Monday, January 30, 2012

Fantastic Friday Again - February 17th, 2012

It's that time of year again when all of Trinbago is abuzz with Carnival excitement. Last night I finally got in on some of the action by watching the last half of the Soca Monarch semifinals and for those that managed to catch it, most agree, it was pretty weak. After nearly 47 face palms, this again appears to be a competition between Iwer George and Machel Montano; the rest were just filler. 

Another observation that seemed to be shared by many..........maybe we should just cancel Power this year. With the sudden, meteoric rise of Groovy Soca (thanks Kes/Kerwin/Benjai), artistes have apparently forgotten how to write Power songs. Throughout the night, crowd favourites were moving the masses not with power songs, but groovy ones and for those that elected to do both, their power options were decidedly weak by comparison. Machel didn't even sing a power song last night if I remember correctly; does that mean he's doing groovy only for the final? And with Bunji not even competing this year, what's the point. 

But I digress

Despite my quibbles, I'm never one to back down from a liming opportunity so come Fantastic Friday, I will be stream partying somewhere. This unfortunately is the only option for many of us "foreign-based" who are either unable to or cannot afford to travel. Stream limes have become our way of feeling like we're there. In years past, our options were either a crap feed from Ustream or pay USD$20 for a slightly less crappy but crap nonetheless stream from the official source. 

This year, the carnival streaming Gods appear to be merciful, thus permitting paid streams for USD 99 cents promising HD quality streams (I'll believe that when I see it).  

Go to for this streaming option. Otherwise, monitor Facebook and Twitter #WITArmy on the night for the inevitable Ustream/Livestream link or two. For the free vibes, I recommend you pay attention to Asylum Radio

Nothing is fool proof though so as usual, expect the typical stream failures as millions of Caribbean people around the world crush the internet for one night. At 99 cents, I also expect much more people to be jamming the paid sites as well. I really hope that after years of problems, that these folks really get their act together. By now we should have server farms rivaling the likes of Google, Apple, etc, capable of handling the expected traffic. 

With Caroni no longer in existence, I  know we can find some sugar cane land to throw down some damn servers. 

In any case, I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable carnival weekend whether it be live and in person, or vicariously over the web. 

D. T. J

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lingering Doubts - Still more

Clearly I still have an ax to grind as there are a few items I still haven't covered but once this is through, I promise, there will be no more hating on T&T, just positive vibes from here on out.

What is with all this peeing? 

Picture it, fresh off the plane, terminal walls all around me painted in pastels seemingly bland and uninviting. The a/c as though attempting to compete with the cold climate I'd just left behind, gives the airport a very cold yet welcoming feel. Then the doors open, the heat hits you, a lone mosquito finds its mark and then like a bat to the hits you:

"What the fuck is that smell?!"

I'd almost completely forgotten what piss smelled like. Thank you Trinidad and Tobago for that very vivid reminder. At first, I was confused, I couldn't figure it out, what could possibly be the source of this uniquely foul odour? I hadn't been home in something like 8 years and thus unfamiliar with what smelled unholy, like a mix of boiled pig tail,stale buljol and old goat roti.

It is very evident to me that we as a people, still have a very loose understanding of hygiene in public. Namely, it is still socially acceptable to relieve oneself when the feeling hits, whenever and wherever one so happens to be at that point in time. I am complaining but I'm clearly in no position to judge. I vividly recall using the "piss wall" back when Watercolours was in its heydey in the paddock, Queens Park Savannah. Sure there were port-a-potties but why waste time? I swear there had to be like 20 fellas at a time lined up peeing on the wall.

I'm a reformed pisser.

I am not the same person I was 15 years ago, I no longer relieve myself in public spaces (though I do indulge in some R Kelly-ing from time to time). I would like to enjoy my country without having to smell this funk. How can this even be civilized?

Though I suppose I could understand when the options include either pee on yourself or possible gang rape in a public toilet. Think seriously, can any of you even tell me where to find a public toilet in T&T? The ones I can think of are on beaches and those are not free. I think there is one on Independence Square and I believe one or two in the Savannah.......and guess what? They smell like pee too.

I think I'll go pee on the wall by Five Points Marta Station next week just to see what happens.

Anyways, I still have one or two more gripes that I won't articulate today. Look out for one or two more of these gripe fests before the month is up. Peace.

D. T. J

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fruit Frustration

You know, there are some things in this world that I just don't get: women, communism, grits, etc. Fine, so I don't know it all; I can live with that. But the one thing in this world that frustrates me to no end is fruit.

allow me to explain.......

