Monday, February 28, 2005

Now, That's a Winner

Okay, who saw Jamie Foxx accept his much-deserved Oscar award last night? Was it the best award-acceptance speech ever or what? And what about the fact that Jamie--an avowed party animal who no doubt could have brought any stunning model or starlet or groupie with him to the Oscars--brought his daughter with him as his date? Now that's class, that's a suave m**thafu**er if there ever was one. He even almost broke down crying when he talked about his late grandmother, who helped raise him. Definitely raised his star status in my mind.

I was overjoyed that Foxx took home the 'Best Actor' award--almost as overjoyed as when Miss Eva the Diva won the top nod on America's Next Top Model. I do wish Don Cheadle could have also received a best actor award for 'Hotel Rwanda'--even though I don't think his performance was a virtuoso as Foxx's (I mean, Jamie Foxx did have to do an intense piano audition in front of Ray Charles himself to even be considered for the role). But I knew that 'Hotel Rwanda' wouldn't win any Oscars because, let's face it, Hollywood is all about illusions and that movie was just too much reality for most Americans.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't spend every waking hour glued to the boob-tube, but I do watch a fair share of good TV programs (there are a few out there, and I do mean a few, especially since I don't have cable) and good movies. And Jamie Foxx in 'Ray' (as well as 'Collateral', for which Foxx lost to equally deserving Morgan Freeman for best supporting actor) was the SH*T. (FYI, I only caught the last hour of the Oscars--just in time to see Jamie win, along with 'Million Dollar Baby', et al).

More interesting Oscar tidbits here and here, and these aren't fashion reports, folks. I do wish, though, that one of these high-octane Black actors (okay, someone besides Danny Glover) would make it a point to highlight that, despite these gains in the entertainment industry by Black artists, Black people in this country in general are not doing well economically. And not to tarnish the shine on Morgan's or Jamie's golden statuettes, but 'uplifting the race' doesn't mean shit if you don't pull some people up with you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Surprised, but Not Disappointed

A refreshingly intelligent and thoughtful piece about the real consequences of our increasingly 'luxurious' lifestyle (think: retail therapy at Diesel or Williams-Sonoma). Goes to show that you don't always find what you're looking for in the usual places.


Disappointed, but not Surprised

I rarely hero-ize people these days, unless they're dead. Otherwise, they just disappoint you by doing and saying stupid things that make you cringe and say 'D'OH!'. Here's an example, from still-funny-as-fuck Margaret Cho. Margaret, I love your honesty, but I sure don't admire the fact that you want to be white.

I think I wanted to be white for the majority of my high school career, not because I necessarily thought things would be easier or because I thought I'd 'just be able to show my mad skills', as Miz Cho says, but mostly because I really thought being brown meant being ugly, poor, dirty, etc. Now that's honesty.

Nowadays, I would never want to be white. I mean, who could be white after knowing how much behind-their-backs shit-talking people of color still do about white folks? And I'm even (I'm especially talking about) the people of color that seem to kiss white people's asses, the ones that seem like the classic 'Uncle Tom' types. They talk hella shit, and always behind white folks' backs, then turn around and smile to their faces so they can keep their jobs, privileges, relationships and twisted power intact.

I, for one, have generally favored the shit-talking-to-your-face approach with white folks. Much more honest and productive, doncha think?

Some thoughts for the day,

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Wine By Any Other Name... still a wine, no? Sorry, sometimes I can't come up with interesting or catchy titles ("Does she ever?" you ask with raised eyebrow). But today did turn out to be a 'wine day' of sorts.

At lunchtime at work today--my co-workers and I all eat together and generally have a grand time conversating and chowing down--we somehow ended up on the topic of good cheese, and then, inevitably, good wine. D. asked what our favorite cheeses of the moment are. "Ah," I thought, "a question made for me!" I replied that lately I prefer sheep's milk cheeses, like pecorino toscano or romano, which have distinctly different flavors but are both made of sheep's milk (I believe that's what 'pecorino' denotes in Italian). C. said she loves gouda, while D. professed a fancy for gruyere.

