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Books / Moving Forward by Karine Jean-Pierre
« on: January 17, 2020, 01:45:20 pm »
Friday, 17th January 2020
Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America
by Karine Jean-Pierre

Author and senior advisor at, Karine Jean-Pierre, talks about her life's path in her new book 'Moving Forward.'

What readers may find most compelling about 'Moving Forward' is the author's confession to reluctant feelings of wanting to take her life.

"I tried to take my life when I was very young. At the time I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to. It was hard to write about in #MovingForward, but I felt like being honest and sharing my story could help save someone's life today." ~ Karine Jean-Pierre

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Books / Breathe: A Letter To My Sons by Dr. Imani Perry
« on: November 27, 2019, 05:56:24 am »
'Breathe: A Letter To My Sons' written by Dr. Imani Perry

Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity.

She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable.

However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love—finding beauty and possibility in life—and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition.

Perry draws upon the ideas of figures such as James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ida B. Wells.

She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools.

With original art for the cover by Ekua Holmes, Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience.

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Books / IMPEACH: The Case Against Donald Trump by Neal Katyal
« on: November 24, 2019, 08:33:03 pm »
Sunday, 24th November 2019
IMPEACH: The Case Against Donald Trump
by Neal Katyal

A veteran Supreme Court lawyer presents the case for impeachment in a manner that adheres to the facts and the law without engaging in political spin.

Writing with Koppelman, Katyal, the former acting solicitor general of the U.S., calls himself “an extreme centrist” and insists,

“I am not a partisan.”

He has “argued more United States Supreme Court cases than just about anyone (39 and counting).”

He has also taught frequent seminars on impeachment that demonstrate the seriousness of the procedure and why it has been taken so infrequently.

Nonetheless, he insists that “we have no choice but to impeach and remove President Trump” based on the charges resulting from a whistleblower’s alert to a phone conversation with Ukrainian officials.

Others—particularly Republicans—believe otherwise, that this was a minor matter blown way out of proportion.

This book proceeds methodically to build a step-by-step case for the jury of the American reading public.

Katyal maintains that “this is as simple a case as you will find” and that “the facts are clear.”

Those facts are that Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of a political rival and candidate for the presidency, before the U.S. would resume aid to that country, that this constituted both bribery and solicitation of foreign interference, and that he then attempted a coverup and obstruction of justice.

Each of these elements, argues the author convincingly, qualifies under the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that impeachment requires.

Furthermore, Katyal contends that such intervention before the 2020 presidential election is necessary because the charges show the president’s willingness to subvert that process.

He hopes that “impeachment could bring out the best of America” as the public weighs the facts of the case and forces its elected representatives to do the same.

Not all will agree that the case is as cut and dried as the author makes it, but he provides both a framework and foundation for discussion—and plenty of facts to support his powerful case.

Essential reading for a key moment in our (currently) democratic nation.

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Books / Healthy Holly by Catherine Pugh
« on: November 20, 2019, 07:29:55 am »
Wednesday, 20th November 2019
Former Baltimore Mayor Pugh charged with 11 counts of fraud, tax evasion in ‘Healthy Holly’ book scandal

by Luke Broadwater and Kevin Rector

Federal prosecutors have charged former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh with 11 counts of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy in what they allege was a corrupt scheme involving her sales of a self-published children’s book series.

In a grand jury indictment made public Wednesday, prosecutors allege Pugh defrauded area businesses and nonprofit organizations with nearly $800,000 in sales of her “Healthy Holly” books to unlawfully enrich herself, promote her political career and illegally fund her campaign for mayor.

Though her customers ordered more than 100,000 copies of the books, the indictment says Pugh failed to print thousands of copies, double-sold others and took some to use for self-promotion.

Pugh, 69, used the profits to buy a house, pay down debt, and make illegal straw donations to her campaign, prosecutors allege.

At the same time, prosecutors said, she was evading taxes.

In 2016, for instance, when she was a state senator and ran for mayor, she told the Internal Revenue Service she had made just $31,000.

