The Craig Report: 5.5.17

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Hey everybody. I’m back!

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Hope you had a great week!

Mine flew by. I spent most of my time:

I. Reacting to this

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I was like

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See, I’m not only a fan of Tevin Campbell; I also have to thank him for playing a pivotal role in my career. The first piece I ever wrote for The Washington Post was a review of his self-titled ’99 album. You can read the review here, And below is my Tevin Campbell Top 10 playlist.

Also, this is my fave Tevin remix. It really gives a hard, hip-hop thump to “Can We Talk.”

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II. Another thing I’ve been doing this week is obsessively listening to the new Mary J. Blige album, Strength of a Woman. It’s so great to see her come back from her various troubles (the dissolution of her marriage and otherwise) like the warrior that she is.

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I like the whole album, but in particular, I’ve been dancing around to “Telling The Truth,”

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…and the summer anthem “Glow Up.”

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And I’ve really been feeling her testimony on “Set Me Free” and “Thank You.”

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I also couldn’t get enough of her performing “Love Yourself” with The Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

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Lastly, I’ve been deleting from my hard drive every song by Starshell.

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The one-time Mary protégé is allegedly “the other woman” behind Mary’s divorce drama.

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III. I also did a few artsy things this week. I went into the city to check out some of the street art in Wynwood.

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O.K., I actually went there to get some charred octopus tacos from Coyo. But while I was in the neighborhood, I took in some of the murals.

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On the way home, I drove through Overtown, which was once called “Colored Town” because of its large black population. Back in the Jim Crow days, acts like Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday stayed in Overtown after their Miami Beach gigs because they weren’t allowed to dine or sleep where they played.

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Like many historically black neighborhoods throughout the country, Overtown has seen better days for a variety of reasons. One of these being that the city decided to run interstate 95 straight through Overtown, destroying homes and displacing longtime residents. Now, it’s the so-called “hot zone” of South Florida’s opioid epidemic.

But there are attempts at revitalization, including the reopening of the Lyric Theatre where Sam Cooke, Redd Foxx, and Aretha Franklin, among notable others, once performed. There’s also been the recent installation of outdoor paintings by the Pérez Art Museum.

I went to look at some of these works, which were located around what looked like an abandoned building.

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[Ed Clark: Pink Wave, 2006]

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[Emilio Sanchez: Untitled (Miami Storefronts), ca. 1980]

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[Guillermo Kuitca: Mozart-Da Ponte, VI, 1996]

The next day, I headed to the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum to see Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity. (My mom was in town, so we needed stuff to do.) The exhibit compiled works by an international body of contemporary photographers that documented “the black dandy,” who is defined–as curator Shantrelle P. Lewis states–“as a self-fashioned gentleman who intentionally assimilates classical European fashion with African Diaspora aesthetics and sensibilities…His style and identity generally contradict the stereotypes, boxes, categories, or ideas that society typically apply to him (and in some cases, her).”

I enjoyed the entire exhibit, but I was particularly taken by the work of South African photographer Harness Hamese, who often includes female dandies in his work. Here are three of my favorites from the show:

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You can see more of Harness’ work on the ‘gram.

While I was at the museum, I also saw some other stuff that I really liked, including Freedom Trap (2013) by Cuban artist María Magdalena Campos-Pon.

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I also saw Christopher, South Shore High School, 2003 from Dawould Bey’s The Chicago Project, which combines Bey’s portraits with the subject’s own words describing themselves. Here’s the photo and an excerpt from Christopher’s profile. (You can read the whole thing here.)

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I think I come off as a bad person, ’cause when I get around people I don’t know I kind of ball up into a shell and don’t really voice myself when I should, ’cause I’m so affected by what people think of me that I don’t wanna, like, give them the stereotype of a young person my age. Stereotype would be: don’t know nothin’, probably ain’t goin’ to be nothin’…

But that’s why black young people in America use rap as a voice for us, as people to put out… you know what I’m saying… ‘Cause they have like certain messages. Like, people think all rappers is, “they’re bad, they do bad stuff,” but they’ll tell you in their songs why they do bad stuff, like they had nothin’ else to turn to, so that’s the only way they can do it. But they tell you, like, “man, you shouldn’t do it, because it’s a bad thing and this ain’t goin’ lead to nowhere.” Only reason they had to do it was ’cause it was the last choice they had to use.

