Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun Friday - Fave era defining movies

If you're a movie fanatic like me, every now and again you reminisce about a great movie experience; those movies that defined the era they were in, set trends or were the talk of the town for a period of time.

Sadly, I find that in recent years the quality of movies has declined, and now I seldom remember a movie the day after I watched it. Anyhoo, here are some of my favourite movies that defined the era they were in and have a cult following to this day.


The Harder They Come
I was only one year old when this movie came out in 1973, but it became a favourite of mine when I watched it about 15 years later. Jimmy Cliff turned in a powerful portrayal of reggae singer turned criminal Ivanhoe Martin and the film's soundtrack -especially the hit Many Rivers to Cross - is legendary. It set the foundation for other popular Caribbean movies such as Dancehall Queen to follow, and if it were released today I'm sure it would be an Oscar contender.

Star Wars
I still believe that Star Wars is the greatest adventure ever told. Thirty-two years after the release of the first movie in the franchise, the force is stronger than ever. George Lucas' tale of lightsaber-wielding heroes, captured princesses and alien species laid the groundwork for many of the science fiction films we see today.

Althought Roots was really a television miniseries and not a movie in the true sense, I thought I would still include it. Looking back, for the story of multiple generations of African Americans, starting with their ancestor the slave Kunta Kinte, to be told on tv in the US in 1971 was quite an achievement.


Indiana Jones
Harrison Ford followed up his acting debut in Star Wars with that of adventurous archaelogoy professor Indiana Jones. The first movie in the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, was released in 1981 and started off a decade of pretty cool adventure movies. To show the popularity of the series, an Indiana Jones movie was released last year, even though Harrison Ford must be 100 years old by now. Just kidding.

Before he was the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the star of a little movie called Terminator, which blew into theatres in the summer of 1984. Since then, the phrase "I'll be back" has become part of movie history.

I remember going to the Globe Cinema with my sister and cousin to watch Terminator and let me tell you, a serious crowd was waiting to get in to watch the film. The three of us couldn't even sit together, it was that crowded. I had to watch the movie again on video because the audience was screaming from start to finish and I couldn't hear a word of the dialogue. Ah, movie memories.

The 80s were great for science fiction, and Aliens was right up there at the top of the list. It isn't every day that a sci-fi adventure gets nominated for Oscars; Aliens was that good.

Top Gun
The adrenaline-rush of a movie Top Gun must have been single-handedly responsible for a boost in recruitment for the US Navy. Every kid back in 1986 wanted to fly an F-111, and I suspect the sales of aviator sunglasses went through the roof too. Oh, yeah, and Tom Cruise was in the movie, too.

Dirty Dancing
I'm not ashamed to admit that I've watched Dirty Dancing at least 15 times. I knew the lyrics of every song on its soundtrack and I knew some of the dialogue too. (I obviously had a lot of time on my hands back in 1987.) Anyhoo, Dirty Dancing was more than just a mere dance movie; it was about class consciousness and coming of age. And the fact that Patrick Swayze looked hot didn't hurt either....


Waiting to Exhale
One of the most popular female ensemble movies of all time, Waiting to Exhale (1995) had it all: a killer soundtrack, Whitney Houston and a pyromaniac Angela Bassett. Men hated this movie as much as women loved it, and lived in fear of their wives or girlfriends making a bonfire out of their prized possessions just like Bassett's character Bernie did.

It was good to see black women in a movie who weren't drug addicts or prostitutes and I'm sure Waiting to Exhale can be seen as the predecessor to other urban movies about upwardly mobile African American women.

The Matrix
When it burst on to the scene in 1999, The Matrix was more than a movie, it was an experience. Revolutionary special effects, killer style and swagger to the bone, the movie was an assault on the senses. That I had to watch it again to understand what the heck was going on wasn't an issue. I'm glad I took the red pill.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rihanna's gunning for attention

I guess Rihanna's publicists are giving the tabloids something else to focus on apart from her troubles with what's-his-name. Whether that's so or not, it doesn't change the fact that the girl has gone and had the image of a gun tattooed on herself.

According to, Rihanna allegedly flew her tattoo artist Bang Bang to LA to have it done.

Now, she may have had this tattoo before the assault, to further boost her 'bad girl' image. But if it was done afterwards, well, it invites certain questions:

Is she tired of being seen as a victim and wants to be seen as a 'bad girl' again?

Is she trying to send a message to Chris Brown?

Does Chris have a matching gun tattoo as well?

Did she really spend good money to fly in a tattoo artist to design that tacky looking thing?

