Monday, December 3, 2012

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Listening to Caucasian Girls

If you and I are friends on Facebook--or you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest madness from Inside Caucraysia, like I do--then you may have heard of or read the article "A Match Made in Harlem: A White Girl Reports from NYC's Legendary Neighborhood" on hiremegrantland.com.

If you haven't seen it--or, more likely, haven't been able to see it, as the page has been taken down--let me go ahead and paste portions of it here. Note: The quotes don't appear out of order, nor have they been edited. Because I know this has been all over the interwebs, I'd like to focus my attention on the apology from the editor of hiremegrantland.com. But first, highlights from CauCRAYsian Ivy Jacobson's article.

She writes that her uncle, who has lived in NYC for over 30 years, ripper her "about 50 new assholes" when he discovered she was moving to Harlem. But, you know, he did some reconnaissance and,

"After he assured my dad the neighborhood wasn’t completely terrible, but also pointing out the staircase in my building looked JUST like the one in a crack-den apartment in Serpico, he made me get mace (which I still carry) and named himself Deputy Commissioner of Ivy’s Security."

"If I feel safe in Harlem, what is the lingering stigma about Harlem that makes people scared for me?
First, frankly, it’s because I’m not a big, black thug."
[Note: this is the first of many references to "big black thugs" that appear in this article.]

"Do I feel safe? I never haven’t."
[Well this is just shitty grammar, most likely the result of some attempt to be witty.] 

"My roommate is muscular and black, so when we walk down the street together, people assume we’re just another hip, racially mixed couple to not mess with (we’re not, he’s gay). I like to pretend we’re Lady Gaga and Usher taking a stroll, just living our lives."

[Of course, the problems with these two sentences are worth a whole post in itself, but aside from the most obvious (Lady Gaga and Usher??? Are those the two most famous people you can think of, after referencing the 10-year-old television show Sex and the City and the music of Jay-Z?) I'd like to take a moment to address her black gay roommate. How has he not slapped this chick upside the head and set her straight? He is complicit in fostering her racism and ignorance.]

My favorite part:

"As opposed to many other Manhattan neighborhoods, there are no women on macrobiotic diets dictating to nannies on the sidewalks. On the contrary, women in my neighborhood let their husbands have it in the middle of the street, often wearing tropical-colored get-ups."

TROPICAL-COLORED GET-UPS.
ARE. YOU. SHITTING ME? 
That language is straight out of a National Geographic. Not even Richard Attenborough would stoop so low when narrating a documentary about the rainforest, and he's all about the sensationalism (Hello, Planet Earth was straight-up tawdry!). 

The fact is, she means it--she's earnest in her love of her neighborhood. Ivy Jacobson is misguided and lacks self-awareness, which almost makes her sad. It's like she really doesn't know any better. She uses objectifying language from start to finish, relying heavily on stereotype and pop-culture references to situate herself and the reader within this "crazy world!" of Harlem.  She also spends much of the piece commenting on how people are so surprised that she lives in Harlem but doesn't actually get into substantive reasons for such assumptions.

Also, it's 2012 and gentrification is the new frappucino--Ivy, you ain't special!

So with that in mind, I find the Grantland editor-in-chief's "apology" to be even more disconcerting.

"The article in question was taken down for several reasons. Once frightening comments were made on this site — which are moderated for coherence, spam and profanity regardless of the article – and on Twitter, we reached a state of emergency.

HMGL — and I personally — apologize as sincerely as I humanly can to those who were hurt by this or any piece.

I also apologize deeply and profoundly to the story’s author for putting her in a compromising position.

For the record, no one receives any money off this site save for our host, GoDaddy, and WordPress, who I pay out of pocket.

Today has been a very trying day for this website, usually a source of joy to those who work on it and read it. I am quite literally sick to my stomach for any distress caused.

Again, please accept my sincere apologies.

You may contact me, a humble and imperfect editor of this site, via email: Matt@hiremegrantland.com."

Before going into the implications of this apology, I'd like to note that this editor is the very same Matt mentioned in the opening of Ivy's personal essay.
"Matt asked me to explain what it's like to live in Harlem. 'What's a nice girl like you doing in a neighborhood like that?' he wondered."

He also linked to the piece in one of his previous posts with the "sensational" tagline: Want to know what it's like for a white girl to live in Harlem? [with a hyperlink to the article that  now cannot be found.]

So, before reading the "humble and imperfect editor's" apology, it's important to keep in mind that both he and Ivy (who I don't think could be put in a "compromising position," seeing as she eagerly wrote and sought publication for her piece) find the idea of her living in Harlem to be out of the ordinary and worthy of further exploration. In Matt's mind, Harlem is not for sweet girls from Tampa, but for poor immigrants who fight in the streets and are so thankful for each gentrifier's presence in their lawless neighborhoods. He fumbles for the words to express his discomfort, not exactly addressing what in the piece may have incited such ire (or, as he puts it, "a state of emergency." Um, if nasty comments are a cause for FEMA-like tactics, perhaps he's in the wrong line of work).

It seems that he's primarily sorry that people got so mad that they said things that hurt Ivy's feelings.

I don't think hiding the article as though it never happened--and then removing comments that called out the many layers of offensiveness--is a professional or mature means of handling it.

When I posted the piece on my FB wall, I got over 60 comments--you'd have thought I just got engaged (but I'd just gotten ENRAGED!). This isn't my way of saying I'm popular or whatever. I use it as an example of how much conversation and emotion this article sparked. I'm having dinner with a friend tonight, and when we firmed up our plans via email she wrote:

Also, I'm looking forward to talking about that horrifying "White Girl in Harlem" piece you posted to fb. My wife and I talked about it for over an hour on Friday. We seriously could not get over it. The discussion that followed on your facebook wall is what facebook was made for :).

