Dear Brian

You are more than you consume
Much more than you presume
More than others might assume
Beautiful soul
You are more than you expect
Far more than you project
More than others accept and reject
Beautiful Soul
You are more than you could say
More than we could ever claim
More than the games we play

Beautiful Soul, Kobo Town

Dear Brian
Well.  It had to happen some time.  I guess I was hoping that you would just go on batting forever.
That when I was oldish and now coming into my sense of beauty you’d still be there battling for the West Indies, with every stroke bringing us a little closer to something resembling self love.
And I understand why you need to go and I have to respect that decision and wish you all the happiness you deserve.
But that didn’t stop me from crying hot salty tears of regret watching you play your last game last Saturday.
Did you entertain me?  For sure.  You also gave me heart failure, made me cry and laugh and hold my head and make up whole new words to describe those feelings in those moments when you did things with a bat that defied logic.
I will miss you bad bad, Brian.  I anticipate my cricket tabanca will last a long time.  Which is not to say that I don’t hope that someday there might not be some young genius to take your place, to dare even stand in your shadow.
I guess I feel like I grew up with you and every one of your successes was mine, helped me make more sense of me.  And maybe this is a wrong way to see a mere cricketer, but what is life without heroes? What is life without people who challenge us to find that superhuman strength, drag it out of pain and frustration and downpression and turn it into something of such beauty and grace?
Plenty years watching you bat. I remember the first time I saw you make a century. And I remember times in Sabina Park, listening to the yardies change their tune, from Lara Bloodclaat to gwaan tru, my Captain.  And reminiscing with old cricket peongs in Kennington Oval in Babylon-don.   And plenty hours shouting at my television, and plenty shouting on the cycle track.
Ah, Brian, I think you have some clue but perhaps the real story of the love that we, well, some of us, have for you will never really be told.
And if I had to find one word to sum up how you made me feel about myself and about the West Indies and about cricket I would have to say full.
More full than any food or any coconut water on a Sunday evening watching the sun sink behind QRC building.
And I had to wonder then, who are they going to hate now?  Who are they going to demolish and bad talk and criticize in that special way that only West Indians can.   Worse than picong, that kind of nasty self-hating kind of talk that saps your spirit and fills the air with the anger that David Rudder sings so eloquently about.
These past few days I’ve been wondering who they will hate.  Now that you pick up your bat and walk, who will they blame?
Who will they accuse of things that have more to do with the myopic struggles of former colonies.  This loose
And it never made sense to me that they tried to get you to lead a team that doesn’t consider itself a nation.  Just a loose connection of former colonies all caught up in their own little survival struggles.
It’s a funny thing how they wanted you to take responsibility for uniting a fractured region of people where so many qualified and eloquent politicians had failed.
I guess it’s like how in man and woman things it just don’t work out sometimes.  Because no matter how much you love them you know that we can’t grow much further.
And don’t mind how much you miss them, you know in your heart that is only a dog would eat his own vomit and it’s a gentleman like you, Brian, who would walk even before the umpire puts up his finger.  And because I know you know when you’re out I don’t expect that you’ll ever change your mind.  But if you did I would be more than glad to take you back.  To return to the tears and the joy and the laughter and the admiration of a game.  You more than anyone else this new generation of disillusioned West Indians showed us what possibility we have.
What else can I say but thanks.

A Call to Arms

There’s no place I’d rather be
Your beauty is surrounding me
For your tears black orchids bloom
My soul is fed by you
The wanting with birth, then death
It’s back to dirt
Home, to you
Earth, Me’Shell Ndegéocello

