Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Everything I Miss At Home

Mood today. Everything I Miss At Home by Cherrelle. (You Tube link)

It's fun coming home, even if it's just for a few days. Love being spoiled by sleeping in, having non-stop food, and lounging on the back porch. And the weather in Detroit isn't that bad. Mid 70s, cool breeze, partly sunny. I should be a meteorologist, huh.

I'm taking part of this time putting the finishing touches on the edits for the next novel, Right Side of the Wrong Bed. My editor, John, gave me a few extra weeks because he's been overwhelmed with extra books he's had to take on. I don't mind the delay. It might push me back to an August or September 2007 release date, versus a June or July 2007 release, which is kinda okay. Not like I have a choice in the matter. But... I'm making mad progress on book three, and at the rate I'm writing (and hope to continue), there might be something ready for a Summer 2008 release. We'll see.

There's a lot I miss about home. I think a lot about summers with my family growing up. Going downtown to Belle Isle. Drinking Vernors pop. Not too many high school friends here anymore... they're all over the country now. But I don't really need them right now.

Just enjoying some down time with the people who always make me feel at home.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wknd Wrapup

Mood tune: Nicety by Michel'le (You Tube link)

Crazy good weekend. Spent my b-day on Sunset Blvd., listening to the tunes of Millie Jackson, Ashford & Simpson, and the best old school Chicago house music. Too bad hip hop displaced house on the club scene. Anyhoo, Sunset Junction festival was tons of fun. Spent time with my new best friend, Eric B., and it's always a treat hanging with him. Just a low-key fun day. Saw the Emmy Awards too.

Anyhoo, I'm still around. Will be heading to Detroit for a week to see my family. A last-minute end-of-summer time off.

Have any of you read Toni Morrison's Tar Baby? I picked it up over the weekend and will try and get through it in the next few...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Low Down on Sundown Towns

You've heard of "sundown towns" I'm sure.

Those places where, if you're black, Latino, gay, Asian Pacific, etc..., you better not set foot in after sundown... if at all. Or if you're there, you'd better get out.

Kinda like how the Katrina survivors were treated by neighboring towns after the hurricane a year ago. Or when you're driving back to college and know not to stop in "that town" for gas or food.

Yeah, those places.

This morning, I heard the most fascinating interview with Dr. James Loewen, author of a new book called Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.

The interview was on my morning fave, Front Page with Dominique DiPrima.

James Loewen talked about the spoken and unspoken practices towns used to keep people considered "different" out, but he also put several current areas in the United States on check for continuing the practice of restricting its real estate and living quarters to white only, explored the idea of white people leaving white suburbs for even whiter rural 'burbs, and what language codes are hidden in real estate listings and town papers.

Very fascinating interview. And of course, most of us know the places in our areas where we shouldn't be after dark because the residents don't want us there. If you don't know what areas have historically been "sundown towns" check out the interactive map. You probably have one near you.

And if you're not familiar with Dr. Loewen's work, your mind might be refreshed with this book title: Lies My Teacher Told Me. He wrote that book too, to correct the misinformation in a majority of our high school history textbooks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Leo Virgo Cusp


If you haven't listened to Feast of Fools podcast, you gotta listen. It's hi-LAR-i-OUS! Today's show, Osama Bin Ronnie, features Miss Ronnie from the show, and she's a riot! The whole show is a great companion for your ears and workday or commute!


So we're at one of my favorite times of the year, when so many people I know are celebrating birthdays... Keith Boykin in a few days, and my buddies Eric B. and Daryl G. and Helen D. and Intef W. and Rowena T., and yours truly. They aren't bloggers, so you can't see them today.

And for those on the Leo/Virgo cusp... and just plain Virgos, this is always a time of reflection and retrospection. Here are a few books that might help provide some perspective on birthdays and relationships... if you're into horoscope type books.

