Face your demons — Leave us out of it

Some people have their version of insanity going in their lives. They’re either constantly complaining about jobs, no good significant others who maybe cheating or beating on them, and/or substances they’re addicted to.

I’m not a bad guy so I’ll lend a ear, give some advice, drop you off to rehab, or call the cops if its that serious. But after that one time, if I see you’re stuck on repeat, I’ll just leave you alone. I got no time for masochistic gluttons for punishment — I got a world to face and money to make!

argue “Not today, don’t kill me with it”

A guy who I know on Facebook calls these people “askholes,” because they ask about the same problem again and again, without change. If I see that you’re continuing the same sob story, I’ll quit picking up your phone calls. If we’re face to face, I’ll tell you that you’re tripping and to try what I suggested already, or don’t tell me about. I may get viewed the a**hole, but f**k it I’ll be that.

If you’re getting good advice, or similar advice about a particular problem then put it into practice. Don’t keep dragging us down with a problem you seem to enjoy having in your life. So drama queen or emotional a** man: Not today, don’t kill me with it.

Written by Nicholas A. Brown, author, editor, and ghostwriter

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Transformations

Last night, I watched Left Eye’s (from the successful 90’s R&B group, TLC) documentary for the first time EVER called “Last Days of Left Eye.” Yes, I know I’m years late, but the way I got to watch this in the first place was from what I call my YouTube Adventures. You know how you go on YouTube say, at 6 p.m. looking for something like maybe a tutorial for a Bantu knot-out but next thing you know, it 3 o’clock in the morning and now you’re watching Divine Nine strolling or a basket full of meowing little kittens? Yeah, it’s like that.

It all started with me listening to Aaliyah’s “Enough Said” (the fan-made SOLO version, because Drake is a pain in the ass to listen to), then I looked up “Drake on Aaliyah,” and a video popped up where Drake talks about how Aaliyah influenced his life and music. Under “Related Videos,” I saw a video that was titled, “Left Eye talks about Aaliyah’s Death.” So I watched that, then again, under “Related Videos” I spotted “Last Days of Left Eye.” THAT’S how this happened.

I was lured in by a certain curiosity about what this documentary could possibly contain. I mean, yeah I knew about TLC, listened to their music a little growing up, but I wasn’t a hard core fan. That’s why until last night, the only things that I was left “knowing” about Left Eye was that she was “a crazy so-and-so who burned down her boyfriend’s house.” But how very wrong I was, and I realized this as I watched the documentary. I learned so MUCH about Left Eye that I would have NEVER thought to associate with her.

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Astrology! Numerology! Yoga! Herbs! Raw cleanses! Vegan/vegetarianism! What?! I was in TEARS by the time I got to the end of the video, then I was inspired to write about THIS today: Why do artists (any form of art creators) seem to pass away AS SOON AS they begin to undergo a major transformation bringing them closer to their higher selves? Why do they pass away AS SOON AS they’re about to cross over and take on a MAJOR POSITIVE CHANGE or MOVE in their lives? Left Eye. Aaliyah. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. The list goes on and on and on.

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Aaliyah, a superstar, teenage sensation who blossomed into a beautiful young woman that stayed true to herself, her values, her image, a role model who never allowed herself to be consumed by the happenings around her…she already had the music game on lock, danced, modeled and THEN she hit us all with her ACTING! Aaliyah was slated to star in so many upcoming film projects, was taking more control of the creation of her music, wanted to start writing her songs, showed us her growth over the years and then….the plane crash.

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Left Eye, the zany, spunky outspoken member of TLC, she had endured so much in her life, ESPECIALLY once she became famous…after all the ups and downs with the group and her personal life, she broke away, worked on HERSELF (Know Thyself, Heal Thyself, Love Thyself, Be Thyself) and she was ready to release some solo projects, manage a new girl group called Egypt, help the children of Honduras (the country where she found her solace) and then…the car crash.

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Michael Jackson, in show business since he was five-years-old, he grew up in a tight-knit, but strict family, he was taunted and teased by family and strangers alike, but he overcame ALL obstacles and went on to become The King of Pop and the GREATEST ENTERTAINER OF ALL TIME. After all the disgrace and attempts to tarnish his name and legacy, Michael wanted to leave the country and retire from tours, etc. and pursue films and other projects but Michael was going to come back to serve the world that famous Moonwalk ONE LAST TIME and then…the murder (say what you want, that man, my Angel, was MURDERED).

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Whitney Houston, beautiful pop sensation of the 80s and 90s with a HUGE, POWERFUL voice that stirred your heart, soul, EVERYTHING, who also overcame obstacles of drug abuse, media ridicule, dysfunctional relationship, etc…she was gearing up for the best comeback ever and then….the drowning.

