Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday Throwback: I'm Not Your Plaything

ending the decade jammin' (to 2 decades ago).

happy new year, sisters and brothers.  tie up those Loose Ends (wonka wonka wonka)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"I Wonder" Wednesdays: Everything is Martin Luther

this man's voice does things to me.  you don't really want to know what those things are.  trust me.  this glimpse into some of his new material comes to us today courtesy of the folks over at SoulBounce.

you may remember Martin Luther from his first vid:

yes, that's saul williams.  and ?uestlove.  and nona gaye.  and yes, wood harris.  really the "you are my daily bread" refrain is the best.  and it's uber lovely accoustic.

i wonder when his next album is coming out...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Flowers for the Garden: Distant Relatives

Damian Marley and Nas are said to be working on a collaborative cd, to be released in March 2010. the working title is "Distant Relatives," and the proposed cover art is shown here. funny how people always refer to these efforts as "best of both worlds" projects after Jay-Z did a collabo with Robert-that's-not-me-on-the-tape-Kelly. it's as if they don't remember this.'s not really the same thing. i just like any excuse to mention the Bee Gees.

moving along...i'm not a Nas fan. i'm still holding "Oochie Wally" against him. i'm a music snob who holds grudges. i am, however, a Damian Marley fan. he's my brother in my head. so we'll see.

what say you?

UPDATE: check out this trailer that D. Shanks posted in the comments below. he's the greatest.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday Throwback: Christmas Blows

i went last-minute christmas shopping with a friend today.  today was his FIRST day of shopping.  all that to say, my clevermeter is at about a 1.  i tried :)  merry holiday season of generic type and possibilities (unless you're pagan.  then merry winter!)


Friday, December 18, 2009

Memorial Flowers: Alaina Reed Hall

*sigh*  i supposed i should've waited until the year was actually over to do a post for those who died in 2009.

Alaina Reed Hall, probably best known for her roles on Sesame Street and 227, passed away today.  according to What Would Thembi Do, her death is believed to be the result of complications due to breast cancer.

rest peacefully, Alaina.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letter from the Garden: Dear Spirits

dear spirits,

the closer i get to christmas, the more i think about the fact that i won't be able to see my father this year.  i predict all holidays and birthdays will have this effect on me for a while.  since his death, i've struggled through father's day, my brother's birthday, my birthday, and thanksgiving.  i'm still adjusting to not being able to talk to him.  my, how i took that for granted.

while i was sitting here thinking of this, i thought of how many times i complained that 2009 was full of death.  i've gotten on the other side of that feeling for the most part, though i'm still anxious for the year to be over, as if somehow i'm owed a better 2010.  ah, entitlement.  i've digressed yet again.

i wanted to take a moment for those of you who transcended beyond this crazy world this year.  at the risk of sounding crazy, i call on some of you for strength and guidance the way some folks call on patron saints for help in certain situations.  i appreciate being able to do that.

so, today i honor you.  some of you were made famous for your service and your talent.  some of you weren't well-known at all.  but all of you were somebody's somebody.


sistergarteners:  i'm posting some of the famous spirits who passed away this year.  it's a moment to remember, and perhaps to learn something you didn't know about a few of them (homework!).  please feel free to use the comment space for remarks on any of them or anyone else you wish to honor.

John Hope Franklin

Bea Arthur

Ernie Barnes

Dom DeLuise

Ed McMahon

Michael Jackson

Farrah Fawcett

Steve McNair

Frank McCourt

E. Lynn Harris

John Hughes

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Sen. Ted Kennedy

Dominick Dunne

Adam "DJ A.M." Goldstein

Johnny Carter

Patrick Swayze

Thursday Throwback: Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

Tears for Fears is BEYOND.  i loved the 80s.  deeply.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"I Wonder" Wednesday: Sugar Mamas

i wonder, have you ever been a sugar mama?  i was recently on the peripheral of a conversation amongst a group of women, mostly college students, who were discussing at least one relationship in each of their lives where they had "scraped their last pennies together" to take care of their partner.  so they asked me, "when were you a sugar mama?"  i thought about it...and i came up with nothing.  i have to admit, i suddenly felt as if this were some woman's rite of passage that i had missed out on.  i really wanted to come up with an answer.  i wanted to be a part of the "in" crowd, even though the crowd was lamenting.  it's even funnier as i type it.

