Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lagos Cafe's Arrogance and Horrible Services is a Culinary Disaster


The problem with what happened to me this past Sunday afternoon, March 29, 2009, was that, I had woken up and had developed an appetite to eat some home kind of made food; the ofe olugbo, bitter leaf soup, coupled with the orishirishi, the ingredients and varieties of meats and dried fish that comes along with it.

Actually, there was no pub-crawling the previous night, quite unusual, which normally should have justified my quest to fill up my stomach from partying hard. And, precisely, not that I even went to see a show ending up hanging out where I'm not suppose to have been getting up the next day with some hangovers, headaches and things like that.

I was clean and sober. It's just that I did not feel like going to the popular Tak's Coffee House around my neck of the woods for lunch. I wanted bitter leaf soup and garri to do justice to my stomach. And here I am in my journey. And what a way to learn a lesson.

I had made up my mind to go to different Nigerian or African restaurants in the LA area, a place I am not a regular. Feeling like swallowing garri with a paste of deliciously prepared bitter leaf soup, I landed at Lagos Cafe run by Ronke Bernadette, located on the 1400 block of Crenshaw Boulevard in Gardena, California. It took me about half an hour to get there, driving through the Crenshaw thoroughfare of "Black Township", and combing on the cultural festivities of Leimert Park where a series of African American women dance and beat the drums on Sundays as if it is a spiritual revival. Crenshaw Blvd., from my destination to Gardena stretches through four different suburbs -- "The Jungle" around the Mid City area, Inglewood, Hawthorne and Gardena.

I was hungry and had anticipated a good meal, especially when breezing into a place I'm not a regular. But restaurants of the African ilk in the Los Angeles area are not just regular cuisines some few dollar can get you something to chew on. These are restaurants you have to spend at least 15 bucks for a regular meal, and 15 bucks for a regular meal in these days of belt-tightening is not a chicken change.

Anyways, here I go. I walked in to a place that looked totally deserted. The owner, Ronke and her friend who had told me she came from Togoland sat on one corner running their mouth -- without paying attention that a customer had arrived. I made my request: bitter leaf soup with mixed meat, dried fish and garri. I sat down and waited until only God knows when a waiter, apparently my home boy, popped up and told me my "food will soon be ready."

As it happened, my friend, Ardis Hamilton, whom I have known for many years dating back to the "read my lips" era called me, and I told him exactly where I was and how I got there. Immediately, he picked up interest to join me, in order to have a feel of a well-prepared African dish. In about 20-minutes, he was in. He was turned off right away because of the owner and her Togolese friend's attitude, loquaciously erring in French. Yes, they spoke French and did not care if a customer had arrived.

Meanwhile, I had waited long enough and my stomach was burning for some reason. I requested for some water to drink. Lagos Cafe had no water, absolutely no water for its customers which had me wonder why this garrulous woman and her friend are in business, in the first place. They drove down the street to buy some water after my request. In a restaurant and no water. Imagine!

At Veronica's Kitchen which sits on Manchester in Inglewood, the service is always great, the environment conducive and the waiters and waitresses well-behaved which is why the owner, Veronica Ogbeide, beats them all, hands down, and presumably from learning how to run a restaurant, effectively and efficiently.

However, they got my water while I waited for the so-called 'finest food' to arrive. Ardis, too, was looking forward to something special. To my friend's surprise, these talky women and the attendant who is also my home boy, changed their tone of language, all of a sudden, and just like that. Ngbati-ngbati, the normal Yoruba noise making kind of stuff, typical of a gabby Oshodi market women, became a trend, and it baffled my friend because they all knew he's a Yank as in "no speak English" a Hispanic would pretend to tell you.

My food finally came and I wanted my friend, Ardis, to taste the soup before ordering his own on my tab. Ardis has not recovered. His ass has been burning from the overseasoned habanero pepper and some other chili stuff that was used in cooking the soup.

In my own case, I'm the kind of guy who would eat up everything served and face the consequences later. Money is hard, these days, you know, but how could I have gotten myself into a situation where I now live in my restroom until the whole mess is flushed out from my system?

