Monday, January 17, 2011

Man Candy: Diary of a Young Black Man

I usually post man candy for the man and the body. This man, however, has won my heart. He is a brilliant mind who makes people see the world for what it is but also makes you look at it for how we can all make it better. If you haven't seen his movies or stage plays, you are missing out. They have a fantastic message. Without further ado, I give you, Emmit Perry Jr., aka Tyler Perry.

As a teen, Emmit changed his legal name to Tyler to distance himself from his abusive father.
Tyler did not graduate high school but did obtain his GED.
In his early 20's Tyler was watching an episode of The Oprah Winfrey's Show and he heard a writter speak of how theraputic writing can be for someone who has had a rough road in their life.
AND he is sexy as hell!
I love the side by side comparison of the real Tyler Perry and his alter ego, Madea.
This inspired a series of letter to himself about his abusive childhood and the things he had endured. This was the start of his stage show I Know I've Been Changed.
It was not until 1999's stage show, The Diary of a Mad Black Woman, that Tyler found himself on the national map of television, stage and movies.
Tyler was one of the first people to view the movie "Precious" and he was so moved by the story that he enlisted the help of Oprah Winfrey to promote the movie, which he had no interest in.
The movie Precious also inspired Tyler to speak of being molested himself as a child.
Old Uncle Joe, a character played by Tyler in his movies, is an old stoner who lives with his sister Madea, who is also portrayed by Tyler Perry.
From that to this hot black man.
The character Madea is said to be a mixture of Tyler's mother and grandmother. The name Madea comes from a term in the black community, mother dear. This term is used to referrence a mother or grandmother.
Tyler Perry is single as of the close of 2010. Some say he is gay. I would still marry him.
Tyler is an ispiration to many. His message is clear and positive. He is one of my heros.

"Girl, I will set it off up in here. She don't know me. You better be glad you at church. Jesus just saved your life, Hallelu-yer!"- Madea

The Bitch is BACK

Wow, it has been so long that I do not know where to start. Between the stresses of life and honestly not really trusting certain people in it, I had to step away from blogging. However, I am back and ready to unload. I found in my inner search that sometimes I was blogging for others or holding back on my blogs because of others. That will no longer be the case here at Craw Digger. I started this blog as a way for me to vent my thoughts and feelings. I will continue to do that but in a much more honest way. I will not hold back for the sake of someone else’s feelings. This may sound harsh but this blog is for me. I don’t make any money off of it and I don’t write it for anyone but me so I need to be true to that. I know I said this before but I was not ready at that time. I am ready now. So let’s get started catching up.

Work:

My job is going really well. I was hired on from temp to perm on October 1st. I got a raise, full benefits and a laptop that allows me to work from home up to 4 days a month. I love working from home. I can stay in my jammies all day and watch daytime smut television. My boss has been a different person since I was hired on. I am not sure if I just needed to prove myself to her or what but she is a new woman and I am appreciating that. I am lucky to have found such a great company and good people.

School:

I took two classes in the fall semester, Intro to Criminal Justice and Intro to Politics. I loved my CJ instructor. He was an extremely attractive black man who is a criminal defense attorney in St. Louis. We had an obvious flirtation with one another that even other classmates picked up on. There was an 80 year old man in that class who takes one class per semester to stay young. He got his degree in the 60’s and graduated high school 60 years ago. It was awesome to have 18 year old fresh out of high school sitting next to an 80 year old man. I really enjoyed that class. My politics class was only 8 weeks long. My instructor was a City Attorney in Clayton. He did not like our book or follow it so I did not buy it. I attended 6 classes and when I arrived for the 7th class and final review he told me that I had over 100% in the class and he was excusing me from our final. There were 3 other people in the class that basically tested out. Our grade was the curve that he graded on so we were good to go. Seven weeks of class, no book and I still got an ‘A’. I would be lying to say that I was not damn proud. School starts up again this week. I have my first on-line class and another one that I have to go to campus for. Unless I can start saving now for summer I don’t think I will have the money to attend as I did not borrow enough at the start of the year. You live and learn on these things and I have certainly done both.

