Ms. NedRa: What Awaits You Now?

M. Chislom, jR


You called shotgun the first trip we took; only thing was, you and I were the only two in the car
You told me that the man giving the Speech at the Kansas Arts Council was lying and that somebody needed to twist his unmentionables
When the Arts Council called to see if I could take somebody with me to the State run meetings; one member of the Team said, “anybody but Nedra”, which made me call you first
The other side was this short woman who came to the door with blankets wrapped around her shoulders, coughing and whizzing and said, “don’t even ask why”
At the National Arts Festival in St. Louis, you said everybody at the table was a phony and they needed to quit playing, but I was the table, you winked at me and said-“I call them like I see them”
When Vikki and Tyrone were chosen to give  the Technology section of our first Minority Conference for Kan Arts, you said “bout Time a Real Minority” gets to do something for the Minorities in Kansas
When I needed your advice on continuing to be President of the Kansas Arts & Technical Services, I was smiling and being a typical MALE with an ego and you said; “Watch your back”, at the next meeting I was impeached, you suggested I go shopping, I still have the sweater I bought that day
Standing at the Indian Center in Wichita KS, we both saw our relatives standing in line waiting on a wagon train headed to Texas and WE KNEW WE WERE SOMEHOW RELATED!
My favorite quilt is your “Freedom Quilt” and when you explain it to folks, you don’t apologize for the symbols or the knowledge imprinted in the design
It is the True Artist who sees what will happen; and in your work, if we don’t see it in the beginning, we’ll walk out and go home and go to bed and wake up and say, OOOOO that’s what she meant
Those of us who admire you, we don’t give you your props often enough! So Props to Sistah
Cousin Nedra your art inspires us all! Keep inspiring, teaching and being unapologetic

Cancer: The ART Project

I have an ancestor who is trying to kill me.
I have cancer but cancer does not have me.
Being a survivor means you came through a situation bigger than yourself. I’m going to OVErCome this
Situation because I AM bigger.
I am not a victim. I am victorious.
I will not do the pink ribbon. Pink ribbons stigmatize us into subservient
Categories. I will not be categorized.

F*ck Cancer

Rabbit Could be the Most Sustainable Meat to Consume for Americans Part 1

In the light of economic, global and dietary climate concerns, why not begin to consider rabbit as an alternative to chicken?

“Floppy” was a Friend

As a youth, rabbit was frequently prepared at the home of my grandparents. From rural Texas and Central Louisiana, they had a friend from whom they purchased rabbit, venison, seasonal fish and game fowl. The meats they sourced were reminiscent of their childhoods. Meal preparations were simple, hearty and delicious. My grandmother’s gravy, often from the smothering of chicken, rabbit or liver, is the best I’ve had to date. When available, the rabbit’s gravy was often a delightful and substantial breakfast. My perception of the delectable rabbit has never changed. The night my father brought home a lovely, young, white flippity-flop as a reward for receiving straight A’s on my report card, I considered the new pet “possible food.” I never forgot about Grandmother’s delicious smothered rabbit. I knew one day, “Floppy’s” fate would be met. My father, an animal lover and a country boy, was not above spinning a yarn and serving us the beloved pet for dinner. Although it never happened, I reminded myself daily of the possibility.

Reacquaintance with a Childhood Friend

I didn’t eat rabbit again until I was 27 years old when my friends held their first annual “Who’s the Betty to Beat” cook-off. Participants drew vintage Betty Crocker recipe cards and were challenged to recreate the dish with personal touch, modern flair and “Betty Crocker-ness.” My card was “Chicken Cacciatore.” I elected to use rabbit to replace the chicken as my personal touch and modern flair, as I had grown weary of chicken. As the default protein, served regularly, eaten nearly daily and often featured, chicken and I had developed a relationship which required a generous amount of space. A short time passed and again, I ate rabbit. I worked as a waitress at a local, regional Italian kitchen. With great enthusiasm, I’d sell the house preparation, “cacciatore” or “in the style of the hunter.” The rabbit’s leg quarters were braised in stock, wine, tomatoes, carrots and onions served fork tender, as a panino with montasio and sour cabbage. It was often my shift meal before I left the restaurant to begin my nightly haunt.

Bugs Never Surrenders, without a Catch

The healthiest meat for consumers comes at a cost which is considerably higher than all other regularly consumed meats in the U.S. A whole rabbit now costs around $7.50/lb (up from $6.00/lb on average, in 2013) for a five-pound fryer with organs. Yet, rabbit is rapidly becoming, the original “other white meat” amongst the adventurous cooks, diners, and crowds who support sustainability. Rabbit is a specialty item typically found on menus of European restaurants. Higher costs are directly related to the rate at which the meat is consumed and produced. Now, rabbits are locally grown, small farmed products and are not subsidized by the United States government.
What this means for the consumer is meat that is low in fat and rich in flavor, at lower costs for higher quality. . . if you chose to raise them at home. At lower prices, is it not something to consider? Rabbits are the simplest of animals to butcher at home. They are also safer to consume as they have a lower cooking temperature, are raised off the ground, can be easily raised at home, and in nearly any climate for the highest quality production.

