How this Brooklyn Girl Got, Got

Being a born and raised black woman from Bedstuy, I like to think I can spot a scam from blocks away. I’ve seen people getting hustled for cash, phones, jewelry, etc for most of my natural life. So it came as nothing but a devastating blow to my ego (and funds) when I literally and figuratively got taken for a ride.

This adventure into how I got played like a fiddle started at my usual go-to for groceries in the “Stuy” aside from Mr. Kiwi’s, at Food Bazaar on Myrtle and Broadway. A standard market with plenty of aisles of sometimes hard to find goods that any millennial hipster resident is bound to be delighted over. This particular evening in the hood I hadn’t dressed for the frosty 30 feeling like 10-degree weather. I still found the adult in me fighting onward to finish my last errand of the day. After the intentionally speedy shopping trip and after the otherwise long day of adulting, my iPhone and I were running close to empty. This begins my harrowing experience of the night.

While shivering my hind off, I hastily try to procure a way home via my favorite ride-sharing apps. A rather risky situation, considering my misleading battery on 5% and was likely to shut down at any given moment. As I asked the security guard who was nearby opening up a locked gate, what the exact address was, he answers, excitedly “Why are you looking for a cab?” I nod “Yes!” without hesitation. He then rushes back indoors with the promise of assistance. Mere moments later a middle-age black man meets me near the exit and promises he’s been sent out to help me hail a cab from a nearby service. Nothing out of the ordinary as of yet, two older gentlemen one an employee from the store the other, a local clearly there to earn his stipend for helping. Within 10 minutes my ride was whisking me off to my not so near hood. The price, a smidge lower than what my apps displayed, it felt my night had gone off without a hitch. All was well up until my departure from the said vehicle.

How This Brooklyn Girl Got, Got You Me NYC

The driver, as I was exiting the vehicle to retrieve my groceries asked for his payment. I was a little taken aback but pushed on trusting the man’s East African accent and toothy smile. I give him the fare with tip and the second I closed the door and walked back towards the trunk of his car he sped off full force. As I mentioned before I was raised in Bedstuy so I’ve got quite the stamina and endurance for running. With nothing else to lose I start sprinting in my Ugg’s determined to stop the trifling grocery thief. I give it my all still freezing in my light leather jacket.  I am in arm’s length from the trunk as he yielded but decided not to stop as the traffic sign demanded, almost as if were to confirm this was no mere accident. I’d been had, if not by that man alone, then a ring of deceivingly helpful and gracious individuals.

Depleted, frustrated and seething with anger I make just about every single phone call possible. Starting with the man who so delightfully offered to help me in the first place, the security guard. After minutes of tracking the voice down, he agrees we’d spoken to each other prior but denies that he’d offered to help me find a cab because it’s specifically against the companies rules. He also refused the notion that he knew of anyone that’s assisted a shopper with transportation. My next stream of furious phone calls tackled every cab service in the surrounding zip codes, none of which dispatched a car to the store I was at or heading to my location. The next most final solution is one that is rarely considered and even more scarcely used, I called the police. Frantic and only remembering the ‘T’ on his license plate I describe my predicament to the dispatcher. Apologetic she inquired if I’d used any of those handy app’s to find my ride of the night which of course, I misguidedly had not. After a brief wait, I was alerted by the station that my partially documented experience (from the grocery store parking lot and traffic cams passed along the way) was simply not enough for a police report, therefore, leaving me empty-handed and helpless. With the finality of the dispatcher’s tone, it ultimately occurred that the scam I found myself on the losing side of, was pretty foolproof. The security, kindly gentlemen and pay-less driver could’ve very likely been in cahoots leaving me blindsided.

Conclusion

With that experience finished I take a few bits of lessons learned: always get your own cab, take notes of your driver’s license and TLC plates, and if the deal seems too good to be true, you can bet your bundle of groceries it is.

