Monday, October 09, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Sister Act 3
Sister Act 3
Replacing Whoopi Goldberg and Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 3 will be my mother, Aunt Becky and Aunt Katie due to a conflict in schedule with Ms. Goldberg and Ms. Hill. This sequel is sure to be as funny and entertaining as the first two, because it's rich with deep southern love, gentleness and care. With a cameo appearance by my loving grandmother, Manute. She's sure to delight the audience with her high pitched voice and her inquiring mind which might teeter on being nosy. This is a family comedy that stresses the importance of family and sharing. They'll take you on their travels to Niagara Falls, northern migration and reflect on their life in the deep south. With hysterical banter from Grandma Nute this is sure to be the comedy of the year. Please check local media guides to find out what theaters are premiering this G-rated family comedy. Sister Act 3 is sure to grab top honors this week at the box office.
My eldest brother Tony introduced us to football. And my brother Steve and I ran with it. He was the quarterback and I was the wide receiver. Tony taught us how to run pass routes and other techniques. Tony bought us a Nerf football and the rest is history. Steve and I connected for touchdown plays like AT&T connects customers. We played down the man, backyard football, and street football. We used to challenge other streets and neighborhoods to games and we'd demolish them. I'd catch a minimum of 7 touchdowns a game. And it wasn't because of my speed that I caught so many TD's, but due to my savvy, precise route running and timing with my quarterback. We'll go down in the football annals as the best combination, better than Montana to Rice, better than Marino to Clayton and Duper, better than Aikman to Irvin and of course better than McNabb to T.O. who by the way could use some brotherly love.
Up, Up and Away
Up, Up and Away
Basketball wasn't my first passion, football and baseball were. One of my elementary school friends, the late Sebastian Greene, encouraged me to play for the Collinwood Community Team under Coach Buddy King. Buddy as everyone affectionately called him, would come from crosstown, pick us up twice a week in his van and take us crosstown to play in league games. He'd also make us bring toothbrushes, deodorant and other toiletries as he was teaching more than basketball. Although I had few tangible skills, I dominated in my first game with height, hardwork and hustle. This put me on the basketball map. But due to Buddy's decision of demoting me to second-stringer I decided to opt out of playing hoops. It wasn't until Kevin Windham needed another player for halfcourt basketball during Rec time, that I even thought about playing again. I played so well that day, he made sure I played basketball instead of playing tag. It was then that I decided to give hoops another chance. I rejoined Buddy's team as a second-stringer. The next year rolled around and we had a basketball team at Margaret Spellacy Junior High School which caused some excitement on my behalf. The only problem was I didn't go out for the team. I decided playing basketball wasn't worth being chased home, jumped and called derogatory names by white folk. So, I decided to continue to play with Buddy while my other friends made the Spellacy team and took the abuse and other things that went alongwith going to school in a white neighborhood. Since the Speallacy team was new and about to start the season in a few weeks they decided to scrimmage the Collinwood Community Team in the old church on Aspinwall. I lit up the nets from deep with long J's and destroyed them with dribble drives on that Saturday morning. On Monday morning the Spellacy coach, Coach Fazekas asked me if I was interested in joining the team. Within a week I became a starter. I went on to become Co-MVP that same year. That summer I worked hard at polishing my game and ever since then it's been up, up and away.
My mother took us to Hatchechubbee, Alabama black to the house she was raised in. I know you're probably asking yourself, "where's Hatchechubbee?" Well, you won't find Hatchechubbee on any map. It's one of those small towns known for dirt roads, sharecropping and lynching black folks. My grandfather, Lee Dawson, realizing the great opportunities, sharecropping and the potential for lynchings held, he decided to venture up south to Cleveland, Ohio.
Retracing the steps of the revered Hagar and Ishmael, I drank from the same spring that God provided for them in their time of desperation and need. Moving between the valleys and feeling the presence of the prophets of old and taking in the landscape and reflecting on the history of this place caused an epiphany. The surreal became real. Reflecting on the Sacred House (Ka'ba) built by the noble Abraham and his noble son, Ishmael. Remembering that the honored Jesus roamed in this wilderness during his 40 day absence. Realizing that I was following the prophetic model of making my way to the Sacred House renewed me with a sense of serenity and certainty. Spiritual exhiliration and illumination overcame me. An intensity of my grandparents prayers, hopes and aspirations being fulfilled. A wonderful spirit enveloped and comforted me, which led me to continue following the path of the prophets as I made my Makkan moves.
