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GiVE iT uP: Robin Williams

To me, he will always be Mork from Ork . . . RIP Robin.

Robin Williams as Mork from Ork from the hit TV show Mork & Mindy.

Robin Williams as Mork from Ork from the hit TV show Mork & Mindy.

Give It Up: KIM’s VIDEO closing soon

Kim's Video

Kim’s Video on 1st Avenue

When I moved into the East Village in 1996, Kim’s Video was located on Avenue A. Soon afterwards, they moved to First Avenue where they have been ever since. Along with Tower Records, this video store always served as a refuge for me whether I was killing time or wanted to flirt with someone in my favorite section.

Record stores always cheered me up. There is something missing to me from buying music online versus being able to walk into a record store and browse before making a purchase. When Tower Records and the Virgin Megastore first closed, I really felt the impact. And now, Kim’s Video is following suit. Sad, but true.

Peanuts

The Cuba of Yesteryear

This is the Cuba my Mother remembers as a little girl.  People that vacation in Cuba can make pretend all they want, but this is what they are really missing out on. Among a myriad of other things, my Mother remembers yacht races and food that was made freshly available on a daily basis. Not to mention, the Copacabana and Tropicana nightclubs catered to both tourists, as well as the Cuban community.

An American white successful female real estate agent (in her 60s at the time) that I worked with would tell me stories about how she would hop on a cruise to Cuba on the weekends. She called it a “weekend getaway.”  And, her stories always backed up the wonderful things I would hear my family say about their country, now just trapped in time.

Where did this Cuba go?

Varadero

Varadero Beach Paradise

Havana-American Jockey Club

Charles White: Black Realism in Art

Two Brothers Have I Had On Earth

Two Brothers Have I Had On Earth

Realism in art can communicate messages so powerfully because it easily enables viewers to connect with images and subject matter on an emotional and human level.  For this reason, African American artist Charles White (1918-1979) purposely chose not to follow the post World War II art movement of Abstract Expressionism which became big business for many.

Awaken from the Unknowing

Awaken from the Unknowing

The power behind Whites’ message in his artwork lies in creating large-scale portraits aimed at overcoming racial prejudice and ignorance.  Furthermore, White wanted to give Black people a sense of self-worth, honor, and courage.  Consequently, White produced portraits of ordinary Black people on a heroic scale while also incorporating elements of spirituality.

Harvest Talk

Harvest Talk

As a child growing up in Chicago, students from the Art Institute encouraged the young artist.  White observed them at work and finished his first painting of a landscape using a window blind from home as a canvas. Although this initially upset his mother, she kept the painting until her death.

White participated in the Works Projects Administration program launched in 1939 under FDR’s New Deal.

Augusta Savage: Down and In with Sculpture

A promising African American sculpture artist, Augusta Savage (1892-1962), was realizing her artistry during a time in American history when it was made it difficult for Black artists to be recognized for their talent. This meant that learning how to deal with the racial politics of her time was critical. The timing was off in this regard, and this propelled Savage to work much harder than the average White artist.

Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage

Savage fiercely fought red tape for Blacks within the WPA, a New Deal agency that employed people during the Great Depression. The WPA helped her establish the Harlem Community Art Center. Savage was also vocal in the press and published her sentiment in the New York World after being rejected in 1923 for being Black by a four-year sculpting program in France. Eventually, she was accepted into the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and was able to attend because of donations and contributions that she generated nationwide.

With sculptures such as Gamin (1929) and Life Every Voice and Sing a.k.a. The Harp (1939), it is clear that Savage was down for her race. She would persuade African American children who would stand outside one of her Harlem studios to come inside. She once said: “Because they ought to know there are [B]lack artists.” It is admirable that she never attempted to find success in downtown Manhattan.

Not only was Savage down with her race, but the race was down with her.  And, she may very easily be the most talented Black sculptor the world has ever seen.

Gamin (1929) by Augusta Savage.

Gamin (1929) by Augusta Savage.

Life Every Voice and Sing (1939) by Augusta Savage.

Life Every Voice and Sing (1939) by Augusta Savage.

Queen Quinn

Quinn supporters marching.

Quinn supporters marching.

The support surrounding openly gay, New York City mayor hopeful Christine Quinn was unprecedented at this year’s gay pride parade.  I came across her campaign supporters congregating on West 39th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues when originally meeting a friend who was marching with another organization.  My friend never showed.

While some news reports blame Quinn for the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital in the West Village, others focus on the fact that the hospital was $1 billion in debt and had filed for bankruptcy.  Additionally, the hospital kept losing millions of dollars every month it stayed open.  If we had universal health care, this may not even be an issue.

Christine Quinn and I posing for a quick pic.

Christine Quinn and I posing for a quick pic.

I decided to march with Quinn’s group because she is openly gay and, as Mayor of New York City, she will address issues that directly affect me.  I respect her for that.  Let me be clear:  I do not support the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital, but that was coming down the pike, no matter who was in office.

There are my two cents.  And yes, I support Quinn.

Rainbow Pride Flag.

Rainbow Pride Flag.

The Lincolns Live

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln.

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln.

Being of a different century altogether, the most interesting thing about the film Lincoln is how our government held session 150 years ago in a nation divided over the Thirteenth Amendment.

Lincoln is not action-driven or a film about war. Instead, the film is dialogue heavy, yet amazing. With players like Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field, the film is worth watching alone. You can’t fuck with Norma Rae, and we all know Steven Spielberg is great.

The film captures a funny president who reasons his way through his actions. And as we all know, Lincoln changed our country forever. This character would be a challenge for any actor to play.

According to an article in IndieWire.com, Spielberg spent years convincing Day-Lewis to play Lincoln. But once onboard, he immersed himself in the character and would text Sally Field as if he were Lincoln for real. In an interview with LATimes.com, they met in character, Field said. This definitely comes through in their performances.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln is spot-on, like Jamie Foxx in Rae. And, that is strange to think being that we can only make assumptions about Lincoln’s personality and character based on what is written. DDL is worthy of both a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

Good luck, Daniel! On a side note, I hope Sally Field wins for Best Supporting Actress, as well.

Sally Field plays Mary Todd Lincoln.

Sally Field plays Mary Todd Lincoln.

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