Write On Grrrl

Voice of Empowerment. Not reason.

Filtering by Category: Music

Celebrating the 4th of July with Censorship

I have a YouTube channel. If two videos constitute a channel.

It's under an alias. You know, to protect the innocent. Trust, there's no national security breaches going on here. Just outstanding professional quality concert footage, compliments of my husband, his Canon point and shoot and a newly discovered talent for video production. 

I'd rather keep it all on the down low, because I'm not sure how recording artists feel about having their live performances broadcast from unofficial sources. But in my mind, at least, we're doing a service, as are others who share the live experience. It's a chance to share the vibe of an in person experience and promote unsung talent.

To appreciate and celebrate. Period. 

Initially, the love was flowing through to the comment section as well: 'What a song those harmony's so tasteful'. And:  'I'm really in love with whoever posted this video. That show was amazing!!'

But as the views increased, a bit of negativity started to creep in:  'Come on bro, what are you wearing? Still love this song. Very good quality video. plus one-ing'. 

While this made me a bit uncomfortable, bottom line is that I'm a journalist. Supporter of free speech and all that. I don't censor.

Or do I?

I was pretty confident in my stance until this showed up:  'i'm praying that he does not get fat again'. 

Okay, let's review. The artist in question has struggled for the past decade plus, with serious life or death issues: drugs, alcohol, the media, pressures of fame. Real fans should know this, celebrate whatever victories he's rocked out, because in my opinion, there are many and just stop the hate. 

But apparently, there's a whole lot of people who are more than comfortable, under the anonymity of cyberspace, to snowball the negativity, without even showing their own faces. This reply, to the comment in question, came a few days later: 'This damn music industry f's up people's mind! He looks like he's in heaven and hell at the same time.'
 
Indeed. I'm with 'ya. Or I was until the same person followed up with: 'Please lose some weight. You are 5'6 I know it's a lot of pressure to live up to How does it feel video....us sistas need something to look at! Please! We love you too much! Also be free but get a stylist you are so fine when u put it all together.'

Seriously? Hold up a minute girlfriend--it's not wholly the industry's fault. Equal blame lies with the public. With you. Are you listening to yourself? The mere fact that someone chooses to share their talents with the world, and is living in the public eye, does not give you the right to critique their personal struggles. Please. 

I hold no illusions that the artist will even see our video, but stranger things have happened. Plus, I'm all about the positivity and comments like that don't reflect my life philosophy. So adios comment section. I've gone all Communist censor and disabled them, so we can get back to what's important.

The music.

 

This Way Out

Rhode Island's claim to fame is vast. The good: Coffee syrup, Del's lemonade, miles of coastline, Miss Universe. And the really, really bad:  The Station nightclub fire. February 20, 2003. One hundred lives lost.

While most of the world plays the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in the smallest state, we could probably do it in two. In other words, it's odd to meet someone whom you don't share any common relationships. Consequently, in times of tragedy, we all hurt.

Last weekend, when the news came about the Brazil blaze, it really hit home, maybe even harder than a tragedy over five thousand miless away from our shores, typically would. That's because the similarities between Saturday's Brazil tragedy and the one in my home state were sickeningly similar. 

John P. Barylick, a trial lawyer at Wistow, Barylick, Sheehan & Loveley PC and author of Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America's Deadliest Rock Concert, lays it all out in an outstanding essay for USA Today. 

If you're pressed for time, the most important take-away, to me anyway, is this:

"One of the most important lessons I learned from my experience in this case was that we all need to be aware that we cannot count on bands, concert promoters, club owners, bouncers -- or even fire officials -- to ensure our safety. We need to be our own best fire marshals. To be safe, go with your gut. If it feels wrong, or dangerous, leave. No show is worth your life."

After the fire at the Station, this was my mantra. I had a hard time returning to the live music scene at all, and when I did, it certainly wasn't belly up to the bar. I spent the evening two feet from the emergency exit, ready to bust open the escape hatch. I remember thinking: Will I ever be able to just enjoy the experience again?

