Skip to content

Theater Review: “Rants” at San Diego’s CAT Theater

dee

Delores Fisher blogging on San Diego’s CAT theater

As mentioned in part 1 of this review on the play “Rants,”  Jennie Hamilton’s nurturing personality reminds me a little of Minerva Marquis. Jennie too is  on a quest to bring local theater to our San Diego community while continuing to cultivate the best in actors. Jennie ran the heartwarming, family oriented two act play “Rants” by playwright Paul Taylor Sr. for several weeks at the end of 2015.

Jennie Hamilton

Jennie Hamilton (photo by Delores Fisher)

 
I must admit, “Rants” title created images in my mind of an in your face crew of actors spittin’ angry Hip Hop nihilistic violent street rhymes: ranting, raging about mo’ money, mo’ cars, mo’ homes, mo’ beefs, mo’ . . . . .you get the picture. Seen it. Heard it. Been teaching in it.

Perhaps my first response was due to our smouldering social unrest, or maybe I’ve had a secret hope of experiencing artistic searing social commentary, sort of like a Public Enemy “Def Jam” mashes up with “Bring in da funk” and local conscious spoken word cautionary uplift with San Diego’s Lyrical Groove. Ya know? A production in which Black folks-audience and actors- could become community roaring in righteous indignation call and response town hall meeting to express frustration with “craftily branded # media spun reactions to societal ills”.”Rants” is quietly about that and more. What a pleasant surprise.

San Diego actress Shea Coleman(music stage name “Blackberi”) had reassured me that it was not what I thought. But for some reason, I was apprehensive. Shoulda’ listened. Its traditional vibes made me smile from lights up on its opening scene at the last matinee performance. Several of my church’s music department members all of whom have stage experience concurred. Paul Taylor has a hit play worth future production.

20151227_1235581

Shea Coleman (and Delores Fisher)

When we entered Community Actors Theater’s small lobby, a congenial bearded man in the box office greeted us cheerfully, casually. He was taking tickets and engaging the gathering audience in conversation. We talked a few minutes before realization set in. I was talking to playwright Paul Taylor Sr. Of course I had to get a short interview!

Paul Wm. Taylor Sr. Playwright/Actor

Paul Wm. Taylor Sr. Playwright/Actor

 

According to Taylor, “Rants” came to him in a dream. Segments of a story about family, ritual bonding, generational relationships, prescience of our elders before transition, passing on a love legacy of positive interactions, personal stories and memories unfolded into its one act form. We were indeed fortuitous. “Rants” present form unfolded a few days before, into this final matinee version.

This version is a two act play with five scenes in act one and three scenes in act two. Paul Taylor Sr. is a liminal grandfather one foot here, one foot into eternity, with dementia. He lives with his daughter’s family. This is a traditional Black family, with Afrocentric photos and memorabilia on the walls and desire for uplift.  The daughter, convincingly and gently played by Lisa Franks, is married to a somewhat emotionally distant man who is having trouble honoring his marriage vows and respecting her seemingly dementia troubled father.

IMG_20150816_163652 (2)

Lisa Franks and Anthony Dorrah

 

1439766710758

Paul Taylor Sr. and Lisa Franks

The son-in-law character Lee Gaines, played by actor Anthony Dorrah and Taylor as father-in-law Henry Jackson are at married life’s opposite ends, Gaines with family and wife in life’s mid-flow, Henry Jackson widowed, approaching the river’s final destination point. Their scenes have a nice tension, an edge of competitive father-in-law/son-in-law male ego pathos that may make many men in the audience uncomfortable.

Paul Wm Taylor Sr andLee Gaines

Paul Wm Taylor Sr and Anthony Dorrah (photo by Delores Fisher)

T.T. Gaines played by Clarence Wine an actor with a disability, adds much to reveal aspects of Lee’s personality, male bonding and fraternal interaction.

Clarence Wine Jr.

Clarence Wine Jr. (Lee’s brother played by Clarence Wine Jr.)

 

The ensemble has many fine ensemble moments around the dining room table, even when unexpected visitors bring tension into the plot line. Their early teen son “D” played  insightfully by charming young actor Dorian Woodard helps care for grandfather Henry while adult family members work.

1439768720247

Paul Taylor Jr., Paul Taylor Jr.,Lisa Frank, Shea Coleman

Personal oral narratives and history have been a staple of Black familial legacy and keeper of history invisibilized in institutional education textbooks. Henry Jackson  shares memory provoking moments throughout the show as recalling African American men’s decades long battle to be recognized as men not boys culminating in the tumultuous 1960s. His quiet retelling of life memories to his “D,” provides the play with Black traditional culture’s male bonding ritual of passing on male experiences through orality by elder to younger generation.