Sigh. What do I know. I guess if I was 21, had tons of cash and no close parental guidance I would do some crazy stuff too. Just don't shave your head bald like Britney Spears did, I beg you....


Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 7

By Kal-F

The heavy looking doors of the traffic court did not open until 10:30 am and soon those who had been waiting around the area gravitated to its entrance after a court officer came out with papers in hand and in the now blazing sun started calling out names. I waited in the shade for a few minutes and then just as the officer seemed to be getting to the end of the list walked closer to the back of the gathering of about twenty people.

As I stood there momentarily waiting my turn, a young man in front glanced back at me and then whispered something to another young man which sounded like, "Here comes the judge," and the two of them stepped out of the way, motioning to me to go forward. I approached the court officer and gave him my name which he ticked off the list and then asked,

" Yes , sir, what date can you come back for your trial?"

Glad that he had not mistaken me for a lawyer or a judge I explained to him that I was planning to be out of the island soon and would prefer to get the matter dealt with on that day. He said that the court was too busy to hear my case and that I could set any date I wanted.

With the emotional upheaval I had gone through in the previous weeks awaiting the trial, I did not cherish the thought of prolonging what for me was an ordeal, so I said him, " I don't want to come back. Can I not just plead guilty and pay the fine?"

"Is this your first time in court for a traffic violation?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied.

"And you haven't hit any chickens lately?"

"No," I emphatically replied, smiling at the part-time comedian and wondering how he knew my sordid past.

"Hold on for a few minutes," he said. "I'll see what I can do."

While he walked over to a room which said 'Criminal Court #1' on the entrance, I retook my place out of the sun and continued to wait. Moments later a young woman with a child on her shoulder passed by, heading for the Registrar's Office. She smiled at me and I returned her smile with, "Good morning."

Stopping momentarily, she looked at me as if trying to figure out who I was. The child on her shoulder also smiled at me and waved a cute little hand. Not wanting to explain to anyone again, "No, I am not a lawyer," I was glad when she simply uttered the local greeting, "Alright, ok," and continued on her way into the Registrar's Office.

A few minutes later the court officer reappeared and signalled me to come with him. He led me into Criminal Court# 1 where about twenty people had already gathered and told me to leave my umbrella and briefcase at the back of the room and take a seat at the front. Moments later I heard someone say, "All rise," and the judge, a man similar in age to me with a salt and pepper beard, entered the chamber.

Quickly getting down to business, the prosecutor, who was really the station sergeant, motioned me to take the witness stand and he then explained to the judge that my case was a traffic court matter which because of extenuating circumstances, had to be brought forward. He read the charge to the judge who then turned to me and asked, " How do you plead?"

" Yes, Your Honour, I plead guilty of making a left turn just as the light was turning red." The answer was superfluous but I was trying feverishly to impress on the judge that I was not reckless enough to actually go straight ahead through a red light and that turning left was maybe not quite as irresponsible.

My ploy seemed to have worked because the judge then asked the prosecutor to convince him about the seriousness of what I had done. The prosecutor in turn made a general statement that there seemed to be a growing trend among motorists in Barbados not to take a red light seriously, and then surprisingly added, "I am not suggesting that this is the case with this present defendant, Your Honour."

Those last words warmed my heart and the thought immediately occurred to me that the prosecutor should also be added to the list of potential candidates for some of my future mangoes.

The judge then asked me how fast I was travelling and how far away from the intersection I was when the light was amber.

"I was travelling no more than thirty kilometres per hour and was about ten feet away from the intersection before the light turned red, Your Honour," was my answer.

Expecting him to repeat the lecture I had been given by the arresting officer two years earlier when the officer said that I could have easily stopped without creating any problems, I quickly added, "Your honour, I admit that what I did was a miscalculation and a mistake and I apologise to the court."

He seemed to have appreciated my statement of remorse and said aphoristically, "Alright, where there's common sense , there should be a state of grace. I'll give you a discount partly because I really like your suit."

I tried hard to show a spirit 'restrained from overweening joy' as my favourite Latin poet Horace used to say but I started to like this judge so much that I wanted to go out and buy 'Just for men' hair gel for him and his beard. Pointing to the desk in front of him crowded with books and papers, he said,

"You see the status of my desk here? Well, we can do with some help."

I was not sure exactly what he meant and wondered if he wanted me to stay behind to clean up his desk after the day's session which I willingly would have done.

"Talk to the officers at the back of the room there and they will tell you what to do," he finally said and with that, the prosecutor motioned for me to step down from the witness stand.

