In My Write Mind
In line with Kelvin's post for today, I've decided to take out a few moments and let you know some of the things I learned over the weekend, except that the things I learned were mostly blog-related. From friends I know to friends I hope to meet one day soon, it was quite an eventful weekend for yours truly...thus proving without a shadow of a doubt, an old dog (that would be me for those keeping score at home) can definitely learn new things...LOL
Here we go:
Wow...the chatting, the setting up of a new blog home, the Good Times marathon... (speaking of which, I was watching A LOT of those episodes over the weekend... and is it me... or did Florida Evans wear something orange in every single episode?!?!?!?!? I promise I didn't want to notice that, but since I love the color, I couldn't help it. Yeesh. Yes, please commence with the Florida orange jokes right abouuuuut...now. Lawd.)
Anyways, so much went on over the weekend, I need a minute to recover. LOL Nah, actually I will be in DC for the remainder of the week for my job's annual convention. And when I return, I will be officially moving. For those few who haven't heard it from BELOVED (lol), the proposed new spot is here. And ummmm, if you know like I know, you'd do better than Michael Jackson did and make that change. I got a GREAT deal on the space and so far, I like the neighborhood. LOL
More details to come. Enjoy your week!
scribbled by Will at 7/25/2005 12:27:00 PM
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Somewhere, in the recesses of lower Manhattan, south of Houston Street, past the Gray's Papaya and not too far from one of the many Gap stores in the area, if you listen closely enough, you can hear it. If you press your ear close enough to the pavement outside of your place of residence, if you turn off all engines and fans and air conditioners and kitchen appliances... you can hear it, I swear... even if only faintly.
Do you hear it?
You don't? Really? Strange... I still do. And I'm here to warn you, hold up signs, prophesy... whatever necessary to make you understand. I have to make it clear to you that a few weeks ago (I know I'm late, but I truly needed a few weeks to recover and reconcile all of my thoughts), I saw firsthand (and unfortunately firstear) the coming of the 2Pacalypse.
And Hip Hop Karaoke brought it on.
Now I know what you're saying... But Will, you've blogged about karaoke before. You love karaoke. Yes. Guilty. I've always wanted to be able to sing. Karaoke is an outlet that keeps on giving... surrounded by a room full of fellow non-singers, all hopped up on liquid courage and a screen full of lyrics you NEVER knew were in the song... it's GREAT!!!
So when my friend Rockin' Robyn called and said, "Hey, there's a spot downtown that does hip hop karaoke," I said to myself, "Self, you love karaoke... and you have an affinity toward hip hop. This could work." Should work. So I said, "Rockin, I'm IN!"
It started out innocently enough. Picture a standard auditorium that could just as easily be used for dinner theater as it could for a Tyler Pe.rry stage play. No chairs, except for a few bar stools up against the wall. The stage--brightly lit, in fact the only light in the darkened room--was 5 feet above ground, holding turntables to the left, and mic stands for up to five individuals to the right. The host was a mighty sailing man, the DJ brave and sure...oh, wait...sorry, Chilligan's Island was on.
The host was mulatto, a B-boy, it seemed, from way back. The way he spoke it, felt it... you could tell that hip hop was in his blood. He got the party started right with his rendition of Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours." It's the perfect crowd-hyping song... and he actually knew all the words. But ummmm... he was the host. He better had knew 'em. LOL
The DJ was on point, Tip. Dude knew the words to all the records, spent most of the night diggin' in the crates, supplying the rhythmic crack that the crowd and, errr, "performers" lusted after. Sure he was white. Sooooo? Let me put it this way... if one of the Be.astie Bo.ys' sons were to become a DJ, this would probably be him. LOL
This, my friends... is where the "flattery and kind words" portion of the program concludes.
What I witnessed next... is almost beyond description. But I'll try...
