Local blogger Joel Murphy, creator of blog Hobotrashcan (thanks for putting me on Amanda L.) shares why we should respect Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and I couldn’t agree more! A song like this doesn’t come along too often; I mean a song that no matter how often it’s played does not make you want to throw a molotov cocktail at the radio or your smart phone. Thanks to Joel for keeping it real and to Pharrell for creating some beautiful music. Enjoy my friends!

TV ONE’s Unsung Taught Me I Love Disco!

I love love love TV One because of Unsung. Yes I said it, I sweat TV One HARD because that show is introducing me to artists whose music I’ve heard as the background soundtrack to my life. Recently I can’t get enough of Nile Rodgers and Chic. Before that Unsung episode aired I couldn’t even tell you Nile Rodgers’ name but apparently I’ve loved his music all these years. Oh yeah, I had no idea that he and his Chic partner Bernard Edwards produced Diana Ross’ iconic “Upside Down” and Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” Thanks to Spotify I’ve been gulping down those funky baselines and disco-infused jams. I’ve been revisiting “My Forbidden Lover” and “I Want Your Love.” I need to hit up some of the B-side stuff. I was the tender age of four when “My Forbidden Lover” was released in 1979. This song makes me want to put on makeup: cat eyes and a bold lip, slide a feathered roach clip into my wavy locs, throw on some fitted jeans, and a shoulders-out flowy shirt with some tall black skates with hot pink laces and wheels. I’m definitely having a skate party for my 40th; I got two more years to plan. I want lights out with a spinning disco ball. The music will be disco, eighties pop and hip-hop. I need to start looking for a DJ now! Anyone have recommendations? I wish I was in LA, I know Frane could deliver. THIS.IS.HAPPENING.

Listen to "My Forbidden Lover" and "We Are Family" 

Googling Black Book Arts as Inspiration for My Book Arts Final

So tonight I’m hunkering down in an attempt to come up with an idea for my book arts class final. I’m to use a piece of my own writing; I plan to use my as-yet-to-be submitted-for-publishing piece about hair, “Getting Caught in the Rain.” Then I am to choose either a traditional or non-traditional form to create a series of 3 identical books. While I’m pretty traditional when it comes to purchasing and reading books, my instinct is to ‘try something different!’ 

Looking for inspiration I Googled ‘black book arts’ and pulled up a few random books but the more pc-inspired search, ‘african-american book arts’ yielded an interesting exhibit that was erected back in 2007 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I’m so sad I couldn’t go see this for myself especially since per this article it was the first exhibition of all African-American book artists! Check out this article and some gallery pics of “We, Too, Are Book Artists” I am especially intrigued by the Nelson Mandela book “In the Event Anyone Disappears” by artist Bisa Washington ; a close second is the colorful accordion book, “A Week in the Life of a Black Woman Artist” by Dindga McCannon. *link at bottom

I am inspired although I’m still not sure how to execute my vision. The arc of my hair story addresses my childhood desire to be white and have straight hair and my eventual acceptance of my natural locks. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

"I used to lust after white girl hair: bouncy and shiny, bone straight or lustrous curls, anything long would do. As a little black girl attending private Catholic schools, I was the speck of pepper in a sea of salt. Surrounded by girls with hair drastically different than my own vertically challenged tightly coiled locks, I longed for what I could never have.  I’d sit behind Jennifer (there was always a Jennifer) and watch as she twirled a straight chestnut lock around her finger. She’d do this over and over again; I’d get lost in the texture of the hair and the way it behaved, falling just right, back into place. My hair, on the other hand, had to be heated to straighten, would stick out if twirled, and never followed my orders to fall back into the fold. My attempts to wrap my hair around my finger left me smoothing and re-smoothing the same stubborn patch in vain."

Hmmm, I’m really trying to think outside the box here. I know I want to include my favorite Turkish fold, it creates a pop-up effect like so:

Here is a pic from my book arts mid-term, designed utilizing Toure’s short story “The Steviewondermobile” excerpted from his book The Portable Promised Land.

Above is what the page looked like before I added the Turkish fold seen in the first pic.

