Wednesday, November 23, 2005

out 20 (revised)

Greetings all. This is Ma'atology here one more time and I would first like to say thank you to those who have been reading my weblog, responding and telling folks about it. I have gotten several people tell me they keep up with it and that I have made several people who I hang with celebrities especially Kameron. I must say, the power of words and imagination is definitely an ongoing phenomenon in our celebrity-driven culture. I try to tell and report the truth of my travels and journeys as openly as possible because it is what makes human curiousity--as well as keep you popular in our mass society. OK, enough of the classroom talk, let's get to the jizz..........................................................................

Last Thursday, I went to Marla Gibbs' jazz CD listening party that was held at The Formula. I got there a little late (It started about 6 p.m. and I got there about 8:30 p.m.) But I had a chance to mingle and interview Ms. Gibbs who looked stunning in a dark blue pants suit. I first ran into Monica Tyson, who was over this event, to lead me to Ms. Gibbs so I could chat with her about her newfound career. So Monica lead me to her who was signing autographs of her CD, "It's Never Too Late." She stood up (She's tall--about 5' 10) and I shook her hand. It hit me then that I was about to talk to a living Tv legend. This lady has made history being in the longest running sitcom, "The Jeffersons, in TV history. It lasted for 10 seasons from 1975 to 1985 and was still high in the ratings when it went into TV Heaven (True, "Friends" ran for 10 seasons, and Happy Days for 11 seasons, but the Jeffersons also started off on All in the Family starting in 1971). She also made history becoming the first African AMerican-actor or actress to be on Tv for 20 consecutive years. Soon after the Jeffersons went off the air in the spring of 85, in the fall of 85 she turned back around with the hit show, "227" which ran for 5 years (1985-1990). So because of this, I was truely excited talking to Ms. Gibbs. So, when I asked my first question to her, I fumbled her Cd title. I said, "So, what made you decide to release your first CD, "It's About Time." YIPES! DOH! I felt so embarrassed and thought she was going to go into diva mode, but she was gracious and treated it like a comedy bit. She grabbed my forearm and said, "No, it's called, "It's Never Too Late, but, believe me, it is about time." And for those who know Ms. Gibbs and how she can curl a phrase, you know that the line was funny, I was expecting her to end her line by saying her classic ending, "chile." But anyway, she said that her Cd was two years in the making and she worked with her son, who is a music producer and worked on several songs with her grandson. I also asked how her Cd was doing and she said that everyone seems to love it and throughout her tour of the Cd across the country people are pleased of the CD. She also said that she uses her acting skills through the various songs of the CD. Then I asked her what she was currently woking on acting wise and she said that she was working on an untitled pilot for TV Land and a new stageplay. She was recectly in David Talbert's play, "Love on Layway" starring Mel Jackson ("Living Single" ) fame and R&B singer Deborah Cox. At this time, about 10 minutes had passed and her people were motioning to us for her to sign for copies of her Cd so before our departure, I gracefully shook her hand and said, "You are looking very beautiful this evening." And she blushed and said thank you. And I must say, she really did. She is 74 years old and she looks 20 years younger. I must say it;s one thing about black women and black people in general, when we age, we age gracefully when you take care of yourself, or as the streets would say, "black don't crack." Meanwhile, I made my rounds throughout the club. They were running old footage of the Jeffersons sitcom on a screen near the front of the club and had sumptuous finger foods and pastries caytered by Keith Tyrone. The tables had red tablecloths on them with romantic lit candles on top of them setting the jazz mood. In the house were Denise Thimes (looking divaish in her brown polka dotted full length fur), the Bosman Twins, April Spencer, Lisa May, Chrsitiaan Coffield, Brian, photographers Maurice Meredith and Dr. Pam Jackson David A.N. Jackson (I will try and make a Saturday performance at 609 soon), Erica Sutherlin, Alvin Jackson (Can I get some, too? LOL), Kwame Thompson, Formula owner Tony Thompson, Mariah Richardson (who was singing Sade during Karoake--no comment. LOL), and "someone-who-I-almost-got-into-an-alteraction-with-who-came-up-to-me-with-an-idle-threat-and-who-I-ignored-and-who-is-not-worth-mentioning-here" . Afterward, they brought out the Karaoke machine with a band playing the instruments. There were some who could sang (like bartenders Kevin Roston and Andrea Hayes who did a cute Marvin gaye-Tammi Terrell number and Rolston doing Anthony Hamilton's "Coming From Where I'm From") and some who was, well, neednt use a mike to elevate their voices (especially the brother who tried to sing Jefferey Osbornes' Love Ballad") I peaced out and went to 609 to meet up with my buddy Kameron to celebrate my NABJ Award that I was going to receive that Saturday..........