For reals! We can't just shake our heads and move on. Ivy Jacobson may have been the writer, but she didn't invent these beliefs--and she didn't decide to publish them on a website. We need to put out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

17 Again

Just like Matthew Perry!*



As those of you who read regularly may recall, I am a mentor for a young, gifted, and a black high-school student at my alma mater. I started last year, and even though she and I hadn't spoken in, like 6 months, I think our bond is strong and relentless, like James. Last night was the mentor-mentee meeting, which was way later this year because of Hurricane Sandy. Seeing as it's practically December, I missed the chance to talk to her about college choices, but we met up before the meeting to catch up on life. 


And I discovered that I'm basically still a teenager. I walked into the school and felt like I'd stepped into a bizarro world--everything looked the same but also didn't, you know? All high-tech, with the student and faculty key cards and flatscreen TV announcing the day's events and lunch! But I did instantly feel poor and chubby, and I think I suffered a quick bout of anorexia when I first crossed the threshold, so it was sorta like old times. Before my mentee arrived, I did run into a former classmate who was now working there as an art teacher. In the first of what would be 5 catch-up conversations with classmates, I realized that I've pretty much blocked middle school/high school out with the permanence of a Vietnam vet. But what makes it weird is that I was very active in school and well-liked, so when I see alums, they don't really get why I'm not particularly interested in reminiscing. 


It's also cause they're almost all lawyers or work in finance. They live the kind of lives one would expect after attending one of the best schools in the country, and then some of the best colleges in the country. 


I work at a magazine. It's about art. 


But what felt most uncomfortable was that I was the only adult at the dinner who was dressed like the students. I felt the self-consciousness that plagued me in the 90s (and was briefly mollified by Lisa Loeb and Ani Difranco), and wondered if I deserved to be there. As I approach 30 (in a year and a week, but still) and assume the role of "mentor" in a young woman's life, I think I should probably have sensible eating habits, money for dreams, and.... my shit together, right? Alas, no. 


When we got to the location of the dinner, one of the admins introduced me to senior boy who was applying to colleges. 


"Do you have any advice for him?" She asked expectantly, as he stood next her awkwardly tall. 


Without really thinking, I said, "Don't fuck it up."

#ifit'sgoodenoughforadragqueenit'sgoodenoughforastraightteen


I mean, what else is there--lord knows I don't have the answers!


But really, it was a nice evening. I got to talk to friends I hadn't seen since graduating, and we all marveled at the changes in the school. (They have Women of Color and Men of Color clubs now! And Asian Cultural Society! And LGBTQ club! And Ujamaa! Y'all, back in my day the only "women of color" club we had was the cheerleading squad, the members of which were all black, plus one white girl who had rhythm!) My mentee also told me about a trip she took to Europe in the spring, and it was kinda heartwarming and magical to hear a young blacktress squeal with excitement over the first realization that she was beautiful. I don't know how many of you have traveled while brown inside Caucasia, but there really is nothing like the boost you get when you're a young traveler in a land where everyone's down with the brown. I'm glad she found out when she was young, so she can go to college with confidence and not settle for less! My high-school themed evening continued into this morning, when I went to the dentist to get fitted for a new retainer--or I guess, to be specific, it's a night guard. 


Because, you know, I'm winning. 


I must say, though, I love having a mentee--aka a constant reminder of how far I've come. Plus, she gets all of my jokes, which is pretty great. But does that mean I'm really immature or just a crossover sensation?




*Speaking of Perry--talk about a comeback kid, am I right? His show Go On is nailing it!!!! I think what I love most is that the lead blacktor from Everybody Hates Chris is a series regular. He's on his way to being the black Neil Patrick Harris.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese


I really think so. Because they have an island on which cats roam free!!!


I want to go to there.


But honestly, I'm not sure what I love more: The precious cat pics or the fact that this was brought to my attention by Jewboo, who sent an email titled, simply, "OMG." #howyouknowyoufoundtheone


Of course, my penchant for anthropomorphizing animals makes each of these pics so rich with meaning. 


Yes, I created captions. 

You're welcome.



Clearly these two are on some sort of quest, probably to buy kitten-sized beers without an ID. I imagine the one in front is Michael Cera and the one struggling to catch up is Christopher Mintz-Plasse



A MOTHER'S LOVE IS SO TENDER!!!!!!




I have a feeling these two sleepy heads aren't even hers, but she's one of those cool neighbors who ends up taking care of all the kids on the block because she could never have any of her own. 



"Are you my mommy?"



Okay, these three are clearly the bad-asses of the island. I bet they have some cool name, 
like "The ME-YOWZAS!"



Just go ahead and make this your desktop background--you are powerless against this cuteness. 



If this just gave you a reason to hold on, Wilson Phillips style, there are 44 more photos on BuzzFeed! Like Tom Haverford says--TREAT YO'SELF!




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am Ashlee Simpson. Or Voldemort--whichever you prefer.

Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and set up a tumblr account! I'd been putting it off forevs, especially since it would have meant transferring every single Blacktress post onto the new account. Even though Blogger is the new Geocities, I can't bear to let go of this safe space, and will be using Tumblr basically as a networking tool, since all the cool comics are in on it. Blacktresscomedy.tumblr.com will be where I post pics, vids, and links (and use words like 'pics' and 'vids') that move my spirit (to LOL or vom!).

I must say, Tumblr's weird. It's basically a newsfeed for people who want to read just a bit more than 140 characters. I feel like its tagline should be, "Tumblr: For when Twitter just isn't enough."

It's certainly not fit for extended musings and self-indulgent ramblings (save that ish for Wordpress--am I right?!), but that's fine because I've got enough going on--this "internet upkeep" is so much work! (#firstworldproblems)

Between the blog, the twitter, and now the tumblr (not to mention my "job" and "human interactions"), I'm being pulled in so many directions. I was just sharing the tumblr news with a friend and she was worried that I'd stop sharing TMI on the blog. It was then that I explained--and realized--a deep truth about myself: This blog is my horcrux. A part of my soul is in these webpages (mostly the slutty, awkward part, but still). Tumblr will be just one more location you'll be able to find the pieces, pieces, pieces of me.*

I mostly want to use it to create photo albums but since Tumblr is structured like a newsfeed, I'm not sure how it'll work.  I'll have to figure out how to use the system to showcase my favorite photos of middle-aged men holding animals against their will and disapproving transracial adoptees in the arms of their Caucasian parents. 


