Born 1946, Georgetown Guyana, South America. Broadcast journalist since 1968. Been living in the United States, since 1974. Has done extensive work in sales and marketing, and likes to write about culture in and around Baltimore Md. His personal passion is healthy living: www.losebumpsloselumps.com. Creator and Executive Editor of THECULTUREPAGEDOTCOM.
“THERE IS NO OTHER SUBJECT AS COMPLEX, MISREPRESENTED AND MISUNDERSTOOD AS HER OWN”
Part of the opening remarks embracing the brochure for Baltimore Md. Artist, ERNEST SHAW JR.
It is said his art is the “anthesis to whiteness”, as well as a response to racialized subjugation.
Aunt Jemima was the depiction of “subjugation” the “enslaved nanny” in the slaveowner’s kitchen, good for making pancakes, and eating them too!
Millions of bottles of pancake syrup with Jemima label, made the owners millionaires. Last year, when Pepsi Cola bought the company, they freed Jemima. Her picture with white apron, bulging cheeks, and overweight body, has been replaced with a simple label, Pearl Milling Company.
Ernest Shaw Jr. has taken her out of the kitchen and turned her into a mural to be admired. The apron and head scarf have been thrashed, and she is now a sexual provocateur.
This liberated view went on display, this Black History Month, (Feb. 2022) at the WORLD TRADE CENTER, the INNER HARBOR, Baltimore MD.
To measure it in teenage years, PIMP MY RIDE left the broadcast airwaves some 15 years ago. In case you are not familiar, rapper Xzibit and a crew of car remodeling experts “pimped out” “tricked out” a vehicle that looked destined for the junk yard and turned it into “come up and sit with me sometime”!
What do you think happens every year there is a car show? Engineers with wild imagination pimp your ride, so much so, the new ride’s magnetism triggers a divorce from your current “babe”, (vehicle) perhaps turning “it” “her” into a hand me down.
Now you are fired up to test out the new “mama” (excuse the male talk).
I am at the Baltimore Car Show, Baltimore Convention Center, and here is what I saw, as men, women and children bit their nails, slapped their chests, kissed their sweethearts contemplating driving the new Ford 350, Chevy Corvette, the Kia Soul, or the new push peddle roadster.
Here’s an introduction to the 2022 Corvette, starting at $90,000.00
The person I am about to introduce, is no trick neither is his mother, they are the treats that will stay in your memory forever.
Mankind has always ben in love with the water. His exploratory nature led him to the discovery of glorious underwater reefs, the realization of the world not being square, but round.
Using the waterways made some nations bigger and better than others, also led to the beginning and exploitations of slaves, primarily from Africa.
Man wants to live on the coast, not necessarily in the jungle infested with dangerous animals, and where he is subjected to numerous unknown diseases.
In time he set up metropolises but preferred the good life on the water. Coastland property became competitively priced, and so did the prices for accommodations. To stay in some of the finest hotels along the coastline now requires ample advance planning, to see the sun rise and set beyond the sight of the waterline.
Here lately, some have found a better way of enjoying the water, sailing on PONTOONS, with close friends. You can do that too, on the largest estuary in the United States, the CHESAPEAKE BAY.
I went to the Chesapeake Bay Boat Show, this January 2022, at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Maryland.
One of the new awakenings for me is “pontoon boating”; and this is what I found:
It is the distinctive characteristic found among the people whose ancestral connections are near or around the equatorial regions of the world. That emblazoned distinction is, COLOR.
Where I grew up the current vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris is called “dougla”, that African and East Indian conjugation product. In the United States she is South Asian. It has a better ring to it, when described as “une femme noire” (French).
Braids of hair, saris, lavish gold ornaments and clothing have always been identified with “people of color”; they just did not know until later, that there exist people of colder regions, who love color even more.
Why did the Queen Isabella finance Christopher Columbus journeys to the warmer colorful regions of the world? Gold, and other instruments of color.
