Category Archives: sunshine

Central Park Airways

Here’s some drone footage over the Harlem end of Central Park, Manhattan, NYC. Still learning the ropes with flying, filming, and editing drone footage to tell an interesting tale. Stay tuned for more! We will be reviewing the best of city parks and urban infrastructure in the coming days and weeks.

Go to the park, yo! Free vitamin D! Free space to jog, bike and lounge! You need that in this vegan revolutionary socialist life!

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Hospital Food

So last week I was at my local hospital rehab ward to observe occupational therapy for several days (occupational therapy is my next course of study and, I promise, the last degree I’ll collect before I turn 30. I need to make more money.). Folks who have suffered strokes, folks who’ve had heart attacks, amputees, folks who’ve been shot or endured devastating accidents, these individuals constitute the population of this inpatient ward. This private non-profit hospital is among the more progressive and well-endowed in the NYC metro area. The staff seem respected and happy, from the physical and occupational therapists to the practical nurses, from the food servers to the social workers.

The hospital food orders can be restricted for patients with cardiac conditions, limiting them to low-fat/low cholesterol options. And one could get some fresh fruits with his or her requests. Vegetarian meals were also options. The food offerings were conventional, but not of the lowest standard, and there was room for customization on the part of the savvy patient.

Nonetheless, I want to assert that many conditions suffered by these patients were ultimately caused by diet. Smokers and heavy meat-eaters, given their stated conditions and diets, abounded in this population, especially amongst stroke and cardiac patients. Diet is the first medicine. It begins at youth. Bad medicine across a lifetime leads to an undesirable outcome, it was overwhelmingly clear to me after my observation of who tends to wind up needing these sorts of therapies.

Healthy food, physical culture (primal and vigorous exercise and play), adequate sleep, healthy relationships and vocations, sunshine, rest, hopefully some love – these are the original therapies. If the whole population ate brilliantly and lived vigorously (but safely and sanely), physicians and allied health professionals like me, even those in alternative medicine disciplines, would be damn near out of business. For real. If we are honest, many of our professions are created by the need to mitigate negative lifestyle choices only. Nutritionists, for example (just one of many disciplines to critique) are not really necessary but to the nutritionally clueless, obese client who can afford one, who will tell the client what to eat and why. But common sense says we should eat natural fresh fruits and vegetables, as much as we need, and then relax. Hell, personal trainers – a profession I’ve been trained in – don’t really need to exist but for an adult population that has completely forgotten how to move and play to stay naturally healthy. Another thing I’ve been trained in, massage therapy, is unnecessary for those who have great friends and/ or lovers who can share affection and apply pressure to pain and aches maturely and effectively.

If the population moved towards health and sanity, no need for many of us healthcare peoples. We’d need retraining for some other profession, those that actually produce and reproduce material needs in societies. I would actually prefer that the population did this. That would be the trend in a revolutionary society that knows about preventive medicine, social equality, pro-human values, harmony with nature, and so on.

But it’s not happening, in fact the trend goes backwards. Hence among the only stable and growing jobs in this recession continue to be those in healthcare.

Shouldn’t be. Preventive medicine is the best therapy. Love is the best drug. Healthy diet is the most profound lifelong pill. For me, healthy diet is of course this low-fat raw vegan road. Staying healthy is easy in this configuration. Eat fresh clean raw plants when you’re hungry. Then relax and do other things like positive, life-affirming and creative work, coupled with vigorous and fun play, and completed by welcome and relaxing sleep.

Stay healthy, so you don’t have to even deal with the berserk capitalist anti-human monster euphemistically called our healthcare system in these united snakes. Complicated and clever ways to deal with the ordeal of medical billing for insurance was one of the main things everyone at this hospital was talking about.

Don’t make the world need more nurses, therapists and hospital food.

Doubts about Being in the North

I am increasingly of the thought for some reason that I ought to head south, urgently. Obviously I expect down the line to be living in Afrika, and possibly Latin America too, for at least a few years, probably when I’m in my thirties. For now I am a student in NYC, where I’ve mostly been all my life except for half a year in West Afrika, including a semester at U of Ghana and time in my ancestral, embattled, yet beautiful homeland, the Niger Delta. My line of thought of late has been one of general concern that winters truly aren’t for me. And if I could I wouldn’t deal with one more of them in this life.

