dianacentralpark1.bmp“BRING ON THE STORM. WE’LL SEE IT THROUGH…” – another metaphor that lyrically places Diana Ross (www.dianaross.com) in the rain. Might have been a lovely encore to her recent sold-out concert in my residential state of New Jersey. On a day that released its share of sprinkles from the sky, we hear that Miss Ross let her audience at the Borgata have it. And they reportedly LOVED it! Unfortunately, I missed it. Just couldn’t swing it all this go around. dianacentralpark2.bmpYou, too, recall it is she who historically sang in the New York City rain during her historic 1983 Central Park Concert. There, “… the raindrops that fall (had) a meaning…” To me, they represented that “(We) Won’t Melt” when there’s a torrential downpour as ‘The Rain is for the flowers. It’ll only help us grow’…and then some. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VuZMIOYMcQ). Perhaps the sentiment is best captured in another Ross hit “It’s My Turn” when she sings “I’ll let it rain ‘cuz the rain ain’t gonna hurt me!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbRIiu5fPqc).dianacentralpark3.bmp

The symbolism of rain -- and the pessimistic/optimistic paradox that it can play on our emotions -- has tested me all week, perhaps most profoundly the other day. Both Ant and I are counting our pennies in addition to our blessings these days as he searches for full-time work and I am on the market to expand my freelance plate in the wake of some client shifts. This past Friday, I left my short deck of credit cards at home as my intention was simply to go to the bank and retrieve a few $20s from a particular account in my ATM. With that, I left all other useful debit cards at home as well. As I got off the New Jersey Transit (www.njtransit.com/) bus that picked me up in my hometown of Ridgefield Park and chauffeured me through West New York, New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel and into the New York City Port Authority, I took a quick-but-high-energy walk over to my bank. This particular account in which I expected some recently-direct-deposited funds to be available showed me that I only had $18, and this particular machine only gave out $20s. Now keep in mind, I left the card to my other account with checking plus at home. I also left my other credit cards at home. And I only had $10 of cash on my person. After I made calls to find out why this money wasn’t in place (where I was certain it was supposed to be), I found out the date I expected these funds to show up was the following Friday – coming up (not this past Friday). What would I do? I still had to get to the upper west side (more immediately) for a meeting (regarding some new work possibilities). Then, I had plans for a chemical peel at my favorite dermatologist on the upper eastside Dr. Lisa Airan ( www.lisaairan.com/ ). Well, I symbolically (a la Ross) took my walk through Central Park (from the 72nd Street entrance through Strawberry Fields and ultimately to 5th Avenue, the corner of which placed me at the destination of my skin regimen sans any funds). I stopped in to say hi, retrieved a few applicable samples, and scheduled a rain-date on my lunchtime procedure. A brisk-but-assured walk from the 70s down to Union Square gave me a much-needed workout and I made it to the corner of 16th Street and Union Square West, where the framework of an uninviting scaffolding is erected for some new construction. As I ponder that I have three hours before my 3:00 pm meeting, it starts to rain. One call comes in. It’s my Amazing Grace Nichole. I explain my plight, but perhaps not desperately enough for her to rescue me from the comforts of her home (She was inside of her own crisis). Ant finally called me back from home as he had just wrapped an exhaustive assignment. Though I’d called him earlier, I knew he wouldn’t get the message until he awoke. In this moment, he’s telling me that he will come with his money and rescue me. But I’m telling him not to bother as I will be fine as long as I have the $3.40 to get back home. And I was down to $7.00 as I did pick up coffee and white, buttered toast before the morning meeting. Feeling unusually inhibited (around limited funds), I almost want to cry – knowing it will camouflage as it rains cats and dogs around me. Then, I get a text from my Morehouse brother Mario’s French buddy Rafael de Zayas (www.rafaeldezayas.com) who I met at Mario’s holiday affair in Harlem before Christmas. He’d asked me the day prior what I was doing and – quickly (in one text) – I hipped him to my plan: “Morning meeting on upper west side. 3pm meeting near Union Sq. Might have lunch or coffee window between 12:30 and 2:30.” On the night before, Rafael replied “… may meet you around that time…”. Fast forward to ‘around-that-time’, Rafael writes: “… I’m in Union Square in front of the Virgin Music Store…” ( www.virginmegamagazine.com/ ) I text “… I’m on 16th across from the Coffee Shop…”(www. nymag.com ). Next thing I know, Rafael is approaching (in the rain) with an umbrella that he had just purchased from someone on the street. He hands it over at which time passerby Mario Van Peebles says “… Now that’s a good friend…”MARIOVANPEEBLESPAT.jpg This, as he himself is reaching for the $5 or $10 he will need to buy his own umbrella from a man who was set up in front of me. Initially, I just reply to the stranger “… He sure is a good friend for bringing me an umbrella...” – another thing I left at home (way in Jersey). With a second take, I realize “… That’s Mario Van Peebles!!!!” In the spirit of my pop-cultural enthusiasm, I ask him if he’d take a picture. Rafael shoots it before taking me to the Coffee Shop for lunch (and coffee). I vent to him my conundrum – only from the space of “I’m so happy I ran into you as you saved me from having to be stuck under a scaffolding for three hours without food, drink, or an umbrella…” RAFAELPAT1.jpgIn his generosity, he spotted me an additional $20 to ensure I could get home. Now, of course, I will pay him back (already tried to, but will have to push harder as Rafael considered my appreciation “overly dramatic” and “not a big deal”, but the way he showed up (and when) gave me some comfort and joy – in all its modesty. RAFAELPAT2.jpgI’ve been on the Rafael end many times and – too – am used to footing the bill, helping somebody out because they’re out of cash, buying the rounds or five. So, I consider it a total blessing to see someone I barely know show up so helpfully and with no judgment. Through the rain, this blessing showed up, letting me know I can make it (Right, Mariah?).RAFAELPAT3.jpg This divine moment armored me perfectly for my 3:00 pm meeting (also about a documentary project with which I may join forces). From there, I got to get on home to enjoy Italian take-out and some wine with Ern and Ant.