Today color is in, and the originators, are not selling it as raw material, but as finished products. There are paintings, utensils, jewelry, clothing, shoes; were Queen Isabella alive today, no steals, unless she paid under the table.
I recently travelled to a mixed media event, hosted by a man of color (un homme noir) and artistry, DAVID MCKENZIE.
Christmas 2021 is not going to be a repeat of 2020; not at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, housed at the Meyerhoff Symphony Auditorium.
I am attending a performance by LESLIE ODOM, JR. He made it big starring in the musical HAMILTON, in 2016 (see pic below); and bled the hearts of women as legendary Sam Cooke, in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, the movie.
The Meyerhoff is not the Lyric, though both auditoriums are within kissing distance of each other. The crème de la crème attends the Meyerhoff, and appropriate dress is expected from the orchestra, attendants, et al.
Should I say, the attendees ran the gamut, and the concert seemed sold out. Odom does not have a hit record; he is not heard on the Black radio stations in Baltimore, and three years ago he was hardly ever known. He is just 40, married, with two children, so what is bringing out this crowd on a warm December? Is it Odom, the new Meyerhoff staff, someone, or something else? I remember the clean-cut altar server looking Odom, singing the Nationwide Insurance commercial. That too has changed.
I would like to start with orchestra conductor JONATHAN RUSH. Tall, full of spirit, and doubled as the Master of Ceremonies, as he “turned up the volume” introducing his and Baltimore’s own, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and subsequently, the star of the evening, Leslie Odom JR.
I looked at Jonathan dressed in the expected black, but not the customary tuxedo. He sported a pineapple dread hairstyle, that left “no doubt” it was the repeat of the 1968 Olympics, when two African Americans made headlines, “this is who we are !”.
Leslie Odom JR., stepped out in white sneakers, a red suit, white tunic, and a boxed fade. He got standing ovations. In an open stadium he would have received flying undergarments in addition to the yells and kisses, this night.
And get this, at the end of the show, evaporating snowflakes descended from the roof, as though we were “dashing through the snow.”
Am I at the Meyerhoff?
LESLIE ODOM JR among other songs, sang, Sam Cooke’s, A CHANGE IS GONNA COME.
The above phrase “No Digidy, No Doubt”, is unacceptable in any English class, Elementary, Middle or High school. In college only if one is writing a paper researching its origins, and whether such a phrase can be embraced by society at large.
In 2013, BLACK LIVES MATTER, was launched, when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the shooting death of a Black man Travon Martin. George’s father was well connected, and a former judge. African Americans went ballistic.
Then came the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The anti-establishment fever got high pitched. Middle white America showed solidarity. Donald Trump dismissed the movement, when the Charlottesville Virginia incident was committed by white supremacists’ activists, with Trump saying, “all lives matter, and they were good people on both sides”.
Was white America going to look the other way, as the owners of cotton fields did in the 1800’s?
The American white suburbia planted signs for all to see BLACK LIVES MATTER! Television commercials began using more black and Asian models, fortune 500 companies were quickly diversifying their boards of directors, and black art graced the entrances of museums, such as the Baltimore Museum of Art.
For the next two months, little known black artists took bows and curtsies as their works were displayed. It was hip-hop artists Dr. Dre and Blackstreet, who wrote the words, “no Digidy no, Doubt”. “I LIKE THE WAY YOU WORK IT” has a different meaning in the “rap” song. These art works are for public scrutiny, at the BMA this month, with “must see” written emblazoned.
I have not attended many cabarets; however, my recollection saw most attendees bring food and drinks, silverware, cups, plates and tablecloths. I’ve seen individuals set up for sale to others, of what they brought to the cabaret.
I have never attended a white cabaret, except for the movie Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman (2001).
Why is it called a cabaret anyway? Originally titled La Cabaret, The Club, to distinguish itself from The Tavern. Some people wanted to upgrade their surroundings while having a “drink” and not be uninterrupted by the overly indulged i.e (drunks).
The separation became more acute when club owners added music. From the piano, the concept morphed to live bands, comic acts, and new fashion outfits. In the black community, it was reliving Harlem of the 1920’s.
