Thursday, 26 November 2009

Second Class SL Citizen???

I'm sure she didn't mean it that way and I'm probably being overly sensitive or hormonal or what have you, but my SL consultant said something to me this week that made me feel like a second class SL citizen... and it got me thinking... is this the way it is everywhere?

I had my SLs installed in Barbados. I have no regrets about that decision because I had the time and the money to do it then and it was a pleasant experience. Lisa had even referred me to a couple of her clients with similar hair texture who gave me the lowdown on what to expect (re: slippage and time to lock) - so I knew she wasn't just trying to sell 'it' to me. Gold star there.

While I was in Barbados (and before I had my SLs installed), I tried calling a few UK Consultants, most didn't bother calling me back despite me leaving my UK cell number for them. No one answered my emails. Ok - well one person answered 2 months after I sent it which was no good really.  This was probably one of the main reasons I had my hair done in Barbados - every one of the 10 SL consultants and trainees I called gave me the time of day; if they weren't home when I called they called me back; they even gave me provisional installation dates and were very upfront about their pricing. I respected that - and came away thinking that these Sisterlocks people were very professional. At least the Bajan ones... :P

So after my initial frustrations with the UK lot; and while I was still in Barbados (I was there for a couple of months - told you I had a fantastic maternity leave! hahah) I joined the Facebook group - Sisterlocked and Lovin it. Perchance, I happened across a poster called Michelle who has made a comment about her SLs and living in London. I figured this sister would not put me wrong - so I messaged her and asked who her consultant was. Lo and behold - turned out Michelle was a Trainee (3 yrs in) and would happily do my retights etc once I got back to London. After receiving somewhat frosty receptions from other UK Consultants who stated that they preferred to maintain hair that they had installed themselves, Michelle was a breath of fresh air!

I have never regretted my decision to see Michelle; not once; never. Not even when my hair was falling out and I was losing locks. Michelle is just good people. Unlike a lotta consultants (UK/US), Michelle also quotes a fixed price for retightening sessions (as opposed to an hourly one), so you know what to budget for. I know - you're probably wondering now why I left Michelle. Well, I had an issue with my health that meant that I couldn't travel and with Michelle living on the other side of the river (I'm South East London, She's North East), I just couldn't get to her.  With her blessing, I searched for a closer Consultant, and with luck I found one, fully certified, very professional with over 9 years experience.

This Consultant has worked wonders on my hairline, babying the fragile hair at the temples and restoring my grid. All my stubbies were created by her hand (even though they wash out every time I wash my hair lol). So for the most part, I d-i-y with my trusty yarn needle (he's called Yarnie) and then every 8 weeks I head over to her's to have my hairline tended to (plus any additional retightening of course).

During my last session, I asked whether she had any SL tools because, with the increased unravelling at my ends, and the softness of my hair, it was becoming harder and harder to thread my ends through Yarnie. Also, it's virtually impossible to D-I-Y any of the stubbies because they're about as long as Yarnie (lol) and they just slip right out of the eye before I can get them near to the base. I explained that I wanted something that would clip on to the lock... something like the SL tool. I also explained that I was quite willing to pay for her retightening class so I could have both the 'official training' and the 'official tool'.  She seemed quite open to the idea and suggested that there was no need to pay for the full training since I was already D-I-Ying and doing alright; instead she could just sell me the SL tool as she was expecting a shipment in shortly.

Well, obviously, I thought that was fantastic. A few weeks passed and I sent her a message asking whether the tools had come in yet. No response. I waited a lil while and then asked again, thinking surely they must have come by now.  It was that response that made me feel like a pile of pooh.

She had indeed received some tools but they were for 'longstanding clients' who she'd be teaching how to retighten their own hair; and they were on her 'priority list'. She then went on to explain that there were lots of interlocking tools on the market so I should try one of those as a replacement to my Yarnie - since I was in a hurry.

I felt so confused. Why tell me about your shipment if you didn't really wanna sell any of them to me or if you had already preallocated them all? As I said right at the beginning, I'm probably just being uber sensitive or hormonal but I really felt gutted reading that response. I had been looking forward to having the tool and being taught how to use it. I thought it would give me a new lease on life as far as retightening was concerned. Now, I couldn't have a tool because I wasn't a 'longstanding client' I felt so crushed...

