Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coffee & Brooklyn: London

The hardest part about trying to become a famous writer is the trying part. Honestly, if I hid an addiction to cocaine or heroin, I'm sure my work would be more profound and visceral, but I only have the experiences lined in the streets of California's Bay Area and have an allergic reaction to needles and anything (outside of my finger) that needs to go up my nostrils. I'm a horrible candidate for an addict. Outside of my need for caffeine and shoes (both easily cured by a trip to DSW that allows me to walk in with my Starbucks Skim Grande White Mocha), I may be one of the most boring persons walking this side of the Brooklyn bridge.

This my reason for touring life. As an artist, one must find life to write about, that is - if it doesn't find you. And this is how I landed in Heathrow Airport back in 2002. And the food poisoning followed me for the two weeks that followed but I was certain that I would find a nook or cranny worth living and then writing about. It would take me a couple of years, minus a run in with promoters and fans before I realized, I don't need the experiences as much as I thought. I just need the coffee. And more importantly, the shoes. It is at Cafe Nero that I am reminded of Heights Coffee shop in Brooklyn. A sleek representation of life, and the reason I've allowed myself a rest from the 11 Starbucks in the central London area - this is my attempt to find some morsel or unique idea through osmosis of coffee beans as I walk down the cobble stone street a mile below the Angel tube station. Like Brooklyn, London has such quaint tree lined streets, one would never guess it existed in the memory of Jack The Ripper, or more recently Love Actually and Spice Girls.

Brooklyn has always been a hidden jewel.

Hidden in its bosom: the Brooklyn Museum, Botanical Garden and Main Library. You can lose yourself for hours in the borough of Babylon listening to music, sitting in the park or drinking at one of the many cafes without ever receiving physical assault or losing your wallet to the wiles of its sexy older sibling, Manhattan. This is where the resemblance between London and Brooklyn end. London is expensive, fast and dirty. The bus rides are cramped and cost 2 pounds each ride, no matter the fact that it’s a two part bus ride to one location. That’s right – Big Ben’s home does not offer transfers people. And don't think of asking for any special accommodations on your sandwich, there are no cheese substitutions. Very un-American, I will have you know.

Still, it is in the café Nero or Itazza lining the streets of London like the heavenly arches that anything and everything is at your command. Double shot with hazelnut syrup and light foam cappuccino!? Enjoy, not too hot, plus whipped, with demerara on the side…Done! It is an amazing moment in the coffee lover’s life. And once your piping hot cup of fortune rests on your tray, next to your muffin of choice, and you search the café for a spot to write and dream and produce, you whimper in defeat.

The space is filled with people on cell phones, a TV blaring and a baby feeding on organic apple juice. This is when you remember your laptop carriers holds the key to silence: headphones. And so the dream can be fulfilled. Heights Coffee, resting outside of the 7th Avenue subway station, swarms with people and laptops and coffee tinted air. The leather chairs steal and hold tight your body heat and the establishment offers free wi-fi as well as, electrical plug ins for the battery drained laptop holders, like myself. I will write about London, I decide, sipping the mocha like a secret, still hot to my tongue. I will write about the Cafe that took my coffee order and perfected it for the sake of my smile. I will write about the difference between Flatbush Avenue and London cobblestone. I will be cunning and liken the cream to the wrap over my shoulders and the smell of Guatamelan beans. I won't fear the workers weren't paid fair wages, that is another writing altogether. And honestly, I need another cup of coffee before I take on that project.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

London day 3 (memories)

