Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Buzz on Akeelah and the Bee

I've mentioned Akeelah and the Bee before (Starbucks will be promoting it!) but I didn't realize that it was a winner of the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, one of the top screenwriting prizes out there (it's administered by the Academy Award folks.) The only requirement is that an entrant can not have earned more than $5,000 as a screenwriter (not a problem for most of us!)


Akeelah was written and directed by Doug Atchison (yes, that's him in the picture above with KeKe Palmer.) In the current issue of Creative Screenwriting magazine, he talks about winning the Nicholl, the "tremendous interest in the script," and the problems he and the producers faced trying to get the movie made:

"We basically got turned down by almost every studio because of the nature of the project. Everybody loved the screenplay, but there's never been a theatrical release by a major studio that starred an eleven-year-old African-American girl who's in every scene of the film, and people were hesitant to do things that are new and unprecedented. Furthermore, I wanted to maintain the racial makeup of the cast as I had written it, and people were resistant to that."

He goes on to say how nearly every studio or exec he met with wanted more white characters in the film - particularly Akeelah's mentor/coach Dr. Larabee (played by Laurence Fishburne who is also a producer of the film.)


The problems Doug ran into are, basically, the worst nightmare of every screenwriter. I remember seeing the log line (description) for a screenplay based on a popular black novel. Instead of being the story of one black woman with a black best friend, it was changed to the story of two women - and the best friend was suddenly Jewish. I have no idea whether that was problematic for the author, but to me, it changed the whole dynamic of the story. That's not true all of the time - just most of the time. When a character is revealed to a writer (and that's usually the way it works - you call yourself inventing characters, but essentially, they reveal themselves to you) their basic character traits are usually in place. Also, the race of the character plays an important part because it will influence the way the character sees themselves, how they are perceived by other characters and how they will behave. If you've got a story about an eleven-year-old black girl in South Central Los Angeles trying to get into the most prestigious spelling bee in the country -- race makes a difference. This would have been an entirely different film if Akeelah's coach/mentor were a white man or a white woman. It would also be very different if the coach were a Latina or a black woman born in Nigeria and raised in the U.K.

In any event, let's show Hollywood that we really do want more than pimpin' at the box office. Mark your calendars:
Akeelah and the Bee opens April 28th. And don't forget the rules of black movie going (even if you aren't black!)




1. Go on the first weekend.

2. Shut up so people can hear the movie.

3. Check your ticket stub!



Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What Is Wrong With People?


I liked Defamer's take on Pamela Anderson's protest against seal hunting in Canada:

Once again, Anderson manages to bust stereotypes: Not only does she put the lie to the cliche of the boring Canadian, but she also proves that a large-breasted blonde is fully apable of understanding and signing the articulate and persuasive statements prepared by PETA on her behalf.


(sigh�K) I love animals �V don't love PETA. For one thing, they rubbed me the wrong way when they not only enlisted Al Sharpton in their anti-KFC campaign ("Rev Al! Tell black people to stop eating chicken!"), they ran ads comparing animal abuse to lynching and slavery. Please, I'm still waiting on PETA to call out Fiddy Cent for wearing fur. Sure, it's easy to go around picking on Jennifer Lopez or Star Jones, but if you want to impress me, chase Fiddy down the street and throw some paint on him!


As if that weren't enough, Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder of PETA once said,
"Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it." She even went further in POZ, a magazine for people living with HIV by saying, "If we could get a cure from animals for my father's heart condition, it wouldn't give me any comfort. Why don't we respect animals as victims, too?"

Ingrid, I think I'm going to eat a piece of fried chicken tonight in your honor (Oh, wait a minute, never mind.)

Speaking of animals�K


What is wrong with cats?
Residents of the neighborhood of Sunset Circle say they have been terrorized by a crazy cat named Lewis. Lewis for his part has been uniquely cited, personally issued a restraining order by the town's animal control officer.
"He looks like Felix the Cat and has six toes on each foot, each with a long claw," Janet Kettman, a neighbor said Monday. "They are formidable weapons."

The neighbors said those weapons, along with catlike stealth, have allowed Lewis to attack at least a half dozen people and ambush the Avon lady as she was getting out of her car.



Now you know that's messed up�K

Monday, March 27, 2006

Marriage Is "For White People"



Or so everybody and their mama keeps telling us! This Washington Post article by Joy Jones has been making the rounds and I'm sure that I'm about the ten thousandth blogger to write about it but, oh well!