Here's how Hip Hop Karaoke (HHK) works. Yes, the concept is the same. You get on stage, sing (or scream) your lungs out to the stylings of your favorite artist to the polite applause of total strangers and drunk colleagues/homies. Here's where it goes horribly wrong. Unlike regular karaoke, with HHK, you go sign up to rap and are given laminated sheets with the lyrics to your selection. Then, in the time in between sign-up and performance, you are asked to MEMORIZE THE LYRICS. *sigh*
Add some liquid courage to the festivities, plus the rule that there is no freestyling allowed... and you have a recipe for disaster that may include the commitment of Hip Hop Hari Kari. Oke. (Just shoot me.) The crowd is made up of a rainbow of bodies... brown NOT being a primary color, if you know what I mean. LOL So, with that said, and with the brown people occupying one group of chairs to the left, I think you can tell how much I was about to enjoy myself. How great it sounded to be subjected to yelling and cuss words for an entire evening. Oh...joy.
OK...I've set the scene. Now... keeping your ear to the pavement (just keep listening, dammit...lol), let's review the first few people that came to the stage... see if you can hear what I heard that night two weeks ago that has forever traumatized me... *deep breath*
First up, is Jerry. The thick glasses, the receding hairline, the A&F attire... of course, the first person you think of... is Ludacris, right?!?!? Yeah... and when I heard the music start playing, I thought he must've been... playing. But alas, he wasn't. Yup... "Move, Bitch" filled the room. As did Jerry's mouth, which simultaneously devoured the microphone and a girl in the front row. Lawd.
(It's funny...but right after that performance, I could've sworn I heard galloping... like, from a distance. Do you hear that? Maybe I'm trippin'. On with the show...)
Next up, I belee dat's Zach. From Long Island. Apparently, he's a regular at the HHK. The host said so. And Zach is here to do his regular. Dressed in all black for his homies, the 5'7 caucasian accountant from the 'burbs let everyone within earshot know that he had "99 Problems," with being signed to Tone-Deaf Jam not one.
(Speaking of tone, the galloping sound I'd heard before was getting stronger, closer. Like... horses or something. Nah...can't be that. This is hip hop, not clip clop...let the show go on!)
Ladies and Gentlemen...meet Lili and Katie. From Jersey. They bounded on stage with a mission in mind. To shock the world. Mission.accomplished. I don't even think I can explain what I expected from these two. The blond hair, the matching floral sun dresses, the long legs, the proper speaking voices... maybe a diddy from Mase... or Young MC, perhaps? Hellus nous. Kate Rock and Lil' Smooth did their rendition of *sigh* "Still D.R.E." And knew only maybe ten words to the song combined. *rubbing temples*
(WTH?!?!? Those gallops...they sound so close I could reach out and touch them...sounds like a pack... I coulda sworn I just heard a horse whinny... and a Biggie beat? I think I seriously need to leave this place... apparently it's driven me crazy...)
It was like a high-pitched alarm that I couldn't escape or turn off... I was fixated on the brutality and stomping that was inflicted upon these songs that I loved once, never to listen to again. After the hip hop debutantes, I figured it could get no worse... boy was I wrong.
Walking to the stage... Jenny and her "hype girl" Jan. Korean? Maybe. Chinese? Not likely. Something about the features screamed Korean. *huddling with family and hearing third strike for the other team* "We're gonna go with Korean, Richard." Survey SAYS...LOL Both standing at around 4 foot 11 with smiles wider than their frames, the two ladies looked more like wrappers than rappers. Their meekness meant nothing to me. I've spent the whole night being fooled by appearances. I was ready for anything.
Or so I thought.
These two young ladies... from the Lower East Side... proceeded to give "big ups to Brooklyn"... and flawlessly execute... "Hypnotize." Yes, that "Hypnotize." And seriously, if this had been a competition, they probably would've won. Still, though, while they were in the middle of the song, even while Jenny was punctuating the Ungnnh!, B.I.G. style... I heard it again. Clearly this time.
Can you hear it? It can't be just me. Is your ear where I told you to put it? If so, then listen closely... *cough* Is that dust kicking up? Could it really be horses? Yup. It sure is. Sounds like four of 'em. And they're getting closer and closer. You know what that means... the 2Pacalypse can't be too far behind.
*celebration breaks out all o'er the land, choruses of "Brand New Day" from The Wiz fill the air*
What's the 2Pacalypse?!?!? Surely, you jest. It's the time when the four emcees from beyond come back and render judgment on all that is a mockery of what they created...what they loved. And... after just four people took the stage... after four "performances" that made this grown man cry... they were on their way. On horses.
And not a moment too soon.
