art in all its forms

art in all its forms


Paramaribo SPAN, Suriname

Detail of artist Ravi Rajcoomar's installation for the Paramaribo SPAN exhibition; Paramaribo, Suriname. Photos courtesy Nicholas Laughlin.

An important exhibition of contemporary art, curated by Trinidadian artist Christopher Cozier, this week opens in Paramaribo, Suriname.

The exhibition, which ARTSPUB blogger Richard Rawlins has described as "a bubbling, energetic, dynamic" runs from February 26 to March 14 and serves as a platform for young artists. It is part of a larger conversation about contemporary art and visual culture in Suriname, which has, of course resonance for the wider Caribbean given our similar histories.

According to the SPAN blog, "The project has three separate but interconnected platforms: an exhibition, which will open in Paramaribo in February 2010; a book to be published in three editions (Dutch, English, Portuguese); and a blog, which is at once a journal, an archive, and an independent creative undertaking.

The project is, in part, a culmination of the ArtRoPa initiative, a four-year series of exchanges between artists based in Paramaribo and Rotterdam, intended to promote creative dialogue between these very different locations which are nonetheless linked by elements of history, culture, and language."
Artist Dhiradj Ramsamoedj's project includes an installation of tin mugs that belonged to his grandmother, stenciled with her portrait. 

VISIT the SPAN blog hereREAD more here at the ARTSPUB website. 

'Shutter Island' is Martin Scorcese's Holocaust film

Leonardo DiCaprio suffers from one hell of a migraine 

The buried subject of Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island is more surprising than the film's final twist. While any viewer is likely to see the closing 10 minutes coming from the start of the movie, she is not likely, however, to have expected Scorcese's brilliant (and oblique) examination of World War II.

True, Scorcese's source material, a novel of the same name penned by Denis Lahane (author of Mystic River) does deal with the aftermath of the war. But in this film, the director of Taxi Driver and The Departed is doing far more than being faithful to his source material.

In 1954, U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio in his best film performance to date) is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Boston's infamous Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. With his partner Chuck (the undervalued Mark Ruffalo), he sets off to the island and arrives to find one hell of a creepy institution.

Teddy soon uncovers a promising lead, but the hospital (headed by Ben Kingsley) refuses him access to records he suspects would break the case wide open. As a hurricane cuts off communication with the mainland, more dangerous criminals 'escape' in the confusion, and the puzzling, improbable clues multiply, Teddy begins to doubt everything around him and begins to suffer increasingly intense flashbacks and hallucinations.

The bare bones of the material are nothing new. But with the aid of the great editor Thelma Schoomaker, Scorcese has created a powerful and compelling mood poem that unsettles and surprises. Schoomaker has edited each and every one of Scorcese's films and is a key reason why his movies are so revered. Here she once more excels with an editing technique that focuses on what the best editing should: the relationship between images; the integration of image and sound and the transition of tones one frame to the next.

There are eerie and beautiful images that don't just exist to please us but also serve the story. As for that thing, the plot, when it all falls into place what remains becomes something of a meditation on buried history; of society's inability to process past atrocities. This is key to scenes where Teddy recalls his experiences during World War II.

In one scene he recalls piles of dead children at a work-camp. In another, his confrontation with a Nazi military officer who tries to kill himself. And in another, the murder of a group of Nazis by American forces. Scorcese is careful to make acute social observations later: a Nazi doctor works at the hospital on Shutter Island, apparently after having fled Germany. The hospital itself is staffed with and contains Jews, and also blacks. The blacks are given specific roles, in a social order not yet able to learn lessons from the anti-semitism of WWII.

All of these details are not just embellishments to the mental discord within Teddy's mind but are key to what I think is the central subject of this film: history. In this sense the work resembles Michael Haneke's Cache (for which Scorcese has been linked to direct an American remake).

Shutter Island was supposed to have been released last year but Studio executives were unsure it would perform effectively during the American Fall season, normally glutted with award-bait.

If it had been released last year, it would have, most likely, been compared to that other great revisionist treatment of World War II: Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Both films approach their central tragedy from unexpected avenues and, in the process, avoid falling into the traditional tropes that surround the American cinema's relationship with and treatment of the Holocaust. Shutter Island, which is the best film of the year thus far, is a movie that cannot be ignored. Even when it becomes predictable, it remains deeply unsettling and unforgettable because of how it builds a fortress and breaks history down like a house of cards.

WATCH the Shutter Island trailer here.


A new kind of mas?

Cobo Town on Carnival Tuesday around the Savannah. Photos courtesy Georgia Popplewell.