My mind is sent REELING every time I sit and think about the way these talented beings left this world and the TIMING of it all. I know we say, “Everything happens for a reason,” “Destiny and Fate are already written” blah, blah, blah…but for people like THEM, there is no understanding. If we are all Spirits sent here in Human form on a mission to complete and a purpose to fulfill, why then are these people taken away at what seems to be only their beginning?

It makes me think about myself as an artist, as a Creatress …as a Spirit inhabiting this Human body for a certain amount of time. What will my legacy be? Will I have fulfilled my purpose before I go? Will my life be cut short?

Have you ever felt this way?

Black History Hero: Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Born to Carrie McDonald, a laundress, and Eddie Carson, a musician, Josephine Baker’s early life hinted at her future career. She first danced for the public on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri for nickels and dimes. Later, she became a chorus girl on the St. Louis stage. At age 15, she married Pullman porter William Howard Baker, but left him when she ran away from St. Louis at age 17, feeling there was too much racial discrimination in the city, and eventually made her way to Paris, France. Her first job in Paris was in “La revue negre”. Her next significant job was at the Folies Bergere, where she was a member of their all-black revue. It was there, in 1925, that she first performed her famous “banana dance”. She quickly became a favorite of the French, and her fame grew, but she had many ups and downs during her career. Although popular in France, during the McCarthy “Red Scare” era of the 1950s, she was falsely accused of being a Communist and informed that she was no longer welcome in the United States (in 1937 she had renounced her American citizenship, thoroughly disgusted by the blatant and official racism against blacks, and became a citizen of France).

In 1961, Josephine was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award. In the late 1960s, she began having financial difficulties, and stopped performing in 1968.Grace Kelly, who by that time had married Prince Rainier of Monaco and was now known as Princess Grace of Monaco, offered her a home in Monaco when she learned of Josephine’s financial problems. At the request of Princess Grace, she performed at Monaco’s summer ball in 1974 and was a great success. That same year, she staged a week of performances in New York City and called the show “An Evening with Josephine Baker”. She had just begun a Paris revue celebrating her half-century on the stage, when on April 10, 1975, she was stricken and went into a coma. She died without regaining consciousness. Her funeral was held in Paris, and she was buried in Monaco.

(Source: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001927/bio)

Black History Hero: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was a true artist of her day and rose as a social phenomenon in the 1950s. Her soulful, unique singing voice and her ability to boldly turn any material that she confronted into her own music made her a superstar of her time. Today, Holiday is remembered for her masterpieces, creativity and vivacity, as many of Holiday’s songs are as well known today as they were decades ago. Holiday’s poignant voice is still considered to be one of the greatest jazz voices of all time.

Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan) grew up in jazz talent-rich Baltimore in the 1920s. As a young teenager, Holiday served the beginning part of her so-called “apprenticeship” by singing along with records by Bessie Smith or Louis Armstrong in after-hours jazz clubs. When Holiday’s mother, Sadie Fagan, moved to New York in search of a better job, Billie eventually went with her. She made her true singing debut in obscure Harlem nightclubs and borrowed her professional name – Billie Holiday – from screen star Billie Dove. Although she never underwent any technical training and never even so much as learned how to read music, Holiday quickly became an active participant in what was then one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the country. She would move from one club to another, working for tips. She would sometimes sing with the accompaniment of a house piano player while other times she would work as part of a group of performers.

At the age of 18 and after gaining more experience than most adult musicians can claim, Holiday was spotted by John Hammond and cut her first record as part of a studio group led by Benny Goodman, who was then just on the verge of public prominence. In 1935 Holiday’s career got a big push when she recorded four sides that went on to become hits, including “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Miss Brown to You.” This landed her a recording contract of her own, and then, until 1942, she recorded a number of master tracks that would ultimately become an important building block of early American jazz music.

Holiday began working with Lester Young in 1936, who pegged her with her now-famous nickname of “Lady Day.” When Holiday joined Count Basie in 1937 and then Artie Shaw in 1938, she became one of the very first black women to work with a white orchestra, an impressive accomplishment of her time.

In the 1930s, when Holiday was working with Columbia Records, she was first introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit,” an emotional piece about the lynching of a black man. Though Columbia would not allow her to record the piece due to subject matter, Holiday went on to record the song with an alternate label, Commodore, and the song eventually became one of Holiday’s classics. It was “Strange Fruit” that eventually prompted Lady Day to continue more of her signature, moving ballads.

Holiday recorded about 100 new recordings on another label, Verve, from 1952 to 1959. Her voice became more rugged and vulnerable on these tracks than earlier in her career. During this period, she toured Europe, and made her final studio recordings for the MGM label in March of 1959.

Despite her lack of technical training, Holiday’s unique diction, inimitable phrasing and acute dramatic intensity made her the outstanding jazz singer of her day. White gardenias, worn in her hair, became her trademark. “Singing songs like the ‘The Man I Love’ or ‘Porgy’ is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I’ve lived songs like that.”

