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Friday, December 31, 2010

Wishing You All: A Mo Happy & Mo Blessed 2011!

My New Year’s wish for you all is that PEACE becomes a presence in your homes, apartments, your castles and cribs, that it sets up a business where its main product (Peace Mentalities) becomes the latest trend… and it sweeps the nation and permeates your hearts.

I wish that clever thieves perceive a way to Bogart all your cares and steal all your debts, but never once abuse or manhandle your dreams.

I wish the empty pockets of your sorriest outfit become magnets for fiddies and $100 bills.

I wish that luck falls randomly into your lap like a welcomed stain; that Love will stick to your skin like Vaseline, and Zen comedians always whisper hilarious jokes inside your laughing brain.

I wish for your clothes to reek of filthy stinking success, for Happiness to bitch-slap ya hard across the mug... and that the only tears you shed be tears of mad Joy.

And may all the troubles, issues, fears and problems you had forget your last name, misplace your cell number, screw up your email addy… and lose your home address!

In short...

I wish that 2011 Becomes The Bestest Year of Your Freakin’ Lives!!!


That's it. That's all. Snatch JOY!



Monday, December 27, 2010

La Bonne Nuit, Chanteur de Dame. Se Reposer Dans Paix, Teena Marie!

It’s all mvery strange, and I really can't explain why, but for the past 24 hours the old skool song "Portuguese Love" had been playing on a reel in my brain… and then... very early this morning... I awakened to the terrible news that soul singer Teena Marie had passed. Eerie. She was 54.

The first expression other than complete disbelief becomes: OH NO! NOT LADY T!!!!


Teena was a mad soulful, raw, emotionally powerful and deeply stirring vocalist who could truly put it DOWN, give you goosebumps, make you stomp your feet and just say day-YUM! She was also an ARTIST who wrote and crafted brilliant poetry that became songs, and who played several instruments with a mastery rarely seen in female performers. This woman was a real creative force! It feels so odd to even refer to her in the past-tense... but sadly... I must.

She had several hits in the early and mid 80s such as "Lovergirl," "Behind The Groove," and "Square Biz" … Photobucket
and the highly-charged "Fire and Desire" with her mentor Rick James.

The confirmation of her death came from a publicist, Jasmine Vega, who worked with Teena Marie on her last album. According to some reports, she'd died in her sleep and was later found by her teenaged daughter.

She was born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica California, and from early on had a strong African-American influence guiding her, due to a godmother. Teena Marie was also known as "Lady T," and by the term she herself had coined: "The Ivory Queen of Soul." Although she was the first white female vocalist ever signed to Motown, she certainly wasn't the first white act to love, appreciate or sing soul music, however, she was arguably among the most gifted, most respected, and the one who was thoroughly embraced by black audiences. Anyone black, white, red, brown or yellow who appreciated the magic of soul music had love for Teena Marie.


On a personal note: I recall my mother (who was not really hip to Lady T) just happened to witness her singing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” one Sunday morning. She then frantically called me up demanding that I tune into BET because, as she put it: “There’s some white girl on here... and she sure can SANG!”

When I turned the channel to find it was Teena doing what Teena did so brilliantly, I could only laugh. “Ummm... yeah, ma. She’s been singin' like that for the last 25 years, at least.”

Once Teena signed with Motown, back in 1979, she began working closely with Rick James. She and the Punk-funk bad-boy would share a long and turbulent personal life, but a magical musical partnership.

Ironically, the cover of her album, "Wild and Peaceful," did not feature her image, with Motown apparently fearing backlash by audiences if they found out the songstress with the bold and dynamic R & B chops was, in fact, white.

But she had her first hit, "I'm A Sucker for Your Love," and was on her way to becoming one of R&B's most revered queens. During her tenure with Motown, the singer-songwriter and musician produced passionate love songs and funk jam songs like "Need Your Lovin'," "Behind the Groove" and "Ooh La La La."

Her daughter Alia Rose (who has adopted the stage name "Rose Le Beau") is also a budding singer whom Teena would sometimes bring on stage with her to perform. In recent years Lady T had embarked upon touring again after overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs.

Teena Marie's last album, "Congo Square," was titled after a historical meeting place for slaves in New Orleans, featured a tribute to Martin Luther King's widow and also song "Black Cool," written for President Barack Obama.

We just keep losing people who are truly irreplaceable, and this absence saddens me deeply.

What will the future hold for music when the REAL soul singers we have left, keep dying?