At the back of the court two officers were sitting at a table recording court procedure and as I walked back and retrieved my umbrella and briefcase, one of them handed me a piece of paper on which he had written: "two packages of printing paper, one box of black-ink pens."

"What's this? " I asked.

The officer replied, "That's what the court wants from you."

"Seriously?" I asked, not believing my good fortune.

"Yes, the judge has discharged you but wants you to help us out by buying some stationery for the court in the next few weeks."

"Yes, yes, I'll get it right away," I almost shouted and with that I went skipping happily down the court steps to start my shopping for District A Criminal Court # 1.

Within minutes I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders, like I had escaped from Alcatraz, almost as happy as on the day I had retired from teaching. The mid-morning sun was beating down but I was as cool as a cucumber and my only worry in the world at that moment was to decide whether to go shopping at Woolworth's or Cave Shepherd.

This is where the story ends folks. Look out soon again for more adventures of
Kal-F, who's 'home from the cold', a Bajan back home after many years in Canada.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 6

Seldom in my life have I been on Broad Street, the main thoroughfare in Bridgetown, at 8 a.m. I was surprised by the sparseness of population at that time of the day.

However, the people I met along the way were incredibly cordial. Many said, "Good morning, sir." One fruit vendor waved and shouted from the opposite side of the street, "Have a good day, boss."

Buoyed up a little by this spontaneous show of friendliness, a few minutes later I happened to glance at a mirrored door and saw a man in a dark blue suit wearing smart-looking sunglasses with a briefcase in one hand and a folded umbrella in the other, looking strikingly distinguished.

There is a nice looking man, I thought and then shockingly realised that I was seeing myself in the mirror. I looked important, like, in the local parlance, a 'Big Up', and the people I was passing on the street seemed to think so too. The temptation to indulge in a moment of narcissism was oh so strong but my growing nervousness about the task at hand kept my eyes grounded on the sidewalk in front of me.

When I arrived at District 'A' police station and inquired about the location of the traffic court, the Security Guard at the entrance gate, who was stopping everyone in front of me and seeking details of their reason for being there, simply waved me on by pointing to the direction of the court building.

The summons had ordered me to be at court at 9 a.m . It was not yet 8:30 and the doors of the court were still securely shut. Some people were sitting on the benches in the vicinity while others were going into and coming from the nearby Registrar's office.

Looking around me I noticed that almost no one was formally dressed and in the next half hour as I stood there, I began to realise that the only persons who were dressed in suits and ties were lawyers (I recognised a number of them), judges (arriving in expensive-looking cars) and I. Had the summons-deliverer, whose advice it was to dress up, played a practical joke on me? I was beginning to think so and immediately vowed that there would be no mangoes for him.

To relieve the monotony of waiting, I walked slowly back to the entrance of the station compound and stood about ten yards away from the security guard who was still stopping and interrogating those who sought entrance. Moments later a man, seemingly in his fifties, came up to me and inquired if the court was already open.

I said, "I don't think so."

Then he asked, "Is Pilgrim (a well-known defence lawyer) over there yet?"

I said, "I don't know."

He hesitated for a few seconds and then asked, "How busy are you going to be today?"

I replied, "I have no idea how long I'm going to be in court."

He looked a bit disappointed and asked, "You think you might have time to help me out?"

Confused by this question, I asked, "How can I help you out?"

He said, "Well, my lawyer is out of the island and I have to appear in court later this week. Could you help me?"

"I'm not a lawyer," I responded.

" You're not?" His mouth (not a small one) fell open at the thought. "Well, you look like a lawyer."

"Sorry, but I am not," I said with a smile but unsure whether I should have been flattered or embarrassed.

He turned away with a frustrated look which seemed to ask, " Well, what are you doing here dressed up like a lawyer and fooling people like me?" He left grumbling to himself and I was sure that I overheard the words " fraud" and "trickster" as the distance between him and me quickly got greater.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rihanna takes refuge in real estate

It appears as though Rihanna isn't only moving on from Chris Brown, she's moving out to new digs as well. Cameras caught the Bajan superstar as she and her entourage shopped around in the pricey Sunset View Drive area for a new home.

According to real estate blog The Real Estalker, Rihanna viewed, among other properties, a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom house measuring over 5,000 square feet, with an asking price of $4,495,000, featuring "a blinding and disturbing wet bar slathered in mirrored subway tiles in the living room, an infinity edged pool looking out over the lights of Los Angeles and Cameron Diaz as a neighbour".