I drove up to 609 and got a parking space near the apartments around the corner from 609. As I was driving, I gave a sister 75 cents to get home on the bus and while I was walking toward 609, there were about 4 guys in a scuffle. Three guys were holding down one guy near a car saying that his life was over. I was like, here we go. This is not good. It was as cold as two popcicle sticks in a freezer and these brothers are in a scuffle over on eof the following: 1)a girl 2)money owed and/or 3) talking smack about ABC. As I was walking, I kept looking back making sure they didnt bring their altercations near me cause that was all I needed to be a part of that Human Tornado, but luckily, it didnt happen. So I walked up to the front of the bar/restaurant and paid my 3 bones to one of the owners, an Asian guy, to get in. Just as I was about to walk in, the Asian guy close dthe door before I was about to walk in. The other guy that was inside opened the door and said, "Man, he coudl have at least held the door for you." I was livid. I was like, yeah, but I regrouped, saw Kam, gave him a frat hug and proceeded ondown where the makeshift dance floor was where DJ Nappy Needles was spinning in the 1s and 2s. Before getting there I saw sexy singer Coco Soul and gave her nice long hug and asked her where she was performing and she told me Blueberry Hill that Saturday and made sure to be there. Me and Kam were standing next to STL boxing champ Cory Spinks who was chilling in the cut. I told Kam, that Spinks should be somewhere training to lose another fight (implying the alleged fight he had with his wife earlier this year). It was a bad joke, but hey, someone had to say it. Kam was buying drinks and I asked for a Long Island. I forgot what he ordered, but we toasted on the success of winning my award and gulped away. Before you know it, I wa sgetting my buzz on--quickly. The Island I got was definitely NOT watered down. It was as stronger as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1970s . At this time, Christiaan, Brian, and Kevin Johnson was up in there. Meanwhile, I was saying my hellos to the socialites and told Kam about my stop at Marla Gibbs' Cd party and the near altercation I almost had with someone up in there (his name is not even worth mentioning here) and proceeded to drink my buzz juice. The music was blazed and I was feeling nice. Kam and I walked around in the now packed area to the bar area where Christiaan, Brian, Kevin J and Coco Soul were and stayed there. Kam had said that some sista had touched his ass, and, in my drunken stupor, said, "I think a brother just touched mine, oh shyt!"I had everyone near me rolling in laughter. Then, I saw Keith HArris roll up in there and I teased him about his fight he had in front of Club Seven a few weeks back with some other guys and I said to him, "Oh don't hit me." and motioned as though he was about to hit me. He laughed it off and kept walking by. I asked Kevin about whether if he found out who was the stupid gossip blogger that Delores Shante talked about in a recent article in Partyline about that blogger's whacked out opinion that he thought hip-hop writers from the Post and American seemed gay and he said no he didn't and that was the end of that. It was going on 1sh in the morn and Christiaan and Brian was ready to leave. Christiaan had given me his drink that he was drinking and that pretty much took me to the oh-oh-can't drive state. Before Brian left, he said to me, "Now you stay out of trouble, cause I can see it in your eyes." He was right cause I was ready for some. Soon afterward, Kam and I walked outside in the front of 609 and the cold hadnt reached me. I had to see who was up in there when they started pouring out of there close to 2 in the morning. I ran into my other buddy, Carlos Mclaurin, who was with his new hottie, this brunette chick (he was kicking it with Gina Wynn, the white sista who swaer to never date models again). I gave him a frat hug and he asked me when my TV show was kicking off and I told him probably next month, and he told me about his housewarming party he was trying to get together, after that, I don't remember what I said to him, all I remember was Carlos breaking down laughing saying that I was crazy. Then I gave some dap to Kam and walked to my car. I called a buddy of mine that stayed in donwtoiwn Lou side and told him that I was in no need to drive all the way to the Illinois side and could I crash over his crib so I can sleep it off (There was no way I could drive to Kam's cause he stays all the way in North County) . He said it was cool but he was leaving to go to NYC in the early morning. So, I drove off slowly and cautiously and went to my buddy's house to sleep off this crazy but fun night.

