Friday, January 10, 2014

Redux: Black Arts, Black Artist

I saw Mr. Baraka on two occasions this past summer. First, while I was vending my cookies at the Lincoln Park Music Festival, he was serving as host of the jazz performances, also reading poetry. I remember the music-filled air punctuated with soul shouts of "Trayvon!" from Mr. Baraka, as he delivered spoken-word poetry while the musicians played. He looked frail that evening, but his voice was strong. The second occasion was a few weeks later at 27 Mix on Halsey Street, where he had come in to grab a bite--we said hello, and he, too, graciously said hello.  May he rest in peace.

Newark-born poet/
Of art and controversy/

Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones), 1934-2014.

Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1962.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Blackboard Jungle" TONIGHT, Wednesday, January 8 at Plainfield Library

The Sidney Poitier Film Festival, sponsored by the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library (FOPPL), continues this Wednesday at 6:30 pm with a screening of the 1955 class film, Blackboard Jungle, starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier. The film, seen as a gritty, realistic view of violence and gang culture in inner-city schools, featured the earliest rock-n-roll soundtrack used in a Hollywood release, and was viewed as the cause of vandalism and violence at some of the theaters where it played. Nevertheless, it went on to receive several Academy Award nominations, including Best Art Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.

Although Poitier has only a featured role in the film, it is considered one of his break-out roles and it presages the huge film career he went on to have.

The festival will continue to run on the second Wednesdays of each month at 6:30 pm through May 2014. Below is the list of films--mark your calendar!

Uptown Saturday Night - February 12
A Patch of Blue - March 12
In the Heat of the Night - April 9
Stir Crazy - May 14