Category Archives: Miami Life

Day of Death Walk

Walking to school was the funniest thing.

Ashley and I often laughed our way to school. The walk alone was never boring; we generally made fun of the characters on the street. Something funny awaited our way to meet our school bus to Miramar Elementary School. We were the most popular girls in 5th grade.

We looked forward to our walks. There was a certain independence reserved only for these times. Any other time, we were confined to the sidewalk directly in front of my house. And once the streetlights came on, my front door was the proverbial limit.

There was much to be seen on any given morning. We looked forward to the funny men and women who graced the front of Jibarito Supermarket.  Ashley and I would ‘round the corner to our right, and head south.

7:30am.

Down 2nd Avenue, we expected to see various happenings: Dogs chasing men riding bikes; Hector’s daily prostitute dramas!

Maria always went back, even though each morning, she would be thrown out while she yelled and screamed in protest.

Hector’s wife was due home from working all night. And although we understood every Spanish word he yelled, it came in rambling, quick-tongue form.

Hector always promised to see her later, once Maria conceded the fight. She would gently gather her things, thrown out by Hector, from the sidewalk, and carefully fold each item. She’d hand brush her hair. Look around. Pout her lips. And proudly walk away.

Then there were the early-morning meetings with drug dealers, and their diligent day-workers. Their meetings were held from their low-rider Cadillacs, gleaming in the sun. Workers hunched in the passenger windows for their debriefing sessions and assignments.

The Jibarito Supermarket, being on our right-hand side, was where we expected the most action. There, an ever-changing, animated group of homeless people who looked like they represented the dingy version of United Colors of Benetton, congregated at its doors, to supplicate potential patrons to make their daily donations to their cause. In turn, they’d dance and entertain. They’d even open the door to help generous ones enter the store.

We’ve witnessed them push the store door close to non-generous ones.

That was funny to us.

Jose, the manager of this motley crew, was Cuban. Jose didn’t appear homeless, though. He was always clean, smelled of cologne and rum, and wore all white. White panama hat. White, crisp shirt. White trousers. White shoes. Jose was heavy set with a huge, square face and a bushy unkempt beard. His wild, salt-and-pepper hair tamed only by his hat. In fact, the only colors which adorned Jose were his generous set of reds, yellow-and-greens, blue-and whites, and other color beads which hung low to his belly.

As we approached, he balanced on each foot like a jester holding invisible juggling balls. He motioned towards the supermarket doors to usher givers in. He bowed as people entered, as if it was an invitation to a show. His show. He held the door with his right hand, the same hand which held his dented flask. It spilled his deliverance with each boisterous arm exertion. His theatrical left hand remained palm up, showing thick golden rings on his pointer and middle fingers. The jester’s smile, gleamed a couple golden teeth and golden crowns, as it tightly clutched a thick Cuban cigar. 

We were finally directly in his path.

“¿Oye, muchachas?! ¿Donde vayas?” He sang through gritted teeth; he twirled and swooped his waist to the right. He hopped to the left.

We veered to the opening right.

He immediately hopped to the right-leaving his scent where he had just stood. His golden teeth blinded us, but gleaming blood-shot eyes connected with us. His movements made him appear almost as a phantom, leaving a trail of white. I wondered if I had imagined it. He was both scary and amusing.

We stopped quickly-and dodged left-and ran. We ran away from the store, leaving his companions in the same uproar. They were laughing.

We were laughing. Holding hands and screaming, we ran down two blocks. Then, we stopped. We hunched over, gasping for breath, laughing uncontrollably.

We blindly walked and laughed as we continued south, down 2ndAvenue.

We passed 32nd Street.

Two days later, we heard that he had raped Carmen, a Puerto Rican girl in our grade.   

 We didn’t know if it was true or not, and our parents always said not to comment on things we didn’t see with our own eyes. And even then, if it wasn’t our business, to keep our mouths shut. You see. You don’t see. Well, we didn’t see-for real. So, we didn’t know.   

That was the last time we saw him.

7:40am.

Oblivious to any real danger, we walked one more block and enjoyed more minor thrills along the way. We saw Madame Union’s pit bulls mating. They seem to be having a group sex party.

