Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Buju Redux: What Boom Bye Bye Means

This cartoon is a play on Banton’s 2006 hit single ‘Driver A’, which ironically makes references to a hypothetical secret ganja (marijuana) smuggling operation in the U.S. Taken from Dancehall Mobi's website.

I just came across this rather nuanced and critical post on Buju on Afrobella's blog and found myself responding at length. Thought i may as well cut and paste my response here. Afrobella was making several points (among them the absurdity of denying that Buju seems to have had more than a close encounter with a certain white powder) but I was responding to her point that contrary to what is claimed Buju does often still perform Boom Bye Bye. Here's what she said:

"I know there are those that deny that Buju still performs the song, but I’ve seen him tease it, freestyle it, and rile up an audience with it more than once — most memorably in 2006, at Best of the Best in Miami. I turned and left that Buju concert because of that switch in his personality, from incredible entertainer to hatemonger at the drop of a beat..."

I found myself leaving the following response. My thoughts on all this are really developing in response to the opinions i come across on the subject in blogs and other online fora. i've added and edited my original response a bit here:
I too find the argument that Boom Bye Bye is such an old song, Buju doesn't do it anymore etc, specious because at almost every concert he is required by the audience to at least gesture towards it in the way that you've mentioned, if not actually perform it. I've always believed that Jamaica's anti-homosexual rhetoric especially as expressed in the music is much more than merely an exhortation of violence against homosexuals.

This one song Boom Bye Bye probably captures many of the varying targets for public disapproval in Ja in its seemingly straightforward lyrics originally written to protest the rape and kiling of a male child by, presumably, homosexuals. From targeting one particular homosexual rapist and murderer, the song went on to become an anthem targeting all such predators. The problem is that in Jamaica (as in many other places) male homosexuals are invariably seen as predatory and the proscription against predatory homosexuals then becomes one against all homosexuals.

Unfortunately matters have now got to the point where in addition to this conflation the figure of the homosexual has also become conflated with the evils of globalization in Jamaica. It is in effect as if the culture believes it is being raped by the outside world (as my Facebook friend Paul Anthony Vaughn would say: Violation!), and one of the manifestations of this is the demand by developed nations that homosexuality should be legalized or de-criminalized; another is the addition of programming on American/UK cable tv with central characters who are unabashedly homosexual; and of course there is the recent direct, concentrated pressure from international gay rights organizations on Jamaican musicians. I believe that when Buju's audiences demand that he sing Boom Bye Bye and he playfully gives them the intro, wheels etc and appears to perform it or actually performs it it is an affirmation of Jamaica's resistance to the onslaughts of globalization and not so much any longer a mere call to rid the nation of homosexuals. The audience's response is one of jubilation at their mutual refusal to back down in the face of 'unreasonable' and arbitrary demands to change the culture from the outside.

anyway, that's my take on all this. For me it's actions, not so much lyrics, that count and Buju lost his stature in my eyes when he was accused of actually breaking into the house of and beating up some homosexuals so severely that they needed to be hospitalized. that's when i stopped listening to his music as i used to before.

So in summing up, just as you and Sarah Manley have pointed out the good and bad sides of Buju, presenting a more nuanced portrait of this conflicted figure it's necessary also to nuance what homosexuality represents in cultures such as Jamaica, that homosexuality too has its good and bad sides, to differentiate between predatory homosexuality and just being a homosexual...because its the latter that we want to defend not the former. And people do have a right to protest the former.

So in effect Boom Bye Bye has what in academic parlance is called 'multivalence'. It is a multivalent allegory or text, meaning simply that it has multiple meanings. I now await the wrath of Long Bench and various anonymous friends. Please be gentle.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"To all the pilots I ask for your comments": A pilot's take on the AA331 crash in Jamaica

Ok folks...sometimes blogs take on a life of their own and when that happens you just play a parental role and facilitate it. A pilot calling himself Dave has responded to my last post by speculating on the causes of AA331's crash just beyond the Norman Manley International Airport on Dec. 23rd...he suggests pilot error was most likely the cause...but read what he said for yourselves. i've cut and pasted his comments left on my post What Next? below:
Blogger Dave said...