In between the bikini and beads of this week's Carnival, a band of cobos slinked, darkly. On Carnival Monday, band members held standards bearing individual slogans which band members had painted themselves in red paint. On Tuesday, standards were ditched, with band-members wearing beaked headpieces and large flowing capes, all black.  There was no music truck, only a small music cart.

The designs were straightforward and efficient. But in the sea of everything else that passed for mas this Carnival, they stood out. Curious onlookers were struck by what they called "real mas". 

The artist Ashraph's band 'Cobo Town'--which this week placed fourth in the small band of the year competition--was not a re-invention of the wheel. But because mas has now degenerated into a mercenary "all-inclusive" experience with little or no edge or individuality, it simply stood out.

As I chipped along through the streets of Port of Spain in the band I found it ironic that onlookers were looking in awe. Clearly, they had grown unaccustomed to seeing so much fabric on masqueraders. 

But worse, some, who have perhaps forgotten the roots of the mas and the great bands of yesteryear, might not have realised that mas used to be just like this; cosy, fun, do-it-yourself; punk. Instead, they looked on in awe at what they perhaps thought was a new kind of mas; a new way of enjoying Carnival. 

The costumes were relatively cheap (though they contained more design elements than any of the thousand-dollar costumes of the bigger bands) and people mixed and matched to fit.  It's a wonder there were not more bands like it this year amidst the global economic downturn. 

Could Cobo Town, then, become the blue print for a new trend? Clearly the band has demonstrated the possibilities for people to come together and make their own mas, like they used to (and in some places still do). 

While not a new kind of mas, the band certainly presents the intriguing prospect of a new process that is long overdue in Trinidad's waning Carnival: re-discovery. With relatively little resources it demonstrated the possibilities of the mas in a festival now being stymied by its own mercenary tendencies.
COBO TOWN was brought out by Cat in Bag Productions which you can find hereVISIT Ashraph's mas camp hereCHECK a sign from the band hereREAD more about this year's Carnival here. RECAP the Dimanche Gras here. RELIVE the Soca Monarch Finals here


Poem without words

I took this photograph at New Street, Port of Spain, three years ago. I've had it on my computer for a while now. I used to see the man regularly around the city. People said he was an out-patient from St Ann's Hospital. I don't know his name. He never responded to any questions I asked. I don't see him anymore.

this/discourse/has no/start(middle)nd


My name is Nikolai Mahesh Noel.


I get very excited about images then as the excitement subsides, I feel very embarrassed for having been so excited.


I have shown work regularly from about 2000, twice at the Trinidad Art Society annual open show very early, then twice again at the Trinity Carnival Foundation building in Woodbrook. 

I showed work at CCA7 for a number of years. My most recent work I have shown either at or through Alice Yard. I have some things I am working on currently and my intention is to show this work at Alice Yard as well.


Why did I get into this? I do not know that it is a decision in that way. It did not come up as a career choice. I enjoyed seeing, using and creating images when I was very young, and wanted to keep doing just that. I don’t see it as me deciding to get into art, it would be more like not ignoring a desire.


[The artist did not respond.]


[The artist did not respond.]


Nikolai Noel recently exhibited The Dimming, a series of drawings at Alice Yard. This is what he looks like:
Nikolai Noel at Alice Yard on December 11, 2009. Photos by Andre Bagoo.

FIND out more about The Dimming here . CHECK out Nikolai's blog here .


'The Island Quintet' shortlisted for Commonwealth prize

Trinidadian writer, journalist and critic Raymond Ramcharitar's first work of fiction The Island Quintet has been nominated for a Commonwealth Writer's Prize.

The book, a series of narratives published by Peepal Tree Press in Leeds, United Kingdom, last year, has been shortlisted in the category of best first book by a writer from Canada or the Caribbean. You can see some of the other books nominated at the Commonwealth website here.

The book has been largely well received, with academic and critic David Dabydeen describing it thus in a review for the UK's Independent newspaper:
The remarkable quality of this book is how closely observed character and landscape are, a precision which pays homage to both Naipaul and Walcott. The prose simmers, then erupts into outrageously satirical commentary on island life, the calms down again, Ramcharitar displaying a superb control of narrative flow.
For those of you who missed The Island Quintet, here is its opening sentence:
Trying to remember the moments leading up to this occasion, I stand here, staring out over the disembodied faces: Babs, rosy and content, her face's angles just beginning to curve into motherly roundness; Bain, upright and grey, protectively close to her; Balthazar, restless eyes constantly moving in search of the perspective that eludes the rest of us; the girl's furious, helpless red eyes; the Artist's parents, featureless and bewildered; Aixman's flat, rapacious face retaining its ruddiness even in the gravity of the occasion, unfazed by the Gothic scale and slant of the roof, the stained-glass windows, the marble pillars of the nave.
READ more about The Island Quintet here.

