Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who is Jack Mandora?

Jack Mandora me no choose none. If you have ever heard an Anancy story, as many Jamaican children have had for so many years, this is the statement made to signal the end of the story. But who is Jack Mandora and why is it necessary to constantly inform him of choices in such simple things as a story? So much of who we are collectively as a people tends to be ignored because it is already so ubiquitous in our psyche. It is easy for us to forget when we live in an age of instant gratification and microwave knowledge, that stories were never just stories. Forgive me for I have strayed a little but I promise you I will deal with that topic in another piece.

There are many tales as to who this Jack Mandora is. In many African tribes, stories were told and to a great extent still are told as an object. Words do not escape the lips for the mere enjoyment of the sound of one’s voice. Instead they acted as parables that manifested in a cunningly constructed story directed at an individual that needed to learn something or be warned, et cetera. For the village the innuendo would be exceedingly hard to miss. Jack Mandora in this case could be interpreted as the individual and his/her combolo (friends). Now in the event, a story was told for the fun of it, as a mere diversion of thought, it was thought only good manners to say “This story is not aimed at you or anyone else, nor am I wishing the same fate on you.” Hence Jack Mandora me no choose none.
In many West African tribes Anancy was more than just a lazy ginnal (trickster) with a funny sounding lisp. In fact among such tribes as the Ashanti, the Akan and other persons who spoke the Twi language, Anancy was the god of knowledge, and for some tribes Jack Mandora the keeper of heaven’s gate. In essence, the early Samuel L. Jackson version of St. Peter. Part of the process of gaining entrance to a pleasant hereafter was to tell an Anancy story to prove that one had a wise existence in the time spent on earth. Souls who could not would be turned away and forced to watch reality T.V. for eternity.

Now Anancy has been cunning long before Nicolò Machiavelli ever thought of writing the Prince. Sometimes in Anancy stories he would do very ‘Wicked things’ the statement then acted as a disclaimer of sorts. It did two things:
  1. It absconded the storyteller from any blame, that is any trick performed by the cunning spider which was immoral this made it clear it was not the same position of the storyteller.
  2. Should parts of the story be exaggerated then the storyteller could never be viewed as a liar so when his day came to stand before Jack Mandora, such stories told would not be part of the judgement.
An alternate position on this issue is provided by linguist Frederic G. Cassidy who believes the story of Jack Mandora is nothing as exotic as an African Gilly Priest, "The Original Gateman" (gatekeeper). In fact he believed it to be nothing more than a bastardized English Nursery rhyme which went something like this:
I’ll tell you a story
And this is how it’s began
I’ll tell you another
Of Jack and his brother and now my story’s done.’
Personally I prefer the idea of the gatekeeper. And while the version put forward by Mr. Cassidy seem plausible in my mind its just doesn’t add up to what we know from those of us who actually paid attention in West African History classes. To me Cassidy’s version feels much like clinging to colonialism and the idea that nothing of value could come about without the direct or indirect influence of Colonial masters. Anancy acted as a symbol of hope for oppressed people that the small and crafty could out manoeuvre the great and powerful. Why then would they knowingly associate in the end to those who were the oppressors? To me that just don’t add up, but so mi get it, so mi sell it, mi nuh add nor subtract it.

For more info check these out;
Jamaica Journal Vol. 16. No 2 May 1983
Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories by Laura Tanna
And if your just a lazy bastard .. have at it;

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Love Beatdown

A break-up is a condition, which I would not wish on anyone, especially if deep feelings were invested in said relationship. Getting ones’ ass kicked by love when you couldn’t even fathom not having that special person in your life well … forever, is quite possibly one of the worst things that could ever happen to the human condition. It is true however that old saying that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Hopefully you will open your eyes and learn valuable lessons about life and people on that journey to enlightenment or death.

Most of my friends usually say I have the mind of a man trapped in the body of a woman. I however wouldn’t totally agree, as while women for centuries have been the repressed sex in especially western cultures you just have to admit that women have way more fun than men if they know how to play the game.

It was only after sending someone “to the left, to the left” did I come to appreciate the nuances and the power of Beyonce’s song “Irreplaceable”. I’d be at parties and cringe when it starts playing as all these girlie girls embarrass themselves and say

“You must not know bout me! You must not know bout me!”

Initially it was hard and everytime the thought of said person came to mind your chest that was once warm and filled with possibility and excitement now lay empty and you are left to wonder how one heart, one human heart can feel so cavernous and raw? However it didn’t take too long for that feeling to subside and the immense excitement of being completely free of what was hurting you for so long comes to the fore and now this sigh… this huge sigh of relief is unlike any other before it. It fills your chest like a giant helium balloon and it lifts your spirit and makes you smile from ear to ear at every single thing. Yes, now all you want to do with this new lift is to “walk out” on this song.

