Friday, June 26, 2009

Sigma Gamma Rho Step Team Brought the HEAT to Hotlanta

My SoRHOrs did it again! The Pretty Poodle Step Team from Southern California recently won 1st place at the Atlanta Greek Picnic Step Show. The ladies took home $10 Grand. Congratulations sorors! I've been watching step shows since I was a little girl and to this day I still get hyped about them. So when my sorority wins, I have to brag a bit ;)
For those who don't know, stepping is a type of dance traditionally performed by black fraternities and sororities. The roots of the dance are from Africa. If you want to see some stepping at its finest, check out my sorority sisters of Sigma Gamma Rho below.

Loving Michael Jackson, Drama and All

When I was six and my aunt 15, we fought over who had the better boyfriend. Her man was Prince, mine Michael Jackson. A lot of little black girls claimed MJ as their own in the 70s and 80s. He was cute, an exceptional dancer and he sang sweet love songs like "I'll Be There" and "Rock With You." His brown skin and bright smile were absolutely dreamy. Depending on the era, Michael rocked the perfectly round 'fro and the shiniest jehri curl. Who wouldn't want a dude like that?
My music collection began with MJ's Bad. And boy was the brotha B-A-D. I still remember bouncing on the floor in my grandma's den watching the debut of the Bad movie/video on TV. Michael ripped the floor in his street-outlaw leather jacket and silver buckles. Over time I outgrew my crush on Michael. My childish infatuation for him matured into a great respect for his music.

Black, white, brown, yellow--we all loved Michael Jackson. For black folks Michael held a special place in our hearts. He successfully elevated soul to the international stage. When black folks saw girls in Asia passing out over the gloved one at concerts, we knew this brotha's talents was serious. His music pushed the color barriers off the dance floor and brought awareness to social justice issues like poverty and racism. Michael was one of the first wealthy black celebrities. Not rich, but wealthy. Black folks were proud.

With fame comes drama. Michael's actions outside of music turned some of us off, including me. Skin lightening, allegations of child molestation, wearing masks and pajamas in public, child-like behavior, financial problems, dangling his baby over a balcony and other antics. His actions left us fans thinking, " What's up with that Michael?" And he had so much plastic surgery that the handsome mocha-colored face girls fawned over since late 60s was unrecognizable. The same media that crowned him King of Pop, added "Wacko" to his title. We didn't understand him and so he became an easy punchline at times. But interviews with Oprah in 1993 and Martin Bashir 10 years later gave us some answers. Michael Jackson's recollections of his abusive childhood under his father explained a lot. Eventually, I saw MJ not as someone weird, but troubled and longing for a childhood. The world met him when he was 11 years old and from then on he lived in front of the cameras. All of those factors took a toll on him. That absolutely doesn't excuse some of the things he did but it's true.

We may have our judgments about MJ's behavior. But personal stuff aside, Michael Jackson was without a doubt a supreme artist. I'm sad about his death. As I'm typing this post to "You Are Not Alone" I'm tearing up. I can't believe he's gone so soon. Michael Jackson set the music-bar so high that I don't believe anyone will ever come close to reaching it. His genius can't be copied. And no one can step to his moves on the dance floor. He was phenomenal.

My crush on the slim guy with the curly hair and a glittery glove may have been a phase. But Michael Jackson gave me, and millions worldwide, a love I will never let go. Music.

Michael Jackson
1958-2009

Forever the King of Pop


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

VOTE FOR COCOA FLY !!!



My site was nominated for a Black Weblog Award!

Please oh please vote Cocoa Fly for the Black Weblog Awards. I'm up for:

  • Best Culture Blog
  • Best New Blog
  • Best Writing in a Blog
  • Blog to Watch
Just click on the buttons above or below and vote, vote, vote. Spread the word. Tell your friends, your lovers, their friends, your mama, your friends' mamas. Sending a link to my website for people to vote can make a difference. Don't worry. No hanging chads in this election.



My site was nominated for a Black Weblog Award!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Paw Paw


I didn't know Paw Paw very long, but I remember I was crazy about him. Paw Paw was my great- grandfather. He was a big, handsome man with caramel skin and warm eyes. I loved sitting in his lap when I was a little girl. He always picked me up. He was so tall I thought I could touch the ceiling when he held me.

