Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Buggin' off that Benjamin Button

Without a doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of the most creative, heart-wrenching, masterfully woven pieces of cinema I have ever come across. Brilliant from beginning to end, masterful acting from Brad Pitt, breathtaking cinematography and a screenplay that is in my top 5 of all time. The metaphors in this film were nuts! There was a lot going on with the intersection of race and disability, the temporary nature of humanity,indomitableness of love, a little bit of everything. Also got the chance to see it with my best friends from high school which made it an even more enjoyable experience. We all analyzed it after, reflecting upon its profound effect on how much we appreciate those around us and the time we have them. Even the ending, and its invocation of Hurricane Katrina as metaphor for how quickly one's world can change in the blink of an eye was an interesting directorial choice. The film was gutsy, and did a whole lot of critical legwork while somehow not coming across as at all didactic or overly weighty. Director David Fincher and co. definitely got it right on this one. The film gets a 9.5 out of 10 on the Protean movie scale. Job well done, Hollywood. We need more films like this.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sorry for the delay...

My sincerest apologies, ya'll. Internet is currently down in the crib and a brotha really had to search hard in order to obtain the laptop on which I'm currently writing this post. Anyway, past couple of days have been fly. Went to this ill open mic spot called The Urban Juke Joint. The energy was simply incredible. The event ended up going from 9 PM to 1 AM and everyone that touched the microphone really did their thing. We had a group discussion in the middle, there were donuts and fresh fruit for everyone, and my good friend that runs the spot ensured that the venue let in as many folks as it could possibly hold. One of the few truly democratized spoken word spaces I've been in, UJJ held it down from start to finish. After that, went and got it poppin with friends. Ill night! Since the internet is down at home, I'll be sure to follow up with several posts in one day next time I get to a computer with World Wide Web access.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Time with the fam

My family's Christmas parties are wild. I literally just spent about 5 hours eating, doing an impromptu set of poems (mostly new, though I got some requests for poems from my high school days lol), and watching two of my favorite NBA teams lose (darn you Tim Duncan, you no-style-having, unfresh-lineup-rocking, fundamentally sound superhuman athlete!). Before I even got to the Boogie Down for the party though, I had quite the illuminating Christmas morning. See, it was my first year of getting "grown-up" gifts. The presents ranged from a fleece to luggage a CD holder. Its crazy, you know? How you go from brand new PlayStations to unwrapped pajama pants in a couple of years. Don't get it twisted, I'm certainly grateful for the gifts my parents got me (as I was in dire need of both pajamas and suitcases without gaping holes in them) but nevertheless today served as a salient shifting point for me. My first Christmas as an oldhead. Today was the first December 25th where I was the one screaming at the TV with my twentysomething cousins as I thought back on Christmases past, remembering when we are all just kids and none of us had facial hair or girlfriends or any of that other crazy stuff that comes along with old age. There were also a lot of babies.

A whole lot of babies.

I counted at least six distinct sub-5 year old life forms, but there may have been more. Just all these little brown children that I'd never seen before, bursting at the seams to tell me their names, playing their little video game thingies, rocking in their baby seats and performing strange movements with their abnormally tiny feet. It was beautiful to see all of our generations connecting in that way, from my grandma (at the ripe, young age of 80) down to my nephew Miles (not even 4 months old yet). It was another reminder (like my out-loud, spontaneous moment of revelation when I told my uncle that I only have 3 remaining semesters of college left) that time is fleeing...fast. Too fast for any of us to catch. Even if we wanted to.