Home:

Honestly, my home life sucks. I can’t deal with the lack of discipline or the obnoxiousness that lives in my house. I love that I have my own basement abode but it doesn’t help when the TV upstairs is loud enough for my deaf Uncle Ray to hear. The kids have no discipline. I have seen their grandmother and my roommate’s girlfriend be physically assaulted on many occasions. You would not believe how they speak to adults. Everyone seems to think it is easier to let them be crazy than to discipline them. I am curious to see how that will work when they are 18. I digress, it is not my problem. There is a poor dog that is part of all of this crazy that is not taken care of. He has basically become my dog and because of the way he is mistreated here, I will probably take him when I go. I have seen actual and outright abuse of the animal which caused me massive stress and anxiety. Not to mention how it has changed my opinion of the people in this house. My roommate does about 50 loads of laundry a week which requires him to constantly come stomping down into my space. My Bo dog hates him (barking, growling, don’t-mess-with-my-mom type anger). I am sure he has witnessed the abuse of the other dog. I question whether he has hurt my dog when I am gone but roommate is very afraid of Bo (with good reason) and I am pretty sure Bo would take a piece of him. The kids are here every other week and the week that they are gone, my roommate is mostly gone. That is the only thing that has kept me here and sane. My plan is to move with my sister and her wife, if they are able to buy a house in the next few months. If not, I have got to get out and get my own place. This situation worked out for both of us when we both really needed it. It is time for me to go now. I just hope I can make it out before we have major issues.

Friends:

I have been quite a loner lately. I have a few good friends that I hang with. I have been skipping going out and partying so I can save money for my move. I have rid my life of a few toxic people this year and I cannot explain the load that was lifted. Someone can be a good person but not be good for you. Others can portray themselves as good people, all the while stabbing you in the back, lying and manipulating you and their loved ones. I have learned a lot about myself and those around me this past year. I was allowing so many people to taint my world without even recognizing it. I also realized how lucky I am to have solid friends. I have had Manda in my life for 32 years now, our entire lives she has been my friend. How many people have that? People that I thought were lifelong friends also proved themselves not to be. Once I opened my eyes to who they truly were, I was able to see the phony in it all. Looking back, those people should have been cut out of my life when I left my ex fiancé in 2000 and they not only continued to hang out and drug up with him but to judge me for trying to be more and be better for myself. I am kicking myself for being supportive of certain people to the point of sacrificing my own beliefs, only to be stabbed in the back. It makes me angry to think of the things that I supported, only to have them turn their backs on me. Again, you live and learn, and I have certainly done lots of both this year. I am not angry or bitter but I am choosing more wisely. I would rather have 2 true friends than 10 backstabbers.

Life:

2011 has started with a bang already. My friend Courtney is getting married in Vegas in early February and because of my imminent and pending move, I told her I could not go. She just got engaged a few months ago and planned the wedding for less than 3 months later so that did not leave me time to save. Long story short, Court really wants me there so she offered to cover my flight. She paid for her whole family and was not taking no for an answer. Court is a photographer and the casino does not give a great picture package so I agreed to take her wedding photos in exchange for my airfare. I have never been to Vegas so this is all very exciting. I am rooming with a friend of Court’s to save funds. We will only be there for the weekend and with the wedding, I won’t have much time to see the town but I plan on doing it up to the best of my ability. I am pretty sure that I will not sleep in the town that never sleeps.

Just before Christmas my sister also let the cat out of the bag that she bought tickets to Lady Gaga in Chicago at the end of February. She is taking her wife and me as our Christmas present. We are staying at the Hard Rock Chicago. This is all just another reason to save. I am super excited to see the Lady and get to Chicago again but I really wanted to be moved by March and all of this vacationing is putting a crimp in my plan. I can’t complain. I am getting a free trip to Vegas and Chicago all in the same month! My best friend in Colorado is pregnant with baby number 2. She is due in early March so I will have to make my way West by summer to see our new addition. Again, no complaining, she lives in a mountain resort type home so I will be fine. It is a lot of travel in a short period but I will survive.

Love:

No love life. No dating. No sex. Nothing. It has been nice to take some time for me after the demise of my last horrible relationship but I am ready to start dating again. Perhaps I am just ready to get laid, who knows? I am not sure if I can do the internet thing but I think I am going to try. Men do not approach women in bars or anywhere really because it is easier to hide behind a computer. I really just want to get back into the groove. I am working on changing my attitude because I have been in the single girl mindset for a while. I would love to meet someone to go out and have fun with; someone who can read and write. Perhaps he would have a good job, maybe a house of his own. Preferably he will be an orphaned deaf mute, lol, I kid. I would appreciate an animal lover, who is respectful and kind to all people. I know he is out there so I guess I had better start looking.

