October 18, 2009 § Leave a comment
As a young girl, I was the ultimate bookworm. Only something spectacular could tear me away from a good story. But after four years as an english literature major in college, I found myself exhausted by fiction and gravitating towards more non-fiction, specifically memoirs. Even my interest in memoirs was sporadic at best because with all the “required” reading from the “literary canon” one is expected to endure as an english major, I hardly ever had the time or desire to dive into a book for purely leisure purposes. Now out of school, the days of writing 20+ page papers on books that I couldn’t really enjoy because they seemed only a means to an end (I often found myself hurrying through novels to make the grade), are over. My freedom to indulge in leisure reading on my own terms has been renewed and I feel like a kid again!
With that said, last week I strolled into Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of the 2002 New York Times best-selling novel,The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.
When it comes to the latest books, my reactions are super-delayed. Rave about a book you’re feeling and several years later, you’ll finally have someone to rave about it with. I’m always late, not because I don’t value others’ literary tastes, but only because, well…I forget and each day the world is on to the next bestseller. Back in high school, I remember a classmate of mine raving about how wonderful The Lovely Bones was.
But, it wasn’t until last weekend when I was sitting through a preview at the movie theater that I remembered The Lovely Bones–a book I was supposed to have read 7 years earlier. This December the book will become a feature film, directed by one of my favorite directors, Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, District 9). And it actually looks like it’ll be a worthwhile adaptation, considering how Hollywood at times tends to miss the mark with beloved novels.
Only a week later, and I’ve read it from cover to cover. The Lovely Bones, tells the story of 14-year old Susie Salmon, who after being brutally raped and murdered watches from “her heaven” as her family, friends, and murderer move on with their lives. And that quick synopsis doesn’t even give justice to the depht of this debut novel from Sebold, which could have easily turned into a simplistic, sentimental, and melodramatic tearjerker. Instead, what you get is a deeply compelling story that examines how pain and loss can be liberated through love and accepting both the past and the present. There is so much raw emotion and truth unraveling within each of the characters in this novel, that as a reader you feel obligated to turn the page to see what unfolds next–even if it hurts. The novel is powerful and in some ways unconventional. Definitely worth a read, and come December hopefully worth a watch.
October 8, 2009 § Leave a comment
I’m not above promoting old friends trying to do big things…peep my interview with aspiring rap artist Kishan Patel aka “K-19 The Prince” as he attempts to dive into the hip hop game.
Don’t ask rapper on the rise Kishan Patel aka “K-19 The Prince” to define his swagger because it’s indescribable. He’d rather let his talent speak for itself. The 23-year-old South Asian MC is ready to make history with his first LP, Outta The Ashes. Released in September 2009, the album takes listeners on a journey through the eyes of the young artist as he chronicles the past few years of his life, which haven’t all been pretty, but have given him the fuel necessary to turn his life experiences into something people can relate to. “I’ve been doing it for about four years now,” Patel says. “It started back in 05, when I was going through some trials and tribulations…family issues, social issues, trouble with the law. I basically got into some stupid shit that I didn’t need to be involved in and my uncle who I was really close to had just passed away. He was like a mentor to me, so I began writing all my frustrations and anger down. It began as poetry and gradually became music.”
Born on April 18, 1986 in Jersey City, NJ and raised in the suburbs of Edison, NJ, Patel had a traditional Indian upbringing. His parents wanted him to become a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer, but he had other plans. He rebelled as a teen, selling drugs and falling into trouble with the police often. After graduating from high school, he went to Penn State University, but eventually dropped out. “I ended up hustling, getting into trouble, and wilin’ out…which is why I moved to Georgia to go to school out there and help run my parents’ business alongside my sister, while they stayed up in Jersey,” he says.
Trouble still seemed to follow him in Georgia as he made a name for himself by hustling out of his parents’ store. But after awhile, Patel began to see that he wanted more out of his life and saw first-hand the toll poverty, violence, and drugs took on people. So he decided to take all the negativity around him and turn it into something positive. He always had an affinity for rap music, citing Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Jay-Z, and Biggie as some of his influences, so he started spitting for his friends. Before he knew it he became a “neighborhood superstar,” freestyling and battling other rappers in the area. “People weren’t used to seeing an Indian rapping around there, so it was like, oh, shit! Look at this dude!” he explains.
The rest is only history in the making, he hopes. Now back in New Jersey, Patel has already performed at five live shows in New York City, spreading his fan base. Despite these accomplishments, he takes it all in stride because he knows that there is a lot of competition out there. Sure, he’s a realist, but he’s also hungry and patiently waiting for his chance to shine. Making music is what he was born to do, he says.
Currently, on the independent label Royalty Family in conjunction with Hiz and Herz Entertainment, Patel continues to promote his new album and perform. His manager and friend, Sagoon Gulati has been influential in helping him establish himself as an artist with the hopes of helping him lock down a major record deal. His album, which he wrote and made in just over a month, is blazing in terms of its production quality, compliments of several producers including up-and-coming producer Sean Divine.
For his next album, the young rapper looks forward to getting in the production chair and dropping some of his own unique tracks which he says are Indian-oriented in that they use tablas (Indian drums), sitars, flutes and other instruments. That is one thing that Patel doesn’t shy away from—his heritage. He even sees it as an advantage in the hip hop industry because people aren’t used to seeing someone of his ethnicity rap about the things he raps about. “I’m so motivated and determined, and I’m sure all aspiring rappers are, but I feel that ain’t nobody messing with me,” he says. “I am a beast! And my lyrics are just another way of getting a message to others like myself who want to get into the game because there aren’t many Indian-American hip hop artists out there. You wanna be able to be successful so that others who are trying to aspire to this know that the possibility is out there. I want to set the standard.”