Women are super. Women aren’t human at all. They are so much more than that. Women were sent to earth from the planet Omacron Percion 5 long before that fag in the red and blue tights. Unlike other heroes who became so by radiation, spider bites or a heavy reliance on tools to save the day, to be super all a woman has to do is wake up. Women are just naturally so however, in order to fit in we dumb down how truly awesome we are. We do this so long we some times forget our natural advantages and harp on how our boobs are too big, so we cover them up so men won’t get distracted and only see them. You’re too smart to pretend to be a Bimbo so you’re more approachable. We treat the lover’s heart like the head curator for the Shroud of Turin but him; he gets to plow through your feelings with as much subtly as a Redneck at a monster truck rally.

That’s life, and life is never fair. So why don’t we make it unfair in our favor. Instead of lovingly shooting ourselves in the leg just to give the Special Ed’s a fighting chance. Why aren’t we crying for the wrong reasons? Like using our Student Loan payment to buy shoes, and then bawl our big pretty eyes out to that Special Ed.

“Oh I don’t know what ever am I gonna do to repay this loan and if I don’t the Student Loan people said they are going to put my picture in the paper, Oh woe is me!”

It is however very important to leave out the minor details and it is also important to have your eyes well up with tears at just the right time during your story.

I have come to realize how much a weapon of catastrophic destruction a dress is, one of the many weapons in the arsenal given women by the goddess herself. The important thing to always remember about dresses are, it’s never what is in vogue but what fits well and makes sound effects go-off in your intended’s head like a Stan Lee comic.


A good dress has the ability to erase the word ‘no’ from any vocabulary. It is not just some fabric sewn together to cover the body. It is instead a tool for use to gain every possible advantage in the most unfair game in human history, the game of love and desire.

Beauty is subjective and fleeting. It is therefore important to be reminded of two constants:

  1. Know your audience that way you can use the enemies’ weaknesses against them.
  2. Be as humanly objective with ones self as possible.

The ability to step outside of your comfort zone and truly see when your game needs some upgrading is a most important asset. There isn’t anything sadder than seeing a 30-something with an 18 year old trick. That’s just tacky.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wappy and Philip

Its very funny how much we go through our days using sayings and slang that seem so commonplace but in fact are so far from it. Recently I had the pleasure of traveling with a group of classy ladies who were not only fun but also a wealth of knowledge regarding Caribbean culture. On our journey to the thanksgiving of the life of a hero who was also a great person I learnt two things about our very common sayings I now wish to share.
Every day you hear it “Him a build him house from Wappy kill Fillop!”
“a whe she a go inna dat, de frock ol she mussi have it from Wappy kill Fillop.”

So who are this Wappy and Fillop? Well apparently they were real people. Wappy was the first gunman ever in Jamaica. Wappy predates Natty Morgan, Jim Brown and every bad man in Jamaica. He was the original shotta. Now apparently Wappy and Philip lived in Kingston because that’s where all the real gun-hawks live. Why did Wappy kill Philip I didn’t hear but he did kill him, and he killed Philip in a time where the only time people know death is by natural causes and freak accidents. Therefore a murder and a murder with a gun was the biggest news, ever. So big that it became a landmark in the annals of Jamaican time. Persons started using this statement to show time. Hence from Wappy Kill Philip.
Now true to form Jamaicans have a strange way of messing up, or let me rephrase that, putting a new spin on birth names. Somewhere along the line Phillip became Fillop and hence, Wappy kill Fillop.

Now being the badass that he was, Wappy was on the run from the police for some time. And in the age before the C. S.I.s and the Law and Orders it took the police some time to find him. Well that’s to say if they ever found him at all. So another much used slang developed in our collective culture and that is to say “Wappy back”. This speaks to the quickness and shrewdness in which an action was taken.

Now there is something to be said about how colourful our language is and I find myself loving so much of our dialect. We can’t just say it was big or huge, no emphasis has to be placed in order for persons to understand how big the thing was. Should one need to describe with some degree of disgust someone that their age or size should tell them that they cannot act in a manner smaller people do then you might hear something along the line of;
“Dis big auss tearin man nuh wah leff de likkle school gal dem alone!”
“Auss tearing” derives from the English “horse staring” which speaks to height. And the act of actually looking a horse in its face. Seeing as horses are such huge creatures standing over 6ft tall to look one directly in the face is no small feat. Any one able to do so comfortably was obviously some kind of giant hence the reference was used to describe what one can call an “over grown person”. Who knew?
Jack Mandora Mi nuh choose none.

