Sunday, January 11, 2009

Such a good week...

All week I've been trying to get my thoughts together and bang 'em out on this keyboard, but I'm just getting around to it... and between my crazy sleep schedule, my even crazier social schedule, and my addictive Facebook schedule, there's been a lot for me to recount. So here goes....

On Tuesday I started a blog called "On making MAGIC! (Talkin bout Ella's blue skies magic :)"but never got around to finishing it though here's what I wrote:

Blue skies, Smiling at me, Nothing but blue skies, Do I see, Bluebirds, Singing a song, Nothing but bluebirds, All day long. Never saw the sun shining so bright, Never saw things going so right, Noticing the days hurrying by, When you're in love, my how they fly. Blue days, All of them gone, Nothing but blue skies, From now on...

Jesus is REAL, and I thank him for the predestined blessings that unfold in my life in the most unexpected of ways :) AND for guiding my footsteps each and every day. Amen.


Tonight's blessing unfolded in the most magical of ways. Like that magic you see in the cartoons where there's all kind of sparkles and colors and wind and majesty in the air. That kind of magic! It started about four weeks ago, when a dear sisterfriend of mine approached me with the proposal to do a studio recording of my "Ella Phantz-Gerald: The Jazz Singing Elephant" story. (A story I wrote two years ago for a character I conceived seven years ago. So I guess that means it started in 2002.) I was overjoyed by this suggestion, but I knew that I didn't/don't have money to go in and record at a studio because that's just not a luxury I can afford right now. But don't you know she told me not to worry about it, that she would take care of it because she really wanted me to come and record the story for her "Shine Your Light" Project, a benefit project for children in need living in MA. She had already recorded this great Hanna Montanna sounding song also called "Shine Your Light" for the benefit and was positively adamant that "Ella" should be a part of the project. She had me at "RECORD!" I was alll for it! So once we decided that it was definitely going down, I had to figure out how I was going to get a musical score for my story. ENTER NJOB and the rest of the talented brethren who I love and support as musician friends here in the City. I decided that I was just going to ask them to be apart of this project despite the fact that we don't have a budget. Even before this project appeared, it's been my vision to have an audio version of the story with a fun and jazzy accompaniment by bass, piano, trumpet and drums. The first three were no brainers, default go-to's. Finding a drummer took a little bit more effort, but finally the perfect percussionist appeared right in front of me one saturday night, and I was most grateful that the quartet was complete. I had my "Ella Phant-Gerald" band!!!!

That's all I wrote on late Monday night/Tuesday morning. I think it was like 7am or something and I totally was falling asleep. But you get the gist! PURE ADRENALINIC EXCITEMENT because I finally went into the studio to record my Ella Story! Since it is now late Saturday/early Sunday I won't try to finish that blog because, though the excitement has not worn off, the adrenaline has. So the tone of the post will not be the same. And that's alright. I go back into the studio some time next week to finish the narration portion to what we scored on Monday, so perhaps I'll feel like blogging about that once I get home.

As for THE REST OF THE WEEK, let's see if I can sum it really quickly. Well, first let's see if I can remember the whole thing... HAHHAHAHA!

Tuesday was fairly uneventful. Oh WAIT. No it wasn't. Once I finished talking to my dad at like 3:00 in the morning, and started the blog, then decided around 6'ish that I should go to sleep, what do I hear downstairs? My loopy landlord and his henchmen, I mean workmen, doing some kind of house/ceiling repairs in the foyer at like 6:45am. To make matters worse, at precisely 6:53AM this fool starts HAMMERING AND DRILLING in the house, as if it's sometime between 11AM and 2pm in Midtown Manhattan, and everyone is up and out. I couldn't believe it. I sent a text message to my neighbors downstairs like, "Is this fool really using a powerdrill to jackhammer at 6AM IN THE MORNING?????" She hits me back confirming that it was indeed what I heard going on, and that we shouldn't be surprised from The (Crazy Landlord) Show (somebody please cue the theme music)! I hit her back with "Have mercy, this is jackassery run amock!" To which she replied that she might as well go to work three hours early and sleep on her desk. (The couple of days afterward, neighboring households I saw outside asked me what was going on with the hammering and drilling at my house, though THEY BOTH KNEW what was up! Crazy Landlord!)