For more information on K-19 The Prince, visit www.k19theprince.com
September 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
International reggae star Sean Paul brought reggae music back into the mainstream when he dropped his Grammy award-winning album Dutty Rock (his second album) in 2002. The album sold over 6 million copies worldwide and boasted dancehall bangers like, “Gimme the Light” and “Get Busy.” Not since Bob Marley has a Jamaican artist been able to establish himself as an international star. His follow-up album, Trinity, also quickly climbed the charts with hits like “Temperature” and “We Be Burnin.’’ Now after a nearly four-year hiatus, Paul is back with his highly-anticipated fourth album, Imperial Blaze.
The album features 20 tracks, laced with what we’ve come to expect from Paul—hard-hitting club bangers that get the party jumping. His first single, “So Fine,” is produced by Stephen McGregor aka Di Genius, who produces the majority of the album. The beat is sick, yet lyrically the song leaves much to be desired, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing for Paul as he’s known more for making ladies’ hips gyrate under his hypnotizing rhythms, than inspiring water cooler conversation. Like his previous albums, Imperial Blaze sticks to what Paul is most comfortable expressing—love, partying, and handling his business in the bedroom.
Paul does try to deviate from his signature dancehall style on some tracks, like “Hold My Hand,” feat. R&B songstress, Keri Hilson. The smooth, guitar-laden track hints at classic reggae fused with a slight acoustic sound. The outcome is a nice departure, but is certainly not Paul at his best. Overall, what makes this album easy on the ears is the production. The throbbing, infectious beats scream energy and create a fun atmosphere, fit for a dancehall queen.
One of the things that struck me about this album was the talk leading up to the release. The album was originally slated for a summer 2007 release, but was delayed partially because of Paul’s desire to make more socially-conscious music. Nothing on this album even remotely suggests revolution or social change. If I were to play detective, I’d guess that while working on the album Paul had an epiphany. He realized that it’s okay to stick to what he’s good at—making us move. And ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Top Tracks: “So Fine,” “Birthday Suit,” “Wine Baby Wine,” “Press It Up,” She Wanna Be Down” “Running Out of Time”
August 1, 2009 § Leave a comment
Real hip hop, where art thou? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself lately and sometimes you just need a reminder that it’s still alive and well. I had the pleasure of seeing one of the LIVEST shows I’ve seen in quite sometime last Saturday. Method Man, Redman and Ghostface Killah continued their “Footprint In Hip Hop” tour at the Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, NJ. What I loved most about the show was the energy of the artists, especially Meth and Red. I had almost forgotten how much I love those guys. They dropped their latest album, Blackout!2 in May and I’ve definitely been rocking out to it. The duo performed a few songs off the new album, like “Ayo.” But the livest part of the show was when Meth and Red took us back with their classics! “Y.O.U.,” “Da Rockweiller” and “How High” were just a few joints they killed. The pair also did a few songs off each of their respective solo albums. One of my favorite highlights was when Meth went hard on “Fall Out.” Gotta love that joint! Ghostface did his thing too on the mic and later went on a very much welcomed diatribe about the state of rap. Meth and Red also took shots at the ridiculousness of most rap concerts, making light of rappers worrying more about profiling in big ass chains than giving their fans what they paid money for–a dope show. “Ya’ll getting cheated,” Meth yelled. What I’ve always appreciated about Meth and Red is their frankness and of course their ability to throw a hot party. It may have just been a concert, but it felt more like one hell of party.
May 27, 2009 § Leave a comment
Onstage Drake showed loads of energy and bravado, finding time to throw in quick-witted, cocky banter here and there that made me chuckle light-heartedly instead of roll my eyes (which often happens when the talented Mr. West opens his mouth). “Don’t say you will, unless you will,” he sings to a crowd of screaming girls in the front of the stage, looking down at his “you know what,” as he samples West’s “Say You Will.” Or an even better example is when he says to the massive crowd, “I’m a new artist, by the way. I don’t know if you can tell by this show.”
The cuts he performed included, his smash radio-hit, “Best I Ever Had,” “Unstoppable,” “November 18th,” “Successful,” “Uptown,” and every bachelor’s favorite track, “Every Girl,” among others. All in all, Drake’s 30-minute set was pretty freaking entertaining and all the buzz surrounding it was warranted. Afterall, dude headlined a sold-out show at S.O.B.’s without even dropping an album first.
*Before the show begins MC Lyte hits the stage…not really sure why…who knows maybe she’ll make a comeback?
*“DJ Class in this b**ch…” You know the hot club track, “I’m The Shit” from DJ Class feat. Ye. Love that joint! DJ Class popped up onstage to perform it before Drake hit the stage.
*Bun B joins Drake onstage for “Uptown.” He pretty much kills it.
*Drake jokes about his seduction skills as he croons along to R-Kelly’s “Feeling On Your Booty,” “Birthday Sex,” and Usher’s “Can You Handle It.” According to this ladies’ man, New York women are the perfect women who could give him the perfect night.
I’ll be uploading some more amateur video footage compliments of me shortly! Until then, I’m sure you can find a slew of footage on the internets.
March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment
Hollywood continues to recycle horror classics
Remaking horror classics is nothing new in Hollywood. Each year you can expect to see a slew of them. The rationale is pretty simple. First, a formula already exists, which in the 21st century means that if re-imagined correctly, it will inevitably draw a new, younger audience–resulting in a guaranteed (but not always) payoff for studios. Second, die-hard fans of these horror staples may flock to the theaters just to see if the re-tooled versions of their beloved flicks pay homage to the original while simultaneously adding a bit of innovation. Personally, I think the trend has more to do with studios running out of original ideas.
