Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He is a paragon of male virtue.



I love you, Nick Offerman. 








Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Legend of Blacktress Vance

Oh good god--I've been away from the blogsphere for a little over a week and Google's found another way to change it up. I logged in and don't even recognize the dashboard or the "new post" page. If this ends up being entirely in Wingdings, my apologies.
Of course, if it's in Wingdings, you won't even know I apologized.

Guys, it has been a c-c-c-Cau-CRAZY week! On the 19th, Jewboo and I signed a lease on an apartment in Harlem, taking our realationship to the next level and gentrifying 7th avenue, which is one of the last holdouts of--I want to gag--the area the realtors have dubbed SoHa (South Harlem). Basically, we decided to challenge Bill Clinton. Bill, I see your office building and raise you an interracial, interfaith couple with a pet that is struggling to manage his obesity.

We are the new face on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.

Speaking of being a new face (nailed it!): Last week I had two evening work events that really showed how far we haven't come. I went to both with my boss, who is even more cray when you have to deal with him one on one. Thursday night I was basically the Bagger Vance to his [Whatever Matt Damon's character's name was]--only without the moral lessons and new-found mutual respect. We were at an event where I was the only brown person not holding a tray and the average age of the attendees was 70. It was "old money" personified. There was one dude there who was 101 years old. Y'all, he was in a wheelchair being pushed by a slightly younger although equally geriatric woman (who was referred to as "the second wife that everyone calls a gold digger"), and I swear to you that at one point she wheeled him toward a wall and the panel opened and he was ushered inside.

Um, WTF?! Is he a hobbit?? Or perhaps a crypt keeper? Or was he part of a secret society of influential white males who have been granted eternal life???

Needless to say, I was out of my element.

After all my time inside Caucasia, though, I'm totally content to stand around and not talk to anyone while still looking approachable. However, I found it rather awkward when people I've met--and even written about--repeatedly didn't acknowledge my presence. I was getting Zen about it when two men approached my boss to chat. My boss introduced me to them and I jogged one of the guy's memory. The other didn't look at me. My boss then comments on the two men's colorful ties and makes a big production of saying that they're FIERCE! "We should just put you two at the door and you can blind everyone!" he said.
Then, the dude who doesn't acknowledge me points his thumb in my direction and goes, "With this one, we've got the whole rainbow!"My thoughts came in this order?
1. "This one"? Oh, so you can see me and have just chosen to say nothing? Are you fucking kidding me?
2. Wait, does he mean....?
3. No, that can't be--that's not even funny, even if he was trying to make a joke.
4. I'm wearing a cream-colored dress and a black sweater, so he can't have been referring to my clothing. He had to have been referring to the color of my skin and not the content of my character.

I bet he'd be terrified walking the streets of SoHa. God, I hate people.

I really would have had a better ending to this (complete with how the man "graciously" invited me to his Connecticut home as though I was a baby Zahara.) but I came back to this post about 8 hours after I started it and now I'm sucked into the maelstrom that is the Ikea website.

I heart you. Bear with me--we'll be out of this madness soon and I'll be bLack!
xoxo,
blacktress!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This is Getting Ri-Goddamn-diculous!

Hey friends,

I arrived on the plantation today to find many emails in my inbox. Other than the usual Groupons and SPAM, there were emails from random "brokers" and "apartment owners" on craigslist asking for way too much information before setting up an appt to view an apartment. That's not the point of this post, though.

At the very top of my inbox was an email--nay, I'll call it an ALERT--from Scribe about the latest happenings inside Caucasia. It included a link to the following news item:

Look at all their smiles.....I feel like this is a nightmare from Kunta Kinte's Book of Dreams.*^

Her email was titled, "some cray from CauCRAYsia"--certainly an understatement.
For the full story, click here.

Less than six months ago I came to you with news about Sweden's racism. It pains me to be repeating myself, but I can't hide this racist light under a bullshit bushel. Guys, this is the minister of culture shown here.

