Category: Observation of Life

the things i see around be and my experiences in the circles i visit from time to time.

Another night in Kingston city.

thetalk

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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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.

Am I a Rapist?

So I was listening to BBC radio station one morning and the was a show on discussing the recently surge in kidnappings and killing of women in Jamaica. There was a girl that contacted them through WhatsApp, who was sharing her story and opinions on the issue.

She went on to talk about being terrified to leave her house and how in the back of her mind everyman she goes on a date with might be a potential rapist.

Now I’m screaming at the radio, as she mentions the aggressive nature of Jamaican catcalling, and how they tend to escalate into worse without even she giving them any attention or her addressing them and no one steps up and says anything in condemnation or protest, which I’ve noticed as well and that someone is me at times.

She went on to state percentages and ratios of 7 out 10 friends she have, had been raped.

But she admitted to not having this conversation with any of her male friends, only casually as a news story would present itself.

Now having not being a victim of rape, giving or receiving I set out to get my own insight and figure out the term “rape culture”

The definition of culture based on a google search of which I found two definitions that i would consider close this title;

cul·ture

“…the cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc., in an artificial medium containing nutrients, maintained (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth.” 

And

 “…the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.”

This brought me none closer to an comfortable understanding, so I did what I’ve done over the years…I polled my friends, on WhatsApp this time.

I asked Females:

“So…I have a question that might be hard to answer…and it has no personal bearing other than you are a female friend of mine….

Have you ever been raped?

Or anything that could be classified as such?? 

Do you think we have a rape culture?”

And males:
For research and a potential uncomfortable question….Have you every raped or felt you raped another before or after you felt you were in a “rapey” situation? 

 Do you think we have a rape culture? 

I received various answers that lead to some interesting discussions. Some of these answers were unexpected as well as expected, as most of the women did answer yes, they think we do have a rape culture in Caribbean.

These instances would happen whether  through a lack of understanding of the consequences of being “sexually persistent or aggressive”, by having some sort of entitlement expected at the end of a date, some were molested as a young child and then there was the situation of being the victim of malicious intent, men preying upon the weak; the premeditated, can’t rationalize, no gray area rape!!

Most of the guys answered in the negative, stating that we don’t have a rape culture…per say but they went on to term it as an “expectation” “persistence” “being a galis” “sexually aggression” “male power culture”…

Here are some of the situations and scenarios that came out of my whatsapp research group;

“Are there more “premeditated rapes” or more “situational rapes”, situational would be where you and a girl are making out and theres an expectation of sex… or consent was given before you’ll start having sex, then during it was rescinded, but he dismissed it as sex talk… or a guy had sex with a girl and for whatever reason after she felt that she was raped or felt that she had to give consent because she was afraid of what would happen if she didn’t .

“What happens to the guy in the situation? Does he continue his life long “raping” spree until he “rapes the wrong girl”, ends up in prison or does he finds redemption by accepting accountability for his actions?

“Do we really talk to girls about how not to get sexually assaulted more than we talk to boys about how to read situations, giving good reasoning about what consent is and that body language is not consent…and to be in control and not ruin two lives…maybe three?

How do we view rape…really??

Can a teenager tell the intricate complex dance… well It can’t be a dance because that would mean some one lead and the other gets dragged around.

Is it more like two advancing armies, where both have things valuable to protect but the value is placed on two totally different things. Do we even have proper conversations about sex and sexual relations as adults much less as teenagers.

When trying to find a mate other than being a “overall nice guy” there’s another criteria I have to fulfill, I have to past the I’m not a “rapist” test??

It seems to me, if I’m being honest that a lot of people have been in some sort of sexual assault/abuse at a young age and either try to figure things out, try to right the ship or protect themselves from being in that situation ever again as they get older, yet people can’t have an honest conversation about it until it’s gets to the extreme.

Now I purposely used the word rape not desensitize but to open the dialogue, with everything in life its never black and white, they are gradients…shades and tones Blood pumps from your heart to different areas of your body through veins and networks and all this is run by the brain, which one you give the most value to, which one you can live without.

I’ve been in situations when I was younger where I felt “rapey”, not to the point of holding down anyone but being with 14year old at 16 and I felt uncomfortable after that I vowed never to be near that awkward uncomfortableness, since then I’m very aware resistance playful or otherwise I’m stopping. I had a girlfriend accused me of not loving or wanting her enough because I wasn’t always trying to sex with her.

