Love Lies

My favorite genre of music is R & B.  The unfortunate thing about that is that it doesn’t really exist anymore unless you listen to older music.  Most of what passes for R & B these days are Hip Hop hybrids like Drake makes.  I enjoy Drake but he’s not real R & B to me.   His music doesn’t have any real soul.

R & B’s last stand was in the 1990s.  Acts like R. Kelly, Boys II Men, Faith Evans, Jodeci and many others were at the top of the pop charts.  R & B was all over the radio to the pure delight of music lovers.  Soul music was still a force in popular music in the early 2000s with artists like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Anthony Hamilton.  But pure soul has all but vanished from the pop scene.

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But a pulse has been detected for modern R & B music.  There is an absolutely deliciously sexy, sultry tune on the pop charts now by two young song birds named Khalid & Normani.  Their hit song tells the story of the pivotal point in a romantic relationship where the pair tries to establish an understanding of their paramour’s intentions and true feelings.  The lyrics are tense because it’s a make or break moment that happens early on in a love affair.  The lovers may move towards true love or the moment of truth can end in heartbreak.
Khalid & Normani sing the sultry lyrics to “Love Lies” with pure, old fashioned soul.  There are no featured rappers on the track.  It’s a tale of modern romance told with throwback soul and sex appeal.  Congratulations to this duo for bringing back R & B to those of us that remember it and introducing it to a new generation.  I hope Khalid & Normani work together again.  They could be Peaches & Herb 2.0.

 

 

Summer 2018

Labor Day is behind us and Fall is approaching.  It is still warm and the trees haven’t she their leaves yet but we are in the last days of Summer 2018.  I had a great summer this year.  I got to do some travelling.  I didn’t go anywhere exotic but I did get to see some place new and some new things about a place that is very familiar to me.

This summer I had the chance to visit the city of Chicago.  I had been to the airports in Chicago twenty or thirty times in my life but I actually got out and explored the city for the first time last month.  I visited my friend Brice that moved there a few years ago.  I had a lovely time.

Chicago was a lot more dense than I was expecting.  I knew it was big but I thought it would be a large urban sprawl like other Midwestern cities.  I thought Chicago was the kind of town where everyone, even those of modest means had a lawn.  I was wrong.  Chicago is a dense city and most people live in apartments or walk up houses.  I didn’t see any watered lawns or backyard vegetable gardens.  Chicago is a concrete jungle.  It feels a lot like New York.

My friend and I went to the beach on Lake Michigan on a hot Saturday afternoon.  I hadn’t been to a beach in ages and it was great.  I’m not much of an outdoorsy kind of a person so I’m not picky when it comes to beaches.  The one I visited in Chicago might be my favorite because it’s a lot closer than travelling to the coast or the Caribbean.

I visited the Willis also known as Sears Tower.  It was OK.  Getting to the top of the tower was just like visiting everything else that’s like that.  It’s just like going to Reunion Tower in Dallas or the GM headquarters in Detroit.  It’s a nice view.  The most extraordinary thing about Willis Tower was the lines.  There were about five of them and they were all very long.  There is a long line to get out of the tower too.  I wasn’t ready.  I just wasn’t prepared at all.  If you go pack a bottle of water and a little snack.  Fortunately, I happened to have both in my bag.

Chicago left a few lasting impressions.  There are a lot of Dunkin’ Donuts there.  A hole lot.  (Ha ha)  I thought that maybe their corporate headquarters were in Chicago but it is actually in Massachusetts.  Chicago is just a donut loving town.  Chicagoans are my kind of people.

There are also a lot of really beautiful Black women in Chicago.  A whole lot.  They were everywhere.  On the trains.  At the beach.  Working at Dunkin’ Donuts they were just everywhere ranging in age from the teen years to, it’s hard to tell with Black women.

Later on in August I visited my hometown of Detroit.  My family planned a reunion, cancelled it, didn’t tell me but I already bought a plane ticket.  So I went and had my own reunion with a small group of family and friends.

I stayed with a few friends that live in eastern suburbs of Detroit.  They took me to some places I had never been.  I visited Eastern Market on Saturday and we had a great time.  That’s a farmers market with a few antique shops.  It was pretty cool and I bought two vintage dresses and an authentic Chauncy Billups Pistons jersey.