How does one begin to articulate family and its importance. Starting with the mindset of children is an excellent place to begin. A sibling welcomes the newborn and commences to teaching them language, habits, and traditions. But moreover than these matters they partake in the care, concern and protection of the new addition. They initiate the younger sibling into all of the nuances of family and societal life with love and responsibility. Even during their play time there are teaching moments. How to make a snowball, how to make an angel in the snow, how to play jacks and hopscotch and so many other how to's. Family is love and connectedness and a host of other fascinating intangibles. Often whilst passing through life, we add on to our family by the people we meet and who by their love, concern and connectedness become family as well.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Moroccan Shake
The Moroccan Shake
My first year in Morocco, I spent living in the Imperial City of Marrakesh. Marrakesh's magnificience and marvelous culture made me feel like I was home. The people were proud, lighthearted, fun, hospitable and the food was sumptuous. Whether it was the various tajine dishes, bastilla, rafeesa or the famous couscous dishes you were going to partake in delicious dining. It's not simpy the way these meals are prepared but it's the way they're presented that really has a profound affect on the heart. The tales of Morocco run the gamut from breath-taking to horrifying. Well, this is one tale about a journey to As-Suwara, the coastal city on the West African Ocean that's approximately 90 minutes from Marrakesh. We commandeered a taxi and jetted off to As-Suwara. As-Suwara is a very laidblack city with an artsy flavor. The beautiful colors of buildings and homes, bring a certain calmness to the soul. It's certainly a place for the eyes to relax and find comfort and rest. As-Suwara is also known for it's Gnawa Music Festival's that are akin to Reggae Musical Explosions in Jamaica. The late great Jimi Hendrix spent some time in this magical city in the late 60's. You'll find people from all over the world and various blackgrounds coming to these musical gatherings. You'll meet people from Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, North America all jamming to the sounds of these funky musicians. As we entered the city, we saw these musicians doing a number and I couldn't help but join them and do "The Moroccan Shake" with them. Of course it cost me a few dirhams to do this lovely dance with them. We boogied oogied oogied for a few minutes and it left me with another beautiful moment in Morocco, the place of many myths yet many marvelous tales.
A Classic M.C.
A Classic M.C.
Yes Yes Yall! The powerful refrain that has become synonmous with Hip Hop. Now this entry is purely to share with you a few different styles about Hip Hop or MC-ing and not to go into the discussion about Rap or its history. But I will say as Sidi Jalal Nuriddin one of the pioneers for the collective called "The Last Poets" said, "Rap is an indictment." For further info on Sidi Jalal: http://www.grandfatherofrap.com/index.html . I've been rhyming since I was in the 5th grade. My first rhyme was about a picture my schoolmate, Bryan Young, had drawn of the legendary basketball player, Dr. J. From there I'd been influenced by such distinct personalities as The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Nipsey Russell and a cassette tape my brother, Chuck returned with from Howard University. So, when "Rapper's Delight" came out I was already in the mix, but what proprelled me to explore rhyming further was a track made by Count Coolout called "Rhythm, Rap, Rock." A few years later I ran into a fledgling M.C. known as The Awesome Greg G, who was staying with his uncle in the condiminium complex of Georgetown of the Highlands. We hooked up and we used to go on freestyle rampages. He was the ultimate B-Boy, tall, gifted with words, confident and defiant. He became my first partner and we formed our crew. We went down to a small gig one night and did an impromptu performance with D.J. Johnny-O on the Wheels of Steel and we performed for about 7 minutes with pure freestyle fury. D.J. Johnny-O and the Sorcerer Crew, with the Mighty Mike McAdoo, Waney D, D.J. Shock, and Dr. T were the rave of Northeast Ohio along with D.J. Cochise and the Bomb Squad. Dean Rufus a radio personality really gave Hip Hop an outlet in Cleveland, but it was probably D.J. Cochise who really cemented Hip Hop in Cleveland. Returning to the scene of the crime, unbeknownst to me Tommy Spates a classmate of mine happened to taped our performance and brought it to school and the rest is history. After The Awesome Greg G had to leave due to academic and other issues I decided to find another partner. Stepping up and B-Boying with me was D.J. Ham. He took the initial MC Lesson and was able to unleash a barrage of rhymes and we were some of the most prominent MC's in Cleveland. We used to rock Beckman Hall almost every week after a baskteball game but we did our real performances during Rec Period at school. I remember in Georgetown I did a freestyle assault for well over 15 minutes called "So Let it Rock" which B-Boy Classicist Donte Beasley can attest to to this day as probably the most hard-hitting non-stopping body-rocking 15 minutes of verbal dexterity. After proving myself on the local circuit I decided that Hip Hop was dead so I hung up my mic. It took me about 5 years to reclaim the mic and start afresh with a more earthy and substanced filled message. I later performed with The Makkan Experience, Jupiter 415 and A.M. P.M. For me Rap or Hip Hop was about one or three things: Conscious Rap, Ego Rap and Party Rap. I'll share with you two genre's that I loved:
