Archive for the ‘brad pitt’ Tag

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.

 

****

Hello DC: Shorts Party in Adams Morgan   Leave a comment

I’m standing outside Asylum, a bar in the heart of Adams Morgan. I’m trying to pull up my pants to make shorts, because I’ve found a nice little party. I can see in the window the movement of lots of bodies; the windows is thick with sweat and I can hear the echo of indie music.
I see a guy I know, Mick and he gives me a one over before I go to the bouncer. The bouncer is a man with a gentle face—he could have been a hobbit any of the Lord of the Rings movies—and he has a long head of wavy, semi-straight hair. I could see him sitting on this stool thirty years ago, with a beard to accompany the hair, smiling at people with those fairy tale eyes.
Its been a slow night. Thursdays are like that sometimes (at least in DC), and I just came from Saint Ex where I was hanging with a few friends of mine. Since I’ve returned to DC a little cloud has been growing over my head. I’m not sure what it is. Part of me thinks it latent memories popping up and leaping to the forefront of my conscious mind, but I have a theory that involves pretending to be a superhero and eating lots of potatoes that might get rid of it.
Saint Ex is on 14th street and I walked the four block stretch to hit Adams Morgan, where I had no real intentions. Anyone worth their salt knows that Thursday night in Washington DC is much more happening during the lovely summer months. Now the nights are getting cooler and congress is in session, so all the happy-go-lucky Capitol hill people have to go easy on the booze and coke for a bit and actually process reality.
So, I’m ready to go into this shorts party. Intially the bouncer said “I think those pants of his are too tight to roll up into shorts.” I disagreed. After a little effort, my biker/hipster black pants became glorified shorts. They grabbed at my knees like a gleefully obese child, but they worked. I would only need them to walk in. I hand the bouncer my ID, and I’m in.
I’m hit with a wave of heat and a thick smell. This smell is common to almost every bar I’ve been in with lots of people dancing inside. Its like a slice of salami that’s been left in a plastic Tupperware case for a few hours mixed with beer suds. Depending on the night, and the number of people in attendance, this scent can be mild, or downright disgusting. Tonight, the smell is at code yellow: Tolerable.
The party is definitely indie for DC. That or a lot of college people are out and about. The first girl I see is wearing what appears to be her boyfriend’s t-shirt and her eyes are glazed with the veil of inebriation. To my left, two tall shirtless guy with beach bodies dance with bottles of champagne in their hands, sipping while doing a very Euro-gay movement to the rhythm. They aren’t the only shirtless ones.
Two more guys, dancing on a large leather couch with its back resting on a wall covered in mirrors are grinding like the women in front of them are tossing dollars bills their way. One is wearing swim trunks half the size of the doozy that Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale, and the other guy seems like he’s tripping on drugs, because he’s look at the ceiling, rubbing his thigh and dancing in a way that suggest the ceiling is a woman he’s trying to bed and this is his only chance at getting laid.
Within seconds of doing this sweep of the room, a girl yanks my tie (I’m wearing my customary t-shirt and tie) and pulls me to her left (my right) as she walks by. I chuckle, but she really has a tight grip on the thing. She reaches back—I think to grab my hand—but she misses by a mile and just slightly touches my crotch. Then, just like she appeared, she disappears into the sweaty throng of dancers.
I stand where I am for a moment. The music is good, the vibe isnt’ bad, but I’m not feeling like letting loose. The cloud is still following me, sprinkling me with bits of rain like that unfortunate Carebear that was always depressed. Now THAT guy had issues. Imagine living in a happy cherubic land where you can get doped up on “good feelings” by rubbing your stomach and saying “CARE BEAR STARE!” and you are the one schmuck that gets stuck with a rain cloud that follows you everywhere? I wouldnt’ be surprised in that carebear had an E true Hollywood story involving prositutes, latent homosexuality and some connection to Kevin Bacon.
A bunch of guys that look like the perfect entourage for a low-key rapper are in the back. They seem drunk, and they are doing wild things, like tossing the balls from a ball pool located near the window into the crowd, and spraying Champagne and beer on everyone. This action startles me at first. People spraying the bubbly for no reason usually pisses people off, gets girls made about their hair being wet and kills the party. But not tonight.
These guys sprayed at least four bottles of Champagne all over the people immediately beside them and no one stopped dancing. It was like a strange sexual display, with people getting sprayed on and cheering by guys wearing dark glasses with huge, lecherous grins.
At this point, the shirtless guys have all united on the leather couch and are all dancing with bottles in their hands. The last time I’ve seen a display like this was at South Beach, where a friend and I happened to a see a purple box way in the distance as we walked down the beach on Spring Break a few years back. As we got closer to this purple box, it was actually a large structure. From this structure was music. Pulsing, pumping, trance music. I got excited because I was thinking “Beach party, yeah!” and as neared the thing we saw hands in the air, heard people cheering and I got even more excited. We walked past a port-a-potty where a long line of guys were waiting to pee. But then, not only were guys waiting to pee, but there were guys everywhere. In fact, there were NO girls to be seen. The purple box was a gay party.
At this gay party, every man was hairless and had a body that Brad Pitt would envy. It was a garish display of the Miami gay scene and also a reflection of what working out can really do for a guy. Either way, seeing those four shirtless guys on that couch, looking over a mixed crowd dancing and being sprayed with champagne was, somewhat awkward, but oddly familiar.
As good as the music was, I didn’t feel like dancing. I entertained light conversation with a few people and then left. Maybe I was tired from working out earlier in the evening, or maybe trying to figure out the narrative of a new book I’m working on is taking up more mental energy that I realize. Whatever it is, next time there’s a shorts party going on. I’m wearing shorts, and I just might end up shirtless.

