Friday, June 26, 2009

Fren' fi life, truss mi

You have to pity these lonely girls.

They probably never even heard of the term "rent-a-dread", at least not until it was too late. They could be reading this story right this very moment and still not realize what had happened to them. Or continues to happen to them. Or will soon happen to them.

Because it isn't about them.

It's all about the the dunza. The corn. The Nanny or the Benjamins. It is about the PAY-puh.

Jah know.

But the attention these lonely girls receive from these genkle-men clouds their judgment. They aren't used to getting much attention at all. A white bwoy at a seedy bar in Rochester or New Haven or Kansas City couldn't get away with some of these lackluster lines. But when you slather that same stale cake with the smooth, creamy icing of Jamaican patois......

Well. It goes down easy.

Too easy.

And there is a fly hovering over that piece of stale cake. These ladies feel that fly circling them, sniffing for their precious honeypot and it warms them. They don't swat that fly away. No, they are quickly enchanted by it. Their honey begins to pool and melt. They smile and flirt, they are outwardly coy but inwardly desperate. Someone has noticed them, seen what they always secretly hoped was true about themselves. That they are sweet. That they are desirable.

In truth, they are likely neither. At least not to him.

Because the honeypot that fly is sniffing after is not between her sweet lips. And certainly not in the void between her ears. Yuh a jokah, mon. It is not even between her legs, tho' he will scoop out that honey without a second thought. Or, as the bwoys like to say, he will stamp 'im passport, fi true, if it will lead to the real honeypot. Exchange is no robbery, seen?

Jah know.

These lonely ladies need to smarten up and hang a fly-strip over that piece of stale cake with the sweet creamy icing. They need fi study the renta-dread runnings, just to level the playing field {kiss-teeeeeth}. Cho.

Because the honeypot that fly seeks lives not in the deep folds of her punanny, no, not a'tall. The sex is laughably easy to obtain. That fly seeks the honeypot that lives in the deep folds of her wallet. That is where the real honey lives.

And it is sweeter than a julie mango.

He'll wait for it to ripen and pluck it at its peak. He will perfect his lines, his lyrics, tailoring them as needed to suit his quarry. What works for the mampey-size school-teacher from St. Louis might not work for the stoner-chick-with-a-trust-fund from Miami. The party-girl-divorcee from Boston wants to hear something different than the jewelry-heiress-from-Milan. "A study 'im a study," his friends will confirm.

A true anthropologist.

You think he can't tell the difference between a Canadian and an American and a Brit, just from watching how they walk or the clothes they wear? He can. They don't even have to speak. A German versus an Italian? Yuh a jokah, mon, dat nuh nuttin. He knows how to say "Everything cool, you need weed?" in 6 languages. Alles klar, prego, bitte, arigato, seen?

The younger ladies are easiest to fool, so gullible and naive they believe every word, but they rarely have money to spare. The older women, on the other hand, have more cash but tend to be more skeptical of his motives. He really haffi werk dem. If he happens upon a young lady with mommy and daddy's credit card, he knows he just might strike honeypot gold.

Eureka, mon.

Add the hazy fog of a half-dozen spliffs of ganja and things will invariably get a likkle bit easier. Taking candy from the quintessential baby. Direct her in the ways of Western Union and, well, he gets the gift that keeps on giving.

Jah know.

So when it comes to the lonely ladies, young or old, tall or short, fat or slim - he's got game. He's practiced his lyrics on every type or watched their effect on others as his bredren succeed or fail. They swap tek-neeks. After all, this is bizness , a werk dem a werk. There is a yard full of pickney to feed or a demanding wifey or a craving for some criss new footwear.

Or maybe he just has a crack habit.

One way or the other, he will get his new pair of Clarks and new khaki pants. Or fresh marina and sparkling white Adidas. Or, if he is truly focused, a car or a house. And when the honeypot begins to wonder if she has been duped, he is ready to reassure her.

Because he knew she was slipping away before she knew it herself.

It was bound to happen, because the lyrics only go so far. He may have to bully her a little, inflict some guilt, shame her for her Babylon affluence to keep the faucet of cash or material goods running. And then it becomes clear that the so-called depth of his affection is alarmingly shallow. Or, more aptly, his love and affection truly lie with someone else.