Not only that the service at Lagos Cafe was horrible, it was also ridiculously expensive. 20-something bucks and no leftover to take home? Come on, now, be real! At Veronica and 15-plus something bucks, you will have a whole lot of leftovers to take home, and you will be glad you did.

Lagos Cafe, Ronke, the talkative Togolese lady and my home boy, quote me, I will never be back because it really sucks, (excuse my language for I am pissed), and from my observation, you will be the last to earn a Michelin star.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Trend, The Time and Bob Marley


Old pirates yes they rob I
sold I to the merchant ships
minutes after the took I
from the bottomless pit
but my hand was made strong
by the hand of the Almighty

we forward in this generation
triuphantly
won't you help to sing
the songs of freedom
'cuz' all I only have
redemption song...redemption song

emancipate yourself from mental slavery
none but ourselves can free our minds
have no fear for atomic energy
'cuz' none of them can stop the time
how long shall they kill our prophets
while we stand aside and look

some say it's just a part of it
\we got to fulfill the book
won't you help to sing
the songs of freedom
'cuz' all I only have
redemption song...


"Yes, the lyrics is baked in my genes from the moment the album was released. And I 'dunno' if this is becoming craziness. But, no, I am trying to figure out how it all popped up, and of what origin am beginning to sense that this is not something new or probably I may be losing it because the lyrics itself had a whole lot to do about my being,and specifically the pirates who had thought they were doing my being a favor which led to the mess that seemingly has consumed the world today, and certainly a world that continues to be troubled."

"Hey, man, what's wrong with you and what the hell are you talking about... are you alright, man!?"

"Oh, yeah, 'am alright. It's just that something is baked in my genes and it continues to give me that natural high. I really 'dunno' what it is."

"What's going on and what exactly is baked in your genes?"

"Well, I just gave you a hint and it's not rocket science. Simple and clear, but since you are too dumb like Fred Sanford would tell his son when they ran the salvage company, Sanford & Son, let's try it again. It's called 'The Trend and The Time", not Morris Day & The Time, perhaps before "Purple Rain." Did you get it?"

"Nope."

"So what do you want me to do? Stuff it?"

"What are you talking about for goodness sake?"

"Here we go again, he wants to know everything."

"Of course, I do. Have you been smoking some weed or something?"

And, what's that... you see what I mean? Each time something pops up, it's all about weed."

"Look, man, I'm through with you."

"Really?!"

"Really!"

"Ok, let's see, have you ever heard of Bob Marley?"

"Of course, who doesn't know Bob Marley, the legend."

"Here you go. You are becoming a good boy and I am proud of you. But let me ask you, though, did he ever made sense to you?"

"Yep, and now what?"

"This is the deal, and make sure you take notes when I lecture."

Funny and confusing, huh? It all depends on which way you look at it. Not much happenned for the gone week but I did chew on some few stuff. Too many books popped up about Bob Marley, though I haven't made time to check them out at the bookstores, but I read the review, "The Bob Marley Story", well-done by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro in the April 9, 2009 edition of the of The New York Review of Books. Summing it all up, to one essay, Schapiro provided a lot of information from the following: "Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley", by Christopher John Farley; "Bob Marley: Herald of the Postcolonial World," by Jason Toynbee; "The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the CEntury", by Vivien Goldman; and "Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley", by David Burnett.

Good piece and in-depth, and Schapiro writes;

"Marley is the only third world performer to be elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, the BBC named his "One Love" the "Song of the Millennium", the same year Time Magazine declared his 1977 "Exodus" the "Best Album of the Twentieth Century" voted the third greates songwriter of all time in 2001 by BBC poll (behind Bob Dylan and John Lennon...)"

Bob Marley was something else. He changed everything about reggae which evolved from ska, rocksteady and prophesy after his neigborhood buddies, Winston McIntosh and Neville "Bunny" Wailer" Livingstoe would join him in forming the Wailers. McIntosh went by the name of Peter Tosh while Livingstone would be Bunny Wailer. And, the rest would be history.

"The Harder They Come" and the Venice Film Festival. Jimmy Cliff. Perry Henzell. Rita Anderson (Marley's wife). Christopher Blackwell, the brain behind Island Records. Lee "Scratch" Perry, the gem behind reggae explosion. Desmond Dekker, the first reggae artist whose album "Israelites" catapulted reggae to the top. Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF freedom fighters and independence for Zimbabwe. And, all in all, Blackwell was the man. And reggae came to stay, and the vibe would change the world; and of course, the flow made sense.

