Friday, December 19, 2008

Introduction Brooklyn 102B: Bed-Stuy

Dec.2005 - Jul.2007

Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA

Introduction Brooklyn 102B: Bed-Stuy

contd. from a previous post

004. Experiential Learning

I was living in the east side of Bed-Stuy, around Fulton St. and Howard Ave. All my neighbors were black people from Caribbean islands and Africa. My apartment was a typical Brooklyn apt called coop. Landlord from Guiana, roommates from Niger, Jamaica, and me de Japan.

People in my block were so chill. Hanging out on a sidewalk, people watch, chat, was like third world vibes I liked. However, there was like a tension/unspoken rules that not to invade other blocks... locals seem to protect theirs from outsiders or something. So I didn't become too into an neighborhood exploration. Even though there was an outside dance, perhaps by Jamaicans, begins midnight till the morning every other weekend in the backside of my block, I didn't get involved with them simply they were in other block.

In my hood, I spent lots of time hanging out at a tire shop owned by this big rastaman Wanki. Most of the shop crew were southern Caribbeans from St. Vincent, Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada. They all loved machines like dirt bike, racing bike, buggy, 50cc mini, Scooter, you name any kinds of wheels with engines. I loved riding them too, specially the dirt biker, woow so powerful and so much fun to ride. Thanks Wanki. Anyway, so I was there almost everyday, so most of the crew got to know me a bit. They called me Nochi, it was good feeling that I felt I was accepted. But sometime they friends stopped by, saw me and said "yo Chino" or "whagwaan Chinaman"... oh well.

An interesting thing I found around my block was a church issue. Yeah, religion, Christianism, hard core, you know. I don't care what you believe. But what I saw in the hood was something sketchy. This white-wall church right in front of my apt seemed "doing good". The bigman of the church got two rides, Mercedes and Range Rover, and everybody stopped by this church got nice cars like Lexus, Cadillac and so on. And about 20m apart, there was this brown-wall church that seemed to be doing "good". They give away boxes of carrots, onions, potatoes and so on to those in need. They live on the same block. And both of them are Christianism yet showing super interesting contrast. Yeah, it was def, capitalistic reality.

In addition, there were more than a couple of organizations around my block that give away free lunch for poor and hungry people. And actually me too got the free lunch once. This guy Steve one day took me there with him. It was like, "yo Nochi, you hungry? Lets go get a sandwich." And I waited in line. Obviously I was the only Asian in the place. Even this organization guy, when my turn he caught my eyes and had a moment. Was it the first time for him to hand a lunch bag to a Chinaman? Well eventually I got handed a brown bag.

Inside of it were a sandwich with bleached bread and yellow colored American cheese, crackers and apple juice from concentrate. Steve had a big smile and said to me, "yo Nochi, now you know. You ain't be starving." It was all good.

005. Summary

What I learned the most in Bed-Stuy with black people was vibes. No matter what you are, you gotta be genki to survive to live up. If you got a miserable situation, you gotta make your own bottom up. Hiphop made it to the world. Of course I met someone who said "I can't do anythings bout it cuz I'm black and fuckin poor. You don't know". Well, I never know yet I also met lots of energetic black people who move forward with positive vibes while struggling. I liked that and respect him.

I am somehow optimistic. I am also aware of the majority of people don't give a shaitze. That's why I feel strong vibes from those who have struggled. Everybody had to go through that at some point. It's like a foundation of life. Jewish people, African people, Asian people, Caucasian people too, everybody, and now it's my turn.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ブルックリン入門 102B: ベッスタイ

Dec.2005 - Jul.2007

Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA

ブルックリン入門 102B: ベッスタイ


004. 体験型地区研究

私が住んでたブロックは Fulton St. and Howard Ave. 辺り, Bed-Stuy の中でも東側、カリビアン達のコミュニティー。レンガ造りやCoopと 呼ばれる日本で言うところの「長屋」タイプとかの低層アパートと空き地のブロック。俺の住んでた建物にはジャマイカ人、ニジェール人、俺ジャパニーズとギ アナ人の大家さんで住んでた。屋根にアクセスあったので,時間あるときはいつも屋根に上って,chill out time. 空とかマンハッタンと眺めてました

裏ブロックのアパートではしょっちゅうジョグリンでダンスを朝方までし てたし,今思い起こせばあそこはジャマイカ人のアパートだったのかも.ただそのときは「違うブロックには進入しない」みたいな暗黙のルールの様な,実際 ローカルたちもそうやって自分のブロックを守ってる感じがすごいした.彼らは直接関わりのない人たちだったし,よそ者のチャイナマンとしては自分のブロッ クの裏には探検し切れなかったです.「少しの勇気」とか「万全の慎重さ」,ツーリストと住んでるでどっちを優先したらいいかなんて定義が無いから「動物的カン」ですかね.

