So It Go
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this interest about understanding how things work, about the intricacies at play, about the skills involved .
Among the many admirable qualities in mankind, probably the most galvanizing is the willingness to say, “I was wrong .
Sorry to disappoint you, but the widely popular notion of art as being the result of a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, of a bulb lighting up, is one that is generally false .
Many of us in the Caribbean have it in for the USA – the interference in the affairs of other countries; the deadly machinations of their agencies such as the CIA and the FBI; their massively corrupt system of lobbying government running in the millions of dollars daily; their opiate problem – the list goes on – but there are times when you simply have to hand it to America .
Anyone with even basic awareness must be conscious of the many difficulties we face dealing with daily life in Guyana .
It is a part of human nature here and elsewhere that we sometimes deal with contentious issues by adopting a position of delusion, so as not to deal with the unpleasantly real factors involved .
I’ve said it before .
Many of us grew up in a Caribbean where the frequent message, ranging from gently implied to pungently expressed, was that we were a second-rate people .
Sports on television and radio is part of modern life .
Nothing in history, not even the Industrial Revolution, has produced anything remotely like the staggering level of change that has descended on the world with the technological revolution now spinning faster and faster around mankind .
Newcomers to driving in Guyana, either born here or recently come here, are at some disadvantage with the material given to them by the Motor Vehicle Licence Office .
I’m a bit of a romantic – some would even say quite a bit – so I’ve always been fascinated by the approaches men take as they set about, as we used to say in Guyana, to “trap a binny” .
This is my 50th year in the entertainment business, and along the way there’s been much to be grateful for .
We tend to read or listen to the writers or pundits with whom we agree .
There are times in our lives when we’re concerned about some condition around us, but we get caught up with more pressing matters and the concern fades for a while .
Many of the persons with a creative bent I know have this inclination to notice things in their societies that seem to escape most people, and not only notice but become irritated at the negative ones and take delight over the positives .
It could be the country boy in me propelling it, but it takes me quite a while to latch onto new trends .
It’s not obvious – in fact it’s often completely overlooked – but the truth is that in every high quality performance in the arts, including literature, the writing is the key .
Folks who come back to Guyana, even for a visit, are hardly off the plane before they suddenly become experts on what’s wrong with the country .
There are all sorts of strange tales about my song Not A Blade O’ Grass .
As much as we talk about “the region” in one context or another, as a kind of given, and as much as some of our political leaders – Forbes Burnham, Owen Arthur, Ralph Gonsalves, etc .
One of the best examples of what can be described as “cliché thinking” is to be found in the frequent diatribes against well-known artistes, particularly popular singers, who are lambasted these days for leading the public, more especially youth, into various negative social actions .
With the explosive running performances in its recent Track and Field Championships, Jamaica is again in the world press for the world-class calibre of its athletes .
I know I’m not breaking any new ground here in my assertion that while there are surely many men who are standout human beings, men, as social beings, are generally jackasses .
It comes with the territory; when you achieve some sort of prominence in the arts, people are naturally curious about the process .
Most things happen in isolation; some things appear as part of a wider condition .
Some weeks ago I mentioned in a column that when I bought a nightclub in Toronto as a home base for Tradewinds, that although I had put up my house to secure the purchase, that didn’t quite cover it, and I had to turn to my sister and her husband to put a second mortgage on their house to seal the deal .
You can try to describe Kaieteur Falls to someone who hasn’t seen it; you can try, but you will fail .
“What’s your favourite Tradewinds song, and which one you feel has had the strongest reaction?” I’ve been asked that many times .
In the course of doing my column recently, I remembered a time in 2008, when I was living in Cayman, and a close Guyanese friend, living in America, had sent me a couple emails complaining about the rot in Guyana .
Some weeks ago, I’m on the phone with a friend in Canada who is infuriated about the boorish behaviour of a recent guest in his household .
Some readers tell me, with grace, that I deal too much with cricket .
Sometimes you learn from an unexpected source .
Wherever we live, there are situations or conditions or attitudes in the society that we come across, or they come across us, that have a negative impact on how we see the place .
When I decided to write a weekly column for Stabroek News, some preconceptions were involved .
It’s true .
I had had a brief encounter with the dress code previously at the Cultural Centre, or rather my wife did, so I went last week forewarned this time .