Home / Live Wire / Bourdain’s starter menu: Humble pie with foot-in-mouth; Live Wire dissects Sabga-Aboud’s apology

Bourdain’s starter menu: Humble pie with foot-in-mouth; Live Wire dissects Sabga-Aboud’s apology

One serving of humble pie with a side order of foot in mouth please? And can I get some olive oil to go with that?

The Trinidad and Tobago have-nots scored a rare but fitting victory today as Mario Sabga-Aboud, a prominent local businessman and respected member of the Syrian/Lebanese community, apologised for comments made on CNN’s “Parts Unknown” show with host Anthony Bourdain.

Photo: American chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain is the host of TV show Parts Unknown.

And by “fitting”, Mr Live Wire means that Sabga-Aboud’s apology to the “man on the promenade” was free, empty and non-redeemable at any of the Global Brands Group of Companies.

Oh gorm, Super Mario, you couldn’t give us a coupon for Pizza Boys self?

Anyway, lesson learnt and we thank you, Sir. Don’t do that again!

So, you might ask—if you were too distracted by arguably more important things like flooding in south Trinidad, the disappearing CAL subsidy, the cybercrime bill, murders, suicides, sport and virtually anything else in the news—what did Sabga-Aboud say?

Well Sabga-Aboud, over an appetising dinner and surrounded by members of the Syrian/Lebanese community, suggested to Bourdain that, although theirs was one of the smallest ethnic groups in Trinidad, it was “the most powerful, almost the most powerful.”

The ice well and truly broken, other dinner guests chimed with equally outrageous and hateful comments such as “Trinidad has been good to us and we know it” and “life has been good to us in Trinidad.”

Photo: I slaved all day over this… Well, maybe ‘slaved’ isn’t the best word…
American chef and tv personality Anthony Bourdain (centre) is a dinner guest of the Syrian/Lebanese community.

The unmitigated gall! So, wealthy people generally think life is good? Smh. It is just as we all feared. Thank God for Bourdain and his not-so-secret cameras.

Unsurprisingly, the statements brought howls of protest from many of the same Facebookers who, paradoxically, argued that Bourdain’s show did not make Trinidad and Tobago seem “inviting” enough.

The silver-haired Peter George suggested that the disappearing middle class meant eroded security for the wealthiest and civil commotion.

Those poor little rich people. It would take a heart of stone to not weep into his half-empty cereal bowl after the moving admission that our financial troubles sometimes provided uneasy dinner conversation for the “haves.”

So what could those poor rich people do for their own self-interest?

Well, they could create a NGO to offered start-up capital to everyday Trinbagonians, so as to further stimulate entrepreneurial activity in poorer districts and help social mobility. Or maybe invest more in sport and culture; or partner with programmes which ensure a more dignified standard of living for the have-nots.

Photo: A protest at Fanny Government Primary School.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

But then pro-activism is not really a Trinbagonian trait. Old talk and reactive behaviour? Now you’re talking!

Little did they know that Bourdain was not their only dinner guest that night. The have-nots—crafty buggers as always—managed to defy copyright laws and get their hands on the controversial exchange.

And boy were Trinbagonians hopping mad—yes, even the ones who spent inordinate amounts of time watching Cribs and religiously follow Love and Hip Hop and Basketball Wives—at seeing locals enjoy their wealth. Somewhere, someone reacted with that word which billionaires worldwide have so far been unable to outlaw as hate speech: Boycott!

And now the Syrian/Lebanese community was all ears.

So how do you pacify people who are offended by the truth?

Well, Sabga-Aboud could have offered to share copies of the Syrian/Lebanese manual on influence—presumably named “How to influence political parties and alienate workers.”

Or maybe free classes on “How to speak like rich people”, which would be useful on job interviews or loan appointments.

Perhaps, more reasonably, there is a conversation to be had involving Trinidad and Tobago’s various ethnic communities on how we can work together and emerge stronger from this financial crisis and bloodletting: Black, Indian, Syrian/Lebanese, Chinese, Carib… and everything in-between.

Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

How can food glue us together if we don’t eat at the same table?

