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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Part 1 of 3 Special Feature: Getting to Know Ebony G. Patterson

Who is Ebony G. Patterson?
She is a Jamaican born contemporary fine artist, who currently works in Lexington Kentucky as an Assistant Painting Professor at the University of Kentucky. When Patterson, affectionately called “Bonnie” or “Bonny”, is not working in Kentucky, she is at her home in Kingston delving in her Jamaican culture.

Constantly seeking new ways to improve her craft, the internationally acclaimed artist challenges her thoughts and eventually the ideas of others with her portrayal of Jamaican dancehall; that of its fashion, dance, and its cultural impact on the Jamaican sub-groups directly affiliate to the genre of music.

Brief History:
Patterson graduated from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts with an Honours Diploma in Painting, after which she attended Sam Fox College of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, receiving her Masters of Fine Arts in Printmaking and Drawing.  Her most recent project was in Port of Spain Trinidad during her two week artists-in-residency which ended on Wednessday July 27, 2011. Her work in progress which was both and installation and performance, was sponsored by Alice Yard as a part of their new segment called ACT 5 in commemoration of their five years of being recognized as a creative space.  Patterson is the first Caribbean artist invited to partake in this creative engagement. 

Patterson’s exhibition titled “9 of 219” included nine ornately designed coffins representing the nine lives lost to crime in the area during her short stay.  It opened on Monday July 25 and took the form of a funeral procession, which the public was invited to partake in, and ended as an installation where the coffins were symbolically laid in a space designated by Alice Yard.
Photo:  Asraph
Patterson at the ad hoc burial ground of her bling funeral for her "9 of 129" project
Patterson’s self-titled “bling funeral,” is partly inspired by the flamboyance of Jamaican dancehall culture. She holds a strong spiritual connection to the thought provoking presentation, seeing her country as having a direct resemblance to Trinidad with its troubled crime rate. The ideas can also be attributed to the sometimes colourful approach that some of our Jamaican dancehall artist tend to bury their dead.  

Having been exposed to Patterson's more lighthearted side, I decided to get more personal with the artist and asked her to share five things about herself that the general public would not know. 


1.       She took Ballet lessons for about eight years of her childhood

2.   One summer of high school she worked for a short period of time in the kitchen of Mother’s located in Half Way Tree. She lasted for about a week.

3.      She did her first drawing at three and it was a cockroach

4.      She can hold a note or two. Actually, when she sings she sounds like a cross between a Billie Holiday and a Jill Scott, i.e., old school sultry. 

5.      She's a shoe-aholic. Name the coolest funky kicks and foot wear and Patterson probably owns a pair.

Couldn't find the drawing with the cockroach, but here's a Valentine's Day card Patterson made for her mom around the same age. 

Below is a painting she did at eight years old: 'Untitled'

What do you think? Think she had the knack for being an artist??

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of 2 of my exclusive feature on Ebony G. Patterson. Visit me next week Monday (August 8) after I, you, and we celebrate Jamaica's Independence for Part 2 to learn more about the artist. I will also be sharing more of her locally and internationally recognized, "more adult", peices.

Monday, July 11, 2011



To publish traditionally or self-publish will be a growing concern for those developing authors out there. If you haven't published your work yet, and like me, you are at the crossroads, this post that I've written may widen your perspective a bit and give you a few things to consider before you make that important move.

MONDAY, JULY 11, 2011

Guest Post: To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish?

Apologies for not getting a round-up to you last week, mes auteurs. However! You've now got a full week of guest posts to look forward to, starting with this one by Chevonese Fender. Sit back, relax, and enjoy! — E

"Self-publishing used to have a real stigma attached to it. To be self-published meant your work was SO BAD that not one publisher would take you seriously. But that’s just not true anymore. Readers just want a great book to read." — Kaia Van Zandt, from Alan Rinzler’s post, "Advice for Amanda Hocking from authors and agents"

It is true that I, too, fell victim to this stigma. When I spent some time in New York, I would always see street vendors alongside 34th Street hustling to sell books that I would never take one second to peruse, let alone purchase. The approach is a turn off and the quality of the books, i.e. the print and cover quality, are a no-no in my standards.

Two years ago I was on the 2 train to the Bronx and noticed a Caucasian girl reading an urban novel, which I decided must have been self-published based on the distasteful cover and book quality. I was not surprised when I got a glimpse of the content and how less than classy it was. That was my impression of self-publishing. So when my friends and family have the gall to suggest the idea, I literally cringe and regard them with utmost disdain. Me, self-publish? Oh heck no! The goal is to be seen and known as a respected author, not the other way around.

