When Love Escapes Us.

jail-breakI met somebody.

Normally this would be a great thing, except I was right out of a failed relationship. Not failed because of infidelity or indecency, but failed because of humanity. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe I didn’t try at all. But convincing myself that she wasn’t the one was easier than the self-reflection so I hit my nae nae as I walked out of the door. I didn’t even realize that I’d tripped over the door sweep until I opened my eyes and saw the one who would be next staring down at me as if Allah himself sent her.

Which again, would have been great except, I’d just hit my nae nae and most folks don’t even know what that is. Her included. But hey, woman’s job isn’t to know everything, it’s to show me that I could have been flying the entire time I was walking. And she did. There were no boxes to check off on my list. For a spell she had me buying into the Love Jones definition of romance and I didn’t even like Love Jones. In her I saw the possibilities.

Except I was just out the door.

Love Escapes Us Teaser from #LoveEscapesUs on Vimeo.

But with my confidence in tow and belief that God would neither give me something I couldn’t handle nor records that I couldn’t sample, I ventured into the journey of the unknown with this woman who for all intents and purposes made me smile again. One of those smiles you don’t even realize you’re doing. But once it’s pointed out you’re embarassed because who has a right to be so happy that they don’t even know it? So happy that you feel like you’re in a room without  a ceiling. So happy that basically it is just who you are. I wasn’t that before and yet here I was now.

Happy in a 24-hour video.

I’d found #her. #cool.

Or so I thought. #her quickly became #she and part of that was the walls I’d put up around my heart after my last breakup. To be fair, the devastation of that breakup was far greater than I’d given it credit for and I didn’t even know it until well after I needed to have figured that out. It’s hard to fall in love when you’re wearing a harness that keeps you standing up because falling can hurt like hell. She tried to trip me up though. She gave it her all. Threw her heart out at random intervals and dropped affection and support in my path. And I did the best that I could given my circumstances. Of course, not knowing I had circumstances severely limits how far we could make it.

Was she the one? Maybe. Even now I grapple with that question and enough time has gone by to call it official Black History. Because February. But the nagging is always there. What I do know (now) is that for me, it wasn’t the right time. I hadn’t taken the time to deal with what was and what could have been. I also never accepted the fact that my ability to move on came with strings. I wasn’t going to make the next woman pay for the infallibility of my previous relationship. But who knew that love also worked on credit? This woman, who by any measure adored me and I her stared me dead in my face with the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen and offered her soul to mine and the best I could muster was maybe 60 percent of my humanity and 20 percent of my vulnerability. And even there is some overlap. My soul? I thought she could have it but over time the arguments spurred by both of our inability to recognize where we were in life spurred a certain lack of desire to share with her what made me tick.

Love Escapes Us Teaser #2 from #LoveEscapesUs on Vimeo.

If Sway doesn’t even have the answers then I didn’t even have the questions. The situation fell apart fairly quickly. What God has joined may no man put asunder. I think both of us thought the little twist tie we’d use to keep ourselves together was a bit more deified than perhaps it was.

Wrong time? Probably.

I stared down my angel and asked her why her wings weren’t as pretty as I thought they should be. But they worked. And she flew. And I stood there asking myself why I was still walking instead of flying. But I’d also bought some new shoes and everybody knows you need to break new shoes in. So I let her fly solo. And I kept on walking. Those memories resonate and I still maintain them. The dream of it all mixed with the reality that set in. But it all blends perfectly, let the liquor tell it.

It is often in a brown-induced daze that I ponder the age old question of what matters more: right person or right time? If you meet your soulmate do you focus on that or do you do the work so that soulmate isn’t just something you say because it sounds good? Do you hope to catch them next lifetime when you can make it work? I don’t know. Ignorance is bliss I suppose so even in that line of questioning I hope it kind of works itself out. I mean who wants to think they squandered heaven because their watch broke?

After some time I dedicated myself to moving past the blocks that held me hostage. Ropes and chains just aren’t my thing. I wasn’t a slave, but I heard about it, it didn’t sound cool. Word to D.C. Curry. Maybe had I met her later in my journey we’d be able to walk it out together into some blissful future both of us dreamed about in unison. But we didn’t so we can’t. So we won’t. And I’m not gon’ cry. Plus Argentina is, like, far.

I’m no soothsayer and I leave the wisdom to the sages. But the question will always persist, be it my story or others: what’s more important?

Some people say if its the right person, then its the right time. Some people also say the end is the beginning. Some people are made of plastic, and some people are made of wood.

Right person or right time?

The questions.

(All of this was true.)

