Category: pop culture

cormoran strike

The Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling

I’m expanding my reading genres y’all. My poison of choice has always been magic realism. Think the indomitable Gabriel García Márquez or Toni Morrison or Isabel Allende. I typically shy away from new fiction that explodes onto the literary scene from authors who write ten books a month – think Nora Roberts (although I will admit, I’ve read a few of her books and rather loved them over a lazy summer). I’m snobbish for no real reason, likely… or I’m just not an early adopter. Whatever. Nevertheless, I was on a work trip to South Carolina last year, perusing a quaint little bookstore, as one does after spending hours of team-building exercises, and came across Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling. I had to return to the bookstore the following day to buy it; I was drawn. Several thoughts:
a) Why they gotta out ol’ girl J.K. like that? The least you nosy literary-media-journalist people could have done is let her enjoy her pseudonym for a few books before letting everyone know the author of the Harry Potter series is now writing murder mysteries as a dude! Can Robert live?
b) Uhhhhh Robert aka J.K. is a fantastic writer! Ok, I never read a single Harry Potter book. Please don’t let the shock kill you; and I was told by a close friend that the books are actually well written, so I wouldn’t be wasting my time getting into them. I didn’t believe. The hype and the cult following …and the toys and the jewelry and the FB groups and the hats and the whole re-creations in global exhibits and the Halloween costumes (geez!) kept me away. But now, safely on the other side of all of that, perhaps I can get into it on my own terms, you know? And Hermoine is a black chick!
c) I’m gripped! I grew up on Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys, but I never returned to murder/mystery books after the 4th/5th grade. I have Sir Robert to thank for that. Well written, thoughtful prose and a compelling story-line make for a great combination in this genre. No shit, right? What can I say – the rapt depth, fluidity and humour of Márquez sets a high bar for other writers.
This is less of a book review and more of an encouragement to get into the tales of Cormoran and Robin (who better NOT have a love affair!). It’s dark, gritty and a swirling good read. And while you do that, I’ll consider getting into Harry Potter…
jk rowling

The Yoruba Orishas

Way back in February for Black History Month, I completed a blog study on the Yoruba orishas, as depicted by Atlanta-based photographer James C. Lewis at Noire3000 Studios. In the event you missed it, please take some time to educate yourself.

The orisha (also spelled orisa, orichá; or orixá in Latin America) are spirits believed to reflect one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba religion. The orishas have made their way from West Africa throughout the so-called New World via the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Yoruba religion itself is housed specifically in present-day southwestern Nigeria, as well as the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo. This area is commonly known as Yorubaland. However, the diverse traditions that make up Yoruba religion can be found all over the African diaspora, influencing belief systems such as Santería (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), Umbanda (Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay), Loa/Vodou (Haiti and the U.S.), Oyotunji (the U.S.), Trinidad Orisha (Trinidad and Tobago) and Candomblé (Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay).

Appreciation for the orishas has finally caught on! Recently, I caught wind that there is a short film out there in the ether: an African superhero movie, as produced by written, directed as produced by Nigerian filmmaker Nosa Igbinedion. According to Igbinedion, he made the short film in order to prove that there is a market out there for sci-fi based on African characters and storylines. Yes! The whole 12 minute film is below. Now that it’s lunch break….

The orishas I featured for my online study are as follows. If you click on the orishas tag at the end of this post, it’ll take you straight to the appropriate place. Ciao!

aganju orishababaluaye orishaErinle Orisha
esu OrishaIbeji OrishaOba Orisha
obatala Orishaogun Orishaoko orisha
olokun Orishaolorun Orishaori Orisha
orunmila Orishaosanyin Orishaosoosi Orisha
osun Orishaosumare Orishaoya Orisha
sango Orishayemoja Orisha
i want you savage garden

#Music Monday | To Honour the Teen Version of Self | “I Want You” by Savage Garden

This morning, as I was applying my second layer of mascara for additional length and volume, this song sprung into my head. I Want You was my soundtrack through middle school. Savage Garden was the first non-bootlegged record I ever actually owned, I think; it was a gift from my bestie at the time. It spoke to my quietly rebellious, moody youthful heart. It still does in many years. Mostly, it brings about nostalgia and a fondness for the space and existence I inhabited back then… So, cheers our teen years: to those years of wading through puberty and growing pains; to years of being misunderstood and high strung; to learning your body and then re-learning it next month; to those years of acne and cracking vocal cords; to those years of uneventful calm and quiet; to those years of absolute teenaged glory!

