IT'S a good thing there are other distractions at this time when the West Indies cricketers decide to embarrass themselves in Australia.
At least we have Carnival to take our minds off the pasting in Perth, so we can think about Panorama last Sunday, Kaiso House on Wednesday and Calypso Fiesta today instead of the debacle Down Under.
And while West Indian cricket fans in Barbados, St Lucia, Guyana and everywhere else hang their heads in shame, up in Jamaica, since Wednesday and right up to tomorrow—Super Bowl Sunday—they have also had more pleasant thoughts than any cricketing catastrophe. The Land of Reggae is getting lots of attention thanks to a witty Volkswagen television advertisement to be shown during coverage of the United States' biggest sporting event, with an American, supposedly from Minnesota, speaking in a broad Jamaican accent.
It's a winner and has got an added boost in the build-up to the Super Bowl thanks to some idiots talking about the ad being racist…so everybody wants to see it now.
Well done Jamaica and Jimmy Cliff, who sings the soundtrack, as there's a captive audience looking your way.
You can't pay for that kind of mileage, while down here in the breezy south Caribbean, we are welcoming our visitors and returning nationals, who are ignoring rampant crime, as the countdown is on to Carnival Monday and Tuesday in Trinidad and Tobago.
Due to work, I couldn't make it to the Queen's Park Savannah until after 9 p.m. for Panorama semi-finals, when Phase II had just come off the stage. By then, who wasn't drunk was badly wounded, with people staggering along the track, their faces pulled and most of them drinking water at that hour of the night.
In the North Stand, there was still a guy in flashing green shades and beauties all around, none of them overdressed. And the rhythm section for the Pan Mud Paint Posse was in fine fettle as we waited for the defending champions, Trinidad All Stars, to make their appearance.
I could just imagine what it must have been like in daylight, or just a couple hours before, at what is still looked upon as the unofficial signal, if any is needed, that Carnival is well and truly underway.
Off to the west, there was the new liming section known as the Greens, where they must have been barely able to see the bands on stage, or even hear them…if any of the people in that area even wanted to. So in ten or 20 years, when the steelbands are struggling to find players, the Greens might still be the place to be because those who occupy it didn't really care about the national instrument in the first place.
Right, that's enough pontificating for today.
Back in the North Stand, another Posse was taking down its folding tables which had been covered with boxes of food and all the other paraphernalia that people bring to Panorama, including some form of community-drinking contraption, a "bubbler" with many mouthpieces.
There was even a fellow going down the stairs with a plate of food neatly covered in foil. How it made it through to that hour was a bit of a miracle because in my earlier years in the North Stand the Vic Posse's pelau would have either gone sour or been strewn all over the floor, with the styrotex coolers shattered into so many pieces.
The same floor that another guy was lying down on Sunday night, with a makeshift pillow, his hand under his head and relaxing like he was in his bed at home, with nobody harassing him. If that was one of my friends, someone would have been pouring a drink over him or doing him some other wickedness. But for Panorama Sunday 2013, there was a lot more room to move around at that time and a lot less miserable drunks…or had they all gone to the Greens?
I suppose old age has also caught up with some of us who hardly even make it to the event anymore.
And I must have been sticking out like a pink thumb because, in the middle of the Savannah, while going to the bar at the side of the North Stand, a gentleman asked: "Are you the fella who writes the column in the Express?"
Robert, a Trini who resides in Canada and is home for Carnival, reads the Express online. He's also a cricket fan and I hope he didn't take the Windies collapse too hard.
And one of the reasons I made the effort to get to Panorama semis was to hear Birdsong as, earlier in the day at the office, I was listening to a radio interview with the band's arranger, Andy Narell, the famed American musician who has promoted pan around the world.
During the interview, Narell said he started playing the instrument when he was about eight years old, his father being a youth counsellor in the New York area who used pan to get wayward youngsters to channel their energy into something positive.
Hmmm, I wonder how come we've never done that here--where pan was invented--year-round and throughout the country.
Narell should be commended for his effort and doesn't need a toneless dunce like me to tell him that his arrangement for Birdsong, who didn't make it to the finals, is a nice chipping tune, but too slow for Panorama.
Don't give up, though, Andy.
And on the calypso side, if veteran Mudada doesn't make it to the Big Yard for the National Monarch Finals on Thursday, they would have robbed him blind.
Oh Gawd Oh, Mudada, way to go!