Friday, May 09, 2008

In my thirty-third year

I read maybe eighty books--including The Road to Oxiana and Explosion in a Cathedral and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao--and some I liked better than others. I wrote many thousands of words, of which about thirty-four thousand were printed in various places, and who knows how many appeared online. I wrote about 240 blog posts, here, there, elsewhere. I edited four issues of the CRB and finished working on a new edition of V.S. Naipaul's early family correspondence. I took about four thousand photos. I listened to lots of John Coltrane and Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald and Anita O'Day. I wished jointpop would start playing their old songs again. I drank nearly four hundred cups of coffee (mostly Blue Mountain), and maybe as many glasses of wine; more than a thousand cups of green tea, and five or six caipirinhas. I ate the best pizza I've ever eaten. I spent ten weeks or so abroad and visited five countries; eleven art museums; three cathedrals; one opera house. I slept three nights in a hammock. I climbed Blue Mountain Peak with Brian. I hiked a very brief stretch of the Appalachian Trail. I swam in the Rupununi River and watched the sun set from the brink of Kaieteur. I crossed the Equator for the first time. I spent a sybaritic long weekend in Treasure Beach with Georgia and Annie. I slept on one Chris's sofa in New York and another's in Hanover, NH. I strolled across the Mississippi with Marlon and back again. I got lost in a bioluminescent lagoon with Joanna and Dan. I went back to Karanambo, and they remembered me. I went to the Lethem Rodeo with Alastair and Jonathan. I followed Fitzcarraldo to Manaus. I made seventeen trips by aeroplane, two by train, one by overnight bus. I bought new hiking shoes, a trekking pole, a map of the Amazon Basin; a black velvet blazer and two pairs of black-and-white-striped socks; the wrong kind of cough syrup in Boa Vista; a subscription to Artforum; four (unsigned) Boscoe Holder drawings. I was appointed the 2007 Rex Nettleford Fellow in Cultural Studies. I set up my own website. I used Facebook to check up on various old and hopeless crushes. I found myself at Alice Yard many Friday nights. I played J'Ouvert in a costume made from recycled insulation foil. I joined a reading group. I made my first clafoutis. I tried to save the Boissiere House, and don't yet know if I succeeded. I buried my dog Marlo. I learned to say "I don't speak Portuguese" in Portuguese. I stopped watching TV. I worried, and doubted, and longed. My shortsighted eyes got a little worse. My heart beat thirty-eight million times.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Number 19

It’s World Press Freedom Day today, and I guess some of us would love to boast at the fact that Trinidad and Tobago is the only English speaking Caribbean country to be in the top 20 of the World Press Freedom Index (we’re number 19). Even UK is number 24 and the USA is number 48.

I’ve been thinking about this number 19 status. How we ended up there. Do we really have press freedom or is it just that nobody takes the media seriously enough to think of anything that gets published or broadcast as a threat to their authority or their profit margins?

--Attillah Springer, in her column in today's Trinidad Guardian.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The view from Tihuanacu

Tihuanacu, Bolivia; photo by Cristina Quisbert

"Part of our history written on stone...."

(Via Rising Voices.)
Vive le roi

Us being a monarchy and Mr Manning, the king, explains our situation completely. It doesn't matter whether the plains upon and forests within which the peasants live flood in the wet season and burn in the dry; once they pay their tax -- an X marked in the right box every five years -- they are as dispensable as the cannon-fodder dispatched to the front lines to purchase, with their piled cadavers, sufficient cover for the Big Push.

Neo-monarchy explains all the failures of Trinidad & Tobago a real republic would not tolerate but which we accept as conditions. We can even live with (or die by, according to postal address) our one-a-day murder rate without worry, since all who do not swear loyalty to the king cannot expect his protection; if you don't vote PNM, you can't expect a police service. (For an explanation of the king's failure to protect the PNM's own voters, see "cannon-fodder" supra.) Get a PNM party card and the kingdom is open to you. Prove yourself a hard worker for the ordained cause and, next morning, in your mail, you will find two invitations, one to the next black tie opening featuring the Divine Echoes (established since 2007 by Royal Patent) and another to bid for the contract to supply meals to the Chinese workers dredging Charlotteville Bay, damming the Caroni River or paving the Queen's Park Savannah (according to the whim of Duke Calder Hart).

--B.C. Pires is a badjohn Bagehot in today's Express.