Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson: Remembering and the Celebration of Life

June 25, 2009, was what looked like a beautiful day when I woke up in the morning for another thank Lord, I made it day, feeling summer all around me. And the coastal weather did look nice through the afternoon. Nobody had expected any sad story, not of Michael Jackson.

Around some minutes after three o'clock in the afternoon, a friend called me and said, "Michael Jackson is dead. He had suffered a cardiac arrest at his Holmby Hills home. Doctors couldn't revive him."

"What?" I said.

"Michael Jackson is dead," he further exclaimed.

"I am stunned, let me call you back," I said.

On the other line was my daughter whom I guess was coming up with the same breaking news of Michael's death. "Dad, did you hear what happened?" she asked.

"Michael Jackson died, right?" I said.

While my daughter was still on the phone, another call came from Maryland whose voice wasn't clear -- Michael's death has broken people down and everybody is talking about what might have went wrong in the King of Pop's sudden death after going through some rehearsals the previous day in preparation for his O2 Arena concert in London.

"Ah, they killed him," my friend, Emeka Amanze, would say. Another call came from a friend who said, "Babe, I know you love music and you love Michael Jackson... it's sad he died." The calls kept coming in, Michael Jackson is dead.

I have been speechless and do not know what to do. Michael Jackson is gone and we all hope he finds peace that eluded him while on Earth.

On June 4, I had blogged on Michael's new image and the O2 Arena concerts coupled with movie deals, record deals, memorabilia, world tour and other packages that was going to net him a staggering four hundred and something million dollars by the time he's done with all the shows. He never made it. He's gone.

I have vivid memories of the 70s Motown blasts. As a little kid, Michael, little as well, had already turned what would be Hitsville into something else, evolving from a 5-year-old singing sensation to a superstar by the time he turned 13. The group Jackson 5 had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and the whole world had seen a rising star.

While in high school through the late 70s, the Jackson 5 went through many paths --Motown, Philly Sounds and Epic Records. Growing up in the disco era when Harry Wayne Casey and colleagues at TK Records changed our moods catapulting most to the top, disco fever was all over and, the epidemic was widespread and had become hard to find a cure. We all had been stricken by this disease called disco fever and in UK, it was more like the 1920's influenza epidemic.

When disco popped up, Michael was still there, and an incredible talent about to blow up. He had been a Jackson 5 all along, cutting some solo singles on the way. During the days of our high school ballroom dances, proms and other social events around the dorm, Michael was there but not loud enough. There was the pure funk engineered by George Clinton which saw the likes of Bootsy Collins' chained Rubber Band and Uncle Jams Parliament/Funkadelic. And there was the New, New Super Heavy Funk ordained to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, as Minister, who had been Michael's mentor in those amazing steps. But then again, came da groove, da soul, da funk and da dance, a collective from the three major recording concerns of back in the day studio recordings that exploded in the 70s through the 80s.

Berry Gordy's Motown, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's Philly Sounds and Dick Griffey's Sound of Los Angeles Records were the three major labels that produced top performers in between two decades in the class of funk, soul and R&B.

The competition was tight and the vibes came in different flavors. But Michael was special from the moment he went solo after Jackson 5 opened up acts for James Brown, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. That did it. Hits upon hits were made. "ABC." "I Want You Back." "I'll Be There," etc. and Michael's number one single on the Billboard charts "Got To Be There."

I was not into Michael and all the Jackson growing up tunes which blended rock, soul and funk until the Jacksons first all out written songs produced the album "Destiny." That was in the summer of 1978 and the single "Blame It On The Boogie" began to jam around all the pubs, the hangouts and in my neck of the woods. You don't blame it on the sunshine, you don't blame it on the moonlight, you blame it on the boogie; such was the vibe.