I'll never be anyone's longstanding client. I've only had my SLs since April and I've already had 3 consultants simply because of my circumstances. All 3 of my Consultants have been absolutely fantastic and professional women. I love them, but I also want to do my hair. I want to learn the right techniques (or be told I have the right technique down already) and I want the right tools. Yarnie is good for my locs that are sealed (by this I mean no or very minimal unravelling at the end), but he's not the best when it comes to the wild bunch.

There was a SL Consultant Training course (& retightening session) in the UK last week - unfortunately I was too late to register and couldn't have gone even if I was in time (just returned to work so cant take several days off like that!) and I would never have made it back to my side of London in time to collect my son from nursery. To date, there are no UK sessions scheduled for 2010.

So... my options are:

  1. Call the SL Home Office and complain until they sell me one directly (which is not gonna happen cos they just don't do that).
  2. Moan about it on Dr Cornwell's SL Facebook group (not sure what good that'll do either)
  3. Wait an eternity to see whether and when SL training will come back to London.
  4. Spend a fortune and go to Trinidad in Feb to attend THAT SL training session (heheheh can you say CARNIVAL?)
  5. Wait a demi-eternity and hope that I eventually make it onto my Consultant's priority list.
  6. Forget about ever owning an SL tool and plait all my ends so they can fit through old faithful Yarnie.

Those of you who know me already know which option(s) I'll choose. Lol.

Rant Over (although I'm still pretty upset).

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Likkle More

So it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post - and I do apologise but I've gone back to work (after a year of maternity leave) and I've been caught up in the whole hustle and bustle associated with working in the city *sigh*.

I have quite a few more hair stories to be published - so don't despair - there are plenty more stories of inspiration and triumph to come. In the meantime, I have found Gigglz' interviews on Sisterlocked Newbies quite interesting. Click here for a read...

Christmas is approaching and even if you don't celebrate the religious aspects, December is always a nice time of the year to show your love and appreciation of friends and family... SO - I will be posting my reviews of a couple of British products I've been trialling.

All of these products were developed by Female Entrepreneurs, and at least two of these are Black businesswomen - just in case you wanted to support 'local' talent.

Anyway, stay tuned - be with you in a likkle more. Promise.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Braid Out

First day back at work...
How to: After washing, I made several box braids (dunno how many because I didn't count them - but more than 8 for sure) and dried my hair. Loosened the braids in the morning and bounced out the house. The end.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Straight Hair??

I have now been on this Sisterlocks journey for over 6 months - yes, I know I owe you some pictures but you know how 'helpful' the husband is at taking pics of my hair, and I haven't yet figured out what I've done with my own camera so bear with me... please.

Six months in and looking at other ladies' blogs, I can see their hair thickening up and changing; so I thought I'd give an update on what is happening with my own hair.

Apart from sprouting new baby sized locks (the stubbies) at my temples, I have lots and lots of straight hair: locks where the ends are just straight.

What's up with that? LOL, You'd think I'd been at them with a flat tong or something (and I haven't!)

Some of my locs-in-waiting have 'knots' or lumps about halfway down them, above the lump (towards the scalp side) the SL pattern is intact - if a little loose. From the lump to the ends, it's variable: some locs are open and curly, some are open and straight and some (the goody two-shoes ones) have retained their pttern as well. Good babies :)

Then there are these weirdos.  LOL.

With the front of my hair restored, I've tried using my soft curlers again. However, I've noticed that my hair has not held the curl  AT ALL.
Not a smidgeon.
Not even after being left in overnight.
It actually just came out looking straight(er than before)!!!

And no, I didn't use any product.  Funnily enough, if I braid my hair overnight it holds the crimp, a crimpy curl too if I tucked the ends under!  Go figure...

So basically, at 6 months my hair is

  • still full of skinny little locs, although with the unravelled ends (like sprig), my hair looks fuller and bounces (which is cool).
  • peppered through with lots of straight ends. A mystery I tell you.
  • growing; I can see visible changes in my length and the sparse (bald) areas at my temples have given birth to 9 newbies.
  • feeling different i.e. harder and drier (as opposed to feeling soft and springy almost like my double strand twists used to feel like).
  • not locked up .. yet. (In fact, at the back it looks a bit matty! Oh no!)

Sister Did I Fail You?

Today I was in Central London with my son. Having visited his Asthma Consultant, I decided to take a detour through the department stores on Oxford Street to have a good nosey at the luxury cosmetics and makeup brands on offer.

