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Hello DC: Rubix Cube Party   Leave a comment

I’m at a Rubix cube party.
We all know the Rubix cube. It was a genius little device invented in the early 70’s by the Hungarian architecture dude. You spin the faces, line up the squares and make the colors match. We know how it works. At this party, we are the colors, and by the night’s end, we must be wearing one color of clothing. In a sense, we are squares on the cube.
Earlier in the evening, I was happily munching on Chicken Tibs at a local Ethiopian restaurant. I was eating with a good friend of mine. We spoke frankly about the diatribes of broken relationships, growth and Sean Penn’s new Movie, “Milk”.
Afterwards, we stepped out into the darkness of DC’s winter cold, and I bid her adieu. Then I hopped on the 70 bus towards Columbia heights. I spent the trip listening to dancehall, and watching the dark blobs that represent rowhouses go past in a dull blur.
I was sitting quietly, (like most people in the bus), but I was listening to sexually charged, uber-voilent dancehall music. I’m sure my hipster pants and trucker hat hid that fact nicely.
It’s really cold when I exit the bus to head towards the party, but there is something oddly stimulating about it.
Maybe it’s the feeling of the wind biting my fingertips, the little brown leaves that rustle above me whenever a gust of wind flashes by, or the fact that I’m underdressed. My fingers are burning me, and my jacket (stylish as it is) has no outer pockets for me to slip my fingers into.
I walk fast.
When I reach the party, there is no one milling outside. This makes perfect sense. Even the smokers are happily huddled inside, accepting warmth instead of tiny doses of nicotine, cyanide and a dozen other harmful chemicals.
As I step in, a guy wearing red tights, and a red dress walks past. His eyes are glassy with alcohol, and he has a wry smile. “I need your hat!” he says to a girl walking nearby. She is wearing dark leather pants, a red hat and a suede Jacket that looks straight out of a vampire movie. She chuckles and disappears into the small crowd of people occupying the space.
I personally am out of place with my outfit. I’m technically wearing full black, (even though I wore a yellow shirt to throw my outfit off) but I am determined to find matching yellow pants. I see one person dressed in yellow, a short girl with dark features. She is wearing what appears to be a yellow jacket around her waist, webbed yellow shoes, yellow stockings, a yellow hat and a yellow shirt. I groan, as I have nothing to trade. The idea of taking off my pants right there to put some yellow tights on isn’t stimulating yet. I need to get some alcohol.
I meet and greet the hosts, and I find out it’s a birthday party. I was invited by a girl I know, Ash, and she is decked out in a full red outfit; large red shirt that reads “Ameican Heritage”, red tights and a  red baseball cap. At some point later on in the night she will be completely blue, complete with a blue wig. “Would you like some whiskey?” she says to me as I step inside.
For a moment I pause, and my mind flashes back to Halloween weekend a month prior. I saw a blur of people, faces and felt the heat of different bars and houses on my face, then I remember waking up and not knowing where I was.
“I think I’ll get a beer.” I say with a smile. Ash starts talking to the girl in the full yellow. Behind me, a guy says. “She (yellow girl) looks like a creature from Final Fantasy.”
I spend the next ten minutes trying to remember what creature she  looked like. I was never a huge Final Fantasy fan, but I knew a few of the creatures.
When I was in high school and Playstation (not Playstaion two or three, not even PSOne… PLAYSTATION) was all the rage, when Final Fantasy seven came out, it was lauded as one of the greatest RPG’s of all time. I didn’t have a Playstation, I had an N64, and I forever regretted not feeding on the frenzies of my school mates. I wished I could have huddled under the tree where the nerds hung out and read backstory on the FF universe, talk about little creatures and boss fights and escape in that world of fantasy. Instead, I played games like Bomberman 64 and Turok. I’m thinking about this as i walk through the kitchen looking a cup, then a word pops into my head:
Chocobo.
That’s the thing the girl in the yellow looks like. It’s a little bird sort of creature. I walk down a narrow hallway and through six active conversations. Outside is  a keg, and I get a drink. The temperature feels like its dropped another six degrees, and I hurry up and go inside. After my first beer, I’m determined to get some yellow pants.
The music isn’t very inspiring. It sounds like slow lounge music mixed in with upbeat country or old pop songs. No one is dancing yet. I see the birthday boy (who I incorrectly called “Jesse” for most of the night) and say hello. He is wearing a hodgepodge of colors. He has an orange shirt on, tiny blue shorts and black socks, and he has an orange bandana tied on his head. “So, you are twenty five eh?” I say. “Yeah, maybe in a week it will hit me and I’ll either be like “oh god!” or “oh yeah!” He says with a laugh. “I’ve been there,” I say. “I’m definitely in the “oh god!” stage right now.”
He disappears down the same long hallway with two girls and I eye some cake. Lately I’ve been avoiding a lot of pastry, and I don’t feel like digging into a suger-laced cake while I’m drinking. Ash is standing beside two more girls who are working the Rubix. One is wearing full blue regalia and has a blue wig on. She does Madonna style poses as cameras flash in the background.
I smile and survey the rest of the party. It’s a weird mix. Some people are dressed very normal, in the usually array of jeans and jackets. Then there are a few hardcore guys, who I call the “Rubix dudes”.
For some reason, they are all wearing dresses, and I think their oufits were elaborate plans engineered by the women at the party (they are in the majority). One guy is about six foot three and wearing a green skirt, a green halter top, what looks like a shiny set of green leaves on a string around his neck and (I think) a green necklace. Another fellow, who I later find out is Mark, is wearing small,orange boy-underwear, what look  like orange tassles around his waist, and a v-neck orange shirt (above a green one) complemented by a knit orange hat. He has sharp eyes, a playfully expressive face,a moustache and goatee. He looks like Robin Hood, if Robin Hood left Nottingham to join the broadway cast of Mama Mia! And ended up doing West Side Story instead.
There are a few other guys who enthusiastically get into the Rubix-mode, but the guy that took the cake was a short, broad-chested fellow wearing a full white female outfit. It was his manliness—hairy chest and broad flat features—that made his outfit the funniest. A tiny white haltertop barley fit on his chest and he wore a small white dress, and what looked like a white hairnet…. Or head tie, I’m not familiar with what all forms of female clothing are called.
They Rubix dudes were constantly taking pictures, smiling and laughing. I was on my second beer now, but I didn’t feel like clothes swapping that much. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I wanted to get my yellow pants. I started talking to Mr. T, a friendly-faced guy with a classic Midwest disposition. Ash told me he was apparently, a rubix cube expert.
We started discussing the dynamics near the front entrance. By this time I was on beer number four or five and sipping on a Bacardi ginger ale. Needless to say, talking about the concepts behind multiple planes and matching edges were lost on me. The music changed, and I started dancing with Ash.
At some point, I start a conversation with the tallest women at the party. One looks Scandinavian, and one looks German. I mention this to them.
“Hah! One laughs. I’m Swedish.” She says. “I’m German.” The other replies.
We talk for a few minutes about their amazing athletic abilities. (The swede did decathalon, long jump, high jump, 200M ,800M and deep sea shark hunting). The German did shotput, discus and javelin. (I guessed discus correctly).
Then the German speaks about one year of celibacy, and its implications as it relates to meeting people for “who they are.” I smile as she says this. “I wanted to know how it felt you know? To just not experience that for a year.”
I laugh, and say.”Most people know that feels for a good ten, fifteen years. I think they are too aware of celibacy.”
“Ten? Try twenty!” The Swede says with a laugh.
Ash is now in blue mode, and is dancing amongst friends, laughing and taking pictures. I wear the wig for a few minutes.
I go to the kitchen, and talk to two girls wearing black trucker hats. “What do your hats say?” I ask, squinting to read the writing on them. “Hah! You though it was Japanese didn’t you?” one of the girls says.
In fact, I didn’t think that, because I can read some Japanese. I was thinking it was some kind of Arabic language (and in my defense, the girls both had that “dark-ish” look. Long black hair, sharp dark brown eyes. Which means they could have Persian ancestry or just be from Manhattan.)
“It’s a hat our friend made. Its actually in English.” She points out what it says, and it becomes as clear as day. “ohhh….” I say. Then I look down, and see that she is wearing YELLOW PANTS.
“I said I’d get some yellow pants tonight.” I say seriously. “You have what I want.”
She swaps pants with me, and we snap pictures with her friend, who also has the pants on. Technically, they are little boy shorts, but I rather refer to them as pants.
I parade around in the pants for a while, and smile broadly. Ash comes over, she rubs her small hands across the small of my back. “I see you got your yellow pants.” She said. “Yes I’m a happy camper!” I reply.
I spend the next few minutes taking pictures of all the other emasculated men, including those I’ve named the White Russian, the Green Giant, Robinson Hood and the Black Tight. Outside where the keg is, people are huddled around a grill, talking about nothing in particular. I snap a few more pictures and go back inside.
The girls in the trucker hats are heading out, and I return the yellow pants. The party is beginning to thin out, and everyone is heading to wonderland. I feel a twinge of regret as I head out with Ash and Mr. T to wonderland. I was hoping I could wear my yellow pants there.

