What's Going On
WHAT’S GOING ON By Victoria Horsford
2016 USA ELECTIONS
GOP Presidential hopeful Donald Trump keeps insisting the system is rigged. You are damn right, Donald. The system favors billionaires like you who can dodge taxes for at least 1/3 of your lifetime while American hoi polloi are taxed unfairly. He can lose almost $1 billion one year, exempting him for paying taxes for another 20 years? The more I read about him, the more we see that he is so toxic to people of color; Blacks, Latinos, Asians who seem to inadvertently be voting in one anti-Trump bloc, according to the NY Times and Washington Post.
It is 16 and counting, the politico hopefuls who are eyeballing the Inez Dickens City Council seat. Ms. Dickens is running for the NYS Assembly, a seat once held by her dad Lloyd Dickens and her uncle decades ago. Once she is Assemblywoman-elect, the fun begins in readying for a special election. Assemblyman Keith Wright, Senator Bill Perkins, real estate developer and Community Board 10 Chairman Brian Benjamin and Larry Scott Blackmon are names most frequently circulated at uptown watering holes. It is interesting to note that all of the invisible hands are prominent supporters of the group of 16, the NYC Mayor, the NY former mayor, the WFP and many others.
The October 13 Women for Hillary in Harlem promises to be THE Big Uptown Fundraiser, which will generate at least $25,000. An impressive group of A-list, distaff talent have come aboard the WFHIH fundraiser committee members, people like Valerie Bradley, Athena Moore, Copper Cunningham, Harriet Michel, Jeanne Parnell, Ruth Clark, Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, Harriette Mandevile, Arva Rice, Beatrice Sibblies, Shante Bacon, Joyce Johnson and Rachel Nordlinger. The fundraiser will be held at the Lenox Sapphire, located at 341 Lenox Avenue, corner of 127th Street and is open to men and women who make a donation.
Chairman Lloyd Williams and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce hosted the organization’s 120th Anniversary Gala on October 4th at the Harlem Hospital Pavilion, where retiring Congressman Charlie Rangel was honored.
The Burlington store inside the Whole Foods building complex, located at 100 West 125th Street on Lenox, opened last week. It is a welcome addition to the Central Harlem retail terrain. The store is inventoried with items of apparel, housewares, shoes, luggage and more. From the look of the sales staff and associates, Burlington wisely recruited staff from the neighborhood. My shopping cart filled quickly, owing to inviting price points. It is open until 10 pm.
American Fine Art Week 2016 offers a trifecta of visual delights: the Swann Gallery Auction of African-American art on October 6 at 2:30 pm, swanngalleries.com; the new Studio Museum in Harlem; and Ghana-born fine artist TAFA, who opens his studio, located at 176 East 106 Street, Manhattan, on October 5-6 from 11 am to 6 pm. [Call 917.518.9970]
The June Kelly Gallery’s next exhibition, CODE SWITCHING, features sculpture and works on paper by renown visual artist Colin Chase; it opens on October 14. Exhibit focuses on his “ongoing investigation and understanding of the myriad ways that we communicate”. Chase enthuses, “abstraction is the envelope that contains the body of my discoveries” – text, alphabet ciphers, bar codes and Morse–and their intersections. Located at 166 Mercer Street in SoHo, Manhattan, CODE SWITCHING runs through November 26. [Call 212.226.1660 or visit junekellygallery.com.]
Nate Parker’s film, “Birth Of A Nation”, is based on the life of Nat Turner, a slave preacher who organized a violent slave uprising in Virginia in 1831. For months, media predicted that the film, a Sundance feature, was targeted for greatness, at the very least an Oscar. Parker wrote, directed and starred in “Birth Of A Nation”, which opens nationally on October 7, is mired in controversy about a Parker college trial. A recent disclosure about Parker and a 1999 rape during his college years obfuscates all of the film’s heretofore luster. Parker was a co-defendant at the trial. He was exonerated. The victim committed suicide 4 years ago and her family attributes it to post-rape depression. The film takes a back seat to a 1999 incident which Parker has always said was consensual.
