edge

Purple Haze: Love or Confusion?

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay

My name is Erline Andrews and I think Jimi Hendrix, the man BC Pires calls the best guitarist of all time, is overrated.

I come from John John, Laventille, where my mom and I lived with my grandparents and many aunts, uncles and cousins. I live now in Millennium Park, Trincity, with my mom. Technically I'm an only child. My father had four daughters after me with other women. My mother had two boys with my stepfather [whom] she married when I was nine. Both father and stepfather died years ago.

I don't feel any great need to have a family. I’m a unique person. This is not a boast. And its not easy for me to get along with people unless I pretend to be what I'm not, which I'm not willing to do.

At Holy Family pre-school with my cousins, they called us The Brady Bunch. At St Christopher's Preparatory [another] private school, I encountered children of all ethnic and class backgrounds. I was considered very bright. Teachers' only complaint was that I was too talkative. At St Francois College, my first all-girls experience, the student body wasn't as diverse. I would hang out with one Indian girl in my form one class and talk about rock music. [After UWI] in my early 30s I went to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

I was considered a weirdo by classmates. But maybe I'm being unfair to them. Members of my extended family consider me weird as well. I’ve stopped tolerating being called things like "Maddy". You shouldn't shame people for being different. My bright and bubbly goddaughter, now 20, has had the same experience. It really is wrong to attempt to douse a person's light.

I always had friends as a child but I certainly don't make friends easily now. But I don't really try. People like when you seem genuinely interested in what they have to say.

I always liked chart popular music on countdown shows like Casey Kasem and Emmett Hennessy's. I decided rock was my favourite in my teens, when I discovered alternative rock on MTV.

My family are believers but I don’t think I ever really believed God existed but I really started to question it around age nine. My mother used to make me kneel and pray, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon this little child." I barely understood what the words meant. I used to say "pity my simple city" instead of "simplicity". At my religious schools, students would pray at the start and end of the day. By age 13, I didn't believe, but didn't admit it to my mother and stepfather until I was 18. There was a scene.

My mother hasn’t accepted me as “a godless sinner”. But what else can she do except carry on and ignore? She hopes I'll see the light.

My favourite book is Catch-22 and I loved Beautiful Thing, a gay coming of age romantic film. But I don't think anything brings me more joy than music and discovering a new musical act I like. It's like falling in love. I actually don't listen to my favourite artists that much. Even more rarely music I liked as a teen. I don't listen to the radio.

Dancing is very important. I dance in the kitchen listening to music.

I love Carnival. It’s one of mankind's best ideas: to have a period where everyone can go out in public and be free from judgement. Dress how you want. Behave as scandalously as you want. It annoys me when people share Carnival videos and photos [to ridicule] other people. That's breaking an unspoken agreement.

My favourite soca artist is Lord Nelson. He's a bit weird and that's right up my lane. There's a lot in his discography that surprises and delights me. One of his songs has a guitar solo! The only soca song I've come across with one.

I don't understand the intense interest people have in supporting teams that have nothing to do with them. Like Trinis who support Arsenal or Germany.

Channa is the food I always need to have around and could live on. I love the taste and texture. It's extremely versatile. You can make soup, sandwich spread, burger patties, a crunchy fried snack, curry it or put it in salads.

My mother had a Newsweek subscription and I used to love reading it. I looked forward to reading Rolling Stone magazine at the library. I love in-depth writing showing unexpected sides of people and situations. I wanted to emulate it.

I got into a fight with the Beehive, Beyonce’s fans on social media. I made the mistake of tweeting that I thought Beyonce was overrated. I got attacked for my looks, my age, [everything]. So I learned I could overrate Hendrix because he’s dead but I’m not going to say Beyonce was overrated again.

I think “sacred cow” artists, filmmakers and musicians are, by definition, overrated. The assumption is that you can’t criticise them. That’s why I said Beyonce and Hendrix were overrated. Because everyone loves them so much. But, by definition, no artist is perfect. So many people believe they are untouchable, the hyperbole is terrific! So they must be overrated.

Even Radiohead, my favourite band, is going into this “sacred cow” territory. And that makes me uncomfortable, even for Radiohead.

I genuinely don’t like Jimi Hendrix and, yes, BC Pires, I have listened to a whole album of his. I don’t like Bob Dylan, Bob Marley or the Beatles particularly either. I understand why people like them. But, in each of them, I could find something to say, well, but, no.