And then the conversation turned to wine, and E. talked about V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, which always seems to host a disproportionate number of people of color, making it one of my favorite spots in the Napa Valley. And despite the fact that E. says that more snobbish wine-lovers think of V. Sattui as uncouth and low-class, I've had some great wine-tasting experiences there. Like the time an older man behind the tasting counter said that he liked the winery's Sauvignon Blanc to two young women, who asked him why he liked it. I guess they thought he'd wax philosophical about hints of kiwi and notes of grassy lime in the wine, but he simply shrugged in response and said, 'I just like it!"

As part of our wine conversation at lunch today, I also talked about my birthday dinner at Absinthe Brasserie in Hayes Valley, where H. treated me to the best dinner out that I've ever had (really, I'm not exaggerating). We asked the sommelier to recommend something from Absinthe's extensive wine list (it was something like 8 pages long and divided by region, I think). H. had ordered the coq au vin (super-delicious) and I had ordered the special dungeness crab (equally super-delicious) so the sommelier recommended a Pinot Gris (sorry wine-snobs, I don't remember the name of the winemaker or the year--my bad!) from Alsace, France, which is renowned for this varietal. Well, the bottle was forty bucks, more than I've ever spent on a bottle of wine, but I said, 'What the hell, I'm never gonna turn 33 again!" and we ordered it.

Oh, God. I don't think I'd ever really known what it tasted like to have such a well-matched wine and food combination. It was fuckin' delicious. I'm not very good about saying what flavor-notes a wine brings forth (pear? melon? lemongrass? Isn't wine made out of grapes?), but I can say that every dollar that we spent that night was well worth it. And although I can't afford to buy any wine that costs more than $15 a bottle max on a regular basis, it's good to know that I can experience gastronomic nirvana again sometime in the near future. I do live in San Francisco, after all, which I've read has more restaurants per capita than any city in the world except Paris.

Now, if you want to be a real wine connoisseur you should woo your way into a viticultural (or is it oenophilic?) apprenticeship with Miz Chatty, but if you're just a lay person like me you might learn something from Tatang as well. His SO, Gura, accompanied him on a wine tasting trek in the Amador Valley, and T. had some things to say, let me tell you! Gura seemed to have a more mellow approach to wine tasting. I'd have to say my own wine-tasting attitudes fall somewhere in between.

And tonite, I treated myself to a couple glasses of a decent pinot noir that H. bought a couple weeks ago. We sipped it during a dinner of homemade pasta with tomato and onion sauce and some roasted asparagus (unfortunately, I don't think the wine went well with the asparagus; I noticed an icky alcoholic scent in my glass after I'd just eaten the asparagus, and the wine tasted bitter and .

I spent a few minutes after dinner perusing a handy little web site,, which seems somewhat simplistic but is still helpful for wine novices like myself. I don't think I'll become a real connoisseur anytime soon, but I stlll enjoy a good quaff of liquid gold now and then. A small, simple, but blessed pleasure in this big, crazy world.

Drink well and be happy,


Dear Gentle Reader,

Silly me. I sent silly Valentine's day e-cards to a bunch of friends, to my co-workers, to acquaintances, yet I neglected my blog audience, who certainly deserves my love and affection since you continue to return day by day to read my words, put up with my meandering thoughts and hopelessly idealistic moralizing. I thank you and wish you love and affection (a day late, as it were), dear reader, for including me in your blog wanderings and for considering me in your thoughts.

And, of course, I wish you love simply because you are, and I am. Because we exist on this mortal plane and it is a good--and necessary, in these dark days--thing to love one another.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Thank God It's Friday

I'm sitting home alone at 11:16pm on a Friday night, full from another scrumptious dinner at J.'s restaurant, Pagolac, on Larkin near Ellis in SF (yes, I like to plug my friends' businesses!). I was caffeinated from a small coffee I got at La Boheme on 24th where I waited for H. to pick me up, and where a pretty girl with tan jeans and long black hair told me my earrings were beautiful. Always nice to get compliments from strangers, especially when they seem sincere.

