Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Portlandia, Parts Unknown: Jamaica

Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018
Anthony Bourdain Born: June 25, 1956, New York City, NY, Died: June 8, 2018, Strasbourg, France. You were loved, respected and You will be missed. Walk good in Parts Unknown. 

I watched “Anthony Bourdain - Parts Unknown: Jamaica” and I did not like it, I thought it was generic, one dimensional, predictable, lazy television at its very best. I grow tired of the overseas press and their hatchet job when it comes to Jamaica because they always go for the Lowest Common Denominator to get ratings. It is not that what was shown was lie, I am not saying the show misrepresented the facts, the show did highlight one aspect of real life in Portland, Jamaica, it showed that Portland is a parish standing still in no man’s land waiting like the phoenix to rise from the ashes but I will return to that in a moment. If the only purpose of the show was about saving Winnifred Beach then put a feather in your cap, mission accomplished but other than that it was a negative portrayal of my beloved country and those are dime a dozen. Us Jamaicans often take pride and joy at how best we can highlight Jamaica's various problems. Which is why I value the person who can find and highlight the positive things about us, finding the negative is far too easy.

Anthony Bourdain -Parts Unknown: Jamaica gave the movers and shakers of Portland the opportunity to come across like idiotic pompous twits and they did not disappoint they were more embarrassing than Carl “Goat eye” Bradshaw (Chris Blackwell’s little Minion) and the poor uneducated fishermen squaring up to fight each other over differences of opinion. I was more embarrassed for these rich educated people who came across as people who were totally void of class, chief among them was The Honourable Michael Lee-Chin, OJ who acted as if he was filming an episode of MTV cribs with himself as the Mac Daddy with his entourage of name brand single brain cell, mannequins muppets around the dinner table where Chris Blackwell acted as if he was the Godfather himself, Don Vito Corleone …

In that regard, if one was to substitute Vybz Kartel and his Ghetto Gaza muppets with these rich educated fools then the effects would have been the same, low class is low class regardless of wealth. I was always thought that the vulgar display of wealth was a very low class thing to do but these days Jamaica is a country filled with vulgar low class people trying to define themselves by their parade of wealth and material possessions. I know you are rich, your body of work is proof of that, your reputation is second to none, so you do not have parade it all the time, however great people think about the greater good and act accordingly.

In the end, a lot of people worldwide watched the show and began to superimpose Portland over Jamaica. Foreigners do have a knack of thinking about a country, defining an entire country using just a cheap snapshot of the lowest common denominator. I have met people who would make grand statements about Jamaica based solely on their drive from the airport to the all-inclusive hotel. As a matter of fact I was driving with friends visiting from the UK and every day we drove on the same main road to and from the beaches and restaurants that litter that main road. Everything was on the main road so there was no real reason to turn off the beaten path but after a while they started defining the entire country based only on their experience on that main road. I eventually had to ask how they came to that conclusion after just driving on this one main road for a week.

On my visits to the UK we often drive on one or two main roads but I have enough intelligence to know that I cannot define the entire UK based on my experience driving on the A38 or else that would make the UK a country that smells like manure, pig farms and littered with little chef restaurants as the only places to eat. I know every turn can leads to something different and excited and I also understand that every society is complex and multidimensional made up of different types of people in different socio-economic categories. This also holds true for the USA who has some of the worst murdering, cutthroat ghettos known to man and at times one must pass through them to get to somewhere good and safe.

From Wendy In Jamaica Blog
What was clear in the “Parts Unknown: Jamaica” and what I have known for some time now is that the Movers and Shakers of Portland are selfish, egotistical little twats who actually care nothing about the parish of Portland or the people of Portland and anyone who is looking for salvation from these people are delusional and will wait in vain because they will not save you or the Parish. That is not their intention because to them the parish is perfect the way it is. Chris Blackwell with his dated model of high end luxury developments was just laughable, it was clear that his plan for Portland was based on trickle down economics. All these movers and shakers love to declare their grand plans for my beloved Portland, they have been declaring this for a long time now but we have yet to see these plans converted into actions and that is because the plan phase gives them power over Portland. It is like the carrot on a stick and help them to maintain the status quo… that of Lord of the manor and keepers of the castle.

One of the main problems with Portland is the people of Portland, these people have been engineered to Sit, Wait and Complain (SWC) about the extra slow return of the Golden Age of Tourism to Portland, waiting like the phoenix to rise from the ashes. It is the number one conversation topic when you engage any of the locals about Portland. They all start to reminisce about the “Good” Old Golden Age of Tourism in Portland. Most of these people were not even born during this Golden Age of Tourism in Portland and to most of them the Golden age is nothing but hearsay, passed down from generation to generation, things they read in books, famous last names they still cling to but they still sit around waiting for its return nonetheless like Jesus at Easter… and I must ask …Why? To these People of Portland, the only purpose Portland serves, the only reason it exist on this planet is for tourism and if Portland was to reinvent itself then it must reinvent itself as a tourist destination and I continue to ask … Why?

The problem is the People of Portland are incapable of any sort of reinvention because they have not been educated to think or act outside of the box. If they were then Portland would have evolved a long time ago with or without tourism and beyond tourism, instead of the one horse town it still is today, most lack the imagination or innovation to change. Contrary to popular belief Portland was not placed on this planet to ONLY be a tourist destination but that will not change until the inhabitants change.

