September 30, 2010

Farewell Tony

It seems a little ironic to me that today marks the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones and today, Tony Curtis passed away.  I say this because I can remember that the cartoon had their very own celebs in "Hollyrock" and Stony Curtis was one of them.  They drew his likeness to a tee.  Check it out.  Anyway, I can count on one hand how many Tony Curtis movies I've seen and have fingers to spare.  But I was always aware of him.  Recently, I got one of the best gifts anyone could give me...if anyone knows me. The book is Esquire's The Meaning of Life and in it comes one of the best interviews from Mr. Curtis.  He was candid.  He was sprightly.  He said that he and Marilyn Monroe fucked their heads off. You gotta love it. Eighty years old and not skipping a beat.  Eccentric! I like that in people. It gives me something to aspire to in old age rather than just worrying about  not having all my faculties some day.   He was Hollywood's pretty boy.  He played Harry Houdini. And he lived to a ripe old age where he felt well within his right to unapologetically say whatever was on his mind. He admitted that he wasn't there much for his children growing up and figured he could be a handsome man at ninety. Well sadly, he fell five years short of that but one cannot deny that he lead a full life. That's what it's about.

Wanna hear some poetry? Here's one I wrote: "You cannot ask a fish not to swim. It's the only thing that makes him him." -Tony Curtis

Don't I know it, Tony...

Rest in Peace.

September 23, 2010

Throwback Thursdays

Picture it: New York. 1993. The World Trade Center was bombed (from the bottom up), Billy Clinton became the first Black president and Brand Nubian released In God We Trust. I remember all of this clearly. Mostly because it was a time that was rife with duality. Good times and hard times held hands. The mother of one of my closest friends worked in the Twin Towers. I can remember the sense of urgency that day. Where was she? Was she okay? And nobody's beeper would work. Remember those? It was scary. At the same time, I was in love for the first time. That alone made all the confusion in the world alright with me. Anyway, Brand Nubian was still rockin' after Grand Puba bounced for a solo mission. He's noticeably missing on one of their best singles of all time, Love me or Leave Me Alone. I'm wondering now, all these years later what a verse from Puba Maxwell might have added to this song. The other two are so matter-of-fact in their statements to their prospective and current lovers. My guess is that he would've told Baby Girl just why she should act right before she gets cancelled in a way that only he can do it. He's such a smart aleck. Either way, without him the other two break it down. This is not a love song . It's a song about wisdom and understanding- of self and then between a woman and man. At the time, I couldn't appreciate the jewels they were dropping. I was a teenager in a teenage love affair. Nothing really mattered. But I'm older and wiser now. I can see to a degree why acting tone deaf can be your own mental death. (Props to Lord Jamar on that witty play on words.) Now, I don't necessarily agree with every point they make. Some of it still comes off a tad chauvinistic to my ear- but truly, if a man is worth it...there should be no shame in dancing to his tune. A strong couple is a blessing. Love, Hell or Right. Either way, a man and woman has to go through all of it to get it right. This joint took me back to '93 while catapulting me into the present. Eight years after the first World Trade Center attack, the intended target was hit once again with devastating results. Seventeen years later, we have another Black president. And I can safely say that I'm in a grown up love affair now, where the lyrics to Brand Nube's song make sense to my adult mind. "So on your wisdom I'll shine my light-Bring forth the seeds, created in the night."

September 20, 2010

Meet Virginia

You want honest? I can be honest. This past weekend I experienced what can only be described as a near nervous breakdown. Or perhaps a minor meltdown of volcanic proportions. I was fit to be tied. I don't know why. Maybe I do. Shit, sometimes life just...gets to you. Either way, I know I'm not alone when songs like this can be written. I can't be the only one relating to the words. My daddy may not wrestle alligators. And my mother never worked on carburetors. But this much is true. My confidence is tragic. My intuition is magic. And there once was a time when I only drank coffee at midnight. I don't care who you are in this world or what success you have tasted- at some point or another, you just might look in the mirror and meet Virginia. I know I did.

Meet Virginia - Train

She doesn't own a dress
Her hair is always a mess
If you catch her stealin'
She won't confess
She's beautiful.

Smokes a pack a day
Wait that's me, but anyway
She doesn't care a thing about that, hey
She thinks I'm beautiful.

