Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Please Stand Up!

Ok so I was all excited about visiting this boutique here in the city that I heard was featuring a bit of the collection from my long time favorite store Top Shop in London. Opening Ceremony was the name of the store, I hustled down there after work to the location, tucked away a block north of Canal Street. Big space impressive inventory, very unusual like myself. I jetisoned upstairs to the Top Shop collection and just deflated. Yes they sported many an item from the famous store but unlike TopShop, they were not bursting at the seams with inventory. Top Shop is like no other store. Do you know what its like to enter a huge emporium and find everything that you could want for you wardrobe in one enormous place. No shade no drama no weird "boutiquey" vibe just as loud and busy as you'd want it. People everywhere, impeccable order in the collection and just an immense array of items, tops, tights, bottoms, accessories, accessories and more accessories! Then within the bloody store they're boutiques off the main floor! What more could a girl want. That's what was different about London and NY, whenever the inventory was unusual in NY, it exists in a stuck up environment. They're like 5 items of everything as opposed to 100's of items in London.

There is also an air of stuck upness in certain stores in NYC, like, what are you doing here. One doesn't feel very "welcome" in these places, it feels uptight and definitely not somewhere one would want to return to over and over again. That's the major difference I found, even at Opening Ceremony, there was that strange empty air. Not enough people and just kind of cold and void. Not to mention the prices were not cheap, due to the import issues and the fact that they've to mark up to make a profit. So it looks like I'll be socking away that money and placing my order online or saving for that plane ticket back across the pond to shop and wallow in the big unpretentious glory that is the Top Shop with its loud music, buzzing floors, sweets corner and insane inventory where soaking up all those fab glad rags is oh so so good! The next best thing here is H&M but apart from that glorious institution will could another fab store in the NYC area like the Top Shop please stand up!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cash vs Credit

The fight is on between the 2 and according to 20/20 on Friday; the credit cards are winning and the poor suckers aka the American people are losing. Yes the jury is in and the fight is fixed. There is no winning, and as pointed out by last week's 20/20 episode, like many other Americans in denial about other things, there is also denial about debt. This is a country that glorifies instant gratification. Everything in the now, satisfaction immediately, no waiting. The billboards and glossy ads and slick come-ons beckon to us. The things we need and don't need. The countless things we are told we should get, the things we're told that if we didn't have - well that we'd basically be nothing but losers. The "its" play into our insecurities and our need to be secure. Enough with that old car, shoot, get a new one, new phone, better home, spiffier furniture, paint, blender, toaster, food processor and lets not forget clothes, clothes, and more clothes. Don't worry, pay later, 0% interest, cash back deals and better yet, rewards! "What's in YOUR Wallet!" Mastercard is "Priceless" "Life Takes" VISA and the all famous "Don't Leave Home Without It!" Yes suckers, just put it on the card.

There is hardly an American that doesn't own a credit card or are not in some kind of debt. I count myself as one of the lucky few that hasn't fallen for the lure and ended up in that tender trap, surrounded by very possessions that landed me there. It is hard indeed to withstand the onslaught of "you need this" advertising. But the key point is recognizing the difference between a need and a want. Hey by no means do I not like the bells and whistles like the next guy, but the key is this - don't spend what you don't have and don't spend assumed money. But the insane appetite that this culture cultivates is insatiable. This is nothing more than a society of consumers. Eat eat eat, buy buy buy and as long as this continues at a maddening pace we'll all be sunk and the debt collectors will all be a calling; and as some of the calls on this last 20/20 show illustrates - some of them ain't too nice. So cash vs credit, I say, cash is always King!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Epiphany

I remember having an epiphany, a strange one and in a strange place. I was in my required Geology class at Queensborough Community College. We were studying the planets, rocks, saturn's moons - io, in particular. And all of a sudden, like a sack of potatoes, where what, does God exist in all this, did he create this, where did all this strange shit come from. All these planets, turning, oscillating, moving out there in space, with their own lives, own planets, moons and such. Black holes and a Universe that seems to go on forever and ever. And I remember asking myself, where the hell do we all fit into this, why only this fertile planet.

