Category: I Love L.A.


A few weeks back, my Twitter feed went nuts with black film geeks famous and not famous all saying Netflix dropped a series called ‘Pioneers of African-American Cinema’ that is mandatory viewing if you’re a student of the history or the artform or the culture.

And they were all right.

Streaming on Netflix, twenty episodes total.  A few shorts in there, but mostly features, none over 100 minutes I believe.  Most everyone who knows their history has heard the name Oscar Micheaux; off the top of my head there are four of his films here.  Paul Robeson makes an appearance in one of the features.  If you’re any type of black film geek, it’s the best kind of homework.

Now, a few notes from me as an observer:

It’s to be expected I guess when you know how historically expensive filmmaking is as an art form, but as far as the stories here: it’s almost exclusively from a ‘Talented Tenth’ point of view.  If you’re hoping to see some pre-cursor to ‘Menace II Society’ or ‘Boyz N Da Hood’… nope, this ain’t the place.  I believe it was in one of the Micheaux films that a fast light skinned woman was repeatedly referred to as ‘that yellow hussy’.  That tickled me good, but be ready for a lot of that.

In terms of things off the beaten track, there’s a black Western(!) in the later episodes.  That’s the good.  The bad?  Shockingly, there was a blackface preacher who showed up in one of the more musically inclined films (in front of a black choir, which made it extra jarring.)  There was also a yellowface character who briefly showed up as a minor character in one film.  I’m not even going to psycho analyze that, I’m just telling you it was there.

But this is still mandatory viewing as a historical document if nothing else.  (I want to say the National Film Archive and the Library of Congress were the two DC groups most responsible for preserving these films, but don’t quote me on that.)  

Streaming on Netflix.

Advertisements

Word got to me that Sir Paul is playing Dodger Stadium next year.  Against all realistic and biological odds, it looks like the stars will align for me to scratch ‘see a Beatle in concert’ off my bucket list.

Besides being one of my favorite songs he wrote, this particular arrangement is incredibly beautiful.

Enjoy.

OK, yesterday was a day.  Let’s find something to get back to being a little bit more relaxed.  Silly even. Maybe seasonal.

Perfect.  This is perfect.

Enjoy!

So, I could have very, very easily been murdered today.  

I found myself Downtown this afternoon.  Not L.A. Live, more the residential neighborhoods.  I was wrapping up my affairs as a nearby high school was letting out.

One set of boys walking down the street I was on starts shit talking another set of boys passing by.  The first reaction is of course, ‘Kids.’

The conversation gets a little more heated.  I start paying closer attention.  The instigator in the first group keeps saying over and over, ‘But you ain’t gonna do nothing!  But you ain’t gonna do nothin!’

There was a Mexican cat around my age in the parking lot as well.  We caught each other eyes; it was a telepathic ‘Oh shit, I know where this is heading.  I hope I’m wrong but…’

We turned back around in time to see that silver in the other boy’s hand briefly shine in the sunlight…

I yelled ‘GET DOWN’ and instinctively grabbed the two women nearest to me and pulled them to the ground.  People started scattering. And running.

Today, the gun ‘worked’, in the sense that seeing it was enough to make the first boy and his crew run out of shooting range and make the obligatory ‘wait until next time’ threats.  No shots were fired.

When the adrenaline rush died down, there wasn’t much hanging around to take a second chance on being innocent bystanders in someone else’s beef.  The shock of it is worse than anything else.

This wasn’t Friday or Saturday night.  This isn’t ‘running with the wrong crowd.’ I’m not afraid of death, but this, in no way shape or form, was my fight.  This is just being in the right place at the absolutely worse possible time.

I’m fine, truly.  But tonight, again, I say the things I try to live by:

Make sure your family knows you love them.

Make sure your people know you’re down for them.

Chase your passions.  

Be your authentic self.

Live your life fully.

Love.

Because you have NO idea when your time will be up…

My goal this year was to line up the rest of my life, the rest of my long term goals, that’s been done 11 months. I’m in a good spot.

A few of you know I’ve been thinking more this year about working again behind the camera; my specific ‘voice’ can be as strong of an asset to my goals as my face.

The last thing I directed, as most of you know, was a ‘Love Actually’ spoof (or correction) depending on your point of view.  

So the timing is right on all fronts to repost this.  

Enjoy!

The extremely rare wet day in the City of Angels, so this is perfect.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson calls for crowd noise during the final minutes of the 76ers 96-93 win over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday, March 12, 2003 in Philadelphia. Iverson led all scorers with 31 points.(AP Photo/Miles Kennedy) ORG XMIT: PXC106

Worked away from the camera lately, setting the baseline for my voiceover work.  Like being in front of the camera, you try to gravitate toward things you’re naturally passionate about, so for this I went to ‘The Book of Basketball’, the beginnings of black cinema, and luxury cars.

Enjoy.

In no particular order, thank you…

Mom, Pops, Sheena, the Fradieus, Darryl, Tara, Brittany, Tawana, Shannon, my ‘Fan Club’, Steve, Lorenzo, Leo, Jermaine, the Asian Delegation and my Age of Learning family, Nathan and Saba, Jay, Tish, Alfred and Amber, Adrian and Aida, Ben, Terrance, Brandon, Akela, Aaron, my Jayhawk family, Larvell and April, the Ummah, Dorian, Ormonde and Melissa, the Frat, the Starkies, Gene, my Trojan family, Quincy and Sophia…

And an ever growing list of people who I hope won’t be offended I didn’t name check them specifically.

Thank you for friendship.  Thank you for love.  Thank you for inspiration.  Thank you for leaving me be when I need time and space to figure things out on my own.  Thank you for listening when I reach out and I seek the opinion of someone I trust.  Thank you for pulling me back into focus when it’s time to get things done.  Thank you for cracking me up when I need to be reminded ‘it ain’t that serious.’

Thank you for reminding me how many people love me, look up to me, and are counting on me in various ways.  Thank you for standing by me, and standing up for me as I’ve lived a full, three dimensional life.  As time goes on, I can’t stress enough my appreciation for that.  

Onward.

 

jinn-sxsw

So, a film about a young convert finding her place (and herself) as a Muslim while also coming into her own as a young adult.  You would not be wrong to deduce that I’m cheering for this film to succeed on several levels, whether it’s a good film or not.

But the debut film of Nijla Mumin IS a good film.   Better than I was expecting.  That’s not a knock on Nijla, that’s me as a heavily experienced film geek knowing that ‘first films’… you just instinctively lower your expectations after a while.  You look for potential more than you look for anything too promising in what’s in front of you.

So, the story of Jinn, which starts off as a tale of a young black mother (Luke Cage’s Simone Missick) finding herself in Islam, gradually shifts its focus to the point of view of the daughter (Zoe Renee, who is a revelation).  On top of the stresses of being a high school senior trying to get into art school, now add in your mother adopting a new religion and trying to fit into a completely new community that you may not want to be a part of.  Now THAT’S some organic, ready made conflicts.

A perfect film, no.  But a film that left me wanting to see what comes next from its leading actress and director? Absolutely.

High recommend.

 

 

timberlake

Whatever we feel about Timberlake (the Boondocks joke: Michael Jackson is not a genre of music comes to mind), this song goes.

Thank you Timbaland.

And this video!  Man.  Bill Simmons called this ‘the white people’s Hit Em Up’, and he wasn’t wrong.  I mean, he got a straight Britney clone…

Enjoy!