If you listen closely, turn down the wack music, the lawn mower, the television... you can hear it, too. But you have to listen closely... and concentrate on lower Manhattan, south of Houston Street. Or in any town that has versions of this madness running rampant as if there is no price to pay.
Because although they haven't arrived just yet, the four emcees, or Biggie, Pun, 'Pac and Jay, as I like to call 'em, are closer than you think. Closer than the HHK suspects. And when they strike... could be this month, could be not... but soon...all debts will be paid. All laminated sheet music will be ripped up. All mics will be silenced for good.
And personally, I can't wait. Bring on the end of the mockery, the abomination! 2Pacalypse! Come quickly... I beg of you!
Hip Hop Karaoke... be forewarned. And drink some liquid courage. Your days are numbered.
scribbled by Will at 7/20/2005 07:36:00 PM
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Wait... you haven't heard? Shiiiii...you better buy a clue. Quickly. I am a groove, slightly transformed... just a bit of a break from the norm. I'm the livin' that's easy with the good-looking mama. I am what this season is... and this season is...
The Summer of Will.
That's right. From June to September, everything cool, hip and happening...is going on under my watch. I've given up on trying to be productive at work for now... I mean, how can I? They need to recognize...
It's the Summer of me.
Surrrre I'll be working next week in DC... but not "working working." LOL I'm going to take out some time to enjoy all that our annual convention offers for a change, instead of being a slave to deadlines, bylines and word counts. Gonna actually attend some of the fun stuff... the receptions, the parties, the "after-parties." I have to.
It's the Summer of Will.
Next month, I'm headed to Chicago and L.A. Ya need to join me if you know like I know. I'm a walking party. A traveling tank of tomfoolery even. My fun knows no bounds. I'm gonna hit up the House of Blues (the other HOB...lol) in both cities, get my Harold's on in Chi-town and devour some Roscoe's on the coast. I see a jazz festival or three in my future, maybe some sunning on Venice Beach.
Hotels, hot tubs and hellacious habits?!? Hellus Yes!
Oh yeah... this dude is gonna have some frequent flyer smiles in August. Believe it! AND next month also holds my birthday!!! Woooo hoooo! But it won't hold me! Can you say "act a fool?" Good... then say it. Because during my birthday week...I'm gonna DO it! You know why?!?!?
Because it's my Summer... in case you've been under a rock and haven't heard.
September?!?!? Yup, stillllll summertime. My time. And I'm ready to share it with my peeps. If this NYC Blogger Meetup is gonna happen, it'll be with me in the mix. You wanna see Broadway? Harlem? Brooklyn? Catch a Yankees game or play "Throw-the-Egg" at any Knick you see out in public? Let me know... because with or without you, I'ma go.
Block parties? Look for me. Book signings? Yeeeahhhhh. Street fairs and spoken word? I'll be dat. Every BBQ I'm invited to that starts at 4? Your boy will be there at 6:15... with a six-pack of Red Stripe in tow. Grant's Tomb and Lalah Hathaway? I'll be up that-a-way. Wingate Park and Chaka Khan? That's a Khan-do. The Seaport and Jaguar Wright? Wright on! Hip hop karaoke? *scccrreeeeeeechhhhh* Wait...errr, notsomuch...that.really.sucked.
But you get my drift. In fact, I'll be set adrift on memory bliss like a broke PM Dawn. Walking on sunshine as if Katrina and the Waves were in my backseat. Inducing that sweet, smooth summer rain Carl Thomas-style while sitting atop my own personal cloud nine. I can do this if I want...
...during the Summer of Will.
I can't even waste any more time typing this post. The summer is moving by fast. With so much left to do. There's malls to hustle to, basketball courts to run, water plugs to hop (you know, just for old time's sake). I've got cars to wash, lawns to mow, houses to buy, books to finish... all during this, my summer.
The summer of me.
But first, before I continue... to satisfy my curiosity (and to see if I've got any road dawgs) I gotta know...
"Will" you be down...?
scribbled by Will at 7/19/2005 11:47:00 AM
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**Soundtrack: Make It Happen, Emotions, Mariah Carey**
I've got music on my menu on this lazy Sunday. (Wait, should I say that in drunken rhyme form like Boris did in Brown Sugar? LOL) So I'm online reading my most favorite online magazine in the world (big, big shout out to him and her...love their creativity, their vision...and I'm not just saying that because I write for them...lol) in which one of my fellow writers conducted an interview with the group Fatty Koo. *stop snickering* The interview caught my attention enough to make me want to listen to the CD. Sooooo...I did what any other self-respecting, curious blogger would do. Buy the CD? Hellus Nous. I went on over to her site and previewed the disc.
