My Night of Seriously Hilarious Karaoke

Last week when meeting some new people, I was invited to watch a Karaoke League competition.

Karaoke LEAGUE? I thought. Since when do people compete at karaoke? In a league?

I was told that it’s serious business. To the point that it almost sucks the fun out of karaoke. But that’s what also makes it so hilarious.

So, I said I was down. Not to sing. But to spectate.

Last night I headed to Midtown, and found Pulse Karaoke right next to Bryant Park. The bouncer was nice and a little flirty. The bartender quick with the drinks and queuing up the songs. Oh, did I mention it has open bar everyday from 6-7pm? Then it goes to buy one get one free for a little bit after that. I guess you gotta have good deals on liquid courage if you’re in the business of karaoke, no?

While I was rolling deep with a bunch of Koreans, I was surprised to see the rest of the club was pretty diverse. All kinds of people were there.

Before the competition began, the floor was open for everyone. Someone killed an Anita Baker song. And not in a good way. Once I got comfortable at our table, this Black man got up and sang “Ain’t Too Proud To Bed” by the Temptations. Great selection. His tone was  beautiful, and I thought I wanted to marry David Ruffin on the spot 🙂

After a few more karaoke failures happened, my girl asked me if I wanted to sing with her. She said she loves R&B and you already know I’m an R&B girl, so why not? I couldn’t be worse than these other people.

After flipping through the book thinking of some of our favorite R&B artists, we settled on “Golden” by Jill Scott. This song was perfect. It would allow me to belt out my notes, move fast to a beat, and I had a partner to carry me if I got too shy all of a sudden. Usually when I do karaoke, I choose rap songs (salt N pepa, Jay-Z, word up!)…but I could be talked into a Jill Scott track.

Nobody really cared about who was singing at this point, which was GREAT. The stage at Pulse Karaoke is really nice. Between the screens, the lighting, the decor and the mics, you almost feel like you’re famous. “David Ruffin” seemed to be enjoying my singing and told me later I did a good job. 😉

I’m pretty sure I have fallen in love with karaoke because it allows me to pretend I’m some some singing superstar, even though I know full well I am always off key, pitchy and just flat out wrong when I’m singing. But I don’t care. Karaoke beats my other stage–my shower–and there’s nobody in my shower to appreciate all this singing goodness I have in me.

He was rapping to Lil Kim's "The Jumpoff"

Once the competition got started, you could see people were really serious. People had props. Most of the men dressed up as women and sang gay anthems. One chick sang a heavy metal song which I was a bit confused about. Either way, I spent the next 90 minutes in stitches. I haven’t laughed that much, for so long, in a while.

Karaoke league is not a game. I don’t think I’m ready for the pressure, but I do think everyone needs more karaoke in their life. I’m almost tempted to have a karaoke party for my birthday or something. I can’t decide which is better though: private rooms or the public stage. There’s something spectacular about watching strangers make fools of themselves.

Haiti Update: Meeting My Team & Logistical Details x Needs

Last Friday I finally met the team of doctors and medical students I am traveling to Haiti with come December. Even though I agreed to go on this trip back in September, I hadn’t actually met anyone going besides my friend who told me about the opportunity. I was only communicating to team leaders via email.

What a beautiful group of people! Passionate. Diverse. Just awesome. Doctors, medical students, non-med students and non-medical professionals. Undergrads, medical students, and professionals. Asian, White, Black and everything in between. And this is just the NYC-area team.

So, about my previous October 15th fundraising deadline. Apparently we are still allowed to fund raise until December 1 if donors want to give and be eligible for a tax-deductible donation. We just had to turn in whatever we had by October 15th so our planning team had tangible funds to purchase medical supplies and make logistical plans for the trip. So…keep the donations coming 🙂 I think I might will put up another ChipIn widget to raise more money.

Several people going this year went last year, so they have experience on their side. We plan to spend 3 or 4 days in Port-Salut, Haiti, then another 3 or 4 days in Port-au-Prince. We have a triage system in place and, if my memory serves me correctly, the process for patients will go as such:

  1. Enter the intake area that records demographic info and records symptoms
  2. Proceed to the triage area where medical staff will diagnoses/determine what kind of care the patient needs, and prioritize the order of patient care
  3. See a doctor/medical staff for treatment; surgery may be administered if necessary
  4. Go to the pharmacy for meds distribution
  5. Visit the donation area to get clothing, shoes, etc.