Jimi Hendrix’s showmanship on stage is amazing. But he’s a poor vocalist. He’s very good at soloing. And I think THAT’s what people like, the flashiness of his soloing. But is that a big enough criterion to use, just flashy solos, to proclaim someone the greatest guitarist ever?

Jimmy Page is my favourite guitarist. So I ask myself why I like Page but not Hendrix. When you listen to an entire piece of music from Hendrix, I don’t get a sense of creativity. His guitar-playing just isn’t that interesting to me. It’s not mind-blowing, not that creative. I like Hendrix’s song 3rd Stone from the Sun. It’s the most creative that I have heard from him.

I don’t like to get into fights over music… Okay, BC Pires, I’ll admit it: I DO like getting into fights over music. It bothers me that there are certain opinions that everybody is expected to hold. That’s socially harmful.

If BC Pires asks whether it could be that Hendrix really was the best guitarist of all time but I just don’t appreciate him, I say there are musicians I don’t like but can’t find anything to criticise. But I can specifically point to things I don’t like about Hendrix, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley.

I hit my younger brother once and regret it to this day. It's wrong to hit people weaker than you.

The crime situation weighs on my mind most. I've lost family members. My 14-year-old girl cousin was shot a few years ago. It was in the news. She recovered physically but remains traumatised. I dream about getting shot in the head regularly. My brain changed things up recently and, instead of getting shot in the head, I dreamt the car I was in was sprayed with bullets. I'm working on a journalism project. I have a Facebook page called Homicide Project T&T.

I went to this Trini barber in Brooklyn. When a Jamaican spoke to him he responded with a Jamaican accent. When an American spoke to him he used an American accent. He told me he wanted people to feel comfortable.

I think of a Trini as an easygoing person who always wants to and tries to fit in. In any disaster anywhere in the world, I expect at least one Trini to be among the casualties.

To me, Trinidad & Tobago means diversity. It's the thing I love most and am most proud about my country. I think it’s great that there's no one dominant race. Maybe it's the artist in me that loves being around a mix of people. Visually alone it's beautiful. You don't have to travel for Indian, African, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultural experiences. They're all here on this tiny island. That's amazing.

Purple Haze: Love or Confusion?

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay

My name is Erline Andrews and I think Jimi Hendrix, the man BC Pires calls the best guitarist of all time, is overrated.

I come from John John, Laventille, where my mom and I lived with my grandparents and many aunts, uncles and cousins. I live now in Millennium Park, Trincity, with my mom. Technically I'm an only child. My father had four daughters after me with other women. My mother had two boys with my stepfather [whom] she married when I was nine. Both father and stepfather died years ago.

I don't feel any great need to have a family. I’m a unique person. This is not a boast. And its not easy for me to get along with people unless I pretend to be what I'm not, which I'm not willing to do.

At Holy Family pre-school with my cousins, they called us The Brady Bunch. At St Christopher's Preparatory [another] private school, I encountered children of all ethnic and class backgrounds. I was considered very bright. Teachers' only complaint was that I was too talkative. At St Francois College, my first all-girls experience, the student body wasn't as diverse. I would hang out with one Indian girl in my form one class and talk about rock music. [After UWI] in my early 30s I went to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

I was considered a weirdo by classmates. But maybe I'm being unfair to them. Members of my extended family consider me weird as well. I’ve stopped tolerating being called things like "Maddy". You shouldn't shame people for being different. My bright and bubbly goddaughter, now 20, has had the same experience. It really is wrong to attempt to douse a person's light.

I always had friends as a child but I certainly don't make friends easily now. But I don't really try. People like when you seem genuinely interested in what they have to say.

I always liked chart popular music on countdown shows like Casey Kasem and Emmett Hennessy's. I decided rock was my favourite in my teens, when I discovered alternative rock on MTV.

My family are believers but I don’t think I ever really believed God existed but I really started to question it around age nine. My mother used to make me kneel and pray, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon this little child." I barely understood what the words meant. I used to say "pity my simple city" instead of "simplicity". At my religious schools, students would pray at the start and end of the day. By age 13, I didn't believe, but didn't admit it to my mother and stepfather until I was 18. There was a scene.

My mother hasn’t accepted me as “a godless sinner”. But what else can she do except carry on and ignore? She hopes I'll see the light.

