Sunday, June 27, 2010

aight, bet - the b.e.t awards

and b.e.t finally manages to put together a televised program that is not a complete hot mess (applause). although there were some cringe-worthy moments i would say overall it was an organized, light-on-the-overtly-ghetto, major improvement of an event. now, for the most part, i couldn't care less about the award winners since the nominees are never equally comparable competition for each other and never make sense anyway, but some of the performances were definitely pleasing on the eyes and the ears...

kanye west:
welcome back, ye. i was highly upset that his performance was the only part of the show that i missed and i was even more upset when i asked my friend how it was and he said "it was whack." whack? WHACK?! people just don't know a good performer when they see one these days. this performance had it all: stage art, sound art - the man is an artiste, damn it. i mean.. if we can forgive chris brown for beating a chick's ass so quickly why can't we forgive a drunk black man for embarrassing some blonde white girl on mtv? it makes no sense. it's whatever. kanye, you did the damn thing - per usu ale. it's the power of that west wind, mann.

el debarge:
after about five full minutes of a room full of twenty year olds yelling at each other "who the hell is that?" (with curiosity, not complaint - we just yell 'cause we're naturally loud) and wrongfully deciding that it was chico debarge on stage, i finally got to listen to this sultry little senorito sing his ass off. i was glad i could finally put a face to all those songs that come up on my sade pandora station that i know i heard on magic 106.7's bedtime magic when i was like seven. his miniature two-piece-jean-n-leather get-up made me giggle but his music definitely had me vibin'.

a tribute to prince:
trey songz thought it would be cute to throw a little bit of "purple rain" into his performance to preface the prince tribute. yeah, um, hey trey - never do that again. i laughed out loud when they turned the camera to prince while trey was missing notes and messing up tempos. the tightly clenched jaw, the downcast eyes, quivering lady-like fingers on his chin - prince was ready to dig into the over sized sleeves of his self-celebrating airbrushed jammies, pull out a purple diamond encrusted pocket knife and cut a bitch. but when those four fierce females hit the stage and did four completely unique but still musically amazing renditions of prince hits he almost couldn't compose himself (not that you could really tell since his facial expression barely changes). well done but definitely not enough for an artist of prince's calibur - i mean, he can sweetly pop your eardrums with a killer high note, break your ankles in a ball game and serve your ass the best flap jacks you've ever eaten before you can say "the artist formerly known as..."

the michael jackson tribute:
now everyone and their mommas got something to say about this performance but i don't have much to say. i thought it was well done, superbly danced, the smooth criminal white light-lining trick was ridiculously sick and i appreciated that chris didn't try and sing like michael as others attempted to do in their tributes (and obviously failed). i didn't buy the crying... that is until i realized that the song playing in the background was "man in mirror" and that chris brown wasn't crying for michael - he was crying for himself. the lyrics say it all, he was crying for forgiveness, for renewal, redemption, whatever you want to call it. it was a cleansing of his mistakes, if you will. i felt it, therefore i respect the passion in his performance.

some final thoughts:
+ b.e.t, get your mic's up.
+ a giant picture of yourself as a stage background, really trey?
+ j.cole being cut off for an allstate ad - don't dig !
+ nicki minaj don't ever "represent" women again.
+ and nicki, why are you lip-singing a rap?
+ tommy lee at the b.e.t awards?! ::eye pop::
+ busta rhymes' deliberate jibberish - win.
+ monica, this is not a tim burton movie set.
+ and, of course, diddy drunk dialing on live tv - cocoloso !

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the ashley show

my life is a joke. so in addition to that saturday disaster that was supposed to be a simple trip to six-flags (see the post below) i faced another ridiculous morning early last week. it all started when my friends and i had purchased some tickets to a gyptian concert in worcester. we were extra excited about it all week long and on wednesday made the long hours drive, blasting music and having a great time all the way to worcester only to face an empty venue. we stepped out of the car, strutted up the street in our tiny dresses only to meet the ugliest handwritten poster plastered on the door that read "gyptian concert postponed until this weekend." we couldn't help but sit ourselves down on the sidewalk and bust out in outrageous laughter, telling ourselves that we should've known something like this would happen, i mean.. what else could you expect from a hoodrat-managed concert? but whatever, we shrugged it off and saved the outfits and planned to do it all again the next day.

