Monday, August 30, 2010

Writing my first Investigative Journalistic Piece

I wanted to wait until my spirits lifted before speaking about my adventures with writing my piece, originally titled, "What is the Future of Dance and Music in the Caribbean?" for the site I speak about a lot these days.

Today wasn't as great either but the night at home is going well - the Vicissitudes always cheers me up, because I work fairly hard to keep it true and enlightening. So, I took my time and looked at my stats and reread some posts that some of my readers like. And, I honestly think, it's time for me to quit the bitching and embrace all the beauty that is left...which is plenty, tenk Gawd. :)

So, when I got the instructions from my Latineos editor, an exciting Martinican, I was rearing to go. I had no idea where I would really start and how it would pan out, but I reassured myself that if I was able to joke out all of first year college (doing term papers in the early morning hours of the day they were due, drinking excessively, sleeping in every single class for a whole semester)and at the end, still come out flying high and with dignity....I said, artistic investigative journalism? Piece a Pastry Passions' chocolate bread pudding! With rum sauce!!!!

I wrote the introductions to both sections and waited for my trip to Little Theatre to watch NDTC's performance....I'm still waiting! A little friend of mine botched that trip several times for the month so I took matters in my own hands and arranged for interviews with key dancers and the Artistic Director. This went very very well :)

But before these interviews, the wireless router at home told me the same thing that Clive Owen told Julia Roberts in the movie, Closer. This was: "Now fuck off and die. You fucked up SLAG".

Yep, my router skinned out his batty to me and popped right down. I was left stranded, with only a single ADSL cable to share with my parents. I told myself - pray. So, I said one day, after making sure not to swear too much for a few minutes: God, help me.

Probably two days later I got a call from the largest mobile company in Jamaica. They were advertising 4G Broadband wireless modems. I jumped at it, rejoicing that the Lord loved me even though I thought about so many various perverse activities daily and used expressions that probably had my Grandma saying "In the name of Jesas" or "Jesas Crise af Nazaretttt!!!" from wherever she was observing (and hopefully smiling). By the next day, a technician came to install the system for me.

Wow! He was a lactose intolerant technician, so the whole time, while he spoke with me, I was initially disgusted then later amused because his allergies had set in (he had drunk a Supligen) and his nose was running like it was being hunted by a maimer. When he finally left (after getting to my house two and a half hours late, on a work morning)...I thought all my problems had been solved....WRONG! The service is still quite shitty to say the least...but I can do a bit of surfing in my room so....

This was two weeks into my month-long time frame. I was quite nervy by this time, having only one completed email interview.

I got everything done!!!! The Dance Captain for NDTC did me so many beautiful gestures of kindness and made me realize that I don't have to be jaded about success - PEOPLE CAN STILL BE NICE!!!! I had a lovely interview with a Cuban dancer which was a bit uncomfy at times because I had not completely had a Cuban in mind when I had inserted a few questions such as " What factors motivate the migration of your countrymen from your homeland?", to which he said so facetiously and sweetly: I don't know about anybody else. I came here on a contract to dance. I did not come on a raft." (This exchange was not included in the final draft.) I really enjoyed that interview.

I also enjoyed my interview with Tippa, a popular street dancer, who was conducting a dancehall aerobics class at a posh New Kingston hotel's health club. I leaned up on the wall, trying my best to keep my hips stationary. The place was becoming a real "winery" but I held on tight to my self control and played it cool until he stopped doing "the butterfly" better than Carlene the original Dancehall Queen. The interview with him was great and he spoke very candidly. For example, I asked him- Do you want to make it to the top and bring street dancing there with you? He answered that, he wasn't going after the top as his aim, because he had seen far too many dancers "sell out" and do things he would never consider doing to get there. I found this very profound - he just wants to be happy and not unaware of who he is.

In terms of the rest of the Caribbean, I got so much help from my friend in Tobago who dances there and has quite insightful and unique views on culture. She was able to put me on to a good number of nationalities and I owe her soooo much for that. My friend from Barbados helped me also, and I was able to snag a great interview from a Bajan King of Wuk Up. Both the Dance Captain and the Jamaican in T&T are links through two great friends of mine, Trina-Kay and Keino. I won't stop acknowledging their importance in making my article happen. Thanks guys!

The musician interviews were also great. The first completed interview came from a friend of mine who is a very talented pianist. That was a very funny interview! He lamented afterwards that I asked a few questions that were too difficult to answer. But, I didn't mind because he made me a little less hopeless about the article since he was the first one to submit a response.

I also interviewed a Tobagonian drummer who does quite a bit in the African genre. I found his interview starkly revealing, especially where he stated matter of factly that his parents think he will fail at drumming, which is what he loves and is his passion.

The Barbadian keyboardist I interviewed via email is very very articulate and intelligent. He answered every question expertly especially the one he started off by admitting that he wasn't sure what the question was asking.

I think though, that the person who I found to be my favourite in terms of interview behaviour was Mr. Barry Moncrieffe, the Artistic Director for NDTC. The man is soooo warm and nice! And I made two severe faux pas! The first night I met him, I spoke with him SEVERAL times. I knew he was the Artistic Director but I had not caught his name. So, after I had exhausted Dance Captain Marlon and Arsenio, the AD begged me to come back the following day since he was a bit preoccupied. I acquiesced and made to part saying, Could you remind me of your name? He smiled sweetly and said "Barry Moncrieffe".....I was thoroughly embarrassed! How could I not remember how he looked? This man is the power house behind the most elite fashion designing company in Jamaica, he is a famous dancer, and a whole other bevy of titles and accomplishments. And I didn't even know the man's name. didn't end there. After I arranged and conducted a lovely telephone interview, on the day of my deadline, mind you :) he encouraged me to stop by during the show and snag a copy of a beautiful Anniversary program so that I could have authorized pictures to use. As I strolled in to Little Theatre once more, the front desk clerk told me to open the auditorium door and ask the usher to show me Mr Moncrieffe; the usher was right at the front, I was told.....

I opened the auditorium door. There was a tall man in an impeccably tailored white shirt leaned up on the railing watching the show intently. I tapped him and said, Excuse me, are you the usher?"........

......Mr. Moncrieffe gave my hand a warm squeeze plus I got a hug. I guess, I was refreshing - being so stupid it was perhaps endearing :)

I got my pictures. And I feel so much less jaded about greatness. We don't all have to turn into assholes if we make it.

Writing this article really helped me grow in various ways. I was very very happy to have contributed this work to Latineos. After sharing this, I really am hopeful that I will rejoice in all my blessings more and ease off the bruk vibes issues of who don't love me right.

Thank you God for this beautiful gift of life :)

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