Thursday, May 13, 2021

Long Time, No Blog - Time to Wake up and Smell the KAHAWA 1893 Coffee


It has been far too long since I retreated to my little corner of the blogosphere.  I will be honest.  Pandemic life has not been easy for me.  It's hard to focus and I just have been in a holding pattern.

But, today's the day.  I'm back!

Good news.  




Kahawa 1893

This is big news for all coffee lovers.  And if you're not a coffee drinker, buy a bag to gift to a friend or colleague.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Whew, Chile - The Digital Dictionary Finna Add New Words and I Just Don't Know What to Say

 The newest additions to the "digital dictionary," has decided to add two new words to its database to represent the culture.

Both "finna" and "chile" will now be official.

I could add my two cents' worth about what this means and whether I think it's a good thing or a bad thing.  

Hey, representation matters.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Black History Month 2021


I'll admit that I've been in a bit of a writing slump.

I've been trying to fake it, but the pandemic has taken its toll on me emotionally.  

And here we are almost at the end of Black History Month and I haven't posted one thing.

I started to think about how Black History Month has become so "mainstream" and how everyone is cashing in (remember to Buy Black Owned products) and it just made me feel like, well, how I've always felt.

Black History Month is every month for me.

I've been Black a long time.

I don't need the calendar or one month to make me realize the importance of my history and my people.  I need to make sure that 12 months out of the year, I'm doing my part to educate myself and others.  Allies are welcome.  But, please walk the talk.

2020 brought the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Movement has pulled back the covers on a dirty secret.  Wasn't a secret to me or to you.  We already knew.

But we don't have to make February the only time we dedicate to our culture, causes, issues and milestones.

Peace and Blessings.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

In Memory of Eric Jerome Dickey - July 7, 1961 - January 3, 2021 (E-interview from 2010)


Eric Jerome Dickey. Three  names that we all know and love. He was kind enough to take time from his current book tour ("Tempted by Trouble") to answer a few questions regarding his work. 

First of all, you are one of my favorite authors, and certainly one of the most gifted writers of our time. You have really switched your game up. I think it’s fair to say that early in your writing career, you were kind of considered the “Male version of Terry McMillan.” You are so not that person. Your range is amazing. I loved, loved, loved “Tempted by Trouble.” I could have read it without putting it down. And, I love the way your books have become so “multi-cultural.” Is there a reason that you don’t tell the reader Dmytrk Knight’s nationality? 

EJD: It never really mattered to me. It was about a man, his values and how his moral compass, due to desperation and encouragement from his wife, goes to the crossroads to meet with the devil. 

Where did you learn so much about robbing banks? I was on the edge of my seat. Did you actually interview bank robbers as part of the research for this book? 

EJD: I read a lot of noir. I watch a lot of noir. And there has always been many bank robberies across the US, many posted on YouTube and are also in all of the local papers. 

I loved the way Dmytrk referred to and idolized his late father, Henrick. Did you draw from your own experiences with your father? 

EJD: Nope. Made it up. 

What does your writing process involve (i.e. do you get up early and write, write at night, use a computer or write long-hand) (yes, believe it or not, some writers still do write long-hand)? Do you set limits on yourself (I will write 50 pages today)? 

EJD: No limits. It’s about quality over quantity. I’d rather have four tight pages over two days than 20 sloppy ones. I work a scene at a time, a chapter at a time. Writing a book is not a race. It’s a journey. 

This book had so many twists and turns, moved so quickly and was so well written. Did you know where you were going to end up or were you on the ride just like Dmytryk? 

EJD: I leave myself open to all possibilities; it's playing "what if?" from top to bottom. I've studied at UCLA and Cal Poly Pomona and with the IBWA/LA, so I see writing as a craft and I try to work it from that angle. Each book is a project. Never personal.

Do you think that the economic times we are facing and have faced the last few years could actually change people as much as it changed Dmytryk and Cora? Did you meet people who had been reduced to a life of crime due to their own life circumstances (loss of jobs, homes, etc.) 

