Entries from March 2004 ↓

I’m Just Sick

My computer went kablooey Sunday night.

I woke it up from sleep mode last night and the screen wouldn’t respond. I thought it was the battery, so I changed it, and while it came to life, there were also streaks all across it. I restarted, and everything came up just fine. But then after a minute, the screen froze. Since the replacement battery was fresh out of the box, I thought perhaps it just needed to be charged, so I let it do so overnight and went to bed praying.

In the morning, the green light from the charging cable was shining bright, so I hoped for the best, but the best wasn’t good enough. Nothing. I brought it in with me to work along with may Apple Care Protection plan paperwork to call them when I got to the office.

The guy on the other end talked me through some troubleshooting, that got the same results as I had the night before. Screen came up, cursor moved around fine for several minutes, then everything froze. He said that meant something more serious. (Actually, his muffled words were, “Yeah, it’s dead.”)

They’ll send me the shipping box right away, I should get it Tuesday, and I’ll send it back same day. He said they work fast, and if they have the parts, I could have it back in 3-7 days. That will be the longest week of my life.

So, blogging I’d hoped to do Sunday night will have to wait, as will my tax preparation (I prepare, my tax consultant does the actual work). As much as I’d love to sit at my desk all day doing my own stuff, I can’t, so my emailing will drop off considerably as well.

Man, this sucks already.

One, on the aisle

I took my own advice and caught a new show the other night. It came at the end of an exhausting work day, so I suppose in a way, not having to entertain or be charming for someone else made things easier. But in other respects, the public act of attending the theatre alone can cause introspection when juxtaposed against the sea of couples and groups around you. The irony of sitting by myself watching a play about a woman who aches for someone to share her life with was not lost on me.

Interestingly, this particular night, there was an unusually large contingent of same sex couples in the audience, or groups of just men or just women, although this play had nothing at all to do with gay issues. I guess we all just have the gene. There was even the most charming pair of well-dressed, elderly grey-haired Black gentlemen seated diagonally across from me. A date? Who knows but they looked nice together. Perhaps theres hope.

As with all my recent trips to the theatre, I was struck by the low number of Black patrons, regardless of sex or orientation. In the past year and half, Ive seen a good dozen shows or more and sometimes you can count the numbers on the fingers of both hands. This is sad, because not only are people not getting exposed to great entertainment, but in many instances shows with Black themes or performers are not being supported by our own. Mind you, Im not talking about the minstrel shows at the Beacon Theatre where our numbers can be most plentiful, but the Broadway, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway houses where productions challenge viewers to constructively think about the world around us.

Cost shouldnt be used as an argument either, because truth be told theatre tickets are on par or less than most concerts (with some Off Off shows about the price of a movie), and discounts can be found all over if you know where to look. I rarely pay full price.

Im clearly biased in my thinking, but there is something special about watching a drama unfold where the actors and the audience are sharing the same air space, their collective energy feeding off one another. That experience cant be duplicated at the movies or in front of the television.

Hopefully more of us will venture out and try something different. If you do, there may be a seat open just off the aisle.

Dropped Stitch

Since the invention of the printing press, literature has given us countless tales of lonely hearts, unrequited love and the deep yearning for emotional connection that lies within all of us. Equally plentiful are stories of single career women searching for love in the big city.

Theatre is taking a new shot at the genre in an Off Broadway play Intimate Apparel produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company with a few interesting wrinkles. This story by award winning playwright Lynn Nottage is set in the New York of 1905, and the main character is a Black woman.

Turn of the century New York offered limited opportunities for Black woman and Esther Mills (played by Tony and Drama Desk Award Winner Viola Davis), spent the early part of her life picking every crop there is to pick in order to earn money to travel up from North Carolina. Arriving as a young girl, she has since spent 18 years perfecting her skills as a seamstress and maker of elegant womens lingerie. Esther works tirelessly sewing beautiful garments for Park Avenue socialites and downtown prostitutes alike, but lives in a womens boarding house, where now at 35 shes feeling life pass her by.

Despite having saved seemingly every dime shes ever earned towards her dream of opening a beauty shop, the one thing she hasnt got is a man, and shes beginning to doubt things will ever change.