AA Jamaica crash: Although I am aware that it is irresponsible to speculate on a cause before all the facts are know, I do however feel that, at least on forums like this one, it is ok to speculate based on known facts. Here is what's known. 1) 15Kt. winds out of NNE. 2) Heavy rain at night on a non-grooved runway. 3) Pilots near the end of their 12-hour max. on-duty time. 4) Plane fully loaded with passengers and probably heavier on fuel than domestic flights. 5) Pilots had not flown much in previous weeks. 6) Plane touched down very far down runway 12. 7) Plane landed hard. Based on what’s known I think you can make the follow deductions. I believe the tail winds played a very significant role in this crash. Ground speeds would have been 20-30Kts fast than pilots are used to. This along with a nighttime wet runway would have made it easy to misjudge the point of touchdown. Glide slope would have been kept in check on approach but near the ground pilots take over and visually fly the plane. Things would look much different than they normally do especially taking night, rain and fatigue issues into consideration. A go around would have been resisted because of a desire to get the plane on the ground due to bad conditions and current preferred patterns at that airport. As a pilot who has made down wind landings I can tell you that it is very difficult to hit your spot maintaining glide slope without stalling the plane. You have to descend at a quicker rate to maintain glide slope and touch down speeds to hit your spot. This is not a comfortable normal feeling to the pilots. Things happen so much quicker down wind and pilots are not used to this type of approach. Extra weight, rain, night, and fatigue and stress of bad conditions add to the level of difficulty of this down wind landing. I would not be surprised if the black boxes show the plane did or almost did “stall” just before touch down. That would explain the heavy landing reported. Higher ground speeds and weights with reduced runway length due to mid runway touch down point along with wet non-grooved runway made this crash, at this point, inevitable. At the end of the day there will be several factors pinpointed at fault (as there always is), however the primary cause will be pilot error for the following reasons: a) not going to an alternate airport given conditions at primary b) having proceeded to primary not asking to land from the east. c) having proceeded downwind failing to abort the approach and or landing prior to touchdown d) having proceeded downwind having misjudged the point of landing and not maintaining proper glide slope, approach speeds and touchdown point. To all the pilots I ask for your comments

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

American Airlines Flight 331 crash lands in Jamaica

People walked away alive from this!

There is such pathos in this image, poor broken plane--uncanny resemblance to a beached whale!

OMG, it looks as if L.A. Lewis got to the plane before the emergency crews reached there!
photo courtesy Peter Dean Rickards.

Well, that was a close call. Only a miracle kept AA Flight 331 from bursting into flames after it hit the ground running (as it were) last night. After a turbulent ride from Miami to Kingston, the 148 passengers were relieved and happy when the plane appeared to make a smooth landing; relieved enough to break into applause, the normal way for Jamaicans to celebrate a skillful touchdown. But then the plane proceeded to race down the runway without braking to a stop as it normally would. The Norman Manley International Airport's runways extend almost into the sea and AA331 looked as if it was determined to make a splash, ripping through the fence at the perimeter of the airport, across the main road to Port Royal, before coming to an abrupt and violent halt on the rocky coastline on the other side of the road, merely ten feet from the sea. The impact was sudden enough to rip the fuselage apart breaking the plane up into three sections.

Inside the plane it was completely dark and the overhead compartments had disgorged their contents on the heads of the passengers below. "Open the doors! Open the doors!" they screamed. One passenger said he realized there was a problem when he felt the rain coming through the roof. In short time the crew got the emergency doors open and were ushering passengers through them as quickly as they could. The stench of fuel was overpowering and everyone was terrified that the plane would burst into flames at any minute. According to one passenger there was only one thing on their minds, to exit the plane by any means necessary and then run for their lives.

As they picked themselves off the ground the first passengers to disembark saw a bus waiting in the distance. They hurtled towards it, flinging themselves in with the help of the busdriver and a male JUTC employee who was with her.

Annette Howard, the busdriver, had just completed her last run for the day from Kingston to Port Royal. She asked an old friend, Horace Williams, to accompany her on the lonely trip back to town. As they approached the airport they saw the familiar sight of a plane landing, which made Annette wonder aloud "Bwoy when mi a go fly pon one o dem plane there?" Then something astounding happened. The plane taxied down the runway, burst through the fence and crossed the road in front of them. @!#$%?! exclaimed Annette, as the plane hit the rocky coast with a loud explosion like a bomb. A few minutes later the two friends watched in stupefaction as the plane doors opened and a stream of passengers issued forth running towards the bus for all they were worth.