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Hello DC: NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE…   4 comments

People always ask a person who’s almost died, “What were you thinking about just before the moment happened?” With a small level of certainty, I can (sort of but not really) answer this question.

 
Sometimes when I go to Adams Morgan, my mind runs on my ex-girlfriend, who lives in the area. Last night was a particularly boring affair, with me hopping from bar to bar and talking to no one. Like most nights when I’m in Adams Morgan, I take the bus home. When my cell phone displayed the magic time of 1:30, I decide to leave.

 
Strangely, the street is blocked off on one side, allowing traffic to leave the 18th street strip, but not come into it. I watch a bus rumble by slowly, and wonder if it is ever going to come back. I pace around for a few moments, watching people float by in various states of inebriation. An older African-American lady is sitting at the bus stop, with a small plastic bag in her hand. A few feet in front of her, with her arms folded is a tough-looking Caucasian woman. The tough-looking lady is standing and the other woman is sitting down. I lean against a part of the support structure of the bus stop.
So far I’ve been distracting myself by watching people, but for a quick second, I wonder what my ex-girlfriend is doing. Is she sleeping blissfully? Warm in someone’s arms? Or not even home? This thought passed through my head for a fleeting moment, then…

Shots rang out.

There were four or five shots. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! This was no more than ten feet from where I was standing. In that area, people scattered like cockroaches in a room when the light comes on. A few people, not sure what to do, simply stood up, like deer caught in the headlights. Some immediately hit the deck, and others streaked across the now empty street. Strangely, I didn’t move. I was leaning on the post, sort of looking straight up at nothing when I hear the first shot. Then I looked beside me and saw the clamor of activity. Most likely someone had been shot. The noises sounded dull and directed. Somewhere, only a few feet away, a person was probably dead. Only moments before, I had almost walked right there out of sheer idleness.

 
I jogged a few feet away from the bus stop to Columbia road, near the ATM. That was probably a bad idea, because that’s where the noise came from. The gun-toting maniacs were probably running to Columbia Road as well, where the melee might continue.

A few dark bodies fled from the alley, and it seemed that every officer was now brandishing their weapons. A few officers fly out of the alleyway and run down a dark street, holding their guns. As I looked around, an odd quiet hit the air.

People who are genuinely frightened don’t lament or weep. They stand in shock, wondering what just happened, realizing their mortality. One wrong move and a stray bullet could end your life, or severely injure you. The cops looked edgy.

A person running a little too frantically was liable to be chased, and probably beaten I presumed. While observing all of this, I realized that I was the only person standing up (along with the police officer). Everyone else was hiding behind a wall, or lying on the ground. Even this guy I had jogged past, (he was at the second bus stop that faced Columbia Road holding his bike) was crouching on the ground, looking around warily.

The officer looked at me with indifference. I was standing there with my hands in my pockets, surveying the area. The shots didn’t frighten me. A part of me “felt” as if I should be frightened, but the trembling chaos didn’t enter me. I just think I’m one of those people that doesn’t frighten easily.

Once in Jamaica, I was almost hit in a head on collision by a SUV twice the size of my vehicle. It was driving directly towards me with no headlights on. The SUV hopped over an island in the road, and it was only 50/50 that I chose to swerve right and the vehicle went left. Shortly after, a police car came blaring down the road, chasing the vehicle. I didn’t feel frightened at that point either, but seconds after the cars disappeared, my left leg began trembling violently. I was afraid in some way, I just didn’t feel it immediately.

Tonight, or last night was different. I realized that should a shootout happen, a stray bullet could hit me, but that eventuality didn’t make much sense to me. Though I was near the epicenter of the event, and only feet away from where the shooting started, I was standing near all the police cars and heavily armed officers.

After a moment, I walked towards the crosswalk that leads to the McDonalds on the other side of the street. The African-American woman from before was lying on the ground with two young Caucasian women. She was crying from sheer fright. She was inconsolable. I don’t blame her. If I was ten feet away, she was no less than five feet. The two girls held her hand.

“It’s okay. They weren’t trying to shoot you.” The girls said.
One of them, a blonde with tear filled eyes kept looking on me. I recognized her, but I didn’t know from where. They told the lady she would be all right. I couldn’t hear exactly what the woman was saying, but it seemed she thought they were shooting at her, and she was also worried about how she would get home. The two girls said they would pay for a cab so that she could reach home.
I was standing there, watching them with my arms folded. They were crying and seriously frightened, and it must have seemed odd for me to be standing there so stoically. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and wonder why I wasn’t frightened, and why the tear filled eyes of those three women on the ground didn’t move me to even say anything.

I wanted to say “The worst is over.” And touch the woman’s shoulder, and reassure the girls that they were safe because the police were right behind them, as were the police cars. But I didn’t say anything. I watched them in their humanity, consoling each other in the way that people do in a time of crisis.

 
I felt a piercing vulnerability at that point. I sensed that if I had been walking by there (as I almost did) or if I had been idly traipsing around, I could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad luck, bad timing. It seems fit that minutes before this event happened, I ran into someone I knew and followed that person to a bar for a few minutes. If I didn’t, who knows?

 

The girls still haven’t gotten up. They are freaked out and scared half to death, and are still lying awkwardly on the ground. The older lady is still moaning and wiping her eyes.
For a fleeting moment I get a powerful urge to call my ex-girlfriend. For some reason, some aspect of the event made me think of going over to her place to take refuge. She was only a few blocks away I thought, and I’ll be safe there. I wanted to say to her, “Wow, can you believe that I was standing right by a place where some shots rang out?” A part of me saw myself going over there, standing by her door as she rushes out in the hallway and gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, thankful that I am alive and well.

But then I realized what I was thinking just before this all happened. I was wondering if she was sleeping blissfully, if she was in the arms of someone else, or even home at all. It dawned on me there was no reason to call her, and there was also no place for me to go but my apartment.
Maybe the event didn’t frighten me in a way that made me run for dear life, or hide on the ground, quivering like a small animal, but for a second it took me back to a point in my life, when I felt I had a retreat, a safe haven from the world, in the arms of someone else. Maybe that’s the real scary part of the entire thing, the fact that I completely forgot that I was no longer with her and we no longer spoke, but hearing a few shots echo in my ears, and sensing my mortality, I felt a desire to see her and speak to her that seemed instinctive, dredged up from the recesses of my being that blasted me face-first back into the past.

