Archive for January, 2008

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

Out of the Depths

Back home now after a day of producing news and then an 8pm ieNews meeting with the CEO and staff. Meetings drain me in a way that I cannot fully explain and a 2 hour meeting is like torture. I know we have to have them to improve our product and Tony Maharaj actually holds a great meeting but to my mind it is still a meeting. I sit there waiting for the inevitable sniping and I got a bit of it sent in my direction but really not a lot. In all the media houses I have worked for the usual complaint about me is that in order to get the job done I can be a bit cavalier when it comes to the feelings of staff. I know it is in my nature but to be honest I have never seen news as a chance to make friends and develop that warm fuzzy feeling. It is all about getting the job done. Being quite thick skinned myself it amazes me that people don’t just recognize that what I say in the heat of getting a newscast on is not to be taken personally.  To his credit Tony actually explained that to staff saying he has known me for a long time and he knows how I operate so people should adjust to my method a little bit. It is always nice to have a CEO who understands you…if you ever get one…chain yourself to the company and stay there forever.


In all fairness to the crew, though, most of their concern was not directed towards me.  My feeling is they should notice I get the news on in a timely way with minimal stress to the staff and technical crew and they all get to go home earlier…to me that must count for something.


We carried an item of news about Guyana that rather interestingly reflects my sentiments in yesterday’s entry in that an expert in Guyana is suggesting the recent killing of 11 people there may lead to further ethnic conflict.  This was coupled with the coincidence that I had the President of the Global Organisation for  People of Indian Origin ( GOPIO) T&T chapter in for an interview today as well. I am sure his organisation has many good points but I still don’t understand what an Indian from India and an Indian from Trinidad or , for that matter Guyana or Fiji, have in common. Other than appearance I don’t see what the heck they have to sit around and talk about. As I told the guest, sure Trini Indians may loudly announce they are Indo Trinidadians here and vote for the UNC but let them migrate to the US or Canada and watch how quickly they run out and buy an “I am a Trini” t-shirt.


Other than that I chatted with Binky today who is always supportive and is like a mini-me, saw Omar briefly, was invited for drinks by Alvie ( I was too tired after the meeting) and did the usual check-ins with Robin and Peter. Whatever the ups and downs of my days some things are as predictable as sunrise and sunset. 100_4427.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 25, 2008

Dark night of my soul.

It was not a good day today. I am not always the most chipper person on the planet and view exceptionally happy people with grave suspicion but I have not been plagued by too many bouts of depression recently. I am not talking about those occasional down moments we all have when things seem bleak or when Britney threatens to release another album – I  am speaking of the real thing the bottomless pit in the deepest hell of the mind. I awoke this morning feeling a little better from the flu but with a nagging sensation in the pit of my stomach that seemed to be radiating to the rest of my body. Coffee didn’t help and smoking made me feel even worse. I showered, got dressed and fixed my hair at which point i was feeling like crying for no reason whatsoever. I pulled myself together and got in the Mondeo and headed to work. By the time I got there the feeling was like a heavy weight on me and I was barely able to sit and keep myself together. The sense of loss, overwhelming sadness and despair got to the point it was just short of  pushing me over the edge. Eventually the required numbness set in saving me from having to hide any sharp objects. It was a terrible feeling and one I haven’t experienced in some time. I don’t think people who have never experienced severe depression can truly understand how horrible it is to be locked screaming in the dungeon of one’s own mind with no one able to hear or help. I know that clinical depression runs in both sides of my family so I assume there is a genetic component to the whole thing. When I was younger I had more frequent bouts of depression often triggered my something situational such as a bad relationship or family troubles. I have done the paxil/zoloft thing and even ended up in a medical institution as a result of too friendly an acquaintance  with a bottle of prescription pills…but those experiences were years ago. I thought my bouts of severe depression had been banished following my dealings with a psychologist years ago. It seems that is not the case. At least today’s experience was only a 6 hour ordeal. After the depression started to lift I tried to think about a cause since situations often trigger me and I am still working on it. I can rule out work because I know I love that and it probably saved me from testing my amperage tolerance today. I know my social/love/intellectual life is a mess lately in that I need to focus more on getting my life to where I want it. Right now I have taken rather a Forrest Gump approach to dealing with the non-work areas of my life.  I have been hanging out with different people lately but i know it is not really helping keep me on the track I want to be on as amusing as it may be. In terms of love I realize that my idea of love is apparently an anachronistic concept in this day an age and I fear I am in danger of giving up on the whole concept. I called Mum yesterday and that sounded like a disaster with Mum sounding frantic, my brother complaining about his divorce, kids screaming and my poor stepdad trying to sound calm in the middle of everything. Perhaps it is a good thing i don’t call too often and can spend the rest of the time pretending I have a stable and rock solid family somewhere.I think this should be the year to focus on getting my life in order and making it what i want it to be. Maybe it is too much to want a great job, wonderful and supportive friends and someone in my life who can enhance it and make me believe in a true bond that can weather any storm. I might even try stopping smoking…nahhhhh..let’s work on the other things first then maybe I may not even want to smoke.In the meantime I have people like Binky, Alvin and Robin to rely on for comfort..or in Alvin’s case constructive abuse. And i seem to have at least one other shining soul working their way into my life so I guess things are not so bad. Tomorrow is a new day and I hope the dark cloud dissipates and the silver lining remains.  vern4.jpg 

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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January 24, 2008

