MY NEW YORK LABOR DAY EXPERIENCE

Let's keep in mind that this was MY experience.
These were all MY observations.
This is MY blog and post what I want.
I was two minds about writing this post because there were so many topics that I wanted to touch and feared that my thoughts would have been so scattered that I would have lost many of my readers and probably myself while typing. I will however make an attempt to get this out in the most condensed version I possibly can. Let me start by saying congratulations RAMAJAY MAS for coming in 1st place for Large Band of the Year.
My Labor Day experience began from my landing on Friday night. Hanging out on what I now call 'The Avenue' *Church Avenue. Church Ave is usually the flex seeing as I'm no longer a New York resident and that's the best thing to do. Just chill in a mas camp, lime with friends and create memories to add to the old ones. This year I went back to my 'ROOTS' and was with my long time favorite band T&T Boys. T&T Boys isn't an 'it' band, they don't kill you with beads and feathers, they don't try to break your pocket and they actually sit in the camp, with glue guns and make their costumes among close friends and family while drinking, eatiing an takin small wines. The way mas making USED to be. This brings me to my first point of mas camps. From the time I knew how to walk, I knew mas camps to be where you actually made the mas. This seems to be a thing of the past. Actual mas making is almost COMPLETELY gone because making headpieces alone just doesn't cut it.

Parties. I opted to stick with my T&T Boys because each night the girls came home with horror stories as to why this cooler fete was cancelled, or why this DJ's set got taken away and exactly how many shots were fired where. The plan was never to really go anywhere Friday night as I knew I would be tired from my flight but I came in the same time as my twin sisters and our experiences were completely different and that was just the FIRST NIGHT!!! Saturday and Sunday wasn't too much different, the cooler fete I planned on going to on Saturday was booted from its original venue and for whatever reason was shut down at the 'backup' location. ALL the people expecting to go to that cooler fete were then rerouted to another and it caused chaos. That's how the entire weekend was going for people who wanted to party and many ended up bouncing from pillow to post and ended up in backyard jams.
Jouvert. From about 2am, everywhere you looked in Brooklyn were teams of young people dressed in hood like gear with masks and flags. If there was ever a time to take revenge on someone you hated, you can take it out for jouvert. Its the middle of the night, the presence of police is just that, presence of police and its just an unsafe environment. Bands come out but its just not the same. This too I elected to stay home for. While listening to the goings on outside, I wondered to myself if any of these 'kids' knew what jouvert was REALLY about.  Where it came from or even what it represents. The sight of the young women in thongs, boots and a flag disgusted me and just left me feeling sick as I knew this was just a preview of what was to come the following morning.

The Parkway. SMH.
I am not completely sure what the protocol was for 2011 as I missed it but missing it let me see with a pair of fresh eyes. My band assembled around 10am and were ready to hit the road around 11:30.  What we have done in the past was get the volume soaring so masqueraders can enjoy the 'jump' from the mas camp to Rochester/Dorchester Avenue *not too sure of which but where the trucks get inspected. THIS YEAR the police told us that the music had to be played at minimal to no volume as the dancing would cause masqueraders to block traffic and they wanted to avoid that. They told me personally that getting there had to be done as quickly as possible. Hmmm. Ok. Once there, we were out of breath from the fast pace/borderline running we had to do to keep up with the truck. Masqueraders can go ALL DAY, but when you're going with NO music, there's a negative impact on the body.

