Interlude: Sable Fan Gyrl Approved

*possible spoilers ahead*

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Whereby Beyonce Breaks the Internet, and Kismet Drinks (Some of) the Koolaid

Beyonce broke the Internet on Sunday with a super futuristic, multimedia, high energy performance of “Run the World (Girls)” at the 2011 Billboard Awards.  She also may have shut up all the haters, myself included.

I heard the song when it first dropped and not only did I tune it out as analgesic, monotonous refuse my iPod would chew up and spit out in disgust, but the lyrics themselves hit my radar as pretty damn problematic.  Or at least the ones that aren’t the hook…which is most of the song…

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Sunday Livin’: Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin


Writing so often (and in such crowded cafes), working alongside music aficionados, and teaching about New Orleans is forcing me to reconsider getting into jazz.

My knowledge of the form pretty much begins with Natalie Cole and ends somewhere in the blue with Miles Davis.  And it’s not that I’m uninterested.  But I’ve got a tendency to play what I like over and over until I’m sick of it.  And since that process may take years, I miss a lot of great stuff in between.  Like Cassandra Wilson…

…which popped up in my Pandora station one day (her ole fine self, singin like an angel…lawd).

Enter Matana (Mah-ten-ah) Roberts:

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For the Sable FanGyrls & FanBoys Out There

Yo Nola, Selena wants her bandana back.


The Glyph nominees are out.  H/T courtesty of the good folks over at Racialicious:

The nominees for Rich Watson’s annual Glyph Awards (created to recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color, which will be presented in May at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) in Philadelphia) are out and our own Chad Nevett was part of the nomination committee. I felt that last year’s committee (of which I was a part of, along with David Brothers) did a great job, so I was eagerly awaiting what Chad and his group decided on, and they, too, did a very nice job!

Read on for the nominees!

Click above for the rest.

I don’t read comic books but I wish I did.  Comic books always felt too male, too hyper-sexualized-women’s-bodies, too visual, too campy and nerdy to get into (I know, I know–social constructions of gender anyone?).  I won’t say too white, because I grew up watching the X-Men cartoon on Saturday mornings and, at least in the Marvel Universe, there was a range of blackness and whiteness (Delta drawlin’ Gambit ranks as one of my top ten cartoon crushes, along with Robin from the New Batman Series and Goliath from Gargoyles).

But fierce female characters are my gateway drug.  Storm (X-Men animated series) was the only one I got wind of and they may as well have written Asexual Strong Black Woman in large font across her white spandex chest.  It would have been less obvious.  Black female stereotypes in fiction = huge turn off.  If the writers can so easily get away with creating a “token” or “magical every(black)woman” character, what else are they doing wrong?

But the Glyph awards are geared towards comics by and for people of color.  Win.  And while this year’s Glyph nominees are almost all male artists and writers, there is a category for “Best Female Character” (click Nola Thomas above for a review of Issue #1 of the series).   Plus there’s this:

“For the first time, the GCA Committee announces the creation of the Chairman’s Award, a new award given in special recognition of a work in any media outside of comics, including but not limited to books, television, film, or the Internet, that illuminates the black comics experience in an exceptional manner, and also broadens and deepens the growing body of knowledge about black comics worldwide.

This year, the GCA Committee bestows the award to the book Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture, by Damian Duffy & John Jennings, a reference book spotlighting over fifty different independent black comics creators from the past quarter century. The release of this book was accompanied by a gallery exhibition in New York containing artwork from some of the book’s featured artists.”

*logs off* *walks over to Amazon to find a copy*


The Internet of Things Ate My Activism

This week, ReadWriteWeb reported that more things went online via AT&T and Verizon than humans:

In the race to the mobile internet, the machines have quickened their pace beyond what we humans have, at least in the US. Dishwashers, refrigerators, home heating units and other objects are next in line, then perhaps very widespread tiny sensors – and that’s a lot more exciting than it might sound.

