Laughter as medicine

As a voracious reader going back to my school days at Saints (Stanley Greaves had introduced me to the British Council Library to my delight), I remember once being struck by a comment from then US President John Kennedy which went something like this: “Mankind has two things he can draw on to deal with life’s many problems: one is God and the other one is sense of humour.

Calypso contortions

With Mashramani in the air in Guyana and Carnival winding down in Trinidad, the subject of calypso is once again in the air. 

What will tomorrow bring?

In another time in my life, when I was domiciled in Grand Cayman, I wrote a musical about the early beginnings of development in that country (the 1950s) when the first major tourism hotel, financed by UK money, was going up on the island’s now famous Seven Mile Beach. 

A long way to go

I cannot recall who invited me, but approximately a year or so ago I was in the audience when Trinidadian Dr Keith Nurse gave a sterling presentation here dealing with regional issues relating to Caricom. 

Bright spots in the gloom

Anywhere we live, mankind has pressing issues to deal with – it’s not just Guyana – and everywhere as well, there are bright spots in the gloom. 

More criticism, not less

There are two slants to this missive today.  The first is that over the years, starting with when I lived in Grand Cayman, I have developed a very productive connection, mostly by frequent email, with some pivotal persons in the Caribbean which has made for some interesting exchanges over time. 

Progenitors

By now you may have noticed that I am a dialect man.  I’m not sure when that emerged, but it could well have been at university in Canada where, in a linguistics class, the value of our dialect first hit home. 

Reminder from the hurricanes

Amid the various discussions of the diverse factors in play, the fundamental piece in mainstream Caribbean tourism is blue water and white sand; traverse the span as I have, from Puerto Rico in the north to tiny Bequia in the south, one will see that, and it is an understandable pull. 

Blinders in cricket

I have several friends who are serious cricket aficionados and they are meticulous in sending me almost anything to do with the sport that comes their way. 

Learning from History

In countries around the globe, mankind in his diverse locations, is now generally very well served with information about his/her life now and in earlier times. 

Travelling in the good old days

On the way back from a recent trip to Canada, it occurred to me that although there are still airline problems in the Caribbean, it is nothing compared to the headaches that used to exist.

A bow to Trinidad

Anyone who writes will attest that one direction leads to another.  In my So it go notebook, for instance, there is this one direction that deals with the origin of the word “soca” and the reminder is there for me because the explanation we frequently hear is that when Lord Shorty combined calypso and American “soul” music in this new rhythm with higher tempos and more emphasis on drum track in the recording, he named it soca from that “soul” American influence and from the calypso origin. 

Lights dawning

Going back to the ‘30’s and the ‘40’s, an enduring message for young people growing up in Guyana was that the white culture was supreme. 

We did not want to know

In an earlier comment about song-writing I made the point that while talent has to be there, the more critical quality is observation because that is almost always the ingredient that sets a song apart; the writer has turned a light on something in the society, or in an individual, that would have otherwise escaped the rest of us in the populace. 

The heyday is gone but the sweetness lives

Calypso achieved popularity with the arrival of calypso tents in Port-of-Spain, particularly from the first commercial recordings in the 1930s, and from the spread of the tents after World War Two ended in 1945.

Very important voices

  In the bewildering variety of things that come over the electronic transom we now have on the internet, there occasionally comes a gem that stops you in your tracks; even more rare is the gem that gives you goose bumps. 

Build better or suffer

This week, in the aftermath of the Category 5 hurricanes ripping up the Caribbean, some gripping videos and still photos are making the rounds, and a standout in the lot is a BBC documentary on Hurricane Irma titled ‘Apocalypse and the Aftermath’.

Effective communication strategy

As anyone who has seen me perform knows, I frequently go off in some good-natured commentary on various things cultural, and one of them is the effectiveness of our dialect, so that a reaction from Bernard Fernandes, a diaspora Guyanese, lauding a point about dialect I recently made, leads me to shout, as I have before, for the value of our dialect and to consequently object when it is attacked. 

Hurricane horrors

Before I went to live in Grand Cayman in 1980, I felt that I had some idea of what a hurricane would be like – high winds, plenty rain, houses boarded up, stores closed, and, in the case of low-lying islands such as Grand Cayman, a few feet of sea-water coming ashore. 

Jamaicans booing Chris Gayle

Caribbean media was awash this week with reports of Chris Gayle, playing for the St Lucia Stars in the CPL, as opposed to the Talawahs, the side representing Jamaica in the national tournament, running into some concerted booing from the crowd at Sabina, purportedly because of his disloyalty, or rejection of his roots.