Monday, September 22, 2008

Creatures of Sameness

Aaaah yes! New York City; The Big Apple; The Melting Pot; Capital City of The World! Our city; your city; his city; her city; my city! A city known by so many names, tales, descriptions and stereotypes. They call our city the melting pot because it’s made up of a mix of folks from all around. We’re like this ginormous pot of paella (a Spanish dish prepared by simmering together chicken, seafood, rice, vegetables, and saffron and other seasonings) made up of several different cultures, beliefs, habits, tastes, customs and smells (yes folks, some of our people stink); I LOVE NY! But when you take some time to think about it, which I'm sure you have as we're all tormented with random thoughts from time-to-time, with all our differences, including but not limited to our different stinky perspiration's, we're quite alike. There are moments where we all behave like Siamese twins in this "paella" (pronounced pah-e-lyah, for those who are unfamiliar with the word) of a city. Now you may be asking yourself what the hell is this man of random thoughts talking about. Well, In what follows, I will show you, the reader, or listener if this is being read to you, several scenarios where we unconsciously acquire identical habits, therefore making us, even if u stink, "creatures of sameness." Ooh! I like the sound of that..."creatures of sameness." Hmmm... (In the annoying high pitch voice of a child) I'm a creature of sameness! I'm a creature of sameness! I'm a creature of sameness! Shall we continue?

The Dining scene

Hey! We all eat out from time to time. Heck! There are some of us who eat out every day, and, even though this could be a point of reference to reveal a clear example of sameness, this is not the example I would like to present. Instead, I would like to focus on the restaurant scene and the introduction; or the "welcoming act" we receive when we visit them. Ahead, I will do my best to role-play this episode of "sameness", that believe it or not, we’ve all gone through.

The Restaurant introductions, be it from a hostess, mantra dean, or your waiter(tress), are so rehearsed, and fake that we very rarely ever pay attention to them! Unless it’s a hot-ass chick for us guys or a sexy dude for the ladies, our brain automatically selects small parts of their pre-rehearsed small-talk of “blah!-blah!-blah!”, to let that person know that we're not mildly retarded, we care about our food not being spat on, and we’re on point with everything they’re telling us. If they only knew (which they probably do by the expression on our faces) that at that exact moment, our BRAIN is receiving, and we’re hearing this scene in the following way...(Now forgive me as I make the best possible attempt to verbalize the jargon that comes out of their mouths in their introduction. Aaaaand Action!):

The employee approaches your party, "Hi, my name is shua-shua-blah-blue (smiles). The special of the day is crickie-cra-cra, and foo-foo-ma-blah with a sprinkle (does a sprinkling gesture in the air) of chacky-poo-pa, and a side of rice and beans (we Spanish folks always here the rice and beans part). The employee continues, “The desert of the day is chocolate blah-poo-poo, with a cherry on top (men like cherries hehe), and the drink of the day is shua-shua-shua with pineapple blah-splah, on a blah-flah-blah with whip cream and a shot of tequila on the side (hey, our brain likes whip cream and liquor? Not a bad combo if u know what I saying).” “Now what would you like to drink?”

Now you can’t tell me that you haven’t been through this scene at least once in your lifetime. Shit, I go through this scene every time I go out; especially when I’m starving. OMG! Isn’t it when you’re starving that the freaking waiter wants to look “all-knowledgeable” about how much of the menu he/she has been able to memorize for your amusement. OMG! Just give me the freaking menu, my hot bread with a stick of butter, my glass of water, and show me where the specials of the day are. Thank you very much! I’ll decide what I want to eat…coño! (This is a curse word in Spanish culture closely compared to “damn” “dam it” or “f&#ck”. It all depends on what just happened, or how you feel and who made you feel this way. In Dominican culture, this is by far, our universal curse word. Sorry for the side bar).

The subway scene

In everyday life, for most New Yorkers (myself included…shut up! Hehe), mass transit is the way to go! Unless of course, you’re one of these snobs who, with a tone of superiority towards others, and with a vocal pitch as if they had a finger stuck up their asses say,

"Not me, I drive into work. I can't deal with rush hour. Too much chaos and people for me. I suffer from claustrophobia".

