December 30, 2010

Throwback Thursdays

Yo...2010 is about to be over. I dunno about you but I'm about ready. This Bug is ready for the New Year and all the promise it holds.  That being said- this is the last Throwback Thursday of the year.  So I'll switch it up for the sake of newness.  Instead of featuring one video from a favorite year- I'm bussin' out a few that were always staples of that time for me.  The Golden Era of Hip Hop.  These are some of the criminally slept on joints that I always loved.  Always will.  Classic material. I'm diggin' deep.   No disrespect but- if you're not a true head just sit this one out. I'm not here to alienate anyone but this Hip Hop thing is for those who love it.  I do this for ya'll.  Enjoy.

Trends of Culture - Off and On 

Why is the beat so effin' tough on this one?!  Oooweee.

Original Flavor feat. Jay Z 

Yeah...pre-Reasonable Doubt Jay and a sick ass arrangement of rhymes.  It rarely gets better.

Strickly Roots - Begs No Friends

Dude said "Layin' muthafuckas like ready-cut carpet." What! Grand Puba  and Fat Joe rep to the fullest, too.

The A.T.E.E.M - Get It On 

Hot Dog . Yeah, Chubb Rock's background dancer kinda did his thing. Q-Dog style.  And I don't even eff with Frats.  I never understood why dude said "Not a white Bruce Jenner." As opposed to what?  Bruce Jenner is white, Fam..

Fat Joe feat. Diamond D and Grand Puba - Watch the Sound

One of my all-time faves. Hands down.  Plus, my girl Goldie is in the vid.  Such a sweetie, that one.

Eric B and Rakim - Paid In Full

"Was it good enough for ya?" Ooowee!!! Have a safe and prosperous New Year, Peoples.  Catch you in 20eleven.  Much love.

December 27, 2010

Water Song

Yesterday, I made a concerted effort not to draw attention to the obvious.  It was Sunday.  The day after Christmas.  Boxing Day.  It means little to some- but to my father? Everything.  43 years they would have been married.  When I spoke to him on the phone I made it a point not to mention their anniversary.   For the better part of five years I wore her solid gold band on my left ring finger.  Engraved inside are their initials and the date he first slipped that ring onto her finger. 26-12-67  She was a gorgeous bride- all ninety-nine pounds of her.  She had a smile that was beckoning and all knowing.  A smile that invited you to her mystique if you dared- but she never told her secrets.  Her nails were always prettily manicured.  Her attire and accessories looked as though they'd been handpicked by Anna Wintour. And when she first married my father she could only bake banana bread flawlessly.  By the time she left, she was a better cook than he was.  I was thirteen when she waded on to other waters.  A part of me always knew we only had her for a time.  She was so otherworldly. Always aware that there was an invisible world. She belonged somewhere between this world and that.  A Pisces in the true sense.  Wistful. A dreamer.  Full of charm. A showstopper devoid of conceit. She was supportive and content to let others shine while she floated somewhere in the background. That was her glow.  I was 10 years younger than her final year when I gave that ring back to my father to wear around his neck.  It never seemed right for me to wear it.  Not because my own marriage dissolved but because it wasn't placed on my hand with a fraction of the love that placed it on hers. Theirs is a timeless love.  This is for my mother- who no longer swims in earthly waters but I feel her just the same. This is for my father.  I peer through time portals and see a banner that reads: His wife was a mermaid. He is inconsolable. This is for Lady T.  So ironic that on the anniversary of something so great, something that brought forth my very existence; another Pisces went swimming through heavenly waters.  She was born one day before my beautiful mother and sang with a duality I know now is essentially theirs.  Wild and Peaceful. This is for my own water sign love who just last night,  gave me this song.  Because of them I am ever grateful.  Ever knowing.  Ever loving. Thank God.

