DASHEEN

Oct
03

Sunday Sessions: Positive is How I Live!

Happiness is a Child

Sometimes I wonder when thinking and/or speaking positive got such a negative connotation. As in, when did it become cooler to just ignore and not invest in such an activity?

Is it a reflection of the world we live (economic, political, social etc.)?
Is it the popularity of an Oprah?
The overpopulation of self-help gurus?
The advent of life coaches?
The Church of Scientology? (I’m being serious here!)
President Obama and his way with words?

I get the junior high—high school reality where peer pressure ruled the day and few escaped unscathed or unscarred. It took courage to be who you were when you weren’t even sure. Or maybe you knew and just kept a low profile. But the adult resistance (and yes I do realize and know that adult peer pressure is very real) to lending a positive or encouraging word is a tough pill to swallow.

I used to say that good intentions are just that—good intentions. But just because you don’t have to end where you begin, doesn’t necessarily mean that if you began well you should fall into the trend of positivity being out of style.

There was a time in my life when I never smiled—in pictures, in my everyday life. Just didn’t even know how to make my face do anything else but be serious. I remember folks saying “smile, stop push up you face” or a random suggestion to “smile sis, I mean it’s gonna be OK.” The nerve right!? lol And yet, I could always muster up something for a stranger and then they would say, ‘that’s more like it.’ Now that’s some encouragement—on a New York street no less.

I never understood the power of a smile until maybe the last several years. It changed everything, my mood, the atmosphere, even down to my (sometimes) rotten intentions.

I had an episode at the J C Penney store that I will never forget for as long as I live. I was browsing the racks and caught a lady in my peripheral. We made eye contact and she was talking on her cell phone—I mean an animated conversation too. You know like the phone in the crook of her neck and hands just sifting through the racks as only women on a mission can do. She stopped when our eyes met, slid the phone down and held it against her chest and said “Jesus loves you” and then “you know that right? You understand that he loves you?”

I must have nodded in the affirmative, or done something that let her know I had heard, because she went back to her conversation and her sifting and I kind of stood in place reeling. You’ve got to know I almost broke down right there, and not because I didn’t know that Jesus loved me. But the moment held punch for all that a stranger had stopped in mid-stride to tell me this and I was going along, minding my own business, and I didn’t know I needed to hear the words.

I so did!

Imagine what more those words would/could do for someone who didn’t know they were special and peculiar and just highly favored. I mean I was having a good day, and a stranger made it great. That’s the kind of encouragement I’m talking about, the seemingly unnecessary kind.

I’ve started writing notes to myself again. I used to do it when I was small to remind myself of how I felt in a moment. I didn’t know what I was doing, so in love with words and the act of writing everything and anything down.

Today I write emails to myself, to remind myself of who I am. Of who I wants to be. Of great times and my hope for better times. And often, I write to remind myself of all the reasons I need to remain light and salt.

I could make any choice on any day of the week, but this week I want to make a stab at being truly positive. When I feel those walls closing in or a “heifer” rises too easily to my lips, I want to remember a little mercy and even a little love.

I love Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” for every reason under the sun that is positive. Check it!

And to know me is to know I love the King James Version of the Bible, so here’s the scriptural reference that pulled this post:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Sep
27

Music Monday: Kevin Lyttle’s Turn Me On

Kevin Lyttle

So this isn’t a NEW music Monday post in the purest sense of the topic. But allow me some space and walk with me for a bit.

The first time I heard Kevin Lyttle’s song Turn Me On I was excited and it had nothing to do with a provocative title and/or lyrics. It was more of a collective good vibe, and my good vibes were rising from video to song to artist to island. It had everything to do with pride! I mean one of my best sparries and I-dren is from St. Vincent and I just wanted to kind of shout for all Vincy Massive!!

That was in 2004.

Well, well, imagine my surprise when I was told point blank by my sis something along the lines of ‘gyal, (chupse) that song so old. Alyou lated buddy!’ LOL It really doesn’t even make sense to translate, just know that the song was not a new hit as I assumed, but an old one.

Mind you, this is par for the course in the Caribbean. When you have a big tune and it hits hard. I mean it does hit HARD!!! You talking massive attack. And it ain’t nothing for your song to run through genres and then come back again to you shining like the diamond it was in the first place.

Case in point Mr. Lyttle and his ditty.

“Turn Me On” is the first single from Kevin Lyttle’s self-titled debut album. The song is originally a soca ballad recorded in 2001 but released in 2003, however in the United States it was released in summer 2004 and slightly remixed into a dance hit rather than a soca hit.

Fast forward to 2010. I heard the song about twice last week and I just had to smile. Who knew, but it was still a feel-good hit in my musical vocabulary. Yes, even with the reference to “popcorn and Sprite.”

As an aside, I was always stopped short by this proclamation of popcorn and Sprite as a prelude to love. But, to each his own, so let’s lay aside those delicacies for now.

I went searching for Kevin Lyttle’s Turn Me On to add the video here, and what did I find? Why the original version of the song and video of course. And what do you know, no popcorn and sprite to be had.

If you’re reading Mr. Lyttle, hit me up, let me know what happened there? I mean seriously. LOL

But before I get too preoccupied, here’s the original version—I’m absolutely loving the yardy feel.

For anyone missing the version popularized by TRL (yes I remember) and 106&Park (Where AJ and Free at?) here’s a link.

Chart Performances
The song performed very well on the Billboard Hot 100, staying months on the chart and peaking at number four. The song was also successful worldwide, reaching number two in the United Kingdom for two weeks (being the best selling non new entry song twice), number one in Denmark, and number three in Australia.

Cover versions
As with most songs that become an overnight hit, “Turn Me On” has been covered by numerous artists, including Raghav, Jay Sean and CocoRosie. There was also a female response from 2 Play called, “Got Me Wrong”.