I always agreed with Van Zandt's description of how self-publishing used to be [1]: that to self-publish meant my work was not good enough for a literary agent or publisher to give it the time of day. So, for a while I continued with my upturned nose, bent on having representation. It was not until I realized how the self-publishing industry had transformed and how beneficial it had proven to be for countless struggling and aggravated authors that I began seeing self-publishing for what it was.

Granted, there are those self-published authors who, out of anticipation, eagerly publish their work without serious editing and consulting. These authors partly contribute to the negative connotation that self-publishing carries. But it seems as if the tables have been drastically turning. Now, self-publishing appears to be the second best approach, if not the first, for getting your unpublished work out there.

So with two stories completed—one short story and one full length novel with its sequel on the way—would self-publishing be my best bet? Well, I would no longer have to hopelessly wait, after submitting my query letters for representation, for months to know if I’ve been given a "yes" or "no." I would no longer be limited to sharing my stories with my ten friends and family members and accept their praises as mission accomplished. And most importantly, no longer would I have to WAIT!

So many tools, websites, and literary agent blogs offer advice and tips, weighing the pros and cons of publishing on your own or taking the traditional route. It doesn’t hurt becoming your own agent, marketing and representing your own product, and reaping total benefits from book sales, as opposed to splitting it three ways if you were represented by an agent who found you a publisher. Most importantly, you are in full control of your content! Sounds like hard work and it most certainly is.

Is there respect for self-published authors today? Absolutely! Exhibit A: Amanda Hocking, after being told "no" numerous times, went on an ambitious whim and published on her own, only to find that her audience did exist and that her work is now worth a two million dollar contract with St. Martin’s Press. The publishers simply got on the bandwagon because they saw that there was money to be made; a foundation that was already set had been set through self-publishing. Even traditionally published authors like thriller and suspense writers Stephen King and Barry Eisler have self-published. Eisler [2]consciously opted out of a major contract simply because he wanted full control of his work and his money. Certainly these authors have an upper hand, as they have years of experience with the market—but the fact is, self-publishing is becoming more appealing than it was five or six years ago. Now, many services offer print-on-demand, which cuts out unnecessary printing costs.

We Jamaicans have a saying: "Puss and dog don’t have the same luck," which simply means that one man’s success story may not be the same for another. There are a lot of factors to consider if you desire the same success story as Hocking. The genre, writing style, content, target audience, cover images, and marketing and promotional strategies are all vital things to consider. But who’s to say how successful you will be unless you actually try it? In my book, not trying is failing.

Based on the numerous dialogues that I’ve come across, I’ve deduced one main thing: go off your gut instincts and your pocket. So should you venture beyond the traditional and daringly choose self-publishing? I’m certainly not against taking the bull by the horns, and there are many reputable authors, agents and editors who aren’t either. However, at the end of the day a decision has to be made.

Here’s what I advise: create your checklists of short term and long term goals for your books and your literary career; weigh your options, do your research, understand the benefits and pitfalls of choosing either publishing option; and be patient.

So, you tell me. Where do you stand?

Chevonese Fender is from Jamaica. She modeled for five years, the latter part spent working in New York. She was represented last by Boss Models in New York, and a little over a year and half ago she made a life-changing decision to actually put her God-given skill to use and write. She writes edgy, inspirational romance and has not yet been published, but her first novel is recently completed and she finds herself at the crossroads, so to speak: publishing traditionally or just say, the heck with it—publish the darn thing yourself!



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Two-time World Record Holder, Usain Bolt, Makes Another One

The World’s Fastest Man has a new franchise.  Have you heard of it?

In collaboration with Kingston Live Entertainment Ltd, Usain Bolt has a new dining and sports lounge located in Marketplace, Kingston, called Tracks and Records.  I suppose the title is most fitting for the sporting magnifico who has expressed some interest in music and entertainment.

I, and a couple of friends, visited the new franchise early last month and were amazed to learn that the spot had been open since two months prior! That night wasn’t necessarily one of Kingston’s most sociable nights, seeing that it was a Wednesday, but for some reason the place was packed.  My friends and I were in the slightly crowded lobby for a good seven minutes before we were acknowledged by the hostess.

In the mean time, I quietly admired the bright green walls overlade with small and large vinyl records and the flashy miniature race timer with Bolt’s proudly proclaimed world record times. I zoned out from the décor and into my friends’ conversation with the hostess and my senses were heightened by the final words that actually expelled from the chica’s mouth.
A section of the lobby
You see, for the entire time of the conversation while my friends queried the availability of a table for three, the “lovely” hostess was busy punching whatever it was on her screen at the reception desk.  So there was barely any eye contact, as she advised us to either sit by the bar, wait for a table, and she raised her head this time and pointedly added, “...or you can leave.” 

