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Gregg Reese

Stories by Gregg

Better Brothers of Los Angeles recognizes individual achievement with second Truth Awards

Better Brothers of Los Angeles (BBLA) celebrated a successful first year of existence with their second annual “Truth Awards,” on March 5. Last year’s initial gala, held at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theatre on

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The underworld embraces diversity in ‘Triple Nine’

Diversity is in full effect in the recently released thriller “Triple Nine,” although most of its multi-ethnic cast fails to display any redeeming qualities during this 115-minute potboiler. The sheer number of characters

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Irreverent comic throws a life line to Hollywood as its’ Great Black Hope

Controversy is a funny thing. It alternatively (and sometime simultaneously) attracts and repels us. Back in 2005, Chris Rock was selected to be the first African American host of the 77th Academy Awards ceremony in an effort to give the show an “edge” by appealing to a youthful audience. However, well before the

Who got de money?

The seeds of diversity lie within the ability to fund dissimilar view points

Towards the close of this year’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), a mild murmur of disenchantment circulated among theater-goers about the closing night screening of the Miles Davis biopic, “Miles Ahead.”

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Prince protégé, Denise Matthews, dead at 57

Vanity renounced ‘party life’ for God

At the peak of her performing career, Denise Katrina Matthew’s unbridled sexuality drew comparisons to Tina Turner, but she abandoned it all to achieve tranquility as a born-again evangelist.

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Is there fear of the Black movie goer?

Perception and reality are two interchangeable states of being that can be alternatively in sync or oppositional (and contradictory).

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2016 Pan African Film Festival offers visual diversity

As the rest of the entertainment capital remains embroiled in a discussion of the question of diversity and

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Clarence “Blowfly” Reid, precursor to modern funk, hip hop dies at 76

Pioneering funk rapper Clarence “Blowfly” Reid died of liver cancer in a Florida hospice on Jan. 17. He was 76.

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Will Smith’s talents take a serious turn in ‘Concussion’

Half way through the newly released drama “Concussion,” an interesting exchange takes place between an African American actor playing an African and an African playing an African American. Adewake Akinnuoye-Agbaje (actually British of African

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Melvin Williams, inspiration for ‘The Wire,’ dead at 73

Melvin Douglas Williams, the legendary drug kingpin and hustler who inspired the

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reveals cerebral side with ‘Mycroft Holmes’

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has always generated attention for his basketball prowess, but at the same time he has spawned an equal amount of curiosity within the sports fan spectrum for his personality, which has never quite fit the mold of the stereotypical “jock.”

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Paris displays its schematic for social dysfunction

Attacks reflect discord, neglect

At the beginning of the year, Our Weekly looked into the conflicted history of race relations within the French republic.

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Semper Fidelis! An American legend is remembered

Jack McDowell was enjoying a beverage at a long-forgotten San Francisco drinking establishment in 1965, when a tall Negro (as they were known then) Marine Captain, resplendent in his service “A” olive green and khaki uniform, walked in.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin D.G. Kelley ponder racial injustice at library event

“… the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society, and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, to believe that they are White.”

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‘Morementum’ Entertainment seeks to smooth the rocky road to Hollywood

Alas, the road to fame and fortune is precarious and uncertain for even the most talented of us seeking to make our mark in Hollywood. There are long stretches of discouragement and opposition along the boulevard of broken dreams.

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Screening, discussion looks back on grisly legacy of the ‘Grim Sleeper’

In light of the recent spree of mass shootings across the country, focus is once again directed to the topic of gun control. All of this is well and good, but tends to overlook the reality that American violence is a fact of life with or without the inclusion of firearms.

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AFTERMATH: Fallout in the wake of the O.J. Simpson verdict

As the 1990s progressed, "Byrd" Thorpe could look back on a successful career climbing the corporate ladder at IBM. Seizing the opportunities afforded by affirmative action and the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, he'd carved out a comfortable living with a decent portfolio of rental properties and a comfortable home in Baldwin Hills. Just to keep busy in the idle hours of his retirement, he snagged a sideline selling office furniture.

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‘The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution’ underscores historic parallels

“Was he insane? F*** yeah that boy was crazy, and he got a lot of people hurt!” —Afro-Puerto Rican community activist

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‘Shetani’s Sister’ pits flawed vice cop against street sociopath

While most of Iceberg Slim’s (aka Robert Beck) underworld sagas take place in the frigid winters of the East Coast and Midwest, he spent the last three decades of his life (and the period in which he made his mark as a writer) in the relative tranquility of Los Angeles. This idyllic change of scenery proved to be as treacherous as the mean streets of his youth, however. His publisher, Holloway House, gouged him out of his fair share of the considerable profits he earned for them in much the same way that they exploited other chroniclers of the urban experience, like Donald Goins and Joe Nazel.