A Long Way to Hippity-hop…

Historically, a food of the rural dwellers of meager means world wide, in America, rabbits have maintained the profile of friend, favorite furry and giver of eggs, as per its association with Easter. As times shift, so will the role of rabbits. The costs and consumer ranking amongst America’s top consumed meats will also shift. And we will look forward to innovative creations from “foodies”, research and production from the environmentally conscious and advocates, all working to continue to shine new light on the rational delicacy.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

This Christmas, I visited Vancouver, British Columbia. This was especially wonderful because two things I enjoy most were stationed in the same place: my little sister and the wines of Western Canada.

The Pacific Northwest has been one of my long time favored regions of wine production. I prefer the complexity, depth and character of these wines and champion them among some of the world’s best. Vines in this region sit in great company with other worldly regional favorites such as Burgundy & Loire Valley of France, the Piedmont of Northern Italy, the Ribera del Duero & Rioja of Spain.

What can I say, I’m just different, though I live in California when I shop, I look first for wines from the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. Even in Northern California, it’s challenging to walk in to a local shop and discover tastes from British Columbia. There simply isn’t enough produced and Canadians like to drink their own, in country.

I was in wine enthusiast heaven when I walked in a local chain in Davie, Vancouver and found a generous selection of British Columbia wines at a price point of around half of what they can be found for, if found, in the states!!!!
I grabbed three bottles which would be around $30 American dollars: 1) Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Rsv. Merlot 2013 Okanagan Valley 2) Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Pinot Noir 2014 Okanagan Valley and 3) Red Rooster Cabernet Merlot 2013 British Columbia.
My favorite of the three has been the Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Reserve Merlot 2013. This wine is precisely what I wanted when I walked into the wine shop. It was cold with mixed snow a day rain and I had arrived by train a couple of days prior and had yet to have a proper glass of wine. I wanted something delicious and comfortable, rich, warm and thought provoking. These guys did it in style!

The notes I have for you are taken over a three day period. My nose in the glass gave an evolving spicy bramble berry jam with hints of cedar, toasted oak, dried strawberry and plumbing fruit rollup.

On the palatte, the wine was rich and lush. The full-bodied red was elegant, graceful and bold. The chewy, yet delicate texture was supple and grounded with notes of right h, this kind velvety mocha….no vanilla, just mature, unlike the California mellows of the same price point. The deep purple juice splashed with firm, dignified tannins which left my mouth feeling coated like a soft velour throw. The mid-palatte was filled with red and black fruit, plums, blackberries, prunes and dried strawberry. The total composition finished with light cedar.

This wine is perfectly flawless. It would be great with steak, grilled lamp chops, spices rubbed grilled pork, ribs, beef stew or just with popcorn and a movie.

Bowie and Me

It must have been the spirits connecting who persuaded me to stay up late last night and watch the Bowie documentary I recorded over Christmas so you can imagine my shock this morning to hear he had died around the same time.

I am not going to pretend I knew him well, I wasn’t a girlfriend but for a small moment we held hands, snuggled up and kissed. I met Bowie after the singer Danny Williams (Moonriver) was brought to our flat. I think Greg Edwards had already left Manchester but the guy who brought Williams didn’t know that. The three of us went into town. I think to the Explosion club where DJ Dave Eager brought Bowie and persuaded me to get them into the Time and Place. I was happy to do so because though Bowie was excited to meet Williams I didn’t like the crooner so off we went.

Eager lived quite close so I was happy to accept a lift with them but instead of Longsight we went straight to their hotel by the airport where Eager (yes you did) drove off and left me with Ronson and a snotty blonde. At the bar he told me about his music ambitions and while there he took a call that informed him they had a USA hit so he was over the moon. It was really late when I left and with not enough money for a cab I was given a handful of cash; over fifty pounds. I was living with the man who was to be the love of my life and knew that even as a night taxi driver Pete Gresty was already home with the sunrise. Not mentioning the kisses I told him I had been with this extrovert Gay guy I had after all been snuggling up to Ziggy still I was confused. Bowie was a toucher (not a groper) a caresser and his kisses were not gay!

Even though he had asked me to join him at his show at The Hardrock (Stretford), I was still in my teens and had no idea how I was going to get in, plus my music taste laid more in American Black music. That afternoon the same taxi driver arrived with my tickets and flowers. I hid the tickets and binned the flowers which was a good job because when I pointed Bowie out on Top of The Pops Pete went ballistic and that was that.

