Sunday, August 9, 2009

Still overdosing on Soul

We came in search of soul....we had been Lil Wayned to death, Souja Boy told out and turned off....

We were searching for a return of "real" music, slow drag music, make you day dream in the middle of the day music, make you make that 3am phone call music and we weren't disappointed.

The kickoff Soul Overdose for the "Be You" music series transformed Tabaq Bistro on U Street into the ultimate "Juke Joint" of days past. The event marked the beginning of a partnership of Risikat (Kat) Okedeyi founder of LiL SoSo Productions (LSP) and Smirnoff Vodka for the "Be YOU" series. Kat explained that, "The concept behind the "Be You" series is to give a platform to artists often overlooked in the wake of disposable mainstream music. I wanted to get back to music pure and simple"

Picture drums thumping, fingers snapping, hips swaying to hypnotic beats and the spirit of Shug Avery resurrected in pint size powerhouse Yahzarah also know as Purple St. James.

Yahzarah wasn't a name I was familiar with before July's Soul Overdose but it's one I won't soon forget. She didn't just turn the place out, she turned it upside down, with her uncontainable energy after entering on a wave of harmony supplied by her equally divalious back up singers. Rocking an all purple accented, motherland inspired mini, the petite performer wowed the crowd by delivering her entire set from the bar the top of the bar much to the crowd's delight. (Equally impressive was the fact that the bartender continued serving drinks without skipping a beat!)

However, "The Purple One" proved to be a tasty appetizer to the yummy sexy soul of N'digo Rose who had the crowd in the palm of his hand the moment he slid behind the keyboard. Flashing a Colgate and sultry vocals, midnight came much too soon.

Kat informed the crowd that this was just a taste of what was to come! The "Be You" series is set to run through November with songstress N'dambi as the main event at Busboys and Poets 8/19/09. For more information of the Be You series visit:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You must not know bout me!

Ohh Solange is serving up the drama! She better watch her back though, Monica Jackson used to be a traffic reporter in Detroit and is no stranger to fistfights in the newsrooms!

Monica Jackson, the new traffic reporter at KVVU-TV, Channel 5, comes to town towing some colorful baggage.

Jackson, who started at Fox5 on Monday, made headlines in Detroit two years ago when she got in an off-camera catfight with a morning anchor.

Here's the play-by-play: The altercation erupted on the set of Detroit's WXYZ-TV, according to published news accounts, as the result of a "festering personality conflict" between Jackson, a traffic reporter at the ABC affiliate at the time, and morning anchor Carolyn Clifford.

At the heart of the issue, the story goes, was Jackson's unhappiness that she lost out on the morning anchor spot given to Clifford.

"Jackson made no secret of her disdain for Clifford," reported the Detroit News, "going so far as to stop referring to her by name on the air." Clifford began responding in kind.

One morning, tempers got hotter than radiators during a traffic jam.

Off-camera taunts and finger-pointing led to chest bumping. Push led to shove, which led to a hair-yanking fracas before a male co-anchor broke it up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When Getting close to Nature goes Wrong!

So many of you have asked and let me start by saying: I DID NOT TOUCH THAT MONKEY!

There now that that's out of the way.....what had happened was:

A group of fellow travel writers and I were visiting a Mayan village in rural Tulum, Mexico and everything started off great. I was looking forward to an afternoon of cultural exchange and nature. I didn't realize what an intimate view I would experience. Our tour bus pulled into the village and to our surprise there were two Spider monkeys tied to a tree. The other writers immediately let out cries of protest about the inhumanity of their treatment as the two little monkeys inspired by their concern shivered and wrapped their arms around themselves. They looked utterly helpless and yeah even I can admit it now....utterly adorable.

In hindsight, I must say, I'm from Detroit, I should have sensed the scam a mile away!

One of the writers, I'll call her "Georgia Peach" declared in her sweetest voice, "All they need is love!" With that she scooped up a monkey and cradled him in her arms as the rest of the press group lovingly snapped photos.

Encouraged by this display, MY photographer suggested/(set me up) that I pose with the remaining monkey. Let me just say, I was raised in a concrete jungle so I get no joy out of interactions with live animals, people are sometimes scary enough. So I wasn't too keen or excited about my impromptu photo shoot. However, against my better judgment, I crouched down and things quickly went down hill!

You see, after the second snap, Mr monkey reached out his hand to me and beckoned his little monkey fingers for me to take his hand. He was walking towards the bush at the time and wanted me to follow. When I refused, he became enraged (like many men, he didn't take rejection well) and jumped on my shoulder and tried to steal my wig!

Now, I didn't have any other hair pieces in Mexico so I fought bravely to save my divadom. (I couldn't be in Mexico without my hair piece!)