Thankfully, yes. But, I realized this weekend, as the fear dissipated, so did my vigilance to develop an exit strategy. This, I am not proud of. So, I'm taking the Brazil nightclub incident as my own personal wake-up call. I will, once again be that, some would say, Debbie Downer, pointing out where the closest exit is and designating a meeting space outside, should something go horribly wrong.

 And if anything gets lit inside, beyond a birthday candle on a cake, trust, my crew is out.

I challenge you to do the same.

Your life might depend on it.

 

He Had A Dream: My Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Way back in November, 1992, I went on my last first date, with someone dark and handsome. (I initially thought he was tall. Not so much.) 

Cue 'Ebony and Ivory'. 

In the post Seal and Heidi, current Kayne and Kim world of 2013, where we've elected a black president to two terms, interracial love seems like no biggie. Twenty short years ago, in rural Rhode Island, trust me, it was. 

The facts: I graduated from a high school that had exactly ONE person of color. Yes, that would be any color, other than white. My school's integration came courtesy of John, a junior, who arrived on scene during the start of my senior year. Fall. 1988.

Yet, apparently, he wasn't the first black man to call Burrillville home. According to my grandmother, who was born in 1909 and showcased a racial political correctness reflective of her times, John was preceded by a cat, 'fondly' referred to as 'N---er Johnson', as well as a local branch of the Klan, you know, to keep the threat in-line.

My exposure to people of color, first came during my formative years courtesy of Sesame Street (Gordon, I owe you, man), then via a blind college roommate situation that ended badly. Very badly. So, when this dark and handsome co-worker asked me, to see, drum roll please, Malcolm X, this was, on many levels, one of my biggest tests. 

Ever.

I wish I could say that I easily stepped up to the challenge. But initially there wasn't anything easy about it. I remember thinking our relationship would be perfect--if we could only stay by ourselves, safely tucked away from the world within the confines of Andre's apartment. Here, there were no judgements.

Part of the problem was that I was used to going through my everyday life without a second glance. Or at least without the addition of complete-stop-in-your-tracks, head turning stupidness. Sometimes in curiosity. Sometimes in spite. All completely new to me. A co-worker once told me Andre and I were a 'striking couple'. Often, I have to go there, in order to avoid strangling someone.

In addition to the rubbernecking, I had to really open my eyes to what it meant to be black in America. As a young white woman, I never had to experience life as a minority--or be at the end of other people's prejudices. No driving while black scenarios for me. No, quite frankly, bullshit situations. There were so many things that Andre had to deal with on the daily that I never even considered. And now, if he was going to be part of my world, I needed to be part of his.

So, I had to make a choice.

Adapt and grow. Or give in, give up and take the easy way out. 

I don't think much thought is given to interracial relationships, or the type of person you have to be to work one successfully. You have to be incredibly strong. And freakishly confident. And not care that people are starring, sneering or yelling "OJ stay away from that" from a speeding car. You have to grow a pair. Say I don't give a fuck. And know that real love conquers all. 

But there's also a delicate balance. Because while you need to be able to protect yourself in this often non-colorblind world, you don't want to live life on defensive default, making untrue assumptions that everyone is going to give you a hard time. That just makes you a perpetuator of the hate. So, you've got to move beyond the angry, to a place of peace, where you see most people as good. Because, indeed, they are.

Fast forward to 2009 and the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. The R&B concerts of all R&B concerts. I was in musical heaven. As well as solidly within the minority. More like in the minority of the minority. In, fact, as a white person in America, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a social situation, where you could be more of a minority.

And it was a beautiful thing. 

Because I finally realized how truly comfortable I was, both in my own skin, and as Andre's wife. And people responded. A young usher displayed the most gracious of Southern hospitality and lent me a hand down the stairs. Another older woman, gave us directions and told us to 'Hold onto each other so you don't get lost'. Ladies in the bathroom asked if I was having a good time. 

No one cared what color my skin was. 

Because I didn't.

And really, isn't that how it should be?

Guest Post: CharityBuzz Celebrity Auctions. Dream Makers or Just Another Business Transaction?

