30 January 2010

"here's a funky introduction of how nice i am ..."

ok, new project.

i've decided to teach my three-year-old music-lover about hip-hop. i fell in love with the music and the phenomenon at a young age, and feel a responsibility to teach my child that there are and some very intelligent, creative and positive hip-hop artists out there, before she goes to school and is inundated with the pseudo-thuggery and mindless materialistic blabber of most "rap" music out these days.

the new project may sound a little random or silly, but i truly believe hip-hop has great value. there is so much perspective on history, culture, politics and spirituality couched within the music that often gets overlooked in favor of the hottest beat or the flashiest persona. i want her to be exposed to the great lessons hip-hop offers the world, instead of the negativity and madness. i've already started thinking about lessons in musical etymology through hip-hop's notorious sampling. oh you really like talib kweli's "get by," honey? well, that song liberally samples "sinnerman" by nina simone. here, let me play it for you now!

seriously, people. the last thing an over-thinker like me needed was a kid, over whom i could obsess about fostering awesomeness. but there's no turning back now! BWAHAHA!

this all started when my daughter watched a commercial that featured the instrumental to "rebirth of slick" by digable planets. she was instantly captivated by the hook, and walked around for the next few days letting her family know she was, indeed, "cool like dat." i couldn't resist the opportunity. i sat her on my lap and pulled up the full-length video on youtube with my laptop, just to see her response. i thought for sure the kid wouldn't sit through a video that long without colorful visual effects, upbeat singing, and all the bells and whistles of her standard nick jr. experience. but i was dead wrong. my toddler watched the low-key, somber, black-and-white footage with the focus of a great explorer studying an ancient map. her brows furrowed, she tried her best to hear and understand the lyrics. she nodded to the beat and seemed to take in the general "vibe" of the song. i was wowed!

at her request, i've played the video for her several times since then. just today it occurred to me to play her something else. the trouble lies finding songs that will capture the SPIRIT of hip-hop without explicit lyrics or adult content. i thought and thought, and then a lightbulb flashed. "blue cheese" by the UMCs may not be fully-approved fare for a bona fide hip-hop "head," but it's ideal for a little kid. everyone's dressed in bright colors, smiling and dancing around. the beat is cheery and upbeat. there's even a monster in the video! besides all that, hass g and kool kim were pretty good lyricists. not a hard sell for the midget. she loved it, and asked to watch "the cheese song" again!

i've now created a youtube playlist of all the videos i'd like to play for my little music prodigy as i teach her about one of my favorite music genres. mos def's "umi says" made the list, as did "fugeela" by the fugees.i threw in some "ladies first" by queen latifah for girl power and afrocentrism, while de la soul's "breakadawn" will challenge her aptitude by introducing complex lyrical cadences. i'm sorry to report that "B.O.B." by outkast will probably get cut from the list. i found the cable tv edit of the video, so there are no dirty words, and the colorful video accompanies the fast-paced, dance-friendly song perfectly, but uhm ... there are strippers in the video. don't think i can justify that one. maybe i'll add "the whole world" instead ...

anyway, i'm hoping to have this be an evolving playlist that grows as my girl does. check it out! i'd love to see feedback and suggestions on this, and not even just for hip-hop! suggest some great songs you think my kid would like. i'll thank you in advance to contributing to her awesome-ification.

03 January 2010

i have that dream too, val ...

the best 80s movie ever made is "real genius" starring val kilmer. what does that have to do with poetry, teaching, or leaving the country? precisely EVERYTHING. watch this here clip.

p.s. actually, my dreams usually involve waiting for trains, buses or planes ... and never boarding them. or barely boarding them in time and then being taken on some sort of dangerous ride and forgetting where i was supposed to be going. go figure.

in honor of the return to work ...

miss wright, found

saying out of doorway
into mouth:
i do not know, child -
child, i do not know
sit down, child, or stand
make a mayhem
i cannot abide by
i cannot reside within
the high-pitched
docudrama of your violent
hair and sneakers.

miss wright, found out
of her mindful mouth
into a haunted hallway
of dead children
dressing for their funerals
grooming for their murders
doing their zombies down
the hallway outside the mouth
of madness
pressing their empty

miss wright, found in
the lunch line
Miss Wright, will you come to my funeral?
Miss Wright, will you come to my funeral? miss
wright, found breathing
out-mouth cataclysm
i do not know, child
child, i do not know.

02 January 2010

six random things

1. when the only males who come on to you are your middle school students, old guys in caribbean restaurants and men whose cars don't work, maybe you should consider relocating.

2. if i were on twitter, i would follow this guy.

3. i'm going to flush three ice cubes down the toilet right after typing this entry, in hopes that it will cause a snowstorm big enough to require school cancellations on monday. my goddaughter taught me this. my feet are already cold.

4. these are the books i'm reading (slowly but with the best of intentions) all at once: "eros the bittersweet" by anne carson, "uncommon grammar cloth" by cheryl pallant, "wind in a box" by terrance hayes," teaching english abroad" by susan griffith.

5. i just ordered a proof of my chapbook yesterday. did i say that in my blog from yesterday? damn, i might have to edit this.

6. everything i've ever felt about communication and its responsibilities is summed up in this poem.

01 January 2010

"here comes that new day ..."

if you time it perfectly, all you have to do is go to sleep one night ... and when you wake up, it'll be next year. i didn't do that last night, but i'm comforted by the fact that it's possible.

i'd like to leave the country ... say, tomorrow. i've been researching some u.s. expat websites so that i can bug successful runaways about the how-to of this whole bit.. please tell me if you know of any.

this house smells like burnt things: popcorn, milk, plastic, toast. is that a sign that people live here?

i want to read everything terrance hayes has ever written.

i'm not prepared to simultaneously be a realistic person and a mother. the thought of my little girl being told "no" after tiptoeing up to some kid on the playground inquiring about whether or not her dress is pretty, makes me feel violent. nothing's fair, is it? humans suck. why'd i have to make one of my own?