Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kool Runnings......they're back.

Institution - 

 "a custom, practice, relationship, behavioral pattern or organization of importance in the life of a community or society."

By this definition alone I think I could safely declare Kool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant an Atlanta institution. Hated by some, beloved by most, their ubiquitous Stone Mountain location has been a fixture on Memorial Drive for 19 years. With 24 hour service on weekends, Kool Runnings was effectively the Waffle House of Caribbean establishments serving ox tail, jerk chicken, curry goat, escovitch fish and more to weary party goers in the wee hours.  

It was my custom after a long night at 426, Atrium, Party Room or Pisces to stop in for a large ox tail, rice an peas, fry dumplin with extra gravy (my rice should be swimming). Food that heavy would deliver a quick and decisive dose of sober for the inevitable dash down po po alley (Memorial Drive). 

But 19 years of serving the Stone Mountain community came to an end with little warning this past May when hungry party goers pulled into the gravely parking lot to find the brightly coloured building boarded up with only a vague and oddly chilling sign alluding to its fate. 

Where in the world was I going to get good stew oxtail now? My mother's is arguably the best but flying home each time isn't practical. Some would say Island Cafe just down the street but I hadn't ever been a fan of their food to begin with, I wasn't about to start eating there just because my favourite spot was gone.  

I went without brown stew kingfish or my beloved stew oxtail for several months till one day in September, I happened to be driving through Norcross on my way home. While cutting through a strip mall parking lot to circumvent a particularly pesky traffic light, I happened to randomly run in to.........

Oxtail Nirvana
 Holy shit.......

I walked in the door, bent down on my knees and kissed the floor. The owners later told me people had been doing the same thing all week, they'd had no idea how much the brand had meant to Atlantan islanders.

In this notoriously fickle city, the establishment represented belonging, it demonstrated that we islanders had established ourselves as permanent fixtures in this southern community and that when all else failed, we could always return here for a little taste of home.

But why Norcross? Why so far from Caribbean ground zero? I never quite got a straight answer but it didn't matter. In the week since they'd re-opened their doors, practically all their fans had found them and business was booming. Let's hope we'll see the brand around for another 19 years because seriously, my blood pressure won't allow for another closing.


Kool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant

5450 Peachtree Parkway

Norcross, GA 30092


Monday, November 25, 2013

Northern Sympathizer

Having lived in the south the past decade, I'd developed an interest in American Civil War history. Ken Burns' exceptional and very thorough presentation of the war in his documentary "The Civil War," really sparked my interest in the Antebellum era. One would be hard pressed not to find a Confederate flag or two still flying on many a southern front porch, and every other southerner seems to have a great grandpappy that lost a leg fighting "dem damn Yankees."

At some point, my curiosity could no longer be sated by history books or wikipedia, I needed more. So I started seeking out and attending civil war battle reenactments. 

But my interest and enthusiasm for this part of American history has put me at odds with many of my African American peers, which is understandable considering the race-based circumstances that brought about the war. Let's face facts, the war was about slavery. Many would argue states rights till blue in the face but seriously, what states rights were they fighting for exactly? Correct, the right to enslave another race. This unfortunate misunderstanding really just boiled down to "we keep our negroes or we're seceding from the Union" (but we all know how well that worked out). 

Truth be told, as much enthusiasm as I have for the Civil War, I have been unable to stomach the historical depictions of slavery I encounter. Many civil war-centric museums feature a slavery exhibit.....I skip those every time. I can withstand the sight of the thousands of dead at notable battles like Manassas, Bull Run, Antietam, Vicksburg,  Gettysburg, etc. The death and destruction depicted on such a grand scale leave me in awe. But show me one shackled negro and I'm sickened to my very core. 

The War was brutal but such brutality can be expected, such is the nature of war. Slavery was no war, but it was brutal nonetheless and I can never reconcile with that.

(You don't believe slavery was brutal? Try sitting through "12 Years A Slave" without flinching). 

But the more I try to keep slavery and the war separated mentally, the more people seem to enforce the connection. For instance, you won't often see many of "us" at battle reenactments, so when I show up I tend to become a bit of a novelty. I often get approached with all sorts of interesting facts and tidbits. 

During one trip to the Battle of Tunnel Hill, I found myself touring the museum after the battle. A gentleman approached me and said he knew of a civil war site not twenty miles from Tunnel Hill that he was sure I'd be interested in. It was Fort Hill, supposedly the only battle site in Georgia that featured "coloured troops" (yes he said coloured). 

On another occasion, I got invited to a reenactment at Ft. Wagner which you may or may not remember as the fort from the end of the movie Glory......(SPOILER ALERT), the battle where they pretty much killed the entire black regiment. 

So yes, my racial identity does often clash with my Civil War enthusiasm but so far I've been able to keep the two halves of me separate. I intend to continue going to the different battles and you all should expect to see those stories popping up from time to time. I'll soon determine a way to deal with the emotional toll, I'm sure of it. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I haven't been writing for 4 months so bear with me please................

Every society has certain social norms that are unique to them. In especially cosmopolitan areas such as New York City for instance, the dense mix of cultures, nationalities, and religious beliefs meld together to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Trinbago's dense mix of races and cultures combined with its geographic isolation as an island has also created something special. It's hard to miss the trini in any setting, whether black, white, east indian, asian, syrian, etc, we project a national identity that transcends that of our racial makeup. But to say that racial identity has been lost within Trinbago society would be misleading. With few exceptions, each ethnic group has been free to practice and promote their own histories, cultures, religious and culinary traditions.

Which brings me to today's discussion. Despite the trini national identity that we love to tout, some habits had historically been (notice I said "had") race specific. Sailing, deep sea fishing, watersports, etc.......Westmoorings folk. Sea bath, beating pan.....afro-trinis.

River lime, curry duck.......take a wild guess.

During a recent conversation with an old friend (whom I previously thought to be) an indo-Trinbagonian, the topic of doing a river lime here in Atlanta came up. Naturally I offered to buy the duck, to which he responded with five words I didn't understand:

" I don't like curry duck." 

"because meh hair straight and ah look dougla yuh figure I must have curry duck to lime?"

It occurred to me right then that trinbago culture was greater than the sum of its parts. It is part of the reason why the indo-trini or afro-trini don't exist, why Holi is celebrated by all, or why each trini family has their own Divali tradition, why an African would be equally at home beating a tassa drum as he would the congo and why (incidentally) an East Indian would be entirely free to skip the curry duck at a river lime. (despite how foreign a concept this may seem in my mind).

It's because we barely have a race culture anymore (despite what our politics might portray). It's because rather than being indo-trini or afro-trini, etc, we very proudly proclaim TRINI.....unabridged, undiluted, unadulterated Trinbagonian.


P.S. I've yet to determine the exact race of this dougla-looking bredren of mine. I'm convinced he's pulling my leg but now I'm not so sure.

This circumstance isn't isolated at all, I have another friend I'd assumed to be black till the day she showed me her great grandmother's original indentureship card. Sensing confusion, she also produced the travel documents for said grandmother's trip aboard the S.S. Ganges' last trip to Trinidad in 1917.

The S.S. Ganges as you might imagine, did not make a stop anywhere on Africa's West Coast during that time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Identity Challenged

As is customary whenever I hear a Caribbean-ish accent nearby, I always enquire.

"Whey yuh from boss?"