And you know what? I kinda like it. Sure, I know they have a reality show on BET. Yes, I'm aware that the oldest member of the group is probably 12, thus making the subject matter on their CD too advanced for them to be taken seriously. But still... after listening, there was something about it. Maybe it was the fact that they play instruments. Maybe it was the vocals of Eddie and Valoure (lawd, hoping that's just a stage name...Yeesh!) on the track "Chills," sounding like a young Jesse Powell and India.Arie. Maybe it was the amount of alcohol I consumed on Saturday night. Who knows? What I do know is that the CD is not that bad. Please check it out, see what you think and let me know. Thanks. *heading over to So.ny B.MG to collect my check for big-upping their fledgling group*
Just a crazy observation while watching the Bernard Hopkins - Jermain Taylor middleweight championship fight on PPV Saturday night. While the 40-year old Hopkins came bopping into the ring to some hip hop nonsense, the 26-year old Taylor came in to the old school strains of... Phil Collins?!?!? Go figure. And considering the outcome of the fight, there must be something about that old school...LOL
Stanza 3-- The Bridge
Wait...is what I'm hearing true? Is it true that Mariah Carey's latest CD, The Emancipation of Mimi, is still at #1 after six weeks?!?!? That's not just a normal comeback. That's on some ole John Travolta-after-doing-the-Look Who's Talking-trilogy-and-scoring-Pulp Fiction-type comeback shit. It's indescribable. Unprecedented even. Go Mariah!
My organization will be in DC next week for our annual convention. (Next year...Atlanta.) We will be celebrating our 95th year of empowering communities and changing lives. There will be a career fair and exhibit hall set up inside the convention center from next Wednesday thru Friday, a concert gala on Thursday featuring Brian McKnight and India.Arie (I promise not to mention her name again during this post...lol), plus a Cultural Night on Friday featuring Chuck Brown and Doug E. Fresh. Good times.
This final stanza goes out to my niece, who celebrated her birthday on the same day as two of my favorite bloggers (Eddie Mack and EJ da DJ). Today, she packed up her rental car and moved to start a new life in Charlotte, NC. Her children, who are spending the summer in California, will join her there next month. I know that she will make it happen there just like she made it happen when she moved to the west coast so many years ago. I love you. I miss you already. Happy Birthday.
That's all I've got for this Sunday... the notes have stopped flowing.
scribbled by Will at 7/17/2005 12:15:00 PM
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The Sugar Water Festival
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Jones Beach Ampitheater, Wantagh, NY
(left to right) Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Jill Scott
Just A Taste
Sweet music. That's what I was expecting with the name of the tour being The Sugar Water Festival. I was expecting music that would satisfy my soul's sweet tooth, music that would give me energy...give me a rush. The lineup demanded as much, with R&B/rap duo Floetry as the opening act, followed by Grammy Award-winning artists Queen Latifah, Jill Scott & Erykah Badu. A Fantastic Five that would make Marvel stop and er, marvel. On one stage. On the beach.
The clouds parted, the sun shone. It was set to be a wonderful night. All that I expected.
How sweet it is.
The Jones Beach ampitheater was buzzing. The parking lot crowd was 80% women, most coming in groups, some coming with their men, some coming... with each other. And although the show was being held outdoors, the outfits worn most resembled club gear. In fact, in keeping with the "Sugar" theme, most women's jeans and tops were sweet n' low.
The show started on time. 7pm sharp. First up was Floetry. Love them. Their combination of spoken word and R&B made them instant favorites. (Speaking of which, did anyone see their performance on Def Poetry a few weeks back? The girls are tighter than ever. Can't wait for their new CD.) Backed by a live band (a theme of the night--REAL instruments), the girls from London by way of Philly performed a select number of their hits during their 30-minute set. Blame the late arriving (read: black) crowd for the poor acoustics. Singing to a half-empty theater is the ongoing curse of many an opening act. However, the lack of bodies didn't take away from the performance. Didn't make their taste of sugar any less sweet.
