Sunday, May 15, 2011

back at the beginning of the love story...

Bored with mediocre cable I found myself encapsulated by the riveting film-making that was Grease 2. Almost upon arrival Michael zeros in on Stephanie and decides that's my girl. He makes and move, she shoots him down but not without dropping a hint. "I need a cooooollll rider." Thus begins the journey of Michael becoming the man Stephanie WANTS. And so it goes from 'Sixteen Candles' to 'Ten Things I hate about You'. Love is sold to us as sacrifice, change and compromise. Even when we take the love out of high school and into 'Sweet Home Alabama' or 'Love Jones' its the same story. Its not a series of perfect dates. Its a moment. Love is seemingly some moment that you either pay attention to or ignore. Whether you follow the moment or ignore it- you're haunted.

It follows you. It judges you. It lingers on your shoulder within each moment of the impending love story. You break up with someone and in the postmortem you're bound to say "well we didn't have an instant connection so.." or "i felt it, the moment we met. i don't know what changed." The middle of the love story or the end of the story always has us revisiting the beginning. Actually the middle or end of any love story has us revisiting the beginning of every love story. It's the search for the Why? What's my type? Why is this perfect or not perfect? What makes this love and that a fling? Someone told me once that each person is allotted five great loves and your soul mate may never be your lover. Of course it made no sense to me. That's not what the movies say neither the romance novels nor that voice in your head.

So you're back at the beginning of the love story. Are we star-crossed lovers? We must be. We had this moment in the past and left it there. So why are we having it again? Today? In a public place at that. Even worse. If you have this moment with more than one person does that make you a whore or someone living with a series of incomplete love stories? Why do we always find ourselves back at the beginning of the love story?

For me it could be because I have never dated. I have never had that moment where someone sees you and wants to get to know you and asks you out and you say yes and prepare for a potentially awkward meal of avoiding the garlic. I don't try things. In the game of love I don't play. I don't take chances. I have no impulses. In the game of love. I have fallen and risen all without any reciprocation from the other person. I suppose we return to the beginning of the love story in search of ourselves. Love takes of us and what it takes we will never get back.

This is what I kept thinking as Michael the British Nerd became Michael the cool rider simply to be noticed. Its also the question I asked myself as Patrick Dempsey fell apart in 'Can't buy me Love'. Of course I also wondered if other people were having this intellectual experience while watching these rather basic and Utopian love stories.

And then like a lightning bolt it hit me. I am Michael. I am that grand romantic gesture. I play Russian Roulette with my heart. I am my Achilles heel. While existing in the middle of the love story my mind is always regressing to the beginning, to the moment because I'm certain in that moment I immediately gave up something to get you to look back at me. Maybe I should have watched that movie with a glass of rum and ting and then this blog post would have gone in an entirely different direction.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dancehall Music: Shooting itself in the FOOT!

Dancehall Music: Shooting itself in the FOOT!
Yes I said it and I won’t be taking it back. Like other Jamaicans I have listened to the jeering and mockery made of Keith “Shebada” Ramsay as speculation of his sexuality looms. I have pointed my gun finger to songs by artistes like Elephant Man, Assassin, and Vybz Kartel using ‘Shebada’ as the symbol of a ‘battyman’. I am 27 years old but I have worked in entertainment for more than five years and without fear I state that dancehall music is advancing the gay movement.
Dancehall Artistes have taken a clear and affirmed stance on homosexuality. So vocal has the industry been of its dislike of homophobia that I posit that it is the music that is the primary contributor to Jamaica being labelled the most homophobic place in the world. We witnessed Shabba Ranks catapult from the top to the bottom with a single opinion. Buju Banton’s career though reflective of maturity seems to be forever overshadowed by the lyrics of Boom Bye Bye. Elephant Man, Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla and so many more have all been dropped from concerts for their violent and homophobic songs. Dancehall would argue that with groups like OUTrage and the Stop Murder Music Campaign it wouldn’t be such a big deal but I beg to differ. This is suggestive of a larger societal problem- the trivialising of violence but that is for another article.
In spite of it all the one question we can’t seem to answer is from whence did this lyrical obsession come? I theorise that homophobic lyrics are simply a natural progression from the violent lyrics that have been a dancehall music staple. There is a violent dancehall song for every societal wrong- aggression seems to live in the heart of the music. Take for example, the way these repeatedly self-proclaimed heterosexual men speak about women- violently. Sadly, dancehall music and the artistes that produce it are a reflection of the wider society. However, if the sale of cake soap has proven anything, it’s that dancehall music possesses great influence.
“The militant anti-homosexual attitude of Jamaicans, men and women alike, is startling. Few subjects arouse such strong emotions here and polls have shown a strong majority in favour of jailing homosexuals,” leading to a situation where, “no stage show goes by without at least one ringing condemnation which inevitably draws a huge chorus of approval from the crowd.” (Chang & Chen, 204) Barrow & Dalton attempt to explain, although not justify, this bigotry. “Some psychologists, accurately or not, attribute this to a lack of real male self-confidence in a society where 85 per cent of children are born out of wedlock, and the vast majority of boys lack full-time male roll model while growing up.”
- ‘Reggae routes: The story of Jamaican music’, written by Kevin O’Brien Chang and Wayne Chen. Temple University Press: Philadelphia, 1998.

