So It Go
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 .
It is often the case when popular musical patterns shift – roughly every 15 years or so – that the adults of the mature generation, who are left behind yearning for their music that is now passé, will generally turn their backs on the new genre or even shut it out completely .
A good idea, although previously ignored, always bears repeating .
When I moved to Canada 50-plus years ago, a musical career was not on my radar .
Daily life in Guyana, particularly if you pick up the newspapers, knows no shortage of despairing incidents – “jarrings,” I call them – that combine to strain one’s resilience .
Calypso is once again under the lens in a fine unravelling by Raymon Cummings in a recent letter to this newspaper where he expressed urgent concern for the declines in standard, in quality of judging, in song topics, and in marketability of the material .
I’m not a Twitter and Facebook guy .
Twelve years ago, when I was living in Grand Cayman, I bought a minivan in Tampa and shipped it down .
A close friend sent me a note recently that I’m passing onto you .
Several weeks ago, I wrote a column entitled ‘Knowing the fine fine‘ on the point that to understand the why and the how and the where of conditions in a country you have to live there a long time in order to begin to see all the factors, many invisible, that are operating on the particular aspect that’s bugging you – garbage in town; speeding minibuses; shoddy workmanship, etc .
A young man from West Demerara who takes care of the electrical problems in my home was pointing out to me this past week that I should get rid of the half dozen or so fluorescent fixtures in the place .
Useful as they are, dictionaries are inadequate when we are trying to define certain intangibles .
One of the striking things about the Guyanese culture is our disposition to improvise, to use our ingenuity, to use our wiles, to try and overcome .