Detroit is really a beautiful town.  You just have to like colorful, rough or unfinished industrial beauty.  And people are really nice and down to Earth.  I’ve lived in Kansas City for twenty years now and I’ve often thought people in Detroit are nicer than people in the plains.  This trip confirmed that.  Detroiters are nicer, more outgoing and have more swag than folks in the plains.  I’m glad I’m from there.

river front

I had a lovely summer thanks to two of the scariest cities in America.  Both are notoriously violent but I came across many lovely strangers.  Both upper Midwest cities are beautiful in their own way and there is a lot to see and do.  If you’ve never been either place you should make plans to visit.

WORST DATE EVER!

I’ve never been all that lucky in love but I’ve never had a really bad date either.  That is until yesterday.  I had the worst date ever.  I met a 54 year old man on OK Cupid named Ron.  We met for lunch yesterday.  This is our story.

I don’t take on line dating seriously but I decided to give it a try (again).  I chat with people for fun but it would be wonderful to meet the love of my life.  So I had been talking to Ron.  The interaction was nothing special.  I spoke with him on the phone a few times.  Again sparks didn’t fly.  He suggested that we meet and against my better judgment I agreed to meet him.

I would prefer to not go out with someone until we developed some familiarity and had a few enjoyable conversations with each other.  I think that if two people even decide to go on a date it should be kind of special.  Ron is one of these people that like to treat dating as if it is a job interview.  He asked a lot of questions about my previous relationships with men and my current dating habits that really kind of turned me off.  He also said that he needed to meet someone in person to see if he really liked them or not.  Once again I was a bit put off by this.  But I decided to set aside some time to see him yesterday.

I was going to get in touch with him and tell him that I wasn’t interested in meeting.  But I was really hungry after church yesterday and I figured since I needed to get something to eat I would invite him to meet me at a sandwich shop.  He suggested we go to a winery in the center of town and I agreed to that.

I wasn’t familiar with the place and he told me that it was next to Barnes & Noble at the corner of Broadway and 47th Street in Kansas City.  I knew where the Barnes & Noble was so I parked near there and walked towards the corner.  I didn’t see any restaurant on any corner.  I called him and asked him for further directions.  He said it’s near McCormick & Schmick which was in the other direction.  So I walked back up the block toward McCormick & Schmick and saw no other restaurants other than a coffee shop.  I got the name of the place when I spoke to him and I Googled it and found out the entrance was on Broadway.  I never would have found the place if it wasn’t for Google Maps.  I had been walking back and forth on 47th Street in a black dress with a scarf on in about 85 degree heat.

He calls me again and ask me where I am.  I told him I was on my way.  He repeats it’s on the corner of 47th and Broadway.  The daft man never seemed to understand that the landmarks he gave me were all on 47th Street and the entrance was around the corner on Broadway.  Anyway, I find my way in and sit at the table and he says “I don’t understand why you had a hard time finding it”.  I tried to explain that I was on the wrong street from the entrance.  He continues to be defensive about his directions with me.  I just say I’m sorry for being late to end it.

So we start talking and he starts with a bunch of questions.  When was your last relationship?  How long did they last?  Why did they end?  Were you in love with them?  What would your exes say about you?  Do you ever approach men that you like?  Seriously, it was just like a job interview.  Towards the end he even asked if I had any questions for him.  I told him no and he seemed frustrated or perhaps disappointed.

Ron says he likes to get to the point because he doesn’t want to waste time.  I think I’m a pretty pleasant person to be around so I don’t think that spending time with me is ever a waste.  Once again, I was disenchanted with Mr. Ron.

He mentioned that he talked to a woman on Tinder once and at one point she mentioned that she was celibate.  He said that he was no longer interested in her and he was mad that she wasted his time.  He thought that she should have put that at the top of her profile because he invested a lot of time messaging her on Tinder.  Ron thinks that this woman owes men that information.  What a shame.At the beginning stages of what could be a relationship I treat it as an observation stage.  I just want to see how a person acts and what actions they take.  I want to see if we can have a decent enjoyable conversation together.  Anyone one can give a nonsense answer to a question.  And Ron has been in sales for ten years so I’m sure he’s good at telling people what they want to hear.

In fact I caught Ron in a lie.  In one of our phone conversations I asked him if he grew up in Kansas City.  He said yes.  I asked him if his family was here.  He said yes, all of them were here.  During dinner he told me that his daughter lived in Texas with her three girls.  Why one Earth would you lie about something like that?  The man is lying about things that make no difference what so ever.

Ron was also just plain rude.  Not only did he scold me for not being able to follow his bad directions and I caught him in a lie but he had the nerve to ask me how much I weighed.  When I told him he challenged me and said that he didn’t believe that.  This man is fifty four years old and this is the level of social grace that he has.  Good grief.