at 7am thursday morning i woke up pretty abruptly, wondering if i had evolved into a fucking charmander in my sleep because my throat felt like i had swallowed a fireball. the pain gets increasingly horrendous with every minute so i immediately make my way to the clinic to get myself checked out. turns out i tested negatively for strep throat but was on the brink of some sort of throatal puss epidemic so my doctor perscribed some antiobiotics and specific instructions regarding tylenol, something about not being able to take advil and sternly warned me not to go anywhere or be near anyone if i felt a fever because that meant the strep had taken over and i'd be highly contagious.. i wasn't really listening because i was still trying to decide if i would wear the same dress to the gyptian-repeat concert later that night or if i'd try something new.

i make my way to the pharmacy to get the meds. i wait for about half an hour (on top of the two hours i waited at the clinic) only to get up to the counter and realize i'm five bills short. i had to rush back home and scrounge up five dollars before heading back, but of course, that would be no easy task. on my way home i was talking to my mother on the phone and explaining how i must be under a bad luck spell or something. at one point in the conversation i say to her "i dont know, maybe i need to go to church or something" and as god is my witness a young lady and an older man jumped out of a bush (seriously, they came straight out the woodwork) and said "did we just hear someone say they need church? well, we've got a church for you!" the next twenty minutes of my life consisted of lots of bible quotes and pastel colored pamphelts and promises that jehovah would save me.. i didn't want to be rude so i stood there and just took it all. i took the lady's number and told her if i needed jesus i'd call. long story short: meds - one hour overdue. fever - yes. gyptian - no. miserable? - why, of course. oh, this sitcom i call my life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

more flags, more fun

this past saturday my cousins and i thought we were waking up at 7am to have a fun-filled day at six flags. damn were we wrong. what did we get instead? it's a long story but i'll make it quick: a car that semi-exploded on us in the middle of the highway and went up in smoke on the wrong side of the road. us dodging high-speed traffic while slapping giant grasshoppers off of our legs. a cop car that "pushed" us to the break down lane... but forgot to instruct us on how to stop the broken-down car from rolling onward with traffic. potential criminal offense charges. considering twerking and titty flashing for some sympathy after crying was ruled out. a tow truck driver who definitely liked black girls and cut us some slack but at one point definitely told us "short bus kids" to "hold onto our helmets and wipe our drool while he tries to save our asses." potential bladder releases in the back of said tow truck. possibly the only existing mcdonalds with no dollar menu (i know, crazy right). what did we learn? AAA is a great investment. walking two exit's distance on the highway to the stress-free zone of an amusement park sounds like a great idea after you see how much it costs to tow a car 180 miles. but most importantly: don't let brushes with death, incarceration, mild prostitution and bankruptcy ever stop you from enjoying a perfectly sunny, blue-skied summer's day. where were we 15 minutes after all of this was said and done, after the heavens waved all of those red flags in our faces? laying out on the beach, tanning like some white girls from the west coast with not a care in the world - like some, dare i say it, "beckys." shoutout to my favorite ignorant song off of the ignant playlist we were jammin' to on the way there...

"keep that nookie, i want yo' throat!"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

behind the music

it's one in the morning and i stumble upon vh1's behind the music: christina aguilera. i get caught up in the program at the exact moment the creation of the song "beautiful" is being explained. what i learned was that the song was written by linda perry, inspired by her own personal experience and, essentially, the seed of her bare emotions. my first thought: so christina aguilera is just the voice and the face of linda perry's heart and mind. i mean, yes, i'm sure christina could identify with the song and that added to her own emotional performance of it, but i can't help but hold on to the fact that it wasn't her original idea. i always used to believe that being the singer automatically meant being the songwriter and the producer, the genius behind a song, but some years ago when i realized that that wasn't true it nearly blew my mind - it proved that there could be a difference between talent and genius, between performer and creator.