Alright then girl, do your thing. Hope we don't see pictures of Chris Brown easing out of the new mansion in the dead of the night....


Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 5

By Kal-F

The sun rose just minutes after six on January 28, 2009. I had been up since four a.m., beating my alarm clock by an hour and a half. Though I had gone to bed late the night before, I didn't sleep very well and had fitful dreams. Earlier in the evening I had laid out my best suit, pressed a shirt and agonized about the best tie to go with it. I was methodically preparing for my court case. In order to stave off the panic that I could no longer deny, I tried to be practical.

Thinking I would kill two birds with one stone, I had made arrangements two days prior with the people at the dealership to get my car tuned up while I was in court and on the eve of the fateful day I also took the time to prepare some notes about what I would say when asked how I pleaded.

It started out: "Guilty as charged, your Honour, but with an explanation, if I am allowed." I wrote an entire page making the case that I was a careful driver, had never had an accident before for which I could be blamed (except for the chicken I had killed twenty years before when it ran across the road in front of my two- stroke Suzuki van which despite my best efforts would not stop in time - "I've never fully gotten over that, Your Honour") and what had happened on that day in January, 2007 was out of character for me; I was truly sorry that it had happened and to the best of my knowledge I had not killed any more chickens since.

Would my 'mea culpa' sound sufficiently pitiable to keep me out of jail or from getting a crippling fine? I wasn't sure. But when the day of reckoning arrived my practicality also told me that since I had no idea of how long I would have to wait before my court case was heard, I needed a healthy breakfast. I decided against toast ( the symbolism made me really nervous) and had pancakes, eggs - sunny side up - and a cup of Red Zinger tea instead. By 6:30 I was dressed and ready to face the music.

Traffic into Bridgetown was luckily still light and I made good time, arriving at the repair shop at 7:15. Richard, the receptionist, had heard my story when I called to arrange the appointment and now he was wishing me luck assuring me that after the car was fixed, the shop could deliver it to the prison if worse came to worst. I thanked him for his consideration and informed him that after my prison term was over, I would be looking for a different repair shop. He thought I was joking. (A future surprise is in store for him.)

Twenty minutes later, I was walking east across Bridgetown to meet my destiny.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 4

By Kal-F

I drove off thinking that maybe the officer had had a change of heart about reporting me and probably would forget the whole incident. In the ensuing weeks and months, I worried about the incident from time to time, wondering whether or not I would receive a summons and how much my fine would be and whether there was a risk of being sent to jail for a few days as an example, since the recently appointed Commissioner Of Police wanted to send a message about indiscipline on the roads.

2007 came to a close but there was no summons. The incident faded from my mind as I had convinced myself that the officer had indeed not bothered to report it.

'What a considerate man!' I later told myself. 'All policemen should be like him. If I see him again I'll ask him if he likes mangoes.'

When 2008 arrived, I had all but put the incident out of my mind. I left and returned to the island several times and then just as the year was Usain Bolting to the finish line, the driver of a car with the inscribed words "Office of the Registrar" pulled into my driveway.

When I identified myself, he handed me a summons stating that I had to appear in traffic court on January 28, 2009 to answer the charge of failing to stop at a red light.

My heart took a big leap, and then several more. I mentioned to the summons -deliverer my surprise at the summons, seeing that the incident in question had taken place almost two years before and that the police officer had suggested that he might let the matter drop, and in reality I was not planning to be in Barbados in January but would most likely be back in Canada at that time.

He looked at me as if my last statement made him suspect that I was an imbecile ("Are you kidding me that you plan to be in Canada at the end of January? Have you ever heard of winter?") and he then patiently explained that if the date was inconvenient, I could go to the court early one morning and try to see if they would deal with the matter.

"Do you have a lawyer?" he then asked.

When I replied "No," he said, "Well, you might want to dress up when you go." And with that he waved goodbye as if saying that he had other imbeciles to deliver summonses to.

Over the next two months I hardly thought of anything else. There were news reports of the police cracking down on motorists: stopping and checking them for faulty parking lights, taking Public Service vehicles off the roads for the smallest infractions. Rumours abounded of people being sent to jail for traffic violations.

In early December I went on a wonderful cruise across the Caribbean and later had a wonderful Christmas but I still could not entirely put the worry out of my mind about my looming court case.

I had no idea want to expect. What would be my punishment? How much would I be fined - 200 dollars, 500, 1000? The summons did not state what the fine would be if I was proven guilty. I also had no way of telling if I would have to pay the imposed fine on the same day of the trial or what manner of payment would be deemed acceptable by the court. There was no phone number on the summons that would allow me to get that information ahead of time.