どちらかというと私はカリブ諸島でも南の方出身の人たちと遊ぶ機会が多かった.私のお向かいブロックには、Wanki っていう St. Vincent 出身の Hot 78 ラスタマンがやってるタイヤショップが24/7であって、いつも近所の Hustlers やゲットーユースがそれぞれのお気に入りのバイクや車を持ち寄ってハングアウトしてた。その tire shop crew のほとんどが Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia と西カリブ諸島の出身.そして彼ら、とにかくエンジンつきの乗り物が大好き。スクーター、レースバイク、ダートバイク、バギーに 50cc ミニも。ちなみに Wanki と彼の友達は私のことをちゃんと「Nochi」と呼ぶのに、初めて私を見る人やそんな友達じゃない人たちからは「ヨー,チーノ」とか「ワグワーン,チャイナマン」な感じでしたね.

ここら辺のブロックには、自分が発見できただけでもクリスト協会が六つあって、これらは面白いコントラストを見せてくれた。正面の白壁の協会は、かなり “doing good” でプリースト(仏教の「僧侶」に相当)が夏はメルセデス、冬はレンジローバー、と乗り分け。集会をしょっちゅうやってて、その度「ドレスアップ」した人達がストリートの両サイドに手入れされた Lexus Audi などのブランド車を止めてた。そのすぐ近くにバルバドスから来てるおばちゃんがやってる小さい教会があって、こちらは doing “good“。ポテト、玉ネギ、ニンジンなどを無料でコミュニティーのメンバーに配ってる。

辺りに3つあるこの手の “war against hunger (飢えとの戦争) を実践してる organization(=団体、組織)が「毎週金曜心配無用」で free lunch を配ってた。自分も一度、Wanki の所に出入りしてる Steve ってゆうグレナダ(これもカリブ諸島の1つ)から来てるおっちゃんに連れられて行きました、タダのランチをもらいに。朝から出来てる列が小さくなってから参加、すぐ俺の番が来た。担当のお兄ちゃんと目が合って one moment、でもすぐに茶色の紙バッグを渡してきた。一瞬でした。ただ、チャイナマンがタダ飯もらうのは珍しかったのかも・・・。

その紙バッグに入っていたのは、オレンジに「着色された」アメリカンチーズが「漂白された」食パンに挟まれたサンドイッチ1つと、飲みきりサイズの濃縮還元アップルジュース。これを紹介してくれたSteveが「これで Nochi も飢える心配はねぇー、ガッハッハー」って.めでたしめでたしですな.


世界一規模のアメリカの音楽市場、これをポップカルチャーとリンクさせ mainstream (=主流)にまでなったヒップホップ文化。ガイドしてるのは all these black people。ココ Bed-Stuy にはそうゆう bottom up な雰囲気がすげーある気がした。もちろん中には「俺は黒人だから、俺は貧乏だから、しかたがねー」バイブスで元気ないのも実際にいる。だからこそ「自分達なりに強く生きてくぜ」な強生命力バイブスを自分自身に対して「もっともっと」と思わせられた。

自分は「楽観的」に後者に対して強く影響を受けたと思ってるし、これは日本でも 冷たい視線を向けられてるを経験したりそれを感じてる人達の「何でもやってポジティブに生きてくぜ」バイブスと繋がると思ってる。だからこの感覚はもしかしたら「生命力のフォウンデーション」なのかも。みんなそうやって,大変な時期をサバイブしてきたんだ,黒人も,ユダヤ人も,俺たちアジア人も,もちろん何人とか関係ないけどね.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Introduction Brooklyn 102A: Bed-Stuy

Jan.2006 - Jul.2007
Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA

What a gwaan todo el mundo! I'm Nochi back again.

Sharing my global experience for the better communication, Downtown Global Academy, we continue on Brooklyn, NY. This time, let's go a bit deep inside where you don't get bothered by tourists.