Sep
26

Sunday Sessions: Lessons Learned

The Secret Garden

“Mi Mommy never warn me.”

I’m using the above petulant theme song of someone I know and love to warm up to this topic. This person says these words when he wants to give voice to all the things that no one puts in a manual about love, marriage and women in particular.

And he’s right, for there are things we simple will never know outside of our own experiences. There are things that we simply must walk through the fire to comprehend. And yet, there are those things that we can and should be prepared to face, and yet never receive the opportunity because someone simply refused to share.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard a parent or some respected adult-intermediary repeat some version of “you’ll thank me someday.” I’ve had that moment where I said: “You know mommy, you were right” and I meant it. I don’t know what she felt hearing the words. I don’t know if it made up for the constant rebellions or the fire starter that I was and still can be.

At the same time, I am well aware that there are things that this woman who loved me exclusively did not share, could not share, for reasons she never voiced and reasons I never inquired.

I am privileged to call a commanding circle of woman my friends and mentors. We are separated by an age range that starts where mines begins—32— up to 35 years my junior. Even with the years we somehow connect on any number of topics. I have had at least three of these women share with me over time their stories of molestation at the hands of trusted family and/or so-called family friends.

I don’t know how we got to that point. It was simple conversations, and then the floodgates.

I have zero illusions about the numbers of women who have experienced molestation as children, teenagers and/or young adults. When I think about the silence that women can wear as armor, I am convinced that the prevailing numbers are too low.

So, I wasn’t shocked at what was shared; I was surprised at the disclosure that there was also no intention of sharing with children who were well on their way in this world, and some who had left home already without that certain knowledge.

I pray this does not come off as judgmental, I do not have children after all, and I have my own skeletons; but even beyond the broad scope of molestation, I continue to be struck dumb and practically mute by the things parents keep from their children, under the guise of protection read: fear.

So, what are we really hiding?

  • The fact that we’re human
  • The fact that we were caught up before we had good sense
  • The fact that before them, there were others that didn’t make it to the other side of our indecision
  • The fact that we didn’t listen to good advice
  • The fact that some neighbor, cousin, friend, daddy, step-whomever, uncle, pastor hurt us so bad, that to this day even if we brave enough to look someone in the eye and say it, we still can’t look at ourselves, much less our children in the eye.

This is not about just anyone—some stranger, neighbor, teacher, friend, family member—telling YOUR children what you don’t want them to know about their bodies, their sexuality, their mortality, their spirituality etc etc.

This is about YOU and the ones that look up to you, even after they pass you in height or hit 18 and above. These are your babies, and they need you, whoever you are; but they need the truth more.

I read this quote in Acts of Faith

“Some kids do what you say. Some kids do what you say do not do. But all kids do what you do.”

I have a personal stake in this. I am that child—that daughter. Listen to me when I say that I am coming from the position of someone who is still trying to understand and move beyond fear at times.

I understand that there is pain, and then there is buried pain, and then there is a funeral every day.

I need that to stop. Just like that? Yes! It’s a vicious, mind-bending cycle and I need it to stop for all of us, because I don’t know if we are going to make it carrying around that sort of pain/scars/baggage. I need us to be better and then I want us to move from here/there/wherever we are and become the best of ourselves. I want that for you, for me and for our children—the ones who are here and the ones who are on their way.

And while this post can’t help but focus on mothers since they’re the ones who opened the door for this week’s Sunday Sessions, I want fathers and others to see themselves represented.

There is still time to tell your stories. We’re listening…

Sep
20

Mane Attraction: Salon Date

Salon Date side profile

Why must a visit to the salon, render us, as women, so vulnerable, so potentially victimized?

If you think that’s dramatic ask any woman, cross any culture, listen to her stories. It’s rough out there.

I haven’t been to the salon in three years. I was and am content to live my life on my own hair terms. But sometimes, just sometimes, I long to put myself in the hands of another in the name of pampering. Think spa here, Ayurvedic to be exact, and a lady with most delicate hands pouring ghee oil over your hair, as you lay on your back, close your eyes and give yourself over to pure feeling and she massages your scalp.

This is a slice of heaven—trust me. And that lovely feeling was just one of two reasons I decided to step foot in someone’s hair salon/academy.

The other was Afrobella. She blogged recently about the great experience she had at an Aveda salon in New York City, during her jaunt there for Fashion Week. I was inspired. I knew of the local Aveda Academy, which I passed quite regularly. And with the faith in a co-worker and friend who also loved going there, I thought hmmm. and just went for it.

I knew what I wanted. A wash, deep-deep-DEEP condition, preferable with a steamer on hand and a blow-out (haven’t had that in over two years) that I thought might aid in the trim I knew I needed to get rid of the last bit of damaged ends, whaich still lingered post-hair color so long ago. My appointment was made for two Fridays ago.

I should have known from the first call, where I waited while someone went to ask if the salon/academy “did” natural hair, that just maybe the actual salon experience would not be as I envisioned.

The place was buzzing. I mean there was a line. I must have waited for a good 20 minutes. I didn’t mind. When I finally sat in that chair, I immediately felt out of place. This beautiful, and I mean GORGEOUS Mila Kunis look-alike wanted to know if I had asked for her specifically.

“No,” I assured. “I called and asked if you guys cared for natural hair and the lady said yes.”

“Oh, because that’s how I started.” She reassured.

You would think after that last, I would have relaxed, but there was something about the way she was looking at my hair and asking me what I wanted done, where I felt like, this lady does not know what to do with me, or my hair.

I looked around, there were at least three naturals (two stylists and one instructor). They weren’t on my head, but it couldn’t be that bad. I think I actually thought that they would come to my rescue, if need be—as if that was their responsibility.

