writin' and whatnot

Before it's a book...

it's just notes.


This is part of an outline for a novel I'm working on. It's basically a storyboard broken down in these little boxes, according to chapter.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering if I'm afraid of people stealing my ideas since I just put my notes on the Internet. Well, I would be, if I didn't write it in new-school hieroglyphics that only I can decipher.

Go ahead. Try to read it. You'll get nothing but a headache.

Some call it chicken-scratch. I like to think of it as genius-scribble, or handwriting 2.0.

Anyway, the point is, this is where it starts. A bunch of messy bullet points in a moleskine. The early fleshings of an idea. The bones.

But it's so amazing to think about what this will soon become.

Lyrics I wish I wrote: Questions for the Angels, by Paul Simon


A pilgrim on a pilgrimage Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge His sneakers torn In the hour when the homeless move their cardboard blankets And the new day is born Folded in his backpack pocket The questions that he copied from his heart Who am I in this lonely world? And where will I make my bed tonight? When twilight turns to dark


Questions for the angels Who believes in angels? Fools do Fools and pilgrims all over the world

Verse 2

If you shop for love in a bargain store And you don't get what you bargained for Can you get your money back? If an empty train in a railroad station Calls you to it's destination Can you choose another track? Will I wake up from these violent dreams With my hair as white as the morning moon?


Questions for the angels Who believes in angels? I do Fools and pilgrims all over the world

Verse 3

Downtown Brooklyn The pilgrim is passing a billboard That catches his eye It's Jay-Z He's got a kid on each knee He's wearing clothes that he wants us to try

If every human on the planet and all the buildings on it Should disappear Would a zebra grazing in the African Savannah Care enough to shed one zebra tear? Questions for the angels


The Legend of Mumbo Sauce

20110830-114048.jpg(also known as Mambo Sauce, Mumble Sauce, and as seen above, Mombo Sauce)

Ok, so I grew up like every other kid in the DC metro area staggering into some grimy Chinese carry-out at 2am after a go-go or a party and walking up to those thick bullet proof glass windows and...

"Yeah, lemme get a four piece and fries, with a rock creek pineapple." (No, we weren't ordering half and half's back then.)

"$4.25, ticket number 31."

After either being loud and obnoxious, or trying to avoid the loud and obnoxious, depending on the type of person you were or the amount of friends you were with, the wings come. And what's on them (or on the side)? DC's very own condiment, Mumbo Sauce.

Now, the mystery of Mumbo sauce is that though it is apart of some sort of dietary uniform for DC, Mumbo Sauce itself isn't uniformed at all. It always tastes different, and even looks different depending on what carry-out you go to. Sometimes it's thick and burgundy, like barbecue sauce. Other times it's bright red and watery, similar to a sweet and sour sauce. Sometimes it just looks like ketchup ad has a tangy taste. It varies.

Which always, always, ALWAYS raises the question, what is Mumbo Sauce? Like, what's the (or one) recipe? Who created it? (I heard it was a Black man. Seriously. Wouldn't surprise me.) And why can't I buy it in the store? Better yet, why does it seem like it only tastes good on carry-out chicken? I would NEVER put this on my mother's chicken. Hmmmm.

This should be interesting.

Note: I took the photo above at some new spot in Rivertowne the last time I was home. The spot is just called "Soul Food," which should've been a dead giveaway that it was owned by Chinese people. I go in and look at the condiments and there you have it, the 2012 Mombo (Mumbo) sauce dispenser. I guess they got tired of "us" asking for extra, and then getting belligerent when they charge us 75 cents for it.

Kennedy Center Amazingness (Recap)

Ok. So. I really don't have that much to say about it besides the fact that it was amazing. And when I say amazing, I mean, one of the most memorable experiences of my life, thus far. The purpose behind the show (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), the people in the show, the fact that I got to read my "Letter to a Dreamer" to a PACKED house, ranging from 16 year olds to 70 year olds, all in the historic Kennedy Center...overwhelming. I can't really say much else. I can't really do it justice. I'm still trying to do it justice in my own mind! So, just CHECK IT OUT YOURSELF!! 20110829-101329.jpg



One of the best parts of the whole day, actually came after the show. I was sitting outside with two of my friends when an older man, who was either the shuttle driver for the Kennedy Center, or one of the security guards, definitely in his 60's came over to me and extended his hand.

