Tuesday, October 30, 2012




Yahia Lababidi

The writer Yahia Lababidi just sent me his new book THE ARTIST AS MYSTIC Conversations with Yahia Lababidi by Alex Stein. I started reading it on my IPhone ( a first for me). This looks like a gem of a book. Check out these links:





Talking About Faith And The Wizards
... By E. Ethelbert Miller ...

The Nationals, A Love Affair
... By E. Ethelbert Miller ...

Touching third and heading home
... By E. Ethelbert Miller ...

You Gotta LUV the GUV





We Are All from New Orleans Now: Climate Change, Hurricanes and the Fate of America's Coastal Cities
MIKE TIDWELL | Without immediate action, cities like New York and Washington face a future of massive levees, floodgates and ecological catastrophe.




I don't live in a coastal area so maybe Sandy decided not to trick or treat this year. My neighborhood was fortunate this time. Usually when a storm hits around where I live trees fall like a stack of cards.

This time only small branches fell and the trees decided to go topless again this winter. Their leaves remind me that you can be black and ski in DC. Be careful when walking around for the next few days. I took my books back to the Takoma Park Library. At the corner of 8th and Butternut St, NW, I saw what Sandy can do if you turn your back for just a moment. I took the picture below.

8th & Butternut Street, NW. Photo by Ethelbert

‘Good Times’

Toi Derricotte Celebrates

Poetry and Lucille Clifton

“Derricotte’s words touch the reader as life has touched her, soul and body.” Adrienne Rich

Friday - November 2, 2012 -  8:00 pm
Monteabaro Recital Hall - Horowitz Center
Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway Columbia, MD 21044

Read more about the event.

A Presentation of HoCoPoLitSo
Tickets: $15 General Admission,
$10 Seniors and Students w/valid ID
Credit Card orders taken at
Copyright © 2012 Howard County Poetry & Literature Society, All rights reserved.
You have received this email because at some point our paths have crossed and you have shown an interest in learning more about HoCoPoLitSo, the Howard County Poetry & Literature Society, and its events in the community.
Our mailing address is:
Howard County Poetry & Literature Society
c/o Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, DH-239
Columbia, MD 21044


After the election who will talk about poverty in America?  Here in D.C. we need to do something with these numbers:

6000  Homeless Adults
1100  Homeless Families
1800 Children

13% of the homeless suffer from mental illness.
15% suffer from addiction.

People can easily become homeless as a result of an accident, medical emergency or a lost job.





I was watching the news yesterday - they stopped a guy in a van to ask him what he thought about a tree that the wind knocked down.

As soon as the guy started talking about global warming - the reporter stopped the interview and went back to the studio. Go figure.

Monday, October 29, 2012






I was reading about Lance Armstrong and came across this statement by David Carr:

To doubt Armstrong was to doubt the American dream, to effectively be "for cancer," as his legion of defenders would claim.

Carr's column in The New York Times today should be required reading for anyone trying to understand not Armstrong but Obama and how the media has treated him the last four years.

The media refuses to accept a black man as president because it goes against the "myth" of what many people see as being American. The Civil Rights Movement might change history but myths die hard. People can't live without their myths. Baldwin knew this. It's why he never accepted that he was a nigger.  The white man created the nigger - he created this myth about black people being inferior and only good enough to be slaves or servants. You can teach black history every February but it won't change the fact that the myths white Americans cling to are not going to disappear without white people losing their identity. When someone begins to lose their identity there is a good chance they will become extremely violent in order to reclaim it. Just look at poor white people who suddenly see too much color is in the world; especially the color on top of them. Who wants to live under this heavy multicultural quilt?  Equality will make you sweat.

So as the Racialist - my question is very basic and simple. What does the face of America look like?
The answer is that Romney looks more American than Obama. Can you imagine the NAACP demanding to see Romney's birth certificate?  Of course not. Consider how race enters this election.
If one had to select a group of white people - who even with their whiteness - might be considered outsiders - at the top of the list would be Mormons.  It's ironic that a person belonging to a group long considered to be outside the American mainstream would be embraced before a black American. Is this a racist statement or just a statement The Racialist can make?