Introduction Brooklyn 102A: Bed-Stuy

Among Brooklyn's many Hoods, the "corner" named Bed-Stuy used be called "the biggest ghetto is the US" til very recently. And this is home to so many famous bigmans including Biggie "The Notorious B.I.G.", Jay-Z, and Mos Def.

I lived in an area 11233 for a year and a half. So, How was things?

001. Overview

An official name of the hood is called Bedford-Stuyvesant. It's located around the southeast of Williamsburg where I talked about before. And it's only 10-15 mins east of that famous Fulton Mall. Around Nostrand Ave. and Fulton St. is a center.

A historical story behind, as Wikipedia says, is that in 19th centuries people from all over the places including South, Caribbean nations and Africa migrated there hoping to have "better life". They built churches and schools, over time it became a community. Becasue of the US segrigation policy, until 60's Bed-Stuy had been one of a very few areas in Brooklyn that black people were able to buy and own properties. So now, Bed-Stuy is "the most famous Afrian-American neighborhood in NYC", as they say. No wonder my neighbors were all black people from all over the world like Grenada, Guyana, Ghana, Jamaica, Brabados, St. vincent and more.

Anyway, I wonder tho who actually planned how Bed-Stuy got ghettonized. Some says "oh, real estate businessmen". But still I guess it's a theory out of many. Or maybe NYC itself?

002. Neighbors

As I said already, all the neighbors I saw everyday were Black people from local, Caribbean islands and Africa. I notinced differencies in their eyes, the way they dress, walk and talk, maybe depending on their religions and where they from.

There was a Mosque near by Fulton St. and Franklyn Ave, where I used to catch a bus for work. Around that corner, there were many Muslim style baffet. restaurant, cafe and Roti place. Ah, they make good bean pie. And around another corner, there were many Christian churches where followers dress nice in like Marcy's going out style and chat with a smile.

As on the streets, locals love riding big dometic SUV like Cadillac and Lincoln and many youths were riding around on Japanese bikes like Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki. I really liked teh vibes there. So chill. Old people playing domino in a park, boys cruising around on BMX, girls with a latest hairstyle chat on a Brownstone's stairs
, and playing loud music for private parties, it was like "The Third World" vibes. The vibes I was familier with in Latin America.

And actually the east side of Bed-Stuy is getting culture mix with non-black people from Williamsburg and Fort Greene. Boom, it's in a middle of globalization right there.

003. Movement

Some say that gentrification is this or that, or good or bad. For me, it's like Mexican saying "ya ni modo". Cafes and restaurant emphasizing "green" and/or organic were getting everywhere. More new business coming in to the area. New styles. So instead, I enjoyed whatever new things I saw in the area. Maybe only because I wasn't a local so I didn't feel invaded or taken advantage of.

Where I was living in was a east end of Bed-Stuy, so the whole atmosphere was chill.

to be continued

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ブルックリン入門 102A: ベッスタイ

Jan. 2006 - Jul. 2007

Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA

Whagwaan 皆さん,Nochi です.世界各地の異文化体験見聞録を共有し,より良いコミュニケーションを目指す「下町グローバルアカデミー」. 今回もニューヨークのブルックリン地区にフォーカスを置いて,更に中まで,観光客もアジア人もあまりいない場所へと入ってみましょう.

ブルックリン入門 102A: ベッスタィ

ブルックリンの独特な urban neighborhood = 都市的界隈 には,ヒップホップ文化のホーム "Hood" と呼ばれるエリアがいくつもある.その中の Bed-Stuy (ベッスタィ)という,かつては「全米最大のゲトー」と呼ばれた "Corner" がある.ココは,Biggie "The Nortorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes などのエンターテイメントビジネス中心的アメリカン黒人社会をレペゼンする多くのビッグマン達の出身地.

私はこのエリアに 1年半ほど住んでいました.さあ,どんな感じだったでしょうか?