Nevertheless, with the new version of Friday the 13th grossing $43 million (pretty impressive when you consider the $19 million budget!) last month in its opening weekend and igniting talks of renewing the Friday the 13th franchise, there are several more remakes of horror cult classics on the horizon. Here, a few remakes in the coming years that you may have already seen coming and some that may surprise you!
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Release Date: March 13, 2009
If the 70s were before your time or you aren’t a horror junkie with a fixation on the cinema of the 70s, you may not be familiar with The Last House on the Left, Wes Craven’s 1972 directorial debut. The original film centers around two teenage girls who travel to the big city to score some pot before going to a concert and find themselves kidnapped and brutally murdered by a trio of escaped convicts. The irony comes later when the murderers stumble across “the last house on the left,” which is the home of one of their victims. It is then that a revenge tale is born, as the parents’ of the slain girl seek retribution in a grisly fashion. The film, inspired by the Academy Award-winning (relax…it was for Best Foreign Language Film) 1960 Swedish film, The Virgin Spring was criticized and even banned in some places for its shocking and gratuitous violence. I saw the original film awhile back and never dared to revisit it. The uneasiness of it all was too much, as if I myself were being violated. Although the remake is being produced by Craven, which will definitely give it its authenticity, I’m sure it will be have to be watered down a little to stay within the MPAA rating guidelines.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Release Date: 2010
One…two….Freddy’s….I think we all know the rest. Another Wes Craven horror classic is set for a revival. The premise is the same: child murderer Freddy Krueger invades teens’ dreams blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Death tolls will climb as Freddy finds novel ways to slay his victims. Unfortunately, Robert Englund, who starred as Freddy in the original and sequels is rumored not to be surprising his role. Let’s hope whoever fills Freddy’s shoes (I’m hoping for Jackie Earle Haley) for this update will do the film justice. Nevertheless, one of the most celebrated horror franchises created, A Nightmare on Elm Street will be sure to frighten a new generation of moviegoers almost two decades later.
Child’s Play (1988)
Release Date: 2010
Along with the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, there was another horror cult classic that was born in the 80s and continued well into the millennium, spawning four sequels, (Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3, The Bride of Chucky, and The Seed of Chucky) with the last three being questionable. Despite the missteps of the sequels, fans of the horror franchise have never stopped wanting to be afraid of Chucky, the red-haired Good Guy doll with a foul mouth and the soul of a crazed killer.
Release Date: 2009
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, based on his novella, “The Hellbound Heart,” had a huge following, producing seven subsequent sequels. The British horror film tells the story of an unfaithful wife who tries to help her dead lover escape from Hell. Like Wes Craven, who has played a major role in the remakes of his horror films, Barker will also be influential in the remake of his own film. He is expected to produce and write the screenplay for the remake.
The Stepfather (1987)
Release Date: October 16, 2009
While this suspense thriller wasn’t as popular as some of the other films coming out of the 80s, it definitely had enough of a following to birth two sequels. In the film, a troubled teenage girl butts heads with her mother’s new husband (played by Terry O’Quinn, who brings sociopath to a whole new level–effortlessly), who she suspects is hiding something. Her suspicions are apparently accurate, as her stepfather is a lunatic who murdered his previous family and is now operating under a new identity to conceal his past. As she tries to convince her mother and anyone else who will listen (her psychiatrist included) that something is terribly wrong with her stepfather, the young teen does some sleuthing of her own to uncover the truth. I feel like there’s really no point in remaking this one because I feel like O’Quinn’s performance was the only thing that made the original watchable. And it’s not like he’s reprising his role–he’s too busy being John Locke on LOST. I wish this remake all the best sans O’Quinn (really, I do).
The Wolf Man (1941)
Release Date: November 6, 2009
One of the older horror classics getting a reboot is The Wolf Man, which will feature Benicio Del Toro in the title role and Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt in supporting roles. While Universal Studios, which is distributing the film, is sticking to the film’s original story, the film will include additional characters and new plot points that will employ modern visual effects. Afterall, visual effects like CGI were unheard of in the 40s. The best part about this film will probably be how it is conveyed visually (especially the Wolf Man himself), which will make for one entertaining frightfest.
The Birds (1963)
Release Date: 2010 or 2011
NOTE: Proceed with caution and absolutely NO expectations…you may be disappointed in the end.
Some classic suspense thrillers shouldn’t be touched. But that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from remaking the Hitchcock masterpiece, The Birds. Let’s hope that this remake, currently in production, will not make Hitchcock turn over in his grave. Moreover, let’s hope it pays homage to the original short story by Daphne du Maurier, of which the original film was based. It looks like the film is off to an “okay” start, including Naomi Watts in the lead role of Melanie Daniels and Michael Bay as a producer. The film is also rumored to star George Clooney as Mitch Brenner and could be in 3-D! As promising as this may all seem, I’m still convinced that Hitchcock classics should be left alone. They’re classics for a reason!
February 23, 2009 § 1 Comment
As New York Fashion Week came to an end last Friday night, Project Runway finalist Korto Momolu debuted her Fall 2009 Collection at The Macdella Cooper Foundation (MCF) Fashion Week After Party Benefit Auction at Nikki Beach Midtown in New York City. The purpose of the event was to raise funds for the MCF Academy for Orphans and Abandoned Children, opening in Liberia in 2010. In the end, the foundation raised almost $50,000, all of which will go towards the construction of the academy, which will be built by acclaimed architect, Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics. Korto, who is from Liberia, said she was honored to unveil her collection at an event that supports a cause that is so dear to her heart. Here, a few of my favorite pieces from her collection!
p.s. I’m more of a writer as opposed to a photographer, so please bear with my amateur photos!
