40 Acres. A Mule. And Chicago.

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Because you apparently
can’t put No Peace, NO PUSSY on a poster…

soundtrack  Long Hot
Summer,  Don’t Rush The Stage

I went to see the CHI-RAQ
today.
My son treated his sister and I ( I made it a matinee
because I love him and his pockets). We made the first show at 10:30
in the a.m. and I missed like  two minutes of the new Spike Lee
Joint,
running my mouth on the phone.

I entered the dark theater
where they were seated and easily spotted among the 10 or so other
black folk there.

I only read one review before
I arrived, most of  my judgments and disbelief were suspended. I
mostly, successfully suspended my bias toward the film based on my
appreciation of his prior work. I basically failed at suspending my
disbelief in Nick Cannon as the title character, an “organization”
leader (The Spartans Gang) and a Hardcore, Underground, Gangsta
Rapper (are we still using this term)… Chiraq neé Demetrius
Dupree.

I have ties to Chicago
vicariously, I have friends and family who work there, live there,
love there, and are from there in all of the ways that matter. I’ve
only been a couple of times, for Saviour’s Day… so suspending my
emotional attachment to the material was the easiest task.

Here’s what I knew going in:

  • The movie is based on
    Lysistrata, a Greek Comedy written by Aristophanes about one
    woman’s attempt to end the Peloponnesian War by convincing the women
    of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and
    lovers.
  • Trina (the rapper from
    Miami) starred in previous adaptation, A Miami Tail, in 2003. In
    that version Trina as (Alicia) lead the women of Liberty City in a
    sex-strike in protest of the disrespect of women and gang violence.
    There was a woman who co-wrote the adaptation. (get it here)
  • Greek comedies are
    really about caricatures not characters. The stereotypes are
    inflated to illustrate a point, usually the worst of the nature of
    man.

Having given you some
context, here’s how it all went down…

I slid into my seat to Nick
Cannon
 ChiRaq rapping, saying rhyming words that sound like
all the rappity rap that I’ve heard on the radio in recent years (I’m
feeling a little dated.) This new rap is pop music and it is breaking
all the rules.

The game is to be sold,
not told.

Real killas move in
silence.

Snitches get stitches.

This is me barely
suspending my disbelief at Nick Cannon being hard…

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Then Bang! Shots ring out and
people run and drop and …

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Fade… Next Scene. This is
where is gets interesting and I mean that because this where dialogue
comes in and I realized that Young-Old Spike is doing this in Greek
fashion, that is to say there is a rhythm and cadence to the
dialogue. It rhymes y’all, rhymes like all the spoken word poetry
EVUH!.

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From that point on I could
watch the movie for what it was, relaxed in my mind, body, and
spirit…  Relaxed because no matter how ridiculous the movie got I
knew exactly what it was and how it would end.

That is what made the movie
good. I knew what the message was and even though the movie was
mostly just Spike doing this:

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I know how it would all end.

The movie is consistent, never veering far from it’s premise. Except in the end where we get
to see the best in a man (which technically and maybe ironically
would make this a Greek Tragedy).

The movie is predictable and
yet every time J. Hud hit the screen, tears. I don’t know if she drew
on the personal experience of being  a Chicagoan who lost family
members to gun violence, but I definitely connected with her
character.

Most of the dialogue was as
ignant and funny as it was poignant.

I felt empowered and
invigorated to get out here and keep doing women’s work, by the
imaginings of what would happen if women throughout the world stood
in solidarity for a cause and were able to affect change.

I was also just as weirded
out by buff Dave Chappelle as I was the time I saw him live in
Memphis. He was just a funny, as then. And I realized I miss seeing
Dave Chappelle regularly on TV and in movies, but I totally didn’t
understand why he was here.

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John Cusack, as Pastor Miguel
the white priest of a progressive Black Church reminded me of a a
lot of white people and white do-gooders I’ve encountered. Those who
grew up in or are/were heavily invested in black communities. I wanna
know where he learned to HOOP.
Like who did he watch, where did he study because it was decent…
Still, the
young man and I
were a distracted by his Kente-trimmed robes and RBG Deacons board.

OAN:
I want that Black Jesus hanging in my living room next to my Good
Times,
Ned The Wino as Black
Jesus. 

The
scene with General King Kong aka Uncle Sam…

It’s Spike Lee mane! There are messages and then messages within messages.  He chose a good lead in Teyonnah Parris or maybe I was just happy to see her cast as something, somebody completely different than her character in Dear White People. 
I don’t now if this is his last movie or he’s only doing passion
projects or what, but he put everything in here. His signature shots,
memorable scenes, and imagery. Samuel Jackson in the brightest of
suits from the J. Anthony Brown collection,  Wesley Snipes with a
2015 Demolition Man/Blade fade, and Roger Guenveur Smith acting
excccra light skinneded.

Spike
gets the message across and then gets it across again and again.

I
suspended most of my beliefs and judgments to see this movie and I’m
just reviewing it here… I’m
saying it was a good movie and that we should be talking about what
is good and what is problematic because there are some problems.

My
son turned to me and asked “When are they going to make a movie
about Memphis, according to Forbes Memphis is like the 4th
most dangerous city in the nation?  Chicago is like 5. Oakland, St.
Louis, Detroit, and Memphis are higher?”

I
was speechless, so many cities suffering under the conditions, why
Chicago?

Why
a Greek Comedy?

Why
repeat a interpretation that was already done, fairly recently?

And
why are people are upset about the title, I’ve heard people from
Chicago refer to it as ChiRaq. Maybe it’s because it’s coming from
the outside? Like white people saying nigga… Some things will never
be okay.

