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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

C2K9 Thank you....Journey into 2010

TRIBE's thank you email to their masqueraders:

Thanking you for 2009…….Journeying into 2010
To some, Carnival 2K9 is a distant fond memory of a Rollin’ Road Party. To others, it’s the beginning of a new journey venturing into new and undiscovered lands.

Once again, we would l like to extend our sincere THANK YOU for ‘flocking together’ and bringing our 2009 presentation of “Birds of a Feather” to life on the streets of Port-of-Spain. Without you, our Masqueraders, Sponsors, Service Teams, Volunteers, Committee Members, Family and Friends, we would have never taken flight. We could not have asked for a better 5th anniversary gift than your continued support. It was our pleasure providing you with

The Ultimate Carnival Experience, and hope that our impromptu Las’ Lap was enjoyed by all.
We continue to be an innovative team that appreciates and understands the importance of your feedback, opinions and expectations. TRIBE continues to strive to provide new and exciting ideas and to make every moment, the most memorable.

2010 will be the year of discovery, where we follow a path to find new people, new cultures and new destinations. Our dedicated design team is in full creative mode and have already begun to bring their designs to life, and promises to make the journey well worth it!


Is there creativity in bikini mas?

A masquerader from Brian Mc Farlane’s Africa recently sent me an email disagreeing with one of the reviews that I had posted where the author listed problems that she had with that band for 2009. During our email correspondence this masquerader seemed to intimate that only people who wore “real mas” LOVED mas and that there was no “creativity” in bikini mas. Here is our conversation:

His Response:
I just wanted to respond to the feedback that you got about Macfarlane's presentation Africa for 2009. I disagree with almost everything said. I have been playing with the band since its inception and I had no problems collecting my costume. There was clear communication about how to put it together and as for the impracticalness of his designs...well they are not for Las Vegas showgirls and their male lackeys.

They are meant to be worn by people who love mas and want to preserve our creative culture which is dying unfortunately. The designs are always better than the sketches in my opinion and I think as players we all get excited to inspect the costumes we did not choose. The only thing I can agree with is that there is a great family feel in the band and I see people every year that I am not friends with and we hug and chip happily together and look forward to seeing each other. It is such a great treat that my friend travels from Spain and he is on his third year with the band.

I wish more bands would return to the days of Leung, Garib, Minshall and the like... It would preserve Carnival rather than destroy it with the monotony of replicas of bikini mas in abundance. Sorry to sound frustrated but I love my country and my mas and we all have the right to play where we like - whether it be a bikini or something more elaborate. I look forward to the traditional costumes that the band will be wearing in 2010 though.
My response:
It is interesting that the general thought is only people who appreciate the "art" in mas love mas,. I LOVE all genres of mas, be it the fully clothes, scantily clad and traditional characters as I love the expression that playing mas is interpreted by many. For me there is no one box to tick or one code to adhere to that says Mas should be enjoyed in a particular way, it is all about freedom.

I for one do not see out creativity dying, naturally you are entitled to your opinion on this but I have always seen the ideal of mas being all varieties co existing together. People cannot play only ONE type of mas. That is not growth, it is stagnation and THAT will surely kill the culture.

On that note I think the reinvention of the bikini mas year after year is much more difficult than people give the young designers credit for.
His response:
I think we will agree to disagree re. Your statement 'People cannot play only ONE type of mas. That is not growth, it is stagnation and THAT will surely kill the culture.' I never said one type of mas was what I wanted...I stated that several designers in the past were creative hence my feeling that without a creative lead the art form will assume its new format - beads, bikinis and feathers. I also disagree with your idea that it takes work to design a bikini band.. It is simply changing the colour because it is all 'abstract' as nothing really pertains to the true design concept...eg. I can't remember which band did an Asian theme this year and they simply gave a Japanese style umbrella to its masqueraders in various sections. I laughed when the commentator said they consulted an embassy for accuracy.

I am happy for the bikini band to exist just not dominate as it is now. I think there is no going back as women have decided they want skimpy and men follow. Sadly I think as an example if Tribe, Island People and Harts tried to add to their costumes and make them more elaborate the masqueraders will go elsewhere looking for the almighty bikini.

Macfarlane, Gabriel and the countless others who preserve traditional mas on smaller scales are all we have left and someday they too will be gone - what will we have then?
My response:
Well TRIBE's presentation was more than just the bra and bikini, there was one section with a full skirt option that was worn well by many ladies. Also I have been at the mas camp seeing them make the costumes and it is not easy; lots of little detail, that will be overlooked by those with myopia who lump all bikini bands in the same category. There are some very elaborately decorated costumes in bikini mas and I can tell you that the headpieces, tails and collars that TRIBE did this year as well as materials used in Island People were not simply changing the colour.

We masqueraders can pick up on a recycled costume design so the leaders in that genre do have to come with fresh and innovative designs each year. Unfortunately this is not something that is appreciated by those who do not take the time to study the costumes. I ask you to take a look at TRIBEs costumes this year, headpieces and everything and show me one costume that looks EXACTLY like last year's in a different colour and you can do the same for Island People as well.
His response:
I am really not that interested in looking at their costumes for that long.
My response:
I am sorry you cannot be as interested as many who play bikini mas are interested in Mc Farlane. Anyway for me there will always be room for everyone as I LOVE my carnival!

Now I know that I am obviously biased being someone who is a wholehearted supporter of the bikini, beads and LOTS of feathers (I would say copious but my friend pointed out that I love that word too much). However I honestly do believe that bikini mas DONE RIGHT is creative.

I will agree that there are some bikini bands that slap a generic name on a costume which ends up looking abstract (as was pointed out) and looks nothing like the theme. Similarly, not every band that drapes fabric on their masqueraders can boast creativity as well. Some designers simply use loads of fabric to separate themselves from the bikini mas but how creative is it to keep repeating designs that we were first done by Peter Minshall? Every year someone “reinvents” Tan Tan and Saga Boy!

And I have a big problem with the superior elitist attitude of persons who look down on bikini mas, not even taking the time to acknowledge that there is creativity and that it is not just changing the colour every year. For the ones who examine each and every nuance of the costume, there are differences. There was not one costume in either TRIBE or Island People for 2009 that looked exactly like one from 2008! The headpieces and tails in TRIBE were genius, absolutely gorgeous and when you viewed the band holistically the masqueraders represented the Birds quite well.

There is more I would like to say concerning Mc Farlane and his creativity of turning fabric from Jimmy Aboud into Africa this year; however my issue is not with Mc Farlane or even the domination of bikini mas; I think I summed up all my feelings on that one in my Carnival Castro post last year. Anyway, I pose the question to you; in your opinion is there creativity in “bikini mas”? Or am I the myopic one who is imagining that there is not only creativity but differences as well?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Legacy Mas Goes to Point Fortin Borough Day

This is an annual event for Legacy masqueraders who can take advantage of the opportunity to wear their costume at Point Fortin Borough Day celebrations; take note:


POINT FORTIN BOROUGH DAY!

Saturday May 2nd 2009

Don’t forget to save your costume for Point Fortin Borough Day. It’s Mas in May in Point with Legacy! Package includes free drinks, transport, full security, 40’ music trailer with radio DJs and personalities. There is also a special package for those without a costume.

Call 622-7466 or 362-5959 for more information or tune in to the Legacy Frontline Show with Big Mike on Soca Bashment 91.9FM every Saturday 9pm – 3am for more details and Legacy information.

Spiritual Baptist Shouters' Liberation Day.

Today is a holiday in Trinidad to recognize the abolition of laws that prohibited the activities of the Shouter or Spiritual Baptist faith on March 30, 1951.

To all those who are celebrating, have a blessed day!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obamarama vs Obamarama !

So, for Jouvert 2009 you may have remembered I wrote about a new band called "Obamarama" who hit the streets of Port of Spain successfully for their inaugural year:




Obamarama Jouvert Reveller



Fast forward to last week when one of the persons involved in Obamarama Jouvert pointed out that their band was being aped for Point Fortin Borough Day by persons they did not know or had any working relationship with for Jouvert :



What makes this even more interesting is that the original "Obamarama" Jouvert also has plans of making a showing for Borough Day.

