Always Remember...

This is still a mature and classy environment, no matter what crazy, cool, funky, joy the pictures may display. Leave the grown and sexy at home...thank you.

Monday, 3 December 2007

my daily walk

a great time for reflection....

The blue line doesn't come all the way through, but basically I start at the Warren Street train stop (two blocks from my student housing hole) and walk to Lincoln's Inn Fields (LSE's Campus). My favorite part about the walk is this really neat umbrella store with the greatest selection of umbrellas and canes. On some days I switch up my route and walk pass the British Musuem, or through Covent Garden, o through the China town area.

And while my campus is near Drury Lane...there is no muffin man. It's all part of the lies childhood told us.

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Friday, 23 November 2007

So I'm slow with the posts...HOLIDAY

John Lennon: Remember
Remember when you were young?
How the hero was never hung
Always got away
Remember how the man
Used to leave you empty handed?
Always, always let you down
If you ever change your mind
About leaving it all behind
Remember, remember, today
And dont feel sorry
The way its gone
And dont you worry
bout what youve done

Just remember when you were small
How people seemed so tall
Always had their way
Do you remember your ma and pa
Just wishing for movie stardom
Always, always playing a part
If you ever feel so sad
And the whole world is driving you mad
Remember, remember, today

And dont feel sorry
bout the way its gone
And dont you worry
bout what youve done

No, no, remember, remember
The fifth of november

But that's mainly because uploading pictures is annoying. I've started a posting of Christmas photos and was going to note how it wasn't feeling like Christmas, but instead of complaining, I'll attribute that to the fact that there are no holidays here, so Christmas lights just come on earlier. I'll post them later when the season is in full blast.

But back to the point, there are no holidays here. I realized that when I looked at my school calendar to see when I would have days off to roam through London, visit the English countryside, hop a RyanAir trip to Spain. There were none, save a few bank holidays that do not fall into the school calendar year.

So do the Brits celebrate? Yes , these lushes celebrate even if its just their daily celebrations of life: the packed pubs and people yelling outside of my student housing hole prove the love that these people have. Even yesterday, I discovered that quite a few Brits have even adopted Thanksgiving along with their adopted American friends, and have fallen into celebrating the holiday with them while they are abroad. There are also several restaurants catering to this and Whole Foods London had quite the spread.

However, I'm going to backtrack to Guy Fawkes day, a "holiday" of sorts celebrated a few weeks ago. This has been forever immortalized in song as we have all been implored to "Remember, Remember the fifth of November."

Since the Brits don't really have an independence day to celebrate, Guy Fawkes is the celebration of not being overthrown. Back on November 5th in the 1600s an attempt to overthrow the ruling monarchy was made and Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of Parliament with gunpowder kegs on what was to be the first day of Parliament. They caught him (because of the famous Lord Monteagle letter), tortured him, and unlike a rapper or Frank Lucas, this Guy snitched and sang like a bird. Since then a celebration has been held every year with fireworks celebrating the fact that the King was safe. Today there are several celebrations in parks throughout the country. I headed out to Victoria Park for what turned out to be a fair with fireworks, rides, and fair food (but no funnel cake). It was a good time. Pics are below...

and for those interested in etymology, the common word "guy" apparently is derived from Guy Fawkes,

Bethnal Green Tube: Where we got off to go to Victoria Park

Fire Sculptures: These were so hot, unfortunately my pics don't capture the awesomeness..

that's Guy Fawkes

and here's Big Ben/Parliament

There are more pics, but its more of the same fireworks and such and then pictures with people in it and I'm not about to face a law suit since I haven't cleared it with them. For those check on facebook in a few months... Overall it was fun times with great people

Also, V for Vendatta is based on the historical event. Although I've never seen it myself, here's a clip. The poem recited in the beginning is part of the rhyme that's often recited by school children.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Woke up this morning

I woke up, feeling brand new, I *churched* up, feeling my highs and my lows

So, the last two times I went to church out here (well the only two times I went to church out here) I went to lovely places in Brixton with my aunt. One was larger and named Ruach Ministries. Apparently there one of the larger Caribbean congregations in London and they even have broadcasted services. The other church was much smaller, but had a great vibe. It was called Heartbeat Ministries and they segued straight from an all age Sunday School into the service. The week I went to Heartbeat they had a guest preacher who was a former radio jockey turned minister. It was a good sermon on how God does not want you to be poor.

Lo and behold, today I had no plans to go to Brixton, but when I woke up decided to go to a service anyway. There's a church around the corner from me and its called The American Church in London. My thoughts: white people! short service! yes! Horrible to think upon waking up, but real. Non denominational churches with heavy caucasian participation tend to skip all the things that used to make me almost miss brunch my freshman year of college.

