A Note from Mel

Make the connection…

Return of a Black Shadow December 14, 2009

Return of a Black Shadow


Most mornings, I drive to work. But after a weekend of tree-trimming with babyboy, baking, and gift-wrapping, I was running a little low on energy and time. So, I took a walk to work so the sounds of the city could wake me. While walking down K Street near what used to be the Sursum Cordas Project (moment of silence…it’s all electric-wired fences and unkempt grass now), I happened to look down. Low and behold, I saw a soggy postcard:


I remember how the mystery and persistence in the bold angles and curves of blackprint gave a sort of haunting feeling to all travels through the District in the 80s. Honestly, I was terrified that this Dan person seemed to be everywhere like a phantom. He had a haunting, constant, over-arching presence. I remember asking my mom, “Who is Cool Disco Dan?” She didn’t know. I never knew. After a while, I didn’t care. Figured he was locked up somewhere for all that damn tagging. But, I did know this dude was on a mission to imprint his character across the District as often, as prominently, and as boldly as he could. From what I can remember, he never used colors like other taggers. But then, he wasn’t your average tagger or graffiti artist. You could tell he was serious about this. I mean, his tag was under bridges at heights it seemed only Spiderman could reach. Always in black. His tags stood out the best in the rain, letters bursting at the hips like one of my uncles old girlfriends he had met at the go-go. His girlfriends always had Saartjie Baartman booties.

It’s funny, I wasn’t particularly a fan of Cool Disco Dan spraying himself all over town, on buildings, walls, trash cans, I mean, anywhere. But now, the little postcard with the familiar bold print makes me nostalgic for a totally different DC.

Of course, there were a lot of things about the 80s in DC that are worth forgetting, but there was a flavor and a heat about the city then that seems to be trickling away at an uncontrollable pace. The retail shops filling up old Chinatown. Humongous condos blocking the neighborhood’s perfect view of fireworks on the Mall from New York and New Jersey Avenue. No more midnight basketball at White & Colored (New York Avenue Court) because the parks close at dark. Strange, the neighborhood once affectionately known as simply New York Avenue is now “Truxton Circle” and “Mt. Vernon” according to Historic Preservation. They’re preserving something, but nothing I remember. I miss the O Street Market. The numerous fireworks stands lining the major thoroughfares of DC at the crack of summer. The feelgood of the annual Black Family Reunion. It’s all different. Some change is good. Just some. But what can I say. Some of us are still here and will always remember that once upon a time in DC.

Thanks Cool Disco Dan for taking me back for a spell.

Based on the postcard, it seems Cool Disco Dan has grown up! Entrepreneur with a product to sell. Check him out at www.CoolDiscoDan.com.


Color Hum November 27, 2009

Filed under: Art & Culture,Art for Art's Sake — anotefrommel @ 8:06 pm
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Portico Haze


beet / feet beat / feat (in photos) October 3, 2009

Filed under: Art - The Product,Art for Art's Sake,In Photos — anotefrommel @ 11:47 pm
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the shoes

the shoes


swagga like us

swagga like us



Trust and Music September 22, 2009

Someone whom I trust, dearly, shared a song with me a few weeks ago. The song was “Be Real Black for Me” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. If you’ve heard this song, you already know how genuine and sincere the lyrics are. But Flack and Hathaway deliver it magically. I had never heard this song before except in Scarface’s sampling of it in “My Block.”


I was happy to learn there was an entire CD of Flack and Hathaway duets, so I bought it with the quickness.  There’s so much variety in it, a devastatingly bluesy treatment of I (Who Have Nothing), originally by Ben E. King, an almost taunting rendition of You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling, originally by the Righteous Brothers, a song from their church roots, Come Ye Disconsolate, and piano solo, Mood.  The self-titled Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway is probably the best purchase I’ve made all year and it hasn’t gotten old yet. I play it every morning like kneeling for a prayer. I walk differently, speak differently all day because of it. I play it when my son and I are driving home. He especially likes to sing the grand finish of Be Real Black for Me in his strongest, most joyful 2 year-old voice. I love it when he chimes in to duet with me.



To a Bourgeois Sister, an experiment in line endings September 16, 2009

So I’ve been reading The Art of the Poetic Line by James Logenbach. I appreciate Logenbach’s discussion of the line break vs. line end and do agree that when a line ends, it doesn’t necessarily break; the syntax may continue. Line break implies a definitive end, a stop. But, all lines of poetry do not function in a way that makes the term line break relevant. He provides a great example by William Carlos Williams, which follows:


To a Poor Old Woman
by William Carlos Williams


munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand


They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her


You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand


a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her


Though I may have made slightly different decisions for line endings in lines 1 and 8, the second stanza shows masterfully the impact and/or the potential of impact line endings can have upon a reader’s experience in the vein of comprehension and emphasis.


I liked the idea so much, I gave Williams’ technique a try. My humble attempt follows:


To a Bourgeois Sister

after William Carlos Williams


fingering a mound of

pearls flowing, water

strung about overlay tips


They look fine to her

They look fine

to her. They look

fine to her


You can tell by

the way she carefully rubs

her painted lips while

stroking a singular silk bead



a solace of beaming planets

seeming to fill her eyes

They look fine to her


I’m still reading The Art of the Poetic Line. So far, so good. Check it out!

If you like the idea of revisiting popular poems, you may also want check out Conversation Pieces: Poems That Talk to Other Poems edited by Kurt Brown and Harold Schechter.


Buzz & Fluff (in photos) August 17, 2009









DCee Love (in Photos) July 20, 2009




Go Go Nate & the Ms.

Go Go Nate & the Ms.



Integers Only July 15, 2009

Integers Only


To handle a raindrop,

What you asked for

& what God gave you,

The skin which faced you yesterday

Is plied somehow differently this dawn,


What you asked for

& what precipitated

Is uncomfortable for most of an hour,

When the minutes fade, zeros are in reach,

So many zeros, beautiful planets.


– Melanie Henderson


Cornflower Blue July 13, 2009

Filed under: Art for Art's Sake,Relating with an Artist — anotefrommel @ 12:23 pm

Cornflower Blue


Study a morning

          In our city

           With no sky

A notion of pretty wings

Mouthing you, a song of licked chimes

I repeat the sounds lowly

Until your melody’s integral

enough to belt someday,

to make a summer’s memory

imbue the wind’s helixes.

 All previous breezes observe briefly,

 Lashes low,

 Then walk on by.


 Melanie Henderson


Rubbing English July 6, 2009

Filed under: Art - The Process,Art for Art's Sake — anotefrommel @ 7:00 pm
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Rubbing English

braver than leaning into scented thorns

of a sole fluorescent rose

learning the language of a man

harrows  harps  hovers

in a woman’s worry to be fresh

soiled & supple enough

to absorb the speak of eyes

the error of voice

between grape-skinned lips

the error of voice

to absorb the speak of eyes

soiled & supple enough

in a woman’s worry to be fresh

hovers   harps   harrows

leaning into thorns of a man

a sole fluorescent rose.

– Melanie Henderson