's Fruitini recipe – drink at your own risk
2 shots flavored ice tea (I use Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey)
2 shots sprite or club soda or ginger ale (if you just want to kick it up a notch use a sweet champagne or sparkling moscato)
1 shot pear vodka
1 shot sour apple flavor schnapps
1 shot orange rum
1 shot peach schnapps
1 cup of crushed ice
Combine, shake with ice, serve and sip… slowly. Please drink responsibly! To up the fruitiness swap the tea for your favorite juice.