Three sentences that led to Cakewalk

Acclaimed jazz journalist Forrest Dylan Bryant waited until his second question to ask why I had the temerity to go against the grain of a century of jazz literature by proposing a whole new genesis to America’s original music. We were in the lounge of the 150-year-old Mechanics Institute, the city’s oldest library, Tuesday night […]

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Who’s telling the story

During the Author Carnival at the Mechanics Institute lounge Tuesday, I’ll discuss how Cakewalk: an historical novel about the unsung creators of jazz was written in 22 days during the 2009 National Novel Writing Month. The most important decision is choosing the narrator. In my three novels, that voice comes from different places. Grampa Jack’s […]

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The plot thickened

Leicester Mapp thought Ferdinand Morton was a pest and would have avoided him if possible. But before I launched into the reading of Chapter 8 of Cakewalk: an historical novel about the unsung creators of jazz music at the San Francisco Main Library this afternoon, there was some scene setting to do. We began with […]

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So much for the color-free democracy

An Washington Post op-ed by Democratic Party insiders calling for President Obama to pull a Lyndon Baines Johnson two years early and decline to run for re-election is a further sign of the challenges facing black politicians unexpectedly. Hopes that Obama’s election would open doors further have instead seen an array of setbacks. House Minority […]

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Still listening after 20 years

Mrs. Leola King had a twinkle in her eye as Mrs. Deborah Campbell Ford wheeled her into Marcus Book Store. She was there an hour before our Preserving California Black Heritage conference began, watching the Our Roots Run Deep documentary raptly from her wheelchair. When Ford mentioned that Mrs. King had been the owner of […]

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Continuity of conscience

“….Seventy-five, seventy-six, seventy-seven, seventy-eight, seventy-nine, eighty” counted Past Grand Master William Calhoun and I in the hallway of Hannibal Lodge No. 1 this morning. We were in the presence of a wall filled with distinguished portraits and photographs in top hats and ceremonial garb of every leader of the lodge since its chartering in 1852. […]

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Left out of the celebration

For the past five weeks, the nightclubs and bars of San Francisco have gotten global advertising through the revelry of fans of the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants. Yet the largest entertainment spot on Third Street was empty, because the San Francisco Police Department had objected for the past two years to their alcohol license. […]

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Step up to the plate

As the ringing bells of the cable cars outside my window heralded the Giants World Series victory– contemplative sort that I am– I wondered what does it mean. Couldn’t help but tip my hat to the master scriptwriter for having an athletic event that was a perfect metaphor for the political tumult raging at every […]

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Tchoupitoulas to Trade

Yesterday was International Day of the Diaspora. Before you throw something at me for telling you the day after, it is also the Decade of the Diaspora, so you’ve still got over nine years to get with the program. I started the holiday, which was a much more satisfying holiday than the voyage that led […]

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