Student at the University of Cincinnati, studying Photojournalism.
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Tasting The World in a One Stop Shop

Article 2

Article Synopsis: This destination adventure article describes an adventurous trip to Jungle Jim’s International Supermarket located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded in 1975 this supermarket offers a unique shopping experience that provides food from all over the world. I will explain the wonder and excitement in this first-person narrative of my experience exploring there.

Target publication/market: Foodies of all shapes sizes

Word count:1,260

Before you even get out of the car you can already hear the jungle noises as you pass by the large display of animals, which sets the mood for this exotic shopping experience. Walking in you see the usual greeter and rows of carts as you expect in a typical grocery store. Unlike typical grocery stores, there is a small movie theater explaining the humble beginnings of this wondrous store and deceiving porte pod bathrooms that are actually quite nice. Turning the first corner the adventure begins.

            Passing by the International Wall of Rice you start to hear the oriental music slowly come into play as you enter the Asian/Middle Eastern section of the store. The only interesting part of the Middle Eastern section you can see is the large display of hookahs with all sorts of accessories from coals to shisha. Making our way deep into Asia you can see a decorative rickshaw with mannequins dressed in oriental style clothing. These kinds of extra in-depth displays and music to match really makes the whole shopping experience fell as if you were there. While passing food items you would expect to get from Asia we founf packaging you sometimes can’t even read what the items are. Working down the aisle on seemingly our own Silk Road I had to stop because I couldn’t believe my eyes. I found myself looking at cheddar worms and chocolate covered grasshoppers. Next to the edible insects were suckers with butterflies and scorpions inside the center for a real surprise treat. Already I didn’t know what to expect around each corner.

            Leaving our Asian experience on an interesting note, next we stumbled upon a fire truck with all kinds of attachments for hoses. At first there was confusion but on the other side there was an entire section labeled “FIERY FOODS”. This apparently was the hot sauce section, which had several aisles of broad varieties of hot sauces and barbeques. The most expensive of these items was a $1699.00 Blair’s 2010 limited addition hot sauce and dry rub combo. In the more reasonable price range you could find BBQ with your favorite soda flavors like Dr. Pepper and A&W root beer. Just walking the area you couldn’t miss some of the hilarious names such as “Ass Reaper” and “I Am Sofa King Stew Ped” along with containers with creative designs.

            After having a few good laughs and browsing the sauces we found ourselves in Italy surrounded by pasta, olive oil, and tomato sauces. Assuming we had made it to Europe, we passed counties so fast it was hard to tell what food items were from which country. Many of the items you would expect to see from a country could be found in its designated section, such as, Brussels sprouts from Germany, Spanish flan, and jam from France. Taking a trip from Europe through Africa and finally to the Hispanic cultures of South America we found ourselves trying on sombreros and dancing around. My friend Mat, who was by my side during this adventure and I had both taken Spanish classes previously so we were attempting to read the different foods in Spanish. Being a little rusty, I am not sure how much we got right but it was a fun experience nonetheless.

            After traveling the world, we walked into your traditional supermarket that was surrounded by all the foreign foods. Although the food is what typical Americans would consider “normal”, that was not the case in Jungle Jim’s. In each “normal” section was something exotic or not expected. You couldn’t help but to sway to the music and sing along to The Beach Boys, Surfin’ USA while browsing your favorite seafood. For example, in the seafood section, with boats and dock decorations around, there was lobster, fish, shrimp, and crabs along with squid, octopus, massive tiger shrimp, and swordfish. Further away was the meat section with beef, chicken, ham, and turkey. Additional meat available was buffalo, camel, duck, ostrich, kangaroo, alligator, python/rattle snake, and turtle meat…I looked at Mat and asked if half of what was inside the freezer was even legal. Whether it was or not, I knew it was not something I wanted to try. While picking out your child’s favorite Lunchables you could view the giant pig head next to you, also for sale.

            After losing my appetite, I entered the bakery section. I then got a deep craving for chocolate, as I am a chocoholic in great need for an intervention. You could find all sorts of dessert items here, including dog treats made to look like real human dessert. Anyone could mistake the peanut butter cup dog treat as a Resse’s cup very easily. The bakery section was by far the hardest section for me to get through as I was constantly double thinking about cheating my diet.

            The natural foods section was every vegans dream and every chocoholic’s worst nightmare. Not too far from this section were the fruit and vegetable aisles. Walking up and down the rows of fruit, I saw a bright pink item that immediately caught my eye. This hot pink fruit was called dragon fruit. Next to that was rambutan, described as a creamy grape. There were also other odd names and shapes of fruit such as Buddha’s hand citron and kiwano melon.

            Not much more of the jungle was to be covered, but we found ourselves taking a rest and a drink at the tasting bar where there was high table tops with bar stools. Tall shelves full of different types of beer and wines surrounded us that followed into a separate liquor store and cigar room beside the Bonaminio Winery.