But to be clear, it was just a taste.
The half-hour break between acts gave the crowd a chance to file in. Gave them a chance to get settled in for what was to come. Gave the sun a chance to fill in the background with a warm orange glow as it began to set in the west. Made the sky almost as colorful as a Badu outfit. Almost. Finally, after all the adjustments were made to the stage, after several sound checks and light tests...
"NEW.YORK.CITY!!! Are you readyyyyyy?"
The voice was a blast from the past. A voice of royalty out of hip hop's heyday. The ampitheater stood in unison, all hailing the Queen as she came into the house. With her came Badu and Scott. They performed together. The crowd roared their approval. Couldn't wait to take big sips of the promised confection. Got a taste and knew it would be sweet.
Ahh, the Queen. Her turn. The crowd was hyped. Ready to re-place the crown on the head of hip hop's first First Lady. Ready to reclaim one of their own. Ready to forgive Bringing Down the House by bringing down the ampitheater with adulation and applause.
Give it to 'em, Queen. You got it!
The slimmed down, Jersey-born Slash (rapper/actor/singer) treated the yearning masses to just a taste of the "La." The late '80s/early - '90s rap hits ("Latifah's Had It Up 2 Here," "Just Another Day," "Ladies First") gave her subjects the lightheaded rush, the fix, they paid for. Her turn as Dana Owens, standards singer, was more Splenda than splendid. The live band and background singers were more than solid, just seemingly better suited for a smoky blues club than a night on the beach. Throughout her 90 minute set, the crowd was left up in arms, prepared to bow down to the hip hop queen, but instead getting her pop princess alter ego. Let's put it this way: If her hip hop catalogue could be compared to a superhero like Wonder Woman...the choice of songs (less rap, more ballads) would make one wonder, woman.
However, never say the Queen doesn't know how to close, how to leave a sweet taste. Her romp through the crowd to the anthem "U.N.I.T.Y." gave La her musical groove back, made us remember what royalty sounds like. Helped us recall how sweet it once was.
sug·ar: Slang. Sweetheart. Used as a term of endearment.
Sweetheart. Sugar. Straight from the Big & Beautiful spring tour, straight from her press tour for her book of poetry, straight from Philly...next up was Jilly. For my money, the sweetest dose of musical sugar this side of Chaka. Voice, hair and skills just as big. Just as sweet. With Jill, you feel every word, every note, every breath. "He Loves Me," "Golden," "Cross My Mind," "A Long Walk," "Getting in the Way," "Do You Remember?"... six songs. Just a taste... but no real rush. You still felt it. All of it. Six songs and my sweetheart was gone. If Latifah was the 90-minute medicine, then Jill was the 35-minute spoonful of sugar that helped it go down.
Soooo sweet. But still... just a taste.
wa·ter: The transparency and luster of a gem. A level of excellence.
"The Sugar Water Festival is much more than just a concert tour. It's about educating, enlightening and entertaining." And Erykah Badu. There's a reason why Floetry, Jill and Badu have all put out live CDs. A reason why they excel at that medium. That reason? They all have a level of excellence... a high water mark.
Next up, Ms. Badu--with all the luster of a gem. And just as colorful. She put the "water" in the Sugar Water Festival, more colorful than the aforementioned sunset, her vocals flowing like the surrounding tide, providing the perfect soundtrack to the summer beach night. Her simple, soulful rendition of "Green Eyes," her educational ode "Otherside of the Game," her gritty ghettologue "Danger," kept the crowd moving, flowing. She came on a mission. Put it down. Give the crowd a taste. Inspire. Flow. Like Scott, Erykah's set was a scant 35 minutes. Left the crowd thirsty for more sweet excellence.
The show's conclusion was satisfying, with all three performers gathering on stage for one more song. One more spoonful. One that was "Never Too Much." (R.I.P., Luther.)
At that moment, with that mix of voices, I finally realized the significance of the tour's name. Finally realized that with everything added, everything stirred and poured... the Sugar Water Festival was indeed one of the sweetest treats the summer would bring. It flowed, satisfied my soul's sweet tooth... gave me the rush I craved.
Even if it was just a taste.
scribbled by Will at 7/15/2005 08:00:00 AM
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[Cue the sun...]