I absolutely adore collage and Turkish folds, both must be elements in my book final…if at all possible. Although I’m wondering about using ‘hair grease’ containers and having a pull accordion with text or adding a hot comb element like getting some towel-like textured cloth with striped burn marks from the comb or maybe that could be an image for the cover…hmmmm!!! 

HELP! If you have any ideas please share.

Link to “We, Too, Are Book Artists”: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2007/09/10/bookartists

A Beauty Tip Brought to You By Moi (say it like Miss Piggy)

Yes, if you have been a reader of my blog since its inception you know how much I adore Miss Piggy. If you don’t know check out I Heart Miss Piggy, you won’t regret it! So it’s springtime and at least today it feels like it, although it’s gloomy and rainy, but my skin is still in winter mode, which means dry. I have my Dad and maternal grandmother, Mom-Mom (R.I.P. to you both) to thank for bequeathing me dry skin. Thanks to them I must slather homemade remedies (shea butter mixed with olive oil for smoothness) all over my hands, legs, and feet to ensure I don’t look like I’ve been rolling around in a pile of flour.

 So today I decide along with doing homework and planning for my entrepreneurial future, to do something to my raggedy fingernails I can’t afford to get manicured. Now a lady should always keep her cuticles cut, nails clean, and polish un-chipped which is why I finally broke down and gave myself a manicure. My awesome once-a-year nail technician, Ashlynn of Salon on the Avenue in White Marsh, taught me how to tame my dry ass cuticles, instead of soaking in soapy water, she soaked my cuticles in oil! I looked at her like she was crazy and blurted out, “Why are you soaking my nails in oil?” She was like, “Why would I soak them in water when they are so dry?” Ok, so that makes sense, once she was done my cuticles looked like they belonged on someone else’s hand, which is why today I soaked my paws in some olive oil—smells good and works just as well as cuticle oil. The image you see above is the aftermath of my at-home mani. I painted my nails and trolled through the hallowed halls of Spotify to relive the eighties.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, being a chick with champagne tastes and kool-aid money means doing things for yourself; for me that means at home manis/pedis except for my annual ‘welcome to summer’ or special occasion visit to Ashlynn. It also means rummaging through my kitchen cupboards to find what I need and today that was olive oil.

What are your beauty home remedies? 

immarkwithak:

Montclair State University may have been controversial at CUPSI but I’ll always remember the poems that hit me in the stomach over the ones that I snapped a lot through. Ann Marie Iliana Manso really pushed the levels of comfort within the realm of art in this piece. It’s very real.

This piece gave me goosebumps! Raw commentary about school shootings in the form of poetry; not to be ignored!

(via hemlockandharmony)

Some Thoughts on Being a Gen X Slacker Trying to Turn Entrepreneur

Last Thursday I stumbled across salon.com article, Generation X gets really old: How do slackers have a midlife crisis? I read with interest how those of us born in the late sixties through 1980 are solidly in or approaching midlife. Our parent’s model of success: college and a ‘good’ job with a retirement pension track is not realistic for me. The article reminds me why I always hated my generation’s label as slackers…but as I stand securely in midlife all of a sudden I’m like ‘woah, I’m nowhere I thought I would be at this age; am I a high-performing slacker?’

 I quickly forgot about this question as I prepped for a girls’ weekend trip to Ocean City. I spent the weekend catering to my mid-life body’s needs while partying (i.e. drinking a glass of water after each shot and margarita). Throughout the weekend discussions were had about our futures and what we want for them. All of us are 35 and up still working on our happily ever after, which for me is gaining control over how I spend the hours of each day of this life I have. I used to think that the amount of money I had in the bank was a full expression of my success, but now I’m not so sure. 

I’ve decided I don’t want to report to any office job, day in and day out for as long as I shall live. No thanks! Don’t get me wrong, knowing where your next paycheck is coming from means having stability but as much as that is something I value, I can’t seem to shake the fact that the only way for this Gen Xer to be successful is to let go of the traditional models of work, which means, dare I say it- entrepreneurship!

