Monthly Archives: August 2005

Life & How To Live It

Quote of the Day: “We’re never gonna survive, unless…We get a little crazy…” – Seal, “Crazy”

As I sit in my Manhattan sublet, I’m listening to Roberta Flack’s beautiful and sad rendition of Janis Ian’s “Jesse” segue into Seal’s beautiful and sad “Whirlpool” and I’m wondering why I still live in NYC.

Am I really happy here in NYC? I’ve been here for a long time, since leaving college, since Brown spit me out onto the real world and said, “You go, boy, make something of your cranky, irresponsible self.” I’ve been here since college and I don’t go out to clubs anymore. I don’t go to museums like I used to. I don’t even go to Broadway shows like I used to. I do go to baseball games. I do go to the U.S. Open. But are those reasons enough to stay in this expensive, loud, crowded city? I’m beginning to think not. All my people say, “Yeh, Scott, why don’t you leave? It’s not like you got a job you’re tied to, that you gotta be at everyday.” And they’re right, I don’t. I should be in Chicago, right? Or full-time in Miami, right? Or L.A.? Uh, I think not. Unless, of course, I’ll get to be back in Malibu, on the ocean, waking up to the rush of waves every day. But it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Then I think, maybe I should buy a place. Isn’t it time? Ain’t I grown now? Of course I talk to my pops about this. Of course I talk to my pops, real estate guy that he is, landlord guy that he is, with property all over Nassau County and some stuff in Virginia. And of course, he says, “You should have gotten a real job right outta college and saved some money and you’d have a place of your own right now. But you didn’t do that.” No, Dad. I didn’t. I followed my dream. You know the one, the one you encouraged me follow back in the day? Anyway, he offers to give me, no—because this is all about good business and teaching me something—sell me one of his properties. He even offers to sell me the huge place he owns in Norfolk, right on the water, a stately ole Southern home with a big porch out front. But is that that I want? To settle down like that? Out in the burbs? Or down VA way? I should be, but I’m not. But I sure as shit don’t want to buy something in Manhattan, do I? Isn’t it way too expensive? And would I get a mortgage anyway? Maybe I should buy a condo in Miami and stay down there year-round, through the heat and the hurricanes, rather than dashing back to NYC as soon as the Yankees end Spring Training?

Oh, I don’t know. Why am I even thinking this stuff anyway? I know why. Cause HUNG is about to drop. And I’ve been researching the next non-fiction project, and trying to finish this new screenplay, and putting the final touches on the novel. I’m thinking about this stuff because I’m feeling like there’s about to be some kind of shift in the soil beneath me. I look at the press stuff that my publicist has lined up for me and I realize I’m about to spend the next coupla months talking about black dick and its relationship to how we define ourselves and how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. I’m about to be signing books and reading aloud, after a long period of just signing checks to Con Ed and Verizon and Time Warner Cable and reading aloud to myself when a sentence doesn’t feel quite right. I’m about to be public again. And as soon as I start feeling public, my desire for privacy starts to rear it’s old head.

And I’m thinking about this stuff cause I’m going to Kevin’s wedding on Thursday, Kevin who I remember as this young kid who used to run around with my little sister and here he is, getting married. What? Married? Settling down? Of course, he is. Cause we’re grown. We’re not growing anymore, brothaman, we’re grown. Which means it’s time to come to grips with the gypsy in my soul. Stop fighting it. Enjoy the weddings and commiserate with those closings. But I gotta know that it’s time to come to grips with the fact that moving to Brazil or Australia or Amsterdam is still a possibility because I want it to be, because it’s who I am. Have laptop, will travel, baby…Or maybe I’ll just move to Williamsburg…That can be my base of operations. I did hear there are some nice affordable cribs out there…

Things to take my mind of all that stuff up above:
Great interview with Daniel Alarcon, author of the phenomenal story collection War By Candlelight. Man o man, you gotta love a writer dude who can name-check Cheever’s short stories and Jeter (as in Derek) and the fact that he re-reads Junot Diaz’s sublime Drown once a year. I knew there was a reason homeboy was creeping higher up my favorite writer list…

The fact that my Yanks are a game and half behind the trifling Boston Red Sox and leading the wild card like a muhfucka…

September is about to put me in the most orgiastic state of WB-ness a dude could ever be in. The second season of One Tree Hill comes out on DVD September 13, as will the DVD of the fourth season of Smallville…The DVD of the fourth season of The Gilmore Girls will be out on September 27…I don’t watch any of those shows first-run. I discovered them all on DVD and I’ve found there’s something truly fulfilling about gobbling up seven or eight commercial-free episodes at a time when I watch them on on my own schedule…

And, finally, I get to occupy my mind with what the hell I’m gonna wear to the HUNG pre-pub party on September 13 (hosted by my dope editor Clarence Haynes and my dope publisher, Doubleday prez Stephen Rubin, & sponsored by Courvoisier) and whether I can South Beach Diet my way down a pound or two before the big night….Should be a hot night, right smack-dab in the middle of Fashion Week.