Although I am trying to Keep Hope Alive for a brother, I will not allow my eggs to shrivel up waiting on that negro. I will have a husband, not a baby daddy! I mean, how sad is it that we had higher marriage rates during slavery?! Some of the points Jones made in the article rang so true to me, especially this:

Among African Americans, the desire for marriage seems to have a different trajectory for women and men. My observation is that black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field. As the woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby, or possibly improving her job status, perhaps by returning to school or investing more energy in her career.

As men mature, and begin to recognize the benefits of having a roost and roots (and to feel the consequences of their risky bachelor behavior), they are more willing to marry and settle down. By this time, however, many of their female peers are satisfied with the lives they have constructed and are less likely to settle for marriage to a man who doesn't bring much to the table. Indeed, he may bring too much to the table: children and their mothers from previous relationships, limited earning power, and the fallout from years of drug use, poor health care, sexual promiscuity. In other words, for the circumspect black woman, marriage may not be a business deal that offers sufficient return on investment.

Most single black women over the age of 30 whom I know would not mind getting married, but acknowledge that the kind of man and the quality of marriage they would like to have may not be likely, and they are not desperate enough to simply accept any situation just to have a man. A number of my married friends complain that taking care of their husbands feels like having an additional child to raise. Then there's the fact that marriage apparently can be hazardous to the health of black women. A recent study by the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank in New York City, indicates that married African American women are less healthy than their single sisters.
Well, what do you think ladies (and gentlemen?)


*photo via New York magazine.

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(A Little) About Me

I promise this will be my last list for a while! I stole this from a cute blog called Just My Cup of Tea (and she stole it from someone else of course.)


1. First name? Nichelle

2. Who were you named after? Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame

3. Do you wish on stars? No, I pray to the Lord!

4. Do you like your handwriting? Yes, when I'm not scribbling.

5. When did you last cry? When I looked at my last paycheck.

6. What is your favorite lunch meat? Eeeww.. 'lunch meat' sounds so nasty, but I like turkey.


7. Do you have any siblings? Yes, I have two sisters and a stepbrother.

8. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with YOU? Sure, why not.

9. Do you have a journal? I have about a hundred journals!

10. What is your birth date? Now why would I volunteer that?

11. Do you use sarcasm a lot? No, never...

12. What are your nicknames? I don't have a nickname and I'm very happy about that.

13. Do you think that you are strong? Sometimes.


14. Would you bungee jump? Hell to the naw Bobby!


15. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No, I just pull them off.

16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? I will spend precious time taking pointless quizzes and surveys like this online.

17. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Every flavor is my favorite!

18. Red or pink? Red

19. What is your shoe size? I wear a wide size 10 (Thanks Dad!)

20. Who do you miss most? I miss my Mama Nell (1908-1985)

21. What color pants and shoes are you wearing right now? Blue jeans, no shoes.

22. Last thing you ate? Popcorn.

23. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Scarlet.

24. What is the weather like right now? Very nice from what I can tell. About 50 degrees.

25. What are you listening to right now? I Wanna Be Loved by Dinah Washington.

26. Last person you talked to on the phone? My Nana.

27. Favorite Drink? Chardonnay, but my favorite drank is a serious margarita.

28. Favorite Sport? I don't have one anymore, but basketball comes the closest.

29. Eye Color? Brown

30. Do you wear contacts? Yes, but right now I am wearing my glasses because I keep forgetting to pick up new contacts.

31. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? His height, the third finger on his left hand and whether or not he could pass for Henry Simmons' twin brother.

32. Favorite Food? Freshly-made guacamole and tortilla chips.

33. Favorite Movie? Now Voyager

34. Favorite day of the year? My birthday

35. Scary Movies or Happy Endings? Happy endings!

36. What is on your mousepad? I don't have a mousepad.

37. Summer or winter? Summer and spring.

38. Hugs OR Kisses? Hugs and kisses

39. What Is Your Favorite Dessert? Creme Brulee

40. Favorite Sounds? Absolute silence.

41. Last Movie You Watched? Claudine.

42. Rolling Stones or the Beatles? Parliament/Funkadelic

43. Favorite designer? Michael Kors

44. What books are you reading? One Life: The Autobiography of an African-American Actress by Ellen Holly.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Working Up A Black Sweat

Eye am not even going 2 go in 2 how much of a Prince fan eye am except 2 say that in high school eye wrote like this in my diary and managed 2 convince my strings teacher (eye played the viola) 2 incorporate The Beautiful Ones in 2 our recital. Oh, and my mother almost kicked my natural black behind when she heard Darlin' Nikki blasting from my bedroom. Eye feigned ignorance and lived 2 C the Dawn!

