Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Being bounced by high-class New York clubs

I was pretty excited to be in the Big Apple. I hadn't really been here in about two years. I made sure to spend a weekend here at the start of my Thanksgiving 'week-off' trip. I was disappointed enough to get into the city late on Friday evening so that I would miss the 'night activities'. No p. I moved on. I hoped for a Saturday to remember. I did get a Saturday to remember, and with this blog, a Saturday to be talked about for a while. I arrived at my friend's in Columbia and he and his friends were talking about women, black women, white women, relationships, etc. If I didn't address the topic in my last blog entry what makes you think I will share my opinions here. See me in chambers. So let's move on to Saturday, shall we?

I watched the Manchester United-Aston Villa game at a bar near Columbia University with the news of Chelsea and Liverpool both involved in blank goalless draws earlier. I cheered the Red Devils on but they ended up drawing nil-nil with Villa too. I met a couple of friends later and this brought me to about 10pm when I rushed to Columbia's Lerner hall to see my friend's band perform. I caught more of the show, his band was performing last. The Asian American show (Culture shock) was great.

I left Columbia shortly after this show for some location I have forgotten, which is where a couple of my MIghTy Afrikan friends were. I got there, and chilled for awhile. I met some of their friends - including four fly Somali girls we'd go out with later. The venue was like a hookah bar/restaurant, and they were playing music from Mediterranean countries I think. It took us a while to get a taxi, nah, it's not because we were all black, but we weren't sure what taxis we wanted to take or how we wanted to split, etc, etc. Eventually, we left there for this place called pink elephant in Manhattan.

When we got there, I realised we had a problem with the bouncer and it turned out that he said he won't allow me to go in cuz I was underdressed. What? Underdressed? This is not a summer day in LA. This is a falling into winter in cold New York City. Should I be wearing a tuxedo? We are in a credit crunch. I can't rent one. My other friends tried to beg him but he said no. I dunno if he had a problem with my African shirt or something. Seems my shirt had two colours too many. I was wearing that with jeans and a pair of shoes.

My Kenyan friend stayed with me and I feel he did so because they weren't allowing me to go in. I am not sure if they found a problem with his attire, he was just being a good 'brother' I guess. My other friend (who was Somalian) went inside with these 4 Somalian leaving us (me and mKenya rafiki yangu behind). I thought they were going to try and come back for us but they never came back out again. We ended up texting them to figure this situation out.

Other people came through the line after us and plenty people were wearing jeans, regular shirts, etc. One other friend from college who I hadn't seen in ages also came through. When we complained to the bouncer, he said we were not on the guestlist, etc and we would have to buy a table or get a reservation. Tables cost $1000 and up so we weren't gonna buy one. Pink Elephant is supposed to be some up-scale high-class New York club where underdressed people are not welcome. They should come to the Bay Area and see. The richest people are not the ones wearing suits all the time, they are too rich to even impress anybody. Anyone can wear a suit, you can't judge 'trouble-causers' or poor people by what they are wearing. After all, this is credit-card country. Anyone can own a suit.

Eventually a white girl came up to the line with a friend. My Kenyan friend approached her, I guess he was trying to get her and a friend to go with us, so we could use them as collateral to get in. She was underage and my friend was trying to assure her that he'll get her in. He proceeded to take her number and without resistance. We were thinking that it was a maybe number. I don't know if he's called it yet. Another guy talked to this girl and proceeded to enter with her. But like we all know, this shordy is underage and she had no ID. She begged the people to enter but the bouncers said no. "Do you want me to give you a kiss?" To my disbelief, the girl kissed the bouncer and the next moment, she was entering the club. "Agya wadwo, asEm bEn nie!" When some of us get really angry, we speak our mother tongue. The statement before can be translated as "@&$()#@^$, what's this?!" Girls got it good.

My Kenyan friend gave the bouncers his piece of mind and they told him to leave because he was rude. They told me maybe I could enter bcuz I had been nice, etc but I left with him (cuz am a brother lol), we had spent like 20 minutes begging these guys. My friend complained about them being racist and the bouncers said they had allowed black people in, but I actually think at that point, the only black people he had allowed in were those we came with.

