Archive for ‘Astrid’

February 15, 2008

Move along, nothing to see here

It is now just a pinch short of 1am and after spending the last 5 hours hammering away at the Curacao chapter for Fodor’s 2009 I am almost in sight of the end. That being said, the last section which is rather innocently called “Essentials” is one of the more finicky sections so I probably have another couple of hours work before I am done. Rest assured, those hours will not start now. So how do I end several gruelling hours hunched over a keyboard? Well how else? By banging away at a quick blog entry. No one can accuse me of not being obsessive compulsive about some things.

I managed to survive Valentine’s Day without much trauma by artfully immersing myself in work and my pretending to enjoy being at the gym. Speaking of which I realised this morning that since my building has now been transformed into a “gated compound” I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the damned gate opener thing. Since that followed on the heels of be being awakened multiple times by people sending me Valentine’s text messages I was not in a good mood this morning but I managed to shake it off by consuming several cups of coffee. Who was it that decided that something that starts off fresh and quickly decays into a withered mess would make the best possible Valentine’s gift? Was it meant to be symbolic? If so then someone has a lot of explaining to do.

I didn’t hear of any of my couple friends successfully pulling off a romantic evening. Last I heard Alvin and Binky were wondering where to go for dinner at 10pm…good luck with that one. Omar aka Grommit called to invite me to a “Bachelors Lime” at Shakers around 9pm but as I was hopelessly immersed in writing at the time I had to decline. Strangely, “bachelors” included Astrid but I suppose she is an honorary one. Even though I am being a responsible adult I am sorry i didn’t pop into town to join them but I suspect the temptation of martinis might have thrown my diet off just a tad. God I would love one just about now ( gin, whisper of vermouth, stirred and with 2 jumbo olives,  thanks) but since such a thing is not going to happen I have taken a sleeping pill and am now off to chemically induced slumber.

Bon Nochi.


February 11, 2008

Back to Black

 

Well my mental pall has lifted quite a bit so this may result in a rather rambling and disjointed entry today..not that most of them aren’t…but this may be more so. There was no entry last night because I actually got enticed to go out and socialize by Binky/Jason/Vesh. He is probably the only person who can actually get me out of the house once I am settled in after work. As might have been predicted his “hang out for a hour” turned into frolic through Port of Spain into the wee hours. As it turns out Alvin was stuck at work so it was just me and Binks which was a lot of fun and I think I needed a bit of mindless fun.

Of course going out that late when I have to work on Sunday is never the wisest of ideas but sometimes it is good to throw caution to the wind for the sake of mental health. Nonetheless,  I was not a pretty sight this morning as I tried to get myself ready to head to the office. I was also faced with having the company jeep parked at my building with a shredded tyre that decided to suffer catastrophic failure as I pulled into the gates of my compound last night. Thankfully, the ever handy Steve came and took care of it for me. I may be good at some things but changing tyres is not one of them. At work it was one of those Atacama dry news days which leaves anyone compiling the newscast on the verge of tears and reaching for the valium bottle. Thanks to some creative work on Melissa William’s part, though, it came off quite well in the end despite the fact a bit of delayed video meant that her voice was in 3 back to back stories in the first section.

Now that I am coming out from under the depression a bit I am thinking a lot about various aspects of my life to see how I can improve them. I am content with my television and writing jobs so I can leave those alone for the while. I really should be taking better care of myself physically so I will try and start the gym and be a tad more conscious of my diet this week. We’ll see how long that lasts. My family, sigh, well let’s just say I can’t do anything about them. I love them all but it is best if I stay in a constant state of denial. My love life? Hmm..if I had any real semblance of one or even a poor semblance of one I might be able to work on it. Right now it is a bit like being put at ground zero on Sept 12, 2001 ,given a trowel and being told “put it back up”. My judgment in picking people is my ultimate failing as given a choice of 5 perfect choices and one completely ridiculous one I will always pick the ridiculous one. Do you know how whenever a hurricane is bearing down on an area and expected to arrive at any minute they always show some fools out surfing – when it comes to relationships I am one of those fools. Not sure how to address my colossal problems in that area but I guess I can try a few things. Other than that I have the best group of friends anyone could conceivably want. Best of all I don’t think anyone else has such an well rounded bunch in terms of ethnicity, gender, orientation and personality.

Had a nice relaxing evening watching the 50th annual Grammy Awards to see how my girl Amy Winehouse does. I think she is the most amazing talent to come along in a long time and inevitably that sort of creativity comes with personal turmoil. I hope she can pull through her difficulties but with that much talent she may end up imploding. I watch her and I see Janis Joplin redux. I truly hope she stays around for a long time though, if she is sounding like that and writing music like that at 24 who knows what wondrous moments lay ahead?

