Monday, May 29, 2006

Presentation Jitters

Uh. Yeah, I'm up late. Been working with a few of the co-presenters on the workshop we're doing at NCORE (told you about it two entries below...) this week in Chicago. I think it'll be great. But I just can't sleep.

We're doing a comprehensive 2-day workshop on the intersections of ethnicity and class as they relate to LGBT students of color on campus. Yeah, it's a mouthful.

I'm really excited about the specific parts my three friends and I are doing in this whole workshop -- the myths and hype around the whole DL thing, religion and mega-churches, and how citizenship/immigration status and sexual orientation are intersected. We'll see.

If anything, we hope that we create some dialogue and some shifts. In fact, for a conference that prides itself on being the premiere "race" and ethnicity conference in higher education, for the powers that be to green-light a 2-day workshop on LGBT students of color is MAJOR. Thanks NCORE.

I like talking in front of groups -- if I know what I'm talking about. I'm not a big BSer and not into the smoke and mirrors conversation just to get through something. One of the co-presenters said I ought to do more solo speeches tying in my novel with contemporary issues facing LGBT students of color. I was like, Yeah I should. And while at NCORE I'll be working to make it happen. There's a whole lot more traveling I want to do.

In the meantime, I SHOULD be sleeping. It's 1 friggin o'clock in the morning. I need to be at my presentation room at 7:30ish. Presentation jitters suck.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

H-O-T South Side Chicago

Got to Chicago yesterday evening, where it it like 300 degrees. Swear. We get hot weather in L.A., however, we don't get muggy weather. Muggy -- the word midwesterners use for lots of humidity. I'm sweating like Whitney 24/7.

Hung out on the South Side with three of my friends from grad school. Had some margaritas with dinner. Had some Mario's Italian ice. Then decided to head up north to see the new attractions along Michigan Avenue... that Millennium Park is nice (that's where the image on the left is from... the water/play fountains that are like interactive art! Whoever is doing the city planning for Chicago... you deserve an A+++++. Why can't my hometown, Detroit, follow your lead Chicago? Anyway...

The highlight was stopping at my alma mater, Loyola. The Lakeshore Campus in Rogers Park. So much has changed, as it's supposed to. Those changes add value to your degree. But one thing that hasn't changed... Bruno's, the small watering hole dive we used to go for beers after class (or a dramatic staff meeting). Bruno's hasn't changed a bit. You can still get a beer for a buck fifty and the undergrads are still trying to sneak in.

I think if I ever moved from L.A., it would be back to Chicago. Something to do all year long. Four seasons. Nice, new condos and houses sprouting up all over... even the South Side, where I hadn't spent much time until this weekend. My friends stay in Hyde Park/University of Chicago area. And that Lakefront is just to die for. I used to bike it twice a week when I lived at Loyola's Lakeshore Campus and had classes in the downtown Water Tower campus.

Tonight I check into my hotel downtown. Will get cracking on some writing. Oh, it is Memorial Day weekend. I'm sure there's something happening in Boystown on Halsted, hmmm.... Sunday night, no work tomorrow until my first conference meetings. OK, let me take my nap now!

Friday, May 26, 2006

South Central Farmers

Did you know there is a lively, thriving farm in the center of South Central L.A.?

The South Central Farm started in 1992, following the L.A. uprising on a barren piece of land... well, barren except for the weeds and trash that littered it. No one wanted it. No one took care of it. So the community decided to take initiative and use the 14-acre plot of land and develop it into a community garden. And also as a community space where all the different folks could celebrate and move past their differences for a common good.

There's probably a space like this in your own town that you don't know about.

This garden feeds over 300 community members in the South Central neighborhood.

But now... developers want the land. As developers usually do in poor, ethnically diverse neighborhoods inside cities.

In less than a week, the South Central Farmers face eviction from their land and their project. And while I don't know all the particulars, or the behind-the-scenes rhetoric or propaganda, I do know that community activists always get the short end of the stick, so to speak. Why do people see community activists as a nuisance, rather than shedding light on issues? That's another blog. Another day.