In these situations, it is a great thing to reassure yourself that you exist by receiving loving words from someone else. A hug from a friend, a sigh of relief over a phone call, or a naturally heartfelt embrace, like the one shared by the three ladies lying on the ground. My desire to speak with my ex most likely represented my instinctive feeling to remind myself that I exist, and that I didn’t have to travel home alone to deal with the situation. Or maybe I just wanted someone to share the event with. Who knows.

I took one last look at the three ladies lying on the ground, and crossed the street. I hailed a cab and hopped in. “What happened around here?” the driver said. “Some shots rang out.” I replied.
“Really?” he said with an incredulous smile. “Yes, really.” I said.
“Where was it?” he asked. “

“Right by the bus stop. It was like five shots.” I said.

“Wow!” he said almost with too much excitement.

“Yeah, I was right there. “ I said, almost not even believing those words.
I told him where I lived and quietly watched the dark buildings go by in a blur as the cab drove to my apartment. I wondered again about that flash of desire to call my ex, and why it seemed so instinctive. As the darkness of the city loomed at me from the windows of the cab, I knew I didn’t really have a safe haven. All I had was my own thoughts to console me, and the emptiness of my bedroom. I thanked the cab driver, tipped him and went inside, immediately greeted by the darkness of my apartment.

 

****

Make it so Numba One [monk’s Abbey]   Leave a comment

I’ve been searching for inspiration lately, and no I didn’t find it in the face of a beautiful woman.

I’ve been floating in between that head space most artistic people reach at some point in their lives. In inevitable top o’ the mountain. We hear the sonorous voice that could be any number of black actors ask us that question: “What are you doing?”

(if aforementioned sonorous voice said “What is real?” then it would be Laurence Fishburne. He was also Mr. deep voice in Fantastic Four two. Betcha didn’t know that!)

My only achievement this week was completely frightening a cute girl in a bookstore named Abby. There she was, walking around with a cute yellow bag, looking for books. There I was, looking for a new book to read with a great excuse to say hello. I’ll scratch the details, but the conversation ended with me asking for her opinion on something. Not her number.

She reminded me that this city is a place for artists. She’s the third girl i’ve met who works in an art gallery, but the first who actually looks like a piece of art. She reminded me of a little porcelain doll. The kind that have organs, and studied Art History in North Carolina. Yes, I frightened her, with my high-energy Jamaican wit and obvious comfort with myself. That ladies and single reader of this blog, is the most frightening thing to a woman, the idea that a man is comfortable with himself. Especially if he isn’t forty-something and flush with mutual funds and crazy levels of disposable income.

Frightening miss A didn’t bother me that much. I was actually glad I frightened her in some ways. I was glad that I came off a little too happy, too endearing, because the truth is I haven’t felt like that in days. I was experience what my friends and i like to call “frownzing”.

Frownsing: (adj. frown-zing) the act of, or activities related to frowning. Contemplating life, being generally jaded, or driven to watch porn. Facilitates lower states of energy, higher solitary presence at movie theatres and the Taco Bell line. Watching Sex and the City.

So not only was I happy to have met a cutie like Abby, I was happy to scare her away. It justified in my mind that my reality was doing the right thing. I was projecting an air of confidence I didn’t have, even if the cute girl who works at the art gallery MIGHT have given me her number if i had just turned down the man-juice a notch.

Randomly, but not coincidentally, after I left the book store carefully protecting my copy of Lost World, I leaned against a wall and started talking to my friend on the phone. We were talking about the usual madness. Women, success, money, not having either of the three, you know the deal. At some point, Abby walked past–wearing a black shawl or something–but it was her. I saw her look at me, then look forward.

I made no attempt to say hello, or “de-man-ize” myself by saying. “Hey Abby!”. I could just as easily do that by shouting “Hey Abbot!” for no reason, and i’d draw more stares. Abby walked off into the distance, reasonably tall and attractive, gone to probably manically paint in some studio apartment somewhere. Then I turned around and resumed my conversation.

The abbey thing reminds me of something. One of the key features of New York is women, women women. In fact this phenomenon can become a little bit annoying. Not the fact that the city is filled with beauties, but the fact that they walk so bloody fast. By the time you stop a girl to say hello, she’s half a block away. Its that bad.

In the last few days, I’ve been sharing my apartment with super-author Michael Crichton. He’s been in my bed, on my floor and once or twice in my bathroom. I’ve been reading a few of his books. I just read Next and Jurassic Park, and I grabbed Lost World yesterday. I’m not sure if I’m the laziest book reader ever–I don’t like searching through books hoping i don’t find a lemon–or if I’m just in a dinosaur/genetics mode right now. Either way, I need to feed my mind so I can start up my writing process. I need to kick start myself like an aging guitarist needs coke before a show. I need that high.

I think six to eight good books should get me writing again. Earlier this year, I read about fifteen or twenty books in the month of January, and not only did I write some of my most interesting blogs, but I was writing constantly. Ideas came from the depth of my insides, and spilled onto my keyboard into MS word and on dozens of tiny scraps of paper. I need that again. Time to contribute to the creative commons. I can “frownz” later

On a side note, this “scary” side of myself is pretty humorous. I went to a bar on Monday night and some girl started talking to me. A few minutes later the shortest Asian guy i’ve ever seen pats me on the back and tries to tell me to lay off the chick. (I didn’t even know her name). I didn’t find the event funny until two days later, when I remember some random dude asking me about his Russian friend who was visiting town. “You can see where i’m going with this right?” he says to me. It was hilarious. Not only was he cock-blocking me from a girl who’s name I didn’t know. But he was also being semi-threating about this girl, who spoke to ME and whom I didn’t even remember.

.Maybe I really am scary

.Maybe I walk into places and people wonder who the f*ck is this maverick come to steal and impregnate our women! On Karaoke night nonetheless.

I wish.

Cheers to better days and less cock-blocking from dudes.

New York: sOmetiMesIJustWanNaRaNT   Leave a comment

SometimesIjustWannaRant

I just noticed something funny about Megatron.
In the recent hit movie “Transformers” there is a scene where Megatron says to Disney-uber star Shia LeBouff, “Run boy!”. I had issues with this. I think he should have said, “Run fleshy man-thing!” or he should have screeched in Deceptagarble, truly making those around him quake in fear.
Either way, I haven’t been writing much lately. This makes sense to me. For the last seven weeks I have been going non-stop. Trip to France, Berlin, and now the ultimate destination: New York.
As a writer, there are the inevitable conflicts which arise in these situations.
Do I (a) go out every night in the city that never sleeps, chasing tall, blonde women for pure sport? Or do I (b) get inundated in the daytime park scene that usually leads to meeting tall, blonde women? Or do I (c) become a true New York ‘artist’, and make a splash on the underground scene in such a way that it will eventually attract droves of tall, blonde women? As you can see, in New York, there is no escape from the TBW’s!

So far, that’s my main observation. There is tall EVERYBODY here. Tall Asian women, tall blonde women seemingly from the highlands of some Eastern-European formerly-soviet-something country, tall guys, tall buildings, tall cups of coffee. It is all here.
I like the buzz—that feeling of never sleeping and existing in a twilight state. I felt this way last night. My last memories are of talking to my cousin late at night about purpose in life, while trying to decide if I should go out or not as hot brunettes kept walking past. (they were Oh-Soooooo fashionable). But, when I woke up this morning, I felt like I was in a different place. I half expected a little garden gnome to be sitting on my bed, and then a voice from that other place would be like, “Let’s go Buddy.”