My hair was in plaits (I really should have unplaited them already) and so we both went to town. Her combs were too small and there was lots of tugging. That’s a no-no in my world. I had the good sense and courage to say, we need a wide tooth comb. OK, minimal damage done and we’re off to wash.

I was really looking forward to this part as I hinted before. Unfortunately, this portion was short-lived (I felt like they were preserving stock) and there was so much rubbing of hair and not scalp that this is where I started to tear up a little on the inside. I thought, let’s just get through this. After a quick condition and rinse, I reached my fingers up to feel, to reassure myself that hair was still there. It was soft to the touch, but that didn’t mean anything when my insides were turning over.

She asked: “How does it feel?” I said “soft” as if that summed up how I felt.

The next almost killed me. What I thought would be a blow out (which I requested) turned into an education in the ways and means of a flat iron. I’ve never used a flat iron, have no plans to after that experience. All I remember saying was: you don’t have to get it straight-straight. I never ever wear my hair like that and I don’t plan to. She, however, was determined to get me straight. An hour later I was straighter than I have ever, ever been as a natural and we were ready to trim.

I was done in, over and out by then and still I kept silent. Fifteen minutes later I was trimmed. I kept reassuring myself, and promising my hair, when I get home I will fix this—whatever the damage, I will fix it.

If all this sounds like I blame my Mila, I don’t. Nope!

In fact, I blame myself, since with all my customary boldness, I could and should have opened my mouth and said thanks, but no thanks, or even it’s not you, it’s me. Instead I said nothing. I sat there wincing, my body of its own volition saying what I refused to say—I don’t like this. This is not what I wanted.

What’s interesting is that I was looking around and every woman there was smiling, saying how much they loved their hair and I just knew that it wasn’t always the case.

In the end it was a waiting game. I had to wait until I next washed to see if my hair would revert. There were good signs along the way, along my sides and nape, but that’s to be expected with the texture there. The top, which has almost no spring in its step, unless manipulated, refused until the bitter end.

I am happy to report that my hair is doing well. After I washed it this weekend, it regained it’s curl pattern, and I was pleased with the final final results of my trim.

Still, the end did not justify the means. It could have ended very differently, and all because I gave up my power to choose and say no, in the wake of a feeling of helplessness, while sitting in someone’s salon chair.

I wish I understood the psychology behind that. I wish I could assure myself that if I ever ended up in someone’s salon chair and was unhappy, that I would say so and happily exit. But I do not know.

I highly doubt that I will find my way back to the salon. No hard feelings and no disrespect intended. It’s just not my current bag. However, my trip there was informative, and had me dreaming about opening a natural salon/academy locally. It is very much needed.

In the meantime, I consider this trip another lesson for the journey.

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Sep
17

Lime: The Wine Room on Park Avenue

The Wine Room

I am not a wine connoisseur. I love cheap wine with a passion! I am not even a very graceful drinker. A sip or two, here and there and the husband is whispering in my ear. With such a history, for a first installment of Friday Lime, I think I acquitted myself quite well at The Wine Room on Park Avenue. This is not a what-happens-at-The-Wine-Room-stays-at-The-Wine-Room-story. Here’s my newbie review:

Parking is tricky in the Winter Park area. I’ve lived on Lee Road and often felt like hoofing it to any date/errand on Orange Ave, even as far as Morse and onto Park Avenue. But then I remember that this is Orlando, and for all it’s charm, O-Town is more metro than pedestrian. I still think it makes sense to park off-off Park and not on it for the sheer stress and/or sweat factor if you’re already running a bit late, and that in 5 1/2 (not 8inch) wedges.

Upon arrival, I was slightly underwhelmed at the onset. I’m a tactile person, I don’t like entering a place where I am uncertain what to touch. I know it’s strange, and you’re probably thinking why do you need to touch something in a new place. In my defense, I think it has much to do with knowing my clumsier self intimately and recognizing more than one opportunity where I could easily get into trouble (see The Moments below).

Ambiance:
Imagine a small boutique for wine that is a cross between a library and a jewelry store. I can’t lie, by virtue of so many choices; I found it all a bit overwhelming. (My guardian angel kept whispering: ‘Don’t press your face up against the glass T, people are watching.’ And quickie instruction from my dear friend: ‘You have to press it harder T.’) So much work for an ounce! However, if you know your way around a wine bottle, then certainly you would be in your element.

The Winning Selections:

    – The Sweetest of the bunch and a personal fave was a

Pacific Rim

    Sweet Riesling. At $2.00 to the ounce (average price) it was one smooth operator and listed as:

fragrant, moderately sweet with flavors of pear, pineapple and peach; perfect with fiery fare from Thai Szechuan or Caribbean Cuisine.

    So they had me at hello :).

– Next on tap, The Chocolate Block. Need I say more. Seriously this was all of its claim of dark chocolate and smoky flavors.

– I had to have a Shiraz somebody. I don’t know enough about wines to care. My college choice was an Australian Shiraz that was a very doable $3.99/bottle. Tonight, I sampled Layer Cake, A South African Shiraz vintage 2009. This one made me wish I had some strawberries and/or ginger snaps. Go figure!

There might have been one more, but I can’t remember and every time I took out my writing pad there was a line and impatient looks.

The Moments:

    – My new (fave) messenger bag grazing the neck of a French red and sending it to the concrete. Of course you know my hands went up, and before I knew it “it wasn’t me” came flying out. Was that the sound of disbelief meeting my ears? Why yes. What’s a girl to do but move on. I felt guilty enough then, to take a sip of something forgettable at $2.00 an ounce.

– Finding a partner in my unending search for cheap wine, (thank you Sir Ian) particularly in a place where cheap is not even relative or comparative. $1.00 to $6.00 an ounce really just becomes more about an experience and not so much my budgetary constraints.