But don't worry--if there's anything I can figure out, it's how to work a Caucasian system!  Hope you will follow me or friend me or just generally F me.



*that's how you call back to a title, people!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New York, I Love Hate You

I am so over this damn city.

I got on the train this morning and, honestly, there was nothing particularly special about today's rush-hour madness. I spent 30 minutes clutching my purse to make room, apologizing for my every movement and occasionally my own weary sighs, and trying to move in ways that would let the dude behind me know that we shouldn't be touching butts--you know, the usual. But I just hit a wall of Danny Glover-ness (I'm too old for this shit!) combined with Samuel L. Jackson fed-up-edness (I'm sick and tired of these muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!!!) that I can't get through.

Listen, I know it's "the greatest city on earth," and I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in another city in America, but we're selling ourselves short, people! And the worst part is that these low standards are acceptable. Living in New York City and taking public transportation, I smell human excrement on a daily basis--sometimes several times a day--and this is commonplace. WTF??! This ain't Calcutta! This sure as hell ain't 14th-century England during the bubonic plague--why is there excrement in the streets?! We're worth more!

This started getting to me when I was walking to the subway and saw this homeless guy. He's tall and skinny and looks about 70 years old (thought he's probably 40) and he's balding with basically two long matted dreadlocks. When I saw him on the platform, my first thought was, "Aw, shit, this guy again. I better get a damn seat so he doesn't touch my shoulder and call me 'beautiful miss.'" Y'all, this man is not violent or loud, but he is relentless. But the point is: Why do I have a history with a hobo??? I am not, nor have I ever been, impoverished (praise black Jesus). I have never dated a hobo or performed at a hobo benefit. And yet I see this person and can immediately recall his life story and personality quirks as though he were an old school chum. I'm not okay with this! Of course, the fact that I'm annoyed by him just gets me one rung closer to hell, and I'm not proud of it, but this is how NYC gets you. You get inoculated to pain, y'all.

Yesterday after work I was getting into the train at 28th street and I saw two men on the steps, standing a few feet apart from each other. Black guy was standing further down, White guy was standing toward the top (I'm ID'ing them by race to make it easier to describe, don't worry!). On the other side, a guy was trying to exit, so I waited for the clog to clear. The guy came through but the other two men didn't move. The Black guy waved the white guy down and told him to come closer. I'm thinking these two are going to walk down so I start going down but they stop about 4 steps up from the subway platform. The Black guy reaches into his sock and pulls out a baggie. The white guy peels off some bills and hands him cash. I interrupt this exchange with, "Excuse me, um, can I get through? thank you."
Y'all, I walked through a drug deal!! LIKE I'M JUST STRAIGHT OUT OF A SPIKE LEE JOINT AND DON'T GIVE A F#?!%

I didn't realize this until a minute after I swiped my Metrocard--and that's what really got me. Growing up in pre-gentrified Harlem as the child of a mother who worked in family and criminal court, I am anything but cavalier, and I know that killers are around every corner (oh yeah, I'm a drama queen who grew up on Lifetime movies). I never thought I'd see the day I'd burst through an interracial illegal drug trade. That guy could have pulled anything out of his sock (like a weapon!) and I woulda been up in the crossfire! I need to go back to Australia so I can get my head back on straight and appreciate this place. Who's with me?

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to go from a "Maybe" to a "Hell to the No"

Just when I think these artists can't get to me, an email comes in that amazes me to no end. 

We got a submission from a woman a while back and unfortunately can't do much with her work, so we sent a perfectly succinct rejection letter that read:

Dear [Cray Lady],

Thank you for submitting your artwork to our magazine. We don’t currently have an opening to feature your artwork. But the drawings are most impressive, and if the appropriate occasion arises, we will be in touch.

Sincerely,

[A respectful and competent adult who serves as the editor of this magazine.]


Maybe that was a bit impersonal, but we don't have all day to be buttering up egos. 
Apparently, we're also mentally ill. Her response:

Look at my web site I am included in every major museum collection in the country  you do not think you can do an article ?   What are you thinking [Cray Lady]. Connection

Sent from my iPhone


I have no idea what "connection" means. I also don't think that you can be that bitchy when you seem to lack a grasp of basic punctuation and grammar. I swear, they are TOO MUCH. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I have EXHALED!

Whew child! You know these last couple weeks have been straight out of the Mayans Guide to the End of the World (now in paperback). With Hurricane Sandy and the election, I didn't know if it was okay to keep breathing, let alone have dreams! Luckily, I can now write to you with the comfort that comes from knowing that our president is not Mitt Romney and our VP is not Paul Ryan--and that my vagina is still a safe space!

Look, I'm not someone who believes Obama is a god (although I do wish he could be my dad and Joe Biden be my baby daddy!). But I am almost 100% sure that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are minions of Satan, so I'm happy with how things went down. For me personally, as an able-bodied, heterosexual, college-educated female in NYC, I'm somewhat sure that if the Republicans had gotten their way, I would have been inconvenienced, but mostly ok--I'd currently be packing up all my shit, figuring out how to break my lease, and asking around about how to find work in Canada (would they love a blacktress?). Plus, Jewboo probably wouldn't want to move and then we'd have to negotiate a long-distance relationship (which would probably work well since I wouldn't be able to afford birth control). I really didn't feel like starting over, so I'm glad I get 4 more years in America. Perhaps by then I will be a powerful celebrity in the vein of Brangelina and able to help the Dems hold it down yet again. 

Of course, many of us have joked about moving to Canada when the political climate got colder than life in the D, but I am for SERIOUS. I know Obama has let folks down, but I never expected him to be a magical negro, so I'm cool. And, quite frankly, I hate that the race was even close in some states. It proves that there's still so much to be done, and it's crucial that the energy that built over this election (and actually carried over on election day) be maintained as the president struggles to work with many Republicans who are dedicated to his demise. I found an NYTimes opinion piece that succinctly articulates why Tuesday's results were so hopeful:

Still, Mr. Obama’s victory did not show a united country. Richer Americans supported Mr. Romney, while poorer Americans tended to vote for Mr. Obama. There also remained clear divisions among voters by gender, age, race and religion.

