Home / View Point / Earl Best / Media Monitor: Chalkdust in deh face? And who will guard the i95 guards? 

Media Monitor: Chalkdust in deh face? And who will guard the i95 guards? 

You would not have thought so on Revue opening night but the Mighty Chalkdust is going to be in the Big Yard once more on Thursday night. Still singing and competing mere weeks short of his 80th birthday, he produced a performance of “Murder frenzy” which would have gone down well with the Guaracara Park crowd—if crowd there had been.

I wish him well. But on i95.5fm, they are looking to start a new Chalkie controversy—around an issue that is at least a decade old.

Photo: Veteran calypsonian Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool.

“I really would like to know,” Tony Lee wondered out loud last week, “if Chalkdust is going to be judged by people he taught to judge.”

His interlocutor, the radio station’s Head of News Dale Enoch, could provide no answer; or if he could, he chose not to. Their on-air exchange took place not years ago or even months ago but on Friday’s edition of the Dale and Tony Morning Show.

If David John-Williams were still at the helm of football’s umbrella body, I would have guessed that the pair had just got back from a TTFA-sponsored junket. Perhaps to Mars.

Chalkdust, dubbed by a Caribbean Beat writer as “one of the greatest exponents of the calypso ever to draw breath,” joined the rank of the recognised calypsonians in 1967. He won the first of his nine Calypso Monarch titles in 1976 and, singing his eminently forgettable—and largely forgotten!—“My Heart and I,” copped his eighth in 2009.

Eight years later in 2017, he etched his name in calypso history when his “Learn from Arithmetic,” (also called “75 can’t go into 14,”) earned him crown number nine, one more than Sparrow.

It is a matter of public record that he also served “in the Ministry of Culture as a cultural officer and director of culture from 1993 to 1999.”

Photo: Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool performs “Learn from Arithmetic” at the Calypso Monarch final on 26 February 2017 at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
(Courtesy Wired868)

And HERE is Chalkdust writing in April 2011:

I took pains to inform Makaandal Daaga on the “Night of Shame” that the majority of Trinidad calypsonians depend solely on a few composers who themselves compose for a number of artists in other islands, instead of being prepared to come to a training session and learn the art so as to improve themselves. It has been over five years now that Duke and I have offered our services to TUCO, the NCC and the Ministry of Culture, imploring them to allow us to conduct calypso classes, but to no avail.

I certainly don’t expect Enoch and Lee to read Wired868; we do not pull our punches here and from us the superlatives—with an s!—station gets all the negative attention it deserves. But still, neither the Head of News nor the Programme Director has heard of Chalkie’s erstwhile role as a trainer of judges? Hmmmmm…

It’s not news that there are none so blind as those who choose their own blinkers. But what is the explanation for those who will not hear?

Dale’s choice that morning was Explainer’s “Lorraine.” This enduring upbeat 1981 favourite is easily the most popular offering ever to come from the former goalkeeper, who started his calypso life as a “messenger.” Enoch introduced the selection, played it and then commented on it. He may have heard it but he never listened to it.

Photo: Renowned calypsonian Winston ‘Explainer’ Henry.

How does one know? Well, Explainer begins thus: “Lorraine, yuh better wake up/Ah need a jet plane to take me non-stop…” And at least half a dozen times in the three verses, he repeats “LAW-WREN.”

Every single time, however, Enoch calls Explainer’s woman “LAW-RAIN.” Both before and after.

So let me apologise to i95,5fm’s sports newsreader Don Lee. In last week’s column, I said that he “consistently butchers people’s names” and “is one of those who errs in believing that he can get names right by using his eyes and not his ears.”

Which is okay, I suppose, if your principals also belong to that group and you’re merely following their lead.

Last week, in reporting on the reaction of the current TTFA President to the untimely passing of ex-footballer and coach Teba McKnight, Lee told listeners that Wallace was “chastened” by the young man’s death, his first syllable pronounced like the first syllable in ‘channa.’

The problem is clearly bigger than what eye doh see…

My eye will probably not see the news on TV6 in the future. Why? Two words: James Saunders. Truth be told, it would surprise me tremendously if it is possible to find more moronic comments to link one story to another. Besides, is it even necessary?

Photo: Then Club Sando captain Teba McKnight (right) tries to initiate an attack while Caledonia AIA captain Stephan David looks on during the 2013 Toyota Classic quarterfinals.
Sando, then a second division team, won on penalty kicks.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

But it was another Saunders, first name Kyle, who kicked off the news week with a stunning Monday morning insight. Some discussion or other, he noted, had “ranged far and wide, touching on a variety of subjects.”

And the work week ended with TV6’s Friday’s warning about what the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce expects vis-à-vis public safety at Carnival. We learned that Gabriel Faria’s people aren’t asking Rowley’s bunglers either to do their “duty” or to do their “do.”

No. They “expect Government to do their due.”

On Saturday, in what was decidedly not a good week for us pedants, Sharon Pitt sank the final stab in our back.

Pitt has made an enviable reputation for herself as a trainer of would-be broadcasters and a giver of Common Entrance lessons. Hosting the Calypso Fiesta broadcast on TTT, she introduced the day’s proceedings with some information about the new Guaracara Park venue.

“The new owners of the refinery,” she said, “would be named Patriotic.”

Photo: Petrotrin oil refinery.
(Copyright Petrotrin.com)

If we learned anything about the refinery sale last week, it is that it’s far from a done deal. Still, I suspect that if Pitt could have that moment back, she would opt for ‘will.’

Which is what, as far as kaiso is concerned, Chalkie should be writing next month—at least three years too late!

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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