i am

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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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson: Gone Too Soon At Age 50

about 6:30 pm thursday evening i received a text from my youngest sistah, tracey, in chicago, asking me if i heard about michael jackson having suffered a heart attack. b4 i was able to rsvp, less than 60 seconds lata, a friend in nyc texted me stating michael jackson was dead. how did i feel? shocked, stunned, in disbelief. immediately i called my friend, nate, to see if he was aware & to confirm what was, in my mind, a possible rumor bcuz with michael you just neva know. to my chagrin, it was true.

despite the efforts of his personal physician in his california home michael jackson's heart stopped beating around 2:30 pm. as i sit here listening to his media-maligned, yet melodic invincible cd, i'm thinking about my own mortality. born in the same (august) month, the king of pop was two years older than me. he also shares the same birthdate (8/29) as my aunt dianne in gary, indiana. for someone whose life was clouded in complexity, genius, isolation, mystery & woundedness, the brilliant legacy of michael joe jackson will continue long after my heart stops beating.

harlem's apollo theater has been swarmed by local/national media outlets since thursday. there was a multi-cultural mix of folks buying michael buttons, caps, posters & t-shirts, chatting, dancing, singing & trying to somehow make sense of his premature death. the commercialization of michael engulfed several blocks on 125th street. amazing how we profit from one's pain & rationalize it bcuz everyone else seems to do it! nothing is sacred anymore. the coroner had yet to release a report & black folks were selling shit with a quickness - just like when obama became prez.

did i buy something? damn skippy...

i feel for his kids. children who grow up without a father's direction, guidance & love experience an emptiness you cannot underestimate. his three kids' privacy was heavily guarded & they are, no doubt, cared for, yet their sudden loss makes my heart ache. much will be written about michael's transition in the weeks to come, but i affirm he was a compassionate humanitarian. his unconditional & universal love for children is well-known, despite the long held allegations of his sexual abuse of children, none of which i eva believed for one moment.

jackson's larger than life persona has fueled intense media scrutiny, internet chat room gossip & international tabloid rumors. whether the subject was his neverland ranch, peter pan muse, relationships with mccauley caulkin, gary coleman & ryan white, everyday folks (this writer included) always seemed to have a strong (!) opinion about his various idiosyncracies. what part did michael play in all this drama? he claimed innocence from the onset, asserting kids would neva hurt him as adults do, but, still, he was a grown ass man.

we adored him as a child. his infectious smile warmed the hearts of millions. he danced liked james brown, sang like frankie lymon & talked like, well, a happy little colored boy. omg. did i say colored? anyhoo, how many of us were glued to the idiot box when the j5 saturday morning cartoons came on? his solo work with legendary producer quincy jones changed the cultural landscape of music videos as we know it today - billie jean was the first video by an african-american artist to appear on mtv. but don't sleep, ralph mcdaniel's (hip hop infused, nyc based) video music box had mad love for mike b4 mtv, vh1 or bet.

michael's bright red leather jacket (from the beat it video), jheri curled hair, neon socks, penny loafer shoes, sequined glove & tuxedo pants shortened at the legs were unique fashion trademarks copied across the globe regardless of age, culture, gender, religion or sexual orientation. b4 his short-lived marriages to lisa marie presley & debbie rowe, he dated teen stars tatum o'neal & brooke shields. when did we last see him hooked up with a sistah? he wrote the song 'muscles,' for diana ross, giving rise to our morbid fascination with them as a potential (?) couple, but, at that point, his manhood was being questioned, too. did his androgynous look, introverted personality & squeaky voice confuse us?

no doubt, some folks have held michael was asexual, gay or phucked up...

author/meta-physician/professor deepak chopra was recently interviewed by cnn's anderson cooper about his 21 year friendship with michael. he characterized the gloved one as a caring, devoted & loving father who did not exhibit any type of inappropriate behavior in his presence. in fact, michael's kids spent considerable time playing with chopra's kids. chopra confirmed jackson's addiction to prescription drugs & admitted michael suffered from lupus, as well as a rare skin disease which some have long touted as anti-black bleaching cream. chopra vilified the plethora of celebrity hollywood doctors who feed the addiction of their patients, vowing to come forth with names at a lata date.

most media reports jackson's doctor gave him demerol. chopra said he also was given oxycontin & other narcotics to deal with his physical pain induced by lupus & the skin disease. toxicologists will offer their medical perspectives at some point. an autopsy can provide further insight into the exact nature of his untimely demise. of course, we may neva know the truth about how and/or why michael left the universe after half a century. his music can be heard in the streets, on the radio/tv & via the internet. he is, alas, gone too soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roger Federer Wins French Open Singles Title In Historic Fashion

world #2 roger federer of switzerland defeated roger soderling of sweden, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 to win his 1st french open singles crown. the historic win tied pete sampras for 14 grand slam singles titles, a record he hopes to break at this summer's wimbledon. despite losing the last three years in the french open final to world #1 rafael nadal of spain, federer persevered in perhaps his most difficult championship win. his most coveted trophy brought an onslaught of tears at match point, when soderling was unable to return his lethal forehand.

most pundits expected & predicted nadal would win a record fifth consecutive title. yet in the fourth round, the #23 seed soderling shocked the tennis world dominating nadal in four sets. hall of famer & tv analyst john mcenroe called soderling's win, "the greatest upset in the last 20 years of the game." in fact, this was soderling's first grand slam final yet he was thoroughly outplayed by federer, who entered the match with a 9-0 record against the much improved swede, who now ranks #12.

