Archives – February, 2007

A Pirate looks at Christmas . . .

A few weeks before last trip to Negril, I was doing some spring cleaning, getting the Love Shack ready for Christmas. Yeah, I was spring cleaning in November, make your judgments as you must.

Anyway, I came across a package of battery powered Christmas lights in the back of a closet, and a wonderful idea began to form like in “When the Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when the Grinch’s heart grows two sizes too big.

“I’m going to decorate my patio at The Castle with Christmas lights, just like Calico Jack would have done, all things being equal and stuff. Did I mention I drink when I clean?

Luckily I noticed some discoloration on the package before I stowed the lights in my rolling duffel bag. At first, I thought Rosie “The Cat” peed on the box, somehow punishing me for leaving her with the evil kid down stairs for a week, but, upon closer inspection, the battery pack had corroded, and all the wires and lights were fused together is a sticky tangle of yuck.

“Well, So much for Christmas lights,” I tossed them in the trash, but didn’t take them off my list.

A few days before my departure, I was in Target (pronounced: tar-j-A) picking up the few last things on my packing list, when what to my wondering eyes did appear? A huge bin of bargain basement Christmas lights! I took it as a sign and picked up a twenty foot strand for a dollar and ninety-eight cents.

Finally in my room at The Blue Cave Castle, I dropped my bags and plopped on the big bed. The salty evening breeze billowing the lacey white curtains, throwing gentle blue shadows around my familiar room. I could have called it a night right then, but I had plans. I walked into the bathroom, and was revived under the cool fat-water shower.

“Christmas Lights!” Popped into my mind, and running from the bathroom, I was barely dry before tearing into the small yellow box of colored lights. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any convenient power on the patio, and no way was I going to wait till tomorrow to pick up an extension cord.

So I looked around my place, and I found a socket near the big bay window that faced the Caribbean. Aahh, this was the perfect place to express my Yuletide spirit to passers by.

Aaaarrrrrggghhhh

I ran outside to view my handiwork, and I have to admit the lights looked fantastic. I sat on the Castle wall for a while with a cold Red Stripe luxuriating in my accomplishment. After ten or fifteen minutes I remembered I was expected over at Xtabi to meet up with friends for dinner. We had a date with some five star jerk at 3Dives, so I went inside to put on some good clothes.

“Woooooooo,” someone was shouting from somewhere behind me. I spun around to see a glass bottomed boat about thirty yards out on the sea, silhouetted black on black, I couldn’t make anyone out.

“Merry Christmas!” A woman’s voice shouted. “Love those lights!” 

I walked to the patio wall and waved, “AARRGGHHH! Merry Christmas Me Matey’s!”

“Thank You, Happy Christmas Pirate Mon!” replied a smiling Jamaican voice as they rounded the cliff and faded from sight.

Needless to say the lights were a big hit.

Vinny (~~)

1 Comment February 26, 2007

Oscar Weekend – And the Winner is?

It annoys me that they don’t say, “… and the Winner is …” Does it really make the fellow nominees feel any less like looooooosers? l-) I think not.

I bought Little Miss Sunshine this weekend, and it was just amazing. I laughed, I cried. I felt good because, in contrast, my family is normal, though we were a Volkswagen Bus bound family on many a road trip back in the 70’s. The characters were at once unique and archetypical, watching the film I wondered who I identified with the most. Was I the angry teen? The eccentric uncle? The over-zealous dad? Hmmm, at least I wasn’t the crazy dope smoking grandfather, not yet anyway.

I also picked up The Departed, it was excellent, but it was no Goodfellas, hell, it wasn’t even My Cousin Vinny. I think Marty went to the gangster well one too many times; at least it was the Irish mob this time. It just makes me laugh to portray Patriots fans as tough guys, talk about suspension of disbelief. My nephew Thomas could kick Leo’s ass.

OK here are my picks:

Best Picture – Little Miss Sunshine (it won’t win but it should)

Best Actor – Forrest Whittaker should win, but Will Smith will win.

Best Actress – The Queen chick should win I guess, but I didn’t see any of those movies. Penelope Cruz could win on general hotness.

Supporting Actor – Eddie Murphy – as long as it stops him from making those annoying fat suit movies.

Supporting Actress – That girl from American Idol.

Best Director – Paul Greengrass for United 93 but that suck-up Scorsese will win.

Best Screen Writing – Michael Arndt and Sacha Cohen

Animated Film – Cars – Aidan helped me with this one.

Best Documentary – Better known as the Americans Suck Category – Big Al is gonna win, and he will probably be so obviously trying to look un-tree-like, it will be fun to watch.