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Soldering that is what young women want

That’s a strange statement to make seeing as the act of soldering is “a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and flowing a filler metal into the joint, the filler metal having a relatively low melting point. Soft soldering is characterized by the melting point of the filler metal, which is below 400 °C (800 °F).”

Its crazy how much of our culture is either ignored or forgotten, how much we over look. I was informed that long ago soldering men use to walk the villages calling “Solder Man! Solder Man!”. Persons would then take their tins that need mending out to the soldering man, pots, mugs, chamber pots etc. In essence a Soldering man was the man who fixes problems by plugging holes.

Now fast forward to the 1970’s to Stanley Beckford allegedly the only reggae singer to move to mento and not the other way around. For those who don’t know, Mento is the form of music which predates Ska, who begat rocksteady, parent of reggae who had a badass child called Dancehall. Mento is fusion of both European and tradional African forms music. Arguably the most important aspect of Mento is its subject matter which among other things is its thinly-veiled sexual references and innuendos. It is said that the treatment of sex in Mento is comparatively innocent, and I’d say it just depends on who you ask. The appearance of these innuendos has sometimes been seen as a precursor of the slackness found in modern dancehall.
Anyway back to Stanley, who did a song called what else? Soldering, but no self-respecting patois using Jamaican would say Soldering so it’s “Sardarin’”. For those who are unfamiliar with said song it went something like this:
Soldering a what de young gal want, soldering
Soldering a what de young gal want, soldering
She said she don't want no young man
Cause young man drink too much white rum
She said she don't want no soul man
Cause soul man fast asleep in bed
She said she don't want no dreadlock
Cause dreadlock smoke too much kylie

I keep hearing people say the good ole days this, and the good ole days that, and in my time they never. But really, isn’t Soldering the infantile version of Daggrin? Compare Braga Dat's, Dagga dat to Soldering, how diffrent are they really?

Touch de dance and a fuck tune a play
Tasheka touch Kim right away
See Braga deh a dagga som’ side a Fay
See Braga deh a dagga som’ side a Fay
A which gal a ask if a Braga dat
Come ova yasso an mek mi dagga dat
A which gal a ask if a Barga dat a mus de one inna de white no a de one inna de black
Flick the pussy pon mi cocky like a dollar coin
Cent five-cent gimmi di dollar wine
Mi fuck de gal she tell har man she nuh want another wine

Granted I didn’t post the radio edited version of the Braga Dat song so I am sure it’s more colourful but I really don’t believe much in editing some things. Now ignore the “coarseness ” the language used. How more different is Braga Dat and Stanly? Wasn’t Soldering as much frowned on when it was popular music then as Daggrin now? And isn’t music all just a big subjective matter of taste, so why is it important to present one form as more valuable because it’s vintage. In reality in the next thirty years Braga Dat will be the new vintage.


Sting 08

Every year I promise it’s the last year I am ever attending Sting. Yet every year, there I am behind VIP - sighting bottles, fighting pickpockets and avoiding being trampled. Thus far I have managed to keep all my bodily fluids in place and I am happy that from my first Sting with Kris Kross to Sting 2008, the only incident I ever had was losing my house key and having to wake up my mother.

“The Settlement of All Arguments” that’s what Sting 2008 was billed as. Personally I am not sure if the audience has grown up over the years, or if it’s too much trouble to fill plastic bottles with water or piss to hurl at the lame-Os but there were many loose ends going into the New Year. Usually Sting is black and red. The artiste clearly makes their point when the crowd thinks it was executed in an efficient enough manner and then said artiste won’t have to dodge a rain of bottles. If you can’t dodge well, then you see the red. To be honest, the evil side of me really misses the days of bottle flinging and the ensuing excitement.

This year quite a few artistes really deserved to play dandy-shandy on stage. Like some no name Rasta in orange and black who got a one forward then started to diss the Empire, so after that he had to go. Fluffy Miss Kitty almost got a few under her “fluffy to the worl” skin but that would be wrong…so I am happy they never bottled her and already pop up Ragga Shanty when the crowd got a bit restless.

Aidonia must only make albums and go on tour in Europe and Japan and make his money there. That or learn some stage presence. Every time I see this man he upsets patrons. This man having the home court advantage, was a major understatement, being in Portmore Empire and the show being held at Jamword. Still he got booed. Poor thing. With Aidonia you get the feeling he might never really mature as an artiste in the eyes of Dancehall patrons. The force ripe and leave Alliance before he really had an identity still plagues him. Here’s hoping he finds himself in ‘09.

