Snapshot Saturdays

With Carnival quickly approaching (23 days to be exact) all that’s on people’s minds is fete.

Which fete you going to this weekend? Which band you playing in this year? Have you bought your costume yet? Which fetes you going to the Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun before Carnival?

So you can imagine their surprise when I tell them “I won’t be in Trinidad for Carnival this year..I’m going to travel instead.

Whaaaa? Yuh mad or wha? How could you leave now? This is the best time to be in Trinidad!..This is what this country is about!

Yeah, yeah..I know..” I say. “Carnival just isn’t my thing..I would rather travel if I have the chance to..Maybe next year.

Anyway..now that I’ve dropped that bomb, I’ll continue..

This is my first time being in Trinidad during this ‘pre-carnival’ period. Previously, whenever I came to visit my family it was during Easter, Summer, or Christmas Holidays. So..I guess you wouldn’t be too surprised to know that it’s only recently that I learnt what a “Cooler Fete” is. When I think about it, the concept is..rather..genius. You pay between $25-$35 to go to a rather large, open-air venue with a DJ and live performances by popular soca artists (Machel, Kes, etc etc). And that’s not even the best part – you walk with your own cooler full of whatever it is you want to drink..brilliant! So all in all, it works out to be a pretty good deal. (I imagine you can pack snacks too, but if you want something more substantial to eat, they have food vendors throughout the party).

Cooler fetes are a big deal in Trinidad. So much so that they even right features like the below in local publications. The subheadline reads, “Coolers are like lovers, each has their own special qualities and not every one is for you, but somewhere out there is your perfect match. How to find the one that will really fulfill your specific needs? Consider this a cheat sheet.”

If I had to choose..it would be The Portable.

Cooler fete

Getting the best cooler for your needs

So ‘Cooler Fetes’ are a great way to have a good time with your friends..without totally breaking the bank (I guess that also depends on how much you buy to put in the cooler and whether you only go for premium alcohol!). And since most of the people who attend these fetes are between the ages of 20-30,..and these fetes/parties/mini concerts take place every weekend before Carnival..it really goes over well. Oh, and on top of that, glass isn’t allowed inside of the venue – so fights with broken bottles are never a concern.

I went to my first Cooler Fete a few weeks ago..and I really understood why this system works so well. Not only from a financial standpoint but also from a logistical standpoint. I mean, having to fight up to get your drink in a crowd 1,000-2,000 people deep would be a nightmare..not only for patrons, but also for organizers. (I used to work in events back in Miami, so I always think about these things whenever I attend something new).

This is a flyer from a cooler fete that took place in Brooklyn, NY..I really really like this concept and think that event organizers all over the world could learn something from Trinis and how they fete. Has anyone heard of Cooler Fetes taking place outside of Trinidad/Caribbean communities elsewhere? That would be interesting to know..

Cooler fetes

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Anyway, I took a couple of ‘snapshots’ of my first cooler fete experience.

Cooler fetes

Coolers galore..

Cooler fetes

Whaddyuh know? They also double as stools..in case you need to see over the crowd..

Coolere fetes

Mixing drinks at the Cooler fete..some even brought their own snacks..yes they thought i was kind of crazy for wanting to take a picture of their "area." oh well.

Cooler fetes

My cousin showing us how it's done.."5 parts vodka, 1 part soda."

Cooler fetes

The beginning of the night..just getting started..

Cooler fetes

Crowd shot later in the night..party time!

I managed to capture a couple of videos of some of the performances..my favorite being when 2 white boys from Maryland got on stage and started to wine (third video..absolute hilarity! haha) If you listen closely to the first video of Kes performing, you can hear my dad say,, “ayyayyaaaa tune boy!” when Kes starts singing ‘Wotless.’ Classic. Good times.

Cooler fete

Maryland boys at Rehab..they were causing quite a stir at the party..especially the one on the left in his kilt.

