Red, Gold, Black, & Blue: Jonathan Mack, a Trinidadian émigré who came to Cal in 1999 to play rugby, now makes his living promoting Angel Magik, a popular monthly reggae party at the Shattuck Down Low. Known by his stage name DJ Jah-Kno, Mack sells himself as a community builder. He slips into a West Indian accent when he says Jah-Kno, and concludes his sentences with question marks: "I started doing Angel Magik ... my whole purpose was to create a new vibe? And a new culture?" While he depends on the shows to pay the bills, he insists he does it mostly for the love. Still, the promoter tends to stick his head in the sand on certain issues namely, that a lot of the artists he promotes don't share his professed views about "community building" at all.
It's no secret that many reggae artists are virulently homophobic; some even go so far as to promote murdering gays. Take Buju Banton, whose "Boom Bye Bye" goes: Boom bye bye/inna batty bwoy head/Rude bwoy no promote no nasty man/Dem haffi dead. (Rough translation: Gays should be shot in the head.) Mack, who must have forgotten the controversy over a prospective Beenie Man show at the Down Low last year, booked Banton for Angel Magik's fifth anniversary, a move that got local gay and lesbian activists up in arms. The show might have been a boon for Mack, who boasts that his e-mails alone reach about eighty thousand reggae fans. Instead, he lost about $20,000 in actual and "potential" money, he says.
Evidently, you just can't mess with Bay Area LGBT activists. After they got his show 86ed from two San Francisco clubs the 1,200-capacity Mezzanine and the approximately 1,500-capacity Sound Factory Mack settled on Oakland's Historic Sweet's Ballroom, which accommodates 900. Sweet's general manager Steve Snider sealed the deal September 25, at which point Mack shelled out for new fliers and a revised full-page color ad in the Bay Guardian.
Last Wednesday, however, Snider got a call from Barbara Killey, Oakland's administrative hearing officer. She said the planned event was highly controversial and would need a special events permit. By that time, Snider was already getting swamped with protest e-mails about Banton. Although the reggae star released "Boom Bye Bye" in 1992, it appears his sensibilities haven't changed much. Indeed, he performed his shoot-the-gay-guy-in-the-head ditty this past May in Miami.
Snider met with Killey, Oakland Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, Sweet's owner Matthew Fox, and Sergeant Pete Espinoza, head of special events for the Oakland Police Department. The officials ruled out a special events permit, apparently fearing a brawl between gay protesters and weed-smoking dreadheads. Case closed.
Mack went ballistic. He sent out e-mail blasts presenting himself, Banton, and all reggae fans as victims of gay crusaders: "JUST AS THE LGBT COMMUNITY CAN GAIN POWER THROUGH A MASS VOICE!!!!! IT IS TIME WE THE REGGAE COMMUNITY, THE WEST INDIAN COMMUNITY AND ANYONE WHO LOVES THE FREEDOM OF CARIBBEAN MUSIC ... STAND UP!!!!"
He quoted barely comprehensible Banton lyrics to argue that the artist has turned over a new leaf. Apparently not, says local LGBT activist and promoter Joe Hawkins, who runs ClubRimShot.com. "I was kinda confused as to whether he was really homophobic or just misunderstood," Hawkins says. "I wanted to talk to Buju Banton on my Web site. I said if he's feeling like what people are saying is a lie, why not talk directly to the gay community. ... At first the promoter was gonna set it up, but then he changed his mind."
In the end, Mack moved festivities to the Down Low and sent out his final e-mail blast Saturday afternoon. Activists tried appealing to the Down Low at the last minute, but the club wouldn't hear any of it, Hawkins says.
The show was beautiful, reports Mack, who says he sold about six hundred tickets. Banton went onstage around eleven and performed until about 1:30 a.m. "They spent the entire time congratulating us for making the show happen, and saying 'Yo, just keep the fire burning,'" Mack says. He castigates Nadel for, as he puts it, "saying that one voice is bigger than another. Nobody's protesting the Catholic church for being against homosexuals," he says. "But they're stopping a big voice in the Rastafarian community. That's reverse bigotry. That is racism. Oakland and Nancy Nadel have oppressed the community."