CRAIG’S WEEKLY FAVES

1)  These lit graduation caps by @artworkbybria

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2) Queen Majesty Scotch Bonnet and Ginger Hot Sauce

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Remember how I was in Brooklyn a few weeks back? Well, one day I was walking down Knickerbocker Avenue and I went into this gourmet food spot to get some coffee. The line was crazy-long, so I decided to bounce. But before I left, I saw some hot sauce bottles in the corner of my eye. I went over and found Queen Majesty’s Red Habanero and Black Coffee Hot Sauce. The coffee/hot sauce combo sounded tasty af. But I knew that I couldn’t get the bottle through airport security. Plus, I wasn’t tryna stand in that line.

I got on my phone, went to the Queen Majesty website, and immediately ordered the three hot sauce sampler pack.

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I figured that I would love the “Red Habanero and Black Coffee” and the “Jalapeño, Tequila and Lime,” and that I would tolerate the “Scotch Bonner and Ginger.” I just haven’t been a big ginger person since I was about six year’s old and my mom made homemade egg rolls for my birthday. She put ginger in the rolls, but it wasn’t cooked. And I bit into a huge chunk of raw ginger.

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Anyway, I’ve been sorta anti-ginger ever since. I don’t even eat it when it comes with my sushi. But when the sauces arrived, I was shocked to discover that the Scotch Bonnet and Ginger was actually my favorite. It has a a really zesty, energizing kick to it. I highly recommend.

In fact, I have to go re-order before I run out. Until next time y’all…

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Be cool, be kind, be creative, be yourself. Love, Craig

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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I just hung this print from Freestyle Raps in my apartment. It’s a lyric from J. Cole’s “Love Yourz.”

I don’t know how many of you caught J. Cole’s HBO documentary 4 Your Eyez Only, but it was really interesting. It followed Cole, who hails from Fayetteville, NC, traveling through the South, chopping it up with everyday folk. I guarantee that this 4 minute clip of him talking to a grandmother will be one of the most moving things you’ve seen all year.

P.S. If you know someone who might like this report, please do me a favor by forwarding it to them and asking them to subscribe. Thanks!

CRAIG 101

Who I Am:

I’m a writer/photographer whose work has been featured in The Washington Post, the Chicago TribuneEntertainment Weekly, Vibe, Spin, and other publications. I have a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

My Books:

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Who’s Your Daddy

Providence-based photographer Michael Allen, a gay man on the cusp of 40, thinks he’s found love with a 19-year-old, mohawk-sporting artist named Ziggy, only to discover that the two may already share a bond that neither can imagine. This plays out as Michael’s best friends-Sidney, a 50-ish art dealer and Bruce, a cop in his 30s-deal with their own sexual trysts and romantic travails with dramatically younger guys. The result is a novel that explores the fragile yet enduring ties of sex, love, and friendship.

All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C.

“Unafraid to bare it all…readers will feel they’re in the hands of an expert.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“…a bare-assed, neon-lit tour de force…” –The Bay Area Reporter

“Raunchy splendor…somehow both bawdy and sweetly nostalgic at the same time.” – Dallas Voice

FREE: Download the All I Could Bare audiobook read by me.

Luther: The Life and Longing of Luther Vandross

“Seymour’s brilliant book is like a great Luther song: elegantly written, effortlessly executed and eloquently delivered. A majestic tribute.” – Michael Eric Dyson

“Full of juicy anecdotes, fast-paced writing and interesting analysis, the book paints an intimate portrait of the beloved balladeer.” – E. Lynn Harris

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