I
reached out to my Chicago peeps and one
response sticks with me:

“I
would only see it for free. I believe too many communities (poor
communities of color in Chicago, women, youth) are being used to
promote this film, and thus make Spike Lee wealthier. With
little to no reciprocation.” Aquil Charlton, Chicago Artist &
Activist

So… Y’all ready to have
this conversation?

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Black Nerd Power Ep. 62

On this week’s Black Nerd Power​ I’ve built a pillow port in my feels about Straight Outta Compton and the exclusion of the women from the story, the story I lived, the stories behind the stories…How DOPE the the movie DOPE is and what great time it is to be a Black Nerd! Awlada music! Plus the Baes Kamikaze​ share exciting news with us! Richard says something about iPhones… all I hear is Samsung and a new Final Fantasy game is released. Markus has a pick of the week that has to be from the Debil… because being turned into a Vampire during Shark Week means it’s always SHARK WEEK!!! That is not of GAWD!!!  And I give #Westies from my soul to Josh Duggar, Jared Fogle, and draw parallels between them and Robert Kelly. #BNPIfYaNasty #CoolPeoplePlacesThingsIdeas #PurpleHairAndConverse

http://www.theoamnetwork.com/bnp/2015/8/24/episode-62-the-one-thats-the-return-of-the-divine-wind

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DIDN’T WE BREAK UP…

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The worst thing about trying to break up during a *mercury retrograde is that you will at some point find yourself listening to “The Breakup” playlist you made, watching the movie by the same title or something similar, drinking lots of wine, having what was once your surely sound advice reciprocally dispensed to you by well-intentioned friends, and looking around your home with a feeling of uneasiness at just how imbalanced and slightly out of place things seem to be. Why? Because you can NOT successfully break up during a Merc. Ret. Oh sure, you can break up… but it is highly unlikely that it will be successful.

And if attempting a breakup during a Merc. Ret. isn’t enough to quell your self-destructive need to challenge the wisdom of the GAWDS that is planetary alignments and such and if by grace you succeed… Graciously bow out. Bow out now! Do NOT evoke their wrath by continuing to tempt the fates and test your fortunes by doing something as foolish as say, I don’t know breaking up during the summer. No, do NOT attempt to do that! Again one does not successfully break up during summer.

One main reason why summer never works for break ups, your friends. Yes, YOUR! FRIENDS! Because your friends will fall into two categories by the summer. Category 1, those who ditched their boos after “Cold and Boo Season” and are now free agents and have gone on living their lives thusly (plans which don’t include you because you missed the deadline)… And category 2, which are the people who decided to stay committed and continue to participate in the wealth of activities available in a vibrant community where people have “coupled-off” and kindly tolerant you although they’d rather not have to choose between you and the proposed ex. Oh and yes, it is uncomfortable for everybody to have you both there (standing at opposite ends of the room, convening small huddles to talk to whomever will listen to your side of le breakup)…

Merc. Ret. Rules communication… And while you may have thought you ended it and that you said what you meant or meant what you said what your proposed significant other may have heard could be something altogether different like “Maybe”, “I’m NOT sure”, or “I DO want this,” and before you know it you are unbroken up and listening to THAT painstakingly curated mix seemingly in vain, while navigating half-unpacked boxes, and trying to figure out if she still has those pictures, that book, movie, shirt (insert item that is sure to start a major property dispute and keep the relationship relevant if only in terms of the fight to win!).

Breaking up is hard to do… The division of possessions (who came with what, what was purchased by whom, to whom was what gifted). The yours, mine, and ours of friends and friendships. And by far the hardest thing about breaking up has to be the emotional/psychological effects which last beyond the picking and packing, calling and texting, exit interviews, or the final showdown. There are the inside jokes, now only occupied by you. Waking up late night or early morning with a sense of longing and emptiness. Yes, you have the bed to yourself, you can stretch out diagonally (hell, you almost have to occupy the space so as not to think about it) but at what cost. The juxtaposition of the type of sadness that breakups bring against the type of happiness that summer promises seems unnatural.

Summer is for pinwheels, picnics, barbecues, vacations, relaxing by the pool, day tripping to the beach, patio swinging while sipping lemonade or iced-tea and having a long conversations with a friend, cuddling on a blanket under the stars and watching fireworks, or recapturing moments in childhood chasing butterflies and fireflies… Summer is for roller-coasters, music concerts, outdoor festivals, drinks on the patio… Summer is not for tears, longing, regret, sorrow,misery,long conversations with friends that require endless amounts of tissues… Summer is not for steely resolved steel magnolias, it’s for stealing kissing under magnolia trees…

If however, you should find yourself on the bestowing or acquiescing end of a Merc. Ret., Summer, or the Merc. Ret. Summer combination punch of a break up… Don’t breakdown…

Or at least if you must, have some good movies to laugh and cry with…

Love & Basketball

The Story of Us

The Breakup

Love Jones

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Celeste and Jesse Forever

(500) Days of Summer

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Great Music: My personal playlist “The Breakup”

https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXylzfU4PCmEL2OdK2hJJeKUUgoefOY-jTRBZhQaA691DB8SCZiUjm0p5Fs9MPqXUa3lDB19OG3Esy2EYDKjWE5xd0kCMsQ==

And especially a great bottle of red wine… Because it’s good for the heart.

*The wonky, revelatory and sometimes high strangeness of the phenomenon known as Mercury Retrograde.

This happens three to four times per year, when the planet Mercury slows down, and appears to stop (station) and move backward (retrograde). It’s an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train — as it recedes, it appears to go backward.

While delays and misunderstandings do seem to happen, I’ve noticed a magical trend — that people and ideas return, for integration, resolution and more.