I decided to find out some more information on this other Obamarama band and had the most interesting conversation with the person whose number is listed on the facebook group. My first question was "is this Obamarama the same as the Jouvert band that played in Port of Spain?". I was told "I believe so, yes". I then repeated my question, "so you are saying this is the same Obamarama?", again I was assured it was!

Now, maybe there was another Obamarama Jouvert band apart from the original one (though I cannot recall any with the EXACT name) however this new band that is advertising for Point Fortin Borough day has no affiliation with the one I wrote about (Obamarama Jouvert)!

The persons involved with Obamarama Borough Day ( Jose Ann Price, Jameon Paul and Dane Paul) and not Regan, Cynthia or Tamara.

And to think I thought the Bacchanal was only confined to Carnival Monday and Tuesday! Here is hoping the original Obamarama copyrighted and registered their Band's name!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why? Say it Ain't so!

Why am I hearing about BABY PINK and POWDER BLUE being among materials shopped for along with "twigs with berries on it" ? Say it ain't so!! Visions of Kwan Ying come to mind or Cherry Blossoms! Yuck,no, no,no!!!!



Why is it that workers and suppliers are writing me BEGGING for a certain BIG band to pay them their money after Carnival? One month later and allegedly the band is putting pressure by withholding money since they said that the manufacturers did not finish the backpacks and headpieces on time... the other side of the story is that the band ONLY dropped of materials 10 days before Carnival! Reports are people were in HELL for those 10 days, not Heaven, sleeping in the production house to finish the work with whatever materials were dropped off!! Say it ain't so!! Pay the people their money please, I really do not want to advise these people to forward their letters to the relevant authorities and not to me as I cannot force them to get paid for their work.

Why is Carnivalscene sticking on publishing the rest of TRIBE galleries? Where are the rest of sections? When are they going to be on the website? Are they never going to be published? Say it ain't so!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

2009 Carnival - Bacchanal Wednesday

Greetings peeps, Kermit D. Frog here.

Over the past 10 plus years, Bacchanal Wednesday has evolved from a sweet party in the Oval in downtown Port-of-Spain to the massive fete that it is today and some say that this growth has taken away much of its charm and allure in order to cater to a high volume of attendees. While I understand that the growth of as good a party as Bacchanal Wednesday undoubtedly is cannot be stopped, there comes a point beyond which the original concept is lost and a new paradigm takes over. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, but those of us who remember its early days in the Oval can’t help but yearn just a little bit for those times and some of the conveniences we took for granted. Parking, for example, was much easier back in the day. For that matter, simply getting to the fete was considerably less taxing then than it is today which brings me to where I am now…on my way to Chaguaramas to see what’s what at Bacchanal Wednesday 2009.



In order to avoid the usual drama that ensues when more than 8,000 people try to drive to a party location which has only one road in and out, the crew decided to get there REAL early and get citrus in the car park outside the venue. This would serve two main purposes: firstly, we would not be stuck in traffic for hours and, secondly we would be able to get our drink on with our own stocks rather than paying a small fortune to the bars inside the fete. With this plan in mind, we set out nice and early with ample stocks in the back and made our way to Bowen Marine, the site of Bacchanal Wednesday. After cruising there at a nice pace we arrived without incident around 9:30 pm and parked in a spot adjacent to the main road and only a few hundred yards away from the fete. We broke out the drinks and settled in for a nice gape. Since all traffic passed us on the way into the car park, we were treated to a preview of what we would see later that night and it was all good.

One of the greatest things about Bacchanal Wednesday was the gape. The sheer volume of beautiful women that come to this party staggers the imagination and fortunately, that had not diminished in any way. By now, much of the paved parking where we were was filled and cars were being directed into a vast field. With all the rain that had fallen earlier in the day and week, although the field was not a swamp, most of it was mud yet these beauties, replete in heels and white pants (tight of course) were emerging from the field without so much as a smudge anywhere. Maybe they had some kind of car park levitation skill or something but while you could see some mud on the fellas shoes, the ladies feet were spotless. Naturally we took a drink in their honor and debated how this could be. After an hour or so, one of the crew got hungry so he volunteered to make a KFC run (it was only a ¼ mile away so it was more of a KFC small jog) and upon his return in a half hour or so, we devoured the fowl he brought back.

By this time, the rest of the lime arrived and after another few rounds of drinks we depleted our stocks and decided that we might as well go inside. The stagger down the road didn’t take us too long but the closer we got to the venue, the more disturbing the scene became. There was a line of people wrapping around the fete and disappearing at some entrance way off around a corner and out of sight. MERDE! At least we were all still solidly under the influence so maybe the wait would not seem too long….sigh…we joined the back of the line and trudged slowly forward. After about 10 minutes, some of the other members of the crew decided to check out another entrance we could see in order to try to mamaguy all of us in. Almost immediately they returned saying that the line we were in was in fact the VIP line and the entrance with no one in line was general admission. What de jail is dis? We all moved to the entrance in question and sure enough we passed through security and was ushered in in two two’s. Hmm, I thought, hard luck for those VIP people in the muddy line. We immediately headed straight for the bar, bought our chits (STEUPS), resumed consumption of alcohol, and looked around for the best area to serve as our base of operations for the night.

As I said before, the fete was huge and even though it was not yet midnight the venue was filling quickly. The centerpiece of the fete was the clamshell stage which was set up facing the middle of the field. This stage is truly one of, if not the best on the island so we knew that with the night’s scheduled performers we would be in for a treat not only aurally but visually as well. I decided to make an immediate lap around the fete because when filled, this fete will not be navigated easily especially if I maintain my current level of alcohol consumption. A leisurely circle around the party confirmed what I had been seeing while liming outside: the beauty and sheer quantity of the ladies present in the fete was astounding and I did my best to capture as many of these visions of loveliness as possible. Not long after my return to the lime’s base the live performers started up and quickly had the crowd mesmerized and obsessed with what was taking place onstage.

Three of the heaviest “T’s” you could ever want to see were on stage performing their big tune for 2009, Obsessive Winers. Picture this my peeps, Destra Garcia was up first and she, being the youngest of the T’s, gave a high-energy, low-wining demonstration and then handed the baton off to Allison Hinds who put on display a kind of slow Falumawine. After that, all that was left was for Denise “Tractor License” Belfon to display her considerable gyratory talents after which all three did a synchronized wine that made men’s hearts race and knees wobble. It was during this performance that I realized the limitations of my camera as the zoom was woefully inadequate. The anti-shake was working like a boss (see previous heart and knee comment) but the zoom peeps, the zoom let me down. I needed to capture every detail of their waist motions and I was unable to do them full justice. I made a vow to correct this for next year’s festivities and sealed it with a drink (of course).

After this display, we eagerly awaited Machel Montano’s arrival in the clamshell. I had heard that he was a little off in 2009 and his shows were not as mind blasting as in previous years but I knew this was Bacchanal Wednesday and if there was one show in which he would go all out, this was it. This was the performance that would set the pace for the upcoming carnival weekend and I was sure he would not disappoint. Although it was close to 5:00 am when he finally took the stage, true to form he started off with a bang. A parachuter swirled overhead, powerful lights transformed the stage into a cacophony of color while blasts of fog shot down into the crowd from overhead. WOW! Confetti filled the air and when Machel appeared, he didn’t just take the stage, he took it like it owed him money! He caroused the length and breath of the stage singing, dancing, jumping, wining, and whipping the crowd into such a frenzy that I found myself wondering how long could he keep it up? I mean, even Mr. HD himself has limits. This question was soon answered when after around 30 minutes he started the rave.

OOOOKKKK.

To be clear, I love the song “What is Love” (with accompanying head bob) popularized by the Saturday Night Live sketch but there is a time and place for everything. While I appreciate Machel trying new things and bringing new flavors to his music, it was clear that much of the crowd was unresponsive to the tune. The switch from high energy soca to this caught a lot of folks by surprise, including me. Now I don’t mind the song being used as a transition but after 15 minutes of head-bobbing, I had had enough and decided to leave. It took me another 15 minutes to get to my car and I could still hear “What is love” being played as I drove away. While Machel’s performance was as hot and dynamic as ever to start, the middle bogged down considerably which corroborated what I had been hearing so far this year. I had also heard about his marathon “Antz”closing set and I am not too sorry I missed it.