I set out to figure out just a term, that I’m still not close to figure out, but I’m left with an understanding yearning to know more about what goes into fixing things, is it as simple as just speaking out…to who it matters most?

Can we start the conversation,

Hi my name is Andre, have you ever been raped 

Hi, my name is Suzy bland, are you a rapist?

What is the Jamaican culture?

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How could one determine or define the Jamaican experience, both as a native and a foreigner? (I purposely put foreigner because that’s how I want Google to find this)

This question came to mind after a discussion I was having with my brother about the Jamaican way of life or doing things; how a simple thing such as joining a line in a bank can be a whole day experience; may end up being a kiss teeth and a phone call to your favorite teller or bank manager or even security guard.
But mostly the question came up after I posted an article that was published in the Gleaner Online on February 5. on Facebook. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140205/cleisure/cleisure11.html
Of which some people are still upset with me about that. (I just posted it, I didn’t write…but I agree with what the author was saying).

I was arguing in my comments, not that Tessanne doesn’t have talent, but the fact that she won a reality TV talent show that could have been decided in one night…OK maybe two.
So after repeatedly telling people to “come kiss out mi mouth” (another part of our colorful expressive culture), I thought…hmmm…”maybe this is also part of our culture’

What aspect of our culture?
You might be wondering: Our “Bandwagonry” of course!
Jamaican Bandwagonry has driven many emerging markets, surrounded by a fad or phenomenon which might be documented on a cave wall somewhere; but once everybody or some foreigner recognizes it’s worth, selfies with the person fade in the background and pictures of “when we were young” at a 4year old birthday party appear on people’s timeline like Measles.

20140213-024646.jpgThe sale of flags, pins, T-shirts, bandannas and other brand Jamaica items, mass produced by the Chinese of course and effectively pushed by the sales team of UHAUnited Higglers of All over, associated with the EAFEat A Food coalition pop up all over.
Bob Marley, Usian bolt and now Tessanne, (I call it the Noah syndrome…) have all benefited from this marketing tool (benefited…Ha!)
Saving Goat Island could really get some needed help with this marketing machinery but alas it doesn’t affect curry goat sales so…

Now this need to be in the midst of the what’s going on trait is something I’ve always wondered about….for example:

Running towards where gunshots are being fired, not away from them.

One person yells fight! and that’s where everyone will be found (and they aren’t there to break it up)

“If the US sneezes, Jamaica catches the flu” – everything that’s popular or semi popular in the United States will be popular here…so much that it’s close the ridicule (who wears fur boots in the tropics?).

The “Jamaican born” title, especially in cases of negative representation is quickly placed on a person even though their great granny wrote “jam” and ” I can” in a sentence well over 50yrs ago. This is done mostly by outsiders thou.

Another question is: Are we just too passionate in the things we do, not only while giving praise but in disagreement?

How we express ourselves through language, attire, music and even in a simple greeting, where actual names have become optional but instead highlights your most noticeable or not so noticeable attributes (names like Blacks, Dry Foot Kim, Big Titty Tara, Browning, 2mins-Tony).

The fact that we can easily be classified as the coolest and the angriest set of people at the same time further divides us, along with the labels of; Rich, Middle class, Poor, Black, White, Mr Chins, Indians, Bleachers, Gully, Gaza, Slimmaz vs Mampy vs Fat people in denial (fat girls in skinny girls’ clothes)

This further complicates my question…who are we as a people?
Are we just one thing, a pick and mix of some of these things or are we all and everything, truly Out of many, One people?

I would love to know your thoughts and/or definition of what you personally think the Jamaican culture is.

And I’m deleting any “Land of Wood & Water” responses. 🙂

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Perception vs Perspective

I’ve been doing some thinking, I tend to do a lot of that of late….hmmmm….
Yeah, so recent experiences have put these two words in my head….Perception vs Perspective.
Now Webster or Oxford, whoever you speak with says:

Perception: is a way of regarding, understanding or interpreting something, a mental impression.

While Perspective: is a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something.

Now it’s very interesting and not at all surprising how I came to compare these two words together other than they both start with the letter P.
It has to do with the male and female interaction or female and male interactions…depending on how you look at it…

Now I think women tend to use perception more in how they make decisions and related to matters of the heart, eg. “It doesn’t look good for a married man to be hanging out every Friday night with the same women he used to before he was married”. So even thou you used to join him at said bar every now and then, he’s not alone with these women, his boys are there and he choose to marry you.
How it is seen becomes more important? That’s what she said…

So the war start….