Interestingly, I don’t do bad in cold weather per se. I actually do much better than most people of any skin color. And I’m a very lean and very very dark skinned Afrikan brotha. Dark like any of the most deeply West Afrikan indigenes which is what I am, 100% Kalabari-Ijaw, supremely black and natively equatorial. I like humid weather which I get here in the region of NY Harbor, a characteristic which is climatically very similar to southern and especially southeast (AKA “south-south”) Nigeria. If not for massive urbanization these climes support a historic dense woodland, a tiny fragment of which is preserved in a little forest down my Jersey street. Even Manhattan (Manahatta) was once all woods, not just parts of Central or Inwood Hill Parks. So I am happy with regular precipitation throughout the year.

But I wonder if I’m built for this latitude. Obviously I can withstand it, 40 degrees and change North of the equator, that wonderful band near where all dark skinned peoples evolved to deflect excess UV radiation and enjoy proper sunlight levels to stimulate vitamin D production and stay functional and beautiful. But as I move into an even more intense and dedicated level of raw veganism/ fruitarianism (I’ve been 100% vegan since summer 1999, 80% raw since Oct. ’07, and 100% raw for a year now, and at this point I’m ditching nuts, strictly eating fresh organic fruits and green vegetables only, and I take no supplements whatsoever for anything) I worry of not getting enough sun in these NYC winters.

When I went to Ghana in ’07, I completely skipped winter for that year. I came back to NYC in the summer and went almost a year with mild to hot weather and plenty of sunshine. I now realize that I REALLY LIKED THAT. My body liked that move supremely. I was outdoors all the time in Ghana, even more than some Ghanaians who thought I was a little strange for insistently walking everywhere, even under equatorial noon sun. That equatorial hot 90 degree F noon sun, I increasingly am accepting truly, must be correct for me.

Last winter I didn’t think about this issue that much, but now it’s really on my mind. Almost half of Afrikans living in North America are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is responsible for proper bone growth, immune function, metabolism, mineral utilization, and so much more. A recent resurgence in rickets in the US struck Afrikan children almost exclusively. The colon cancer epidemic among Afrikan males in the US is at least partly related to vitamin D deficiency. And I know that, although I do not and never have suffered from seasonal affective disorder, my direct experience of almost a year of summer was awesome – on a physiological level and possibly even on a psychological one.

Our melanin across indigenous human populations has adapted over tens of millennia to the amount of UV radiation exposure based on distance from the equator, where all the most deeply pigmented populations are indigenous. I am beginning to intuit in my innermost consciousness that the truth is, I am up to 40 degrees from home. I am really thinking about moving to the tropics ASAP – Florida? – at least until I’m ready, after completing certain studies and preparing myself economically, to dwell south of the border long-term. In the meantime, I am also putting myself on the lookout for serious UV sunlamps/ full spectrum vitamin D-stimulating lamps which, at their expense, will be costly for this young student of modest means.

Ideally though, I ought to be spending mad time outdoors in the tropics in the sun exercising and sunbathing and doing other activities on a daily basis, as nature intended, away from the trappings of these computers and other pulls of indoor life, including winters and cold springs and autumns which I am not physiologically indigenous to. I am way too black for winters. And NYC’s winters are admittedly rather mild compared to the icy lunacy Afrikans go through in Chicago or Detroit.

But I still would prefer at least to be on the tropical edge of North America, if not right up in an equator-straddling country. I hear really ridiculous things about Florida though. For intellectual and sensitive people in North America, it seems the Northeast, from Washington to Boston, is king. And NYC is right in the heart of that. And the history of amazing Afrikan struggles and accomplishments in this part of the continent is astounding. And Afrikan communities here are of immense potential to be organized in a revolutionary fashion (my MA thesis was on New York as a Pan-Afrikan City, after all).

Yet I think I will easily leave this behind once I am ready. I know I almost surely never want to visit Europe again – even summers are barely mild in some spots there. Same goes increasingly for the northern latitudes of the United Snakes. I want that hot sun! Humid, sticky, boiling, searing! It’s good for my jet-black skin and my brown eyes. And to get out of the urban jungle would be a much appreciated bonus, as important perhaps for psychological well-being as going where it’s sunnier.

To think that, where I currently live, amidst a large South Asian/ desi population, all these folks are now in this northern latitude – it’s no wonder that diabetes and cancer are exploding among Asian populations in NYC – it’s not just the adoption of sad American diets and sedentary lifestyles – perhaps it’s distance from the climes of tropical India too!

