ieTV’s coverage of a bold and historic protest in Port of Spain, Trinidad calling for the Equal Opportunity Act to include age, sexual orientation and HIV status to its anti-discrimination protections. The reporter, like most of those who covered the event, included same sex marriage though that was not one of the calls that CAISO was making at this time.
Just a short note today as I only just got home from broadcasting our analysis of the 2008/2009 budget that was delivered today. It was supposed to be the first budget to be delivered by a female Finance Minister and also one of the shortest budget speeches . I will freely agree it was delivered by a female Finance Minister but at 3.5 hours it was surely not even competition for the 35 minute speech during the UNC regime. Worse still those of us enduring it in the newsroom had to reapply facial moisturizer several times because we could feel the dryness of the delivery dehydrating our faces. The entire presentation was ineffably boring.
I had my views and our panel basically just reinforced my beliefs that this budget was just a rehash of last year’s. Nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing original. The only new ground this budget broke was in managing to spend $50 billion dollars of taxpayers money. Maybe it is just me expecting miracles but I think when large amounts of money are involved those spending it should be visionaries. I am used to Steve Jobs at Apple who, despite his almost innumerable faults, gets people excited about plans. Surely, when it is a country involved, people should feel involved and look forward to the future. I honestly don’t feel even interested in what is being planned. There must be something wrong when $50 billion is spent in a country of only 1.3 million people and I can see no immediate tangible benefit. Indeed, the government says that agriculture is a priority and is still spending less on it than it is giving to Tobago with 80,000 people. Feeding a two island nation of securing Tobago votes …. I guess the government has made its decision.
On a side note it was an interesting day for family today. I hosted the budget discussion with my cousin Gillian Lucky being part of the panel since I was actually using her time since she normally hosts Just Gill ..her programme …in that time slot. I love Gillian so I was fine with that. Even more interesting, while Gillian and I share the fact we are both fully Lucky family members ( mine changed their name) I was shocked by a comment I received today from the only true bearer of one of my family names . Blogs are a minefield of surprises. It seems that my cousin Johnny found this blog while in Switzerland. I didn’t even know he had moved to the land of ridiculous prices and ridiculously high mountains …oh..and Heidi.
So basically..it was a really boring and expensive budget and I got closer to two family members. A mixed bag but to my mind a really good one. And I will freely admit I would love Gillian as Prime Minister.
Wait a minute…that wasn’t short.
In pondering the recent devastation visited on the Caribbean and the city of Galveston in Texas by Hurricane Ike I thought of that wonderful song by Glen Campbell. Without discussing any of the dates the first two record albums I ever got as a child were Galveston and Go Moog. The latter was famous for only the song Popcorn which was pretty amazing at the time since it was done entirely by an early synthesizer but Glen Campbell’s song still sticks in my mind today. There was something really haunting about it even with the rather bizarre line “I clean my gun” – only in the US of A I guess. And even then it is slightly less bizarre than Glen Campbell’s drunk driving police photo.
The retrospection also led me to think about my interviews on the station. Today I had Winston Dookeran the leader of the COP which was a first as he has never been on the programme before. A conspicuous holdout in the pantheon of guests. Then I thought about it and it dawned on me that I have literally interviewed hundreds of guests so far. It is startling when I think about it as I literally have hundreds of hours of interviews under my belt for one station never mind the thousands of hours for my career. I am pretty sure there isn’t a person of significance in this country I haven’t interviewed. That is an odd statistic to deal with but I guess it is reality and so I must. I am actually very grateful I have had the chance to talk to some of the most interesting people in the country. It isn’t always easy but I am happy I do what I do. Strike that..I am very happy.
Life is a weird thing but I can honestly say that I have chosen a career that makes me happy. I may not be rich but I look forward to every single day and can honestly say if I died today I would only wish I had done more interviews.
The title of this entry is also the name of one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite singers Ella Andall. It was written by David Rudder who I have written about before and who is pretty much a musical god in my eyes so that alone says a lot about Ella given David chose to write it for her. If you try and find her music online you will be pretty limited because Ella, like so many things about these islands, is an undiscovered talent. She has a voice that can move the heavens and has frequently led me to feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise to attention. I don’t know why talents like Ella Andall are not celebrated around the planet it may be bad marketing or even a lack of interest on her part but I am just happy I have heard her voice…I am better for it.