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Gem of the Theater

Quote of the Day: “I’m trying to take culture and put it onstage, demonstrate it is capable of sustaining you. There is no idea that can’t be contained by life: Asian life, European life, certainly black life. My plays are about love, honor, duty, betrayal – things humans have written about since the beginning of time.” — August WIlson

Sad news to report.

According to Playbill.com, Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning master playwright August Wilson has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Doctors have given him three to five months to live. Just as his grand cycle of plays chronicling the African American experience in America comes to a close with Radio Golf.

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THE SPB Novella — CLASSIC 6

Yo peeps…

I’ve been a journalist for most of my working, post-college life, but I’ve also always been a closet fiction writer. I had a short story published in GUMBO, an anthology edited by Marita Golden and E. Lynn Harris, both of whom praised the story and encouraged me to keep on the fiction trail, which can be hard to do when the reportage thang is paying ya bills, ya know? Then I sent a coupla stories to my boy, ace novelist Adam Mansbach, who also confirmed for me that I had some fiction chops. I recently finished two novels–a young adult thing & a spy thriller with a twist–that I just handed in to my brilliant agent Tanya. Hopefully you’ll be seeing those in the near future.

Til then: The fiction that I talked about posting a few blog entries ago is finally up and running…If you click HERE, you’ll be sent over to it.

It’s called CLASSIC 6. It’s a novella about sex, love, and real estate. It’s a real NYC story.

Hope you follow along.

Hope you enjoy.

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Thank God It’s Friday

Quote of the Day: “Ladybugs…Lots and lots of ladybugs…” — Diane Lane as Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun

Feeling the Vibe: According to things I’d been hearing, Quincy Jones wants a controlling stake in VIBE magazine. Tried to get Q on the phone to talk about this and his work on the upcoming 50 Cent movie, but he’s sorta knee-deep in the mix right now. Soon as I can get some stuff I’ll pass it on to you guys.

Yo! Hamlet!: The Ghetto Method of teaching Shakespeare…

Nichelle, Ma Belle: Hmmm…Is Nichelle solely a name for Black girls? … One of those age-old questions …

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I Really DO Love the 80s…II

Quote of the Day: “Then he walked over to the piano and put on a really incredible keyboard track. And not only did Prince make it up right on the spot, he played it with only two fingers. Then he left.” Stevie Nicks, Details 1994

Was turning channels this past weekend and I came across a so-bad-it’s-good flick from 1982 called The Pirate Movie. Starring Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins, it was meant to be a pop updating of The Pirates of Penzance (which already had a pop updating on Broadway) but was really just an awful Grease-ripoff. Corny and ridiculous, full of terribly-sung pop-rock ballads and clumsy choreography—I LOVED it when I was a teenager. Watching it now though, I finally know what people mean when they call 80s artifacts cheesy. Here’s the thing though: as bad as it was, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I know, I know. I have bad taste. And I love it. It’s better than having no taste at all…


Smooth Operator: Caught the video of Sade’s “Your Love is King” on VH1 Classic, you know the one with the card tricks, and it took me back to the night I first heard her music, back in 84. We were having a “dinner party” in my freshman dorm at college, meaning we’d gone to the grocery store and bought food rather than trudging all the way to the Ratty for Chicken Tetrazini. My friend Amy stuck a cassette into the boombox and suddenly the room was wrapped in this silky jazzy smooth groove fronted by this smoky chanteusy voice that didn’t sound like anything we’d heard on the radio lately. “Who is this?” someone asked. “Sade,” said my friend, pronouncing it like the third part of Marquis de…Suffice to say, we enjoyed our dinner and felt like mature folks sitting around drinking wine and listening to such sleek adult pop. Been a fan of homegirl ever since. “Is It a Crime?” from the second CD was my theme song for most of sophomore year. Long story to tell, just suffice to say that it involves a very pretty, very sad closeted guy from Chicago and lots of guilty stares on the college green and in the Blue Room.

This Prince is King: In honor of Lost In the 80s (and the way it brings back memories—in this case The Time’s “Ice Cream Castles”), I give you one of my favorite Prince iPod playlists, this one called “Prince and the People”. It includes mostly Prince tracks, mostly from the 80s, and tracks by folks he wrote for, performed with or produced. Hope you like.