Meanwhile, let me find an expensive full-spectrum UVB sunlamp to prop up in my corner. But one day soon, I will be ready to settle down in the tropics for good and live seriously naturally – access to big tropical fruits all the time, touching the land and planting trees, outdoors ALL THE TIME, getting hot and staying black.

Don’t get me wrong – one may leave the NJ/NYC, but the NJ/NYC never leaves the person. If/ when I do leave there will be many places and faces missed, like my Kung Fu temple and family, my elders from Newark to  Brooklyn, my young comrades across the urban jungle. Gotham forever!

These have been some thoughts about the Sun. To the mighty mighty Sun I bow.

Raw Veganism in Afrika – Could be Ideal (?)

master13_1.jpgI think that the ecological and economic reasons for raw veganism, or even conventional veganism, make it one of the best diets for Afrikans on the continent. Most Afrikans have other ideas, and Afrika might be the continent with the least vegetarians, or at least the fewest conscious vegetarians. A lot of Afrikans see meat as a prestige. It was isolating being vegan in Afrika, and it made me think a lot about how I could spread vegetarianism there, even though I usually never operated as a vegan evangelist before. The sorts of classes I took in Ghana, on sustainable agriculture, women and development, and traditional medicine, all helped confirm for me that we need a vegan movement in Sub-Saharan Afrika. I feel we need to grow all sorts of great tropical fruits and vegetables for ourselves, and eat them. We must move away from cash-crop economies which leave us dependent on the West, and make us import their rotten meat, their subsidized rice, and so on.

 

It is winter in New York, my first winter in two years since last winter I was in Ghana. I have the profound sense of not only missing Afrika, but feeling like I really belong there. I find myself sunbathing almost religiously in this wintertime, since as a very very dark-skinned Afrikan I am supposed to be getting the amount of sunlight I would be getting in the tropics to generate the right amount of Vitamin D. I think I am doing well here because I just sit in the sun whenever it is sunny; I’m sitting in the sun right now. I LOVE THE SUN. I like hot weather. I like keeping my skin melanin-stimulated, dark, black, no matter what time of year or what weather. Raw veganism, fitness, and health all require maad sunlight and fresh air, especially for Afrikans.

 

If I was in Afrika right now, I would be eating maad mangos, Afrikan avocados (whose taste I didn’t allow myself to get used to as I am so accustomed to Mexican/ Californian avocados), maad greens, tomatoes, papayas, guavas, bananas, all the great tropical fruits. Maybe a few raw cashews or raw groundnuts. It would be so easy, as it’s all in the market and is maad affordable, at least to someone who has Western currency.

 

As Afrika moves towards holistic and self-contained economic and health development, perhaps we could begin to grow more of the superfoods of Asia and elsewhere in our vast, rich soils. We could start cultivating durians, certain types of berries, herbs, nuts and seeds. It would be sweet.

 

The practice of pastoralism, the grazing of cattle, sheep, etc., is scientifically proven to be an unsustainable way of life compared to settled agriculture, as the browsers eat away the grasses and help expand the Sahara and other deserts. The consumption of meat is scientifically proven to be able to feed far, far fewer humans than mass vegetarianism would. It consumes far, far more water resources, land, food even, to produce meat than to produce veggies. Our starvation could be stemmed with a lot more veganism, and a lot more macrobiotic, self-sufficient, self-feeding agriculture.

 

And tropical fruits are some of the most heavily relied on ones by raw vegans and fruitarians. Being actually in the tropics would mean easy access to, and ability to grow, our favorite foods.

 

If I return to Afrika, or move there (or to the Caribbean), I would get land and grow maad tropical fruits and veggies, keep the soil well nourished, make babies with a raw-vegan Afrikan beauty queen, practice and teach fitness and martial arts, eat raw vegan stuff, and live a long life as a revolutionary Afrikan renaissance man. I’d learn an Afrikan language, I’d be maad healthy, build an all-Afrikan bicycle factory powered by wind and solar, spread African Internationalism and socialism, etc. But that’s just crazy dreaming. Afrika is grossly underdeveloped and neo-colonized, though we must stand and fight.

 

I visited an organic farm in Aburi, Ghana (north of Accra) where the old Afrikan genius there practices sustainable agroforestry. He plants trees. He plants all sorts of fruits, greens, yams, etc. all around them. He was maad inspiring. The photo above is from his land, the photo below of his contact info. I could do that. I could live like that. We all could. “Make the world a garden…”

 

How I wonder. 

 

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