Spirit in the Wood

2015/09/19


 

Sketched by a flickering autumn fire,
A frameless, eight-by-ten charcoal portrait
Depicting parting flames arguing between thin lines
Over obscure boundaries and dirty games
Rips at the widower’s waning faith
In committed, institutionalized love,
Scatters his quaint thoughts in layers
Shallower than rust leaves shed by restless trees
That, unlike a platinum-set diamond ring,
Possess circles of nature’s secrets to infinity.

Instead of shredding dark gray memories
Of secondhand misery slithering
Against wind-blown, lush green symmetry —
Estranged lovers stumbling over words and gravel
Three feet ahead of his scuffed shoes
That shuffled worn-suede indigo blues,
Bickering beneath tittering birds over dusty bits
Destined to be, like their bones,
Pulverized into ash, a grisly sand
He rocks on his coccyx in shrouded optimism.

Tossing his stubby illustrator’s pencil,
He pretends it’s a log-in-miniature
Rolling with discarded muses in the fire,
And it sends half-dead embers sputtering
Like the feisty engine of his ’77 Honda Civic —
The red-hot one with a leopard-spotted backseat
Designed for muff diving and drive-in sex —
Which struggled decades of crying, pooping babies
And catered wedding anniversary parties later
To hold on when his wife’s heart and lungs could not.

From a distance, in the spare kitchen,
The usually silent telephone rings,
And he leans toward the loops in anticipation,
Breathing as if reborn a new man,
Or being fitted for an elegant new suit
An hour before cabbing across town
To reunite with a cherished friend
Dressed in her slimming black, strapless gown
For a five-course meal and foreplay’s zeal
Topped by popped and poured libation.

Having caught up on two lifetimes,
And, like a spring gale, turned a new leaf,
He kneels at the hearth, groveling to God,
Whose meaning he could not grasp
While drowning in mind-numbing grief.
Heat from crackling wood extends to wrinkled skin
As to his will does the long-awaited chance
To reclaim The One who had got away
A split second before his wife returned a week late
From a girlfriends’ men-bashing holiday.

His weathered visage glows in the firelight
As he realizes that his lonely plight
Has ended and his fickle fate is tied
With that of the two parkside lovers.
Withered lips warm to a wide smile
Despite crowns from failed dental wars —
The least of his disclosed flaws
For the rekindled blaze sketches
Upon his crinkled paper a spirited dance,
Orange halos on rescued smudges of romance.

 

 

© 2012-2015 Chantale Rêve
All Rights Reserved

Cul-de-Sac

2014/10/14


And to clear things up –

Before the lump in my throat

Grows any larger,

Blocking my airway,

Causing a stroke –

small broken heart clip art

I just want to say

I intended no harm

By shaking off sorrow

At her grim memorial,

But she was my mother

Safely dead in sealed casket.

Could she spy on my sadness?

small broken heart clip art

If I offended frail sensibilities

By forgoing self-pity,

Commiseration in Chanel black,

By wearing neon-bright colors,

My pretense of composure

Framed in lacy frivolity,

I apologize belatedly

For not appeasing my elders.

small broken heart clip art

But, really, all these decades later,

I wonder if they realize

Now that I was only a child,

Heart heavy with new burden,

Tears like a clown’s disguised

As popcorn-puffed entertainment.

small broken heart clip art

Once home, the circus over,

I put away my makeup,

Slamming the cabinet,

Shattering its mirror

And caught my pained expression.

In shards of glass below me

Distorting my reflection.

I imagined jagged razors

Ripping me from numbness,

Adding to the tally

Of coffin-tight secrets –

A cul-de-sac of repression.

small broken heart clip art

Growing up sheltered,

Suburban normalcy

Couldn’t prepare for the bomb

Dropped on our perfect family.

Terminal sentence looming,

Queen of the house arrested,

We were guilty by association

Like reeking of secondhand smoke

From a funny cigarette

That might have eased suffering

From aggressive breast cancer.

small broken heart clip art

I was fifteen years young,

Embarrassed by death,

Bereft of coping skills,

Complicit in the depth

Of a widower’s grief,

A father come undone.

Where did my youth go?

small broken heart clip art

Overnight made a woman,

I sought divine mercy

For a pass/fail grade,

In a crash course in courage,

A detour on the road

To self-discovery.

small broken heart clip art

I screamed!

That’s all I had to do.

And then,

I caught my breath

Effortlessly,

Like trapeze artists

Tumbling in the air

High above a sturdy net,

Pretending to defy

Certain death.

small broken heart clip art small broken heart clip art small broken heart clip art


Copyright © 2010 By Chantale Reve


A 1920s golliwog perfume bottleLately I’d been thinking heavily on various connotations of the word pick as a verb and as a noun and, within those grammatical forms, in familiar phrases. Positive contexts include: draft pick, pick of the litter, pick-me-up. … You get the picture. Negative connotations include: pickup artist, pickpocket, pick on and picky. Picket can be neutral or not, and pondering its emotive shades reminds me of the Cha-Cha Slide: positive if one’s politics lean to the left, negative if they lean to the right.

Then, unaware of the button on my remote gliding through channels like a planchette on an Ouija board, I tuned into a show on the Discovery Channel titled “Auction Kings.” It was a séance of a worldly kind, for over the next hour I would learn that contemporary usage of the word picker elevates manual labor to the fascinating realm of collecting. Antiques and vintage-articles, that is. Not only did my triple-pierced ears prick up with each cha-ching! during the auction at program’s end, but also I discovered something mo’ betta: the treasure inside.

First, allow me to rewind. The prince among the “Auction Kings,” the twentysomething son of the owner of a consignment company and auction house — Gallery 63 in Atlanta — tries to convince his dad to incorporate picking into their family business. (For collectors, picking means finding items to resell in the second market through retail and/or auction outlets.) Apparently, he’s a long way from fully understanding the business, for after he explains to his pops that picking would enable their company to keep one hundred percent of the profits, pops in turn warns him that if an item doesn’t sell, there’s a one hundred percent loss. Later in the episode, however, the son learns to heed daddy’s advice when a document described on-line as “a slave warrant” (issued by a slaveowner for the return of, in this case, “[his] Negro slave child”) is determined to be the nineteenth-century version of a police report. Son’s jaw drops upon his visit to a local appraiser specializing in historical documents, who quotes fifty bucks rather than any price near the two hundred smackaroos he paid the shrewd, albeit unscrupulous, on-line seller.

Cautionary tale? Sure, but that’s not where I’m headed. Besides, it’s common sense not to spend lots of money on-line or by phone on antiques and vintage items because one has no way to see and handle them — as at an auction preview — let alone have appraisers in the various fields authenticate the items. I’m pointing out the slavery document because what the appraiser in “Auction Kings” tells sonny boy raised my dark eyebrows and sent my big behind shifting in my vintage Queen Anne chair: He says the slaveowner’s “deposition” (apparently not a police report, as described earlier in the episode) isn’t worth much because it falls under “historical curiosities.”