February 20, 2009 § 1 Comment
For the past week, I’ve been preoccupied with a certain up-in-coming rapper, by the name of Drake. The Canadian-bred artist (and actor) dropped his third mixtape, So Far Gone February 13. The mixtape has already been getting rave reviews on the blogosphere and for good reason. With 18 tracks, featuring artists such as Trey Songz, Lil Wayne, Peter Bjorn & John, Lykke Li, Santogold and Bun B, among others, Drake might be the next big thing. Recently signed to Interscope Records, Drake is set to release his major label debut, tentatively titled Thank Me Later this year.
I was going to post a review on So Far Gone, but it looks like a friend has already beat me to it! Check out her take on the mixtape at http://rhythm-and-bliss.blogspot.com/2009/02/so-far-gone.html and download the album while you’re at it! Good stuff : )
February 17, 2009 § 2 Comments
“And my head keeps spinning. Can’t stop having these visions. I gotta get with it.”
Chaos and heartbreak has never looked this good! Peep Kanye’s new video, “Welcome to Heartbreak,” directed by Nabil. I have to be honest, I wasn’t wowed by 808’s and Heartbreak. For one thing, too much auto-tuning from someone whose signature isn’t auto-tuning. I think we can all agree that his previous efforts were definitely a cut above this album. However, his album’s lyrical concept (pretty much a diary of love gone awry) was deafening in terms of creativity and I understand that sometimes when people go through things, they just have to put their heart out on the line and let it all hang out. Kudos to West for that. I respect and commend the realness of 808’s and Heartbreak as a “concept” album. “Welcome to Heartbreak,” was one of the few tracks on 808’s and Heartbreak that really stood out to me in terms of subject matter (sure it’s depressing, but so are some of the greatest hits of all time!) and the beats are blazing, of course. This video, which West says took a month to create, is INCREDIBLE! Technology has clearly come a long way. The imagery and juxtapositions are stunning and the artistic concept of the video as a whole works to convey the message of a chaotic soul that is maddened, saddened and ultimately defeated by heartbreak.
February 13, 2009 § Leave a comment
Check out Jazmine Sullivan’s new video, “Lions, Tigers, and Bears,” the third single off the five-time Grammy nominated singer’s debut album, Fearless. The colorful visuals and graphics in this video are amazing and ring true to the lyrics and melody of this beautiful song. Unfortunately, Sullivan came out empty handed at The Grammys last week, but she’s still a talented artist on the rise who’ll be sure to pick up a Grammy or two in the near future, I’m sure. Enjoy!
January 20, 2009 § Leave a comment
As almost 2 million people (a record high for an inauguration ceremony) watched from The National Mall in Washington, D.C., and millions more watched on television, Barack Obama was sworn-in today–becoming the 44th President of The United States.
While I was not there to witness this historical moment up close and personal (I thought about it, but opted to stay put. Frigid temperatures and large crowds aren’t my thing), I was delighted to watch history unfold from the comfort of my home. So I managed to watch the Inauguration coverage and simultaneously get some work done (working from home is great!)
In President Obama’s speech, he asked Americans to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” stressing collective action and self-responsibility. At times there was a sense in his demeanor and prose that he understood that the task he has signed on for will not be a quick or easy one to accomplish. But, there was also a confident and hopeful sensibility that he exuded.
At any rate, I’m not going to go into the significance of what this moment in time means. I already gave my two cents in November on victory day and I’m sure the internet is full of assorted sentiments and commentary. So, I’ll refrain from overdoing it and just leave you with a full clip of his inauguration speech for those of you who may not have been able to catch it!
January 18, 2009 § Leave a comment
How to find Mr. Right online
If looking for love has left you jaded, don’t fret just yet. The power to find your soul mate (or at least a good date) could be at your fingertips–just a click away. With a stigma no longer attached at the hip, online dating is now a growing trend. Nowadays, its popularity is quite simple: You can find practically anything online, so why should finding a date be any different? Women, especially those who lead busy lives and find it difficult to connect with potential mates in more traditional ways, see online dating as convenient because they can weed out unsuitable mates faster by simply viewing profiles. Also, there’s anonymity to online dating because you only disclose as much information as your comfort level allows. Plus, rejection–which both women and men face in the dating game, is less harsh in online dating because somehow revealing, “I’m just not that into you,” over a computer screen doesn’t burn as bad.
Every woman has her reasons for pursuing online dating, but underneath it all is a hope that she can find compatibility. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to find love out there—especially for women of color. According to the most recent Census Bureau data, 54 percent of women over the age of 18 are unmarried. And only 30 percent of black women and 49 percent of Hispanic women are living with a spouse compared with 55 percent of white women. With daunting figures like these, it’s reasonable to keep an open mind when approaching dating, which is probably why so many women are at least trying online dating.
Online dating can seem effortless. Post your profile and bingo—you’ve hit the jackpot! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But, it also doesn’t have to leave you frustrated to the point of no return. Here, tips on how to play the online dating game and win big!
Find Your Flavor
In the past, online dating consisted of only a few general websites, making it overwhelming to find the perfect match in a cyberspace of thousands of men whose only discernible attributes are “single” tags. Now, there are thousands of websites that target specific demographics as well as niches—making it easier for you to search only for mates that suit your taste level. These specialized sites aren’t just the typical ones based on race, political and religious affiliations or even dress size. Ever wondered if there’s a guy out there who loves pets as much as you? Yes, there are even sites out there that cater to preferences as specific as that.
