Awaiting Irma in Antigua

On September 2, there was news of a hurricane looming in the Atlantic, but it was too far away for me to start worrying. I mean the possibility of the hurricane being a 5+++ definitely was not something that was on my mind.  So that night, my family went out for an absolutely wonderful dinner at Coconut Grove restaurant located on Dickenson Bay’s beach. As we ate, we looked over at the water and couldn’t help but take note of how close the tide was coming onto the sand. I know this generally tends to happen at night and no, it is not my hap to be at the beach at night to notice any changes in this process but my interest about the hurricane increased.

As the week rolled in, I learnt that Irma (as by now you would have known the name of the now infamous system) was constantly strengthening. I believe that it was on Monday that I watched our hurricane watch become a hurricane warning and my anxiety and feeling of helplessness surfaced. The general manager of Antigua& Barbuda’s state media sent me the notice and I forwarded it to my sister. I was simply informing my sister of what was to be as I had no power of diverting this storm. My voice couldn’t calm the ocean and I knew prayers had been lifted up by persons to many gods before their imminent demise owing to natural disasters or man- made evils to no avail. However, in my resolve that what would happen will, I just hoped for the best.

The news was filled with updates on this beast named Irma. I couldn’t hide from her. She was too big and had her let her presence be made known to too many for me to avoid being reminded of her increasing, unprecedented power. People who would barely post to Facebook posted stating their absolute fear of facing a hurricane that was a category 5. The sounds of people making their preparations added to the sense of urgency. However, on Tuesday morning while I made last minute preparations as my mom, my sister and myself were going to head to my aunt’s to ride out the storm, I found it difficult to move. I was glued to the radio. Local meteorologists warned the Antiguan& Barbudan people that even if the hurricane was to make a last minute shift north, it would not be of much benefit to us because the system was so big we were still going to be quite close to the eye of the storm. However, my sister came back from work early as workers were dismissed earlier than usual to make preparations and it gave me the strength to do what needed to be done to see the “best” results after the storm.

Our shutters were closed, our furniture covered and pictures and trinkets taken down from the walls and we headed to my aunt’s home that is located more in central Antigua. Mind you, we don’t live close near the coast or in low lying areas, however, we just wanted to feel as safe as possible and thought that moving would have been the best option and the added company would have provided solace under such unfavorable circumstances.

My aunt’s 6 boys were over at her place including her newlywed son and his wife who hails from Barbuda. Every one was just wondering what the outcome of what this category 5+++ hurricane would be. I told my sister that if we made it out alive, we would have made it through the storm successfully. I started envisioning our house being cast to shambles or at least our roof being blown off. We’ve never suffered those circumstances in precious storms but Irma was not like prior storms. She was in a category of our own.

Around 8 p.m., the electricity went off and I felt like the beginning of the end had started. During the days before the storm and especially on that Tuesday, it was exceedingly hot. The night was also quite warm… and quiet. There was consistent light rainfall that I cannot remember the starting time of. I could hear the winds start to pick up as it edged towards 9 p.m. and there were some gusts that caused my heart rate to increase because I imagined that the weather would only get worse. At this time, most of my cousins had departed in different quarters of the house and her eldest son was asleep in the living room. My mom, sister, aunt and myself laid down in my aunt’s bed (it’s a big bed :D) awaiting what we were sure would be an epic arrival by Irma. From time to time I would head into the living room where I would see my cousin sleeping which was quite understandable because there was not much action going on. Around after 10 p.m., I believe, we looked through the glass door in my aunt’s room and saw one of my aunt’s neighbors outside. 😦  Some of my cousins had come into the bedroom, wondering why the neighbor was outside… and where was Irma. At around 11: 45 p.m., I started listening to a local radio station, Vybz FM where an international meteorologist provided updates and said that we could expect the storm to be at its strongest at 1 a.m. and at 3a.m. , we could expect hurricane conditions to weaken and continue to weaken at 5 a.m. Time seemed to go quickly and I remember my aunt and me checking her phone at 12:30 a.m. and feeling convinced that we would not feel the brunt of Irma’s wrath as it was so quiet, she would have a lot of work to do to become a monster at 1. However, I still couldn’t sleep and listened on as people called in to the radio station saying they were fine although someone said that his roof had blown off and he was calling in from under his bed but I am not sure whether this incident of a house being damaged to that extent in Antigua is confirmed. As persons from the eastern side of the island checked in on the radio station as safe, my aunt reassured my mom that our home would be in tact when we returned home. Four of us, listened hopefully as we laid on the bed.

