Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On A Silent Sea

So, loving yet another singer/songwriter. This time, it's KT Tunstall. Her big hit now is Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, but I'm digging Silent Sea. I was minding my business in my local Starbucks (I know, I know...) when I hear:

I was happy in my harbour
When you cut me loose
Floating on an ocean
And confused
Winds are whipping waves up
Like sky scrapers
And the harder they hit me
The less I seem to bruise

Oh when I
Find the controls
I'll go where I like
I'll know where I want to be
But maybe for now
I'll stay right here
On a silent sea

I dutifully asked my barista, "Who is that?" and went home and downloaded her on iTunes. Thirty-six plays so far.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A King's Treasure At Sotheby's

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of viewing the extensive Martin Luther King Jr. Collection at Sotheby's in Manhattan. It was scheduled to be auctioned this Friday, but I was more than thrilled to see that the auction is now off and the collection will instead be housed at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Halle-lu-yer! Praise Him!

The exhibition will continue until Thursday, June 29, so I'm going to go again and take a good look at some of the stuff that I missed or had to skim over. I was there for over two hours and it still wasn't enough time!

The stars of the show were the original draft of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream Speech," his "Letter From A Birmingham Jail," and his Nobel Peace Prize lecture and acceptance speeches for both the Oslo, Norway ceremony and the historic integrated dinner in Atlanta that followed. The Nobel speeches were drafted longhand on lined yellow paper and typed by his secretaries. Sometimes, he'd scribble a brief note to the secretary typing his work. For instance, in response to a letter from a black man wrongfully jailed after a protest in Florida he wrote, "Dora, do we have $350 to get this man out of jail?"

The room dedicated to Dr. King's personal library was incredible. Along with books on religion, civil rights and his own books in various languages, he had more than 50 books and pamphlets by and about Mahatma Gandhi. His collection also included a first edition of My Bondage and My Freedom, the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, and inscribed books from President Lyndon B. Johnson, William Stringfellow and several other notables. There was a signed copy of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun by her husband Bob Nemiroff who wrote that he was a "poor substitute" to sign the book, but that Lorraine would have been so pleased to know that Dr. King read and liked her work. Langston Hughes also signed a copy of his 1963 "song play," Jerico-Jim Crow-Jerico - in green ink.

I was also intrigued by Dr. King's letter to Adam Clayton Powell in Bimini telling him that it was a "must" that he return to the United States. In the letter, Dr. King detailed the plan he devised with several lawyers, including Bill Kunstler, to get Rev. Powell back to Harlem with a technical arrest - and minimal press. He also offered to accompany Powell from the airport to Harlem.

There were many other fascinating items:

An invitation to the inauguration for President John F. Kennedy - and an invitation from Robert Kennedy to attend the president's funeral. There was also a 114-page treatise sent to President Kennedy in May 1962 by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "An Appeal to the Honorable John F. Kennedy, President of the United States. For National Rededication to the Principles of the Emancipation Proclamation and for an Executive Order Prohibiting Segregation in the United States of America."

Speaking of great men, in the early 1960s, Dr. King wrote a list on notepaper of his choices for the "10 Greatest Men of Century." He wrote the names of eleven men: W. Churchill, F. Roosevelt, J. Kennedy, E. Roosevelt, M. Gandhi, J. Salk, A. Einstein, A. Schweitzer, H. Truman, M. Luther King (his father) and Dag Hammarskjold.

I got a kick out a letter from the prestigious Lovett School in Atlanta rejecting Martin Luther King III's application as a "test" case. The fabulous Mrs. King responded with temperance - and fire: "The sole purpose in making application to the Lovett School for our son, Martin III, was a sincere attempt to secure for him the best possible education. This was not meant to be any sort of test case, though we desire for our son the experience of integrated schooling." She concluded by saying, "We are disappointed that the application has been rejected. It only proves again that the Christian church is often an active particpant in perpetuating segregation, serving only as a tail light instead of a head light."

