Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at

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    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Okay, I know you're saying, "Clay, you are on your billionth Patti LaBelle interview!" Yes, but these are the last two interviews and I am officially done with promotion for Patti's new CD Miss Patti's Christmas.

    These two interviews for HX Magazine and AOL Black Voices are my absolute favorites and I answered many of submitted questions.

    In HX Patti chats it up on closeted R&B singers:

    "It's hard to take that chance. I think if you're gay in R&B, stay in that closet for right now."

    On the church might having a problem with Patti's strong ties to the gay community:

    "If the church has a problem with that, the church needs to go and see Jesus!"

    On being approached by women:

    "Usually, the hard women are after me! When I got my divorce, the women jumped on me like white on rice! I said, 'Look, I ain't ever did fish, I don't intend to do fish so leave me alone.'"

    On rumors that she and Jennifer Hudson were drunk at the GLAAD Media Awards in March:

    “I never drink liquor, I never smoked weed, I never did coke and I never did crack—so people are wack!”

    This interview is featured in this week's issue of HX Magazine -- here is the online version:

    HX: Mama Christmas

    Also, there is my additional Patti interview for the straights over at AOL Black Voices. Patti talks current R&B, plastic surgery and Phyllis Hyman:

    “Every day I saw her she was trying to get me in trouble with her. I said, 'Girl, I ain't doing no drugs!'"

    Black Voices: Patti LaBelle Thoughts on Life

    Lastly, tomorrow is World AIDS Day. Be sure to take the time to acknowledge the impact of HIV/AIDS on the nation and the globe. There is still a long road to not only battle the disease but to deal with issues like stigma, prevention and people valuing their lives enough to protect it.

    Have a safe weekend!

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    Posted by Clay :: 2:44 AM :: 9 comments


    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    This week Frederick Smith, author of Down For Whatever, dropped his second book Right Side of the Wrong Bed. A story of "when two opposites fall in love, chaos is sure to follow." It's rare I recommend anyone to buy something unless I truly believe in it, but Smith's fun, introspective and interesting read of a black (yeah, I know one of the characters are Mexican and Dominican but that's nig'ra enough for me!) gay male relationship is definitely a great read.

    I encourage everyone to get on the right side of the bed and purchase Frederick Smith's new book today!
    Click here to purchase.

    Also, I have another interview with Patti LaBelle on Patti discusses her split with Def Jam, her vocal range, favorite song to perform and more. Patti's new CD Miss Patti's Christmas is in stores now.

    Bringing Patti LaBelle Home For The Holidays

    PS. That little error in the second sentence of the Patti interview...I see it too. That's an added error from and don't ask me why it hasn't been fixed!

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 PM :: 2 comments


    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Check out my review on Ghosts Of Cite’ Soleil, a powerful documentary on Haitian gangs.

    2pac is obviously named after the slain rapper and there is another gang member who calls himself "50 Cent". While many of the gang members in the film worship hip-hop, ironically, no hardcore rapper’s story could ever equate the striking poverty in third world countries, especially in Haiti. One random person shouts to President Bush, "We pray for three things! Education, food and sleep!" Therefore, it is slightly peculiar how hip-hop is worshiped. The ghettos of South Central or New York City are about as far removed from Haiti as the trailer parks of Idaho.


    Posted by Clay :: 2:00 AM :: 4 comments


    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Ears are still recovering after Ashanti's sloppy performance of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" last week, which has made it to the vicious critics on YouTube. Actually, I don't think her performance was that bad, but any moment to mock Ashanti—I'm down!

    Ashanti's weak performance caused me to reflect on some of the more atrocious performances of "The Star Spangled Banner", which actually come from people who can sing.

    Here are some of the greatest hits:

    I am a Christina Aguilera fan but this 2004 performance of our National Anthem was a horror along with her Elvira snatched back ponytail. First, there was the peculiar arrangement, which attempted to mimic Marvin Gaye's legendary 1983 version. Aguilera and her drummer stumbled through an R&B; beat for beat breakdown that only resulted in a messy spangled catastrophe. Plus, Aguilera sadly improved wild notes that were running away from her in Courtney Love-ish ghastly growl. Trying to add her own “flava” Chrissy punched in a "yeah, yeah" between cracking notes. One of Aguilera’s weakest performances, which is sad considering this is one of the most popular songs of all time.