penzance, huh?never heard of it. so i strap my freshly showered body into the bed and try to catch 2 hours of sleep before we leave, when i realize -- damn, its up already. so i wrap my red peacoat around me and wait for the snoring to really start. don't know if i did or didnt disturb my car mates with the nasal symphony, but my back feels like someone threw brooklyn brown stones at me while i was sleep. my neck is stiff and my knee, the right one - the one that still swells after that good fall down the stairs of union square subway station, needs stretching so the cartilage can ease up and that shimmer, that feels like a really bad orgasm can go away. thankfully, the brits i roll wit have a schedule. every two to two 1/2 hours we pull over for stretching and cappuccinos. with a shot of hazelnut and a prawn mayo sandwhich, im cool. quick bathroom break, where i compromise my body parts for a touch-free toilet experience. and back in the car. my mates: peter, david and sound man jason are funny dudes. david and i are the smoke-free pair while peter and jason need to light up every free of the car moment. its hilarious. seriously. its almost like me with shoes, but less sexy heels and more penzance: i am astounded. its a beautifully lined town directly on the sea and i am in love. luckily we are staying two nights, so i promise myself a long walk with lots of pictures. checking into the B&B (bed and breakfast) we meet Pam. she's a cute older british (obviously) woman, with peppered hair and kind eyes. she leads me to my bedroom with personal bathroom and i almost forget that we're to meet downstairs for theatre check in and dinner. the bed is so soft, i'd give up a kidney to bring it back to the states. i laid down and an imprint of my backside sunk into the mattress. minutes later im downstairs and we're walking to the theatre which is just up the hill. the hill is unforgiven. my thighs are burning and my lungs are hurting and jason and peter puff their ciggies along as if this shyt is easy. i know i need to get in shape with the smokers are walking up the hill with such ease. the theatre's festival is in the process of poetry dating servicing... umm, yea. so im taking pictures - cause no way in hell could this go down in the states, when in my peripheral i notice a young man with a mohawk. it is indeed: logan, from mexico city. (american poet that just left nyc after featuring at the bowery poetry club and hanging at the nuyo) we are both excited to see a familiar face and catch up downstairs before his gig begins. i promise to listen a bit before dinner, as we havent eaten a meal all day. i find my roadbuddies and they are snacking happily on cranberry and brie sandwiches and some other thangs that look fancy including potato cake (mile high pieces of potato smashed together and sliced to look like a piece of cake). wow i offer. because if you know me, you know i dont stray too far from the food i know. so the cranberry and briepep sandwhich will be a NO. but thank you for thinking of us artists. and thats real. however, all the fellas fill up on the morsels and i rub my growling abdomen and make my way upstairs, daydreaming about the thai restaurant down the street. logan performs a couple of pieces. this is when my growling begans to effect my hearing. i can no longer hear the poems he's reading, but recipes for french toast, turkey burgers with cheese topped with turkey bacon and gumbo. after the 5th poem, i run to the exit and let jason and peter know thai food for me. immediately. its less than a 2 minute walk. and when we walk in, i dont even shudder at the loud ass kids with their pussywillow parents. im trynna talk myself into not getting 3 sides and an entree and settle on sweet n sour type dish of chicken and vegetables with egg fried rice. its a beautiful thing. the fellas get a bbq dish and crispy duck. i try the duck. its ok. kind of dry, but they say that's what its like. i also taste the bbq, thinking its also duck, and smile "its just like beef!" uh no. "sorry mahogany. that's the pork!" oooh. the glazed meat and bone lay on my plate stalking me for the rest of the night. laughing at my foolishness and taunting me with a possible date with morning, i check out logan's workshop on performance than head to the theatre for one of the best performances in england! ever. its energy matches the 300 plus theatre @ deptford back in 2004 and i sell out of everything before remembering 5 books i left in the room and running to get those at the break, just to sell outta those too. nice. this makes me feel good, especially since i bought some shoes after the workshop. later that nite. logan and i will become repeat offenders at the thai restaurant, talk about poetry slam and the ups anddowns before making our way to the mixer. this is where i will hold my first cuban cigar, take pics and celebrate the event with the champagne and crumpets crew before retiring around 10pm to my room for my first dose of dubplate drama (love it!!!) and a bowl of instant oatmeal (yes i brings my food from the states!!). tomorrow, we have a drive ahead of us back to bristol. but it is free of performance and i only have one meeting with a manchurian poet re: publishing. free days rock!

london 2 (memories)

this is when i run to the coach station, courtesy of david, just in time to make it to the london gig @ holloway, the women's prison. nii set this joint up and sprahla and el crisis are the fellow performers. i wait in the train terminal at kings cross. i missed this place. this served as the meetup location for jive and i, who at that moment, i was missing something terrible. 20 minutes later, i am asked to give up my seat to a woman that tumbled down the stairs and i'm still mad about that shyt. but her skinned knee and dishelved hair is a dead giveaway so i stand with as much grace as the knee high suede boots will allow me. i walk out the door 15 minutes later, thinking maybe, just maybe -- im at the wrong kings cross! as im headed past the mcdonalds, i see nii waiting outside and my heart calms a bit. the show is insane. the women inmates range from young teenage looking youth with pull back, braids and lip gloss to grandmother's a woman in a wheelchair and high heels. im thinking what the hell did i get myself into! the show was phenomenal. the inmates were receptive, though a bit restless towards the end, but flyy nonetheless. we leave there, with my prawn and mayo sandwhich firmly digested and i realize i wont be able to record with KEMO, as i have to get to farrago poetry in less than 3 hours.