It was interesting to watch the marketing in play, each counter positioned just so, the most expensive items on prominent display, colourful signs tantalising you with 'Special Offers'.

I like to hover at the counters just long enough to get a feel for what colours are popular and what the latest trends might be --- but not too long that I become a target for the eager Sales Assistant!

While doing my 'hover' at the Bobbi Brown counter, I noticed a 'sista' on the other side of the booth, having her 'makeover'. She was dark skinned and her Consultant was much lighter, so I was curious to see how this transformation would turn out, what colours they would use to complement her natural skin tones and so on.

While ignoring the approaching Saleswoman, I realised the sista had seen me watching her and was trying to catch my eye; I turned my head to acknowledge her and she mouthed over the way: "How does it look?


I punked out.

With the Saleswoman AND her Consultant both looking at me (staring me down I should add), I just didn't have the balls to be honest. Instead, I nodded my head and smiled :"it's nice".... but I felt like such a liar and I am sure she could tell I was being disingenuous, probably because my nose was now about a foot from my face!

All the time I'd been watching her being 'done'; I had been wondering what exactly the Consultant was doing?

Was it just her eyes? Her lips? Foundation and cheeks?

Having the sista turn to face me and ask me for my opinion did not help answer this question... I was getting that uncomfortable prickly feeling, being put on the spot like that, and still I was racking my brain:
"What have they done to her?"

This sista was pregnant; maybe she had the dreaded pregnancy mask but she did not have an even tone to the complexion on her face. Imagine you drew a circle around your T-zone, well, unfortunately, this area of her face was several shades lighter than the rest... I was trying to figure out whether this was a result of the makeup or whether it was genetic (or even the result of pregnancy or bleaching). I would have thought that if this was a naturally occurring phenomenon, the make-up artist would have tried to use a concealer to even out this young woman's complexion...  but no... so then I had to wonder whether she'd had her eyes done but to be honest I couldn't see anything. I couldn't even see blusher on her cheeks... so it had to be foundation right? Otherwise what on earth had that Consultant been doing for so long?

The sista lumbered away without buying any products, secretly I was happy for her but my eyes followed her through the store. Part of me wanted to run after her and explain, the other part of me was aware that the Booth Staff were still watching me... man, I punked out.

I should have run after her and told her to check her reflection in her compact outside the dept, where the lighting would be natural and MUCH BETTER; so she could gauge the outcome accordingly. I should have told her that I couldn't actually see what she'd had done from where I was standing - which may have been a good thing ie the makeup could have been very sheer, thus avoiding that 'caked on' look. I should have suggested another brand which specialised in darker complexions and with which she may have had more success. I should have wished her all the best for her child's imminent delivery. I should have reassured her that she was beautiful without the makeup anyway, but I didn't do any of these things. I just watched her walk away.

I feel like I failed her.

So here are a few tips to those of you I CAN shout to:
  • Never choose a foundation colour based on how it looks INSIDE the store; go outside into natural light, you'll have a much better idea.
  • Never colour match foundation on the back of your hand, apply to your lower cheek or jawline and blend. If it disappears it's a keeper. If it's too light you will look ashen; if it's too dark, too red or too yellow - it'll be obvious. Trust your instincts no matter how good the sales assistant/makeup consultant says you look!(Or lily-livered passers-by like myself for that matter!)
  • Liquid foundation is light and easiest to work with; however, coverage results may vary, therefore - choose the TYPE of foundation that is best for you (powder, cream, liquid etc).
  • Some skins are virtually flawless and those women can get away with a light dusting of powder or bronzer for a matte or sun kissed look; women with dark circles or acne scarring etc usually need heavier coverage but 'heavier' in this instance does not mean CAKED ON. It just means you may need a liquid or cream foundation instead of just powder.(Note, some cream foundations are too oily for dark skins and can make them appear SHINY!)
Ultimately, you wanna look like this: (give or take the eye and lip makeup depending on how you do)

as opposed to looking like this:

