NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday April 3rd 2020

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Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association

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April 2020 Cartoon

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Something I Said

Dark girls deserve better

By DWIGHT HOBBES

Black was only so beautiful when the phrase hit in the 60s. Sure, we were at the tumultuous crest of a movement to throw off society’s shackles and, in the process, bolster self-esteem. Superficiality, though, runs deep. While we were exultant, reveling in social revolt, it didn’t displace an entrenched ideal. It didn’t cure a psychological infection. Folk with African features were no more attractive than they had been since the advent of that age old ditty, “If you’re white, just right. Yellow is mellow. Brown can stick around. If y’ black, get back.” However, times have changed, this has stayed the same.

Hence, “Dark Girls”, a documentary the Association of Black Psychologists credits with providing,“an opportunity to take a soul-searching look at the effects of racism affect on the self-image of black women. Among several salient aspects tackled in the film, the powerful impact of America’s insidious media is given a good, insightful look-see. Ironically, candid comment comes from, all sources, white hip-hop journalist, Soren Baker, who observes, “I’ve always found it hypocritical that rappers [claim to have] black pride, then…have [predominantly] light-skinned women or women who aren’t black in their videos, especially as the love interest.”

CJ Walker, the first black millionaire, made and sold hair straightener, predating such idiocy as is noted in the film. Including skin-bleaching (remember, Michael Jackson?), a multi-billion dollar business in which people ascribe to the faith that being lighter brings a better life. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, they actually have a point. Worse than grown women who play head-games with themselves, desperate to look white as possible, it’s heartbreaking to watch, for instance, the open scene in which an innocent child states, “I don’t want to be called black.” The also film reports on a new version of the 1940s experiment by Kenneth and Mamie Clark, in which children clearly exhibited self-hatred, favoring light hued dolls over dark ones.

Noted actor-director Bill Duke, who, with D. Channsin Berry, produced and directed “Dark Girls,” was asked, ‘Why are you airing our dirty laundry?’ His reply: “It’s stinkin’ up the house.” Like Chris Rock’s documentary, “Good Hair,” another no punches pulled examination of black folks’ folly; “Dark Girls” holds a mirror up for the color-struck among us to see for themselves exactly what they are: self-deluded phonies whose dedication to white supremacy poisons the minds and hearts of girls growing into women. FYI: “Dark Girls” 2 dropped in March, expanding the scope to an international perspective.

Anok Yai, ranked the world’s most beautiful woman and the richest model, is, yes, white-girl pretty. She’s also black as the ace of spades. There may be hope yet.

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Raise Your Voice

The Elders Have Spoken

Peter Molenaar

By PETER MOLENAAR

Little Earth, Phillips Community Center, Ebenezer Towers on Portland and Park Avenues, and Anderson Community School – for the Phillips Neighborhood, these were the Primary Vote polling places. Thanks to the volunteers who made it happen, those who had navigated the information overload were privileged to exercise their right. It can now be said with certainty: the elders have spoken.

To his credit, Joe Biden shook many hands in South Carolina. African Americans, especially the elders, bore witness to his having played second fiddle to President Obama, and trust him not to play a treasonous game with mass bigotry. Moreover, many believe Biden to be the likely candidate to defeat Donald Trump.
(We are not in a revolutionary situation at this time!)

From the standpoint of our ‘Popular Front’, looking back, many were initially drawn to the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth was recognized as perhaps the first person to wrap a mind around the 2008 financial crisis. She formulated and implemented a policy to reign in the criminal elements of the financial sector. Power to her. Right? Truthfully, when Bernie Sanders entered the race, many of us were conflicted.

To be sure, Bernie is our best agitator. Free college education? That was implemented by the first socialist country about a century ago. Medicare for all? Let’s catch up with Europe and save a lot of money (Elizabeth agrees). Cut the bloated military budget? Please. Green New Deal? We can’t live without it.

Break up the big banks? Well, personally… I suggest we nationalize and socialize our entire financial infrastructure (hey, nobody is perfect). Nonetheless, I was proud to attend the Labor for Bernie Rally at the CWA 7200 Union Hall, down on 3521 E. Lake Street.