I was just astonished to see Madam Union’s all white pack in full swing-humping.

“Ouuu!” Ashley beamed. “Let’s tie them.”

“How do you tie them?”

“Girl, don’t you know anything?!” Ashley asked. “It’s a Haitian thing. Anytime you see dogs fucking,” she grabbed my pinky finger with her pinky finger, “You tie ‘em up by doin’ this. You say my name,” She said as she pushed our joined pinkies towards me, “I say your name,” she said, as she pulled our joined pinkies back towards her. “Ready?”

“Okay,” I said. “Ashley,” I said cautiously, as I yanked her pinky towards me.

“Adrienne,” She pulled back.

“Ashley!” I got excited.

“Adrienne!” She matched my excitement.

We continued this way for a few minutes.

We were so engulfed in our spell, that we didn’t notice the moans of three coupled pits.

We finally looked to our right, where the orgy was, in Madam Union’s dirt yard. We witnessed the coupled dogs attempting to pull away from one another. They fought for freedom and all three pairs were stuck!

We erupted in laughter.

But the dogs were in visible pain. All three dogs pulled and pulled. But they were stuck.

“Ki es sa k’ap fout anmerde chyienm yo la?!” (Who’s bothering my dogs?) Came Madam Union’s boisterously shrieky voice, as she swung her door open hard with annoyance. 

Madam Union was the vodou queen. You didn’t mess with her!

We startled and broke out in lightning speed. We ran away laughing, to the sound of her precious dogs moaning in pain. We prayed she didn’t see our faces.

 7:50am.

Javier and Hector. They dropped out of Robert E. Lee to sell drugs for Papo. Their shift began early morning, I guess. Because they were soon approaching.  

 Instinctively nervous, I walked closer to Ashley as the gap between Javier and Hector and us closed.

“Y’all want some weed?” Hector, the one with slicked back, shiny-with-gel-black hair asked. His wife beater t-shirt was tucked firmly into his tight, light-stone-washed jeans. His belt seemed too big for the ‘fit. But he seemed to appreciate his own style. He switched from leg-to-leg, confidently, and leaned back, peering at us from his angled head.

“What’s weed?” Confused, I looked to Ashley. She knew everything.

“Some bullshit these assholes smoke,” Ashley replied right in front of him with disdain, “It’s like grass and they get all high-acting stupid,” she said as she twisted her neck. She then turned back at him slowly, fearlessly.  She glared at Hector. Then at Javier.

I was still thinking about how much emphasis she put on the word stupid. The word dropped slow and heavy, and the last syllable lingered on her tongue. That sound only comes through clenched teeth, with the tongue pushing up against the ceiling of the mouth. I thought it was kind of harsh. I wondered if she could have simply said, no thank you. But I assumed the stance. Whether she was mean or not, I’m sure she had a good reason for it. They didn’t deserve our kindness, anyways-being high all the time. They were stupid; dropping out of school and stuff. I had to be ready to fight if Hector got offended.  I looked at her distorted face, head cocked-to-the-left, and matched the look. I shared her glare to the boys.

Everyone knew who Ashley’s brother was. He was the king of that block. And you don’t wanna mess with Big E’s sister.

“Dayum, dawg, my bad. We didn’t see you,” Hector laughed, “Javi, let’s go, man.”  They backed up, and walked around us without saying another word.

The feeling of power crawled up my back. I felt protected and proud.  

Astride slammed her fist into her palm.

I thought that was a bit extra at this point.

7:53am.

“Maa-riiii-cooooone!” Wailed a drunkard walking towards us from a distance.

We looked at each other with mouths agape.

I blinked to see if I was hallucinating.

“Maa-riiii-cooooone!” Floated from his wet, dribbling lips again. Our crooner was lazily gliding towards us. His guayabera shirt was dingy and un-buttoned. It was a couple sizes too big, so it only framed his boney, peach-colored chest which looked like a canvas for sparing hairs budding.  His oversized trousers were equally dirty, and his bare feet were so darkened with dirt, it didn’t match his body’s complexion. “Maa-riiii-cooooone!” He yelled again.   