i respect all artists as long as they take what they do seriously, but i give more props to the cats that work behind the scenes, the ones who perform with their minds far from center stage. i thought back to the episode of "so you think you can dance" that i was watching earlier. i think it's safe to call mia michaels a genius when it comes to choreography and the contestants on the show are there because they exhibit talent, right? so in conclusion, choreographer :: dancer as songwriter :: singer. a choreographer's or a writer's career is not meant to be in the spotlight. being a creator takes courage, control and a level of humility that most are unable to achieve seeing as we're all egotistical by nature. it's hard to grasp the fact that your work will always precede you. makes me wonder if my arrogant ass could sit back in the audience and applaud at the end of a fantastic film, watching my name scroll by a mile a minute in the credits under "screenwriter," no one around me having any idea who the hell i was, or if i could sit in the back of a bigtime listening party, vibing to an incredible song, the only one in the room who knew or cared that my name was all over the inside of the album cover booklet under "songwriter." knowing myself, i would have a mid-life career-crisis and shamelessly become that one actress that ruins a great movie or that one wack autotuned voice on an otherwise damn good song, all because i couldn't stick to what i do best - sitting off to the side somewhere, thinking for everyone else's benefit.

talent - ashley valerio & kupono aweau , genius - wade robson

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

crack babies

there was a massive flood of facebook statuses in my "newsfeed" earlier that were all complaints about the twitter site being down. the general vibe was "damn it! twitter's not working (what to do?! what to do?!).. oh heeyy, whats good facebook?" and just like that those godforsaken tweeters were treating my darling facebook like the secondhand chick - the one who's cute but won't get any attention unless her dime of a best friend is cold-shouldering dudes all night. i couldn't decide what was sadder, the fact that, in their statuses, those tweeter's sounded like drug addicts being denied a fix or the fact that i was mildly offended that all of those ex-facebook fiends were trying to come back to their first love only because their new bitch was acting funny.

while i was comparing the weight of these "pathetic dependencies" in my head, i remembered some stories my mother was telling me a few days ago. my sister had just given birth to her second child and her fiancée was telling us that he was so anxious the night before that he chugged a pitcher of sugar water to calm his nerves. makes no sense, right? i mean, sugar livens you up, it puts you on edge, right? well, not exactly. he explained how when he was growing up on the cape verde islands, he remembers that his grandmother would give him a tall glass of sugar water every evening and send him off to bed. to him, sugar water is associated with comfort; it rejuvenates him and relaxes him at the same time. as my brother and i listened on with curiosity and confusion my mother decided to chime in and explain. she told us that when she was growing up in cape verde her grandmother would cut a piece of cloth from a dish towel, spoon two loads of sugar in the center of it, gather the edges of the cloth square, twist them around and tie it with a string, she'd then lightly dip the sugar lump end into a glass of warm water and give the crack-bag to my mother so she could chew and suck on it - like a homemade lollipop. my mother said that every time she was with her grandmother (or rather, any cape verdean child of the time was with a grandmother) she would follow her around all day, tugging at her apron and whispering to her to "let her have some of that stuff." my brother and i immediately looked at each other and i knew that what he was thinking was exactly what i was thinking: our mother has crackhead tendencies. my mother must have done that whole mother's intuition, i-know-what-you're-thinking-because-i-gave-birth-to-you thing because she quickly tried to save herself. she explained that in cape verde families were very large, you'd have lots of children in order to have more hands caring for your crops, but sometimes the harvest would be so bad that you couldn't feed all of the children so what they did was spoon them sugar and warm water through the day and before bed in an attempt to fill their stomachs with something sustainable. now, it all made more sense to me after that touching ending, but i still couldn't shake the image of a baby version of my mother, snotty nosed and ashy, hanging on the coattails of some big black woman, begging for kil cuza, "that stuff."

it's all so clear to me now. i've always wondered how my generation could come to be so heavily dependent on such miscellaneous things as websites, but now i know why i log into facebook pretty much everyday and why almost every post on this blog was conceived on my "newsfeed" homepage: i am a crack baby. we're all crack babies. associatively speaking, that is. if i come from a long line of sugar pouch suckling fiends then it's no wonder i can't resist an addiction to a measly website. easily falling victim to a little temptation and temporary pleasure is in my blood. the next time my mother complains about me always having my nose in my laptop i'm just going to shout over my shoulder "well, i got it from my mama!" then i'll probably scratch at my arm and update my status.

