Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review of X-Men #8 (Wood/Dodson/Dodson/Keith)

I decided to continue reviewing the - well - one comic book that I'm reading at the moment. Look earlier on my blog if you want to see my review of X-Men 7. It also gives a brief overview about what led to this moment. Briefly, last issue saw the return of Monet St. Croix to the X-Men and an introduction of the new Lady Deathstrike, which is an amalgamation of the old one (Yuriko) and a teenage socialite (Ana Cortes). There was a failed attempt on what she expected to be the Omega Sentinel technology. The "cliffhanger" was Lady Deathstrike discovering Arkea and having hired Typhoid Mary.

Now... Let's get into the current issue.

  • Lady Deathstrike's hired hand Typhoid Mary sets off the security system at the Jean Grey School. Psylocke chases her, but she escapes. If you've been reading this series so far, you can make a really educated guess what Typhoid Mary made off with.  
  • Rachel calls Sublime to tell him the news. He just happens to be at Lady Deathstrike's place. Typhoid Mary arrives with the package. Sublime tries to convince Deathstrike of the danger and inadvertently makes a discovery that gives him hope. Deathstrike demands more info. Sublime refuses. Typhoid Mary doesn't have time for that and does her thing! Now, LD and TM know where the rest of the "package" is!
  •  Sublime is saved by Psylocke, who saw the latter part of the exchange. She has what I consider the best line of the book.
  • LD and TM head to the first part of the package and run into another villainess not typically associated with the X-Franchise. After the awkward confrontation followed by a recognition and a conversation, LD makes her an enticing offer.
  • Jubilee is trying to get Bling! to talk with Storm and Rachel about her problems with Mercury. Bling! has other ideas. Awkward moment made worse by M's timely arrival to announce Jubilee needs to suit up for a mission.
  • Typhoid Mary decides to renegotiate her fee with Lady Deathstrike. LD is agreeable. With three people on their team, she announces that this is the beginning of The Sisterhood.
What I liked:
  • The rapport between Rachel and Psylocke is consistently one of the strongest parts of the book. You can tell they are good friends and at the same time Psylocke is frustrated with her.
  • Storm and Rachel have an exchange that wasn't contentious. Of course, everyone else wasn't there at the time.
  • Wood's not trying to make this Lady Deathstrike like her previous portrayals. Granted, it is only her second issue, but the new LD definitely has her host's brashness.
  • Psylocke's "voice" was consistently awesome and her first line as she spoke to Sublime was gold.
  • Small thing... but I liked how Sublime knew he wasn't alone.
  • Jubilee's dialogue was thankfully more big sisterly in this issue, even during the WTF moment. Jubilee's "not impressed" face was priceless. In this particular scene, I suspect the art told more of the story than the dialogue.
What I didn't like:
  • Typhoid Mary managing to break in and steal something from the Jean Grey School. It seems as problematic as Lady Deathstrike's assistant hacking into their files and no one knowing anything about it. That place and the information on Arkea she got should have been locked up tighter than NORAD. Security - much less at a school that is being attacked every other day - shouldn't be that weak even at night!
  • Too much of this setup relied on coincidences. Sublime just happened to be at Lady Deathstrike's place when Typhoid Mary swiped a piece of his sister? One of the meteor pieces Lady Deathstrike is looking for just happens to be in the same place where Thor imprisoned the Enchantress? The Enchantress just happens to recognize Lady Deathstrike, who is in a new body and wearing facepaint she never wore before?
  • Have Lady Deathstrike and the Enchantress ever been in the same comic book together? (Honestly... I don't know. Hope someone can answer that for me.) And even if so, WHY would the Enchantress just break down and tell her everything? Or Lady Deathstrike sit around and listen? Don't get me wrong; if there is indeed a prior relationship between the two characters, I would LOVE for someone to let me know. It just came across as "We're all villains. Let's hang out and form a partnership."
  • Bling! WTF?! If that was how you asked Mercury out, you deserved to get punched.
Other thoughts:
  • Lady Deathstrike as Yuriko is a martial arts badass... but this one is not. Not only was Sublime able to knock her down and rip the Arkea piece from her, but Typhoid Mary put a sword to her neck and didn't get so much as smacked. Perhaps Cortes is a greater part of her consciousness than we're being led to believe.
  • Honestly, I don't know how Lady Deathstrike thinks a glorified technovirus that will probably take her over is going to give her unimaginable power to make her partner's dreams come true.
  • I don't think Bling! is being straightforward with Jubilee. Why else would the art point out Mercury and Bling! glaring at each other before Bling! makes her WTF move or Mercury's reaction?
  • I seriously hope Jubilee's not taking Shogo on this mission with her. If that is going to be a regular thing, then the X-Men look like fools for not staging an intervention or calling Children's Protective Services. Part of my expectation as a reader is that her return to the X-Men (with baby that she just officially adopted... even though it would have been less hassle if he had been her biological child) would cement her status as Senior X-Man as opposed to the longest fledgling status ever.
I didn't like this issue as much as I did the last one. The reliance on sheer coincidence and complete implausibility in order to push the plot forward really weakens what is the one book I've been looking forward to for the better part of a year. I will acknowledge that a launch delay, a shoehorned and contrived X-Men "event", and a major cast change early in the book completely broke up the flow, but it doesn't encourage me when I have to suspend my belief this far to explain this plot is unfolding.