    Check out the vein popping note at 2:19!

    R. Pissy, who is convinced he is the Marvin Gaye of our generation, haphazardly attempted to add "steppin'" to the National Anthem. Well, just like a pedophile with a bladder problem, Pissy must've thought this version would appeal more to teens, but it ended up being cheesy and boring, regardless of his good voice. Less is more people, I like a nice a cappella or standard orchestra version of the Jim Crow classic!

    Check out the clip below, which even includes dancers…Lawd!

    I really do like Mya but I have to be honest…her whispering in tune for over two minutes for "The Star Spangled Banner" was unacceptable coming from a professional singer who has been in the business for nearly ten years. Also, who thought of Mya singing the National Anthem—was Roseanne Barr not available for a second time? Mya attempted to sing a bit louder toward the end, but then completely fell apart on the riff at 2:00. It’s not about you Mya…

    The Robin Thicke of the 90's, Michael Bolton, was a complete embarrassment for all patriotic white folks across the Nation. Mr. Bolton is a good privileged hetero white man so this song was basically made for him and he had the audacity to forget the words! Oh yes, the crowd gave a big hellish “boo!” as Mikey blanked on the lyrics, casually looked to his hand and even took more than a few seconds to read the words—not even trying to be slick with it! To make matters worse, Bolton attempted some desperate over singing, sounding like Bruce Springsteen getting an enema. Mikey better be careful before his white man card is revoked!

    Check out the hand glance at 49 seconds!

    After all those terrible performances of “The Star Spangled Banner” check out my favorite rendition from a flawless Natalie Cole in 1994.

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    Posted by Clay :: 9:00 AM :: 17 comments


    Monday, November 26, 2007

    When it comes to divas there is no one like the legendary icon Anna Mae Bullock better know as Tina Turner. Today, November 26th, the rock 'n roll soul diva turns an astonishing 68 years-old and according to a February 2007 picture, she is still looking every bit of forty something.

    I always knew of Tina Turner growing up, however, it wasn’t till about six years ago that an old friend made me a CD of the "Hot Legs" soul singer, which officially converted me into a fan.

    Each song was a powerful representation of soul, but when I heard a 1964 version of "The Wedding/All I Could Do Was Cry" a musical button in my mind was pushed. It was similar to the first time I heard Otis Redding's version of "Change Gonna Come", Janis Joplin's version of "Ball & Chain", or Prince's "Purple Rain". Tina roared in this savage, over ten-minute musical epic of vocals, instruments and undeniable soul that I do not think I've heard since. It was as if Tina uppercut me right in the jaw, shifting my entire view of excess, rock and blues ...I said to myself, "If someone hears this and doesn’t feel anything—they simply have no sou

    If Aretha Franklin is the queen of soul then Tina Turner is the queen, empress and goddess of rock n' roll. Before Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, Sheryl Crow and others—there was Tina Turner. Moreover, if there were no Tina you would have no Beyonce or Mary J. Blige (who is more like Tina than Aretha any day).

    Tina paved the way
    gracing the cover of the second issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, she is the most successful female rock artist of all time, she has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history and if it was announced that Tina Turner would be at Madison Garden tomorrow, the concert would sell-out in no more than twenty minutes. That's an icon...

    Tina has had a legendary career but also a complex one, especially in the black community. To many, Tina Turner abandoned soul music/black people, moved to England, shacked up with a white man and adopted a peculiar British accent.

    Tina's new found fame post Ike Turner suddenly gave her “sell-out” status. However, what's very interesting is that Tina was always rock 'n roll with a dose of soul, but if she would've remained solely in the R&B genre, post Ike Turner, her career probably would've gotten lumped in with the likes of Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan and many others. All artists who do not get the respect they deserve, regardless of their stellar voices, simply because they are black women. Tina Turner craving her own niche was the smartest career move she every made.

    I could go on for ions about the importance of Tina Turner in the history of music. In a time when artists of today whine they have to lip-synch because they simply cannot dance and sing at the same
    time—I think of Anna Mae who danced, screamed, spun, dipped, dropped like it was hot, never went off key and wouldn't even think of lip-synching at nearly 70. In a time where artists cancel shows due to throat problems or celebrity depression—I think of Tina who once performed with strep throat and blood dripping into her throat after being punched by Ike and still managed to rip the stage.

