"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

FaithWalk Clothing by William Renae

In today's world and in times past collaboration and partnering has been an instrumental strategy.  Partnering helps us to grow, learn, change and exchange ideas.  Even the Bible endorses partnering based on the scripture that says, "Where two or three are gathered, I am there."

I want to introduce to you a mother/son partnership, which currently launched a new clothing line.  The clothing line is called FaithWalk. The new line is created to encourage others to save themselves and to take control of their own destiny.

Renae Parker Benenson is a Mom, certified Chaplin (spiritual listener and encourager), writer and co-founder of FaithWalk.  William Marshall Parker II is a Son, entrepreneur, writer and co-founder of FaithWalk.  Together they compliment each other and have found support for their individual and collective growth and development.

They started FaithWalk because they get it.  They have figured out that their life is to get better spiritually, emotionally, financially, intellectually and physically it will be because they have prayed to God and believe that the Creator will equip them for the journey and fill them with unfathomable power to be and to do more than they can ever imagine.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Radio's Top Songs By Genre

Feel like you heard Tim McGraw’s Something Like That about half a million times in the past decade? Well, the ratings folks at Nielsen will back you up on that, with their list of commercial radio’s most-played songs of the decade:

Country: Something Like That, Tim McGraw, 487,343 plays
Top 40: Yeah, Usher featuring Ludacris & Lil Jon, 416,267
Hot adult contemporary: Drops Of Jupiter, Train, 338,749
Alternative: Last Resort, Papa Roach, 221,767
Rhythmic: Low, Flo Rida featuring T-Pain 206,864
Album rock: It’s Been Awhile, Staind, 189,195
Urban: Drop It Like It’s Hot, Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, 169,511
Urban adult contemporary: Think About You, Luther Vandross, 147,818
Gospel: Never Would Have Made It, Marvin Sapp, 92,603
Smooth jazz: Pacific Coast Highway, Nils, 29,328

Women's Fashion Turns Tough

Women are starting to turn their backs on girly pastels, floral prints, and strappy heels in favor of a more aggressive, tough-but-sexy look. “It’s not cool to be demure,” one stylist, who prefers big T-shirts over ripped jeans, tells the New York Times. The trend toward a more utilitarian look is partially a response to the struggling economy: “So-called luxury—people are tired of it,” says a boutique owner.

Out are skin-baring style icons like Scarlett Johansson and Megan Fox; in are blazers, boots, biker jackets, leggings, and the often-disheveled look of editors like Carine Roitfeld and Giovanna Battaglia: “They show you a real-world version of high fashion. They’re not dressed by a stylist, and sophisticated people recognize that,” says a store owner. Adds the Met’s Costume Institute curator: “There is so much sex appeal in imperfection.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Square-Dancing Steps Into Rock, Hip-Hop

That tattered bastion of Americana, square-dancing, has fallen on hard times, but intrepid youngsters and older dancers eager to court them have turned to non-traditional music and methods to keep the practice alive. In Portland, Ore., a 20-something caller gathers friends in warehouses to do-si-do to punk rock. “It turns into a hoedown mosh pit,” he tells the Wall Street Journal. Some purists are aghast, but the new blood is vital.

“It's scary,” an older dancer says of the falloff in dancers—one group estimates the number at 300,000 nationwide, down from 1 million in the 1970s. The older and younger breeds of dancers have reached a wary accord in some groups. One spritely dancer says his caller grandfather’s square-dance version of “Whoomp! (There It Is)” is a crowd favorite. Still, his wife says, “we have to warn older dancers that they're in a younger square. It can get crazy.”

The Year's Best Albums

Who says the album's dead? This year saw some fine ones, with veterans like U2 and Bruce Springsteen setting the bar. Rolling Stone rates the cream of the crop:

U2, No Line on the Horizon: Bono & Co. explored “dark places” and came away “with a sense of drama that no one could match all year."
Bruce Springsteen, Working on a Dream: The Boss at his “wildly baroque” best: “decked-out folk and rock struggling with the big stuff—and having a great time along the way.”
Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: “The wholesome French version of the Strokes,” delivered an energetic and insanely catchy mix of guitar rock and electronics.
Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3: Some of Jay-Z’s “cleverest braggadocio ever,” backed by “stunningly good beats from rich friends like Kanye West.”
Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown: With their second rock opera, Green Day “revitalizes the idea of big-deal rockers actually saying something.”
Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca: This freaky yet fun art rock album was the year’s most original, with its “sideways harmonies, warpedsoul crooning, and dreamlogic arrangements.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rock Hall to Induct Stooges, ABBA

The Stooges, Genesis, and ABBA will head next year’s class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, along with the Hollies and Jimmy Cliff. The ceremony will be March 15, with all the inductees invited to perform, though some, particularly ABBA, may be tough to bring together, notes Rolling Stone. The Swedish pop outfit has refused multiple pleas for a reunion show.

“The people who are really fond of ABBA, I think we are doing them a favor by not going out,” says co-founder Benny Andersson. The odds are “99 against 1.” Andersson says he never expected a Hall call “because we were a pop band, not a rock band.” The Stooges, on the other hand, have been expecting this for a while. “We’ve been rejected seven times,” says Iggy Pop. “It started to feel like Charlie Brown and the football.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grand Hip-Hop Museum May Rise in the Bronx

A prospective hip-hop museum in the Bronx will feature MTA subway cars free for the tagging, a Microsoft-designed music video wall, a hip-hop hall of fame, and political action seminars designed by the likes of Chuck D and KRS-One—if its founder can scare up $150 million to $250 million. “We’re fighting all the past failed attempts to do this,” Craig Wilson tells Paste. But he’s driven. “There would be no Soulja Boy if there was no Afrika Bambaataa.”

