I used to watch Dolemite movies in college as a late night goof with friends. I never knew much about the backstory of the star Rudy Ray Moore and I figured there wasn’t much to what he’d pulled together. So when Eddie Murphy came out with Dolemite Is Ny Name on Netflix, I didn’t figure it was worth watching. Fortunately, a very trusted friend pushed me to watch it and I am glad I did. It was a celebration of black culture and ingenuity. I hadn’t realized 1) Rudy Ray Moore intended to make a silly character/movie (I’d assumed he was more of an Ed Wood character) and 2)he was essentially an amateur folklorist, capturing a rich aspect of black culture that many others might have preferred to stuff into the dustbin of history.
Murphy was really great in it, but the other two standout performances were Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin (Dolemite’s reluctant director), and Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed (Moore’s protegee, trusted confidante, and muse).
Another recommendation from my amazing friend was Small Axe by Steve McQueen. It is a series of 5 full-length films about the Afro-Caribbean struggle in UK in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. This was exceedingly moving and I am sure I will watch again. It is one of those things I will get in box set if I am able to. Truly all classic.
This interview with Steve McQueen rocked my world. Loving this man FOREVER.
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Another friend hipped me to this new album Breathe by Dr. Lonnie Smith. The track below is my favorite on it
Before the month is out, I just want to share a few things that gave me life as of late.
The Last Black Man In San Francisco
This movie was stunningly beautiful. When I saw the trailer I thought it was going to be sort of the same thing as Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melancholy but it was more like Atlanta if Atlanta was replaced by San Francisco. It was eerie but exciting to see streets I walk so very often these days through the eyes of “natives”. Spoiler alert: It’s not just about San Francisco 😉
Tiny Desk Concerts: Lizzo and Jeremy Dutcher
Two of my faves recently had TDCs. So queer, so visually engaging, such music to my ears. What is it about that damn tiny desk that conjurs such sweet magic?
Me! on No Manifestos Podcast
I had a really fantastic conversation with my old coworker Stuart Sierra about tech and activism and other things for his new podcast No Manifestos. I am super pleased with how it turned out! Please do listen.
Just sharing one of the things that lifted my spirits this month….
Jeremy Dutcher is a classically-trained queer Canadian Indigenous tenor, composer, musicologist, performer and activist. He is a member of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) band of the Tobique First Nation in North-West New Brunswick, and after doing a research project exploring old wax cylinder recordings of Maliseet songs that were no longer known to the young people (due to being banned by the government by way of the Indian Act), he decided to revive them in post-classical arrangements for a contemporary audience. The result of this 5-year project is his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. I seriously can’t stop listening to this. I love him, his gorgeous voice, the whole project. More of this. YES.
The last few months have been tricky for me. In some ways they’ve been super fulfilling and in others they have been exceedingly frustrating. But through it all I’ve been grateful for my family, friends, comrades, and even strangers who’ve been eager to grab coffee or lunch and talk, offer help, or just join me in little adventures. I’m also exceedingly grateful for literature, music, culture, the pulse of humanity. Here are are few things in that vein that have keep my spirits up.
Panic At The Disco – Pray for The Wicked
I rediscovered this band (Well, it’s only one guy and a bunch of hired guns these days really, right? But whatever..) this year and this album is kinda corny but fantastic. Brendon Urie’s voice is gorgeous and the whole album never fails to lift my spirits.
Direct Action by L.A. Kauffman
This book was invigorating in a way I did not expect. As a person that has participated in direct action in the past, it was great to see myself and my peers reflected in this story as part of a legacy of global resistance.
Palestine Underground is a short documentary by Boiler Room about the lengths the young folks in the Palestinian hip hop and techno underground will go to get together and party. I was moved and inspired by their spirit and love of life despite the hardships of life in disputed territory.
Cindy Milstein on The Final Straw Radio
This is a long but crucial interview with a preeminent anarchist thinker on the topics of death, grief, mourning, care, and institution building. A lot of the things she has to say about building circles of care are close to my heart and the work we are doing in my collective CoLET.
A few things I have been grateful for as I get into this month.
For some reason, I missed it when Beck dropped his latest album Colors in October of last year. I am glad I stumbled upon it recently. It is JAMMIN!
#Rojava playlist. In northern Syria, women are leading (and literally fighting for!) an all-encompassing revolution. This playlist is a beautiful tribute to them and the continuing struggle.
I was on a flight the other day and with time to kill, I finally sat down and watched Big Little Lies. I seriously thought I would hate it, but it gripped me from the first episode. The formation of this sisterhood of mothers was really moving to me. I love my mamafriends!