That is until a letter arrives from out of the blue. George Armstrong (Russell Hornsby), a Caribbean laborer working on the Panama Canal has gotten her name through a member of her church and decided to write. The flowerly language of each letter creates just the sort of romantic images a lonely woman dreams of. Despite her illiteracy, Esther gains the help of her clients, the wealthy Mrs. Van Buren (Arija Bareikis) and the prostitute Mayme (Lauren Velez) to read them and write her replies.

Despite warnings from her protective landlady Mrs. Dickson (Lynda Gravtt), Esther and George carry on a worldwind long distance courtship, that ends with a proposal by mail, his arrival in the U.S. and their subsequent wedding. Only after the wedding does Esther begin to grasp the consequences of her actions.

theater poster.jpgDavis plays Esther as a plain yet talented individual sorely lacking in self esteem, with a charm about her that others see clearly but to which she herself is blind. Her clients adore her work and her company. Mrs. Van Buren, despite her wealth, is married to a cold and distant husband. Mayme has talents outside the boudoir as a ragtime pianist but she knows her future too is limited. Both women are able to share their own hopes and dreams with Esther in ways they cant with anyone else.

The play is dead on in capturing how society a century ago placed people in little boxes based on race or gender, and how that shaped their own self perceptions. But it fell short in not truly demonstrating the emotional pain Esther goes through in seeking and trying to hold onto love.

We dont really learn enough about these characters, particularly George, to form strong opinions of them. The depths of their feelings, the sense of despair, isnt fully mined, and as a result the major plot point–not to be revealed here–is predictable in the first act. Esthers close friendship with an Hasidic fabric merchant (Corey Stoll) is meant to show us the power of her neediness, but comes off as just mutual curiosity.

Surprisingly the acting is also off in spots and not aided by the directing. On a spacious stage in the beautiful new Laura Pels Theatre, the characters at times seemed to wander aimlessly, with not enough legitimate stage business to do. Bareikis and Velez had difficulty projecting, in stark contrast to Davis and Hornsby who were more consistent in their delivery.

Despite these shortcomings, Intimate Apparel is not a bad play conceptually. The human need to find a soulmate is a timeless story in and of itself. Telling it through a period piece that also tries to explore the migration of southern Blacks and West Indian imigrants to New York is a noble attempt, that just fell a few threads short.

Intimate Apparel, now in previews, opens on April 11 and runs until June 6.

Impeach Bush

morally bankrupt.jpgThere is now even more convincing evidence that President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top administration officials had full knowledge that there was no connection between the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001–allegedly masterminded by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network– and the government of Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein.

The evidence also claims that Bush officials were warned of an impending al Qaeda attack in the US in the months leading up to 9/11 but failed to act.

These charges come from Bushs own former top anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, who was interviewed on CBS News 60 Minutes Sunday night, and has also written a tell-all book Against All Enemies due in bookstores on Monday.

Clarke, who has worked in the White House as a senior intelligence official and anti-terrorism expert under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and now the second President Bush, said that in meetings following the attacks, Rumsfeld was pushing for retaliatory strikes on Iraq, even though al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan. He initially thought Rumsfeld was joking.

Clarke told 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl, “Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq, and we all said … no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, ‘Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.

Bush himself pushed Clarke for a connection to Iraq.

“The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

“I said, ‘Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.’

book cover.jpgNaturally, the White House has denied Clarkes allegations, using a number of approaches to attempt to discredit him, from assertions that Clarke is working for John Kerrys campaign (Clarke denies this), to allegations Clarke is just trying to sell his book, to insinuations that he was upset over having his position demoted, from a Cabinet level position in the Clinton White House to staff under Bush.

Clarke responded, “Frankly, if I had been so upset that the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism had been downgraded from a Cabinet level position to a staff level position, if that had bothered me enough, I would have quit. I didn’t quit.”

Ever since the invasion of Iraq, Bushs justification for it has been challenged convincingly by a number of independent, reputable and bipartisan sources. That as recently as last week, Donald Rumsfeld continued to make public statements claiming the US may still find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, simply points out the level of official deception in which this administration is engaged.

This administration has no intention of telling the American people the truth. Therefore the people of this nation must instruct Congress to remove them by initiating impeachment proceedings . There are ample grounds for this action and unlike the last attempt at a presidential impeachment, this is a legitimate matter of national security.

1 Cent for your thoughts

butch queen.jpg

Some brothas get it. Others don’t. Maybe they should read more .