Hunkered down over a cheese-burger with J.D. Steele (yes, name-dropping: hell, the cat did arranging for my CD project), he asks what I’m up to. And gets an earful.
Starting with – who’d’ve thunk it – not only is a novel finished, the sequel is underway. At Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, owner-publisher Tracey Williams was scratching her head to fill the slot left after Sheletta Brundidge had stopped writing theDown Low Brother series. Tracey had a meeting of the minds with senior editor Jerry Freeman. Who then turned around asked, “Dwight, you think you can help out?”
“Sure”, I lied. When it comes to work, I step up. Whether there’s legs to stand on or not. That’s how my hit play (shameless plug) Shelter saw the light of day. Meeka at The Playwrights Center had some moron bail at the last minute, asked if I had a script. Which, lying my ass off, began writing soon as I hung up the phone. Anyway, there was an ancient short story, One Going, One Staying, from 1981 that I’d sold to Essence Magazine. Ain’t rocket science or real detective work to put two and two together and come up with something besides twenty-two: black women read MSR and black women read Essence. But, nobody like the title. So, I snatched the headline off yet another oldie, a Mpls/St. Paul Magazine essay called Black & Single Blues. Which (another shameless plug) is reprinted in my book of essays Something I Said, available at Kindle/Amazon.com. $10. For you a mere $9.99.
We were off to the races. Readers ate it up with a knife and fork. And, here it is, a year later and me and Jerry are gonna have an anniversary celebration. Black & Single Blues has enough episodes in the can to last ’til Spring. And is going to follow Something I Said at Kindle/Amazon.com. After that, another book of essays Movies, Media & Race. Then, How To Find Love Without Losing Your Mind. You could say I’m on a roll.
J.D., once I’m done running my mouth, drains the last of his brandy snifter, nods, duly impressed. Then, throws a monkey wrench in the works bringing up the CD thing from a few years ago. “Man, what happened? You put me off the project. Kicked me to the curb.” After all the arranging was done, we went our separate ways.
“No, my man. You mis-remember. You told me I wasn’t no singer per se. And you was gon’ do the vocals. Which was when I decided, ‘Singer per se my ass. Bet you Umma sing on this bitch.” JD, at that point, pretty much loses it, cracking up laughing. It’s, of course, contagious and start laughing, too. Next thing you know me and JD are howling like hyenas, the Rock Bottom waiter putting on a polite, game face but clearly wandering what on earth is wrong with us.
I can’t bite my burger for fear of choking on it. Finally, we calm down. And leave it at he’ll consider covering my songs from our session, “Lady Midnight” and “End It All Over Again”. I press, “You and [his sister] Jevetta? Y’all do ‘End It”, I’ll retire and be sittin’ fat and happy on some Caribbean island.”
At length, he has business to tend to. Rehearsing for a gig at the Dakota with some other folk, including Jevetta Steele (who, okay, last shameless plug, starred in Mixed Blood Theatre’s Point Of Revue for which J.D. scored my contribution, Dues). Me, I have to get it in gear to meet a deadline at MSR. But, it was dynamite hanging with J.D. Steele. Who knows? He may actually record my music. At the very least, he’s agreed to buy a copy of Something I Said. Any way you slice it, a productive afternoon.
CORRECTION: Typos corrected, 1/25/2014.