But he will catch himself and tell her, "Nah worry yuhself. We a fren'. We a FREN' FI LIFE, truss mi," and grip her hand tightly, as if she is something special. Like no other.

And certainly not like the other dozens a fren' fi life before her. Or after her. Or at the same time as her.

No. She is special, seen?

Jah know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

ごっこ遊び - Gocco

(Please click on this image to see a nicer hi-res version)

My first gocco -- hand pulled from a home-burned screen, from an original drawing.

Make sense?

Loosely translated from the Japanese, "gocco" (pronounced GO-ko, rhyming with loco) means Make Believe Play, and is the name given to a compact, self-contained screen-printing unit that allows you to both burn a screen and also make multiple prints. These units were sold on the home/consumer market throughout Japan in the late 70s and wewre wildly popular. You can read more about this uniquely Japanese device here.

Sadly, they are no longer being made.

I was able to snag a gently used Print Gocco unit a few weeks ago on Ebay and finally gave it a trial run this week.

Here is the main body of the unit, plus the bulb housing on top. The base of the main body of this particular model measures about 8"x10"x4":

This unit, like most of the models, will produce a print approx. 4"x6" from an original piece of artwork of the same size. More precisely, you must make a photocopy of the image you want to reproduce as a print and you will be using that to burn a screen for making prints.

So, first I took this original drawing, reduced it to about 4"x6" and made a photocopy:

Back over at the Gocco unit -- I removed the bulb housing and inserted two special one-time-use flash bulbs into the housing. These are highly toxic to handle, FYI.

Snap the bulb housing back on top of the base unit.

With the entire unit open, place the photocopy of the artwork upon the small mounting table inside -- this is what the inside of the base unit looks like when opened:

Next, select a fresh blank therma-print screen, designed to fit your gocco:

Next, insert the screen in the upper half of the open base. You can see the inside of the bulb housing through a plexiglass window in the base top.

With your artwork(photocopy) in place, close the lid.

Thanks to two double A batteries in the housing, when you close the unit and press firmly, the bulbs will FLASH and burn your image onto the screen you inserted between the artwork and the bulb housing:

Altho I don't have photos for the next few steps, it is rather simple. After flashing, lift the lid and you will see an image has been burned into your screen. Remove the bulb housing, discarding the bulbs. Remove the original art work.

Then carefully remove the screen. Apply a layer of ink on the backside of the screen, spreading the appropriate color or colors where the image is present on the screen. Then insert the screen back into the same place in the top half of the unit.

Now, place a fresh piece of paper, ready to be printed, in the same place where the original artwork once sat:

Now when you quickly stamp down the housing lid again, this time holding the screen with a layer of ink, it will print your image on the blank paper:

I made at least 30 prints before I ran out of pre-cut paper. In this case, I was using a small block of watercolor sheets, figuring I'd like the option to go back into some of these and hand color them.

But I still had plenty of ink on the screen to continue printing. I was able to remove the screen, with some residual ink still smeared on the screen, wrap it in saran wrap and put in the freezer until I'm ready to print more. I can also add more ink to the screen when necessary.

The prints have a much more rough, hand-hewn look than the original drawing, but the nature of the printing process makes them unique, and an entirely different form of reproduction than a photocopy or a giclee print.

Look for these to be added to my Etsy shop this week. I'm anxious to try a more simplified drawing and experiment with more colors.

Here are some gocco videos, using a slightly different model, that shows the step by step process more clearly. In the first, you'll notice that when the woman applies ink to her screen, she masks off certain areas to keep different colors from mixing. She then knocks of dozens of wedding invitations and even decorates a stack of napkins to match:

Here's another pretty funny clip, put together by some Etsy experts. And whether you're using kiddy art or your own fine art drawing, the process is the same. You just need a black and white photocopy image to start -- think woodcut or linocut -- and you're off!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who's Your Daddy?

Who gave you your first bath because he thought Mommy was too "frighten fi hold yuh right?"

Who was the self-proclaimed expert on breastfeeding, despite not having the proper equipment himself, and proceeded to give Mommy pointers, so to speak?

Who liked to carry you around the East Village in a Snugli and had to suffer the indigity of strangers asking, "Are you the nanny?"

Who bought a Lion of Judah flag and affixed it to your stroller, all the better to push you through the East Village with a little rasta pride?