The rising tide of ultra all-inclusive parties means we don’t fete together anymore; the expansion of private schools—from kindergarten straight to tertiary level—suggests that fewer and fewer children from Goodwood Park will ever have the weird pleasure of sitting alongside a student from Valencia, Tunapuna or Penal in secondary school.

Ironically, Sabga-Aboud proved his Trinbagonian credentials by opting for the quick-fix: a short apology—he described it as “sincere”, which is a sure indicator that it wasn’t—that he did not even read himself or take questions on.

Luckily, Mr Live Wire was able to witness the crafting of Aboud-Sabga’s apology, satirically-speaking:

(The Making of the Mario Sagba-Aboud apology)

June 28th, 2017

(Honey? Honey! I wrote tomorrow’s date. Now they will think we have a time machine too! Hahaha. What? Steups. Why I must take it out? I didn’t want to write this damn letter in the first place! What am I apologising for?! Why they don’t ask Darryl Smith or Sinanan or Shamfa for an apology?! Steups. Alright, alright. Well, let me just write the damn thing, then…)

Dear Have-Nots,

Members of the Working Class,

Fellow Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago,

Photo: Wait… What?!

(Honey, you think that opening sounds pompous? Why? But I always wanted to make a King’s Speech… What do you mean if I think I am John Rahael?! Steups. I’m keeping it!)

On the recently broadcast CNN show ‘Parts Unknown’ I used honest careless words in referring to the standing of citizens of Middle Eastern descent in our society and ended up making you feel bad misrepresenting myself and my values.

I have never taken for granted the blessing to be a born and bred (Honey, what’s the word I am looking for? Nah, that will get Tobagonians upset with me. I know David Rudder had it in that nice song but he is so ‘yesterday’. Everybody only listens to Sunny Bling now. Sunny Bling doesn’t sing? Look just tell me the other… Oh ho. Right, thanks…) Trinbagonian.

I am, and have always been humbled by the opportunities and support I have received in my over 30 years in business in T&T.

Over these many years, I have met with many people across the wider society who in one way or another have positively impacted and enriched my company life. This is testament to the amazing people of this country and as a Trinbagonian 🙂, I cherish that and I offer my deepest apologies to anyone whom choked on their haterade I offended.

Photo: Rituals owner Mario Sabga-Aboud.
(Copyright Aldwyn Sin-Pang/Rituals)

I always treat with minimum wage appreciation, love and respect the members of my staff, many of whom work for are like my family because they have been with me for over 25 and 30 years, and are fundamentally the reason for my accomplishments. (Honey, I can keep that last bit right? Why not? But we are like the Starbucks of the Caribbean?! Steups. I’m keeping it!)

This was a regrettable moment because I knew Parts Unknown doesn’t show on basic cable and didn’t realise everyone would see it where my excitement led me to misrepresent myself as boastful instead of proud. (Honey, if you see what I just wrote at the end of that sentence to screw with their sensitive little souls! Hahaha. What you mean? But, it’s a riddle… I bet you they don’t pick that up. Just watch!)

Though I cannot retract my words, I hope that you all recognise my frustration remorse and get back to work… How much damn holidays does June have anyway! accept my sincere apology.

Yours truly,

Mario Sabga-Aboud

Chairman

Rituals Coffee House, Pizza Boys, Church’s Chicken, Wok n Roll, Vie De France, Donut Boys, the VIP Flyers Club… (What?! Why not to list them? You think they’re so serious about that boycott in truth? Steups…)

Global Brands Group of Companies

PS: Allyuh buy coffee from me nah?! (What?! I heard a nuts man say that at a football match once. It would play really well with the working class people… Steups. Okay honey. 🙁 )

AboutMr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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218 comments

  1. So how many people are going to boycott establishments and products sold from his and his family’s companies? Or are we just going to rant on facebook because he stated “in a weak moment” what he and his family truly believe.

  2. Every country have challenges but you dont see their citizen make documentary telling the world on main stream TV in America thing they have no authority to do.I believe their is a conspiracy to destroy the small island of T&T by the people who came and get rich. Sitting in my loving room in the US look at the documentary it was distasteful. Trinidad and Tobago tourism company try very hard to sell Trinidad as a great vacation destination and some idiots citizen trying to destroy it, That is not cool the damage is already done .