In fact, her income was more than $322,000 that year ― meaning she shorted the federal government of about $100,000 in taxes, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The charges Pugh faces carry potential sentences totaling 175 years in prison.

Prosecutors are seeking to seize $769,688 of her profits, along with her current home in Ashburton, which they allege she bought and renovated with fraudulently obtained funds.

The former Democratic mayor is expected to appear Thursday in U.S. District Court in downtown Baltimore.

“Our elected officials must place the interests of the citizens above their own,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a statement.

“Corrupt public employees rip off the taxpayers and undermine everyone’s faith in government."

Two of Pugh’s associates ― longtime aide Gary Brown Jr. and Roslyn Wedington, the director of a nonprofit Pugh championed ― have agreed to plead guilty in the investigation, according to just-unsealed agreements.

Brown, 38, an aide to Pugh as a state senator and mayor, pleaded guilty earlier this month to four counts:

one for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one for filing a false tax return, and two for conspiring to defraud the United States.

Of the latter two charges, one is related to his work with Pugh, while the other is related to his work with Wedington, the director of the nonprofit training center for which Pugh served as board chairwoman.

Wedington, 50, pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and five counts of filing false tax returns.

According to her plea deal, she “knowingly filed false tax returns" each year from 2013 to 2017, with Brown’s help.

Prosecutors declined to say whether Brown and Wedington are cooperating with investigators.

Brandon Mead, an attorney for Wedington, said she regrets her actions.

“Ms. Wedington has been an incredibly hard worker. She unfortunately got put in a situation that many Americans face today, where she was behind on student loans, behind on health care debt, and she unfortunately made some wrong decisions,” he said.

The charges against Pugh, who rose from the City Council to a leadership position in the Maryland Senate before becoming Baltimore’s 50th mayor in 2016, come more than six months after she resigned amid scandal.

“The people of Maryland expect elected officials to make decisions based on the public’s best interests, not to abuse their office for personal gain,” Jennifer Boone, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore division, said in a statement.

“The indictment alleges that Catherine Pugh betrayed the public’s trust."

Criminal charges against the former mayor are the latest blow to a city plagued by relentless violence, persistent poverty and decades of population loss.

Pugh was once seen as a more ethical option for voters in a city with a history of wrongdoing by politicians.

But her political career came to an end this spring amid public outcry over the “Healthy Holly” book deals.

Those sales were revealed in a series of articles in The Baltimore Sun that began March 13th.

Pugh collected $500,000 over several years selling the books in a no-bid deal with the medical system, where she was on the board of directors.

She later resigned from the board and as mayor amid multiple investigations into her finances and the book sales, including to other entities doing business with the city.

Pugh said she sold the clumsily published books — they contain grammatical and spelling errors, such as a main character’s name being spelled two different ways and the word “vegetable” appearing as “vegetale” — to the medical system to distribute to city schoolchildren.

School officials, however, said they hadn’t asked for the books, never used them for instruction, and had thousands sitting unread in a warehouse.

As some in city and state government blasted what they called self-dealing, Pugh was unrepentant — and called inquiries into her deals with UMMS a

“witch hunt.”         

"Where have I heard this before?"

But her side of the story evolved.

She acknowledged the medical system paid her more than she had initially acknowledged.

And she later said she hadn’t produced thousands of the ordered books and gave back $100,000 to the hospital network.

Then it came out that ― despite Pugh saying she had sold only to UMMS ― she’d collected at least another $300,000 from other entities.

The Sun revealed health insurer Kaiser Permanente and Associated Black Charities bought a total of roughly 30,000 copies of Pugh’s books, paying her nearly $200,000.

Pugh voted in 2017 to approve a $48 million contract for Kaiser Permanente to provide insurance to city employees.

Associated Black Charities has a deal with the city to manage a $13 million fund that makes grants to groups that help children.

And Columbia businessman J.P. Grant — whose Grant Capital Management has long done business with the city — said his company cut a check for $100,000 to Pugh’s Healthy Holly LLC in 2016.