Who mixed up a bush remedy to ease your roiling 3-month-old belly, showing up the pediatrician in the process? And to whom has the pediatrician given The Proper Respect ever since that day?

Who insisted a bath would "cool yuh dung" during a tantrum, when Mommy thought it would push you over the edge, and was absolutely right because it stopped your sobbing?

Who would chew up a handful of peanuts into a buttery paste, carefully retrieve them/it from his own mouth and then pop it into yours, just like a mama bird would do for its babies?

Who would scoff at the blue rubber suction bulb recommended for clearing a baby's stuffy nose, and proceeded to just suck out the congestion by putting his his mouth upon your nose and drawing hard?

Yeah, Mommy thought that was pretty gross, but had to admit it was effective.

Who counted the days until he could bring you bakka yard and show you off to Grandma Una, the breddas and sistahs, and jess about evry-baddy he knew?

Who fretted and vexed when you ended up in hospital, so tiny and sick? Who brought Mommy a fresh plate of home-cooked dinner each night, as she sat by your bed 24/7, while he stayed at home caring for bigga sista all alone, day after day? Plenty dark days when we thought we'd lose you but who kept us all strong and positive?

Who ran on foot from Houston Street to Chambers when the WTC was ablaze on 9/11, the North Tower just two short blocks away from your elementary school, knowing that he must pluck you from the chaos before it was too late?

And who, after scooping you up and bringing you home, breathlessly reported back to Mommy, before the cell phone lines went dead, "Mi haff her, mi haff her, she ah-right, mi haff her"?

Who decided to coach your soccer team after first proclaiming that "girls nah play ball"?

Who has volunteered to be the parent chaperone repeatedly and escorted you on school field trips to museums and galleries and aquariums, Central Park and Botanical Gardens and the Statue of Liberty?

Who has been to every First Day of School, every Celebration of term, every concert, every birthday party, every soccer game?

Who gave you your first swim in a spring-fed pool, your first sail in the Caribbean sea, your first rough ride on a jet ski?

Who chopped your first jelly coconut with a machete, peeled you an orange Jamaican-style with his ratchet knife, or cooked the corn-meal porridge which I share with you?

You know who.

Happy Father's Day, to our daddy, the best father ever.

One love, one family, always -- fi life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More and More Prints

Just a brief note today -- sold out half of my prints on hand: big thank you to my most stalwart patron.

I will be re-listing the same pieces and making single prints as requested, same low price. All are individually signed, open edition prints on quality archival materials. These prints really give the look and feel of an original watercolor painting. Lovely.

I've added another half dozen or so images to my available print offerings - something new added every day.

Check out the new additions here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Something Was Still Not Right

You can see it in his eyes.

I first painted this little rasta youth a couple years aback, when I first began this blog. It was one of many small ink and watercolor paintings I made during the first year:

Something Was Not Right, 4"x6"

You can read the story I wrote about the young boy here.

As with the oil portrait of my husband that I've posted samples of this week, I'm using many of these smaller watercolor paintings, which are only 4"x6", as preliminary studies for a larger version in oil. The oil paintings are on 24"x36" canvases.

And unlike the watercolors, which I typically finished in one brief sitting, the oils take time to dry between layers. So I'm circulating between several paintings -- I step away from one, not just letting the paint dry but letting my head clear, and embrace another. These close ups I'm posting today are of the very preliminary sketch and washes of "Something Was Still Not Right", in oil on canvas.

I sketched the image in charcoal and then applied very thinned-out washes of paint. As you can see, the paint was so thin (with turpentine) it just drizzled down the canvas in places.

But I like it.

This painting has a long way to go, but I thought it would be interesting to capture this one from jump and update along the way.

I never know where these paintings are going to end up, but I'm looking forward to the trip.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Half Way Tree Redux

More progress on the kingman's portrait. Don't have a decent enough lens on the camera to capture the full canvas without distortion, so here are some pieces:

Getting there........

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pulling Back the Curtain

I had a lot of positive feedback about my iphone drawings so I wanted to share them one more time, but with a twist: the application allows the user not only to retrieve the image outside of the phone in an online gallery, but also saves the information which records every brush stroke.

