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, October 29, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals Win 2011 World Series

the st. louis cardinals beat the texas rangers 6-2 in game seven to win the 2011 world series. chris carpenter pitched six solid innings to get his second win of the series. the 36 year-old all-star right hander gave up two runs in the first inning. he would shutdown the rangers but was relieved by the bullpen after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh inning.

third baseman david freese, a native kid who quit baseball in college, was named most valuable player. freese hit .348 & set postseason records with 21 runs batted in & 52 extra base hits, while tying a postseason record with 25 hits. he became the sixth player in major league baseball history to win the league championship series mvp & world series mvp.

the cardinals' improbable journey was all the more remarkable considering the plethora of obstacles they overcame. they lost starting pitcher adam wainwright before the first spring training game was played. all-stars albert pujols & matt holliday, in addition to freese, key players each, missed significant stretches of the regular season. but they never lost faith.

the redbirds were down 10 & 1/2 games in the wild card race to the atlanta braves on august 25. undaunted, they captured a playoff berth on the last day of the regular season. st. louis beat the heavily favored, 102-win philadelphia phillies in the division series & took care of the 96-win milwaukee brewers in the championship series.

returning home to busch stadium with a 3-2 deficit, the cardinals played one of the most exciting games in world series history. despite twice being down to their last strike they showed their resilliency. freese hit a two-run triple in the 9th inning to tie the game at 7-7. berkman singled in the 10th inning to even the score at 9-9. freese hit a dramatic leadoff walkoff solo homer in the 11th inning to earn them a shot at championship glory.

st. louis won their second world series crown in six years - they beat detroit in 2006 - in front of a stadium-record crowd of 47,399 loyal fans. hundreds more were stationed outside the park in ballpark village, hotel rooms across the street & even atop a nearby parking garage. their 11 championships are second all-time to the new york yankees, who have 27.

"when you play in a city like this, where we have the greatest fans in the world, they come out every day & they allowed us to do what we did this year," said cardinals general manager john mozeliak. "so i thank all of them & all our employees, because without them, we're not standing here. so thank you," he said.

cardinals manager tony la russa, who now has 3 world series rings as manager, admitted, "it was overwhelming. we were on the edge game after game after game. you might lose one, but as it got closer, elimination games, the character on this club is off the charts. we are more talented i think than some people realize, especially as we got healthy. but you play with that urgency, its a little scary at times & it takes a lot out of you, but its really fun to compete that way."

carpenter, 36, pitched on three days' rest for the second time in his career - the first, in the nlds against the phillies. "you can't say enough good things about the guy," said lance berkman, who hit over .400 in the series. "he's such a big game picther. what he's able to do goes beyond his stuff. the way he competes, the way he controls the game, the way he studies a lineup, knows how to pitch to it," berkman said.

the texas rangers lost their second straight world series, falling last year to the san francisco giants in five games. 50 years ago they were the washington senators. but in 1972 the franchise moved to texas. their 2010 mvp josh hamilton said about game seven, "we caught carpenter a little bit by surprise there in the first inning. but he did settle down. you can never get comfortable. i think we got the feeling that most teams felt during the season when they played us."

the cardinals improved to 8-3 in seven-game world series. as berkman said, "we're world series champions & nobody can take that away from us. what makes that even sweeter was the manner in which we won it. hollywood would have a hard time scripting something like this. you hear that sometimes, but its true with this team. the reality of it is way better than anything you can make up about the team."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Mountaintop - A Review

last thursday pm i attended the broadway premiere of playwright katori hall's olivier award-winning drama, the mountaintop. tony award nominee kenny leon directs samuel l. jackson as the rev. dr. martin luther king, jr. & angela bassett as camae, an enigmatic maid at the lorraine motel in memphis, tennessee where the civil rights leader has retired after delivering his legendary "i've been to the mountaintop" speech.

myself & the two buddies who invited me nestled into the mezzanine of the bernard b. jacobs theatre, undaunted by the chill inside. we were excited to witness two oscar nominated actors who have not worked together since the early 80's when the negro ensemble company produced colored people's time. says jackson, "we all know that somebody else was supposed to do the play & she didn't," referring to halle berry's rumored attachment, "but things always happen the way they're supposed to."