The Write Stuff

When I started this little online diary a few months ago I said I would try to put up the occasional blog entry. Having become almost addicted to a near daily update I seldom even think that anyone even reads what i write. Having created this mirror site ( which is rapidly becoming my entry point to the blog because it is more  convenient) I now have access to all the site stats that WordPress provides. It amazes me how many hits this site actually gets. Between the two sites over 2000 pages have been read and as of yesterday the .Mac site crossed 1000 hits and the WordPress figure, which started much much later is already in excess of that and climbing rapidly. The fact that so many people read amazes me but WordPress also allows me to see what pages people read and how they came to the site..which is even more interesting.  Google started indexing my pages a while back and quite a large percentage of my readers apparently find the site through Google. It is interesting to see whaat they search for as well. People search for the names of some of my interview subjects, for the names of ieTV staff members, for Carnival related subjects and my favourite…someone who searched for “being hogtied “. I also notice that the tags I place on the entries can make a real difference to the number of page reads. When I did one of my entries on the diversity of my friends and used the word “gay” as a tag the hits skyrocketed. I guess there are a number of people out there who actively search out specific themes and want to know about regional developments in that area of interest. Given that there are any number of things I could write about  I suppose it sometimes affects what I choose when I realize that readers prefer certain subjects. I am happy to oblige. Other than that I stayed home today as the flu still has me feverish though given my previously stated belief that it is similar to sex..I should take what I can get. I used the time to do laundry, work on Fodors and ponder the uselessness of existence…all the while feeling guilty that I was actually not at ieTV. I took a break to go to HiLo to get medication and to give Omar a lift from downtown to the Cascadia Hotel where is currently working with a Carnival Mas Camp…why they would pick such a oddly located distribution point I will never know. After that brief expedition and a rather puzzling call and hangup from a good friend I came back home and went back to Fodors till my back could take no more at the keyboard. Whatever guilt I may have felt about taking a day off ( so I only worked 6 days this week) was quickly dismissed when Vashtee called from work to say that her sister was diagnosed with a medical problem in the States and she had to fly out on Friday to be with her. Vash has been off for various reasons in the past and it means that I have to fill the gap and produce the weekday and weekend news in addition to my One on One interviews and whatever special projects Tony Maharaj needs done. I love work..but after doing that for almost 3 months non-stop last year i ended up getting nosebleeds from the strain on my body. I hope it will be of a shorter duration this time..thank heavens for a great crew.  My new work schedule starts tomorrow so wish me luck. I will update the .Mac site tomorrow.  picture-1.png 



January 22, 2008

Getting out of gear

Well it finally happened me and The Hearse are finally reunited after a month apart. I must say after paying the mechanics and taking control of her again it was a very strange experience getting used to her feel. Whereas the Suzuki is light and nimble getting the Mondeo onto the road felt like steering my living room. I was immediately conscious that I was guiding 2 tons of metal on the road.  Turning required minutes of planning and trying to estimate the back of the car which is about 18 feet long almost requires a navigator. The low driving position also took a while to get used to. It is funny how quickly one can get used to a different vehicle. It is nice having the comfortable suspension and  automatic shift though so I am getting used to her again. I was still sick today, sicker if anything, but I had agreed to produce the news today for Vashtee and figured I would just sit there fevered until the planned news meeting at 8pm.  The news was almost done and I dashed off in the Suzuki ( wasn’t comfortable with the Mondeo yet) to pick up Grommit and drop him to the Cascadia Hotel since he had no other way of getting there. Got back in time to see Giselle had her newscast and take more pills as my fever was ramping up again. Somewhere in there Tony decided that there was no point having a news meeting if Vash wasn’t there and we had two cameramen out so we postponed it till next week. Typical of us. That meant I could return the Toco keys to Robin and pick up Grommit at the hotel to drop him to catch his taxi as the hotel is only a couple of minutes from my place. Sitting here now wondering what will happen if I let the  fever keep building..will I spontaneously combust? Perhaps I will melt into my chaise? I suppose it is best not to explore some possibilities as brain damage seems a more likely outcome. I find fevers fascinating as I invariably think back to other fevers i have had in my life. There is something disturbing yet oddly fascinating about the jangly nerves and the galvanic skin response that fevers induce. I find there is an almost sexual quality to the feeling..not quite …but there is a definite nexus. Sad to see that actor Heath Ledger apparently committed suicide today at the age of 28. Even in the most apparently charmed of lives there  may be demons lurking.100_4263.jpg

January 22, 2008

Burning up

Woke up with clear signs of the flu which was not the best start to my day. I had an interview with Rosemary Hezekiah of Trinidadtunes.com but mercifully that was at 3pm so i was able to take my time getting ready. God I hate makeup. It went well as Roses and I are old acquaintances so it was a very easy interview and I think they are on to a good thing doing a download service for local music. Pity that most people will still chose to just download for free thus depriving local artists of money they desperately need.I am now sitting staring at this screen and trying to not let the fever make me write some sort of Coleridge tome. I should have interesting dreams tonight as I always do when I am feverish. I am still in my strange mental place but I am trying to get out of it by analyzing my life. As far as I can tell my work life is great so it is my personal life that needs attention. I suppose being without my own car for a month has had a psychological effect on me…but thank god I work for a company that lets me use its car for so long with no argument.I suspect i will come out of this place soon. It is a new year and some interesting people have come into my life so it may make a difference. Maybe a great difference..I will keep my fingers crossed. I will constantly remind myself that i am a really good and decent person and deserve a good life.100_4243.jpg