It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I write this post. In the last hour I learned that David Mills aka “Undercover Black Man” died yesterday in New Orleans from a brain aneurysm. He was working on set for the HBO series “Treme.” Eclectique|916 featured an interview with David last summer.
I shake as I write this. David Mills and I had a lot of family history. Our parents knew each other; we were related by community (DC), history, and family relationships if not totally by blood. So that’s my full disclosure as to why Eclectique|916 dug him. You stand by your family. Plus he was a talented writer and provocateur in his own way through his blog Undercover Black Man. His last post was March 29th. It was about “Treme.” I’m guessing he was very proud of the work.
I can’t say any more right now. I will miss him very much.
The Washington Post’s Peeps Show/Contest has become one of my favorite spring traditions. And this year is no exception in terms of creativity and talent. I never thought Peeps were food in the first place. Always left them in my Easter basket. My favorites were the chocolate anything and the colored eggs. This year the winning Peeps diorama went to an Arlington pair (girlfriend and boyfriend) for their rendition of the 2009 animated film “Up.” Check out the full story on the Washington Post.com.
My “Copyright Criminals” screening community partners The Future of Music Coalition and Words Beats & Life Inc. have teamed up to present “If I Ruled the Blogesphere” Saturday, April 3 from 4 to 7 PM at Busboys and Poets (2021 14th Street, NW). The event will feature prominent hip-hop bloggers in a dynamic conversation about how artists are gaining traction online, the impact of technology on music promotion and how bloggers and artists can raise awareness about important issues in the hip-hop community and beyond. It’s free for WBL Cipher members; $10 for non-members. Register or get more information here.
And the “Copyright Criminals” documentary now has a “Classroom” version available for FREE from ITVS. Check it out here. TREME premieres on HBO April 11th
Unfortunately, I don’t have HBO. I’m not crying about most of the other offerings on cable. But I’ll have to be patient, or depend on the kindness of Undercover Black Man and his colleagues on the team for the new David Simon series “Treme” which premieres in April. Great write up in The New York Times Magazine March 21st. I cringe thinking HBO programming executives had to be sold on Mardi Gras Indians with the woo-woo-woo thing. (sigh!) But buzz is generating. “Treme” is a new drama set three months after Katrina in a community just outside New Orleans proper, primarily populated by musicians.
Next FOOD & FOLKLORE – April 19 at Eatonville Restaurant – “Sophisticated Ladies and Food of the Harlem Renaissance”
I believe I’m introducing A’Lelia Bundles Monday, April 19th at 6:30 PM for Food and Folklore at Eatonville Restaurant (2121 14th Street, NW). A’Lelia is the great-great grand daughter of the pioneering hair care entrepreneur and African American millionaire Madame C.J. Walker; and the great grand daughter and namesake of A’Lelia Walker, a socialite, hostess and “It Girl” of the Harlem Renaissance. (Zora Neale Hurston was one of A’Lelia Walker’s artistic guests and admirers.)
The theme for the Food and Folklore event is food and parties of the Renaissance and a nod to the Arena Stage production of “Sophisticated Ladies” starring and choreographed by Maurice Hines opening April 9 (two tickets will be given away as a doorprize). The cost is $45 (plus tax and gratuity). The price includes a prix fixe 4 course “rent party” menu served “family style” and thematic drink specials. Reservations required. Call 202-332-6432 or email foodandfolklore[at]eatonvillerestaurant.com for more information. Don’t you just love the graphic by Michael Chan?
If there’s anyone who personifies the “eclectique citizen,” it’s Ruben Blades. Yesterday, my friend Dawn and I arrived 3 hours before he was to give a public interview covering his life as an artist, citizen, and just plain old human being at the Carmichael Auditorium in the National Museum of American History and Culture. The program was presented by the Smithsonian’s Latino Center as part of its special focus on Panama.
Sure the 3 hour arrival may have been a bit excessive, but Ruben Blades (English pronunciation because it’s his English grand father’s name) is one of the very few artists I will go out of my way for. I’ve stood 5 1/2 hours outside and inside the 9:30 Club for his concert. A Ruben Blades concert is something one should experience at least twice in a lifetime if possible.
For those who don’t know much about him, though Panamanian by birth, he made a huge splash on the Borican salsa scene in the 1970s as a singer and composer under the Fania label – the gold standard for Salsa. Why the White House didn’t present any fabulous Fania artists in its salute to Latin Music last October puzzles me to this day. But then Emilio Estefan (of Miami) was asked to “curate” that event by the social secretary’s office; and being the business man, Estefan more than likely had an opportunity to stack the deck with Sony label artists under his charge. I guess there are no hard core salsa or Latin music fans up in the “people’s house” who would’ve insisted on at least one Fania all star. [Note: Ruben Blades is on the Sony label.]
Ruben Blades’ music reflects “the life” (read it’s joys and perils, triumphs and injustices). Ruben doesn’t set limitations on himself. Something encouraged by his grandmother back in Panama. He’s run for president in Panama, served as Minister of Tourism, has appeared in Hollywood films as an actor (not himself), has a law degree from Harvard, and is now about to pursue a Ph.D. at Columbia University in Sociology to work on “fixing the system” as a citizen. Ruben said he enjoyed working in government, but the bureaucracy is set up to “benefit corruption and mediocrity.”
I didn’t get a photo with Mr. Blades. As tradition serves, fans (many from Panama and all ages) stormed the stage and the two lines for autographs and photos were merging. Even a new born had its moment when he or she was plopped into his hands. But the 3 hour wait did have its benefits. Ruben has always struck me as a people person. During a concert, you’ll see Ruben signing autographs, snapping pictures while the band is smoking on stage behind them, and then gracefully he’ll go back up to the mic and hit his mark right on cue without missing a beat. Ruben gave all of his steadfast admirers a firm handshake on his way inside the Carmichael Auditorium for the sound check. It was not the polite or passing by handshake for the fans, but like a real person. I’ve gotten a lot of information about a person based on a handshake, the eye contact, the body language. Which is why I went out of my way to go to Denver for this guy….
The President gives us the week in review in his weekly address. A very big f**king deal of a week. And to top it all off he made 15 recess appointments held up in the Senate for months.
All my life, I lived or was schooled by the adages “The show must go on.” “One monkey don’t stop no show.”
What happened with Terrence McNally’s “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” at Roundabout Theater in NYC?? – Actress Megan Mullally quits before the April 9 preview performances and the show’s cancelled. Help me Ethel Merman! Or Nike Finke. Mike Fleming holds up Deadline New York
Mullally gave notice on Monday after some tense rehearsals, and while some sources cited tensions with director Joe Mantello, others yesterday said the exit came after Mullally tried to get Oswalt replaced and left after being told no. Yesterday, McNally and Roundabout Theatre expressed hope the would be able to recast and be ready for an April 29 opening night at the American Airlines Theatre, they knew that would be a tall order and decided instead to close down the show.
No Eve Harrington lurking in the wings?
I suppose we still have “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
And I’ve also learned recently there’s no mail delivery when it snows.