A cult icon is examined in ‘Street Poison’

Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, in terms of his impact on shaping our global cultural landscape, is probably now as essential reading as William Shakespeare. —Scottish novelist Irvine Walsh

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Julian Bond, charismatic activist and public servant, dead at 75

As the not so new millennium drones onward, and this country continues to be a cauldron of intolerance, this milestone suggests that the venerated memories of the Civil Rights era are not merely dusty entries to be pondered during a history lesson. The passing of active participants of this struggle only serves to highlight the lessons that may be applied to the continued specter of intolerance.

Was it worth it?

Looking at the Riots and their impact on the community

America’s obsession with anniversaries may be likened to an addiction. During the course of this year, in particular, we have or will commemorate the recurring date of numerous notable events.

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Inner City Romance

A mid-century take on cultural appropriation

Alternative publications purport to offer a fresh take on subjects covered by the mainstream media, and often tackle taboo, off-limit issues avoided by the establishment.

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Balancing Act

Muslims and law enforcement negotiate a slippery slope towards mutual understanding

The holy month of Ramadan (June 17 to July 17, 2015) is considered one of the “five pillars” of the Islamic faith. As the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it is also the period during which the faith's central religious text, the Quran, was first revealed.

Home grown terror:‘Days of Rage’ looks back on the war within

“During an 18-month period in 1971 and 1972, the FBI reported more than 2,500 bombings on American soil—nearly five a day. Yet less than 1 percent of the 1970s-era bombings led to a fatality: The single deadliest radical-underground attack of the decade killed four people.”

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(Not so) overnight sensation

Jazz singer Ed Reed enjoys a thriving career as an octogenarian

One of the many memorable quotes left to us by novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald is his observation that, “There are no second acts in American lives,” which has been widely interpreted to mean that we can never recover from early failures.

Dual talents of Les McCann on display with “Invitation to Openness”

Mixing musical genres is such a given in contemporary entertainment that one is tempted to believe that this is a new phenomenon. In actuality, this co-mingling of “tropes” or stylistic embellishments associated with specific musical idioms to create new and different effects, has been around since the first immigrants to the New World intentionally put together sounds to amuse themselves.

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Race Films

A tale of two distinct motion picture cultures

The saga of the development of American society is a study of the progression of very distinct cultures. This flies in the face of the landmark National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (better known as the Kerner Commission) of 1968, which proclaimed that the “…nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal.”

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The Medal

Coveted by the high and mighty, the Medal of Honor is the symbol of America’s valiant elite

“Someone could receive the Medal of Honor because they are suicidal; or stupid; or grandiose; or lucky; or opportunistic; because they were in the wrong place at the right time; or because they were courageous.”

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Deprived of dignity

Black males encumbered by the weight of racial discrimination

When I glanced at this week’s F.B.I.’s “10 most wanted” list, I was mildly surprised when I saw that no one on it was Black (closer examination did reveal former Black Liberation Army member and alleged cop killer Joanne Deborah Chesimard, better known as Assata Olugbata Shakur, aunt and godmother of the iconic rapper Tupac Shakur, on the list of most wanted terrorists).

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The (Inverted) American Dream

As the Millennium progresses, America may be following the rest of the world down the path to global inequality.

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement ... a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

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Entertainment bigwigs explore systemic bias at a Writers Guild panel discussion

Bias remains a constant factor embedded within the psyche of each and every one of us, regardless of our individual aspirations towards open- mindedness and liberal thought.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books celebrates it’s 20th anniversary

Fifteen years into a not-so-new millennium, we have come to the realization that computer “glitches” will not cripple society and electronic devices have not spelled the end of the printed page.

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Better Brothers of LA presents inaugural Truth Awards

“Thank you for going on a journey with Better Brothers Los Angeles and attending our Inaugural Truth Awards Ceremony Saturday evening. Your presence fulfilled our dream of creating a space where the Black LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) community could gather and honor its own. You are all now witnesses to that creation!!"’

Church group mounts an updated version of the ‘Resurrection’ story in new play

The collaboration between the church and theatre continues to be an intriguing and viable outlet, especially here in Los Angeles, a locale that curiously does not have a thriving stage culture, in spite of the humongous acting population drawn here by the allure of the film and television industry.

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Point of View

America through the eyes of expatriates

Years from now, historians may well regard this era as a transitional period in the evolution of race relations, much like the mid-20th century. As we wind down to the end of the administration of the first non-White male president, the subject of color is as contentious and nebulous as it has ever been in the two and a half centuries of this country’s existence.

