People

It’s only Graffiti when you don’t appreciate it…

…or it’s illegal.

Back in Form 6, my General Paper class had a group project to do on anything in “the Arts”. When you give a bunch of 16 and 17 year-olds creative freedom, you’re bound to get something like a project on Graffiti. This was the introduction I got to the artist known as Banksy. An elusive figure, he’s racked up quite the portfolio ranging from thought-provokers, a symbolic shaking fist against “the man”, and (what I conclude to be) boredom expressed by an artistic mind.
What I’ve learned from Banksy is this: pause a moment and ask the question, “why?”. And this is a valuable lesson to learn at 16. There may be a few naysayers left who challenge the suggestion that graffiti is art. Art may tell a story, it always makes you feel something, and tells you about the work’s creator. In other words, art is everywhere we look.

I nicked some photos of his work from his official website and this rather excellent article.

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People

You know how it is. It’s the first day of a new year and you feel like it’s time to put your procrastinating ways behind you once and for all. You should say something meaningful, deep, and insightful. After all, you have a blog, and maybe some people read it. And you shouldn’t disappoint them. Or make them question why they follow you. Maybe you should actually post something, for a change.

I’d love to report (after a grand total of 21 or so hours in the shiny new year) that I’ve had an epiphany. That I’ve upgraded to Summer 2.0 in the twinkling of an eye amidst a sprinkling of pixie dust. Well, let me tell you… it’s 2011’s habits in 2012 on this end. I presently have 4 unacknowledged “Happy New Years” messages from persons I actually enjoy. Why haven’t I replied, you ask? Because I am a ridiculous procrastinator. I also have another text message about some pictures I was supposed to send someone since July. You guessed it, I haven’t replied to that one either. Then there’s that email from a friend checking in that I started to reply to, but is truthfully dying in the “Drafts” graveyard.

In Trinidad, we call the last day of the year Ole Years. The common conversation starter (much to my chagrin) was “What you doin for Ole Years?” My refrain was “I’ve got a date with my bed.” I wasn’t joking. I’m thinking that we all expect too much from watching the ball drop in NYC or from watching the fireworks light up the sky on Ole Years night. It’s like our subconsciouses really want to believe that our problems and struggles are dropping out our lives with that ball. Or *poof*, disappears with the firecrackin’ smoke. Not so much.

Get on with it

Change... you will like it eventually

Maybe we keep saying Ole Years in the hope of finally leaving the old baggage in the past year. But the truth is the majority of change in our lives is incremental. And I’m talking about change in areas like letting your word be your bond, and being more patient, and being prompt as a rule rather than an exception. (Reading that, I sound like I’m a few points shy of being a  miscreant of sorts…)

So am I getting older, but not better? I can honestly say that I have seen improvement in these areas over the years. The phrase “I’ve come a long way”, covers it nicely. Yet, when you can count procrastination in your repertoire you know you should avoid resting on your laurels for more than a nanosecond. This is because, as these albatrosses-of-old are being whittled down to mot-mot size, we keep finding new issues to tackle. Case in point, you would not like to dine with me in a restaurant. I will take forever to choose something. That’s a promise. It’s also fairly recent, as far as things on my “Flaws to Fix” list go. I’m pretty sure I was loads more decisive maybe 2 years ago. Or maybe that was my imagination.

This year, I want to embrace the process. Maybe on May 25th I will conquer this pesky lack of promptness. And that’s OK. Just because it didn’t happen on January 1st, doesn’t mean it will never happen at all. What’s important is that you know you’re a work in progress.

HNY =)

Public Service Announcement: January 1st is not a magical day.

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Fashion, People

TGFPR Part Two

As a follow on from TGFPR Part One, it suddenly occurred to be that I have not said a word about Anya Ayoung-Chee winning Project Runway!

Trinis to the World!

This is slackness because I follow Anya on Twitter, started watching PR because of her (I don’t even like the show), and I eagerly await the day I can wear something uber cute and Anya-designed. Just to be clear, I am not like some people I know who’s Gmail chat statuses were changed to “my friend Anya is the Project Runway winner.” These people shall remain nameless because desperation should never be given an official name.

I first saw Ms. Ayoung-Chee’s work back in San Fernando Fashion Week, which was thoroughly bleh if not for Anya and Meiling’s work. Their work was thought out representations of their core ideas and inspirations. Navaho Indians and Grand Rivere respectively, if I am not mistaken.

So here’s a little Trini pride, and really great talent. Anya presented her collection “Tobago Love” for the finale. Really lovely homage to Tobago, and if you’ve never been, I suggest you visit. Nothing quite like it =)

Anya (middle) flanked by her designs from "Tobago Love"

Isn't that bath suit and cover-up gorgeous?

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Football, People

In the Beginning

In 1998, I started to watch football. I was 11 years old. It was the now-legendary World Cup 98.
France. Brazil. In Paris. With Zidane. A young Henry. Barthez. Blanc. Petit. Deschamps. Leboeuf. Lizarazu. Epic.