Don't misunderstand me. I want this book to succeed, not due to the "novelty" of having an all-female team, but because it is the only core X-Men that doesn't have a thing to do with the some old tired Wolverine/Cyclops pissing match that Marvel has been shoving down our throats for the past few years. While I could let some things go (like the pay phone with a "redial" button) in the first arc, the number of "just happeneds" that I had to let go of in this issue alone makes me concerned that it will fail and Marvel will get the wrong message about why.

All the best and Merry Christmas!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad!

If you have been following me on Facebook, then you know that one of my “things” is periodically snapping pictures of my father. Usually, we’ll be at some restaurant about to eat. I don’t know why I started doing it, but I do. His reaction has run the gamut of “Put that phone down” to “I’m hiding my face!” Dad is just Dad.

Crash course on Dad: Born and raised in Hampton, VA in the midst of Jim Crow. It’s not a chapter in a history book for my father; he lived it. Schools were segregated. Blacks were barred from certain places and positions. Classmates of his were lynched. When he was an adult, he wasn’t allowed to vote. I could go on. Attended Hampton Institute (now University). Served in the U.S. Army. Attended Penn State for grad school. Worked for Owens-Illinois in Research and Development. Had eight children, two with severe disabilities. Married to mom for 42 years. A bunch of other stuff. It’s Dad.

Dad is one of the smartest people I know. I’m not just saying that just because he’s Dad, either. Even from a young age, he was crazy about science. One of my uncles told us this story about my young father figuring out how to make a small bomb and inadvertently exploding it in my aunt’s face. This guy is one of the few people I know who worked on computers back when they were the size of an entire building, required punch cards, and had MUCH less memory in them than you have on your I-Pod. He worked on the patent for the Coca Cola bottle! Oh yeah… and he has three Masters degrees… After he retired, this guy looked up everything there was to know about running and physiology and taught himself how to coach track/cross country and got results from his runners! There’s all sorts of stuff I could throw out there about him.

For the love of God, if you ever meet Dad, don’t fucking bullshit him. He can smell it a mile away. He’s the sort that will let you continue while giving you enough rope to hang yourself. If you’re going to argue with him - and all of his children have done plenty of it - just know your stuff. Don’t insult his intelligence because you are the one who is going to look like a fucking moron.

Dad is also one of the strongest people I know. From current health challenges to devastating life experiences, he has kept going even in the darkest of times. He’s got a list of health conditions and yet every day is up to mischief, arguing with all of us, teasing all the medical staff, and plotting on how to get solar panels on the roof. If anything comes up, he’s googling it.

There are a few bad habits of his, however. No, I’m not talking about alcohol or cigarettes or anything like that. I’m talking about his feedings the dogs off his dinner plate… or spying on me through Facebook… You know that Stevie Wonder song? The correct refrain is “I just called to say I’m hungry.” Back in my college days, Dad would call me at 2:30 AM because “Why weren’t you in your dorm at midnight?” There are times I’ve said to him “I’m 36. If I can’t find my way home by now, I’m going to be lost forever.”

I admit that I do joke and pick on Dad and - yes - argue with him. A lot. The reason is because I am so glad that he is in my life. I wouldn’t give up Dad for anything in the world, even the $100K Bosendorfer or Steinway pianos I’ve been lusting after for years. I will share my father, however.