Do I agree with the above statement? Yes. Does it apply in 2011? Yes. But I add this, in seeking to affirm his heterosexuality the dancehall artistes has embraced ‘homosexual stereotypes’ with the hope of undermining the movement. This action will inevitably aid homosexuals in ultimately attaining their just reward- basic human rights.

Let us begin with the supreme symbol of homosexuals receiving rights in Jamaica- Adidjah ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer. I would go one step further and say the Gaza is making it easier to be gay in Jamaica. Dancehall’s current ‘hero’ has released a statement addressing his hair extensions much in the same way he released on addressing his skin lightening. Kartel as always is baffled by the uproar after all he had extensions at Sting as he flew fist first into the face of Ninja Man and claim that TOK and I-Octane have also worn extensions. I join Kartel’s name calling and present my own example- Harry Toddler. We all know that blonde mane is not his. And let’s not forget Beenie Man’s curls from the early days. Yet, dancehall artistes continue to wear these “homosexual” styles with their only defence being “bad man nuh dress like girl”. Yes they do. Dancehall music has become increasingly homophobic while the dancehall space and its artistes have become increasingly feminine. To what else do we owe songs such as “Too Much Bull” by Macka Diamond and other female artistes or “Couple Up” by Elephant Man. “Too Many Men” by Busy Signal focuses on the massive male entourage but it’s a testament to the feminising of the space. Think back? How often did you see a car full of men before the turn of the century? Or ten men walking into a party that made no attempt to get a girl? Exit Ouch Crew and enter Ravers Clavers. This musical space founded on violence, rebellion and misogyny is shooting itself in the foot. Dancehall music is a slap in the face of men and women who struggle to live their lives as humans.

Elephant Man with his penchant for hair dye, extensions, costuming and pageantry is dancehall music’s Elton John. Both artistes flamboyance are legendary. It seems to me that that dancehall’s over-emphasis is fuelling the fight, energising the charge, giving the movement greater purpose and support. And the industry is scared. I-Octane has released 3 songs in less than six months lauding homophobia. The ‘rules and laws riddim’ released in April is dedicated to the advancement of homophobia, Assassin’s song the ‘Type R riddim’ is also rooted in homophobia. Dancehall is dancing around itself as homophobia struggles and acceptance saves itself from drowning. Female artistes are spitting lyrics like some of the greatest rappers of all time while their male counterparts are ‘tracing’ like vendors in coronation market. Jamaican women are wielding their gay best friends like treats and treasures through Kingston’s streets. The more you attempt to prove that pink is a manly colour is the more blurred the line that separates heterosexuality and homosexuality becomes. Popcaan’s song ‘Tight Jeans’ on the Type R riddim is in defence of his tight jeans. For an industry that’s trying to detract gay attention they are calling a lot of attention to their masculine parts.
Dancehall music is a witch’s brew of hypocrisy. It says one thing and does another, creates stereotypes and then represents them. Thus can you honestly be shocked by the new found confidence of the homosexual on Jamaica’s streets? Can you be shocked at last year’s march in Montego Bay? More importantly can you truly find a justifiable reason for your homosexual hatred with all that has happened? Is it truly necessary? As dancehall artistes lose concert dates, salary, radio airplay, CD sales and continue to be labelled some of the most violent people in the world- is the price truly worth it?
They say when you tell a child not to do something that’s the moment they choose to do it. So is it safe to say, the more you tell a man not to be himself the more likely he is to embrace who he truly is? The graduation from ‘Boom Bye Bye’ to ‘marrow on smouldering asphalt’ only seems to be deflating the movement. Anti-homosexual songs aren’t number one anymore just another moment on the riddim. Where do we go from here dancehall? What’s the plan? Dancehall will never permeate the world as it predecessor reggae has for one reason. Reggae was founded on love while dancehall is angry and in pain. Interesting… Homosexuals are angry and in pain. Dancehall music in 2011 finds itself still struggling to be accepted as just another form of music. Homosexuals in 2011 find themselves still struggling to be accepted as just another form of human. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we’re at a stalemate.