I also enjoyed reading several invaluable Western Union telegrams. One was from Dr. King to "Mrs. Malcolm X," Dr. Betty Shabazz of course, giving his condolences on the death of Malcolm X. In another telegram, he congratulated Thurgood Marshall on his appointment to the Supreme Court, telling him, "You are eminently qualified and superbly equipped to serve as a Justice of the highest court of our land." Earlier, Dr. King had telegrammed President Kennedy urging him to consider Marshall for the appointment. In a 1957 telegram, he urged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to "take a forthright stand in the Little Rock situation" and in August 1965, he received a telegram from the special assistant to President Johnson, inviting him to the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

There were also index cards and Blue Books from his time at Morehouse and at graduate school. They even had two of Dr. King's suitcases with his shaving cream (Magic), cologne, razor and several magazines and sermon notes.

I'm going back on Wednesday or Thursday to get another good look. If you're in NYC this week, I encourage you to do the same. You will not be disappointed!

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Do My Knees Look Fat?

I know I said I would be working up a black sweat, but I've been slacking lately. I finally dragged myself onto my treadmill at 11:30 last night, which is technically only two and a half hours ago, because I was determined not to let the day end without me getting some kind of exercise. I've been over at 55 having fun, and working on my book (I'm going to tell you more about that soon - very soon), but I've also been doing a lot of shameless, useless web surfing lately which means I've been spending a lot of time on my behind.

During my shameless, useless surfing, I came across this article about micro liposuction. Apparently, perfectly healthy, slim people are getting surgery to remove an ounce or so of fat from their ankles, knees, chins, necks and back.

Now I can see if you've got some serious back fat going on, but your knees? Your ankles? Come on now! Are you really willing to risk complications or even death over fat ankles?

Complete hilarity to me!

After all, I've got "big" legs. This was once a compliment to a black woman back in the day. How many times have you heard one of your old uncles say, "Yeah, she got some big pretty legs!" Today, that woman is considered fat. Heck, Marilyn Monroe would be considered huge today. Even as I slim down, I always hear about my big legs (second only to my butt) so the idea of fat knees is completely insane to me. As big as my legs are, my knees sure aren't fat! I don't have a fat neck or chin either. Ankles? Please! I don't want to ever be that obsessed.

But I still need to step up my workout.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Some Things That Have Caught My Eye

Perhaps he was inspired by the intrepid Karyn, but Dustin Diamond, the actor who played "Screech" on Saved by the Bell, is not taking the impending foreclosure on his house in Milwaukee laying down. Apparently being a stand-up comedian isn't paying the bills for him, so he's selling autographed t-shirts with his likeness in order to raise about $250,000 to stop the foreclosure. On the front of the T-shirt, he's holding a sign that says, "Save My House" and on the back, it says "I paid $15.00 to save Screeech's house." He added the third "e" to avoid tangling with NBC's lawyers. Do your thing Screech!

I see this all the time. I think it's hilarious that there is an article about it. Where has the New York Times been for the last, oh I don't know, 15 or 20 years? This is not a new phenomenon. But it is funny...

Britney Spears made a less than stellar impression in her Dateline interview last week with Matt Lauer. Not that I really care about that - I just wanted an excuse to finally use this hilarious illustration from Gallery of the Absurd. Poor thing.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Soundtrack Of My Life

I was going to post this last week, but I think we all know by now that Blogger called out sick! (@#&%$!)


Ms. Supa Sister had an excellent post about the songs that formed the soundtrack to her life and I was inspired to write down some of the songs that I couldn't write in her comment section. With all of the Blogger drama, I feel like I've been writing this all week, but oh well. Here we go, with a warning - this is the longest post I've ever written in my life!

Chapter 1: We Don't Need No Ed-u-ca-tion! 1975 to 1980
  1. It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday by G.C. Cameron - OMG! I remember crying when this song came on in Cooley High. I still tear up when I hear it!
  2. You Send Me and Running Away by Roy Ayers (I used to sing "Scooby Doo! Fun, Fun, Fun!" LOL!!)
  3. You and I by Rick James
  4. Jammin' and I Shot The Sheriff by Bob Marley - I can remember very distinctly the first time I heard Bob Marley because it was the first time that I heard reggae music period.
  5. You Remind Me and Forget Me Nots by Patrice Rushen
  6. Stomp, Strawberry Letter 23 by The Brothers Johnson
  7. P-Funk, Mothership Connection, One Nation Under A Groove by Parliament - Make my funk the P-Funk! I wants ta get funked up!
  8. Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker), Flashlight by Parliament - Get up off the funk!
  9. One Nation Under A Groove by Funkadelic - This is my phone ring!
  10. Don't Ask My Neighbors and Best of My Love by The Emotions
  11. Betcha By Golly Wow by Phyllis Hyman
  12. Saturday Night Fever soundtrack by The Bee Gees
  13. Le Freak by Chic - Freak out! Le Freak, Ce'st Chic!
  14. Songs In The Key Of Life, Talking Book by Stevie Wonder
  15. Shake Your Body Down To The Ground by The Jacksons - Let's Dance! Let's Shout!

