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"... MY OWN STRENGTH..."


Oh! If I could be two (or even more) places at one time. Or if I could just be present with what is and where I am – in the moment. Instead, I’m managing my five weeks in ATL while looking ahead feverishly to where I’ll lay my head for low-or-no cost while in L.A. on an assignment through October. But there are two welcome short spells in NYC – one work-related; and one slight hiatus [READ: just enough time to switch out my drawers] before I hit Tampa for a week (NABJ Convention - www.nabj.org) followed by that aforementioned two months in L.A. And notwithstanding a couple of beloved sponsors (and the payroll that will only roll out week-by-week and has me catching up on arrears), I have to ensure I can bankroll travel and hotel incidentals; meals; and the many bills before me. WHEW!!!! HEADY and WEIGHTY stuff... and - TRUTH BE TOLD - it feels OVERWHELMING sometimes. But unlike the Whitney of the past on which current Whitney reflects, "I (DO) know my own strength!!!!" And I will make it through. [Heard Nippy's new one, by the way? www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u9INHSQ6mQ].

Oh! And inside all of that, Ant and I must maintain as best a connection/communication as possible with our mutually demanding, respective schedules – especially my around-the-clock demands - that make catch-up time virtually impossible. Some days are better than others for me when we can't speak. Other times, I wile out from the loneliness and the distance. And though he's less a complainer and more apt to just accept it as it is (in those moments) than I am, I know it's rough for him too. But we will get it in – hopefully with several visits in whichever aforementioned location. ACCEPTING ALL PRAYER, MY PEEPS because it is ALL MORE THAN A NOTION!!!!! And I know you understand for whatever your challenges may be. But I had to get that off my chest. THANKS FOR LISTENING...

SO, since touching down in Atlanta, I have hit the ground running with my latest project (which like my first ATL project will premiere on BET – the former August 25th; the latter October 27th) – Details later when I can actually talk about it. But it's reality TV - a new frontier for me!!!! Long shooting days have kept me creatively and physically busy – even exhausted, but grateful for a meantime revenue stream. And Ant has been working mad hours in NYC as “The Wendy Williams Show” (www.wendyshow.com/) has finally premiered on FOX affiliates nationwide (and BET). Her first guest was our Vanessa Williams (www.vanessawilliams.com/) whose mother "Gaga" (Helen) is likely the show's biggest fan (Loves her some Ant too).

(Too, Ant’s been hitting some hot sets and holding it down on our behalf – including the 20th Anniversary of “Do The Right Thing” screening and after party - www.amazon.com/Do-Right-Thing...Anniversary/.../B0024EWP6W) as well as a screening of independent film “Ink”, a spiritual thriller about the power of destiny that some of his Denver folks produced.

 

My home away from home – this go around – is (again) the TWELVE Hotel in Atlantic Station (www.TwelveHotels.com). My neighbors happen to be the cast of Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married 2?” (www.tylerperry.com). Well, at least some of them are staying here. Hot off of seeing and hanging out with her twin sister Sidra in L.A., I stumbled into Tasha Smith with whom Ant and I hung out at the premiere of the original flick. Malik Yoba is in the house as well as Sharon Leal. When we checked in, Janet Jackson was – of course – with her family in L.A. (and may I say what a wonderful send-off to Michael Jackson at his memorial. So touching! Such honor! So much LOVE!). I was also excited to find that my college buddy Danni was staying here as she was working on one of BET’s new game shows “Pay It Off” which my friend Kim Coles is hosting (www.bet.com). And her now-grown daughter Le-Le is now married and was visiting Danni in Atlanta along with her husband Jason and another dear friend. It’s been 14 years since I’ve seen Danni and Le-Le. What a great reunion that was!!!

 

I also got to spend time with my “Original Amazing Grace”, best friend Natalie who is a very busy career woman/mother/wife. But she took some time to take me to my favorite restaurant Houston’s (www.hillstone.com). Another time she came and rescued me from a fast-moving depression and talked me lovingly through some challenges. And my Nichole, who is again here in Atlanta with me for this leg, came out to say HI. Of course, I had to capture it.

 

And though I missed Beyonce this go around as scheduling didn’t allow (though tickets came through), Ant and I will always have Manila where she serenaded me Happy Birthday! I too had to miss “The Wiz” with my friend LaChanze but Ant and our friends Ern, Patrice, Keron, and Kimberly went… and had a blast I hear. Of course, “The Wiz” has been on everyone’s minds with the passing of Michael Jackson. I can’t stop playing this clip of MJ and DR on her 1981 special: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BfvzaSxkSY. In fact, while at soul food joint “Mrs. Bs on 4th” in Birmingham (on a day shoot), I stumbled into a little boy named Tarek who insists he is the next Michael Jackson who some years ago told the boy how talented he was.

 

Speaking of Diana (Aren’t I always? LOL!): Remember “American Idol” Taylor Hicks? Well, he’s remade a song my Diana recorded on her 1991 “Force Behind The Power” CD. Diana’s “Battlefield” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRRIztNC). Taylor’s “I Live On a Battlefield” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMkEhvnVo4Y).

 

The sounds of Diana Ross (some remixes from the aforementioned project) and Jennifer Holliday were piping through the speakers at “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Dwight’s home for the 4th of July. My friend Lamoh invited me to join him for the festive celebration. (I know Dwight via my ‘platonic boo’ Carl Nelson). Dwight was ever the gracious host – piling me a plate to go plus a bottle of wine. Truly a class act all around, I look forward to seeing the new season of the show. Afterwards, Lamoh and I hit a set in Douglasville. Another night, we hung out at Tapas Restaurant Eros (www.erostapas.com), which turns into quite the disco scene. We also did a stint at “Harlem Bar” (www.harlembaratlanta.com).

 

You recall, my friend Greg and I met with Ryan of designer firm Hugh Simms (www.hughsimms.com). Well, I sported the “Gentlemen Johnny” for a Sunday at the Intercontinental Buckhead (www.ichotelsgroup.com). Well, you can now find these looks in high-end department store Segal’s (www.fredsegal.com).

 

As small world’s go, remember I mentioned how Ant is booking opera burlesque diva “Black Betty” at The Velvet Lounge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (www.velvetbrooklyn.com/). Well, it turns out an audio guy and friend with whom I work sometimes, Khalif, is her longtime friend and manager. Khalif is here in Atlanta where we uncovered this small-world tidbit.  Meanwhile, my Morehouse brother and friend Khalid is in town on business and we’ve had the chance to hang out a little. He’s here cutting some deals for a couple of animation projects. And he was featured in an image on the cover of a recent issue of Black MBA Magazine (www.blackmbaonline.com/).

 

And I attended V103’s Car & Bike Show (www.v-103.com/) which featured many and plenty from Atlanta’s entertainment scene – including The Dream, Christina Milian, Bustah Rhymes, Chilli, ‘Housewives’ Kandi & Sheree, Outkast’s Big Boi, and ‘the legendary’ Miss Sophia - the only one with whom I got a picture as I was working and staying focused. But my colleague Steve insisted I get this one.

 

My assignment here wraps July 29th at which time I will return to NYC for a week before heading to Tampa, then L.A. for two months. But this weekend, I am scheduled to hit NYC for a couple of days (on assignment). Will be great to take in The Big Apple (and see Ant), if only for a night or two. Reminds me of this night in the mid-90s when my college mates Z, Cassandra, and I were getting our feet wet in New York City (along with this fabulous shirt that I must find and remix: It's vintage now! LOL!).

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