The Secret Language of Relationships by Gary Goldschneider

The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider

Black Sun Signs: African American Guide to the Zodiac by Theresa Balfour

Sexy Black Sun Signs: African Americans, Relationships, and the Zodiac by Theresa Balfour

I don't know if you believe what "they" say about your zodiac sign, but I tend to fall within many of the characteristics attributed to Virgos. What about you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sunset Junction

The Sunset Junction Street Fair is one of the annual festivals in L.A. that many people look forward to.

Part LGBT Pride, part neighborhood celebration, part homage to artists who've contributed to our musical lives, the SJSF will take place this weekend, August 26 and 27 in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Lots of people watching, dancing, and celebrating.

Looking forward to seeing Ashford & Simpson and Millie Jackson perform. And hanging with a few of my buddies. It'll be fun, especially on Sunday my birthday.

Now, just gotta find the right shorts and shoes to wear for the day... and night.

Monday, August 21, 2006

IDP in L.A.

Another club/promoter supporting the black LGBT community in L.A.

Ivan Daniel Productions, with Club Metro on Wednesdays (where you can also catch Noah's Arc on the big screen), and First Fridayz on well... the first Friday of the month.

Ivan's a cool guy. And was very supportive when I was promoting my novel last summer. He still is supportive and doing much to enhance the social scene in black LGBT L.A.

Good spots to visit while on your next visit to L.A.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

No More Country in L.A.

OK. So I'm probably the ONE black guy who listens to country music now and then. Not all of it. And that guy on the left is Charley Pride, the most successful black country music artist of all times.

Just a few artists, primarily female artists: Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill/Tim McGraw, and Lee Ann Womack. Well, Tim's a male. They make country cool, and they're progressive artists in the genre not promoting war or confederate "good ole days" lifestyles.

So every now and then I'd click on KZLA 93.9 in L.A. to hear an occasional song or two that I liked. Until this weekend, when I was greeted with the sound of J-Lo, Madonna, Nelly Furtado, and Black Eyed Peas. I figured it was just a station format change, like stations often do. Though I was a little shocked. It was the only country outlet in L.A.

Well, it WAS an official format switch (L.A. Times story). Again, not a major deal. Demographics are changing in major cities, and country does way better in places like Indiana and Nebraska and South Dakota. That's the theme of the news story.

However, one fan's response to the format change was quite eye-opening, and well just a little not too open-minded. As quoted in the L.A. Times story listed above, after Keith Urban transitioned into Black Eyed Peas, one listener said, "I almost threw up, I was so upset," said longtime KZLA listener and Mission Viejo resident Ruth Rogers, 53. "I think it's racist. This is becoming a nation of minorities... Country music promotes patriotism and family values, and they've replaced it with something that just promotes money and hate."

Uh, well I wouldn't go that far. But it does say a lot about what's really in the minds of some folks.

The good thing is that L.A. residents can still get their share of blues on KKJZ. Blues tells the same kind of stories as country, but with a little more diversity of listeners and artists.

But for the meantime, there's no more country in L.A.

Friday, August 18, 2006


So I know a lot of you already get Clik. But for those of you who don't, subscribe. It's a great magazine and definitely keeps you in the know.

And while you're at it, maybe think of subscribing to a few other magazines in addition to Clik. In addition to ad revenue, subscriptions add to the overall success of your favorite publications. It shows advertisers there is a long-term commitment from readers to the magazine.

In the meantime, head over to Durante Vita, where I'm blogsitting over the next week or so. I hope I do justice... his writing on life in L.A. is great! My buddy Durante is heading to Vancouver for a commitment ceremony/marriage to his partner, and then a week-long Alaskan cruise for a honeymoon. Congrats!

And if you're in L.A. this weekend, you might catch me at the African Marketplace and the Serafemme Queer Women of Color Music Festival.

Here's to a great weekend!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Forty Million Dollar Slaves.

Heard anything about this book?

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete by William C. Rhoden.

I just did yesterday morning, while listening to KJLH's Front Page radio show in L.A.

The book is an in-depth and academic look at the professional athletic scene, and makes the comparison that today's black athletes are the equivalent of yesterday's slaves in the U.S. South.

