No Vaccine for Jungle Fever.


More wedding cake, Mr. Woods?

I’m not keeping up  with the “Who Did Tiger Woods Screw Today?” booty count (eleven), but I have taken notice that as the list of White women Tiger hasn’t had sex with gets shorter, the touchy subject of interracial relationships have popped up again.  

My Facebook buddy Sophia Angeli Nelson posted a link to a site called A Field (not THE Field Negro) where some fool obviously spent a very long afternoon looking for every picture he could find of famous Black men and the White women (and other non-sistas) they love to hug it out with  (Check ’em out and then come back here). 

Mr. A. Field Negro muses over the state of brothers working it out with White women and concludes: 

There’s a lot of FRICTION between Black men and Black women. We can lie to ourselves and pretend that the problem is not there, or we can do something to try and address this problem. What I’m trying to do is create a dialogue, so that we can take a look at this problem.

These are some PICTURES of BLACK MEN that date, and marry outside of their race.

In looking at these pictures I notice that a lot of brothers are now dating Asian women, and there’s nothing wrong with that because when two people are in love, their skin color shouldn’t matter.

These are some good brothers, there’s no question about that, but I’ve often heard Black men complain about Black women hot temper, and their attitude. A few weeks ago I was talking to some brothers, and they said man I love sisters, but it seems like they are never satisfied.

With that being said when we look at these pictures, then we have to ask this question——–is it possible that some sisters, are driving brothers away?

No.  It’ ‘s not possible.  That’s just you looking for an excuse, Mr. A. Field Negro. 

As you can imagine the Black women who also read Sophia’s post didn’t take that too well at all.   Whenever I hear a brother say, “I love Black women–BUT,  they are too high maintenance and demanding for me,” I have to wonder if what they are really saying is,  “I’d rather have a weak and compliant White women than a strong and confident Black woman.” 

No vaccine for jungle fever

I have a friend who rolled up in his new Volvo and his White girlfriend to get some gas.  As he paid for it, the brother working the cash register scoped out the car and then the passenger.  He asked my friend, “Brother, I just want to ask you, which came first: The Volvo or the White girl?”

It’s not difficult to figure out why so many successful Black men date White women (and other races).  It’s a status thing.  It’s a way of saying, “Look what I can afford now.”   Some brothers believe the stereotype that White women are more feminine than Black women, easier to get along with and are the biggest freaks in the world.

I don’t have anything against anyone who crosses the color line whether their looking for love, friendship or just to get horizontial between the sheets.  It’s not my business.  It’s not my choice.   Enjoying the company of White women is something I’ve done  in the past, but that’s not what my choice was when I went looking for a life partner.   I tell my kids I don’t care who they choose to be with.  Just know going in that it’s tough as it is to be with another person.  Throw race into the mix and the job only gets tougher. 

Look, how can you tell someone it’s okay to love this person, but not that person?   The fact of the matter is if you lined up Halle Berry, Vanessa Williams, Tyra Banks and Gabrielle Union butt nekkid, there are brothers that would pole vault over them to get to Susan Boyle because that’s their choice.  How you gonna stop that?  Why even try?

It’s a free country and nobody’s going to force a White woman to stay away from Black men if that’s how she rolls and if Black women don’t want to “settle” for just any guy because all they have in common is skin color, they’re equally free to go after whomever makes their toes tingle.   That hardly means there’s something “wrong” with  Black women and they are undeserving of Black men.   That’s just bull. 

Ask Tiger how much easier it is to get along with a White women when you publicly embarrass one the way he’s embarrassed Elin Nordgren.  If she divorces his ass, a good team of attorneys will shred their pre-nuptial agreement like a wet Kleenex.  We’ll  see how meek and deferential Tiger’s White women is if she gets half his assets.    When Michael Strahan divorced his White wife all she did was accuse him of being a closet homosexual and a judge later awarded Jean Muggli $15.3 million and ordered the former New York Giants all-pro defensive end to pay $18,000 a month in child support for their twin daughters.  

Can you say “SACKED?!” 

Yes Virginia. There are Black couples in love.

You can’t  gloss over the inconvenient truth a LOT of White women are fiendin’ after that sexual chocolate.  When I was writing a book about internet escorts, even the pros said they loved the few Black clients they had.  When you extrapolate all the  Black men who are gay, dating outside the race, in lockdown or otherwise unavailable to single Black women,  good brothes are low in number and high in demand.  

You can’t blame Black women for being a little frosty about all the Russell Simmons, Quincy Jones and Taye Diggs that are selling to sistas and sleeping with the other team.  Which is why Black women are also looking around and exploring their own alternatives. 

