Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Time's Flying



Like the cliche picture? Yeah? I do as well. As I'm writing this, its 2am in Dublin on Dec 4th, but still Dec 3rd back home. This means I'm only 10 days away from returning to the States! I just completed my last 9am-6pm class day here in Dublin, which really signifies to me that my time is here is coming to a rapid end. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the hard part of my week, since I actually have class all day long, so to get past the final week of actual class means a lot. Next week, we have rehearsal and our big Showcase, so its basically tech week/scrub down the apartment week. Easy, at least on the performance side of things.

I haven't fully processed my thoughts on everything yet, so I'm not gonna even attempt to sum anything up or really give you one succinct thought about my experience here (its not like I'm a proponent for brevity anyway, lol). I'm extremely excited to go home, but I'm really comfortable here. I miss my inner circles, both The Coalition & CFW, but I've grown to really care about the other 11 folks I've shared this wonderful experience with. I'm so thankful to have seen so much while over here, but sad to think that I may not be able to travel abroad again for years. These are just the beginning of my thoughts. I hope I'll have a clearer stream of consciousness wrap up (whatever that means? you ever just ask yourself why you say the silly stuff you do?) before I board my plane on the 13th.

Quick plug for my Showcase, which I'll hopefully have some video of next week. For our voice piece, my friend Peter & I are reciting this poem which basically is spoof of Irish myths. I'm the embodiment of this great hero (typecasting, i know) & he is telling my story. Let me just give you an idea of what's going to take place: bongos + shirtless Kevin + the spirit of Right Said Fred (I'm Too Sexy) + Usain Bolt impersonation + Elvis impersonation (complete with pelvic thrusts) + Afro wig & sunglasses + cupping breasts (my imaginary ones) + King Arthur's foam sword + He-Man pose = A Legendary Performance.

Wish y'all could be here.

Peace & Blessings!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Couch Potato Musings

Let's see, its 9pm on a Saturday night. Where am I? On my couch, watching British Cops on TV, trying to decide what DVD I'm gonna pop in for the night. This is where the real Kevin exists. I do some of my best thinking during times like these. Here are some random thoughts that have come across my mind recently:

  • I watched Alien for the first time (believe it or not) last night. Wow. That's all I can say, what a classic. I was curled up, scared as hell from a movie made in 1979! Talk about standing the test of time.
  • I got hit by a car today. Obviously, I'm fine because I'm writing this to post, but it pissed me off. I'm just walking across the street jammin to the new Murs CD, I'm right in front of this small SUV while its waiting to turn onto the main road, and outta nowhere they hit the gas & bump my ass! Luckily, I was far enough away that I ain't get bumped too hard. Europeans can't drive, I am now convinced.
  • Did you know that Michael Jackson's Bad was supposed to be a Best of Both Worlds style collabo with Prince?!?!?! Like, they we're about to do an album together! How sick would that of been? They had creative differences, so it never came to fruition though.
  • I read a story on Michael Vick the other day that detailed how he became bankrupt. I officially have no sympathy for his situation. I know its old, but when everything first went down, I wasn't on his side. Black people, especially in Atlanta, went beside themselves to defend him & say that he was being railroaded. I started to empathize with him a lil bit, so I just viewed it as unfortunate. Now after this stuff being put out there, it confirmed my first instinct that he was just a dumbass with $130 million & karma got his stupid self.
  • The one thing I miss more than anything right now is somebody to debate Hip-Hop with. I got maaaaaad new music on my ipod, its been a good year for Rap, and I have nobody to debate this stuff with. I'm almost tempted to start hitting up these rap message boards, but I can't deal with internet thugs, so hopefully I don't get desperate.
  • I wanna start freestylin'. Not to be a rapper myself, but it would just be fun to start a cypher & make up stupid rhymes. Any takers? Who wanna battle me?
  • I did this Conflict Mediation role play today (which paid 40 euros) where a friend and I played an ex couple with a child, and we were getting mediation to work out our custody issues without the courts. We had a guideline w/ background information, but basically had to improv everything else. I learned that having a child really is something that I know little about & that having kids out of wedlock sucks. I got a headache acting out this imaginary scenario, so I definitely wouldn't wanna deal with the complication of sharing custody with an ex in real life.
  • I want comic books for Christmas. What a strange turn of events, I get into comic books at 21 years old. Movies play such a influential role in my life. Is that a good thing?
  • There is this show over here called Boozed Up Brits Abroad. Its exactly what the title implies. Never ever will I be ashamed to be American because of a minority of jackasses. I'm convinced every country has their own jackasses that are just as dumb.
  • I miss my siblings. I haven't seen one of my sisters is a couple years & I just found out that I'll see her during the holidays. I'm really excited about it. Its crazy to think that all of us are almost grown now. I smell a family portrait coming soon.
  • I'm trying really hard not to gain a caffine addiction. This past week, the miracle of coffee really hit me & I started making pit stops before class to pick up a cup of java. And every time I walk past my neighborhood Starbucks, I'm terribly tempted to stop in & get the new Dark Cherry Mocha coffee. This has got to stop. I also have a taste for Hennessy. I don't know why, I hardly ever drink it. What is going on with me?
Aiight man, its time to pick a movie. Devil In A Blue Dress wins. Denzel & Don Cheadle, its time for inspiration. I'll holla at y'all later.

