Thursday, June 11, 2015

throwbackness: My favorite little lima bean




I met this shady little person a few hours after she made her debut in this cruel, post-Teen Summit world we're livin' in. I watched my sisterfriend's firstborn grow from a high yella lima bean with fists aclench...



...into an adorable scooting, emoting, hilarious little chocolate wonder. 


We read together...


...and we traded Yo Mama jokes...


It was beautimous. I changed many diapers and danced her ass to sleep many times, and my heart went all aflutter when she was finally able to recognize and giggle at/with me. 



And so now I'm having visions of Pappyhood and am obsessed with babies. But, only the cute, well behaved babies raised by loving people who know how to clean baseboards and overstand that sugar don't belong in no damn grits. Anyhow, I moved back to Panama just before she hit six months. She's two now, and Fat Mama acts real sometimey around me these days, because I only see her for hours at a time a few times a year and it's when she's surrounded by her 412 aunts and uncles, and that's okay. I know that during her valedictorian speech, she'll thank me for putting her on to Yo Gabba Gabba. 

(This was our mixtape cover.)

I'll wait.


Sip your way to better personhood

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Be Less Terrible #1: Count To Three and Do It

#1: Count to three and do it.

I have lists of lists I that I intend to make.

I am the Saint Damita Jo Jackson of procrastination. It goes dooown julie brown over here. It's not a game, okay? You don't wanna see me in a Battle of the Pussyfoots, my dude/dudette.

Since I'm striving to be a little less terrible each day, this week, I'm focusing on attacking a handful of these awesomely awesome ideas (and pieces and tasks and goals) that have been abandoned in my notebooks like a stray Alicia Keys note left by the side of the road.

I've been procrastinating on putting out a call for a college credit-seeking graphic design intern and an aggressive PR wizard to help me scale this Colored Boy operation and accelerate this journey towards that platinum-coated fried chicken shrine. Thug life confession: I wasn't certain I was ready for that step and so I put it off and, well, here we are. I've been meaning to cut the grass for days. Same for vacuuming out the car. I decided that THIS was the week that I'd start meditating...about four months ago.

And so on.

Kingdoms and fried chicken shrines do not build themselves, so it's time I got off my ass and took a step (or six) towards Better Personhood.

Join me.

Here's your challenge for the weekend:

Pick something you've been putting off. Could be a big something (filing for divorce, applying for a grant, swearing to the ancestors that you'll never let blue contacts touch your Negroidian eyes again, etc.) Could be a small something (canceling your Columbia House membership). You decide. I don't know your life.

You can't get back that time you wasted by putting it off so wallowing about putting it off won't help. Though it may be helpful to consider what held you back from taking the leap so you can try not to do it again.



Step 1:

Count to three and do it.

And finished.

If you don't die from doing this something, add two cups of water and a bay leaf and repeat.

Report back and let me know:

1. What did you choose?
2. Honestly, what the hell took you so long?
3. That wasn't so hard, was it?
4. What's next?

May the force be with you. Your platinum-coated chicken shrine awaits.

Check back next week so we can continue being less terrible together.

You're so pretty,

-alex.

Sip your way to better personhood.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

I need your help.

Speaking at Abernathy Magazine's Launch Event.







Hello Friends,

This summer and fall, I am planning to take my Colored Boy and Friends situation on the road. The first two in New York were lovely. I plan to host the conversation series/literary showcase (and other cool things) in various cities — New York, Philly, Atlanta, Charlotte, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland and the surrounding areas — while leading/participating in writing workshops/clinics along the way. I am not limiting myself to these areas. They're simply my initial targets. Ambitious, but I know it can happen. Things are shaping up beautifully so far.

I am leading my 1st personal essay writing workshop later this month at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center in Harlem, and I am eager to do more. I want to connect with writers of all levels and ages, and give folks the chance to grow, learn and flourish in a welcoming environment. I want to encourage folk to be bold, fearless and honest in telling their life stories, because writing can be freeing. An abundance of unfair, one-sided media portrayals of anyone who's not a straight white male underscores the need for a wider range of voices and perspectives. I want to help as many people as I can to feel more confident about sharing their Life Story.