Wilson got the idea for the National Museum of Hip-Hop when an acquaintance didn't understand why the Bronx—the birthplace of hip-hop—figured in so many hip-hop movies. “The fact that deejays, graffiti artists, and beat boys are all but forgotten,” he says, “is exactly the kind of stuff that perpetuates the absolute need for a museum of hip-hop.” A raft of hip-hop luminaries will kick off fundraising in February, and industry leaders are behind him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Decade's Best Sellers: Eminem, the Beatles

The Beatles might have had its heyday a few decades ago, but the band managed to emerge from this decade with the best-selling album. Perhaps more surprising is the decade’s top-selling artist: Eminem, with 32.2 million albums sold—followed closely by, yes, the Beatles again in the No. 2 spot with 30 million sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The most surprising appearance of all, however, is a certain boy band…

The top five best-selling albums of the decade, courtesy of USA Today:
The Beatles, 1: 11.5 million
‘N Sync, No Strings Attached: 11.1 million
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me: 10.5 million
Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP: 10.2 million
Eminem, The Eminem Show: 9.8 million
Bonus surprise: In the number 10 spot? Nelly’s Country Grammar, with 8.5 million copies sold.

NASCAR Gets Jolt of Girl Power

Female racing phenom Danica Patrick confirmed today that she's going to race in NASCAR events next year. Patrick will make the jump to stock cars while maintaining her presence on the IndyCar circuit, where she is a certified star. But the best part of this new deal is that she's joining JR Motorsports, which features Kelley Earnhardt—sister of Dale Jr.—as a team owner, writes Jay Busbee.

"That's right—in a sport derided by its detractors as backward-looking, the hottest new team in NASCAR will have at its center two women," writes Busbee of Yahoo Sports. "The truth is that Patrick and Earnhardt will make for a powerful tandem regardless of their gender ... and, to an extent, regardless of Danica's immediate success on the track."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Man Cleavage: It's All the Rage

Plunging necklines: They’re not just for women anymore. Male cleavage is back, and if you like chest hair and heaving pecs, you’re sure to appreciate the variety of V-necks and scoop-neck tops for men that are hitting the runways. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the history of man cleavage, from bare-chested heroes of last century’s early swashbuckling films, to recent stars who just like to leave a button or three undone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Disabled Model Show Handicapped by Sincerity

A British reality show about disabled women competing to win a spot as a fashion model has mostly admirable intentions, but ultimately does more harm than good. "There is something both bold and troubling about Britain’s Missing Top Model," writes Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times. "It’s a contest designed to raise the profile and confidence of disabled women but makes a spectacle of their hunger for acceptance."

"The contestants’ desire to be desired, not pitied or patronized, makes sense," Stanley continues, and they are actually treated just the same as non-disabled models in one very important way: "An ounce of fat is a greater hurdle than a missing limb," she writes, recalling one photographer on the show who says, "Rebecca’s disability didn’t cause me any problems. It was just the fact she’s not really in shape."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Animal Collective Doesn't Care About Cool

Merriweather Post Pavilion made Animal Collective one of the most hyped bands of 2009, but the follow-up Fall Be Kind EP sounds almost aggressively unconcerned with indie cred. The first song includes a flute solo from Zamfir, one of those ubiquitous infomercial pan-flute players, while a later track samples the Grateful Dead. "Cool? These guys aren't sweating it,” writes Mark Richardson for Pitchfork.

Fall Be Kind flows surprisingly well for a record of outtakes from Merriweather Post Pavilion—moving from the unabashed melodicism of "What Would I Want? Sky" (the Dead-sampling track) to the more abstract territory of “Bleed” and “On a Highway.” Fall Be Kind shows a band still driven to experiment, to go into “unfamiliar realms,” Richardson writes, even if it means failure. “There's still a sense of gamble with Animal Collective—and that's exactly what makes them an especially exciting band.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

LeBron in NFL? Browns Coach Says Suit Up

If LeBron James really wants to try football, Eric Mangini will find room on his roster. “I think he should come on down,” the Browns coach tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “The guy’s a freak athletically.” James may be an NBA star now, but he played wide receiver in high school. He opined on Monday Night Football that, if he dedicated himself to football, “I could be really good.”

“I could be a split tight end like Gates or Gonzalez,” he said. “If you put a linebacker on them, they can’t match up.” QB Brady Quinn, for one, loves the idea of throwing to James to improve the fortunes of the 1-8 team. “Tell him to suit up,” he said. “We’ll get him working.” But nosetackle Shaun Rogers doubts the King could hack it. “A great athlete, yes. A football player, no. Yeah, Lebron, I said it.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

World's Most Valuable Models

Even supermodels are making less money these days. The Daily Beast came up with a formula to determine which are the most valuable, based on everything from runway work (weighed 10%) to cover appearances (10%) to income from contracts (40%):

Gisele Bündchen: She no longer walks the runway, but an avalanche of endorsements, from the likes of Max Factor, Dior, and Versace, bring in an estimated $25 million.
Kate Moss: At 35, she still snagged six covers last year...and a reported $8.5 million.
Adriana Lima: She’s been a Victoria’s Secret Angel for nearly a decade now, no doubt helping her earn $8 million.
Doutzen Kroes: She became a Victoria’s Secret Angel last year after doing high-profile ads for Dolce & Gabbana and Versace; she now rakes in $6 million.
Daria Werbowy: You may not know her name, but you know her as the face of Lancôme, a gig that contributes to the $4-plus million she'll make this year.
Alessandra Ambrosio: A longtime Victoria’s Secret model, one of her new gigs is a Brazilian campaign that used to belong to Gisele. Annual take: $6 million.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Walk the Runway Like a Pro