001. あらまし

地名はBedford-Stuyvesant、ロケーションは前回話したWilliamsburgの南側一帯辺り。あのフルトンモールからストリート沿いに東へ 10分 - 15分程行ったNostrand Ave. 辺りが中心街。

成り立ちは、19世紀に黒人が土地を購入・所有出来るようになり、いい生活」を求めてアメリカ南部から多くが移住開始。学校やクリスト教会を建てコミュニティーを作り始める。その後Caribbean people from Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago そして Barbados などから, 同じく African People もどんどん移住。なにしろ人種差別政策のおかげで60年代まで「ベッスタィはブルックリンで黒人が不動産所有できる数少ない地区」。そして現在「ベッドフォード・スタイベサント地区は、ニューヨーク市で最も有名なアフリカ人系アメリカ人集住地区となっている」ので、世界中からの色んな黒人が住んでる。


002. ご近所さん

neighbors は多種多様な black people。アフリカ系・カリブ系・そしてアメリカンと、微妙に目つきや歩き方などに育った環境や信仰してる宗教の「違い」が出てる気がする。クリスト教とかイスラム教とか彼らの中でもグループ分けされてるみたいで、それぞれのコミュニティースペース持ってて、集まる人達も色々いる。

Fulton St. Franklyn Ave. にはイスラム教寺院のモスクがあって、周辺には Muslim バフェが何軒かあり Bean Pie とか美味しく頂ける.そして週末,クリスト教でも金持ち信者の協会前には「メーシーズお出かけスタイル」の人達がスマイル満点で社交してる。

ストリートでは、キャデラックやリンコーンなどのアメリカン車がやや多く走っていて、suzuki, yamaha, honda, そして kawasaki などのジャパニーズバイクで走り回る男たちも多い。そして BMX cruising around the blocks してる kids に、家前階段でチャットしてる様々なヘアスタイルの女の子のグループ、公園のテーブルでドミノするおじいちゃん達。ここらへんはジャマイカと同じく「第三世界」的なバイブス.私がラテンアメリカで見てきた「生活ゆっくり感」に近いと感じた。で、夏の暑い夜なんかはみんな sidewalk 出てきて hang out してる、それもかなり遅くまで。

最近は Buppies (Black Urban Professionals=都市型黒人プロフェッショナル達)も急増中で、マンハッタンへと勤めに出る人達、ローカルでビジネス始める人達など new style があちこち。実はかなりのマイノリティーやけど自分達ジャパニーズのように肌が light の人達も流入してきてる、Williamsburgや西隣の Fort Greene から。どんどんグローバリゼーション真っ最中。

003. 動向,進展

「一昔前までのイメージ “Bed-Stuy, Do or Die (=ベッスタィ、やるか死ぬか)” をポジティブなモノへと変えていこうと、現在は “Bed-Stuy, and Proud of It (=ベッスタィ、そして誇りである)” とゆうキャンペーンが行われてる。関わっているメンバーにはコミュニティー活動家、詩人、グラフィティアーティスト、Deejays、俳優、ラッパー、コメディアンとかもいて、あの Mos Def Chris Rock なども同じく活動メンバーらしい。毎年817日頃にはジャマイカのナショナルヒーロー Marcus Garveyの誕生日に合わせてUniversal Hip Hop Paradeが行われてて、コミュニティーからのポジティブ意識アップをNYCで、そして世界へとグローバルにアピールして盛り上げてるみたい。」

・・・とかリサーチしてる中で知ったことをあたかも自分の言葉にしてみたのですが.実際に住んでると... どうなのかな?多分,高級住宅地化しているベッスタィの西側では,違う類の動きがあるのかも.アジア人や白人の若い稼ぎのいい人たちが大勢引っ越してきていたし,オーガニックレストランがあったりとかかなり新しいもので洗練されてるきてる感があった.そして私はベッスタィの中でも東の端に住んでたから,近所の飯屋とか八百屋とかはすげー「いなたい」感じだったね.とにかく住んでて思ったのが,「最先端ミックス」はすぐそこまで来てた感覚.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Introduction Brooklyn pre.102 : Bed-Stuy

Dec.2005 - Jul.2007
Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA

Brooklyn's got many urban neighborhoods, and I lived in a hood called Bed-Stuy. My neighbors were all Caribbean people and pretty much I was the only Asian living the block.

Introduction Brooklyn pre.102: Bed-Stuy

My name was Chinaman. Living in Bed-Stuy, hanging out at a tire shop, plantain chips for munches, drinking ginger beer, and chill.

Everyting good. Pura Vida. Todo bien.

But when I moved there, actually I got warned/welcomed by this latino guy in a car saying to me, "Yo, Chino, you gotta watch out here. Ain't no yuh hood." Even at the exit of Rockaway on C line, this creepy neighbor begged for "a couple of dollar", then moved his arm around his lower back and posed if he had "some" there. He asked me if I knew "what's like to be shot".