In other words, you can export a quicktime showing the image being created, stroke by stroke. So here are the images I posted before, but showing them as they were created. You can see where I made changes, corrections, choices.

Both the palm tree and the black and white portrait were done from my imagination, no reference, just staring into the tiny screen and making them up as I went along:

Here is the palm, from start to finish:

Here is the black/white portrait from start to finish:

Now in an effort at full disclosure, the final image I posted, of my husband driving, was probably the most impressive looking BUT I did have a leg-up with the app. I first snapped a photo of him with the phone and imported that into the drawing app. Then I began painting ON TOP of the photo.

Using the phone in a moving car was pretty tricky, made a lot of sloppy strokes, so using the photo as a starting point was helpful. You might even say it is "cheating", but once you begin to lay down the paint, the photo disappears beneath it and you are left to continue layering and figuring out details that have already been obscured.

So -- you can see also that some of the areas along the edges (ear, collar) were pretty much still the photo, left unpainted. I had zoomed in while working on the face and neglected some of the outer areas. The photo definitely helped lay down a structure with the correct proportions, etc. but once I got painting, particularly on the hat, you can see that I was pretty much out there on my own.

Enough -- back to my studio to work on real paint and paper/canvas paintings.

And big thanks to those already viewing and buying prints! Note the new direct link at the upper right of the blog, which brings you to my Etsy shop if you are interested in looking at what is for sale. More items added every few days.........

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Finally............the wait is over.

The prints have arrived.

The above portrait, from a previous blog posting,"Yuh Know Mi?" is now available for sale as a high-quality, archival print. Printed on HP Aquarella Art Paper, 14.4 mil, 93% opacity,this warm-white paper captures the vivid colors of the original with a matte, textured surface, giving the print the feel and appearance of an actual watercolor painting. The colors are rich and true to the original and should retain their vivid hues for generations.

And at an affordable price.

Prices currently range from $30 for the smaller prints (9"x12" image on 12"x15" sheet) up to $55 for the largest prints (12"x15.5" on a 20"x16" sheet), plus shipping.

Among the paintings immediately available are these shown below (note, these are low-resolution images and NOT to scale):

The print has a two-inch border, making it ready for framing, and each is individually signed by me.

For more details about each print, purchase price and shipping details, please visit my Etsy shop as I am not going to be offering them through the blog. I am currently adding the details for each item and should have all available prints listed by the end of today.

So many of my regular readers have written to me about obtaining prints and I'm so happy to finally have this option available.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mr. Big

I gently lowered the large ceramic pot, filled with steaming-hot chicken curry, into a heavyweight shopping bag and headed for the subway.

It was time for that annual back-to-school tradition at our downtown elementary school, the parents' potluck dinner. A chance for parents to meet one another, meet the new teacher outside of the classroom and avoid talking too much about your own child in the process. Good food, the wine would flow and it would no doubt be held in some airy, well-appointed loft in Tribeca.

Not a bad way to spend an evening.

My husband did the daily drop-off and pick-up of our children every day at school and quickly got to know the other parents or babysitters or nannies, as they congregated in the school yard each morning and afternoon. I, on the other hand, had to be at my office the same time that the school bell rang. So we all left the house together each morning, Dads hopping on the downtown train with the girls to head to school while I got on the uptown train to go to work. I never got the chance to mingle with the other parents in the schoolyard.

Having attended half a dozen of these for our older daughter's classes already, my husband bowed out of this particular night, this year's kindergarten class get-together. Someone had to stay home with the girls, and baby sitters are pretty pricey in NYC, so he offered to whip up a massive amount of his specialty and send me off with his regrets. Tonight, he'd draw the girls bath, do the bed-time story thing - yes, they'd have to endure another patois-accented mangling of Green Eggs and Ham - while I munched on fussy appetizers and sipped chardonnay, and return home late with my full report.

I took the downtown R train and headed for Chambers Street. I was looking forward to a night out solo; and with a downtown Tribeca crowd in attendance, it was bound to be an interesting party. Although our kids attend public school, this particular crowd ranked fairly high on the big-shot meter. A hugely-popular public school, many dowtown parents, regardless of their resources, enrolled their kids here before shipping them off to private school after 5th grade. You never know who you're going to bump into at the PTA.

