Monday, April 29, 2013

My trip to London was quick that I...


almost had nothing to blog about.

April 27th 10:49am

This may be my shortest trip ever. I get to London and realize that the promoter and myself have not discussed working papers! So now I'm sitting in customs and they're trying to contact the promoter who isn't picking up the phone. 
And one of my major issues in life is that I don't like people who are in authority(police, security guards, lieutenants and the like). I don't like being told what to do, and I don't like when someone unnecessarily exercises their authority over me. I absolutely refuse to be talked to condescendingly. By anyone. Even if I'm in the wrong. 
Usually, state workers that work behind a window are nasty. 
This security agent that I'm dealing with right now isn't bad. But he keeps repeating himself. "Have you been to London before? Why didn't you ask about your permit?" If he ask that question one more time I may get arrested. 
Then there's this whiny, crying baby that's been crying ever since we left Newark. If I can just get 45 minutes of a full body, hot oil massage, with some Sonny Stitt playing softly in the background, this would all be easier to handle. 
But the officer I'm dealing with smells really really musty. I feel faint. It's as if his deodorant needs deodorant. 
It's only 11:15am. How can anyone get that musty so early in the day. 

11:20am

So.... The musty officer comes back to me to inform me that he has spoken with the promotor. The promotor was unaware that a permit was needed. The process to get a permit for me will take some time. I may be sitting here for some hours. 
Random thought, I think I may be guilty of racial profiling. 
I saw these brothers that were dressed in full Islamic looking clothing earlier in the Newark airport. They wore the long beards and the long white robe looking garments and I immediately thought "Are we going to get bombed?"
Am I a racist? Oh my God. 
Anyway, I suppose I'll sit here and rot to death. I do have my IPod with me. 

12:00pm

"MR. MILAN" the officer yells. Waking me up out of a beautiful sleep on the hard wooden bench. 
So now I'm a little embarrassed. Everyone in customs is now staring at me. As if I don't get enough stares being the only brother getting detained. 
They take me to get my bags and in for questioning. 
Once I'm in the little interrogation room, the officers have a chat amongst each other, laughing and joking for what seemed like forever. I'm sitting there annoyed at the level of disrespect. They know I'm being detained. Is now the time for them to joke about some irrelevant mishap? I'm being completely disregarded. 
There was a woman officer. She wanted to know about my tattoos and music. 
"So do you rap?" she inquired so condescendingly. 
I'm already annoyed. Must I be insulted? I didn't respond to her ignorance. 
Finally they ask me to put my bags in another room so the process can start. 
I entered into an even smaller room where there were cameras pointed toward me. I felt like I was being used in some scientific experiment. They took my fingerprints 3 times. My photos were taken. They went through my wallet and kept a business card and a birthday flyer that I had on me. 
I began to think that they can place me at any crime scene they want. They have my fingerprints and photos. 
I was starting to feel highly uncomfortable. 
There was a guy in the room with me. I don't think he made it in the country. He may have gotten sent home. 
Here's when it got interesting. 
A Muslim woman wearing the Muslim dress, head covered and all, summoned me for questioning. 
Upon entering the room I noticed how pleasant she was. Her voice was soft and almost a whisper. And she was beautiful. Angelic even. So I hear myself say "What's your name?". I was expecting her to say "Fatimah" or "Rasheedah" with her beautiful sounding accent. 
She looks up and with a straight face she says "I'm afraid I'm not allowed to give you my name. But my agent number is 4109" (or 4105, I forgot.)
She goes on to ask questions and I blatantly let out a hearty laugh. 
I really laughed hard for a second because I'm thinking about the irony of this situation. 
I'm being questioned and searched. Like a terrorist. 
In America we are so prejudiced. It's really sad the way we profile Muslims. 
And here I am being questioned by a Muslim woman wearing the clothes and everything. And the funny part was that she was so nice to me. She wanted to know had I eaten, and did I want something to drink. After all of that, I was made to stay in a waiting room for a few hours so that they could sort things out with the promoter. 
Anna(my agent) was waiting for me with the driver outside and I know she's freakin out. Finally around 3:30, agent 4109 comes in and shows me my new work permit. Letting me know that I'm good. We talked a little about my music and what I do. 
And before parting she asked me one question that stopped me in my tracks. She'd asked me questions in the room earlier. None of which had any effect on me. I just answered truthfully. But at this final point in our short interaction with each other, she looked at me in the face and asked "Do you believe in one God?"
Such a simple question, right? But I could see and feel something beautiful emanating from this woman. There was a conviction in her voice that felt warm. Non judgmental. Loving. 
"Yes. I believe in one God" iI answered. She smiled and walked off. 

5:27pm

I'd better not get too comfortable in my room. Sound check is coming up at 7:30pm. Shaun(the promoter) is ordering me some food. But I'm sleepy. We'll see what happens. 

10:04pm

Sound check went well. Spinna loved the room on sight. It looked like an old club. The wooden floors were endless. The sound system was hot. 
Dinner was banging. I had the jerk chicken and fried dumplings. Spinna had some hot music. Whew. I'm looking forward to the night. Headed back to the room. I have to rest. My voice tends to fade easily when it hasn't rested. 

April 28th 9:15am

It was sooooooo nice to see Chris Harvey, Kristel Morin, Philly Hooten, Mish and her sister, Mellie Mel, Ben Brophy, and soooooo many other UK friends and family. I even met some new soulful music family for the first time. We all took so many pictures together. There were some folks there that had been drinking the night away, yet enjoying themselves. There was a brother there that just wouldn't stop talking to me. I think he was a musician. He kept talking about my keyboard playing. And while I appreciate his admiration, his breathe was making me feel dizzy. It was as though his cavity had a cavity. Like he'd been drinking urine. And he kept emphasizing words that required extra breath. Words like who, and how. I almost started running. 
But the fact of the matter is that he was a true supporter. And my job is to engage with my supporters and create new ones. 
So I didn't run. 
I sang two songs. I hit it and quit it. People liked it. 
There was a point in the show that I asked people to dance with me, and this one guy misunderstood what I meant and got on the stage with me. I asked him to please get off of the stage. I think I embarrassed him. I didn't mean any harm brother if you're reading this. Sorry about that. 
Spinna played a great set. Very unpredictable. He has music that I want. I love that. Educate me. Take me somewhere. I want to leave feeling better than when I came. Spinna is capable of all of that. 
I'm on my way back now. I got past security and I'm thinking of Starbucks. Or some sort of coffee. I earned it. LOL

Thanks for reading.