Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"My Ambitious Girl: I'll Never Forget You"

I always had ambition--big dreams. I always loved the news,one reporter in particular, Christiane Amanpour . When I was eight years old I looked at her reporting the news from conflict zones and I was like,

I wanna do that shit.

But somewhere along the way my vision became smaller. I acquired a more "humble" view of what the possibilities of my life could be.I learned to be a little ashamed of ambition. I saw what a big joke the people who tried and failed were.

I'm from New Orleans where dreams are something like movies--enjoyable, but not to be confused with reality. I started dating and the boys I knew saw reality and it's possibilities very differently. I found myself trying to make myself as finite as their goals and motivation. They didn't understand, it wasn't just money I was chasing it was something else...

I spent a little while in my life telling myself I didn't want that thing anymore. I could do without it, you know? I told myself that I was shy, a loner, aloof -- so that was the role I played. I remember a dear friend telling me once to cut the bullshit.

"There's somethings you just don't do and say, honey,he said,"if you're shy." We laughed till we were nearly in tears.

I've just recently gotten back to my dreams, accepted them as possibilities in my heart. Maybe war corresponding isn't what I want anymore but I have learned not to compromise myself. I accept that moving towards my dreams means that you may lose people along the way. But I've also found that you can gain better ones with every step you take forward.

Life can beat you down-- but one thing I know about myself, is that I can take my lick. There is nothing like knowing that the time is now. I do and I intend to act.

I got my gloves on now and Mama shouldnt'na let me leave the house...

It's on nah,

Gypsy


Writer Toure says that KRS-One once described rap verses as confidence sandwiches. Here's party tray full...this joint makes me nostalgic.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer of Love Part VII: The Sixth Anniversary of Katrina is the First With No Fear

It was almost 4:00 am and I hadn't been to sleep yet. Frustrated, I decided to go outside--I had to do something with my body that had nothing to do with laying down. So I sat outside on the steps of my Burgundy St apartment and listened to the deathly still night. As I sat in the quiet, an army tank slinked up Elysian Fields Avenue, slowly, casually as if it were a sight that had always been.

Tears filled my eyes--I was home but still a long way from it.

Just a half a year earlier I had been a senior in college. I was right on the cusp, on the verge, I believed, of living the life I had envisioned for myself since I was eight years old. Back when, after being made fun of for being a spelling bee champ, I decided fuck them (my peers), I actually like school. Now I was a college dropout, without the Kanye West sized confidence or drive. I was working two jobs, eating my only meal of the day in the restaurant where I waited tables,I had two pairs of jeans,a pack of white tees-- my winter jacket had rips in it.

A lot of people said Katrina packed on the pounds but the year following, at five foot nine, I had withered to just barely 110 pounds. The life I had known was lost, the changes irrevocable, and any hope at crafting a new one seemed futile.

I let the tears fall freely, landing where they may, staining the steps below me. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Almost instantaneously, a white boy appeared from the alleyway along side my building.

"I'm sorry for scaring you miss. I'm Shorty.. you got a joe you can spare?"

I had three but I wasn't giving up any. I had no cash, wouldn't have none till I waited a table later on in the afternoon and I had no intention on niccin on Shorty's account.

"I'm out fam" I answered feeling ashamed.

I had never been so selfish or broke that I wouldn't share a cigarette.

"Come on Sis...You do coke? I got some rock I could spare..." he offered opening his hand to show me the yellowed pebbles he had pulled out of his pocket.

"Damn you must really want this cigarette...here nah leave me alone." I said handing Shorty one of my battered cigs.

Shorty obliged my request and ambled happily down Burgundy St, dissapearing into the chilly night air. I sat a bit dazed on my stoop. I didn't know what to be more taken aback by--the fact that Shorty had been willing to trade his crack for a cigarette or that it seemed plausible that I might want some.

Gazing at my rail-thin reflection in the passenger side window of a car abandoned on my street, I cried. I was far away from where I had come.

A couple days later , the street car now defunct, I caught the bus to St Charles Ave to attend a job fair. I left with a new job watching security cameras in a hotel, packed my shit, moved Uptown and left the Marigny and the girl skinny enough to be a crackhead behind. Six months after that and thirty pounds heavier, I re-enrolled at Xavier University.

I could only take one class at a time, and sometimes I had had to wait on my classmates, and sometimes rich girls laughed at me behind my back and sometimes the man I loved didn't understand...sometimes his work wasn't honest but it paid the bills.

