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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Every Little Thing #10

Style Week welcomes 7th Avenue
BY MICHAEL EDWARDS Entertainment editor
Sunday, May 28, 2006

"THE world doesn't need another pretty dress."
With that observation, Carmela Spinelli-Schaufler, Associate chair of New York's Parsons School of Design has mapped
out the future direction of the fashion industry - for the world in general but for Jamaica in particular.

The undergraduate fashion design programme of athe Parsons School takes about 480 students. Less than 100 will actually
walk out with that coveted piece of paper.
"Our requirement is that our students actually solve problems, rather than simply making outfits," she says as we endure
the mid-afternoon heat by the poolside of the Jamaica Pegasus. "Talent is important, obviously, but its by no means enough.
This industry is so multi-faceted today and our students are expected to go beyond just making a dress."

Schaufler is here, along with Beth Charleston of parsons and freelance fashion writer David Noh to take part in the annual
Style Week extravaganza hosted by Saint International.

It was Beth who first received the notice of the event and then busied herself on the Internet checking facts about Jamaica,
about fashion and about Style Week.

"This sounded like something really interesting and something which we hadn't been getting much information on at all in
New York," Beth said.

"Right away, you know the light and thus the colours are different," Carmela agrees. "We want to see how that impacts the
design ideas, but more than that we want to see also the impact of the whole culture, the lifestyle, the tastes and smells,
on the design and the style."

For Hawaiian David Noh (who is covering Style Jamaica for fashionwire), the most welcome aspect is to experience diversity
of a different nature than what he has become accustomed to in the fashion capital.

"Even in a place like New York, things can become kind of gray after a while. Here, you have the natural beauty, the
diversity and the strength of the culture, which is your own natural resource."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Byard Lancaster on piano

Byard Lancaster on piano
Originally uploaded by alankin.
A arare shot - atl eastto this writer's eyes of reed man Byard Lancaster at the piano in his Philly hometown

Friday, May 26, 2006

Every Little Thing # 8

Afro-Canadian filmmaker explores the ties that bind
Michael A Edwards, Entertainment Editor
Thursday, February 23, 2006
From left: Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Claudio Valle, Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie and Canadian author Cheryl Foggo in discussion during a special reception/presentation at the Canadian High Commissioner's residence in Kingston on Monday.

The last thing many of the incoming guests expected to be greeted by in the patio of the Canadian High Commissioner's residence this past Monday was a movie.

Yet, by evening's end, not only did all present come to thoroughly enjoy the film, but everyone was brought to the realisation of just how deep the connections are between peoples of this hemisphere and our varied Continental (Africa, Asia and Europe) forebears.

The film in question was The Journey of Lesra Martin, a biographical feature. The subject may not at present be a household name to Jamaicans, but those who witnessed Denzel Washington's performance as Reuben 'Hurricane' Carter may have heard the name mentioned a few times.

It was a young Lesra Martin, native to an already depressed Brooklyn neighbourhood, who was instrumental in bringing attention to Carter's case and precipitating his eventual release.

But what, you may ask, are the connections between these characters, and further, how is a Canadian so integrally involved?

The Canadian, multi-talented writer-producer-director Cheryl Foggo, who was guest-of-honour at said reception, is in fact the writer and director of Lesra Martin's journey. Cerebral yet entirely personable, Foggo has her own interesting journey, but more on that shortly.

Lesra Martin of Brooklyn was able to escape the ghetto grind when he caught the attention of visiting Canadian entrepreneurs while on an internship programme.
This meant eventually Lesra (a combination of the biblical Lazarus and Ezra) settling in Canada, where he
considerably augmented his then meagre education, fulfilled his eighth grade dream of becoming an attorney
and met and married the woman of his dreams.

He would also meet Reuben Carter, whom he first came across via a book picked up from a discount bin. The two
became fast friends - more like father and son - and of course, on the release of the movie, celebrities in their
own right. Lesra managed to parlay his fame into a lucrative and important career as a full-time motivational speaker.
But of course, journeys tend to cover valleys as well as peaks, and Lesra has had to deal with loss in his family,
including two brothers (one to AIDS, another to a shooting incident) and both of his parents.

These misfortunes, however, make his story more, rather than less, compelling, and the film ends with Lesra
"coming home" to face the things that have changed, as well as those that remain.

The Journey of Lesra Martin is but one arrow in a quiver full of interesting projects that Cheryl Foggo has undertaken.
One of the others is Pourin' Down Rain, a family memoir outlining Foggo's own multiracial heritage. It's a heritage
that incorporates Native American, African and European elements, and which geographically pulls in Bermuda, Oklahoma,
and Alberta, Canada, where her forebears established the northernmost Black community in the world in the early 20th Century.