However, once again: the Elders have spoken. Despite every grievance and criticism, we have to unite. But, do not doubt for one moment that the youthful social democratic spirit will continue to develop, evolve, and ultimately prevail.

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Book Review

Angela Henry Offers Another Thriller, “Doing it to Death”

By Dwight Hobbes

Fans of mystery novelist Angela Henry’s Kendra Clayton series, rejoice. Delightfully intrepid, crime-solving sleuth Clayton is back, flying by the seat of her pants and as usual, two steps ahead of police detectives on the trail of a murderer.

Also par for the course, the closer she gets to figuring things out, the more her own life is in danger. On top of everything, Kendra would just as soon be left in peace, minding her own business, which is exactly what she’s doing when circumstance hurls her headlong, up to her neck in someone else’s troubles.

Far from formulaic, this time around Henry has come up with yet another way for Kendra to stumble into difficulty that she’d rather have nothing to do with but can’t see herself avoiding.

In “Doing It to Death” (Boulevard West Press), Dibb Bentley, about as unsavory a sort as you’re apt to come by, is freed from prison after a 30-year stretch.

Hell-bent on retrieving what he hid in the home of sad-sack, self-imagined “Mack Daddy,” Lewis Watts, he ends up dead in the trunk of Watts’ Cadillac. The evidence points to Watts, who is tossed in the clink and comes whining and crying to Kendra that he didn’t do it.

As distasteful of an individual as she finds him, Kendra strongly suspects the worst crime he’s guilty of is living like he was stuck in a ’70s “Blaxploitation” flick. So, she grudgingly looks into it, drawn in against her will, not to mention instinct for self-preservation, to save someone she wouldn’t spit on to put out a fire. From there, everything begins to gradually, inexorably go straight to hell.

Fiction writing Rule of Thumb: Your protagonist has an interesting line of work in a glamorous, exotic or at least exciting setting. Kendra is a part-time GED teacher with a night job hosting at a soul food restaurant in a small Ohio town. Henry makes it work beautifully as you engage with Kendra’s thoughts and feelings, most engagingly her wry wit and dryly pragmatic view of people.

If it weren’t for bad luck, you’d swear the poor woman wouldn’t have any luck at all. Especially when it comes to her perpetually frustrated love life. Yet, she determinedly perseveres and, by the skin of her teeth, handily prevails.

Henry is subtle, a sure-hand at image-rich immediacy. She has an unerring ear for dialogue and draws perfectly natural characters to whom you can easily relate. Importantly, the narrative flow is seamless.
From the outset, reading: “Lewis Watts stood in the doorway of Pinky’s Bootleg Joint and surveyed the crowd. He recognized everyone in the room because he’d just been drinking with most of them at The Spot less than half an hour ago.

“When The Spot closed at two in the morning, everyone who wasn’t ready to go home and still had money in their pockets headed for Pinky’s, an after-hours bootleg joint. Leroy ‘Pinky’ Buford was an ex-bookie who let people party at his house when the bars closed.

“He sold watered down drinks ran illegal card and crap games that everyone swore were rigged and let scandalous couples who wanted to hook up behind their significant other’s backs use the three bedrooms upstairs, all for a fee, of course.”

Tailor made for television, particularly, say, Lifetime or BET with an audience already in place thanks to prior Kendra Clayton successes (“The Company You Keep,” “Tangled Roots,” “Diva’s Last Curtain Call,” to name just a few), Angela Henry’s deftly entertaining “Doing It To Death” is, hands-down, another winner.

For more info on the works of Angela Henry, visit www.angelahenry.com or connect with her on Twitter @MystNoir.

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TRANSIT—Transit Changes in the Med City

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Unfortunately, there is no significant transit news in the Phillips neighborhood, or even the Twin Cities, for me to report this month. Therefore, I am going to digress from my usual local focus and talk about changes coming to the transit system in Rochester as of the 12th of July.