It's been a long week, full of the large and small events of life. Late last week, Ossie Davis passed away (see my earlier post), leaving an incredible legacy of activist-artistry in his wake. And then early Tuesday morning, activist and artist BJ Alisago also left behind this mortal coil and joined the ancestors on the other side of the veil.

Some more trivial events: I finally finished reading Garcia Marquez' Love in the Time of Cholera, and started really digging into Nalo Hopkinson's Skin Folk, a collection of speculative fiction stories that are pretty amazing. I got to page 88 in my novel draft, still making green-ink notes in the margins and in between the lines. On Tuesday, we had an action at work to demand more resources for poor schools in communities of color. I finally made it back to Kali class last night, and remembered how good it feels to move my body in these ancient ways, to flow through the patterns of thought and energy that are part of my cultural legacy.

I'm tired, physically, but I'm also looking forward to a happy, light-filled weekend (let's hope Mother Nature grants my wish for sunshine). Tomorrow I'll be attending my comadre's son's school expo (he's 6 years old and oh-so-cute) and of course will get to see his brother, my inaanak, too. And then it's off to Gura's Lunar New Year shindig, where I hope to eat lots of good food (is Tatang going to grace us with his excellent marinated and grilled beef specialties? I hope so.

Rest easy, folks, it's the weekend,

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Rest in Peace, Kasama

I didn't know BJ Alisago very well--met him a few times, I think he practiced Eskrima, I watched him perform Kulintang once, and I interviewed him for a job at my old organization--but it's still very sad to hear of his too-soon, sudden and tragic passing. I believe he was only 27 years old. I wish his spirit light and love on its journey to the afterlife, and I know that he is now with our many ancestor-comrades, those who have passed on before us.

BJ's passing also teaches me that life is short and unpredictable, and that we must value our friends, comrades, family and loved ones every moment of every day.

Be well,

Holidays Galore

It seems as if this year's late winter holidays came all at once, in one great big holiday package, wrapped in bright red and pink paper and gold ribbons. Does this happen every year or is it just this one? Not only is today the beginning of Lunar (or 'Chinese') New Year (Happy Year of the Rooster!), but it's also Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season for Catholics. Which of course means that yesterday was Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday", when everyone's supposed to party hardy before abstaining for Lent). And, of course, Monday is Valentine's Day, meant to celebrate love in all its manifestations.

Happy Holy-Days, y'all-

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Rememering and Honoring Ossie Davis

Democracy Now! has some great pieces on the late Ossie Davis, including a moving interview with actor Danny Glover.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ossie Davis: Rest in Power

I was very saddened to read in the paper yesterday of the death of Ossie Davis, actor, director, activist and husband to actor Ruby Dee. Mr. Davis was one of those celebrity father-figure types, the kind of man that seemed to walk and act with integrity.

Seemingly tireless 'til the end, Mr. Davis passed away this past Friday, just days after the start of shooting for a new film in Miami. I know that many people in this country and all over the world will mourn the loss of this great artist and activist.

One thing I always remembered him for was that, in his eulogy for Malcolm X, he spoke emotionally about how Malcolm was, no matter whether you agreed with him or not, a real 'Man', and that Ossie had known that there were times when he himself did not act quite like a 'man' because of what this racist system of oppression had forced him to do. And then of course we cannot forget that he called Malcolm "our shining Black prince."

To me, and I'm sure to many others, Ossie Davis was a Man, a man of dignity and elegance, talent and intelligence. May he rest in peace and power, and may the civil and human rights he fought to secure for all people be realized one day.


Friday, February 04, 2005

A-Bloggin' We Will Go...

I love finding blogs that make me want to hang out with their bloggers. So I'm adding Utopia is a Practice to my blogroll. I found this guy (embarassed to say I don't even know his name) because he left a comment in response to one of my blogposts. Seems like he's a musician, a Latino brotha, does sustainable living stuff and has good politics--check out his recent posts on learning earth plastering techniques to build houses and the 'insider scoop' on my favorite Bush-wonks, Condi Rice and Alberto Gonzales. Fresh!

I also love finding out that my friends have started their own blogs, often at least partially inspired by my own venturing into the blogosphere. Recently added Daniel's A-One Chronicle (but still haven't figured out why it's called 'A-One'--like the steak sauce, Daniel?), which has of late been the chronicle of Daniel's foodie adventures in Oakland and Frisco. Always fun to find out where good food is being dished up.