And that’s when I saw it.

A long oblong shaped penis protruded from his unzipped trousers, and dangled left to right with each arduous step the man took.  He was getting closer to us.

Too shocked to laugh. Too shocked to scream. Ashley and I looked at each other with inquisition marking our faces.

“Maa-riiii-”

Thwack! Came a loud blow to his head by a nearby savior. He had hit the Maricone guy on the head with a green Heineken bottle.

Maricone laid motionless on the floor, with blood pumping out of his head.

Ashley and I grabbed each other at the impact of the blow. Too shaken to speak, we hugged each other tightly.

The savior seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Everything went silent. And we froze. Heart stopped beating. Tears spilled from our eyes. We couldn’t move.

It was not funny.

7:56 AM.

We have to go. The bus is set to arrive at 8:00am.

I don’t remember catching the bus.

I don’t even remember the ride to school.

I heard or learned nothing that day. We floated through the day.

Every time we attempted to begin the conversation, we found no words.

We shook our heads on it. I shook my head to shake the images out of my head. I didn’t want to think about it.

5th grade felt like a container to suppress our womanhood.

Later, we learned that Maricone died.

That same day, Hector and Javier died. Got shot for stealing Papo’s weed.

Fat Cuban jester died. Carmen’s dad had a gun.

Our walks to school were no longer funny.  

My Niggah

Two Boys on Tracks, San Marcos

“Whut up, my niggah!” Came the boisterous greeting from Carl to his best friend from Kindergarten as he approached him. He gave his friend the once over, studying his oversized, worn sneakers, baggy jeans held by a tight belt, that seemed to swallow his thinly framed friend, as the jeans were bigger than the present-day, Hip-hop fashion commanded, and his oversized Cross Colour ® shirt, a Hip Hop clothing design which became popular in 1989, appeared weathered. The once vibrantly multi-colored, stripped shirt was now faded.  “Guess you wearin’ yo’ big bro’s old clothes again!” He laughed, still holding his friend’s hand, from “slappin’ fives”, and sliding into held fists, which remained at chest height. Carl’s eyes made it to his friend’s hair, and then Carl made a quick jerk from the hand embrace. He brought his released fist to cup his lips and he yelled, “Yooooooo! What da fuck dey did to yo’ tape, man?!” He cackled out, stomped his feet as if he meant to march away, but was suspended by a turnstile as he made a full 360° turn while dancing and chanting in synchronized march step. He looked at his friend and repeated, “Whut dey did to yo’ tape, niggah?! Dey fucked you up!” He seemed to press hard upon the word, ‘fuck’, as he held that word longer than the any other word in his query. He reached up to his friend’s forehead, where his hairline was crooked, and half of it was  ¼ of an inch further back from his natural hairline, proving that his barber was either blind or inept. Carl bent over in a belly laugh, not realizing the hurt he had imposed upon his too-shocked-to-speak friend.

“Mannn, shuddup!” Bernard muttered, grossly embarrassed and looking around as if he’d find the perfect hole to crawl into. He touched his hairline with his right hand, and palm brushed his curly hair down, as if that would correct the injustice done to it. He pushed past his friend, more angrily now, than hurt, to continue his walk to the school house. His old backpack slouched on his right shoulder, forcing his body to lean towards the left as he stalked away. His step hipped-hopped on his left leg, as was the “cool walk” of the day, taking full steps with his left, and shorter ones of his right leg. Looking at him, one couldn’t tell if that was due to the weight of his book bag, or his natural walk. Either way, his pride was tethered to that walk, which gave the perception that it did not bother him that he was lacking what he thought was essential to a successful life at school. If his mom didn’t stop trying to cut his hair, and he didn’t get some new clothes soon, his life at Miramar Elementary School would be hell. He’d have no respect, and worse, no friends. He slapped his fist into his open left palm as he thought about what he could do to make money.