For centuries Black people have been — not were, for We still are — considered historical curiosities. So I eased up and leaned back in my creaky chair mulling over the word picker again. For some reason the phrase cotton picking mind popped into my antiques-picking one, and that’s when a Discovery Channel moment helped me discover the treasure inside of myself — buried treasure that you too can mine. So, tuck your plastic and/or billfold in your jacket or purse, pack your blacklight and get to picking, for you could be an estate sale or flea market away from bartering historical finds for cold hard cash.

Collecting U.S. slavery documents and artifacts and/or slave-made art, as well as slavery-era items that often are advertised on-line and in print as “Black Americana” or “Black memorabilia” shouldn’t be perceived as a field ripe for picking only by Civil War enthusiasts. We as Black people of the African Diaspora — and I am referring to those of Us who identify as Black not out of convenience or wigganess but in total consciousness and love — would do well to school Ourselves and each other on picking as it relates to converting articles into wealth. You talk about reparations? Maybe the closest We can come to that is via the world of collecting.

Once We were forced onto the shores of Brazil (more Blacks there than in the United States), the Caribbean, Central America and the American colonies — having been triangularly traded for sugarcane, rum, etc. — We continued to be whipped and chained into submission. (Quentin, I’m giving you the finger. These days when I mention “Django,” my listener thinks I’m referring to your “western,” when I’m waxing jazzical about Reinhardt. Don’t even get me started on when I mention “Benson.”) During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade Europe grew materially richer; Africans’ various skills were exploited. For example, those of us from agricultural areas were forced to grow, among many staples, rice. This is why in the supermarket aisle I, a person of Gullah ancestry, frown at the face of Uncle Ben and gag at the skyward prices of long-grain rice. What’s wilder is that We Africans picked cotton, tobacco — all kinds of crops — for no pay! In kitchens from plantation to plantation, We fixed meals for white folks while Our babies cried in wooden shacks out yonder, waiting for Us to prepare them some yummy scraps of this and that. Those leftovers are now called soul food — and I’m not referring to gourmet fare such as braised chitterlings with shallots in garlic butter, or sautéed catfish à l’aïoli.

[Don’t preach to this sista ’bout her toutin’ lard when France ingeniously has raised foie gras to cult status for European and American snobs. (As for Asia, Japan doesn’t get off easily, either: auctioning off gargantuan tunas for tens of thousands of dollars in order to fashion them into sushi art.) Raising geese organically and force-feeding them only to slaughter them for their fat livers? Succulent, n’est-ce pas? Tasty — really?]

If you’ve reached this paragraph, you’re probably angry as hell — and not about the fetishistic murder of geese. Goose! I mean good! Now, if you really want to be down, turn that energy into action. No, I don’t mean only picketing, for We’ll be battling descendants of white slaveowners forever. In my family, they won’t even come to the picnic table — for a real family reunion. And that brings me back to discussing those Black Americana items. …

By no means am I suggesting that We Black folks should collect only Black Americana. We are connected by recent historical experience but also to other human experience and to Planet Earth. In other words, there are numerous things that We may wish to collect: from stamps, historic letters and books; paintings, photographs and posters; to baseball cards, bobble heads and comic books; dolls, watches and clocks. Many of these material objects vibrate with echoes of human stories and can cast spells on the picker with deep pockets. The trick is really a social art, that of haggling — hey, they practiced it at the slave markets all-those-not-that-many-years-ago (the reason I flinch, as if scourged, when I see a brotha smiling on the block in a bachelor auction. What price booty? NOT!)

As at open-air markets throughout the world, even those of Us who are cash-poor can find objects to collect or flip (like comic genius Wilson in his Geraldine wig) at estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, garage sales, stoop sales, street fairs, bazaars at numerous types of venues, and, yes, on-line. However, by highlighting collecting Black Americana — from mammy toaster covers and Aunt Jemima clocks to runaway-slave posters and slaves’ dog tags and shackles — I’m drawing your attention to the irony of Us collecting items that, for the most part, were created to dehumanize Us.

There’s a plethora of categories of Black memorabilia intended to be derisive in addition to demoralizing. Screw the old standby, the coffee table book (though The Big Penis Book always catches a visitor’s eye in my home — why I added that rider to my renter’s insurance policy). What better conversation pieces than the following symbols of Black Americana: boxes of toothpaste displaying sambo images (to prove to non-Blacks that they too could brush to the rhythm of a dang-good shoeshine until their choppers gleamed, though without that “darkie” pop!); grinning or passive-eyed mammy figurines (both attitudinal types complete with kerchief, apron and flour-sack tits); a topsy-turvy doll (because even guests would agree as the cocktails multiply that hiding under every Black chick’s skirt is a white chick); and glossy-black, red-tire-lipped lawn jockeys for Black homeowners (to start the conversation before guests ring the doorbell). C’mon now, isn’t it time that We had the last laugh?

Hell yeah, I’m talking about Us displaying these offensive items in Our curio-cabinets, on shelves and whatnot (not hidden in trunks and closets), so that We never forget and so that we can remind visitors to Our homes, wherever We reside: rural towns, suburbs and inner cities — the latter from Compton, Chicago’s South Side, Brownsville, North Philly and Newark to the favelas of Brazil, Haiti and South Africa. In whose hands better to land than Ours, but each of Us needs to cherish the treasure inside — our love and respect for, and gratitude to, Our long-suffering African ancestors and, by extension, the pride in Ourselves and the unconscious but magnetic yearning for our Mother-Land?

As for the “family business” all-capped in the title of this essay, instead of me and you and Us sitting around watching others, including the descendants of U.S. slaveowners, become wealthy or wealthier on wonderful TV programs such as “Antiques Roadshow,” “Market Warriors,” “Pawn Stars,” “American Digger” (an entire episode of which — “Unearthing Controversy” [2012: Season 1, Episode 9] — focused on slavery artifacts excavated from a young South Carolinian couple’s backyard on the site of a former cotton plantation), “Auction Hunters” and “Auction Kings” — on which they often flaunt family heirlooms such as Confederate flags and rifles and sterling silver platters that Our foremothers and forefathers shined with as much perspiration as polish — let Us create family businesses with each of Our extended families. To cultivate the new family businesses, We could pool the monies earned after picking and reselling and/or auctioning.

From trust funds to consignment companies to (egad!) Black-owned auction houses (yeah, “egad” — just because I’m Black doesn’t mean I can’t collect vintage Archie comics), a larger-concept Family Business is one in which stashes of cash are invested into a vehicle that can make literal reparations in the U.S. South possible. Hmmm … Mi-humpback humpback-i-humpback humpback-i-humpback humpback-i sounds like the first state for picking. Or maybe South Carolina; in the aforementioned “American Digger” episode, there was another white family whose backyard was a graveyard of slavery artifacts, but the matriarch refused to let the pickers excavate out yonder. She didn’t hold back on ignorance, recommending that history be left alone. Hmmm, I wonder how much her family racked up at the pawn shop in the days, weeks and months after that taping. Buried secrets, my ass. Your, my, Our African surnames of the distant past — they’re buried secrets … to Our identities!

