Sunday, September 3, 2017

Jonny P.'s "Shine On" -- This singer deserves more attention

Full concert is on ReverbNation, Jonny P. Live at the Cotton Mill. From his bio on ReverbNation:
Jonny P is a soul artist and fashion designer who was born in New York City. This Nashville-based singer has a sound that's reminiscent of the greats of Motown. Jonny is poised to carve his modern soul mark in the landscape of R&B. His vocals are nothing but refreshing and his style is inspiring to those that crave true artistry. In his four years in Nashville he's released "Right to You," a six-track EP and is currently working on new music and projects set to release in 2016.
This Jonny P. is not to be confused with the deceased hiphop artist Johnny P. Better music and a missing "H" in this case makes all the difference.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Robin Sloan's 2004-2015 EPIC or Google and Amazon Take Over the World

(Initial post was at Jersey Goddess in 2004 or 2005.) First post of the month as I try to NaBloPoMo, the National Blog Posting Month project that pushes participating bloggers to post one blog per day for a month. I thought it fitting that my first post tie me to being an old webhead.

I recall when I first saw Robin Sloan's EPIC probably more than four years ago. I had it posted to my old website, that's in a state of pseudo sleep right now, when it was only available as a Flash file and sites got so much traffic from it that they lost bandwidth and had to rotate or split up hosting the file.

If you are unfamiliar with EPIC, then I'll say it's sort of a mini documentary (speculative) on the premise that Google takes over the world as newspapers die and we become a crowd-sourced planet of social media zombies.

The YouTube video is EPIC 2012; however, there's also an EPIC 2014. Sloan blogs at SnarkMarket.

Cool stuff.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Teen kills himself after woman, 45, rejects him - 1876

I do genealogical research. As a result, I sometimes search old newspapers, and from time to time, I am drawn to stories like the one in the screen shot that are written more like fiction than fact. The text is farther down in this post.

The old-style journalism fascinates, amuses, and disturbs me. So many of the stories of the past were written with a purple flourish, thick subjectivity, and wild speculation, I gather that editors and readers preferred such writing. Of course, this type of journalism is not truly dead. It's popular in the political sphere these days in a way and on gossip pages.

In the story here, I observe bias toward women as well as cruelty directed at the youth who committed suicide, even a kind of glee or schadenfreude. The writer attributes feelings and thoughts to the young man that another could not possibly know: "He prayed that his too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into dew." How many romances must the writer have read to write that sentence. The approach and style cause me to wonder whether the story is even true.

From the Opelousas Courier (Opelousas, Louisiana) Saturday, Feb. 19, 1876
A Nashville Romance - That was a sad story sent out from Nashville the other day. A small boy named Alfred Reddick, only fifteen years of age, formed a liaison some months ago with the wife of David Rees. On Friday last the estimable lady informed the young man that he would have to discontinue his visits. This broke the young man's tender heart. He prayed that his too, too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into dew. The uses of this life appeared to him weary, flat, stale and unprofitable. He called at the home of his charmer. She was inexorable. He stepped into the husband's apartment, drew a pistol and blew out his itty, ootsy, tootsy brains. The dispatch says that Reddick was passionately enamored of Mrs. Rees, and would have done anything at her command. The coroner's jury found a verdict of suicide and charged the woman with being the cause of the deed. It is said that Mrs. Rees has daughters old enough to have been Reddick's mother. Alas, for poor humanity!
 So, a woman, probably in her mid-forties, is blamed for a teenager's suicide. She is called a "charmer," and their relationship is assumed to have been romantic. But for all we know and probably for all the writer knew, the boy could have developed a crush, and the woman did nothing intentionally to encourage it. She could have been teaching him how to read or do arithmetic, for all we know.

If there had been a Facebook back then, I'm sure this story would have been shared repeatedly, especially if Mrs. Rees was well-known known figure. Even I shifted my headline toward the scandalous because I know how the human mind works still.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Prince plays songs from his vault in concert, 2009 (video)

I came across this treasure on YouTube, His Purple Highness performing songs from The Vault:  Old Friends for Sale and other jazz pieces in a Los Angeles concert, 2009. I bought a copy of the album a few years ago. The concert is so much more. BTW, Chaka Khan also appears during the show singing her song "Sweet Thing."

The album Old Friends for Sale includes not only the same-titled song but other lesser known songs of his such as "Five Women," "She Spoke to Me," and "Extraordinary." It's a pretty short collection. Given his death, the song that gets me now on the album is "My Little Pill," a brief tune indicating addiction to prescription medication.

Prince was a gift to the planet. There will never be another like him.