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And that about wraps up this week’s Snapshot Saturdays!

woop woop!

Promise to get back to some more ummm…’thought provoking’ pieces next week. ūüėČ

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My first Rapso experience

I was walking outside of my office when I saw that the same wall that previously had remnants of erotic art week on it, had been painted over into..this..

3canal backyard jam session

3canal backyard jam session

3canal backyard jam session

3canal backyard jam session

I looked around for someone to ask about what the #Occupy2012* signified..and managed to find the painter – Benedict Fermin – somewhere in the back. He told me, “You know the¬†Occupy Movements¬†that are taking place around the world? Well, this is 3canal‘s¬†interpretation of the Occupy Movement. It’s meant to signify and encourage freedom of thought and freedom of expression,,which is what 3canal’s music stands for. Are you familiar with¬†3canal? With Rapso?”

To which I replied, “No..I’m not! I’m new to Trinidad..Who are they? What is Rapso?”

“Rapso is a form of ‘conscious music’..(note: for those of you (my int’l readers mainly) who don’t know what conscious music is..it’s a type of music that promotes social change, tolerance, and spiritual growth.¬†source). And 3canal is a Rapso band. They are going to be performing here for the next three friday nights in a row,,you should definitely come out and listen to some of their music, and learn more about their Jouvert¬†band. 3canal attracts a very diverse crowd..come and listen on Friday, ¬†you’ll enjoy it!”

(note: again, for those of you unfamiliar with Jouvert, I wrote a post about it here.)

3canal backyard jam sessions

the flyer - a better picture of the painted wall...

3canal jouvert band

photos from 3canal's jouvert band..

3canal jouvert band

photo from 3canal's jouvert band

source

And that’s just what I did..but not before doing some research on Rapso first..I was very interested to learn more about this type of music as I had never heard about it before. And after asking some of my friends about 3canal, they describe the band as “defining the Rapso genre.” “3canal is synonymous with Rapso..they are one and the same” they would say…

I wanted to dig deeper into Rapso and it’s origins..and this is what I found:

What is Rapso? 

There is a popular myth that rapso is the fusion of American rap music with soca, hence the name rapso. Sounds plausible, but it’s not true. Rapso is a unique style of street poetry from Trinidad and Tobago that originated in the 1970’s. Rapso was created to related to the everyday experiences of everyday people. The late Lacelot Layne is credited as the founder of this genre.

Also, according to¬†3canal, “Rapso is conscious music and is more of a philosophy and stance than an identifiable musical signature. It has been termed ‚ÄúThe Power of the Word in the Rhythm of the Word,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThe Poetry of Calypso‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúThe Consciousness of Soca.”

Origin 

During the 1970’s Trinidad and Tobago experience much political and social unrest. The 1970’s saw the rise of the Black Power Movement and a corresponding pro-African sentiment. Trade unions also began to take shape. This is the environment that also gave birth to Rapso. Some of the first Rapso songs were chanted on the picket lines.ta

The article went on to talk about Cheryl Byron and Brother resistance – some of the founding elders of Rapso…and how bands like 3canal which have combined the positive messages of Rapso music with dance rhythms, have done much to popularize Rapso music.¬†source

3canal

3canal

According to their website, ‘3canal¬†began their musical journey in 1997, with the song ‚ÄúBlue‚ÄĚ, a song which marked a turning point for the music industry of TnT. It became a benchmark for the new Sound of the music of Trinidad‚Äôs Carnival. Two years later they recorded ‚ÄúTalk yuh Talk‚ÄĚ [1999] a hard hitting response to all ‚Äúmocking pretenders of society‚ÄĚ. This went on to become an anthem for the dispossessed and voiceless.’

Last night, they were performing some of their new releases, ‘Can’t Done,’ ‘The Pappyshow,’ ‘Sacrifice,’ and ‘Work it Out.’