– J. Alexander—otherwise known as Miss J, the 6’4" drag-dressing America’s Next Top Model judge—has been coaching models on how to rock the runway for almost 20 years. Cathy Horyn of the New York Times takes a lesson and offers a few tips:

Develop your own style: Carmen Kass has the bust shake; Naomi Campbell has the leg kick.
Stand up straight: He begins analyzing Horyn’s stride with “Well, first of all, you walk like your back hurts.”
Focus on you: “It’s all about you. It’s about Cathy,” Miss J says. A passer-by isn’t a distraction, “she’s just the girl you are passing on the runway.”
Don’t overshadow the main event: “If your walk is too extreme, you don’t see the clothes.”
Be elegant: “Always start from the bottom, it creates a cleaner line.”
Keep a cool gaze: “Here’s the face that you want,” he says, looking calm even while thinking, “I hate my teeth, I hate the world today. I’m getting paid 10 grand. I’m starving. I want a sandwich.”

Best Videos of the Decade

The "aughties" saw a breakdown in the traditional music business and the outlets for music videos. But that doesn't mean people didn't make good ones—maybe they're even better for it. Steve LaBate runs down the best since 2000 in Paste. A sampling:

Outkast, "Bombs Over Baghdad": "A luscious Technicolor feast, exploding vibrant and alive onto the screen."
The White Stripes, "Fell in Love With a Girl": "Perhaps the most innovative video of the decade (or at least the most carefully labored over)."
Johnny Cash, "Hurt": Made a year before the Man in Black passed on, "here he takes a long, dark glance back at the imperfect life he’s lived." It's "one of the most moving videos ever made."
OK Go, "Here We Go Again": With "the infamous, impressively choreographed and unforgettable treadmill dance."
The Decemberists: "16 Military Wives": The band "coyly pokes fun at their bookish reputation with this fantastic video set at an overly ambitious prep school."

Pirate Radio Rocks on Good Tunes, Cast

Critics agree that the soundtrack of Pirate Radio can't be beat, and the top-notch cast is a joy. So when it comes to the shaky plot and pacing, some can turn a blind eye:

"There’s no denying the comic energy of the cast," Peter Travers writes in Rolling Stone. "Couple that with blasts of Brit rock from the Beatles and the Stones to Dusty Springfield and David Bowie, and the ship is unsinkable."
Writer/director Richard Curtis introduces "characters and conflicts only to drop them," Stephanie Zacharek of Salon complains. But no matter: The best bits "take place in the movie's margins, in the vignettes and asides that don't necessarily have much to do with the plot."
Bah. A great cast and great tunes—some of which are not at all historically accurate—do not a great film make, Sam Adams writes for the AV Club. "Do you like montages, but grow bored with the tedious plot bits in between? Then Pirate Radio is the movie for you."
Curtis alludes to the cultural issues behind the plot—a little, writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. Really, "he wants to party." Which he does, and "which is fine."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meet the Man Behind Elmo

When Kevin Clash does a live Sesame Street event, the kids “don’t know me from a hole in the wall and they don’t care to,” he tells Time. “I’m the guy holding their friend.” That friend would be Elmo, the furry red monster Clash puppets and voices, one of the most popular characters in the show’s 40-year history.

Yes, that is Clash’s voice on all those Tickle Me Elmo dolls and other toys—“I call that job security,” he says. But don’t expect him to jump into character should you run into him on the street: “We can't just sit there as ourselves and do that voice and personality,” he says, explaining why puppets are brought along even to radio interviews. “We're puppeteers

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brooklyn Bands Heat Up Music Scene

Brooklyn is returning to the forefront of the indie music scene—with a vengeance. New York delves deep into the borough’s offerings with a list of the top 40 songs from Brooklyn musicians, the most important music bloggers, and a map of the best places to see shows. The magazine takes a closer look at three specific acts:

Dirty Projectors: One of the most risk-taking groups out there. “There’s just a culture of getting things done here,” says frontman and Yale graduate David Longstreth, who returned to New York in time for the band’s fifth album, Bitte Orca, its most accessible to date.
MGMT: “I never thought I’d live in Brooklyn Heights,” says frontman Andrew VanWyngarden, “but it’s a nice place to come down off tour.” The band is finishing Congratulations, a followup to 2007 hit Oracular Spectacular; one band member calls it “a mixture of depression and excitement.”
Jace Clayton, aka DJ /Rupture: Released an acclaimed mix tape last year and is working on a follow-up. “I really dislike Boston,” he says of his time there. “Musically it’s super-segregated. People weren’t mixing anything up at all.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Go to Harvard, Study The Wire

The Wire is about to get an Ivy League makeover. Harvard plans to offer a course on the HBO series about life in Baltimore's ghettos, the New York Post reports. The show "has done more to enhance our understanding of the challenges of urban life and the problems of urban inequality, more than any other media event or scholarly publication," said William J. Wilson, the well-known African-American history professor—and huge fan of The Wire—who will teach the class.

But the move isn't quite as ground-breaking as the show, notes the Post: Duke and Middlebury have also offered courses on the series.

Greatest Albums of the Decade

Paste takes a look back at the past decade—and its own 10-year history—with its list of the 50 best albums of the ‘00s:

No. 1. Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise: “His music pushed boundaries between pop and classical.”
No. 4. Radiohead, Kid A: Marked “the watershed artistic transition toward more electronic-based experimentation.”
No. 8. OutKast, Stankonia: “OutKast’s edgiest and most inspired record.”
No. 10. MIA, Arular: “Her thrilling, slang-tangled debut connected musical and political rebellion.”
No. 14. The Strokes, Is This It: “It saved rock ’n’ roll from the bloat that seemed inescapable in the Fred Durst era.”
No. 17. Kanye West, The College Dropout: “Every so often, an album rewrites the musical rulebook, and this one effectively murdered gangsta rap.”
No. 29. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago: “One of the great bedroom masterworks of our time.”
No. 42. Jay-Z, The Blueprint: “The classic, a knockout punch by a heavyweight champion.”

