Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cocoa Lounge NOW: Medicine for Melancholy

Cocoa Lounge Film: Medicine for Melancholy
(Tracey Heggins and Wyatt Cenac in Medicine for Melancholy.)

Just as we were wondering if the grand old cinematic gates had closed on good black romance (it's been a whopping 11 years since Love Jones made its big screen debut) Barry Jenkins goes and drops Medicine For Melancholy on us and those gates are starting to creak again.

Medicine, an independent feature screening at this years' Los Angeles Film Festival, is "the story of two African-American twenty-somethings who wake up in bed together having no recollection of how they arrived there." The two wander the streets of San Francisco and find themselves at the Museum of African Diaspora, where they discover that they're much more intellectually and spiritually connected than their previous encounter would suggest.

'Medicine' for what's ailing the Film Industry

The film covers not only romance but tackles issues of the declining African American presence in major cities (such as San Francisco) due to growing social crises like gentrification...

...A film that's smart and sexy? Now, that's definitely a dose of medicine for what's ailing the film industry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Black Model Museum: The First American Covergirl

Black Model Museum: The First Black Covergirl

Forty years ago, marked the first time a black woman ever appeared on the cover of a national American women's magazine. The pioneering face on the cover of the August 1968 issue belonged to Katiti Kironde, then a college student at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Though not a model, Katiti's cover was a financial success and would open the floodgates for many model firsts in the years to follow: Jolie Jones, Mademoiselle '69; Daphne Maxwell, Glamour, '69; Jane Hoffman, Cosmopolitan, '69; Elizabeth of Toro, Harper's Bazaar, '69; and Beverly Johnson's coveted, American Vogue cover of '74, struck the last blow to the long-standing tradition of exclusion.

Thanks to Katiti's historic cover and the efforts of women and men in front of, and behind the lens, we've never known a world where diversity was blatantly not welcomed to the publication party. And we think that's something worth celebrating.

Today we're gonna party like its 1968!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

P. Diddy Campaigns for Janelle Monae in Los Angeles

P. Diddy Campaigns For Janelle Monae in Los Angeles
(Photo by: J. Althaus)

Los Angeles, CA -- There was a seismic shift in the energy of the Hollywood Sunset Strip last night around 7 pm. Just as anticipation was building around the nail-biting democratic race several thousand miles away, the energy outside the Key Club was also peaking Tuesday night.

But the issue at hand was neither Obama, Clinton, or McCain. The people had spoken and they wanted a musical change they could believe in. Afro-Punk kids, Music Industry execs, Hollywood blondes, and the Grown & Sexy put aside their differences to align for one common cause--Janelle Monae.

And she delivered.

P. Diddy Presents Janelle Monae in Los Angeles

After being presented to the crowd with a heartfelt speech from two of her chief campaign backers, P. Diddy & Big Boi of Outkast, Janelle Monae unleashed on stage with a wildly energetic performance of Violet Stars Happy Hunting, and from there, was an introduction to the many faces of Janelle Monae. She followed with the achingly beautiful, Smile, a song in which she shines with the vocal depth and tenderness of a young Judy Garland. Sincerely Jane has a strong social message and a bass line to match, and Letting Go has a fun, bouncy nature, easily reminiscent of Michael Jackson's early work from Thriller. With her brief, but powerful set, Monae clearly addressed the underlying issues, key ingredients for any new artists' success: talent, versatility, and influential backers.

P. Diddy Presents Janelle Monae in Los Angeles

The crowd was appreciative, and cheers became more akin to a campaign rally than an artist showcase (see Monae "Imagination Inspires Nations" posters being hoisted in the crowd photo).

If Diddy was making the case to bring a change in the music industry, as he suggested in his opening speech, then the results from last night was resoundingly clear: Janelle Monae is definitely a musical candidate of change. And, without question, receives the endorsement of The Cocoa Lounge.