Take a look at the South Central Farmers site. Take a look at LOUDmouth Magazine, which has a few stories in the current FOOD issue on SCF. Take a look at the coffee you're sipping on right now... or want to sip on. You can get that coffee anywhere... do we need yet another location to replace something good... something green happening in the neighborhood?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chicago. NCORE.

Heading to Chicago this weekend for about a week.

Presenting at NCORE - National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. A two-day workshop, with a few other presenters, on issues related to gay students of color on college campuses. Will be exciting. The workshop. And the other workshops I attend.

And Chicago too. My old hometown for a few years, while finishing grad school at Loyola.

Will work hard. Play hard. Visit bookstores and sign whatever of mine they have in stock. Thank God for the frequent taxis and the "El" in Chicago. No driving needed. Miss that about a big city... not needing to drive to go out. In L.A., you always need a designated driver.

Anyway, been a minute since visiting Chicago. What's new? On the boy scene? And in general? I miss the museums. Had an internship at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. Amazing job. I got a lotta memories of the city... and hope to create a whole lot more on this trip.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Crafty Chica.

Did I tell you I met THE nicest person in the world the other day?

Kathy Cano Murillo, also known as Crafty Chica, made my day, week, life with her genuine niceness and positive attitude toward life.

Like so nice that she freelance wrote a column for her local newspaper until they agreed to hire her on full time... and her column has become immensely popular.

Like so nice that when she had a few frustrations with a career opportunity and wanted to leave, the powers that be loved her so much that they gave her some cool perks. Perks I won't mention in case some not-so-nice co-workers are reading and want to rain on Crafty Chica.

Like so nice that when she had a tough time recently, the way she took out her frustrations was not using glitter for a week and telling her hubby that the chicken he made was tough.

Like so nice that she just makes you smile and want to do nice things, make nice things, create a nice home.

And I'm not talking fake nice. Her total outlook is just positive in life. And I think that's why she's having the success she does and will continue to have.

Just wanted to share with you her site and information. If you're looking to make crafts with a cultural edge and flavor, forget the others, and look to Kathy Cano Murillo -- the Crafty Chica.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Book. Cover.

So I have a new novel that's in the production pipeline at Kensington. Right Side of the Wrong Bed, a novel, will be published in Summer 2007.

Yeah, it's a slow process. Shared that already. If you're a writer, know that it takes about a year to 18 months from contract signing to actual book on store shelves. It's time well spent.

So, we're in the preliminary stages of thinking book cover design... my agent, publisher, and I. And of course the talented artists at Kensington.

But I wanna know from you... what types of covers usually draw you in? Bright colors or subtle hues? Live models shots or color illustrations? People? Faces? Objects? Just the title and author name? Have you ever bought a book, or at least picked it up, on just the cover alone? What are some book covers that STILL stand out to you after all this time? Covers that you'd even want reproduced as artwork in your home?

I know all the folks I work with will have their ideas, market research, and such to back them up on. But I also wanna hear from you... readers who read this blog or have read my first novel, Down For Whatever.

Oh, and of the novel covers pictured in this entry, what works for you? We're not going negative... I just wanna know what works in a positive way for you.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Aaah. Miami. Chica Lit.

(THIS, is the view from a college buddy's condo in Miami... the 50-something'th floor)

So I'm back from Miami boys and girls, and let me tell you it was PHE.NOM.E.NAL.

Alisa Valdes Rodriguez and the Dirty Girls Production company know how to put on a fun, empowering, and community building party around books! Next year's festival will be in Houston... and promises to be bigger and better than this years.

Now, I met some cool people at the festival. So many cool writers, published authors, and folks who lead major production companies... all who are fans of a term Alisa has trademarked -- Chica Lit. Chica Lit is fiction about and geared toward Latinas.

And you're probably asking why I was there? And it's because if you've read my novel Down For Whatever, you'll know it's a Latino and Black SAME Sex and the City... and lots of women like to read stories about boys who like boys.