Ah shut up! But anyway, (sorry for the side-bar vent), back to business! When you think about it, it is crazily insane how our habits in public transit are so ridiculously alike. For instance, most of us rush out of our homes, with 2 point 2 seconds left on the clock. Why is this? Well because in our train calculating expertise, we’ve been able to take note of the exact time, and speed rate in which a train will enter the station. Furthermore, we even have a few back-up plans, and know the exact time of the next two or three trains as well. We have that shit synchronized, like we use to do in High School with that “end of the period BELL.” You remember that right? I don’t care if you went to school during the 80’s and early 90’s and heard a real bell, or went to school afterwards, when the ringing was replaced by an electronic buzz, we all synchronized our watches to that freaking thing. Regardless of what sound you heard, there was always that one kid, maybe it was you, who had the timing of that bell down to the last second. He/she would even do the countdown in silence while picking up his/her bag, to walk out the door while the teacher was still talking. Creatures of Sameness? I think so. But anyway, for some odd reason, most of us go to the train in the same way, every single day. We walk or run (depending how many seconds are left on our stop watch) towards the train as if a nuclear war-head missile was homing in on the crack of our asses. Shit, some of us have even developed rush our ninja skills. We can't dance salsa, or keep a calorie count, but we can move in and out between thousands of bystanders, taking short cuts, jay walking and even sliding down a railing if we must, just in time to squeeze in between the closing doors (“Stand clear of the closing doors please”).

Now if you’re not one of the ninja skilled, than you’re probably one of those folks that makes it to the platform on “good-time.” Just with enough time to read a little bit more of your favorite magazine, or book, or shuffle through your favorite songs on your iPod. You may not be in a hurry a day in your life, but, you’re known to other strap hangers as the mother-freaking “seat-hogger”, who through time has developed blood thirsty vampire-eagle-eye skills to seek-and-destroy. What do I mean? Well, you’re one of them folks that as the train approaches the platform, quickly scans the insides of the speedy train with x-ray like vision, squinting as you locate any empty seat. Once you find one, you immediately position yourself, in an angle towards the opening door, so that no other citizen or green-card holder can skip you. The event becomes a freaking thrill ride as all strap hangers, including you, head for the races. As you run towards that seat, in between the chubby guy and a homeless man who’s been sleeping there for 7 hours, you pray and hope that you don't run into a 90 year old lady or an 8 1/2 month old pregnant girl, so that you won’t be forced to relinquish your seat. Once you’re seated, you make it your mission not to ever give your seat up if your life depended on it. You begin to play little games within your head, like the “let me close my eyes and make believe I’m into this song game”, or the “make believe I’m all into this book game” or the ever so popular and my personal favorite, the "make believe I'm sleeping game", so that no one would bother to even ask you to please give up your seat. Come on, don't lie, u know you've played this game before. You remain rigid as you peek around through your semi-closed eyes, looking on through the hairs of your eye lashes to see if the person in need, like that 100 year old grandmother of 25, or the woman who’s giving birth right in front of you, begs with their eyes for your seat. Cruel wouldn’t you say? Maybe so, but you’re shocked to see that you’ve done this before right? Don’t be, it’s a part of who we are.

A Gas crisis

Come on! Don’t tell me you haven’t been through that embarrassing day. You know, maybe had a little too much melted nacho cheese in that chili; a little too many yogurts in the morning; too many pinto-beans in that burrito during lunch time. It’s now a little after 5pm, and your stomach is going bonkers! Not because you’re hungry, or are suffering from a major stomach virus, but because your extremely bloated, and there’s a war of gases taking place in your “insides”. And of course, you have pride, you’re of the higher classes. Maybe you’re one of those “drive-to-work” folks I mentioned a little earlier in this segment of sameness. You can’t possibly take care of the infamous, and now popularly referred to “#2”, or “take-a-poop” in the “can”, or “ the john”, or the toilet at work. What? “Never will I Mr. or Ms. (Your Last Name Here), ever, ever, ever, use a toilet out of my own my home to do the-poop thing.” “That is just disgusting!” Well, just great, your body would like to take this time to thank you for the torture you’re making it go through. It could’ve simply been a harmless form of a flatulent expression. One of those wonderful enormous “gassy” farts (which bring great relief I might add), or maybe just a “row” of baby farts lined up in single line formation, waiting for the appropriate moment of release; freedom! As it is for those of us who suffer from heartburn (myself included), that can’t seem to find a pack of TUMS or ROLAIDS when struck with the uncomfortable symptoms associated with acid reflux, the same goes for our fellow “gassy” counter-parts; there are no anti-gas tablets in sight. Heck, the only time we’ve really seen an anti-gas medicine is on TV in a late-night infomercial. Presenting Gastro Herbal, for the quickest relief...

