lundi 20 août 2007

The Incongruence of the World

On the bus yesterday from Fantasyland-Manhattan I had an epiphany. A good number of the worlds I know are not congruent, and that is causing me a sense of sadness, or more accurately saudade.

When my Bronx friends say that they have not meet a black person like me commenting on my love of import beer and pubs, or my lack of hip-hop dress and swagger a little engine in my head gets to running. Believe me, there are compliments too. But over the past couple of weeks, many in the professional and social compartments of my private sphere, have constantly lectured or slyly commented on my difference in comparison to all the other signs and sounds of the five boroughs, Black Folk, America, etc. . .

I don't know if these comments are hurting me and I am denying it, but regarless I see things with different eyes now. Maybe that is what being an ex-pat really meant for me and why sometimes I feel like I am being ripped through space at light speed without a space suit. I psychically become aware of where I am in milliseconds. This place of present and its mind sets are sometimes much different than the place I am most comfortable with which resides in my head now, but manifests itself overseas.

So my world now consists of several slices of grey matter. Let’s start with the Wonder Bread Americans who ironically are part of my fantasy part time job. They are people of all racial backgrounds, but for the majority the job is a way of partaking in the fantasy and getting the "stuff" that they want at discount. And in a way, since everyone is of some professional ilk or aspiring to be through a university education, life is very nice. To the dismay of some of my friends I like my working class job that includes lawyers, teachers, music producers and caterers.

Then there are the Occupational West Indians. Very nice but they believe blogging is immature and that my Myspace page is the falsification of friends and a sign of shallowness. One person has somehow clinically divided my creative self from my authentic self. What the fuck! But then again they have arrived in this country to live the American dream and can not help but critic it while sitting on Mars, observing us American earthlings with a level of curiosity as the sun blares on their rounded African faces. I just wonder if they have taken the time to really think about what is happening to them, but I judge not. I have sat in that same cat bird seat. But they surely know what is happening to me in a certain way – both as a returning ex-pat, and as a Black professional. I am resistant though. Maybe it is my denial. Maybe it is the fact that they have not seen me in 7 years or so. Maybe it is the constant rejection from the insurance companies, the years of dealing with not so kind doctors, the heavy responsibility of my disease. These are scares I hide well because I have learned most people do not want to hear about this reality. It is the gift of youth; I just have loss that gift very earlier. I must worry about my body and money constantly, and the restraints are effecting my social and economic advancement, so their impatience is coarse to me. I wonder if they are listening to me at all when I talk about what my responsibilities actually are.

I do appreciate their admiration for artistic things, but I don't see them producing anything, so their ramblings about all the bands and artist I keep up with on my Myspace page kind of go through me. I wince only because their ideas graze a capillary or tickle my spleen in a funny way. The logic is clear. The work they do is serious. The work I do is not serious. At that comment they would tell me it is about survival and status. And I hear them, but their career choices are rewarded differently by out society and there isn't much more to that.

Then there are the Native Tongues Galore After-Party Intellectuals. They are the ones that read my blog, but are also busy sliding on different Afro Trips, as if we all nibbled from the same mushroom and are busy traveling on our own individual pleather bound bean bag. A couple transport themselves to Africa. Some transport themselves to Brazil. Others remain in the hood, preferably the Bronx or Harlem. Others have settled into Brooklyn. Some are straight. Some are gay. Some are bi. Most are political. All are in the network. All are supportive. But, I think my trip to Europe did not go down so well. Many question my Afro-authenticity. Or many more believe that Europe is whiteness. No one seems to get that I was around African-Americans, Brazilians and French West Africans a good amount of the time. Whiteness was only at work. And ultimately how is that different from the real life experience they are having right now?

Most of the Afro-Trippers want me to write about my trip before it evaporates in the green bud lit smoke of a black light room. And they are right. But again. They are all trippin' in every aspect of the word -- from Day trippin' -- to Ego Trippin' -- to sabbatical like excursions to the farthest corners of the digital globe and/or natural known world trippin’. They all stare back from a Trans-Atlantic shore, ultimately waving, always writing postcards.

Then there are the Post-Cold War Continental Euro-European Union Enthusiast with all of their social reforms and strong currency. They absolutely do not get the Afro-Trippers, nor would they ever understand the utter New Worldness of it. Their nationalities really set boundaries within themselves so that whenever they encounter difference, they feel embolden to become more of a German, Spanish, French or Italian asshole. An exertion of their selves is constant. For me to sit down and eat a kola nut and not be from West Africa is the equivalent of them watching an herbivore eating a carnivore. It falls outside of their system of things and they become offended.