– Having a young lady, totally miss the spout and have her wine spray on moi while listening to her beau ask her repeatedly, did you get any on you. *hand raised — umm hello, target is just a little to the right, there. Yes. it’s OK. To her and her barely there dress: “you’re gonna be fine” and a smile.

– Sharing a taste of my friends’ selection. The winner from another’s cup. An unfussy white Riesling as sparkling and pure as the one offering.

Would I go back: That all depends on whether this man I’m trying to finesse, who seems to be oh so tired of reading his name in print agrees to accompany me.

Happy Conclusions: Drinking wine alone $4.95 a bottle. Sharing wine with friends – Priceless!

The Wine Room on Park Avenue, in Winter Park, Florida [is a] unique combination of wine bar and wine shop, buying and tasting wine becomes a completely involving experience. Our state-of-the-art Enomatic dispensing system allows you to sample up to 150 wines in 1, 2.5 or 5 ounce portions. Then, when you find one or more that you prefer, you may purchase your wine by the bottle, and/or sip your selections in a cozy setting of leather sofas and armchairs. While you’re relaxing, you can complement your wine choices with a selection of hand-crafted meats and cheeses. Let The Wine Room be your guide as you explore the delectable and delightful world of wine by the glass or by the bottle.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER

Hi there, I’m Tynisha C. Leon, writer, West Indian, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination. Join the culture chat on Facebook and Twitter! If you’d like to contribute, drop me a line here, I’d love to read/see your unique views! Bless up!

 

Sep
15

Wanted: A Cobbler and A Sleek, Tall Black Boot

Orange Mani

Yes, a Cobbler. A person who makes or mends shoes. I think every woman or man should meet one, sit with one, observe as they create, or at the very least, mend a shoe. You don’t have to have a shoe fetish to understand the allure, or dare I say want to learn.

When I was a young girl heading off to elementary it was in fact elementary to have Honeyman—that was our local cobbler/shoeman in St. Kitts (Sugar City) get our kicks ready for the first day. I don’t know if I thought the results of his labor were the most attractive things, but at that time miraculously, I wasn’t the sort of child to make shoe demands. All the grandchildren had the same, and that would take away any sting.

Now with a name like Honeyman, you may begin to understand any subconscious attachment that was formed.  You may even begin to discern that I have great expectations of a shoe’s beginning, on through its life expectancy after purchase and  in that its overall evolution.  And there begins my trouble…

My need for a Cobbler currently stems most directly from three pairs of shoes that I love which are in dire need, but also from that Fall state-of-mind, since I also need, yes need a boot. Specifically a sleek, black, tall (in heel and length of shaft) boot.

On the streets of New York, there are Cobblers everywhere. They actually call themselves that. Nothing necessarily attractive about these working men, except for their hands, and that studied, almost unearthly utilitarian skill. You might be able to learn carpentry and woodwork or welding in someone’s school of thought, but you learn cobbling at someone’s feet or not at all.

Is it any wonder that I feel the way I do. A Cobbler knows a woman. They understand us. There is nothing like a man who anticipates the need, and can take your shoe and heel, and with tools that defy the death of a shoe give you back your pride and a small measure of grace.

I’ve had a broken heel twice in my life and each time, both in separate sections of NYC, a Cobbler has been so close I could practically touch him; and I did because I didn’t have the words for shame, and he took what I offered, on each occasion, and I knew that everything would be alright.

My last great significant memory of a Cobbler is of the one who fixed a boot that I loved with the kind of awkward passion reserved for first times. It was 2000 in Queens, New York. I had slipped into the Steve Madden store in my local mall and stood transfixed at the sight of “the boot”—“my boot” on display. It was the most sumptuous black leather, tall as it rose to heights just below the knee and strikingly shaped with a unique rounded toe that upturned slightly off center. The heel wasn’t diva either. But at the most maybe 2 3/4 inches, they had their own attitude, and I worked every last inch.

I was instantly ready to purchase, but wouldn’t you just know there was a young girl looking at me like the world was hers and in particular “my boot.” And so we had a stalemate. She had the left shoe and I the right of it. Or I was wearing half of my shoe and she was determinedly struggling with the other.

I knew I would win, I was just waiting for her to figure it out. There were tears in her eyes and her mother tried to console her. “The boot”—“my boot” wouldn’t fit. It was an issue of a zipper that refused the ownership of calves. When her mother brought me my boot, she said “she does ballet.”

I must have commiserated, but inside I was smiling, preening actually, if one could do such a thing without an audience.

I got the side eye, I got compliments, I fell flat on my butt in the snow in the middle of midtown Manhattan in those boots. They were my babies. I had them for 5 years before the cold of winter began to penetrate the worn-to-the-ground sole. I didn’t imagine a solution, but my dad offered to take them to a Cobbler in Brooklyn.

When those shoes returned, they smelled like shoe polish and leather. They smelled like a very good Cobbler had had his way with them.  They smelled like Honeyman.

I have no idea why I moved to Orlando without them. I am imagining something like too much baggage (physically and emotionally) and the feeling of just wanting to start over. But I miss them.

So, I’m not actively looking for a sleek, black, tall boot with my name on it, because the great ones always find you.

However, the Cobbler. Well, if anyone knows of one in the surrounding area, please let me know. I am willing to go the distance.

ABOUT THE WRITER
Sep
13

New Music Monday: Rebels with a Cause

Rebel Control - Hold on to Love

“If you got to be a rebel, be a rebel with a cause” Bugle – Journeys

I hope this is not a well-kept secret, but reggae music is a love language.

It’s always been about love. Whether it’s a love of community, a higher self, freedom, love for the sake of love and yes, even and especially God—Jah!

The reggae artists who become iconic and stay relevant cross the Jordan of love and touch that mecca more times in song than many experience in this life. It’s a deep well this reggae thing and the invitation is spread far and wide to drink up. That’s a righteous thing!