And as it goes, so I found myself knowing more stuff about the legend. There was Aston "Family man" Barrett who claimed to have fathered 52 children; there was Bruce Dunbar in the era of the reggae explosion; there was Coxsone Dodds label that paid poorly; there was the American group, The Drifters, Marley listened to growing up in Jamaica and there was a group that admired the works of Marcus Garvey and celebrating "the 1930 coronation of Haile Selassie 1 as emperor of Ethiopia as a fulfilment of Garvey's supposed prophecy to 'look to the East for the crowning of the African King'"

Marley, the legend, you did stuff and you changed the world. Your legacy lives.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Culinary Correctness: The Korean Eatery On Vermont


My friend and I had pub-crawled until the wee hours and still wondered where we might end up for after hours. The City of Angels and its glamour coupled with all that Hollywood wannabes is what keeps this amazing metropolis jamming, and without a doubt, it is happening all around the city 24/7; and you bet, if you get trapped you are then on your own.

As it happened, I had decdided to try something else to fill up my empty stomach which I do every now and then, that is, when the ofe olugbo, bitter leaf soup, egusi soup, okra soup, and all the nkwobi and ngwongwo got to be supplemented. Whenever I am in the need to supplement all the African dishes, I go for something entirely different, and that is how I found myself at Yong Su San Restaurant on the 900 block of South Vermont Avenue in Korean Town, and right inside the hub of the Wilshire Corridor. This normally happens after the all night pub-crawling.

And landing at these restaurants not of my origin has always been an attempt to free myself from the regular isi-ewu, goat meat, nkwobi-ngwongwo ritual.


When we found parking, we walked in and the waitress offered us a table which at all times makes me feel indulge. The've seen my face before so it wasn't a problem for them to think otherwise, I mean, wondering what the heck a black guy and his friend would be doing in Korean Town at 2-something a.m., especially during unholy hours. The waitress was nice, though. She served us well and was all smiles.

When I want a damn good Korean barbacue in Los Angeles, I know the best joints and Yong Su San Restaurant is one of them. The brisket, marinated boneless ribs, tongue and baby octopus plus that burning charcoal that helps you prepare the barbecue your self is just beautiful and nothing is as good as that. In addition, we had some spinach, roasted mushroom and some other vegetables I had no idea where they came from. We topped the entire dish with steamed rice, and of course, some Korean wine imported somewhere from South Asia.

The place sits a lot of people and it's always packed, and as usual, a hangout for University of Southern California students who are known to party hard. So far, I haven't seen the hood rats there. Check it out and tell me about it!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Da Week and Da Wrap Up


It's amazing how time flies. March is almost over and another week gone by with President Barack Obama's Stimulus Package not yet showing as pundits, talkshow hosts, especially on the far right are not being considerate from the way they keep attacking Obama on what they are now calling a failure. Failure in just two months? I don't get it and give me a break. I 'dunno' how that could be possible for a mess caused in eight years of a retarded George Bush 2 administration to be cleaned up in a blink of an eye. It is just not possible, even though Obama seems to be making mistakes notably his choice of appointments and the outrageous AIG debacle.

Meanwhile, while at it, Obama is enjoying the ride making the presidency look easy, and for sure, living up to his creed in changing the way business is conducted in Washington. His visit to Southern California and appearance at "The Tonight Show," without a doubt, catapulted Jay Leno's show to the top in ratings while the president keep leaving his mark -- the first sitting president to appear on NBC's "The Tonight Show."

Enough of "da" politics. I read Dambisa Moyo's interesting article "Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa" in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. I agree with Moyo in that superb write-up, and I hope the financial institutions in question and charity organizations will start rethinking their starategies because the alleged aid is doing more harm than good. For instance, aids to many of these poor countries in Africa were embezzled by its leaders. Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo), Bakill Muluzi (Malawi), and Frederick Chiluba, Zambia's former president, have all, one way or the other, embezzled funds meant to aid the poor by way of infrastructures, healthcare and education. In that piece, Moyo writes;

Yet evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower. The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. It's increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest (the fact that over 60% of sub-Saharan Africa's population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for worry). Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.