We go to another club which is even more ghetto because my Kenyan friend believes it's the only one we'll get into. The bouncer greets us with bad news, we can't go in bcuz we don't have women with us. I know there are more women than men and several men like us are sadly in prison so we should be able to get some women but come on. We are like this is ridiculous. So we stay around there, because my friend has already advised that this is the only club we can get into in this area. It's about 2am now anyway. 4 girls walk up behind us (alone) and my friend asks them if they'll go in with us. To our delight, they agree so we approach the bouncers. This same bouncer goes on to say one of the girls is drunk so she can't come in after the girl did a small Harlem shake. That means, the other 3 girls won't go in either and that applies to me and my friend too. A S E M, asem! We tell the bouncer the girl is feeling cold that's why she's acting funny but this guy will have none of that. My friend discloses to me he thought the girl was drunk though.

These girls left, but shortly after that another group arrived; 2 guys and 4 girls. I approached one of the girls and asked if me and my friend could join them, go inside with the extra 2 girls. She agreed and we marched on gallantly to partay. We almost entered the club oh, before this same bouncer told me and my friend to step aside. This my friend reference makes me even sound like John McCain. He tells us we are not with these girls so we can't go in. He says we didn't come with them bcuz he had seen us earlier. These girls were even holding our hands on our way in. We can't catch a break. We realise he won't allow us to go in anyway and we are not going to pay him any extra money so we left. I think there and then I probably cursed somebody. I was pissed.

On our way away from the club, my friend says single black men can't catch a break in NYC clubs. We headed to a bar/club near where my MIghTy Afrikan friends lived, around 14th st. When we entered, I heard them playing 'fire on the mountain' by Asa, I was so excited and ,y paddy said this place played African music. A group of young women were on their way out but we still decided to stay though there were like no young women left. There were done for the night, we were just getting started.

I talked to the dj at some point and told him about museke. He also played one of wanlov da kuborlor's songs, vul'undlela, nakupenda by Brenda Fassie as well, Premier gaou, amoulanga also by magic system, wolosso, etc. We had a lot of fun, it was great. We left there around 4am for my paddy's place where I slept. Two of the Somali girls were there already and my Somalian friend came home drunk as anything.

So that's how the night went. I am feeling a little okay about the whole experience bcuz maybe it's just Manhattan clubs and they only allow people who have dressed real well to enter, people with nice jackets, nice shoes, pants, etc. The jacket I was wearing was green, I think that was their major issue. It's like a cardinal sin to wear a darkless jacket to a high-class New York club. They still allowed people who were dressed just like me and I guess they just wanted to wield their power. It's sad but I've gotten over it.

I hope the pink elephant and lass clubs burn, I was really pissed that night because I didn't really chill both weekend nights in NYC. Yawa. I mean, come on, we have a black president-elect, we black people must catch a break here and there. Especially when we mean no harm. All I'll say is karma is a bitch. We go see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I watched "Diary of a tired black man"

Bond. James Bond. I have always been fascinated with Bond movies and the character and personality of Bond. He looks like a pretty cool guy. There's a new Bond movie out and I had the chance to see it yesterday for like 3 dollars. I shunned that opportunity to watch another movie/documentary. Why not? I was going to watch this documentary for free, and as some of you may know, I've been on a 'spending-nothing' spree for some time now. The documentary I ended up watching was called 'The Diary of a Tired Black Man'. Yes, it does sound like 'the Diary of a Mad Black Woman'. This film/documentary supposedly is an answer to its sister of a similar name. But what are Black men tired about? Why should we be tired? We just elected a Black man as president. Nothing should tire us out from achieving our goals, dreams, aspirations or desires. According to this documentary, some things that happen to Black men do tire them out. Let's find out.

I couldn't help but recognize the main actor, Jimmy Jean-Louis. He's the same guy who played the African man (man with the accent) in the Phat Girlz movie which featured Monique and had 2Face Idibia's African Queen on the soundtrack. If we were gonna talk about a tired black man in America, were we going to choose a Haitian man with an accent? Not that it really matters, but that was something. This trailer above is just part of the movie and is a clip Tim Alexander showed to several people across the United States from different demographics and sought opinions, experiences, thoughts and stories about relationships involving black people.