Anyway, seeing no other solution, your stubborn ass (literally speaking, since it is this area of the body that we’re currently concentrating on…how ironic), decides to fight the forces of human nature, and make a break for home, in hope that when you finally arrive there, the toilet will be unoccupied.

OMG! Your subway “ninja skills” come into full affect now. You zoom through the other 1.5 million pedestrians like a swift wind. If only they knew, you were holding-in a number of “swift-winds” yourself. If you weren’t a subway “seat-hogger” before, you definitely become one now, running to the first available seat to trap the tormenting vibrations being caused by your butt cheeks. This is when you remember God, yes, even you “so called Atheist”. You begin to silently recite the speech that has been made ever-so popular by the drunk folks: “Please let me make it home!” “Please let me make it home!” Please let me make it home!” You do your best not to make the slightest inappropriate move, in fear that a little “spurt” of gas may involuntarily ooze out, but you just can’t control it. The forces from within are just a bit too powerful for you. With the AC on blast, you decide to give things a little test. You say to yourself, “If I were to let one go, and feel nothing coming afterwards, I’ll be an awesome condition to relax, and maybe even fall asleep in front of this little old lady. At that exact moment, “The Conscious” interrupts. Throughout the centuries, and since the times of Adam, it has been known that the conscious pays a visit in the most crucial and decisive times, and it has chosen the most opportune time to provide it’s “2 cents” of advice. It says, “Listen, Mr. or Ms. (Your last name here), this is your conscious speaking, I don't mean to interrupt you, but if you decide to do this, you must be prepared for the repercussions.” With stubbornness, you respond “What repercussions?” The conscious answers, “Well, if you decide to go through with this manifestation, and something a little more “solid” follows, you’ll find yourself in a very BIG PROBLEMO, and you would be on your own with this one." You see, I'm, in a sense, of the spiritual form, and I think you would agree that there's no way in hell or heaven, if you're of the optimistic type, that I can help you out with this "pooh-pooh" situation; it's all on you (literally).

You sit back in your chair, and give this dramatic scene some thought and, to the relief of your conscious, you take it's advice and wait till you get home. When you arrive home, things that you usually did with your eyes closed, are now giving you trouble. You pushed the entrance door, when for the past 25+ yrs of your life, you know that it's always been a pull door. You decide to wait for the elevator when you know for a fact, that it's not going to come to your rescue. You hit the stairs, and as you reach your door, you can't seem to get the key into the keyhole. It is at that moment that you realize you were using the wrong freaking key! Your body unconsciously goes into the "pooh-pooh" dance. You know the "pooh-pooh" dance, you begin to rock at the hip from side to side, front to back, as your bum-bum, keeps giving you that annoying pushing sensation at the rhythm of every heartbeat. (OMG! You know exactly what I'm talking about don't you!) You finally get inside your apartment, sprint over hurdles of three out-of-place dining chairs, smack your dad, kick the cat, tackle the dog, spit at your grandmother (OK, maybe that's a little too much), ninja flip over your grandmother (much better), and you make it to the bathroom. You instantaneously sit your ASS on the toilet and let it rip. Wow! World War III anyone? The explosion scares the shit out of you (not literally, though you kind of wish it did). It's a thunderous-volcanic gas, followed by spurts of machine-gun-like gases, followed by baby farts, a side-angled final wheeze, and then nothing else...nothing else. You give yourself a few minutes just to be 110% sure. First, because your conscious was talking all that shit (literally), 2nd, because a 1% miscalculation could be a devastating and uncomfortable situation, and 3rd you don't want to even imagine going through all of that for NOTHING! Sadly, time goes by, and you come to the realization, was all just a false alarm. Fu#%ing Conscious! Noticing your anger, the conscious tags in one last time for the day and says,


Be Merry, Enjoy life, and never leave work with "pooh-like" symptoms.
Talk about "rush hour?"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Songs of Innocence? Maybe not!