Cowfoot Macka? Mercy said no...

Dancehall has reached its lyrical plateau. The artistes have clearly peaked and we the fans are paying a heavy price. Its the vivid images that dancehall can paint in your mind with a jackhammer and the eye of a needle that makes this art form brilliant. *Southern Baptist Preacher’s Voice* But when we reach a place in the music when we can conceive of comparing the BEST of a man to a cowfoot there is something seriously wrong with the way our minds work.
I understand that length, girth, height, width, breadth and the size of a man are national treasures and we live to encounter the “anaconda weh longa” but nuttin nuh wrong if yuh guh to yuh fren and cal it di same ting weh she call it. Maybe this is the real problem. We all want our man penis to feel unique and special so David have di anaconda and Richard have the python and Toni own is like a leopard- agile and graceful. But we have to tek time wid these things. Has Macka really stopped to tek a good look on a cowfoot? Has she considered the ramifications of a man walking up to some poor unsuspecting lass and saying “baby, a me have di cowfoot we yuh need yuh nuh”? And what she muss respond wid? “A me have di broad bean wid di gravy”?

And please note that she took the time to differentiate between chicken foot, goat foot and her beloved cow foot. This song did not stop to consider the large section of the population that has no interest in cowfoot pon dem dinner table much less inna dem bed. And as was pointed out ‘cow foot walk inna dodo’ and she uses this to compliment the BEST part of a man. And don’t worry people there is a dance and an event because this a phenomenon, a multi-tiered business plan, the next wave in musical enjoyment. We are bringing the awesomeness of the cow foot to the fore. This is music in the key of foolywang.
Yuh know what dancehall needs? A voice of reason. Someone with human or extra-terrestrial it really does not matter at this point to vet these songs before sending them out into the public domain. The people demanding it now because this is beyond ridiculous.

Friday, April 29, 2011

will the revolution...

As the world (2 billion a unnu is nuff people) gathered today to watch the Royal wedding the rants of "down with the monarchy they cause slavery", "there are more important things to worry like Syria, Libya, Yemen in the world" and "who really cares about these two?, like seriously?" have risen to the surface once again. And with good reason, we are such a dejected world that signs of exaltation are to be mocked and discarded from our lives forthwith. Interestingly enough I find that he majority of the people complaining weren't contributing anything meaningful previous to the manifestation of this wedding so what does that say? At first glance it says unnu jus red eye and badmind. The people dem a have dem big fancy wedding and dem nuh serve no other purpose than fi look good and you wish you coulda do it too. At second glance it says that your social activism is a falsified. Its not genuine, it means nothing, its just as meaningless and pointless as the wedding that you are boycotting.

What revolution are you observing? What chances are you taking? And the monarchy ruined Africa, took us from our homelands. And? We're here now in our individual places. How do you plan to fight today's battles? You think the monarchy a guh turn back di hands of time? Yuh want them to send you all back to Africa and return you to pre-1492? What are you really arguing about and is it really helping you? And so the media ignores the wedding and gives around the clock coverage of Gadaffi and his buffoonery, what then? You will feel better in your conscience knowing that we are highlighting the 'right things'? You can cuss NATO and spit at Gadaffi and tell the people of Libya to die for the cause but what of your revolution. I for one will admit I have buckling knees. I'm not the placard sign, marching through the streets kind of girl. But anyone who has seen a Ruff Draft Production knows I don't shy away from the revolution.

Seriously, while your bitching at Anderson Cooper while lusting after him, WHAT are YOU doing? WHERE are you in the revolution? Are you sitting in your office waiting for this JPS thing to blow over or are you going to do something? We want to sit and watch the revolution in the comfort of our living rooms but the truth is we are in need of our own revolution.