I’d say, “Wait, where are we going? I need to go to work.” The gnome would be like. “Fuck work, let’s partaaaay!”. Then the gnome and I would head to numerous strip clubs, go on a shopping spree, buy his and his g-strings for our debut at the “oldies night” in a shady part of the East Village and then end up on a boat to China, singing praises to the two Ukranian women who decided to tag along(they don’t’ speak any English of course) and I would play guitar all the way to….

Beijing, where angry protestors would think I was somehow connected to the torch runners and eviscerate me in some Chinese back alley and then issue an apology the next day because they thought my guitar was a torch…. Or a harp. I think harps are banned in China too.

I’m ranting. On purpose.

.
I’m still reeling from the fallout of a “sort of “ heartbreak-but-not-really situation. My creative insides are spinning all around as I think of relationships of the past and I look towards the future. New York may have millions of nubile women, (and those who really like messing around in public places) but sometimes, standing betwixt people on the train to work, or just walking through a massive crowd on a Friday at Union Square, I float away and then it’s just me… and her.

Who is she?

Maybe she’s that person I’ve always wanted. Or maybe it’s a version of myself that’s a woman, I dunno. But there she is, standing there, tall and regal, smiling at me. Her eyes tell me that she loves me, and her body responds with touches, kisses and dirty feels. She is mine and I am hers. Then the image ripples and fades, and the real world returns. I’m standing in the middle of a crowd that I don’t’ know. Faces of all hues and compositions walk past, and there, I am truly alone.
That’s when the Gnome appears again, and we raid a Borders book store and argue with women wearing tattoos about the “destruction of the female temple” or some junk.
At this point the gnome would say, “Let’s hit up a strip club.” Then I’d say “No, we have to end this relationship. Its not healthy.” The gnome would then say, “Wow. I really thought we had something here. All those moments shopping, stripping and us in the g-strings getting grabbed by those senile old women who think we were theie boyfriends from the 1930’s. Those moments meant something to me.”
The gnome would want to cry but he couldn’t, simply because he’s a figment of my imagination. I’d go back to reading my books about global warming and start worrying about having a family that will eventually burn—not in God’s hellfire—but man’s sunfire.

.
Then I wake up, and my rant is blissfully over. I go to the kitchen and make tasteless eggs and eat them with equally tasteless bread. I look to the sky when I walk outside and say, “today, will be a good day.”

Then I stub my toe on a hydrant and shout. “ Ooooohhh fuckkk!!!”

.
Happy Camping.

New York: Damn, they have doggy Gyms here   1 comment

Two doorstops away from me, is a doggy gym.

This is officially the life that I am living. I’m in the middle of Manhattan, where the median income is a bazillion dollars, and everyone has their own personal driver, Cartier dining set and of course, a talking Gorilla. Welcome to the land of the wealthy, or at least the area of the wealthy. If I wasn’t fortunate to be set up in my digs rent free, I’d be living much farther than a stones throw away from where I work. In fact, most of the people I speak to where I work don’t live in Manhattan. I guess that’s reserved for people with the title “Vice President of…” but even so, they might not have a talking Gorilla.
I’m approaching my fifth day in New York, and I’ve made a critical error…
I WENT SHOPPING!
“Oh the horror.” I said to myself, looking at my shiny, really cheap blazer. “I’ve done it, I’ve broken the deal.” I say this because I planned to be really conservative during my time here. No t-shirts, no new shoes, nothing I think I don’t need. I’ve become a frugal man over the years… my biggest expense in the last two years (other than spending thousands on a trip to Europe) was my Ipod Touch, which I really and truly thought was a way to have wireless e-mail on the go. Unfortunately, the wireless generation are all internet savvy. The first thing people seem to do as they setup their internet connections is to completely secure it. Sure, my Ipod will pickup the 30 or so networks around me, but none are EVER free. If they are, I kid you not, its slower than my old 14400 baud modem that used to screech like a banshee having sex whenever I tried to connect to the internet.
So yes, I bought something. It wasn’t something I really needed, nor something I really desired. What I actually need is a sweater. The office where I work gets cold, and with a vending machine full of 25 cent sodas (yes I said 25 cents ) I can drink all the Ginger Ale I want. Naturally this soda is chilly, so after two ( I haven’t passed two in a day yet) I start to feel quite bristling. I like the word ‘bristling’…. I’m going to try and popularize it.
So yes, I went shopping, but I didn’t go ape-crazy and start frothing at the mouth looking for good deals. I reasoned to myself the blazer is cheap, fits and is highly wearable. If someone left me to my own devices I would wear either a plain black, brown or dark blue shirt every day of the week, with some nice designer jeans. I’m not picky. Me dressing up is me wearing a black, brown, or dark blue shirt with artsy, glittery designs on the front. It’s a huge step up.
Back to the doggy gym. I actually haven’t look inside, and I didn’t let the words “Doggy Gym” register in my mind. I really took note when a man walking past me looked at the sign, then me, then back to the sign, then me again, then smiled, stopped and looked inside. Apparently, it’s a place where the elites leave their little poodles and shitzus to run around idly while they work on wall street. I doubt I’ll be checking it out.

I like the energy here so far. I think its starting to grow on me. I know on almost any given night, I can find something to catch my attention for a few hours. The weekends must be insane here. I can’t even imagine what the fourth of July is going to be like. Now if I could find a meal that’s under 7 dollars in this area, I might be in business.
Also, I feel pretty short in New York. Surprisingly I didn’t feel as short in Germany (for reasons I can’t explain, since most of the guys I met were taller than me ) but here I think it’s the buildings. They are so tightly packed beside one another and so high that maybe my perspective is skewed. Also there are many, many tall women here. In my shoes I’m supposed to be around 6’2 and many people I walk past are taller than me. I remember people saying that when people are your height they seem just a little taller than you. Am I then, a tall-seeming person? Who knows.
As I write this, I’m supposed to be preparing to head out to the lower East side, which apparently, is a good spot on Thursday nights. I also hear its artistic, a tad cheaper on the side of drinks, and as one friend described, “the girls free up”. That’s a Jamaican term ladies and gentlemen, which I’m sure you can figure out the mean ing based on context.
If I don’t head out, I might just sleep. Last night I had not desire to go anywhere, or even eat for that matter. After spending nearly 20 dollars on three cans of tuna, two packs of spaghetti and a jar of tomato sauce, I’d had enough of New York for that day. I went to sleep at 7 and woke up at 4:25 a.m. Then I slept again until 8:45. Thanks a lot New York prices!
I wrote a long, petulant blog the other night about a situation I recently experienced with an ex-girlfriend of mine, but I couldn’t bother to post it. Maybe one day, but not now. I can’t bother to project those feelings into the universe. Better to chat about my little shenanigans in New York than to dissect the platitudes of losing love.
So here’s to the First Thursday in New York! * feeble shout *

Germany day 4: The Czech Republics, beaches and underground clubs   Leave a comment

 

Its Sunday afternoon. I just woke up with my head in my hands. I’m fully dressed, in my outfit from the night before. I hear room door open, and my roommate walks in and starts using his computer.

 

I vaguely remember a moment a few hours before.  I—

Burst into the room, obviously drunk and I struggle to take  off my shoes. My roommate, a Japanese dude named Yoshi, asks the obvious question: “Are you allright?” he says. “I’m fine.” I reply, then I flop into bed. A few seconds after hopping into bed, I feel like my head is spinning and I run to the bathroom. Yes, Berlin was that good.

This blog is in two parts: Day and Night.

DAY

For me, the day was somewhat introspective. A friend of mine was in Berlin for a few hours and I hung out with her. We shared a meal at a Vietnamese place near Weinmeisterstralle and chit-chatted about life. We traveled on the train a bit, took some pictures and talked about humanity and monogamy. She explained to me that her brother had been recently cheated on by his girlfriend of three years, and he was a mess. I said “damn,” to myself when I hear that, but that’s life. Who can really trust anyone?