Foundation Facts from Various Internet Resources

Foundation helps to color the skin evenly and hide the imperfections of the skin such as scars, light and dark colored areas.
There are different types of make up foundations like emulsions, creams, liquids, cakes, powders, waterproof and spray foundation.
Emulsions! Emulsions are packed in tubes and are used for variety of skin types. This type of make up foundation gives less sheen than cream or liquid foundation. This foundation covers the blemishes also.
Creams! Cream foundations are suitable for dry skin as they contain high proportion of oils and are creamy. Cream foundations provide heavy coverage but give a glossy finish. These have more moisturizing properties.
Liquids! Liquid foundations are easy to use and are packaged in bottles. These are available in oil based and water based formulas. These are formulated for all skin types. They cover the skin smoothly with a light sheen and can be best suited to cover blemishes and scars.
Cakes or sticks! These are solid in form and have greater drying effect. Due to drying effect, it is suited for oily skin. With dense matt cover, these are good for covering scars and blemishes.  Cakes or stick foundations are popular for photographic and stage work but are too heavy for everyday use.
Powders! The powder foundation control shine and provide oil-blotting. Compact powders are heavily formulated as they contain a certain amount of foundation. Powders are used during the day for touching up and help to reinforce coverage.
Waterproof make up foundation! Sometimes foundation does not last long. This is possible especially in summer due to humidity and higher temperatures.  During this weather, waterproof make up foundation is of great help to your skin. These are water resistant and make your skin look glamorous in spite of sweating conditions.
Spray foundation! Spray foundation is preferred for acne scarring and post surgical skin. It is used to retain the make up for long hours. Spray them at any time over your make up to refresh. These come in different shades for different skin tones.

Stay beautiful til next post :)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My Thoughts on... Rihanna's Interview

By now you will have seen my post on the CB Interview; and here is footage from the R interview.

As previously mentioned, one of the bones of contention with me regarding this issue was the grassroots/ low level implication that either she deserved what she got (a provoked attack) or that she should have shut up and too her licks (instead of 'snitching').

Excuse me, but don't I matter? Am I not worth anything? What is up with this 'snitching' business? If a man (or anyone for that matter) beats the crap out of me, I should drag myself home quietly, patch myself up and keep my mouth shut because if I tell someone or call the police - I am a snitch??? Fer real?

I can imagine and identify with the turmoil R must have felt in the aftermath, if I cooperate with the police or testify against him in court, people will accuse me of trying to ruin his career. I can imagine that being in the same industry, she would understand what a blow 'this sort of publicity' would have been to someone like him; but at the end of the day, that was not her responsibility to bear.  It was his choice to 'snap'/'lose control'/whatever and as such his responsibility to bear those consequences however detrimental to his career/public image.

Watching her speak, you can see at times she is still very 'annoyed' by the whole thing. It IS embarrassing, especially when you have some women laughing and saying "Well, if it were me, he could've never beat me like that" (implying R was weak or stupid or that something was wrong with her that CB would beat her but not them). Or what about men and women in the community who claim "A lil hand never hurt nobody", when clearly it did.

Historically, domestic abuse in our communities has been high, why this is I don't know. I'll leave that to people like the Mongoose Chronicles to postulate upon. However, frequency does not make it right.

Just as I can see that CB was a kid trying to find his way, I can see the same elements in R. They were young and growing together in a very public way. When things fell apart it also happened in a very public and humiliating way. I can't imagine having to deal with that.

R also fell into the trap many women fall into: after a random act of violence they return to their lover thinking (hoping) it was just that one time and it'll be all good from here on in. Unfortunately for many women, they don't get another chance at freedom; many lose their lives and it seems that only once they are dead to those around them think "oh well, maybe we should have listened or been more supportive, but I never thought he'd kill her..."

I am glad for both of them that R is still alive.

She mentioned that in their relationship they had both become dangerous for eachother because the relationship had started to border on 'obsession'. At least they (she?) can recognise that and hopefully avoid those signs in future.

Monday, 9 November 2009

My Thoughts on... Chris' MTV Interview

Embedded below is the video footage from Chris Brown's interview with MTV News (2/11/2009).

Throughout this past year (at least since Feb), I have drafted about 7 or 8 posts on 'Dating Violence' but have been unable to publish any of them, possibly because the issue is a little too close to home for me, but I've decided to 'face my past' and speak anyway.

For the record, my husband is not abusive and has never been.  This is something from my past and for  the time being, I am happy to let it stay there.

So, what are my thoughts on CB?

Well, his situation goes some way to dispelling the myth that all perpetrators of dating or domestic violence are twisted monsters you can spot a mile off. Not all perpetrators have a past history of abuse or violence. In a lab test, if a researcher had shown you pictures of CB's innocent boyish face, compared to that of a 'thuggish felon' who looked more like say, Lil Wayne or Busta Rhymes (no offence to these gentlemen) I bet you would probably have never pegged him as the one likely to hit his girlfriend. Beauty can cloud our perceptions.