 Just today that word, entrepreneur, became real for me. It’s a scary word, because it means taking a risk and although I’m a risk-taker there are always caveats. Here’s an example, after college I moved to LA but not after my friends spent the better part of a week calling me daily and pitching why I should live there. Ok, so I end up living there and decide I would like to be a stand-up comedian, but then I’m too scared to do open-mics. Then I decide to try my hand at improv (comedy but different) by signing up for a Groundlings Funshop class; the Groundlings is an improv school that trained many SNL alums including Jimmy Fallon. So I sign up, attend every class, do really well and then freak out at the end: miss the last class and never apply to attend the school for fear of auditioning. Is this the Gen X slacker in me? I don’t know but I’m noticing a pattern here. Each time I take one of these leaps: moving to LA or taking an improv class, despite my fears nothing BAD happens. That’s where my focus needs to be. I gain memories I will fondly look upon for the rest of my life…so back to that entrepreneurial spirit I need to embrace. As fearful as I am about taking certain chances I. HAVE.TO.DO.IT! I have to plot a plan so I can begin to set my life on the course I want as a successful freelance writer, author and storyteller. A friend suggested checking out SistaSense to get started. That is what I did today. After this I need to write down what I’m going to do every day THIS WEEK toward that goal. If you have any recommendations PLEASE SHARE! 

Book Arts & Bamboo Earrings

Check out my collage for class. The images above are borrowed from the “Carpe Denim” spread (p. 244) in the November 2013 edition of Marie Claire

I’ve been working all day to learn a Turkish fold so I can create a book for my book arts class. If you’re interested in what that would look like, check out this quick YouTube tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41mVnN_Xy_I. After a few rough drafts I feel confident that at least for today I can recreate this fold style, reminiscent of pop-up books; so exciting! 

After grasping the Turkish fold, I applied applied images and text for my book using the theme ‘lost’. Well that turned out to be easy since I lost an earring from a set of hoops made  made for me eight years ago by my friend (shout-out to J. Canning!) They were my bamboo earrings! Let me school you about the bamboos, they are cited in L.L. Cool J’s “Around the Way Girl.”** Nuff said! Check mine out: 

I lost one of these earrings. Afraid I’d only have one forever I tried to choke down my heartache. I discovered the loss when I ran my fingers through my hair, snagging them on a strand tangled in the hook of my left hoop. This didn’t happen on the other side so I patted my earlobe realizing the other was m.i.a. I checked my scarf, the inside collar of my coat, my pockets, the walkway to my car, under my seat, nothing! I’d just left the MICA screening of “12 O’Clock Boys” so I wondered in horror, is it under the theater seat, in a bathroom stall? Days later when opening the passenger side door of my car  a twinkle caught my eye; it was one of the crystals sparkling in the noonday sun. Found!

So back to the first picture, my experience has been represented via collage and a few choice words for my book. The plan is to photocopy the collaged piece for folding dexterity, then create my book boards for class on Tuesday. This has been a fun project mostly because I’m being me and not checking for what other folks are doing. A little background on that introspection: when it comes to visual art, it is not my go-to skill so I historically have always looked at someone else’s skill and felt like I had none. Then I realized we all have a unique perspective just like we all have unique DNA. So instead of making my lost book some ‘deep thoughts’ piece I embraced my love for my hand-made bamboos gifted to me by friend. Sparkly jewelry is a thing for me. 

I’m signing off so I can get a little rest and relaxation before the week begins. (muttering under breath) We really should get 3 days off and 4 days on, I just start feeling like me by day’s end on Sunday.

***Here’s a treat to get you through the rest of the weekend:

LL Cool J’s video for “Around the Way Girl”: http://vimeo.com/67802343

Changing the Game: Reflections on Work

I hate how I react whenever anyone asks me where I work or about my job; I tend to flinch. Truth is I don’t hate my job, I don’t have nightmares about it nor do I dread coming into work so why the flinch? I’ve realized that I’ve hit a wall, I’ve been in the same position for going on eight years! I’d been under the impression that I was only six years in which goes to show how disconnected to real time I seem to be. Thanks to LinkedIn for automatically tallying the years and startling me when I updated my status during the Christmas holidays.

I’d love to blame leadership for why my great potential and abundant talents haven’t been recognized or exploited, but truth be told I have no one else to blame but myself for remaining stagnant for so many years. Most of my thirties have been spent in this position.  Yeah, marinate on that! Almost a decade working with the same employer (that’s not the problem), in the same position. I might as well be sleeping beauty, snoozing away in a castle far far away or driving  cross-country on cruise control through plains where the horizon meets the sky for infinity.