Either way, after I said my goodbyes to her I hung out in Alexanderplatz for a little while. The best way to describe the place:

The area is the size of a stadium with no stadium. For a stretch of roughly half a mile, is nothing but pavement. Two massive buildings are on this concrete tundra, and people look like ants as they walk to and fro. It is almost like staring at infinity, or God’s empty paddling pool, its that big.

 

Yeah… so I was sitting there for a while just thinking about my life. Here I am in Berlin, sitting by myself. I’ve achieved a great goal by coming here, and I feel happy to be here, but my mind runs on many other things.  Occasionally, I think about my ex-girlfriend and wonder what she’s doing. I wonder if she’s sleeping alone, or with someone,  or taking a shower in the middle of a summer morning. I want to talk to her, but I’ve been afraid to call her lately. I don’t like feeling needy. I need to disconnect a bit. A statement I came up with for a book I’m working on has become a theme for me of late, especially since I’ve been traveling. This was supposed to be a statement in  a movie or something…. But basically two people are talking, and one person says. “You don’t know what love is like.” And one says,” Love can eat you, and love can sting you, but you’ll never know how small the world is until you are in love.”

This statement hit me profoundly (even though I came up with it). You can travel thousands of miles away from someone, but all you need is a thought to put them right beside you.

I didn’t mention it in my blogs when I was in France, but one night was really bad for me. A few years ago one of my best friends died, and  it has  affected me to this day. When I was in France, one on night in particular, I remember a conversation we had. “We are going to Japan.” He said, “We’ll travel, we’ll do it.” We had made plans to go to Europe as well, traveling, having fun sight seeing and living it up. That will never happen. I don’t know why that night in France that realization hi me so hard. In the middle of everything I was doing I started to feel like I was losing it—I wanted to network, to get into parties and have fun, but all I could think about was my friend.

Now I’m in Berlin, one of the places we might have traveled to. I don’t feel bad today, (not in the way I did in France) but sitting in this massive, expansive place can make a person think about things.

Sometimes I want to just forget everything I left behind. My past, my old apartment in DC, my past thoughts and memories. I didn’t’ really want to travel thousands of miles to sit and think about things I can’t change. I guess this is the real spice of life, sitting in a foreign country thinking about all things Marcus.

I also think about my family. I wonder what they are doing, how things are in Jamaica, and if they have any idea what I’m doing in Germany. I think of the future, a possible family of my own… and the next step for in my life. I think on these things for a while, then, I realize I need a drink. Fast.

 

NIGHT

I’m at the beach, in the middle of Berlin.

I’m near Freidrickstralle, an area that reminds me of bad b-movies with great art direction. I’m meeting up with the English girl I met the day before, and some of her friends.  On my way to meet them, I waited at the wrong street for a while. I saw a Pub Crawl taking place. Seeing all those tourists walking to a bar was like watching a 2008 American pilgrimage.  I’m sitting on my bike sipping a beer—I still havent’ realized I’m in the wrong place yet—and I talk to a few fellow standing by the road. When they hear I’m from Jamaica, they seem to be in shock. “Dude, why are you in Berlin?” they say. I try to answer this question when another guy comes up and he also asks me the same question. Why are you in Berlin?

Eventually, I meet up with the guys. They suggest we go to this place called “The Beach”.

This place is like a dream, I’m serious. A huge shadowy building is in front, and almost all of its surface is covered in graffiti, in the shadwos and in the lights, are people, walking through sand, yes, sand and sitting on benches, under tents, drinking and laughing.

What’s dream like about the place is that (a) we have this huge old German building creating the perfect spooky grunge backdrop. (b) we have sand in the middle of a big city, plus trees and beach chairs (c) graffiti makes the area seem dangerous, but its all very chill.

I half expect to see a six foot seven German man in a leather jacket covered with trinkets point to me and then I get tossed out by a few smaller but equally swarthy cronies on the street. I would lay on the ground for a moment gathering my senses when a huge boot would kick me in the ribs and someone would shout in a BAD accent, “Go back to zer Amerika!”

Of course that didn’t happen.  At this point I’m starting to feel a good buzz since I was pre-gaming (alone…sad I know) earlier. Liquid confidence gives me the balls to approach random German people, which I’ve found isn’t a pleasant experience. Germans seem friendly during the day, but at night it’s a whole different story. I see two Slovak looking ladies sitting down and I say my one liner:

“Halo, vie geht es inen?” (Hi, how are you?)

The give me a look that makes me feel like a wisp of grass that accidentally landed on the table. I say “whatever” and find my group. Vanessa is with her long time high school friend Rich and they seem to be getting very chummy. I get a few signals that I’m not supposed to be there when she keeps asking me which girls I want to talk to.

I’m not worried… this is Germany baby! I head over to a small bar where there is  a large group of VERY blonde women. I BS and get a drink and initiate some conversation with two of them. They are from the Czech republic! They speak perfect English. It turns out they are on a class trip to Berlin and they will be here until Monday. I met a Monica, Martina, Elle and someone else. They were all tall, pale and almost platinum blonde. “We are from Prague.” Martina said.  I want to go to Prague now.

I joke around with the ladies for a little while and get a few nasty looks from some of the Czech fellows sitting nearby. I dub the ladies, “The Czech Republics”.

After I chat with the ladies for a while I go back to Vanessa and crew. Massive, the Italian with an Aussie accent is part of the group now. He recommends buying drinks at a corner shop outside to save cash. I agree and follow him. A bottle of Beck’s twice the size of the one I bought in the company of the Czech girls for 3 euros is 1.50 at the stand. I talk to Massive for a few moments about German girls. He too agrees they are kind of hard to meet, but once you get in, oh boy!

At this point I’m probably drunk. I can’t tell for certain, but I started doing some crazy things. I get annoyed with Vanessa for a reason I can’t remember and spend the next hour in the company of the Czech Republics. Unfortunately, I met the teacher of the students (Monica) and breaking in to that group seems like a very shady exercise. The girls were 18 and 19 respectively. Plus massive German guys swarmed around, full of that “I am very tall and very strong” swagger.

I give up on the Czech Republics and head outside for another beer. This time I’m walking alone. The street is buzzing with life. I get a different beer, this one is a Berliner. The lady working the stand looks like a seasoned participant in life. She is in her late forties to early fifties, heavy set with red patches from overexposure to the sun and a hard face. She cracks it open. “Danke.” I say.

I’m walking back to The Beach and I see a tall attractive girl eating some pizza. I make conversation and she tells me about a club she’s going to.  “You should come.” She says.  A fellow pops up, a shorter guy (shorter than me, meaning VERY short by German standards) and this is Benny. At some point I whisper to the girl (who’s name is Marie) and ask her if Benny is her boyfriend. She laughs, a cute, twinkling German laugh. “He is too little!” she says, pointing at him. Benny hears the statement and smirks. Another guy comes along, also shorter than me. He is Yohan. Yohan gives me some vodka to sip on.

The adventure begins.

We take a turn off the main road, Oranienburgerstralle and go up a dark, quiet street. I’m definitely drunk now, and just going along for the ride. I learn that Marie spent one year in London, which explains her good English. She said she just finished school… high school! She’s 19. The group stops at gate that looks like it was stolen from the Bram Stoker’s Dracula prop set.  Two men in black jackets speak in hushed tones to Yohan and Benny. They check their IDs and wave us in. I’m looking for my ID, but I realize I left it back at the hotel. The bouncer waves me in. I follow the group through a very dark parking lot and we enter what looks like an apartment building. After walking up a small flight of stairs, I can hear the music pounding through the walls. House music!