Unlike the tight-lipped woman of the house in S.C., not all of Us have inherited an ancestor’s pot to cook with or piss in — as for the latter, porcelain potties (with or without an antique wooden chair that has retained its awesome patina) — because so few of Us have documented proof that We are legitimate descendants of Europeans. Here, I’m referring to specificity, not the results of genetics testing showing European admixture. The day has not yet arrived when, at least in the U.S., land of the hushed-about “one-drop rule” or “one-drop theory,” possibly up to twenty-five percent of the white population — a.k.a. legitimate descendants of Europeans — go around bragging about their Sub-Saharan African admixture.

For those whites in the U.S. who are really Blacks hiding in plain sight but are ready to come out bolder than Jesse Collins, I say: Tain’t no Mardi Gras; unmask yourselves and embrace your Blackness! And while you’re at it, share some of those family heirlooms with Us, your bloodbrothas and -sistas. But alas, the truth in the tragic romance of Kate Chopin’s “Désirée’s Baby,” a key short story in American literature, unfortunately (for those of Us out in the open as Black and bearing the scars from both the hata camp and, unconsciously, the wigga camp) will remain fiction. Why? America will not allow one of its darkest truths — that millions of white people continue to “pass” as white through the generations — to emerge in the light of day.

Enough with this pseudosociological dissertation. Let’s start picking each other’s brains. In the names of Our ancestors — who laid down blueprints for Our future in the midst of Their private and public pain but also Their private and public triumphs — let’s really make it rain!

© 2013 Chantale Rêve
All Rights Reserved

Photo Caption:  Example of a golliwog perfume bottle from the 1920s

Photo Source:  Wikipedia


Woman Behind Flowers

Afro DivaWoman With Medusa Style Hair

 

 

For readers and voyeurs of the Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah Blog who think Chantale is too damned serious, this one’s for you:  rewritten lyrics parodying Black women’s perpetual hair battles and their repercussion in the workplace and, more importantly, in the bedroom – or both, for the friskier (read:  riskier) among Us.

 

 

“Hair Biz”

by

Tiana Irie


Flashback, who’s wack?

“10” bitch shoulda known that

Pam Grier woulda owned it

Like the rack above her ribs.

 

Who screamed “da Sheen!”

I’m not talkin’ Charlie

Or the late Bob Marley

But the latter’s got ma love

 

Now don’tchu have no doubt

I’m gonna stomp and shout

Until I sweat ma press ‘n curl.

 

Hair talkin’ floats ma boat

And I just wanna note

That inside Africa’s alive!

 

I’m talkin’ hair biz to ya, bayBEH

Hair-hair biz

I’m talkin’ love – that is

That is, that is

 

I’m talkin’ hair biz to ya, baybee

Hair-hair biz

I’m talkin’ love –

Hair biz, hair biz, hair biz

 

 

[Rap Intro]

Whassyoname, love?

Madame C.J. Walker?

 

Well, they call me Slick

 

Now, don’t leak all over me (heh-heh-heh-heh)

 

 [Sung]

I’mmmm

Taaaalkin’

Hair biz

 

I’m talkin’ hair biz to you-ou

 

 

I’mmmm

Taaaalkin’

Hair biz

 

I’m talkin’ hair biz to you-ou

 

[Rap – Edited Version]

 

Baby, whasshappenin’

I’m between relaxers.

I know of many sistas given grief and so they take to the scissors.

I heard the rumors ’bout ma mixed textures

But I don’t fall in debt on weaves.

Happy with “knotty,” “kinky” or “nappy” –

Long as I keep my dignity.

So can you dig it while we speak a while

About getting locked up in self-love

Cos no matter how straight tresses come and go 

 Hairy gossip can’t crimp ma style.

That’s what I’m talkin’, behbeh,

Hair biz

   Hair biz …

 

(Original Song:  “Square Biz” by Teena Marie)

* * *

“Relapse”

by

 Fannie Goes Straight to Avoid Wood

 

 

[Cue the synthesizers: bowm, bowm, BOWM]


Relax!

Just do it

 If your Afro pick’s through, yeah.

Relax!

Just do it

If you want the job.

 

Relax!

Just do it

If you cannot comb through it.

Relax!

Just do it

If you want the job.

 

Relax!

Just do it

Or you’ll have to suck to it.

Relax!

Just do it.

 Straight hair or bossman’s cum.

 

Relax!

Jump to it

Unless you’d like to unglue it.

Relax!

Don’t screw him.

He’ll find another bone.

 

Relax!

Just do it

Wavy-smooth or you’ll blow it.

Relax!

Jump to it

If you want the joooob

If you want the joooob

If you want the joooob

If you want the joooob …

COMMMMMMMMMB

 

(Original song:  “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood)

* * *

  

 

“Grazing in the ‘Kitchen’ ”

by

Cousins of Extinction

 

[Chorus]  I can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / She can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / They can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it

Oh, let’s wig-it

(baritone) Can you wig-it, baybeh?

 

I can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / She can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / They can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it

              Oh, let’s wig-it               

(first tenor) Can you WIG-it, BAYbeh?

 

[Bridge]  Every new growth you can see, gotta hide it

Everything smooth is all right, shout about it

                                                                                     

And it’s reallllllllllllllll

So real, so real, so real, so real

Though you bought it

Woo-hooohhhh!

 

[Chorus]  I can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / She can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / They can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it

Oh, let’s wig-it

[baritone] Can you wig-it, baybeh?

                                     

I can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / She can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it / They can wig-it, wig-it, wig-it

  Oh, let’s wig-it

[first tenor] Can you WIG-it, BAYbeh?

 

 

(Original song:  “Grazing in the Grass” by The Friends of Distinction)

 * * *

“If It’s Too Thick”

by

K.Y. Loeb

 

 

If it’s too thick

Don’t force it

Just relax and letitgo

Cos, look, that’s how they wannit

Bone-straight, flowin’ out tha do’

 

 

(Original song:  “If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It” by Kellee Patterson)

 

 

 

* * *

“Baby, It’s Frizzin’ Out There”

by

The Fu-Aqua Nets

 

Don’t let me go outside

In the rain

Cos, boy, I’d rather hide

From the rain–ain-ain-ain

 

 

(Original song:  “In the Rain” by The Dramatics)

* * *

 

 

“Doo Rag, Baby”

by

Priscilla

 

 

Here we are,

Not a kinky strand between us

Lucky our hair just lays right down

You want my wavy stuff like I want yours

So make a scarf of my gown.

