Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall for the Book Festival, George Mason University

It's a beautiful fall day, cool enough to walk without overheating, but warm enough so that you don't need a jacket.

Last night I helped to introduce Chinua Achebe along with the mayor of Fairfax, Virginia at the Fall for the Book Festival. I have to thank my friend of 16 years, Pier Penic, for this honor. Achebe read from a collection of his poetry and from Things Fall Apart. I realized when Achebe was reading one of his poems in Ibo that the poem is recited in the PBS series, "Africans in America, Part I, The Terrible Transformation," for last Wednesday I was viewing the film with my students, and two of my Nigerian students got real excited. When I asked them what was the commotion about, they told me that they were familiar with the poem, and one of the students started translating it for me. But neither student told me that it was a poem by Achebe. So I am indebted to my students for always broadening my understanding of the work that I do. I learn so much from them.

Check out the Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason University. Here is the URL so that you can gleam information: http://www.fallforthebook.org/. My good friend and mentor, James Miller, will be speaking about Richard Wright on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, at 11:00 a.m. He is the Director of American Studies at the George Washington University and president of the Richard Wright Society.

Nothing to report. Everything is eerily calm with my son in college. I'm busy, and it feels good. My students are performing better, which means that I have become a better teacher. The panel discussion on Barack Obama is solid and ready to go at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 30, 2008, at the Rennie Forum in the Student Center Building at Prince George's Community College. If you are available, please join us for what I think will be a wonderful discussion. There are some absolutely brilliant scholars and writers on the panel.

I'm rereading Richard Wright's Black Power because I am joining James Miller in a discussion on Wright at Howard University on Thursday, September 25, 2008, at 4:00 p.m. I know that Miller knows his stuff, so the good student that I am, I'm going to be prepared.

The Congressional Black Caucus starts tomorrow. If you are in DC, give me a call.

Nothing to post except that years ago my astute mother and aunt encouraged me to buy gold. I didn't. Now I regret not listening to them. One day, I will pay attention to my elders.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Collapse of the Financial Market

Flat on my back with vertigo. This happens when I am tired and I spend too much time with dusty books in the stacks of libraries. I suppose this is an indication that I need to socialize more and stay out of the libraries.

Heard A'lelia Bundles, the great great granddaughter of Madame C. J. Walker, give a talk about A'lelia Walker at the Alexandria Black Resource Center on Wednesday evening. She debunked two myths: Madame C.J. Walker invented the straightening comb and A'lelia Walker spent all of the money. Look for Ms. Bundles' book about A'lelia Walker sometime next year.

Chinua Achebe will be at the Fall for the Book Festival at the Center for the Arts on the campus of George Mason University on Monday, September 22, 2008, at 7:30 p.m. I am helping to introduce Mr. Achebe, so please join us.

Still up in the air with the publisher about my book; it seems that one of the four readers' reports is recommending a massive rewrite after the reader admits that there is nothing published in African American literary studies and class. Oh well, I think that some of my colleagues treat their peers like graduate students.

The county where I work is threatening to furlough approximately 500 people, including, but not limited to police officers and fire men. Since I work for the county system, I better start watching my pennies.

The financial markets are in a mess. If you don't know this then you have really buried your head deep in the sand. But hey, why don't we march on Washington and demand that the Bush administration refinance our debt at below market rates?I mean, come on, we are productive members of the society; we get up and go to work everyday, rear our children, stay out of jail; some of us even pray on Sunday. I'd like a cool $58 billion in my bank account to ride through this recession.

I once worked in the bond market so I'm not as naieve as the above-paragraph implies. I just wonder how it is that the greed in this country is so pervasive that the greedy will collapse the whole system rather than just steal a little.

This is one reason why I left the bond industry. I was working downtown Atlanta on the legal team that was helping to structure a general obligation deal on that "black" day in October 1987 when the financial markets hit bottom. I kept waiting for folks to jump out of the windows of the Georgia Pacific Building; but guess what, there weren't any windows that would open, so we just worked all night to get the deal to market before the interest rates increased.

