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July 28, 2007

Rastaman Vibration


Every town has its contingent of public personalities, and Burlington is no exception. I thought to say, "public characters," but why pigeonhole these expressive people as something less than fully three-dimensional? Characters exist in books and movies; these folks are living, breathing components of our community.

Like, for instance, the Nader guy. As anyone who has spent time downtown can tell you, there is a man who daily rides around on a mountain bike festooned with Day-Glo colored pinwheels, atop of which is a large sign proclaiming, "NADER LIVES!" On the reverse of the sign, it reads, "NADER.ORG." I've thought about going up to him one day to converse, but I fear I would l lurch forward and strangle him with my bare hands, so I keep back.

Another such gentleman, also known for his bicycle, is the Birdman. A Jamaican emigre, he plies the streets of Burlington on a bicycle (see above) that can best be described as an evolving work of art. On weekend nights, he can often be found in front of the nightclubs, his bike stocked with flowers. (Other items found on the bike might also be for sale; I've not figured that one out.)

Last night I spotted the Birdman's bike parked in front of Nectars, and I got out of my cab to take a closer look. The vessel is a movable sculpture emanating such a positive vibe that passersby can't help but stop and gawk.

I noticed this sign, among others, on the stern and snapped a photo. What a beautiful message, I thought.Img_0098_3 And I love the way he fashioned the quotation marks as little exclamation points. As I examined the shot on the camera's display screen, I felt a tap on the shoulder.

"That be five dollars, mon."

I turned around to meet the Birdman at eye level. "You're kidding me, right? I mean, I just wanted a photo of the bike for my blog."

"I'm not fooling, mon. Check out the sign."

I turned back around to examine the bike, and, sure enough, there was another little green sign that read, "Please, photographs $5." Fair enough, I thought. Everybody's got to make a buck. I withdrew a fiver from my wallet and handed it to him. "Can I get a photo of you and the bike?" I asked, trying to at least get my money's worth.

"Sure, mon," he replied with a smile. Img_0101_2

I snapped the shot and asked, "OK, maybe one more?"

"Sure, mon," he replied. "That be another five dollars."

"Really? I think I'll stick with the first one."

July 28, 2007 at 01:07 PM in Just Shoot Me | Permalink


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For some reason charging five dollars for a photograph bothers me. I'm pretty sure most Rastafarian's couldn't care less about money. Our society makes everyone money hungry. Meh. I do love his flowers though!!!

Posted by: Erin | Jul 28, 2007 2:55:46 PM

Yeah, Erin - I also was taken aback by the photo charge, but, by then I had already taken one, so I felt obligated. It was OK, though - it felt good to lay some money on the dude.

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Jul 28, 2007 5:17:07 PM


Have you ever read this blog by a Vegas cabbie?



Posted by: VegasMan | Jul 29, 2007 6:09:31 PM

Thanks, VegasMan, for introducing me to the Vegas cabbie chronicles. I guess there's quite a few of us cabbie scribes out there. My favorite is me, but I'm probably biased.

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Jul 29, 2007 6:25:55 PM

I've seen this gentlemen all over town, always wondered what he was about. 5 bucks for a picture seems kinda unfair, it wasn't exactly like you asked him to pose, least not the first time. And naw, your not biased. I love your work, and I would much rather read about whats happening in our corner of the world then some place I've never been. Just my own humble two cents

Posted by: Lizzy | Jul 30, 2007 11:38:23 AM

Is he an actual Rastafarian or just cashing in on the cache? Because it looks like he's holding a cup of coffee which would be a violation of Ital food laws. And he's wearing a USA hat! The United States is like the embodiment of evil pink people Babylon.

Posted by: Molly | Aug 6, 2007 5:41:55 AM

Molly, I have no idea whether the man is an "actual Rastafarian." Heck, I'm not even an "actual Burlingtonian." We'd have to contact the RRB to find out definitively. (The Rasta Review Board.)

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Aug 6, 2007 11:50:29 AM

No need to get snarky. I've never seen the guy... I was just wondering if he professes to be a Rastafarian. I think Erin was wondering above, too.

Posted by: Molly | Aug 6, 2007 12:48:34 PM

Sorry, Molly, for coming across as snarky. This is one of the weaknesses of blogging and other written communication.

A linguist once conducted a study which yielded an astonishing finding: When two people speak face-to-face, merely 19% of the actual communication is the words themselves! Most everything is conveyed by intonation, body-language, facial signals, etc., and all of that is unavailable in written communication.

So, if my weak attempts at humor ever come across as mean-spirited, I heartily apologize.

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Aug 6, 2007 1:38:47 PM

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