Yo, I don know bout that.

It was all good tho. From next day, I had to exit there anyway.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ブルックリン入門 プリ102 : ベッスタイ

Dec.2005 - Jul.2007
Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA


ブルックリン入門 プリ102 : ベッスタイ



ただ引越ししたときは,車に乗ったラティーノから「おい,中国人.気を付けろよ.ここはおめえが来るとこじゃねーぞ」だとか,C ラインのロッカウェイ駅では,怪しい近所のベガーがベギってきたと思ったとたんソッコーで腰の後ろに手を回し「何か」もってるフリしてこう言ってきた,「お前ガンで撃たれたことあるか?」.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ラテンアメリカ入門 201: コスタリカ

私Nochiの主観的世界異文化見聞録「下町グローバルアカデミー」。 You guys ready? はい、じゃあ今日はトロピカル。日本から見て太平洋の遙か東の彼方、世界地図でアメリカ大陸の一番細い場所あたり、中米のコスタリカ。

Introduction Latin America 201: Costa Rica

ま だまだ多くの日本人にとって身近に感じられないラテンアメリカ諸国。コスタリカもそんな国の一つ。日本からの直行ノンストップ便は無く、北米で1 stopして約18時間かけて到着するこの国。実はスイスと同じく「軍隊を持たない」ユニークで小さな国。面積は首都圏とほぼ同じぐらい。この国に私は 8ヶ月ほど住んでいました。さあ、どんな感じでしょうか?

At A Glance: 一見

気候は、 乾季と雨季。日本の初夏から晩秋にかけて向こうの雨季で、夕方に集中して降る雨は土砂降り。温度的には、高地に行かない限りは夜でも寒さはジャケット一枚 でしのげる。多くのビーチでは、乾季には人でごったがえし、雨季には都市部から流されてきたゴミや漂着物で埋め尽くされる。まるで美しい内面に醜い部分を 持つ我々人間みたい。

食文化はシンプル。典型的な朝食は、炊いた白米と黒煮豆をバターで炒めた「ガジョピント」 と、フレッシュで多種多様なトロピカルフルーツの盛り合わせ。ランチやディナーには、硬くて甘くないバナナの「プラタノ」を揚げたもの、根野菜を中心に小 さいサイコロ形にして調理した「ピカディージョ」、グリルした鶏肉「ポジョ」など。そしてこれらと一緒に白米と煮豆が盛られた「カサード」と呼ばれる定食。日本食と比べると“洗練さ“は見当たらない、この独特の”素朴さ”が肩肘張ってなくていい感じ。


音楽は、全体的にサルサ、メレンゲ、クンビアなどの定番ダンスものが幅広く楽しまれている一方で、黒人中心のカリブ海沿岸ではカリプソが 有名。最近ではグローバルユースを中心にMTVものやUKポップ、レゲトン、なども広がっている。首都サンホセのハイエンドなナイトクラブではハウスなど の“四つ打ち”系もあり、ジャズバーなどもアダルトを中心に人気がある。個人的に遊びに行った木造のレゲエクラブではフォウンデーションやミディアム系の コンシャスチューンがよくかかってた。一度だけ行った野外のフェスは、かなりミックスだった、ロックだったりカリプソだったり。

主な産業に 上げられるのは主に三つ。1.バナナ・パイナップル・花・コーヒーなどの農産物輸出。これら運搬用の列車の線路を敷くため、ジャマイカ系黒人たちや中国人 たちが労働力として集められた。2.エレクトロや化学薬品などのアウトソーシング受け入れ業。FTA(自由貿易協定)や EPA(経済連携協定)などのややこしい縛りがあるために、コスタリカ国内の法律が適応されない治外法権のような状態。これが時折問題にされるが、基本は 高給な仕事なので今のところ大きな混乱は表面上見えてきていない。そして3.近年脚光を浴びている、熱帯雨林やビーチでバケーション客相手の参加学習型の エコツーリズム。トロピカル情緒をエンジョイしながら、環境や生態系、都市計画や沿岸開発などの社会問題について学ぶことが出来る。これ、個人的にお勧め です。


言語は・・・ 25ヶ国以上で約4億人、母国語としての話者人口は世界で第2位、Se Habla Español スペイン語。

通貨の呼び名は、「コロン(colón)」。実際に使うの時は複数形なので「コロネース」になる。2008年9月の為替レートで、1 usd = 550 colónes。現在の物価の目安、「カサード」が2,000 colónes。