We’re thinking of creating a dedicated (but totally optional) area for prayer, and while this is not required in order to get medical care, we think it is good to have a dedicated area for those who may want some comfort and prayer.

Last year, I believe the team treated 1,100 patients, but said there were many many more people who were never treated. In fact, there is a sentiment that we’ll run out of medical supplies so quickly, we’ll have to ration out our supplies in the early days in order to make sure we don’t run out by the end of the week. I can only imagine what medical needs are like now, post-earthquake.

In addition, the team said last year that the children of Haiti are especially in need of medical care. They said that for the first few days they only treated children because they had the most immediate medical needs, and were the ones in line suffering with the worst ailments. We usually have someone monitoring the line, looking to identify those who look the most in need (i.e. unresponsive, passed out, extremely weak), and those individuals tended to be children.

My heart aches for the children of Haiti. At our meeting I learned that we won’t be distributing food during our time there. It would be great if we could serve the children Plumpy’nut, which is a proven anti-malnutrition food supplement. It’s kind of like a magic energy bar that combats malnutrition. Our team leaders are already at capacity with planning though, and we’re not sure if this is feasible for us to add to our plate, given our human and financial resources. I don’t know. I might see if I can figure out a way to help in this area. From what I gather, the amount of children that hang around our mobile medical unit is fairly significant. I would really like to serve them by providing food.

Some other needs:

  • Medical and nursing textbooks. If you went to nursing school or medical school and don’t need/want your old textbooks, PLEASE consider sending them to me for our trip. Part of our trip includes working alongside Haitian medical students and staff. They could really use textbooks, as information and knowledge-sharing is part of our service during this trip.
  • Attending doctors. If you or someone you know is an attending doctor, we are looking for more to go on the trip with us. Dates of travel are Dec 26 – Jan 2.
  • Clothing. We will be taking clothes and shoes to Haiti in our luggage for our donation area. Please contact me if you’d like to send something along and I’ll give you an address to mail to.
  • Plumpy’nut. Yeah so, I want to give the children Plumpy’nut but I have no idea where to get it, who has it, and how we would distribute it. If you know ANYthing about the distribution of Plumpy’nut in Haiti, please let me know. I am going to do my own research on this, of course, but I could use some hints, connects or heads up 🙂 Like I said, I don’t know everyone very well (yet) on my trip, so I still have to approach them about this and see what they know as well.

Anyway, that’s an update on Haiti. More later.

NY-Z

I’m finally getting around to watching NY-Z (heads up by the apropos LateBoots), a documentary short, nee super-commercial, produced by ABSOLUT. It premiered on their Facebook Fan page this week. (Nice lil digital campaign they’ve got going there.)

It’s beautiful.

Right round the 10:45 minute mark I realized Jigga is entering a party at Rocawear that I attended last Fall (I was covering it for TheLoop21). You can read my piece about that party here. I was wondering what all those cameras were for, lol. I guess this explains the super stealth security/waiver signatures/mug shot process I went through before going up to Rocawear (usually you can just walk right in the building). This was definitely one of my more memorable nights in NYC.

Enjoy.

A Tale of Two Cities

Today is my last day in LA, and I must admit I’m a bit sad about it. Since I have been here (since November!) I accumulated a little life. I first came here just for the holiday season, that rolled into going to the GRAMMYs, which rolled into seeing my doctor, going upstate to see my college BFF, and that finally rolled into going to SXSW. And here we are. I have to pack up all my things, ship some things back to NYC (finally, I’m able to pull my Wii from the hard cold hands of my little brother!) and get going.

It’s tough.

I thought I was mentally and emotionally prepared to go until it came time to pack up my things. Now it’s like that time I moved to NYC last year: I know I’ll be coming back to LA, but I don’t know when?

It’s not as if I’m not looking forward to living in NYC. I miss my friends, I miss the City, I miss my roommate, I miss my bed. But I know when I get to NYC I’ll look back at LA and I’ll miss my car, I’ll miss my family, I’ll miss the beach weather, I’ll miss all the clean and orderly Target stores.

I just feel a bit torn, and I guess living bicoastally has me feeling torn, constantly. Cue Natalie Imbruglia.

No sense in dwelling on it though. Just gotta do it and see what happens next!