Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hymn - Tell of My Love for the Islands

Tell of my love for the islands
Tell it everywhere
Show all your brothers and sisters
Our Father’s loving care
Brothers who are seeking
Living in the night
Sisters who are weeping
Searching for the light
Tell of my love to all people
Live in my love everyday

O my people I demanded
Bring light to all men
Shine before them I commanded
Till I see you again
When I look everyday  at my children
In their flight
They’re alone, they’re in darkness
Who’ll bring them light

O my people I demanded
Justice must be your theme
Are you laughed at are you branded
Was it only a dream?
When I look everyday
At my children’s misery
They’re in prison they seek refuge
Who’ll set them free?

O my people I demanded
Love all men everywhere
You may walk empty handed
But teach all men to care
When I look everyday
At my children in their tears
They’re suffering they’re crying
Who’ll wipe their tears

Words: Clyde Harvey

Music Odette Vercruysse

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Brianna's Vetiver Night Women

What's an exotic?

Nana Buku

Love Bound

I am this lush

Oblispo's Guardians

I wear these to remember

Arroz Moru (Havana ll)

I wear these to forget


All pieces are mixed media: acrylic, watercolour, gold leaf, white charcoal and ink.

Brianna McCarthy's Exhibition Vetiver Night Women showed at Medulla Gallery, POS from May 14 to June 5.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thy Will Be Done

Whether I like it or not I feel as if God is always present, whether within me or in Heaven where seated at his right hand is the Son. Part of this feeling, though, is that God is also watching me. This is not a view of me that is without judgement in my mind, it may be the product of feeling as if one wants to live by God's rules. This can be aspired to even if to inherit the promise of the only gift worth having for many, Eternal Life. I have to say, too, that God may be looking out for me. While on the surface this may seem like the position most would like expressed because it speaks of God's protection, to me it is dangerous in that it prejudges my experiences as consequent of bad decisions and actions and too that there are situations to be ware of, people too.

I am challenged to live outside of consideration of God. There are so many reminders that even when my own faith wanes there is a hand clasped in prayer on every other car window, anointed couples driving home as I do otherwise. There is the praise of Amen as exclaimed by many or the prayer "bless" that is also used by many. It's hard to not feel as if yes, my world is Christian.

That then makes the enemy real in that we know of the tensions between religions that have existed for centuries. While this may be true for the Middle East in the main there is reason for me to be concerned.

It seems that Islamic extremism is more pervasive than we realise. The West has become since 9/11, a new frontier where international terrorism is now squarely on the agendas of many governments. Recent events in Trinidad and Tobago, right here, show that more than any other religious group Muslims are willing to engage in the use of heavy artillery. I will admit that many murders can be committed by Christians in this country the difference would be that they are not done in defence of the religion or in the name of the faith.

Am I as a Christian under threat here? The answer may be more complex for it is only I and God who know the strength of my faith. I say this knowing that I do things that moral beings would think reprehensible. It was Imam Yasin Abu Bakr who said that the scourge of drugs was taking over the country and all other forms of intolerable activities and so the attempted coup of 1990 was born. What if on not a national scale but even through a public calling out of transgressions as is often done here I am made to face a mutiny of vigilante style no longer willing to tolerate my ways? It has happened to me before.

I do not believe the Devil made me, I was made by God. No one can fully understand who I am based on where i came from genetically. That is to say that yes Science may explain procreation and the reproductive process but it would take them a while to understand the unique creations that we all really are. Science will not say that God is inside of me yet this is something me and my friends say to each other all the time. God would not be inside of me if I was not naturally conceived. It is one of the overlooked issues in cloning and the like...connection to Source.

So as a product of God, namely a Child, all that is Jesus' is also mine. I am not without Sin and we know because we know I am not Jesus. I am though allowed to live without fear even if it is dark and I cannot see where I am going. Even if if feels murky and I am cold.

Nothing ever happens before it happens. So ask me what is real? I don't know. What I do know is that  there is at times tangible, palpable, plausible fear caused by those who believe that violence achieves peace.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Arrangements

Art by Ashraph

I would think it unforgivable not to acknowledge the legalising of gay marriage in the United States. So in some senses I feel some duress yet am not sure what I want to say, just that something has to be said. Not a good place to start perhaps but it should be valued for its honesty.

In recognition of Pride 2015 the group I am 1 is hosting a weekend of events at Big Black Box culminating with an HIV Memorial on Sunday 28.

