Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 26, 2013

Author Releases Novel With Bermuda Angle


American author Tori Ann Johnson has published a new novel that follows the adventures of a dysfunctional family, focusing on the bizarre mother/daughter relationship that can result from such a household, Bernews reports.

Set in several locations around the world, including Bermuda, the novel also features a character who hails from the island, giving it a special appeal to Bermudians.

Author Tori Ann Johnson’s family has a Bermuda connection of its own, boasting a direct relation to the Darrell family, making her a descendant of James “Jemmy” Darrell, the former slave who was a ships pilot from St. Georges.

Ms. Johnson attended the 2009 Bermudian reunion that saw about 300 relatives of the Darrell family come together from all over the world.

The novel is fiction, but there are some real places and people in it, including one short scene where a main character goes to see Johnny Barnes.

Called Remedy for a Broken Angel, the book stands as the latest work from an author who has gained both acclaim and awards for her work on the Disney screenplay for Ruby Bridges.

Toni Ann Johnson won the Humanitas Prize and the Christopher Award for her teleplay “Ruby Bridges,” an ABC movie and true story of the young girl who integrated the New Orleans Public School system. Johnson won a second Humanitas Prize for the Showtime teleplay, “Crown Heights,” about the 1991 Crown Heights Riots.

She has also written a number of dance related projects, most notably the pilot for Save The Last Dance, and the feature Step Up 2: The Streets. Her stage play “Gramercy Park is Closed to the Public,” was produced in Los Angeles by The Fountainhead Theatre Company and in New York by The New York Stage and Film Company.

Her essays have been published in the Los Angeles Times, and short fiction has appeared in The Elohi Gadugi Journal, Sprout Magazine, The Emerson Review, and is forthcoming in Soundings Review.

The book’s official description says, “Remedy for a Broken Angel is an 80,000 word, multicultural, dysfunctional family drama in the vein of Danzy Senna’s Caucasia and Dana Johnson’s Elsewhere California. Serena is a jazz singer whose narcissistic personality disorder leads her to abandon her daughter Artimeza, “Artie,” when she’s twelve.

“Serena was abandoned herself as a child in Bermuda when her siblings passed for white and she could not. She tries to reconnect with Artie once she understands the source of her issues, but her ex-husband thwarts those efforts. For years, mother and daughter each want to reconcile, but don’t know how to reach out.

“Then one night, Artie pulls into her driveway only to find her jazz musician husband having sex in his car with Serena. And with that, any hope for reconciliation seems lost. Artie assumes the betrayal was intentional and the event unmoors her. She’s admitted to a psychiatric facility where she delves into her childhood relationship with Serena.

“She must to find a way to forgive in order to recover and have peace, but instead, she’s driven to seek out Serena’s younger lover, Jamie L’Heureux, a successful, white jazz artist and lothario. When Artie’s feelings for L’Heureux and his for her prove oddly profound, she begins to suspect that there’s a destined design to the way things are playing out.

“The spirit of Charles Mingus thrums throughout book and we dive in and out of jazz clubs, travel to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Bermuda as these two women tangle in a syncopated mother/daughter relationship.”

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 26, 2013

Cuban Salsa Singer to Make Acting Debut in Film

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 12.02.12 AM

Singer Paulo Fernandez Gallo, one of Cuba’s most famous salsa singers, will make his acting debut in “Vuelos Prohibidos”, a film directed by moviemaker Rigoberto Lopez, Prensa Latina reports.

Known as Paulito FG since the salsa fury in the 1990s, the famous singer shares the leading role with French actress Sanaa Alaovi in the film, whose shooting began in Paris and continues here.
“This is my first film and I hope it will be the last one,” the singer told OnCuba magazine, in reference to his new experience in his long artistic career.
He admitted that filming in France was hard due to bad weather and the closing of his album “Abre que Voy.”
Paulito FG plays the role of a photo reporter who makes documentaries for cinema and television and when interacting with Monique (Sanna Alaovi), he reflects on several topics in today’s today.


Late last month, Dr Earl McKenzie officially presented three books at the UNiversity of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus. The trio of publications reflected his diverse, yet interwoven interests – philo-sophy, painting and literature, Mel Cooke of Jamaica’s Gleaner reports.

Still, philosophy dominates, as it should, as McKenzie can lay claim to being a pioneer in the field of study at UWI Mona.