He received a sample copy of a book, but no documentation of how his money would be used, Grant said.

After being hospitalized amid the emerging scandal for pneumonia, Pugh apologized for the UMMS sales at a March 28 news conference at City Hall.

But at the same event, she disclosed that some 40,000 books UMMS paid for were never produced.

And in a bizarre twist, the still seriously ill mayor showed off a line of “Healthy Holly” baby clothes.

Pressure mounted on Pugh to resign, with the City Council, the governor and the city’s delegation to the General Assembly calling on her to step down.

While she went on leave in April, citing health reasons, she refused to leave office until after investigators raided City Hall, her homes and other locations connected with her in May.

She apologized to the public in a resignation letter read her attorney, Steven Silverman.

“I’m sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of the mayor,” Pugh said in the statement.

“Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward."

The Sun’s series of investigative stories resulted in major change at the medical system, a network of hospitals in the state.

The medical system accepted the resignations of CEO Robert A. Chrencik and four other executives.

The General Assembly passed sweeping legislation that demanded the resignation of the entire board of directors.

In the indictment, prosecutors say Pugh’s scheme began in December 2010 when she persuaded the medical system to pay her $100,000 to purchase 20,000 copies of her first “Healthy Holly” book to donate to Baltimore’s schools.

Because the book contained “various grammatical and spelling errors," a school system staffer copy edited the books, and then-CEO Andres Alonso ultimately decided they couldn’t be used for instruction, but would be donated to students, prosecutors said.

Then a state senator, Pugh had about 20,000 copies of the books delivered to the school system, and those copies were stored in a warehouse.

However, Pugh and Brown, who worked as her legislative aide, arranged for thousands of the books to be removed for their “personal use and benefit,” prosecutors say.

Over the years, Pugh re-upped the sales to the hospital network four more times, but never told medical officials she had not used the books as intended, according to prosecutors.

Instead, the mayor stored thousands of copies of the books at her house, the mayor’s office at City Hall, her legislative offices, the War Memorial Building, a public storage locker used by Pugh’s mayoral campaign, her and Brown’s vehicles and the vehicles of other aides.

Meanwhile, Brown, who runs several limited liability companies out of his house, helped Pugh manage her book publishing business, including overseeing “the transportation and storage of the books, drafted invoices, and corresponded with purchasers" while on the clock as "Pugh’s legislative aide and mayoral staff member,” prosecutors say.

During her successful mayoral campaign, Pugh and Brown decided to inflate her campaign finance report through illegal means by using money from the books, prosecutors allege.

On November 8th, 2016, prosecutors say Pugh and Brown decided to “secretly” donate book-sale money to the campaign ― an action that could have been done legally under Maryland law, because candidates may contribute an unlimited amount of their own campaigns.

But because Pugh and Brown believed “that if the voters learned that Pugh had injected her own money into the campaign, she would appear desperate" they decided to make “contributions to her campaign in other people’s names, i.e., to use straw donors, which is a violation of Maryland’s election laws,” according to the indictment.

“Instead of depositing the checks into a bank account, Brown took the checks to the bank where Healthy Holly’s account was located and cashed them at the teller’s window, thereby acquiring untraceable cash to fund the straw donations," prosecutors allege.

Brown later came under investigation from the Maryland State Prosecutor’s office, which questioned the source of funds for some of the straw donations.

To hide the Healthy Holly proceeds as the source, the indictment says Pugh had asked Brown to create a fake independent contractor agreement and business ledger that misrepresented the checks as payments for promotional services rendered by Brown’s company.

Also at Pugh’s urging, prosecutors say, Brown created bogus invoices and backdated them.

In total, Brown and Pugh cashed out approximately $62,100 in Healthy Holly money during 2016, all of which went to straw donors or Pugh, prosecutors say.

The FBI said it had been investigating Pugh since 2016, when her campaign that year for mayor came under scrutiny.

In 2017, Brown was found guilty of violating state election laws for funneling cash to Pugh’s campaign through relatives.

Pugh kept Brown working at City Hall after the conviction.

