Monday, April 5, 2010

Why I Love Erykah Badu and Her New Video

When I first watched the video I didn’t love or hate it. I accidentally happened upon it and what stayed with me wasn’t Badu’s nudity but her words at the end which I haven’t been able to find but I think are “we are quick to assassinate what we don’t understand—the individual”. I have been thinking about this for days. In then this debate has happened. It’s interesting that people seem to be debating the idea of nudity or whether it was a publicity stunt but never seem to try to understand the message of the image and song. This debate pushed me to look closer at the rest of the video including the lyrics of the song were saying in total. Here is what I think:

Both the song and the video are about the relationship between freedom and the choices we make as members of a society or community. By making that choice we give up a certain amount of freedom. In the song she is talking about being free from her life and her role as a mother for a period of time “concentrating on my music, lover, and my babies/makes me wanna ask the lady for a ticket outta town…” I know that I have felt this same desire…to abandon my responsibilities, my new self, just to be alone. Not because I don’t care but just need to be alone and in solitary thought. I think this is why she repeats “so can I get a window seat don’t want nobody next to me.” She wants, I want to think about my life today and capture something that I lost from the past but without being too involved in today—just for a moment. I think that is why this song uses the same or very similar music from her earlier work.

The act of stripping in the short isn’t about sex or even selling records as some have suggested. I don’t think the music industry’s obsession with sex is central to the meaning of this act at all. Stripping in the middle of strangers is about letting go of fear and being ok with who you are completely. It is also about stripping one’s self of responsibilities and obligations to others. She is stepping outside of other’s expectations, needs demands, societal standards. She isn’t focused on that; she if focused on being free of this feeling of repression that she has agreed to accept and that society has forced upon her. In the end, she is punished for this act in the same way she would be punished or looked down on if she abandoned her family even if for a little while. Remember one of the refrains “I just want a chance to fly/ a chance to cry/ and a long bye bye..” She wants a chance to mourn what she lost, love who she has become and figure out what that all means without being compounded with the needs and desires of her family, career and community. Many of us have experienced this and maybe this is even harder for the artist. We are used to having that time alone and ability to be free. But age and children and our own need to belong to community, a neighborhood, and a family can cage us in.

I didn’t get this interpretation at first. Like I stated earlier I just kept thinking about her statement at the end and the idea of evolving. I didn’t even know what she was really singing about at first; it begin to click after watching the Matt and Kim video. When Kim finally stripped down I found myself weeping. And I wondered why. And I think it is this--as a woman living in this “free” society I don’t feel like we are allowed to fully own our bodies especially in public places like Times Square, Dallas, on tv… And as mothers this is even truer still; we can become simply caregivers. We can cease to exist for our own needs, desires and exist solely for the benefit of others. Figuring out how to be an individual and committed to family and define that in a way that celebrates our uniqueness and womanity--is challenging. We are confined by society to certain rules.

I totally connected to the feelings all three artists—Badu, Matt and Kim seem to be expressing—the desire to be free of repression whether it is self-imposed, those society has imposed, and those we have agreed to accept. A momentary freedom would be great—“Thinking about tomorrow won’t change how I feel today” (Matt and Kim)… I wanted “a window seat outta town” this year too. I almost had a complete break and was about to quit my job and all. I was tired of being needed; yet wanted to be needed. We limit ourselves and others; the trappings of family, responsibility and obligation stop you from being completely free. Yet you want it but don’t go after it because you love and need your family, responsibility etc. But having a break, being an observer for a moment, would be great. I was also struck by the fact that Badu is a black woman stripping down in a society where we haven’t been allowed to be vulnerable. The weight of it is there. I don’t know; I’m still thinking about all of this and thus she succeeds…for me because I’m still thinking about it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dealing With Change

This is the thing. Everyday is so different. Today I went from feeling calm and ready for the day, ready to tackle the literal and figurative baggage that is literally and figuratively weighing me down, to anger as I headed out the door. I want to be in control while simultaneously I want someone else to bail me out. I realize that my own self-esteem and confidence are mine to contend with to build up or break down. No one else is going to repair this for me. But it would be great to feel great. I am a mess right now and it is obvious, at least to those who know me, those who don't, must just think me a mess. URG! I tried screaming in my car today--it didn't help. I need to vent so here is my hate list:

I hate that I cannot open the driver's side door of my car because the handle is broken. I was reminded of this as I joyfully went to open this door this morning and was angry. My outlook has changed but my car--the reality hasn't. My outlook became bad.

I hate the car. I didn't choose it and I think it is a piece of junk and when I have to deal with its inevitable problems I hate it more. Some days I imagine beating it ala Office Space; other days I imagine careening it, me in it into a tree, for a break not death but an extended break.

I hate that none of the music in the car is mine and that I can't find cds I like. (The car is old). I hate that to listen to NPR I have to start the car---after climbing in from the passenger side--and then get back out, carefully leaving the door ajar to put up the antenna (I said it was old!).

I hate my classroom because it is too small and I can't ever to seem to find materials nor effectively deal with them. If a kid places a text book on my shelf of papers, the paper have disappeared, until the end of the day when I now have 50 more copies of something that I don't want. I hate paper and that I don't have access to the computer lab and that my students have limited access to computers. I miss using computers and electronically posting most things.

I hate spending all of my time thinking about school but can't seem to stop.

I hate that I don't feel effective.

