WE ARE: 5 women navigating our twenties in search of peace, happiness and love (or not). WE WRITE: about everything and nothing. From the insane to the mundane- you will find different paths taken, lessons learned and lives lived. WE THINK: you’ll enjoy it...Warning: Consumption of these views may leave you enlightened while intoxicated.


The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wearing The Mask

Can someone please tell me how our ancestors were able to shuck and jive for white people on a daily basis? How they were able to give the illusion that they cared about Ms. Ann’s prolonged illness or Mr. Charlie’s dilemmas? Because I gotta tell you that this daily tap dance is getting harder and harder. I just don't know how much longer I can smile and nod and laugh at any more at these people’s aka my co-worker’s “jokes.” My jaw is starting to hurt...

First things first, I suck at idle chit chat (in general), the kind that you have with strangers sitting next to you on a plane, or banal banter with co-workers about the weather, your weekend, blah, blah, blah. I’m not one of those people who can just share who I am on a whim; pour out my life story in a two hour flight to Atlanta. And honestly, I don’t really care to hear the details of people’s personal lives. And yet somehow, there is something about my face, my charming personality that compels people to tell me all their business. And I get the feeling that they expect reciprocation…And dang it if they don’t keep prodding to get some kind of information from you…

At my last job, I worked at a small company where the majority of us were female, “minorities” and under 30. So a typical conversation usually went like this: “girl, come take a look at my myspace page…You see him, I used to mess with him at [Enter Your Favorite HBCU Here]…” I could handle that. We could bond over what spot we went to that weekend, the fact that we were working for a crazy person, dating drama…you know, anything you can find in a single girl’s handbook. And over a prolonged period of time, genuine friendships were made.

But now, I work with all white people who are married with kids, (or have significant others that they just have to talk about) and I have to hear about a sick baby, or a house remodeling project, or breast feeding/pumping issues (yes, why must I know this), or a home being taken over by critters, or that they had the most boring weekend ever, because once you have kids it’s all downhill after that. And I have to smile and nod, laugh at the appropriate places, volley a joke or a comment back to them, to keep this banter game going…And then they hit you with: So how was your weekend?

Le sigh and le groan. Oh how I wanna say, do you really wanna know white person? Do you really want me to share with you that for my homegirl’s birthday we went to see a contemporary go go band and that I got drunk as hell, or that I went to a Katt Williams show or a Jill Scott performance, or that I watched On Demand all Saturday and had my own The Wire marathon, or that I’m taking a writing class, trying to write a novel so that I never have to work for the man again? Because I really don’t feel like breaking some things down for you, having to explain to your blank stares when I mention an aspect from my life that you’ve never heard of or can’t relate to. Or coming to the mutual realization that we really have nothing in common. And I don’t appreciate that I tell one of y’all one simple, meaningless thing and the next thing I know the whole office knows! And yet you want me to bare my soul? Yeah, I’m not trying to give y’all any ‘did you hear the latest news about Rum Punch’ lunch time discussion fodder. And how the hell do I end up in y’alls conversations anyway?

Every time my co-workers come to me, asking me a personal question, I get this sense that they feel that it’s their mission to crack the Rum Punch code. And I give them just enough to quench their thirst, all the time remembering my mama taught me not to tell all my business to people, especially them. And I find myself walking that fine line that our people have had to walk for generations: being entertaining, giving up just enough information to keep them at bay, being a concerned listener, smiling hard so the mask doesn’t break…All the while trying to maintain my own sanity and peace of mind and wishing they would get the hell outta my office….

I can recall before I traveled abroad, the coordinator explaining to us that many foreigners weren’t as friendly as Americans, in the sense that they didn’t “believe” in instantaneous friendships, but thought they should develop in a more gradual manner. So when I got to Paris, it didn’t bother me that everyone didn’t smile at each other or start up random conversations on the train. I rather enjoyed it. Because in reality you can’t be friends with everybody, and definitely not in the first five minutes. You don’t need to learn all the details about someone’s life for your own personal pleasure or satisfaction. And just because we spend 8 hours together does not mean that I have to provide you with my family history and constantly share my hopes, feelings and darkest fears. But that’s not the reality I’m dealing with.

