June 14, 2012

By BRETT ZONGKER | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A poet-historian representing a younger generation of writers will soon take office on Capitol Hill, overlooking the politicians, in a lesser-known post enshrined in federal law.

The Library of Congress named Natasha Trethewey on Thursday to be its 19th U.S. poet laureate with a mission to share the art of poetry with a wider audience. The 46-year-old English and creative writing professor at Atlanta's Emory University distinguished herself early, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

Trethewey will be the first poet in chief to take up residence in Washington to work at the library’s Poetry Room for part of her term in 2013. As one of the youngest poet laureates ever selected, she also brings fresh perspective to an office more recently held by poets in their 80s.

Part of her work has focused on restoring history that has been erased or forgotten from the official record and the nation’s shared memory. She has researched in the library’s Civil War archive to inform some of her writings.

Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her collection of poems, “Native Guard.” She wrote of the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

The Confederate prisoners were later memorialized on the island, but not the black Union soldiers.

A stanza reads:

“Some names shall deck the page of history

as it is written on stone. Some will not.”

Librarian of Congress James Billington, who chose Trethewey after hearing her read at the National Book Festival in Washington, said her work explores many tragedies of the Civil War.

“She’s taking us into history that was never written,” he told The Associated Press. “She takes the greatest human tragedy in American history — the Civil War, 650,000 people killed, the most destructive war of human life for a century — and she takes us inside without preaching.”

It’s a “happy coincidence,” he said, that Trethewey was chosen during the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. He was also impressed with her skill in translating a visual image into words and moving from rhyme to free verse — but always keeping her poems accessible.

Trethewey began writing poems after a personal tragedy. While she was a college freshman, her mother was killed by a stepfather Trethewey had long feared.

“I started writing poems as a response to that great loss, much the way that people responded, for example, after 9/11,” she told the AP. “People who never had written poems or turned much to poetry turned to it at that moment because it seems like the only thing that can speak the unspeakable.”

She is the nation’s first poet laureate to hail from the South since the first federal poet — Robert Penn Warren — was named by the Library of Congress in 1986. She is also Mississippi’s top poet and will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.

Her term, beginning in September, also coincides with the 75th anniversary of the poetry center and a dedicated poet-consultant position at the world’s largest library.

Trethewey said she hopes to promote national activity around poetry and to engage with the library and people who visit the nation’s capital.

Past poet laureates have included W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove and Warren — the Southern native who was an inspiration for Trethewey. Their agendas as the nation's chief poets have included readings across the country, newspaper syndication of poems and poetry readings over high school public address systems.

Poetry lives in the Trethewey family. Her father, Eric Trethewey, is a poet and college professor. But when she went to graduate school, she was more interested in telling stories and studied fiction writing.

“On a dare that first semester, a poet friend of mine got me to write a poem. I did it because I thought I would prove that I couldn’t do it,” she said. “It was at that moment that something really clicked.”

Her Pulitzer-winning poems also included her personal history as the daughter of interracial parents — and the story of her mother, who died at the age of 40.

In “Miscegenation,” a poem in “Native Guard,” she wrote about her parents' journey to Ohio in 1965 for a marriage that was illegal at home in Mississippi.

“They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong — mis in Mississippi.”

Trethewey’s next collection of poems, “Thrall,” will be published this year. It explores her relationship with her white father and shared and divergent memory within families, along with poems about paintings and the history of knowledge from the Enlightenment. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — If video-of-the-year nominee Usher wins at the BET Awards this summer, he won't be far away: He’s agreed to perform at the show.

Rappers 2 Chainz and Big Sean also will take the stage at The Shrine Auditorium on July 1 in Los Angeles. They join previously announced performers Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown.

Comedians Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer will present awards. Samuel L. Jackson will host.

Kanye West has the most nominations with seven. Beyonce follows with six, and her husband, Jay-Z, is up for five.

Usher's competition for the top award includes two collaborative songs by Jay-Z and West, and two songs by Beyonce.

Lil Wayne, Drake and J. Cole also have multiple nominations.

The show airs at 8 p.m. EDT on BET. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012

By Brandon I. Brooks

Co-Managing Editor


Cedric “The Entertainer” is coming back to television with his own new original series, “The Soul Man.”