 

Fling it, baby

Spritz me all over

Palm me with pomade love

 

Your Dax been teasin’ me for far too long

Hottie, you know,

 Good hair’s what wet dreams

Are made of

 

Doo rag, baby

Like you never tied before

Oh, give it to me

Work that nylon, boy, once more.

 

C’mon, doo rag, baby

Fasten tighter than before

Ooh, I want it now

Snatch one from my bottom drawer

 

 

(Original song:  “Do Me, Baby” by Prince)

 

 

* * *

  

 

“Missing Hair”

by

The South Side Lacefronts

 

 

[Bridge] Why-y-y, oh-h-h why-y-y-y

Didn’t I just weave it and walk away-y-y-y

Now I must pay-y-y-y-y.

 

It’s been used,

Flung when flings were over –

Now it’s lo-o-o-o-ost!

Year’s salary, lo-o-o-o-ost!

 

[Chorus] Oh, I searched every surface in my trailer home

In the tub, even on the vibrator

Have you seen it (my wig)

Tell me, have you seen it (tell her that I love her)

 

 

(Original song:  “Have You Seen Her” by The Chi-Lites)

* * *

 

“Hooked on Your Gloved Love”

by

The Baldwin Sistas


That singed-hair smell

Gives me happy thoughts of you-u-u-u (yeah, babe)

I’m so turned on by conkin’ –

And your greasy sheets, too (oh-oh, baby).

 

 

[Bridge] You free the other woman in me (ah-hai-hai-hai)

Blonde, brunette,

Cain’t you see-ee?

I like the way you tug and tease,

Say, “Ooh, baby, take me

And drop to your knee-hee-hee-hees”

 

What can I do

With this weave all

Hooked on your gloved love, gloved love

 

(Uhm-hmm-hmm-YEH!)

 

What can I do (unh)

With this weave all

Hooked on your gloved love, gloved love

(Hooks a-clingin’, yeh-yeh-yeh)

 

What can I do (ooh-baby)

With this weave all

Hooked on your gloved love, gloved love

 

 

[Bridge] Eh-h-h-heh, every day

Nothin’ to be rad about

Eh-h-h-heh, nothin’ to smear on the lye about –

 

I like the way we get it o-o-o-o-on

Don’t you understand my weavin’, baby

Just beweave in me (oo-oohhh-ohh-yeh)

 

[Chorus] What can I do (whatcanIdo, baby)

With this weave all

Hooked on your gloved love, gloved love

 

(I hear you, yell-yell-yell)

What can I do, baby 

[Repeat chorus, ad-libs to fade]

 

 

(Original song:  “Hooked on Your Love” by Curtis Mayfield, sung by Aretha Franklin on the original soundtrack album for Sparkle)

 

* * *

“The Tracks of My Fears”

by Ajun Extensions

[chorus]  So take a good look at  the trace

Of naps I’ve pulled away from my face

A frozen smile feigns my warm embrace of

The tracks of my fears (ooh-hoo-oo-oo-oo-hoo)

 

(Original song:  “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)

 

*    *    *    *    *

 

This hair-raising post is dedicated to these ladies and the gentlemen among them:

 

Wendy Williams and RuPaul, because if you’ve got the disposable income to buy more wigs than a doll manufacturer or an opera company, life can never be a drag;

Vivica Fox, because she was ingenious enough to create her own wigs and, judging by the million faces of Eve on eBay, she’s making it rain – oh, sorry, wrong expression for Us sistas when the hair’s the money-making thing;

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, because she’s so damned pretty and such an underrated actress;

Oprah Winfrey, because there wouldn’t be any be-wigged or natural-haired sistas executive-producing and hosting their own TV talk shows with amazing longevity if it weren’t for her (I mean: Herprah).  Damn that Oprah, who set the bar so high that only a trapeze artist can achieve that kind of fame — and with a safety net;

Whoopi Goldberg, because — besides reigning as a Queen of Comedy and a wonderful comedic and dramatic actress — she rocks the locks without an eyebrow in sight like no one else;

Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Terry McMillan, because they are some of my favorite authors and make that certain age look fabulous from head to foot;

Ja’net DuBois as lovable gossip and sistafriend “Willona Woods” on the hit sitcom “Good Times,” because whether she was stylin’ in an Afro wig or one of many short, perky straight-hair wigs, she knew how to make her hair dance high above those neck rolls and eyerolls whenever John Amos as “James Evans” would toss a love-hate quip her way;

Angela Bassett, because when she donned that long brunette wig in portraying Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It and did the charley horse or cake walk or whatever those hot pony moves with the Ikettes were, I  totally forgot she was Angela Bassett — which, of course, was the point;

Viola Davis, because no matter how she switches it up – natural hair or wig – she’s beautiful and a kick-ass actress who’s finally getting her due;

India.Arie, just for singing “I Am Not My Hair” – and for affirming the intoxicating sensuality of Palms Cocoa Butter Formula (plug, plug – give me my money!) in her midtempo love song “Cocoa Butter”;

Jayne Kennedy, because she was foxy as a sports journalist and a go-go girl on “Laugh-In” and still got it goin’ own-annn-annn-own-annn-own-annn-OWN (plug for Oprah totally inadvertent or simply subliminal [watch “Oprah Prime”]); and

Flip Wilson as “Geraldine,” because, back in the day, “she” was the It girl, working those wigs and some characters’ last nerve, sucka.

 

 

There are so many more dedications I’d love to make, but time doesn’t permit.
First published on the Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah Blog on October 7, 2013

 

© 2013 Chantale Rêve

All Rights Reserved

 

 

All Photos:  www.publicdomainpictures.net

 


Cotton from Mary Frances

Cotton from Mary Frances (Photo credit: Midpath)

Talk about irony.  First Blacks — well, We was coloreds back then — were forced to pick the cotton.  Now We can’t even take photos of the cotton.  WTF? you ask. Yeah, well, it’s a cryin’ shame.  Seems actor couple Cherie Johnson and Dennis White stopped their car on a South Carolina road, en route to a respite in Myrtle Beach, to snap pix of cotton in a vast field of the white fluffy stuff.  Next up pulled a sheriff, who grilled them in the hot Southern sun about drugs that were not in their possession, rifled through belongings in their car, handcuffed them, accused Ms. Johnson of petty larceny (a charge later dropped) and then issued a citation for “Other.”  Again, you ask:  WTF?

Soft in the head, sure.   The South Carolina Sheriffs Department also has got to be out of its cotton-pickin’ mind.   (The film Deliverance comes to mind; just substitute a car for a canoe — and a camera for a bow and arrow.)  We’ve heard of the vehicular version of racial profiling:  DWB (“Driving While Black,” for those readers who aren’t Black, or have never been a passenger in a car driven by a Black person).  Now the media has introduced to the massas, I mean, masses, the botanic version of racial profiling:  PCWB (“Picking Cotton While Black”).