The movies this weekend got me tripping. I was only able to watch two of the new arrivals at theaters, and as it happens sometimes, and not being ready, I dozed off in both movies which reminded me of "Boiler Maker" I was suppose to be reviewing a couple of months ago. The first I watched was "Duplicity" starring the 41-year-old wrinkle-free Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman. All about love and lack of trust got me snoring in-between the show. I'm not sure if I want to see it again. Then I saw "Sunshine Cleaning" starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin. It was not much to talk about. And I dozed off, and that's basically about it. I am not going to see it again.

What's up with Twitter, man!? Looks like every now and then when I pop up my mailbox someone I have not known from Adam seems to be following me. A way to connect and share brief moments which appears to be cool depending on what way one looks at it. It is an entire world in one box and the stuff has just exploded. And the folks out there in da box are having a ball and talking about it everywhere they go.

I shared a brief moment on the phone with actress/filmmaker, Esosa Edosomwan and some fascinating project will be popping up very soon and knowing who Esosa is from her years of determination and hardwork, it's going to be explosive and da magazine is going to be straight.

But, anyway, the week wasn't that bad save for Fox Channel Obama bashers who have nothing else to do but keep saying Obama this and Obama that. They should leave the guy alone to do his job. What's their beef?

My heart goes to the families of four Oakland, California Police officers who were gunned down in a shootout yesterday by troubled parolee Lovelle Mixon. More on Oakland shooting.

That's "Da Week and Da Wrap Up."

CARTOON: 'Upwardly Mobile'

SOURCE: GUARDIAN NEWSPAPERS

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

News Desk Update Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Human Trafficking in Eastern Europe 'Set to Rise'
Human trafficking is increasing in other parts of the world as well. In the Philippines, for example, rising unemployment is making more people vulnerable to traffickers, reports the humanitarian news agency IRIN. "Along with a possible upsurge of criminality as joblessness and poverty spread, there could be a rise in cases of human trafficking," says lawyer Ferdinand Lavin, chief of the National Bureau of Investigations Anti-Human Trafficking Division. "People will be more aggressive in finding jobs and human traffickers will take advantage of the situation."

Human trafficking, often referred to as modern-day slavery, is the second largest and fastest growing illegal industry in the world, according to the Polaris Project, a group that works with victims of all forms of human trafficking. Traffickers typically "prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have unstable home life, or have a history of sexual abuse," notes the Polaris Project. [READ MORE>>>]


Modern-Day Slavery
INDIANAPOLIS - Slavery as blacks know it is permeated with images of Africans stuffed in ships, whipped and beaten beyond recognition, hung on trees and picking cotton. Slavery now has a new face – human trafficking. Human trafficking is often confused with smuggling, extortion or simple prostitution. When a person is a victim of human trafficking they are mandated to work under specific conditions by force. The U.S. is one of the top “destination” countries for human trafficking.

“I don’t want to devalue the legacy of slavery in this country with real shackles. For people to understand the kind of control someone is under, it's useful to think of this as a modern day form of slavery,” said Mark Lagon, executive director of Polaris Project, a national organization aimed at ending human trafficking.

Forced labor continues to be a substantial portion of human trafficking yet commercial sex dominates. According to Gayle Helart, assistant United States attorney, for the Southern District of Indiana, the crime isn't about the violence or the labor itself, but the money - especially commercial sex. [READ MORE>>>]


Brown panel urges memorial to note slave ties
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A commission established by Brown University in cooperation with the city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island has released a report that makes six recommendations on how to acknowledge the university and community's historical relationship with the slave trade.

Among the recommendations by the commission is that the Public Arts Committee at Brown be asked to commission a memorial about how slavery was intertwined with the Ivy League university's early benefactors.

Other recommendations include working with city and state to explore how they will memorialize slavery in the city and state's past.

The commission recommends that the director of Center for Slavery and Justice, when appointed, undertake a discussion how this history will be represented in the Brown curriculum and how the curriculum can be used for teaching at the K-12 level and that the university through the center.