 So earlier today I was checking out the February Marie Claire , reading an article in the  @ Work section “Sweat Equity” about Sarah Robb O’Hagan, president of fitness chain Equinox.  She said, “Careers are more like jungle gyms than ladders—- sometimes a sideways or backward step can propel you forward.” This is such a powerful statement and one that I needed to see. At age 38 I’m finally attempting to redirect the trajectory of my life; I’m embracing my creative self, attending graduate school despite the constant ‘starving artist’ jokes, and forcing myself bit by bit out of my comfort zone.

When I think about job opportunities particularly in Baltimore it’s a bit daunting. Then when I talk to some of my friends they make it clear that when the move to another position, the only trajectory is up. They’re not telling me what to do rather what they would do, but sometimes those comments seem judgey and I allow that to sink in and render me action-less.  My  mental block is the fact that I think I should be in a far more financially successful place in my life, I should not be renting an apartment and definitely not fading away into the grey walls of my cubicle.

There are plenty of people that joke fine arts degrees but the collective creativity of many is a massive financial engine for the US and I want a piece of the action. After all writers come up with the stories for all of this original programming we’re seeing on HBO, Showtime, Netflix etc. The rules for our parents: go to college-get a job and stay there aren’t relevant today which brings me back to my original flinch. When asked about my job my reaction reflects my disappointment with myself and the fact that I’ve coasted and part of why I’ve coasted is fear;  fear of making less, fear of not having a job, which leads to fear of homelessness, my car being repossessed, no heat due to high energy bills, etc. What O’Hagan’s quote did for me today was to still the voices  within and those around me; her quote gave me permission to be more open to possible opportunities wherever they may be.

GRIND MY BONES INTO GLITTER, THEN SWIM THROUGH THE SHIMMER

napmag:

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GRIND MY BONES INTO GLITTER, THEN SWIM THROUGH THE SHIMMER BY TRACY DIMOND

PDF DOWNLOAD

Hey Y’all! Check out this awesomeness! Where else can you find Ke$ha & Sylvia Plath mash-ups and frequent references to glitter!?! Good stuff; I promise!

"12 O’Clock Boys" Screening One Night Only in Baltimore and LA!

Last night I saw Lotfy Nathan’s documentary 12 O’Clock Boys at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I’m so glad I went, not only did I get to learn more about this crew I’ve seen around Baltimore every summer for the past ten years but I was also able to witness another view into this fascinating city I dwell in. The production and editing are powerful as well, layer that with the beautiful ethereal chopped up boys choir soundtrack consistently looped with the slowed down images of the wheelie/stunt street scenes and your emotionally and visually yanked in.

While there is a wealth of action and a dash of city politics (brown kids vs. police) the story is about Pug, a 12-year-old Baltimore city kid who yearns to be a 12 O’Clock Boy, a dirt bike group known around Baltimore for tearing through the city streets mad deep popping wheelies and performing stunts to the delight and chagrin of passersby. Nathan follows Pug and his family over a period of three years, the audience is invited to witness his growth and follow along as he tries to achieve his goal of catching up to the crew and being able to consistently pop a wheelie to 12 o’clock (yep, straight vertical like the hands on a clock at 12).

Now I can’t pretend like I’ve been down with the riders all along; in fact I used to be aggravated if I was driving and then got surrounded by a group of dirt bikers. I’d be like  ’who the haile are these guys zig-zagging through traffic, cutting me off and coming up the street the wrong way?”  I was mostly irritated because the roar from the pipes of a pack of 30 or so dirt bikes is so loud it will erase your thoughts, plus I constantly worried about hitting one of them. I’ve softened up quite a bit over the years and thanks to a lecture from my guy about city kids not having a place to go to run these bikes, etc, I understand better where the riders are coming from.

Do yourself a favor and buy or go see this movie.

Link to FB page: https://www.facebook.com/12oclockboysmovie

Baltimore:

AMC Owings Mills 17 

Los Angeles (today only, 2/1/14):

The Crest Theater-Westwood

Laemmle Playhouse 7-Pasadena