Ticos/Ticas: コスタリカ人


そ んなコスタリカ人は自分たちのことを Ticos(コスタリカ男)/Ticas(コスタリカ女) と呼ぶ。そして彼らのモットーはPura Vida!(プーラビーダ=Pure Life! 純粋人生!)。使い方はこんな感じ、「こんにちわー」「プーラビーダ!」、「調子どう?」「プーラビーダ!」、「~どうだった?」「プーラ ビーダ!」・・・ と、とにかく何でもいいんです。陽気なラテンアメリカ人らしく本当に明るく、ビッグスマイルでよく笑う。


【蛇足: 世界ではサッカーのことをフットボールと呼ぶ。前者で呼ぶのはアメリカとその“影響下”にある国々】

Brief History: 歴史概要

16 世紀初頭、世界進出を着々と進める欧州諸国においてスペイン人のクリストファー・コロンブスという男が現在のアメリカ大陸に到着。彼の“新大陸発見”とい う名の下に開拓地としての可能性を見出し、その後どんどん西洋人が入植。スペインの植民地を経て19世紀の初頭に単独国家として独立。他の中南米諸国と少 し違うのは、コスタリカでは先住民と白人の混血が大規模に進まなかったこと。先住民を奴隷として使うことが出来ず入植者たちは自分たちで土地を耕して労働 するしかなく、その結果として中米の近代史上、割と早い時期から西洋人ばかりの国家が作れた。

Experiential Studies: 体験研究


道 路はあちこち穴だらけ、昼間から酔いどれる男たちで繁盛してる飲み屋。ボロボロのヒュンダイに乗るローカルたちで渋滞する道、コーヒー農園での豆の手摘み で生計を立てるニカラグア人たち、ピカピカのレンタカーでトロピカルを満喫する白人の観光客と彼らが買っていく娼婦たち。全てがプーラビーダ。

プ ライベートの時間では、私はそんなに熱帯雨林を探検するつもりはなかった。むしろ、ビーチを楽しみたかった。その頃に、ロキシーという活発な娘に出会っ た。「持続的海岸開発」のテーマで研究をしていた彼女は、ドリンカーでスモーカーでパーティー大好きの素敵なメヒカーナ。すぐに仲良くなり、一緒にすごす 時間も増えていった。平日をセンターのある街で過ごし、金曜の午後にはバッグに宿題と着替えを詰め込んで、バスで太平洋側にある

Summary: 要約


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Introduction Latin America 201: Costa Rica

Today’s topic is Costa Rica. It is tropical. Far away from my home country Japan, by the other side of Pacific, Costa Rica is located right by the most narrowed point of the America Continent.

Introduction Latin America 201: Costa Rica

For the most of Japanese people, Latin American countries aren’t familiar. Costa Rica is one of them. There is no non-stop direct flight from Japan. So, one has to take 18 hours to get there via 1-stop in North America. Size of the land of Costa Rica is almost equal to the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area. Costa Rica is a small, unique, and actually one of those without millitary. I’ve stayed in this country for about 8 months. Aright, how was it like?

001, At A Glance

Weather has two seasons, dry and rain. From May to X’mas, rainy season, El Valle Central where I was gets crazy downpour after launch time every single day. But temperature doesn’t bother unless you go to high up in a mountain, you can be ok just to put on a jacket even at night time. And during dry season, many beaches get packed with locals and foreign tourists in bikinis and shorts. During rainy season though, various garbage from inland and wreckages cover up the beaches. It is just like us the humans with beautiful and ugly inner-selves, no?

Aright, cuisine culture is simple. Every Ticos and Ticas eat Gallopinto, rice’n beans, for breakfast. For launch and supper at home, Casado is typical. Casado consists of rice, beans, fried plantain, salad, picadillo, tortilla, and a choice of chicken, pork, or beef, and all items are put on one big plate. Compared with Japanese cuisine, I couldn’t find it refined delicacy yet its unique simplicity was relaxing, so it's all good.

Roman Catholic, one of the biggest organizations of Christianity, gets over 90% of Ticos’ spiritual worship and is integrated into local culture. One of Ticos’ favorites sayings that I heard often is “ay, gracias adios” when they feel gratitude. Interestingly, a cathedral or church sits in the heart of a town, and all the houses and community area ware developed around them. And many communities were filled with happy vibes on Sunday afternoon when Christians attended their service and were rejuvenated by it.

