May 30, 2010

Ride On, Easy Rider

"Like all artists I want to cheat death a little and contribute something to the next generation."
-D. Hopper

Talk show host and former radio personality Wendy Williams has a saying. "Friend in my head". This is how she refers to people she has never met in real life- but feels such a strong connection to them that she believes they would get along famously if ever their paths crossed. Thus making them a friend; at least in her head anyway. This is how I always felt about Dennis Hopper.

I already know there will be more than a few blogs examining the life and death of this maverick of Celluloid. Let's skip that. He was simply to me, one of the most awesome people to ever do what he has done. A natural. Out of his entire body of work it only took a few roles to forever endear me to him. How someone can be that intense while being ultra-cool is anybody's guess. But he did it with no effort at all. It's so strange but he shares that quality with my maternal grandfather who is also a 'friend in my head' of sorts. He died when I was very young, but from what I do remember of his personality- I know we would be very close in my adult life. The very part of me that would love to sit and have a drink with my grandfather is the same part of me that would love to roll a joint and kick it with Dennis. Aside from being an actor and director, he was an extremely talented photographer. That alone makes for good conversation with me. And no one can punctuate a sentence with the word "Man" in the manner that he could. Some people, you hear. But I felt Dennis Hopper. He was real.

An iconoclast and true talent. There are only a handful of actors whose movies I will watch simply on their merit alone. He was one of the few. And if I didn't feel this way, I would have missed his shining moments in flicks like River's Edge, Paris Trout and my all time personal favorite, True Romance. I have yet to see a finer piece of acting than the infamous Eggplant scene with Christopher Walken. From the time he asks for what he knows will be his last Chesterfield- I am riveted as though I've never seen it before. He illuminated simple things like videos and commercials. Check out his turn as a true fanatic the classic Nike ad with Sterling Sharpe or Gnarls Barkley's vid for Smiley Faces. Priceless.

Hopper wasn't loved by everyone in Hollywood. He had a reputation for sometimes being abrasive and hard to work with but who cares? When you're that good- you can afford to ruffle a feather or three and you're obviously doing something right. He also got some face time on the cover of High Times magazine some years back. So... This Bug is burning one to the grit and glory that is Dennis Hopper. You surely left something for the generations to come. Catch you on the flip, Cowboy.

May 29, 2010

So hard

con·fi·dence : belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

There's a scene in The Warriors where the characters pictured above are coming from a long, hellish night that seems far from over. They just want to get home. The train stops and two couples board amid laughter and revelry. All are dressed as though they are coming from a prom or some sort of formal party. They sit across from Mercy and Swan and the giggling stops once the couples observe one another. They are all of six feet and many, many worlds apart. Mercy, with her smudged dress and worn look begins to feel self-conscious. She brings her hand to hair in a fruitless effort to appear neater. Next to her, Swan takes his own hand to bring hers back to her lap in one instinctive and deliberate movement. There is no change in his expression- and he never takes his eyes off the pair across from them. He knows exactly what she is feeling. Wordlessly he tells her: Don't you dare be ashamed. They are no better than you. Than us. And she gets it. She leans her head back in a final state of tired but at peace resignation. The tension in the subway car is so unbearable that the party-goers get off at the next stop and return to their comfortable, self-absorbed lives. Even if they are now slightly tinged by the faces they just encountered. The scene begins about 2 and half minutes in if you care to watch it here. Powerful in it's subtlety.

It's a poignant reminder to us all that we are no more or no less important than anyone else. I have trouble with that sometimes. I'm not sure how it started but self confidence has never been my strong suit. My esteem has always toggled between mock confidence out of pride if nothing else- and a disdainful feeling of not measuring up. To who or what in particular depends on the situation, honestly. When I was a little girl, I had a nagging feeling that I wasn't Black enough. I'm a reader before I'm a writer so I always felt as though my work could never compare to the greats that I read. When I was a teen, I was cheated on by my first love with a girl that was physically my polar opposite in every sense of the phrase. For a time it destroyed my already withering confidence. While most of my peers went off to college, I stayed home and worked a sketchy job because of red tape. I didn't even have the proper ID to get into to a club in my twenties, so I became a homebody more out of constraint than preference. So when I assessed my life and where I wanted to be at that point- I had little more than disappointment and a wish for things to be different. It all turned around eventually but I'd be lying if I said that I'm A-Okay now. It hasn't been an easy road.

So many people tout the importance of self worth but I'm still trying to figure it how it's calculated. What is there to attach it to? It has nothing to do with the car you drive or title you hold at your job. It has nothing to do with being better looking than the next person. If it's really about "who you are on the inside" then why do I sometimes feel as though that's not always appreciated? Like it's not enough? I know nothing will stop a tom-catting man from going where he pleases. There is no such thing as the total package but I'd like to think I come pretty damn close. (Hey, that sounded like a breakthrough.) Hard work and persistence may get you the dream job, but they have to see something in you, don't they? You have to believe in what you deserve and more importantly, what you don't. There are times when I believe no one has anything on me. I can touch the sky and even bring a piece back for you. And then there are times when I'm Mercy in that subway car. Needing that reminder that I'm just as good as anyone else in my own unique way. I just have to remember not to compare Jayne to anyone but Jayne.