African-Americans and Hispanics overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama. White men voted for Mr. Romney; he won among those who said they opposed gay marriage, wanted to outlaw abortion, or favored mass deportation of illegal immigrants. None of those are majority positions in this country anymore. ... The polls were heartening in that they indicated that a solid majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal, and that half of Americans now say their states should recognize marriages between same-sex couples.


Of course, I added the underlines. To me, the election of Romney/Ryan would have been indicative of a growing hatred for minorities of all kinds (ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, sexual orientation)--and I would have had to get the hell out of dodge.

Besides, do we really think it's okay for one man to have his own planet and his own country?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Inside the Mind of Paul Ryan - A Collage

Y'all, why is this election even close? We need to stop bullshitting and be real about who these Republicans are--angry White men who think they're the dispossessed. 

I feel like Romney gets ample attention in these final hours, but his potential VP is ignored. This cannot stand! Paul Ryan is so bitchy, he needs his own show on Oxygen. I have assembled a few of his best facial expressions. (Yes, this is how I spent the day before election day.)





Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chris Rock: Always Speakin' Truth to Comedic Power



Please forward widely to the most Caucasian people you know--especially the ones over the age of 55. We're down to the wire, people!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stir Crazy Blog Post!!!

(You can tell it's cray by the excessive use of exclamation points.)

Hey guys! It's Halloween and day 3 of life indoors post Sandy. Surprisingly, Jewboo and I have been getting along swimmingly--besides that small spat where I called him a dick for not letting me hang my wet delicates* on his wooden suit stand. I think it's because neither of us have had to spend our days sitting at a desk doing something that we don't like. We have way more patience for each other--and ample time to sleep. I don't even want to tell you how many times the question "Did you take half an Ambien?" has been uttered in our household.
BALLS! This blog post just reminded me to take my birth control and antidepressants! Dammit, Sandy--with all the days morphing into one long gray Tuesday, I can't keep up with anything. Lord knows if I go too long without my dolls, I'll become a whirling dervish and these two cats and Jewboo won't stand a chance.

Speaking of my dolls--just found out I have nearly $2,000 in doctor bills to pay! Of course, the natural response to this is "Don't you have insurance, Blacktress?" and the answer is, unfortunately, yes! And yet somehow, the MRI and in-depth eye exam I needed to make sure my brain wasn't cancerous is actually going to run me a month's salary. If this ain't some bullshit, y'all, I don't know what is. I firmly adhere to the position that if the medical tests don't find anything wrong, you shouldn't have to pay for it. (I bet Mitt Romney's rolling over in his grave.^)

I'm not about to pull a tacky Mitt Romney and try to make the hurricane about me. My debt is nothing in the scheme of things--the fact that I've had internet and electricity and my home is in one piece, has me praising Jesus more often than a Southern woman born before 1955.  I only even mention my bills bills bills because I just opened my mail and was thrown for a loop. What do you think I should do? Remember: the season for turning tricks has just passed, so there goes that option.

On an up-note: there's no sign of power in the area surrounding my office (including our building), so I've got an unexpected 5-day weekend. Perhaps I can finally get that screenplay done and sell it for millions??? Or maybe I can  figure out how to monetize the ridiculously cute cat photos I've been taking over the last four days?


Guys, the cat is in the hamper. I'm sorry, but you'd have to have no soul to not be moved by this. Look at his big ol' eyes! I can see why White people want to adopt third-world orphans--those eyes burrow into your soul.



In summation: The only hurricane I care to be bothered with is one played by Denzel Washington. I hope you've made your donation to the red cross! If you're not sure where to direct your efforts, here's a link
 




*not a euphemism

^ Because the real Mitt Romney died in a forest fire 27 years ago and the cyborg put in his place is relentless in his bid for presidency, which will usher in phase one of the Robot War.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wifi and Whedon on a Wet and Windy Day

Being a New Yorker with internet, I feel it is my duty to blog/ride the information superhighway for as long as possible so that I please the wi-fi gods and they don't take it away from me. With that, I offer you a truthy video from one of my idols, Joss Whedon. As he cleans up the kitchen after scrambling up some eggs in sunny California, he gives us some information we can all take to heart. Or maybe it just resonates with me because I watched "Walking Dead" a couple hours ago.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Re-opening My Heart Space

Oh my god, guys, I've missed you so deeply. I got to the plantation this morning and every fiber of my being said BLOG! BLOG NOW FOR THE WORLD AND YOUR SOUL!!!

(yes, even my blood vessels are dramatic)

I'd been thinking about returning to blogging for a while, but it wasn't until I hosted a show on Saturday night that I realized it might have to happen. One of the other performers told me that she'd been reading my blog since we met and she'd noticed I dropped off. "All that's left is the caucasian candy coating," she said, referring to my previous post about that Angela Bassett of a news anchor. You know my fragile ego loves the support,* and there have been so many happenings that have begged for bloggery. But before I re-open my heartspace, let me explain what's been holding me back--I feel I owe you that much.

Over the last month my fellow coworkers and I have been transferred to another plantation and it's been an awkward, tense, and cumbersome process. Between being advised to keep big corporate happenings private and not knowing where things stand with the employees who were let go, I was scared to bring attention to myself and my musings (which are mostly that this new company is a shady hot mess). I somehow managed to avoid the first round of layoffs and I'm not about to tempt fate!

As you know, Jewboo and I have been cohabiting for nigh on six months now. Of course, this has been chock-full of miscommunications, frustrations, and neuroses displayed in a multitude of healthy and unhealthy ways. As with all my big emotions, blogging about them helps me sort through it. I've discovered that it works like this: if I can make it a joke, then it's not that deep. It's good to get that kind of perspective. But when you have a sensitive live-in lover who's loyal enough to put your blog in his RSS feed, you've got to scale back. So I've mostly been releasing my emotions on stage, which is both freeing and protecting me from my lover's anger (as long as there are no cameras up in the club!!!).

