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Marquesa LaDawn

By Marquesa LaDawn
NNPA Columnist

 

Fireworks? Not really…if you are a newbie to the RHOA then yeah. If you know every character and story – no! Bravo did a great job with making it seem like we would really find out the root of Nene’s pain, and they delivered about 60 percent. Meaning, we know the backstory.

What we didn’t know was how deep it really hurt her that her mom gave up two of her children, including her. Nene exists in life with no closure and she lives that pain. I think it was smart to have Dr. Jeff in the house (my neighbor); he calmed her down even though she was still mad at him. He seemed over protective of her. I think his presence changed the tone of the reunion and may have possibly made it more interesting. Otherwise, it could have ended with closed off Nene.

Instead, she started shaking and tears starting falling and before we knew it, she was up and trying to get away – again. It was nice to see all of the ladies go to her side, even though Kandi and Claudia were reluctant. It was interesting to see Cynthia, the ex-friend, nearly run to Nene. It brought back memories. Kandi, had this expression that was kind of shocking, I think she’s fed up and has no patience for Nene. Next season Bravo will bring back Mama Joyce and we’ll see how sympathetic other housewives will be when she starts causing problems.

Kenya left me with mixed feelings. She did seem sincere about supporting Nene, but then you could tell that Kenya wanted equal sympathy for not having a relationship with her mom. I have empathy for Kenya, but Nene’s mom is deceased and Kenya’s mom is not, which means she still has a chance for a relationship.

So here’s the big question: Who should return next season (drum roll please): Kenya (she’s messy and always interesting), Claudia (her comebacks are classic), Phaedra (also messy, it would be nice to see her evolve into a better place, Cynthia (2.0 only), Kandi (she’s good TV as long as Todd or Mama Joyce is around), Porsha (not really sure), Nene (I think her time is over on that show, she needs to move on and focus on her new show. Bravo, bring on another new, spicy, good TV housewives for Atlanta, we’re waiting!

News Flash: Kenya’s new perfect man that she met on The Millionaire Matchmaker, is married to someone else!

Kenya’s drama does not end there. The outspoken actress, Janet Hubert, has smeared Kenya via social media for not paying her. Well, Kenya paid and Janet still talked badly about her. She also got criminal charges filed that cannot be dropped. Whoa, we’ll be watching this story.

RHOBH: Kim Richards is finally being held accountable. Lisa Rinna did say this would happen at some point … Kim has been charged and is facing prison time up to 3 years. I don’t think she’ll get prison time, but I hope she will get help and become the Kim we love.

RHONJ: Teresa had a mixed week. Pictures of her husband possibly on a date with another woman on TV (it looks innocent to me); Their two homes are on the auction block officially. But there’s some good news: Her lawyer says, she is healthier than ever and getting herself together; She’s signed on for another season of RHONJ and another show on Bravo featuring just her family. Teresa is a tough chick, she will be better than ever!

The Real Housewives of New York … Sonya (I’ve always thought she tries to be Samantha from Sex In the City – right?) Anyway, this was not her week. She planned a trip for Ramona to cheer her up and basically wind up cheering herself down. It started with some of the ladies meeting her at her NY townhouse and not being allowed to come in and wait. They had to wait in the foyer, for a while. There was no limo or Bethenny; They were pissed. Sonya should have just apologized but instead gave a ton of excuses.

They arrive in Atlantic City only for Sonya to go more downhill. She was still making excuses and telling crazy stories. She actually said that she hangs out with John F. Kennedy, Jr., she was reminded that he’s deceased. It’s like she’s living in this dream world and cannot get out. It makes her appear cra-cra and not all there. She’s such a sweet woman but needs some help.

The ladies tried to ignore her and enjoy the trip until she upset the wrong person. Ms. B, and you know our skinny girl, she has no filter. She told Sonya to stop it and wake up. Sonya was hurt and you could tell that B felt really bad, but the other ladies seemed relieved that someone said something.

The ladies felt pressured to take care of an intoxicated Sonya all night. It was funny to see Sonya wake up and seem like nothing happened. B did take her aside and apologize and sincerely try to reach her. But, Sonya, later said, via her blog and during the interview that B could not understand, they have different lives. Oh well, maybe someday. In the meantime, we’ll be entertained.

 

Marquesa LaDawn is a professional businesswoman who escapes the pressures of living in New York City by retreating into the real world of reality TV. Follow me on twitter @realityshowgirl and subscribe to her podcast at www.RealitytvGirl.com.

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Art

Terrance Kelly, Brother Ben Lead Creative Arts Classes for Elders at West Oakland Senior Center

The Emmy Award-winning conductor and choir director Terrance Kelly leads a special choir class focused on gospel, jazz, blues and world music alongside Paul Daniels of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the St. Columba Church.