I ask Marie how much is the entrance fee. “Its about six euros.” She says. I nod after she says this, and I turn to the bouncer. “Halo my friend!” I say with a big smile. He is short, but very muscular. “Mi name ist Marcus, from Jamaica, first time in Berlin!” I say. “Thomas.” He says, shaking my hand. “I am happy to be here!” I say with more energy. Then I turn back to the group. The guys paid, and I look at Thomas and he waves me in. Free entrance baby!

 

Two things happen at this point. First, I feel amazed. I’m in a real German club now. There were no tourists in this place. The interior of this building resembled a mini cathedral. There were several dance floors all packed with people. The air was hot and wet.

 

The second thing that happens is I lose the group. I was following Marie around for a few minutes, then she disappeared. After that, I was on my own. I think, and I emphasize, think  I bought another drink at this point but I can’t be sure. I vaguely remember having a conversation with a German guy who happily proclaimed he was 197 cm tall (probably like 6’6). The music was good, but I couldn’t really dance. I was people watching. I was inside, but I felt exposed. I’m this drunk Jamaican guy running around with a polo shirt with a tie on! This is where the night gets blurry.

So I lost the group and listened to some underground music for a while. I don’t think I attempted to talk to anyone seriously. I said hello to a few girls, but I needed some air. All the beer and Vodka was getting to me now.

I’m directed to an exit that puts me on a street I don’t know. The sky is a purplish-blue. Damn, its almost daybreak. I’m not walking straight and I’m lost in the middle of Berlin! I curse a little and stop almost everyone that walks past me:

“Ver is der Frederickstrasse?” I say. (Where is Frederick street?)

People point me in the right direction, but I walk around in a daze for a good twenty minute before I find “The beach” again. I go inside but everyone is gone. No Czech Republics, no English crew. I unlock my bike from the entrance of the beach and start riding home. I don’t know why, but I’m hit with an overwhelming desire to call my ex-girlfriend. For that moment, her voice was the only thing I wanted to hear. I think that desire saved me.

I could barely ride the bike straight and I had about a three mile stretch from where I was to my hotel. This mind you, is through winding roads and streets, between underpasses, ten lane roads, and over routes where these large (and deathly quiet) tram cars drive. Dangerous.

I fuel myself with thoughts of my ex, and this keeps me semi-sober for a while. Twice, I crash the bike. The first time, I almost rode into a wall and a did a poor braking exercise. The second time I had a full wipeout about two hundred feet from my hotel. Even though the sun is starting to rise, it’s still very dark. To get to my hotel I had to navigate through a narrow path filled with lots of trees and hedges. I was doing a good job. “yes, I’m almost there!” I said gleefully. In moments I would be inside my room, on Skype talking to the one person whose voice I wanted to hear. Then, I lost my equilibrium.

My front tire hit a hedge and the bike shifted into the hedge. I braked up, but badly and I fell to the ground. Now I’m on my back and the world is spinning. I try to get up but I can’t, I’m too wasted. I laugh.

“I’m in Germany!” I say to myself with a weak chuckle. I lay there for a minute or so, catching my breath. I think of calling my ex again, and I find a second wind. I get up and finish the ride to the hotel. I lock the bike outside and walk to my room. All I want to do is sleep, but somehow I take my laptop from its case and open it up. (The next morning I would see the laptop on the kitchen table and wonder how it got there). I call my ex but I’m not successful. She doesn’t answer the phone.

At this point the blog begins.

I flop into bed fully dressed hoping to sleep. The Berliner and Becks I drank don’t want to stay inside me, so I run to the bathroom. I go into the room and fall asleep immediately.

Wicked night.

 

Germany: Day 3 Yes, Germans are tall people   3 comments

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I can check a goal off my life list.

 

Last night I partied in a few German clubs, and danced to house music. I must have be sixteen when I first thought of doing this, so i’m happy to say that i’ve been able to achieve this goal… a measley ten years later.

I participated in something called a “Pub Crawl”, which essentially gives you access to a lot of clubs, and bars for the price tag of 12 euros. A person who lives in the city (with nothing to do on a Friday night apparently) takes dozens of tourists looking to “see Berlin” on a hit-parade of popular bars and clubs. I took this experience with a grain of salt. The crawl gives you access to people to talk to and places to go, but I was a little annoyed with the usual antics of the Americans and Canadians I was hanging with.

No offense to Americans, but there have been two nights that I raised my eyebrow since i’ve been in Europe. The first was in France, when I went to an Irish bar for about an hour and felt like I was in Washington D.C again, and promptly left. The second was last night (or this morning if you are being technical). The nature of “American culture” is fascinating. Any large group of Americans has a lot of hooting and hollering and people trying to get VERY VERY drunk. Also 99% of the crowd was wearing plain t-shirts and shorts. I was the most dressed up person in a crowd of at least 60.

That aside, it wasn’t that bad. After all, I don’t hate Americans, and I live in the country! haha.

Some cool moments were dancing to minimalist music in a place called “Rudubar” this is near some street called “Brugerstalle” (Burgerstra-see). Our guides walked with back packs full of alcohol and gave it to us after every bar stop. So I bought drinks at pretty much every bar, then had shots after each bar… needless to say, I got a little drunk. 

I’m staying by this hostel near a train station called Johannowitzburke, and I brought my bike I rented the whole way. IT was another character in the night, me and my bike. Lots of fun.I met a lot of girls but most of them were traveling in pairs, large groups, or leaving the next day. 

Boo!

All in all it was a good experience. I had trouble talking to German girls in the club. I actually got “the hand” from a girl who was dancing directly in front of me! I’ve never gotten “the hand” from a girl EVER. But this is Germany… I guess a little bit of coldness is expected. All I said was “halo.” 

The night ended at this place called “The Matrix” which is the first place i’ve seen with large, white bouncers. Forgive me, but every bar i’ve been to in the states has  massive black bouncers. This place had true German stock. When I was walking into the club, I started entering the wrong way. The bouncer barked at me in German and lightly (trust me, lightly) shoved me in the right direction. I floated to the side like a sheet of paper. I didn’t want to know what happened to people who pissed those bouncers off.

Inside was like any other club, except a lot of the people were tall and blonde. This I found strange, because walking around Germany I haven’t seen many “very” blonde people, but people are definitely taller here. Standing at 6’1 I’m not really at much of an advantage here. 

So… I think I had one more drink that place, danced on some pole with a few girls and then headed home. I was TIRED… I wasn’t sure if it was riding around all day on the bike, or some post-France lag that’s affecting me. In the club I didn’t even make an attempt to chat to any of the german girls. I couldnt’ bother. I had a nice shirt on, that said “I’D FCUK ME”, but for the entire night, the shirt seemed to amuse (and attract) more men than women. I didn’t care. I was in Germany baby!

 

At some point I grabbed my bike and took the train back to Johannowitzburke. I turned on the light and whizzed home. The dude staying in the bed beside me is from Japan, and i swear, I was speaking to him in perfect Japanese for a few minutes before I crashed and fell into dreamland. I don’t know why I speak better Japanese when i’m drunk, but it doesn’t matter. I drunk Skype dialed the girl of my dreams and left her a voice message. 

One day I will laugh and say, ” I drunk Skyped this chick once!” to which another drunk person will say, “Dude, you drunk Skyped someone? Awesome!” 

Here’s to Saturday night in Germany.

Cheers mate!

 

Cannes day 9   Leave a comment

Yes, I skipped day, six, seven and eight because I didn’t have any internet a the hotel and too much was happening to really document. This blog will summarize the most recent events. 

Day 9

 

I’m in my first party and I’m getting a taste of the life. I’m in a villa owned by a few Lebanese billionaires, staring at one of those hundred inch plasma screens that cost the price of three or four kidneys. (Maybe five kidneys).