Happy Birthday and Happy Thanksgiving, Dad. We love you.

Oh… and we all forgot to buy the sweet potatoes. Sorry, Dad. All the stores are out. No sweet potato pie this year.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review of X-Men #7

Wait... Hold on... This blog is about my music and my career. What am I doing posting a review of a comic book on it?

Frankly... Why not? I've never done a review before and I need to get back in the habit of writing anyway, so I just decided to start going for it. Who needs focus, anyway?

So... I'm reviewing X-Men #7. The creative team is made of Brian Wood (writer), Terry Dodson (pencils), Rachel Dodson (inker), and Jason Keith (colorist).

A little background on me and Marvel Comics:

If you have connected with me on Twitter or Facebook, then you likely know that I like comic books, particularly the X-Men. There was a time in my younger days where I used to drop pretty close to $40 a month on the X-Men and their various satellite books. As bills have increased and my income decreased, I have since become increasingly selective. I’m not going to spend my limited money on what I feel is low to mid-level, called-in, editorially-dictated, big event-driven garbage. Age of Apocalypse, Operation: Zero Tolerance, Onslaught… I wasn’t a fan of all of them, but at least there was cohesion. There was a gripping story that made sense in all the levels.

Nothing that Marvel has put out in recent years compares even remotely. Straight out, their directions as of late have become increasingly contrived and focused far more toward the “plot” than the characters involved. “Hey… Let’s power up the Scarlet Witch to a cosmic level and have her remove a fucking gene from millions of people across multiple realities… and then have no current or prominent X-Men be affected in any great or permanent capacity and ignore all the depowered mutants formerly in their ranks.” “Let’s have the X-Men split off between Wolverine and Cyclops.” “Let’s have the Avengers and the X-Men fight over the avatar of the Phoenix for the first time EVER and make a shock with THE PHOENIX FIVE.”

Straight out, it’s all bullshit. The current direction and angle of the X-Books are pretty much centered around Cyclops and Wolverine’s played-to-death 30+-year-old Jean Grey squabble. It was old when Jean died the first time. It’s still old years after Grant Morrison killed her off. (Don’t get me started on the logistics of that.)

Brian Wood’s X-Men relaunch:

ANYWAY, when this new X-Men book by Brian Wood was announced, I actually got excited because as far as I could see it had nothing to do with Cyclops vs. Wolverine. Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Shadowcat, Rachel Grey, and bringing Jubilee back with a subplot. A lot of potential, obviously. I figured with other writers in the works that there was no way Wood was going to be able to hold onto all of them, but he would hopefully be able to do quite a bit.

  • “Primer” was the first arc. I won’t rehash or review everything, but I was overall pleased with it. It was clearly a setup for the book, introducing the characters and the subplots. Here’s what you need to know about it: 
  • Sublime kicked his sister off-world billions of years ago. She’s back for revenge. She controls technology.
  • Jubilee kidnapped – er I mean – adopted an implanted orphan from Bulgaria. His name is Shogo.
  • Arkea infected Omega Sentinel/Karima Sharpandar.
  • Rachel and Sublime have chemistry… and she has no clue Sublime is the one that killed her mother Jean Grey.
  • Rachel and Storm are openly fighting each other for leadership.
On the tail of this solid introduction was a one-off and the Marvel event “Battle of the Atom,” which was billed at celebrating the X-Men's 50th Anniversary. Straight out, Battle of the Atom SUCKED. It was contrived like all the Marvel events are and I tried to give it a chance and honestly, I’m mad at myself for wasting the money on it. Just… Don’t touch that garbage.

NOW… onto X-Men #7. Yes, there be spoilers. They're semi-general here, but they get more detailed when I get into the likes/dislikes.

