Archive for the ‘2000’ Category

Love & Basketball (2000) is a Hollywood film, a love story starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. It was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (I will do a post on her). Lathan and Epps grow up next door to each other in the 1980s in Crenshaw, a black part of Los Angeles. They both love basketball – and, even when they do not want to admit it, each other. Basketball brings them together – and tears them apart.

This was the film that made Sanaa Lathan’s name and got Boris Kodjoe noticed (he takes her to the spring dance). Tyra Banks got a bit part but was already world-famous as a supermodel.

Gabrielle Union is in it too, then also pretty much unknown. She tried out for the lead but lost out to Lathan. Instead she got a part as one of Epps’s girlfriends. Union was to make her name that same year by starring in “Bring it On”, a cheerleader film.

Supporting characters: Debbi Morgan and Dennis Haysbert play Epps’s parents, Alfre Woodard plays Lathan’s mother.  In addition to the love story and the basetketball, the film shows Lathan’s relationship with her mother and Epps’s with his father. Debbi Morgan was great as a woman past her prime in a failing marriage.

The best scene except for the end was at the the spring dance: Lathan is dancing with Kodjoe and Epps is dancing with Union and they are playing Zapp and Roger’s “I Want to Be Your Man” (1987). Not only do I love that song but Lathan looked absolutely beautiful in that scene.

It is one of those movies I kept hearing about but never saw – till the other day. At the time it came out I had no reason to see it: I did not know Lathan then and my wife is no fan of Epps (too short?). I like Alfre Woodard but she is no big Hollywood star so I never know if she is in something until I am already watching it: “Hey, look, Alfre Woodard!”

It was a sweet story – though, truth be told, I would have probably watched it if it was just two hours of Sanaa Lathan breathing or waiting for a bus. If Halle Berry is bread, Sanaa Lathan is cake. With icing.

Lathan had played basketball only twice in her life before she got the part. They had to shoot the basketball scenes so you could not tell – partly by shooting the action from her point of view.

All the basketball players wear Nike shoes: because Nike had enough shoes from the 1980s for a period film. Prince-Bythewood, the director, tried to stay as in period as possible – though right in the opening scene set in 1981 she plays a song from 1983 (“Candy Girl” by New Edition). In the director’s commentary I found out that she knew that – she was just about the same age as the main characters in 1981 – but thought the song was too good to pass up.

– Abagond, 2010.

Family portrait from the film. Click to enlarge. From top to bottom: Harry Lennix, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Alfre Woodard.

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Recommended by commenter Soul: “Listen, when Mos Def writes lyrics like this, how can anyone tell me it’s crap?” (More).


[Jill Scott]
Love rain down on me, on me, down on me
Love rain down on me, on me, down on me
Love rain down on me, on me, down on me
Love rain down on me, on me, down on me

Met him on a Thursday, sunny afternoon
Cumulus clouds, 84 degrees
He was brown, deep
Said he wanted to talk about my mission
Listen to my past lives (Word?)
Took me on long walks to places where butterflies rest easy
Talked about Moses and Mumia
Reparations, blue colors, memories of shell-topped Adidas
He was fresh, like summer peaches
Sweet on my mind like block parties and penny candy
Us was nice and warm, no jacket, no umbrella, just warm
At night we would watch the stars
And he would physically give me each and every one
I felt like cayenne pepper, red, hot, spicy
I felt Dizzy and Sonya and heaven and Miles between my thighs
Better than love, we made delicious
He me had, had me he
He made me tongue-tied
I could hear his rhythm in my thoughts
I was his sharp, his horn section
His boom and his bip
And he was my love

Love rain down on me, on me, down on me

The rain was falling and, and slowly and sweetly and stinging my eyes
And I could not see that he became my voodoo priest
And I was his faithful concubine
Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens
The mistake was made
Love slipped from my lips
Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap
And us became new
Now me non-clairvoyant and in love
Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible
The rain was falling
And I couldn’t see the season changing
And the vibe slipping off it’s axis
Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato
The rain was falling and I could not see
That I was to be plowed and sowed and fertilized
And left to drown in his sunny afternoon
Cumulus clouds, 84 degrees, melody

Love rain down on me, on me, down on me
Love rain down on me, on me, down on me

[Mos Def]
I stretched my arms towards the sky like blades of tall grass
The sun beat in between my shoulders like carnival drums
I sat still in hopes that it would help my wings grow
So then I would really be fly
And then she arrived
Like day break inside a railway tunnel
Like the new moon, like a diamond in the mines
Like high noon to a drunkard, sudden
She made my heart beat in a now-now time signature
Her skinny canvas for ultraviolet brushstrokes
She was the sun’s painting
She was a deep cognac color
Her eyes sparkled like lights along the new city
She lips pursed as if her breath was too sweet
And full for her mouth to hold
I said, “You are the beautiful, distress of mathematics.”
I said, “For you, I would peel open the clouds like new fruit.”
And give you lightning and thunder as dowry
I would make the sky shed all of its stars like rain
And I would clasp the constellations across your waist
And I would make the heavens your cape
And they would be please to cover you
They would be pleased to cover you
May I please cover you, please.