For some Black males of that era, the summers of the 60s was a time of male social “clubs” turning into gangs, blatant violence between males of different races,1 of hidden or denied reports of police brutality in Black communities, of insurrection and cultural turmoil, resistance, protest of defiance’s frustration expressed through community destroying riots.

Henry also relates 60s and 70s law enforcement and community conflict resulting in deadly traffic stops (the changing same for those innocents on either side of conflict caught in the middle). For conscious Black males, the 60s were also filled with ending violence, community building, restoration, cultural reclamation, pride.

One tender story paints a gentle portrait of grandfather’s sometimes troubled marriage to his loving now deceased wife who he misses and wants to join in the afterlife. She was a community pillar, one of the well respected Black nurses of the times. Henry Jackson regrets insensitive behavior towards her and does not want the same pain for his daughter. He delivers several of “Rants” cautionary life lesson lines, “Life is a circle and death is a part. It’s what you do with the in-between.” Henry also says about love: “Life is the only day we have . . . learn what’s needed.” This story fuels a confrontation with Lee about temptation and infidelity. It also sparks a fine romantic moment between “D” and his first major crush.

IMG_20150816_163950 (2)

“D” and his girlfriend

When Henry dies after writing prescient letters to each family member, it is discovered that his dementia, due to his liminal existence, gave him a gaze into their present lives.

Father, mother and son, miss him fondly. The “D” recalls one of Henry’s stories at play’s end, shadow boxing like his grandfather. He repeats an opening line by Henry, one repeated in the play:”I could ‘a been a contender.” It creates a healing circle of life for the family. Borrowed from an almost forgotten pop culture phrase, stories on stories unfold for those of us who remember.

IMG_20150816_165230

Darius Woodard as “D” (Photo by Delores Fisher)

Delores Fisher and the cast of Rants)

Delores Fisher and the cast of Rants

Worth future production, “Rants” is about rituals, families, cycles within cycles, and epiphany.

Musewoman at the theater,

Delores Fisher

San Diego’s CAT (Community Actors Theater) Production of “Rants” Part 1

San Diego is hosting May Grey AND June Gloom this 2016. It is creating for me an atmosphere of contemplation.

delores fisher 5

Delores Fisher—-walking, thinking, and blogging during a drizzly San Diego AM

A few days after finishing grading, sleepless nights, and fewer cups of coffee, I remembered my March 30th tweet https://twitter.com/DeloresFisher about posting thoughts on “Rants” at San Diego’s Community Actors Theater by playwright Paul Taylor Sr.

CAT Theater

Community Actors Theater San Diego, CA.

 

IMG_20150816_170120.jpg

The cast of Paul Taylor  Jr.’s play “Rants”

Grey days and cool AM breezes–and summer break–here are a few San Diego theater reflections

CAT, Community Actors Theater http://www.communityactorstheatre.com/, in San Diego California is a celebrated community space in the Oak Park/South East San Diego area. Jennie Hamilton, its founder, was recently noted by the San Diego Union Tribune http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/photos/galleries/2016/feb/13/faces-san-diego-theater/# .  Jennie’s work and dedication to the arts has won community support and admiration for productions over more than twenty years in the business.

Back in the mid 1960s, African American theater, and arts in general, had a resurgence similar to the Harlem Renaissance http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Black_aesthetic_movement.aspx

In a trail blazing collection of essays about Black theater at that time entitled The Theater of Black Americans: Roots and Ritals: The Search for Identity The Image Makers: Plays and Playwrights, Errol Hill states

The question of how to encourage and protect needed experimentation in the Afro-American theater while retaining and expanding audiences who have been nurtured on standard theatre fare is the knottiest of all problems faced by responsible Black theatre practitioners.1

It was an issue thirty years ago and despite “Gospel plays,” and work by arts as storytelling and community healing vehicle people like Tyler Perry, Black community theater survival remains an issue. However, thanks to the pre  -millenial and current Hip Hop generations’ experimentation with film and theater–it is a less problematic issue than it was fifty years ago.

Personal sidebar: Bravo young people in artistic endeavors. Keep quietly hurdling artistic milestones! Us “artistic OGs” really are proud of you. But, there is much more work to do on so many levels.

