Fela on Broadway

Happy Monday! and last week of February 2010 🙂

Fela on Broadway - February 2010

Although I almost always have an opinion when it comes performance art, I usually save my comments for my personal diary. However, this past weekend, we went to see Fela on Broadway, a musical based on the life and music of the Nigerian musician, political leader, and icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.  The musical is nearly as phenomenal and dynamic as the man (Fela) himself. I will not attempt to write a review; however, I have seen it twice and I will encourage you to attend not because of the many outstanding performances, amazing dancers, awesome set design, or the mind-blowing musicians, but because of the energizing effect it has on the spirit and body. If you don’t want to move or dance at the end of Fela then check your pulse.

Fela on Broadway - February 2010

Fela on Broadway - February 2010

Sahr Ngaujah who played Fela this past Friday, is a theater director and actor of Sierra Leonian descent, born in the United States, and now living in Amsterdam. He exudes power and commands the attention of the audience just as Fela had. See a video of the legend and artist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti below:

New York offers a wide range of performance art; however, I don’t believe there has been ANY other show like Fela! in the Theatre district since Earl Dancer’s, Africana, which actually had nothing to do with Africa from what I gather although Ethel Waters had performed the “African Stomp” during the second half of this Broadway revue in 1927.

The New York Times review of Fela:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/theater/22fela.html?pagewanted=all

Set image from Fela on Broadway - February 2010

If you click on the link with Fela’s name way above, it will take you to his discography. I have been a huge fan of his music for several years now. I would have loved to dance with him ! If you haven’t danced in LONG while, it’s not too late so MOVE SOMETHING!!! or go see Fela for inspiration 🙂

Lala the Sunchaser

mCdonald’s still going strong (weak)

Approximately six or seven months ago, I shared photos from a personal experiment that involves a McDonald’s hamburger and a small order of fries. Today marks the ten month anniversary of this experiment. Basically, we purchased a burger and fries on March 27th, 2009, shortly after my return from Brasil. We then placed each item in a separate glass jar to see how long it would take to dissolve into liquid — as food is supposed to do. Below are photos I took yesterday, January 26th, 2010. The fries have hardly changed. Due to the sun’s rays, there was an ample amount of condensation in the jars but REMEMBER, they have been sitting in these jars for 10 months now!

McDonald's Fries after 10 months

For your information, i am fully aware of the film Supersize Me. i am also a fan of the filmmaker, Rupert Murdoch; however, I am a proponent of “seeing is believing”. Given that there are two McDonald’s within walking distance of me, I figured I would explore McDonald’s staying power…and now I know, it’s “food” that never leaves the body 🙂 and apparently it is rather addictive. I would challenge anyone to eat it, just kidding…This would not be such a good idea. Everyday when I see the jars on the window cill, I am reminded of how far people will go to make a fat buck or a pretty penny!

The bread hasn't even molded - feels funny calling it "bread"

I realize that for many many people, fast food is the only option they have when it comes to feeding themselves on a daily or weekly basis. This is sad and disturbing to say the least. It is cheap, fast, good, and seemingly filling. With the exception of fast, none of those characteristics are valid. I can only hope that more and more people of all backgrounds will discover this in due time. Cheap food is cheap for a reason … this applies to food just as much as it applies to shoes. And trust me, bunion surgery is painful but it doesn’t compare to a triple bypass.

Is it real meat from an animal - where do they find these preservatives?

Please share this with as many people in your life — especially the ones who eat at Mickey Ds, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Popeye’s, Chili’s, AppleBees, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, and the list goes on…I am almost certain that other “food” items from this long list would yield similar results.

Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have!

The burger from a different angle - 10 months old

oh yes, Tonight I went to see, Still Bill, a documentary about the great Bill Withers as part of BRIC’s Friends of Celebrate Brooklyn. For those who haven’t seen it, it will be playing at the IFC Center on Sixth Ave at West 4th Streets until Thursday, February 4th, 2010. If you do not live in NYC, there are screenings all over the country and/or you can purchase the DVD and host a screening!

Mr. Bill WIthers and Lala

Please go and support my friends, Damani, Alex, and Jon (and Mr. Withers too)! I have seen it twice and have gained so much insight from the words of Mr. Withers while laughing my bum off in the process. he is extra hilarious 🙂

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

Love, sunshine and smiles! /Lala

thank goodness for sunshine (tulum pt 3)

as the rain plummets, i am grateful for my comfy home and the warmth of my loved ones this evening. my morning was spent at home with my Babes and my afternoon could not have been more loved-filled if you had given me a truck load of L-O-V-E.

