Sunday, August 23, 2015

CHANGING FACE OF HARLEM....A DOCUMENTARY FILM BY SHAWN BATEY




Yesterday, I decided to ring up my mom and see if she was interested in attending a screening of a documentary film about Harlem with me.  The film is called "Changing Face of Harlem" and it was directed and produced by my neighbor (and friend) Shawn Batey.

Mom said yes and we decided that we would meet at the venue, which was All Souls Episcopalian Church on St. Nicholas Avenue.  I selected a cute pair of summer slacks in a black/white/yellow print that I had recently copped from an Ashley Stewart Sample Sale and I paired that with a yellow v-neck tee shirt and my old reliable pewter sandals.  Mom arrived via taxi all done up in pale pink and white.  

We made our way to the basement (mom rode the lift and I walked down carrying her walker) and took our seats.  The film which I think was a little over an hour long covered the early beginnings of Harlem and her heyday, the white flight, the heroin years and eventually the black flight during the crack cocaine years.  It brought us all the way up to 2012 when the film ended with the battle to keep the culture and the color in Harlem and the eventual gentrification that's happening currently.

After the film there was a lively discussion about what we watched and how folks felt about what they viewed and what is happening today.  There was quite a bit of diversity in the group that viewed the film with us and the Q&A segment was most enjoyable for both me and my mom.  It's a really great film and if you get a moment, please try to get out and see it, I guarantee you will enjoy it.  Check out their website for info on upcoming screenings and dvd information here: http://changingfaceofharlem.com/  

Nice work Shawn!  Thanks for inviting us, i'm glad I could finally make it!

Here is the trailer for the film:




Mom was getting antsy because she was hungry so we decided to make our way outside to look for a place to eat.  We narrowed our choices down to Amy Ruth's and Billie's Black.  My mom had never been to Billie's Black before so I suggested she try something new because I have been frequently and I always enjoy myself there.

The owner Adriane Ferguson was outside when our taxi pulled up and she greeted us with a smile and a hug once we got seated.  My mom remembered her instantly from us all being seated at the same table at Eda Francois & Crystal Smith's wedding reception last September.  We also passed on our condolences as we had learned just before arriving that she (Adriane) had recently lost her father.
We chatted for a few moments and then she had to leave.  We decided to go with the Sampler Platter with a side of mac & cheese and collard greens and the Ox Tails.  I am really funny about potato salad (not everyone makes it in a manner that I find to be edible) so I asked our server if I could have a spoonful to taste....(I have done this many times in the past when potato salad is on the menu and I NEVER have a problem with the chef allowing me to taste it first rather wasting a whole order by sending it back because I don't like it).  This did not happen on this particular occasion and I will only say that this particular chef/cook absolutely ruined our dining experience with her horrible attitude and I will leave it at that.  

After we paid our bill, we caught a taxi to the Bronx where we chatted for a bit, I made sure mom was comfortable and resting then I made my way back to Manhattan via the bus (I LOVE the bus y'all....don't ask me why....I just do!) as I was waiting for the connecting bus to take me home, I got a text from my friend Tonya alerting me that she was in my hood and I should come by and get a plate of food and birthday cake from Make My Cake to take home.  So I took a taxi over to 136th Street and met Tonya at the most FABU townhouse near the Schomburg Museum.  I met her family, had a nightcap and hung out for bit..... all the while salivating over of all things....their refrigerator (don't ask).  Tonya dropped me off at home where I had a glass of Sweet Red and wound up watching James Bond movies until about 2am....when I finally made myself go to sleep.

It was a great Saturday afternoon and I love hanging out with my mama!


"My mother's wonderful. To me she's perfection." - Michael Jackson

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My beloved Hudson River Cafe has closed.....

This news comes via the Harlem + Bespoke Blog



Word on the street has it that The Hudson River Cafe (located behind the Fairway Market) has closed.  This is most unfortunate as I loved the brunches & the live bands that played there....I even sang there once (courtesy of Petawane & Bill Foster pulling a fast one on me...lol).  There was always a really cool vibe there.  The last time I was there I was with Marco Mays & Morris Grey....we had a blast.

Perhaps another restaurant will open there....it was (is) a really cool location....sigh....

For the full deets go here:  http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/



All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.    ~Anatole France

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

And from a velvet sky.....A SUMMER COLD!!!!

Just for the record....these "Wiz" references may be around for a while....lol...so prepare yourself. Anywhoo....I think that I may be catching a daggone summer cold.... here are my symptoms and my thoughts:


  • Scratchy throat (could be allergies...taking a shot of echinacea)
  • Sneezing (could also be allergies..another a shot of echinacea)
  • Post Nasal Drip (Yup.  Could be allergies too)
  • Clogged Nose (mmm hmm....pesky allergies perhaps?)
  • Coughing repetitively from the DEPTHS OF MY SOUL???  (HUH? .... AW HELL NO!!!!)