December 26, 2010

The Middle Ground

"Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become." -Author Unknown

There's an art to making the best of a bad situation.  Banksy knows it.  Gladys knew it.  I'm still getting there.  I know it takes a series of calculated steps and pointed decisions to get there.  Simply wishing doesn't make it so.  Sunnyside up.  The silver lining.  The glass half full.  All of these things- conjured up by the spirited people who forgo the negative in pursuit of more constructive endeavors.  I don't fault them.  I just don't always share their enthusiasm.  To me they seem capricious- these shiny happy people.  Although that's far from the sentiment I pick up from Gladys Knight and phantom guerrilla artist, Banksy.  They are well aware of how unpleasant the subject matter at hand is.  They just decided to put a spin on it- turn it sideways before setting it right side up for all to see.  I can respect that.  A new take.  A different outlook.  Something more beneficial or edifying than what is immediately presented. Look closer.  I get it.

Plenty of self-examination is the precursor to that.  I'm trying.  Really, I am.  For every bitter pill there's an elixir.  For every disappointment, a new revelation. It's never as bad as it once seemed.  Most people I know grew up in the same house since childhood.  Not me.  Starting from six years old to my late teens, I moved around neighboring towns almost every few years.  At one point, I stayed with friends and lived out of jumbo plastic garbage bags.  Now that it rests squarely on my shoulders- I'm settled.  For how long- is a fear that tries to slip in with the draft in a floorboard, but I chase it away.  And every now and then, when problems crowd my brain, I revisit all of those homes.  I park across the street and recall whatever I was going through when I resided there, no matter how brief.  I think about how unbearable it was at the time and realize that I made through that- so I can make it through this.  The look back isn't harmful as long as it's followed by a look ahead.

It was naive of me to think I was the only one who did this.  I truly believed I was until I read an article on Eminem in Spin magazine.  The interviewer followed him around to several places he had lived in Detroit as a youth. He spoke of doing this often when he was seeking perspective on where he presently was- whenever his hectic schedule allowed him to be in his hometown.  I instantly recognized my own movements in his.  The inherent need to be reminded that as shitty as it was back then- you made it through.  You. Made it. Through. Tougher, stronger, no worse for wear and grateful.  Reflection.  It's a countermeasure that works as long as it's properly applied.  If you start dwelling there or not wanting to move on to the next house or even head home, you've already fucked up.  I don't drive around to those old haunts as much as I used to.  I reserve those times for more pressing or melodramatic courses.  These days, I take a page out of Banksy's book.  See the beauty in the grit and discomfort of it all and show others what I'm made of; simply by showing it to myself.  Some may call that inspiration.  I call it middle ground.

December 24, 2010

lowest common denominator

in two years i've learned that
every smiling face
ain't necessarily
happy to see you

that work still waits for you
even if you don't hear the alarm
and the wounds you can't see
take the longest to heal

i also learned
that no amount of explaining
will be enough
when their minds are made up
and that talking to my father
only hurts
when I'm keeping secrets

that no audience is required
to feel humiliated
and that math was never my strongest subject-
but I know enough about equations
to solve the problem
but the variables
keep changing
so I'm always

in the past two years
I learned that
nothing is personal
and everything
is personal

December 23, 2010

Throwback Thursdays

C'mon now, you already know a classic is due. Niiiiice....

Have a safe and Happy Holiday, ya'll.

December 21, 2010

Judge not

I've heard it all my life. So have you.  "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."  As a youngster, this idiom was never fully explained to me.  I just knew it involved stones and glass. Common sense told me that the thrower could just as easily be hurt if his target decided to return fire.  If anything, the one in the glass house would be worse off- since shattered glass causes the kind of damage that stones do not.  No less dangerous.  Just different.

Just for today- a twist on an old adage: Don't go throwing stones in a Plexiglass house. Yes, it's harder to see and doesn't break nearly as easily. It feels safe. But you have to come out someday.  What then? Nobody's bulletproof.

Throw your stones in a house of mirrors instead and maybe then you’ll see enough to tell the truth and know it when it falls upon your ears.