The extraordinary picture I used in this entry is of a waterspout that formed in the Gulf of Paria today and snapped by my pal Peter Sheppard. Grabbing a shot like that requires luck, good timing and a perfect location. Peter is an artist and photographer so he had the perfect foundation and living up on Ft. George hill was a perfect situation. Happily he emailed the shots to me earlier today and along with other viewer submitted shots and footage we were able to put the fascinating event in the news. Speaking of which there is no greater stress than having the power go for over an hour at 4pm with a generator that does not power the newsroom or the editing suites is a recipe for stress. We pulled it off but I still have a tension headache and I thank the heavens for efficient reporters and an incredible team of editors made up of Neil and Shiraz.
I must say Alton Brown’s Feasting on Waves was mildly less interesting than last week. He is sticking with smaller islands such as Saba and St. Marteen which obviously do not represent the Caribbean. At least he touched on mauby which is one of my favourite beverages. Mauby is bitter but it is truly amazing I recommend everyone try it on a hot day and tell me what they think.
I only noticed today that my first blog entry was on September 5th, 2007 so I am actually late in observing the 1st anniversary of this blog. I never thought I would keep it up for an entire year but amazingly it has survived. I realized that I remember blogging about my Fodor’s trips and now that I am faced with the assignments coming in again it dawned on me that it must have been a year. I will soon be faced with running around T&T, Bonaire ( yay!), Curacao and Aruba again and I am happy for it. Better still I am redoing the Focus Aruba book again after a few years hiatus so that means I will be in Aruba for a bit longer and I can hang out with my pals at the Aruba Tourism Authority and Susan at Bucuti..even better. I am happy I have done this blog and I am completely amazed by the thousands of entries that have been read. I vaguely remember saying in my first entry that I hoped to make the occasional update – who knew? All I can say is that anyone is thinking about blogging they really should. It is a great way of venting and, in my case, killing time in between editing or writing.
Bring down the power of blogs I say!
Didn’t have a chance to blog yesterday but we an interesting day at the station with not one but two Olympic medalists popping in to say hi. Richard “Torpedo” Thompson, fresh from his medal winning performances at the 2008 Olympics came in accompanied by Ato Boldon who has 4 Olympic medals to his credit.
I am not the biggest sports fan but it was still very cool to have the two of them in the same place at the same time and naturally, Kodak Z612 in hand , we took a few pictures of the event. Despite the fact we all work in television it doesn’t stop us from indulging in moments of starry-eyed sucking up. Interestingly, Richard is from Cascade where I live. It amazes me that an country that has a relatively tiny population of 1.3 million and land area that is smaller than many metropolitan areas in the Northern Hemisphere seems to have such a large number of world famous people. I mean we have two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature ( though we share Walcott with St. Lucia) and , as of 2008, a goodly number of Olympic medalists.
Other than that the PM managed to amaze absolutely no one by winning a vote of no confidence in Parliament. Given his party has a majority and the history of those who have crossed him is not a pretty one thus preventing any possibility of internal revolt I suspect the Opposition was just trying to give vent to their views. They managed to do that in the marathon 12 hour sitting of Parliament but it also allowed the ruling party to indulge in quite a few hours of self-aggrandizement themselves. The whole thing took place against a ridiculous backdrop of thousands of government day workers wearing government red t-shirts chanting their support for the ruling PNM in Woodford Square right next to the Red House. Apparently, according to the Mayor of Port of Spain permission had been granted for the square to be used for an “arts and crafts display”. With the dozens of public buses ferrying the throngs in and giant screens showing the Parliament Channel live it honestly didn’t look like any handicraft show I have ever seen.
The end result of all this – nothing gained and nothing lost by either side. In other words it was a typical day in T&T politics.
Though my intention is to write a bit about the Caribbean as a region I must say today was not a shining example of what most people would expect from us in terms of sun, sand and rum punches. It was a work day so that pretty well puts paid to the alcoholic beverages and being at the office pretty well eliminated the sand thing though my office desk was feeling a tad gritty.