The last time I wrote about Rochester Public Transit in the Alley was about three years ago when I first started this column. RPT was in the midst of a major service improvement from six days a week to seven. That’s right: until a few years ago, buses didn’t even run on Sundays in the Med City. Now, RPT is rectifying another shortcoming of their system: the complexity of routes. Most weekday routes don’t run the same at night or on weekends: for example, to go to Apache Mall on weekdays, Routes 7 and 7A are the way there. At night it is route 7N, and on the weekends it is Routes 23 and 24. The minor variations between them are a lot to remember.

The new system unifies the daytime, night, and weekend service so the same route number will always go to the same places. That simple policy is something we in the Twin Cities take for granted. This will be accomplished, in part, by going from one- and two-digit route numbers to three digits.

We used to have a similar cacophony here in the Twin Cities until about 20 years ago. Minneapolis and Saint Paul had duplicate route numbers: the Saint Paul 4 was different from the Minneapolis 4, and freeway buses were numbered after the freeway with radically different routes differentiated only by a letter. 35M went to Burnsville and 35B went to Edina!

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Art For All

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL, Semilla Center

The Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts at St. Paul’s believes that creating art together can be a way of healing for individuals and communities. Semilla will host an “Art Block Party” for Block Clubs, where artists will create art with your neighbors—art that will beautify your street and send a message of unity. Interested? semillacenter@gmail.com

Welcome to Semilla benefit “Art for All” on Saturday, May 16 from 5 to 9 pm, at the Center for Changing Lives, 2400 Park Avenue. Live music, food, hands-on art making, a silent auction, youth photography show and more. $20 suggested donation—discount tickets for volunteers.

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April 2020 edition of The Alley

April 2020 Movie Corner

By HOWARD McQUITTER II

oldschoolmovies.wordpress.com

howardmcquitter68@gmail.com

“Onward”

(2020)

Animation /Adventure/Action
Pixar Pictures
3.5 of 5

Pixar never (or almost never) makes an animation that isn’t heart warming, inspirational, or both. The latest is “Onward”, not on the same level as “Toy Story”(1995), “Toy Story 2” (1999),””UP” (2009), “Inside Out” (2015) and WALLE” (2008); but is still entertaining and warmhearted.

Ian (Tom Holland) looks on his bedroom wall to see pictures of his father who passed away while he was a toddler. He misses him dearly and so does his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt). Ian is quite shy and Barley is brass and a bit immature.

On Ian’s 16th birthday, the boys’mother, Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), gives a gift to him and to his brother from his father–a wizard staff that has the power to bring back their father for 24 hours. While Ian is experimenting with the magic stick something goes wrong conjuring up only the bottom half of their father and the gem on top of the staff disappears. The top half is in a far off land. Barley, Ian, and the bottom half of dad jump into Barley’s old van taking off on a quest to rejoin the top half of their father having only 24 hours to do so. “Onward” becomes a road movie twisting and turning on highways, country roads, and running into dead ends with run-ins with biker gang fairies at a gas station and stop at a mystical restaurant owned by The Manticore (Octavia Spencer).

This entire wild, winding quest is fun to see with all kinds of creatures—Cyclops, elves, centaurs, manticores, unicorns on screen. Pixar is very adept at turning goofball action into lively adventures. Come to think of it, “Outward” has a bit of Harry Potter up it’s sleeves and maybe a slight touch of” E.T. Extra-Terrestrial,” (Pixar’s first film without any involvement from John Lasseter, following his departure as CEO of Disney’s Animation Areas.) “Onward’ is about family—the microcosm of any society. To have a father missing is a serious gap in any family.

Cast: Tom Holland (Ian Lightfoot), Chris Pratt (Barley Lightfoot), Julia Loius-) Drefus (Laurel Lightfoot), Octavia Spencer (The Manticore), Mel Rodriguez (Colt Bronco), Kyle Bornheimer (Wilden Lightfoot), Lena Waithe (Officer Spencor), Ali Wong (Officer Gore), Grey Griffin (Dewdrop), Tracey Ullman (Gr Johner Ualderrama (Gaxton), George Psarras (Officer Avel), John Ratzenberger (Construction Worker).

Director: Dan Scanton. Running time:114 minutes. (PG)

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March 2020 edition of The Alley

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