Another night in Kingston city.

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In my 20s I could go out any night of the week and find multiple lounges to listen some strong lyrically driven reggae music or some sweat inducing sexually charged dancehall music, find a various range of sexy bodied women that you could “wine up pon” for hours, have a couple drinks get a nice likkle buzz, then go home contented even if you didn’t get a number or a little more…

Tonight feeling nostalgic, I decided to check out the 2017 Jamaican experience.

To be among the nicest most aggressive people in the world.

I’ve also been inviting a couple friends to welcome them to Jamrock, they love the music and I’ve been getting 4am facebook messages on the impact of “Vybz” being in prison and the upcoming ban on his music.

Yes Bryan I’m talking about you.

So I know all the adventurous, scenic places to take them between myself and Yofoot Explores.

But what about an odd night in Kingston City?

IMG_6370 So Thursday night @ 9:45pm I’m at “Stones Throw bar” vibing to upbeat house music. A rustic out of the way bar on Manning’s Hill Road (aka a Matie/side chick bar) across from the gas station.

Sipping in a Heineken in the company of someone sounding dutch and a group of ppl that look like they grew up in the same neighborhood and somewhat still close, as close as free drinks and a night out of the parental sanctioned disappointment house can get you.

I’ve been here a couple of times for Dubwise/Rockers, an eclectic music mix of reggae, house music and dub.

But I’ve never stayed here long…

I was crushing on this amazon looking chinese girl (Jamaican Chinese) that worked here, a fetish I picked up hanging in Soho and Chinatown in NYC, that I’ve yet to fulfill I might add…but she’s not here anymore.

And as much as I like the music…tonight I’m in search of my culture…the Jamaican experience.

I mean here is part of the cultural experience and where I’m going to or end up won’t be any different in terms of the cigarette smoke filled breaths, but I rather less pretentious weed smoke…so onto the next.

(Yes I’m typing this at the bar)

I drove to another bar down the road…that closes at 10:30pm …they are new an I’m holding back the name until my third visit.

On to New Kingston…

I got an ideal parking spot on Knutsford Blvd and had a 15min conversation about ethics, honesty and courage with the unofficial parking attendant of Knutsford blvd…well one of them.

I’ve known or been seeing this dude here since 2005, his bedroom is right in front of the bookstore (smart right?)

Anyways he relayed being stabbed by 2 thieves that was vandalizing a friend of his stall on Dumfries Road, which I recommend no one walk on this road after 8pm unless you know people there, of which most of y’all don’t!

After I popped into Triple Century the sport bar of Jamaican cricket star Chris “don’t blush baby” Gayle. I heard they have a girl’s night thing on Thursdays, but alas…it’s 11pm it’s too early for anything or anyone to be there.

So I left.

IMG_6371Level 96 off hope road in Liguanea that used to be Medusa (I’m pretty sure it had 2 other names before this)…empty.

100 gaming lounge…was emptying out…

Mostly fat girl’s squeezed into 3 sizes too small dresses and taking pictures beside a giant gaming lounge logo, because no one will believe them unless they do.

Waterfalls lounge..I forgot about this place and it seemed packed, but wasn’t in the mood for old oldies music or paying a cover.

I got hungry on the way and since I was on the Liguanea area went the second best pan chicken spot in Kingston, Northside Plaza…but 5bills and wheat bread thou…?

quad_fadeBack at Triple Century, fair size crowd had gathered. The young gyal dem dey yah, so I took my spot at the bar and settled in.

What also settling in was how old I was, the music that we that used to wait to play at 3-4am signaling “bruk out” time (you know when Vybz Kartel was black)was now early warm up music and no one was dancing, well not like we would.

The comparisons of my youth started stumbling in…but I stopped myself and said I was taking myself out of the moment and tried to enjoy it for what it was.

I mean the elements were still there;

Half naked sexy women, thumping bass line coming from the speaker boxes, Liquor readily available, the ratio of men to women being off, more guys than women and the smoke.

Yes the smoke….not weed, not cigarettes but party smoke, the kind everyone can tell where you were the day after.

Oh and a random out of place, too eager tourist, oh it’s Kingston so they’re called expats here.

As the music played on and more people came in, my mind drifted to where I could find a raw-er experience.

“Some dance mus a gwan sum wey”

My barber did mention a party in Waterhouse on Thursdays that’s frequent by a lot of foreigners and locals, but I don’t have boobs so I’m not planning to venture down in the “garrison” at 1am without prior safety notice.

It might not be needed but I’m not willing to take the chance of a random “accident”.

