So It Go
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 .
In the early 1990s, during the ‘mo fyah’ disturbances, a prominent Guyanese political figure called me in Toronto with the suggestion that I should write a song to help calm tensions .
Every now and then you run into people who are true masters at what they do .
Out of nowhere, sometimes from a complete stranger, sometimes from someone who knows you intimately, a chance remark will come to you and set you thinking about a subject you had not previously considered .
I approach the columns I write for Stabroek News appreciating that, among other things, they are likely to trigger discussion .
Approximately 15 years ago yesterday, a young man from Berbice arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario .
Within a month or so of returning home to live, I found myself in a well-known lawyer’s office in town to have a document notarized .
I’m driving with this Canadian lady heading for “cottage country” in Northern Ontario .
This started with a comment from my friend Henry Muttoo, the theatre whiz, following a piece of poetry by Louise Bennett I had sent him .
I hate to travel .
When I formed the Tradewinds band in Toronto in the late 1960s, we played frequently at a small bar downtown on Yonge Street (the main drag) called the Bermuda Tavern .
I’m a big fan of the American evangelist Bishop T D Jacques .
About four years ago I travelled from Cayman for the funeral of my friend Bobby Clarke who had died in Castries after a tough two-year battle with cancer .
Hardly a day goes by without someone, in a private gaff or a public forum, waxing eloquently about “the good old days,” and how great things were then, and how unfortunate our young people .
This may surprise you, but it has taken me a long time to realise how deeply my songs have penetrated the Caribbean culture generally, and particularly that of Guyana .
The progression of the prominent, the ones who appear before us as elected politician, social activist, business tycoon, etc, is intriguing for the different stages in the professional lives of these individuals .
Living in a generally benign climate, Caribbean people have a close relationship with the creatures of nature, but there’s a particular relationship with dogs (another subject for another day) and, to some degree, goats .
I’ve talked before about nonsensical ideas we repeat as mantra – “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” and “Time heals all wounds” are two of them .
Election time will inevitably turn the temperature up on every issue under the sun, including lately complaints about the media displaying lack of veracity, lack of balance, and misinformation .
A friend of mine living outside, Alex Neptune, recently sent me a photo of the Caribbean fruits and vegetables he grows in his backyard in New York and remarked on the number of fruits we have in the region, and that we appear to have lost some .
It is part of the fulminations of life that nothing happens in isolation .
Getting inside a culture and unravelling it for someone is tough enough if you’re from that culture .