I was at the opening night event which was called Taboo Conversations and was done in collaboration with TedxPortofSpain. It started with the showing of a TedX Talk by a doctor that had treated teens in their gender reassignment. It was interesting in that it again showed me that the world is a many varied place and sometimes it takes some exposure to remind me of that. I would say I was comforted by the presentation in that not only did it show children with the right to self determination, one I sometimes feel yet to attain, but it also showed the humanitarian irony of Science to aid in the evolution if you will of the human experience.

Following the presentation was a discussion on LGBT issues, (I know that it now also includes, Intersex, Queer and Questioning). It took a relay format. The first two speakers and hosts who were in their early 20's and identified as gay opened by posing a series of independent questions to each other. As the second was finished she asked a question and left the stage open for any member of the audience to come and answer it. That person would then ask a question and leave the stage for another person to come and repeat the process.

One of the early questions was from a woman who wanted to answer the question posed if it was necessary for persons to "come out"  - to declare their sexuality. She said she felt compelled to answer because she was bipolar and understood having to "come out" and from that perspective thought that it should be left up to the person to decide but it should not be mandatory for everyone. Sounds like a "bi" answer to me lol.

The question she posed was why gay people got defensive when presented with religious teachings against the lifestyle. She felt as is she was being robbed of her right to dissent from a religious perspective by the plaintive defence of the oppressed minority (my words). I wanted to answer but didn't. I would have asked why those who interpret the Bible that way as opposed to all embracing and premised on love feel they have the moral authority to define God's word?

The word homonormantivity came up. It was in response to a most interesting question in that I have heard few gays ask it. Assuming the young man was gay and my 'gaydar' is the original model so it works well, but, he asked why do gays aspire to marriage. I don't want to misrepresent him but he may have said something about why not imagine a new model as gays to represent the epitome of our love. I agree with him.

The reality will change but for now it remains the same. In heterosexual marriages in the Caribbean it is taught in tertiary level Gender courses that a characteristic of the regions male is a"village ram" syndrome where the man is expected to and excused for being unfaithful. As a Caribbean man is that what I should expect in a marriage or is this what I am allowed? Where is the foundation set to have provided me with the healthy mindset required to uphold the values of marriage inclusive of commitment, loyalty and devotion?

Many marriages in Trinidad and Tobago are informed by the society. They met at church or through a family member or it was actually arranged. What mechanisms are in place to help gays in the Caribbean succeed at this esteemed tradition? These are real questions and I'm not asking them just to be negative. I feel as if the gay agenda was foisted on me and it's now to the point where people are prepared to end friendships over it, I know of what I speak.

It would be great if we could all glibly or otherwise applaud the ruling of SCOTUS but had it not been for the appointments to the bench made by the Democrats it would not have happened. Would it have been a sad day for me? No it would have been just as this is, no more than what happened, simply. I have no control over a decision like this, I never protested for it, I never wore a button or posted a status in favour of it.

The victory belongs to Americans, those who grow up as some do with support, acceptance and love and so are less damaged in some senses than we assume those who grow up in strict religious homophobic societies and countries are.

On the upside as noted by CAISO Green Card weddings have gone pink. When the world sees a bold move like the one made by SCOTUS this week for many people America will remain an attractive and progressive place to live and as well it will continue to set the agenda and the trend for many lives around the world for better or for worse and seemingly till death do us part.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Paul's Streets



Transactions (Bubbles)

"Come nah baby...yuh know ah does handle yuh...doh studie it"

Woman at the Anthurium Door


head bad


Bad Man Nah Fraid Nobody

Yuh eye long?

Only One Love is Unconditional

Paul Kain's Artist's Statement:

"From the Streets...." is a body of work based on the observation and interaction with individuals whom I had the opportunity to become acquainted with while holding an evening shift at a mini mart in St James. The hours spent there were filled with the ritual visits of the local shoppers, vagrants, pipers and limers whom upon their sporadic visits were also accompanied by their colourful elaborated stories from their home life to their sex life, to the tension of political views where everyone has the answer and solution. So of course concluding everyone else wrong, my contribution to these events was always attentive.

Like a well behaved audience pre-scripted to "Ohs" and "awes" at the expected intervals. I was quick to discover that it was not so much that my input was wanted or necessary nor was any advice being sought during these conversations but that I just needed to be attentive and to listen.

Everyone has a story to tell.

