Saturday, June 28, 2008
started 6/23 finished 6/28
June is Black Music Month so I decided to start another reading tradition and use this time to read about Black musicians. This was perfect timing because a couple weeks ago we hosted Grandmaster Flash at our store for a booksigning. Even though I work there I almost never go to events at my store because they usually happen in the evenings between 7:00 and 7:30. I get off work at 4:00 and I am out of there! Now I wish that I stayed to see Flash because he brought turntables with him and everything, damn!! But my coworker got me an autographed galley (advanced reader's copy of a book that hasn't been proofread and is not for sale) and an autographed poster.
As a huge fan of hip-hop (by now y'all know that) this was an important book for me to read. Not many people involved in the first days of hip-hop, aside from Russell Simmons, have written their memoirs giving us insight into the creation and beginnings of this art form (you listening, Kool Herc?). Grandmaster Flash gives you a front seat to the evolution of DJing - from just spinning records that please the crowd to blending those songs seamlessly to manipulating LPs to create whole new sounds.
Flash, like a lot of hip-hop artists, grew up in a musical home with a father who had a prized jazz collection. From an early age he was entranced not only by the music but by the instruments that played the music. He received many a butt whipping from messing with his father's music. But his curiosity led him on and he even built many of the components of the first sound system he used to DJ on.
His turbulent childhood (violent father, mentally ill mother, stints in foster care) is covered, along with his growing love for the new culture called hip-hop and the creation of the group we now know as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. And what memoir of Black music would be complete without the requisite tale of the shady record company (Sugar Hill), jacked-up contracts, decline into drug addiction, and finally coming back to yourself.
Grandmaster Flash is one of the best DJs around. If only for the fact that he invented a lot of the techniques that are widely used and taken for granted today. If you are as much a fan as I am of hip-hop then this book should be an essential part of your library.
Then give it to your children to read and make them turn off Soulja Boy...
Friday, June 27, 2008
started 6/3 finished 6/23
Growing up, my reading selections weren't very diverse. I read mostly fiction - no romance (that was for dreamers), no science-fiction (that was for boys), no horror (real life is scary enough). My mother (who at one time read a book a day) started reading Stephen King and loved it. So I began to read him as well. Eventually I started to branch out in different genres. Then one day, years ago, when I was managing the Truth Bookstore (a Black bookstore in Atlanta - since gone out of business -not my fault) a new book came in called The Between. It told the story of a boy whose grandmother dies while saving his life. As an adult it becomes apparent that he wasn't supposed to survive and the forces that let him slip away the first time are back to reclaim him. It was the most inventive, and exciting book that I had read in a long time and I handsold (bookselling term) it to every one of my customers. When we hosted Ms. Due for a booksigning, I am sure that I embarrassed myself with all of my gushing. It was the beginning of her career as a novelist and I have read everything she has written and haven't been disappointed yet.
Blood Colony is the third in a series of books about the "living blood". This series is hard for me to describe but I will try. The first book, My Soul to Keep, introduces us to the Life Brothers, a group of African men who become immortal after receiving what their leader tells them is the blood of Christ. Realizing that as men who don't age or die, they can't really mix with the regular population. You can't live a normal life and create relationships and father children when the people around you are aging and you are not. So they live together as monks in a colony in Ethiopia and meditate and hone their powers. But one of the Brothers, Dawit, keeps getting restless and leaves. This time he meets and falls in love with Jessica and they have a child. But the Brothers insist that what he is doing is dangerous and he must come home, especially after he has confessed his secret to Jessica (big immortal no-no). The second book, The Living Blood, shows Jessica traveling to Ethiopia to get answers for her daughter, Fana, who is exhibiting strange behavior that she suspects is tied to the Blood. We get more insight into the Life Brothers and the circumstances surrounding their creation. Blood Colony takes place in the not too distant future and Fana is now a young woman who has to be protected because of her gifts. I won't give much away about this book except to say that it includes the revelation that there are others with the Blood who want to use it to cleanse humanity reign over the world.
Now, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Tananarive Due is my favorite author. If you go to my Shelfari page, you will see that I have read hundreds (maybe thousands) of books and I have always hesitated to pick a favorite. But right now, at this time, and probably for a long time in the future she is my favorite author. She has written other books that aren't in this series that are equally good. Also, check out her husband, Steven Barnes, who writes great science fiction. They aren't paying me, I swear.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
This is a nice, blurry shot of my tags. An old roommate of mine ordered these for me about 15 years ago and I haven't run out yet.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
But when I turned on the television they were airing the first three episodes of
And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop, a documentary on the creation and rise of hip-hop.
