Wednesday, May 31, 2006


June 1st is the first day of Gay Pride Month.
So get ready to pull out and see lots of rainbow accessories to be worn, waved, adorned, and stuck proudly on a float.

Pride is the keyword here. So be proud my brothers and sisters. Remember that being able to be out and proud -- are things we fought for, things we're still fighting for. So party, dance, be together, remember those who have gone before and those who support us, celebrate our heroes and our lives and do it with dignity.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ball and Brunch

More fabulous photos from the Legends weekend.

Coretta Scott King arrives on the arm of Martin L. King Jr.

Diana Ross, Tina, Oprah and Maya
How could all these wonderful women have been together in one place. Amazing!

Angela Bassett gets emotional as Halle Berry takes her turn to Speak Their Names.
"My sisters, we are gathered here to speak your names. We are here because we are your daughters as surely as if you had conceived us, nurtured us, carried us in your wombs and then sent us out into the world to make our mark, and see what we see and be what we be, but better, truer, deeper because of the shining example of your own incandescent lives." - Pearl Cleage

Dancin' at the Ball, John Travolta and Kellie Preston and Stedman and Oprah!

Rev. Jesse Jackson and Mariah Carey

The Brunch was a delicious food and musical feast and a great way to end the weekend. Check it out!

Legends Luncheon

Halle Berry and Tina Turner arrive for the LEGENDS Luncheon.

Diahann Carroll, Tina Turner, Darnell Martin, Angela Bassett and Susan Taylor

Models, Naomi Campbell and Iman

Alisha Keys with Maya Angelou

Iman, Michelle Obama, Pam Grier, and Debbie Allen

Mariah Carey, Brandy Norwood, Patti La Belle, Mary J. Blige and Cicely Tyson

Yolanda Adams, Nancy Wilson and Phylicia Rashad

Dorothy Height and Shirley Caesar

Poetic tribute. Ashanti, Janet Jackson,Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliot

The most beautiful depiction of what this event was about. Kathleen Battle is gripped with emotion and gratitude as she embraces Leontyne Price, the woman who paved the way for her in the operatic world.

Janet Jackson and Della Reese

Thursday, May 25, 2006

LEGENDS and Young'uns

Last Monday night I experienced the most wonderful heartwarming, fulfilling hour of television ever. Last year Oprah threw a three day tribute to a group of African American women she called LEGENDS. These are women we all know, grew up with, idolized and admired. They are important especially to Black women. These women should be acknowledged for their accomplishments, contributions and triumphs and their struggles and resilience in a segregated male oriented world. This tribute was all about thank you and gratitude.

The weekend took a year of painstaking planning for Oprah, Gail King and the party planner, chefs and…you know. The Friday luncheon was held at Oprah’s California home with lavish detail to pay tribute to Queens. It was spectacular! It was intentionally, deservedly exquisite. In attendance to pay tribute was the other group of accomplished, junior legends in the making, women that Oprah called the Young’uns. The Legends and Young’uns did not know who else was coming, making the arrivals a swirl of hugs and OMG’s and “hey girl’s” and surprises. After lunch they all took a trolley to the spot where they posed for a magnificent portrait, then walked back across the bridge together talking. The generational exchanges were amazing. The younger women were telling the Legends how they impacted their lives. Mary J. Blige told Gladys Knight that her childhood had few great nights but Gladys’ music “saved my life”; Della Reese telling about working Las Vegas hotels but not being able to eat or sleep there; Janet Jackson kneeling next to and listening intently to Maya Angelou; Ruby Dee talking with Angela Bassett; Missy Elliot looking humbled and awed and teary.
Cicely Tyson- “I look at all the accomplished women and feel honored that I am among them”.
Janet Jackson- “I have never experienced anything like this ever in my life.”

Young’un poet/playwright Pearl Cleage was asked by Oprah to write a poem defining the event.
We Gather Here To Speak Your Names. We Speak Your Names. In her introduction, the poet shares: "My sisters, here, there, and everywhere, this poem is for you. Use it, adapt it, pass it on. …" During the reading the tears flowed, the younger women were almost gushing with gratitude and the Legends were so full you could see and feel them accepting it, relishing it.
It was beautiful.
Monica and I loved it. I was crying as usual and my phone kept ringing. “Are you watching this?”…ring…”hey there’s Tina and Chaka and Diana…ring…“is that Melba Moore?”…ring… “you see how Mariah is looking at Nancy Wilson, beautiful”.

