Saturday, February 27, 2010

Random Pics

Meeting Place
55th Street
To the Sky
The Only Way to Go is Up

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron - "I'm New Here" Release/Listening Party


The Fader, in conjunction with XL Recordings, held an album release/listening party for legendary Harlemite and poet Gil Scott-Heron at the American Folk Art Museum.  I was on the scene taking Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pop Chips and....of

I had to park myself near a speaker in order to really take in the music as the gallery space was open to regular visitors as well.  It was tough to hear over the chatter otherwise.  I was thoroughly pleased with what Mr. Scott-Heron has brought to the table.  The music is current and experiments with everything from Dub, strings and acoustic guitar to synthesized rhythm heavy tracks like "Me and the Devil".  Gil is as sharp as ever with words and his heavy vocals translate every trial and tribulation he's seen throughout his years.  


A trip to the Museums theater treated visitors to a 12 minute documentary on Gil's recording process.  The film is narrated by XL Recordings Founder Richard Russell.  This union is a prime example of fate at work as Russell was just a teen when when he first heard Gil Scott-Heron.  He never forgot Gil's influence and when the stars aligned on a meeting, he signed him and personally worked on putting "I'm New Here" together.

Gil will be performing live at the Blue Note on March 2nd and 3rd. He will be performing 2 shows on each day.  Tickets are $20.00 for bar seating and $35.00 for a table.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Westchester Ruff Ryders 5th Annual Trophy Party

Double R of Westchester is holding it's 5th Annual Trophy Party this Saturday in Yonkers.  Raffle giveaways include a Wii and a Blu-Ray player.  Advanced tickets are $10.00.  $15.00 and $20.00 at the door.  I'll be in the building taking photos.  Hope to see you there!

For more info, contact the Event Coordinator, Violet, at 914-562-0074.

K'naan for Coca-Cola and FIFA - "Wavin' Flag"

K'naan has come so far since The Dustyfoot Philosopher.  I remember listening to his first album and thinking that the industry would do everything in its power to keep him from going mainstream.  Maybe it's the fact that he's based in Canada.  It's most likely the fact that he's the realest thing to hit rap music since.....ever.

Coca-Cola commissioned K'naan to remix his song "Wavin' Flag" from his sophomore release "Troubador".  It was named the official song of the FIFA World Cup late last year.  Here is the video for the remix:

Fonzworth Bentley - "Fireside Chat"

Way to represent, Fonz!  Now, can we get a remix with Andre 3000?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Strange Fruit

Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, August 7th, 1930
It wasn't that long ago.

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

-Abel Meeropol

Talk to 'em...

My friend William wrote this in response to this question and comment:

Q: Shoud there be a white history month?
A: yes there should be... i want my fucking white history month... this month is gonna be fucking bullshit in school... slavery this slavery that... slavery's been over for over 140 years move the fuck on... *sigh* and im gonna hear the MLK bullshit every fucking year. i am simply tired of it

As much as statements like this grate on my consciousness, I had to deal with them all through college when addressing issues of diversity on campus, and I imagine statements and questions like this will arise every February from here to eternity in America.

First, statements like this shouldn't anger or surprise those of us who desire to promote multi-ethnic and/or multi-cultural awareness in this country. If anything, statements like those above affirm the need to teach and emphasize the stories of those in American history that have been overlooked, marginalized or trivialized. Statements like the above demonstrate the reality of history as it is taught in America and generally embraced: it is taught as if it is complete, accurate, unbiased, and true; and moreover, what is not included is not significant and/or is unimportant. This perception of American history as traditionally told as being "neutral" or "unbiased" is consistently revealed by those who complain about the viewpoints and emphases expressed regarding America's history during Black History Month, while seeing no problem with the "version" they are used to - the version they wish everyone else would just accept.

Second, statements like these reveal misunderstandings regarding the intent for Black History Week; which was subsequently expanded to Black History Month: that it is period of time to force feed historical information designed to spark feelings of guilt and blame down the throats of white Americans. 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history, as "history books largely ignored the black American population-and when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time" (Elissa Haney). Additionally, the psychological and emotional need for this cannot be ignored, as the benefit of being able to access information that affirms you as a human being cannot be overvalued versus a "story" that either through omission or distortion does nothing but reinforce ideas of inferiority that would then justify racism toward blacks/African-Americans.

Third, there is a truth to those statements that those who embrace the cause of promoting awareness must accept. With the adoption of Black History Month as a "national affair," some will feel it is forced upon them; but even with that, an opportunity to educate exists. It is important that the month does not simply focus on the stories that are typically repeated and of which people tire. Doing that is in itself, a disservice to Black History as it relegates it to only a few contributions and does not reflect the breadth and depth of Black/African American contributions. At the same time, however, the difficult of issues of slavery, etc., should not be glossed over because they are a scar on the American consciousness. If anything, that's the reason that they should be taught; as they are a contradiction to the American Ideals that are espoused and celebrated, and a reminder how we must judge our nation by its own doctrines and ideals as celebrated in our most prized documents -- The Declaration of Independence, The Preamble to the Constitution, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, etc.

Any actions instituted by and/or tolerated by our government and society that contradict these ideals should be met with disdain not only by the victims, but by all Americans as it's an affront to us all. Any histories or information that remind us how fragile America's ideals are should be embraced and used to encourage us to never stop the fight to see that America's ideals are realized. We cannot be so naive to believe otherwise. We must then examine our then examine the realities of living in America through the stories, past and present, of ALL of its citizens and American "history" should reflect that diversity. People should know that Japanese were placed in internment camps here in America and the multitude of other examples of America not fulfilling its ideals, and then challenge our leaders to make sure that these are not repeated, and that we continue moving our country closer to fulfilling its ideals.

Many apologies for jumping on my soap box. With all the above said, I look forward to celebrating this time with you, and appreciate all those who have shared. A couple of quotes to end this post:

What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one's heroic ancestors. -James Baldwin

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it. -James Baldwin