Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Sunday, April 15, 2018


This special bits & bobs was actually a subject I started to write about a few years ago. I had placed it on the shelf amongst my " I'll get back to it" cogitations.  It was brought back to the forefront by a post from a FB friend.  She had posted the lyrics to  STEELY DAN'S "Pretzel Logic" which she had found very problematic.

"I would love to tour the Southland in a traveling minstrel show"

These lyrics certainly bring to mind unsettling images of Blackface. Especially viewed through the lens of 2018.

I grew up in the 60's and 70's, so I will be speaking about the songs from that era, because I remember them so vividly.

My family has always been involved in Activism and the push for Civil rights.  My parents lived in the South, the Jim Crow laws were still being enforced, MLK & Malcolm X were still alive when I was growing up. The Vietnam War was in it's worst years.  I had two brothers over there.  The streets and the radio waves were filled with protest songs.

Music was, and still is a major part of my life.  There was always music playing in our living room, blaring out of our large Stereo console.  Music from every genre filled our house, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, The Young Rascals, Junior Walker, Elton John, Sonny & Cher, Dusty Springfield, The Dave Clark Five..the list goes on & on.  I know we sang along & danced to some of the songs that definitely would be considered problematic today.

Even my absolute favorite, Elton John would not escape today's scrutiny.  A few of his songs might be considered racist or seen as stereotyping or fetishizing Black Women. Songs like 
"ISLAND GIRL" (1975)   "Shes black as coal/but she burn like fire/and she wrap herself around you/like a well worn tire/feel her nails scratch yo back just like a rake/ she one mo' gon'/ she want mo' john/ who make da mistake."

Or: "INDIAN SUNSET" (1971) which uses the slur "squaw"
"I take only what is mine lord/my pony, my squaw and my child."

Absolutely everything is problematic in this song. The pseudo "Indian" music, the stereotypes, the slurs....just...everything.

"Well, that fire-water you been drinking/makes you feel bigger/but chief you're shrinking/Now don't hand me that ole peace pipe/your squaw is on the warpath tonight."

Also "MY FATHER'S GUN" (1970) A song that is one of my favorites.  I have sung it in front of audiences at least 10 times. Madeline Bell even sings backing vocals for Elton on this song that seems to glorify the Confederacy.

"I laid his broken body down/below the Southern land/it wouldn't do to bury him/where any Yankee stands/I'll take my horse & ride the Northern plain/to wear the color of the greys & join the fight again/I'll not rest until I know the cause is fought & won."
 Bob Dylan, a staunch Activist , might have raised an eyebrow or two had he released "I WANT YOU" (1966)  today.

"Well, I return to the queen of spades/and talk with my chambermaid/She knows that I'm not afraid to look at her/she is good to me/she knows where I'd like to be."

Would PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS "INDIAN RESERVATION"(1971) get a pass? It seems to pay "homage" to Native Americans, but is rife with stereotypes.

How about Brian Hyland's "GYPSY WOMAN" (1970) or Cher's GYPSY'S. TRAMPS & THIEVES" or "DARK LADY" all of which stereotype & also use the derogatory term "gypsy" to describe the Romani people.  Also Cher's "HALF-BREED" which is multi-level problematic.

Thinking about the racial & ethnic connotations of these songs, the question becomes, where do they fit in today's consciousness, or do they fit at all? Does the climate of earlier decades excuse these songs? The answer is difficult & personal. The Civil Rights movement was just gaining momentum in the 60's & 70's. It is an ever evolving process, which we are still navigating today.  Back then we were just starting to make our voices heard and speaking up about systemic racism and deciding for ourselves what we would and wouldn't tolerate any longer.

"PRETZEL LOGIC" which started me back on this chain of thought, was released in 1974. I know I sang along with it, when it was first released. The lyrics seem ask the question I'm posing: "Those days are gone forever/they say times are changing/but I just don''t know."
I would like to think that today, Donald Fagan and the late Walter Becker would be "woke" & sensitive to the connotation of the word "minstrel".

Where we place these songs, is the conundrum. Some of these songs, for me are like time stamps of my life.  They bring back sense memories of good & bad times.I still sing some of these songs today, so this post by no means seeks to answer that qustion for anyone.  But make no mistake,  I have NO such ambiguity when it comes to the intentional Racism of a lot of  "Southern Rock". It gets a hard Nope with a side of Hell Naw for yesteryear, way back when, way, way back when & now....I'm still side-eyeing you, Brad Paisley and your "ACCIDENTAL RACIST"

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


2018 has started with great promise for a year filled with Black Excellence.  My First Reel of the New Year is 2018’s PROUD MARY. I thought I would start off the New Year with a Black Female driven film, since that is a truly rare occurrence.

Mary (Taraji Henson) has lived her life on a knife’s edge. As an Enforcer and assassin for her “families”, business interests, she has given her all to the people who “saved” her. They have become the only family that Mary has ever had.