But you (women) work with a few guys that are sweet on you and you are still friends with you ex from grade school, thou he never got over the break up…and wants you back every third Friday, depending on his mood.

The perspective is that you choose me, you are with me for the simple reason that you want to (ok that’s only one reason but this is the one we are addressing now), and I trust you even thou I don’t trust them, I’m not going to try and stop you from those social interactions.
I don’t care how it’s being seen…I care about what is!
A wise man told me it doesn’t become an issues until you make it an issue and when that happens….

Then war starts….

So I ask this, what’s more important? How it looks on the outside or how you look at it?
How you understand it or how you know it to be?

The argument could be said that it’s a logic versus emotions argument but that is also another way of looking at it.

But with everything, all facts should be taken into account before any decision is made no matter how you think about it…

Can I have you perception or perspective on this….?

Bitching!!! Seriously….?

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So watching the Olympic games in the past couple of weeks has been a series of screams, missed deadline, excitement, heated arguments, resurrected bitter athletes that run their mouths more they could run a race now, bandwagonist, goat-mouthing, panic attacks, diaper rashes and momentary patriotism!

From the smallest tiniest thing to an outright riot of words…very colorful words, expressions and hand gestures….every bit of emotion has been dispelled in joy, hurt and anger.

My first observation of it was directed towards CVM. Where the signal chipped out from the broadcast for a millisecond, not even during a pivotal moment of the games but during a commercial and the words that were being flung at the TV in a chorus….
” a wey the…yo gi back TVJ dem what’s its not rights…wey dem f$&; idiot come from man, cho…” And this happens all the time even when it fades to black for said commercial.
Now mark you, maybe this happens all the time because I don’t watch TV I should just shut my what’s its not mouth cause TVJ is the best!
But not withstanding that a stream of pictures are taken transferred to 0s 1s, carried to whoever has all the rights up there in farin to show shit, they in turn shoot it up to space to a patiently waiting satellite in between all it floating and general not doing shit else with its $500 trillion self, shoots it back to our local equivalent of over worked monkeys running a circus (Circus Van Monkeys) and then it is broadcasted to the general public hopefully without one of the monkeys with the gift of speech not talk over it, to all 500 million of unu and y’all can’t miss 1 millisecond?

Next, the Athletes running in a heats to qualify for the final race for a medal in front of millions of people in the stadium and the other 501 million of unu (2 more of unu must born but the time mi finish this line, I know I said 2 but 1 died and had to be replaced) and the other millions of people watching all over the world, and your bile filled and wounded comment is,
“Why him haffi slow down at the finish line? Look how him mek them almost pass him? What a wukless bwoy, hope him drop pon him face next time and the $500,000 watch broke n stab him inna him foot!”
Seriously??? (OK maybe I added the last bit but in knew y’all were thinking it).

But unu not thinking that maybe he’s tired and the race has finished, He can finally relax for a bit, he did his best after all He’s been running and training for a month or so now, …Not that this is a heats/warm up and I will not kill out myself, so I can put the bit I held on to here into that race being my first time on this stage at this level, …not that it’s just running and I’m enjoying my right and freedom to do so…why would any of that matters when you are playing with people sitting on their asses million miles away watching at home/work/random tv emotions???

Third, why are these reporters looking to always talk some shit? Why are you talking to old bitter men, that had their time and need to just enjoy that they had a part in bring the sport to this level? Someone wanted to beat you that bad…not because they thought u were the bestess ever….but only to shut you the &$; up…they took every drugs they could find….and got caught!
Like with most interaction with “grandpa” eventually he’ll talk until he falls asleep or people stop listening to “Shit grandpa says” when dementia kicks in…Next!!!

Now seriously, you can say, a so the 510 million a unu tan it’s part of our culture like chicken back and white rice with butter (national dish), slack irresponsible dance hall music that everybody not in my crew fighting ‘gainst, tribalized politics….(hmm the best kind) and blatant corruption, the new norm.
Never mind that recently you had to watch the games from whatever community T.V. you could find even thou you hate the owners or if JPS decide say them gonna fall asleep on the job and blackout half of JA with not explanation the next day or if you are not fortunate enough to have a dish or recently cable, its 7 o’clock before you hear what happened.
You could say that if people never cuss they wouldn’t have made sure the feed gets better.
You could also say its all the passion, pride and expressive love we Jamaicans have.
You can say all that but it still means unu need to be more appreciative of how better things have gotten and the hard work that goes into giving you something to bitch about!