28 August 2008

biden my tongue

hey gayle,

here are thoughts on day 4:


i fucking hate msnbc and these crying black women they've chosen to interview.

dear obamanuts: if elected, he will disappoint you. love, me.

i'll be re-reading octavia butler this weekend. i'm sure she covered this whole thing somewhere.

barack obama is officially nominated. and white people feel good about themselves.

i used to like keith olbermann--when he was an anchor on sportscenter.

why am i so thoroughly underwhelmed? *checking pulse now*


bubba clinton! the original black president.

wjc gets on stage and folks forget about all the clinton hate.

admit it: y'all would vote him a third term if you could.

michelle obama cannot even muster a smile with teeth. icy.

speaking of dentals, at what point during this speech did bill clinton start lying through his teeth?

"renewal of the battle against hiv/aids at home." good call, clint.

i think i'll call day three, "old white guy validation night."

bill clinton could've had the dnc's shortest speech if he had said what he wanted, which was, "i hope he loses."

"and what about katrina..." that's what's up, bill.

political conventions are very much like las vegas: both inspire very tacky fashion.

bill clinton is way cooler than barack obama. and he doesn't even have the "benefit" of melanin!

bill clinton was a black preacher in a former life.

hmm... a black woman introduces joe biden, and talks about the violence against women act. still i say: ANITA HILL. ANITA HILL. ANITA HILL.

countless women get a second chance at life? maybe. second chance to put a justice on the supreme court? maybe not.

joe biden is boring me. i need him to say something inappropriate in 5...4...3...

i don't know why, but i keep thinking about all the right moves.

"freudian slip!" that's close to the joe i know.

"that's not change. that's more of the same." that's not very catchy. not even for a fast food commercial.

bruce springsteen. what an obvious choice.

...and there's the anointed one now.

he speaks!

shouts out his boo.

"hillary clinton rocked the house?" what is he? a hype man? from '83?

if barack "big ups" someone, i will enthusiastically vote for him. and make sure dead people vote for him, too-- chicago-style.

i wonder what the musical selections will be for bho tomorrow. personally, i'd love some lil wayne. it'll prolly be earth, wind, and fire or someone like that.. though, if you're gonna go 70s, i'd prefer parliament funkadelic. no, wait. he should play some lionel richie.

michelle got that, "that's my boo," look.

27 August 2008

i need a (traveling) pantsuit.

mayor villaragossa is a handsome dude. and sitting right behind bill clinton. let's call that section "philanderer's corner."

bill clinton is always within spitting distance of a black dude.

did i just see judge mathis?

"no way, no how, no mccain." i likes, hillary. i likes.

shout out puerto rico! boricua, baby!

"sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits." that's two, hillary! two!
hi gayle,

here are my thoughts on day two of the dnc:

way to shout out those who have passed on, hills. pour out a lil liquor.

"...twin cities... awfully hard to tell apart..." hillary is slaughtering these dudes. she should become a battle rapper.

so, it's not michelle obama, but hillary clinton who shouts out the black women ancestors? ironic, no?

is it too late to vote for hillary clinton?

on some identity politics game, i'm kinda sad for the women who won't live long enough to elect a woman president of the united states. i hope i don't become part of that group.

26 August 2008

conventional observations.

hi gayle,

i don't know if you saw any of day one of the democratic national convention last night. i did. i've posted some of my reactions below:

i have nothing bad to say about ted kennedy.

michelle obama is freshly relaxed. yep, yep. frankie said it, and she followed suit. bouncing and behavin'. go, (south side) girl! hawaiian silky, beyotch!! (has she been on the cover of sophisticate's black hair yet? i'm sure she has. hell, ebony is acting like the obamas are the only black family in the country.)

no microphone near joe biden. good call. just show us those pearly whites, and the white hair that rivals anderson cooper's. takethattakethattakethat, andy.

will i live to see the day when the most non-threatening black people on the planet no longer have to be all subtly obsequious, subliminally telling white folks that they aren't black nationalists? i mean, fuck, her relaxer is FRESH! she is not sweating that shit out by rocking black leather and a beret in august! damn...

and while i'm at it, will cindy mccain have to make a similar speech? probably not. actually, not at all.