The commission also recommends providing funds for ongoing public events, seminars and lecture on issue that help the community reflect on the history of slavery in Rhode Island and similar atrocities around the world. [READ MORE>>>]


National domestic-violence conference set
The alleged beating of pop star Rihanna by her boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown, has touched off a national dialogue about domestic abuse.

"Whenever something so startling involving celebrities is in the public eye, it starts people talking," said Kate Marckworth, director of the health-care task force within the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence.

The 10-year-old coalition hopes to continue the conversation at its first national conference, titled "Innovation through Collaboration: Building a Community Response to Family Violence."

The event, which will run from April 29 through May 1 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, is expected to draw as many as 500 domestic-abuse experts from across the country.

"We are honored to host this conference to help dedicated individuals continue their work breaking the cycle of violence in victims' lives," said Abigail S. Wexner, the coalition's founder and chairwoman. [READ MORE>>>]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Benedict visits Africa for first time as Pope

YAOUNDE, March 17 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict will make his maiden trip as pontiff to Africa on Tuesday, seeking support for the continent during an economic crisis and under pressure to encourage peace, reconciliation and help reduce corruption.

The pope starts his two-nation tour in Cameroon, where he will visit charities, meet Muslim leaders and attend a gathering of bishops trying to chart the Church's role in bettering Africans' lives. Later in the week he will move on to Angola.

While followers are dwindling in the developed world, Africa, where some progress has been made towards democratisation but conflicts and political crises continue to simmer, is seen as central to the future of a growing Church. [READ MORE>>>]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obamanian Politics, Books and What's Up

[Drawing courtesy of Once Made]

Whew! another week gone by and with March Madness in all aspects of life, I think it's quite fascinating how we deal with the scheme of things and what to expect in President Barack Obama's first hundred days in office. It's tough, ain't it? The president is optimistic about the paralized economy bouncing back sooner or later. And methink he's doing the best he can neverminding what conservative Republicans are up to in throwing all the bad stuff that is seemingly negative to the affairs of state in an economy gone so bad they should be blamed for as a result of a bad managed Bush 2 era.

Actually, I read Elizabeth Drew's elegantly written piece on Obama's code of conduct and his boys -- "The Thirty Days of Barack Obama" -- in the White House, in the March 26, 2009 edition of The New York Review of Books which pinpointed how Obama really wants to change the way business is done in Washington.

Drew's essay spoke volumes. She spoke to a whole lot of insiders and notably pointed out how a Obama close observer has seen the president as "the boys are running the White House." The "boys" are Rahm Emmanuel (Chief of Staff), David Axelrod (Chief Campaign Strategist and Senior Adviser to the president), Jim Messina (Deputy Chief of Staff), and Patrick Gaspard who heads the office of Political Affairs in the White House.

Interestingly, Obama is using his executive orders and pen swiftly to do stuff.: "the memos of John Yoo," George W. Bush' measures on the "war on terror," "justified torture and lenghty detention without trial were nullified," writes Drew.

Also, interestingly, Drew wrote on Obama's mistakes and choice of appointments --the appointments of Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle -- which she described as "rookie mistakes" and "as the results of sheer fatigue and overload."

For some reasons, the books are popping up and myself being the non-fiction kind of guy book reader, I tend to shoot it straight with reality -- life's true events and personal experiences even though the online book bash and its fifth annual Tournament of Books is full of upsets but quite novel.

I'm still sticking to books that are based on facts and issues that I can relate to. Books of inspiration, and perhaps that's why books of inspiration are popping up all over, especially those of Abey Lincoln who unquestionably inspired President Obama. Oxford University Press has released two books on Lincoln" "Abraham Lincoln," by the Pulitzer Prize Winner James M. McPherson and "Lincoln and his Admirals," by Craig I. Symonds. And in Hollywood, David Welky's "The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the coming of World War II" had Morgan State University's Thomas Cripps put it up this way: "There have been other works that treat this area, but few match the quality of interveaning the worlds of movies, diplomacy and tghe temper of the times (especially as seen in the minds of the 'moguls')." In short, too many fascinating books in the world of Spring and especially the "March Madness of Books."