Put Rebel Control into this mix and you get Hold On To Love.

It’s a single that “imagines ‘Harvest For The World’ era Isley Brothers laced with the finest, conscious reggae.” Don’t be surprised if you find yourself seduced by this wonderfully uplifting song where “impassioned vocals are supported by lush, soulful harmonies, mellow acoustic guitars punctuated by staccato horns, all propelled by a killer-riddim section and a dash of 70’s funk.”

I can’t deny them their love. And I’ve been singing their praises ever since that first link, look and listen.

Rebel Control is Andy Baron and Richie Concrete or Concrete Johnson. They both write the music. Andy sings lead and Concrete produces.

Interviewing Andy was an event in itself. “You wouldn’t believe what just happened,” he said with the sudden quiet of London by the Sea i.e. Brighton behind him. And of course, I couldn’t imagine. “Someone was killed in the community. I just got back. Everyone is broken up. I had to help with that you know.”

As easy as you please, and of course I encouraged his speakeasy.

“Rebel control is for rebels. But its really all about the love. Too many times its all about the money, but for us it’s about the love.”

And how did this love finally manifest itself as Rebel Control?

“Kind of strange really…”

Strange?

“I went to see my dad. I spent 7 months with him in Kingston, Jamaica. He took me to the studio. I loved it. Then around 1999/2000 I broke my ankle. I couldn’t work for 6 months. I had a guitar in the house. Everyone else played it. I mean everyone else would come over and play it. I never did. And then one day I picked it up and it was like I was reborn again.”

Sounds like destiny. You know Andy, I have to say that your live sets are stellar. The vibe is so right and natural.

“Thank you. Thank you. I just always wanted to perform. When my friends see me on stage, they can’t quite believe. I’m quiet, not major quiet, but a little quiet. I just like to be watched I guess. Thing is, I’ve always wanted to sing since years ago. Big Michael Jackson fan. 30 years later I’ve got a boy and he’s madly in love with Michael. My dad is a singer as well. He always said, it’s in the Levi’s family—it’s in the jeans. At 16 I got into reggae. I just loved the groove. I love music and I love melodies. I listen to lots of music, the stuff that I went dancing to. If I love a song then I love it forever.”

So, this feeling, this single, the reception of the fans—young and old—how does it feel to be at the point you always dreamed of?

“You know, we had a gig on Saturday in a place in Southampton. There were many teenagers there—young kids. They loved it! Honestly, they don’t even know our songs but they just had such a great time. I treat kids with same respect that I treat someone who is 90. I was doing bands before. House, Rap, Pop. I didn’t take it seriously as lead singer. For years and years I’ve dreamt of people saying nice things. It’s all the lovely things that people say to me. We have such great shows. I always put my all in the show because I never know if its going to be my last gig.”

And it keeps coming back to love.

“We’re a nice band. We try extra hard because we’re a reggae band and we know there’s a certain reputation.”

Rebel Control have evolved from hosting notorious jam sessions in a squatted shop in West London, to carving a reputation as main stage favorites at UK and European Festivals. The band have also been promoting their debut album, Jamming at Rebel HQ, produced by Mike Pelanconi (who mixed Smile for Lily Allen), supporting Dub Pistols, Luciano, Mad Professor, Sunday Best Soundsystem, Stereo MCs and The Magic Numbers.

As they gear up for a frenetic ‘Hold On To Love’ promo tour in this month into October and culminating in a London showcase at ‘Run To The Beat,’ it’s certainly my pleasure to help spread the Love message.

Sep
10

The Infamous Doving Pot (Cast Iron or Dutch Oven)

Doving Pot - Brown Sugar Browning

 The pot was called a doving pot for as long as I or my mom can remember. I’ve scoured the Inter Webs and come up empty-handed using the search terms doving and pot. It’s closest kin by consensus seems to be the cast oven or the dutch oven. I am inclined to agree.

The doving pot of memory was round, black, deep-bellied and seasoned. It maintained an infallible smooth and shine. I can see it now, in its place of pride, always shining and ready.

Doving Pot + Oxtail Stew

Ever-ready for what usually began with an intriguing mix of brown sugar and oil, which aided by chemistry and inevitability became a vicious caramel froth, which could definitely slay a dragon, in the form of fowl, any version of venison and last but most importantly hunger pangs.

My Mom maintains: “There’s some special sweetness in it. It just makes the food taste better.”

And she should know.  To hear her tell it, you didn’t even need oil to make a miracle, all you had to do was daub a lick of fat (butter, lard what have you) to find your way. The doving pot does breakfast, lunch and supper/dinner. Whatever it was dishing, it was good. 

As a direct consequence of becoming a wife, I have learned to tend a pot (cook) as good as any.  Ask the mista. My doving pot, bought in the famous Caribbean Supermarket on Colonial Drive, Florida and displayed proudly above is not black or shining, although she is making her way. She is silver and matte (so you know the half has yet to be told) and she works hard for me as evidenced by the browning power and the oxtails about to be stewed.

Fact is: The Doving Pot is essential to my kitchen and I have this recurring dream that one day I will rise to find her blacker than soot and shiny, much like a black diamond worked in the Caribbean sun.

Fact is: If it was good enough for my mother, my grandmother, my great aunties etc., well, I’ve learned in more way than one, not to mess with sweet success.

This is why I find the the history of ancestry so vital. The personal history of parents and grandparents and great aunts, uncles, whatever you may call them should never be cast off under the excuse of not having time and/or wanting to enjoy our own portion of life. They know the secrets that we work so hard to lay claim to.

Whether you’re working with what you know to be a doving pot or a more familiar cast iron or dutch oven know this

Do you own a version of a doving pot or have the pleasure of working with a storied original? What are some of your favorite recipes?

