Monday, September 27, 2004

I'm Not Feeling It Today

Baker's Dozen is hard. Damn, i can't think of twelve things i want to say about this past weekend. So instead, i'm offering up the results of a little quizio that Neena posted on her blog.

I don't think it means anything ... but i'm not saying it's wrong, either.

You represent... angst.
You represent... angst.
You have an extremely cynical outlook on just about
everything. It's okay to sulk and be
depressed, but life is short, and you only get
one. It's only what you make it, and only you
can make it improve.

What feeling do you represent?
brought to you by Quizilla

So ... there it is. And what feeling do you represent?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

***Oprah Update***

Thanks to corran for this update on my Oprah post.

Oprah Car Winners
Hit with Hefty Tax

Like any prize, the value is counted as income; winners must pay up to $7,000 or forfeit the car.


Thought you might be interested.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004



I am sitting here now, awake, because of something i saw earlier. Something i had a choice to watch, and should probably have said "no" to.

I watched that man get beheaded.

I sat and watched the video of the men in black masks hold him down and cut his head off like they were butchering a pig. They didn't use an axe or a sword, they used what looked to me like a chef's knife. They cut into him like you -- not i -- might saw away at a roast. He screamed and screamed, even though his mouth was covered, even after his head was mostly detached and they had cut through his windpipe, because they started at the front of his neck, not the back that would have severed his spine more quickly, and all that was left of him to know he was not dead was his struggling and a horrifying gurgling sound.

It's important. Important that i not back away from how horrible it was to watch.

And yet ...

As i watched, my mind filled with images of children's burned bodies, of women crushed in the rubble of falling buildings, of young men with rocks in their hands falling to the power of bullets ripping their flesh.

What is more atrocious, i wondered.

Let me say clearly that what i saw in that video was horrible. I am in no way saying it was not. It sickened me in a slow, unconscious, nauseating, creeping way the source of which i didn't even realize at first. The people who did that committed a horrific, unforgivable act.

But the question remained: What is more atrocious?

Is what those men did more horrible than what U.S. troops have been doing for how long now? Those men at least understood what they were doing, could not have evaded the reality of it if they had wanted to. They were there, hands in the blood, taking away that man's life because they believed it was what they had to do. They held him and killed him.

Some of the U.S. military may be equally convicted, but do they exercise courage in those convictions? Is it more horrible to cut a man's head off with your bare hands and a knife, or is it worse to sit miles away and push a button that sends death flying through the air to kill tens or scores or hundreds of people you'll never see?

I can't explain what i'm feeling right now, or why i'm scared to go to sleep. I think i didn't believe that seeing that particular violence would violate me. Or maybe i wanted to confirm that it would. And so it has, but it has also left me with more questions about myself, the world, this country i live in, the very nature and purpose of violence in the first place.

My fears and my nausea.

And waiting nightmares.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Charles Made Me Sad

I just went into panic mode. If you know me, stop and try to picture that for a moment.

Charles Stephens, the author of the Tongue Untied blog for the last few months has announced he will be deleting his blog. I don't know why, and i respect Charles enough not to interrogate him about his personal choice. I am just disappointed for the selfish reason that i will no longer be able to get my daily fix of his incisive critical thought. At least not online.

Of course, i had to remind myself that i know him personally and that we even work in the same building, so i might be getting a little dramatic with myself here. It's just that so much of what Charles has written in so short a time has sparked much self-exploration on my part.

So i'm a little sad that i won't have the Tongue Untied to look forward to anymore.

But i'll be looking forward to the book ....

*****UPDATE 9/21/04*****
{sigh} It's really gone. Charles has deleted his blog. Ah well, more power to him in his future writing endeavors.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Baker's Dozen - Sick and Tired ...

Influenza Cover Story for Seattle Weekly
Image by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli/

In case you can't catch it from the image, i'm not feeling so well these days. In fact, i've been home from work for a week now. One of the hazards of having no health insurance, i guess: gotta tough it out for the non-lethal shit. Anyway, the feedback for this past weekend is going to be pretty one-track-mindish. But i'm trying to keep in the habit of doing this (late) every week so ...

  1. Tissue. Lots of it.
  2. Snot.
  3. Augmentin 600ES at regular intervals.
  4. More snot.
  5. Claritin to stop the snot.
  6. Aspirin to stop the Claritin headache.
  7. No sleep, but no energy to do anything.
  8. Delirium, probably born of sleep deprivation.
  9. Coughing that feels like a sandblaster in my chest and throat.
  10. Vicks 44 that my wonderful man brought me to stop the coughing.
  11. So much snot, i MUST have lost weight.
  12. Finally, the Six Feet Under season finale, and hope for recovery.

In the words of Olivier Castro-Staal, "I toast you with this shitty wine."

Here's to better health.

What the Hell is Wrong with Oprah?!?!?


Has Oprah lost her damn mind? No, really.

I'm sitting here, sick as a dog (i'll do my Baker's Dozen about it later), trying to convince myself i'm doing better after having slept only about three hours, so i decide to turn on Oprah's season premiere for the 19th year of her show. Apparently this is her "Wildest Dreams" season, where she's going to spend the year making people's dreams come true.