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ledger-Directed Rap Video Debuts

A music video, one of a few directed by Heath Ledger for little-known artists he liked, made its online debut yesterday. Australian rapper N'fa Forster-Jones, a childhood friend of the late actor's, posted the video along with a behind-the-scenes look at the project, the AP reports. "Every day I count my blessings that I got to have him direct this piece of art," says Forster-Jones, who showed the video at the Rome Film Festival.

How Skulls Took Over Fashion

Skulls, once seen as sinister symbols, are now used on everything from children's shirts to underwear. Sara Dickerman of Slate takes a look at how the trend developed:

In the 16th century, artists like Albrecht Dürer were still using skulls to remind people of their mortality.
French pirate Emanuel Wynn was the first to use the skull-and-crossbones logo on his ship's flag.
As skulls came to symbolize bravado, fighters—from US special operations to the Nazi SS—used them on uniforms.
Mourning jewelry was fashionable in the 19th century, and the "look" lived on thanks to bands like the Grateful Dead and Loree Rodkin, who launched a line of Goth jewelry in 1989.
Mexican art of smiling, dancing skulls, used to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, helped skulls become more widely accepted.
The skull became an icon in 1970s London counterculture, where Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood launched a series of skull-inspired punk gear.
Skulls became truly fashionable thanks to Alexander McQueen, whose scarves have been spotted on Kate Moss and the Olsen twins.

Women's Star Lieberman Wants to Play Obama

Taking exception to all-male White House basketball games, Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman today challenged President Obama to some one-on-one. “To score some real points with the public, stop arguing and just play ball—with the best,” Lieberman, 51 and coming off a stint last year in the WNBA writes. “Shoot some hoops with yours truly.”

Spice Girls Will Help Kick Off 2012 Olympics

When the eyes of the world turn to London for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, the land of Shakespeare and the Beatles will present ... the Spice Girls. "They stand for so much in British music history and I can’t think of a better time for them to get back together for another performance," says impresario Simon Fuller. The performance may accompany a farewell tour, he tells the Daily Mirror: "I think if they do it, it’s going to be in 2012."

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Written by: Rev. Renae Benenson, a.k.a. Serena Cliff

I have been on a sabbatical from work and writing. The sabbatical from work was necessary because I moved from the Midwest (Illinois) to the Northwest (Washington). I stopped writing temporarily so that I could leave home (again) only to return home to FaithWalk with something fresh and new to say.

I have left home six times. The longest I have stayed gone is 4 years. Leaving home is like an adventure for me. I like having the option of taking an “adventure” from time to time. It is a gift that keeps me hungry for life, vibrant and balanced. Whenever I go off on one of my many adventures, I usually return home, eventually, with interesting stories to tell. People acknowledge how much I have grown. I acknowledge how much I have missed them and how they have grown too.

I left home this sixth time to reunite with my husband. He left for Washington without me. It was not what he wanted to do but what I needed to do. I delayed relocating with my husband (for two years) so I could realize a career opportunity. I found a job in Illinois that was just right for me, and six months later I was offered a promotion. I took the opportunity, despite the emotional affects on my husband, and I developed leadership skills and personal power that I had never known. Though I had amassed this personal power, feelings for my husband didn’t dissipate. They grew. The distance helped me to see not only my personal power but his too. After we got through the initial pain of our separation, we also discovered, with the help of friends, that we both valued flexibility and unconditional love. And we wanted the other to have flexibility and self love no matter what the cost. I’m glad I delayed my leaving because I expanded my world view and sense of self. I also learned to assert my personal power and to embrace the knowledge of the “equality of opportunity”.

Love comes hard when done alone. However, when couples collectively and responsibly decide to grow their relationship, love happens. Our relationship was tested. What we learned throughout the adventure is that we shared something special. It was that specialness that would get us through the worst of times. I pondered this same stream of consciousness again when I resigned my position to move to the Northwest. I relied on my personal power and understanding of “to thine own self be true” when I told my sons, my siblings, my granddaughter, my friends, co-workers and church members that I would be leaving. Many anticipated, suspected and acknowledged news of my eventual move. Still it caused them and me some emotional distress.

If leaving causes so much pain, why leave? Well an adventure for me is both exciting and anxiety producing. It hurts like hell and yet it stirs up my senses and my child-like wonder. It begs the question, -now what?! The universe responds with an invitation - live each day fully. Convinced by my faith and beliefs, I risk leaving, loving and letting go of home; I know God can and will do a new thing with me- if I’m flexible. He will also do the same thing for those I love and left- if they’re flexible.

Once you recognize love and you embrace self love, you cannot go back. Love is powerful. Self love is freeing – it allows you to be true to yourself. It also means being true to what you hold dear. Love is one of those values I hold dear – for myself and for others. My children, siblings, friends, granddaughter and church community miss me and I miss them. My loving response to them is: I’m a plane ride, a phone call, a text message and an e-mail away; I believe that neither death nor life-neither an address change nor miles can separate us. More still, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” [1 Cor. 13:7].

