Monthly Archives: June 2011

“Seriously, Take the Metro”…but know what you’re in for.

Public transportation definitely has its advantages.  In a city where morning rush hour lasts from about 6:30 to 10 a.m., and the afternoon/evening rush kicks off around 2 and lasts until somewhere near 8ish, public transport is your best bet for not losing your mind and your morals.  Day in and day out, you’re stuck behind an endless trail of red lights, you’re among a cacophony of bad brakes, and shitty ambient radio.  It can be pretty hellish.

My first job here was located in Tyson’s Corner – way the fuck out in McLean,Virginia.  Not so far when you’re traveling down I-66 on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, with an ice cold sweet tea and your elbows out the windows.  The work commute though, was some bullshit.  You see, because Virginia is a little different from DC and Maryland; life moves slower out there.  And folks get traffic-confused more easily, and succeed in navigating traffic more stupidly.  I promise I’m not shittin on the state of Virginia, just its drivers.

I’m convinced that the only way to avoid the powder keg that is DC traffic is to avoid it altogether.  After the Washington Nationals stadium was built, people complained tirelessly about how bad traffic and parking were.  In response, some fella wrote a column titled, “Seriously, Take the Metro.”  I completely agree.

…except that there’s some shit you gotta be ready for if you plan to metro.  As a matter of full disclosure, I don’t really mess with the Blue, Yellow, or Orange lines.  My points of reference are Red and Green Lines — Northwest DC/Maryland down to Southeast DC/Prince George’s County.  I get the entire gamut of crazy.  Here are a few of my recent observations and few suggestions.  You know, because I care.

  • Gentrification isn’t pushing through Anacostia and Congress Heights fast enough.  Say what you want about the people and the unfairness and the blah blah blah.  Many of the cats that get on the train and off the train at Anacostia and Congress  Heights aint shit.  They may have jobs, and they may have children, and seem, for all intents and purposes, “normal.”  They aint though.  They will shank you if you cross them.  Don’t fuck around with this stop;
  • There’s always a guy who’s determined not to hold on to anything to keep himself from shifting and almost falling.  He’s unwisely adopted the “I’mma just stand real wide and plant myself” method of metrorailing.  Eventually, he and his humongous backpack will bump you.  And you will hate him.  Because all his simple ass had to do was hold the fuck on to something.  Something more reliable than his ill-conceived center of gravity;
  •  Were I to judge DC’s young Black male population by its metro riders, I’d assume…nevermind.  I love my people.  But I’ll say this:  Young brothas, these raggedy dred locs, skinny jeans, and extra big sneakers need to be reconsidered.  And post-haste, please;
  • I don’t care how badly you need to get to wherever you goin, you must acknowledge that sometimes the train is too fucking full.  There is no room for you!  And your bag, and your golf umbrella.  Another train comes  in 3 minutes.  Wait for it!
  • On average, the rail cars on the metro are about 98% Black once they pass through L’Enfant Plaza.  On Nats game days, white people heed the columnist’s warning and smash themselves into the mix.  It makes for a very uncomfortable ride, as most of the Black people seem prepared for a quiet ride home after long day at a job they hate.  The game goers on the other hand, are typically rambunctious, a little tipsy offa life and light beer, and completely unaware of the sanctity of personal space.  The young white fella don’t know it, but he is always about 30 seconds away from a “sick and tiiiiied” Black woman going the fuck off if he bumps her one.  mo.  time.
  • And finally, with regard to the most egregious offense:  contrary to what y’all mighta been thinking, that device you got from Boost Mobile or Cricket Wireless is NOT a radio.  If you don’t plug some earphones into that shit…  There hasn’t been a song created that sounds good enough to be blasted on centimeter-sized mobile phone speakers.  And if there was  one, WE DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT FROM YOUR CENTIMETER-SIZED MOBILE PHONE SPEAKERS anyway.  Plug some headphones into that shit.
Many thanks for your indulgence.  I want y’all to take the Metro.  I also need y’all to be prepared.  You know, because I care.
Advertisements

Lil Multicolored Lies

The truth is like success and happiness.  we say we want it.  we say we need it.  we say we’ll accept nothing less than it.

but is that even true?  isn’t such a position more hopeful, more idyllic, than realistic?

