November 2, 2017
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If you live on the eastern side of the island you see them every day – men and women in light blue shirts and khaki pants holding tin cans in the shape of a church. They wait patiently for donations, a few hundred dollars a day coming from regulars who know the work these extraordinary men and women do. They are the members of Ambassador Chorale and the money they raise helps to house, feed, clothe and teach those who have fallen through the cracks or whose drug-sodden parents are incapable of caring for them.
What follows is not a soliloquy in print about whether Prime Minister Dr The Rt Hon Hubert A Minnis did the right or wrong thing when he pronounced “Bahamas First”, signalling no help for Haiti in the wake of an earthquake that took lives, destroyed buildings, left people homeless last weekend. Much has already been written about that.
At 3:30 yesterday CNN interviewed a man named Jeff Todd about a phenomenon called swimming pigs. Todd lives in his native Canada these days with his wife and twin daughters. He is in his early 30s, a former Nassau Guardian business editor, AP contributor, prolific journalist, author of three books and, of late, a serial Exuma promoter whose fascination is with the swimming pigs.
I first noticed this strange phenomenon when working at the National Enquirer and its sister paper, the now-defunct Weekly World News. We humans are like passengers. When a new celebrity or sports hero appears on the scene we climb onboard, celebrating their talent, commenting as if we were experts on their particular skills. We watch them perform, applaud for them.
There is an almost inexplicable pleasure in cleaning out a drawer, a satisfaction that far exceeds what would seem appropriate for such a mundane task.
Remember when you were little and everyone asked if you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? You looked at them feigning respect and thinking what kind of idiot is this tall person in front of me? I’m six - my idea of the future is dinner! But as that six-year-old got older, the expectation that she would set goals became more ingrained. We grow up and long before there was such a thing as a bucket list, we were expected to set goals. What we want to be. Who we want to be. Eventually where we want to be. Even how many children we want to have.
Every woman could have written the beginning of this column. I did not. It was sent to me by someone close and special and it was too good not to share so I do so in the form in which it landed in my inbox.
As The Bahamas prepares for yet another state funeral and honours are bestowed on new deserving recipients, a man who brought joy and wonder to tens of thousands and fame to The Bahamas slipped quietly away almost unnoticed.
Some things are perfect just the way they are, even when we don’t understand why they are the way they are.
On the front page of this past Sunday’s New York Times was a photo of a large green area that at first glance could be a grassy knoll.
Every time I hear the Willie Nelson song “For all the girls I’ve loved before”, I find myself transposing the word “words” for girls. I am not sure why and it probably doesn’t matter. I am not denouncing the right to love girls and Willie has my blessing. Personally, I have loved a few myself – my daughters and granddaughters and had I thought of my late mother as a girl instead of a mother, I would have included her.
Officially, cricket is the national sport of The Bahamas. Officially, oatmeal without sugar and cream is really good for you.
This is a very personal story and, in some ways, it is a story about all of us.
At the southeast corner of Bay & Frederick Streets stands a store that seems to defy time. The sign above the door reads simply A BAKER & SONS, ESTABLISHED 1894. If you were alive when it opened, you would be 124 today and probably not remember the day it opened. But for most of the rest of us, we cannot remember a time when it did not exist nor when we were not fascinated by the fact that it remains, a survivor of the days when men’s shirts and baby clothes shared the same kind of tight plastic see-through protective wrapping.
A CHILD cries out, her outstretched arms clinging to her mother as officials tear her away, her tiny trusting fingers nearly ripping Momma’s skin holding on for one last futile second. Her mother’s pleas go unheeded.
WHEN I wrote a column last week that started with the words - shame on me - I was fighting back tears. I am a Bahamian citizen and as guilty as every one of us who stands by and lets history crumble before our eyes. Earlier that day, I had stood in front of a building that once housed Pan American Airlines headquarters and realised, just as I had the Sunday before when a young friend and I pushed away the bush to get inside Blackbeard’s Tower, that we are letting our incredible history vanish piece by piece, decaying block by block, day by day.
Shame on me. I am a Bahamian citizen and I am sitting by and watching history crumble before my very eyes.
On Sunday, I threw away a Scrabble box that was more than 50 years old. It was hard to do because my parents’ hands had touched it. My mother died in 1965, my father the following year. That Scrabble box was one of the few remaining things I had with a trace of their DNA on it.
Lighthouses captivate our imagination and move us in a way we rarely stop to define. Maybe it is because they stand apart from all else around them - tall, proud, lonely, independent, dependable, a sentry that never needs sleep.
I went missing last week, not literally, but from the regular routine of work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, and found myself accidentally in small town America. How I got to where I’d had no idea I was going is probably the funnier part of the story, but the consequences of what I found when arrived were interesting enough to give pause for thought, a whole heap of pause, in fact, and the takeaway was both greatly satisfying and stomach-bubblingly unsettling.
Dear Prime Minister, Cabinet, Loyal Opposition . . .
If there were profit to be earned, some savvy entrepreneur would create an award that rewards the dumbest ideas ever. The scheme could work just like other awards, except it would be funnier. Like this letter which I received a little while back. It was sent to me by a well-known retailer.
There is a lot that many of you out there know about me. I’m the other side of middle age and stuck with too much energy for my own good. I say what’s on my mind. I have had a lifelong love affair with words and secretly confess that I spend ridiculous amounts of time thinking stupid thoughts like which is a better example of a double-middle-consonant verb that sounds like what it means, hobble or cobble. When you say the word hobble you immediately think of someone bent over, struggling for the next step. But when you say cobble as in cobbling a… anyway, you get the picture.
