Category: What I’m Working On


Like most of everyone in the KU circle, I was shocked when word got to me that Justin Vanoy passed yesterday.

We weren’t close. Different fraternities, different inner circles. But the black social circles at KU are pretty small; and if you’re in the Greek life, you absolutely knew of each other if you weren’t hanging out. I can still clearly see Justin dancing when I walked into the Burge like it was only a couple Saturday nights ago.

Time has passed; our last connect was surely my birthday and his. Hope you’re well, glad you’re healthy, that type of thing. I’m about a week or so away from the annual social media vanishing, but I have to say it was nice to see how many of you posted pictures and kind words about your memories of Justin. I went through this with my Frat brother passed, but we should all hope when our time comes, the people we leave behind have really GLOWING memories of how we left them.

This was definitely a jam from our youth. I don’t even remember this video but the song takes me back. Enjoy.

Rest in Power Justin.

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Oh yes…

So, other than giving me bittersweet flashbacks of the young Moroccan girl who was the first one to call me habibi, I can’t say enough good things about the new Hulu series ‘Ramy’.

The premise is super simple, Ramy is a young Muslim American living in New Jersey trying to find his place in his own culture and his place in the world while making his way in modern day society. ‘Master of None’ came to mind for some obvious reasons but you quickly have to put that comparison away. Aziz’s story was/is about a young New York actor with only passing references to his Muslim heritage.

‘Ramy’ goes all in.

All in to the point where I know there are words and phrases and customs used for in jokes here that killed me that many of you may not realize why it’s funny. All in to the point that the personal life history of the character (the Muslim girl whose maybe ‘too’ traditional for you, the Jewish girl you connect with because, ‘not celebrating Easter’ for example, is a better bonding point than you would think, the white person whose a little too attracted to your ‘otherness’ and not interested enough in you as a person (the sister’s story), there was a lot of ‘Oh damn’ as I worked through the ten half hours. Let’s leave it at that.

The cliffhanger at the end of episode ten…I don’t know where we go from here. But I want to find out.

High recommend, even with my obvious bias.

I mean…

This woman is my generation’s Michael. There’s no more debate. I’m old, that might not have been up for debate for a while. But this concert film closed the book on that. Michael, mixed with Tina Turner. I’m also the product of HBCU grads, my childhood had the Homecomings and the Bayou Classic trips, so the visual themes she used for this show; I was one of those people sitting at home saying ‘Yeah, ya’ll don’t know about that.’ But it’s still super impressive. To say the least.

Another common link, which some of you share: I know how many months go into a crisp, ‘perfect’ live performance, whether you’re talking about a step show or a play for the theatre. So the part of the film I enjoyed the most personally was seeing her show how much goes into the ‘one night’ you actually see. Even if you’re not in the Beyhive, how can you not respect the damn work ethic?!?

Final point from me, which Very Smart Brothas devoted a whole post too: she covers one of the most iconic Black songs of all time at the end, ‘Before I Let Go.’ You didn’t know you wanted it. You didn’t even think anyone would have the guts to even TRY to cover it. Then you hear how she modernizes it and personalizes it for how soul has evolved since Frankie Beverly and Maze first did it, and even now I’m just listening to this like…

COME ON!!!

The movie is well worth the public discussions we’re all having.

Here’s her cover. I dare you not to enjoy…

I was worried I was catching this exhibit at the end of its L.A. run, but as it turns out, it’s here til September 1st.

For the L.A. folks, if you haven’t made it down to the Broad lately, I can’t recommend enough ‘Soul of a Nation’. The exhibit covers several decades of black art (up to the present), and how artists specifically have tried to use their platforms to express their own feelings of isolation and rebellion.

There are pieces that reference Dr. King of course. I was naturally drawn to the pieces that referenced Malcolm, Angela Davis and Fred Hampton. Even the photographs and some of the Black Panther materials are interesting to see for those of us too young to have lived through that time (even if you don’t think of them as ‘art’ in the traditional sense.)

I still feel fired up just thinking about it. Again, the exhibit will be here til September 1st; if you get a chance and you’re in town, must see.

In my zone to start the week. Things are in motion.

Here’s some live Sammy to get you going.

Enjoy!

I’m not here to argue with any of you about the company he keeps, or if he’s truly ‘redeemed’ from past indiscretions.

I’m acknowledging the athletic accomplishment and the man’s kids being old enough now to appreciate in person how good their dad is at what he does.

I knew Nike wasn’t go waste any time.

Enjoy.

Luther Vandross performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 5, 1988. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Every day I try to do good.

Today I definitely did good.

Love mood. That means Luther.

Enjoy!

‘Lyrically, I’m supposed to represent, I’m not only a client, I’m the player president.’

That is still the undisputed best closer in hip hop for me.

‘Shorty let me tell you bout my only vice; it has to do with lots of lovin, and it ain’t nothing nice…’

That might be my clear number 2…

Enjoy!

You know the rules by now; no spoilers but maybe some constructive criticism…

Horror is probably my least favorite genre but ‘Jordan Peele’ is a genre I love (like a lot of people, check those opening weekend receipts). I liked ‘Get Out’ more for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t hate this.

The legacy is deep, but at least for black actors, the Yale Drama School is definitely having a moment. Lupita, Winston Duke, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has a minor but important role to play. There have been a thousand and one paths people have taken to become ‘movie stars’; it feels like it wasn’t that long ago the complaint was out there black British actors were taking all of ‘our parts’ because they were ‘better trained’. Hopefully we can put that foolish myth behind us.

Personally, I was all in for the first half hour, and as the story twisted and expanded, I didn’t lose interest, but my ‘suspension of disbelief’ started to get pushed. I can’t expand too much there without spoiling it, but I started asking questions (and somewhat ironically getting answers) before the credits rolled. Sometimes the best suspense is letting the audience not know why things happen.

Trying to think of more to expand upon without spoiling but I really can’t, so let’s cut it there. Great cast, enjoyable film, absolutely ridiculous this is the first time Lupita has been the clear number one on the call sheet.

Hall and Oates, late 1970s Shown from left: Daryl Hall, John Oates

The weekend is upon us.

Vacation was good, but I’m happy to be back on my Mission. Still, have a little bit of a light mood about me.

And can you get any more light than Hall & Oates? I think not.

Enjoy. Movie review coming Sunday.