By this time my 24hrs of no sleep started taking a toll, so I decided to call it a night plus there was the last boss in Darksiders 2 on the PS3 I had to kill, so as my favorite Trini boss use to say…

“Home time!”

I leave this adventure for another time, whenever I have foreign company or with the natives.

I’m gonna try a Tuesday night next.

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Acting like we care…and the things we do to change the world.

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Can you help me, please?

I’ve never really thought of myself as an Activist, active and sometime acting yes, but never an Activist.

The older I get, the more I want to shout at people when they aren’t indulging in their humanity, for whatever frivolous reason. Turning up their noses with their selfie sticks in an elevator and just being general dicks!

Now I’m not saying activism is all about a bunch of people going around and shouting at everybody else from their Trojan moral high horse, in fact as much as I want to punch people in the head (because that’s what most people understand, and it saves my voice) most of the times for being stupid on issues that affect the environment or the lives of other human beings. I realise that they form these opinions solely based on their own comforts and the limited information that they hold on to for dear life.

All I can do is inform them of different points of view, demonstrate another way of thinking and leave it to simmer in their subconscious. If I can get you to question the status quo, well for me, that’s a big start.

The state of the world is constantly being showcased, now more than ever because of the internet. With billions of people reporting worldwide, it’s easier to know what’s going on in the deepest parts of an African tungsten mine, an Australian archeological dig site and even in a whale’s stomach frozen in the Antarctic sea with just the tap of your finger.

But the information we consume daily through the most popular and convenient media is used to divide us every day along gender, race and class lines. All this division could be sorted with a couple of finger taps on a smart phone and reading with an open mind. One could say there’s no need for ignorance, but what do I know, after all this could all be” fake news” or “alternative facts”.

I’ve also noticed that I’m becoming more inclined to looking at a future for the younger generations and the betterment of all mankind, even though for me personally I’m comfortable with a lawn chair, some nice headphones, an iPad to write on that’s also full of music to listen to.

Through my day job, when I’m not daydreaming, recently I’ve been working on projects that’s either cancer related, about the environment or along the lines of the human rights fight, and it hits me how most of the time these projects are targeting the same set of people and using the same message tool…guilt.

“How would you feel if it was your sister?”

“What kinda person are you to stand by and allow this to happen?”

“You don’t know what they’re going through, it could be your brother!”

Personally I tend to get defensive when people ask me these questions over and over and I know I’m not the only one. It tends to lead me to either block out the full message and stare back at them trying to find their intent, which unless you have all the background information is difficult to find. So you tend to just make it up, you can say your brain does it automatically as a survival mechanism.

While you’re standing there trying to figure all this out, a wildebeest could be charging to bite your head off. Either way you end up missing the whole point.

Who would you consider to be in the wrong here?

The messenger, that feels in order to connect with people on a human level and fulfill a quota they have to appeal to a “bleeding heart” by laying it on thick, a thick dose of guilt for you being in a better situation, or so they think.

Or would you blame the audience that have been roped into so many of these “help the less fortunate” appeals that they just block out the next one to keep their hearts from bleeding frivolously and they end up dismissing every sob story that they are told after as a scam?

This opens up a whole can of questions that we won’t address here,

But for sure there are people that need help, there are people trying to help and there are others that are trying facilitate in some manner (mostly monetary) to fulfill that request.

There are a couple things that are missing though, the real intention, the update and the end result.

Now adding the “intent, update and result” formula isn’t practical for everyone of these interactions, but it’s useful to determine which ones you want to participate in. Imagine initiating an interactive story, getting everyone to pay to participate, then not caring about the ending, even thou you’ve gotten everyone’s money?

That’s why these Kickstarter or Indiegogo crowdfunding projects offer incentives to participants depending on how much money you contribute. This is kind of harder to do with someone’s life, what, do you get to borrow the kid for 2 days, if he’s feeling up to it, or you take selfies for your IG page? #hangingwiththecancerkidselfie

We really should just care and stop acting like we do (not you Bono, we all know you’re secretly a Care Bear). Give what you can when you can and expect nothing in return not even appreciation, it should be welcomed not demanded otherwise it defeats the whole purpose. It’s more about being righteous in your intentions and honest in your actions.

Which normally takes you being deeply emotionally involved and a having a passion to see things through to some sort of end result. Even if it means just listening, get a contact number, do some research on the illness and/or the charity then make a decision. Don’t let your decisions be driven by how blessed you felt that day or the guilt they made you felt for being healthy, able and willing.

Who knows maybe one day we’ll be so active in the betterment of Mankind, we might actually do it.