Discussing Black theater owners and producers of that era on a local and national scale, Hill further declares,

. . .  Most of them, concerned as much with survival as with aesthetic considerations, tend to adopt a pragmatic approach of using whatever form seems to work best for a particular production and are content to bequeath the search for a recognizable Afro-American theater form to the pens of critics and theorists.2

Survival is a must for shows to be seen. Theater space is NOT cheap. Buildings cost—–ON THE REAL!

I don’t know much about other cities, but San Diego is blessed with established theater companies that graciously host experimental shows and collaborate with new or small production companies. 3

Although CAT is a smaller community based theater space, Jennie Hamilton opens her venue to newcomers as well. She continues to embrace live performances of works by   amateur actors as well card- carrying professionals: she also embraces neophyte and experienced producers, directors, musicians, composers, vocalists, playwrights, comedians, and spoken word artists.

A couple of years ago, I spent a summer internship helping with basic upkeep jobs for Jennie Hamilton and CAT. I vacuumed, swept, dusted, re-arranged publicity pamphlets, cut out letters for the Marquee, talked local theater and people. We shared theater experiences about rewards and challenges of small San Diego community theater.

normal sd 006

My Summer Internship at CAT San Diego

However, in 2015, I took the summer off to rest, read, write; a heavier spring and fall teaching schedule left me academically fulfilled and wanting to be involved in more than theater reviewing, yet just too depleted to volunteer. Jennie and I kept in touch.

This spring, Jennie Hamilton was one of my guests at the Africana Studies 2016 MLK Luncheon at San Diego State University  http://africana.sdsu.edu/news.htm

jennie

Jennie Hamilton

As we sat at dining at our table we talked about the arts with international ballet mistress Kathryn Irey of Stage Seven.

Kathryn

Kathryn Irey

Also joining the conversation was young rising opera vocalist Nicholas Neuman.

Nicholas Newton

Our lively exchanges stirred silent memories of my youth.

During my youth, more than thirty five years ago in seemingly far away edges of time, I worked a “day job” while pursuing a musical theater and film career. Almost everyone I knew at that time who wanted to be in theater or film in San Diego did the same thing. Some made it– fame, fortune, fabulous red carpet lives.

Local San Diego theater buzzed with up and coming talent in the 70s and 80s. Local theater mentors graciously and sometimes sternly shaped aspiring writers, actors, comedians, and directors.We commiserated and partied together!

I worked in various capacities at several theaters including the old Gaslamp Quarter Theater –before its financial issues became problematic  http://articles.latimes.com/1989-06-29/entertainment/ca-3438_1_kit-goldman-gaslamp-quarter-theatre-art-groups-survive-debt   , in the 1980s at the old Lamb’s theater as piano secundo with Vanda Eggington as primary piano http://www.lambsplayers.org/past.php?id=81

dames at sea

Some of the Dames at Sea cast

At the old San Diego Repertory Theater site, before it moved into its present Lyceum space in Horton Plaza, I also worked as a show pianist. Currently, I do a few show reviews from time to time see https://sonictapestry.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/honky-play-review-san-diego-repertory-theater/. The Rep is currently celebrating its  40th year http://www.sdrep.org        What a reunion of talent.

Of all the theatrical companies I’ve worked for, the old Marquis Public Theater  is still dear to my memories. The Marquis Public Theater on India Street complete with its separate smaller galley venue, holds a special place in my memories.  African American producer/director Ricardo Pitts-Wiley produced shows in the Marquis Galley with his Humani One Theater and at E.C.C. Minerva Marquis and her theater/home for actors helped me become more serious about and appreciative of what it takes to be a performer. Experiences there  changed my life in the arts.(More about Minerva later.)

Now defunct, the Bowery theater, a basement show space similar to those in New York with meteoric director Kim McCullum was an experimental space across the street from a wonderful show biz bar that moved downtown before it eventual demise called Playbills. Sonictapestry’s first photo of a very young me at the piano was taken during the Bowery Theater’s production of “The Little Match Girl.”

dee

Delores Fisher show pianist

And high school theater departments?

They were just “bumpin’ as the kids say today. And if one takes a look at a list of recent productions….San Diego City schools theater departments are still producing creative, innovative theater students who later in life help keep arts alive in college and professional venues.

Some of my best images include playing piano for Serra High School with then drama teacher Susan Shattuck who married and became Susan Jones. I learned so much working with her on “Stop The World I want to Get Off,” “Camelot,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” I had an opportunity to apply what I’d learned playing piano for choir and shows for Debbie Nevin and talented drama teacher Susan Bayliss  at Hoover High School where we did among other shows, excerpts from “Phantom From the Opera,” “Mulan,” “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” and “A Chorus Line.” When Debbie Nevin moved to the new Lincoln High school in Southeast San Diego, so did I on a part time basis due to my teaching schedule.