Paw Paw was from Biloxi, Mississippi. My grandpa, Paw Paw's son, told me he was a cool dude, but not one to mess with. Paw Paw always packed a pistol under his car seat. Waaaay back in the day before I was born, some young cat tried to carjack him. Paw Paw calmly pulled out his pistol. Luckily the young man left with his life. Paw Paw left with his car.

Paw Paw had a lasting Southern Charm because at the age of four I adored him and still do 25 years later. His West Oakland house always stood out to my little imaginative mind. The awning over his front window was made out of candy canes and he had the brightest rose bushes on the block. Pretty like the rose from The Little Prince novel. At least I thought. Every time mom and I visited, I head for Paw Paw's hall closet to play with his broken "Family Feud" board game. The one with Richard Dawson on the box. The flip tiles with the survey's answers fell off if you turned them. But for some reason they were fun to me.

It's funny how I don' t remember our conversations or even Paw Paw's voice. I just remember I liked visiting him and he was very attentive to me. And I remember his wife Pee Wee (don't ask me why we called her Pee Wee) could bake a mean pan of cornbread. They had a spacious, airy kitchen, that glowed from the sunlight. I'd sit in Pee Wee's old high kitchen chair while she made cornbread and chicken on her gas stove. The one with the green finish that was stylish back in the 70s. That thing could heat the whole house but the breeze coming through the red-wooden back door cooled us off.

I learned an important life lesson from Paw Paw--death. Paw Paw died from emphysema when I was about six or seven years old. He quit smoking by the time I came around but it was too late. He was the first person close to me who died. I remember mom trying to explain me that Paw Paw wouldn't be coming back and he was with God in Heaven. But she said he would always be in our hearts. I didn't get it. Death is a hard thing to explain to a kid. Being the little journalist in training, a few times I secretly rummaged through our kitchen drawer for Paw Paw's funeral program. I needed to piece together why I would never be able to sit in his lap again and eat warm, sweet cornbread. I looked at the program with an old black and white photo of Paw Paw on the front, but it still didn't make any sense. A couple of years later I understood what my mom was trying to tell me, especially the part about Paw Paw being in my heart. Mom was right because he's still there.


Happy Father's Day Paw Paw.

Photo:
Pre School Rock
All Posters

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Toast to Tameka Raymond Haters

Feel Free to Leave Comments Below


Ladies, Ladies it's time for a toast. I know you've heard the good news. Tameka and Usher are through. It's. A. Wrap.

(The crowd cheers.
)

Yes, wishes do come true don't they? And it only took took two years for divorce papers to be filed. I'm surprised it took that long. Ha Ha. We were on Tameka's behind those two years. Yes we were. Calling her ugly, downing her because she had children prior to dating Usher. Ha, what was Usher thinking? The number of single black mothers in our community is crazy high. Hell, meeting a good a man is hard enough for a sista even when you don't have kids. And Usher had the nerve to fall in love with a black, divorced woman of three. We tried to warn him.

I gotta jump back to her looks. Ugh, she is not cute. Usher baby, you married down in the looks department. Would we have complained if he married a white woman? Hell yeah. But that ain't the point. Look at Tameka. She's thin and don't look 38. Really what did he see in her old a*s?

( A few women in the crowd yell "Thank you" and clap)

Yeah I said it. She's too old for him. What was he doing with a woman eight years older than him? Beyonce is 15 years younger than Jay Z. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are 15 years apart too. But that's okay. Usher and Tameka just took things too far. Who does Tameka think she is marrying a young, rich and famous, handsome man? She wasn't even famous before marrying him. She was just his stylist. I'm telling you, Usher should've stayed with Chili. She's only 38.

(Speak on itl
!)

Well ladies, we never knew what was going on behind close doors but thankfully this marriage is done. It's sad that Usher and Tameka's babies are under the age of two and they're going through a divorce. But that ain't the point. This relationship needed to end. I don't know why it needed to end. I don't know even know them but I knew something wasn't right.