The only way to explain this is to look race in the face.  This is why The Racialist had to return. The truth has nothing to do with what Romney and Obama believes - and lately Romney sounds so much like Obama - the truth is that we might have voted and made history four years ago but next week we might see folks wanting to bring their myths back. A "white" president might make folks sleep better even if they wake-up and find themselves homeless.


Rain falling. No strong winds yet. I pick-up the morning  newspaper and I feel I'm in Iraq.  Here is the headlines from The New York Times:

 Northeast Braces For Deadly Surge and Lashing Wind

Do you recall when the word "surge" entered our vocabulary?
I like how the mainstream media is "packaging" the Sandy storm.
Folks in the media must be hiring creative writing students. So much alliteration these days.
Too much word play makes me suspicious. Is it news or entertainment?

So how bad is this storm going to be? 
Is this the "big" news story before folks get to election day next week?
You betcha! How can you create suspense leading up to the election if so many folks are now voting early?  Better to change the news story. So thanks Sandy.
As I told a friend this morning - I'm here waiting for this storm to show her powerful thighs.
I'm a sucker for beauty and recklessness.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Leslie Thatcher, Truthout: Retired Madison University Professor, Truthout contributing author and producer of nonfiction comics, Paul Buhle talked to Truthout by email recently concerning his 2011 book, "Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero."



Last week I attended a program at The Aspen Institute that featured Salman Khan. He is the founder of the Khan Academy and the author of The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. If you want to know how education is changing just listen to this guy. I like what I heard. Check out what's going on:www.khanacademy.org
Also access Khan's TED talk.

SALMAN KHAN and WALTER ISAACSON photo by Ethelbert


Yesterday it felt good being back in the gym again. My entire family sitting in the stands watching a basketball scrimmage between Ann Arundal Community College (MD) and Salem Community College(NJ). This was my son's second game as head coach. I wanted to see his Salem team. We had been talking basketball for weeks. I like what I saw. The tempo of the game - the ball movement - the defensive mindset. All good. There is still much work to do - but it looks like this team should have a good year. Go Salem! Go NY!.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Who is going to read this book?  



The media will make you dumb. Notice how everyday there is another group or state that's going to decide this election; or look at how the "good" economic news is pushed aside for a stage 1 storm.
Is it Sandy or just sand in our eyes?  The media is just creating suspense. People see what they want to see. If you want Romney to win the election just find a poll that will support his victory. Meanwhile folks are voting early in record numbers. Do we have any idea what this means? No-because it was never done before. Go back and listen to the pundits who predicted Columbus was going to get to the Indies or fall off the edge of the world. I'm counting on the Natives in November.

Friday, October 26, 2012


The Bad Plus: Polyrhythmelody!

Among the various styles of jazz that now is least mentioned is “free jazz,” alternatively called avant-garde jazz. Free jazz, having nothing to do with its monetary value, emerged sometime between the late 1950s and early 1960s. By the early to mid 1960s the free jazz movement coalesced into what some expected to be the next direction for jazz just as ragtime, swing, bebop, hard bop and cool had done. Free jazz represented another branch of freedom expressed in time where musicians sought to achieve greater depth without form. What free jazz lacked was the harmonic structure, and metric symmetry that defined previous styles and what the jazz public came to expect. The harmonic structure of Miles Davis’ 1959 Kind of Blue album solidified that expectation as the next logical step in jazz. Its influence was so great that it suckled succeeding generations of listeners and musicians. Free jazz countered that direction by challenging the predictable melodic and rhythmic patterns that defined jazz up to that point. To some musicians it seemed that the possibilities of the syncopated patterns of the jazz beat, namely 2/4 and 4/4, had been exhausted. Free jazz broke out of those patterns and offered a new way of playing; free to play outside the “classical” structure of jazz time.