i'm a rap icon, known from here to zion, style’s deadly like a python, better get it right son, the original black titan, starting to get excite-ton, call me the Moorish don, listen to me son, been doing this before you were born, so ain't no need for me to toot my own horn, but you need to be warned, my knowledge has a form, striking like lightning hitting harder than a thunderstorm, you might wonder when this style was born, no need for alarm or to drag this on, call me lyrical champion, and as KRS-1 said, I’m still #1, 1, 1 (fade it out).
this is simply one perspective, you can choose to reject this (Islam).
choice is another word for selective, but only those receptive,
can comprehend the depth of this message (Koran).
others just won’t get this, because they like ideas that are deceptive
not wanting a plain and simple message, that's just not where their head is
from B-Boy’s finest with rhymes that are timeless
like diamonds you need to mind this, search all you want for styles like this, you can’t find this.
I heard an MC a few years ago, named Mikail who recorded a CD called "Ways of My Song" with Remarkable Current and I found him to be the most refreshing thing to Hip Hop since the Beatbox. This is the classic Hip Hop CD, bar none; I rank it in the Top 5 of all-time Hip Hop albums/CD's. For further interest checkout the following sites:
Until then, Yes Yes Yall and it don't stop!
Hip-Hop often receives low and dirty blows from masters of tricknology that try to hide their evil intent and more often than not, older Blacks unaware of what's being lodged, join in and say, "Amen!" Hip Hop is a medium that allows those without a pulpit or sounding board to express themselves. Hip Hop has been labeled misogynistic, crude and a plethora of negative words further alienating, disenfranchising and criminalizing young Black males specifically. Hip Hop and MC's have sought to broadcast and/or report what they see and experience and thus have been called "The Black CNN." Whatever ills these MC's speak of in their songs were long in usage before someone said, "Uh 1,2, Uh 1,2." Yes, there's a certain level of responsibility and there are ways to paint pictures without low and base language, but where are the men, be they in the pulpit, corporate offices, City Hall, Congress etc. to mentor and coach these youths and legislate against the inequities that they live in daily. Many see a reality and are tired of the fantasy world that we'd like to project for them. Hip Hop has given so many people jobs and ambitions where many would have fallen into the cracks or faced an early death. So, in all fairness if we want to start with some of the ills of Hip Hop let's start with the misogyny of women in corporations, politics, advertisement etc. Let's begin with the poor school systems that lack financial resources and self-serving superintendants of school districts. Let's deal with police brutality and suspicion for looking like a criminal. Let's go after corrupt professional politicians who use tricknology and hate-filled messages under the guise of being Patriotic to control its citizenry. Yes, Hip Hop has its responsibility but don't stump on us or brand us criminals and purveyors of evil and filth because of our B-Boy Stance.
My college chum, Moise Dent decided to challenge me to a game of chess. Little did he know that I'm strong with black. Therefore, I had to prove it to him, not with a lecture but with Black Moves. But to save you from a similar fate let me explain:
Chess the brilliant contribution from the East is not only the noblest and most excellent of all games but finds itself between art and science thus it’s undeniably one of the greatest intellectual pursuits ever created. My oldest brother, Tony introduced me to this magnificent board game and I honed my skills and affection for it whilst working in juvenile corrections. Playing chess with the youth was not only a way of relearning the game, it was a way of connecting and sharing a part of me with them as well. It’s a game that does away with race, religion, age, gender or status. The game brought out latent qualities in these disenfranchised youth. Any game or thing can be used as a life lesson or a teaching moment. A good player can see four or five future moves of his opponent. Blacks move, Queen to A-1, Checkmate!
