Monday, June 30, 2008
-The American Girls (screen shot from http://www.americangirl.com/agcn/index.html)
As old as I am, I should not be this excited for the first theatrical release of an American Girl story. Even though I have no idea who this new Kit girl is, I always loved American Girl. As presents when I was little I received the purple and black modern American Girl Varsity Bomber jacket that I rocked hard with my red,green, yellow and blue plaid uniform as well as the starter set of Addy books. At the library I read through all the books in each series, gaining knowledge about American history as I went. I also collected American Girl trading cards and I still have some sitting on my bookshelf at home along with my Hello Kitty and Spice Girls paraphernalia. My favorite characters were Samantha, the posh Victorian who was friends with dirty and poor Nellie; Molly with her 40s charm that prompted me to ask my mother if I could pin curl my hair; and of course Addy, the fearless freed slave girl who came to New York and longed for her family to be reunited. Unfortunately I did not connect with Kirsten as much and Felicity was a bit too history book American for me. I got lost after they brought out Josefina, but was happy that they kept doing different eras and slowly added more diversity to the historical sisterhood. I'm still waiting for the Civil Rights Era doll, but I won't hold my breath.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times, describes the film and its importance in this New York Times Article and he does hit on some solid points about the film industry and target audiences. We've seen it with Tyler Perry and the continued success of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's pre-NYU empire and all the Disney Channel productions (Lizzie McGuire, Cheetah Girls, High School Musical, That's So Raven, Hannah Montana). Even a Barbie theatrical production a few years ago prompted signs of joy and relief that girls could still partake in the idealism. Even more relief was prompted when Disney announced it would make another cartoon fairy tale, and this time starring Maddy, the black princess from NOLA.* There is an audience that needs films like this and in the hypersexualized culture that we live in, the innocence of being an American girl is something to be desired. Sure we know its not all sugar and spice and everything nice. Life is something more like that's portrayed in crazy movies like KIDS or Thirteen, but people do still want a bit of the fantasy, the escape, and the idealism. NOT a crazy essentialized idealism, but something that's not on the wild and crazy end of the spectrum and not on the Disney Channel. It also can't hurt to have a nice little Depression Era story in this crazy recession.
Of course this is not an end all be all. Coming out of the American Girl franchise its still steeped in ideas of consumerism and promoting good little shoppers and brand loyalty out of American girls who will see the film, dolls in hand and probably dressed in some of the costumes from the catalog. Proper gender roles will still be inscribed and who knows what Abigail Breslin may do in a few years. But still, it has to be better than when my sister was forced to take me to the Spice Girls movie after Saturday School at the old Flatbush Pavillion on Flatbush and 7th Avenue in Brooklyn and my friends and I bought Spice Girls lollipops everyday to get the free stickers that I collected. For that, I apologize Shirley.
Celebrate all it means being a girl:
*Really Random: Ever noticed how these modern ethnic minority fairy tales are all localized: Mulan was Chinese in China, Pocahantas was Native American in emerging colonial America, and now this black girl is from the South. Understandably Jasmine was from the Middle East, that was based on the Arabian Nights stories. I also do understand why these characters need locations to make their stories work, but I still find it interesting. I wonder if the Grimm Brothers gave locations to Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
This is perhaps the classiest comeback. As reported by Spinner, Jay -Z simply acquiesed to Gallagher, performing classic Oasis song, "Wonderwall" at the show as part of his set.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The Associated Press (via the NY Times) has reported that 4 black 14 year-olds have been arrested for throwing rocks and yelling racial epithets at a Jewish school bus full of toddlers (See article here). As we've seen both here and here, things have not been shaping up so nicely this summer.