Music, widely Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia were played. By the Caribbean coast, Calypso is very popular among black locals. In recent years, global youth generation listen to MTV and UK Pops, Mexican Pops, HipHop, and Reggaeton. In the capital San Jose at nighttime, party people dance to 4 beats like House/Techno at a classy club. Jazz is also enjoyed by San Jose adults. In San Jose, there was also a reggae club often plays foundation, medium, and conscious tunes. I only attended a outdoor music festival, they played mix genres like catchy Rock, Calypso and Pops.

Major industries could be three types. The 1st one is exporting agricultural products such as bananas, coffee, pineapples, and flowers. And long time ago, they have to build railroad in order to transport the products from farms inland to a port. That’s when many Chinese and Jamaican people immigrated as labors. The 2nd one could be subcontracting. Jobs come from multinational big corporations’ outsourcing like electronics, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods. Because of many complicated business agreements like Free Trade Agreement, working condition ain’t no good as rich countries. And the 3rd one is Eco Tourism. In a forest or at a beach, while enjoying tropical atmosphere, you can learn about various social problems such as environment, ecosystem, coastal development and city planning. I personally recommend this, it is really hot in Costa Rica.

Housing style is like Colonial, and many houses and buildings got a nice courtyard inside. Many Ticos live in s house with concrete wall and galvanized iron roof. So, it’s kinda loud and good when rain so hard. Some bigmen live in a house with bricks wall and ceramic roof.

Language in Costa Rica is Español, the second spoken in the world by over 4oo millions in 25 countries.

Currency is called colón. Right now, you can have Casado for 2,000 colones that is about little less than US $4.00 and almost JP ¥400.

002. Ticos/Ticas

Majority of people in Costa Rica are European descendants. About 3% are Jamaican descendants, 2% Chinese a.k.a. Chino, then some Mayan descendants live in mountain area with population about some thousands.

These Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos (men)/Ticas (women). And their motto is famous “Pura Vida!”. It’s really pure life. This is how you use it: “What’s up?” “Pura Vida!”, “How was it?” “Pura Vida!”, then “Pura Vida!” “Pura Vida!”. Anything is good. So many Ticos are cheerful with big smile. Then, Ticos are famous for crazy about football. Deportivo Saprissa, one of the Toyota Cup teams in 2005, was Ticos. Even so many people get no-work and no-school day when national team have a big match.

003. Brief History

Early 16th centuries, when… some European bigmen with military power were promoting their “civilization” campaign from Africa to Asia, an up-and-coming Spaniard named Christopher Columbus landed where it is called the America Continent. His arrival was the beginning of history-long nightmare for Native Americans and Indigenous but brought Europe some big “business opportunities”. Time passed, and in 19th centuries, Costa Rica got an independence from Spain and became a country. And racial mix didn’t really progress, so Spanish descendants had to be labor themselves working with soil. Consequently, Costa Rica could form as a country in early period.

004. Experiential Studies

In 2004, I arrived in Costa Rica and began living there. It was my first living in so called “the 3rd world”. Everything was so new. Like so many kinds of fresh fruits available at local market, how Ticos communicate each other with their cheerful vibes. Bananas, even some kinds, mangos, papayas, coconuts, pineapples, and even yuca grow everywhere. It seemed there was a plenty of food over there.

Once look at streets, so many Ticos drive old used Hyundai and/or Kia. Roads are paved but halls and bumps are everywhere. Even during daytime at local bars, men get drunk with one of their national pride drinks, Imperial, Pilsen or Cacique. Nicaraguans were making living by picking up coffee beans in a plantation. White tourists/Gringos were driving around in bran new rent-a-car, and hookers hanging out with them. Yeah, money really talks. So everything is Pura Vida!

As I was there as a college student studying overseas, I spent much time on research and assignments. Plus, I had to catch up everything going on around me with my second and third languages English and Spanish. Learning Latin American reality, visiting banana plantations for exports, hanging out with locals and indigenous, topics that I studied were relating to ecology and globalization. I had great chance to learn about history, economic and political relations with Latine American countries and Europe and the US.

Now, never mind to explore tropical jungles, rather I wanted to enjoy beach things. around this time, I met l Roxy. She was smart, fun Mexicana, and working on her subject Coastal Development. We got along well quick, and I began spending time with her. My schedule became something like… 4 days in a town with schoolmates and 3 days of weekend at beach called Playa Manuel Antonio at Roxy's place.