At the newly rebuilt Lincoln High School, arts mavin/choral director Sharletta Richardson recruited me as choir accompanist and Debbie Nevin recruited me as show pianist. Sharletta Richardson put together those mellow choral sections of shows such as “The Wiz,” and “Grease.”

Debbie Nevin headed really banging show bands comprised of students and a few pros.  Under the watchful eye of dance instructor choreographer Don Robinson, student dancers matched theater dance professional standards. His choreography was sheer joy to watch.

Working with choreographers, doing  musical theater, staged readings, readers theater, comedy, drama, I balanced being active in the arts with performer’s hours and with functioning as a regular person, with a “normal” day job. I was young and ambitious. Weren’t we all?

One busy year, I even added a poetry performance (the audition preparation  was intense) directed by Patricia Elmore with several other actors at the old D.G. Wills Bookstore. That staged performance was later repackaged, broadcast and recorded live by KPBS. I used to have the tape somewhere in storage. Like my memories . . . .

As I grow older, a few particular years’ vapors steadily solidify into focus. Several actors and I were nurtured by director Minerva Marquis- now deceased-of the then famous Marquis Public Theater  http://legacy.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/metro/20011208-9999_1m8marqu is.html   

What a trooper she was. So gracious, patient and kind to us flaky, egocentric, always hungry, head strong young actors. One summer, Minerva Marquis gathered a few local actors together to propose a daring plan. She wanted us to organize into a repertory group. Consenting meant long hours, little pay, working on acting as well as whatever job Minerva assigned us. She nurtured us, gave us personal and professional advice, cautioned us about recklessness, taught us rehearsal discipline, and from time to time gave us a shoulder to cry on as the show went on despite a broken heart. If several of us had stayed out of the dance clubs and toxic relationships, concentrated on stagecraft more . . . . well.  (LOUD, LONG, SIGH). . .ANYWAY—-

It was an informative and formative rousing year! We were part of the hype around the scandalously popular David Mamet play “Sexual Peversity in Chicago.” Minerva had her hands full, but she knew how to gently corral wild young actors who were more interested in the glamour and glitch side of the biz than the work side.

But thanks to Minerva Marquis, I got to run the box office, manage the house, help with props, do basic clean up, and assist with publicity as well as act. A few years later,  less of a “party, party, party, ya’ll” young adult and somewhat wiser, I served as a musician/music director and composer under the directorship of Jennifer Myers Johnson4 on a pretty popular show called “Vinegar Tom” by Carlie Carlyle http://articles.latimes.com/1987-03-04/entertainment/ca-4580_1_vinegar-tom

I will perhaps blog more fully about my time at the Marquis Public Theater with Minerva Marquis and other moments onstage as a member of the spoken word ensemble member of the group 4nth, a solo spoken word artist, and a stage/show Host.

delores

A young Delores Fisher at the old Claire de Lune Cafe

And hopefully I will also get an opportunity to compose and serve as a music director for a CAT experimental  theater production like “Vinegar Tom” at the Marquis Public Theater.

Well, this a rather long introduction—-on to my main post about local African American theater  AND  Jennie Hamilton’s Community Theater Production of “Rants.

Musewoman
Delores Fisher

End Notes

1. Hill, Errol. eds. “Introduction. The Theater of Black Americans: Roots and    Rituals:The Search for Identity, The Image Makers:Plays and Playwrights. A Collection of Critical Essays (Prentice-Hall, Inc.: Englewood Cliifs 1980.),8. The collecton includes   essays on dance, by Kimberly W. Benson and Robert Farris Thompson,The show “Shuffle Along” by Helen Armstead Johnson, Black playwrights byC. W. Bigsby, and African American music by a musicologist whose works have influenced my research-Eileen Southern.

2. Ibid., 8-9

3. San Diego’s Lyceum theater, Old Globe Theater, Horton Grand Theater, Community  Actor’s Theater (CAT), and even small venues as diverse San Diego’s “World Beat  Center,” The Queen Bee,” and East Village Community Church hosts experimental  theater productions.

4. See Jennifer Myers Johnson.   “Jennifer Myers Johnson.” in Artists On the Art of Survival: Observations on Frustration, Perspiration, and Inspiration for the Young Artist. Bill Meese Jr. ed (Hamilton Books: New York  2004), 234-237. The book is a collection of various young artists’ interview-reflections on what it takes to “be” in the arts.