My son and I talk about love all the time. Though the picture of love may appear bleak in the circles he travels, he still believes in love’s promise. He hopes for a good woman who knows how to value herself rightly. While he waits for her, he is deepening his faith in God, assessing who he is, discerning his values and smoothing out his rough edges. He is learning more about love –for self and others too.

bell hooks, a well known cultural critic, feminist theorist and a favorite author wrote this in her book, All about love, “Everyone wants to know more about love. We want to know what it means to love, what we can do in our everyday lives to love and to be loved. We want to know how to seduce those among us who remain wedded to lovelessness and open to the door to their hearts to let love enter.” She also maintains in another book, Salvation, “To choose love, we must choose a healthy model of female agency and self actualization, one rooted in the understanding that when we love ourselves well (not in a selfish or narcissistic way), we are best able to love others. When we have healthy self-love, we know that individuals in our lives who demand of us self-destructive martyrdom do not care for our good, for our spiritual growth.”

I care about my growth…spiritual, emotional, financial and physical. I’m happy that my husband cares about my growth as well as his own growth. I care about the growth of women and men. I care intensely about the growth of youth – our children, my children, their children and their children’s children. I want all people to be self actualized. It takes collective responsibility, equality of opportunity, love, courage and other values to get us there. It also takes faith and trust.

I believe loving and leaving are both acts of faith. These acts certainly do not come without struggle. No it is not easy to let go of what is familiar and safe. Yes, I miss those places where I’m known and loved. No, I’m not known here in the Northwest yet. However courage and perseverance says I will be. Therefore, I embrace the change; I enjoy the adventure; I take advantage of every opportunity; I build new loving relationships with those around me and keep sending love to those I’ve left behind; I preserve the love between my husband and me; I help out where I can; and I love and replenish myself daily, doing creative and heart healthy things. Last but not least, I also pray and live out my values rightly knowing that the journey “from your kindred and your country” is a sacrifice and a powerful act of faith! [Leaving Home: Herbert Anderson and Kenneth R. Mitchell]

Wishing for your happiness, peace and excellence without reservation…..Renae

Rev. Renae Benenson, a.k.a. Serena Cliff is a minister, professional chaplain and writer. If you would like to comment on her work, you can contact her at rbenenson80@gmail.com

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Most Influential DJs

With the release of "DJ Hero" upon us, it's a good time to honor the true masters of turntablism. IGN lists the most influential:

DJ Kool Herc. He invented the “breakbeat” by using the two-turntable style of disco DJs to play two copies of a funk record, switching between the two to elongate the instrumental break section.
Afrika Bambaataa. He took Herc’s breakbeats further and coined the burgeoning musical movement “hip-hop.”
Grandmaster Flash. Flash pioneered the “cutting” technique, which later became refined into scratching. He released the first record with scratching on it, and his Furious Five group was the first hip-hop band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Grand Wizard Theodore. Building on Flash’s “cutting” technique, Theodore added his own style of rhythmically manipulating the fader to give scratching its percussive effect—essentially, turning the turntable into a drum.
Jam-Master Jay. As the DJ for Run-DMC, Jay’s signature sounds helped push hip-hop into the mainstream.
DJ Qbert. A later addition to DJing’s luminaries, Qbert has pioneered countless scratch and turntable tricks to become known as the Jimi Hendrix of turntablism. Check out his skills in the video at left.

Inside Gaga's 'Delicious' Tour

Lady Gaga's upcoming tour is more than just a series of concerts—it's a pop-electro opera, "a truly artistic experience that is going to take the form of the greatest post-apocalyptic house party that you've ever been to," she tells Rolling Stone. The Monster Ball launches Nov. 27, four days after the release of The Fame Monster, an album she says is "much more personal" than her last.

"Each one of these songs on my album represents a different demon that I've faced in myself," she says. And, contrary to the name, "I don't write about fame or money at all on this new record." Those demons—or monsters—are "certainly going to be an influence" on the show's fashion, "as well as the theme of evolution and change," she says. "I wanted to really put together a show that would be the most beautiful, expensive-looking, delicious show."

Ann Taylor Finally Gets Good

After a game of fashion musical chairs brought Ann Taylor a new designer, Cintra Wilson decided it was time to reexamine the label—long a "corporate office submissive" look designed to "attract a nice tax attorney husband." She ate her words after checking out the new line (and buying a $175 gray silk-cashmere sweater she'll wear "every second until it dissolves into lint"). The line brings "less clutter and better details," from "the finished seams inside a little faille opera jacket" to "the velvet ribbon inside the waist of a peplum coat," Wilson writes in the New York Times.

The new Ann Taylor strategy comes down to "the honest injection of real quality bang for the buck," she continues, having been pleasantly surprised at finding a Lanvin lookalike silk shell for $70 and a Balenciaga-inspired skirt for $80. Her conclusion: "Ann Taylor’s office-wear may still be 98.9% edge-free, but it is concentrating on the right values: timeless lines and longevity. Other chains would be wise to follow in the plucky working girl’s conservative (yet spike-heeled) footsteps."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Aussie Sailor, 16, Starts World Trip

A 16-year-old Australian steered her bright pink yacht out of Sydney Harbor under gray skies and slightly choppy conditions today to start her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world. Jessica Watson's 23,600-mile journey through some of the world's most treacherous waters sparked debate about whether someone so young should be allowed to try such a dangerous feat.

Watson and her family insist she is an experienced sailor who will be in constant contact with her support team via radio, email, and a blog. Watson's first leg will take her past northern New Zealand, then Fiji and Samoa. In a trip expected to last about eight months, she plans to pass the southern tips of Africa and South America. Briton Mike Perham, 17, in August laid claim to being the youngest solo round-the-world sailor after completing a 28,000-mile trip in nine months, though he stopped for repairs, which counts as an "assisted" trip.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dress Like a Mad Man for $998

Need an excuse to chain smoke and drink excessively in true 1960s style? No problem: Come Monday, you can dress up like Mad Men’s Don Draper for a mere $998. Brooks Brothers, which has collaborated on the show’s costumes, is rolling out 250 of the “Mad Men Edition” sharkskin suits designed by the series’ Emmy-nominated costume designer, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recession Finds Place in Rap's Latest Hits

The ugly economy is making more than a cameo in today’s hottest rap music, with Young Jeezy taking the cake by naming his latest album The Recession. Rap’s often been a barometer of such huge swings, Sara Libby writes, noting the impact last year of Barack Obama’s rise. Now, Jeezy, Jay-Z and others have their mind on their money, and their money on their mind.