 

Gorillaz Gone Ape In the Barclays

Closing in on the colossal stadium, in the now metropolitan, which is Fort Greene, lies the Barclay’s Center.  The Barclays Center is certainly a circus of lights, advertisement and a certain glint of “New York” spirit. Whether it is the most out of place Roc-A-Wear clothing store or extremely lit (with actual lights) subway entrance to guarantee that you’ve definitely made it to your destination the Brooklyn way. Making my way into the colosseum in the city there’s a brief halt to the glamour and glitter while being checked in through the short security section. The lobby area is nothing special, especially when comparing to the light show that’s going on outside. Once past all the meekness of entering the tunnel to get to your seat, lies vendor after vendor serving decadent meals and frosty cold beers. The homage train car near the exclusive “American Express” entryway isn’t lost on this New York however, it does serve as a cool separation for the haves and the people who are actually riding the train.

Gorillaz Gone Ape You Me NYC(Image Courtesy of New York City Theater)

The Internet was a sublime opener for those previously unaware of the group. With a cocktail mix of R&B, hip-hop, funk and electronic they served as the perfect amuse-bouche to the audience. Even though there were a number of seats still being filled in, the waiting crowd was vibing to the beats.

Anticipation wore heavy on me wondering with questions of what form the band would appear in for the show. Previously known for concealing their identity with some groovy animations or using their silhouettes, the band storms on stage with a wild energy. Their outfits matching the presence of their music, electrical and eclectic.  All except for the frontman of the band, David Albarn’s character 2-D, represents a similarly grungy, laid back, cigarette ashing on my washed out black T-Shirt vibe. The other members performing as the backup in some radical bright patterns and eye-catching colors, like the animated videos in the background showing the remaining animated members of the band.

Gorillaz Gone Ape You Me NYC(Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan)

The first song bringing the band on stage “M1 A1” screams out an ominous call for help, behind a building guitar riff which is reminiscent of early guitar hero strumming that breaks into an electrifying brit rock anthem. It was an excellent way to start and rile up the crowd after a comparatively calm band like The Internet.

Followed up by ‘Tranz’ a trancey toon with an animated video of the nonhuman portion performing, gives a feel of what some of the first songs put out by the band.  There is more of a rock influence backing the track.  ‘Last Living Souls’ was next up using a beat machine.  David Albarn introduces a tougher hip-hop beat while the song sings out questioning the humanity of people while alternating between beats and a country-like ballad.  This song shows how the band can seamlessly incorporate different genres.

The band coasts through “Rhinestone Eyes” a softer melody before getting into the far creepier “Saturn Barz” featuring Popcaan. The song is dark visually and linguistically.  Popcaan sings through some of the painful realities of his life growing up in Jamaica, to a contrastingly creepy electronic rhythm. The electronic presence of the group, likely wouldn’t have translated as well without the harmonious background cast of all black singers. There, a solo by a spectacular talent that was especially appreciated by the audience.

Other highlights of their epically extravagant set include a variety of guest stars including De La Soul, Peven Everett, Bootie Brown and a Brooklyn native Mos Def. The experience was a definite separation from a typical concert experience with well-choreographed animated videos, to bring clarity to the lyrics that are usually far more serious than their sometime’s pop-punky backtracks. Towards the end of the show, most of the sparsity in the crowd was filled with standing fans singing along. This being a more personable performance for the band, it only leaves us fans anticipating what the transformative group has ahead of them.

Last Butterflies in Bedstuy

Dwindling in population steadily over the last two decades, more significantly within this past decade, is a colorful, diverse and growing extinct species.  However, they have an amazing ability to migrate and leave many dazzled by their ability to move through spaces designed specifically against them. Wonderful beings, dying out by the haphazard misguidings of the authorities and communities meant to protect them. People of color deserve far more.

Once the majority of the ghettos we were once segregated to, slowly but surely a large shift in the neighborhoods once deemed “unsafe” by the people who now inhabit them. Either grown tired, evicted from or displaced, the numbers of the black and brown natives are exceptionally low. The faces of those who built up the oh so cultured neighborhoods are now more commonly seen with goofily smiling faces on street murals, as if in a happy memorial of oneself.

Last Butterflies in BedStuy You Me NYC

Even though there aren’t many things more discomforting than seeing the faces get paler closer to the final or ‘hood’ stops on the train. The thought of the young pupils growing further and further away from the mosaic of mothers shouting down shopping lists from the second floor, the quick sentiment of “borrowing” a jump from the pig tailed double dutchers disappearing or the barbecues that started on Friday and ended the week after fading away, is a striking one.