Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rap Vs. Jazz

May 18, 2006

To the Editor:

You never hear that young jazz musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, or Roy Hargrove have had a run in with the law, been involved in a shootout, or started a verbal feud with a colleague. It makes me wonder what it is about rap music that brings out the worst in its practitioners and followers.

Sincerely yours,

Charles Michael Smith

Note: This is from a handwritten draft. I'm not sure which publication I had intended to send it to. Perhaps I had the New York Daily News in mind. I remember posting something similar on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Telling Lies To Tourists

Time Out New York magazine has a weekly feature called "Lies To Tell Tourists." This is very disturbing to me because this says that it's all right to lie to tourists and look upon them as gullible and/or stupid. It also undermines the trust of the tourists when they find out that they've been lied to. Also, it gives New York a bad image.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Three Projects Harlem Pride Should Consider Doing

Here are three projects Harlem Pride should consider getting involved in:

1. Establishing a gay and lesbian community center. (One location to consider is the former site of the Mount Morris Baths on Madison Avenue at 125th Street. The site has been vacant for several years.)

2. The erection of a statue or monument honoring the late novelist/essayist James Baldwin, a native son of Harlem.

3. The resumption of Gay Night at the Cotton Club, hosted by Harlem Pride. (I wrote an article for the New York Native about this weekly Friday night event in 1984.)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

No LGBT Programs on Air America

April 19, 2004

Air America Radio
3 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Attn: Mark Walsh, CEO

Dear Mr. Walsh:

I began listening to Air America from Day One and I have enjoyed listening to the liberal viewpoints expressed on it. However, there is one type of programming that is missing from your airwaves: a program that is exclusively devoted to the LGBT community.

I was a regular listener each Sunday to the gay programming offered by the Pacifica station WBAI, here in New York. But the quality and the scope were limited. When the show was called The Gay Show, the focus was mainly on white gay men. And when the show was renamed Out FM, with different hosts, it went the other way, focusing on women and people of color, almost exclusively. I would have much preferred gay programming that was much more inclusive and balanced.

Air America has the golden opportunity to develop a program that addresses the interests and the concerns of the LGBT community in an entertaining, informative, and provocative way. LGBT people are visible in all areas of media. Discussions about gays in the military, gay marriage, gay parenting, gays in the workplace are no longer rarities. Air America can help further such discussions and eradicate misconceptions about LGBT people. I don't expect Rush Limbaugh or the other right-wing talk hosts to do justice to these or other topics that are relevant to the LGBT community.

Right now, there is room for such programming, especially on the weekend, when much of the schedule is occupied by repeat broadcasts of the weekday shows. A weekly, two-hour show on your network would reach tens of thousands of LGBT people throughout the country, creating another venue for them to find out what's going on in LGBT communities here and abroad. I see such a show having not only serious discussions about issues, but also book and movie reviews, commentary, satire, remote broadcasts, and national and world news roundups. For example, this year I was a judge for the Lambda Literary Awards, in the Gay Men's Mystery category. One discussion a program could have is the state of gay and lesbian literature and the role the Lammys play in promoting it. There are so many gay and lesbian writers, historians, artists, actors, civic and community leaders that it would be impossible to run out of people to bring on to the show. Another feature could be a brief segment on a gay or lesbian historical figure, event, or place. I could go on for pages suggesting possible program content.

I'm hoping that this broadcasting venture called Air America will succeed so that the program idea that I am proposing will come to fruition. The national LGBT community would be the beneficiary and it would truly make Air America a beacon of liberalism.

Sincerely yours,

Charles Michael Smith

Note: I never received a response. Although there were gay and lesbian hosts on Air America such as Rachel Maddow, there never was a specific show about LGBT issues. WWRL, Air America's New York affiliate, after the demise of Air America, did later broadcast LGBT shows five days a week under the umbrella title "Equality Pride Radio."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Few Words From Gore Vidal

"I have collected these plays [Visit to a Small Planet and Other Television Plays (Little, Brown and Company, 1956)] in the parental hope that eventually some sort of repertory system will be evolved in television and certain plays will be done again from time to time, saving one's efforts from total oblivion. At the moment it is somewhat discouraging to see so many fine performances, so many good plays written, as it were, on air, nothing to show for all the work done but a kinescope (a filmed record of the play) which, because of unions and technical considerations, is seldom shown again on television. It is a criminal waste of many talents and some day, perhaps on the new magnetic tape, a play which is broadcast live will be accurately recorded and reshown."---Gore Vidal, from the book's Foreword.

Hopefully one of the classic television show channels like Cozy or Antenna will seek out these live shows and broadcast them.

Thursday, July 3, 2014



Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! This summer I'm looking forward to posting some very interesting and thought-provoking articles and book reviews.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Rescue On 116th Street

Walking up 7th Avenue toward 116th Street in Harlem, in front of the First Corinthian Baptist Church (its pastor, Michael Walrond, unsuccessfully ran against congressman Charles Rangel this year), I found, face down, a copy of a paperback immigrant novel. The book, If Today Be Sweet, was written by a novelist and professor of creative writing and journalism, Thrity Umrigar, originally from India. She is now living in the United States.

I picked the book up and tucked it between two church pillars thinking that the book had been left behind after a recent book fair at the church and that someone would find it. Twenty-four hours later, the book was still where I had placed it. So I decided to keep it.

Browsing through it, I found on the inside back cover, an inscription, handwritten in ink and dated
"1/18/08 09!"

"Barack Obama

'Our arts, our culture, our sciences are part of what make [sic] America special. And I plan to invite those things into the White House.'--Meet the Press, 2008."

If I never get around to reading this novel, that inscription alone was worth the effort to rescue this book from some landfill.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014



I hope everyone had a great Pride Day!