Now five and a half years later I'm back in school again, working on another degree, still trying to "get-back-right" but progressing everyday. A very good friend once told me that "struggle is preperation for what's to come". That used to sound ominous to me, not anymore. Katrina, however bitterly the lesson was learned, taught me how to begin again without fear.

She showed me that you can do big things on a broken heart.

I look back at that year after Katrina, me and my son's dad, now passed on the world that is beyond ours and I think damn, we were so beautiful and bummy then. We received and made good on the universe's power to transform.

Every season in our life has a purpose no matter how dark. I used to think that was sentimental bullshit,now I know it's real. Every broken heart, every dissapointment, we follow one lead after another. What lies ahead is our future.

Walk forward,

Love,

Gypsy

* "Metamorphosis" original and incomplte peice by Timothy McGary Jr. He drew that with all the love and transformation possible in one heart...Rest in soft peace.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tales From the Hood:"She Who Makes Her Meaning Known"


It's Feminism Fridays and I'm fired up, as usual. What's got me in a wad today is the resurgence of the popular urban myth that positions Feminism as a white supremacist plot to destroy the black family.

Really?

Really?

This anti-black feminist myth shares good company with the Illuminati as some of the most ahistorical,anti-intellectual bullshit moving. I mean seriously, these people on the internet, in the street, in my neighborhood propogating this nonsense to their gullible peers, need to get a grip on reality. And while their at it become scholars and students of history instead of pretending to be.

Brave women like Sojourner Truth and Anna Julia Cooper, who spoke and lived without fear for our benefit, will not be demeaned on my watch by ignorant, misguided, pseudo-intellectual do-gooders.


"Feminism is the idea that women should have political, social, sexual, intellectual and economic equality with men." How could you want anything else for yourself? For your mother, sister or daughter? What blinders are you wearing that prevents you from seeing that a depressed community will require full participation from all its members to save itself?

Dreams of a land of cocoa-colored Ozzies and Harriets isn't what's going to get us there. The theory that marriage can be used as the vehicle for black social mobility is fundamentally flawed. If we can put romance and the power of love to the side for just one second, we can be honest. Homes become broken or never become, because we are broken both emotionally and economically. This will persist and relationships will continue to fall apart until we understand our worth and the nature of human relationships in a new way.

Feminism isn't about women dominating men, however it does deny men the right to rule women. Its about an end to domination as the only way to craft human relationships. Black men need to understand one thing, gender supremacy is the root cause of all other forms of oppression. The notion that you can see half the human population,the closest relative men have on earth, as inferior and "to-be-dominated", opens the door for all the gradiations that follow.

Feminism is not about domination its about negotiatian.It's the right to be educated if you choose, it's equal pay for equal work,the right to vote, to own yourself.

Women are the first teachers, we are mothers, so say even the anti-feminists. Would not black children, boys and girls benefit from having their mothers be socially,politically and economically sound? If you do not understand that these are the women who make the strongest life partners, than your understanding of real love is false.

These women would raise girls and boys with the tools they need to survive in this world and provide for the families they create. This is what feminism can do for the black community.

So in the honor of

Anna Julia Cooper

Florence Kennedy

Sojourner Truth

Harriet Tubman

Shirley Chisolm

Ida B Wells


just to name so very few...

I speak your names in the name of TRUTH,

Love,

Gypsy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Last Days of Bro Q's Golden Fist : Freedom Fairy Tales Part 1


Cogantive Dissonance, the theory developed in 1957 by Leon Festinger, is just a fancy way to say, it sucks to feel two conflicting feelings about a person, place or thing,at once. I was re-reminded of this theory by a member of Melanated, the writing collective I belong to. She, as am I, as are many artists and intellectuals of color afflicted with our conflicting feelings.

The uprising in Libya and Western involvement in it has stirred my battling emotions over these last months. Now more than ever as the battle has reached a crescendo,and the Qadaffi regime fallen past the "tipping point". There is no doubt--NATO action in Libya reeks of Western dominance, imperialist and neo-colonialist intentions. And anyone simply ingesting the popular narrative of our goverment that this was a humanitarian intervention, needs their heads checked, a history book and the internet.

America and the West has a long,intricate and shady relationship with this fallen Libyan dictator. From the Lockerbie bombing and airstrikes in the eighties to a seat right along side Condie Rice, and nuke deals with Sarkozy in the past decade. That's quite a journey for one lifetime and more than enough evidence to let even the lay among us know, that there is far more to our intervention than meets the eye. Not to mention the atrocities being committed against civilians in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen etc without any peeps from the international community about intervention.