So. You may ask why we spent so much time text messaging each other back and forth instead of just going out and confronting Crazy Landlord. But I don't think you understand that the "Crazy" in Crazy Landlord is not figurative. This dude drinks a full glass of CRAZY ev-er-y single morning AND takes a crazy-pill at night before bed. So his dosage is HEALTHY (as evident in using a powerdrill and hammer inside of a private house at 6:50AM). The crazy thing is that if his wife is as sweet as saccharin, he is as volatile as poisin. She's constantly apologizing for his inappropriate behavior. I, myself, have gotten into at least one major confrontational blowup with the dude, and I don't get into confrontational blowups. It's not my style. But it IS HIS. And the day I got sick because the heat was not working properly in my apartment, I called him about three times with confrontational encountering that escalated with his coming over, feigning concern and "checking the apartment" while still managing to loud-talk and insult me in his Trini-accent. I was like "(Crazy Landlord) do not insult me. My father doesn't even speak to me that way, so YOU need to stop." Anyway, he and I went back and forth, me trying to reason with his craziness and ran-dumb excuses for why the apartment was freezing, saying crap that ranged from all kind of anythings and flatout lies, but then I had to reign it in and remind myself that you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT reason with a fool. Period. Not a real one. So at 6:53 in the AM, I chose to keep to my own apartment and try to sleep amidst the construction work that apparently couldn't wait til a decent hour. I finally went to sleep, though I was in and out while they worked for the remainder of the day. So I knew that I wasn't gonna be good to go anywhere that day. It worked out since the semester doesn't start until late January, but STILL! I wanted to rest peacefully. Daggonit!

Anyway, that was TUESDAY! LOL... a friend tried to get me to come out late Tuesday night for some live music, but it was freezing rain kinda like tonight, so I stayed my behind right in this house en frente de la computadora. Quite content!

So Wednesday was kinda phenomenal... even though it started out weird. That morning CL and his workers returned, though they weren't drilling and carrying on, but I decided to leave in the AM to go up to the Bronx Library. I passed CL on my way out, an encounter that I did very well in keeping short and cordial, even though he was testing me as much as one can while going down the stairs and out the front door. And that's all I'm gonna say. So I was off to the BX. A trip that proved to be a complete waste of time since they wouldn't let me use the library card I had. Apparently, even if someone else has given you permission to use their card, they will not let you use it without said person being present. But since said person and I will most likely not be present at the same library counter checking out books any time in the foreseeable future, there was nothing I could do to convince the librarian to let me check the books out. And these were books I wanted to peruse to see if I will teach from them once the semester starts... "Where's your card?" she asked, but it's none of her business that I have a $30 fine that I haven't gotten around to paying yet. I mean, I WILL, I just haven't yet. So I ended up having to leave the libary without the books, which caused me to think, "Well if I can't use the card I might as well send it back to (said library card owner)...." Which I probably will if I ever remember to...

So I get back home and since CL was still out front, I went in to check my neighbors, who I hadn't seen in about a week, and had a nice lunch before getting a call from my good high school and college friend, Julia asking me to come shoot some pics of her later that evening while she prepared for the "Notorious" premiere. She's playing "Jan" the Notorious B.I.G.'s first girlfriend and babymama in the film, her first major role in a motion picture and wanted to document her whole getting ready for the red carpet experience. So I left my neighbors' to go home and get a coupla hours of sleep in before going to get my paparazzi on. When I got to the hotel she already looked gorgeous and had her team of hair and makeup putting the finishing touches on her Covergirl face as her mother and sister got fabo as well! The whole time I was like "WERK!!!" *fingersnap*snap*! The excitement and adrenaline was high in the room because, like I said, this was her FIRST PREMEIRE and in such a culturally significant movie. So I got to work with my Canon D60 shooting pics in the room, in the lobby, at the car and at the actual theater while she was on the red carpet, and actually ended up getting a few shots of other well known black entertainers while I was out there (Spike Lee, Tocarra, etc). Straight PAPARAZZI out that piece!! That was crazy! And cool! All at the same time!