His home was among those the FBI raided this spring.

According to federal prosecutors, Pugh said she would return the money illegally donated to her campaign, but according to the federal indictment she instead sent it to Brown to pay for his legal defense.

Brown did not cooperate with the earlier state prosecution, and the new federal indictment says the State Prosecutor wasn’t able to identify Healthy Holly as the source of the straw donation funds.

Meanwhile, prosecutors say, Pugh and Brown also defrauded the IRS by falsely representing Healthy Holly checks to Brown as payments for services and therefore deductible business expenses.

Brown’s deductions included fictitious expenses such as fake labor costs for nonexistent employees, prosecutors allege.

When not working as a staff member for Pugh, Brown worked as a part-time freelance tax preparer and included materially false information in all of those tax returns to obtain larger refunds ― totaling more than $100,000 ― for his customers, prosecutors say.

Pugh became the second Baltimore mayor in a decade to quit in connection with a criminal investigation; Democratic Mayor Sheila Dixon resigned in 2010.

In the wake of Pugh’s resignation, Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, then City Council president, ascended to Baltimore’s top job for the duration of her term.

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Friday, 18th October 2019
Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System

Cyntoia Brown-Long is a guest on The Breakfast Club dissecting pieces of her life she bravely shared in her new book, 'Free Cyntoia'.

The former prisoner takes us through her darkest moments in life from serving time convicted to murder to her brightest by finding refuge through faith, persistence and love.

Feel The Funk / MOTOWN founder, Berry Gordy retires
« on: September 24, 2019, 11:02:12 am »
Tuesday, 24th September 2019
Berry Gordy to retire; Motown founder bows out after 6 decades
by Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press

The Chairman has stepped down — and likely taken his final bow in Detroit.

Berry Gordy, the Detroit native who built Motown Records from a shoestring operation into a music, film and television empire, told a hometown crowd Sunday night that he is at last retiring.

"I have come full circle," he said onstage during Motown's 60th anniversary program at Orchestra Hall.

"It is only appropriate (to announce this) while here in Detroit, the city where my fairy tale happened with all of you."

The enterprising Gordy helped revolutionize American and global culture via Motown, shepherding young Detroit talent and eventually churning out stars such as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and the Jackson 5.

Although Gordy sold the record label in 1988 and later parceled off its song-publishing arm, the 89-year-old has remained very much in the business of Motown.

In recent years, his creative pursuits have included a Broadway musical and a Showtime documentary about the company.

He's also been closely involved with the Motown Museum's $50 million expansion campaign, including a $4 million donation to the project last month.

Speaking to an Orchestra Hall audience that included many of the key figures who have been part of his six-decade Motown journey, Gordy said Sunday that he has contemplated retirement for some time.

"For years, I dreamed about it, talked about it, threatened it," he said.

Gordy's announcement was the dramatic conclusion to a nearly 40-minute speech that found him frequently veering from his written remarks to share old anecdotes, interact with Motown colleagues in the audience, and get "sentimental," as he put it.

He told familiar stories, like the life-changing moment as an 8-year-old when Detroit boxer Joe Louis defeated Germany's Max Schmeling.

And he bantered with Motown's Mickey Stevenson, seated in the front row, recounting the time he loaned his car to the roguish A&R chief for a lunch trip — only to have Stevenson and the vehicle disappear for two days.

There were poignant, reflective moments — including an admission that he has only recently come to fully grasp "the love" directed toward him and Motown's legacy.

"I was too busy to understand it, to appreciate it," he said.

Gordy, visiting Detroit from Los Angeles for the weekend's 60th anniversary celebration, also took part in a Sunday afternoon groundbreaking as the Motown Museum embarks on expansion construction.

There, he was joined by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others.

"This trip to my hometown Detroit has been overwhelming to me," he said Sunday night.

Gordy's speech capped the "Hitsville Honors" program, a lively, 3½-hour show that featured performances by Motown veterans (the Temptations, Four Tops, Martha Reeves) and younger acts such as Big Sean, Kem and Ne-Yo.