The responses vary from the common, "yard" (Jamaica if you didn't know), V.I., Guyana, Grenada, etc, to the not  so frequent, Bahamas, Bermuda, Tortola, among others.

The conversations then typically follow the inter-island communication template:
  1. How long you been here?
  2. Why'd you leave home? 
  3. Married? Pickney?
  4. Work?
The most recent exchange was a youth at the gym, a Bahamian (rare in Atlanta); but the conversation didn't quite go as expected. When he enquired about my home island, my response of course was "I'm a trini." His next question threw me:

Are you actually from Trinidad or are you really Tobagonian? O_O 

I don't think I've ever, had that question posed to me before.....good one buddy. 

It's been years since last I pondered the issue. I've always been aware of certain, subtle differences between both islands but have always tried to focus on my identity from a national perspective. When asked, I'm not Trinidadian or Tobagonian, but simply, Trinbagonian. 

But that mindset just ignores the very real fact that we are very different peoples. But how does one identify as Trinidadian or Tobagonian really? There are a few key areas, that we differ: language, culture, racial mix, culinary traditions and the urban/rural spread just to name a few.

To anyone paying attention, the most obvious difference is the accent. Yes, Tobagonians sound slightly different. Though it is not always noticeable, there is a bit of an accent, especially when speaking to someone from the back country, places like Speyside and Parlatuvier. 

Because the island's history differs from that of Trinidad, Tobagonians also have a much different cultural identity from that of their larger island neighbour. Tobagonians seem to impart cultural norms that closely mirror African traditions but things like goat racing during Easter weekend are uniquely their own. A heavy emphasis on African-inspired cultural traditions also gives an idea of the primary racial make-up of  the island which unlike Trinidad, is predominantly black.  

Which brings me to my next point. I used to think I was dark-skinned; all that changed when I met a black Tobagonian. I've been sunburned before, and even then, I wasn't anywhere near as dark as the rich, inky black hues prevalent on the island. You only think you're black.....gawd damn.

Why the lack of racial diversity you ask? You'd have to look into the island's history. Indentured labour programs post the abolition of slavery, led to a very diverse mix of races and cultures in Trinidad. Indentureship skipped Tobago entirely and as such, the island remained populated primarily by descendants of the island's original African slaves (hence the heavy influence of African traditions on all aspects of Tobagonian society). 

Even their food is unique. While they do cook very much the same foods as we do in Trinidad, there are a few important differences. The trini version of dumplings for instance, is a light, yet firm boiled flour concoction. Tobago dumplings on the other hand are tough enough to bring down an aircraft when thrown but you haven't lived till you've eaten a plate of Tobago crab and dumpling. 

To me, their variations on everything I've grown up eating, from pelau to ground provisions and stew chicken, has always been heavier, more flavourful and much more intense. This is probably why one may often hear Tobagonians referring to trini foods as flat or bland. 

But the intensity of their culinary traditions is tempered only by the general laid back nature of their people. Unlike the very urban and considerably more developed (by developing nation standards) western neighbour, Tobago is considerably more rural. Even in the capital, it isn't uncommon to see goats tied up on roadways and front yards. Their pace of life is significantly slower than the frenzied, party-crazed trinis across the way and Tobago will probably always remain the place, trinis go to relax. 

Yup, so whilst I haven't thought through these things in a while, Tobago does have its own unique identity but make no mistake, when asked where I come from, my response will always be Trinidad AND Tobago.

D.Trini J.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Etowah Indian Mounds

Most of my galavanting throughout Georgia is typically planned long in advance. By the time I actually make it to a venue, it's only because I'd already done my research weeks prior, read the brochures, perused the websites, etc. But every now and then, I experience something new completely by chance.
Two statues discovered on site. 
As it happens, I found myself in Cartersville one Saturday morning, assisting a friend. The town most often associated with the Tellus Science Museum (sorta like Fernbank, just impractically far away), had the feeling of a quiet little hick town that had been pulled suddenly into the 21st Century.

I'd really planned on driving out there, quickly doing what I'd been asked to do and immediately driving back but, an experienced knock-about-ist myself, my brain is constantly on the lookout for those handy, brown-coloured highway markers, the tell tale signs of nearby intrigue.

It was these same highway markers that pointed me in the direction of the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, 54 acres of land that were once home to several thousand Native Americans for more than 500 years.

Established sometime in 1000 AD, it's believed (hopefully through some very thorough archaeological investigation) that the site was actively used until sometime in 1550, coincidentally not long after the coming of the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions as to what happened then.

Etowah is largely regarded as the largest intact example of Mississippian culture anywhere in the south east. The Mississippians being a prehistoric indigenous Native American culture pre-dating the Cherokee and Muskogee (Creek) Indians who came centuries later. I'd visited Rock Eagle Effigy earlier which is thought to be at least 1000 years older than Etowah and built by yet another group of prehistoric Indians (the Woodland Indians).

 There are supposedly six mounds on the site, only three of which I could actually see. The first, creatively named Mound A, the largest of the three, most likely where the chief or high priest lived. Mound B possibly housed a lesser noble and the third and much smaller Mound C was a burial mound.

Standing 63 feet high, the primary mound is the prehistoric equivalent of a modern day 6-story building, made entirely of packed Georgia red clay.

Mound A as seen from the defensive ditch. 
The other two mounds are smaller by comparison but no less important especially mound C, the burial mound where most of the artifacts housed at the nearby museum were uncovered. It's also interesting to note by the way, that only the first two mounds are original. The burial mound had been completely excavated down to its base and had to be rebuilt by volunteers. Including the work done at the burial mound, only nine percent of the entire 54 acre site has been excavated.

It is very often said that you can tell a lot about a society by how they treat their dead. As such, most of what is known about the site's former residents was discovered at the burial mound. It is here too at Mound C, that archaeologists uncovered the two 125 pound stone statues presently housed at the museum (see pic above).

The Etowah Historic Site is definitely worth a visit. Apart from the mounds, the site features a stone weir/fish trap built in the nearby Etowah River, a 10 foot deep trench built either for defense or for mound building raw materials, and a thatch hut painstakingly rebuilt by volunteers. Nature trails and a museum filled with artifacts round out this unmistakably rewarding experience.  

Personally, I think the true value of Etowah is in being able to see, feel and experience the works of ancient peoples in the very places they lived their lives. The fact that the fish traps in particular are still here today still blows my mind. It's a bit of a drive, but I highly recommend taking some time to go see this place.


Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site
813 Indian Mounds Road, S.W.
Cartersville, GA 30120

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sea bath

To this displaced trini, Summer means only one thing, salt, and lots of it. My island heritage practically demands that I soak in sea water twice a month; this temperate Georgia climate and its geographic isolation however, make such goals a tad bit difficult to achieve.

Panama City Beach, Florida
The nearest body of salt water to Atlanta is the Atlantic Ocean via Savannah, Georgia; a four hour drive away.

Imagine having to drive 4 hours each time you wanted Richards.

Or perhaps only being allowed to go Maracas 6 months out of any given year....exactly, you'd kill yourself. 

Better yet, imagine a world where the only "beaches" within an hour's drive, were man-made beaches, on freshwater, man-made lakes with trucked in beach sand......unreal.

But this is the world we Atlanta-based trinis endure. I take it you noticed I said the nearest beach is 4 hours away. Notice I didn't say nearest "good" beach. 

As popular as Savannah's Tybee Island is among Georgia residents, it's waters are a cloudy green, brackish brown, similar to taking a sea bath in Icacos or Guayaguyare, with nearly as much driving, just without the bad roads. 

