This past October I finally got to perform some of my own music with an amazing band and three brilliant singers. Special thanks to Eric Ross of IconVizion photography for the photos.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
My good friend Kyle and I were playing around putting some songs together and decided to record a cover of Little Dragon's "Blinking Pigs". Listen and I hope you enjoy.
(For some reason there's a delay between sound and video. Not my fault, it's youtube's and its kind of pissing me off. But alas I'm helpless.)
Sunday, June 19, 2011
This interview is an installment of the series, "Eargasm Provided By..." The interviewer and curator of the series is my beloved Reneeka Rae so I'm smiling super hard through this whole thing and when i do that you can barely understand what I'm saying or see my eyes. The video features an original song and footage from The Release, a bi-weekly night of live entertainment at Cloud IX on Peter St. Enjoy.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Join City of Savages in their #makeLovenotWar campaign to support the American Foundation for AIDs research, simply by wearing a free button! For every person who sends a picture over twitter to @CityofSavages of themselves wearing the button, the clothing line will donate $1 usd to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. The buttons are FREE. For a button, visit CityofSavages.blogspot.com
I've been published! It was a proud moment when the book featuring a selection of my essays and articles arrived in the mail. For only $12 you can be the proud owner of "Once Upon an Ever After," a collection of well-written articles and essays by some brilliant people. Visit the Invade NOLA store for your copy!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Every first and third Tuesday a bunch of singers have a really great time at Cloud IX lounge on Peters Street. Here I'm performing Aaliyah's Come Over with Brandon Thomas on guitar and Henry Conway III on drums. I always have a good time there. If you're in Atlanta you should come out.
I can't believe i didn't share this on my blog immediately! My roommates and I shut that city down for Mardi Gras. It was one of the best experiences of my life. My roommates and I rented a car, found some strangers on couchsurfing.org, and stayed there from Saturday to Tuesday. I lost some footage so you don't get to see the DJ we all fell in love with. Her name is Musa and she DJs at Saints on saturdays if you ever find yourself in what i like to call Devil's Paradise. It was an indescribable experience, a real party experience. The amount of history in the city was also a special experience. It was the living embodiment of the things I've only read about Black culture. I'm rambling, I hope you are not reading this and are actually watching the video.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
"Daughter Needs to Know" song written and performed by Karen Alise
I've been writing songs, friends. This is something I kind of threw together, but I love it. It's actually really comforting for me to listen to when I miss my mother. I think everyone has that song that helps them get through something
Further, I was talking with a friend today about my blog and I think I let the negative press distract me from how effective this blog has been in communicating my ideas to you. More to come as summer heats up.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I once had a Sugar Daddy who I never fucked, and from that little tryst I learned that not having sex is the most powerful thing a woman can do. As a self-proclaimed sexophile it is with great pain that I make this admittance, but whatever. I know, I know you’re judging me and some of you will now find it too appalling to read on, but whatever to you too. Frankly, I was in a tight spot. It was the classic story of a little girl in a big world who desperately needed her rent paid. With no one to turn to, I reached for the phone number of some rich old white dude in the bottom of my thrift store purse. Mind you, this was one of my lowest points.
Before you completely divorce me and my blog, consider that I had exhausted all of my viable options. I thought long and hard about it. I wished there was another way. I even prayed. And if in the back of your mind you’re thinking “ask your parents for money,” I want you to go home and shoot your mother. I considered that this would weigh on my conscience for the rest of my life, or that I’d be going down a slippery slope that lead to prostitution and an addiction to crack and household cleaning products.
Then I thought about sex, competition, and power. Since the beginning of time women have had the opportunity to wield her sexual power for the things she needed. Delilah got over on Sampson, Cleopatra brought the whole world to conflict, and King Henry VIII changed whole religions just so he could bang the women he liked. While men have lorded political power over women, it is our sexual power that has historically made us equals and allowed us to compete. The introduction of a moral code that prohibits the use of this sexual power is man’s way of upping the competition making it more difficult to get ahead. But then I finally decided “fuck it” I really need this money.
Well, the way things transpired, he simply gave me the money and we didn’t end up banging. I was, obviously, relieved as I don’t think I could get it up for a man of his age. Maybe a Black man, because Black don’t crack, but this man had cracked. He had liver spots and a hanging chin. I was uncomfortable about my dealings with the old coot, and I immediately broke contact with him. However, he was so persistent that I let him take me out again. I would go on a date and he’d slide me some hundreds. All I had to do was talk in a sweet little voice, tell him he was the sweetest thing, and get offended whenever he said something even remotely sexual.