So a lot has happened since I last wrote something. Mr. Barack Obama! Obama! Obama! accepted the democratic nomination and, became the first African-American in history to be elected as the democratic front runner for President of the United States (woo-hoo!); my computer caught the most annoying mother-freaking spyware virus which I believe I have finally been able to resolve and get rid of; the NFL kicked off another season and my NY GIANTS are 2-0; and, last but definitely not least, I’ve been informed that I have a subliminal/undercover/cult following now. Yup! I actually have a fan base, and they’ve been bugging me to write something fresh, new, interesting, and maybe shall I say…cool. I must thank Ms. Betty Boo’ for that (you know who you are). I take this time to send some homie love to my folks @ 120 Broadway. You know who ya is, Val (thanx for introducing me to that “Black Russian” bread. It sounds dirty, but I’m hooked, dat shit is bangin’), Royal, Glen, and of course the infamous Ms. Betty Boo-woop-ti-woop! While I’m at it, I have to also give props to other fans who continue to show me love, like my peeps Zak, Renu, So Yon, Candice, Giselle and my cuzzo Ariel. Ah! Ya didn’t think I would do it huh? Yup, that’s right, I gots love for ya. Yes, gots, with a mother-freaking “S” at the end. I’m gangsta’, you didn’t know? You betta ask somebody…who am I kidding; I wouldn’t hurt a fly while It’s still breathing. Wait a minute, do fly’s breath? If they do, is it oxygen? How long can they hold their breath? Do fly's fart? Can you imagine the sound of that? Would the fart be hidden under a buzzing sound? OMG! Another blog idea. OMG! I can see it now, the pathology of a fly-“The Fly Buziness”. Interested? No? Ok, let’s continue.

Well as far back as I can remember music has been a part of my life. I’ve had to hear some form of melody every single day, since the day I was born...I ain’t lying! For those that don’t know me personally, I’m Dominican, or as we like to say it, “Soy Dominicano!” That being said, you know I was born with the innate ability to dance to any tune ever invented; really! My mom says I learned to dance merengue before learning how to speak or walk or even suck a titty….I ain’t lying! And growing up in Washington Heights didn’t help me either. Washington Heights aka “The Mini-D.R.”, was known for booming systems in cars that were constructed by putting the pieces from three or four other model cars together. We had Honda/Toyota/Chevy’s, driving up and down the streets all day, every day. You gotta admit though, we some creative people son. Yup! We had some f&*cked up cars, but the systems on them suckers would put Funk Master Flex’ system to shame, and the sound could be heard in Jersey City, NJ...I ain’t lying! If I’m being honest, cause as I’ve said in three previous occasions, I don’t lie, I think my people purchased cars just to see what kind of stereo system they could squeeze in to them. The music would blast 24/7, 7 days a weeks, 365 days a year, and I would dance to every song, every single hour, every single day. I ain’t lying!

Growing up though, I became a true R&B and POP fan (come on, with Michael Jackson around, who wasn’t a pop/r&b fan?). Although when I come to think of it, rap was my first and preferred choice, but, I was forced to pick-up these other genres instead. Why forced? You see, although rap was a fairly new genre for the kids of my day, thus being the reason why we were all hooked to it like crack-heads with 3 good teeth (ok, maybe we had several good teeth), it wasn’t allowed in my home. I was a church-going-boy, part of a family that had been Spanish-Pentecostal for 3 generations, and my mom, wasn’t cool with me listening to any of that “worldly music” (as she and everyone else of the doctrine would refer to it). She wasn’t having none of that “hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip-hip hop, a you don’t stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat”, coming out of the stereo system, especially if she owned the only stereo available and was the one paying the “La Luz” (“The Light”) bill. One day though, as I chilled at home after school, one of my younger uncles called me into his room and showed me something, something special, incredible even. He had just picked up a used copy of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album (the best-selling record in music history), from one of the Salvation Army thrift stores in our neighborhood. I was about 6 or 7yrs old back then, and as I sat next to him, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At that moment, my mom quietly passed by his open door, and as my heart stopped in anticipation for some form of disciplinary action, she said,

“He’s always been an amazing artist, even though he’s a little coo-coo in the head.” “He looked cute with his big nose”. “I don’t know why he had to do that stupid operation.”

