Monthly Archives: August 2006

The Week: Storm watch, or waiting for Ernesto

Curse of the sea turtle :-

This week 2 Bahia Principe workers were murdered



“Karen Brown’s Spain: Exceptional Places to Stay & Itineraries 2006 (Karen Brown’s Spain Charming Inns & Itineraries)” (Karen  Brown)

Cass cass continues :-

The dis-United National Congress (UNC) in Trinidad continues its’ diss-cussions. Details here and here and here.

The problem ? Winston Dookeran (Political leader), Basdeo Panday (Chairman) and Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Opposition leader) cannot agree on who is to run things. This is just fine with Prime Minister Patrick Manning and the ruling party, the Peoples National Movement (PNM).



“Callaloo or Tossed Salad? East Indians and the Cultural Politics of Identity in Trinidad” (Viranjini Munasinghe)



Good looking crime statistics :-

Minister of National Security Peter Phillips takes a bow for the 25% drop in serious crimes in Jamaica so far this year, BUT refuses to break out the champagne. He reckons we need similar big reductions for 2 or 3 years in a row, before any celebrations are due….



“Lost in the City” (Edward P. Jones)

Money and jobs :-

Despite the massive decline in Foreign Direct Investment in the region, tourist arrivals to Jamaica are the highest ever for July, Juici Patties is  investing in a family park, Northern Caribbean University is expanding, and the Brazilians are thinking about buying our sugar factories.

Only sad thing about all this money being spent is that almost none of it will be spent in Kingston (my birthplace, my hometown, and, unfortunately, the armpit of the Caribbean)…..



“Kingston: A Cultural and Literary History (Cities of the Imagination S.)” (David Howard)



Not cricket or very bad Hair day?

Darrell Hair, Aussie cricket umpire, won’t be missed……

His career ending decision to accuse the Pakistanis of ball-tampering, and then cede the Test Match to England, may get him a warm welcome in his new English hometown of Lincoln (where he migrated recently).

On the other hand, plenty of Pakistanis live in England, and they are not all gentle giants like Inzamam ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain…..

65622 Inzamamam ul-Haq





“A History of Australian Cricket” (Chris Harte, Bernard Whimpress)

Because Jamaica’s murder rate isn’t high enough :-

The British are sending home Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal (born in Jamaica as Trevor Forrest) . The Muslim cleric has been imprisoned since 2003 for inciting religious hatred i.e. encouraging Muslims to kill unbelievers…..

I’ve been trying to think of a positive spin to put on this news. How about this ?

Most likely the Sheikh will devote his time to converting angry young men from Kingston’s inner-city communities and he will then encourage them to move to Afghanistan, Iraq etc. where jihad can be waged without restriction…..Jamaica’s crime rate will then fall drastically…..yeah……..I’m not really believing it myself……



“Qawwali Jam: Islamic Gospal” (Mehar Ali and Sher Ali)



Because such is life in the tropics:-

Our first storm scare of the 2006 season is Tropical Storm Ernesto. Supposed to hit lunchtime tomorrow. Not really worrying, but definitely praying…..



“My Mother’s Hymn Book” (Johnny Cash)



“The Power & The Glory” (Mahalia Jackson)

“Hallelujah: Great Choral Classics” (Decca)

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Monday, Monday : The elections in Guyana

This week the blogger at Living Guyana congratulated the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on their victory in the next Monday’s elections (August 28, 2006).

Unlike many political analysts and journalists in the region, the blogger at Living Guyana is able to read and understand  poll data. (The poll data show the ruling party with a big lead over the numerous Opposition parties…).

If you are like me and aren’t up on the politics of Guyana, Robert Buddan of the UWI provides a good snapshot here.

Bharat            Robert Corbin-1

President Bharat Jagdeo                      Robert Corbin PNC-R

Apart from the occasional flooded out cricket match at Bourda (the world’s only cricket ground with a moat), Guyana usually comes to mind as a country that produces world class writers, most recently Mark McWatt.