Anyway...


In the interest of preserving my sexy forever and ever, I have decided to put myself on blast and tell the world that I am officially getting my workout routine back on. I need to get some motivation from somewhere because I am not playing! I just downloaded Prince's new single Black Sweat to go along with the rest of my iTunes workout playlist. Like to hear about it? Here it go!


1. Golden by Jill Scott (3:51)

Hey-a-a, Oh-o-o! This is my warm-up song because I want to be beautifully human in every way. (Okay, I can admit that was corny...)





2
. Another Star by Stevie Wonder (8:22)

I don't know why but this song just sends me, always has. I can be on the treadmill forever with this on repeat.



3. Jingo by Santana (9:40)


This song is in my blood thanks to an Afro-Brazilian aerobics class that I took about a million years ago. Talk about working up a black sweat!



4. La Negra Tiene Tumbao by Celia Cruz (4:15)


You don't know La Negra? Ay Dios Mio! This song is so hot I nearly lost my mind the first time I heard it. It is impossible to be still when this is on! Loosely translated, La Negra Tiene Tumbao means "The Black Girl's Got It," so you know I'm workin' it when this is on.

Azucar!



5. Groove Me by Guy (4:34)

This was my jam back in the day! And what's a decent workout without a little New Jack Swing?


6. Touch The Sky by Kanye West (5:33)

Come up in the spot looking extra fly --
That's the plan!



7. It's Like That by Mariah Carey (3:23)

Them chickens is ash and I'm lotion. I've always wanted to say that somewhere...



8. The Glamorous Life by Sheila E. (9:03)

This here's my theme music y'all! You just don't understand... "She wants to lead the glamorous life" was the caption in my high school yearbook. "She wants to lead the glamorous life" is the caption in the fictional high school yearbook of the protagonist in my novel.

I was 14 when The Glamorous Life came out and of course, when you are 14, you assign all kinds of meaning to songs that mean a lot to you for reasons that you're not exactly sure of yet, but you just know it's you! This is me.





9. Don't Speak by Leela James (4:46)

Man, I nearly fell over when I heard this one. I can barely even remember what Gwen Stefani's original sounds like anymore and I love her!

Anyway, this is the song that starts my cool-down (and not a moment too soon!)




10. Enchantment by Corinne Bailey Rae (3:58)

I'm telling y'all, this girl is bad. Mark my words!


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Monday, March 20, 2006

Like A Star...


So, after church yesterday I'm just chilling, having a little coffee, doing a little Sunday online reading with VH1 Soul playing in the background when I stop everything I'm doing...

Just like a star across my sky,
Just like an angel off the page,
You have appeared to my life,
Feel like I'll never be the same,
Just like a song in my heart,
Just like oil on my hands,
Oh.. I do love you,

Still i wonder why it is,
I don't argue like this,
With anyone but you,
We do it all the time,
Blowing out my mind,

You've got this look i can't describe,
You make me feel like I'm alive,
When everything else is a fade,
Without a doubt you're on my side,
Heaven has been away too long,
Can't find the words to write this song,
Oh.,..
Your love,

I have come to understand,
The way it is,
It's not a secret anymore,
'cause we've been through that before,
From tonight I know that you're the only one,
I've been confused and in the dark,
Now I understand,

I wonder why it is,
I don't argue like this,
With anyone but you,
I wonder why it is,
I wont let my guard down,
For anyone but you
We do it all the time,
Blowing out my mind,

Just like a star across my sky,
Just like an angel off the page,
You have appeared to my life,
Feel like I'll never be the same,
Just like a song in my heart,
Just like oil on my hands


Beauty...

My friends, I think a star has been born. Her name is Corinne Bailey Rae and the song is called "Like a Star." I've never heard of her before, have you? I was so impressed I put another song, "Put Your Records On," on my sorry little MySpace page. She's on MySpace too.

What do you think?