There is a noble and necessary impulse in the black community to construct a narrative, counter to the popular one, fed to us through American media. This rebellious and revolutionary spirit, that still lives in the hearts of some of Louisiana's people is how I learned about things like the Haitian Revolution, that the biggest slave rebellion in North America happened up river from New Orleans (a fact curiously left out of grade school Louisiana History textbooks), that Nat Turner wasn't a homocidal maniac, the Black Panthers' takeover of the Desire Projects, COINTELPRO, Assata Shakur, the Osage St bombing, etc. etc.

However, what I have also noticed in some of these counter-narratives is that despite how rebellious, how "anti-Amerikkka" they can be, is that the critiquers themselves are still so uniquely American in their approach. We have an addiction to binaries in the United States, that even us revolutionary spirits cannot seem to shake.

People are either black or white. Gay or Straight . Christian or Atheists. And most importantly,there are Good Guys and Bad Guys.

In America whatever color we are, we have a tendency to either ignore history all together or we romanticize it. And there has been much romance around the Libyan uprising from all sides. In the black community we have a profound respect for storytelling and symbolism. So there is no doubt that for black militants, nationalists, pan-africanists and even some ordirnary folk, there is something evocative and emotionally satisfying in Col Qaddhafi as an archetype.


One must understand the optics of this man. Qaddhafi in his African garb, sharing close relationships with African leaders and his symbol, the golden fist, crushing a US fighter jet. It may be uncomfortable and even a bit incomprehensible for white America but this can be the powerful icognography of rebellion to a people, who have been and are so abused by this goverment.

A people who have seen our leaders killed, known men that did not come home during Jim Crow, women that carried the shame of abuse. But we as a people have to know better than to confuse symbology with the reality on the ground, whether it's here or in Libya.

I think it's important as Americans, Black Americans , that we take the stars out of our eyes. This world is complex, war and politics are ugly. We can engage in a fierce and rebellious critique of U.S. domestic and foreign policy without turning Qadhaffi into "The Prince of Libya" a la Davy Crockett, The First Thanksgiving and other such bullshit.

Two things are true in Libya: the West's interests in the people and land of Libya are far from humanitarian and Moammar Qadaffi has wished and committed evils upon his people.

There is no way to know exactly how much of the Libyan people's will is on the side of the rebels. I would suspect that if you ask, there is a healthy amount of desire on the part of the Libyan civillians for a life free of Qadhaffi, and an equal amount of fear of what lies after. There are neighborhoods where people are beginning to celebrate, there are loyalist holdouts. The enemy of my enemy is my friend seems to be the operative phrase. My heart is with the people of Libya, who I fear will be the losers of such a bargain.

A more sinister lesson maybe out there for other Middle Eastern autocrats--cooperation and/or disarmament with the West seems to spell the eventual death of your rule--a la Hosni Mubarak's cage.
So folks,lets not make fairy tales out of reality-- it's already frightening and ridiculous enough.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm a Love Machine:Why Not Work for Myself? [Morning Meditation]

The school year in New Orleans begins at the height of the summer heat and when the potential for storms, both natural and emotional, are greatest. Since one very real one in 2005,this time of year usually leaves me feeling frenzied and stressed. Yet somehow this year is different-- better, I am determined that it wil,l be. Headed into my second year of grad school, Katrina anniversary just around the corner,my son getting older, my childhood dreams literally keeping up at night--I am somehow calm, somehow steadied.

I am starting this year off with an audacious plan. Call it the," How I Will Maintain My Blog-Take a Fiction Workshop-Raise My Son and - Start Writing the Collection of Essays I Keep Talking About", plan.

And oh yeah, show up for all 40 hours of my work week.

It used to be that the sheer volume of tasks lying ahead,overwhelmed me to the point of zero productivity. However, since I have embraced meditation in my life, I have learned that there is no greater gift than the present moment. Meaning, I pick goals to accomplish in the here and now, not looking too far ahead or behind. I am beginning to move through the day moment by moment and finding myself becoming a much more "accomplished" being. Having a lot of hands in the fire, I have learned to embrace completion rather than perfection.

I will go to work, raise my son, do my schoolwork, write the work that will lead to that book--and I will have fun doing it.

This will be because love is in abundance in my life. Quiet moments of reflection in the morning have allowed me to recognize that. The love shared with my son's father,and what that has meant to the person I am today, transcends this physical seperation of life and death and our son's love is infinite in its capacity. Hope for new love, communion with others--the ability to create-- sustains me .


I will open my arms wide and receive all the tasks this world has for me to complete. I will do it willingly and with an open heart. What other choice is there?