  3. He’s right…

    As long as blue crab Indians and Africans continue to fight each other and buy into the invented race construct, as well as buying into this two party system that is an illusion of democracy, they will be under heavy manners and own nothing

    From your own family members to others can’t work together

    Everyone wants to be better or show off on their fellow trini, no one wants to see people rise and support each other

    The Syrian communities build each other, when will the other communities do the same?

    Wake up

  4. There is an apology and then there is ‘ oh God man, ah really sorry…….and I mean it. I just made an ass of myself and my whole community. And you know what? Ah sink a whole setta politicians and power brokers while I was stating the facts…the true facts, not the make up facts’. You think he will boast within his community quietly next time while they drizzle dey olive oil?

  5. Drama….
    Haters gonna hate
    I agree it’s not a real apology.
    I also think his comments were half true because they are from the perspective of wealth and implies that the wealthy don’t see themselves as part of the problem in the equation or have a role in it.

  6. Where are all my trinidaayedian people!!! Put your humus up in the air!!!!!

  7. STATE SANCTIONED POWER

    Many of you have jumped for the jugular of the Syrian/Lebanese community for boasting on Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that they are the most powerful group in our country, forcing an apology from Mario Sabga-Aboud.

    But let’s face it they didn’t lie, and, finally they said it themselves. For years this country pointed fingers accusing them of being responsible for the drugs and small arms trade, and, apparently, we got a confession from them through Bourdain.

    However, unlike many of you who are on the war-path calling for a boycott of the Syrian business’s I fail to see why. After all we were contended patronizing their businesses despite our perception that they were putting guns and drugs into the hands of our vulnerable children, therefore, I can hardly see how by simply boast of their power warrants a boycott.

    Therefore, one must ask the question whether we are taking our angry out on the wrong people, or, whether we are apologists/fanatics, and as such, refuses to accept that this “power” has been “sanctioned by the State”? Permit me to remind you that only recently the Chaguaramas lands were lease at a peppercorn rate to John Aboud and others mere days before the general election 2015. Moreover, the leases was declared legal contrary to what was originally believed by citizens because of the 1974 CDP but the PP government created a master plan to sign off the leases under.

    I cannot afford to be indifferent and a hypocrite with the truth, at least, not when I see what this power handed to a select few is doing to this country. Do you think this power would have been possible without corrupt public officials, political influence and white collar crime……..damn I forgot, they worked hard for their money and we have the FIU to thank for that.

    There is so much to be learnt from this documentary, if only, we weren’t fanatics.

  8. I’m sorry but I really can’t be mad at these statements. It’s a tough pill to swallow but the reality is: we put them there. And now we taking days off work(and we already poor) to protest and blistering our thumbs making comments instead of attacking the thing that gives them the gall to make such statements: their business interests. It’s time one and all to stop the tribal divide, stop the job dependency and start taking back the freedom and competitive nature that is a mixed market economy. I’m sure they have enough money (and know how) to move to another emerging country (see Guyana) and making it their new economic power hub while selling off their Trinidad investments to the government for them to mismanage and leave us in the dark. Let’s start doing business with one another and make this nation prosperous

  9. Another reason why we are moving house again… Hope you get on. Let me know…

  10. Oh plleeeaassseee! You really thinks he means that? They have noticed that Indians & Africans were uniting against them. If that happens they dead.
    So they’re trying to nip it in the bud. Don’t fall for that.
    Wake up! UNITE! BOYCOTT!!

  11. Tell sabga hull he ……………………………

  12. Bwahahahhaha! I am so in love with your writing style. Well said!!!

  13. Why is it dated tomorrow’s date. I’m taking that as another insult.

  14. Look I truly don’t see all the fuss. Aboud is right and he is not lying about how good Trinidad & Tobago has been good to his people. We spend lots of money in their establishments. You have to be living under a stone to see who runs what and who love to fight with who in this county. I was not invited, included nor informed about Bourdain’s visit…. Bourdain could say what ever he likes for my part because I’m still living from paycheck to paycheck, still hustling to live and take care of my family. I’m staying in my lane!!

    • Bravo! Bravo! Daynelle Williams Noel.
      People does only get upset when you tell them the truth.
      Aboud is spot on in his comment, say what you want about how they keep their money in the family, they’re the economic powerhouse of this country.
      All who don’t like it needs to shut up and make the necessary changes.