Sugar Daddies exist in Tulum too! Mexico 2009

i attended a women’s healing ritual and meditation with a good friend and i am so happy that the stars aligned so that i could be present. last week, i had made plans to have dinner with a friend visiting from California, let’s call him BT. when my girlfriend, MAM, asked if i could attend a meditation with her on Sunday (today), i had reluctantly declined given that i had already made plans with BT. since i had asked him for some serious one-on-one time, i could not reschedule our meeting; therefore, i responded to my girlfriend with “oh shimmy, i have plans … next time” via a text message. not even 48 hours after MAM’s invitation, BT wrote and said that while he was meditating it became apparent that he should spend the day indoors on Sunday preparing himself for his speech — the reason why he is on the east coast in the first place.

i know you’re thinking “WTF, make your point Lala!”

Shopping in the town of Tulum, Mexico 2009

anyway, he emailed to see if we could move our meeting forward to tuesday afternoon. “for sure, no worries, perfecto!” was my emailed response. this freed me up to go with my girlfriend to the women’s healing ritual. YEAH!!

Chatting with a local man - I need to learn Spanish...

don’t you love it when the “stars” or the “universe” or “whatever” moves things around so that you CAN have your cake and eat it TOO?

Beer Belly; Tulum, Mexico 2009

there were so many beautiful women in attendance this afternoon, i felt honored just to be in their presence. five hours later, my face is still glowing from the many hugs, kisses, and healing energy that were spread throughout the large space. it’s been many years since i have attended a church service but this experience was reminiscent of the after-church gatherings during my childhood years. some women were crying, others were immobilized, and many seem to be beaming with joy,  just as i was. what does this story have to do with sunshine? well, like LOVE, it comes in many forms; and today, it appeared in the smiles & touch of several powerful and amazing women.

The streets are named after constellations, just like the shops

the sun is our greatest source of energy! we are composed of energy! energy is life! and life is meant to be lived, shared, and appreciated.

in town; Tulum, Mexico 2009

in Haiti, during these tough times where an enormous number of people are un-certain of what life has in store for them, it’s the responsibility of the rest of us to lend a helping heart and hand. i am sending positive energy and love to all of those who are searching for a little sunshine – a basket of hope – no matter where you are ! more specifically, i hope that Haiti will recover and heal from this catastrophe soon.

Hammocks; Tulum, Mexico 2009

sometimes, we need to share our loving sun energy with others in times of need which is why we need to travel, read, listen, and conserve our energy. let’s keep the people of Haiti in our hearts over the coming months. perhaps, i will make it there before the year is up…let’s see.

There are food vendors everywhere in town; Tulum, Mexico 2009

I’ll never forget a few words of encouragement my mother gave me over 18 years ago when i was super down, she said to me:

There is nothing you cannot handle. If a challenge presents itself, it is because you are strong, capable and will prevail with effort and plenty of faith.

Driving while texting seems to be an issue everywhere you go!

thanks for reading, as always! plus, i have sprinkled the last of the Tulum, Mexico photos throughout this blog post in hopes of adding more sunshine to your day!

Sombrero anyone? Tulum, Mexico 2009

have you booked your ticket yet? what are you waiting for?! travel then travel some more!

love, peace and prayers

I didn't see one rat or roach in Tulum but that's b/c he's on the case!

Lala the Sunchaser

Posada Luna del Sur - the best B&B in Tulum!! towel art at its BEST.

beach dreaming (more of tulum, mexico)

My last blog posting boasts of me becoming a fierce and strong warrior, akin to Harriet Tubman, who is working to overcome my fear of Mr. Winter. I must confess, I am not doing so well – I would give myself a D+ at best. Not having stepped one foot out of the door since New Year’s Eve, I am a hostage in my own home. As long as I have food, I am capable of staying indoors for up to one week before going stir crazy. Just writing those words seem unhealthy yet it’s the truth. Unable to sleep tonight, I laid in bed tossing, turning, and beach dreaming of being with the sun, sand, and vast ocean as the winds howled and hollered outside my bedroom window.

