Someone recently described me as an Archaeologist. At first, I didn’t really see the connection, but then I thought for a moment. One of the things I love most about record collecting is how much akin it is to an Archaeological “dig”. A person finds the physical record, occasionally has to dust it off, and often there is incredible meta-data housed on the labels and sleeves that don’t make into CD liner notes and aren’t embedded into an mp3. Case in point: above, a 1970s Roots Reggae 12 inch single I picked up at a local record store. I see that it belonged to someone named C.T. (scrawled in pen in the corner), and that it was purchased on the North Side of Chicago at a place called Studio 1 Records [“the place for Carribean Sounds and Crafts”], based on a rubber stamped logo.
This particular recording very clearly displays the ingenuity that occurred in the process of getting this record (that was pressed in Kingston, Jamaica and still smells like incense) out to the public. On the outside, it’s packed in a generic white paper sleeve with the word “disco” printed near the center hole cut out. But on the inside, it’s clear that the sleeve was made from repurposed paper. In fact, it was made from uncut flats created to be boxes of Jamaican Ovaltine Biscuits (a national favorite snack cookie, then and now). Dope.
So much more than I would have gotten from your garden variety download.
Poet Stacyann Chin’s memoir, “The Other Side of Paradise” (Scribner, 2009), is a coming-of-age story. It’s a tale of growing up never fitting in, not with family, not with social structure. It’s also about living in Paradise (both literally and figuratively), but never feeling as though Paradise’s bounty is available for you. Ultimately, however, the book is about discovering that no man (or woman) is an island in regards to pain and loss…and joy.
A one-time performer on Def Poetry jam, Stacyann Chin’s upbringing was enough to seal in insecurities, and yet, she kept trying to break out beyond her circumstances. She was born on Christmas Day in Lottery, Jamaica, and systematically denied by both her mother and father, something she struggled with throughout her childhood. Stacyann grew up in the slums of Jamaica that tourists never visit, and she suffered abuse that no girl should ever have to suffer at the hands of family… always dreaming of the life of the fortunate ones, always dreaming of being safe and happy.
“The Other Side of Paradise” is a fresh, poetic read that balances images of hope in trying times and the darker side of Paradise.
Below, Stacyann Chin performing “Untitled” on Def Poetry Jam.