I choose happiness this morning and every morning that follows.

You should go and get your own...

One Love,

Gypsy

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love is Not a Fight it's a Journey :Feminism Fridays

I remember hearing some years ago that New Orleans often led or placed 2nd, in the nation, for the killing of women by their domestic partners. That statistic came as no surprise to me. Afterall, I'm from the Cash Money, "I'll bat the fuck out a bitch quick" , generation.

I have known countless girls, and women,who have been beaten and in some cases killed by the men they loved/feared. And while I was never a battered woman, I have experienced domestic violence, as well. Growing up in New Orleans is tough. Women are abused here at ,as much as, seven times the national average.

I've gotten in plenty arguments/debates with men and women about female on male abuse. No one is here to deny that it happens or dispute that it is wrong. But the comparison between the two is false--men lie, women lie, the numbers don't. Fully 60% of the women murdered in New Orleans were killed by their intimate partner.

Based on the life I have led, the pain I have witnessed women endure-- I have been led to this conclusion,it's not okay and shouldn't be rationalized...period.

Domestic violence, as it most popularly understood, is an epidemic in our society,in my city, and my community. One of my soul's innermost desires is to one day see our culture begin to shift in our thinking on this topic. Its always hurtful to see women who have been,are currently being abused defend,and those that haven't, rationalize or sympathize with the behavior of abusers.

The classic and most famous case is the Rihanna/Chris Brown incident. Some might say that I am harping on a years old story but what happened in that car goes on every day. I would contend that our community's cultural response to that incident is still very relevant. At the height of all of it, I was truly disgusted by the amount of "she probably hit him first" coming from women. I mean, damn, he choked her till she almost passed out--her blood was sprayed on the car windows--beat her while she was limp.


I'm not here to demonize Chris Brown over a past incident or say that there is no redemption possible for him. I do understand black people's anger at Chris Brown being turned into Scary Black Dude of The Year, while Charlie Sheen, and countless other white celebrity perps of domestic violence receive a pass for those offenses. But black women need to wake-up and smell the roses.

This isn't about white people, men or the media--its about us.

For all our defense of our son,brother,lover Chris...he came from a troubled background, he watched his mother be beaten..etc, I have two questions. One, what does understanding your old man's childhood trauma do for a black eye, busted lip or cracked rib? Two, when Steve McNair's boo-thang blew him away, did you hear or see men, take to the internet and airwaves in droves to say, "But he lied to her about leaving his wife, she was financially stressed, she came from a broken home"...?

Of course not--they know better than to be on anyone elses' side but their own.

Women need to stop thinking about their relationships with men in such simple,sentimental, moralistic terms. One of my best guy friends just shared this gem with me, "you gotta make sure the juice is worth the squeeze..ya heard". Ladies,we have to break our addiction to "caring"--you can't keep being hurt just because you know why your partner is an abuser. It is time for us to embrace love from a cost-benefit perspective.

Your life is priceless and happiness is your right.

We need to elevate and find


Love,

Gypsy

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Public Service Announcement Number Three:You Softer than Rosanne Son,Son?

DISCLAIMER: ALL APOLOGIES TO MY GUY TONY STARKS!!! ALL REFERENCES TO YOU HAVE BEEN PUT INTO THE ALLEGED CATEGORY. [stand by my analysis...this kind of "satire" is not only not funny,it is poison for the mind...ya heard me!]

****
I was up late last night reading album reviews of Watch the Throne, and while skimming through the usual,highbrow, I'm-too-deep-for-my-own good, analyses, I came across a review written allegedly written by my dude Ghostface Killah . Let me just say,Pretty Tony's fake review wins the award, hands-down, for the most entertaining review of WTT,yet. However, my eyeballs were nearly melting by the time I was done reading.

The author provides his honest opinion, track by track of WTT, no dick-riding and I appreciate that. But it seems the internet version of Mr-no girl could freak me/I'm just too nasty [loved that line], is one of those dudes who is downright frightened of femininity. Besides his rail against Swizz Beatz[he went in], Ghostface reserves his most colorful language for those tracks too "soft" to penetrate all that hard-ass earwax, he apparently has in his ears.

Take for example this gem referencing, track two, "Lift Off" [very underrated cut,so far, in my humble opinion]. The reviewer describes his listening experience to being "penetrated by a million microscopic dicks"...

What?

So... the nearly continuous sound of a woman's voice, makes him have a nightmarish vision of getting fucked by men? Really lets not even speak on the homoerotic implications of that statement by this allegedly razor-straight male...

But then again lets...

