When Afrocentric Art Goes [Right]: Tim Howard Enters the Pantheon.

 

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Tim Howard replaces Bob Marley in the Freedom Riders, because AMERICA. You’re all: “But, G.D., what about Nelson Mandela there in the back? He wasn’t American neither!” But that’s not Nelson Mandela. It’s Uncle Ben. Nice try, troll.

Just as the foundations of the American hegemon rest upon the fruitless toil of the Negro, so too did the World Cup hopes of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Shot after shot after gotdamn shot from the Belgians came  flying in at goal, only to be rebuffed and turned away by Tim Howard. It was a Herculean effort – the most saves in a World Cup match since they started tallying these stats in 1966, in fact — but Belgium was giving the U.S. back line that work. It was a match the Americans had no business winning, and, well…they didn’t. But Howard almost saved the game like memory cards. It was amazing to watch.

That is why Howard, and his mighty steed, Garvey, are more than deserving of entry into the pantheon of Greatest Negroes Who Ever Lived. Fannie Lou Hamer still has plenty of support on the Veterans Committee, and Beyonce probably is a safe bet to make it before it’s all said and done. But today is about celebrating Tim Howard. Godspeed, you Black Emperor!

How We Reclaim What Alzheimer’s Robs.

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You, lower left, taking one of many family pictures on the front porch. Clockwise from you: cousin Stephanie, your daughter, my Aunt Melita and Aunt Lorraine. You loved a good brooch and that particular shade of blue-green.

(x-posted from stacialbrown.com)

2128 Leahy Street, Muskegon, MI.

This is what I remember: a white house. Three levels, two bedrooms on the third floor where I was too afraid to sleep alone, your room on the first, where you let me sleep on a living room loveseat, twenty feet away from your door. Wallpaper. Yours was among the only houses I knew that had it. I grew up in brick buildings where family homes were referred to as “units” and leases dictated we keep the walls bare. One of your wallpaper patterns was pink. Maybe one had some green. The sun filled your kitchen. The some of the walls there were white. You had lots of cabinets and each one was full: more than one pattern of china, more sets that you’d ever need for one family gathering. Many dry goods.

Sometimes you had your milk delivered. In the ‘80s. (This is something I have to convince myself I didn’t imagine: the continued existence of professional milkmen in your neighborhood when I was little. But I am pretty sure it was true. I remember the bottles.)

A landing just off the kitchen led either down to the unfinished basement or into the lovely backyard. You gardened. I remember cornflowers. But I don’t know if they were in the grass or on the china or on the walls. You liked blue. I think of you often when I see gradients of blue. We sat in the yard and we counted the birds: cardinals and blue jays excited me most. But you knew more species by name than I would ever learn. We lured them with feeders and baths. We laughed as they pecked and preened and splashed. You were Mother Nature, as far as I was concerned. None of the black women in my life were more natural than you. But on many an occasion, my ears were scalded by the hot comb in your kitchen. I do not think you believed that a woman’s hair should look as wild or as free as her soul. More after the jump.

How to Spend 9 Years Without the Love of Your Life (A Tribute to Ruby Dee).

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(x-posted from stacialbrown.com)

Live to be 91. This is the hearty number of years he would’ve wished for you, even if it meant that nine of them would be lived without him. He will know how to wait. Try to remember a time before him. You were just as whole — which seems impossible to fathom, given how full you felt with him near, but it’s true. If you were not, he would not have sought you, found the echoing hollow near your neck and whispered revolution behind the first of many theater curtains. You were always fully his and fully your own. This is true, even now that he’s gone.

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Be the matinee idol next door, embodying housewives and grandmothers, Shakespearean shrews and slave women, while coming home to a husband who is writing you lines while you cook him dinner. You are rarely cast as the tragic beauty, nor the cleavage-baring vamp. You do not purr in leotards, are no dancing darling dashing off to the cabarets of France. But a stagecoach is as essential as a rollercoaster. We need long and stable passage more than the adrenaline thrill of a route that ends too soon. This has been why you are so beloved; you are approachable as our own matriarchs, as accessible as every brilliant woman any man worth his salt has been wise and lucky enough to adore.

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Laugh at the young folks idealizing your love, wondering aloud how you can possibly go on. Oh, the nights! How long and cold they must seem without the heft of a 57-year love on the other side of the bed! They do not know it all. Even the most glorious partners snore or break wind or talk about someone else they’re romancing in their sleep. And these are not the only nights you’ve slept alone. Besides, don’t these young ones know that you witnessed and weathered and railed against worse horrors together than the inevitable ache of Death willing you apart?

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Keep going because he left you marching orders. Look at the children and find him; he is right there, in the ardor of those eyes, in the firmness of their embrace, in their booming laughter. Not every widow and widower is afforded such auspice. Some are wrenched from one another without the least bit of warning. Some are left wondering what long lives would’ve wrought. You are living well and with no end of grace, in part for them.

In brief, be a bit like Ruby Dee: a warrior in your own right, who can conjure the besotted gaze of a newlywed as easily as the stern and steely glare of a no-nonsense elder; an actress, as unwilling to neatly fold away her hurt as to primly pretend she hasn’t dived a thousand leagues’ depth into passion. It all preserves you, loss and love, when you let it. And if you are open-handed, the balm of it protects everyone else you touch.

Then one day, when you are ready and the Good Lord wills, just go to him, like you always have, willing and aimed toward the next great adventure.

