Now that we’re settling into fall, having established the back-to-school routine, we have a much earlier bedtime. I for one am glad to make it an early evening, meaning that dinner is earlier and so is bedtime. My new routine is to be in bed by 10 p.m., from where I watch the 10 p.m. news on WPIX, channel 11. The sadness of the daily news—both local and global—is addressed through thoughtful commentaries that look at the root causes and effects of the issues, which I find interesting. This show is then followed by Arsenio Hall! Because it’s on directly after the news, I so enjoy not having to change channels; I just sit back and watch some good TV.
Hall is rocking. In coming back, he has taken the late night talk show to another level. The set design has changed, in that he does his introductory standup in front of a stage curtain a la Ed Sullivan. He lets his band, the Posse, get a long play on camera so the TV audience gets to hear a little of that funk, and the girl upfront wails on the keyboard; it’s a nice shot. Then, it’s showtime—actually, it’s commercial time, but when the show returns, it’s time for the guests, who range from outlandishly interesting to really good interview subjects.
I haven’t been able to catch every show, but I did see Kendrick Lamar (named after Eddie Kendricks, but without the “s”). Lamar’s performance was on. Lamar is a rapper who’s currently leading in votes and is nominated for BET’s Hip-Hop Awards, which will be hosted by Snoop Lion.
Born and raised in Compton, Calif., to young parents, Lamar related, “I grew up with my parents, watching them party at a very young age. I learned a lot about alcoholism, and that’s one of the messages I bring to hip-hop.” According to Lamar, “It’s not just a challenge for the moment, but what are you going to do for the future generations, for the universe moving forward? It’s not just about the moment.” So every one of his raps has some sort of positive message. The musicians in the backing band smoke! The music was funky, and he was rapping and, as he stated, “just having fun.”
Lamar performed his latest song, “Collard Greens,” with rapper ScHoolboy Q. So many of the words were bleeped out, I didn’t know what that song was about. However, based upon the direction of some of ScHoolboy’s hand gestures, I don’t think that particular song was appropriate.
Lamar is also about keeping the hip-hop culture alive. Following in the footsteps—picking up the baton, if you will—of Tupac and working with Dr. Dre, Lamar is a proud member of Black Hippy. This is a group consisting of those of the same culture, committed to keeping hip-hop alive, independent of external forces.
While some of Hall’s jokes fall flat, being the true professional that he is, he saves the moment with quick wit. As a result, the scene ends up being funny after all. Considering everything, I give the show a thumbs up. There’s just one thing I want to know: Does Hall look a little weird to you? Not weird like freaky weird, just weird, weird. I don’t mean to be offensive or anything, but dude, what’s up?
To show you how fast the world is spinning and things are changing, they’ve changed since the beginning of writing of this column. You may have properly assumed from the first few paragraphs that I was a Lamar fan; well, I am, but there’s just one thing. While downloading songs from iTunes, I checked out some Lamar songs for the list. Well, my dear readers, each Lamar song had so much cursing in it, I could hardly believe my ears. No way could I add any of the raps to my playlist, which I play over a portable attached Sony speaker (available from Costco’s) for all within listening distance to hear. It’s bad enough I have a recording by Ludacris rapping, “I want to know what is your fantasy.” I slowly backed out of that search and went on to something a little more family-friendly, know what I mean?
Happy birthday to Nina DeWees. Happy anniversary to Steve and Barbara Williams and Seymour James and Cheryl Chambers.
While I mentioned that Harlem now has available space for renting a work space (Harlem Garage), the city has finally unrolled Spaceworks, which will offer affordable work spaces for artists in New York City. Created and developed by the city in 2011 with a financial contribution of $5.3 million in capital funds, the plans consist of five work sites, totaling 30,000 square feet, located across the city to provide rental space for artists of various mediums.
The first site, a 3,800-square-foot space, recently opened in Long Island City, Queens. The space contains three rehearsal rooms for dance and theater and a practice studio for musicians. The second site is located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, and is set to open in October or November. Two 200-square-foot areas will be used as visual art studios.
According to New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, who spearheaded the effort, “People have been saying for decades, literally, that there has to be some solution for affordability for artists.” Performing arts rehearsal spaces will be rented on an hourly basis, ranging from $12 to $16 per hour. The art studios in Gowanus will be rented on an annual basis for $350 per month. Artists can enter a lottery for a Gowanus studio starting in early September. Information is available at spaceworksnyc.org.
The controversial issue on the campaign front is whether school children should be allowed to have cellphones. Hmmm. According to mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio, “How on earth are parents going to monitor and direct their kids and keep on top of their kids if their kids don’t have cellphones? It’s a safety issue for parents.”
I for one am onboard with this discussion. While I haven’t yet caved and purchased an iPhone for my daughter, who is now in second grade, I am very concerned of how to reach her should there be an emergency. I understand that the phones can be programed so the calls that can be made are to the parents and the only calls received are from the parents. That sounds good so far.
Most recently, a Harlem disaster plan meeting was held at the Harlem State Office Building. I have packed $20 in Julia’s backpack in a little wallet that she knows is there just in case she has to get in a cab and get home. I’m thinking that for now, I will wait until third grade for the cellphone, which, by the way, won’t be an iPhone.
Until next week … kisses