I am dealing with folk who get upset when I don’t come visit them for a daily chat, who want to see my face more, who want me to tell them some more stories so they can “figure me out.” So everyday, I have to pick a time to make my rounds and visit my co-workers, to appease them, to not appear like the anti-social Black person, to allay their ‘does she like us’ concerns, to make them feel good about themselves. It’s a struggle for me because I know that it’s disingenuous on both parts…let’s not play ourselves… But I also know that this is how the game is played. So with a sigh in my soul, I grin and bear it and put on my mask. But um, it’s starting to crack…

That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

songs of my life

there once was this boondocks comic strip (old school style in the paper, way before the tv show) where Huey and Riley (i think) are sitting outside and imagining what they would say about that moment if Huey was the subject of an a&e biography episode. pure hilarity...i wish i could find it online but no luck. (Picture at right: Courtesy of Sony)

anyway i really loved that day's strip. that's how I kinda think about my life in my head as it's happening like if this were behind the music or an E! true hollywood story on mint julep...what would the voice-over being saying about this particular momen in my life? more importantly what background music would they play? for i love music from neo-soul (don't all educated black folks), to marching bands to pop stars to gospel artists. If it resonates with me, I will bump that shit no matter how wack people think t-pain is or if you never heard of jazzmine sullivan. I love it and I don't care what others think about it.

As I look back over my life (and i think things over, i can truly say that I been blessed...) Lol see. but yea as I rewind my behind the music episode in my head I can think of a couple key songs that would mark some pivotal moments....

#5 - My First Love, Keep the Faith, Faith Evans

He was tall dark and handsome, the popular guy to her shy quiet girl yet her crush on him was undeniable. she had been working up the nerve to say something to him beyond hello and goodbye for a while. and then she got her opportunity to take a leap of faith. one day after school, he asked her for a ride home and she said yes. as they rode that short 15 minute ride to his house she got an idea. she skipped ahead on the mixed cd she'd made of her favorite tunes to track number 5. maybe he'd get the message without her having to even say a word...

# 1-13 - The Whole Damn Album, Voodoo, D'Angelo

mint julep stood on the train platform anxiously awaiting the westbound marta train. Having finished what at the time she thought was a grueling day at her little part time job. If only she knew the 12 to 14 hour days she would be putting in some 6 or 7 years later. yet and still she was ready to get back to campus so she could pop in the new d'angelo cd burning a whole in her pocket. she'd already ripped the plastic wrapper away, popped open the case and devoured the liner notes. an instant classic....

#6 - Faith, This is Me, Kierra KiKi Sheard

It was her first bar exam but it would undoubtedly not be her last. yet to mint julep this was the day that she had prepared for and she had to step up. the morning's session went suprisingly well and despite the warnings from previous bar takers about not leaving the testing site, she trekked across the parking lot to sit in her car for a few precious moments. not to cram another morsel into her brain. but to relish in the fact that it would all be over soon. on a whim she decided to drive over to the chic-fil-a down the road for a chicken sandwich and some waffle fries. little did she know that her supposedly reliable volvo had other plans. after she whisked through the drive thru and was heading back to the convention center disaster struck. her car began to sputter on the brink of breakdown death. mint julep's heart began to raise, her palms turned sweaty and she wondered aloud, oh God, please let me make it back. all over some damn fries...

those are just a few of the songs of my life, and damn you blogger for not allowing me to share the actual audio clips. but alas these album covers will have to do. what are the songs of your life?

boooo blogger booooo

blogger is blowing me right now. having trouble posting songs (my own mp3's) on today's post. anybody got any ideas or helpful hints, hit me in the comments....

stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's March Madness. . . test your mettle

The 2008 Democratic campaign demonstrates the peculiarness of the 2008 presidential campaign. How many times can a Comeback Kid -- Clinton (of course) comeback and not undermine the meaning? Does this demonstrate the tenacity of the Clinton campaign? She's won all the big states except Illinois.

Is it an indication that she is a flawed candidate which means bestowing the Democratic nomination comes with inherent risk?

What does this all mean for Barack?

Nothing -- if you're asking me--last night does not change the dynamics of the race. It's tough.

He is playing his strategy well. No one said this would be a cakewalk, and it shouldn't be. He has accrued the most delegates and is leading in the popular vote -- which is no easy feat - remember Hillary was the presumed candidate a year ago (WOW -- dynamics of a year).