Does everyone have a glass? Great. Ladies a toast to wishes coming true. And a toast to Usher. May he finally find Mrs. Right. When he does we'll be on her back too. Cheers!

Unsexy is Sexy at Erotica LA

Don't Forget to Speak Your Mind in the Comments Section.

The first time I went to Erotica LA I thought I had fallen into a man's brain. Rock music pumped hard through the speakers. Huge ads featuring nearly-naked women hung all over the ceiling of the LA Convention Center. Tricked out, shiny cars and trucks swallowed the middle floor. And giddy men with video cameras trailed behind models in lingerie like puppy dogs trying to follow a girl home. I had a headache within the first five minutes being there. Seriously, it was too much. What the hell was I doing there in the first place you ask? Well, I like black erotic art and literature. So much that I wrote my master's thesis on black erotic literature a few years prior. I figured why not see what this thing was all about. Back to my story, I'm standing on the red EROTICA carpet. I could either turn right to the boys' playground-- cars, porn stars and $2 XXXX video dealers. Or turn left to the lacy corsets, jewelry, whips and quiet. Hmmm I'm a woman and I like to shop. Stage left.



Ladies I had a good time. I'm not going to lie to you. Looking at all of the adult toys was fun. But the most stimulating part of the day for me was not what you call sexy. That day I met really interesting people. I spoke with reps tabling for an agency called Clitoraid. They raise awareness about female genital mutilation and provide restoration surgery to African women who have been circumcised. Sounds like it could be a good cause but I still don't understand why the women tabling wore bikinis. Moving on...Erotic writers and artists broke down the inspirations behind their work. And I ended up having a deep discussion with this Mexican dude in the dining area about how black and brown people in LA need to stop fighting and unite. His wife was a Passion Party consultant and selling products at the show. I'm for real. People were very respectful. You have to be comfortable in your skin and with your sexuality to go to something like Erotica LA. I think that's why people who go are pretty laid back and for the most part respectful. Oh I forgot to mention the men. A few hit on me that day. They were nice and surprisingly didn't bring up sex in our mini conversations. But I couldn't date a man I met at an erotic trade show. It's too weird. Mom this is Derrick. We met by the Penile Cosmetic Surgery booth at the Erotica LA trade show. See, too weird.

Fast forward a year later and I'm at Erotica LA 2009 looking for story ideas. Seriously, just for story ideas. I hit the bright red carpet on Sunday and turned left of course. A few tables down I saw a vibrator that looked like an electric toothbrush. Somebody better keep that far away from their Crest Spinster. Walked past a saleswoman who asked if I was interested in breast enhancements. No thanks, I'm happy being an A+. Then I met a person who was a minister and now writes erotica. Wow. Only I would meet a minister turned erotic writer on a Sunday. I wont reveal their name or sex. No one in his/her religious circle knows he/she writes erotica. He/she has a pen name. I asked him/her if they felt guilty because they went from preaching the Word to writing about sex. He/she told me, "I'm human." Wouldn't it be funny if someone from his/her church was reading his/her books not realizing who is the author?


Ya'll know I'm always on the lookout for my sistas. I met two fly sistas selling sexual enhancers. Staci Fletcher and Johari Johnson own Intimate Teas. They claim their "My Maple Cookie" tea will make you and your man's "juices" taste like maple. Their other tea is "Screaming O". No need to explain what that does. So often when we see black women working in the sex industry, they're in pornos. These ladies are selling a product. They were the only black female entrepreneurs I saw there. Staci and Johari told me they think they're one of the few black people in the sex enhancement business. Later I met a really cool artist. Her name is Fang Ling Lee and I'll be interviewing her for Cocoa Fly next week.