Also, before the "Destiny" album smashes, Teddy Pendergrass' "Life Is A Song Worth Singing," album, Chic's "Le Freak Ces't Shit," Fat Larry's Band "Down On The Avenue," George Clinton's "One Nation Under A groove," Brass Construction's "Changing," B.T. Express' "Bus Stop," T Connection's "Do What Ya Wanna Do," and the reggae explosions of U Roy, I Roy, Nicodemus, Prince Jazzbo, Dillinger, Mighty Diamonds, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Johnny Clark, Max Romeo, Burning Spear, Lee "Scratch" Perry coupled with the studio time sessions of Sly Dumbar and Robbie Shakespeare, had made significant impacts in my days, growing up.

"Destiny" changed all that and Michael had just arrived, independent, free of Gordy, an adult, already 20 and ready to prove his point. In every gathering, ballroom dances, the melting nite clubs, even at the makeshift mama put, the roadside food joints, "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" was the song of all songs. Anywhere you go, you got to shout, dance and shake your body to the ground because the rhythm was so compelling one had no choice. Yes, let's dance, let's shout... A blend of of some soul, jazz and funk had been ushered in and disco had begun to wane.

Da moves, da groove, da dance and da funk, Michael turned everything around. In every party you got to shake that your body to the ground. But hey, it wasn't long after the overwhelming commercial success of the "Destiny" album that the original studio rat, Quincy Jones, found home in the complex of Epic Records for a thorough and tasty dish we all will be licking our fingers up until today.

The year was 1979, and it was around summer, I think, and we were just hanging out on the front porch of Esther's Beer Parlor at 21 Item Street, D-Line, Port Harcourt, and everybody was just loud, perhaps for the fact that US and UK imports invaded our entire neigborhood. This was before Boy George's Culture Club and Eurythmics invaded the United States. Yes, it was nothing but US, UK imports overshadowing our local ensembles -- Wings, The Apostles, Doves, Heads Funk, SJOB Movement, Black Children, Black Souls and the rest.

Hanging out at Esther's and academic pursuits, and youths on job hunts, was just fun. There was Kaje Igwah, George Ekweh, Fidelis Awasianya, Mike Uzoma (I nicknamed him Jack Lord, and he took it), Onyema Uche, Mike Ozulumba, Kawawa (never knew his real name), Ajamiwe "Ajammy Junky" Ihekwoba, Obiora Ihekwoba, Cornelius "Hugo" Kanu, Charles Douglas, Joy Douglas, Eddie Bongo Brown of Nteje who loved storytelling and numerous others. The girls stopped by a whole lot and the gist always was about Michael and what had happened to the music world.

Da moves, da groove, da dance and da funk, Michael Jackson, a new era had just begun. Igwah, Ekweh and I had just been back from what youngsters normally do. We walked into the complex of 21 Item Street, and the place was being blasted with some loud speakers set up by Ajamiwe, and the music was what the studio rat had cooked for a year, and the artist was none other than Michael, and the album was "Off the Wall," and the track was "Don't Stop till You Get Enough," and it was all boys and girls, and the party had just begun and we all had fun. Never have I seen anything like that. Da moves, da groove, da dance and da funk, Michael Jackson, it's a new era.

So did the grooves of Michael's vibes and those amazing steps took us to the jams at Orupolo Nite Club, Lido Nite Club, Manatee and the Presidential Hotel Night Club on Aba Road. You can never stop until you get enough. Every dish in "Off the Wall" was well cooked and tasty. Quincy Jones, the studio rat, did it here superbly. Michael has exceeded superstardom, but the best is yet to come.

I was in Lagos and my hangouts were similar to the Port Harcourt days. There was the Afternoon Jump at the National Assembly complex that had been turned to jam sessions, and radio DJ's, Pat Oke, Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, Bode Seriki and many others stopped by to spin, and Michael's "Off the Wall" was always on top. Michael has taken over all the airwaves rocking every soul.

Da moves, da groove, da dance and da funk. Everybody wants to be like Mike. The glittering white socks. The tux. The gloves. The handcrafted custom made shoes. Michael conquered the universe. It was all over the pubs in Lagos. Club Phoenicia at Bristol Hotel. Gondola Nite Club. Ikoyi Hotel. Jazz Temple. Club Ace. Fantasy Nite Club. Tagged Restaurant. Durbar Hotel Night Club. Ritz. Hot Spot. The local pot-smoking joints in the ghettos of Ajegunle, Mushin, Agege, Iponri, Amukoko, Orile, Olodi and the surrounding red light districts, you name it, Michael was all over rocking with every soul. He was simply the best. I had emulated my rhythm and dance steps from him. And we never stopped until we got enough.