-VSB P aka MR. SPLACKAVELLI ak GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

“Love Escapes Us” is the compelling tale of the cycle of love and heartbreak as told through the experiences of two people who fall in love during the wrong season. King (Anthony B. Phillips) and Queen (Iman N. Milner) journey through an emotional path of one another’s love through this poignant story. Can the experience of falling for someone and dealing with unhealed wounds from past relationships simultaneously ever end well. Written by Anthony and Iman and directed by Craig Tovey. Visit the Facebook Page for the Movie: https://www.facebook.com/LoveEscapesUsfilm

Is Kevin Hart About To Become The New Will Smith?

This movie made HOW much???

This movie made HOW much???

That question on its face seems completely laughable. I should know. I laughed when I wrote it. However, with the success of Ride Along this weekend – breaking the record for January openings with a projected $47.8 million - it does make me wonder.

Kevin Hart has been EVERYWHERE lately. Whoever his manager is needs the raise of all raises. He’s in commercials. He’s in movies. Not just Paper Soldiers type movies anymore either; Kevin Hart is showing up in movies with Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone. Let that sink in for a minute. I realize that Grudge Match wasn’t exactly a movie anybody ran out to see, but still, he’s made the leap from sh*t like Death At A Funeral (a terrible ensemble cast movie starring the always never sometimes kinda bankable Chris Rock) to a pretty much movie stealing performance in the better than it gets credit for movie Think Like A Man to somehow making a paint-by-the-numbers cheesy cop comedy in Ride Along manage to do REAL numbers. So much so that I’m curious about what About Last Night will do. Or better stated, what dat About Last Night do?

I suppose this entire premise will be all for naught if About Last Night – a rom com coming out on Valentine’s Day so that Black people have a movie to go see that night – doesn’t do very well.

Let me just say this…I’m as surprised as anybody that I’m even posing this. I really am. If there’s any actor that I ever thought would be making a possible leap into big money Hollywood territory it would be Idris Elba (its coming if that James Bond thing ever comes thru). For the most part, Kevin Hart has never been my cup of tea when he’s going all Kevin Hart, which means a lot of yelling and extra-ness. But when he reigns it in and just sticks to be organically funny, he’s actually quite charming. In fact, Kevin Hart has definitely placed himself into the leading comic category. Hell, he’s pretty much on “the name you know” status.

While we’re here, let me toss something else into the WTF juicer. I think Drake may end up becoming one of the rappers who successfully manages an acting career…again. Granted, not a single one of anybody outside of Canada was watching DeGrassi Jr High when he was Wheelchair Jimmy, but he murdered SNL this past weekend. He’s got that same presence that Justin Timberlake has. And surprisingly (should he decide to give it a go) that Big Boi from Outkast has (Dre not so much despite wanting to be the acting half of the duo). Hell, even Peyton Manning has it. The camera loves these people. And it helps that Drake is well spoken…he speaks so well. It’s not racist because I’m Black. I mean, it’s still racist, but it’s not as racist. Because I’m Black.

I digress.

Drake actually seems like he could give the acting thing a run and do a good job. He doesn’t have dashing good looks or anything. I realize some women absolutely adore him and all but I mean, Drake looks like Drake. Do with that what you will. But Drake has acting ability and he’s got the right personality to pretty much do whatever he wants. I could totally see Drake taking on some legit role in some legit movie and winning some legit award for it. I can’t see Kevin Hart winning any awards unless they come from organizations that start with Black Something Or Other. Which is okay.

All of this remains to be seen. Clearly I’m jumping all kinds of guns. But I am genuinely surprised at the success of Ride Along. And it has to be squarely on Kevin Hart. Nobody is checking for Ice Cube no matter how many “thugged out” Coors Light commercials he does. Even if it is mostly Black people who showed up, the amount of money this movie pulled in will at least makes folks take notice.

Put it this way, The Best Man Holiday, a movie that nearly every single Black person in existence seemed to go see pulled in $30.4 million on the Thanksgiving holiday. Tyler Perry movies average somewhere between $21 and $24 million (to be fair, he’s had a few movies open up in the $30 and $40 million range). Somehow, this movie with Kevin Hart as the lead did crazy numbers so you KNOW it wasn’t just Black folks at the movies. Perhaps he has made the leap. The new Will Smith is a tall order. And probably not that accurate…yet. Plus he’s not tall enough to play a serious love interest role like Hitch to endear him to people of all races everywhere. But if Kevin Hart gets a role where he’s an AIDS patient and loses lots of weight and hands in the performance of a lifetime in Philly Buyer’s Club two years from now…well…

…is Kevin Hart possibly the new kid on the block from Philly to become America’s darling??

