Thursday, November 21, 2013

Celestial North Korea

"Heaven's here on earth;
In our faith in humankind
In our respect for what is earthly
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding." - Tracy ChapmanHeaven's Here On Earth

Heaven has been imagined and re-imagined for centuries by the dreamers and prophets deluded. In the Bible heaven is described as a city where the streets are made of pure gold, where our creator will wipe away all our tears, and the lion will lie down with the lamb, according to one prophet. There will also be multi-winged seraphims and cherubims on every corner, crying to one another 'Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory'. This sounds like eternal bliss, right?
I don't know about you, but if I had a friend, a parent or a lover that required praise and adoration every single hour of every single day I would extricate myself from their presence. I would think of them as egocentric and maniacal, at the least. Imagine your mother telling you that you MUST constantly thank her for everything she has ever done for you. As much as I love my mother, I would be forced to take her to a mental hospital. But, this is a promise of heaven. Yes, you will get to/have to praise God all day long! Oh, imagine the endless joy!
You will get to walk on golden streets and milk and honey flow eternally, they say, but what's the catch? This will all happen after you die. I don't know about you, but to me this story reeks of suspicion. You are asking me to endure suffering on Earth, with the one life I know I have to reap the possibility of paradise after I die? What if you get there and you don't like it? Can you leave? What of the beauty that is all around us? What if heaven is the joy we feel when children laugh? What if we experience heaven in every moment of ecstasy?
"They say in heaven
There's no husbands and wives
On the day that I show up
They'll be completely out
Of their forgiveness supplies." - Brand New, You Won't Know

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Turn The Music Up To Keep Moving

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Can you for a second imagine life without music? I know I couldn't stomach the infinite silence. Music can be many things for different people. For me it has been a way out of my own darkness; music haunts me, yet fills me with wonder. There are hundreds of categories of music and like language music has evolved over time, as more and more genres have been developed. My varied taste in music make artistes like Nina Simone, Radiohead, and Bjork among my top favorites.
Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, used her music as a voice for civil rights. Nina's style ranges from classical to the blues, from jazz to folk. The "High Priestess of Soul" was equally fluent in R&B, gospel, and pop. Her voice, simultaneously sultry and soaring, soothed the wounds of a bitter era and carried the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King even farther after his death. Some of my favorites from her include, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "Feeling Good", and "Ne me quitte pas".
Radiohead revolutionized the way I listened to music. When I was introduced to Radiohead in 2007, I was forced to think between the lines and notes, and see what was simmering below the surface. This alternative rock quintet's music is transformative, as they have experimented with disparate sounds and styles since their 1993 debut single, the minimalist to crescendoing 'Creep' to their latest album 'The King of Limbs', which is a study in the exploration of rhythm and textures. Among my favorite Radiohead singles are "Fake Plastic Trees", "Karma Police", "House of Cards", and "Lotus Flower".
The genres that attempt to describe her eclectic work has been Alternative rock, electronica, trip-hop, experimental, avant-garde, ethereal wave, jazz, and post-punk. Yet none of these even come close to defining Björk's music. Her music is raw, passionate, and explosive. Every track is a sacrifice of herself; her blood, sweat and tears. Favorites of mine from Bjork are 'Venus as a Boy', 'Army of Me', 'Pagan Poetry', 'Alarm Call', and 'All is full of Love'.
Today, I can say unwaveringly that I am alive because of the music that kept me going. On the darkest, lowest days of my young life these artistes, among countless others, reminded me that there's enough to hold on for. I am a better man because of the music that made me.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive." - Audre Lorde

self:  O.E. self, seolf, sylf "one's own person, same," "separate, apart"

"Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth." [Alan Watts]

To have you define me would be unjust
The business of definition belongs to the defined.
Your book defines me as 'black, but comely'
Your book is mistaken in this regard
I stand silhouetted in the light
I am black AND comely

I am,
I stand the test of time
Feminist, writer, freethinker, equality seeker
Are adjectives that attempt to define me
Progressive pragmatic
Introverted excavator
Lucky and cursed
The only person I am better than is who I was yesterday
My sole competition stares back at me in the mirror.