In an attempt to get more information, I've been reading comments about the article. No, not because commenters are geniuses--or even articulate--but because I want to get a sense of how this is being received in the country in which it took place. Here are some interesting nuggets:

Wanggren writes:
Liljeroth is a member of MODERATERNA, the Swedish conservative party, not 'the left'. She's pretty much the opposite of 'the left' in all possible ways. It is currently the conservatives who are in majority in the Swedish government.

LiberalenDieter says:
The true racists are those who care about the skincolor of the cake. If you aren't a racist and sexist, you just see human beeings and don't care about skin color or gender.

An American gal (and likely liberal-arts-college graduate) speaks truth to power:
The reason why this is something to complain about is because of how historically marginalized peoples have been negatively portrayed in the media as comical and savage subhumans. The minstrel figure has long been utilized to degrade certain groups of people. Also, as a woman, she should understand what a degrading, oppressive, and misogynistic practice genital mutilation is, and thus, she should be ashamed for making light of such an atrocity against women's rights.

To which a Scandinavian fella replied:
You are a brainwashed one, aren't you?

[Good lord. This one probably thinks that slavery and the Holocaust never really happened and is a huge Mel Gibson fan.]


Here's a particularly incendiary back-and-forth:



Another commenter writes:
Sensationalist rubbish. Seriously... Its an art day. Grow up. Talk about twisting a story to sensationalize it.

Um, I'm not clear on how the fact that this is part of "World Art Day" makes it less offensive and inappropriate. I mean, guys--a bunch of white people smiling over an African cake as they devour it just takes the idea of "consumption of the other" to a while new level. Regardless of intent, implications can't be denied. These are supposed to be a group of educated--and decision-making/policy-creating people. I refuse to believe that nobody on staff said something. I imagine it would have gone something like this:

[Anyone With a Brain taps higher-up's shoulder, interrupting a conversation between him and another person.]

Anyone With a Brain: Lise. Jorgen. Um, the World Art Day cake arrived a few minutes ago.
Lise: Great!
Jorgen: Wheel it out!
AWAB: I....don't think that's such a good idea.....I know this is meant to be a work of art, but I think that this is going to be bad publicity.
Lise and Jorgen: Why?
AWAB: It's a cake depicting an African woman--or some sort of traditional tribal statue.
Lise: Oh, that sounds so creative.

[A beat. AWAB wonders how to proceed.]

AWAB: The inside is red velvet.
Jorgen: I love red velvet cake!
AWAB: But don't you think it's a bit....gauche?
Lise: Well, is it masterfully executed?
AWAB: It is--which I think is part of what makes it so off--
Jorgen: Nonsense! I'm sure that, after submitting multiple budgets for this event, selecting an artist to create the cake and going over his plans before giving him the go-ahead to make it, the creation is completely in line with the event and the goals of our organization. In fact, I think it would be even more fitting if the minister of culture was the one to cut the first slice!
Lise: I love it! I'll make sure to get tons of media coverage.

[Anyone With a Brain slinks off, clearly uncomfortable.]


*now in paperback. Soon to be directed by Ed Burns.
^This is not a real thing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"UNEXPECTED FAILURE"

That's what popped up on my phone when I tried to check my email during breakfast this morning. Usually it just says "connection lost" or something equally generic--it's like it knows I'm a hot mess.

I've been off the grid because Jewboo and I have begun apartment hunting. This has meant that every waking hour is spent on the internet looking for a place to call home and then running to potential spots at a moment's notice. I'm trolling on craigslist with the frequency of a convicted sex offender and getting as disappointed as a fella who requests an Asian prostitute and ends up with a 60-year-old German lady.

"UNEXPECTED FAILURE" is the best way to encapsulate my emotions over the last week and a half.

The whole process is soul-crushing. I just feel so inadequate and poor. Did you know that kitchens are a thing of the past? I mean, the appliances are still required, but one can longer expect to have any sort of surface for placing items, mincing meats, or juilenn-ing carrots. As I prepare to leave the finest accommodations I will ever know, I'm kinda depressed by the options available to me. I mean, why did I bother getting degrees expensive schools if I'd only be able to afford to live in a cardboard box?