Sorry, but hip-hop trumps sewing at my house. I will try again tomorrow (as long as they don't re-run it)!
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I am not using any of these patterns (I have more; these are just the ones in my current size), to sew the above fabric:
I am not using these machines to sew the above fabric using the above patterns:I am not using this "Wall of Inspiration" to inspire me:
I am still buying patterns:
(off subject - I got a signed copy of the latest Alexander McCall Smith book from Susan, it came the same day as these patterns from Vogue)
started 5/13 finished 5/23
With the exception of Tallahassee, Florida, I have only lived in major cities (see previous post) so I assume that every city has its own language and dialect. When I am especially homesick for D.C., I watch The Wire (because there really hasn't been a tv show based in the nation's capital with African-American actors since 227). The accent of Black people in Maryland is very distinct - "ar" is pronounced as "er", "oo" is pronounced "ew". If you watch The Wire, take note of the character Prop Joe - I swoon when I hear him talk.
I get the same feeling when I read any work by George Pelecanos (a sometime producer and writer for The Wire). He captures the voices of all of the residents of Washington, DC so expertly I feel like I am at home. The Turnaround, his latest book (to be published in August 2008) is a slight departure from his usual gritty, noir tales. Six teenagers are involved in a racially motivated crime that changes all of their lives. It is now 35 years later and one of the men is out of jail and looking for revenge and compensation, while another reaches out for reconciliation. Told against the backdrop of the Iraq war, this novel further illustrates the way that Pelecanos (in all of his books) is able to show the commonalities of the different types of people who inhabit my favorite city.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was living in Los Angeles preparing to move back to Atlanta. This involved a small amount of drama that included:
- a cross-country road trip with 3 women in a ford escort (i think) with no air-conditioning, a scared cat, and only 1 driver (not me - i don't drive)
- joy finally losing it in new orleans. well deserved breakdown because she was the only driver
- arriving in atlanta only to find that the job that was supposed to be waiting for me wasn't
- finally getting a new job
- my mother dying
2. What are 5 things on my to do list today?
As a practicing procrastinator, I don't really do to-do lists but:
- do laundry - in progress
- go see the Sex in the City movie - put off until next week
- catch up on blogging and blog reading - in progress
- sew - this is on the list every day and never gets done
- actually cook dinner from scratch - will do because that is the only way I will eat
3. Snack I enjoy
- almonds mixed with dried cranberries - by my side right now
- chili pistachios
- m & m's
- popcorn with Old Bay seasoning
4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire
- for the first couple of months I would travel to Seattle (LaTonja), Los Angeles (Joy), Arizona (Miraval spa), Ghana (Imara)
- buy a brownstone in Manhattan for my home base
- Travel, travel, travel around the world for openings of major art exhibits
- Lots of charitable work in Africa, focusing on empowering women and building wells
5. Places I have lived
- Washington, DC
- Tallahassee, Fl
- Atlanta, GA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Atlanta, GA
- hopefully somewhere new in the next couple of years
6. Jobs I have had (newest to oldest; there seems to be a theme....)
- Operations Supervisor for a chain bookstore
- Manager of 2 airport bookstores (different concourses - I was on the people mover all day)
- Inventory Supervisor for a different chain bookstore
- Manager of an African American bookstore
- Customer Service for a local, independently owned bookstore
- Manager of a different African American bookstore
- Supervisor in a Fabric Store
I won't tag anyone but ya'll can have at it!
So, I have seen this meme on a few blogs and since I love the thought of random visual images I decided to do it.
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker).
1. What is your first name? Toni
2. What is your favorite food? Crab Cakes
3. What high school did you go to? H.D. Woodson Sr. High (the photo is an aerial shot of my school!)
4. What is your favorite color? Loden green
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Duh, Jesse L. Martin
6. Favorite drink? Acai Juice
7. Dream vacation? Morocco
8. Favorite dessert? Apple pie
9. What you want to be when you grow up? Retired
10. What do you love most in life? Myself
11. One Word to describe you. Smart
12. Your flickr name Mshoni
You can find other mosaics here: http://flickr.com/groups/801569@N22/