every day we see information, and we process it.  and then we decide what to do with it.  right?  don’t you choose what to tell?  how much to tell?  and who to tell?  i mean, does everyone deserve to know everything?  does anyone?  to know everything?  aren’t all rights reserved to you with what you know?  and what you share? and aren’t you entitled to determine how what you hold enters common space?

we claim we live in truth, that we must live in truth.  but do we ever define truth? better yet, how do we define truth?  isn’t it more relative than absolute?  isn’t yours different from mine?  and if yours is different from mine, then i’m counting on you to accept mine, aren’t i?  i’m counting on you.  to be open.  to be receptive.   to be unafraid.  to be reasonable.  to abandon your natural inclination to write-off the unknown and the unfamiliar.  it’s a hell of a risk.  and the truth is, many of us aren’t evolved enough yet to evaluate our role in the telling of a lie.  of course you, yourself, might notta told it, but the way you typically handle difficulty coulda made a managed truth the best — nay, the only logical option.

i’m convinced that “truth” is rational choice theory* in action, in real time.

as the teller, i must weigh the cost(s) of what i gotta say?  i gotta consider what the benefit is to you?  or to me?  thus, knowing the answer to these questions gives me the right to withhold, if necessary, where necessary.  I don’t mean lie — or maybe I do.  Because folks want truth but know full well they don’t handle honesty well.

and in that case, why put myself through the torture?  because it’ll set me free, you might pollyannaishly intone.  and you might be right.  but you could be wrong.  The question then becomes:  how much do i gain if you’re right?  but how much might i lose if you’re wrong?

Either way, at least i got my health, right?  …since we tossin around feel-good idioms and shit.

No.  not right.

perhaps the well-placed, well-intentioned lie is more valuable than the oft-touted and seldom seen “living in truth.”  Shit’s real out here.  and cats mean to practice self-preservation at all costs.  that’s the truth.  the ultimate “truth.”

*Yes, Rational Choice Theory (RCT).  I’m a scholar out this bitch.  Deal with it.


The Hangover Part II: A Sobering #Fail

Yeah...no.

I saw The Hangover Part II a couple weeks ago, and left the theater with one lesson:  know when to leave well-enough alone.

The forthcoming rant isn’t an assault on sequels in theory.  Nope.  This is the indictment of an idea — the idea that because something works once, then we must milk it til it’s dry.  If you haven’t seen The Hangover Part II yet, but you’ve seen the first one, then you’ve seen enough already.  Save your coins for Bridesmaids instead.  In the battle of girl funny vs. boy funny, the ladies win this one hands down.

I generally like the concept of the sequel.  It’s like an addendum to the original.  And in that capacity, I look forward to the ways in which the sequel advances the core story;  I expect that it’ll provide depth and background and context.  I don’t even understand the utility of making the same movie twice.  But maybe it’s me.  I’ve been no stranger to expecting too much of muhfukas.

However, is it really too much to expect that a movie as outrageously hyped as The Hangover Part II  and released on the first weekend of Summer should be worth your time away from the sun?  Worth you being crammed next to the over-laughers who missed The Hangover the first time around?  These are the cats who mean to make-up the social points they lost having nothing to add to the “you remember that part when…” conversation from ’09.  In case you’re still on the fence about whether the movie is worth it, let me be clear about it:  Your time would be better spent plucking chin hairs than watching The Hangover Part II.

I can admit to being a “serious” person at times, desiring more wit than slapstick, favoring substance over sheen.  But I’ve learned that everybody aint bout that life.  Indeed, folk still laugh at a naked ass — just because it’s naked, and at monkeys who smoke cigarettes.  I’m not saying those things can’t be funny.  But I mean, do you laugh as hard the third time you hear the same knock-knock joke?  Oh you do?  Ugh, fuck you then.  Good for you.

I suppose a movie and it successors should be similar in a sense — they should share common threads to keep us invested.  But shouldn’t they also have to ante up on creativity?  Adding a corner boy monkey and more camera time for the Asian dude wasn’t a good enough stretch.  Neither  was reworking the “Alan’s a little off” shtick, extending the grace period on Zach Galifianakis’s fifteen minutes of fame.  I adore Galifianakis and the offbeat thing he’s made hilarious elsewhere.  But in Hangover Part II, it’s only moderately funny followed closely by moderately annoying.

