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Archive for January, 2009

Artist: Keith Sweat featuring Kut Klose       Song: Twisted

Sure, the video is a little melodramatic and unrealistic, but I dare you to sit through this whole song without nodding your head  once.  And I don’t mean “Sunday morning trying to encourage the soloist who has no business being anywhere near a microphone” type nodding. I’m talking about that 90s-inspired, Monica sitting on the rooftop in the Why I Love You So Much” video nodding. That Mary J. Blige “Not Gon Cry” nodding. That Aaliyah “One in a Million,” Blackstreet “Don’t Leave Me Girl,” Ginuwine “Pony,” and Biggie I Love it When You Call Me Big Poppa” nodding. That deep, full body nodding that starts in your abdomen, makes its way up to the chest and spreads throughout the arms.

Yeah, you know what I’m talkin bout. It’s been 12 years and countless tape, CD, and iPod plays after I first heard this song, but to this day it’s still one of my top 10 favorites.  

So enjoy. Just don’t break your neck.

–TJ

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Before John Mayer, before Robin Thicke, there was James Taylor.  This multiple Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and guitarist came of age in the 1970s and is known for his introspective songs and mellow sound.  I’ve been a fan of Taylor’s since my freshman year of college when I would play his music to relax me and clear my mind before tests.  James Taylor is the truth, and if you find yourself unable to sleep, I encourage you to find some of his music, put it on repeat, and let the stress slip away.  

Song: “You’ve Got a Friend”   Artist: James Taylor   

–TJ

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This morning, the first novel that I ever helped edit hit the bookstores!  This afternoon, I checked the novel’s “Acknowledgments” page and saw my name! This evening, I spotted someone already reading that novel as I was on the train coming home from work!   Right now, you can’t tell me nothin’!! Lol.

Basketball Jones by New York Times best-selling author E. Lynn Harris hit bookstores today, and if the past is any indication, this novel will be a bestseller too.  About a month after starting at Random House I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Harris on this book, and on several occasions we spent hours on the phone together polishing the manuscript and getting it ready for publication.  I would suggest ways to fine tune and further develop certain chapters, characters, and scenes, and I am thrilled that several of my edits made the finished copy!  I know it’s not much, but  you gotta know how to grip a golf club before you can play with Tiger.  

Mr. Harris is an incredible writer and human being, and I am honored to have been able to work with him. This is a milestone in my career, and I thank God for bringing me thus far. Thank you all for your support!

Purchase a copy of Basketball Jones today! I will be signing copies of page viii at a bookstore near you. LOL!

–TJ

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With Kanye, Fall Out Boy, Kid Rock, Usher, Rosario Dawson, and Eric Benet in the building (to name just a few), there was some major star power at the Youth Inaugural Ball that I attended last week.  However no one’s star shone anywhere near as bright as the President and First Lady’s when they graced the stage. 

Get into the Obamas swaying to the tunes of “At Last” by Etta James and skip to the 1:46 mark to experience what was, hands down, the best moment of the evening.

Too. Damn. Fly.

–TJ

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You couldn’t make it to the Inauguration? Don’t worry, I’ll keep delivering it right to your computer screen.  (If you show me some love in the comments section, that is).  Check back tomorrow to get your daily inaugural fix.  It’ll be like you were in the VIP section with Oprah and Stedman.

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Beneath the skin,
beyond the differing features and into the true heart of being, fundamentally, we are more alike, my friend,
than we are  unalike.
-Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes in the late 1950s

Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes in the late 1950s

 –TJ

 

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I’m up late tonight/early this morning reading and writing a report on a book proposal that I got yesterday.  I’ve found that I do my best work late at night, but after working all day long, I have to put on some music to rejuvenate me.  “You Know That You Got Me” by The Roots and Jill Scott never lets me down.

Most people are more familiar with the version featuring Erykah Badu, but I’ve always been a fan of this one.  Black Thought’s rhymes always touch my spirit and Jill Scott’s voice always takes me wherever my imagination wants to go.  This is hip-hop music at it’s best. This song will always do it for me—whatever “it” is.

This is how I’m getting through this sleepless night. And if, for whatever reason, you’re still up, I hope this helps you get through too.

–TJ

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So if you’re like me, you were probably less than satisfied with the poem recited by Inaugural Poet Elizabeth Alexander at the end of President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony.  I kept thinking to myself, “Where’s Angelou, where’s Giovanni, where’s Morrison? Hell, where’s Def Poetry Jam?” 

But after reading the full text of the poem earlier today, I realized that it wasn’t the poem that I didn’t like, it was Alexander’s delivery.  The poem itself, is very good. 

My favorite line is “What if the mightiest word is love?”  Whew! That’s the type of language that jumps off the page and slaps you awake after having been lulled to sleep by Alexander’s monotonous delivery.

Watch the video above, then read the text of the poem below, and see if you feel the same way.

–TJ

Praise Song for the Day

By Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need
. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

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