Scratching my head, which is as soft as cotton.  So let me get this straight as hair smeared with Dark & Lovely lye:  It was cool for coloreds to stoop to pick the cotton as slaves — when we did it for free — and, later, as tenant farmers, but now we can’t take photos of it?  The absurdity of those facts and the ugliness of the physical violation and psychological torture of actors Cherie Johnson and Dennis White are causing my fingertips to bleed like those of my Black forefathers and Black foremothers who toiled in those cotton fields and were considered chattel — possessions no more important than farm animals — in the agro-rich South.

But what to do?  Boycott the ubiquitous natural fiber the very enunciation of which triggers downy comforts?  I’m not exactly ready to toss out my Q-tips and T-shirts, my billowy sheets and snuggly fleece.  While I wouldn’t mind opting for nylon undies over cotton ones, I can think of a few products for which there currently are no substitutes.  Let’s face it:  It’s hard to avoid such a versatile material from the plant world.

As for photographing plants by the side of the road — yes, we Americans of all colors have the right to seize the moment and the day!  I say:  Shoot the cotton like a paparazzo!  Shut off the A/C on the approach to whatever-the-fuck road We meander onto in some small town way below the Mason-Dixon Line.  Whip out that zoom lens to capture that priceless image of cotton.  Cotton that pricked the sides of African slaves running on blistered soles on the way to freedom. Cotton running free.  Cotton, cotton everywhere.

Hell, white landowners and their henchmen used to whip Us if We refused to pick the cotton.  When We complied and picked the cotton, We got flogged anyway.  You know, to hell with boycotting cotton.  Out, out with all my belts and riding crops.  Regarding the latter:  Yeah,  like I’ll ever ride a real horse after the first time, when my steed peed for an eternity and then decided to speed through the friggin’ forest.  And they called it a “company outing” intended for “team building.” A lot of hooey.  Hell, it was nearly company-sanctioned murder.  When my incontinent Mister Ed realized his buddies a mile ahead, he made up for lost time. He must’ve mistaken the Poconos for Sleepy Hollow and me for the Headless Horseman because he was giddying up and I was screaming like a whore in a horror flick.  No, in case you’re wondering, I didn’t know that yelling my head off would spook the horse.  Some bonding experience.  My co-workers were guffawing, their laughter bordering on bawling and echoing through the woods.  Of course, they too had signed away their lives with nervous smiles before donning those brain buckets.

Hmmm … Methinks I’ll boycott dude ranches but only after anything I associate with riding crops, including:  S&M clubs; Spanx in any color; DVDs of Indiana Jones, Batman Returns and Catwoman; and any Madonna videos made prior to 2000.

 

 

©2013 Chantale Rêve

All Rights Reserved

Using a cotton picker machine

Using a cotton picker machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Fifty Shades Trilogy: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed 3-volume Shrink Wrapped

Confession, sans restraints:  EL JamesFifty Shades of Grey trilogy (pictured above) was aiiiight.  Nearly sixty years after Story of O, Pauline Réage’s palpable words pique the senses and rev up the imagination.  Part I of FSOG  sucked harder than Anastasia Steele’s virginal lips on … well, y’know.  The kinkiest thing about James’ protag is her first name, which conjures up steely anal ecstasy.  On the flip side, her name approximates anesthesia when the reader finds herself drowning in a sea of first-person pronouns, swept toward the void of unconsciousness. Enough about the subjective, objective and obsessive …

In the case of Darker — Part II of FSOG — it was my fave, but by the end of Part III, hell, I was ready to be “freed.”  Who cares? you may be pondering at the moment.  Myyyyy blog didn’t get picked up and transformed into global bestsellers.  Yeah, I’m feelin’ you.  The point of this blog post, though, is:  Now I’m bummed that someone other than hottie Simon Baker (Charlie Hunnam, for some inexplicable reason) has been cast as “Christian Grey” in the upcoming film adaptation to be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson.  The Twilight chick, Kristen Stewart, would’ve been perfectly pale as the alabaster porcelain doll, Anal — I mean, Ana.  Damn, where is my mind tonight?  Up my a…

As I had started to explain, one would’ve had to be comatose for at least ten years not to know who Simon Baker is — in the U.S. anyway.  Baker has had two great dramatic series on U.S. television since 2001:  first, “The Guardian,” then “The Mentalist,” the latter of which is still going strong.  A man doesn’t sport sexually menacing, thick eyebrows like George C. Scott’s and not be able to administer ritualistic physical discipline.  No, I’m not hitting below the belt; in my fantasy, Baker is wielding one.  (Make that two.)  Just as yummy James Spader of yuppie-eighties-movies fame nailed his “Mr. Gray” persona (as well as Maggie Gyllenhaal’s title character) in 2002’s indie Master-“piece,” Secretary, Baker would’ve been an obvious … dare I say it … fit as sadistic businessman “Grey.”

On film Beefcake’s, err, Baker’s “Christian” (yeah, the irony) seduced Anne Hathaway’s geeky-Mod character, “Andy,” then committed a BUI (bedding under the influence) in the 2006 comedy The Devil Wears Prada, which featured another tall, bushy-browed hunk, Adrian Grenier of HBO’s hit bromance comedy series “Entourage,” which itself satirized millennial nouveau riche excess of a wannabe A-list actor and his amigos in Los Angeles.  In the romantic drama Something New (2006), Baker literally shined as “Brian,” Sanaa Lathan’s blind-date-turned-spouse (after much fucking with, and mental fucking by, Lathan’s cynical buppie princess, “Kenya”).  As for the queasily anticipated film Fifty Shades of Grey:  fifty lashes for the casting director!

When one considers the hypocrisy of sexual repression in America and all the post-Code gratuitous sex in commercial films, all the hype about the retooling of a British-authored BDSM-themed literary trilogy amounts to droplets of premature ejaculate.  I don’t see Hollywood remaking (Americanizing) an arthouse erotic film such as Last Tango in Paris or In the Realm of the Senses — because its capitalistic elite doesn’t have the balls of independent auteurs.  In a society plagued with high rates of teen pregnancies, divorces, drug- and gang-related murders — not to mention astronomical levels of homophobia — releasing an R-rated commercial movie about an alternative sexual lifestyle’s complex eroticism in the guise of modern romance, has BDSM taking on another meaning:  “Big, Damn, Stupid Mistake.”  Forget thumbs; I’m betting on giving this flick a clit down.

© 2013 Chantale Rêve

All Rights Reserved

Simon Baker stars in Sanaa Lathan Comic-Con 2011.jpg

Above, left:  Actor Simon Baker in a still from the 2006 romantic comedy Something New  (Photo Source:  Focus Features)

Above, right:  Actress Sanaa Lathan at San Diego’s Comic-Con in 2011  (Photo Source:  Wikipedia.org   Photographer:  Gage Skidmore)


When I hear the term “fair-skinned,” passed from white people — who also use that term among whites who are a far cry from “olive” — to Us through the centuries, I want to emit a primal scream. What are We predominantly brown-complexioned Black people? Unfair-skinned? I don’t have the energy to tackle subliminal racism in the English language — from phrases such as black comedy to words such as blackmail — because I need to do my part in eradicating the perpetual self-hatred that We as Black people express each time We utter a colorist remark.

