Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Manchurian Candidate

I wasn't going to comment on this story because I thought it was a dead issue. In fact I thought it was dead a long time ago even before the election was run, but apparently this horse won't die.

Hmmm, now that I think about it I really have nothing to say other I'm not sure who I'm scared of most, the people who have determined and set this heinous sleeper plan in motion over 40 years ago for a puppet to become President and take over the country, or the numb skulls at this meeting who actually believe it.

You know the real sad thing is, is that these fuckers vote. Sometimes I wonder if getting rid of that intelligence test at voter registration time was such a good idea.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Death & The Obituary page

Larry called and said that E. Lynn Harris had died. I knew of course already because it had been all over the net. In fact the first time I read it was on someone’s Facebook page.

I was never a big fan of Mr. Harris, I remember reading his first book when he published it himself, Invisible Life, and thinking how much potential he had. Then he went to a big publishing house and I read the second one and thought that it was trite. There may have been a third book of his that I read but I can’t recall. I felt that he had sold out and I had long lost interest in his work by that time which listening to his last interview on NPR this year, he knew already.

When I was young my grandmother would scan the obituaries page in the news paper to see who had gone to glory before she had. She would see a name and recognize the person as Mrs. So & So’s hairdresser’s cousin who had lived 4 blocks up from where she did as a child and who had gone away for a few months when she was 16 and had come back with a new baby sister. Or she would see listed Mr. Such & Such who lived at the end of the street who was a drunk, or a fancy man, or both and used to make her laugh with his antics when she was young. Now granny doesn’t do that anymore. Partly because being almost 90, most of the people that she knew have passed on already and partly because even if she did know them, I’m not sure she’d recognize them. Come to think of it, I’m not sure she’d recognize me and I’m her only grandson.

Instead, I seem to have taken her place when it comes to looking for news of the dead. Of course I don’t actually do the Obits page in the news paper. In fact I don’t think I’ve read a newspaper in about 5 or 6 years now. I mean I do read the Metro that you get at the train station for free, but everybody knows that’s just a glorified excuse for advertising pamphlet. By the time you’ve read headline for each story, you’ve already read a third of whatever it is that they’ve written. What I do is search for names on the web.

This means of course that if you are a nobody like me, you’re probably still alive as far as I’m concerned since there will probably be very little news about you. But if you are a celebrity, a someone worthy of mention on CNN or *choke* Fox then I’ve got you. I‘ll be able to tell small stories about how I almost met you or how someone I knew almost met the next door neighbor of yours. I will be able to say this, that and the other about how my life was changed and how I became a better person or how I found Jesus.

From Maude to Malden, from Richardson to Jackson and from Harris to…I don’t know Cronkite, I will be able to find something to reflect on, and I guess that’s okay with me. At least then I won’t have to mourn for someone I know. I won’t have to grieve over a family member that lifted me up when I was down, or miss a friend that listened to me when no one else would. I can pretend that death happens to other people and not to those I know and love.

And that's the way it is.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Things Change

Does anyone not remember the Obama slogan of “change you can believe in” when the junior senator from Illinois was running for President? The things that he had to do and will have to do to make that true must be astounding.

If I were ever to run for high office, Lamont would be the first person that I would have to have knocked off. He knows more about me and the dirt that I used to get into more than anyone else in the world, including lovers and family members. There are things that we love about each other and things that we hate. That’s why we can go around not speaking to each other for months if not years and pick up right up at the same spot that we were arguing about and not miss a beat. It’s like time doesn’t pass for us. One of the things that we will fight over is how I like to go to Fire Island in New York and he’d rather lose a foot than go.

Lamont thinks that as a black man I should be ashamed to go to such a place that doesn’t seem to welcome people of color and that he for one wouldn’t spend a red cent or a minute trying to get there. Whereas I have always believed that if you want people to accept you, you have to make yourself visible and let them know that you exist. That’s why I have never been afraid to go anywhere to make my little non-political, political statement.

The last video that I did was on Fire Island and I must have shot about an hour’s worth of stuff, much of which was edited out because I wanted to hit the 10 minute maximum that they have on YouTube. The clip above was part of the video that I left out and although things said were done in jest, they still kind of bother me and I’m not quite sure why.

The “black man, black man,” reference from Designing Women is a line that I have used myself on people. The “black boys are delicious….” Line from Hair is something I’ve heard before from other black people, well from one other black person and he used to wear t-shirts with The Brady Bunch or That Girl on them. Does that count? I’ve never seen That Girl so I don’t know. Anyway, maybe it was the “people of color on the dock,” that disturbs me. Funny how when I was growing up and a little before that, we used to be called colored people and Negroes. Then it was black people and Jesse Jackson got people to use the term African Americans. Now it’s people of color. Oh how things change.

That brings me to the incident at the Valley Swim Club a private swim club that advertised open membership in the suburbs of Philadelphia. 65 children from the Creative Steps Day Camp, which consists mainly of black and Latino kids, showed up at the swim club late last month after their dues had been accepted and were turned away after hearing some perhaps racist remarks. Their money was refunded with the original explanation of, "There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club," from the management. This was later changed to there being a safety issue and the club was unable to accommodate such a large number of people.