I don’t remember exactly when I came to consider myself an unapologetic tree hugger, but somehow it happened.
And I don’t remember how many Earth Days I’ve lived through, willing myself to be more optimistic about world leaders and more understanding of people’s complacency.
I may no longer be an idealistic teenager but, now that I’m almost a real grown up, I still want to believe that change is possible.
Tomorrow is 37th anniversary of World Earth Day and I find myself struggling between impatience and resignation.
Because it pisses me off that police officers take their cool sweet time to get to the scene of a crime against innocent civilians.
But an unarmed activist looking for answers to entirely reasonable questions gets forcibly removed from the EMA.
And people have to be begging the government for water, and Alutrint gets the government’s blessing to use 244 cubic metres of water a day.
And I wonder why we aren’t all in the streets, how people still manage to function, go through the motions of their days.
This Earth Day I’m asking for patience.  I’m asking pissed off deities too spare us a little more time to get off our spreading backsides.
That someday soon we’ll all figure out that we all have a responsibility to dealing with what’s going on in our world.  Whether it’s insisting that our offices put in a recycling bin for paper and plastics.  Or blowing the whistle on companies who dump their waste in vulnerable communities.
It only takes one person sometimes to bring down Babylon.
I’m hoping that tomorrow, Earth Day, we who call ourselves unapologetic tree huggers, naturalists, environmentalists, those of us who champion causes and belong to organizations and like to talk plenty about all the problems commit ourselves to action.
And some of those who call themselves environmental activists will really do something instead of holding tight to their party card or their government subvention.
That somebody who has the information and the authority, will bother to say without fear of reproach, that yes, we can pursue a model of development that won’t kill us and rob future generations of any beauty that still remains.
That somebody might want to suggest that we go organic or ethanol with our sugar industry instead of killing it all together.
That somebody in the government who doesn’t fear Papa Patos, begins to agitate for actual work towards alternative sources of energy.  Maybe we might be able to convert all that manure that passes as political discourse in the Red House, into biodiesel.
Meanwhile, as we sit around, wondering what’s to be done and who’s going to do it, hills burn and mountains are moved and land is cleared and somebody utters another piece of dotish talk about a road through the botanic gardens so that Papa Patos’ secret Diplomatic Centre being built by non-nationals can be accessed.
I want to send a shout out to all the latent activists.  To all the culture jammers and graffiti artists and street thespians and turntable aficionados.  And the sidewalk preachers and the subversive school teachers.  There is more than one way to make a change.  We don’t all have to go up for office.  We don’t all have to start an NGO.
And let me just go a little eco-feminist up in here and say that we really have to stop treating the earth like the crowd in Zen as they watched as Akon dry raped that 14 year old girl.  We have to stop  looking on as the government and companies big and small, fling the earth about, ride it rough in a most violent and degrading way. We have to stop standing by and watching.
And when they walk off and leave her bruised, battered and stunned, we can’t be the fools in the crowd jumping up and saying ray.
We have to stop taking the chain up that this is all we can do. That this is somehow right.  That the earth, like young female sexuality, is ripe for our exploitation.
This  World Earth Day is a call to arms.  I wonder how many soldiers will come forward.

Everyone but T&T

A Union village resident surveys the 800 acres cleared for an industrial estate
You know there’s no place like planet home
Nowhere else I would rather be
It’s the only place I know
Where you can witness tragedy
There’s no time to wonder now
About who is right or wrong
We’re Gonna need some help to get things straight
So come on bring your advice along
Planet Home, Jamiroquai

The temperature hit 36 degrees this week in Trinidad and that managed to not make front page.
Time was when the average temperature in Trinidad never went above 32.
Meanwhile, everybody else in the world is talking about climate change. Today in cities all over the heart of the beast that is the United States of America, regular Americans will be calling for action on climate change. Regular Yanks will be demanding an 80 per cent carbon cut by 2050.
Meanwhile, guilty liberals like New Yorker Colin Beavan are embarking on no impact living projects where they are making an attempt to shrink the environmental impact of human life on the environment.
The latest buzz term for this year in enviro chic circles in Europe and North America is carbon neutral.
The so-called first world is moving on from the century plus of damage they’ve done. They all act very contrite now in retrospect that industrialization and the rise of the corporation in this past century were terribly evil and destructive forces.
And now that the guilty liberals are getting more leverage and all the Hollywood arty farty types are jumping on the green bandwagon, it’s suddenly okay to care about Climate Change.
Not in sweet T&T though. A Guardian editorial earlier this week glibly says that Trinidad should not shelve it’s own industrialization drive just because everybody else is freaking out about global warming. I mean to say, what do melting polar ice caps have to do with us?
I guess by 2020 when it’s about 40 degrees somebody might write an editorial saying that maybe it might be time for us to start thinking about saving what’s left of our environment.
There might still be some of the Northern Range then. Uncle Bas might still be in court and police officers would have been replaced by upright blimps.
Trinidad will be known around the world as the land of smog and plastic bottles.
I guess at that point maybe somebody might remember that back in the late 90’s our government signed all these international declarations like the Kyoto Protocol and the Vienna Convention on Ozone Depletion.
Somebody might even remember that we have a National Environmental Policy of 2005 that says:
“National physical development and planning policies must address, in a realistic and holistic way, the need to stabilize population growth, reduce poverty and promote equal access to all national services. An ecologicial approach to human settlements planning must be implemented in order to make our villages, towns and citie clean,green and efficient. Strategies and plans must be introduced to reserve the most fertile soils for agriculture and to utilize existing agricultural land optimally.”
Take and look around and see if you can find one example of that policy in action.
Anyway, I want to wish the Americans all the best on their call for action, because Jah knows, they’re responsible for a lot of it.
The jokey thing about it is that the newly assembled United States Climate Action Partnership includes businesses like my favourite multi-national, none other than the goodly Alcoa.
Because what’s going on is that the guilty liberals in the First World are still yet to fully reject their consumerist culture. So what’s a corporation like Alcoa to do? If they can’t get away with it in their own backyard, take it to the Third World. This is not just an environmental issue, it’s a labour issue, a poverty issue, a gender issue.
Perhaps Uncle Fidel is right to say that he doesn’t want to talk too much about alternative forms of energy because that’s just creating ways to continue to feed the greed of the North. Ethanol for MTV’s pimped rides and solar power for Al Gore’s heated outdoor swimming pool.
The world’s poor, some of whom exist right outside our doors, are going to be the most affected by Climate Change. Already the billionaires are heading for outer space tourism. Who’s to say the rich minorities aren’t going to make a big stinking mess out of this beautiful blue green marble and then ride out without as much as a backward glance?