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Race map of New York

How it was in 2000. Yellow is for whites, green for blacks, red for Hispanics, blue for Asians and white for the mixed parts of town:

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Neferteri Shepherd (1980- ), also known as Neferteri Horn, is an American video vixen, best known as Miss July 2000 in Playboy magazine. She is the best black model to appear in Playboy that I know of.

Here is what we know about her from Playboy (which has not gone metric yet – I added the metric units and the Oxford spellings):

BIRTHPLACE: New Orleans, Louisiana
BUST: 36″ C (91 cm)
WAIST: 23″ (58 cm)
HIPS: 35″ (89 cm)
HEIGHT: 5′ 9″ (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 118 lbs (53 kg)

To become a successful real estate investor and pursue my acting and modelling career.

Genuinely kind, loyal and honest people who know what they want out of life.

Complaining, unappreciative people who are unhappy with their lives and want you to be unhappy too.

The resources to stop violence, especially among America’s youth.

Never let others hold you back from what you want out of life.

Bubble baths, reading and taking naps.

Her measurements give her a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of 0.66 – between Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian. That is low for a white men’s magazine, but not for a black one. The white website AskMen.com puts it this way:

Here we go: booty, booty, curves, hips, and booty. Booty. Exquisite and natural breasts. And booty. … the waist to hip to behind ratio that has us in a state of awe.

She does have a great body, but there are plenty of black models who have more amazing bodies – but they rarely cross over into white magazines.

But the best part of her beauty is not her body but her eyes!

I have never met her, but I knew someone who did. He said she was sweet and just like a living Barbie doll.

She has modelled not just for Playboy but also the Hawaiian Tropic, Venus Swimwear, Baby Phat and Shirley of Hollywood. She has appeared in Stuff, Maxim and Black Men magazines.

She has done some acting, but mainly in bit parts. She played a receptionist once on the television show “The Parkers”. That sort of thing. That is pretty common for models. Her biggest part was probably in the 2003 Trina film, “A Miami Tail” (A remake of Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata” set in Liberty City).

Lately she has been a television host on UPN’s “Big City” and Starz’s “The B Side”. She has also been in an Arby’s ad.

She has been in the music videos of 50 Cent and Usher.

She was born in New Orleans, lived in Boston but grew up mainly in Oakland. A day after she turned 18 she tried out for Playboy in San Francisco. Later she went to Los Angeles to pursue acting, where she lives now.

According to Google Insights she seems to have something of an overseas following in Poland and Italy.

She says:

I have majestic dreams of going on safaris in Africa. I would love to go there to learn my heritage and discover the roots of my unique name.

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Gary Graham

Gary Graham (1963-2000), also known as Shaka Sankofa, was a small-time armed robber from Houston, Texas who was put to death in 2000 for the murder of Bobby Lambert. It made the news across America and overseas because the governor of Texas at the time was George Bush, who was then running for president.

It was widely condemned overseas because Graham was 17 at the time of the murder. Only four other countries apply capital punishment to children: Iran, Pakistan, Congo and Nigeria.

The case against Graham was strikingly weak: His gun did not match the bullet that killed Lambert. Only one of the five witnesses placed him at the scene of the crime. Two were sure it was not him. Bobby Lambert did have enemies, but Graham was not one of them.

In 1981 Bobby Lambert gave testimony in court against some drug dealers. One night soon after in front of a Safeway food store in Houston he was shot dead. He was not robbed. Five people saw it.

Ten days later Graham was arrested. A 17-year-old boy with a gun, he was robbing and raping the good people of Houston. He found himself put in police line-ups just when the police were looking for Lambert’s killer.

Only one of the five witnesses picked him out of the line-up and even she failed to pick out his picture earlier.

Having no one else, the police pinned the murder on Graham.

He had no money for a lawyer so the court appointed him one, Ronald Mock. Court appointed lawyers are underpaid and overworked. They try to get you to admit guilt so they can get through their cases quickly.

Graham said he had robbed some people but he never killed anyone, so it went to trial. Mock did little work on the case. He did not know about the other four witnesses. He did not know about the gun not matching the bullet. So neither did the judge and jury.

The judge sentenced Graham to die.

For the next 19 years Graham fought it. No judge wanted to reopen the case. No judge wanted to hear from the other four witnesses. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, refused to hear it. The case was reviewed by 33 judges in all. Graham had run out of appeals.

The New York Times was against it and so was the United Nations and Amnesty International. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton came to support Graham. So did Amnesty International in the person of Bianca Jagger. The Ku Klux Klan came too, but probably not in support of Graham, who was black. (Lambert was a white man.)

It took five guards to take him away to be killed. Just before he died he gave an angry speech. He said he was being lynched, that this sort of thing will go on for another hundred years if black people do nothing. Bianca Jagger cried. Then he died.

Bush said justice had been done.

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