I am not going to delve into all the issues that this video above may spark but these are some (that I wrote down while watching the 108 minute video):

piece of mind, stress, angry black woman syndrome, dysfunctional, divorce, single-parent household, African families, family values, baby mamas, perceptions, past experiences, short-term man, bad boy, God, argument, royalty, trophy wife, queen, African queen, ownership, strong black woman, blind date, raise standards, stereotypes.

Quite a heated discussion arose after we watched the film. The man was pretty much a protagonist and the lady Tonya an antagonist. It seemed to portray a 'good man' doing all he could to keep a relationship with a 'bad woman'. Tim Alexander says the film is just showing one point of view, which is not shown in many 'Black' movies. The discussion didn't exactly end because, because the people in the audience were all critical to come to much conclusion. So the discussion should continue amongst us.

I always say to attack the root of the problems. Put in measures to make sure women don't become mad or angry, men don't become abusive and we all live in love. Amen.

So, I kinda ended up being the only grad student in the audience at the end of the movie. I think so. I am growing too old, am hitting quarter of a century and am facing a quarter-life crisis. I don't even have money to take girls to Macy's instead of Walmart, Olive Garden instead of MacDonalds, or ride in a Lamborgini instead of the local bus. Maybe if I had Verizon, I could see the horizon, but till I get there I'll be singling out myself with my Singular phone while I demobilize my T-mobile eyes. Chaa.

I hope you all get the chance to watch the full movie when it comes to theaters this winter.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sometime from now, we will (Malaria)

I wrote a new poem guys. Well, not quite. Truth is, I edited a poem I wrote about AIDS to reflect thoughts on Malaria (Anti-Malaria). After attending the Boston AIDS Walk in 2005, I got so inspired about fighting AIDS, which is probably the most deadly disease known to man. HIV-AIDS affects a lot of Africans and at one point, I heard it kills hundreds of Africans each year and the disease is getting deadlier in other parts of the world.

Anyway, I was pumped to do something about the AIDS epidemic after I took part in the walk. So I wrote about how that enthusiasm could probably die slowly day after day. It's the same for a lot of things. You hear about something really bad, you got worked up, and more often than not, the next day you are not as enthused and couldn't really care. Sometime from now, maybe we may be able to do a great deal to stem the tide and control the spread of these diseases or ready ourselves to make great strides to solving problems that just don't seem to go away.

In the meantime, you can enjoy this poem. I 'performed' this poem at an event at Stanford recently, a concert organized by I-AM - Initiative Against Malaria, a student group at Stanford.

Sometime from now, we will

Twenty years from now
We will be thinking how; we couldn’t put the seize to the disease
When with the issues, we seemed at ease

Fifteen years from now
We will be lamenting how; we failed to speak up, and shut up
Disregarding the holes that we dug up
Disregarding the holes that were dug up

Twelve years from now
We will be studying how; we searched and researched around the clock
While they made gains against us with no bargains

Nine years from now
We will be recounting how; we had nine chances to resolve and change
While marginalizing the opportunity to change to some day in the calendar

Seven years from now
We will be asking how; we rejected manna from heaven and signs of the times
Gutted by the gutters and shooting nothing but net for the nets

Six years from now
We will be describing how; we talked and uneducated ourselves in the process
Growing fresh weeds in the midst of weeding

Four years from now
We will be remembering how; we baited them to war
And their members ate through what we wore

Three years from now
We will be discussing how; we saw the data change and the analysis stay the same
While our arms remained crossed and our fingers stayed pointed

Two years from now
We will be loving how we sprayed and we thought this mosquito mos quit o!
But it won’t so I no fit mail the female anopheles in

One year from now
We will be buzzing about how; we bossed over whose expense created the biggest buzz
While they buzzed around in areas where our buzz is expensive

One month from now
We will be dreaming how; we will act, implement our ideas and enjoy our company
Until we are reminded we have a week from then to do something

One day from now
We will be surprised how; we felt good talking the talk and walking the walk
But we lived in the moment and stayed intense with the audience