            Walking past the winery we were captivated by a giant container with a 4,136 lbs. cheese inside. This section was called World of Cheese, where cheeses from all over the world could be found. Looking at the variety of cheeses available was exhausting, although we had been on this adventure for quite awhile.

            Our moods change rapidly as we entered Candy Castle. Colorful and playful fixtures contained all of your favorite candies. Old or young, everyone loves candy and this candy land filled jungle was definitely something to love. As reminiscent of this fun zone was to a kid’s theme park, it was obvious this is also where kids would beg their parents to spend their money.

            We were welcomed to the jungle where we explored what felt like the world, traveling through each countries individual section. We passed through the fire and flames of the Fiery Foods, navigated through the ocean of seafood, hunted down exotic meats near the deli, and foraged through the strange fruits and vegetables, quenched our thirst at the local watering hole before discovering the finer taste of cigars, wines, and cheeses. After all this adventure, we satisfied our sweet tooth in a fantasy filled adventure through Candy Land. After two hours and half hours of my time, it was a very fun experienced in my own back yard that didn’t even cost a dime. 

Out of This World

On Valentines day I was taken to a hill top of Mt. Lookout, where there was a beautiful dated but unique building. 

Walking in, gripping my lovers hand, I am welcomed into The Cincinnati Observatory. I was given a rose, chocolates, and a photograph of me and my date was taken.

Once walking further into the building, we go into a open room with high ceilings where there is a woman playing beautiful music on the violin. The romantic night I had much anticipated had already surprised me and fulfilled my expectations. Hors d’oeuvres, wine, and nonalcoholic fruit punch is served…although after drinking the fruit punch I wasn’t too certain if it was indeed nonalcoholic.

After about 15 minutes of waiting and staring at people I’m surrounded by who are doubled my age, we are told that it is time for our telescope showing. We are led up a vintage spiral staircase that takes us inside another room where there is a giant telescope. The original plan was to see Jupiter, but was no longer visible, so instead we looked at Orion’s Belt…well actually underneath Orion’s Belt. 

Standing in a single file line, circled around the telescope, I was looking at the couples around us, wondering which couples have been in a relationship for a long period of time, who was on their first date, maybe even a blind date for the holiday, who was married, and who wasn’t. And it made me look at my own date and wonder where we’d be once we were the same age as those around us. Would our love make it through? At the time I had an abundance of love for him that was out of this world. Not even a earthquake could shake our feelings for one another. I loved him to the moon and back. But the future is unpredictable and I could only hope for the best. We were just starry-eyed lovers gazing upward into space.

As the night progressed and the night sky grew, astronomer and co-host of the PBS program Star Gazers, Dean Regas, shared stories about red stars of passion in the winter sky followed by a tour of the old buildings.

Our last viewing was in a separate building with another telescope that was much larger than the first one we had looked through earlier. This telescope took up the entire room with stairs leading up to the eyepiece. The telescopes lens showed a very large white object with dark shades, the moon. It was beautiful. In that moment you really feel belittled. Humans walk around, live on this planet unknowingly what else surrounds it. It made me realize that the petty drama I encounter on a daily basis really doesn’t matter as there is so much more out there and around us. So much more is going on, on this planet, in this world, outside of our world, in our solar system. It really puts things into retrospect as I applied this to my own personal issues. 

Leaving the The Cincinnati Observatory I had an open mind for not only my life but for my future. I left with his hand in mine and a stronger bond and connection that was maybe lacking previously. 

Photojournalism

I would say that I am an outgoing person that could talk to any stranger. But for some reason, when it comes to my school work…I seem to become more of an introvert. 

I could easily walk up to another college student and befriend him/her. Although, if I am sent out into the real world for an assignment, I freak out and tend to shut down. And I never understood why. 

With majoring in photojournalism, just journalism in general, you must be confident in your work and take control of any situation you get involved in and not to be scared of denial. 

Last semester I was sent out on an assignment to photograph a business community for my multimedia class. I knew this was my chance to overcome my irrational fear of denial of those who I attempt to photograph. 

Once I built up enough courage, I venture the streets of Clifton until I decide to make my way inside Floyd’s Mediterranean Restaurant, but before I do I see a few guys outside of the tattoo parlor next door smoking cigarettes. I say to myself, “OK Brevin, now is your chance, just ask them!” but as soon as they see my camera they without me even saying a word turn me away. I felt embarrassed and immediately turned red… I wanted to run home and cry and say screw the assignment. But I said thank you anyways and kept walking forward towards Floyd’s Mediterranean Restaurant.

I walk into the restaurant and talk to the waiter who then directs me to the owner. The owner welcomes me and my photography with open arms.

She sat me down in the kitchen, made me a plate or two, and then continued to tell me about herself which put me at ease. At this point it was no longer about my assignment, but about her and her story. I was more than excited to listen.

She was a sweet elderly lady from Europe who told me her whole life story. It sadden me to hear the struggles she and her family have gone through… Having to flea the country during the war, everything they owned to be destroyed before their eyes and then losing her husband for over 6 months, thinking that he was captured and killed…then to find him later alive. She then went on the explain how they moved to the U.S. for their children’s education.