Below are more photos from my recent stay in Mexico. This time, I will spare you the commentary — the photos plus their respective titles shall speak for themselves. As I mentioned, I traveled with a good friend, Dar, who is a fellow sunchaser.

Details of our trip:

Where: Tulum, Mexico (December 2009)
Cost of Flight: $212.00 USD Jet Blue Airways
Transportation from Airport: Bus directly from airport to Playa del Carmen then to hop another bus to Tulum for $11 total
Hotel Stay: Posada Luna del Sur (located in town – the owners are absolutely wonderful and the place is ultra-clean
Cost per night: $75 divided by 2 people (with continental breakfast included) – you can find places from $40 to $700 per night depending on your budget
Bike Rental: Iguana Bike Rental in town for $9 per day (if Jugo is not around then come back, he is usually close by)
Average spent for food daily: $20 per day and this is only because I enjoy eating well
Favorite restaurants/food spots: Taco Sausalito (the best food in town!), Charlie’s, Puerta del Cielo (3 fish tacos for 80 pesos on the beach)
Tours: Posada Luna del Sur set up a Biosphere Reserve Tour via Sian Ka’an (visitsiankaan.com) – This was fantastic, like a beautiful dream:) and our tour guide, Antonio is extremely knowledgeable and made for the jungle. He even ate a termite. $77 USD including dinner

Youngsters in the town central

Mural - Violence Only Begets Violence

Low Density Jungle of Biosphere

Antonio, Tour Guide for Kian Saan

I love NATURE!

Along the beach near the Kian Saan restaurant

Our boat captain

My NATURE art 🙂

Mother & Daughter on the tour from Barcelona

It was the MOST beautiful day!

Lala and Dar at small Mayan Temple

The bridge where the residents go fishing

Dinner after the Biosphere Tour

Antonio on the boat

Dar, Budding Photographer Extraordinaire

Loved this mother & daughter!

Goodbye Lagoon - Sunset

I have so many more images to share so I will do one last post on Tulum next week! Happy New Year and May All Your Wishes Come True! **Lala**

sunny tulum mexico

seeing that it’s a whopping 16 degrees Farenheit in new york city, i find it necessary to conjure up memories from my recent stay in Tulum, Mexico. oh, how i’d give anything to be back in this magical Mayan/Mexican town where the sun shines bright and the fine white sand serves as a refuge for any lost soul.

Aahh! the beach. Tulum, Mexico

my first encounter of Tulum was last year over the Memorial Day weekend. i was hired to shoot a wedding on the beach for a beautiful couple who were referred to as Damvina (a cute combination of the couple’s first names)…check out their photos in Quicktime by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page. what an amazing weekend!

Mayan Art

the wedding experience was remarkable and the natural beauty of the beach inspired me to make a return trip last week. it was time for a Vitamin D refill; and, since a good friend had made plans to go for a first-time visit, i decided to tag along.

on the beach of Puerta del cielo (Mayan-owned)

of course, there are stories and activities that i wish to share but, for today, i would rather write about one particular instance.

considering that we were staying in the town of Tulum, we rented bikes to ride the 8 km distance to the beach. one sunny day, shortly after breakfast, i headed to the beach alone with purple bag in basket and my bikini underneath summer dress. just as i was approaching the beachside, i felt myself smiling. i mean cheese-ing — even beaming — and it was totally involuntary. at that very moment i was the happiest woman in the world! LOVE was all around me. i felt PEACE. i was ECSTATIC to be alive. only the beauty of nature mattered and my spirit was singing its praises via an ear-to-ear smile.

Lala the Sunchaser (YAY!)

i am totally aware of what does it for me and that is: sunshine, bike riding, the feel of sand, the sounds of the ocean and/or good music, a full belly, LOVE, pen&paper, and the ability to capture beauty with my handy camera.

There are beautiful birds everywhere.

there was a moment where i began to call out the names of my many loved ones and friends saying the words THANK YOU before each name really loud! it’s my way of sending sunshine your way!

quote from Budda (Buddha:)

my wish for you in the coming year is that you find yourself smiling and moving to the magical rhythm of life. i hope that you experience moments of sheer bliss and total gratitude just as i had on the beaches of Tulum.

First sight of the beach while on the bike!

my goal this winter is to enjoy moments like this without realizing that it is FREEZING OUT…it’s all in the mind and anything is possible when you wrap your head around it!