Perspective 

Art found at the Floating gallery on Frenchmen St., New Orleans
What happens when your whole life becomes filled with distractions?
When you are not sensitive to our human instincts, losing touch with what makes us different from the animals we scorn.

Giving away our choices for social norms and a less challenged path, touting peace of mind or is it complacency?

Ethics, sense of community, companionship, love with a sense of wonderment, different ways of learning and stimulations.

Where are we?

Where are we going?

Do we want to go anywhere anymore, as a group?

 

It seems all we want to do is escape…

Just being somewhere else physically, hoping it will change our mindset or situations

Forcing us to grow,

Evolve…

Relax…

Focus…
Yes focus,

Find whatever is important to us and stick with that.

After all, we’ve escaped everything else.

But will that urge ever be filled?

Will it be quenched?

Solely because we are doing nothing to satisfy it?
I’ve been guilty of this, wanting more but not know how to get it.

Not even knowing what it was that I wanted but rather what I didn’t want.

Allowing to that to guide me, the anywhere but here strategy.
I’ve accepted or recognized the need as a starting point and how it can manifest itself in my uncomfortableness with walls physical and otherwise.

Like;

Having four people of more around me…

Sitting at my work desk with the phone ringing, emails pinging, a glass window with the shades drawn and a clients standing behind me…yapping.

A document window open at the “fit in window” option selected where you can see the borders of the program.

Everywhere I was boxed in…I thought at the time.

Until I choose to look up.

I changed my perspective.

I found a way out

Being in the situation, I learned to see it before it happened and stopped it or just got out.

Kingston Dub

Flyer on Kingston dub club Facebook page

So I’m here on a hill side in Kingston, a 10min drive from Papine square.

On a Sunday evening, a very cool evening on account of the rain, I decided the do my culture tour.

As we step down what feels like too many uneven steps, that make you walk like a giant as you miscalculating them, I’m greeted by a familiar smell… ahh…escallion.

This tells me I’m in the home of a nature lover aka Rastafarian, one that grows his own ingredients. You’d think it’d be smoke from some sensi that hits you first but you would be re-enforcing a stereotype.

But that smell isn’t far behind because my friend tonight I venture up on Jack’s Hills to Kingston dub club.

As i make my way in I’m surprised by all the tourist up here…it’s like the Tower of Babel, but I’m mostly surprised by the ratio tonight…out of many…white people!

And by white people I mean non locals…

Now if you’ve never been…your basically walking into a musical garden that has different levels and areas.

There an open paved off area for “skanking” (dancing), where there’s a huge wall of speakers that music is pouring out it, grabbing you by the hip and swaying you, two wooden picnic park benches to the side and a tent for the selector and a featured artist to give a small lyric but powerful performance. Tonight was a veteran selector from outta the U.K. Jah Shaka the Mighty Zulu Warrior with his followers (male and female) surrounding the tent.

When sitting at these picnic benches after wearing out your feet from all the skanking…which a lot of people seem to have done, you look up and the moon’s sky twinkling with dancing starlights peeps out from all the dark green leaves of all the plants and trees above, tonight even the moon came out with its fullest.

You can step down to the right of the DJ tent to short but a narrow corridor, where the left takes you to the bathroom and the right takes you to another open area in the back of the house. Where there’s a kitchen, a large wooden bar and lounge area that over looks the lights of Kingston. The deck lounge has wooden floors, a couple of benches and chairs that didn’t all matched but fits right in with the rustic mellow decor vibes.

So back here you can just grab a Red Stripe (foreigners), Heineken (hip locales), Guinness/Dragon (yard roots man), Appleton or White rum (older folks) or a naturally made fruit juices (naturalist & foreigners who have work in the morning) and bask in the lights of the night sky, with the aroma of herb smoke.

If you didn’t bring your own you can grab a bag anytime from a facilitator either with a knapsack and kind words or one that has bags in hand interjecting the name of his product between the lyrics of the music as he weaves through the crowd.

There’s an area inside the house only so deep that sells memorabilia of the club and a wall with Augustus Pablo records on the wall. He was a Jamaican roots reggae and dub record producer, melodica player and keyboardist the owner of this club was associated with.

Back in the lounge area I stood with my back to the bar only turning around to order another beer, just observing the people and watching the moving lights of traffic down below. I decided not to talk to anyone tonight as I just came for the music so I head back to the front.

Jah Shaka was playing tunes old and new…well new to me.

There’s was no mixing, the song would play until it was done then switched to another record with all its cracks, bumps and hisses… Did I mention this is all vintage vinyl records? So no one dared to “wheeeeeeeel up” any song.