Starring alongside Cedric will be the very funny and charismatic Niecy Nash.


Both Cedric “The Entertainer” and Niecy Nash caught up with the Sentinel and Watts Times for an intimate interview on the set of their new series, at the CBS Studios in Universal City, California. 


 Video: Cedric "The Entertainer" and Niecey Nash - "The Soul Man" Interview


LAWT: Tell me about the new sitcom and what attracted you both to the series?


Cedric “The Entertainer” (CTE): The show is called “The Soul Man.”  It’s a show I created, produced and starring in.  In the show I play Boyce Ballentine or Reverend Boyce Ballentine, an ex-R&B superstar who gets the calling late in life and moves my family, my wife, and my daughter away from Las Vegas back St. Louis and become the minister of my dad’s church. It’s just basically a story of transition, how you go from one lifestyle or one life to another. 


Niecy Nash (NN): I play Lolli Ballentine and I loved the life my husband Boyce had when he was an R&B singer, I loved the shiny lifestyle, Vegas the Bellagio.  Not crazy about coming back to St. Louis but supportive of my husband and there I am.  And it’s so funny because this particular story mirrors a life I use to live with my ex-husband who was an R&B singer, who got called into the ministry.  So I have been a first lady before.  It wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy now.


LAWT: When did each of you know this project was right for you?


CTE: I developed it and wrote the script with Susan Martin from “Hot in Cleveland.” So really when developing the world out, I knew we would have a lot of fun.  When looking for a TV wife Niecy’s name came up.  We had worked together before on a movie I had done called, “Code Name: The Cleaner.” But it was also the idea was really fresh too me.  You knew her talent from “Reno 911” as well as her reality shows but I just thought it was going to be really unique. So we met for lunch and she told me this story about her real life and I couldn’t believe it.  She thought I was making it up, I thought she was making it up; I’m like wait a minute? It just ended up being a perfect match.  It’s been dynamic and I’m really thankful and blessed that she was available and wanted to play along and we have been having a great time.    


NN: I have never been a TV wife before. Been a lot of things, concubine, girl on the side, you know freak of the weak, but no now I am official.  I am a TV wife and I have to say Cedric creates an environment where the set in so much fun.  You know and I said if I knew it was going to be this much fun being a wife I would have been a TV wife a long time ago.  But I didn’t know. 


LAWT: We have not seen a show like this, and when I say a show like this, this type of theme (family theme) for African Americans in a while.  There have been similar attempts for instance with Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids), but it’s refreshing to see a family oriented show for not just Black families but all families on television.  Was that your goal when you approached this project?


CTE:  Definitely, for me I try to build a brand that is inclusive with my comedy and one that allows everybody to come and watch the show. Being a family man myself you know raising kids’ living that particular lifestyle I thought the image was something that could be really refreshing.  The story line of being able to kind of show the generational things like having a grandfather involved on the show in a regular basis and that kind of relationship of the extended family with the younger brother who is a little different in age group.  Like all of these things were things that I thought would be interesting story points of view to tell about our community and so for me, that was something I definitely wanted to run at and again probably not since Cosby in a real way have you seen something that resembled fun loving family that is having a good time but also has challenges and struggles or whatever they have to deal with.  So that’s the world I thought would be really fun. 


NN: I was excited to show Black love on TV.  You know because a lot of time with the programming we have now, even if it has wife in the title, the girls aren’t wives.  If there is a man involved it’s a lot of yelling and arguing. And even in a traditional sit-com, you know usually the husband and wife are each other’s foil.  It’s like that’s who you get your cheap shots in with but I love the idea that we just love each other.   You get to see a couple that loves each other not that there perfect but they are perfect for one another and they are trying to be better so that is what I am happy about bringing.


LAWT: Even though the show is based in a church atmosphere the series still incorporates many different real – world problems. Niecy, tell me a little bit more about your character and what you are trying to bring because we are seeing you in a new light?