 

Black History Month 2017 Retro-Post: Stevie Wonder’s Support for Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday

 

delores

Delores Fisher: Christmas Morning

 

Hello everyone,

I mentioned Stevie Wonder’s support for making Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday a holiday in my MLK post.We are celebrating his holiday soon in 2017. Here’s a previous post.

Gil Scott Heron’s autobiography-memoir The Last Holiday provides an up close and personal eyewitness report through this well known singer/ poet/activist/prose author’s eyes.1

Several of the book’s chapters reminisce about Stevie Wonder’s October 1980 “Hotter Than July” album tour that included Wonder’s January 1981 rally in Washington D.C. with a focus on the national debate over whether or not to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King with a holiday, provide personal, socio-cultural and political context for Stevie Wonder’s commitment to the “holiday” movement.

Chapter 38  sets the record straight about an article review on an Oakland California show which accused Stevie Wonder and Scott-Heron of not mentioning or caring about the death of  much loved and respected ex-Beatle and successful solo artist John Lennon .

According to Heron, while on the “Hotter Than July” tour, Stevie Wonder met Heron at the bottom of the stage stairs where they were performing. In sadness, he quietly told Heron about Lennon’s murder. Wonder seemed almost in shock and was also greatly troubled about John Lennon’s death. He gave an on stage passionate speech addressing the tragedy around 11:30 PM during the concert. States Heron:

“Later,  I could not remember us playing those last two songs, though I was sure we had. I could only bring back the three solid images of that night, two of Stevie: the first one was of the brother standing there waiting for me at the bottom of those stairs. The second was of him standing alone in that spotlight, crying. And the third was of me standing there next to Santana with our eyes sweeping the floor as though there was really something to look for. 2

The article was negative and blasted Wonder and Scott-Heron for a racialized hypocrisy lack of caring for those who were not African American. It distorted/spun the facts for readers of the article; as related to his readers, Gil Scott-Heron  notes, “It implied that because I was Black and Stevie was Black and John Lennon was White and therefore not a “Soul Brother,” that there had been no mention from the stage about the murder. . . It’s all about the deadline . . .In order to get that article in the paper this morning the reporter had to leave by 11:00. And Stevie didn’t start talking until 11:30.”3

Here’s a bit more information from the web.4  Stevie Wonder-Martin Luther King Day

To those of you for whom Stevie Wonder and Gil Scott-Heron are a part of a vague Black history month memory from a paragraph about Civil Rights in your high school textbooks . . .. this is encouragement to do more research, help bring light to some of the vagueness.

Today, we often sing the chorus of this birthday song to our family and friends.  Here is Stevie Wonder singing the “Happy Birthday” song in another commemorative context: For Nelson Mandela.

 

A joyous serious celebratory salute, embedded in a fun song.

Black History month? As I said on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeloresFisher/status/563057482483105792

Delores Fisher Strolling and Reflecting on Gil Scott-Heron, Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Delores Fisher
Strolling and Reflecting on Gil Scott-Heron, Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END NOTES 

1.  Heron, Gil Scott. The Last Holiday. “Chapters 30-39″ (New York, New York: Grove Press, 2012 ) 224-292. Often cited for his groundbreaking poem,”The Revolution Will Not be Televised” 1st premiered to the general public on  the album Gil-Scott-Heron- Small Talk At 125th and Lennox in 1970, the poet sprang into America’s consciousness  and performed for a following that grew into a national and international audience. GilScott-Heron’s memoir was posthumously published. The publisher notes on  p 316 reveal that one purpose of this edited manuscript was to document Stevie Wonder’s role in the establishment of a national holiday to celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.

2. Ibid.,  281-282.

3. Ibid., 282.

4. Short but to the point min-biography of the events” Biography website http://www.biography.com/people/stevie-wonder-9536078/videos/stevie-wonder-martin-luther-king-day-3270723700.

San Diego’s Valencia Park/Malcolm X Library 20th Anniversary

Delores Fisher Sonic Tapestry Blogger

Delores Fisher
Sonic Tapestry Blogger

Celebrations, celebrations rain or shine!

As Spring semester started, invitations and appearance commitments were a bit interesting to fulfill. For me this Spring 2016, several events were most enjoyable and memorable. The Valencia Park/ Malcolm X Library 20th year anniversary celebration on January 9th was one of those events. City Library personnel(former Valencia Park Librarian Marguerite Farmer), politicians (Dr. Shirley Weber and City Council member Myrtle Cole) were on the program, as well as activists, educators, and entertainers.  Everyone sat side by side and shared the experience even  just the “regular folks,” the Southeast San Diego community who use the facilities and check out books at the Valencia Park/Malcolm X library.

