Monthly Archives: January 2004

Why Do You Write: Lynne

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Photo and design by Donald Andrew Agarrat, 2004.

Use “LDJ” to describe your personality, one word for each letter.

Ah, it’s LdJ, lowercase d. You did know that, right? But anyway, that’s a good question. I never thought about it as an acronym. I had been using the lowercase d for some time, and then a friend designed a biz card with the logo LdJ and it looked so cool, and everybody started calling me that. Then when I began to DJ professionally it became EL d j, you know, The DJ. Like I’m the only one and there is no other. LOL. But seriously, if I had to come up with an acronym for it, I’d guess I’d go for something over-the-top and self-serving like “lyrically divine juggernaut.” And that probably sounds like I’m trying to be a rapper. I’m not even sure it’s grammatically correct. But you asked, didn’t you?

How does blogging heal you?

Well I started this whole blogging thing, without really knowing there were blogs or what I was doing. I put up a website in the summer of 2001, after being laid off from my gig at BlackPlanet.com. I primarily put it up as a resource for job-hunting, and mainly freelance writing. So it was my online biz card. But I had decided from the outset that I’d include a diary. I needed an outlet for my voice, when I wasn’t doing any professional writing. Through time, I met other bloggers like George at allaboutgeorge.com and Cecily at formica.ca, and they helped me to find other bloggers and to really understand what a blog or online journal could become. At times, I’ve used it just to deal with my day-to-day, and other times I’ve used it to share my day-to-day, and even other times as some sort of cultural criticism space. I guess overall, I’d have to say it’s similar to any other type of journal, it helps you work through your shit and deal with self, and also to know self and bond with self.

Talk about the state of R&B music.

Is there really an R&B today? I mean I know the history of the term. Some dude over at Billboard came up with it in the late ’40s to encompass blues and soul music, so basically at some point all black music became defined as R&B. That was until you got pop and hip-hop. Most of the time I’m annoyed with today’s R&B, it tries to be too much like hip-hop and not enough like itself. It’s not creating a lot of newness within it’s own foundation. I’m overly skeptical of the categorizations to begin with, it’s too boxed in. But on the other hand, over the past decade we have seen some really creative artists coming out of what is typically referred to as R&B. Though often too much imitations, duplications, and artists who cover past hits, or put their own lyrics over old soul tones. I love Mary J. to def, ‘cuz to me, though not the best singer in the world, she’s emotive. She brings those gutturals deep down from the depths of her pussy. That’s right, I said it. But I didn’t coin it myself. I think I first heard a statement like that when Karen R. Good put it down writing about Mary J. in the Village Voice awhile back. And when I read it, I was like yeah, that’s it. But her latest efforts are much like the stuff I was talking about being disappointed with. I do feel what artists like Erykah Badu put out there, because you either gotta’ love her or hate her, and there is no in between. She’s doing that real artist shit just like Prince did, and now that’s the same thing that Andre 3000 of Outkast is attempting to do.

Basically, I feel there are a lot of people who can really sing, but most of the time their lyrics aren’t saying anything and they’re not pushing boundaries with the music. If you asked me about the state of hip-hop, you would’ve gotten a dissertation. Funny thing is everyone thinks I’m this big hip-hop head, when I actually listen to all genres of music. What’s been classified as electronica and acid jazz is what I really like. Those folks do something different. Those folks push boundaries. And of course, I love my straight-ahead jazz and house/dance music will always be a favorite.
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Why Do You Create: Duron

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What is your relationship to art? Talk about your preoccupations, aims, desires.

Well-known MOMA curator and art writer Kirk Varnadoe was asked “as a gifted artist student, why didn’t you pursue art as opposed to art history and writing as a career, his answer was “I really didn’t feel that I had anything to say.” Anyone familiar with Varnadoe’s career, knows that’s bullsh*t, he was a brilliant curator and writer. I, on the other hand, have a big mouth and have plenty to say, I say it visually. As an emerging artist, my primary preoccupation is creating the work and having it seen.

What type of artist would you call yourself and why? For example, are you a folk artist, Post-modernist, impressionist? Is there even a word for what you do?

I’m a visual artist. Period.

What mediums do commonly you work in?

I use a variety of mediums, lately paint; in my mixed media work (collage, and assemblage) I use appropriated images, or images I create myself through photography or digital media, in addition to found objects and materials. I’m currently working on a painting/printmaking project on paper that’s culminated into a digital piece that I’d like to see exhibited together as one large installation.

Talk about your latest works.

I’m currently working on a series of full body prints exploring the ontology of black men; each print creates a unique mark or symbol, cataloguing and indexing the male figure; creating a figurative language, like word to page, narrating a way of being. As I started accumulating prints, I wanted to see them really large, subsequently, I created an animation of the prints making them expand and contract; projecting the prints larger in scale.