"You the dreamer, right?" he said, his voice gruff, but pleasant.

I was a but puzzled. Was I "the dreamer?" I guess, so.

"Ah. Yes sir." I stood to my feet and shook his hand.

"Well, I'm still dreaming, son. Aint that what you said? That it aint too late? I'm still dreaming."

Then he walked away.


There are moments when...

One more thing. Notice the woman in the photo above in the bedazzled hat. She HAS to be one of my mother's friends.

A rhinoceros's sauce is supposed to be served on a saucer, sir.

Oh, didn't see you there. What am I doing? Just exercising my tongue to speak at the... KENNEDY CENTER THIS SUNDAY! AS IN, TWO DAYS FROM TODAY!


6pm to 7pm


Come out and support. Not just to see me and some friends say a few words, but to also be a part of the experience, the momentous, historic unveiling and celebration of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.


Now, where was I?

How now brown cow...

Wisdom from a married man

You have to come to grips with the fact that the person you devote your life to, will hurt you like no other person has hurt you, and they will do it constantly, for the rest of your life. It isn't because they necessarily want to, (in fact, they shouldn't want to. If they do, reevaluate, reevaluate, reevaluate!) but it's because their opinion weighs heaviest, and the slightest lash of tongue could turn your confidence to mush. And it goes both ways. Just like you will cause the most smiles, you will also cause the most tears. It's practically a guarantee. So if love is to endure, the two of you are going to have to develop very short memories. Be as forgiving and as forgetful as possible.

Dope advice for any relationship.

Thanks homie.

Bathroom Graffiti

Or Lavatory MuralOr Washroom Wall Art Or John Masterpiece Or "Everybody Wuz Here" Or Phone Directory for... Or reason I've pissed all over the seat...


This is from a coffee shop restroom on the Bowery.

I'm into this kinda stuff. I think it's pretty interesting to read and I notice people get either really honest on bathroom walls or outrageously juvenile (bathrooms really ARE a place for release!) From funny notes written to whoever is currently using the toilet, like, "Don't forget to wash your hands you nasty bastard," to hateful, deep-seated anger that I wouldn't say in real life, let alone re-write on my blog.

Oh, and everyone is in a band. And every band has a sticker.

I'm not ashamed to say that I always take a moment to scour the stall walls whenever I'm in a public restroom stall. Give it a shot next time you're in one that's covered in tags and phone numbers and nasty stick figures. But don't explore for too long, because, y'know... it's a bathroom. And it always sucks when people think you're poopin'.

Two things I learned about myself at Jamba Juice, yesterday.

20110822-084649.jpg Yesterday I strolled over to Jamba Juice to get a Strawberry Surfrider. I don't exactly remember what a Strawberry Surfrider consists of, other than lime sorbet, and strawberry something-or-other.

Doesn't really matter. It's delicious.

Anyway, I do my usual bop up to the counter where I'm greeted by a young woman, in a not so sweet but still charming, visor (work is work, do what ya gotta do) who was everything but enthused to be taking smoothie orders.

Woman (mumbles): HowudoinwelcometoJambaJuice. (Yes, it sounded like one long word.)

Me: I'm well, thanks. How are you? Let me get an original Strawberry Surfrider.

Just like that.

Then it hit me. I didn't wait to see how she was doing. I asked, but didn't even pause for the reply. Hmm.

That got me thinking about how often I offer salutations, disingenuously. I know it's a cultural norm to greet people, but how hard is it to allow folks the five second space to express how they are doing. Granted, I just wanted my smoothie, but I bet most of her customers never even bother to ask, let alone wait for a response. And I bet that's true in almost every service industry. People look at you like the connecting piece between them and the product, an organizational appendage, but not a person who matters enough to know how you're doing. We only care about what you're doing.