 

ABOUT THE WRITER

 
Sep
08

Psyche’s Economy of Style

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Radio Host Michael Baisden’s Pay It Forward segments always bring a smile to my face. Albeit, a smile that can quickly turn into a LOL/LMBO when that inevitable caller gets precious airtime, only to explain how paying their cell phone bill and being able to communicate (badly—obviously) is their bright idea for giving back.

Well this is my pay it forward, and it comes in the form of Dasheen’s first Wow Blog!

Now this is not necessarily about who is at the top any prominent lists. There will be time enough for that, and I will take a moment to say congratulations to all those working their butts off to make online content varied and keep the medium relevant.

That being said, this is just about who I stumble across and love enough to take the time to go back into those archives.

Economy of Style

My inaugural Wow Blog! is represented by none other than Psyche and her Economy of Style.

(more…)

Sep
06

Happy West Indian Labour Day Parade!

I remember Labour Day.

I remember Labour Day Bar-B-Que in Queens or whichever borough would have you and I definitely remember the West Indian Labour Day Parade in Brooklyn on the Eastern Parkway.

Living in New York and being Caribbean it was hard to be MIA as the Eastern Parkway became a cacophony of music, food, people, color and excitement. I was never one to join the fray, i.e jump up and wave. Or maybe it was my dad, or auntie, or stepmother holding on to my hand for dear life that assured that I wouldn’t start wiling out in the middle of the street.

I wasn’t ready! LOL But it was Mas every time! And of course, in true celebration of Labour Day Parade on the Parkway, I have to go all throwback with Krosfyah and their “Pump me Up.”

 

I dare you not to check your pulse after that oldie but goodie.

The West Indian Labor Day Parade continues to enjoy the distinction of being New York City’s biggest cultural festivals by far.

As in the past, count on crowds to be waving their flags and celebrating their heritage and cultural pride mas-style from every corner of the Caribbean.

You don’t have to be from the Caribbean to enjoy the festivities either. Everyone’s invited to take part in the spectacle that records thousands of revelers in colorful costumes wining, wailing and tramping down the parade route to the sounds of reggae, calypso and soca.

And let’s not forget the delectable array of native foods. My mouth is currently watering thinking about some goat water or mannish water and buss up shotcurrychicken on the side please–with an extremely cold Vita Malt. And yes, as I do live in Florida where I have access to such food, whether from my own pot or around the way, it is decidedly different when you’re enjoying these foods in THAT particular environment.

Labour Day on the Parkway is a great time of connecting, because there was no way that you would not literally run into someone you hadn’t seen in years. Even back then, I was proudly Kittitian, but I also loved knowing that I was an indelible part of the Caribbean fabric in NYC.

For those attending, here are some fast facts:

Parade Route:
Utica Avenue to Grand Army Plaza along Eastern Pkwy.

Subway Directions:
2 train to Grand Army Plaza or Franklin Avenue
3 train to Grand Army Plaza or Franklin Avenue or Utica Avenue
4 train to Franklin Avenue or Utica Avenue
5 train to Franklin Avenue

Happy Labour Day to all massive! Stay safe and please enjoy the festivities whether they are in your backyard or on the parade route.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER
[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha C. Leon, writer, West Indian, mango-lover, founder and editor-in-chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination. Join the culture conversations on FacebookTwitter and Tumblr! [/author_info] [/author]
Sep
05

Sunday Sessions: An Intimate Conversation…

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This past week has been a challenge. from the rigors of moving, to no hot water, to no forwarded mail, to a dentist visit 5 years too late. In the midst of this there was a bit of an insurgency. An old friend asked a question that utterly threw me.

    Are you in love?

Let’s set aside what may have prompted this. I don’t want to indict him without a back-story, and its just not my place to expose the ones who ask me nicely not to.

    Am I ‘in love?’

I struggle with that. Is that crazy? I don’t deal well with the ‘in love’ clause. Truth be told, I am rather traumatized by any mention of that as a preclusion to anything including happiness, marriage etc. Truth be told, “in love” never seems seasoned enough, and without that salt of time and experience, there is always the threat of losing it’s savor. My other issue, the fact that “in love” seems to have no knowledge of how to stand alone, as it rides shotgun with falling in love more often than not.

So I said, “no I am not in love.” And you can imagine the slippery slope.

(more…)

Aug
29

Sunday Sessions: For Those Displaced

Moving Day - DASHEEN Magazine

I usually wake up with a song in my head.

I am not a singer, but on some parallel plane, I am using my lower register for good and not evil. I imagine myself as a soul singer, the kind with the gritty, dirty voice that recalls the term histrionics over and over again. There would absolutely be no shame in my game.

Today’s melody was all of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Girl Put Your Records On”. The following is the acoustic version, which feels so perfectly impromptu. I love the the nakedness of Corinne’s craft here, and that DJ looking on as smitten, and maybe even as blown away as I felt, well…:

Three little birds sat on my window and they told me I don’t need to worry…

My pastor always says that all truth is not necessarily contained in Scripture. And I am not quite sure I need to repeat that, but I will anyway. All truth is not necessarily contained in Scripture.

The moment I heard that bit of revelation, my world opened up. My spirit was in instant agreement. I understood that truth was happening around me all the time. In my own life’s story, my neighbors, yours…

Today, became Day 2 of moving from our town home of the past two years, to an apartment for what we hope will be a year to prepare for home ownership. My husband and I, although united on our ultimate purpose in the move, have been pondering our own ideas of home, and that building, and what it means to have a physical foundation.

I am of a mind that wherever we are, we can carve out that necessary space and be in a good place.

What Corrine and her three little birds, so reminiscent of Bro Bob’s brought today was a message on the wind. So, I was not overly surprised that one thing pulled the next:

25 – Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 – Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

This is the KJV (King James Version) rendering—a personal favorite being a poet and all.

