A Note from Mel

Make the connection…

Review of Elegies for New York Avenue @ The Big Ideas by Brian Gilmore December 6, 2011

Filed under: Art & Culture,Art & Politics,Art - The Product,Melanie Henderson — anotefrommel @ 5:30 pm

Everyone who grew up in Washington D.C. (myself included) seems to live near one of the avenues named after a U.S. state. For me, it was South Dakota Avenue, a residential thoroughfare of schools, libraries, gas stations, and single family homes, of little significance, except our mischief.  Washington D.C. poet, Melanie Henderson salutes her avenue in her debut collection of poetry, “Elegies for New York Avenue.” (Read more…)

 

Exhibit: (Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket by Thomas Sayers Ellis August 5, 2011

(Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Opening Reception, August 5th, 6-8pm

Exhibition Dates: August 5 – October 7

The Gallery at Vivid Solutions

 2208 MLK, Jr. Avenue S.E., Washington, DC 20020

(202) 365-8392

 

“Go-Go is a non-stop, vernacular dance music unique to Washington, D.C. and the Pocket is the percussive conversation between or beneath Go-Go grooves and songs. This photography project takes its title from a term “Lock It” used by the Go-Go community to describe a perfectly played (or locked) Go-Go Pocket. The goal of the Pocket is Home Rule and its anthem is “Bustin’ Loose,” Chuck Brown’s classic call for “The Bridge.” In a city as Capital as Washington, this work is a percussive attempt to reclaim the pictorial power of photography for D.C. residents, the folk who (as Walt Whitman once wrote) “do the real living and dying in this land.””

 

Gypsy & the Bully Door (Capital Fringe Festival) July 20, 2011

Ocean Ana Rising Inc.

presents

Gypsy & the Bully Door

Written by Nina Angela Mercer/Directed by Eric Ruffin

 

 

 

“Sara – fortune teller & member of the “We Bomb Truth Over Lies” graffiti movement – is haunted. The City eats its residents, exiling their spirits to Sara’s apartment, while Go-Go & its Mayor BirdMan funk eternal.”

 

The Warehouse

645 New York Avenue N.W.

Washington, DC 20001

Contact: 866-811-4111

Tickets: $17

 

Showtimes:

 

Tuesday, July 12th, 10:00 pm

Thursday, July 14th, 7:45 pm

Saturday, July 16th, Noon

Tuesday, July 19th, 7:45 pm

Friday, July 22nd, 6:00 pm

 

[American Journal] by Robert Hayden May 2, 2011

here among them     the americans     this baffling
multi people     extremes and variegations     their
noise     restlessness     their almost frightening
energy     how best describe these aliens in my
reports to The Counselors

disguise myself in order to study them unobserved
adapting their varied pigmentations     white black
red brown yellow     the imprecise and strangering
distinctions by which they live     by which they
justify their cruelties to one another

Read more…

Excerpt courtesy of Poets.org

 

An Open Letter to Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar January 28, 2011

An Open Letter to Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar

 

January 28, 2011, 11:33 a.m. 

 

Good Morning, Sis,

 

I hope this letter finds you in brighter garbs and rid of those thick black and white stripes. I hope it finds you rid of their intent.

I watched you yesterday morning on CNN, your hair tied on top of your head. A cornrow unbraided, released into a curl over your kitchen. I know you, sis. What they tried to do to you. Steal your color. Your dreams for your babies. I saw purple coming from your eyes. You knew what they were trying to do. You knew they didn’t want their money back…or you teaching in their schools. Plainly, tempered, you said it how you saw it.

I, on the other hand, was rolling my neck at the TV screen: Puhlease. Example made. Time served. Sister’s disenfranchised. Goals blighted. The kids see it and will never forget. Will be extremely cognizant of their PLACE in this country. Another sad, tragic story. Agh.

That was me; not you. You were me, still. We know the things we will do for our children. Folks can say or rule how they want. Those are our babies. Our love knows no zones or quotas.

I am writing you today, one criminal mother to another. We know these school systems give us some and keep the rest. But, of course, Sis, that has nothing to do with me and you.

Yours in the light and struggle,

Melanie Henderson

 

Literary Apartheid by jessica Care moore July 21, 2010

http://afrostoshelltoes.com/word/2010/07/18/literary-apartheid-by-jessica-care-moore/

 

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:

"COOL" DISCO DAN

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.

 

Still, Obama Wins… October 19, 2009

Filed under: Art & Politics,In Photos — anotefrommel @ 8:19 am
Obama wins, a design from the Chi

Obama wins, a design from the Chi

 

caviar and cognac May 27, 2009

Filed under: Art & Politics — anotefrommel @ 10:20 am

history repeating itself (or maybe it never changed)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090527/ts_nm/us_korea_north

 

caviar and cognac

after Kim Jong-Il, North Korea ‘06

 

there’s no fine grey powder in my bomb

nuclear fare

war is someone’s answer

 

there’s a massive black weapon

stored in my backyard

engorged with hunger, desperation

a heavy pink, pelvic balloon

rolling near pins sharp as starving eyes

 

there’s a bomb in my back

pocket imperialists

 

fear

 

the split second

an eye                       blinked

opening to severed limbs lips

voices

 

my plutonium grin mocks

a horror flick

on the screen

of my squared bifocals

 

your seat

perpetually reserved and

unoccupied at my table

 

– Melanie Henderson

 

Born Home/Inauguration January 22, 2009

Filed under: Art & Politics,Art & Social Progress,Art for Art's Sake — anotefrommel @ 5:12 pm

Born Home Love Poem

To begin at the beginning,
& we are not from this place
We know the snow
doesn’t fall in January,

The gum of July doesn’t stick to the blood in our skin
& we are not from this place
We know the rows of dependent houses
Liberated by separating hues of a president,

My alarm clock’s muteness is temporary,
Its arteries, a blazing blue; it’s 7:59
& we are not from this place
We know how to begin at the beginning
When a high school is just a high school

& our rhythm is not smart
and we are not from this place
we know the vacant eyes of our streets
Pots in the pavement sing
from this place we are from

We know.

 

Melanie Henderson

1/19/2009