On Tuesday, my personal trainer, a man named Robert Hamilton, and I were walking. It’s what we do when I am too lazy to work out after a gruelling 12-hour day when I could think of at least a dozen things more preferable to push-ups and crunches.
“Hi, Joe on time for the call here. Anybody there?” Guess I’m a minute early, Joe thinks silently, hoping no one else remembers and it will all be over before it starts.
ONE day after a crowd of 800,000 descended on Washington in the March for Our Lives demanding stricter gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 students, wounding another 17, Remington Outdoor Company, America’s oldest manufacturer of arms and munition, announced it was filing for bankruptcy.
Where, oh where, did our attention spans go? I lost mine somewhere between the cell phone, Kindle, Surface and life. Hopefully, I did not put in the laundry with the week’s linens or sock it away in a drawer like I did one time with $100 bill that would have come in so handy had I remembered it when needed instead of years later by accident when I didn’t.
There is a phobia for just about everything. Fear of heights, fear of open spaces, fear of looking ridiculous, no just made that up. But the fear I find most relevant to all of us in The Bahamas is something I just learned the name of. It’s called Chronophobia and it is a fear of the future.
It’s official. As of this week, Jeff Bezos, age 54, is the richest man in the world and the first on Forbes magazine’s richest people list whose net worth tops $100bn. For anyone who has spent the last 20 years under a rock studying whatever lives u
Like thousands in The Bahamas, we have been glued to the TV since the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang started on February 9.
Many of my friends are of retirement age. But they don’t, retire that is. Why would you choose to work when you could choose to not work, a question that assumes the choice is not based on a need for money, but is strictly a personal one? The question intrigued me so I began to a totally non-scientific study. I asked about ten people, ten being a large enough sample to provide a clue that would have one of two outcomes – reaffirm my guess or be such an eye-opener as to qualify for revelation status.
Local drama aside for a moment, this was a very good week to watch history unfold and think about why some events move us, others shake us to our core and still others make us so proud we have to contain ourselves or we might just burst.
Bucket Lists interest me. I also feel threatened by them or maybe intimidated is a better word because I don’t really have a full bucket list and that makes me think I must be a pretty boring person.
Funny the things that cause you to think differently about a subject that was staring you right in the face all along. It happened to me recently. Late last Wednesday, I was heading to Florida.
We often talk about beautification, meaning planting flowers or adding greenery, lighting, benches in a pedestrian area. We include clean-up where appropriate, public art where possible, underground irrigation where affordable. But we rarely stop to think how the place we are beautifying got into the shape it did that required beautification in the first place.
Two funerals are scheduled for tomorrow, one for a toddler named Aidan Carron who spent the last year of his two-year life in a hospital battling the effects of therapy-related leukemia.
It is easy to say The Bahamas is at a crossroads. You could say that at the end of any year though a new year is only an artificial separation of one day from the next. Birds don’t mark the years, nor do wild animals. Man does it out of convenience to give us a moment to stop and reflect, to think about where we were and where we are going.
My late mother-in-law, God rest her soul, was such a worrier that one day when she had nothing to worry about, she confessed she was worried that she had nothing to worry about, as if she had overlooked some major reason for worry, and would regret it. She spoke about worry as if it were a place that should have been dusted but wasn’t and would be revealed to her extreme horror by distinguished guests later.
Down deep inside all of us behind our outwardly well-adjusted exterior there are conflicting wishes. We wish we could be a genius who invents something that changes the world or we wish we could be rich or thin or beautiful or best of all rich, thin, beautiful geniuses who invented something that changed the world. But we settle for what we are because either we believe we are ill-equipped to be anything else or we are ill-prepared to do the work required to become all those things we wish we were.
Photographers must be about the luckiest people in the world. When they don’t like the view they see, they can change a lens. 50mm to wide angle, 100mm to panoramic, 400mm to capture the hair on a hare. The price they pay is lugging all that special equipment around, tripod, camera bag, backdrop, cords and cables. But what a deal – a tiny bit of heavy lifting for the ability to create the view you want when it was not there the first time you looked at it, like magic in a leather bag.
The Bahamas holds an amazing array of records. From athletes who have run faster and jumped higher to world-shattering numbers of shark species in our 100,000 square miles of waters, The Bahamas shines. We exceed in sailing, singing and culinary arts. Our hotels are among the most famous on the globe, our fantasy islands among the most sought after, our beaches among the most dreamed of, some of our residents among the most noted or notorious.
You’ve probably never heard of Stella McCartney. I never had either, until she landed on the cover of my favourite business magazine, Fast Company, in October. McCartney, a famous fashion designer, it turns out, is known for her men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as shoes, bags, caps and even gifts.
History waits for no one and clocks do not stop because a loved one dies. Each time we lose someone who means something special to us in our personal lives we wonder what more we could have done for them before they passed or how we might have acted differently had we known their end was so near.
In 2005, a jaw-dropping California court ruling sent shock waves through a crowd of Hollywood A-listers.
IF you grew up anywhere near the water tower in the heart of Nassau or just east of Chippingham, there is a sound that you will always identify with a group of men having fun the old-fashioned way. They didn’t have guns or knives or utter predictably ugly multi-syllabic words. They had dominoes and the sound was the clack-clack of tiles in a game that involves a combination of skill, strategy and yes, a dose of luck.