Friday, December 14, 2007


When you take action in a spirit of positive achievement, your luck will be good even if the results are not what you expected or initially desired. Positive action always eventually creates positive results. -- Napoleon HIll

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Janet Returns with Feel Good "Feedback"

Yesterday I did my first public reading of an excerpt from my forthcoming memoir, All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay D.C.(Atria/Simon & Schuster). It was a chapter about one of my biggest career breaks, interviewing Janet Jackson for a March 2001 VIBE magazine cover story. (My second VIBE cover story on Janet from last year made international headlines.) So imagine my surprise – and intense feeling of serendipity – when I arrived home and saw that Janet's new single, "Feedback," had leaked on the internet. As a longtime Janet follower, I always have a bunch of questions running through my mind when I hear her new stuff: Do I like it? Will others like it? Will it make MTV stop buggin' and embrace her again? But about halfway through "Feedback," I just relaxed and started enjoying it.

The song -- an uptempo cut about, well, basically just being sexy -- is produced by Rodney Jerkins, but its electro-thump reminds me of classic Rockwilder joints like Method Man and Redman's "Da Rockwilder" and Rah Digga's underrated "Party and Bullshit 2003." What I like best about "Feedback," though, is that the feel is classic Janet. Miss Jackson has always separated herself from other pop provocateurs by the way she infuses her expressions of sexuality with warmth and fun. Even when singing lines like "these girls out here hatin' 'cause I'm sexy," she comes across more playful than arrogant, and it's nice to hear her having such a good time. The intense public scrutiny she's been under for the past few years had to have taken its toll, and it was hard not to hear that in the music. But "Feedback" makes it sound like she's ready to let go again, and it's high time that people stop making her pay for all of pop culture's ills and simply let her do her thing.

"Feedback" song:
Janet - Feedback - Single - Feedback

"Feedback" video:

My two Janet cover stories:


"It is surprising how much one can produce in a year, whether of buns or books or pots or pictures, if one works hard and professionally for three and a half hours every day for 330 days." -- Leonard Woolf

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Big Momma's Back!!!!

Can't wait for this...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sex and the City trailer

looks hot...


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Will of the World

Will Smith on "60 Minutes" part 1

Will Smith on "60 Minutes" part 2

I never used to be a Will Smith fan, but I was won over by his performance as the dad in The Pursuit of Happyness. I also thought he had some interesting things to say on "60 Minutes" Sunday:

1) That he credits his success not just to talent but to an extreme work ethic.

2) That he stars in so many Sci-Fi flicks because he and his production partner looked at the list of the top grossing movies of all time and realized that most of them featured aliens, lots of special effects, etc...

3) That his tax problems were so bad early in his career that for about four years the I.R.S. nabbed the bulk of his "Fresh Prince" salary. This bit should be inspirational for creative types or anyone for that matter who feels burdened by debt or is struggling to make ends meet. Will's life shows that there might be a multi-million dollar crib at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, December 3, 2007

R.I.P. -- Tom Terrell

Just found out that music critic Tom Terrell died of prostate cancer. Apparently, he didn't have health insurance, which is another reason why practicing journalism sometimes sucks (see post below). I didn't really know him, but he wrote some reviews for me when I was an editor at Vibe. Anyway, here's an obit from Undercover Black Man, and an excerpt from his moving article "CAFÉ C'EST WHAT: Death and Music" from PopMatters:

See, all my life, vocalists have given me faith, hope, and charity, caressed me, comforted me, taught me, guided me, carried me, nurtured me, encouraged me, loved me, forgave me, sheltered me, touched me, influenced me, and reached me in the darkest hours far heavily than family, friends, and lovers ever have or could. When I was a baby, my Moms told me the only thing that would stop me bawling was Johnny Ace's "The Clock" and "Pledging My Love". David Ruffin proved to me that wearing thick black eyeglass frames was cool, not corny. Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and the Staple Singers taught me smart was the real hip, black was always beautiful, funk is spiritual, and to always love myself for myself.

