Showing posts with label Coffee Buzz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coffee Buzz. Show all posts

March 17, 2015

Dark Roast, Flat White … Race 101? Why Starbucks’ #RaceTogether Campaign Lacks Steam

If there’s anything I love swilling more than red wine and vodka, it’s coffee. A delicious, highly-caffeinated, bold, dark, unflavored and unsweetened with just a splash of creamer cup of coffee. Frequently, I’ll amble into the nearest Starbucks… a place I have an ‘it’s aight, I guess’/ hate relationship with, to get my fix.

But now that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has rolled out a new campaign called #RaceTogether—an initiative that’s meant to encourage dialogue about race between baristas and customers—I can now tack on ‘thoroughly amused yet perplexed’ to my feelings about the coffee chain.

While I recognize that Shultz shamelessly and openly expresses progressive ideas about equality, appreciate his willingness to 'go there' with shareholders and consideration for employees, understand the sentiment behind ‘Race Together,’ and get that employees’ personal stories, anti-racism and anti-police violence protests are what prompted this effort, Starbucks would be doing the national discourse on race and inequality an even bigger solid if they examined whether they, themselves, pass muster when it comes to diversity and race among their corporate staff, as opposed to launching a public, jingle-filled campaign their busy baristas are expected to broach in-between making frappuccinos and soy lattes. Particularly since Starbucks serves as something of an emblem for gentrification and high real estate prices.  

February 28, 2014

Revisiting the Film: Little Senegal

Updated review. Originally posted December, 2011


Last night while in the throes of insomnia, I decided to lull myself to sleep with a mini-movie marathon of sorts via Netflix. I watched and stopped several films before deciding on one: Little Senegal.  This film left enough of an indelible impression after I finished watching it; I was up until about 4:00 AM this morning mulling it over.
The Netflix reviews were ambivalent at best, suggesting it was dull, uninteresting, and that the acting was "wooden", however, as far as I'm concerned this reaction is par for the course from folks who don't have an emotional or vested interest in these types of films unless it's palatable and more along the lines of ‘magical negro’ fare with a white savior trope.

Little Senegal, a 2001 film directed by French-Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb, was far from uninteresting. It explored elements of the African Diasporic, immigrant experience and was somewhat reminiscent of Haile Gerima's film Sankofa, in that it charts the history and effects of the Atlantic slave trade. While the main character in Sankofa— a self-absorbed, black fashion model living in the present-day— is forced back in time to a plantation in the West Indies, to experience the horrors of slavery and learns the importance of community and advocacy; the protagonist in Little Senegal, an elderly man named Alloune, researches his heritage and those of his ancestors who were kidnapped and sold into American slavery, prompted by his own curiosity.

September 16, 2012

Coffee Buzz: A.R.T. - Going Against Reality's Terms



Considering it's such a small state, Connecticut is brimming with a wide array of artists from the myriad of creative disciplines, which includes Hip-Hop and rap. While most folks scattered across the northeast may consider CT’s rap scene to be nothing more than a fleeting fantasy for inexperienced wannabes, I surmise, that charting a path from the Nutmeg state to universal stardom gives up-and-coming rappers and Hip-Hop artists quite the advantage. Being an underdog that’s often brushed off by its larger than life New York cousins induces a certain degree of famine . . . and that intense hunger has produced an impressive list of lyricists, spoke-word performers, and beat makers, looking to make their mark on the Hip-Hop scene.  Greg “A.R.T.” Moore is among them. 

August 06, 2012

Bill Campbell's "Koontown Killing Kaper"

“Like rats to cheese, folks in Koontown are drawn to yellow police tape. It’s utterly irresistible. ESPN, BET, not even sex can break the hold that thin, plastic strip has on them.  And they come. I don’t understand it. I grew up in the suburbs. But I’d seen it all throughout my police career, and tonight is no different.”  So narrates the embattled heroine Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noir in “Chaptah Tu” of Bill Campbell’s satirical novel, Koontown Killing Kaper.
Not since Mat Johnson’s “Hunting In Harlem” has a book from this genre grabbed me from the very beginning and carried me stto the very end at such a rapid pace.

Rappers, purveyors of urban literature, and TV producers are being found murdered in gruesome fashion. Word on the streets of the besieged city of Koontown is that vampire crack babies are the perpetrators.  Former international supermodel-turned cop-turned private detective, Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noir is hired by rap impresario Hustle Beamon, to find out who’s killing off his business partners and top selling rap artists.  Together with her former Koontown Police Department partner Detective Willie O. O’Ree, Jon Vee navigates the dark, dank underbelly of Koontown; coming up against pimps, dubious record executives, secret sororities, disreputable politicians, and government conspiracies to get to the bottom of the savage murders plaguing the city, lest the crimes threaten the already fragile détente between Koontown residents and the nearby gentrified neighborhood of Toomer Way.

