Wednesday, December 31, 2008

News Year's Resolution 2009

May this year bring you more carnival, more spirit, more love and more light. May this light lead you into winding tunnels, widening roads, and may these roads be filled with lovers, adventurers, drifters and revellers, prophets and griots, calypsonians, rockers and dancers. And may you move your spirits until your bodies don't matter until your muses unfetter your imaginations and make you declare 'revolution.'

It is with much love, much passion, and much respect, that I wish you the 2009 of your dreams!



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Moving Pictures - A Bronx Hip-Hop Bio-Collage-Take 1!

Moving Pictures

Catholic High School
a backdrop
my brother wears a flat top
with an arrow crowning his head.
My best friend’s brother shot in the face,
A girl goes crazy in McDonald’s
And breaks a mirror,
Fast food circus floor
Covered with shards of glass,
girl fights in front of Zaro's Bakery
females whooping ass.

Community College applications,
Voguing at Emerald City
and the Palladium, dancing
Joints thrust between my lips,
Head rushes from Indian cigarettes,
Grown men feeling my tits.
Locking lips with Chinamen,
locking lips with brothamen
fading bruise around both eyes
virginity was a holy gift to me,
protecting, controlling light
blinding my guilt
and my eyesight.

City Island Blues
in a horny young man’s Hyundai Excel,
my mind too busy to mend
never denying my thirst as I ran from
the perils of pleasure
with broken running shoes
filled up rum bottles with water
after I drank the booze.

My mother slipped my feet in heels
for a Coming of Age Debutantes Ball.
That was my first fall,
winners were ones who knew how to raise money
and had no new ideas or poise at all.

Too lazy to run
sneakers and heels tied anyway,
tried anyway
to go away
to college
which I did,
17 just a kid,
still just a kid.
Bone straight hair touching the back
of my upright broken chair,
my cubic circonian engagement ring
thrown at a moving car
on the Bruckner Express.
Outside my mouth pretty
inside my words a mess.
Martinez and her generous mother,
her dead, very young brother
lived with her Puerto Rican Grandmother
who loved me but saw me as a nigger
separate from her,

In the early 90’s there was a jungle in my head
The jungle is my bed.
Years before I would smoke a Jay,
I would fantasize about going back to Cali
With L.L. Cool ‘J.’
His full lips
a chain around my neck.
He need love, I need love
he would whisper to me in his
pre-concert microphone check.
L.L. Cool ‘J’
Teen magazine page away,
body on my dirty, paint peeling wall
worshipping fantasy because
reality was weak to me,
imagination always wins overall, y’all-

by Tiffany M.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Attention All Artists: Welcome the Strange in All You Do

Madame Bassa says:

Welcome the Strange in all that you do. Greet it with an ‘it’s been so long,’ sit it down in a chair and bring it a cup of tea and the newspaper. Watch as the Strange changes the tea into a wine called Ambrosia and tosses the newspaper into the fire. Relax into spaces of abnormality; they are cavernous, shallow, and as infinite as the abyss. These spaces will reveal all that is not normal in you and this may at first feel unpleasant and frightening, as if you are losing your grip. Insanity is nothing more than avant-garde cinema, made for under $100 bucks, Insanity is inspired poetry written by the under-educated and overworked. Insanity has become a slur and its newest meaning to our culture dishonors our ancestors who did not write stories but left them hanging in the universal consciousness we create out of, called, ‘The Oral Tradition,’ or more aptly, ‘the wind.’ Let me tell you what The Strange reveals to me everyday: ‘Normal’ is a philosophy stricken upon the masses by uninspired leaders. Strange is our birthright, our ancestry and our heritage. Strange is in the rattle of our DNA. In your arms, the strange is a bronze puppy with not paws but small, tightened fists. In each fist is a wisp of cigarette smoke in the shape of your past. Strangers, you
cannot see the rest of my body, but this body still exists and what is not visible to you is that my gown shelters a corridor of children stuck in ornaments. When I laugh, these children glow.