FILM REVIEW: A Serious Man

By Lesedi Tidd *
PLEASURE blogger

“Accept with simplicity everything that happens to you”

The Coen Bros. are weird. Not David Lynch weird, but still weird. It’s as if they approach their projects with a self-serving ambivalence which, more often than not, manages to appeal to the (or rather, ‘an’) audience. 

A Serious Man seems to exemplify that very idea. For an everyday audience the movie may be inaccessible; it is ambitious in the way that Coen Bros. jaunts often are (i.e. somewhat), but the darkly intelligent and absurdist humour which holds the film together is bound to go over the heads of the average moviegoer. This isn’t by any means a bad thing, as it draws on a twisted Woody Allen-esque pastiche of Jewish wit and neuroticism, but it’s bound to present a hurdle to some viewers and, at times, even utterly alienate the audience. I suppose however, that it’s par for the course when the movie is supposed to be a modernized reinterpretation of the Book of Job.

It begins with something of a Jewish folk tale. In an eastern European village, a Jewish man comes home during a snowstorm and tells his wife of the fortuitous occurrence of running into a man, during the dead of night, in the middle of a snowstorm, who helps him repair a broken cart. Even more serendipitous is the fact that the man is someone his wife knows, Rabbi Groshkover, and he has invited him home for soup. His wife responds, saying that God has cursed them, noting that this Rabbi had allegedly died three years prior. She proposes that he (or his body) is in fact, possessed by a dybbuk. When the Rabbi arrives, she confronts him but he laughs it off, which makes no bit of difference as she eventually stabs him. The Rabbi, seemingly shocked, confused and immune, but most certainly bleeding, says he ‘knows when he is not wanted’ and exits back into the snowstorm, leaving the true nature of the scenario, natural or supernatural, unclear.

The point is, thus, left brilliantly unresolved, in the way that only a fable based on implausibilities can be left unresolved. Understanding and remembering this is integral as it sets the tone for the entire movie.

Much of the movie’s humour comes from laughing at nothing more than sheer misfortune. Make no mistake--if you laugh you’ll mostly be laughing at the protagonist, rarely ever with him. Set in the 60s, Physics professor Larry Gopenik is leading what he considers to be a normal life. He’s in fairly good health, enthusiastic about his field of study and he’s a hair’s breadth away from tenure. Things aren’t perfect in his life, but they’re acceptable.

Except that his wife, for unspecified reasons, wants a ritual Jewish divorce or ‘get’ so she can then marry an elderly man who attends their synagogue. Larry’s son, 2 weeks away from his bar mitzvah, is more concerned about the $20 he owes to the neighbourhood bully/drug dealer for marijuana; his daughter in all her teen-queen angst is detached from the family and is stealing money directly out of his wallet for a nose job, his co-dependent brother is a socially stunted savant and a hypochondriac who spends ridiculous amounts of time draining the sebaceous cyst on the back of his neck. His wife’s elderly love interest keeps trying to befriend him while simultaneously giving him nuggets of his aged wisdom to help him deal with the divorce that he himself is instigating. Also, one of his students left what he thinks may be a bribe in his office. He’s not too sure of that bit. There’s a bit of a communication barrier- a ‘culture clash’, if you will. This is only the first 15 minutes. Yes, things do get exponentially worse.

The movie’s progression is similar to an earlier film by the directorial duo, The Big Lebowski, in that it never attempts to have any other direction but simply forward. Time passes. Things happen. Shit happens. The protagonist deals with it. Given the themes, it’s appropriate; it makes for great existential stimulation but some viewers aren’t going to be able to appreciate that at all. Honestly, it took me at least 20 minutes into the movie to realize that this movie didn’t care to adhere to the traditional storytelling format on which Hollywood films typically depend. One can just as easily say that nothing really happens and it would be a fair appraisal.

So why should you watch a movie where nothing happens? I have no idea. Ironically, this is what I consider to be one of the strong points of the film. The film’s charm lies discreetly in its approach to the mundane. It paints us a portrait of an insanely personal exploration of one man’s moral, psychological and spiritual journey through the suburban wastelands of the 1960s American Midwest. The film is hardly just about the man as it is about the time, the place, the experience - both Jewish and gentile - and the understanding and appreciation of each of the elements needed to make a decent modernization of the quintessential biblical comedy.

