i_now_pronounce_you_chuck_and_larry.jpgAs of last Friday, it didn't look like my update was going to provide more than Anthony and me joining friends Jamar, Natasha, Camille, Jamie, and Cynthia for Chipotle (www.chipotle.com/) --- our new McDonald's corporation-owned fast-food favorite (with Margarita to boot) and a movie: "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (www.chuckandlarry.com/), which I enjoyed (at least, the part during which I was awake). Then, fast forward to today, when I attend a play that reminds me: "... Life is a careless whisper that we all take for granted...". And as I look back at the week, I want to make sure I don't take for granted the many blessings and people with whom I came into contact. Each moment is worth mentioning.


On Saturday, Ern invited Anthony, his friend Tina and her friend Nikki to Chinatown for massages at Chinatown Wellness Center (www.cwcherbs.com). I'm still feeling the impact of my masseur's strong hand in my chest TODAY. But it was thorough and a nice treat. TINANIKKIERNANTME.jpgFrom there, Anthony and I rushed up to Harlem to connect with one of my sister Janice's best friends Aquilla Thomas and her husband Irving. Our plan was to give them a quick, nickel tour of Harlem - from my favorite boutique N Harlem (www.nharlemnewyork.com/) to men's grooming salon BBraxton (www.bbraxton.com/) to our dining hangout Ginger (www.gingerexpress.com). Of course, when I share New York City through my eyes with guests who are virtually family to me, I want everything to be perfect. The trip to N proved beneficial to Aquilla and her husband. We got great T-shirts and moments out of my friend Murphy's shop Harlemmade (www.harlemade.com). But my normally reliable Ginger where I am always guaranteed a wonderful experience (despite its sometimes serving challenges) proved the disappointment. Still, we all managed to make sure the feedback regarding our experience landed where it needed to and we got a laugh. Keep HOPE Alive! ANTPATAQUILLAERV.jpg

After we completed our time with Aquilla and her husband, Anthony and I joined his Momentum team (www.momentumeducation.com) at a fabulous New York City club: 230 Fifth Avenue (www.230fifthave.com/), a rooftop space atop the former New York Market Center near Madison Square. Every well-known New York City skyscraper, including the Empire State Building, is looming behind you. MEANTEMPIRE.jpgThe ocassion? It was Anthony's team-mate Laurencia's birthday party and we sure had a good time. LAURENCIA.jpgFrom there, we hit our karaoke spot for kicks (www.karaoke17.com). LT13.jpg


Anthony, Camille, Jamie, and I joined many of our friends for buddy Derrick's birthday party at SHRINE (http://www.shrinenyc.com/index.php) or (http://myspace.com/sundaysatshrine).  MEDERRICKANT.jpgThis uptown dance party is for people who want a soulful, spiritual dance alternative. Sundays at Shrine is designed for Men and Women who enjoy soulful house, Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae. An eclectic blend of sexy people, music, percussionists and uplifting vibes. Craig puts it on... and folks who attend really seem to enjoy.


On this night, Anthony and I got the chance to share a special, landmark moment with his Momentum teammate Liz Murray, whose inspiring story was turned into a cable movie on Lifetime (www.lifetimetv.com/movies/info/move3222.html). Her image via this movie is suspended way up high on the windows of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square as part of a human rights campaign. LIZ%20MURRAY.jpgWikipedia reports: Murray was born in the Bronx, New York, to poor, drug-addicted, HIV-infected parents. She became homeless at age 15, when her mother died, and her father moved to a homeless shelter. Murray's life turned around when she began attending the Humanities Preparatory School in Greenwich Village. Though she started high school later than most students, and remained without a stable home, Murray graduated in only two years. She was awarded a New York Times scholarship for needy students and accepted into Harvard for the fall of 2000. Murray's life was the subject of the 2003 Emmy-nominated Lifetime TV movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story, of which Murray was the co-executive producer. Actress Thora Birch played Murray, and Murray played a cameo role as a social worker. Murray's memoir, Breaking Night, was published by Hyperion Books in 2005 (ISBN 0-7868-6891-0). Murray now works as an inspirational speaker, represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau. CONGRATS LIZ! Keep PLAYING TO WIN out there!

