Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sumfest, The Real Review

I’m sure you’ve seen other articles in the media that have focused primarily on the performances at this year’s Reggae Sumfest. This review comes to you from the other side of the VIP/Press barrier. I attended International Night 1 on Friday night and needless to say the festival was well supported but one couldn’t help but feel that the organizers didn’t care for us, the patrons. We anticipated the inflated prices but were appalled by the full scale ban on the premium beers and stouts in Jamaica. Rumor has it that the organizers were still upset about Red Stripe’s withdrawal as title sponsor and they decided to punish them/us by banning their products from the venue. Notably absent from the bars and stalls at the venue were Red Stripe, Heineken and Guinness (all bottled and distributed in Jamaica by Red Stripe). They were replaced with Trinidadian import Carib Beer, Mackesons Stout and Jagra “with horny goat weed”. Just try ordering a Redbull and Guinness and you surely be served a Mackesons and Monster Energy drink. For some of us, having a few bottles of our favourite beer is an important part of the whole experience. Imagine a Jamaican reggae festival without the great Jamaican Beer, Tomfoolery! Thank god for a few brave vendors, members of "the resistance” who walked through the crowd and sold the contraband from crates and buckets. The show was also plagued by shoddy production. We were subjected to lengthy band changes that were at times longer than many of the performances. In previous years it was usual and customary for sound systems to entertain us during the band changes and keep our energy levels up between performances. This year we were treated to dead air, corny MCs and advertisements as if it were at intermission during the movies. The organizers undoubtedly still have a great product but they need to settle their beef and ensure that the patrons don’t get caught in the crossfire.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jackson One for Sumfest

Officials of Reggae Sumfest announced that this year’s staging of the annual reggae festival would be dedicated to late pop icon Michael Jackson and that the remaining members of legendary group, the Jackson Five were to attend/perform. They were slated for International Night 2 on Saturday July 25. This would be their second performance in the island. The Jackson Five was the opening act for Bob Marley and the Wailers at the National Stadium back in 1975. We are now receiving conflicting stories about their attendance in the days leading up to the festival. Jermaine Jackson, the only brother with a post Jackson Five career insisted that the family was not even coming to Jamaica in interviews with TMZ and E! Online. Subsequently one of the shows directors, Robert Russell, told The Gleaner that Tito Jackson is the only one confirmed to perform. Even Prime Minister Bruce Golding got involved, he spoke with Tito and received a correspondence confirming his performance. So it seems that the headline act has dwindled from the Jackson Four to the Jackson One. I don’t know how many Jamaicans were duped into buying pre-sold tickets in anticipation of seeing the Jacksons perform, but I’m sure they’re upset. At least they’ll get a chance to see other stellar acts like Mackie Conscious, Sophia Squire and Romain Virgo, the 2007 Digicel Rising Stars winner as consolation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Occupational Hazards

Blogosphere please forgive me for I have not blogged, it’s been thirteen days since my last post. I’ve been spending far too much time at work lately, and these days work is especially hazardous to my health. I work at one of the islands larger hospitals. Jamaica recorded its second swine flu death on Thursday and the number of confirmed cases in the island’s medical institutions has climbed to forty two. I wasn’t really concerned until some coworkers started wearing masks. Now I can’t help but worry about the potential of a swine flu outbreak. Health professionals claim that it will only get worse in the cooler months following the summer. This is compounded by the fact that Jamaicans, especially us men are reluctant to go to a doctor or seek medical attention. It is common in our culture to attribute every ailment to either stress or gas. Rest, bush-tea and Immuno-gizer are seen as viable alternatives to conventional medicine. I don't want to be a statistic. This Jamaican is reading up on the side effects of Tamiflu, avoiding people with flu-like symptoms and stocking up on hand sanitizer. I wonder if those swine flu masks are “one size fits all”

Friday, July 3, 2009

Last night the AC saved my life

My air conditioning unit at home is like fine china, only used on special occasions. On warmer nights I’ve always been able to resist the temptation to turn it on because of the resulting increase in my electricity bill. Last night my survival instinct didn’t allow me to be so frugal. My options were to either drown in my own sweat or set aside some extra money for the energy bill. Needless to say I fell asleep wrapped in my sheets while listening to the soothing humming of the AC unit outside my bedroom window. I fear I may have already developed a dependency. I probably say this every year, but this has got to be the hottest summer that I’ve ever experienced. Cold water has never tasted so good. If Jamaicans are complaining about the heat and humidity then someone should warn tourists about the searing temperature this summer. Visitors to Jamaica, If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. Be particularly alert for thieves but do not offer resistance in the event of an attempted robbery. But trust me on the sunscreen.