I think that is it for my personal update. There are many issues that I have to catch up on. Since I have been away Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, which we all know that I love. A crazed mass gunman killed 6 people in Arizona and woke the nation up to the crazy that surrounds us, once again. The West Borough Baptist Church’s 3 protesters were run out of town last week by mothers of fallen soldiers and veterans. All kinds of things that have been in my craw will be released soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer 2010: Sociology

Sociology was from 6-9:30 every Tuesday and Thursday. That gave me 30 minutes drive time and 30 minutes to study. We took 2 test and I got 100% on both. The final was cumulative and again, I didn't track down my grade but I got an A in the class so another score.

Sociology was so intriguing to me as I love different cultures and ways of life. Socioeconomic patterns are really common sense, as was most of what we learned, but the CLASS itself was so engaging. We did an excersise in social mobility that I loved. It basically gave characteristics of people who were born into one socioeconomic level but where able to move up or down the social ladder depending on things they are exposed to in their childhood. Here are a few things that I found interesting for you mama’s out there.

Things that help you to move up the social ladder:

Both parents in the home until age of 18

One or more parents has graduated college

More than 40 books in your home

Going to the art museum or zoo with parent or guardian (not school event)

Travel outside of the US before the age of 18

If one or more of your immediate family members is a Dr, lawyer or executive

If your parents are willing to contribute significantly to your college education

Things that work against you in social mobility:

If you were raised in a rented apartment or house

If you were raised in a single parent home

If one or more persons in your immediate family are in jail or prison

If one or both parents did not graduate high school

I thought they were all interesting things that we don’t necessarily think about. It certainly gave me a lot of insight into my own life and made me think about how I would raise my own family, should I choose to have one. I met some super cool people and it felt like as soon as we got into the groove it was over. I LOVED summer school!

Pamela Suzette Grier

I first came to know Pam Grier in 2004. She portrayed Kit, the headstrong older sister of one of the main characters in the Show Time series The L Word. I was shocked to find out that Pam Grier was not only the first female African American action hero but that she played the iconic roll of Foxy Brown as well. I dressed up as Foxy Brown four years ago for Halloween. I researched the character for her attitude and wardrobe never realizing it was Pam Grier that played her. That is why I chose Pam Grier as my African American actress to research.

Pam was born May 26, 1949 in Winston Salem North Carolina. Her mother was a homemaker as well as a nurse. Her father was an airplane mechanic in the United States Air force. Pam’s military family relocated often with their assignments occasionally taking them overseas. Pam spent many of the first five years of her life in England. At the age of six, Pam was left unattended at a relative’s house and she was raped by two older boys. This was the beginning of the devastating abuse that Pam would suffer in her life. At the age of 16, Pam was date raped. This event caused her to downplay her beautiful looks for years to come.


The Grier family eventually settled in Denver, Colorado where Pam finished high school. The family experienced great racial strain during this time period. She was not popular in school and had a very hard time finding a date to the prom. She was a survivor deep down and she forged ahead. During high school Pam performed in a few stage productions. She eventually entered a Denver beauty contest in the hopes of winning the cash prize and securing enough funds to put her through college. Pam did not win the contest but she did come in second place. There was a Hollywood talent scout at the beauty contest who approached Pam and made an offer for her to come to Hollywood. After finishing college, and at the urging of her mother to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Pam headed for LA in 1967.


Pam’s idea of her future was a job in the medical field, helping other people. When Pam’s boyfriend at the time was killed in Vietnam she turned to acting as a way to release the grief and frustration that she was feeling over the death of her love. Pam landed a few stage rolls but she was not an instant success. Pam took a job as a receptionist at American International Pictures to pay the bills. It was there that she was discovered by director Jack Hill. Jack had a deep respect for women and the power that he felt that they held within. He was making a series of women’s prison movies and he cast Pam in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), The Big Doll House (1971), Women in Cages (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972). This was the the Blaxploitation era and these violent and sometimes sadistic films put Pam Grier on the map.

In 1973, Pam played the lead character Coffy in a movie of the same name. Pam says today that the character of Coffy came from Pam’s image of her aunt on her mother’s side who was a strong, independent black woman. Coffy is out to avenge the people who got her sister hooked on drugs. She is a badass chick with a gun that does not one time need a man to come and save her. Coffy was one of the few images of a strong black woman for the young girls of that time period. Also in 1973, Pam starred in Scream Blacula Scream which was met with mixed reviews.