the part of camae was named after the playwright's mother (carrie-mae), who grew up near the lorraine motel. but bassett stresses hers is a fictitious character: "i'm doing my own thing." in shaping his portrayal, jackson - who was an usher at dr. king, jr's funeral - drew upon his connection beyond their shared spirit of activism. says jackson, "like me, he was a father, a husband & he dealt with fame."

the dubious encounter between dr. king, jr. & the maid takes place in room 306 of the motel on april 3, 1968, the night before his assassination. when jackson enters the room (to the audience's applause), what struck me immediately was his complete lack of physical resemblance to dr. king, jr. the make-up & wardrobe was terrible. additionally, his southern accent was horrendous. he consistently went in & out of the accent, which served more of a distraction than a reminder of dr. king's warmth.

still, the drama was interesting in depicting dr. king, jr. as a man, not an icon. anxious about writing an upcoming sermon & also out of pall malls, at one point he looks out the window & says, "where is that nigger with my cigarettes?" the audience howled with laughter, partly because those words were unexpected & also because the pain associated with the 'n' word has become normalized.

despite their quiet chemistry, this writer feels bassett overpowered jackson on stage. her role as camae was brilliant. her humanity evolved as the play progressed; ironically, she met dr. king, jr. on her first day of work. camae was initially meek & timid, somewhat awestruck. yet as they continued to rapport (aided by the liquor in her pocket & them sharing her pall malls) she became this fiery, sassy woman who could obviously hold her own.

there was a sense of discomfort in the air: dr. king, jr was openly flirting with camae. their sexual tension was palpable, yet camae made him subtly clear about her respect for his marriage & her dignity as a christian woman. she knew her worth. nevertheless, the two playfully traded jabs without causing harm. the actors' timing was sharp & the play's pace was brisk. hall's writing was excellent, allowing two people to become equals, regardless of their class & gender differences.

my friends & i liked the play immensely. seeing dr. king, jr. as a vulnerable hue-man being exceeded my expectations & shattered my illusions about his stoic image. ultimately, we were treated to a well-rounded portrait of a man with fears & flaws, yet remains steadfast to his principles. jackson said, "we hope audiences enjoy the play; more importantly, angela & i will enjoy being there together, telling this wonderful story."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Obama Dedicates MLK Memorial

at the dedication of a memorial of rev. dr. martin luther king, jr, president barack obama said, "an earthquake & hurricane may have delayed this day, but it was a day not to be denied." the memorial returned dr. king to the national mall - a symbol of the change he once galvanized - at a ceremony attended by thousands.

crowds began at dawn to crowd onto the memorial site, just southeast of the steps where king delivered his historic "i have a dream" speech. designed as what king described as a stone of hope hewn from a mountain of despair, the memorial is the first to a black man on the national mall & its parks, & the first monument to a non-president on the mall.

president obama said, "in this place he will stand for all time among monuments of those who fathered this nation & those who defended it...a black preacher, no official rank or title, who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams & our most lasting ideas - a man who stirred our conscience & thereby helped make our union more perfect."

obama also said the monument was not for the assassinated leader alone: "the movement of which he was a part depended on an entire generation of leaders. many are here today, & for their service & sacrifice we owe them our everlasting gratitude. this is a monument to your collective achievement."

the president went on to state, "some giants of the civil rights movement like rosa parks & dorothy height, benjamin hooks, rev. fred shuttlesworth, they've been taken from us these past few years. this monument attests to their strength & courage, & while we miss them dearly, we know they rest in a better place."

"finally," obama remarked, "there are the multitudes of men & women whose names never appear in the history books. those who marched & those who sang, those who sat in & those who stood firm. those who organized & those who mobilized - all those men & women who through countless acts of quiet heroism helped bring about changes few thought were even possible."

in conclusion, said obama, "faceless, anonymous, relentless young people, black & white, who have taken our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the constitution & the declaration of independence. to those men & women, those foot soldiers for justice, know that this monument is yours as well."

president obama was just six years old when dr. king was tragically gunned down on the balcony of the lorraine motel in memphis, tennessee. he credits dr. king with helping him pave the way to the white house as america's first black commander-in-chief. aretha franklin, stevie wonder & poet nikki giovanni were among those who honored the legacy of the nation's foremost civil rights leader. organizers anticipated over 50,000 people would attend.