Clovis Draws Blood /Jraa Blod

When I saw last Monday’s editorial cartoon in the Jamaica Observer, I wondered if Clovis Brown had finally sold his soul to the devil.  I mean it metaphorically, of course.  I have no evidence that Brown’s taskmaster is demonic.  Butch Stewart, after all, is one of the outstanding leaders of industry in Jamaica.  Obviously, he’s a man beyond reproach. True, he must sell newspapers.  But, surely, not at any price!

Editorial cartooning has quite a distinguished history.  In some quarters it is a noble profession.  But in the case of Clovis, the genuine wit of the stinging editorial cartoon appears to have degenerated into little more than vulgar gutter sniping.

Caricature is one thing; sexist, racist and classist profiling is another. I will never forget the contemptuous way in which the supposedly ‘honourable’ Prime Minister, Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller, was demeaningly portrayed by Clovis during the last general election campaign.

Women seem to be particularly easy targets for this cartoonist.  Just think about last Monday’s sick joke.  Here’s the titillating, pornographic scenario:  The University of the West Indies, Mona is an open coffin from which arises ‘Prof’ Vybz Kartel, a grinning, bloodthirsty vampire.  And the generic patwah docta’ -whoever that is – seductively invites the kiss of death.

The murderous message in this necrophiliac cartoon is not even subliminal.  It’s right there on the surface.  UWI is a ‘dead yard’.  Jamaican popular music is a ‘nine-night sankey’.  And academic discourse on both the music and the mother tongue of the masses of the Jamaican people is a sure death sentence.

Still, I wanted to give Clovis the benefit of the doubt. I tried to imagine that his soul was, indeed, his own.  I hoped that his work was inspired by a much grander motivation than simply filthy lucre.  Art for art’s sake, perhaps?  Or art in the service of politics, even?

In any case, as Professor Kartel humorously demonstrated in his now world-famous public lecture at Mona (thanks to the Internet), the mechanics of selling one’s soul to the devil can be rather complicated.  Taken literally, all the precise details of the commercial transaction seem quite ludicrous:

“So this is a question now for the audience.  I would like to know how does one go about selling his soul to the devil? Does the devil have a bank account?  Alright. Do you first put an ad in the classifieds?  ‘Soul for sale in good condition’.  Leave a number to call, the devil calls you, and you work out the fine print of it.  He gives you a manager’s cheque for your soul; you go to his bank.  A popular commercial bank, I presume.  How does it go?”

Down-market, tabloid pedigree

I dismissed the selling-of-the-soul explanation and began to explore other possibilities. However generous I tried to be, I just couldn’t come up with a satisfying account of Clovis’ disturbing cartoon. Let’s suppose I’m the ‘patwa doctor.’  What had I done to make the cartoonist conclude that I would solicit the deadly embrace of a blood-sucking vampire?

My inviting a pop icon to speak at the University of the West Indies cannot reasonably be regarded as a death wish.  Universities across the globe do this kind of thing all the time.  Some of them even have departments of popular culture in which our own Jamaican music is taken seriously.

Here’s a good example.  Next month, I’m going to St. Lucia and St. Vincent to do some lecturing for the UWI Open Campus.  In St. Lucia, I’ll be giving the Patricia Charles Memorial Lecture in honour of the former Resident Tutor of the UWI Extra Mural Department who served the country with distinction in the fields of education and the arts.

The topic of that lecture is “Islands beyond Envy:  Liberating Nation Language in the Caribbean.”  In St. Vincent, I’ll be talking about “Pan-African Consciousness in Caribbean Popular Culture.”  ‘Patwah’ and popular culture, the subjects that engage my colleagues in the Eastern Caribbean, are the very issues that have provoked Clovis’ malicious cartoons.

I got a most insightful email from Mrs. Lesley Crane-Mitchell, Outreach Officer for the Open Campus in St. Lucia.  With her permission, I reproduce it here:  “I loved the exchange between yourself and Vybz Kartel on your blog re the skin bleaching issue. Perhaps you could do a related lecture while here.  A provocative title including the name Vybz Kartel would go down well with young people.  We need to raise UWI’s profile within the schools.  It might be good for them to see that UWI lecturers can also be “cool” – or is that phrase no longer in vogue?J”

Mrs. Crane-Mitchell knows how quickly ‘hip’ terms go out of style.  She also quite perceptively recognises the fact that the profile of the University can, indeed, be raised by engagement with popular culture.  At least for young people.  On this score, the Open Campus is streets and lanes ahead of the seemingly Closed Campus at Mona.

There, Clovis’ three derisive cartoons on Kartel’s lecture have, apparently, elicited complete embarrassment at the unwelcome attention.  The administration doesn’t seem to realise that the campus could ‘get a forward’ from association with the DJ, as Kartel himself might put it.  An unprecedented audience of over 5,000 came to hear the lecture.   I don’t think the powers-that-be even begin to understand what that means.

