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Archive for the ‘Celebration’ Category

Maaaaaaannn hold up!  Two of my best friends from  Texas are coming to visit me in NY tomorrow and I’m so CRUNK, mane!  In celebration, I’m bumping some good ole’ (albeit ignorant as hell) TX hip-hop——-I’m talking about that Swishahouse, “f” action, screwed and chopped ish.  That Paul Wall, UGK, Slim Thug, Lil Keke, Boss Hogg Outlawz ish.  

If you’re not from Texas, you probably don’t understand…and probably never will. 

Allllllllllllready mane!

—-Travers

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President and First Lady to Host Concert Honoring Stevie Wonder in the East Room

On Wednesday, February 25th, the President and First Lady will host a concert in the East Room honoring Stevie Wonder, who will be awarded the 2nd annual Gershwin Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Library of Congress.  The concert will be broadcast February 26th on PBS as part of its “In Performance at the White House” series in celebration of African American History Month. 

SOURCE: The White House Press Office

Get into more pics below, and be sure to check out the concert TONIGHT at 8:00 p.m. ET on PBS Stations nationwide.

—Travers

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In the words of Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely?”

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I love books.  They are on of my biggest passions and are my biggest extravagance.  Even though I work around books all day long, I can still go into a Barnes and Noble and get lost for hours, just roaming the shelves.  I am amassing quite a collection of all types of books, and my Vanity Fair “Oscar Night” coffee table book is def one of my favorites.  I was at work one day, and this treasure (and I mean that in every sense of the word—the book costs $75) was sitting on one of our free book shelves.  Now you KNOW I couldn’t pass this one up!  With many of us still in a post Slumdogs, (oops, I mean post Oscars) hangover, I thought you might enjoy some of these amazing photos from this great book as much as I do.  Let me know what you think.

Enjoy,

Travers

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Angela Bassett and Oprah Winfrey react to Halle Berry's Best Actress win in 2002

 

Halle Berry and then-husband, Eric Benet, celebrate after her Best Actress win in 2002

Halle Berry and then-husband, Eric Benet, celebrate after her Best Actress win in 2002

Michael Jackson was Madonna's date to the Oscars in 1991

Michael Jackson was Madonna's date to the Oscars in 1991

11 years earlier, in 1980, the King of Pop was Diana Ross' date to the Academy Awards

11 years earlier, in 1980, the King of Pop was Diana Ross' date to the Academy Awards

Former "it" couples, (left) Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt (right) Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, in happier times

Former "it" couples, (left) Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt (right) Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, in happier times

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon after winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Good Will Hunting" in 1997

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon after winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Good Will Hunting" in 1997

Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta after winning the Best Supporting Actor in 1989

Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta after winning the Best Supporting Actor in 1989

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Mr. Poitier and me, February 2007

Academy Award-winning actor, film director, author, and diplomat Sidney Poitier turned 82 today.  I met Mr. Poitier a couple years ago when I was a student presenter at the 2007 Morehouse College ” A Candle in the Dark” Gala where he received a Lifetime Achievement award.

“Welcome, Mr. Poitier,” I said. “My name is Travers Johnson”

“Hello.  I’ve seen that face before,” he replied.

“Really?” I said.

“Yes.”

Now, I HIGHLY doubt that he had ever seen my face before.  (If he had, that would actually be kind of weird).  Maybe he’s seen someone who looks like me; maybe he says that to every new person he meets.  But Mr. Poitier’s presence is so mesmerizing that, at that moment, he probably could have convinced me that I was his long lost grandson.

When you get a chance you should read his memoir The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography. 

the_measure_of_a_man_a_spiritual_autobiographyThis is one of the most meaningful books I’ve ever cracked open.

Happy Birthday, sir.

—-Travers

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A few years ago, I wrote an article for an online young men’s publication about romantic movies that will appeal to both men and women.  With the recession in full swing, and frugality taking the place of “poppin bottles” and “makin’ it rain” in 2009, this revised list of classic and recent movies is just as relevant as it was when I first compiled it and is the perfect way for young men and women to spend less and get more this Valentine’s Day. 

(Interpret that however you please). 🙂

–Travers

Movies for Him and Her 

By Travers Johnson

It never fails to cause a problem. You and your lady have planned a quiet night at home.  She orders the pizza and you turn the lights down in preparation for some one-on-one time on the couch in front of the television. The incense is burning, the mood is warm-all is right with the world.

That is until she pops Waiting to Exhale into the DVD player and finds you dead asleep before Angela Bassett’s character torches her adulterous husband’s car.   

She complains that you never like the movies she chooses; you say you would if they weren’t boring. She calls you insensitive, you call her spoiled. She brings up the recent calls from your ex-girlfriend. All hell breaks loose.

Choosing a movie that both people in a relationship will enjoy is no easy task.  It’s not breaking news that young women tend to prefer romantic comedies and dramas, while young men are usually more attracted to action movies and suspense thrillers. In February, however, love is on everybody’s mind and you should be wise enough to choose films accordingly (lest a night of lovin’ turn into a deathmatch).