L.A. Writers Conference at Mount Saint Mary’s

Largely overshadowed by the presence of UCLA and USC, two pre-eminent institutions of higher learning in Los Angeles County, Mount Saint Mary’s University remains a unique presence as the only independent college for women locally. With dual campuses nestled near both the city’s major universities (the Brentwood campus houses its undergraduate program), the Catholic liberal arts school has recently launched a new co-educational masters of fine arts program in creative writing at its Doheny campus near University Park USC.

Loyola Marymount hosts look at Afrofuturism

Conference explores art, culture and the ‘Black esthetic’

Novelist Ishmael Reed once described his writing technique as “making something whole from scraps,” or more to the point, “the gumbo style,” meaning that his work was steeped in the European literary tradition, and also shaped by popular culture as produced by the commingling of influences in the new world.

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A Black History memoir: The legacy of Malcolm X

Fifty years ago this week, a crowd filed into Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on a Sunday afternoon. The Audubon was a multi-purpose building that hosted a variety of events, including festivals, movie screenings, and religious services. But today, however, it was being utilized for another, different type of event entirely. The crowd had gathered to attend a meeting of the newly formed Organization of African American Unity, with its keynote speaker one of the most controversial and polarizing figures in America: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, more commonly known as Malcolm X.

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Spike Lee shifts film focus to horror in “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus”

First off, let me start by admitting that I’ve never seen “Ganja and Hess,” the 1973 blaxploitation landmark from which Spike Lee’s newly released “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” is derived. That said, I’ll take as gospel all the press releases asserting that this remake sticks close to the original’s script (Lee includes writer-director Bill Gunn in the credits for this latest effort).

Pan African Film Festival promotes diversity in a year of industry conflict

Already underway, this year’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) which ends on Feb. 16, is all the more interesting in light of the barrage of criticism due to the scarcity of nominations for people of color at the Academy Awards.

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The spook left out in the cold

“…Sterling was not only employed by the C.I.A., but he worked as an operations officer—meaning he worked clandestinely. Thus, the factual details of the case, which would otherwise be unremarkable, (redacted) potentially, compromise the C.I.A.’s operations…”

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Melrose gallery offers up urban themed artifacts

Since the early 1980s, the shopping, entertainment, and dining Mecca along Melrose Avenue has been a go-to spot for hipsters and scene makers who frequent Los Angeles’ fashionable West Side. While it strives to project a trendy persona ranging from fancy to funky, the overall economic reality of this Hollywood adjacent enclave is decidedly upscale. Recently, a new arrival in the neighborhood has offered up an intriguing option for diversity in the area. Unofficially in business for several months, the Exact Science Gallery held its formal opening Jan. 24 to coincide with the upcoming Black History Month celebration.

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... and the winner isn’t:

Legitimate Complaint or Sour Grapes? The pros and cons of Oscar omission

“The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets.” —Al Sharpton in a statement released on the afternoon after this year’s Oscar nominations.

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Race relations in France: a history of denial and uncertainty

"African Americans discover in Paris the terms by which they can define themselves. It's the freedom to work beyond the assumptions of what we can and can't do as African Americans. It's a different rhythm and pace. We can imagine ourselves in new ways in that space."

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Black documentarians offer networking opportunities

Also provide peek at works in progress

To say that narrative filmmaking dominates the local movie industry is a gross understatement. Depictions of make believe shape civilization and culture across the globe, a social manifestation that surpasses even the considerable monetary influence of the entertainment industry. Yet the medium of the documentary is well represented within the shadow of Hollywood, as manifested by the turnout for the annual holiday party for the Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers, better known as BADWest. The event was held Dec. 3 at the Writer’s Guild of America, West.

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In search of ‘The One’

George Clinton and the road to Afrofuturism and Astro-Blackness

Not merely escapist fantasy, science fiction does in fact make positive contributions to society, albeit in an indirect way. Generations of innovators have used these yarns as sources of inspiration, and as a portal to the future.

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Doctor Funkenstein explains it all

George Clinton chronicles his musical odyssey in a printed memoir

Once upon a time, there was a barbershop in a Black enclave in the wilds of deepest, darkest New Jersey, circa the 1950s. Like similar establishments, it was a hub of the cultural and social life of the neighborhood, and dispensed chemically straightened “processed” hair, and other, more conservative styles to a clientele of picturesque characters who often earned a living skirting the propriety of the legal system.

Darkening of the GOP: What does it mean?

Three Black Republicans win historic elections

The recent election results have flown in the face of conventional wisdom. After a disastrous presidential defeat in 2012, the Republican Party regrouped and gained control over the Senate while solidifying their sway over the House.

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Cold War memories from the turret of a Pershing tank

Next week marks the celebration of the Marine Corps birthday (Nov. 10) and Veteran’s Day (Nov. 13). In order to acknowledge both occasions at once, Our Weekly presents the story of a bona fide military pioneer who bridged the gap between World War II and the Cold War.