"...like hillary clinton..." nice gesture. you shoulda big upped shirley chisholm. though, it might've been disorienting for white people, i imagine. right now, i'm pretty sure you, beyonce, condoleezza rice, and oprah are the only black women that white people think exist. yeah, y'all and shawanda down in human resources. what can i say? all the black people are men, all the women are white... (what is, but some of us are brave?)

i really wish barack had joined us via satellite from a black home. i know there are some nigs in kansas city, mo. i've met a few. can you imagine it? barack drinkin' a forty, playing bones, eating barbecue, peeping his shorty spit game to the delegates. why ain't eddie griffin at the crib?

what's this? michelle obama got ass! duly noted.

sasha and malia? straight press and curl.

kids with microphones are as cute as kids on answering machines: not at all. kids only get a laugh from me when they cuss. a nineteen-month old saying, "this is some bullshit," gets me every time. way better than fart jokes.

i think donna brazile is attractive. and a dagger. you think she hooked michelle up with her stylist? donna's shit is always shining! both should get pantene sponsorships after tonight.

21 August 2008

jimmy. crack. corn. (and i don't care.)


a few weeks ago, npr ran a story on why black people, er, excuse me, african(-)americans "loathe" uncle tom. lately, the blatantly obvious has been getting a lot of play in the media (cnn's black in america, anyone?) these days, but that's neither here nor there. the story was a part of the station's in character series, and my beloved michelle norris interviewed a folklorist who discussed the ways in which stowe's characters were extracted from the novel, and reworked (read: distorted), and subsequently occupied an incredibly profound role in 19th century america's popular culture psyche.

i forwarded the story to a friend of mine. we both agreed that the highlight of the interview was the folklorist's response to a question inquiring about the possibility of uncle tom not eliciting such a negative response amongst folks. she said, "i don't think the real uncle tom will ever be restored from the shackles of distortion." damn. the homie and i masticated on that nugget of commentary for a bit, flirted with a book idea, and then probably ended up talking about barack obama, as we are wont to do.

along with the school gig, i work as a research assistant for a professor. occasionally, my job requires that i read old newspapers and magazines; i look for anything from serialized stories and book reviews to obituaries. the work, though sometimes tedious, can be interesting and rewarding. one of the highlights of this kind of job is looking at advertisements in the paper. from skin bleaching treatments to hair straighteners to pancake mix, i find them all fascinating. maybe i just dig mammies and old black uncles (not the jeremiah wright kind) enticing me to buy syrup or rice. after all, i am an american. (note to self: search for and bid on a topsy doll over on ebay.)

these days, of course, we like to purport that we are wiser and much more evolved than the early 20th century consumer. so mammies and such don't get as much play as they used to. aunt jemima gets a texturizer. or is it a perm? and, i guess, since we've nearly exorcised our consuming selves of all branding with stereotypical images of negroes inspired by those glorious plantation days (i'll take my stand, too, goddamnit!), we can now (again) turn to other countries to make sure they walk in our footprints. in other words, it's time for memin pinguin: the sequel.

in the wonderfully titled, "negrito please," (what can i say? i love puns.), tamara walker, a contributer to the root, interrogates a figure--one that she sees as a stereotype of black folks, one that falls in line with previous images on american products, and thusly offensive-- she encountered while visiting mexico. bimbo, a baked goods company, likes to advertise its goods to our southern neighbors with the help of negrito, a "little black black boy," who apparently enjoys sweets. walker has two questions: 1) why doesn't she see these images on package in the states? and 2) why do mexico and other latin american countries continue to use them?

walker didn't have to spend an entire article answering these inquiries, as i think i can do it more quickly: 1) you don't find these images in the u.s. because american negroes just wouldn't have it. 2) i imagine, and this is just an educated guess, that discourse(s) on race might not be the same south of the border. so maybe the images can be used "down there," because those inhabitants view them in a different context. then again, who am i? i barely paid attention in honors spanish.

i've written about this before; i'll repeat, expound. context is crucial. the american exceptionalist rhetoric applies to negroes, too. i suppose since we feel that we've been relatively successful in ridding ourselves of negrito, et. al. images to advertise products, that we are master teachers on the whole stereotypical image game, that other people do or should react to such images in the way that we do. if they don't, surely they must be complicit in accepting, if not also spreading, a certain form of racism. maybe. maybe not. american exceptionalism implies superiority. it also suggests difference. can we simultaneously argue for a unique experience, and demand that people respond in the way we do... to pictures? i'm not sure we can.

further, in spanish speaking countries, negrito is actually a term of endearment. so for walker to simply translate the name "negrito" literally, without providing its actual meaning is slightly disingenuous. not that walker's point is totally off base. i mean, clare's husband did call her lovingly referred to her as "nig." yet at the same time, brian was adament about moving to brazil, because he believed that race (and racism) worked differently there. calling someone (like a barack obama, for example) a little black boy would undoubtedly warrant a smack in the face; or, for the non-violent, politically correct types, an issued apology by the offending perpetrator. if someone calls you "negrito/a" in mexico, however, it more than likely calls for humming a bar or two of jt's "sexy back." in other words, we cannot so easily apply our ideological perspectives, and sensitivities, onto other countries, into other contexts.

finally, and walker tepidly acknowledges this, erasing bandannad black women from our grocery store aisles doesn't mean we've overcome. i want to take that point a bit further. of course we don't have these images on food packaging; we don't need them. the topsies, the jemimas and uncle bens have all been replaced--by real black people. to return to uncle tom, it doesn't really matter if he'll be recovered from his distortion. black people have become caricatures of themselves. just ask debra lee how her bank account stays so fat, or vh1 how they get their show ideas.

on a lighter note, personally, i think packaging changes make the cream of wheat, etc. taste different. i might be an exception, though.