I started talking to others about the situation. Though sympathetic, none of them lessened my growing panic. My cousin argued that the officer was unethical: "He shouldn't have been hiding behind that wall, and if I had to go to court I would say that to the magistrate. It's the job of a police officer to prevent crime, not just to apprehend criminals. Man, if I were you, I wouldn't care about the weather, I would go back to Canada." His words were encouraging but I noticed that he had inadvertently suggested that I was a criminal.

My sister tried to put me at ease by stating that for sure I wouldn't have to sell my house to raise funds to pay the fine. A good friend's daughter who is currently studying law said that she didn't think I would be sent to jail just for going through a red light and then added, "at least not for a long time."

I thought that I should prepare myself for the case by taking a crash course in traffic law. I searched the Net to find an on-line university where I could become a qualifed lawyer in a month or less. All for naught. The on-line universities wanted tens of thousands of dollars for their short-cut degrees. I got sick shortly after Christmas and therefore did not follow the advice of the summons-deliverer to go to the court earlier and beg for mercy, and then to top it all off, mangoes were out of season.

So in fear and trembling I awaited the arrival of Jan. 28, 2009.

More tomorrow....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 3

By Kal-F

After taking all my particulars the officer walked to the front of the car to note my license plate and then checked the little circular tab on my windshield which showed whether or not I had paid the road tax for the year.

"It looks here like your road tax has not been paid," he said with a satisfied smirk. "Man, it looks like you're in real trouble now," the smirk seemed to say.

I was sure that I had paid the annual road tax so I got out of the car to join him in investigating the anomaly on the windshield. Sure enough, the circular tab showed no record of the tax for that year.

"But I always pay my road tax in March or April. I must have forgotten to put the receipt on the windshield but I am sure that I have it in my knapsack," I said with confidence.

I went back to the car and pulled out my accordion-like case where I kept my documents. I made a search that I am sure must have had all the hallmarks of desperation. The receipt was not there and I immediately realized that just before I had left for Canada, a month earlier, I had placed it in a second case which was probably now in my filing cabinet at home in St. Lucy, twenty one miles away. It also dawned on me that I had left my driver's license and all my registration papers in the second case at home. In my desire to get to the repair shop early that morning I had forgotten to transfer the documents to the accordion case that I normally kept with me.

My head started to hurt, an initial reaction to terrror. Lord, don't let him ask to see my driver's license was my fervent prayer. The prayer seemed to work and all he said was,

"Are you sure you've paid your road tax? Because I am going to check it when I get back to the station."

"Absolutely, officer," I replied. "I pay it faithfully every March or April or whenever," I repeated with a smile meant to convince him that I was trustworthy.

He seemed to accept my word and after making a few more notes on his writing pad indicated that I was free to go.

Before I did, I asked him what would happen next.

There was a momentary pause and then giving me a long look, he said, " Oh, nothing will probably happen."

Those were heartening words to both my ears and I contritely said to him, "I am sorry, officer, I admit it was my fault. I was wrong not to stop at the light."

I was about to do a bit more grovelling which could have gone as far as getting on my knees, even though traffic was now slowing down to take a look, when he said,

"Ok, I hear you," and gestured for me to go.

Part four next week....

Obama's a hit on Leno

Sorry for the late posting, peoples, but my darn internet provider has been driving me nuts all day.

I'm sure by now most of you must have seen President Obama's appearance on Jay Leno last night. For those of you who missed it or want to view it again, you can check below.

I think he did really well, exuding his trademark mixture of warmth and authority. Do your thing then, Mr. President.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama makes history...again

President Obama is no stranger to making history. Tonight he will appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to discuss his economic rescue plan, making him the first sitting US President to ever appear on a late night chat show.

Obama appeared on the Tonight Show during his campaign, but this time around his appearance isn't sitting well with everyone.

I may be wrong but I really don't see anything wrong with his appearance. During his administration he demonstrated that he could think outside the box and his campaign was fought on all media fronts, so why expect any different now?


Home from the Cold - Almost Locked Up in Barbados Pt.2

Almost Locked Up in Barbados Pt. 2
By Kal-F

I brought the car to a stop wondering where in the world that motorcycle cop had materialized from. I had not seen him when I approached the traffic lights and my only conclusion was that he was lying in wait, hiding behind a six foot wall that extended from the nearby Texaco gas station.