I was awestruck. My mom was cool with Mike? My mom was cool with Mike! For the first time ever, I felt a silent approval for anything having to do with English music, Michael Jackson, or anyone else. I began to visit my uncles room every single day, for a taste of “Beat it”, or “Billie Jean” or “PYT-Pretty Young Thing” and the scary as hell “Thriller”. It started with Mike, but then it eventually passed on to other records in his collection, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Madonna, and Diana Ross etc. Everything I listened to during these “wonder years” became engraved in history, as my “songs of innocence”. I sang them everywhere; in the shower, in the store, at church, at burial services, parents-teachers conferences, every freaking where.

The funny thing is that when I look back at all the songs I learned, and sang over the years, I realized that my “songs of innocence”, weren’t that innocent after all. There were several songs that caught me “off-guard”. You see, their messages were hidden. Contrary to these days, the songs in those days weren’t all up in your face about, “whipping it out” and “sexing” someone up. Although most adults got the message, ignorant and gullible children like myself, didn’t get it until later on in life. I was surprised to find that the songs that began with my first experience with Mike, and then moved on to other artists over the years, were not only kind of dirty, they were sexually explicit and freaking HOT! What’s even funnier is that the older I got, the dirtier the songs became…or was me that was getting dirtier? Who knows, but I continued to notice that songs, which were created for the larger masses, carried these hidden messages, so the younger individuals could groove to them with no regret, and the older folks could do the “nasty” to them, with no regrets he-he. Although I’m sure you can come up with maybe 1,000 songs like these (you dirty minded people), I can recall a few that I learned to sing, before I learned what the hell they were talking about…SEX!!!! Not to overwhelm the reader, I will take excerpts from a couple of these songs to show you what I mean.

Song: PYT “Pretty Young Thing”; Artist: Michael Jackson; Album: Thriller

It was 1985, and as history shows, a couple of cool things happened that year. Mike Tyson made his boxing debut; Wrestlemania debuted in Madison Square Garden; Tetris was released; the Nintendo Entertainment System is released; Microsoft releases the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0; and for kids everywhere, Thundercats debuted on TV. Now, on that year, at the age of 7, I finally learned the words to one of the songs from Michael Jacksons “Thriller” album. Although this was not my favorite, “Billie Jean” was, I recall that as I revisited the lyrics as a teenager, I couldn’t believe how sexually explicit this song was. To add more terror to the previous finding, I thanked the heavens, that my mom didn’t know any English at that time. That Dominican lady would’ve smacked my lips off, changed my name to a curse word, and demand that I stop crying immediately. In any event, my lips are still intact, but I still couldn’t believe how “dirty” this song was. For starters, Mike begins this song by saying:

“You know you, you make me feel so good inside”.
(Pause) OMG! What the hell was Mike talking about? What’s inside? Why should I be feeling something good inside? Mike, what the hell did you mean by that? Just imagine, a 7 year old boy, taking ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, singing this stuff in the hallways of his elementary school, P.S. 173 in Washington Heights, NY. Yup! Hilarious!