While Annette helped as many passengers onto the bus as possible, Horace tried to call 911. He got through immediately but the policeman who answered refused to believe him when he said that an American Airlines jet had just crashed. The police initially hung up thinking it was a hoax...

Well, the rest is airline history. What i've recounted here is what i obtained from listening to Dionne Jackson-Miller's programme on RJR radio this evening. At the end of this post there is a youtube video recounting more information on the crash.

Immediately below is a Facebook conversation (convo) between some media friends who are incensed at the tack taken by the international media which seem to be alleging that the Jamaican airport authorities are at fault for inadequately lit runways.Not surprisingly this has become an occasion for touting the virtues of the national airline, Air Jamaica, versus the bumbling foreign airline whose pilots clearly lack the skill of Jamaican pilots. Initials have been mildly disguised to protect identities.

DM: How convenient it is, that its not the airline's fault. Look how much rass plane lan' a NMA n nuh complain bout poor lighting! Bet seh if it was Air J, you would hear that it was a fault of the airline. But now that is AA its the fault of the local authority! Gweh!!!

53 minutes ago · ·
yuh seet! di raas pilot never guh a landing class....bout come lighting was never a problem before?
52 minutes ago
mek sure u mention dat pon yuh program tonight.... trace dem off...
50 minutes ago
Authorities or bad weather? R u sure you heard correctly?
50 minutes ago
CNN and NBC claim the AA pilot overshot the runway bc it was poorly lit. By doing so, the US media is already ascribing blame to the local authorities. And EVERYBODY know seh AA pilot nuh lan good ahreddi! Mi always cuss seh dem jus fling dung d plane dem 'BLOOF!' Thats why I prefer Air J
47 minutes ago
YL: they're now blaming the local authorities saying the lighting on the runway was bad! Now there are soooo many holes in that argument, I can't even begin to tear them apart but let's just use the most basic - this AA flight is the first incident EVER!!!! Hmmmm, so if lighting was bad, how come we've never had an incident before? How Come?
46 minutes ago
Amen D! Dem AA bitches can't fly for shit & dem damn bright pon top of it! A Jeanne airline still! AirJ fi mi money from long time!!
40 minutes ago
@Tasha...Jeanne has been known to make poor choices. hmmm
23 minutes ago
Any plane can crash! A so media stay, dennis a u fraternity! Me dis say me 'goodbyes' when me a go no weh cos me no ave d luxury fi 'choose' cos eeda me walk or tek whieva carrier a go weh me a go! So e set up
22 minutes ago

What Next??

This Voodoo doll pen holder by Dead Fred is a good representation of the Jamaican body politic post tax axe...

Sincerely hoping that the following photos are not harbingers of the year to come...American Airlines crashes on arrival in Kingston and Bruce afflicts us with taxes on Christmas Eve. The joke is the new taxes are called PBYE (Pay Before You Eat) as opposed to PAYE (Pay As You Earn)...

That's on the local front and on the global front warm times are ahead now that COP15 seems to have been a COPout, see the Banksy graffiti below...what next indeed??

Photo, What Next? by Colin Hamilton

American airline photos, photographer unknown

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Buju IS Jamaica: "the full has never been told..."

Click to view image details

No one captures the contradictory figure of Buju Banton and what he means to Jamaica better than Sarah Manley in this lyrical, elegiacal piece she posted on Facebook. After reading this you will hopefully understand better why this country is reeling with shock in the aftermath of Buju's imprisonment in the United States. Reposted here with her permission.

the full has never been told...

by Sarah Manley

i know this subject has been exhausted this week, and in weeks months and years past as well, but to stand in solidarity with buju im writing it this morning, and all who want to cuss can cuss, and all who want to bringle can bringle... but this is my buju banton story... and he remains a hero to me and to many jamaican people...