May 03, 2012

Coffee Buzz: Introducing, Howa.rd

Every now and again, I run into talent that incites me to chorus and prompts me to wonder why that person isn’t famous or signed to some sort of lucrative contract yet.  While building at the monthly networking event, Tastemakers Soul Hartford, I had the opportunity to see an up-and-coming singer called Howa.rd perform; and his musical prowess commanded attention.  Interest piqued, I tracked down his album “The 1st” online, and found that I’d listened to the entire playlist while working, and without feeling the urge to skip past any tracks.  The music was a stellar amalgamation of horns, drums, and bass over syncopated rhythms… and none of it skimped on soul; which made for a delectable stew.  If you appreciate the likes of D’Angelo, Eric Roberson and/or Raheem DeVaughn, then what Howa.rd is serving will definitely sate your musical palate.
Howa.rd‘s talent isn’t merely incidental however, having been born to a musician mother;  
“My mother was a music major possessing a crazy angelic soprano voice that you couldn’t help but fall in love with.  I remember as a youngster, she was a music and choir director for several churches around town. Being that my mom was a single parent with two kids, I went to a lot of choir rehearsals.  Watching and singing along, I started developing my voice.”  He recalls. “I picked up on song structures and started mimicking them at home.  Soon I developed of completely rewriting my own versions of my favorite songs.  The lyrics started there.” 
Howa.rd would later go on to college where he honed his producing skills and began writing and arranging music for choirs, bands, and stage productions. 

Born in Detroit and raised in Nashville, Howa.rd developed musical tastes that spanned the spectrum; having listened to everything from soul, gospel, folk, blues, jazz and country; to pop and rock… the latter genres, a result of watching MTV.
 “Pop and rock music quickly invaded my home on the daily… let’s not forget the mighty emergence of hip-hop. I soon realized my musical tastes were crazy vast. “
When asked if he gleaned any inspiration from current singers/songwriters, he excitedly suggested that I brace myself as he, unsurprisingly, listed the likes of Stevie [Wonder], Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Prince and D’Angelo amongst his musical inspirations… 
“I call that my Mount Rushmore, but I’m also inspired by Lenny Kravitz, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Michael McDonald, and the great Hall & Oates.” He continued.   
The list was pretty extensive if impressive, and didn't stop there. “Sorry, you asked,” he reminded me.  And indeed I did. As someone who’s equally as passionate about literary giants, I totally get it.   

And while Howa.rd’s list of musical influences is at least a mile long, he’s pretty succinct about who he hopes to be able to actually work with if presented with the opportunity…  “Give me Esperanza Spaulding, Andre 3000, The Roots, Lalah Hathaway, Mint Condition, and lastly to throw you a curveball, I’d say Daughtry.” Right on the cusp of happening if he keeps producing and writing quality music.

**(Blogger’s note: “Lowpoint”, “Whatchyoo Think About That”, and "I Want Me Back" are personal favorites).
“God made me musical. Music is my passion. I live and breathe it and I’ll be doing it until I die and see God.”
Let's hope he keeps up the momentum.
“The 1st” can be downloaded for free at vibedeck.com/howa-rd. For updates, "Like" Howa.rd’s Facebook Artist page www.facebook.com/officialhowa.rd and follow him on tumblr: howardtuniverse.tumblr.com


April 23, 2012

Building Blocks

Last night's Tastemakers Soul Hartford was an awesome and productive fete. I met some great people, gleaned and exchanged some insightful ideas.

I'm admittedly averse to "networking" in the most commonly known sense of the word and act and many such ‘schmoozy’ events. In fact I'm anti-networking. To quote noted New York City party planner and social media maven, Bevy Smith ...
 "A word about NETWORKING, a word I detest, an idea I abhor! Folks in a room targeting who they should be talking to based on position ... YUCK!"


And Bevy Smith, who highly endorses building genuine business relationships organically, should know. Her intimate "Dinner with Bevy" gatherings boast an extraordinary list of marketing types/PR types paired with celebrity notables, who'd probably never consider socializing with one another over dinner, under any other circumstances if not brought together at an intimate venue, over a delectable spread, by Bevy. And on that note, having finally attended a Tastemakers Soul- Hartford event, I'd say it was definitely about genuine building than networking, as I've come to know and detest it. People in attendance were looking to connect and possibly cultivate some collaborative projects with one another. There was nary an ego or discriminating conversationalist in sight. And that's definitely something I endorse.

There was a Soul Purpose representative onsite, with delectable products on-hand; as well as writers, singers, editors, PR types, and poets. I shared the first panel discussion with some outstanding and talented folk and we all offered up food for thought on; starting and sustaining useful connections, protecting your personal brand and the importance of business nuance and awareness. I mostly spoke about utilizing social media productively as a writer, to increase awareness and build reputation.

There was second panel called DJ 101, which was a continuation to a previous Tastemaker DJ panel. Subsequent performances included those by spoken word performance poet, Tarishi “Midnight” Shuler and singer/songwriter/producer Howa.rd (who I’ll be interviewing for a Coffee Buzz feature in the coming days).