 

The Privilege of Storytelling: A Look at the Choir Boy Robber

I’ve chatted here about podcasts before. So you know with that, I no longer listen to the traditional radio. Between podcasts, on-demand streaming and Tumblr, I’m pretty caught up on all the latest happenings in the worlds of entertainment, news, and pop culture… Note I didn’t include my TV in the mix. For good reason. So FM radio is out and podcasts are in. Joy! Latest addition to the bunch? Love and Radio. I really appreciate storytelling podcasts. And so to further ascertain whether Nick van der Kolk could join my podcasts rolodex, I downloaded their latest ten episodes and have been binge listening through my commutes.
Now, their episode Choir Boy really got me thinking about the nature of storytelling: specifically who gets to tell their stories and how those stories are to make us feel. Choir Boy is about Tom Justice, who, for all intents and purposes, is a regular-ass young man leading a regular-ass life. What struck me most about his story is, ostensibly, his privilege… and more specifically, the privilege of his ability to lead a regular human life, become bored of his regular human life, take up robbing banks to add thrill to his regular human life, serve nine years in prison as punishment for robbing banks in his regular human life, and then get invited to share his side of his regular human life story on a widespread platform.
 Let me pause right here. I’m a digger, you see. I like to dig into things – particularly into conversation with people. Generally, I find people fascinating- except for when I don’t. I like to – not pry, hopefully! – but dig into why people think or behave the way they do; why people make certain decisions; why people decide to define the world the way they do. This is why I’m drawn to the social sciences. This is why small talk basically bores me. I find that if you listen carefully, meaningfully and creatively, people are more than willing to share and will tell you, more or less, exactly who and what they are. So, largely I don’t shy away or judge stories that lack heroism, or a moral compass, or fail to observe social propriety. Tell me about that time you got drunk on purpose just so you can call your ex and tell them exactly how you feel about them. Or better yet, tell me about that time you consciously forged a relationship with an older married woman and seemingly harbour no regrets about it.
I say all that to say this: un-pretty stories are ubiquitous, we all have them and we often don’t have a space to put them. This is why I find storytelling podcasts excellent.
So Tom Justice, right? You can google his story. Sir Tom told his story honestly and plainly on Love and Radio. I can appreciate that. What I could not shake was the privilege he was able to enjoy in the telling. This was a young man who could have been anybody. By his account, he didn’t appear deviant or narcissistic or incapable of rational thought. He got into robbing banks (~27 in three different states) not because he needed the money. He needed life to be more thrilling. His style of robbery was so homely, so cozy and comforting that he even earned the rather sonorous FBI nickame: Choir Boy Robber. Who could possibly be afraid of that? Even when he got stopped by a police officer after one of his escapades, who became suspicious, and Tom ditched the bike that helped lead to his eventual capture, the cop was polite…nice even, by Tom’s account. I can’t imagine that had Tom been of any other demographic, there would have been such humanity, that he would have been painted in such a strange, albeit, comforting light.
Now, I’m certainly not saying Tom’s life has been easy or devoid of ill-treatment, since his release in 2010. There are whole programs and initiatives out there aimed at supporting ex-cons re-integrate into society. I am saying, however, that Tom was humanised – during his stint as a criminal and even thereafter. Through the podcast, Tom has been granted the space to present his story, his context, as a human making silly choices, rather than a criminal, laying in wait to prey on helpless tellers. We, as listeners, are not asked to sympathise or even empathise. We are granted something more significant: a chance to understand him, a chance to see Tom as a man, before all else. Storytelling enabled that for him.

another selfie | a poem

so i’m sittin right here
in this dope ride
preparing for my journey
face beat to #dagawds
lipstick on fleek
it’s bout to be a parry
but who do i see?
this really fine brotha
scoping me and my posse
i glance his way
and flash a smile
you ain’t want none this, homie!
he rolls his glass down
and starts to holla
umm, can’t he see i’m busy?
i put up my finger
just hol’ on young buck!
you gettin in the way of this pretty!
the light turns green
the music’s on blast
i know i run this city
my girls singing loud
they really turnin up
listen, we ain’t ordinary!
i rev my engine
take off into the night
leaving these basics dusty
cos we over here
in my sick sick ride
bout to take another selfie