“Yo, B! Wait up, niggah. Don’t be mad at me!” Carl yelled as he ran after his best friend. It wasn’t his fault dude was coming to school all jacked up. At least he still hung out with him. And if he didn’t tell him the truth, he wouldn’t be a friend. Bernard should be lucky that he still hangs out with him even though he comes to school looking like his people must be poor as fuck. He put his arm around his friend’s neck aggressively, although to show affection. “Chill out, niggah.” He beckoned, but more to show his familiarity, “We fam, niggah. Don’t get all all soft on me, nah.” He shook his pal’s neck as if that would shake off the hurt he realized Bernard was feeling.

The boys traveled two more blocks south in silence. They continued their way down to NW 2nd Avenue; their destination, 30th Street, to wait on the school bus scheduled to pick them up from behind Buena Vista Elementary School. As they passed by LaFama Supermarket on 31st Street, Carl turned to Bernard who by now was in better spirits and said, “Man, I’m hungry.”

The smell of Cuban coffee and fresh pastries filled the air. One could also get a whiff of buttered Cuban toasts and bacon. The bakery café right next door to La Fama served breakfast and dinner at the same time. Cubans ate anything at any time. They even had chicharrones, pork cracklings, right next to the pastelitos de guayaba,  pastelitos de guayaba y queso, and pastelitos de carne-the three main staples of Cuban pastries, in the pastry warmer which also contained empanadas de carne, and croquetas de jamón.

Carl fell from formation and faced the bakery. The sunrise cast a brilliant yellow light upon the otherwise pre-dawn dim of light. Workers and moms packed the outside window, and inside, a row of hungry worker men sat in the narrow café, which only had a foot of standing room between the wall, and from behind the men who sat on stools.  “Niggah, you deaf?! Let’s go, man. I’m hungry!” He started towards the café.

“But I don’t-“ Bernard started.

“Niggah, shut up. I already know yo’ ass ain’t got no money! Let’s go. You know you hongry!” And with that, he grabbed his best friend by the collar and dragged him towards the café until Bernard resolved that, that’s what they were doing at this moment-getting something to eat.

And Bernard conceded that, his friend was a jerk, but at least he looked out for him.

 

 

Image by Richard Menzies, at http://rdmenzies.com/Photography/

The Attacker

Tom Hoops

Faded screams and yells melted into the rhythmic drumming in sync with the bloody fists pounding against Carolina’s head. Her vision blurred, and she faded in and out of darkness and the prism of colors.

Her attacker continued the thrashing despite the screams of onlookers.

The scene was chaotic at least. Cars zoomed by, and honked at the onlooking crowd- which had all but spill into the street from the shadowy alley where most were suspended; they watching what must have been an epic event. The crowd jumped, hollered and pumped raised fists in the air; but it had an interestingly ominous feel. One couldn’t tell if what they were watching was exciting or dangerous. Passerby-ers couldn’t tell if the crowd was happy or afraid-the excitement and mayhem was that of something gratuitous being given, or some type of cock fight. One couldn’t tell by their reaction. From behind, a new comer can only see that many had pulled out their cell phones-that prevented any newcomers from seeing the event.  These lucky ones, who had gotten to the event early, were recording. Some continued to scream at whatever they were watching. Some ran out of the alley. But most stood, cell phones capturing the atrocity being committed, too immobile to decipher what was actually happening, with their mouths agape in a silent scream.

Carolina’s body weakened under her attacker, moribund and motionless. Her face sunken by broken skin and bones. Blood splattered everywhere and revealed white flesh, and muscles from her exposed cheeks and vertically split lips. The cartilage from her broken nose protruded from her disfigured face.

The Attacker grew tired. His hands were bruised and the blood which hid his knuckles was a mixture of his and his victim’s. He leaned back against his heels as his knees were hot and sore from the hot, asphalt pavement. He took a deep breath. He looked around at the cellphones in the air, and seemed deaf to the screams. His eyes were dark, glossy, but empty of emotion-they reflected the horror stained upon his audience’s faces. His break seemed to come from fatigue, rather than remorse. He rocked himself up slowly. His right knee came up as he planted that foot on the ground. He looked up again, with his right elbow propped upon his knee, and held his chin. He lifted that arm and wiped his forehead with a bloody backhand. He winced with pain from the contact of his forehead with his bruised knuckles. He then placed his hand back on his knee to support himself as he pulled his left leg up to finally stand up. He squinted as he leaned his head back to look directly at the sky, partially hidden by the flanking buildings. He didn’t shield his eyes from the protruding, yet glaring sun. He then placed both hands on his hips and inhaled slowly. He exhaled harshly, and coughed his head back down as his chin met his chest. He slowly raised his head and looked around. He wiped his mouth with bloody fist.