One thing I noticed through my stay in Costa Rica, I was looked down by many Ticos. I’m talking about racism. Some Ticos even gave me an attitude because of what I look. It exists and it is a reality everywhere. Hey, I’m Japanese… oh well, Chino for them. It wasn’t a happy thing but was good experience to get Chino treatment.

005. Summary

Pura Vida! Today and tomorrow, tropical all the time, good things and bad things, anything positively Pura Vida! In the first place, tomorrow becomes today, today becomes yesterday, pure life Pura Vida! Thanks the 3rd world. Gracias adios, Costa Rica, Pura Vida!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Introduction Brooklyn 101B: Williamsburg

Dec. 2005 - Jul. 2007
Brooklyn, NY 111211, USA

Introduction Brooklyn 101B: Williamsburg


03. Area Research

Since Williamsburg used to be a heavy industrial area, size of many buildings are really big. Now, people live in those red brick loft the ex-warehouse. Plus many buildings' got access to a rooftop, and party people love that space.

One day when I went to this rooftop party in East Williamsburg, the scene was so Brooklyn style. Guest rappers from Houston, TX, and Canada, and the party crowd inna di building were so various. Ladies in sexy dress, school girls and boys, ghetto youths, wicked NewEra and custom Nike, Rastamen, and some interracial couples, they all share the music and space. Full of good vibes.

004. Summary

Whatever the latest urban style get mixed up and developed in a place like Williamsburg for sure. You can experience diverse culture in laid-back chaos of Brooklyn. It was definitely challenging yet interesting to learn cultural difference in etiquette, body language and a way to converse.

After all, the key word has been People and Culture in order to achieve my personal development and cross-cultural communication. I as a Japanese picked up good ideas for my tings while living in Brooklyn.

So, if anybody interested in the latest mix urban culture Brooklyn style, you gotta get involved with Williamsburg. You be feeling vibes and pick up whatever ideas for your things.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Introduction Brooklyn 101A: Williamsburg

Dec. 2005 - Jul. 2007,
Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA

Everybody knows that all kinds of people living in NYC. But how many of them know about Brooklyn? For me, Brooklyn was the place to be. Even tho I only lived in Brooklyn for a year and a half, through my days there, Williamsburg seemed to be the hottest urban hood in cross-cultural aspect.

People and Culture has been the key word for my endeavor. And Williamsburg's got my attention.

Introduction Brooklyn 101A: Williamsburg

001. General Information

Briefly speaking, Williamsburg used to be a factory and warehouse for Manhattan. It was an original ghetto of NYC for longtime. In recent years, because of cheaper rent, people keep flowing into the area. And now, Williamsburg is the most diverse neighborhood in BKLN.

002. Tribes

Out of many groups in the neighborhood, these tribes below are obviously outstanding in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Group A: rapidly growing population in recent years

  • Yuppies- Young Urban Professional, speak English. One of the newest and the most wealthy tribes in the area. They are educated and have strong business professions, usually working in Manhattan. General reputation for them isn't always positive since they earn big bucks $$$.
  • Hipsters- energetic and fashinable youngsters, also speack English. They seem to be the leading tribes for creative cultures such as music, fashion, design and other aspects of urban culture.

Group B: locals who's been around for more than a generation

  • Latino- majority there are Boricuas and Dominicanos, speak Spanish. They have been a local since 2nd World War time, and now can be seen all over the area. Chilling, hanging out, and even flirting on sidewalks and around corners. They seem to have strong bond with family and friends. Many of local delis are owned by them.
  • Hasidic- conservative sect of Jewish communities, speak Yiddish. They also have been a local for long time and now are concentrated in south side of the area. Interestingly they all wear traditional black uniform like a Rapper/Reggae singer Matisyahu.
  • Italian- yes, their ancestors came from Italia. Began to flow into the area around 2nd World War and worked hard to survive. Now, many local business are said to be owned by them.

In addition, there is a Polish neighborhood in North Williamsburg. To the East Williamsburg, residences are mostly black people. All these kinds of people reside within 10-15mins bicycle ride. And this is why I enjoyed cultural diversity of Williamsburg... "all kinds of people, all kinds of people in this world, to make this world turn around, to make this world better place"... as Maxi Priest said in 1996.