  • It begins by introducing out new Lady Deathstrike, Ana Cortes. (No relationship at all to X-Men foe Fabian Cortez.) It explains her background and shows how she becomes the new Lady Deathstrike. There are still things left open about why she wanted this. I figure that’s something we’ll find out later. She wants something from the X-Men.
  • Jubilee gets good news and her mood is ruined by Monet St. Croix’s timely arrival. If you haven’t read Generation X, they have history.
  • Monet meets Karima Sharpandar who has a new development. They bond quickly, which makes sense.
  • Lady Deathstrike starts to make her move and starts too soon. She didn’t count on M. She escapes because she’s not ready.
  • M and Karima tell the informal X-Men team what’s up. Storm asks M to hang around. More tension.
  • Bling reveals to Jubilee what happened.
  • Lady Deathstrike finds out something that interests her FAR more and her new partner is revealed on the last page.
What I liked:
  • I’m a fan of the new Lady Deathstrike already. Her setup did justice to the name and to the characters. Her look is awesome. Her being the same age as Jubilee also shows promise.
  • M joining is perfect, both in terms of balancing the departure of Kitty and Rogue, but also in the long-term tension with Jubilee. They were rivals in Generation X and both had fallen in love with Synch just before he was killed!
  • Karima Sharpandar’s new “status quo” is promising.
  • M’s instant clicking with Karima makes sense given what both of them had experienced.
  • Surprised by M using telekinesis. I don’t think that has been done since the introduction of her sisters back in the Phalanx Covenant. It was definitely the first time this M used it that I remember.
What I didn’t like:
  • The art. The Dodsons generally do good work, however the coloring and look were problematic in this issue. M, Karima, Lady Deathstrike, Typhoid Mary, and even Psylocke could all be mistaken for each other at different points in this book because they’re all women with long dark hair with extremely similar skin tones.
  • Jubilee acted too “teeny-boppery” overall. Fine… She’s 18. She has a child. She is finished with high school. (Thank God, seeing she’s been around since 1989.) I understand she’s young. She’s not that much younger than M or even Rachel! There hardly seemed to be any difference in the maturity level between her and the kids still in school. With the exception of that one scene where she’s acting “big sis” to Bling, she’s really coming off “junior X-Man” when she’s supposed to be their equal.
  • I’m totally not feeling the Rachel vs. Storm thing. Storm has been the leader of the X-Men for 30 years. I just don’t see the justification for Rachel challenging her for leadership.
  • Reiko hacked into the X-Men’s database and the X-Men don’t have a clue? Rogue was right. Beast is slipping. That shit should have been sealed up tight.
Other thoughts:
  • I’m really hoping Bling isn’t crushing on Jubilee. I was really liking Jubilee being the “Big Sis”/Mentor in previous issues, which is a capacity that none of the other X-Men are filling with the teen group at all. Bling should definitely be Shogo’s official baby-sitter.  (Just say no to Broo.)
  • I’m interested to see why Ana chose to go this particular route and why Wood chose her to be so young. Hot girl? Rich? Young? I don’t know why, but I’m kind of hoping the new Lady Deathstrike is the Sabertooth to M’s Wolverine.
  • The racial and ethnic diversity on the team is striking. Storm is African-American. (Before anyone corrects me, she was born in Harlem. Look it up.) Psylocke is a British woman wearing a Japanese body. Jubilee is Chinese-American. Karima Sharpandar is from India. Monet is Black French/Algerian. Rachel is a Ginger from the Future. As noted before, it was at times difficult to tell Karima, Monet, and Ana Cortes apart. It’s almost enough to make me forget that the creative staff of Marvel Comics is overwhelmingly White males.
  • Marvel really needs to tell the artists to cut it with the promotional artwork displaying Jubilee with her pyrotechnic powers if they have no intention of ever bringing them back. Personally, I’d rather they just give her mutant powers back.
Overall, I liked the book. It’s the only X-Book I’m getting right now, though I may pick up Peter David’s rebooted X-Factor when it comes out. Simply because it isn't completely centered around the Wolverine/Cyclops circle *cough*, I'm really hoping that it succeeds as all these subplots are built up and developed.

All the best! I'm curious to hear what others think of the issue.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Word with Kareem Powell

Back in October, I had the pleasure of talking with Joleen Knowling-Norman, Publisher and CEO of JO Magazine. The main focus is on entertainment, fashion, and the arts. What has me particularly excited for her and the magazine is that it is focused on uplifting the community, which is all too often marginalized. I would much rather be profiled along the likes of actor Omar Gooding or Earvin Magic Johnson than whatever professional athlete acted like and idiot this week. In any case, here is our interview as published in Issue 10 of JO Magazine. I encourage you to check it out.


A Word with Kareem Powell

By Joleen Knowling-Norman 

Reflections in Black and White 

JO: I love the title of the CD. How did you come up with it? 