I love the reminder of God’s investment in my every waking and dreaming hour. This is not my suspension of belief, but rather my anchor of faith. And of course I needed the reminders from Corinne and this particular Scripture—which came without my calling—as we downsized into what we sometimes feel is a step backward.

I know now that all that is well and good. It is part of the unfolding story. The half having not been told and all that.

And, as if I needed this particular truth to come in threes—which confirmation in my life so often does—I could hear Susan Best, a the Gospel artist from Anguilla singing a favorite:

Why should I worry about tomorrow, when everyday God takes care of me. If he can clothe and beautify lilies. How much more will he take care of me?

Everything is relative. We hear it all the time. And it’s certainly true here. The past 2 days of a planned move, has given me many personal reasons to pause and consider. Yet, it has also struck a more poignant nerve, as today marks the 5th anniversary of the Katrina disaster.

As I consider the forced and inevitable displacement of those who lost everything, and their continued struggles to live, even after having survived the storm and aftermath, I thought of Youssou N’dour and a song on his 2002 album Nothing’s In Vain called “Genné” (For Those Displaced).

Please forgive the stumbling start and abrupt ending of this video, it is the only one I could find.

I’ve always loved this song, first musically and then lyrically. It is so apt for not only a post-Katrina world, but a world where there is still an appalling ground situation in Haiti—even 6 months later, and a Pakistan reeling from its most recent flooding disaster.

It is not that now, suddenly, after 700 + words of reflection that I have a handle on moving, the dreams of home-ownership, the ills of society or my own worldview. It is rather, that even as I steal time to write this, I am lifted out of the tunnel vision of my own life and I recognize that we do what we must to survive and be at peace.

I pray that those who are displaced can find the pillow that may be the shoulder of a friend, partner or lover to rest their weary eyes and mind. And for those that are alone (and not necessarily lonely) I pray that you can still close their eyes and dream.

For the latest streaming of New Orleans post-Katrina info head over to NOLA. And to help with the relief/recovery efforts in Pakistan and/or Haiti, I absolutely love and trust the work of American Jewish World Service as they continue to work with grassroots agencies on the ground.

AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality.

Aug
27

Fight or Flight

Inspiration hails from anywhere. It’s not a Caribbean thing. It’s not an American thing. It’s a universal thing and if you want to be blow-your-mind-don’t-care-who’s-reading-this-post-honest—It’s a God thing!

My mother has a colorful way with words. One Friday night not too long ago with fans whirring and an oppressive heat beating down on us on the inside of peach walls, I sat at the computer and recorded her as she fought for whatever she thought she had lost, in that moment, after 16 plus years of marriage. It was an exercise in patience and not jumping into the fray.

She is still married, and not unhappily (shout out to my stepdad who has managed to keep the fire burning). The following is not the actual conversation. It is not even the actual aftermath. But for my mom and her way with words, here is my artistic license taking flight (with permission of course).

Fight or Flight

“Imagine this…”

    “I don’t wan be involved!”

“Just listen… Imagine this…”

    “What?!”

“You, a woman, married to this one man sixteen odd years…”

    “Mommy no!”

“Ok fine, you and one of your ‘friends’ dealing seriously for some time now.”

    “Come on man mommy! I know where you going and I don’t wan hear this.”

“Well listen regardless. God knows I listen to you every day, all day for years. The least you could do is pretend. Now come listen.”

    “Is a wonder you carn get you way in this. You so pushy.”

“You listening?”

    “Yes man! Yes!”

“You think dem tings is right?”

    “What tings?”

“You think a woman have to always stay ready and dependable and not lose it? How he figure I ain’ gon be insane just from seeing he face day in and day out. As if the whole world and me ain’ know.”

    “So what the world know? What you know mommy? What you really know that ain’ she-say and he-say and dem-say?”

“I know what a feel!”

    “So why me and you need to hash this out? Talk to de man!”

“You want me to talk to Lover Boy? Good ole Lover Boy, who holding the same head wid Minister Man? You want me to intercept de man on he travels to save the world? And tell him what pray tell?”

    “Tell him what you always tell him. Just use another voice instead of the banshee woman one that would make even the devil run.”

“Well eh eh. If this ain’ a mother wuk. Miss ‘we’re just friends’ wants to tell me how to mend a marriage.”

    “This is exactly what I doan like. If you doan want hear amateur advice, why you talking to me then?”

“Oh, so now I can’t talk?”

    “’Tain that mommy. Is more like you know, you know, but you want him to see you working like a dog and not lifting a finger so you could scratch you head and bang up you chest…”

“I know he don’t care!”

    “OK fine, only you could vouch for that, but same time you say that you have you ways too. You can’t just stand fast with a man years and years and then wants instant change.”

“And why not? De Bible talk long and hard about instant change. He preach it, why he can’t adopt?’

    “And you wonder why I only have friends.”

“And you wonder why you sitting here on a Friday night!”

    “Imagine that.”

Copyright (c) Tynisha Leon

Aug
24

Homecoming

The house is peach, with white trim. The estate seller would have said modest, humble, even while pointing out the lions, drawn out with parched paper and extravagant signatures from Psalms, perched on columns with right paws raised, mouths agape, guarding the gates – as it were, which was also painted peach and white and moved manually.

The extra three thousand to give that final impression of ease and some comfort almost broke their backs.

They left off, content with tomorrow and a longstanding to-do-list.

The dream is elegant, rich-looking, and flavorful.

Someone had the idea. Someone paid through the gills. Someone is still paying.

A little ways down the concrete breaks, a plate set too close to the edge. The patchwork is faux Oriental, thrown over the side to dry and then forgotten to harsh rays and the plop-plop of squalls.