Congrats to OWN for airing, tonight, the excellent, poignant and wonderfully controversial film documentary titled Dark Girls,
produced and directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry. Two hours didn’t seem enough time to delve into the history of color bias and the contemporary issues, but the filmmakers deserve the highest praise for addressing the unfair treatment of darker-brown-complexioned people and for examining how some Black (non-Latino and Latino) men select women based on their shades of Blackness. Profiles aren’t only among academics; everyday people are shown voicing their perceptions and experiences. Often it’s painful to listen to how horrible Our ebony women were and are treated by other Black women and by Black men, but listen We must.

Nearly four centuries after slavery washed ashore in what is now the U.S.A., We as Black people (Black as signified politically, socially, psychically and existentially) continue to extol the positives of being on the lighter end of the color spectrum, and especially when the natural hair texture is soft and wavy or straight. Don’t even get me started with the whole hypocritical argument about weaves — that is, pitted against relaxers. (Sistas, chill. White females and other non-Blacks wear weaves, clip-ons, wigs, and many of them relax and perm their hair, too. If they’re self-hating, they’re not trashing each other in front of Us.)

We still identify one another in conversation according to color — for example, “You know the girl, the one with Alicia Keys’ complexion,” “Yeah, that dark-skinned dude,” etc., ad nauseam. Tougher to fight against will be stopping each other from teasing the Black classmate or co-worker who “talks like a white girl,” or “is too proper.” Helloooo, it’s called sounding educated. Got a problem with that? Then stay in school, and You too will have more-important issues to examine. Education is a tool, a weapon, and this Black woman — no matter how Eurocentric my education was, from grammar school to college, and no matter where I choose to travel, and no matter how many times I change my hair texture — is a fuckin’ warrior. I am free.

Also, however, I am quite concerned about future generations of Black children of all sexes where, among many issues, positive self-image is concerned. As for the current generation of young Black women everywhere in this world, I have great empathy for the poisonous tendrils of colorism that sting their human connections — especially during dating rituals. It would torture my soul if one of my younger female relatives were to tell me that some dude told her she was too dark to introduce to his parents/parent. That shit happened to me years ago; dude knew me biblically but said I couldn’t meet his momma because, to paraphrase him: She only likes “light-skinned” girlfriends that previously he had presented to her. It was a contemporary version of the paper bag test. Hmmm, it was summertime; I must’ve tanned. What a shame that he didn’t expose his inherited colorism soon after we were introduced; it was like I had been sleeping with the enemy for a year.

Black men deal with the colorist nonsense too; above I’m just giving a Black female POV — not the only one. However, some young Black men play their own negative roles in perpetuating colorism. For example, as several Black men in the 21-35 age demographic revealed in Dark Girls, they believe that selecting a mate by her color/shade of Blackness — aside from behavior and personality traits — will determine their children’s colors/shades of Blackness. What a shame that they (and Black women with the exact or similar beliefs) don’t understand that all of both parents’ genes come to the pool party. While biologically it’s rare for, say, two ebony parents to produce a baby that could be mistaken for white, it can happen. On the other hand, there are many instances of two café au lait parents producing a baby whose complexion can range from theirs to ebony. Don’t believe me, think I’m shittin’ you? Take a look at Grandma or Grandpa (or both) — or photos if they’ve passed on — and if You have photos or other kinds of renderings of more-distant ancestors, such as great-grandparents, great-grand aunts and great-grand uncles, etc., examine them.

Unfortunately, many of Us have no physical images of — let alone documents about or from — extremely distant ancestors, to the ridiculousness (no-thanks to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade) of not knowing which countries constitute the first part of the appellation African American. Thus the Africa-centric brotha, though well-intentioned, who desires to sire some blue-black babies might not get them even if he were to mate with an obsidian-hued Maasai sista on a striped kanga under a Serengeti sunset.

So before We get upset every time a white person who has a Black grandchild or nephew, niece, etc., says, “He [She] is so gorgeous, with that olive complexion,” ignore his or her lack of consciousness about Your Blackness and dig Yourself. Remember: An olive tree may grow in Mediterranean soil that’s an echo’s distance from the African Continent, but an olive is still a damned fruit.

Back to the truth-time film documentary on OWN …

I really absorbed the messages in Dark Girls tonight. No little Black child should think that being Black signifies dirtiness, negativity, etc. Now will somebody write a film documentary about self-proclaimed U.S. Creoles who are Black? I don’t give three fucks that that L’Oreal ad claims Beyoncé is African American, French and Native American. To borrow from Loretta Devine’s character in Jumping the Broom, going tête-à-tête with Angela Bassett’s “Creole” character: “You’re Blaaaack! You’re Blaaaack!”

To quote the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, from a record I kept in heavy rotation as a very young girl: “Say it loud: I’mBlackandI’mproud!!!”

Sorceress in Heat

2013/06/18


Summers spent alone
Bring rainbow-sprinkled meltdowns,
Idle soft serve cones.

Copyright 2013 Chantale Rêve
All Rights Reserved


Never mind the strange names — “Chardonnay,” “Malik ‘El DeBarge’ Wright,” “Tee-Tee.”  BET’s The Game, now in Season 6, is a gamble worth taking.

It appears I didn’t get the memo that several characters are Black history: “Derwin ‘Ding Dong’ Davis” (played with Emmy-worthy virtuosity by Pooch Hall [pictured above]) and “Dr. Melanie Barnett-Davis” (played by Tia Mowry-Hardrict, unevenly at first — when she was still “Med School” — and then, too late in the game, with conviction).  Now I’m banking on the following actors to score touchdowns of a simulated-carnal nature:

  • vivacious series lead, Wendy Raquel Robinson, who steals the screen as manager “Tasha Mack” (single parent of Malik, who’s portrayed to mama’s-boy extremes by Hosea Chanchez);
  • new series regular Jay Ellis (ain’t nothin’ regular ’bout the brotha, lookin’ like a buffed-up, taller Larenz Tate) in the role of “Bryce ‘The Blueprint’ Westbrook” — “Derwin”‘s replacement as pro wide receiver for the San Diego Sabers football team;
  • gentle giant Rockmond Dunbar, portraying “Pookie,” former gangsta and Tasha Mack’s current love interest (after blasting her from their past — repeatedly — last season like a real hitman should); and
  • recurring guest star Rick Fox.