My goose was cooked, I had to tell myself and quickly tried to think of what pitiful excuse I was going to give to the officer for my obvious indiscretion. In my side-view mirrror I watched him dismount his motorcycle and walk towards my car. He was young and there was a confident swagger to his gait. This was not going to be good, I thought. My goose could be overdone by the time he was finished with me.

He was by the side of the car now and his first question seemed rhetorical. "Yes, sir, do you know what a red light is for?

The pitiful excuse that came immediately to mind was, "But officer, I thought the light was amber when I turned left." I quickly realized that most likely this would have sounded as ridiculous to him as it sounded to me, so I thought the better of it and remained silent.

He must have seen the look of guilt on my face and started to lecture:

" You had all the time in the world to stop since you weren't going that fast (I was glad that he had noted that and hoped it would count for something) and there was nothing behind you to run into you if you had stopped suddenly." He looked at me as if expecting a defence.

I couldn't think of a good one. Every excuse that came to mind sounded lame:

"Officer, I just came back from Canada and am still suffering from jet lag.

"Officer, all I had to eat this morning was bread and water and wasn't thinking straight.

"Officer, I swear that red light was green when I first saw it."

A voice inside me continued to advise, "The less you say, the less stupid you will sound."

I agreed.

So dumbfounded with guilt, I listened as he ended his little lecture by stating that he was going to report me. He took out a little notebook from his back pocket and started tapping his other pockets for, I assumed, something to write with. He had a lot of pockets and it took him a few moments to find what he was looking for. I tried to ingratiate myself to him by offering the pen sitting in the key tray under the car radio but he declined. He had his own, he said. I wanted to ask him if he had gotten if from Woolworth's or Cave Shepherd but thought the better of it.

Pt. 3 tomorrow....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canadian visitor attacked in Barbados dies

Cheese-on-Bread joins the rest of Barbados in extending condolences to the family of Terry Schwarzfeld, who died today from injuries sustained during an attack at Long Beach a few weeks ago.

You can read the story here.

This is beyond sad. The police have issued a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator of the crime, and we can only hope that someone comes forward soon.


Something new: Home from the Cold

Hey, peoples. I'm introducing a new segment today: the adventures of a family member who has returned to live in Barbados after many years in Canada.

The name of the segment is Home from the Cold, and this particular series is entitled Almost locked up in Barbados. We hope you enjoy it.

Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 1
By Kal-F

Thurs. Jan. 29/08

The city of Bridgetown in Barbados has never been my favourite destination.

Historically, it has been the most bustling spot on the island and though pretty in some areas , it has often filled me with apprehension: the teeming crowds, traffic that always seems to have a serious mission to get somewhere else quickly, the intimidating stores that seem to say , "Stay out unless you've got money and lots of it"; all of this often tends to overwhelm me.

When I was about five or six years old my mother took me into Cave Shepherd, a large department store on Broad Street, in the heart of Bridgetown and left me standing beside a counter for a few minutes while she checked out some nail polish that once made her fingers and toes so fascinating to me that I painted mine as well and consequently got my first lesson from those around me about the how the world views the differences between genders (she was female and I was male, I was told. She could paint her fingers and toes but I shouldn't mine.)

While I stood alone at that counter, a woman with hair pulled back in a tight bun, her fingers painted red and wearing a tight fitting wrinkle- free dress looked at me and said,

" Sign, please."

As there was no other person in my immediate vicinity, I concluded that the request was directed to me, so I said, "I don't have a pencil."

Her response was gales of laughter and when a man who was also wearing wrinkle-free clothes came over carrying a pen in his hand to scribble something on a writing pad, she related to him what I had said and more gales of laughter followed. Soon other people were looking at me and laughing, making me feel I was some kind of freakish wonder. All I could think of was getting out of that store where people were stupid enough to think you could sign something without a pencil. For the rest of my life I never went into Cave Shepherd or indeed anywhere in Bridgetown unless I absolutely had to.

But on January 8, 2007, I had little choice but to go into the city. Much older now, I had recently arrived from Toronto and discovered that while I was away, my aging Hyundai Galaxy had started leaking transmission fluid. Normally when I returned to Barbados from a trip anywhere, I suffered from the effects of jet lag and would often stay in bed for at least a week living on bread and water (mostly water) until I could convince my mind to venture out to a grocery store. But on this day in history I was met with an emergency and had few other options but to take my car to a repair shop on the western outskirts of Bridgetown.