When Mary finds herself obsessing about a job that went sideways, she starts to question her life. What’s missing? Is she still cut out for the “work” and will the family let her go?  In the end, it’s up to Mary to choose between the loyalty & a life she’s become accustomed to, or leaving it all behind to explore an entirely new part of herself.
PROUD MARY had me at Taraji P. Henson.  She delivered as usual. Sitting in a theater, watching a movie with a Black Female lead had my heart all a flutter. Even though it took place in the present, it harkened back to the 70’s and brought to mind movies like, SHAFT, SUPERFLY and FOXY BROWN.  Taraji as MARY, was complex, badass and totally Blackety Black!! Although it had some warm & fuzzy moments it didn’t fall back into “I must have that man” land, thank god. There were plenty of fast-driving, acrobatic shoot ‘em ups and suspenseful scenes, to satisfy any action movie fan. PROUD MARY had ALL the feels.
I’m wondering why SONY did so little promotion for PROUD MARY.  There was very little Hype. I saw the trailer, maybe four times before it was released. Unlike SONY’s film BABY DRIVER which was promoted ad nauseam.  I can’t speculate on the reasoning behind the lack of promotion, unless they are setting it up to fail. Maybe to prove that a Black Female Lead can’t be a box office draw.
I hope POC and Allies will show up to support PROUD MARY.  We have to put our money where our mouth is.
So, “BLACK PANTHER” and “A WRINKLE IN TIME”… I see you!!

Monday, January 1, 2018


I was aiming for an end of year post, but it has become a beginning of the year Post.  The deep snow and frigid temperatures have slowed me down to a sloth pace. Heavy blankets, thick socks and booze have been my saving grace.
I know 2017 was chock a blocka really rough stuff, I thought instead of focusing on Mandarin Manchurian Candidate and throwing 2017 under the bus, I would write about the things I was thankful for in 2017. The struggle is still real, but the things I'm grateful for, fortify me and give me strength for the fight ahead. So, in no particular order...
MUSIC: It kept me centered. kept me in touch with my emotions.  Was a constant source of hope. And of course, kept me dancing... and dancing.
BOOKS: I read some amazing books in 2017. Books are a gift. They're buses, trains, planes, spaceships, hiking boots, they take you all over the world and beyond. They stop time. Books keep me informed and curious.
FAMILY/FRIENDS: I am forever grateful to my supportive and loving friends & family. I accept the complicated, messy, funny, nostalgic and love filled relationships that started and continued in 2017.
DUBLIN: So thankful for my love affair with Dublin that started in 2011. It's become my go to place to get away from the history & stress of being a WOC in the U.S.I'm grateful to all the wonderful Irish musicians I have met, who allowed me into their circle of music. 
MADELEINE: I'm so blessed to have met Madeleine.A beautiful 60-something African woman from the Congo. She was sitting at a Bus Stop, waiting for the bus to take her to the hospital for physical therapy. She asked me for directions to a local clothing store. She had lost everything she owned in a fire that destroyed her home & put her in the Burn Unit of Mass General for 6 months. The bus was late and it was cold.  She had no mittens, so I gave her mine.  I helped her put them on, because the fire had also taken 8 of her fingers. She was still full of laughter and grace and kindness.  She gave me SO much more than I could ever give her. As my bus came, she asked my name and said "Bless you". Madeline has kept me grounded and helps me keep things in perspective.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Keanu Reeves, Pumpkin Cheesecake, #BlackTwitter, #BlackGirlMagic, Libraries

2018 will be the year of continuing to speak my mind while giving zero fucks. More books, more Travel, more creativity, more Resistance and sipping Tea.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bits & Bobs, New Chapters & Mystery Characters.

I thought I would try to get in a Blogpost before the end of summer.  Even though my schedule is the same all year round, summer seems to evoke a false sense of slowing down and an abundance of carefree moments...none of which is true.
For the most part it has been slow in the creative realm. Although I am always writing, always singing and always perfecting my drumming skills, actual paid work ebbs and flows, lately ebb is in the lead.
My documentary did finally get it's international & local premiere. A very long time coming. I must say the international premiere in Montreal was a much more satisfying affair.  Even though I was unable to attend, I was very well represented by photographer extraordinaire Reggie Hodges, who moved heaven and earth to get there.

The local premiere ended up reflecting the subject manner of the documentary.  I was so grateful for the people who showed an interest and did so with so much enthusiasm and lifted my spirits.

Where I go from here, is as always a work in  progress. But I'm looking forward to some musical endeavors I'm working on.

I have managed to find some quiet moments for one of my favorite pastimes, reading. I have just finished one of PATRICIA CORNWELL'S latest, CHAOS:

Dr. Kay Scarpetta finds herself looking over her shoulder while investigating the death of Eliza Vandersteel, a young woman found dead in a park. Kay is also dealing with past hurts and old rivalries bubbling to the surface during a visit from her sister. Past discoveries and current cases weave together to form new threats and Kay must untangle them before those she loves get caught in it's threads.