Le hmm.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. SAY HEFFA SAY WHAT? aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Don’t Cry Bro! People Are Watching!

He is definitely going to cry in the car.

He is definitely going to cry in the car.

As I do on occasion, I was having a very interesting conversation with a very interesting woman in my life. Now this particular friend is one who I’m able to confide in and she does the same to me. We tend to tell each other the good, the bad, the ugly; Big said get your money ain’t no tellin’ if they gon’ love me.

Well, this particular interesting woman with whom I’m was having a very interesting conversation, who also happens to be enlightened beyond Photoshop’s capabilities went on a date to see a very popular movie now with a man. In said movie are some scenes that may or may not draw some emotion out of the viewing public. In short, the man cried.

Or as we say in the Black community, man down. Pimp in distress.

Now my homegirl told me that while watching this movie she turned to her manfriend who she saw shedding thug tears and he hit her with the “don’t look at me” move. I’m a proponent of the “I’ve got allergy” sniffle and sweep. But you have to prepare that one in advance. You don’t just get allergies at the movie theater. None of this is here nor there.

My man shed thug tears at a movie that had a scene ‘pacifically intended to draw thug tears. She knew it. He knew it. And even despite this knowledge, she had the same reaction that Future had upon hearing Rich Homie Quan the first time.

She felt some type of way.

*rimshot*

(Seriously, that was dope right? It’s okay. You can tell me. I killed that pun.)

Now look, we’ve had these conversations before. If a man stubs his toe and actually starts boohooing, well yes, you have every right to feel like you have made the same type of decision Kanye made when he drew up the treatment for the “Bound 2″ video. A bad one. A very bad one. A man crying because he hurt his toe is just as bad as that video. It is the “Bound 2″ of b*tchassness. This is fair.

But…

…can I kick it?

Yes you can.

Can I kick it?

Yes you can.

Can I kick it?

Yes you can….

…well I’m gone. What ever is a person to do when something actually draws on real  human emotion but actually displaying said emotion will more than likely cause you to be viewed in a less than positive light. I’m not talking about Draking and driving or getting drunk and calling your ex at night and professing your love and all that jazz. That’s not a good look for any man. But full disclosure, I have definitely cried at Disney movies. The Lion King f*cked me all up. And it was supposed to. When Nemo’s mommy got ated all the way up at the beginning of Finding Nemo…I definitely may have cried for Argentina.

To date, I have shed tears because of two songs: Donny Hathaway’s version of “A Song For You” and Phyllis Hyman’s “Be Careful (How You Treat My Love)”. Both have drawn real emotions out of me. In fact, I can remember the first time I truly listened to the Phyllis Hyman song on the way to NYC and damn near having to pull over because it affected me so much.

I’m as manly a man as you’re going to find. There’s no one in town half as manly, I’m (nearly) perfect, a pure paragon. I mean you can ask any Tom, Dick, or Stanley, and they’ll tell you whose team they prefer to be on. So if I ever feel a need to shed a tear, I’m comfortable enough in myself to do so. I’ve heard people say that crying is a cleansing, and I don’t know about all that, nor do I know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around. What I do know is that if I’m watching a movie and something that is supposed to make people cry happens, and I cry, and you look at me like I’m crazy I may have to pinch you really hard.

I realize that crying is one of those divisive topics when it comes to manhood. Any man can cry over the loss of a loved one. Well, he can cry over his momma, grandmomma, children, and if he knows his father, maybe his father. Oh, and abrupt and sudden losses of friends are also okay. But almost any and everything else is out because a man who has emotions that can be easily drawn out is a man with an asterisk.

Right? Ladies? Right? Even guys look at men who may shed a tear a certain way. Granted, many of us have cried in front of our boys (if need be). I know I have. But I also really like good things and it hurts when people boo. You can’t just be crying outchea in front of any body either. You’ll either get punched in the chest (ironically this does not help you not shed a tear) or get berated (more irony as this makes you cry on the inside).

I guess my interpretation of the situation is this, we all hear about the situations when it may (or may not) be okay for a man to shed a tear or 27. We know those, but here’s my question, why exactly is it such a turn off for women to see a man cry EVEN at societally determined appropriate times? What is it?

We’ve got to admit there’s a certain irony in fighting gender roles but still holding tight to certain stereotypes of gender specific behavior…right?

Who you callin’ a b*tch ain’t just about women’s rights, ya know!