FERGIE.jpgBy the way, Anthony wanted me to share with you a YOU TUBE moment he shared with me on this night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwCiIWfeGuM It's FERGIE - formerly known as Stacy Ferguson - during her adolescent heyday on Kids Incorporated (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_Incorporated). Currently, her big hit "Big Girls Don't Cry" is taking fans by storm (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZnWxzFMCHg). I didn't watch the show duirng his 1984 - 1993 run, but at close inspection, I got to see that neo-soul great Rahsaan Patterson was one of the show's stars and used to turn the "children" out with his super-showmanship. Rahsaan-6-web.jpg


ledisilostandfound2.jpgI've referenced singer Ledisi before (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/4/10/spring-awakenings-summertime-when-will-you-come.html). She's a spectacular singer, whose new album "Lost and Found", her VERVE debut, will be out August 28th. (www.ledisi.com/) She did a show at Southstreet Seaport and gave it her all - as usual. (I cried again on her rendition of the Beatles' "Yesterday"). Ledisi had us all captive to her spell. Because my friends Jason and Marqise are such good friends of Ledisi, I was happy to share in this moment with them. MARQICEANDJASON.jpgAlso, good girlfriend Nicolle Munroe is a host parent to a South African girl "Pearl" with whom she attended the show as Pearl is a big fan of "Ledisi"; saw her last year; and wanted to see her again this year. NICOLLEPEARLCAMILLEANTHONY.jpgMoreover, I got the chance to have dinner with them and Ledisi afterwards at Tour in Chelsea. There, Ledisi graciously and generously shared her take on the industry and her talents which she's nurturned in this industry. Jason told her I sing as well. I shared my rendering of Jennifer Holliday's "Just For A While" as well as my Maxwell's "This Woman's Work". Then, we ended up doing "Be a Lion" together (from "The Wiz"). At the end of the night, Ledisi said to me "You have such a wonderful spirit. And you can sing!!!" What a compliment from an awesome performer who is on the rise... who has been considered for parts in "The Color Purple" Broadway production (including having workshopped the 'church lady' who is currently in the show). Also, she could have been "Effie" in "Dreamgirls" as she was auditioned for the part which Jennifer Hudson took to such great heights. Ledisi's time is NOW! And the world will soon know. ANTHONYLEDISIPATRICK.jpg


While Anthony took a meeting on this day, I had soup for one at the Bryant Park Grill (www.bryantpark.org/amenities/dining.php). Then, he and I reconnected and got our mani and pedi on at Spa Belles before having a snack at Dallas BBQ. This would be our armor for a commute to Patchogue, New York to see my friend Erich McMillan-McCall portray Curtis Taylor Jr. in a regional run of "Dreamgirls" (www.gatewayplayhouse.com/). ANTHONYERICHPATRICK.jpgIronically, Jennifer Holliday was in Atlanta performing the same show for the National Black Arts Festival (www.atlanta.net/visitors/national_black_arts_festival.html). holliday.jpgMy friends Michael and Lee went down to see it. Cindy Herron-Braggs (of En Vogue fame) plays Deena opposite Holliday's Effie. Our Long Island version perhaps didn't carry the cache of the Hotlanta revival featuring an "original Dreamgirl", but with all the joy that the music and the show bring me, any incarnation of "Dreamgirls" is alright with me. DREAMGIRLSANDERICH.jpgHighlights included my Erich and Mister from "The Color Purple", Kingsley Leggs, who interpreted James Thunder Early to "soulful" effect. ERICHANTHONYKINGSLEYPATRICK.jpgAfter the show, we joined Jason, Marqise, Troy, Darryl, and host couple Theo and Trevor for drinks and snacks in North Baldwin, New York. Always good to hang out with the boys.


When Anthony got out of the shower, he saw that I was watching an episode of "Soul Train" featuring Sister Sledge from 1981, performing "My Guy". Later in the show, Kathy Sledge and David Simmons performed "All The Man That I Need", a song that would be a huge hit ten years later for Whitney Houston from her "I'm Your Baby Tonight" project. WhitneyHoustonAllTheMan.jpgThis same sighting inspired my friend Mario to send an e-mail, asking if any of the "Whitney connoisseurs" in his circle knew that this was a remake. I did. And shared with Mario and the others:

i knew. actually, over the years, clive has/had a knack

 for pulling old songs that weren't huge hits before and

turning them into monster hits by artists with whom

he's more currently working - most notably, whitney

 houston. from "saving all my love for you"

 (a marilyn mccoo & billy davis original) to the more

 obvious covers like dolly parton's "i will always love you"

 and the four tops' "i believe in you and me", clive

has pulled from old catalogues to breathe new life into

 great songs that he thinks could become

"creme de la creme" with the vocals of artist like whitney.

 he did the same with westlife's "flying without wings",

 which was a big hit for them in the U-K.

given his association with 'american idol'

(and signing its artists), he made that song

ruben studdard's first song, after winning top honors.

