i am

My photo
harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Visit With My Doctor

Every two months or so, I take a 75 minute ride to the Bronx to visit my doctor. I usually have to wait about an hour to see her; she is very thorough w/ her patients, unlike some docs who treat you like a number. I don't mind waiting, she's worth it. In fact, I feel blessed to have the relationship I have w/ my primary care physician. I always feel better after leaving her office.

My doctor is a 50-something Latina: progressive, warm & caring. She affirms my pro-active holistic approach to health care. I appreciate her attentiveness. She is an active listener. We communicate well, primarily because there is a level of mutual respect. She knows I'm lazy, yet open-minded to change, even when I (immediately) resist her suggestions.

For example, this afternoon we talked about healthy eating habits. I've gained 20 pounds in the last two months. I've noticed I've been breathing harder, more often the last couple of weeks. While I have asthma & bronchitis, this is something new for me. She asserted a number of conflicting factors may be at play: allergies, anxiety, humidity & my recent weight gain. I was both comforted & relieved by her insight.

She respects my affinity for fried foods - a killer in the Black community - particularly french fries. I got a love jones for french fries & barbecuse sauce! Though I've developed a solid regimen for organic and/or vegetarian dishes, I eat Popeye's Chicken at least once a week, sometimes twice a week. And, there's the occasional trip to the Chinese food joint for gizzards. She suggested I practice harm reduction by peeling off the skin & ordering red beans & rice as a side dish.

She got issues...

You see, the idea was not appealing to me, yet I realize the benefits are practical. Also, she wants me to STOP eating french fries. Forever. Forever? Forever, ever? I need to meditate on that one. How can I eat a turkey burger or veggie burger w/ out my vice? I'm innately rebellious, sometimes to the detriment of my own health it seems. Perhaps I should, once again, re-examine the tumultous relationship between food & my aging body.

I resent having to consider changing my habits. Like a spoiled child, or reality show contestant, I want my cake & prize money too. For a brother who was raised on grease, sugar, pork & chocolate, this is too much work for my brain to register. There must be some common ground here...still, I trust my doctor's experience & integrity. I know she has my best interest at heart.

Maybe a few changes here & there aren't that bad. Change is good for the soul. According to my doctor, I could breathe easier, feel better & save money. This is my health we're talking about, right? Besides, what don't kill you will make you stronger.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Reality Shows: When Is Enough Enough?

Over the last decade, a disturbing trend emerged from the cable airwaves: reality shows. If I see another reality show, I will throw my cable box out of the window. And I like watching cable. Sometimes. I just don't understand the need for another reality show.

When MTV premiered "The Real World", a show about seven (twenty-something) strangers who would live together for four months - rent free (!) - in a New York City loft, they couldn't have envisioned the ensuing success, or raging obsession, which would follow. The gullible American public would later be introduced to shows like "Survivor", "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy", "College Hill", "The Apprentice", & "The Surreal Life."

Lately, it seems that every run of the mill celebrity is on television. Why? Because nobody wants to deal w/ their OWN reality, that's why! After 9-11, our society has become consumed w/ fear & terror. Perhaps our anxieites are lessened & we feel a little secure when we grab the remote control. Bobby Brown, Gene Simmons & Danny Bonaduce - yes, Danny Bonaduce - are the latest to grace the boob tube w/ half-hour episodes eerily reminiscent of situation-comedies w/ out the laugh tracks. They follow a path led by Nick & Jessica, who inspired Britany & Kevin, which gave us Venus & Serena.

The idea of following these folks around while they shop, eat, drive & sleep is neither interesting nor original, yet some people actually feel 'closer' to their idols when they discover they share the same toiletries. Whatever. I, for one, have had enough. I don't care what they do behind closed doors. This seems like an excuse to invade folks' privacy. I'm sick of reality shows. I'd rather watch Bewitched. But...