The business of being a trailblazer is naturally a solitary one, which is reflected in the title of one of the recently launched books, The Loneliness of a Caribbean Philosopher and Other Essays (Arawak Publications).

The other new books are Philosophy in the West Indian Novel (The University of the West Indies Press), and A Bluebird Named Poetry: Linked Poems, Stories & Paintings (Arawak Publications).

McKenzie has academic training in the three fields covered in the new books, philosophy, English, and visual arts.

To write Philosophy in the West Indian Novel, he obtained a Mona Research Fellowship from UWI. In locating and exploring that philosophy, McKenzie said he used a definition which is “personal to me – but is the accepted one”.

It is “within the historic tradition” and from that starting point and reading as many novels as he should, McKenzie “chose those in which [he] found philosophical issues”.

Books from the region

Among the novels McKenzie analyses are In the Castle of My Skin, where he examines the historicism of the novel; there is a chapter on ‘The Inner Radiance of the Self in Palace of the Peacock‘ and there is also ‘Knowledge and Human Understanding in A House for Mr Biswas‘.

The novels cover a wide range of Caribbean writers and McKenzie said, “I wanted them to represent different Caribbean countries, range of ethnicity and gender”. And he is aware that he is doing new work. “It is the first I know of the Caribbean novel being approached in this way. It is breaking new ground,” McKenzie said.

However, he pointed out that philosophy is not as far removed from the everyday society as some would think.

“Part of what struck me is I think if you spend 10 minutes in a Jamaican rum bar or arguing with a taxi driver, you think Jamaicans have such a robust tendency towards debate and philosophical thinking,” McKenzie said. But, he said, “The education system does not encourage this.”

The title essay in The Loneliness of a Caribbean Philosopher and Other Essays is autobiographical. McKenzie said he began writing what would become the book in the early 1990s and “little by little, it came together”.

When McKenzie returned home as an academic philosopher, he said, “many people thought I was nuts. Many before me had tried and given up.”

Looking back, after retirement, McKenzie described the book as “an apologia for philosophy in the curriculum”. He concedes that there were times he felt like giving up, but pressed on as “I do not give up easily”.

With The Loneliness of a Caribbean Philosopher and Other Essays, McKenzie said, “I wanted to leave something for future generations … I figure if I leave a few books behind, someone will notice.”

In those early years, during his loneliness, McKenzie turned to philosophy in writers such as Garvey, Earl Lovelace, Lorna Goodison and C. L. R. James, as well as in Jamaican proverbs. There was also music, McKenzie saying, “I describe Bob Marley as philosopher with a guitar.”

For A Bluebird Named Poetry: Linked Poems, Stories & Paintings, McKenzie found a natural link between the two art forms.

Painting and writing

“The poem would go where the painting would not reach. Or I wrote a poem and the painting would go further,” McKenzie said.

He had an exhibition at the Manchester Parish Library in 1970. Then after an exhibition at UWI, he was invited to be included in the book,Writers Who Paint: Three Jamaican Artists. He was asked to do an essay for the book and, McKenzie said, it was the first time he sat and thought about how writing and painting were connected.

McKenzie pointed out that, in his painting “the bluebird is pivotal. It was a bluebird that started my painting”.

So, putting it all together, McKenzie summed up himself as “a philosopher who writes and paints”.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 25, 2013

Region adopts plan to eradicate hunger, poverty


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says a group of South American and Caribbean countries have adopted a common plan of action to eradicate hunger and poverty, designed with FAO support, Trinidad’s Guardian reports. The FAO says the agreement was announced during the Second Extraordinary Summit of the Petrocaribe oil bloc and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America—Peoples’ Trade Treaty (Alba-TCP). 

“The plan aims to strengthen food and nutrition security in the Petrocaribe economic zone and in Alba countries through national and regional hunger eradication projects,” said the FAO, adding that it will provide advice to governments in developing interventions. During the summit, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro said that “the Action Plan Alba-Petrocaribe to free our territories from hunger seems fundamental for the future.

The FAO said the plan reflects the priority that hunger reduction has been given by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and under the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative, a commitment by the 33 countries of the region to eradicate malnutrition by 2025. “The Alba-Petrocaribe Action Plan represents the most ambitious attempt to eradicate hunger in the history of the region,” the FAO said.