The studio rat had thought about Michael's remarkable success and how "Off the Wall" brought in a new era. He went back to Epic to prepare some more delicious dishes. Right On, Black Beat, Hit Parader and Rolline Stone Magazines wrote extensively about it -- a new blend had been in the making.

As of 1981, when Brothers Johnson, Kool & the Gang, Shalamar, Dynasty, Delegation, Whispers and Klymax had trooped to rock National Theater, Orile, Iganmu, courtesy of Ben Bruce Murray's Silverbird Productions, we Michael fanatics wondered what had happened in a new album. But our worries would soon be over.

In 1982, what would be the biggest selling album in history -- covering rock, funk, soul, R&B and jazz funk in a new generation -- was out with all casts. Eddie Van Halen. "Beat It," "Billy Jean," "Thriller," "Wanna Be Starting Something," and all that funk. The music videos, first of its kind in the modern era. The concerts and all the awards. Motown's 25th Anniversary and hell getting loose upon Michael performing the moonwalk suspense "Billy Jean." The Grammys. The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

There was nothing like that moment when Motown came home as predicted by Diana Ross in "Someday We'll Be Together." I watch that classic all the time for many reasons: memories, my boyhood, Michael's "Billy Jean," Richard Pryor's character, Diana Ross, Berry Gordy and how he built Motown and developed Hitsville.

When the 1984 Grammy Award nominees were announced, the news spread fast. I had walked into Suru Lere Nite Club for happy hours with my colleagues before the jam sessions. The news was all over. And we were in Lagos not in Hollywood. Michael's "Thriller" had 12 nominations. Lionel Richie had been assigned to MC the one of its kind function. Puerto Rican native, Irene Cara, had been scheduled to perform her hit single "What A Feeling." The talk was all over town. The newspapers and magazines carried it. Michael Jackson had won 8 of 12 Grammy nominations including Best Rock, "Beat It," smashing all records. Michael Jackson is the new King of Pop. He earned it.

And right now, we have a legend. It's a bottleneck driving through the Jackson's family compound on Havenhurst and Ventura Blvd. in Encino. The entire area around his Holmby Hills home by Sunset is totally closed to the public. There has been a 24/7 vigil on his star in Hollywood. His songs are played 24/7 on every station that knows what the stuff is all about.

Michael, you are a legend. The King of Pop. You called the shots in showbizness.

Rest In Peace, my man!
Michael Jackson visits Freddie Mercury backstage. 1980.

Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, who team up on duets, are seen recently in a recording studio. Jackson was 5 when the Beatles invaded America. He and McCartney also spend hours together watching cartoons. Both are collectors. (1983). Image: Linda McCartney.

The Jackson 5, the famous pop singer group, where Michael Jackson began his singing career at age five with his four brothers, pose with legendary singer Diana Ross. (1970)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tribute To The King Of Pop Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson RIP

I'm just speechless. RIP Michael.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Read

Books, academic journals, newsmagazines, newspapers, your hood free papers on your doorsteps, the freebies we bump into on our way to run errands and the take that, it's free that comes in your mailbox just to get informed in every aspect of life endeavors is honestly what keeps body and mind one. Without that, body and mind will simply rust away.

So as the Summer jams echoes every nook and cranny of our neigborhoods, it becomes clear that reading is not only for information but a resouceful avenue to keep our internal being healthy, and in some other ways to stay away from trouble by being preoccupied reading a good book.

Let's see here. Too many books have popped up on the shelves this summer and a whole lot seems to be fascinating according to the reviews that I have read. I shall begin with a book I had long expected which eventually surfaced and, the reviews seemingly applauds the author's work, and even though I haven't read it yet, which I would, certainly, and based on the numerous articles posted by the author regarding the troubled, fabricated Nigerian state, I believe the critics for lauding Nigerian-born, British trained and United States-based professor, Max Siollun, on Oil, Plitics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture.