One moment from now
We will be devising, strategizing, fantasizing and planning how
We will be proud of ourselves twenty years from now, how
We fought Malaria, uplifted our people and for our efforts, were taking one big bow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The war child 1.1 (poem)

More blog downtime, so here is another poem. Yes, Obama won the election and I am very very very happy. I walk around with my shoulders up these days and that sense that I 'own' the world is even more prominent within me now. I do want to take a moment to thank God for what I have and how He has blessed me. I thank Him for people like Barack Obama who can inspire us. I hope he ends these 'two wars' America is fighting soon and amicably. I am also praying for peace, let's believe that we will have that all around the world sooner than later. Here's another 'war-child' poem I wrote on the same day I wrote this one. Enjoy.

Life has laid its burden on thee!
Oh, innocent son of Junta,
Longing to see a Santa
What has thou to live for?
Bread or blood
For the love of life,
And the death of hate,
Thou have to fight.

Clear your sore eyes,
Thy strength shows in your tears.
Wash your filthy hands,
Thy blood is no different.
Blow your hollow cheeks,
Thou have never been ready.
Guard your fragile heart,
Thy soul has not been stronger.

Violence comes in thy tracks
On your way to Gonja barracks
You see a dove and thou see love
A new day has come your way
Untie thy bloody bandana
You are no longer a bafana.
Return fire with thy ire
Let war out your closed door

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Barack Obama is the beginning of change

November 4th, 2008 was a monumental day. A black man became the leader of the 'free world' and the president of arguably the most powerful nation on earth. I supported him, because he was the best candidate and I admired his vision, character, personality, ideas and ideals. As the results came in, I thanked God for the impending victory and the lack of 'surprises'. The last thing I could handle was to have the opinion polls heading into Nov 4th say one thing and provide a different end result, especially when it would be going against the outcome I so much wanted to happen. Obama said 'Yes, we can' and yes, 'we' have won the election. Barack made it clear though, that the change he'd preached for more than a year wasn't here yet and that we needed to work hard to see it come to fruition. Yes, we can but we are not done yet.

I received a text from a friend saying: "Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King (MLK) could walk, MLK walked so Obama could run, and now Obama has run so that our children can fly". Well, following this trend, there is probably some one person out there who is going to fly (like really high) in the future abi? We'll see. A lot of us are celebrating this Obama victory as a victory for Black people all over. It is. Black kids would learn and work harder now with this monumental achievement. Black kids, especially in the US, would aspire to become better leaders, and we have an Obama to line up alongside the 'stars' like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Jay-Z. We will soon run out of excuses of why we cannot. Those three words are ringing true from Compton, LA to Accra, Ghana - Yes, we can. Ghana's Joy 99.7 FM played the famous 'Yes, we can, song' by Will.I.Am at its Super morning show on the morning of November 5th. Obamamania is alive in predominantly Black communities all over the world.

People like to say that Obama won the election because Sarah Palin and George Bush lost the election for John McCain. Come on now! Couldn't Obama win it on his own merit? America was presented with two choices and they decided. In fact, Obama was presented as a choice only two years ago, he was unpopular and new. We have seen him run a campaign for the ages and shown his character and knowledge to the world. It's no fluke, countless songs were made and books written about him. The Republican party tried to show him as the Anti-Christ, a terrorist, etc, but all those schemes failed. My friends :-), the force of good prevailed in this election. The 'good' candidate won this election, not the one who was most popular or familiar, not the one who run the 'best' campaign, not the one who could buy the most votes. Obama inspired people to be part of the political process, he inspired people to sit up and talk up the issues, he inspired people to be active in the matters that affect them. He didn't need all the experience and years of being on television to do it, all he needed was a message and a personality to back it. Not just any message folks, but a good message.

This victory is not for Black people only, it's for all of us. It shows that we can rise above the odds, obstacles and challenges to make the right or best choice. Some people may argue that Obama was not the right choice, in fact he was the left choice. Wink wink. Anyway, in a world which has so much wrong with it, he was the only choice left. I hear people in Ghana sending text messages saying 'anything is possible' and Obama's victory has given many people a 'can do' attitude. We cannot settle for less, because we can do more. Obama has had to be excellent and he passed the test with flying colours. We may not face the same circumstances all the time, but we have more evidence that we can achieve our dreams.