    • Daynelle Williams Noel I hear you but staying in your / our lane will never bring about any changes, if Uriah Butler and Martin Luther stayed in there lane where do you think the working class and other oppressed persons would be right now.

    • Yes Rianna , you are quite right but in my mind citizens quarreling about what was said does not alter what Aboud said, what he thinks and definitely does not change our status in this country. Who are the people who can go into a bank and get a loan, who runs the real estate sector and owns many businesses. I’m staying in my lane because my stressing about their comments does not add $1 to my pocket!
      Additionally, I heard there was a 1 day protest against Aboud… Since the alleged IAM incident last year, I haven’t visited their establishments because the cloud of suspicion hasn’t moved. Yet everyday Trinis head in to see their goods. How many citizens would stand up because of Aboud’s comments and stop supporting them where it hurts…..!! Ah!!! So why get angry on Facebook?

    • Thank you Daynelle Williams Noel. There are some businesses I do not patronise, out of principle. Grocery, pharmacy, hardware store etc. Wish peoole would think a lil more.

    • Daynelle Williams Noel like you have a hammer with pinpoint accuracy? You hitting the mark every time.????

    • Adding to your puissant comments Daynelle Williams Noel the present and past governments also contributed to their success and have given them the necessary power that they have. Manning once said he will redistribute the wealth of the country. He and Basdeo Panday tried to break the backs of the Syrians but failed. Manning’s mistake was he gave the bandit elements the big contracts in the black community, this was a colossal mistake. He did not empower and educate the black community, to properly invest and secure a proper future for all. Governments keep having secret meetings with these groups, they pump lots of money into their campaigns so that the party could buy jerseys, rum and roti to share with whom? You guessed it, us the masses to get our votes and keep they keep getting our votes because of our ignorance. When the wealth has to be shared who gets the bulk? Not those who got the jersey, rum and or roti but them that invested their money. We need to know that our votes are costly and if any party needs the seat of power they have to start properly investing in our communities.

  15. Btw…Peter George owns Sportsmans casino on the Avenue.

  16. Mr Live Wire spot on. I would have preferred that you refer to the African community as African and not “black”, just as you were able to distinctly name the other ethnicities that exist in Trinidad and Tobago. Thanks!

  17. Lasana Liburd, you’ve made it into my book of quotes, “pro-activism is not really a Trinbagonian trait. Old talk and reactive behaviour? Now you’re talking!”

  18. So know one is outraged by his classless boastful comments that we are the smallest of all the ethnicities but the most powerful,wealthiest and I own a 120 restaurants. What a child, no wonder we continue to have issues.

  19. A man, full of audacity, just disdainfully peered down at me and scoffed “You’d have to be a devout bushman to not have known this confessed, open secret…. much like not knowing that law enforcement officers and members of the protective services as well as politicians all know where the drugs and arms are coming from”. He then sauntered off while reciting the lyrics to Rudder’s 2017 hit song… “Welcome to Trinidad… we have de goods…”

  20. His statement came right out of a scene from
    The Godfather. Using the word “powerful” not wise.

  21. Oh gorm Linda’s too??!! Goddamn it!!

  22. Yeah …. buh it better dan none.
    And not for nothing eh, but almost 100% of all apologies are insincere and meant only to smooth over the tension created by faults.

    Leh we keep it lil real.

  23. Well there goes my letter to the Editor. The apology is nothing short of a corporate CYA, verbal platitudes directed at the masses, in equally copious amounts as was the disdain passed around at the dinner table.

  24. Patricia Smart There goes Linda’s Bakery as well.

  25. Hey guys why fuss the man spoke the truth thats it

  26. Out of the abundance of the heart , the mouth speaks

  27. Steups. Girl, go your Trotters yes. There are many good reasons to hold boycotts in T&T. I don’t think this is one.

  28. Oh gorm…..I eh goh lie, ah like Trotters….boycotting dey goh take real constitution…..damn it!!

  29. I’m not knocking anyone for being offended eh. Just saying there should be consistency. And we should try to be the change we want to see.
    (Okay. I’m coming off the soapbox now! )

    • As I stated before on another space (twitter) I was not offended by their statements…but for me it was an eye opener, a necessary reminder… Now that we are all reminded of how things go in Trini and who really running the show it is up to us to figure out how we will react. The ball is in our court. Simple.