Billie Holiday, a musical legend still popular today, died an untimely death at the age of 44. Her emotive voice, innovative techniques and touching songs will forever be remembered and enjoyed.

(source: http://www.billieholiday.com/)

The New Anecdotal Prose Poem versus The 50 Shades of Gray Area in Book Publishing

People tend to be afraid of or unsure about things that are new. New styles of music takes years to get hip, new television shows dealing with powerful themes need to be absorbed by the viewers minds, and even books, unless written by someone already famous, takes a while to catch on.

Like the music industry today, unless an artist has built a platform (a following or fan base), publishing companies won’t pay you any mind. Plus in a city like Miami where street sales, even with a permit to do so is prohibited, unless you aren’t standing stationary, how can an author, even one who developed their own style of expressive writing respected by people with Ph.Ds make leeway?

WHAT’S AN ANECDOTAL PROSE POEM?

The anecdotal prose poem is like an essay, which touches on a particular topic, that uses literary and poetic flair in some of the language, with anecdotes and short stories intertwined. As Patricia Ross of Hugo House Publishing (who holds a doctorate in English) said that Dragonflies in the Swamp is like an epic poem with the anecdotes, but it tells solid yet positive messages from a gritty place due to it speaking about the streets of Miami. Now if the author only had the thousands of dollars needed to have Hugo House market the book, then maybe this style of writing can get a shot of being found.

Teachers from Kansas, lawyers in Washington D.C., professors at Florida International University put this work in their libraries, and even publishing houses that has rejected this work showed respect by stating:

“Dear Mr. Brown,

Thank you for your recent submission to Greenleaf Book Group. We carefully reviewed your work and concluded that it does not fit our needs at this time. Our decision was based on a review of the following criteria:

Content
Overall quality
Sales potential

‘Dragonflies in the Swamp’ did not meet our standards in the following areas:

Sales potential” 

– Greenleaf Book Group

For those who don’t know “sales potential” means doesn’t have a following. Great work with much to say, but because the author isn’t a known professor, magazine/newspaper columnist, lecturer on the cross country circuit for he’s finding out how that process works, or a pissy drunk celebrity leaving the club with no underwear on, then his work must sit in the dark for now. The author is finding out that he must go to literary events that are few and far between in South Florida, plus he began freelancing a few months ago, so his funds aren’t up to par enough yet for much promotion and pow wowing.

QUALITY UNDERVALUED 

I spoke to a guy who wrote books a while back. He said that in Miami you must set up events in order to sell or make noise. The author of Dragonflies has done events that were scheduled to be on PBS South Florida (Lip Service), and has done smaller poetry events, and plans to do more. So of course, any bit of help is welcomed, so may this post fly into God’s mind and said to the world that it is good as well.

What more can this person do until he can hopefully find his stride on the lecture circuit and attain serious clientele as a copywriter, ghostwriter, and soon to be writing consultant.

He’s more than just some lone wolf type hiding behind a keyboard or typewriter. From what I understand, he wants to start a company that will not only publish books, but have departments that’ll provide:

  • Proofreading & editing
  • Write content for online usage for people and companies
  • Ghostwriting whole literary projects
  • Consult companies wanting to do their own written projects
  • Consult companies who need content for websites & blogs
  • Market and promote self-publishers with great content
  • Act as agent for self-publishers or authors who have something great they’ve created.

Sex sells, so with 50 Shades coming into theaters soon, I see nothing but horny single women, lonely housewives, and Grey fans checking this out. I guess along with strippers, the author of Dragonflies must write books about rich guys sleeping with freaky chicks who love being controlled S & M style, who has a huge c**k and doesn’t take orders from nobody but the Holy Trinity.

New weapons are being created everyday that get used in battle. New technologies are being funded by angel investors looking to get on board the next app, Google, Apple or even Facebook. New foods and beverages are bought up and sold quickly by food companies and supermarkets. Yet new authors, painters, musicians with amazing skills, who are innovators are left in the dust.

Traditional ways produced legendary artists and bands in music like Michael Jackson, Duke Ellington, The Who, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Tupac Shakur and the latest in Kendrick Lamar and Adele. But now we have so many one hit wonders, and fly-by-night singers and rappers its a shame. All because these whack artists won a contest on TV or built a fan base. Years ago, artists who got known from just fan base (the Chief Keefs, Kreayshawns, and the latest American Idol alums of the world), they were around, they just weren’t pushed because their quality of work didn’t match with the legends we know today.

Traditional ways produced writers such as Steven King, J.K. Rowling, Ernst Hemingway, and countless others. Many folks have told me that people don’t read anymore. Yet those who claim not to read love to read comments on posts, after they’ve read an article they saw on Facebook, or looked on blog sites where tales such as Twilight get spawned from.

