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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