Of course, there are options, but being in a realationship and all, we've got to do this thing called "compromise." As I understand it, it basically means we'll have to settle in favor of having each other and only hope that the resentment doesn't break us.
That's how love works, right?

I know I'm a brat, but because this blog is my safe space (where I am vulnerable to the comments and criticisms of others), I will tell my TRUTH: I have grown accustomed to a lifestyle in which I can do laundry at my leisure and only walk 2 minutes to the subway. And yes, my desire to live in Manhattan is a bit bourgie--but I swear, it's not my fault, it's genetic. I already told you guys how, when my mom was pregnant with me and living in Brooklyn she chose a doctor who worked in Harlem Hospital? Why did she do that? Because the hospital was top-notch. I was supposed to be born on December 24, but when my mom went in for a final check-up on December 7, she hopped off the examining table and her water broke--I was ready to break free.

Guys, even as a fetus I could sense that we were in Manhattan and I wanted to make it convenient for us. My connection with this convenient, narrow, subway-filled borough runs deep. (Plus, Lord knows it would have been a shit show trying to get a cab from BK to Harlem when your black and trying to do lamaze breathing!)


But I can't give up--if I let the negative thinking ruin me, I wouldn't have ever made it to freedom, you know?

As we struggle to find a place that works within our tiny budget, we also have to battle brokers, which are like evil gnomes who want nothing more than a pound of your flesh and 15% commission. I think our mutual hatred for them is what's keeping our love so strong as we attempt to traverse this heartless city. Honestly, the process is really bringing out the addict in me. Think about it:

Finding an apartment is basically a legal, drug-free way to get a high and then come crashing down with a hangover that can only come from absinthe and cocaine. Not that I've done that, mind you, but I've been around enough unsavory characters/rich private school kids to know how the process works. Basically, you spend all day trying to track down "the stuff" (going from listing to listing, making call after call). Most of the time, the weed you wanted turned out to be oregano and the cheap whiskey is watered down, so to speak. When you finally find "the goods," you've got the dealer breathing down your neck, repeatedly assuring you that "this is legit"--which you've learned means it's probably not (it's about attraction, not promotion in this drug game). You want to play it cool, but you've got a checkbook in your pocket and want to feel like you've accomplished something, so you get ready to hand over all your savings for a chance at a great high.

Just then, another dude comes up in need of a fix. Before you can even find your pen, he hands over all of his cash and the keys to his Bentley. You officially don't exist.

Cut to you squatting in a crack den, telling yourself this is just a one-time thing.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Am I really incapable of finding a clean, safe, centrally located place to live after nearly 30 years on earth and a full-time job at a place that's not McDonald's?
I mean, the answer is yes--at least on one of those counts. But to give up on dreams hurts, especially when I feel as though so many of my dreams are being deferred (the blackting, the voiceover, the day job).

I know this is a process and millions have gone through it and lived to tell the tale; I just didn't expect this kind of failure.
(See how I tied that back in there? NAILED IT!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I may have frostbite--it was just THAT cold

Hey gang,

You have no idea how good it feels to be blogging again. I just got back from the D, which I haven't been to in over a year. As you know, when my mom and I go visit G-Unit, we must grapple with three generations of crazy, all with our own truths. This weekend was no exception and the only silver lining is that it was a mere 56 hours long. But it's amazing how, despite global warming, it's still so, so cold in the D. For those of you who still can't quite wrap your brain around what it is to be in the city that god forgot, let me share this internet vid. Not since T-Baby's magnum opus has the essence of the D been so eloquently captured.


I'm just glad that I don't have this guy's grandma!


The repeated requests for chili cheese, the support for Kwame Kilpatrick, the recollections of shooting various people--it's as spot-on as Stuff White Girls Say to Black Girls.

Some translations:

- "Run on Rose" means rose champagne--Moet. Apparently it's the balls.
- "snatch some carties" = steal some Cartier sunglasses
- Kwame Kilpatrick was the mayor of the D who was having an affair with his chief of staff--this was put out after he'd already been accused of corruption. That's why "he can't be textin bitches."