Now, after that story was taped and with the hue and cry of racism in the air and that faint whiff of litigation, the Valley Swim Club has invited the children back. Apparently the safety issue is no longer a concern to the club when compared to pending law suits and condemnation from the govenor and senior senator for Pennsylvania; two fellow gym members may I say.

My, how things change.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fire Island Invasion 2009

On Friday at around 4pm I was at Independence Mall in Philadelphia. There was, as some people may call it, a protest rally by some black owned construction companies. They were demanding that more construction work be opened for black people in the city. They said that the President’s House that George Washington lived in before the White House was built and which John Adams moved into, should be reconstructed on the mall with black labor at the exclusion of others since the first house would have been originally built with slave labor. All very interesting I thought, but not quite the spirit of “Brotherly Love” the city is supposed to have especially when we were supposed to be celebrating the birth of the nation in the city that it all began. I decided to go my gym and come back later for the concert that was being held on the mall with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.

I did go back and since I had my video camera I shot a few scenes of the Pop’s version of the theme from ET and something from Benny Goodman. Then when they started playing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” it was time for me to go home before the South started to rise again. Plus I knew that I would have to get up early to celebrate July 4th, the next day, not by coming back to the mall to listen to speeches or thinking of the Founding Fathers or heading to someone’s horrible barbeque, but to where I seem to go every year now, Fire Island.

The story is that back in 1976 a few drag queens were refused service from a bar in the Pines on Fire Island. The men went back to Cherry Grove on another part of the island and with their friends on the day the country was celebrating the bi-centennial anniversary for independence, they boarded a boat and invaded the Pines in full drag regalia. They and others have been doing that everPanziy year since then and organized by Panzi in the yellow. It has become known as the Fire Island Invasion of the Pines.

I have been going for the last 5 or 6 years and I wish I could say that I have been in costume, but I haven’t worn mother’s wig and pearls since I was about 8 and never in public. Usually I just head to the beach, strip down and relax. This time however because of the mass of people this year they ran out of room on the ferry that I usually take so I arrived at Cherry Grove at around 1pm just as the revelers were about to leave the Grove for the Pines. I decided to shoot this video with too much wind noise going on and to steal some pictures from flickr.com and some of the music from Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

I hope you enjoy it just as much as hope you enjoyed your weekend as I did mine.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The King & I

It's been sometime since I have actually written anything and this was something that I had never in my wildest dreams thought that I would ever do, but here it is.

There isn't much that I can write about the King of Pop that you could not think for yourself or read somewhere else. There isn't anything more that I could or even develop into something even slightly interesting that hasn't already said. For the last couple of days I’ve been thinking of Michael knowing that my life will not change one iota because of his death but realizing that my life has in a small way already been changed or at least been affected by him being alive.

I remember the first time I saw the Jackson 5 back in '69 on the old black and white. Some people with more significant lives will tell you about chasing or running from the VC in 'Nam, but I will tell you about looking up at a boy not much older than myself and wondering why I couldn't be as magnificent as he seemed to be. The Jackson 5 were and Michael was magic and they knew it and they knew I knew it too.

I think I’ve said in this blog before that both Michael Jackson and I share the same birthday. It’s a line that I use to show how I really hip and cool I am and I want people to remember me by stating something that’s different from whatever else they may have heard. Of course using a phrase like “hip and cool” only shows how much I really am not but I have always tried to ride MJ’s coat tails by showing people the similarities between us. Although undoubtedly we have a few differences.

I am or was just a few years younger than Mr. Jackson so that was one difference and another minor one would be the talent thing. I know that I have no talent because some years ago for some strange reason I was watching with my mother, Barbara Walters or somebody interview Michael Jackson. My mother said to herself something like “such talent.” Then she turned towards me and said the word “if”, lowered her eyes and let the smile fall from her face. I swore to myself then, perhaps not with words but at least pictures, I would hate Michael Jackson and everything that he stood for, for the rest of my life and maybe a little more beyond it.

It goes without saying that I never could hate Michael anymore that I could hate my left shoulder when it clicks and hurts me when I raise my arm. Like my shoulder he has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I remember when I started to grow an afro because he had one. I remember the choice of clothes and the platforms that I wore were because of him. I remember posting the bedroom walls with pictures of him and his brothers that I tore out of the teeny bopper magazines. In fact the only thing that I did before he did was to catch my hair on fire, and at least I did it without getting third degree burns. I supported him when he did his Thriller album when early on, black people were thinking that MJ’s music was too pop, which is a euphemism for being too white, but I was there. I never bought the album of course; there was no need to go over the top. I was there in spirit.

I was also there in spirit during the cosmetic surgeries that made him look like another version of the Joker. I was there during the Martin Bashir interview and I realized my idol from yesteryear had either gone berserk or had never developed an adult thinking brain and my heart and my stomach fell. But I was there. I think I will be there when he is finally laid to rest. Not the memorial/spectacle "Joe Jackson somehow it’ll make money" money scheme they intend to put on in Los Angeles for him, but the one where everyone realizes that it’s all over, and then like the line that keeps going on and on in my head,

“I'll be there, I'll be there,
just call my name, I'll be there....”


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