Shut up those who say shut up your nonsense instead burn some incense and bring yourself first to an incoherent babble, which evolves to you speaking in tongues. Call on your ancestors of the enigmatic and angelic, complicated angels dressed in demon chic. Why such savage style because they have become unraveled and uncivilized and all this is blessed from my point of view from the strange point of view as right and just. Become again a human mixed with animal, mixed with holy, mixed with crushed leaves, shards of glass, beds of nails. Enjoy the lovers you pick up on bar stools in other worlds, smoking cosmic reefer, drinking pigeon wine. What does pigeon wine taste like? It tastes like cities and bread crumbs handled by older women and men. It tastes like the filthy hands of neglected toddlers perched high on windowsills in underworlds.

Come, now, normal children, draw yourselves up in a strange way, erase your eyes and your ears and see with your toes, hear with your hips. Say hello, then goodbye to the narrow road of the mind and the human history of the imagination. What defamation, strangers, what defamation. All along schools should have been having you compose odes to the strange with the drawn blood from goats and chickens in order to use that sacrificial ink on paper.

The next time we meet may your art and your life be a little stranger, a little wilder, and may this strangeness bring you more love of your strangest self, insight, enjoyment bacchanal and peace. Until then, mi Bassa Bassa! What about you?

Madame Bassa
(from 'The Silhouette Stars on Sad Street')

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gangsta Lean - Tip that 40 or that Unsweetened Iced Tea to Someone's Memory

I keep hearing the song 'Gangsta Lean' by DRS in my head. It reminds me of heat, innocence, violence and hustlers at my school in Louisiana in the early 90's. It reminds me of this year of great loss, and trying to fill an unimaginable void. It reminds me of the stigmatized borough (the Bronx) I grew up in and people who are incarcerated, ill, or have passed away. As a nurse, My Mother used to tend to many of these people, most of them young and poor. She made them laugh through their suffering and subsequent deaths. She heard the stories of their lives and witnessed their premature deaths and this broke her heart. She worried about her own children getting 'caught up.' Growing up in the Bronx in the 1980's and seeing so many young people die, one of my Mother's major fears for my brother and I was that we would become drug addicts or get infected with AIDS. At the end of her life, she had many nightmares of this. Particularly of us becoming drug addicts. I hope that she gained some peace about this before she left this world and came to realize that the only thing my brother and I were addicted to was her love.

Hug your homey even if they're caught up in something you do not have any control over. Cuz your homey is human, too.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

"There is no MUST in art because art is free." Wassily Kandinsky

There is no must in Art. Creativity is a fluid, unstructured thing. And listen, when I tell you that it ALL has value. From art that society approves of and considers intelligent and legitimate, to pop art that this same society considers shallow yet entertaining, to art created by those ‘untalented, clueless and trite’ little heathens known as children. Having the ability and wherewithal to express ourselves in the creative manner we see fit should be at the foundation and creed of any society looking to transform, develop, expand and advance.

It is Capitalism that insists we impress upon the one, unfettered avenue of our lives, structure, form, and perspective. Capitalism insists that we must sit collecting dust and debt for the privilege of attending an expensive school, which may teach us to draw, write and even act in acceptable ways. It is important to accept that there is room and need for it all. Our minds are much deeper and better than what we have allowed them to become. What is it that we fear exists in the 90-95% of our brain function we either ignore or do not use? What new forms, what answers, what mirrors, what great wealth and abundance of visions, images, ideas, lay in wait for us to tap into their richness? At times, this place in our minds reveals itself to us when we sleep and dream. Some allow these revelations to inspire their lives and expression. Yet, most of us forget the wildness of our dreams, their colors, or lack thereof, their defamation of time and boundaries, their distaste for rules and mores. We continue to exist, instead, tethered to our fear- driven visions of art and reality, in which we rely only on the external standards imposed on us from when we were children.