Hawkins demurs. "This is not a white-black thing," he says. "That's one thing they have to understand. It's not an anti-reggae dancehall thing; it's an anti-hate thing. Let me say that as a nightclub promoter I play dancehall and reggae all the time. So I am part of the reggae community." Rachel Swan
This Is Your GOP. This Is Your GOP Masturbating. Any Questions?: Although our paper of record (i.e., the Chronicle) has reported daily on the scandal surrounding former GOP Congressman Mark Foley, it has neglected to tell us - apart from a few relatively tame excerpts published October 5 - what Foley actually said to an underage congressional page in an exchange it now appears may sink the Republican leadership. This is reminiscent of the 2 Live Crew scandal, in which a rap group's nasty lyrics were the subject of Congressional hearings and national debate about moral decline, and yet the daily papers largely failed to publish the lyrics in question to let readers judge for themselves.
Reporter Mark Sandalow did link from the Chron's political blog to an ABC News transcript of the lurid 2003 exchange, which ABC posted September 29. For those who haven't seen it, it's quality reading - a fine insight into the twisted hypocrisy of our elected officials. Here's a significant excerpt. Maf54 is allegedly Foley. The former page is Xxxxxxxxx. For easier reading, we edited out most of the Internet messaging time stamps. Michael Mechanic
Maf54 (7:33:39 PM): i am in pensecola...had to catch a plane
Xxxxxxxxx: oh well thats fun
Xxxxxxxxx: what are you doing in pensecola
Maf54: now in my hotel room
Xxxxxxxxx: well ..like why did you go there
Maf54: for the campaign
Xxxxxxxxx: have you officialy announced yt
Maf54: not yet
Xxxxxxxxx: cool cool...
Maf54: how my favorite young stud doing
Xxxxxxxxx: tired and sore
Xxxxxxxxx: i didnt no waltzing could make you sore
Maf54: from what
Xxxxxxxxx: what do you mean from what
Xxxxxxxxx: from waltzing...im sore from waltzing
Maf54: tahts good
Maf54: you need a massage
Maf54 signed off at 7:39:37 PM.
Maf54 signed on at 7:40:35 PM.
Xxxxxxxxx: got kicked off?
Maf54: must have
Xxxxxxxxx: ugh tomorrow i have the first day of lacrosse practice
Maf54: love to watch that
Maf54: those great legs running
Xxxxxxxxx: haha...they arent great
Xxxxxxxxx: thats why we have conditioning
Xxxxxxxxx: 2 days running....3 days lifting
Xxxxxxxxx: every week
Xxxxxxxxx: until the end of march
Maf54: well dont ruin my mental picture
Xxxxxxxxx: oh lol...sorry
Maf54: youll be way hot then
Maf54: better be
Maf54: well I better let you go do oyur thing
Xxxxxxxxx: oh ok
Xxxxxxxxx: have fun campaigning
Xxxxxxxxx: or however you spell it
Xxxxxxxxx: ill see ya in a couple of weeks
Maf54: did any girl give you a haand job this weekend
Xxxxxxxxx: lol no
Xxxxxxxxx: im single right now
Xxxxxxxxx: my last gf and i broke up a few weeks agi
Maf54: are you
Maf54: good so your getting horny
Xxxxxxxxx: lol...a bit
Maf54: did you spank it this weekend yourself
Xxxxxxxxx: been too tired and too busy
Maf54: i am never to busy haha
Maf54: or tired..helps me sleep
Xxxxxxxxx: thats true
Xxxxxxxxx: havent been having a problem with sleep though.. i just walk in the door and collapse well at least this weekend
Maf54: i am sure
Xxxxxxxxx: i dont do it very often normally though
Maf54: why not
Maf54: at your age seems like it would be daily
Xxxxxxxxx: not me
Xxxxxxxxx: im not a horn dog
Xxxxxxxxx: maybe 2 or 3 times a week
Maf54: thats a good number
Maf54: in the shower
Xxxxxxxxx: actually usually i dont do it in the shower
Xxxxxxxxx: just cause i shower in the morning
Xxxxxxxxx: and quickly
Maf54: in the bed
Xxxxxxxxx: i get up at 530 and am outta the house by 610
Xxxxxxxxx: eh ya
Maf54: on your back
Xxxxxxxxx: no face down
Maf54: love details
Xxxxxxxxx: i see that
Maf54: do you really do it face down
Xxxxxxxxx: well i dont use my hand...i use the bed itself
Maf54: where do you unload it
Maf54: completely naked?
Xxxxxxxxx: well ya
Maf54: very nice
Maf54: cute butt bouncing in the air
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