I have a day off tomorrow ( finally) and I plan to use it to finish off my Curacao chapter for Fodors so I can stop stressing Doug Stallings my editor and put in my invoice. Off to bed now..well as soon as Amy wins Album of the Year..which ..unless they are all deaf..she will. n501560998_313463_6705.jpg ( me and my bitches on the beach)

February 7, 2008

Uneasy silence

Today broke a brand new day ( as they all tend to do) and despite my throbbing head and a really bad cough I was able to hit the living room and greet Alvin ( he and Binky stayed over in the guest room after Carnival) with what amounts to civility for me. After I sent them packing i was able to head to work and enjoy all that Ash Wednesday has to offer; a complete lack of traffic, no noise, no speaker trucks and no vile beaded bikinis. Mind you when i got there there was no power and it took forever to come back as we sat in Stygian gloom and heat trying to follow up on stories.


We managed to get everything done in time although it involved me shouting at the video editors for protracted periods. The good news today is that despite my cynical view of the judging of Carnival Brian MacFarlane’s band Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope won band of the year. Earth was the sort of thing that made Peter Minshall justifiably celebrated. A narrative on the destruction of the earth told through the Mas it clearly blew every other band out of the water. Brian and I get along quite well nowadays, though we had a rocky stretch many years ago, so i am thrilled beyond belief that he deservedly won. His King costume also won King of Carnival which it richly deserved. What I don’t understand is how the local media including The Guardian kept referring to it as a “jellyfish”. The costume was called “Pandemic Rage” and the band is about the destruction of the earth. The moko jumbie player all in black clearly had a double helix floating in front of him which, given the name, should have told all and sundry it was a virus but apparently the brilliant media folk decided it was a jellyfish.


To me the main thing to celebrate is that Brian won with a costume that was not supported by wheels and did not require 10 people to push it onto the stage. It was not something that should properly belong on the back of a truck being driven through the streets..it was a human dancing a costume across the stage..the way a Carnival King is meant to be not the travesty that Eustace wheels out every year.


Congratulations to Brian for another amazing presentation and I am glad he is there to provide an opton for people like me and my more sensible friends who want to be in a band that is art and not merely an all-inclusive moving fete. I pity my other friends who chose to play with the bikini and short pants Mas that is Tribe…but then again…it is a rapidly dwindling number. Would I pay $3000 for a few beads and an open bar…nope. Would I pay for a beautiful costume that would give me memories of creating art on the streets of Port of Spain for decades to come….hell yes! Well…but without the noise.2244835619_2c5da14ea9.jpg

February 2, 2008

The madness is upon us

My journey to work today began with me feeling like crap, so nothing abnormal there, and then I headed out to work only to discover that the Queen’s Park Savannah , normally a giant roundabout, had been made two way in honour of Carnival. No police were in sight so the drive to work was interesting to say the least. On arrival at ieTV i could see the endless throngs of bewildered tourists wandering about for no apparent reason as there really isn’t that much to see on Tragarete Rd. From that point it was back to getting the news going and Giselle and Melissa Williams managed to pull together a great assortment of stories and I organized to cover Tribe distributing costumes to last minute would-be masqueraders. Which also allowed me to help out Astrid by getting her bank card up there to pay for her costume. I did this in response to poor Astrid calling me in desperation and using the F word more than I have ever heard in one conversation…so Astridy of her. As it turns out our news was a great mix of carnival material ( Junior Parade of the Bands, Soca Monarch, Calypso Monarch and Panorama) and other harder stories. Giselle read because we struck a deal so I will end up having to read the crap…sorry…creatively stretched news tomorrow. Other than that Peter and Naz say they are freezing their asses off in Atlanta, Alvie and Binky had a colourful evening last night and are out again running Sky this evening, Omar apparently, after being “exhausted” yesterday and going partying was even more “exhausted”  today is out partying again. God save me from chronic party goers..not a good influence on me. Tomorrow is the last day when perhaps 10% of sanity prevails so I better enjoy scrounging for that 10%.  I am feeling awfully proud right now seeing Peggy’s book listed on Harper Collin’s India and on Amazon as not available. 100_0784.jpg  

February 1, 2008

Nose Breathing

Generally speaking, my reflections on work are of a happy nature full of musings about bonhomie and getting news out on time. Today I had one of the worst days I have ever had at work and it is in no way related to the newsroom staff. Given I have been producing news since Moses was in nappies I am not in the habit of taking criticisms of my judgement lightly and I am especially not fond of being found essentially faultless but having to now face the prospect of working even longer hours in my indefinite 7 day a week work schedule. Were I living in an option free world i might be in an even worse mental state than I have been in since earlier this evening. I will not give the details of my experience here but, while I recognize that others may be under stress, there is no need to spread the stress to innocent bystanders. Enough said…I am a professional and will handle my problems in a professional manner.