He also decided to give me dating advice.  He told me that I should put more than one picture up on my dating profile and one should be a full body shot because men are visual.  I told him to look at my Instagram page because I have over 500 pictures on there.  He mentioned that I wore hats in a few pictures and he was wondering if I had hair.  What a charming lunch date.  He was on the same website and he’s eleven years older than me.  Perhaps he shouldn’t be giving out dating advice.

The waitress dropped the check while I was finishing desert.  The key lime pie was excellent and it was worth me going out that afternoon.  It sat there until I finished desert and was ready to leave.  I put my debit card in the book to take care of the bill and Ron pulls out his wallet.  He wanted me to give him a ten back for his twenty.  Fortunately, I had a ten dollar bill so he took care of his portion of lunch.  What a gentleman!

So we leave the restaurant and we say good bye with an awkward hand shake in front of the entrance on BROADWAY.  It was strange because he seemed to kind of like me.  He never seemed that way during dinner.  So I walk away and turn the corner onto 47th Street and head back to my car that’s about two blocks away next to Barnes & Noble.

He texted me later that night and said it was nice to meet me with a blushing happy face emoji.  I don’t really know what that means.  I said “Thanks, you too” to be polite.  Later on I decided to delete all of his texts, his contact number, block his number from my phone and unmatch with him on OK Cupid.  He’s a man that values his time so I won’t even waste his time by communicating with him again.

In a way I’m glad I met Ron yesterday because I can now cross him out of my life with no doubts.  But my belief was reinforced that my first instincts about people are usually correct.  I tried a new restaurant which was a nice place with fantastic key lime pie.  (I gave them a good review on Google).

Happy Birthday Naomi Campbell

Happy belated birthday to Naomi Campbell.  The hardest working woman in fashion turned forty eight on May 22.  Naomi is from the era of the super models and hasn’t slowed down since the 1990s.  Naomi has challenged beauty standards in the fashion industry for decades and continues to do so as she nears fifty.  Naomi Campbell has been a hero of mine for many years.

I remember the first time I ever saw Naomi Campbell.  She was doing a seductive dance in Michael Jackson’s “Keep it in the Closet” video.  She was an absolute sensation in my middle school suburban Detroit social circle at the time.  Me and my young girlfriends were fascinated by this dark skinned exotic beauty and her waist length hair.  There was some debate among us whether the hair was real or not.  I was on team weave but it didn’t even matter.  I loved that woman.

She was a stunning Black woman with African features. Her contemporaries were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and another favorite of mine Tyra Banks.  There had been successful Black models before but none as dark and lovely as Naomi at that time.

Some of you may be unaware that lighter skinned, European featured beauty is highly favored in the world.  Even in Black communities light skinned, straight haired looks are praised over dark skin and kinky hair.  I had childhood experiences that involved me being teased for being dark.  As an adult it’s been clear to me that most men prefer lighter, European women over African looking ones.  So it meant a lot to me as a young girl coming of age to see someone with dark features in the limelight.

Other models from the super model era have either retired or play different roles in the fashion industry now.  At forty eight years old Naomi is still working the runway better than anyone and I mean anyone.  Young models of the day can’t match her stage presence.  In April 2018 she was on the cover of “GQ” magazine.  Ms. Campbell shows no signs of slowing down.

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Naomi has a bad reputation.  She’s been accused of abusive behavior and has served time for her crime.  She paid her debt and hasn’t had any legal problems in years that I know of but I believe that Naomi is misunderstood.  It’s hard for Black women to stand up for themselves without being seen as being combative or aggressive.  Unfortunately, Black women, even tall and glamorous models are forced to defend and demand their worth themselves often in this world.  The world doesn’t just give people of African descent respect we quite often have to demand it.  I think Naomi may have just been demanding to get the respect she deserves.

Despite Naomi’s notorious temperament she seems very polite and gracious to me.  She doesn’t seem to take her lot in life for granted and she has worked very hard for all she has.  I also respect a person that is able to maintain long term friendships.  Friendship is under appreciated in this world and Naomi is still friends with some of her modeling colleagues from the 90s like Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista.  I respect and admire people that maintain long lasting friendships.  She also has a long term relationship with P. Diddy that I find to be, well, intriguing.

Happy belated 48th birthday to Naomi Campbell.  The diva, queen of the catwalk, hardest working woman in fashion, muse and one of my personal heroes and an inspiration to millions.