    • Nothing has really changed. People should try to improve their lives, just as they should have been doing before this show. Is there fresh perspective now?

    • I think a reminder is always needed. Yes it has been this way for quite some time…but there’s just something about hearing it with your own ears in the manner in which it was said. Sometimes it’s not what you say but How…I also think there’s resentment because many believe that the way in which they (not them particularly but them as a whole) accumulated their wealth over the years is nothing to brag about…so when you put everything together in thr pot the stew is hot indeed.

  30. I wonder how many of the people who wanted to boycott Sabga-Aboud speak about their brothers and sisters from Laventille and Beetham…

  31. What we could take away from that unfortunate segment is the family thinks it’s superior, what the Sabgas should take away from it is the value of a good publicist.

  32. I don’t watch love and hip hop, but I watch those Kardashians and I love seeing them enjoy their wealth and secretly wish I was like them…. But not all rich ppl should be able to demonstrate that…. Especially the rich Syrians for Trinidad and Tobago. At the same time, my feelings were almost hurt by the admittance that the middle class provided a bufferzone for the rich.

    • As Bob said, the truth is an offense but not a sin. I just hope we are aiming for more than apologies–be they sincere or not–when it comes to inequalities.
      But I like how Mario gave us some fancy footwork there. Lol. Too precious.
      Taking the time to mamaguy us after we got our insecure feelings all over him just shows he cares! (Right? Lol)

    • it was not an error, what’s in one’s heart comes out of ones’ mouth, That’s exactly how they feel and see Trinis. Apologize, Trinis are your customers. Without them there’ll be no you.

    • Oh, PLEASE. We talk a good talk but Satan knows we’re full of it.

    • Now that the apology is in you can stop this talk of boycott and continue impoverishing your community by spending down to your last dollar outside your community. Ok 99%

  33. Of course he apologized, he gone on facebook the following day to see how people envy him and instead discover everybody lighting flamboux

  34. Bourdain looked curiously uncomfortable in the environment… when I saw this segment and listened to the conversation and the dinnerware etc…. I thought …. this shit really exists ….

  35. Lasana Liburd you asked about purple shirt. That is MArio. Black shirt is Peter George.

  36. I love this…but it’s funny as well. The ‘real’ parts of the apology letter that’s been scratched out.

  37. Well I had actually asked you eh! You come through late for me. ?

  38. Cool. He owns Trotters. Aioli. And is also a bookie.

  39. “The rising tide of ultra all-inclusive parties means we don’t fete together anymore; the expansion of private schools—from kindergarten straight to tertiary level—suggests that fewer and fewer children from Goodwood Park will ever have the weird pleasure of sitting alongside a student from Valencia, Tunapuna or Penal in secondary school.” this says it all thier can no national unity when we are alien to eat other a fact that allow Sabga to flourish.As for Mario why apologize you are the e;ite!

    • The segregation of schools concerns me. Don’t think it can be stopped. But I’m worried that we are creating an even more divided society for the future.

    • 20% privilege that denominational secondary schools reserve has always kept the children of the elite away from the dates their SEA and Common Entrance marks merited.

    • The elite don’t go to those schools much anymore. They go their own pay schools where it is 100% about privilege.

    • So you ate saying that society is becoming more rareified and exclusive; and pretty soon, like in five years arc will be like ELDO or Barataria senior sec?!

    • QRC and CIC are already on their way there. Those schools are the best of the rest now. Bear in mind some of the most outstanding students have come from poorer homes anyway.
      But certainly the elite in general no longer send their children there.

    • So maybe I should degrade the top schools. It’s not like the elite ever had the monopoly on brains. But the school system is more segregated now.

    • I have seen no one writing on that. Far less… This my first time seeing mention of it.

      Reminds me of a post I was going to write today.
      Trinidad to me is now at the beginning stages of what Nicaragua, Mexico, Columbia were in various previous times from the 80s on… A he heinousness of crime. The egregious separation of classes… And the societal poverty to ensue. All of it unfolding here I see

  40. Cause we’re all so naive that we believe altered words equal an altered mentality?