On the whole, Bacchanal Wednesday was a fine fete. True it was very large and somewhat troublesome to get to (and leave as I heard from my crew that stayed until the end of the fete) but the people that were there were there to party and have a good time and everyone I saw was certainly doing that. The bar was overpriced (as we have come to expect), the chit system archaic but, despite my disappointment with Machel, the entertainment was excellent. The stage was top notch and it definitely contributed in a major way to the prime-time production feel that was prevalent throughout the night.

Enjoy the pics, Break Biche is next……..



Kermit out.

2009 Carnival - A.W.O.L.

Greetings peeps, Kermit D. Frog here and it is now the Tuesday before Carnival and I am on my way to A.W.O.L., (Ah lime WithOut Limits). Now before I go any further, for the benefit of those readers who are not familiar with the term “lime”, I think I should define the concept and its application in Trinidad especially at Carnival time.

Lime

Origin: Trinidadian
meaning:
(verb) hanging out/socializing in an informal relaxing environment, especially with friends, for example at a party, or on the beach.
(noun) an event at which liming takes place, e.g. a party. A gathering of people engaged in activities associated with liming. Often qualified using an adjective e.g. big lime.

The above definition is pretty much self explanatory but the event I was heading to this night needs a bit more explanation. As I said before, the name of the party is A.W.O.L, Ah lime WithOut Limits, as you will see printed on some of the yellow t-shirts worn by some of the beautiful ladies hosting the party. The 2009 carnival events I have attended before this were fetes. The difference between a fete and a lime, to me, is pretty clear. A carnival fete is typically a very large affair with many people, bars, and foods. In a fete, the entertainment is usually varied and will contain several DJ’s, maybe a few live bands with some guest artistes, sometimes even a rhythm section, a steelband, or even a tassa group, while a lime is somewhat less involved. Music and drinks yes, but without much of the supplementary entertainments found at a fete. This however was billed as a lime without limits. What did they mean by “without limits”? Would the boundaries between lime and fete blur or be crossed tonight? Without “lime limits” to guide us would things go too far and create a rip in the social fabric that is so interwoven between all of us in Trinidad during carnival season. What an interesting concept or was I just reading too much into the name? Maybe it was simply a clever acronym and I was full of ta-ta. Whatever the case, I still owed it to you my peeps to go where potentially no lime has gone before and report my findings pictorially and leave it to you to decide if any lime protocols or Generally Accepted Liming Principles (GALP) were broken. (Yuh feel is only party promoters could make up acronyms or wha?)

A.W.O.L. was held poolside at the West Palm Hotel in Chaguaramas (just past Cruise Inn) and was scheduled from 5pm to 11pm. To me, an evening event by a pool really does sound very citrus and does indeed lead one to think lime as opposed to fete so I endeavored to get there fairly close to the stated start time as possible since the traffic heading down toward that side of Port-of-Spain after work can be quite heavy. I arrived at the gate a bit after 6pm and got to park directly in front of the venue which meant that the crowd was light. I know it was early but all signs were still definitely pointing lime-ward. As I entered the hotel grounds and after taking a picture with the “security team” in yellow (who refused to search me no matter how much I assured them it was OK) I passed the food tent (wasn’t ready to eat just yet but ah kill dem later though) and made my way poolside. The sun was now setting and it made for a beautiful backdrop to the scene I beheld.

Arranged around the pool were several different alcohol stations and the main bar. Being a vodka drinker, my eye was immediately caught by the Belvedere bar but as they were still setting up, I paused by the Green Label bar to finish my sno-cone and ponder my next move.

Oh did I forget to mention that I was given a welcome sno-cone once I cleared “security”? I thought it a nicely civilized touch since usually at fetes they try to ply you with liquor as soon as you walk in but this being a lime, albeit a lime without limits, I guess they decided to blaze a new trail. Good for them. I ordered a red and yellow syrup mix with condensed milk (Yes dammit, CONDENSED milk. That is how we do it in Trini, we like it, live with it.) When I got it, I bit into it with gusto and took a deep slurp through the straw. Ahhhh, how refreshing, but wait, this sno-cone tasting kinda strange. I’ve never felt a burning sensation down my throat and in my chest after eating some sno-cone. As I came to find out, the burning sensation was the rum and (I believe) tequila that had been added to the syrup used in the sno-cone. After a second deep sample of the cone, I saw my friend Pixi who is one of the organizers and she informed me that she had the idea to spike the syrup to jump start the lime and besides, since there were no limits here, anything goes. It was an interesting twist on such a simple refreshment and it left me wondering what the rest of the night had in store.

Back to the present, and here I am, getting tight off a sno-cone (I hope that was as bizarre to read as it was for me to type), wondering what to do next when I was approached by 2 Jagermeister girls who challenged me to come take a shot of Jager. Not one for backing down from a challenge involving liquor, I said no problem, where was the shot? They replied that it was on the other side of the pool and I had to take the shot off a huge block of ice. OOOOKKKKK. Since I had already committed, I followed them to their big-ass iceblock and after watching the pourer wash it down twice with some water, I took the shot. It was ice cold and not bad at all. By this time, I was ready for some Belvedere so I made my way to the bar and struck up a conversation with the bartenders. I introduced myself and told them that they would be seeing a lot of me this evening and they replied that they were looking forward to it. Sweet!

By now, the sun had set and the venue was filling up with nicely dressed, well behaved folk who were sipping their cocktails and eating food and doing a sort of chip to the music. I walked around the pool hailing out some of the DC crew that were there and taking pics of the pretty people all chatting and mixing and mingling and really enjoying the night. The sky was clear and you could even see the stars looking back at you. It was a fairly warm night with not much breeze which was a bit unusual considering we were only a few hundred feet from the sea but then again, maybe the alcohol had something to do with the heat. It was a tranquil, relaxed scene and I am not really certain about the exact point at which things deteriorated but I can tell you that it seemed like people went from sipping drinks and chipping, to doing shots and wining HARD!

I know I had been there for a few hours at least and that is more than enough time for folks to get twisted but people were there in hard shoes and heels. Surely they would not be getting on tusty up in de lime? WRONG! Maybe there was an announcement reminding the attendees that there was no limit on de lime but all of a sudden the DJs unleashed a wave of big chunes and the masses responded as only inebriated carnival revelers could. De people an dem wined, they wined, and they wined some more. Even with all this winery going on, it was still a lime; a fairly wild lime, but it was still a lime. It wasn’t even when a fellow decided that he had had enough of de heat and dove into the pool that the lime code was broken. GALP was broken when his pardnah BROUGHT HIM A DRINK AND GAVE IT TO HIM WHILE HE WAS IN DE POOL. I mean to say, he still in he nice jeans and shirt so just because he treading water in de pool doh mean he should be without liquor. I could hardly believe my eyes. It was as though someone blew a whistle and all the sociality left the area and it was on like socks! People wined by themselves, they wined in groups, they wined on the wall, they wined on the bar, they jumped on people and wined. It was quite a spectacle to behold.

After a few hours at this pace, the steelband side started up heralding the end of A.W.O.L. and as we followed them out to our cars we glanced furtively at each other, partners-in-crime because of our participation in the night’s complete disregard for proper lime protocol. We gave each other a nod and a smile which acknowledged our complicity and our resolve to never let it happen again….at least until A.W.O.L. 2010.

Enjoy the pics…..Bacchanal Wednesday...coming soon!

Kermit out.

2009 Carinval - Fatima All-Inclusive

So my peeps, we are back to the action. It is now Valentine’s Day and we are heading to Fatima’s All-Inclusive fete and being a Fatima Old Boy myself, it was a homecoming that was long overdue.

As I entered the school grounds and passed the Arima Boys Rhythm Band, I was welcomed with a glass of champagne and was immediately drawn to the smells emanating from the main hall wherein contained the grand ballroom. MMMMMMM, what I smelled was the Arabic dinner being served within but I didn’t want to commit myself to a heavy meal just yet. It is true that I had arrived 15 minutes after the gates had opened and had at least 6 more hours of feteing to do but I wanted to see what was available before settling down to some solid eating. I continued with the stream of people heading towards the main courtyard and there I discovered the “Event Map” or directory of the fete.