I know some folks will read this and say, Well she clearly had an attitude anyway. And yes, she did. But maybe that's because no one has bothered to ask her how her day has been going, before ordering her to get cracking on their complicated, overpriced, boosted, blended drink. (What the hell is up with all the booster mess, anyway. I wan't a smoothie, not a steroid elixir.My smoothie doesn't need to give me muscles.) Maybe it's true that a little courtesy goes a long way, and a lot of discourtesy can eat  a person inside, out. Lackluster morale can't be hidden by makeup, and when you've been talked at all day, you couldn't careless about how you're "coming across." Maybe she hates Jamba Juice, and it's hard to find a job out here, so she's trying to make due, but it was just one of those days. Who knows?

Anyway, whatever it was, I felt terrible that I didn't wait for her response. So I stopped in the middle of my order to make an "edit."

Me (embarrassed): You know what, let me start again. How are you today? (It was something like that. I'm sure I was a little cooler in real life. Trying to recollect.)

Woman (now smiling): I'm fine. Thank you. You wanna a booster?"

A smile. Lesson learned. I have to be more intentional with my words. Even the ones that seem arbitrary and ordinary, have power.

That's the first thing I learned.

The second is, I HATE the smell of oranges! Have you guys ever been in Jamba Juice?! It's rancid with orangey smell. It's literally like being INSIDE of an orange.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why she was pissed. Yep. And that's probably why she ran all the words together, like that. Gotta talk quick when you're holding your breath.

BIG NEWS! (I'm smiling...and no matter what time of day you read this, I'll be smiling.)

THIS SUNDAY, I will reading my latest piece, "Letter to a Dreamer," at... Wait for it...

THE KENNEDY CENTER! Yep! It's for the unveiling celebration of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT PIECES I'VE EVER WRITTEN, and one of the MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS I'VE EVER PERFORMED AT. I'm humbled an overwhelmed, and grateful to Holly Bass for having me, and Simone Jacobson for connecting me.

Millennium Stage, 6 o'clock, FREE.

Here's an excerpt from the piece:

There have been many anxious nights where darkness has slept around me

my lover cocooned in a coziness I have yet to meet.

My eyes swollen with exhaustion my body sputtering on its way down

but my dream wont stop crying screaming like a colicky infant child.

Sometimes I think it needs to be changed.

Usually it just needs to be fed.

Note: "Letter to a Dreamer" will be published in book form, and available in the fall.

Off the wall

20110818-095323.jpgI walked into a store yesterday and on the wall was this case, with a ton of film in it.Visually, it was stunning, but it got me thinking. With the digitization of photos, and the ultimate ousting of film, what do people hang on their walls?

Sure, you could say art. But when I was younger, the "art" was mainly all the embarrassing photos of me in different "toothed" phases, from gapped, to buck, to what the... all arranged in tacky, metallic frames from this dollar store or that dollar store. Tons of propped up memories of my brother and I, my sister's graduation, my 12 and under basketball team, my big ass feet and abnormal head. As embarrassed as I am of some of them, they are the very things that brought, and still bring, warmth to my mother's house. They emit a wave that the Internet can't, no matter how advanced or sophisticated.

But my generation, and the one after me, seems to be more interested in building cool if not "cold" environments to lay our heads. Massive televisions, and things that beep, and move, tick and ring coupled with our love affair for ikea, leather, metal, and glass (cheap) furniture are the makings of our abodes. Crazy thing is, we snap more photos than ever! We are the generation of documentation. Taking photos of what we eat, wear, who we're with, and just about any and everything else. But our pictures don't hang on the walls of our homes to warm us, they hang on our Facebook walls. And maybe that makes some kind of twisted sense, since that's, I guess, where we live.

It's cheaper to house our memories online, but (insert analogy about fast food being cheap but not always the best, here.)

Just saying.

My mother always says

it is our nature to be selfish, but our purpose to be of service. (cues sigh of astonishment)

Note: I'm pretty sure my mother didn't come up with this. She probably read it in some book, stole it, and now dishes it out as her own. But, she does live by it, which to me, is the truest sign of wisdom.

(cues sigh of astonishment, again)

It's an interesting concept, that all of our destinies are service. But when I think about, it really enhances the reason we all do what we do. Changing your life is fantastic, but helping to change someone else's, for the better, is magical. It's something I think about all the time, mainly because I have to. I can still smell my mother smoking my room out with sage, and lecturing me about this, as a teen. There's absolutely no shaking it at this point.