From The Streets by Paul Kain ran at the Soft Box Art Gallery April 24 - May 23, 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Food for thought

I have always been argumentative, so you make a point and my brain automatically counters. Im saying though...I feel like we perpetuate fallacies and most importantly to my detriment or that of my dreams.

Must we always reference history even though we know it is skewed? In whose interest is it to hold on to the hurt and pain of slavery? Seems to me it is easy to do as it gives us an enemy we can blame for all that is wrong.

Were there no second class citizens in Africa before the coming of the Europeans? Did contemporary African despots learn this from the Europeans? Isn't man inherently self serving and capable of injustice in the cause of his own survival?

And perhaps even more telling is that referencing the past distracts us from the current paradigm of oppression that the past itself has morphed into.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

#goodread #media #pr

I came to know of the Rubensteins while living in New York in the 90's.I always knew they were power brokers but this article gives a sense of the reach and depth of the family business. Its a good read for any practicing or aspiring journalists and communications specialists. See link here.
NB: Skip page (8) it is repeated in error.

A side of politics

The following was received via email today from the Trinidad and Tobago Bolivarian Solidarity Movement. Posting is not an endorsement of the statement but for an exposition of the tone of relations existing within our sphere as Trinidadians and Tobagonians. The letter is purported to be written by five Catholic priests one of whom is said to be a leading liberation theologian:

His Excellency President Barack Obama 
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 March 12, 2015

 Dear President Obama, We greet you as a brother in Christ Jesus our Lord, with love and respect, in compliance with the mandate that we must love even those who behave as enemies against us. What happened to you, dear brother? What became of that brave and enlightened Obama who in 2008, and throughout his presidential campaign, talked about change, REAL change which people could believe in? You inspired hope among millions, both in the United States and around the world, including us. 

We remember opinion polls registering a dangerously significant number of African Americans not being in favor of your being elected, but not because they didn’t like you or because they didn’t agree with the things you were saying. They loved you too much. They didn’t want you to be murdered by the industrial-military-financial complex which they felt would certainly do so if you had the courage to carry through with your vision and promise to have the United States return to membership in the human community. That is, to stop the U.S. from behaving in a way that could only generate ever greater wars, to the point of wiping out our own human species. 

You personally knew that the United States was the most hated country in the history of the world for its arrogance and diabolical national objective of full spectrum dominance. Contrary to what was the case with leaders such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who were never ever accused of being intelligent, you are clearly an intelligent person.

 Besides that, you showed signs of deeply rooted ethical and moral values and adherence to the principles and values proclaimed by Jesus and, in fact, by all great spiritual leaders of the world regardless of religion. What prompts us, dear brother, to write this letter is your extremely shameful Executive Order of March 9, 2015 declaring a National Emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. It could not fail to remind us of a similar Order issued by Reagan more than three decades ago to grant a free hand in launching his Contra War against Nicaragua in the 1980’s. We say shameful and extremely hypocritical, but also your Executive Order is a flagrant violation of international law by constituting a threat of the use of force against Venezuela and, at the same time, serving as a stimulus to your Venezuelan lackeys to continue in their efforts to destabilize the country. 

You should know, dear brother, that in Latin America there is a growing sense of unity and solidarity in what people in the region consider to be their extended Latinamericanafrocaribbean Fatherland. While fully rejecting your arrogant and interventionist Executive Order, we entreat you to turn to Jesus, brotherhood and solidarity and to reject, once and for all, the demons of greed, war and full spectrum dominance. 

You will continue to be in our prayers for you, your loved ones, your country and our world. God’s amazing grace would not fail you, if only you do not turn your back on Him. Love and blessings, 

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M. Nicaragua Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Brazil Ramsey Clark U.S.A. Leonardo Boff Brazil Bishop Thomas Gumbleton U.S.A Cc. Pope Francis

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Charlie Do?


I suspect for many around the world there was a period just about a couple weeks ago when we were wondering about a guy named Charlie Hebdo and why he did something that would lead to him having such a horrible ending. It was to get worse cause not only would Mr Hebdo have died alone but along with some police officers and others at an editorial meeting for a magazine in France that does something that being called satire. Many of us would not have known you can dedicate a magazine to satire if we even understand what that intellectual brand of political entertainment is and why it matters.

The history between the French and the Muslims is long and rich. It was the Arabs who introduced lavish fabrics and scents to the Europeans, it is an entrenched relationship and one on which little light is spread. This is not just true for the French and the Arabs.