For starters, our hosts for the evening were an Assistant United States Attorney, lauded for his high-profile prosecutions of violent mob and gang activity, and his lovely wife, a Deputy District Attorney in the Special Victims Unit in Manhattan. Our youngest daughter had immediately bonded with their twin girls during the first few weeks of kindergarten. Likewise, the Editor-in-Chief of a major publishing house and her writer husband were there -- she immediately asked for Peter when I came in the door, which made me smile. Let's just say that reading isn't one of my husband's past times, yet this publishing powerhouse was looking forward to shooting the breeze with him.

Around me were heavyweights of all sorts -- an art gallery representative for a well-known German artist, the star of an HBO drama series, a fashion model, several architects and more lawyers than one would ever hope to convene outside a courthouse. As a couple, I suppose you could call us the poor, country cousins from the East Village; no six-figure income for us. But what we lacked in economic status, we more than made up for with our artsy-international vibe. I was glad to meet some of these moms and dads for the first time, after hearing so much about their children from my daughter and my husband and, it turns out, many were curious to see just who WAS Haille's mommy.

The dining room table was set up buffet-style, full of plates of the usual potluck fare -- pastas, elaborate salads, crudites, cheese and crackers. Much of the food, although appealing, appeared to have been prepared and purchased at a local Food Emporium or Whole Foods. Good stuff, not inexpensive, but not home-made. A statuesque, dark-haired woman with wire-framed glasses stood across the table from me, perusing the choices. She looked up and smiled, introducing herself as "Suzanne, Elizabeth's mom." She wore a formal business suit, clearly having come to the party straight from work. I introduced myself and agreed that everything "looked so tasty." I put down my shopping bag and lifted out the ceramic pot and heaved it up onto the table.

"Well, here's another tasty addition, Suzanne. Authentic, home-made Jamaican curried chicken." I lifted the lid and she took a peek inside.

"Woooow," she said. "That smells SO good. Did your Nanny make it?"


She didn't really ask me that. Yes. She did.

I blinked at her, uncertain what to say for a few seconds. It was the harsh reminder of the world I was now moving in, a world where nearly every couple held two high-powered jobs, working long hours to pay for their enormous loft apartment and the vacation house in the country, and the Lexus SUV. And kept a Nanny or part-time babysitter on staff to chauffeur their children to and/or from school, feed them their dinner and put them to bed.


"No," I smiled, "my husband made it. He's Jamaican and an excellent cook."

Now it was Suzanne's turn to blink, speechless. Her cheeks reddened and she sputtered, "Oh, well, I can't wait to try it," and she heaped a few spoonfuls of the saffron-colored chicken chunks onto her plate. And quickly backed away from the table, nodding and smiling.

No, I had not married your typical downtown big shot. Not a lawyer nor an investment banker, not a gallery owner nor a film producer. I married a down-to-earth country man, from rural Jamaica. He had little formal education nor worldly experience. He was old school, rootsman skanking. No three-piece suits nor flashy sports cars, no summers in the Hamptons nor winters at Vail. We could never afford a nanny.

Nor would we ever want to have one.

That was the compromise we made.We'd live off of my salary, sufficient but not hefty, and my husband agreed to be the stay-at-home parent and work a menial part-time job. We struggle, but we survive and we both spend more hours with our kids than most of the couples I met at that party. Combined. Not a judgment, but a choice.

The rest of the party was a blur. I met many other parents, some of whom would turn out to be long-lasting friends. Before too long, the wine was gone, the chicken curry pot was scraped clean right to the bottom and it was time to call it a night.

I headed for the subway, lugging the shopping bag with the now-empty curry pot, and got on the train back uptown to the East Village. It was late for a week night, past 10pm, and the train was pretty empty.

A tall, well-built, dark-haired man followed me onto the train and sat on the bench directly opposite me. I glanced up at him briefly and then did a double take. He smiled at me briefly, one of those closed-mouth quick flashes of a smile and then he looked away. He knew I'd recognized him despite the five-o-clock shadow and the forgettable, comfortable clothes. He was dressed down, just khakis, a tee shirt and a worn-out pair of Converse. I knew instantly, unmistakably, that it was him.

It was Big.

Yes, it was. It was Mr. Big. You know who I mean. And if you don't, you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years.