so then i began to most women have a sugar mama story?  i realize i'm a strange bird, so maybe sugar mama status is indeed a rite of passage right up there with your first broken heart and your first crush on a middle-aged blue-eyed soul singer (just me?  you sure?).

so what say you, sistergarteners?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Flowers for the Garden: Bonnie Raitt

timeless song about unrequited love.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Flowers: Lilith

Lilith Fair is back.  part of the 2010 lineup was recently revealed, and i cannot wait to check out the Philly leg of the tour.  thus far, the lineup for the female-centric music fest includes co-founder Sarah McLachlan,  Corinne Bailey Rae, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Mary J. Blige, Indigo Girls,  Janelle MonĂ¡e, Tegan and Sara, Jill Scott, Chairlift, Sara Bareilles, and Erykah Badu.  says Erykah, “Magic happens when you bring this many artistic women together. I'll never forget the frequency and energy that I felt that first time I performed at Lilith. Between the sistas on stage and those in the audience, it was powerful!"

this is an amazing lineup already.  future announcements will reveal even more artists.  how awesome would it be if Sade was added to the lineup?  just sayin'... (and prayin').

for more information about Lilith Fair, visit the official site.

be.  fly.

*photo: it's a little odd to have Corinne's album cover here, even though she's mentioned in the post.  but i'm SO EXCITED about her new music that i couldn't help myself.  carry on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Sun is in Your Hands, Player...

this is a song that makes me spill out all my guts...~Bilal, "Sometimes"

i saw Bilal in concert last night.  great concerts always inspire me.  i get lost in them.  for moments in time, i am moved, inspired, awestruck, and most importantly, i am not dichotomous.  i am my full self.

all of these feelings were hightened during Bilal's performance.  this man gets FREE.

a little background:  i've been trying to see Bilal in concert for YEARS now.  i finally had a ticket to one of his shows a couple of years ago and ended up not being able to go due to health reasons.  there i was, sittin' at home on a beautiful summer evening with a ticket to a Bilal concert, watchin' a Law & Order marathon instead.  luh me some Law & Order, but it ain't Bilal.

anyway, he finally booked another local show, and i got to see him.  his voice is insanity.  i already knew this, but i hadn't witnessed the control he has.  and really control is a poor description since his voice is likely led by the will of his spirit, as it pleases.  so that's probably the very opposite of control.  at any rate, it was flawless in its roller coaster-like transitions through octaves and tempos.  and aside from the sheer beauty of his voice (and his speckled face--i can't front.  i objectify.  and i've got a weakness for freckles), his committment to expression is timeless.  the kind of freedom i'm striving for in my work.  and i'm getting closer (an inch is closer even in a span of miles).  but artists like Bilal and performances like his remind me that i've come so far and i've got so far to go (pun intended for the pleasure of fans) (*edit: a good friend pointed out that this reference is actually D'Angelo.  it sounded like Bilal in my head.  eh, well).

inspiration is a glorious blessing.

be.  fly.

*photo isn't from last night.

The Bluest Soul

i rarely use the term blue-eyed soul.  i'm believe soul music is just that...soul.  but i have to admit it's extra impressive when you hear something extra soulful and then find out that the singer behind it happens to be white.  it is what it is.  plus, "blue-eyed soul" gives me an excuse to bring you this list:

rhythm's top 10 14 "blue-eyed soul" artists of all time:

14.  Christina Aguilera.  stay with me, people.  her James Brown tribute at the 2007 Grammy awards solidified her spot.

13.  Amy Winehouse.  Amy is like my white 'Tasia.  that actually makes sense to you, doesn't it?

12.  Lisa Stansfield.  and not just for her infamous forehead curl.  she can sAng.

11.  Thicke.  yes, he performs as Robin Thicke now, but i was introduced to his artistry as Thicke, and that's how i still refer to him when we have conversations in my head.  "I Need Love," from The Evolution of Robin Thicke is by far one of the sexiest songs of all time.