In the background were Friends of the library and interim librarian Marc Chery.

Marc Chery

Marc Chery

Marc Cheri from the San Diego Central Library, voluntarily stepped in to manage the library when it needed a guiding hand due to a staff vacancy. He is familiar with the site and knows how it functions for that area. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/feb/04/black-history-month-local-hero-marc-chery/

The Valencia Park/ Malcolm X Library, right next door to the Elementary Institute of Science, also serves as a resource for many of its neighborhood students who do homework and use the computers for research.

Here are a few photo highlights of the event.

Valencia Park/ Malcolm X Library community celebration: standing room only!

Valencia Park/ Malcolm X Library community celebration: standing room only!

wed 2016 019

Audience listening to one of several speakers

 

 Rev. Alyce Smith-Cooper

Rev. Alyce Smith-Cooper

wed 2016 030

Community member and family

 

(In a photo op moment, before her announcement to run for the San Diego School board candidate) Aid to Dr. Shirley Weber, LaShae Collins enjoys the program.

LaShae Collins

LaShae Collins

 

Junk Yard Dance Crew danced a lively performance and Pianist/music teacher Bobbie Hearns presented a historic-musical panorama of African American Music from its origins to today’s Uptown Funk, Neo Soul, Gospel, and Rap/Hip Hop. Gloria Verdieu gave an historic overview of the original plans for and the naming of the library. Poet Rocio Cordova blazed with lyrical flow on self-hood and social agency.   Poet Rocio Cordova                                                           Poet Activist Rocio Cordoba

Jim Moreno, educator/activist made a surprise appearance http://www.servinghousejournal.com/MorenoNinePoems.aspx

wed 2016 020

Poet Educator /activist Jim Moreno

Central Library Assistant Alan Bugg and I had a chance to catch up on small talk.   Sylvia Talafaro, president of the African American Writer’s Ink who presents community programs for young artists, is also a cultural activist. She gave me exciting information on several upcoming projects for 2016—more about that later this year!

Alan Bugg Central Library Library Assistant

Alan Bugg Central Library : Library Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I  spotted T-Ford, dressed down, blending in; there in community, mingling, talking to people and enjoying the performances.Bloggerazzi moment!!!

JD. T Ford

Educator T Ford was trying to be incognito!

 

Low key and quite quiet, Rapper Tiny Doo, who has seen his share of controversy, http://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/mar/16/judge-dismisses-charges-against-san-diego-rapper-t/  was at the event to support literacy and educational programs that the library provides to youth and adults.

San Diego Rapper Tiny Doo

San Diego  Rapper Tiny Doo

 

wed 2016 027                                                 Delores Fisher and Tiny Doo

Keynote Speaker, UCSD professor, Dennis Childs gave a dynamic speech filled with anecdotes and an inspirational message about the importance of family, community, education, and organizations that unite communities towards a positive future.

Keynote Speaker, UCSD professor Dennis Childs

Keynote Speaker, UCSD professor Dennis    Childs

The 20th Year anniversary celebration of the Malcolm X library was definitely one of my favorite 2016 year opening events.

Musewoman

D. Fisher

Celebrating MLK Day 2016

IMG_20160118_125643

Delores Fisher (funky AM blogging) at Skybound Coffee + dessert Lounge

Happy Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King celebration! It is an American holiday for many. For others, it’s just another day that happens to have a contentious origin and acceptance. For me . . .it is a time of cultural memory and thanksgiving for much that has changed regardless of what has basically remained the same.

Today is a pivotal day that points to February, Black History Month, a month long critical celebratory remembrance of African American’s contributions to the world. However, people like me count today as one day in a continuum of acknowledgement and remembrance. For the majority, this day is annually set aside to think about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,  a Black family man who from time to time allegedly fell from familial loyalty and grace, https://www.quora.com/What-evidence-exists-that-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-engaged-in-orgies-with-white-prostitutes-and-other-women   accepted back into the fold by loving wife Coretta.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born into the traditional Southern African American religious community experience. It is common knowledge that his father was a minister, his mother a church musician. His family ties ran deep roots into the community in which he grew. Like so many of his generation born under Jim Crow tyranny, he lived with virulent segregation which extended from the systematic to the personal that could turn vile and violent in an eye blink. He lived in an America in which he couldn’t even think about sitting down for lunch at many Southern lunch counters or at a table in many Southern AND Northern coffee shops.

