Monthly Archives: January 2013

Not different things

A Trini friend was a writer for the Wall Street Journal. I asked him about returning home to give back. He replied, “Rubadiri, you know how I love my country and business- but I can’t come back to a country whose leaders don’t understand that there’re people in this world who’re hundred-millionaires because they can skateboard! They don’t have a clue how the world works!”

I’ve been in meetings these last few weeks where it’s clear our leaders believe that “humanity” and “business” are two different things. The split comes in many forms. They believe they must choose between “culture” or “profitability”, “heritage” or “progress”, “people” or “development’. Not for a second seeing that these are not different things. That actually culture—even in its pure form—is profitable—that Bunyol- a small Spanish town- attracts 50,000 tourists annually for a tomato-throwing festival! Bunyol begun charging participants US$13 to throw. Do the math! This festival began as a re-enactment of a fight between youths- and is now a multi-million dollar earner. They haven’t changed an essential thing about how it works. They honoured its origins.

Phagwa in India, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, Macy’s Thanksgiving in New York, Brazil’s and Venice’s carnivals, bull-running in Pamplona, Oktoberfest in Germany, and many other festivals are multi-million dollar economies that don’t sacrifice origins, native-crafts, and ritual to earn money. And they’re more successful than us. They use the rhythms of their rituals to provide opportunities for earning- but understand the sanctity of the ritual that provides the attraction. The magnetism of authenticity… Read the rest of this entry

ACTT in 2012: AN OVERVIEW OF THE WORK IN 2012

HERE IS A SUMMATION OF THE WORK DONE BY ACTT IN 2012 IN REPRESENTING THE CREATIVE & CULTURAL SECTOR OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO. The following gives an overview of ACTT’s work in 2012. It looks at projects engaged, battles fought, ground won and lost. It is a dispassionate assessment of the battlefield of cultural activism and ACTT’s role in it. IT WAS A HARDCORE YEAR WITH MANY BLOODY BATTLES WITH SOME SERIOUS LOSSES,BUT ALSO SOME CRITICAL VICTORIES. ACTT WAS ABLE TO WORK ON 6 MAJOR PROJECTS & PURSUE 12 LINES OF ACTIVISM WITH SOME DEGREE OF SUCCESS. WE WERE ABLE TO STOP CERTAIN MAJOR FOLLIES FROM GOING THROUGH, BUT WERE UNABLE TO STOP THE MAJOR BETRAYAL OF THE SECTOR WITH THE REMOVAL OF THE 129 LINE ITEMS. MEANWHILE THE SECTOR LOST OVER 50 GIANTS & THE COUNTRY IS NOW ON THE BRINK OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ITS GOLDEN AGE GENERATION. It may be possible in hindsight to look back and see 2012 as a turning point in the battle for the mainstreaming of the progressive agendas of the Cultural Sector in Trinidad & Tobago.

Meet SuperBlue

I’m just here to say I love you
A voice from out the blue.
—SuperBlue “Fantastic Friday

So the talk of the town—justifiably so—is the redemptive return of SuperBlue and the song “Fantastic Friday”. The deceptively simple song is a master-class for all young pretenders on song craftsmanship, economy with lyrics, and why there’s no replacement for melody.

You can visualise the mayhem that will accompany this song in the stadium. Good mayhem. A mayhem of joy…The song is evidence of the best of what Soca Monarch can be: the irresistible force of the great party song marshalled by the mesmeric figure at the centre of soca’s ability to move bodies. I’ve a mental catalogue of transcendent Monarch moments: nearly all Blue’s galvanic performances—from those first years when the Monarch was a few hundred people and a stage on barrels, to Blue’s epic performances whilst climbing scaffolding; Destra’s holy performance of “Carnival” in 2003 when she should’ve won; Iwer’s in 2011 when he should’ve won; Machel’s pitch-perfect multi-media stage-performance that same year that pipped Iwer; and Bunji’s amazing 2005 performance of “Blaze It” when he literally became Ogun… Read the rest of this entry