Thursday, November 29, 2007

Salmon in the City

16 x 20, acrylic and glitter, Freedom Parkway skyline view of Atlanta. One of the very first salmon paintings, remains a favorite. Now a gift for Hank who loves it the most.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why Our Dad is the Greatest

Priceless moments from this year's Thanksgiving, featuring our father.
1) Pretending to play guitar while we played Guitar Hero III. Not just air guitar, he insisted on having a prop. P.S. Emil never changed out of his pajamas that day.

2) Playing dress-up in a jacket that he bought in London more than 30 years ago (he's so skinny!), a Panama Jack hat given to him by a patient and a dishdasha of course. All items "found" in the storage room which he would emerge from after donning each new piece proudly and demand "What do you think? Don't I look great?"

3) Singing "That's Amore" on the karaoke video game (as a shirtless/shoeless black man no less) and dancing all the while. This was repeated the following day as duets with my mother to "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", "I've had the Time of My Life", and an encore performance his Dean Martin greatest hit.

Lots of love to Dad!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Riot, Now Quiet

Kevin DuBrow, lead singer for Quiet Riot, is gone. 52 years old and gone and we don't know why. So sad! Metal Health was one of my first favorite records as a kid and helped introduce me to the harder edge of rock while making macaroni and cheese in my friend's kitchen after school.

Tonight, bang your heads a little bit harder, rock out a little bit louder and know that heaven just got a little bit crazier.

Cold November Rain

Lovely it is to wake in the arms of my lover. Outside the cold November rain rolls; inside we are warm in matching white tank tops under the weight of the down quilt. I can smell coriander, apricots and lavender on our skin.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meat Markets, coming home

Check out the name of the new butcher in Chicago. Beautiful!

Speaking of meat markets, how bout the Kroger in the Edgewood shopping plaza on Moreland? I had no idea that this was the new spot to cruise.

When two different guys checked me out in the time from the car to the store I thought it was a bit peculiar. When it continued inside, dude after dude walking by, looking me up and down and smiling a little too friendly, and culminating in a guy asking me out after a brief conversation in front of the dried fruit I knew I wasn’t just grocery shopping- that there was all sorts of other kinds of shopping going on- know what am sayin ladies?!? Not that I blame the guys- I was looking unusually irresistible in my hair-is-too-dirty-to-go-out-but-I-don’t feel-like-showering hat and last night’s makeup. I think the Kroger is the new heterosexual equivalent of the Midtown Home Depot for gay men.

This has been a lovely first day back in town after being gone for the last couple weeks. I slept in till noon after having a wonderful dream where I was dating David Sedaris (then while dreaming remembered he was gay, but it was all good cuz I still got to hang out with Amy and saw her craft-filled apartment). I made a Moroccan lamb and apricot tagine and tomato, lentil and orange soup. I took a bath with lavender salts and burned rose candles. And now the Simpsons are on and the Secret Agent is on his way over for what I hope will be a delicious meal. It’s good to be home in Atlanta.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average..."

I wanted to write so much more about my terrific weekend in Minneapolis with the lovely Michelle and Michael. I’ve been running nonstop since I got back and am about to leave town again- this time for Ireland. Minneapolis, the weekend of November 9-11, 2007 was:

LOTS of art. Georgia O’ Keefe abstract exhibit. Frida Kahlo exhibit celebrating the 100-year anniversary of her birth. A walk in a beautiful sculpture garden with a giant cherry held by a spoon. A live recording of A Prairie Home Companion with the geeky and adorable Garrison Keillor in a red tie, red socks and red running shoes. The Mall of America with an amusement park inside. Sushi. Greek Food. Fresh Bagels for breakfast. Rock n roll competitions. Nikki Sixx’s Heroin Diaries. Great, great friends.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Get on the Carnival!

The Georgia Blog Carnival comes out every two weeks and features highlights from Georgia blogging. Two of the top issues are Genarlow Wilson and the Brian Nichols trial, both very relevant to my work. My piece on Dr. Lowery is featured in the Brian Nichols section.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Falafel, Zeytoons, Baba Ghannoush, oh my!

From today's Democracy Now!, the FBI was monitoring sales at Arab grocery stores as part of its assault on terrorism:

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian secret agents. The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian agents in the region. The program was the brainchild of top FBI counterterrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie Hulon. The datamining operation was eventually stopped after FBI officials determined it was possibly illegal to place someone on a terrorist list because of what they ate.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Grateful for Dr. Joseph Lowery

Dr. Joseph Lowery is truly an amazing man. His leadership in the human and civil rights movement in the South began in the early 1950s in Mobile, Alabama when he helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott after Rosa Parks' arrest. He was great close friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and together they founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. At a quite respectable 86, he still spends his days struggling for justice and today's unpopular issues.

I just returned from a press conference that we put on with Dr. Lowery and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda about the indigent defense crisis and death penalty in Georgia. Dr. Lowery was joined by civil and human rights leaders in calling for the Fulton District Attorney to accept a plea to Life without the Possibility of Parole in the Brian Nichols case.