* Lesedi Tidd is a socialist existentialist, aka student, living in Trinidad.


Dimanche Gras calypso - blow by blow

By Fédon Honoré*
Guest PLEASURE blogger
The stage, Northern Greens, Queen's Park Savannah, on Dimanche Gras night.

Yes folks, another year, another Dimanche Gras. The Kings and Queens of Carnival were really lackluster. And, well, the Divine Echoes were terrifying. Let's not even mention those weird musical interludes, complete with people dressed as plants dancing with a giant caterpillar. Amidst all that crap, the calypso provided treats. Here's how the songs went down, in order of appearance:

Mr. Shak - "Rogue"
Seemed somewhat handicapped by the replica assault rifle he was using as a prop and lacking the assurance the lyrics of the song demanded. However, this was a very brutal commentary on the seedier aspects of certain members of the police force. Would have benefitted from being slowed down; more calypso and less soca.

Skatie - "A cry for life"
A forthright presentation, but came across as hackeneyed moralising while not providing anything particularly innovative or enjoyable from a musical perspective. (That's called critical licks, dear readers).

Chalkdust - "When Mas was Mas"
Chalkdust used the Midnight Robber imagery to craft a biting criticism of the ruling government and the Wild Indian imagery for the Opposition in his usual Savannah Bomb drop. However his lyrical creativity can't hide the trademark melodical pedantry and you have to think this wasn't vintage Chalkdust.

Brian London - "A Calypsonian"
Started off badly by bringing Valentino to sing a whole verse and chorus of HIS (unsuccessful) semi-final presentation. However, picked up from there gradually in his trademark unpolished style to criticise the competition ethos and political bias among calypsonians. Nevertheless it was hard to shake the impression that there was not enough content in the song for the subject matter available. And well, let's face it, the calypso is not really one thing or the other; it is social commentary and democratic expression at its best.

Singing Sandra - "No Child Shall be Left Behind"
Typically miserabilist Sandra commenting on the various misfortunes afflicting children in our "developped country". However, while strong topically, this calypso is boring brass heavy and elicits no empathy for the poor children nor the one championing their plight.

Original De Fosto Himself "Palace State of Mind"
With his cheeky criticism of the Prime Minister's spending habits with a catchy latin dancish beat, the ODFH made a strong case for the crown. He left his Shouter headtie home and with it, his usual habit of overdoing his songs.

Protector - "My Vision"
In a counterpoint to the overlying doom and gloom, the ex-TUCO president preached (literally) a nation building prophecy calypso, musically well crafted, and with enough subtility to avoid being flag waving. Then he shot himself in the foot by the unnecessary and unnecessarily long sample of "I can see clearly now" with obligatory Baptist dance routine.

Sean Daniel - "God is Love"
Doubled melodious gospelypso - all you need to know about the Christian conception of faith in 5 minutes with a solid performance. Preachy by definition, and not Monarch material for unfortunately obvious reasons, but there isn't any one thing you can point at to keep it out of the top spots.

Devon Seales - "A Wind of Change"
In a strange twist, Seales decided against singing his clever catchy football analogy driven criticism of Karen Nunes Tesheira to suggest an innovative method of calypso judging. The potential for a clever, hilarious song was quickly lost as Seales' tenor voice drowned itself out in typically verbose fashion.

Mr. Chucky - "A People's National Movement"
Anti or pro PNM song? Hard to tell given the ambiguous title, and that takes away some of its impact. The sweet voice of Rolando Godon's son carries what is probably best interpreted as a PNM supporter's criticism of his party's biggest flaws, in a solid performance.

All Rounder - Female Life Guard (Dive)
Why this song made the creme de la creme of this year's calypsos is beyond me. Someone commented about the "ickyness" of a grown old man singing such an unsubtle double entendre with visual and vocal backup from his daughters (!!!) but even without those considerations, it's clear that the song has no substance other than mischief potential. Should have stayed in the tent.

Twiggy - "Give Thanks"
Your standard optimistic African-leaning drumming and steel percussion celebration song. If you live in T&T the reasons given for the celebration ring hollow, but melodically, the performance stands up.

Kizzy Ruiz - "Aidez Haiti"
As it was written, it was her competition to lose. This was a powerful well crafted lyrical composition on a consensual topical subject, sung by a great performer with a great vocal range (aided by echo effects which some may consider more hindrance than help). By the end of her performance on Sunday night there really was no contest.

