After a crazy work week, beautiful weather on an off day is a welcome sight to say the least. The only way to make it better was a Harlem excursion. I hit the block.
Sometimes that real energy from real people is needed to keep you on point today and gear you up for the future waves. A key hub for the feel of the streets is a few feet away for the corner of 128th Street at 352 Lenox Ave. That’s the home of Black Star Music and Video. At least twice a month, I’d visit to see what new documentary titles were available to expand my growing collection.
Aside from carrying the latest music, books, magazines and DVDs, Black Star Music and Video has secured a spot in the annals of hip-hop as the go-to venue for classic rap battles. Loaded Lux, one of the best to ever do it, began his accession to legend with a stellar performance at the site against Midwest Miles. He later hosted events there for his own league, the Lion’s Den, in which current stars such as Head Ice, Goodz, Arsenal and K Shine cut their teeth.
Current leagues, such as the URL and Queen of the Ring, have utilized the facility to capture the essence and purity of the sport over the past two years.
To my chagrin, the gates were down when I arrived, and it appears they may be down for quite a while. At press time, further details of the growing story hadn’t been made available, but we’re on it!
Ironically, I was able to get my documentary fix directly across the street at Maysles Cinema, where I stumbled across a poster for a screening of “3½ Minutes Ten Bullets” later that night. Willingly the end of a beautiful day would be met with gloom, but it was a necessary view.
The film centers on the largely swept-under-the-rug case of a Black teenager, Jordan Davis, who was murdered by Michael Dunn, a middle-aged white man. Nov. 23, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. Dunn took it upon himself to play judge, jury and ultimately executioner at a gas station during an argument over the volume of the music coming from the SUV in which Jordan was a passenger. While the trials (plural) to bring Dunn to justice take up a good portion of the film, the story was made whole by showing the emotional toll the events had on Davis’ parents, Lucia McBath and Ron Davis, as they were subjected to a callous society that has painted Jordan and all Black men with the same thug brush and a judicial system that can be maneuvered through and around under the guise of the law.
As a film, I think I’d call it a must-see, but not in the movie-critic sense. I saw it and got angry—angry that a film such as this has to be made, angry that Davis will be forever 17, angry at the rationale used by Dunn to justify the act, even angry at the audience members who were cheering when the guilty verdict was read. It’s still REAL out here, and the climate as it stands right now shows it’s about to get REALER!
On a lighter note, Floetry weekend is upon us. The Reunion Tour hits the tristate beginning Saturday, July 18 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with R. Kelly and two headlining nights, July 19 and 20, at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill. If you can’t catch those shows, the following weekend, July 25, they hold court at the Grand Theatre at Foxwoods Resort Casino (Mashantucket, Conn.).
Over and out. Holla next week. Until then, enjoy the nightlife.