At this point, neither candidate will have met the delegate threshold required to cinch the Democratic nomination. Let's not forget about the superdelegates, either way you slice the pie -- it's a mess. The punditocracy is attempting to make sense of the madness. You can bet, Democratic strategists are trying to find a solution to their party's problem but the math just doesn't add up!

Deja vu - seems more and more like a reality.
And you ask how do I know this stuff -- I just do!

I will give you the foresight needed to adequately analyze what happened yesterday. If the Democratic nomination extends to the summer it does not bode well for the Democratic Party. John McCain cemented his fate as the defacto Republican presidential nominee. From here on out he has 8 months (March - October) to "circle the wagons" collect enormous sums of money, the Political Action Committees (PACs) can fine-tune his message and share with the masses; thereby giving the GOP a strategic advantage. In other words, the Dems don't have time to watch this spectacle -- someone must concede. However, they must also let their democratic process play it self out. And possibly get played in November -- what a shame!

So, I'm going to drop some equations and I want you guys to do math.
  1. Since Barack has failed to eclipse Hillary in die-hard blue states outside of his state Illinois, is it plausible to think that if he is chosen as the Democratic nominee he can win California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Ohio in the general election?
  2. Which of the party bases can the Democratic Party afford to disgruntle and win -- not so fast -- before you answer consider the Democratic Party has never won the general election without the black vote, past victors of presidential elections were victors of the partys' presidential primaries in the Buckeye state (Ohio)?
  3. Is the energized Democratic base impartial to Barack's candidacy or does the energy stem from their disaffection with the Bush administration?

Bonus question: Could a combination ticket with both candidates bolster the Democratic Party chances in winning in November?

Superbonus: Who would lead the ticket?



Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Wire Tap

Saturday night I found myself at a potluck dinner and part of a discussion with a few twenty and thirty-somethings about religion and politics. A great time was had as we ate our Popeye’s chicken and volleyed the Bracky O ball across the table. One dude was a DIE.HARD Obama supporter. He told us he was writing donation checks and how he had collected all of Bracky’s buttons, bumper stickers and t-shirts and was hording them for future antiquity. He was practically losing his breath, and his mind trying to convince many that Obama is a true giant and not, as I tend to think, a giant among midgets. I found a lot of what this man said interesting but most striking was his sincere hope and belief that Bracky was going to come into office, switch the game up and take down the current system Americana. “Oh, please sir” I said, “Haven’t you ever watched The Wire?” His reply, “Why does everyone talk about The Wire?” Ummmm. What?!

Because it’s truth...
Because it shows there’s stuff going on that the public doesn’t know…
Because it shows that there are rules to this sh*t, someone wrote a manual, a step-by-step booklet (Biggie!)

Do ya’ll remember D.A.R.E? A program that was part of the war the government waged on-well scratch that-is still waging on drugs? I remember “Just Say No” and my T-shirt…and that’s about it. More vividly, I remember friends who found themselves puff-puff giving and experimenting with cocaine. Now what happens on the streets of The Wire? The cops pursue drug czars and their soldiers year after year under the banner of this war on drugs. Some victories are made, sure-but they are still fighting. Why? Because there is a system in the production and distribution of drugs. And because cities like Baltimore breed social, economic and political systems that feed off of desires for money, power, and respect (the keys to life) by any means necessary. And just because daddy is dead or gone doesn’t mean the kids aren’t going to find a way to eat. Get that bread. Stack that paper. Keep that vicious cycle spinning. No matter what, that torch will be carried by another.

And the
War on Terror? Please! Mission accomplished? Okay, consider the American public officially distracted from what is really going on. If I wasn’t being gouged by taxes I would get a few key people in the Fed The Wire seasons 1-4 on DVD so they could understand their losing battles. What are we going to do (looking at you Bubba in Middle America)? Lock up entire nations to stay safe? We’ve been told that we can win the wars on homelessness, poverty, hunger, terror and drugs. But how can we when these enemies use guerilla warfare while we follow our strategic playbooks? I’m thinking win is too strong of a word, ebb might be more accurate. And are these fighting patriotic messages sent to lead us to believe that we are being taken care of so that we all don’t take to the streets and demand change? Because clearly, these systems (at least on The Wire) can stop one or maybe a few folks…but a movement? A revolution?

Hmmmmm. Maybe I’m crazy.