Unfortunately the neighborhood will continue to live under the cloud of the 1991 deaths and riot. Although the storm may have come and gone, apparently there are still showers of racial discord that still have not been properly addressed.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
So it is unlikely that this awesome concierge position will actually be my future. (I have no real future career). But it does remind you of that special time in elementary school when this question is first asked and wide eyed optimistic children respond with the careers that society seems to be based around. You then have a classroom full of doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, U.S. presidents and hair stylists. However as you get older reality starts to set in, as well as likes, dislikes and your parents desires change those goals and more diverse careers emerge like lawyers,journalists, fashion models, actors, and artists.
At some point when you start college you learn what an investment banker is and that there are these organizations called consulting firms and hedge funds. (Some kids know what they are growing up, but I'm not talking about those privileged ones.) Once again career ideals change and people who once wanted to be a doctor or teacher see the lure of business and venture there. But is there anything inherently wrong with that?(Full disclaimer: I went to the dinners, decided Boston Consulting Group was the only firm I liked, started my cover letter and then remembered I did not really want to do that so never applied.)
The New York Times visits the issue this week in a piece entitled "Big Paychecks or Service." The author discusses the pull on students who once had other goals to enter business fields where they can make loads of money. Usually its a base salary around 60-70 thousand and then tens of thousands of dollars added on in bonuses-serious cash for a 21-23 year old to make on their first job, and a salary that most people in other career fields,say primary education or journalism, spend their careers attempting to earn.
The article does address a huge issue in that many people do lose sight of their larger goals in life chasing money at a young age. I have also seen the torture it wreaks on students in the process. There are countless interviews and math evaluations. You fly around the country so that different offices can determine their approval in the midst of working on your thesis, carrying a full course load, and you are still expected to participate in student life. Students take the leap from "I came here to go back and better my community" to "I came here and want some money so I can ascribe to the lifestyle in front of me, the community will figure it out eventually."But it also ignores the fact that many people also choose this path for other reasons. For one, some people actually have families that need financial assistance and this is perhaps the best way out at the moment. People also have plans for their lives post banking. This often serves as the launchpad for one's own business ideas. Many do go back to working towards their goal and this was simply a fun or necessary financial detour along the way. Similarly, just like young people that go about their grand tour post college, this banking lifestyle is a great way to travel and live in other cities essentially on your jobs dime.
Also there are tons of students that just don't have a clue as to what they are doing post graduation. They flit and flutter around during the summer and find a job that often is not in hard core business. Others do go for further education bettering themselves and building more debt in the process. And still several do reach their original goals simply taking detours along the way. It's not a dichotomy of "we help people" vs. "we help ourselves." Often it's more of a mix and I have heard of quite the fair share of students doing teaching programs just to get the free education masters whether or not they will ever actually use it. Even more, there are some people that actually enjoy the idea of investment banking and consulting and hedge funds and all that business jazz. They love quantitative evaluations
This long ramble was just to say that I found the New York Times article biased. Within the limits of the line or word count I am certain there was a way to take into consideration the other side of the story and not simply paint a wide brush over the students that pick a different route. Maybe colleges should enact more loan forgiveness programs like the ones available at several law schools. Perhaps that would help in the battle.
Sidenote: I did like the point about schools homogenizing their students. While not necessarily in the case of careers, there is a point there.
Monday, June 23, 2008
There was also that random Style article about chipped nail polish that discussed how it was now acceptable to have chipped nails. I convened with friends again. We decided it wasn't and that the article was silly. But then again, London girls think black tights or stocking with holes in the summer is acceptable, so I just may be old fashioned like that.
This past weekend we were graced with Bill Cunningham's "On the Street|Cinhed" audio visual feature. Check it out here.
Now I'm just concerned about my hometown paper.
Things I wonder:
1. Where did they find so many shirtless guys? Sure people go shirtless on their block, and NYC did just have a heatwave, but those dudes were passing a Zara making it one of 4 or 5 locations(that I can think of), and the shirtless is just not that normal. It had to all be at the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
2. Really NY Times? One, this is not new. As Mr. Cunningham pointed out, guys have been wearing baggy jeans for quite some time now. Contrary to popular belief, they often did wear belts with them. There had to be away for the jeans not to completely fall off. Also, I've seen this ridiculousness in Brooklyn for quite some time from baggy to fitted jeans. Top Shottas are Top Shottas everywhere.