Siollun, whose political commentaries on Nigeria, particularly on the military juntas and a corrupt civilian regime is all over Nigerian-related web sites and other publications, covered the fabrication of a Nigerian state to the civilian and military staged coups. I read Siollun coupled with the reviews on his new book meaning that I haven't read the book yet as I write, and other than having a copy in my study, there's not much that I would learn because the story about Nigeria's internal strife has been told in many different ways. And the book's hardcover prize of $33.95 and two hundred and something pages published by Algora is way high, though good in a sense for its revelations.

Like one reviewer noted, "most people probably do not see the Nzeogwu coup as the second attempt at overthrowing the Balewa government by force. While many followers of Nigerian history may know that Awolowo -- leader of the Action Group, one of the opposition parties in the First Republic -- was jailed for treason in 1964, few are aware that it was not a trumped up charge, and that three decades later, Action Group General Secretary, S.G. Ikokwu, confirmed that there was a genuine AG plot to topple the federal government."

I read Chris Mullin's "Diary" on the toxic mess in British parliament he wrote for the London Review of Books in which he came out unblemished and still has his 30-year-old black and white television. Mullin is a member of the British parliament. Detailed and quite some interesting stuff that reveals the digging by the Telegraph after paying a lump sum to purchase a computer disc which had to do with British Parliament's "unexpurgated expenses." The drama, indeed, makes Nigeria National Assembly look like a child's play.

On divinity and spirituality, there are good summer reads. In Martin Luther King Jr. for Armchair Theologians by Rufus Burrow Jr and illustrated by Ron Hill, "Burrow addresses those who see King as 'only' a social activist by showing how King's studies -- particularly his theological studies -- influenced, shaped, and transformed the activist part he pursued during his public life." And there's With God on All Sides: Leadership in a Devout and Diverse America by Douglas A. Hicks which deals with how American leadership bridges two bodies of knowledge -- "religion and leadership studies" which has been destroyed from complex problems. Here Hicks widens the discussion to include overcoming not only religious differences but also socio-economic, political, and cultural divides, according to D. Michael Lindsay who teaches sociology at Rice University and the author of Faith in the Halls of power: How Evangelicals Joined The American Elite.

And check this out. I remember while growing up, My childhood buddies and I hanged out on the beach and most often at Ruga Park playgrounds talking about the Knicker Bockers and the Yankees. Now there's a book titled Knicker Bocker: The Myth Behind New York by Elizabeth L. Bradley and published by Rutgers University Press. Philip Lopate had this to say about Knicker Bocker: "Those who puzzle at the incessant branding and rebranding of New York City would do well to read this fascinating, sophisticated, and witty social history of a myth."

There's interestingly The Making Of A Tropical Disease: A Short History Of Malaria by Randall M. Packard, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press. There's The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by Peter Leeson published by Princeton University Press. There's Love Lessons: Selected Poems of Alba Merini and translated by Susan Stewart, and here the book talks of Italy's foremost poets already known by Italian readers while English readers are about to discover for the first time.

There's Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity by B. Allan Wallace, published by Columbia University Press, and Father Lawrence Freeman calls it "our best selling mind and consciousness scholar boldly corrects the balance bewtween empirical study and religion. There's Einstein's Generation: The Origins of the Relativity Revolution by Richard Staley published by The University of Chicago Press and Times Higher Education Simon Milton puts it this way: "A magnificent achievement and a work of great scholarship. Staley succeeds brilliantly in providing new ground for understanding how Einstein gradually emerged as the central figure within the German physics community."

There's Hitler, The Germans, and the Final Solution by Ian Kershaw and published by Yale University Press. And there's last but not the least, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt by Hasan Kwame Jefferies and published by New York University Press. Robin D. G. Kelley calls it the "book historians of the black freedom movement have been waiting for."