I tagged along with a friend for a party celebrating the 24 Hour Cannes Film Festival competition. On the way to the party we tried to walk through the  Grande Hotel to get a shuttle heading up to the villa (aptly dubbed, “The Mint”) and we were stopped. My friend is a Cannephile, this being her third or fourth trip to the festival. As we walked through the hotel, a tall doorman said to me in a thick accent, “I’m sorry sir, I’m sorry, you can’t go through.”

These statements are now meaningless.

 

Since I’ve been in Cannes, I’ve become pretty ballsy. You have to be—getting in anywhere you have to walk like you own the place, know the bouncers and have all the women, even if you are sharing a hotel room with a couple of other people, and you live nowhere near the Croisette (the uber exclusive strip of shopping malls where the access to all the beach parties are).

I traipsed through the hotel like it was my own. I didn’t hear the doorman calling to me, and when he eventually did a light jog to the back door to stop us, I looked through him. It was weird, but it felt pretty cool in a strange way. It wasn’t a big deal, because we only walked a short way around the hotel to access the cars to the event. I am Cannes! haha.

The last few days have been literally a whirlwind. I didn’t really think I could do so many things in a day, but I really have.

I’ve directed a short film, which I’m pretty proud of. I’ve done a few shorts, but directing a short Film in France just felt different. Then I entered this film competition the Short Film Corner was hosting in association with a company called “Theauters.com”. I interfaced with this crazy artistic guy named Jesse who is a member of my program.

“I want to win this ten thousand dollars,” he said to me. I nodded. There’s nothing wrong with ten thousand dollars.  “But,” he says to me afterward. “You’ll have to be in a scene where you run through the street… in your underwear.”

I did a huge Scooby Doo.

Aruu?

I thought about it for a second. Either this guy was really crazy, or really inspired. The competition was shooting a three minute film with a tiny and very cheap “Flip Cam”. Each entrant gets a camera (which they can keep for themselves afterwards) and you just run with a story.

Our story is badass.

It is essentially a roundabout story of cheating. A guy (me), meets a French girl somewhere, I hookup with her and her boyfriend finds out. There are chase scenes, fights, some serious Cinema Verite’, a dream sequence and the money shot—me chasing after the French girl in my underwear. It was amazing doing the film, even though some aspects of it were a bit weird. More than once a bus filled with French passengers drove past, wondering who this tall black guy in his underwear was doing in the street at 1 a.m, standing next to a young woman at a bus stop while a guy points at us with a teeny tiny camera.

 

At some point during the night, I said to Jessy. “I’m not shy about standing in the street in my underwear. Its standing in the street in my underwear in a foreign country that make me a little nervous!”

 

All in all, it was fun. Not only did I end up in bed with a French girl (who we recruited mere hours before the shooting started), run through French streets in my underwear, scare a crowd half to death by being chased in realtime, but I did some real acting for the first time I can remember. There was a sequence where I screamed, I did creepy laughs, and we were doing so well we even drew a tiny crowd.

 

At some point a tiny Japanese man tagged along with us to help out with the shoot. At this point I headed to aforementioned party.

 

If my blog isn’t making perfect sense, its because I’m all over the place. I’ve been waking up at 9 and going to be at 3 or 4.am each day for the last week and a half, and I have no signs of slowing down. I’ve been networking like crazy, and I’ve gotten on my first “list” in Cannes! A cute English actress I met sent me a text saying she has me on a list somewhere. What it is and where, I have ZERO idea. But its cool to get some sort of hookup.

Before I end the blog, I jus thave to say that networking feels very natural for me. These parties are just people saying hello, people pitching themselves, and people having drinks. The party at the Mint was sponsored by Perfect Vodka. The two drinks of the night, were the Red Carpet, and the Perfect Pussy. “I’m not making this up.” At some point during the evening Alfonso Ribiero (a.ka. ‘Carlton’ from the French Prince of Belair) shows up. He orders two Pussies and two Vaginas.

Exact words.

After the party I finished the film and fell asleep in a friend’s room. The next day I would see footage on his FlipCam of me asleep on the bed. What will tonight bring? Who knows. There has been so much happening that I haven’t the time to document it all. I’ve been so busy trying to meet people I haven’t really been watching any movies, but today I snuck in a viewing of Everyone dies but me a Russian film about teenagers that makes you want to cry, or put your little sister in a safe FOREVER.

Cheers to a good night. More details tomorrow.

Bonne Nuit.

 

 

 

 

Cannes day 4: Iron Mike and Networking bliss   Leave a comment

(Note to my faithful readers.. I actually have an extra blog I wrote, but I messed up the order.. so I’m actually on day 5 of my Cannes blogging …but I can’t really go back and add the day before.. I apologize… but trust me, the information wasn’t juicy – Marcus )

 

Cannes day Four

 

I’m watching a series of red steps float on a massive screen in full 3d. To the backdrop of carefully crafted (and quite cinematic music) the steps eventually disappear, and a logo appears, the very distinctive logo of a Golden Palm, the symbol of the Cannes film festival.

I’m sitting in some pretty good seats, waiting for the premiere of a documentary that I accidentally went to see; Tyson. It is a new documentary on Mike Tyson’s life, narrated by the legend himself. I sit comfortably in my seat, wating for the movie to start, when a lithe Frenchman in a tuxedo comes on stage. He speaks rapidly, (I’m assuming he is talking about the director and the people who produced the film), then there is a lull in the crowd. Somewhere near the back, cameras flash rapidly and people stand up and gravitate to a shadowy section of the theatre. Standing there, barely visible and surrounded by bodyguards, is Mike Tyson himself. The years have been kind to the former heavy weight. His face looks the same but he looks at least fifty pounds heavier, a change artfully disguised by a large suit.

 

This is what you get at Cannes, a touch of the unexpected. An extra dose of things you didn’t think of even seeing. When I was sitting on the plane grumbling because my “breakfast” was a small collection of food that wouldn’t fill a shrew’s stomach, I had no idea I would be seeing Mike Tyson just a few days later. After the movie, I ran up to the stage to take some pictures of the man himself, as he humbly thanked everyone for coming out to see the film. As he exited the theatre, I stood nearby, directing two of my colleagues to snap him (with me in the frame) as he walked past. Both pictures were a bust. On my camera, I am a dark blur and Mike Tyson is nowhere to be seen. On my friends camera, Iron Mike is perfectly visible, but only my chin is in the frame.

 

Amazing.

 

Luckily, I took a picture of myself with Mike Tyson in the background when he was on stage, and we are both in the frame. Boo yah! The film was shown in one of the main theatres, The Debussy, which is good for laughs when you keep asking people:

“What’s the name of the theatre?”

 

Today the real action began. I’m in a position where I am forced to completely step out of my comfort zone. I’ve done this before—in social settings like bars, and sometimes the occasional school function. But this is something else. Each day there is a happy hour in the short film section of the Palais, and it’s a great place to network. As I walked in, with my plan of action fresh in my mind. I was surrounded by groups of people talking excitedly with one another. It was a buzz of French, German English, and several other languages. Everyone was pitching a film, talking about their short film in the festival, or trying to meet people for promotional purposes. It wasn’t chaos, but It wasn’t a walk in the park, even for a semi-socialite like myself. I see a blonde woman of medium height walking towards me, and I start some polite conversation. She’s a director from Australia, and this is her third time at Cannes.

“Are you going to any parties later tonight?” I ask.

“No, I’m tired of the party scene. “She says.