In the meantime, I have browsed through G. Pascal Zachary's memoir "Married to Africa," after reading its review by Megan Harlan in "Love and Marriage for an American Ex-Pat in Ghana." Good read and it's all about Zachary's obsession for the woman he loved and never looked back. A strange love affair. A humble beginning. A middle-class upbringing. A marriage put together. A real understanding. And, a generation apart.

What's up? My readers are wondering what's going on, especially with the "About Me" on my blog and what's up with that. I'm not revealing anything for now but I'm quite sure they must have figured out who the picture is since I pulled the first one out. There's been a whole lotta noise about Rita Edmond and her velvet voice that is now capturing jazz music lovers. As a jazz enthusiast, I was one of the guys that picked up her debut CD "Sketches Of A Dream" and after going through all the gigs in Los Angeles Rita had this to say about her love for Jazz: “I am sketching out a lifetime dream of what I want to do vocally. I love jazz and the standards are some of the most beautiful songs ever written. Jazz is the most liberating free form of music there is; I call it free flowing music..."

On the other beat, the women at WOWOWOW are not taking anything for granted. Celebrating its first year anniversary, a whole lot is going on for them and they seem to be equal to the task, and the vibe looks good. Yes, the vibe looks good.

They love Obama and Obama seems to be winning their votes which increasingly is disturbing to conservative Republicans. I, in particular, do not know what these folks think they are conserving in a fast changing world. The world has changed and we better admit it and deal with it. These so-called neocons have made the hoodrats look like gurus and intellectuals; and for sure, they are not thinking right.

It's a "New Dawn" and the world must get better!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nigeria becomes Africa’s biggest mobile telecom market

The Nigerian telecom market grew by 23 percent (in US dollar value) in 2008, generated $8.4 billion in overall telecom service revenues, notes Yejide Onabule, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report. "With mobile subscriber penetration at just 42 percent, Nigeria’s total telecom revenue is expected to increase at a CAGR of 5.7 percent from US$8.42 billion in 2008 to $11.14 billion in 2013," Onabule says.

Since liberalization of the market in 2003, Nigeria’s telecom industry has experienced exceptional growth rates, which is attracting new operators. "The bulk of service revenue will continue to come from mobile, which will generate 83 percent of total service revenue over the next five years," Onabule adds. [READ MORE>>>]

World Cup to 'change world's view of Africa'

PARIS (AFP) — Danny Jordaan, head of the South African 2010 World Cup organising committee, said on Friday he wanted to transform people's world view of Africa through the staging of a successful tournament.

Visiting Paris, Jordaan said the event would be an opportunity "to change people's perception of the African continent. We have to see Africa as a continent for investment in tourism and trade".

He added that the tournament, the first Africa will have staged, was a chance to put the whole continent in general on the map and "celebrate the best" it had to offer. [READ MORE>>>]

Sudan: Nigeria Supports AU's Position on Al-Bashir's Arrest Warrant

Sudan Minister of International Cooperation Eltigani Fedail said Nigeria confirmed its support for the position of African Union on the warrant of arrest on President Al-bashir of Sudan by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Briefing journalists after meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Chief Ojo Madukwe in Abuja yesterday, Mr Fedail said Nigeria is committed to having peace in Sudan and that it support for the ICC warrant of arrest on President Al-bashir will not help to restore peace in the country. [READ MORE]

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Twitter Nation and Remembering Hank Crawford


Just like that, something pops up and becomes a big deal. Just like that America and its creativity can pop up with something about nothing, and all of a sudden people will be having a blast with an amazing enterprise. Just like that some young fellas would sit under a tree on campus grounds and put their thoughts together and, before you know it they are somewhere in a neigborhood cafe talking about their stocks and millions of dollars stashed in the bank.

"And how come this is just a piece of cake?"

"The land of opportunity -- no doubt, making something out of nothing."

"So what in God's sake are you talking about?"

"I am talking about all the above subject-matter and before you start wondering, it is none other than Twitter, the newest arrival on social networking and how the internet brigades are all crazy about it. It has driven NPR's Jim Lehrer and Andrea Seabrooks nuts. ABC News Chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos cannot do without it. Charles Gibson is in it, too. The quarterbackers, the doves and hawks thinks the time has come to settle their differences. All has joined the bandwagon, and I don't know about you."