He was the bigshot who epitomized the zeitgeist of our generation in New York City in the mid 2000s. He was Carrie's dream man. And her disappointment. He was smart and sexy, ambitious and cynical, wealthy and powerful. And kept letting her down. You had to love, and hate, Mr. Big. We had hoped he and Carrie would work it out in the end, but the exquisite pain of the journey was, indeed, what gripped us. Would they or wouldn't they?

And there he was, sitting just a few feet across from me and my empty pot of chicken curry on the uptown R train. Without the HBO-issued Prada suits nor Cohiba cigars, he didn't cut quite the same figure but, still. It WAS Big. God damn Mr. Big.

How many single women who tuned in each week, were looking for love and longed for their own Mr. Big? Or, at least, a Mr. Big who would commit and settle down and make all their dreams come true? They'd have the enormous loft in Tribeca or the Junior 4 on Park Avenue, the country house in Bridgehampton, the Beemer or Benz, the beautiful Polo-ad kids. And the Nanny.

They would have hit it Big alright.

But would Big know how to give the babies a bath if you weren't home? Or prepare a bush-tea concoction from scratch to calm an upset infant's belly? Or have a huge pot of curried chicken waiting for you on the stove, after your long, hard day at work? Probably not.

So, goodnight, Mr. Big, nice seeing you but this is my stop. I got off the train and looked over my shoulder as Mr. Big continued on uptown. My rootsman skanking, top-ranking, was waiting for me and I had a full evening's story to tell.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Road Trip

On the road, no paper nor paint, just the phone painting app.......not too shabby. Can even post to the blog via phone. Keepin' it short.........couple new stories on the way.

Keep driving, king.

Waaaayyyy outta here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pretty Garbage

While walking home yesterday, I spotted a young couple cramming junk and debris into pink and black polka-dotted garbage bags in front of the BBQ on St. Mark's Place and 2nd Avenue. I didn't think much of it and kept walking. It's the East Village and after 20+ years of living here, nothing surprises me anymore, certainly not all kinds of garbage on the sidewalk.

But when I spotted, so to speak, another pink polka-dotted garbage bag at the townhouse next door, I knew something was up. I snapped a pic with my phone and moved along. I could see more pink blobs in the distance and kept my phone at the ready. Sure enough, the enitre block of St. Mark's place was littered, so to speak once more, with these artful garbage bags. The bags were primarily pink with black spots or metallic gold spots but some bags were white with similar polka dots. It brightened up the trash a bit, I have to admit.

So, whassup with that? Read all about it here. It is a self-described "vivid art intervention for urban beautification and environmental awareness." Hmm, maybe so.

You're welcome.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Driving While Black. Or How Granny Meg Got Car-jacked in The Bronx and Lived to Tell the Tale

It's been a wild ride from jump street for this little old lady from Connecticut.

From the moment she stepped off the plane in Jamaica 16 years ago, and a slim, dreadlocked and smiling man embraced her as if he'd known her all his life -- "Welcome to Jamaica, Mommy" -- right up to her granddaughter's warm embrace during Grandparent's Weekend at an elite boarding school in New England a few weeks ago, Granny Meg has had son-in-law stories unlike any of the other ladies in her bridge club.

I have to give her credit, she can roll like no other Granny I know. She and my husband have butted heads on occasion, usually in her kitchen, squabbling over the best way to keep it tidy. He has annoyed her with his surreptitious plantings in the geranium pots on her deck. She, in turn, has resisted learning patois and will turn to me, ignoring his rapid-fire response to her question about making him a sandwich. "So, what did he say, is he hungry nor not?" she drawls, arms folded across her chest.

But they have also bonded in a charming, albeit irritating, manner. They revel in their shared annoyance at my shortcomings, for example. "She lazy in de kitchen, Granny Meg, she nah like fi clean up after herself." "Oh, she's ALWAYS been that way, Peter. I don't know where she gets it from." Then they smile smugly at me. They also smile at their shared absolute adoration of our children. They enjoy taking an afternoon stroll together through Costco, loading up their shopping cart, buying big.

They cut quite a picture when they are together. He is black, about 5'10", not including his high pile of dreads on top of his head, thin but muscular, with an easy gait. Petite and fair, Granny Meg used to be 5'6" but age has shrunken her by a couple of inches. She weighs in at about 95 lbs., soaking wet, and wears her silvery-white hair cut quite short. She is the Sparrow to his Raven, birds of a-slightly-different-hued feather, they both love to shop together.