So i get to the church 1/2 hour late because I spent time contemplating whether or not to go and had to actually wake myself up and then proceeded to walk further than I had to not remembering it was just around the corner, and there's this black lady at the stand talking on and on about someone involved with the Civil Rights movement. My first thought was confusion. The pastor on the website was obviously a white man. Maybe this was a guest minister. What does this long story have to do with the sermon? Then she mentioned Reverend Jackson. I thought this was one of those moments of a case of mistaken identity. But in the front row I saw the back of a black man's head who had soft hair. Could it be? I wonder if he'll say the word souf instead of south so I can laugh. Did he see what they wrote about him on YBF?

Yes ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I just saw Jesse Jackson preach in London by accident. The sermon was a good one, although it was a bit difficult for me to follow at first...perhaps because I was replaying the Different World episode in my head. Anyway he spoke about the need for governments and Christians to help those at the bottom. He had an analogy to how ships sink from holes in the bottom, not at the top. He also spoke out against the war against weapons of mass destruction, when more civilians harm themselves and others with weapons because of lax gun laws It wasn't a blame the poor sermon, but more of a help everyone out kind of thing.

Still, throughout the sermon I couldn't help but start putting things together. Why do most black candidates for President arise out of the Chi? I'm obviously excluding Rev. Al...but I don't think many people took that seriously and well Shirley Chisolm is in a league of her own. Is there a curse on politicians living in Illinois? Why was Carol Moseley Braun such a horrid public speaker at the event she did at school? Thank God no one has done Obama comparisons to her yet...well at least that I know of.

Sadly, Jesse Jackson couldn't stick around for the coffee hour afterwards, and I wasn't going to start bothering the lady who knew him. I really had nothing to say to him except ask him about the party or what that episode of A Different World was like. I should have stuck around for coffee hour tho...I'm hungry...time to go eat a meal, since I haven't yet for the day.

Ahh...see God rewards you when you wake up for church.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

I really want to

share pictures with you on the interesting styles over here...esp. the hairstyles. London definitely has a fashion pulse...however I'm not yet skilled enough to take discreet photos. Esp. since I can't justify my taking these pics other than my own amusement..if you only could see....

The Queen

and yea, more of the backlogged pics are coming...but going across the pond hasnt changed my lazy status.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

See Something, Say Something?

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes Knees and Toes...Eyes and Ear and Mouth and Nose....

The MTA in NYC's See Something Say Something campaign is quite possibly one of my favorites. They've come up with one million ways to remind you to report suspicious activities including announcements over the new fancy IRT trains. (So far the only BMT/IND line that I know to have recieved the updated cars are the N love for the Q...and they say those distinctions don't matter...dont believe them...hate for the lines that don't do Wall Street)

Really , they're great and they only get better when you see them in Spanish. They also work, while riding the Q Train to work back in the summer of 2006, I saw something. My fellow passengers and I panicked and said something....and then I stupidly opened the briefcase and found someone's lunch. Oh well: A Spanish version for you...and then the connnection to London.

So yes, NY is scared of terror. America is scared of terror and so is Europe. They just acquitted 7 people in the Madrid cases and London has been shook up since 2005 (when my mother and I smartly visited after the attacks anyway). So it only behooves London that they should have similar advertisements in the tube. They just aren't as catchy...really I only stopped because it reminded me of home and because my last internship now has me obsessed with ad campaigns.
The best thing they have going for them are the "I, London" thing, forcing people to identify with the city, if you even realize that its highlighted. I'm more prone to note that there are 7 million people in London. There's also "Trust your Senses" thing which reminds me of my mother telling me to trust my senses when I'm in a weird situation. I only caught that because I have the mind of a kindergarten kid and like songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

Plus, what about if you smell something suspicious or feel something a cool breeze in the tube...that's cause for concern. Tsk tsk...I guess you cant trust all five of your senses, just two..not that I expect anyone to be tasting anything on the tube.Sadly there is no Spanish language counterpart. I'm still waiting to find the Hindi/Urdu/or other European language signs up for bilingual speakers in the tube...but that hasn't really caught on over here ( or maybe I'm taking the wrong lines), which is surprising. Even Boston advertisers put up a few Creole signs on the T.

I guess there were reaching for that inter-ethnic touch as seen in the "there are 16 million eyes" NYC poster by havig a blue eye and a brown ear, but that requires too much thinking.

I look kind of suspect in that pic...dont u think? Regretfully, a trenchcoat mafia joke is inappropriate at the moment, so instead I'll just go digest some Habermas. The public sphere: Fun!