“Latin America and the Caribbean are showing that across the entire region there is political will for and commitment to achieving hunger eradication,” said FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva, speaking at the summit. The FAO and Venezuela’s government also signed an agreement to implement a Venezuelan-led regional food and nutrition security and poverty eradication program within the framework of the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative.

The Venezuelan programme will work on three tracks: strengthening leaders, producers and social organisations in rural areas, facilitating the commercialisation and trade of products from family farms; and supporting hunger eradication efforts in various economic integration zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular in the Petrocaribe region.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 25, 2013

World Bank: Caribbean Immigrants Abroad are ‘Very Well Educated’


As Caribbean nations continue to be buffeted by serious economic challenges, their “very well educated” Diasporas are well placed, and in many cases, are already investing in business ventures back home, as Tony Best reports in this article for Black Voice News.

With 80 per cent of the Caribbean diaspora holding college degree; 65 per cent working in the private sector in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere; and a quarter described as well-off with either a net worth or annual incomes in excess of $100,000, “these affluent and accredited individuals are of critical importance in making informed investments back home,” according to a World Bank report. “They tend to have a level of investment sophistication and business acumen that promotes best practices among investees, demands accountability and results, and can have a major contribution to the development of Caribbean economies.”

Those conclusions were based on the results of a study conducted among almost 1,000 “self-identified members of the Caribbean Diaspora” who live and work in cities and town across North America and the United Kingdom with at least half based in New York, London, Toronto and Miami.

Interestingly, Jamaicans showed the highest level of interest in investing in their birthplace, with 62 per cent indicating they would put some of their resources in their homeland. Next were Trinidadians, with 34 per cent expressing such investment interest; Barbadians 24 percent; Guyanese 15 percent; Bahamians 13 percent; Grenadians 11 percent; Haitians 11 percent; Antiguans 8 percent; Dominicans 7 percent; and Kittitians 6 percent.

‘Over 85 per cent of Diaspora members give back to the Caribbean in some way, shape or form. While the majority send remittances, make donations, buy property or invest in a venture, many others are involved as volunteers or mentors” stated the report entitled, “the Caribbean Diaspora: A source for venture Investment?”

According to the World Bank: • Almost half of those interviewed had incomes between $50,000 — $100,000; slightly over one in five made $100,000-200,000; five per cent made more than $200,000; while one in three had an annual income that was between $50,000- $100,000.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 25, 2013

Mosquito-borne virus spreads to Martinique


Health officials say a mosquito-borne virus appears to have spread to the French Caribbean island of Martinique, the Associated Press reports.

French epidemiologists in Martinique have confirmed two local cases of the chikungunya virus. Local transmission of the illness typically found in Africa and Asia was first detected in the French Caribbean dependency of St. Martin.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization reported 10 confirmed cases in St. Martin, which shares a tiny island with Dutch St. Maarten. It’s the first time the virus has been spread locally in the Western Hemisphere.

On Tuesday, Canada’s public health agency recommended that travelers protect themselves from mosquito bites when traveling in St. Martin, St. Maarten and Martinique.

The viral illness can cause symptoms including fever and debilitating joint and muscle pain. There is no vaccine.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 25, 2013

Bermuda’s “Santa Claus” Of The Homeless


In Bermuda, Santa Claus is a man called Austin Smith. He not only spreads a message of unconditional love, compassion, and gifts of food and encouragement over the Christmas season, he spreads it all year around. For isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Love, as Joan Aspinall reports for Bernews.

He could be called ‘Santa Claus of the homeless’. For the past thirteen years, Austin Smith has been feeding the homeless, most times with his own financing, every week in Hamilton on Court St. and Bulls Head Car Park through his street ministry called Church Without Walls.

“Anyone can feed the homeless,” he said, “but I offer them not only nourishment for their bodies but consolation and encouragement from God for their souls. Feed my lambs,” he said. “That is the message I am following.”

A giant in girth, this soft-spoken, humble man with the brilliance of a Bible scholar, the elocution of a teacher, seeks neither publicity nor fame, or sends out cards asking for monetary contributions.

For Austin Smith, in his quiet, unassuming way is consumed with a passion to help his fellow man, a passion he says that comes directly from God. “Even the worst of the homeless, those who are termed mentally ill, those who are visible to the populace, scorned, ignored, are first and foremost human beings, thus deserving the dignity afforded to all human beings.”

