Archive for the ‘London’ Tag

R.I.P UNCLE B   4 comments


Some people say that psychic connections between people are the stuff of foolish talk; some kind of ethereal sensibility tossed down through the ages from folklore and near-death experiences that became the stuff of legend.

For me, its pretty real.

I talk to my parents pretty often, but when I’m busy and time lags, there are the occasional spans of weeks that may pass without a real conversation. Two days ago, I felt a pressing need to speak to my father. I felt that something was wrong, and that I needed to chat with him. Something was tickling my subconscious, even though I don’t necessarily sit and giggle on the phone with my father for any length of time.

Tonight, after coming home from a long day, I noticed a funky smell wafting through the air. An annoying rodent apparently, had met its demise in my roommate’s room. I spoke to her about the logistics of removing the rodent (she was in the bathroom preparing to head out) and then my phone buzzed. It was home calling.

I flipped open the phone and said hello, immediately forgetting the smelly situation. It was my mother, and her voice sounded calmer, and little more subdued than normal. I usually receive a chirpy, “Hey Marcus, how are yah!” in a tone of voice that could fit any female motivational speaker.

I flopped on the bed in my room and we spoke about the simple things, the day and so forth. She told me that she received my message (I had left a message on the phone saying I wanted to talk to my father). Then, she said.

“Did I tell you that uncle B had gone into the hospital recently?’ she asked

“Hospital?” No, I replied.

“Well, he went into the hospital last week… and he didn’t make it.” She said.

“Wow.” I replied. “Wow.”

Whenever I think of my Uncle B, affectionately called “Uncle Boysie”, my first memory of him is being described as a world traveler. As a child I gleefully touched the large scars on his arms, each one marking a different vaccination from a different part of the world. “Do you know who Atlas is?” Was one of the first questions he asked me. “Atlas, “ he said, “Is the man who holds the world on his shoulders.” He had said with a laugh.

He had a short stature, but a strong resounding voice, the kind with an English inflection from thirty-odd years of living in England, which still had the gentlest touch of his original Jamaican accent. Like my Grandfather, who passed away a few years ago, he is one of the few people I have never seen angry, never seen curse. There was always a smile on his face, and candies in his suitcase for myself and my sisters when he would arrive from England.

In my last conversation with him, he congratulated me on graduating from University, and wished me all the best in my future endeavours in life.

When my mother said the words, “he didn’t make it”, I didn’t feel a crunching sadness envelope me. Like my Grandfather, he was a man that had lived. I have endless memories of his laughter, traveling to the country with him as he told stories from his youth and watching his eyes gleam with pride as he saw how well his family was doing.

As 2008 turned into 2009, I felt as if I wouldn’t have the need to write much anymore. I had unofficially retired this blog. There are many things deep inside me that I have struggled with to overcome. Some I can control, and some I cannot. But I have an intimate relationship with death, and I appreciate what it means. When people around you die, you learn to treasure the moments you had. You treasure the laughs, the smiles and their idosycrasies. You learn to treasure something about yourself as well.

You treasure the things and people you’ve lost, and you try to regret less and do more. Today, I’m feeling that way again.

As he grew older, my Uncle B traveled less because of illness. But whenever he was healthy enough, he would come straight to Jamaica, and spend a few days at my house before departing to the country, where my Aunt built a house in the area she grew up.

I feel it for my father, because he was one of his closest and most beloved friends. January seems to ring with a particular tone of death for him, as his parents and now uncle, have all died in the month of January.

Whatever echo from the cosmos sent a signal to me while I was going about my day in Washington DC, reminds me of that deep intrinsic connection we share. I felt as if my father needed something, some words, a touch, a conversation. At the time, I didn’t know why, but when my mother told me the news, I understood it. My inkling of a feeling, the sense that my father might not be completely happy, had weight attached to it. Many times these things might happen to us and we ignore them as coincidences or trite circumstances. We feel that our lives are completely governed by the steps we take, that we are completely individual.

But are we?

I will always remember your laughs Uncle B, and the time you grabbed a machete and chased a large rat out of the guestroom. I will savor the memory of the taste of those English candies, and I will make sure to kiss your picture the next time I’m in Jamaica. I know you lived a full and prosperous life, with your family and friends always behind you. I hope that I too, can live a life like that. With more to love than to regret, with more to look forward to than to fear.

Safe travels Uncle B, wherever you are.