It is said that Sting sets the tone of an artistes’ career for the year to come. Example, good show at Sting, prosperity and good things for the year to come and vice versa. If that is the case then it is in the Monster Empire’s best interest to tie a millstone around their collective necks and go jump off in the deepest part of Kingston Harbour. If any promoter employs Monster Empire after this for a show, it is only to pick up bottles after the show has ended. From start to finish Sting patrons were not interested in what they had to say. Kip Rich, yes people Kip Rich killed the Monster Empire. Kippo came with blood in his eyes and the fire in his soul was unquenched. Either by design or by choice the Empire was absent when the enraged Kip Rich demanded all three to face him. When they finally graced the stage the crowd took the no show for cowardice. And cowards have no place in Sting. One good thing about Monster Empire was that they were all co-ordinated, if they had some back-up dancers and did some old non-throw-word songs and Backstreet Boys out the thing it would have gone better for them.

There was not much respect for veterans this Sting. Patra is a case in point. Being away for so long, she still looked good and moved beautifully. Unfortunately, Sting wasn’t having any of that, guess when it is wartime no one really wants to hear “Pull up to my bumper”. Her being booed was undeserved. Zebra got a small boo too, which was understandable because it seemed he has not found his out of jail footing yet.

TNT was cute. Tiffa split and tore her tights and show the world her white panty - good thing it looked clean. While that was funny as hell she actually gave a good performance. Of the three ladies Nathlie looked the hottest, lock me up any time Mrs Officer Storm. Weeooowww, Weeooowww, Weeooowww. It’s safe to say that TNT are now the Sting Princesses.

Etana gave one of her best performances to date. Every time you see her she truly gets better than the last time you saw her. There is this mutual respect between her and the audience. During her set the only thing you could do was keep your eyes glued on the stage as she sang while her words connected with you. In short you got your money’s worth. Terry Linen, Ginjah, and Stevie Face all gave very good performances. I have to admit that Ginjah has one of the sweetest (new) voices around. It was a pleasant surprise that he sounded better live than he does on the radio, which is great because one gets so use to the opposite with many of today’s artistes.

I-Octane and Assassin were uber-professionals. Especially Assassin, both performers had great costumes as well as presence and their delivery was impeccable, but Assassin just had a little more to give him the edge. I have to say I was very proud of Assassin who decided that with all the passa-passa that was happening around him, he rose above it and give a performance everyone could enjoy. No matter whose camp you were in.

Hands down, the King for Sting, the man who won all the clashes even though he wasn’t in them, the man who Settled All the Arguments and put his stamp on Sting ‘08 forever, was without a doubt, Andre ‘Flippa Mafia’ Davis. Who? The Flossing King of course. After his performance, anyone not clear on what real flossing was about, got a very full understanding. He didn’t even need to break out his power point presentation with charts and graphs and diagrams. Flippa is the Boasty Boss and all I want to know from him is what pocket he keeps his Pounds and Euros in, ‘cause he already showed us the U.S pocket. Personally, I hope he keeps his momentum and do bigger and better things for the years to come. That’s it, review finished. Andre Boasty Boss Flippa Mafia Davis is the flossing king for Sting ‘08. THE END.

Alright that’s it. What you mean it’s not finished? You are not you writing it bright eeh! Clash? What cla… ok fine.

Let me put things in perspective. Remember in high school and you have an un-even match up. All along the really good fighter kicking the ass of the lame one and just beating him like he owes him money. Then the not so good fighter gets a one two in on the better fighter and probably slaps him with a stone and then runs off. By default him win, not a good win but a win is a win as much as it pains me to say it. That’s kind of what happened this year at Sting. To be honest Kartel did everything right up to the “Wha dat fa” song. And who can blame Movado for preparing for and using his opponent’s one flaw. That one opening gave him all he needed lick and run. And in the Sting tradition it’s who leave wicked, and Movado left in a wicked way. Kartel even did a song about it already because to tell the truth that was a real punk win. But a win is a win.. I guess.

OH YEAH! My Great granny use to say fowl a go fat, him begin a him toe. Anybody who knows me know that mix up and carry news is not my forte, but. That Romping Shop set with Spice and Kartel look a little too real fi say dem a play play house. I do stand corrected and if somebody not brushing somebody, not even a little bit then Vybes Kartel and Spice need to get the Oscar for best actor and actress of the year. Dem pieces a whine up whine up and skin off teeth and hug up and all these things then come tell me say no real romping not going on in that shop. Scorn Dem^_^