Arriving just after dawn to ensure I was the first customer at the shop (in retrospect a mistake, since the workers insisted I buy them breakfast), my car was fixed by mid-afternoon. Relieved but tired after wondering around the city all morning in a jet-lagged malaise and carefully trying to avoid Cave Shepherd while waiting for the car, I cherished the thought of getting out of the city and heading north to St. Lucy, back to my bread and water.

The effects of jet lag proved to be far more serious than I had realized, however, because five minutes later I found myself in the heart of Bridgetown wondering why the devil I had driven in the direction I was going. A corrective manoeuvre to the left soon found me driving north from Lower Broad Street past Woolworth's where my mother had bought me my first pencil following the Cave Shepherd incident, past Central police station and ever progressing northward. It was 2:45 in the afternoon and traffic was surprisingly light. The traffic lights along the way showed a welcome sheen of green and it seemed that my escape from the city would be easy.

Ten yards from the second traffic lights at the Bank Hall intersection the green suddenly changed to amber but my split second decision was to proceed since I was planning to make a left turn ( driving is on the left on this sun-kissed isle that was once optimistically called Little England) and head westward towards the coast hugging Highway One. My reaction time, however, was slower than what I had anticipated and just as I got to the intersection the light was red. There was no traffic around and I continued into my turn hoping that my accidental violation would go unnoticed.

No such luck.

A hundred yards to the west of where I had made my left turn I heard the 'woop woop' signal of a motorcycle cop beckoning me to pull over.

More tomorrow....


Rihanna 'moving on'

Good sense has apparently descended on Rihanna's camp and she and the lil boy have reportedly cooled things off.

Last weekend the Bajan superstar was photographed Brown-less having a belated birthday dinner with her mentor Jay-Z, his wife Beyonce and Brandy at the Spotted Pig restaurant.

I hope this is the beginning of a real split and not another pr stunt. I guess with every sampoochie and duppy advising her to leave her abuser Rihanna has decided to take a step back. I mean, when Oprah can dedicate a whole show to domestic violence because of you, well, the least you can do is listen...


Friday, March 13, 2009

Al Gilkes like he ignorant

I have the utmost respect for journalist, promoter and public relations practitioner Al Gilkes, but his recent suggestion that the ruins at Farley Hill National Park be knocked down so more fete-goers can be accommodated is so ludicrous that I don't know where to begin.

Gilkes obviously had on his promoter's hat that day and was probably blinded by the dollar bills in his sights at the thought of being able to cram a few thousand more patrons into Farley Hill for some fete or other.

Look, as far as I'm concerned promoters had no right being allowed to keep fetes at Farley Hill. The park is a serene, cool haven for people to enjoy with family and friends, not for sweaty, gyrating masses of music fans to ruin with their litter and disrespect for the environment.

Sure, the ruins might be a bit unstable, but Government needs to sure up the building, not tear it down. Farley Hill would be nothing without those ruins, trust me.

Let Al Gilkes and the other money hungry promoters go hold their fetes at King George v Park or some other open ground if they're worried about something falling on them.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tribute to Jackie Opel

Sunday, March 8 marked the 39th anniversary of the death of one of the music legends of Barbados, Dalton Sinclair "Jackie Opel" Bishop.

Even though Jackie Opel died two years before I was born, I grew up listening to his music and was in awe of his stirring lyrics and powerful vocal range. Here was a man who could hold his own with any of the Motown greats, who the legendary Bob Marley credited as the source of his own interest in music, and who was backed by Bob and the Wailers and Peter Tosh on one of his tracks, Mill Man .

Cry Me A River, Eternal Love and Every Word I Say Is True are only a few of the hits that I still enjoy to this day, and it saddens me that such a gifted man is nothing more than a footnote in the history of music in Barbados.

Where is the Jackie Opel museum, the biography of his life, the full length documentary (kudos to CBC TV for their recent half hour tribute), or the movie on his life? Sure, he's credited as being the creator of spouge, but let's be real; despite the claims to the contrary, spouge is dead in Barbados. I guess what they say about a prophet in his own land is true.

Jackie Opel died tragically at the age of 32 in a car accident in Bay Street. His shocking and untimely passing deprived the world of a talent that will live on in the hearts of many, and I'm grateful that he will be forever immortalised through his music.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama to attend Fifth Summit of the Americas

I'm pretty excited that my favourite President and his First Lady will be in the region to the attend the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad next month. And not only is he attending, but heading a 1,000 member delegation and arriving in 25 planes. Where is Manning going to put all these people?

