Saturday, July 28, 2007

Serving Time

If you haven't seen this already, check out how the inmates of a Phillipine prison spend their time in the yard. Michael Jackson should be so proud.

Friday, July 27, 2007


A few weeks ago I was made aware by my very community active friends Gordon and Deborah, that a very popular Jamaican singer, Buju Banton, was scheduled to perform on the main stage at the
annual African/Caribbean International Festival of Life's July Fourth concert here in Chicago. Mr. Banton is well known not only for his music but for his flaming homophobia. His hateful lyrics, rhetoric and actions are anti-GLBT to the point of encouraging violence and even murder. His popular song Boom Bye Bye is an ode to the murder of homosexuals. His concerts have been protested in several countries with public officials in other countries calling for a complete ban.

Deborah and her organization Sankofa Way, in concert with The L.I.F.E. Association, The Coalition for Justice & Respect, and the Black LGBT & Allies for Equality, have been protesting this artist and any homophobic artist at any private club or theater where they perform.

The International Festival of Life billed as a "family festival" with the theme of "Bringing Nations Together", would be held in a city park. These organizations held a joint news conference at City Hall to protest allowing this outrage on city property, and call for sponsors to withdraw or justify their support for an artist who stands for hatred and killing. They also made clear that even if Banton does not sing his more hateful songs, he represents homophobia.
I quickly dashed off e-mails to all sponsors including main sponsor NBC 5 here in Chicago. Coming close on the heels of the Imus situation, the Public Relations Director I contacted and both news persons whose faces were representing channel 5 with the festival got back to me with the quickness. After several phone calls and e-mails, before the day was over, NBC had withdrawn their sponsorship of Banton. How 'bout that!

Now A Major Victory!
Gotta hit them in the wallet! Deb tells me that Mr. Banton has joined other homophobic performers in signing the Compassion Act. This is a promise to stop the hate in their music and public speech. Certainly this does not signify a change of heart. But, the cancellation and loss of sponsors for hundreds of shows have caused a change in behavior.
I believe in free speech. But IMO, for people from a homophobic culture, these hate filled dancehall songs are like yelling "fire' in a public building.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time Flies...

When you are blissfully happy. It's our anniversary today! 28 years! WooHoo!!!
Time for reflection. Hmmmm
Our song: Forever Mine - O'Jays
Our new favorite Song: We Will Dance - Nan Mason
Monica likes my - Pepper Steak
I like her - Spaghetti with meat sauce
Favorite Dance (traditional) - Steppin' and Electric Slide
Favorite Dance (modern) - Aunt Jackie and Walkin' it out
Favorite movie memory - In our first studio apartment on a freezing Chicago day, we closed the French doors to the bedroom area to keep warm and hunkered down near the kitchen, baked some cookies and watched Bette Davis in Jezebel.
Favorite Tradition - Jumping on the bed like little kids when we first go to any hotel room.
Favorite trip - Hawaii. First off, it was a free 7 days on Oahu, I won by writing a poem for a radio station. We had a blast from body surfing to hitting all the sleeziest night spots.
Favorite club - Gentry on Halsted. It is no more. Gone. We have many good memories and met many people both wonderful and strange. Thanks Nan Mason, Alex Billings, Honey West, Ginger Tam, the amazing Russ Long and Joey with his slushy machine.
Favorite daily ritual- We have a dry erase board in the kitchen. We alternate writing the "question of the day". The question can be about anything we want, from politics to, Monica, why are there 3 bottles of relish open in the fridge? Also we have wonderful breakfast chats.
Favorite physical feature - I love the cleft in her chin. A doctor actually asked Moni if she had it "put" in. Her mother was upset about that and strongly offered to go talk to the doctor.
Monica likes my - Eyes.
Our alter Egos
Me - Snoopy aka Superjackie
Monica - Woodstock aka hair standing up all over her head.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sheer Liza

Liza with a Z is something else.
J-LO forgetaboutit. You are no longer see-through queen on the red carpet. Check out the barely pants outfit Liza wore to the Hairspray Premiere.
And her gams look pretty darn good!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Black Church- Don't Go There!

I'll say it again, Monica Roberts is brilliant-and courageous. She has written a poem called They Don't Want No Sissy Church.

Monica takes on the church. I have been warned not to do that. Don't Go There! Especially the black church. Do Not Go There. I've been warned.

As Monica points out it is ironic that the very institutions that were the foundation and in the forefront of the civil rights movement are the same institutions that are providing strong support and ammo for Bush's deplorable, divisive attitudes and policies.

It doesn't matter whether we are regular church-goers or not, church teachings are ingrained and have been since slavery. I understand it is because the hope and strength it provided got us through the hardest of times making it difficult to question or accept new ways of looking at God and in particular the Bible. Questioning is not encouraged, it shows a lack of faith. Re-examining is not encouraged and will often get you kicked out. (See 20/20's report this Friday 7/13, to see a conservative mega church pastor who re-examined hell and the Bible and was ousted from his church.)