It was just before 2 a.m. I believe when the deeayj said that he wanted callers from Barbuda to call in as he wanted to hear how they were faring the storm. Shortly after he said that it appeared that all contact with the sister isle had been lost. At 2 a.m. in Antigua, it was almost completely quiet. The rain had eased up and the wind had been stilled for a moment before rain started falling again. I felt that we were going to be okay. I was put at ease and I eventually fell asleep.

At around 8 the following morning, we drove home. Confident that we had a home to go to and an Antigua with some level of normalcy, we could think about our regular plans and interests because Irma was now a thing of the past. We had made it out alive and with no damage to property. A statement from our prime minister was forwarded to me stating that we were all spared… but then, later on, Prime Minister Gaston Browne visited Barbuda by helicopter being the one to enlighten us that Barbuda’s housing stock had suffered 90% damage in his estimation and that a toddler had lost his life. Barbuda, located 61.5 k north-west of Antigua was a completely different scene from the damp but in tact properties in Antigua. It was devastating. Even though I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a desolate Antigua on Tuesday morning, it was difficult to imagine it actually happening to people in the sister island considering that we were safe in Antigua.

 

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Barbuda after Irma Photo Credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

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Barbudans leaving Barbuda. Photo credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

 

However, in the midst of it all, the Antiguan people pulled together to evacuate the people of Barbuda and to provide the needs for Barbudans. I might write another post about the outpouring of support shown by my people as including it in this post would make it longer than I would like. But what I learnt was that sometimes in life, you will have no control over what happens to you. It doesn’t mean that you are trying to victimize yourself or that you are making excuses, but there are situations in life where all you can do is hope for the best. In this case, residents of Antigua were spared but we could have easily been in the same state as the people in Barbuda. Life doesn’t provide us with reasons as why some things happen to some and why some things don’t and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you. It’s just life, we’re only human and we don’t have control over it all.

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Equal rights and justice for all…

 

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Photo from European Movement International.

In the bedroom that is. Dancehall artiste Ishawna has come out to say something that has probably been on the minds of many women. Ishawna declares in her song, “Equal Rights” that she can go lick for lick with a man in the bedroom. If a man wants oral sex, he by all means should be willing to “deal with me like a bag juice.”  The song, as you can imagine has caused major backlash on social media, primarily by men might I add, with some saying that the song is “promoting slackness” and that it promotes whore like behavior. :|This just goes to show the lack of logic undertaken by men who blindly follow the rules and regulations of masculinity in the Caribbean and namely in Jamaica. How does a woman requesting that she receives equal pleasure to what she is giving her partner equate to whoring? Why does a woman’s vagina that has been sang about in many different ways by male artistes suddenly become the most repulsive thing, especially when a man in most cases would be down for getting a blow job? Now, I am not suggesting that you have to be into oral sex; if it’s not your thing, fine. If your girl does not want you to “chew on her like French fries” but she will give you a “shine”… cool. But if you are in a relationship and you like fellatio, why is it that returning the favor is abominable? Why is it that by all means, you must stick to the rules of manliness laid out by men whose sexual lives you do not know?

 

 

Some guys would say, they wouldn’t share a spliff with their male friends because they don’t know if their friends “bow.” But have any of these men stopped to think, the young lady that is doing such a great job at shining their rifle, just might be that good at it because she has done it before? So some men have no reservations about sharing a spliff with a woman who just may have had some penises in her mouth before but a man who has sucked a vagina is gross? Some men want to look so macho to other men it sometimes makes me wonder which side of the fence they are on.

Gage made a song about fellatio in 2014 and it did cause a buzz, actually it’s the only song that I can name from the artiste and the song raised interest but the outrage of oral sex being performed on a  man being unacceptable was not a sentiment that I remember coming across. Even now when I look back at comments on the song’s video, the song received positive comments from both sexes. But, how dare a woman in 2017 come out and say that for a man to get head he must service her first? Criminal, isn’t it? I don’t believe that in changing times and globalization that every trend that comes out a person has to subscribe to, but, double standards should be erased. The notion of the “ever- blessed pum pum” that has been praise by many in the dancehall sphere and entered into without a shield of protection is something that is mentioned in numerous dancehall songs but don’t you get your lips close to it although your woman has made your day by pleasing you with her mouth, because her genitalia is dirty. Remember, blood comes from there… even though urine comes from your penis.