The Queen

Monday, 5 November 2007

Girl tell me do you love tell me do you love Tony eh


By: Lexxus

Bwoy Lennie, see yuh gal a bawl
Say yuh put har out
A wha yuh do har?
Steely hear wha mi tell har say
Gal yuh better can cook
Think you deh yah fi yuh pretty looks
Waan live a restaurant and done mi bank book
Cook, hmmm, recipe book
Gwaan inna the kitchen cah yuh hand dem nuh nook

Big Sunday morning yuh lie down inna bed
Before yuh boil two banana steam two fish head
Yuh mad, bout you want sausage and egg
Big man nuh want nuh bully beef an bread
Fus thing, mek mi get the finger nail clip
Snip snip, tall finger man take a trip
Mi know say yuh caan peel banana wid it
Plus dumpling


Have some gal wha way past them teen
Big hottie hottie but live pon sardine
Can't even cook some cow foot and bean
But them ready fi Devon House ice-cream
Sherene, hmmm, wha that smell so green
A mussi some last week food you a steam
A mean, Sherene a what dat smell so green
A couldn't vegetable yuh say yuh in deh a steam
Is big stone yuh want fi wake yuh up out a yuh dream


I've been here for a month so I have some backloaded pics. The first few posts wont be in chronological order...actually none of them may be..oh well..

FOOD! (food is a very dear topic to please bear through...there's more interesting stuff to come)

I've been telling people for years that I know how to cook. I've always understood the mechanics of cooking and what goes into a good meal, but I never really had to actually cook...between the lady person and Adams House Dining Hall I was pretty set. Although I have thrown down on some ribs before.

Sigh...not anymore. However, I feel slightly silly brining a camera to the kitchen on my floor to take pictures of the yummy food I make each week (salmon, mushrooms, pasta dishes, sausages, scotch bonnett peppers, asparagus and Levi's Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce..oh my...) so instead you'll see pics of other random food related items. Don't get too hungry. Plus, there are a lot of asides through this post. I have a lot on my mind about food and if you know me, you know I'm random. The asides are like footnotes of my brilliance

The picture above is a meal I had when I went out with my cousin and her friend at a cute Italian restaurant off Oxford Street which is near my student housing hole. It was penne with spinach somehow made into balls with fresh ground black pepper and some parmesan cheese. That was good...but times were not always so great. Please continue down.

The things I do since people won't switch to flickr....

The Queen (and don't worry...I'm not really a glutton...this just happened to be the first set of pics)
The beginning was rough. Before I got cooking supplies it was just me, that bottle of Lucozade Sport and free itunes downloads (only Ugly Betty got money out of me).

That happened because I tried to eat food sold in one of these places...lesson learned: never trust food a 3 Pound (as in monetary unit) buffet from an "All you Can Eat Chinese TAI" place...sadly they are all over and the cheapest thing around. These pictures are actually two different stores acroos the street from each other on Goodge Street, one of the main streets near my student housing hole. I'm not sure what the meat was that I bought, so after one bite, I spit it out, attempted the noodles which were just as bad..and somehow they ruined my vegetables. My meal didn't even consist of three spoonfuls...I threw it out.

And these are pretty tame ones. Another one on my way to school has lights a la the liquor stores out in the hood. They pay sad looking people to wear boards for them and hand out fliers. (seeing as I can't find a job, I may become one of those sad looking people...but I'm still too bougie for that) I was fooled the first time...shame on you.

Next I tried these cooked chicken legs they sold in the "hot" section of the closest Sainsbury (one of 2 main supermarkets...the other is Tesc0). It was chicken in a bag, quite literally and if the picture says anything I was skeptical. It said to eat right away, but I thought it would be fine if I put it in the fridge and then heated it up later. I was wrong. Bleh(...although they're non hot cooked in store chicken wings do do the trick. And at 1.97 pounds can serve about three -four meals once you add some Reggae Reggae sauce.)

After that misadventure, I figured if the Brits can do anything right it should be there own cuisine. I bought Fish and Chips! I remember quite liking them when I came when I was little although I don't recall eating them the last time I was here. Strangely enough those were sold in a bag as well. Do these people have a food in a bag obsession? Quite possibly so...