I don’t think sistas will all of a sudden have to retaliate by dating White, Latino and Asian men.  They already do.  Go down the list of Black women crossing over to the Caucasian side of the street and you’ll find Halle Berry, Tina Turner, Whoopi Goldberg, Diana Ross, Diahann Carroll, Alfre Woodard, Paula Patton, Iman and Naomi Campbell all parking their slippers under a White man’s bed.

I’ve been married to a Black woman for 28 years, so I can’t really relate to the website. Different strokes for different folks. If you confuse the unusual with the usual you might think every successful brother is with anything but a Black woman. I don’t think Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby, Will Smith or the President of the United States have … See Moregiven up on the sistas yet. Why get stressed over the choice of a famous few when the unknown many is overwhelmingly still down for the around the way girl?

Personally, I don’t care.  My daughter has a crush on Joe Jonas and Taylor Laughtner of the new Twilight movie.  Should I worry?  My sister used to think Peter Frampton was cute, but she didn’t end up marrying him.   True love knows no color and it doesn’t play politics.   For some reason I remain confident there’s still plenty of gas left in Black Male/Female relationships.

Love is colorblind.  The world is  not.  Know that going in and all will be well.

"You talkin' to us?"

Personal Best: My Top 20 Films of the Decade

Here’s my Top 20 (because ten is not enough) films of the decade.  I’ll start with 20 to 11.   Nobody said  you had to agree.

20.  No Country For Old Men  (2007) This one will probably show up on the lists of other bloggers and critics among their Top 5 or as the best film of the 2000’s, but as it’s only 3/4ths of a great film, I can’t rank it any higher.  The cat-and-mouse chase between Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem is great and Tommy Lee Jones as a seen-it-all sheriff adds a  weary resignation to his inability to handle the challenges of drug-influenced chaos.   But while I can respect the Coen Brothers decision to follow Cormac McCarthy’s dour, downbeat resolution, but all the ambiguity of the last 30 minutes just annoys me.   I recognize the brilliance of No Country For Old Men, but it still has a smart-ass quality to it that makes it impossible for me to completely sign off on it.

19. Crash (2004) A lot of people, hate, hate, HATE this Best Picture winner as overly sentimential and wearing it’s liberal sentiments on its sleeve.   I disagree.   Crash is a bit obvious at times, but it’s heart is in the right place as director and writer Paul Haggis puts his ensemble cast (Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton, etc) through a tightly woven tale of race and racism in Los Angeles.  Can we all get along, Haggis seems to be asking?   Not until we stop seeing each other through the prism of race instead of all being part of the human race.

18. Star Trek (2009) I debated whether it was too soon to include Star Trek in a “Best of” list, but it was hands down the fun flick of this summer and the only movie I felt I had to see in the theater instead of waiting for the DVD.  Director J.J. Abrams breathed life back into a movie franchise that was for all purposes, dead and decomposed.   I’m neither a Trekker or a Trekkie so I don’t care if there’s some inconsistences in the characterizations and motivations of Kirk, Spock, and Uhura.   Star Trek made it cool to like Star Trek again and that’s something I doubted could ever happen again.  Live long and prosper.

17. Road to Perdition (2002) Tom Hanks has made so many good films since he gave up slob comedy that it’s easy to forget this Prohbition-era gem from the Max Allen Collins/Richard Piers Rayner graphic novel that is brilliantly directed by Sam Mendes and lensed by cinematographer Conrad Hall.  Hanks plays against type as Michael Sullivan, a hitman for Irish mobster John Rooney (Paul Newman in his last on-screen role).  There’s not a wrong note in this movie where everything looks, sounds and feels authentic.   Mendes makes good  use of Jude Law as an assassin and Daniel Craig as Newman’s cowardly son, but it’s the relationship between Hanks and his lone surviving son as they flee from Law that echoes the Lone Wolf and Cub manga stories.   Along with A History of Violence and V for Vendetta, Perdition provides ample evidence  the graphic novel genre is capable of far loftier goals than being just “funny books.”

16.  The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005): Comedy is not pretty as Steve Martin once quipped and it’s not funny when it doesn’t rise above kicks to the crotch,   playing with poo or Adam Sandler movies.   This one works because Judd Apatow puts together a great ensemble of actors whom are given funny things to say and do.  Steve Carrell plays the title character as sweet, but not asexual.  He wants to get laid but more often than not he sabotages his chance of getting horizontial.   Seth Rogan, Jane Lynch, Paul Rudd and Romany Malco lend excellent support to Carrell and Virgin reminds of Blazing Saddles in it’s gleeful ability to offend everybody.  The only flaw is at nearly two hours  there aren’t enough jokes to justify the length.  I had to choose between this and Tropic Thunder, but Virgin is a far superior and more complete movie than Thunder which boasts a great comedic performance by Robert Downey Jr.  When I need to get a laugh this is my go-to movie of the new century.