Sunday, November 06, 2005
This poem was originally written for my grandmothers who recently passed away. We received a huge response from alot of you in the form of prayers and heartfelt encouragement. We'd therefore like to share this poem with you for any of your loved ones who have passed on. May you find in it solace and fond memories. This is for those of Beautiful Light.
i write a song
i write a song for you
a song for all times
a song of ecstatic prayers
a song of infused love
a song for you
a song i know you'll hear
as your breathing nears its limits
it gives life to all
as we remember
as we remember
though we're far apart
hearts know no distance
so when i felt,
when i smiled,
when i laughed,
when i cried,
and when i danced,
and when i sang,
and now we can sing this song that i write for you
thousand miles apart
with one beat of two hearts
and as i look from a distance into your eyes
i feel your love
and know that you know
that we must carry-on
with a different beat
but with the same song
a song of love.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Enter into the domain of gnosis and open your soul to the universe and let God unveil realities that are contained within you. Imprints encrypted in the heart waiting to be revealed so that true life can issue forth from the depths of our being. Bathing ourselves in the stream of repentance seeking forgiveness from the One who hears all supplicants and knows the depths of our petitions. Our cries, pains and insecurities are made calm by His answers to our requests. The door to God swings open with thankfulness and gratitude. Knock at the door of thankfulness and gratitude and you shall enter a realm of serenity and plenitude.
Poem for the Prophet
Poem for the Prophet
This poem was written in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates at an event celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad. As many of you know I'm not fluent in Arabic. Whilst listening to the performers of Sacred Songs we tried to capture the breadth of these poetic lyrics. We began to jot down our experience and describe the atmosphere of the theatre. The inspiration goes to the men, women and children whose gentle spirit filled the room with sheer love and reverance. We'd also like to thank our gracious host in Abu Dhabi for inviting us to such a wonderful occasion.
Poem for the Prophet
Born in a desert
Son of Abdullah and Ameenah
Known as Al-Ameen (The Truthful)
He is the Fountainhead of Islam
He is the Spring of Iman (Faith)
He is the Tributary of Ihsan (Spiritual excellence)
He was an overwhelming ocean emerging from a desert oasis
Who was deposited in the world to quench our thirst
To nourish our hearts with love
And to guide our souls to the truth
His fragrance has reached the balmy shores of New Guinea
To the polar icecaps of the Arctic
He is the brilliant light that illuminated the world
Shone brightly as the North Star on a calm night
The perfect man whom God has blessed
With a blessing commensurate of His overflowing generosity
And may He shower His blessings on all those who extol Muhammad
And enter them into His garden
An Arabian Odyssey
An Arabian Odyssey
Wandering through the border towns of Al-Buraymi and Al ‘Ayn going from rocky tracks to date palms feeling so beautiful and tasting serenity. The road being my dear friend and always receiving me with a pleasant welcome full of boons and other wonderful little dainties. Opening her doors to me and proving once again that God has blessed the traveller with an abundance to partake in. The banquet table is forever full of the most voluptuous dishes and soothing drinks. Basking in the ambiance of this sumptuous meal and mood; only to have the road beckon me to continue my journey. Greeting my gracious host with a warm embrace, I bid farewell, until next time.