Meet Virginia

She never compromises
Loves babies and surprises
Wears high heels when she exercises
Ain't that beautiful?

Meet Virginia

Well she wants to be the queen
And she thinks about her scene
Pulls her hair back and she screams,
"I don't really want to be the queen!"

Daddy wrestles alligators
Mama works on carburetors
Her brother is a fine mediator
For the residents.

Here she is again on the phone
Just like me; hates to be alone
We just like to sit at home
And rip on the president.

Meet Virginia

Well she wants to live her life
And she thinks about her life
Pulls her hair back and she screams,
"I don't really want to live this life!"

She only drinks coffee at midnight
When the moment is not right
Her timing is quite

You see, her confidence is tragic
But her intuition magic
And the shape of her body...

Meet Virginia
I can't wait to
Meet Virginia,

Well she wants to be the queen
And she thinks about her scene
Well she wants to live her life
And she thinks about her life
Pulls her hair back and she screams,
"I don't really want to be the queen!
I, I don't really want to be the queen!
I, I don't really want to be the queen!
I, I don't really want to live this..."

September 17, 2010

Only The Strong Survive

Before viewing a movie like Animal Kingdom, you have to throw out all of your preconceived notions of what a gangster, crime drama should be. You will not find the choppy, stylized storytelling of say... Quentin Tarantino or the epic weaving of Francis Ford Coppola à la The Godfather. Nor will you find the shocking, heart-stopping carnage of Scarface. What you will find is the unfolding of an unlovely tale. Family. Betrayal. Instinctive ferocity.

The film focuses on seventeen year old Josh a.k.a. J, who by all outward appearances leads the life of a typical teenager in Melbourne, Australia. That's if typical includes calmly calling the paramedics when your mom overdoses, growing up with three uncles who are professional armed robbers by trade and having a ruthless matriarch nicknamed Smurf who oversees the most harrowing calamities with bone chilling calm and one raised eyebrow.

Animal Kingdom introduces everyone with a steady hand. Honestly, the only actor I was familiar with going into it was Guy Pearce from Memento. Other than that, I knew no one and it only served to engulf me more into the characters. Josh is played with unseemly simplicity. He's just a kid with a cute girlfriend who happens to get caught up in the family drama. Things get really hairy when the cops are sick of the lawless antics. They aren't out to arrest. They're out for blood. Pearce plays the lead detective who seems to be the only one who actually cares about justice. He tries to help Josh. But it's reminiscent of Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire. You can almost hear Pearce pleading with J, "Help me help you...Help me, help you." Of course, talking to the cops carries with it its own consequences but that's for you- the viewer to witness or judge. One word of advice: Don't get comfortable with any one person or situation. This film has hard turns by the cluster and they don't care whether you're buckled up or not.

There is something unsettling about how casually all of these dangerous events take place. The hard drug use, the unexpected bloodshed and the overall passiveness where outrage should be. It's downright scary...and it's pure genius. Animal Kingdom begs the question, "Where do you fit in?" At the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about? Where we stand or fall in the food chain of this relentless world. What are we made of? Are outlaws born bad or cultivated through a series of circumstances. When the hammer comes down do you have the mettle, the intestinal fortitude? How are you built? Can you survive? These are questions we should all ask ourselves from time to time. Pray that you never have to find the answers they way those in Animal Kingdom do.

September 16, 2010

Throwback Thursdays

Hello B-Boys and B-Girls. In keeping with a recent post (see below) This Bug is paying homage to a simpler time. A time resolute with "keeping it real" before it became an overused and antiquated term that even requires quotes now. There was a time when genuine Thug Love could be expressed without coming off soft. Enter the Hip-Hop duet to end all Hip-Hop duets. You know the one. The Ticallian Stallion and the Queen dropped I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need in 1995. Method Man and Mary J. Blige showed what comes from a perfect pairing of talents. I don't attach any special merit to awards, but the fact that it won a Grammy speaks volumes for how far the genre itself had come. Anyway, a classic is always a classic. And the revamped version of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1968 hit You're All I Need to Get By is an amped up tribute to its predecessor. Meth and Mary did it well for my generation. Period. This Bug's favorite line? "Even if I'm locked up North, you in the world rockin' three fourths of cloth. Never showin' your stuff off, Boo." Ah, pure 'hood poetry. Enjoy the vid and then take in the original since really and one can do it like Marvin and Tammi. Shout out to my boy Coco who messed up everybody's head at his wedding when he and his wife came out to the original and then broke out into a fly dance as the DJ mixed in the Meth and Mary version. It was dope.