I guess i dream in different colors than other folks.

Oprah starts out by calling a woman out of the audience by name and bringing her down to the stage. The middle-aged, black woman is in tears with joy as Oprah greets her and asks her what her dream is. She (still tearfully) says her dream was just to be on the show.


Of course, that ain't the end of it. Oprah goes on to call 11 other folks out of the audience by name. Once the dozen folks are on stage behind her, she tells them they've been brought to the show under false pretenses. She asks her people to bring in the real surprise.

In drives a brand new Pontiac G6 as Oprah announces that each of the dozen people is receiving a much-needed car. The audience, of course, screams and goes wild at the shocked looks, hugs, and tears of the people on stage over their big surprise.

Hmmm. But this is Oprah and it's the season premiere. So big isn't quite big enough.

After the break (of course) Oprah announces that there is one more car to be given away, and that one lucky member of the audience will win it. Models come pouring out of the causeways and pass out small boxes with ribbons on them, which Oprah instructs everyone in the audience not to shake, not to open. (Do you see it coming like i did?) One box, she says, has the key to the car. The person who has the car key in their box wins a new car too. (Oh yeah, you see it coming.) So, Oprah tells everyone to go ahead and open the boxes, and ... yup, everyone has a key.

Oprah gave a new car to each and every member of her studio audience.

Seems she had actually padded the audience with folks who had either written to Oprah themselves or had other people write on their behalves about needing cars. Of course, a key is a nice symbol of having a car, but it just doesn't have the same impact as actually having the car. So Oprah takes the entire audience out to the parking lot, which she's had turned into a new car show lot. New cars for everybody! And you can drive it home today!! Whooee!!!

Of course, there were more surprises. The Black girl (and yes, it's important that she's Black) who overcame life in an abusive home and homelessness since the age of 13 to focus on her grades and earn her way into college. Her wish was just to get a makeover before going back to school, but you know Oprah.

Tyra Banks was called in to give her an America's Next Top Model style makeover, including a glamour photo shoot. (The girl is actually quite beautiful.) Then Tyra told her she was actually going to be featured in a spread in some magazine (Glamour or Marie Claire or something; i can't remember.) Then Oprah told her that she bought her a $10,000 new wardrobe for going back to school. Then she called up some woman from some foundation who told her that they were giving her a full four-year scholarship, including books and room & board, to the university of her choice. The girl could hardly speak through her sobbing.

Then there was the Black family in Michigan who has taken in scores of foster children over the years. They were living in a house they were about to be forced out of because the owner wanted to sell it. Oprah sent Gail to represent her. She, of course, bought the house for them. And gave them an additional $30,000 to do some much-needed repairs on it. And had Home Depot and Best Buy and some furniture store kick in thousands of dollars worth of stuff to fill it with.

What's the point of all this?

I'm not sure. Oprah said what gives her joy is helping make other people's dreams come true. It's why she started her Angel Network. (Ironic that i'm watching Angel on TNT now?) It's why she's doing this "Wildest Dreams" season. Oprah, more than almost anyone, has the power to make other people's dreams come true. So why was i a little uneasy about the orgy of giving today?

Maybe it was the fact that a lot of the folks who needed the cars so badly also had enough resources to videotape the condition of their current cars. Hmmm. Or that they had so many shots of the college-bound young woman walking along, looking dejected, with Oprah narrating about how tough her life was. But wait ... didn't they surprise her with this whole makeover thing? Doesn't that mean somebody had to tell her, "Okay, look depressed and down on your luck now. That's it."

Or maybe it was watching those foster kids looking at all the stuff they now had to fill their lives.

Don't get me wrong; Oprah is a maestro. Her instrument: the heartstrings. (Okay, so i cried just a little bit over the girl who's getting a full ride to college. Okay, i blubbered like a fool.) And her ostensible aim is to encourage other people to engage in philanthropic efforts. I just wonder at the focus on materialism that is at the heart of Oprah's power. I know she didn't create the capitalist society we live in, but she is one of it's most visible embodiments. She is powerful because of her abilty to generate money for herself and others.

I am not an Oprah-phile. Generally, i don't watch the show, don't subscribe to the magazine, don't follow her latest life strategies (though i suspect she's been pretty consistent over the years for anyone who really cared to listen). I don't know to what extent Oprah uses her money to fight for social justice and address the core causes of the inequities that drive our society. I just know feel-good efforts like the ones she engaged in today can't be the only answer.

But, um ... if you see me on the Oprah show one day, jumping up and down and tearfully thanking her for some wild dream of mine she's helped to make come true, don't hate on me ... i'm just trying to get mine.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Black and Gay ... for REAL

*****UPDATE 9/13/04: So ... just found out Mary Ellis Bunim died last year. Story is still the same. Funny though, i'm usually the one who thinks folks are dead before they really are.*****

Okay, Mary Ellis Bunim has finally done it. It took 15 years, but MTV's The Real World (Bunim is its creator) has finally got a black gay man on the show. I dunno, maybe she was watching the advance news about Showtime's American Candidate and got jealous.