    Tina Turner is more than a singer/entertainer, she is living proof of the resilient human spirit that will go to any lengths to not only survive, but live your wildest dreams. From picking cotton in the plantations of Tennessee to rock 'n roll icon status, Tina Turner is every person's inspiration.

    Check out one of my favorite performances of all time. A 32 year-old Miss Tina annihilating Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long". Get into the wig, the lip quiver, the sweat, the sex and that voice!


    Posted by Clay :: 12:25 AM :: 8 comments


    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Every year on Thanksgiving I dedicate a post to the horrendous genocide of Native Americans. Could you imagine if the day the first white man landed on Africa was a national holiday? Hell, if slavery wasn't abolished in 1865, I'm sure they would've made the holiday up!

    This year let's acknowledge the massacre of Thanksgiving across the globe -- not just North America. Indian communities were wiped out like a nuclear bomb from every island on the Caribbean, mainly by those crafty Spaniards (see picture above). Here is an interesting fact on the Arwark Indians from

    The term Arawak (from aru, the Lokono word for cassava flour), was used to designate the friendly Amerindians encountered by the Spanish in the Caribbean. These include the Taino, who occupied the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas, the Nepoya and Suppoyo of Trinidad and the Igneri who were supposed to have preceded the Caribs in the Lesser Antilles, together with related groups (including the Lokono) which lived along the eastern coast of South America as far south as what is now Brazil.

    The group belongs to the Arawakan language family and they were the natives Christopher Columbus found when he first landed in the Americas. The Spanish described them as a peaceful, gentle people, although this description was biased by the fact that any "hostile" groups were automatically classified as Caribs.

    It is said that a number of Arawak tribes have been extinct for several hundreds of years. What could have happened that would bring a population that once numbered 2 to 3 million down to just a few thousand by the early part of the 16th century? Throughout history the Arawak where subject to many hostile take-overs, diseases, enslavement, damage to food supplies and much more. Inevitably, by the end of the 16th century the Island Arawak had become extinct.

    Columbus, in his log, noted:
    "They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and may other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned . . . they do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance . . .. Their spears are made of cane . . . they would make fine servants . . .. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."




    Posted by Clay :: 9:40 AM :: 6 comments


    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Check out my interview with Patti LaBelle for the Patti chats it up on people of transgender experience, needing a man, her heels and more.

    Patti LaBelle Takes on Christmas

    Patti's new CD Miss Patti's Christmas is in stores now,
    click here to purchase.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 0 comments

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    There comes a point in an artist's career when the world realizes -- this person is going to be an icon.

    It was 1967 for Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop festival when he set his guitar on fire, upstaging the white artists who were unfairly scheduled to close the festival.

    It was 1983 for a 25 year-old Michael Jackson when he appeared at Motown 25, performing "Billie Jean" and debuting the moonwalk for the first time.

    It was 1984 for Madonna when she withered around on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, pushing the limits of sexuality right to the edge for the '80's.

    It will be 2007 for Kanye West, continuing his world tour only a week after his mother's death. In a time when artists from Whitney Houston to Britney Spears will cancel a concert due to throat issues or celebrity depression, West proves his passion and integrity for his art is truly his survival.

    After having an onstage breakdown in Paris the day before, on November 18th at a concert in Brussels, Belgium Kanye West spoke about performing shortly after his mother's death, "Don't suggest what I'm supposed to do, you know, 'What you need to do is you just need to stop touring, you just need to go home and clear your head.' Go home to what m%!herf%!er?"

    West continued as the crowd applauded, "There's nothing that she loved more than to come to the shows and scream louder than any fan because she was my first fan that was screaming before anybody else, my first manager...if she was here she would tell me to get on that stage and kill it dog! She would tell me to go on the tour and take over the world and, 'Be number one like I told you to be baby!'" He then goes into a stirring tribute to his mother with the legendary '80's power ballad "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

    Whether you think the hip-hop megastar is arrogant, immature, or overly confident, you cannot ignore his conviction. When is the last time you’ve heard of a male hip-hop artist crying on stage (yes, I’m ignoring DMX's post jail bawls)? I know grown men who refuse to cry about anyone's death, even in front of their own family members. I can only imagine how many young boys will understand that mourning does not make you weak after seeing Kanye. West is the most important, honest, vulnerable and talented artist to come out of mainstream music, and especially hip-hop, in the last ten years.