My own favourites are Pauline Melville and Oonya Kempadoo, and I grew up on Edgar Mittelholzer, Jan Carew, E.R. Braithewaite (and on stories of Walter Rodney being flung out of Jamaica by the Jamaica Labour Party government in 1969). I would read Wilson Harris, but I don’t have a Ph.D……





“Buxton Spice” (Oonya Kempadoo)





“The Migration of Ghosts” (Pauline Melville)



“Suspended Sentences: Fictions of Atonement” (Mark McWatt)

Like many Jamaicans, many Guyanese with degrees, professions and choices, choose to live outside their country. The tone of those writing to Living Guyana and Demerara Lighthouse is one of despair in the face of the ruling PPP winning another election ( a despair that will be familiar to all those Jamaicans who are depressed at the prospect of a 5th term for the PNP ).

It may be cold comfort to the Guyanese, but we can offer them this hope :-



In Jamaica the talk shows that used to feature disgruntled citizens complaining exclusively about high crime and a stagnating economy, now also feature disgruntled citizens complaining about traffic (too many cars); the invasion of residential areas by businesses (sidewalk garages); the closing off of  beaches by developers (unregulated foreign investment); foreign cops (white police enforcing local law); the cost of tolls (new highways)  etcetera etcetera…..

The bottom line ? Our corrupt and incompetent Government has managed to give us a better class of problem…..So yours could too…….



“How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” (Walter Rodney)



“Palace of the Peacock (Faber Caribbean S.)” (Faber and Faber)



“Rape of Paradise: Columbus and the Birth of Racism in the Americas” (Jan R. Carew)



“Sylvia” (Edgar Mittelholzer)



“To Sir with Love” (E. R. Braithwaite)

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After Castro ? Rum, coke and democracy

Jamaicans go to Cuba to be educated, have eye operations, have cardiac treatments, do business, have fun, practice their Spanish, listen to music…..



“Buena Vista Social Club” (Wim Wenders)

Cubans come to Jamaica to (1) distribute light bulbs (2) work until they can find a way to get to the United States.

While lots of Jamaican tourists rave over Cuba (the people are so educated, the place is so clean, they keep up their old buildings….) nobody ever plans on moving there. Like the Cubans, if we’re leaving home it better be for Miami or New York ……

We also hear a lot about the dark days that will overtake Jamaica the moment that Cuba is freed from its communist toils.

From that moment on, we’re told, every single tourist between L.A. and Vladivostok will head to Cuba to soak up the sun, drink the rum, play the casinos and whatever else, leaving us Jamaicans to sit down alone under our palm trees ruing our lousy infrastructure, ignorant populace and lack of casinos……..



“Cuban Dance Party” (Bebo Valdés)

Nevertheless, we have to support the Cubans in becoming a democracy a.s.a.p. (especially since it’s  possible that Fidel Castro will be more fondly remembered in Jamaica than in Cuba – at least among those PNP supporters who were big somebodies in the 1970’s…..)

There is a lot of educated theorizing by informed persons about how things are likely to go after Castro dies (see the University of Miami’s Cuba in Transition, and an article by a Cuba expert and a sample view of the European press).

What I’m not seeing or hearing is an acknowledgment that the two biggest transitions to democracy in the last 20 years were pretty much huge surprises to everyone (the experts included).

Who knew that when Gorbachev took power in 1985, he would stumble his way into dissolving the Soviet Union and letting go of Eastern Europe ? Something that was inconceivable when Leonid Brezhnev died, three years earlier, in 1982 ?

And who knew that when F.W. de Klerk took over from P.W. Botha  as President of South Africa in 1989 (Botha had had a stroke), that in less than six months Nelson Mandela would be out of prison and negotiating the end of apartheid ?

So here are my completely uninformed predictions: –

Same way that Fidel has disappointed the hopes of all his enemies and detractors for 47 years, same way he will disappoint them again by preparing for a transition to democracy while he’s still alive…..



And/or, when Fidel dies, it will turn out that he has made preparations for his successor (Raul or whomever) to make the transition to democracy as soon as everyone reaches home from the funeral……

Castroneardeath2

“Estoy aqui.” (from Wonkette)

In the meantime, let’s drink to Cuba Libre. Pass the Coke, the Appleton (I’m not drinking Bacardi, sorry) and a piece of a lime. And more ice. Thanks.

Cheers.



“Cuba Libre” (Various Artists)



“Strawberry & Chocolate” (Juan Carlos Tabío, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea)



“Cuba Libre” (Elmore Leonard)

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The Week: Bad luck worse than obeah

On Wednesday night fire gutted a storeroom on the construction site of the Bahia Principe hotel at Pear Tree Bottom.