And as for that dismissive patwah docta’ label!  Clovis does not seem to know that Creole linguistics is a perfectly respectable academic discipline.  I might even have become a ‘bonafide patwa dakta’ if I’d been aware of linguistics as an option when I first went to university.  As it turns out, my Ph.D. is in English literature and I teach the subject for a living.  I also ‘hug up’ my mother tongue, Jamaican.

And why is Kartel pictured as a vampire?  His misapplied ‘cake soap’ may be far less deadly than other chemical products many of us routinely use.  Having tried in vain to find a rational explanation for the vicious, blood-sucking cartoon, I’ve concluded that ‘Clovis head tek im.’

Quite frankly, I really don’t care if the cartoonist decides to put me in a nappy and reduce me to a crybaby – or whatever other infantile ‘diss’ he may conceive.  That’s a small price to pay for speaking out against the way in which the Observer seems to be revelling in its down-market, tabloid pedigree.

In the 1990s, I used to write a column for that newspaper.  In those early years, the Observer aspired to be a quality broad sheet, in spite of its tabloid format.  These days, the pretension of professionalism appears to have vanished, particularly in the editorial cartoon.  Now it’s all about cheap laughs.

And Vybz Kartel has bitten back. It had to happen. There’s a wicked cartoon on the Internet, attributed to Kartel. Clovis stands on the sidewalk wearing a tee shirt that reads, “Bruk Pocket Hungry Belly Badmind Clovis.”        Sobbing, he confesses, “That’s why me envy Kartel so much you know.  He getting all the money and the girls while I’m in a boring underpaid overworked job.  Nobody knows me or cares who I am while he gets all the fame and money.  Even my mom an me auntie an all of me female cousin dem gone with him . . . .”  Kartel cruises past in his Benz with all of Clovis’ beloved female relatives.

I suppose all is fair in the cartoon wars.  But the truth is that Clovis Brown is well-known.  And even if he hasn’t quite sold his soul to the devil, he does make a good living.  It’s just a pity that his take on life is sometimes so vampirish.

CLOVIS JRAA BLOD

Wen mi si di kyaatuun iina laas Monde Jamaica Observer, it kom tu mi se Clovis Brown mosi sel im suol tu di devl don, don, don.  No riil-riil sel; bot suo tu spiik.  Mi naa no evidens se Brown baas a no devl.  Aafta raal, Butch Stewart a wan a di tap-a-tap big man dem wa a ron tingz iina Jamieka.  Yu no ha fi aks if im de pan a levl.  Chruu, im ha fi sel nyuuspiepa.  Bot dat no miin se im naa no prinsipl.

Yu si di kyaatuun dem iina nyuuspiepa, di wan dem we dairekli shuo wa di edita a di piepa a difen;  a lang taim nou dem de bout.  An a siiryos bizniz.  Fi som piipl a wan rispektibl jab fi jraa kyaatuun.  Bot yu si Clovis.  It luk laik se im naa juk pan prinsipl.  Fi im juok dem a go rait dong iina di gota.

Tek piipl mek papishuo fi gud riizn a wan ting.  Bot wen yu a go kyari dem dong siek a dem blak an dem a uman an dem no kum aafa no ai tiebl, dat a wan neks ting.   Mi no nuo wen mi uda eva figat di bad briid wie Clovis did angl di so-kaal ‘anarebl’ Praim Minista, Mrs. Portia

Simpson Miller, iina di laas jineral ilekshan kyampien.

It luk laik Clovis lov kyari dong uman.  Unu si laas Monde kyaatuun.  It sik mi stomok.  Si ou im set it op.  An it ruud yu si!  Yunnivorsiti a di Wes Indiiz op a Muona a wan kafn.  An di kafn opn.  ‘Prof’ Vybz Kartel im a git op outa fi kafn.  Im dis a kin im tiit laka wan vampaiya a luk blod.  An di ‘patwah dockta’’ – a so Clovis spel i  – a inviigl di vampaiya fi bait ar. Nobadi niem no kaal so yu ha fi ges a uu dat.

Yu si di mechiz!  Morda.  An slaknis:  yu nuo dem av som wikid piipl we lov seks ded sombadi.  A it dat.  Yu no ha fi a go roun an kom roun fi si wa di kyaatuun a se.  It rait de so, big an brait.  UWI a wan ded yaad.  An fi wi Jamieka myuusik ina dem ya taim a nai-nait Sangki.  An fram yu a tek di myuuzik an di langgwij a di masiv  siiryos – fi stodi a yuunivorsiti – dat a dairek det sentens.

