Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thanks, Georgia Anne

I have a top five list. It goes like this: Chaka, Erykah, Van Hunt, Bilal, and Georgia Anne Muldrow. The list is not intended to be read in any particular order. I've got a different story about falling in love with the music of each artist. They've each been the backdrop for different phases, places, ideas and so forth. I've taken a break from each of them too. But Georgia stands alone.

Stop Punishing Yourself for Your Past

Stop putting up with crap just because it was the same crap that you used to do. It wasn't okay when you did it, so it's not okay when someone else does it to you. You don't have some karmic duty to make amends for your past wrongdoings by allowing someone else to abuse or mistreat you.

In fact, you have an olbigation to inform that person that they're wrong (since you now know better). If anything, let their behavior be a mirror of your past transgressions. A reminder of what you used to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Confusing Service with Fame

In Oprah’s last episode, she said some words that outlined a current cultural trend that people can see, but aren’t really talking about. Her words were, “We’re all confused about fame versus service.” Though she didn’t elaborate, the trend that she is referring to is evident in the way that Tyrese (Why can’t he just shut up, sing and be fine?!), Steve Harvey and even Monique have rebranded themselves as self-help gurus. 

Obviously, they would not have reached the level of success that they did without actually reaching someone with their advice, but are their intentions completely genuine, or are they just seeking to extend their fame? The self-help industry is booming. With so many people looking to launch careers as entertainers, and the internet making it increasingly difficult to make money off of music and movies, these stars are turning to another outlet to ensure their success and keep their names in the papers. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Neverending Life of Good Storytelling (free-write)

I've been obsessed with storytelling lately. I realized recently that most of the art that I truly love is rooted in good storytelling. Films, images, songs, books, even advertisements are all ways to tell stories. The ones that captivate us most are the ones that tell the story well.

I saw the last Harry Potter movie last weekend, and I developed a newfound appreciation for JK Rowling's ability to tell a rich story; every one and everything had a life, whether it was central to the plot or not. When Harry and Co. are in the Room of Requirement, some little bat-like creatures scurry from the clutter. Their moment in the movie was brief, but they weren't without purpose. Rowling made the Potter universe so rich that it's not difficult to imagine that the little bats as the central characters of their own novel.

In well-told stories, everything in intentional. I highlight Rowling because, in the Potter universe she could have created dozens of fantastical creatures, just for the fun of it. But she didn't. And that's often the criticism of fantasy and science fiction. The emphasis is usually more on the fantasy and less on the intentions behind it. The audience may be wowed initially by the novelty, but that eventually wears off, and the art is soon forgotten.

So here's to intentional storytelling. The stuff of legend. The stuff that lasts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Respect My Journey: Music

One of my favorite artists is Bilal. His voice, his writing, his musicality--they all inspire me and keep me in awe. I own all of his albums and I scour the web for his features, credited and uncredited.

But I didn't become a fan until 2008. Yep. Prior to 2008 I thought Bilal was a talented singer, but a flash in the neo-soul pan. It's not that I didn't respect him. I enjoyed his features on Common's and Erykah Badu's albums. I just didn't really start getting into him until I was about 25.

The Joys of Figure Modeling (free-write)

Brian Stelfreeze
To be nude and respected. To be a muse. To inspire. To be still. To be an observer. To be a creative community member. These are the joys of figure modeling. To get free, original art. To get paid. It is not a task for everyone. It is not for the shy, insecure, or those seeking validation of their body's sexual aesthetics. It is for those who recognize the body as a gift. For those who recognize that you have to give the gifts that you are given. It is for those who like to feel a breeze in places that drafts aren't typically felt. It is for those who can withstand the stiffness and aches of muscles that have been in the same position for a longer period than they're used to.

It's about being a part of the creation of something. Whether the artist is a novice or master teacher, it's about being part of a learning/growing/CREATING experience. In your birthday suit.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

More than a Survivor

"The key to happiness is the decision to be happy."- Marianne Williamson

This post is about playing offense. And how it beats playing defense. See, in life, there is always something to complain about. Always something being done to you. Be it familial, social, financial, or otherwise, we are all at the mercy of forces beyond our control. But these mere circumstances don't have to be roadblocks to finding joy. In fact, happiness isn't a journey, a struggle or a dream. It's a choice. 

Which is really what this whole "human being" thing is about: choices. You make them. You live with them. You learn from them. Sure, your job is awful. The pay is low and the work is dull. But what choices led you there? What choices can you make to make it better? How can you play offense?  As Oprah said in her final episode, "Nobody but you is responsible for your life. You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself[...]."