Friday, February 27, 2009

progressions can't be made if we're separate forever

For some reason, the shooting earlier this week seems to have brought out the worst in people. I hear some of the dumbest racist comments by people who consider themselves oh so enlightened and liberal and it just makes me my skin crawl. I'm not so oblivious to think that people don't think this way, but I wasn't raised like this. It goes so much against my way of thinking and my way of life.

It seems like every three days someone is murdered on our streets but the only time anyone makes a big deal about it is when it happens to someone from the suburbs rather than some 17-year-old who lives on 79th and whatever. Suddenly everyone goes "that could be my child," but you know what? That could be anyone's kid who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether or not they were doing the wrong thing.

I know that stereotypes often have some origination, but this kind of crap is so toxic to the way we live our lives and the culture of this city. Saying that everyone who lives on the east side is a "thug" is just as stupid as saying that everyone in Parma is racist or everyone in Lakewood is gay or that everyone in Westlake or Beachwood is stuck up. That's not going to get anyone anywhere.

When I first heard about Eric Holder's speech, I understood where he was coming from, but it does not reflect the reality of my life and the lives of many others that I know. Me and some of my east side dwelling friends joke about how we've ripped the space-time continuum because we cross over the river to hang out with each other and haven't let history or geography prevent us from having a good time.

It's a beautiful thing, and I wish people knew what they were missing out on when they knowingly isolate themselves.

more fun from the lakewood police blotter

COMPLAINT, CLIFTON BOULEVARD:An apartment resident asked to speak to an officer at 2:15 a.m. Feb. 20 regarding something vibrating. He thought the person below him might be building a weapon of mass destruction. There were no weapons.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

25 albums for 25 years.

I think I inherited my love of music and understanding of sports from my dad. I was a musical late bloomer, having spent my formative years as the antisocial kid who read a lot, who started playing guitar at 14, and discovered the joys of my dad's record collection and the Seattle sound that has stayed with me.

Being the late 90's early part of the millenium, I was also exposed to a lot of really bad grunge-lite in my formative years, but college radio most definitely improved my quality of life.

As I get older, I realize that we probably took the music we listened to way too seriously and used our obscure tastes often to overcompensate for a lack of social skills, or defined ourselves and our social group too often by a mutual appreciation of one icon or another, and probably spent way too much time debating the merits of one Led Zeppelin album over another.

One of my roommates once asked me if all my music had guitars in it and I couldn't think of much that didn't have it somewhere. I still have to thank her for making me CDs full of Common and Oumou Sangare and things I would maybe have missed on my own.

But hey, live and learn, right?

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River
My parents both loved CCR and I heard a whole lot of it growing up. Still one of my favorites.


On the way down to Case Western where I had my dental work done, my dad and I used to cycle between all the rock stations and the college stations looking for songs with varying results. This and hanging out in the music room in the basement was the foundation of my rock education.

Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced?
I don't know what else you can really say about him that hasn't been said.

Pearl Jam - Ten
I get kind of tired of hearing "Jeremy" on the radio, but this was one solid record and Eddie Vedder's voice just gets me.

Neil Young - Everyone Knows This is Nowhere
"Cinnamon Girl" was the first song I learned on the guitar.

Soundgarden - Superunknown
I cut class one night when I was in college and scored this one clear green vinyl from the Canton Record Exchange. I still find it hard to believe that the lame guy with the frosted hair and the bad wannabe top 40 singles used to be in this band.

U2 - Achtung Baby
I got made fun of by my Sepultura and Dead Kennedys loving high school friends for these, but I honestly like every phase they've been through. I own every U2 album except All That You Can't Leave Behind and Zooropa.

Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies
My favorite band when I was 15. One of my former coworkers refers to this as Camaro Rock. I beg to differ.

Arvo Part - Fratres - my favorite modern composer of all time. People say he's too depressing but the combination of Eastern Orthodox texts and the spare sound that is at once so modern and so ancient always does it for me.

Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
I rediscovered this a couple years ago, but this was the only album that me and a friend of mine from high school could agree on, me because of the great music and the lyrics, her because it had a good beat and was played on KISS FM.

Fugazi - Repeater
Massive Attack - Mezzanine
I was a page at the public library and would check out stacks of CDs at a time. These have stuck with me the most.

Jawbox - For Your Own Special Sweetheart
In a perfect world, there would be less Candlebox and more Jawbox on alternative radio.

The Clash - London Calling
I am still a Joe Strummer fangirl. The Clash, Mescaleros, 101ers...