David: You know how I know you’re gay?
Cal:: How?
David: Your dick tastes like shit.

15. Amélie (2001) Ever channel surf through the pay cable stations and come across something so out of place, so unusual, so fucking weird, that you have to stop and watch it?   That’s how I discovered Amélie, a deliriously bizarre story of a young woman in Paris who is in love with others being in love, but knows little about it personally.    If that sentence comes off as convuluted trying to explain the plot of the film would be even moreso.  There are some movies you like but can’t explain why.   This is one of those movies.  If you buy what Amelie is selling, you’ll be charmed.   If you don’t you’ll screw up your face and say, “What the hell is this?” It’s as French as it gets.  But I like it anyway.

14.  Downfall (2004) : The scene in Downfall where Adolf Hitler screams at his generals has been parodied in endless versions on YouTube and I’d bet more Americans have seen the viral videos than the original movie.  That’s a damn shame because Hitler has become more of a parody than an actual human being who lived, breathed and did horrible things.  Director Oliver Hirschbiegel film of the final days of the Third Reich from the point of view of the pathetic remnants of the Master Race as the Russians move ever closer to taking Berlin.   Swiss actor Bruno Ganz as Hitler vividly depicts The Fuhrer’s dementia, onset of Parkinson’s Disease and total disconnect from reality as he orders his generals to rally forces that no longer exist.   It’s a great performance.   We’ve seen depictions of Hitler’s bunker, but never like this as Eva Braun, Albert Speer and the Goebbeles become fleshed out and real.   Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima will be the two WWII films most audiences will recall when they think of war films of the decade, but as much as I like them, Downfall is heads and shoulders the most realistic depiction of the Nazi psyche  from their own perspective that we’re likely to get.   Even at nearly three hours in length,  Downfall never lags and constantly demands (and deserves) your attention.  Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it (and a tip of the hat to my brother Mike for turning me on to it).

13.  Inside Man (2006) I’ve seen a lot of “Best of” lists that single out Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour for inclusion, but I wasn’t blown away by it.   Inside Man is my preference because it’s a well-written and clever story with Denzel Washington matching wits against Clive Owen in what appears to be a bank robbery, but is far more than just another caper flick.   Lee steps in for Ron Howard and makes the film his own as he captures life in New York City better than any other filmmaker.  Despite one gratuitous  “Spikeism” (C’mon Spike, put away the moving sidewalk gimmick, will ya?) it’s one of Lee’s strongest and most entertaining films.   Russell Gerwitz’s script plays fair with the audience and while it’s sneaky, it never insults your intelligence by being too smart for its own good.  This was Denzel’s fourth collaboration with Spike and he always looks cool under fire.  Clive Owen makes a suave not-so-bad guy and any movie that can make Jodi Foster look sexy deserves my respect.

12.  Narc (2002) Remember all those buddy cop movies where two wildly mismatched guys start off hating each others guts and by the end they’re asshole buddies?  This isn’t one of those movies.   Narc is the little brother of  The French Connection and other cop movies that depicted urban cities as bombed-out shitholes where racist White cops play tag with degenerate Black thugs.   As filmed by Joe Carnahan, Detroit looks like a cross between Baghdad and hell and I’m sure the local Chamber of Commerce didn’t endorse this movie.   The story is a bit convoluted but Jason Patric is a narcotics officer whose last undercover assignment couldn’t have ended any worse and Ray Liotta’s lumbering, brutish Henry Oak is a cop who prefers to shoot first and ask no questions later.  Oak and The Shield’s Vic Mackey would get along great.    This is a throwback to no-nonsense/no bullshit police procedurals where instead of calling on CSI to comb the carpet for a stray pubic hair, the preferred method to get answers is to tie some poor bastard to a chair and beat the hell out of him.   Gritty, tough and a movie with no good guys, just bad guys and worse guys.

11. Iron Man (2008): Hollywood loves stories of redemption and movies that make stupid amounts of money.   Iron Man did both.  It gave Robert Downey Jr., a vehicle that showed off his charisma and proved a super hero films are cash cows for studios.   Until a little flick called The Dark Knight blew it out the water, Iron Man ruled the box office grossing over $300 million.  It’s unfair to compare the two as Batman is a far better known character than Iron Man and despite Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne being richer than God, it’s Stark who seems like he actually has (and enjoys) sex.  Downey brings wit and charm even when he’s flying around in a suit of armor that hides his facial features.  There’s nothing deep about Iron Man and it lacks a formidable villain to play off of, but it delivers on being nothing but a good time.

Ain’t Nothin’ But a “Z” Thang.

A rare moment for Rachel Z. Standing still.

My plan for this blog is to update it every two to three days.  But events have a way of overtaking our best-laid plans.  I’ve fought a dry, hacking  cough that seems to be threatening to turn into something else, though since I’ve been vaccinated for both the flu and the H1N1 virus, I’m clueless about what that might be.