Create a Winning Profile
This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many women don’t take their profiles serious. Put as much effort into crafting your profile as you would for your resume for your dream job. Let your personality shine through with your prose and pick a profile name that showcases your individuality. When posting your picture, choose a main profile picture that is clear, up-to-date and showcases your greatest physical assets, without revealing too much skin. Also make sure your photograph portrays you in a relaxed state—no pictures of yourself in business mode. You wouldn’t wear a suit on your first date, so don’t convey that to potential matches. Perception is everything.
Make the First Move
If you spot a guy online that seems like a good fit, don’t be afraid to catch his attention online by sending him a message. Many guys are attracted to confident women and aren’t taken aback by one who is willing to approach them first. He probably thinks you’re quite the catch as well. And, if he doesn’t, there’s plenty more fish in cyberspace.
Don’t go into this with expectations so high that any disappointments will be a devastating blow your heart or ego. Like traditional dating, in online dating you probably won’t find Mr. Right right away. It takes time. You will find guys online that give you butterflies on the first date. And you will find guys online who may have you running for the door. You might even find a guy who isn’t Mr. Wrong nor Mr. Right, but will turn out to be a good friend. Dating is a learning experience, despite the method you use. Be realistic.
Despite what you read on his profile, a potential Mr. Right is still a stranger to you before you meet him in person. Use caution. Before you agree to meet a potential match, exchange phone numbers first. Once you feel comfortable, agree to meet him in a public place for your first date. A bookstore or a coffeehouse are great options.
January 12, 2009 § 2 Comments
Customizing your style is at your fingertips with the latest fashion in nails–Minx!
A-list celebs like Beyonce have already donned them on the Red Carpet, and now you can get in on the next biggest trend—Minx nails! The Minx manicure and pedicure line is a new innovation in nail fashion that features foil and glittery metallics, personalized graphic designs and even photo-quality designs. If you’ve always wanted to match your nails with that funky pattern on your dress hidden in the back of your closet, this nail line has got you covered. Not only is Minx stylish, but it may also be eco-conscious. Minx is a solid nail coating that is made of flexible film and requires no chemicals for its application or removal—making it a greener alternative to nail polish. Because it is a non-liquid, you won’t have to wait for your nails to dry or worry about chipped or smudged nails. You’ll be out of the nail salon in record time, ready to show off your fashionable finger assets this year.
Minx comes in four different product lines: Metallic, Standard Designs, Customs and Armour & Color. For more information and a list of nail salons and spas offering Minx nail fashion visit www.MinxNails.com.
January 4, 2009 § 5 Comments
As we slip into a new year, we flip out our journals or kindly note to ourselves and our friends what we will do better this year. A new five-year plan becomes a Constitution that cannot be amended. And if we don’t live up to our dreams in the year we’ve outlined for ourselves, we sulk and in worst case scenarios we give up on all of them. We live in a society that registers a successful life based upon instant gratification. What about throwing away the timelines and just living? Is it really such a terrible thing to be a “late bloomer?”
I was talking with a friend the other day and something she said hit me. “Am I pursuing a fool’s dream?” she asked. I wanted to tell her a fool is someone who doesn’t dare to dream for fear of failing. The only reason I didn’t was because I know when I’m feeling blue the last thing I want to hear is something scripted out of an after school special. The friend in question is a talented writer on the cusp of completing a novel. Her conundrum is that she recently hit a crossroads and fears she may be unable to finish her novel within the timeline she set for herself. When she realized she might not finish her book, she thought about the other things she hadn’t accomplished in her life. “I feel old. I’m almost 25 and still nothing. What have I accomplished?” she asked.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about the inner-workings of a self-declared quarter-life crisis. Self-doubt and fear has at times clouded my own judgment, leaving me to miss out on a lot of wonderful opportunities and people. In the past, fleshing out timelines for myself has left me feeling tinges of failure when I’ve noticed that certain things have yet to transpire. When will I ever [insert feeling here]? What if I never [insert action here]? Why do we allow age and timelines to dictate how we feel about ourselves, our capabilities, and what we can accomplish now and in the future?
Late bloomers, lend me your ears! Don’t let society and inner negativity stop you from making your dreams a reality. There are many people out there who have accomplished extraordinary things in what many would consider “late in life.” A few months ago, I read “Late Bloomers,” an interesting piece from The New Yorker that shed some light on the question of whether precocity in terms of creativity is the be all, end all for artists. Do late bloomers stand a chance in creative pursuits in a sea filled with prodigies? In the article, Malcolm Gladwell references several people who hit the mark in their careers late in the game. Two of my favorites he mentioned, Alfred Hitchcock, who made some of his masterpieces, including my personal favorites North by Northwest and Vertigo between his 44th and 61st birthdays and Daniel Defoe who wrote Robinson Crusoe at 58. There are probably many others who are unknown to us but have done amazing things when others thought their time was over. There’s something to be said about exploring and truly living life before we find what we’re truly looking for and create masterpieces in our own lives. Whether your dream is big or minuscule, writing a future classic, finding a job you love, meeting your soulmate or anything else under the sun, time is not your enemy.
December 7, 2008 § Leave a comment
The only network drama really worth watching these days returns January 21 on ABC for its 5th season. I’m anxiously awaiting the Lost premiere and can’t wait to see the twists and turns that are in store for this season. Season 4 ended with the Oceanic 6 getting rescued and returning to the lives they left behind only to learn that life away from the island isn’t so sweet. The remaining survivors were left on the island which ultimately vanished. Season 5 will revolve around the Oceanic 6 trying to find their way back to the island and (hopefully) viewers will find out where the island went. I’m sure many more secrets of the mysterious island will come to light as the series comes to an end in 2010 with its 6th season. : ( I guess every good story must come to an end. This month I’ll be revisiting seasons 1-4 on DVD and getting ready for the big premiere–a three hour event! The premiere will begin at 8pm with an hour-long recap followed by the first two episodes of the new season from 9pm-11pm. While the show aired on Thursdays last year, this season the series returns to its original time slot–Wednesdays at 9pm.