Every Little Thing #9

Their best shots
UK photographer to organize summer programme for inner-city youth
by Michael A Edwards Entertainment Editor
Sunday, March 05, 2006

Being exposed to the harsh realities of inner- city life in Jamaica, its easy to believe that the youth in
these communities have little to offer, and that their choices are limited to either a gun or a microphone.
But one British photographer, is aiming to get more inner city kids used to another object: a camera.

David Gill is a freelance photo-journalist, who has visited Jamaica several times, and has done assignemtns here
for the likes of Puma and VP Records. "I know it sounds horribly cliched, but I fell in love with the place,"
he recounts to Sunday Observer.

But its not the fairytales and moonbeams, idyllic country roads kind of love affair. Gill's previous assignments
include teaching tsunami-affected children the joys of photojournalism in Sri Lanka, chasing round the mountains
of Morroco hunting West African migrants on the run, and being "embedded" with the

Black Watch ops team and the Bomb Squad in Iraq.
And whether its football in Arnett Gardens, or a local dance in Spanish Town, Gill is every bit as fascinated by
Jamaican inner cities as he is with the other exotic locales.

So much so that, through an organization called Wee Fi' Life, based in London, Gill is aiming to do something about
the situation.
"What we envisage is an eight-week workshop, sometime in July, where we take some of the kids, teach them photography
, and then at the end of the period, rather than just have a static exhibition, which most of them won't relate to
anyway, we're going to give them the opportunity to become published photographers."
Photos by photo-journalist David Gill

To that end, Gill has secured the co-operation of UK-based style and imaging magazine Plastic Rhino (total readership,
as per its website: 50,000), which plans to run a special pictorial on the works of the young photogs. A similar document,
entitled No Place Like Home, was produced after the Sri Lanka tsunami experience.

Gill is working along with a number of vouluntary groups in putting the project together, including Children First,
Upliftment Jamaica and S-Corner. These organizations, he says, "are doing tremendous work, and it is good to have their
support. The whole welcome has been fantastic and its starting to come together really well."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Every Little Thing # 7 of 10

Michael Grant's Daylight Come

Portrait of a generation: Michael Grant's novel Daylight Come
Michael A Edwards Entertainment Editor
Sunday, April 02, 2006

For the average Jamaican today, in a population largely under age 40, the thought of Jamaica during the WWII years
is near impossible to conjure up: food and gas rations, young men going off to aid the war effort on behalf of the
Empire, all this as the then colony lurched toward self-determination.
Michael A Grant is an advertising executive and lecturer in Advertising and Visual Communication at UWI.

Add to that the growing contest between American and British interests in the Caribbean, which were intensified during
the war as well as in its immediate aftermath, and one has the ingredients of a compelling and little told story.

It is that story, or his own approximation of it, that marketing executive and designer Michael Grant seeks to tell in
his book, Daylight Come. Grant, a child of the Independence period, presents an engaging portrait of the generation that
predeced his, as symbolised by the protagonist, Peter 'Pico' Campbell.

The reader first sees Campbell in two extremes, as a young promising athlete, and then in a 'flash-forward' as an aging
picaresque, hardened by drink and the ravages of his wartime experiences but still holding on, beneath the cynicism to
some vestigal thoughts of his own prowess (both sporting and sexual).

Part wartime suspense thriller, part social studies treatise, part character sketch Daylight evolved out of the author's
mutlifaceted literary and historical interests "I was always drawn more to cultural history than political history," Grant
says in explaining the novel. "My father was a young boy at the height of WWII and I was fascinated about what Jamaican life
would have been like during that time."

For Grant, there is an extent to which characters like 'Pico' Campbell write themselves. "What I sought to do with this story
is to plug an ordinary Jamaican - but one with a burning desire to get out of Jamaica, as indeed many of us have - and place
him in a fanciful situation and have him work his way through it."

Though the book is published on his own Great House Publishing imprint, Grant rebuffs any thought of it being a mere vanity
exercise; "What self-publishing did was give me a greater measure of control, but also a greater measure of responsibility.
I still had it edited and read professionally, and I had friends who were agents that I showed it to who graciously gave me
their unbiased feedback and recommendations.