Nicole Greaves - "Where the Lions Are"
An interesting ditty about the lack of father figures in black families and its deleterious effects in society. This song wants to be powerful, but can't quite get around the Junior Calypso feel of its music, and so the singer comes across as just a Sandra wannabe.

Kurt Allen - "They Too Bright"
Excellent presentation, coming on as a Woodford Square vagrant to execute his ironic commentary on the increased qualifications of our political elite versus their diminishing returns. The attempt to make the earlier versions of the song more polished was welcome, and made this a much closer fight for first place.

MY PICKS: 1st: Kizzy Ruiz 2nd: Kurt Allen (possible tie for first) 3rd: De Fosto

THE WINNERS: 1. Kurt Allen; 2. Brian London; 3. De Fosto

*Fédon Honoré, a guest PLEASURE blogger, is a Midnight Robber. Find out more about him here.


A sign

My standard for use in the Carnival band Cobo Town, brought out by the artists Ashraph and Shalini. I played with them last year as well, in a band of cows. Read an older post about the band which PLEASURE published in January here.


* * * BLOGGED LIVE: Soca Monarch Finals at The Oval

Lights, cameras, action!

Yes, dear readers. I'll be blogging the show 'live', from the comfort of my home. If you don't know anything about the Soca Monarch read this. Meanwhile the rest of you should grab some tea and biscuits quickly. It's going to be a long, but gloriously overdone night! Things should get started at about 9.15pm (TT time), so I'll see those of you sad folks who'll be home and online this Carnival Friday then!

Don't forget to click the 'Refresh' button on your browser for updates, and feel free to post comments. As a general disclaimer, I'd just like to say if you notice my updates becoming erratic, assume the electricity in Belmont is gone or my internet is down or I'm off somewhere having fun!

* * *

It's early days yet, but I thought I'd fill you in on one of the favorites to win this year's competition. One word: PALANCE. Watch this NOW. They should perform in position number 11 in what's called the 'power' soca half of the competition which comes later on in the night. More on the line-up later.

Tonight's competition, affectionately known as 'Fantastic Friday' will see 13 soca acts compete for the titles of GROOVY SOCA MONARCH and INTERNATIONAL SOCA MONARCH. The reigning Groovy  monarch is Faye Ann Lyons-Alvarez (whew! lots of parts to that name).   I can't remember what her song was last year, but I do remember she was pregnant and couldn't move around much. This year she's back, performing in position number 8 with a song called "Call Meh". And while she's not pregnant this year, she's still a force to be reckoned with.

"Once I'm in the race, anything can happen," she recently said. She'll come up against the likes of Rikki Jai (singing "Barman" at number 4) and two-time G Soca Mon winner Shurwayne (yes, that's how you spell it, apparently) Winchester who is singing "Murdah" at number 7.

For the expected order of appearance for the GROOVY SOCA MONARCH and INTERNATIONAL SOCA MONARCH click here. Ahh, the kettle just finished boiling. Time for a some Earl Grey with a refreshing lemon zest.

A bunch of drunk friends (aka my blogging assistants) just arrived. OMG they want me to open a bottle of red wine. Reader, I may yet give in to temptation. 

CNMG is showing replay video footage from another fete (called Ladies' Fete). It's Fay Ann and her husband Bunji Garlin. It's just dawned on me that all season the two of them have been rather lazy performers onstage. At fetes I've been to, they've looked like soca's 'royal couple' being complacent. Was it a strategy? Will Fay Ann suddenly become alive onstage once more tonight? 

A whole set of MACO fireworks just went off over the Oval. We saw it from the balcony at the back of my house! Clearly the show has started. But CNMG appears to be unaware of this. Hmmm...more wine! 

A poor opening. A really, really tired sounding Ainsely King just performed "Bawl Out". David Rudder compares it to his classic "Hammer" on CNMG's celebrity panel. Not a justified comparison.

Nnika Francis is performing "Survivor". She looks like a cross between Beyonce and the MGMT band. She comes onstage with a white washer-woman ensemble, then rips it off to reveal a Beyonce-esque dress. Wait she sounds like Beyonce, too. The song appears to be a break-up song. There are annoying bele dancers in the back. The crowd is looking listless."This song is dedicated to anybody going through hard times," she says.

Thank God that's over. But what the hell? Synergy Soca Star Metro (Michael Pierre) just came onstage looking like an alien from Avatar!!!! He's singing “Streets of Trinidad”, begging the crowd to sing along. Those back-up dancers are also looking unrehearsed. And something weird is going on with Pierre's crotch. Dear Lord...