Austin Smith travels where few men dare to go. He works with the drunks, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the mentally ill, and as he calls them the ‘criminally insane.’ As he states: “Men who hate women. Women who hate men. Some are hostile, abusive. Angry at the world. Very few could do this work. You have to be very special.”

In reference to church organizations, there are none working so closely with the obvious homeless as Austin Smith. Of the churches, he said, “We’re all in the same field working through God to help our fellow man, but they are on one side of the field that is green, and I am on the other side where it is barren and muddy. If some homeless are dirty, smelly, hostile—they are still human beings and deserve respect.”

He recalled a time when a homeless young drug addict was going through withdrawal symptoms which caused her to vomit all over his chest and clothes as he held her upright. An observing church minister asked why he was doing it. When Austin stated the he could go home where he had hot water and soap, the minister replied: “Better you than me.”

“Where does Christianity start or end,” he said, “if you point at someone and say ‘I’ll help you, but not you’, or ‘I’ll feed you, I’ll clothe you, but, not you.”

“When someone puts a caveat on giving, meaning they are directing where and what their gift should be used for, that is not giving from the heart.”

He is particularly concerned about the ever-growing population of Bermuda’s homeless, especially single women with children. “The visible homeless in Hamilton are only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there are decent people, who are living in the direst circumstances — in tents in the undergrowth, along the tracks, in caves. These homeless people are invisible by choice. Society is blind by choice.”

“There are many reasons for homelessness,” he said, referring to a paper put out by the Pacific Garden Ministry, PGM, in Chicago, which started out as a simple ministry like Austin’s and now provides accommodations, food kitchen, medical facilities, and counseling to help them get back on their feet.

“One is driven by the economy: no job, no money, inability to pay rent, buy food, clothes, etc. Another segment is those who have low paying jobs, but cannot afford to pay rent and end up sleeping in cars.

“Every morning, mothers living like that try to tidy up their children and send them to school, pretending everything is normal, while at the same time, there is a stigma attached to the children.”

“For those who can pay, the Salvation Army charges $10.00 per night for accommodations that offer more privacy and safety then their limited, but free section. Those who do not get in, sleep in cars in an area called Car City behind the Salvation Army.”

Going down the list, he said the Pacific Garden paper stated that one of the most shocking causes of homelessness was ‘laziness’

“They don’t want to be healed,” he said. “If they became independent, they would have to take care of themselves. They don’t want to become self sufficient. No one would bring them clothes and food. This is the tragedy—the mentally disturbed. They are the ones the public sees sleeping in the doorways, cubby holes, and under the porch of the library in Hamilton.”

Because of this growing number, Austin is now assisting families with clothing and blankets during his Sunday meetings in Bulls Head Car Park. His humble beginnings date back thirteen years ago when he first took a few sandwiches and drinks to some men on Front St. and Albouys Point. A crowd gathered around him at Albouys Point listening to his message of love and compassion. That was the launch of his career.

The next step was a ministry at City Hall Car Park which led later to Bulls Head where he fed the homeless codfish and potatoes, complete with avocado, bananas, hot sauce, all financed out of his own pocket.

His numbers grew to 30 – 40 people every Sunday, no mean feat knowing the cost of codfish. When his ministry developed a soup and sandwich distribution twice a week on Court St., the Eliza Doolittle Society stepped in with food donations.

Austin Smith’s career is noteworthy. He is a master plumber, a recognized award winner in his profession, and taught plumbing at the Bermuda College. Ironically, as of late, he finds himself in the same circumstances of those who he has been helping all these years.

Although not homeless, he lost his job and has no means of support or assistance. But, as distressful and painful as his circumstances may be, he continues to ladle out his soup and sandwiches on Court St., to feed his followers at Bulls Head, and comfort all with his words of wisdom and love.

If Santa carried a sack of human warmth and unconditional love, he would surely be named Austin Smith. If in this busy time of Christmas, you can see clear to help Austin Smith, please do.

As Austin himself says:” What you sow, you shall reap in abundance, especially if you give from the heart.” My, what wonders must await Austin Smith, if not in this life, then surely in the next.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!


. . . and a Happy New Year!

