Who’d’ve Thunk It?
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 was scratching her head to fill the slot left after Sheletta Brundidge (sp?) had quit writing the Down Low Brother soap opera series. Tracey had a meeting of the minds with senior editor Jerry. Neither of them had any more sense than to have him come to me with the preposition, “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 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. Even someone dumb as me can add that and submit One Going, One Staying. Tracey thought the title was boring. So did Jerry, but, much as I dig the cat, what does he know about pithy titles? I snatched the headline off yet another oldie, an essay for Mpls/St. Paul Magazine 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.
Tracey and Jerry agreed the title worked and we were off to the races. Readers ate it up with a knife and fork. And, here it is, a year later and I’m twisting Jerry’s arm to have me over his crib for an anniversary celebration.
Elsewise, soon as he’s done proofing the manuscript, Black & Single Blues has enough episodes in the can to last ’til Spring. And will 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.
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. “Man, what happened? You put me off the project. Kicked me to the curb.”
“No, my man. You mis-remember. You told me I wasn’t no singer per se. I got off the phone, lip all stuck out and resolved, Singer per se my ass. Bet you Umma sing on this bitch.” JD, at that point, pretty much lost it, laughing like laughing was about to go out of style. Tickled my own self, I couldn’t bite my burger for fear of choking on it. We left it at he’d consider covering my songs from our session, “Lady Midnight” and “End It All Over Again”. I pressed, “You and Jevetta? Y’all do ‘End It”, I’ll be sittin’ happy as a hog in shit on some Caribbean island.”
At length, he had business to tend to. Rehearsing for a gig at the Dakota with some other folk, including his sister the even more famous 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 had to get it in gear to meet this or that deadline for one or the other publication. Glad as hell to have hooked up with one of the few local celebrities who doesn’t just bullshit about how much they supposedly appreciate my covering them, but actually sits down and kicks the Willy-Bobo. My man. J.D. Steele.