For Store Bay-esque beaches, one needs to leave Georgia entirely and venture further south. Miami predictably is Florida's most popular beach, but is easily a ten hour drive away (3 fill-ups in each direction.....hell no). For Atlantans, the pleasures or north-west Florida and coastal Alabama are only 5 to 7 hours drive away.

 Panama City Beach is tops on my list of absolute favourite beaches. With the right combination of distance (1 tank),  drive time (4.5 hours) and a varied mix of additional things to do, PCB as it's affectionately known, can't be beat.

Destin, Florida.......heaven on earth. 
The list is extensive: deep sea fishing, parasailing, mini golf, water park, Gulf World (think SeaWorld), theme park rides, go-carting, and of course just simply laying on the beach.

For all these reasons, it's practically impossible to get a room there during the Summer, not unless you plan on spending the rent money on two nights. 

Another popular beach option for Atlanta residents is Destin, another hour west of PCB. Unlike Panama City which I do every Summer, this was my first trip to Destin. Amenities abound as the city offers nearly as broad a range of activities as Panama City but also includes an outlet shopping plaza (because on occasion I do vacation with women) and calmer, far more pristine waters than I'd ever seen at PCB. Honestly, the water was so clear I could see each of my toes wiggling on the sandy bottom in 4 feet of water.

It's a pity that Caribbean expats are forced to travel so great a distance for a commodity that most of us lived barely 30 minutes from. But this is the life we've chosen and as such, can't justify complaining about. Honestly, to make this really work, all that's needed now is a decent bake and shark, two doubles vendors and a parlour on a corner and it'll be just like home.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Suitcase Saga

Believe me when I tell you, I will NEVER lend another suitcase to anyone as long as I live. that that's out of the way.

The saga begins 11 years ago when I'd first moved to the US. The summer of 2002 was fraught with anticipation as after 20 years living in Trinidad, I was moving away. That anticipation was tempered a bit when I'd started packing bags. I'm not entirely sure who to blame for this, perhaps bwee baggage handlers, but let's just say that after years of  travelling, my hand-me-down suitcases had long since seen their better days.

Putting it lightly, I boldly set foot in the US brandishing a pair of suitcases that looked like they'd survived Vietnam.....barely. Needless to say, I tossed the offensive things the instant I got settled in. Fast forward to the summer of 2004, armed with my first real pay cheque, I purchased a matching 5-piece set of Ricardo Beverly Hills suitcases and travel bags.

No more ugly suitcases, no more rolling behemoths, never again would I be the one at the carousel too embarrassed to acknowledge his own bags.............but I got maybe one good trip in before the dotishness started.

In 2007 my parents came to visit but before I continue, let me explain something. There is this pervasive thought among trinidadians that nothing either made in Trinidad or available for purchase in Trinidad, is of any worth and as such every effort must be made to buy things in the US when possible.

I'm sure you've seen this with visiting relatives when they come to visit; what do they spend their entire trip doing? SHOPPING.......and they shop like there's no tomorrow. And not regular shopping either, they buy everything: Pringles, Snickers, Chex Mix, Planters peanuts, etc. Then they zone out on appliances, stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, etc. You know what else trinbagonians seem to like go crazy for? Underwear. I swear more Hanes leave this country in the bags of islanders than most would care to admit.

So yes, summer of 2007, my parents came to visit and by the end of their trip, had amassed a volume of shopping bags the size of a small hill. Now let's do the math, two adult airline travelers, two checked bags a piece is 4 checked bags; bags that were already filled to capacity when their trip began. So what exactly was the plan for getting all the junk back home?

Precisely........ one my sexy, brand spanking new, Ricardo Beverly Hills suitcases.

The promise to speedily return my beloved traveling bag didn't do much to assuage my concerns but I figured heck, it's my parents right, how bad could it get? They returned it alright, or rather they returned with it the following year on a subsequent trip, and packed it right back up and took it back home with them a second time. By the following year I was beginning to hear "what suitcase?" and was then forced to borrow an ugly, beat up suitcase the next time I traveled. I never saw my beloved traveling bag ever again. I almost lost another bag that a sibling managed to misplace for two years before randomly running into it somewhere.

So guess what, going forward, anyone needing to borrow a suitcase from me, tough shit, I'm not lending any out, find a Walmart.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Where the heck is my........

One fine Sunday afternoon, I found myself at the Hartsfield Jackson International airport in Atlanta, giving a friend a lift. She'd spent the weekend in Atlanta, having flown here to celebrate her birthday with friends. As she hopped out of the car, I noticed something on the floor where she'd been sitting; some leather-backed cleaning pads I usually keep in the glove compartment.

Why would they be on the......never mind.

Hugs and kisses later, I'd said my goodbyes and departed the airport on my way home. Good and comfortable on the I-85, I remember taking a moment to put the cleaning pads away where they should have been in the first place. But in the few moments it took to open and close the glove box, something didn't look right.

Where the heck had my cheque book run off to (that would be checkbook you American readers)? Odd, my sunglasses were missing too....WTF?!  Mother of God, where's my GPS?!

At this point, I did a quick window check, none broken yet someone has obviously broken in. Come to think of it, the car was locked when I'd opened it that morning. Why exactly is shit missing from my................ooooooh, the mutha fuckin valets, gawd damn.

As it turned out, my friend had stayed at the W Hotel Downtown Atlanta during her weekend in Atlanta. Saturday evening, I'd parked the car over there, one of those asshole valets fleeced the car while it was parked (and had the nerve to charge me $10 plus tip for my trouble). There were no obvious signs of forced entry, no broken windows or anything of that nature and as had been my custom, I hadn't left anything visible in the vehicle or on the seats that would tempt someone to break in. These fools clearly had time to sit in the car at their leisure looking for shit to take, very neatly replacing the shit they didn't want.

As a trinidadian, I'd never quite warmed up to the concept of valet parking, I've always seen it as an unnecessary and annoying burden that we as trinbagonians don't have to deal with back home. What exactly is so wrong with my hands? What's the problem that prevents me from parking my own car? Learning to drive on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain was a harrowing enough experience that I think I've very fairly earned MY right to park MY own the right to not hand a total stranger the keys to my hard earned investment.

I like the concept even less when I'm given no choice but to use valet service; at the W, it was either valet parking or valet parking. The option to park your own vehicle simply wasn't available, you either use the valet or find somewhere to park down the street. Don't get me wrong, some people see this as a valuable service and I'm okay with that; I'm just not okay when I'm not given a choice in the matter.

When I pull up, point me in the direction of the nearest parking deck, I can drive. I did a pretty decent job getting the car this far buddy, I'm willing to bet that I know how to park. I don't need anyone else parking my chariot nor should I be forced to allow a total stranger to drive (and subsequently rifle through) my shit.

It's funny that with all the Bentleys, Aston Martins and Rolls Royce Phantoms parked outside the hotel, someone would pick the lowly '04 Honda Accord to steal from. Lesson learned, I'll be using the special valet key from now on whenever the car gets serviced or I'm forced to use the valet car park bandit services.

Anyways, rant dun, I out.


Southeastern Railway Museum

What do folks think of most often when Atlanta comes to mind? The Georgia Aquarium probably or World of Coca Cola. Stone Mountain Park is undeniably an Atlanta institution and what would the City be like without  Six Flags Over Georgia......and of course there's Atlanta traffic (sigh) which at this point, probably requires a state site designation of its own.