December 18, 2010

The Purple Unicorn Theory

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I'm a born cynic.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I wasn't born a cynic.  It just became part of my make-up after years of experience. Sarcasm.  Now, that I'm positive is ingrained in my DNA.  But the cynic in me was created almost as a coping mechanism- especially where romantic matters are concerned.  I've always said that if I were to send you out on a mission to find two things; a willfully monogamous man and purple unicorn- you would sooner return with the unicorn. Because to me, they are one in the same.  A mythical creature that everyone has heard about in stories or seen in movies but in actuality does not exist. Only depictions of one's imagination.  An illusion to be sought but never visualized in real life.  I know, it sounds extraordinarily pessimistic but at the very least, it's realistic.

This leads me to my friend Warren.  We work together at my side gig. He's not yet 26 and holds two art degrees.  He sees everything in color.  There's no black and white with him.  He is by far one of the most optimistic people I know.   His philosophies on life and relationships always lead me to believe he maintains this perspective because he's still young and idealistic.  And I always walk away from our chats feeling a mixture of disdain for holding a bleak if not pragmatic outlook and hopefulness that I may one day look at the glass as half full for a change.  To hear him tell it- he would not be forced into being with just one girl.  He would do it because that's just who he is.  When he first said this to me, I answered with a blank non-believing stare.  Surely, any man not forced by circumstance would be with more than one woman for at least a moment in time.  That is my conjecture.  A hypothesis that has been tested time and again by my own experiences and through countless platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex.  When I was 15, I sat slack jawed with some of the things my male friends told me about their exploits.  By 20, I listened almost absently as they recounted their Lotharion tales. Not a lot has changed.  Many birthdays, some marriages and a few kids later- they pretty much still have the same habits.

But Warren believes there is one person out there for him. A soul mate. The One.  And he will be with her and only her as long as time allows.  Rather than cut down his ideal with a verbal scythe, I listen.  You see, I once believed I had one of those.  A twin flame.  An unbreakable bond and true love. And he wanted to be with me and only me. No one could tell me otherwise. Back then I was what they'd call a hopeless romantic, not unlike Warren. But if were to be honest with all of you- that person was already committed to another and so was I. So the Purple Unicorn theory solidified shortly thereafter.  You get older...or I got older- and realized that love is not about the 'together forever' they sell you from the time you're old enough to crack open a story book.  Happily Ever After is a fantasy.  It's not real.  You have your good times and your bad.

Conceptually, I don’t feel that we are allotted only one soul mate in our lifetime. I think some people often mistake a romantic connection with an otherwise spiritual one. They confuse a soul mate with a sole mate.  While that connection may include romance- a true soul mate doesn’t necessarily require it in my book. Your soul mate is your touchstone. A person who may be a polar but parallel opposite. They just get you and you get them. I have a female cousin, an ex-lover and a very close friend; all of whom I consider my soul mates. We have an near non-verbal communication- and our connections were almost immediate as my confectioner in the blogosphere, Candy Girl once put it.

This is what I want to convey to Warren when he gets that misty, far off look in his eye as he describes what has to exist out there for him- but I don't.  Far be it from me to shatter one's ideal of love and life.  All I know is that unicorns and one-woman men have never existed in the world as I know it.  And that's okay.  This world is too cruel for them to sustain a true permanence. Does that make me a cynic? I'm not so sure.  Sooner or later, someone would slay that purple unicorn. Skin its violet hued hide and feed upon its divine flesh. Extract that remarkable horn and ground it to a fine lavender iridescent powder- simply because they could.  So they belong in another world...just like Warren.