Free jazz musicians created an open space for other possibilities of time, tonality, rhythm, melody and harmony. The other possibilities were drawn from a wider range of sources outside the realm of work songs, blues, gospel, military marches, folk music, waltzes, Latin/Caribbean and of course European concert music; elements that formed the mosaic character of jazz from the 1890s to the end of the 1950s. Although it challenges the conventions of those elements free jazz is very much rooted in them. On the jazz tree the branches of free jazz may have begun forming around the end of the 1940s, but it is safe say that alto sax player Ornette Coleman’s 1958 debut album, Something Else: The Music of Ornette Coleman, signals the arrival of free jazz. Coleman’s music drew immediate divisions and antagonisms among musicians, critics and listeners alike. His music philosophy eliminated the predictable harmonic and melodic patterns that had become familiar and expected in jazz which included solo improvisation; an important innovation of Lewis “Pops” Armstrong. A subtle irony is that Coleman’s antithetical album and Miles’ Kind of Blue hit the scene at nearly the same time. The second irony is that where Coleman challenged the centrality of the solo, Miles emphasized the time and space between notes of the solo. What wasn’t played was just as important, sometimes more, than what was played. This was antithetical to the bebop style he grew up in. Nevertheless, both albums represented new and different branches of the jazz tree, but in the coming decades they combined to form fusion or jazz fusion; yet another jazz style of the late 1960s and 1970s. Fusion, though, incorporated rock n’ roll and r&b two prominent music forms that grew out of the jazz tree.

The concept of free jazz made possible the inclusion of non-European music and elements from non-musical sources coinciding with the social challenges to the Western world order particularly racism, racial segregation and European colonialism. A self-realization emerged in the social unrest of the 1950s and 1960s that non-European cultures contain valuable alternatives of theology and spirituality. It manifested in some jazz musicians converting to Islam or Buddhism. Jazz Messengers bandleader, drummer Art Blakey converted to Islam and became known to his friends as Bu, short for Abdullah Ibn Buhania. Pianist Herbie Hancock, part Miles Davis’s second great quintet, later became a practicing Buddhist of Nichiren Buddhism. (see the EAR-UP! review Herbie Hancock: Imagine The Possibilities). Other musicians who’ve converted to Islam include flutist Herbie Mann, tenor/multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, trumpeter Don Cherry and tenor/multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk.

Although there was concerted effort to convince the music listening public free jazz did not attract the twins of popularity and commercial success. Ornette Coleman, still relatively obscure, has and had a cadre of supporters and followers; pianist Cecil Taylor, tenor/multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, singer composer Albert Ayler, pianist John Lewis, drummer Billy Higgins, bassist Charlie Haden, bassist/composer Charles Mingus, drummer Max Roach, bassist Jimmy Garrison, tenor player Dewy Redman, alto player Arthur Blythe and others. Some John Coltrane fans lost their way on his musical journeys near the end of his life. A brave few hung in there as if it were sacrilege not to listen, but his “Love Supreme,” “Elation” and “Ascension” as well as Heliocentric Worlds by Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra embody the quest for a global spiritual unity.

Free jazz, as previous jazz styles, presented a new process of liberation from “tradition” yet retained the tradition of dialogue, but among a much broader group of cultural participants with the addition of electronic technology. Slightly more than a decade after Ornette Coleman’s debut album Miles Davis recorded Bitches Brew in 1970; an album that simultaneously amalgamated the previous twelve years and gave direction to the path jazz would take for at least the next fifteen years paradoxically bringing free jazz back to the tradition it freed itself from.

What do you get when you combine highly structured, but imaginative rhythmic and melodic ideas that simulate an orchestrated sound and possess the feeling of spontaneous improvisation? It’s the recipe for the polyrhythmelody of The Bad Plus a trio, from all appearances, resembles any other traditional acoustic jazz trio; piano, bass and drums. As far as appearances go that is where the similarities end. This is not your father’s Errol Garner, Ramsey Lewis, or Ahmad Jamal trio. (Clearing my throat), but the elements of the jazz tradition are ever present.

The Bad Plus formed in 2000. Since 2003 they have recorded six albums. Their music represents a mature form of free jazz with clear experiences in rock, r&b, pop, fusion, the elements of traditional jazz and electronics. It seems incredible that their sonic creations emanate from the traditional acoustic jazz trio configuration. The result is a multitude of sounds, harmonies, melodies, rhythms and tonalities, disparate, dissonant yet coherently confluent. David King is a polyrhythmic drum monster, but often displays a gentle melodic sensitivity when the occasion demands. To bassist Reid Anderson goes the job of providing the group’s harmonic cohesion while the left and right hands of pianist Ethan Iverson lend a silky orchestration of their sound.