  16. Changed, I Love the Lord, I'm Not The Same and Goin' Up Yonder by Walter Hawkins
  17. Jesus I Love You by Tramaine Hawkins
  18. Got To Give It Up by Marvin Gaye - I remember my sister and I peeking out of our bedroom door at our parents and their friends dancing to this record. Of course, we were busted and carted off to bed!
  19. Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2 by Pink Floyd - We Don't Need No ED-U-CAY-SHUN!
  20. That's The Way of the World, Sing A Song, Reasons, After the Love is Gone, Fantasy, Can't Hide Love and 99% of everything else by Earth, Wind & Fire.
  21. Footsteps in the Dark, Hello It's Me, Voyage To Atlantis, Make Me Say It Again Girl, For the Love of You and 99% of everything else by The Isley Brothers - Grown folks music!

Chapter 2: Are You There God? It's Me, Nichelle! - 1980 to 1983

  1. Rock With You by Michael Jackson - Michael, Michael, Michael...
  2. Rapture by Blondie - the first record I ever bought!
  3. Rapper's Delight by The Sugar Hill Gang
  4. I Like It, Time Will Reveal and All This Love by DeBarge
  5. Behind the Groove, Square Biz, Portuguese Love by Teena Marie
  6. Pull Up To The Bumper by Grace Jones
  7. I'm So Into You by Peabo Bryson
  8. Never Too Much by Luther Vandross
  9. All I Do, Rocket Love, Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder
  10. Lady In My Life, PYT, Billie Jean, Thriller by Michael Jackson - Michael, Michael, Michael
  11. Sexual Healing, The Star Spangled Banner and EVERYTHING else by Marvin Gaye - Marvin, Marvin, Marvin...
  12. Everybody by Madonna
  13. Whip It by Devo - Crash that whip!
  14. Sara Smile and I Can't Go For That by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  15. She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby
  16. Between the Sheets by The Isley Brothers
  17. The Message and White Lines by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  18. International Lover, Lady Cab Driver, by Prince
  19. Let's Dance by David Bowie
  20. Zoom by The Commodores - I may be just a foolish dreamer, but I don't care...

Chapter 3: How Could You Just Leave Me Standing Alone In A World So Cold? 1984 to 1989

  1. Purple Rain album, etc. by Prince - Gee, have I mentioned him on this blog before?
  2. You Give Good Love, Saving All My Love For You by Whitney Houston - Whitney, Whitney, Whitney...
  3. I Wonder If I Take You Home by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
  4. Smooth Operator, Your Love Is King, Is It A Crime by Sade
  5. Sweet Love, Caught Up in the Rapture by Anita Baker
  6. Whip Appeal by Babyface
  7. I Want To Thank You (Heavenly Father) by Alicia Meyers
  8. Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  9. Groove Is In The Heart by Dee-Lite
  10. The Best Is Yet To Come by Grover Washington and Patti LaBelle
  11. Make It Last Forever and I Want Her by Keith Sweat
  12. Private Dancer (album) by Tina Turner
  13. Word Up, Candy and Back and Forth by Cameo
  14. Nite and Day by Al B. Sure!
  15. Between the Sheets by The Isley Brothers
  16. The Reflex by Duran Duran
  17. Borderline by Madonna
  18. Control, Alright, When I Think of You by Janet Jackson
  19. True by Spandau Ballet
  20. Tainted Love by Soft Cell