10.  Simply Red.  simply underrated.  so much more than "Holding Back the Years."

9.  Steve Winwood.  i was about to type "so much cooler than Michael Bolton," which made me realize Michael Bolton didn't make the list.  oh, well.  Steve Winwood had Chaka Khan on background vocals of "Higher Love."  that's major blue-eyed street cred.

8.  Bobby Caldwell.  some of y'all still think he's black.  i'm just sayin'.

7.  Annie Lennox.  "No More I Love You's" is one of those songs that's painfully beautiful.  That's not what puts her on the list.  just something i felt like mentioning.

6.  Kenny G.  i bet you can "sing" all of "Songbird."

5.  the Bee Gees.  i can still remember the very first time i heard "How Deep Is Your Love."  i was maybe 7?  it was playing on the car radio, and my mom got really excited and turned the volume up.  she was singing along and seemed so excited to be exposing me to this classic.  she's so dope.

4.  George Michael.  where do i even begin?  he earned a mention in my Christmas jams post as a part of Wham.  and you could already guess "Carless Whisper" is one of my all-time favorite songs.  AND apparently he was the first white solo artist Aretha did a duet with.  "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" was the hotness.  again with the blue-eyed street cred.

3.  Hall and Oates.  this is another one i attach to my mom.  i vaguely recall thinking she was saying one person's name.  as in, Hollanotes.  i thought it was a terrible name.  i have absolutely no research on this, but i'm willing to bet they're on some list for being highly sampled by hip-hop artists.  m-e-t-h-o-d-o-f-l-o-v-e.

2.  Teena Marie.  everybody get up!  she's probably on the list mentioned in number 3.  she writes.  she plays guitar (and piano?).  and she's still going strong.  take notes, Amy.

1.  Michael McDonald.  i'm obsessed and biased.  but this is my list.  say somethin'.  this man gets DOWN.  when he became lead singer for The Doobie Brothers, their whole sound evolved.  he is greatness.  he, too, did a duet with Aretha.  and Patti.  and he was on the monitors in the background on 40-Year Old Virgin.  by far one of my favorite parts of the movie.  AND he actually happens to have blue eyes.  i still can't decipher half of his lyrics (my mama can).  so what?

Honorable Mentions:  i mean, as long as the list was a random number, i coulda just added these to it.  but that would be too much like right.
  • Jane Child
  • Billy Vera
  • Rick Astley
  • Jamiroquai (it's a band, not a person.)
  • Remy Shand
  • Elliot Yamin (yah-mean!)
Green-Eyed Soul:
an artist who sings mostly country released an album called Green-Eyed Soul.  the artist is Lari White.  the song "Loved Right" deserves a post of its own ("you ain't never been loved right...").  it's one of my faves (thanks, Pandora).  it's a bit obscure, so the only link to it is on her page.  have a listen.

today's list was brought to you by the letter S, the color white, and readers like you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"I Wonder" Wednesday: R&B Christmas Music

r&b Christmas music.  i wonder, does it get any better?  "I Can Hardly Wait 'Til Christmas" by The O'Jays just kept me from going off on a well-deserving target.  she should mail her thank-you letter to Eddie Levert.

r&b Christmas music is definitely on my list of top 5 holiday perks.  maybe i'll blog about that list...anywho, as i'm typing this, i hear "Christmas is the time...we have picked to give...each other giiiiiiifts."  Alexander O'Neal's "My Gift to You."  i don't know if i can't stand all the throwback deliciousness.  and the best part is... *little drummer boy drumrolllll* this is all from my newest Pandora station.  yup.  they have their holiday songs tagged "holiday" (of course), and whatever holiday song you begin with sets the tone for the rest that play (just like a regular Pandora station).  i think i started with "Let it Snow" by Boyz II Men.  classic.