I definitely look forward to participating and/or attending future Tastemaker Soul Hartford or (similar other) events. Tastemakers Soul Hartford take place every month at Vibz Uptown. It's definitely a welcome and much needed affair, in the HartBeat.

April 10, 2012

Tastemaking in The HartBeat...

Oh yes… time for another ubiquitous plug for this month's Tastemaker's Soul Hartford event, at Vibz Uptown. I will be a part of the panel discussion portion of the affair along with a lineup of other Connecticut notables, discussing "The Written Word". Read the the official word below... 

April is Jazz and Poetry Appreciation month and Tastemakers Soul Hartford will be hosting an event celebrating both on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 6pm. This event will be held at Vibz Uptown at 3155 Main Street, Hartford, CT. It will feature a night of panel discussions and live entertainment. The evening begins with artist Jeff Bradshaw's (Hidden Beach Records) "Bone Appetit", a new CD that will be released on April 24th. The first two panels will be a discussion featuring poets and written word artists and they include:

Kevin Harewood- Industry Executive, Edectic Ent/Yeagency, Latoya Bosworth- Founder of K.Y.D.S., & Brenda's Child, Tiff Jones- Freelance writer, Blogger and creator of  Coffee Rhetoric, Lenise "NuNuu" Smith- Publisher of S.L.A.M.M. Magazine, Bradford Howard Jr.- AllBusiness Consulting LLC, Carla Jervey- WQTQ FM, Aja Wilson- Jazz/Soul Singer, Smooth Jazz Artist-  Funkee BoyEsnavi- Soul Singer, and Hartford, CT Singer/Songwriter Janae Smith.

The third panel is a continuation of the DJ Business 101 series. Confirmed panelists are: Herman Ham- King of Clubz, Kingsley Osei- Owner of Catchin Wreck Marketing & Founder/Executive Director of Connecticut Against Violence, DJ Showtime- KISS 95.7 FM, Lamonte Hayes- BWP Marketing, Stephen Richardson- CT Music Pool, and DJ Terrible T.

Following the discussions, R&B singer Rashaan Langley; a native of New Haven and also the host of Tastemakers Soul Hartford, will perform with his band. The event will be recorded by Brian Sams of Headbanger Video, LLC and Tony Bass of City Beat MultiMedia Group.

Additional performers slated to appear are R&B Singer and Musician Heshima from Springfield, MA/NY, Dallas-based Neo-Soul Artist Nuwamba, spoken-word poet, Tarishi "Midnight" Shuler from New Haven, Singer and Hartford’s own Janae Smith, and Frank "Mr. Wonderful" Brady of New Haven.

Vendors will be on-site at the Tastemakers Soul Hartford Marketplace and food will be available for purchase by Rajun Cajun. Admission is $8 or 2/$10. Doors open at 6pm.

Tastemakers Soul Hartford has been New England's longest running networking event. Originally an exclusive function, it is now a monthly affair where independent artists are highlighted and local "tastemakers" network and support one another.

For media inquiries, contact Desiree Primus at 413-221-9857.

Related post(s): Coffee Buzz- Tastemakers Soul Hartford



March 30, 2012

Coffee Buzz: Tastemakers Soul Hartford, The Written Word


Every month, promoter and DJ of the radio show "Reflections", broadcast on 90.7 WTCC in Springfield, Massachusetts, hosts a networking event and industry showcase called Tastemakers Soul Hartford at Vibz Uptown, here in Connecticut. 
A panel of local movers and shakers convene for a panel discussion on the myriad of interesting topics and the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals, hear great live music by independent and/or up-and-coming artists, and to browse a wonderful collection of handmade wares set up by jewelry makers and other artisans. 

It just so happens that yours truly—(Who? Yes, me! ) – will be featured on an upcoming panel in the company of other talented poets, editors, industry insiders, and writers including Spoken word artist and Publisher of S.L.A.M.M. Magazine Lenise “Nu Nuu” Smith, Carla Jervey of WQTQ FM in Hartford, and Kevin Harewood—Author of "Make Your Move-A Guide to Releasing Your Music Independently" and Industry Executive for boutique agency, Yeagency, discussing “The Written Word”. 

The event happens Sunday, April 22nd, 6pm – 10:30pm at Vibz Uptown at 3155 Main Street, in Hartford. For more information, visit the Tastemakers Soul Events Page on Facebook.  Hope to see you there!

February 20, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up: More Dani Arranka!

Performance artist and Androgynie Extraordinaire, Dani Arranka is back with a new video for his song, "Smoke and Mirrors," directed by Charles Quiles and The Terrible Child-- (which features ID Discovery Channel-worthy vignettes).

 I, honestly, enjoy keeping up with Dani's latest projects and keeping abreast of his various collaborations. He's simply difficult  to ignore and is adamant about who he is and the direction he's headed as he carves out his own niche in The Big Apple by way of the Land of Steady Habits (perhaps the place that was least conducive to his art)...