Scene 1 Act 1:
Sun enters...rising over Brooklyn...
Scene 2 Act 1:
...shines over Long Island...
Scene 2 Act 2:
...and over Miami...
Scene 2 Act 3:
Scene 3 Act 1:
...checks out its reflection...
Scene 4 Act 1:
...before resting and renewing itself for the next day's shine...
scribbled by Will at 7/12/2005 02:14:00 PM
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Sigh...it's one of those Mondays. Blogger is trippin' today and wiped out my Baker's Dozen. So I took the easy way out and stole this from my lil sis Chris. lol
To echo Golden, Happy Fuggin' Monday...lawd.
i am not: ashamed of anything I've done in my life, but grateful for the lessons
i hurt: when i think of anyone who goes through suffering
i love: my family
i hate: people who cannot and will not mind their business
i hope: i can one day be a complete man
i hear: what I want to hear sometimes...working on that...sigh
i crave: loveeeee, and a happy life
i regret: being a snorer
i cry: like a beyotch at sappy movies...lol
i care: too much sometimes...
i always: chew my tongue
i long to: be successful
i feel alone: in my thoughts all the time
i listen: with my head and my heart
i miss: my dad and my best friend
i learn: something new about myself, through others, everyday
i feel: pensive, excited about the near future
i know: i will leave my mark on the world
i say: "Lawd" entirely too much
i fail: at being unconditional in my friendships from time to time
i sleep: on the train every evening going home
i wonder: if she thinks about me
i can: do anything i put in my mind to do
i give: my all
i need: to stay focused
i am: ready for life's next opportunity
i think: i'm a pretty decent person
i can't help the fact that: i'm sensitive
i live: to have a daughter one day that I can spoil
scribbled by Will at 7/11/2005 02:15:00 PM
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R & B Defined...
At first, when I heard the news on that first day of July, I said I wasn't going to create a post. I mean really...what could I say that no one else would? In my ever-churning brain, I always look for ways to be different, to get my point across in a way that will affect people.
I had nothing.
Then, as the week went on, I read so many tributes, including here, here, here and here, and decided that I definitely didn't have any powerful lyrics to add their hearfelt, soul-filled, powerful songs. I made some comments here and there, but really, everybody has their own stories or favorite songs, right? Right. It would be pointless for me to sit here and rattle off all my favorite songs and where I was when I first heard them or what I did while listening to them. Right? Right. I didn't have anything powerful enough that warranted a post.
Today, I watched the funeral on television. Let me say that again. Today, Saturday, July 9th, I watched Luther Vandross' home going celebration. On television. Without the benefit of closed circuit links or special permission. Nope. It was on New York's N.Y1, broadcast in its entirety, without commercial interruption.
And that, along with the broadcast itself, is why I posted today. Complete coverage of funerals on television is reserved for dignitaries like presidents, popes, British royals or for someone famous who died as a result of an extraordinary circumstance. Otherwise, we are never allowed complete access to people's final celebrations or mournings. And African Americans?!?!? Coverage of their funerals rarely happens, as much because of their frequency as because of the general apathy of the nation.
Luther Vandross meant something. His life, his voice affected so many people, transcended race and musical genre. He was powerful enough to be deemed worthy of that final tribute, that final remembrance. With all of his fans right there--peeking in, sharing. We know of his discography, his catalogue, his charm. Today, and yesterday when the funeral was carried live, the world got to see his depth, his reach, his cache.
Patti LaBelle, Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin all paid tribute to their friend, with Patti calling the day a celebration and reading a poem penned by Luther's mother. His long-time composer Nat Adderley, Jr., strode to the baby grand set up near the front of the Harlem church's main auditorium, strode past the pews that held so many of Luther's family and friends...so many of his fans. To say he tickled the ivories would be a disservice. His final public tribute to his good friend, a haunting, tender, powerful rendition of the classic "A House is Not A Home" had me glued to the screen, drew a powerful standing ovation from the hundreds in attendance. And near the end of the televised, two hour celebration, a throng of celebrities and friends including Freddie Jackson, Alicia Keys, Usher, Franklin, Wonder, Warwick and LaBelle joined in with an emotional, fitting version of Luther's "Power of Love/Love Power."