I managed to tape them performing a piece of ‘Can’t Done..’ check it out! (But my favorite song is definitely ‘The Pappyshow’..it has so much vibessss! I would’ve recorded 3canal performing it, but my camera ran out of memory! ūüė¶ )

I so should’ve gone up on stage..

3canal backyard jam session

The crowd..

My first Rapso experience was..refreshingly different. The music, the vibes, the people. You can’t help but smile when you watch 3canal perform.. their music is infectious. And unlike other artists that I’ve seen perform in Trinidad, you can tell that they perform with a purpose.. A purpose bigger than winning Soca Monarch, signing an endorsement contract, and encouraging slackness.. Their purpose is to inspire social change and enlightened thinking..all while having a damn good time.

So yeah,..you could say I’m officially a 3canal fan.

Can’t wait to rock my RAPSO shirt.

3canal

My rapso shirt!

3canal

the back of the shirt...word power riddum!

3canal will be performing at Bohemia lounge on 33 Murray Street in Woodbrook on January 27th and February 3rd.

Entrance is $50.

To learn more check out 3canal’s FB page¬†here, and their event pages¬†here¬†and¬†here.

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The Jersey Shore..in Trinidad

According to Urban Dictionary, the fist pump can be described as..

Fist Pump like a champ! Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino and Paul DelVecchio aka "Pauly D" of The Jersey Shore.

source

The ‘Fist Pump’ has actually be around a lot longer than The Jersey Shore..some even cite seeing incidences of “fist pumping” as¬†far back as the 1960’s. It is said¬†that “Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, both New Jersey natives, have been credited as playing a part in the rise of the first pump throughout history.”

Fist pumping is also a pretty common gesture in sports..

The famous Tiger Woods fist pump..

source

Rafa shows off his fist pump..

That being said, I’m sure we can all agree that it was the cast of The Jersey Shore¬†who catapulted the fist pump into popular culture. Not only in the States,,but all over the world.

"I would have liked to hug the Pope or do something, like fist-pump," Snooki says. "Because I made David Letterman fist pump; I can make anyone fist pump."

source

and sure enough,,she wasn’t lying..

Snooki teaching David Letterman how to fist pump!

If you’ve never seen what the fist pump looks like..watch this video of Vinny Guadagnino aka “Vinny G” showing ‘how to fist pump the jersey shore way’. Skip to 2:20.

Where am I going with this? Well…since I’ve been back in Trinidad, I’ve been noticing a trend. A Jersey Shore inspired fist pumping trend..

Everything from the word “pump/pumpin'” used in everyday speech..

We going an pump tonight..” “We pumpin’ tonight.

To “fist pumping and jumping” songs created by local artists..

Actually, here is a pic of two of my friends doing the fist pump to Nebula 868’s song last Friday at Rossco’s!

fist pumping in Trinidad

The fist pump has reached Trinidad!

And advertisements.. “We pumpin’ with Digiciel!”

And this? This is probably the saddest use of fist pumping anywhere in the world! You have to watch this HI-LO ad where the animated dollar sign fist pumps..too funny!

I asked a few of my friends..when ‘fist pumping’ became so popular in Trinidad and when the words ‘pump/pumpin’ became adopted into speech.. As in all of my previous visits to Trini, I had never really heard the word/term being used before..

And sure enough, they all pretty much had the same thing to say..confirming my suspicions,, “You know that show The Jersey Shore?

Yeah,” I would say..

Yeah…well it started to become popular right around there..when the show started. Trini’s love to piggy back on everything American. Even if we don’t like to admit it.

Ok.. so maybe this is a hasty generalization..but so far, I can provide no other explanation for the prevalence of ‘fist pumping’ in Trinidadian pop culture! Can you? And to be honest,,I’m still not really sure how I feel about the trend.. Fist pumping in Trinidad? I mean, it’s kinda ridiculous. What’s next? Did¬†planking¬†ever pick up here? What about¬†owling? (lol.. owling. bahaha).