This was a giant chart listing all the food and drink areas within the party and it was exactly what I needed to plan my attack. There was a lot to list and everything was listed here. The foods available ranged from the staples such as Crab and Dumplings, Jerk Chicken, Shark and Bake, Doubles, Fajitas and Ribs to more exotic fare such as Bombay Duck, Peking Duck, Kebabs, Arabic Dinners and even Spit Roasted Suckling Pig and Spit Roasted Buffalypso. Where to begin? I started on the left (after taking a shot of Tequila to wake up the stomach) and ate my way in a clockwise manner around the fete. By the time I reached the Brew house an hour or so later I was nicely filled and ready to get my drink on. Since I am not really a whiskey drinker I ignored the Johnny Green area and headed to one of the main bars to begin my assault on the stocks of Gray Goose.

This was my first time attending the Fatima fete and so far I was very impressed with its organization. Most food lines were very short (less than 10 minutes) and the bar lines were nonexistent. While the different food stations were well spaced out, you never got the sense that the party was too large and scattered. There was a feeling of intimacy about the evening and this was compounded in my case by the several former schoolmates I saw, many of whom I had been out of touch with since I left Form VI in 1988. After catching up with old friends for a while, I noticed that the live entertainment was about to begin so the lime maneuvered closer to the stage to get a better view of the action and by action I mean the original Bajan Heavy-T herself, Allison Hinds!

The seemingly ageless wonder Allison Hinds gave us a rousing performance and despite her many years in the music business, her waist clearly had not slowed in either its intensity or power. As usual, she called for a volunteer from the crowd to come up on stage to test her skills. Some of my crew loudly suggested that I should go since I was big enough and athletic enough to challenge her and they looked like they were going to make noise and point me out to her. So naturally I cuffed them down (verbally of course) as I had witnessed this scene before and it ALWAYS ends up bad for the victim that accepts her challenge. Some poor guy didn’t realize what fate awaited him (or was too drunk to care) and he went up on stage to test her. Ha lawd! He did ok for a while but then she turned around and backed up on him and……well, you have to see his expression in the pics. He didn’t embarrass himself though (must’ve been a Fatima man) so it was all good.

While we waited for the next band to set up, the B-Mobile Girls made their way on stage and there was some sort of phone giveaway or something. The vibe was nice and the food was still plentiful despite being 3 hours or so into the party and we were having a great time. I guess the bar thought that we weren’t drinking enough because there were always lovely ladies bringing drinks for us to try and so as not to be rude, we tried them all. After a while the next band started jamming, the tempo picked up and people started to get a bit wilder in the fete. One of the wonderful things about the Fatima fete is that the attendees varied widely in age and despite that age gap, the senior partiers still kept pace with and sometimes outdid the younger patrons. I could definitely see myself in their shoes in a couple decades. Feteing is the real fountain of youth my peeps and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

After hours of happy partying, the final band came on later in the evening and still the crowd was hyped and energized and they enjoyed the performance to the max. Me, I was hungry; so I made my way to the Jerk Chicken area and stood there for around 30 minutes and ate the rest of the chicken. Yes, you read correctly. I ate the REST of the chicken. It was delicious and hot and I was hungry. Don’t judge me. It took 30 minutes because they served the chicken in small portions on small plates so I would eat my plate, join the line and repeat. There were a few of us doing the same thing so we kind of bonded there in that room with the smell of chicken in the air and the sound of vigorous chewing ringing in our ears. Ahhh the memories…..

Anyway, writing that has made me hungry so I will bring this installment to a close now and forage for some food. Needless to say the Fatima All-Inclusive got full marks from me. This is how a fete is supposed to be run and I hope that my first experience will be duplicated every time I attend.

Enjoy the pics, A.W.O.L is next.

Kermit out.

Carnival 2009 - VOODOO

Greetings peeps and welcome to Kermit D. Frog’s coverage of Trinidad Carnival 2009.

This year’s journey to Carnival Monday and Tuesday on the streets of Port-of-Spain begins on Friday, February 13th at a warm-up fete called VOODOO. This party was held at the Crews Inn in Chaguaramas and as this was the VOODOO’s inaugural year, I didn’t know quite what to expect. VOODOO’s promoters have an excellent track record after having developed Sunny Side Up to the powerhouse breakfast fete that it is today and also with their most recent creation, Break Biche which started in 2008. Consequently, I wasn’t too concerned about things but with fetes in Trinidad, one never knows for sure.

That night I dropped one of the promoters to the venue so I got down there quite early (around 10:00 pm) hence I arrived before most of the crowd. This was OK with me as I would be able to scope out the lie of the land and, since I had purchased the drinks-inclusive ticket, I could get my drink on in advance of the masses arrival.

Upon entering the fete and navigating through the impressive security screening, I passed through the Battery Tent said hi to the Battery Girls and came to the Absolut Lounge. Now this was not just a bar that featured Absolut drinks; oh no my peeps, this was a full blown lounge with several tall white tables and barstools (with feather centerpieces of course) as well as several low tables with beanbag seating all arranged in front of a full Absolut bar with uniformed bartenders (cap, suspenders, shirt, tie, with socks and shoes to match) serving a range of delicious Absolut cocktails. After weighing my seating options (with drink in hand of course) I decided that my best bet was the high table and barstool as although the beanbags looked extremely comfortable, once I get my 6’4”, 260 lb. self down there, I would ketch my ass to get up, and even though I would be able to stand up eventually, it would not be a graceful ascension at all. Besides, being perched on the barstool I would be able to survey the entire fete and plan my next move because there was a lot more to explore in VOODOO and I still had some time before things get all hot and Heavy-T up in this piece.

After imbibing a few of the Absolut drinks, I decided to move on to check out some of the other drink stations I could see. The next stop was the Jose Cuervo tent where the lovely Cuervo Girls were more than happy to hook me up with a shot and a nice mixed drink. I then passed by the one of the main bars to glance at the rest of the fare then went to gaze at the food area but since I had eaten a substantial meal in advance of the fete I was not very tempted.

It was at this point that I sensed that my movements were being watched from behind a tree. Using my patented Kermit photo-taker-outer skills, I furtively took a picture of where I felt the watching was coming from and when I checked the picture, imagine my surprise when I saw what I thought was a stray dog watching me. But what de jail is dis? A stray dog in de fete? What kind of party has stray dogs. I was about to go find one of the VOODOO people and ask them that very question when it occurred to me that what I was seeing could not possibly be a stray dog. I mean, the security was tight like a small shoes when I passed through in the front. They even had very menacing looking rottweilers in the parking lot and at the entrance. How could some random stray dog get past all that? It was then that I realized what was going on. This was no stray dog; this was an undercover K9 officer. It was one of the Special Tactical Undercover Dogs (S.T.U.D.) used to fight fete crime. BRILLIANT! This was another first for the VOODOO CREW. Everybody notices the rottweilers but nobody pays any attention to a STUD and would therefore be able to move through the party largely unobserved and able to report on bandit activity and fight crime as needed. Kudos, VOODOO crew, much kudos for thinking out of the box or kennel as the case may be. Needless to say, the party was incident free all night and I am sure that was due in no small part to S.T.U.D. vigilance.

By now, crowds were filling the venue, hot tunes were flowing almost as smoothly and quickly as the drinks and the vibe was heating up nicely. After chilling for a while in the Absolut Lounge and becoming good friends with the two Absolute Girls in white (de white pants TIGHT woah-e-ooey, de pants fit TIGHT yeah-e-eeaaehy) I saw that the live entertainment was setting up on-stage so we relocated the lime to a spot closer to stage side and prepared to be entertained. First, Shurwayne & You mashed up the place and then after a short intermission to change equipment, KES The Band finished the job. Both performances were full of energy and action and the crowd was kept hyped from beginning to end.

After the performances, the DJs took over and kept the crowd jamming until finally it was time to go. As far as first fetes go, this was an excellent start to what should be a new carnival tradition. The drinks were cold and plentiful, the women were hot and plentiful, and the music and entertainment was on point. What more could one ask for in a fete, new or otherwise? As I made my way to my car, I again sensed a pair of watchful eyes following me from about one foot off the ground and lo and behold, watching over the partygoers as we exited was another S.T.U.D. still on duty and still ever vigilant. So I took a picture of this exit S.T.U.D. and hoped that the rest of the carnival fetes were as well guarded and secure as VOODOO.

Enjoy the pics folks, Fatima All-Inclusive is next.

Kermit out.