Do I think that he was an inherently flawed predator just waiting for the right moment to 'take someone down'? No, I don't. I think what happened probably came as much as surprise to him as it did to his girlfriend, his mother, friends, family and fans. He snapped. Why? We'll never know because he's not telling - and that is his right, after all, he is having to live through something that most people would handle privately in a very public way.

For the record, he has never once accused R of hitting him first - or at all. As for the 'shoving against the wall' incident reported in his probation report; in his Larry King interview he claimed not to know what that was about; and in R's interview, she clarifies "He shoved ME against the wall" not the other way around. The only reason I am mentioning this is because I am sick and tired of listening to people (especially young people and fans) claiming (indeed stating as fact) that she must have hit him first.  CB has never stated that, not even in his guilty plea (in which case he could have used it as a mitigating factor in his defence).

It really does my head in that this 'provocation argument' could be seen as a valid justification for the beating he gave his partner that night. I am not excusing violence, but I am aware of how heated arguments can get, between young friends of the same sex, let alone between partners!

I can imagine that if sufficiently enraged, a woman (or man) might slap her partner in the face; or thump their friend in the arm or chest. It's not hard to imagine that the recipient of that blow might retaliate with a slap or thump of their own. Let's call that 'even'. What I don't get is how you can excuse moving from this 'even stevens' place, to an all out wrestling match or brawl; where one of you is throwing more punches than the other, to the physical detriment of that other. That is not justified, instead it indicates a loss of (self-) control on the part of the attacker, who has clearly passed the point of logic and reason.

I cringe at the cultural norms that exist within our communities that imply that domestic abuse is the fault of the woman, that date rape is the fault of the woman; or that in either case "she must have done something to deserve it". When are we going to leave that backward thinking behind and move into a period of sustained positivity and support so that women who are being abused (physically or emotionally) do not feel they have to hide away in shame, too afraid to ask for help for fear of ridicule or recrimination.

I think that CB's latest interview paints him in a much more positive light than the debacle that was the Larry King show. He appears genuine, genuinely contrite and genuinely interested in moving forward in a positive light. His affection for R is evident, for example, when asked how he felt about her, a genuine smile broke over his face. I can imagine that it must have been hard for him to accept the loss of someone he loved over (what he calls) a mistake. I have no doubt that he is sorry about what happened. He appears to be responding well to his 'therapy', so my hope is that he is grown enough within himself to ensure that this never happens again.

He emphasises that domestic abuse/dating violence is 'never Ok'; he doesn't blame anyone but himself (none of that "I saw my stepdaddy do it, so it was natural that I'd eventually do it); he reiterates his regret over what happened and what it has cost him and offers advice to others.

He is a young man (or rather a big kid) but he is learning and growing and you can't fault him for that. I would sincerely hope that his own fans learn from his example - CB doesn't malign R's character or attempt to throw mud her way at all, as I said, his affection for her is clear: a pity some of his fans can't adopt the same attitude and respect her because he does instead of badmouthing her every chance they get.

The interview is definitely worth watching. (Beware the comments on YouTube as some are very offensive).

What are your thoughts?

Friday, 6 November 2009

My Thoughts on... The Loc Soc by Shades of Colour

Image copyright All rights reserved.

So, while I try to remember what I've done with my camera so I can post my '6 months' comparison photos, I thought I'd do another review.

I'm still combining DIY and 'Salon visits' on account of the fragile areas around my hairline.I went to my Consultant (Carol) this week, and despite having retightened my hair myself on October 3rd, this was my longest session to date. It would appear as though i've had a growth spurt because it took almost 4 hours to interlock 4 weeks of new growth - come again? When I was seeing Michelle, it would take around 3 hours to do 8 weeks of growth... so clearly this spurt is not in my mind...

Anyway, I happened across a rack of loc socs at Carol's place on Monday; a funny looking thing like a cardboard monster with loads of tongues (socks) hanging out. At least that's what it looked like to me (but I've been feeling weird lately)...

I'd heard of lock socks before, and had always thought about getting one, but I've never seen any on my regular travels - at least not before now :)  So I picked a colour and paid the charge and off I went.

image copyright All rights reserved.

Although there were quite a few solid coloured and patterned socs to choose from, I stuck with BLACK, because I figured I'd get more wear out of it.  This gives me the option of being able to wear it out of the house as well as sleeping in it (but obviously not on the same day!)

