My trip to Venice sparked an adoration for Murano glass and re-ignited my love for the baroque style. The city floats on the Adriatic Sea, it’s beauty unveiled in every corner and crevice. My mom took to repeating “Venice is like a fairy book,” an interesting combination of fairy tale and storybook. From the Realto Market to the bridges and old doors on the canals and the man playing his violin in a corner at sunset, it’s not hard to imagine how the quiet magnificence of this city sparking a Renaissance. The spirit of the city is somehow captured in my picks and all of the plethora of pictures I took.
This city inspires me everyday, and today was no exception. I hopped off the N Train at Prince St this morning only for my (speed) walk to work to be obstructed by people snapping pictures of the street. I looked to my left and discovered an infinitely cool, literal piece of street art memorializing 9/11. Everyone remembers where they were that day, I didn’t even live in the US and I can tell you that I sat in horror as the TV in my middle school classroom relayed the news. It occurred to me that I never really knew New York before it was scarred by terrorism. In a sense my heart breaks for the New York City I’ll never know, more than ever, it breaks for the people that never made it past that day, the families that grieve such a profound loss to this day. I don’t think there was a more New York way to honor their memory 11 years later than a piece of street art in Soho at Prince St and Broadway with the words “Live for Today 9/11″ spray painted on a pedestrian crossing turned makeshift American flag.
I’d clambered out of the office after yet another conference call that ran late, hoping I didn’t get stuck on one of those Murphy’s Law trains. I hopped on the 1 train up to Times Square – 42nd Street and made my way up the two blocks to the Broadhurst Theatre. I tried to remember what I’d read in that tenth grade English class, but all I could muster was my version of Stanley’s voice bellowing “STELLAAAA,” then A Streetcar Named Desire began. It all came flooding back to me in bits and pieces, as I watched the brutish Stanley played by Blair Underwood, excite Blanche DuBois’ (Nicole Ari Parker) dramatic nature. Then I remembered, someone gets raped…
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what scene this horrendous act would take place – so I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering when Stanley’s anger would catapult into full blown assault. It did a couple times as he formed his fist at Stella, but it wasn’t until that fateful moment that my heart leapt out of my chest. Moments after the scene went to blackout, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. The last scene brought me to tears. This cast had wreaked emotional havoc on me, and they deserved their standing ovation.
My heart bled for Stella and Blanche, and while a friend of mine and I had just discussed how stupid we women can be, the art of the stage imitated life. People call Tennessee William’s Streetcar a masterpiece, and I suppose I felt it was a tragedy of the human condition. We make excuses for those we love (or even like) because we’re so afraid to be alone. This isn’t just a play written in the 1940′s, it’s a story of people that accept less than what they deserve time and time again, and the people that smile as they do. I don’t think I understood that when I was all of thirteen years old in an English classroom, failing to see beyond the words on a page. Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Harris Wood captured a piece of Streetcar that had escaped me all those years ago.
Music has always been one of the main things that have kept Jamaica alive in my heart when I couldn’t physically reside in the land of my birth. Being as proud of a Jamaican as I am (it’s a common thing among us), I put reggae and dancehall music in high esteem. My custom ringtone on my father’s phone is a track called Reggae Ambassador by Third World – and the images it conjures up of me rocking out to that in my living room are potentially some of my best childhood memories.
When I was in highschool, I was fortunate enough to have the rest of Toronto swept up in the world of Jamaican music with me. Although my father referred to most of it as ‘buguyaga’ music – translation: uncouth. Now that I’m older, most of my close friends aren’t predominantly of Jamaican decent and my love for reggae is something you only begin to understand if you look through my Spotify or iTunes most played lists. Protoje is at the top of that list.
A little over a year ago, I went back to Jamaica for some much needed escovitch fish and festival, East Indian mangoes, and real Jamaican music. My best friend and I ended up at this spot in Kingston – Village, only to have me fall in love with reggae music all over again thanks to Protoje. When I say I rate this man as an artist, it’s no joke – Protoje and his band Indiggnation are infinitely cool. I’ve said it on more than one occasion that he is the present and future of what reggae should be. His lyrics are poignant yet relatable, and his ability to lay his verses down to tracks produced by Don Corleone makes for the kind of music that needs to be shared with the world. He may have a penchant for the herb, a philosophy of life that I do not share – but I refuse to let that stop me from letting the words of ‘No Lipstick’ echo through my own lips.
His debut album ’7 Year Itch’ is a refreshing compilation of music that not even my exceedingly critical father can resist. If you haven’t already it’s about time you download his mixtape – This is Protoje and buy the ’7 Year Itch’ on iTunes.