You know, if this were a movie, this would be the point where the record is scratched, suddenly pausing the music while a few mouths drop open in stupor. Of course, quite taken by the last barefaced statement, we looked amongst ourselves, internally agreeing to leave seeing that we’ve been getting the bad vibe since we actually set foot through the doors. Anyone who doesn’t want our money isn’t worth spending with...right? Nevertheless, we were hungry and curious and truly wanted to check the spot out. So we overlooked the crude statement and were escorted to the extended version of the bar.

In minutes we were addressed by a server, who handed us our menus; and there laid another problem. The menus, which took the shape and look of large vinyl records, are so big that we fought for space at the counter top to flip through the pages. To be frank, one menu could have served for all three of us. 

While we waited, we keenly dissected the buzzing scene.  Dissected, because I was accompanied by two fine artists and it was natural for them to go in depth with the execution of the décor.  As I gathered the interpretations of my gracious friends, I gathered my own.

From the buoyancy of the colours to the intermeshing of wood, metal, marble, zinc, soft to hard furnishings, forward technology and old fashion fixtures, there appears to be an intentional fusion of Jamaica’s rural and urban vibe, with an edgy European influence. I’m still undecided on whether the execution works, but undoubtedly it is novel and does scream for your attention.

The Décor
At first the décor appears confusing with this almost uncomplimentary blend of polished and rough impressions.  Smooth marble counters at the bar are surrounded by zinc walls. Modish green-cushioned booths are countered by small board-game table tops fashioned with sleek chairs, similar to those by the bar.  By the aisle of these tables are your every day Jamaican wooden light posts with an unexpected combination of flat screen TVs and board advertisements fastened to them.  With flat screen panels just about everywhere, including the bathrooms, a grandiose projector screen—generally carrying sports programmes—top things off.  Additionally there are four booths that have a touch screen table for ordering your food and apparently you can change the stations of the flat panel TVs that hang by those walls. The bathroom has a fresh ambience and where there is a flat screen TV, there is also a trough, supported by cinder blocks for washing your hands.

This theme resonates through the rest of the building, except for the mezzanine, also labelled the Digicel Sky Box, which mostly carries more refined furnishings. So now that I’m over the design and get the drift, it’s time to focus on the food.

The refinement of the building had our pockets on edge, so we were quite nervous about what to order. Thankfully the prices are listed in the menus to avoid the surprise bill, outside of taxes and gratuity. After much contemplation, my friends settled for the Pan Chicken and ‘Flitters’—Yes, I said flitters, not fritters—and I, the Jerk Chicken Quesadilla and a bowl of fries.

We were finally seated by one of the board-game tables when our food arrived and were duly surprised at the copious pan chicken dish, along with the flitters, which were flavoursome and essentially filling. While I wasn’t impressed with the fries, I couldn’t get enough of the quesadilla slices.  The night was finished off with a confection of chocolate decadence.

I’m particularly fund of this treat. Unlike other places with similar desserts, the brownie isn’t, at all, too sweet. My only complaint is the nuts that adorned the cream. Not really a fan of dried macadamia nuts.
Not a pretty sight...What's left of the quesadilla and pan 
chicken from our first night. We were too hungry to take 
before pics

So, with the cheeky hostess in the back of our minds, we enjoyed our evening so much that a few weeks later we returned. This time we were greeted by another, much friendlier, hostess and were taken to our booth on the mezzanine.

Here’s an important note: If you intend on getting your stomach’s worth at an affordable price, you best head there before the kitchen closes at ten. After that they only serve entrées or appetizers; and though they are delectable, they aren’t as filling and you might find yourself spending more than you should had you ordered a full meal. And another thing—for those of you who happen not to walk with Jamaican dollars, don’t you worry your pretty little calculators about conversions, because your bill will take care of that for you; but only in UK, US and Canadian dollars.

Overall, Tracks and Records is a hit and a wise investment. The food is moderately affordable, the ambience is fascinating and cosy and outside of a few blunders, the service is fairly commendable. So if you haven’t yet graced the restaurant with your stomachs and pockets, I encourage you to do so.

More on décor
From left: The lounge and bar; booth with touch screen table
From left: Board-game tables, speakers by touch screen table; wooden posts with flat screen and board advertisements
From left: Upper level at mezzanine; bar and lounge with grand projector screen
Women's bathroom--trough with cinder blocks

More on food...yummm

From top: Bungle of Fries; Jerk Chicken Spring Roll (This comes with eight, but one fell victim to our stomachs *_*
From left: Flitters; Tracks & Records sauces; tasty Spiced Beef Sliders

If you've already visited Tracks and Records, what’s your take on the decor and food?  How was your overall experience?  Would you recommend this venue to a friend?