Except, of course, slaves had no multi-million dollar contracts, nor were they doing a job they aspired to do since childhood. However -- white ownership, black labor, the laborers entertain the masses, the owners have control. You be the judge.

I'm sure there's more, but this is just based on the little I heard of the book on the radio about the book.

Anyway, I haven't picked it up or read it yet. But it certainly sounds interesting.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Academy Award Potential?

At least according to Tom O'Neil's Gold Derby column with the L.A. Times.

That Dreamgirls is an odds-on favorite right now for Academy Awards gold in several categories, and that Jennifer Hudson (right) puts in an Oscar-worthy performance, much like Jennifer Holliday's Tony Award-winning performance in the stage performance of Dreamgirls. He all put predicts an Academy Award for Miss Hudson.

Of course, Dreamgirls will be one of many Oscar-worthy films released in November and December. Well, that's usually when the rush of awards contenders are released. And it's still early for absolute preditions without knowing the competition.

But we're hoping for good things from this film and tons of awards. And Rod shares that some good reviews are coming in for the film too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Performing Black Masculinity.

This is by my mentor/brother/friend, Dr. Bryant Alexander.

Peforming Black Masculinity: Race, Culture, and Queer Identity.

It's a remarkable set of linked essays on the African American male experience. Alexander picks a number of settings that highlight Black male interaction, sexuality, and identity — the student-teacher interaction, the black barbershop, drag queen performances, the funeral eulogy.

From these he builds a theory of Black masculine identity using auto-ethnography and ideas of performance as his base.

I think this will be a good addition to your libraries... especially when many of us question and critique the ways in which Black men perform gender and masculinity in contemporary settings, including the LGBT scene.

Jump at the Sun

Been hearing a lot of good stuff about this novel.

Jump at the Sun by Kim McLarin.

Explores the life of an academic who seems to have it all. House in the suburbs. Wonderful kids and husband. A few generations away from Jim Crow, segretation, and slavery, and she's appreciative of all her past generations have done to provide a shoulder for her to stand on. Still, questions and moments of reflection remain.

I read Kim McLarin's first novel, Taming It Down, a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Jump at the Sun is her third, and her publisher is pushing it as her "breakout" novel. So far it's doing well on the charts.

But with breakout success, however that's defined, come questions about what it means to be dubbed "universal" by critics (interview here).

Certainly, those are questions all of us in the arts -- whether it's literature, music, or the stage -- think about as we pursue our dreams.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Young. Restless. A Cry Week.

Ok. I know there are bigger issues in the REAL world. With that in mind...

A lot is "off" with Young and the Restless in recent weeks -- reliquaries from the Holocaust/Nazi era, swooshing sounds between scenes, spiritual quests, re-invented histories of core characters we've seen for 20+ years, Detroit Gloria and her hoodrat sons getting away with all sorts of crimes, Phyllis and Nick getting the rewards of their affair, Neil leaving Dru for a woman at the office?

This is Y&R, not one of the sci-fi thriller daytime dramas. Long-time fans of the show like it s-l-o-w like it's always been. Hope this phase is over soon.

But the one thing Y&R has done, unlike any other daytime drama, is highlight core families and history. The Newmans, Abbotts, and Chancellors have been front and center for a long time.

This week, if you haven't watched in a while, a major character will no longer be with us. Not gonna say who, in case this is a spoiler for you. The crying-action started Friday and will continue through the end of the week. Several characters from the past are coming back to say goodbye, tons of flashbacks from 20+ years ago, so I think it's the real thing... but with daytime drama, you never know.

It's never over until the next head writer comes along to change things up again.

Serafemme: Queer Women of Color Music Festival

If you're in the L.A. area this weekend, stop by West Hollywood Park for the 2nd annual Serafemme Queer Women of Color Music Festival.

Sponsored by Out & About, a very active social network of queer women of color, this event will feature artists such as Alison de la Cruz, Angie Evans, Ricoshard, Nadirah Shakoor, Gia, DJ Nova Jade, Red Summer, and more.