I wonder if Snooki would considering coming down to Trinidad to teach Kamla how to fist pump…I mean, she taught David Letterman! That would definitely be the day.

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Trinidad – the next ‘it’ island?

“Trinidad is not pi√Īa colada territory. That‚Äôs part of its allure: Unlike virtually every other Caribbean island, the oil-rich country seven miles off Venezuela¬†is not driven by tourism ‚ÄĒ which means that in lieu of sunbathing hordes and ‚ÄúYah, Mon‚ÄĚ T-shirts, you‚Äôll find miles of unspoiled beaches¬†and waterfalls visited by locals; a Creole culture with roots in Africa, India, Europe and China; and a bustling capital city offering some of the Caribbean‚Äôs most electrifying night life. Partying, after all, is a national tradition in Trinidad, home to an annual Carnival that is the region‚Äôs biggest and, lately, most star-studded (last year, the actors Idris Elba and Malik Yoba showed up). That, along with recent restaurant and hotel openings and trendy Trini ambassadors ‚ÄĒ from the rappers Nicki Minaj and Theophilus London to the ‚ÄúProject Runway‚ÄĚ winner Anya Ayoung Chee ‚ÄĒ might just turn Trinidad into the next ‚Äúit‚ÄĚ island.” – an excerpt from a recent New York Times Article:¬†36 hours in Trinidad

Anya Ayoung-Chee

Anya.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

Theophilus London

Theophilus London

Everyone knows Nicki,,but does everyone know Theo? I didn’t know about him till this NY Times article..and now I can’t stop listening to him..

And…

How could’ve the NY times have left out Vashtie? Vashtie Kola – a.k.a. Va$htie or “Downtown’s Sweetheart” – is an artist, video director/producer, clothing designer,¬†party promoter and entrepreneur. She’s directed videos for Solange, Kid Cudi, Jadakiss, and even Justin Beiber..and throws parties in NYC with QTIP. She also has her own clothing line,¬†Violette¬†which got her a collaboration with Jordan – making her the first woman to ever have her own Jordan.

Vashtie and her Jordan collaboration

The Jordan Vashtie designed..

Kola was born and raised in Albany, New York and is of East Indian and Afro-Trinidadian descent.¬†In March 2009, Vibe Magazine¬†listed her among the “31 Most Stylish People Under 31.” She came in at the 23rd spot amongst names like Kanye West, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake. In an interview¬†about being American on the outside but Trinidadian on the inside, she had this to say “My parents are and were very Trinidadian and very traditional in that manner. For me I know that my parents would always talk about American kids and the difference in culture between there and Trinidad. We ate traditional food. My mum would show me Trinidadian music and movies. Once I walked in my door it seemed like Trinidad.

Vashtie

Vashtie..

Anyhow,,I’m getting further and further from the point.

Now is an interesting time in Trinidad. This country is in flux,,in the midst of evolution. Especially after Anya’s highly publicized ‘Project Runway’ win..all eyes are on TNT to prove to the world (and itself) that this dual-island nation is so much more than just..Carnival. (Or maybe that’s just what I would like to see for the country?)

This is not to say I don’t like Carnival (although I won’t hide the fact that I’m no Carnival baby). On the contrary, I recognize what Carnival means to Trinidad (both culturally and economically) and what the annual festival has done to ‘put Trinidad on the map’ so to speak, in terms of the international exposure and tourism. And, what’s more..I think Carnival has provided the ¬†foundation on which a new ‘generation’ of creative professionals plan to build great things..transformative things. Things, and experiences that showcase Trinidadian culture, customs, and ability all throughout the year – not only for a couple of days in February/March.

Recently I’ve been finding myself in discussions with artists, architects, film makers, designers, writers, …advertising and communication professionals.. Most of whom share similar profiles: educated/lived abroad and and have returned to Trinidad to put their education/experience to good use. Some, like me, are in the middle of getting to know Trinidad for the very first time. They are¬†eager. Eager to take a holistic, transformative approach in developing Trinidad along more creative, artistic, and sustainable lines. They see this as being the “way forward” for this country..and think that there is no better opportunity than now to be part of this movement. I agree.