But I've moved past all of these fears. As we move into the holidays and my 29th birthday; as you, my gentle reader-friends, begin to lock down your winter spoons; and as this country's racism goes from latent to blatant with the fear surrounding this year's election, I cannot be silent! A blacktress must re-emerge and share tenderly. I will open the cage in which the bird sings and help her form an a cappella group with other caged birds called "Maya Ange-Doo Wop."

I miss you. I heart you. Let's hang out.

*my ego is a drag queen named Sandy Black Nasta

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Strong Black Woman in a Caucasian Candy Coating

This actually brought tears to my eyes. You know, the happy ones that come after watching Stand and Deliver. 

This woman is my patronus.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rejected Onion Headlines

I have a secret double life. In it I write headlines for the hilarious satire publication The Onion.
I would like to share some of them with you now.

Local Woman Vows to Start Diet on Monday, Pending Any Offhanded Suggestions That She "Live a Little" or is "Worth it."

APPLE RELEASES iPHONE 4.5, CUSTOMERS CAN’T SYNC THEIR iTUNES.

MOVIE THEATER CHAIRS GO ON STRIKE - CLINT EASTWOOD’S NEW FILM MAKES -$40,000,000 OPENING WEEKEND 

2012 Paralympics Coverage Bumped for "The New Normal" Pilot

Local Woman Quits Job to Wait for the Debut of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte

High School Senior Visits College, Realizes Van Wilder Isn't Real

Local Man Relieved to Learn That His Credit Score is the Same as His Age. 
He is 26.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Search Herstory

Happy Friday, friends!

Living with Jewboo is going pretty well, considering I'm an only child who needs complete quiet in order to fall asleep and he's a neurotic workaholic. It's good having someone to share responsibilities with and look to for support. And have an extra computer to use. My laziness seems to know no bounds and when his computer is right there, all on the desk and easy to use, I don't want to lug my laptop to various areas of the house.

Unfortunately, this also means Jewboo has access to the myriad of useless things that occupy my mind on a daily basis. Below are a list of things I've recently looked into on the information super highway. As I write this list and share it with the blogsphere, I release the shame and embarrassment that comes with it. Thank you for bearing witness to my recovery.

Things I Have Recently Googled
  • comedy festivals 2013, submissions open
  • comedy managers
  • how many calories burned by [insert a range of everyday actions here]
  • best rueben sandwiches, nyc
  • how to make corned beef (clearly, I was trying to empower myself)
  • large pores in forehead cause excessive sweating?
  • coupons Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • [My own name]



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Academically Profiling

Hey gang! What's the haps? I've been trying to live my dreams but it's a slow-going process.

My latest plan: getting on the ol' college-performing circuit. Can you imagine me bringing my stand-up and portmanteaus to institutes of higher education?
I'd like to be their Sister Mary Clarence, telling them the sassy truths they don't expect to hear and helping them find their voice.

 I've written a one-sheet to start peddling to various schools but it's crucial that I focus my efforts. As a blacktress with a Jewboo and a penchant for TMI, there are a myriad of ways I could market myself: Part of the diversity initiative? The best show for Women's History Month? What about a simple B(l)ack to School Special? Where do I fit in? It's just like freshman year all over again! Before I start getting cray, I'm picking a fistful of nearby schools and working outward.

As I look through the lists of Northeast colleges and universities, I find myself judging with the swiftness and hastiness of a member of the NYPD. Other than location (will I do well in racist Boston?), I'm looking at cross-section of graduates. Will a school with 47% of students enrolled in the engineering program be able to handle my truths? What about a place where all the campus photos show students wearing sweaters around their necks? I don't want to be the nerd in an 80s movie surrounded by a bunch of Biffs and Steffs!

If you happen to be reading this and are or ever were a college student, let me know where you think I'd be able to work it. Leave a comment or email me at madblacktress[at]gmail[dot]com. Like a hobo or a deluded scamp, I'm willing to work for food....and I will eat like it's my job.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are You There, Michelle? It's Me, Blacktress.

Chills, chills, chills. I can't even cope. She's brilliant. Sidebar: I would like to start a kickstarter campaign to have dinner with the Obama family. He can help me strategize friendships and we'll talk about what ain't right!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Here I Am!

Happy Back to School, friends! Here's a clip from a summer set I did at the People's Improv Theater. Give it a view and forward it widely--preferably to any agents or managers you may know.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Remember Me?

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.
It has been one month since my last blog-confession.

I miss you. How are you? I'm fine. I wish I had a great reason for my lack of bloggery, but really, it was because I was overwhelmed. Since I last wrote, there have been major changes that have kept me too occupied to blog. Blacktress News in Brief:

Big things happening on the plantation--we got a new massa, new overseer, and are being transported to another location! Half of this month was a real emotional rollercoaster, with me not being sure I'd be employed and all. As I frantically tried to find other potential job opps and not let the fear of poverty grip me during my waking hours, I could barely type, let alone blog. I felt like the brawniest buck on the auction block!

Last week, I had the honor of appearing in an AboveAverage.com web series penned by elite gay visionary Eliot Glazer. He invited me to perform via email. With the subject line "Be my Gayle?" I don't think I ever really had a choice. Our shooting day was straight out of a Julie Delpy film--all whirlwind romance, tenderness, and rapid bonding. I was able to live the dream--and we shot on location at what can only be described as a mansion. (It was, after all, meant to be Oprah's estate in Montecito.) To give you a sense of the grandiosity of this place, here's a true question I asked someone on set:
Did you get that Sprite from the vending machine in the pool house?

Yes, y'all, it was like that.

I will obviously keep you abreast of my breasts when they appear on AboveAverage.com. Until then, here's a photo:


Oh, and obviously the biggest, most life-altering change: My facebook profile was finally converted to timeline. 