Love, Actually.   Leave a comment

It’s Valentine’s day, and i’ve received three phone calls to commemorate this day of self-loathing or particularly kinky-sex, chocolate laced underwear and looking at the phone, wishing it were a little cat or some animal that would reciprocate your need for affection.

The first call was from my mother. Apparently, the father of my friend who was my roommate in my freshman year died from some strange complications after doing light surgery. The other two calls were both from one of my best friends. The first explaining to me his need to grab a drink after work, the second to mention being rejected by a girl who he wasn’t even trying to talk to.

I think each Valentine’s day leads us to think of the previous one. I’m no hopeless romantic, but I like these little days we give ourselves to be more loving, more considerate and more creative in the range of gifts we give. (I’ve never given any girl a rose…. EVER).

Last year this time, I got a text message from a girl I didn’t know liked me. “Do you have a valentine?” it said. I smirked as I read the message, and didn’t reply. In two days, she gave me a grisly account of having sex with the guy she chose to be her valentine in her shower. “Ah, ” I said to myself. “Maybe there is something to Valentine’s day after all.”

To celebrate this Valentine’s day, 2008, I got myself a copy of Love Actually and bought a footlong Tuna sandwich from subway. Yeah, its weird, but they don’t have gourmet cheese and a bottle of wine at Subway. I chose this film, because it makes me feel good. Honestly, I have no desire to feel extremely lonely on this day of days, and in actuality, today is meaningless. Its a day like any other, with a label of love. I remember watching Love Actually in a theatre in Jamaica by myself. In Jamaica we have intermission, and I tell you, when the lights came on, every couple in the house was arm in arm, longingly staring at one another. I had to cough and act like my seat was a buxom brunette, ready to hug me with her slim arms and laugh in a way that tickled my neck.

Either way, I chose this movie because its one of those broader, more expansive love stories. I can either pick the adorable antics of the English writer and his Portuguese love interest, the weird “best-friend-loves-your-wife” situation with Keira Knightley and Hubby, or the very odd love found between two softcore porn stars. I like the soundtrack of the movie and how they shot England. After I watched this movie in Christmas 2003, I was ready to travel to England and live there permanently.

Now, watching the film for the second time, I can say that it stilled moved me in some ways. I like the screen shots showing people meeting each other. I have very fond memories of either meeting people, or being met at the airport. The montage of fathers hugging sons, friends and lovers made me feel like there just might be something left in humanity after all.

So, another day ends and this blog isn’t really necessary, but I promised myself I had to write something for Valentine’s day, after I watched my movie. The long weekend looms ahead and I feel like I just might take it easy. Watch a movie, eat another sandwich, and try to sleep blissfully, imaging that future moment that someone comes running up to me in the airport and plants a big wet one on my lips, for the world to see.


Salty drinks make Salty kisses   Leave a comment

Its funny how broken things can still be used.Sometimes I walk around myself, feeling like a sad, emotionally broken creature, who still has use. I sometimes meet an attractive girl, smile with her and spend moments worthy of any number of Dawson’s Creek episodes, then she might flake, and act strange. In moments like these, we broken individuals realize that even though we are emotionally winded and a bit jaded, we still have some use. We pick ourselves up, head out into icy winds and go to bars. We drink and entertain idle conversation, sometimes we don’t mind when strangers look at us with lascivious expressions, lecherous gazes and leering eyes. So in a way, we are broken, yet functional.Like my bike.A few days ago I almost crashed my bike. It was a dangerous affair, with me almost falling face first on the street going at thirty miles per hour. The back wheel was bent out of shape and I was pissed. I was heading to the Giant to get some ice cream for an achy stomach and I almost ended up breaking a collarbone. Long story short, the bike still works. Its broken, yet functional. As I ride through the city I realize the bike isn’t in such bad shape. It creaks and groans like Tony Soprano’s mother, but it gets me from point A to B.Broken yet functional.I wonder sometimes if this is a theme for a lot of people I know. They are injured through circumstance, edgy from limited expecations and a bit frazzled by fortune. They are effectively wading through the marshes of daily life with their nose out of the murky water praying that a Crocodile doesn’t make mincemeat of them.

Today was a day of traipsing. First I traipsed around Chinatown regretting my Alfie-isms. My thin French connection pants, sports jacket and scarf couldn’t save me today. The wind chill brought temperatures down to the twenties and I felt like I was walking in a cloud of ice.

