Wednesday, October 20, 2004

PBS is da BOMB!

Recently I realised that my most satistfying tv viewing has been provided by PBS. Yes PBS!

Well last night I turned on my now favourite channel and was presented with a wonderful treat. Wynton Marsalis , a cutie :) and Ken Burns producer of historical films such as the American Civil War, Baseball and Jazz were on. They were talking about the film Jazz.

Well being able to drool all over Wynton would be good enough but like all PBS programs I have watched I learnt quite a lot. My appreciation for Jazz and Louis Armstrong grew ten fold last night. I never really paid much attention to Jazz, I guess it never really grabbed me. Then I absoultely had no respect for Louis Armstrong. I always thought he was waist-bent-watermelon-smiling-negro. Not even seeing his clip where he totally tore up some song about Dina in Carolina helped.

But Marsalis and Burns used words like genius and transforming and central to describe this man. They spoke of his God given gift and how he was basically the center piece of all Jazz. Yah through their conversation on the film, it was possible to see Charlie Parker beyond the heroin addicted jazz musician...it was possible to give Jazz and jazz muscians a second chance.

I will one day purchase Burn's 19-hour documentary film on Jazz. Until then I will pay more attention when I hear a jazz artist...maybe really listen to Billie and Ella. Thanx for the education and entertainment PBS.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bad Things Happen When Good People Stand by and Do Nothing

As I watched the local news on Friday I came to the conclusion that something is fundamentally wrong with Dominicans as a whole! Why such a dramatic statement? Well I am about to tell you about it.

A news item featured the preparation of the national table tennis team for a regional tournament. The alarming thing to me is that a certain drug dealer, with a well known criminal history especially of introducing young women to the drug underworld here, was interviewed as the Vice President of the Dominica Table Tennis Association.

I had to ask how does that happen in a small society like ours where societal disapproval should be enough to prevent undesirables like this man to officially and publicly gain access to position of importance. How did we get to this, where the local tv station would even do an interview with this man?

We have become very accepting here of low standards of behaviour, low standards generally. We seem to be a ppl who just accept anything. Parents don't complain about the poor offerings at our schools, voters ask nothing of politicians and we buy sub-standard imports but mostly a lot of good people and people who know better do not get invovled.

My generation of professionals in their thirties and forties do next to little community and volunteer work. At least not at the level that it used to be before. I remember the teachers were also the Sunday school teachers and the local/lay preacher would be coach for the cricket team. Now my generation does not get invovled. We don't share our talents beyond the boundaries of our workplace. Our only concern is our family and career.

So there is a void left that the drug dealer type can so easily step into. He well be happy we are not there b/c he has better and unobstructed access to young minds. He can impress them with his financial sponsorship. He will be their role model. We the people who should be involved are just watching, sleep walking as if this has nothing to do with us or our children in the future. Mind you it is us who will ask in the loudest voices, what has become of our peaceful and tranquil society. Well bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Life's Calling: Part II-A Response to Jdid

Right now one of my niece is preparing for her A'levels and I am not convinced she is doing the righ t subjects. She is doing the sciences Physics, Biology and Maths. She thinks her future lies in some sort of engineering. She is adamant it is but she is only 17 and has little clue about what the world has to offer. I think that she is a brilliant writer and that is what she should pursue but she aint listening at all. I hope I am wrong and she is one of those people who just knows.
But I have experienced life and university and our education system here. That is where the pigeon-holing starts. You show a little bit of promise academically and you are forced into the applied sciences. A wider scope, diverse possibilities are just not part of our systems. I guess we can't afford it.

I was so amazed that on my trip to Kenya a few yrs ago that I met two Swiss girls just out of high school travelling Kenya by themselves. And they were already confident globe trotters much more than I. I think that those girls will find something they really enjoy doing in life and wont settle for a field b/c it is expected and/or safe etc. They will also have the confidence to change mid stream if what they are doing does not hit the mark at first. They already know first-hand that there is so much going on in this world.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Life's Calling

It would appear that most people have no clue what they were called to do. I mean what is it that you would pay to get up and go do every morning including Sundays? I don't think most people know what that is and even those who know are not lucky to be doing it.

The irony of all this is that the few people who acutally know what their calling in life is and are lucky enough to actually do it as their life's work are often financially well-off because of it. If they are not stinky rich they just feel they are in the best place anybody can ever be. Their life is rich in all ways if not materially.

Of the people who know defintely what work/occupation would make them happy and totally fulfilled I wonder how many stumble upon it by sheer coincidence? How many just always knew that that was it? Does a liberal arts university education help in that or it is a diverse curriculum even from primary school? Does it have to do more with how broad one's experiences are pre adulthood?


Monday, October 04, 2004

Faceless Black Art

It is striking that most art produced by black artists of black adults, except in photography, do not have detailed facial representations. Look around and you will see what I mean.

It is curious that from wood sculptures to paintings the details of the black face is omitted in general. There may be full lips, sometimes a distinctly African nose but the eyes nearly always are left out. It is unusual to find all the facial features displayed all together, unless distorted, exaggerated.

Most often the artist gives splendid representations of the rest the body and to scale too. For male subjects the detail is tremendous, sinewy muscles everywhere, slim waist of smallest measurements and ample ass to boot. Black women are depicted almost amazon-like but defintely curvaceous, breast, hips and ass always prominent .

Why are there so few real faces? Why is so little attention paid to the face? Black kids in art are not treated the same and so it is not about poor black artist and artisans.

Maybe it is as a result of slavery, that issues surrounding the adult black body became so overpowering that the face is forgotten. Maybe the face has never been the emphasis because we subconsciously believe there is little that is redeeming or appealing about it? Or is it that we have learnt not to look into adult eyes, really examine black faces that have experienced some living? Too much blues in those faces to wade through, too much pain to face (no pun intended) ?

Hmmmmn....... I wonder.......