27 December 2010


I've known my daddy to leave town and stay overnight for three events: 1. His yearly trips to Las Vegas, NV, 2. My sister's wedding, and 3. A Rick James concert in Indianapolis.  As my father recalls, I was in utero when he and my mom took that 2-hour drive south for the Rick James show. As a toddler, I rocked my mom's boots to achieve the Street Songs look.  I have learned many things from my father.  I understood credit default swaps by likening them to craps.  Anyone splitting anything higher than a pair eights is stupid, selfish, or both.  The musical legacy my father passed on to me was a great love for Morris Day and The Time and the aforementioned Rick James.  The latter musical gift meant that I eventually became fluent in all things Teena Marie.  I was hanging out in Black Twitter when the news hit my timeline.  (It was quite some time before CNN or HuffPo confirmed, by the way.) Our remembrance of Teena Marie's life began right there--electronically, collectively.  

Perhaps my mourning leads to more hyperbole than usual, but the term "blue-eyed soul" does not apply to Teena Marie.  Hall & Oates? Yes. Lisa Stansfield? Sure. Amy Winehouse? Yep. But Teena Marie?  Nope.  I'm not the one to deny that 'hood passes have been issued and/or revoked--because they have.  But Teena Marie was never issued one.  'Hood passes are for those just passing through, for those appropriating aspects of black culture for a hit or two, in search of some "street cred" and nothing more but a side-eye from the natives.  Not Teena Marie.  Teena Marie lived there, with us, and she never left. (Which is probably why some of my white readers--if I have any--may have had to employ Google by the end of my first paragraph.  There are no hyperlinks to biographies in this entry, you either know or you don't.) Square biz.

I don't want to reduce Teena Marie to the seeming disparity between how she looked and how she sounded or her cultural tastes.  This morning I celebrate the life of an incredible singer and musician whose work provided the background music for my childhood.  In my mind, there are few more vivid images than me rolling through Fort Weezy in the passenger's seat of Daddy's Seville with Rick and Teena in the tapedeck.  I don't pour out a lil liquor for anybody, but you best believe some libations will be spilled in honor of one Miss Lady T.  I will find a party somewhere in this great city where the DJ will play a Teena Marie set as I two-step my ass off.

I look forward to seeing how the BET Awards will honor her.  Those jokers have a six-month head start.  They better get it right.  We will miss her terribly.

20 December 2010

Ask, Tell

I opened my eyes and abandoned my nihilist reveries to learn that Christmas came early for many members of the LGBT community.  Last weekend, the Senate repealed "Don't Ask Don't Tell," a policy that banned gay and lesbian from openly  serving in the Armed Forces.  Established in 1993, DADT was a compromise by President Clinton, who had pledged to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military during his first presidential campaign.  By signing the bill, President Obama will make good on his own, similar promise.  In other words, he won't stop making war, but you best believe that gays and lesbians no longer have to be closeted while fighting it.

As a pacifist who is committed to equal rights for everyone, it is difficult for me to congratulate the folks who worked so hard for this repeal without a tone of equivocation in my words.  DADT, to put it mildly, was an incredibly flawed policy.  And at this momentous occasion, pats on the back are in order, I suppose.  Yet my inner cynic/hater/pacifist won't allow me to ingest this information without pause (no-nohomo).  The cynic/hater in me wonders about how the fact that over 13,000 troops had been dismissed from the military since 1993 and countless others who perhaps refused to join because of DADT affected the importance of repealing the policy at this juncture.  We are, after all, at war.  And there are American troops seemingly everywhere.  What Hurricane Katrina showed, among other things, was how thinly servicemen and -women had been spread; fighting two wars left an anemic number of troops to handle such domestic issues.  My question becomes, then, how does the repeal of DADT not only satiate certain segments of Obama's supporters, but also address the bodies needed to continue an American neoimperialist agenda?  How important is freedom--even the liberty to "defend" that freedom as an openly gay person--if it is contingent upon the marginalization of others?

Above all else, I think about how such victories reify structures of domination we should be working to disrupt.  I know, I know.  Never want to become a member of a club that would have people like you as a member.  Yet, we're celebrating a feat that will allow folks to serve openly in an inherently violent institution instead of attempting to explode it, if you will.  To be sure, I am an advocate of equality for everyone, and generally support positions that argue that everyone should have the same access to and be allowed to participate in every institution which constructs our society.  Yet I also support the effort of interrogating the structures of which we seemingly wish to become a part.  I fear that the desire to belong to cultural bastions that construct our society thwarts efforts that might otherwise amplify how fraught such institutions are.  Perhaps instead of fighting for the right to marry we should work to abolish it and/or seriously consider the logic of state sanctioned and recognized compulsory monogamy.  And maybe we should think similarly about what it means to serve in the military--openly or not.

So yes, one may now ask and indeed tell about one's sexual orientation without the risk of dismissal from the military.   In the end, though, the same bombs and the same wars are waged in the name of a corrupt freedom that bothers neither to ask nor tell its victims' names.

P.S.  On a much lighter note, I've decided to nickname Michael Vick, "Fantasy Jesus."

P.P.S. Happy Chrismuhanukwanzakah to you.

06 December 2010

All I Want for Christmas -- Celebrity Edition

Lately, I've been getting mail I'm pretty sure isn't mine.  Still, I thought I'd share it.  Tis the season.

Dearest Santa,

How are you?  Hopefully absolutely phabulous--just like me.  I hope you have had a wonderful and restful year.  I'm sure you are prepared for yet another phantastic holiday season.  I know I am.

I must confess.  Frankly, Santa, I have been naughty.  (Did I show up on your list?)  I'm not sure if you all have digital cable at the North Pole, but it was revealed during an episode of my show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, that Apollo and I had too much egg nog and got a little carried away under the mistletoe before we were married.  Although my uterus is, first and foremost, my business, my mother, the Minister Parks was none too pleased to learn that her daughter, heretofore the apotheosis of southern femininity, had conceived out of wedlock.

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