This follows on the collapse of the lobby of the new hotel; the crushing to death of a worker; riots over pay; a run-in with environmental groups (the hotel is being built on the breeding ground of sea turtles) and a partial collapse of the building last year.

Of course, these misfortunes are all the consequence of incompetent Government regulation, poor labour relations and poor construction practices, but let’s just call it “THE CURSE OF THE SEA TURTLE”……..

Turtle Sea turtle on the beach
from The Panama News


“Into the Sea” (Brenda Z. Guiberson)


“Turtle Rescue: Changing the Future for Endangered Wildlife (Firefly Animal Rescue)” (Pamela Hickman)

Not so Love-ly Tourism

In a month when the local and foreign papers are carrying stories about the charms of Jamaica’s rent-a-dreads (otherwise known as male prostitutes – women only section), a young Australian tourist was murdered in his Montego Bay hotel, apparently after taking a local female prostitute up to his room to smoke ganja.

It’s bad news for the Gloucestershire Hotel which is old, charming and right across the road from Montego Bay’s best beach, Doctor’s Cave. But what to do ?

Like every other hotel on the island (that caters to tourists) the Gloucestershire has notices advising that “unregistered guests” are not allowed in the rooms. You can carry your new friend to the bar, but not to the room…..For obvious reasons, the hotel staff never go to the trouble of explaining to visitors why this is, and hence many visitors just ignore the rule………


“Sex Tourism” (Chris Ryan)


“What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic (Latin America Otherwise)” (Denise Brennan)

The right time to retire ? Andrew Young ! Al Sharpton ! The time is now…….

It’s always nice to live long enough to become a total embarrassment to the next generation. You get to sit on the veranda and tell outrageous stories and have young people shake their heads at your outdated ideas and your ridiculous prejudices….Little later you can get yourself a drink – beer or rum, tea or cocoa, or whatever – and sit down in front of the TV and watch the news, all the time tut-tutting at the state of the world…..

Portrait Hr Andrew Young (from Santa Clara University)

The time has come for Andrew Young to take his seat on the veranda – he’s well over seventy (he was a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King) and earlier this year made threats to sue Bruce Golding, Jamaica’s Opposition Leader ( I forget why – something ridiculous). Now he’s resigned as a consultant to Walmart, after saying Walmart was better for blacks than Jews, Arabs and Koreans…..Wonkette has the best take on it….

The whole story is sad, not because he revealed that black people are just as racist as any other group of people (any Indo-Trinidadian or Indo-Guyanese could have told you that ), but because there’s only so long anyone can make a living solely off being a famous black man….and, come on, admit it, you had a little problem remembering what he’s famous for (Mayor of Atlanta long time ago, civil rights long time before that…..)……

Then Andrew, you should make some room on the veranda for another famous black man, the Reverend Al Sharpton. Uncle Al went to talk to the National Association of Black Journalists this week and complained about Hollywood and the recording industry making young black men think Gangsta is glamorous. According to Al, this leads to young black people thinking that the only way to be black is to be Gangsta……

Confused ? So am I. Here I was thinking that Al Sharpton had made a career out of defending black people’s right to riot, cuss and carry on bad (Crown Heights, Tawana Brawley etc.) and that this has had a bad(or good) effect on young men like 50 Cent who have made careers out of, and become very, very rich out of carrying on bad…….

Al Sharpton is only 52 years old, and is talking about running for President in 2008. But no matter. Andrew, go get your buddy a drink and then have a little chat to him about Senator Barack Obama – you know the black kid who’s actually managed to get elected to the Senate, and, unlike you, Al, has an outside chance of becoming President some day…

Senatorbarackobama Senator Barack Obama

Come on Al, you really want to embarrass a nice young man like that ?…..When there’s all this room on the veranda ?


“An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America” (Andrew Young)


“Al on America” (Al Sharpton, Karen Hunter)


“Resurrection” (2Pac)

Good luck better than money (good timing, Asafa)

 41462362 Powell-Ap300
Asafa Powell


Jamaica’s so-far-absolutely-squeaky-clean Asafa Powell went to Zurich and equalled his own world record on the same day that American sprinter Marion Jones was finally caught by a drug test (and while one-time Asafa rival Justin Gatlin waits to hear how long he’ll be banned for failing a drug test in April)……..

Just to make things sweet, Sherone Simpson (yes, she’s Jamaican too !) won the women’s 100 metres.