    To hear Kanye West stand on stage, as broken as he must be, and still perform, makes 50 Cent’s rants about being shoot nine times seem like a self-indulgent marketing ploy or Amy Winehouse’s drug-induced canceled shows translate as unprofessional and maybe not as talented as the world would like to believe.

    Part of being an artist is revealing oneself and in today’s plastic market of perfect smiles, every word monitored by an out of touch publicist, or acking sincerity, Kanye is the real thing. If the man never released an album again, which he surely will, his legacy will already go down in history.

    Kanye's drive takes me to the days of Tina Turner who would lose herself in the music after getting savagely abused by Ike Turner. The days of Janis Joplin who even with a heroin addiction found solace in the music, rarely ever canceling a show. The days of blues artists who performed in the Jim Crow South, fearing for their lives, but knew the people needed the music.

    Damn, Kanye is going to make me fall in love with hip-hop again.

    Grab a tissue and check out the clip below of Kanye’s emotional tribute to his mother.


    Posted by Clay :: 2:10 AM :: 9 comments


    Monday, November 19, 2007

    The wave of “positive" and Christ-loving black films is clearly due to the Tyler Perry phenomenon -- but are these films being green-lighted because they are truly positive or just non-threatening enough for mainstream white audiences? As I’ve said time and time again, being black is not enough for a movie to be stellar – it still has to be good. It is no secret singing, dancing, smiling and Christ-loving Negroes makes money!

    This Christmas is the story of a suburban black family in Los Angeles who come together every year for the holidays. However, this year "Lifetime Television" and "Cosby Show" sitcom secrets are revealed. The characters are caught up in a meant-to-be whirlwind of scandal, causing everyone to depend on the strength of the family. Sadly, I've seen more interesting plot twists in a GEICO commercial.

    This Christmas is a movie I truly wanted to like, especially with a cast like Regina King (I can just watch her blink for two hours and be entertained!), original Broadway Dreamgirl Loretta Devine, the ridiculously talented Idris Elba (hold my mule!) and that pop tart Chris Brown (who isn't a bad actor -- as long as he didn't have a consecutive three sentences or more to say at one time). There isn't an unattractive person on the screen, especially with Dreamgirls cast members like Keith Robinson and Sharon Leal and some new kat daddies such as Laz Alonso and Columbus Short. Whatever the case, these stellar actors with million dollar looks couldn't make this shotty, mundane and eye-rolling script manageable.

    From the start it’s obvious the film is a flavorless imitation of 1997's Soulfood, which was a perfect example of a black family movie that was positive, but not making contrived quantum leaps. For example, the characters in This Christmas attended Princeton, Morehouse, Spellman and even Harvard! Not saying black folks don’t attend the upper crust of higher education, but this typical selection of schools, for nearly every character, felt pushed. To make matters more elite, the family had a Mexican maid, played by the legendary Lupe Ontiveros, and her name was Rosie -- who only had two lines! I was waiting for Regina King's character to have an African mammy for her two kids. Basically, I felt like I was watching Upper West Side WASPs with a tan.

    Just like Soulfood, there is a family business at stake, a house is attempting to be sold and the sisters are arguing...I was so waiting for the, "I'm your sister, girl!" line. However, in this recycled black family story, race doesn't exist, unlike Soulfood. In the Soulfood movie and series, the black men emphasized the struggle of employment and the audience understood the black male versus female gender constructs. Sure, every black film cannot be about race, but to completely ignore race in the black experience is like ignoring the same sex sleep together in a movie that is centered on gays. You can’t just slap fried chicken and Motown songs in a movie and it suddenly becomes a representation of black life.

    Unlike Perry's films, This Christmas isn’t intolerable with low-bar acting/directorial moments. On the other hand, unlike Perry's films, or at least Why Did I Get Married?, there are no laugh out loud hilarious moments to mop up the foolishness. Overall, This Christmas is a safe, syrupy; give you-a-toothache-because-of-all-the-sugar bore.