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka VITAMIN P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIÎIRL HE A 3

 

VSB Goes To The Movies: ’12 Years A Slave’

12-years-a-slave-poster-405x600One of the perks of this here “for the people” writing gig thing is that once you create a name for yourself, people come to you to help spread the word about any number of things. We get LOTS of pitches for stuff, good and bad. Well, for myself, the numerous movie screening invites and Q&A’s that go with them is gangbusters. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve gone to see in this fashion. Truly I don’t even view them as “screenings” at this point, it’s just going to the movies because it seems like everybody and their grandmother is at these things.

Such brings me to this past evening when I had the…pleasure isn’t the right word…but the fortune to attend the movie screening for 12 Years A Slave, the movie based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free Black man who found himself enslaved during a visit out of his home state of New York. You can imagine what the movie is about, so there’s very little need to discuss the plot. I mean…after Snakes On A Plane, 12 Years A Slave has to be one of the most appropos and telling movie titles ever. It is also the title of the book written by Solomon Northrup upon which the movie is based.

So let’s talk about feelings instead.

Quality art elicits some sort of feeling, good or bad. When you are provided with art that makes you feel no type of way, well that is a waste. Think, hotel art. 12 Years A Slave will elicit feelings. And a lot of them. Where Django Unchained looked at slavery but provided enough humor, both intentional unintentional, to not make you overly uncomfortable, 12 Years goes straight for the jugular. If you don’t leave the movie feeling something…well you are a robot.

Here’s the interesting part though…it ain’t no Rosewood. My first ever viewing of Rosewood happened when I was in high school and I can still remember how I felt watching that movie. The visceral disdain I had for white America at that moment was so real I had to move myself to the back of the house I was in for at least half an hour just to calm down.

Mind you, I was at the home of my caucasian mother and step-father at the time. Perhaps because I’ve seen so many movies about slavery at this point, and each one attempts to go where the previous one didn’t go visually, I’ve become somewhat desensitized to what I know is going to be seen on screen. It’s a movie about slavery…and this one specifically goes the hardship route. I mean this man was free and became a slave, erroneously…that’s just wrong, kicko. So the laughs are few and far between on purpose. But even being desensitized, it was still hard to watch a lot of the scenes just because…whips and chains, homey.

Going into it, I was expecting Rosewood in terms of my emotions, and I just didn’t get that. But I did have the same stress level watching it because of just how ridiculous the idea was to begin with. It was a stark reminder that as a Black person, your life was only as valuable as the decisions of the white people within reach – a lesson we’re still dealing with to this day. Rep. John Lewis is often quoted as saying that anybody who says that we haven’t seen progress need only walk in his shoes. And he’s right, we have come a long, long way. But its the basic principles that have remained the same. The methods are different, but many outcomes are the same.

Chiwetel Ejiofor did a great job as Solomon and he’s one of really only three individuals with any sort of real character development in the entire movie. There are some scenes and some quotes that will absolutely hurt to see and hear, and to some degree, I almost think that was the point.

Did you see The Passion Of The Christ? I have seen it once. Never had a desire to see it again. I feel similarly about 12 Years. And similar to The Passion, I’m not sure its a good movie. It almost wasn’t intended to be. Django was a love story. Rosewood was a story about survival. Roots was a docu-drama where the words, “The African” got thrown around more than a Saturday on Canal Street in NYC. 12 Years was a story about loneliness and perseverance, though not in the way you would expect. While I’m sure the movie intends to give you a glimpse at the human spirit in the face of adversity, let’s be real, this man’s story is as unique as they come, and even in the movie, you basically saw him get broken to the point of nearly giving up, but a little bit of luck changed his circumstance. But the portrayal of it in the movie almost seemed a bit forced. That doesn’t change the fact that the story of Solomon Northrup did end positively. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s like the ONLY cat to have that story end that way after being wrongfully “returned” to slavery.

Funny enough, while I definitely got pissed all over again at slavery and the institution whiteness of America that perpetuated I wasn’t nearly as pissed as I was at Rosewood. It’s still maintained its gold standard. And do you know how I know I wasn’t as pissed? The movie theater where I saw 12 Years is adjacent to the Verizon Center in downtown DC. Tonight was a Washington Capitals hockey game. I walked out of the theater and right into a street full of hockey fans. And I just moseyed on to my car with nary a death glare or stern facial expression towards anybody.

Should you go see it? Yes. You should. It will be one of those movies that moves you in some direction which again, is the mark of good art. It will make you feel something even if its just stress or exhaustion because there are a few scenes that will emotionally do that to you. Shouts to Patsy.

12 Years A Slave is in theaters tomorrow.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I COULDN’T DO NO 12 YEARS OR 12 MINUTES aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Don’t You Forget About Me, Bro. Like For Reals.