The soc is made by Shades Of Colour (wesbite listed below) and consists of one elasticated and one free formed end. It is of course, cylindrical in shape.   Not just useful for keeping fluff and stuff outta your hair or keeping your hair neat while you sleep; it can also be twisted and folded in and around your locs to create attractive hairstyles (hence why you can wear it out of the house!).

The Rundown

  • Website:
  • Cost (in UK) : £10.00 (which is about $6 more than the $12 US price on their website!  However, they don't ship internationally, so maybe the p&p and handling charges account for this markup.)
  • Size: 21 by 51 inches (although longer sizes are available)
  • Fabric: Lycra (not satin or silk but at least it's not cotton).

The Lowdown
Their website lists 10 reasons to use a Loc Soc, I shall respond to each one.

  1. Protects Your Hair From Dust and Lint
    --Yup, fits snugly so my hair is well protected whether in bed, in the shower or while vacuuming under my daughter's bed!
  2. Makes a Fashion Statement
    --Yup, once you figure out how to wrap it in  a way that is most complimentary for you! This statement is also true if you buy one of the funkier patterns.
  3. Protects Your Hair From the Elements
    -- Well this is the same as number 1 if you ask me; however, I should point out that it is not waterproof and therefore doesn't protect from ALL the elements. It's not fire proof either ... so really this statement should read 'protects from wind and dirt' i.e. just two of the elements.
  4. Comfort and Protection While Sleeping
    --Absolutely! Sooooooooooo comfy and didn't 'ride off' either!
  5. Stylish Colors and Prints
    --Yup, but I still bought the black one hahah.
  6. Perfect for those “Bad Hair Days”
    -- What 'Bad Hair Days'? I have Sisterlocks (*guffaws at myself*); but I suppose, if for some strange reason, you and and your natural or locked hair were having some weird bad hair day - this would be great for wrapping it up! (This would work for relaxed hair as well of course).
  7. Helps Control Perspiration
    --eh???? I didn't get this one. If they mean you will sweat less because your hair won't be all in your neck making you hot, then OK... otherwise??? nope, I don't get it.
  8. Helps To Train Your Locks To Go In One Direction
    --- Maybe... if you want the locks along the hairline at the back to stick up... but I suppose, if you didn't tuck your lucks under like that and let them lie flat against your neck (which might make you hot I should add, totally destroying the statement at number 7) then all your locks would theoretically lie flat away from your forehead (unless you parted them in the middle).
  9. Accessorize Your Clothing
    --Yup, see comments at points 2 and 5.
  10. It makes sense!!!!!!!!
    --- If you say so. I'd rather you gave me a more solid reason for number 10, because this one is too subjective.
So there you have it, a mini-review. Be warned that if you have a young baby, he will look at you funny for a long time when you first approach him wearing the lock sock... he may also try to snatch it off your head so he can play with (pull out) your hair as normal. Take it from me.

Fellow SL Blogger 'SpicyLocks' has reviewed other loc socks and has quite a few cute pics to go with it! See for yourself...

I liked it, but that doesn't mean there aren't better brands out there or cheaper alternatives. I just came across this one and for now it's my new best friend. Something else for my husband to moan about - something along the lines of  "Why y'all women gotta wear hats in bed?". Ah the price of beauty.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A Night Out!

Here are some random pics from a 'reunion' I went to. These are my Uni friends - all female yes, but so what? Lol.

Ok, I'm lying - the pics are mostly opportunities to show off my hair - but that's what most of the readers want to see innit? Sisterlocks in action :)

So here are a couple of pictures with me, my sisterlocks and my University mates enjoying a knees up at a city bar. Can't believe graduation was 7 years ago!  Hair had been freshly washed and retightened (DIY), I didn't have time to curl it or anything else, so it was just a simple freestyle.

You can see my newbie (shortie) locks at the front in this one... including 'Stubby' which is trying to grow where Floatie used to be.

My Thoughts on ...."This Is It".

Image: © 2009 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Today I watched 'This is it' - the documentary tracking Michael Jackson's rehearsals in preparation for his upcoming London concerts, scheduled to begin in July 2009.

I've chosen to speak about this today, because I was moved to do so. Whatever you think about him as a man/human being - his musical genius demands respect.