I didn't do anything last Friday beside the gym but when I saw my girl Tiffany Graham at Blueberry Hill on Saturday (that I will report more on later in this blog posting) she todl me I forgot her going away party at Dreams that was to be on Friday. I was recouperating from 609 that all I could think about was sleep. I did manage to go to the gym cause I knew Saturday was going to be crazy with places to go.

Last Saturday, I checked out my buddy Joel King's stage reading of his play, "Real Life" that afternoon, at St. Louis Public Library downtown STL. I thought I would go there before picking up my award at the NABJ Awards at SImon Hall at Wash U that was going to start about 5:30 . So I got to the library so I could check this one out as well. I saw Joel's other plays--Meeting at the Elder's Circle and Me, Don and the Psychiatrist--that were stage read at COCA lat month. So whenever Joel has something I try to support him cause I was pivotal in his development as an actor when he acted in two of my productions The Ducthman and Ledragvaganza in 2002 at the former Hatshepsut Studio Gallery and to support bicariously the legacy of the late Lisa Colbert, a sista who was a theater teacher at SIU-E, who taught Joel and whom I befriended who died prematurely at the age of 32 from complications of lupus. The reading had some of Joel's acting cohorts as well as my boy Stuart Allen, who was also in Ledrag. Lisa May also was in it, who played Ray's grandma and Leah Stewart, who played Ray's mother. The play was about a young urban brother named Roy Vinson, played by Allen, whose life on the streets turned into a life of madness. I thought that it was going to be another typical Boyz N the Hood story, but it took a 360 turn when a dance number was brought into the mix. It was very West Side Storyish and put another perpesctive to the piece. With a few teakings here and there (especially the documentary angle and the setting problems), this could be a very refreshing piece on the urban hood genre. But the hitch was during the Q&A session when Joel's mother got up to congratulate Joel and his accomplisments. Just picture one of those church going mammas, who is a dark, fleshy woman, who gets emotional and praises the Lord everywhere she goes and that's Joel's mamma. She was getting into the troubles and pains that our urban youth is going through. She broke it down, but I believe she was getting overwrought with teh staggering stats of urban youth and death from violence and other activities. She said she works with many youth programs through her church and that Joel is saved and sanctified like his family and a vessel for change. It was very deep. It became a house of COGIC worhsip, for real. Surreal almost. I could just imagine how Joel was feeling as his mother was speaking so passionately about her strife. And what could he have said, "Okay, mamma, that's enough." He bore it and was professional about it. Then, the converstaion wnet into a weird place when the topic of molestation came about. Now in the play, theer was no reference to this, but Joel explained that in one of the characters a prostitute, it is disocvered that she wa smolested, but that scene was not seen (pun) to us. That lit a fuse for Joel's mother saying about the wickedness with molestation that goes on behind closed doors (she even brought on young people who are into threesomes!). And she said she tried to raise her 11 kids right (whooh, mamma wa snot playing). She also brought her 75 year old mother there, who was quiet and politely nodding her head, who said taughther about being morally right. True, the coversation brought on much needed dialogue, but it was very heavy handed, and the focus should have been more on the script(I wanted to ask wht the main characters thought about their charcters and the story but I didnt feel it was right to change the vibe of the conversation). Joel's mother even attacked Allen when she said that his acting needed to be lifted escpecially duing the last soliloquy when he was in the pen. Allen looked trapped. I was like uh-oh. But overall, the coversation was provocative. A little too Christianocentric for my taste, but it was definitely worth an ear.After the stage reading, I went to the NABJ Awards at Wash U. I remember going when I was a writer at the American in 2003 (and when Tavia Evans racked up a couple of awards when she was working there as well). The set up still the same with a silent auction of photo gods' pictures before the actual awards. I was there because I found out I was going to win Best Feature TV Story for cable for my workon former MAXX JAzz recording artist, Rene Marie on Charter Communications' now defunct show, Reel ENtertainment. I worked on