On a a lighter note, the food was amazing. Imagine about 5 or 6 of the illest chefs ever convening in a single spot and constructing a culinary collage of about twenty different dishes from across the soul food spectrum. That is what I experienced today, that shangri lai of yam souffle and collard greens, beef ribs and red beans and rice, macaroni and cheese and baked chicken all warmed to protection and laid out before me like a map of something to be conquered. Wild, I know. But there's something marvelous about it, seeing the hours that goes into these meals, into delicately crafting the aesthetic and visceral pleasure of both looking at and eventually consuming them, and then cleaning everything up when it's gone. A metaphor for temporariness. The beauty of that moment before that first bite may be the best you ever feel, so savor it. That's what the spatula wielding warriors of my clan taught me today. That its never just the food or company or fierce games of Taboo. Its all of it. At once. We are always remembering and forgetting; in a constant state of limbo between the past and present, bare-knuckle brawling with the hands of time as we strive to hold on to the things that matter most.

But you know what I believe? I believe that when repentant tastebuds die they go to my mother's kitchen. That's their Heaven, that spot right behind the oven that none of us ever take the time to look at to see if they're there. In the form of a grease spot on the wall or a lonely muffin crumb, i'm willing to wager that reincarnated tastebuds tell stories to each other about the Christmas parties the women of my family have strung together over the years through their magical manipulation of pan and pot.
I wonder what they will say about me when it's my turn.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Filling up on Sole Food

I planned for today to be pretty lackluster. Woke up at 1 PM, ate some waffles, watched Sportscenter, you know, the usual. About an hour or two into my humdrum Wednesday afternoon, I get a call from the young man, Devin. He requests my presence on Canal Street to hit some sneaker spot his brother told him about. Now, with my global reputation as one of the dopest, most ill-fresh, stupid fly sneakerheads out, I expected little from my best friend's downtown discovery. I thought I'd pretty much uncovered all of the city's truly revolutionary footwear shops and couldn't imagine seeing anything worthwhile in this particular store. Oh goodness, was I mistaken.

The store, Sole Food ( the name is clever, I know!), has to be one of the most amazing spots I've ever been to. One of the managers/co-founders/ i'm not really sure exactly what to call him, a brother named Mike, is extremely friendly, a true sneakerhead (dude knew about kicks from back in the day, we're talking before- the-air-bubble-in -the-Nike sole old school), and easily one of the most hilarious cats I've come across in a while. The store just had this raw feel to it, you know? A lot of the kicks are custom-made (top of the line customs, felt like they were straight out of the factory), and there were actually artists in the store working on product when me and my boys stopped by. The environment was incredibly relaxed, and we all got familiar real quick; hotly debating everything from what makes an ill MC (Mike and I had a huge disagreement about this one as he is a fan of neither Lil Wayne nor Charles Hamilton) to what kind of Snapples we should get for the group. We ended up agreeing to disagree about Weezy, getting a round of Lemon Iced Teas, and hanging out for about 2 hours. Best shopping experience ever.

Yet, as is usually the case with my rather abnormal brain, there were a plethora of things running through my mind as I sat in the store drinking my sugary beverage and nodding my head to the hum of Kanye's Auto-tune. I'll list them for you:

1. As (in my experience at least) Black and Brown folks love to rock/sell/talk about kicks, why arent there more people of color-owned spaces for such discourse and commercial exchange to take place? I mean, I know why (White supremacy, widespread lack of financial education, etc.) but still, it would be amazing to see more places like Sole Food be successful.

2. Is there any worse feeling than being on the 1 train with no music or reading material? I think not.

3. It is really difficult for Black men who really love their moms (i.e. Me, Dev, and my boy Ev) to shop for them come Christmas time. They gave us life, what can we possibly buy with our measly work-study earnings to match that?!

4. I wish i could keep high school summer love in a jar and open it at Christmas time. It would be the perfect cure-all for the tense New York shopping crowds and frigid weather. I need some of that right about now...

5. They need to start installing electric outlets on public transportation. Millions of cell phones in this city and nowhere to charge them? Foolishness!