No one else has had the courage to step up and say these things until now in this notorious Atlanta case of the man who is to be tried for escaping from police custody and killing four people, including a judge on March 11, 2005. This case has become a nightmare in Georgia, with legislators threatening to defund the whole indigent defense system because they think Nichols’ defense is costing too much.

Dr. Lowery was fantastic. I shouldn’t expect any less; he could read my grocery list out loud and make it sound like justice. He spoke about how the civil rights movement has been consistent for decades in its response to the horrible murders that have traumatized their communities including include the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the murder of Dr. King’s mother, the serial killings of the Atlanta Children, and the Olympic Bombing. He declared that a sentence of Life without the Possibility of Parole was acceptable for Dr. King’s killer, Wayne Williams and Eric Rudolph and it is also appropriate for Brian Nichols.

While he did not call Paul Howard out by name, he did say it was time for the prosecution to end the “tenure, turmoil and trauma” and accept defense’s offer of a plea to Life without the Possibility of Parole.

It was clear from the beginning that this would not be one of the most popular or supported press conferences held by Dr. Lowery. Despite the fact that the meeting room held about 60 people and was standing room only, when we started assembling for the press conference Dr. Lowery had to practically drag people up there to stand with him while he made his statement. He kept asking the people gathered “Y’all are gonna let me take this heat alone?”

People in the audience were palpably hesitant to move to the front. There were a handful of solid, brave folks who joined him from the start including Rainbow/PUSH, SCLC, NAACP State Conference and a couple legislators. I also stood with them. By then end of the conference we had at least 15 more people (which is about all that could fit in the small space we were in) and heads were nodding throughout the audience. A small miracle, but in this hostile, hopeless climate, a miracle nonetheless.

A funny thing that happened was as I was walking to join the group Dr. Lowery made a joke about how it was no longer a panel of esteemed black men but that they were adding “a woman of color, a Latina woman…” then trailed off stumbling a bit because he was unable to identify my ethnicity. He looked at me and said, “What is your ethnic background dear?” to which I replied, “I’m an Arab, sir.” He then exclaimed “Well we have esteemed black men and the PLO up here today!” And I knew he meant it in the most positive and Palestine solidarity way – that was a first!

At the end of the event as I was saying my thank you’s to the panel and I came to Dr. Lowery. He leaned in close to me and asked

“Are you Palestinian, dear?”
“No sir, my father is Iraqi.”

He shook his head and took my hands in his hands and said

“I am so, so sorry for what we have done to your loved ones and your beautiful country. My heart is broken for the Iraqi people.”
“Thank you so much, sir. My heart is broken too.”
“I am so, so sorry for what we have done. My heart is broken.”
"Thank you."

I’m so grateful for this amazing man.

Photos: Cabbagetown during Chomp & Stomp

Another lovely and fun Chomp & Stomp weekend!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

'like PLO I don't surrendo' - M.I.A.'s Atlanta Halloween show

If Bjork is a panda, M.I.A. is an iguana. Or komodo dragon. Or a gila monster or some kind of crazy looking, beautiful exotic lizard that moves awkwardly but with more grace than you can fathom with their bony adorable body.

Halloween night at Center Stage in Atlanta was alive. From before it even began, the space was filled with rainbows of costumes, underwear over fishnets, and more wigs and leg warmers than you’d find in Cyndi Lauper’s closet circa 1983. Girls were dancing on top of speakers; friends were greeting each other with hugs that spun each other around. (What an amazing contrast to the previous night’s snooze of a crowd. I'm just sayin'.)

The show opened up with video footage of Japanese nihilist Kouichi Touyama in his bout for Governor of Tokyo- a perfect way to kick off the show of the daughter of a Tamil activist-turned militant. This revolutionary spirit carried through the entire evening, no doubt due in some part to her extensive travels in India, Trinidad, Liberia, Jamaica, Australia, and Japan while she was writing her new album Kala.

That’s the best word: revolutionary. MIA is revolutionary. She is one of, if not the most fierce performer I’ve ever seen. In iridescent white stretch pants and a baggy t-shirt, she, her DJ and the woman who danced and sung back up (so sad I don’t know her name) commanded the stage. The energy flowed from their lips hips fingertips to the crowd infectiously. Eyes remained glued on the small bodies that glided across the stage. Every song was a journey -- sometimes intentional “now we’re going to Africa!” she cried jubilantly as the screen behind her turned to jungle and machine guns. At one point she invited all people wearing costumes to join her on stage for a dance party (pictures on this are included in the slideshow- click on the image to go to a larger size). She perched on the edge of the stage singing and became part of the fan-based MIAnimal that moved with her.

I'm including two videos in this one this time because I just have to share them. I didn’t want the show to end; hell I want to be back there right now. As MIA said in Sunshowers, 'like PLO I don’t surrendo' and she didn’t and she doesn’t and I can’t emphasize enough that if you have a chance to see this lovely British Sri Lankan imp in real life, go go GO!

And if you were there, tell me how much she blew your ass away. Please. Take me back there immediately.

Performing Pull Up the People: you no like the people they no like you, then they go set it off with a big boom, every gun in a battle is a son and daughter too, why you wanna talk about who done who? what you wanna talk about?

Performing Bucky Done Gun. Despite the arm constantly blocking my camera, the crowd footage on this one makes it all worthwhile. Everyone loved her!