Watch the Season 5 Trailer
December 7, 2008 § Leave a comment
One of my favorite artists, John Legend performed Friday at Tower Theater in Philadelphia. This was the second time I was able to see him in action. As expected, he put on an excellent show, performing cuts off his new album, Evolver and his first two hit albums, Get Lifted and Once Again. While Evolver is a “decent” follow-up to his previous efforts, I feel as if John knew his hard-core fans wanted him to take us back to the “Ordinary People” days, which is exactly what he did with the majority of the songs he performed coming from his previous albums–certified classics in my book.
Here’s a very brief clip of John performing “It’s Over” sans Mr. West from Evolver.
November 5, 2008 § 1 Comment
Once upon a time, the idea of an African-American even visiting The White House was unheard of. Last night history was made. Barack Obama became the first African-American President-elect of the United States in a landslide victory. Come January 20, he will enter the gates of The White House on Pennyslvania Ave, not as a guest, but as America’s new leader.
As I watched the news unfold on my television throughout the night, as so many others around the world did, I couldn’t help but feel anxious to see the final results. And at 11pm when the words flashed across the screen, revealing who our new president would be, I rejoiced! In no other election, had I felt so inspired by a candidate.
His inspiring nature is what ultimately sailed him to victory in a sea full of doubters.
Yes, there were always doubters. And not just the ones that you’d expect offhand, such as those plagued by an unyielding fear of embracing the Other and a reluctance to acknowledge the ever-changing world.
I myself, an African-American female was a doubter–at first. Not because I didn’t believe that Obama had the intelligence, tenacity, resourcefulness and passion to lead a successful campaign. He did exactly that by leading a grassroots campaign that started from nothing and emerged into one of history’s most strategic, organized, far-reaching, fruitful and passionate campaigns.
Spreading his “change message” throughout the country, state-by-state, he inspired millions to see that each one of their votes could make a difference.
But, would this be enough?
I asked myself this question several times. History had shown me that the cynicism I held when it came to the politics of my country was warranted. So, it wasn’t my lack of faith in Obama that kept me a doubter for a while. Unfortunately, it was my lack of faith in Americans and the political system as a whole.
Flash backward to the election of 2000 where our political system failed us miserably.
Voting fraud. The Florida recount. Even now, no one knows for sure exactly what happened and how it happened. We just know that the results of that election were questionable. The idea that we couldn’t trust our political system was forever etched into the back of our minds, so much that many of us began to question if there was even a reason to go to the polls again. That apathy is what got us another Bush term in 2004. That was the first election I was eligible to vote in and I was passionate about the issues. Hence, I voted. Unfortunately, that year the voter turn out wasn’t good and despite what seemed to be an overwhelming disdain for our current President, his reelection was a breeze.
While I knew that I would continue to exercise my right to vote in this 2008 election no matter what, would others?
I feared that some of the people in support of Obama, especially African-Americans still might not bother to vote because they felt like their voices weren’t large enough to carry him to victory. I feared that racial bigotry would win and sadly there would be many people in our country that wouldn’t vote him into office at all because of his skin color. My biggest fear was that the political system would fail us again like in 2000.
It was during the Democratic National Convention that I shed all doubt and started to become a believer.
Obama delivered his 44-minute acceptance speech with confidence and passion in front of an audience unmatched in size, filled with hope.
“But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you,” he said.
In that moment, it all clicked.
This was about us. The power was in our hands, and ours alone. I, like so many, had forgotten that power. But, racial bigotry from a few could not startle the collective power of many this time. Bigotry could no longer win when I saw the magnitude of the crowd–consisting of all colors and ethnicities cheering with fervor.
This rainbow coalition was proof that there were millions of Americans out there that were no longer fazed by race. Finally, the majority was ready and willing to support a man because he was a formidable candidate for our country, despite his skin color. The majority was ready to put the welfare of the country before racial politics.
Hence, electing Obama was essentially for “the greater good,” during a time in our country where the economy is falling apart and our leaders are constantly failing the people.
It was in that defining moment that I realized this man would win this race.
My eyes filled with an overwhelming amount of tears as I watched him finish his convention speech and saw the soon-to-be First Lady approach the podium beaming with joy to embrace her husband. The tears were in hopes that the struggles of our ancestors were not in vain.
From then on I was confident that change would come. I was a believer.
Today I let the events of last night soak in completely. And as I did, another believer of change came to mind. One of my favorite historians and civil rights activists, W.E.B. Dubois, spoke of “the Veil” and the feeling of double-consciousness that exists within all blacks in America in his book, The Souls of Black Folk.
“One ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
I have felt the presence of double consciousness in my life, yet I, like so many others, have found the strength to lift “the Veil” and strive for success despite inevitable adversity. Actually, I guess I’d have to say I have a feeling of triple consciousness, for I am a woman, yet I am also black and an American.
Where and to whom does my duty lie? Can all three spirits dwell in truth?
That’s when I realized that despite this historical victory, America will never be truly colorblind. One would think that racism can be eliminated as as we become a more progressive nation. However, the idea of race is a socially-constructed faucet of our society that has been instilled in us for hundreds of years, from the time our ancestors from The Motherland were sold into American slavery up until today.