I love fruit though sadly I don't eat nearly enough of it. As a part of my New Years Resolutions for 2012, I'd promised to adjust my diet (slightly) by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my daily routine. At home as most Caribbean people tend to be, I was a fruit fanatic; I'd practically suck a bucket of dous dous mangoes by myself. Silk fig? Yes please and not to mention pomerac, pommecythere, guava and my absolute favourite, the sapodilla.

But here's the thing about eating tropical fruits; they come with a handy dandy, colour-coded guide to freshness. See it's simple:

Green - not ripe
Brightly coloured  - ripe/ready to eat
Dark Brown - throw that shit away and/or cuss the fruitstand man.

This method is so fool-proof that we don't even use the term  "unripe" at home. All unripe fruit are simply referred to as "green." Can't make a good mango chow without green mango now can you? I'm sure there are many of you that won't go a week without green fig and buljol or green fig with stew chicken.

Smell it.......feel it up

And if you so happened to be colour-blind, you still had your senses of smell and touch to aid you. In most cases,  rock hard fruit with little to no scent was unripe, slightly firm but fragrant meant ripe and ready to eat, and lastly soft and squishy, runny and foul smelling again meant cuss the fruitstand man. Even if you couldn't tell by touch feel or smell, such as is the case with watermelon, we trinis developed an ingenious method of quality assurance, the vendor would just cut the damn thing to give you a taste.

I bet you all remember those little triangle-shaped wedges cut into the watermelons that your parents brought home.

But temperate climate fruits are an entirely different animal altogether. Even after living in the US damn near 10 years, I still have trouble telling the difference between ripe, unripe and spoiled when it comes to most fruits. Apples, plums (the american ones obviously), peaches etc are especially difficult for me. I just don't get it; whether an apple is unripe, ripe or long past spoiled, the colour never changes and neither does the firmness to be honest with you, not to me anyway. Plums are a favourite of mine but too often I come home with a bag of plums that all taste like ass. (you ass connoisseurs out there know what I'm talking about).

The Americans in my life say that I need to take the time to feel the minute differences in firmness. The fruit should be firm but should have a little "give" but not too much "give."


I won't be at Kroger molesting fruit anytime soon. Ya'll can forget that shit.

I seem to have had success with gala apples though so I think I'll be buying those exclusively from now on. Next week I'll try my hand at picking melons out.........cantaloupes and honey dew melons to be specific. Honestly I can't go wrong there I'm thinking, they taste the same no matter what state they're in.

I'll let you know how that goes. Later


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Country Christmas

I chose to do something different this year rather than the typical parang lime/trini Atlanta Christmas. Those close to me have probably heard the name pop up often as of late:


Lagrange...............go ahead, scratch your heads now.

I've always had a fondness for and an attraction to, small towns though I'm not sure I'd classify Lagrange as such; there is a mall after all.....with Macys (wow). Admittedly, I didn't spend much time exploring the City, having only discovered the town square my second trip down there. I was more enraptured by the small town charm and hospitality I experienced from my host family (whom for privacy sake we'll call the Richardsons). Having known me vicariously through their daughter over the past eight years, they welcomed me as a son, as though they'd known me all along.

And yes, you read that right, I said daughter. What, you think I'm crazy? Obviously I went out there behind some woman (we're just friends so relax people).

Where were we?

Oh right, Lagrange, bess Christmas.

From the time I got down there on Christmas Eve, I could tell I was onto something. I was barely out the car before the first Bacardi and Coke greeted me (my kind of people). I breached the kitchen and couldn't quite comprehend the sight before me; a whole chicken, seasoned and simmering nonchalantly in a pot on the stove.

"Times must be tough" I thought to myself, "Is boil chicken we eating?"

I came to find out later that all the meat was then combined with bread crumbs, etc then baked to create a chicken stuffing (or dressing as it's known in the south) for the turkey.........fucking brilliant. The chicken bones were then used to make a stock which in turn became chicken fucking gravy (somebody pinch me).

My home girl, no slouch in the kitchen herself, made a roast beef that I would eat off the floor. The beef was combined with potatoes and carrots then broiled in the oven on low heat for hours; it was like pus........erm.......heaven on a fork. The rest of the Christmas dinner itself included ham, turkey, turnip greens, broccoli and cheese pie and mac and cheese.