In other news about The Purple One, supposed previously unknown offspring are announcing themselves so they can get a piece of the Prince estate pie. They must take DNA tests, a judge ruled. Carlin Q. Williams, the Colorado inmate who claimed to be Prince's son, has already failed his test. The courts could have saved itself money on that one. The 39-year-old does not look anything like the star, not even Prince from the 70s.

Even possible half-siblings have come forward. I know of one Prince half-sibling who is definitely his sister, or at least he acknowledged her as his sister. I'll be surprised, however, if any of the alleged offspring are genuine because Prince wanted a child of his own pretty badly. If he knew of one, he would have acknowledged the kid when he was alive.

On the other hand, he had so many gatekeepers that it's possible a son or daughter did try to make a case to him that he or she was his child, but Prince never got the message.

I still can't believe that he didn't make out a will because he seemed to take care of business otherwise. Of course, dead at 57 is fairly young today. Most people don't think that they may die too soon. As for Prince, his physical body is gone, but the body of his work is immortal.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Southside with You: Obamas' love story opens this month

I was so deep in the academic hole for the first six months of the year that I completely missed news about the movie Southside with You, the story of Michelle and Barack Obama's romance. The film pays homage to the president and First Lady's initial courtship and opens in limited release August 26. So, I'll be scouting websites, Twitter, creating a Google alert, whatever I can do so I can't miss the film when it comes to New Orleans.

Produced by singer/songwriter John Legend and written and directed by Richard Tanne, the movie premiered with good reviews at the Sundance Festival in January. Based on the trailer, I'll say it's a winner already.

I remember one of the first times I heard a story about the first couple's courtship and said, "Sounds like a romance novel or a romantic comedy." I believe at least one of those times I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. Their love story made me happy because we don't hear enough, read enough, or see enough stories about healthy, black, romantic relationships.

Tika Sumpter, a young actress who became much more visible after appearing in Tyler Perry's soap opera on OWN, makes a wonderful Michelle Obama based on what I see in the trailer. I don't know much about Parker Sawyers' work (He plays Barack.), but I do recall him in The Assets TV show. He also is believable in the trailer.

The first couple was not consulted about the making of the film, but according to Tanne, they're aware of it, are excited about the movie, but "baffled by its existence." In a Vanity Fair interview, the writer/director says he gathered all his information from public domain sources, probably the Oprah show and other interviews with the Michelle and/or Barack. He thinks his script is mostly accurate. From what I 've seen, he's caught the warmth and humor of the stories as I recall them.

I've already subscribed to Fandango news to make sure I get a ticket. I mean, Southside with You better show here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Rattle Magazine published my poem last month

Almost a month has passed since Rattle Magazine published my poem "Digital Anthropologists Find Our Hashtags" for its Poets Respond series. The poem explores specifically the consecutive shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, by police officers in the first full week of July.

Just hours after I submitted the poem, a sniper killed and wounded police officers in Dallas, Texas. That week of July brimmed too much with violence, grief, and pointed fingers. So, although I was pleased Rattle had accepted the poem, I was also too through with humanity to share at this blog my poem's publication on Tuesday, July 12.

I share it now because since then I've gotten notes and calls from people telling me how they felt about the poem, which you may read at Rattle's site. Acknowledging publication at my blog is appropriate.

The poem was one of two the magazine published that week following the shootings. On Sunday, July  10, the site posted "The Dead Line," a poem by Nicole Homer, a poem that uses repetition to good effect.

Also, the website for the Academy of American Poets,, published a poem by the current Poet Laureate for the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, entitled "@ the Crossroads--A Sudden American Poem." Herrera's verse also addresses the present crisis and sorrow of police relationships with black and brown communities. Clearly he wrote his poem after the Dallas tragedy because the epigraph names the slain officers and is dated July 10. Homer and I wrote our poems before Dallas.

Sadly, by the time America solves this problem, by the time we all do the hard work of facing the root causes of this race-related crisis and too often reasonable distrust of police of officers, the world may have volumes of poems exploring or tackling this subject. There is no easy solution here because solutions means behaviors and systems must change, and people fear change, especially when change challenges the foundation of long-held world views and practices.

Verse can soothe, make space for catharsis, and initiate dialogue beyond the heated center. Poetry may not be as popular as it once was in this nation, but the art remains a source humans turn to during troubling hours.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Great Prince story from Matt Damon (video)

Rolling Stone has posted video of Matt Damon telling a great Prince story on the Jimmy Fallon show.  Of course, all Prince stories bring me joy except the one about his passing in April.

Damon is out promoting his latest film in the Bourne Identity series, Jason Bourne. I've been disappointed by Damon's politics, but I'm still a Bourne fan, so if you see the new film in the New Orleans metro area, you may bump into me.