Monthly Archives: July 2005

Weekend Words

Quote of the Day: “Now let’s all get baked like Anita… It’s a Saturday…” — De La Soul, “A Roller Skating Jam Called ‘Saturdays'”

Mimi, Mary, MAYA!: Singer and actress Maya Days (Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar), a very good buddy of mine, is shining in a new off-Broadway show about the music biz called Once Around the Sun. She’s her usual bubbly, outspoken self when Andrew Gans gives her the “Diva Talk” Q&A treatment over at If you’re a theater head like me, you should check it out…

The Mraz Supremacy: I got the new Jason Mraz CD in the mail. As much as I loved his debut Waiting For My Rocket to Come, I truly wasn’t looking forward to the follow-up because I hated the first single with a passion. I usually hate any artist’s sophomore release where they have to talk about the status of their career or how their life has changed or how people hate them or love etc etc. Of course your life is different. Of course there are haters out there. Tell it to your therapist. We don’t care. Just get on with it and build on what brought you fans in the first place. Then I listened to Mr. A-Z, and once I was immersed in the sly uptempo opening track “Life Is Wonderful”, I was just about wide-open again. The sweetest little alto in the music biz is back, along with the sometimes too-clever-for-words internal rhyme schemes and heady lyrics that made the debut so smart—but this time star producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Mathews) has provided Mraz with a luscious backing sound that swings from alt-rock angst to lovely ballads in seconds and never flags, never gives Mraz time to get too self-satisfied. Yeh, he’s still doing some of his white-slacker-rapper-boy schtick but it feels so organic to who he is that it’s excusable, and it’s OK to be the Smartest Boy on the Charts if you can create pop music this supple and fun and elastically exuberant, and write such touching cuts as “Bella Luna” and “Mr. Curiousity” and “Plane”. And, as with “Geek In the Pink”, if you can write & sing the best I’m-a-Nerd-and-I’m-Proud dance track I’ve ever heard. Yes, you read that right: a Proud-Nerd dance track, as in Nerds Will Love You Better. And you believe him…

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Think Link

Quote of the Day: “Don’t blame it on sunshine/Don’t blame it on moonlight/Don’t blame it on good times/Blame it on the boogie” –- The Jacksons, “Blame it On the Boogie”

Ms. Smith Goes to McNally: So sad I missed her reading at McNally Wednesday night (deadline looms…) But if you want to read some of the best writing about writing and the writer’s life (with some Mary J. love kicked in to boot?) please go check out Danyel Smith’s blog–particularly the July 28th entry entitled “Real Love”–and you’ll know everything you need to know: [Naked Cartwheels]

I Really Do Love the 80s: Remember “Digging Your Scene” by the Blow Monkeys? Yeh, it was one of my back-in-the-day faves, too. Peep John’s retrospective take on them here (and there’s music, too!): [Lost In the 80s]

Yo! Madonna, Great idea, Awful title: Apparently Christina A. and Gwen S. won’t be sharing in Mrs. Ritchie’s Confessions[Jossip]

Get Into Marlon’s Groove: Can I just tell y’all I heard the best live cover of a Rose Royce song ever on Tuesday night? Singer/songwriter Marlon Saunders brought the house down with his slow(er) sexy(er) take on the Car Wash classic “I Wanna Get Next to You”. There were no panties thrown on the stage (at least not that I could see from my perch in the very rear of the packed room) but there were plenty of orgasmic oohs and aahs emanating around the space. If you like your soul music to have soul and you like your singers to be able to sing and you still haven’t seen Marlon and his band Mood Control perform live, you might wanna check out their new CD A Groove So Deep: The Live Sessions. As they say, it’s damn near like being there. Check out the site (you can find out more and buy the CD here): [Marlon Saunders site]

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Bookmark THIS!

Quote of the Day: “Welcome to your life/There’s no turning back…” Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

As requested by a whole bunch of you, here’s a pic of the two-sided HUNG bookmarks that we’ve been giving out at Pride events and the Harlem Book Fair. They will officially be in bookstores closer to publication in late September and early October. Many thanks to Meredith McGinnis and the marketing team at Doubleday for taking a brotha’s vision and running with it…Click the pic to get a bigger, clearer view of ’em…(ignore the Sept 20 date on the ruler–that was fixed on the real rulers we handed out.) The actual release date of HUNG is OCTOBER 25, 2005.

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A Change Has GOTTA Come

Quote of the Day: “‘Judge not lest ye be judged’/What a beautiful refrain…” – R.E.M. “New Test Leper”

It’s a deadline week here at Chez SPB, so I’m just gonna give y’all some random thoughts on stuff, at least til I can get to ya later….