The concrete becomes barbed wire fencing bending the first fingers of contact painfully. And yet the grafting of the two is somehow seamless and accepted. Any argument over land is killed by the inertia of a plot already fenced in. Sleeping dogs do not dream you see.

Peachiness becomes a pawpaw and mango tree intertwined; their roots, both barbed fencing and bark alike is crowded by bitter dandelions. The few not crushed by the inconsistent but fearsome thread of feet and cars preen for their good fortune.

The yard is garage to a car lot. So much junk.

One piece in particular has become a refuge for young men with no real agenda or license. There is a lone truck—built tough. In the distance, hiding unformed plans for a gazebo, the van that was crushed until only the carcass of a mangled steel frame remains.

The mother wouldn’t drive for weeks afterward. The husband’s bellowing accusations making more impact than the sedan coming out of nowhere.

Someone is home. All the lights are on. The doors are open in deference to thieves that are blind. The manual gate, guarded by Psalmist lions is also open wide to admit many.

There is laughter. There is music. There is noise. Always noise.

Tomorrow the bank will foreclose. Today it is the dream house and a homecoming.

Copyright (c) Tynisha C. Leon 2010

 

ABOUT THE POET

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination! I am a cul­tural war­rior first and fore­most; and for me that sim­ply means that I am a light bearer for all things intrin­si­cally cul­tural and Caribbean. If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]
Aug
23

Mane Attraction: The Law of Reciprocity

Tynisha Leon is a Kittitian transplant currently living and loving in Orlando, Florida.

This is the first in a series about the glorious hair crowning our heads, in all its many incarnations, whether natural or otherwise. No exclusionary behavior allowed. Just working the do and making it work for you.

Do unto others as you’d like done unto you.  You have to crawl before you walk.  Natural is as Natural Does right?

All the above so true, yet it’s taken me all of two and 1/2 years to fully comprehend or accept the ease behind that knowledge.

And so we come to The Law of reciprocity:

An exchange in which all parties have a mutual understanding of their rights and obligations. Relations between members of an immediate family or between spouses are based on obligations such as obedience or respect. Relations can be forged through gifts or personal favors and bring with them obligations and expectations. For every action, something is expected in return.

Those who do favors are highly esteemed; they are recognized as people who have respect for those around them. Every previous or current situation produces expectations for future behavior on the part of the giver and gift recipient.

My name is Tynisha Leon and up until 2 months ago, I had been treating my hair (very) badly.

This was not my intent. In fact I thought I was doing right by my fragile locks. I was utilizing the tools/products at hand, even employing the polarizing Denman brush . I was working my way through Google lists, Youtube channels, varied forums, Fokti pages and random, if not entirely helpful library reads.

The messages became convoluted.

I should have known better. Who better than a jaded newspaper reporter to understand the hot lure of believing everything you read—much less see?

I evolved into a product junkie unnecessarily. Two self-inflicted Dark and Lovely box colors later, 6-inches (you know I had the nerve to be measuring damage) had been truncated into a humbling 2.

The difficulty was not in starting over, two inches does not a Caesar make. The difficulty, was in not having really learned anything beyond the fact that my hair doesn’t love color as much as I’d like it too. That was the least of it, but I had no hold on the knowledge that doing nothing was as bad as doing everything, and that all at once.

At around the same time I discovered a skincare regimen that worked, and a way of listening to my skin that informed, I began to have an inkling of what TLC with regard to haircare could and should mean. But it was only after my cross-country road trip to Sedona, Arizona, that I discovered a more natural/environmental peace of mind and my Natural haircare relationship truly began.

And it had everything to do with letting my hair be. No more trying to coif the heights of Rustic Beauty or rock wash and gos like the lovely Afrobella. My hair just wanted to be left alone and I obliged. I hid under cornrows for 10 days of my trip. I oiled with a nightly balm of Castor and rosemary oil. When I released them, my intention was to replait, but then I had this image you see in the above photo where my hair was doing nice things and it was happy and I had an epiphany.

My hair had forgiven me in far less time than it took for me to inflict unnecessary damage.  I could learn a lesson or two from that. I can’t say that repeated transgressions would have elicited the same personal response.

Personally, I would have left the building. And now that I think of it, memories of those wads of hair filling brushes, combs and my shower stall would certainly amount to a slow good-bye.

Still, just maybe we are so tied together that my hair could not really forgive me until I had forgiven myself by making the necessary daily changes.

I’m not saying everything was perfect, but my hair felt different, moved differently.  The elusive shine was there, the elasticity was present and the end held on to a lovely tight coil.  And so I continued the trend.

I’ll say it again: my hair is a challenge. But I’ve never not been a challenge. Too much time on my hands, too much space in my head for dreams, and too much world to explore and be curious about have assured that. I can be brave on a dime, and apparently my hair prefers a dime budget because it responds best to a simple regimen (look out for an upcoming post).

There is currently an awesome conversation happening over at Black Girl With Long Hair about personal regimens.  We are so unique as women. Whether it’s skin tones, hair textures etc. When I cut my hair for the third time around, I still wasn’t any wiser to what my hair needed. But there were voices, and those voices were one more attractive than the other. Some were loud, others soothing, and some too unique to place. And I took everything I read and put it all together and called it haircare. That was my first and last mistake.

My hair is unique. Not so much in texture— shout out to SummerOrchid1 who did something lovely for my hair esteem.

My hair is unique to me in its rather traumatic life story up to this point. The early “creamy crack” application was all of Revlon Super. The opinions were real and cutting–“girl, mek you hair so course!”–and retold often enough to still be hurtful–“You know I had to slap some perm ina she head.”

From the moment of your big (or little) chop your hair really does breathe a big sigh of relief. It may never fit into the mold of any current hair fashion or prevailing sentiment, and if you were anything like me then your hair esteem might definitely need to be raised.

And that’s why most naturals refer to it as journey and not destination.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER
[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]