A few months ago, I decided to go back into my interview archives and post a few more live interviews. One that I treasure is that of an African American cosplayer at San Diego Comic Con International 2015. That year, as well as 2016, my intent was to photograph a diversity of coslplayers.
And, I specifically wanted to include a sample of the growing numbers of African American cosplayers.
Michonne Cosplayer and Delores Fisher
Aqualad cosplayer and Delores Fisher
Rumors about putting racialized and gender spins on old favorite comic book super heroes crackled in 2015 Comic Con’s already electric atmosphere. Marvel seemed to be at the helm of comic bookdom’s diversity explosion. However, I was more interested in whether or not some of the folks I talked to were aware of DC Comics now defunct “Milestone” project. As young “Flash” and I continued to share perspectives, an African American Batman cosplayer arrived and added to our off camera discussion.
Flash and Batman cosplayers
This young cosplayer was willing to share his thoughts.
In reality, our heroes come in all shapes, sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, ages, with various disabilities and abilities. If we are blessed . . . our first super heroes are everyday mom and dads.
What happens when dreams and gifts are placed on a shelf in order to meet the daily demands of our lives? Do we ever think about life choices once we’ve chosen a path that seems right at the time?
Many of you are probably pausing in reflection, internally saying, “Hmm?” or “Unmh!”
Gayle McNeal graciously donated her time, models, and designs to an arts community event in Southeast San Diego over a year ago. (I’ve been meditating a while about posting her interview— releasing it into this electronic crossroads we call the Internet). Gayle and I talked after the show about her awakening to personal agency and positive potential.
She agreed to say a few words from her unique perspective on why and how to revive a gift, a talent placed in a background limbo/alternate dream world I call personal goals abandoned or unexplored, always ever present in our heart–unforgotten.
These are only a couple of her original designs . . .
It was a delayed reaction teachable moment, this exchange between student and teacher. It seemed to happen a lot last semester. I tried an experiment to allow myself “to be more open,” to engage students in conversation and critical reflection about their interests in Hip Hop culture and Rap. The Africana Studies 476 History and Culture of Hip Hop class explores the multiple layers of Hip Hop’s socio-cultural dynamics across a continuum of over forty years now. Yes . . . the music and the culture are over 40 years “young.”
(Happy Birthday to a phenom that continues to morph into Afro Futurism through to Retro Urban Funkedeliciousness!)
Warren Williams is a man with many talents. Originally from New Orleans, he has a deep rolling bass voice that reminds me of those 1960s R&B singers who break into soulful raps about love found, lost, and regained . . . the dulcet tone voice that charms and soothes at the same time. He is always ready for a conversation.
His life narrative continues to intrigue me. He has re-invented himself after several very difficult challenges. Many of us have had to re-create ourselves after life challenges. One day at a time is more than a folk saying . . . it is how most of us in the dawning of our new life phases live each day’s “moment to moment experiences.” Warren, also a poet, advocates the arts as a way to not only overcome hardship, but also as a way to open doors for people to interact with the world and others in all walks of life.
As artists, we share many of the same perspectives and have appeared on the same stage at poetry open mic events.
Warren Williams and Delores Fisher
An avid craftsmen, Warren doesn’t just take random commissions, he talks personally to his clients to better understand what they want functionally and aesthetically in a walking cane. He carves each African themed cane individually, with lengths ranging from three feet to almost seven feet.
Various walking canes carved by Warren Williams
This is his story in his words . . . . . .
Warren believes that opportunities to inspire, to positively share our unique creative abilities is a gift.
Warren Williams and Delores Fisher
He continues to encourage and support artists in all genres to keep setting new goals and dreams, to explore and expand their creative world.
Kenneth Card is a very unusual man. At a time of life when many look forward to sitting back and relaxing, he’s recorded a new CD, performs in the San Diego area, and he is one of the guitar teachers at Garrett’s Band Instruments in Lemon Grove ! http://www.garrettmusic.com/lessons/lessons.html
Ken plays several string instruments, including the banjo. His wit is dry, and a bit quirky. And yes, when it comes to music, his taste is eclectic.
This informal interview allows a quick peak into this gifted musician’s personality.
Ken has experience as a soloist and also as an accompanist. We have fun doing impromptu duets from time to time. I love the Blues and so does he. One day during a quiet summer afternoon at the studios at Garrett’s, we were between students. Ken and I took a little time out to improvise, jam for a few minutes. We named the song “Breaktime Blues.”
A year ago or so when I was trying to get a feel for one of my “heartsick” poems, Ken heard me rehearsing the lines. It was flu season. I walked into his studio. We both had a lesson cancellation due to student illness. We used our downtime to brainstorm an accompaniment. He created a minimalist background, a raw cut for my original poem “Please Go Away” on my spoken word CD (alas . . .still in production).
Kenneth Card, a musician who supports others as he continues to explore his musical horizons.
Walter Gentry is an all around sax man of few words. He likes to let his music talk for him. I met Walter on the wharf by the Midway Museum one very sunny tourist filled summer San Diego morning last year as I was taking a stroll. His music stopped me in my tracks. He has a soulful sound that fills the air and with sonic richness.