I hate sitting in pd that I could and probably should be delivering if I wasn't in the middle of a colossal break down.

I hate that I am perpetually behind in grading and planning...

I hate that I have rarely worked in a team environment and that I am expected to figure it out all by myself again and again and again and again with no real feedback, support, assistance etc.

I hate feeling out of control.

I hate my small house that is chaotic because I am all over the place.

That's all for now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who's Gonna Save My Soul Now

It's funny. Just last week, I was in the grip of a deep depression. I had spent many day fantasizing about crashing my car into a tree so that I could be hurt just enough to take a vacation in the hospital. Crazy, maybe. But I had lost my way. Eight years, of seventy-hour work days, where my to-do-list is endless, were taking their toll. The dark circles beneath my eyes growing deeper; my creativity depleted. I felt like I was losing control, Gnarles Barkely's song stays in my mind "Who's Gonna Save My Soul Now". I realize the answer is me. Even though I am outta control--the answer still is me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The RZA on NPR

Seven minutes of an interview with the RZA is not sufficient. This dude is fascinating. The interviewer asked great questions but had no time for follow-up. They went from question to question. I really would like to know what principles he has included in the book. Where he is musically now? What does he think about the current lyrical state of popular hip hop? Does he think about this? How has composing for film changed his approach to making music?

I would have loved for them to sit with the lyrics to “Triumph”:

I bomb atomically,
Socrates' philosophiesand hypothesis can't define how I be droppin thesemockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery

The Wu definitely has some ill lyricists. This is just an ill way to say you destroy someone with the mic.

I miss these types of lyrics.

Here’s the interview:

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Dear Rite Aid,

Why do you insist on being so wasteful? I sent my sister-in-law to your wonderful store to pickup my birth control pills and as usual instead of just placing the desired medication you add not 1, not 2, but 3, yes 3, reusuable dispensers. My sister-in-law not being in the birth control pill user category did not know to decline the dispensers.

Why? Why in the age of reusuable bags and impending environmental doom do you decide to continually give out new dispensers with every refill? Seriously the first one is all that I will likely ever need. No one should require a new dispenser with every refill let alone 3 at one pickup. I can't imagine that I am the only customer who receives countless plastic dispensers with every refill. Why? Why? Besides being wasteful it has to be awfully financially imprudent. Haven't you heard the news? We are in the middle of a recession. Please save some cash, the environment, and my voice that is used to warn everyone I ever send to pick up a prescription. Just stop giving me the dispenser. I'll let you know if I need a new one. Really I will.

Does this bother anyone else?

Never-narrow minded,


Monday, February 16, 2009


So I was really excited to see Coraline. I was impressed by the artistic endeavor, the desire to create a 3-d stop motion animated picture in the age of CGI. I thought it would be great and my husband and I loaded up the family. Then the disappointments began. First, the movie house where we chose to view it at was not showing it in 3-d. This bothered me because I wanted to see the film the way it was intended to be shown and the ticket seller did not make this clear until after the fact...after I had purchased the tickets, when I asked about 3-d glasses.

And then we were not able to sit together as a family in the tiny--I mean seriously small--theatre it was showing in. I push all of this aside; the movie begins and it's delightful. I can even imagine and see the scenes that would be 3-d. It is genuinely beautiful.

But then they introduce Wybie...And I wonder why would this film have this sort of subtext of an unwanted child; he was named Wybie which the character aptly explains is short for "why born?" Adding to that was the fact that he was the one of the few characters of color in the film. An unexpected delight that was quickly robbed by his name and the explanation of it that follows. And unfortunately my disappointment with the development of Wybie did not end with his name and continued as he plays the "Other Wybie" you know the one who is not allowed to talk but instead smiles and is just present for the entertainment of Coraline. (But the cat talks...)

And then there were the 2 female actors, Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible, who lived in the bottom apartment underneath Coraline's family. The subtext being that they were former burlesque dancers which becomes all too real later in the film. The two busty older women perform a burlesque act for 9 year old or 10 year old Coraline and voiceless Wybie. The 60 year old women
gyrate practically nude, pasties and all, only to shed their older selves for younger versions in the finale of this performance... Uncomfortable laughter could be heard in the theatre.

There are elements of this film that were great. But for real--gyrating grandmoms, a voiceless black character named Wybie...What were they thinking? They ruined what could have been a great film for kids.

Is it just me?

Never narrow-minded,


Monday, December 29, 2008

Violence in the Modern Era

Are we really moving forward as people? This question came to my mind as I listened to NPR this morning and heard a French commentator stating that people in Europe viewed themselves as more modern, less violent and more solutions oriented than the US population that elected G. Bush twice. The commentator goes on to say that views of the US have changed since the election...But what caught my attention was the statement that equated modernity with being less violent. Usually modernity is equated with inventions, gadgets, or new customs. Usually those inventions are connected or become connected to violence--bigger bombs, automatic weapons systems. But equating modernity with something older, something I imagine mankind has wanted all along--peace, is truely interesting. But are we living in that sort of modern era?

The existence of a number of devastating conflicts occurring around the world--Israel’s recent attack of Palestine, Pakistan's set up of troops along the Pakistani-Indian border, the ongoing crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Zimbabwe...answers this question.

Is less violence really the same as more modern i.e. more advanced? This sounds logical and compelling. How do we create this more modern world? We definitely aren't already living in it.

never narrow minded,