Jamaican For a Week
I once referenced this scene on an old blog, but one of my more vivid childhood memories is of an argument my late father had with the father of the Jamaican family next door.
The neighbours had just moved to Canada from J.A., bringing with them a distinct culture, some furniture… and a few thousand cockroaches, which stowed away in the family’s gear and quickly penetrated the wall separating our townhouse from theirs.
My parents wound up calling the exterminator but we couldn’t really stem the cockroach invasion without help from Willie and his family.
But strangely, they didn’t seem too uncomfortable with roaches.
Willie even said as much when my pops went next door to confront him.
Pops: You need to do somethin bout these roaches, Willie. I’m tireda this mess!
WIllie: Easy nuh’mahn. Roo-chez hev’reh-weer bahk hoom. Dem like flies in Jamaica.
Pops: N*gga, this ain’t no GOT DAM Jamaica!
Understand, I have nothing but love for Jamaica. Never been there, but clearly the place as a lot going for it.
Like Red Stripe.
And Lover’s Rock.
Still, when you grow up black in Canada you start to resent the assumption — made by black and white people alike — that either you’re from Jamaica or your parents are.
Some of my best friends are Jamaican, but I’m not and never have been.
But I felt like one last week when, in a time-honoured Yardie tradition, I held down more than one full-time job.
Each morning I spent three hours with the crew at “The Morning Jones,” and from there I hiked over to Yonge and Queen’s Quay to put in a full day at my regular gig as a sports reporter at the Toronto Star.
It’s not my normal life by any stretch.
Personal biases aside “The Morning Jones” is the best sports talk show going, and most mornings it makes me late for work because instead of starting my commute I’m listening online as Bomani Jones and the crew (Corey Erdman, Sacha Kargl et al) make me laugh…or think… or both.
But with Bo in L.A. last week helping out ESPN’s Jim Rome, I slid into the empty chair at TMJ and tried to keep the show informative and entertaining in his absence.
Among the topics covered this week:
NBA crybabies, NHL Thugs, Sports Marketing, Boxing, Shawarma, Snitching BYU Bishops, Cockfighting, Pigeons, Patois, the dangers of pickup basketball, they hypocrisy of the NCAA, the sex lives of gamecocks, filterless cigarettes in the boxing ring, Jesse Spano’s amphetamine overdose, Neneh Cherry, fishbowls full of beer, manscaping and much, much MUCH more.
If you measure success by not single-handedly destroying Bomani’s brand (or mine, for that matter), I think I succeeded.
Most weeks I hemorrhage twitter followers, but this week I actually gained 110.
Before accepting the week-long gig I received a stern reminder from my bosses at the Star not to embarrass the company on the air, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t.
Most importantly, I limited the number of people who tuned out of the show as a direct result of my presence on the air. Far as I can tell it was just one woman, furious with me for going in on the movie Precious.
Even though as far as I can tell Precious is just Glitter with a sadder ending and less attractive actors.
And even though precious might have done more damage to black people’s public perception than any film since Birth of a Nation.
And even though Precious herself is the most racially offensive character to appear in American entertainment since Akeem the African Dream waddled through the WWF.
But I digress.
Point here is, I tried to be a good steward to the Morning Jones brand Bomani has worked so hard to build, and genuinely felt accepted and supported by the community that has sprouted around the show.
Then to go from there to another full-time gig was exhilarating.
Like Marsha Ambrosius I saw plenty of late nights and early mornings, and by the end of the week I felt like one of the Hedleys.
My “two tings” probably wouldn’t have impressed Godfrey Hedley but get it straight — morning sports radio is hard work on its own.
It’s a hell of a lot of fun but don’t think for a second it’s easy to wake up early enough to hit the air at 7 after staying up late enough to digest the previous evening’s developments in the sports world.
Props to anybody who does it indefinitely.
And even bigger props to those — like the Morning Jones family — who do it well.
I’m just grateful to have been a part of it for a few days.
Now let me head back to the couch and catch up on a week’s worth of missed sleep.