Trinidad is ready for a new Trinidad. This country is ripe with opportunity. Overripe almost.

I thought about this when I picked up the first print edition of Trinidad Lookbook last week.. Before it ran in print, Trinidad Lookbook was previously an online magazine/blog. This in itself piqued my interest about the publication..as many people have asked me why I don’t look into turning my Beiruti blog¬†into a book. One of my main arguments was always, “Why would people pay for a book when they can get my content online..for free.” But flipping through the pages of Trinidad Lookbook, definitely made me think twice about my previous apprehension. From what I understand though, the case with Trinidad Lookbook is different as as the content that appears in the magazine is exclusive content that cannot be sourced online – which is the completely opposite stance most publications are taking these days.

As Robert (@mezblaq)¬†over at Tribal Caribbean¬†noted,¬†“In a time when ‚Äėthe death of print‚Äô seems to be looming ever closer, it’s quite interesting for a company to do something so ‚Äėbackward‚Äô as it were, to start digitally and move into traditional media.” When Robert asked T’dad Lookbook Editor, Mel Gabriel (@tdadlookbook), on ‘why transition now, especially into what many consider a dying medium’ she had this to say “There‚Äôs a general misconception that print is dying‚Ķ almost everything is digital now ‚Äď like, life is extra-digital – so print is the new luxury and we wanted to provide a luxury option for fashion publishing that isnt the typical Facebook page or Twitter feed.”

I couldn’t agree with Mel more..print has become a luxury. However it will be interesting to note whether Lookbook continues to separate their online content from their print content..or choose instead to run their print content online.

Trinidad LookBook

Trinidad Lookbook

To be honest, I was a bit hesitant when I picked up this publication as my experience with other local publications (which shall remain nameless) have been..disappointing to say the least. (They are usually nothing more than photographic reviews of the latest fetes..sprinkled with a few restaurant/bar reviews to justify running ads) But as soon as I read ‘The Editor”..Mel’s introduction to her first print edition..I knew Trinidad Lookbook was, well..different. The features are more than well-written..they are intriguing, thought-provoking, and most importantly,,honest. They give insight into the up-and-coming industries in Trinidad: fashion, design, art. And… they are written for everyone, not only for the fashion-obsessed.

Trinidad Lookbook
10 questions with Anya feature..
Trinidad Lookbook

Style spread..

I enjoyed reading about Anya and Wendy yes, but I also enjoyed reading the “Fashion Emergency” piece about how fashion changed (or didn’t) during the SOE/curfew when people started to go to day time parties instead of nighttime parties..as well as about the artist/attorney Justin Sobion. The art direction and photography are also superb.. My favorites? The candid shots of Anya in “10 with Anya” and “Ayana Riviere’s Fashion Diary” as shot by Kibwe Brathwaite (@KibweBrathwaite)..(Ayana is such a beauty! wow!) And finally the layout and design of the publication – ¬†by Abovegroup Ogilvy (@ag_ogilvy) – is clean, modern, and sophisticated..and ties the whole thing together.

Trinidad Lookbook

Wendy, Darling..feature

Trinidad Lookbook
Ayana Riviere’s style spread

All in all, I am impressed..and am looking forward to the next edition. This is what Trinidad needs..these types of publications and creative expressions. I am convinced. I mean, aren’t you?

My only criticism? Like Ceola B (@ceolab) pointed out on¬†her blog, “Perhaps it is the type of paper or maybe this was a production ‘flaw’ but some of the photographs are far too dark, losing a lot of detailing in the clothing and accessories, which really, is the whole point of this [publication]. This was especially evident to me in the set with Manwarren, Steel and Emmanuel where clothing was described in the caption and I could not distinguish it.”