the piece with my producer and buddy, Peter Foggy (That is a picture of Pete and I in the upper right hand corner holding the award after the awards ceremony --photo courtesy of Eric Wilson). The show was hosted by KSDK education reporter Sharon Stevens and KTVI Sports reporter Rob Desir. The hour and some minutes long event had categories in the print, and TV and over 100 entries were sent in who entered all together. The keynote speaker was Ellen Soeteber, former Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who resigned recently from her post after the reported buy out and budget cuts in people's salaries. Her speech was nice and non-threatening. I thought for sure she was going for the gusto and do her WOMANIFESTO about about the uncertainties in journalism especailly affter wthat transpired, But she was cool. She started off by saying could someone tell her what is the latest on Tom Joyner's "It's Your World." She even sang teh theme song. Now, what was funny about all this is, Ellen is not black and when she tried to sing the theme, she was really dragging it. But it was all in fun. Then during her speech, she said that she is from East Boogie and that she graduated from East Saint Louis Senior High. I couldnt help myself and clapped causing others to clap. But the thrust of her speech was about real change. She says that real change means real courage. I was feeling her about that. I wasnt paying too much attention to her speech cause I was focused on walking up to the podium to receive my award. I also discovered that my former boss Dr. Donald Suggs was getting the Hall of Fame Award. I thought that this was going to be interesting to receive my award on the same night that my former boss was getting an award. Now the killer part during the evening was that the tv winners' videos were to be shown on the screen screen in front of the stage. My heart went into my chest. I wasnt expecting that. So that meant that the video of me introducing Rene Marie would be shown. I am a stickler of how I look and to see myself that big on screen left much to be desired (Now I understand when actors say they do not like to see themselves on screen where you focus on your weak points and your physical flaws). So when it was time to introduce the video that Pete shot of me and Renee I slumped in my chair causing Pete to snicker a bit of my discomfort. I placed my hand on the sid eof my face and kind of peaked at the screen to see the video on screen and my head was literally HUUUUUUUUUUGE. I was so uncomfortable, as though I was getting a root canal, but I survived the minute video byte and got up with Pete to receive the award. I clapped for myself and saw Dr. Suggs daughter, Dina clapping and cheering vigorously for me which surprised me. I smiled graciously and both of them, did a "raise the roof" motion to the stage, picked up the award from one of the award handlers and for a split second wondered what I was going to do after I received the award. I turned around, faced the crowd and held it in front of my face which caused slight laughter. Soon after when I got to my seat, onlookers nearby gave me the thumbs up sign and a breathed out and glad I was able to find my seat. Post's Tavia Evans gave a short rundown of Suggs' bio and intro (She was cute when she said to him in the audience, "Am I getting this right?"). She presented Suggs his Hall of Fame Award and gave him a hug which was a nice touch, a reunion of sorts. Suggs also spoke short and sweet about the importance of black journalism and compairng it to a hospital with surgeons. I remember him saying this during those weekly editorial meetings when I was employed at the American and it wrung even truer when I heard him say it that in journalism, you must have writers who are on point at all times. Other winners of evening were StL American's Wiley Price, Alvin Reid (not present), Chris King, Carol Daniel (who was looking fierce in those black leather jeans), Donn Johnson (who had the laugh moment there when he asked where was the camera to take hos pictire), the Post's Bryan Burwell and KETC's Ruth Ezell. Soon after Larry Flynn of the Post and President of the NABJ (who gave the greeting at the award show) invited me to their after party sip at Chase Park Plaza. While I was driving, I saw something yellow on my windshield. I found out I got a parking ticket while parked at Wash U (That was JUUUUUUUUUUUUUST great!)When I arrived at the Chase, I saw Pete waiting in the lobby area of the Chase and told me where everyone was. they were sittign across from the theater getting situated. When I was about to walk up there, I saw American Idol contestant Phillipe with a tambourine in his hand standing next to two tall sexy