"I wish E-40 liked me"


I wish E-40 liked me, too.
firebreath613: (realshirley)
My story is the cover of Datebook.

"Mistah F.A.B.: Hyphy rapper uses his star power to better Oakland," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 22, 2006


My purse was stolen last night.

That's all.
Please, step over the dead body

My beloved cousin Carl [livejournal.com profile] don_gato came to visit me this weekend. Last night, he and I ended up spending a looooong time at the ABCO sculpture party. Then we tried to go to Golden Bull's last gasp, looking for [livejournal.com profile] elle_innuendo, but it was very late (2ish). Things were getting hyphy in a bad way, as Jeffrey's, an upscale hip-hop club, let out. Carl thought we should wait for the traffic to clear, so we walked to Jack London Square and back. When we got near my car, we saw the block it was on was roped off with crime scene tape.

The cop said, "Sorry, guys, you've stumbled onto a murder scene."

It was a gun battle between two dudes. I don't think the guy who was hit actually died (yet), because the paper didn't list it as a murder. The bodies and cars involved were gone, but there was no white line, just shells on the ground. My car was not hit by any bullets, even though it was in the middle of the fray.

One person was arrested after a separate shooting at 13th and Franklin streets around 2 a.m., the officer said.

Life in Tha Town. It bums me out that hip-hop clubs equals gun battle around here. But I have no answers.

Things I done did

My hard earned Keak da Sneak story came out. I never finished my stalking Keak tale for you ...


I cornered her at this cocktail party last night for Women's Media Center, which is out to improve how women are represented in the media. Check it out:


I was nervous to meet and possibly interview her, but I realized I had a lot to talk to her about. I heard she, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan came to the Chronicle lunch time series, and many women vented their frustration about not getting their stories and voices published. And, the big head honchos were not in the room. At the cocktail party, I talked to her about the language the Chron uses to talk about women, especially all the "guy's guy" critics who ask if Erykah Badu hates men or call Peggy Gugenheim a "groupie."

Then I brought up my body-image Web site. She talked about how it was a real problem. Then I gave her a card and I told her it isn't up, but it's my dream. And she said, "You'll do it then."

I met the new editor of Chronicle features, too, and she wants to meet with me. I explained the hyphy project I'm working on, and she said, "That would be a really good series." Yeah, that's what I think!

I might get to do my series after all. It's good. Because I have MILES of material and most of it is opinions and voices the Chronicle never runs.
firebreath613: (realshirley)
At my birthday dinner, I told my friends I would be driving out to Sacramento Thursday to interview Keak da Sneak. Because it was my birthday, they gave me free range to talk about my crush. And Matt said, "I thought you were going to say Keak da Sneak is your crush and you're going to Sacramento for a rendevous."

Then I thought about it, and I do have a crush on Keak. He's my favorite hyphy artist, with a totally unique sound. He's called "the Tom Waits of hyphy" because he has this crazy rasp. And he says things like, "Yadadamean? Yadada I'm sayin' though?" And it's like, "I have no idea what the hell you just said."

This video is probably the best to understand both hyphy and Keak. I hung out at Ben's Burgers last weekend with the sideshow documentary makers, and that place is more or less rad:

Of course, Super Hyphie is all Keak, and awesome

Tuesday, Keak's manager called and said, "Can you come tomorrow? Around 1 p.m.?" OK, sure.


They called me the next morning and changed the time to 3:30, which was fine by me, as I was out watching Dem Hoodstarz at Mighty til 2 a.m. the night before. I crawled back in bed. I meant to leave at 1:30, but at 1:30, I had a panic attack when I couldn't find the black tape recorder, the one with the Mistah FAB interview STILL IN IT. I call FAB's manager and ask if he's seen it. Fortunately, I have a second silver tape recorder I don't like as much. (Yeah, everyone gives me shit for not being digial, I know.)

Also, I had had to park 15 minutes away because of stupid street sweeping. So I left around 2. I remembered that my car, which has been running brilliantly since they replaced the ignition coil, still has no AC. But it was nice and cool in the Bay Area, and I had hopes that I wouldn't end up sitting in a pool of my own sweat.