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Ben Tucker, a.k.a. Brother Ben, leads “Straight Outta Oakland,” one of the new classes offered by Stagebridge and held at the West Oakland Senior Center. Photo courtesy of Stagebridge
Ben Tucker, a.k.a. Brother Ben, leads “Straight Outta Oakland,” one of the new classes offered by Stagebridge and held at the West Oakland Senior Center. Photo courtesy of Stagebridge

By Julius Rea

Stagebridge and the West Oakland Senior Center have partnered to offer two incredible classes to be held at the West Oakland Senior Center (WOSC), starting this month. Created for elders, these opportunities will bring out the joy in celebrating Black culture and Oakland history.

The Emmy Award-winning conductor and choir director Terrance Kelly leads a special choir class focused on gospel, jazz, blues and world music alongside Paul Daniels of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the St. Columba Church.

Inviting both introductory singers and experienced vocalists, “The Community’s Choir” offers a special chance to work with these two Oakland-based musical voices. Also, students are not required to learn to read sheet music. This class will be held Fridays, 1 – 2 p.m. at WOSC.

In 2005, Kelly received the Local Heroes Award from KQED Television for his directorship of the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir and was also honored at the Gospel Music Awards. In 2013, he was awarded the Dr. Edwin Hawkins Excellence Award. He currently serves as Minister of Magnification at Oakland’s Imani Community Church.

Ben Tucker, a.k.a. Brother Ben, will teach “Straight Outta Oakland,” a class inspired by the history and culture of West Oakland. He will lead students in developing a showcase of five-minute stories. Focused on telling personal narratives in a clear, concise manner, this class will be a bridge to mapping and crafting one-of-a-kind journeys. The class will be held Tuesdays, 1 – 2 p.m. at WOSC at 1724 Adeline St., Oakland, CA 94607.

A retired University of California administrator, Tucker has been a community-focused storyteller for several years while taking classes at Stagebridge. He has performed at the San Francisco and Berkeley Marsh Theaters, Oakland Main and San Francisco Bayview libraries, and many senior centers and schools. Brother Ben is also a singer and author.

Students who are registered members of the West Oakland Senior Center will be offered the classes for free. Those who are not members can register today at www.stagebridge.org. For more information on these classes, call the West Oakland Senior Center directly at (510) 238-7016.

Julius Rea is the director of marketing and communications for Stagebridge.

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Art

REVIEW: Ishmael Reed’s Play “The Slave Who Loved Caviar,” Comments on Black Artists and White Sponsors

[Haitian-Puerto Rican American artist, Jean-Michel] Basquiat rose to fame in the neo-expressionist art movement in the 1980s and [Andy] Warhol, one of his mentors, had gained renown for Pop Art and drug use in the 1960s. They died within a year of each other, Warhol at age 59 in 1987 and Basquiat died of an overdose at age 27 in 1988.

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Detective Mary van Helsing (Roz Fox), left, rescues Jennifer Blue (Kenya Wilson), one of the victims in the continuing exploitation of Blackness. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Detective Mary van Helsing (Roz Fox), left, rescues Jennifer Blue (Kenya Wilson), one of the victims in the continuing exploitation of Blackness. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

By Wanda Sabir

Ishmael Reed’s current play, directed by Carla Blank, “The Slave Who Loved Caviar,” at Theater for the New City until January 9, explores Black culture and white exploitation in the relationship between the Haitian-Puerto Rican American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.

Basquiat rose to fame in the neo-expressionist art movement in the 1980s and Warhol, one of his mentors, had gained renown for Pop Art and drug use in the 1960s. They died within a year of each other, Warhol at age 59 in 1987 and Basquiat died of an overdose at age 27 in 1988.

There are so many analogous parallels, both fictional or mythic and actual that it is amazing that the play only has one intermission.

In his play, Reed postulates that the older, white artist presented himself as a benevolent father figure. While under the influence of drugs, a willing Basquiat allows Warhol to install him in a basement where Basquiat churns out art like an assembly worker.

Reed’s premise here is that Warhol had gotten away with a crime.

The cold case is reopened by two forensic scientists, Grace and Raksha, (Monisha Shiva and understudy Kenya Wilson) who want to bring the perpetrators to justice. As the contemporary team investigates, time shifts back and forth as what happened to Basquiat had perpetuated with other captives.

Slave owners used cocaine — which Basquiat used excessively — to increase productivity among the captives, Reed says. Just as slavery was once legal, the Warhol machine also had legal protection, money and power.