i swear The Jackson 5's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" is the only version of that song i can tolerate.  that says something.  not only does r&b music have a history of "new classic" holiday songs, but it also claims some of the best renditions of the standards.  i'm getting all warm and egg-noggy just thinking about it.

one drawback to this r&b holiday jam extravaganza-- it doesn't include Wham's "Last Christmas," in all it's ChristmasPoptasticness.  by far one of my favorite holiday jams.  but if i ask Pandora nicely, they just may include it.

i wonder, what's your favorite r&b Christmas song?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shiny Things

my dear friend austin asked me something about what i'm doing for Christmas.  i said that i don't "really" celebrate Christmas.  when he asked what i meant, i explained that i buy a gifts for a few people, but that i don't put up any decorations, and that it's not technically in celebration of the birth of Christ, (not unlike most people's recognition of the holiday), so i try to refrain from referring to it as "celebrating Christmas."

i ramble and go off on tangents.  by now, you've noticed.  i'm well aware of these tendencies, so i usaully check in to be sure folks are following.  when i asked austin if what i had said made sense, he replied, "that makes perfect sense.  i love it.  i just like the lights because i'm drawn to shiny things. *shrugs*."  so y'all know how i do.  i got all poetic and thought about being drawn to people's inner lights.  all that from some walmart tree lights.  ah, such is inspiration.

i, too, am drawn to shiny things...shiny spirits, shiny creativity, shiny minds...???  anyway, so that line made me think of all the beautiful people in my life.  as of late, i've really made an effort to be more grateful for them and let them know how much they mean to me.  give 'em the flowers while they can still smell 'em, so to speak.  so to my beautiful family (near and far), my amazing friends (real and imagined *coughs "mos def"*), my inspiring arts family (check out my sisterly sites and garden reading to the left, including Max Reddick, B Harg., and Hasan Malik), and all of you at the garden, thank you for having such beautiful lights.  namaste.

check out austin's blog.  he's been slacking lately, but it'll pick up next month when he begins chronicling his adventures in ghana!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Garden Review: Facebook Addiction

Are you a Facebook Addict?  this is the question that author, Nnamdi Godson Osuagwu explores as he teams up with the New York Daily News and creates parallelisms between chemical and social networking addictions.

the concept is genius.  on december 1st, nnamdi osuagwu released his second book, Facebook Addiction: The Life & Times of Social Networking Addicts.  the book uses fictional characters to relay social networking scenarios that are all too real.  Facebook Addiction is a fun, easy read, with a few somber moments that give it balance.  while at first glance, one may scoff (holla at my vocab) at the idea of social networking addiction, the truth is, anyone with a facebook account can likely relate to at least one of the stories in osuagwu's book.

and the best part?  osuagwu happens to be a tech genius, so the movement behind the book is interactive.  readers can visit the Facebook Addiction site and submit their own stories on the blog, join the fan page, and do tons of other things that feed social networking addictions *wink*.

Facebook Addiction is available at and Barnes & Noble.  aaand *swings jacket open to reveal gold necklaces*  it's even available on Kindle.  stocking stuffer, anyone?

are you a facebook addict?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ruby's Garden: Zucchini

i was sitting here eating japanese takeout.  as i thought "mmmm, this zucchini is good," i then thought, "[the grandmother] would be so proud."  my maternal grandmother, god rest her soul, was one of many family members who was always up in arms about my eating habits as a child.  i was picky, and i didn't eat much of the few foods i did like.  i can say with certainty my grandmother would be shocked to see a) that i eat quite a bit now and b) that i eat vegetables at all, much less zucchini.  albeit, zucchini really tastes like whatever seasoning it's murrrrinated in, but that's neither here nor there.  whenever i would turn my nose up at [insert food here], my grandmother would say "chile, you don't know what's good!"  this included chitlins, so i'm not conceding that point.  ever.