3. I'm a fan of relating history to everything. After all I was a history concentrator. The depression connection was a little weak. I'm somewhat doubting that super low rise jeans will come in fashion for men as a way of rationing fabric. It's supposedly going out for women though, so who knows. That along with the graffiti connection and the relevance to hip hop culture should have been developed more. Really, my history tf would have graded you worse than they graded me.
4. White kids do live in the city, not just Long Island, Westchester and the UES (which may as well not be the city). They also adapt to and contribute to these fashion musings. But they are not top shottas. Sorry.
Gawker agrees this is ridiculous.
Hey, New York Times. See how I knew this was all bogus. I could be a real help. Hire me!
Friday, June 20, 2008
It's pretty clear that I think your wife is fabu. And well, yea I want you to win: not only so Michelle can be a great first lady; not only because I want to have a self identifying black president;not only because supporting you is cool and trendy; and not only because I swoon every time I see your great dance skills on Ellen but because I like your politics. Yes We Can (use your healthcare plan to deal with this swelling on top of my foot since the stupid British NHS won't pay for a podiatrist and my job is withholding a week of pay).
But Barack, I have a bone to pick. Really could we not include one other recognizable racial minority in your first national commercial? I'm sure there are some ethnically ambiguous folks or maybe they're hidden in the black and white shots, but lets be real...I know you have a photo with a minority. I'll let the whole hijab wearing ladies thing slide. YES WE CAN!
Dear Robert Kelly,
You're a perv. We all knew something was up with your songs. We also knew something was up when the Aaliyah wedding rumors came about while "Age Aint Nothing But A Number" was still blaring on the radio. I also don't doubt the possibilities that the girl was a fast little girl, but regard yourself a lucky man. Please go repent and make another of your gospel songs...you're too talented to waste after you received this break.
But I wonder do you think you got better treatment because you were a celebrity? Do you think the media coverage was different because it was a little black girl and not a little white girl?
I'm not passing judgment because we Christians aren't supposed to do that. I'm just saying you're a pervert because you are.
Dear Vogue Italia,
I anxiously await next Thursday. But did Naomi need the cover? She's crazy and not in the self obsessed Tyra way! But I guess that sells.
Dear View Ladies,
Loved the Michelle episode.
Barbara please stop the old lady madness. No one wants to know whose families you destroyed of that Alan Greenspan has hooked up with any one, much less you.Also I have the feeling bare isn't so great on you. Please wear panty hose.
Sherri, I wonder about you. Are all the screws alright? Eh, watev you're fun. I so feel you on the sleeveless thing
Joy...you must be the fun aunt. I'm certain of it.
Elizabeth continue being yourself.
Whoopi, I | you. I'm not sure what it means, but you're cool and keep it all the way real. Thanks for helping out Michelle on the show. Also your comment about dark skin black women, on point. Rock ON!.
But can we please stop calling it a fist bump: its a pound/dap and Michelle you know you knew it before the young folk on the campaign. Even today's issue of The Guardian has a photo spread dedicated to old people doing it.
We need to chat. cough*Dissertation*cough*laundry*cough.
Right now, Fox News is trying to paint Barack Obama as foreign, un-American, suspicious, and scary. They're trying to send Americans the message that our country's first viable Black candidate for President is not "one of us."
I've joined on to ColorOfChange.org's campaign to push back on Fox, publicly demanding they stop their race-baiting and fear mongering. If that doesn't work, then we'll go to their advertisers and the FCC. I wanted to invite you to sign on as well. It takes only a moment:
Here's what happened recently:
After Senator Obama won the nomination, he and his wife gave each other a "pound" in front of the cameras. Fox anchor E.D. Hill called the act of celebration a "terrorist fist jab." Then last week, a Fox News on-screen graphic referred to Michelle Obama as "Obama's baby mama"--slang used to describe the unmarried mother of a man's child. It was a clear attempt to associate the Obamas with negative cultural stereotypes about Black people, an insult not only to Michelle Obama but to women and Black people everywhere.
