Dwight Hobbes

Recent Articles

Meeting the in-laws grows complicated

That evening they stepped out on the town. They’d gone to see that revival of No Place to Be Somebody at the Apollo.  Leafing through the playbill, he’d idly suggested that it was time he met his in-laws-to-be. She had simply nodded, seriously reading hers. Going over the bios. The production was powerful. Greatly deserved the standing ovation it got. After, filing out with the crowd, they’d strolled the block or so over to Sylvia’s to have themselves a good soul food dinner. She laced her arm through his, leaning in, and said, “Honey?”

He never like it when she said that word quite that way. “What is it?”

“Now, baby, don’t be like that.”

Another dead giveaway that he wasn’t going to like whatever it was she’d eventually get around to saying. It was a good thing he was crazy about her. Continue Reading →

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Acting can help troubled youth face real-life drama

Crossroads Panorama uses theater arts to build coping skills 

 By Dwight Hobbes 
Contributing Writer 
If you’re going to salvage a community, the important populace to focus on is the young. And, face it, the urban African American community is seriously imperiled, which renders a program like Crossroads Panorama — Youth Education Through the Arts (crossroadspanorama.com) — helmed by determinedly committed Executive Director Joyce Marrie, Ph.D., a vital resource. Based, fittingly, at South Minneapolis’ venerated Sabathani Community Center, known as a community cornerstone, Crossroads Panorama utilizes the concept that the arts aren’t only for entertainment. “Creative drama therapy,” says Marrie, “provides a means by which youth can learn to take control of their feelings and engage in self-discovery. As they take a role in acting out therapeutic issues, this equips and empowers them to learn how to cope, and not only in a classroom setting but in their everyday lives. Continue Reading →

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Bobby Womack

March 4, 1944 — June 27, 2014 

 Bobby Womack, one of the last great legends of soul music, has passed into lore, leaving an incomparable legacy a generation will long remember. They don’t make music like this anymore, haven’t for quite some time, and quite likely never will again. Bobby Womack, a.k.a. “The Preacher,” harked from an era when dyed-in-the-wool artists honed their craft and cut their teeth the hard way, paying their proverbial dues in bars and clubs, creating a distinct sound in the recording studio. Without benefit of big-money backers and engineering gimmicks, groundbreakers like Bobby Womack made history. He came up under such seminal figures as Sam Cooke and James Brown, backing up his lifelong hero Cooke on guitar and vocals, playing the Valentinos a.k.a. The Womack Brothers on tour with the James Brown Revue. Continue Reading →

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Fried Chicken, Watermelon and You aims to heal cultural damage

Author challenges dysfunctional decisions Blacks make that hinder their progression

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer


African Americans today are not known for an abiding sense of accountability. In fact, according to an overriding tendency toward excuses and blaming slavery on the one hand and the White man on the other as some sort of mantra, you’d hardly know we ever believed that, despite the institutionalized racism perpetrated against us, it’s our responsibility to do something about it. Keenly insightful essayist and candid social critic Cindy Traxler’s Fried Chicken, Watermelon and You (CC&J Publications) clearly details the imperative to self-empower. She takes on a complicated issue and, addressing vital aspects that usually are attended to with knee-jerk rhetoric, doesn’t simplify it, employing a discerning eye, common sense, and uncommon frankness to render solutions quite accessible. “I’m looking to challenge the old, stale, tired, and counterproductive practices of my people,” reads the introductory essay, “Let Me Explain.”

Among those counterproductive practices, she states, are “mastering things [like] our rapping skill before our grammar skills or nurturing our athletes more than our future doctors.” In “My People,” the author makes it clear she isn’t arbitrarily bashing Black folk, since we have had more than a little help in opting for skewed aspirations. Continue Reading →

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Lesli joins the two-percent club

“I’ll grab something more to eat after I get there,” Lesli said as she prepared to leave for work. “Hit the commissary, then tackle that damned letter to the board. They have got to approve the plan to add a fourth floor. It’s expensive as hell, but baby, it makes sense. Even a big-shot operation like that has to keep up with the times and keep improving. Keep tourism here instead of losing it to other cities.”