Peace & Blessings!

How To Spend Thanksgiving Abroad

What up, what's happenin' folk? Thanksgiving has come and passed & I'm definitely thankful to say that I had a great alternative to our beloved American holiday. I was a little worried about how it would go earlier this week. I had just come back to Rome (I'll speak on that soon), had a paper to write, was stuck in my typical end of the semester depression (Side Note: Can we get a diagnosis on that? I'm saying, if seasonal affective disorder is real, should they have something like semester pressure disorder? I'ma have to get up with Morehouse School of Medicine & step my pharmacuetical game up), and had mad stuff to rehearse for our Showcase (Dec. 10th! eek!), so I wasn't in the typical Thanksgiving mood when Thursday rolled around.

It started hit me real hard: no football, no cranberry sauce, no long ass wait for dinner (lol, maybe that wasn't too bad. haha.), but most importantly no holding hands with my kinfolk, praying, and then breaking bread. But I made peace with it & reminded myself that I have very little to complain about in comparision to all that I'm blessed with, so let's get it in at dinner. IES, our program, had reservations for everyone (like 50 people) to have a special Thanksgiving dinner at Town Bar & Grill. This was a big thing, since Thanksgiving doesn't exsit out of the US & the restaurant was nice enough to make a specialized menu for us with a turkey dish & pumpkin pie for dessert.

Now from the name of the place, I didn't know how nice the place was gonna be. It sounded kinda homely, a comfortable type restaurant. Naw brotha, this joint was a classy, sophisticated, white tablecloth type spot. Of course, as soon as I staked out a corner table for the group I was with, I headed straight to the bathroom to put the restaurant to ultimate test. You know a place isn't high quality unless they have a clean & efficient bathroom. Walk in, I see shining bathroom fixtures & clean tiles, actuall stalls (hit me up if you wanna know why this is such a nice thing, I don't wanna spoil the story with TMI), and they got actual hand towel instead of paper towels, so this place is already batting 1.000 with me.

Everyone finally gets to dinner, the wine is poured, the conversation begins flowing smoothly & Thanksgiving is starting to feel like home in a new way. We waited until after our first course to share what we were thankful for, but when we did, it was such a beautiful moment. Being able to open up and be reflective and vulnerable with a group of strangers (here meaning people that don't know you very well) is such a invaluable experience. I get a chance to see that so much every summer at MLW, but because of that I always forget about the small miracles that can be made the same way through theater. Wine, gourmet food, clean bathrooms and a nice circle of friends is definitely a great alternative to the Thanksgiving traditions I've loved all my life.

Side story: So we're usually on a 1 or 2 drink limit at IES paid-for outings. Not a problem at dinner cause I like to savor my wine, I ain't gonna be knocking it back anyway. Well, we're going around saying what we're thankful for, complete with cheers at the end of each mini-speech. There are 7 people at our table, so you can imagine that my glass of wine ain't lasting too long with all these cheers to go around. We're joking about this & then see the waitress over at another IES table re-filling glasses & then my roommate comes over laughing about how the waitress filled his glass up to the top. So, I'm thinking we're on a 2 drink limit tonight. Cool. I down my drink during the cheers & just wait for the waitress to come top us off. Well, 10 minutes later, I'm having a conversation with someone & I see that my wine glass has disappeared. Not cool, Joe. Everyone else still has their glasses & has wine, so I'm paranoid like who stole my drink? I ask a waitress about it & she shuts me down with the quickness like "You're only allowed 1 drink. You'll have to speak to the hostess if you want more wine." I'm feeling slighted, cause I saw the other waitress re-filling, but I just gotta suck it up and enjoy my main course with a glass of water instead. You know a brotha can't show out over a glass of wine when a) I ain't paying for the dinner anyway b) I'm the only black person in the spot c) its a super classy, white tablecloth joint d) our group consists of toddlers compared to the other patrons in the restaurant (you woulda swore it was 65+ date night in there). Its whatever, everyone else offered their wine to me (so I got mine), but still there are principalities to this shit, Smokey! lol

Pics:





(I got mad compliments for my shirt. Two things Kevin shouldn't have at once: wine & compliment. Swagger is at 100 right now!)