His best friend Fonzi Thornton, whom he grew up with in the Bronx, who was with him from the beginning, spoke of how Luther was always focused on music, how he was arranging vocals and studying dance steps way back in junior high. He also shared that Luther was well aware of the title he had as the "love man," referring to his allegedly being responsible for many a baby being made. He didn't want to accept that, though, according to Thornton. Didn't want to be known for that kind of power. Luther wanted to be remembered as the premiere soul singer of his generation, if not of all time.
He had that power. That love power. That longevity power. Being remembered for your greatness and talent, being celebrated for the mark you made on the world...THAT kind of power. Hell, he gave me the power to compose this post, to add to the chorus of tributes that will undoubtedly continue. And N.Y1? They made a powerful statement by broadcasting it live, and then showing it again today. Giving all fans of Luther Vandross a chance to peek in, to share. Luther made his mark. Luther left here as the greatest, went home as the best.
And you know what? That is indeed the greatest power of them all.
R.I.P. Luther Ronzoni Vandross. 1951 - 2005
scribbled by Will at 7/09/2005 07:09:00 PM
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For most of you, this is just the week of the 4th of July, the week when "other" people celebrate their independence. But for me, I can't think of that week, that day, without going back to thoughts that will forever be shackled on my mind. There are two instances from back in the day when I was young, independent of one another, both with extraordinary visuals.
They always come to mind on that day, make my mind race back and forth with the images. Soooooo gas up the way-back machine and hold on tight, ladies and gentlemen...take a ride with me through my back-and-4ths.
July 4, 1979 -- I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was 8 years old, and the family was doing like it did every year, gathering together for a BBQ. It was me, Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Mary, Larry and Ms. Irene from across the street, my piano teacher that lived next door, my niece, my parents and my sister. And Shamus. My mother's poodle. Sigh. Now Shamus was a toy poodle, the type that went to the groomers every other week to get all styled up, pretty bows and all. My mom had his nails painted and erything. Lawd.
And boy did Shamus have a temper. That dumb dog would be on the front porch just a-barkin' away at any dog that passed by the house. I mean, german shepherds, great danes... you name it. Picture that... a poodle with friggin nail polish... barkin' sheeit at other, bigger dogs that DIDN'T have bows around their hair. I blame my mother. *smh*
This particular day... we were all in the backyard eating, laughing and playing board games... and then it turned into a Negro spiritual up in dat piece. As in, Who in da hell leff da gate open?!?!? Whoever did it never admitted to it. And for good reason. Shamus--in all his festive red-white-and-blue-bowed glory--got loose. Ran up to the front of the house where a huge german shepherd was passing by. Challenged said german shepherd.
By the time we heard the commotion and ran to the front... Shamus was inside the dog's mouth, and he was shaking our toy poodle like he was a chew ummm, toy. *sigh* We grabbed whatever we could find to stop the dog from devouring, nee, killing Shamus. He eventually let go and dropped him to the ground. I swear I thought I heard the dog snarl "Punk Ass" before strolling away. Shamus was barely breathing. We got him to the vet, and he survived... but was never the same. He had a slight limp from then on... whined a lot. But best believe he never challenged another dog for the rest of his days. Poor Shamus.
July 4, 1983 -- Twelve years old saw me getting to know the kids in the neighborhood. We all got invited to a New York Mets baseball game the evening of the 4th, which was billed as Fireworks Night at Shea Stadium. Again, a vivid memory. There was me, my best friends Mel and Kelli, some other random kids... and good ole Benny. I've blogged about him before. He's the friend that had the foul odor.
Well, Benny was obsessed with Mel. Wanted to be like him, emulated him in everything he did. Which is fine. I think it's great that he chose to look up to Mel, since he was one of the cooler guys in the neighborhood. But hear me... he wanted to do EVERYTHING Mel did, which, as you will see, is not always so good. There we were, enjoying the game, laughing and joking, eating hot dogs and popcorn... and then came the 7th inning stretch, that time in the game where you do just that... stretch it out, sing a song.