She had a point. And he’d seen some of this woman’s well-written letters. The board would side with her on the expansion or have to come up with a damned good reason why. Funders knew about this beautiful, brassy exec with a mind like a steel trap. The director had seen to it. Yeah, that new floor likely was as good as done. “Know what I feel like eating?” she asked. Idly, more to herself than to him.”

“Nope.” He had clicked on the remote and was watching the news with a lapful of Bruno, Butch and Sundance. For once the kittens were leaving the old guy in peace, hanging out, watching the news with Keith. “Not ’til you tell me, no.”

“A banana split. With the works. Different kinds of nuts, rich whipped cream, lots of syrup, the whole nine.”

“Mm-hm, sounds good.”

“And a bowl of tomato soup.”

Keith lowered the volume on the television. “What was that? Did you just say—”

“Yeah. Continue Reading →

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Keith resolves not to spook his new partner

Keith clicked the television on and quickly got bored with Harris Faulkner talking about whatever the hell it was. He hunted through the DVD library and couldn’t believe Lesli’s contributions. The woman was crazy about romantic comedies and had damned near everything from How Harry Met Sally to Boomerang and beyond. And she loved nature documentaries, especially when it was about dinosaurs or big cats, leopards, tigers, panthers and such. He smiled, remembering an afternoon that was just about as ugly as this morning, weatherwise. “Did you know,” Lesli’d asked, “that panthers actually are leopards?” She looked like some sort of cheerleader in a shiny, soft basketball jersey and matching, power blue shorts, bouncing up and down on the sofa. “Okay, so where are their spots?” “Right there!” Continue Reading →

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Life coach teaches grow-as-you-go leadership skills

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer


Highly charismatic motivational speaker and leadership trainer Mary Jo Winston, PhD, is perfectly suited to her line of work. Inspirational? The very air seems to come alive around her. She certainly, completely commanded everyone’s attention at the Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes induction ceremony in April with an engaging smile, ready humor and confident, conversational style. Winston compelled with the same energetic warmth in a telephone interview for the MSR. Indeed, she approaches her livelihood with down-to-earth professionalism. Continue Reading →

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Linda’s letter gets on Keith’s last nerve

Lesli’s ordering-in suggestion sounded good. Keith didn’t feel like cooking, and there should be a law against letting Lesli anywhere near pots or pans around a working stove. He grabbed a menu and picked up the phone. Her usual was French toast and sausage. His was grits and eggs. They both were going to have more strong coffee and plenty of it. Soon as he hung up from ordering, he got busy refilling the coffeemaker. That done, he called, “I’ll be in.” And sat, Butch immediately running up his leg, landing on his shoulder, nestling his muzzle into Keith’s neck and purring like a little motorboat. Sundance was taking a break, curled up in a corner fast asleep. Continue Reading →

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Hope for hip hop: Local students make The Next Move

High School for the Recording Arts gives academia an undercurrent of artistry

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer


Visiting the High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) isn’t for the faint of heart. Your senses are bombarded as soon as you set foot in the door by adolescent energy pretty much rampant. Teenagers wind through corridors, racing up and down stairwells at full throttle and generally at the top of their considerably healthy lungs. Call it contained, if not quite fully controlled chaos. All of which makes it a perfect place to focus this force toward a profoundly productive end: academia cum artistry. Continue Reading →

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Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 — May 28, 2014

How does one pay adequate tribute to the legacy of Maya Angelou, the beloved historic icon and cultural treasure who passed away on May 28? Her enduring presence as an enlightening, empowering beacon to which the hearts and minds of Black women faithfully were drawn, after all, marked her as an individual of inestimable consequence whose like we quite probably will never see again. Dr. Angelou, nee Marguerite Annie Johnson, advanced from an auspicious literary debut, publishing her first autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings with the aid of James Baldwin, who would become a lifelong friend, to a titanic career that spanned more than a half century. Her accomplishments included, in far from a complete listing, a film rendition of the book starring Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee; six more autobiographies; acting turns in The Richard Pryor Special?, Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson, and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion; as well as stints directing (Down In The Delta, starring Alfre Woodward, featuring Al Freeman, Jr), producing (Sister, Sister with Rosalind Cash, Diahann Carroll and Paul Winfield), and scoring film soundtracks (For Love of Ivy, starring Sidney Poitier). She is best known for her vast volume of poetry, most notably “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s 1994 inauguration. Continue Reading →

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