SuAndi Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK


Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

5 March 2015 10:57
An internationally acclaimed performance poet has been awarded an honorary degree for her outstanding contribution to British art.

SuAndi is a performance poet, whose works include poetry, prose and librettos. She has published numerous collections of poetry, including Style (1990), Nearly Forty (1994), and There Will Be No Tears (1996).

SuAndi was presented with the honorary degree by Alan Milburn on 4 March, which was one of his very first tasks as Chancellor, having been officially installed that day.

On receiving the honour, SuAndi said: “This honorary degree illustrates that Lancaster University values voices outside of academia and for me, as a self-taught poet and writer, it is my Oscar.”

Born of Nigerian and British heritage, she was a dancer and a model before becoming a performance poet in 1985. In more recent years she has also worked in Live Art, touring and lecturing nationally and internationally.

An active supporter of the arts, both locally and nationally, SuAndi has been voluntary Cultural Director of the National Black Arts Alliance since its formation in 1985. She was appointed OBE in 1999 for her services to the Black Arts.

Lancaster University has been awarding Honorary Degrees since it was founded in 1964. They are awarded to people with an outstanding international reputation in their field and those with a leading national reputation who have a strong link with the University or the local region. SuAndi has a strong association with Lancaster University, both through her work with Theatre Studies and the AHRC-funded ‘Moving Manchester’ research project, which explored how migration has informed Manchester’s literary scene since the 1960s.

Lancs Bio 1 | Lancs Bio 2Lancs Bio 3Lancs Bio 4

Milburn 20150157

Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

From Friends to Physical: Top 5 Reasons Men and Women Can’t be Friends

The idea that (heterosexual) men and women may be able to participate in strictly platonic relationships is one of the most debated notions amongst people across the globe. On the one hand, we’ve all had friends of the opposite sex that we have never been physical with.Other the other hand, however, we all have also had to turn down the sexual advances of a trusted buddy…or even moments where we forcibly quelled our own inappropriate attractions.

That being said, please consider: The Top 5 Reasons Men & Women Can’t be Friends

5. Sexual Attraction– Let’s begin by stating the obvious: if you have hot, ‘platonic’ friends, you’re in trouble. Not that you won’t be able to control yourself (nevertheless, you may not want to) but regularly being around someone who you find sexually attractive is one of the worst way to avoid having sex with said person. What’s more, your ‘friend’ may also find you attractive…which means they may also be having their own dreams and dirty thoughts about you. Even if you’re involved in a relationship, how long do you think it will take before an awkward silence turns into kissing…or more…?

4. Jealous Significant Others– That being said, if you are in a relationship and have close friends of the opposite sex, your thoughts might not be the ones most threatening to the situation. It’s not uncommon for significant others to become jealous of platonic relationship even when they truly have nothing to worried about. Watching someone spend you’re involved with give time and attention to some unrelated person of the opposite sex can be a lot for anyone to deal with. What’s more, most men and women have playfully flirtatious relationships which only add to this insecurity. It usually doesn’t take very long for the threats and ultimatums to start flying…

3.Break-ups and Rebounds– Speaking of which, be very careful after breakups! Being vulnerable or ‘on the rebound’ is a part of many people’s process when getting over a relationship. Add to this, a fairly to extremely attractive friend, as well as some sexual chemistry, and you’ve got a recipe for rebound sex. Ideally this may not ruin a friendship, but more often than not it will. Furthermore, it will change the way you view one another and you may find that going back to being ‘just’ friends after such an experience to be next to impossible.

2. People/ Things Change– To piggy back off of number 3, people/ things change! Just because you weren’t interested in dating someone when you first met them (and vice versa) doesn’t mean that things will stay that way. People grow up, go through things, then all of a sudden even you’re goofy buddy starts to look like a dashing prospect. This can sometimes be the best thing ever. However, other times it may just be a relationship of convenience ending once you reach the realization that you were never compatible.

1. Secret Crushes– The top platonic relationship killer typically comes along when the realization that one or both of you never intended for it to be platonic to begin with. As humans, we often settle for whatever role we can get in someone’s life if we deem them as special in some way. That is to say, someone may be in a committed relationship or have other limitations that prevent them from being available when you first meet them. Most people will attempt to remain in their lives under the guise of ‘friendship’ just waiting for the perfect time to strike. In fact, I’d venture to say that this is the case within most platonic relationships. Just think about it, when you become friends with anyone, you usually do so because something attracted you to them.  This is all well and good when you are of the same gender (assuming you’re straight) but where do you go from there when you’re just a pair of heterosexuals? (Indeed, many so-called ‘platonic’ relationships begin with either one-sided or mutual flirtation.) Lastly, it seems that men are the least likely to sniff this out as most have been conditioned to be the hunters and can’t fathom a woman going such great lengths to win them over. (In fact, this may be the preferred method for some as many prefer to get close to someone before making a move in order to lessen the likelihood of rejection and humiliation) Don’t be so naive, fellas! If a woman is hanging around a lot, don’t think she’s not a threat simply because you don’t find her attractive. It takes 2 to tango…but only 1 to initiate! Keep that in mind…