“I know we facing a recession,” Jay-Z tells his fellow performers on his latest chart-topper, The Blueprint 3. “But the music ya makin’ gonna make it the Great Depression.” Lil Wayne uses the financial crisis as pickup line in Jay Sean’s Down, telling his female quarry, “I’m down like the economy.” And given the genre’s tendency toward boasting, Libby notes for True/Slant, being “recession-proof” has found its way into plenty of tunes.

The Latest From Paris: 12-Inch Heels

Alexander McQueen’s collection, inspired by Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species, had quite a few avant garde elements when it was unveiled last night in Paris—think shaved eyebrows, gills painted on temples, and devil-horn-shaped hair—but the shoes took the cake. The crystal-studded creations, part shoe and part boot, measure a towering 12 inches, the Daily Mail reports. View the pictures at left.

Fight Swine Flu: Wear This Suit

Want to avoid the swine flu and look sharp doing it? A Japanese menswear company has just the thing. Haruyama Trading claims its latest suit, which goes on sale today for about $590, guards against H1N1 with a thin titanium dioxide coating. The chemical, found in toothpaste and makeup, reacts to light—and supposedly kills the virus on contact.

The wonder suit also promises to protect your whole family. “Small children might catch the virus after touching their father’s suit,” a company exec tells Reuters. “We came up with this idea to protect all businessmen and their families.” The suit, which looks perfectly normal, was developed with the help of several companies, including some that specialize in coatings for anti-flu face masks and physicians’ apparel.

Pile on the Bracelets, Ladies

When it comes to bracelets, there's no such thing as too much this season. Take almost any sort of wristwear, mismatch it, and stack it up to your elbow, New York reports. Where to start? Though the most expensive bracelet on its list of recommended bangles, from CC Skye at Henri Bendel, will run you $275, it also calls out a Charlotte Russe option—a rhinestone stretch bracelet for only $4. Take a look at some, at left, or view the complete list at the link below.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Jackson 5 Tracks Drop in Nov.

The Jackson 5 may well be back on the charts this November with the release of I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters, a collection of never-before-heard material and alternate versions of beloved tunes. One of the new songs, “That’s How Love Is,” can be heard on the group’s website, jackson5.com. And there’s more to come for those grieving brother Michael. “We are going to miss him,” a collaborator tells USA Today, "but hopefully, we can fill in the blanks.”

More Than a Game Shoots for the Heart

More Than a Game, a documentary following LeBron James and his high school teammates, does its best to be an inspirational movie, and for some it works. For others, it inspires eye-rolling. Here’s what they’re saying:

It’s like a classic high school sports movie, writes Owen Glieberman for Entertainment Weekly. “It's almost funny to see how many classic Hollywood tropes are replicated, with far more vivid drama.”
It’s a “moving” film that “suffers from a surfeit of hindsight,” Joe Morgenstern writes in the Wall Street Journal. But the courtside sermons are “worthy,” and the film “dramatizes what it preaches.”
“It’s an inspiring story," allows Christy Lemire for the AP, "that works very hard to remind you it's an inspiring story at every opportunity." Speeches are frequently delivered to soaring music.
But Nick Pinkerton wasn’t all that inspired. LeBron and Nike got final cut, and the end product is "as processed as Space Jam,” he writes for the Village Voice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Books Jay-Z Lives By

Jay-Z has gone from rapper to mogul, and he shares some of the books that helped him along the way with O magazine:

The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav: "There are two books that I absolutely live my life by. This is one of them. I believe in karma and doing the right thing even if it may not advance you as far as you want."
The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield: “This is the other book I live by. The story is a metaphor for life: I could go left or right, I could be stuck, or I could keep advancing.”
The Odyssey, by Homer: “I got lost in reading about Odysseus' struggle to get home and his longing for someone so strong, as his wife was, waiting for him. That's like a dream—that kind of strength, love, loyalty.”
Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell: “This book is about the principles of timing and repetition—about preparing yourself for luck, really.”
Purple Cow, by Seth Godin: “This is straight marketing advice: Your product has to be a purple cow—it has to be distinct to have any success.”
Nigger, by Dick Gregory: “I don't know who turned me on to this autobiography, but his sense of humor and the hardships he went through stayed with me.”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Earth, Wind & Fire Flower Again in Obama's America

Earth, Wind & Fire is back on top again in its 40th year, playing stadiums for the first time in a quarter-century. And their resurgent success, the band tells Newsweek, is based on a mixture of '60s idealism and the good favor of the president. Barack Obama has always been a huge fan, and he invited the funk pioneers to play at his first formal White House dinner in February. “What it did,” says member Verdine White, “it validated us in this era.”

But it’s not just a dinner invitation that makes Earth, Wind & Fire relevant again. White says the work his brother, founder Maurice, did “in putting together a band that would appeal to all types of people” is a particularly Obamaesque undertaking. “It's a '60s message that, at some times, people thought was kind of hokey. But through the lyric, giving people a sense of hope, the country caught up to us in a funny kind of way.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

For Buffett, Best Suits Are Made in China

One is America's most famous capitalist, the other leads China's Communist Party. But Warren Buffett and Hu Jintao have something in common—they both get their suits from Trands, an obscure northern Chinese menswear company not open to the public. Buffett, who recently recorded a promotional video for Trands' owners, tells the Wall Street Journal: "I went 78 years before I got a compliment on my appearance."