Also, in an interesting mini-documentary; Dani and a collective of other creatives who've christened themselves the new, more contemporary incarnations of Andy Warhol's Factory denizens (perhaps with Dani as the Edie Sedgwick of the group, to Charles Quiles's Andy Warhol), explain how they came to find each other and gradually live as a unit in New York City. The short feature documents a day in the life of the larger-than-life group as they riff off one another, ride the pulse of NYC's nightlife, and help record Dani's upcoming album. Check it out...





**As an added bonus... check out this excerpt from Andy Warhol's 1965 experimental film-- (based on the novel A Clockwork Orange), Vinyl.



February 09, 2012

Coffee Buzz: Ice Cream Man


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! That is unless you're lactose intolerant...

One ice cream man however, is providing goods that are capable of being digested; Hartford's own Stephon "Humble" Long. Connecticut is a small state brimming with talent that spans the arts and entertainment spectrum. Stephon, a well-known rapper, has managed to carve out a niche for himself and build a loyal fan base in the process, especially with the release of his single and accompanying video (which uses Hartford-area neighborhood(s) as its backdrop) "Ice Cream Man."

Stephon, who goes by the nickname "Humble" (a moniker he received from a close friend and brother from another mother, Kiandre "Fatal" Gillespie) - first realized his talent for writing lyrics at the age of 13. With the help of friend, Delontay Gordon, he honed his craft and used what he learned to form a rap duo with Gillespie called, Black Aces. “Am I humble? At times! And at other times my arrogance may show face” Humble Lol's, in reference to his nickname. Considering he's been diligent with mastering his craft and paying his dues since the age of fifteen (working fervently for about 9 of those years), perhaps a little self-applied pat on the back on occasion, is permissible.

"I've built up my fan base by performing for open Mics and by being a part of Hartford's own Paperboyz [a collective of Hartford rappers and producers] in the early 2000's," Humble explains. And while Ice Cream Man isn't his first single and video, it does seem to be his most lauded at 29,000 YouTube views and counting.

The video, which was directed by Alonzo Beckett of NE Video Entertainment opens as a nod to Ice Cube's popular urban flick, Friday, before exploding into a thumping version of the ice cream truck song we've all familiarized ourselves with as children. The song, produced by Luis "ChaseBeats" Boria, explains the duality of Humble's role as the purveyor of tasty frozen treats for children and street treats of ... ahem... a different nature.
Humble’s talent is undeniable; "Right now I'm currently working with local producers; but every local producer I'm working with is very goal oriented!" 

When prodded about his dream-list of producers to build with if presented with the opportunity, Humble answers enthusiastically, "Ooh, that's a good question!! I would love the opportunity to work with... I'm gonna have to keep it in the family and say Corron Cole[a Connecticut born, L.A. based songwriter/producer made-good and behind the musical stylings of acts like Justin Bieber, Jesse McCartney, and Jordin Sparks]- I admire his commitment to the music industry; and as for artists I’d love to work with... I'm gonna have to say Eminem and Jay-Z!" 

Perhaps one of the most admirable aspects of Humble's burgeoning rap career, is the passion he seems to have for Hartford... a city that's at times, unfairly judged for being the underdog and is juxtaposed next to New York and Boston. The bias prompts the dearth of talent and the city's offerings go unnoticed... and so it takes naysayers by surprise. 

As he reflects on his music, Humble makes it clear that it will always dictate the mood he's in at the time. "I write from the heart!" He says, "I don't live a fairytale life... It's real. I do it for the people! I do it for my supporters… I hate to use the word fans!"

Stephon "Humble" Long will be performing live at Foxwoods Casino, March 2 at Comix Comedy Club . Ice Cream Man and other singles are available for download on iTunes.

For booking and more information, visit PB Dolla Entertainment and Humble's Facebook page.

January 26, 2012

He's Back! I Hope...

Much to many people's surprised delight, a video of singer-songwriter, D'Angelo performing in Stockholm... apparently today... surfaced and spread across the Internet, creating the equivalent of a social media fist-pump.

After the release of his second album, Voodoo in 2000 (the album that served as my soundtrack during college, and I still listen to 'til this day)- D'Angelo seemed to fall off the radar, much to everyone's disappointment. There were no interviews and no evidence of any performances or new material for a full-album or EP, beyond the collaborative projects he did with other artists... most notably,  Raphael Saadiq and Femi Kuti with Macy Gray for the remake of Fela Kuti's "Water Get No Enemy." Subsequent press found the talented artist plagued by substance abuse and legal issues. Needless to say, I'm beyond excited to see some recent progress from the singer as I'm a huge fan and hopefully this appearance in Stockholm is indicative of there being a new album on the horizon.

In the interim, check out his body of work from previous albums and peep his Stockholm performance below...




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December 09, 2011

Lose It!

Photo by Charles Quiles
I really admire anybody who is unapologetic about being who they are, especially in the name of the arts. It seems that the concept of living and letting live is increasingly becoming extinct in this current climate of bullying, homophobia, race baiting, and woman bashing. It's enough to make me want to lose it...