I know what you’re thinking. Impossible. You can’t get that kind of return from a guy that you’re not banging. Initially I thought the same thing, but whenever I rejected him he’d just apologize and say, “you’re such a lady”. I thought it incredible that some man would apologize for insinuating that he wanted to have sex with me. Especially when I’m at the age when guys ever insinuate is that they want to have sex with me.
In the back of my mind I knew that if I banged him, I would probably have a summer house on Miami beach or something. I mean he told me stories about his friends who fly their women all around the world and pay their tuition and shit. Dope shit that none of you guys could ever dream of doing for me. In the end I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t about the money or the sex. It was about control. I didn’t like that instead of being with a guy I actually liked, I was with him or that I had to amend my personality in order to appease him. I was always agreeable and docile, which was extremely tiresome, because as you can see I’m very fucking outspoken and my intelligence is about the most valuable thing I have.
We were dining one evening. I was talking about music and I said the word genre, to which he responded, “genre, now that’s a big word,” while giving me this Sean Conrey-esque scowl. He was dead serious. Genre? GENRE?! You fucking kidding me? I thought to myself. Of all the words I know, genre is one you’re gonna patronize me on. And then he thought it was “cute” that I was reading a book. So yeah trading sex for much needed cash is far less insulting than having a man undermine my brilliance.
What can I say? Your morals aren’t real unless they’re tested in the fire. You won’t really know what you are capable of until you are confronted with strong adversity. Like pro-lifers who get knocked up, or men with terminally ill wives who must all of a sudden consider shit like euthanasia. From this experience I learned that you never know when you’ll need a creepy old white man by your side to cover a meal, a bill, or a mortgage. I also learned that I don’t make a very good hooker. A better hooker would have been able to stomach a little patronizing for easy income. I hit the jackpot of all jackpots, the Richard Gere of a pretty woman’s fantasy and I blew it. So if any of you ladies need his number let me know. Perhaps you’ll make better use of it than I did.
Monday, February 7, 2011
In the Woody Allen film, Manhattan, Woody Allen’s character is dating a significantly younger girl, named Tracy. Isaac is a 42 year old TV writer while Tracy is a 17 year old high school senior. Despite Tracy’s affections for the older man, Isaac is resistant throughout the movie. He lords his age over her, establishing his superior understanding about the world, love and the future progression of their relationship. In one scene, Tracy asks while lying in bed with him, “What’s gonna happen with us?” Isaac responds, “You’ll think of me always as a fond memory.” He is her paternal and omniscient lover.
Despite his acclaimed certainty, it is revealed through his character that Isaac has no real definitive answers about relationships. His character was twice divorced and dates his best friend’s mistress behind his back. He in fact, admits in the film, “nobody knows what the hell they’re doing” when it comes to love. Even still, it seemed that Tracy had more clarity on her feelings, than did Isaac. She said she loved him, while it took him the whole movie and an intermittent fling to say he loved her back.
It’s easy to assume that staying married was easier in the olden days, but that’s not the whole story. There was a sense of duty and obligation that recent generations have only just begun to shed. Consider the narrative about the princess who is forced to marry a man for political reasons. In our modern society we consider arranged marriages to be either archaic or of the developing world, unless you had my Grandaddy for a father. Then it was he who arranged all marital unions within my family. Progressively people have felt less of an obligation to remain in an unsatisfactory situation, including jobs and marriages. Perhaps with so many vehicles of communication and travel available to us, we are more aware of the opportunities available to us all around the world.
It is also a simple thing to define love in a religious context. My brother once posted on his Facebook, “What is love?” and my Father responded with a Bible passage. I never forgot that moment in Facebook history, because despite the certainty with which my Dad pulled from his favorite text, it seemed my brother’s question went unanswered. I’d say so in the definitive since all of his life’s troubles are girl-related.
What is love and how do we make a relationship work? I won’t pretend to have the answers. I can only live my experiences and reflect on them, if only for your entertainment. We can follow the prescribed rules: abstain from fucking for three to six months, make him pay for everything, ignore his calls for the first three days and only text him after he texts you, blah blizzity blah blah. Personally, I was never given the dating rules. My Dad’s were always too holy for real life application and Ma wasn’t around long enough to impart them upon me. Further, I find that the rules out there only make dating too scripted and inauthentic.
When I first started dating – much later than normal kids – I was quickly frustrated by the kinds of conversations I was having with boys. Everything was so careful and timid, and I wasn’t accustomed to holding my tongue. And when I spoke my mind, the fellows didn’t know how to handle it. I realized that the boys were fully educated a skill that I lacked. They were scripted in dating etiquette while I’d missed a lesson, skipped a grade, something. I was out of sync. We learn these rules by dating in grade school and our parents affirm them, I assume. Dating, like religious belief and political affiliation, is a social custom that we believe is naturally formed. However, dating, like all other social customs, should be challenged and reconsidered. There are things that we accept because they are easy, like a prescribed definition of ‘love’ from the religious doctrine in which we thoughtlessly believe. Having missed out on the rules, I had to become my own pedagogue. I’m on a solo journey where I try to allay my fears of rejection and heartache, in favor of discovery, experience and certainty.