No such luck. I met the heat at Vacaville. By the time I got to Sacto, my face was flushed bright red, and I had sweat running down my back. I also had no idea that 80 would fork, so I took the wrong 80, and ended up lost downtown, instead of at Chili's by Arco Arena, which is where Keak wanted to meet. I almost got in a wreck, being distracted trying to figure out where the hell I was. I didn't notice the traffic in front of me has STOPPED. I slammed on the brakes, and my tires screeched and my car swerved in a very frightening manner.

My heart was racing as I pull off the freeway to figure out where I was. So I was going to meet a hip-hop star, I was late and I looked disgusting. And I almost died.

I called the manager in a panic, and he said they weren't there, and he gave me some directions. So I backtracked on the highway, got on 5 until I ran into the second 80. Finally, I arrived at Chili's at 3:40 and called Peter again (at this point, we're on a first-name basis).

Phew! I got us a table, got some water and went to the bathroom to pat my red face with wet towels. My hair, fortunately, had not frizzed out from the open windows. I was relishing their lateness. I ordered fried cheese. I went over my questions and reframed them. I made another call to hunt down my missing recorder. Then I tested my equipment. Silver tape recorder is playing back slow! Ruh-roh! I had forgotten my batteries.

I gave the waiter my credit card and said, "I'll be back!" Now, I'm in a strip mall. I hit every store that might have batteries. Every store was super specialized. You remember the SNL about the tape store? We had some sort of computer store (no batteries), a store that sells garage storage cabinets ONLY, a store that sells only cartridges, a Kinko's (no batteries), a Sprint store (no batteries). I almost offered a guy on the street $20 for batteries, but he didn't have any.

I called Peter. "We're here! We're at your table." - Panic - "But Keak's not here. He's one his way. You have time to go get batteries."

There's another strip mall across the street, but by across the street I mean across six lanes of high speed traffic. This mall has Wal-Mart, Staples, a Shell station and Radio Shack. I got in my car and had to wait two full minutes at the light. I missed the Shell station and thought, "Damn, I have to go to Wal-Mart," but I spied the Shack. I ran in, bought a pile of batteries. To get across the street this time I have to wait two full minutes at two different lights. Finally I arrive back at Chili's again. I am once again, sweaty and disgusting.

I walk in, and find two handsome young Latino men, dressed in office casual, sitting at my table. They've got it arranged so I'm sitting next to the MIA Keak. I put new batteries and the recorder is still playing slow. I switch it out of slow mode. It's 4:12.

Blah blah

Sep. 12th, 2006 07:50 pm
firebreath613: (realshirley)
I am realllllly tired. This is when I still wish I drank coffee. Maybe I will have some tea.

I was going to go to the library to transcribe today, and I ended up at a Zion-I video shoot, interviewing Mistah F.A.B., who is an incredibly cool guy. It was really hot in that warehouse, and kind of boring wait around.

Ah the life. I forgot about writing World Vibe, argh! I have to tell myself: Free money!

I'm going to see Dem Hoodstarz tonight, then TOMORROW I'm going to Sacto to meet Keak da Sneak. I have so much transcribing to do, it makes me want to cry. This would be the best low-paying job in the world if it weren't for transcribing.
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I am dying here.
firebreath613: (realshirley)
I started writing about this, and I thought I'd share.


My housemate who is a part of the RPS Collective is pissed. She's mostly pissed because the whole article is so divisive and doesn't come up with any solutions. It seems to me it was written to be inflammatory. He did make a really good point about the Chronicle labeling the neighborhood as full of "hookers, homeless, and drug dealers" - something I complained about. But the Chronicle isn't the voice of the artists.

You can't accuse people of crimes without checking the facts. It irresponsible to make off-hand insults, to generalize and to characterize a movement that embodies many voices, objectives and goals as one perspective.

For example, if I wrote about hyphy and talked about how it's all about going crazy and shooting people up, then I would be making the same sort of generalizations he does. But everyone I interview says, yes, that's a negative faction, the anarchy/riot mindset. But for most artists and kids, hyphy is about jubilation and fun and dancing. The negative story would miss how Mistah F.A.B. devotes so much time and energy hanging out and listening and talking to kids at Youth Uprising, the get-out-the-vote campaign, and giddinesss of the dance battles.