We will always see race. Yet, with Obama’s presidential win we have proof that “the greater good” can at least trumph race, which means a change has come. The best part about this change is that it has inspired and brought together millions of people with a common goal to move this country forward.
“Not in my lifetime will we ever have a black president,” has been a recurring thought in the minds of people like my parents and grandparents who endured more racial struggles than I will ever truly know. Now, a new mindset has emerged. It is one of confidence and hope that says, “Yes, we can!”
Indeed, we can and have.
November 2, 2008 § Leave a comment
Toni Morrison is my all-time favorite novelist, so when I heard she was finally penning a new book, “A Mercy,” I was ecstatic that I’d be able to add her ninth effort to my book collection. Like her Pulitzer prize-winning novel, “Beloved,” “A Mercy,” centers around the separation of a black mother and daughter during the 17th century slavery period, where a grave sacrifice is ultimately made. The mother sells her young daughter to a stranger in exchange for payment of her master’s debt, all the while with the hopes her daughter will have a better life. Consequently, the novel explores the young daughter’s life in the home of her new master, where she is searching for the love and acceptance she never had from her mother. What’s different about this novel is that Morrison also explores the plight of non-black characters who are indentured servants. And unlike many of her other novels, many of the central white characters are sympathetic. In a recent NPR interview, Morrison explains that she wrote the book to remove race from slavery by pointing out that white slaves had just as many hardships as black slaves and were often unable to buy themselves out of slavery. However, she does acknowledge that their experience was different in a way. “The only difference between African slaves and European or British slaves was that the latter could run away and melt into the population. But if you were black, you were noticeable,” she says. In the end, Morrison hits us with a narrative that is lyrical and moving without being overly-sentimental. Her characters are rich and layered and while she revisits some of the same themes from some of her earlier works, such as sacrifice, femininity, identity, forgiveness and love, the novel doesn’t seem like a mere repackaged formula. Her novel will be available for purchase November 11.
Toni’s Best Novels
If you haven’t read all of Morrison’s novels yet, I’m ranking them all!
1) Song of Solomon, the coming-of-age tale of Milkman, the novel’s young black male protaganist who embarks on a quest to discover his family’s ancestry and in turn find himself. With memorable characters and an ambigious ending, Morrison’s penned a well-plotted masterpiece.
2) Beloved, a mother’s ultimate sacrifice: kill her baby rather then see her enslaved gives rise to a haunting tale of redemption, sacrifice, and love. Exploring the brutal realities of slavery by focusing on a mother and daughter who struggle to lead a life of normalcy after escaping from slavery, while being haunted by the incarnation of the mother’s dead daughter, is one of Morrison’s most beloved novels.
3) The Bluest Eye, her debut novel is a tear-jerker, but its examination of racial identity in the eyes of an abused black teen who yearns for blue eyes is powerful.
4) Paradise, although not praised for being one of her most accessible, this female-centered novel is well constructed from start to finish and takes a literary risk in that the entire book is written in flashbacks and has interlocking characters. The story revolves around the conflict between a group of women who live in a secluded convent and the sexist men of Ruby, a fictitious all-black town.
5) Sula, the story of two black female heroines who grow up together and later grow apart as they seek parallel paths in life. The novel answers the question: what is it like to be an black american female with authenticity.
6) Jazz, a historical novel set in 1920s Harlem pays homage to the Harlem Renaissance and the emergence of jazz music with its style of writing which uses the call and response technique, which gives the characters in the novel room to explore the same events from different viewpoints. Centered around an act of violence (a man’s young mistress is shot and killed at a party), the novel is the story of a love triangle filled with a myriad of themes, including jealousy, redemption, and spirituality.
7) Love, this non-linear story plots the lives of several women and their relationships to the late Bill Cosey, the beloved but also flawed central black male character, before and after his death.
8) Tar Baby, an exploration of the forbidden love between a privileged black woman and a poor black man reveals racial divides within the African American family as a result of American racism, and class issues.
October 15, 2008 § 1 Comment
For all you Jazmine Sullivan fans out there, check out her new video, “Bust Your Windows!” The concept is pretty much what I expected. Enjoy!
September 30, 2008 § 8 Comments
When I first heard Jazmine Sullivan, I was in the car unfazed by the latest in radio rotations. I can’t remember exactly what I was listening to, but it was lackluster and expected like much of what’s on radio today. Then Sullivan emerged with “Need You Bad.” In awe, I kept asking, “who is this woman with this voice?”
When I finally figured out who she was, I realized I had been sleeping (unintentionally) on Sullivan for a few years while others were already acquainted with the 21 year-old sensation who has been on her native Philly scene for quite sometime. And I know it’s cliche, but it’s also true: Sullivan is beyond her years, and it’s effortless. I haven’t been this excited about a female vocalist since Amy Winehouse.
As I listened to her debut album, Fearless, which dropped last week I found myself instantly immersed with not only her signature raspy alto (which has been likened to Lauryn Hill) but with her storytelling which is rich with imagery and frankness. Each track (she penned the entire album) is like a story or diary entry that allows the listener to not just hear the compositions, but feel the weight of the raw emotion that Sullivan breathes into each note. This is music that makes you feel–makes you think.
Another interesting facet of Sullivan’s album is how she is able to tackle different musical genres in terms of production, without falling flat. In her first single, “Need You Bad,” she sings over a reggae beat and gets a little help from Missy Elliot, whose production makes this sizzle even more. The result is a track that sounds perfectly authentic, despite the fact that Philly-bred Sullivan is not an Islander.