sistas satinding in the lobby. I went up to him and he said he was performing in Cafe Eau and told me to come on through. I said I would try but my mind was on getting to Blueberry Hill, but I had to make nice with the NABJers and their get together. It was an intimate group of about 20 or so where me, Pete, Burwell, NABJ auction manager Gloria Ross, Post editor Lisa Manns (who is off the chain and man crazy), Flynn and Post's Ron Harris, Sharon Stevens and Ezell were the notables there. It was very interesting as the beer, Cosmos, popcorn, and chips and dips were flowing and the conversation got wilder and wilder. I wont reveal all the details but I must say it was like being a fly on the wall seeing some of the movers and shakers in journalism letting their hair down and talking about whatever came to their minds. I stayed for a minute but I needed to go where the action was at Blueberry Hill where Angela Brown had a set up in the Duck Room for Lamar Harris and his band The L's CD that was on sale as well the various artists performing on stage like Lamar, Coul Train, Jada Avenue, Coco Soul, and poets IMPAKT and Chill Da Playa. It was hosted by Selena J, who also spat some lyrics for the packed crowd in the dungeon. The event reminded me so much of The Flow back in the day where a band was on stage and you had poets and singers performing. When I got there, Kam was standing talking to this cat who had on a white nylon cap who came up to me and said, "What are you wearing? Your fro looks like half of it is still curley?" I looked at him, put my hand on his shoulder and said, "How many of those beers have you been drinking?" and" Are you supposed to be a comedian or something?" Then he said, "No, no, it's not like that, I'm just checking what you got on, taking it all in." Huh? Okay. All I said after that was, "It's all in your attitude." Then Kam interjected and said to the brother, "Come on, he's a popular brother around here." The whole sceanrio was funny to me. he was just another confused fan who needed to be coverted to my world is all I can say. LOL I've been dressing my unique style ever since college and its like drinking water or sleeping to me--being different fashion-wise is what I am all about to get people talking and challenge what should be worn (To recap, I had on a large blue suit coat, a large tan shirt with big collars, large gaucho like blue pants and blue Converse shoes--the attire for the NABJ awards) . After that, Kam said to me your boy is here (The one I almost had an altercation with at Formula) so he put me on guard and told him that whatever happend til now, is what's going to happen. But I was in no far cause if they tried anything, I'm sure I had the backings of many up in there who I knew to fight my battle for me. Anyway, teh evening was pure neo-soul, everyone was on point, escpecially the L band who was tearing up some rock and jazz riffs behind the artists who performed. Oh and the one-who-I almost had an altercation with avoided me up in there(the saga will continue I'm sure ) In the house were Cody Aaron (hope your feet feel better. LOL), Demond Meeks, Charles Brown, Jacque Land, Brian, M.P.E.R.O.R., Delmor Loop mogul Joe Edwards, Maurice Minor, KSDK's Jeff Small, Kevin Johnson, Nate Johnson (Selena's sis), and Tiffany Graham.

In closing, I finally had a chance to interview Forest Park College English professor JK Dennis in his office at the college this past Monday on his book, 9 Lessons for a Meaningful Life. He is a very deep brotha and looking forward to writing the story for West End Word and eventually recapping the interview here on my blog.

There is an upcoming audition for those thespians out there: A two act play by St. Louis playwright Greg Carr called, "Johnnie Taylor is Gone." The roles are for four African American women (ages 20-50) and 6 African American men (ages 20-60). It will be an open call. You must come prepared with a two minute monologue and a cold reading from the script. Audition dates and times will be Friday, Dec. 2 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 3, from 1:p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, located at the Main Theatre on 5600 Oakland Ave. For more info call Carla Moody at (314) 644-9387 or the Box Office at (314) 644-9388. Oh and when you call, tell them that you saw it here first on

Well that will do it for me. Next time I report on STL native Cedric The Enetrtainer's hosting duties on the American Music Awards, Sonja Branscomb's Appreciation Party this weekend and anything else that may be happening this holiday weekend. Everyone have a safe Thanksgiving holiday and I will see you all outside next week!

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