It is my custom to walk straight to one of my Macs upon waking to check my newsfeeds and check the weather satellite images at the lovely NHC site. Today I was faced with an inadequate level of info about Turks and Caicos and how they fared and with what appeared to be an ugly red weather system about to descend on Trinidad. By the time I rounded the Queen’s Park Savannah on the way to the office I could see ugly black clouds emerging over the tips of the Northern Range. While disturbing it was also possessed of a terrible beauty that almost led me to crash the Mondeo ( well, that and some interesting human sights on the savannah). I phoned Mookish the cameraman as I was about 30 seconds from work and told him to catch the clouds as they would make useful archive shots for any storm coverage we might want to do. As I parked I met up with him and we managed to capture some great shots including lightning bolts in action.
It turned out that that was just the beginning of a day of extreme weather for us. It poured to the point that much of Port of Spain was underwater and our offices turned into an island of sorts as flood waters reached all the way up our driveway. After that it poured some more and didn’t stop pouring for several hours. Apparently we had the lead story for today and, as it turned out, we got off easy as roofs blew off houses in some parts of the country. I must say our crew got some amazing shots of submerged cars, flooded streets and, yes, our shots of black clouds sneaking over the Northern Range complete with lightning. It was still a pretty hectic day and I only got the news script finished four minutes before I had to run into studio to read. Thank heavens for Wong who can view a tape and write a story faster than most people can deny having viewed porn in their browser.
I came home looking forward to a quiet evening of quality Food Network programming only to discover that Alton Brown has a new programme called Feasting on Waves. It is an interesting programme for several reasons not the least of which is that Alton Brown, for all his annoying foibles and smugness, has an amazing knowledge of food. The programme has him and his crew sailing the Caribbean ( at least it seems to be based on our region) and investigating the foods of each island. It was fascinating to see him investigating the foods we take for granted such as soursop, lemongrass, dasheen and salted cod. His first programme was set primarily in St. Kitts which is an interesting island that manages to bridge the dominant influence of Jamaica with the rest of the Caribbean …just hearing their accent was a treat. There is something remarkably pleasurable about watching a food expert like Alton drinking something as Caribbean as bush tea made from lemongrass ( also called vetiver or fever grass here) and enjoying it. I love being reminded that the things we take for granted are considered exotic by much of the rest of the world.
Alton said an interesting thing. He described the history of our region and the various races and ethnicities that make up the wondrous pastiche we call home and he noted that we are probably the first part of the world that understood and embraced fusion cuisine. I don’t necessarily agree as I am pretty sure Southern Europe beat us to the punch but he has a point. The food of our region is spectacularly diverse. We think nothing of dining on a mixture of African, Asian and European cuisines. Many a time I find myself ordering lunch at a nearby fast food establishment and having a container full of curry, creole root vegetables and macaroni pie. To be honest, one of the reasons I moved back here was that I missed the food and the amazing ingredients. One of my greatest joys is turning classic French or Italian cuisine on its head by substituting local ingredients. I draw the line at screwing with some dishes such as cassoulet but many other things are fair game.
I am happy to hear now that Turks and Caicos did not suffer as badly as they might have and I am hoping that Cuba ( despite my normal distaste for the Latin world) escapes with minimal damage. I have to say that floods, hurricanes and corrupt politicians notwithstanding we are still an incredible part of the world and I am happy I live here.
Now when will Anthony Bourdain deign to come here and make my life complete?
I blog this evening after I called Toronto to speak to my folks only to learn from my brother that they were on a tour of the Eastern Provinces. I vaguely recollect them indicating they would be going on a trip but I was a bit shocked that I had missed their departure. This job of mine makes time warp into a blur of homicides and interviews. My dismay at the trip is predicated by a minor childhood trauma . I was in my early teens and my parents decided to move house without informing me of the development. Imagine my puzzlement when i came home from school to discover an abandoned house? And people wonder why I am slightly neurotic.
In any case, my brother rebuffed me for not updating my blog. I was surprised that he seems to read it on a regular basis but I now feel sufficiently guilty to fling together an entry.