The crowd seemed to stop. All noise. Stopped. People became frightened and put their phones down. A few who dared to continue taping slowly backed out of the alley, pushing and stepping on whomever was behind them without so much of an ‘excuse me’.

The Attacker’s chest heaved up and down. His faced screwed back, as if he remembered his anger. He flashed back to his victim who laid there. Lifeless. And with the gasps and screams of a climaxed crowd who could take no more of the brutality, he gave Carolina one more swift and hard kick to the ribs. The crack of her bones muffled by his loud growl. And without so much of a glance at his environment, nor victim, he stalked away.

No one followed him.

“Call an ambulance!” broke the silence from the confused crowd.

 

Image borrowed by Emmi Grace’s article (Pinterest)

Real Girlfriends: Is that even possible?

Is it possible to have real girlfriends in 2010’s?

I find that as I grow older, I seek to cultivate and maintain female relationships. I think it is healthy for women to have supportive relationships.

I did not always think this way-that we should trust female relationships. I always thought those to be superficial at best, and spaces of gossip and contention at worst. I blame my not-so-trusting mom for raising my sister and I to not fully trust women.

So, up until about 15 years ago, with this debilitating belief that women could not be trusted , I maintained that I didn’t need female friends-at least not new ones. With the “No new friends” motto firmly tucked under my armpit, I sought to maintain ones of old…old elementary school friends. But even those relationships expired without so much as a bounce of thunder. These friendships melted into a lifeless mold, running and burning its course as if destiny herself guided it forth, without so much of a fuss or effort. We grew apart. We love each other, but we’re no longer the same people. Our beliefs had changed, our priorities had changed. And with each life event, our lifestyles had also changed. Over the course of the years, our once lively, contagious and respectively dependent relationships came to an uneventful end.

I didn’t realize that those relationships were over. Partly because they were over without notice.

I was in the throws of motherhood. I had overcome post-partum depression. I was pouring my energy into teaching my three baby girls all I knew. At the same time, I had this unrelenting thirst for knowledge because I wanted to have something of substance to give them. Their learning became my tasks of learning, and seeking to acquire more to give. An empty vessel has but that to give.

Because I understood what I lacked in my life, what my man could not give me, I had a newfound connection to how women approached life. I understood, firsthand, how inadequate a Black woman could feel due to lack. And “lack” is beyond monetary needs. But lack of support, friendship, confidence, education, resourcefulness, grounding, power, spiritual contentedness. And I wondered where it was, and how I would go about acquiring it. How could I share it with other women, to help stop their tears? The tears which could not be explained, except through the understanding that we women were lacking something.

But what I found, was that through my creative work, I healed. Then, I unintentionally developed relationships. I never saw myself as a gregarious member of the community. But I was suddenly attractive to women. As I became more comfortable in my skin, I inadvertently  acquired friends-no, sisters. I couldn’t control the care I felt for their growth and  well-being. I understood my mom and sister more. I understood my global sisters more. I became a womanist.

A womanist is one who supports other women. She loves women and is there, as a sister, to celebrate and lament victories and disappointments.

Men should encourage this. But some don’t. 

Women who keep friends are healthier. Granted, we should all mind the company we keep. And not all company is good company. However, I remain determined in the belief that there are good people-women, out there. And together, we’re happier; we accomplish great things while we enjoy life. As pillars of society, we can make our world better, not just for our children, but for each other, our people.  As  Audre Lorde says, “Black women sharing close ties with each other, politically or emotionally, are not the enemies of Black men.”

That is the general thought, isn’t it? That Black women congregating means it is to the detriment of Black men?

I believe the contrary. Real Black women support Black men.  The war on Black families can be healed through the cultivation of real girlfriends-sisters, that is. That’s community. That’s our village. Together, we build nations.