Moving on to other subjects. I am now counting the hours for Carnival to end and get the hell out of my face. The traffic, steelpans parked in the roadways, flocks of JCBs ( just come backs) and hordes of tourists clogging my HiLo is driving me crazy. I almost want to say “welcome to Trinidad now hurry up, sleep around and go the hell back where you came from”! I have been feeling a bit down this evening because of the aforementioned and my general mood lately so I think a list would do me good. Let’s talk about my list of things I don’t need in my life of late..here is Vern’s list of things not needed on the voyage:


  1. 1. Condoms or anything even remotely related to sex.

  2. 2.More soca music

  3. 3. Another peep from the Mondeo

  4. 4. Anybody new in my life under the age of 30. I am still dealing with the slew I have.

  5. 5.More junk in my condo.

  6. 6.Drama of any sort not related to a film or theatrical production.

  7. 7.People who think that pondering what fete to attend is really an intellectual pursuit.

  8. 8. Freeloaders.

  9. 9. Jesus freaks explaining to me why I have to be saved.

  10. 10.More work.


That has me feeling much better already. Someone should write a book on “Blogging as Catharsis”.


Other than that in news of  friends … Robin is off to Guyana and Brazil for Carnival ( the Amazon not  Rio), Omar/Grommit is in Tribe fete, Astrid is in bed, Binky and Muz are home ( I assume), Steve is also in Tribe fete and Peter and Naz are in places unknown..though they are in Las Vegas for Carnival.


I hope tomorrow is a better day and i must say thanks to my cuz Peggy for making more sense than I have seen in a long time.

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January 31, 2008

The slow road to deadline

It is after 1am Trinidad time and I have just uploaded the T&T chapters of Fodors Caribbean Guide for my editor in New York to check. I am about a month behind schedule and because of various work and personal problems I am desperately trying to get all my chapters done. I feel awful about the situation but given the last few months there is little I can do about it. When your family is in turmoil, television is demanding, your personal life is a soap opera and depression is creeping back where it hasn’t been in 10 years…a few deadline misses are par for the course. I just feel really badly about letting my Editor Doug down…I really am crazy about the guy. He is easily the nicest editor I have ever worked with.



ieTv was overflowing with news today so that was a snap and it went perfectly. The writing when I got home was the real hardship. At least I had a couple of online friends to keep me company. Stevie came here to change for the Wednesday Bacchanal Fete that Binky and Alvie also went to. I know Stevie wanted to stay here tonight and as much as I care for him as  friend the prospect of waking up at 3 or 4 am to open the gate to let him in and then waking at 7 am to let him out  was more than my mind could bear given the Fodor’s writing. I hope he understands.


Other than that..let’s see…my back is killing me from typing all night but I am sure I can remember.  Grommit is home tired and a bit sick, Binky and Alvie called from the fete simultaneously a moment ago on my home and mobile lines..so I chose to answer Binky and Astrid is missing in action. 100_4434.jpg

January 29, 2008

Guyana and the aftermath

I have only been to Guyana once in my life and that was to cover the last elections for ieTV along with my cameraman and close friend Steve.  We hit the ground running and even in our short stint there I felt there was something different about the place. I am saying this because of the recent horrific massacre and because to me it reveals that Guyana’s great beauty and limitless potential is undermined by a troubled past that has left permanent scars. It seems clear that the demented gang leader and his cohorts who committed this shameless act of barbarism are the actual cause but they are, to me, symptomatic of a deeper crisis in Guyanese society.


Guyana is a land that is riven along racial lines. I remember telling Steve in Georgetown that race seemed to permeate the society in a much more disturbing way than it does in Trinidad. Especially in the election period I felt there was a ticking bomb of racial division that could go off at any minute. In Trinidad we talk race but ultimately, despite the fact that the populace votes along racial lines, there is a bonhomie that descends the minute politics is out of the way. Play some music, serve some food and Trinis don’t care what colour the next person is. In Guyana there is a divide that seems a normal part of regular life. It is partly understandable as years of Forbes Burnham’s regime left the Indian community isolated and distrustful of the African population and the African population sees the Indians as the gouging merchant class. It is an age old story. Given the fact the victim’s of the weekend massacre were all of Indian origin and the gang in question was, even by the account of the BBC and AFP, of African origin I can only imagine this will prove a setback for any move towards a détente between the races in Guyana.