Some of the standout presenters and authors include Nely Galan, who is the most powerful Latina in Hollywood today (her production company did The Swan and SHE greenlights projects, including the upcoming English-language telenovelas on NBC), Patrick Sanchez (we're on the same publishing company label), The Crafty Chica (she's like Martha Stewart, but Latina, and soooooooo nice!!!), Mary Castillo, Berta Platas, Lara Rios, and Caridad Pineiro. So many others... will name drop later. Oh, my friend Reyna Grande who's on the verge of literary stardom was there. And Erasmo Guerra!!!! Aye, Erasmo. :-)

Oh, if you're into Marines (and I know you boys and girls are), I met a woman who runs a website. Um, it's clean -- get your minds out the gutter. But this woman Alana runs a fun website matchmaking civilians with single Marines. Or Marines with, uh, you get it. Yum. Oops, don't tell. Don't ask. We had a fun conversation about military boys.

Anyway, nice weekend of networking, talking books, diversity within the Latina/o community, and writing. The Chica Lit Club.

And like the travel whore I am, I am in LOVE with Miami... and could see myself definitely living there one day!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


You ever feel like the coolest people, the people you really wanna connect with on a friends or more-than-friends basis...

Never seem to live in your city? Or never seem to be single?


Or do you notice how people always say the "scene" in their city is tired, yet sing the praises of the "scene" of other cities?

Anyway, this weekend I'm off to another scene... Miami. Chica Lit Club book festival.

Please... no distance-curse. No distance curse. No distance curse. :-)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Purple. Tony.

The Color Purple racked up twelve nominations for the 60th Annual Tony Awards, which will air on CBS June 11 live from New York City.

Congrats. Very good job. Now let's hope for a number of wins for the cast and crew of this show.

Duh. Vinci. What?

Um. Just finished watching Matt Lauer doing his live Today Show reports from Paris. Hyping the film, The DaVinci Code. Yeah. We know it'll be a blockbuster film.

But. I have a confession. Am I the last person in the world not to have read the novel, The DaVinci Code? I think I am. And I just haven't quite caught on to what all the hype is about.

Just like I think I'm the last person in the world who hasn't seen one Star Wars movie. Not even the originals from the 80s. But, uh, well. I'm just not into that genre.

So. Am I missing something? Or not?

Without giving away any plot points, what's the deal about The DaVinci Code novel? Has it changed your life? Made you think of the world in a different way? Shaken your view of organized religion? Or is it just good reading, plain and simple? The book is everywhere. And to me, anything that gets people reading is a good thing.

But all I know is when party conversation gets to reading, and inevitably The DaVinci Code, I draw a blank. And do a mental Duh. :-)

Monday, May 15, 2006


I've always loved his voice. This weekend, really got into Dwele's music. Both CDs. Got them both.


Some Kinda.

Yeah, I'm behind. No, I'm not turning into a music critic/recommender. But, Dwele, a Detroit native like myself, is a great artist.

You dig Dwele?

Chocolate. Brown.

Chocolate brown is the new black.

So say the fashion and interior design magazines. And I can see why. It's so rich and elegant. And, though initially you might think it doesn't go with everything... It does.

This weekend I stayed at a hotel and the interiors were chocolate brown accented with light blue. Nice.

My sister did one section of a room in her house chocolate brown accented with a bright lime green. At first I was like.... hmmm, this is going to be interesting. But it's hot!

At Target the other day, I saw some beautiful accent pillows for a sofa or bed. They were chocolate brown and pink. Yes... PINK!

Anyway, whether it's for your home or your clothing, chocolate brown is hot and probably here to stay for a while. I guess.

A few sources for decorating with chocolate brown: HGTV and About Chocolate and iVillage.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Teena Marie. Sapphire.

Teena Marie
is one of those musicians who brings back lots of childhood and teeny-bopper years and memories -- summers with cousins, ice cream trucks, trying to figure out what Fire and Desire is all about. Hmmmm....

Anyway. Now I'm an adult. And Teena Marie is still around. That's kinda cool.