Sure enough, soon enough you start to feel a bit played because these cats done definitely suckered you for your $9 — the cost of the fucking matinee.  Yep, Galifianakis, the small Asian, and the monkey are all part of an elaborate ruse designed to distract you from recognizing that this movie should never have been made.  Or better yet, that it was already made.  And you’ve already seen it, and they just got you for $9 all over again.  Mmhmm, I’m still bitter about it.

I believe our culture suffers from an inability to let a good thing stand on its own, for its own time.  If it works, then we will duplicate it and market it into oblivion.  If it’s a song, it will eventually show up in a movie, on a t.v. show, in a commercial, and potentially in a singing fucking Hallmark card.  And sometimes all at the same time.  It’s disgusting.  Contemporary wisdom seems to suggest that a thing doesn’t have to be both new and improved because somebody with questionable taste will buy it anyway.  In its every form .  Even if the product turns out to be little more than a shitty, second-rate knock-off of the original.  Sort of like what Ashanti and Plies did to The Deele’s “Two  Occasions” — shit is unsavory, man.  Downright disrespectful.

So join me, friends and patriots, in standing for standards.  Demand that the producers of our entertainment create something, I don’t know, creative.  Or, at the very least, genuinely funny.  Or, at the even more very least, cheaper during matinee hours.

That smoking monkey mighta been a little funnier at $5 a ticket.


*Insert Weiner Joke Here*

Chyle please...

So the so-called “beltway media” and congressional democrats are all aflutter over New York congressman Anthony Weiner sexting his  junk to all of twitter.  As a result, Weiner is now under investigation for congressional ethics violations, and there has been quiet but persistent rancor calling for Weiner’s resignation.  If you’ve ever seen Representative Weiner do his thing, you know he probably won’t resign (which has been his stance so far), and if he does, he definitely won’t go quietly.

I read recently that Weiner called former president, Clinton, to … get some … advice(?) on how an elected official goes about repairing his image after being caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Or, in Weiner’s case, tweeting a d*ck pic to said cookie jar.  I imagine Clinton gave him sage advice, something akin to, “be straight with the American people, Weiner.  And do your job so well that this unfortunate incident quickly becomes part of your past.  But most importantly, make sure your professional accomplishments speak more prominently than your personal mistakes.”  I imagine that was the conversation on the record.

Off the record, Clinton’s voice is my own.  And the conversation would start more like this:  Word, Weiner?!  You really out here dm’ing pictures of you in your underwear to your twitter followers?!  Son.  SON!

I’d deride him endlessly about the thirstiness of his actions.  The grossness of perusing your tweedeck interface and coming across Anthony Weiner’s stiffness in his lil underroos in your direct messages is not to be understated.  Shit is unsavory, man.  Unsavory.

But then we’d talk.  The way I like to talk to my friends.  I’d say with all the power in me that:  Weiner, you better not fucking resign.  Work on repairing, if necessary and possible, your relationship with your wife and then get back to the business of doing your job.

Because in America, we live in a land of make-believe.  On some level, we still think we share a common thread with the Puritan ass Pilgrims that arrived at Plymouth Rock eleventymillion years ago.  We stay smashed up somewhere trying with all our might to not be the people we are; to not see our reflection in society’s mirror.

Collectively, we turn our noses up at innately human behaviors because, collectively, we’re a nation of prudes — but only in public though.  How many of you would let me into your internet browser or credit card history from the last six months?  I wouldn’t tell nobody your lil secrets.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d find you more interesting now that I know your dirty business dealings.   Moreover, I wonder how many of us logon to porn.whatever for a morning, afternoon, and/or evening fix.  I bet it’s more of us than we’d suspect.

Because in public, we pretend that the only sexual activity we know, like, or accept is that which we (individually) know, like, or accept. Anything else is condemned as a “perversion” for which you must submit to public judgement, feel sufficiently ashamed, and apologize profusely.  Fuck that.  To what and to whom, and to what degree you “owe” in this life is for you to decide.

In college, I participated in a debate about whether one’s private life (and private “perversions”) should preclude one from participating in leadership positions, i.e. running for president, serving as Miss University X, or leading a people to their respective promised land. I’ll never forget the boy with the lisp saying, “well, what if Miss Tuskegee was a skrippa? What about that?” I remember thinking that the chicks that was strippin to pay tuition, then, might finally feel some camaraderie out this mug.

