An emotional Brian MacFarlane bid farewell to his passion yesterday, as he presented his final Carnival band showcase, bowing out spectacularly with Joy—the Finale.
"I hate to go, but it's been nine long years," the veteran masman said yesterday in an impromptu interview at the South Quay, Port of Spain, judging point.
The teary-eyed MacFarlane said regardless of what people may have said, he never made a cent of his Carnival band. "I can't continue losing money like this," he said.
"I only hope the governments of now and the future can understand just how important an art form this is. You see chutney and soca monarchs getting millions of dollars, and yes they deserve it, but the prize for large bands is still $300,000. That cannot sustain us," he said.
MacFarlane suggested a prize more like $3 million to $5 million and other incentives that will trickle down to encourage people to continue the mas tradition and "bring back creativity or we are going to lost it".
"The only way to bring back creativity and culture is to give the right incentives," he said.
He was scathing in his rebuke of the lack of creativity in Carnival now. "What we are is what you see in the mas. Nakedness, skimpiness, beads that go ching-a-ling and say nothing... (We are) becoming shallow and empty and it is reflected in our Carnival," he said.
He dismissed claims that Trinidad and Tobago Carnival was "the greatest show in the world".
"Rubbish. What we have is the greatest street party. But when you see what Rio has, the elaborate costumes, their Carnival reflects their culture," he said.
In an earlier interview at the Queen's Park Savannah, the multiple Band of the Year winner dismissed comparisons of Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival to Brazil's as unfounded.
"Brazil's carnival is far, far superior to ours. We keep saying we are getting closer to Brazil but we aren't, each costume starts at US$2,500 for a costume. Anybody can join a samba school but you have to sign a contract and learn the dances. It's well-done stuff, not the crap you see here," he admonished.
He also bashed the 30-minute time frame for bands to cross the main Savannah stage.
"That is ridiculous. I don't see why any large band should have 30 minutes. I've been saying for years that we should draw lots, some come out on Monday and some on Tuesday. That would mean more mas on the streets and people get to see more, more tourists will come out to the stands. But 30 minutes for a large band to cross is ridiculous," he said.
"I am gone. I don't know who is coming back... anybody who tries (if they continue with this model) they are going to fail... I have tried everything in the book to make it work and I just can't," he said.
Joy—The Finale, was a magnificent sight as it crossed the Queen's Park Savannah stage yesterday.
The band paraded for the judges around 9.15 a.m. and thrilled patrons for close to one hour. In traditional MacFarlane fashion his presentation was not without theatrics.
The masman, who has copped 11 Band of the Year titles (six downtown and five uptown) and who had previously indicated that this year would be his last mas production bid a final farewell by kissing the stage and signing his name in water colours.
MacFarlane said he was very emotional. "I kissed the stage as a symbol of respect and honour for something I loved. It is part of my soul. It's like kissing a lover or family member goodbye and going away for good,"he said.
MacFarlane said he would continue to showcase his mas abroad. "I will take mas abroad ... and I will do some shows here but I can't continue to sustain mas on this level," MacFarlane said.
Meanwhile, the Parade of the Bands in Port of Spain went without obstruction. From as early as 7 a.m., several bands were already assembled at the entrance to the Savannah. By 7.40 a.m. the first band, Simply Cultural mini band, with their presentation Is Chinese Minstrels crossed the stage. They were followed by Just Friends with their Broadway presentation.
Masqueraders, in their splendid of colours, took full advantage of the last day of the reign of the Merry Monarch, bouncing and making their rags whopper to the sounds of reigning international Soca Monarch champs Machel Montano and SuperBlue (Austin Lions) whose songs "Float" and "Fantastic Friday" respectively, were played repeatedly, sending masqueraders into a frenzy.
The bands were ushered on and off the stage in a timely manner with no incidents. By noon, about 13 bands, which included six large bands, had crossed the stage—among them were Harts, Bliss, Tribe and Ronnie and Caro.
By this time the Road March race appeared to be a straight fight—Machel Montano "Float" and SuperBlue (Austin Lyons) "Fantastic Friday" was played almost nonstop, being the song of choice for many bands and music trucks.
While there was a meagre crowd in the Grand and North Stands at the Savannah, outside of the venue, a large turnout of spectators enjoyed the full view of the bands as they moved toward the Savannah judging point.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson and a team of officers made their way across the Savannah stage around 12.30 p.m.
Richardson said he was pleased with the outcome of this year's Carnival so far. "There are no incidents to report. We are pleased to report that this year has been beautiful. We have been to Frederick Street, Piccadilly, Downtown and Woodbrook and there is nothing to report," Richardson said.
MacFarlane's winning presentations:
2012—Sanctification... In Search of
2011—Humanity the Circle of Life
2010—Resurrection: the Mas
2009—Out of Africa: Africa—Her People, Her Glory, Her Tears
2008—Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope
2007—India—The Story of Boyie