Reminiscing with Demetria Lucas at Colored Boy and Friends: Spring Edition.

Last week, I shared an essay as part of the Writers Forum at DC Black Pride, and it made me hungry for more opportunities to connect and create with other writers. As 100% of my writing (so far) is for the internet, and I'm currently home in 1998, Virginia, I rarely get that chance. I could really use some assistance in pulling all of this off. Here's what I need to be great:

SPACE. For writing workshops and such, I need a quiet space with chairs and tables/desks where writerly folk can fellowship, be great together and write like hell for a few hours, comfortably. Could be a private residence, an empty multipurpose room, a classroom, a luxurious study in one of Janet Jackson's homes...whatever. I'm flexible, nahmean?

For Colored Boy and Friends, I am seeking spaces that can seat a minimum of 50 people. This could be an art gallery, small theater, artsy venue, private room in a restaurant, etc. I need a stage or platform and I need for alcohol to be allowed on the premises.


CONTACTS. Are you a member or employee of a board/department/organization that needs a lecturer, workshop facilitator, panelist, Blackety Black Blackness advisor who is Intersectionality personified (a bilingual Black and Panamanian dancing dual citizen and writerly homothug who's a lupus survivor that LOVES food and writes openly about depression) or anything of the sort?

Are you a professor, program coordinator or principal that needs a Negro Extraordinaire to engage students or participants in your classroom or diversified multicultural racially charged commemorative bonanza/career expo? (or TED talk or SXSW panel or Black History Month extravaganza/fish fry?)

Can you connect me with a community of writing ass writers in your area who would be interested in a workshop for writing ass writers who write? If you answered YES to any of these questions, por favor send a smoke signal or a raven my way.

OR, if you know someone who once worked with someone who plays gin rummy on Saturdays with someone who may be in need of anything I've mentioned here, an e-introduction would be splendid.

You can also acquire some goods from The Colored Boy Store...

Women's "blackety black" Heather Tee


"blackety black" Baby Romper
"be less terrible" Mug
...like these fine folks:




It will make you 42.6 times more beautiful. I promise.

I'll also need (carefully considered) food recommendations, because I must eat gloriously every step of the way. (hint: I love chicken, red velvet, cheese grits, and plantain.)

And 

I'm down to collaborate with awesome people on awesome things. If you have an idea, gig or lead for something that I may be a good fit for, let's talk about it. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. I look forward to eating chicken and being great with you some day.

Holler at me.


You're so pretty,

-alex.

Sip your way to better personhood.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Big tings.


Hi.

Yesterday, I boarded a Magic School Bus and journeyed back to 1998 after a few days in DeeCee. ‘Twas a much-needed break from the madness. I went up to participate in the DC Black Pride Writers Forum, moderated by Sir Tim’m West.

I sat alongside writers and authors La Toya Hankins, R.L. Norman, Otis Randolf, Benjamin Robinson III and Michael Sante-Andress (my new uncle in my head) as we said wonderful things about ourselves and read excerpts from our work. 'Twas a thoroughly Blackety Black affair. It felt pretty cool to be there sharing my shit alongside these gifted fellow chocolate homos, in front of homies old and new. 

I read my love letter to my precious boothang, which I first read at Colored Boy and Friends in New York in March. After the closing Q&A situation, and after a few hugs, handshakes, and heyboos, I hit the streets with Verdell, William and Tiffany (one of the first people I met when I walked into Broadway Dance Center in 2006 as a wide-eyed young gay lad) in search of comida. 

You know how some misguided souls don't evenly distribute all the meaty, cheesy, saucy beguacamolied goodness atop the nacho chips, and you run out of said goodness long before the nacho chips dem finish? 

I hate that shit. 

And that's what happened at Capitol City Brewing Company. Fortunately, the meaty, cheesy, saucy beguacamolied goodness AND THE SERVICE were pretty damn good so nobody passed away on that day. Of course I still devoured the nachos. 

