My Name Is Not Pato Banton


This is Pato Banton

So the other night I went to see a concert by Famous Reggae star Pato Banton.

Isn’t that the coolest name ever? Pato Banton.

I wish my name was Pato Banton.

One of his Pato’s big hits, titled “My Opinion,” features the refrain, “My name is Pato Banton.” So even he likes saying it. He likes singing it!

I would too, if I were him. I’ve been trying to replace the lyrical, sonically touching, “My name is Pato Banton,” with “My name is John Shore,” but what a dud that is. I might as well be singing “My name is Benjie Bigbottom,” or something. “My name is Gilligan Floppyhat.” It’s just … forget it.

I saw Mr. Banton perform in a large indoor club. I’m pretty sure that every single audience member in the club that night except for me was smoking pot. The thing is, though, even stoner Rasta enthusiasts at a concert want to be sneaky about the fact that — gee, what a surprise — they’re having yet another experience that’ll be enhanced by their ingesting a lung-frying psychotropic drug that’ll make them seem absolutely fascinating to themselves. But the way to get stoned privately in public, apparently, is to bend way down at the waist when you’re sucking on your joint or pipe, so that no one can see the little fire you’re making glow like … well, like a beacon straight to Security Central.

It was like being at a concert with 300 people who’d all lost their contact lenses. I could have walked across the floor on all the backs. I had no trouble seeing Banton. People would bow down, rise back up, surreptitiously exhale in such a way that no one looking at them would ever suspect they had a huge amount of thick smoke pouring out of their face, and then bend back down for another toke.

I felt like I was at some sort of convention for beach dudes taking lessons in primary Japanese social behaviors.

The music, though, was entirely acceptable. As a musical genre, I’m not actually a big fan of reggae. I am, however, a major fan of Bob Marley, who was one bonafide musical genius, and no doubt about it.

And therein lies the rub, for me. I know it’s stupid and limited, but, to me, all reggae but Bob’s sounds unsatisfactorily derivative of Bob. So I can never like it. I’m Joe … No Bob Imitators Allowed.

Only Bob!

Bob lives!

Though Tosh was on it! So there are a few exceptions! But let’s not turn this into a dissertation on reggae because how boring would that be!

But I must say, ol’ Pato pops up a roof pretty good. He’s very … spiritual. I assume he’s a Rastafarian, but don’t really know. (Hey, I just went to his website — and I think he’s a Christian! Whoo-hoot! He’s got a double-CD out called, The Words of Christ ! Sweet! Oh. Wait. It’s ” … a double CD featuring over 100 minutes of soul touching lessons from Jesus Christ as revealed in the Fifth Epochal Revelation, The Urantia Book.” Oh. So he’s … not a Christian. Or maybe is a little. Or something. Bummer. So close — and yet so … well, stoned. I would guess. But that’s mean, since I don’t know. So let’s move on.)

Whatever the meat of Pato’s spiritual soup is, he sure feels it. There was a moment in his show where he stopped and did a long, clearly sincere prayer. It was a little hard to see and hear him through all the smoke and ongoing Stoner Aerobics, but it was clear his prayer was entirely heartfelt. I believe he was praying for world peace, unity, harmony, and for every person in the audience to once and for all get their shoes tied right.

And then he told us to turn to the people nearest us, and to greet and show them love.

Whoo-hoo! Being an Episcopalian, I have practice at doing this! If I had to turn to total strangers around me before I was an Episcopalian and act like they were long-lost cousins, I’d be down and pretending to have lost something on the floor before you could say, “Oh, no. I lost my lighter.” But now I’m Mr. “Peace Be With You”!

Cool. I was ready.

And it turned out to be quite the lovely, naturally prolonged little moment.

Faux-Japanese stoners turn out to be quite the affable greeters!

They were at that time, anyway. That was pretty early on in the show.

Ninety minutes later, and the Happy Mass Pot Buzz had transmogrified into the Unhappy, Highly Individuated Fry that invariably leaves “partyers” with the distinctly unpleasant feeling that, once again, they’ve fallen off that big bus to Funville, and are instead stuck exactly where they are.

Pato was still doing his thing, though: alive, bright-eyed, singing and doing the happy, hoppy little dance for which Rastas are famous.

As for me, it was all good. I’m almost never as content as I get whenever I’m surrounded by more strangers than I can count.





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  • Hjordes

    Stoner Aerobics… too funny… so that's what we looked like back in the 70's?


  • Your blog on Pato took me back 65 years……drugs were science fiction back then. Nicotine was the real high. Sneaking into the movies on a Saturday nite when no booze was allowed …especially with the younger crowd…we got our kicks with an orange crush drink laced with gin, sipped through a straw! The clandestine act triggered an adrenalin rush! The Charleston was cool and Jazz was our Reggae. Then came Boogie Woogie…..The Big Bands were tuning their trumpets. How sweet it was!

    Thanks for helping this grandma take a trip down memory lane. Seemed I was in that Reggae concert with you……simply because of the way you say things and the punctuation marks being in the right place at the right sequence. Blessings be upon you, brother John!

  • harvey melton


    Read your blog here about pato, well at one time in my life i almost died from an overdose, i begged God not to let me die like that in that condition, plus a whole lot of promiseing, that if he allowed me to live that i would never again have anything to do with drugs. he did and by his grace i have been able to keep my promise. the lesson i learned? If i don’t want to get snake bit, stop playing with snakes. But really i was so into the life, it was only God that brought me out of it. All in one piece to go on with my life to have three more beautiful drug free children,The youngest arriveing in oct-05 when then my youngest was twenty.My son, Bryson, is a sure blessing from God,as are all my children. And i will do all i can to educate him about the traps of this world,but i know that he will like all children, probally have to find out the hard way. So, i’ll just say what may be good for some is not good for me. Hopefully, along the way soon, he find a saviour, in Jesus Christ, as his soul is most preciouse to God, That above all things is my prayer for him. Also, that he lays Gods word to heart, for future ref. in times of trouble,etc. that noone can take from him.God bless you brother, keep the faith.-Harv.