Most Anticipated Movie of 2009



Its nearing really close to the end of the year, which means its finally appropriate to look into the future with joy & excitement to discuss what movies we're most looking forward to. While everyone is excited for big budget and/or big name flicks such as Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, etc etc (which I am too, trust), the one movie I'm hyped to see is called Black Dynamite. Its a spoof of the 70's Blaxploitation films & is too dead on not to be a cult classic. Check out the trailer here. After watching the trailer, check out this hilarious promo video featuring a young'n named Barry:


video

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Rose That Grew From Concrete Still Has Thorns

I'm sitting here watching a CNBC re-broadcasting of Jay Leno & Conan O'Brien (I have a sick addiction to late night TV) and I'm suffering from a severe bout of writer's block. I've got a 2,000 word essay for my Movement class due on Tuesday (Thank God, I'll have Monday to procrastinate) and I can't think of any decent way to start the paper. Its another one of these open ended, BS essays that asks you to discuss some random paragraph long quote. No author, no context, just given to us to interpret & relate to our experience somehow. Shoot, it sounds like the professor just opened a book & pulled a random, nice sounding quote out of it at 11:52 the night beforehand. And you wonder why we students procrastinate? Anyway, I was looking for something to write about & get some exercise for the brain muscle, then I remembered that I wrote blog post in my journal last week. So, I'm gonna use this space to exercise my brain & hopefully be slightly entertaining as well.

Its been just over 2 weeks since Barack became our President elect. Elation, pride, & relief could be felt as soon as the final image was final projected on our TV screens. We had done it. We finally got it right. Our voice will finally be reflected in our Government (fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that good stuff; I got the 4 leaf clovers too, so we're covered). And until we the brotha takes office, we're all gonna party (literally and figuratively) like its 2099. We got white people blasting will.i.am's Obama songs in celebration, while the Us's are bumpin Jeezy's "My President Is Black" like its our new national anthem. But what happens when the party's over? What happens when the reality sets in that this brotha ain't the only person with a job to do?

The aftermath after this momentous occasion has left me feeling a little unsettled though. It seems like some people's rationality has been blinded by our good fortune and faith. It reminds me of the unsettled feeling you get sometimes after eating a really good meal. I know its a random metaphor, but let me explain myself. It's like we've been eating poorly for years (a Super Size Me last 8 years) and then we get the bright idea to get in better shape before we really hit rock bottom. So we spend all day cooking & finally get this healthy, energy boosting meal to feast on. We're drinking red wine with it, feeling so good that we start to sing and dance with whoever is around, but in the midst of it all, our stomach still rumbles a lil bit. We may wanna forget, but we can't shake the fact that our body is still sick & that one healthy feast ain't gonna cure us no time soon. Once again, I admit its strange, but it serves its purpose.

From damn near every Irish person I spoke with last week, I heard that "America's back!" and that we've instantly got our credibility back. Then I started hearing from celebrities & public figures such as Oprah, Will Smith, and Al Sharpton (I already know, but lemme make my point) that "Black people's excuses are all gone" and "Rappers will have to change their image since Barack will be the new image of Black cool". After those statements, I'm reading some of my favorite political blogs and seeing comments from Black conservatives gloating about how the rest of the Us's would start coming over to their way of thinking now that we can see that hardwork alone can afford us the same opporuntity as anyone else in this country. No matter how ridiculous these statements are, the sentiment that reeks from them diminishes the history of African-Americans and lacks the nuance and thoughtfulness that would appropriately reflect Obama's triumph.

At first, I just brushed it all off. Its whatever, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But eventually, it started to irk me. It ain't just a matter of opinion, some stuff is just wrong. I mentioned in another post how it irked me when some of my fellow American classmates over here act all ashamed of being American in front of our Irish counterparts. So, now I'm starting to take offense to Irish folk (and I'm sure the rest of Europe too) telling me that America instantly has regained credibility. You ain't gotta tell me about Bush's fuckups, I remember both elections clearly & knew better than to vote for his dumbass back in 2000 (and I was only 13!), but let's not act get too crazy now. America's still at the top of the food chain & if we ain't doin good there's gonna be major rammifications for everybody else (i.e. the economy), so stop throwing rocks at the throne.