I don't like it. I find it confusing and ugly, but like an unattractive child, I am learning to love it. 

How are you?



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm NOT LOVIN' IT

NB: This is a very interactive post and I urge you to click the links--which will open in a new window so as not to impede your reading--and enjoy the fun times! I've decided to take a page from the call girl's book of secrets, but instead of giving the girlfriend experience, I'd like to share the blacktress experience

Hey friends,

Last night mamadukes and I went to see Memphis on Broadway and it was quite the fun evening. Not only did we get along smashingly (she didn't once comment on my need for a wash and set!*) but one of my main gays took us on a backstage tour and we got to meet cast members and see where the magic happens. (Reason #247 to roll with the gay mafia)

Before the show we grabbed dinner at a fancy restaurant in midtown. Because we had a curtain call to get to, we needed service in a New York minute (but less than the length of the Olsen twins film of the same name), and we couldn't get a waiter's attention, even though they were all standing around and chatting like Grey's Anatomy cast members at the nurse's station.

Why aren't y'all working?! It's a fucking HOSPITAL.
#5-year-old-jokes

Just then, my mom said what I was thinking. "And they say black people don't tip, but if the service was better, it wouldn't be an issue."
"Yes, it's like they think we don't have money or something and don't want to put the effort in!"
Before you think I'm just being a difficult blacktress, let me explain the truth in a way that you can handle.

Other than my excitement over my mom and I connecting and agreeing on something, I'm relaying this little story because it reminds me of an old print ad I was recently sent. And since I had such fun with yesterday's visual essay, I'd like to give it another go.


It's no surprise that McDonald's has long targeted black communities (thanks for the type-II diabetes!). This ad, however, is cute. It's family oriented, it speaks to a specific group in a way that's almost positive, and other than the fact that they urge you to get a large size and that kid's eating a sandwich that's way bigger than it should be, it's good times. Just as the fries are "Golden brown. Delicious." this father and son are also golden brown and delicious!

THEN.........

[imagine i am on stage taking a deep sigh and then staring at the audience silently and knowingly.]

For some reason, in that same year, McDonald's ad execs decided they weren't reaching the right folks. The numbers just weren't looking good. So they had to GO FURTHER. To the place where colored girls have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf:



They say a picture's worth a thousand words, but I actually have no words that could adequately explain the CauCRAYsian mastermind behind this advertisement. Of course, the 1970s ebonics of dropping the 'g' in gerunds is meant to speak to the people, but that's nothing new. (Although they didn't use it throughout the copy, which is just poor form).


Look at the happy family (and the random dude in the booth behind them that they're apparently friends with--you know, because all black people know each other)!!! 


It's the third line that gets me.

You don't have to get dressed up, there's no tipping, and the kids love it. 


THERE'S NO TIPPING?!?!?!?!?!? It's basically saying, "you're cheap and lazy and slovenly, so McDonald's is the perfect place to grab a bite!"

Of course, the fact that I just had my third viewing of the musical about interracial love in 1950s Tennessee isn't helping to quiet my rage, but if this was a tweet, you know how I'd hashtag this!


Although they're still claiming to "do it all for you," this time they're doing it like the scary nanny in The Omen. 

What are your thoughts on this insanity? Please, leave a comment--I can't be alone in this!



*Caucasians, if you don't know what a wash and set is, wiki that

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Visual Essay

The following ecards speak to my heart in a way I could have never imagined:

Sometimes, all you can do is nothing. Am I right?????*



I feel like this is a real "strengths-based" approach to my body image issues.




PREACH!



*Dear god, I hope I'm right, or else I'm on a one-way, downhill road to nowhere. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rackin' Up Rejections!

Don't be alarmed by the sad title--I'm actually in a good place today. 
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves--I'm in a good place at the present moment. 

After all the lessons and classes and Ben Franklins* I've thrown into voiceover, it seems that my demo isn't quite appealing to folks who pay. Monday night I attended a videogame-focused VO seminar and didn't do my greatest work. Then the agent lectured us all on how we couldn't expect to get representation from our demos and instead needed to rack up a resume......which, he admitted, is tough to do without an agent representing you. 

It's a classic chicken-egg scenario. Or double-edged sword. Or generally annoying. Whichever you prefer!

I have a running spreadsheet of the agents I've contacted, the date, the feedback received, and the date I followed up. It's very well-organized, but no amount of OCD can eclipse my failure. 

But it's okay!!! I was talking to a friend last night who is very happy and positive but not annoying, and she said something that is actually working for me this morning: Instead of seeing it as a failure, consider it a good thing--you're racking up rejections so you can get to the yes!

It's true. I mean, in this reality-tv, "who-wants-to-be-the-biggest-american-idol-inside-the voice of a celebrity rehab" world there's so much instant "success" that it's easy to forget that most people before 2003 just put in the work and put themselves out there--repeatedly. You had to get rejected a billion times, lose Star Search, get yanked off Amateur Night by the Sandman, be told you're talentless by someone in a position of power about 20 times, and then finally have Clive Davis recognize your brilliance. 

Okay, that last part mostly applies to any female singer in the late 80s and early 90s, but you get my point. 

I remember being at a family friend's barbecue in the D when I was about 11 or 12 years old, when Anita Baker came by. I'd heard that my aunt was friends with her over the years, but I didn't really know what that meant (or if it was even true). Well, turns out, they went way back--back to when they both worked in a kitchen at a restaurant. 

Y'all, 8-time Grammy winner Anita Baker spent her 20s washing dishes! Now that's a "Behind the Music" moment. 

Writing about watercolor is my washing dishes. And I just need to be chill. Being rejected is just more fuel for my inevitable Netflix-produced documentary "Blackting is Reacting." 

In addition to clocking 10,000 hours, I've got to get 10,000 rejections....divided 100. Yeah, just 100 rejections--I don't think my psyche could take more. If I could count my romantic history among them, I would have hit the mark years ago, but alas, we're going by career rejections, so we're not even close. 