Rikki Jai is singing "Barman". Why does the melody remind me of KucheeKucheeLaLa? Rikki is really working that crotch. Of course he's wearing a silver sequined suit. Waving a rag. Breathing stage smoke. His dancers have cute catsuits with silver sequined hoods. Hmmm the giant Suppligen flag at the front of the crowd is blocking my view. It's a good performance. The crowd is moving. But is it GROOVY? It's almost as though Rikki WANTS to be power soca but is holding back.  

Chucky sings "Jamming Something". I like this guy. He can dance. The choreography is TIGHT at times then suddenly it's LOOSE though. The CNMG audio is CRAP btw. An agent in the crowd tells me the Oval is currently HALF EMPTY. People saving $ to go see Beyonce?

SHURWAYNE WINCHESTER. At last a performer! He's hot; confident. The dancers are TIGHT. Shurwayne looks fresh. I LIKE this song. An absolute delight. MINUS points for that "dance" interlude featuring a HUGE woman with her black panties showing beneath her white lace ensemble. "Where's my murder?" Shurwayne asks. Suddenly, the woman mounts him onstage. They topple to the floor. He appears unconscious. Still, it's full fledged social commentary going on here. Murder as love as life in TT. Beautiful, gaudy, kitsch.

PATRICE ROBERTS!!! At last a REAL performer! She's hot; confident. AND she can sing. But she's wearing a butterfly on her face. And she sounds a little tired. Patrice WAS supposed to perform BEFORE chucky. A tale is in the making I suspect, dear readers. WAIT. is her costume in fact an incomplete version of her costume for her next performance? It's falling off. ALL IN ALL a little disorganised. She didn't seem to do justice to her song. 

FAY ANN. Damian Lemon, in drag, does a hilarious Beyonce parody to open for her. I like her clothes. I don't think I like the ethnic stereotypes onstage with her. Hmmm I just spotted a dancer who danced in the Lydian's Messiah a few months ago. Not what I want to be thinking about now (bless you Pat Bishop). Not a bad performance. Simple. Effective. But is it good enough to win? "Patrice fail. Fay ann get more pips before she even get on the stage," reports Lisa Allen-Agostini via text message. "Dead silence for TC," she adds.

Did I mention the CNMG audio is REALLY bad? EVERYBODY is talking about it online! AND they just interrupted Zolah, who's song "More Water" is actually my favorite at the moment. After her, Lil Bits comes on. Such a short sexy girl. The song is also edgy (it's called "Careful"). But as Lisa notes, "wow lil bits is boring". I'm going to have some tea. (We've long finished two bottles of wine...) 

Delroy Lindo (the guy from The Cider House Rules) is on CNMG's "celebrity panel". Poor man, I keep mistaking him for Ving Rhames. At this stage in the night it's really for Kerwin Dubois and Farmer Nappy to lose this competition. "Pavement" is, melodically, the best song in the whole she-bang. OMG Nappy is on the fence! It's HOT! "Now feeling like is a fete" Lisa says. 

* * *

12.41am (Feb 13):
The INTERNATIONAL (POWER) SOCA MONARCH segment has started now. Who is that? I think it's Daddy Chess singing "Ready of Not". His hair is really weird. He also repeatedly asks the crowd to do things with their glow sticks. Wildindian in the comments section below notes, "Daddy put me to sleep twice while he sang."

Somebody called TC is onstage. What is it with soca artistes wearing scarves??? He's in an all-white suit with a white scarf. At the opening of the 3 Canal show last week the band wore scarves--but that was because they didn't have their final costumes as yet (plus Queen's Hall is cold). Anyhow TC's scarf looks kinda weird...all that jumping with the scarf precariously perched on a shoulder...It's fashionable, I guess but a scarf at SOCA MONARCH??? 

In contrast I AM LOVING Shal Marshall and Screws (Stephenson Marshall and Richard Barrington) in their jailhouse pyjamas. The song  “Police” is undoutedly kinky as well. Hmm. Cute. The back up dancers are the best for the night so far. Oh and there's Denise Belfon as a judge. They just called her, "Your Lordship". However, they also asked her "to come". Woa. Look at those black and white knickers/trousers she's wearing!