Reed’s writing is crisp and sharp as are the actors who deliver and deliver and deliver some more. Carla Blank’s direction is also on point as the diction and storylines unfold clearly in nuanced layers.

I love the scene in Act 2 where the ghost of Richard Pryor — appearing as a shadow puppet danced by actor, Kenya Wilson — tries to prevent Basquiat from going up in chemical flames like the late comedian had.

Pryor’s ghost speaks to the art of selling out to Hollywood, another type of killing field for Black art and artists. We sense Pryor’s regret that he didn’t stay with people who loved him. It’s hard to tell friend from foe when engulfed in f(l)ame(s).

Reed’s characters also convey the prevailing attitudes by police that allow the wealthy and famous to get away with everything from theft to murder, a very real problem on and off the page.

Roz Fox’s Detective Mary van Helsing is a cool sleuth who goes looking for the missing appetizer, “Jennifer Blue” (actor Kenya Wilson) despite legal disinterest. She is our hero. Don’t worry, this is a spoiler, but there is so much going on here, you will probably forget I told you.

In “Slave” we see too often how historians are propagandists who lie to keep the empire solvent.

Remember Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in “1984”? I am reminded also of Jimi Hendrix (1970) and his demise—yes to a drug overdose. . . Fuquan Johnson (2021), Shock G (2021), Juice WRLD (2020), Billie Holiday (1959), Whitney Houston (2012), The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (2006), Michael Jackson (2009).

Since it is Ishmael Reed, we can actually have a happy ending.

The late bell hooks wrote in “Outlaw Culture: ‘Altars of Sacrifice: “Re-membering Basquiat’,” that the young, yet masterful artist “journeyed into the heart of whiteness.

White territory he named as a savage and brutal place. The journey is embarked upon with no certainty of return. Nor is there any way to know what you will find or who you will be at journey’s end. . . . Basquiat understood that he was risking his life—that this journey was all about sacrifice [. . .]” (36). this and his refusal to allow the dominant culture to tell our story, the 99%, the percentage who matter.

How difficult it must have been for the artist to have his say as he dangled from a purveyor’s noose. Herein lies Black genius. Herein lies the tragedy. Ishmael Reed’s ability to cultivate success for the past 60 or so years stems from his artistic eReed’s research is impeccable—I lose track of some of the names, like the artist who boycotts with other Black artists a museum that sets out to exploit them.

Reed is certainly prescient as is the Theater for The New City’s Artistic Director Crystal Field. As confederate monuments are toppled throughout the nation and reparations are a very real possibility, “The Slave Who Loved Caviar” certainly sets a precedent. “Slave” is a challenge and a wakeup call to those who have not been paying attention to the right thing. “Slave” says, change the channel. What did the Last Poets say about the Revolution?

The play is streaming through Jan. 9, 2022, at Theater for the New City. Streaming tickets are just $10+ small fee. For in person ($15.00) and virtual tickets visit https://ci.ovationtix.com/35441/production/1091241

You can learn more about Reed on my radio or podcast interview here.

We had a conversation with many members of the cast January 5, 2022 on Wanda’s Picks Radio Show podcast. Tune in (subscribe): http://tobtr.com/12046944

 

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Bay Area

IN MEMORIAM: John Madden, Oakland Raiders Super Bowl Winning Coach, Dies at 85

“We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

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John Madden.
John Madden.

By Bay City News

John Madden, who won a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders and went on to be a television commentator and namesake of a popular football video game series, has died at the age of 85, the National Football League announced on Dec. 28, 2021.

No other information about a cause of death was immediately released.

Madden, who grew up in Daly City, led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl victory in 1977, then went on to highly successful careers in TV and video games, and was recently the subject of a documentary titled “All Madden.”

“We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

Madden’s death prompted widespread reactions on social media from those who knew or admired him.

The Raiders, who have since moved to Las Vegas, wrote “A brilliant coach. A loyal and trusted friend. A Raider.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote, “Tonight we mourn John Madden — he redefined the role of a sports broadcaster — his voice as recognizable as anyone who ever did the job. He hoisted a Super Bowl trophy with CA’s own Oakland Raiders. Our thoughts are with his family as we mourn this incredible man.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wrote, “I join all in mourning + honoring SuperBowl-winning coach John Madden. He was a great personality who truly loved #Oakland. When his grandson played at O’Dowd, John was as enthusiastic about the Dragons as any NFL team. We will miss him!”

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors president David Canepa wrote, “RIP John Madden. A 1954 graduate of Jefferson High School in Daly City and Super Bowl winning coach for the Oakland Raiders. He did so much for Daly City!”

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