Like many of the buskers in Seaport Village and the Embarcadero area, we are gradually getting acquainted. Walter is one of the “Blues in the Schools San Diego” program musicians in which he and other local musicians bring Blues music to schools through workshops and performances. http://blusd.org/bits/
Walter and I often talk about music education in the 21st century, gigs, musicians who have recently been ill or are now deceased. We speak of Daniel Jackson’s passing in very emotional and quiet voices (we both knew Danny). Danny and many of San Diego’s musicians mentored quite a few of us back in the day. Walter is a musician in this tradition.
One of Walter’s (and my) hope for the future? That school children throughout San Diego and the world get a chance to experience, enjoy, perform, and learn about music as more than disposable ear candy.
Buskers are an important part of the San Diego California pop and folk music scene. They are a broad spectrum of entertainers ranging from performance artists to musicians. And, the musicians are a unique busker subculture of varied ages and genres.
Several popular music groups that I partied to in the 70s and 80s have since splintered regrouped, and resurfaced. Some are part time buskers. These club, studio, and concert performers take their music to the people here in various public/free venues across the city. In the following interview, T-Bone and Kevin were filling in for saxophonist and educator Walter Gentry, who often leaves the club from time to time just to play music by the Midway museum on the Embarcadero.
Previously, on the 4th of July, I had heard Kevin and T-Bone jamming near Ruocco park http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/29/ruocco-park-opens-downtown-county-waterfront-park-/ down by the Tuna Boats. Tourists crowded around, sat in the park listening, or nodded their heads to the beat as the duo created an informed, multi-talented funktified ambiance by the water. We chatted a while between sets. I was hoping we would talk again. The opportunity came several weeks later.
T-Bone and Kevin remembered me! They were so much fun to talk to while on one of my late summer 2014 AM strolls that I stayed a while to listen after they set up. At the time of this video, they were playing all around LA and San Diego–and on occasion at Humphrey’s By the Bay.
Here’s the raw video–unedited–yes, I know part of my hand is in the picture–’cause it was just one of those kinda mornings . . .
A few years ago I had the opportunity to begin work on an extended summer music program for Southeast San Diego. I met the gifted Greg Mckinney. This is my first interview as a blogger. I have done many others since then, some with more finesse than others, but . . . well, this was the first.
Rabindra Srakar and Delores Fisher at Seaport Village
It is 2016 and I am revisiting an original post. Some of the people I’ve interviewed have become friends and acquaintances. Rabindra Sarkar (Ravi) and I have kept in touch over the years. He continues to wish for a world in which people find inner balance, a balance that will help us to interact with each other in a more human way.
Rabindra’s Work–balanced rocks
We have had many talks throughout the years through life’s twists and storms. 2015 was a difficult disruptive challenge that tested his inner balance and faith in our civility. He traveled oversees, seeking in deep pools of still spiritual waters. Recently returned, we talked about his additional deeply reflective trip to Nepal, Rabindra’s energy is restored.
Ravi and I met around end of 2011, beginning of 2012. In 2013, I worked on a project in which I conducted raw, unedited impromptu interviews of artists whom I had interacted with for several months–whose contributions to popular culture fascinated me. My 2016 interviews will not be quite so spontaneous. My focus, however, is still on those community based artists whose live catch my imagination.
Rabindra Sarkar and I first encountered each other in a downtown San Diego convenience store. The store clerk was speaking with Rabindra about interviews and increasing fame. I listened in without trying to be too obvious.After a few minutes, Ravi’s humble spirit glowed as they talked about his accomplishments.
The store at that time was on the corner of 7th and Broadway. It has since move to a different location only a couple of blocks away. Its owners have kept its small family neighborhood store atmosphere. Regulars and workers still know each other—at least on a superficial level. Workers come and go. Cashier/clerks have changed several times in the last three years.
In 2013 the store’s main clerk and I had talked about life experiences many times, so when he noticed me listening, he turned to me and began to talk about Ravi’s accomplishments. Rabindra stood silent and still. He seemed to search my face when the clerk said Ravi was a “rock balancer.” A few seconds later, I smiled. I realized I had seen his work and that it created excitement among locals and tourists at Seaport Village. Ravi smiled back gently, acknowledging the recognition in my eyes.
Ravi Sarkar and Delores Fisher
As a blogger, I was fascinated. We stood to the side in the store and talked for a while. At the end of our sharing, he smiled again and said quietly, “Call me Ravi.” We went our separate ways. All 2013, when ever we ran into each other on the Embarcadero, we always talked and updated each other on life.
Ravi Sarkar “Rock Whisperer”
We had a chance meeting on New Years Day 2013 when I was out for a morning stroll. He graciously granted an interview for my raw video interview project. It was one of the first three.
Ravi Sarkar and Delores Fisher at Seaport Village
Ravi and I continue to keep in touch, take time to share our lives, hopes, dreams, and expectations