As she was telling me her story, I thought about my own life and how it really isn’t bad compared to what others have gone through. I was so scared to walk into her restaurant, but I am glad I did. It reassured me that I have picked the right major and this truly is something that I love.

I left Floyd’s with a huge smile on my face. I proceeded to walk into Myra’s Dionysus with no qualms whatsoever, but a confidence I had lacked previously. Then I had completed my assignment by stopping at Moles Record Exchange and Hookah Cafe. 

Some places were accepting of my photography, while others denied me. The people I have/will meet and the interactions between complete strangers is totally worth it. I’m glad I have chosen photojournalism as a career choice and cannot wait to start my career.

**Photos in previous post. 

Curveball

Brogan, 4, and I, 6, are filled with joy, sitting in the back of the 4-door sedan, bobbing our heads back and forth to the Christmas music, laughing and popping lemon heads into our mouths, had we not known that this night would drastically change.

December 16, 2000 was a very cold, rainy night. Brenton, my 19-year-old brother, aspiring collegiate baseball pitcher, decided to take Brogan and I out shopping accompanied by his girlfriend to find a Christmas gift for our deserving mother. My mom is one of the strongest women that I have ever known. She not only raised eight beautiful children practically on her own, but she loves each one of her children unconditionally and gives her life to make ours better. She is an extraordinary woman.

Before leaving in excitement, 3-year-old Briell cried and begged to come along with us, unfortunately there were only two seat belts in the back, which was concerning for my over-protected mother, so she stayed back with the rest of the family.

Segments of the night were either rapid as it was just a burst of light that quickly faded from my memory or a slow motion picture forever embedded in my mind. Once we are on the road, anticipation for an exciting night swiftly grows.

Suddenly, I feel a great impact, as we are jolted around like a rocky rollercoaster ride. Silence. Black. Everything becomes quiet and dark.

I regain consciousness as if I had just awakened from a dream, although in this case, it’s a nightmare. Brenton’s girlfriend screams “HOLY SHIT, OH MY GOD! HELP!” as she looks back at my youngest brother and I. We had collided into a vehicle that did not stop at the stop sign, less than a minute away from our home.

Our faces disguised with blood, in terror, we knew nothing more but than to scream for mommy. After being pulled out of the totaled car, 9-1-1 is dialed. Brogan and I sit on electrical boxes near the scene of the accident holding each other’s hand. My mom is unable to drive to us because of the backed up traffic, so she runs, she runs faster than she ever has.

Ambulances arrive and rush us to the hospital. Brogan and I are placed on stretchers with neck braces. The paramedics give each of us a stuff animal to keep by our side for comfort.

I am in an unknown bright room, lying on my back, staring into a light. I look around for familiar faces and don’t see my brothers, but strangers in scrubs and white lab coats hovering over me. The doctors are concerned that my jaw has been broken…luckily to find out after hours of medical work, I suffered from temporary scar tissue damage and extreme swelling of the face. Brogan on the other hand had permanent scar tissue damage in his cheek from slamming his face against the door while mine hit the back of the passenger seat. As my swelling went down, his got worst.

My oldest brother, Brenton, damaged the tissue and ligaments in his shoulder from the seat belt causing him to lose his college scholarship, as he could no longer participate in the sport he loves the most, baseball. His girlfriend at the time walked away with a few scratches and bruises along with the driver in the other vehicle involved.

It was said that without our seat belts we would have been ejected from the car, resulting in serious injuries, possibly even death. This is one night that I will never forget. Life is an unexpected adventure and you have to be able to catch the downward path curveballs that life occasionally throws at you.

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As a child I had a lot of doors slammed in my face, specifically from the older girl who lived across the street, Maria. Everyday I’d come home from elementary school excited to release all of my confined energy.

I annoyed Maria with my obnoxious knocks and multiple door bell rings. It irritated her so much that eventually she put a sign on the door saying, “COUCH KIDS, GO HOME!” but that never deterred my siblings and I.

I never went to Maria’s door wanting to play with her, but to play in her tree house. Every kid wants a tree house and mine just happened to be next door, behind the door of who I was convinced was a witch. 

I was an adventurous, accident prone child with one already broken arm. The right arm that was.

One day when Maria wasn’t home, I thought I’d journey into the forbidden woods where the sacred tree house was hidden. I was told not to follow the boys, but that is what my six year old self did best, especially since I grew up with five brothers. 

I start my climb up the 10ft. ladder. I grip each skinny metal bar one by once as I collect mud on my hands from the boys who had gone up just before me.

Finally, I made it to the last bar, I am now at the top. I take a deep sigh of relief as I am left to just simply pull myself up into the wooden tree house. With one broken arm I struggle greatly with this…I lose grip of the handle causing a free fall from the 10ft. ladder to the hard mud ground only to break my left arm. 

After that, I was forever banned from the tree house.

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