I’m trying to knock out a few CD reviews for, but since I’ve felt like crap and haven’t slept worth a damn for a week or so, it’s been hard to bear down and summon up 500 words of brilliance.   Additionally, I’ve tried to pick up a few extra bucks with some freelance writing assignments.

Freelancing was never something I ever thought I’d get rich doing, but I had some small hope that it was something I could do steadily.   When it was working for me, I had years where I was turning down assignments because I just didn’t have the time to handle all the work coming at me.  

As newspapers and magazines have begun to wither and die on the vine so has the work.   I’ve been at this since 1992 and I can say with all confidence 2009 has been the absolute worst year I’ve ever had as a freelancer.   Where I used to have much success writing for online publications, this year when I made submissions to The Root, Salon, The Griot and The Huffington Post, all I got back was dead silence.

It used to be sites were starved for daily content and they would give an unknown writer with a good story idea a shot.  That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.   Today websites are spoiled for choice with no shortage of professional journalists looking for work.  That’s great for the websites, but it means it’s a lot harder for a freelancer to get a foot in the door.

A skill that isn’t used soon becomes dull and rusty.   I like conducting interviews with musicians, even though nobody pays a nickle for them.   What I don’t enjoy is transcribing  the tape, but I do it just to stay sharp.   For over a week I’ve chased down Rachel Nicolazzo (a.k.a. Rachel Z.) for an interview for Allaboutjazz.   Rachel Z. is one of the most interesting and creative pianists working today.   She’s played with Wayne Shorter, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and toured the world for two years playing keyboards for Peter Gabriel.

The last rock concert I attended was Gabriel’s “Growing Up” tour when it rolled into the now closed Germain Amphitheater.   I wanted to go, but the ticket prices were way too expensive for Vanessa and I to attend.  The only reason we was able to go was because Z graciously came through and gave us passes for some prime seats for the show.   I had always heard Gabriel put on one hell of a stage show and he did not disappoint.

We saw Rachel Z.  live in performance  in a far more intimate venue, The 501 jazz club which featured live bands and where you were within arm’s reach of the musicians.   The only thing bad about the 501 was how your clothes ended up reeking of cigarette smoke.   But it was a great place to hear jazz as it was meant to be.   Unfortunately,  live jazz isn’t the draw it once was and the 501 is gone, though not entirely forgotten.

So I’ve played text messaging tag with Rachel Z.   We were supposed to do the phone interview on a Saturday afternoon, but when I called she was hanging out with her parents and had forgotten about the interview.  No problem, we’d just reschedule.  We moved it to the following Tuesday.  Uh-uh.  That was the day I had handymen working on the bathroom and installing new windows.  

I call Rachel Z. and beg her forgiveness and can we shoot for another day this week?  Fine she says.  Howzabout we try for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?   Cool, she says.  Just let her check to see what time works best and she’ll text me right back.

But she doesn’t.  Not later on Tuesday and not on Wednesday either.   Thursday evening as I’m pulling into the parking lot of a grocery store, my cell phone starts chirping.   It’s Rachel Z. and we can we talk Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.  Hell yeah, I say.

Friday at 2:00 pm rolls around and I call Rachel Z.   No answer as all I get is here voice mail.   I leave a message, but Rachel doesn’t respond to voice messages.  So I text her to ask if our mutually agreed interview time slipped her mind again.   A few minutes later Z sends me a message saying this wasn’t a good day for her and could we try for next Monday at 8:00 pm instead?

In search of the elusive Bad Bunny.

What else could I say but, “yes?”   I sighed deeply and rolled my eyes heavenward, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.   There’s a reason Rachel Z. calls her publishing company Bad Bunny Music and trying to nail her down in one place for 30 minutes is showing me why that is.

I now have serious doubts whether this interview will ever happen.  Maybe it shouldn’t happen.   I’d like to conduct this interview, but at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in and you have to ask yourself, “Is this really worth the hassle?”  

Quincy Jones said he never met a musician that wasn’t a little bit crazy.  I bow to his superior knowledge, but my experiences with jazz artists is they’re usually pretty down to earth and easy to talk to.   Geri Allen had just finished making dinner when I called.   Everette Harp rapped to me like we had known each other for years.   Cheryl Bentyne was funny and if you don’t laugh at least once when you’re talking to Patti Austin you’re probably clinically dead. 

Rachel Z. is wired a little bit differently than most ordinary folks, but then most creative types often are.  You have to make allowances for their occasional eccentric moments and adjust accordingly.   First though, you have to get their attention and I don’t have hers yet.

Such is the life of the freelance writer.   We spend a lot of time chasing our own tails.   We will see what happens Monday night.