Two Factory Workers, B: unknown – D: unknown
Today is Saturday, and I’m not going to church… not only am I still swaddled in a whole lotta flannel on this bright & freezing Sabbath morn, I’m humming AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’! ah we the blasphemous few… [teehee] Anyway! Where was I??
So we’ve all seen the famous poster of Rosie the Riveter, that defiant brunette with her red & white polka dotted handkerchief head tie & blue work shirt with the sleeve rolled up, flexing a sinewy yet feminine bicep. Costumes! editorial photo spreads in magazines! publicity shots! tattoos! t-shirts! parodies! even a song! this fictional woman is an icon! We Can Do It, indeed.
These two unnamed black women were doing their rivet-y best to support the troops during World War II, and as we all know, everybody pitched in with volunteering during the War effort in any way they could. Noble effort by the photographer to show various & diverse Americans working together… FDR did his best to unify us during this time. However, the truth is, no matter what they portrayed, or the shared emotional highs of the country’s successes during that time, America was still ridiculously & embarrassingly [and bafflingly!] segregated — separate entries for workers, separate lunch areas, extra scrutiny. Even going across the ‘pond’, many Caribbean men & women who had enlisted in the Royal Air Force and Navy were severely treated as if they were underfoot or were the enemy themselves — all working for the same success, the same freedom.
So yes, the Allies were indeed successful. We all have our freedom, and we aren’t a Nation sieglheiling each other in the streets, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves. There continues to be ugliness brewing in the dark recesses of this planet, and not so dark — the more they get unnoticed, the further out they venture… We’ve come a long way, and I understand, blatant slavery was just the other day—a skip down memory lane [if you kid yourself and pretend is still doesn’t exist] we’re a slow bunch, we humans… but if we can just step outside of ourselves for a second, put that higher reasoning that only we possess to work, and be just united– revel in our commonality… doesn’t matter if we have a brunette Rosie, a blonde Rosie, a latin Rosie, a black Rosie, an asian Rosie or a native Rosie– united, we can rise above the nonsense [trying not cuss today, it IS Sabbath after all] 😉 and be successful. We CAN do it.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton, 1/16/1979 – 8/25/2001
We knew this young lady by her first name only—just Aaliyah. That’s all we needed, really. For only 22 years we had the privilege of sharing this planet with this beautiful woman… hold on, let’s get real for a second. When people see me they’re not exactly sure what to expect of me. They assume much. I have conditioned myself to thwart their assumption, because above all, I relish in entertaining myself. They think I’ll speak a certain way. I don’t. They think I’ll act a certain way. Sorry. They think I’ll indulge in certain types of food or libations or other enhancements. Never had it, never will. They assume I don’t know certain things. Not only do I know them to exhaustion, but, feigning ignorance, I purposefully don’t discuss them because I know how circular & pointless the argument will be, counteracting our own interaction… Then because nothing appears to fit in their own limited understanding, they begin to assume I’m one of ‘those’. Wrong again. The thing is, nobody belongs in a box– including them… which brings me to R&B and Hip Hop… This genre of music has its highs & lows. It started off great… meaningful artists with a mission and purpose, working hard, paying their dues… then it slowly turned into everybody with a demo tape cutting deals, and because there are so many vying for the same fame, Talent has turned into Shock Value. Social media has made the evolution even more disturbing — it’s like it’s all caving in on itself. Interesting to watch the buffoonery, but scary…
For a brief moment, a 14 year old girl seemingly beyond her years, made a difference— and for eight years following until her death, Aaliyah grew as an artist, forever changing the industry. She always seemed so composed, so calm, so zen… such a feminine and gentle voice—with an actual soprano range. I won’t even get into all she’s done, because frankly it would be too long— you can wiki that. I just know that whenever I saw Aaliyah perform, or talk, or walk around… or just sitting down in an interview, she just seemed like she’s been here before. Yes I understand that entertainers put on a persona for their public to market their brand, etc. etc, but her consistent air of self-possession was always inspiring to me. That combination of self-possession & talent made her prime to ultimately bend r&b and hiphop to her will, redefining the genre positively… but did it last?
Aaliyah’s death at the age of 22 really was a shock. Disturbing that some of the footage from her last video ‘Rock the Boat’ [frankly, a boring little vapid throw away song that seemed studio-generated for sales] was filmed on the very beach in the Bahamas where the twin engine Cessna, loaded down with equipment & luggage, along with Aaliyah & crew, crashed. The photo I chose wasn’t the typical glammed up, airbrushed visions of perfection – she even looks a little annoyed. I love it though– natural, unpretentious… and those calm eyes, looking like she’s done this all before.
This isn’t really a quote, because they were all pretty standard fare… but a recurring nightmare Aaliyah would have up until her death:
“Someone’s following me and I don’t know why. I’m scared. Then suddenly I lift off. Far away. As if I’m swimming in the air. Nobody can reach me. Nobody can touch me.”
[disclaimer: Michonne is a fictional character on the Walking Dead and is played by Danai Jekesai Gurira, currently alive– and in fact, born February 14, 1978, so happy birthday to Danai!)
As I write this, in my hemisphere, my time zone, it is Valentine’s Day, and while today might be filled with lovey dovey stuff for the rest of you mortals, I’ve got my evening sorted, and it will involve walker guts ponchos, a sunken eyed boy yelling out ‘mom’ amidst mayhem, and a few other choice events, but especially this woman right here! Ladies & Gentlemen, may I introduce to you Michonne– the stealthy, katana [that’s a cool & extra slicey Japanese sword] wielding, dreadlock wearing, mega cool zombie killing machine from a little show we call the Walking Dead. She is somber, quiet, loyal, smart, moves like a dancer, and while she doesn’t smile often, when she does, it’s as if day is breaking! truly a beautiful sight to behold, that smile… From the moment we meet her we realize this gorgeous, somewhat broken woman is all about surviving— a mysterious hooded figure, and flanked on either side of her are two armless and jawless ‘walkers’ [yup, the term ‘zombie’ isn’t known in this universe… one of whom was her boyfriend who met his demise and his best friend, same story] she keeps as ‘pets’… (?!) no, she hasn’t completely gone insane – these pets have purpose, they are to mask her living scent [a dinner bell to walkers] so she can move among the inevitable groups of walkers she would encounter on her journey with relative ease. I actually have a theory regarding that scent concept and fear, but that might unravel the whole franchise & ruin it for you, I’ve observed stuff though— oh you KNOW I’m sleuthy! ;D
Brief backstory: some of you may or not know this, but before the Walking Dead was a TV show– which is on its 6th season as we speak, tonight’s episode being the 2nd half of the season after a winter hiatus– it was a graphic novel first [ongoing] and in the comic world Michonne was a lawyer before the apocalypse. They haven’t really disclosed that on the show though, not sure why… she also loved art & frequented galleries and symposiums. In both universes she had a boyfriend and a son, both dead. She eventually joined up with the main group of survivors, and while at first she was a bit of a lone shewolf, she continues to be an integral member of the team. While we shouldn’t begrudge beautiful Danai any role her talented little heart desires (typecasting can’t be fun) Ms. Michonne better not go anywhere any time soon!
“Anger makes you stupid, stupid gets you killed.”