I love living here because of the very broad range of things to do. Even more so, I appreciate Georgia because of its wealth of important historical sites and parks, the state having played host to innumerable major events throughout history from the time of ancient indian civilizations, through the American Civil War and more recently the civil rights movement.

The Civil War era in particular oversaw Atlanta's rise to dominance as the industrial, economic, political (no disrespect Richmond) and transportation heart of the Confederate States of Americal, making the city an important strategic target for federal troops. The transportation aspect of the city's past is my focus today.

It's hard to believe that with the horrendous traffic conditions we endure each day, that Atlanta had once been so important to every major railroad in the south. The city itself had streetcars, railroad access to various cities throughout the region and seemed to be a testament to successful, transit-minded urban planning. Fast forward 150 years, what the heck happened?

Looks like a character from a Disney/Pixar movie
Tucked away in one quiet little corner of Duluth, GA, is the Southeastern Railway Museum, supposedly Georgia's official transportation history museum (which is interesting because I really don't know anyone who's even heard of the place). One must cross an active rail line then down a gravel driveway to get in but once in there, you are immediately transported back in time.

Almost the first thing you notice is how loud the place is with freight trains going by all the time, and the museum's own tour train blasting a warning every so often.

You get a real sense of history not only though the sights, but the smells as well. The WWII era Army car seemed to smell faintly of gun powder, munitions and terrible food, the older 1920's passenger cars had a grit and a worn look to them that gave you a real sense of just how old they really were. I half expected to see a train robber on horseback from the heady days of the wild west.

I honestly couldn't have asked for a better place to visit, a venue that appealed to both my affinity for history, and the masculine need for heavy equipment and raw power. I found a broad range of exhibits covering not just rail history, but transportation in general (excluding aviation), featuring buses and taxi cabs from the fifties and sixties as well as early 1920s farm equipment, tractors, etc. The older buses  on display gave me an uneasy feeling as I considered the era they were from and the civil rights struggles they'd come to symbolize.

The stars of the show of course were the steam locomotives from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I was able to get up close to one in particular that almost felt like I was standing on a two-story building. You can never fully appreciate the true size of these behemoths till you see one in person.

I suppose it wouldn't be much of a train museum if you couldn't ride one right? My sentiments exactly. Thankfully for just a few dollars more, you do have the option of a 15 minute ride in full-sized caboose and there is even a mini-train for the kids. If like me, you have even a passing fascination with history and large mechanical objects, Southeastern might be worth a visit.

This photo does not do this locomotive any justice, it's far grander in person.

Southeastern Railway Museum
3595 Buford Hwy
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 476-2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Careful out there folks

So someone drowned this weekend at Panama City Beach barely a half mile from where we spent our day.

I make mention of this not only because of the obvious tragedy, but also because I remember thinking to myself how dangerous the water conditions were when I first got there.

And just to confirm my own suspicions, the flags prominently posted at each beach entry point clearly indicated "double caution".......i.e. SWIMMING GENERALLY PROHIBITED. There were two flags on the same pole, a red flag with a swimmer crossed out, and an orange flag. It doesn't take a Harvard degree to realize that those flags mean no swimming. Recreation authorities even went as far as to fly a plane up and down the coastline dragging a "Stay Out Of The Water!!!" sign behind it.

And even if you felt like the warnings weren't serious enough to warrant attention, one step into the gulf should have been convincing enough. The rip currents were horrendous and there was a serious undertow. I consider myself a competent swimmer and even I found myself in trouble at times, and in positions that caused my heart to skip a few beats.

I clearly had to keep more than just an eye on this "Mr. Thinks He's A Fish" son of mine.

So yeah, I'm not surprised at all that somebody drowned; it was a sobering end to an otherwise fantastic weekend. I'm sorry it happened, but I'm glad it didn't happen to any of mine. We as adults all saw the warnings, we all made conscious decisions to ignore those warnings and in the end someone paid for it.

May he rest in peace.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Post Carnival Recap - Part 2 (Holy Shit Sunday)

(yes I realize this is more than a month bad) 

Sunday May 26th I decided I was going to sleep in because shit, I'm not a facking cyborg, I'd been partying since Thursday, fuck.

I mean think about it, I'd seen Bunji at Anti-Stush on Thursday, went to GBM Showcase Friday night, spent most of Saturday at the parade and Carnival Village then went straight to Kooler Fete. Somewhere along the line, I had developed a pressing and very compelling need to sleep. 

As a result I was a no-show at Sunday Morning Breakfast Fete and Unity Festival but hey, shit happens. On the plus side, I'd gained enough rest to prepare me for an epic final night of partying. On the schedule was Peachfest with Machel and Mr. Vegas, Wear White and one or two breakfast parties to choose from. 

Peachfest - Machel Montano, Farmer Nappy, Mr. Vegas, Burning Flames, Talpree, Edwin Yearwood, Pumpa, Lavaman..........all for $45?! Stop playing.

The fete was good, Machel is one hell of a performer, Mr. Vegas did his thing too. As a matter of fact, the quality of this one singular event brought into stark relief, the blatant failings of just about every other party I'd been to up to that point. Yes the lines were long, yes half the advertised artistes didn't perform and for all that is good and holy in this world, why do they keep cutting Machel's performances short? It would help if concerts of this calibre are held outside the geographical boundaries of the City of Atlanta and it's infuriating laws that prevent partying past breakfast. (3:00 a.m. actually)

But aside from the usual complaints, Peachfest was an otherwise very well organized and extremely well produced concert (*cough by Caribbean standards of *cough course). Apart from the main bar, there were mini-bars spread throughout the venue negating the need to backtrack too far for libations. The sound set-up was top notch so either the building's acoustics were spot on or the sound engineer was a magician; no complaints to be had about faulty microphones or odd sounding speakers. 

pictured.........a complete, total lack of giving a fuck. 
But all good things must come to an end, by 4 a.m. security busied themselves kicking our collective asses out the building. Thank goodness Wear White was still jumping and folks still had a good hour and thirty minutes to jam until even the white party had to shut down. But it's at this point, I tent to admire the resilience of my Caribbean people and their determination to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment from a circumstance.

Determined to not let a party end without a fight, some enterprising young ladies pulled up in the car park outside Golden Glide (where Wear White was held), turned up some soca, somebody whipped out a conch shell, an iron somehow found it's way and before long, Wear White - The Parking Lot Edition, was in full effect. I mean people were out there jamming HARD. I've come to learn that we Caribbean people have no behaviour when alcohol and soca is involved.

Believe it or not, even after the after after party, the crew still managed to make it to a 3rd fete that night morning.

Atlanta 2013 from a strictly partying perspective, was one of the best years I've experienced so far. For the first time in memory, Atlanta played host to most of the biggest names in soca helping to firmly establish the city as a viable carnival destination.

Atlanta 2013 from a festival perspective, left much to be desired. The band leaders association needs to get its act together and figure out what isn't working. The issues with the parade route, the worrying conditions at the Carnival Village, the crappy official Carnival events that nobody went to, the lost 501(c)3 non-profit status, the unpaid prize monies.....get it together guys.

Though Atlanta has improved, it has a long way to go before it can truly be compared to the likes of Miami or New York but I'm proud to say we seem to be moving in the right direction.

DTJ out.....peace.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Post Carnival Recap - Part 1

I suppose I am a little late with this recap but cut a brother some slack, I'd been partying non-stop 4 days straight.