Fete Friday Reviews

In the past I have shared "Kermit's" review of Taboo fete (DC Carnival) with my readers, and since he made it to many fetes for Trinidad Carnival 2009 (but I did not) this Friday I am going to feature his Fete Reviews thus far. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!

Fetes being featured today:

Voodoo

Fatima All Inclusive

A.W.O.L.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Carnival in Hindsight…..you can never be TOO prepared… stuff to add to the list for 2010.

With all my planning for Carnival 2009 there was really nothing that went amiss; I had a matching umbrella for my costume, Ziploc bag for the camera/cell phone and copious amounts of Fletch Dry powder were used since I knew it was going to be a rainy Carnival and prepared accordingly. If anything I was over prepared with my lists and obsession over every little detail. In any event there were just some things that I simply had no control over, even though I did have a remedy for the situation, like my tights getting a ghastly run! So for Carnival 2010 these are some tips that I only thought about AFTER the fact:

*In January of this year I had a minor accident and injured the instep of my right foot. Thankfully my boots were a whole size bigger so getting them on was not that difficult as my foot was still sore and for Carnival. However, on Carnival Monday night that very same foot started cramping me all sorts of evil; it was so bad that my toes were actually curling under! It was at that point I realized there was no muscle relaxant or any type of topical balm (such as Tiger Balm) to soothe the muscles in the house and I made a mental note to always have that on hand for the following year! I finally found a “Chinese Plaster” that my mother had given me and that worked in stopping the pain. So, make sure and have something on hand for leg cramps…adding that to the packing list!

*There had to be something with the super low cut bra tops this year and all the dangerously close opportunities for nipple slips that I saw! Although I have recommended pasties to women wearing the sexy or cage bra I think it would do most women well to invest in pasties regardless of the type if bikini tops you choose to wear. Pasties come in all styles and shades and if all else fails and you cannot get pasties, do like my friend and try some band aids on the nipples!

* In one of the TRIBE reviews someone complained about the unsanitary deodorants provided at the lunch stop. Though I did have the foresight to toss one of the mini sample deodorants I had gotten from visiting someone else’s mas camp in my husbands knapsack, not many people thought this might be necessary and believe me, IT WAS! 2010 make sure and walk with your own deodorant please as it was more than needed on the road for some people.

*I always walk with safety pins on the road, but I walk with one size, the small ones. Thank Goodness my friend walked with the jumbo sized pins as we used that to secure her wings when it was damaged after someone bounced her and ripped a part of the wing off in the process. One jumbo safety pin after and the wings were back in action! My pins also saved several other people on the road Carnival Tuesday; a must have I tell you.

*The one thing I missed greatly on the road was a mirror on Carnival Monday. I know some of you are going to laugh about that one, but trust me it was an essential that I totally forgot about. We had gotten a nice TRIBE mirror in 2008 that I walk with everywhere but it is lost now and I simply did not have one small enough to fit in my pouch. That meant I went mirror less all day Monday (oh the horror) and realized just how much I needed one! Carnival Tuesday I remedied the situation by getting a small mirror from out of a compact and that worked. Trust me, a mirror on the road is an essential for me.

And if you are wondering where on earth are you going to put all these things, let me list what I walked with in my Carnival Tuesday bag (I am still surprised all that stuff even fit!)



*Dentyne Ice Gum
*Clear Nailpolish
*Lip Gloss
*Small Mirror
*Small Black Opal Oil Blocking Powder
*Blotting Sheets
*Pins
*Mini Perfume
*Sample size pack of ADVIL liquid gels



The cell phone went in my boots !

What did you walk with on the road ? And, was there anything that you WISHED you had walked with or done that you didn't think about until after Carnival?





Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Carnival Connections - Part 2

If you are one of the people pictured below and would like to connect with the person seeking you out or you are not interested in a connection send me an email: trinidadcarnivaldiary@yahoo.com.
I played mas with Island people this year and couldnt keep my eyes off this Bajan guy pictured on the left.
Hope you can help :)


Hey saucy! I kept bumpin into this security guard while playin wit Evolution...but I lost him lol :(...find he for me nuh? :)


Dear Saucy Trini:

Thank you for all your helpful information. This year I played mas with my boyfriend in IP's
Midnight Bloom and I guess b/c we had matching costumes, masqueraders would approach us and ask to take our picture. I am trying to get in contact with 2 ladies, who played in IP's Rays of Light (yellow costume) that took our picture.

Picture 1
On Carnival Tuesday, this lady saw that my boyfriend and I had matching black costumes and asked to take a picture of us. If anyone knows her, could you please let her know about this post. I would like it if she could send me the pictures she took
of us and the ones of me and her.


Picture 2
This lady approached us early Carnival Tuesday before we hit the road. She told me she was from Jersey and I told her I was from NYC. I also took a picture with her that I would like to send her as well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When a wine is not just a wine….The No Wining Rule!



Fresh after Carnival one of my friends is clicking through the party galleries on Triniscene, comes upon a photograph of her boyfriend executing what looks like a precariously perched wine atop a drinks cooler at a fete and her blood starts to boil! Suffice to say this causes a heated argument and subsequent rift between them as the boyfriend tries to explain that the girl just “surprised” him with a wine out of the blue and that his head was not positioned to look at her posterior, as it appeared in the photo, but he was really trying to make an escape while looking for his phone to send her (the girlfriend) a text! Apart from the fact that his phone could clearly be seen in the pocket on the OTHER side of the pants ,and his excuse was the lamest ever, I was both bemused and perplexed as to why my friend got SO angry at her boyfriend that it led to a Facebook break up!

“Because we had a NO WINING rule” she explains, “a what?” I asked, “A rule that we were not going to wine on any other people for Carnival, and he told me he did not wine on anyone at that fete!!” I must also add that this fete took place before my girl friend came into the country as her boyfriend came for Carnival a few days ahead of her. And while I thought that the whole incident seemed innocent enough, I mean it IS Carnival after all, a time where some couples are excused to take a wine on any bumsee, other ladies came forward with photographic evidence of their significant others taking a wine on women for Carnival and voiced their support that a wine is not always “just a wine”!

One person I know intimated to me that a friend of his got into some serious trouble for wining on other women in his section with the girlfriend present; apparently the girlfriend got jealous! Another friend noticed that all the photos of her boyfriend for Carnival showed him taking a wine on the SAME girl at various times throughout the day, after he said he didn’t really dance with anyone! Oh and the most proactive action came when this one girl left the band she was in, trekked to another band to look for her boyfriend caught him wining on some other woman, and took him out of that situation immediately; she was not amused! The fallout of post Carnival wining with persons other than the significant other lead to some vexation I tell you!

To me the whole “rule” thing is a bit much, I would think that there would be a mutual understanding between the couple of what they both expect and would accept of the other and their behavior during Carnival that expert rules are not even needed. However clearly there are those individuals that either use Carnival as an excuse to behave as they would not normally do, get caught up in the “spirit of the season”, take advantage of the willing wines offered and just see it as a free pass to wine on anyone on that day! Not to mention that for “foreigners’ not used to the whole concept of wining on other people during Carnival the whole act can be both confusing and liberating at the same time!

I have never had a falling out over taking a wine on someone else for Carnival. I myself do not allow any random stranger to come and “wine up on me just so” and I also have parameters on the kind of wine I will allow someone who is NOT my husband to indulge in. On the flip side, my other half is not the type of person to wine wantonly on any woman that passes by during Carnival either, though I have seen photos of him taking a small wine on other women during Carnival and was not upset, I mean it IS Carnival I would be worried if he were not interested at all! At the end of it all my friend did make back up with her boyfriend, but I do know that every time she sees that photo it annoys the HELL out of her!

So, where does the culture of “freeing up” for Carnival leave a couple and their rules? Are rules really necessary and how flexible should they be? I mean, is it okay to wine on someone else if the significant other is present? Or, how about if the wine is between your partner and a mutual friend, is it OK to wine on friends? In the rules are the number of times, length and grades of wines acceptable established? As a matter of fact how many of YOU have wining rules and were there any falling outs over wining on other people this Carnival?

It is interesting to me to get other’s take on this, because I was surprised at the support for the “no wining rule” though the general consensus was that our friend did go a bit overboard by breaking up with her boyfriend over the photo of him wining on someone else during a fete; it is not as if she caught him cheating after all, it was JUST a wine during Carnival, ent?