I also love the sexy-boy pics that El Serenito has been posting during his self-proclaimed 'myheowbernation'. Yes, you'll have to read his blog to find out what that word means.

And early congrats to Chavajero, who is getting married 'for real' in the Church next week (which is why you won't find any recent posts on his blog--ahem). Can't wait to see the pics, C.

See you in blogland or elsewhere-

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Random / Shuffle

Ever feel like your brain is a CD or MP3 player set on 'random' or 'shuffle'? I think that's my primary mental state most days. Perpetual multi-tasker. Gets distracting at times. But it can make for some interesting writing.

More tangibly, Apple has launched their teeny tiny iPod Shuffle. Interesting concept, although I wouldn't buy one. My mental random/shuffle mode gives me quite enough (pleasant and not-so-pleasant) surprises, thank you very much. And I'm much too much of a control freak to like not knowing what song's gonna play next.

Started reading through my first draft of the novel. Not as bad as I thought, thusfar. Lots of green ink (I refuse to use red ink to revise my stuff, too school-like) in the margins, mostly notes to elaborate on sections that I skimmed over in the initial writing. Good nuggets of language and plot development in there, just need to mine them out and spit-shine them a bit.

I'm super-excited about my job lately, especially the grassroots fundraising aspects of it. The idea of ordinary, everyday, just-like-you-and-me folks supporting our own organizations to create real change...yes, I have to say it turns me on. Thanks to the Journal and GIFT and CFJ for inspiration.

Finally allowed myself to buy a copy of O Magazine, Oprah Winfrey's suprisingly smart and intriguing rag. Excellent writing--Elle magazine is also very well-written--which is always nice to find in the world of women's magazines, where the majority of the writing is sappy at best and just plain dumb at worst. Come on, folks, we DO have brains and care about more than how to score our next boyfriend or how to apply three layers of mascara properly!

Had a fabulous Vietnamese dinner with H. at our friend J.'s newly remodeled restaurant , Pagolac. (actually, it's J.'s mom that owns the place--she's also the cook and is a damned great one) We devoured a lotus salad, hot-and-sour soup with prawns, five spice BBQ chicken and a catfish claypot concoction with broken rice. Yum. The place is on Larkin near Ellis in the ever-intriguing Tenderloin in Frisco. Check it out if you're in the 'hood.

And I'll defer from commenting on our "President's" State of the Union address. Suffice it to say that, thankfully, I got to listen to it on KPFA which meant that the commentators had halfway intelligent and progressive things to say about it afterwards.

Hope you enjoy your own random/shuffles,

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Pre-Valentine's Day Musings

I've been thinking a lot about loneliness lately. Partially because I feel kinda lonely living in Frisco, away from most of my friends and family in the East Bay, partially because St. Valentine's Day is coming up, that annual commercialized love-fest where people who are not happily (or unhappily) coupled are often made to feel as if they have some horrid congenital defect.

I've been noticing and thinking a lot lately that many people in this world (coupled or not) are lonely. You can see it on their faces on BART or the bus, you can read it in their blogs, you can sense how people hide their loneliness behind the thin veneer of their fascination with pop culture entertainment or fashion or any other potentially distracting habit. It saddens me that so many people are lonely--especially in a city like San Francisco, which is so densely packed that often I feel like a tiny ant crammed into the claustrophia-inducing spaces of the city's elevators or public transit systems--at the same time that I know that loneliness is just one condition of human existence. And that loneliness, too, will pass. At least for most people.

This year, I've decided to send love-notes out to my friends (coupled or not), in addition to celebrating V-day with my sweetie. If Valentine's Day is supposed to be about love, then why don't we also acknowledge, honor and celebrate the people we love non-romantically? What happened to the cute little ritual that we carried out in grammar school, where we gave cheesy, store-bought Valentines cards to all of our classmates? I think that should continue way past the 5th grade. Love for your fellow human beings doesn't end when you hit puberty--or does it?

Something to think about,