On the List: Did I hear someone say there might be a new Toni Morrison novel next year? Til then, one of the books I’m most looking forward to checking this year is Peter Guralnick’s Dream Boogie, a big fat bio of Sam Cooke, in my humble opinion the best of the male mid-century vocalists who helped make American music great. I will be buying this book since my Moms got her hands on the galley that I luckily snagged at the Book Expo last month…but I guess I can’t be mad at Mrs. Bryant, she is the one who introduced me to the glory and goodness that was Sam Cooke, a beautiful black man whose voice sounded to my young ears like it was haunted by love. Or something. Can’t say the same for some others…

One In a Million?: As problematic as I found it on some levels, I have fond memories of the Million Man March back in 1995, mainly the camaradie of the brothas I traveled down with & the generational solidarity in effect all across the spot. I thought about heading down to the Million More March to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the March in October of this year. Then I started hearing all about this kat in D.C., Reverend Willie Wilson—Executive Director of the new march—who seems to believe, along with some other vacantly sexist and viciously homophobic things, that lesbianism is about to take over the black community. Authors/bloggers Mark Anthony Neal and Keith Boykin have their say & say it well…Wilson’s brand of rhetoric only makes me more excited to have a book called HUNG coming out around the same time as the march. Speaking of which…

In HUNG news: According to and video clips from his own website, it seems that Bam, one of the porn stars I considered interviewing for the book, is playing on another side of the fence these days [WARNING: VERY Adult content ahead if you click that link]…

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Quote of the Day: “I hear music in the street/Yes, I hear the funky beat/and I get down down down down down…” – Unlimited Touch, “I Hear Music In the Street”

I do believe I hit upon the perfect iPod Summer 2005 Playlist for traipsing around hot city streets. Why is it perfect, you ask? Because I say it is…and because more than anything, it’s one of those mixes that feels, to me at least, empowering as well as entertaining. When you’re trying to make your way around a loud, belligerent, crowded spot like NYC you’d better be listening to some tunes that put a pep in your step. If not a righteous bop in your stride. Or, to quote Gladys and her Pips, a song in your heart. Note the precise, bouyant mix of cynicism, paranoia, arrogance & heartbreak that’s completely symbolic of big-city-living. There’s some Sting, rewriting Sondheim and beating one of those loneliness metaphors into the pavement–but we still love him. There’s some sex (Prince), some drugs (Rufus), some murder (the Stones), some attitude (Chrissie & the Pretenders), some glamour (Chic), & some intimately apocalyptic raving as only Seal does best. Yesterday, this mix got me from my crib in the West Village to a meeting on 12th Street on the east side, north to 34th Street, & back south to my crib. Apologies to the lady on the “F” train I almost bumped into nodding my head to Nas and Lauryn…

1. Deep Water–Seal
2. Computer Blue–Prince
3. Uptown Anthem–Naughty By Nature
4. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover–Paul Simon
5. Got to Give It Up–Marvin Gaye
6. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) –The Rolling Stones
7. Feel Good Inc–Gorillaz
8. Talk of the Town–The Pretenders
9. Little Boy Blue–Rufus
10. Nothingness–Living Colour
11. Message in a Bottle–The Police
12. If I Ruled The World–Nas Ft. Lauren Hill
13. Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming–Michael Jackson/Jermaine Jackson
14. I Want Your Love–Chic
15. Red Light–Jonny Lang
16. Rock Steady–Aretha Franklin
17. This Place Hotel (Heartbreak Hotel)–The Jacksons
18. Our Lips Are Sealed–Fun Boy Three

Liner Notes: (For any folks younger than, say, twenty-one who happen upon this site): Tracks 13 and 17 feature an artist named Michael Jackson, who, once upon a time—believe it or not—actually had an exciting, thriving, important music career. I consider the vocal performances on these songs two of his very best. Also, on track 9, that woman screaming her notes in key and without the aid of Pro-Tools is a legend named Chaka Khan. Finally, what she and Michael and the artists on tracks 1, 5, 10, 14, 15 and 16 are doing is called “singing”.

If you wanna make this mix yaself, it’s a perfect 80 minutes of music for a standard burned CD…hope you enjoy your traipsing in the heat as much as I did…

For all you peeps who email me, i love getting them but why don’t you share your thoughts with everyone else? Please feel free to leave comments on the site…just press the comments button below this post…

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Diggin’ In the Crates

Quote of the Day:”And I still find it so hard/To say what I need to say…” — New Order, “Blue Monday”

Yesterday was a Soap Opera Sunday at my crib. Between catching up on my videotaped Guiding Light episodes (and liking the way Josh is standing up to Reva about this whole Jonathan/Nate situation and the way Olivia decided to just take control of it), I finally unwrapped the new R. Kelly CD TP.3 Reloaded, which included the DVD of the five-part “Trapped in the Closet” saga and got a chance to see what all the buzz was about…I gotta agree with a buddy of mine as I listened to the tracks: even amidst the charges still pending, R. ain’t exactly shying away from the “explicit content”, is he? Thing is, the whole “Closet” serial wasn’t as scandalous as I expected it to be. But props anyway to R. for working in the “soap operatic” format that I love. I admit to being probably the only person on Earth who actually thought MTV’s late, lamented daily soap “Spyder Games” had potential for something really good–other than just unleashing Cubano papi Enrique Murciano on the world. (By the way, I’m working on something–not quite sure yet–about soap opera culture…if there are any soap heads out there into being interviewed for it, shout a brotha out…)