A real girlfriend is a mother, a sister, a counselor, a doctor, a spiritual healer, a work-out buddy, a motivator, a cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, a baby-sitter, an advice giver, a critic, and confidant. A real girlfriend is you. Be a real girlfriend! Then, you won’t have to ask if it’s even possible to have real girlfriends in the 2010’s.

Just my thoughts.

Sabotaging your future with fear

I have several fears. Fear of success is not one of them-or is it? I have a fear of NOT succeeding. I have a fear of growing old without a husband/partner. I have a fear of being hated. I have a fear of letting my children down.  What I realized is that I live in my head. And the, “What if’s?” keep me from going for what I want. So, instead of relaxing, leaping towards my desires, I sit; I think; I think; I analyze; I rethink; then, I simply do nothing.  When I fail, I move on…I don’t make lemonade from the lemons. I drink tea.

But if you never fail, you don’t know what success looks like. Gurrrrrrl, you better make lemonade when you get lemons! 

This has become a slogan in help books, and to wellness gurus. Remember, I NEVER profess to be a guru, nor do I profess to be well. I do the best I can with whatever I get…I don’t always get lemons-which, by the way, aren’t bad…lemons cleanse, they’re full of antioxidants (I think), Vitamin C, and really keep my belly flat a midst my  round and voluptuous bottom. It also keeps my skin clear, and my insides detoxified (I think); remember, I’m no expert. So, I love lemons. It’s the rotten strawberries and rotten potatoes which I don’t know what to do with.  (Sidebar: You ever let potatoes go bad in your vegetable holder? It emits this slimy substance and stinks to high heaven! Now, try to make…potato juice! Ewww)

The lemon metaphor about making lemonade out of lemon, to signify making the best out of bad situations does not apply all the time. Hence, the potato juice. Sometimes, when life hands you rotten ass strawberries, and rotten ass potatoes, you need just duck.

…Oh, and don’t give up. That’s all. Never, ever, ever give up. That’s what the lemon metaphor is all about. We sabotage ourselves. We let go. We move on to something else. We forget about our dreams. Can you imagine waking up 30 years later still wondering, “What if?” Can you imagine being overwhelmingly disappointed in yourself because you realize: what people think matters not; failing is not a death sentence; having a husband is not the face of success; you WILL let your children down-we are not perfect; and accepting yourself is your only saving grace? 

Live your dream-literally. Today, I told my college students I could fly…that I fly in my dreams all the time. They laughed. And I asked them, if you could live life, as your dream, what then, would you fear?

Gurrrrrrrl! You betta make that lemonade! 

Pac Jam Reunion!

I’m a Miami native. That could mean a lot of things depending on who you’re speaking with. So, let me clarify by disclosing my neighborhood, and associations. I AM AN ORIGINAL WYNWOOD GIRL. I grew up on 34th Street and 2nd Ave, in the hood-which is now a thriving art district. 

I came up during the rockin’ 80’s and roaring 90’s, when Pac Jam was the ultimate Teen Club. 

All the young adults and teens frequented the Pac Jam-if their parents were “cool” enough to let them go…or neglectful enough to not notice or care…either way, it was the place to be on a Friday night! 

Upcoming and current rappers of our emerging, Miami “hip-hop” era were usually the acts which would “rock” the crowd, introduce new dance numbers, break new records, etc. 

Boys and girls would hook up there; teens would show up with their friends to meet up with their prospective or current boyfriends, and/or crushes. It was the ultimate dating scene.

The place was always packed! Hence the name, PAC JAM. It was a jammed packed, musty-smelling, dimmed lighting, sticky flooring, loud-bass-booming, crowd-pushing, no-space to throw your elbows, hardly, or step-back too quickly, place to jam! The DJ was sure to jam! And boy, if you were there, you were “jamming!” 