20060323Sheronesimpsonta Sherone Simpson

Congrats, guys. You made our weekend !

Accomplish what you will !

It was Marcus Garvey’s birthday this week, and the Government of Jamaica is working to clear his name in the U.S. (he was framed for mail fraud in 1923). Why is this important ? He’s a Jamaican National Hero. Next time you get the chance, visit the Garvey Museum in Liberty Hall (76 King Street, Kingston). It’ll make you proud.


“The American Experience – Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind” (Stanley Nelson)


“Garvey, His Work and Impact” (Rupert Lewis)

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World news from the Caribbean…….

World News Quiz

(1) Guess which world leader just set up his own blog ? With a comments section and a poll ? You’re right ! It’s the President of Iran ! President Ahmadinejad has his own blog – (find the English version by clicking on the flag with the little stars on it) and check it out here.

Please remember to give him your 2 cents on Atafeh Sahaaleh, the 16 year old girl his government executed for “crimes against chastity” or being raped (as it is known in the West……..)

Ahmadinejad President Ahmadinejad (from Le Monde)

(2) Which small Caribbean nation with an election due in a fortnight has recently experienced A. a daylight bank robbery where gunmen used pedestrians to block the roads, and,
B. the brutal murder of workers at a newspaper printery, and,
C. the arrest and  the summary deportation of a businessman to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges ?

You’re right ! It’s Guyana ! If you thought briefly that it might have been Jamaica, that’s because it all seems…..well, very Jamaican…….

(3) Which Chief Justice of which Caribbean island requested the Government to give him money to pay his lawyers so he can sue it ?

You’re right ! It’s Chief Justice Sharma of Trinidad!

(4) Which dancehall DJ, best known for beating up on Beenie Man, was ordered into counseling for beating up on his baby mother ?

You’re right ! It’s Bounty Killer ! Seems like the beating thing can get to be a habit…….


“No Argument” (Bounty Killer)

(5) Which Spanish hotel group is upsetting it’s neighbours in St. Ann, Jamaica by refusing to fix its’ drainage ?

Hey, did you think it was the Pinero Group who are building that huge Bahia Principe hotel at Pear Tree Bottom ?

Hope not. Because, of course, the offenders are the Riu Group who won’t fix the drainage at their Mammee Bay hotel, Riu Ocho Rios……see below….

Ori1

Signs of the times section


The Jamaican police have finally arrested Sasha Payne, the 17 year old, pregnant, mother of two who evidently got fed up of being used by bad men and became a gunman (and killer) herself…..

The Archbishop of York is protesting the war in the Middle East by camping out in a tent inside his cathedral……

Johnsentamu Archbishop of York John Sentamu

And finally, after what must have been the best reggae concert ever, a kibbutz in the Negev desert in Israel has developed a new semi-religious practice based on a mixture of Bob Marley’s music and Rastafarianism…..

Hey, why not ? Israel houses shrines holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam….definitely Bob Marley should be there !


“Legend (New Packaging)” (Bob Marley & The Wailers)


“Youth” (Matisyahu)

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World news from the Caribbean…….

World News Quiz

(1) Guess which world leader just set up his own blog ? With a comments section and a poll ? You’re right ! It’s the President of Iran ! President Ahmadinejad has his own blog – (find the English version by clicking on the flag with the little stars on it) and check it out here.

Please remember to give him your 2 cents on Atafeh Sahaaleh, the 16 year old girl his government executed for “crimes against chastity” or being raped (as it is known in the West……..)

Ahmadinejad President Ahmadinejad (from Le Monde)

(2) Which small Caribbean nation with an election due in a fortnight has recently experienced A. a daylight bank robbery where gunmen used pedestrians to block the roads, and,
B. the brutal murder of workers at a newspaper printery, and,
C. the arrest and  the summary deportation of a businessman to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges ?

You’re right ! It’s Guyana ! If you thought briefly that it might have been Jamaica, that’s because it all seems…..well, very Jamaican…….

(3) Which Chief Justice of which Caribbean island requested the Government to give him money to pay his lawyers so he can sue it ?

You’re right ! It’s Chief Justice Sharma of Trinidad!

(4) Which dancehall DJ, best known for beating up on Beenie Man, was ordered into counseling for beating up on his baby mother ?

You’re right ! It’s Bounty Killer ! Seems like the beating thing can get to be a habit…….


