The event is organized by the African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County and their incredible executive director, Latarsha Burke. Now, Latarsha is married to my second cousin Andre Burke, so it was so nice to speak with her recently about her life and work, not just to see her at a family function.
This lady loves Trenton and is a part of the positive changes we’re seeing around town. Click the link above and check out the next event on June 1st.
For March, I wrote this article about the collaboration of Raymond Strife and Ill Omega (Darnell Storey) called Go For The Gusto.
It’s so fun to interview musicians, especially artists from my hometown of Trenton, NJ. This is what I think of when haters hate on Trenton, “Get out of there…Trenton has nothing that’s cool.” These are ALWAYS people who never come to Trenton and really have no idea what’s happening here. It’s sort of our membership club. I’m learning to laugh the haters off.
Raymond is from Lawrence. Darnell is from Lawrence. But they both now live within the city limits of Trenton and are both part of the city’s heartbeat. Check them out at a show. We haven’t seen the lineup for Art All Night yet, but I trust these guys will draw a crowd. Oh, and listen to the album HERE. You need that in your life. Trust me.
Ed Forchion, also known as The NJ Weedman, and I met in 2012 while he was still living in South Jersey, where he’s from. So was I, and I interviewed him at his mom’s house in Sicklerville during a monster snow storm. I didn’t care if no editors were interested in his real story. I put it on my old website, fuck ’em. He told me all about the Giant Cell Tumors on his knee and about his time in Philly and Cali. After we talked we smoked a joint in my car. I don’t even remember the snow on the drive home. I only remember the turn out of his mom’s neighborhood and back onto the main roads after spending a few hours with him talking about his life and his activism. He only smokes the best shit. I’m glad Ed’s based in Trenton now. I’m glad I came back home too.
So I jumped at the chance to interview him again about what’s happening in his life now. He recently served 447 days in jail on charges he’s now suing the police department over, an attempt he says to shut down his shop, called NJ Weedman’s Joint — a sanctuary for weed and food and good fellowship on East State Street in Trenton — he’s now in danger of losing.
In November of 2017 I wrote a letter of support to Cyntoia Brown, the woman who’d made national news for being locked up for freeing herself from her captor and abuser. I posted it as a blog as well. In December nobody knew she’d be soon granted clemency by Tennessee governor Bill Haslem, she’d just been told she’d need to serve more than 50 years in prison before parole, per Tennessee law.
After reading that information, I fell down the rabbit hole of other real life examples of women who were/are punished for defending themselves from either domestic abusers or LGBT/Q attacks and I felt like I needed to do something about that.
So, I pitched an idea. I wanted it to go far and wide, so I pitched a national publication. It was one I’d never pitched before. Lo and behold, because of the timeliness of the idea and how tight the idea was, the editor got back to me on the same day. That almost never happens. What’s more, Sister Cyntoia received her clemency date during the time I was writing the article, so I needed to hurry up and file it so it’d still be timely by the time the editing process was finished.
It came out pretty good. And I’ll be pitching more ideas to Rolling Stone in the future. Their culture editor Elisabeth Garber-Paul is fantastic to work with. Read my article on Cyntoia Brown HERE.
Chris Seldon is easily the most appreciative source I’ve ever interviewed for publication. He’s talented and humble and kind and I could see immediately why the two people I know — who don’t know each other — simply swear by him and won’t let anyone else tattoo them. I just had to write a story on him.
We met one cold and rainy Sunday afternoon at Timeless Tat2, where he works, and he had his girlfriend Amber with him. Wow, is she gorgeous. I was sure to tell her that and she of course was the 4,952,022 person to tell me about my uncanny resemblance to Tracee Ellis Ross. I don’t ever mind that comparison, although I always remind folks that I’m two years older than Tracee, so SHE looks like me. Teehee!
Chris gave me a great interview with thoughtful answers and even gave me permission to mention his seven-year-old daughter in the article. This is one of my favorites, guys. Check it out HERE.