When we subscribe ourselves to a strict set of rules, we inherently deny certain aspects of ourselves that don’t really fit. Also, it makes it difficult to really get to know someone, when he’s mimicking a prototype. I think it’s best to define one’s own rules. Fuck what yo daddy told you. What are your bottom lines; what are the things you can’t tolerate? I’ve learned that I can’t date someone who isn’t at least as intelligent as me. I become horribly and unintentionally condescending and bitchy. There are non-negotiables that only you can define for oneself. You might like being in the position of feeling smarter than your significant other. The guys I date must love it, I guess.
As Isaac in the movie put it, no one really knows what the fuck they’re doing. So before rushing into relationships armed with absolute certainty and a list of ‘the rules’ I suggest we all enjoy the experience of defining what is non-negotiable. I think you’ll find your life was more fulfilling that way.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I like a boy and I don't think he likes me back. He hasn't made it plain that he doesn't like me back but I think to a less infatuated eye the signs are clear. First, we are an unlikely match. We're at distinctly different stages of our lives. We're not star-crossed lovers, we're more like two galaxies in crossing. Second, he leaves me sexually frustrated. You guys know how I like to get down. I enjoy a little tete-a-tete on the regular, but from him I just haven't been getting much. Finally, I see him a lot less than I did initially. We talk on the phone often but we don't go out on dates like we once did.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably being let down easy. He wants to be friends.
That's the (obvious) conclusion, but since he hasn't said it explicitly, it's a bit difficult for me to accept. What if I'm wrong? What if he's just really busy? What if it's me; I've sent the wrong signals and I just need to be more expressive of my desire? Yeah, I know, garbage.
The thing is, despite the conclusion I've made, there is a part of me that doesn't want to let go. You know how the story goes, someone rejects you and it makes you want them more. Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, did a study of your brain in love, from which she decided that love is not an emotion, it's a drive. This drive is much like the motivation to achieve a bomb ass GPA or to get into a good law school. When in love, lust, and infatuation you're brain goes all haywire: you're high on dopamine and scans of your cranium look the same as if you were doing cocaine. Nice. What makes Dr. Ritter so sure? She hooked 49 subjects up to an MRI machine and asked them a series of questions. Her conclusion: love is intoxicating and easily as important to us as our personal success.
Knowing that, I guess sometimes when someone gets to ignoring us, we become even more driven. Add the dopamine effect and it's like driving under the influence. Right now, I guess I'm like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas trying to make meatballs, sniff and deliver blow, and dodge a helicopter at the same time. It's upsetting that I can be of two minds about this. There are the rational conclusions based in evidence and logical thinking, then there's Ray Liotta in the passenger seat destined to fail.
Love, lust, and infatuation are about compatibility and timing which is why it's so hard to find someone and why the one who once rejected you can have feelings for you later. The thing is, sexual energy is often exchanged between two people of the opposite sex who we adore and admire, but they just may not be good for us as boyfriends or girlfriends. With due dilligence we learn that some of the folks we envisioned having babies with better serve our lives as great friends, And while friendship sometimes feels like an awful consolation, we have to remember that the most intense friendships often last longer than the relationships we blow through.
Now, for a move-on mechanism. The fastest way to forget someone is sex (for me). Right now I do want some loving. The season is changing, I'm sleeping in the nude again and I'm wrapped in a high ass thread count. That's the formula for desire, but until the reality of friendship settles in, I'll be masturbating to the sound of his voice in my head.
for more from Helen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYfoGTIG7pY
Sunday, January 9, 2011
In the good old days, women were not as promiscuous and sexual as they are now. False. That would mean that either women like Mae West and Josephine Baker were sexual aberrations, or women have been using their vaginas for a lot longer than we as a society will admit. Once we managed to pull our pussies from under the ruling thumb of the white male majority we became more sexually competitive and expressive, but the biology of desire has always been there.
Throughout Western history, literature is often the only vehicle through which women vocalized social opinions. Heroes of that kind of expression are women like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” who challenged assumptions in modern medicine about psychosis and sexuality. Contemporary with her time, though not addressed in her story, a sexually expressive woman was considered mentally ill. Were I white woman in 1892, I’d be banging some male nurse and journaling about it from inside a white-walled room.
