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Marquesa

By Marquesa LaDawn
NNPA Columnist 

 

It was the last episode of the season for Blood, Sweat and Heels and it was good! Demetria had her nice wedding, with zero bridesmaids. Hmmm. Chantelle had her event, though the ladies couldn’t really engage because of their own “stuff.” Daisy looked pretty, as always, and ready to have some fun until her cancer side effects kicked in. You can’t help but melt when you see her trying to hang in there, but, despite he best efforts, she can’t.

Her good friend Mica takes care of her, and the two avoid the biggest brawl of the season. Melissa and Arzo arrive with a bit of a ’tude towards Geneva, who promptly ignores them and tries to enjoy the event. Melissa is not having it and wants Geneva to know she’s wrong for talking about their mutual friend Demetria behind her back. Now, come on, Geneva was hurt and had every right to express herself, but she chose the wrong person to do this around. Arzo happily shared this news with Melissa and Demetria in a previous episode Melissa was not happy to hear that Geneva and Demetria have patched things up and she’s now invited to the wedding. Melissa, is annoyed and seems to want to force Geneva into admitting she was wrong. The three ladies go back and forth yelling and within minutes glass is thrown and chests are cut with glass and Geneva gets arrested.

The wedding the next day was attended by the newest cast member, Arzo. Demetria and her now husband were a part of creating this situation by disinviting Geneva to the wedding, ended up with just one guest from the cast. Geneva, looked defeated and acknowledged her embarrassment. She needs some anger management, for sure.

The other ladies, Mica and Chantelle, waited at Daisy’s apartment to celebrate her last treatment and join her in a glass of champagne, something she’s been longing for since her cancer battle begin. They saw a picture of Arzo at Demetria’s wedding and felt jilted. I hope there’s a reunion!

The Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY) was a rollercoaster version of “tit for tat.” My girl Bethenny is still wound tight and needs some help chilling out. Throw in wild child Ramona and there’s a ton of drama. Looks like the ladies are headed to a sexy island and things will be crazier than ever next week: Sonya is getting yelled at, Bethenny losing it again, Ramona pissing everybody off all mixed in with a little bit of fun!

The “tit for tat” queens, Married With Medicine, my medical reality TV girls, are angry! That seems to be a popular emotion last week in reality TV. Simone and Toya cannot get it together. Looks like Toya hit a big emotional button last season and Simone cannot heal. The husbands intervened and tried really hard to fix the broken relationship between their wives. Simone is really angry and refuses to calm down and deal with the pain – she screams, yells and runs away. Next week, looks like we’ll get the details on what’s really going on with her.

Quad is the queen of “tit for tat.” She’s pissed off at Lisa for running a background check and plans to get her back on TV. Lisa’s husband is also pissed about Lisa running the background check since it leads to the spotlight being on them out of vengeance.

The Braxton ladies are not immune from the “tit for tat” game. Trina wants to show the world and her ex-husband that she can move on. But the only problem is she’s famous for making the worst decisions when it comes to her personal life.

On another note, Tamar, is feeling the shake off of her sisters. They are tired of her not listening and they stopped talking. Toni, who seems to get along with everyone is officially back, between her book, album with Baby Face and Grammy win, she is the Toni we know and Love!

The godmother of “tit for tat” on the Real Housewives of Orange County is Tamara. The other housewives are interesting, but Tamara knocks it out of the park.

Shannon seems so desperate to make her marriage work. I just hope she finds a purpose for herself on this season other than trying to persuade her husband to love her.

Newsflash: Did you hear about the shuffle on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH)? Brandi Glanville is out, which is shocking. I think they needed a fresh direction and Brandi sort of stalled the show with her antics for too many seasons. I will miss her, but I get it. We already know that Kim Richards is out and her sister Kathy Hilton is in.

Real Housewives of Atlanta news: I think Cynthia Bailey’s husband may be cheating! It’s been all over the news, a video of Peter kissing another woman and as always Cynthia is defending. I hope this was a true misunderstanding and that Peter does not screw up again. Whew!

 

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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