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What do you mean ‘everybody?’

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Now for my annual Carnival rant—early o’clock, before the madness really starts. I had thought about writing this column in the form of a tasteless, artless, nonsensical soca to make the point, but Massive Gosein beat me to it and, no doubt, the usual suspects employing other genres are at it again. We simply can’t win, can we?

The thing is “they” have started up again with this “Greatest Show” nonsense. I even read it in the lead of one newspaper article and the broadcasters use the term all the time.

I have had cause before to remind us that long before we actually found out, sensible folk had already come to the conclusion that other people can wine, drink and behave foolishly in public as much as we can, that declining standards in Carnival music had reduced the genre to almost entirely forgettable fare and that it was also becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish one mas’ band from the next.

On the radio, one “song” flows smoothly into another as with protracted flatulence while people pay too much money to hear what sounds like the same tune played over and over again at earache levels—and much to the annoyance of uninspired people living nearby.

Also, what the hell is “VVIP”? I remember walking into a patty shop in Kingston, Jamaica once and there was a low platform with three or four tables and accompanying chairs. The area was surrounded by a single length of rope about the size they use to lasso cowboys in the movies.

I learnt that for a slightly higher price (the equivalent of about TT$1) one could have sat in this “VIP” area. Same patty. Same Ting. No lie. I have never been a VIP or VVIP or VVVIP in any of the fetes (where the same song can be heard all night), but I would imagine the situation would be approximately the same—same trash music, same rum. Just that thin rope between us and dem—like in the good, old days. There must be other ways to address self-esteem issues.

Then, don’t come to me with this “everybody does it” nonsense. “Everybody” does not do “it,” as in—pay lots of money to hear the same song all night, try to get one’s money’s worth in food and liquor in the VVIP section, know all the soca “songs,” play mas’ in a band, wine on a bumsee, go to the calypso tents, play J’Ouvert or go to Maracas Bay to “cool down” after Monday Mas.’

You ever realised that it is this “everybody” stupidness that has us in this calamitous state today? Who is this “everybody?”

It is this very “everybodiness” that leads the concerted campaign to legislate taste by way of coercive broadcasting content. It is this “everybodiness” that puts Xmas trees in public buildings and opens state functions with Christian prayers.

Because “everybody” routinely breaks the 80 kph speed limit, we change it to 100 kph. Then we will probably do this until “everybody” has a car that can get up to 500 kph.

A dear journalistic friend of mine once declared that “everybody” did their hair at a certain beauty salon in Barrackpore. Then the guffaws from those who knew it had to be the lady in Maraval.

In the end, what people mean is “everybody” who matters to them. Now, translate this into politics and public policy. This is where things start getting dangerous. Where, within the framework of policy on gratuitous state expenditure, stands Carnival music, for example? And why?

True, democracy is about “most of us” and not “everybody.” But who is this “most of us?” The European Fascists had a way of commingling the two categories.

By the way, note I have not touched the steelpan—separate and distinct from Pan Trinbago and Panorama. That is something different. We have a brief season to explore this. We go talk.


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