Even though I know that planning that event and the security surrounding President Obama would be a major headache, I'm still jealous that the summit isn't here in Bimshire instead. I can still remember working with the Clinton visit back in 1997 and to this day my colleagues and I share war stories about that visit and other visits by Heads of State.

But back to next month's summit; I can't wait to see the interaction between Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had no love for former US President George W. Bush. This should be an interesting one indeed....

Monday, March 09, 2009

Six reasons why Rihanna would marry Chris Brown

Something stinks to high heaven about the rumours circulating about Rihanna and that lil boy Chris Brown.

All last week the net was inundated with stories of her being back with Brown, married to Brown, pregnant for Brown, beating up Brown first and to be honest I'm over trying to figure out the truth from the lies.

I think the biggest problem with this drama is that both Rihanna and Chris Brown's publicists are spinning out of control. A lot of bs is being slung and I fear it's all for 'operation save Chris Brown's career' and not for Rihanna's benefit. As far as I'm concerned, the whole make up/marriage thing is a publicity stunt and I ain't believing a word until I hear it from Rihanna's own lips.

I mean, really, why would Rihanna commit the rest of her life to a person who assaulted and threatened to kill her? I tried to think of some reasons why:

1) She wanted to see Chris Brown in a suit. Granted, it's the most mature I've seen him look, since he often looks as though he's dressed by a group of deranged Sesame Street muppets. That suit would look real nice with a pair of handcuffs though....

2. She's really pregnant. Well, time will tell soon enough 'cause as we Bajans say, you can hide and buy land, but you can't hide and work it.

3) All her friends are doing it. Beyonce and Jay-Z got married recently, maybe Rihanna wanted to give it a try too.

4) She's passionately, blindly in love with Brown. She would have to be, to think that nothing says love like a smack in the face.

5) She's getting bad advice. Already proven.

6) She's mad as *ss. Rihanna has exhibited some questionable behaviour in the past, but unless all the good sense got knocked outa her head in her recent altercation, I would like to believe she's still sane.

But, what do I know? The chile's own father doesn't know what's going on. All I know is that if she marries or for that matter reconciles with Brown, she's going to squander a lot of goodwill being sent her way.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A question of confidence

Hey, peoples! Sorry for neglecting you the past couple of days but I was a bit under the weather and extra busy to boot.

Anyhoo, yesterday the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) brought a no confidence motion against PM David Thompson in the House of Assembly over his handling of the CLICO issue. I'm not sure if many people paid the whole matter much attention, 'cause cricket was on.

Although I recognise that she was exercising her right as Opposition Leader, I'm not sure what Mia Mottley hoped to prove. The ruling Dempocratic Labour Party (DLP) has only been in office for roughly 14 months, too early for the electorate to think about ousting them. All she did really was tee off folks who were looking forward to watching the West Indies play England, especially a friend of mine who supports the West Indies but is really watching the match to see Kevin Pietersen.

But I digress. After watching a good bit of the day's debate here are a few observations:

1) Mia Mottley must have a wardrobe full of red outfits. I know red is the BLP's colour, but I swear Mottley hasn't worn any other colour since elections in 2008. Let it go, Mia. The campaign is over.

2) Former PM Owen Arthur has aged a bit in the last year. I don't know if it was the drizzly video feed from Parliament, but I swear that Arthur looks more stressed out now that when he was Prime Minister. Makes you wonder....

3) Dr. William Duguid has really gained his voice in Opposition. The former backbencher hardly said a word when the BLP was in power, but now he never fails to be attack someone about something or other.

4) Hamilton Lashley missed his calling as a Pastor. In what was perhaps his best (and certainly most coherent) contribution in Parliament, Hammie La literally quoted scripture and verse about his treatment at the hands of the BLP. Cuhdear.

5) I don't know if I heard correctly, but former Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke said that even though he was Minister he didn't know too much about the awarding of the contract to expand the highway. Oh okay, that explains everything.

6) Poor Ronald Toppin. I swear that man has an ability to put himself in hot water like no other Parliamentarian. He was forced to back down over a statement he made about AG Freundel Stuart, but not before digging a big hole for himself. Remember, Tops, silence worked well for you in the past.

A lot of other things were said, but unlike the Ministers I don't have privilege to speak about them so I'll leave it there. All I'll add is that the debate wasn't so much about Thompson but who he keeps as friends....


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Damn that Tina Turner!

Singing legend Tina Turner is currently on tour after a long absence away from the spotlight, and she's giving the world a whole new idea of what 69 looks like.

Them is some genes is all I can say....