While I was out shooting pics, I got a text message from a musician friend that a trumpeter friend of ours was having an impromptu birthday party at his crib. So I left midtown and headed back to BK where the party was. It wasn't anything big, but it was nice to see cool friends outside of the regular "gig" environment, just chilling out with a table full of popcorn, crudite, hummus and KFC. I ended up meeting this producer from Paris who I convinced to give me French lessons in the coming weeks! He agreed, so we'll see. I met a few more people I didn't know, and then noticed my friend who invited me was putting on his coat to get ready to go. So I asked where he was going, and of course I realized that it was WEDNESDAY, which means that he was scheduled to play in NJOB's band at the "Taste The Stage" Open Mic. Since I hadn't been in ages and didn't have to wake up early the next day I told him to hold up so that I could get ready and go with him. So, we leave the birthday party, hail a cab, and are on our way to Clinton Hill to the Spot (on the way I get a cute voicemail from a cute guy serenading me with "The Nearness of You!"), and when I get there NJ is totally glad to see me in the building! I was glad to see him too cause he will always be one of my favorite people in this world! For the record, NJ on bass, J-The Genius on keys, and R. the King on drums with Mr. Rob on the strappy hand held keyboard thing (I think it's called an AX-1) are the absolute ILLEST in New York City on any given night if they are all on the same stage. Hands down. And I was so glad that I took the time to come on through.

And of course I never just SIT down and listen to the music. I'm always UP. Up front, UP DANCING! Listening with my whole body. I'm always dancing up in the Five Spot when they're playing. I can't even help it!!! Just adrenaline pumping excitement at what those cats are delivering! Then the host Jnyse sings his rawhide off EVERY time!! Once the band finished their customary opening jam, the host came and hit the audience off with a rocked-out version of Gnarles Barkley's "Crazy!" for which I provided totally rocked-out background vocals! That was a wild song! Afterwards, I went up and rocked Angie Stone's "Brotha", which was dedicated to all my brothas-from-another-mother in the building. I mixed in my "Old Fashion Girl" spoken word piece as a shout out to the sistren for good measure. And that was cool. The rest of the show was high octane that finally came to an explosive end (during which point I ended up on stage sitting next to the keyboard player while he showed me which keys to hit!) But of course since the musicians still always like to play after the show officially ends and the mic was still hot, I grabbed it and sang a few more songs like Faith Evans "I Remember", Mary J "Be Happy" and it seems like something else?? Oh they started playing "Anniversary" so I just vibed with it for a little while.

But eventually the show REALLY ended and musicians unplugged everything to get ready to get out of dodge. J-The Genius agreed to bring me home but said he needed to stop at this club not to far from the Spot called Sputnik to sign papers for a show his own band will be doing in February. He asked did I mind, and I was like "Man, I'm begging for a ride home, so whatever you need to do between point A and point B is all good! As long as I make it home, homie!" So on to Sputnik we went. Once we got there, why did we spend the next 40mins vibing and politiking with the owner Vic! I loved talking to him because he's had such a rich personal history in terms of his involvement with hip-hop and coming to produce live music events here in BK, something I would love to start doing on a more professional level. I had a couple of ideas while speaking to him that including writing a feature on him and the club for a couple of websites and also working with him in other musical capacities if the opportunity opens up. I also thought I may decide to have the "Oh Mai~Goodness Birthday Celebration Volume 30" there this April! He was like "Let me know, I'll put it on the calendar..." So I gotta let him know. Meanwhile, J and I thought it may be a great idea to convince NJ to move the open mic to that establishment instead of where it's currently taking place. Bigger and better in '09, right??? But that idea needs to be flushed out a little bit more, so stay tuned on that one.