And that was my sophomore year at Erotica LA. Will I come back for a third round? Not sure. Depends on how I'm feeling. I'm only human.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fly Lady of the Day
Regine Nehy from "Lakeview Terrace"

This weekend I hit up a mixer for BlogHer at a coffee shop (shout out to all the bloggers I met Saturday morning). I noticed a young sista at the shop who looked real familiar. Turns out it was Regine Nehy who played Samuel L. Jackson character's daughter in the thriller "Lakeview Terrace." Must have been fate because I planned on writing about Nehy after watching "Lakeview Terrace" On Demand a few days prior. Despite the mild reviews I wanted to see the film because I love Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. No one can cuss and play a crazy man like Samuel L. The movie is about deranged cop Abel Turner(Samuel L.) who is not down with the swirl. He harasses his new neighbors (Kerry Washington, Patrick Wilson) because they're an interracial couple. The acting in the film is good but I wasn't in love the writing. It wasn't horrible, but something was missing.
Regine Nehy did not come up short in her role. She delivered in this film. The beautiful and talented actress didn't have a lot of scenes but when she was on camera she shined. Nehy plays Celia Turner, a frustrated teen dealing with an overly strict, prejudice, psycho father and the recent death of her mother. The poor girl is angry, but has a rebellious streak.

I chatted with Nehy at the coffee shop and she told me she'll be appearing in the star-studded "Death at a Funeral," produced by my favorite comedian Chris Rock. Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan and Danny Glover are reportedly also on board. According to Variety, the film is a remake of a dark British comedy about a father who dies and all kinds of secrets and drama come alive at the funeral. Rock is going to do the black remix to the plot. Check for that in 2010.

Nehy is only 21 and has a lot of promise. The Philly native has also been in the film "Pride", ABC's "Grey's Anatomy and "Lincoln Heights. " Hollywood give this sista more roles. I love Beyonce and Halle Berry but as I've said many times on this blog they're not the only black women who can read a script. There are talented sistas out there who can bring the fire on camera if just given a chance. Regine Nehy is a rising star and I look forward to seeing her in more productions.

If you saw "Lakeview Terrace" what did you think? Speak your mind in the comments section.











Photos:
1.Regine Nehy
2. Regine Nehy w/ co-star Jaishon Fisher in "Lakeview Terrace"
3. Regine and I at the coffee shop

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Welcome to Our Post-Racial Society

Hey Boys and Girls. Welcome to our post-racial America. That's right kids, no racial hatred in this land of the Red, White & Blue. The President is black so all that Civil Rights, Jim Crow stuff is behind us. The pot has truly melted. And did I mention here in the U.S. you can see flying pink elephants sitting on clouds eating cheesecake? We'll get to that later. Let's start our post-racial tour in the Nation's Capital at the Holocaust Memorial Museum...

The shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC made me sick.
James von Brunn, 88, allegedly had so much hate in his heart that he decided to wake up this morning and kill. I guess it was a double joy for the alleged neo-Nazi who shot a black guard at a museum honoring Jewish history.
Two things really made me angry about this story. Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, 39, was just doing his job. He was trying to make a living just like the many Americans lucky to have a job in this economy. He probably didn't even feel like going to work today just like most of us. And somebody stole his life. For what? Because he was black? Because he was there?

The second reason why I'm angry is because of our legal system. Von Brunn has a serious criminal history. According to CNN, in 1981 he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve. Von Brunn "angered by what he called the 'treacherous and unconstitutional' acts of the Federal Reserve... entered the central bank's Washington headquarters armed with a pistol, a shotgun, a knife, and a mock bomb, according to court records. He claimed to be a photographer who wanted to shoot pictures of the boardroom, and bolted up the stairs when security guards told him to wait." [source: CNN] He served six years for this crime.

WHY WASN'T THIS REPEAT OFFENDER LOCKED UP?! This man was bold and crazy enough to go to a bank in with weapons, a bomb threat and try to kidnap federal officials. Yet, he's been walking the American streets for 20+ years. There are people facing harder time for using crack and this dude only got six years. It doesn't make any sense. I wonder if he was sending a message to President Obama who just returned from touring a former Nazi concentration camp in Europe. I wonder if seeing a black U.S. President condemning the Holocaust was so much for his hate-filled soul that he just had to kill. Doesn't matter now. Von Brunn will probably be spending the rest of the life he has left in jail if convicted. I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to be in jail at 88. At least he's still living. I wish I could say the same for Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns. But why am I sad? We live in a post-racial society. Remember?