Date Palms, Cliffs and Cool Waters
Date Palms, Cliffs and Coolwaters
Riding offroad on rocky terrain along the beautiful coastline to Sur taking in some of the most splendid views while the sun began its ascent. Relaxing under palm trees at Wadi Tiwi desiring sweet water. Meeting proud Arabs living in cliff homes that provide them shade, protection and coolness. Their hospitality unmatched and directly connected to the final Prophet, from whom they derive their identity. Our rest gave us respite thus we resumed our trek until we came to Ras Al-Hadd, a haven for endangered turtles and allowed ourselves to enjoy the fragrant breezes and coolness of the sea. Arriving at Wadi Bin Khalid we walked through date palms which brought a calmness to the body and soul. Eating the date fruit resuscitates life and provides one with enough energy to sustain themselves from the stifling sun that evaporates everything it shines on. Visiting Muhammad’s friends we partake in a delicious lunch, a hike into the date palms looking at the beautiful rough cliffs and feeling the brilliance of the cool waters. Wadi Bin Khalid has done us well and we head for the Wahiba Sands, an expanse desert that has a stillness that is absorbed in the soul. As the sun begins to set we leave Wahiba Sands and take to the road and it’s smooth sailing all the way home.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
It has been said by the sages of times gone past, that in silence there are 7,000 great benefits. The prophets of old sought communication with their Lord and detachment from the material realm. When they spoke their words reached their target, the soul. Words that emanate from the heart are certain to enter the heart of those whose antennas can receive their signal. The Signs of God are evident everywhere we look. But the reception isn't always clear due to cacophonous reverberations that we allow to enter the precious realm known as our lives. This realization was so evident when I was honored to spend time with Prophet Job. In a world looking for a voice I turned to Job. Removed from the dissonance of the destructive city life, I entered the province of prophetic presence felt patience as well as the 7,000 great boons of silence.
Extreme Games: Highway Cycling
Extreme Games: Highway Cycling
Riding into a stream of lights along the Sultan Qaboos Highway in Muscat, Oman to the music of cars zooming in and out of lanes and the smell of freedom in the form of sweet fragrant flowers. With my new bike in tow, I decided to take a spin on the highway. Jumping onto the highway trying to find my place in the emergency lane and walkway reminded me of the time when my brother, Steve and I received our new bikes. We rode 12 strong minutes from B & K Bicycle Shop to Georgetown. I used to ride touring bikes and dabbled with the idea of being a tri-athlete. A tri-athlete is someone who ride bikes, runs and swims several miles in a grueling competition that test a persons resolve. My cycling days as a teenager almost led me to go to Europe to pursue a career in professional cycling. We'll save the details of that story for another occasion. I prefer to speak of my time in Marrakesh, Morocco when I displayed my deft skills of jumping curbs, dodging in and out of traffic, making the bike come to a standstill without having to put my feet on the ground at traffic lights and pumping the pedals until the bike became my instrument. For some this might not seem like much, but if you've ever been to an Arabic speaking country, you know the drivers can be deadly. New York cabbies have nothing on regular Arab drivers in Arab Lands. My friends Rasheed and Fu'ad thought I was majnoon (crazy) the way I handled the bike and traffic. They couldn't believe my laid-black style had suddenly changed when I took the reins of a bicycle. I still smile when I reflect on their faces after showing them how to ride strong. If you ever see me riding my bike at your car, be certain that I'm willing to "Pop a Willy" on your hood and "Burn a Lil Rubber" on your trunk. That highway ride brought black so many precious memories, but don't try these tricks at home, on a car, in traffic or on the highway.
Beauty never escapes the eye of one who is seeking her,
How beautiful thou art,
Delicate in a desolate land.
Hold me close to you,
I blossom as I become intertwined with you,
Feeling enraptured in your warmth,
Seeking only to share with you the joys and the sorrows.
You know me as only you could,
As I open my breast to you.
You cleanse my soul and behold, I am a new man.
I love you!
Whether, you're a rose or not.
Secrets of Sunset
Sunset is one of the signs for humankind to reflect upon. Some look at the setting as the beginning of a brand new day. The setting moves one from light to darkness. In this absence of light one can find quietude, peace and illumination. The tranquility that is found in these moments are therapeutic and rejuvenating. The sunset is also symbolic of stillness, lassitude and finality yet it gives way to the day which is representational of change, vibrancy and life. The night is a veil and in it are many secrets for the seekers, who eagerly await her setting. They watch the horizons keeping in rhythm with the divine moments. In this obscurity they find the jewels, for they have understood and penetrated the depths of anonimity only to come into the light feeling refreshed, pleased and with full prominence.