Like the otherworldly unicorn that he is, enter fearless performance artist, visionary, and singer/songwriter Dani Arranka. This past spring, I wrote about Dani after attending his Born Day party and music video premiere for his catchy tune, Be Like Me. Fabulous and confident about who he is, but never arrogant or ungracious, Dani's popularity was undeniable then, as I watched the packed venue lose their shit when he performed. I definitely see the appeal. There's an intangible quality about his carefully cultivated persona... The French call it a certain je ne sais quoi. Now a New York transplant, Dani Arranka is poised to take over the club scene and capture the hearts of the NYC underground with his sexy new song, Lose It.

I Google+'ed the song to a friend and she immediately fell in love, re-tweeting it on her Twitter timeline. The syncopated beat is indeed, infectious. I picture a packed club, with sweaty revelers touching themselves on the dance floor and thrusting their pelvises in slow motion when I listen to it (I have an active imagination, OK?). The behind-the-scenes promo video/photo shoot, directed by photographer Charles Quiles, shows Dani playfully frolicking with sultry Argentinean male supermodel, Alejandro Salgueiro. And it's hot. It definitely conveys the tone of the song. "Lose It is being remixed for the club scene soon!!" Dani said enthusiastically via email. "Lacorey produced the track, along with all my others!" 


I definitely look forward to hearing a remixed version of the track. In the meantime, lose your chonies listening to --> Lose It and be jealous as you peep the panty leche inducing promo video, featuring Alejandro...






December 02, 2011

Holiday Happenings In the HartBeat- (Say that three times)...


In a flash, the month of November has come and gone. Thanksgiving festivities and events are behind us here in the HartBeat and the Christmas is nigh. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the re-opening of The Bushnell Park skating rink. This year's Winterfest (presented by iQuilt) is now bigger and better, having kicked off this past November 25th. The rink (located on the east side of Bushnell Park by the Pump House) is free as are skate rentals, and is open 7-days a week, 11:00am - 9:00pm (except Christmas, when it closes at 5:00pm and New Year's Eve, when it closes at 1:00am). Winterfest runs through February 20, 2012. Visit here for more info on Winterfest events.

Also, December 8th Greater Hartford Arts Council Welcome Center will be hosting a Holiday Open House. The daylong holiday event will celebrate the Greater Hartford Welcome Center and the Let*s Go! Holiday promotion. Revelers who donate $50 to the United Arts Campaign will automatically be enrolled in the Let*s Go Arts! program, which will entitle them to 2-for-1 and discounted admission to plays, concerts, and museums with the added benefit of 10%-20% off local area restaurants, specialty classes, local services and other events. 
The holiday promotion will also enable current Let*s Go Arts! members to gift an additional membership for $25! Those who donate will also have the option of participating in a drawing for gift certificates to some of Hartford's most popular restaurants and tickets to see stage plays. 

The event takes place Thursday, December 8th, 10am-3pm; 4pm-7pm at the Greater Hartford Arts Council, 100 Pearl Street, First Floor, downtown Hartford. During the earlier part of the event, visitors can enjoy free hot cocoa, cookies, and other tasties. The evening hour’s offerings will include a reception, free light wine, and cheese. For more information, visit: www.LetsGoArts.org/HolidayLGA.

November 11, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Shakespeare in Love- Cindy Martinez's Fundraising Goal!

 I'm a huge believer in the arts... especially the Hartford arts and I love making the masses privy to the creative movers and shakers in my town. My homecity may not be the biggest and it may not be New York City (as many NYC transplants love to pompously remind us, while still partaking in our offerings), but it is home to a LOT of talent and it has a lot of hart, which is why we affectionately refer to Hartford as The HartBeat.

The Hartford arts scene is home to a diverse sub-genre of artists who thrive in the myriad of different disciplines. They include but aren't limited to; writers, poets, spoken-word performers, performance artists, hip-hop lyricists, playwrights, professional theater companies, filmmakers, producers, museums, publishers and the like. Many young people from Hartford and across Connecticut hone their respective crafts via a wide array of different program offerings including Greater Hartford Arts Council's Neighborhood Studios, Hartford Stage Young Company (where they perform an annual, contemporary production from Shakespeare's body of work), the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Niro Boutique's Niro Foundation, and HartBeat Ensemble's Youth Play Institute.

Hartford native Cindy Martinez, a Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts alum and HartBeat Ensemble cast member/Community Liaison, is looking to make her mark as an actress. Talented and driven, Cindy has starred in a number of local stage productions and independent films. Looking to sharpen her acting skills, Cindy has taken on an aggressive fundraising goal in hopes of gaining enough funds to attend professional actors training at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts (prompted to action after getting a rejection letter for a scholarship). Cindy has set a lofty fundraising deadline of November 29th for herself and has already managed to raise $2,672!