And now, a word from our sponsor

December 17, 2010

A Reader's Confessional

"A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend." ~Author Unknown

Sometimes I buy the books because the titles sound interesting. The Call of the Weird.  A Thirst for Rain. Death Be Not Proud. 100 Things You're Not Supposed Know.  Or because the covers are eye-catching. Open to a random page.  Skim a few lines.  If they can write, I buy it.  Discarded library books for 50 cents.  Books from thrift shops.  The occasional designer bookstore purchase when I get a coupon via email.  Novels.  Cookbooks.  Poetry.  Once in a while- a self-help book disguised as an instructional manual or revelatory instant classic.  I buy them all.  Because as long as I have them, there's an  unspoken confirmation that my wheels are still turning.  The books help oil the machine.  As long as I can read- I can make sense of my reality while escaping it.  Books by the plentiful pound.  Stories about foreign, faraway places and close-up tragedies not unlike my own.  The missed train.  The tyrant of a mentor. The forced hand. The skinned knee.  The inexclusive love.  The flood of afterthought that drowns every living and already decayed thing in 20/20 hindsight. The rebirth of spirit.  Quiet chaos and triumphs holding hands; riding off into the sunset.  Books, quite simply...are my truth when the rest of the world is lying straight to my face. 

December 15, 2010

Odds and Ends

This Bug is back in a major way.  It may not seem like it but I was out of the loop for several months. The hows and whys are less important than the fact that I'm back now.  No longer relegated to blogging stealthily from work or distractedly from a PC other than my own.  Now it's just me, my keyboard, my ashtray and the freedom to tap tap tap away.  Of course, I can't come back without a Random Rundown to let you know what's been going on.  Shall we? Let's.

Eye Can't Believe It

Recently I started seeing spots.  Tiny, globular shapes were traipsing across my field of vision, along with some eye pain for about a week before I made an appointment to see the opthamologist.  What did I learn? 1. Those pesky little things I saw are called Floaters.  (Which is a term I always associated more with something in a commode but whatever.) 2.  There is no real explanation or cure for this annoying condition. 3. I have stubborn pupils. Those were the doctor's exact words after he administered drops that were meant to dilate my pupils.  It took 3x the normal amount for the desired result and it stung like a bitch.  I'll never whine about shampoo in my eye ever again. That's a treat compared to those dastardly drops.  Anyway, I'm just glad it's not a detached retina or a brain tumor. (Whew!) The symptoms are identical.

Ride 'em, Cowbug

I've officially added riding a mechanical bull in Vegas to my Bucket List.  It has to be in Vegas. Why? I don't know why.  Because I don't think Texas is gonna see This Bug anytime soon.  Now, this isn't some off-the-cuff split decision.  I've done my research.  Sure it looks sexy- but there's nothing sexy about flopping face first onto some rubber mat in front of a drunken crowd.  You have to be in pretty damn good shape to stay on.  Strong legs and knowing how to move with the bull's momentum help immensely. I think I have that licked.  It should be fun providing I don't flop face first into a drunken crowd.  Stay tuned.

Up In The Air

I watched this flick for the first time last week  There's not one detail in it that I didn't love. The man traveled with military-like precision.  He spent most of his time literally up in the air.  Flying the friendly skies and as the play on words go- with uncertainty.  It's a very grown-up movie about grown-ups and the childlike reservations they tend to hold onto.  I learned two things. Hatchet Men don't necessarily enjoy their job.  That's a huge misconception.  Also, the song O.P.P. can really be viewed as the ultimate cheaters' anthem.  It sort of gave the green light to unfaithful behavior by making it a cool club to be a member of.  I love the scene in which this plays by the way.  Clooney makes you want to crash corporate parties with him.

The Soldier of Love

It must be life's little joke on This Bug that Sade will be a stone's throw away from me next year and it's a wrap for any prospect of me getting tickets. Wait, did you read that correctly? Yup. Next. Year. She puts an album out like what? Once every six years?  She performs sporadically.  This hurts.  That's all for now.  Unless you would like to make a donation to my PayPal account.  In that case- all hope is not lost.  Now, I'm happy to get the kind that jingles...but I'd rather have the kind that folds, dig?  If you think I'm groveling, do remember that Love Is Stronger than Pride. 

"How much can you know yourself if you've never been in a fight?"

I didn't think it would come to this- but I seriously wish there was a real underground Fight Club I could join.  Somewhere I could beat the shit out of someone.  Somewhere I might get the shit beat out of me. If that's the case- the loss would be worthwhile.  Lately, the anger comes in waves and it's a dangerous thing. I'm starting to identify with the likes of Naomi Campbell (Runway Ripper and Cell Phone Hurler Extraordinaire) and it's disturbing. There are tons of anger management resources in the Yellow Pages but for some reason- no underground clubs to knuckle up. Rule #1. You cannot google Fight Club.  Rule #2.  You cannot google Fight Club! I am Bug's raging bile duct...