The music festival takes place Sunday, August 20, 2006 from 12 noon to 6 pm. Men are welcome to attend and show some love. And then afterwards, everyone can join the after party at The Abbey, which is adjacent to the West Hollywood Park and festival location.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Natalie Cole's Leavin'

September will be a busy music-buying month. Add this one to your shopping cart.

Natalie Cole. Leavin'.

Heard the first single, Daydreaming. It's good. An update of the Aretha Franklin version.

Last year, I got to see her perform in L.A. at the Hollywood Bowl and wrote about it.

I hope this will be another unforgettable project.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Random Stuff Saturday

About a week ago I picked up this new strawberry diet pepsi jazz in the grocery.

And it's delicious! My new favorite drink. I'm not a huge soda person, but this is definitely bringing me into the soda marketplace. Yum.

So spending a random weekend at home doing a little bit of nothing and something.

Slept in until 11, which was always a no-no in my household growing up. We were expected to be up and doing chores, homework or something, vacation or weekend or whatever. But this morning I needed to sleep in after having a late night at a friend's birthday party. Fun party.

Random "Daddy Mix" on iTunes at the gym (songs/artist my dad liked):
Who's Making Love by Johnny Taylor,
You'll Never Find by Lou Rawls,
When Somebody Loves You Back by Teddy Pendergrass,
Make Yours a Happy Home by Gladys Knight and the Pips,
Cheaper to Keep Her by Johnny Taylor,
Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock,
Make it Funky by James Brown,
Face it Girl (It's Over) by Nancy Wilson,
Guess Who I Saw Today? by Nancy Wilson,
Boogie On Reggae Woman by Stevie Wonder,
Sweet Sixteen by B.B. King,
Paying the Cost to be the Boss by B.B. King,
Is it Still Good to Ya by Ashford and Simpson

Back to writing. Some days I think writing sucks. Then some days I really love it. Today is a mixed day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Writing. Connecting. In The Meantime.

Want to give major LOVE to the guys at In The Meantime Men's Group in L.A.

In The Meantime is an organization doing work to raise awareness about health, self esteem, community building, and other issues important to those who embrace being black and gay.

Jeffrey King, executive director, invited me to facilitate a writing workshop -- True Life Stories -- for the group on Tuesday this week. I did a fun exercise that helped trigger memories at various points of the participants' lives, they wrote, and then shared their true life stories. It was amazing the things people shared and wrote about.

It's nice having a group like In The Meantime here in Los Angeles, where the black, gay community can bond, connect, and learn from each other. They're doing great work...

Including a Black Men's Health Conference on Saturday at USC (University of Southern California) and a free weekend retreat in Malibu in September. And weekly meetings on Tuesday evenings, which I attend whenever my schedule permits. Check out the organization website for more information.

Thanks Jeffrey and company for making me feel at home. Though small in numbers, compared to the larger population shifts in L.A., there is indeed a place for black, gay community to embrace and affirm each other.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tiny Meat.

Tiny Meat.

Not exactly the words you want used to describe you... or the man of your dreams.

But we're not talking THAT kind of tiny meat. We're talking Tiny Meat. The designers of cute wallets, iPod holders, passport holders, and other tiny items to hold your tiny stuff.

Discovered them the other day while visiting my local neighborhood stationery & bookstore in Pasadena, Vromans. Checked out the Tiny Meat website today.

Just love that name. Makes me giggle. Tiny Meat. The store. The blog.

OK. Now back to the real world. And for some not-so-tiny meat, uh, well you know what sites you can go find that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006



Monica is back. September 26... or 19th. Depending on the source.

I'm usually the last to know these things. Thanks to one of my students, I'm in the loop. For a change.

We like Monica. And we like the new single Everytime Tha Beat Drop.

Makes me wish it was Saturday night... instead of Monday morning.


Saw a great movie this weekend. Quinceanera.

Set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park, the film explores a family coming together around a young woman's (Magdalena) coming out party at age 15 (i.e. quinceanera), but falling apart around personal and social issues affecting the neighborhood.