Her latest single, “Bust Your Windows” is beautifully arranged and produced by Salam Remi, known for his work on Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. The first thing that came to my mind upon hearing it was a flamingo-infused melody, which is an unexpected choice of sound considering the piece is a revengeful tirade about a woman who is so heartbroken by her man’s infidelity she transfers her anger over to a man’s most prized possession–his car. It’s her raw realness in this track that I admire the most, as she is unapologetic. “You see you can’t just play with peoples feelings/Tell them you love them and don’t mean it/You probably say that it was juvenile/But I think that I deserve to smile,” she cries.
She serves up the same honesty in “In Love With Another Man,” except this time the tables are turned and Sullivan plays the adulterer. The material in this song showcases her maturity as she vocalizes the illogical nuances of love and the emotional toll it takes. “You treat me so much better than him/And if I was sane there’d be no competition/But…I’m in love with someone else,” she admits, leaving her Aidan for her Mr. Big. Lyrically and vocally Sullivan distinguishes herself from the rest of the R&B female pack in this powerful ballad.
Sullivan’s album is full of other strong offerings like, “Switch,” a witty track that plays almost like a funny 60s musical in terms of its up-beat melody, where she is upfront and unyielding about her attraction to her date’s best friend. Another gem, the hip-hop infused “Call Me Guilty,” rings the alarm on domestic violence as the bruised woman takes the law into her own hands.
But my favorite track on the album (constantly on repeat) has to be “Lions, Tigers & Bears,” because it plays on a popular song of the same name from “The Wizard of Oz” while unveiling the artist’s vulnerability as she juxtaposes her confidence in all other areas of her life against her fear of falling in love. Again her honest lyrics hit home for some listeners and are paramount to this track. Her vocals are backed by fairytale-like string compositions. The result is a fluid piece that is dramatic and filled with heavy emotion from start to finish.
Sullivan’s Fearless at first sounds like a misnomer because it is filled with some tracks that hint at a fear of love and commitment. But that theory isn’t at all sound when we look at Sullivan’s musical risk taking. She borrows from several musical styles but still allows her distinct voice and personality to shine through. And in terms of lyrics, maybe it is her honesty in sharing her utmost fears and flaws that make her essentially fearless.
My Grade: A
Best Tracks: “Lions, Tigers & Bears,” “Need You Bad,” “Bust Your Windows,” “Fear,” “In Love With Another Man,” “After the Hurricane,” “Switch” and “My Foolish Heart.”
September 25, 2008 § 2 Comments
One look at contemporary artist Saya Woolfalk’s work, now showing at The Studio Museum of Harlem’s “New Intuitions” exhibit, and you’ll find yourself enchanted by beauty that at first glance seems lively, as her imagery is full of color with an almost child-like allure.
But this isn’t child’s play in the slightest. A closer look at Woolfalk’s art and you’ll discover that she has constructed an otherwordly universe paired with an imagined culture of her own in an arbitrary attempt to challenge the foundation of what we consider to be reality.
She calls her world, “No Place” and asks us to rethink our assumptions on race, sexuality, nationality, identity, and cultural specifity. How is this knowledge formed? How do our perceptions influence the way we understand ourselves and different cultures? How do our cultural norms subject a sense of “Otherness” to members of a society who aren’t us? How does one break free from the “culture industry,” as Woolfalk puts it?
Create your own world, your own culture.
The aesthetic of “No Place” lies in its ability to appear surreal and yet real at the same time. Faceless, mysterious figures traverse a multicolored verdant wonderland that stretches beyond our imagination through an array of portals, such as paintings, sculptures, installations and a video.
The brightly colored landscape that these figures inhabit is much like our world. There are flowers, rivers, trees, buildings, as well as natural fixtures that have yet to be discovered. Each figure is an individual at best. No two figures are alike in outward appearance although all are sculpted from the same recycled plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, and newspapers–materials the artist borrows from our world. Each character has something that distinguishes their personage.
Woolfalk’s lifeforms and the world she’s created for them convey more meaning in her video, “Ethnography of No Place,” which is shown on a loop at the exhibit among her myriad of paintings, installations, and sculptures that tell the same story. The video, which she created with cultural anthropologist Rachel Lears is the most interesting part of her whole exhibit because it is within this video representation of “No Place,” that we can see her subjects come to life as they are documented in daily routines. The feature is split into six segments: Diary of a Phantom Ride, Self and Landscape, Death and Kin, The Emptiness of Equivalence, Meeting, and Empathy.
The video plays like a documentary at some points as the female narrator’s voice is monotone. At other times it seems like a read along storybook offering little substance. The presentation is whimsically weird. But as you watch the participants outfitted in faceless bodysuits adorned with colorful foliage (identical to the figures in the paintings and sculptors at the exhibit) interact with each other, realism prevails as they dance, mate, engage in rituals, nurse their young, and lay the deceased to rest. The manner in which some of these acts are performed in the video are inspired by cultural forms from places as close as New York and as far away as Brazil, Japan, and Africa.
One of the main themes parlayed throughout the video is sexuality, which is another culturally constructed concept that Woolfalk attempts to expose. The figures in the video reproduce using sex organs that are implanted in their heads. In one scene, a female figure kneels on the ground with her legs partially open as she slowly removes a sex organ from inside her head and inserts it between her legs, simulating sex.
Woolfalk’s exhibit at best is an experiment that exposes how the ways in which we comprehend cultures that aren’t our own can lose their authenticity as a result of the assumptions of the outsider’s perspective. By creating a fantasy-like world she is able to use her creativity to promote awareness of this dialogue and, of course craft unique and visually stunning imagery in several formats.
Woolfalk’s work is just one of three other installations from “The New Intuitions” exhibit at The Studio Museum of Harlem now through October 26th.