Just picked up Sapphire, her latest. Haven't listened yet -- will do so on a quick weekend flight to Vegas. But I'm sure it's a gem like the other projects she's done. You gotta let me know what you think.

It's cool when musicians can keep their careers going, in the midst of the obsession with young singers who rely on computers and synthesizers to make them sound... uh, good.

Wish more continued... or had the opportunity to continue. Imagine if Gladys, Aretha, Diana, Patti, etc... topped the charts like the kids do today. Imagine if people sang about love, and not just getting paid... or cheating. Who would you like to see ruling the charts again?

(Since writing this post, I've listened to this CD a billion times. LOVE IT!)

Miami. Again.

Excited about the Chica Lit Club Fiesta next weekend in Miami. It's for readers, writers, fans, agents, and others who dig the kind of fun, escapist, but culturally-empowered books we do. Lots of book stuff, but LOTS of fun, escapist pampering going on too. Planned by the Godmother of Chica Lit, Alisa Valdes Rodriguez.

I'll be on a panel or two during the Chica Lit Club weekend, and hanging out with the crowd. My fellow writers group friend, Reyna Grande, will be there too! And there will be some boys there too! Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Speaking of which... where do the boys go in Miami? Other than departing for a cruise, I've never been to Miami. Yeah, hard to believe, but true! Give me scoop. I've got a week to plan. Wait, aren't the Sizzle/Clik Magazine boys there?

Now tell me good places, fun places, cute boy places. Thanks my people!

Hot Monogomy

You may recall in February, a little entry I did called Let's Talk About Sex. The sex survey by my colleague and friend, Dr. Janet Lever.

Well, many of you participated. A record number of people! And the survey results are out. You might have seen stories on Today, or Extra, or something like that this week.

But if you missed the stories, you can catch the results here in Hot Monogamy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


You may or may not know this about me, but I have certain songs that totally inspire me. Make me happy. Make me feel good. Don't ask me why.

At the top of the list: Make It Happen. Mariah Carey.

Even though it's like almost 15 years old, every time I hear it (or rather play it, 'cause the radio ain't playing it anymore) I just feel happy and inspired to do whatever it is I think I can't do.

Other songs on my iTunes list, Inspire:

It's My Turn. Diana Ross.
God's Gift. Kelly Price and Jeff Majors.
I Hope You Dance. Lee Ann Womack.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Diana Ross.
This Time I Know It's For Real. Donna Summer.
I'll Praise His Name. Jennifer Holliday.
Happy. Crystal Waters.
Golden. Jill Scott.
King of Kings (He's A Wonder). Cece Winans.
Anything is Possible. Deborah (Debbie) Gibson. (yeah, Ms. Gibson)
Blessed, Broken, and Given. Cece Winans.
When You've Been Blessed. Patti LaBelle.
Up! Shania Twain.
The Question (Where Would I Be). Kindred the Family Soul. (Also on my Love list)
The Promise. Tracy Chapman. (Also on my Love list... one of the best love songs out there.)

Tell us, my friends. What songs INSPIRE you? We all want suggestions :-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fear. Immigrants. Confusion.

So when immigrants primarily looked like the folks in this picture, no one had an issue.


It's totally a race thing, even though people don't want to admit they have race issues. It's ok. We all do. We all have our secret discussions among friends or around the dinner table. But... we all are, or should, be working on thinking and being better in our opinions. And the concept of "race" isn't even real, if you ask most college professors of the ethnic studies or anthropology or sociology type. "Race" is totally created. A whole 'nother subject.

Once again, I am surprised and confused at the amount of hate and fear I'm hearing from fellow black folks on the issue of immigration. Front Page. Callers into Dominique DiPrima's show. My goodness. The patience one must have to do progressive talk radio.

Again, maybe it's just a SoCali thing... the hate and fear... because black folks are not the "majority-minority" anymore in SoCali. What a historical crown and prize to cling to. But whatever. We still have a decent amount of political and social pull, a critical mass of something, that can at least put our issues on the table. Something like that. Still trying to figure out the right word to describe. Maybe I'm off? I'm not above being reflective on my opinions.

