Wednesday, April 16, 2008

5ive things.

Oh, reader! There are a million things that I've been dying to tell you.

Here are 5.

5. This blog has changed. If you haven't noticed, several entries have been removed. "Why?" you ask? Well, because this January, the aspiring Dr. Lyons began precepting at Princeton. And while I simply adore my students, I thought it would be prudent to excise those entries that delved too deeply into my personal relationships and erotic politics. [Quiet as it's kept, that's actually my favorite 1/3 of the blog.[*sigh*]

It's one of those measures that I knew I'd have to confront one day and, like clockwork, it came the moment I stepped into the classroom and realized how hopelessly google-able I am. Thing is -- if you've read this blog at all, you know that I'm happiest when I'm free to explore and expand my sex positivity. As it turns out, this self-censoring constitutes yet another grudging kowtow to the doctoral program's mandate for conservatism and delayed gratification. Another one bites the dust.

4. The new Gnarls Barkley album is sick. If you haven't heard, the dynamic duo's much-anticipated sophomore project "The Odd Couple" dropped last month and, for this music lover, it rivals erykah's "New Amerykah" for the superlative of "most exciting release of 2008" [thus far]. In fact, in a time of such ubiquitous mediocrity, an album as audacious and dynamic as this one suggests that there may be hope for the music industry afterall.

To this end, Ceelo is quickly becoming my favorite male artist of all time. Like Nina Simone, my favorite female artist of all time, Ceelo consistently pushes the envelope with his music. The dizzying arrangements, evocative lyrics and haunting vocal performances that have become his trademark are kicked into high gear by Danger Mouse's blend of lush instrumentation and avant garde hip-hop. What results is a blend of moody, high energy tracks that are wholly unafraid to be macabre, non-sensical, spiritual, raucus, introspective or self-deprecating. And I, for one, can dig that.

3. I want to think and write about urban fashion. A couple of weeks ago, a fairly preppy friend of mine asked what I thought about the skull-and-cross bones trend that's taken hold of urban fashion of late. My response: I totally understand why, in this particular sociopolitical climate, young black and latino men in urban areas would adorn themselves in images and icons evocative of piracy, corporeal decay and poisioning.

This response is the latest in an ongoing conversation that I've been having with myself about the relationships between black mens' encounters/engagements with various symptoms of our current economic collapse [i.e. the corporate co-optation of hip-hop, gentrification, unemployment, unaffordable health care] and the fashion trends that take hold in urban areas.

To that end, I want to think about the political implications of

  • sagging jeans [I'm interested in how jeans served as the sartorial touchstone of working class identity around the 1950s and how black men in urban areas might be thought to be reanimating its non-conformist politics... with a titillatingly homoerotic twist.]

  • oversized tee shirts [White tees look so much like nightgowns that I cannot resist the urge to read them as a Peter Pan-esque means of longing for a lost youth... a willful infantilization of sorts.]

  • bling culture [Not only am I interested in the gender-bending that occurs when men decorate every orafice and appendage with gaudy jewelry, but I'd also like to explore Gilles Deleuze's notions of the simulacrum's ability to serve as the avenue by which accepted ideals or “privileged position” could be challenged and overturned.]

  • the intersections of punk and thug [I live in Newark, NJ, where the thugs have taken to wearing skinny jeans and biker chains. It's a wonderful time and place to think about how these two subcultures draw upon the same modes of resistance and how that's made manifest in the current trends in urban fashion.

2. I am dissertating at last!

If all goes well, my dissertation project will examine the ways in which visual and literary narratives of White normativity manifest and function during two critical moments in the 20th century. In it, I aim to create a dialogue between select works of art and literary texts that help to reveal the operation and permutations of the White normative gaze during the 1920s-30s and the 1960s-70s, when certain sociopolitical phenomena worked to challenge and undermine the centrality of White identity in the United States.

Said slightly differently, the project will examine instances of methodological or conceptual congruence in how writers and artists managed (and created) narratives of white normativity and what all that had to do with what was going on in the American marketplace during the aforementioned decades.

If you have suggestions about what I should be reading,

1. April 9th marked by 27th birthday. I am officially grown and sexy. I plan to celebrate all month long, so feel free to send your birthday wishes and naughty little trinkets my way. The Aries man lives for the opportunity to celebrate himself, and dag nabit April is my opportunity.

If there are any other Aries folks out there with plans to take the NYC/NJ area by storm and paint the town crimson and scarlet, let a brutha know.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Birthday Wishes for Rashawn.

Today, April 15, 2008, would have been Rashawn Brazell’s 23rd birthday. Although he is no longer physically present to receive birthday wishes, the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund invites you to join us in sending prayers and positive energy to the Brazell family, who must face this occasion knowing that Rashawn’s killer has not yet been brought to justice.

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund works all year long to provide a sustainable tribute to Rashawn’s memory. If you’d like to know more about how we’re inspiring new generations of scholars and activists to combat racism, sexism and homophobia in their communities, visit today. On our donate page, you can make a tax-deductible contribution that will help us further our work of fostering diversity and creating change for New York City's LGBT people of color and their allies.

To receive the latest news about the ongoing murder investigation, the $1500 scholarship in Rashawn’s honor and other RBMF projects, you can subscribe to our mailing list by clicking here or by entering your email address in the “get connected today” box on our MySpace page.