The outrage is rooted in  sexism to me. I know that everyone is  quick to play social justice warrior now and look for something to be mad about but I am not mad. As I have said before, I have no problem with a man not wanting to give his woman oral sex provided that he does not expect to receive it and if for whatever reason a woman is fine with not getting cunnilingus performed on her for whatever reason but is willing to go down on her man- I see nothing wrong with that. It’s the hypocrisy in men receiving blowjobs and accepting it as a norm but demonizing women receiving the same that irks me. #EqualRightsandJusticeforAll

Ya a pussy!

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Pussy. Some may use this term just as the syllable before “cat”but sometimes “pussy” is used as a slang for vagina. The word “pussy” is also thrown around usually among males to describe a man that is considered a weakling and here lies the reason for this journal entry.

Being in the Caribbean, I’ve heard men call other men pussies for not conforming to what it is that a man is expected to be- a womanizer, tough, insensitive, crude and aggressive. I am not suggesting that the word is used solely by men in this fashion but I’d argue that it is primarily the case. In my own musings on what it means to be a heterosexual male in some Caribbean circles, it seems as if male straightness is incredibly fragile and dictated by some men who are insecure about their own sexuality and overly concerned about the way that other men live their lives. If a man is met with an unfortunate situation, he is expected to respond with anger and aggression. I recall witnessing an accident during the Christmas holidays where someone rear- end another vehicle breaking one of the tail-lights of the car to the front of him. The young man who was hit came out of his car repeating this one line in Antiguan dialect that essentially means, “This cannot be real” or “You cannot be serious.” He said, “Wha da joke ya tarl.” He repeated this over and over in a way as if he wanted to start something with the person that hit him but lacked the aggression and know how on what to do next. I mean, your vehicle was hit. You have every right to be upset but I  felt that in light of persons in typical Antiguan style flocking to see what had transpired and being asked by persons who missed the accident by a millisecond what had happened, the young man who had been hit was trying to appear more upset than he actually was. To not overreact with aggression can easily cause a man to be dubbed  a “pussy.”

Or what of men who prefer hard sole shoes and work corporate jobs? And young boys who wear their pants on their waists and try to work hard and behave well in school? The young boys that don’t get into fights over dumb ish? They too often get dubbed as “pussies.” If you’ve listened to Kartel’s lyrics in one of his most recent songs “Closed Casket,” you’d hear the list of offenses that should be committed by a young man to not be considered a nerd. Why is it that men have to stay on some dumb stuff to be considered as masculine? To be accepted in the group of heterosexual males, your morals have to be somewhat questionable it seems.

Now on sexual practices, a heterosexual male is expected to have slept with every woman in his community for ratings. It’d be great if he receives oral sex from time to time during his encounters but can he give it? What??! No gyal can sidung pan a real man head. A man abstaining from cunnilingus is one the biggest ways to maintain respect from other males because of course it is another man’s concern what a next man does with a woman. Makes complete sense right? Have you ever been to a party and to get the crowd hype, the male dj would ask, “All da man dem wha know seh dem nah suck pussy, buss a blank?” Brah, why you care? If you are a straight male with no intentions of dating a next man, why are you so pressed about where a next man’s mouth has been? That seems to be something that should be of more concern to women who may potentially date men who may or may not be willing to engage in the practice and would be the ones to make direct contact with a man’s mouth.

Also, a man trying to prove himself to not be a pussy would of course have to be homophobic. I do not think that a person not being keen on the homosexual lifestyle makes one homophobic. I think that we have the right to our opinions because in reality we have views on things or on people that do not affect our lives tangibly. However, some men really are homophobic in the literal sense of the word. They are afraid of homosexuality. I remember seeing men opt to give up their seats in the front of the bus because it was deemed gay for three men to sit in front of a bus in Antigua. Apparently, being bunched between two other males could cause one to switch from loving women like Hugh Hefner to wanting to get involved with other men sexually. I’ve actually heard a young woman say that she hopes that when she has a son, he hates homosexuals and that he beats them up. She said if she heard her son say he has beaten up a gay boy, she would be proud. You see, within Caribbean culture, having a son that is straight can sometimes translate into meaning being violent, hateful and overly concerned with protecting ones sexuality by ensuring persons that have alternative lifestyle preferences are marginalized. By expressing these types of traits one can be sure to not be dubbed a weak fence and a pussy. 🙂

I find it to be sad and lame that a slang for vagina is used to describe primarily weak men when in reality, the very cultural expectations of masculinity lends itself to men who are mentally weak, unable to control emotions and resolve conflict peacefully, lack the ability and will to use education to gain upward mobility and a sexuality that is so weak that it has to work overtime to belittle and threaten others to maintain its “superiority.” Yeah, that sounds quite strong to me.