    Again, not a bad movie, just not worth the train or car ride to the theatre, unless you want to look at pretty people on screen for two hours.

    2/5 Stars

    This Christmas is in theaters this Wednesday, November 21st. Click here for tickets.

    PS. Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls, Why Did I Get Married?) is getting skinnier with each movie -- she is giving Thandi Newton a battle for the skinniest black woman on the planet. Miss Sharon, I find it hard to believe you ate any of that Christmas fried chicken!


    Posted by Clay :: 12:45 AM :: 18 comments


    Friday, November 16, 2007

    It would take the gays to give Mary J. Blige an absolutely beautiful cover. This has got to be the best Mary J. Blige cover I have ever seen. See how Mary's forehead is perfectly covered? Take notes Vibe!

    Miss Blige is emoting like she always should be, more importantly, I am so happy to finally see Mary doing gay press. While Mary has done a little gay press here and there she has never ventured to a huge magazine like The Advocate. The magazine will be in stores the first week of December.

    Here is a quote
    on having gay fans:

    “The majority of them are [gay], and I have to really make sure that they know I’m paying attention to the fact that they support me, and I support them.”

    “I believe that at the end of the day, it’s the honesty that draws [the gay community] in. And the honest thing is, who am I to have anything to say about anyone? Because I’m such a mess myself.”

    Tell it like it is Mary!
    Every black female artist should be doing gay press because when the straights abandon you the gays will stay by your side. Straight people in their fifties are not buying Patti LaBelle's or Barbara Streisand's music, but gay people in their fifties are. Get it?

    The writer on this piece is Ernest Hardy and photo credit goes to Kwaku Alston.

    PS. Doesn't Mary remind you of that straight girl in high school or middle school who beat up the thug boys for picking on her gay best friend?


    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 6 comments


    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Yeah, I know this post isn’t going to get much traffic, but I am sure there are some Mortal Kombat fans out there!

    The last video game I truly loved was 1996's Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 on Sega Genesis. A graphic, gore fest fighting game with an interesting plot line of the underworld savages trying to take over the human world. I spent hours in arcades, but eventually let go of the series when everything after MK3 transitioned to glamorous 3-D graphics, which for me took away some of the originality of the MK series.

    going to a random industry party last month, I played a demo version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, which would be on Nintendo DS November 13th — I suddenly began reliving my youth and all the asses I beat on Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3! Wouldn't ya' know I still remembered some of the moves? I immediately purchased the Nintendo DS and some old school Super Mario Brothers games to hold me over. Now, I finally have Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 in my hands!

    Mortal Kombat was the baddest fighting game in all the land, but the real lure for me, and many other folks I knew, was that the game was so gay…and I mean that in the good way! You had Sindel with a ridiculous mane who would snatch her enemies in her hair and slam them to the ground. Kitana who sliced the kids with her deadly fans and her evil sister, Mileena, my favorite, with her deadly spins, rolls and dips. Also, femme queen diva herself, Sheeva, who stomps on her victims. Not to mention all the men with body-ody, especially Mr. Jax!

    In the late ‘90’s you could find a Mortal Kombat affect at nearly any ball!

    The game also had a diversity of race and ethnicity like I had never seen before. Jax, Jade and Ermac were black. Nightwolf was Native American and of course a good amount of Asians…I’m sure under one of those masks one of them were Latin.

    Mortal Kombat was one of those games that even crossed over in the hood. When Mortal Kombat 2 hit the streets back in the mid ‘90’s every thug with a Sega Genesis in Philadelphia could fight to the death. Being a Mortal Kombat expert was almost as important as playing craps!

    Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is not a let down on Nintendo DS. For those who remember the original, all the moves are similar with the chain pulling, bloody combos and those hilarious sound effects that say, “Get over here!” or my favorite “Woopsy!”

    There is an excellent feature that allows you to connect to the worldwide web and play other MK fans from around the world – almost like an arcade. This was a huge surprise considering Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 were the days when people would make an event out of going to an arcade versus sitting in front of their television screen at home. I remember someone almost wanted to fight me in the arcade for beating him repeatedly with six-armed diva Sheeva, “You can’t just keep stomping on me nigga!” Yeah that’s what he said.

    Only con to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is at times the jumping is a bit difficult and there isn’t enough time to complete the legendary fatalities. If you can’t complete a fatality combo within three or so seconds, it’s a wrap.