So intense.

With her wisdom also comes an immense humility, something I try to stay on top of, sometimes to no avail. Though she's always humble, I cant help but think about how amazingly hilarious it would be if the next time she says this mantra about service, she then follows it up with "A jewel just got dropped ON YOUR HEAD, FOOL!" and then bops away with a mean, Jefferson strut.

The person who got the "jewel dropped on their head's" face would be...ah man. Priceless.

Sheesh, I gotta go call my mom.

The day is starting off right! Monocle Magazine

If you read my post yesterday, you know I was nothing short of bummed the hell out for whatever reason (no I'm not trying to be secretive or keep the reason from you, I just don't know what it is.) I'm happy to inform you that today has started out much better! I went to my regular coffee shop/bookstore this morn, and guess what was waiting for me...the new issue of Monocle Magazine! 20110817-104338.jpg

If you are a geek, but a cool geek, Monocle is for you!


Not feeling like myself

Today was weird. I don't know why. I just wasn't really feeling like myself. Well, I was. But not the self I actually like to feel like. I like to feel like the self that is smiling, and laughing, and taking life with a grain of salt (and a shot of whiskey).

But today I was the self that has a full moon in his belly, is a hiccup away from a cuss-out, and could walk away from everything.

Wonder what it was. Probably just life. Probably just me. Doesn't really matter.

Tonight, I'm gonna polish up my smile. Put a new battery in my laugh. Gotta get ready for tomorrow, because I, the other me, is making a comeback.


Yesterday I went back home, to Oxon Hill to check up on everything and everyone. And though I live in the brilliant city of New York, my home will always be...home. New York has yet to provide me with a motherly hug. It has never given me fatherly advice. It has been, sort of, a big brother, but not like the one I have there. Nor could it match my little brother's excitement or my sister's pride. The friends I have in New York are special and always will be, but many of them were just plucked from my hometown crop, which has made it easier. When I go home to visit, I'm reminded of how much I love it there. Im also reminded how happy I am that I left a long time ago. I'd be a different person if I stayed. Not because home is regressive or slow or anything like that. But because the umbilical chord is Teflon. Ain't no cuttin' it. What I mean is, there's very little, if any, opportunity for discomfort for me there, and discomfort is what I needed to grow and test my abilities and survival instincts, as well as my mental fortitude.

Man or mouse is best determined when we separate ourselves from familiar faces because then we are forced to make tough decisions.

1. Do we make unfamiliar faces, familiar, and fight to make uncomfortable circumstances, comfortable?


2. Do we resolve to living lonely and uncomfortable?


3. Do we run and return to the nest of our yesterdays, where the familiar have kept our seats warm, our food hot, and our beds made?

Home will always be home, and I'm grateful for that. But I'm a number one kind of guy, chipping away to make an uncomfortable situation into a new home, all while somehow exposing the brick in myself.

Day 2...just to be clear

Okay, so just so everyone knows, Jason (Griffin) and I are cool. Everything is good. We just know that a lot of the success we have as collaborators, fuels our individual success, and that individual success is then poured back into the collab tank. And so on and so forth. Many of you may not know that Grif has had his own website for quite a while. Check it, here. He also has started a friggin huge (or soon-to-be huge) movement called, 1 Million Ninjas, which I'm also down with. For that, click here. Needless to say, the red-headed wild man has had his hands full, and does all of this while also working on R&G stuff. Oh, and I'm sure some of you have noticed by now, that our original site, www.increase-decrease.com is down (click here, lol, sike dont...nothing's gonna come up.) Maybe we'll bring it back, maybe not. We'll see. But in the meantime, I'm going to get this thing cracking, only because my personal brand is just as important to me as Grif's is...to me.

The stronger we are individually, the greater the magnitude of the movement we hope to build.

There it is.

Here we go again...

Okay, so I'm no newbie to the "blogosphere," a term that I loathe, but still use to describe a world I, sort of, hate but...still use. But this is my first time having one just for (I hate to say it)...me. Some of you may know me, some of you may not. But my name is Jason Reynolds. Half of Reynolds & Griffin, whole of Jason Reynolds. I write...a bunch of stuff. And this is my new blog.