Monday, March 23, 2009

GENESIS MAS IS D WORSE!

I played with Island people two years and I never got any hiccups despite what everyone reports about and I played with Tribe last year 2008.

I went to Genesis band launch the costumes look nice so I thought I go check them out at the camp not knowing I would be going down a road heading for disaster. So I went and register. 'Stupid Me' not even consulting with my friends, when I asked them they were so upset I did that because they told me Genesis no one plays with them. And why I register? Now I can’t even sell my costume because no one will buy it. Pressure!!

So now time to collect the costume. Everyone distributing Tribe, Island People, Spice, and Elements wow where the collection date is for Genesis anyone?

Lord, when I asked they said they will call me. Carnival Wednesday I went to the camp Nina told me she would distribute on Saturday. When I went there Saturday about 5:00pm they told me come back on Sunday after lunch! I never experience this because I am used to playing with big bands and collection is normally two weeks before carnival. Normally you would think Nina and Ian should know better being in the business so long , but boy when you cheap and don’t want to hire proper staff you will pay the consequences.

Anyways carnival Monday and Tuesday let’s start with Monday shall we. lol

Carnival Monday
Monday 'the band' was supposed to assemble on 'Conville' street Ariapita Ave for 11am which was advertised on the website. When I reached there, by the way I hustle to reach there because I got up late, no one was there I was like OMG the band left without me, because I played by myself because none of my friends registered lol. So I called a representative from the band he said the band was up by the camp. He told me to come up there. When I arrived up there now, Nina nor Ian was no where to be seen, the camp was locked and there were a hand full of people outside including security and the staff. I was like hmm where are the revelers?

Finally Ian came, not dressed, this is about 11:30am mind you, not looking worried or concerned at all. He gave out Jerseys' to security personnel and the barmen on the truck.The truck still had a few cases of Carib to put on the tray. Plus the truck wasn’t even a drinks truck its a normal flat bed so you have to stretch your hand so high in the air. So now Nina pull up now still have to get into her costume now its 12:30pm.They were still dilly dallying all over this time some of the masqueraders now pulling up so now we have like two hand full of people to jump on the road.

So we walking down the road, it’s about 1:00pm now going down by 'Conville' Ave to meet the band the truck is not there. So now Ian says the truck broke down, I was like WTF? So this time 'Elements' passing which look so good on the road,'Pluse8' passing which look better and now 'Mc Farlane'! So 'Mc Farlane' last truck we had to chip behind it for the day because we had no music truck! Lord I was so shame I didn’t even hail anyone on the road because it was the worse feeling I had lol what a way to start the year.

So about 5:00pm our music truck come speeding around the Savannah play one setta chutney like its some band in south I was like WTF lol. That was just half of the Monday experience with Genesis and if you realized I didn’t mention breakfast, because we didn’t get any! Hahaha boy ooh boyyy

Carnival Tuesday.
Carnival Tuesday I had to go back up by the band house because only the music and drinks truck were there on Tuesday no masqueraders, no breakfast again.

So went up by the band house they were still formulating security for what reason I don’t know not like if was a lot of people playing in the band. The band actually went on the road about 9am because they were organizing all sorts of stuff which I could care less about because I pay my money to have a time those things should have been organized months ago. But I guess I burn to learn . The Tuesday experience was not as bad for me because I just listen to the music and I just phased out all that was happening. When I was going down park street to reach St Vincent street I was thinking about how much of a time I would have had in Island People or Tribe because this band was so scanty I literally could have known everyone by name lol. So on St Vincent Street we got some breakfast. Two Styrotex coolers filled with beef, chicken, fish and cheese pies lol which was placed at the back of the drinks truck.

Btw the only premium drink on that truck was Johnny Walker no Hennessy, no Hypnotic; these are PREMIUM drinks, if band leaders cannot provide a variety do not advertise it please, because if I could remember its advertised on the website. So every judging point you have to get in your section and every section had at least not more than 10 people. So good thing they had like 10 sections in the band itself so we looked ah lil plenty full on the road. Even up to 7pm he wanna asking people to get in their section I was like WTF dude take it down.

I am not from Trinidad but I know a lot about Trinidad culture, in terms of Carnival its the best in the world but if you ever play with Genesis and you are a new comer to playing mas you will have a bitter taste in your mouth after your experience with them because you may get the impression that’s how the other bands are; 'Disorganized'

I will NEVER play with Genesis again and I will never advise anyone to play with them there are the worseeeeeee.

Everything I said here it’s not half truth it’s all true, I did not exaggerate, I didn’t lie on them, its all facts. You could ask anyone who played with them.

'Ohh S**t' sorry they may not tell it like it is because it’s all family who made up the band! Ian and Nina you all need to get your act together after 4yrs and you all still making all these mistakes what’s going to happen to you all next year? OMG

You all might just have to be individuals and play mas together lol
I will not play with you all again or any small band never me again I wash my hands, IP and Tribe I coming home!

The IP happy ending

(part 2 of yesterday's review)

It’s Sunday, 11:13am. I’m standing online outside of the stadium, there are 16 people all lined up in front of me; four in back. Various displays of sleepy people still wearing yesterday’s sexy. Must have come straight from Insomnia like me. I figure that those 16 people should be taken care of fast enough, and buying an unsold costume from IP will definitely not be an all day thing. I should have enough time to buy some stuff to fix up costume, make my adjustments AND get some rest before jouvert. My hopes were laid to rest soon after, sharing the same burial plot as my patience and enthusiasm.

The line began to curve alongside the Stadium as people stood near the building to avoid the noonday sun. It would have been nice to have some complementary water for the people patiently waiting. Hell, I would have gladly paid for it. 1:30pm the gate was still not opened for anyone other than those who needed to use the bathroom. At 2:14pm they began letting customers people pick up their missing headpieces and make size swaps. “where de big titty gyal dem?” was the catcall of a ‘helpful’ husband who was assisting his female companion with finding someone who wanted to exchange a small bra for the large one that she ordered. Island Peoples personnel walked up to gate and looked upon the mayhem and did absolutely nothing.

A security guard walked up to the gate and asked, in a voice so low only the people being crushed against the gate could hear- ‘allyuh make two lines’. People passed along the message to the back but no one moved. A short while later they allowed six people in, at this point everyone began to crush towards the front. One of the security guards managed to find his way outside and made small talk with us. He told us that the reason for the delay was because when they closed up the night before, no one stayed late to organize anything. Inside all of the boxes were mixed sizes and even parts from other costumes, not to mention pieces of costumes missing in its entirety. Long story short, ‘it’s just a mess in der’ is what he told us. He then went on to say that he gets an ‘employee discount’ and could buy our costumes for us for ‘a little sumting, nah’. Ok, that seemed like great idea.

No waiting on line, a discount on the costumes and we get to find out whats available and make our decision before we get inside. We gave him our sizes and the sections we wanted to play in (Carnival frontline, Touch, and anything white) He came back and said they were all available. We were unable to cut in the front of the line to get in so he sent us to an alternative entrance where trucks were coming in transporting backpacks for frontline costumes and a few headpieces. After seeing the colorful valances on carnival we decided that it’s ether touch or the white costume with the wings.

“NO WINGS” my cousin muttered. Damn it, so much for our ‘sea salt boots’ matching our costumes this year. Touch it is. (And thank god we listened to her) :
www.slide.com/r/zQIYZo2f7D8JfHxzwlys0twbdYyn3yAD

We told him the section we wanted and he returned to us an hour later saying that the Carnival frontline is 4900tt and the touch costume is 3800tt. We told him fine, and to please hurry up so that we can get out of there. Two hours later we saw the people we were standing in front of online earlier that morning, leave with their costumes. WTF??? We found the guy and asked him what was taking so long, let us give you the money and give us the costumes so we can go. He said we had a bit long erto wait. Frustrated, my cousin decides we should just go to the cashier and pay because we are obviously not getting out any faster. She went to the register and met with a woman who had a price list in her hands. She ran back to me with it and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Touch was only 3095tt?????????????? That guy was trying to make money off of us?!!?!? Wtf happened to the ‘employee discount’.