Okay, I didn't watch it today, but it did make me think. Bro.When I did watch it.

Okay, I didn’t watch it today, but it did make me think. Bro.When I did watch it.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said on here before that Pitch Perfect is one of my absolute new favorite movies. It’s as much for the non-sensicalness of the movie as it is for the acapella singing. I’m here for acapella. It’s just that entertaining. Well, one of the main songs both covered and played in Pitch Perfect is Simple Minds, “Don’t You Forget About Me”, a song made super popular in America when it was played during both the open and closing credits of The Breakfast Club in 1985. Full confession: I never loved The Breakfast Club as much as I think I was supposed to. I know its considered the pre-eminent teen movie and all that jazz and I love John Hughes movies as much as the next guy, I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.

Switch up right quick.

Have you seen Pleasantville? It’s the movie featuring Seabiscuit‘s jockey and Elle Woods of Legally Blonde fame where they get transported into a black and white television show based on all around pleasantness. The high and low of every day is a perfect 72 degrees. Well Reese Witherspoon teaches everybody how to drop down and get their eagle on, and in turns lots of kids end up with a f*cking problem. <—-double entendre

The expansion of their lives turns them colored instead of black and white and turns the city on its head and all that jazz. I’m really not going to go into the plot because its irrelevant. Lil Tobey ends up managing to finagle his way back into his own regular world and his girlfriend in Pleasantville – she’s techni-colored – says to him before he leaves, “Don’t forget about me. Even if you never make it back here to visit…just…don’t forget about me.”

Le hmm.

After hearing that, and thinking about the song and how often I’ve heard some variation in movies and television…I wonder how much is that a real concern for people in relationships?

Like as you walk on by, do you worry about somebody you actually dated ever truly forgetting that you existed? Now, creep with me for a second.

In theory I get this wholesale. Nobody ever wants to not have mattered…or mattered to somebody so little to the point that a person they gave some, or any amount of time to would actually see right through them for lack of any genuine connection to a life once shared. But what is the real likelihood of this happening?

More full disclosure: There are women that I’ve dated for whom I cannot recall a last name to save my life. That was also over a decade ago and dated is a strong term. There isn’t a single woman that I’ve felt had any type of significant bearing in my life that I’d “forget”. To that end, it would be ridiculous to expect somebody I went on one date with 10 years ago to remember me and vice versa, but it always seems like these songs or statements are made to folks who hold a measurable level of significance. There are some women that have been in my life that I couldn’t forget if you gave me 50 years plus Alzheimer’s.

By the way, Alzheimer’s = Old Timer’s for those of you who actually didn’t realize it was a medical condition as opposed to just state of being.

But forget the other people, I also can’t remember ever feeling compelled to tell anybody, or ask them rather, not to forget about me. Seems a little selfish. Granted…again…nobody wants to be forgotten, nor does anybody want to think that something that they gave time, energy, and attention to was a forgettable experience, but how many people are really out here having long term, or significant forgettable experiences?

Which perhaps means that the definition of “forget” is altered. See, while there are lots of people that I will never forget for whatever contribution they’ve brought to my life, there are people for whom the details have become sketchy. I’m pretty good with birthdays. Correction: my phone is good with birthdays. And I can always remember where somebody is from. But the other things…favorite foods or movies, or what makes them laugh and tick…well that has, understandably I think, gone the way of the condor. And why wouldn’t it? Once you stop dating somebody, the details you used to get you from day to day become useless in your mental rolodex. Which, seems totally fair and normal. You become somebody that I used to know. There’s a reason that song was so huge…that idea makes so much sense. I definitely have people that I used to know in my life…but they’re all unforgettable like Nat King.

So it brings me back to the larger question, are people genuinely concerned about being forgotten by people they no longer date? Is this ever a real concern? And is it about the details or just being forgotten on some Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind type of stuff (one of my favorite movies of all time, ever)?

Just in case, I’m asking you not to forget about me. Please. Thank you.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. YOU AIN’T FORGET ALREADY DID YOU aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Since we’re here for the movies today, I’ve been given the opportunity to give away two (2) copies of Kevin Hart’s latest DVD, Let Me Explain, courtesy of CodeBlack Films. The film comes out today, October 15th,  in stores and online everywhere. But if you hate standing in line and want to test your luck for a free copy courtesy of VerySmartBrothas and Codeblack Flims, here’s what you have to do, be the first two folks on Twitter (sorry, I’m turning it into a Twitter promo) to tweet @verysmartbros the right answer to this question: What exactly was Kevin Hart trying to explain in this DVD? Add the hashtag #VSBLetMeExplain

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