It's just too many of them books out there to keep you going along with the summer jams. So, people, go out there, sit and relax in any book store, browse some books for highlights and get yourself some good books for the summer read.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Followers and the Following

My readers -- the ones I bump into in the hood, on the streets of Los Angeles and in events -- have complained about the abandonment of my thorough political commentaries and Igbo-related cultural analysis I have been known for, wondering what brought about such a swift change. No. Nothing changed. It's just that I have been caught up in a cross road tweeting and having fun for the moment; and I am quite sure my followers and the ones I follow are watching with keen interest with what is about to resurface in my files. And besides that, there is absolutely politics in every game which means we are all political junkies by tweeting, feeding the world with the goings on, whether it's politics, pub-crawling, hanging out, poking around and stuff like that.

Summer just arrived, and seriously, I'm just having fun and loving every moment of it. But the real deal is social networking these days, and no one could tell how far that's going to last. So far, it seems like kinda trend that will be around for a long, long time to come.

Remember when it took days or weeks, or months, or longer than that to reach a loved one, a family member, a brother, a sister, a cousin or an uncle via the telegram, word of mouth, post office, courier service and other wire-related services? Remember? Not anymore. Things have changed. Technology has made communication much easier and has drawn the world very close. Thanks to the internet age. Just like Twitter made its followers and the following fishers of the "New Dawn" as new ideas pops up with a following.

It is really amazing how each of these social networks operates, and how it becomes addictive at any given time the moment one is hooked. I have tried to stay away from these networks which I did some many years ago, limiting myself to just few, precisely the discussion groups and messageboards I was either the owner or moderator, and which, of course, had to do with news items like NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, BNW News, the print media and other news-related outlets does to keep their listeners, readers and followers informed.

What has erupted in recent times is beyond imagination based on the rate these social networks are growing creating an era seen to be heading a direction seemingly to have placed the entire universe into one bucket, otu uwa, one world.

I keep wondering how these networks pops up uniquely in their own respective rights even though all appear to be the same whether a one-liner as in Twitter, or wordy as in Yahoogroups, Messageboards, Facebook and the rest. Over the past ten years or so, and when the listserve E Group had a bigger audience, a whole lot did change from the way social networking operates on the net.

Think about My Space and what it does with Generation X an K. Or Facebook that is not leaving the web arena anytime soon. Blogged, like the crab-like cancer is doing the same thing as Twitter in the pattern of following and followers. Just like if you follow me I will follow you. Or thanks for the follow and I will follow you which has generated a huge amount of business-related conferences.

Interestingly, these social networks have their own set of rules accompanied by how money is generated to keep these links afloat, meaning every social network in today's economy aggressively pursues its own highly localized interest.

The interests, like in Facebook which has gone local with the advertisers as they encourage Facebookers to indulge in taking advantage of promoting their accounts from around which they subscribe, and as it implies, one might be smiling all the way to the bank, if at all it's not a gimmick and one of those easy money deceptive stuff that has bombarded cyberspace. Web-bloggers and web-designers are equally engaging, too. It works hand-in-hand to a level of convicing, in order to attract readers to your site and the products that you market, and how different patterns of money making opportunities could be achieved through a wide variety of techniques -- tele-conferencing, tele-marketing, social networking, business-related workshops, conventions and things like that.

I, for one, has been in a couple of these "money making" opportunities, and it boils down to getting things done by way of that fast money which is indeed a good thing. It does not work like that. Somebody is playing smart and another one playing dumb, and it all leads to greed. Other than that, social networking is a kind of counseling in many ways. It helps alleviate depressed-anxiety-related problems most faced in today's society. It is a terrific workshop for many things in life including the opportunity door knockers who would try to convince their victims that a bag full of money to the brim would be theirs in a couple of weeks if only they take a simple step. There are other schemes also that encourages the application of doing some little, little stuff for enrollment on the block of new millionaires. It's all about following and whom you follow.

The irony of all these gimmicks and a recession riddled population is that the doers and schemers are all smiling, allegedly to the bank because whatever idea they created to gun down a panicking public due to a never seen before austerity measures, works effectively. And no one is giving away these "ideas" for free, no matter what.

