Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali


Friday, February 15, 2008  


But with all those other things to be anxious or angry about, all the ills and inequalities of our society, is it really worth getting upset about losing the Boissiere House? I think it is. Because this is a line in the sand, a test of how mercenary and philistine we really have become. Contemporary Trinidad seems hell-bent on destroying everything we have that is beautiful and authentic, usually in the name of the dollar. We knock down gorgeous old buildings, erase their history and stories and memories, and build air-conditioned Miami-boxes. We pave our green open spaces. We drown true mas in floods of sequinned bikinis imported from China. The works of art in our National Museum are literally crumbling from neglect (when last did you go and look at them?). Most of our musicians can't get airplay (when last did you hear jointpop on the radio?). At some point will we say, enough is enough?

Could this be that point?

-- From my friend and colleague Nicholas Laughlin's missive on Boissiere House, the late-Victorian style "gingerbread house" at 12 Queen's Park West in Port of Spain. Boissiere House, over 100 years old, is one of our architectural treasures and in imminent danger of being torn down. If you'd like to help save Boissiere House and help protect our built heritage, do visit the Save Boissiere House website and sign the petition.

posted by Jonathan | 11:35 AM 11 comments


Wednesday, February 13, 2008  

"And yet it moves."

posted by Jonathan | 3:41 PM 0 comments


Thursday, January 17, 2008  

She said, "You're pretty good with words
But words won't save your life"
And they didn't
So he died

-- The Hold Steady, "Stuck Between Stations"

posted by Jonathan | 11:53 AM 1 comments


Tuesday, January 01, 2008  

posted by Jonathan | 11:20 AM 1 comments


Thursday, October 25, 2007  

And the prize for best T&T newspaper website goes to...

The Newsday. I've just been having a tootle (yes, I said tootle) around the Express, Guardian and Newday sites. In terms of navigability and aesthetics, Newsday comes out tops. The Jamette of St. Vincent Street (and the guardian of our democracy) comes in second. Express gets the wooden spoon. (Really, Express, is that a website or an HTML junkyard?)

The Newsday's site is neat and clean, with the subsections easy to see and navigate. And they've got a nice feature with a gallery of the day's top news, lifestyle and sport photographs. So well done Newsday.

As for the prize for the best site in terms of content... I'll have to get back to you on that.

posted by Jonathan | 2:51 PM 2 comments
 

Two letter writers take up the same theme in today's Newsday. With the election bearing down on us, they both demand the same thing: a national debate between the leaders of the three main political parties.

It would be, as one of the writers points out, the first time such a thing occurred in T&T's political history. The three party leaders--yes, the UNC-A has two leaders, but we all know which of them is the better public speaker (ie not Jack)--the three leaders, on a platform, fielding specific questions about the real issues affecting the nation. Questions such as:

-- What do you think of the $10 minimum wage? Is it too high, or too low? Should we have a minimum wage at all?

-- Are you for or against the death penalty?

-- Should the descendents of slave owners be made to pay reparations to the descendents of slaves?

-- Isn't it discriminatory to have equal opportunities legislation that denies the rights of gays? And isn't it time to repeal all anti-gay legislation?

-- What with the number of women who die or are put at serious risk from so-called backstreet abortions every year, shouldn't there be abortion law reform?

-- What is your view on the separation of religion and the state? Should the state continue to fund parochial schools/Should state-funded schools be religious?

Just imagine what would happen if our political leaders were forced to answer questions like these, in front of the entire nation. Imagine what that could mean for our politics.

But how will it happen? The politicians certainly aren't going to agree to it. We have to demand it. And the media have to do so on our behalf. As Ishmael Samad says in his letter, the ball is in their court.

posted by Jonathan | 1:32 PM 0 comments
 

For a moment I imagined this constitutional foolishness becoming real, a grinning but concerned father monarch plastered everywhere, the politics of the absurd and violent magical reality, collateral damage, moral police, high food prices and inflation, ballroom dancing, enforced Christian learning in schools, "government" authorised Benny Hinn crusades, a museum to Eric Williams in the middle of the Savannah, two smelters, environmental degradation, mercantile monopolisation, gang warfare, miles upon miles of traffic; intellectual and artistic life crushed as the supremo deems artists and university professors as subversive, outsider, and illegal.

A Christian State is declared with mass rallies, plenty singing and the live telecast exorcisms of demoniacal forces, anyone who is not a Christian is forced to wear a "heretic badge" and new laws of exclusion are passed to restrict the freedom of the press. Political dissenters are forced to work in government-run farms, a new Ministry of Social Order, headed by a congregation of appointed pastors is formed, with Inquisition like powers to hunt down the undesirable. Prohibition is introduced, and everyone gets a free TV from the government, the crime rate is magically and drastically reduced.

-- With less than two weeks to go to the general election, a black graffito image on a wall in Port of Spain featuring the prime minister, arm oustretched in a Nazi salute, with the slogan "Der Führer of the Nation" stencilled in red underneath, has gotten the artist Eddie Bowen thinking. (From a piece in today's Express, not available online.)

posted by Jonathan | 9:22 AM 0 comments


Friday, July 27, 2007  

Hosay

“Wear something red” was the popular cry
And like the pavements and streets
They were filled with envy
Because by morning light
They were covered with our blood
I tell you not one soul here escaped the frenzy

You know sometimes you're gambling king
And wild is the joker
And sometimes the sight of the moon
Just riles up the lost, the hungry, the mad
These are the troubled times
That we have down in Trinidad

Because under the crescent moon
And above the bloody asphalt
Strange dogs were barking deep in the night
Under the crescent moon
I say the drums were silent
But somehow the rhythm continued, oh what a sight

On the night of the day
It was the night of the day
It was the night that they say
That the martyrs died

Fame, yes we’re famous as hell
Why don’t you know we’re a star
At long last we have made it
Star, like that star in the moon
Shining over the tomb
Dance the moon, you can’t ‘fraid it

Come on, dance brother dance
For death is your drummer
Prance sister prance, your future’s at stake
Jump high jump low, but this Hosay will take place

Because under the crescent moon
And above the bloody asphalt
Strange dogs were barking deep in the night
Under the crescent moon
I say the drums were silent
But somehow the rhythm continued
Oh what a sight

On the night of the day
It was the night of the day
It was the night that they say
That the martyrs died

The power and the glory is so close at hand
But the beast he was lurking
For he too sits in the wings
So when we searched for the moon
All we saw were the vultures
But then a chosen people never worry ‘bout these things

So the roll of the tassa
Began to sound like the rhythm of bullets
And the thundering boom bass
Well that was a bomb
In this Moslem time
When the Hosay is number one

Under the crescent moon
And above the bloody asphalt
Brotherman strange dogs were barking deep in the night
Under the crescent moon
I say the drums were silent
But somehow the rhythm continued, oh what a sight

On the night of the day
It was the night of the day
It was the night that they say
That the martyrs died

Not in this house, not in this Garden of Eden
Oh how we danced to the beat of this lovely lie
Until a man opened a door
And showed us our other side
And all our Mecca’d illusions
Walked right on by

Now Trini know what is uzi diplomacy
Now Trini know what is SLR love
In these troubled times
Under the stars above

Under the crescent moon
And above the bloody asphalt
Strange dogs were barking deep in the night
Under the crescent moon
I say the drums were silent
But somehow the drumming continued, oh what a sight

On the night of the day
It was the night of the day
Oh the night when they say
That the magic died

-- David Rudder

posted by Jonathan | 12:49 PM 3 comments


Monday, June 18, 2007  

Everything really does happen in Manhattan....

posted by Jonathan | 5:05 PM 2 comments
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