The Jagdeo government is fighting an uphill battle right now to placate people living in rural communities..especially those of Indian origin who comprise his power base…that he can protect them. With more protests and road barricades today he has to convince his supporters that he will be able to protect them from those who would seek to harm them. Ultimately, he probably does not have much to worry about as it is highly unlikely his people will defect to the dreaded PNC.


The saddest thing about the whole situation is that had Guyana not been dragged into the mire by Burnham and his ilk Guyana might have been not only the richest country in the region but a virtual social paradise as well. It is sad how one bad leader, whatever his race, can destroy the hopes and dreams of an entire people and leave them drifting for years trying to rebuild their shattered society. It is a cautionary tale for us all.


I noticed an interesting phenomenon today when i glanced at my blog stats..there was a huge spike of about 300% in readership almost entirely attributable to people wanting to read about what happened in Guyana. I was even more surprised when I noticed that typing in “Horror in Guyana: in Google had my blog entry as the top choice. It seems that the Guyanese Diaspora  is hungry for information about their homeland. Like relationships, where there is interest, concern and love there is the possibility for a brighter day ahead. The concern that Guyanese have for their homeland as seen only from hits to by little blog tells me there is hope for great things ahead for Guyana.


Other than that Carnival week is making any movement in Port of Spain a headache-inducing ordeal. The fact that T&TEC the power company decided that rush hour was the time to block lanes of traffic so their trucks could engage in the essential business of hanging Carnival banners over the roadway still leaves me speechless. The normal 5 minute drive from Cascade to ieTv took 55 minutes. Merry Monarch my backside.


I am hoping that Alvin and Binky make my place their home base for Carnival as I just love their company. Last Carnival was wonderful because, despite the fact i was working, I had them both here putting on costumes and I even dropped them on Tragarete Rd to join their band. I am also waiting for Astrid to call because I told her she can stay here as well because it is convenient for with her various party attendances. Grommit indicated that he will remain based at UWI…so I am comforted to know Kensington Court will not be a flop house but a great Carnival lime. Off to bed now…T&T Fodor’s should be done tomorrow. img_4058.jpg

January 28, 2008

The crazy season heads for a climax

Carnival is a week away and it is now unavoidable even for those such as me who make every effort to ignore it this year. Today was the Panorama Semis so getting anywhere in Port of Spain involved circuitous routes weaving in and out of back streets. Apparently every year Carnival comes as a complete surprise to the police as I found myself driving down several streets only to be met with barriers. It seems that putting a sign at the top of the street saying “Road Closed” is beyond their capabilities. Given their abysmal crime detection rate and inability to curb our crime spree I really don’t know why i am surprised.


Work was the usual and I managed to read  the 6:30 news without stalling or falling down dead..so I guess that was good. We had a good selection of stories and I was happy I was able to get some video of Guyana to do a follow up. I have to say Melissa Williams is young ( as anyone is compared to me) but she will one day be a very competent Head of News as she is scarily organized and has a great ability to get info on any breaking story. Ria Rambally did a few stories too and I think her potential is astounding. She voices very well already and is getting pretty handy at stories as well..for someone who is just a hair over 20 I really don’t know what to say.  Oh sure, she tried on her Tribe carnival costume in the office ( it looks like a tribute to the corbeau) but that is just a reassuring sign of the ebullience of youth ( and I swear Melissa did not try it on and I do not have photographic evidence of same).


I am still working at putting direction back in my life by changing the roles that different people play in my life but it is proving harder than I thought…I may have to go back to my old blunt ways. I simply cannot afford to have people or situations push me back into that dark place I experienced recently. I know what i have to do and as Sister Paul taught me…it has to be done or else I cannot progress in life.  On a bright note I am pleased to say that the people who genuinely kept abreast of how I was coping made themselves evident very quickly. The list of those who were concerned is amazingly short but rather telling..I will not embarrass those who didn’t bother but I will say that Peggy, Urse, Ric, Richardson, Robin, Binky, Kirby, Alvin, , Mark, Melissa, Giselle, Steve ( who was angry I didn’t call him) and Astrid are on my A-List now…not that the benefits to them are great..but still. And those who I didn’t tell are certainly excused.


And to my Fodor’s Editor Doug Stallings …who I know will never read this..thank you for being your usual understanding self.

January 26, 2008

Horror in Guyana

Today was dominated by the horrific murders that took place in Guyana. Yes, it was , of course, our main news story but it also affected us all on a very personal level. It is not hard to imagine that T&T could descend into that sort of morass of crime and lawlessness fairly easily as well. That is not even to mention the shock of knowing that 11 people including 5 children were brutally killed while resting in their homes.