fast foward:

farrago poetry. i have been sitting in the rada bar, which i walked to from kings cross - thank you very much - reading my book, i think it was babyville by jane green (strictly chick lit) when i am surprised by rachel blyte, yes, new york's rachel. she was on the team with jive in 06 and on urban words team 05, so that was a suprise. then lux arrived as promised and i got to meet her sister. also a young man from nebraska revealed himself before admitting: "i didn't know if it was you or not cause when i saw you at nationals you dressed so smart." ahem. damn. i guess my newsboy hat and puma sweatshirt wasnt killing it! lol the evening was fun, as i shared the bill again with sparhla and sold a great number of books and cds. i closed my set with my new favorite "pied piper" and found my way to sammy's for the evening as i had a coach to catch back to bristol @ 9am, which means i had to leave the crib @ 730am just so i can catch the caravan departing for penzance, a quaint town by the sea for the poetry festival.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

london day 7

i have missed a lot of days, but not due to inactivity,
more like i'm trying to catch up with myself, nahmean?

i will come back to the rada experience, the penzance
and sheffield experience and then of course - the bus
ride of lost-dum...

for now. my fingers are cold as are my toes and i am excited
for friday to come. i want to sleep in my new bed. and walk
my kidd to school, then stop for some coffee at tom's... friendly
faces have been such a treat - but homesick is a mutha

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

london part i

its been awhile since i've blogged my beginnings of london trekking. but i have 38 minutes @ the internet cafe, so why not?

first, don't fuk with delta airlines. they have nasty food (how does one mess up cheese ravioli?) and the brick wind flying thru the window shade, as if i was just swimming on the clouds towards the Great Britian, has a portion of my left breast and the entire left nipple on frostbite. and the continous intercom calls for a physician on board, during my long overdue nap, was just rude. i'm saying. i know there are a gang of old folks in this joint, but a sis need her beauty sleep! however, the orange juice was hella good.

second, being nice never pays off. once off the train and thru customs, i have a question about a ticket i bought online. not only am i early, but my ticket's departure isnt scheduled for another 3 hours. yikes! so i get in line to ask for an exchange and this older biddy (you know what im saying) with horribly gunked fake eyelashes, tiger print ballerina shoes and two different tones of black on two separate shirts cuts me. when i say nicely "im sorry, i was already in line," she dismissed me. said that she was in line too and moved her bitch ass cart quite close to my good foot. mind you, still sleep. i let her go. and offer her a farewell " i hope you miss your flight skank." damn, where would i have learned this beautiful human interaction if not in brooklyn.

third, people that sit next to you on trains, subways and buses should be mindful of how they smell and how much room their asses really require.

fourth, i have realized that i could be considered insane. now dont get it twisted, i dont mean insane insane. just slightly off.

lastly, im headed to the euston train station as i need to get there by1pm and its only 11am, however, i gotta find a restroom that will allow me a regular seat cover, rather than my left leg extended against the door, my left hand on my luggage, and my butt cheeks quivering in fear of the suspect toiletbowl!

rocking today in birmingham. sleeping tonite, hopefully. back on friday. thursday is extremely busy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


i looked at my reflection this morning. and it looked back at me. this is the moment when i remind myself that i am doing it right. this life. these choices. all a part of a bigger picture, a bigger plan. i remind myself to love myself irregardless to the pain that comes with the crucification of being too honest, to truthful, unwielding. if it is worth it, there will always be pain. i recognize the alcohol-sting and burn of my actions. hold them like scars of war. the keloid that will tell the story of how i went to battle and walked away with my integrity, pride and soul, intact. it will be a beautiful bedtime story for my daughter's children. and she will give the greatest pauses for effect as she remembers the nights her mother braved the storm and returned home to brooklyn. limping with a face still dry - eyes threatnening a pour of all the day's letdowns. before she laid in bed next to her only child, and smiled at the beautiful complexity of a 10 year-old's unwavering love. and hugged her tight, as if her ribcage didn't hurt and her heart wasn't broken

Sunday, October 07, 2007

bklyn yuppies

brooklyn yuppies swim thru the streets of park slope
sweating beer and tequila as liquid as their parent's finances.

screaming loudly of their views on race, over the hip hop soul mixtape;
no blush rushing to his cheeks as he speaks as if slang bore him into an opinion.

his eyes catch mine.
and squints, adjusting to my black woman stare.

a glance that searches for a reason why black women like me
wait, with purses clenched, for this mood
to pass like an express train.

i shouldn't want to cut into his flesh with a purse
hidden knife, instead, i'll settle on my eyes as weaponry.

he shivers; this is no accident, and lowers his voice to
inaudbile level, where only his drink can hear.