We wish you joy and love during this holiday season. And we thank you for your support throughout the year.

Much love to you all,

Ivette and Lisa


The Explorations II: Religion and Spirituality exhibition, which opened last Sunday at the National Gallery of Jamaica, is organized around six broad, overlapping themes, with a gallery dedicated to each theme. Just in time for the holiday season, the third gallery’s exhibition is organized around the theme “In Our Own Image.” Here are excerpts with a link below to the full description. [Image above: Osmond Watson’s “Jah Lives” (1984); image below: Ebony G. Patterson’s “Di Real Big Man (2010); both from the NGJ Collection.]


Description: The works in this gallery explore how “white” colonial religious representations, and the power structures these represent, have been implicitly and explicitly challenged in local religious and artistic practice. The prevalence of assertively Black religious imagery in Jamaican art is heavily indebted to the teachings of Marcus Mosiah Garvey [. . .].

This perspective is classically illustrated by Osmond Watson’s Peace and Love (1969), which draws from Orthodox Christian icon painting traditions, and the related Jah Lives (1984), which was chosen as the lead image of this exhibition and is on view in the entrance. In both instances, Christ is represented as dreadlocked Rastafari, a powerful acknowledgement of the movement’s defining role in Jamaican culture. Peace and Love is also a self-portrait, in an illustration of the Rastafari concept of “Godmanliness,” or the divine nature of the individual. We had originally placed Rastafari artist Albert Artwell’s 33 ½ Years Story of Christ (2005), which narrates the main events in the life of Christ in a style indebted to Ethiopian icon painting, in “A Chapter a Day,” but we moved it to this section because of the assertive Blackness of the imagery, which also has autobiographical allusions.

While not as such a religious image, we also selected Ebony G. Patterson’s Di Real Big Man (2010) for this section, since it similarly and more provocatively adopts the traditional language of religious icon art to comment on the predicament of Black masculinity in contemporary Jamaican popular culture. In particular, it makes reference to the sexually ambiguous male beauty ideals in Dancehall and, using imagery that evokes martyrdom, also brings to mind the memorial murals to slain gang and “corner crew” members that can be seen in many inner-city neighbourhoods (and are now regularly over-painted by the Police).

While two of the examples chosen represent Black Madonnas, none of the examples in this section question the traditional gender biases in religious art and iconography but there are works by Jamaican artists, not represented here, that have done exactly that: Renee Cox’s controversial “Yo Mama’s Last Supper” (1999), for instance, shocked the New York religious establishment when it was first exhibited there because the artist provocatively inserted her own image, fully and frontally nude, as the Christ figure in the Last Supper. [. . .]

For full description and more information, see the National Gallery of Jamaica Blog at

SONY DSCRenowned Cuban artist Manuel Mendive explores African influence in his exhibition, “Things that Cannot be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive” [Cosas que no pueden ser vistas de ninguna otra manera: el arte de Manuel Mendive] and a performance/procession entitled “Water (Homage to the Waters)” [Agua (Homenaje a las aguas)] at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami. Curated by Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz (director of Orbis Africa Advanced Research Center, Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University) the exhibition will be open until January 25, 2014.

According to Arte al Día, this exhibition—centered on the prominent Afro- Cuban artist’s 50-year career—is the first of its kind in the United States, combining long-term incorporation of visual culture, active performance, and material from the Afro-Cuban religion.

Description: The exhibition follows Mendive’s trajectory through his drawings, paintings, sculpture, and performances from the early 60’s to the present, with special attention on certain repeated themes that are common throughout his work, including religion, identity, and memoriam, as well as the production of styles in which his work can be categorized. The exhibition explores the phenomena of criollismo, hybridity and syncretism through the twentieth century to the present in the chronicle of Afro-Cuban art iconography and an examination of the influence of both Western and African art practices in Cuban art. It also highlights the role played by race and identity politics, and resistance by African descendants in indigenous art.

According to Carol Damian, director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, “Manuel Mendive unites the body of the human being with the land that generated it, with plants and animals, with water and the sky, with Mother Nature, in which he is a creature among creatures, and in it, he finds the reason, the time and space of his own existence. It is a totalizing concept of art in which the pictorial is combined with body and soul to reach an intense emotional weight, where art and spirit reflect the harmony and peace of soul.”

For full, original article, see

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