After each of the incidents mentioned, Fox issued some form of weak apology. But what does it mean when you slap someone in the face, apologize the next day, then slap them again on the third? It means the apology is meaningless.
These aren't one-time incidents--they're part of a pattern that continues no matter how often Fox is forced to apologize. Fox has a clear record of attacking and undermining Black institutions, Black leaders, and Black people in general.
If we don't push back now, we will see more of the same from now until November. Please join me in helping to bring an end to Fox's behavior.
So I bring to you Vanity Fair's coverage of the book/blog, Stuff White People Like. Please read and laugh at this coverage of Coldplay, just the type of band that brings about discussion like this and also the fact that it is the poorer whites who really know what's up. That could mean a myriad of things, but I'll just continue to laugh at the notion that your approval or disapproval of Chris Martin can somehow determine your race. I feel like a lot of people are missing the satirical nature of this, which I guess could be an issue.
Unless of course the guy isn't trying to be funny when he says this is a scientific approach. Then I say we all go read Bruce Dain's A Hideous Monster of the Mind and cry.
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* | Music
Stuff White People Like: Coldplay
by Vanity Fair
June 16, 2008, 8:11 PM
ColdplayOn July 1, 2008, Random House will publish Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, based on the insanely popular blog of the same name. In a remarkable coincidence, June 17, 2008, is the release date of Coldplay’s new album, Viva La Vida. VF.com asked Christian Lander—author of the blog and the new book—to deconstruct the band’s white fan base.
It is easy to think that all white people love Coldplay. However, if you assume this you will miss a great opportunity to dig beneath the surface of white people and learn how to really get inside their heads. By understanding a white person’s feelings toward the band, you can evaluate, recognize, and eventually exploit the type of white person you are dealing with.
White people who list Coldplay as their favorite band are what we will call “basic” level white. Chances are that they discovered the band a few years ago and have attended at least one concert. Their knowledge of music is very limited, and there is a 100 percent chance that they also like U2. If you need to befriend one of these people, just tell them that X&Y helped you get through a difficult breakup. They will understand.
If you mention the band to a white person and that white person rolls their eyes, you are likely dealing with a “standard” level white person. The way to know for sure is to say, “I consider the band to be a guilty pleasure.” A favorable reaction indicates that your white person is indeed standard level. For the most part, these people are either former fans (“I liked Parachutes when it came out”) or very reluctant fans (“Yeah, I guess ‘The Scientist’ is a good song”). Though they may appear more standoffish than basic level white people, they are far easier to manipulate once you know their secret.
Due to its big, sweeping sound, Coldplay’s music is perfect for montages about relationships in television and film. Because of this, many white people have listened to a Coldplay song on their iPod while looking out the window of an airplane or car, imagining that they are acting out a scene from a movie about their life. It is their secret shame and it is strongly recommended that you never bring it up with them. Instead you should direct the conversation to white hero Gwyneth Paltrow and her choice of baby names. This is guaranteed to put a white person in a good mood.
It is important to be aware that an affinity for Coldplay can cause an immediate loss of respect among “advanced” level white people. The best way to earn the trust of these people is to say “Coldplay is this generation’s U2.” (Note: this is an insult.) Advanced level white people are often the poorest white people in terms of money but the richest in terms of credibility and respect.
Knowing how to use Coldplay to your advantage will be one of your main assets as you climb the white social ladder.
Photograph by Stephan Craneanscki.
But does that last truth mean ergo: that she had to stress education and being well dressed. As a friend pointed out in an email may non-white Gentiles also stress the same values. Something about the juxtaposition of that text and his picture made a little critical discourse analysis bell go off in my head. Form your own conclusions, but the fact that this was brought up seems slightly odd to me (hence the italics) and yes I do recognize that I have no idea what the edited version looks like.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Taken from New York Magazine, written by Emma Rosenblum: http://nymag.com/fashion/lookbook/47811/
What does a personal concierge do?