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Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it. ― Toni Morrison, Jazz

Random Midday Hotness: Get Up, Get Down.

I didn’t know much about the pair that makes up Sylvan Esso, or their work with their other bands before they teamed up for this collaboration. But “Coffee”, is one of those songs that makes you look up from what you’re doing, pull up the Shazam on your phone.

UPDATE: The great Ben Greenberg hipped us to this fun PopUp Chorus cover of “Coffee.” “Tough for a chorus to nail Meath’s timing but pretty sweet,” he says.

When Afrocentric Art Goes Wrong.

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The Poet And The POTUS Share A Post-Coital Embrace Amidst A Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape, Your Cousin, 2014


Most art historians consider this the most exemplary piece in Your Cousin’s red period. Nonetheless, many feel that her other pieces — most notably Michelle Obama Rubbing Amiri Baraka’s Feet After An Asteroid Impact — are more technically sophisticated works. When asked about her inspiration for The Poet And POTUS, Your Cousin said that it was her interpretation of the death of Jet magazine.

Blogging Scandal: Some Thoughts Before The Finale.

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The Scandal season finale is upon us! But it’s been a particularly rocky road to this end, right? There have been many musings on how Season 3 has been uneven and even suggestions on what could be done to salvage improve the series before it returns next fall. It’s good that we’re all engaging in this kind of postmortem right now. Scandal is in trouble. It’s as deep in trouble Sally Langston was at the end of last week’s ep.

G.D. and I planned to do a regular recap of the Season 3’s penultimate chapter, but time got away. We didn’t want to leave y’all hanging, though, so below are some raw notes on the state of the show.

Feel free to comment on anything specific you find here and also to make your predictions about the fates of your faves in the comments section.

We’ll be back with a season-ending recap in the week to come!

– Stacia

It’s hard to care about death and threat of death in the Scandal universe because none of the characters seem in any way real, relatable, or consistently drawn. The characterizations defy the rules of writing logic — but not in good or exciting ways.

Case in point: Joe Morton’s admission on Twitter that he’s booked a new show for fall suggests he’s definitely going to die here (unless he’s just messing with us? … He’s probably not, though). We’ve spent a season with him but we have very little sense of who he really was. Is he a monster and the devil and the life-suck that Jake and Huck (and Liv, up until like two episodes ago) insist he is — or is he who he says he is: someone who “became the bad guy” because the job required it? Do his motives matter if we’re not going to see him anymore? Did he redeem his relationship with Liv *at all?* Do we care about that?

In ABC’s long-defunct Alias (from which Scandal seems to be heavily borrowing its Pope Parents plot), the writers constantly toyed with whether or not we should root for the main character’s mother or father — both both characters were so richly drawn over such a long period of time, that toying made sense. They also had palpable chemistry, loved each other, hated each other, had love-hate sex. There was a whole other show embedded in their scenes.

We get none of that with Rowan and Maya. Everything is revealed through expository dialogue — and usually much later than it should be. Suddenly, as of last episode, Maya had a lover Liv’s whole life? Liv magically remembers her mother loving that guy? And now that guy’s dead after about three scenes? Really? Liv’s mother’s scenes reveal too little of her personality when she’s not in terror mode. Who is the woman? How’d she get to be treacherous? Does she have an endgame?

If she dies, will any of us miss her? Will Liv, who’s never shared enough screen time or one-on-one conversation with her, to know what the past 20 years of her life have wrought?

Are the black characters more thinly drawn (drawn thinner?) than the others? Harrison, Liv, her parents, the Senator dude? It seems that way to me, but maybe no one is all that well-developed? Huck, Mellie, and the Prez were. Quinn got a pretty significant backstory btwn seasons 1 and 2.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with a soap that relies heavily on the cliffhanger. But if a show does, the cliffhangers have to reliably deliver. These can’t because of characterization and how little we can care about people the writers can’t be bothered to pen consistently. Huck has lost all the qualities with which we empathized; Quinn never really had any. They waited until after he tortured her to hook them up and now we’re supposed to root for their hot and heavy extended scenes? When neither of them at all resemble the people we recognized from the first two seasons?

I said of last week’s episode that Jake is the most consistent character. He came in a creep/stalker (with a heart of gold); he’s still one.

Season 3 has been really odd.

Ok. Your turn. Vent, cheer, tell us what you expect to see in tonight’s finale.

Blogging Scandal: Pull It Together, Olivia.

So we’ve been slacking on our recaps, but we’re back on it tomorrow. In the interim, here’s Kid Fury giving voice to the feeling that so many of us have been harboring for the last season and a half. Namely: WTF, Liv?

(Oh, yeah. If your job isn’t the type of place amenable to F-bombs, wait ’til later.)

Random Midday Hotness: Winter Is Coming, So Scoot A Little Closer, Baby.

Are you a young lady whose entire family has been butchered at the orders of the sociopathic little goon you’re about to marry?

Or maybe you’re the last surviving member of some once-noble-but-incredibly-tacky aristocratic clan and, like, you’ve found out that you’re basically the only person who has any control over the last dragons in the world? (And you have some weird white savior shit going on to, but I digress.)

Oh, you’re neither? That’s okay. Mundane stresses are still stresses. So why don’t you pour some tea, grab a book and sit here by the fire? Winter is coming, baby, so why don’t we get cozy and unwind? Oooh, yeah.

What’s that? You say you’re only romantically interested in your brother, the arrogant one-handed knight? That’s cool, that’s cool. We can just have this moment.