The evening also included a series of awards, including the Motown Legacy honor presented to him by director-writer Lee Daniels ("Empire").

Daniels earlier had saluted Gordy's production of "Lady Sings the Blues," the 1972 Billie Holiday biopic starring Diana Ross, as inspiration for his career path.

Daniels has embarked on his own Holiday film — "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" — and said that's what led him to Detroit this weekend.

"No way I was going to shoot this movie without kissing (Gordy's) ring," he said.

An up-and-coming songwriter, Gordy founded the company that would become Motown in 1959, with support from his entrepreneurial family that included an $800 starter loan.

It went on to become America's biggest black-owned corporation.

Gordy, who has lived in L.A. since moving his operations there in the early 1970s, will turn 90 in November.

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Books / Supreme Glamour
« on: September 23, 2019, 08:12:06 am »
Supreme Glamour

This Is The Story you've been waiting for!

Supreme Glamour written by Mary Wilson of The Supremes, forwarded by Whoopi Goldberg and co-written by Mark Bego.

Mary Wilson tells the complete story of The Supremes, both on- and off- stage, from their founding in Detroit in 1959 as The Primettes to their 1964 breakthrough hit, “Where Did Our Love Go,” and from the departure of Diana Ross to The Supremes’ disco hits of the 1970s.

Supreme Glamour builds a complete picture of the charm, sophistication, and magic of The Supremes.

Feel The Funk / Tekashi 6ix9ine Testifies
« on: September 19, 2019, 01:50:27 pm »
"I'm beginning to understand why Nikki got out of music."
Thursday, 19th September 2019
Tekashi 6ix9ine testifies Cardi B is member of Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang

by Emily Saul, Elizabeth Rosner and Jackie Salo

Rapper-turned-snitch Tekashi 6ix9ine threw rhymesters Cardi B and Jim Jones under the bus as members of the Bloods as he testified about how he used his former crew for fame, on Thursday.

The 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, ticked off the names of Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods members as he took the stand in Manhattan federal court against reputed associates Anthony “Harv” Ellison and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack.

Under cross-examination, Tekashi confirmed that Cardi B was a Bloods member, though he denied he copied her blueprint for fame by including members in his music videos.

“I knew who she was. I didn’t pay attention,” he told the court.

During his testimony, the rapper has detailed his life of crime with the crew, all while name-checking members such as rapper Jim Jones.

The “Gummo” singer faces a mandatory prison sentence of 47 years, though he could walk free on time served for cooperating in the racketeering trial.

On Thursday, Tekashi was questioned on whether he was singing in the case to help the government or to get a more lenient sentence.

“Little bit of both,” he testified.

Cardi has said she used to be a Bloods member.

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Feel The Funk / PEDRO BELL
« on: August 29, 2019, 07:15:14 am »
Thursday, 29th August 2019
Pedro Bell, Artist of Funkadelic’s Iconic Album Covers, Has Passed Away
by Evan Minsker

Pedro Bell, the Chicago visual artist behind many iconic Funkadelic and George Clinton album covers, has passed away.

The news was shared by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.

In his 2014 memoir, Clinton said the band began receiving letters from Bell around 1972.

“He doodled these intricate, wild worlds, filled with crazy hypersexual characters and strange slogans,” Clinton wrote.

Clinton and Bell began speaking over the phone, and from their conversations, Bell created his first cover for Funkadelic:

1973’s Cosmic Slop.

“When he sent us his interpretation, I was blown away,” Clinton wrote.

“It included pimps and hos, some of which were drawn as aliens with little worms coming out of them. It was nightmarish and funny and beautiful, a perfect fit for the music we were making.”

Bell went on to create many of Funkadelic’s best known album covers, including 1974’s Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, 1975’s Let’s Take It to the Stage, and 1978’s One Nation Under a Groove.

He also worked on a string of George Clinton’s solo covers, including 1982’s Computer Games.

Bell’s work has been displayed in museums and galleries internationally.

Bell was profiled by The Chicago Sun-Times in 2009.