It's such a tired and easy thing to target hipsters and artists. Sure, many are clueless. Others really care about Oakland and want to include black artists and the old residents of the neighborhood. Many work with at-risk youth and are involved in socialist organizations. Mama Buzz and RPS offer free classes and services every day practically.

If you think someone has failed to be inclusive or consider their community, you call them on it and then you ask them why or what they think. If someone accuses someone of a misstep, you go and ask the accused what they have to say about it. If someone is self-absorbed and thoughtless, it will come out in your reporting.

He made valid points about the careless naming of the gallleries like LoBot and Ghost Town and the self-absorbed nature of the artists who come in and start something without talking to their neighbors or including black artists. But it just came across to me like promoting segregation. Do we want a society like that? Where there's a black town and a white town? I mean, why was there no talk about working together? Obviously there are a lot of deep, complicated issues about race, real estate, gentrification and privilege, and those aren't going to get sorted out over night, but I don't think segregation is the answer. People of different races need to know each other, and talk to each other, to eliminate "the otherness" that feeds racism and discrimination.

What David Downs didn't ask was why did Oaklandish and the Oakland Box get closed down? I know both of those organizations worked with the emerging art scene, and the police came in and cited them with code violations. Why do hyphy parties get shut down by cops? These things are much more interesting questions. Why is the CITY supporting white-owned galleries and parties, and not black-owned ones? Where is the infrastructure support the for the black creative community? The institutional discrimination is more interesting to me than "These people are making art and throwing a party, how annoying."

I didn't realize I had so many opinions. But yeah, I think he missed the mark. He almost got there, but not quite.

In other news, my pal Gerry is in a reggaeton video. Click on "Fuego - Me Gustan Todas." He's the Asian bookie.

After the shit storm of the past month, it's a relief.

1. I finally got to publish a legitimate feature story on a really cool kid who drove a bus out of New Orleans.

- The Insight section editor was impressed with my work and asked me to write for him again. Since he doesn't know me from Joe, this is a big compliment.

- Two different people just emailed me and said they would like to help Courtney anyway they can, including getting plane tickets to LA. That almost makes me want to cry.

2. Toby came back from Senegal and immediately hooked me up with a British car-and-culture mag called Intersection that's going to give me a SIX PAGE SPREAD on hyphy for $800. Now, in the magazine world is not a lot for 2,500 words. But I'm going to do that much research for the Chron anyway, and I'll get only $600 for two stories. So that's much much more money.

3. Today I sent in an application to Venus, one of my favorite mags, for yet another part-time gig. They've already taken down the Craig's List email link - boo! But I sent it in to the editor & publisher and feedback and the old editor of the section. They'll look at it, right? I really really really want this gig. It's like my low-paying dream job.

4. I've been getting email that makes me all warm and fuzzy. I have lots of crushes. Today it feels like a good thing.
Yes, I wrote about my boobs in the Chronicle.

I've been having this paranoid fears the Dr. 90210 or someone on the program will sue me. The "LoveLine" producer at KROQ never got back to me with the CD of the show. Otherwise, I would feel enormously pleased that I got a chance to fight for what I think is right in a public forum. I mean, this is my goal in life, to destroy the Barbie machine.

Three different men, two of which are my father's age, were determined to write me and tell me they concur. One looked me up on MySpace, the other sent a message to Flavorpill and the third wrote the 96 Hours address. The third said, "I can tell by your tone that we would disagree on other issues. But I'm with you on this one."

I've been pushing myself so hard my body is aching from head to toe. My body is tired. But I am fighting to do what I love. Last Saturday, I was hanging out with a drag king in Bernal, then I ate and drank with a hang-dog-face regular at a beautiful beer garden, then I hung out with an all-women car club. The next day I was in East Oakland, talking to a Katrina survivor in his grandparents' house with bars on the windows and lace curtain. It's the best gig ever.

I am so excited about this hyphy story, which is the movement to channel hyphy into a positive force. Last night, I went to a live broadcast of KMEL's "Street Soldiers" at Youth Uprising. There was this kid, 15 years old, who had this amazing story about witnessing horrors, going to jail, hearing about the shooting of his cousin. Now he's got an underground hip-hop movement to put an end to it. He's 15. He's hard. He's an MC. And he has a pissed-off campaign going.