Having had the opportunity to work with Cindy during my blogging stint with HartBeat Ensemble, I can vouch for her talent and how motivated she is!
"My dream is to be on Highway 91N on December 27th!" Says Cindy. 
If you're interested in helping her reach her goal of $4,000, click her PayPal account to donate! More importantly, peep her appeal in this video...






October 25, 2011

These and Those: Coffee Rhetoric Makes DIY Eye-makeup Remover

Sometimes when I get home from doing whatever... I get easily distracted. I immediately delve into the  the drama free (not really) lives of the Basketball Real Housewives of Anyplace I'd Rather Not Be, U.S.A. and then will start texting, browsing my Twitter timeline, or b.s.ing on Google+ (Facebook is slowly becoming a moot point to me, so I don't invest much time over there). Before you know it, my eyelids start getting heavy and I've only managed to change into my ratty, not-really pajamas clothes I sleep in. My mind tells me to get up and wash the makeup and day's elements from my face, but my body doesn't really register that command. I take a pre-sleep nap, telling myself I'll wash off my eye makeup and drag when I go to bed FOR REAL! Before you know it, it's morning... And I've woken up with my eyelashes clumped with day-old mascara and eyeliner smudged around my eyes. Wiping it off presents more of a challenge as there still tends to be residual eye makeup... even AFTER I've thoroughly cleansed my face.

Alas I've come across an easy and brilliant recipe via a YouTuber who goes by the name, SheSingsLovely, for a gentle eye makeup remover (that can also double as a toner for your face)...

In a plastic squeeze bottle (which can be purchased at any beauty supply store for about 99 cents), mix about 3 parts Witch Hazel (can be found at CVS or some other drugstore), and 2 parts olive, grapeseed, almond, or Jojoba oil. I used olive oil. Cap the bottle, shake the mixture, and use! It worked great and it's very gentle on the eyes... it didn't sting at all! My day old eye makeup came right off sans incident or residual leftover. And have I mentioned how absolutely EASY it is to make?

October 20, 2011

Secret History of the Black Pin Up: From Tease to Sleaze

I recently wrote two blog posts regarding the lack of information on Black pin up or adult models from the 1950's here and here.

In response, a collector, historian and independent publisher named Jim Linderman contacted me and divulged that he'd written and self-published a book (laden with images) outlining the lives and experiences of Black pin up and porn models. 

He had amassed an impressive collection of vintage adult periodicals and pictures showing Black women in various stages of undress and poses. and included some rare finds in his paperback Secret History of the Black Pin Up, which is 118 pages and includes some brief, but  interesting, history with the visuals. 
"There is a whole generation of young women who idolize Bettie Page and such, but they have no idea how UN-glamorous it was for her and the others. I wanted to show some of that, as well as make some points about racism of course." Linderman said in an email exchange

October 06, 2011

Coffee Buzz: See You BACK on the Flipside!


This past spring, I had the rare pleasure of being invited to document the behind-the-scenes drama that went into building a main-stage play.  Hartford, CT based Theater Company; HartBeat Ensemble extended an opportunity to me to blog their experiences finally bringing their play, Flipside to fruition in its entirety. For about 6 months, the creative undertaking allowed me to be able to tell a "day job" to kick rocks and I got to see what truly makes actors tick; Their methods, their frustrations, their elation when they have a nervous breakthrough... It was like reality television, but with more substance, minus the physical altercations, minimal wig-snatching, and without any dubious, "piecey" editing. Here's the in-depth skinny on Flipside (insert flashback music here)...

Working in tandem with a local filmmaker and video producer named Helder Mira, we caught the Flipside actors and director during some of their most vulnerable moments, as they worked tirelessly to bring their play to bigger main stage, in Hartford, CT. We also saw them take a donated space in the renovated, LEED certified, multipurpose commercial space, The Hollander Building, and make it their own; building a stage, painting, and putting their personal touches on it, turning it into an intimate performing space that would later be used to host fundraising shindigs, jazz concerts, and poetry showcases.  
Sitting in that performance space during rehearsal proved to be some of the coldest days I ever endured. It was in the middle of one of the most horrific winters of my adult life, here in the northeast. However,  it registers as one of my most memorable collaborations to date and I enjoyed it; Cold, dour, and ugly. 
Needless to say, Flipside had a successful spring-summer run. Audiences appreciated its take on the War on Drugs and its effect on the surrounding communities.  

Flipside is based on actual interviews with two real people, and tells the story of a friendship between a Hartford teen named Bo and an undercover narcotics agent named Nick. The show combines original music and spoken-word poetry throughout the play’s narrative on drug use and trafficking in neighborhoods.  Audiences agree that Flipside relays a compelling discourse on the War on Drugs and is interspersed with a little humor and very catchy musical numbers…

Directed by Co-Founding Artistic Director, Greg Tate, Flipside involved two years worth of painstaking research and subsequent workshops in partnership with Central Connecticut State University’s Center for Regional and Municipal Policy, Portland Oregon’s Sojourn Theater and Manchester Community College; HartBeat has lead open dialogues and over 40 individual interviews on the subject in order to create the play.
“We found that no matter what a person believes about drug use and selling, they tend to be very passionate about their feelings on the matter.” says Tate, “Of course that makes for great theater.  It’s tricky, and very fun stuff.”
(Queue back to the present) ...