As for Will & Oprah, I love y'all, but Negroes please! Stop peddling this idea that all Black people do is complain about our situation & racial harmony has arrived. Y'all just got another in your stratosphere of mega successful Black people who White people don't necessarly think of as "Black" anymore, but that don't mean that you gotta throw the rest of us under the bus. There ain't but so much room in your category, so instead of acting like we all should be where y'all are at (which is an impossibility in our capitalistic society) maybe y'all should help us do better at our level. Some of us aren't making excuses, but rather looking at facts & reading up on our history and asking why so much has stayed the same as we've progressed so far. Instead of being helpful with those soundbites, they're up there stiring the pot of confusion.

Al Sharpton. I respect dude's history & his efforts on behalf of our civil rights, but he stays losin when it comes to speaking on Hip-Hop (among other things). Yeah, Barack is cool as a polar bear's toenails (OutKast all day, ery'day), even Ebony magazine said so. But does he think that we can only have one image of cool at a time? Just as 50 Cent only represents a small portion of us, Barack only represents a portion of us too. What Hip-Hop needs, and this specifically applies to its images, is balance. At one time, you could hear Biz Markie on the radio as much as Kool G Rap. Beautiful, that's what we need. Little Brother should get as much play as G-Unit. Wale should be as uqibutous as Lil Wayne. And Jim Jones, Shawty Lo, and Soulja Boy should be silenced forever. That would improve the image problem in Hip-Hop & for Black youth, not just funneling kids from one image to the other.

I'm not even gonna waste my fingers (pause) on them Black conservatives. To even be one means that they're past talking to or about. But I suppose my point is that what happened on Nov. 4th, as of right now, only means that we're willing to give change a chance. Whether it really happens or not is up to us. The economy is still in the tank, we're still at war, still occupying other countries, still racially divided, still denying rights to homosexuals, still underpaying teachers & underfunding schools, etc etc. For every good thing we have going, we got another huge issue to face, and so is life. Let's keep that in perspective as we continue to move on from here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Humor Is My Anti-Drug


This weekend, I decided that I was staying in & taking some me time. Last week, I had a paper to write (which means procrastinating until the wee hours of the morning), Obama got elected (which means i had every excuse to lose my mind, but didnt since there weren't any other Black people around), then went to Northern Ireland for the weekend (which means, I spent too many hours sleeping on buses and in a hostel). I say all of this to illustrate the cloud of mental exhaustion that followed me around all week. Reminds me of a Nas line, "Born alone, die alone, no crew to keep my crown or throne/I'm deep by sound alone, caved inside in a thousand miles from home/I need a new n***a, for this black cloud to follow/Cause while it's over me it's too dark to see tomorrow".

Now my week wasn't that bad, in fact I enjoyed most of it, but still it completely turned me off to doin it big this weekend. Plus, add in the fact that I'd going to Rome to see my lady next weekend (I'm geeked up; go on & hate me now), it wouldn't make sense to overexert myself & have to stumble through another exhausting week. Damn, now I've rambled on for a paragraph & half without getting to my point. Here it is: I was killing time online & came across the season finale of Real Time w/ Bill Maher. It was hilarious as usual, totally cheered me up, and hit some points I was getting ready to post about soon (I will throw my two cents in, just cause). Check out the end of his show, with one of my favorite New Rules sections ever.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheers!

(A Gorgeous Night, captured by moi)
(ROAR! lol)
(One of the coolest pieces of art in the British Museum)
(In front of the stage at The Globe Theater)
(Jesus In The Sand, on the River Thames)

These are just a couple random photos to give you a taste of my London trip. I took 300 photos during a 5 day trip, so these are just scratching the surface of what I saw & experience over in the Queen's hometown. This trip was probably the best part of my time abroad so far. I don't say that to discount Dublin in any way, because I've had & continue to have great times here, but during the London trip, everything came together for me. It was the perfect mix of exploration, discovery, education, inspiration, freedom, and comfort all in one vacation. Yes, I viewed this a vacation. Primarily, I thought of it like that because it was the only way I could mentally prepare for it without negative thoughts creeping in. You try traveling with the same group of 12 people who you've spent the last 6 six weeks in class with. I got nothing but love for the group, they're great folks, but spending as much time with each other as we do can make a brotha get agitated from time to time.