    Above all, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 stands the test of time. For all the folks who remember the iconic fighting game be sure to pick up your copy on Nintendo DS.


    Posted by Clay :: 2:29 PM :: 13 comments


    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Check out my review of Alicia Keys third CD As I Am, which is in stores today.

    Maybe Alicia Keys will surprise the world of contemporary R&B and convert fans to a more organic sound. However, it seems like Alicia might suffer the same curse as Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics album. If an artist is too intelligent, too musical, or too interesting - they won’t sell.

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    Posted by Clay :: 11:09 AM :: 3 comments


    Friday, November 09, 2007

    I am the newest writer at AOL's Black Voices. Check out my first story on the Barack Obama and Donnie McClurkin debacle.

    In his momentous campaign for the presidency, Illinois Senator Barack Obama has managed to evade political attacks from Republicans and sidestep comments from Senator Hillary Clinton. Even after digging into his past, all right-wing detectives could find was that he smoked cigarettes. Miraculously, Obama seemed to be favorably courting the votes of conservative African-Americans while at the same time labeling himself as a person who believed in equal rights for the gay and lesbian community.


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    Posted by Clay :: 4:50 PM :: 2 comments


    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Check out my interview with Patti LaBelle for the EDGE. Patti answers some of your questions such as her relationship with Dionne Warrick, her favorite wig, the last pair of shoes she bought and more. Click below for the story.

    Patti LaBelle on Divas, Gays, and Comfortable Shoes

    Patti's new CD Miss Patti's Christmas is in stores now.

    In case you missed it, you can also check out my interview with Patti LaBelle for

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    Posted by Clay :: 9:30 AM :: 1 comments


    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Jonathan Plummer's new book Balancing Act is in stores and has already caused a whirlwind of controversy. I'll be interviewing Mr. Plummer later this week --are there any questions for Jonathan Plummer that the hetero media didn't ask that you would like to know? Some tidbit of info that Oprah missed out on? Well, submit your questions for Terry McMillian's ex ole' man right here!

    Anything goes, have fun and be creative!

    Jonathan Plummer will also be appearing at The Chocolate Bar in Brooklyn, New York this Saturday from 6pm - 9pm for the Derrick L. Briggs Book Discussion Group. Click here for details.


    Posted by Clay :: 1:00 AM :: 5 comments


    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Toward the end of Britney’s infectious “Gimmie More” you hear “The legendary Miss Britney Spears…” Well, if Britney were a ballroom diva this is about the time the kids would deem her legendary. However, in the mainstream celebrity world Britney is far from a legend. Whatever the case, the pop tart’s new CD Blackout proves she is "THAT BITCH!"

    Yes, I know is predominately urban entertainment and Britney is just funky trailer trash with bipolar, but after one listen to the former teenybopper’s new CD, I realized she brought the heat. Blackout has received some vicious reviews from Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and Billboard. Critics just cannot handle this heavily urban sound from America's princess fallen from grace—Blackout shows no remains of the “Oops!... I Did It Again” cheese ball from the ‘90’s.

    Many people say if Britney had herself together this could be the biggest album of her career, but I disagree. The only reason why Blackout is such an excellent pop record is because Britney is a KFC, mayonnaise instead of mustard, white trash train wreck mess—and I love it! Brit had to be a mess to make this CD.

    Blackout is Britney's equivalent to Madonna's Erotica album. Each song sounds like she was in a drug-induced, media spotlight haze. Through every gutter track I imagine Brit singing in a cigarette smoke-filled studio with half empty cans of Budweiser and cold pizza rotting on paper plates. Each song oozes with ferocious production, intoxicating rhythms and nasty beats—all by mainly unknown, urban producers.

    Britney and her team delivers in songs like "Heaven On Earth" (giving me Sheena Easton teas), "Toy Solider" (very Samantha Fox), "Got Naked (I Got A Plan), which includes some interesting background vocals from what I'm assuming is an unknown black male vocalist. Blackout is so morbid you feel pulled into Britney's macabre world, almost like entertaining the mind of a serial killer like in Jennifer Lopez's movie The Cell.