So we are stuck with a big hole in our economy after the junta has been in office for eight years. The Bush cartel will walk out with their pockets lined, and we will be left holding the empty bags that all of our hopes and dreams won't ever fill up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Plate is So Full

Okay, I've been waiting for this moment: son sequestered off on a university campus and I have time to do what I've always wanted to do: read and write all day; not prepare a meal but eat a bowl of grapes in the bed; hang out in the District until I drop and not worry about what time I get home; stay at work and actually get some work done without placing a thousand telephone calls or text messages to check on my son.

So, I'm doing all of this and more. My plate is too full, I have signed on for far too many community projects, agreed to direct too many projects at work; contracted to write too many book reviews and biographical entries; and, pulled down from the shelf too many manuscripts-in-progress with intentions on completing them. I mailed off one manuscript on Monday. And I'm revising a book proposal to mail by the end of the week.

Sometimes I think that I actually married subconsciously to slow myself down. My friends used to complain that "we can never get in touch with you" during the days when landlines and answering machines were the main mode of communication, and I would go for weeks too busy to answer the phone; only coming home to drop in the bed.

But I like it this way. I don't know how to operate unless my plate is full. So if you have received an invitation to the panel discussion on Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father" that I am organizing for the Book Bridge Project at Prince George's Community College, at 10:00 a.m., on September 30, 2008, please drop by. And if I missed your name in the distribution list, please let this serve as a special invitation to come out.

I'll be helping to introduce Chinua Achebe for the "Fall for the Book Festival" at George Mason University at 7:30 p.m., on Monday, September 22, 2008. I am so excited, and I want to give as lyrical an introduction as my friend and colleague Ethelbert Miller does.

I've been holding down the Library of Congress reading room on Saturdays trying to track down short stories by Marc Crawford, a personal friend of James Baldwin. I actually found one in print in Negro Digest. The story is about a writer who is unable to sell his manuscript. Sounds like the plight of some of us. If any one has contact information for Crawford's family, please forward it to me at michelelsimms@yahoo.com.

We survived the torrential downpour this past weekend. Leaves were strewn everywhere. Fall is rushing in rather quickly this year. I will miss the hot summer days.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Negligent, But Back in the Groove

Okay, I know. I've been negligent in posting this blog. Believe it or not, I still journal everyday, I just don't always post my blog. I suppose it's because I find it easier some days to sit and sip my coffee while writing. Lugging my laptop, firing it up, and getting on the internet seems a lot of trouble to me lately. But I'm back at work and in my office by 6:30 a.m. So I will return to my routine of posting my blog as soon as I get in my office.

What's going on? Obama is the democratic candidate for president. A dear friend of mine bet me that this would never happen. I should have made the brother put his Jaguar on the line. McCain has made a really stupid move with his VP choice. Whose baby is it anyway: hers or her daughter's? The Clintons, the Clintons, what can I say?

My niece has had a daughter: this makes me a great aunt tenfold, I think. I've lost count of the new kids in the family. Everyone is doing fine. My son is at Howard. At 5:00 a.m. on Monday, I received a photo of and a message about a cockroach in his room, on my cellphone. I know, $23,000 + for cockroaches and mice. Well, he hasn't seen the mice yet; but when I asked the R.A. "what does my son need to be comfortable in Drew hall," he told me, "mice bait." Oh, well, what can I say? I gave my son the spiel about how you don't kill mice because of the bacteria they emit, lawdy, lawdy, dah; and how you need to be adamant about calling the Dean of Residence Life and demanding that they exterminate. I'm just getting the kid primed for how to deal with property owners if he winds up being a renter for a short time after graduation.

But yes, I'm wholly taken aback by roaches and mice in Howard's dorms. My son is a better person than I am, I would be ballistics about right now and staging a sit in on the quad. When I was leaving campus on Wednesday, a student from Africa pointed out that he had been bit by bed bugs in Carver Hall. Okay, enough, I'll stop here.