i have written before that i spent 4 years abroad, finishing up my university degree, this was 1991 - 1995. i came back to ja on a sweltering august afternoon, filled with excitement and trepidation to be returning to my colourful, dramatic, often terrifying and always wildly alive homeland. on the drive in from the airport, smelling the slightly rancid salty kingston harbour, breezing past the coconut man, looking across at the cement factory... i knew i was home... and then, in that way that jamaica has of making random magic... i heard a song on the radio... it was my first experience of "untold stories" and i recognised that gravelly voice in an instant, "is that buju?" i asked? it was. by the end of the song i had tears in my eyes... "when mamma spen her las and sen u go class..." buju had captured the essence of our thoughts, our prayers, our hopes, our fears... and just like that... i became a fan. i had heard boom bye bye from back in the day... it was a huge hit in its day and like most jamaicans, i loved it for its unique riddim, for its "tuffness" for its typical jamaican dark hard line... a wicked mixture of posing tough and giving voice to a deep and real sentiment, but not a literal reality. being jamaican i have no problem understanding this... we pose tough in jamaica... we have our street face... our public position... and yes.... we can be a vicious people... but i knew then, have always known that we are also a very tolerant people, that we have every kind of religion, politics, and even sexuality here, and as long as no one "shoves it it anyone elses face" we live and let live. boom bye bye had its day, became a classic, and we moved on... our music moved on... (gully and gaza are gonna move on folks, nature of the beast) as it always does... and a new hit, riddim, artist claimed the spotlight. but buju had sealed his fate with that song on a global stage in a way i think jamaicans did not fully appreciate at the time.

buju moved on... and had his rasta conversion and released til shiloh... which remains an indisputable classic in our long and prodigious musical output. he wrote songs that spoke about all aspects of our hot, tough, beautiful, terrible, spiritual, carnal, jamaican lives... and he hit the nail on the head again and again.... all the way to the now ironic iconic "drivaaaa..." did we know he coulda mix up inna dealings?.... sure... did that make us love him less.... no. as he said.. "it's not a easy road... who feels it knows.." this is no easy country to live in, to be an icon in, to support entire communities in, to have so much expectation and responsibility in.

when i finally met buju in 2002 on a documentary about the history of reggae i was blown away by the sheer poetry of the man. his exquisite handsomeness, his combination of electric charm and cold indifference.... in many ways he summed up jamaica for me in one man: beautiful and scary... and that is no small feat.... to sum up my country, my painful, excellent, magical, dramatical, amazing heartbreaking country is something indeed.... i went out one day and bought every cd he had ever released and to this day can sing til shiloh and inn heights from beginning to end and often play his 23rd psalm as part of my morning worship. he spoke briefly in that interview about boom bye bye, the cuts did not make it into the final doc, but i remember his responses, that he was young when he released that song, that he did not then, and never will compromise his position on homosexuality, that he knows he has the support of jamaicans on the issue, that it was NOT a literal call to action to kill gays.... we jamaicans know that because if we were to kill gays here, there would not be a gay man standing... we are no strangers to killing....

and now dem a go lock him up... and maybe deh did set him up fi tru.... and maybe not....maybe he was just caught plain and simple... and he will have to pay the price for being caught.... but something deep in my heart is bruised... in third world's 96 degrees they sing... "excellency, before you i come wid my representation, you know where im coming from....." i know where we are coming from here in this land we love... "entertainment for you, martyrdom for me."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jamaican police: All dressed in uniforms of brutality? The Robert Hill killing

These are my most recent tweets this evening after listening to a radio discussion on the killing of Robert Hill by the police here. The story had been reported in yesterday's Sunday Herald which had already reported in October that Hill was being threatened:

"Robert ‘Kentucky Kid’ Hill predicted his death and he actually named the cops who would be responsible."

Acc to the Sunday Herald’s team, Hill, virtually in tears, said he was convinced that cops were stalking him and he felt intimidated.

Based on a police report, Hill was killed during a shootout with a police party on Wednesday, December 9

"They killed my child. How am i going to come down there and bury my son?" Robert Hill's mother on Nationwide Radio.

Its not the Jamaica Constabulary Force, it's the Jamaican Criminal Force, declares Cliff Hughes on Nationwide radio

"He's never going 2 see his baby grow. She's never going to know her father" Robert Hill's sobbing mother said.