The Bottom Line…

This was not written in order to discourage men and women from being friends. On the contrary, these ideas are being presented to encourage people to closely examine their relationships and to be open and honest with the people in their lives. Nothing lasts forever and many friendships are seasonal. However, many still could be saved from years of pointless yearning and turmoil if they simply refuse to accept those dreaded words ‘Let’s just be friends’…

NedRa Bonds Podcast Interview

NedRa BondsOne can use many adjectives to describe the multiple dimensions of NedRa Bonds. Social Activist, Educator, Mixed- Fiber Artist, and Quilter are only a few. She is a woman who possesses the type of intellect that slices through bullshit. Her charisma and persistence can melt the strongest opponent. Categorizing Ms. Bonds is impossible because she defies all the neat, little boxes society likes to use to profile someone. She continues to make her voice her in support of “the people,” she educates anyone willing to listen about how art intersects with healing and self-identity. Moreover, Ms. Bonds’ unique quilting and dollmaking talents are like no other.

Enjoy listening to a podcast with NedRa Bonds. Additionally, you will find a video interview, and a written interview on fromacloud, The Official Site of NedRa Bonds.

Click here to listen to Podcast.

Massacre • Charleston S. Carolina June 17, 2015

The they that kill us
threaten our lives from dawn to dusk
plot our extermination
In public arenas
of council office
self identified churches
that are without the true God
they who claim what we have achieved
they permitted
and the rest we took
through stealth crime
by any means necessary
because that is in our genetic makeup
thieves from the cradle to the grave
sexual deviants from puberty until incarceration
and they hope no appeal death row
first they cloaked themselves in missionary cloth
then in the wealth trappings of slavery
and when freedom brought emancipation
they donned pointed hoods and white sheets to conceal their uniforms and shields
Who are they
Theses senators, mayors, sheriffs. Officers of the law. Ordinary citizens. Priests vicars, red necked bigots of ordinary guys
whose mantra kill kill kill
divides this nation
because the fear sits close to our consciousness
as our kids climb into the yellow bus
we travel the subway
Check into work
lunch out
watch a movie
go about our business
minding our business
Bow our heads in prayer
That as we reach out to our neighbour
He isn’t taking aim

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

The New Lows of the Anti-Gay Bill in Indiana

As the national debate over same-sex marriage heats up, many states are drawing lines in the sand on this issue. Most recently, in a bold move by the state of Indiana, they have revived a year old bill (originally introduced by states such as Kansas and Virginia) that proposed giving businesses the right to refuse services to homosexuals.

The Teeth of it…

A bigger, bolder step towards bigotry, this bill would allow businesses of virtually all kinds to refuse services to homosexuals based solely on the notion of “religious freedom.” This is a step above previously proposed bills of this kind as the vast majority of past bills have asserted that this amendment would only apply to services in relation to the marriage ceremony. This new bill proposes that anyone be allowed to refuse services to homosexuals based on personal moral conviction. Furthermore, this would apply in both the public and private sectors.

On the Cutting Edge of Oppression

This begs the question, if bills like this are seriously being proposed and considered, where will it end?! Though it’s being said that “gay is the new black” I disagree with that statement for a few reasons. Particularly, black is a skin color that can’t usually be hidden. That being said, how does one gauge the “gay”?? Effeminate men are no more correlated with homosexuality than masculine women. Furthermore, with bromances and kissing bff’s everywhere you look who’s to say who is or isn’t homosexual?! A bill like this will leave the door open for virtually anyone to get turned away for any reason. A slippery slope.

The Bottom Line…

Homosexuality is not a new convention and is certainly here to stay. Whether or not one agrees with the lifestyle, we should all learn to be decent enough humans to simply live and let live…

Venus L

Untitled Prose

How many of us
Have stopped to stare
As we wash dishes
Brew a far too expensive coffee
While yearning
For cool white wine.

And the young ones
Looking for something to fill
Their emptiness of nothing.
And off course those with green fingers

Especially those with green fingers
They linger longer
Confusing memory with what is now
Impossible to see.

Yet they continue
Looking hard in concentration
Through glass turned opaque
By the light reflection of the room

Sometimes what is invisible to the eye
Our ears hear.
And for a short breech of time
Our hearts flutter
For what might be out there
Is magnified by fear
Causing blood to pump out of rhythm

When clouds stop blocking the sun
To make space for the moon
What do flowers do.