During this exchange Georgia peach also experienced monkey rage when she tried to put down her monkey who in turn grabbed her by the neck and screamed in her face!

As we both simultaneously were being attacked you would think our fellow breathen would have come to our assistance but noooooooo. This group stuck to their journalistic duties and became a bevy of paparazzi to capture a digitally play by play for all to enjoy leaving me to be rescued by our driver who laughed at me as well.

So there you have it friends, Heed my warning, don't get too close to nature! It can be bad for your health and most importantly, your hair piece!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The return of a Drama Queen

So today is private auditions for the revival of our stageplay Voices In My head. I'm exciting to announce most of the original cast is returning so we only have a few spots to fill. Detroit has ALOT of drama going on right now so hopefully I can take some of it off the street and direct it to the stage!

Friday, August 24, 2007

St. Lucia

This was the trip that almost convinced me to run away from really, after just four days at this island paradise, I was ready to join a Caribbean Dance troupe and settle into my own private hut in this quiet fishing community. The breathtaking ocean views, tantalizing cuisine, fun-filled days of adventures, and lazy afternoons by the pool at the Coconut Bay Spa and Resort tempted me daily to chuck away city life for good. I had never been so pampered, never felt so carefree, I was 100% completely spoiled and I loved every minute of it.

Coconut Bay Resort Pool
Poolside at Coconut Bay

The Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa not only offers a relaxing escape for busy professionals but also serves as tropical escape for couples, families and kids. The quiet getaway nestled on 84 coconut palm-fringed acres along St. Lucia’s south coast boasts 254 guest-rooms, three swimming pools, Kai Mer Spa, a full service spa, Kidz Club and the island's largest water park. There’s a little something for everyone, from the adventure seeker to the pampered princess, this resort offers an array of activities to fit every heart’s desire.

For me, this adventure started off good and got progressively better with each passing day. After being bumped up to first class upon check in at the airport, the six-hour flight from the Midwest seemed painless (especially after my second glass of champagne.)

Upon arrival I was greeted with a lovely drink of island brewed Coconut Rum served in a real coconut to enjoy while reception checked me into my room. Shortly after, I was invited to tour the grounds, which to my surprise, were much larger than I expected. I discovered that the property hosts tennis & basketball courts, a hiking trail, and complete fitness center for those more athletically inclined and a kid’s area appropriately called the Kidz Club that lists an array of activities for children aged 3-14.

In addition, the resort features two specialty restaurants: Silk, offering Asian Cuisine, and Bellagio Italian, a la carte dining, as well as Coconut Walk, a buffet-style restaurant, a relaxed beachside grill, three bars, and a swim-up pool bar.

We sampled each restaurant and my favorite by far was Silk, although I ate daily at the beachside grill due to convienece. (The grill stayed open from sun up to sun down making it possible for you to snack throughout the day on burgers, fries and popular American cuisine. The fact that it is centrally located makes it a convenient pit stop.)

The layout of the resort features two seemingly different worlds within one property. Guestrooms were divided into two separate wings: Families stay in rooms closer to all the action of the Cocoland Water Park and Kidz Klub, while the wing for adults is situated near the Kai Mer Spa and adult-only area, complete with cabana beds and hammocks. The design allows for adults to enjoy quiet time without kids, and for families to spend time together and away while teens and kids visit their own supervised areas.

During my stay, I enjoyed a premium suite on the fourth floor of the hotel facing the spa and adult pool. Every room includes at least a partial view of the ocean from the balcony, while premium rooms on my floor offered unobstructed views.

Coconut Bay Guest Room
Coconut Bay Guest Room

Reserving a room with either a king-size bed or two queen-size beds also gets you a comfortable, separate sitting area and private balcony with your package.

Basic room amenities include air conditioning, ceiling fans, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, in-room safe, iron, ironing board and bathroom with shower and hairdryer. Wireless internet connection is also available in certain locations on property. I was able to connect to for a small fee.

Kidz Corner
CocoLand offers two schedules. CocoKidz for children ages 3-9 and CocoAdventure for ages 10-14. Both give children access to the island’s largest water park with waterslides, lazy river and water play ground. In addition, children enjoy arts and crafts, games, nature trails, outdoor expeditions, an air-conditioned club house, and quiet napping quarters.

Upon registration each child is gifted with a CocoPack which includes a T-shirt, bag, hat, mini scrapbook and water bottle to keep the kids cool during outdoor fun. As children participate in the various CocoLand activities, they will receive a different gift each day until they have the complete set. Keeping in mind that children of varied ages have different abilities and interests, additional activities include dancing, singing, and treasure hunts throughout the grounds that allow parents to catch a glimpse of activities. In turn, Teens can find fun at Da Buzz, the resort club for 13-17 year olds complete with X-Box 360’s, soda and snack bar, movies and organized activities.