EJD: Anything is possible. I've seen news reports where a Caucasian single mother actually robbed a bank. Desperation has to modify us all. Simply watch the news. It's there. Crime is up and home robberies are up and jobs are down... reduced to crime? People do what they have to do to survive. It's more of a tragic circumstance, one that exists in every country that I've visited, and a bad economy only exasperates what's already in the mix because the haves lose what they have and end up standing shoulder to shoulder with the have nots. Poverty is nothing new. Nor is the art of survival. 

Dmytryk was, of course, multilingual. How many languages do you speak? 

EJD: English. Understand some Ebonics.

Please, please – will Dmytryk be back?

EJD: No idea.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Perfect for Kwanzaa Gifting: Barack Before Obama by David Katz

Being a "fly on the wall" is a phrase of somewhat precise meaning.  

The phrase is researched to have originated in the 1920s.  The first citation of it is found from The Oakland Tribune, February 1921:  "I'd just love to be a fly on the wall when the Right Man comes along."

It is now most often used in relation to the "fly on the wall documentaries,' which chronicle real life situations supposedly made without impacting the behavior of the participants.  I take exception, finding flies to be most annoying, buzzing around all day and landing where they are unwanted.

However, in this event, David Katz was a most welcomed fly on the wall to the meteoric rise and triumphant presidency of Barack Obama.  It may be known that a fly has the most advanced and sensitive eyesight that catches light and movement instinctively.  

As shown within these pages, Barack Obama proved to be that intense light and Katz's photographs instinctively captured various facets of Obama's life from bonding with family and friends through campaigning and eventually the Presidency.

Technically, "Barack Before Obama" is an extremely polished publication with brilliant photographs, capturing President Obama in his most magnetic and favorable light.  This is a must have for the politically inclined and Obama fans alike.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Afterword: An E-Interview with Jeff Gold, "Sittin' In"

Q:    Are there any names of memorable fans who possibly traveled to jazz clubs across the nation?

JG:    Unfortunately we don’t know anything specific about the people in the souvenir photos, but we do have pictures in the book of fans posing with Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, and others.  Sonny Rollins told me it was a regular thing to ask performers to pose with them for a souvenir photo.  It struck me this is the primordial version of today’s celebrity selfie, and I can’t think of any situation before that where people would be asking celebrities to pose for a photo.

Q:    Has there been any follow-up as to what happened to the jazz establishments are they still                 standing?  If so, are they used for different purposes?

JG:    Virtually all of the clubs I write about are long gone; the big exceptions being the Village Vanguard and the Apollo, both of which opened in New York during the mid-1930s.  Some of the concert halls still exist, but for the most part these clubs are long gone.  In some cases they’ve been torn down, in others the buildings still exist.  But these photos do bring alive a long gone scene.

Q:    Why kinds of ancillary businesses were given rise in the 40s and 50s from the jazz clubs?

JG:    As I talk about in the book, one really important thing that spread the word from the clubs was live radio broadcasts.  Radio was just starting to become widespread in the 1920s, and live broadcasts on national networks from the Cotton Club helped NY based musicians including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong gain national profiles, which allowed them to get more lucrative record contracts (and sell records nationally) and tour the country.  These broadcasts also sold tickets and records locally. 

Q:   Did all the jazz players do the total tour from east to west or did certain jazz players opt to stay         on the West Coast or East Coast?

JG:    The musicians I spoke to told me they were happy to play anywhere people would book them.  Sometimes musicians would tour with their groups, sometimes they would tour as a ‘feature’, which meant people like Billie Holiday might travel with her pianist, but each club would book backup musicians.  That’s the way Quincy Jones started playing with bigger artists, while only a teen in Seattle—his band could read music, so they were hired to back up major artists including Billie.  

Q:    Who are your favorite jazz artists today? 

JG:    My current favorite is Jason Moran, who I interviewed for the book; his music is contemporary, but he’s greatly informed by the music of the past, and it works its way into his music in very creative ways.