May 24, 2010

Thriller in Manila

I wasn't looking for them. As a matter of fact, I wasn't even looking for the box they were nestled in- waiting to be found. I was just there to pick up a few odds and ends to bring to my new digs. It's weird. The way the past can sometimes drift out to you from forgotten boxes. It peels your eyelids back and turns a crank in the brain that you long believed was rusted from disuse. But belief is a peculiar thing. I didn't always know that everything begins with just that. The slightest speck of belief. The tiniest iota of intangible hope wrapped gingerly in a ribbon of faith. Everything is as it should be. Once the clicking in my head stopped, there they were. All of them. Lydia. Rex. Stacy. Champ. Vincent. Nalia. People on paper I assumed had died or withered away with time and circumstance. Characters who were balled up and tossed before they ever had a chance to be fleshed out- but somehow missed the waste basket. There must be reason. I'm sitting here, pondering what to do with these people. Their stories. My story...but not entirely. I suppose I never stopped writing it. I just needed to breathe. Open up the door on my chest. Step in...have a look around. I got so lost there. Living, loving, learning. Drinking in moments and drowning in real life; that I'd forgotten my obligation. It's akin to birthing a child and forgetting to feed it. How does that happen? She wrote, "I mean, you've been through a lot and fought and lost and fought and won." I knew it was it the truth when I read it- but I honestly never viewed it that way until then. It matters not how the ball was dropped. It is my duty to pick it up with both hands and hurl it around the globe, or at the very least- as far as belief can carry it. And now, after meeting them all again in that manila envelope, I remember my obligation to write their story. My story. But not.


May 11, 2010

Horne of Plenty

A beautiful lady is an accident of nature. A beautiful old lady is a work of art. - Louis Nizer

Stunning. Regal. Elegant. Graceful. Eloquent. Diplomatic. Pure class. The Genuine Article. Respected. I could go on, but I don't believe the words yet exist to sum up the magnificence of this iconic woman. Her beauty shone from deep within. I'm finding it difficult for my mind to conjure up anyone who aged more gracefully or will be as timeless as the great Lena Horne. She has moved on to her own Cabin in the Sky. In life and death, she is an authentic testament to how truth does not necessarily supersede beauty or vice versa; but can in fact walk hand in hand. A lady to the very end. Rest her soul.

May 9, 2010

Son of A...

This is it. What?

Three words: Ooh Muthaf*ckin' Wee!

Credit where it's due. Shout out to my peeps, Crazy Al Cayne for putting me on.

May 7, 2010

Ya'll Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

Okay People, This Bug loves you and blogging far too much to leave you hanging. This is not an apology or an explanation. Just a quick hit to let you know that I have tons to do and the minute I have a chance to share my thoughts, rants and Hip-Hop favorites with you, I will. Right now I'm busy packing and recruiting manpower. Feel free to check the archives in my absence. There's a lot of good stuff in there so don't be lazy. You can check out past Throwbacks if you're feeling nostalgic. The Lists if you prefer of a mixed bag of useless or useful information. Depends on your perception, I guess. Or maybe even some poetry because, you know... This Bug can be really deep when she's ready. Or you can forgo all of that and just email me if you'd like to help me move. C'mon. Strap on a weight belt and don't forget to bend at the knees. It's for the greater good. It ensures my speedy return to writing and there's free pizza and a six pack of your choice in it for you. Win/Win.

May 4, 2010

Maybe it's just me

I don't know if This Bug has ever mentioned it before, but I absolutely hate moving. Hate. Moving. Feel me? The packing. The lifting. The unpacking. It'll be here before I know it. Honestly, I am dreading it with every fiber of my body but that's not my point. Presently I'm faced with the laborious task going through my closet to figure out what goes and what stays. This would be so much easier if I had a group of girlfriends sitting on my bed with Yay or Nay signs like Carrie did in the Sex and The City movie, but nope. No such luck. It's just me. Me, the iPod and my impaired judgment after hours of separating countless garments. I don't regret most of my fashion choices per se, I'm just annoyed that a lot of it no longer fits my new but old but new frame. (I haven't been this size since high school) Anyway, while going through this daunting accumulation of clothes, I came across something that I almost completely forgot about.

We all know there are some things in this world that you're just better off buying for yourself rather than receiving it as a gift. Everyone has something that you just don't trust anyone else to get for you. For me, it's watches. No matter how nice a watch may be- I am almost never fully satisfied unless I handpicked it myself, but I digress. Some things do not need to be given as a gift. Case and point: Leather pants. When I came across these ancient slacks in my closet the other day I instantly remembered how confused I was to get such a strange gift for Christmas. Grateful yes, but confused all the same. You see, I got these pants from a dude I was seeing off and on for the better part of a year. That may sound intimate enough to receive leather pants from someone, but the truth is- we didn't really know each other that well. Obviously. The pants were not something I'd get for myself, let alone want someone else to get for me.

Now, I would love to tell you that the infamous leather jeans fit like the pair on the left. Love to. But facts are facts. What I unwrapped that fateful December day many moons ago... looked more like the image to the right. When I tried them looked like I had a penis. I'm not kidding. There's no other way to put it. The crotch was mad long, Son. It looked like a nice sized package behind the zipper. What the? But I accepted them graciously and promptly put them away. Needless to say they never made it outdoors. Until now.

Anyway, in my quest to rid myself of excess baggage at my new place- someone at the Salvation Army is going to reap the benefits of my no longer impaired judgment. I'm talking about the guy, not the pants. We stopped seeing each other shortly after Jesus' birthday that year. Maybe someone else can fill them out in ways I never dreamed of. Who knows. What I do know is that by far, that was the weirdest gift I've ever gotten. It just completely missed the mark. This is what I have to look forward to. Sorting. Tossing. Keeping. Regretting. And rejoicing that I can part with horrible articles of clothing like that one. Word!

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