 

For those not familiar with the story, it might be best to just excerpt from Agence France-Presse:

 

“Gunmen with assault rifles shot and killed 11 people in a Guyana village early Saturday, in an attack police blamed on a criminal gang whose leader has threatened widespread violence.

Protests erupted after the shootings, as thousands of people faced off with police and soldiers and set fire to tires on a major thoroughfare, raising concerns of further violence and ethnic tensions.

At least five of the victims were children, said Divisional Police Commander Leroy Brummel. Three survivors were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.”

 

it seems the heinous act was committed for an even stranger reason:

 

“The attacks followed reports of telephone threats by Rondell Rawlins, said to head a gang of some 20 heavily armed black men he organized after breaking out of prison in 2002.

Rawlins reportedly threatened widespread violence after the disappearance of his pregnant common-law wife, which he blames on police.

Police say Rawlins is responsible for a series of murders, robberies and kidnappings in the past years, including the slaying of an agriculture minister in 2006 and the abduction of a US diplomat in 2003.”

 

Melissa Williams was on the story from the moment she came in  and despite us being unable to get the President of Guyana on his mobile she managed to get exclusive colour pictures of the victims as them lay dead in their homes. This led us to an interesting dilemma. Do we withhold the gruesome evidence of the scene, do we show it but blur it or do we actually show it raw to the public? After careful decision we decided ( well i guess I had the final word) that we needed to show the true horror of what went on. We are almost inured to crime as a society and having it happen in Guyana  made it even less real. By showing the shots of dead children and parents the real horror was so in your face the public would understand how awful a situation it was. I am comfortable with that decision but why our editors used the same short clips of Georgetown to cover the rest of the story rather than the ton of footage they had available and why they did not show the protest pictures ( one of which is in this entry) I do not know. I watched the newscast as Melissa read and was somewhat annoyed that the story was weakened by the use of repeating file footage shots of downtown when I know we have footage of President Jagdeo ( after all Steve and I were there shooting it)  and today’s still shots of the protest. I will have to bring that up with the editors tomorrow. Both Melissa and I were not happy with that situation as we spoke when i dropped her downtown after the news.

 

Other than that not much to report today. Chatted with Alvin, Binky, Robin, Omar, Astrid and others who shall remain nameless for the moment. There was some idle chit chat that suggested Iggy would pop over to my place with Nicole this evening but the poor thing was not feeling well despite my clever purchase of a bottle of Shiraz to amuse her. So Iggy is in bed now, Grommit is in South at a birthday party, Alvin and Binky are probably drinking and dancing somwehere, Robin is in his four poster bed snoring and I am home blogging…all is normal in the world.

 

Oh great i just too the “how straight are you” test for guys on Facebook because I saw that Binky too it and I have now been informed that I am straighter than 0% of my friends…it isn’t my fault I moisturize every day and use an undereye cream!!! Dammit. 

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January 24, 2008

Generation Crap

Because of the circles I find myself in, especially of late, it sometimes amazes me that while I feel comfortable amongst people much younger than me there are definite differences that cannot be overlooked. I say this in mild horror as I think we all stick to a certain internal mental age and mine is around 21. That being the case it upsets me when i sometimes think of my younger friends as whippersnappers who need to be tapped upside the head. I suppose even at 21 I was a bit different from most young people and always felt that decorum was essential to a life well lived…not so now apparently. While I can keep up with the best of them in technology and even music I cannot for the life of me grasp the behaviour patterns that result from even small groups congregating.


When a group of three or more ..and I shall specify UWI students..congregate… there seems to be some sort of ..and I hate this word as i hate any bodily function word…belch. I do not recall me ever doing such a thing in public and even in private I am taxing my brain to think of an instance. There is also the tendency to loud talk when everyone is within 4 feet of each other..another practice that confuses me. I suppose it is inevitable when hanging with such a group that any mention of Duran Duran draws only blank stares but I am truly surprised that The Beatles and The Doors are still considered cool. The trend for young people here in Trinidad to use expressions like “dred” and call each other “hoss” is best discussed in some other forum where I am not allowed to vent. On the bright side, there is a perspective and a freshness that I gain from hanging around with younger people that really stimulates my brain. I go to work and I can ask questions that I would never have thought of before because I was trapped in another paradigm. Speaking of which…I haven’t heard a peep from my gal pal Astrid all day I must text her and see how she is doing…presumably she is in a skimpy outfit at some fete.


Producing news today was fairly easy as we had too much to choose from..I hope tomorrow is similar because i suspect I will be doing this for a long time.

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