We humans are reaching full market penetration and growth in subscription sales to us is slowing down, but there are more potentially-connected objects than there are human beings, and those objects are coming online faster and faster, according to a new report released today by wireless industry analyst Chetan Sharma. As Stacy Higginbotham, who first reported on these numbers, wrote today, “the data indicates that the Internet of things has clearly dawned, and with it, a new arena of competition.”

I can’t lie.  I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this.  Things?  As in my iPhone?  But isn’t online because I am?

A nifty little video helped break it down:

I know you young’uns are all up on your smartphones these days and that may make a lot of sense to you (read: I blame you).  And I loves the interwebs.  But as a first generation digital native and birth-to-earth sable fangirl–


I grew up in the age of post-apocalypse Mad Max, I’ll-be-back, stranded across the universe with monsters science and military gone wrong sci-fi (all of which coincided ever so nicely with crack epidemic era of hip hop.  Coincidence?).  The Wachowski brothers went to my high school.  My first introduction to afrofuturistic, womanist speculative fiction was Octavia Butler’s trauma-ridden, year 2024 end of the world novel Parable of the Sower.  I still kinda think that the best reading and writing is done with a book in your hands not a Kindle–mainly because I like the finality and legality of paper products.

So when you tell me that the day will/has come when my laundry machine, air-conditioner, fridge and hair dryer are smarter than me…I start getting itchy.  For realz.

moya b. over at Crunk Feminists Collective writes:

“BP Oil Spill cleanup won’t be done til 2014 and that’s a conservative estimate.

Wyclef has the nerve to run for president of Haiti (haven’t the Haitian People suffered enough?! Yo, even Jeff Spicoli is saying fall back!). Seriously?!

Landslides and fires are wiping places off the map!

Google, whose public mantra was “Don’t be evil” has recently reincarnated into the Devil himself and is teaming up with Verison to make the internet even more inaccessible and costly for folks….

I’m done. I am moving away from the (in)justice system and embracing my new love, Nihilism….”

Enter the New York Times Magazine with this disturbing little gallery on scavenging for precious metals in Ghana…

Pieter Hugo/NYT, "A Graveyard for Computers in Ghana" or click for more

…and I’m reminded that all those things that get such pretty animation in the IBM video, all those things including the computer I am typing this on right now are part of a global crisis for “conflict minerals” the average U.S. internet user remains stubbornly quarantined from.

That gallery was for Ghana.  Across the continent (via Afrobeat):

While not the only mineral fueling the war in the Congo, coltan (columbite–tantalite) is the mineral at the center of issues.  80% World’s known reserves are in Congo (DRC), mostly in the Eastern provinces of Kivus and Orientale. Tantalum from coltan is used in capacitors in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers, including iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, PCs, cell phones, digital cameras, etc.

The brutality against women and children in this region is well-documented.  Rape IS a weapon of war.

We bitched and moaned about Naomi Campbell accepting or not accepting conflict diamonds but we are right now building an Internet of Things every time we search Bossip or YBF on our smartphones.  Talk about a technology industrial complex (especially with the Google-Verizon deal).  And at what cost?  And for whom?  And how do we–will we, hell, can we–stop?

Janelle Monae in io9

She’s deep into futurist Ray Kurzweil and loves Octavia Butler’s writing. But her science fiction stories play out over itchy beats, under a James Brown cape. io9 interviews the unclassifiable musician about her influences and dreams for the future.

Janelle Monae has gotten attention for being the rare mainstream artist who is clearly doing her own thing, drawing from influences as diverse as James Brown, psychedelia, punk, and Disney’s Fantasia. Her albums tell the epic story of Cindy Mayweather, the Alpha Platinum 9000, a droid optimized for rock performance, often cloned but never equaled. Cindy is on the run, having fallen in love with the human millionaire Anthony Greendown – a pairing which, in Metropolis, is against the law.

There is a history of musicians working with futuristic themes — think David Bowie, P.Funk, Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon, or Nona Hendryx of LaBelle. But Monae has tighter bonds to science fiction. She did a concert in an episode of Stargate Universe, and has alluded to various science fiction authors who inspired her. In an interview with io9, she talked about some of her influences.