I’d watched a few of the games before that and found it interesting. Netherlands versus Croatia was noteworthy. But the finals were magical. I remember my aunt’s living room and popcorn that day. I’d heard enough to know Brazil were the favourites; that a lot of Brazil fans thought the French had the officials in their back pocket; and there was a ridiculous rumor that Ronaldo was intentionally slipped something to induce his fit.
But all that chatter washed away in the sea of crazy supporters and incessant camera flashes. The crowd was electric. Laurent Blanc kissed Fabien Barthez’ head. Zidane was Zidane. And I could feel the win right then and there. You know the rest… Ronaldo played, 3-nil, and rousing renditions of  “Allez les Bleus” in Paris.

I was hooked. The magic of what the French did never faded. Fast forward a couple months, to one of the most memorable football seasons ever. I was 12 and found myself liming with a bunch of girls in school who were into sports. That’s right. Girls who liked cricket and adored Brian Lara (we’re Trinis after all, but he was also the greatest player ever). Girls who liked football and got excited when a player nutmegged defenders en route to goal. When we ducked classes, we’d run to the Audio Visual room to watch football. And it was there my football fandom kicked into second gear.

The Manchester United treble was the sort of thing that you couldn’t stop talking about. Especially in Trinidad, because Dwight Yorke was our boy (well our boy from Tobago). I mean, joint top goal scorer in Europe that season, and skills to make your jaw drop. Fox was replaying that CL final every day, it seemed. Comebacks make for great viewing. And you never tired of the Yorke-Cole’s partnership. Solskjær, the Nevilles, Giggs, Schmeichel, Beckham, Scholes, Keane, Stam. In retrospect, that was perhaps the start of the “super-club”, i.e. a club with lots of money, lots of global fans and lots of players with magic feet. A club with a brand you could cash in at the bank. The big 4 in the EPL struck fear into the hearts of all opponents and played football to make you weep with joy. Bayern Munich was huge. Deportivo la Coruña were a decent side. Real Madrid was making magic with one star, el Capitán, Raul. And Hierro, Morientes, Helguerra were legendary. Not a Galáctico in sight. Iker Casillas was 17 and had to take the bus to training when he became a regular on the first team. We all had a crush on him. Luis Figo was like a Portugese Zizou, beats in slow motion.

The girls were divided over Inter or AC. Inter over AC, anyday, thank you very much. Roma and Juve were tricky opponents, and who didn’t like the Italian team? With their penchant for modelling and Gattuso’s crazy never-say-die/ I-will-damage-you mentality. It was golden. His shocked expressions when he got a card were Entertainment 101. Zidane and Trezeguet played for Juventus, so the Old Lady gained my fandom easily. Liverpool won me over with Steven Gerrard, a player I have immense respect for. Still a bit of a Kopite… Kuyt and Carragher are tireless. And I was huge on Nando ’til the move to ‘the other London club’.

Arsenal had The Dennis Bergkamp. And what an introduction it was to him in the 98-99 season. Freddie Ljungberg, the magician. Men like Vieira and Desailly. Tony Adams. A young Anelka. Back then AFC had JVC on the front of the shirt and played at Highbury. Ray Parlour. Seaman. Ashley Cole. AFC’s leading goalscorer (yes, I like to refer to Henry in this way). I don’t want to start talking about Arsenal much longer because that will inevitably lead to a (long) discussion of the 03-04 campaign. Much more epic than the treble; if you ever thought you admired the Gunners before, you fell head over heels that season. Pires, Wiltord, Reyes, Sol Campbell, Keown, K. Toure. Lehmann. Lehmann… what a character! They were amazing enough to get their own name: The Invincibles. Absolutely nothing like the style of play we saw that year. (Funnily enough, that season we got both van P and Cesc… go figure.)

Awesome doesn't even begin to describe =)

Nowadays, football is different from those first days for me. We’re firmly in the era of the “superclub” or as Wenger calls it, “financial doping.” Football is big business and a useful prop in the world of politricks. (Just look at the suits inextricably linked to AC Milan and Galatasaray.) Goalkeeper’s shirts no longer have a ton of little random shapes splashed across them in 6 or more random colours. The shorts have gotten longer (thank God). Becks doesn’t have platinum blonde locks in a new style every week. Freddie’s is no longer that beautiful red. Oliver Kahn isn’t dropping our jaws by stopping sure goals. You can stalk your favourite players on Twitter. Correction… Follow them on Twitter 🙂 .

But the things that really matter have stayed the same. A free kick is still like a penalty for Beckham. Derbies are still the highlight of the season; be it London, Madrid, Milan, Manchester, Merseyside or the Superclasico. You still jump off the couch when someone lobs the keeper on his line. The Dutchmen’s Total Football philosophy is still cranking out amazing players, though none ‘fly’ quite like The Dennis. The transfer season is like the most enjoyable soap opera ever, with players courting clubs and vice versa. Everyone feels a little dull in the international break (unless you’re Irish this year). You still feel nostalgic for Zidane when you see anyone score a volley after turning a couple hapless defenders in slow motion. Well, I do 🙂 And Balotelli’s picked up where Beckham left off. Always some players like Sergio Ramos and CRon who think their in GQ shoot. And the characters of the game keep things spicy… Tevez v Mancini, Balotelli v Mancini, Wenger v Mourinho, Sepp Blatter v Our Collective Common Sense etc.

To a large extent, I can still enjoy football like I did in those days before I had loyalties. These days my loyalties are with Real Madrid and Arsenal (in no particular order). And I will always love France, of course. That’s where it all started.

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