13 August 2008

avuncular. black. comedy.

hi gayle,

i don't know if you read it, but i really enjoy the blog, stereohyped. i check it frequently, as it cuts down on any extra internet searching i'd have to do to get all upset about the world. anyway, i just checked the minority report, and apparently good ol' reverend jeremiah wright is at it again. according to the blog, what about our daughters, word on the street is that rev. wright has an "october surprise" for the obama campaign, and presumably, the rest of (goddamn) america. allegedly, wright will publish a book and go on tour just before the november election. now that's a crazy uncle for that ass!

i did some searching, and maybeprobablyapparently this is a dirty rumor, but i don't really care because it inspired a great idea. i've decided to write a treatment for a sitcom--because black life in america, if anything, is sitcom-worthy-- called, "that's my crazy uncle." here's the concept: an upwardly mobile black couple with two children (maybe two daughters, or a boy and a girl) have decided to take in the wife's aging uncle, a former minister, war veteran, etc.. he's recently had a stroke (a la my beloved sophia petrillo, r.i.p.), and shouldn't be left alone. he has no children, and refuses to go into a nursing home. since the couple is the most well-off of anyone else in the family, they've decided to take him in. the laughs mostly come from the interaction he has with the children, the well-meaning, liberal white neighbors and friends, and the husband--who, though black, didn't really grow up around other negroes (maybe he was adopted by a white family or something) and doesn't really code switch with the best of them. maybe the uncle, let's call him uncle tom, has a nickname for him, a version of george jefferson's "honky" or "zebras," but something more creative than "oreo." i'd suggest "nesquik," (br'er rabbit for that ass) or maybe even "ovaltine," but that might cause some legal issues.

i imagine the pilot episode might be called something like "the housewarming." the family has recently moved into a new neighborhood, and they've invited a few of their white neighbors over for dinner. say they serve, i dunno, baked chicken, and the uncle makes fried chicken jokes and such. though his niece suggests that baked chicken is more healthy, he complains. he says things like, "when white people come to black people's houses for dinner, they expect several things. among those things are fried chicken and the electric slide." maybe he pretends to be benson the whole night--we could constantly refer to other black sitcoms, in that quentin tarantino kind of way. do you see where i'm going with this? (oh, and there could be the episode where one of the children is doing a school project on u.s. history... or one where the son has to confront a bully at school...)

"that's my crazy uncle" could be the "dy-no-mite!" or the "whatchu talkin' 'bout, willis?" every black show has to have-- something catchy and not really funny that white people can say to each other while tailgating or talking to their black colleague at work. you know, it can be a line the the husband or wife says right before bed when they're chatting it up the way cliff and clair used to do back in the day.

is upn still in existence? i really don't want to pitch this to bet. i don't think they'd get it. though if donnie simpson would do a cameo during the first season, i'd totally go that route.

people may find it controversial, but i think this idea is way better than a sassy maid. what do you think, gayle?

11 August 2008

hold on, my people.


you know what really bothers me? black people who refer to their job site as a "the plantation," or derivatives thereof. quite a while ago, i was peeping in on some myspace pages, and saw a picture this woman had taken of herself while sitting in her cubicle. the blurb under it read, "at the plantation." that is, frankly, utterly ridiculous. i was incensed (maybe i overreacted. perhaps i was ovulating-- or whatever). so much so that i mildly wished there was an overseer nearby to give her a lash or two, just for being an idiot. though i make no arguments about things in this world being sacred and untouchable, i just don't think most black folks today can make analogies about their current predicaments being like the middle passage and events thereafter. especially if you have a job. that pays you. and a digital camera. and internet access. besides, no one's going to cut your foot off for trying to take a "vacation" up north.

anyway, the point? well, i've consistently argued--to anyone who would half listen to my not so sober ass-- that modern-day black folks were just weaker, a bunch of punks compared to our ancestors. my cuticles, for example, dry up if i fail to apply burt's bees lemon butter cuticle creme after each hand wash. can you imagine them after picking cotton? my cantankerous claim about my skin folks, however, was directly challenged, and subsequently dismantled, during every minute of the latest documentary on hurricane katrina, trouble the water. after the film, i dined on (jim) crow. (actually, i just went and checked out epic burger. the burgers are only so-so, by the way.)