But I’m sure they’ll fix this by the next edition.

As usual, this post ended up starting as one thing and turning into something else. I hope you made it to the end..I know it was a long one.

Follow Trinidad Lookbook on Twitter, Facebook and on their website..and pick up your complimentary edition of Trinidad Lookbook at the follow locations:

The Pallet Stick, POS

Meiling’s No. 6 studio

Runway Street, Woodbrook

Bang Bang, Frederick Street

Bang Bang, High Street, San Fernando

Bang Bang, Trincity

So Chic Boutique in Francis Plaza, Chaguanas

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Snapshot Saturdays

So right around the corner from where I work there is this bakery that sells pastries and pies..and puffs. Yep puffs..these cute little pastry bread things filled with either cheese, tuna, or chicken.. (Cheese puffs are my favorite)..

Usually I try to avoid them, opting instead for my usual “coffee with milk please.” But sometimes, I like to indulge.. Here are some photos of some of the more “Trini” offerings..

Trini food

Cheese puffsters..my fav. aren't they just the cutest?

Trini food

Currant roll.. a pastry made with currants (similar to raisins..)

Trini food

Coconut roll and jam tart (never had a coconut roll..looks interesting..maybe a bit rich tho?)

Trini food

Spinach pies and fish pies..

I asked the cashier whether sales were down since it’s only 30 something days until Carnival ¬†and everyone I know is on a “Carnival crash diet” which basically consists of not eating. Surprisingly she said, “No! Business is as usual! Same people come in everyday, order the same thing and never get fat!

Incredible..

Happy Saturday!

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POTHOUND – A Short Film

This has to be one of the best, most touching short films I’ve ever seen..hands down. And the fact that it’s out of Trinidad makes it that much better.

For those of you who don’t know, (I’m not sure if this term is used outside of Trinidad)..

A pothound (prounced ‘pothong’ in Trinidad) is a term used to describe a dog of mixed or intermediate breed..a street dog frequently associated with getting into mischief. (Another name would be dustbin terrier)..

Not only is this video expertly shot and directed, but it chronicles the beautiful journey of a “pothong”¬†as he makes his way throughout Trinidad, helping people he encounters along the way.

(double click on the video to enlarge..)

“Pothound” has been blowing up all over Facebook and Twitter in Trinidad over the past couple of days..and I had to do my part in getting it out there. I’m so happy to know we have such talented filmmakers and animators in Trinidad and Tobago. I’m proud. So proud.

Please watch and share.

For more on the makers please visit bepperton.com, trinidadandtobagofilm.com.

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Snapshot Saturdays..

I was warned that when I came back from Miami the gym would be packed with swarms of “birds” ¬†preparing their bodies for Carnival – which is only, what? 40 something days away? And I mean, I don’t blame them.. Parading your body over a 2 day period for the whole world to see takes a considerable amount of..well..confidence.. Although Carnival does attract women of all colors, sizes, and shapes..

Anyway, as somebody who goes to the gym pretty frequently, I know first hand that it takes work to look like this..

Trini women Carnival

Gabrielle Walcott - the reigning Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe

Trini women Carnival

Trinidad's pride and joy - Anya Ayoung-Chee - Season 9 Project Runway Winner

Trini women Carnival

yep!

Trini women Carnival

Yep!

Trini women Carnival

Yep!

All photos by the talented Devinath

So, I prepared myself this week to deal with massive amounts of women all hot and sweaty to get on Kanye’s Work out plan..even the trainers warned me that it was about to get seriously out of control..

But to my surprise..it was the opposite..the gym was…empty!! (score!) Which left me to wonder, where are all of the women?!?

Women prepare their bodies for carnival in Trinidad

empty!!..but quite the view, huh. Best gym view ever.

Women prepare their bodies for carnival..

Seriously, where is everybody?

Maybe they’re still digesting their pastelles and Christmas ham? Who knows. But I’m loving it. ūüôā

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