Family Fun Adventure
St. Lucia offers an array of offsite activities; guests can take advantage of the great excursions at the Adventure St. Lucia Desk. Thrill seekers can ride ATVs, zipline through the rainforest on a canopy tour or hike the Piton Mountains. Water-lovers can head offsite for snorkeling, scuba diving, wind surfing or kit boarding.

I’m not a big fan of water sports but I did conquer my swimming phobia on this trip with the encouragement of fellow journalists and island natives. After 45 minutes of flapping uncontrollably in the water and three solid minutes of crying, I learned how to float and utilize my scuba gear. With my irrational fear of drowning in three feet of water quelled, I ventured out into deeper waters and with the aid of two life jackets and several lifeguards, stuck my face underwater in order to observe several rocks as I had long scared off any fishes with my earlier clumsy attempts at scuba diving.

Therefore, my recommendation for an unforgettable family fun adventure is to experience the ATV & Canopy Tours.

ATV Tours
On our ATV adventure we were guided along designated tracks to explore untouched areas of St. Lucia including a banana plantation and old growth rainforest. ATV Paradise Tours Ltd. is located on 1,000 acres of lush tropical land with over 40 different fruit trees, tropical plants and flowers in Fond Estate, Micoud, on the East coast of Saint Lucia. Our three-hour tour included stunning mountain top views and authentic island cuisine hosted by St. Lucia banana farmers. We explored the grounds at a leisurely pace, allowing us opportunity to glimpse exotic flowers and even stop for a swim in the clearest, warmest water I’ve ever experienced at a local private beach. At the conclusion of the tour, I walk along the vendor stands on the road outside the property. There I sampled another island favorite--Banana wine--which retailed at $15 US and banana butter for $3 US.

Canopy Tour/Zipline
This exciting excursion is for the more daring adventure seekers. Located in the heart of the rainforest, patrons enjoy a bird’s eye view as you zip through nine platforms on a system of harnesses and pulleys suspended in the air. This adventure offers a unique view of the tropical forest and river as you literally fly with the greatest of ease! Trained guides are stationed at each platform to assist and provide you with information and safety procedures throughout the course.

I absolutely loved zip-lining! My adrenalin kicked into high gear as I was strapped in and led up the trail for the first jump. The first platform was the lowest and shortest jump, and I volunteered to go first. The guide explained how to work the pulleys as he strapped me to the lines that connected to the cable above me. He calmly explained how I could brake to control my free fall and what to do if I got stuck midway through.

The first jump went seamlessly, nevermind the fact that I screamed and shouted obscenities the whole way. When I landed at the second platform unhurt and intact, I was hooked! Each jump after went higher and spanning longer distances. I sailed over a small pond and climped higher and higher to a final jump 50 feet in the air towering over trees and streams.

Caribbean Night
Two nights per week, the staff joins together to hosts special theme nights- Caribbean and BBQ Night. During these evenings, dinner is served buffet style around the pool and guests are entertained by a live band playing the sounds of the Caribbean. I had the opportunity to attend Caribbean Night which was held on Saturday evening and was peppered with performances by Coconut Bay staff and a showcase of the Kidz Club guests before the main show. In addition to Caribbean, the band also played top forty and Motown tunes to the crowd pleasure.

Breathing Fire on Caribbean Night
Breathing Fire on Caribbean Night

Midway through the night, we were treated to a performance of island dancers and fire breathers. The troupe invited audience members to join them on stage and I was chosen to participate in the snake dance which consists of a jig with a boa constrictor wrapped around your neck. I danced with vigor until I discovered I was indeed dancing with a real snake and not a fake rubber one as I had originally believed!

The highlight of the evening, however, was having one of the flame throwers attempt to teach me how to eat fire--a skill I’m sure I will utilize at dinner parties and backyard barbeques for years to come.

Adults Only
For parents searching for quiet moments and relaxation away from the children and bustle of the family-oriented resort, the Kai Mer offers the perfect "getaway within a getaway". The full service spa is located oceanfront and features ocean view treatment rooms with private outdoor showers, a relaxation lounge, Swiss hydro shower, two steam rooms and two saunas. It offers an extensive selection of treatments including some for couples only.

Coconut Bay’s signature spa services include ocean front massages, which I sampled--relaxing so much I fell asleep halfway through! Also available is Coconilla –a combination treatment, and a "choose your own aloe" experience. The spa is also a full service beauty salon providing a variety of hair and nail treatments.

I arrived at the spa in the late afternoon and was led to a private room to change into my coveted white terry cloth rode. A bamboo-lined deck housed the outside massage area, where I disrobed and settled in for relaxation as the waves served as a gentle soundtrack in the background.