My brother and I have a quirky relationship that has had a few ups and downs over the ..ahem..decades. I will be the first to admit that, as the older sibling, I may have been a tad ungentlemanly over the years and done things to him that might, in retrospect ( and the eyes of the UN) amount to cruel and unusual punishment. I recall an episode involving me locking him in a steamer trunk atop an armoire that might possibly qualify me for prison time. Nonetheless, despite our widely different lives and personalities we got closer as we got older and, though the love was always there, we now have something approaching a healthy bond. The fact he is now twice my size may possibly also account for the detente but I like to think it is just the grinning face of death awaiting us just a few corners away.
My other thoughts are revolving around the fact I should make more of an effort to insist on having regular off-days. For the last several months there have been far too many times when I have gone over 10 days without a day off. Working weekends doesn’t help but I will henceforth insist on having at least one (or preferably two) days off every week. I don’t see why I should be the only person working abnormally long weeks.
On a recent drive I happened upon the pictured specimen of the cannabis sativa plant. It was a wee little fledgling but I have never seen one before and I was amazed at how pretty it is. Frankly, they should legalize the thing just for those beautiful serrated leaves. Sad to know that it will probably be weeded out and tossed in the garbage lest the long hand of the law reach out to touch the person on whose property it apparently decided to spontaneously populate.
I have always felt the battle against weed/cannabis/ganja was a foolish one. I personally hate the smell of it when it is burned but anything that can be grown easily is not a good candidate for eradication especially when so many people are keen on using it. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that alcohol and cigarettes probably kill more people and have far worse long term effects. It is human nature to want to escape which explains nicely why virtually every culture has developed alcohol at some point.
I only tried weed once when I was much younger but it didn’t really appeal to me. Maybe I am just too much of an elitist and think that a Pernod and water has far more cachet but I defend the right of others to get tipsy in whatever way they choose. Also, it should be noted, marijuana has quite a few medical benefits while Pernod only serves to prime me for early diabetes. I say legalize the thing and let’s just learn to deal with people with red eyes munching Pringles ( remember they are not crisps) and sporting silly t-shirts.
News was great today and despite having to read news when I really didn’t want to I ended the day at 8:30pm quite satisfied. Every day lately I have been noticing what an amazing group of news people I have working with me. They are all totally unique and yet we work really well together and have fun doing it?
The personal life continues to shine so I shall reserve comment on that except to say that there is a lovely Trinidad expression “to put goat mouth on something”. It basically means to jinx something by talking about it . So if you say your career is going really well and then you get fired you can say you put goat mouth on yourself. I am not a superstitious sort but one never knows. It brings to mind the famous atheists prayer….Oh God, if there is a God. Save my soul if I have a soul ( attributed to Ernest Renan) . I believe that pretty well says it all. And thanks to Bun for the advice to speak in generalities.
Interesting day today what with feeling like crap and working. Actually, I was a bit tired of my hypochondriac self and proceeded with my day as normal. My 1pm interview with Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj was cancelled when he called at 7:30 to say he had to attend parliament. I have been doing this for a long time but even I have to defer to the business of the nation. My second interview with Kevin Ratiram was intact.
I did the makeup thing I hate and went down to the interview when I was called and informed he had arrived. It was interesting to say the least. Ratiram is a compatriot of Ramlogan and the entire COP crew but in my research I noted he is also an attorney/actor/model and and the new President of the Rotary Club of Penal. He has led some interesting cases that caught the news and he obviously lost in contesting the seat for the COP as they failed to gain a single seat. I was, however, astounded by his optimism and enthusiasm. Here is a young guy who is also a lawyer who sees the underside of T&T society and yet, if we are to believe him, he really feels he can make a change. I am a natural cynic but I give him credit for being quite convincing about his plans for the Rotary Club in Penal. The fact he looked like he came from Bollywood only made the whole experience more bizarre. But I say good for him and if his plans for change are really honest I wish him all the best.
I have been thinking a lot about what Bunny wrote in his blog. I would have never guessed a few years ago that reading something on the net would be a big deal in my life but apparently times have changed. The choice of changing jobs and, by definition, changing friends and environment. can be a serious thing. I am now, as they say, carefully guided.