As a 'Jamerican' (he was educated at top-tier schools in the US and worked in the media and communications indutries in
New York City), Grant believes that Jamaicans and Black Americans should enjoy closer relationships. "There's kind of a
distance, a kind of stand-off that I've observed and it shouldn't be that way. Some of the circumstances may have been
different, but culturally, we have a lot in common."

Daylight Come, in the mold of the folk song that informs its title, is a reflection on a time when, as Grant explains,
the society was less jaded, indeed more innocent than it is today.

His current project cuts across a number of time periods. It is a book about notable Jamaican men, called Changemakers,
along with well-known photographer Peter Ferguson.

Of his own decision, to leave the world of Madison Avenue and writing assignments with the likes of the Wall Street Journal
and the New York Times, to return home, Grant offers this explanation, "I understand what obtains here and I understood that
there was and is a cost to my decision, but I really believed it was time to come home. There is a point at which you can be
making money, but losing value."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Every Little Thing #6

This is one of my earliest credite pieces for the Observer

The Right Moment
-Sudio Art offers a look at the past

I am about midway through a conversation withthe urbane harclyde Walcott of Studio Art when her recalls
that it was one year ago to the day thatthe gallery, the only art gallery dedicated to photography,
opened its doors. "We should have had some wine or something"h e quips, not without a sense of gratification.
Indeed, Walcott, who along with photographer/owner Peter Ferguson, manages the gallery, has good reason to
celebrate. Within that 12-month span, Studio Artneatly tucked in among a plethora of office and commercial
suites along Old Hope Road, has made a clearly discernible impact on a gallery scene almost relentlessly
dominated by apinting

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Every Little Thing #5

The metrosexual male: looking good. and proud of it
All Woman writer
Monday, May 08, 2006

All Woman writer Michael A Edwards analyses a new type of modern man, one who gets a kick out of being fashionable
and well-groomed. It takes a certain level of confidence to go to the salon, especially in Jamaica, where 'real men'
don't get mani-pedis and facials or spend a day at a spa being pampered

This is the metrosexual era. As coined in 1994, by English journalist Mark Simpson, the metrosexual is defined as
'a dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but his urban lifestyle - a straight man in touch with his
feminine side.'

Thus, detailed personal care practices, from tweezing one's eyebrows to the use of special facial cleansers and
regular manicure-pedicure sessions, even the extensive use of lotion - all thought to be the preserve of the fairer
sex - are now part of the routine for many men. In particular, urban-based, upwardly mobile males are taking greater
care of their appearance.
Rubber Plantation owner Bill Morris (left) gets the full works, while truck company owner Leroy McCalla regrets he can
only come in once a month because at 51 he feels likes 26 after a day in the salon.

Of course, throughout the ages, there have been men noted for their fastidious devotion to proper grooming and personal care,
but the general reaction from their 'non-metro' colleagues and even from some womenfolk was derision. The obvious epithets
were levelled at them. They were 'soft', they were 'gay' and all the rest.

Today personal care for men is now the in thing. Hair, face and nail treatments are a habit for avowedly heterosexual men.
Along with personal care and grooming comes an affinity for social activities like the theatre, music not overwhelmed by a
'riddim' (though metrosexuals also appreciate dancehall and hip-hop and other modern forms).

Oscar nominee Terrence Howard was quoted as saying, "I'm glad we now live in an age where men taking care of themselves is
seen as a good thing." Naturally, critical and commercial success has given Howard access to the A-list among hairdressers
and personal groomers, but one can infer from his remarks that this was a development some time in the making. Others, like
Real Madrid footballer and married father-of-three David Beckham, have sported sarongs, diamond earrings and nail polish.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Every Little Thing #4 (of 10)

At Sea... and loving it!
BY MICHAEL EDWARDS Entertainment editor
Sunday, March 05, 2006

JUST getting an unobstructed view (save for the few ships inside the harbour channel)
of the expansive shoreline and cityscape of Kingston was worth getting out on what
would otherwise have been a sleepy Ash Wednesday morning.

The drawing card? Observing the ninth annual SuperClubs yacht race, in which sailboats
wend their way from the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club at Palisadoes and finish at the Morgan's
Harbour pier in Port Royal. It's roughly a two-hour journey by sail, considerably less if
your vessel (as ours, the Hayley Leigh does) depends on gas turbines rather than wind power.
Sailboats wend their way along the course. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)

Eventually, all are back on terra firma, where the fun continues. Lunch, courtesy of Morgan's
Harbour, is complemented by the breezy musical stylings of vocalist Sabrina Williams and accompanist,
Dr Kathy Brown on keybords.