I was happy to see someone even attempt to address the topic of homoeroticism and hip hop culture, lord knows it's one of my favorites. Too bad the example he points to in WTT is totally wrong-headed and ridiculous . He assigns some apparent homoeroticism to the title of track 3, Niggas in Paris. Who knew just a bunch of niggas simply being located in Paris, was as homoerotic as chocolate-skinned boys feeding each other strawberries on the Champs Elysee ? I think this interpretation of the phrase "Niggas in Paris" and the visual of a million, tiny, pricks, are quite possibly the most homoerotic statements made about rap music this year [ at least until Rocko, Webbie, and Gucci do another song together].

I guess times have changed, but most of the gangsters I grew up under, couldn't wait to get in some linen, spark one up, and watch their boy Franky [of Franky Beverly and Maze] hit the stage. Which is what I envisioned, not tiny penises, when I heard that breakdown at the end of Lift Off. But Ghost is a pretty old dude (respectfully), so maybe all niggas up north are as cranky as the writer of this review.

No really,I kid my brothers and sisters up near that chilly air, because this affliction affects the minds of many men below the Mason Dixon line as well. Men, so homophobic,so unsure that they are indeed heterosexual men, that they need to be reminded constantly, as in all 16 of 16 bars, for 16 tracks.

It's Watch the Throne not a Jeezy album, dude.

The other two joints taken Watch the Throne to task for their softness are, Made in America and My Bitch. "Made in America", a song that features a chorus containing, in part, the following line:

"Sweet Queen Coretta...Sweet Queen Betty".

As in, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, wives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, respectively. I guess was unaware that paying homage to historical figures involves some sort of feminity or homosexual feelings.Ironically,My Bitch, which Ghostface says he mostly skips, contains the most misogynistic line on album, "get your own dog, cause that's my...". But even that wasn't good enough. I guess the moral of this story is to some men, it's either lay 'em down ( which this author is not doing too much these days, obviously]or fuck bitches--otherwise, it's no bitches [on wax.]

No diss,but I never knew that kind to keep the bad ones.

***
I really would've went in harder, if my respect for Ghostface hadn't been holding me back. But since I know now that this is just some wannabe, who got his feelings hurt one too many times, by one too many girls, in Kanye's words:

Ixnay off my dixnay, that's pig latin ix-bay


Love,

A 5 Zeus slaps type of broad-- namsayin,

Gypsy




Monday, August 15, 2011

Way Too Dope for Any of Those Civillians: Monday Morning Affirmation


Monday mornings are always a good time for me to stop, get quiet for a second, and remind myself of who I am. It's not about narcissism but reflection on the past and creating a vision of the future.

Sharing my Monday morning thoughts on Life in High Times is a lot of fun for me. I see it as a typing meditation that keeps me connected to my inner-self, in a world that can make me lose touch quickly. I don't know about everyone else but the journey toward my purpose can get difficult at times. As a young,black woman trying to make my way in this world, I definitely navigate some dicey territory. From keeping your dignity and your job ,loving men, while refusing to defer to them,to living in one of the most dangerous cities in America-- the road can get very rocky, to say the least.

The best weapon in this constant battle,as I have said in other posts,is self-confidence. Not arrogance, just surety, that you are worth and deserving of every dream that you have. There is no one on Earth, who doubts that,whose opinion you should take seriously. This is not to say that this surety will protect you from pain--it won't. I've lost friends, especially male ones, behind mine--but, good riddance...And if I didn't believe that with my whole heart, then,I damn sure do now. Like my girl B said, "Thank God I dodged that bullet."

If a person is disatified with the "type" of man/ woman you are its time to move on. The rest of world will try to invalidate you everyday, you don't need that bullshit from the one you love. Its useless to try to change yourself to better suit another person's tastes and preferences. Unless the change you are working toward stems from a true inner desire, it will only lead to your certain unhappiness.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am Kanye West's biggest fan. I think for all the "don't do it after me" moments that Yeezy has [allegedly] provided. There is also a powerful lesson to be drawn from the young brother. That thing that makes you different--the odd one out, can be your greatest strength-- if you embrace it, instead of letting hating ass motherfuckers eat you alive.

I don't sweat the boys who hurt my feelings in the past. The ones who made fun of the all the books I read, the way I talked, the music I listened to, the clothes I wore. I will never forget the first one to tell me he loved me, but "sometimes nigga just wants to be with a regular girl."