I’m not saying all private “perversions” can be as innocuous as stripping or sending salacious text messages.  To be sure, there are some that are outright disqualifications for any meaningful position leading anything or anybody.  And if the ideological positions one espouses on a frequent basis are in direct opposition to the way one lives his or her private life, then that’s the shit to be ashamed of.  I’d be much more upset with Anthony Weiner if he was on a soapbox crusade against inappropriate twitter behaviors or declared himself a steward of family values.  And then once his hypocrisy had been revealed,we also found out he screwing his lil district all the way up.

Unlike previous politicians (mostly conservative-leaning ones) caught with their pants down, tongues wagging, and tail between their legs, this isn’t the case for Rep. Weiner.  I really couldn’t care less about who he sends pics of himself to.  I do care, for example, if he mishandles New York’s tax dollars to cover up some shit that’s not our business anyway.  I also care that he lied so easily about what happened.  And now it just feels smarmy and gross.  I now like the guy less because he handled his situation like a bitchass — lying and shit about being hacked.  And then cryin and carryin on when he felt the uncomfortable and incessant throb of conscience.  Ugh.

I don’t think he should resign because he can stand on professional principle; the  people he represents seem perfectly fine with his performance thus far.   And if they aren’t, then they get to register their discontent at the voting booth.  He shouldn’t be railroaded out because of a personal and private decision.  Albeit stupid and ill-advised, Weiner’s crime is victim-less in the scope of his actual job.  That wife situation though?  That’s gon’ require some explaining, Sir.

I really loathe the passive aggressive judgement many of us get off on.  It’s like judgement is our national porn, and we make sure we log into it for a fix multiple times daily.  We hold regular ass human beings to ridiculous standards that many of us, ourselves, can’t live up to. And we’re so audacious about it.  Newt Gingrich had the nerve to be bombast in his disappointment about Clinton’s Lewinsky affair at the same time that he was stoking his own extramarital affair.  The hypocrisy is at once astounding and laughable.

As for Representative Weiner, I believe he’ll weather this storm and come out on the other side just as beautifully flawed as the rest of us.  Besides, surely there’s a closeted gay conservative somewhere tempting fate each time he calls up the discreet male escort service.  Sooner or later, he’ll get caught up soliciting an undercover cop in an airport men’s room and try to play his “I’m a member of Congress card.”  And when that moment comes, I plan to fully tap into our national porn.  I definitely wanna watch that guy squirm.  I wanna rewind it, and slow mo it.  And then watch it again.


How We Love

…is a song by Gretchen Parlato, introduced to me by the only person for whom I’d pass up an evening with Quentin Tarantino’s record and red wine collection.

How We Love is but one verse and one refrain.  If it speaks to you though — if it addresses how you love your Love, one verse and one refrain is all you need.

If it speaks to you.

When I was a kid, I usedta lie in bed at night listening to my walkman, hoping one day I’d know the kinda love that Boyz II Men and them usedta be singin about.  Back then, I liked the songs but I couldn’t tell you why.  They definitely made me feel a kind of way, but I wasn’t sure why or how or what about.  I remember hearing Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last” and asking my mama if folks really sang about what they felt or if it was all made up, just something to record so the people might like it, and buy it.  I grew up concerned about whether or not the cats from 2 Live Crew really were like dogs in heat, freaks without warning?  Did they really prefer their ladies face down, and ass up?  I wondered:  what about her face, Uncle Luke?  What’s wrong with her face?

In all fairness, I can’t compare cats famous for “Me So Horny” with a tender songstress.  It’s condoms apples and oranges; it’s wrong.  It’s just wrong.

Today, many years removed from wishful thinking about love, what I can comfortably speak to is the redeeming, the spiritual, the fortifying power of love, and of love songs.  Unfortunately, much of what’s currently marketed to mainstream audiences has little to do with love.  Mainstream music created after the New Jack Swing era and the R&B roaring nineties is almost completely devoid of real feeling.  It processes virtually every emotion through the filter of sex.  In 2011, love equals sex after someone pays consistently for both the dinner and the movie; and tenderness is sex set to the soulful sounds of your dopest Trey Songz mix.   Y’all be makin love faces nshit.  Good ol love faces.  That’s tenderness, right?