The Europeans might not understand the occupational West Indians because the level of social freedom that they allow themselves would not really match the oh so brutish Britishness of figuring out social standing at every turn. It is antithetical to the notion of being decent and presentable to the white American world at every corner - of constantly maintain the perfection that my grandparent’s generation demanded of all Black folk. The continentals are just a bit different. The balance of freedom and public presentation are more equal, everyone performs for everyone else regardless of race, class, creed or sexual orientation. For the continental European you should watch and know that you are being watched. It is a two way street.

And to my friends at Fantasy Island, the Europeans would be exotic. It would be a reversed exoticism -- the way they saunter, so stylized according to American standards; not to mention, couples without clear leaders; physical proximity; men as beautiful as the women; the European sense of being out of place, looking for shelter in a familiar cup of coffee . . . Lavazza maybe, or brioche and a tin of Illy.

But of all of the satellites in my orbit it is that world I miss the most. I guess it is the freedom of the ex-patriot to not be bound by a conventional standard of who you are and how you fit into the system. You are an import. A model. A function. A representative. A dignitary. An example. A talking parrot from which vocabulary can be bolstered. And that is it. And that is where the saudade comes from because though Europe's history is far more complicated . . . the people are not very complicated. We feud over gay marriage, over education, over taxes, over what is fair and for whom. Over yonder the debates are larger and grander calling for political coalitions in the tradition of Metternich or Disraeli. Live with who you want. Travel when you are young. We are all taxed for the greater good. And leave fair up to the philosophers.

This list of my constellations could go on. I have not even gotten to the Bronx - my new territory. But hey, this is how I am feeling today. Or I should say last night.

I need to delineate out what is working and what is not. It is not really about chopping off friends, but my friends deserve to know what I am feeling and how their assumptions and views touch me, arrest me, captivate me, and bound me. They deserve to know what I admire about them, how I like to hang out and play with them like 10 year olds during an endless afternoon in October. They also deserve to know what I miss about the past. About that summer. About that world I thought would last forever. About how things have never been quiet the same since they went away. Maybe in some instances I see something and have no one to share it with because they are gone. In other instances it is just the talk. The recounting of conquest. The sheer impossibility of people not understanding why I love that one, or why a good friend loves this one and how we both could give a shit about what the others are saying. It matters to us.

vendredi 17 août 2007

The Camel's Back

The War in Iraq.

THIS STUPID MINE STORY COVERAGE THAT IS EMOTIONALLY SADISTIC TO EVERYONE! 6 have died in the rescue effort. Blessed be the dead. It is so cruel to witness that I can only whisper.

Barry Bonds = A Sign of the Times

Tour de France = Humans Chasing the Sun

Pro Wrestling = Death

Lead paint on toys -- China is off the chain

Poisonous dog and cat snacks -- China's regulatory boards are off the chain -- Hey, they either execute perpetrators of corporate or governmental fraud, or the perpetrator commits suicide -- Have you noticed?

Dog Fighting -- Real Sports showed Canine Euthanasia. I was sad.

Bryant Gumble (Gumbo) reciting the transcribed words "Fuck" and "Mother Fucker" in his interview with PacMan Jones . . . I really became undone. It was like watching an all male dance ensemble do a re-enactment of the cat fight between the Jiggaboos and the Wanna-bees from Spike Lee's School Daze in slow motion with razor blade cuff links in High Definition while going through Meth withdrawal.

The Stock Market -- I mean come on! Was I the only one expecting this? I am glad I did not take the bait. Plus I refuse to pay $300,000 dollars for anything that has vinyl siding on it or is made from compressed wood. Take my advice. Do not buy anything built after 1995 because the materials are skimpy. The demand for natural resources in China has made building materials very expensive.

The resignation of Oliver Thomas. Just a big DAMN! I mean damn.

The Suburban Transit and New Jersey Transit fares went up but the delays are just as bad. Yesterday was just hard.

And now . . . on top of all of this . . . D'Angelo.
I guess sexy is a state of mind.
I just hope he doesn't smell like fried whiting, pickles and white bread.
Then he is ruined.