Funny, i used to be a Real World junkie, but i haven't been a regular viewer since Melissa turned out the New Orleans show and went on to become one of the Girls Behaving Badly. So the only reason i even know about this latest development is because of Charles.

You know i had to investigate.

Seems there's this kinda-sexy brotha named Karamo on the show who stunned his straight, white, male roommates when he came out to them. I loved seeing their jaws literally drop at the end of the scene. (Of course, i probably would have clocked his T for myself after getting a load of his striptease in his casting video.)

Why is this a big deal?

Well, one thing i've notice since Ms. Bunim started the current boom in reality TV is that MTV is pretty much still the leader in this type of programming. I have yet to see a reality show on another network who's roots can't be traced back to something similar that MTV has already done. You can accuse MTV of fluff programming, but after they got over that whole "no videos by black artists" thing, they actually developed a history of being pretty progressive in the issues they tackle and the people they present. (Probably part and parcel of targeting their young and presumably progressive audience.) I'm actually surprised they haven't found a gay brotha before now. Now let's see if he finds another black man to hook up with.

I guess for me it's a big deal whenever i see more reflections of my folks on TV and in the movies. The more people see us, the more people will see us, y'know?

So let's see, who have we had so far? We had "Carter Heywood" on ABC's Spin City, we've got "Keith Charles" on HBO's Six Feet Under, and "Omar" on HBO's The Wire, Keith and Nathan on the aforementioned Showtime's American Candidate and ... um ... well that's about all i can come up with. (I am not counting minor walk-ons or straight actors who play over-the-top stereotypes just for laughs.) Oh yeah, and there's this South African TV show called Yizo Yizo, now in its third season, that has developed a relationship between two of the male characters.

Yes, two black gay male major characters on a television drama, and it happened in South Africa before the USA.

So, forgive me for getting excited about one more black gay man on TV -- and a real one at that. If you want to fault me for making to much of something trivial, go ahead. If you want to correct my on my list of black gay men on television, please send me an update.

For once, i look forward to being wrong.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The End of Labor Day Weekend

Atlanta's Black Gay Pride celebration has wrapped up for another year. With all the fantastic events and beautiful black folks all over the city this weekend, what better to blog about today.

Here's my Baker's Dozen for this week.

  1. Kudos to In The Life Atlanta for one of the best-organized events i've ever been a part of. It was really a fantastic weekend at Black Gay Pride in Atlanta, and while i'm tired as hell, i'm sorry it's over.
  2. The ADODI Muse: A Gay Negro Ensemble performed at the Opening Ceremonies and the crowd gave us MAD ENERGY. I love having the chance to share what we do with our folks.
  3. Imani Evans was incredible as the host of SpeakFire. (I was the co-host, but honey, i was just along for the ride.) She kept the crowd hot and lit up all night.
  4. New erotic poetry from sista Angie, the winner of our "Erotic Finals" at SpeakFire. I had fun hanging out with her the next day, doing the photo shoot she won as part of the impromptu competition.
  5. Got to see some of my favorite writers/performers again over the weekend. Why is it i only get to see brothas like Tim'm, Steven Fullwood, and Michael Christopher once a year or so. I gotta start traveling more.
  6. Spending quality time with my partner, Troy.
  7. Seeing all my beautiful peoples together just being themselves for the weekend. Made me think about all the possibilities, and what we need to do to make that kind of environment a reality on an everyday basis.
  8. The Friends party at TRAXX on Sunday night was old-school fun. The music took me back to my youth and i got a chance to hang out with some folks a little closer to my age than usual. We left in the wee hours, but the party was still going strong.
  9. No rain. In spite of predictions that Hurricane Frances would affect our weather up here as early as Saturday afternoon, there wasn't a drop to be seen all weekend.
  10. I spent up all my money in the marketplace again. Every year i say i won't do it, and every year there's somebody there who i want to support and somebody who has some new item i just can't resist and some author whose new book is out ... i end up spending way more money than i plan. Oh well, it's only money. So what if i don't eat next month.
  11. Did i mention all the beautiful people walking around Sheraton Colony Square all weekend? I could have booked a whole three or four calendars full of new models, just from sitting in the lobby of the hotel.
  12. Finally, the Atlanta premier of Noah's Arc was so packed, they had to run a second screening the next night (which was also packed). The director and guys from the cast were fantastic. They stuck around to sign autographs (and flirt here and there), and to answer audience questions. And on the second night, a minister from Unity Fellowship Church in Detroit got up and got the collection plate going to support the project. Within just a few minutes, the "ushers" had volunteered, somebody had found a couple of boxes, and they managed to collect over $500 from the crowd. To top it all off, Julian High from HRC pledged to match whatever was collected from the crowd. And there's news that the project may be coming to a cable channel near you sometime in the near future. Keep your eyes on for more updates. And go to to let them know you appreciate their financial support of the project.