My favourite book is Catch-22 and I loved Beautiful Thing, a gay coming of age romantic film. But I don't think anything brings me more joy than music and discovering a new musical act I like. It's like falling in love. I actually don't listen to my favourite artists that much. Even more rarely music I liked as a teen. I don't listen to the radio.

Dancing is very important. I dance in the kitchen listening to music.

I love Carnival. It’s one of mankind's best ideas: to have a period where everyone can go out in public and be free from judgement. Dress how you want. Behave as scandalously as you want. It annoys me when people share Carnival videos and photos [to ridicule] other people. That's breaking an unspoken agreement.

My favourite soca artist is Lord Nelson. He's a bit weird and that's right up my lane. There's a lot in his discography that surprises and delights me. One of his songs has a guitar solo! The only soca song I've come across with one.

I don't understand the intense interest people have in supporting teams that have nothing to do with them. Like Trinis who support Arsenal or Germany.

Channa is the food I always need to have around and could live on. I love the taste and texture. It's extremely versatile. You can make soup, sandwich spread, burger patties, a crunchy fried snack, curry it or put it in salads.

My mother had a Newsweek subscription and I used to love reading it. I looked forward to reading Rolling Stone magazine at the library. I love in-depth writing showing unexpected sides of people and situations. I wanted to emulate it.

I got into a fight with the Beehive, Beyonce’s fans on social media. I made the mistake of tweeting that I thought Beyonce was overrated. I got attacked for my looks, my age, [everything]. So I learned I could overrate Hendrix because he’s dead but I’m not going to say Beyonce was overrated again.

I think “sacred cow” artists, filmmakers and musicians are, by definition, overrated. The assumption is that you can’t criticise them. That’s why I said Beyonce and Hendrix were overrated. Because everyone loves them so much. But, by definition, no artist is perfect. So many people believe they are untouchable, the hyperbole is terrific! So they must be overrated.

Even Radiohead, my favourite band, is going into this “sacred cow” territory. And that makes me uncomfortable, even for Radiohead.

I genuinely don’t like Jimi Hendrix and, yes, BC Pires, I have listened to a whole album of his. I don’t like Bob Dylan, Bob Marley or the Beatles particularly either. I understand why people like them. But, in each of them, I could find something to say, well, but, no.

Jimi Hendrix’s showmanship on stage is amazing. But he’s a poor vocalist. He’s very good at soloing. And I think THAT’s what people like, the flashiness of his soloing. But is that a big enough criterion to use, just flashy solos, to proclaim someone the greatest guitarist ever?

Jimmy Page is my favourite guitarist. So I ask myself why I like Page but not Hendrix. When you listen to an entire piece of music from Hendrix, I don’t get a sense of creativity. His guitar-playing just isn’t that interesting to me. It’s not mind-blowing, not that creative. I like Hendrix’s song 3rd Stone from the Sun. It’s the most creative that I have heard from him.

I don’t like to get into fights over music… Okay, BC Pires, I’ll admit it: I DO like getting into fights over music. It bothers me that there are certain opinions that everybody is expected to hold. That’s socially harmful.

If BC Pires asks whether it could be that Hendrix really was the best guitarist of all time but I just don’t appreciate him, I say there are musicians I don’t like but can’t find anything to criticise. But I can specifically point to things I don’t like about Hendrix, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley.

I hit my younger brother once and regret it to this day. It's wrong to hit people weaker than you.

The crime situation weighs on my mind most. I've lost family members. My 14-year-old girl cousin was shot a few years ago. It was in the news. She recovered physically but remains traumatised. I dream about getting shot in the head regularly. My brain changed things up recently and, instead of getting shot in the head, I dreamt the car I was in was sprayed with bullets. I'm working on a journalism project. I have a Facebook page called Homicide Project T&T.

I went to this Trini barber in Brooklyn. When a Jamaican spoke to him he responded with a Jamaican accent. When an American spoke to him he used an American accent. He told me he wanted people to feel comfortable.

I think of a Trini as an easygoing person who always wants to and tries to fit in. In any disaster anywhere in the world, I expect at least one Trini to be among the casualties.

To me, Trinidad & Tobago means diversity. It's the thing I love most and am most proud about my country. I think it’s great that there's no one dominant race. Maybe it's the artist in me that loves being around a mix of people. Visually alone it's beautiful. You don't have to travel for Indian, African, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultural experiences. They're all here on this tiny island. That's amazing.