"Yahoo had its moment and millions of millions of groups emerged to a point it's no longer relevant. Now there is Hi5, My Space, Face Book, Desktop Networking, and thousands of socio-cultural networks out there presumably making body and soul one depending on what is it that troubles you or perhaps what you are looking for."

I had read about Twitter and trashed it not to be bothered. And I did read an article about it again and thought it was one writing a piece from putting thoughts together.

And I never looked back. But the whole thing popped up again. And I thought, wait a minute; we've got Google. We've got the chat rooms. We've got all kinds of stuff-- from dating service to your local food delivery -- you name it.

But the whole thing popped up again. And I still never looked back. Oh, if you don't know by now, everybody is talking about it on every TV channel including Good Morning America; at the market square, on the street corner, at the construction site, inside Mayor Antonio Villaraigos's office, in Supervisor, 2nd District, Mark Ridley-Thomas' branch offices, and all nooks and crannies of Mother Earth. It has been known to be weightier than the Biblical David and Goliath story.

"What are you talking about?"

"You will know in a minute."

"Until I get a heart attack?"

"Nope!"

"And what's taking you so long?"

"Nothing, it's just that so many people have come and gone and it's more than a feeling."

"Okay, keep it to yourself and I ain't listening to you no more."

"No 'am not and would you listen and keep quiet?"

Yes, I ran into Twitter after reading a series of articles in Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The first thing that pops up upon entering the website is "what are you doing?" asking you to let the world know if you are somewhere doing what you weren't suppose to be doing. I got in there just for the heck of it, I mean poking around. I registered and couldn't believe what I saw. It was indeed a market square and every human being you can think of buys and sells there. They all have handles except a very few seeking attention.

But I have taken a handle myself and start telling the world my business at the moment. I had been glued and I kept telling the world my business. It was not until Hank Crawford popped up from one of my followers that I knew something quite fascinating is about to happen "here." The twitter had talked about the death of legendary saxophonist Hank Crawford who died in January. He had also talked about being a teenager in the mid 50s and how he had moved to somewhere in the South running into a jam session where Hank Crawford was performing alongside Leroy "Hog" Cooper and David "Fathead" Newman in a band Ray Charles had cooked. Every twitter had a blog or website which made the networking interesting.

The twitting continued for several days and all followers learned a whole lot about this legendary alto saxophonist. I had told my side of the story knowing Crawford. As a teenager and visiting Lagos for the holidays and all that jam sessions Lagos was known for, the album "Tico Rico" had been all over the air waves including the record shops blasting it all out loud. It was just fresh from the stables of Creed Taylor International (CTI). And I have begun to know the meaning of jazz fusion and how the magnificent producer Creed Taylor had assembled the best during the Kudu years. And going deep into what was at Kudu Records -- George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., Esther Philips, Stanley Turrentine, Wes Montgomery, Idris Muhammad, Johnny Hammond, Deodato, Mongo Santamaria, Hubert Laws, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Ron Carter, the Cajun man himself Crawford, Eric Gale, Joe Beck, Phil Upchurch, Tennyson Stephens, Grant Green, David Mathews, Thus Spoke Z and others -- jazz fussion came into the fore of my interests in music.

And while "Tico Rico" was driving everybody nuts I had not been familiar with Crawford's other projects. There was "Help me make it through the night," Jazz Funk," "We Got a Good Thing," and "Wildflower" which was among Crawford's finest projects. As it also happened, one of my followers had digged deeply into my works and found out I was a hell of a music freak. He came back twitting and started throwing questions about my musicology. We had been on a long thread of Crawford, and the Kudu years was the beginning of my knowing jazz music which has now stretched to the early part of the Twentieth Century and by twitting I am learning more.

No question, Crawford was magnificent. He had the talent. His skills inspired me. His passion was what got me. He was a master in his craft. His music shook me. Remembering his horns and gone at 74 he will be missed.