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

The First Black Pop Star


Thanks to exhaustive work by scholars at the Donald C. Davidson Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara, along with various collectors and independent record labels, a collection of more than 6,000 cylinders converted to downloadable MP3's, WAV files and streaming audio are now available online free of charge. I read about it this morning in the New York Times. The collection has everything from opera and gospel to comic monologues and ragtime "ditties". The best part for me though, was hearing the voice of Bert Williams (1874-1922) for the first time. Born in Antigua, Williams was a brilliant vaudeville singer, really the first true black pop star. He was the only black performer to ever perform with the Ziegfield Follies and at one time made over $100,000 annually.

For many years, he teamed with George Walker, and as Williams and Walker, they billed themselves as "The Two Real Coons," in order to stand out in the crowd of white entertainers performing in blackface. The legendary comedian W.C. Fields said that Williams was "the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever met."

His biggest hit was a song called "Nobody." According to a 2004 Washington Post article :

In 1906, Williams teamed with black songwriter Alex Rogers to compose what would become his signature number. Recounting a litany of troubles with which the singer received no offers of assistance, "Nobody" provided Williams with a woebegone but winning persona that reached beyond the stereotypes of minstrelsy and appealed to audiences of all races. It remains the single enduring item in the Williams songbook, having been recorded by figures as varied as Perry Como and Ry Cooder. As recently as 2000, Johnny Cash reinterpreted it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is Bert Williams in 1906 singing his biggest hit, "Nobody."

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Friday, March 17, 2006

You! Shake Your Junk...


On that same [video] set, I had to wear a short, tight dress. I had some downtime, so I sat in one of the rooms where the food was set up. Soon one guy came in and then another. Within a few minutes, fifteen guys were surrounding me, and I was trapped. I felt like a specimen in a museum. I didn't want to get up because I knew if I did, they would start making a fuss over my ass. I kept thinking, 'I'm sitting here with these guys ogling, trying to touch my leg and arm, trying to see what kind of girl I am, see if they can run a train on me.' I was so terrified of getting up. The dress was so short and my shoes were so high, I was afraid to even uncross my legs. Eventually a crewmember came in and regulated the situation; he could see how terrified I was about even moving an inch. It all lasted about ten minutes." �X Melyssa Ford, "Calendar Girl" (fromNaked***)




". . . Master Hendrick would invite the spectators to examine me to assure themselves nothing was fake. Some of them accepted the invitation by touching my backside or searching for evidence of padding. One pinched me, another walked round me, a gentleman poked me with his cane, a lady used her parasol to ascertain that all was 'natural.' Master Hendrick sometimes used a long piece of bamboo to prod me around or move me forward or backwards. But worst of all, the laughter �X raucous, lewd, predatory, and hate-filled �X never stopped. It erupted at the slightest excuse, a stumbling foot, a tear, an epithet from a spectator, the shrill whistles and catcalls of the gallery." �X Barbara Chase-Riboud, Hottentot Venus


Coincidence? I think not. Yet another gem from Pop Matters.com, this time courtesy of Mark Reynolds. It's called Modern Day Hottietots. He draws the inevitable comparisons of today's video "vixens" and the infamously exploited "Hottentot Venus," Sarah Baartman (1789-1816). Born in Khoikhoi (now South Africa) her short stature (4'7") and large rear end gave her enslavers the idea to pimp her out in a traveling "freak show". Reynold's full article is here. Print it out, read it on the train, read it on the treadmill -- do what you have to do. And please pass it along.

*** Naked was co-edited by a buddy of mine, Ayana Byrd. She is also the co-author of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America.

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Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?


Can somebody please make this brother a sandwich, pronto! (And pour him a tall glass of sweet lemonade while you're at it.) This is Mark H. Harris. He writes a column for PopMatters.com called Yelling at the Screen and he wrote this great article last December (don't know how I missed it) called Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?

He has some great advice for black actresses to use for solving their perpetual M.I.A. status in Hollywood:

The quality of black women's roles have reached dire proportions. There's something inherently wrong with the fact that there've been more movies this decade starring Nick Cannon than Angela Bassett. And as great as Kimberly Elise was in Diary of a Mad Black Woman, it doesn't make up for the fact that the main draw of the film was a dude in a dress. The way I see it, there are a few options that black actresses can pursue:

Solution #1: Kick black actors' asses. The few who might actually have some say in casting haven't always shown much sympathy for the cause: Will Smith in Hitch, Ice Cube in Next Friday, Denzel in Out of Time and Training Day. Jada Pinkett needs to climb up on her husband's shoulders and box his ears. Does he not care that his wife can't get a job unless he gives it to her? Does he not care that the less work she gets as an actress, the more work she gets as a singer? I'm sure Denzel's wife must've told him that if he puts Eva Mendes in one more movie, she'd cut him off at the knees.