This morning, after a disconcerting incident, across the street at a bistro with long lines and uptown in-crowd folks that look at me as if I should not even consider coming into their elite, private haunt, I am sitting comfortably in a very bio-saavy 21st century chillin’ coffee shop called Skybound coffee + dessert lounge at the corner of Market and Front near downtown San Diego.

IMG_20160118_130059

Sign in front of Skybound Coffee = dessert lounge

Deciding that my kinda funky appearance may have prompted their response–it’s my morning stroll and write-I spotted the quiet welcoming coffee shop opposite the  uptown bistro. Skybound Coffee + dessert lounge’s barista smiles warmly as I walk in. I decided to stay. It might become one of my newest places to reflect and write.

IMG_20160118_125653

Skybound Coffee + dessert lounge Outside dining area

A thick grey overcast sky with angry looking cloud masses and a peek-a-boo sun blowing occasional ray kisses onto cool undercurrent San Diego winter breezes has chased me these few blocks inland. Glad it did.  Skybound is a really cool coffee shop with really good coffee (their expresso is world ranked), scrumptious chocolate chip cookies (let them heat it up), and mellow yet rockin’ back drop music.

IMG_20160118_125554

Skybound Coffee + dessert Lounge

MLK Walkway . . .

Earlier Monday morning, conscious of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s evolving legacy, I walked in deep thought. Despite no noticeable signs marking its existence, I know where MLK Walkway is, so I detoured from my Harbor stroll to walk and remember the history in which I grew up. Chilly winds skipped along the pavement, yet Mlk Walkway had sporadic  visitor clusters. Many stopped to read inserts of Rev. Dr. King’s memorable sayings. Here are my favorite today.

IMG_20160118_111554

History books often sanitize our United States’ tumultuously bloody 1960s, a time of transition in concepts of racial, gender, religious, economic, social, age, disability, moral, political, educational, children’s rights and paradigms of power.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s scholarship is frequently under fire these days. His use of other’s textual material in his dissertation without consistently giving credit has stoked defaming flames of plagiarism. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/11/us/boston-u-panel-finds-plagiarism-by-dr-king.html  

Recent work has pointed to the same issue in his speeches and indicates that many of today’s politicians are also . . . culpable. It would be quite interesting in this election year if someone did such an analysis across the board as speech writers and campaign strategists ride wild winds of word craft across the terrain of America’s emotional public, blasting smoke from full tilt rhetorical throttles   http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/The-rules-on-plagiarism-with-full-credit-to-MLK-1785866.php

This recent critical interrogation of Rev. Dr. King’s speeches is a life lesson for all  speak writers, for professionals who create manuscript speeches and for students who are learning to write them, for extemporaneous and impromptu speakers who enjoy freedom from censure, saying what ever they want. Remember to mention the source if you borrow material.

If one of your “inspiring” thoughts happens to sound like another’s, and people note it, use their discovery as a humbling confirmation that your inner thought world reflects a corpus of ideas that seemingly reappear cyclically  in human existence.

At a later date, if it can be worked into another occasion and context, amend your  statements, cite the original source, include similarities and differences in your next speech. Keep researching, reading, studying, reflecting on information you acquire, giving voice to reflective thought.

It is common knowledge that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. read widely, that he  studied and reflected on others thoughts. He grew into a globally recognized activist-scholar. He developed one definitive voice crying in a wilderness of upheaval,1 one template for personal proactive response in the middle of terrifying times and alternative perspectives.

As I sit sipping flavorful coffee, eating a chunky chocolate chip cookie at a Skybound Coffee + dessert lounge table in 21st century San Diego California this January morning, churning in political angst from voices claiming to speak for the many, or the all, I think of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and wonder . . .

End Note

  1.  KJV Matthew 3: 2-3 Biblical reference to John the Baptist.

 

Musewoman,

Delores Fisher

Australian Jellyfish at San Diego Broadway Pier and Embarcadero

Delores Fisher at the Harbor

Delores Fisher at the Harbor

San Diego California has one of the most interesting harbor habitats in America. San Diego’s Broadway Pier, G Street Pier, and Embarcadero Park area welcome thousands of tourists from cruise ships, vacation yachts, and hotels each year. Our harbor activities range from on shore  leisure walking, reading, and enjoying picnics, to attending small busker concerts or huge bay side party bash concerts with mega name superstars. Recently, we had an unusual visitor . . .Australian jellyfish. Turns out that these jellyfish have been here for a while in our lower harbor area.

