Savannah lockdown

It was a classic case of me making myself angry.
It was a classic morning when I got up hopeful.  Greeted the dawn.  Thanked the gods that it’s zaboca season.
Walked down the hill, into the heat.  No scene.  Jump in a maxi riding east.  Say a soft Bless! To the rasta man sitting next to me. Radio blasting some inanity.  I’m quite proud of myself actually.  It’s one of the rare mornings I’ve managed to not be sucked into working before 8 a.m.  And I’m actually going to make it to yoga on time.  All is well with the world.  Of course I still wish I could ride a bicycle but everything in time.  After I master a headstand, anything will be possible.
I’m buzzing today.  I look around at the other passengers who look zoned out.
We get to Roxy roundabout.  The traffic slows.  No scene.  Traffic is always there.  I’m still on time for once.
We creep onto St. Clair Avenue.  Inch past the lot where my dream house used to stand.  Now in its place is a big pile of sand that’s been washing away with every shower.  Sun just shining on George V.  I smile as we stop outside the Oval.  Good times in there.
At the traffic light now.  Traffic still slow.  Up ahead I can see cars turning around.   Passengers start to look antsy.  It’s not usually this bad on this route.
Rasta man is checking his time every couple minutes, though the radio announcers titter on incessantly about the time.
A maxi going in the other direction slows down.  Everybody has to turn around, he says.  Savannah on lock down.
A chorus of steups.  At the same time, callers are on the radio.  They are raving about the traffic.  Rasta man shakes his head.  Who knows how much money he will lose for getting to work late.
We inch forward more.  Head up Elizabeth Street.  Back across Hayes.   Not a police officer in sight.  Drivers looking bewildered, angry and helpless.
Nobody knows what the hell is going on.  I hope for the sake of decency that there is some kind of emergency.  A huge secret national emergency that justifies closing down the nerve centre of the city at peak hours on a Tuesday morning.  Something so big that might soothe the anger of employers to their late employees. Something so terrible that small business owners won’t feel so terrible about losing money.
But no.
No, silly me.  I call the traffic branch when I hear that the army has decided that Tuesday morning is the best morning to have a rehearsal for the Independence Day parade.
As if I didn’t have enough a problem with country’s celebrating their independence by showing off their military might.
As if that is anything in the face of economic colonization.
But I digress.
I don’t know why I am surprised.  You see every time I try and get some kind of warm, fuzzy feeling about Trinidad, somebody comes along and does a big crap right on top of it.
I get on the phone.  I call the Traffic Branch.  By this time we’re reversing down Maraval Road.
Cars are zig zagging past us.  Not a police officer in sight.
The Traffic branch is rather pleasant, all things considered.  They say it’s not their fault.  They tell me to call the City office.  So I call the City Office.
I am casually told that the Head of State was the one who made the decision.  Not on a Saturday afternoon.  Or a Sunday morning. No sah.  Tuesday.  Because that’s what Presidents can do.  They can just willy nilly decide to have a rehaearsal.  And send out a bulletin the night before.  And act very surprised at the fact that no, you weren’t glued to your television all night waiting to hear that the Savannah would be on lockdown so that you had to spend an extra hour and a half in traffic, breathing in those lovely greenhouse gases, accruing an extra hour of road rage so that he could practice his wave.  I guess he forgets what it’s like to be a commuter.  When you’re the big boss you forget what it’s like to be the small man.  Oh, they’re all such a long way from the days without outriders and screaming sirens.
Oh, it’s such a wonderful thing to live in a banana republic.  So reassuring that we have leaders that remind us that no matter how independent we think we are, they can do what they hell they want and z’affeh you if you have a problem.
The sad thing is that our leaders have worked out our banana republic mentality to such a level of science they know that we’re too lulled into a false sense of patriotism.  We will shake our heads and quarrel a bit and take our boof when we get to work.
Is no scene, a little extra traffic on a Tuesday morning.  Who vex lorse and who lorse, well they might have to tief. No scene, ras. Like everything else in this independent nation.  No scene at all.

Farewell to CCA

ah cah stop falling
put me out of this town
Someone prop me up before meltdown
Before meltdown
I never Promised you a Clothes Garden, jointpop