Is somebody else out there, down the end the far corridor. I don't know and I just realized, that no one else knows either. They're just guessing and hoping but do we really know. The religious types never answer my questions with their archaic logic and silly explanations. It took me a while to come out of the funk that the idea of God might be an invention of the human mind to deal with all this, this whole thing was heavy. Not too many a mind could handle it.

Only after viewing the Discovery Channel and really taking a look at the sophisticated and highly evolved organisms that we have on this planet did I come back to the thinking that there does exist some higher power. Something bigger that all us, something that set all this in motion; not by the waving of some wand, not in 7 days, not starting with 2 people - them being Adam and Eve. Nope none of that, something else happened. We're still trying to figure out. Looking back on the great civilizations that we've had exist on this planet it is hard to view this whole scheme of things in a simplistic way, one must dig and think deeper. The capacity to which most individuals cannot do. Their minds take them only slightly beneath the surface. So as the world continues to spin, mindful of all the other planets out there, never colliding, never crashing or ceasing, spinning in infinite perpetual motion we wait, wait for the answer to be discovered and those who think they've got the answer, wait for the return of their deity to live in a lofty perfect existence for all eternity.

For me, there is Alpha with no Omega.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Castro is suffering and might die. The end I fear is inevitable, Miami will be celebrating, his brother Raul will take over and things might change? Who knows what will happen, it could be worse, better or just strange. Cuba - a source of controversy and a thorn in the side of the USA. I was happy that I was able to fulfill my dream of visiting this fabled island, the biggest island in the Caribbean. Me, being from one of the littlest ones was just happy to be able to go, I defied the stupid embargo, after all, I felt like I was re born. I had nearly died the year before, and after having a tricky brain surgery, I'd be damned if I was afraid of someone telling me where I could and couldn't go. How dare anyone come out in protest against this country. I grew up and saw the US and the world practically ignore the giant elephant of racism in South Africa that stood in the room for decades. Not a word was said, as the diamonds kept coming in. Everyone stood back in silence as blacks were beat down, disenfranchised and demonized by the white minority. Not a word, no travelling embargo, no angry organized mob somewhere in Florida. Nope not a word. But yet you have all this anger for one man. When one visits Cuba there is no abject poverty like in places in the world, lets say, India. Is everyone happy and all's well, of course not, but they aren't too many places in the world that everyone is. So what if you don't have disposable forks and spoons and napkins and toilet paper are luxeries. Hell do you really need that to survive? Ask yourselves.
Everyone in Cuba had a smile on, didn't complain too hard about much and folks, even the hard up had on gold caps on their teeth! Hello, what's that all about. And here in the land of plenty, every other person is "depressed" on some kind of drug, can't stop drugging, eating, sexing or whatever addiction du jour. We have everything but yet unhappy. The newest car, fridge, condo, house, jewellery and the list goes on. The billboards and magazines taunt us with the things that we don't have and most likely won't unless we want to go helplessly into debt. Shame on all the exiled in Miami; who if I were Castro, I wouldn't want back anyway and shame on the politicians that cowtowed to their shit. I have no respect for them, because if they hated Castro so much, they should've done like what he did so many years ago and snuck back in, get through the Sierra Maestra and overthrown the source of their supposed malcontent. Shamefull stupid bunch they are, nope, they don't want to get their precious little hands dirty, they want to litigate their way back home. Well good luck nincompoops, do it youselves or shut up. So here it is with fond farewell, and I was glad to be able to go before the end of his controversial reign. At least he tried, is what I could say, was he the worse, no, was he the best not the least, but he held true to his convictions and for that I give him the utmost credit.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Well we all know how much I love to travel. Its good for clearing the mind and learning lots of things, it expands one's horizons and mind. As I was moving around London recently and tipped into Holland I took notice of and was amazed at the variety of Africans and us people of African descent. I could look right away and tell the ones from the Caribbean, and the ones from Africa, and what parts. I started thinking. When speaking about Africans we've to remember that there are so many different tribes within Africa so many tribes with distinct features and characteristics. Those from the interior like Uganda have a different look to say the West Africans than the ones from say Kenya, like the Dinka and the Ibo and the Ashanti and Somalia and Entrea and Sudan and the Zulu & Dobe Kung in the South; and let's not forget about, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco. Tribes existing from ancient times, before the birth of Jesus, beautiful tribes, proud peoples, people at one with nature and God, even though many would beg to differ. Being at one doesn't only mean bowing down and reading the Bible and praying while others raid your surroundings.