(Quick aside: I always thought that was crazy... I mean, who wants to wait til the 7th inning to stretch?!?!? If a game is 9 innings, shouldn't the stretch be earlier...say, in the middle of the game, like in the middle of the 5th inning?!?!? You play 4.5 innings, get up, stretch it out, sit down and enjoy the final 4.5. Makes sense, don't it? *dialing commissioner's office to tell them they need me on payroll*)
So here we are, all standing and stretching, singing the wack "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (which has, since 9/11, been replaced by "God Bless Amerikka"...but this is 1983, so I digress), and Mel literally stretches. So then Benny stretches. Now, did I mention that Benny was coordinated notsomuch? Yeah. So when HE stretched, he must've leaned into it. And.proceeded.to.fall.forward.tumbling.some.twenty.rows. Y'all don't hear me. BENNY TUMBLED OVER TWENTY ROWS OF CHAIRS AT SHEA STADIUM!!! Or to put it like a classic X post: Fennnnnnny.Bellllllllll.
I swear, I'd never laughed so hard in my life. No, he wasn't hurt. He bounced right up and ran back up to where we were sitting. I don't think anyone could remember what happened the rest of the game. All of us had tears in our eyes. Just thinking about it now is making me double over in laughter. I tell you who wasn't laughing, though. The little kid, no more than 4 years old, that Benny rolled over on his way down. He wasn't hurt, either. But he kept looking up at us the rest of the game, at one point pointing a miniature bat in Benny's direction. Benny apologized. And our chaperones bought the kid a soda. But mann...I would never, ever, ever view a 7th inning stretch the same again. That shit was Bennnnnn-sational. And dwarfed the fireworks show that followed the game. *wiping away tears of laughter* Good ole Benny. LOL
Two memories. One sad. The other hilarious. Both imprinted on my brain. Both taking me back on the 4th. There are most definitely other things that have happened on that date, some more important, some less. But none were as lasting. None make me go back in time like these do. Go back and 4th. It's like... I'm a slave to the memories... like it's "Dependence Day" for me. Go figure.
*Announcement: Please remove your seat belts before leaving the way-back. The exits are here, here, here and here. Watch your step. And come again.*
scribbled by Will at 7/07/2005 07:42:00 PM
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...Somebody's gotta do it...
That's me. Looking up at the sunshine on a gorgeous summer day. Looking up at the clouds as they divide and multiply. Looking up at the rain as it all falls down like a crazy-azz Lauryn Hill song. Looking up at my successes and failures with equal attention. Looking up and being thankful for both, looking up for the next lesson I'll be taught, making sure the sky hasn't fallen... making sure its really the sun that's beginning to peek through and undoubtedly shine on me.
That be me... looking up and around my old neighborhood, smiling at all of the development and commerce that now runs through the main streets like blood runs to the heart. I'm looking up and checking the pulse of the place where I grew up, noticing the brand new churches and the storefront holding the new headquarters for the local assemblyman. Looking up at the brand new stop lights and four way stop signs, the new skylights that now adorn the local supermarket, the newly established fast food restaurants, bakeries and watering holes. I'm looking up with a new sense of pride, with a smile, knowing that whatever investments were made into the old neighborhood, where I grew up, have paid off in spades.
Oh yes, you can find me looking up at my best friends with appreciation, both married and raising beautiful families. I look up at Mel, with his two boys who adore him, who, each time he says something remotely humorous, look at him with all the respect a son should have for their father, and remark, "My dada is soooo funny." Makes your heart smile. I look up at Kelli, with her big house and backyard, her husband and two children, a boy and a girl... listen to them call me Uncle Will and make my heart melt. I look up at how happy they are, how thankful I am for the years growing up... for the mistakes that we made along the way... for the way we all turned out.
And yeah... that's me looking up remedies for mosquito bites. Those suckas got me something awful on Monday, making me their personal blood bank. I'm not bitter... just bit. LOL
I'm looking up in admiration, thankful for those that have lived for a purpose, who have done what they came here to do, who have affected so many with their gifts. Looking up and acknowledging their contributions to society in general, to me in particular... that's what I'm doing, what I'll continue to do for the rest of my days, however many they may be. To all of those who have touched my life, who have affected me in both a positive and negative way, who have showed me that there's always a better response, a better song, a better performance, a better question, a better option, a better love, a better situation...
I see you.
I thank you.
And I look up to you...
scribbled by Will at 7/06/2005 12:29:00 PM
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I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)
The Write One
Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971. Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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