Coming to things late

It could be the country boy in me propelling it, but it takes me quite a while to latch onto new trends.  Whether it’s fashion, or appliances, or the latest gadget, the new “magic” food additive, or the new way men wear their pants, I’m usually one of the last people accepting the change.  When the thing has value, I come to it, but I concede I’m usually getting there late. It’s not a resistance that has come with age; it was there in me as a youngster growing up in Vreed-en-Hoop and at Timehri.

It was there in me years later when I moved to Canada and became involved in the music business full-time. By the time I formed my second band, the totally new Tradewinds in 1966, popular music had seen the emergence of the organ in small groups and in jazz combos.

Indeed, most of the Caribbean bands in Toronto had begun using electronic organs – the change had taken hold – but perhaps because I associated that sound with church choirs and death announcements on the radio in Guyana, I was not drawn to it.  Eventually, I added a keyboard player to Tradewinds in 1976, but by then almost a decade had passed, and my musical horizons had shifted.  I don’t jump at these things; I usually come to them late.

Take the cell phone.  I was living in Cayman about 28 years ago when they emerged. I remember my astonishment the first time I saw a man crossing the street in Grand Cayman, holding a phone to his ear (the bulky ones in the early years).  It was a comical sight; no way you’d catch me with one of those.

Indeed, even after the phones had become smaller, and were more commonly in use, your boy didn’t come around. I have three phones in my house and four in my office, why do I need that thing to walk around with?  It was only when my then wife bought me a cell phone for my birthday that I moved tentatively into modern communication.  Within a month, of course, I had seen the advantages of the device, particularly in emergencies, and I was hooked, but I was behind the crowd.

It was the same way with digital photography.  I had dabbled in amateur photography in Canada, starting with a small Zeiss-Ikon camera shooting black-and-white pictures, and then moving to a 35mm Minolta and later a Nikon.  I loved landscapes and, over the years, in my trips to Guyana, I spent a lot of time taking colour photographs all over the country.

I had some two dozen of them enlarged and I have them tucked away, potentially for framing some day. (One of my favourites is a picture of Shiv, batting against England in a one-day at Bourda that we won. It captures the batsman, the fieldsmen reacting to a stroke, the scoreboard with tins in full array, and the spectators poping on the roof of the eastern stand.)  But when digital cameras came along, I resisted; the change was too radical; the pictures looked flat; the colours looked fake. However, the ease of editing and emailing digital pictures eventually won me over. Mind you, my quibbles about digital photos are still there, but I admit that now I hardly use the film-based Minolta.  It’s taken a while, though.

For years, I would listen to music on headphones connected to a portable Sony CD player. It was light; it could fit in a carry-on; it worked on AA batteries; perfection.  When the high-tech music players came out, I stayed with my Sony.  I bought better Bose headphones, but that was it.

However, by the time the Sony died and I had to buy a new player, I discovered that the CD player I was tied to was a dinosaur; most stores didn’t carry them.  I scoured Miami and found one in a back-of-the-wall shop, but that new portable expired in two months.  By this time, I was of course surrounded on all sides by inventions like the IPOD, and I finally caved in and bought one last year, and I am now a believer.

I’ve just finished the job of transferring several hundred tracks from my CD collection onto the IPOD.  The sound is hugely better than the Sony CD player, and so are the speed of the selection, and the manipulation of the songs.

I’m a convert.  Late, yes, but a convert.

However, I’m not a complete pushover for these shifts.  I’m not about to get involved with the big-waist pants, and the consequent underwear showing, and the pulling up of the trousers as you walk.  Ditto for the tattoos adorning every inch of the male torso; there’s an aesthetic there that escapes me; I doubt you’ll ever catch Dave Martins with a tattoo of a camoudi on his shoulder. My Canadian son, Tony, has one of those fierce designs on his shoulder, but you know with all their cold weather it’s covered up for about six months in the year, so it’s not always on show.

Also, I still continue to resist the social media stuff that is now the rage – the Facebookers and the Twitterers. I’m not involved with that. I find much of it frivolous, and it seems that it’s used more as a plaything than anything else.

However, my Caymanian son Bryan maintains that the programmes have value and I’m dismissing something without trying it. He’s very much in touch with these modern trends (he’s actually my IPOD tutor), and he could be right.

On the other hand, I know me better than he knows me, and as far as I’m concerned that Facebook stuff is for the birds;  I doubt I’ll ever get there.  Of course, in some cases (organ; digital camera; cell phone; IPOD) I caved in, but as my history shows, it takes a while. As to why I’m that way, I don’t know, and I don’t care; it’s okay. You can laugh – that’s okay, too – but you don’t win me easily; so I go.


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