It sounds like a dream but we are dropping like flies for no cause other than anger, ego and misplaced emotions- we might as well die for a purpose. This is not a revolution of the rich needing to give to the poor. So a rich man takes some of his wealth and gives it to a poor man... its a temporary reprieve. The revolution we need is to change our culture of immediacy. We NEED it NOW. The greatest example of this is the short-lived leadership of our first female Prime Minister. I for one never felt the woman was fit for the job but she never stood a fighting chance. As we people we somehow managed to convince herself that Sister P was the light and she would become Prime Minister on Monday and Tuesday all would be fixed simply because she was a woman. Her first 100 days were the most scrutinised. As JPS proves these bad ideas are age-old and weren't born over night. I WISH at least one politician would admit this, take responsibility for something. The PNP finds the JPS agreement 'morally repugnant'. You signed said agreement. It was your mistake.

Which brings me to our second revolution. The revolution of culpability. We want everyone else to be culpable. We want the monarchy to admit, apologise and apparently reverse slavery. We want Gadaffi to step down, to walk away and save the people but we won't do it at home. The rebuilding of Egypt, Tunisia and other countries to come will not be easy and the people have accepted this. We want the change but without the work. And as such we are all culpable. If yuh 'waan good yuh nose haffi run'. We say to ourselves "they voted them in and now them a pay di price". I would ask you. Did you see their options? We all have the answers but we don't want to take the bull by the horns and try. Ras Astor Black may be a little warped in the head but him a try a ting. What are we trying?

I tried something. I got tired and dejected and left. And is it better here? That will never be a yes or no question. The privilege of my uptown-ness has given me a wider perspective of my homeland and now that I live in this 'greener pasture' that my people run to I don't feel free. I am angrier at my people than ever before. We have it, we have something amazing...fucking amazing and we are leaving it to go to shit for pride and hype.

Which leaves me to my next revolutionary request. 'Get the fuck over yourselves'. No one owes you anything. You want it! Get it! WILL THE REVOLUTION!

Friday, April 15, 2011

'This is Canada' And??? *raised eyebrow*

If another Canadian says to me 'This is Canada'. I a guh shoot dem. straight. mi nah tek back no chat.
Mi undastand say unnu have big land mass weh unnu a try populate and all these things but don't judge me by my country's size. wi likkle but we tallawah.
Like when yuh a guh mek mi know say "we don't leave dishes in the sink because this is Canada and in Canada you can get roaches." Really though??? Really??? Come a Jamaica mek I show you roach since apparently in Canada roach is an exotic specie. More importantly wah yuh think di plate a guh siddung deh til next week. Mi sure mi nuh gi yuh no reason fi think me nasty. Mi come from Jamaica we love scorn nasty people yuh hear.

Better yet mek mi show yuh scorpion and stray dog weh murderous ina yuh back yaad.

And when we have a conversation and yuh come a tell mi say "well in Canada people are looking for work and its not easy. yuh know This is Canada things are hard here." I understand the sentiment and I get it nuh easy. Really what separates your poverty from my poverty is the architecture but yuh did need fi drop the "this is Canada". How about "this is life".

And as for the ones who want to ask questions about how I am adjusting try asking "How do you like it here?" instead of "This is Canada it must be a complete difference from being Jamaica many more opportunities." Why yes. There are many differences. I have a question why Toronto don't free up di liquor? Oh that's not what you were talking about. Oh you were talking about is this my own 'jungle book'. You Tarzan. Me Jane kinda thing. No I didnt swing from a vine and sneak unto a banana boat to get here. But I will also blame that on the Jamaicans who think say as the plane land dem a guh and apparently the donkey cart will be our major mode of transportation. Who are shocked that the land of their birth has actually evolved. It nuh perfect but it nuh primitive.
And another note to the 'This is Canada' revolution that dispute that you are having with that line. That asshole moment you trying to create. Its really between yourself and the US of A. That chip on your shoulder was not put there by me or my vine-swinging, tree living people. So let's trade in the 'This is Canada' for something a little nicer.

Well This is Jamaica where if you step pon mi toe yuh might lose yuh foot.
Because the next person who says 'This is Canada' to me. I will proudly be shipped home for 'decking your dumb ass'.