1. When You Were Mine by Prince
2. 17 Days by Prince
3. The Belle Of St. Mark by Sheila E.
4. Strange Relationship by Prince
5. Nasty Girl by Vanity Six
6. The Screams of Passion by The Family
7. She’s Always in My Hair by Prince
8. Yo Mister by Patti Labelle
9. Curious Child by Prince
10. Joy In Repetition by Prince
11. Ice Cream Castles by The Time
12. Stand Back by Stevie Nicks
13. Anna Stesia by Prince
14. And God Created Woman by Prince
15. Nothing Compares To You by Sinead O’Connor
16. 4 The Tears In Your Eyes by Prince

Liner Notes: “When You Were Mine” from Dirty Mind is, hands down, my all-time favorite Prince song (altho track 13 “Anna Stesia” is a very close second, well, maybe a 1b). It was the song that convinced me that homeboy was something of a poet the way Smokey Robinson and Paul Simon are poets. I don’t think there’s a rawer, better song about teenage lust and love. It took every thing in my bones not to ask Prince to play this for me when i was out at Paisley Park in 1991. I mean, there we were in the recording studio, listening to Diamonds and Pearls and the guitar was just sitting there. But no. I wasn’t strong enuf….Tracks 2 and 7 are b-sides, by an artist who’s b-sides often rivaled his a-sides and album tracks for sheer beauty and quality…The last track, “4 The Tears in Your Eyes”, is the original from the We Are the World album, NOT the more polished yet inferior re-recording that appears elsewhere…Again, this playlist is meant to be burned onto a standard CD so it goes just about 80 minutes.

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Stuff Like This

Quote of the Day: “Be careful who you do cuz karma comes back around…” –Usher, “Caught Up”

So, in the process of selling Late Registration to the masses, Kanye West is denouncing homophobia in hiphop. On MTV tonight, no less. Never really been a fan of the brotha, but hey, what a way to launch a new CD into the stores and hearts of all rap fans everywhere. Good for him. Better late (no pun intended) than never that someone should try something like this. Can’t wait to see what the fall-out will be, either way. Maybe none?

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It’s like Writer Porn: Great post at The Lipstick Chronicles (a group blog of women writers that I find myself reading more and more) about one writer’s love for office supplies. I identified so much with the piece I figured others must understand this jones…

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There’s word that crooner Harry Connick, Jr.’s about to play the male lead in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Pajama Game, one of those great old 50s musicals. The female lead has yet to be cast, but my vote goes to Vanessa Williams to play Babe, the hard-hearted factory worker who doesn’t want to fall in love. Love me some Vanessa Williams, from waaaay back. Liked her CDs (even that Christmas joint she put out like 10 years back). Liked her in Soul Food. Liked her on Broadway. Homegirl’s a survivor and she got the last laugh. I even had her Interview magazine ski-star layout on my walls at college, back in the day when I knew I was gonna marry her (this was before my Regina King obsession started, for any body keeping track). Anybody else remember that Interview layout, with Vanessa decked out in fine ski threads, posing like she was Olympics-bound? Or am I the only obsessive up in the piece today? Anyway. I met Vanessa at a Luther Vandross after-party at the Garden a few years back and she was crazy sweet to me. Maybe cause I was all in her face biggin’ her up, but hey, maybe not. She seemed mad appreciative of a brotha stepping up. That was one of the few times I had to do the “fawning fanboy” thing, not something I do easily. Unless I’m obsessed, I guess. Like that time I ran into Mark Wahlberg on Broadway and 21st Street….more about obsessions coming soon…

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Mr. Big Stuff

Quote of the Day: “Something’s going on in society…” — David Bowie “Dancing With the Big Boys”

I was at a party the other night and someone asked me, “How could you write a book called HUNG?” I went into my whole bit about it being an interesting topic, how I had some funny and provocative stories to tell about black men and their dicks, blah blah blah…

Then, on the 8th of August, The Daily News gossip page “Rush & Molloy” (scroll down when you get there) reported that Mike Tyson is considering starring in a porn flick and goes so far as to cite a double-digit figure describing how big Mike is hung. Then, Saturday night on Big Brother 6, while showering in the open-air communal bathroom, Beau, the brotha in the house, becomes the object of much stares and squeals of delight and awe as several (white) members of the house take turns glimpsing his “big chocolate pee-pee”—as its called by Howie, one of the white hetero dudes in the crib, who goes back for more than one look and even brings a stepstool over so the shorter women can get a better look at Beau’s big dick.

Now, someone ask me again how I can write a book called HUNG? As Big Brother 6 host Julie Chen often says on the show, “America has spoken.”

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