I seriously doubt that Portland will ever be a Mega Tourist Destination again and I seriously doubt the return of the Golden Age of Tourism to Portland, simply because it rains like hell in Portland causing the land mass to always be on the move. Not to mention the things that created the Golden Age of Tourism in the “good” old days no longer exist, it was a different time and place back then. The type of tourist that use to frequent Portland no longer exist. In its heyday Portland was filled with Royalty, Kings and Queens Princes and Princesses, Debutantes, Dukes and Duchesses, Sultans, Sheikhs and Statesmen, Portland was like Monaco back then. But those days are long gone and all we have left to attract, as far as tourist are concern are mainly low class vomiting vulgar spring breakers looking for a cheap generic vacation. I quoted the “good” old days because looking at the state of Portland today one must wonder who it was good for back then, certainly not Portland in general or  the poor ordinary people of Portlan, the Portlanders. Portland is now to Jamaica what Detroit Michigan is now to the USA, a once upon a time, use to be place of some importance.

Portland is living proof that economic and mental diversity is a must in rural Jamaica, that one should never put all one's eggs in one basket. The sooner the people of Portland disconnects themselves from this tourism pipe dream and evolve the better it will be because waiting for the Golden Age to return is nothing but stagnation. However what can one expect from a people who fish in the same spot day in day out until it is bone dry or a parish where it rains almost 300 days of the year but still faces drought conditions and block road in protest of such conditions. Portland is and will only be as good as the people who inhabits Portland.

Most Jamaicans believe that all development and advancement must come from and through the political class and a handful of people from the financial class. They believe that they are useless and worthless and totally dependent on these people to bring about change but people always get the political and financial class they deserve. Simple minded people always create simple minded leaders simply because the leaders themselves comes from the people. So if you want a better class of leaders then you need a better class of people. It is like cattle farming, where it is all about having the right breeding stock.

Contrary to what some might believe Portland is not without major Investments:
  • A major North Coast Highway was constructed to provide easy access to Portland, in the history of Portland getting to Portland has never been this good and plans are in place to continue the highway round the St. Thomas end. It was declared by the stake holders that nothing can be done in Portland until this was provided, it was provided and still nothing.
  • The Errol Flynn Marina was built in 2002 by the Port Authority of Jamaica and offers world class facilities for yachters.
  • The Boscobel Aerodrome was renovated and upgraded to “The Ian Fleming International Airport” in 2011, with the intention of handling small jets, international arrivals and to attract the high-end tourism market. It was declared by the stake holders that nothing can be done in Portland until this was provided, it was provided and still nothing.
  • The Trident Hotel was purchased and renovated along with the development of Gee Jam and as per Anthony Bourdain he was the only one in Trident at the time of filming.
  • Golden Dragon Hotel and Blue Lagoon were purchased and major renovation planned but it’s been over a decade now and the future of these entities still remains a mystery.  
Portland got more investments than a lot of other Parishes and still they complain.

I read today in the Gleaner where members of the Political class in Portland turn around and accused other members of the same political class in Portland of being incompetent but all I see is one set of simple minded incompetent people accusing another set of simple minded incompetent people which makes them look like retarded hamster on a wheel. I always wondered if the stakeholders of Portland ever get together as a working group to plan, plot and implement changes for the greater good of their parish, implement things that would be mutually beneficial to all or do they just see each other as cutthroat competitors.

True change, true development and advancement can only come from a people with high standards and high expectations, unselfish people who can think and act outside of the box, people with imagination and innovation who can work together for the greater good not behave like crabs in a barrel.

Hypothetical Proposal 
Specialization is the key, since the various Government departments and ministries must operate on a general level since it is cheaper and more efficient for them to do so. The tourist board for example continues to market a generic brand of tourism because to them it is much easier, as it would be too much for them to seriously market Jamaica by location, that is to be targeted and specific in their various marketing campaigns. They do not say come to Portland and feel alright instead they say come to Jamaica and feel alright. We all must agree that the central government cannot do everything so it is useless and futile to sit around and wait for them to do what we want them to do.

So who are the real stakeholders? The answer to that is “we the people” because when it goes wrong we are the ones who suffer, so the emphasis is on “we the people”. Yes we can sit around and throw the blame from person to person and from group to group but throwing around blame never solve anything yet and it is still “we the people” who will suffer the consequences for failed or lack of actions.

Every parish should have their own local version of the various Government ministries and departments that are of special interest to them, staffed with local stakeholders with the purpose of developing and pushing their own brand. These local non-Government ministries and departments should also get partially funding from the Government but mainly from the local private sectors and stakeholders because it is within their interest to not only support these local version of the various non-Government ministries and departments but to be members/advocates within them for the greater good.

For example the Parish of Portland have an interest in tourism, so the stakeholders in Portland should create The Portland Tourist Board with the sole purpose of developing and marketing Portland as a special brand. Portlanders should know more about Portland than a general generic tourist board located far away and so the owners of all the hotels and attractions in Portland should pool their resources for the greater good, put aside selfish greed and work together. If Portland had a flag or a brand symbol then I have always thought that a picture of Pellew Island should be on that Flag or symbol, to me Pellew Island is the iconic Symbol of Portland recognized worldwide.

Grassroots Development

My Favourite Parish: Portland

Villa-Villa who’s got the Villa?
What I also noticed happening in Portland is that what was once rented villas are now being used as weekend homes for members of the local moneyed class. Back in the days the primary purpose of these seaside villas was for wealth creation and employment through tourism, a lot of the villas were foreign owned and as such marketed and rented to tourist when the owners were not in the island but the local moneyed class does not play that game. I know of several owners from St. Andrew who make their monthly trips to their get-a-way seaside villa and some even carry along with them the household help and even the gardener instead of hiring local Portlanders. I had a conversation with one such person at Woody’s Low Bridge in Drapers who told us she brought her staff with her because she feels more comfortable with them and their level of work.

Portland: My favourite Place In the entire world, the best parish in all of Jamaica