It's conservative wedge politics at its best... immigration... much like the gay marriage wedge issue of 2004 that cost good people elections. A year ago, immigration wasn't on anyone's mind. Today, it's dividing folks... especially black and brown folks who really do need each other to make a difference in our communities. Because neither of our communities, as a whole, created or run the institutions that make the policies that affect our communities as a whole.

All I gotta say is think about it. Why are certain issues non-issues until they're convenient? It's an election year folks. Certain folks want to win elections because they can't do it based on what they've actually done, soooooooooo... They can do it by dividing folks and carving out new constituencies of voters who traditionally wouldn't think of jumping into the conservative band camp.


Put the thinking cap on and think about how the powers that be are trying to manipulate the masses with non-issues... when we've still got Iraq, poor kids being sent over to fight for oil, rising gas prices, crumbling public schools and roads, and corrupt people leading us at all levels of leadership. And those have nothing to do with new folks who want to come to the U.S. to be part of the "American Dream."

And for my SoCali friends... the majority of people we think are immigrants -- because in error people lump all people of Mexican descent into the immigrant category -- were actually born in the United States and actually speak English fluently. Another media myth some of us buy into. So... how does one look at or listen to someone and say they belong in the U.S. or not? Hmmm...

Write. PEN.

Word has it that PEN Emerging Voices is looking for a few good applicants for its 2006-07 cycle.

If you're looking for an opportunity to get your foot in the door, get mentored by respected published authors, get an small honorarium, and get support from a small community of writers like you, check out what the program has to offer.

Writers... in addition to PEN Emerging Voices, what are some other fellowship or emerging voices programs you'd recommend or that you've participated in? I'll put another one forth... VONA Writers of Color summer at University of San Francisco.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


And I'm not talking being torn and wasted on the floor after a night of reckless abandonment. Though... that is LONG overdue. Just kidding. I'm not like that... all the time.

Today is a Nina Simone on the iTunes day.

Writer friends told me this long before my first novel was published: The first novel you write for the fun of it; after you're published, your writing is influenced not by fun but business, readers, agents, etc... In other words people outside your head.

Writers... true or not?

Because I'm staring down a nice fall deadline for a new novel draft. And I've started several different novel projects, and unfinished several different novel projects. You should see the abandoned mineshaft that is my hard drive... of novels I've started and not finished. And at some pretty alarming page numbers... 123, 87, 111, etc...

My problem. I'm torn.

Part of me loves fun, escapist, yet culturally-empowered type writing and characters. Part of me loves the idea of writing something more serious, maybe along the literary side. Not that literary can't be fun. It can... and lots of folks are doing it.

Well, some. I know writers are always dividing themselves along the lines of fun and escapist versus reflective and I spend 3 months deciding on the right word to complete my sentence. Do you stay with your niche or think about mainstream? Peer or reader satisfaction? Awards or sales?


The thing is... I know my voice. So what's with all the questions? I'm just too darn reflective, I guess. But also wanted to let you writers who haven't finished your first novel yet... you are not alone in your process.

Writers... readers... are you torn?

Thursday, May 04, 2006


You gotta check out this show, N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK, if it travels to your part of the country. It's coming to Los Angeles later this month, May 19, Luckman Fine Arts Complex.

N*W*C is a critically-acclaimed and explosive comedy that charges into the dangerous territory of race in the United States. Developed from the actual life stories of its three cast members, the play weaves together ensemble and monologue work with slam poetry, stand-up comedy, and hip-hop.

It's an amazing show that helps young people -- and older too!-- dialogue about issues they don't get a lot of guidance on... racial slurs and stereotypes and how the words make people feel.

Stop at any bus stop after high school and you'll hear a whole lot of hurt being passed around. I don't know about you, but I just HATE hearing the N-word being used... whether it's in a hateful way or a way between friends. I just cringe and think about my grandparents' life experiences for some reason.

Anyway, check out the N*W*C website for more information.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Book Addiction

So I went to a great reading yesterday evening near my part of L.A.

