JGT: Weston, where are you from?
JGT: When did you move to Philadelphia?
Weston: 2004. Before that, I was in Boston for four years.
JGT: Do you miss Jamaica?
Weston: Sometimes when it’s cold.
The Hilton on City Line Avenue is nice, but the flower picture in the first floor hallway next to the Renaissance Room is terribly askew. Such are the things you notice when you have been waiting for someone for 45 minutes in a hotel lobby. Though I was by that point convinced that there had been some sort of miscommunication, I didn’t leave. Just in case Scoop Jardine came walking through the doors, as I had been told he would do at 3 p.m., I continued looking at the paintings in the City Line Hilton hallways.
Antonio “Scoop” Jardine is a hoops star from South Philly who played point guard at Syracuse in college. He got the nickname Scoop from his grandmother, who thought his head looked like an ice cream scoop when he was a baby. He is hoping to get drafted in the NBA draft in a few weeks, but he is a bit of a tweener, and there is some doubt as to whether that will happen. He was working out with the Sixers, as they are one of several teams who might draft him in the second round.
JGT: What kind of work did you do in Jamaica?
Weston: I worked as a foreman, in the construction sector.
JGT: What kind of work did you do when you moved here?
Weston: I was working with an interior decorator.
JGT: So what made you move to Philly?
Weston: The guy I worked for got a job in Bucks County. I started working there, and was doing very good, got a couple of projects here, and then he said he was going to take some jobs in California. With my son here, I decided I wasn’t going to move. I’m going to stay, get me a couple of clients, and started out on my own for a little while. Then the recession comes. The recession hit me, I went from slow to nothing.
Earlier in the day, as I drove to the Hilton, I mulled over whether or not to give Scoop the “South Philly snaps” when I introduced myself. For the uninitiated, the “snaps” are a simple handshake seen primarily among African-American teens in South Philly. It begins as a handshake, but as your hands draw away, you catch each others’ middle finger and snap as if their middle finger was your thumb, making a loud snapping sound as you draw apart. As a youth coach in South Philly, I worked hard to perfect the snaps, and while the kids thought it was hilarious that an old white dork like me snapped, I had gotten pretty good at it. That said, it was normally something you did with someone you already had a friendship with. If I tried to snap with Scoop, he might think I was out of my mind. He could be right, considering I spent a good 10 minutes on my drive over to the Hilton debating in my head whether or not to do the South Philly snaps with a sportsman named Scoop.
JGT: What kind of interior design were you doing?
Weston: We were doing like specially textured paints on walls and stuff like that.
JGT: What are your dreams now?
Weston: I still have a couple of clients. I want to go back into the interior design and painting thing.
When I entered the lobby at 3:05 p.m., no Scoop. There were two people, an African-American lady and a white guy in their late 40s, working on some sort of business plan. I sat at a chair, next to another chair with a table in between. The best spot in the lobby for an interview. And what an interview it promised to be! I had some really good questions lined up. He had played numerous games internationally, so I wanted to find out what the coolest place was he had ever visited. After discovering that his grandfather was a former NBA player known as “Bunny” Wilson, I wanted to know if all men in his family had great nicknames. And I had read that his favorite cheesesteak was from Ishkabibble’s, so I wanted to know where he’d had his best hoagie. Yep, I was going to get to know the real Scoop Jardine. This was going to be one hell of an interview!
If he would show. After calling my mom, getting quickly beaten at chess by my phone, and smiling as non-threateningly as possible at the various Hilton employees who eyed me with a puzzled look, the time got to be 3:25. I tried to call Scoop’s agent who had set up the interview. No answer. I looked to my left, down the hall. Seven chandeliers, but they all lacked character. The hallway was too bright, too plain. I decided to walk down it. I looked at the art. A few pictures of naked people (ugly people from the Renaissance, not like good naked people), a few pieces of fruit, flowers. Nothing to radically alter anyone’s perception of the world. Did Scoop have a favorite artist? I dunno. I sure as hell didn’t know anything about art when I was 23. Hell, I don’t know anything about art now except that Van Gogh cut his ear off with a chainsaw. Or something to that effect. It was now 3:30, and I was debating in my head whether a probable second-round NBA draft pick I had never met was a Salvador Dali fan.
JGT: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
Weston: I love the brotherly love, and it’s not as fast as New York.
JGT: Have you found any good Jamaican food in Philadelphia?
Weston: Yes. There is a good restaurant called Hummingbird on Wadsworth Avenue. Jerk chicken, ox tails, curry chicken, you name it, it’s very good.
JGT: What’s something that people here don’t know about Jamaica?
Weston: That we have the best beaches in the Caribbean, and that it is illegal to smoke weed in Jamaica.
At 4 p.m., I couldn’t stay in the lobby any longer. I had other work to do. My interview with Scoop wasn’t going to happen. I walked out the front door. The doorman held it for me. I walked outside and down the stairs towards my car. I wasn’t really mad or anything. I was sure Scoop had a reason for not showing up, whether it was a change of plans, a late practice, or even a miscommunication. But it was a little frustrating. I started to unlock the car door.
“The hell with this,” I thought. I came to the Hilton to get an interview, and damn if I wasn’t going to get one. I turned back around and headed back up the stairs. The doorman started to open the door.
“Nah, I’m not going in.”
The doorman looked surprised. Probably almost everyone who had climbed those stairs had done so with the intention of stepping inside.
“I was supposed to have an interview today. Guy didn’t show up.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” said the friendly doorman with a Jamaican accent. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“You want to do an interview?’
“Sure, I’ll do it.”
“Ok, great. What’s your name?”
“Weston, where are you from?”