Ern and I got the chance to hang out with Tandi, our Savannah

homegirl who too is my Spelman sister. She was in town with

her freshman roommate Teri and Tandi's first cousin Jennifer -

also a Spelmanite (but from the new millennium leg).

I was able to call my favorite videographer James whose

wife Lisa is a general manager for BR Guest

 Restaurants (www.brguestrestaurants.com/). She graciously

allowed for my "for six" reservation in the eleventh hour at

 "Isabella's", a great spot for cuisine on the upper westside.

 I just saw Tandi and my 15-year reunion from Morehouse

 and it's always a pleasure to catch up with her. Afterwards,

 Anthony and I enjoyed a BLEU Magazine party (www.thebleumag.com/) at Club Element.


dscf0432%202.jpg  dscf0429%202.jpg

























Come Sunday, Anthony and I had brunch at Society Cafe

in Harlem. Harlem One Stop describes it as: "Society is

 about people meeting, thinking, writing, talking and watching

 - or simply sitting in amiable surroundings with the company

 of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, taking time out, in sips."

 This, after an emotional reunion with my "Amazing Grace"

 Lisa Goodnight, who was in town from Maryland for

a bridal shower. Lisa is truly one of my best friends and

I got so emotional as she stopped by this morning to catch

 up with me and to meet Anthony for the first time. I love her

dearly and am so excited to have seen her. During our time

 in New Jersey, we were inseparable. Since she moved back

 to Maryland three years ago, we've stayed close, but not on

 each other's radars as much as we used to be. PATRICKANDLISA.jpg














Anthony and I

also went to

 the  Eighth Annual

 Midtown International

Theatre Festival


 on an invitation from

my friend Lamman Rucker, who is

 co-starring with seven other

 African American men

 in Layon Gray's WEBEIME


 or (www.myspace.com/layon gray). LAMMAN%20AND%20PATRICK.jpgIn this provocative piece,











a man on death row searches his soul for inner peace

 before his execution while his subconscious explores

 and reflects how he arrived at this place in time.

It's light-hearted and mind-numbing and heart-tugging --- all at once.

Imagine my surprise, when I find out that one of the co-stars

 is my Savannah homeboy Jay Jones, who was a year behind

 me in high school. He calls me his "mentor"  and as he said

(and reminded me when we bumped into each other before

 and after the show), he did all the things that I did

 - from student leadership to drama class.

And look at him now. I am SO PROUD OF HIM.

WEBEIME is a show I would have seen when I was

 in Los Angeles late last year (Lamman invited me), but didn't

 get a chance to see. JAY%20JONES%20AND%20PATRICK.jpgI'm glad it's made its way to New York City. 











And now, it's en route to the National Black Theatre

 Festival in Winston-Salem, NC (www.NBTF.org) -

sharing a bill with "Miracle in Rwanda" (www.miracleinrwanda.com/).

CONGRATS LAMMAN! And JAY! And - of course - the rest of the guys.

Later this evening, ironically, I had a conference call

with a half-dozen or so of my classmates from the

Windsor Forest High School Class of 1988. We are preparing for

 our 20-year reunion since graduating high school.

I am reminded of the line from

WEBEIME: "...life is a careless whisper that we all take for granted...".

 A song that uses the prhase "Careless Whisper"

(by WHAM featuring George Michael) was a big hit while

 we were all in school. Like that sentiment and the hit tune,

I want to acknowledge this week as one that took me on a

rollercoaster ride. But how grateful am I to be able to reflect

on each and every moment... with GRATITUDE!!!

As Jennifer Holliday sang on the Ashford & Simpson-penned

tune "This Game of Love", "With rockets shooting through

 my head, round and round and round I go.

I'm never coming down... from this game of love...".






Posted on Monday, July 30, 2007 at 12:26AM by Registered CommenterTHE LIFE OF RILEY in | Comments1 Comment | References4 References

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