Sunset in Tulum-BREATHE!

think about the fearless leaders who have faced adversity and much harsher weather conditions while marching towards a goal for the good of ALL kind. my personal hero is Harriet Tubman. and by the weather today, i can tell that i am going to need her guiding strength to make it through what i expect to be my last full winter in new york city … i am very close to finishing my first book project so i gotta tough it out.

the next post will outline, in more detail, the adventures of my stay in tulum, mexico … so stay tuned.

With LOVE and CARE!

with love*peace*happiness

happy holidays !

pittsurgh, pa

if you know anything about Pittsburgh, PA, you know that it used to be a major steel town for nearly a century. a working class city with a reputation for winning several Super Bowl Championships and for being the city with the most bridges in the world (446 total), Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state of Pennsylvania; and, it happens to be where I was raised and reared.

bridge_com

1 of 446 Bridges in Pittsburgh

three weeks ago, i boarded my first Jet Blue flight to Pittsburgh for a week long visit with my mom. it had been nearly ten years since i stayed “home” for longer than five days; therefore, one week felt lengthy given that Pittsburgh is land-locked and i was without my bicycle. it’s not that i don’t love my family – i do. they are an extension of who i am yet it doesn’t always feel this way. most often i feel like a visiter or alien observing the lives of others in a strange land.

by age twelve, i remember feeling like i was ready to move [to France]. i insisted my family call me Chantal and made crepes several times per week in preparation for my adult life in Paris. i knew that when i finally left home, it would most likely be for good.

since my departure at the age of seventeen, i have not had to return for any substantial amount of time — although I have called for loans and support more times than i can count. my mother was having minor surgery so it was my turn to support her and spend some quality time with other members of my family. remember, i have over 200 cousins so seeing everyone would be impossible — and this is just on my maternal grandfather’s side.

trees

Trees

upon landing, i was received with gorgeous autumn weather and trees adorned with colors ranging from bright yellow to deep auburn and pumpkin pie. i could tell my mother was glad to have me home because she pranced me around her office and introduced me to co-workers and friends alike. check out the view from her office window. the glass castle-like structure is the PPG Building – a childhood favorite in terms of design.

IMG_4809

PPG Building, Downtown Pittsburgh, PA

IMG_4811

Three Rivers Stadium

my mother recovered swiftly so she treated me to a Public Theatre show called, Ella, a musical about the late great jazz singer, Ms. Ella Fitzgerald. What an fantastic yet simple performance with only Ella, her band members, and her manager who spent most of his time off stage. the lead actress who played Ella, Tina Fabrique, must have channeled Ella’s spirit, giving an uncanny performance of the Lady of Song.

ella_lt

Ella at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre

ella_compressed

Ella, stage

the day before the show, we took a ride to the Andy Warhol Museum not fully aware of their closing time. it was Friday which was great because they were open until nine o’clock and admission was half price since we arrived after 5 p.m. (full admission price is $15). each time i go to the AW museum, i grow more attracted to Mr. Warhol’s visionary talents and level of sensitivity when it came to the ordinary. did you know he co-founded the magazine, Interview?

photo

Andy

in between theatre and museum visits, i managed to see my Dad’s eldest sister, my two uncles, and many cousins on “football day” aka Sunday. as i walked in the door, i was given several speedy hugs, a paper plate, and was told to help myself to food in the kitchen (soul food). just as i made a beeline towards the mac n’ cheese, the entire house erupted in bone chilling screams: Touchdown!! the Steelers won. i quietly stood in the corner until I regained full consciousness then we viewed photos from events I had missed this past year via the enormous flat screen television on the living room wall. did you know you can access your FaceBook page via Fios cable? well, I don’t really know what Fios is or how this is different from other cable networks but there they were, photos of my younger cousin who is currently working in Kuwait. so crazy! i remember when he was born.

prince

One of the newest members of our family, Prince and his mom (my cousin)

below are a few more images from my stay. i am so proud of my mother who has blossomed into a yogi who enjoys Tai Chi, drinks organic milk, and frequents “ethnic” restaurants with her two buddies, N & L. during my teenage years, we rarely ate food outside of the traditional American fare. this included steak umms, pizza rolls, lots of sugar-y cereals, fried chicken, lasagna, tuna casserole, meatloaf with mash potatoes, and let’s not forget poptarts. no complaints here, my mother was doing her very best and we loved every sugar-y bite!

