Big Up Yuself


“Give thanks!”, “Praise Jah!”. Such phrases are linked to only one group, one land mass, Jamaicans(Jamaica).

On closer look the nucleus is from a sub group of originals in Jamaica, known as Rastas. They believe that Haile Selassie, former Emperor of Ethiopia, was a direct descendant of the Bible’s King Solomon, making him of the Kingly tribe of Judah, through which Jesus came.

In addition, this group allows their hair to grow, not shaving as the Bible times men did, hence, the “dread locks”; to complete their distinction the Rastas, smoke weed, and play the drums,  waiting on “Jah” (Jehovah God) for salvation. They, and their language and lifestyle, were combinely ostracized on the island, many thought of their members as “crazy”,the fringe of society.

Jamaican music was limited to “ska” and “rock steady” where the concentration was on the rhythm guitar being played at the speed of rock and roll. Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin tried the latter, but the art form got nowhere in the US.

Then Bob Marley came along. He was mixed, he allowed his hair to grow, he liked weed, he also liked the Rasta drum beat; musical engineers slowed the pace of the music to replicate the wailing of the Rastas, as they prayed to Jah; then, “Walla!” It worked! The music was renamed Reggae, international audiences, who became tired of rock music, saw weed and reggae as a blessed alternative, and the flood gates were opened, especially in Europe.

Bob Marley became iconic, reggae became a commodity for export, the Rasta man gained respect and financial clout, and along with those components, his language, food, and lifestyle, forced critics to call it all,  admirable art.

In Baltimore, there are several Jamaican restaurants, and I wanted to go to one that reflected the entire compilation of the culture. I picked SWEET HOME JAMAICA, in South Baltimore. What a night it was, “Big Up!” Sweet Home. (See video.)


Monica L. Rasaki of reggae band SOUL ELEMENTS


Former Emperor Haile Salassie

The RASTA man in Jamaica today.

RASTA MAN in Jamaica today.

Corn Beef on Rye with Guacamole

Jackie Ryan, jazz singer

Jazz singer Jackie Ryan.

Jackies Jazz Band

Bill O’Connell Piano; Lee Smith Bass; Jason Tiemann Drums; and Harry Allen Saxophone.


Take a ripe avocado, where it is just beginning to get soft; with a sharp knife, cut down the center, all the way round, where the two parts separate. On one half the avocado seed in its brown mulatto skin, looks up at you, untouched, saying  “what now?”.

On the other half, there is a hole, screaming another set at words to you. With a table spoon, you begin to scoop the green flesh out of one half, and place that into a bowl. The seeded half is your challenge. How to get this “guy” out, to get the green flesh.; with the same knife, you strike the seed in the center, the knife sticks, and with a twist, the seed is extracted.

This big round black guy (the seed) is what had been feeding the rest of the avocado; now that you have removed him, substitutes must be added to preserve the flesh and make it palatable. You must work fast, or the green will almost turn gangrene. So you reach for the sea salt, onion powder, lime juice, chili or cayenne pepper; and you go to work in making what is called GUACAMOLE.

This can be eaten as is, as a dip, or placed on corned beef sandwich, clasped by rye bread. Aha!! “Ay, Caramba!!!”

Ever heard of JACKIE RYAN? She is a jazz vocalist who has recorded with some of the icons in the industry: Clark Terry, our own genius, Cyrus Chestnut (Baltimore MD.). She came to Baltimore last month as a guest of the Baltimore Jazz Society. She, Harry Allen, saxophone, Bill O’Connell, piano, Lee Smith Bass and Jason Tiemann, drums.

So here is where the guacamole and corn beef come in: she is Irish and Mexican; went to see Porgy and Bess (the black jazz musical), and her (black) seedling has grown into this giant tree.

Her event was like a sports night: highs and lows, somber and samba. Irish Boston gets a black governor; Los Angeles gets a Mexican mayor. Guacamole! Corned Beef! Rye!

Sometimes, when you look at the seed of the avocado, some flesh is attached to it, and you “don’t” want to throw it away, so for the last time you put in it your mouth, licking off the remaining flesh. So good. Now for something to drink before you watch the video.