Name three artists whose work you enjoy and why.

I have a lot of favorites, from a variety of genres, but Cy Twombly’s mark making, and his very simple palette, he was one of the first artist that inspired me, I wanted to make marks just like him. His “scribbles” are compelling, I can WATCH (yes WATCH) them for hours. I’m not a big fan of Twombly’s later sculptures. I dig the crudeness and honesty of Basquiat; his palette, subject matter, and cleverness. Yves Klein, was a weirdo genius, always in search of the sublime, my current series of body prints are inspired by
Klein.

Describe the painting in the picture, its name, how was it created, when, why?

The painting in the picture is called “hokakes,” it’s a body print of my best friend’s ass; “hokakes” happens to be my nickname for him. How it was procured is funny as sh*t, but way too long get into here.

How do you think that black art, of for that matter, art in general, enriches the lives of people of African descent, of the world?

As Africans in this hemisphere, our contribution to western culture is unequivocal. From the blues, to jazz, to hip-hip, the images of Bearden to Basquiat; all emerged from our unique ability to transform the mundane into the sublime. Africans of the Diaspora wouldn’t have survived without the richness of our culture; art, music, dance, textiles, etc.. Art for Africans has always been the physical culmination of Spirit.

Dualities: The Redux

Dualities and a Whole Self: Taking Pride in Healing. See original

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Masculinity is more than penis and testicles, as femininity is more than vagina and ovaries. We mistakenly ascribe these attributes to a person as if they were the only factor in one’s mental and spiritual make-up.

While sticking my tongue in my lover’s, a-hem, throat one night, I told him how I felt about the beauty of being born of both sexes. All of us have the resources of feminine and masculine energies, and we are perpetually engaging with other feminine and masculine energies, all in one body, to more or lesser degrees. This is the way of the world.

Dig, if it’s true that we’re born of both sexes, then it follows that we also possess the spiritual resources of both sexes. In his seminal essay “Here Be Dragons,” the late-great James Baldwin describes familiar sites in which we conceive ourselves:

There seems to be a vast amount of confusion in the western world concerning these matters, but love and sexual activity are not synonymous: Only by becoming inhuman can the human pretend that they are… In other words, it is not possible for the human being to be as simple as a stallion or a mare, because the human imagination is perpetually required to examine, control and redefine reality, of which we must assume ourselves to be the center and the key.
(from “The Price of the Ticket,” 1985. Full citation below.)

When we do not recognize, or actively ignore, Baldwin’s keen observations, problems arise. Every society has rituals or rites concerned with separating boys and girls, females from males. I question the importance in this ritual: what end does it serve? How is it valuable for anyone to deny one part of himself or herself? Why do we have to be boys and girls, men and women, and that’s it? How can one liberate one’s soul stuff to become only one thing? How can one separate this innate quality, this stuff comparable to nothing else in this universe? How can anyone survive (or rather live) and not acknowledge this fact?

It isn’t easy to become a man in the United States. Or a woman, for that matter. Problems manifest in childhood when you, the boy child, find out you’re acting too much like a girl; or you, the girl child, are told that a lady crosses her legs when she sits down, not leaving the view (meaning herself) wide open. As a child, I remember very vividly what it was like to become a boy. Like most children, boys and girls alike, I wasn’t born “that way.” I was forced into a social contract based on the shape of my genitalia.

My Uncle Bobby took me and my siblings out on a fishing trip when I was seven years old. While we were loading up the car with fish and supplies, I remember using the word “cute” to describe a dog that happened to pass by.

“Cute?” Uncle Bobby repeated to me.
“Yeah, cute,” I answered.
“Boys don’t say the word ‘cute,’ ” he stopped and looked me dead in the eye. “Only girls say the word ‘cute.’ Or a sissy. You ain’t a sissy, are you?”
I didn’t know what a “sissy” was, but it didn’t sound like a good thing, so I said, “no.”
“Okay then,” he said, satisfied that I got his point.
No, I wasn’t a “sissy.”
But what was I?
The one thing I did know was that dog was cute.
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Happy B-Day to Me, I’m 38!

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Photo by Donald Andrew Agarrat, 2003.

I know I am supposed to write something deep, because it’s my birthday, but I got nothing. I’m just pleased to be here living the way I want to. Okay, so here’s a sampling from a book I am currently working on:

Atoms
by Steven G. Fullwood

Every second
Of every day
You are here

You break up
Explode into millions of shards
Impacting everyone
With your small concerns
Your yearnings, cravings.

You don’t think we notice
But we do, baby
We just busy exploding
Passing your essence
As it travels
Unravels
Toward our mouths
And hearts

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget—

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget—

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget—

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget.

Happy B-Day to Me, I’m 38!

Stevie 16.jpg

Photo by Donald Andrew Agarrat, 2003.