But yeah, anyway, so after number 5 slowly wormed its way out of my consciousness I went to dinner with the boys. We ate cheeseburgers, reminisced about high school (shout out to Rye Country Day), and talked about our futures. We all silently hoped in our hearts that today wouldn't be an anomaly. That we could stay this close forever; be 40 years old with families and still find time to eat mediocre food together at the same diner. Today wasn't just about the sneakers, I guess. It was about brotherhood too; about two of my best friends and our wild trip to the city to get fresh and do some late shopping for the women that mean the world to us. Happy holidays, everyone. Spend it with those you love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My first post

I have no idea what to say. I've been picking my brain for at least the past hour thinking of a witty/crafty/funny/poignant way to craft what shall be remembered from the moment I press this "publish post" button below me as the first entry of my personal blog. As if picking the title weren't hard enough. I mean, names are everything, aren't they? To name something is to imbue it with meaning, to mark it infinitely with your hands. Bruce and Carrie's son just seemed...natural. Easy. Fitting. I mean, those are my parents' names and I am indeed their son. Simple enough. But, this business of writing a first entry is a whole different beast all together. I just finished a 30-page paper on Lil Wayne for my grad-level anthropology class, I'm broke on Christmas Eve, and I haven't written a poem in weeks (I'm a poet, by the way). Maybe that's where we should start. Identity.


Well, for starters I'm Black. A Black Male. A Black Male Ivy League College Student who writes spoken word poetry and blogs about nothing in particular. So, in that sense, I'm an avant-garde, contemporary embodiment of the Seinfeld show manifesto who speaks at length quite often in public spaces. I'm also a budding actor. A shapeshifter. I like to dance to everything from Soulja Boy to the Temptations to Nirvana and back. All the way back. Back to the beginning. To Genesis. To when I was merely a spark in my mother's womb. When I used to beatbox to the rhythm of her heartbeat and her laugh wrapped around my body like a hug made of wind.Yeah...those were the days. Way back when.

Nowadays, things are a bit different. I'm older. I got a bank account and a scraggly goatee that never quite looks right. People keep calling me a man, but i'm not quite sure I'm ready for whatever that entails. Time is too fragile for all this adulthood stuff, and so am I. I'm bad with goodbyes and really good with hellos. I love as hard as I can, and far too often for my own good. There's something strangely therapeutic about this. This sense of spilling one's soul out to no one in particular, knowing that some may read it but most won't, knowing that this is unintelligible to some and illuminating for others. Who knew this smile held so much angst, that this skinny body housed so much possibility. It's like there were gardens waiting to sprout from my fingertips this whole time; fields of tulips and jasmine that I never let carress the sunlight because I've been too busy writing, too busy trying to be memorable, to become legend. Maybe I should stop. Here. Stop trying to make it sound so pretty. I have a habit of doing that too. divulging too much. Masquerading the horrible as elegant. That's a large part of my identity, too. The performance. Maybe i should stop performing for you. Stop showing off.

What are most of these blogs out here but writers showing off their stuff, anyway? Right? Maybe I'm wrong. I'm probably wrong; there was no real research or critical thought behind that last statement. Still, i wonder if there's a line between the chaos in my brain and the imagery i put on the page, if there should be. What a chore it is, to police one's own identity. To decide what parts of you to let the world see and what to keep inside. I guess this blog is like a sieve for the soul. The hardest parts of me, the most complicated parts, are what you'll get here. Some funny stuff, too. Some political commentary, album reviews, book synopses, cultural criticism, all that good stuff. This first one is about me, though. About how I've been feeling lately, about how I feel tonight.

Tonight, I feel like a child trying to catch the moon through the backseat window of his mom's Volvo. I used to be that kid. I remember him vividly tonight. I yearn to be like him again most of the time. Like a 7-year old boy with the Milky Way in his eyes and a pocket full of hard-earned quarters, ignorantly blissful living in a world he doesnt know isnt quite ready for him yet; inhabiting a planet that wasn't made for people with dreams like his.

I'll catch that moon sooner or later. It's just a matter of time.

This is only the start, sports fans. There is much more to come. Stay tuned.