So It Go

Getting the priorities right

Getting the priorities right

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 .

Dancehall music is not just noise

Dancehall music is not just noise

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 .

Reeling in the Diaspora

Reeling in the Diaspora

A good idea, although previously ignored, always bears repeating .

Streams of influence

Streams of influence

When I moved to Canada 50-plus years ago, a musical career was not on my radar .

Images to treasure

Images to treasure

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 .

Struggling with calypso

Struggling with calypso

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 .

Settling for less

Settling for less

I’m not a Twitter and Facebook guy .

It’s not for sale

It’s not for sale

Twelve years ago, when I was living in Grand Cayman, I bought a minivan in Tampa and shipped it down .

Everywhere you look

Everywhere you look

A close friend sent me a note recently that I’m passing onto you .

Preparation is lacking

Preparation is lacking

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 .

There was a time

There was a time

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 .

Character will out

Character will out

Useful as they are, dictionaries are inadequate when we are trying to define certain intangibles .

Guyanese ingenuity

Guyanese ingenuity

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 .

Ethnicity rules

Ethnicity rules

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 .

Masters at work

Masters at work

Every now and then you run into people who are true masters at what they do .

Keeping the pot bubbling

Keeping the pot bubbling

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 .

Passion ruling reason

Passion ruling reason

I approach the columns I write for Stabroek News appreciating that, among other things, they are likely to trigger discussion .

From Kaieteur to Niagara – on a bicycle

From Kaieteur to Niagara – on a bicycle

Approximately 15 years ago yesterday, a young man from Berbice arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario .

Not so godforsaken after all

Not so godforsaken after all

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 .

We’re spoiled rotten

We’re spoiled rotten

I’m driving with this Canadian lady heading for “cottage country” in Northern Ontario .

Forgetting the forerunners

Forgetting the forerunners

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 .

Pictures without sound

Pictures without sound

I hate to travel .

You cannot teach talent

You cannot teach talent

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 .

When next you doubt

When next you doubt

I’m a big fan of the American evangelist Bishop T D Jacques .

Giving thanks

Giving thanks

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 .

The past is over rated

The past is over rated

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  .

My songs

My songs

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 .

When they laugh, you’re done

When they laugh, you’re done

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 .

Goats in Caribbean life

Goats in Caribbean life

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 .

All men are not created equal

All men are not created equal

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 .

We determine the newspapers we have

We determine the newspapers we have

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 .

Chasing Caribbean fruits

Chasing Caribbean fruits

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 .

History in the making

History in the making

It is part of the fulminations of life that nothing happens in isolation .

Going back home in your mind

Going back home in your mind

Getting inside a culture and unravelling it for someone is tough enough if you’re from that culture .

Lessons in Caribana

Lessons in Caribana

I was living in Toronto, 44 years ago, playing music full time with the Tradewinds band, when the annual Caribbean festival in Toronto known as Caribana was born .

You’re in the Caribbean

You’re in the Caribbean

I sometimes play this game where I ask persons to complete the following sentence: “You know you’re in the Caribbean when…”  You get some delightful responses and often surprises; you should try it some time .

Dogs

Dogs

My Caymanian daughter mentioned to me recently that she had not paid much attention to dogs growing up (we had several), but that now they’re a joy in her life .



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