We tracked him down and asked him the price again. He repeated the 3800 and we showed him the price list. All of the sudden he is telling us to pay the cashier and wait on this ridiculously slow line. Anyway, at the register the cashier says that boy shorts are 75 dollars. I told her I’ll just take the panty option. Our ‘friend’ the security guard went to get us our costumes. Despite the issues, we had to admit, the costumes were beyond gorgeous. We told him that we should be given boyshorts for compensation of all this madness. He went and got them for us. As we were getting ready to leave he told us we couldn’t have the boyshorts for free and that we had to pay for them. I asked him for the price, (already knowing the answer) He looked me in my eyes with all the innocence in the world and said……150tt. I told him I only had 40tt and handed it to him as I walked out of the door. I watched him put the money in his pocket. The time was then 6:10pm.

His name was GAVIN

Despite the bad costume pickup experience I went on to have a wonderful carnival Monday and Tuesday with IP. I Think I broke almost every rule in Mimi’s boots rulebook blog


No, the food wasn’t gourmet. No, we didn’t have foot rubs, or makeup refreshing. We wasn’t misted with neutrogena spf 70 sun block spray, we weren’t fed grapes and there wasn’t any piggy back rides for the tired masqueraders who could not hang. But then again, that’s not what I played mas to experience. I wanted the drinks to flow (and it did), I wanted to dance and hang with some of the most wassy, beautiful, jammish, friendly and fun-loving masqueraders on the planet while wearing a gorgeous, sexy and creative costume. From morning ‘til night. And That’s exactly what I got. The lack of sleep, the constant rain and even the ‘wild antz’ song on repeat did not interfere with my sexy or good cheer. I’d definitely play with them again. I won’t ever buy another costume on carnival Sunday, but i’d play with them again.

Btw: The Security in the surrounding sections was good:


People? Awesome
www.flickr.com/photos

We didn’t have many people in our section, but the camaraderie was there in abundance.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"SPICE WHO" the almost spice review

“SPICE WHO???”


“Any body playing Island people?” “Anybody playing in TRIIIIIIBE”? “Who playing in Legends”?......

Every fete I went to we heard the same mas camp role call and waited for our new mas camp to be called so that we can represent. The call didn’t come. Even in my mother’s home, my baby cousins were taught to hold up two fingers in each hand to mimic quotation marks and sing the word “spiiiiiiiice”. My own family, residents of Trinida d mocked me and my mas camp- they’ve never heard of it. It wasn’t until the Eyes wide Shut fete that we heard what was music to our ears. “Who playing in SPICE????” My cousin and I looked at each other in disbelief. We went mad, I threw my drink chits in the air and made it ‘rain’ up in there! We squeezed to the front to find out who could this person be, this person who knew of the mystical ‘Spice’. We waved our digicel light chains around in the air to get his attention. We screamed in unison “are you ‘Spice’?” (we were drunk.) He said yes. Awesome.

Costume pickup morning, I made my hour-long drive from Princestown to San Fernando only to receive a call stating an email was sent to my job saying that the headpieces were not ready yet- they where sent back to be made bigger because the prototype was too small. I cannot place into words the feeling that came over me after hearing that I spend all morning walking around in the hot sun from 10 to 1pm burning time for my costume pickup only to find that I have to arrange yet another trip to come get the rest of my costume. I decided to at least ‘visit’ my costume and gaze upon its beauty in person, perhaps it will be the balm for my now ‘sun-charred’ shoulders. Alas, it was not to be. The display was not available and I was shown a bra that looked absolutely nothing like the prototype. (it was brought to my attention that they changed the bra since the concept.

HOWEVER, I was charged an additional SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS for my costume because I was told that my registration was late and Nicholas has already ordered the bras from CHINA and was going to pick them up the weekend after I made my payment. The additional fee was to have my bra made as a separate order so that it was completed in time for pickup) Due to these particular circumstances and additional fees that was paid since September 2008, I feel that I should not have20to succumb to any change of plan. At least, give me something that is worth the extra money- but I digress. I told them that this bra looks like it was dipped in glue and rolled over everything white that happened to be swept in a corner and I asked if this bra was made shortly before my arrival.

They assured me that nothing was created on site. I looked at the manicure on the woman and those others who happened to be working behind the costume collection counters and believed it to be true. They did not have the Louis Vuitton luggage bags under the eyes from near sleepless nights of making mas. They had no random flecks of sequins, feathers or rhinestones on their skin, hair and clothing. And most of all they were courteous and understanding. Two of them looked like models from the site. I left calmly and began to dial Nicholas’ phone number.

Readers, I have to tell you that Nicholas Pena is a great DJ and a courteous business man, he understood my plight and although he did not agree that the bra was different from the photo online, he was willing to work with me and even offered to bring my headpiece to Princestown where I was staying on CARNIVAL Saturday. I really wanted my sea salt, I wanted my frontline and I wanted my showgirl-esque headpiece and despite that, I had to go with my gut and decline. I couldn’t risk the headpiece being as much of a disappointment and me not having a costume so close to the deadline. I requested a full refund and he gave it without any issues. What other options were there? Legends costumes looked too ‘new york’ish for me and tribe was booked solid. I had no other option but to tackle Island People’s ‘leftover costume pickups Sunday 12-4pm….’ As I waited for the dreaded day to arrive, I sat in disbelief as I watched all day long commercials of spice mas camp on television on Saturday.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Carnival Saving Tips

Coming off my post on Carnival, The Recession and You here are some tips that are hopefully useful for those of us determined to enjoy Carnival 2010 and feel free to add anything you think that can help in cutting costs!

*Shop for airfare early
This might be a difficult one to execute in today's unknown when it comes to job security and you never know if airlines might slash prices later on in the year. So far airline prices are not going DOWN and in fact I am surprised at the high cost t o some destinations. As a consequence you can start looking at flights now and compare prices to decide if it is wise to purchase now or wait until later.

*Cut down on time spent in Trinidad
If you are one of those people who simply cannot sacrifice a hotel and the freedom that brings to stay with family in order to save money how about staying in Trinidad for a shorter period of time? I know people who came in on Carnival SATURDAY, went to one fete, jouvert, played mas on Monday and Tuesday and were on a flight back home on Ash Wednesday!

*Recycle and Reuse
When it comes to foot wear it is pretty easy to recycle your well worn in boots for another year. Afro Chic has advised on how to do this; if your boots are decorated, strip the decoration off, use sand paper to remove the spray paint and/or glitter, then when you are ready to reuse the boots just spray it with a primer and then spray it any colour you desire. If your boots are undecorated but won't match your costume for the following year two cans of spray paint may be the cheaper option instead of getting new boots!

Another idea is to assemble a Carnival "stuff" bag or drawer or kit or box; you just want someplace to stash all the stuff that you bought for Carnival including makeup, glitter, braid, feathers, accessories, gel insoles etc. When you take stock all the stuff you have accumulated over the years you will be surprised at what you can reuse! For example, this year I didn't need to look for a pouch to match what I was wearing on Monday, I found an old one that worked quite well.

Speaking about Monday Wear, you do not HAVE to order extra boy shorts to match your costume (for those not getting Monday Wear that is). Over the years I am sure you have amassed lots of spandex boy shorts, worn only once for Carnival, lying around somewhere .You can reuse one of those on Monday instead; if it does not match the section you are in I am sure it will match another section so don't even worry that it does not go with your costume unless you plan on wearing the shorts on Tuesday too!

Since clothing trends are also recycled every season, you do not need to purchase a brand new wardrobe for Carnival either.Your spring and summer clothing can easily be reused for the following year,

*Shop the sales
Take advantage of the end of season sales for sandals, tops and shorts! Stores usually start getting ridding of Summer clothing in August , after August prices drop dramatically. If you do online or catalog shopping stores will have the merchandise longer, but they will put out a separate clearance catalog and then the main catalog will show their new season stuff for fall and winter. Most websites also have a separate section for clearance and even hard to find items can sometimes be sourced by calling the store. When my Victoria Secrets bra was not showing the size on sale my friend called them up and they directed her where to get it at a store closest to her.

*Eliminate some of the services you partake of for Carnival
So the trend is to try and save money on things that you do not necessarily need but want anyway. Hiring a makeup artist is pretty cool, especially if it is someone who does a great job. However, you do not have to use a makeup artist if you devote some time to practicing makeup looks. You can even recycle some of the makeup you bought for Carnivals past ( I mean how many times are you going to use fuchsia pink and crimson eye shadow in day to day life?) and get some friends together before Carnival to have a little makeup trial session. There must be someone in your "crew" proficient enough in applying makeup to show you some tips and if all else fails youtube does have lots of tutorials!