The piece depicted the artist attempting to sell original versions of his iconic artwork while living in poverty and struggling with poor health.

Bernie Worrell performed at a 2009 benefit concert to help raise money for Bell.

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Feel The Funk / Banned Kenyan Songs Are Restricted To Bars & Clubs
« on: August 27, 2019, 11:45:03 pm »
Wednesday, 28th August 2019
Kenya ban songs & restricts them to bars and clubs
by Africa News

Rayvanny Ft Diamond Platnumz - Tetema

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Two highly popular Kenyan songs have been banned by the country’s arts watchdog, the Kenya Film and Classification Board, KFCB.

Head of the KFCB, Ezekiel Mutua, on Tuesday disclosed that his outfit considered Tetema (a Tanzanian song) and Wamlambeez (by Kenyan music group, Sailors) obscene and had banned it from being played publicly.

He added that they could only be played in clubs and pubs for consumption of adults especially because they were sang in coded language.

Reports indicate that the songs make veiled reference to oral sex in parts of it.

“Tetema and Wamlambez songs are strictly forbidden outside of clubs and bars. It’s embarrassing to see even national leaders singing and dancing to the obscenity in public. The lyrics are dirty and not suitable for public consumption, especially children."
“Both songs are pure pornography. While we may not ban them because they are coded, it’s important for the public to know that they are dirty and unsuitable for mixed company. Let them be restricted to clubs, for adults only!” he tweeted.

With the current ban which has been widely criticised, the songs cannot be played on television, radio and on public buses.

WAMLAMBEZ - SAILORS (Miracle Baby, Shalkido, Masilver, Lexxy Yung, Qoqosjuma)

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The wamlambez track was released in April 2019.

It is sang in a popular local slang known as Sheng.

The video has grossed over four million views on YouTube.

It also features dance moves considered lewd.

Its popularity before the ban cut across the social strata.

While it has widely been sang at football games, political rallies have also had their fair share of using it.

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Books / The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
« on: August 21, 2019, 09:18:39 am »
Wednesday, 21st August 2019
The Water Dancer

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

And I could only have seen her there on the stone bridge, a dancer wreathed in ghostly blue, because that was the way they would have taken her back when I was young, back when the Virginia earth was still red as brick and red with life, and though there were other bridges spanning the river Goose, they would have bound her and brought her across this one, because this was the bridge that fed into the turnpike that twisted its way through the green hills and down the valley before bending in one direction, and that direction was south.

I had always avoided that bridge, for it was stained with the remembrance of the mothers, uncles, and cousins gone Natchez-way. But knowing now the awesome power of memory, how it can open a blue door from one world to another, how it can move us from mountains to meadows, from green woods to fields caked in snow, knowing now that memory can fold the land like cloth, and knowing, too, how I had pushed my memory of her into the “down there” of my mind, how I forgot, but did not forget, I know now that this story, this Conduction, had to begin there on that fantastic bridge between the land of the living and the land of the lost.

And she was patting juba on the bridge, an earthen jar on her head, a great mist rising from the river below nipping at her bare heels, which pounded the cobblestones, causing her necklace of shells to shake. The earthen jar did not move; it seemed almost a part of her, so that no matter her high knees, no matter her dips and bends, her splaying arms, the jar stayed fixed on her head like a crown. And seeing this incredible feat, I knew that the woman patting juba, wreathed in ghostly blue, was my mother.

No one else saw her—not Maynard, who was then in the back of the new Millennium chaise, not the fancy girl who held him rapt with her wiles, and, most strange, not the horse, though I had been told that horses had a nose for things that stray out from other worlds and stumble into ours. No, only I saw her from the driver’s seat of the chaise, and she was just as they’d described her, just as they’d said she’d been in the olden days when she would leap into a circle of all my people—Aunt Emma, Young P, Honas, and Uncle John—and they would clap, pound their chests, and slap their knees, urging her on in double time, and she would stomp the dirt floor hard, as if crushing a crawling thing under her heel, and bend at the hips and bow, then twist and wind her bent knees in union with her hands, the earthen jar still on her head. My mother was the best dancer at Lockless, that is what they told me, and I remembered this because she’d gifted me with none of it, but more I remembered because it was dancing that brought her to the attention of my father, and thus had brought me to be. And more than that, I remembered because I remembered everything—everything, it seemed, except her.