Chapter 4: Groove Is In The Heart 1990-1998

  1. Optimistic by Sounds of Blackness
  2. Back to Life and Keep On Movin' by Soul II Soul
  3. Never Stop and Stay That Way by The Brand New Heavies
  4. Latifah's Had It Up 2 Here by Queen Latifah
  5. Around the Way Girl by LL Cool J
  6. Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters
  7. Red Light Special, Kick Your Game, Creep by TLC
  8. I Want To Thank You (Heavenly Father) by Alicia Meyers
  9. Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  10. Groove Is In The Heart by Dee-Lite
  11. Back and Forth by Aaliyah
  12. Living In Confusion by Phyllis Hyman
  13. Heaven by BeBe and CeCe Winans
  14. Let the Praise Begin, No Weapon, Jesus Be A Fence by Fred Hammond
  15. Dreamin' by Christopher Williams
  16. Let the Beat Hit 'Em by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
  17. Tell Me by Groove Theory
  18. Sumthin' Sumthin by Maxwell
  19. Ex-Factor by Lauryn Hill
  20. My Life by Mary J. Blige
  21. The Only One For Me by Brian McKnight
I think I'll stop here. I could go on all night (and I have!)


Friday, June 09, 2006

Net Neutrality: Don't Sleep!

Net neutrality means that you and I should get the same treatment from cable and phone companies for use of their broadband, high-speed Internet lines as big corporations.

In the nutshell, television and cable companies led by AT&T, Comcast and Verizon want to charge a toll to use the Internet and create different tiers of online service. If you dont' have money for the "express lane" on the internet, get ready for the "dirt road." In other words, the big boys want the Internet to look like cable television. Think about how easy it was starting your blog versus getting your content on cable.

To "beat it over your head" even more, here is a quote from The Washington Post:

Their idea is to stand between the content provider and the consumer, demanding a toll to guarantee quality delivery. It's what Timothy Wu, an Internet policy expert at Columbia University, calls "the Tony Soprano business model": By extorting protection money from every Web site -- from the smallest blogger to Google -- network owners would earn huge profits. Meanwhile, they could slow or even block the Web sites and services of their competitors or those who refuse to pay up. They'd like Congress to "trust them" to behave.

Without net neutrality, the Internet would start to look like cable TV. A handful of massive companies would control access and distribution of content, deciding what you get to see and how much it costs.

I've been hearing rumblings about this for a while and yesterday, Barack Obama did a brief podcast about it. An excerpt from his Senate web page:

"It is because the Internet is a neutral platform that I can put out this podcast and transmit it over the Internet without having to go through any corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship or without having to pay a special charge.

But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the Internet as we know it. They say that they want to create high speed lanes on the Internet and strike exclusive contractual agreements with Internet content providers for access to those high speed lanes.

Everyone who cannot pony up the cash will be relegated to the slow lanes."

You can click here at Save the to send your message to Washington, stay informed on developments and get tags for your blog. In fact, check it out even if you don't have a blog!

This CNN article talks about the strange bedfellows that have come together to kill this dangerous bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska.) On the side of sanity and anti-greed, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has sponsored a bill with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) supporting Internet freedom. Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) have teamed up on a bill that requires phone and cable broadband companies to give non-affiliated content producers (read: the little guy - and gal) equal opportunity to reach consumers and to refrain from interfering with content choice.

You can also click this link to contact your Congress person to let them know that you've got enough bills and you're not trying to pay corporations for the privilege of controlling your content or access!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Everybody Knows From The Coy Little Wink...

I wrote beauty and fitness articles for years and I really miss it. So after thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it some more, I've finally decided to do something about it that didn't involve pitching editors and waiting 6 to 8 to 68 weeks for my freelance check.

So today, I invite you to pay a visit to my brand new style blog at 55 Secret Street. I am not abandoning and I promise you that I am not obsessed with Sheila E. or anything, but what can I say? The Glamorous Life, twenty-two years later, continually provides inspiration and useful metaphors about life, love and style - at least for me.

My 55 Secret Street is not the location of an illicit rendevous (although you can probably find something to wear if you're going there.) It has a little bit of everything - beauty, fashion, food, art, design -
glamorous haute chocolate right at your fingertips every morning. And it's not just for black women because chocolate comes in many different flavors - but I'm hoping women of color especially dig it.

So "make haste in your brown sedan and drive" to 55 Secret Street - It's Glamorous.

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