Love Battery - Dayglo
Best grunge-era band you've never heard of. Really.

The Pixies - Doolittle
Totally played this one all the time when I was living on College Street and had crazy neighbors.

Mission of Burma - Vs.
Saw these guys on their comeback tour. With the exception of the guitarist wearing too-tight pants, it was awesome.

Quicksand - Slip
Once had an art teacher threaten to destroy this CD.

Sleater-Kinney - All Hands on the Bad One
Throwing Muses - University
Made me proud to be a female musician.

I never got to start my long dreamed-of band in college, but I did download music like a fiend, trying to track down obscure Dischord Records releases and oddball punk covers.

DJ Spooky presents: In Fine Style 50,000 Volts of Trojan Records
This got me into good reggae.

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On?
Definitely the soundtrack to many nights lamenting the state of the world and trying to be hopeful.

Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche in Bamako
The first forays into world music, and an obsession with Malian guitar pop.

Mark Lanegan - Field Songs
I love everything he sings on. No exceptions.

Common - Like Water for Chocolate
This is just beautiful.

Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun
It's very rare that I do a show that doesn't have any Erykah.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

playlist 2/24/09

tricky - aftermath
bajofondo with mala rodriguez - el anden
sidestepper - deja
nacao zumbi - carimbaco
antonio carlos jobim - the girl from ipanema
sacha silva - free
arrested development - united front
antibalas - go je je
jeff buckley - mojo pin (request)
afghan whigs - come see about me
john frusciante - unreachable
beck - earthquake weather
juana molina - dar (que dificil) (request)
cafe tacuba - tengo todo
jorge ben - ponta de lanca
femi kuti - truth don't die
d. roof - the denial
ceu - concrete jungle
trevor dandy - is there any love?
marvin gaye - right on/ wholly holy/ inner city blues
william devaughn - be thankful for what you've got

Friday, February 20, 2009

each one teach one.

It's been a process over the last few months learning how to take everything I know, distill the things that are really important and try to pass it on. It almost makes it harder to teach the English language when you're so used to studying literature that you take things like capital letters and punctuation marks for granted because you've used them as long as you can remember.

You have to adjust out of explaining plot points to trying to explain basic grammar. Or you're trying to explain the weirdness of the language and why certain things are pronounced one way and others another. It doesn't make any sense really.

I feel bad having ten-year-olds do kindergarten-level work, drawing uppercase and lowercase letters and reading sentences about Jim and Bill eating jam or whatever. But the kids really get into it, wanting me to check their work, and draw them smiley faces and put "100%" on them when they're perfect.

They want me to give them HOMEWORK which just amazes me, and they love math because it's a universal thing and there isn't a language barrier there. I know it's hard for them to sit still after being in school all day, so I bring snacks to keep their energy up, and we play games and do some of their dances. I tell them to bring it home and show it to their parents, and hope they pick up some of it too.

I want to see them be able to express themselves, understand others, and comprehend their world better. I'd like to see them develop a love of reading too and not get frustrated. I can't imagine going through fleeing civil war to the instability of a refugee camp hundreds of miles from home in Tanzania, then getting on a plane and landing here in Cleveland where you end up in school several years behind and not speaking the language.

I'm hoping I can pick up some more skills next weekend when me and the roommate get certified as legit ESL instructors. Theoretically, I can now take this skill anywhere depending on how life works out. I figure there's always more that you can learn.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

where the streets have no name.

I spent my day off pretending that I really didn't have a cold, popping cough drops, drinking orange juice, and going out on photography adventures with Mukhtar. He had to work later on that day, but we hit up a few spots and got some good pictures.

Usually there's no one around when we go on adventures like these, just the occasional kids wandering around like us, but there seemed to be people everywhere this time around.

We encountered a wild dog, random vagrants, and shady junkyard creeps who assumed that my parked car was fair game ("oh I'm sorry... looked like a piece of junk to me") but that didn't stop us from taking some good photos and chilling at the West Side Market, sitting on the balcony enjoying falafel and spinach pies from Maha's.

I'm an amateur who can't afford crazy good equipment and considers the upgrade from disposable to digital something epic. But I get endless inspiration from this place where I've spent most of my life and I honestly get uncomfortable in areas where there aren't rusty bridges and old buildings and the possibility of undiscovered corners and small wonders.

win some lose some.