Take a listen to Stronger (Antique Riddim) – Protoje
On some level I expect myself to champion Rihanna’s fight against domestic violence, but there’s something about her that just throws me off.
I’m not a huge fan of hers, but if it’s one song I did like on the Loud album, it was ‘Man Down.’ Perhaps it’s simply because she actually sounds like someone from the Caribbean in it, but whatever my reasons for liking the song, the video’s launch this past week has caused quite a stir. Critics have slammed it as being too violent, and have accused Rihanna of teaching women the wrong way to deal with domestic violence.
But who decided that Rihanna was supposed to be a good example of what to do in a bad relationship? If the media hadn’t swarmed all over the Chris Brown fiasco, it’s almost certain that she would have stayed with him. And unfortunately for most women, they don’t have the luxury of the media pointing out their mistakes and magnifying it tenfold. It’s becoming clear that Rihanna is a woman suffering emotionally and with her star power growing all the more as a result of her tragedy, she’s been given a platform to talk about her feelings, although the question being asked is, is her message safe.
To give you a little recap: the video starts out with Rihanna shooting a man in the middle of what the song calls “central station,” later it’s revealed that Rihanna was raped by the same man the day before. For all its notes of revenge, I was slightly taken aback because it certainly wasn’t what I was picturing when I belted out the refrain ‘rum puh puh pum mi seh one man down.’ And now that I ask myself what it was that I expected, I really can’t answer decisively.
With all the rage, resentment and revenge that Rihanna exhibits in ‘Man Down,’ the question isn’t whether or not the video was in poor taste as critics claim. The question should be whether or not Rihanna’s battles with domestic violence have marred her in a way that requires professional help or if she‘s milking the Chris Brown fiasco for all its worth.
I’m sure there’ll be some people that ask me how I can possibly ask the question of whether this woman is milking it, but it’s a fair analysis. I can’t seem to remember much of Rihanna’s career before that fateful Grammy night in 2009. Since then Rihanna has experienced the sort of media attention that some stars can only dream of, but she surely wouldn’t be the woman that everyone interviews about the same questions over and over again if that night never happened. It’s not for me to decide whether she’s been eternally marked by that incident or not, but ponder this: if we removed dating Chris Brown from Rihanna’s career resume, what would we ask her in interviews?
I certainly hope no one takes the video seriously enough to imply that she may take a gun and shoot Chris Brown. I’m no psychiatrist, and what little I remember from my first year psychology classes isn’t enough to make me an expert, but watching Rihanna unfold only puzzles me more. As a woman who has known many women who have experienced domestic violence and seen how it can push them to become totally unhinged, if Rihanna isn’t using domestic violence for all its worth, she’s on the brink of her own unhinging. She’s not a role model, she’s a woman who has been forced to live out this sordid tale and deal with her inner turmoil in the public eye.
Take a look at the video yourself and let me know what you think in the comments:
Perhaps I’m a little bit of a tech nerd, but I find this ingenious use of floppy disks to be art I’d like to have in my house. Maybe I’d better save this for my computer room or office, because it’s too nerdy cool for almost anywhere else. The generation after me will never really know the ‘pleasure’ of using a floppy disk that happened to erase all of my files because I accidentally moved the sliding silver thing. I can remember playing games on my computer that required these odd square anomalies, and I never thought I’d find them the least bit attractive. This is a use for floppy disks I can get behind, and we can all thank the genius of Nick Gentry. The British artists paintings take shape on an original sort of canvas. He’s also used VHS, polaroids, and cassettes. Putting to use all of the things I’ll probably never use again, regrettably.
The Art: I’m obsessed with mixed media artwork, primarily the ones that mix artistic strokes with real photography. This Nikki Farquharson graphic is my idea of insanely cool. It’s a bonafide color explosion, from the grass beneath her heels straight through her torso to what should be her head. The euphoric bursts of color are wild and untamed, giving me the inspiration to throw an insane amount of color together in one ensemble and feel completely justified about it.
The Piece(s): I’ve been in love with this top for a while, because I can’t walk away from neon green no matter how hard I may try to be a little more ‘civilized.’ The lace makes this leather laser cut lace top from Christopher Kane delicate and it could be called demure if the color wasn’t so outrageously flamboyant. The average skinny jean has gotten terribly boring, but these Rag & Bone low-rise cropped skinny jeans are the exact opposite. This pair of pants picks up perfectly on my favorite shade of blue in the Nikki Farquharson mixed media piece. The finishing touch isn’t any less bright a shade than the rest of these pieces or the colors in the painting. These Cara Accessories, aptly named mixed media bangles have a mix of orange, yellow, gold and brown that pulls on neutrals and matching shades bringing them together in an earthy and kismet way.