Pico Rivera. Borders. Author, Alisa Valdes Rodriguez reading from her new novel Make Him Look Good. Pick this one up, along with any of her previous releases -- The Dirty Girls Social Club or Playing With Boys. You've done it already? Oh, okay. Cool. Oh, you haven't? Then get one this weekend. And read Alisa's blog too. You'll learn something new every day.

But of course with any bookstore visit, I can't just stop at one purchase. I bought two others, one of which is the latest by E. Lynn Harris, I Say A Little Prayer. So many good things to read coming out at the same time. And I've mentioned time and time again that E. Lynn Harris' first novel, Invisible Life, was the first novel I read that spoke to the issues I was having as a youngster. Anyhoo...

So I get free books sent to me a lot. But still... I just can't stop buying books. Better than most addictions. Still... I don't have the room and the pile of "to reads" is getting taller by the day next to my bed.


This is not a paid commercial or ad. But I love these products.

The room fresheners from Bath and Body Works. Better than a candle. Lingers longer than ordinary sprays. They really do refresh a room.

One of my new addictions. Just wish I could go through them fast enough so I can enjoy all the different scents I purchased recently. $5 a bottle.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Saigon Love Story

So my good friend Ringo Le is a filmmaker who is about to debut his first feature film. I wanted to share with you. Ringo is really cool, creative, and ready to make his mark in Hollywood.

Saigon Love Story
A visionary Vietnamese musical film that will take you on a journey into the heart of modern day Vietnam. The cast is comprised of Vietnam's most popular pop stars (Hua Vi Van, Ngo Thanh Van, Yen Vy, Duc Tien) and legendary actors from pre-war Vietnam (Nguyen ChanhTin, Kim Xuan, Thanh Hoai, Diem Kieu).

This uniquely original film is written and directed by Vietnamese American filmmaker, Ringo Le, combines two endearing forms of entertainment -- the musical and the melodrama!

If in L.A. over the weekend, the film will play at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatre as part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. And I'll be there to support my friend. It kinda sounds like a Moulin Rouge type film, which is one of my ALL TIME favorites.

Check out the website, send Ringo some love, and let's hope for more films from underrepresented communities to make it big in Hollywood.

Christmas in May

So I had a good weekend in the Midwest. Taking care of family things still. It's still so unbelievable to not have my father around physically anymore, but I feel his presence all the time. Weird.

But on another note, I also got to see some of the boys who came of age with me during the college years. Boys like us, highly involved on campus, good grades, trying to be the "safe" black guy on a predominantly white college campus. That's a whole 'nother story. Thank God I outgrew that phase. But I think you know what I mean.

Anyway, catching up with folks -- in person and after so many years -- is fun. You see how your lives and personalities have remained the same in many ways. And diverged in many others.

One way our lives have changed... well, maybe not changed, but it's definitely an interesting observation. The boys I caught up with are all dating Santa Claus. Well, not literally Santa Claus, but you know what I mean... you're smart... I think you do. Just look at the picture. Not the demographic we necessarily saw ourselves settling down with while in college back in the day.

Not a problem. Just interesting. Everyone's happy, loving, supportive. All that good stuff. I don't know where I'm going with this. But it's been on my mind all weekend. I'm not dating, nor have I dated, Santa Claus.

I know love is blind and kind and supportive and all that good stuff. Love comes when you're not looking for it. Yeah, I know.

I know about the dating drought, wondering if you're in the same boat as your straight female counterparts (where are ALL the good ______ dudes???), reading all the stats about our communities, feeling like you'll never find another YOU, etc... Still, I've never seen myself with Santa Claus, but maybe that's why I'm single. Perpetually single. Do I block love and possible dates with too many categories on my list? Geez... the perpetual list. I know you've got one too :-) What's on your list?

Anyway, do you ever wonder about the choices -- dating or otherwise -- friends you haven't seen in a while are making? Have your dating choices changed -- by choice or necessity -- due to your demographic changes, professional successes, or other factors?