November 10, 2007

Florida Pimp Bling
Hallandale Beach, United States

I just don't get it.

Jamaican slang that has been adopted by some African American rappers and inserted into popular culture. The term "Bling Bling" refers to the imaginary sound that is produced from light reflected by a diamond, or the sound that goes along with the cartoon gleam of a pretty teeth. Often takes the form of flashy or ostentatious jewelery, which may be expensive but is commonly cheap, used to give the impression of wealth.

One Urban Dictionary writer contributes:

The word "bling" refers to any unnecessary accumulation of metal or jewelery which impresses the simple-minded. Examples of bling-related activity include: driving a car with shiny platinum rims, arriving at a movie premiere in a hat made of glittering diamonds, or pointing at a big block of gold and cooing away for hours on end like an unforgivable moron whose mere existence ultimately cheapens us all. Bling is the single most shallow, boring and willfully superficial cultural phenomenon ever to excite humankind, which is saying something for a species already hooked on Internet poker.

Tatiana and I took a quick trip over to The Mall at 163rd Street. I guess this mall is suppose to be scary or taboo for white people, as it's been labeled ghetto (though interestingly it was the first mall in the United States to use Teflon-coated fabric as a roof). The 163rd Street shopping center is a "ghetto mall." It's full of immigrants and African Americans, shopping for inexpensive shoes, clothing, and ethnic hair products, and, of course, bling.

Rio Slum

I honestly laugh at what constitutes an American ghetto, or dangerous. Feeling uncomfortable about that guy with a sign on the highway off-ramp? Try legions of aggressive versions of them vying for the cash in your pockets as you walk streets or ride in transport. Although I acknowledge poverty and impoverished living in the United States, it doesn't hold a candle to the types of filth a large portion of this world's population survives in. Hell, I recently read 319 million Indians live on less than one U.S. dollar a day, and nearly 1-in-6 people on the planet find themselves in a similar situation. That's not to say I think impoverished people equal unhappy people—because I'm don't—it's just a statistic.

As for the bling, well, it takes many forms—not just faux diamond-encrusted Last Supper necklaces. I have vivid memories of indigenous villagers in Guatemala with mouths of gold teeth (a status symbol, and a symbol of wealth). I was never able to capture these intricate designs with my camera, but they varied from outlining around the gums to entire teeth to the affixment of specialty designs. Those are for sure interesting, the crap urban male hip-hop listeners toss into their mouths is just plain ugly.



November 17th, 2007

When I lived in Miami the 163rd St Mall was mostly deserted. This post reminds me of a time at the Home Depot near there. I was standing around waiting to have some paint mixed when this guy saunters by, whispers in my ear then nods at the jewelry box he's holding down near his waist with the bling. It was so weird and funny. I just nodded "No, thanks." I watched the the guy for a while as he kept wandering around Home Depot trying to sell that stuff.

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