I even warned mis amigos: "Look. I'm about to fuck these nachos up, so don't judge. Okay? Okay."

And I did, sparing a family of sad, dry nacho chips at the bottom of the pile from devourment. 

And the turkey burger is excelente. Te la recomiendo.

Before that, I was in Nueva York for the spring edition of Colored Boy and Friends, which I called Colored Boy and Friends: Spring Edition, because I'm so creative.


My guests during this edition of my conversation series and literary showcase were blogger, media personality and author of Don't Waste Your PrettyDemetria Lucas (seen most recently on Bravo's Blood, Sweat & Heels); world traveler and Founder/CEO of Tastemakers Africa, Cherae Robinson; and pop culture connoisseur, literary superthug and Jezebel staff writer, Clover Hope.

Reminiscing with Demetria
The night was 81.3 times more beautiful than I had anticipated. My homies were there. I got to hug a bunch of splendid people I've met throughout my travels through Internetland and elsewhere, and my hair stayed in place all night.

Win upon win, monica. 

My brother Blue Rivera (mixologist and mastermind) made a mighty fantastic peachy rum punch situation happen that had a few folks tipsy. André handled the social media situation, Gypsy held me down on the video front, and Eric was my motherfucking superhero. The staff of Nola, Darling helped everything run smoothly. The audience was awesome. I'm happy with everything. 

Me: "Okay, so you can curse." Cherae: "Great!"
Since the show fell on "Put on Purple for Lupus" Day (I left my purple situation in a bag on the train), and May marks 10 years of thug life since my lupus diagnosis, I read a new piece about that journey called "round two." Well, I read most of it and opted to stop and just talk because I felt an ugly cry seeking release and I wasn't trying to give snot-nosed and puffy faced on such a night.

Not gonna have me looking flustered and sloppy on Instagram, Satan. Nope.

Fun fact: Somehow, Clover's favorite Huxtable is Vanessa. But we love her regardless.
I then accompanied The Blacks to Cafeteria and Santos Party House with our friend Bottle of Hennessy and got my sweaty, Black mess on for a few hours pon the dance floor. Wonderful night. I may have shed a tear of relief or two as I laid down to sleep the next morning at 8:20.

Oh. On June 20th, I'll be teaching my first writing workshop at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Harlem. This will be a personal essay/memoir writing workshop that pushes writers of all levels to trust, celebrate and experiment with their writing voice when telling their stories. It's gonna be great. A ball of excitement I am. Registration info should be available next week.

And I just completed my first piece of advertorial writing as part of a campaign for Courvoisier which should be dropping this summer. And I'm planning the third installment of Colored Boy and Friends in Washington, DC this summer.

WEPA.

*grunts victoriously*

So that's what I've been up to. Things are moving in the right direction. Lessons are being learned, opportunities are appearing, chicken is being devoured and life is being lived.

Shoutout to progress.

Meanwhile, if you need daily personal motivation or a passive-aggressive anonymous gift for your boss or co-worker,

or something for pride purposes:


I've got you covered, right here.

Love, peace and cheese grits.

Yours in Negritude,

-alex.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Revisit: On Kelis' 'Wanderland,' for Saint Heron


My newest piece for Saint Heron dropped today! I had to take a moment to reflect on Kelis' underpraised masterpiece, Wanderland:

"This was late 2002 and I had recently become serious about putting my years of covert Tina Landon, Fatima Robinson, and Wade Robson discipleship to work as a nascent choreographer and future creative director/best friend of Saint Damita Jo Jackson, The First.

Eighteen was a beautiful time.

I happened upon “Young, Fresh n’ New” right as my campaign for independence began gaining momentum. I was brimming with a newly legal person’s boundless confidence; enamored with the choreographic brilliance of Gil Duldulao; and overjoyed about pushing myself further, physically and mentally, through movement. This song spoke to all of that exploration. It gave me wings."

read the rest over at Saint Heron.

This is my third for Solange's record label site. Previously, I wrote about Janet's The Velvet Rope and the lost art of the Black movie soundtrack.

See more of my freelance work, here.

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