  • Grace: Great stuff! Thank you for it. It's AMAZING how fast cultural touchstones change. You should do a blog entry–or a series of them-going over what you would do on a typical, say, Saturday night in your hometown when you were, say, just out of high school. That stuff is just fascinating.

    Harvey: Rich stuff! Your comments lately have really revealed the depth of your life's experience. Awesome.

    Hjordes: I have no idea what you're talking about. YOU might have looked like a geek in the 70's. I, however, went to the disco in my avacado, flair-legged, high-waisted polyester pants, my four-inch, fat-heeled, round-toed, two-toned shoes, and my swirly-patterned polyester shirt that was so bright it glowed in the dark and had a collar on it so huge it was like my head was stuck between two skateboard ramps. And I was ready to GO, baby! So I was fully stylin.

    I'm sorry that whatever you used to wear in the day made you look like a dork.

  • Greta: Sorry I called you "Grace." I meant … well, GRETA.

  • Billy B

    Oh the stoner pot days! For me it was every day of my life for 20 plus years. Pot users are looked at with less a harsh eye than coke users but the results are pretty much the same. Loss of brain cells and an increase in stupidity. I keep remembering the slogan, "Why do you think they call it dope?"

    Oh by the way Pato Banton is a cool name, but the coolest of all is

    Patterson Tweed. I came across that name while doing customer service.

    Only Jesus!

  • I, too, used to be a bit of a stoner. Well. "A bit." As in, whenever I could get some. Which was all the time. Since I lived in Santa Cruz, CA.

    But. Let's not go there.

    Patterson Tweed!! The absolute best!!

    I'm just now reading a book by a guy named (drum roll, please) Vergilius Ferm.

    I canNOT get over that name. Vergilius Ferm!! Say it soft, and it's like you're … Jerry Lewis. Say it loud, and it's like you're … a Latin carnival barker.

  • snowhite197

    Have you heard of Matisyahu? I like him. But my husband says I'm musically immature so maybe not… But check him out anyways please!!! 🙂

  • Yeah, Steel Pulse's stuff has a real muscularity to it I like. And they've done some solidly creative variations on the whole reggae … genre.

    The problem is that reggae is too stylistically limited a genre to … well, constitute a "genre" of music at all. All reggae sounds like all reggae. So it boils down to the VOICE of the singer. And no one, ever, will have a voice like Marley's. So … unless your voice is as heartbreakingly rich as Marley's … what's the point? And since no one's is (to my mind, anyway, or that I've ever heard), what's the point?

    Yeah, the whole thing with Bob going Orthodox Christian before his death has always been … one of those No One Really Knows Things. What's known is that as a favor to his mother–and it was also something that his wife Rita very much wanted–Bob agreed to be baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at a time when he was sure he had maybe 2 weeks to live. And for SURE the EOC priest that Selassie sent to Jamaica to establish an EOC church there made a huge deal of TELLING everyone how Bob, at the last minute, had converted. But he had a LOT to gain by saying that–and by having Bob's funeral at the OEC church in Kingston.

    Bob lived about three months after his baptism–and he didn't say anything anyone knows about in all that time about becoming a Christian. He was a DEVOUT Rasta most of his adult life. A man of deep conviction, it's hard to believe he converted. I'd LOVE to think that he did, of course, but I personally just don't see any proof of it.

    Still. He cried with his wife and mom after his little baptism ceremony over his sickbed. So maybe! But I don't think so. If he'd really converted, he'd have talked about it in the next three months. He seemed to keep right on being the Rastafarian he … always had been.

  • Ross

    Thanks for the knowledge drop. You would think that he would have made some public statement regarding his conversion if it were so.

  • Especially given his nature. He was pretty open, and very serious, about all of his important beliefs. And Rastas had deep-seated problems with EOC. His conversion would have been a real renouncement of a lot of stuff that he and the people long closest to him held dear.

    On the other hand, he was, ultimately, an extremely private guy. And he has a whole … thing with staying, in essence, hidden in plain view.

  • Yeah, I know him; he has a pretty decent little following here in San Diego. I like him, too. I don’t LOVE him–his stuff’s a tad … pat–but …. anyway, yes, I’ve done a little writing about him. (Well, not me personally. But I’ve sent freelancers to his shows, and all that.)

  • Ross

    What about Steel Pulse?

    Hey John were you aware that Bob Marley accepted Christ before his death? If you Google something like “Bob Marley and Christianity” you can find articles about it. His funeral was done by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which according to one of the articles will only bury you if you have been baptized by the church. Article goes on to say that after he was baptized, he wept for hours. He died a couple of months after the baptizm.

  • Latoya

    Hey John,

    I know that my culture is different from yours, but anyway. Here in Jamaica we dont beleive that christians should be going to concerts like these (atleast not in my circle). Are you aware that the rastafarian is basically worshiping a human being as their God? You seem to be a very open minded person, but I seriously thing a person can be too open minded.

    I also read the blog about you being at the rock concert. That one was a shocker for me too. A christian?? at a rock concert???

    Please undertstand I am not condemning you at all, just expressing the difference in our culture.

  • No, no, I understand your concerns, and appreciate your appreciation of the differences that culture brings to bear on such issues. Do trust that I know (and have written) a great deal about Rastafarianism.

    I disagree with you on one thing: I don't think it's possible to be too open-minded. What do I fear from exposing myself to the experiences of others?