Shares in the company that owns Trands have jumped 70% on the Shanghai stock market since Buffett recorded the video. He got his first of nine suits during a visit to the city of Dalian; he's since invited the company's founder to his annual shareholders' meeting in Omaha—and given his old suits to charity. Bill Gates is another satisfied Trands customer—but while the clothier is proud of its American billionaire customers, it's quieter about its affiliation with President Hu. "It's a bit sensitive," the company's press officer admitted

British R&B Star Climbs US Charts

“It doesn't matter if we're from a little place called Hounslow,” Jay Sean tells the BBC. “If you have some good music, you can make it anywhere.” That’s how the British R&B singer found himself collaborating with Lil Wayne, and climbing to No. 2 on the US charts—making him more successful abroad than he is at home in the UK.

Journalists “say, dude, we wouldn't expect you, a little Brit, to be signed to Cash Money. They love the fact that we're from two different worlds, and I love that as well,” Sean says. He gained the attention of Lil Wayne’s label after splitting from Virgin and then forming his own. The onetime med student now hopes to “clinch that No. 1 spot”—which would require unseating the Black Eyed Peas.

'Obama Effect' Cleaning Up Rap

Thanks to President Obama, today’s rap focuses less on drugs, bling, and violence, and the “conscious rapper” is on the rise—at least according to Common. “I don't find as much gangsta talk,” the rapper/actor tells CNN. “You see the whole chain-shining-and-rim era is gone. That's like super-played out. Just to have that, I think, is part of the Obama effect.”

Hip-hop fans are ready to hear more positive, upbeat messages from socially aware artists, Common says—and he, for one, is ready to give that to them. “What America was built on was being able to say, 'Hey, we're going to come in and use our resources to build for ourselves and our communities and build around that.' I think that's what hip-hop is starting to do to a certain extent.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WWE Offers Kanye $10M to Get Into Ring

World Wrestling Entertainment has offered Kanye West nearly $10 million to step into the ring, sources tells MediaTakeOut.com. The rapper, swamped by a wave of disastrous publicity following his award-show interruption of country star Taylor Swift, would be on the hook for some “light wrestling” in three events under the proposal from WWE chief Vince McMahon.

Russian Tycoon Makes Bid for NJ Nets

A Russian tycoon has made a bid for a controlling stake in the New Jersey Nets, in what could become the first instance of foreign ownership of an NBA club, Reuters reports. Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man, said on his blog that his Onexmi group had offered to loan the team most of the cost of a planned stadium—an amount sources peg at $700 million. The terms of the loan would see Onexim receive a controlling stake for a “symbolic” price.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kid Cudi's Debut 'Ridiculously Intriguing'

The premise of Kanye West protégé Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of the Day is that he’s “not on the same planet as other rappers. The truth is that he’s not in the same genre,” writes Julian Benbow for the Boston Globe. The debut album “is a lot of things. It’s spacey, adventurous, and ridiculously intriguing if only because it’s so different. But it’s not rap”—more like “experimental and emotional hip-hop.” Elsewhere:

“As a man who isn’t afraid to take risks, Cudi’s collaboration with electronic duo Ratatat and indie rock’s MGMT for ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ captures the album’s most transcendent moment,” writes Edwin Ortiz for HipHopDX. “Kid Cudi is the real deal.”
“Kid Cudi has ripped off his label owner's formula—forward-thinking music meets entry-level confessional lyrics—with such shameless aplomb that you don't know whether to grin or roll your eyes,” writes Jess Harvell in the Washington Post.
Kid Cudi “emerged in the past year as hip-hop’s unlikeliest relief pitcher” for West and Jay-Z, but his debut “is a colossal, and mystifying, missed opportunity, misguided if it is in fact guided at all,” writes Jon Caramanica in the New York Times.

Spring Fashions Feel 'Craftsy'

This spring, designers are getting touchy-feely, writes Booth Moore in the Los Angeles Times’ continuing look at Fashion Week. From a rope-weave raffia vest by Carolina Herrera to Donna Karan’s “fabrics seemingly weathered by the elements,” designs have “a craftsy feel”—“maybe it's a signal that we're searching for more depth in fashion, something to touch and feel, not just to look at and discard after one season.”

The collections also share a sense of whimsy, writes Suzy Menkes for the New York Times. “The spirit of today’s American fashion” is “escapism,” she says, with “ripples of ruffles” taking admirers away from real-world woes. Marc Jacobs offered ballet-inspired looks and “sweet Japanese girly colors” while Zac Posen took the idea to the extreme with “highly colored, boldly patterned clothes” for the “party circuit.”

How 50 Cent Built His Empire

Believe it or not, it might do you good to take some business advice from shot-nine-times rapper 50 Cent. After all, it was business savvy more than rap music that helped build his $150 million empire. Business Insider takes a look at how he did it:

His endorsement with Vitamin Water is his best known and most lucrative source of revenue; when Coca-Cola bought the parent company in 2007, he netted $100 million
Before 50 split with Mark Ecko last year, he pocketed royalties from his G-Unit clothing line to the tune of $6 million in 2006; he's snagged another $20 million for endorsing Reebok.
His first book, a ghostwritten memoir, had $1.9 million in sales—and he just released a new one, The 50th Law. He also stars in a video game, which—despite horrible reviews—sold more than 2.5 million copies and spawned a follow-up.
50 Cent launched an acting career in 2005 that hasn't amounted to much; he's since started a film-production company that is set to develop eight movies, including The Dance with Nicolas Cage and 13 with Mickey Rourke.
He also has a financial portfolio including stocks, bonds, investment pools,and real estate—but he lost millions in the economic downturn and is struggling to offload Mike Tyson’s old mansion.
50’s next move may be to invest in precious metals and launch his own line of platinum, and he is also considering a line of dietary supplements and moisturizers.