Every thing that went wrong with Melting Pot 2016

So I went to Melting Pot this year. Before I get to the meat and potatoes (pun intended) of what went down on this night, let me give you a little idea of what Melting Pot is. Melting Pot is an event that was introduced to Antigua’s Carnival celebrations in 2014, that features artistes from different Caribbean islands, hence the name- Melting Pot. Previous artistes featured at the event include  Dexta Daps, Beenie Man and whoever else min deh deh before mi nah know nor business bout (translation: whoever else was there before, I do not recall nor do I care to remember them.)

I’ve never been to Melting Pot before but this year mi decide fi fawwud tru mi hear Alkaline gah deh. While perusing one of the local papers, I saw the lineup for Melting Pot and once I saw Alkaline’s picture, grey braids and all, I said to myself- I am going to go. So like I surmise most people would do after making the decision to attend a show of this nature, I decided to contact a friend so that we could roll up to the event together and have a bomb time. My friend isn’t much of a dancehall fan but she was up for hearing Bunji Garlin and Fayon Lyons who were also apart of the performance lineup and a girls’ night was long overdue. So she contacted another friend and it was decided we’d attend the show.

Other than Alkaline, Bunji Garlin & Fayon Lyons, the usual Antiguan suspects were expected to perform- Claudette “CP” Peters, Ricardo Drue, Tian Winter and old school favourites- The Burning Flames. Kassav- a creole band, El Alfa and Romain Virgo  were also scheduled to perform. Now I was actually looking forward to seeing Tian, CP and Ricardo perform because despite the fact that they’re on the lineup for damn near every show held in Antigua, I’ve never seen them perform live. And Melting Pot has come and gone and I still haven’t seen them live. Granted that I wouldn’t necessarily shell out money just to see any of those local performers perform (’cause they are ever around and you know how it is when something is common, the demand for it isn’t as high) I thought Melting Pot would have been the opportune time to see them.

Anyway, let me tell you what transpired on this Wednesday night. I was to be picked up by my friend between 8:30- 8:45 but it took me a bit longer so we left my home at about 8:50/55 and arrived at the Antigua Recreation Grounds- now called Carnival City for the season. Now the other young lady that ought to join us was in the best position to purchase the tickets as she worked in a location that would be more accessible to where tickets were being sold. So we arrive at Carnival City, and my friend is calling homegirl, like “Where you at?” It took a minute for this girl to answer her phone and when she did she said she’s just about to leave home. 😐 Now, Antigua is small but this woman lived far enough from the venue and we just heard the National Anthem being played so the show was about to start and bear in mind that I wanted to see the local artistes that were likely to go first. But it gets better not too longer after my friend gets off the phone, her phone is ringing, and it’s our ticket bearer. And she’s requesting a ride. Now my friend was pissed and started regretting not picking up the tickets from the young lady prior. But I was like ‘let’s just go and get her’ because the sooner she was with us, the sooner we could get into the show and start unwinding.

But finding where exacting my girl lived was no small feat. And the lord of the tickets was not the best at giving directions so we were once heading in the wrong direction but the lord of the tickets’ boyfriend was able to correct his woman’s messed up instructions and lead us to where his woman was. All the while, my friend was rightly getting more and more upset. Anyway, we finally reached the ticket holder and we were on our way to the event. Now we had to find a new and further place to park and by then both the ticket bearer and myself had to use the bathroom and my friend was also hungry. So we tried Burger King and a pharmacy both of which were closed by our reentry into the vicinity as it was now after 10:pm. Mind you, when we originally arrived in town it was around 9:10.