All in all, the Twitter nation is now prospering in the game of social networking with its 140-character post at a time, and tweeting is the name of the game. It has become an institution of its own developing and enhancing its library with vocabularies such as "We Follow" meaning a direction of interesting Twitter accounts; "Trazz-ler Buzz," meaning tracking popular travel destination via Twitter; "Tweets on tees," meaning awesome crowdsourced shirts by Threadless; "Twitterific," a fur mac application for twittering; "Stock Twits," meaning an investment idea and information service, and it goes on and on.

If Time Magazine gave the Twitter guys -- Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey -- a thumbs up why shouldn't we who have found a home where there is love, affection and caring? Talk about Twitter, how about my own creative word Ohuzo and its meaning? It's a "New Dawn," people, and let's keep following and be the fishers of humankind.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's Showbiz All Around

Femi Kuti plays Hollywood Bowl and Central Park, NY, in his summer engagements while on top Herbie Hancock, Pascal Atuma and Sam Onwuka; Ernie Watts, Atuma on presentation of NEA for Best Album and bottom is Gregory Isaacs, Roy Hargrove who plays alongside Hancock for the Hollywood Bowl events and Queen Latifah who hosts BET's My Black is Beautiful Post Show June 28.

I have been working out lately on the Westside and boy, how does it feel to dabble into affluent old folks trying to stay in shape to keep up with their long life and prosperity mission. Sounds good and we all are trying to push it further, now that "life," they say "begins at 60;" and with the summer jams all around town, nobody wants to be confined to a position of not being able to hang on to all that summer blasts which smells all around the place, especially the Hollywood way.

There is no business like showbiz and living around Hollywood, it is a 24/7 thing and nothing one can do about it but just hang on and make the best out of it. It's too much stuff going on in Los Angeles -- the summer concerts, the 4th Annual Los Angeles We The People Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival at the complex of UCLA Westwood Village kicking off on June 18, the Jewish Festival and Israelwood, and the crazy-dubby all night pub-crawling. Yes, Israelwood, you heard me. And there is Kenyawood, Ugandawood and all that wood. It's a whole bunch of woods line-ups and I might be just chilling limiting myself to not that many concerts and other outdoor events.

But the dates on the central courtyard of Hollywood & Highland Center, the home of the Academy Awards -- I would not miss the ones I had highlighted. It's a free live jazz sessions produced by Long Beach State's KJAZZ 88.1 FM. The line-ups are incredible -- Barbara Morrison, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Gonzalo Bergara, Carl Saunders Sextet, Bobby Matos Latin Jazz Ensemble, Ernie Watts Quartet, Karl Benson Trio, Theo Saunders Sextet, Francisco Aquabella Latin Jazz Band and John Daverga Big Band which runs through August 25.

And the Hollywood Bowl jams, I have already picked. Yes, on 6/21, I will be seeing Femi Kuti & The Positive Force alongside Santigold and Raphael Saadiq. Then follows Grace Jones, Herbie Hancock, Toots & The Maytals, Michael Rose, Gregory Isaacs, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Pearbo Bryson, George Duke, Dizzie Gillepsie All Star Big Band, James Moody, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, Natalie Cole with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Beasty Boys to close-up the summer jams on 9/24. You see, I'm old-school and hanging out with me is just fun.

For the LA Film Fest, my schedule is limited, also. I will for sure be seeing "Facing Ali," a documentary portrait of 10 men who stormed the boxing ring to face the greatest, "Black Dynamite," a remake of 70s blaxploitation comedies and maybe "Sacred Places" about tracing a lineage from the West African traditional djembe drum in Ouagadougou.

Well, filmmaker and actor Pascal Atuma had called during the week telling me it was all jamming and brothers made some noise inside Cramton Auditorium of Howard University in Washington, DC, last week when the Nigerian Entertainment Awards had its gala night with presentation of awards. Atuma presented an award for the best album of the year which went to D'Banj. Seriously, I'm not familiar with Naija hip-hoppers as every name he mentioned sounded Greek to my ears. That's right, I'm old-school.