 

 

 

Nothing is Promised

Last week supermodel and America’s Next Top Modelfinalist, Winnie Harlow a.k.a Chantelle answered questions from Bravo’s Andy Cohen that set off, I won’t say controversy but a bit of social media cattiness from former America’s Next Top Model contestants and fans.  Winnie said that the show didn’t do anything to help her develop her career.  Other former contestants and fans think she’s being ungrateful.  But a few ANTM alumni agree with Winnie.

The first winner of America’s Next Top Model Adrianne Curry said years ago that the show didn’t do anything for her career.  Other models from early seasons said that the show not only didn’t help them become successful but it was a hindrance to getting signed with an agency.  Other former contestants on the show credit ANTM for giving them their start in the business and giving them a platform from which to speak.

I don’t have a problem with Winnie telling her story and giving her opinion on the matter.  But I do take her words with a grain of salt.  I watched her season of the show and she didn’t come across as a very likable character.  There was an arrogance and sense of entitlement about her and she wasn’t well liked by other cast mates in the Top Model House.

It’s hard to gauge how effective ANTM is in launching careers because there aren’t many super star models anymore.  Fashion magazines use actresses, reality show stars and the children of famous people in their ads.  The models that don’t fit into those categories may be successful but they aren’t household names like the super models of the 80s and 90s.

I am a long time fan of America’s Next Top Model and while viewing each season I have questioned whether many of the girls could really go on and model.  The contestants that are chosen are people that look good on TV but they don’t really look like people that you see walking in fashion shows or in fashion magazines.  I don’t think that it matter much because each season thousands of hopefuls audition to fill fourteen spots on the show.

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Tyra also uses the show as her own personal soap box.  She has used the show as a platform to challenge beauty standards and she picks models accordingly.  Yet, fashion models are overwhelmingly tall, thin, young and European.  ANTM has featured contestants that speak well to Tyra’s beliefs but I’m not sure they are what the fashion industry is looking for.

Nonetheless, I have seen ANTM contestants acting on TV programs and in print ads.  I follow many of the former contestants on Instagram and they seem to have entertainment careers.  But I’ll admit it’s always hard to tell who is successful and who isn’t from Instagram pages.

I’m sure being on a show like America’s Next Top Model is a great learning and opportunity for young models especially in the social media age.  But just like American Idol, The Voice and other talent finding competitions there are some contestants that are successful once their season is over and others that are never heard from again.

So it seems that being a contestant on ANTM is a lot like going to college.  You show up with hopes and dreams for the future.  Your experience in the program may give some valuable lessons that will help you achieve your goals but winning ANTM, American Idol, making it to the NFL or NBA draft does not in and of itself promise success.  Often times people that struggle in the initial stages of their career become stars.

When you hear Jennifer Hudson’s powerful voice remember that she was an American Idol loser and she only got as far as she did in the competition because Randy Jackson saved her.  Tom Brady wasn’t a top NFL draft pick and Michael Jordan didn’t make his school’s basketball tryouts one year.  You just have to make the most of your opportunities and keep plugging away at your goals.  I believe that people that don’t give up achieve a measure of success but stay humble because nothing is promised to anyone.

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No Make Up Lent 2018

I am not Catholic but I decided to observe Lent this year.  I was inspired by a short video that I saw on Twitter of a priest discussing the topic.  On a whim the day before Lent began I decided to not use make up for 40 days.  I took it as a new experience and challenge.

I am a light make up user.  I don’t use concealer, powder or foundation.  But I do enjoy black liquid eyeliner, black mascara and a nice bold lip color.  Getting ready in the morning is my favorite part of the day.  I have fun choosing what I’m going to wear and applying my make up.  I think of it as my time to spend on myself before I go out and try to satisfy the world.

The first few days of Lent I was very uncomfortable.  It was shocking to see my reflection when I passed a mirror. I felt like a few people that were use to seeing me with make up looked at me strange.  I felt like I needed to explain my appearance but I didn’t because I would have seemed very self centered because they probably didn’t think anything of my appearance at all.

I didn’t feel like I was doing my best when I wasn’t wearing make up because I feel that I look better with it.  I wanted to give up on my challenge early on and throughout Lent.  I didn’t feel like I was becoming spiritually enlightened or closer to God.  I just looked plain in the face and I didn’t see any value in that.

I wish I could say that I spent the time that I usually spent applying make up reading the Bible or in prayer.  I didn’t.  And I didn’t show up places fifteen minutes sooner than normal either.

I was really happy once Easter arrived and I could wear make up again.  It was like being reunited with an old friend.  Observing Lent didn’t have an Earth shattering spiritual affect on me but I do feel like I learned some discipline and I learned to put aside vanity for the sake of honoring God.  I removed a part of my life that is important to me and glorifies myself and put it to the side for a while.  I’m glad that I observed Lent this year and I am actually looking forward to doing it again next year.