Stil far aal, mi a chrai si if a dat Clovis a se fi chruu.  A kudn dat.  Mi se, im no sel im suol.  It bilangs tu im.  Mi se a no suoso moni im a wok fa.  Im a aatis.  An im a jraa kyaatuun chruu im lov fi jraa. An paraps, a palitiks im a difen.

Aal di siem, Professor Kartel don shuo wi iina im lekcha – we im gi op a Muona an we gaan aal uova (siek a di Intanet) – im mek juok an shuo wi se it no mek no sens fi a taak bout sel suol tu di devl.  Wen yu tink bout aal a di likl inz an outs fi du di selin, it kaina soun fuul-fuul:

“So dis a wan kweschan fi unu.  Mi waan nuo ou yu uda sel yu suol tu di devl.  Di devl av bank buk?  Aarait.  Ou yu dwiit.  Fos tu bigin wid:  yu tek out wan ad iina Gliina.  ‘Wan gud-gud suol a sel.’  Yu liiv yu nomba an di devl kaal yu an unu sekl op di ting.  An im gi yu wan bank chek fi yu suol.  An yu go a fi im bank.  Mosi wan a di papila komorshal bank dem, ii?  A ou it go?

Wan skyndal nyuuzpiepa

So mi se ‘naa.’  Clovis no sel im suol.  So mi staat aks miself a wa mek im dwiit.  Mi chrai mi bes fi si wid im.  Bot mi jos no andastan wa mek Clovis jraa dat de bad-main kyaatuun.  Aarait.  So if a mi a di ‘patwah docta’’, a wa mi du mek Clovis disaid im main se mi a go beg vampaiya fi kom bait mi, kil mi ded?

A kudn chruu mi invait wan big taim DJ fi taak a Yuunirositi mek Clovis tink se mi waan ded.  Yuunivorsiti aal uova di worl invait aatis fi taak.  Som a dem aal av dipaatment we dem stodi tide kolcha an tek fi wi Jamieka myuuzik siiryos.

Tek far instans.  Neks month, mi a go dong a St. Lucia an St. Vincent fi du kopl lekcha fi di UWI Uopn Kyampos.  Iina St. Lucia, mi a go gi wan lekcha fi memba Mrs. Patricia Charles.  Shi did in chaaj a di UWI dipaatment iina St. Lucia we put aan kuours outsaid di waal a di 3 big kyampos a Jamieka, Baabiedoz an Chrinidad an Tubiego.  Mrs Charles du plenti gud wok iina edikieshan an di aats an a it mek Yuunivorsiti a ana ar wid fi ar uona lekcha.

Mi a go taak bout “Islands beyond Envy:  Liberating Nation Language in the Caribbean” (Wi no ha fi groj nobadi:  Wi gat fi wi uona langgwij).    Iina St. Vincent, mi a go taak bout “Pan-African Consciousness in Caribbean Popular Culture” (Afrika de iina wi kolcha).  Siit de:  ‘patwah’ an tide kolcha a wa di yuunivorsiti piipl dem iina dem oda ailan waan ier bout.  Di sed siem ting we mek Clovis a jraa im bad briid kyaatuun dem ya so.

Mi get wan sensibl iimiel fram Mrs. Lesley Crane-Mitchell.  Shi a di afisa we rispans fi riich out tu piipl mek dem kom a di Uopn Kyampos iina St. Lucia.  Shi gi mi pormishan fi shuo unu we shi rait:  “Mi lov di ping pong wid yuu an Kartel pan yu blog bout bliichin.  Paraps yu kuda du wan lekcha bout dat wen yu kom.  Wan tapik wid Kartel niem uda kech di yuut dem.  Wi ha fi big op UWI ina di skuul dem.  Mek di styuudent dem nuo se di lekchara dem a UWI nuo wa a gwaan out a ruod.  Dem kuul.  Dat wod stil in stail?J”

5,000 piipl kom fi ier Kartel

Mrs. Crane-Mitchell don nuo se slang chienj op kwik kwik.  An shi nuo se Yuunivorsiti kyan get rietingz if dem uopn dem duor an tek iin schriit kolcha.  Di yuut dem wi gi dem rispek.  It luk laik di Uopn Kyampos wie paas di ‘Lak Dong’ Kyampos a Muona wen it kom aan tu dis bizniz.

Op a Muona, it luk laik Yuunivorsiti imbaras kyaan don chruu Clovis jraa im chrii sowa kyaatuun a tek di kyampos mek papishuo. Di tapanaaris de so no nuo se dem kuda get a faawad (az Kartel uda se) fi bring di DJ fi lekcha.  A 5000 piipl kom fi ier Kartel!  So moch piipl neva kom wan taim tu notn a Yuunivorsiti.  Mi no tink di tap-a-tap staat fi andastan wa dat miin.