THIS IS DEFINITELY A SUMMER COLD!!! THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!!!! I AM NOT HAVING THIS MESS!!!  I JUST TOOK A COLD AND FLU SHOT FROM DR. SCHULZE...

We'll see how it goes.....sigh....NO one wants a cold...but a cold in the middle of Summer during a HEAT WAVE???  Just miserable.....

Ugh.


I tried to write a poem last night
But my head was too foggy
And my eyes too watery
Then my nose started running
I still haven't caught it
- Erin Lewis

Monday, August 17, 2015

The 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at Marcus Garvey Park



The Wiz holds a special place in my heart, as it is the very first show that I ever saw on Broadway.  I will never forget that day in 1975 when my Aunt Jessie (may she rest in paradise) called me and told me that she had 3 tickets to The Wiz that she wasn't going to use that day and I could have them if I came to New Jersey to pick them up.  Well I called up my late bestie Tommy Brock and we FLEW to NJ to get those tickets.  The show was incredible and I saw it 3 more times before it closed. It left an indelible mark on me...it is my all time favorite Broadway musical (with Dreamgirls coming in a close second).  Tommy and I were absolutely GIDDY when the movie version was released three years later in 1978.  Although we both frowned upon Diana Ross as Dorothy....the movie became a cult classic for us.

Fast forward 40 years later to 2015 and I am in my old neighborhood at Marcus Garvey Park on a Friday afternoon where SummerStage was celebrating the music of The Wiz.  The show had already played the previous two days at Central Park on Wednesday (too many people in one place for me) and then it moved uptown to Marcus Garvey Park on Thursday (had to work late that particular night).  I attended a class that morning and made my way back home to drop off my bags and then back out to head crosstown to the park.  I stopped off at Jimbo's on Lenox Avenue (now with an "A" rating...praise the Lord!!) and bought a bacon cheeseburger with extra pickles, a big bottle of water and a bag of pretzels because I knew I would be sitting there for several hours.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day and I made it to the park around 3;30pm.  The first thing I noticed was the line of portable toilets & sinks that were right outside of the theater area...Yay!  I was pleased to see that I had my run of the place since there were maybe 15-20 people there at most.  I found a spot in the 5th row in the center and made myself comfortable as I waited for a few friends to arrive.

As I sat there enjoying my burger (and yes! it was QUITE delicious!!) I began to watch the folks begin to trickle in.  I saw a few dancers stretching and practicing some of the numbers and a lot of friends and some folks I hadn't seen in a very long time....Breea Williams (who is my homie from my early modeling days), Diane Simpson, Gordon Burnett (who joined me in the 5th row) along with my girl Taihisha Grant.  I also saw Jackie Reid, Alyson Williams, Judith Jamison and a few others whose names escape me.

The show was scheduled to begin at 8:30pm and there was a wonderful jazz performer named Allan Harris who had me at hello when he opened his set (in a FLY Purple paisley jacket) with "I've Got A Lot of Livin' To Do" from Bye Bye Birdie.  Now if you know me at all then you know that Jazz is like Nyquil to my soul (will put me to sleep immediately...lol) but I really enjoyed Mr. Harris' set immensely.  Excellent performance!

After Allan Harris the DJ put on the music of James Brown and everybody just jumped up and started dancing!  It was an amazing vibe in Harlem on this day. Peace and love all around.

And then finally......with an introduction from George Faison & Phylicia Rashad....The Wiz!!!  Aside from some issues with the sound...I really enjoyed the show and the performances. The Tornado scene was wonderful!!!  I thought the Tin Man was a standout for me as was the young lady who played Dorothy.  Inaya Day sang her face off as well.  I will be honest, I didn't particularly care for Evillene (I don't think she was in good voice this night) But the absolute highlight of the evening for me was Mr. Andre DeShields reprising his role as The Wiz (Note:  No one has EVER done it better). At 69 Mr. Shields was in excellent voice and as always the consummate performer. The crowd ate him up and showed him much love.

As the cast had their curtain calls, Taihisha, her friend and I made our way over to Applebee's for a nightcap and then we each jumped in to taxi's and headed to opposite sides of town.

It was a truly memorable summer evening.

I am now eagerly anticipating the TV version of The Wiz that will be happening in the fall...Some of the casting has me a little nervous....but I will wait and see.  