The Bad Plus has no leader as such. In other words neither musician is represented or promoted as the group’s soloist. Instead they trade the melodies of a tune or a song each playing a part or parts of it before handing it off to each other. At other times the melody is harmonically improvised by the entire group then it is broken up into various sections that each musician plays as if it were an improvised solo. The elimination of the improvised solo as a central element is a concept of Ornette Coleman. Likewise, bassist/composer Charles Mingus pushed the concept of collective improvisation while Miles Davis illustrated the importance of space between notes. The Bad Plus blends all of these ideas by embedding the solo within the rhythmelodic and harmonic structure of the music so you don’t always hear a single musician composing a solo in front of the music you hear it within the music. The result is polyrhythmelodic; a sound with various beats, measures and space that add meaning to the time signatures.  

On their debut album, These Are The Vistas, The Bad Plus skillfully exhibit their fearless ability of deconstructing other peoples music giving it their own sonic signature. Nirvana’s hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and “Flim” by Aphex Twin get unconventional, but highly engaging re-conceptualizations. The remaining seven tunes are original compositions. Take a listen and enjoy.

From the 2003 The Bad Plus album These Are The Vistas

Reid Anderson, bass
Ethan Iverson, piano
David King, drums

Big Eater

Keep The Bugs Off Your Glass and The Bears Off Your Ass

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Everywhere You Turn

1972 Bronze Medalist




Heart of Glass

Silence Is The Question




I'm just back from an evening of listening to Cuban poet Nancy Morejon read and discuss her work.

The program was held at Busboys and Poets (5th and K). Nancy is a woman of amazing grace and intellect. It's always a joy to be in her presence. There are some things a blockade can't prevent and that's the love between poets.

NANCY MOREJON photo by Ethelbert

BERT & NANCY photo by Karl Carter





I received 2 new books this week. You might want to place them on your reading list.

  by Jared A. Ball and Todd Steven Burroughs (Black Classic Press)

  edited by M.J. Fievre  (A publication of Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

al burts invite
Artwork: "A Father's Law", ballpoint on wood, 60"x24"
Join us for the Opening Reception of "Passport Please", a solo exhibition of new works by Al Burts!
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Show: Nov. 8 - Dec. 8, 2012
AL BURTS is a skillful artist who uses the thin lines of a ballpoint pen to create bold works of art that display African American themes such as homelessness, migrations and struggles of average Americans. 
al burts image
"Untitled" by Al Burts, ballpoint on paper

He creates emotional portraits through his unique style of carefully using line and space, and parts of various individuals that he may experience in his life. Their stories are conveyed through a painting, drawing, or other mixed media. He works on a variety of surfaces including un-stretched canvas, paper and wood to displace his realistic and symbolic images inspired by the African roots of America.

Al Burts grew up in Alexandria, VA and received his formal training from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He is an alumnus of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and a retiree of The National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Burts is a two time Semi-finalist winner of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series and will be exhibiting for the second time in Art Basel Miami Beach this December 2012. Burts has exhibited in the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), the DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago, IL), International Visions Gallery (Washington, DC), T. Miller Gallery (Baltimore, MD), Evolve the Gallery (Sacramento, CA), and Gallery Guichard, (Chicago, IL). 
  bombay flyer
Attention to Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Artists! You can still compete in the Finial competition at Art Basel Miami Beach by winning the "Wild Card" online vote! The Artist with the most votes online will  win a change to exhibit at SCOPE Art Show during Art Basel Miami !

Tim Davis
Founder + Director  
International Visions Gallery | 2629 Connecticut Avenue, NW  
Washington DC | 20008

[GALLERY HOURS] Wednesday - Saturday, 11am-6pm or by appointment
Daily Buddhist Wisdom

As rain penetrates an improperly shingled roof, so passion overwhelms a confused mind.
- Buddha


Dear Ethelbert,

I hope all is well.

Application season for MFA programs is right around the corner and I'm wondering if you know any students who might be interested in Adelphi.

The program is energetic this year with some terrific students.  We've got increased financial aid and work opportunities to offer incoming students. And some new projects underway--a lit mag, a Creative Non Fiction track, an expanded "Practicum" for the real world.

We are hosting an informational Open House on Sunday November 4th. 