Later I would reach Adams morgan, stopping by Adams Mill for the first time. Even though I consider myself an open-minded equal opportunist, this bar seemed much whiter than any bar i’ve been to in a while. This had to do with the song selection more than the makeup of the patrons. As i’ve stated in a few blogs before, most bars I go to are 98% white. Tonight that statistic was 99.9% until seven or eight black guys walked in, (adding on to me being the 0.1%) and then became the 2%.

Regardless of the math, for about an hour, about 80% of the songs played I didn’t know. When I heard the songs, I immediately thought of wheat field and people in large Suburban houses singing along to these songs as they played through a large, black radio. When the songs played I no longer felt like I was in the confines of a major city, I was out in Connecticut in the boonies, where anywhere to your left or right you were liable to run into a deer, get touched by poison ivy, or get bitten by a tick. I recognized a few key tracks, which populate what I call the “white DJ” list. I’m saying this with no bias. There are certain songs that are played in certain bars that are never played in other bars.

Songs with choruses like:

“Pour some sugar on me!”
“Oooooh! Living on a prayer!”
“I’m not here for your independennnnce!”

And the list goes on. Those are the ones I recognized. For a few minutes, I had a spirited conversation with two friends about not knowing that the last song was not sung by Kelly Clarkson, but by formerly hip-hop-ish punk starlet Pink.

I didn’t mind the music either way. If I was in a bar with 99% black people, I’m sure i’d hear:

“…my drink and my two step”
“this is why we hot”
“i’m a upgrade yah!”

and the list goes on an on. Quite like a broken record. Broken yet functional.

It was Chrissie’s birthday, and she was learning a hot pink shirt with the word “DANGER” emblazoned above the right breast. There was text on the back, but I never took the time to read it. I didn’t feel like dancing, and spent most of my time watching three LCD screens flash
“Tom Brady’s mystery injury continues.” I like watching people drink themselves into supreme states of confidence. A short guy with an interesting haircut had been walking around with a smile all night. I nearly fell down laughing when he literally accosted two blondes.
“Why are you ladies so FUCKING tall??” he said in perfect pitch.
The girls laughed and they started talking.

I sighed. Only in a white bar. No, only in a bar this white.

I’m sure if I was to walk up to random girls and say that I’d be liable to get slapped. Especially since i’m not a short person that can use such profane declarations to my advantage. Eventually some Justin Timberlake started playing and I felt like doing my pop-n-lock routine, but alas, I had no energy.

After Adams mill, I took a quick run to Dupont circle. At this point I really loved my bike. Dupont always sounds like Africa distance wise when I think of walking there on foot, but on my bike it was only five minutes away. I went to Cafe Citron. I was a tad intimidated at first. I was the only black person in line, and everyone had tell tale Latino features. Jet black hair, off-white skin and spanish accents.

Inside, there was a mixture of latin-pop and latin-club music. It was a lot of fun. the place was packed, lots of people were dancing and I had a eight dollar margarita that tasted like a cup of salt water. Even though the DJ was playing remixed latin songs, I heard at least three popular songs remixed to latin beats:

“….I like to move it move it.”

I can’t remember the others, but they were there! Playing like a broken record. Broken yet… you get the idea.

Cafe Citron exposed more of the segregation of DC clubs. It seems everyone can find a place to group up everyone that resembles them, and sweat together as they walk past people that look a lot like them. I need to go to more latin clubs. I felt unnaturally tall in there, as the average person seemed to be no more than five foot six. At six one, I towered over almost everyone. I stood at the bar and beamed a smile at ladies dancing near to me. In my mind I was saying:

Come with me if you want to live.

In my best Arnie voice.

After Cafe Citron, I rode home, listening to FutureSexyLove for what seems like the tenth time in the last four days. I ride, navigating traffic lights, crazy cab drivers and the occasional pedestrian, singing words to high-pitched songs. Its too late to draw any stares from any passersby. Its too cold for people to be on the street gawking at this Jamaican guy riding a bike and singing along to “Sexyback”.

I received at text when I was in Cafe Citroon, a Serbian girl I know told me to come to last call at Bossa–In Adams Morgan–which was a nice 18 blocks away. I shoot a reply.

After party?

She tells me there is something on 18th and Belmont, but then she says not to come. The party is wack. I pop into my room and feel a wave of heat cover my face. I toss my clothes onto my bed, flop into my computer chair and stare at the screen. Maybe I’m not broken and functional.

Maybe i’m just functional.

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