It was autumn, now, the season when the races came south. That afternoon Maynard had scored on a long-shot thoroughbred, and thought this might, at last, win the esteem of Virginia Quality he sought. But when he made the circuit around the great town square, leaning back, way back in the chaise and grinning large, the men of society turned their back to him and puffed on their cigars. There were no salutes. He was what he would always be—Maynard the Goof, Maynard the Lame, Maynard the Fool, the rotten apple who’d fallen many miles from the tree. He fumed and had me drive to the old house at the edge of our town, Starfall, where he purchased himself a night with a fancy, and had the bright notion to bring her back to the big house at Lockless, and, most fatefully, in a sudden bout of shame, insisted on leaving the back way out of town, down Dumb Silk Road, until it connected to that old turnpike, which led us back to the bank of the river Goose.

A cold steady rain fell as I drove, the water dripping down from the brim of my hat, puddling on my trousers. I could hear Maynard in the back, with all his games, putting his carnal boasts upon the fancy. I was pushing the horse as hard as I could, because all I wanted was to be home and free of Maynard’s voice, though I could never, in this life, be free of him. Maynard who held my chain. Maynard, my brother who was made my master. And I was trying all I could to not hear, searching for distraction—memories of corn-shucking or young games of blind man’s bluff. What I remember is how those distractions never came, but instead there was a sudden silence, erasing not just Maynard’s voice, but all the small sounds of the world around. And now, peering into the pigeonhole of my mind, what I found were remembrances of the lost—men holding strong on watch-night, and women taking their last tour of the apple orchards, spinsters remanding their own gardens to others, old codgers cursing the great house of Lockless. Legions of the lost, brought across that baleful bridge, legions embodied in my dancing mother.

I yanked at the reins but it was too late. We barreled right through and what happened next shook forever my sense of a cosmic order. But I was there and saw it happen, and have since seen a great many things that expose the ends of our knowledge and how much more lies beyond it.

The road beneath the wheels disappeared, and the whole of the bridge fell away, and for a moment I felt myself floating on, or maybe in, the blue light. And it was warm there, and I remember that brief warmth because just as suddenly as I floated out, I was in the water, under the water, and even as I tell you this now, I feel myself back there again, in the icy bite of that river Goose, the water rushing into me, and that particular burning agony that comes only to the drowning.

There is no sensation like drowning, because the feeling is not merely the agony, but a bewilderment at so alien a circumstance. The mind believes that there should be air, since there is always air to be had, and the urge to breathe is such a matter of instinct that it requires a kind of focus to belay the order. Had I leapt from the bridge myself, I could have accounted for my new situation. Had I even fallen over the side, I would have understood, if only because this would have been imaginable. But it was as though I had been shoved out of a window right into the depths of the river. There was no warning. I kept trying to breathe. I remember crying out for breath and more I remember the agony of the answer, the agony of water rushing into me, and how I answered that agony by heaving, which only invited more water.

But somehow I steadied my thoughts, somehow I came to understand that all my thrashing could only but hasten my demise. And with that accomplished, I noted that there was light in one direction and darkness in another and deduced that the dark was the depths and the light was not. I whipped my legs behind me, and stretched out my arms toward the light, pulling the water until, at last, coughing, retching, I surfaced.

And when I came up, breaking through dark water, and into the diorama of the world — storm clouds hung by unseen thread, a red sun pinned low against them, and beneath that sun, hills dusted with grass — I looked back at the stone bridge, which must have been, my God, a half mile away.