I know I am supposed to write something deep, because it’s my birthday, but I got nothing. I’m just pleased to be here living the way I want to. Okay, so here’s a sampling from a book I am currently working on:

Atoms
by Steven G. Fullwood

Every second
Of every day
You are here

You break up
Explode into millions of shards
Impacting everyone
With your small concerns
Your yearnings, cravings.

You don’t think we notice
But we do, baby
We just busy exploding
Passing your essence
As it travels
Unravels
Toward our mouths
And hearts

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget—

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget—

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget—

And when we explode together
We embarrassed
Because our nakedness
Reveals
What we’d all soon forget.

DUMB SHIT

Condoleeza.bmp
A credit or debit to the race? You decide.

New York Magazine is a stupid magazine with bad articles. My roomie subscribed to it by accident thinking that I wanted it. No, what I wanted was the New Yorker where the writing is considerably better and the stories assume you have a soupcon of intelligence so they don’t talk down to you. This is one of the reasons why I stopped freelancing. The magazines I worked for had no ovaries (Note: isn’t it time to celebrate the vagina and ITS strength?). I personally know several editors who were (and probably still are) too afraid to publish groundbreaking and relevant writing that treats non-heterosexual New World African people like humans because it may offend readers, or, God-forbid, the Almighty Sponsor.

But back to New York magazine. I hate it when magazines assume that their audience is mostly a bunch of idiotic trendy bastards who just want to be and play it safe and occasionally get their big toe wet. Now, I offer a few thoughts about the crap de la crap I read in the New York magazine that set me the fuck off this morning.

The (most) offending article: “It’s Their Party,” by Alex Williams. Yeah, and they party like it’s 1499. Williams profiles several young Republicans who live in New York City, who think that their party is the bee-knees, just fine and dandy, up like whoa!

Republicans: Every two or three years, some mainstream rag publishes a story about Republicans. Not just any old Republicans (read: white, male, old as Methusala) but NEW Republicans. Ever interested in finding out about these newfangled Republicans, I read the story. Just as I thought, there are no new Republicans. Just new bodies who had absorbed bad ideas who are now wasting space on the printed page by offering up pearls of provincialism which were as stale and cold and self-serving when they sprung into the head of the first greedy moron.

Let me say this first: This article is an insult to Republicans everywhere. If these jokers are the cr?me de la cr?me, then the party is in trouble.

First up: Lolita Jackson, black, female, Republican. I think as black (and I guess white) readers we are supposed to be moved to anger that a black person wants to be/is a Republican. I am not. What angers me is that this is recycled crap. Every year some publication drops a piece about black Republicans as if they were an anomaly. They are not. They have been around forever and a day waving their flags while doing “The Hustle” in shackles.

This woman—if the article represents her properly—is a dope in a dress draped in melanin. She starts off by affirming her own sense of blackness (I’m cool. I sing in a jazz-funk bank. I’ve sung at CBGB Gallery! I wear leather pants. It’s all good.”)

Well, not quite, Ms Jackson. What’s not good is defending your blackness to anyone, white, black, blue, whatever. Whenever a black person feels compelled to prove their blackness, it’s a snore. Who really cares if you watch The Parkers or not? This issue is this: Black folk just want to know if you plan sell them down the river for a few dollars. THAT’S why we question your blackness, or rather your HUMANITY. Ms Jackson’s comments tell me more about the racially polarized world she skips about it, than whether I can count on her in race riot (which is doubtful.)

It is also perfunctory when mentioning that you are a Republican, is to reference other black Republicans. Jackson invokes poor old Condoleeza Rice. Jackson beams and says of Ms Rice (no shit) “A black woman with her hand on the button? You gotta love that.” What Ms Jackson doesn’t say—which is equally true—is that Bush has his finger on Condoleeza.

Then she says this dumb shit: “A lot of very educated African Americans, unfortunately, have a herd mentality. They are probably Republicans at heart. If you ask them what they believe, but they just can’t vote Republican. They want to believe that Jesse Jackson is going to lead them to the promise land.”

What the fuck is she talking about?

First, very educated African Americans (and a fussy bunch they are!) are as diverse as everyone else. You can have a Stanley Crouch, a bell hooks, a Shelby Steele, and a Toni Morrison all in the same room and it’s more than likely that they have a variety of viewpoints and political affiliations and loyalties. The only thing that they might have in common is kinky hair (originally). If I am reading correctly, apparently educated black folks can’t be too eduacted because they continue to vote “incorrectly.” Yeah, okay, sister. Whatever.

Then I saw the word “herd” and I thought she must be talking about bison or buffalo, you know, animals black people resemble besides monkeys. The kicker was her mention of Jesse Jackson. Man, is this woman behind the times, or what? When was Jesse in vogue, like, a decade ago? She don’t spend much time thinking out her thoughts, now do she?
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