A lot of people have money, but they don’t have time to do anything for themselves. So I’m starting a small company to walk their dogs, pay their cable bills, go to the DMV to take care of parking tickets, pick up their dry cleaning, arrange restaurant reservations.
How did you get into the field?
I used to be the head maître d’ at Tabla, so I’ve been in hospitality for years.
What makes a good maître d’?
It helps that I speak a few different languages: French, German, Japanese, Latin. I just have one of those brains. I have an IQ of 146, and I memorize everything, literally.
Wow. Do you have a photographic memory?
Not just that. From distances, I can recognize voices, and I know people’s shapes—even if I don’t see someone’s face, I know exactly who they are. It’s kind of freaky.
That must be useful for your job.
I once memorized area codes of all the states and counties, so I could know where my guests were from: 602, Arizona; 214, Texas; 954, Fort Lauderdale; and so forth.
What’s with the blazer? It’s hot out!
I was brought up by my great-aunt, who was an old white Jewish woman. She stressed education, being well dressed, and respecting everyone. I want to look good no matter what. I roll out of bed, I want to look good. I go to the deli, I want to look good.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
See, I told you that NIKE tag would come in handy. Just didnt know it would be so soon.
EDIT: Lets also peep Ciara's Ankle Bag. I think its Chanel. Really Tho?
Today's clip is in homage of Bo Diddley, the jazz great who passed away on July 2. (NY Times Article here) And, since AOL Black Voices keeps reminding me that June is Black Music Month, its is fitting. Quite arguably without Bo, we Mickey Factz would not be "Rocking and Rolling with the Cool Kids," we would not "Party like a Rockstar," and I would not be Seeing Sounds at the end of the week because Rock and Roll owes a major debt to the work of Mr. Diddley and several other black musicians from his time period.
Also, Bo Diddley and Bo Jackson in Bo knows commercial(because I can't portray my youth):
Also introducing the NIKE tag, because its so relevant to U.S. Arts.Culture. and Entertainment.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Of course there are my requisite A Different World references (of which I probably won't be able to find an online clip). But for me three guest star episodes stand out. One of them is of course the En Vogue episode where the talented girl group are incorporated into the script as Mr. Vernon Gaines's nieces that Ron then uses in his night club performance. Then there is the Gladys, Gladys Knight episode. Whatever happened to the opera singer, she could blow? The third is when Kriss Kross performed in yet another classic episode concerning youth violence following on the give back to your community theme propagated by Sinbad's community center. The episode name is "Original Teacher" and yes at one point in my life I considered wearing my clothing backwards "because inside out is wiggedy wiggedy wiggedy wack."
Fresh Prince also had its share of stars even though they didn't always sing. It also is the number one example of lets ignore my career outside of this show. So besides for the fact that it starred Will Smith, Jazzy Jeff and little MJ #1 Alfonso Ribiero, the show produced by Quincy Jones also brought in a few characters. Who can forget the episode where Tevin Campbell comes and sings for Ashley Banks' birthday. She swoons, faints and then ended up in half of his videos afterwards. Then good ol' Philly boy Will of course knows all of Boyz II Men because everyone in Philly knows each other. Vanessa Williams was also on an episode. She mentioned Saving the Best for Last and gave birth to a baby. There was no singing. Sadness. Of course Tatyana Ali's singing career began on the show as well. Sigh, that boy was playing with her mind.