September 13, 2010

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary

(Sigh) Where do I begin? Let's start by saying that no one has to agree with me on this one. This Bug is not afraid to hold an unpopular opinion. It's my opinion and there's nothing humble about it. It's mine. Also, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Awhile back, a good friend and I were talking and the same sentiment was expressed. I really thought it was just me! So let's cut straight to the chase. I miss Cokehead Mary. I miss raw Mary. I miss Mary who sang from a place that was heartfelt albeit troubled. Don't get me wrong. I'm just as glad as the next person that she got her life together, got married, found God and seems to be living a pretty stable life. But her music suffered. It seems like the soul of her songs has gone elsewhere. I don't know where- but it's just not present anymore. Mary seems to have more prosperous things at hand. Take for example, her latest perfume slinging endeavor on the Home Shopping Network.

My official WTF moment came recently when I was flipping through channels late one night and saw Ms. Blige on HSN. Huh? Really Mary...Really? I don't know about you but this pretty much sealed the deal for me. It's bad enough her music lost that...oomph once she straightened up her life but seriously, selling a fragrance named after the classic album that solidified her as the Queen of Hip Hop Soul is just disrespectful to her own legacy if you ask me. I said it before. I grew up with Mary. She saw me through trials and tribulations of my own young life and I'm eternally grateful that her music was present in those trying times. It's that fact that makes it hard for me to accept the boring, humdrum, commercial Pop star cut-out that she has devolved into. Show of hands...who remembers raw Mary? Mary J. Blige circa '93. Yeah...that one.

When Mary was in her heyday- she was the quintessential 'hood chick that I could relate to. She belted out her songs over some bass heavy beats and she held her own with her Hip Hop contemporaries. She was that cool ass chick. Her music and persona seemed to channel the tragic soulfulness of Billie Holiday. In fact, I'll go as far as saying that she was my generation's Billie. No one knew just how deep her troubles ran with former boyfriend, K-Ci. It wasn't until years later she spoke of her abusive and drug-laden relationship with the former Jodeci member. Looking back on it, they might have been the 90's version of Ike and Tina. I dunno. What I do know is that her music resonated with me on the deepest level before she started doing duets with Elton John and George Michael. Make no mistake- I'm not knocking her musical and professional growth one bit. But Mary and Meth...Mary and Keith Murray...Mary and Grand Puba...we'll never see anything like that happen again. Mark my words. She's good and gone and she ain't lookin' back. It's almost as if everything and everyone from that time period had to go. A clearcut case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater if you ask me.

Anyway, this is not about 'hateration' or 'holleration' in this Danceree...(Boy, she lost me on that one. I cannot stand that song to this day.) I don't even doubt the sincerity of her music. I just want to express how much I miss the Mary I once knew and loved. She had spunk. She would cuss you out. And she wasn't afraid to show vulnerability. It seems the new and improved Mary is so empowered that she forgot all about the rest of us. Those who need to hear that we're not the only ones feeling less than stellar sometimes. I understand it's about No More Drama- but it seems like she forfeited so much while declaring that. I don't care if she has more money. The wardrobe and hair has always been tight. That's a part of what made her Mary. But something is missing now. Should I just get over it? Pick up the phone and order a bottle of My Life along with a free sassy little clutch bag? I just can't see it. Sorry. No. Tell the truth. When's the last time she released a joint that could even compare to I Love You with Smif n Wesson? Or a true to life anthem like Not Gon' Cry? If there's a way she can return to the impassioned renditions of her tunes and the 'round the way girl collaborations with real emcees (Um, yeah Drake.. relax for a sec, please) without having to do a bump off her dressing room vanity mirror- This Bug is all for it. But if a shot of Henny brings it all back, I mean raw, circa 93 Mary- then I say we sneak some into her freshly squeezed OJ backstage, sit back and wait for her to buss out with the You Don't Have to Worry remix. Somebody call Craig Mack. I'm ready to do this.