Well, in class on Early to Medieval English literature, I was unceasingly bothered by the statements that typically emerged when we read female authors. My colleagues were either surprised that the women were writing, that the women were writing well, and that some of their stories were so sexual. There surprise was all relative to the fact that it was “back then”. Mind you pre-Medieval England was not a Christian place, and the sex politics were vastly different, but even Chaucer’s Wife of Bath had very powerful and distinct ideas about sex despite her piety.
Listening to the girls I wondered if perhaps they were all chaste half-virgins, or if we women have internalized this societal prognosis of our simple sexuality. If they had internalized this system of belief, that would then denote that they were in denial about the urges in their own vaginas. When all women are portrayed as feeling a particular way about sex, you personally will come to feel that you are the only woman in the world with a needy vagina. We are biologically designed to sexually desire insertion. The when, where, and with whom is determined by personal views on the politics and morals of sex.
In one of my favorite movies, Six Degrees of Separation, Will Smith’s character says, “I was just so happy I wanted to add sex to it. Don’t you do that?” Sex for pleasure is frowned upon by religious types, but it’s an expression of the body that is often the least expensive way to dope ourselves up. Love and sex expert, Dr. Helen Fisher claims that sex does the same shit to your brain as cocaine does.
If sex is so good and all the grown-ups are doing it, how have we also allowed ourselves to be so misinformed about it. First, is the myth of The Good Ole Days. They never existed, because humans were as sexually, emotionally, and mentally complex now as they were at the beginning of our written history. Therefore, we were always as selfish and prone to evil then as we are now. Though, as a species we’ve become like hoarders when it comes to written information, we still manage to deny the ugly parts of history. Women would have had less opportunity to have casual sex and may even have been less likely to because they were married just as her flower was beginning to bloom. The conditions surrounding your sexuality are far different than your grandmother’s.
Further, the censorship in Hollywood promotes limited depictions of sexuality. The rating committee (the people who give a movie an R rating) are more likely to give high ratings for depictions of a woman experiencing pleasure than pain. Sex is either violent or comical, but never enjoyable. In the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, filmmakers express their frustration over the politics behind the ratings. One says that sexism and abuse of women is promoted through these depictions. Pleasure, specifically an orgasm, is often juxtaposed with pain, so that the encoded meaning is that a woman will be punished for her pain. This portrayal of punishment for the sexually satisfied promotes submission, fear, and self-hatred amongst its real life viewers. Whereas huge amounts of violence are acceptable in even G-rated films.
Believe what you will about the moral value of chastity, waiting, etc. Personally, I wish I were better at the whole waiting thing. It could possibly make things better. I don’t know. However, do not assume that women have only just recently emerged from the dark. We’ve been been fucking – and writing about it – for a good minute.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I'm irate! I voted in the mid-term election. Hell I voted early in this election. But it feels that my vote didn't count as the House to day was overhauled by the Republican party. My qualms with this right heavy House: Health Care Reform. It didn't hit me until today that I won't be getting my universal healthcare. I am, therefore, more livid than I've ever been about probably anything.
One frustration, and likely the frustration of most democrats, is that an argument against universal healthcare is so inhumane that it our side was almost indefensible. Why should we have universal healthcare? Because we are a so-called first world country, we have the resources, and the poor are now dying from curable illnesses that they cannot afford to have treated. However, through the use of inexplicably effective propaganda, the Republican party managed to protect their interest. Greedy bastards.
I think about my Mother. Everyone knows she died of cancer in 2005, a year before MA got a universal healthcare system. Well she's lucky she died in Massachusetts, because anywhere else she probably wouldn't have lasted so long. Often poor people do not seek medical care because they are afraid to be diagnosed with something they cannot afford. My mom waited an extremely long time before she sought hospitalization. She discovered she had cancer. Because of the nature of her illness and the fact that we were below the poverty line in the most socialist state in the fucking union, her care was free up until the day she died. She could have been diagnosed sooner if we'd had some kind of insurance, if she were seeing a doctor regularly, etc.
My mother isn't the only woman who has cohabitated uncomfortably with a terminal illness. There are people all around the country too afraid to enter a hospital. We need universal healthcare or at least a system that protects not only our poor but our middle class in case of illness. In order to have universal health care it would require higher taxes and for citizens to pay for comprehensive subsidized health care packages unless they choose to go with either an employer provided or private health insurance.
My largest frustration is that the Democratic Party, which I'd consider the more progressive, gets no love because of their efforts to appeal to common sense and intellect rather than propaganda and religion. Fundamentalist and extremist Christians support the party because it backs their desire to control the dominant ideology of this country, and in exchange they are willing to sacrifice the civil and human rights of the poor. They are more concerned with prayer in school and Nativity Scenes on State property, than the idea of sharing just enough wealth to ensure that cancer victims of the lower class, at least, die peacefully.