History has been made but his story is still being written. I have a lot of confidence in Obama's ability to fix the American economy, improve health care, reform education for the better, help America fulfill its energy needs while preserving our environment and restoring confidence in Americans and the American dream. I also want him to work to make America a country that is respected all over the world and an America that does not exploit other countries to its own benefit. Obama is at the zenith, he's the leader of the 'free world'. This is not the first time a black man has been a president somewhere, there are many who have gone before him. But, they were never 'free'. These black men fought and won independence for their people, many in Obama-like ways, but they and their people are still not 'free', they are neo-colonised. Obama's achievement is nice, but for myself as an African, it's probably not the greatest thing ever.

I would love for Obama to begin to break the chains that bind some countries to poverty while others keep on progressing. As we've seen recently, I don't even know if I can call that 'progress' progress anymore. Can Obama be such a wonderful president and leader that even the terrorists who want to destroy America and its allies find new agenda for their money? Is that impossible? Obama is a diplomat and he preaches diplomacy at every point. The right-wingers like to fault him for some of the stances he takes, but I believe he will take the best possible stance when the situation presents itself. His messages of inclusivity have won him an election, we'll see how it fares with a red-state and blue-state America. He is the grassroots' hero. Despise his Robin-Hoodness or 'socialist' tendencies, he's just looking out for the people who need his services most. Obama has a presidential term to see through, I hope he excels in every way possible.

When I grow up, I want to be like Barack Obama, especially when it comes to choosing words or great speeches. On Nov, 4th at Grant Park in Chicago he said, "This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you." His whole campaign has been about 'you', about someone other than him, about all of us. I remember watching a couple of Obama and Hillary rallies, and the difference I found between the two of them was that Hillary talked about what she was going to do and herself while Obama's message was about 'you'. Right there, I knew Barack Hussein Obama was special and that selflessness is what I admire so much about him. Earlier tonight, I was wondering, people may want to do great things and a lot of good for as many people as they can do it for, and that's selflessness. But, if per say, Obama does want to be this selfless but he wants to be the one to make this change happen or become that great person and ultimately the credit, isn't that selfish? Is there a balance of selfishness and selflessness when it comes to leadership?

I am so happy right now. It's not about Obama being a Kenyan, or African or Black, but it's nice. Kenya did declare a public holiday though in celebration but I guess it's not in the psyche of America to do the same. There is a Senator Beer popularly called Obama in Kenya already, and y'all know how much Kenyans like to drink that 'pombe'. This is truly a victory for everyone, Obama got the landslide victory he deserved. As he has run, now we (all) can fly. He wasn't just a celebrity, he was an inspiration. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We just don't need leaders who will ask for our votes so that they can fill a position. We need leaders who can believe in us and rally us on to be better. Like Barack Obama said - This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time.

PS: I wrote a couple of past articles about Obama, you can read them below, in case you missed them.
My thoughts on Obama, Obamamania and the 'hottest' son of an African
I don't know how to name this blog entry, but it's about Obama

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The war child 1.0 (poem)

I am praying for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo now and for peace before, during and after the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana. Below is a poem I wrote with a cousin about peace in 2004. It's been a while, I have to write something new.

He came mild
Into the wild
To be trained to be wild
Oh, poor child
Trekked here via
Freetown and Monrovia
But he ain’t free, you see
Found and bound by refugee
A child grows
To star in fiery shows
No room for a doze or pose
As death comes as close
The future has arrived
It arrived too early
The mantle is here alright
To fight already
Taken as freedom’s hire
Shaken by gunfire
Overtaken by rebels’ ire
Making justice the desire
Strong child of Adam
The hurt hurts some
And comes home to Buduburam
Together with the same some
We watch but we do not see
We look but we do not see
We stare as we drink tea
While bread is not free
He won it with a fight
This song would not last long
The child is at war with wrong
And we fail to see the right

Disqus for The Vim Views & Versions - Blogs of a MIghTy African