Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nikki Giovanni - Living Legend

"Teach yourself something and find a way to trust what it is that you know."
-Nikki Giovanni on compensating for poor education and upbringing.

On a cold night in Memphis I was warm. I adore Nikki Giovanni, but that's no surprise I adore all creative folk (who don't know that?!?). I remember reading Ego Trippin' and loving how memorable, illustrative and unconventional she wrote...about God.

"I am so hip even my errors are correct."

I would have liked to recap her speech last night at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, but I am no reporter and more importantly you kind of just had to be there to feel that warmth. That unparalleled opportunity for growth. Speaking of, I wish I'd seen more of the self-proclaimed writers, poets and spoken word artists that I know in the room. Maybe I was just too immersed in Nikki and you all were there all along. I certainly hope so...

"I'm not gonna go and see something that hates me." Nikki on the movie Precious
"At midnight she was the sun...she brought that light." Nikki on Rosa Parks
"Shall we continue? The answer has to continue to be yes!" Nikki on perseverance

I am, are you?

R.I.P. Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen transcended conventional creative boundaries. He pushed limits, he defied gravity, he will be missed.

“The news that Alexander McQueen has killed himself is particularly devastating because it always felt to me like he’d be the last man standing. He was restless, but so pragmatic with it I assumed he had what it took to endure the extreme situations he placed himself in. He was also an arch romantic with a pessimistic streak. It produced some of the most beautiful, shocking images in the history of fashion, but it’s a state of mind that can lead to endless disappointments. The death of McQueen’s mother last week would have validated his pessimism. It would undoubtedly have taken away his most vital support. It’s awful to imagine him trying—and failing—to cope, and one can only hope that, if he was looking for peace, he found it. For everyone left behind, there will eventually be consolation, however scant right now, in a body of work whose power will never die.”
—Tim Blanks

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I wrote a poem amidst delirium...

Dear 2:30 a.m.

Have we met before?
You've kinda got this grin
like you've got something in-store...

It's late and
like seeing an old friend
in the aisles of payless
it's weird but
we both know what it is.

I must admit you look familiar
but I was on a mission to get somewhere last time
I had a goal in mind and an end in sight
so we never got acquainted

You came
I glanced like wow look at that!
Then I went on 'bout my way
You stayed around
grew in leaps and bounds
and I think every so often you'd change.

Ohhh now I remember
It was a cold night in winter
and I was busy counting sheep.
I saw you there in your bright red dress
giving me the beckoning eye.

But you see I'm committed!
So that's why I payed you no mind
I'll probably see you around dear
You're rather popular 'round here
People are always talking about "my look at the time"

In the meantime
new guy
I've gotta get back to counting my sheep
two-twenty-seven, two-twenty-eight, two-twenty-nine.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Strange Fruit InnerView with Photographer Michael D. Yates

Petey of Strange Fruit sat down with the lovely emerging photographer and long time friend Michael D. Yates to get the scoop on what he's up to now.

"6 Pack," self-portrait

Through my company, Strange Fruit, I invite people to experience creative and eclectic events that are conducive to them just being themselves. I call it Strange Fruit because we are all beautifully unique/strange and all bearing gifts/fruits from the creator. What would you say makes you ‘uniquely gifted’ or strange fruit?

Having the courage to design my own lifestyle and giving up on the packaged one.
A Memphis transplant pursuing your high-fashion photography dreams in Los Angeles, what have you learned from the change of scenery 2 years in?

When I left Memphis I knew that I wanted to live the lifestyle of a photographer, that I wanted to be surrounded by beauty and I wanted to have my hand in the creation of beautiful images. What I didn't know is that there was is an entire world that was dedicated to the industry. Many high profile fashion campaigns that are seen in magazines, advertising, etc... are produced the same way you would produce a movie, only on a smaller scale. At any given time there could be 15 or more people around the photographer just to get that one perfect shot.

Everybody wants to be a photographer, model or deejay. What makes you the real thing and not one of these lame kids with a new hobby?

Every since my mother pushed me out I wanted to capture light. I didn't know what that meant or how to make that happen until I discovered photography. I've always been a creative but in my early years I followed a life path that was not designed for me. Once we give up everything we are free to accomplish anything. I don't believe in part time, 50% or multi-tasking. If you are passionate about something you have to give it 100%, 100% of the time. If you don't give it 100%, you're just another person that's trying to multitask their dream.

What or who inspires you?

I get inspiration from people: the thing’s people do, the things people have done and the things people are going to do. One thing I do for inspiration is look at biography’s and documentaries about the people who have made impacts on society and overcome the obstacles. I also look at a lot of art and photography. Currently, two of my favorite fashion photographers are Steven Klein and Miles Aldridge. Getting stuck in L.A. traffic on interstate 10 can also be inspirational. It gives my mind time to wonder and develop ideas that stem form inspirational situations I’d previously forgotten.

You recently launched MY Red Queen Blogazine at What can we expect from the Blogazine?

An impact on society.

I’ve racked my brain, kinda thought I knew you pretty well, but I still can’t figure out the inspiration for the name, MY Red Queen, do tell?

That’s simple, MY stands for Michael Yates and The Red Queen theory is about evolution and human nature. I created the Blogazine to document my evolution as a photographer. This is part of what will not let my history be a mystery.

As one of your best friends, long time supporter and first model, I’ve got one more question…Who has your favorite model been thus far…..(there’s only one right answer)

There is one girl I know that can make film think it’s digital. She goes by the name of Shalishah "Petey" Franklin.

Michael is currently looking for more fashion forward and dedicated contributors to MY Red Queen. If that's you email Look for Strange Fruit's contributions to the very first "blogazine" and the future of fashion.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

OUR history month – because we are all forever changed.

Designer Stephen Burrows became the first black designer to achieve international acclaim and his own boutique in a major department store chain. Diddy thank him.

Strange Fruit: OUR history month - because we are all forever changed.

Wild Style, released in 1983, was the first hip hop motion picture and the entire world's first look at breakdancing.

OUR history month - because we are all forever changed.

Kurtis Blow's appearance in a Sprite commercial in 1986 marked the first hip hop musician to represent a major product.

I heART HAITI - A Day of Love

Friday, February 12th
5p - 9p
Caritas Village, 2509 Harvard Ave.
Memphis, Tenn.

I heART HAITI is an art exhibition, silent auction and benefit for the beautiful country of HAITI.

More than 20 artists from around the country will be exhibiting donated work including Margarette Louiseau (Haiti), Dail Chambers (St. Louis), frank d. robinson jr. (Memphis), Johnnie Mayberry (Jackson, Miss.), Carl E. Moore (Memphis), Krista Franklin (Chicago), John Bullock (Memphis), Shalishah Petey Franklin (Memphis), Edwin McSwine (Memphis), Marcellous Lovelace (Chicago), Siphne Sylve (New Orleans), Morris T. Howard (Memphis), Terry Lynn of TWIN (Memphis), Brandon Tolson (St. Louis), Darlene Newman (Memphis). Artwork from members of NIA Artist Collective and students at Memphis College of Art will also be on exhibit.

Presented by Strange Fruit Productions and NIA Artist Collective at the Caritas Village, we encourage you to come, hear live music, spoken word, and most importantly help our creative community rebuild another community.