WOW what an experience. Atlanta Carnival 2013 met and greatly exceeded my expectations from Cooler Fete through breakfast fete on Memorial Day, I definitely had a blast. It wasn't all fun and games of course, I did have a few gripes and quibbles here and there but nothing major.

I started partying from the Thursday night, having taken Thursday and Friday off work. My first fete was Anti-Stush with Bunji Garlin. For all intents and purposes, it was a great, damn good fete and Bunji had that crowd going from start to finish. You know what wasn't so great? The flipping sound system. How hard is it to do a sound check BEFORE an event? Maybe we'd learn a few things like "the microphone volume is low" or  "why is the music way louder than the mic?"........I'm just saying, maybe we'll be able to actually hear the artiste sing next time. It was even worse at the Blaxx fete but more on that later.

Also, Atlanta does not have a sizeable enough, active Caribbean community to adequately support multiple fetes with multiple artistes on the same night. So Anti-stush had a decent turnout but the place certainly wasn't packed, you know why? Because somebody decided Destra needed her own fete the very same night. Yes there's a lot of politics in party promoting especially here in Atlanta but for the love of Christ it would be nice if soca lovers only had one fete to go to see their favourite acts on any given night.

The same thing happened the very next night and soca lovers were forced to choose between either Kes/Shal/TC/Ravi B  in one fete or Iwer, Cassie and Lyrikal in another. Imagine how bess Friday night would have been if we'd had a Iwer, Kes, Cassie, Shal, TC, Ravi B and Lyrikal fete.......oh well.

Kes was good, don't get me wrong, but in this day and age, why is it still impossible for big artistes like Kes and Bunji to fill venues in Atlanta? The people who brought Machel seemed to have figured it out because gawd damn that place was packed. One show, multiple major artistes, no other competing RAM.

Saturday May 25th of course was the day of the parade itself. Masqueraders and spectators alike enjoyed themselves tremendously and with the exception of one overzealous police officer "catching a whif" of some weed, the event mostly went off without a hitch. My son and I hooked up with a riddim section coming across MLK and we had a ball. As anticipated, parking was a bitch and the traffic snarl around the parade route was biblical. I hope people took the train, I sure did.

Truth be told, I had a few misgivings about the new venue which I've chosen to discuss here:

Saturday night after the parade (and after more than a couple Red Bulls) I managed to make it to the second Kooler Fete featuring Blaxx. I talked about the problems with the sound system at the Bunji fete earlier. It was worse at the Blaxx show; it's almost like they learned nothing from Thursday night. Further compounding the problem, this was an indoor/outdoor party, and if you'd suffered the misfortune of setting up your cooler in the outdoor area, you had to deal with the outdoor speakers tripping on and off at random. After a while, the outdoor speakers went off entirely and never bothered to come back on so either way, it was a shitty situation all round.

To make matters worse,  the deejay didn't seem to have any of Blaxx's music. So when the big man himself came on stage to perform, the deejay seemed to have two or three of the man's songs on hand. Blaxx was calling for chunes, and the dummy would drop a Machel or a Bunji or some other fuckery. Eventually Blaxx  had to ignore the deejay entirely and started singing acapella.....bad, bad, bad, bad. I was shaking my head through the entire performance.

In case you're wondering, the Bunji and the Blaxx fetes were both held at Karibbean Konnection. The folks that run the place clearly need to do better with setting up the sound system correctly and hiring proper deejays. Needless to say, I came away from this particular fete with a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

I'm going to cut this short here or this post would end up being too tedious to read, I'll come back with a recap part 2 in a day or two.

Until then, hol it down, doh rape it.......... :)


Carnival Village Shenanigans

I had some mixed feelings about the new venue for the Atlanta Carnival Village. For years, the Village had been located on Fort Street between Edgewood Avenue and Auburn Avenue, in the area alongside and beneath the Interstate I-75/85. Fort Street itself was perfect as it allowed for multiple points of entry and provided a long, wide route for bands to organize themselves and a wonderful viewing point for spectators to experience the mas in all it's glory.

Well at least we're not looking at the underside of I-75/85 anymore
 For one reason or another, after 5 or more years of success at this one location, the powers that be decided to move us to Herndon Stadium at Morris Brown College. I've attempted to articulate my misgivings in a few bullet points:
  1. Carnival village ticket/entry clusterfuck                                                                     You'd think that after running the 3rd largest Carnival in the US for 25 years, they'd have figured out some things by now. Yet after all this time patrons still found themselves having to stand 30-45 minutes in line just to purchase tickets. Then after that harrowing experience, folks still ended up in yet another 30 minute line just to get in the damn place.

    I'd like to offer my opinion on a simple, somewhat elegant solution. For those who haven't bought tickets online, let people pay at the gate, forget the ticket thing entirely. Once you pay you get your armband and you go in, no more having to wait 30 minutes in line then realize, oh shit, you're in the wrong line, etc etc.....simple is always better.

  2. Where are we.....Chernobyl?                                                                                          I'd like to know the reason for switching the venue to Herndon Stadium........derelict, abandoned, total state of disrepair Herndon Stadium mind you. The Carnival did quite fine for the last 5 years down on Auburn Avenue. I suppose the City wanted to hide away all the gyrating waistlines, wanton alcohol consumption and unbridled debauchery us Caribbean folk are known for.

    But did they have to put us on an abandoned college campus? They didn't even try to clean the place, overgrown bush everywhere, grit and grime and broken glass. And it seems like vandals had a good time destroying the commentators box, smashing all the glass windows. Did anybody bother to clean the glass that rained down on the seats below? Nope.

  3. Brainless layout                                                                                                                I'll give the organizers the benefit of the doubt, that this is their first year using Herndon Stadium so a couple lapses in judgement are forgivable. To be honest I'm not even sure why a fire marshal didn't shut the place down because had there been an emergency or something, we'd all be dead, nobody was getting in or out of that place alive. It's a college football stadium right? It'd be reasonable to assume that there would be multiple staircases coming leading down from the stands onto the football field right? How many of those access points do you think were open for patrons to pass? NONE.....not a single one.

    Upon entering the stadium, one had to walk all the way down to the other end of the stands and access the grounds through a back staircase. All the other access points were blocked by food tents and food trucks. Even when you got down to the grounds, folks still had to squeeze through a small space between a food truck to get on the damn field. Oh and it gets better; there is normally a separate section away from the main stage where deejays play dancehall music to cater to the yard crowd. It's a fairly popular part of the Carnival Village every year so as you could imagine it was pretty packed.

    Guess where they decided to locate the dancehall area. Exactly, right at the top of the main only staircase access to the field......brilliant.

    Not pictured, picking the glass out my ass

  4. Performances                                                                                                                    I am all for giving everyone their fair share of time in the limelight. But does it not seem logical that we limit performances at a Caribbean Festival to those that are Caribbean in nature? I'm not sure I understood the need for more than a few rap performances. I don't have a problem with rap, I love rap actually. What I don't like is having rap acts taking up precious time, only to rush through the soca segments later. At a point I swear artistes barely had time to say "Hello Atlanta" before organizers were rushing them off the stage. 
Honestly, it might seem like with all my griping that I didn't have a good time, quite the contrary actually. Logistical issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Carnival Village. I didn't have any issues getting in as I'd purchased my tickets online, and though some of the performances were lacking, the big names in soca came through in the end and really saved the day. Burning Flames, Iwer George, Pumpa, Rudy, Lavaman and Edwin Yearwood, completely destroyed the place, but came on much too late in the evening, by then a good portion of the patrons had already left.