Best Foreign Film – Who cares you can’t figure out what the hell they’re talking about anyway.

Best Song – I think its unfair that Dreamgirls has three of the five nominations.

Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment February 24, 2007

Published: The Traveler’s Pen

The Traveler’s Pen, has published an excerpt from one of my current projects “Springtime in Negril.”

‘pon de Sea with Famous Vincent by Vinny Bogan

With another to be published in the following weeks.

Thanks to Zach Caudill and staff at The Traveler’s Pen!

Peace (~~)

Vinny

Leave a Comment February 20, 2007

Getting Stoned With Savages – Book Review

Buy this book!

J. Maarten Troost is a delightful writer. His books are topical, funny and engaging. Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu is great summer/vacation read.

A DC bureaucrat type recently back from the adventure on an atoll in Kiribati, Maarten and his lovely wife have a hard time adjusting to the suburban lifestyle. So when an opportunity with the UN calls his wife back to the South Pacific, Maarten goes along and finds himself in Vanuatu.

He’s my kind of guy, he explores, he mingles with the locals, all while writing his first book and drinking copious amounts of kava, the hallucinogenic party drink of the South Pacific. He travels around the islands looking for people with personal knowledge of “eating the man” (a.k.a. cannibals), and tells a hilarious story of an encounter with a giant man-eating centipede.

Just when you’re roaring through the pages, his expecting wife and he go to the slightly more civilized Nation of Fiji in search of proper neo-natal care. In Fiji he still has some adventures, while sharing the wonderment of new parents in this strange land.

I hope he continues to write, I look forward to his next book.

Vinny (~~)

1 Comment February 11, 2007

Hooked on a Reef – Book Review

Diane Bostwick’s book, Hooked on a Reef, is the story of a Palm Springs playboy Steve Warren, and a young Jamaican anti-hero named Denzel.

Steve comes to Jamaica to make it big in the supposed boom times in post-independence Jamaica by taking over a beach front Montego Bay restaurant. Things don’t work out exactly as planned, enter conflict, as Denzel wheedles his way into the world of the Reef Club.

The book does a nice job with the history of Jamaica on those years (late 60’s to mid 70’s), going into a lot of details of how Jamaica changed with the Michael Manley administration’s move towards socialism. There are not many resources with this kind of information in the US, and I found it very interesting.

Normally I’d like a guy like Steve, he’s got cash, he dates hotty, high maintenance women, and he comes to Jamaica for fun and profit, but there’s a class-ist thread that runs through the characters and the entire story that just put me off.

Maybe it’s my libertarian world view, maybe it’s my Irish blue-collar upbringing, or maybe it’s my experiences in Jamaica that puts a bad taste in my mouth when class is brought to the fore.

So I recommend this book as an historical piece, Diane Bostwick seems to have real first-hand knowledge of those times and events, but I pan it for the class-ism that runs through it.

Vinny :)

Leave a Comment February 11, 2007

Banana Shout “The Book” – Review

Banana Shout is the great novel of Negril, and Mark Conklin the grand old man (well, not that old).

I first heard of the book on my April ’04 Trip to Negril, and the day I got home I went to Amazon.com to order me a copy.

About two weeks later Irene Conklin, Mark’s wife, emailed me to thank me for ordering the book. She also asked me when I planned on coming back. I told her I was thinking of an October ’04 trip. Banana Shout, the resort, moved to the top of my list.

When the book arrived I tore into it. By this time I was a full fledged boardie, and I was hungry for anything Negril. I read the book twice in a three weeks, after which I stuffed it into a FedEx envelope, and I sent it to my buddy Nick so he could read it before our October trip.

The book is a lot of fun, a light hearted romp though the trials and tribulations of finding one’s way in the world. The story of our beleaguered hero Tavo Gripps makes us all wish we had discovered Negril years earlier. Crazy wannabe pirates, an eccentric bar owner, and even unfriendly drug dealers, but Tavo wins the day. You gotta love that!

Now, as a piece of literature Banana Shout may not stack up with Twain or Melville, but in spirit and tone it captures the essence of Negril in the early years. It is the quintessential history of Negril, albeit in a quazi-fictional format. Nowhere else will you read of the early years; the development of Negril from a “sleepy fishing village” into a resort town. This is it.

I did stay at Banana Shout in October ’04 right after hurricane Ivan, and I had the honor of hanging out with Mark Conklin as he managed the rebuilding of the resort. It’s under new management now, but on my last visit it looked as good as than ever.

You Rock Mark (~~)

Vinny :)

1 Comment February 11, 2007

Banana Shout “The Book” – Review

 

Banana Shout is the great novel of Negril, and Mark Conklin the grand old man (well, not that old). 