NN:  Even though it’s a new light in TV, it’s an old light for me.  I’m on my second marriage; I got it down pact now.  I have an ex-husband, a new husband and a TV husband.  I got more husbands than I could shake a stick at.  And now I understand what being a wife is.  So playing a wife on television now is really another extension of who I am.  I have my own children, my own family so to be able to bring that motherly love.  But the truth of the matter is who we are outside of our character’s they blend together a little bit.  So there is a bit of extra mothering.  We are able to move around and bring so many real elements and nuances to what we do because it’s not far from our truths in a sense. 


LAWT: What advice do you have for up and coming actors and actresses or anyone looking to make it in the business?


NN: To the new generation that’s coming, they move around, a lot of them, like there is a sense of entitlement.  You know doing what you doing hook me up! And you know, I am scared of the hook up because if you don’t have someone to help you will you really know how to hustle.  The other thing is I don’t think you need anybody else to believe in your dream.  And that is why they call it self-esteem.  When you believe, that is enough to carry you to the next point in it all.


CTE: I definitely try to tell people to love what you do first and don’t worry about blowing up.  Most of the time it’s kind of to that same point, what you hear is people really want to have that star experience right away.  “I did a play last week man, put me in a movie I’m ready to go, I did it I rocked it.”  The thing is that you got to be able to know the different rungs on the ladder so if ever you go up and you have to come down, you don’t have to fall down to the bottom.  You can fall for or five steps get yourself together and then climb back up.  So you know its okay to do the journey.  The journey is going to be far more valuable than the rocketing to the top.


LAWT: Why should people tune in and watch “The Soul Man?”


CTE: You got to watch “The Soul Man,” Wednesday’s on TV Land, it’s funny, I’m on it, Niecy’s on it, and then I said so…Its s great show of family values, the struggle of changing your life, going from one life to another, growing up getting smarter, getting wiser and then having people recognize that and is it okay to be known for one thing and mature to something else.  Watch it for that reason. 


NN: I would tell everyone to watch “The Soul Man” because I think that this is a show that could be appointment TV.  Where everyone in your family can find some character in here they relate to, something funny that they identify with.  I definitely think you will either see yourself or someone in this family and you can watch it with your entire family.


LAWT: What else do you guys have going on outside of television, anything we should be on the lookout for?


CTE: I’m still touring.  I’m scheduling a show in the Los Angeles area for August.  But usually I’m on out on the road on the east coast.  But creating producing other shows, I got a very cool movie called coming out called “Grass Roots,” it’s a little more of a dramatic role for me.  I play a Seattle politician in this film.


NN: There is a lot going on.  God has been very kind so I have my hands in a bit of everything.  I just launched an accessories line on the Home Shopping Network.  I have a book coming out.  Producing, creating and developing a lot of things.


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2012




Your mate has a sweet surprise. Open up to receive it. Choose your words carefully around a sensitive pal. Listen for good news about a loan or financial matter. Soul Affirmation: I let others toot my horn this week.






Enjoy the great insights you have in the area of career objectives. Take a look at what’s out there! An unanticipated financial matter may arise, find the good in it. Soul Affirmation: A cheerful soul should be wrapped in a cheerful package.






This week is a good week to get in touch with your emotional self. You will respond well to what people close to you will ask from you. Your loved ones will appreciate your kindness when they find out how highly sensitive you are to their needs. Soul Affirmation: My life itself is my greatest creation.






You know what you want and you have the ability to make it happen. Step into action at work this week and you will get a lot done. You can get what you want without being too demanding. Enjoy the time you have with your family. True rewards come from those who are related to you by blood. Soul Affirmation: Truth is revealed in the smallest grain of sand.






Live this week with an adventurer’s spirit. Trade in the comfortable for the exciting; the reliable for intriguing; the familiar for the new. Perhaps a change of scenery will get you started. You will rediscover feelings that you have denied yourself for a while. Soul Affirmation: Communication is a skeleton key that fits many doors.






If you’ve just made a power move in your work life or love life, you couldn’t have timed it any better. There will be a new level of appreciation and admiration for your leadership and forcefulness. Soul Affirmation: I work hard to combat envy this week.






Don’t respond to situations in a hasty manner this week. Your impulsive side is strong. Suppress it. Play a game called self-control. You know that this is the kind of game that you can win easily. Smile as you play at not being emotionally affected by an important matter, and eventually you’ll really won’t be emotionally affected. Soul Affirmation: I give my mind a holiday again this week.






