Monday, February 16, 2009

Corner Bar

Friday night I went to see some calypsonians "Under The Trees" in the Normandy Hotel. It was a tribute to Kitchener, one of the most famous calypsonians, who died a few years ago. The following day, Saturday, I went to Corner Bar.

Corner Bar is a sophisticated bar on the corner of Gatacre Street and Ariapita Avenue in Trinidad. Che had a launch lime (party) for his band Lilibud Jouvert there on Saturday. It was loads of fun meeting some local Trinidadians in the art scene, as well as some foreigners visiting for the season and for work.

Christopher Leacock is the owner, with another Chris who I didn't meet. Indeed, he is the only person who I've spoken to about my plans to do an exhibition who has responded immediately with enthusiasm and followed up almost right away to start discussions. I like this. The Trinidadian way is to get started on an idea sometime, but I like to work on leads right away. I think living in North America does that to you too. You're not so slow to respond to opportunities. Anyway, hopefully we'll meet today and discuss.

Soon after arriving at Corner Bar I started looking around at the space with an eye for an exhibition. There is not that much wall space as the doors/walls, that lead out onto the sidewalk pull back to make the bar almost al fresco. I think this is a big part of its charm and wouldn't change this. The music, like I like, is a mix of reggae, dub, calypso, electronic and popular hits; exactly my idea for music during an opening night event for my exhibition. We'll see how things go.

Melanie, the writer was there. So was Che's dad, Earl Lovelace. I went over to him to introduce myself. Wyatt Gallery, the photographer who I know from NYC was there as well, with some Columbians he met on the flight back from Panama the previous day.

Earlier in the day I had laid by the pool at the Hilton and tried to darken up a bit. I don't want to play mas with a pale complexion for fear of burning in the now unfamiliar hot sun. Yesterday, Sunday, I went to Maqueripe and tho stunning and filled with wildlife in the bay (fish beating up the water, pelicans catching them, and little fish in schools all around in the shallow waters) there was construction being done to "improve" the beach facilities. There is much suspicion among the locals about this project. I have to join in their sceptiscm as in fact the billboard near the entrance to the beach, looks nothing like the construction being done, nor the "artist's rendition" of the beach that appeared as a full page ad in a local newspaper on the same day.

The ruling PNM party is blamed for massive corruption though people can't seem to find an alternative to them. People suggest a racial divide, with PNM for black people and the UNC for Indians. With Indians supposedly the majority in the country, who knows how the PNM stays in power. I jokingly suggested grooming my nephew Seth (half Indian) to be Prime Minister so he could bridge the divide between Indians and blacks and bring together a true unity party.

Among the social plagues in the country crime is perhaps #1. Everyday I read about a murder or a kidnapping; an average of 2 murders per day since the year began. This is sad. And the government seems to do nothing about it. As a matter of fact everyone sees the problem with crime as a reflection of the government's corruption. I'm reminded of Mexico or Brazil or some African countries. Barbarism gone wild with no holds or checks on society.

Christopher, the owner of Corner Bar that I met Saturday, had this signature at the bottom of his email.
"The bedrock attribute of a successful city district is that a person must feel personally safe and secure on the street among all these strangers. He must not feel automatically menaced by them."

- Jane Jacobs

I like it.

Instead of fixing the root of the problem the government bandages everything, e.g. a proposed wall to be built along the highway to "enhance" the slums of the Beetham Estate i.e. to disguise the eyesore from the global dignitaries (perhaps including Obama) who will visit Trinidad for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April. When the bandage falls off the wound is still there, festering.

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