Anyway, we resolved to enter the grounds and use the bathroom there although we had concerns about its sanitation but hey, public bathrooms are all disgusting right? I decided that my situation wasn’t that serious because although the bathroom wasn’t horrible, I just preferred not to and would soldier it out. But my friend wanted something to eat. Amidst all this back and forth Tian Winter is on stage. 😦 I wait for my friend to be served her barbecue chicken and by the time she gets it, Tian is off the stage. 😦 😦 😦

 

 

Anyway, there’s a long break before another artiste comes on and we’re like what’s the hold up?  Kassav then comes on and it appeared that people, especially older people were pretty excited to see them and were dancing and having a jolly old time which low key inspired me ’cause I wanna go out with my old bae and dance when I’m older as well. However, Kassav singing French Creole songs that I really did not know nor understand made it hard to fully enjoy the long ass time they were on stage. There were some songs that I’ve heard on the radio and they did sound amazing live but they were on stage for WAY TOO LONG. I’m not closed minded but I think it’s natural to want to understand the language that people are trying to reach you in. Also considering the long break before Kassav came on stage, the quicker they came off would have been the better.

After Kassav was El Alfa, I believe. And I actually didn’t even know they were apart of the lineup until the night because I really wasn’t checking for them on the flyer. Anyway, El Alfa is a Hispanic rap/hip-hop duo that is as whack as they come. They were singing in Spanish but whack is whack and I was not featuring these yutes. When they made their exit someone next to me said,” The best time ah di night ah when dem come off.” He ain’t never lied.

Next was Romain Virgo and the Unity Band. Romain was doing the most as if people came to see his behind. Yes, he did cover some familiar songs that got people loosened up after enduring Kassav and El Alfa but Romain was on too freakin’ long.

Before Romain came on and after he came on there was a mix of Jamaican music that was played to ease people into the “Caribbean tour” as the show was sponsored by LIAT. Supa Dymond, the host did a good job with the mix because I love me some dancehall so I was getting my life. Anyway, I was suspect when he mentioned that we were “touching down in Jamaica” because I thought that Bunji & Fayon would have performed before Jamaican Alkaline. Anyway, I wasn’t overly concerned because it was about after 3:a.m. when Alkaline came on. Yes, folks after 3:a.m. to blouse and skirt.

Alkaline then came on with his hype man blazing fire and singing “Formula”, one of his summer hits and hit after hit. I must say that his catalogue is up there. When he reached for a song like “Up”, I was like, ‘Hey, I forgot about that song’ but it was great that he included it. He also sang, “My Side of the Story”, “One More Time”, “Chun Chun”, “How It Feel”, “Mi nuh Like People”, “Bagga Things”, “City”, “Wait Your Turn”, “Champion Boy”, “ATM” and other songs. However, his live band was louder than him and considering that a lot of dancehall music is heavily electronically generated, seeing him perform with a band that played the songs in a different key had an underwhelming effect.  I also felt like some of the songs were rushed but  I must say that he transitioned from song to song quite well. Some people blamed the lack of autotune available to him or blatantly said he can’t perform but as I said, to me it just had a lot to do with the imbalance between Alkaline and his band. The band overpowered him. But he did have a pretty good set. Say what you like about Alkaline but the yute has hits.

Anyway, Alkaline finished performing after 4 and I went walked out the grounds. My friends and I had gotten separated because they wanted to stay at the back and I went to the front by myself and it paid off- I got good pics and a glow stick. 🙂 But being the only one with a bag, I held the car keys and the driver’s cellphone and it was a mess watching, waiting and hoping to see my comrades. Anyway, my friend begged someone a phone call and called her phone and we were able to reconnect.

On making our way to the car we all express our disappointment with the show and both girls were disappointed with the performance of Alkaline, the long time some performers were onstage, not seeing Bunji and the looooonng night we had.

But there’s more, the following day, we learnt that the show ended at about 7:am. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. When we left after 4, Burning Flames performed, followed by Bunji Garlin & Fayon Lyons and Ricardo Drue reportedly closed the show.

Overall, the show was as poorly planned as our night. I think that patrons should get to see everyone advertised for a show within reasonable time. And organizers should not BS people nor waste money on acts that do not add value to a show. Yes, the show is called Melting Pot, but this is not like a music festival where people only attend nights when their fave is performing. It’s a one night thing that nuff people suffered through only to not get to see Bunji Garlin because they have to work the Thursday morning (like I did) or they’re just too exhausted to champion the cause of seeing every act ’cause the show is really too long. Overall, the show gets a 2 out of 5 and the 2 stars go to getting to see Alkaline.