Well... you go ahead and do that sir, I remember thinking-- but I was also crushed. The wages of walking the walk of a very un-regular girl, may be that sometimes you walk that road on your own--dolo. That thought used to scare me very much,but that was a long time ago. Now the only man I want is a real comrade. So in honor of the Kanye West Workout Plan for self esteem, here is my own bite-sized ego confession:

I was much too fly for him to fuck with anyway,


Love,

Gypsy


Some throwback video of Kanye in the studio with Jay...believe in yourself folks...

Friday, August 12, 2011

The First Love is Self: Feminism Friday

***
Recently, the Wall Street Journal featured an article about the "crisis" in the black community. The article laments the fact that 70% of black women are unmarried and what, if anything, we can do about it. So being that it is that only 30% of us have found our [alleged] prince charming, had 2.5 kids, erected the picket fence and bought the dog... now what?

Where the Wall Street Journal sees a calamity, a feminist sees the opportunity for radical change. I'd posit that what most black women need more than a "husband" is a serious realignment of their loyalties, priorities, the mental space to revaluate their lives , and the economic opportunity to enjoy their worth and purpose.

We are all were endowed with certain gifts and abilities, the power to live to our full potential, to offer the best of ourselves to the world. That is a strength that flows through the self and before we extend our hands in service to our partner, we must first be cognizant of their capability.

As women--society, men, our mothers, fathers, our religion, teach us that to an extent, giving up one's own self to be a "wife" is a noble, spiritual, sacrifice. I think it’s high time that women begin to reconceive and embrace an evolving spirituality that fosters growth, wellness and change in themselves and their communities.

***
In the face of all those voices, I am going to offer a radical idea...you deserve to be happy.There is no higher calling in life--self-actualization; it is your divine, inalienable right. I remember Rihanna's interview with Diane Sawyer, when she said you have to get to a point where you are like, "fuck love".

If that love is only pain, or the death of your own self-identity, than it is an illusion. In that situation the only thing to do is grow a pair and face the fact that the emperor is definitely wearing no clothes.

A long term relationship, legal or otherwise can be a positive and rewarding experience. No doubt--a person who truly loves you, supports the vision you have for yourself, and reciprocates the love you give, is the shit.

But if it ain't that, then it ain't shit ladies.

There is a whole world, with infinite possibilities, in front of us. It’s time for women in the 70% to begin to contemplate love, life, companionship and friendship as a practical matter not a fairy tale-- our lives depend on it.


If I talk it-- I lived it,

Love,

Gypsy

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer of Love Part VI:1000 Miles From Downtown

Since he passed away,whenever I'm Uptown I feel a force like gravity, that propels me toward the two apartments I lived in and shared with, Tim, my little boy's dad. The first one, in the 2900 block of Carondelet,sat up high on the third floor.The large, enclosed-porch provided a birds- eye- view of the neighborhood and the big hurricane windows made it an excellent greenhouse.

However,that was exactly what kept me shut out Saturday,and I was disapointed to the point of tears.It was almost as if I had expected to see myself--us-- sitting up there, feet kicked up on the glass. For a moment, I had believed I could walk right into my old life. If my former landlord had been home, I think, I might have asked her to go inside.

I sat there, a long time in the heat, wondering what I would have found inside.

Let down, yet odly satisfied,I continued my trek up Carondelet,the sun beating into my back, my whole body wringing wet. As I walked my old route to work, a couple horns beeped and I smiled at the familiar faces behind the wheel.

"Whoa...You back up here, now?"

"Nah, just visting, ya know..."

****

What I was doing Uptown was meeting with MelaNated, the collective of young writers of color in New Orleans, that I belong to. It felt good to be headed there,as I had been in need for some genuine communion. As a lapsed Catholic-almost Muslim-ancestor worshipping-pagan-animist enthusiast-Buddhist-- gathering with like minds is as close as I come to church, so I value their time a great deal.

MelaNated met at the McKenna Museum of African Art this weekend, and it's true, the winds move in circles. Sitting in that circle of writers, all trying to figure out our "way-in", I realized that I had reached the precise place where my old life, and the new one stretching out in front of me--met.

****
After having given up on entry into my old abode on Carondelet, I had crossed to the other side of St. Charles and found myself barrelling, on foot, toward Jackson Avenue in the hundred degree heat. Near fainting I finally stood outside the big,yellow, antebellum home that was Tim and I's second residence.

The whole walk, I had hoped that the lock on the front gate had not been repaired.It hadn't and I stood in the large yard,we had loved, feeling an emotion that could only be described as sublime. The grief still put me on my knees, but there was a welling since of gratitude that I couldn't deny. This was where Tim taught and I learned, the patience and beauty in bird-watching--how to contemplate life in a little bit of quiet.