I roll my eyes at so-called Songz, but I get it.  I get what y’all get out of it.  I need more though.  I need a girl with a voice like Gretchen Parlato’s.  To sing the single verse and the single refrain.  Because I feel that she felt “slowing down creates such a beautiful melody/sounds up in the sky all realize/that you and I will go on and on/and on and on/and on…and oh how you love me/oh how we love.”  Yes, yes.  We will go on and on.  I feel it too, girl.  I don’t just get it.  You see the difference?

Listen:

Most of what speaks to me is old.  Like 60s, 70s, and 80s old.  Because them hairy chested, big bearded cats like Teddy Pendergrass and The Whispers understood love (which also could have been substituted for sex, but done so with much more class than these contemporary cats can muster).   And they sang it from the soul.  I don’t know if y’all know Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes like that, but you should.  “I Miss You” is so motherfucking soulful.

Listen:

you can look at my eyes and see/ that a great big man like me has been/cryin,cryin,cryin/cryin my soul and heart out to you…

Like, I miss her for him.

My folks listened to a lot of The Stylistics, The Spinners, The Whispers, and Heatwave.  I came to more diverse soul music a little later in life, largely thanks to @shutupandsing — the only person for whom I’d pass up an evening with Quentin Tarantino’s record and red wine collection.  Because I’m convinced hers is slightly mo’ betta than his.

Although I grew up sort of  ’round-about knowing Aretha Franklin, I was really introduced to the Queen of Soul around 4 years ago.  And I challenge you, too, to not feel this.  2:51-3:30, specifically.

Listen:

And if you don’t feel it, you are in fact soul-less.  Some people just are.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Or maybe it is.  No judgement.  But probably, there’s judgement.

One day during one of those sessions where there’s music and smoke and cold, cold wine, I wished to redo 1974-1978.  I wished to be part of one of those basement parties with the blue lights, where brothas and sistas rocked big ass afros, or sistas worked a feathered Farrah Fawcett better than Farrah herself did.  Indeed, one of them joints where Black 80s babies were likely conceived.  I imagine Soul and afro sheen to be the most salacious of aphrodisiacs during that era.  And in all seriousness, how were you not givin it up whilst slow winding in the almost-dark as Cameo’s “Sparkle” spins?

Listen for yourself:

I get particularly amorous around 2:12, and it only gets better from there.  The brotha sings, “you make me wanna love you.”  Yaaaaaaas…

I think what I hate most about contemporary music is the way it dismisses love, or dilutes it to get to the sex.  You’re right, love is not a necessary component of sex, but love is intimacy.  It’s those moments when time is defined succinctly as either sun-up or sun-down, because the minutiae of minutes, seconds, and hours are trite compared to what goes down between them.  Without question, intimacy makes sex so much more than “love” faces.  It makes music so much more than verses and choruses, and life much more than “day in and day out.”  Intimacy gets all up in your shit.  It’s when head and heart unzip breeches and unclasp brassieres, and feels nothing like regret the morning after.

I love love, and I love love songs.  I’ve tried to give you a lil taste here.  But there’s one song in particular that has always risen a bit above the rest.  Its lyrics are outrageous, as are the cats’ mustaches, but the sentiment is fucking perfection.  The song is “Say Yes” by the Whispers.  My parents LOVED this song, and so do I.  Listen closely for the following lyrics:

  • I wanna soak into you like rain/make love until my energy drains/and as lust erases all shame/you’ll scream my name/out of pleasure not pain/if you just say yes

AS LUST ERASES ALL SHAME!!

  • …ooh like raindrops on a flower/come bathe in my love shower/then let me blow/your body dry/kiss the tears from your sexy eyes…

LET ME BLOW YOUR BODY DRY?!  Say word.  Blow it dry??

  • I wanna build/you a dream home/made of love not just wood and stone/give you the deed to all that I own/give you love beyond limit/give you babies in our image…

Give you the deed to all. that.  I.  own.

Listen:

Now, if any regular somebody carried on like this, I’d be mad skeptical.  We don’t love this way, nor do we talk about love this way anymore.  But we should.  We definitely should.

As an epilogue to this great literary work, please find LTD below.  And simply let it play.

You’re welcome.

With love,

M.A.G.