Mike goes on to the second verse to say:

“Nothin' Can Stop This Burnin'”
(Pause) Okay, Okay, Okay what’s burning Mike? What are you burning Mike and why? Is there an STD going around that you haven’t told us about Mike?
“Desire To Be With You”
(Pause) Folks, remember, I’m a kid singing this stuff….sweet!
“Gotta Get To You Baby, Won't You Come...
(Pause) Come where Mike?
“It's Emergency. Cool My Fire Yearnin' Honey…”
(Pause)There he goes again talking about this freaking fire!
“Come Set Me Free Don't You Know Now Is The Perfect Time. We Can Dim The Lights Just To Make It Right. In The Night Hit The Lovin' Spot. I'll Give You All That I've Got.”
(Pause) What the hell is wrong with you Mike? How are you gonna make things right by hitting the “loving spot”. What loving spot are you going to hit Mike and why? OMG! Is he talking about that spot? That secret spot? No! I can’t believe what my ears are hearing. Mike, in 1983 when this album was originally released, was talking about hitting the D, E, F, G spot. OMG! Mike was nasty!!!! What’s even nastier, is that he ends the song making several kissing & moaning sounds, like if he just finished doing "the nasty", with this PYT, that he's been rambling on-and-on about. Maaaaad dirty! But I loved it! Thank you Michael! We love you!

Song: Downtown; Artist: SWV; Album: It’s About Time (1992)

Fast forward 6 yrs into the future, and you’ll find yourself in peak of modern R&B music. The early 90’s was known as the rebirth of R&B, or R&B groups for that matter. With groups like Jodeci, H-Town, X-Scape, Total, TLC, Blackstreet, EnVogue and so many others, things were taken back to the roots, when talented groups defined this music. Now, in the 90's, 1992 to be exact, there was one special group that brought a little twist to the game, and really put female R&B groups on the map. Originally from our very own NYC, this trio of fine sistas were introduced to the world as SWV (aka Sisters With Voices). They came on the scene with their double platinum-selling and American Grammy Award nominated album, “It’s About Time”, which had hits like “Weak”, “I’m so into you”, “Right Here/Human Nature” (that hot track w/ Michael Jackson in the background) and finally the women-anthem “Downtown”. Now, “Downtown”, was written in honor of all the ladies, to inform all the men of the world, of something they were not quite getting. The Woman’s Rights Movement, not only brought equality between men and women, but also allowed women to express their true feelings about several topics; politics, the entertainment business, and yes, even SEX! The phrase “going downtown”, took a whole new meaning, and became really popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and the women of the world took great advantage of it; it was quite revolutionary. It (the phrase) would come up in casual conversations, board meetings, and even parent-teacher conferences. “By the way Hun, I’m a bit stressed from a long day of hard work, so when we get home, I need you to go “downtown” for me. Now of course, as a gullible 13yr old freshman in high-school, which is when this album dropped, I thought the lady wanted her man to take a quick trip to Union-Square or The Financial District or something. But nope, little-old-ignorant me was fooled once again. SWV made an important point to stress that there was really only one way to a women’s heart; “GOING DOWNTOWN”. They said:

“Boy, I want you to listen closely to what I have to say
'Cause this is the way to my heart”
(pause) For many women, this is the only way to their heart. They’re so selfish (he-he).
“You've been wondering how you can make it better
Baby, it's easy to turn my world inside out…”
“You gotta go downtown”
(pause) And not downtown time square, or union square, or any other squares.
“That's the way to my love. Take it round and round”
(pause) Fellas, yeah, I’m speaking to you, this means some circular tongue action.
“Oooh, you can't stop 'til you find my love
Go downtown, To taste the sweetness…”
(pause) So you see after not stopping till’ you find her love or aka bring her to a “sexual eruption”, you won’t be able to taste sweetness. OMG! Nasty!)
“Until you uncover the mystery”
(pause) Since most men were in darkness about what was missing in their love life…
“Take it nice and slow. Baby, don't rush the feeling
Now you know how you can make it happen, yeah…”
“Let me guide you down to the place to be.
(pause) Woman mother-freaking love this song. Where’s the place to be ladies? Sing it! Doooowntooooooown!

To my surprise, when SWV dropped this joint, they were actually given men a 101, on a very sensitive topic, about a very sensitive area, in essence, the need for a little more focus and “special” attention. In other words, a basic lesson, “tit-for-tat”, or “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, or I “licky-licky” for you, and you “licky-licky” to me. Plainly put, an introductory to “eating the box”, some “cunnilingus”, or “going downtown!”

So, with that in mind, sit back, relax, turn on your stereo system, and if your in company of that special someone... " Do the nasty!" You're not that innocent after all. Be Merry!