Now, back by overwhelming demand, Flipside will be making a limited run this October 13th-29th at The Hollander Building in downtown Hartford at 410 Asylum Street! Show times begin at 7:30 pm and will run every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tickets are $20 with a discounted price of $15 for all students, seniors, and Let's Go Arts! members. Call 860.548.9144 or visit http://hartbeatensemble.org to purchase tickets. 
 
HartBeat Ensemble recently had a raucously good time celebrating at the Mark Twain House and Museum, in commemoration of their 10 year anniversary. For the past ten years, HartBeat Ensemble has been creating original, professional theater based on stories from the Hartford community. Through Main-stage plays, Open-Air performances and Education programs, HartBeat makes theater accessible beyond the barriers of class, race or gender.
Since it’s founding in 2001, HartBeat has created six full-length original plays. HartBeat’s flagship education program, the Youth Play Institute, works in partnership with five different school districts to bring urban and suburban youth together for intensive month-long play building residencies in which they create and perform original one-act plays. HartBeat also conducts bullying prevention programs in schools called “Startin’ Drama.”


Check out HartBeat Ensemble's behind-the-scenes, Flipside documentary series 
Also, read my behind-the-scenes guest blog posts





September 04, 2011

Dream Chasers Unite


Dream chasing... a stirring, albeit it daunting, idea to conquer. There are very few of us who actually enjoy going to work everyday in an environment conducive to what we dream of doing. So many of us mull over endeavors we feel we can't accomplish or shadow box against obstacles when we hit the ground running tackling our goals... myself included. It's not uncommon to reach an impasse and not know how else to proceed or how to even begin... Enter Abdul-Rahmaan I. Muhammad (who often performs spoken-word poetry under the moniker, MIRA w/ his partner-in-poetry, Mind Evolution). 
Muhammad... a self-professed Dream Motivator, is on a mission to spread his Dream Chasers Movement, determined to empower people and encourage them toward their goals. Muhammad himself fulfilled quite a bit on his list of accomplishments; including skydiving, mountain climbing, and trekking around Africa and China, among other things. His list is growing and while he continues to check off his to-do list with gusto, he's also determined to prompt the masses to conquer their dreams via motivational speaking and an actual Dream Chasers kit, which I was lucky enough to get my hands on the other day! The kit contains brainstorming essentials to help impel anyone forward... It includes a t-shirt with the Never Stop Dreaming logo (to help remind Dream Chasers that they're in it to win), a workbook (a comprehensive tool that encourages readers to brainstorm, journal thoughts or ideas, and to chart their progress), and a CD: Dream Chasing Volume 1 (a rousing, 17-track motivational CD, chock-full of helpful suggestions to keep folks on the path towards success). The kit is $19.99 and is well worth it! 
In addition to being a motivational speaker and heading the Dream Chaser Movement, Abdul-Rahmaan Muhammad is also the Executive Director of My People Clinical Services (founded in 2005) which is emphatic with its message: "To enable My People to help Your People so that Our people will Succeed." Doesn't get anymore driven than that. I'm not a person who listens to or even subscribes to self-help books or motivational CD's, but I definitely enjoyed listening to all 17-tracks on Volume 1 of  the Dream Chasing CD.  None of it is cliched. Having had several opportunities  to build with Abdul and see him perform as MIRA, I'd say he's definitely well-equipped to be at the helm of this movement and I encourage anyone to hop aboard his Never Stop Dreaming bandwagon, because in this current climate we're struggling to navigate, it's easy for people to become discouraged in the wake of rampant unemployment, questionable leadership, travail, and financial uncertainty... These times call for some much needed motivating. 
Visit Never Stop Dreaming's Official Website for more information on the Dream Chasers Movement, T-shirts, CD's, and workbooks.
Watch Abdul on the Stan Simpson show!




July 29, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Jendayi "Makingyoulaff" Covington For the Win!