Elsewhere, the queen of hip-hop, Queen Latifah who said she was sexually abused as a child will be hosting the BET Awards 2009 My Black is Beautiful Post Show in Los Angeles on June 28. According to BET press release, "My Black is Beautiful celebrates the diverse collective beauty of African American women and encourages black women to define and promote their own beauty standard. The campaign brings to life an authentic reflection of African-American women's beauty by embracing Quen Latifah as the host of the My Black is Beautiful Post Show. The special will capture and recap the atmosphere, style and sexy of the night's festivities."

Whew! It's going to jam and for sure no business like showbiz.

Pascal Atuma and Nollywood film producer Sam Onwuka images courtesy of Trendy Africa

Friday, June 12, 2009

This One For My Lakers

What a game!

It's vibrating in East Los Angeles.

It's the talk all around town.

Los Angeles is burning, man!

What a game!

Cars are being rolled over on the streets

In East Los Angeles

Oh, my Lakers, what a game!

Why is Los Angeles burning?

Lakers won!

"Did they?"

It was too loud and the entire city was locked in when I walked in to Dynasty Restaurant and Lounge in Inglewood, to watch the Lakers show some skills in the company of 1984 Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medalist Henry Tillman and my partner in crime Basil Nwonwu. Tillman with casts on his knees from surgery wants the Lakers to "kill em all mutchafuckers... and bring back the game to LA." I wasn't really paying attention to the game on many grounds. My blood pressure had gone up and it's Lakers fault. The headache pops up too and the city is burning, and it's Lakers fault. The two previous games had changed the mood of Lakers fans in Los Angeles, in Hollywood, in East Los Angeles, on the Westside and all over the place.

And the game is on.

Well, Lakers had been behind on a 12-point deficit by the time they checked in to the locker room at half-time. The pub had been quiet and Lakers seems to be "evening" the game at a terrible cost. But no, that was not going to happen. There was another kid in town to save us from our sorrows. His name is Trevor Ariza. He's the man. He got it straight. I still dunno.

What a game!

We've seen magic, the real magic.

And the game was tied by regulation time.

And there was another magic.

Who else?

None other than my man

Derek Fisher

An amazing shot


A victory


It's all over

Is it?

[Photo courtesy of Wali Skalij/Los Angeles Times]

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Gist Around Da Hood

The magnificent Ivorian Didier Drogba celebrates in style after scoring that amazing first goal beating Everton 2-1 in the season finale of Road to Wembley. He will be negotiating a new paycheck to effect his contract extension with Chelsea. A three year contract and bonuses draws him closer to Europe's highest earning players and sits on the elite role of African football players.

Staples Center, 1111 Figuroa Street, Los Angeles, California 90015
Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will be the first Latino, according to some sources, to be on the Supreme Court. Her parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York. A feminine radical in the 70s and had always defended the underdog but her critics say that's not enough to be confirmed though the overwhelming Democratic majority in Congress is in her favor.

In this world there's much confusion.

And I've tasted the city life and it's not for me

Now I do dream of distant places

Where I do not know but is destiny

If it's the rich life I don't want it

Happiness ain't always material things

I want destiny ...

Neverland Ranch was a rich life. Oh, by the way, the king of pop is about to rise like a phoenix. I have followed this legendary performer all my life and I do think I have every of his recorded album throughout the many phases of his career -- Jackson Five, The Jacksons and the solo acts -- and my favorite tune of all time, Destiny, besides the jams, Shake Your Body Down To The Ground, Thriller, Off The Wall, Enjoy Yourself, ABC, The Girl Is Mine and many other stimulating tracks.

The gist now is billionaire Tom Barrack and AEG Live owner Philip Anshutz are coming to the king of pop's rescue. They want a rebirth of the Thriller years and from media sources, Michael will be heading to the studios soon because his backers -- Barrack and Anshutz have confidence in him and had envisioned a thoroughly remade Michael when the entire deal is struck which would include a three year world tour, series of singles coupled with packages of a museum, casino and movies. Barrack who said Michael could make $500 million a year once he puts his mind into it acknowledged Michael 'is' one of very few artists who could reach that mark in showbizness and at any given time.