Photos:
1. NY Times
2 & 3-CNN

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ten- Year- Old Boy Speaks
Knowledge on Slaying the N-Word



"You can only be destroyed by believing that you are really what the white world calls a nigger."--James Baldwin

I HATE the N-word. I don't care what some black people say, it is not a word of endearment or unity. The term is dehumanizing and ignorant. Some people say "Nigger" is different from "Nigga" and that the latter word is one that has been redefined to mean something positive. I totally disagree. Black folks in the U.S. have been saying "Ni**a" for centuries because of vernacular. In "black vernacular" the -er is dropped. Just like you hear some people, especially down South, say "fing-uh" instead of "finger." Back in the day when we called each other brothas and sistas we weren't killing each other like we do today. It's easier to kill someone when you consider them lazy, subhuman, useless and dumb. That's basically what Ni**a means. Wasn't that white racists' justification for killing and enslaving black people?

May be harder to pull the trigger when the barrel is pointing at your brotha. Someone who comes from a family, may share your blood, is someone's child, God's child.

Johnathan McCoy does a better job at breaking down the N-word. One of my Oakland sistas directed me to this video. The 10-year-old won a speech contest at his church where he spoke about why we should stop using the N-word. His speech was so moving and mature that I forgot I was listening to a child. I am so impressed with this brotha. He makes me proud. His speech has received over 200,000 hits on You Tube. You must, must, must listen to this brotha. Tell us what you think after watching the video.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Divas Making Money

You know a sista's funds are tight during this recession. But there are some women out there who I want to support. Below are a list of fly sistas I'm spotlighting who are handling their business, literally. Since my wallet isn't going too far right now, shop in my place and support these sistas.

Yay, Vanessa Williams has a new album! I've been waiting a few years for this one. The Ugly Betty star plays the heck out of the cunning and fake Wilhelmina Slater. But we know when it comes to singing, Williams is The Real Thing. The album debuted yesterday. Vanessa Williams has a beautiful voice. Between singing, acting and modeling Vanessa Williams is one of the most talented women in entertainment. She is long overdue for an Emmy and Grammy. Get with the program Hollywood.



Justine Simmons, star of Run's House redefines "bling" with her Brown Sugar jewelry collection on Home Shopping Network. When I say "bling," I'm talking pirate's treasure chest, Ring Pop sized jewels. Simmons says some of the pieces are inspired by jewelry she saw her grandma wear. The line is a blend of vintage, estate-style jewelry with a sweet and hip finish that makes it modern. Simmons brings something new because the main attractions aren't just diamonds but garnette, sapphire, chocolate freshwater pearls, smokey quartz, and onyx. Simmons is not afraid to use color in her designs. I like diamonds, but colorful gems are my favorite. Some of the pieces are pricey, like in the $500 range. But I saw a few for $35 bucks. My only complaint is the two times I've seen her on HSN it's around 3am EST. I can tell the sista is tired. Come on HSN, give Justine a better time slot.


A few weeks ago I met artist Stella Singleton-Jones at the Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens Art Show. This sista is amazing. She carves her sculptures out of rock. I repeat, she carves her sculptures out of rock. The process is intense but Singleton-Jones told me it gives her joy. The soul she puts into her work radiates from her pieces. Her inspiration--God. When I think of stone or rock, what comes to mind is stillness. But you can see the rhythm and movement in her pieces like Firecracker. Singleton-Jones is based in Los Angeles. The next Affaire in the Gardes will be in October.




I'm a girly-girl. Went to charm school, played in my flower girl dress until I outgrew it, loved Miss Piggy, all of that. I went to a real charm school, not that mess on VH1. I'm also a serious tea drinker. So when I saw these three ladies on the Style Network's Peter Perfect business makeover show I had to post them on Cocoa Fly. Sisters Monica, Sharee and Marolyn (they're related) own La Tea Dolly, a tea house for girls in Cleveland Heights,Ohio. I wish those were around when I was a kid. The Style Network hooked them up with personal makeovers and store renovations. I haven't been but from what I saw on TV the tea room looks nice.



