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"... MAKING A WAVE (or is it "way"?) WHEN YOU CAN..."

It is a basic, drab Tuesday - one in which I don't feel like doing the bills which - in part - are overdue as I've just returned from an extended assignment that kept me away and too busy and now-too-worn out to get them done. I don't feel like running the errands I needed to run - including sending some funds to my big brother down in Georgia and picking up Ant's and my dry cleaning - before my next dispatch. I don't feel like straightening up the place - so Ant can continue the work of transforming our space from 'apartment' to 'home'.

goodtimes.jpgMy day was reading like an episode of "Good Times", which we all know is one of my all-time favorites. (www.museum.tv/archives/etv/G/htmlG/goodtimes/goodtimes.htm). So much so, I feel like I am an Evans. I didn't grow up in the projects nor poor, but my childhood family unit (in the '70s) was comprised of a mother, father, two boys (including me), and a girl. The kid order was switched up a bit, but "the smartest" (in the sitcom world [READ: MICHAEL]) was "the smartest" (in reality [READ: ME]), if I don't say so myself. Also, I frustrated my friend Carl one time a couple of years ago as he called me just as I'd finished watching the episode in which they all find out that James is dead. This occured some months after I'd lost someone really close. When I picked up the phone crying, Carl thought "What now?" and - with loving concern - wanted to know what was wrong and if he needed to come over immediately. I told him, choking back the rest of the tears, "... James is dead!". He said ".. who?..". I said "... James Evans is dead...". Once Carl processed - in his mind - all of my friends and family as he sat on the phone with me - perplexed, he realized he didn't know a James in my life. But then, as he pondered the last name, he realized I must have been watching "Good Times". Though the tears were real (from my having viewed that episode at least 100 times), he didn't take too kindly to being swept up in my - as he'd call it - "foolishness". He - to this day - won't let me forget that moment. But I digress...

"...Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin' your head above water,
Making a wave when you can..."

ENTER my "Amazing Grace" Nichole, who is driving up the New Jersey Turnpike from her weekend in D.C. with her sister Tori and her family (Shout out to her nephew Cameron for his high school touchdown and, according to his aunt, signaling her once achieved!). She mentions that she and her co-worker and good girlfriend Carol (CJ we call her...) will be attending an art opening and reception for noted artist Ernie Barnes. Now, my basic, drab Tuesday is suddenly inspired because my man Anthony is an artist (and has done some awesome work in Denver that's received rave reviews - like his sculptor "Unwanted Hair" - a three-piece body of conceptual art consisting of a sculpture made of human hair, a donation bank, and a book of photographs with creative commentary from fellow artists comes together to create a glaring statement about racism in the 21st century. Conceptually, this piece of work is rooted in the fact that, last year a donation of African American locked hair was deemed "inappropriate", and rejected by the national non-profit cancer organization, "Locks of Love". So, in short, for the many who love to touch "our" hair, you must make a donation.). CA8985CZ.jpgAnthony also is a connoisseur and was just talking to me about the "expressionism" of Ernie's work the day prior. This because Anthony is currently working on some pieces that will use this technique. (Yes! He is multi-talented and we look forward to sharing some of his NEW, great pieces with you very soon. He's hard at work - sketching and stretching canvases, etc.). ANT%20THE%20ARTIST.jpgOf course, I - not the connoisseur - replied (in my own pop culture junkie's voice): "... Isn't that the guy whose work is on 'Good Times' and who is the alter-ego for J.J. EVANS?" "YES", Ant replies - rolling his eyes at the simple and country man he calls his "partner". good%20times.jpgBut I did have another frame of reference --- of course from the pop culture spectrum: "His work is also seen on Marvin Gaye's 'I Want You' album. That title track was written by Diana Ross' brother T-Boy who was killed in 1998 and Diana remade the tune on her current project "I Love You" [www.dianaross.com/]." That piece, I remembered (through all the trivia), was called "Sugar Shack". Anthony, more academically and pointedly, let me know that in addition to the aforementioned, Ernie Barnes is like "Norman Rockwell with soul". Curiously, I got that. (I'm no dummy, but not the smartest whip when it comes to fine art either).

Well, back on track with Nichole and CJ's plans to join Mr. Barnes as he planned to showcase 20 of his works under the title "Ernie Barnes: His Art and Inspiration" in the Time Warner Center's Great Room (www.theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com/), I knew that Ant and I should forego our yoga plans to attend. Since Nichole didn't have the info and I didn't dare wait on her to get it, I googled; called Ernie's 1-800 number via his website; those folks gave me his assistant's number; and - ten minutes later - Ant and I were all good to attend.