After passing inspection, we were good to go. By now it was a little after 1pm if I'm not mistaken. Music started pumpin and the adrenaline started flowing again. Thing is, police escorts made sure to it that the trucks didn't stop moving forward and kept us at a fast pace. I wouldn't lie, there were times that we stopped but it was always for a REASON, never to let us enjoy the music or show off costumes. Police tried to keep people from walking from previous bands into oncoming ones but that somehow got out of hand. I remember sitting on the streets taking a breather and looking behind me to see a plastic police barricade being held by a line of police officers holding back an ENORMOUS crowd of people. People were slipping through the sides, hopping over and in between people. It was a mess. It looked like a disaster waiting to happen. At this point, T&T Boys played a reggae chune and AS it buss the crowd pushed past the police, the barricade and if I was still on the floor, would have been me. While passing by me in my full costume and laughing was a young woman saying "what they thought, they could stop us"?  It was uncontrollable, the police did nothing in fear of starting a riot but apologized to those of us close by and tried giving explanations. None were necessary. A blind man could see that it was not the fault of the NYPD or the band but the unruly 'patrons' of the event. The amount of nonmasqueraders allowed in the allotted space FOR the masqueraders wasn't controlled in between the bands which made it easy for them to do as they felt when they DID reach a band.
Seeing that I missed last year, I don't know if 'the parkway' gradually changed over time or if this year was just a free for all but some of the 'costumes' were just borderline offensive and I feel like the origin of mas playing has gone WAY off coarse. There was a time when you wore a costume and as a masquerader you danced your mas, you played a character and were proud to do so and that you were more or less, covered. Yes, there is the issue of bra, beads and feathers now but have a theme. Stick to it. And if not, be tasteful let it be pretty. For God's sake, let it be rated PG at least. Is this mas? Should I have just gotten some pasties and say damn the feathers, cloth or beads? COVERTHEHELLUP.COM


*compliments KingPin Photography
I wont go into how morally wrong I thought this was because although this is MY blog, there will be some one who will have some negative opinions of what I had to say and I'd rather not go through the headache but you can just imagine.

This Labor Day was enjoyable for me.  There were some ups but more downs.  The days of old had mas and spectators. There were good times that were memorable and those memories last til now. What the 'parkway' has become is a free for all and a waste of money for not only the masqueraders but for all involved. By 5pm, there were no bands on the road, multiple injuries, some deaths and a rat race to the 'stage'. Parties are being targeted by the State and labeled venues to shut down and we wont even discuss jouvert. At this rate, there will be no more Carnival on the Parkway in Brooklyn. Everyone will want to play dumb and want to know why. If you can't understand why, let me explain. The committees aren't sponsoring anything, anymore, they along with masqueraders are seeing how much of a waste of money this NY carnival is becoming, the streets are filled with young people (that are probably not even old enough to legally drink), along with their age comes irresponsibility, some, not all are causing fights and can not contain their liquor, for the ones that act foolishly (young and old alike) are causing people to wind up dead, the police have their hands tied because they're hit with so many lawsuits they'd rather keep their jobs opposed to being fired over some knuckle head that may wind up being shot by that night anyway off their own stupidity. The list can go on and on but it's a mess. The unnecessary fighting, shooting and killing going on for Labor Day weekend that these people are doing will cause them to lose it all by themselves. They need the help of no one. They've got this one.

T&T Boys, you may not be the biggest band but you up to now have been a safe band.  The vibes on the road is always nothing sort of amazing and Wassi Ones looks forward to seeing you on the road in Miami.  Miss it? Yuh mad awah? Woo Hooo!






CONVERSATION

3 comments:

  1. The only fete worth going to that Labor Day weekend was Vale Vibe Tantana. It sell off!!! Beautiful crowd, mad vibes, and the food was stellar (from Sugarcane Restaurant), and it did not got shut down.
    Even the backyard parties got shut down. Brooklyn gone to the dogs yes.

    I stayed home for Jourvert and the Parkway 'cause for years I watched those things fall off. I wasn't wasting my time to leave my house this rounds. That Parkway scene waiting for a RIP sign to put down.

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  2. I don't think they will get rid of it completely. They benefit financially from it too much. What they will do is what they've been doing. Charge everyone for everything and shut them down before they can get to enjoy it. Its a win win for them.

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  3. True. But as support from people are falling off, we can't be too sure of it's profitability in the future.

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