Here’s something worth reading and pondering in the wake of Olympics fever. The author writes from Trinidad.

Olympics Jubilee

August 22, 2008

Show Yuh National Colours!

Show Yuh National Colours!

Well, is one piece o’ party deh a ya’ad! Is like one national bashment. Joy like this has never been seen, not even when Ja first became independent…

Church lady deh pon bus ‘a show di passenger dem how fi dance di Gully Creep, cau’ seh she practice ‘hole a la’s night…

Vendor dem nuh have enuf han’ fi sell off di Jamaica souvenir dem wha’ people neva did want before but a pay big money fi it now…

Man lef from Crossroads a wear black, green an go’l panty pon im head fi sell di drawers dem; im sell off before im couldda reach HWT…

Usain yam a sell like it mek outta go’l…

All k’in’a frock an’ outfit a mek outta flag an’ kerchief…

Customs officer dem nice nice…

Who nuh spray paint demself, spray paint di whole cyar in black, green an go’l…

Nobody nuh wa’a go pon no PJ or Portia bus; only Usain, Veronica, Shelly-Ann an’ Melaine bus a run a town…

Not a piece o’ vexation or cut-yeye in sight…

I await the pictures. Annie? Peter Dean Rickards? Anybody?

What a day!

August 17, 2008

We began our day with the fabulous performance of the women’s trio in Beijing…

Immediately following was the vexation

And now the insult from out of left field…

Since tomorrow is a national holiday – if it nuh declare yet, me a pronounce it right now! – so me nuh really w’a know nutt’n else before Tuesday.

P.S. My sister actually picked up the phone to call me to tell me that Jamaica has the highest number of gold medals per capita. Now, don’t you think that it takes a certain level of creativity, knowledge, interest and lunacy to conjure up such a statistic?

The Bolt and His Ego

August 16, 2008

First there was the chest-thumping. Then, many of us saw it, but here it is in print:

“Bolt was clear of everyone by 50 meters, and with 20 meters to go, he threw his arms wide, looked around and even thumped his hand against his chest. As he sailed across the finish line, his nearest competitors were two strides behind him.

“Usain is spectacular,” Powell said. “He was definitely untouchable tonight. He could have run a lot faster if he ran straight through the line.”

I mean, Usain, come on already. Even before the celebrations are over, I hope someone reminds him that he is still a human being. Obnoxious men are tolerated for only so long, even if they are Jamaican, and no matter how fast they can run.

In light of the many disgruntled comments elicited by this post, and because being pissy is really not dignified or helpful (sorry about that last response…), I thought I’d offer another perspective on the Usain 100m show. Bits of this have been milling around in my head for the last few days. I recall that I immediately labeled the aesthetic – e.g. the gold shoes, dance routine, gangster poses – as one belonging to the “dancehall generation”; I really did just coin that term, didn’t I? I even chuckled to myself (yes, imagine that!) that the one thing that is true of this generation (not in terms of age but in terms of historical actors) of Jamaicans is that they do not ‘behave’ themselves no matter where they go. A certain kind of boldness, tunnel vision, and refusal to play by anybody else’s rules prevails, whether those rules would produce good results or not.

Then, today, after I noted that celebratory performances are part and parcel of contemporary black men’s athletics, my memory decided to serve me better, and I recall that this is not at all new. There was Muhammad Ali’s performative declaration in the 1970s (I’m not good with dates…), complete with outfit, about his ability to “fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee” which made trash talk respectable in boxing, even though I’m sure he was criticized for it.  Then there was the political stance – in the form of the raised fists on the awards platform – taken by African American athletes in 1968 (again, I’m guessing the year) in protest of US racism.  I am sure there are more such examples – certainly a lot in entertainment – which further locates Usain in a decidedly male-authored tradition among Black men of melding sports, politics and cultural performance even as they use their supremely spectacular bodies to challenge various notions of their presumed inferiority.  So there you have what’s going on in my head. No opinion here. Nopes.

Now that I got that off my chest, I might even consider going to search out what the other so-called critics – with whom I have been lumped (yes, I’m insulted…) – have been saying. Not today though.

In today’s issue of the Wall Street Journal, a [conservative] daily financial newspaper published in the US, Colin Channer pens a rather poetic column exploring how/why Jamaicans are so enamoured of running, and the social and symbolic meanings of speed. He managed to create a nice balance of rah-rah patriotism with nuanced critique and appreciation for the complexity of everyday life in Jamdung. Not too often you find such a mix these days, right? I’ll send it to Mr. Boyne as well.

Best of Harbour View

August 4, 2008

The women played, and played well. While everyone’s all ga-ga over who’s going to the Olympics, I’d rather give my support to home-grown talent where it will make a difference. I really want to see a football and cricket team for girls in primary and high school.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.