Oh and Mr. Richardson brought out his "pepper sauce" though it's not quite what you think; nothing like what we Caribbean folk call pepper sauce. This was literally pickled, whole jalapeno peppers in a jar. You'd pour the pickle juice on your greens then chomp on a whole pepper for added effect. Dessert was red velvet cake and homemade cheese cake which had a bit of a lime flavour to it.

So believe it or not, I actually managed a Christmas without pastelles, black cake, ponche a creme or ginger beer, no ham and chau chau, no bake and buljol, but as you can tell, I had a pretty good time with great people, and if they'll have me, I'll do it again.

Special mention goes out to Stax and Gabby for hosting the pre-Christmas potluck that set the standard for the rest of the holiday..........I had not consumed that much alcohol in such a short span of time, in a very very long time. Whoever made the pelau, please know that you are a master of your craft, and may virgins worship at your feet. A word of mention also to Mr. and Mrs. Quamina for hands down, the best Christmas house party I have ever been to (seriously).

And with that, I will leave you all with just two words............RUM BALLS     (again, ask Stax).

Lingering Doubts - Creature Comforts

As I continue to struggle with this whole "moving back home" concept, having recently been home, I'm more aware of some of the things I'd be giving up, like affordable yet fast and reliable internet, paved roads, electronic road info signs.......and Strokers (of course).

Yeah I have a skybox here in the States but it's known by another name: "mailbox." Maybe you've heard the phrase before? Call me spoiled but I am so used to $3.99 overnight shipping with my Amazon Prime, I'm not sure I can give that up. You order it today, it's here tomorrow, no extra freight charges to calculate, no duty fees to worry about.

Jesus, why is this file so big?! Four gigs to download?! This shit will take all week. Oh wait, no it won't; at least not with Comcast pumping 22mbps of blazing fast internet into the apartment.One night I caught up on 6 months worth of PSN (that's Playstation Network for some of you) content, downloading upwards of 20 Gbs in one night. Not even a burp from Comcast, not with their 250 Gb per month download limit. There isn't enough porn in this world to bring me close to that limit each month.

And when I'm on the road and need to connect, Comcast (via Sprint I believe) 3G mobile mifi device. 4G is it now but I couldn't justify the extra cost, not when my phone turns into a 4G hotspot  for free (thank you T-mobile). With the ability to connect up to 5 devices per mifi, the car often becomes a rolling hotspot. Basically anybody riding with me, with a laptop, tablet, iPad, PSP, Nook, Kindle Fire, etc, can get a connection from me (maybe I should start charging). Road trips with uncle Dwayne become fun all of a sudden with Netflix streaming direct to the car. No more watching Finding Nemo 10 times on a Miami run.

and speaking of roadtrips............
I'm still waiting on the powers that be to invent a GPS device that will find Sauce doubles in Curepe Junction, the Original Souse King in El Soccoro, then plot me a course from Las Cuevas to the Pitch Lake, detouring through Penal, all while showing me live traffic along the route. Exactly......doesn't exist. We all know somebody driving a foreign used (abused?) car with a "GPS" unit in the dash. The car typically has no clue as to where it is; driving along the foreshore, a quick glance of the screen and you'd swear you were in Okinawa, Japan. It's almost like T&T exists geographically in one hell of a satellite blind spot.

What do I rely on when lost? Nothing fancy......only my Garmin Nuvi 1690 with NuLink!. NuLink!, I suspect, is just Garmin-speak for Google: Frankly I don't understand why Garmin just doesn't put this shit on everything they make (shoot, we put Lil' Wayne on practically everything, why not NuLunk!?). There are a few features available which frankly, I never really use (flight times, gas prices, movie times, etc)

But the real draw is the glorious 3G cellular chip in the 1690 that allows me to do Google local search by tapping into AT&T's mobile network.I self guided myself through Pittsburgh, Tallahassee and many other cities as though I was from there. Which would you rely on? Your 4 year old "never been updated since you bought it" GPS? Or would you rather a GPS with up to the minute information thanks to Google?

And if all else fails, I still have Google Maps on my phone to guide me when in a pinch.

I'm not trying to make T&T out to be this backwater, caveman society. To be fair, many of these things I enjoy are quickly creeping into the country............but not not nearly quickly enough. Another problem I have is that when advanced products and services do make it home, they're sometimes sub-par, low quality yet ridiculously overpriced.

Trinidad and Tobago is my land, the land of my birth, the land of my ancestors (give or take a generation or two), and arguably speaking, it's where I belong..........but not without my hi speed internet connection.

Fawk Dat

I have a few more but check back with me next week for those.