SCHNACKEXT.jpgMore rain showed up a couple of days later as Ant and I walked out of Schnack in Red Hook, Brooklyn ( www.schnackdog.com ). It's the comfort food with the most.PATATSHNACK.jpg It was raining again and as we exited the hole in the wall. As we looked to the East River, we could see fireworks off in the distance. FIREWORKS.jpgNot sure why, but we watched and posed with the magical explosion in the background. It’s these nothing moments that Ant and I have to remind ourselves about when we get a little cranky. Today was one of those days. ANTFIREWORKS.jpgBut with some mutual silent treatments, our day landed with him taking me to my favorite restaurant Houston’s for what would become a make-up dinner. And off in the distance of our love, I know the sun will soon come out to our “… new day!!!!!”PATFIREWORKS.jpg

Meanwhile, I must acknowledge that “… when it rains, it pours…” And so many of my folks are doing amazing things. I must let you know. While at our friend Craig and Mario’s 2nd Saturday party PLUM (in Washington Heights), we ran into some folks we’ve not seen in a minute as the December holidays pulled us all away from the circuit. We made up for lost time the other night. PLUMPOSSE.jpgOur favorite couple Jason and Marqice were in the house. Their friend Craig who I last saw – happenstance – in Atlanta over the Christmas break. There was Raymond and Toyce and Antar and Derrick and Marlynn and on and on I could go with my peeps’ names. ANTRAYMONDPATRICK.jpgOne of my BLOG fans and world renowned makeup artist of the stars Sam Fine ( www.samfine.com/) was there and alerted me he is going to be on his good friend Tyra’s show during February sweeps (www. tyrashow.warnerbros.com/ ) alongside my Chicago friend Vince’s partner Earl Nicholson. SAMPAT.jpgThere was also my actor buddy Erich who Ant and I recently saw in a regional production of “Dreamgirls” (He was Curtis). Well, he alerted me he just did a spot on NBC’s hit sitcom “30 Rock” ( www.nbc.com/30_Rock/ ). Go Erich!!! ERICHPAT.jpgOne of the dancers I booked for Ant’s 2006 B-DAY party was in the house. We said “Hi!”PATDANCERJASON.jpg Several of my college mates Jason, Charleston, Michael K. Watts, and – of course – Mario were in the house. Charleston announced that he’s preparing to do acting full-time, which is exciting (to see our folks go for their dreams).

Actually, two more of my Morehouse brothers are doing great things. I sang with them both in the Glee Club and the news comes from the wife of one of them. Korey Washington’s wife Tracey reads the blog and hips me to things I should know about as our mutuals go. Korey – who I’ve stood by in the glee club for years - designed the set for this year's Trumpet Awards ( www.trumpetfoundation.org/home.htm), which will air later on TV One ( www.tvoneonline.com/) this year. terrancemcknight.jpgThen, another of our brethren is leaving Atlanta for New York City. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Georgia Public Broadcasting’s announcer-producer Terrance McKnight, whose voice might be described as a lyric basso profundo, was recently hired away by WNYC-FM, one of New York’s flagship cultural institutions. The 44-year-old Morehouse College graduate will take the 7p.m.-11 p.m. shift once held by Margaret Juntwait, who left three years ago to become the host of the Metropolitan Opera’s radio and HD theater broadcasts. He’ll also host occasional live performances.” To read more, click on: http://www.accessatlanta.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/accessatlanta/atlarts/entries/2007/12/21/new_york_hires_georgia_radio_h.html CONGRATS TERRANCE! When you get here, let’s have a toast… for the good times!

Speaking of toasting, my friend Jerry McCormick hipped me to a friend of his who he says “… is like a B. Smith in the making.” mariahunt.jpgHer name is Maria Hunt and she's got a book coming out about wine and entertaining. Jerry says this woman knows everything. Though she’s appeared on local TV stations in San Diego (his base) and she’s been a food critic for 12+ years, he’s excited to see her reach a national audience. She's a wine sommelier and was named San Diego's most eligible bachelorette by Forbes.com. Her website is http://www.thebubblygirl.com/press.html.