Then there was Family Matters. The place for relatively unknown stars to go and remain relatively unknown. Besides for their constant references to current musicians like Bobby Brown and their 10 second rendition of My Perogrative (which made the show relevant then, but super dated now), I remember two distinct performances. One was by Seal and another was by Portrait. The Seal episode deserves its own, My Favorite Scenes reference: the I'm a teenager sneaking out to a really cool club/music performance even though my parents already told me no. The Portrait episode is also a recurring theme: performance at a school concert. We also can't forget the many times that Eddie Winslow and Aunt Rachel (of Tony and Dawn fame) got an opportunity to sang and Urkel did something like singing and Carl and his friends did a rendition of old jammy jams (it was his h.s. reunion episode that taught me the intricacies of the Mash Potato). There was also that time that Shanice and Eddie had something strange ocurring. So that brings the count up to three. Should also be pointed out that little Ricky was a scary miniature little MJ and I think probably looks just as creepy now.
Sister Sister, with its bevy of shows dedicated to Roger, Tia and Tamera's singing abilities also had its fair share of singing guests. Of these three stand out in my mind. The Brian McKnight Episode, where Tia develops a crush on him as he plays her teaching assistant. Maybe not as much singing as it was playing his song in the background. Tia and Tamera, always open about their faith, also did an episode using Kirk Franklin. Of course they were in the choir, but we can't blame them. There's also another favorite scene reference that emerged with the prevalence of 90s stars having dual careers: the let's forget I have a job outside of the show. Roger, also known as Marques Houston, f.k.a. Batman of Immature/IMX fame outside of the show performs on the show as part of his teenage boy band group. The girls swoon. No one admits that Roger and Batman look exactly the same. It also serves to note that this was probably one of the few jobs that Kid could get post House Party (also serves to note that Immature was in the last installment of House Party ..the black 90s is all one big 6 degrees, which yes starred Will Smith). Sister Sister also took both sides of the rap game showcasing some man that disrespected women in one early episode and then the Goodie Mob/Cee-Lo in another episode. They also went to Freak-nik...not what you generally think of your wholesome teen show.
Following his older sisters, Tahj Mowry also had his own vehicle: Smart Guy. While this show had its fill of never to be realized potential (Omar Gooding, Essence Atkins, Tahj Mowry, and Jason Weaver) it also had its singing moments. How could you not let little MJ (Jason Weaver was in The Jackson Five movie as little MJ) sing? There's also the Destiny's Child episode where they do their rendition of Amazing Grace and Beyonce explains to Marcus (Jason Weaver) that she spent Thanksgiving in a airport eating a turkey sandwich. I failed to shed crocodile tears.
A DIFFERENT WORLD
(Go here for full episode: http://youtube.com/watch?v=oYW5f6JVSrY)
I didnt reference this one of The Boys, but since I can't find Kriss Kross I'll supplement.
And I can't find the Seal episode, so here's New Edition. I think they had a love affair with the group and its fall out:
and the Tracy Spencer Episode:
Tatiana Ali in TC vid
So yes, this episode of My Favorite Scenes is far from over. There will be plenty more, including more My Favorite Scenes cross references. We haven't even gotten to Queen Latifah/Khadijah and Living Single of the horrible nature of Joey Lawrence and Blossom yet or Moesha. How could we be done?
And now for some more six degrees: Thelma Hopkins (Aunt Rachel) of Family Matters would later play Essence Atkin's father's baby mama on Half and Half. The new (and wacker) Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince is married to Ray from Sister, Sister in Real Life. Of course Tia, Tamera, and Tajh have all starred on each others shows, and were all on Full House. About half of these people are going to be in the greatest resurrection of the black 90s sitcom in soem movie about stepping that I swear me and my friend dreamed up back when drumline came out. If only we wrote a script.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
....when black people did this, Fred Hampton ended up dead. Let's just hope our friend Al doesn't stir anything up. Because while I, like Spike, am confident in black folk's ability to act rationally, I do not have the same confidence in Al.
People we do not need another long and hot summer to teach us to Do the Right Thing.
Somewhere Sammy is reminding us we can all get along
(p.s. there will always be more Spike loving..I'm doing my dissertation on whiteness in black films. You know he is all up in there)