Every time I see a nice empress…the ones that make your eyes and the corner of your mouth tilts…she closely followed by her king and you’re negated to looking at the “tourists” as you don’t want to diss nobody.

Looking out into the crowd, above the dance floor more people were coming down and there was an over enthusiastic dread in a full white outfit with a PACO jeans jacket. I refer to him as the flag man of the night. Have you ever watched a live concert of a Rastafarian performer and in the back is a flag bearer, waving the Ethiopian flag vigorously and dancing up a storm the whole performance. Which I honestly think it’s the same dude…those dance moves are not taught unless they are passed down from father to son.

By 11pm the ratio seems to be even now, I forgot Jamaicans like to come out later to things, the club’s Instagram page said from 8pm-2am and I got here at 9:30, so that’s not bad. Of late I’d get to a place @11/12 and be the only one there beside the staff.

I made another bee line to the bar grab another beer, I’m on my fifth but it’s the music that was giving me a buzz, I decide to take the long way around and check out the 3 stalls on the other side of the house. There was a guy selling books, and two others selling craft and jewelry, nothing quite interested me so I moved on.

Back at the bar, I noticed a couple people I knew and knew off, did the head nod of acknowledgement and moved to my spot.

There’s a lot of friendly interactions that happened right in front of me at the bar…well it seems as I can’t make out what language they were speaking, but it sounded pleasant.

There was this guys I couldn’t quite remember where I knew him from but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake people do with me and mistake me for someone totally different. It racked my mind for a bit then gave in and said my subconscious will tell me when it’s ready and continued to sip my beer.

This is an haven for artist upcoming and practicing, performance and visual, on stage and behind the scene…film, yes film…Kurt!

I met Kurt way back in college as a friend of my friend Kyle, I’ve read about his short film being in a Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, I wanted to check it out but I was living in St. Lucia at the time and just came back from a short trip home, so that one missed me.

Thou I haven’t seen all the film, I read enough to spark my interest of the story in front and behind the camera.

As I was leaving all this came to mind so I hailed him up, thanked him for maintaining the culture through films and exposing our non “typical” stories and talent.

As my night ended at 1am, I left on a musical high that was cool in more than one way, promising to return with more people or even talk to some.

Waiting in Limbo for… : Awake at 2am in Kingston city

I’m looking for my voice…

My vice? My vision? My validity? Vagina…?

Value…the word is value, that’s what I was looking for.

A friend of mine says I use that word a lot thou…”vagina”, my favorite word is pum pum (I’m Jamaican and I just love how it rolls off the tongue, no pun intended) the word just fascinates me really…it just sounds invasive but potent or should I say enveloping?

Rather I really like the reaction you get when you slip it into a conversation, especially randomly…the uncomfortable delight.

I’m in limbo…I’ve been here enough times to recognize the furniture that’s floating around me…ahh…I know that arm chair! 

Surprisingly it’s comforting to me.

Now I’m going to say something that that some people don’t expect from me with all my cynicism and skeptic views.

It’s comforting because it’s always before a next step, and my track record has shown a lot of forward steps…thou this could be classified as a step backward as I’ve been in limbo a lot of times before, but I think it’s more of a circle.

Well more of a infinite loop where you have an option to change out the square tiles along the path…indefinitely.
So limbo a state of uncertainty or a place or state of neglect or oblivion.

Is it that place where you are waiting for something to happen, someone to show up, gather the courage, information to move on or back? Where you’re just up in the air, with no solid footing…with little or no control in what direction you are going…going… well you are going somewhere…in a direction, this might not be where you want to go…but you are moving.

So why are people afraid or uncomfortable with being in limbo?
Maybe it’s observatory skills where I just sit, wait and watch for something to interest me, but I don’t feel that uncomfortable in limbo. Thou they are times when it gets real quiet and it’s 3:34 in the morning, you turn your second monitor off, log off YouTube/Netflix, close down your computer screen and lay in a semi cool room after a rainy day, partially wrapped in a comforter because out of practices I won’t get into bed naked and in socks. 😁

You stare into a dark gray room…it’s not fully pitch black as they are little light pockets here and there; a phone light flashing, a speaker reminding you that music soothes the savages beasts in your mind, I’m just a click away.

Street lights peaks in from a cracked window alerting you to listen…

They are dogs barking faintly…they are cars…they are streets…they are people gathering, they are the allure of half naked women pulsating to music as we…type.

But I’m here…alone, by choice but alone none the less.

This reminds you of;

Your relationship status…

Your financials…

Your career…

Your family (blood & bonded), how much more you want to help…

The family you don’t have…

The friends you miss…

The missed friendships… 

You beg for a distraction…is this too much?