poetics 001 - coincidence

if there's two sides to everything
then are my thoughts double-edged
like a coin or
the old world?
do you ever cross my seas
on a summer's breeze
in a saint maria
with your santería
and read my mind
like a flat-out book?
or is that too cliché for the likes
of our thinking?
am i ahead on your tales
or are you on mine?
either way,
i'm not foolish enough to
believe in soul mates .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

cooler than jail cell steel

last night a friend of mine spent a decent amount of time trying to convince me to create a twitter account. i fought the idea off as much as i could, telling him that twitter is a stupid idea, just another annoying device created so that people could share way too much information about everything that i didn't really care about, namely their every waking move. he fought back adamantly, saying that twitter is the main source of information these days and that anything that happens, major or minor, twitter is the first place you'll hear about it (and you'll know much faster than your local news station could tell you). he was 100% right - and that's the sad part. it's actually ridiculous how much information, correction - personal information, you can find on the internet, mainly on twitter and facebook.

how ridiculous can it get? i thought high-school drama and unforgivable grammatical mistakes coming up on every status in my "news feed" was mind-numbingly irritating enough. but today, everyone, the ridiculousness reached its brink: a friend of mine (or rather, one of those acquaintances that i'm friends with on facebook) was updating his status and posting new pictures... from a jail cell.
i know you're baffled, there are several questions popping into your head, and you probably don't believe me, but it's true. at one point while he was sitting in this jail cell, still fully armed with some sort of mobile device for some odd reason, he says, "there is nothing cool about sitting in a jail cell! nothing. but since i'm board (his mistake, not mine) and tryna pass the time..." and proceeds to upload three photographs of the tin toilet and his view of some beautiful rays of sunshine from behind those metal bars.

way to be a hypocrite, kid. tell everyone it's not cool to be in jail, but upload some photographs for the simple sake of getting some sort of rise out of the facebook world like comments telling you to "stand strong" and "be tough" and asking what you did to end up in there, all while you make some ambiguous replies talking about how you're "just a black man trying to get by but the law won't let you live." it's all just a pathetic attempt to get some much desired "street cred" - just something to increase his "cool." ugh, spare me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

just saying's 001

any woman can make a man feel good - it's the one who makes him feel bad at the right moments who will change his life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

the nba, live !

and so the nba finals hooplah begins. it was tragic (tragic!) that i had to stay away from my facebook homepage for a grueling three hours but i simply couldn't take the constant "let's go celtics!" or "let's get it la!" statuses which were always followed by a series of obscene comments from the opposite team's supporters telling so-and-so to suck this and go fuck that, shove that there and kiss this over here. it was daunting. rivalries are supposed to promote healthy competition, so why can't we all just play nice and stop bringing mothers into the debate (if mama lebron wants to get her groove back it's none of your business!) and stop resorting to blaming unattractiveness for poor athletic performance (but do feel free to say pierce missed some open threes because he still has morning crust in his eyes... i mean, the dude always looks like a homeless man that doesn't get a chance to wash his face when he wakes up). but i'm not here to comment on the athletics, not on the scores, the stats, the skills, none of that.

my favorite part about watching basketball games would have to be the theatrics that takes place on the court. it is usually assumed that athletes make for terrible actors (see any charles barkley or dwight howard commercial for further explanation) but the intensity of the facial expressions, the raw emotion and the gracefulness of the "flops" i see while watching these games makes me think differently. some of these men are naturals. the best thing about the celtics? easy - ray allen's stank-faced gum chewing. i can almost taste the gum losing its flavor as it transforms into a nasty ass sand-like texture from my couch at home. what makes my spine tingle during these nerve-wrecking showdowns? that hideous close-up of pau gasol that they always insist on getting when he's anticipating his oncoming opposers at the other end of the court. the way his lip droops and the way that wet mop just sags down onto his forehead, man, i feel that ugly creeping from the depths of his bones into mine. i'm telling you, the acting is amazing. those "flops," comedy. paul pierce is on his back more than a video ho trying to get a modeling contract (oooh, too much? too much.) and watching nate robinson scurry across the court, chanting and fist pumping makes me giggle. it's like watching that irritating five-foot-five hypeman flail around on stage at a rap concert. you know, the one that gets bold from time to time and steps to the front of the stage, a little too close to the spotlight but no one stops him because, let's face it, he's a part of the crew too, the poor guy's got to get some kind of shine, right? and with perkins and artest in the building that action-packed fight scene is bound to break out at any given moment. to hell with those championship rings, let's get these fellas some oscars or some emmys or something... i'm just saying.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

