(ThyBlackMan.com) Once upon a time long ago, a Yardie (working class Jamaican) and his cousin from America took in the show at Crossroads Theatre in Kingston. The moviehouse was cavernous. Tier upon tier of seats stretched up to a ceiling high as a cathedral.
The screen was a gargantuan affair about an acre in area, or so it seemed. Yankee and Yardie sat in the very first row and settled back, looking up. They were commercials, the same ones shown on Jamaican TV, one after the other after the other. But the people didn’t mind. On the contrary, they laughed till they cried.
Yankee especially liked the one with the tall, dark man clad in tight, blue jeans and blue flowered shirt who walked into the drugstore and loudly proclaimed, “Panthers!”
And the clerk placed the blue pack of condoms with the roaring Panther emblem on the counter. The young man didn’t hurry to pick them up and sheepishly shove them in his pocket. Instead, he gave the camera time to come in for a close up, then he slowly picked them up and stalked out of the store and paraded down the street tall and proud.
It was a Karate flick. They were the principal staple in the Jamaican moviegoer’s diet. The authorities banned gunplay in the movies and TV. They felt that much of the reason for the sudden upsurge in gun crimes lay in the portrayal of violence on the screen. Needless to say, something was needed to satisfy the bloodlust of the populace. Enter the Karate films to neatly fill the bill.
Cops and robbers but without the weapons. This one a virtual U.N. of karate heroes. A Chinese, a Black and a white karate masterjamaican-american-flag-2015 battled a mad, one-hand·ed ·Korean scientist/karate master and his karate-chopping band of followers. The crowd howled like children thoroughly wrapped up in the spell of the movie.
Shouts of,”Rass Claat!”, “Lick him, mon . Lick him!”, “GGood, Good!” punctuated the flurries of blows delivered by hands, feet and heads as the plot swiftly unfolded . Yardie was up there with the rest of them, moaning and groaning when the heroes were in trouble, and cheering wildly when they were on top. The crowd would even break into applause.
Yankee soon found there was no escaping the mood. He became infected with the crowd’s exuberance, their simple, honest spirit as he cheered loudly too in spite of himself.
Suddenly the lights began to flicker on like a blackout in reverse.
Then they blazed into life washing out the images on the screen as the sound track went dead. A shouting man ran to the front of the theatre waving a big, black gun. As with one voice, the two thousand gasped. Yankee didn’t know what was happening. “This is it, Jack! This is it!” said the voice in his head.
The guy with the big gun shouted something Yankee could not understand as waved the gun in their faces, literally in their faces. Yankee and Yardie were sitting up front.
“Don’t move!” ·were two words Yankee caught this time. He Yankee did not breathe. Then he noticed that the man wore a black beret and green khaki fatigues. He wore glasses too, black hornrims . He was a soldier, but what was he going to do?
“Oh shit! Oh shit ! Oh shit!” he solemnly intoned. He thought the soldier had chased somebody inside in a running gun battle, next he thought he was arresting the entire moviehouse. He slowly turned and saw soldiers all over, walking up and down the aisles, guns drawn . They pulled men out of the audience at random and searched them. Well, not quite at random. They concentrated on those with woolen caps covering bulky dreadlocks.
Yankee sat bolt upright, expecting a firefight to erupt. Yardie seemed to take it in stride, slumping back down into his seat. One poor fellow was searched three times and when at last he objected, they shoved him about and called over an officer. The man was searched again. Each time, he was ordered to stand they would rip his cap off and run their hands roughly through his Medusa’s locks. Searching for sticks of ganja?
One Indian-looking fellow was pushed to the center aisle and ordered to the rear· of the theatre to a group of waiting soldiers. He walked sullenly, like a boy caught misbehaving at assembly. Only thing was, though, he wasn ‘t going to detention but off to jail.
Finally, a five row section of the theatre was singled out, and all the men and boys therein ordered to stand against the wall. They were thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly, searched.
After that the soldiers left, the lights went ·out and the film continued. Yankee, though, had had enough of the film, Enter the Dragon after experiencing Enter the Soldiers.
“Look man, maybe we should just get the hell out of here!” said Yankee.
“No I wouldn’t do that“, his cousin cautioned.
“Why not? I don’t want to see no movies after that!”·.
“Thas not a good idea. You see da soljers dem is probly waitin’ outside right now to spot whoever should decide to get up and leave .
They’ll question them and search them too.”
“Oh man!” Yankee groaned.
“Yeah, mon. That is how them do them tings. Yeah, mon, dis is nothing. Dem is always raiding the movie theatres.”
“Jesus Christ“, Yankee hissed, as he settled down to once again watch the make-believe variation of the cops and robbers theme, minus the guns on screen but with rifles pointed at your head for real. . .
(Excerpt from THE JAMERICAN a forthcoming ebook by Wendell Scott and Arthur Lewin)
Staff Writer; Arthur Lewin
This talented author has just published a NEW book which is entitled; AFRICA is not A COUNTRY!.
For more articles written by this talented brother click on the following link; http://thyblackman.com/?s=lewin.