PATRICK%20ERNIE%20ANT.jpgUpon our arrival, I uncovered that Ernie Barnes is more than JJ's alter-ego on "Good Times". He is a retired NFL player, who once played for the Colts, Chargers and the Broncos... and that stat was a part of why we were all gathered. ERNIE%20ANT.jpgThis was a tribute in addition to a viewing (which runs through October 29... so PLEASE GO CATCH IT). The core of the Tribute is an exhibition of twenty of Barnes’ most recent artworks, entitled "Liberating Humanity from Within", in which Barnes seeks to portray moments of transcendence in everyday life. A full-color catalog with an essay by William A. Fagaly of the New Orleans Museum of Art accompanied the exhibition. inner%20strength.jpgOne piece, in particular, that spoke to me: "An Inner Strength". It reminded "me" of "me" - "a little boy from the South trying to stay strong despite the cracks in his life - from circumstance to society to his soul". At least, that's what I got out of it... and I truly am learning to appreciate ART and Anthony is mentoring me towards our household being one where we will collect and invest in art -- African American art in particular.PATRICK%20PAINTING.jpgANT%20WITH%20PAINTING.jpg

 

Learning that Ernie has focused his last 30 years on his impressive artistic talent full-time (www.erniebarnes.com) truly made this a lesson for me. Moreover, Ernie has painted some amazing work -- deemed Neo-Mannerist -- that has truly inspired many, including those in attendance. ERNIE%20AUDREY%20MELBA.jpgI was really excited to see Miss Melba Moore there. I recently saw her perform at my friend Scott Nevins' SPLASH (www.scottnevins.com/) set (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/9/11/i-look-back-on-all-those-good-times.html). And I did interview her some years ago. PATRICK%20MELBA%201.jpgBut here, I got to get my picture and let her know how much I have loved her over the years - from "Purlie" to "Other Side of the Rainbow" to "Falling" to "Read My Lips" to her current release:  "Live in Concert" (http://www.amazon.com/Melba-Moore-Live-Concert/dp/B000PMLIWC). PATRICK%20MELBA%202.jpgShe was so gracious and allowed Ant and me to have our way with her. Pictures together. Pictures apart. Pictures with Ernie's art in the middle. Thank you, MISS MOORE!!!!MELBA%20ANT%202.jpg

 

Then, there was Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Elinor Tatum (who is always so gracious and sweet), the legendary Audrey Smaltz (www.groundcrew.net/) - renowned fashionista and fashion show coordinator, whose work set the foundation for Ebony Fashion Fair; and MISS ESSENCE: Susan Taylor (who I feel annointed Ant's and my relationship after I introduced her to Anthony. She commented "What good looking brothers together and in love!!!" WOW! Susan Taylor said that to me!). REGGIE%20PATRICK.jpgAmong many others - NFL Great Reggie Williams with whom I had a chance to bond when I hosted the "Disney Dreamer's Academy" event at NABJ's convention (www.nabj.org) in Las Vegas (www.steveharvey.com/disneysdreamersacademy/). DISNEYEVENT5.jpgWe also ran into Ant's and my new friend Kitt, who works for Anderson Cooper at CNN (www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/). She was just getting off work (New York CNN is in the Time Warner Center as well) and she graciously posed with us. PAT%20KITT.jpg But in this sea of beautiful, Black people --- the gorgeous art included (of course, there were lovely speckles of white on the canvas and in the room) --- there was one "white" man who really got me excited. I'd never met him and have always admired his work. I even find him to be a muse for what I aim to do at my optimum in this business - a TV personality with natural wit and charm who gets to talk about his life... interview some celebs... have fun with some info-taining segments... and sing a bit when it fits the schedule (on stage and CD)... who has a loving and supportive partner and family. It was REGIS PHILBIN!!! And though I can get a little shy about approaching a celebrity with whom I have no pointed business (especially my idols), I made it my business to say HI to REGIS! He was friendly and jokingly menacing --- all in one breath. When I told him a bit about me - professionally, he offered that he might want to steal me to work for his show (bventertainment.go.com/tv/buenavista/regisandkelly/noflash.html). PATRICK%20REGIS.jpg

 