Kareem: While I was practicing the piano, I happened to look down and see the reflection of my hands on the keys.

JO: How did this project come about?

Kareem: My concept of being a professional musician has always been centered around recording, touring, and performance. While I had been playing with different bands and working as an accompanist and choir director, I knew that none of those alone would pave a road for my working and touring with major artists. To reach that level, I needed to shop around something that showed a taste of my musical abilities. I needed my own product!

It’s nice to have the idea, but the actual execution was more than I counted on. Recording costs money and with my chief sources of income being from part-time and contract work, that meant a shoe-string budget. I even took a loan out against my car! It was well worth it. I learned so much.

Time, money, and lack of experience were all factors, so I made it a priority to keep everything as simple as I could. The entire album is strictly solo piano with every track either an original compositions or an arrangement of a public domain songs. Where genre is concerned, I decided against either jazz or classical. The competition for either is overwhelming, cut-throat, and not the direction I was headed. With my personal stake in this so high, I wanted to maximize the opportunity and set myself apart in an extremely crowded field.

As reluctant as I was to embrace the New Age title, I knew that was my best opening. It provided a clearer route to my goal of breaking into recording and session work. I knew I could create an individual “sound” that others could possibly hear and imagine being on their projects.

Using an acoustic piano was extremely important to me, not only in terms of artistic sound quality, but legitimacy to myself. Just to make it clear, I understand why others prefer electronic pianos. They’re mobile. They don’t have to be tuned. They can be plugged directly into the sound system. They can imitate a range of other instruments. They can loop, sequence, and a bunch of stuff I don’t know. A particularly lazy pianist can get around playing in other keys by pressing a button.

My background and training is as a pianist, not a keyboard player. Once it involves buttons, switches, a programming book, or more than three pedals, you’re getting away from my core as a musician. There is also the visual aspect. I have noticed a tremendous difference in how people respond to me after I’ve played an acoustic versus an electronic piano.

I better stop. I’ll talk about this all day!

JO: Now that the recording is released, how does it feel to have fans creating playlists with your music all over the world? I hear that your music is even being played in Austria…

Kareem: The Digital Age is something else, isn’t it? It’s both amazing and humbling that it is easier than ever to distribute your music all over the world. Where the challenge before was distribution, the new challenge is in finding ways to cut through a highly-saturated market. More musicians than ever are pushing their music out there and the danger is in becoming yet another one jumping up and down screaming “HERE! HERE! LOOK AT ME!!!”

At the same time, you have to find places where the fans are. Right now, I’m being carried on Pandora, Woodroot Radio in Austria, SoloPiano.com, and Sky.Fm Solo Piano Radio. Distributing through CD Baby has been particularly useful in getting my music out to other digital platforms such as iTunes and Spotify. It’s out there and available. The challenge is getting people to remember your name! As you can see, I focused primarily on internet stations. Perhaps I’ll figure out terrestrial radio next…

JO: How did you get into music?

Kareem: I was about five when I started. My older sister was taking piano lessons and I got extremely jealous... and probably very whiny. At the time, there were five other children in the house and my parents likely wanted a reprieve. I took piano lessons for a few months before my teacher moved and then didn’t have another one until I went to college! Obviously, I hadn’t stopped playing the piano.

JO: So your sister inspired you?

Kareem: That won’t see print, will it? I don’t want it to go to her head…

JO: Have there been any significant mentors or role models along the way?

Kareem: Absolutely! A lot of them. There is Paul Murachanian, from whom I took both clarinet and saxophone for nine years and was constantly pulling together instrumental ensembles. My high school choir director Malana Turner went out of her way to provide opportunities to grow.

One of my greatest influences was Dr. Maria Thompson Corley, my piano instructor at Florida A&M University. That woman put me through my paces both at the piano and away from it. Literally. I had to walk a mile off-campus to the Florida State University music library to do research for her legendary take-home exams. She did a lot to inform me and other students about what it takes to be a professional musician and perform at that level.

Getting away from just people I know, I also looked at the career of Jim Brickman. In terms of mainstream music, he’s an excellent model in maintaining his identity as a pianist and songwriter even while collaborating with the likes of Dave Koz, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, and all these other artists. One of my goals is to be one of those pianists so iconic that a listener will be able to pick me out just from the sound.

