Category Archives: family business

Recent Goings On…

So, I’ve been writing some for Entertainment Weekly.

A friend asked me why I wasn’t updating my blog with links from  The answer: because I’m an idiot.  In the future I will update the blog with links to my mainstream writing.  I will also run some things here that don’t get picked up elsewhere. Below are some links to the things I’ve written at EW.  (Try to guess which of these articles got 50,000 clicks.) Enjoy.


Elmcitytree on WNYC, live from NYC Comic Con

I make my debut on WNYC!    My first thought as I listened to the clip was, wow, do I really sound so nerdy?

The Black Panther stuff begins at 6:40 on the clip

Tree @ ComicCon

So as I said in my last post, I asked Reginald Hudlin a question about the lack of Black creative voices in the comic industry. It turned out that Ben Walker from NPR was there, and asked me for some feedback.    Through the magic of editing, you get to hear Hudlin responding to my question and then my motivation for the question.    I might need some media training.

And then, at the end, you hear the fellas opine on their favorite hero. That makes it all worthwhile.

wnyc took this cool picture of me and the fellas. In my haste to link to the audio I didn’t realize it was there:


strange new behavior, now with picture

I made it down to DC on Sunday in time to take my family to the concert on the Mall.  As we made our way from the DC Metro to the Mall my son tugged my sleeve and told me he wanted a flag.  I grew up listening to Public Enemy, you know, “most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps”, “don’t believe the hype,” “fight the power!”

But that was then.

I brought him the flag.  He tripped happily along, waving it as he went.  I was proud of him.


About an hour later, my son is bored.  He doesn’t know any of these songs, he can’t reallly see what’s going on unless I hoist him up, which I can only do for a few minutes at a time (the kids are HEAVY now), its cold.  I bend down and tell him, among other things, that he shouldn’t let the flag hit the ground, that to do so is to disrespect an important symbol.  He acknowledges this and doesn’t let the flag touch earth, even as he keeps asking, “Can we go, NOW?”

A second later, as I bop along to Garth Brooks,  I realize that never in the past had I cared about the stars and stripes.  My father certainly never instilled any reverence of it into me when I was six.   I learned about how to treat the flag in elementary school, but that was borne as much out of a desire to be part of the group that got to take the flag down from the flagpole at the end of the day as it was any real sense of patriotism.

I have particular taste in music.  I hate songs that express unexamined sentitment.  I prefer the minor keys, the complicated and overwrought to the sentimental, uplifting or triumphant.  Give me Sade or Radiohead or Talib Kweli over Mariah, Dave Mathews or 50 any day.  But, as Beyonce launched into “America the Beautiful” I found my heart filled with pride.  I’ve heard the song before, but on Sunday those words…

I have no idea who I am anymore.  The intellectual detachment is increasingly difficult to maintain.  The cynicism is fading.  What’s become of me?

…the pound I got, down in Georgetown…

See now, this is why I love Barack Obama.

Obama, like many a brother from the South Side of Chicago, stopped by Ben’s Chili Bowl a few days ago.

For those who don’t know, Ben’s Chili Bowl is an institution in Black DC, sort of like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in South Central LA or Sylvia’s in Harlem. Ben’s has lent their support to various causes since they opened 50 years ago, starting with supplying food to SNCC, whose national headquarters was once located across the street. The spot even had a cameo in Pelican Brief, and Russell Crow was shooting there a few weeks ago.

But more importantly, Ben’s Chili Bowl was where I would go to get a turkey dog and chili to go after poetry slams at the Kaffa House. It’s where my boys and I would go on the walk over from the Towers to Republic Gardens.

So much for Barack being post-racial. I never saw any post-racial people sliding into a seat at Ben’s.

The third road

Ta-Nehisi wrote this amazing profile of Michelle Obama. I’m really happy for the success my fellow Bison is enjoying. Anyway this paragraph really struck me as interesting.

On the night of his victory, Barack Obama talked about Ann Nixon Cooper, a black woman who, at the age of 106, had voted for him. But when Obama told her story, he presented her not just as someone who’d been born a generation after slavery and had seen segregation, but as a woman who’d seen the women’s-suffrage movement, the dawn of aviation and the automobile, the Depression and the Dust Bowl, and Pearl Harbor. He presented Nixon Cooper as an African American who was not doubly conscious, just conscious. That is the third road that black America is walking. It’s not coincidental that two black people from the South Side are leading us on that road. If you’re looking for the heralds of a “post-racial” America, if that adjective is ever to be more than a stupid, unlettered flourish, then look to those, like Michelle Obama, with a sense of security in who they are—those, black or white, who hold blackness as more than the losing end of racism.

The third road. Black people have always attempted to walk the third road–Zora Neale Hurston comes immediately to mind–but we haven’t always been allowed to express the fullness of our identity. I’m curious to see how the Obamas change not what we can actually accomplish as a people but what Black Americans and the nation as a whole now think we can accomplish.

What’s possible?


So, I live in Brooklyn with my family. I asked my six-year-old son where we live and he shrugged his shoulders. When I reminded him, he said, “I’m after Brooklyn.” I was slightly taken aback by the notion, because we academics substitute the words after and post almost automatically. While I am completely comfortable living in a post-modern, post-structuralist post-industrial post-ironic world, the idea of post-Brooklyn repels. I admit I feel the same way about the term post-racial. But lets not get into that (yet).

Still, this mind boggles at the idea of a post-Brooklyn New York. What could that even mean?