This apartment was two blocks from the hotel on St. Charles Ave, where I worked,and three from the McKenna museum. Tim had been talking with the curator, working on some things, he was so eager to show them that he belonged on those walls. You could have found me lingering there, back in 07 ,smoking on the steps...waiting...

****

Love is a hoop, that's what the old ones say. It is a sacred circle that can never be broken.

I believe in what I'm doing, way down where I live now, on the other side of town. Saturday, I stood on the steps in my old neighborhood, and smiled with a group of people, I know are special. We are here, where much history has landed us, we carry the stories of the past in our palms and the future on our fingertips...


Down,

but Still fuck around Uptown,

Gypsy

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bottoms Up: Rebel Flower Feminism Friday

Back home in her native Barbados,Rihanna took a load off last week to enjoy the Kadooment Day parades and took a lot of flack, in my opinion, for having a good ass time. Pictures of the Bajan star, clad in an amalgamation of red strings, feathers and gold appliques, backing it up on the boys and girls of her homeland, were all over the blogs I frequent most often. I was unfortunately not surprised at the healthy amount of negative backlash at her behavior. There was even some outright name calling. Slut,hoe,trashy,etc. were all words tossed around mindlessly.

The trouble with this type of insulting lanuage is that the equivalent is rarely leveled at any of Rihanna's male counterparts for any of their reckless, mindless behavior or messages they promote. Furthermore,framing the beef with Rihanna's actions, around male approval/dissaproval of them, reeks of the worst kind of sexual domination that is the result of patriarchy. The result for girls being that any expression sexual or otherwise must be made with this thought in mind, what will he think?

Once again "respectability politics", to use author Joan Morgan's [When the Chickenheads Come Home to Roost] term, rears its ugly ass head. Respectability politics say that there is a marked difference between what a nice girl says and does and what a slutty one does. And that if you want to know what that difference is, you should check with men of dating age and ask them. Then, in all their infinite wisdom, they will tell you that nice girls don't get half-naked in the street and dance.

So what if you're a smart,beautiful girl, with something to say and a life to live instead?

Rihanna challenges the respectability politics that would have her be demure, humble, as if she should be almost apologetic for all the fuss she caused, in the wake of the Chris Brown scandal. I think what bothers some people about her, is after getting her ass beat,they think she should have the "decency" or "good sense" to clean it up and/or cover it up.

Why I decided to include Rihanna on my Feminism Friday post, is because Rihanna dosen't seem to give a fuck about, what some people feel, she should be doing. I find that refreshing. Rihanna is a lover, sex in the air ,she loves the smell of it, and she isn't afraid to say so or show it. I could think of worse things to inflict upon the world with your music.Rihanna is having the time of her life, instead of repenting, and that's why I can't help but love her.

Personally, I think some people should lighten up. I'm from New Orleans, sometimes referred to as the northern most Carribean city, and dancing like this goes on all the time. Any given Sunday and definitely on Mardi Gras day. Carnival is about letting go of yourself and your inhibitions, letting a persona out, even if for a day--its about the release.

I think Rihanna, as she did at some unruly fans,in Barbados, would probably flip the bird, at people who don't get it, who have never experienced the freedom of Carnival. And as for men that disaprove, I think Rihanna knows, she's got a little too much truck for them to back up, anyway.

Do what you wanna'

Gypsy

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Say My Name...Drizzy Drake: Evening Time Vibe

Say what you will, macho men and women, but I love Drizzy...with his sensitive,scruffy-faced, hung up on love ass. We all have feelings, Drake is just one of the few men in the game willing to admit it.I could listen to him all night. Which I'd suffice to say is a good strategy for a straight male. Maybe it's me, but I find it rather odd that making too many "love" songs or showing feelings towards a woman gets you labeled "gay" by some.

We all have a lot to learn about love. I'm on one though, with Mr. Do Right And Kill Everything.

One bar at a time...

Love,

Gypsy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blessed are the Poor: A Call to Arms from James Baldwin


Words like "freedom," "justice," "democracy" are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply."

-James Baldwin

Though not an anarchist, I definitely put my fist up. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, more reading and realizing, I should say, and it has been totally mind-blowing.

In the last four years of the Bush administration, minorities in this country lost over half of their net-worth,with white families experiencing a net loss of 16% on average. Now according to The Institute on Assets and Social Policy, the average white family is now about $95,000 richer, on average, than the average black family. So there it is in black and white [pun intended]:the economic triumphs and failures in this nation have occurred on the backs of black and brown people. A wealth gap such as this belies any other explanation than the deep systemic racial inequities that persist in this country.So If ever there were a need for true activism again, that time is now.