mural2

Mural, there are many beautiful ones throughout the city

now two decades later, we enjoyed the #18 dish at Tram’s Vietnamese restaurant followed by a spicy plate of Mesir Wot at the local Ethiopian restaurant called, Abay, the very next day. this was certainly not the Pittsburgh I remembered proving again that nothing stays the same. this visit was far more enjoyable. my mother has been able to spread her wings and discover a revitalized city that is making a major comeback — just like her — and i am grateful that she is alive and doing well 🙂

trams

Tram's Vietnamese Restaurant

food

MY dish at Tram's, looks messy but tastes so good

Across the street from the Warhol Museum is a building with art by Shepard Fairey, who is currently exhibiting his work inside the museum as well. He is well known for his Obama art.

obey

OBEY

OBEY, my least favorite word.

hope the sun is shining your way!

remember drink plenty of water and take lots of deep breaths 🙂

love/Lala

Going to Ghana, West Africa (interview)

Greetings! If I am not traveling, at least one of my friends is out in the world seeing and living it up. I met this lovely woman in Brasil via a friend from NYC and we got along really well. She has been to New York to visit twice thus far. Earlier this summer she stopped by for a brief visit after a three week trip to Ghana, West Africa. I thought I would share bits from her experience there. See below, and Remember if you’re feeling low, buy a plane ticket and GO!!!

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Brazil and now I live in Barbados

What is your age?
I’m 37

When did you first leave your country and describe that experience?
I first left Brazil to live in another country in 1997. I went to the USA to get my Masters degree. As far as my experience …. I can’t recall it in details, but I remember feeling very excited and eager to live in a country that most black Brazilians, more before than now, believed was a [black] paradise.

Do you have any fears?
Lately I’ve been fearful of making wrong choices in life. There is so much that I want to do that sometimes I feel that I have to get right at the first time because I won’t have time to restart things over and still do all the other things I have in mind.

How do you spend most of your days? Working? Studying? Etc?
Studying,… (just completed a Ph.D. course).

Tell me about your last trip? Where did you go, how did you stay and what was the purpose of your trip?
My last trip was to Ghana. I went to attend a conference and I stayed there another 2 weeks. I stayed for 2 weeks in a Guest house and one week in a hostel.

Makola Market

Markola Market, Ghana West Africa

How was the trip funded?
Personal funds and parent help

What is your least favorite aspect of travel?
Long wait for flight connections

Cape Cost Gourgeous Girls

Cape Coast Gorgeous Girls

What was your most memorable conversation and with whom?
I had many interesting conversations with different people, because one of the things I make sure to do when I travel is to carry on conversations with locals. However there was a conversation I had with a woman who owned a hostel that stayed with me because I think that sometimes I refuse to believe in the extent of the colonial damage. After my refusal to stay at her place, as a last resource to convince me she used the argument that many white people stayed at her hostel and liked it, and she didn’t understand why I didn’t like. A million thoughts crossed my mind to tell her, but since I wasn’t feeling like preaching I tried to be as polite as I could, and I explained to her that because we were black we deserved the best things in life. She looked at me very puzzled and didn’t know what to say for few seconds….

Would you return? If so, where would you go or see?
Yes, I’d definitely return to Ghana, actually I’m trying to get a job there.

Why do you travel?
For leisure, curiosity to know and understand other cultures, need to stay in another environment …

What will be you next trip?
Hopefully to Ghana again.

053

I love Accra (capital of Ghana)

Are you romantically attached? Do you have a family to feed?
Yes, I have a boyfriend. I have no family to feed yet.

What or who motivates you to keep living?
That is a hard one… I think life itself and the things I want to accomplish are the driving forces that make me want to keep living.

Ghanian food workshop at W.B Dubois Center

Ghanian Food Workshop at Dubois Center

Are you happy?
That one is even harder…. I don’t want to say no, but I also don’t want to say yes. Or maybe this is the wrong time of my life to answer this question. I believe I’m going through the beginning of a mid-life crisis. In other words, at this stage of my life I’m working to have some realizations and achievements which I believe are the things that are going to make me happy. And once the crisis is over, maybe I’ll realize that I’ve been happy all along but I wasn’t wise enough to realize that. Isn’t that how life goes……

Last door crossed by those who left from Cape Coast  Slave Dungeon  & Castle

Door of No Return, Cape Cost Slave Dungeon & Castle

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