I love to see the different faces, the differences in their looks and ways and how everyone from one ethnic tribe tends to all look related, the same. The Dinka with their height, the Ethiopians & Somalies with their thin faces and narrow noses, the ones to the north with the lighter skin tones, the Saudis out east the Zulu with their narrow eyes in the South, the Ugandans with their eyes and tribes out West with the round heads. Take a look and you'll see. We in the Caribbean are unfortunately the Lost tribes, stolen from the West Coast of Africa, Nigeria, the Dahomey and Ibo and Benin lost their peoples to the evil slave traders that bled, ransacked and plundered their Kingdoms for over 300 years. Filling each and every island in the Caribbean, and packing Brazil and areas of South and Central America, even North America with hundreds and thousands of stolen booty. We are the lost tribes that have the same lost look, the mix hundreds of years of the mix of black and white and the intermixing of the original mixing, we carry colors from peanut butter to buttermilk yellow, cocoa brown, medium brown, orange and even a few; still deep black. Our faces are the faces of the lost. We stand alone on the outside, we have no tribe but our own lost one with whom we favor. When I walk down the street in Holland I can tell the girls and boys of Somalia, Ethiopia, Oman, North Africa and in London the tribes from West Africa, those women with the smooth dark flawless complexions.

The white man would like us to forget that North Africa even exists anywhere in the realm of Africa, we've been lead to believe that Africa is a forboding, "dark" continent with strange black people like boogymen who do strange things and always seem to have some problem looming that the rest of the world has to help out. He wants to even divide the Africa, phrases like "Sub-Saharan" are used aka - "those darker ones" The white man is always looking to divide and conquer, he is a clever one and one must always be on their guard for his tricks. He's still got us in a tizzy. Made us somehow believe that even though slavery was his worse crime, worse than Hitler's; we should still find the silver lininig in that dark cloud, 'cause at least he brought us religion and civilization. We're made to believe that we would've been savages running around, not proud peoples from highly esteemed countries, with complex and advanced civilizations. No, we should be glad that our ancestors were somehow "saved" and thank God we don't have to live there in this country ravaged by AIDS, disease, poverty and every other scourge known to man. But he also doesn't let you know that had it not been for his disruption; Africa would've been a great place, the Garden of Eden.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Its a new year, again, os they say by this calender, its 2007 but really its more like 5000 something or maybe a billion by now. Time is unchanging, it just keeps on moving, whether we want it to or not. It doesn't care how we measure it, change it, daylight savings time it. Time is never ending and immortal. Time steals from us, it steals our good times, happy times, sad times, memories, youth, and eventually our lives. It is the theif of always. It is time that makes me remember, remember my ancestors, well to be more precise; my grandparents. Born in 1905 & 1910 respectively, they're now gone, grandmother in 1990 and grandfather in 1992. I remember them as the year takes a turn. I don't know why I'm reflecting but I was editing a recital and this little girl looked so much like my grandmother in her last years. Slight and skinny. My grandmother lived with me my entire life. Although she was a bit aloof and not as engaging as my grandfather, she was ever present. Calling me angrily in for lunch and insisting on calling it breakfast. Stubbornly sitting there in the kitchen. I still remember, I also remember thinking forward, back then now in the past about the future when she might not be around and wanting to cry. Wanting to cry just thinking about her not being around. Like a silent shadow representing a part of my life that just fell away. Even if they hadn't died then they would be dead now.

I was glad that I talked to them and got all their stories, interesting stories. Stories that reached back into a past that is gone, a past that I will never experience. Their life experiences and the stories linked me back and linked me to a life that I can in turn clip onto my children if I have any. Memories I can share and memories that can hopefully go on forever or for as long as possible. I have another grandmother who is about 92 and her stories I dig into also. I still remember my grandmother taking me for walks around age 3. I didn't learn everything from her, but I did learn some things. Now its my aunt and mother and my cousins and myself and the next generation, the ancestors fade away and become a distant memory, a photograph in a book, a picture hanging on a wall so it is always a treat to have a story, a life story to go along with that image. And as the years roll on, the memories and their biography becomes vague until eventually time steals that, always, too.