Sorry dear readers, I dozed off. What can I say? Am only human! I appear to have missed a great chunk of a very long performance by someone who may have been Skinny Fabulous. In the end there I woke up in time to see a shitload of costumes on stage (was there an alien face among them?) Now Mr Killer is performing. His performance began with a very homoerotic video of a hot half-naked man running all over the place. Now Mr Killer is staring at a woman gyrating her ass. Why is it in TT culture we've so deeply fetished sex and the human (particularly female) body. Sex is really not that big of a deal. Anyhow, try not to think too much tonight Andre, not tonight. My friend Fedon Honore just said, via messenger, "Killa continues to be the most unintelligible entertainer since Mumbles the Clown".

Of the excellent Tallpree, Honore notes that he came on in all white and then got dirty. "Excellent" he says. I agree and I like this performance. Lots of jab jabs and ole mas characters. Just the right amount of bachannal to wake you up. "Pure energy, transfixing," Fedon says.

Farmer Nappy is off to a good start to his "I Pay For This". He maintains the momentum. A good showing. Fay Ann is next. The crowd is screaming, chanting her name. She appears on stage! Oh my she's wearing a spacesuit of some kind...but looking as fabulous as ever. Is it me or is she off key? "They keep telling lies on me," she sings. Hmm, last year she brought on a baby. This year she has brought on a...Transformer? With his arm stuck? What's that? She's the world's first female transformer? Is there such a thing as a MALE transformer? Next, please!

PALANCING! Starts with a simple bele dancer on a Palancing theme. JW and Blaze (Jason Williams and Ancil Isaac Jr) appear. They are wearing black leather, very, very cool. They also appear to have worked on their performance skills; are in sync, following a careful choreography. I think this is exciting, but not as exciting as Tallpree. WAIT that was before COOKIE monster came onstage...oh gorsh it could be close.
Okay so it's more or less over. We just have to wait for a few more performances to finish before we hear of results. Oh wait, there's Ronnie McIntosh and KMC. One of them just told the crowd, "Good morning" WTF? I HATE that. In a fete the last thing you need to be reminded of is the day/hours after a fete when you'll be groggy and hung over. They really need to learn about Keats' idea of Negative Capability; luxuriating in the moment without knowing too much. Like what time it is!

Hmm that snippet of pan was refreshing after the night's drivel. Those dozen notes had more authenticity that much else. Hmm KMC just brought on his mom. That's a low, low blow KMC, low!

On another note, Fedon just pointed out that Iwer George apparently did not show. Why is it that somebody alway is a no-show?

THIS JUST IN: Apparently one of the VIP boxes RAN OUT OF COFFEE, due to the high demand. Apparently, lots of people there were as bored as we often were tonight, in the comfort of our homes.

Btw just realised Blaxx was DA BOMB (I missed it during another tea break). LOVED his melodies and the whole gothic presentation they just showed on the replay. I wouldn't mind if he won, actually.

RESULTS Groovy Soca Monarch:

1. Shurwayne Winchester 58pts
2. Fay Ann Lyons 57pts
3. Rikki Jai
4. Patrice Roberts


1. Blaze and JW 84pts
2. Fay Ann Lyons 64pts
3. Shal Marshall and Screws 60pts
4. Tallpree 56 pts

Well folks, that's a wrap. Thank you so much for keeping me and my buddies company. Special thanks to my agents in the field Lisa and Abi. See you again soon!


'Carnival' a poem by Andre Bagoo

You are not my mother so you hold
my hand tighter than you should.

The wind blows my Indian feather,
And throws red dust into my face.

This is supposed to be fun, but when
We reach the Savannah stage I am terrified...

     --READ full poem in the Boston Review.


This/discourse/has no/start(middle)nd


What measure is the Fool who stares
into the Nameless Face of Talking Death
and inquires as to its true identity, history and genealogy
while ignoring his own rapidly fading chronology?

I am the seed of the everlasting Reincarnation of O Cangaceiro,
Acolyte of the Agent of Death Valley, that Master Midnight Robber,
And the Vicious Veteran Vivisector The Ocean Raider.
First was the Word, the Word became Flesh, the Flesh became Spirit, the Spirit became Legend and the Legend became the Reincarnation.
When he spit his verbose vitriol upon the steaming sod
Sprung forth from his saliva Warriors of the Word
Like King Cobo, the Mellancolly Marauder,
Son of Pretty Boy Floyd, the Artic Avenger,
Rob Roy, Double D – Destruction and Death,
D Spectre, The Chaos Bringer, The Robber Queen
And my partner in rhyme, the Wrathful Wonder Woman.
But as I stand before you, his one true son;
Behold the Midknight (of the Talking Death) and run!