As we walked into the Stone Rose Lounge on the 4th Floor, we admired the work -- flowers and displays -- of STEM LIFE (by Stephen Bruce Design). One of the partners Melissa Bushell came up to make sure I recognized. (www.stephenbrucedesign.com or www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com). Also, I excitedly caught a glimpse of one of my favorite soul artists from 'the old school': BILL WITHERS (www.billwithersmusic.com/). CJ%20AND%20BILL%20WITHERS.jpgYou remember. "Lean on Me"; "Grandma's Hands"; "Ain't No Sunshine"; "Just The Two of Us"; and "Lovely Day", one of two songs my Miss Ross re-made on the aforementioned album "I Love You" (www.dianaross.com). The other is "Same Love That Made Me Laugh" from her 1977 project "Baby, It's Me" - one of my favorites. CHECK OUT "YOU TUBE" TO HEAR THEM ALL! I even met two young men Alex Vlack (www.latenightandweekends.com) and Damani Baker (www.prestinfilms.com) - both of whom have been filming a documentary on Mr. Withers and his special life that most might think has experienced some fall from grace, but from their sharings (without giving anything away), this film will be a front-row seat into the heart and soul of a man who grew up in Slab Fork, West Virginia in 1938 and how the soundtrack this "Black man in America" provided the world often reflected what was going on in our own life and times. Look for it next year sometime, if not 2009. PATRICK%20AND%20BILL%20WITHERS.jpgThe festival circuit may first be its home, but there are also talks with premium cable outlets. Stay tuned... and know I'll share what they share here. In addition to reminding the guys that Miss Ross covered some Bill Withers' tunes, I offered that Withers' "Use Me" was spun-off into a Gospel tune that my Dad used to play (via his huge album collection) all the time on Sunday mornings and we'd sing along. I've got to get the name of that gospel group (perhaps a quartet - Dad's favorite genre within Gospel) and share it with them. They were floored!!!! (And after press time, I spoke to my Dad who was able to find this record on the foundation of my "memory". I remembered an album with a man and some women (two or three) in peach/pink, dowman-sleeved caftans. He said he'd flip through his thousands and thousands of albums for me -- an artform I adopted genetically from my father -- and call me back. 15 minutes later, Dad called back, saying "Your memory is spot on - photographic even. I'm looking at a man in a pink suit with two women to each side of him in the very dresses you described. The name of the group is "Bill Moss and the Celestials". The name of the album is "I Don't Want To Do Wrong" (Jewel - LPS - 0112). The track you mention is on SIDE 1, #3 and it's title is "Keep on Using Me ('Til You Use Me Up)" from 1975". Now, the "autistic" Patrick can rest assured that his childlhood memory was not playing tricks on him. I spent lots of time studying Dad's albums - the artwork, lyrics, fonts, liner notes, etc. And though I didn't always know the artists, I always enjoyed looking at the albums. Little did I know those memories are still with me. Given that, it's no wonder "childhood traumas" and "breaks in belonging" linger and stick with us through and to adulthood, huh?)

NICHOEL%20PAT%20CJ%20ANT.jpgAfter this brilliant night, the girls, Ant, and I decided to enjoy a light meal - alfresco (since the night was so mild and spring-like) - at Anthony's and my favorite Dream Hotel's Serafina (http://www.serafinarestaurant.com/). Of course, since we were dining next to the Bad Boy Worldwide Headquarters (www.badboyonline.com/), it's no surprise that we ran into Mr. Sean "Diddy" Combs himself. He was on the sidewalk with a host of employees. Though a bodyguard maintained his post -- dissuading me from saying "Hi", Mr. Combs caught my eye and came over to speak to my folks and me. (I've interviewed him several times over the years and he's always been great to me). PAT%20AND%20DIDDY.jpgAfter we caught up and I introduced him to everyone, we were prepared to gracefully exit the zone of whatever he put on pause to say HI. But before we could walk off, he signaled someone to give us his fragrance - "The men's fragrance and the women's fragrance...". Soon, his folks were distributing "UNFORGIVABLE MAN" and "UNFORGIVABLE WOMAN" (www.seanjohnfragrances.com/). ONLY IN NEW YORK CITY, I tell you!!!DIDDY%20ANT.jpg When I exclaimed those very words, after we walked off from Diddy, Ant retorted "... only with Patrick Riley!!!". Truth be told, you couldn't have met four less star-struck people than us (on one hand as we've all been in the business and up-front-and-personal with a lot of the greats). Still, on that other hand, it never ceases to thrill me when the household likes of Diddy or - even Susan Taylor from ESSENCE - approach this "little Black boy from Savannah, Georgia" with enthusiasm for seeing me or when they call my name or when they are not only kind to me but to my people. It's humbling and quite the - as my Audrey would say - 'spa treatment for the ego', but also a testament to 'who I am being' in the world. It's feedback that just happens to come from some folks we all know a bit more because of what they do in the mass media.

ANT%20NICH%20CJ%20KARAOKE.jpgWhat was already a plentiful night just kept turning out more revelations: In the spirit of a good lyric, CJ felt we should honor our original plans to cap the night off with some karaoke (especially since this new spot we wanted to try was only a half-block away - Japas 55). NICHOLE%20CJ%20PAT%202.jpgNot our regular spot, but with C.J. in the mix, we called joy forth for about one hour. From Diana's "The Boss" to Janet's "Love You For A Little While", we experienced some new songs sprinkled with old songs (that had different videos and lyrical instructions than the other location). One round of saki down and we decided to call it a night - a wonderful night, a night that one can only have in New York City!!!!! A night of:

Good Times.
Any time you meet a payment.
Good Times.
Any time you need a friend.
Good Times.
Any time you're out from under.

Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin' your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.

Temporary lay offs.
Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs.
Good Times.
Scratchin' and surviving.
Good Times.
Hangin in a chow line
Good Times.
Ain't we lucky we got 'em
Good Times.
PAT%20AND%20ANT%20NYC.jpg

Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 04:01AM by Registered CommenterTHE LIFE OF RILEY in | CommentsPost a Comment | References35 References

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