*UPDATE:* Many of Lady T's friends, associates and admirers in the entertainment world spoke of her tremendous impact.

“A few months ago I saw her perform at a BET function in DC and I was sitting in the audience and was thinking to myself, ‘Where did the spirit of really finding joy in performing go?’ said singer/actor Tyrese.

“So many artists today, they get on stage and perform, and it’s like its just work and I’m here to get a check. She was up there sweating; they kept bringing her towels and water, she was just really doing her thing. She was on stage with the high heels and singing her life away. I just loved it. It was a breath of fresh air to be around somebody who, after so many years, still had a passion to be on stage for the love of music.”

Cindy Herron, a member of En Vogue, said: “It’s a loss for those who loves her music, but also the music world. She still had so much to offer.”

Last year, Teena Marie followed En Vogue at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, and Herron says she was “amazed because she’s such a showman.”

“She still had a great command of the audience; her musicianship and her singing ability. She still had so much to offer.”

Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, the largest black-owned radio company in the country, was shocked upon hearing of Marie’s death.
“Teena was a black voice trapped in a white body,” Hughes said. “I would always tell her that she was one of the greatest vocalists of our time.”

Singer Lionel Richie said that every time he'd see Teena Marie, the two always engaged in a running joke about her DNA.

“Every time I would say, ‘we need a root check!’” said a laughing Richie.
“You look at somebody like her and you go, ‘I know I’m looking at her, but it’s not translating. She was an amazing, soulful person. She’s a phenomenon to me.”

Addressing the issue of seeing a white woman with a “black voice,” Richie cut right to the point: “You have to say it. She had all of the street vibes and all of the R&B vocals, and it just didn’t match up with what you’re looking at.

“But one thing is for sure, when she walked on that stage, you didn’t want to be up there with her! If there is a word called talent or talented, it was pouring out of her veins. She was an amazing phenomenon.

“There was Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Teena Marie. And you don’t want to go on stage with any of them. Those three you just don’t play with. You don’t want to mention black and white, but that’s exactly what you thought about. It was an absolute phenomena to me.”

Eddie Levert, founder of the O’Jays, said, “in terms of vocals, she was one of the blackest people I know.”

“She was one of the great R&B performers of our time. She was a great person; just a nice person,” Levert said. “And she loved to perform. She got along well with everyone; even the promoters love her. She is going to be sorely missed.
“There a lot of black people who swore by her and believed in her, as far as her music was concerned. She was a good mom, and to me, that is saying a lot."


Holly Robinson Peete: "Teena Marie was an R&B Empress, a music pioneer, a brilliant songwriter/ producer with the most original powerhouse vocals ever.

 Nobody sang like Teena! But above all she was an exceptional human being, a humanitarian and an authentic friend who I will miss dearly. Rest With Angels Lady T.”

* * *

Indeed. Rest in Peace, Lady T!


One Love.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Just This: Merry Xmas!

I just want to wish all who will read this a Merry Christmas. I hope it’s a Holiday that is as happy as it is Blessed, as Peaceful as it is momentous, and as rich as it is humbling.

If you can manage to help someone who might be less fortunate than yourself, then that’s all the better. If you can make a small child smile then you’ve made a new memory of the season. If you can feed someone whose belly might be empty, or find more delight in giving than receiving, then just maybe you’ve tapped into The Christ within.


Always remember the Reason for the Season, and then give yourself & all those you love the freedom to be blissful and the permission to snatch JOY!


One Love.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Breaking Out Those Holiday Classics...

Lately I’ve been trying to snatch, to retrieve and to retain this thing in me; this lost and sleeping spirit of Christmas. Sometimes, it waxes, wanes and tickles my brain with a sweet memory from the past. Often it comes and goes, and lasts as long as a snowflake on a red-hot griddle.


Last night and early this morning, it snowed. Actually... it was officially just a “dusting”. Kinda wimpy really. Maybe I needed the snow to remind me of those long ago Christmases. Y’know: kid voices singing carols, people smiling and being kinder, the smell of pine trees shining with tinsel. But mostly, it’s the SOUND of gospel and holiday hymns sung by REAL singers. Maaaaaaan, I loved those Christmas songs. Something about them made me feel a part of the world, so warm and necessary. Thus, I’ve been trying to reconnect with those cursory things that bring forth the angels of memory. Yes, the lights across the street beckon and remind me that tis IS the Season to Be Jolly, but I’m running a bit deficient of those fa-la-lala-las.

One of my first poems ever published appeared in Essence Magazine, and it was called “Cobwebs on my Revolution Poster. “ It was metaphor for a time of promise and expectatation that somehow faded away. Well, lately I’m beginning to realize that there are cobwebs on my childhood.

My upstairs neighbors have been blasting Hip-Hop and R & B classics. To counteract their sonic assault, I broke out one of MY classic gems: my Merry Christmas From Motown album. Yup, it still plays, even though it skips, pops and scratches from a spinning disc of vinyl.


This was the music from my kidhood. See? For me to reconnect with those good feelings, the emotions, the wonder and promise of the season, I desperately needs me some Ave Maria, some O Holy Night.

I can seriously O.D. on some original Temptations crooning Silent Night....

....And some Jackson 5 way back when li'l Michael was a soulful brown-skin child who wore a ‘fro and was so vibrantly ALIVE!


Calling on Smokey Robinson… come in Smokey… ‘cause lawd knows we could all could use some Miracles!

Stevie… Mr. Wonder, could you please summon that Little Drummer Boy to come out and play for me?

Damn it! Drats! I mean, Good Grief! I somehow missed this year’s showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas! The l’il keeid in me was never very big on animation or hyped on pretend, but he still relates to this one & only cartoon from way back when.

Who even realized back then how seriously COOL and quasi-intellectual that music was when The Peanuts gang got down? The man in me still grooves to that classic soundtrack of fluently jazz-inspired tunes.

Music seems to bring the joy of Christmas back to me… even more than snow or lights or shiny presents under a tree. Music alone can take me over that river and through the woods of materialism and deliver a few of My Favorite Things.

So, I’m trying to reclaim that rightful spirit… the spirit that’s been stolen, kidnapped from me by those vicious gods of greed and avarice. I’m trying to keep it simple... when the world keeps getting so damned complicated around me. It’s a chore and a war of the heart, but I aim to score and win that small, yet important victory.

After all, it’s my duty and my solemn right to snatch myself a little Holiday

Photobucket !!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sex and Love: A Confessional Poem


This is my confession:
I've made love
Far more times
Than I've ever had
Sex. My
Imagination is
A whore… yes… but my body
Has been

A temple
Composed of
Apprehension and Tolerance, Poetry and
A reed-thin Hope for romance.

The penis
Is a jerk
With piss-
Poor judgment.
It works,
Rises, performs as
We breathe.

It can pretend to be
A magic wand...
It can abracadabra us away from
But only the fluid of
Lust appears
From its hat.

And me? I've always dreamed
Than that, and so…
I've made love
More times than
I've ever had
Sex. Yet,

My head,
My home has been
A promiscuous dome
Where Illicit
What Ifs play

This is what we
Men do. We stick our erections deep into
Illusions and
Into the reality
That we are most alone
Inside this bed
Within our heads.

But sex with no emotion
Was too easy, too dangerous,
So instead
I've made love to faces with names,
To orifices with brains
And souls who fell
Shamelessly to their

Knees. And I've fallen, too
Before false gods
And goddesses, who
Made me kneel
At the altar of
Some thing
That felt
Soft and Hard… and Real, like




copyright © 2005 and 2010 by L.M. Ross

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

* And I Want To Say... For World AIDS Day


“There are crazy rhythms in this room. They click and churn and hiss and beep. They tick away the time between breaths. Such crazy rhythms inside this room, and I just can’t even dance to them. I wish I could speak… but the words, they won’t come. So these rhythms, they break the silence, fill in the vacancies, make up for this scarcity of language; and it’s strange how these rhythms can hush the occasional uneasy utterance.


Please, take this silence as Love, because words no longer make sense to me. Words like: The Plague, and words like Haitians. Words like Africans. Words like junkies, like faggots, like gay. Words go in and out of fashion and they don’t always vogue upon the tongue. Words... they can prick us like dirty needles… and leave behind these scary realities like: HIV, Thrush, and SIDA, and AIDS.


So, take this silence as a LOVE, baby. And right now, I’m loving you ‘til death.

Please, take my silence as a Daring, and most Death-Defying Act of Love!

See, sometimes I think, I think too much. Sometimes
I think this world is just
A Stupid Test
Of love
And most of us
Are failing it



One Love.

*Excerpt from ‘And I Want To Say’ copyright © 2001 and 2010 by L.M. Ross