And let's not forget their shared enthusiasm for a good party. It's 5 o'clock, eh, Granny Meg? And they have a laugh while busting open the liquor cabinet and exchanging thoughts on their preferences for the evening to come.

And it was just such a party, or at least the promise of such, that turned on our derring duo and gave them yet another opportunity to bond without me.

Granny Meg just can not stand to drive into Manhattan.So her dutiful son-in-law makes the long Metro North train ride to her nearest station where she meets him with her car. He'll slide behind the wheel and drive them both back into Manhattan. After her visit, he'll do the whole trip in reverse, driving her back to Connecticut and then hopping back on the train to come home.

And so it came to pass that my husband took the train out of Grand Central Station not too long ago with a rasta bredren from the Bahamas in tow, to go fetch Granny Meg. He and Harry, aka "Harry Pottah", arrived at the country train station right on schedule. Granny Meg waved to them from across the parking lot and they all piled into her car. Peter slid in behind the driver's seat, while Granny Meg rode shotgun, of course. Harry Pottah climbed into the back seat.

Picture it. Ray Charles could see where this story is going.

Much of the ride was uneventful. Except, of course, for Granny Meg telling Peter , "slow down, you are driving MUCH too fast." When she said it loudly enough, he would laugh softly and drop his speed. As they approached the towering high-rises of Co-op City in the Bronx, the traffic thickened, and Peter changed lanes quickly, swerving to avoid a slower vehicle.

According to Granny Meg, "That's when all hell broke loose."

The wail of a police siren grew louder as it approached them from behind. Looking in the rear view passenger-side mirror, Granny Meg saw a NY State Police cruiser pull up closely behind them, lights flashing.

“Are they after us?” she asked, worried.

“I think so, Granny Meg.” The cruiser signaled them to pull way over to the shoulder on the right.

One of the cops approached the driver's side of the car and asked Peter for his license, which he duly surrendered. What Granny Meg didn't realize was that Peter does not have a valid NY State driver's license. He still carries his Jamaican license, even after 15 years of living in the states. We don't own a car here so it hasn't been much of an issue. Car rental companies, accustomed to foreign visitors, tend to look the other way.

But the police officer took one look at the Jamaican license, took another long look at the driver, the little silver-haired white lady in the front seat and the quietly brooding dread in the backseat -- and paused for a moment.

"Please step out of the car sir, and come with me." Peter smiled and casually strode across the pavement to the cruiser parked behind them. This was certainly not the first time he'd been pulled over by the po-po. Hell, it was probably more like the one-hundredth time.

Granny Meg, on the other hand, has never been stopped by the police in her entire life. She and Harry Pottah had no choice but to sit quietly while the cops grilled her son-in-law. For nearly 45 minutes. According to Granny Meg, "Naturally, Peter looked as relaxed as ever, leaning against a fence with one foot up against the police car."

It seems the cops spent most of that time accessing their criminal database searching for the undoubtedly-extensive rap sheet of their suspect. Except, of course, that he doesn't have an extensive rap sheet. He has no criminal record at all. Unconvinced, and certain that they had intercepted a car-jacking in progress, one officer strode back to the car, approaching Granny Meg's window. The Bad Cop stayed with the suspect, the Good Cop would handle the old lady.

"Do you know this man, ma'am?" he asked, gesturing to Peter.

“Of course I do," she said, indignant but nervous. "He’s my son in law.” Seriously.

Clearly believing that she'd been intimidated or threatened not to reveal the truth about the criminal enterprise that was clearly underway, he responded, "Well then, ma'am, can you tell me his name?"

And so she did. The officer raised his eyebrows slightly at her answer.

What she also did not realize was that Peter had obtained his Jamaican driver's license through a typically sketchy island fashion; and it was issued using his middle name, Antony. There was no mention of "Peter" on the license.

"So, you claim that he's your son-in-law. Well, do you know his address, ma'am?"

By this time, Granny Meg was so worried and frazzled, she gave the the address but switched the street number with our building number. It was all ass-backwards. She stammered, "No, wait, I gave that to you wrong. You have gotten me SO nervous I can't think straight." He told her not to be nervous, but that he wanted some more information about "Peter." She calmed down and collected herself, provided his age and also remembered his birthday, which is April 20th.