He comes across as a natural genius, someone whose entire essence is part and parcel of his craft, his music. Unlike many of our recording artists today, Michael wrote 99.9% of his music (lyrics, melodies and music) - he knew each piece like the palm of his hand. He was able to instruct his accompanying musicians on exactly HOW he wanted a piece played, and yet at the same time, he wasn't so much about HIMSELF that he neglected to encourage and even nurture the talents of some of his musicians. He told one guitarist, "This is your time to shine, don't be scared, we'll all be here with you, but this is your time to shine, so take it."

Compare this to a popular female artiste whose concert I attended earlier in the summer, her supporting artists were not allowed the full use of the stage nor the huge projector screens to the rear of the stage. They had no specialist lighting and for the most part could not even be seen/identified due to the fact that their images were not relayed to the huge video screens around the venue. (These were only switched on when the main attraction hit the stage!) . Well ok, maybe the female artiste didn't want her supporting acts to steal her shine, but I honestly don't see how letting them have a lil screen time would've done this, since the main artiste's talents were clearly more refined and definitely better known than the other ladies. She - like Michael - had an opportunity to nurture someone else's talents but chose not to (or maybe she thought allowing them to share her platform was sufficient).

Back to the movie. Watching it made me smile, and at times laugh, but mostly I sat in reverent silence, reflecting on both the highs and the lows that troubled this genius.

Make no doubt about it - the man lived a troubled life. The recent revelations (accusations??) about his alleged substance abuse, his continuous pain, his addictions - the accusations of paedophilia that he never quite managed to shake... falling album sales, media attacks, financial troubles... you name it, he went through it. And yet, on stage, he put on a smiling face and became someone else, something else.

I admire that ability - to leave all your pain and troubles at the door and dance, sing, perform for those who loved you regardless of what everyone else thinks, reluctant to let them (your friends, family and fans) down - so you push yourself harder (possibly to your own detriment, it's unsettling to think that all the while he was dancing and smiling he could have been in incredible agony!)...

Ever a perfectionist, he demanded nothing less from those he worked with. Anyone who had a ticket to one of his shows would have been thoroughly entertained. The dancers, musicians, technicians were all some of the best in the world. It would truly have been a spectacle.

I feel sad and sorry for those incredibly talented dancers and musicians, who will never get to shine the way they would have at a 'Michael Jackson concert'.

How many 'big breaks', hopes and dreams shattered when that ambulance wheeled him away... I feel a sense of loss for them. They were all so excited, what happens to them now? I'm sure many will continue to be successful but I don't think it's the same. I do wish them the best though.

At 50,  this man was still creating, choreographing, demanding, challenging, rising to the occasion. That inspires me. He'd had  break from performing (like Whitney) and yet, when you hear him sing, it is unmistakably the voice of Michael Jackson: the SAME voice, he could have been 20 or 30 yrs old, he sounded the same. He sounded good. I love Whitney and how she has fought to overcome her own troubles but honestly, the sound of her voice is not the same (or maybe she was slightly hoarse when she went into the recording studio). She's still Whitney - just different. Michael was still Michael.

So often (and for so many years in this case), the media reported the negative aspects of his life; his bizarre antics, the accusations, the weirdness... we started to forget how much charitable good he did, we forgot about his work as a philanthropist, we forgot his music, we forgot him and saw him only as the troubled 'Wacko Jacko'. It was hard enough for me to deal with losing my hair to alopecia areata for almost 2 yrs, how would I have coped had my skin started changing colour too? I dunno...  it's just amazing how the 'Message' - totally good and philanthropic - can get missed amidst all the hype. Integrity of character is important.

Anyway, I'm not here to debate whether he had vitiligo or bleached his skin, or whether he was insane or genius, whether he had a thing for lil boys or whether he was a lil boy himself.  I just wanted to acknowledge that we lost a really talented guy.


ps for those of you interested in his charitable work, click here.  The list includes his work with underprivileged children and children affected by disasters, visits to hospitals, and work with organizations such as the Jane Goodall Institute, the TJ Martell Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children, the Prince’s Trust, the Great Ormond Street HospitalChildhelp USARonald McDonald House CharitiesMake-A-Wish FoundationBoys’ and Girls’ Clubs of AmericaChildren’s Defense Fund, Elizabeth Taylor’s AIDS Foundation and many more. It also details Jackson’s efforts to airlift 60,000 doses of children’s vaccines to Tblisi, Georgia, and his donations to hundreds of charities.


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