TALK OF THE TOWN
Debi Jackson hosted a birthday party on 9/24 at her elegant poolside digs in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. A celebration befitting a queen, the party for the former ‘BLS radio host-cum-Hal Jackson widow, boasted all of the right accoutrements, great food catered by Norma Darden’s Spoonbread, good ambiance and a handsome, convivial group of arts and entertainment culturati like Sandra DaCosta, Hilda Williams, Helen and Bill Covington, Stacie and Reuel Raghunandan, G. Keith Alexander, Dedra Tate and dad Bob Tate, Audrey Bernard, Roy Paul, David Sheppard, Pat Stevenson, Adrienne Gaines, Ronnie Wright and divas Melba Moore and Meli’sa Morgan. The birthday was a 4-generation affair attended by Debi’s mom Bernice White, her daughter Tonya Gray and her granddaughter Tiffany Jones.
RIP: Visual artist Betty Blayton, 79, died last weekend. Born in Newport News, Virginia, Blayton attended the prestigious Palmer Memorial, an African-American boarding school in NC. She relocated to NY where she earned an MFA at Syracuse University and exploded in New York’s fine arts scene. An abstract expressionist, Blayton’s Harlem presence dates back to Haryou-Act and its Arts and Culture Program, where she worked as a fine arts instructor and where she met and married Rheet Taylor, himself a Haryou music instructor. Blayton’s legacy is the Harlem-based Children’s Art Carnival, an arts collaborative and atelier for children 4 years to college level, with far-reaching tentacles and partnerships with the NYC Department of Education and after-school programs.
The Classical Theatre of Harlem opens its fall season on October 8 with a timely new comedy, FIT FOR A QUEEN, which is based on a true story about a woman’s rise to prominence and power, becoming an Egyptian Pharaoh. Story centers on Hatpshepsut, an ancient Egyptian woman ruler who dressed like a man and insisted that she be addressed as a Pharaoh, which is a male title. She was the 5th Pharaoh during the 18th Dynasty, serving from 1478 to 1458 BC. Betty Shamieh wrote the play and April Yvette Thompson portrays Hatpshepsut. FIT FOR A QUEEN performances run through 10/30 at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial Center located at 3940 Broadway in Manhattan.
The National Park Service hosts a 3-day AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND celebration on October 5-7. This week is the 25th Anniversary of the African Burial Ground’s rediscovery and the 13th Anniversary of The Rites of Ancestral Return – the reburial of ancestral remains which were excavated from this sacred site. Movies like “Then I’ll Be Free to Travel Home” talks by architect Rodney Leon, dance and music concerts are a part of the ABG cultural menu of festivities at 290 Broadway in Manhattan. [Visit nps.gov/afbg]
Join the 2-day NY Haitian Community and Brooklyn Councilman Mathieu Eugene and observe the city’s First Annual Haitian Day Celebration. On 10/8 at 12 noon, there will be a Haitian Flag-Raising Ceremony at Bowling Green on Broadway and Whitehall Street, Manhattan. On 10/9 at 7 pm, Haitian Day festivities continue at the Brooklyn Museum. For more info, e-mail email@example.com.
The Theatre Communications Group hosts its 2016 Gala Evening on November 14 and will honor a number of Broadway eminences, including Danai Gurira, playwright/actress, 2016 Tony nominee for “Eclipsed”, and the African-American principals of Front Row Productions Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, whose Broadway producer credits are “Eclipsed”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “A Trip To Bountiful” and “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”. Gala will be held at the Edison Ballroom, located at 240 West 47th Street, Manhattan. Byrd and Jones-Harvey have a Midas Touch for Broadway theater. Their next theater adventure will be “Black Orpheus”, a musical. [Visit tcg.org]
A Harlem-based journalist, Horsford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.