Jendayi w/ Sherri Shepherd
I recently had the opportunity to speak with up-and-coming comedienne and Hartford native, Jendayi Covington, who was fresh from and excited over her official (make or break) debut at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, where she’d just graduated. Jendayi, who was always keen at making people laugh was prodded into taking the class after a friend (with the help of a Groupon), paid for her to take a course at Gotham... 
“I didn’t really take it seriously when she bought me the course and I also don’t really know my way around New York… I’m not familiar with it. It took me three months to take the course.” Jendayi explained. “Once I decided to call and take the course, I started commuting from Connecticut to New York every week.”
Reluctant at first, Jendayi decided to ease on down the road towards becoming a successful comedienne. It just happened that on her first day, instructor and prolific comedy writer and comedienne in her own right,  Karen Bergreen was out sick. Jendayi hit a wall in the form of a dour substitute instructor who probably had been heckled to death during their attempts at stand-up. Jendayi had entered her first day of class with a routine she hadw ritten on scraps of paper- (still unfamiliar with the standard format for comedy writing) - and stood up to present her set, in hopes of receiving constructive criticism. Instead, Substoot Teecher and possible dream killer, bitingly told Jedayi how terrible her material was, causing her to become conflicted over whether she should return to Gotham or not. 
Having reached an impasse, Jendayi sent an impassioned email to Karen Bergreen, expressing the apprehension the first class had caused her... 
“After Karen responded, I felt so much better!” Jendayi said. “She told me not to flood my mind watching other comedians… to be myself, because all comedians are not the same. That they’re telling stories about their lives. After that email discussion, my faith and passion was restored, because I LOVE to write. That first class and other people’s critiques were giving me writer’s block and I was nervous and in tears, I was so overwhelmed.” 
Determined but still unsure how to redeem herself, Jendayi (who's also a hairstylist) - marched into her next class at Gotham, having decided to perform the very same set that was initially shot down by the Substoot, for Karen Bergreen. 
“I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS!” Bergreen reportedly exclaimed. “Don’t change a thing!”
Jendayi w/ the incomparable Paul Mooney!
Jendayi performed at her class’s graduation at Gotham Comedy Club. With encouragement from her husband to be herself and to “mentally shut down the noise from critics." Jendayi also recalled her class with fondness and a hint of WTF voice, when relaying some of the material her classmates had presented in class... 
"Comedy comes with a certain maturity level... You have to have a thick skin and be a great writer and comedy class has a lot of freedom, of speech, so some people were just saying some random, crazy stuff... making inappropriate comments about natural catastrophes and saying things about other races... you gotta understand timing and flow. You either have it or don't." 
She invited all of her family and friends to make the trip to see her perform during graduation, chartering a bus just  six days prior, selling out seats to family, friends, and her supporters, who rolled deep to her graduation and subsequent performance. Her set elicited major kudos from Gotham Comedy Club producer, Andy Engel... who was floored by Jendayi’s routine and spoke highly of her to The View co-host and comedienne Sherri Shepherd, who she later networked with ... 
“The feedback was tremendous! I got a standing ovation that night! Not just from my supporters who came out to see me… but from the whole audience! Andy, who doesn’t co-sign someone’s unless they’re really good, gave me a hug at the end and so did Karen. It was awesome! I got introduced to Sherri Shepherd as the best student and I got to network with her… it was… just so cool.” Jendayi recalled, seemingly still overcome by the experience. 
“My Facebook wall was filled with feedback from other comedians. DJ Big Man (from Hot 93.7) shouted me out on the radio the next morning and my phone was ringing off the hook. Promoters were calling me… People were Facebook messaging me, offering to be my manager... it was crazy!” she recalled. 
Well-schooled and full of undeniably raw talent, Jendayi is definitely equipped with all the right tools to keep people in stitches. Don't sleep on her... 
Check her out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jendayi.scott


July 24, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Bracelets and Booze

Last night, I had the opportunity to build with some friends and drink copious amounts of wine and delicious mixed drinks with chaste lewd names. All in all, it was an evening not unlike your standard bible study... except there was freak dancing, prompted along by said wine and spirits.
A hilarious and lovely woman by the name of Riqui regaled us with anecdotes involving sex, thugs, and rock and roll... She also laid out an awesome display of handmade, bracelets and earrings strung with wooden and glass beads ranging a very reasonable $7 - $10! 
We were all sold. And forked over our dollar bills. Riqui's bracelets come in a wide variety of color combinations and accessorize quite nicely. She's also mindful of special requests, has made beaded anklets, and will eventually add necklaces and larger, fabric earrings and hoops to her arsenal of cool accessories. Her website is currently still under construction, so please feel free to express any inquiries in the comments section, as I think they'd make great gifts for loved ones, friends, and family. Speaking of the comments section ...
Riqui was gracious enough- (with much begging and prodding by the Committee of Me, Myself, & I) - to donate this earrings and bracelet set made with amber, coral, and Tiffany-blue glass beads for Coffee Rhetoric's VERY FIRST giveaway! An exciting feat for me since Zaahir created the Coffee Rhetoric discount for his company, Exotic Fragrance, to much fanfare. Any chance I get to be able to engage these sorts of fun, promotional opportunities, is an exciting venture and is done with genuine love for the product and admiration for the person at the helm of it. 
Leave a witty response with your email address, in the comments section of this post for the opportunity to win it! I will randomly choose a name on August 1st and contact the winner via email, as well as announce them on Coffee Rhetoric. 
Take advantage because I begged Riqui to GIVE me the bracelet and earrings free of charge before she was gripped and incapacitated by drunken revelry, to GIVE TO YOU, because I think she is talented and that folks would truly enjoy her beaded trinkets. I'm wearing two of her pieces as I type this. Anyway, get into it... 

Up for Grabs!