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 *

Cannes Day 1 – Vive La Crepes!   Leave a comment

Okay. So I haven’t been able to blog about a few things recently.

Number one was my Graduation – too tired.
Number two was traveling to France the day after graduation – way too tired.
So the blog starts here :p

 

CANNES DAY ONE – POLICE, SHUTTLES AND CHILLY WEAHTER

 

I’m sitting in a room in the Cot d’Azur airport. I’m staring blankly forward—this is what I do when I’m trying to keep an innocent face—and trying to understand the French customs officer speaking to me… in French.

 

This would be one of my first experiences with the French. The first would be the passionate request of a French man for me to switch seats with him and his wife on the airplane.

“I would lie to sit with my wife.” He says moments after coming to the seat. I was a little hesitant. No, very hesitant because I really wanted to have my window seat, occasionally looking at the ocean while we flew over it at hundreds of miles and hour. Eventually I gave the guy the seat. Not before he mutters under his breath:

Sur incompetente Americans!” after an air hostess gives him a bogus explanation as to why he and his wife aren’t seated together. I tried not to laugh.

Now, I’m back in the office. Not only do I have no proof that I was invited to the Cannes Film Festival (my reason for being in France) I have no copy of my hotel reservation. This is REALLY bad. The lady took one look at my Jamaican passport and immediately started scrutinizing me. (my fellow participans in my program, all Americans went through without a hitch).

It was a fun experience, as I tried to speak in Englsh and broken French to explain my purpose for being in France. I couldn’t’ remember the name of the hotel right away, but I did remember the website that had the hotels name on it, which didn’t help things at all. Then the name of the hotel popped into my mind.

Villa Maupassant.

A young French guy that resembled an actor from a movie I can’t remember was very helpful. He could see the customs lady was breaking my balls. I would find out later that the French officials didn’t even scan the passports for the American passengers, they just took a quick glance at it, then stamped. She kept asking me questions in casual conversational French while the young man translated. I didn’t think I was screwed, but I was very annoyed with myself for forgetting to bring the essential things any Jamaican should when they are traveling: Reasons to show you aren’t fleeing your home country.

After a while I explained to the woman that I was part of a group that had traveled to France and that I was to be picked up outside. The only problem with that was, I had no idea who was picking me up, how they looked or what they were wearing. We walked over to the customs section where I was grilled on why I was in France. 

“I’m going to the festival.” I said.

“Really?” the customs baggage lady (different from the customs lady ) said. 

“Yes.”

“Where is your letter of acceptance?” she asks.

“I don’t have it.” 

I give a sob story about Graudating the day before and being extremely tired which is only half true. I normally have my information printed in duplicated hidden in both suiticases, with a backup on my thumb drive. I wasn’t only tired this trip, I must have been on drugs as well. You travel eight thousand miles and have no hotel address? Come on dude!

I eventually get through customs and go outside. I begin looking around… and see no one even remotely familiar. In the pit of my stomach I can see how more and more I’m appearing like a Jamaican hoping to make a new life in the hills of Cannes with my French Cougar. 

 We eventually returned to the airport police office. The young man who had been really cool with helping me apparently double checked with the Villa Maupassant people and I was good to go. phew!

The bad thing was my shuttle had already left and the next one wouldn’t return until about ten a.m (which ended up being about Eleven a.m) either way. My entrance into France like many things, was with a bang.

It’s a chilly day in the Cot d’ Azur aiport, but I like the look of the area. Many of the buildings are tan and dot the hillside in a contiguous way. When the plane landed, for a brief moment I thought of Montego Bay—until I saw some massive mountains in the distance. I’m at the Villa now taking a break. I’m tryin to stay awake for the rest of the day to stave off the weirdness Jet lag can give a traveler, so I think I might get something to eat nearby.

Reflectionz 

I’ve just graduated from University, and I don’t have time to really relish the idea of being a working professional, I just am. A colleague of mine ( who also Graduated just a few days ago) goes on a walk with me around the local area. We are trying to find out if we can get a phone, or a sim card for cheap, but the best price we find Is a store that sells them for 20 euros. The man doesn’t speak much English and my French is horrible, so I can’t figure out. I decide against getting the SIM for the moment, but as time passes I realize I might need a way to contact people.

 

I’m fighting against the effects of future Jet lag. This is a process that requires a person to stay awake in the manner you would on any given day, but you are technically staying awake for an extra six hours. When my friend and I stop at a stand to by some crepes, I am made all to aware of this fact. While I’m eating my phone alarm goes off.

For 8:30 a.m

French time is 12:30 p.m. I groan to myself because I have to stay up till at least 8 p.m  that evening to trick my mind into getting into the new cycle. I spend the rest fo the day walking around a lot to get my bearings. Cannes is a scenic town, with sweeping vistas of nice mountainous regions, and lots of teeny tiny cars. The occasional Bentley or Ferrari drives buy pretty regularly, but many people have cars that can fit in a shoe box, or ride a bike.

 

I end up taking a long (possibly 5 mile) walk to the Palais Des Festivals which is the main area of the Cannes Film Festival. On my way there I run into a girl who was in my Cinematography one class. Small world eh? She tells me about studying abroad and how creepy French men are. (The rumors are true!)

 

I hang out for a bit, looking at huge Yachts on the Mediterranean and trying to stay awake. I’m sitting on a bench somewhere, I watch another monster Ferrari with a soft top roll by like a Lion chasing his dinner and I head home. Earlier in the day I bought some bread and cheese and its my saving grace. I haven’t had the opportunity to go to a supermarket yet, and for now I will be eating “du pan au fromage”. I’ll report on day two as it comes. You can also checkout my video blog. (whenever I can figure out how to set that up…)

 

 

%d bloggers like this: