Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Al Green: Livin' For You (1973)

In 1988, I was living with my girlfriend Initia Durley on 24th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Next door lived a mild-mannered Black gay guy named Fred. During the week he was usually very quiet, but on Sunday mornings he would blast Al Green albums and sing loudly. He had a wonderful voice, so it wasn't much of a problem. Of course there were week-ends when I'd be hung-over, head hurting, face swelled and half blind, wishing Fred was mute as he roared through another verse of "Let's Stay Together" or "Take Me to the River." But, after a while, I got used to it.

One day, I saw Fred in the street and commented on his Al Green addiction. He smiled and said, "Who needs church on Sunday morning when you have Al Green records." Being a lapsed Catholic and former altar-boy, who was I to argue. It was during this same period when a lot of gay men were getting sick in New York and HIV became a very real disease. One Sunday, perhaps a year after I moved in, the silence coming from next door was deafening. Not hearing Fred's stirring versions of "Simply Beautiful" or "Love and Happiness" had thrown off my entire day.

Later that afternoon I saw my neighbor who lived across the hall. A pretty middle aged Latina, I stopped her on the stairs and inquired about Fred. "You don't know?" she replied, whispering as though telling a secret. "Fred is very sick; he moved back down south so his sister can look after him." Stunned by the news, I walked into my apartment and slumped on the bed.

Minutes later, I walked over to my big box of cassette tapes and found a copy of Al Green's Livin' for You (1973) and put it inside the Sony boombox. Lying back on the bed, I closed my eyes and prayed to the powerful spirit that that could be heard in the powerful Memphis soul of Al Green's voice that Fred would be all right. Indeed, church was in session.


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Five Quarterly


In 2012, it seems like a few newbies in the literary world are, as Annie Lennox once suggested, doing it for themselves. Tired of trying to get past the pearly gates of the Paris Review, Art Forum and their ilk, these smart kids have decided to start there own thang online. While I would never have the energy or patience to maintain a website, I have no problem contributing to the cause.

Earlier this month, I published a short story in the hip-hop issue of Specter (see an earlier post) and my fam at the lavish arts journal HYCIDE have been making it happen with their cutting- edge visual/textual aesthetic since last year. Indeed, the work that editors Akintola Hanif, Fayemi Shakur and Carrie Stetler put into each issue of HYCIDE is amazing.

Last week co-editors Vanessa Gabb and Crissy Van Meter launched a new online literary journal called Five Quarterly. Having accepted my newest crack-related short story "Losing Heaven," I was thrilled when I finally saw their final product. Simple, classic and brilliant. Even their logo is cool. Below, you can read in their own words their reason for starting the magazine, which I think is a welcome addition to the DIY revolution raging online.

On Five Quarterly

Five Quarterly is an online literary project that facilitates an innovative and constantly changing dialogue between different kinds of readers and writers. We have created an opportunity for a wide spectrum of individuals to submit to, as well as assist in choosing the works for, our issues. Each quarter, poetry and prose are submitted by various writers. Five poems and five pieces of fiction are ultimately chosen for online publication with the help of a similarly diverse committee of five new guest editors, announced at the start of each reading cycle. We hope this project will yield a multitude of literary voices, diversify the face of publishing, and encourage a creative learning experience.

Five new poems. Five new stories. Five new editors.

Vanessa Gabb and Crissy Van Meter


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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fat Boys Reissued


"First the Fat Boys break-up, then every time I wake-up..."


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Monday, July 02, 2012

Memoir of a Black Punk


Below is a link to my cover story "Memoir of a Black Punk" that

was published on 6/27/12 in the Baltimore City Paper.


Photo: Illustration by Daniel Fishel, License: N/A

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