If you cannot afford to get the individual or extreme lashes done and do not mind having diva length lashes for just one day you can always use the strip lashes which are much cheaper. The caveat for me is that this takes practice to apply, I am amazed at anyone who does it right! Also, instead of a acrylic nails you can do the stick on nails that last a week. I tried the Kiss brand this year and amazingly they DID stay on long after Carnival and I applied them on Carnival Tuesday morning!

*Upgrade on your own to a backline PLUS
If you are a on a backline budget with frontline taste there are several ways to upgrade your backline costume. The first thing you can try is contacting the section leader and asking for something extra done to your costume for less than it would cost to go full on frontline. If this fails you can find someone who will add the extras for you for a fee, there are many producers if contacted in time will add extra feathers to your headpiece for you or even make you a small backpack for example . If you are VERY artistic you can upgrade your costume yourself, only thing it will cost is the additional materials. A back pack frame is pretty inexpensive or you can do what someone told me they are doing next year and strip down and old backpack to spruce up their backline costume for 2010! If all else fails you can scour the costume resale sites for masqueraders selling large headpieces or backpacks when they realise they do not want all the extras that come with the frontline. Usually you can get these pieces for a reasonable price!


* Rethink the fetes
To me this one is a no-brainer, to others they MUST go to every fete every Carnival season. If you insist on the Groundhog Day syndrome that affects all fetes Carnival week (same people, same artistes, same exact routine every night) then at least be discerning and choose the fetes you attend wisely. Try and secure tickets early as fete prices are not static in Trinidad, the first wave is one price and then they keep going up!

*Start a Carnival Fund
With four months left to start of band launching season Carnival 2010 will descend upon us before you even know it. The sooner you start saving, the more money will be in your fund by the time you are ready to register in August. My mantra is always to budget, budget, budget so take some time, do a budget for the entire year taking into consideration your monthly expenses so you can have a clearer idea on exactly how much you can save for Carnival. And please save for a "rainy day" as well; do not put ALL your savings in the Carnival fund! There is life beyond Carnival and my other mantra is do not go into debt for Carnival either. No credit cards to pay for your costume (unless you plan on paying off the entire amount immediately )or loans! Think about the interest that accumulates when you are in debt and the months after Carnival that you will still be paying back for that expense!


Scale Back on the Socializing
Some people are always in everything, you know the ones who post all their photos on facebook and you have to wonder if their life is a series of one party after another and hobnobbing at the hottest events never wearing the same outfit twice. What I wonder is if they won the lotto, their daddy's name is Sagba, they must know all the right people for free tickets and "comps" or if they live pay check to pay check to keep up with that lifestyle. Yes, there are those who can simply "roll like that", but too many people I know are partying every weekend without even a pot to piss in! Listen, you do not HAVE to be in everything if you cannot afford it. We are no longer living a lie to keep with the Joneses people; didn't the housing crash in the US teach anyone anything? It is pretty simple to live comfortably within your means; do not spend more than you can afford, reduce your debt and save for a rainy day.

So if you know you want to play mas and "pappyshow" yourself in all the fetes for 2010 but your salary does not allow you to do that AND afford rounds of drinks at 51 Degrees or Corner Bar every weekend, attending everything you are invited too including the opening of an envelope plus following the crowd to Crop Over and Miami Carnival there is no harm in saying "nah, I staying in tonight!". Invite some friends over, have house and beach limes and know the joy that comes from watching your money sitting in your bank account instead of wondering how you are going to get gas money to get to work after a weekend of hanging your hat where it simply cannot reach!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Trinidad Fete Tickets Responds

Hi Saucy
I write to you in response to the review that L** A**** & L*** N*** placed on your site, and also to address the ensuing comments. With regards to their issues, yes they and a few other people were let down and did not get their Lara tickets, and some of those people are currently awaiting their refunds, which are being processed and sent out.

With regards to the complaints, as you know there are 3 sides to a story the 3rd side being the truth, so it will be for people to find a middle ground and decide whether or not I am the con artist some people are portraying me to be.

The said parties purchased tickets for 3 different fetes I believe, one of which being Lara, they received their tickets for ALL their other purchased other events, by assigning and authorizing somebody to pick up on their behalf.

Just a clarification to the ticket collection- I was obtaining the tickets from a committee member not Lara himself, I felt it pointless to correct L** at that point of us meeting due to her state of mind and argumentative.

When I spoke to L*** on the phone she was advised of the situation, as expected she was none to happy, and I listened to what she had to say even with the shouting and screaming and cursing. In the conversation she stated that there was nothing I could do to make the situation better, other than me telling her that her friends and self would get the tickets. At the point I realised that nothing I could say would pacify her, even though I said that they would be all refunded.

On Sunday night about MIDNIGHT (which is why I was in bed), we had a conversation with - I believe now to be L**, stating that she wanted to meet to get the tickets for the final fete which was happening on Thursday after carnival. I informed her that I would deliver them on Monday morning, but because I wouldn't give her a specific time, she insisted that she wanted this matter resolved now, as in immediately.

I was staying on my own and I wasn’t driving, and they made the decision and ended up coming to me at 1am Carnival Monday morning, as I refused to be walking around St James looking for their accommodation on my own at that time of the morning. I don’t see that as being unreasonable especially since I had already stated that I would come on Monday Morning.

Basically from the conversation that was had, I should have done more than give her a refund, and also I shouldn’t have distributed the tickets that we did managed to acquire. Also as far as she was concerned we should have notified them a week prior about the situation - a situation we knew nothing of until the very last minute, so there was no way for them to be notified way in advance. I wasn’t saying much because there wasn’t anything more I could add to the situation that was going to make it better. Also when somebody starts to threaten you, by announcing that they are going to ensure that “socadiva”, “Trinidad fete tickets” are going to be taken down, starting with your visit to the Tourism board on Thursday morning… really what more is there to say, from my experience somebody who is prepared to go that far, will NOT be interested in anything you have to say.

I would say that most of our customers were happy with their service that they received, and whatever problems arose we tried to deal with them to the best of our ability.

Many of our customers did not adhere to the opening times of the office,

Office hours for FEBRUARY 2009
Friday 13th- 1pm - 4pm
Monday 16th - 1pm - 4pm
Wednesday 18th- 1pm - 5pm
Thursday 19th- 1pm-5pm
Friday 20th - 10am - 5pm

And on many an occasion I met people outside of these hours because they had not assigned someone to pickup tickets on their behalf. A few customers were delayed by there flights which is obviously not their fault.

Where I felt we were at fault i.e. not having the tickets in the office when they came to collect, I offered to meet some customers, a few of them I delivered to the hotels/accommodations, I went that extra mile because we were did not have the tickets at time.

I will state again to those customers who have been affected that we apologise for the inconvenience that you incurred, as this was not our intention, especially the fact that they restricted the paypal account, and the information that they required to resolve the situation could not be done until I returned to the UK.

The service was there to ease the pressure of going around getting fete tickets from various locations; and for the most part we achieved that. As with every business things can go wrong, and you do your best to right those wrongs, for some it is never enough. Customers were always kept informed via email updates (daily and weekly), texts and phone calls.

I have noted the recommendations that have been posted, with regards to cut off dates and not using certain promoters. In hindsight these recommendations do make a lot of sense. Carnival veterans know the difficulties in obtaining certain tickets and how they often are obtained at the 11th hour. But I will seriously take into consideration canceling ticket orders if not obtained by a specific date.

I would just to like to add that those person/s who cared to comment on my character and were not even a customer of the site, I understand you did so out of pure maliciousness. It is very easy to make false accusations behind a screen name. If you have unresolved issue you know my full name and email address, feel free to send me an email stating your past or present gripe.

Pamper Suite!

The Element's review today reminded me that I had glimpsed the rest stop pampering put forward by the band for their masqueraders on Triniscene and that I had made a mental note to comment on it; see photos below:









Now these are the amenities you can offer when the band is a smaller size! Imagine having 5000 people wanting massages and makeup done during a lunch stop! Anyway I am lobbying that this is a pretty cool idea and if you cannot do it for the 5000 masqueraders then why not having something special done for the Frontliners? Just a thought!
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