So what day was that? OH! Right, all of that was Wesnesday. WEDNESDAY, PEOPLE!! Hahhaha Can you believe it! I'm tired just from TYPING it all. So on Thursday I knew I needed to get some freelance editing in and that I had to go to the city for a meeting with HU Alumni Club of NYC president ChrisWashington at 5:30pm (cause, apparently, I'm the treasurer and needed to deposit some money??? Into the club account, not my own!), and my goal was to lay low for the rest of the evening and catch ABC's stellar Thursday lineup (Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, & Private Practice) but of course my plans were made new once Julia called to invite me to a VIP Screening of "Notorious" at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). She said she, her mother and sister would be catching a cab from midtown to BAM and that I should meet them there at 6:50, which was perfect. Only, when I got to BAM at 6:50 they were still in Manhattan trying to catch a cab!! So I was standing out in front of BAM (enduring 29 windy degrees) where hundreds of people were posted in line trying to get in through the regular entrance OR convince the doormen that they were actually VIP. (Mind you, if not for Julia, I woulda been right with the regular admission line down the block. Better yet, I would've been at HOME!) But she wasn't there yet, and we weren't sure if they were even going to arrive in time to make it in, VIP or NOT! While I was waiting I saw the Rev. Jesse Jackson walk up and through a special entrance (because of course, apparently, he's still VIP even though he wanted to castrate our new president :\) and then I later saw Faith Evans arrive with her children, which I found ironic since I'd just sang one of her songs the night before... I didn't say anything to either one of them, and wondered if maybe I should've had my camera on deck so that I could be snapping pics. But who wants to be paparazzi EVERYDAY? (I ask after just one day of playing the pap myself!) So, finally, Julia arrived with Ms. Judy and Shawn, and Shawn's friend comes up, who had been standing not too far from me, and the five of us role on in courtesy of Julia's new found VIPism (at least as far as "Notorious" screenings go!!) We go up to the VIP screening, which I found out was different from general screening and included a special Talk Back and Q&A with the director, cast, writers, and producers, including Ms. Wallace, herself! (This is where I'll ask: Why did Jessie Jackson find it necessary to speak on the microphone, at length, not once but TWICE, and manage to squeeze his 1988 run for presidency into his remarks? I'm just saying. At least he didn't talk about castrating fools this time..... and that's all I'm going to say.)

The movie itself was great, and Julia did her thing, as did "Gravy" (the actor who did such a wonderful job playing Biggie, and interestingly enough gained over a hundred pounds to play the role, against doctors orders, and said he is diabetic... he really wanted that role!), DerekLuke as Puffy (outstanding!), AnthonyMackey as 'Pac and the sistas that played Faith and Lil' Kim (who all made wonderful portrayals). What I found most moving about the film though is that this may be the first time I've seen a bio-pic of a person who was alive when I was alive, and whose complete rise to fame and subsequent demise took place during my lifetime. It was very emotional to watch, because you knew what was coming at certain points and you could totally relive those moments in your mind. It must have been so hard for his mom and Faith, Puffy and other loved ones to sit and watch the film, even though it does have a bit of a feel-good vibe to it (as feel-good as a movie about Biggie's life being cut down could be, anyway). That's all I'm gonna say about that. I'll probably see it again on the big screen, especially since I get free movie Tuesdays... and you should see it too, next Friday!

So that was Thursday. Friday, I got to hear my parent's excitement over listening to my recording of Ella!! They were soooooooooooo freakin' proud! My mom said she was dancing around the office (doing the jerk, if you will) while my dad bobbed his head to the music, cause it's LIKE THAT! We had a long conversation about my next steps with this project, and they were both very encouraging with their belief that it will go FAR! Daddy admonished me to make sure that I stay on top of the business side of the project now that I know that the creative side is coming together. And mommy encouraged me to continue to trust God to guide me in making the right decisions with moving forward.... But they were psyched!!!! Like TOTALLY!!!