Does the fear of uncertainty…or the solace of finding the answers that;

Maybe you’re not good enough…

Maybe there is something wrong with you.

Maybe this is all you have to give? 

Maybe this is not your path?

Maybe they left because of you…

Maybe you are hard to be around 

The maybes…

I guess that’s why people are not that fond of limbo.
But as I said, It does fill me with a familiar hope

Transitions, moving on, moving forward learning to be more confident in your next steps, as you get used to them.
I laid in bed from 5 oclock this evening, sleeping half, awake half, avoiding the rest…
But mostly waiting…for the next tic of the clock or my next step?

Freedoms

Sitting in trunk of my 2010 Suzuki swift, in the parking lot of sovereign centre shopping mall in Liguanea people watching as I do and drinking a ice cold Heineken (as it should be), I’m dressed in a striped blue H&M shirt and a lightly faded Old Navy boot cut jeans, which is the only jeans that fits me quite well…not too short not tight. Why am drinking a beer in the middle of the day? because the sun is out in it’s full force and being redirected from the asphalt from below, a Jamaican phrase came to mind, used to describe a cooking method of one our delicacies called “blue draws”. “Hell a tap, hell a bottam and alleluia inna de middle”, where you put hot coals on the top and below of a covered pot to evenly bake this pudding.
But the heat wasn’t what got me noticeably annoyed,

it was this taxi that passed by a minute earlier.
There I was minding random people businesses as they go about their routine, this lady drove pass looked like she was shouting something me, so I pull down my Beats by Dre headphones just in time to hear…

“…Oh i thought you were Beenie Man!”

In reaction as I was mouthing the words…”Bitc…” they drove off.
Now I’ve been mistaken for multiple people on multiple occasions and I seem to have a problem with mid 20 year old white guys always coming over to talk to me when I’m out exploring or chilling at a bar, then I end up having lengthily conversations on how not to be needy, creepy and stop staring. My brother says it’s the “Cool Jamaican effect”

They just senses it and hopes it rubs off.

One night in Boston this “drunk by speech and smell” dude came over shout asking if i was Will.I.AM from the Black Eye Peas?, dude you know he cut off his dreads 3 years ago! (at the time)
So as I was there sitting with the radio on, moving from the BBC Station and music I bought on iTunes “Fuck, Was I – Jenny Owen Youngs” was playing, wiping off some dirt from the whites of my gray Converses.

I got comfortable again and took another sip of cold beer and wondered if my second office had cleared up any, which was why i was out there in the first place.

A client J.Wray & Nephew had called earlier requesting some artwork being sent to the newspaper, I had some errands on the road earlier that morning, tax office being one of them, i took my laptop with me just in case.

5 hours later, with no where to sit in Cafe Blue, Wifi not picking up and now I have to “shot it” back home so I can send off this file and 7 of the 15mins I told the client I’ll send it had gone.
I started to wonder about a note I wrote in traffic 20 minutes earlier (I always have a note book with me to write my brain farts down, I don’t use twitter)
“What are the freedoms we take for granted or realize we have”
This was after listening to a story about an underground clinic in war torn Madaya, Syria ran by two dental students and a male nurse (and they say there’s no good men around) where they had to perform some operations through a WhatsApp group of doctors, courage and conviction.

Earlier I read about a Chinese artist who’s father who was a poet that was considered an enemy of the state for writing about a garden with multiple beautiful flowers unlike what the right nationalist wanted him to write about just one flower, not highlighting the beauty in the culture of others.

He was imprisoned, labeled and exiled, he ended up burning his works there after because he didn’t want his family to suffer anymore.

From malnourishment and forced to acknowledge their mortality, even as a five year old kid.

And here i am just sitting on island time, enjoying island life with fact that I can just sit in a parking lot and watch people.
You’ve noticed I’ve been labeling and listing out the brand of things in this post.

The things I have, the things i worry about are when i’m going to go on my next trip that i have to finance myself or that I have a chose between not taking a plastic bag, fork or straws from Popeyes because I’m in my car and I’m heading home, why do I need you spork? Even if i wasn’t heading home…whats wrong with my hands?

Thou I live in a “third world country”, I can choose between being fat or fit, between being rich, middle class or poor, a refreshing water source of a beach or river and I have a wider range of girls I can try a get with, yes even the fatties (…pi pi pi pon de batty).
They say “don’t compare yourself to others” but I say “you just have to be mature enough to deal with you see”
I cant help but look at where I could be and be happy with that,

I’m…appreciating the things I can and will do, enjoying the journey and moments in between.