a synopsis. two documentary film makers head to new orleans to shoot footage of the hurricane katrina aftermath. as the gods would have it, they run into kimberly rivers roberts, an emcee (black kold madina), and her husband, scott, two ninth ward residents who have survived the disaster. not only have they lived to tell their story, but astonishingly, kim had the foresight--and bravery-- to film their experience, and that of their neighbors, with her video camera. interspersed with footage by the documentary film crew and clips from various news and media outlets, we witness the roberts' life immediately before, during (yes, during!), and after the hurricane hit. it's a documentary that exposes the true nature of endurance, humanity, survival... and just how fucked up the government is.

we are a chosen people. we must be.

what i like about the film is that there's no old-school anthropological fetishizing of the subject bullshit here. there's no vulgar marxist mythologizing of the folk. because, for the most part, this time the folk got to tell their own damn story, and vocalize their own assessments of the situation. no one needs or dares speak for them--on the high or low(er) frequencies. they know exactly what's up, and they don't mind telling us.

the story is biblical--in proportion and theme. it's the story of noah, moses, and jesus in one; an old and new testament cocktail. the flood: well, that's obvious. roberts points her camera, and shows us her view from the attic: hard rain, a massive deluge of water covering street signs. noah: suddenly, the camera's eye catches larry, a ninth ward neighbor, literally wading in the water with a heavy boxing bag in tow. he's decided to transport his neighbors, one by one, to higher ground. roberts commentary is pithy, "katrina is a bad bitch."

moses: after the storm, scott finds a truck and transports 30 of his neighbors to a naval base, only to be met by a salute of m-16s. so they wander, looking for some sort of refuge. yes, the end of the storm is only the beginning. zion remains ever-elusive.

trouble the water made a believer out of me. whatever "slave mentality" our previous kinfolks had to survive the middle passage, slavery, jim crow... dwells somewhere still. (i know i'm making an essentialist argument. i kind of don't give a fuck.) unfortunately, it seems that inhumanity has to rear its ugly head for us to remember how incredibly resilient, creative, and, perhaps, human we are. that we hold within us a legacy, and descend from and remain a part of an enduring community of survivors. black survivors.

we are a chosen people.

10 August 2008

saturday night fever.

it's four am on a saturday night. well, sunday morning. and i want cookies. doughy, chocolate chip cookies. to distract myself from popping the four remaining pieces of "all natural" cookie dough i still have in the freezer, i've decided to speak with you, anonymous electronic reader.

it's been quite a while since i've done this. it feels like a stealthy, quietlittle comeback into the blogging world. i like it so far. it's like getting re-acclimated to roller skates after years off wheels, or moving your hand for the first time after having the cast removed: good, but funny and chicken soup weak. eventually, i'll get my sea legs. i hope.

or maybe this is how people feel when they wake up the next morning, adjusting their eyes to the unobstructed rays of sunshine and the face of an ex. the morning, sober mind immediately realizes some horrendous decisions must have been made the night before to result in the current predicament. except, fortunately, there will be no awkwardness at the door should i decide that no matter what i said the night before, i'm still not ready for this kind of commitment. we'll see.

either way, here i am, starting this new blog, "my best friend gayle." i think it's a swell name for a confessional blog. and, tonight at least, i think i'll treat this place as an online diary of sorts, my electronic best friend. i'll tell you all my (not so) secret opinions on the news of the day, or whatever else might move me. this time i'm more naked and loose; this is an "i'm in my silk jammies in the bed right before night time talking to my best friend on the phone" version of my former life (those were good times, no?). my goal is to write in a sort of "it's the last thing i do, right after i finish my tea and read portions of the secret and poems from maya angelou's selected works" way. you know, if i did that kind of shit.

(f'real, what kind of shit do oprah and gayle talk about?)

gayle, i think my next entry will be a review of this AMAZING! documentary i saw the other day. if i was oprah, i'd totally have the film makers on the show when i came back from hiatus. and then i'd cry as they told their stories, and then tell all the white people watching me on tv to go and see the documentary because it would change their lives, and maybe some of them would even find their passion. in actuality, i'd just be subliminally telling them to go see the documentary because i thought it was AMAZING! but not in the same way i find tyler perry movies and movies with john travolAHHHH in them AMAZING! but a more serious AMAZING! the kind of AMAZING! i reserve for my humanitarian endeavors. but that would only be if i was oprah. and since i'm not, i'll just have to pretend i'm talking to my own best friend gayle instead. and that's what this blog is. i hope that makes sense. i think it does.

so far so good.

g'night, gayle.

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