so during this stream of consciousness, i thought, "i should blog about that," which led to "i should make a regular feature of rubyisms."  i think i'll do that.  and another out of my mother's isms (the lady is hilarious, and i've always joked and said i was going to make a book of them).

in search of my (grand)mother's garden...

be.  fly.
ruby's granddaughter

*photo: i "borrowed" this one since at the time of this writing, mine was devoured.  carry on.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Throwback: Dreadlocks

so, maybe i never saw this vid before.  'cause when i found it, i was a bit surprised.  there's a lot going on here.  maybe i just forgot.  at any rate, in honor of all that was dope in the 90s, i present to you Me'Shell Ndegeocello:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"I Wonder" Wednesday: Vison Boards

*edit pictured: not my vision board.  eh...somebody else's.

i wonder what i'll ask the universe for next.

i'm in the process of creating a new vision board.  if you're not familiar, a vision board is a visualization tool, a collage of images and words one compiles in order to utilize the law of attraction.  the idea is that you create a visual reminder of what you're asking the universe to bring you.  visualizing these things is strong reinforcement of your thoughts and actions as you work to attract what you want and need.  ideally, the board is placed somewhere you'll see it regularly.

i've seen first-hand the power of vision boards.  in fact, the house i live in today is very similar to the one i glued to my vision board a little over 3 years ago.  but i don't just include material goals on my vision boards.  i also include images and words pertaining to health, spirituality, and relationships.  i usually review my vision board once or twice a year to see how many goals i've realized.  i may start doing this more frequently.  when i feel the need to re-energize and set new goals, i create a new vision board.  some goals are new, while some long-term goals re-surface as i see fit.

and so it's that time again.  i'm getting out my scissors, magazines, and glue.

i wonder, do you make vision boards?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brother Story: Ernie Barnes

i saw a segment of a show on TV-One last spring.  the segment was about artist Ernie Barnes.  and i've been fascinated by him ever since.  i learned a few weeks ago that he passed away not too long after that segment aired.  i didn't hear about it when it happened, but i was caught up in a whirlwind of crisis and trauma at the time, so i don't know if i missed the news due to that or due to a lack of media acknowledgement.

at any rate, he has inspired me so much lately.  and something he has been quoted as saying strikes me at the core.  he said that he tended to paint people with their eyes closed because we fail to see the humanity in one another.  i've been carrying that sentiment with me since the first time i read it.

most people are familiar with mr. barnes' most famous piece, "Sugar Shack," which was feautred during the closing credits of Good Times and on Marvin Gaye's I Want You album.  but Barnes has a vast collection of soulful, engaging pieces that have inspired so many people.  in fact, in response to one of my random twitter posts (is "random twitter post" redundant?), artist tuki carter said ernie barnes was his favorite artist and inspired him to become one.  i'm a big proponent of learning about my influences' influences, that is, learning who inspired the people who inspire me and whom i respect as artists and people.  so that tidbit made my exploration of ernie barnes even sweeter.

i also learned he supposedly died of a "rare blood disease."  as did dilla.  and as a line in my tribute poem to dilla says, "rare blood, indeed."

*pictured: "My Miss America" (top) and "Song of Myself" (bottom)

Global Garden: World AIDS Day

peace, sistergarteners.  today is World AIDS Day.  do something.  send an email.  get tested.  learn something new.  whatever suits you.  just do something.

see what john legend is doing (just 'cause i like him)

another option is to consider doing some local volunteer work.  sites like idealist.orgVolunteer Match, and allow individuals and groups to search for local volunteer opportunities year-round.

along those lines, a group i'm working with has started a monthly arts benefit event with the goal of fundraising for individuals affected by different health issues.  i'll post more on that later.  what i'll say now is that the knowledge that my work was supporting a person dealing with a particular issue (as opposed to an organization) was so overwhelmingly wonderful.  it put a face to the work and made it so much more tangible.  it's getting beyond statistics.
*stepping off soapbox*

any other ideas about HIV/AIDS awareness and activities for today and beyond?


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