The experience reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses:

Galatians 2:20 New International Version (NIV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

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Director Jeferson De debuts his film “Correndo atrás” at Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles; with cast made up of almost all blacks actors, movie details the difficulty of being a poor, black man in Brazilian society

Black Women Of Brazil

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Note from BW of Brazil: Of course by now, everyone knows about the blockbuster American film with the nearly all-black cast that’s breaking all sorts of box office records. I’m of course talking about the Marvel Disney film Black Panther, which was released as Pantera Negra a little less than a month ago.The film has been an instant smash in he United States, Brazil and around the world, but what else should be expected? The film’s budget was $200 million and it’s part of the hugely successful Marvel Comics superhero film brand.

Although films with a majority black cast are actually quite common in American film history, it’s still somewhat of a rarity in Brazil.But one film I am really looking forward to seeing debuted at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago, actually just about a week before Black…

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Real Talk: Money Saving Tips

I read a tweet a month or so ago from a millennial asking Generation X and Baby Boomers for financial advice.  I answered the tweet without actually answering the question.  I told her that I felt like most financial advice that I’ve seen given in the media is usually geared towards people with fairly high incomes so I can’t advise anything without knowing her situation.

I’ve often been frustrated by financial advice given through the media because it is usually unrealistic for people who make less than $70,000 annually.  Suze Orman expects people to have tens of thousands of dollars in retirement by thirty five.  I remember her telling someone on her show once that they just need to make more money as if it was that easy.

Most young Americans spend their youth paying back debts and have no opportunity to save for retirement or a home.  I’ve heard financial advisers tell their audience how to get the best interest rates on a mortgage.  Well if you are in the market to buy a home or retire you’ve already crossed a certain income and savings threshold.  There isn’t much advice out there for people that need it most.

But I have some financial advice for those with modest incomes.  I’ve never made a great deal of money but I’ve managed to accomplish a lot with what I have.  I got a second Bachelors degree.  I’ve travelled out of the country twice.  I’ve taken my mom on a few nice vacations.  I’ve bought a few cars.  And it’s not a problem for me to treat a friend to dinner once in a while.  I’ve never really been broke.

I will start with the only financial advice I’ve ever heard on TV that anyone can follow.  Many years ago Oprah aired a series on financial responsibility.  She had a man on the show who simply said, “Pay yourself first”.  He said no matter what you make or what you owe take a bit of your earnings and save it for yourself.  It really does work and we can all do this.

Learn to cook.  I’m far from a culinary expert but I have some skills in the kitchen.  If you don’t know how don’t worry, if you can read and follow a recipe I promise you that you can cook.  Cooking saves you from eating out which is very expensive.  Even fast food and convenience items from the store is expensive.  Learning to cook simple meals will save you money and will probably improve your health.

Clip coupons.  People kind of laugh when they see the coupons in my purse but I have learned that there are certain items that you never, ever have to pay full price for.  The Sunday newspaper consistently has coupons for toothpaste, body wash, cosmetics, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper and paper towel.  Retailers like Walgreens and CVS have their own coupon programs which can be coupled with your newspaper coupons.  The savings over time are significant.

Coupon with a purpose.  Coupons can be a double edged sword.  I am on the coupon list for a few retailers that I frequent.  I’ve saved money at clothing stores because of the coupons they send me.  Some retailers send coupons regularly and I feel like I need to use the coupon or else I am wasting money.  But the truth is I could save %100 by not buying that item.  Coupons only save you money if you were going to buy the item anyway and you can apply savings.  If you are just buying something so you can use the coupon you are wasting your money.

Shop with a purpose.  I’m an impulse buyer and I rarely have regrets.  So my personal policy is not to window shop because I can’t.  I will always find something I like and I won’t want to walk away from it.  Even if I leave the store without whatever item caught my attention I’ll come back for it next week.  I stay out of stores unless I am prepared to buy something and have the discretionary income to do so.

Don’t waste money buying money.  ATMs often have fairly high fees to get cash from their machine.  Use your own banks ATM or get cash when you shop with your debit card at the grocery or drug store.  Avoid charging more on your credit card than what you can afford to pay in a month.  Paying the interest on a credit card is a real drag especially if you only make the minimum payments.

So there you have it.  There are a few of my thoughts on maintaining a budget and saving money.  You can make a little go far with a good game plan.  Good luck.  Go out there and prosper.