    In an interesting song "Piece of Me" Britney even gets a bit introspective with the lyrics. Through clenched vocals she spats: "I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the rich and famous…I’m Mrs. Oh my God that Britney’s Shameless...I’m Mrs. Extra! Extra! this just in...I’m Mrs. She’s too big now she’s too thin." Britney is no Sylvia Plath, but I damn sure wasn't expecting her to use a light twist on words, even with metaphors.

    Blackout is the CD Kelly Rowland, Mya, or Janet Jackson should have made. Could you imagine if Janet would have released "Gimmie More" and it started with "It's Janet, bitch!" I guarantee you that would've been a hit for Miss Jackson.

    I've never been a Britney Spears fan. The few songs I liked were "I'm A Slave 4 U" and "Toxic." I've never even listened to a Britney album in full, but Blackout kept me interested through every tract. It's quite easily the best pop album of 2007.

    According to Blackout will debut at number one. No promotion, a media trainwreck and she has even told fans to not but the album until she gets her life together…and she still debuts at number one. Some people might argue it’s because Britney is a white woman, but Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan’s album didn’t come close to number one. Britney is definitely THAT BITCH.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 19 comments


    Monday, November 05, 2007

    After two of the best films in 2007, Sicko and Things We Lost in the Fire, I had no cinematic expectations for the rest of the year. My standards were high, especially for documentaries. Then, I received a promotional copy of the documentary For The Bible Tells Me So. The film is a chilling, educational and powerful look at the spiritual assault on the lives of gays and lesbians in America.

    Through personal stories and scholars, For The Bible Tells Me So manages to deliver an informative, but yet personal glimpse on what religion does to human spirits who are "others". While it doesn't take much to convince me religion is a money making machine that people blindly fall for, as a critic, I was a little concerned the film might end up being a didactic documentary with no balance. Yes, many people are abused by the Bible, but if you are going to offer a documentary both sides of the spectrum must be given to the audience, not just the pro-gay side, which is what I was expecting. I was completely wrong.

    For The Bible Tells Me So isn’t an assault on conservative Christians, it’s a panoramic view into the structural underpinnings of religion being used as a tool of oppression. Therefore, the viewer is not only emotionally invested in the gay stories, but also the devoted Christians, who are equally a part of this oppressive fabric. Meaning, not everyone who is anti-gay or against equal rights for LGBT people are hateful people.

    Unlike any book, film, or discussion I have ever read/seen For The Bible Tells Me So effectively shatters the misconceptions of the Bible with tact and an easy to digest point of view. In the first twenty minutes Reverend Peter Gomes, African-American professor at Harvard University says, “You have to think when you read the bible. Perhaps the Roman Catholics were right saying ordinary people shouldn't be reading the bible because usually they get it wrong.” Gomes adds: “They are failing to read the Bible within the context of its author and its original culture."

    The film explains the audacity of Biblical literalism and how misguided it can be, especially with the idea that homosexuality is an “abomination”. Reverend Dr. Laurence C. Keene, Disciples of Christ says: "When the term abomination is used in the Hebrew Bible it’s always used to address a ritual wrong, it never is used to refer to something innately immoral. Eating pork was not innately immoral for a Jew, but it was an abomination because it was a violation of a ritual requirement." The film points out in the same section it is also an abomination to eat shrimp, rabbit and plant two different seeds in the same hole. It’s almost as if the ruling class does not want Americans to truly be informed on the “holy document”. Sadly, people do not realize that preachers in their local churches are just preachers, not historians.

    For The Bible Tells Me So presents the scarring residuals of spiritual violence, which I could write a book on myself with the many LGBT people I have met who do not value their lives because they believe they are going to burn in hell. The film is also incredibly diverse, it is not a white gay male story, there are accounts from blacks, whites, straight, gay, older, younger—all demographics are covered. If you were even remotely raised with your religion in your life, this film will undoubtedly touch your spirit.

    I encourage every person to see For The Bible Tells Me So for themselves. It’s an enlightening film that I hope receives the acknowledgement it so deserves.

    5/5 Stars (The only film I have ever given five stars!)

    Below are some quotes from the movie and a link for screenings in your area.

    Reverend Dr. Joan Brown Campbell of Chautauqua Institution explains the hypocrisy of Biblical literalism: “One of my examples of Biblical literalism is that you must take all you have and give it to the poor. I don't know anyone who says I believe that to be God's word and therefore, I will close my bank accounts, I will give all my money away and I will give it to the poor."

