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Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009

Feel Good live in 1972 on Soul Train is an awesome performance of an awesome song. I have always dreamt of being a Soul Train dancer, a dream that was shattered when I realized that most artists lip-synch on the show anyway. Yet, with Ike and Tina Turner I knew that the moves would be fierce and worth a click. I lucked out and caught a live show.


The close-ups of Tina clearly show that she could barely open her right eye. It was swollen damn near shut. Once I saw that, a homegirl rolling on the river had a much loftier protrusion, sitting watching the complicated energetic dance moves and precise lyrical steps. I imagined Tina getting away from that abusive man, and he being made to spend the rest of his natural black life looking for every which way to make amends to a whole generation of Soul Train fans who innocently came to see them on stage, and are confronted with a battered woman and a batterer!


Feel Good.


Searching through the YouTube’s ‘related videos’ on the sidebar reveals a host of other famous, infamous and even legendary bits of showmanship, like Marvin Gaye, live and likely ‘under the influence’. Then there was this mysterious video called “SOUL TRAIN LINE - WE THE PEOPLE 1972.” The title was unfamiliar, and boasted of no star act, which heightened my curiosity to see what lie between the lip-synched acts. Besides, I consider Soul Train lines a quintessential aspect of any folk gathering, much like west African dance at weddings, baptisms, and funerals—the drums challenging the dancers challenging each other for a faster, funkier beat. This is the legend of the Soul Train Line, or even popularized line dances like the Electric Slide, all of which can be seen on YouTube these days.


 


Of course, the outfits from this ’72 performance would appear strange to viewers now. One sister had a blond Afro the shone like a halo. Those fly Afros seems to have come back in style in the meantime. Another sister wore, well, I am not sure what she had on, but it covered her from her platforms to neck. Her outfit had lines and circles like an abstract art canvas. Most folks wore such fitted clothes that one could never tell where tops and bottoms began and ended. Then there was some guy, I swear I saw a sissy, twirling his arms as if he was whirling a baton. This Soul Train dancer was leading cheerleading camp.


I am a bonafide soul searcher. I grew up on soul music on the car radio, at home, and in relatives houses. Soul music made home. And we LOVED soul music. Isaac Hayes, Millie Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, Anita Baker, Stax Records the list is endless.


My aunt Shirley had anything George Benson ever put out; She kept a cupboard of LP’s, but Give Me the Night was usually sitting on the floor resting against the wall near her stereo. I loved looking at the plain looking black man pictured on the cover, wearing a simple pullover and an honest grin. My aunt Johnetta loved her some James Brown, and just as naturally, Prince. She adored JB’s leadership and considered him a maestro. My uncle Wayne had Morris Day and the Time, and still rocks Frankie Beverly and Maze Live! Eugene, a classmate at Oberlin who lived and worked with me in Seoul, could break down all the reasons why even white soul singers like Bobby Caldwell say “Aaih” in place of “I.” Additionally, I hear Fela in the background and imagine my father packing up his albums for his voyage to America; clothes, Gari, addresses and Fela albums all had to accompany him. This Feel Good video has taken me to all those places. This almost slight appearance on Soul Train was a funky kind of soul that I had not heard in a while. Listening too it again, knowing that this sister can barely open her left eye, leads me to soul searching, again.


Who are we to know life so intimately yet take it so carelessly? Who are we to judge the decisions of another when it is clear that their actions are based on self-love? Who are we not to draw those close to use nearer to us, especially when they are in need. Who are we not to empower one another to aspire to do better and to want more happiness out of our lives despite and perhaps in spite of our lots? Don’t it Feel Good the way Tina plucks her shoulders as the bassist strums and heaves. Feel the really good deep base down in your hips. Bend over and let that base get in you. Snap like she do’ er’time Ike tells the man to hit the beat. And what a beat! Stomp, like Tina stomps and know that this feels real good.


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Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009

Anything, and I mean anything, Quantic Soul Orchestra related is worth paying attention to. Playing her part in the modern soul revival, Kinny’s solo debut is due out March 23rd in the UK. It will also feature production from Tru Thoughts mainstays Hint, Nostalgia 77, and TM Juke, as well as rising Norwegian star Souldrop.