I can practically hear Destiny's Child crooning in my ear, "you be saying no, no, no, no, no / when it's really yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."

Of course, that song was about a shady dude and not career rejections, but I think the connection is clear.



*Speaking of Ben Franklin, I'm working on the treatment for my new film Ben Franklin: Zombie Killer/Dream Crusher. It'll star Michael Cane as the only founding father who knew those townsfolk didn't have cholera.





NB-- 7/19/12 Follow-up in a gchat with a fellow strong black woman:



Scribe:  ur post is so positive, love it
me:  thanks, girl. i was having a moment of positivity!
i didn't mention that Anita touched my hair and asked who did my braids (because she could get some)
and i thought i had been touched by god
Scribe:  umm, yea that is essential to the story
thats super awesome
Scribe:  well to me, cuz im Black and I get the whole Anita-Baker-is-god concept

Monday, July 9, 2012

If All Press That Came to See Me Were Gay Men With Petite Dogs




Handing the mic to writer/comedian [Sojourner 'You Can't Handle the' Truth] (“you had me at hello”), who has coined a new term by describing herself as a “Blacktress,” riffed on her “fish out of water” experience here in the Upper Delaware valley (“I am sooo not a nature girl”) and the sea of “lily white” faces in the room. Funny and fresh, [sojourner]’s set “killed” (as they say in comedy) and her act segued nicely into headliner Yannis Pappas’ high energy, hilarious performance that made me an instant fan. ... once again, The Laugh Tour hit a home run. Future dates can be found on the website. Pappas’ observation that the “old days of Catskill comics has been revived” is accurate.



For the full article, holla at the website. I must say, Dharma the dog was so silent during my set, I thought that she didn't approve. Then she let me pet her near her bedazzled turquoise collar and I knew we were cool.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Angelina Jolie of Cat Ladies

You know this is my safe space and the receptacle for all my deepest thoughts and memories--it's my pensieve, if you will. (Will you????) So I feel like I can tell you that yesterday afternoon I spent much of the day looking at photos of cats.

Yes, cat pics. 

Ever since I became a stepmom to Jewboo's cats, I've become such an animal lover! Nothing makes me feel better than a cat cuddle and I never want to leave the house. The obese cat and I have some issues (mostly cause he shit on the mattress last week and his food issues hit too close to home), but when he rolls over for a rub, looking like a little baked potato, my heart just melts a little bit.

What prompted this was my coworker telling me about the cat she's going to adopt. Apparently she's 5 years old, been in a foster home, and "struggles with her weight." AKA, she's obese like my stepson. I passed along some suggestions, but mostly questioned this cat's history. 
My coworker didn't like it when I asked, "is she the Precious of cats?"


She sent me a link to the cat's photo on petfinder.com, a website I hadn't even heard of (it's basically a match.com for pet lovers). Well, let me tell you, I'm officially hooked. I mean, look at these frackin' kittens:

Fiona, Fizz and Sazerac - mom and kittens (can be separated): American Shorthair, Cat; Brooklyn, NY
COME THE FUCK ON!!! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO MY DAMN JOB WHEN THESE CUTE-ASS BITCHES ARE EXISTING?????



And they even have a video of the momma cat and the babies playing:


Seeing all these cats in need of a home, I can sorta see how those ladies on A&E end up as cat hoarders. I mean, the ad says that the momma cat is just over a year old herself!!! That's basically the cat equivalent of 16 & Pregnant, and you know how much I want to help those girls. And these cats lookin' all cute and bi-racial--who knows what man cat knocked her up! Is there a cat version of Audre Lorde or Lucille Clifton that I can read to her to lift up her soul??? 
I'd totes change her name to Shiloh and and call the rest Maddox 1-3.


If you like cats and live in NYC, they're a great pet to have. Go and adopt one from this website or foster one until it can get a permanent home.
And then let me come over over day and play with them.


Oh, and FYI: Tonight at 11pm I'm performing at The People's Improv Theater (The PIT) on Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting's monthly show. Come on down!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weighed Down



Before I get into my Marie Osmond-esque testimonial, let me say this: I know that it's common to gain a few lbs after you settle into a romantic relationship. Trading vodka-sodas for pad thai dinners, and no longer worried about whether you'll ever have sex again, one can get a little doughy. And when you eat to feel nothing, like I do, it's a recipe for a fat-saster.* I've had weight issues for as long as I can remember, and enrolling in an Upper East Side private school where your daily calorie intake shouldn't exceed the grade on your final exam didn't help matters.
Here are a few quick facts that'll make my relationship with food a bit clearer:

  • At the age of 9, while inhaling food at my grandmother's house and being told to slow down, my response was, "I'm a growing boy!" which was meant to be a joke--plus, I'd never heard "she's a growing girl" when a young female wanted seconds.
  • My first week of college I was terrified to have to eat meals with my hallmates because I hadn't eaten in front of boys in years.
  • My mother regularly went on 3- to 5-day crash diets and I would try to do them with her and could only last 5 minutes. I hated myself for my lack of willpower.

So, as you can imagine, when Jewboo admitted to noticing my recent weight gain, I went into a bit of a shame spiral. After all, the only thing that's made coitus acceptable is remembering that he thinks I'm thin. Now that neither of us are in a fantasy world, there's no going back!


I know this is kind of a random post. But what prompted it was this NY Times OpEd.**  That, and the fact that when I was in the D a couple weeks ago, my cousin and I reminisced about how, when I was 10, I would cry when they teased me for having "a white-girl booty" (you know, flat). I wanted curves in the right places, as the OpEd discusses. That was right before I started my new school and fell into a different cultural stereotyping.


Now I want the happy medium. You know, something like

Teehee--I can't help the puns!




But it's all looking up! I finally got one of them 'smart phones' the kids have been on about, and I'm trading in the fun apps (like fried ravioli) for some good-for-you apps, like "Noom," which helps you stop being a chubzo. Yay for taking positive actions!


How are you? What's the haps? Any tips on how to keep the weight in my boobs but make sure it leaves my thighs?