Carolyn Gomes, spokesperson for Jamaicans for Justice, is holding Acting Police Commissioner responsible for safety of Junior, Robert Hill's cousin, who saw the killers. He is missing, alleged abducted...

"None of us is safe. They can get away with it. " Cliff Hughes. Nationwide Radio.

One of my 'tweeple' responded asking:

who was Robert Hill Annie?

i referred him to the Sunday Herald article.

Then he sent this: ok. Kentucky. You seen the youtube link i posted last week? he names the police

i begged him to repost the link and he did urging me to read Kentucky's comments on the video. See it below...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rohan's Nine Night and Buju locked up in Miami

Young Rohan Laird, a Sickle Cell patient, who was a member of music producer Mikie Bennett's family, died in November 2009 aged 25. These are some video clips of the fantastic drumming from the Nine Night held for him at Grafton Studios.

what's interesting is that people are always lamenting how young people have lost the old traditions etc. but these were a lot of young people save for the one guy in the white ganzie.

Meanwhile the nation is in shock over the news of Buju Banton's incarceration in a federal lock-up in Miami on charges of possession of a large quantity of coke. From 3 pm yesterday Mr. Vegas was tweeting for info from Europe: "hellooooooooooooooooo r u there, any info on buju please?"

And then last night breaking news that Buju Banton is in a federal lock-up in Miami accused of possession of 5 kgs of Coke! More info as i get it. This is shocking news.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pressure in Berlin: Will Mr. Vegas's show be cancelled?

RT @MrVegasMusic: There's a attack against reggae music,now they want me to meet with the head of police in germany to say I will not sing certain songs. they will also be sending their representative who speak patois to the venue to hear if I am singing certain lyrics, so if I do not meet with the police chief my show will be cancel,what is reggae gone to,the bible said it best,whosoever does not take the mark of the beast 666 will not be able to work,nor buy,nor sell,lord your word is coming to pass.

it does not matter if you sing about them or not, as long as you do reggae or dancehall,u will have to meet with them, we're now being mocked. I don't give a hell about these people I do not sing them, their shit is their shit, long as they stay in their lane mi nuh business with them. so it is provoking when you trying to get people involve who has stayed far from this shit.

These heartfelt words come from dancehall singjay Mr. Vegas (one of my favourite 'artistes'), who is touring Germany right now. Apparently the anti-oral sex crusader ('Heads High') is feeling the effects of the international gay rights 'murder music' campaign. Mr. Vegas uttered these sentiments on Twitter this morning (Dec. 9) in a series of tweets (which i've amalgamated here), each ending with the abbreviation 'cont.' to indicate continuation, a clever way of getting around the 140 character limit of the medium. Full marks to Mr. V for adept use of the technology. I tell you--if only our journalists would take a leaf out of his book. This, dear PAJ members, is how news is communicated these days; if you want to keep abreast of what's going on, you need to tweet.

Because Tweety Bird gets the worm, coz Tweety Bird is the early bird! Will Mr. Vegas go to see the German Police Commissioner? Will his show be canceled (He is scheduled to perform in Berlin tonight)? We watch and wait...

5 pm

And a few hours later another series of tweets from Mr. Vegas apparently after he did the needful:

Read.You are not allowed to do public: Appeals,or statements for, discrimination,violation,hatred,or even murder,offensive or insult. no such statements,no such lyrics,no such gestures,against anyone or community,due to race, color,religion,ideology,political views, opinions,ethic,or social origins or lineage,sexual orientation,gender,disability,genetic,features,age or any other personal community, bound German law and German foundation any people living here are equal.any violation of these principles would be a criminal offense and may lead to an arrest and expulsion and will cause criminal proceedings by official [public] prosecutor. in addition a complete suspension for entering the countries of the European Union may be signed on you.[We will give a report to the authorities of other German cities,it might be the base for the decision of taking measures due to your concerts over the .signed vegas.

so I just took the mark of the beast, I sold out God for vanity and Gold.

    This is ironic because Mr. Vegas is not one of those who utters anti-homosexual lyrics. So as he points out the attack seems to be against the music now, not individual performers guilty as charged.

    Meanwhile here is a video of Mr. Vegas's hit "I am Blessed". Some wonderful footage. Hopefully the blessings extend to Germany...