Well, not falling apart, but facing the new realities of their neighborhood. Gentrification and white gay couples moving in, "improving" things, and changing the dynamics of the neighborhood and the residents who'd been there long before.

Teen angst and love affairs. How men of color, particularly young Latinos, get exoticized/lusted over by the folks moving into their neighborhoods. How gentrification affects older people who feel at home in their places, but because they're renting, don't have the stability the newcomer buyers have.

So much going on in the film. But in a very good way.

And it's the story of what's happening in Echo Park, soon to be Boyle Heights/East L.A., and I'm sure in your part of the country too. Looking a the process of displacement and how it affects families.

Anyway, go see Quinceanera if you can. I think you'll enjoy it!

Friday, August 04, 2006


Oh, this isn't another Noah's Arc entry. But set your TIVO for the season premiere on August 9 -- next week. Love the connections between the characters. Looking forward to the new season.

Not much to write about today.

But here's some goodies I'm reading online lately:

The Book Bitches. A fun and opinionated site on books, men, and other things I think we like... or don't like. Right now they're discussing the novel Dirty Girls Social Club, one of my all-time favorites.

Monica Jackson. A fun and opinionated site on books, race and ethnicity, and other things I think we talk about among friends. Something new and exciting there everyday... and her books are among my faves too. Have two in my collection and they're great reads.

The Brainwash Cafe. Where you can read, among other topics, The Ten Best Blogs for a Sexier You.

I Who Writes. Like a bookstore/coffeeshop online. Very soothing site on books, writing, and other related topics.

Hoodsworld. OK. Not a new site, but there's something new posted everyday. Mostly eye candy of beautiful black men. It's a work-safe site. Well, at my work it is. I wanna know who this guy is. Hmmmm.

Happy surfing. Happy Friday.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pride in the City. Brooklyn.

Last year I went to the Pride in the City events in Brooklyn/NYC.

It was by far the best experience I've ever had at a pride celebration. And that's saying a lot. I've been around the world and I-I-I... there's nothing like that I've experienced. Shared that a lot with my friend David from People of Color in Crisis, the group that organizes PITC.

Some prides emphasize the party circuit exclusively. Some try to emphasize the educational and pride pieces. Pride in the City did it all, and did it all so well!

It'll continue to do it so well, too. Pride in the City takes place this weekend, starting August 3 - August 6.

With that said, looks like the powers-that-be don't want to support the showstopper event of the whole Pride in the City weekend... the Sunday beach party. Take a look at Keith Boykin's site for more details and updates on the Pride in the City beach party situation.

On another note, last year was my time visiting NYC. Thank God I wrote a novel, because I probably never would have made it there. I had Daniel with me on most of my book tour, and he was a true blessing and help. That gig with me opened up another gig with Maurice Jamal, and now, Daniel is a NYC/Brooklyn resident and striking out on his own. I'm so happily jealous, because I sooooooo want to live in NYC. This pic is from a few days before he headed east.

I just hate packing. Moving. Searching for places to live. I'm happily lazy like that when it comes to moving.

Good luck Brooklyn boys in making the weekend happen, especially the beach thing. I know it'll be a blast! And roll out the welcome mat for Daniel, too!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is He or Isn't He?

Certainly that's the question a lot of us asked ourselves, in our angst-filled teenage years.

And it's probably on our minds at this time of our lives, as we try and figure out what side of the fence our crush o'the day is on... whether he's from our gym, the bodega down the street, or the one who delivers packages to the office in the brown shorts and brown truck.

It's fun wondering. It's fun having a crush.

For the young adults in our lives, the novel Is He or Isn't He?, might be a good addition to their personal libraries.

It's a novel written by someone I know, John Hall, and just came out a few weeks ago.

It's about typical high school best friend pair -- gay boy/straight girl -- as they set their goal on getting boyfriends in the next year, all the while wondering about the boys they compete over and like... Is He or Isn't He? And do these characters compete!

Well, main characters of novel, and young adults... the question never goes away. But it sure is fun stumbling and trying to figure out along the way.