I hope the married creative duo of director Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil — creator of The Game — don’t disappoint this time. I’ll miss “Derwin”‘s Ding Dong — I mean, his teammates teasing him with that nickname — but I’ll welcome rejuvenated passion from the loins — er, lines of Wendy and Rick. Hopefully their characters will be scorching the sheets with grown ‘n sexy passion. I’ll take any excuse for Tuesday-night aromatherapy to handle the heat. Talk about potent chemistry. Not that Wendy/”Tasha” and Rockmond/”Pookie” don’t possess it. After all, Rockmond’s got that gleaming dome that would make any woman want to sing Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean at the moment of climax.

And if Rick manages to outfox “Pookie,” and the latter gets written off the show, there’s always the porn route. Imagine the pussibilities: I Cream for Genie, Jackin’ the Beanstalk, Nights of Cabeza (in the Foreign Tongues category), Cocktale, and the one to rise above contenders for AVN Awards: The Sure-Shaft Redemption.

[Note to the real RICK … FOX (with your fiiiiine self): Avoid “Single Ladies” — your eroticism would be wasted. While LisaRaye was hot on that show, your chemistry with her fell flatter than a reverse boob job.]

Elsewhere on The Game … Newcomer Lauren London (as “Kiera Whitaker”), though a comely addition to the show, has got to bring it dramatically. Lips and hips aren’t enough — unless you’re Chaka Khan, but Lauren doesn’t yet have acting-wise what Chaka’s still got in lungpower. Is L.L. capable of delivering divaliciousness to the addiction that is The Game?

Although she already spouts more lines than tour de force Brandy Norwood (what’s up with that?!), L.L. could never embody “Chardonnay.” Head swiveling like a charmed cobra and Ferragamo shoes on her pedicured feet, Brandy as “Chardonnay” is the most effervescent player on The Game — after “TASHA” … “MACK.” No newcomer to TV series (“Moesha” was a sista, a one-name wonder that slapped down “Sister Sister” like a clap of thunder), the beauteous Brandy keeps it (and the show) real portraying “Chardonnay” as a hollaback girl gone glam.

Brandy sparkles in her limited role as sassy bartender married to cocky ex-jock “Jason Pitts.” Special guest star Coby Bell, as footballer-turned-sports-analyst “Jason,” sure is dreamy, strutting across the small screen like a big, stiff tawny dick. I wish that Coby’s “Jason” were a main character, rather than a “special guest star,” because, with Wendy Raquel Robinson’s “Tasha,” he anchors The Game in the satirical realm of dramedy. His sports broadcast often is hysterical, mostly because Coby is great at deadpanning. It’s good to see that he’s (“Jason” is) excellent at another kind of balling, a form of “exercise” (and for some, exorcism) — judging by the “pushups” he was doing on/in his beloved “Char” in Season 6’s opener.

Viewing tonight’s season kick-off, “The Blueprint I, The Blueprint II,” I was transfixed over the artsy freeze frames juxtaposed with Ciara‘s wayward catwalk, which would make a cop toss a Breathalyzer past any checkpoint. I’m a straight woman, but her gams had me leaning sideways like a bowling pin in a weak spare, though with the shocked expression of the broad aboard the doomed ship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard of Hitch’s Saboteur. Director Akil’s flashy aesthetic also was memorable as employed in last year’s well-cast but poorly re-envisioned remake of Sparkle.

That it took more than a decade to make after Aaliyah’s death does not instantly induct the updated Sparkle into the Black Cinema Hall of Fame. That our beloved Whitney Houston — whose music and acting career probably would’ve been resurrected after its release — never got to attend its premiere in her earthly form is what makes Sparkle 2012 matter. I may have purchased my ticket, but I didn’t buy the nonsense of three somewhat privileged, definitely sheltered, middle-class young Black women who really needed after-hours sleazy gigs to make money to get out of the … oh yeah, missing was the inner city and tenement home life — and the somewhat absent mother because she was a maid by day — of the iconic original film.

Back in the early ’70s, Hollis, Queens, the NYC suburb immortalized in Run-DMC’s “fried chicken and collard greens” line (but for this writer, legendary for the prominent White Castle on Hollis Boulevard), for all its middle-class folks, was grittier than the suburb in which the sisters in Sparkle 2012 reside. I recall that a bike ride home from that Hollis W.C. was like a death trap; my mother and I worried more about getting a flat tire and walking the rest of the way than getting sideswiped by a Pontiac. Back then there was no drive-thru at that White Castle, but drive-bys weren’t unheard of. So next to Hollis, Sister and Her Sisters were living in luxury.

While I’m bitchin’, also missin’ was a soundtrack as emotive and essentially Black and transcendent as Aretha Franklin’s collaborative magic with Curtis Mayfield, who was the maestro of the soundtrack (an urban heaven and hell conveyed through music). Every track on Aretha’s album (I loved her turban) was a gem — from “Jump,” with her trumpet-like gospel shouts, to “Hooked on Your Love,” with muted horns evoking Bacharach on the beach and the Queen of Soul’s sensual vocals bumpin’ with the bass under the boardwalk. Any references to junkies, smack and getting smacked around were lost on my tween self. But I donned my mother’s long satin gloves before the needle skidded to “Hooked on Your Love” and, swaying in front of the hallway mirror, struck a seductive pose each time Aretha and the backup ladies paused between “What can I do” and “with this feeling?”

No need to travel back to 1976, though. I’ll take En Vogue’s 1992 version of “Something He Can Feel” (the stunning video homage, too) over the macarena-like mechanics led by the anorexic-looking (in 2012’s Sparkle) Carmen Ejogo. Carmen’s lackluster performance and skeletal appearance didn’t live up to the exoticism that her name seemed to promise. She just made me run two flights down to the concession stand to buy another hotdog. I was glad to show my financial support for a Black-made and -cast film, but, daaaamn, those franks are expensive! I may not be able to sing worth a coughdrop, but I have no trouble giving him something he can feel. If only I could stop singing that old Ballpark franks jingle as I write this sentence. OK, I’m kidding. I’m really asking, “Where’s the beef?”

My beef, my disappointment, with Sparkle 2012 was precisely the reason that I didn’t publish a critique of it back in mid-August, when I had plunked down the twelve dollars to see it (twenty more for the hotdogs and beverages). I didn’t want to discourage people who perused my blog, and my faithful readers — people of all persuasions — from checking out and financially supporting the film. Heck, it took more than a decade for the movie to get made. However, nearly eight months later, it’s safe to say that Carmen Ejogo was better portraying Sarah “Sally” Hemings, mistress to Thomas Jefferson. What I didn’t hear during that TV miniseries but did notice in Sparkle 2012 was Carmen’s British accent. I could cite a long list of Black American actresses and singers who would’ve been appropos for the role. You know, it’s like the casting of Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors, Emma, etc. — friends kept swearing to me that she was English. Not even the more inclusive “British”; they had placed her birthplace firmly in England. Well, you know what they say about us Americans and geography. Meanwhile, I was countering my friends’ comments with, “She’s not just sliding through time portals; she’s slipping in and out of her fake British accents.” [An aside: I admire most Brits’ American accents — no matter which regional dialect — in film, though not as much as their natural accents. A few of my favorite British actors disguised as Americans in many films and TV programs: Idris Elba, Linus Roache, Kate Winslet and Rachel Weitz. But I would never accept anything but a ruggedly charming Scottish accent from still-sexy Sean “retired ‘007’” Connery!]