With Cupid Day upon us, you have more important decisions to make than which movie choices will prevent World War 3. Therefore, we’ve made it easy on you and have compiled a list of romance movies, in no particular order, that will make her giddy and will keep you awake.

Slumdog Millionaire

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This is the best film that I have seen in a very, very, very, very, VERY long time.  A poor and uneducated Mumbai teen accused of cheating on the Indian version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ recounts how he was able to answer each question via a flashback to his hard-knock childhood.  But it’s the underlying story of undying love that is the real breath-taker.  With an excellent plot, impressive acting, and a banging soundtrack (i.e. M.I.A’s Paper Planes)  this is the perfect date movie.

 Boomerang

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Boomerang is the granddaddy of all Buppie (Black Urban Professional) romance movies, as this film set the standard for the on-screen portrayal of the “young, gifted, and black” set. The ladies adore this movie for its romantic storyline and images of successful, independent black women. You will sympathize with the plight of once-Casanovian Marcus (Eddie Murphy) and his love-struck ways. You can also look forward to 118 beautiful minutes of screen sirens Halle Berry and Robin Givens.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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This sweeping epic has it all—love, romance, dying, and death.  With as much buzz that this film has gotten, there’s really not much more that I can say about it than this: See it.

Coming to America

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Where would the world be without the Prince of Zamunda? This Eddie Murphy classic tells the story of Prince Akeem of the fictional African country Zamunda, who, after becoming disillusioned by the arranged marriage customs of his homeland, travels to America to find his true “queeeeeeeeen to be.”  

With unforgettable scenes like the “Soul Glo” commercial and the black awareness rally, this romantic comedy is heavier on the comedy than the romance. Nonetheless, Coming to America is a guaranteed hit for all viewers and should be your first choice for a light movie night. “Let’s give it up for Sexual Chocolate!”

The Reader

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Let me put it like this:  if Kate Winslet doesn’t win an mf’in Oscar for this role, shoes will be thrown at TV screens all across America.  In this post-Holocaust tale, a German boy has a passionate fling with a woman he later learns was a Nazi SS guard.  This tragic romance is not Coming to America, but you will appreciate the love story.

The Best Man

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A more recent Buppie flick, The Best Man, is a winner for so many reasons. The story centers around four college friends (Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, and Harold Perrineau) who have reunited for the wedding of Lance (Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun). However, the good times are cut short when Harper’s (Diggs) barely fictionalized new book is read by members of the wedding party and causes massive drama.

You will both enjoy the storyline and will most likely be able to identify with at least one of the characters. Even if you have seen this film a million times, The Best Man is still the best bet for a good evening. Besides, who could ever forget that bachelor party scene? It’s like “candaaaayyy!”

Love Jones

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Starring Larenz Tate and the beautiful Nia Long, Love Jones is the quintessential black romance movie. Darius Lovehall (Tate), a young poet, falls in love with talented photographer Nina Moseley (Long) and the rest of the show is aptly described by the film’s tagline: “Get together. Fall apart. Start over.”

It’s simple-there is nothing to dislike about this classic. If you and your lady have already had dinner, this movie can certainly be the dessert. (Or can put you in the mood for some).

Brown Sugar

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On the surface, Brown Sugar is your ordinary love story: a music executive and magazine editor, who happen to be childhood best friends, are in love but are both currently in relationships. Nothing special, right? Wrong.

What makes this film so great, besides an hour-and-a half of Sanaa Lathan, is the parallel it makes between the evolution of the two main characters’ relationship and the evolution of hip-hop. The movie has delightful flashbacks to when the two lovers, and for that matter, hip-hop, was in its purest form.

She’ll love Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe, and the romance. You’ll love Sanaa Lathan, Nicole Ari Parker, and the hip-hop. By the movie’s end, you will be loving on each other.

Jason’s Lyric

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Deeper than your typical romance movie, but retaining an air of simplicity and lightness, Jason’s Lyric is a mandatory addition to your “one-on-one time” collection. This dynamic movie tells the story of Jason’s (Allen Payne) struggle for inner peace amidst his love for the “playing hard-to-get” Lyric (Jada Pinkett Smith). A multilayered tale, this film explores the relationship between a mother and her son, two brothers, and a man and a woman.

It is, at once, sexual, tragic, courageous, and thought-provoking. If you and your lady are looking for mental and romantic stimulation, this is the film for you.

Love and Basketball

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Now, you know that our list wouldn’t be complete without this one. Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan, suspense, sex, adolescence, competition, conflict, college, love, basketball (fully and partially clothed) -this movie has it all.

If Boomerang is the granddaddy and Love Jones is the quintessential, then Love and Basketball is the titan of black romance movies. Equally as compelling to men as it is to women, there is absolutely no way that you can go wrong with this all-time favorite.

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What a triumphant way to step back on to the scene.  If you didn’t see Jennifer Hudson perform the National Anthem tonight, you missed something spectacular.  The National Anthem is normally just that—-a song for all Americans.  But JHud’s performance tonight was as much a personal victory for her as it was a reminder of the glories of being an American.  She broke that song down and built it up again all in 2 minutes!  

Get in to JHud’s  performance above, and for nostalgia’s sake, check out the performance that set the standard for all Super Bowl National Anthem performances below.

–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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