Do they bow their heads in slumber
Do stems and stalk flex so they can lean on another
As they wait.

For The slow slimy trail of those invaders
That we think we can hear
That crawls up stems
Gnashing holes in leaves so they wilt and die
As a momentary starter to their late night supper
Which they chew
One petal at a time

By sunrise they are gone
Invisible again
Save the silver trail of their passing
Like a tip reflecting
In the sparkling morning dew
Of the tears the flowers shed
Over the agony of their evening

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

Bam Bam

It’s a hell of a thing
When a gun come home to live with you.
Things change,
House change,
You change.

If you were the master, the man
Now you not even the bend down,
Yes sah, servant of the house.
You is the below stair
Threaten live outside
Back door porch
No good nothing
For the gun in big biggest armchair
Tapping impatience.

Gun is restless, got no easiness waiting
Waiting for chat
Gun no watch TV
Got no hunger for pizza,
Special seasoned chicken,
Tub full of vanilla ice cream
With chocolate running down
So you must lick before spooning.

Gun full already.
Belly full of cold bullets
Gun need to let one go.
Not just fart,
But one big brown one
That smell like nothing
No one who never been to war smell before.

Gun got power
Make your palm itchy when empty.
When you doing anything
Make you leave and sit and wonder
Should you take gun out to play
But gun no player

Gun got no hobby.
Gun is professional,
Born into the business
Career change never.

Gun need a target
An aim
Gun is always thirsty for trade

Clever gun make words
Speak loud in your head
Whatever you doing.
Sleeping, watch TV,
Staring out to nowhere.
Don’t reach for nothing to calm you.
Weed no strong enough
H and Crack will paranoid your paranoia
So that when gun say now
You be up and going
Maybe somewhere,
Possibly nowhere
So long as you and gun be on a journey.
And the silence
The silence is so loud
You squeeze your eyes to slits
Trying not to hear
Until Bam Bam
You dead
And who die with you
Only the gun knows

A Brief History of Seven Killings. James, Marlon ISBN-10: 1780746350. (Page 73 Bam Bam )

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK


My father first walked the earth in Warri
His feet sinking into the hot mud of Nigeria’s Delta State
Then one day, as other men launched fishing boats
He sailed far away.
Why, I don’t know,
He never told me,
I never asked.
Africa and Manchester did not offer life parallels
So we never had that conversation

My father never talked of the past
I never asked
What did you do in the war dad?
What was your home like?
Do I look like your people?
Can you see your mother in my eyes?
The way I walk, argue
I’m built a female version of you
Am I the same height as your father?
Words never spoken
Only got silent responses.

My father never said
When the white man came:
But I know he knew.
Summers we would visit his old master
Exchanging our terrace house
For a large white detached in Richmond Surrey
Where my father cleaned;
A servitude repayment for our visit.
While I was forbidden to
Touch, speak, play,
Do anything without first asking permission.
Strange white people I thought.
‘Snobby bastards,’ said my mother when I returned home
‘Where do they think this is?
It’s not bloody Africa.’
Her temper causing her cheeks to flame red
Matching the copper of her hair
‘Andi,’ she’d say
‘Slavery is over;
Get over it.’
What did she mean?
But I never asked
And she never explained.

Schools for my father
Were glorious European opportunities
So he spared nothing to buy
My uniform, my shoes
A too large briefcase.
Copies of the same books that teachers
Distributed daily in class.
Strange, that I had to leave the classroom
To begin my education;
Tutored via overheard conversations
Documentaries, radical articles
And orators from Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X.
Even though neither had a penchant for white people.
But no matter how I broadened my knowledge,
I still loved my mother
Nothing was going to change that.
Now my mouth was full
Of words my brain had memorised
Colonialism, lynchings, detention
Apartheid, segregation
Civil Rights, Black Power
And always

What did my father know?
That the Yoruba’s were favoured for their strength
But whipped long to curb their independence
That the Ibos though stolen in their thousands
Also found an inner power to walk-on water
And the ijaw from Warri
Who speaks of them?
Not, certainly my father.
Except sometimes,
When the silence was so loud my ears would ache
I would turn to him
And he looking far into the distance
Seemed oblivious to the tears
Washing his cheeks
Flowing under his chin
Then water falling towards his heart.

In that moment my father
Was no longer the man I knew
The man I didn’t know.
He was in that moment,
A body filed with the spirits of all his ancestors.
My family from my grandfather
To generations who never imagined life beyond the Forçados River
Conquered, shackled, bartered
Sold, abused, demonised, throttled, burnt, flogged
Criminalised, imprisoned,
Executed by the law under the law.

