Archive for October, 2009

Just Stunning

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 30, 2009 by thebibliophile

Kerry Washington


Rod Stewart Teaches Us to Have Soul

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 by thebibliophile

Ok. Whose idea was it to let Rod Stewart release his Soulbook album, singing the way, “only his unique voice can.” ? Somehow I am supremely annoyed by this. I just don’t understand why this is happening.

Is Rod Stewart really that cool?  What is going on? There’s no way that Rod Stewart is going to be able to sing any of these songs, better than the performers who originated them.

The whole thing feels a little bit Elvis Presley-esque to me. It represents a history of white artists covering music originally recorded by Black musicians – and producing, in some, but certainly not all cases, less compelling music, while the role of Black culture in pop music becomes eclipsed. Keven Phinney wrote about this in his book, Souled American: How Blck Music Transformed White Culture. 

 A white artists of dubious talent covering and releasing soul songs from currently living Black artists, in a way that is designed to up his “rock and roll,” or  smooth and cool industry credibility reads problematic to me.  I don’t see how this album will keep Rod Stewart relevant….maybe that’s just me. It is not like Rod Stewart is Robin Thicke, Dave Matthews, Pete Seeger, John Mayers or even Michael Bolton…yes I did just reference Michael Bolton (but he can sing, kind of, better than Rod Stewart at least). It’s Rod Stewart! Where is the talent. This ploy isn’t original, but it is still irksome.

I’m plum puzzled.

Somehow this represents the complete downfall of culture in the U.S. to me. You can read more about covers and culture in the music industry here in a Time Magazine article and here.

Looklet Look of the Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 28, 2009 by thebibliophile

look image

Oprah, Accents & Black Masculinity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 27, 2009 by thebibliophile

Why is it that whenever Oprah goes anywhere and meets someone with an accent, she starts mimicking the accent, even when her own imitated accent is nowhere near imitating the accent of the person to whom she’s speaking?  I’m really confused by this behavior.  


Oprah & Jay-Z from O Magazine's October 2009 Issue. Photo Credit Unknown


And in other Oprah news, recently I read O Magazine’s interview with Jay-Z. I don’t know why, but this interchange between Oprah and Jay-Z seemed so revealing to me:  

O: How were you in school? I’ve heard that when you were in the sixth grade, you tested at a 12th-grade level.  

Jay-Z: I was bored and distracted.  

O: Did you like anything about school?  

Jay-Z: I loved English  

O: I know you love to read now. Were books part of your childhood?  

Jay-Z: No. I don’t remember that.  

O: And I thought we had so much in common!  

Jay-Z: I jut daydreamed a lot.  

O: You didn’t listen in class, you didn’t read books – and you still tested as a 12th grader. You must have a naturally high IQ.  

Jay-Z: Or I’m an idiot savant.  

Good one Jay-Z. Good one. What I found in this interview, is that despite some of the interchanges, in which you can see Oprah doesn’t fully understand the hip-hop generation, Jay-Z’s adultness still comes through. I am particularly struck by how Jay-Z positions and frames his own masculinity. His discussion of what it was like to grow up as the youngest of several brothers, of his father walking out on his family because of his own pain, and how dealing with his issues with his father opened the door to his being able to genuinely love a womyn and become a partner and husband.   

While Chris Rock is busy suggesting that hair that Black men can run their fingers through might help intimacy between Black men and womyn, Jay-Z has another idea, pointing to his own relationship with masculinity and his father. He tells Oprah,”Because when you’re growing up, your dad is your superhero. Once you’ve let yourself fall that in love with someone, once you put him on such a high pedestal and he lets you down, you never want to experience that pain again. So I remember just being really quiet and really cold. never wanting to let myself get close to someone like that again.” 

There’s a great deal of strength and vulnerability in that statement, even as it follows the same path of other narratives of Black male identity. What makes Jay-Z’s statement slightly different to me is that he is talking specifically about feeling abandoned by a parent. He doens’ say he wasn’t able to learn to be a man, or that his mother couldn’t raise a man, he implies instead, that he had to deal with his sense of abandonment from childhood. 

Jay-Z also works to position the womyn in his life, explaining how his mother helped facilitate his healing around his father’s abandonment. It’s just such a thoughtful, beautiful, and honest discussion about fatherhood, expectations for family, and love. 

 Speaking of how Black masculinity has evolved over the last 20 years: 

Infographic Maps

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 26, 2009 by thebibliophile

The 2009 CSS awards have been given, and I’m particularly interested in the winners for  the “30 Best Infographic Maps.” Above, is a map that looks at both the location and gross income of McDonald’s and Starbucks. Not only do McDonald’s and Starbucks make billions in the U.S., but their placement globally has spread – even in locations that have a rich history of coffee bean cultivation; though this I imagine has stymied much of Starbuck’s growth. You can see a larger version of this interactive map here.

The map looking at health care costs by state is particularly pertinent giving all the debates about health care costs. Two words: public option.

To see a larger version of this map, check it out here. What I like about these maps is that they both tell a story, deal with a great deal of information, and do so over a large geographic area. Which is great for visual learners and those who need more guidance or support when looking at and understanding data. It makes the information more accessible, and I would argue, easier to digest and convey.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 by thebibliophile


Yinka Shonibare Mbe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 22, 2009 by thebibliophile

Artist Yinka Shonibare Mbe will have an exhibit up at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC.  In an interesting new move for this particular museum, they’ve posted a blog, Yinka Shonibare Mbe at the NMAfA, about the installation of the show. You can check out the blog here.

You can learn more about Yinka Shonibare Mbe , via the great Art 21 blog, here. This looks like its going to be a good exhibit.

The Swing (after Fragonard)," 2001. Collection of Tate Britain (purchased 2002). Courtesy the Artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.