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Monday, Feb 23, 2009

It’s been four years since Depeche Mode’s last album Playing the Angel and in April they’ll follow it up with Sounds of the Universe (featuring cover art that looks like it’s from 1981). The band debuted the album’s first single “Wrong” over the weekend at the Echo Awards in Germany. Unfortunately it appears to be playback and not actually live but that’s how they do things on TV in Germany. The song is full of chanting, fat synths, and general darkness. DM fans rejoice.


The “Wrong” single is out on April 6th in Europe and April 7th in the US. Sounds of the Universe is out on April 20th in Europe and April 21st in the US.


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Sunday, Feb 22, 2009

The Pet Shop Boys accepted the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music this week at the Brit Awards and also performed a medley of their hits (along with their excellent new single “Love etc.”). Even brief appearances from Lady GaGa on “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” and the Killers’ Brandon Flowers on “It’s A Sin” couldn’t ruin the seemingly endless stream of pop perfection. Is it possible that their music sounds more contemporary and relevant now than it did in the ‘80s?


Their upcoming album Yes hits stores on March 23rd.


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Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009

YouTube has already emerged as the contemporary site for V-blogging and individual media. Divas like Miss B. Scott, for example, take very little overhead to produce celebrity and local star interviews that manage to captivate 42,000 subscribers. At last count, B. Scott Ep #115: Accept Yourself, one of my favorite flicks had 83,705 viewers, and 842 comments. “Ay, Love Muffins,” B. Scoot always addresses us as viewers with the typical dance music intros. It’s not just “LOL” for these net freaks. B. Scott has much to say.


Certainly, what may have drawn many users to Timaya is that he’s a young queen, and is superficially read to traverse the same gender lines as those old comedians. Sometimes he is angry, loud, wise-cracking. He has an entire skit where he and reads one of his “stank co-workers” for reporting for duty smelling like shrimp, or “some damn straight up tilapia, girl! Go on home and scrub it with some Dove!” Reading, accordingly to elder queen Dorian Carey in the famed voyeuristic flick Paris is Burning is “is the real art of insult.” Timaya said: “” I, too, was ROFLMAO (rolling on the floor laughing may ass off), but Timaya is more than just funny.


Black comedians like Flip Wilson, Eddie Murphy Martin Lawrence and Jamie Fox stand in a long tradition of black men emasculating themselves in order to appeal to mainstream audiences. Martin’s ghetto queen Shanaynay became a pop cult, a vessel for all of America to safely focus ridicule of black womanhood; these black men built their careers riding this ship. Whereas acts as early as Jackie Wilson’s Ret Petit showed black men intentionally emasculating themselves in order to appear less threatening to the masses, the modern muscled thug is commercially available today in records stores precisely because in reality these thugs are under the heavy hand of the prison industrial complex. Like Al Jolson in blackface, these comedians made their careers off of the age old portrayal of the ‘angry black bitch’, making a minstrel show Black women in order to cross-over- a term laced with internalized racism that it’s cyanide. Timaya has her loud bitch moments. Yet one also see the more contemplative sides like in the video The Price for Being Gay parts 1 and 2.


These users are out. Not compromising themselves in order to go platinum yields their ability to actually tap into the masculine and feminine sides of themselves. They cannot be emasculated, for they claim the masculine and feminine in themselves. This sincerity, this lack of deception appeals to viewers, captivating so many subscribers who seek entertainment beyond the hype. Eddie Murphy swished and sashayed across stage in his ‘80s stand-up routine phenomenon that released in theaters nationwide. Pull over! Pull over Murphy said with a heavy, affected lisp and a heavy, affected limp wrist mocking “faggots,” as he says. Eddie’s crowd roared. Watching Raw in the cinema hall back in Louisville, I cowered in my seat. Ridiculing anything feminine seems to fit with the purview of crossover fever. Yet, B. Scott wears lipstick because B. Scott wears lipstick. And, Timaya goes about gender bending just a bit more sincerely, a bit more true to self, and does so fearlessly not fearfully begging to make a buck. And perhaps this is part and parcel of the net. Through massive humor and poignant punches, Timaya deals with such diverse topics from pop culture and politics in the news, to a thread of negativity on gay websites. Timaya even gives advice about what to do about school or cyber bullies- something every sissy has had to deal with. We’re free to be ourselves so that we can accurately portray ourselves.


 


Gays Pediphiles and Thugs Part 1: My Response to Ignorance



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