The trauma of the new
The wicked the evil
Filled my father
So that he could not speak
And I never asked why.
Before he died
Was he called Thomas

Under my right eye
I have an indentation
It is in the exact same place
As my father’s peoples’ ritual scarring
Some days when I look at it
It seems more prominent
Like it really is a scar
But I can barely make it out
Through my tears

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

The C-word Controversy

I am not mean by nature. I am not in the habit of picking on people for the helluva it. I do have a problem with people that are bent on ruining a show; especially, if I’m hosting. Doesn’t matter how much money you have or are spending. If you need to be called out, I’m dialing your number. This was the case Friday night (July 10) at the Comic Strip.

A couple came to the second show one act deep into the show. I was on stage as the guy deliberately rearranged seats, choosing to sit as close to the stage as possible. After introducing the next act I returned to the stage finding his date had joined him. She had removed her shoes and propped her naked feet in the guys lap. My first thought was all I had to do is point out that her behavior was inappropriate and move on.

“You might want to put your shoes back on because if you look around, you won’t see anything that looks like your living room because you’re not at home.” Nothing.

They both sat there defiantly as if my request was totally out of the box and they had no intention of complying.

“Seriously, you’re going to sit like that for the rest of the show?”

A couple in the back couldn’t see the offenders and asked what they were doing. I told them she is sitting there wiggling her ugly toes.

“Aw, you’re just jealous I’m not wiggling my toes in your lap.” I assured her that was not the case and continued the show.

If the Strip had someone in place to monitor the room they would’ve known there was a problem, quietly went over to the table and asked the woman to put her shoes on as we were in a nightclub. Not at the beach. No shoes, no shirt, no service. The show would’ve gone on without a hitch.

But that was not going to happen. After the next act it was time for the raffle. The woman still had her shoes off with her feet propped up, and I told her if I picked her name out of the fishbowl I wouldn’t give her the free tickets to a future show. And wouldn’t you know it, I did. Against 70 to 1 odds, she was the winner. I expressed disbelief and she was more than happy to jump on the stage, ID in hand to prove she was the winner. I told her it didn’t matter she was not about to be rewarded for being a cunt. Here we go!

In the next few seconds, I called her a cunt a couple of more times and that’s when her date climbed onto the stage to confront me. He got pretty close to my face before Jay Oakerson came up to step between us. The couple decided without the backing of the rest of the audience who clearly were on my side, it was time to go.

Out in the bar area they were telling anyone who would listen that I had verbally abused them and wanted satisfaction. They finally paid their bill and left the club. The next day, I got a text from the booker saying he had to pull me from the two shows I had been booked for that night. After a few back-and-forths of me explaining my position and the booker steadfastly backing the rude customer I was done.

In the days since the incident I have gotten support from fellow comics and even a customer that was in the audience that night. Jay Oakerson, the only person to come to my defense vowed to never work the Strip again, and posted on Twitter an exchange he had with the owner of the Strip. The owner blamed Jay, me, and other “asshole” comics for the demise of the Comic Strip.

The truth is the Strip has been on a steady decline for years. Long time employees of the club have left and the replacements have been subpar. One comic posted #boycottcomicstriplive. Done.

William Stephenson

The Change Over

I don’t know the exact moment of the change-over. Not even the year. I just know I was never happy about it.

Growing up in Detroit in the sixties I lived within walking distance of two major Detroit landmarks. The Hitsville Building (Motown) and the General Motors Building. A group of neighborhood kids would make the trek in September to check out the new models a few days before the nationwide rollout. As long as we didn’t have ice cream or candy on us, we were allowed to sit in the cars and pretend to steer.

The cars not equipped with power steering were more fun because you could turn wider. The first thing I always checked out were the tail lights. I wondered if they would be like the ones I imagined in my head. Then, I’d dash to the front to see the headlights’ expression. It was usually some form of a smile, nothing like the aggressive look of today’s cars. I was intrigued by the Impala. I loved to see what they did with the Bel Air and Biscayne, stripped down versions of the great Impala. No power nothing and they were just butt ugly. For me it was the black wall tires that turned me off. What a difference a white stripe made.

The first time I noticed the black wall tire as standard equipment was during a week long gig at the Borgata in Atlantic City with Vic Henley. I hit a $2,500.00 payout and decided to rent a Caddy and drive back to NYC on a night off. Well, Vic rented it and I gave him the money. We had the new Outcast double CD with Hey Ya on it so we were in groovus maximus to and fro. But when I saw the pretty Caddy in the light of the next day with black wall tires, I felt…like when you wake up next to a woman who looked much finer the night before.