Offer to help someone in your office who is struggling with a difficult project that you have mastered in the past. There will be several birthday celebrations that you are invited to. Attend them all! Celebrate! Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for who I am this week.






Think of who you like to have fun with. Give them a call. Plan something that diverts you from your unexciting tasks. Spend some money. Find a place that jumps. Jump with it. Flirt. Even serious people flirt once in a while, especially if you’ve worked your buns off all week. Soul Affirmation: The true path is mapped out by my impulses.






You’re likely to experience a blast from the past. An acquaintance will meet up with you again. Don’t be shy in establishing a more solid friendship this time. It could lead to something important professionally or personally. Love sometimes works better the second time around. Soul Affirmation: Smooth communications is the key to my success this week.






Who are the people who are empowered to assist you? The material objective you are focused on right now is very do-able. All you need is some assistance. Ask for it. It’s coming soon. Soul Affirmation: I let positive emotions carry me through the week.






Don’t let worry put a strain on your relationships. Concentration is key, but be as light hearted as possible. Open up to romantic feelings. Let love come to you. It may come from inside. Soul Affirmation: Shining brightly is something that I can do even in shadows.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 07, 2012

By Brian W. Carter,

Sentinel Staff Writer


Marlton Square — the story is a long and twisting tale going all the way back to a time when it didn’t exist. As former Congresswoman Diane Watson mentioned at the Marlton Square Conference on Thurs., May 31, this area wasn’t even as diversified as it is now. The 20-acre site is now in the process of sprouting new wings and taking flight after its long and arduous journey.


Starting in the early ‘80s, the one-time Santa Barbara Plaza had begun its early trek into dilapidation. At the time, then Mayor Tom Bradley had started the ball rolling with a call for renovations of the area. The ball would slow down over time and roll into the hands of former Lakers and present businessman/entrepreneur, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, in the mid 90’s. Johnson would miss the shot in ’02 with the development group Capital Vision Equities (CVE).


The development group would eventually lose the vision to bring Marlton Square back to fruition when they defaulted on the project in 2004. Further complications ensued when CVE went bankrupt in 2006. In December 2010, the dust began to clear and one owner was left standing: Commercial Mortgage Managers (CMM).


Together with Councilmember Bernard Parks and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), CMM is moving forward with the awaited redevelopment. The official demolition process began in late summer of 2011.


Last Thursday, CMM, CRA/LA and Parks announced a new tenant to Marlton Square — Kaiser Permanente as they welcomed them on the proposed site.  Kaiser has closed escrow on 8.65 acres of land at 4033-4081 Marlton Avenue with the intention of opening an outpatient medical office building.


“This is the real deal,” said Parks.” This is going to happen.”


Parks continued, “We are so pleased to be here today and to bring to this community what [it] deserves.”


Parks took a moment to acknowledge all the labor, patience, love and time it took to give Marlton Square its wings. There were remarks given by Watson; Richard Benbow, general manager CDD; Commissioner Valerie Shaw; David Rentz, CMM; and other guests, staff members and community members.


“This has been a journey since 2003 for us,” said Parks on behalf of his staff and himself. From scrambling with developers, going through default and bankruptcy, Parks spoke about how their hands were tied when it came to moving forward in the past with Marlton Square’s redevelopment — but that’s not the case anymore.


“When we talked to Kaiser, they said the reason this site was so important for them is because — it’s in the heart of their membership pool and it’s also in the heart of [a] community, which needs medical insurance,” said Parks.


Many thanks went to Parks, his staff members, the late Tom Bradley who started the project of redeveloping Marlton Square, regional administrator of the CRA/LA, Carolyn Hull and CEO, Chris Essel, and CB Richard Ellis real estate broker, Jamie Brooks, who was pivotal in securing Kaiser as a tenant.


“The Kaiser development is going to be the linchpin and the anchor that draws a phenomenal development that’s going to stimulate economic growth in this area that is well deserved,” said Brooks. “We’re humbled and excited to be apart of the project.”


“This is a great day for all of us,” said Hull. “Because this is the one project I really needed to get done.”


Marlton Square has taken flight and is in the air!

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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