Thank you Iwer for making it all worth it.
I certainly hope that the organizers will learn from the various mistakes made this year so that they can provide us with a top notch festival experience come 2014.

But until then.......blessings.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Event Highlight - Caribbean Unity Festival

Atlanta Carnival has been getting a lot of attention lately which is exciting considering what the festival used to be not long ago. A joke of a celebration just a few years back, the Atlanta Caribbean community managed to finally pull together and create a collective experience we could all be proud of. 

In it's 25 year history, Atlanta Carnival saw it's darkest days during the early to mid 2000's, a time that most would rather not speak of. But to ignore our past is to invite ourselves to repeat those mistakes in the future. Among other factors, it was our failure to work together that led to our downfall, trinis fighting among ourselves, expatriates vs us-born, island vs island eventually created disharmony and discord and the festival suffered. 

We've finally got it right it seems, we're working together and thus unity and harmony has brought us prosperity. This year marks the 25th year of Atlanta Carnival but it also marks the first year of the Atlanta Caribbean Unity Festival. I believe this celebration of Caribbean unity will come to symbolize the struggle to make the Carnival what it is today and a fitting reminder of what disharmony brings. 

As a celebration of both our common heritage and our inherent diversity as a region, I hope you'll all come out to experience acts from many caribbean nations. This isn't a trini party, nor is it a jamaican party or even a V.I. celebration, this is an all-island celebration. Come out to see Rupee, Demarco, Kerwin Dubois, Cool Sessions Brass Band (VI) and Rebel Band (Haiti) not to mention the cool rhythms of steel pan. 

This is a family event so bring the youngsters, bring your friends, let's come out and experience what true Caribbean unity means.....don't forget to come with your flags, come with your t-shirts, represent where you're from, wear your culture proudly on your chests.

Caribbean Unity Festival
Wade Walker Park
5585 Rockbridge Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30088

1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
doors open at 12:00
$20   adults
 $10 children

See allyuh there


Monday, May 20, 2013


I've struggled for 15 minutes to put into words, something that could effectively convey my excitement at the moment. Believe me when I say that if you missed last weekend's cooler fete, you missed out on what can best be described as "legendary."

This annual party (known simply as Cooler Fete) has for years, been the quintessential kick-off party for Atlanta Carnival, but it had always had a torrid history. This party has been shut down so often that many in the community started to believe Dekalb County PD had a Cooler Fete Task Force whose sworn purpose was to locate it every year and shut it down.

I am happy to report that this didn't happen this year. Mr. Po Po, saw it fit to allow us raucous Caribbean folk to party till sun up......and party we did. Fete regulars, so used to being forced home by 3 a.m. suddenly found themselves with 3 extra hours to drink.

Special shout outs to Mr. Lewis with the Hunch Punch, Anto with the curry rabbit, Mr. and Mrs. Mo for making my night, Stax, Krista, Rae, Ehi and the whole posse, the various remnants of Scandalous Crew, The Winer Boy Crew, DJ Stephen and fam, a party is not a party without allyuh.....BIG UP!!

Allyuh will be hearing this for a while so just get used to it............BEST COOLER FETE EVAAAAR!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


It amazes me still that after eleven years, I still encounter situations that confound me. Obviously there are many cultural differences between us and the American people but honestly by now, I thought I'd seen them all.

Case in point, during a recent conversation, a friend mentioned to me that an uncle of hers had passed away, they were indeed very close. Then the conversation continued on in a manner I hadn't expected.

"My uncle's funeral is Friday but I'm not going, I've got this thing to do at work."

0_0.......wait, whut?

She then went on to explain that she'd spent weeks organizing an event for her job, thus it being her event, it wouldn't be right if she missed it, especially not for the funeral of a secondary family member. Had it been a direct parent or a sibling, then "maybe" things might have been different.

I only say "maybe" at this point because I'm not entirely sure if it would make a difference given what I've experienced of the American work ethic, which basically goes "work first and always, fuck everything else." 

As a Trinbagonian, this concept is entirely alien to me. From our perspective, there could be no greater disrespect to a person's memory than to arbitrarily miss a loved one's funeral especially not for work concerns. Even supervisors know better, I recall in 2001 when my grandmother passed away, my trini boss gave me the week off, paid leave without batting an eye. Yet when my grandfather passed in 2011, my American boss gave me one heck of a hard time just getting the time off, not to mention called the house on a few occasions while I was home, and even made some disparaging comments when I returned, something in the spirit of "people die everyday."

Trinbagonians also don't seem to distinguish between close family or extended family, friends or enemies when it comes to death. How many times have you sat at a funeral only to hear somebody say "man I couldn't stand his ass when he was alive but R.I.P. breds."


"ey look miss Ethel dead.....who's miss Ethel? De ole lady in de big house who leggo de dog on we when we was climbing up she mango tree? She dead? Doh make joke, when is de funeral? Monday? I calling off work"

Whether there is a blood association or a simple friendship that went back decades, we as a people drop everything to be there for a person in death.

If I accomplish nothing else in this life, I at least hope that at the end of time, that you my esteemed friends, family and colleagues do me one final honour by RAMMING OUT MY FUNERAL. I am so serious, make sure my funeral RAM!! When the time comes, I doh want to see an empty pew or I'm coming back to haunt all who eh show up.

I'm just saying.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fried Green Tomatoes

 ......................ever been to Whistle Stop, Alabama? How about Juliette, Georgia? 


..........that's what I figured.

One of these places is a real town, the other, a work of fiction but interestingly enough both towns are one and the same. If any of you had ever seen the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes." you'd recognize Whistle Stop as the homely little country town where the story was based. Of course Whistle Stop doesn't exist, well not in the way you'd expect anyway. In real life, Whistle Stop is actually a small town south of Atlanta, Georgia called Juliette.

Presumably Juliette wasn't much of anything, but a small town lost to time, until sometime in 1991 when movie producers came scouting for somewhere to film their movie; the rest is history. I'm not into chick flicks, but having been to the place, I couldn't help but watch the movie, if not for the novelty of saying "I'd been there."

Juliette is one of those small towns that I thoroughly enjoy visiting, steeped in history but relevant and alive even today. Fiddling around the little antique and craft stores that lined the main street, I started to get a sense of what the place must have been like back in the twenties. The little candle shop may have been a bank or a saloon, the little antique shop on the right, a blacksmiths maybe, who knows.

The focal point of the movie was a little place called the Whistle Stop Cafe, brainchild of the main characters Ruth and Idgie. The cafe itself still operates today in exactly the same format as it was in the movie, and still pumping out plates of those fried green tomatoes.

The Whistle Stop Cafe
I also had the pleasure of sampling a plate of country fried steak with creamed corn paired with a hefty slice of cornbread. Dessert was a slice of warm pecan pie topped with vanilla ice cream and a dusting of cinnamon.....basically heaven on a plate. Even if you weren't interested in the movie, I'd recommend you seriously consider the 75 mile drive down there just for this.

But seriously though, don't leave the Cafe without trying at least a slice of their fried green tomatoes, you'll regret it if you do.

better than sex.............

Where Smokey Lonesome stayed....seriously, watch the flick

There really isn't much to the place honestly but it's a nice spot to visit if you happen to be out camping at the nearby Lake Juliette. I'm not into antiques but practically all the stores in town sells them but there is also a shop selling hand-made scented candles as well as another store selling honey (watch the movie to understand the honey reference). 