A writer's lament

What does it mean to be a writer? In coming to terms with my passion for words and making the decision that this will be my career path I have asked myself this question on numerous occasions. The answer is rarely, if ever, something beautiful. The experiences I have had professionally skews the answer towards 'rough'. And it's not as simple the 'life of the starving artist'. Working through my passion has taught me that artists don't need to starve. Funnily enough writers are the 'soup kitchen' tenants of the artistry world, we define starving artist. As a world we don't seem to value creative property as we should. After all what is a book but black words on white paper as compared to a canvas which is often so many colours or modern day graphics which uses so much technology to create worlds within worlds. It could take one weeks, months, years to paint the perfect 'Monet-inspired piece' or to create the next great cartoon but how long does it take someone to write the next New York Times Best selling novel? It could take weeks, months or years. So the question is why is the writer always fighting so much harder to prove his or her worth. It could be because people don't like to read. Yet, I refuse to accept its that simple. Why? When someone approaches you to put their idea or any idea on paper and they expect that it should cost nothing or very little because its just pieces of paper with black letters on them. No it isn't. Its hours of thought, of research, of writing, of editing and writing again. Its moments of writer's block. Every creative process involves so much and when it comes from your brain and your heart it involves so much more. Any artist from any artistic field will tell you that. It is just as multi-layered as building a house and if its not done right it will fall apart. But what makes being the underpaid, under-respected writer even more frustration is writing that commercial that is playing REPEATEDLY on your television screen and remembering that you bargained from JA$10,000 to JA$2,000 because of the 'small budget'. Its not the small budget. Its your lack of respect for creative property, for the writer's process. Most everything begins with a script- its written down by someone somewhere but somehow writing is viewed as easy come easy go and treated like its worth even less. And its BULLSHIT. Writers are slaving away at typewriters and computers long before the designer is brought in or the director sometimes before the cameraman even knows there is a script but hey thanks for your commitment now take your chicken shit pay and leave.
I'm fed up with "Can I get a movie script in a month?" Sure you can but for me to work around the clock for a month I am going to need to be paid for that time WHILE I am doing the work. What happens if you don't want the script? What happens to WORK I did for you? There is electricity for the computer, there is sustenance to keep me going while writing. I don't shit these things out. I use my brain cells. I write, weep, write, scream, write, drink, write and write and write. My printer it uses ink and paper and electricity. Pens run out of ink as well and sometimes all the thinking gives you migraines. You're going to hire me then pay and don't tell me shit about providing images- that's a photographer's job, another artistic profession and I not 'tiefing' no food off no man's plate. What's my profession? I'm a writer. My tools are passion, brain cells, time, effort, thought, printer, paper, ink, computer, mass storage device, google, the library, TV, radio, magazines, books,life, conversation, people, images, wind, sun, air, light, food, money, gas, transportation, phone, patience, emotion and oh yea...words.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A mussi me name Hawkeye

Let me start by saying I can understand the panic that comes over a person when their car has been stolen. Its really the heights of violating another human being but what about my rights.
Yes, I am speaking to you. The one sending the BBMs about whoffa car get tief, wha colour it be, all di tings that inside there and how much di owna miss it.
How kind of you to care soooooooooo much?
Now let's step back and think about the part you didn't before you did type di first letter much less press send
When I get the message that says 1952 Aston Martin, white with a dent on the back is missing weh mi mus do?
Worse when it come een Wednesday night at 1am (I am assuming here that most people are in bed at this time.)
But say I do see said car at the stoplight in Liguanea.
Do I jump like an ape going "o o o o o o it's the car, it's the car."
Do I call the police or do I send out a BBM in return?
BBM- "Stolen car seen at the stoplight in Liguanea, the thief is kinda cute still, nice jawline...oh wait, its driving off in the direction of Mona, since Matilda's Corner police station is right there should I tell them?"
*taps fingers*
We now wait for the Macgyvers and Magnum P.Is on my Blackberry to tell me how to move forward in this situation.
I understand the panic I really do.
Yuh waan di car and yuh a try a ting but it seems to be an over-dependence on the BBM that has resulted in this act.
and if yuh don't trust di police isn't this a job for Hawkeye or Guardsman?
And I feel that the messages should be dated
I find we get messages saying the Aston Martin was stolen today 3 days later.
Please BBM responsibly!