Late Friday I ended up going out with Roro to not one but TWO clubs that I had no business being at... Meaning there were no bands playing, the djs at both clubs were playing the same mediocre rotation music I despise, the chicks were drunk (that was actually funny), and the dudes (for the most part) were WACK! I don't even feel like getting into the whole story, but just know that by the end of the night I did put Ro on probation in terms of our joint extracurricular activities until further notice, and informed him that I had filled my "club quota" for '09! Puh-leeze, Buh-lieve! Hahahhaaha What was cool about the first party, or can I say THE ONLY THING COOL about the first party is that I started talking to this nice looking young fella who turned out to be a FAMU graduate AND a sound engineer/producer. So I introduced him to Roro and we all exchanged info, and I'm sure we'll link up at some point to hear what he's doing musically. The actual best part about last night was that we didn't pay to go into either clubs and had free drinks.. Well, my drink at the first club was free courtesy of Roro! But his friend that invited us to the second club had gotten bottle service, so he was like "drink away!" (It turns out he was also in the Biggie movie and was having his people out to celebrate the premiere.) I'm not a Vodka fan though, and most often when people get bottle service its Grey Goose. So I only had a little sippy-poo with the fake cranberry "juice" that the clubs tend to use. Thankfully, we FINALLY left sometime during the 3:00AM hour and brought it on in...

And now, here I am at Saturday. It's 4AM and of course I'm wide awake... LOL. Again, I slept most of today, then spent the rest of the day between Facebook and working on this small freelance project for a friend (who I hope won't take long to pay me..) It snowed all day so I probably should've washed my hair since I knew I wasn't going anywhere, but I didn't get around to it. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not.

Oh you know one thing I forgot to mention, that took place late Thursday night, was that I got a chance to speak with a dear old friend. As I said in the previous blog posting, we haven't spoken in about 13years and boy did we have a lot of catching up to do. Suffice it to say, I'm SO GLAD I got to speak with him. He is NOT the same person he was in high school. Not at all. I mean, who really would be after 13years, but when I say he really has gone through a transformation, I MEAN THAT. I won't put his business out, but after catching up for close to two hours, he spent the remaining hour telling me his unbelievably extraordinary testimony of coming to the Lord when he was 20years old, a story which began two years after we were no longer in contact with one another. He basically had gone through literal hell and high water during that time in his life, and found that crying out to the Lord to forgive him and save him was literally THE answer to him being able to LIVE IN PEACE through God's design of FAITH. Whereas he had lost everything (which apparently was a lot because he was financially doing well at the time and had accumulated a lot of valuable possessions), including his mind it seemed, he recounted the experiences in detail that led to him being saved, and then how he immersed himself in the teachings of the Word of God (ie The Bible), and THEN how the Lord has restored his life. He now has a wife, more than a few children, a home in the hills, and successful career in entertainment that not just anyone gets to do for a living, all because he gave his life to the Lord and believed in faith/trusted what God told him. He said he believes that he has been put in the position he's in so that he can be instrumental in talking to and ministering to professional entertainers who otherwise wouldn't find themselves in a church or under the spiritual guidance of a Godly pastor. It was deep. And meaningful. We shared a lot that night, and it was amazing that after so many years we fell right back into this true friendship vibe. It wasn't even like I was talking to a boy I used to have a crush on; I was talking to my friend about how life had been over the past decade. I talked, he listened intently, he talked and I listened intently. And whereas I was not happy to hear of the earlier life/spiritual challenges he had to face, I was delighted to hear that so much had unfolded favorably for him in the most significant of ways. I don't know when I'll speak to him again, but even if January Oh-Ten comes into the building before we catch up again, I know that he's alright, and I know that WE are alright.


I look forward to the next. And hope my path crosses anyone reading this post in the most enchanting of ways!
Be blessed!
Yay & Amen!


eMCee said...

While your entire week was more exciting than my entire 2008, the one piece I'm dying to know more about is the "Ella Phant-Gerald" recording!! When will it be available for us mere mortals to hear????

Chris Harrison said...

Wowsers Mai, You most certainly had a busy week. I am really excited about you getting to record your "Ella-Phant-Gerald" song to a live band. It sounds like the vision is all coming together. I can't wait to hear the finished product.