Located nearby is the Jarrell Plantation, a Civil War era plantation with most of it's buildings and original machinery still intact. I'll definitely be returning in a couple weeks to check the place out......and possibly snag some more of dem damn tomatoes while I'm passing through. 

Until then.....peace.


The Whistle Stop Cafe
443 McCrackin Street
Juliette, GA 31046
Hours: Open Monday - Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Atlanta Childrens Carnival

A few of you have been asking for details on the Atlanta Childrens Carnival parade which will be taking place this coming weekend:

                                             Atlanta Childrens Carnival
                                             Saturday 18th, May 2013 - 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
                                             Salem Park
                                             5290 Salem Road
                                             Lithonia, GA 30038
SYNOPSIS: I had a look at the flyer for this event and I am at a loss for words. Whom is this event designed for exactly? The line-up of performers has me entirely confused.....the Femme Fatale Dance Crew? Really? Were Iwer George or Patrice Roberts too busy? Am I to assume that the organizers couldn't find an artiste even remotely associated with Caribbean culture? 

I'll probably end up just taking my youngster to the main parade anyway to be honest, attend this if  you want something safe to take your children to but apart from the costumes, I wouldn't expect a very caribbean-centric experience............I hope I'm wrong. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Atlanta Carnival 2013 - Parade INFO

If you're looking for a Carnival band to play with, the Atlanta Carnival Bands Association website has a comprehensive listing. Most bands offer both a costumed section and  t-shirt sections as well and in most cases you can find a band that is all-inclusive; they will provide drinks and food on the road during the day.

Now as for the Carnival parade itself, be warned that the parade route has changed and the Carnival Village location has now changed as well. No longer will we be feting on the corner of Fort Street and Auburn Avenue, we're going to be at Morris Brown Stadium instead. I have mixed feelings about this location especially considering that parking will probably be a bitch, that plus the fact that college campuses are notorious for towing, ticketing and booting cars.....consider yourselves warned.


Here's a link to the parade route map:
  • Staging - Staging will take place on RALPH MCGILL BLVD NE between Pine Street and Baker Street (as usual) near the Atlanta Civic Center
  • West along Ralph McGill to Peachtree Center Ave
  • Left Turn (South) on Peachtree Center Avenue
  • Right Turn (West) on Edgewood Avenue
  • Right Turn (West) on Marietta Street
  • Left Turn (South) on Centennial Olympic Park West
  • Right Turn (West) on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
  • END - Atlanta Carnival Village, Herndon Stadium, Morris Brown College 

Atlanta Carnival Village
Morris Brown College
Herndon Stadium
643 Martin Luther King Drive
Atlanta, GA
parade begins at 12:00 pm sharp
$10 entry fee for the Carnival Village
Purchase Tickets:

SYNOPSIS: There will be a whole host of artistes performing live at the Carnival Village including Iwer George, Skinny Fabulous, Edwin Yearwood and Benjai among others. Be warned, the lines to purchase tickets are usually long so it would be best to get there early, gates open at 10:00 am.

PARKING: As I'd mentioned previously, parking is probably going to be a mess but I suspect the paid lots on Northside Drive opposite the Georgia World Congress Center will be open (it's a bit of a walk though). Careful when trying to park around Morehouse College, Spelman College or CAU, they boot cars as though their lives depended on it.

MARTA - A viable alternative would be to park at a MARTA station and take the train. Vine City MARTA station is relatively close by and parking at most stations is free for 24 hours. I'd recommend parking at any of the stations on the East line to avoid having to switch trains downtown; Indian Creek, Avondale Estates, Kensington Stations come to mind, they've got huge, relatively secure parking lots. Another option is to park at the Atlanta Civic Center where the parade starts, leave your car there and just ride the train from Vine City back to Civic Center. It's a four block walk from the Marta Station back to Civc Center.

PARTY SCHEDULE - Atlanta Carnival 2013

I know what you're thinking, it's Atlanta Carnival time again and you have no idea what to do or where to go. I know how you feel; with Atlanta Carnival almost tripling in popularity over the past few years, the number of different parties and events can make it difficult to decide what to do. So as I did last year, I will attempt to compile a listing of events by day. What's different this year is that most of the major parties have online options for purchasing tickets, which is very convenient.

Now I will warn you, to truly get the most out of this experience, you'd probably want to hit all the major events back to back. This means little to no sleep for roughly 3 days; now would be the time to purchase that case of Red Bull you've been eyeing. As a point to note, to be fair, I'll list as many events as I can for each night but I'll be putting an asterisk (*) on the ones I plan on attending.

So without further delay:
                                                     Atlanta Carnival Schedule
                                                        Memorial Day Weekend
                                                      May 23rd  - May 27th 2013

Saturday 18th, May 2013

Cooler Fete*
Jolie Event Center
5240 Panola Industrial Boulevard
Decatur, GA 30058
$20 in advance
$25 by the door
Purchase tickets: International Roti House, Georgetown Foodmarket, Thomas Bakery
Synopsis: don't miss this shit.....period, oh and find a designated driver from now.

Thursday 23rd, May 2013

Flag Party
Harlem Nights Ultra Lounge
201 Courtland Street
Atlanta, GA
Cost: everybody free with a flag before midnight
Synopsis: this used to be the traditional kick off party for Atlanta Carnival but it's become a bit of a small island jam as of late. I have nothing against the VI crew but there is only so much junkano music a trini can endure in one night.

Anti-Stush* - Bunji Garlin
Karibbean Konnection
2620 Park Central Boulevard
Decatur GA
$35 Advance Tickets (or $45 as part of Anti-Stush/ I AM SOCA combo package)
Purchase tickets online:
Synopsis: Free Beers.....Bunji dun.

Club Pisces (formerly Aquarium)
5471 Memorial Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
$20 Advance tickets
Purchase Tickets:
Synopsis: Destra had a great Carnival 2013 but she's going up against Bunji Garlin the same night which might make this party a tough sell. I will say though that the fete is free rum, vodka and beer while Bunji is free beers only. At this point are you a bigger Destra fan or a Bunji Garlin fan? Sorry Destra, I'm going Bunji.

Club Elegance
5499 Memorial Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
$10......ladies free before midnight
Purchase Tickets: I have no clue
Synopsis: lol....if I had to guess, this would probably get crushed under Bunji, Destra and Flag Party all on the same night.

Friday 24th, May 2013

GBM Showcase* - KES, Suppa Jigga TC, Shall Marshal, Nuttron, Ravi B
Golden Glide Roller Rink
2750 Wesley Chapel Road
Decatur, GA 30034
$20 in advance
Purchase tickets online:
Synopsis: how much more convincing do you need? It's Kes, Shal, Ravi B and TC, don't be ridiculous.

(Iwer George, Cassie, Lyrical, Pumpa (VI) and a surprise guest)
Museum Bar
181 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard
Atlanta GA
$25 in advance
Purchase tickets online:
Synopsis: I'm a bit torn here, it's a tough choice to make for any soca fan and at the end it boils down to whether you're a bigger Iwer George fan or a KES fan. In this instance I'll probably end up going the KES instead which sadly is the same night.