If you have interested students who can't make the Open House, please ask them to contact me directly.

Judith Baumel
Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing
Harvey Harvey Hall 218
Adelphi University
Garden City, NY 11530


The 5th Inning (Busboys and Poets): E. Ethelbert Miller - Amazon.com

The author's second memoir following Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer.
So maybe you're a Detroit Tiger fan and your team lost last night. Your best pitcher didn't get the job done. What are you going to do now?  I suggest you read The 5th Inning.
I got this note today from Lew Berry:
I'm also reading 5th Inning. Started it this afternoon. Wow, I knew I wasn't the only one who had the same feelings, but you pinned it- the thoughts about death, second marriages - marriage in general. I'm reminded of the Simon and Garfunkel song: Bookends.
It's a fast read but I want to savor it as well as pick up more of the metaphors.


The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

    - Hubert Humphrey


Amid Cutbacks, Greek Doctors Offer Message to Poor: You Are Not ...

Many people are voting early. Even Obama.
Did the pundits know this was going to happen?
Of course not...
How will early voting change the upcoming election?
No one will know until the day after.
Vote now!  Don't let anyone piss in your well.
Charles Johnson sent me the lovely catalog from the Baldwin exhibit in Seattle at the Northwest African American Museum. So last night I was in my quiet room reading Bearing Witness from Another Place James Baldwin in Turkey. Photographs by Sedat Pakay.

I like this paragraph by Nancy Rawles:

The most intimate of photos - that of a sleeping Baldwin, black body tangled in white sheets, slim arm cradling soft pillow against cool wall - is strikingly harsh and delicate, like hills and valleys submerged in new snow, their restless beauty inviting and untouchable. In some ways, the Baldwin who wanted so much to be known and seen can never be other than a foreigner in his home country. His very body rendered him an object of fear and a subject of persecution. His celebrity accorded him a false suggestion of protection, while making him a target of surveillance and derision.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012




Tomorrow Nyere begins his first season as a head coach. E-Notes will be following him.




2012 IS NOW

Yes, I voted for Obama yesterday. What are you waiting for?


Ichiro Watch:

One New York Yankee who didn't have a hole in his bat during the playoffs.
Ichiro hit .429.

When will he retire? 


Below is a link to a very interesting article. Replace the names Luck and Griffin with Romney and Obama.  Imagine how one could view a debate, poll or even a campaign a certain way.  Now ask yourself - who are you going to vote for in November?


Luck vs. Griffin, a Statistical Comparison - NYTimes.com 




If Obama is defeated next month look for "erasure" to take place and for the word whitewash to return to our vocabulary with new meaning. Romney's decision to abolish Obamacare starting on the first day he is in the White House will set the tone for his administration. The same way Ronald Reagan was elevated to being viewed as one of the greatest American presidents - look for a systematic "academic" approach to paint the last four years under Obama as being the "black or dark" years in American history. Or look for Obama in future history books to be represented only as the first black person to become president. Nowhere will a child doing a school report find anything that he did or accomplish during his term. This is how the story might be told in the future if Romney wins. This is not attack on him but rather how his election will be viewed to many in this country. Obama will be erased which to me represents a level below invisibility. This is how racism works when there is no chemotherapy.


Yes J – my eyes are tired. Funny how you should be the first
to notice. I guess this is what happens when a man and woman
look at each other on computer screens. Eyes meet and hold
their own conversation. I hear rumors about how they share
poems and stories. There is too much jealousy in the world.
Words are a sad sight for tired eyes. It is difficult at times to
hear or taste destruction. So much noise comes from torture.
Many are pushed into violence and cruelty. My eyes are tired
from viewing corpses, embracing widows and playing with
children with no arms . Should I close my eyes to genocide?
My heart will listen to only your confession. My faith waits
for you to undress. To be tired is to desire a great sleep and
within desire is to love (again).

  - E. Ethelbert Miller

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


BERT & RITA photo by Fred Viebahn


The singer ArinMaya dropped by my office this week. So wonderful seeing her again.
She gave me a copy of her new CD - Let The Love Come.

If you have Spotify also click on The Sound of ArinMaya.

ArinMaya "I Want To Be Beautiful" EPK on Vimeo