I often find myself frustrated, wondering where our outrage is. When the truth of the matter is that a lot of people's lives are just too hard--many of us are simply too tired to fight.


That is why today, on the 86th birthday of one of the greatest black intellectuals, a radical thinker, who taught me to never be scared to show my true face to the world, I am calling on us all. I am calling on the good white men and women that I have met, that say they are in opposition to racism,hate and privelidge. I am calling on Christians, Jews, Muslims, pagans and atheists.I am calling on the Talented Tenth, my peers,those brothers and sisters,that "made it out". And I am calling on my people in the belly of the beast, where every day is a struggle and every new morning seen is a victory.

I am calling on us all to stand up and be counted among the righteous.

There has been a shift, out of necessity, to an every-man-for-himself, 'protect my own home' mentality. But such is life now, the walls of our castles and shacks are crumbling and so are the roads that take us there. Our futures are being sacraficed in the name of misguided principles and outright hatred. There are a series of dots out there, a subject in school labeled, history, just waiting to be connected. From the black soldiers that were denied benefits under the GI Bill after World War II to the documented, discriminatory practices that denied black people access to home loans, that moved many whites to the middle-class in the 50's and 60's. Poverty is a deep, systemic failure in this country, not a moral one on the part of poor. And its high time the educated, really educate themselves to this fact.

All the moral failings of the poor black community that are so quickly pointed to (i.e. criminal activity, single-parent households,lack of paternal involvement etc.)are results of this poverty-problem, not the cause.If moral character determined your financial status, I'd know a lot more broke motherfuckers. And in my experience of the world, the people with the most have been the most bankrupt, when it comes to inner resources.

The culture of poverty may be hard to understand for those on the outside of it. But it is incumbent upon and in our best interest, to seriously confront what it is doing to us as a nation. It may make you feel good to think that the cream rises to the top, but its simply not true. Some of us were born with cement shoes.

Just yesterday, the Republican representative out of Colorado, likened the President of the United States to a tar-baby. Proving that,"Even if you in a Benz/ you still a nigga in a coup"

Get Up, Stand Up

Gypsy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chopper Bullets Burn: Crime and Punishment in New Orleans

When I opened my jury summons in the mail, I was excited. To some this would mean lost wages and a tedious month of nothing, but for me this was a full-blown,"writer's vacation". Two days per week, for a month, I would have nothing to do but sit and write, while I waited for someone to call my name.

What I hadn't anticipated was how I would feel, when finally,they did.

Upon entering the courtroom, I felt a palpable sadness for every victim I had known. The knots in my stomach,were similar to the ones that I feel,every time I hear a loud, sudden noise, no matter how unlike a gunshot it sounds. There were thoughts of the select few people, I wish were rotting inside somebody's cell, and those, who I had been happy to see beat their charges.All and all I knew, I wasn't willing or fit to sit in judgement of the way things happen on the streets of New Orleans.

Growing up here,violence is an inextricable part of the coming of age process. By the time, and most times before we reach adulthood, violent crime and its net effects, have marked the lives of most of our friends and family. Victims and perpetrators, are often times cut from the same cloth. A lot of times you know them both--so justice is a funny concept here.

Who pays? The guilty, or, as a friend said, laughing sadly,the last man standing? Are those two things one and the same? Can't they sometimes be mutually exclusive?

Many people live outside of justice here, at least the legal system's version of it. Sometimes, I think my city,New Orleans, is as close to the Wild West as it gets. We come from a city, a country, that has treated the epidemic of violence in its urban communities, as "our problem". Therefore,our perspective on right and wrong, crime and punishment, has been unquestionably shaped by this reality.

Kenny Rogers has a song, The Gambler. Which due to its unexpected, yet profound applicability to life in the NO, was set to a bounce beat some years back. You got to know when to hold em/ know when to fold em/ Know when to walk-away/ know when to run.


That last part is tough for some, we all have known ones to die behind their pride. I've run a few times in my day,and I'm damn sure not ashamed to say. Once, I stood my ground and survived, but I'm certainly not trying to press my luck.

Some scores can't be settled or retribution found in a courthouse. In New Orleans, its a bust back thing and, justice is not for all. I received some sound advice this weekend...

Protect your neck,mami...

Always,

Gypsy


*Original artwork by Timothy McGary Jr.
This may be hard for some people to hear, but this is what you call, no holds barred