Solution #2: There's no quicker way to get a black man's attention than to not date a black man. Ask Garcelle Beauvais, Kerry Washington, Aisha Tyler, Thandie Newton, or Tyra Banks. The goal is twofold: one, you'll get noticed by the few black men who have some pull in the industry. Two, you'll infiltrate the non-black power structure; it's the Hollywood way (Near Vine way; take a right past the hooker.).


Solution #3: Being black in America is like being gay in that you can't be "a little black" or "a little gay", so the solution is simple: try not to look black. Witness: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Jennifer Beals, Mariah Carey, and Rashida Jones. And if you can't pass for "other", at least try to be light-skinned enough to play the love interest in an Eddie Murphy film.


Solution #4: Boycott. Who are they gonna get to play their attitudinal hookers, their attitudinal welfare mothers, and their attitudinal authoritarian cock blockers (loan officers, judges, DMV workers, et al.)?

Solution #5: Try not to make movies like Woo, B*A*P*S, or Glitter.

Hopefully, my advice can help black actresses gain some leverage in the industry and put a positive black female face on Hollywood so that black women worldwide will take pride in these roles and feel more secure about their future in this world.


Pure genius...

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Slavery In New York


Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the Slavery In New York exhibit at the New York Historical Society and I can't recommend it enough.

New York, land of love, liberty and liberals was once the capital of American slavery for more than 200 years. During the colonial period, only Charleston, South Carolina had more slaves.

The Dutch were the first to bring slaves to New York. In 1621, Holland granted the Dutch West India Company territory stretching from Manhattan to Albany called 'New Netherland'. In the early years, slaves worked for the Dutch West India Company, not individual slaveowners. Some blacks won "half-freedom" (you know, sort of like being "half-pregnant") but still worked for the Dutch West India Company and paid taxes (!) unlike white colonists. They were also able to own land, but their children were automatically slaves.

The most famous slave from New York is surely the legendary Sojourner Truth. She was born with the name Isabella in Ulster County, New York around 1797 and her first language was Dutch! Yes, Sojourner Truth uttered her immortal phrase, "Ar'n't I a woman?" with a Dutch accent. Nell Irvin Painter's definitive biography of her does a good job of dispelling a lot of myths.

The gentleman in the top photo was Caesar, a slave in Bethlehem, New York. He outlived three slave masters and lived to be 115 years old.

The gentleman in the photo below Caesar was Pierre Toussaint, a Haitian immigrant and a successful hairdresser. Photos of his wife and niece are also featured.


The gentleman in the picture on the bottom was James Hewlett, a singer and actor who began his career at the African Grove Theater on Bleecker Street. A former seaman, he played Shakespearian roles like Richard III and Macbeth and toured Europe and the Caribbean.

My favorite part of the exhibit? Easily, the runaway slave ads. Oh the genius and heroism of our people!! Slaves are often thought of as weak and passive, but slaves were the first street venders in New York and they started two revolts against slavery in the 18th century.

The introduction to this segment of the exhibit says it all:

Almost every runaway ad reads like an adventure novel. Previously anonymous slaves suddenly appeared in print as people with names, looks, personal histories, skills, character traits, and modes of dress. A brief paragraph told more about everyday life than a book full of laws. Slaveholders serve as witnesses despite themselves, providing insights into the realities of black life in slavery. Escaping from slavery permanently was nearly impossible, but a skilled person, changing his or her name, might find an employer eager for workers.
You can get it online, but it's even better in person to see how the historians decode the slave ads, pointing out the hypocrisy of the owners and the bravery of the escaped slaves. For instance, a slaveowner may point out that a slave could wash, iron and cook, in case that slave tried to get hired as a free person. Or, they would point out a disfigurement (like a missing finger or scars) to readily identify the slave, while conveniently ignoring that it was likely a sign of abuse.

There are so many other things, including a copy of Freedom's Journal, the first black owned and edited newspaper in the United States, and a 'Book of Negroes', which lists the names of slaves who were promised freedom by the British during the Revolutionary War, but were worried about being sent back to their American masters after the colonies won. The British kept their promise and sent many of the slaves to Canada, including a woman that was owned by none other than General George Washington. She escaped at 16, married at 20 and was in Canada a few years later. Her name was Deborah Squash.