Not bad, and a really big meal...but terribly greasy and not quite the homely feel I was going for. At five pounds I was pretty sad when I couldn't eat but 1/3 out of the meal and it wasn't something to put up and it was almost as sickening as KFC. Sadly I still didn't have a pot to cook in (thankfully I had somewhere to of that to

It was at this that I remembered that England is quite like America...and was really good at appropriating other cultures' culture. Quite frankly, America learned its pimp skills from England (according to my eight grade teacher Jamaicans learned drug dealing from the Queen during the Opium War). I turned to one of the gazillion Indian food restaurants, ordered some Naan and Tandoori chicken wings...retired to my room on that first Friday night and called home in ecstasy. Warm, good tasting food at last! (below: me looking ecstatic!)
Though the glory wasn't meant to last. Fast food out here is fast food.

KFC as usually is icky, but after staying in the library all night and not wanting to cook the options are bar food, those reheatable dinner things from the supermarket (I had one of those my first week too...not too bad), KFC, McDonalds, Subway or these random hot dog and onion street vendors that only show up after like 10 30. I sadly took chances with KFC. Really, after that 20-30 minute walk from school in the cold, solitary night (there were ppl out but I was alone minus the other footprints in the sand) I just wanted a warm meal and a bed. The smile was before tasting it and calling my sister in tears.

What about pizza you ask? Oh no...Pizza out here is akin to a restaurant like ..I can't even think of how to put it. They are usually sold in cozy sit down places with a few express places that have pizza that often look like the pizza they had in the Kingston airport when I was in the fifth grade. If you can't picture it, don't try to. Just know that it's not Italian pizza, Chicago pizza and definitely not NY pizza. This is me with my "takeaway" from one of the several Pizza Hut sit down restaurants around town. I got it as a treat to myself for finishing my first essay (this was after treating myself to a Krispy Kreme donut the day before and a good "home" cooked meal made in my student housing hole kitchen). The buffalo wings weren't buffalo, but I'm sure some Brit is sad in NY looking for a Cornish pastie or mincemeat pie or whatever those things are that they eat.

As for the hood Chinese food store...its pretty much non existent in the part of town where I live unless you go to one of the previously described scary places with questionable meat. (I'm in the West End of London right by the University College of London, Saatchi and Saatchi's headquarters, Dennis's publishing arm in the UK, a huge old shopping strip and in walking distance from London's SoHo). However, I did find a Japanese food cart on Friday and swiped lunch for 3 quid 50 p (excuse me I'm trying to get the lingo correct). It did the trick:

You're probably wondering if I'm still surviving off that bottle of Lucozade. No...its all about tea, my big old 2l bottles of water since I'm wary of the kitchen "drinking" water and sparkling waters for when I need a kick. It doesn't touch CVS Stars and Stripes Black Cherry but it does a trick.

And when everything costs twice as much as the number on the sticker, you savor every last drop once your on your own and can't embarrass yourself. Yep, even when something punctures the bottom of your bottle and you realize water has been dripping on you the entire way home from the supermarket and you have no cup except your tea mug, so you turn the bottle upside down and drink from that hole. Yep, even then. Okay..its not that bad, I was just being extra...

Overall there is tasty food if you know where to look and my kitchen is looking better and better each day. Plus, since everyone's all international and not what, you learn a few new things. And I already od'd on McDonalds the week I had a paper due and had all those 2 pound coupons. Sadness.

Here's some non fast food entries...kinda.. I got a pot and life got better!

Yummy Yummy...My aunt sent me home with two fingers of plantain seen above, some reheatable Jamaican patties and a jar of Nutella. God rewards you when you wake up early to go to church. Unfortunately I think one of those fingers is going bad now...but I fried the other one last week and it was great.

This was a stand at a fair I'll tell you more about later...I couldn't help but sing "Burgerlicous" to the tune of Fergalicious...cheesy...yea I know. I was more upset that it was a carnival without funnel cake. I wanted my funnel cake.

WHEW, sadly I have more to say about food...its a constant..think about it, you eat almost every day of your should enjoy it as much as breathing. Strangely, I've been getting more ethnic fatigue out here after eating than I did before. I'll leave on this note: I haven't had a hot breakfast in a month. I miss my mommies pancakes and dumplings and saltfish , well not together..but yea... I also need to find a Caribbean shrimp roti if I'm going to be here for a year, another trip to Brixton it is...

I'm Easily Amused

...and this blog will be evidence to that. I know you want the touristy pictures and updates on what I'm doing (at least I hope you want to know what I'm doing), but I'm not a tourist. I'm an almost fully functioning graduate student. These are mostly pictures of these I find amusing based on my previous life experiences...and hey I'm easily amused. Hopefully you will be amused too. But don't be disappointed, please check back...this is my photojournal of real life in a city that's almost as great as my hometown. Enjoy, Comment, Email me.....

HAUL (Holla At U Lata ...its my personal copyrighted acronym)
The Queen