Nothing mattered. The energy, the sounds, the smell of the place was all wistful because you were just happy to be there. For that moment, you were grown, you were free. The boys wore their hairs in high-top fades, or designed Cesar cuts. They’d save their Adidas track suits or bright colors of Karl Kani fashions, or Cross Colors outfits just to wear it at the Pac Jam. They’d rock their Jordan, Adidas, or Nike sneakers or Jodeci boots. Girls loved their hair weaved-ponytail extensions or their freshly new cuts of a frontal hair-curled-stacking which was freeze dried with spritz, with the bottom back, shaved. With this cut, you’d need to wear your bamboo shaped, golden hoop or square earrings-at least two pairs, nonetheless. Even if she had to change clothes in the car, she would rock a midriffs, and high waist-ed, tight jeans or a tight tube mini skirt. You had to represent. You had to look good. You had to smell good. 

Your stroll into the club was none too simple. You’d be bouncing in the line, as the sound of the music from inside permeated your chests, entering your heart cavity to instruct that organ of its new rhythm. The heavy-bass-beat permeated your entire being. You and your friends were giddy and bouncing one knee before you could even enter.  Once you’re at the door, that familiar but welcoming stench of teenage boys sweating and dancing would hit you, and you’d continue, in step into the club…to find other friends, or secure your spot, where you’ll park, for the night.

And you’re vibin’…the music is hitting number after number, and you are taken by the shear elevation of how it is compelling you to gyrate your hips, and all you wanna do is level your booty-bouncing skills of the “Doo-doo Brown” dance. The feeling of a young man’s strong arm around your waist to assist you in your dance was all the more pleasurable. Hopefully, he spoke first. And if he didn’t, a quick check by looking back is all it took to decide whether he was cute enough to stay. If he was not cute, you’d move quickly to signify the rejection. If all was good, the dance would be the introduction. The second dance, the conversation. The slow dance, the decision to “go together”; and by the end of Pac Jam that night, you’d have a new boyfriend. 

On July 12th, 2014 it was important to recapture those moments of teenage rebellion and freedom. The Mac Center, better known as the Double Tree Hotel in Miami’s Airport district became the venue to recreate that era. The communities of Liberty City and Overtown came together in this most unassuming place, to recapture a piece of history. The place easily held 800-1000 people. It was like a conference, held at night. For in this large and spacious, first-floor conference room of the Double Tree, which is known for supporting the Antiques Road Show when it’s in town, saw masses of Pac Jam folks, loyal to date, and hoping to preserve that positively euphoric moment of childhood nostalgia. It was indeed a momentous occasion.

Patrons were eager to hear Society perform his 1994-hit, “Yes Indeed!” Backed by Mecca aka Grimo (a Rapper/Poet/Actor in his own right) and JT Money’s plethora of local favorites like “Playa Ass Shit” and “Hoe Problems”. Mystikal was thrown into the bill as a seller, even though Miami faithfuls were really there for the former two. And as expected, the show’s opening was electric! Society teased the mass with the 20-year old-hit, which remains relevant, and impacting to this day! The crowd jumped, sang/rapped along, and for that moment, we were all 20-years younger-recalling the first time we heard it. And at that very moment, silently understanding that Society was indeed legendary.

And just when you felt it was okay to go home, JT Money delivered a most endearing passage through his songs, which educed the crowd into that moment where you were trying to decide whether you were a “hoe” or if you’re a man, had one for a girlfriend.  We all sang/rapped along anyway. For regardless of the lyrics, I knew I wasn’t a “hoe”. 🙂

Most would credit Uncle Luke for Pac Jam’s success. However, it was the people. The teens who continued to role through week after week like a cult following. Now that everyone from that era are grown, probably married, divorced, dead, in jail, educated, have moved away, or are still living over there on 15th AVE of Liberty City or 3rd AVE of Overtown, it was important to come together, more like a family reunion, through the vehicle which bound us all together in the first place-the music.

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That pioneering Miami music which is like no where else was a re-visitation of all things familiar. Stemming from Uncle Luke, was Uncle Al, Poison Clan, with JT Money; and then we had New York based artist greats who helped pioneer the fusion of sounds, like Society, Mecca and Buddha. There are plenty others-Zoe Pound, Trina, Trick Daddy, and many others. And from them, came many more others. But hearing those original ones brought it back. It brought the people together in droves. It brought back the smells, vibe, the energy we all remembered.

It was THE PAC JAM!

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