I first heard of the book on my April ’04 Trip to Negril, and the day I got home I went to Amazon.com to order me a copy.

About two weeks later Irene Conklin, Mark’s wife, emailed me to thank me for ordering the book. She also asked me when I planned on coming back. I told her I was thinking of an October ’04 trip. Banana Shout, the resort, moved to the top of my list.

When the book arrived I tore into it. By this time I was a full fledged boardie, and I was hungry for anything Negril. I read the book twice in a three weeks, after which I stuffed it into a FedEx envelope, and I sent it to my buddy Nick so he could read it before our October trip.

The book is a lot of fun, a light hearted romp though the trials and tribulations of finding one’s way in the world. The story of our beleaguered hero Tavo Gripps makes us all wish we had discovered Negril years earlier. Crazy wannabe pirates, an eccentric bar owner, and even unfriendly drug dealers, but Tavo wins the day. You gotta love that!

Now, as a piece of literature Banana Shout may not stack up with Twain or Melville, but in spirit and tone it captures the essence of Negril in the early years. It is the quintessential history of Negril, albeit in a quazi-fictional format. Nowhere else will you read of the early years; the development of Negril from a “sleepy fishing village” into a resort town. This is it.

I did stay at Banana Shout in October ’04 right after hurricane Ivan, and I had the honor of hanging out with Mark Conklin as he managed the rebuilding of the resort. It’s under new management now, but on my last visit it looked better than ever.

You Rock Mark (~~)

Vinny :)

Leave a Comment February 11, 2007

Walk Good – Book Review

I read Walk Good, written by fellow Negril-aholic Roland Thomas Reimer, on two successive trips to Negril. On the first trip I read it cover to cover, and on the second I went straight for the dog-eared highlights trying to decipher the code of names changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

I’m writing this review the way I write most of my stuff, as if everyone reading this has already read the book and knows all about Negril, but for everyone else, Walk Good is a two-hundred and sixty-two page vacation. You go to the airport, you take a trip on “The Road to Negril,” and you meet myriad unique characters all along the beach in Negril. Roland uses the literary device of an extended Negril vacation with many vivid flashbacks, and a few interludes into Jamaican history to tell his story.

I loved how the book spoke my language; the language of a guy who loves Negril. The book’s dedication lists my friend Rob Graves, and all the boardies of Negril.com. Hey, I’m one of them! And Roland was one of us, although I was yet to discover the Negril.com Message Board when the book came out.

The Jamaicans are described realistically, but if you haven’t been to Negril you may think some things are over stated. I assure you he’s spot on. Roland treats the Jamaicans with respect, an important commodity for people who “get it,” and something Jamaicans can smell as soon as they meet you.

When I talk to my Negril-nut friends, the subject is often a question our friends and families constantly ask: “Why do you keep going back there?” Walk Good, in giving the reader an “in your bones” feel for that little strip of land on the tip of Jamaica, answers that question.

So I recommend buying the book, taking a flight to Negril Jamaica, and reading Walk Good on the beach.

Thanks Roland ^:)^

Vinny

6 Comments February 11, 2007

Ground Hog Day!

So you know what that means…

I’ve been back in Philly for about six weeks, I’ve barely unpacked, my loud Hawaiian shirts are still at the cleaners, and I’m already planning my next trip.

Ground Hog Day!

At least I spend my never ending day in sunny Jamaica not in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, which other than February 2nd is a pretty boring place.

This next trip is looking like a May/June solo trip with a different twist. I’m still in the early planning stages, but I’m thinking about ten to twelve days, no computer, backpack only, a whole island oddessey.

Day 1: Arrive in Mobay and off to Falmouth or Brown’s Town. Stay cheap, no reservations.

Day 2: Nine Mile to Bob Marley’s Mausoleum. The off to Port Maria or Orcabessa for the night.

Day 3: Port Antonio, Boston Beach, on to Long Bay.

Day 4: Blue Mountains, Morant Point Lighthouse.

Day 5: Kingston, stay in Port Royal or maybe move on to May Penn.

Day 6: Mandeville, Christiana, Central Plains.

Day 7: Accompong, Maggoty, Treasure Beach.

Day 8: Take an internal route to Negril.

Day 9 & 10: Negril, Negril.

I’ll plan to travel by route taxi, (at least as much as possible) sleep in guest houses and small hotels, eat roadside food, and local cuisine.

… and of course hitting an internet cafe every day to blog about the experience.

I have tons of research yet to do, but this is the thumbnail sketch.

Any suggestions?

Vinny O-+

Leave a Comment February 2, 2007


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