William Stephenson

BB King

BB King has quite rightly received numerous obituaries detailing his life as a great musician and a kind man. Here is mine. I first met him as queued for his autograph in 1985 he was touring and also playing for Live Aid. As I waited I noted how he gave everyone time and was interested in all they said. He asked me where my friend and I were going. “To the Grapes I said, “Why don’t you join us” I added mischievously. I never expected him to turn up so I was totally blown away when the DJ asked the girl who was at the BB King concert to take a call. BB rang to say they had an early departure for Live Aid and could not come along. He asked for my address. That Christmas and for every year afterwards he sent me a card and small BB King token. Much I expect like most of his fans. I became a regular at his concerts. Often gathering afterwards with him and one or two of his band for a drink. He was kind, and generous. On one return performance at the Apollo his tour manager said there were fans waiting outside in the rain. BB Asked “Do you think they would mind coming in and waiting while I just sort some stuff out”.

I am not claiming that he and I were great friends. But he always remembered my name, signed his cards personally with the note “Keep on living poetically.” And always his music made me cry tears of sadness and laughter.

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you.

“Sticks and Stones” is a popular saying told to kids when they come home from school crying because they were teased. The truth, being called a name hurts the psyche. Just as the insightful words of a great thinker can be inspiring, the harsh words of a hater can be devastating. If the name you are called has hurtful words expertly strung together, the damage can be more bothersome than physical pain. It depends on one’s level of sensitivity. Even a thick skin can be penetrated with a powerful insult.

Playing “the dozens” back in high school, the object was to trade insults with someone until somebody gave up. Including a person’s mother in the fray could be grounds for a beat down. “Your mother” has probably started more fights than any other two words. When someone is insulted, he or she usually shows what we called the “do’ face.” It’s the look you have when you unexpectedly run into a door. Surprise combined with pain. The imagination put into an insult is key. If someone called you fat, you gave a clever response with a twist to get the crowd standing by to go “oooooh!”

“That’s because whenever I finish fucking your mom, she makes me a sandwich.”

It took quite a bit not to “do’ up” and act like the comment didn’t bother you in the least. With the immense popularity of the Internet, anybody can say anything about anybody with relative anonymity. I think the answer to cyber bullying is close to the same old school advice, simply walk away. In cyberspace, walking away amounts to blocking the abuser, or better yet, turning off the computer.

They say one should develop a thick skin to be an adult in this world. They also say people insulting others are on the offensive because of their own inferiority complex.

I believe them.

William Stephenson

One Night On The #1 Train

Riding the #1 train home late at night is usually fine. Some drunks, but for the most part they pass out without puking or causing trouble. Friday night, I was halfway home when my car was inundated by a group of about 10 twenty‑something black guys. Lucky I saw them when they piled in. I could’ve been in a deep nod or blasting a jam all up in my earholes. If I looked up and saw them suddenly, I would’ve jumped for sure. Probably bump into one of them and that would have been it.

One of them notices a guy sitting across from me. I got the feeling that one of the group had trouble believing he actually ran into him. I didn’t know if this was going to go south so I turned off my Ipod to listen to the exchange. Suddenly the group surges towards the guy. Now I can’t even see the dude they’re talking to because this one brother was big and wide, and damn near stepping on my toes.

Between the “youknowwhatI’msayins” and the “myniggas” I gathered there was beef between one of the group and a dude the passenger knew. It was a tense few minutes and ordinarily I would move to another seat at the other end of the car. The big guy was looming over me and I had no where to go. I had the feeling, “Excuse me, I need not to be collateral damage” wasn’t going to fly.

One of the guys in the back of the pack was all for beating the guy up just because it was Friday. Another said no, wait until 137th or 145th St. We were around 110th at this point, and I hoped hard this situation would not boil over. The passenger eventually convinced the gang that his involvement with the person of interest was minimal but would probably kick his ass, too.

William Stephenson

Me First

I find it ridiculous the number of people that have entitlement as a middle name. The feeling of importance is prevalent in today’s intsatwitter society. It has nothing to do with gender or race, rather it seems an American thing.

Somebody told you that you were the center of the universe and your poop is lemon scented. This is the attitude I see where ever I look. The 1 train at 59th street was well populated when I got on. I spent the weekend house/dog sitting and had a small piece of luggage. There was a couple of seats open, but between large people. I would have to sit on the edge and not be able to sit back and relax. I didn’t mind standing because I sat around watching NBA games and Tuna Wars all day.

Halfway down the car was a seat holding a lady’s purse. The lady next to her was busy with her face in her phone and couldn’t feel the people standing all around her. I very much wanted a true New Yorker to make her move it, but the car was full of tourists. It never occurred to this selfish harlot to simply place the purse in her lap so somebody could sit. Or worse, she used the purse on purpose to discourage anybody from sitting next to her. I gave thought to yell, “Excuse me, can you move your purse so somebody who paid just as much as you did to ride―unless you bought your purse a metro card―can sit down?” Instead, I set my eyes on stank in case she looked at me.