Until then...

September 9, 2010

Throwback Thursdays

Hello Boys and Girls. It's been a minute since my last Throwback and This Bug got to thinking about some ch-ch-changes. Some things need to have new life breathed into them. That's where sampling comes in, I guess. I don't know how many of you remember Imeem (it really wasn't that long ago) but when they were usurped bought out by Myspace, I lost a ton of playlists. Talk about pissed? Man listen....I was heated, Son! But I digress. One of the playlists I had so painstakingly compiled consisted of some of my favorite Hip Hop joints followed immediately by the original song that it sampled. Thanks to the good people over at whenever that certain hook or beat rings familiar but you just can't put your finger on it- they come to the rescue. It's a great source of information if you ever care to check it out. Anyway, I decided that for today's Throwback, I'll do a double feature. The fly video followed directly by the classic material which it was based on or around. I'm sorta liking the whole idea of reaching back and paying homage to the inspiration so this may go on for the next few throwbacks. Why not. Let's start with Black Moon's ridiculously smooth single, Buck 'Em Down. No matter how much time goes by, this one still takes me somwhere. Hopefully it does that for you, too. And when you're done, check out Donald Byrd's meticulously crafted Wind Parade from which Buckshot and Evil Dee sampled. Straight. Fire.


September 7, 2010

Players only love you when they're playin'...

In the dream, it's sunny... and almost too bright a day. There is a garden party of some sort going on with live music being performed from a gazebo. Everything is set in white. The scene is reminiscent of the Catalina Wine Mixer...only there's no Will Ferrell there. Just rows and rows of heavy white folding chairs on lush grass and a sprinkling of wide round tables covered in white sheets. Odd, but in the dream I know they are sheets and not tablecloths for some reason. I take a seat near the front and watch the performance distractedly. I'm there alone although it feels like I was supposed to meet someone there. But who? Something makes me turn my head. I spot them sitting side by side at one of the tables. I turn just in time to see him deliver an affectionate peck to a bare, tanned shoulder. Her face is flawless and bears the look of someone blissfully unknowing. She looks familiar- like I've seen her before in a collection of photos. Women of every imaginable shape and hue that are supposed to be special to him in one way or another. To the untrained eye they all look friendly, but only they know for sure whether it was- or could ever be more than that. But in the dream, that quick kiss betrays all appearances. What follows is hot, unadulterated rage.

In a flash, I am on my feet and charging towards them, leaving overturned chairs tossed this way and that in my wake. They fly off my fingertips as if they shared the weight of feathers. People seated around me seem to scatter and virtually disappear. No one is left but the the three of us, it seems. They give chase. No matter how fast I run, they are just out of reach. And I am blinded by thoughts of what I will do if I get my hands on either one. Suddenly the scene switches to a casual backyard cookout. There is a woman, a different woman seated at another round table- howling in pain. I never see it happen- but a long metal stake or pole has fallen from some immeasurable height. Or perhaps just the clear blue sky. It impales her fleshy thigh through light colored jeans. Her femur is no doubt in two pieces. She needs medical attention. Fast. People surround her in panic. Someone yells to give her room. Another voice is screaming to call an ambulance. Pandemonium. All the while, I am consumed by a quavering calm that whispers fiercely into my ear, ' Who gives a fuck about her? Where did they go?'

They are gone. I never catch them. Never see them again.


When I research the main details, I learn that to chase something or someone in a dream highlights you drive and ambition to go after what you want. Or perhaps the dream suggests that you are falling behind and have to catch up with everyone else. Considering the distance or gap between the pursuer and the pursued indicates your closeness to the issue. To dream of impalement suggests a forceful , violent or passionate release of repressed emotions. It then says to consider which part of the body is being impaled, so I look up the thigh. To see your thigh in a dream symbolizes stamina and endurance. It refers to your ability to perform and do things. That it wasn't my thigh but some random woman's confuses me a bit. I no longer cared about a fellow human being or pain and suffering. I cared not that more pressing issues were going on around me. I was deadlocked on a target that was not within my grasp. It was time to give up and I simply wouldn't admit it to myself. My fury had to place to go. All of this absolves nothing and brings me no closer to peace.

I guess when the rain washes me clean, I'll know.