And all the kids love Mistah F.A.B. Zion-I and Goapele were also there. Zion and Amplive are all handsome, sophisticated, well-dressed and well-spoken - the sort of guys I'd hit on but in all likelihood are married with children. But the young 'uns flocked to their hyphy hero with his goofy grillz grin and yellow-bus gold chain. And that guy has so much patience and kindness. He takes everyone's CDs, listens to their stories, signs their posters.

I watched him, thinking, "This is going to be a cool story."

I'm doing awesome things. I'm never going to see my friends again. Sigh. Oh - also, I'm getting a "guerilla" makeover for a story and for my birthday. Yee-haw!

Speaking of: Save the date! September 7 @ Stork Club

It's near BART, and I am going to be there early, so San Francisco people, you have no excuses!

It's a dance party, but there's three rooms and a patio at the Stork Club, so if you don't dance, you STILL have no excuse.

I might talk Isaac into doing a drag cabaret number for me. If you want to perform, let me know. Probably no full bands, but small acts are welcome.

Also, Milkshake, I might need your services, if you're available!
firebreath613: (realshirley)
In case you were worried: I conquered present tense. Late, but what do you do?

1. Oh man, the roller derby bout was soo cool. I have to become a Bay Area Derby Girl! I WAS BORN TO DO IT.

I was excited when I heard about it. I thought, well, yeah, I can skate, but I'm kind of averse to pain and violence. But after watching them I figured out — they don't get hurt THAT bad. They have helmets and knee pads, etc. They can't punch or pull hair. All I'd really have to do to be a roller derby rock star is

A. Skate fast
B. Dodge people
C. Keep my balance
D. Know how to fall

I am excellent at all those things. I'd have to be a jammer, because I'm not really strong enough to knock people over. Plus the derby look is so my look: colorful T-shirt, flirty skirt, fishnets, knee-high socks. I want to be on the SF ShEviel Dead because their outfits are cuter (Sorry Oakland!).

Of course, there's the whole one-femur-longer-than-the-other issue. Now that my lifts make me stand straight all the time, I don't know how much I can skate crooked. Last time I went skating on the lake, I paid in pain. I also don't know if I could skate back straight, one knee higher than the other. Hmmm.... The whole leg-shortening surgery is looking better everyday. The doctor said I could recover completely. The Internet talks about muscle weakness where you get shorter. Hmm.... I could buy nice shoes. And wear them! Like a girl!

Oh yeah, and maybe not having health insurance, also an issue.

Oh, I ran into Harmon Leon at the after party. He's a nice guy. He invited me to another party, but I really didn't feel up to it.

2. The Architeckz turf dancing was so rad on Saturday. Hooray for Clubland for getting me into two awesome (and pricey) events for free!

I want to learn hip-hop dancing. I don't know if I need to learn turf dancing, necessarily. I would totally take the free classes at Youth UpRising if I were young enough. Maybe they'd make an exception for a Chron reporter? Reyhan and I are going to write a turf dancing/hyphy story. Actually, that's a really good idea. Wow, I'm glad I thought of that!

Yes, I think hip-hop is the first dance class I want to take. I wish I had more of those CDs they play, too, like Black Eyed Peas. For a while I was dying to do belly dance. Then I was thinking about Burlesquercise. Which was usurped by bhangra. But now, hip-hop is my first choice. Wouldn't be so cool to learn every kind of dance? I should go to Barefoot Boogie with Chanelle. Maybe I can avoid unsavory characters if we stick together.

Imagine that. Physical activity that I like and I'm good at! We're talking about a woman who sucks at bowling and mini-golf, ha ha.

3. Sunday, I met my SF contributing editors at Frjtz – which is my new favorite place in the city, as it has fries, beer, good salad and a great patio. All the boys, all very young and well-educated, are awesome. They want to help me out. Toby used to work in the New York office, so he has the inside scoop.

Also: I can seriously go to like two events every week -- de nada! And if we throw writers parties, companies will GIVE US ALCOHOL. That's pretty cool. I have to exploit these things, being broke and all.

4. I got my hair fixed. The first cut was a horror show. I looked like Sally Field from the '80s. I went back to the hairdresser, and she said, "I see what you mean." Stylists never seem to understand: I have vaguely curly hair and I do not "blow it out" and if it's remotely close to the same length it's really scary hair-rocker BIG. Saved in time for NY. Phew!




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