federer becomes the sixth man to capture all four grand slam singles titles. he joins andre agassi, don budge, roy emerson, rod laver & fred perry in the record books. also, federer has now played in 20 consecutive grand slam semifinals, a feat some are calling the joe dimaggio of tennis records. his durability, integrity & respect as an international athlete continues to marvel both the average fan & the top players on tour. soderling would later concede during the trophy ceremony, "he is the greatest tennis player of all time."

the first set lasted about 22 minutes as federer opened the match with a service break. federer served brilliantly throughout, not facing a break point until late in the second set. during the tension-filled tiebreaker federer aced soderling on four straight serves, drawing awes from the adoring crowd at philippe chartier stadium. soderling eventually picked up his game, hitting winners from both angles, yet he lacked the mobility to track down the assortment of drop shots adeptly utilized by federer.

federer's road to the final was not without struggle as he faced adversity time & time again. in the second round against unseeded jose acasuso of spain, federer was down 1-5 in the third set, the match tied at a set apiece, before he found his range & prevailed in four sets. in the third round against paul-henri mathieu of france, he lost the first set convincingly, yet he would play well enough to get a tough four set win in front of a partisan crowd, despite the fat his opponent was playing on home turf.

in the fourth round against 31 year-old veteran tommy haas of germany, federer lost the first two sets. as the match unfolded he found himself in an unenviable position, serving at 3-4, break point in the third set, before unleashing his trademark inside out forehand. federer won the thrilling match in five sets. in the semi-finals against world #5 juan martin del porto of argentina he was down two sets to one. the 20 year-old had never won a set off federer in their five previous contests yet he was dominating on serve & hitting winners from the back of the court with ease. federer slowly turned the tide & fought his way to the final where he felt the pressure of expecting to win because nadal was no longer in the draw.

winning the french open singles championship is a difficult task for any player. each year a number of european-born clay-court specialists upset top-ranked players with discipline, patience & steadfast games. the red clay at roland garros is unlike any other surface on the atp tour. when you add the inevitable rain, swirling winds & topspin forehands you have a dusty road few are able to climb successfully. federer had long been hailed the second best clay court player in the game. but on this historic occasion, the now married & soon-to-be father was, in the words of tina turner, simply the best.

Friday, June 05, 2009

14 Years Of Freedom!

on may 20 god blessed me with 14 years of freedom from active addiction. thru his grace & mercy i feel spiritually refreshed & glad to be alive. most days. some days i'd rather hide under a bridge. with cable tv. some buffalo wings & french fries. a sexy chocolate man by my side to caress my body, stimulate my mind & feed my spirit. u know the deal...

anyhoo. i'm grateful to be clean. no alcohol, no caffeine, no drugs, no nicotine, no pork, no white bread, no white eggs, no white flour, no white meat, no white milk, no white popcorn, no white salt, no white sugar, etc. yeah: u know the deal. god has helped me clean my temple. so amazed am i not to be using any mind or mood-altering substances. my life was a mess b4 he rescued me from insanity, depravity & death. the day i got clean is 1 of the most important days in my life. may 20, 1995 is/was the beginning of my spiritual journey.

regular prayer & meditation cultivated a serenity i never knew existed. friends with brothas & sistahs all over the globe has given me the diversity i lacked. learning how to live one day at a time was the perspective eluding me for decades. what a joy it is to be clean! do i feel happy, joyous & free every day? no. but i do feel a peace of mind in experiencing a deeper level of self-acceptance accompanied by an awareness & empathy 4 others. in fact, helping others is 1 of the highest aspirations of the hue-man heart. god continues to use me as an instrument of his will. as such, we play beautiful music together.

no longer am i under the illusion of being his conductor.

recovery has fueled my creative passions in ways i long felt hopeless about. some of the dreams, goals & aspirations from my childhood & young adult years have awakened my spirit. collaborating with other artists has given me the opportunity to learn from my ongoing mistakes. even when i feel alone, depressed, sad and/or uninspired, i can connect with someone - online or on the phone or via a text - who understands my dilemma. its a relief to accept my shortcomings as an integral part of my humanity. after all, if i'm not perfect why would i expect others to be?

everywhere i travel people respect me today. some of the drug dealers in my hood call me by my 1st name only. when i was a kid growing up on the south side of chicago folks called me faggot, punk & sissy so often i cringed walking down the street in public. the fear of public humiliation battered my spirit. emotional abuse & sexual abuse were constant companions. my manhood was attacked. i lived in a dark abyss of hatred, shame & terror. haunted by guilt & riddled with anxiety i secretly believed my life had no meaning, purpose or value. i'm wounded & i need to heal.

i can admit today i'm not frightened of the darkness but i'm afraid of the light. why? bcuz the truth will piss u off b4 it sets u free. sorting thru the confusion & contradiction of my life has been a painful process. i'm still learning to simply say, to myself, i hurt. my 97 year-old great- great grandmother used to tell me as a kid, "no one leaves this world unscathed." she also said, "let your conscience be your guide." her words of wisdom are with me with each breath i take. eugenia jefferson was my sojourner truth. she transitioned feb 16, 1976. her loving spirit shines a window thru my soul.

thank god i'm clean - just for today!