The teachings in the black church are often the basis of thinking (or not thinking) for most black people. I saw very funny comedienne Sherri Shepherd co-hosting on The View. The subject of evolution came up. She declared she believes her Bible not science.
I believe the literal interpretation of the Bible along with the don't think attitude is behind many of the social and cultural ills we face. Why has there always been an absence of science related black professionals? Science vs Bible?
Why is HIV/AIDS beyond plague status in my community. Much to blame are the anti-gay attitudes coming from the church. Yes, many churches now may have HIV/AIDS education etc. with love the sinner hate the sin approach, but the attitude for GLBT shame and the HIV/AIDS stigma is still overwhelming.
Why are our children killing each other? Where is the moral strength that used to come from the church? Certainly there is no lack of churches because there are sometimes three or four to a block. Count them, Moni and I have, it's unbelievable. and yet...
Is it because literal application of the Bible can lack relevance to today's world? God knows we aren't in the old covenant and that we drive cars, and women work, and planes fly, and we use the Internet. Where is the common sense? I'll betcha God is wondering about that. Gave them common sense and a brain, but they don't use them.
The Bible is the most wonderful guide for life. Common sense should tell us however that rules meant to keep people safe, prosperous and in order, in that time, don't always apply now. I believe God assumed we would know that.

I am not saying that black churches are not good places full of good people that do good things, they can be. I certainly cannot put every black church and congregation into a lump, there are certainly exceptions. I know also the problems we face are multi-faceted. The black church is certainly a strong presence and foundation of the community. So, I'd love to see that foundation strengthened by allowing people to open their minds, use their brains, re-examine, and grow without fear to become a strong, relevant, inclusive foundation built on open hearts, and minds that know God didn't stop speaking to us ages ago.

Jesus told us he is not going to be here always and directed us to do what he did and better. And Better.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Comfort Zone

In the last few weeks it has come to my attention that we live in a euphemistic society. Oh you say, that's not news. No, but it's getting worse and we need to watch out for it especially from this particular President.
A recent Bill Maher show guest was Republican Pollster Frank Luntz. Luntz wrote a book called Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear. During the show Bill Maher said "Bush has made us weaker. Why don't the Democrats just say the word "weak" over and over? "Bush lost the war. He made us weaker." Because he did. The National Intelligence estimate that came out last year said, undeniably, all our intelligence agencies agree, the war in Iraq has created more terrorists."
Weak Weaker and more Weak. Say it! Why are the Democrats afraid to just say it?

Anyway, under Lunzt's skill in language crafting, Bush tells us that Global Warming is really just "Climate Change", drilling for oil is actually "Responsible Exploration for Energy" and logging is "Healthy Forests Initiative". Yep, sounds better and less scary. So I guess we should listen when the Administration talks about how the Troop Surge is working, even though the violence has increased. What is this administration's meaning of "winning"?

Of course we are all aware of used car sale tricks but guess what, there are no more "used" cars. They are all pre owned or pre driven vehicles. How 'bout that?

On 20/20 a recent report on the benefits and problems of selling your house yourself instead of using a broker was interesting especially regarding the sales ads.
"The dead giveaway for a house that's in trouble is the exclamation point. !! When you've got exclamation points littered through the listing, that's probably a sign the house has problems." Uh Huh!!!
Words to watch out for whether writing or reading a real estate ad.....
"Fantastic", "charming", "spacious", "great neighborhood" those are terms that are correlated with lower sales prices. "Fantastic" is a term thrown in when a broker can't think of anything else. Also "cozy" usually means small and "charming" usually means old, dark, dank and small. On the flipside 20/20 found that five descriptors were associated with quality and higher prices: "state of the art," "gourmet," "maple," "granite" and "Corian" (that's a material for countertops).

So beware realty brokers, because 20/20 spilled the beans and also beware if you are doing the Buy Owner thing.

If you've ever been involved in planning a funeral, you know euphemisms abound. Even born and died become sunrise and sunset, appearance/entrance and exit/departed, or came to this earth and left this earth. The funeral itself is now sometimes called a "celebration of life". That's nice. In my culture it used to be mandatory for everyone to be crying and wailing away and falling out during the service. I have been to some doozies, let me tell you. My mother tells me that in the south, back in the day, the service would go on until everyone was crying, no matter how longggg it took. As a kid going to funerals, I'd forget all about the deceased person and watch the show. Don't get me wrong, people are emotional, I am emotional, so I understand getting your cry on. But I do like the focus on the person's life rather than death itself. I like feeling better after a funeral, full of memories and learning how the person touched others instead of full of dread that "soon one morning, death come a-creeping in the room". OMG!

Monica and I went to the bank recently and the young reception/information woman directed us to the waiting area before speaking to our banker. "Please have a seat in the "Comfort Zone".
Comfort Zone?
"Yes", she said in an incredulous embarrassed whisper, "and the bankers cubicles are now called Hotel Rooms". "Have you ever heard of anything so silly?"
Well, the Comfort Zone didn't feel any more comfy than when it was called a waiting area. They didn't even add any new magazines. Do they think we won't notice we are waiting?
So now we are going to a banker's Hotel Room? Not that business can't be conducted in a hotel room, of course it can and not only shady lady biz either. But, how could any bank think that this will conjure up positive connotations in a financial institution? Ok, I get the idea behind the comfort zone, but someone explain the thinking behind the hotel/bank word association.
Of course I asked Rex, our banker, if he had a mini bar. Rex just rolled his eyes and didn't want to talk about it. And wouldn't ya know it, the computer was down, he couldn't get it up and we couldn't take care of business. I'm just saying, watch those euphemisms.

Comedian George Carlin is a master analyst of language usage and he hates euphemisms. This man is a genius.