The exhibit is interactive and designed for people of all ages, so for goodness sake, bring your kids or somebody's kid, so they won't go around thinking that 'hip hop is the only real description of the suffering of our people.'
You can't help but be affected by it, but it is far from depressing. It's been so popular that it was extended through March 26th, so if you haven't been, GO!


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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Gordon Parks, Rest In Peace



"I was just born with a need to explore every tool shop of my mind, and with long searching and hard work. I became devoted to my restlessness."

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Oscar's Golden (Brown) Ladies

So, the minute the Oscars were over, I dutifully scoured the internet for the best dresses from the red carpet and after parties. Along with the nominees, the usual suspects were out in force, and they looked great, especially Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Alba.

And of course, as always, I'm looking over Jennifer's shoulder and Charlize's hair for a black star, any black star, just to see what the chile is wearing. Finally, I spot Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Jada didn't disappoint in brilliant royal blue Roberto Cavalli. Queen Latifah, my fellow Jersey Girl, was stunning in a strapless black number by Carmen Marc Valvo -- but where were my other girls?

Hidden in the recesses of Wireimage and black message boards of course:

Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan and Tracee Ellis Ross all looked beautiful at the Vanity Fair party, but I have no idea who designed any of their gowns or cocktail dresses. Ditto for Joy Bryant, Regina King, the always on-point Garcelle Beavais-Nilon and newcomer Terry Pheto (from the Oscar winner Tsotsi of South Africa.) Unless you make Us Weekly, E! or Style.com, good luck with that! In any event, let's hope we see these ladies in a theater near you soon.

(Sorry if the pictures are a little weird. I haven't mastered that part of blogging yet.)


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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Simon Doonan loves him some large black ladies


Simon Doonan, the glamorous varmint that writes books and appears on VH1 when he's not on his day job as creative director at Barneys just loves him some large black ladies. His sudden outburst of admiration was inspired by the woman he describes as "My American Idol", Idol contestant Mandisa Hundley.

What is it about large black ladies that makes them so compelling? Why do we, straight and gay alike, derive such good vibrations from their big cuddly selves? Here's my theory: We love big black chicks because they are genuinely comfortable with their girth. Their heapin' helpins of joyous self-acceptance are universally attractive. All that jolly self-esteem is positively contagious. It's the opposite of the depressing I'm-never-thin-enough wretched self-hatred that emanates from Hollywood white ladies.


Hollywood loves the ladies too -- as long as they're in drag. A funny take from Defamer:

1. Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion $30.25 million

In the past month, movies centering around popular black funnymen in muumuus and fat suits have grossed about $95 million at the box office. Why do we get the feeling that as we sit here sipping our coffee, half of CAA is gathered in a conference room soberly discussing how to convince Will Smith to do Mrs. Doubtfire II, then drawing straws to break the news to Robin Williams?

I hear Dave Chappelle stopped returning calls.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Um, What The Hell?



Eyeless cloth hoods? Chains for a nose? Woven hair masks?

Guy Trebay makes some sense of this mess in the New York Times:

When a single designer chooses to efface his models, it's easy to slough off the stunt as creative license. But when a bunch of designers with no connection to one another are moved to eliminate the faces of the beautiful creatures they hire for the catwalk, it's clear something ugly is going on.

The designer, Jun Takahashi of Undercover said, "It was kind of a joke. I didn't want any distraction from the line."

Yeah, it's a joke alright Jun.

Style.com noted that a few models stumbled blindly into the audience but stops short of criticizing the sinister aesthetic that nearly every editor noticed. Guy Trebay had a trenchant observation relating to this, noting that most members of the style media seem to suffer from a form of Stockholm syndrome:

So identified are they with the designers who round them up twice a year and pack them into tents or empty art galleries or refitted sports arenas or chicly outfitted dungeons that they usually fall into agreeably complicit silence the moment the lights go down. "Look at the front rows," the writer Judith Thurman once remarked. "Everyone looks glazed. No one is really seeing."

To say the least.

In the meantime, Russell Simmons has declared that "Hip-hop is the only real description of the suffering of our people."

Yeah, you know it's hard out here for a pimp... You ain't knowin!

Octavia Butler, Rest In Peace


"I'm comfortably asocial — a hermit in the middle of a large city, a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty and drive."

Octavia Butler, June 22, 1947 - February 25, 2006

"In black speculative fiction, we are a tiny family and Octavia Butler was our matriarch. So we just lost our mother, our grandmother." Tananarive Due



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