She’s lucky she didn’t because when you are on the business end of my particular stank eye you will know you did something wrong and feel bad about it.

William Stephenson




Last night, I introduced an act halfway through the show and just when I started to give his credits, I forgot the name of the show he was on. I’ve introduced this guy a million times with the same credit and this was the first time I blanked on the name. I froze. After a few seconds of awkward silence I had to ask the guy the name of the show, which he told me from offstage.

After his set, I went back up and told the audience that I had some zimers. I didn’t have Alzheimer’s, just some, which prevented me from remembering the name of the show. I wrote that joke a few weeks ago, but it came to life on this night. The response from the audience was mixed. I could tell some people were not comfortable with the “making fun of the handicapped” aspect of the joke.

Some people didn’t quite get it at first, then laughed, and others made groaning noises. I’ll take it. A woman very close to me my whole life died recently after suffering from the disease in her later years. She had been a second mother to me since I was 3. She always enjoyed my Detroit visits after I moved away in 1979. She’d greet me with a warm bear hug that went on and on, until we couldn’t squeeze each other any harder.

The last time I saw her, she didn’t know me. Not at all, didn’t know me from a can of paint. She embraced me but only because her daughter told her hugging me was something she used to do. Our last hug bore no resemblance to what we used to share. The feeling was so odd. She didn’t know her only daughter either, but trusted her as a caregiver. I will continue to do my Alzheimer’s joke, it’s one I’ll never forget.

William Stephenson

Won’t You Help

The public service announcements looking for dollars to help third world kids are really going in…hard.

One I’m seeing a lot of these days show a little boy scooping up multi-colored water into a bucket with many things floating in it. He’s learned how to dip from the section with the least chunks. The narrator intones soberly with shame, “If you saw your kids playing around this kind of filthy dirty water, you’d tell them to get the hell out of there. But poor Alphonso has no choice. He has to bring this water back to his family because it’s the only water available.” Now comes the great pitch; for only 9 cents a month Alphonso can have clean water. Every time I see this on TV I wonder how deep is that Poland Spring? We seem to be pulling a helluva lot of water from that one spot alone.

Another PSA tugs even harder on the heart strings. It’s the one for abused animals that shows dogs, cats and horses looking horrible and then imagine what they would say if they could talk.

“Why won’t they feed me?” asks an emaciated horse. The poor old chimp in this spot seems to be saying, “I’m just waiting for you to turn off the video camera so I can eat your face.” They show us a montage of terrified animals, looking as pitiful as possible. At the end of these spots, we are offered a shirt, jacket, blanket, coffee mug or some other trinket to let everyone know we care.

How about skipping the gifts and use the money to fix up these abused animals? Now we return to our regularly scheduled program. We watch as a judge on a cooking competition show examines a forkful of salmon, then proclaims it’s perfectly cooked. I’m thinking Alphonso is not quite so persnickety.

William Stephenson

Is Myers Briggs just more Mumbo Jumbo?

For those who are unfamiliar, the Myers & Briggs personality test is a psychologically based quiz. Mother/daughter duo, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, extrapolated typology findings from the late Carl Jung’s research to help humans categorize themselves by personality type.

The Gist of it…

Carl Jung theorized that there are four principal psychological functions by which most experience the world around them: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. One of the four functions is also believed to be dominant most of the time.That being said, people take the quiz and are given a 4 letter combination that offers an intricate explanation of their personality, as well as those around them. There are 16 types (some much more common than others) and these types are to be considered tools by which to bring about patience and overall understanding.

Is It Real?!

Who’s to say? Personally, after finding out that my own personality type was INFJ (the same as people such as Carl Jung and even reportedly, Hitler) many things about the world began to make more sense to me. That is to say, introverts are amongst the most misunderstood people on the planet simply because we have the tendency to think things rather than say them aloud. Furthermore, these types are based on more tangible things, unlike astrology (though I take interest in both) which is based solely on your date and time of birth. It seems that this quiz and line of questioning truly does get to the bottom of what makes us tick. The quiz explains personality types so that we can easily understand ourselves, as well as why and how we relate to others.

The Bottom line…

Don’t knock it until you try it (but keep in mind that nothing is 100% in this world and some will fall on the cusp of a couple and thusly may receive conflicting results. Personally, I get INFJ or INFP depending on which test I take). In fact, try it in couples and/or groups in order to gauge overall accuracy! You may find that you totally disagree with the findings. On the other hand, you may also find out that this is a missing link that will help bridge the gap between you and others who may happen to see and do things differently than you do. Either way, you won’t know until you take the test. Do it now!

Venus L

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