The news that CCA7 will soon shut its doors struck me as a lot more significant than the nancy stories being concocted by the our so-called leaders in the face of the Ryder Scott report.
I mean, like duh.
There’s a reason why the rest of the world is getting all hot and sweaty about alternative energy.  And I’d like to believe in my heart of tree-hugging hearts that world leaders are finally heeding the words of what environmentalists and indigenous peoples have been saying for the past fifty or so years of scandalous explosions of industrialization and consumption.  But really it’s about the dollars and they know that the natural resources are running out.   Which is why they’re killing so many people in so many places.  Humans are collateral damage when it comes to
But I digress.   Really I wanted to talk about CCA7.
It’s a loss but it’s not the end.  Meanwhile the underground continues to flourish, in Alice Yard and at Songshine and De Mad Scene.  And hip hop events and dance music and fire spitting poets and graffiti art.
But like oil and gas determine so much of our destiny, how we treat our art stands to determine how another generation will consider us.
But the problem with CCA7 is the problem of Trinidad, in a way.
It never seemed that CCA7 understood who or what it really was.  And maybe it was lack of real funding or maybe it was lack of real vision. Or maybe CCA7 suffered from that same malaise that affects everything else in Trinidad, even the artists.  A gross lack of self-confidence that stops us really from being what we’re supposed to be, whatever that is.  That stops us from daring to say things and daring to do things.
Every time I went to CCA7,  I wondered how an art space survives without engaging the surrounding community.  Not just of artists.
Plenty nights watching films inside of that warehouse and the stench of my own filth filtering into my consciousness
Plenty nights watching art and listening to police cars scream past and helicopter search lights looking and looking.
Plenty nights watching art that reflected what was going on just outside and none of the people there to actually see it.
But I suppose there is community and there is community.
But even the artist community is fragmented, for a place so small.
Artists for all their liberal thinking, are not immune to all the divisions fuelled by race and class and of course huge self-serving artist egos.
And every now and again there are these wank-ish sort of gatherings where lots of people get together and talk about how much they’ve suffered for their art.  Which is neither a good nor a bad thing, except that that’s all that really happens.
And we can all sit around and complain about who validates whom and who has access to the Minister of Culture and which artists have learned to play the teeth skinning, art selling game. Artists who themselves remain paranoid about that space that they fought dirty wars for.
And because there are few if any benevolent and guilty liberals who are willing to pass over their money to a bunch of hippy types to make art then we have a problem.
The only problem with that argument is that the story of our so called folk art is taking nothing and making something.
It makes me wonder what motivated people like Beryl Mc Burnie and she managed to build the Little Carib Theatre.   Without any big grants from foreign.  Or internet access.
It worries me that my generation seems incapable of doing many things that are sustainable.  That have more than a short appeal before fizzling out into nothing.  I guess it’s the time.  Everything is transient and shifting and changing too fast for us to develop attachments or feeling.  Too fast for you to ever feel nostalgic.   Too shallow for it to have a lasting memory.
Who, in fifty years will want to build monuments to what this generation has contributed?  What monuments are we leaving so that somebody will bother to remember us?

Fools in the Temple

Love if you’re there come save me
From all this cold despair
I can hang when you’re around
But I’ll surely die
If you’re not there
Love come quick
Love come in a hurry
There are thieves in the temple tonight

Thieves in the Temple, Prince

The smashed faces of gods I do not worship made my soul feel sore and tired.

And I spent several days trying to come up with the right words to voice a sense of deep regret and disappointment, without admitting to a guilt that is not mine to bear.

And in a way that didn’t have that insincere feel of the government jumping through hoops trying to distance themselves from what had happened.

And there is an eerie calm that has come after the events of last weekend when some angry men thought that the best thing for a fragile and wounded country was to go and destroy a temple.

I just don’t get it. I just don’t understand what gets into a man’s head.

I assume that most women have neither the time nor the passion to engage in such crass stupidity. But these days you can’t be too sure. Without betraying the sisterhood, there are lots of women out there internalising the bigotry of less enlightened men and making all sorts of dotish pronouncements in public.

As if we needed any further proof of what Indian commentators have been saying, that there is a deliberate plan to undermine the Indian community.

I don’t know if I’m actually allowed to acknowledge that, seeing as I belong to the other persecuted group and the common feeling in Trinidad is that we must all hold our respective corners and never recognise that there might actually be other people in our midst that are hurting.

Because of the state of relations between Indians and Africans I feel I should be apologising. Never mind I can’t bear such barbarism. There is guilt for crimes committed by little black boys, and guilt for the obscene dotishness of the PNM and guilt for not knowing how to solve our problems.

And I know that no matter what I write, it will be construed as insincere or racist and some angry person, African or Indian will write me some venomous email. And I guess that’s okay because I have a delete button and enough of a sense of humour to let people hold on to their anger if that is what they feel they should do.

Maybe what we all need to do is acknowledge that we, all of us, whether we like it or not, have some level of inherent racism.

The thing is, we all enjoy the picong until we become the subject.

And our racism is the retarded little brother kept in a cage in the mad house.

Maybe we need to spend more time healing our wounds than bringing attention to their sizes and depths.

Occasionally I mistakenly hope that if I live my life a certain way, if I see Shiva as much as I see Shango, then perhaps, other people will see things that way too.

But when you’re on pure hate, you see neither. You see your own anger and your own powerlessness and your own sense of redressing balance. You spend all your time engaging in the politics of resentment and paranoia.

Like pro-smelter black people saying that anti-smelter activists don’t want black people to strive. Or anti-smelter activists saying that Patos building a smelter to kill Indian people.

Jah knows, I am so bored of it all. I’m bored of dotish black people thinking I’ll agree with them when they bray about not letting the Indian and them come back into power. As if this so-called black government ever do anything for them.

And I’m bored of all the online discussion forums in my inbox going on and on incessantly about which Indian is more right and whether UNC or COP have undermined the Indian vote.

All of these things weighed on my mind as I tried to get my head around the murti massacre.

And I wonder if the gods are as attached to those material manifestations as we are.

I don’t know how much those who have not taken in the history of this place have a sense of ancestral memory. I don’t know how long it will take for us to understand just what went on. Beyond the clothes and beyond the dances, I mean. These are the frills, the surface manifestations of deep and dread stories of resistance and constant struggle.

And every smashed murti is as much of an insult to my ancestors.

And I wish I could find those fools and explain to them that the murtis are not the material things we should be smashing. I wish we would turn our attention away from gods and smash the misguided policies of our leaders. We should busy ourselves with smashing the high walls we’ve built between each other. Burn down all the edifices of our self-contempt instead. And find time to pray to whatever gods we see fit that one day we will wake up and realise that It’s the land and not the buildings that are sacred.