Saturday, December 16, 2006
Can Tyrone get some Brotherly Love?
Philly, Dec. 8. Another city, another "Crash" moment. This one came courtesy of Ed, the manager of Haru, a chi-chi-fu-fu sushi-fusion spot in Philly where our girl Katrina made reservations for us to kick it after a DT reading. Clearly not realizing Katrina was black, Ed called her earlier in the day to warn her that a group had booked an event at the restaurant , so it wouldn't be the "usual Haru experience." Pressed to elaborate, Ed said it was going to be a "rappish, thuggish" vibe and mumbled something about somebody named Lloyd Banks. To be honest, we were ourselves scratching our heads wondering what the "bitty" was described on the event flier (as in, "Who is Sexiest Bitty in the City?") But the deejay was on point and the crowd didn't look any more thuggish than we did--The Natalies, a nonprofit exec, a physician, a political journalist and a white-collar government worker. We did get a kick out of seeing Ed squirm when Katrina introduced herself. OOOOOPS! Then we made Ed pose for this picture. To quote Maven: Please! Somebody! Help me!
Earlier that night, we read at the legendary Robin's Book in Philly. From jump, we had to work overtime to soften the furrowed eyebrows, crossed arms and foregone conclusions from the brothers on the front row. Other than one customer's lengthy soliliquy which started from Shaft, wandered over to Earth Wind and Fire, then concluded ten minutes later with an analysis of Ahhnold in Terminator, the discussion stayed on message: No, this is NOT a male-bashing book. But no, it's also not Angie Stone's song either. We are proud to say that the black men in the audience seemed to get that this was truly A New Look at our peers, coming from a place of love. We think it worked. We sold out all of the books in the store.
Imagine our surprise, then, that our toughest Philly critic turned out to be a black woman columnist who came to Robin's halfway into the reading and published a column about us the next week. Usually, we are just thrilled to have "Natalie" spelled without an 'h'. We shrugged when a couple academic types basically called us pseudo intellectuals. When a Detroit writer said we suffer from ADD, we took it in stride. But for this Inky columnist to accuse us of "Maligning Black Men," bringing to mind several notable contemporary novelists, their imitators and the crappy movie adaptations that followed---them is fighting words! Deep sigh. We promptly whipped up a letter to the editor, which the Philadelphia Inquirer told us is being considering for publication. We could not stand for such dribble to be floating around about DT based on half a book talk and apparently not reading past page 1 of the introduction, where we explain who Tyrone is. The Media! Huff.
Tyrone, we definitely feel your pain.