Easy to Be Hard

How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

Easy to Be Hard, Hair

I took a lot of deep breaths this week. Thought a lot of strange thoughts and felt a lot of previously unfelt feelings.
It comes with the territory I suppose. Living in urban Trinidad has become a chore that I find at best beautiful and at worst absolutely unbearable.
Police officers can curse at you dry so in the streets. You could dislocate your shoulder fighting to travel home after a hard day’s work.
If you don’t have a sense of humour or a socially acceptable drug habit, you could really lose your cool in this place.
You have to remind yourself to breathe. Breathe in the sunshine along with the stench of corruption disguised as development. Breathe in the last bit of hope you might see dancing in some child’s eyes along with the rotted death-like smell of our unrecycled filth.
Breathe in laughter and light even as you stew in another carbon monoxide traffic jam.
Breathe in all of those contradictions, feel them burn your lungs a bit.
Read the papers. Put on your radio. Hold your breath waiting to see or hear who is dead, who is in more bobol, who is taking who to court, which self-stroking little bureaucrat is indulging in a little self congratulation today.
Breathe out all your anger and frustration and helplessness and try to go on with your day.
Try to be civil. Try not to curse. Try not to run home and pack your bags and head for any port of departure. Try not to lose what’s left of your marbles in a country where there are more out than in the overflowing Mad House.
I took a lot of deep breaths to stop myself from losing it this week. I almost lost the cool head that I’ve developed especially for Trinidad.
Because this week it seemed that we had really reached our lowest possible point of insanity.
And it’s not to say that I didn’t expect that the white elephant would not to do what was expected of it and continue to be useless.
But some part of me hoped against all those things that some kind of sense would be found. It’s like when I was small and watching Jesus Christ Superstar I always hoped that somehow Pontius Pilate wouldn’t decide that starboy Jesus needed to get nailed.
I would create fantasy socialist endings where Jesus in all his long haired glory would set up a kibbutz and live out his days as a teacher, elder, passing on his wise words and the torch of revolution to other cool young Jews like his good self.
And then I grew up and I began to understand that unless you write the script yourself, you can’t change the ending.
And also that Jesus had to die and somebody had to sell him out so that the real revolution could begin.
In a way we have to lose what we value most before we understand how precious it is.
And this week as I tried to not lose it as I watched Dr. Dave Mc Intosh in his star boy role of Judas Iscariot, the one who sold us out for 30 pieces of aluminum, I knew that this was no time to lose faith and skate out faster than Lenny Saith signing another bizarrely useless energy deal.
I guess somebody has to be Judas and somebody has to be sacrificed. I guess we all have our role to play long after this week of trying to keep cool and failing sometimes.
I guess this is time for keeping a cool head and not allowing the folly to overwhelm.
To know that this is only the beginning. That Judas did his do and now we have the opportunity to not beat our breasts in regret but change the end of the story.