Friday, August 26, 2005
As the sea gently erases the imprints in the sand, what is left? What is left are those gentle kindnesses that we grace each particle of this universe with. Be it a smile, a kindly word or simple pleasantries; it won't be forgotten! Each encounter leaves its imprints. In our journey through life we are constantly leaving imprints on each being we come in contact with. When the terrestrial journey comes to an end our hope is for the celestial journey. Our encounters will play themselves forward and it'll be monumental for us or utterly disastrous. No one knows one's end and can not take the liberty of presuming to know their station with Him. Him has informed us through His divine messages that every soul is sacred, every breath is precious, every moment is beautiful and every reflection is a direction towards heavenly aims. Indeed our time on earth will slowly come to an end, therefore let us leave beautiful imprints in the sand.
The Return of Ibn Blacktuta
The Return of Ibn Blacktuta
Since November of 2004, I've travelled to 6 countries most of them repeat visits. But prior journeys have taken me to faraway destinations therefore let us begin where it all started. Cruised over to Canada thinking to dive from the top of Niagara Falls. In Jolly Ole England I didn't meet Big Ben nor did I have tea with the Queen but had a chance to see The Beatles. Then off to Arabia, to the Holy City of Mecca to follow in the footsteps of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and other noble men and women. Off to Egypt to see if I could Dance Like An Egyptian. More or less I did the camel walk like James into the Pyramids. Morocco is and was more than Casablanca with Bogart. Didn't find Rocky or Bullwinkle either. Walking through the blackstreets of southern Spain until I found myself in the magnificient Alhambra only to find it was no longer my home, someone had bought it. Jetting off to Korea to wander through The Secret Gardens with Quincy Jones whilst face-to-face with North Korean soliders in the DMZ. Dancing in Australia with The Three Sisters in The Blue Mountain to the rhythm of kangaroos and koala bears singing "Who Can It Be Now?" Stopping off in Japan just long enough to say hi, bye and see you next time. Stopped off in Germany to say hello to Falco and sing "Rock me Amadeus." Off to The Netherlands only to find Jay Z teaching them bout Roc-A-Fella in Amsterdam. Found John Lennon and Sean Connery in Gibraltar and wannabe Bobby Fischers. Stopped in the U.A.E. so you'd know me. It was so much bling bling that 50 lost his Cents and Destiny had a Child. There was Venus and Serena but I was more interested in hanging out with Elvis and singing "Viva Las Vegas" whilst wearing the most hideous rhinestones in a one-piece white tight-fitting bellbottomed outfit. Out in Oman looking for Sinbad and chasing Muskrats in Muscat. Well, I'm black home just in time for BET's Comic View.
Days come and go with little thought of the miracles that we witness everyday. These phenonemon impact our psyche on many levels but for those who follow the subtle and not so subtle realities they instill us with the gift of life and the passion is evident on our countenance like the brilliance of the moon on the horizon.
When darkness spreads,
The moon illuminates.
Signs within signs,
Casting indeliable marks on the sea.
The marine life feeling its presence,
Permeating the depths of the ocean.
The earth consuming its moisture through refracted light,
Giving life to all around her.
In opposites and similarities.
An Ode to Yesterday
An Ode to Yesterday
The ancients have given us so much to reflect upon. Whether it was their beautiful architectural structural, their opulent places of worship, their elaborate gardens or their killing fields, their barbaric atrocities or their inhumane humanness they left lessons for us to build on. We reflect on yesterday in order to make sense of the present and chart a way for the future. Yesterday, we immortalize, the present we condemn and the future we relinquish due to the fact that we've allowed ourselves to live in an illusory past. Yesterday brings forth a beautiful song deep with love and conviction. It sings its song waiting for us to harmonize with her and carry her song to future generations who will add their own nuances to a beautiful tune that she calls The Present.
Hey! Lil Fella
Hey! Lil Fella
Lil Fella, it's your beautiful smile and your hope for tomorrow that obliges me to give my all to make sure your tomorrow is better than today. To make sure that your future is brighter than mine. I pray that I will never let you down or have you wondering what did I do with my time on Earth. I love you Lil Fella for all the good things you inspire in me, how your smile often propels me to make the impossible possible. Without you Lil Fella and the other Lil Fella's and Fella-ettes, this world would cease to exist in any meaningful way. Because in you God has placed a light that has burned out in most of us. You still believe and because of that I still achieve. Lil Fella, thanks for lighting my heart and giving direction to my life .