JO: How do you feel about “Reflections in Black and White” right now? Is it doing pretty well?

Kareem: It has exceeded my expectations! I had made the decision at the beginning that this was going to be a starting point, regardless of how it sold. The project served as a foundation to field further opportunities and build my career. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding.

JO: How so?

Kareem: It’s an entirely new learning curve that comes with it many opportunities to mess up. It sounds cliché, but mistakes teach you more than getting it right. In the process, I’ve learned a lot about the recording process, promotion, and marketing. (I still consider myself to know only slightly more than nothing, however.) It has shown me which directions I can grow and invest my time as an artist and businessman. The feedback has been tremendous and getting an endorsement from writer/director/producer Reginald Hudlin didn’t hurt either!

JO: Academy Award nominee Reginald Hudlin?

Kareem: Boomerang, Bebe’s Kids, Black Panther, The Boondocks, Django Unchained… Yep. That guy. He even mentioned it on his website! He said it passed the “play in the car” test. I’ll take it! It sounds much better than if he hurled it out of the window, ran it over, and then backed back over it again to make sure it was completely pulverized, along with the rest of my hopes and dreams…

JO: You’re melodramatic, aren’t you?

Kareem: How so?

JO: SO… What have you been up to lately?

Kareem: My big story is that I got to play the Grand Ole Opry House on September 18th.

JO: The Grand Ole Opry? Nashville?

Kareem: Technically, it was the Tuesday Night Opry, but yes… Same venue!

JO: How did you get to the Grand Ole Opry House?

Kareem: Twitter! It was a fluke and an awesome example of serendipity or God’s grace.
A little over year ago, I was looking into Nashville. Twitter suggested a country singer/songwriter by the name of Jimmy Wayne. I knew nothing about him or his music, but I clicked “Follow” anyway. Glad I did!

The man has a powerful and inspiring story. Here is the Cliff Notes version: His mother was in and out of jail. Jimmy and his sister were in and out of foster care. When he was a teenager, his stepfather dragged Jimmy and his mother all over the country trying to escape from the law. Jimmy was dumped at the bus station at gunpoint and left on his own. While he was homeless an older couple took him in and housed/parented him enough so he could finish high school and go to college. He’s dedicated his life and music to advocating for kids who have been in his position.

Anyway, Jimmy and I started tweeting back and forth at some point. He announced this “Spotlight Artist of the Week” feature on his website, so I sent in a link to a YouTube video I’d done of “Take It Away” from my album. It was selected and he said to me in his Appalachian drawl “You know, we should do the Opry together.” I figured that was the last time I’d hear anything. That was the beginning of August.

On September 13th, he called me up and asked me to accompany him on the Tuesday Night Opry on a not-yet-released song he wrote with Pat Alger called “How Jesus Felt.” (Pat Alger also co-wrote “The Thunder Rolls” aka the biggest country song ever.) It was only going to be me on the piano and him. I think I said yes before he even finished asking…

The entire situation was definitely intimidating. I was on one of the world’s most famous stages with a national artist in front of 4400 people and being broadcast by WSM Radio to countless more people all over the country. Also performing the same program was Lorrie Morgan, a freshly-shaven Kellie Pickler, and Dierks Bentley. Jimmy was a pro and the performance came together exceptionally well. The coup de grace was when the Opry House raised its lights to show the audience applauding on their feet. I was all done after that.

JO: Wow! So what happens next?

Kareem: As far as a definitive follow-up, I cannot say. I’m pretty sure Jimmy and I will be working together again at some point. (We played The Ryman Auditorium on December 11.)

In the meantime, I’ve been working on tightening up my music-writing and piano. Nashville is a highly-addictive place for a musician and I’ve been making every excuse I can to get there as much as possible and meet people! My goal remains to break into the major recording and touring circuit, which means I need to make some new friends and become a part of the community. The most intimidating part is the sheer amount of stuff I don’t know. Well… and bills don’t pay themselves.

Regardless, another album is certainly in the works. 2013 is set to be an exciting year!

JO: I agree! JO Magazine congratulates you on your start and wishes you much success in this new direction. Thank you for speaking to me!

Kareem: Thank you! This looks like it is going to be a year of growth for both of us! I wish JO Magazine nothing but the best. Let’s go places!