Atlanta Carnival J'Ouvert
(Patrice Roberts, JW&Blaze, Black Chiney, etc)
The Atrium
5479 Memorial Drive
Stone Mountain, GA
$25 in advance - (Mangos Restaurant, Four Seasons, International Roti House, Tassa, Thomas Bakery, Jamaican Jerk)
Synopsis: don't let the name fool you, it has nothing to do with traditional j'ouvert, it's just the name of the party. It's a popular event but mainly for jamaicans and small-islanders. Trinis would want to stick with either Iwer or KES.

1st Annual Official Atlanta Carnival JOUVERT
Herndon Stadium - Morris Brown College
643 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Atlanta, GA
$10 in advance
Purchase tickets: I have no clue, flyer didn't say
Synopsis: this fete is supposed to be the Atlanta Carnival Band Leaders Association's first honest attempt at a bonifide jouvert; rumour has it there should be mud, oil, paint, etc etc for Jouvert aficionados. Considering that the KES fete and the Iwer George fete are the same night, this may not be a safe bet. When you consider that the well established, pseudo Jouvert fete at the Atrium is also the same night, this seems less and less enticing.

Fantastic Friday - Coffee Boys
Jolie Event Center
5240 Panola Industrial Boulevard
Decatur, GA 30058
$20 in advance
Purchase tickets: International Roti House, D' Roti Shop
Synopsis: I heard my aunt talking about this one and as far as I can tell it's a party for the older heads in the Caribbean community particularly those from Coffee Street, San Fernando and environs.

Saturday 25th, May 2013

Atlanta Carnival Parade

Kooler Fete*
Karibbean Konnection
2620 Park Central Boulevard
Decatur GA
$20 earlybird tickets, more at the door
Purchase tickets: Thomas Bakery, Sugar Island Jerk, International Roti House, Tassa Roti Shop, Marlies Food Kitchen, Karibbean Konnection
Synopsis: There really isn't too much to be said here, you need to be in this fete. Blaxx has had a fantastic Carnival season this year and the past few years of performances have been nothing short of BESS. Buy the ticket, be there, stop asking me dotish questions.

DJ PRIVATE RYAN, Juggla Experience, John Wayne Movement
Thrive Lounge
101 Marietta Street
Atlanta, GA
Ladies free before midnight, gentlemen $10 before midnight (once you're on the list)
$5 parking all night
Get your name on the list:
Synopsis: I missed Private Ryan when he came to Atlanta a month or two back. I won't make that mistake twice. One of the most popular djs out of T&T, make the effort to attend this if you can. Embrace normally lets out around 2:30 am anyways so you'll still have plenty time left to get to Blaxx or wherever else you're going that night.

Fan De Fire
Burning Flames
Omega International House
3951 Snapfinger Road
Lithonia, GA 30038
Purchase tickets: not sure actually
Synopsis: Okay, first of all, I thought Burning Flames had changed their name? Aren't they the Revolution Band or something now? Secondly, though Burning Flames is popular throughout the Caribbean, I expect this to be a small island jam, conduct yourselves accordingly.

SOCA Vengeance
Jolie Event Center
5240 Panola Industrial Boulevard
Decatur, GA 30058
$25 in Advance
Purchase tickets: Thomas Bakery
Synopsis: The flyer says ""The Biggest Small Island Carnival Party."..........erm, that's a no for me.

Sunday 26th, May 2013

Sunday Morning - breakfast fete
2605 Park Central Blvd
Decatur, GA
$20 in Advance
Purchase tickets:
Synopsis: this breakfast fete first began last year but quickly established itself as the definitive fete to hit on Sunday morning after the previous day's festivities. Honestly I'm not sure if I'll have the energy to do this after the previous night's cooler fete but we'll see. Definitely hit this party if you can.

Atlanta Caribbean Unity Festival* 
(Kerwin Dubois, Rupee, Demarco)
Wade Walker Park (Sunday afternoon)
5585 Rockbridge Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30088
$20 Adults
$10 Children
Purchase tickets online
Synopsis: Sounds like this is going to be a fun little event you could take the family out to (assuming your drunk behind survived the Sunday Morning Breakfast Fete).

Family Funday
Bransby YMCA
1185 Rock Chapel Road
Lithonia GA, 30058
Synopsis: I think this is the annual VI Carnival picnic which I hear is usually good if you're into the small island thing.

VI Allstars
Cala Bar and Grill
4144 Redan Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
$10 before midnight
Synopsis: This will probably be popular with the VI crew but I'd stick to either Wear White or Machel to be on the safe side.

Peach Fusion*
MACHEL MONTANO HD, Farmer Nappy, Mr. Vegas
Lavaman, Tallpree, Edwin Yearwood, Pumpa, Burning Flames
The Atlanta Peach Ballroom
3365 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA 30329
Cost: $45 in advance
Purchase tickets online:
Synopsis: Tradition would dictate that folks attend the Wear White party on Sunday night to end the carnival but one would have to be silly to ignore this fete. I'm still a bit torn but I'll probably end up here.

Wear White
Golden Glide Roller Rink
2750 Wesley Chapel Road
Decatur, GA 30034
$25 in advance
Purchase tickets online:
Synopsis: hands down, this is usually the go to party for Sunday night at Atlanta Carnival but apparently the Machel fete is the same night this year......decisions decisions.

As you can probably tell, the fete schedule for this year is pretty packed and this is just a fraction of the events that will be taking place on each of these nights. I just tried to focus on the options that would likely be most popular. I am definitely missing details for a couple items but as for now, this should be nearly enough info to help you guys make informed decisions on what to do and where to party come this Memorial Weekend.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Roughing It

I remember the feeling vividly; that sense you get when pulling into a patch of dirt for the first time knowing full well that this would be home for a day or two. I did it all the time as a scout growing up. We live such pampered lives nowadays, central heating, prepackaged manufactured foods, and anything we couldn't make ourselves could easily be purchased.

But I suppose some vestigial senses still remain from when man lived a more feral, nomadic lifestyle, living off the earth. I'd venture that these innate senses, instinct if you will, are probably the reason why so many still hunt, fish, camp or go hiking. Regardless of how technologically advanced we become, some part of us will always want to return to those days when man didn't hunt for leisure, but because life depended on it.

Campsite No. 5, Lake Juliette at Dames Ferry
Juliette, GA
But seriously though, aside from all the "getting back to nature" rhetoric, who wouldn't want to wake up to this? What you're looking at is Lake Juliette, near Macon, GA. What you're not seeing in this pic, is the ten young, fun-loving individuals totally not giving a shit.

(and no, ten of us didn't sleep in these two tents, we had two campsites side-by-side with five tents altogether)

I used to think I knew what relaxation meant. I used to think it came in the form of a Playstation controller, a couch and a six pack. Far from it, true relaxation comes with a fishing pole, a cup of worms and a CASE (2 or 3 really) of beer.

And this is basically how the weekend went from start to finish: wake in the morning, start the grill, stick a worm on a hook and crack open a beer. And if that doesn't sound like fun, just try to deny the allure of sitting around a roaring campfire making smores.

Don't let me fool you though, this business isn't all fun and games, especially being so near to a large body of water, you could imagine the mosquitoes were out of control. They weren't much of a problem as I think we all came prepared (as long as you don't mind smelling like OFF all day). But mosquitoes though annoying, would likely be the least worry, with spiders, ticks, flies and ants running around and trust me, the first time you roll on a pine cone under your tent at night...........O_O

I'm glad to have been introduced to this group of folks as they seem to go camping often. It's my intent to go every chance I get it, I'm already hooked. Now if I could just find some people to take me hunting.


What bills?