Color me Optimistic

I'm seriously considering an accent wall in my place.  I chose Peacock Feather.  I was pretty pleased with this prospect until I was told it looks like it belongs in a bathroom.  Well, it just might.  But at least I tried something new- which is what I'm hitting for.  Home Depot sells these cool little 8oz samples of any color you choose so I'll give it a spin before I commit to an entire gallon.  If it sucks, I can always cover it with paint left behind by my super when I first moved in.  Wish me luck.

There is a (Mixtape) God

Question: Who knows about mixtapes?  Put your hand down, youngens.  This is not for you.  You see, This Bug remembers when mixtapes were actually tapes. A good friend pointed out that they now come as CD's and it's just not the same.  I can remember copping Clue tapes from the Ave.  I can remember tapes popping from incessant listening. I can recall the loss I felt when someone got me for a classic tape. Well, thanks to technological advancement I was able to replace a Dirty Harry tape from 1996 that I got somebody for. (Love ya, Broham.)  Words can't express my elation when I downloaded each song in the exact sequence that I remember. I would post the link on here but I'd rather make heads work for it.  If you truly want it bad enough- you'll get resourceful the way I did or- you can just hit my email and I would slide you that link because it shows that you went the extra mile and that makes you, like me, a Hip Hop purist.  We take care of our own.

December 12, 2010

Lost in the World

Imagine a world of chaos and a woman determined to write about it.  He said he was the headache and the aspirin.  He didn't lie. People always say they don't know whether they're coming or going.  I'm always doing both and yet, I remain totally cognizant of that fact.  It's a choice.  I know that now.  I chose the headache and the aspirin.  The poison and the antidote.  The torment and the salve. The crux: Stay or go?  I never know.  But win or lose- I'll write it all. 
It's not often I hear lyrics that sound as if they were ripped covetously from my brain.  But every now and then...

You're my devil you're my angel
You're my heaven you're my hell
You're my now you're my forever
You're my freedom you're my jail
You're my lies you're my truth
You're my war you're my truce,
Your my questions you're my proof
Your my stress and you're my masseuse.

Lost In The World - Kanye West

December 3, 2010

"I am serious."

Leslie Nielsen
Sunrise: February 11,1926  Sunset: November 28, 2010

I owe a great many laughs from my youth to this man.  Shirley, he will be missed.

December 2, 2010

Throwback Thursdays

1995. One of my favorite years in Hip Hop. And I'll go as far as saying it was one my favorite years in life overall. To quote Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity..." Don't I know it.  You know who else knew it?  The Pharcyde.  By the second album- Labcabincalifornia they collectively displayed a more serious side musically and lyrically.  Many of the tracks were produced by J Dilla (Rest In Peace) and you definitely heard a difference.  While they didn't completely depart from the jokes and playfulness which was evident on their 1992 debut, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, This Bug fell right in step with the growing pains they expressed. Shit, I was going through it my damn self back then. Conceptually- even the videos took a new twist. (Think  Drop and how everything moved backwards while going forward. Trippy.)

Which brings me to Today's Throwback.  Aside from the song itself, which I always liked- the video only  bolstered how I felt about it.  Beginning with Fatlip's verse, the recollections are heartfelt.  He got picked on, jumped and harrassed by Crips.  Slim Kid Tre breaks down the lessons of being self reliant; friends are nice to have around, but there's no guarantee they'll be there when it gets thick.  The final verse from Imani hit me hard back then- especially the last line.  All the while, the video has an almost dreamlike quality.  Which is fitting since there's a scenario of flip-flop slavery at play here.  In a surreal role reversal, everything from the servitude on a plantation to an auction block is present- but not in a way you've ever seen in history.  The Pharcyde play croquet while melanin deficient girls style the hair of their mistresses poolside.  It's an interesting juxtapostion to say the least.  This Bug's favorite line?  "It's 1995. Now that I'm older stress weighs on my shoulders heavy as boulders- but I told ya- Til the day that I die I still- will be a soldier. And that's all I told ya and that's all I showed ya." I still feel him on that one. It's true.  You can't keep Runnin', you just gotta keep keen and cunnin'.

