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?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bush Whackin......sorta

As an adult, there are few things I miss more than being out in the bush. Having been raised in Maracas Valley, a river, waterfall or mango tree, were never hard to find and as such, the boys were always out hiking or bubbling pot or raiding somebody cocoa.

Hunting season was always a fun time as our neighbour was a hunter. The weeks prior to hunting season each October always found us youngsters tasked with "running the dogs," basically letting them loose in the bush (plenty to go round in Maracas) to run down gouti and manicou, get their scent. The dogs don't eat during hunting season unless they corner something so we had to make sure they were fit and familiar with the scent of their quarry.

Interestingly enough, once we boys were old enough to wield a knife without injuring anyone, the neighbour stopped gutting and skinning his own kills, preferring instead to call over "dem Johnson boys" to do the dirty work. I still can't skin reliably so deer is out but trust and believe I'll gut and quarter a manicou so fast, you'd swear it was chicken.

It certainly didn't help things when I started going to Fatima in the mid-nineties, quickly joining the scout troop there........1st Fatima Sea Scouts......the memories. Fatima was an active troop, feeding my outdoors addiction, always out hiking or kayaking. For a time we spent nearly every Saturday "down the islands" on Monos, and hiked often to Maracas Bay and Las Cuevas, but my most enduring memories always come from the frequent camping trips.

I've camped Caura river, twice in Toco, twice in Matelot, spent a week on Monos Island, a weekend in Paxvale Santa Cruz (which most will now recognize as a subdivision) and even camped Maracas Valley a few times. Fun times that I'd somehow managed to miss out on through the entirety of my twenties. Not anymore though, I've managed to locate a group of individuals in the Atlanta area that enjoy camping as much as I do. I've already been on one trip with them having spent the last weekend at a campsite on Lake Juliette 75 miles south of downtown Atlanta, GA.

Now that I've gotten my feet wet, you can bet your last dollar that I'll be out under the stars every chance I get going forward. Sometime in the coming days I'll talk all about the Lake Juliette trip but until then, peace.