What can I say. Keep your heads up.

jeudi 16 août 2007

mercredi 15 août 2007

Simply Irresistible

I have been trying really hard not to put this Beyonce track on my blog. Part of it is this need to still feel a bit edgy and academic. Part of it is because I do not want to reduce myself to pop -- but hell I have written about girl pop before. The biggest part of my hesitation is that I really think this video is hot, and I must admit that it makes me salivate, so in true fashion, I want to share.

So, there is no analysis. Just . . .

lundi 13 août 2007

THe Zili Misik Experience


Yesterday was the re-birth. I can't really tell you how it worked out, but I woke up and did not feel weighed down by all the things that have been weighing me down over the past 2 years. I think it was completing the 7-week program at my new university. Maybe it was the 7 weeks in the Bronx, which feels like 7 pre-1990 Harlems stitched together but in Spanish. Maybe it was starting up my old part-time job and seeing old friends. A co-worker reminded me that the world we work in is not real . . . it is selling a fantasy. Good to know.

So the uplifting things . . . let's see. First Joe's playlist on his Myspace is fumkin' slammin'. Get yourself a taste.

I saw Rat-mo last weekend. First tapas (I hate tapas bars, I think they are pretentious, especially when chased by caipirinhas that are too gritty. You got to really mix the lime and sugar) on Saturday, followed by wine during the week. I talked to Rat-mo about life and as usual he was telling me to be precautious about love and commitments in no uncertain terms. I was screaming at him across the table that all one needs is to be brave. I guess the solutions lies in the middle. Rat-mo gets me, so I had a great time.

The other positive thing happened last night. After 2 months of Sundays of not being in the East Village I ventured there after work. I totally forgot about that part of town. Funny, on Sunday nights the ghost of the East Village past lifts its head. I remember when venturing down past 6th and 2nd Avenue was the beginning the Netherworld. Now it is more subdued. Thankfully, the free spirits out number the tourists and schucksters on Sunday nights (at least on this one), on the other days of the week it is a wigged out mall, a fictitious remnant of those nights when I saw a bare chested man walking down the street with a gun sticking out from behind his belt-buckle framed by a chinchilla; or seeing Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell roller blading at 4 in the morning wearing long orange light-reflecting vest.

So, I got down to the Leopard Lounge at about 8:00. It was before the band arrived. Ayana was moving back and forth from the sofa and Ms. E. I looked around and the area was sparse. Ms. E. and I sat. We talked. Ayana spun glistening vintage Marley, with its Motown meets calypso melodies and multi-layered yet well organized pre-slang tang rhythms. The crowd appeared, a Motley crew of downtown dreads, Brooklynites and NYC couples who followed the music up the stairs into the lounge. Then Zili Misik performed -- an all girl band in white. I felt cleansed for a split second. It was Sunday and church. It was an experience I have not felted in a while. The composed sisters sang in Portuguese, English and Haitian Kreyol and for once I felt invited . . . to something . . . besides the little heartache and financial strain from making my summer stipend produce fruit.
Check these sites out.

Zili Misik
Universal Sundays @ Leopard Lounge

dimanche 15 juillet 2007

Red Eyed Soul

I don't know how I am suppose to feel about Amy Winehouse. I must say that I love her work, and as I am completely bogged down with work on this Sunday morning, it is a welcomed distraction. I think it is the wanting of love, the wanting of heartache, the feeling of moving on, and the scratchy early 1960's St. Tropez jazz throw back caught in her throat.

It is odd. Many in the press say she is drugged out, in fact she looks strangely like those homeless kids that used to sit in the middle of the East Village twelve or thirteen years ago. They would just sit on the pavement, dirty as a Dickens character and punked out like a freshly cornholed Jack Kerouac anti-hero. You know, the middle class white children that turned into street urchins because of a fight they had with their third step-father in seven years (I shouldn't assume, cause I did work with the homeless years ago and there is nothing cynical or funny about that reality), blah, blah, blah . . . but Amy Winehouse, please blow, blow, blow.

I will have to look into Amy Winehouse and the "make-up" of her (Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, New York Magazine, etc . . .) as the press declares her the new queen of soul . . . I think she is soulful, but I am not convinced that what she is doing is soul.

vendredi 29 juin 2007

I Take the Bronx, You can have Manhattan . . .

Factor One: 4 (2$) Coronas

Factor Two: Shot of Tequila with a lick of salt.

Factor Three: Pernil con Arroz blanco et Frijoles rojas

Factor Four: The Bronx College Experience.

Factor Five: The Parks

Factor Six: The Produce