"Pure entertainment is not an egotistical lady singing boring songs onstage for two hours and people in tuxes clapping whether they like it or not. It's the real performers on the street who can hold people's attention and keep them from walking away."  - Andy Kaufman

Friday, October 22, 2010

FFFWeek(end) LA - New & Aspiring Plus Model Seminar & Panel Discussion

What's Happening Fam!!!

The countdown to FFFWeek(end) LA has begun!!!!  And that means that once again it's time for me to EDUCATE & ELEVATE!!!

The What:  Full Figured Fashion Week(end)tm Los Angeles/New & Aspiring Plus Model Seminar & Panel Discussion

The When: Friday, October 29, 2010 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm

The Where:  Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Directors I & II Ballroom
                       2025 Avenue of the Stars
                       Los Angeles, CA


Miss Sharon Quinn, The ORIGINAL Runway Diva 
(Plus Model/Singer/Actress/Columnist)

Star of Mo'Nique's FAT Chance, MTV's MADE, Cash Cab, Throwdown With Bobby Flay and most recently seen on The Style Network's "Ruby"; will be on hand to host and moderate the panel discussion.

Cover: $22.00 in advance, $30.00 at the door

The "All-Star" Line-up of Panelists (Subject to change) include:


*Fluvia Lacerda (Plus Model - "The Brazilian Bombshell")

Plus-size Brazilian model Fluvia Lacerda, is the star of "16", a short film that challenges the stereotypes of beauty currently set by the film, fashion and advertising industries. She was discovered by a magazine editor on a Manhattan cross-town bus and has not stopped working since. The only Brazilian working as a plus size model overseas; she has been called the “plus version of Gisele Bundchen”. Fluvia is one of the most known faces within the plus size industry and has been featured in ads for Fashion Bug, Torrid, Igigi & Monif C. and in Latina & Glamour Magazines.



*Madeline Figueroa-Jones (Editor-in-Chief, Plus Model Magazine)

Madeline Figueroa-Jones is a NY native and former plus size model. After appearing in several magazines, working for numerous designers she began reaching out to the plus size community by serving as a moderator for VenusDivas.com and Empowerment Editor for AmazeMag.com. As Editor for PLUS Model Magazine, Madeline has been producing issues which push the envelope with both exclusive interviews with some of today's top models and edgy fashion editorials aimed at featuring today's plus size modeling industry in it's truest light.


*Vernetta Jenkins-Collins (Reality TV Producer, Mo'Nique's FAT Chance)

A prolific reality/talk television producer, Vernetta has added her talents to a steady stream of engaging and provocative content for network shows including 4 seasons of BIG BROTHER for CBS. Vernetta completed her second run as Supervising Show Producer of MO’NIQUE’S F.A.T. CHANCE, the first Plus Sized Beauty Competition/Reality show hosted and executive produced by Academy Award winning actress/comedienne/writer, Mo’Nique for the Oxygen Network.
*Michael Anthony Hermogeno – (Former Head Photographer, Torrid!)

Michael Anthony Hermogeno began working in nightclubs back in 1996 part time. In 2002, he signed on with Shooting Star Agency in Hollywood photographing red carpet events, and in 2004, got picked up by Torrid.com, the plus size retailer owned by Hot Topic Inc as Head Photographer. Michael Anthony is currently the owner operator of his own photography company 8X10 Proofs Inc.

*Alana Chandler – (Plus Model/Actress, The Janice Dickinson
Modeling Agency): 

Alana Chandler, a plus-size fashion model, reality star, and lawyer. Born in Gary, Indiana. Alana got her big break when, in 2008, she appeared on Oxygen’s hit series The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. Alana has also appeared on various television broadcasts which include: Tyra Banks Show, MTV’S G’s to Gents, Judge Penny Family Court, BET’S Played By Fame, ABC’S Crash Course, The CW’s Farmer Wants a Wife, and most recently The Dr. Phil Show.


If you are even thinking of starting a career as a plus sized model, THIS is the seminar that you DO NOT want to miss!

Learn from professionals in the plus fashion industry:


  • How to make it or break it as a plus sized model on ANY level.



  • Why preparation is KEY!



  • How to develop a "signature" runway walk.



  • How to stack the deck in YOUR favor.



  • Knowing how much money you’ll need to get started.



  • Getting In Where You Fit In (Other branches of modeling)



  • Building your skills and using your personal budget



  • How to PROPERLY prepare for the open call.



  • How to avoid being put in a box or typecast



  • About investing in the business of YOU.



  • And SO MUCH more!!!

    So to my West Coast peeps and aspiring models (new, old, pros & amateurs) come on down and get the knowledge.  Get in the KNOW before you GO (to agencies, castings & auditions)!

    SPREAD THE WORD.....YA HEARD!!!