Knocked down
Cut off
Left out
I left my blood running
In uncharted waters
I swim

I will compromise, but never surrender
Even though I've tried to give up one too many times
I am

I am undefined...
"How can I accept a limited definable self when I feel, in me, all possibilities." — Anaïs Nin

Monday, November 11, 2013


"Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society." ~ Michel Foucault

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pure Heroine

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.”  ― George Carlin

Jamaica is a small island nation, the fifth largest in the Caribbean with 2.7 million inhabitants. The indigenous people, the Taíno, called it Xaymaca in Arawakan, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water" or the "Land of Springs". Among other things, Jamaica is famous for it's Reggae music and the highest murder rate in the region. We boast about many popular Jamaicans and the work they have done for the world to see. Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, et al. But too often we overlook the heroes at home who have helped shaped our nation and put aspects of our culture on the map.

Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately called Miss Lou, was a Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer, and educator. She wrote and performed her poems and songs in Jamaican Patois or Creole. She was instrumental in giving our "dialect" a face as well as a spine; giving it literary recognition in its own right as a national language, at the heart of the Jamaican poetic tradition.
While the Jamaican upper classes turned up their noses at the local dialect, Miss Lou was adamant that patois was not 'bad English' as many thought. She insisted, against much opposition, that our language is not vulgar and we should take pride in it. Always with a smile and a clap of her hand she gave selflessly to forward Patois' cause.
Sun a shine but tings no bright;
Doah pot a bwile, bickle no nuff;
River flood but water scarce, yawl
Rain a fall but dutty tough.

Tings so bad dat nowadays when
Yuh ask smaddy how dem do
Dem fraid yuh tek it tell dem back,
So dem no answer yuh.

No care omuch we dah work fa
Hard-time still een we shut;
We dah fight, Hard-time a beat we,
Dem might raise we wages, but
One poun gawn awn pon we pay, an

We no feel no merriment
For ten poun gawn pon we food
An ten pound pon we rent!
Saltfish gawn up, mackerel gawn up.
Pork en beef gawn up,
An when rice and butter ready
Dem just go pon holiday!

Claht, boot, pin an needle gawn up’
Ice, bread, taxes, water-rate
Kersene ile, gasolene, gawn up;
An de poun devaluate.
De price of bread gawn up so high
Dat we haffi agree
Fi cut we yeye pon bred an all
Tun dumplin refugee

An all dem marga smaddy weh
Dah gwan like fat is sin
All dem-deh weh dah fas wid me
Ah lef dem to dumpling!

Sun a shine an pot a bwile, but
Things no bright, bickle no nuff
Rain a fall, river dah flood, but,
Water scarce and dutty tough

A grateful nation remembers Miss Lou as one of Jamaica's preeminent cultural ambassadors and a heroine in her own right. Her work has inspired generations of Jamaicans, both at home and in the diaspora. Our local dialect is among one of our proudest exports.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I Have Decided

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Once upon a time a walked with a load. I had chosen to hate those who hated me. To return malice with malice, an eye for an eye. This was the old me, what I had been taught and had to unlearn. It was the easiest way; for my ego, to feel even, for a false sense of balance.
Some have argued that hate is not real. That the opposite of love is indifference. Some argue that love is not real, not because it is intangible but more than likely because sometime or another they've confused love with lust or infatuation.
While, love and hate are both emotional states of mind that is about as much as they share in common. Hate is for the weak, while love is for the strong. Hate is bred from cowardice, while love is an act of the brave. Love is without condition, but hate is dependent on intolerance and a lack of understanding.
Love is not lust filled with sentimentality as some may think; sappy and emotional. As I grew older, I grew up and gave up on hate, because I have found that love is the ultimate liberator. You walk lighter and with a clear conscience when love is your way. The path may not be easy, but it will always be worth it.