Josephine Baker, an African American from St. Louis, Missouri, won the award (in the public’s mind in the 1920’ s) before Nicole Kidman, with moves to the Cancan musical genre, very few could successfully imitate. The French male population had mental seizures watching her perform.
Two weeks ago, I attended a cabaret in downtown Baltimore MD. M.A.P. : Maryland Art Place. It was entitled A 14 KARAT CABARET:
In the original sense, it was something tedious, boring, ..like sitting through a rehearsal with participants who kept forgetting their lines and falling out of character; for some, sitting on a stoop waiting for something, anything to happen to break the monotony.
For others its going downtown in a fancy car, dressed up riding along the main street, the main “drag”, watching the world lose its mind going in and out of stores, eating ice cream, playing loud music; street vendors hacking their wares!
“Brother can you spare a dime” got replaced with a “drag” on that “cig” (cigarette). That drag was a “hit”, to settle the nerves that called for that nicotine infusion. Today it’s a drag on a “blunt”. In the 1960’s, high schoolers of the PEYTON PLACE era, described their female dates, as “drags” for the night.
Then there is the dress-up person, usually a male, who has become so enamored with a female celebrity, he impersonates her in the way she walks, talks, dresses, and apply make-up. He then is said to be in “drag.”
The person being impersonated must have a measure of dominion over her followers, she then is attributed the title QUEEN, thus the morphed phrase, DRAG QUEEN.
Black men have made drag queening very famous, where they have become more celebrated than the ones they are imitating, the most famous drag queen in the world being Rhu Paul.
As one who covers culture in and around Baltimore Maryland, I heard there is a thriving community of Drag Queens in Baltimore, and their post pandemic party was being staged at the world’s oldest theatre, THE ARENA PLAYERS, playhouse.
If I were to mention names like van Gogh, Geogia Okeefe or Dean Mitchell; for those familiar, the light bulb flashes will blow up in their minds, for I am talking about famous watercolor painters.
The 20th century witnessed the advent of acrylic painters. Acrylic allows for more versatility; the artist /painter, can use this on multiple surfaces, paper, wood, canvas, glass, metal, plastic
The watercolor artist is “more or less” limited to a white surface; however, the next day, that landscape or portrait can be changed with relative ease, unlike the acrylic painter.
Hence the watercolor artist/painter, spends enormously more time at the craft than the acrylic artist; removing that upturned lip in the portrait; catching that subtle shade, the moment the cloud passed over the mountain top, the froth at the top of the wave in the Atlantic Ocean. Sultry enchantment.
Through December 4th, 2021, the Baltimore Watercolor Society enjoined with several acrylic artists to display their new works, at the McBride Gallery, on Main Street, in Annapolis MD. I made an appearance.
WHEN ONE TALKS ABOUT THE “SOUL” OF A MAN; MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, IT REFERS TO THE CONSCIENCE of the BEING; THE MOTIVATION.
THEN THERE IS THE RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION OF “SOUL”. Some BELIEVE THE SOUL DIES, while others, that the soul is immortal!
Outside of philosophy and in particular religion, “SOUL” is often spoken of in the context of ART.
This is more apparent, because whether it be music, poetry, still or performing art, it is how that individual or the collective see life or have experienced it.
In this edition you are looking with me at two women, who have decided to place their language of “SOUL” on public display.
First, MEGAN LEWIS. She wanted to share her “joys, frustrations and prideful moments of Black women”. For that, her “language of soul” became her emotional expose: the thickness of black women: lips, noses, eyes, and the unabashedness with which black women embrace color. Too dark for Yellow or Fuchsia! Not anymore!
Next is Mayble LEE, A JAZZ DANCER AND SINGER, born in Atlanta Georgia. And what is she to Baltimore, MD.?
For this, welcome the voice of DEREK PRICE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUBIE BLAKE CULTURAL CENTER:
These two exhibitions are currently at the EUBIE BLAKE CENTER, on HOWARD STREET, in Baltimore MD.