Has anybody seen Peaches & Herb?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Free Summer Concerts in NYC

Who says you need bank to have a good time in the big apple? Before I moved to NYC from Chicago in the winter of '86, I was led to believe NYC was the most expensive place to live in the world. On some levels, that is true, however each summer we host exciting music from the top local & international artists: and, the concerts are free.

Already this summer I've seen Regina Belle, Peabo Bryson, Lalah Hathaway, Patti LaBelle, Blue Magic, The Manhattans, The O'Jays - and I'm not done yet. The legendary Chaka Khan & the soulful Brothers Johnson will perform at Wingate Field in Brooklyn on August 15. Bluesman Olu Dara (Nas' father) will be at Marcus Garvey Park on August 18. The Mighty Sparrow & Shaggy headline Caribbean night at Wingate Field on August 22. Motown's own Marvelletes will grace Marcus Garvey Park on August 25.

Usually folks arrive up to 90 minutes early to get good seats, unless you bring your own chair, which I do. Having your own chair handy allows you free access to roam around until someobody tells you to sit down, as only a New Yorker can. Some of the concerts are family-oriented, though adults tend to leave their kids at home, which I appreciate, because some kids don't know how to be still & often forget they are not at home to do as they please.

One of the annoying side effects are the number of local politicains & other elected officials who send their reperesentatives to bombard you with brochures, flyers, palm cards & other literatue begging you to vote for their prospective candidate. I politelty decline to read anout anyone's platform - I come to party & will not be bothered by charts, fundraisers, graphs and/or statistics: its business, not personal.

The New York City Parks & Recreation Department has information detailing free concerts at various parks in each borough. Visit www.cityparksfoundation.org for dates, places and times. Unlike other rowdy events, the atmosphere is generally quite festive - in fact, I've never observed a violent incident. I don't envy the clean up crew, though; people these days are apparently oblivious to the need to preseve the environment. How much energy does it really take to throw garbage in a basket?

We've had a serious heatwave this summer. Even when its 90 or 95 degrees outside, it often feels like its 100 or 105 degrees outside. As such, the weather can be a factor in deciding to catch your favorite artist. Still, I don't let anyone or anything stop me from a free concert - my attitude: if its free, you'll see me. I've had a great time clapping, dancing & singing along to music that touches my heart. I genuinely enjoy watching people, particularly other adults, relax & have a good time w/ each other. The energy is live. The memories are priceless. The songs are timeless. And, the concerts are free.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Happy Earth Day: In Solitude

Today is my 45th earth day. I know most folks refer to their day of birth as their birthday, but Imhotep Gary Byrd - a longtme mentor - years ago referred to our day of birth as an earth day, since we are born just once, come from the one Creator, and all live on planet Earth together. Get it?

Anyway, I'm blessed & grateful to be alive. How about that? I've recieved several phone calls & e-mails from family & friends. The love is overflowing, yet their is a trace of sadness when I reflect. Last year at this time, my (then) partner, Miguel & I were waking up to breakfast in bed - my bed - as he showered me w/ cards, flowers, gifts & kisses. He treated me the way the Lion King deserves to be treated. Learn it!

We stopped at a neighborhood shop (in Harlem) & shared a gourmet wrap sandwich. We sat right in the window as he fed me from his hands. Later, we went shopping at Century 21. The weather was warm, I was in love & my heart was overjoyed. Finally, we got dressed in casual chic & he took me downtown to dinner at a classy restaurant. The joint was quiet, candle lit, light music in the background, our seats were reserved: I felt like Cinderella.

But I digress. A year later & no boyfriend in sight. Am I bitter? No. However, my heart still desires the affection, friendship & intimacy of another brother. I continue to live & enjoy life one day at a time. In fact, I feel stronger as an individual. I am quite resillient, if I must say so myself. My relationship w/ God flourishes each day. He is the one providing unconditional loving acceptance, no matter what. Through grace & mercy, I'm happy, joyous & free