The bridge seemed to be almost racing away from me, because the current pulled me along and when I angled myself to swim toward the shore it was that current still, or perhaps some unseen eddy beneath, pulling me downriver. There was no sign of the woman whose time Maynard had so thoughtlessly purchased. But whatever thoughts I had on her behalf were broken by Maynard making himself known, as he had so often, with hue and cry, determined to go out of this world in the selfsame manner that he’d passed through it. He was close by, pulled by the same current. He thrashed in the waves, yelled, treaded a bit, and then disappeared under, only to reappear again seconds later, yelling, half treading, thrashing.

“Help me, Hi!”

There I was, my own life dangling over the black pit, and now being called to save another. I had, on many occasions, tried to teach Maynard to swim, and he took to this instruction as he took to all instruction, careless and remiss at the labor, then sore and bigoted when this negligence bore no fruit. I can now say that slavery murdered him, that slavery made a child of him, and now, dropped into a world where slavery held no sway, Maynard was dead the minute he touched water. I had always been his protection. It was I, only by good humor, and debasement, that had kept Charles Lee from shooting him; and it was I, with special appeal to our father, who’d kept him countless times from wrath; and it was I who clothed him every morning; and I who put him to bed every night; and it was I who now was tired, in both body and soul; and it was I, out there, wrestling against the pull of the current, against the fantastic events that had deposited me there, and now wrestling with the demand that I, once again, save another, when I could not even conjure the energy to save myself.

“Help me!” he yelled again, and then he cried out, “Please!” He said it like the child he always was, begging. And I noted, however uncharitably, even there in the Goose facing my own death, that I had never before recalled him speaking in a manner that reflected the true nature of our positions.

Excerpted from The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Copyright © 2019 by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  All rights reserved.

No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Books / The 1619 Project
« on: August 20, 2019, 05:03:17 am »

Producing / Richard Williams, legendary animator passes away at 86
« on: August 17, 2019, 11:03:39 am »
Saturday Morning Cartoonist, 17th August 2019
Richard Williams, Oscar-winning Animator, passes away at 86

by Alex Ritman

Richard Williams, the triple Oscar-winning and triple BAFTA-winning animator famed for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, has died.

He was 86.

His family announced that he died at his home in the British city of Bristol on August 16 2019.

Born in Toronto but having moved to the U.K. in the 1950s, Williams – who claimed he was drawn to illustrations and animation having watched Disney's Snow White aged five – received critical acclaim with his first film The Little Island, which won a BAFTA in 1958.

His first Oscar would come in 1971 for his animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

Williams also worked on two Pink Panther films and Casino Royal, but it was his work as animation director on Robert Zemeckis' 1988 comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which would cement his name into animation folklore.

The live-action/animated comedy starring Bob Hoskins was a critical and commercial hit, earning $330 million and becoming the first live-action/animation hybrid film to win multiple Academy Awards since Mary Poppins in 1964.

Two of the film's three Oscars went to Williams, who also won a visual effects BAFTA.

Elsewhere, Williams directed, produced and wrote his unfinished feature film The Thief and the Cobbler, a painstakingly hand-animated epic inspired by Arabian Nights, which he started in 1964 and is considered his magnum opus.

Williams was also an author and teacher.

His best-selling book,  'The Animator's Survival Kit' is considered a bible in the industry, and has ben sold around the world and translated into nine languages.

Williams was still animating and writing until the day he died.

Would You Like To Know More?

Books / The Man Who Sold America - Joy-Ann Reid
« on: July 11, 2019, 07:20:36 pm »

One of my absolute favorite political commentators in the American politics game is enjoying the success of her new book, The Man Who Sold America by Joy-Ann Reid is number 9, two weeks in a row on New York Times, Best Sellers Hardcover Nonfiction list.

The MSNBC host of A.M. Joy talks about her analyses of Donald Trump's presidency as a guest on The Breakfast Club.

Books / Dear Black Boy
« on: May 10, 2019, 11:03:51 am »
Martellus Bennett was a guest last night on CNN's CNN Tonight hosted by Don Lemon along with Jemele Hill, promoting his new children's book, Dear Black Boy.

Children's Book illustrations is always a deal breaker for me.

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