Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The wind-driven rain slaps trees, lawns, and roads breaking the quiet stillness of the neighborhood. As usual, the streets are bare; it's that kind of neighborhood and that kind of night. Occasionally a vehicle rolls through, its tires swishing and hissing on the wet pavement, fracturing the dark peace. Nights like these are a throwback to rain-filled Trini ones when the rain tumbled and fell, poured and drummed, bucket-a-drop, on the galvanize sheeting of the roof. The sweetest nocturnal sound it was and lulled many a Trini child to sleep, safe and sound, wrapped up warm and cozy in a coverlet.

Olive Walke and her La Petite Musicale used to sing a song about coverlets.
Bring back me coverlet, oh
Bring back me coverlet, ay.
It was a song about the classic war between the sexes in which the feminine voices would issue the challenge to "bring back me coverlet," and the masculine ones would retort scoffingly, by turns, "I en have no coverlet" or "which coverlet?". Olive Walke and her musical group fed a generation of Trinis on the rich musical folk heritage of TT.

She paved the way, perhaps, for Best Village competitions in which folks songs like Lillian could be heard and relished. Lillian is the story of a young woman who gets caught up in a relationship with a nowhereian. Dramatically, the song is rich; for though Lillian is silent throughout, yet she is addressed by the singer who invokes the girl's threatening parent as obstacle to Lillian's affair and depicts the nowhereian in a few cutting words.
Lillian, I go tell, I go tell, I go tell y' mama
Lillian, I go tell, I go tell, I go tell y' mama
Lillian, I go tell y' mama
You there with a worthless feller
Lillian, I go tell y' mama
This man he from down in the gutter.
As the song continues, the nowhereian is revealed not only as being unemployed and shiftless ("worthless"), but he is also of the lower class (the gutter) and, to make matters worse, is badly brought up, "this man he en got no behavior." The song closes with the despairing admonition, "Lillian, y' too bad, bad, bad, bad, baaad! baaad!" Essentially, Lillian is the story of the values and prejudices of a people for whom the worth of a person is determined by his place in the social order and his upbringing.

Of course, not all folks songs are in English. TT's history being what it is, some are in Spanish (the Christmas parang), and others are in French patois. In fact, the words of Maman moi are still elusive. However, there are other songs, war songs, stick-fighting song such as J'Ouvert that recounts the resolute despair of a fighter facing a battle at dawn with no one at his back, chanting: "J'ouvert parait yeux pas l'ame la main assuyer." However, more often than not, this line is set within the context of a description of long-time Carnival.
Long time Carnival
Had more excitement and bacchanal (repeat)
Don't doubt me
They had the diab'-diab' and the diab'-molassie
Pierrot grenade and moko-jumbie....
Chanting: "J'ouvert parait yeux pas l'ame la main assuyer."
That was the beat of the bamboo
"J'ouvert parait yeux pas l'ame la main assuyer."
A-ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling and she brac she brac-brac
The bottle and the stone and the tamboo-bamboo
"J'ouvert parait yeux pas l'ame la main assuyer."
This indeed is a fitting context in which to place this line from a stickfight chanson inasmuch as Carnival, in the old days, had not only displays of this martial art with roots in Nigeria and Ghana, but also evoked the slave rebellions that were its genesis.

So, tonight's rain is an avenue to the past, to a history and culture that yet lives on. TT has changed, but the sensibility that produced Lillian and J'Ouvert still survives.

This is cross-posted at CaribPundit.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Just musing

Well, I finally broke down and got a domain name that is as same as the blog. CaribPundit. Note that. CaribPundit is now at http://caribpundit.com.

In spite of that, I'm going to hang out here a while at Blogger.com. Do reviews or something. Heck, do something. By the way, I've got another blog running, Theologica Crucis. I used to have that on the same site as the news blog, but then I decided to separate things. Yeah, I know that that means the blog is a lot less interesting. For a while there, I had news, short fiction, and theological writings all in the same place. No more. I've not put up the short fiction on its own site yet, but eventually, I'll get around to that.

I've got a stack of movies that I'm intending to review. Some are old, some are new. Who cares. I saw Kingdom of Heaven while I was in China and my off the cuff review? Hollywood kissing Islamic terrorist butt. Those cowardly weasels in Hollywood couldn't even get the known historical facts straight. The Crusades were never an offensive war; it was always defensive -- the same as the war we're fighting right now in Iraq. If Hollywood couldn't get past history right, it's no surprise that their view of history in the making is warped.

That's about it for blogging. I never promised that I'd make any lengthy posts.