With my bombastic brethren, we formed the Mystery Raiders,
The most dastardly band of desperadoes to ever perambulate the streets of the Port of Pain.
We set up a base in the heightless regions of the Hill of Forgotten men
Turning left at the roundabout of destruction.
Every Carnival we congregate under the Savannah Big Tree
From there we launch our alliterative assaults on the unsuspecting citizenry
Grammatically, metaphorically and stylistically
Regaling them with the great bad deeds we have done
We make corporate bandits bawl and devastate politicians.
Simply put we humiliate the competition
It is our duty as self respecting Robbers to show up those imposters
who gain notoriety by stealing bus passes from old ladies and candy from babies

We set up a University of Robberology
Where all Pretenders can come to see
If they have what it takes to become
Masters of Metaphor, Regents of Robberdom.
We archive the words and deeds of the fallen warriors
For the benefit and use of future masqueraders.


We do this before politicians start lying,
Before the conquistadores start pillaging,
Before Rock of Ages was a pebble
In 1995 I joined the Mystery Raiders
By  1997, I was the Hound from Hell
By 2000, I was the Phantom Menace
And became the scourge of this nation
Until I was exiled to the cold in 2001.
In 2006 I returned, having extirpated my equilibrium
And took over the mantle from the Reincarnation

In 2000, we annihilated Armageddon as the Robbers of the Apocalypse
In 2001, we destroyed dictatorship as Robbers for Democracy
In 2002, we stole the elections, with Vote for Yuh Robber
In 2003, we requisition the road as Ye Robber  of Marli Street
In 2004, we liquidate your loan as Robbers and Bankers of Trinidad and Tobago
In 2005, we stood up for Real Robbers with Robbers against Crime
In 2006, we sent the Reincarnation off to Valhalla with Tribute to Brian Honoré
In 2007, we poisoned the environment with Hellter Smelter
In 2008, we deconstruct de construction with Made in China
In 2009, we menace the masquerade with Weapons of Mas Destruction
In 2010, we will unleash the Vengeance of Moko upon this land.

The Carnival Masquerade use to be the quintessential form of show and tell.
But, in our day, we show more and more and tell less and less.
The Word is Power and Mas is Life, Power is the Word and Life is Mas.
But we say less and less in our songs and in our costume, and we give up the power we once had.
The Midnight Robber is Powerful Words, He is Wordy Power. He is Living Mas.
When you put on the cape and the hat, when the whistle blows, you become the Power of the Word.  Once that happens why would you ever want to stop?


Fédon Honoré is the son of legendary Midnight Robber, the late Brian Honoré (aka Commentor). Before his death, Commentor kept alive the Robber artform which involves a Carnival character who has aggressive oratorial skills Fédon is playing with the Mystery Raiders for Carnival this month. This is what he looks like:
Photos by Andre Bagoo

FOR more information on Mystery Raiders, contact Anthony Collymore (bandleader) at 625-0188 or Fedon at 756 5987 or email This/discourse/has/no/start(middle)nd is an interview series featuring the responses of Trinidad artists to a set questionnaire. FIND out more and see the full list of interviewees here.

'Mercy on My Small Husband'

Mercy on my small husband.
When he sleeps bare five hours a night
wrapped in paper like an accident,
like an insect itching serifs inside an envelope.
He sleeps knowing I am nowhere near.
He sleeps near I know not where.
My small husband is an impossible sleeper...

       --from 'Mercy on My Small Husband' by Nicholas Laughlin

READ more poetry from editor Nicholas Laughlin, Jim Goar and more, as well as a review of Vahni Capildeo's Undraining Sea at the latest issue of the online journal Blackbox Manifold here. Photo by Andre Bagoo.


Rodell Warner's 'Too Much Eyes'

From Rodell Warner's blog Too Much Eyes

We've been following the amazing blog Too Much Eyes for a while now. The blog--with the tagline 'my own Trinidad'--is an exciting and elegant blend of old and new; of surprising images from the past as well as work from contemporary photographers and artists. This week, the person behind the blog has finally decided to officially come forward! And it turns out it's graphic designer Rodell Warner, whose blog Free Paper is also one of our favs.


Black or White

I went for a walk with my trusty camera today in Belmont and bumped into the J'ouvert mas camp HWMC & Associates at 4 Jerningham Avenue. Their band this year is 'Black or White'. I took a stroll and started noticing all the black and white things around us, like the black and white at the heart of our national flag, to the zebra crossings all over the country as well as the black and white of the cenotaph at the heart of Memorial Square, a few blocks away from the 'Black or White' mas camp at Jerningham Avenue.

FOR more information about the band call Stephen on 716-7194.