At this, I smirk. I haven’t been to one yet, but before the weekend is out, I’m sure I’ll have found my first Cannes party. We talk about her film for a little while, and we do small talk. She tells me about an Australian director who is coming to France the next day and doing a private screening of a film he directed. I’ll e-mail her and see if I can get an invite. My badge officially has me as a buyer of films, so I get more access than some of the regular patrons. I heard about this new Jean Claud Van Damme movie, but I have no idea how I’ll fandagle my way into that one.

 

After talking to Miss Australia, I mosy around, chit-chatting with a few people, but I’m really nervous. There are people from all over the globe here. People I’ve never interacted with. Everyone is pitching, everyone is busy. Everyone is  type-A. Me, I’m from an island that can fit into new York seven or eight times with dreams of being a screenwriter. I know I have the personality to mingle and schmooze, but sometimes breaking that first piece of ice can be really hard. I sit at a table for a moment and listen to a conversation between (who I think) are two more Aussies standing near the bar. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, because it helps you figure out who you can approach. If I hear people speaking French, I raise the red flag because I don’t speak French. If I hear English, at the very least I can walk up to them and say “Finally, a little of my own language in my day!”

I haven’t done that yet, because it really isnt’ that bad. I ran into some people after leaving the Short Film Corner waiting to watch Third Wave a cool Stephen Soderberg movie that is entered into the competition for Cannes. In the line, I talk my best Japanese with two Japanese nationals who are buyers for a small company called Shin Nippon films. They are looking for small art house films. I get a few cards, exchange some small talk and as we near the front of the line, find out that they won’t let people in who aren’t properly dressed. To show you how serious they were, a man with two women (who literally looked like Supermodels) were standing at the side of the line for a few minutes, but they weren’t let in either.

Welcome to Cannes baby.

Its at this point in time that we (myself and the people that were waiting in line for the movie) decide to get something to eat. We head into a little restaurant off the Rue de Antigues and I balk at the prices. Fourteen euros for a three course meal with names I can’t pronounce or translate. I pick out the word “vegetable” “cheese” and “fish”. But everything else is jibberish to me. I tell my friends to contact me on my phone if they can. I buy a disgustingly sweet Nutella crepes in a stand near the restaurant and make a sad attempt to run game on one of the attendants. It is impossible not to try after a while. Every ten feet are extremely attractive women. It is a phenomenon that I haven’t yet wrapped my head around. Today I saw about three packs of women who closely resembled Selma Hayek walking around. I’ve never seen this kind of thing, and I’m seriously not the kind of fellow who ogles women. But twice today, I’ve turned my head. (yes, yes, I know. )

I run into one of my restaurant mates (he left the restaurant as well after balking at the prices) and we do a little traipse. He laughs at a large cylindrical structure on the sidewalk. It is a bathroom that you pay a Euro to use.

I’ve observed a few interesting things thus far. Toilets don’t have flushing handles, they have little knobs on the top of the toilet you pull up vertically to flush. In our room the bathroom is separate from the toilet room (which makes hand washing interesting). There is the kissing thing, where men and women kiss each other when they greet. Thankfully I haven’t kissed anyone yet. All that cheek action creeps me out.

Back to reality.

My networking game has barely begun, but I’m already starting to feel the “Vibe” of the nightlife. You watch a cool movie, then you head out to some hotel lobbies or go with people to parties. Its talk, talk, talk. While I’m traipsing with my friend, I hear someone call to me. It’s a girl I haven’t seen in a few years I went to school with. (the world is really, REALLY small!). She seems to really know her way around Cannes, and that gives me hope. I haven’t really had any drinks yet, but here’s a cheers to the weekend and to going to my first party.

 

Salut!

Cannes day 3: Welcome to the real world   Leave a comment

Cannes day three.

 

 

I’m sitting somewhere in between the first floor of the main Palais, and the Riviera. These are sections of the massive Palais des Festival, which is where all the magic happens. To say Cannes is chaotic would be a lie, its more like a storm of chimps on red bull in suits trying to buy and sell films. Not that any of these people look like chimps, but the place is pretty wild.

I just left the Debussy theatre, one of many areas to screen films at Cannes. I watched Hunger, a tale of the hunger strike enacted by prison-bound activist Bobby Sands, in 1981. It took me a few minutes to realize I was actually watching a film at the Cannes Film Festival. There I was, sitting amidst the peers of the industry, taking in a film.

The way industry people take these films seriously, there was a cacophony of coughing as the film started, as people with small colds coughed out the last of their irritable viruses. When the movie started, there was pin-drop silence. For the entire movie. At the end the coughing started at again.

Personally, I was very tired. In my last blog I mentioned going out the night before and celebrity watching. Then I came home, fiddled with the internet a bit and then got some sleep to wake up at 8 a.m so I could sort out some issues I was having. So in the movie at some point, I dozed off. But I saw 95% of the film. I can scratch off a life goal of mine today:

“Applauded at the end of a Cannes film screening with rest of audience.”

That sounds pretty simple, but the logistics of getting into this place were maddening. I might go into the details of the accreditation process in another blog, but trust me. I had to jump through hoops and drop some serious euros to get where I am right now, and I don’t even feel ready.

Early this morning, when I walked into the Palais for the first time, I grabbed a few copies of magazines that are available to everyone in the area. There are thousands of copies of the Hollywood Reporter, Moving pictures and various other magazines. When I slipped a few of them into my bag, I said, “Dammit. I’m really in it.”

Days ago I was a student on the verge of graduating. My worries involved ironing my graduation gown, packing for this trip to France and worrying about how much my feet hurt when I shop for new shoes. Here, I am officially a professional. I don’t have time to worry that much. All the people here are trying to do the exact same thing. Get ahead. I’m surrounded by thousands of talented, super driven people from dozens of countries with literally thousands of different agendas.

 

Cannes is a Market based festival. Essentially people come here to promote, buy or sell films. Or they come here to promote, buy or sell themselves (not necessarily in that order :p) . So it is a rat race of the most powerful kind. Workshops run abound in Cannes, companies are EVERYWHERE and its non-stop. So a person can juggle visiting companies, catching a screening here and there and maybe catching a party at night. I’ve been told a good strategy is to head to some of the more exclusive hotels and hang out in the lobby and chat to people. This is a business. A relentless one.

 

So therein lies the question? How do I market myself as a writer? Are writers truly in demand, or are hot scripts in demand? When I received my badge, I got a cool little gray bag with ‘Cannes 2008’ all over it. Inside was information on the festival and market participants. The market participant book is twice the size of the Bible. This book had the information of participants in the festival. (and I thought looking into the face of eternal hellfire was daunting). So, I have to organize. I have to go through the periodicals(magazines, etc) and figure out which companies would like my product. I have a comedic script that I want to pitch, but get this. In my Graduation week (as madness ensued and I had no time to sleep) I didn’t adequately prepare some things for my trip. As it stands, when you don’t carry certain things with you to a foreign country, you have to buy them in that country, and man are the prices different. I’m leaking Euros.

 

The plan has to get juggled. Not only do I feel like I have to dress sharp (in Jamaica we say “Bush”) to seem like a true professional, but I have to do it every day. I’m not sure I have that many dress shirts :p. Either way, the battle begins. Tiny Jamaican writer, versus huge, well established international festival. I may not have a movie, or be able to get into the exclusive parties, but I have my little script. May I pitch it well!

On a side note, I bought a SIM card today from a phone store. The guys were not helpful at all. They spoke no English, the phone card’s instructions were in English, and I’m sure I don’t even know how to recharge the bloody card… but I had to get it. Its already getting impossible to link up with members from my program, much less contact people I will be meeting throughout the festival. Investment is key in these things. Don’t scrimp on those comfy black shoes you wanted to wear because they were slightly out of your budget, and get more dress shirts! Self-promotion baby!

Plus tard, ladies and gentlemen, Bush every day!

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