The Good Cop went back to his cruiser and, according to Granny Meg, "Suddenly Peter was at my window saying the police wanted my registration for the car and my license." She handed Peter the registration but while the two of them searched inside her wallet, tugging back and forth, for the license, they tipped the wallet upside down. Granny Meg had gone to the bank that morning, in anticipation of her trip, and gasped as the $400 in small bills she had withdrawn from the bank were now blowing across Interstate 95.

Seeing fifties and twenties swirling in the air, Harry Pottah quickly came to life. He clambered out of the back seat and chased after the fluttering bills, dodging traffic. Passersby even stopped to help - a strange car stopped on the opposite shoulder and a woman stepped out, picked up a bill and quickly made her way across to Granny Meg in her car. "Here," she said handing Granny Meg a fifty. "I think this must be yours."

Surprisingly, Granny Meg was able to recover almost all of her cash but her stress level had taken another shot into the upper stratosphere. The Good Cop approached Granny Meg again and summoned her over to the cruiser where her son-in-law stood. Now The Bad Cop spoke.

Addressing Peter, he said, "First, you don’t have a valid New York State Driver's license. And you have lied to us repeatedly."

"Oh, no, Peter would not have lied to you. Never," interrupted Granny Meg. The Bad Cop silenced her with a glare.

The Bad Cop went on to cite the discrepancy regarding the name on his license and the name his "alleged mother-in-law" had supplied. Likewise with the birth date, apparently. You see, when they asked Peter to provide his birthday, he pronounced the words "April twentieth" but it comes out sounding like "April twenty-ate." It's all in the accent, no t-h sound. But not to the cops -- Bingo, another lie, they say. And presumably Granny Meg's mangling of his home address was seen as yet another deception.

It all looked very suspicious to both Good Cop and Bad Cop. They simply could not fathom why this trio could be up to anything other than trouble. And they hadn't even yet begun a search for information on Harry Pottah.

"How come, if you've been in Ameica for 15 years, you don't have any record in our system, huh?" Bad Cop asked Peter. As if it were unbelievable that he could actually be a law-abiding citizen. Or law-abiding green-card holder, in this case.

Peter just shrugged and laughed, "Because mi nah commit no crime, chief. Yuh nah go fine mi name inna dat system. Seemple."

"He is NOT a criminal. He is my son-in-law and we just want to get to Manhattan and see my daughter and my grandchildren." Now that she had recovered some of her nerve, Granny Meg was getting angry.

The Bad Cop turned to her again, annoyed at this little sparrow and whose role in this whole scenario clearly troubled him. She may as well have been Ma Barker, at this point, as far as he could tell. He was mystified. "Well he DID make an illegal lane change and we're giving him a ticket for that," he said, with some satisfaction. He turned back to Peter, "And you don't have a New York State license which is required after becoming a New York resident. And you were over the speed limit." He handed Peter the three tickets.

He then turned to Granny Meg for a final comment. "Get in the driver's side of the car, ma'am." She was taken aback.

"You want ME to drive”?

“YOU drive the car or you will be towed.”

She sputtered and complained that she was an older woman in her 80s, that she had never driven into Manhattan in her life and didn't want to start now. But he would have none of it.

“Lady, you drive, or your car will be towed.” It was clear they would monitor their departure, even follow them for several miles if necessary, to make certain she did the driving.

She spoke very quietly and said, “You know, you are not really being very kind.” Yeah, she really put him in his place, no? So much for Ma Barker.

They filed back to the car. Granny Meg reluctantly got behind the wheel and Peter guided her the rest of the way into Manhattan. Harry Pottah muttered to himself in the backseat, about New York cops always "going after the little guys." They rolled onto our block 2 hours later than expected.

All in all, given the enormous cost of the 3 tickets, we would have been better served arranging for a limo to take Granny Meg to and from New York for the party. But her adventure gave her yet one more priceless son-in-law story to share with her bridge group back in Connecticut.

And now this tiny, old white lady from Connecticut has experienced D.W.B. first hand. Another wild ride with the man she no longer considers her son-in-law.

No. She considers him her son.