Journos Get No Respect (Even From Other Journos)

Here's Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi's kinda sad, kinda funny, and kinda true take on the state of journalism:

You wrote a column in the New York Press a few years back referring to journalism as “shoveling coal for Satan.” I believe you also said that journalism as a career was worse than being a worker in a tampon factory. Should any sane young person consider a career in journalism?

If you have no real knowledge or skill set and you’re lazy and full of shit but you want to make a decent wage, then journalism’s not a bad career option. The great thing about it is that you don’t need to know anything. I mean this whole notion of journalism school—I can’t believe people actually go to journalism school. You can learn the entire thing in like three days. My advice is instead of going to journalism school, go to school for something concrete like medicine or some kind of science or something and then use the knowledge you get in that field as a wedge to get yourself into journalism.

What journalism really needs is more people who are reporting who actually know something. Instead of having a bunch of liberal arts grads who’ve read Siddhartha 50 times writing about health care, it would be really nice if some of the people who are writing about health care were doctors.

Source: Campus Progress

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Here are some great Mary moments from her recent interview with Tavis Smiley:

On "Work That," her hot new single & ipod commercial:
"...That song is basically saying, sometimes as women, we get tired of what we have. We get tired of our short hair, we get tired of - and we don't want to be happy with what we have. But what I'm saying is this is what we got. We got to make it. If our hair's short, if you want to go buy some hair, go buy some hair. Whatever you wanna do. But work what you have. If you're a big girl, make that big girl work and be hot as a big girl. If you're a small girl, be happy as the small chick. So basically what I'm just saying is just whatever your skin color is, if you're dark, light, whatever the case may be, work that."

On sharing personal info with the public (I'll be sure to heed these words once my "memoir comes out.):
"...Ever since I was a kid, like, a lot of embarrassing things have happened to me. So by the time I was a teenager, I was, like, just whatever, letting it all hang out. And so at some point I was like, you know what? Let me just not be ashamed of any of this. Because it is what it is, and if I don't share with people how we can get better from all of this or how we can feel better - it's the embarrassment that keeps us kind of pushed down. So I'm really, like, I'm not embarrassed any more about anything that people, that human beings are going through. We go through things. So I don't mind sharing with my people, because I am my people, and that's how I look at it."

On her "Oscar" experience with the Big "O":
"We were at an Oscar party during that whole Grammies, it was a big Mary J. Blige time, and I got a call from Oprah Winfrey. It was the weirdest thing, because she's amazing, and I know she cares about me, but I didn't know she would care enough to want to hang out with me like this, after Africa and all that. So she goes to the Oscars, she takes my husband and I to the Oscars - or my husband take her and I to the Oscars, we're on both of his arms. And we're at the party, and I'm sitting there, and out of nowhere comes Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and they're all screaming and talking about how much they love me, and hugging me and kissing me and taking pictures with me. So in the middle of the night I sat there and I looked around and I said, "Am I good enough for all of this?" Like, "Me? Do they really like me?"

And something was, like, yes, they like you. Something in you, they like. And it was like I had to believe that. At that moment, I had to believe that I deserved that moment right there. They might like my talent or whatever the case may be, but it's something that came out of me that they liked. So I had to believe that, and that was my "Growing Pains" moment. That's when I went home and started writing."

On karma:
"I try not to talk about people, because I had this episode, this karma episode, and I was talking about this girl. And her leg was really, really ashy. And I go "Ah-ha-ha, she's ashy." The next day I had a photo shoot. Now, I know I put lotion on my entire body. I got to that photo shoot and I went to try on my clothes, my entire body was ashy. And I was, like, how did this happen? (Laughter)

So I looked at it like it was karma, so that was a lesson to never - like, just try not to, like, put negative things out there about people or even laugh at people, because you are people too, and things can happen to you."

Hmmm...maybe Mariah should rethink that "Them chickens is ash and I'm lotion" line.

"Just Fine"
Mary J. Blige - Just Fine - Single

"Work That"
Mary J. Blige - Work That - Single


Here's some wisdom dispensed by the Dolly Lama on CMT's "Top 20 Countdown:"

"I was born with a happy heart. But you have to work at being happy like some people work at being miserable."

"Better Get to Livin':
Dolly Parton - Better Get to Livin' - Single - Better Get to Livin'