I would like to address and discount common multi-cultural perceptions of brilliance. White European brilliance did not begin and end with Shakespeare, Einstein or Picasso. The brilliance of Black Americans did not begin and end with Toni Morrison or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Barack Obama. The brilliance of Latin Americans did not begin and end with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frida Kahlo, Raul Julia or Junot Diaz. The brilliance of Anglophone Caribbean artists did not begin and end with Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Wilson Harris and Earl Lovelace. And on and on. All of these artists were lucky to have someone in the mainstream recognize their brilliance and publish them or give them visibility as an artist. Some of these artists created work and spoke out against injustice which has altered the course of the world. We do not have to appreciate their work or think even it’s good at all. Those opinions are entirely up to you to form. What their mainstream success means is that these artists found or demanded an audience for their voices. Perhaps, they happened to have attended the right schools or happened to have met the right people. I am not suggesting that each of them did not work hard at what they’ve created. What I am suggesting is that their inherent brilliance is separate from the opportunities they’ve had and the accolades they’ve gained – as it is with the rest of us. Their minds were always brilliant but they channeled this brilliance, got their work into the hands of the right people and the rest is in history books. They are no different from you and I.

How many people channel their brilliance in their lifetime? How many people do channel their brilliance but because of a lack of resources or poor education do not find the opportunities to shine in a global way? Brilliance is not academic, though it can be. Brilliance is an illiterate man who can heal you by moving stagnant energy throughout your body. Brilliance is a highly educated woman who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in chemical engineering from a top tier Ivy League School who writes an avant-garde masterpiece in honor of ancestors she’s heard of but never knew. People have been telling stories, and scratching forms onto walls since man’s perception of the beginning of time. YOU are the standard. YOU are the form. You are such a fabulous human being that you should be arrogant about your right to exist. Develop a sense of entitlement. This especially goes for black and brown people and poor people of all colors. We all have the right to create what we wish in the ways that we choose. We have the right to devote our entire lives to this effort and we have the right to choose our own instruments of expression. You may never have your work hung in a reputable gallery or get your poorly punctuated, yet visionary masterpiece published by a top level publishing house or at all. You might not make any money or you will– but this is not the point. The world will not move in the ways we want it to if more of us do not engage in unfettered self-expression, and if more of us do not express our visions and ideas with integrity. Our basic explorations of human, superhuman and sub-human natures will stay limited. As will our explorations of the universe – space shuttles and satellites, be damned. We will allow the flow of our visions and impressions only to the extent that they are approved of by people whose validation we seek. We must stop taking classes and going to schools and take risks instead. We must keep taking classes and going to schools and take risks. We must challenge our professors. We must challenge anyone who says with our art we ‘must’ and do, instead, what we ‘must not’ but have to. Create something because you do not have any children. Create something because you do. Create, Slavehead, because you are and always were blissfully, deliciously free. Begin now while you have time off from that job you despise. Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


In the City of Profound Sadness just around the corner from Madame Melancholy's Make You Happy Minstrels and Mistresses, past the Church of Bootleg Liquour, The Church of Saturday Night on Sunday, down the street from the storefront Church of Stained Glass Grafitti and just past the Church of Light, Shadow, Silhouette and Sirens, up the hill called Harold's Hedonisim, and, of course, down the sickled Street of The Downward Spiral, you find in the broken funky artery of the city, Sad Street. Home to Humans Beings with Hearts in the shape of starfish. People and Presences of carnage, then carnival who fortify their diets with the meat from not chitterlings but starfisherlings. When parts of their hearts break, another artery forms then grows back, albeit deformed, but functional, sort of. People and Presences, though in presentation unusual, not at all so different from you and me.

Over time you will meet Madame Bassa, The Victims of Yellow Lights, Charlie Christ, The Remains of the Overhill Opera, The People from Over the Underworld, and many others.

"The Silhouette Stars on Sad Street" is coming soon to the Theater in you.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Are you and your lover suffering from WR-LSD?
No Worries, No Worries, I have researched and dicovered the cure for this malady:

You must first bless yourselves with prayers to God, offerings to your ancestors, your dear Papa Legba, then Oshun. Begin mind dances with your lover once every hour, as necessary. These 'imagined' dances will turn into a dance of your two spirits. You will find your body moving in mysterious ways. First your shoulders and torso, then your hips. Let your hips move, involuntarily. Let them spell out stanzas of love to your lover. The language of your hips will be hard to decipher because it is encoded in hieoroglyphs. Keep the body dancing. Finish off with a shot of rum mixed with a teaspoon of creamed coconut, a pinch of sugar and/ or a bottle of Guiness. Worship, drink, dance, then kiss. For THAT is carnival. BASSA BASSA