What was the casting head of Sparkle 2012 thinking? I challenge anyone reading this piece and shaking a finger at me right now to check out Lonette McKee‘s bold curves in the 1976 original. Sure, Irene Cara and Dwan Smith were pretty — as are Jordin Sparks in the title role and Tika Sumpter as “Deloris” (Tika’s gorgeous, resembling a Julia Barbie doll in the flesh, life right down [or up] to the Twist ‘N Turn legs circa 1967). Lonette was stunning, though. And nooooo, not because she was “light, bright and damn near white,” as that sickening phrase of colorists goes. Rather, Lonette had star written all over her face, body and attitude.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century …

Please, somebody write a kick-ass script for Tika Sumpter! Maybe if Tika had been cast as lead singer of the girl group, I would’ve found the Sparkle re-don’t more tolerable. (Almost nodding off in slow parts, I kept telling myself: Stay awake for Whitney. Stay awake for Whitney. I would’ve tried There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. But that may have proven too tempting, despite Payless penny loafers for ruby slippers.)

Sparkle 2012’s filmmakers took the original movie’s casting of a light-complexioned and biracial woman literally. What, figuring that such a move would be more bankable than switching it up for a change? Their choice promotes and perpetuates colorism. I noticed they didn’t leave the death-by-smack subplot in the story, yet they made the dark-complexioned sister (“Deloris,” IMO the prettiest of the siblings) the rebel. Ironically, Tika turned it out on The Game (Season 5) portraying … a substance-abuser. And she was priceless as “Jenna Rice.” Perhaps Tika, in the role of “Jenna,” never had a chance to win an NAACP Image Award for her unforgettable bump ‘n grind with and subsequent dumping by her “babe,” fellow alcoholic “Malik,” in Season 5’s closer, but her fallen supermodel was a long-legged study of pathos and empathy. “Jenna” was a prima donna who had robbed herself of her diamond tiara and never found the balance to keep it atop her pretty little head. I can’t prove whether the following was deliberate, but “Jenna”‘s wobbly gait near the end of Season 5: Episode 22 was the antithesis of Ciara’s killer strut through the corridors of the hotel in Season 6: Episode 1.

One more note about the lackluster Sparkle remake …

The filmmakers had the gall to kill off Mike Epps‘ serio-comic character. Really? Never mind that I can’t recall the showman’s name or that I found his Sambo behavior ill-placed (It bothers me that the 2012 film Sparkle appears to take place during the late ’60s, yet despite the emergence of the Black Power movement as symbolized by “Deloris”‘ Afro, Epps’ comedian emcee seems to be stuck in the Chitlin Circuit’s earlier era.) My point: these days, although we have progressed from murdering the Black character early on in a horror flick, we nevertheless depict people getting chainsawed and incinerated on screen. Yet we can’t display the consequences of intravenous drug use. Honestly?

Any non-genius could’ve imagined retaining the domestic-abuse and drug-abuse arc and updating “Sister”‘s demise by incorporating the devastating physical, emotional and psychological effects of AIDS. Back in ’76, AIDS wasn’t known or, if so, hadn’t yet been reported. Now the disease is still a pandemic — no matter how seldom the major news media mention that. And, yes, for those of you who haven’t yet viewed the original Sparkle on TVOne or on DVD, McKee’s “Sister” actually dies, and her gradual demise and her funeral feel realistic. On film nowadays, we show to exploitative effect the guns and gore, but a syringe and hyperdermic needle … naaahhh.

But back to The Game

I wish the writers of The Game would stop playing us and allow Brandy to saaaang. But, please keep on giving us those smoking lovemaking scenes between her “Chardonnay” and Coby’s “Jason.” And don’t even think about writing off the latter because, Mr. and Mrs. Akil, you will lose most of your viewership. You’re already taking a chance dropping your 18-34 demographic by cutting loose Pooch and Melanie. That would’ve been like writing off (releasing from the contract of) “Joan” and “Maya” (Tracee Ellis Ross and Golden Brooks) from your long-running sitcom “Girlfriends.” Damn, y’all, I know The Game‘s a spin-off of “Girlfriends,” but would you consider a reunion episode of “Girlfriends”? If you do, no awkward replacements, such as Goapele for Tracee or Meagan Good for Golden!

Lastly, Ciara (not only her legs) was phenomenal in tonight’s episode, but filmmaker John Singleton (playing a fictional version of himself) looked haggard spouting idiotic lines opposite L.L.’s “Kiera.”

© 2013 Chantale Rêve
All Rights Reserved


ASPiRE, the TV network that media mogul Magic Johnson launched last year in June has proved that positive, family-friendly programming aimed at Black Baby Boomers makes good sense (the preceding alliteration unintentional) — and beaucoup cents.

Major gripe, though, and one not aimed at ASPiRE: When will it take major advertisers to realize that Black people, in relation to their percentage of the U.S. population, represent a disproportionate sector of consumers? Hmmm, how is it that a trash-trendy show like “The Client List” (the novelty wore off mid-first-season) can attract classy ads, but an entire network (i.e., ASPiRE) has nary a major burger chain ad? Hell, I can balance the nirvana from viewing brothas and sistas in a surrealistic film with jazz-scat hunger pangs over Dollar Menu food porn!

It makes my mind wanna rap out my anga, ‘specially when my gut goes gangsta:

Cain’t a thicksta like yours truly getta Whoppa?

Gimme a straw and one-a-nem outlawed large sodas.

Since nobody’s gonna putta ring on it,

I’d might as well poppa onion ring wit it. Sheeeyiiit

ASPiRE hits the right (on!) buttons with a mélange of retro, groundbreaking programs including “Julia,” “The Flip Wilson Show” and “I Spy”; riveting documentaries; thought-provoking Black indie filmmaking that brings festival flava into viewers’ homes Monday nights via “ABFF Independent,” hosted by the brilliant actor Omari Hardwick (pictured above — excuse me for waxing poetic, but this foinnne Savannah native’s surname, HARD-wick, makes a sturdy brown chick wanna burn de candles at both ends); and refreshing morality plays. Tonight I enjoyed “From This Day Forward,” starring Leon (Mmmm) and Essence Atkins, and was stunned that no one broke into song.

Just as Lifetime doesn’t cancel out Oxygen, BET, Centric and TVOne leave breathing space for ASPiRE to thrive. Survival of the fittest and flyest!

© 2013 Chantale Rêve
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