Coconut Bay Resort Spa
Couples Massage Room at Coconut Bay

I think it was during my pampering session that I began to have serious reservations about returning home. The entire experience seemed so surreal. In one weekend I had overcome a childhood phobia, danced with a snake and repelled through the rainforest suspended 50 feet in the air. The only thing that topped my adventure was the attentiveness of the resort’s friendly and professional staff, my endless access to jerk chicken and coconut rum and perfect island weather. I had found the closest thing to heaven on earth as possible and I was not willing to leave without a fight.

I weighed my options, I could join the dance troupe and learn how to breathe fire so I'd be able to spend a fair amount of time working at the resort… I could become a chef and work at Silk, so I could sample their cuisine daily...

In the end, the prospect of life change proved to be too overwhelming during my pamper time and instead I decided to focus on enjoying my last moments of paradise as the therapist worked out any lingering signs of stress in my tired muscles.

My final day at the resort began with a cup of tea and quiet reflection on my balcony. I packed my suitcase with the silence of a mourner and slowly made my way to the reception area for check out. I took a final stroll of the grounds and smiled with reverence at the beach grill as a silent goodbye to my favorite haunt. I fought the urge of throwing myself on the ground in protest as I passed the spa and sauna and slowly made my way towards the exit. As the shuttle arrived to take me to the airport, I was handed a coconut filled with island rum and I smiled to myself at the circle of completion. My mission of relation had been accomplished and it was time to go home… at least until I could perfect my fire breathing act!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Discovering Purpose

I am a writer. It took me 27 years to discover that. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise; writing has always been a part of me. Since the age of nine, I have kept a journal. I would faithfully chronicling the adventures of my day in my crooked, oversized handwriting. Throughout the years my penmanship improved and as did my adventures. The days of chronicling my lunch choices and favorite books were replaced with stories of scandal and adventures. There were several books of love struck ramblings of the teenage heart to self reflection and self awareness of adulthood.

I have always had a flair for the dramatic. Instead of teen heartthrobs photos of Bette Davis adorned my room. I wrote monologues as entertainment. In my sophomore year of high school, I found a home for that creative energy when Mr. Scott, my English teacher crowned me with the honor becoming the president of our schools drama club. It was the happiest time in my life! I learned to write and produce stage plays, working in every aspect of theatre from set design to costuming. I was in love.

I have always had this uncontainable creative energy. An energy that had me rocking lace gloves and blue hair (yes blue) during my teenage years in Detroit public schools. I was the “weird girl” who never quite fit in yet I was comfortable in my own skin. I wanted a life of adventure. I fantasized of a life filled with travel and scandalous love affairs.

Yet upon graduation, I cheated on the love of my life. I stopped writing. I instead enrolled in college and majored in Psychology because it sounded very adult and proper and I felt anything but that. I eventually landed a lucrative job in a factory as a production line worker. I was supposed to be happy. I had material wealth, a beautiful home, nice car yet I felt empty inside.

After 7 years of my “real job” I stepped out on faith and founded Red Haze Productions a theatre company and for three years I was blissfully happy and chronically broke. I have produced 6 stage plays and won critical acclaim. I’ve even performed on Broadway….in Detroit 1515 Broadway! I finally reached a happy median peddling my communication skills as a PR consultant by day and freelance writer by night. My assignments range from automotive, celebrity interviews, and travel adventures. I have been everywhere from red carpet premiers to obscure French restaurants to zip lining through the rain forest. I have never been happier.

My lifestyle is often chaotic and challenging. My career choices have left my grandmother in a daze each time I calmly explain that when I sit in front of the computer and write a check will eventually come in the mail.

As an adult, I still don’t quite fit in; I rock stilettos on during my automotive ride and drives. I write long and passionate poetry about the wonderment of white castle cheeseburgers. I quote Bette Davis with the spontaneity of Tourette’s syndrome but I’m ok with that now. It’s because finally I know who I am it’s what motivates me to wake up each morning and aim a little higher. I spent over two decades wondering who I was and what I was supposed to be when I knew for years. I’m a writer, I’m a teller of tales and adventure, I am an undisputed drama queen…..and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For those seeking purpose, I offer this simple advice: Look to your childhood. How did you play? What did you love? Who were you before the world shaped you to mainstream definition of success? What brought you the most joy?

Dorothy Tene’ Redmond is Detroit based freelance playwright/writer. This former UPN/CBS TV Personality has produced several stage plays. They include: The award winning Mahogany Dreams, Love Is…. starring Fox TV’s Charles Pugh, Hit 8 Mile starring Coleman Young Jr, just to name a few. The writer enjoys travel and every aspect of stage production. She is currently involved in a scandalous love affair with Stroh’s Chocolate Ice Cream.

Visit her on the web at: or myspace/redhazeproductions