December 1, 2010

Let the Bed Bug bite

When I was in the sixth grade, I wrote a story about a lipstick from the perspective of the lipstick.  I can remember getting a really high grade on it.  The teacher liked how I applied emotion to an inanimate object.  The details are fuzzy but I recall the lipstick being purchased from the cosmetic counter by a girl whose father thought she was too young to wear make-up.  She tried it on in private.  Held it close, hid it in her Hello Kitty purse.  She snuck it into school once and put it on before she spoke to a boy she liked.  Her dad found it one day. He snatched it from her, smashed the cap onto it before winding it down, and so on.  All of this from the point of view of the lipstick.  It was pretty cool. Anyway, recently I was looking for writing prompts and was reminded of that story. What follows is the result of that writing exercise. I had fun with it.  I may post more of these because I enjoyed revisiting the midset of being in my writing classes.  Here's the prompt:

 You return home from work to find a Dear John letter on your kitchen table. Oddly enough, it's from one of your favorite pieces of furniture. What does the letter say? 

Dear Jayne,

    I guess the gaping space in the bedroom is somewhat telling.  I wish it weren't this way.  It's only been about three years but I believe it's best if we part ways.  For now, anyway.  It's not that I don't feel appreciated- because I do.  The way you rotated me each  month and regularly changed my linens let me know that you cared about my well being.  When your brother-in-law built my base so you wouldn't lose things underneath me, I was relieved.  I know you hated misplacing earrings and hair clips under there.  But this is not about me.

    I was meant to improve your quality of life but it's just not happening.  You only just learned that I was called Cushion Cloud.  My pillow top used to lull you into blissful rest.  Somehow though, you forgot how useful I could be.  Languid sweat from bodies in motion has been replaced by tears.  You think I can't tell the difference in the saline? Ask yourself what happened.  How come I don't feel the weight of him anymore? One man.  I liked that you never brought strangers to lie in me.  I grew accustomed to the way you both held each other close in the middle of me.  And when asleep, secure in the knowledge that I was supporting you both, retreated to opposite sides.  Only to unite again when day broke.  He was in the habit of making me before he left.  I wish I could say the same for you- but I don't fault you for that.  You're always running.  Always late.  I know I'm the reason you sometimes chose a few minutes more of being cradled over making sure every hair was in place for work.  I know that takes time. You didn't mind oversleeping.  I want you to know that I understand how lonely it can be.  That's why you often fall asleep with books or the New York Times at the foot of me sometimes; the lamp still burning bright when your alarm sounds at 7:25 a.m.  I was all yours.  You'd lay diagonally, dead center and even upside-down on occasion.  Or you'd tear off articles of clothing in mid-slumber.  Leggings.  Socks. A bra left between the sheets here and there.  Panties rolled off in one swift movement; just so you could get more out your forty winks.  That made me happy.

  But I'm not happy anymore- because you're not happy anymore.  I won't be back until you are again.  I know you'll miss me when you're curled up on that too soft love seat, sinking each time you rest your bones.  It sounds strange but I want you to.  I want you to get busy living.  Live a life that makes you ready to collapse into a welcoming bed so that I may want to return.  Make no mistake; I don't want you to exhaust yourself.  You've done enough of that.  I just want you to even things out again.  Less tears.  More sleep.  Lovemaking at twilight. More dreams.  No nightmares. You deserve that.  I'll be back when it's time.

                                                                                   Yours truly,
                                                                                   The Mattress

P.S.  Just a last word of advice.  The sheepskin rug is nice but I hope you don't get on the floor to take your rest.  Too many unseen dust mites down there.  TTYS...hopefully.