Speaking of bubbly girls – well, bubbly may not be the best description of her, but she has a most positive outlook on life and I love her and have loved her for more than ten years now. Her name is Tracey Moore-Marable and her Spirited Actor course (www.thespiritedactor.com) is known as THE PLACE TO GO to get enrolled in the craft of acting. TraceyPhoto.jpgUtilizing her many lanes as casting director, celebrated Acting Coach (to many stars – including those musicians making the transition), writer, and director, she merges her experiences to shape the best our business has to offer. Like she does everyone who comes into her path, she empowers the person inside. So, her work with actors is no different.

Talking about going deep, my friend and NABJ colleague Kai Wright has a new book on the shelves. kai.jpgIt’s titled “Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York”. (www.DriftingTowardLove.org). You can also read about the book in a wonderful review in this week's Washington Blade: http://www.washblade.com/2008/1-11/arts/books/11867.cfm And Kai will be reading at Harlem's Hue-Man Bookstore (www. huemanbookstore.com/ ) next Tuesday, Jan. 22nd at 6 pm. CONGRATS KAI!drifting.bmp

Speaking of books – a term often used for ‘magazines’, I was so happy to get a release from my friend Ra-Fael Blanco that of his many clients, one of my favorites BLEU Magazine (www.myspace.com/BLEUMAG) is coming to a newsstand near you very soon. America's Next Top Model JASLENE graces the cover.jaslene.bmp And available at all Hudson News, 7-11's, Barnes & Nobles, AVENUE REPORT Magazine - THE NEW VOICE IN MEN's MAGAZINES - is focusing on everything from the hottest cars, gadgets, politics, entertainment, sports, health and fashion (www.myspace.com/AVENUEREPORT). This month, its 3rd issue, will feature Actor/Activist/Author HILL HARPER, who I got to know a bit when he was in New York City many years ago doing the off-Broadway play with music “BLUE” and the Public Theatre’s “Dog Eaters”. avenuehillharper.jpg

As debunking stereotypes go, the NAACP announced its Image Awards nominees ( www.naacp.org/image.htm ) – including our good friend Maurice Jamal’s cinematic treasure “Dirty Laundry” ( www.dirtylaundrythemovie.com/ ). It’s the little engine that could and it has so many wonderful engineers driving it – like our buddy – Richard Pelzer III who – along with his colleague La Rivers – was a casting director on this project and the soon-to-shoot “B-Boy Blues” ( www.bboybluesthemovie.com/ ) which will still have a part for Ant and a cameo for me by principal photography time.

Then, new friend (a la MY SPACE) Dominick San Juan ( http://www.myspace.com/dominicsanjuan ) was selected for a gig on February 1st sponsored by SHURE Microphones and Sam Ash Music. It is a national competition and he’s one to hear I hear. Come join him and me as we experience some good music. compcardsingleblurreddc4.jpg

ANT%20AND%20LED%201.jpgAnd of course, all good music leads back to our friend Ledisi (www.ledisi.com). With that, I must point out that my Ant has been working alongside her over these last few weeks – working on one of the music video treatments she submitted to her record company for serious consideration. It’s for “In The Morning”, her second single. In the end, they went with another idea. But as he navigates through the thick of this industry, he is making moves and getting closer everyday.

As his talents have no end, Ant too is a credited stylist on a project for which I serve as on-camera talent. PATATN1.jpgWe’ll share more with you once we tape, but in addition to styling me for the field shoot (which I blogged about before), he chose and pulled the ensembles I will wear on Monday for the two tapings. "American Chang" (www. americanchang.com/ )

and "R. Scott French" ( www.rscottfrench.com/ ) will be the centerpieces of my look. Ant will work his secrets (something old, something new, something borrowed…) to round it all out. This, as we also anticipate American Chang/R. Scott French’s tent show during Fashion Week ( www.mbfashionweek.com/newyork/ ).

And so, for all the times I feel like things aren’t happening quickly enough, I can reflect in my BLOG writings and know that I am fine and Ant is fine. And even in breakdown, we can breakthrough towards the goal. Sometimes it’s hard though. And when it gets to be too much, I ask for God’s grace and mercy to lead us on...and to keep it kind (but that's usually after something horrific slips out of my mouth). KENANTPATCHRIS.jpgThrough our muse choreographer Ken Roberson, Ant and I got a big dose of inspiration as we ran into him and another friend I’ve not seen in a minute, Chris. We stopped by “No Parking” in Washington Heights for a nightcap ( www.queenofnewyork.com/bar/no-parking/ ). As I always alert you with Ken, he’s making things happen in 2008 and there will be something to report very soon.

Meanwhile, as I head to Chicago for an assignment, I better pack my umbrella. Just in case.

Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 01:19AM by Registered CommenterTHE LIFE OF RILEY in | CommentsPost a Comment | References7 References

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