Lastly, Oprah presented all the women with diamond expressions of appreciation. Drop diamonds earrings for the Legends and hoops for the Young’uns! OMG! The squealing! Women know they love some diamonds! The evening was extravagant, the gifts extravagant but Oprah said,
“There isn’t a gift I could have given to equal what you have meant to my life so no matter how extravagant, it still is not enough”.
We were feeling that too. One thing this event did even through the TV, is make you feel strongly the gifts these women gave us and she's right, it can never be enough. But how good it must feel to be so sincerely thanked for your work, for your life and as Alicia keys said ‘know that they will not be forgotten”.
I regret Rosa Parks was not there but so glad Corretta King was.

Saturday night was the white-tie Legends Ball, a celebratory night of recognition and acknowledgment and partying. More legends and celebs attending, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Walters, Barbra Streisand, Spike Lee, Smokey Robinson, the Wayan brothers, Jonathan Demme, Usher, John Travolta (who cried through it all), Maria Shriver and more. There was another dramatic reading of We Speak Your Names by the younger women, Angela, Halle, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, and the others, followed by Oprah reading each name as the Legend rose. And finally, partying! Dancing! Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Diane Sawyer, Oprah and Stedman, Gail and John Travolta, everybody dancing!

Now comes Sunday morning brunch with biscuits and fried chicken and waffles and Bebe Winans and more tears from John Travolta. (He’s worse than me.) Bebe passed the mike around starting with gospel legend Shirley Ceasar, then to Gladys, Dionne, Chaka, Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams. Yall know it was church up in there! Beautiful, emotional, spirited ending.

Monica remarks often that young people don’t respect those that came before or the work it took to lay down the path they walk down so easily. Hopefully some young girls will see the entertainers they look up to paying reverence to these women, and get it.
Alisha Keys said quietly, almost as if awakening, “It’s all clear to me, oh, oh, I’m supposed to continue this amazing, incredible, how can we ever live up to it example. And we will. We will live up to it.”
Diane Sawyer - “I thought it was to be a standard tribute, then realized how intensely personal it was”.
My nephew Nolen said he drew inspiration from the event and we talked about the individual legends, some he was not familiar with. He spoke of male legends and wanting an event for them. Poitier, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Rev. Jackson, Bill Cosby, we named them. To be appreciated by Denzell, Barack, Jamie and Will. To put on the mind of the new celebs, is your work the quality of the legends? Are your shoulders worthy and broad enough and substantial enough to stand on? That’s a question for all of us. Great conversation.

I am grateful to Oprah for her inspired generosity.
She did this for herself, she was compelled to, knowing she is not where she is without standing on these women’s shoulders. I’m also sure she knew it would inspire us to speak their names beyond that gathering. So as Oprah said,
“To every Legend known or unknown, we honor you, we thank you, we owe you.”

MAYA ANGELOU - writer/poet/actress
SHIRLEY CAESAR - gospel singer
DIAHANN CARROLL - singer/actress
RUBY DEE - actress
KATHERINE DUNHAM - dancer/choreographer
DOROTHY HEIGHT- civil rights activist
LENA HORNE - singer/actress
CORETTA SCOTT KING - civil rights activist
ROSA PARKS - community activist/seamstress
LEONTYNE PRICE - opera singer
DELLA REESE - actress/singer
NAOMI SIMS - model
TINA TURNER - singer
CICELY TYSON - actress
NANCY WILSON - jazz singer

Kimberly Elise - actress
Alicia Keys - singer/songerwiter/musician
Phylicia Rashad - actress/singer
Beverly Johnson - model
Alfre Woodard - actress
Suzan-Lori Parks - playwright
Gayle King - editor "O" magazine
Mariah Carey - singer
Annah Deaver Smith - playwright
Terry McMillan - writer
Valerie Simpson - singer/songwriter
Halle Berry - actress
Ashanti - singer
Angela Bassett - actress
Missy Elliot - rap artist
Michelle Obama - community affairs executive
Debbie Allen - actress/dancer/choreographer
Pam Grier - actress
Chaka Kahn - singer
Susan L. Taylor - editorial director, Essense magazine
Pearl Cleage - poet/playwright
Kathleen Battle - opera singer
Darnell Martin - director/screenwriter
Melba Moore - singer/actress
Audra McDonald - actress/singer
Janet Jackson - singer/actress
Suzanne de Passe - television producer/writer
Judith Jameson - dancer/choreographer
Iman - model
Mary J. Blige - singer
Natalie Cole - singer
Tyra Banks - model/TV personality
Naomi Campbell - model
Brandy Norwood - actress/singer
Yolanda Adams - singer