I will say that I like hoping for change even though I’m becoming more cynical lately. I think Orwell's "1984" is a must read for everyone, "Animal Farm" is pretty good too. I’m planning on enjoying the last episode of The Wire. Then I’m going to hope for more change. And then I’m going to wage my war on Coffee! I can’t stand my coworkers' coffee breath! Anyone else with me? My first step will be to throw a fit in a Starbucks. Get all up in the face of a barista about their pricing. Then go on to the next shop. Afterwards, I’m going to hope for change some more. Maybe give a rousing speech on the ills of Coffee and benefits of tea. I'll get folks inspired and riled, without saying much or disclosing that I drink coffee on occasion. Oh yes, I believe I can take Coffee down one tall latte at a time! I’ll let ya'll know when my mission is accomplished!

See You in Seven

Monday, March 3, 2008

Three Ways to Get a Husband While Singing In the Comeback Choir

One of my homegirls called me last week elated because she won something on the radio for the very first time. Her prize: two tickets to Tyler Perry’s latest theatrical production, The Marriage Counselor. My first thought was, “I hope she does not invite me.” Isn’t that terrible? I cannot help but get a bad taste in my mouth when I start to think about being an audience member of the latest chitlin’ circuit performance. And yet there is also a tiny voice in my head telling me I’m wrong for harboring negative feelings about such products of hard work and testaments of success of the people in my community.

We all know Tyler Perry’s bio by now. The brother was living out of his car at one point and damn near went broke trying to stage his first play. His second play, Woman Thou Art Loosed, grossed over $5 million in five months. According to Entertainment Weekly, Perry averaged a little over $21 million per opening weekend for each of his last four box office smashes. And he is not alone in his conquest of the afro-thespian market. David E. Talbert, Je’Caryous Johnson, and Gary Guidry join him in the ranks. And I cannot speak on this subject without mentioning Mr. Shelly Garrett of the forever infamous Beauty Shop.

I love an inspirational story as much as the next person. But these plays all follow the same formula for every script:
  • Characters: Main Character (MC); MC’s love interest; mother/big mama/other black woman who raised MC (must wear big wig, housecoat, and DD-sized sagging breasts); next door neighbor or co-worker who is also close friend & confidant; lover from the past who reappears after years of absence & still in love with MC; the bad seed/vindictive tramp/adulterous deacon from the church.
  • At least four musical numbers. One must be a love ballad and one a moral dilemma.
  • Stirring gospel rendition that brings the audience to their feet is a given.
  • Starring actors and singers who are very talented but been out of work for a few months. Leon, Kelly Price, Tamela & David Mann, Billy Dee Williams, Morris Chestnut, and Richard Roundtree are some of the usual suspects.

And you know church groups from all over plan a day trip out around the productions. Their charter buses be lined up outside the theater with signs on the front windows that read “First Rising Mount Zion Baptist”, “Mosley A.M.E.”, and “Sacred Hearts Soul Redemption Temple”. After the play, they board the bus and head to Golden Corral, Crate & Barrel, or Shoney's.

Knowing that my people are the writers, directors, musical directors, choreographers, and production crew makes me very proud. But are all of our stories about heartache, inability to find a good wo/man, and learning to love the Lord? For every Talbert or Perry, where are the aspiring black playwrights to continue the legacies of Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Goerge C. Wolfe, and Suzan-Lori Parks?

I don't think it would bother me so much if similar productions existed within other ethnic communities.

Have you ever heard of:

  • Mom, I'm marrying a black man, starring Margaret Cho?
  • Papi, te amo!, starring Cheech Marin?
  • Where is my Mazal Tov?, starring Mayim Bialik and Mindy Cohn?


I fear that we are type casting ourselves. Pigeon-holing each other. Creating stereotypical roles and masterfully portraying them to a T. I'm almost afraid to say it but, in the words of Granny 'Retto, shuckin' and jivin'.

Some may think that's a stretch but I doubt it. Who better than black folk to properly portray us to the rest of the world? The chitlin' circuit played a very significant role in our history. Once upon a time, there were limited venues that would allow black entertainers inside their doors. Today it is nothing to see brown faces, on stage and in the house, at the Kennedy Center, Kodak Theatre, and Broadway. Those doors have been opened to us and the sky is the limit.

So why do we still have tunnel vision?

Tunnels lead the way underground. It's time to rise above.

I'm sure Hattie McDaniel is turning in her grave.

Tumultuously Yours,

Dark & Stormy