Satire is defined "as the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues." Calypso is pure satire, at times. We have long understood satire here and employed its use. Examples from the recent Carnival season would be Monarch Chucky's The Rose and Heather Mcintosh's Ah Gone.

If in France your are killed for being satirical what are its costs in Trinidad and Tobago? There again lies that oblivion that had me too made a fool when first hearing of the death of or rather at Charlie Hebdo. I am a simple Black man and while that seems pejorative it also ironically not because in some sense it is true and not a judgement. Simplification is my responsibility now given the complication of things in a world where men think therefore they are.

The calypso has long been considered the diet of the ordinary people, historically that is. It came from the people. Like the satirical mag it has also always taken on targets bigger than itself so to speak, in a David and Goliath paragdigm some tellings of its genesis tell of officials supporting chantuelles to sing songs against their enemies, the calypso has long been used by the powerful too then.

Chucky won with The Rose, Devon Seale came second singing My Humble Plea. In a State run competition and with the perception that TUCO and other Carnival stakeholder groups are cap-in-hand and so subservient  I wonder what allowed the chips to fall as they did, my conditioned cynicism doesn't allow me to believe that it is that this government seems at least less sensitive or more tolerant.

Is it that we understand that satire is in some ways homage? Is it that Calypso always plays to a PNM audience anyway so why interfere with its goings ons? Was there an onus on the bards, who are governed by bards, to be true bards? Was Kurt Allen in fact the punished satirist? Was it his lyrics or the arrangement? Was Brian London's melody any more in line with an artform that has gone far (IMHO) on its adherence to tradition?

I dont have the answers. In fact there is a lot I don't know being a simple Black man, I admit, I for a while a couple weeks ago was wondering what Charlie do?

The Artist's Way


Some mornings I wake up and have to call on the Orishas because Jesus and Mary may be busy in Europe and don't have time for me and my worries down in the Islands. That may sound like a silly statement but you see, I still encounter people who tell me Christianity is the White man's religion. People still recount to me how colonisers used religion to decimate the First Peoples and control my African ancestors who came here as slaves. Its an argument I have heard in the US and here too. If I were to take it on I would be without a religion and without hope.

Most mornings I wake up I need to be empowered. After a night of rest I wake up in a generally bad mood most days: overwrought with anxieties about a lack of money, an old vehicle that isn't working well, an ageing mother, a brother who isn't working but has a kid, my feelings of loneliness as everyone else is busy with their own lives....where do I turn?

Some mornings I say The Rosary. It calms me.

This morning I turned to Ella Andall for some inspiration. The local chanteuse has a repertoire of Orisha music available on Youtube. I am no Orisha devotee but I am of African descent, at least that is how I self-indentify. It's a temporary salve though, the African rhythms of her music and the belting voice that rings and sings to the Gods of my ancestors.

Religion by nature, is about devotion though, one must be faithful, one must be a practitioner. Me waking up and calling on various deities goes against what we know religion to be. Then there is God, that single entity to which all things are traced back. To be honest I can't say that I know God. I don't know how to please, how to invoke or what are  His blessings. But for this I don't take all the blame. Maybe it is that I do know God, that I am living right despite how I may feel.

There is so much I want to do, so much I want to say but without a sense of power, a lack of support, without a foundation to stand on, a rock to build on I end up starting over every day from scratch it seems.

I am reminded of Benjai's Phenomenal. There is a line in the song where he says "Soca does give meh meh powers." That resonated with many of us. Its a strong statement that rang true for some months well. Its akin in my mind to Destra's line from Lucy "there's no place I'd rather be than in a fete having a time". It's about being in our element, that is what empowers us. So when I find myself depressed every morning I have to wonder what about my environment, immediate or otherwise, is not encouraging a feeling of well being within me.

I know I am "fearfully and wonderfully made", so says Psalms. Why do I not remember that when I wake up though? Yeah I know its not like I have mouths to feed or backs to clothe but that does not mean I am without problems. I digress but we know that parents are seen as the ones needing support cause raising children not easy especially these days with things so expensive....I hear it all the time. But what about me? Who here speaks for me? You know what I mean? I wake up in a society that do
es not acknowledge who I am. No one even wants to talk about the needs of people like me. I feel alone and that is heightened when I wake up and look around to see that all I have are the Gods they say are not mine.

This morning I wanted to feel like I was sharing something, I wanted to feel a little less alone with some of that which troubles me.