Vodou Jazz in The Town Hall

I had never been inside The Town Hall before, not until today, September 22, 1989. I was impressed by its monumental aura. Maybe not as grand and elegant as Carnegie Hall, but arguably more noble in purpose than all the world’s highbrow houses put together. The League for Political Education, a suffragette group, created The Town Hall in 1921 as a space to educate the people. Its architecture—no box seats, no obstructed views—displayed democratic values. As I crossed the balcony listening to Makandal’s soundcheck from a variety of sonic perspectives, I felt both proud and humbled that our Frisner, up from one of the world’s most oppressed communities, would play here tonight.

Continue reading “Vodou Jazz in The Town Hall”

Winin’ and Grindin’ and a Lot of Gouyad

(This post revises a story from “Tales from the Archive,” a series on makandal.org. Posted on 9 September 2015, it captured a slice of West Indian Carnival on Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, 3 September 1990.)

Carnival was probably the farthest thing from the minds of Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux when they designed the world’s first parkway: Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. At work at the same time (circa 1866) on Prospect Park, they hoped to connect the Park with green spaces on the eastern end of Crown Heights, an expanse topping the site of a glacial moraine from the last ice age. The West Indian Day Parade, established in Manhattan’s Harlem in 1947 by Trinidadians who settled there, relocated to the Crown Heights stretch of Eastern Parkway in 1969. In 1990 Trinidadians still managed the parade, but it was open without permit to anyone who wanted to jump into the melee. Really! What would Olmstead and Vaux have thought of connecting those green spaces with singing steel pans, a kaleidoscope of dancing butterflies and Indians, and unabashed soca winin’? To which Makandal would add its Haitian gouyad

Continue reading “Winin’ and Grindin’ and a Lot of Gouyad”