b.o.b - biter on blast

give him 15 minutes and a bag of bud and i bet he busts. now, i'm sure that does not sound appealing to you ladies out there but to me it sounds a little bit like love - or at least a really strong like. as is my nature, i've found yet another slightly eccentric, lean, mean, rhyming machine (heavy emphasis on the lean) to crush on after feeling his flow. this is starting to sound more sexual than i'd hoped sooo i'm just going to cut to the chase: b.o.b, bobby ray - the boy's got some talent and dare i say he's showing some serious promise. you've probably heard "beautiful girls" and "airplanes" rotating regularly on your local annoying ass radio station but the proof isn't in that chocolate part of the pudding ('cause the chocolate half of those little pudding packages is gross and unnecessary), it's in that vanilla deliciousness that is the rest of his latest album, "the adventures of bobby ray."

last week, my brother and i were sitting around one afternoon enjoying our breakfast (yes, it makes sense when you're unemployed and sleep until 2pm) when he asked me if i'd heard of "that dude b.o.b" and insisted that i listened to the entire album right then. with nothing to do and nowhere to go, i figured i'd give it a chance. my brother prefaced the listening party with the opinions he'd shaped from previous private listenings: basically, he said "the dude's a straight up flow biter. he thinks he's andre 3000 - he named himself after an outkast song, he's from georgia, he wears those strange straw hat things and he grew his goatee out a little longer than normal. he even sounds like andre. i thought i was listening to rough cuts of the new outkast cd when i heard this album." ouch. but it was kind of true - i heard the andre 3000 in b.o.b's flow, i heard the outkast-esque big band in the background of some of the tracks, hell, i even thought he was ludacris on one song. but my brother continued with a rather contradicitng conclusion: "but he's actually nice. definitely not on outkast's level, but i mean, he writes his own music, produces a lot of it, he plays several musical instruments and if he chooses to take a bite out of 3000's style then he's definitely thinking right. i like his music."

our impromptu intense musical critique/jam session made something very clear to me about artists and originality: being a "biter" isn't all that bad if you do it the right way. yeah, b.o.b clearly seems to be taking some serious notes on certain rappers' styles, and yes, it's obvious enough to be recognized sometimes, but the kid still has a little something about him that's all his own. and let's be real, he seems to know a lot more about music as an artform and as a practice, which is much more than could be said about a lot of rappers these days who treat music like a market. this shirt my cousin wore the other day said it all so simply: "bad artists copy, good artists steal." bobby ray, you do your thing, baby - i ain't even mad.

give him his 15 minutes - i bet he'll bust.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

ammo - an introduction

the one new year's resolution that i made this year was that i was going to "write everything i feel needs to be written." well, as is the tradition with resolutions, it was broken - i haven't written a damn thing besides half-assed college papers since late january. the summertime laziness has been creeping up my spine since, oh, let's say, early march? that means that my mind's focus has been more so on the ridiculous things i see and hear randomly every day than on more important things like finding some steady employment or, i don't know... love? or whatever else a twenty year old young woman is expected to be looking for. i have been spending my days watching horrendous low-budget movies and terrible day-time tv, listening to all sorts of new music - entire albums at a time - the second they're leaked and sitting in disgustingly humid rooms with my older siblings or my besties discussing the stupidity of "hoodrats these days." in conversations i've had in the past few weeks, several people have mentioned that since i have some time on my hands i should use the opportunity and get back to writing, and damn it, that's exactly what i'm going to do. i had "the itis" on my back for a long while now but it's getting the boot - one monkey don't stop the show!

and with that said - cue the curtains...