Monday, May 15, 2006


Last Friday night my mother called me at an unusually late 11:30pm. I could hear them talking but not to me and there is a constant high pitched beeping going on. Then mom finally comes to the phone and says in a panic,” Jackie, I can’t see anything and the house is burning down! My house is on fire! Oh God it’s burning down, I can’t see!” Now I connect that the beeping is the smoke alarm. I started screaming GET OUT OF THERE! I have never felt such panic. She is in the house wimpering and repeating that the whole house is burning down. I am now yelling to get out. Now, Monica is awake and panicking too. We are trying to help over the phone, panicking, getting dressed and calling the fire department. I asked where are you now? “I’m on the front porch!” Well, that’s better but still not good. I yell, Get over to Agnes’ house away from there! Is everybody out? She said yes they were all out. I say a thank you prayer and tell Moni they are all out and that I hear the sirens coming. Then I hear this woman, my mother, say, somebody go in and get my hair brush. WHAT!!!!!!!! Is she MAD!!!!!!!! OMG! She’s lost her mind! A few more words from me as you can imagine. I hung up called my nephew and by the time we got there the fire was out and the firemen were gone. Luckily the considerable structural fire damage was contained to the kitchen and the firemen did not use water and their axes. Another prayer of thanks. But of course the smoke damage was everywhere. I got mom calmed down at her neighbors and Moni talked to my dad, he was ok and talking to another neighbor. My nephew Nolen, arrived and was great with his grandparents as always. He is also an insurance claims adjuster and speaks that lingo. He handled everything. ANOTHER thank you prayer!

My sister was heating some oil for french fries and fell asleep and damn near burned down her mother’s house, to say the least. Needless to say no one was very happy with her. We were there all night cleaning up the mess as best we could.

Mother’s Day we had planned dinner but now the kitchen was a disaster, the stove was out of it and microwave looked like some kind of misshaped monster. My nephew’s wife Aisha, cooked enough food for an army and they lugged it all over on Sunday. I love that girl. It was, despite everything, a wonderful day of family and fun. One more thank you prayer. My 2 year old nephew NJ, who is very enthused about his new skill, saying his blessing before eating, (it’s so funny) insists we do it several times during dinner. I guess it was appropriate for that day.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Katie Hepburn

Today is Katharine Hepburn's birthday! There was a Hepburn marathon on Turner Classic Movies today.
I saw one of my favorite Hepburn films, Pearl S. Buck's Dragon Seed. The cast included Akim Tamiroff, Walter Houston, J. Carrol Naish, and Turhan Bey.
This beautifully filmed and directed movie took some criticism because Caucasian actors played Asian roles. I think the actors succeeded because they used phrasing and mannerisms rather than attempting Asian accents which would have been corny and obvious.

Dragon Seed is the story of a small Chinese village's response to the invading Japanese army during WW II. Excellent depiction of what war and desperation does to people. Hepburn plays Jade, a young wife who breaks away from the traditional woman's place and takes a stand. Wonderful performances by the cast including Agnes Moorehead and Ailine MacMahon who was nominated for best supporting actress Oscar.

Also Guess Who's Coming To Dinner came on later. The last time I saw this great film was in Chicago's Grant Park festival, and a torrential storm hit us just as they were going in to dinner. We all got soaked down through our skivies, socks, bones..SOAKED! It was wonderful!
Happy Birthday Kate! You were the best.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Out Of His Tree

Rolling Stones Guitarist, Keith Richards is in an Auckland, NZ hospital undergoing treatment for a head injury sustained when he fell out of a tree. This is one of those news reports that make you laugh even though it's not funny. Keith Richards falls from a tree. Oh No! giggle giggle...

Well, the definitive question is, what the heck was he doing in a tree? A tree, and a palm tree, not the easiest tree to climb. Does this man look like he should be in a tree? OK..OK, you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, Keith had to have surgery to relieve pressure to his brain from the fall. They had to actually drill holes in his head. (Stop giggling). He has been released from the hospital but will remain in Auckland as an outpatient for a while before rejoining the Stones for the European leg of their current tour. Keith thanked the Auckland staff.
"From the doctors to the beautiful ladies who make painful nights less painful and shorter. I'm pretty much at a loss for words to express my deep gratitude," he said.

"I hope I wasn't too much of a pain in the arse - after all it was my head they fixed. Many thanks, kiwis."
What a guy!

Regardless of the spontaneous giggling, I was a bit upset about this report because I love Keith Richards and the Stones. He is in my opinion the greatest blues based rock rhythm guitarist ever. I love the guitar and play a little and I love his open chord tunings. I have a less than ok ear but Keith's alternative tunings seemed to work in my ear and my head remarkably well. So Keith is my boy, my favorite Stone. My mother has some kind of thing for Mick Jagger, she just loves him, always has. I hope Mick stays out of trees.