In 1974, Pam’s breakthrough roll, and the one she is most known for today was released. She played Foxy Brown, a jive talking African American woman with a gun. Not such a stretch from her other rolls. Foxy is a woman seeking revenge after her government agent boyfriend is gunned down. Foxy experiences being drugged and violently raped in this movie and seeks her revenge in a way that, in today’s times, may have been edited out of the final cut of the film. Pam was portraying strong black women before this country understood that there was such a thing or that they had a place in society. I am amazed that after the sexual abuse that Pam herself experienced, she was able to act out very graphic rape scenes in her movies. Pam had no idea at the time the impact that her performance of Foxy Brown, and others, would have on her life as well as the entire African American community.



In 1975, Pam starred in Sheba Baby, Bucktown and Friday Foster. She did just one movie in 1976 and she began to fall off from there. Pam was losing interest in what she felt was a repeat of the same as kicking female lead. She seriously questioned in her mind at this point if acting was really her passion and she decided to work less. She accepted small rolls in TV and Miniseries. In the 1980’s Pam did a few guest star rolls on The Cosby Show, Miami Vice and Night Court. Pam was not heard from much during this time.

In 1997, Quentin Tarantino, resurrected the career of Pam Grier when he offered her a starring role in his third film, Jackie Brown. Tarantino was a huge fan of Foxy Brown and wanted Pam to play a modern version of her sexy alter ego. Tarantino knew what he was doing when he cast Pam alongside box office powerhouse, Samuel L. Jackson. Pam proved herself to be just as sexy in middle age and she began her comeback to entertainment. After the release of Jackie Brown, Pam was offered many rolls including guest appearances, recurring characters and supporting roles.

During the press tour to promote Jackie Brown, Pam admitted to having been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer in 1988 and being given 18 months to live. Pam credits her Cancer diagnoses for making her see the important things in life and living to the fullest every day. Pam moved to a 100 acre ranch in Colorado where she rescues dogs and horses. She is a private woman who prefers the quiet of the country as opposed to the big city life. Pam seems like the type of woman that anyone could be friends with. She has lived a fascinating life and has given much back to the community.

In one of her most recent rolls, from 2004 to 2009, Pam played the straight bar owning older sister of one of the main lesbian characters on The L Word. Pam’s character, Kit, is a strong, independent black woman who struggles with her mixed race, her role as a woman in society and her sexuality. Pam is a huge supporter of gay rights as well as civil rights so the roll seems to come naturally to her. I read a lot of interviews, movie reviews and eventually went to buy Pam’s book, Foxy: My Life in 3 Acts, as research for this paper. I am now fascinated with Pam Grier and I will probably eventually see every movie she ever made. There are so many parallels between Pam’s character choices and my life. Reading about Pam personally made me see that she accepted those roles for a reason. Most of her characters did mimic her own life in some way.

Pam has been romantically linked over the years to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Comedian Richard Pryor, Freddie Prinze and, most recently, Hempel from 2000-2008. Although she never married, Pam says she still dreams of her prefect wedding. Over the course of her career, Pam has been nominated and awarded many NAACP image awards for numerous rolls. For Jackie Brown alone, she was nominated for 10 awards. Most notably, the SAG Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe, also for Best Actress. Pam was even nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her part in an animated show Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for every child. Pam has clearly made her place in history as one of the pioneers for African American women, not just in film but also in real life. Pam had to have known that the movies that she did were racy for the time period. She had to understand that they would be met with resistance. She accepted those rolls anyway. She accepted them, she researched them and she performed them with gusto. Pam Grier is looked back on today as a living icon and a legend, as she should be.




Summer 2010: Blacks in the History of Cinema

My Monday night class was Blacks in the History of Cinema from 5:30-8. We only met 5 times over a 6 week period (4th of July we were off) so there was a lot to cram in. There could not have been a more perfect class to take the same semester as Sociology. I learned so much about Black History from this class. I had to watch an old black musical so I chose Carmen Jones, starring Dorothy Dandridge. I had never seen her work and I can see now why they called her the black Marilyn Monroe. She was hot and super risqué for her time. We also watched Birth of a Nation, which was one of the first films ever. Black people were portrayed by white men in black face, even the traditional Mamie roles.


I had to watch a film from the Blaxploitation Era, which was basically when black people started to stand up and make films about defying the white man. I chose the first Blaxploitation film, Sweet Sweet Back’s Baad Assss Song. It was the first motion picture where a soundtrack was used to promote the film. This was another genius invention that the black community gets no credit for. Sweet Back is basically a porno, written, directed and starring Marvin Van Peebles (father of Mario, who has a short and disturbing cameo). The film was silently financed by Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. Van Peebles actually contracted Gonorrhea during filming because they did not simulate sex but actually shot live and very real sex scenes. Van Peebles sued the Motion Picture Association and workman’s comp for his STD and won enough money to finance another movie.


