Monday, 16 June 2014



What controversy? There’s a Carnival controversy?

I was at the opening of Carnival and there was no controversy. As far as I could tell, everyone there had a great time.

It was Father’s Day. There were children, bubbles, toys, a bouncing castle that kinda worked some of the time  and some really nice performances.

It reminded me of what I thought Carnival was when I was a child: a bunch of people getting together to play some good music, masquerade in makeup, masks and costumes and generally have a good time. Of course, by the time I grew up, all the  fertility dances had become artless grinds, all the lyrical innuendo had become blatant radio porn and the costumes were basically the same from year to year – a pair of shorts, a belt and a head piece for guys and some sequences attached to a string with feathers for the girls. All imported from Trinidad or China or wherever fake things come from.

This Father’s Day Carnival Opening was even better than that for me, because when Carnival was Carnival, the Mindoo Philip was a muddy mess. Last Sunday, I was practically laying on the grass, with my children in my lap like it was Pigeon Island National Park in the middle of Marchand.

The surrounding controversy didn’t enter the ground at all. The fact that there was a small crowd must have been disappointing for organizers and vendors. But for those of us looking for a family day, it just meant that there were fewer drunk assholes and bitches in high and underwear setting a terrible public example for children who are just learning to love Mas.

I witnessed the return of Ashanti to the big stage, last Sunday. My children saw that. That’s like the Lucian equivalent of bringing your kids to see Bob Dylan perform. Okay, maybe not Dylan, but you check what I’m trying to say.

My son, who has been to pan rehearsals, finally saw the pay-off of months of rehearsals. My one-year-old daughter, I found out, is a brutal music critic. I tried to explain that Ashanti is not at his best and this is merely the beginning of the season, but she insisted that while Minelle was better, Blaze with his throwback classic about sex, lies and rum was actually the best of the best that she has seen yet. (Her reviews are, of course, non-verbal. She eithers dances or totally ignores performers. But with Blaze, she would stop and listen to the story in the verse and burst into dance just as he gets into the chorus. Hilarious.)

I didn’t stay for the soca portion of the show. I find that ever since the tragedy of Ninja Dan imprisonment, St Lucian soca has been less and less like romping around in bed with a girl  and more and more like jocking into a piece of tissue.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Ninja was one of the symbols of an emerging, original St Lucian sound. You could hear it in songwriters like TC Brown, Bachelor and others who were not following trends, but doing their own thing.

Ninja Dan, for me, was the epitome of it because his simple lyrics would creep deep into the  St Lucian psyche, history and culture for its hooks. Remember when he did ‘Karate’. That had nothing to do with Asians. That was about enduring St Lucian passion, in this case, for Asian action movies. Furthermore, while every other song was built to make youwave your hand or a flag or your fat, stupid ass as though it was something sexy, Ninja conceived a song whose lyrics suggested a style of movement that everyone was already familiar and could join in with on a moment’s notice.

It was soca that even children could dance to.

Right now, I’m not sure I even want to know what Lucian soca artists have to say to my children. So I got them out of there.  No offense,  soca artists. It’s not your fault that you suck.

It’s the first time I’ve been to a Carnival event in years.

And I rather enjoyed it. I think I might want to take my kids to more wholesome Carnival events (sorry, NG Soca).

It also occurs to me that I might want to find out who is driving this year’s controversy and why. After years of covering culture and Carnival, I think I detect a pattern of sabotage here.

The political tribes are constantly short-changing our indigenous festivals, like Carnival and Jazz, while the fabricated festival, Jazz, is constantly over-budget, constantly in the red and constantly underwritten by the government.

The production tribes (Augier’s clan, the Red clan,  etc) are constantly lobbying for things to go their way. In spite of anything government does or doesn’t do, these people will position themselves to get cash to flow their way. They rather make manjay cochon with Carnival than stay without their cut.
So that’s that agenda in play while government is playing sheesse for Carnival and playing Sugar Daddy for Jazz.

Then, the actual artists who write songs and build costumes are constantly on the short end of the stick counting their money in hundreds while the production tribes count their money in the tens and hundreds of thousands.

And the people who are at CDF or the Carnival organizing committee or whatever….these people  have been set up to fail. No matter what they want to achieve, it aint going to get done that way.

So whether you have Jacques or Boots or John Robert Lee or Teddy or whatever, the organizers and the artists are getting screwed.

I don’t know how I’m going to look deeper into that mess while Noah propels himself across the field and Rainy decide to chase bubbles in the exact opposite direction.

To tell you the truth, I’m sick of Carnival controversy. It’s anti-thetical to everything Carnival is about. All this importing and money-grabbing and media in-fighting is the opposite of the spirit of Carnival.

I think I might enjoy Carnival more if I simply ignore the people who want to ruin it for spurious reasons.

But if I let the sores fester, it ruins Carnival for my children in the future. The costumes part, I don’t care for too much, so if a nuke falls out of the sky and annihilates Red Carnival Band from the face of the Earth, that’s no sweat off my back.

But as a Caribbean journalist, I have a deep investment in the survival and progress of kaiso in particular. The original journalists of the islands’ people were musicians who sang ‘la verite’ -  which in this day and age would sound very much like musical pawol jettay.

High class pawol jettay is not just the foundation stone of Caribbean journalism, it is the future. With social media edging out broadcast little by little, everyday, the calypsonian, as the most entertaining of the truth-tellers will soon rise in importance again.

With that said, THE FLOGG announces the full intention to mess with everyone who tries to mess with Carnival this year. 
THE FLOGG hopes that anyone who becomes a victim of this high class pawol jettay and brutal la veritay will take it all in the spirit of Carnival and know that it ain’t personal.

We're doing it for the children.
Unlike you, who are doing it for the money.

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