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 23, 2011

Legendary Motown Singer-Songwriter Nick Ashford Transitions

singer-songwriter nick ashford transitioned monday at the age of 70 in a new york hospital. ashford & his wife valerie simpson formed the brilliant duo, ashford & simpson. together they penned elegant & soulful classics for marvin gaye, diana ross & chaka khan, among other artists. ashford was battling throat cancer & underwent radiation treatment.

ashford & simpson garnered their greatest success at motown with songs like "ain't no mountain high enough" & "reach out and touch somebody's hand," by ross, & "you're all i need to get by" by gaye & tammi terrell; in the early 90's, mary j. blige & method man remade the song, earning them a grammy for best hip hop duo.

the gifted pair created anthems for others, among them, "i'm every woman" by khan, which was later remade by whitney houston. ashford & simpson also triumphed writing for themselves. perhaps their best-known song was the 80's hit "solid as a rock."

after learning of his friend's death, verdine white of earth, wind & fire said, "his music is unmatched in terms of great songwriting...they had magic & that's what creates those wonderful hits...without those songs, those artists wouldn't have been able to go to the next level." on twitter alicia keys wrote, "i'm so sad that he's gone...so many of the greatest are are going to a greater place...what a legacy of infectious music...man!"

ashford & simpson initially met in 1964 in a new york city church. ashford, a south carolina native, came to nyc to pursue a dance career. simpson was a music student. after they connected the two decided to write songs together. said white, "they were always comfortable with each other & they made all of us comfortable, because they were comfortable."

their first major success occurred when they wrote "let's go get stoned" for the legendary ray charles. the bluesy, gospel-tinged song became a huge hit for charles; as such, it brought them to the attention of motown records, who signed them to write for their artists.

at motown they wrote romantic & soulful ballads for the charismatic duo of gaye & terrell. songs like "your precious love" & "ain't nothin' like the real thing" became instant classics. originally, "ain't no mountain high enough" was their hit, until ross later re-recorded it with a new arrangement fueled by sweeping pop grandeur - making it her signature song.

ross may have been their greatest muse: with her, they had some of their biggest songs & helped give her lifetime-defining hits distinguishing her solo career apart from the supremes. among the songs ross made were "reach out & touch," "the boss," "my house," & "missing you," a tribute to the late gaye & others. they also composed some of the music for "the wiz," the ill-fated movie musical starring ross & michael jackson.

in an industry where marriages & partnerships are fleeting, their relationship stood the test of time. "the thing is they were married & working together, that was what was special about them...everybody admired that," white said. married for 38 years, ashford & simpson helped sell millions of records for several artists in the midst of succeeding as their own entity. writing into the new millennium they were credited as co-writers for amy winehouse's "tears dry on their own."

the pair continued to perform, stretching more than four decades of exciting & riveting showmanship. they also were owners of the popular new york city restaurant sugar bar, where many top names & emerging artists would showcase their craft. in 2002, ashford & simpson were inducted into the songwriters hall of fame. ashford is survived by his wife & two daughters.

Monday, August 15, 2011

NBA Hall of Fame/Class of 2011

the naismith memorial basketball hall of fame welcomes the class of 2011:

teresa edwards. artis gilmore. herb magee. chris mullin. dennis rodman. arvydas sabonis. tom 'satch' sanders. reece 'goose' tatum. tara vanderveer. tex winter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Is There A Link Between Race & Disease?

around jackson, mississippi, where a common breakfast is eggs fried in lard, dr. herman a. taylor, jr. is known as "heart man." the respected university of mississippi cardiologist is director of the jackson heart study, the largest epidemiological investigation ever undertaken to discover the links between cardiovascular disease & race.

from now until 2014, dr. taylor, jr. & his team will follow 5,302 african-american residents of three mississippi counties: hinds, madison & rankin, they will observe their lives & seek to discover how their heart health is related to their environment.

for the study's participants there will be periodic medical examinations & referrals for care when problems arise. the ultimate aim of the $54 million investigation, dr. taylor, jr. said, "is to gain the information we need to stop an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases within the african-american community." the study is not without precedence.

the framington heart study, which tracked cardiovascular disease in three generations of new englanders, is thought to be the most productive investigation in public health history. but when the study was initiated in 1948, the town of framingham was mostly populated by second-generation immigrants & other whites. few blacks were included.

since 1963, death from cardiovascular disease for the nation as a whole has declined. yet, in regions like mississippi among african-americans mortality from heart disease is flat, or trending upward. particularly with women. a middle-aged african-american woman in mississippi has four times the risk of death from cardiovascular disease than a white woman elsewhere in the country.

dr. taylor, jr. & his team have identified a number of barriers to life quality, among them access to health care, high blood pressure, inactivity, obesity & smoking. they are also gathering relevant data on often overlooked issues such as anger, extended family, hostility, optimism, religion, social support & stress. they want to know what's killing folks.

african-american women in mississippi suffer from very high levels of obesity, higher than national averages. their rates of diabetes & hypertension are also quite high. fortunately, alcohol consumption among the women is much lower than average. additionally, the team will look at how these women respond to racial discrimination & how they cope with it.

one of the primary concerns of dr. taylor, jr's team is the immediate environment of the participants. a healthy lifestyle can be compromised when exercise - a jog or walk in the neighborhood - becomes a risky proposition. in other words: do people feel safe where they live? are there grocery stores in the area, or do people rely on the corner market with its customary jars of pickled eggs & pigs' feet on the counter?

in the traditional diets of african-americans in mississippi, the calories & fat are astronomical. they add up to being the fattest state in the nation. soul food, as such, could use a little tweaking. dr. taylor says, "the problem today for people living under stressful conditions is that harmful stuff is sometimes a cheap way to take a load off their lives & feel less stressed. i think that drives a lot of eating & smoking."

people in mississippi remember the highly controversial tuskegee study. in fact, the rationale for keeping valuable information from the study's participants was to not interfere with the history of their disease. says dr. taylor, jr., "we're an observational study. we take an active role in spreading the word about prevention. when one of our medical exams shows something of clinical importance in a participant, we contact their physician. if they don't have one, we have a group of local doctors who've volunteered to take them on."