    Reverend Richard Holloway adds: "Most of the literalists in America are also capitalists, they're making money being a biblical literalist. You don't take interest, you couldn't possibly have investments because usually it's condemned in the Bible."

    Reverend Susan Sparks, American Baptist Church on the procreation argument: “The particular section on a man lying with a man, it is about a nation trying to grow. At the time the Hebrew people understood that women had nothing to do with the birth, except for incubation. So that particular section was about saving seed only to procreate so the nation could grow.”

    "You can have a fifth grade understanding of the Bible -- if you're in the fifth grade." - Reverend Dr. Laurence C. Keene

    CLICK HERE for screenings!

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 5 comments


    Friday, November 02, 2007

    On Monday I had the pleasure of interviewing Patti LaBelle for her new Christmas CD Miss Patti's Christmas. Although I am not the biggest fan of Christmas music this ten track CD won me over, especially with the Emotions remake "What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?" Also, there is a Luther Vandross remake of "Every Year, Every Christmas". You can't wrong with production by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis! Miss Patti delivers and if you don't already own it, it is a must have for the holiday season.

    Patti was hands down the best interviewing experience I've ever had. This woman was "realness" personified with her attitude, honesty, energy and just overall spirit. Look forward to a series of upcoming interviews, which I did for various media outlets.

    For now, here is my interview with Patti for Miss Patti discusses her gay fans, the concert at Riviera Beach in Florida where the press claimed she had an “
    onstage breakdown” and the YouTube clip of Patti snapping at a fan—she address it all right here! Plus, she graces us with a few bars of "You Are My Friend."

    Click here to buy Patti's CD Miss Patti's Christmas.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 9 comments


    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe star in the eagerly awaited film American Gangster, the story of legendary Harlem drug lord, Frank Lucas, whose drug trafficking made him one of the biggest mobsters of his time. Washington plays Lucas while Russell Crowe is Richie Roberts, an all-American cop who is for truth, honesty and the NYPD way.

    In a Godfather-Scarface style the movie tracks the life of Frank Lucas as a nobody to a gun pulling, heroin smuggling, fearless murderer whose central focus is always know how these gangster movies are, as long as they are loyal to their biological family the villains morph into simple people who are trapped in the vile world of environmental determinism.

    American Gangster is a film that you expect to be flawless with the casting of Washington, Crowe, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Idris Elba, the legendary Ruby Dee and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. However, there is a bizarre casting of a 35 year-old Common playing the father of 27 year-old TI. Now, I understand attempting to pull in as much of the urban audience as possible, but this casting choice was absolutely ridiculous considering we are already so familiar with the hip-hop mega-stars—Common does not pass for TI’s pappy! Are there no other young African-American to choose from? I guess if TI's character was a butch lesbian they could've cast Bow Wow!

    American Gangster is a "well" movie. Meaning, well-acted, well-written, well-done and might possibly bring in a couple nominations. Nonetheless, throughout the entire film something is just blatantly bland—it's like fried chicken without the skin! See,
    American Gangster moves like a dying slug, slithering across the screen as you wait for each music video sequence to end, each epic monologue to make its point and for the gangster to finally get caught. With all this extra time, you still never feel emotionally invested in any of the characters, except for maybe Ruby Dee who plays Washington's mother.

    The film’s most costly flaw is a grand two hour and thirty-seven minutes. When a flick turns into a saga you better be sure the script is tight, the plot is compelling and the expectation is severe enough for an audience to sit in a theatre long enough to have brain surgery—American Gangster definitely did not do this. In no way is the film bad, but it's certainly exhausting. A good forty-five minutes to an hour needed to be shaved off, which quite possibly could've turned it to a tighter, more interesting tale of a true American Gangster.

    American Gangster is attempting to be grandiose film that wants to go down in history like a Goodfellas. However, by the first day of 2008 American Gangster will be well forgotten. I could see many people enjoying the film and as much as I wanted to—I just didn't. Hell, they would've been better off doing a remake of New Jack City.

    3/5 Stars

    American Gangster is in theatres nationwide tomorrow, November 2nd.


    Posted by Clay :: 12:07 AM :: 6 comments


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