I was really frustrated with my show this morning. Played wrong tracks, skipped CDs, accidentally cut the sound off, couldn't get a good groove going to save my life. Much apologies to everyone who tuned in. I feel bad about this one.

massive attack - black milk
common - geto heaven part 2
daara j - babylone
mark lanegan - black river
the verve - love is noise
the roots - seed 2.0
jurassic 5 - break
amadou & mariam - senegal fast food
morphine - in spite of me
wyclef jean - fast car
esperanza spaulding - cuerpo y alma
the good the bad and the queen - bunting song
the clash - guns of brixton
john frusciante - look on
brmc - lien on your dreams
rokia traore - koronoko
tony allen - ariya
dengue fever - tooth and nail
lendine - hoje me estrague o dia
kongas - anikana
jackson conti - brazilian sugar

Monday, February 16, 2009

love is noise

I have to tutor my kids tonight and I can't get my printouts to download. I feel like one of those weirdos at the library using a public computer because I'm off today and I'm a bit scruffy.

Like most things that happen to me, this weekend was almost entirely unplanned. I had planned on chilling out Friday night but ended up catching up with some old friends at a birthday party and me and the roommate meeting up with a friend after he got off work at Caribbean Flavor.

I somehow initially thought this would involve getting late dinner but instead was dancing away the stress of the weekend to pulsing dancehall and reggae, getting some weird looks because I definitely do not look Jamaican and was not dressed to impress. The past week has turned so many things upside-down that everything almost felt normal and it's to the point where I feel good being out of my element.

We did our lesson with the kids on Saturday about Valentine's Day and had them make paper hearts with words that rhyme on them. One of the babies was sick so I wrapped him in my hoodie and was holding him, trying to get him to calm down and we played blocks with the little girls and I totally felt like I was 5 in the best way giving them the plastic dinosaurs and letting them go all Godzilla on their block city.

As usual, the kids love getting pictures taken. Muk showed me how to play with some settings on my camera a little bit and that's how these turned out.

I didn't want to do anything on Valentine's Day but we got invited over to a friend's place for dinner and it just felt so good to laugh and chill even though I went back early to crash and get some sleep.

I picked up the most recent Verve album at the library and it made me remember why I like anthemic sweeping britpop so much.

Friday, February 13, 2009

give me your love

We made the top ten of most miserable cities and even though the past few days have been rough going, I'm still happy here, and I've got a life that's got meaning and that's all I can ask for.

Soooo, I have a three-day weekend, another year of Valentine's Day singleness that will be spent in the company of my little kids and possibly some Haitian roots music at LCCC with the roommate. Not quite as 20-something-girl-cliche as dark chocolate and Jane Austen. I've got too much going on to angst this year. I'm going out to paint and take pictures and get inspired.

And this funky bit goes out to all of you.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

since I laid my burdens down...

I've been a bit in the depths the past couple days, trying to deal with awkward and frustrating situations, feeling like I'm somehow failing even though I know that I'm not.

Last night's tutoring was a mess and it's just been one of those weeks where I just want to take a vacation from life in general, and I was late for music practice by an hour, but everyone was understanding and I was so relieved. It finally felt safe.

I got a tangible gift of grace that I needed desperately, and as we're clapping and singing songs written by those who came before us who had far harder lives and greater struggles than ours, it put things in perspective. "Some glad morning when this life is over... no more darkness, no more night... since I laid my burdens down..."

I know that I'll look back at certain things in my life and realize they weren't the end of the world, but sometimes it feels like it right now. It's stupid because the rest of the world has much bigger problems to deal with, like, you know, trying to find food for your family or just existing another day.

I just realized that I have Monday off and I'm so relieved. I need an extra chill day desperately.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

yeah that's about right.

Seriously. Just do it now.

shake that load off...

I was feeling pretty down when I got to the station this morning but this playlist made me feel really good. Fell back on some favorites, found some good stuff up at the station. Loving the new Madlib project (Jackson Conti), Esperanza Spaulding, and that 2008 3-disc Ninjatune comp.

playlist 2/10/09

martina topley-bird - too tough to die
ani difranco - amazing grace
sharon jones & the dap-kings - your thing is a drag
bill withers - ain't no sunshine / grandma's hands
the bellrays - every day i think of you
rokia traore - dianfa
oumou sangare - djorolen
ammoncontact - beautiful flowers
emmanuel jal - baai
daara j - babylone
flying lotus - bad actors
dragons of zynth - funky genius
goodie mob - free
U2 - acrobat
damian marley - road to zion
lauryn hill - final hour
outkast - liberation
the shadows - brother noah
loka - beginningless
soulsavers - revival
esperanza spaulding - ponta de areia
jackson conti - burumba
novalima - se me van
angelique kidjo - voodoo chile
the dirtbombs - do you see my love for you growing?