Back In the Day.Was doing some spring cleaning the other day—okay, yeh, I’m a month or so late—but I came across some remnants of my hardcore music critic days, back when people would send me music by unsigned talent in the hopes of getting some coverage or at least making some music biz contacts. Oftentimes I’d toss stuff away after a courtesy listen; sometimes, however, something told me to hold on to it. In one box I found two four-song cassettes of music by an artist named T.I.P. (The Infamous Pimp), this kid outta Georgia who was managed by this kat named Jason Geter I’d met at an Outkast party in ’99 or 2000; they both seemed like good peeps. Now, minus the “P”, the artist goes by the name T.I. and he’s a celebrated platinum act and I feel sorta like one of those rock and roll kats who claim to have original Elvis demos stashed away in an attic somewhere. Also came across an old Alicia Keys demo CD, from back when she was hovering in that limbo between Columbia and Arista and J Records. Then I found the star-studded video invitation to Puff Daddy’s 1998 Birthday Gala back, that November night when Cipriani Wall Street became the official true birth site of The Ghetto Fabulous Party Aesthetic. Brought back mad memories: chatting and laughing with Angie Harmon, my second favorite of all the ADA chicks from Law and Order (of course Jill Hennessy’s Claire Kincaid will always come first); getting a pound from David “Boomer” Wells, my then-favorite pitcher on my dear ol’ Yanks; hearing various hiphop heads continually call Penny Marshall “Laverne” right to her face; chatting with designer Diane Von Furstenberg about Brown, my alma mater, where I’d hung out a bit with her daughter Tatiana; almost getting shoved off a crowded dais by some burly bodyguard as I was trying to make a space to chat with this chick because he mistakenly & idiotically thought I was trying to move in on his client Mariah Carey. I wasn’t bit more thinking bout Mariah than the man in the moon, wasn’t, in fact, even a fan (not like I am now, all over my Strong Island homegirl since she put out that hot ballad “We Belong Together”…So there, ya big oaf, wherever you are.) Ah, memories…misty Cristal-colored memories…of the way I was. Ha ha ha…

Bookmark This! Oh yeh…I got a bunch of emails from peeps who want to see the HUNG bookmark we were giving out at the Harlem Book Fair yesterday. Bookstores should have them later this summer or early in September. But I’ll check with Doubleday’s super marketing genius Meredith McGinnis and see if it’s possible to post a graphic of it here. If not, we’ll figure something out.

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Sell Up In Harlem

Quote of the Day: “The reason that you’re cool/Is ‘cuz you’re from the old school…” – Prince, “All the Critics Love U In New York”

Had a good time out in the heat at the Harlem Book Fair. I remember when it was a tiny little get-together. It’s a huge affair now, with multiple stages for readings and musical performances. Tons of independently-published writers hawking their books in booths and along the street. A center aisle of Big Publishing corporate tents lined with books and marketing materials. Librarians and fans and publicists and on-lookers standing in line for fried-fish sandwiches. Scruffy white dudes on the performance stage name-checking Patrice Lumumba and Franz Fanon. Quite a happening multi-block scene. I’ll admit I spent as much time as I could under the Random House tent. It was cool there. Well, coolerat least.

Chilled with my editor Clarence Haynes, handing out some of those infamous HUNG book marks—there’s book info on one side and a mock ruler going from 6” to 14” on the other. It’s funny to see the reactions you get from some people when they look at it, either giggles of delight or nods of support or skeptically-rolled eyes . Whatever, I’m just hoping they buy the damn book!…

Met some cool peeps like Carol Mackey, the Senior Editor of cool book club Black Expressions, who said some very nice things about HUNG. Ran into fashion stylist/author Sonya Magett (Astrology Uncut : A Street Smart Guide to the Stars), looking—as usual—
fabulous and chic and not at all bothered by the Uptown heat. Sonya’s one of those people who makes you smile when you see her and leaves you smiling when she walks away. Saw Bliss-fully beautiful and talented homegirl Danyel Smith after the panel she’d done with Nelson George, Mark Anthony Neal (author of New Black Man and the brilliant Soul Babies) and some others, including Bakari Kitwana, author of Why White Kids Love Hip Hop. Several peeps had been telling me to shout Bakari out—and here he was in my city. Seemed like a cool brotha. Talked to editors Chris Jackson of Crown and Dawn Davis of HarperCollins, both of whom I’m fans of—and not just because I loved stuff they recently put out (Chris edited Angry Black White Boy and Bliss and Dawn put out The Known World)—they’re both good people…

Also met a sista named Lia Summers, up from D.C., who was sweet enuf to bestow upon me a packet of her sweet-smelling, long-burning incense, made with a secret ingredient…Get yourself over to her site SUMMERS BAZAAR to find out what that ingredient is and how you can order yourself some sticks. The sticks she gave me were called “Butt Naked”…Y’all know I couldn’t resist that…

Didn’t get a chance to see Gordon Chambers or Marlon Saunders perform. But both will be appearing in town over the next week or so. Marlon will be celebrating the release of his new live CD A Groove So Deep: The Live Sessions at Joe’s Pub on July 26th. And Gordon will be bringing his show to the legendary Blue Note on August 1. Look out for an interview with Gordon here at SPB Q in the coming days.

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