I took this photo at the G Street Pierjelly fish 2

I covered the event a few weeks ago for the Notesong Blog and began thinking about how this phenomenon is impacting our understanding of shifting ecosystems. We may not fully understand what is happening in our oceans and waterways for at least a few more years. See http://carpenoctum2.blogspot.com/2015/10/jellyfish-around-san-diego-embarcadero.html

However, I managed to get a video and more photos to post on Sonictapestry for my science community readers who might want to chime in about other natural phenomena. Enjoy.

Australian Jellyfish Video

As our climate continues to undergo unusual changes that seem to not have been documented by scientists as normal cyclical occurrences, we will probably experience   more of nature’s “surprises.”

Photos taken at Broadway Pier

It was an interesting summer.

Musewoman Delores Fisher

 

 

Delores Fisher’s San Diego Comic Con Chronicles 2015 #4: Literacy

Delores Fisher Afronaut circa mid-1980s

Delores Fisher Afronaut
circa mid-1980s

No, this is not going to be a blast at our nation’s literacy or lack thereof. Just wanted to consider Twenty-first century cultural literacy from the perspective of a once avid comic book reader, television cartoon watcher, and film goer, and club kid.

If one was into Funk music in the early 1970s, a childhood background of early morning cartoon watching (Here he comes to save the day  . . . Mighty Mouse is on his way!),  reading DC and Marvel comic book heroes,(Superman, Sgt. Fury and His Howling commandos) and watching sci-fi fantasy (The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and who can forget those frantic robotic words,”Danger Will Robinson?”) was common place. As a child, I read Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, August Derleth, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, H. P. Lovecraft. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek provided me with expanded visions of African Americans living and accomplishing in a near future, visiting outer space and alien worlds.

As a teen in the early 70s, musically, I was aware of Sun Ra, Yosef Latif, Taj Mahal, of course Miles, and avant -garde classical, pop and jazz. music. Then in the mid-seventies, I heard George Clinton. I joined Mr. Star Child and his band.

So, it just made sense to me in the seventies after joining George Clinton and his Funkstateers to take my futuristic persona on stage and to also party at clubs in attire that was . . .  well . . . different. (Ah for the days of Purple hair and butterfly cowboy boots).

Dressing up allowed me to exist as an artistic Black woman, capable of feats of incredible being there.  Of course, one had to know the trends, the icons favored by club and performance party culture, what was right on and what wasn’t.

A not too dissimilar cultural literacy frequently abounds in 21st century Comic Con goers. From the Star trek franchise to apocalyptical characters to just plain fun personas, interacting with folks in a communal multi-cultural ambiance as they interpret our current pop culture sheroes. heroes, and icons into “beingness” is an interesting experience.

Star Trek Next Generation: cosplayer as Geordi La Forge

Star Trek Next Generation: cosplayer as Geordi La Forge

Cosplayers as  Zombies

Cosplayers as Zombies

Cosplayer as  "Fun-Sista Woman!"

Cosplayer as
“Fun-Sista Woman!”

A working definition of cultural literacy? According to Encyclopedia. Com http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401801107.html

CULTURAL LITERACY refers to the concept that citizens in a democracy should possess a common body of knowledge that allows them to communicate effectively, govern themselves, and share in their society’s rewards. E. D. Hirsch Jr., a literary scholar, popularized the term in the best-selling book Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know in 1987. . . Hirsch maintained that early education should focus on content and that all students, not just a bright few, could achieve cultural literacy. Hirsch offered in his book 5,000 terms that he thought culturally literate Americans should recognize. The list included dates (“1776”), historical persons (“Brown, John”), titles of historic documents (“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”), figures of speech (“nose to the grindstone”), and terms from science (“DNA”). . . . Critics were afraid that Hirsch’s cultural literacy list was simplistic, presumed a uniform Eurocentric culture, failed to reflect the nation’s diversity of race and ethnicity. Hirsch answered his critics by greatly expanded his list in The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, published in 1988 and revised it in 1993 written with Joseph F. Kett and James Trefil. 1

Young people have a tendency become fans of folks, to look up to real life mentors and fictional characters. They constantly “read” pop culture as a way to make sense of their world.  Our mulit-cultural society’s popular cultural narratives provide the worst (villains) and thankfully best (sheroes, heroes) examples of humanity. San Diego Comic-Con offered an opportunity to inhabit today’s visual and written narrative tableaus of potential, even for a post 1970s Funkstateers Afronaut like me.

Delores Fisher and Cosplayer as the Walking Dead character Michonne

Delores Fisher and Cosplayer as the Walking Dead character Michonne

Just sayin’

Musewoman,

Delores Fisher

End Note

  1. Cultural Literacy. Dictionary of American History. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 16 Sep. 2015 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.web.