There's another sista handling her business on HSN. Tennis goddess Serena Williams is "serving up grand slam glam" in her HSN line. Serena designs clothes, jewelry and my weakness....handbags. Help me Lord. I'm drooling at the scarf tote to the right. Ya'll know I'm feeling that blue and gold scarf weaved through the top. Williams prices are reasonable. If you can afford a bag from JC Penny or Macy's then support Serena. Sistas, we spend so much money outside of our community. When the chance arises support your own.


Photos:
Vanessa Williams www.amazon.com
Justine Simmons--www.pastryshoescollection.com and www.hsn.com
Stella Singleton Jones--www.sculpturesbystella.com

La Tea Dolly
www.lateadolly.com
Serena Williams www.hsn.com





Monday, June 1, 2009

Pinch Me! Did I See Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Quincy Jones and BARBRA STREISAND


Babs, was it you? Was it really you? Did I really stand just a few feet away from one of the fiercest entertainers of all time on Friday night?


I'll get to Babs in a minute because the night belonged to song writers Alan & Marilyn Bergman. I attended their tribute at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the event. That's right, THE Academy that gives out the Oscars. I heard about the event through my movie group at Meetup.com. The Bergmans have penned countless songs for movies, television shows, plays and other productions.--"The Way We Were," "In the Heat of the Night," "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and the theme song to Alice. And they wrote one of black folks' most beloved TV theme songs----Good Times. They are DYNOMITE! Sorry couldn't resist.

As I took in the evening I thought about how their work is part of the mold of American pop culture and the "American Songbook." They won three Oscars and have been working together for 52 years. Quincy Jones collaborated with the Bergmans on In the Heat of the Night scores. Jones emceed the event and recalled a time he asked Allan how was it working with his wife. Bergaman said to him, "What' s not better than doing something you love with someone you love." Aaahs filled the theater.

The best part of the night were the stories. Quincy Jones, the Bergmans and Babs work and hang out together. After decades in the business they have quite a few memories. One of my favorite stories told was how the Bergmans met Streisand. They were writing songs for a production in Paris. The show needed a female singer. The Bergman's listened to many girls sing but none were the right fit. They were ready to call it a wrap for the day when someone suggested they listen to the girl waiting downstairs. Marilyn protested. She was tired and didn't want to sit through another audition. Eventually she agreed to give the young girl a listen. I believe the girl was 18 at the time. It was Barbra Streisand. Her voice left Marilyn in tears. Later, Marilyn went to visit Streisand in her dressing room. Streisand told the audience the dressing room was tiny and she shared it with comedian Phyllis Dillard. Yeah, I laughed too when she said Phyllis Dillard. Anyway, Marilyn walked up to her and said, "Do you know how wonderful you are?" Streisand bumbled over her answer because she didn't really know how to respond to the praise. Streisand said she's done over 50 songs with the Bergmans and told the audience she eventually wants to make an album covering their songs.

Back to my joy over seeing Babs....
After the ceremony a crowd surrounded Streisand and her husband. They were seated in the 5th or 6th row. I waited for the crowd to disperse, stood by one of the exit curtains because I figured out where they would probably leave. I'm a journalist, I know these things. I was literally 2 rows away from where Streisand was leaving. No one was around me. My camera was ready for the shot of a lifetime. Here she comes....I wish this security guard would move. Ooh, she did move. That Secret stuff does work....Just a few more steps Barbra and I can snap the shot. Oooh, rigth, there....... NOW. "Sorry Ma'am no pictures." The usher stopped me. I was a few feet away from Barbra! It would've been the shot that I would rub in my mom's face and show my grandchildren. That was the shot I would discuss with people at wine parties. That was supposed to be my special shot just for me. She's not someone you can get near easily and the usher ruined it. Now, normally I would've snapped the camera real quick. But, being that I was one of maybe 6 black people at the ceremony ( that includes Quincy Jones and Patti Austin) and I was in Beverly Hills, I decided not to take the picture. Oh well, at least I got to see Babs in person. I only spent $5 for the tickets. One of the best $5 bucks I've ever spent.


Photos:
1. 2008 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
Celebrity Wonder. com
3. Me in front of an Oscar

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