Welcome back to my Duch friend Ester. She's returned, using her power of the pen, to talk about what happens when your life-long dream to meet Lenny Kravitz becomes a business transaction (and a bad one at that). Take it away Birthday Girl...

 

I Need A Love That Takes Me Higher. So High I'm Never Coming Down

by Ester Bos

 

My friend from Twitter won an online auction. The prize? Meet Lenny Kravitz backstage in Italy. She invited me to come along and asked for nothing in return. The auction was held by CharityBuzz. Don't be fooled by their well-chosen name. Even though they raise money for charities, Charitybuzz is not a charity. It is a company that makes money by holding online auctions for meeting your favorite celebrity. Their motto: "Do good. Live well".

My friend paid almost 3,000 dollars because she wanted to meet Lenny Kravitz. Part of her money went to Charitybuzz, and since they claim to raise money for charity, the other part of her money went to the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation for Justice and Human Rights. The founder and director of that foundation is Kerry Kennedy. She's also on the advisory board of Charitybuzz. Now you tell me, is there a conflict of interest?

Lenny Kravitz. The creator of the soundtrack of my soul. It was my lifelong dream to meet him. And just a business transaction to Charitybuzz. As long as we did get to meet him and were able to see part of his concert, everything went well according to them.

I don't think Lenny Kravitz knew how much money my friend had paid to see him. Of course no one can be bought. But maybe people shouldn't be put up for auction either. I know now that he just did what he always does: shake hands, photo, goodbye. I think Charitybuzz should have made that clear before people started bidding sky high and traveling half the world.

I know lots of people are thrilled to have their picture taken with Lenny Kravitz. But we all have our own truth. My truth is that I hold him so high that I don't want to take anything from him. So I was sad. And not because I had so little time with him. I felt sad because his meet and greets are planned in such a way I felt I couldn't even treat him as the human being that is. All shutdown. Yet, he seems so open in his music.

I do think I had a split second connection with Lenny. But this only happened because I broke the rules of his meet and greet. I imagine he has his reasons to keep people at a distance. What a difficult life that must be. Having to deal with such hollow interactions. I wonder why he makes the effort to meet his fans if this is the only way to do it. It would make me feel so lonely. I pray he has a different perspective and just feels loved. For he is.

When I wrote my blog on the meet and greet, people took note.

Lenny's mind blowing multi-talented Art Director unfollowed me on twitter. He has been such an inspiration to pursue my dreams. I miss the little chats we sometimes had. I miss him.

And Charitybuzz claims we won't get the photo that was taken at the meet and greet. They say Lenny's management decided not to release it because of the "negative blog" I wrote. I have no need for that photo. I don't care about photo's or trophies. I care about people. I feel devastated I was not able to make that clear.

Does Lenny Kravitz know about this, does he approve? This man, who struck lightning through my soul when he wrote songs like Believe and Dream.

I don't regret writing that first blogpost. I do regret going to the meet and greet: I wish I had found another way to thank Lenny for his positive impact on me. And it would have been best if I had just let him be.

I feel very sorry that my generous friend won't get her photo because of this. I don't know how to mend it. Charitybuzz hasn't done a thing to help her. Even though my friend had nothing to do with my blogpost, they feel she is treated correctly. Charitybuzz says they never promised her a photo in the first place. Isn't that funny?

Oh well, what was to be expected from a company that sent my friend to another continent for a meet and greet without a ticket or other formal proof? We had so much trouble getting into the venue because of that. Of course she complained about all that went wrong. But up till now my friend has gotten nothing from Charitybuzz but a very thoughtful 'too bad'. And of course they promised to change their small print.

Now what? Do good and live well.

For who ever that feels I need to be corrected: I'm sorry if I offended you. When I was at the meet and greet, I saw hard working people. And I know you did the best you could with the best intentions. You have been doing such a fantastic job in letting Lenny shine. Please don't stop now.

It took me a long time to decide whether I should write this. The last thing I want is that Lenny gets stained. Not even if it was Lenny himself who decided that I need to be rectified. For his message means the world to me. In the end I think I should continue to stand up for that message. So here it goes:

Let Love Rule ❤