But I ain't tryin to dwell on any negative worries, let me tell y'all about the awesomeness of my time in the home of the Union Jack. 5 plays in 3 days, this was the plan & as you can tell, the itinerary was tight. On the first day, we got in, checked into our ridiculous hostel (more on that in a sec), and had about an hour to ourselves before we headed off for our first show. We had been up extra early, around 6am since we had to be at the airport at 7:30am that morning, so that first play (Creditors by Alan Strindberg; highly recommended) was a little rough to sit through. After the show & some dinner, we returned to our hostel & decided that we'd be better off staying in & getting some sleep rather than prowling around the city. Let me tell you about this hostel then. It's called The Generator and in my guidebook, it was listed as one of the most popular hostels in London. Sounds wonderful, right? Well, it wasn't exactly the dream hostel. First, true to its name, the hostel had a cheesy power plant motif to its design. Neon lights, sheet metal, orange & blue walls, a little metal fencing thrown in for good measure...you get the general idea. Next, the place is massive; there were about 800 people staying at the hostel. We saw at least 3 huge 20-25 people groups checking in while we were there, so just imagine the madness that could arise from such a scenario. On both the plus & minus side of things was the Generator Bar. On the plus side, the drink were cheap & the house mixed drinks were quality. On the minus side, the bar had these themed nights for each night of the week & we happened to check in on Karoke Night (insert horror movie music here). If you thought Karoke was bad in the States, conjure up a visual of a motely crew of foreigners taking turns butchering popular American songs from the 80s & 90s. It would of taken all of my dough for the trip to drink away the embarassment I felt for them as I killed time playing the world's worst game of snooker (the British cousin of pool). Actually, I think my snooker skills complimented the singing pretty well. A shame indeed, a shame indeed.

The next day we had free time around the city, went to see 2 shows, and were given a tour of The Globe theater. I got a chance to kill the majority of my free time in the National Museum (I'll pontificate on museums and such in another post) & then got my grub on over at Camden Market. The best part of the day though was our Indian dinner, which ended up being more of a feast than anything. This was an IES sponsored event, which meant they were picking up the check, which further meant I was indulging myself thoroughly. We get to the restaurant, Kwality, around 5:30pm & the fun started from there. Our program director, Ashley (its a dude), made the mistake of telling us that we could order like 3 or 4 appetizers & some drinks to start. Of course, we're getting the most delicious sounding dishes (sorry I don't remember them) and poppin' bottles of red & white wine to rinse our palettes with. He also orders us like 5 bowls of rice & mad naan on the side. What about dinner you ask? Why of course we get our choice of entree, no questions asked, so I really didn't want to imagine what that final bill looked like. For whatever reason, probably cause we we're shutting that place down, it was taking forever for our meals to come, which can only mean one thing: drink more wine. You know how a nice glass of wine enhances conversation? (isn't that like a scientific fact? if not, i'll prove it soon) Well, let's just say that we had more fun talking about any & everything than we had in awhile. When the food finally came, we stuffed our faces so much that even the White folk were scared about getting the itis. I've grown to really enjoy Indian food & its something I can imagine myself being completely in love with.

Saturday, day three. Alright, so you know that no trip anywhere is complete without a mention of one my embarassing moments. Ok, I have a reputation here for falling asleep during plays. I have my reasons for why this happens, but at the end of the day nobody listens to my valid excuses. Well, in order to keep myself from falling asleep, I decided that I would adapt my reliance on movie snack to include a reliance on play snacks also. My theory is that if snacked on something whenever I felt myself start to dose, I'd prevent myself from falling alseep & give me a quick dose of energy as well. Well, that reasoning definitely came back to bite me in the ass during our 4th London theater visit. We saw this show called Six Characters In Search of an Author (not my taste) and it was in this beautiful old Victorian theatre in the West End. Sometime during the second act, when my attention was grabbed again, there was a really quiet part where one of the main characters in the show was going through this revelation. I'm sitting there munching on my skittles, I finish the couple I have in my hand, and reach for another handful. I'm trying to be as quiet as possible, so I'm slowly reaching my hand into the bag sitting in my lap, but since I'm distracted by the play I'm not watching what I'm doing, and the next thing you know...Spppppssshhhhhh! The damn skittles splash all over the floor in front of me, in the middle of a classy West End theater. D'oh! Everyone heard & I know all the folks in my program knew it was my i'gnant self, so I was past embarassment at this point. Thankfully, my incident was trumped by a little old lady, about 6 rows up from me, later in the show. At the end of the show, one of the characers commits suicide & she shouts out "Come on! This is rubbish!" in her strong British accent, all while everyone else it silent & the stage lights are beginning to go out. People started giggling & let's just say that her sentiment was shared and the crowd showed this in their applause. Every show I've seen in Europe has had a double bow, meaning that they come back out to take a second, or sometimes even third, bow because the audience was so strong. This time, not so much; they barely received the double bow.

Ok, its extremely late as I'm writing this, so I'mma call it a night. More on London soon. I havent talked about my personal renaissance or the museums or seeing friends, so there's much more where this came from.

Peace & Blessings, y'all.