But Michael is not done. His 50 concert series at the O2 Arena in London kicks off July 13 and tickets are already sold out. One other thing, though is can Michael do fifty gigs without getting exhausted? We'll see how it plays out starting July 13. Michael in his own words regarding the 50 shows in London: "Thank you for your love and support, I want you guys to know I love you very much," ... "I don't know how I'm going to do 50 shows. I'm not a big eater - I need to put some weight on"

Also, around the block, came some political talks about President Barrack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, whom I haven't followed until she was nominated by Obama, last week. And now following her like a tweeter, I know she was one of 70s feminine radicals on campus at Princeton University. She did not like the way Princeton was run and had always defended the underdog. From Princeton to Yale, and as a prosecutor in New York to corporate lawyer and serving on the federal bench for seventeen years, methink the new Democratic controlled congress should let her walk in without much ado so she could start punching the badass Clarence Thomas in his face, and his "high-tech lynching of an uppity black man."

And if confirmed which I expect she would be, overwhelmingly, making her the second Latino on the Supreme Court, although the political blogosphere on Sotomayor's side claims she'd be the first Latina on the Supreme Court, if confirmed, which would nullify the claim from other circles of Justice Benjamin Cardozo whose parents were of Portuguese descent, in the 30s, as first Latino on the Supreme Court. Enough.

Down the street in da hood, talks are popping up on soccer. Obviously, the soccer moms have taken it to a whole new heights which is quite engaging with kids. We called it football until the Yankee's crazy sports began to blow up our minds. I mean, too many in the mix and soccer got to be. The world's most watched sport and we won't erase soccer and permanently keep its original logo? Come on, now, there's tennis not lawn tennis; there's basketball not netball; there's ping pong not table tennis; there's baseball, not cricket and there's football not rugby, whatever that is.

So as it happened, the English FA Cup gathered storm. Ivorian and Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba and his colleagues lifted the FA Cup amid 85,400 and something soccer freaks in Wembley Stadium beating Everton 2-1 which ended the season's crazy-dubby Road to Wembley. Drogba's contract has been extended to another three years and expect the field dynamo's pocket to surpass the 80,000 British Pounds Sterling a week paycheck.

The World Cup is fast approaching and all that Brazillian influence is still hanging on. The quality of play, pattern of play, dribbling style, the celebration, jubilation and the samba has entirely nothing to do with what is going on at USC. Am I perturbed by all the scandals that is now hitting the sports program walls of Pete Carroll saying he knew nothing about Houses and gifts given to the parents of Reggie Bush, the running back for the New Orleans Saints? Nope! There's always something and that's just the way it is. As Bush' investigation continues, popped up another accusation. This time on Tim Floyd, the school's basketball coach, on payments made to O.J. Mayo's associates. And now that NCAA has cut in, we probably would get to know about all the scandals of gifts and cash exchanging hands by the time it's through with its own independent investigation.

In my little political alley, the behind closed doors pundits at Yahooligans, the talk now is why would Obama make Ghana his second point of call and not the sleeping giant, Nigeria. Citing Obama as a second generation immigrant who had adopted Abraham Lincoln's style of approach and politics, and bringing about a "New Dawn" of the internet age in "change has come to America" platform, the economy is still biting and the "Stimulus Package" hasn't been able to subdue the Bush-Cheney made meanspirited economy yet, in my own assessment because the people, I mean, the American people are still talking and complaining.

Well, it's showtime on Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles where Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers sits comfortably with Hotel Figueroa, Nokia Center and the Convention Center as neigbors. Tonight, the Lakers will be tested by the hungry Orlando Magic in Game 1 of 2-3-2 series. "All road leads to downtown and it's Lakers all the way," says one Lakers accessories hawker. "We gonna get them, baby!"

I know I have gunned for Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus when they whooped Lebron James and his Cavaliers. I have already neutralized the firepower of the magic, and hey, this is my hood and my Lakers ain't taking that for granted. It is Lakers all the way and with all the pubs full to the brim, hell will surely get loose if...

We want destiny!

Adios and enjoy the finals.