Real Housewives Spawns Fashion Line

Not sure what to wear as you lounge around in your fancy house, engaging in catfights with your neighbors while your reality TV show's cameras roll? Never fear: The Real Housewives fashion line hits a store near you this fall. The collection, inspired by Bravo’s franchise, will consist of premium denim, loungewear, activewear, handbags, and accessories, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In other Real Housewives news, NeNe Leakes of the Atlanta installment tells People there’s no love lost between her and her co-stars, whom she calls “associates”—“I’m not friends with any of these girls.” She’s specifically miffed with Kim Zolciak, who recently released a dance single. “‘Tardy for the Party’ was my song. Now she’s doing” it “and I’m not on it,” Leakes says.

'Midwest Diva' Aims to Be Next Britney

She’s a size 16, loves plastic-jewel-encrusted sweaters, lives with her parents, and marries gay couples in her spare time—but Leslie Hall, a white rapper from Iowa, sees herself as a peer of “Britney, Rihanna, Beyoncé, we’re all doing the same thing,” she tells CNN. Hall became a self-proclaimed “ce-Web-rity” after launching a site devoted to the aforementioned “gem sweaters” in 2004, started rapping to fund the site, and is now in talks for an HBO show.

“For a temporary time, when you discover something on the Internet, it's like the greatest thing you've ever seen,” says Hall, who performs on a homemade stage wearing outfits involving gold lamé and stuffed white tigers. “I think I get lucky with those first-timers. They're just like, 'Oh, my God, I've never seen this before in my life.' It's like a nasty chain letter that just hasn't stopped yet.”

100 Definitive Songs of the '00s

As the 2000s draw to a close, the Telegraph takes a look at the 100 songs that define the decade. The top 10:

"Rehab," Amy Winehouse (2006)
"I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," Arctic Monkeys (2005)
"Crazy In Love," Beyonce (2003)
"Yellow," Coldplay (2000)
"Paper Planes," MIA (2008)
"Bleeding Love," Leona Lewis (2008)
"Hurt," Johnny Cash (2002)
"Seven Nation Army," the White Stripes (2003)
"Can’t Get You Out of My Head," Kylie Minogue (2001)
"Hey Ya," Outkast (2003)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

With New No. 1, Jay-Z Grabs Record From Elvis

Jay-Z and the Beatles lit up the charts this week, Billboard reports. Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 sold 476,000 copies, easily capturing the top spot for the week, and giving the rapper his 11th No. 1 album. That nabs him the record, previously held by Elvis, for the solo act with the most No. 1s ever. The Beatles, meanwhile, sold a whopping 626,000 albums this week, a huge leap from just 21,000 the week before.

The monster of a week nearly doubled the Fab Four’s sales for the year, bringing their 2009 total to 1,261,000. Since SoundScan’s sales tracking began in 1991, the Beatles have never sold less than a million albums in a year. Their best-selling individual album last week was the Abbey Road reissue, which, with 89,000 copies, came in third, behind Blueprint 3 and Miley Cyrus’ The Time of Our Lives.

We Love Justin, Not His Jeans

The latest casualty of the economic crisis: celebrity clothing lines. “Every D-level celebrity who thought they could make a quick buck by designing a handbag or whatever is going to disappear,” Vogue editor Anna Wintour tells the Wall Street Journal. “And I think that's a good thing.” Wannabe-designers including Jennifer Lopez, Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, and Nicky Hilton have had to call it quits on their collections due to disappointing sales.

Even Justin Timberlake—mobbed by hundreds of girls in NYC while promoting his fashion line, William Rast—is struggling. “Being a celebrity gets your foot in the door, but once you are there, people go, ‘OK, now what?’” he says. A big name isn’t enough: brands must be “on trend,” says a Saks exec, citing Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. line—one of the few Saks carries—as an example.

No One Really Wears This Stuff

For everyone who’s ever looked at runway fashions and wondered, “Would anybody really wear that?” Claire Suddath has the answer: No. New York Fashion Week's over-the-top designs, from clothes befitting a 19th-century French prostitute to “outfits that literally have no armholes” are “a form of wearable artwork,” she writes in Time, and they’re more about making a statement—and generating buzz—than anything else.

Basically, fashion designers shell out upwards of $40,000 “to show off clothing they don't expect anyone to buy,” she continues, noting that the themes behind the wacky designs are “later translated into more wearable items.” Which isn’t to say no one wears the more bizarre versions: Madonna showed up at the Met costume gala wearing a pair of Louis Vuitton bunny ears, and she “looked like a rabbit with sculpted biceps.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama Dress Designer Makes It Big

Last January, Jason Wu was a relatively unknown designer, employing six designers and selling his clothes in 10 stores. Then Michelle Obama chose to wear his white, one-shouldered gown, to the inauguration. That event made Wu, the Wall Street Journal reports. Now Wu sells his designs at 40 stores, including Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Harrods, and he employs 10, plus a personal assistant.

Last night, Wu unveiled his first post-breakthrough collection, at a fashion week runway show at New York’s St. Regis Hotel. The collection branches out from the demure gowns he’s known for, adding sexier, more modern outfits, outerwear, and daywear. “This is Mr. Wu at the St. Regis,” says the 26-year-old. “I’m grown up.” He’s planning a big expansion of his studio soon, and his own Jason Wu stores.