I have a bad habit of not reading books with recurring characters in order.  Sometimes it doesn't make a difference because the books can stand on their own.  Not in the case of the Kay Scarpetta books.  I have missed a few before this one, so I felt like I didn't know what was going on. Especially in the relationship between Kay and ,her friend/co-worker, Moreno. 
CHAOS was incredibly slow moving.  For me, it took almost 300 pages before it caught fire. I would still recommend sticking with it.  After the 300 pages it picks up steam and builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

Since it is almost the end of Summer and we are looking at the hibernation months (at least I am) I have compiled a list of my top ten ( Well I had a tie, so there is actually 11) favorite mystery  Series characters.  

1. Charlie Parker: By John Connolly
2. DI Lynley: By Elizabeth George
3. Ella Clah: By Tony Hillerman
4  Lincoln Rhyme: By Jeffrey Deaver
5. Blanche White: By Barbara Neely
6. DI Jimmy Perez: By Ann Cleeves
7. Lucas Davenport: By John Sanford
8.Temperance Brennan: By Kathy Reichs
9.Kay Scarpetta: by Patricia Cornwell
10. Lydia Chin/Bill Smith: By S.J. Rozan
11. Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter

So if you are looking for a mystery to cuddle up with in the dark winter months ahead, these'll do you.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Now that the hoopla has died down, I'm throwing in my two cents worth on ALIEN COVENANT (2017)
Ridley Scott has waded once again into the ALIEN franchise. First of all I really need some WOC Geek friends, 'cos  the theatre  was 99% white guys.
I'm a huge ALIEN franchise fan,  I remember when I first saw ALIEN.  I was plagued with nightmares for weeks.  I couldn't even turn my back to the bedroom door for fear I would be beset upon by Xenomorphs. My favorite installment is ALIEN V PREDATOR.  It was the best of both worlds, and of course it had the Black Girl Magic of Sanaa Lathan, surviving til the end of the movie to boot.

Now, the ALIEN franchise for me, lost it's way after ALIENS.  PROMETHEUS was a royal clusterfuck.  ALIEN COVENANT starts off in all the familiar ways. There's a ship, terra-farmers, a beacon which takes them off course...shortly after that it falls off a cliff.
If I can predict what happens moment to moment, why can't the ship's crew. ALIEN COVENANT lacked tension and suspense.  The slaughter was quick, no build up.  It was like everybody had better things to do, including the Xenomorph. The Xenomorph even took a back seat to Michael Fassbender's (David, Walter) having an endless, boring conversation/existential crisis with himself, while simultaneously chewing the scenery.

There was plenty of Blackcrifice. You'd think with this being only the 2nd ALIEN movie with a Black woman who actually speaks, they'd give us a little leeway.

Ridley Scott really needs to go back and watch ALIEN & ALIEN 2, because I think he's forgotten not only the plot-line, but everything that made the franchise the litmus test for great Sci-Fi movies.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


                                                photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This week's reel is 2017's "EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING":

Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) leads an extremely sheltered & insulated life due to a rare auto-immune disorder. Her only daily companions are her mother/Doctor (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera), until Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.
Funny, awkward, forward Olly, whose life, like Maddy's is a bit sheltered and cracked, opens up a yearning and a hopefulness that's both exhilarating and frightening for both of them.
Maddy & Olly embark on a journey to discover if their budding romance can survive the glass between them.

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING was uplifting, sweet, romantic and delicate. It made me breathe deeply and wax nostalgic. I was able to forget what lay beyond the movie least for an hour and half. EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING was mesmerizing and the chemistry between the two lead actors was palpable.
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING was...everything.

 I was excited to get out there and support a Film directed by a WOC. It's so important to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to this issue. Currency is what Hollywood understands. It was worth it and I look forward to Stella Meghie's next project!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


I finally managed to stay focused enough to get a Reel out this week. I'm gonna try to be more...ah never mind.  This week's Reel is 2016's "SPECTRAL"

In some not so distant future, America still finds it self involved in wars and civil unrest. In "SPECTRAL" the latest incarnation of the Army, has been called in to quell unrest in the country of Moldova. During recent skirmishes, soldiers and some civilians have been killed by an indescribable and brutal entity.
The Army is baffled and left with no defenses against this new enemy. They call in Dr. Cline (James Badge Dale) a brilliant and innovative scientist who has come to the aid of the Armed forces in the past. Dr. Cline must unravel the origins of the SPECTRAL force so he can turn the tide, before there is no one left to save.
Although a bit formulaic and having casting flaws, I quite liked SPECTRAL.  It was fast-paced, scary and suspenseful. It definitely took a page from the God of all Sci-Fi franchises, ALIEN, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Now did it pass my WMWOCA (Where my Women of Color At) test? NO! There were no women of Color at all. It's ridiculous and frustrating that WOC are still rarely cast in Sci-Fi & Fantasy movies. There were a few white women. One who worked for the Army, but not as a soldier. The fact that there were no female soldiers was really strange. There were two Black male characters (But we all know what that least Black people do...) I guess I wanted to hate SPECTRAL, but as far as being an entertaining Sci-Fi movie? It was. Does that mean that I have officially lowered my expectations for mainstream films?  Yes, but indie films had better get on board & take up the slack. Anyway, I'm looking forward to whatever Ava & Amma have coming up. They always pass the test! "Wrinkle In Time" anyone?