Monday, February 9, 2009


There's a couple things that I'd rather not go into just because they've been stressful and somewhat beyond my control.

That being said, it was a good weekend as I tried not to think about certain things and did a somewhat good job of that. I chilled out Friday, stopped by to see my mom and sister the next morning, picked up some much needed work clothes and some good records in the dollar bin at the Goodwill in Parma (Bill Withers, the Zombies).

Took a walk since it was finally not cold and later drove out to Coventry to meet up with some of my favorite people and catch a show at the Grog Shop that I gave away tickets for. Enjoyed the great sounds and energy of Poetic Republic (who are, of course, leaving for the greener pastures of Brooklyn), and Winslow (who'd I'd never heard before, but enjoyed as well). Met up with one of my listeners, saw friends I haven't seen in awhile.

I had originally picked up tickets for this show since it was one of members of Digable Planets gone solo but I didn't end up staying for the whole set because I had to be up early the next morning to do music at church and it wasn't quite that lush jazzy vibe I was hoping for. Maybe it's just that I'm not really into the 420/ Nation of Gods and Earths combo. That might have something to do with it.

Speaking of music, a good friend of mine that I've enjoyed playing with in the past, is looking to start playing out this summer. Like me, he appreciates the best of every genre so it will be interesting to see what that leads to. One of the reasons that last summer was so amazing was because I got to get off of work and jam a couple days a week. I'd love to get back into that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

random thoughts

The city was blue and white this morning. I couldn't see the skyline at all. I found an old mixtape and listened to Massive Attack on the way in. Looking forward to seeing some good friends and hopefully a good show on Saturday.

I had to deal with a really arrogant and nasty person yesterday. I'd like to think it didn't bother me but I had a hard time sleeping last night. That, however, might have had something to do with the two cups of coffee I drank.

Other than that, yesterday really wasn't all that bad. I got a nice shout-out from a fellow dj friend on my drive home, grabbed dinner at Melt with some friends, and my friend showed me his studio space in the Lake Erie Screw Building and I would love to have something like that where I could ride the old-school wooden elevator and have space to make huge paintings and pretend I'm in 1970's New York.

So far the tutoring has been good. It's hard to balance between different age levels and abilities but the kids help each other out. I had a huge box of literacy materials and books for beginning readers that were donated and they were definitely used. Trying to find some good basic English kind of books that actually have a good story and aren't along the lines of "The fire engine goes Ding! Ding!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

playlist 2/3/09

willie williams - armagideon time
radiohead - 15 step
kid koala - third world lover
pacifika - paloma
pavement - passat dream
people under the stairs - flex off
curtis mayfield - pusherman
afghan whigs - citi soleil
jeff buckley - eternal life
digable planets - 4 corners
leila - daisies, cats, and spacemen
red hot chili peppers - this velvet glove
throwing muses - teller
the pixies - here comes your man
the dirtbombs - trainwreck / broke in detroit again
marvin gaye - inner city blues
dr. alimantado - born for a purpose
dengue fever - lost in laos
johnny clarke - enter his gates with praise
the triumphs - we don't love enough
miles davis - spanish key
tony avon and the belairs - sexy coffee pot
d'angelo - chicken grease
vassar clements - green onions (request)

Monday, February 2, 2009

it's better to burn out...

So I took a much-needed crash this weekend, was out cold by 9pm on Friday night, resurrected on Saturday to stop by and see the family, make it to a mandatory radio station meeting, and hang out with the kiddos. They taught us a dance that involved all of us holding hands in a circle, jumping, and chanting and it was so much fun. I start my tutoring tonight and I'm hoping it goes as well as Thursday did.

I had planned to go out to a reggae event on the east side last night to support a friend but my car shakes when I drive over 55 and I didn't want to go all the way out to Collinwood by myself as it turned out. Ended up crashing early and woke up feeling icky so I skipped church and slept the whole day.

I woke up all ready this morning. There's so much I need to knock out this week, with starting the new part-time employment, hooking up with some fellow artists later on tonight for good hanging out and exchanging ideas, getting my car fixed (no rattle today when I was driving, fingers crossed), attempting to figure out how to squeeze everything into increasingly smaller days.