* (a fat disaster, obvs).
** I mean, other than the fact that the writer's "go-to meals" sound depressing, there's a lot there that I agree with.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sojo's Lost her Mojo!

To give you a sense of where I'm at lately, here's an excerpt from this morning's conversation with a coworker. 

Coworker: How are you doing? 

Me: You know...as well as as can be expected at my age. 


That wasn't ironic, guys. I am feeling more broke down than my 96-year-old grandmother! I think it's because my most recent shows have been lackluster. I feel like I'm not funny anymore. Now that I'm cohabiting, I'm basically hanging out with cute cats and making lists of furnishings to buy--snoozefest! I mean, Jewboo does the dishes without being asked. He sweeps regularly. When I call his name, he usually responds "Yes, dear?" WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF COMEDIC FODDER IS THAT??? 

Oh lordy lordy (look whose forty!)--leave it to me to find a problem with an agreeable live-in lover.
I jest, gentle readers--things are good with him and they shouldn't be any other way. But this creative wall has got to come down. I know I can't be tapped out--and I'm certainly no flash in the pan. After all, ain't I a woman and ain't I a blacktress?

Maybe I need to take another international journey into Caucasia? Or I need to re-read the complete works of David Sedaris? WHAT CAN REJUVENATE MY SOUL??????


Suggestions are most welcome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Does it actually get better? Cause this is a F'D UP.

I've been on the fence about having kids for years now, but this latest display of horrendous bullying has me tying my tubes in a figure-eight knot my damn self, Prometheus style. I can't even sit through the whole thing, but just look at this video taken on a school bus in Greece, New York: kids are saying vulgar things to the bus monitor! 




 We can't go telling kids that "it gets better" when a 60-something-year-old woman is being ripped apart!

What happened to, at the very least, respecting (and fearing) your elders? If you even looked at my grandmother sideways, you were going to get put in your place and mom wouldn't even flinch. I'm not into corporal punishment, but as the great truthteller Chris Rock says, every kid needs a good whooping on four key transgressions: lying, stealing, cursing, and disrespecting. Just set it straight once and it's never happening again. It's what I like to call terri-fucking-fy you. If you just invoke a stress response, a Pavlovian fear, it's a wrap. When I was hanging with my old-lady friend (she's 86) and some of her peeps (that's how I roll--with the Soft Food Crew), she was telling me about a kid being rude on the subway. Her friends chimed in with other stories about rude young adults.

"I've found that there are two groups of people who are consistently courteous and helpful: European tourists and young black men." BOOM! Are you shocked to hear it, readers?! Can you handle the truth?! I wasn't surprised, but I wanted to know more.
"It's because many of them were raised by women and particularly their grandmothers--they were either in their home or their sole caregiver."

Socioeconomically speaking, that checks out (and here, too). No doubt the kids in this video have little home training. I hope they suffer the consequences for their actions--and get some intensive therapy. Or maybe Greece, New York, should bring back the fucking gladiators and have these kids fight to the death--you know, separate the wheat from the psychopaths.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How do you know when you've found "the one"?

When he tweets:


@Blacktress Every month, Tyler Perry’s Madea goes through her minstrel cycle.

Whose Got Two Thumbs, One One of Which Isn't Working? THIS GIRL!

I must be honest and say that part of the reason I haven't blogged about the D is because of a medical condition. For weeks now, I've had intense-yet-sporadic pain in my dominant hand that effects all five fingers and even extends up to my elbow! But on this high-deductible "health-insurance plan" I'm not running to the doc unless there's oozing or hallucinations. When I got back the results from my physical and heard that my white blood cell counts were extra-low, I figured with the hand pain and the wack immune system it could only be one thing--bone cancer (natch). Still suffering PTSD from last year's medical madness (and ensuing debt), I was still trying to get answers without running to the doc every ten seconds.

Plus, you guys know how much I love genetic anomalies and medical mysteries. Well, add to that a dash of hypochondria and an apathy toward my day job and I really can get to the bottom of a host of personal ailments.  Here is an email I sent to my doc last week:











Yes, y'all--I created my own visual aids. These are the lengths I will go to in order to avoid a co-pay in these trying times.

And yes, I called my doctor "K-Cho." We're cool like that.

Unfortunately, my excellent PowerPoint presentation couldn't get me out of living life on life's terms. Doc replied a couple hours later:

Wow, that’s an impressive email with nice illustrations! Unfortunately, hand and wrist pain is much better diagnosed by exam than xray. Plus the xray will be useless without correlation to the exam if an xray is even needed. Most hand/wrist pain don’t require xrays if there hasn’t been any trauma/injury.


And boy, was she right! I went into her office yesterday and a few simple tests revealed De Quervain's tenosynovitis. 


"I had a feeling that's what it was based on your description," she said.
"So what you're saying is that my diagrams were an excellent representation of where my pain was and I should perhaps enroll in medical school?"
K-Cho didn't answer, but I'd like to think that's because the answer was obvi.

Apparently this is common among athletes who grip tools (rackets, ski poles, etc) and those who do frequent manual labor, such as hammering. Since I fit into neither of those categories, I can only assume it's because of all the typing and playing Bejeweled on my bootleg phone--or....
"Um, could it be from too much....texting?" I asked tentatively.
Doc looked up knowingly and said, "Could be."

Guys, I have a textually transmitted disease (TTD). 


I thought I was careful. I always used T-Mobile protection! My phone is so broke and busted, it's always been tough to text, but I was willing to stick it out because we'd been through so much together. But now it's destroying my ability to pursue my livelihood! How can I hold a microphone with this level of pain?!

I've been prescribed a regimen of RICE, advil, and even rehabilitation exercises--and I am dedicated. I'm not dying, I'm living with DQT--a TTD that will no longer hide in the shadows.
But this means I've gotta lay off the hard stuff (emotional texts) and the soft stuff ("running 10 min late!"). But I've got one of those ergonomic cushions at the office, so I'll try to get in as much blogging as possible while I can!

I miss you. Call me!