IT IS WHAT IT IS

Dragonflies touches on sex, how to motivate oneself, how to get money, how to be a better person everyday, and how not to get your ass kicked by cops. Yet the author must keep finding ways to sell books, be heard, and respected without breaking any laws or told “niggas don’t read” every so often.

Yeah, you can promote and grind yourself, but to do it all takes a team of people who believe in you, and who see that dealing with you brings in money. The anecdotal prose needs to be heard, but it takes funds, fans and word of mouth. You can either buy a book, or order a service, either way, if things don’t get done, know that America had a shot at introducing something new to the world other than Young Thug and stealth drones.

In the long run, Pip N Pens Literary, Copy Writing, & Consulting Company must get the funds to push people, and provide services. It must wait until another author comes in with a book filled with short stories and anecdotal prose poems, hopefully just the prose poems. In the long run, contests will be held for the most epic of anecdotal prose. And in the long run, all genres of books shall be published through Pip N Pens. This new way of writing and business shall see sunlight. It just gotta make its way out of the valley of death filled thinking.

Nicholas Brown, author of Dragonflies in the Swamp and coauthor of So You Want To Be A Stripper?

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Black History Hero: Phyllis Hyman

Phyllis Hyman was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in St. Clair Village, the South Hills section of Pittsburgh. Born to an Italian mother and African-American father, Hyman was the eldest of seven children. She was also the third cousin of actor Earle Hyman (best known for his recurring role on The Cosby Show as Cliff’s father, Russell Huxtable). After leaving Pittsburgh, her music training started at a music school. On graduation, she performed on a national tour with the group New Direction in 1971. After the group disbanded, she joined All the People and worked with another local group, The Hondo Beat. At this time, she appeared in the film Lenny (1974). She also did a two-year stint leading a band called “Phyllis Hyman and the P/H Factor”. She was discovered in 1975 by internationally known pop artist and music industry veteran Sid Maurer, and former Epic Records promoter Fred Frank, and signed to their Roadshow Records/Desert Moon imprint.

Hyman moved to New York City to work on her career. She did background vocals on Jon Lucien‘s Premonition and worked in clubs. In 1975 when Norman Connors was laying tracks for You Are My Starship (1976) he could not get permission to use Jean Carne for the album and had heard about Phyllis Hyman, who was working at a club on the upper Westside of Manhattan. One night after a Jon Lucien concert at Carnegie Hall he went to see Hyman perform and offered her a spot as the female vocalist on his fourth album for Buddah Records. Once the title song got airplay on jazz radio, You Are My Starship went gold, catapulting Hyman’s career along with Norman Connors and Michael Henderson to new heights. R&B radio jumped on board and Connors and Hyman scored on the R&B charts with a remake of The Stylistics‘ “Betcha by Golly Wow!“.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Hyman)

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A New Year’s Resolution We Should All Get Behind

It’s that time again, end-of-the-year, oh my gawd- how’d I get so fat time. It happens. But here’s a challenge. … Instead of losing weight in 2015, why not gain some knowledge instead?

Here’s what provoked my thought:

I was listening to a group I hadn’t listened to in ages… A group called Dead Prez. They are a bit on the radical side, but I can appreciate their focus on healthy eating. I have always believed that healthy eating is absolutely required for a healthy mind. Growing up natural in the South, I was always looked down on because of my eating habits…

“What you mean you don’t want some fried chicken? I got this from Bo’Janges — it’s the good stuff!”

Um, no thank you.

So when Dead Prez spit these lyrics in their song, Download (Expand Beyond), I knew what my New Year’s Resolution would be:  living healthy.

From the beginning, the words spoke to me:

Raised in the ghetto singing songs of survival

But eating soul food that’ll have you dead on arrival

Hand on the rifle, other hand on the Bible

Strong as an ox but look at what you put inside you…

Americans are dying. We are dying from heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. Nearly half of women like me have some sort of heart disease, are the most likely to die from cancer, and are more likely to develop respiratory diseases. Is that because we are genetically predisposed?

Absolutely not.

Every single day we ingest toxins, and then we sit and wonder why we are dying. We create cooking oils out of chemicals, grow our food in chemicals, package our food with chemicals, and give our babies chemically-sprayed toys. We even breathe in the fresh chemicals in the air while waiting for chemical – producing public transportation. The American environment is toxic to anyone that does not make a reasonable effort to protect themselves from it.

A little scary, huh?

We can’t prevent everything, but we sure as heck shouldn’t add to it.

The way I see it, the typical American lifestyle is hazardous to the health. I also believe that the most economically disadvantaged are the ones at the highest risk. We can fight back by regaining what is ours… our personal health. Only then will we be able to live in true happiness and wealth… otherwise, it is all just a façade.

We say we living well, but we living in Hell

I plan on being very (w/h)ealthy in 2015, how about you?