I had to choose a Sidney Poitier film to review. I chose To Sir with Love. Poitier plays a recently graduated engineer major who wants to teach. When he can’t find a job in his field of study, he takes a job at an England high school for troubled white teens. This film was the introduction of the singer Lulu, who sings the hit To Sir with Love. Portier plays an excellent role of overcoming the adversity of the troubled children as well as race barriers that still exist. The film was made in the 1950’s and while it seems a bit slow at first, the story line is quality.


I loved the black history of this class. I was the only white person which only bothered me the first day because someone was rather prejudice. I got over that and the rest of the class was great. I was the only person who had ever read Roots in the class. When they started bashing Sidney Poitier for not “representing” the black community I felt the need to defend him. I read The Portrait of a Man, Poitier’s autobiography and his story is amazing. He is from a Bahamian island where he grew up with no running water or electricity. He barely spoke the language when he came to the US. He did not experience racial prejudice or stereotyping as a child so he did not understand the anger at the white man. He also did not understand, until years later, why so many people thought he could have and should have done more. By the end of class, my opinion was very respected by my peers and that made me feel awesome.


Our final was to write a 5 page paper on a black actor, actress or film maker. I chose Pam Grier, aka Foxy Brown. I knew Pam as the older, straight sister of Bette, from the L Word. Even though I dressed as Foxy Brown for Halloween one year, I had no idea that Pam Grier played the iconic role. She was the first black female in an action movie. In the 1970’s she made more than 10 bad ass black chick films. Her story is amazing and she is and is a truly iconic figure that goes pretty unrecognized.

I got a 100% on all of my reviews and papers. We didn't get our final project grade back but I got an A in the class so I am happy. I will post my Pam Grier paper for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and me dressed as Foxy Brown below...


Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

RIP Grillmeister

The world lost a great man this week. He was a great floating buddy, a grillmeister supreme and an outstanding person, husband and friend. My buddy, Rich Bruer, kissed his wife goodbye last Friday and headed off to work. He e-mailed with her that morning discussing the Friday night plan. He took his lunch break and walked around downtown St. Louis. Somewhere along the way he had a massive heart attack and died. Just like that. He was only 44 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Kathryn, who is just a fantastic lady. They had no children but many, many loving friends. It was a good lesson in how short and precious life is. Leigh always used to say that you should tell everyone that you love them before you leave, always. You never know when will be the last time that you see them. I wonder sometimes if she knew how young she would die. I was remembering back to the last float trip. I thanked Rich and Kathryn for getting us all together (and for Rich's expertise on the grill), I told them I couldn't wait until next time and as I closed my car door I said, "love you guys". That was the last time I saw Rich alive.

If you know me, I have probably told you that I love you, because I do. I have many friends who, to this day, are taken aback when I say it. Losing a friend like Rich reminds me of why I do it. It may seem ridiculous or trivial to you but I smile when I look back and remember those final moments of love between us. I feel lucky and blessed for each and every person in my life. I want you to know, no matter what, that I have love in my heart for you. None of us know when our number will be up. If I am remembered as the girl that always said ‘I Love You’, I am ok with that.


I had not seen Rich and Kathryn in years. I am sad to say that I had not seen any of the old floating buddies until we were all brought together by this horrible tragedy. We vowed to float again, to get together and talk. We let ourselves lose touch and then we lost one of our own. Our friend, Rebel Sarah, who floats with us called it “a sin and a shame” if this doesn’t bring us back together. The Rebel is right. We owe it to ourselves and Rich and Kathryn to never be pulled so far apart again.


It is amazing the bond that is formed by a few weekends in the wilderness together. I feel like these people are my family. It felt good to rally for Kathryn. She was full of strength and grace, even in the worst hour of her life. She made the decision the day that Rich died that we would celebrate his life, not mourn his death. Rich was a laid back, peaceful and earthy soul. Kathryn is his opposite. Despite that fact, I am proud to say that Kathryn buried Rich the way that he would have wanted. He had on his shorts, tank top and hat in the casket. In his hands were his sunglasses (which he always wore) and cigars (which he loved to smoke). Some people would call that tacky, I call it a tribute. Rest in peace, Grillmeister, you are loved and missed by many.