Amid the trophy presentations, presided over by Morgan's Harbour chairman Neville Blythe,
there are creations from Dairy Industries (Tastee Cheese) and refreshments from Ocean Spray.

It's not the first boat back that actually wins, but rather like a motor rally or a golf game,
it's the boat which fares best after its inital time has been adjusted (depending on the handicap).

Every Little Thing #3

Da Vinci's Jamaican hideaway -  
  The all-inclusive lifestyle was hardly a thought during the original Renaissance
period, and the famed artist and inventor is long gone. But another type of awakening
has taken place on Jamaica's North Coast in the form of the splendid new-look (and new name)
Sandals Dunn's River Villagio Golf Resort and Spa - the 250-room property that has been given
an "extreme makeover" with very pleasant results.
The rooms are totally remodelled, some with jacuzzi baths and depending on the room category,
couples can each have a big-screen television for themselves. The Oceanview one-bedroom, for
instance, has a king-sized four-poster bed. And the high touch is matched by high tech:
Internet service available in all rooms or, if you wish to keep a check of your bill, you can
hook up to the TV monitor and have your information displayed on the screen

Monday, May 08, 2006

More 'Every little Thing'

The 'First Coming' Of jesus Fuentes
Prior to Sunday, he was essentially unheralded, but amid the breezy confines of the Pegasus hotel gazebo lawn,
Cuban reedman Jesus (that's hey-suss) Fuentes, ably supported by a vibrant (and energised) Jamaican combo, came
pretty close tro the miraculous and left a distinct feeling that there was hope for live improvised music.

With an unassuming yet self-assured air, he began, on tenor sax with classic bop in the form of Miles Davis'
Tune Up, and it proved entirely appropriate in light of what was to come.

Of the jazz standards, few lend themselves to soaring solos and intense group collaboration like Dizzy Gillespie's
A Night in Tunisia. Fuentes took off from the get-go, circular breathing and all, and the crackerjack band, realising
they were in the presence of a monster player, also caught fire. An intuitive and emotional player, Seretse Small
delivered his most intense yet nuanced playing on guitar in quite some time, as did guest percussionist Ouida Lewis
(who had earlier drummed and tapped her way into the audience's hearts in a solo stint). Matching them -sometimes
phrase for phrase, were Ozouni, with his soulful, percussive 'Monk-meets-Liberace' keyboard style, drummer Wendell
Lawrence (rapidly growing into one of the best) and bassist Carl Gibson. In essence, the group took what had to
that point been an unquestionably good show into the realm of greatness.

More transcendence would follow with their rendition of Latin master Chucho Valdes' sinuous Mambo Influencial and by
the time he donned the soprano sax for the whimsical Cubanito ( 'little Cuban', inspired by his young son) Fuentes
left no doubt that he is deserving of a return engagement.

Every Little Thing

Excerpts from articles published in the Observer

Glory to Glorianna movie
No Glory, No Grace

Self-promotion notwithstanding, the Gloria Minto profiled in the pages of this newspaper as one of the 2005 Business Leader nominees is a model of determination, resourcefulness and a certain noble striving for economic and social mobility against the formidable odds of social and gender prejudices and poverty.

That Gloria is largely absent from this production (the movie is said to take its cues from Minto's own memoirs, From Glory to Glorianna) and therein lies its downfall.

What the viewer gets instead is a kind of Royal Palm Unbound (the common players between both projects is not the basis for this assessment, but in some ways it doesn't help) with even less restraint than the already profligate and admittedly popular television series.

The feature begins with a party at the poolside of Hotel Gloriana and Spa, the heroine's crowning achievement. There, amid the paces of a reggae band and tedious close-ups of the copious food and drink on offer, Gloria reunites with 'childhood friend' Precious (more on her later) and the two repair to Gloria's pad for some reminiscing.

This is the vehicle through which the story is told, beginning with little Gloria, meeting her life's inspiration, Anna (who then goes 'poof' until the very end of the film), and losing her father (who 're-appears' at odd junctures with cloying doses of self-help verbiage) in quick succession.

Fast-forward to the teen Gloria, who is bewitched (our only conclusion) by Milton, the prototypical village ram, whose idea of a great first date is a drink and a dance at the local go-go bar.

After such an outstanding proposition, it's an entirely logical progression: they have sex, this time in the nearby river, and Gloria becomes pregnant. All of which greatly angers Betsy, Milton's former - and future - regular gig.

The main premise thus established at this point, the film gives us one more solid look at Gloria the entrepreneur and would-be success story when she decides to go into the Montego Bay market to sell oranges.