Adios, amigo, and let's keep twitting!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Weekend in the City of Angels

Oh, boy, L.A. is the place, believe it or not. Los Angeles is just a drama on its own, and a whole lot seems to be making the City of Angels the craziest of all metropolis, especially when one becomes a target of who you are, "where you from," your lifestyle (drug addicts, alcoholics, blogaddicts, armchair quarterbacks, basketball fanatics, barebodied hotdog eating football fanatics, aloofed Hollywood wannabes and what have you) you must have done something wrong why someone is for no reason saying something about you (good or bad) for the fact it is a tradition that life goes on, no matter what.

As it happened the past weekend in Los Angeles was something I think I should talk about for many reasons. I had trooped to many places and it's just a whole lot happening the coming months before the Summer jams. I mean, the line up is so huge I'm beginning to wonder if President Barack Obama is just simply a magician. The guy is loved and the press has adored him. Every 'damn' thing is going on well now one begins to wonder why in heavens places George W. Bush and his White House gangsters deliberately decided to destroy the finest place on Earth. But that's over with and definitely "change has come to America." It is a "New Dawn," and without a doubt America is back.

But anyways, it's all good and the pop-ups is a sign of good feelings. The Playboy Jazz Festival announced last week the line-ups for this year's Summer jams at the Hollywood Bowl, and being my kind of hang out, I spoke to many of what should be expected and how "change has come America." Just hanging out as usual, the 31st Annual Playboy Jazz Festival marking its 50th anniversary salute to Miles Davis' class album "Kind of Blue" by Jimmy Cobbs So What Band scheduled for June 13-14 at the Hollywood Bowl became an interesting topic with regards to the "New Dawn." The festival will feature one of my all time favorites and friend Wayne Shorter whom I have watched uncountable times, Kenny G., the Neville Brothers, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Norman Brown, the John Faddis Quartet, the Jack Sheldon Orchestra, the New Birth Brass Band, the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, Cos of Good Music, Patty Austin, the Dave Holland Big Band, Oscar Hernandez and the Conga Room All-Stars, the Anat Cohen Quartet, Alfredo Rodriguez and the North Hollywood Jazz Essemble, and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble.

What a line-up!

That's not all. It's weekend in Los Angeles and I had dabbled into Tayo Okulaja and the talk was, again, "change has come to America," and it is a "New Dawn." Yep, a "New Dawn." The Playboy Jazz Festival was part of our gist and the Owambe, Juju music King Sunny Ade is in the list, too. He will be slamming his "Synchro Systems" vibes at the Hollywood Bowl and I'm quite sure he will deliver. As Okulaja and I began to see what is making news in Naija, it came out "Naija still get long way to go" and not in our generation will change come to "Nigeria." Unfortunately so, and who cares, though?

Okulaja, another crazy dude, knows a whole lot about music, too. The legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter popped up. "So you know about my man Wayne Shorter?"

"Ah ah, which one you dey now? Abi you think say man no know what's up?"

"That's not what I mean."

"Wetin you mean?"

"I meant The Playboy Jazz Festival which I have not skipped for the last 15 years and it's becoming better and groovier each year notably as Bill Cosby always serves as master of ceremony."

Interestingly, Okulaja knew much about my man, Shorter who is still looking good at 75. Still energetic and jiving. Shorter, like we all know had started with ace drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, then with Miles Davis' 60's Quintet and Tony Williams, Ron Carter and another of my favorites, Herbie Hancock. When cultural/jazz fussion popped up in the 70's as Modern Jazz Quartet and Creed Taylor's Crew at Kudu Studios began changing the theme of Jazz in what critics called crossover, Shorter connected with Austrian keyboardist Joe Zawinul in what would be an amazing journey in Jazz music. I love the man and his music is like baked in my genes. The tracks "Speak no Evil," "Juju," "Native Dancer" and "Jungle Stuff" from the days of Weather Report are all masterpieces.

Okulaja kept me talking and jazz had been the theme and I never stopped talking about jazz greats from Satchimo to Shorty Rogers. I'm still not sure who is the greatest sax player. I'll give it to John Coltrane and "African Brass" unquestionably remains my best.

The weekend did not end without Obama being on top. The bailout and all his packages has taken over in every nook and cranny of Los Angeles and people are beginning to wonder why. It's just simple. The guy has vision and "change has come to America." It is a "New Dawn."

And as always, L.A. is the place!

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