“No Argument” (Bounty Killer)

(5) Which Spanish hotel group is upsetting it’s neighbours in St. Ann, Jamaica by refusing to fix its’ drainage ?

Hey, did you think it was the Pinero Group who are building that huge Bahia Principe hotel at Pear Tree Bottom ?

Hope not. Because, of course, the offenders are the Riu Group who won’t fix the drainage at their Mammee Bay hotel, Riu Ocho Rios……see below….

Ori1

Signs of the times section


The Jamaican police have finally arrested Sasha Payne, the 17 year old, pregnant, mother of two who evidently got fed up of being used by bad men and became a gunman (and killer) herself…..

The Archbishop of York is protesting the war in the Middle East by camping out in a tent inside his cathedral……

Johnsentamu Archbishop of York John Sentamu

And finally, after what must have been the best reggae concert ever, a kibbutz in the Negev desert in Israel has developed a new semi-religious practice based on a mixture of Bob Marley’s music and Rastafarianism…..

Hey, why not ? Israel houses shrines holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam….definitely Bob Marley should be there !


“Legend (New Packaging)” (Bob Marley & The Wailers)


“Youth” (Matisyahu)

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The Jamaican folk: Some a dem a holler, some a bawl

Bawling
Miss Lou has left us. For once, we did everything right. Nice homecoming, nice funeral, lots of good remembrance.

Nationcostumeb

The best obituary was in the London Times, although Mervyn Morris’ piece for the Guardian wasn’t bad. Knolly Moses shouldn’t have been asked to do the one for the New York Times – it was just sad…..

Take some time this weekend, sit down with your copy of Jamaica Labrish and read a selection… remind yourself how funny (and true) Miss Lou’s work is….listen to Ernie Smith or the Carifolk Singers sing  “Evening Time” while you’re reading……And feel really good about being Jamaican…..

“Jamaica Labrish” (Louise Bennett)

As for the whole debate about making her a National Hero, I say make both her and Bob Marley National Heroes, same time. They are already. And leave the politicians to be made Heroes by the next generation of Jamaicans if, and when, they see fit…..

Hollering
Some people are still getting used to the new dispensation (the Portia era). This week Errol Greene of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (remember him ?…… he used to be the Town Clerk and run things at the KSAC) didn’t like the action of his new Chairman, Ethlyn Norton-Coke, who stopped him from giving out work to his friends without the approval (or knowledge) of his Board.

Then some government contractors are upset by the Contractor General, Greg Christie. They realise that things will not running right, if the gentleman is going to be running around enforcing rules and regulations.

And just to add to the mood of despondency among the PNP faithful (PJ camp) the still-new Prime Minister went to Denbigh and asked, actually asked, the Jamaican people to hold politicians accountable…….

Is only now that some of us remembering that it was Portia who, in 1991, locked up her predecessor as Minister of Labour, J.A.G. Smith Jr., for stealing the farm worker’s money…..

Praising

Some men, namely Minister of National Security Peter Phillips, Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas and DCP Mark Shields, have no problem putting their money (and their career) where their mouth is. The murder rate continues to trend down.

More than 250 fewer murders for 2006 than for 2005.

Nuff respect, guys.


“The Glory Boys: True-life Adventures of Scotland Yard’s SWAT, the Last Line of Defence in the War Against International Crime” (Steve Collins)


“Bent Coppers: The Inside Story of Scotland Yard’s Battle Against Police Corruption” (Graeme McLagan)

Grieving

Where is the outrage and upset for Lynval Mitchell who was crushed to death on the Bahia Principe site last week ? Supposedly (and unbelievably) because the contractors were using wooden, not metal, scaffolding….. Work started again today, under the supervision of the St. Ann Parish Council, that well-known regulatory powerhouse…..

Wonder if Spanish tourists believe in duppy ?


“The Duppy” (Anthony C. Winkler)


“Duppy Conqueror” (Ferdinand Dennis)

Hoping



Images Rene Simoes (Iran’s coach !)


The Reggae Boys need a coach, and Rene Simoes might be available. Yes !!! Before Mark Shields came to the Rock, Rene Simoes was the only gentleman who could give some Jamaican women “foreign mind”.  We know Iran can’t be all that sweet right now…….and we know things can never be the way they were, but no mind…..

Come home, Rene !!


“Jamaica: Football Reggae” (Various Artists)


“The Way We Were” (Barbra Streisand)

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