An az fi di pap-doun ‘patwah docta’’ fuulishnis!  It luk laik Clovis no nuo se piipl a stodi patwa langgwij iina yuunivorsiti lang taim.  Siiryos ting.  If mi did nuo bout langgwij saiyans wen mi did go a yuunivorsiti, mi maita bi wan bonafaid patwa dakta nou.  Mi neva nuo.  So a Ingglish lichricha mi du mi Ph.D. iina.  A it mi tiich nou.  An mi og op fi mi haat langgwij, Jamiekan.

Den a wa mek Clovis ton Kartel iina wan vampaiya?  Im kieksuop, we som piipl naa yuuz ou it supuoz fi yuuz – fi wash kluoz – maita no moch wosa dan plenti a di chemikal dem we som a wi a yuuz die iin, die out.  Eniou, sins mi kudn fain no gud riizn fi di bad-main, vampaiya kyaatuun, it kom tu mi se Clovis ed dis tek im.

An tel yu di chruut, mi no kya if Clovis put mi iina napi an chrai ton mi iina krai-krai biebi, muunshain daalin.  Ar wateva ada lilkl fuul-fuul dis im kom op wid.  Dat a no notn.  Mi ha fi taak out bout ou Observer dis a gwaan laik wan likl nyuuspiepa.  A so di piepa likl, a so  . . . .

Iina di 1990z, mi did rait kalam fi dat de nyuuspiepa.  Dem taim, doa di piepa likl bit, dem did a gwaan laik se dem big an dem braad.  Ina dem ya taim, it luk laik dat de spirit gaan.  Az fi di kyaatuun dem pan di edita piej.  Dem dis a juok it out.

An Vybz Kartel bait bak.  Bot mos.  Yu waan si di wikid kyaatuun pan di Intanet, we Kartel supuozn di jraa. Clovis stan op pan di saidwaak a wier wan tii shot we se, “Bruk Pocket Hungry Belly Badmind Clovis.”        Im a baal an im admit se, “That’s why me envy Kartel so much you know.  He getting all the money and the girls while I’m in a boring underpaid overworked job.  Nobody knows me or cares who I am while he gets all the fame and money.  Even my mom an me auntie an all of me female cousin dem gone with him . . . .”  Kartel kruuz paas iina im Benz wid di uol a Clovis’ fiimiel fambili.

Kyaatuunis Las May, lef, an Clovis win awaad

Wel, di naif we stik shiip stik guot.  A so di kyaatuun klash go.  Stil far aal, Clovis Brown is wel binuons.  An ifn ef im no sel im suol tu di devl fi chruu, im naa sofa.  Im a liv gud. Bwai, iz a piti im kyaatuun dem jraa blod somtaim mek im kom iin laik wan vampaiya.

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10 thoughts on “Clovis Draws Blood /Jraa Blod

  1. Yow Mi Teach
    Allow me to say you are wrong in thinking this is what Clovis is saying.

    “UWI is a ‘dead yard’. Jamaican popular music is a ‘nine-night sankey’. And academic discourse on both the music and the mother tongue of the masses of the Jamaican people is a sure death sentence”

    The above thought process could never find sojourn in the otherwise empty dark frozen place that spawns and then excretes the page daubing description-defying scrawls that characteristically ooze and lump from the foul pen of this scion, and that is expected to pass for caricature in the eyes of his minions.”

    At best.
    It could only mean that he thinks that you and kartel deh and is only a matter of time before you too use cake soap.
    And that picture could have been given without your saying bite me!!
    Indeed “bite me” has a another meaning that is also easily attributable as a mind print ooze and lump of the Cloven Daubs.

    I would never again attempt to elevate the daubs beyond yon garden plot and which by all expectation would produce only thorns to be used to adorn and bound what passes for hands feet and heads, yes “heads” before the Cloven is dispatched to his fire.

    Finally Mi Teach
    Peace is not to be found in the path, but in the woman that walks the path and there will always be those that will contend with you, despite your efforts to avoid them. But if at every turn, you find those that will contend with you, then be like the bow of a boat that cleaves water, but leaves behind water unbroken.

    Best…

  2. Professor Cooper,

    I don’t think I need to tell you that the challenge you confront is much bigger than Mr. Clovis Brown. The fact that people of African descent can be so mercilessly lampooned without even a peep from the wider society is evidence of how far we have not come as a people.

    Heed the advice of Bedduin Negev. Why devote any more time to pontificating about Mr. Brown’s message or intentions? You can best tackle these issues by continuing to educate and uplift your people.

  3. Yuh Know Prof

    Seems to me, I am being drawn to this url more and more with the expectation that I will read forever. Sometimes just as I settle down, gather my laziness, fluff it and spread it around here and there in the expectation of indulging it forever and reach for that endorphin inducing (too) green tea in my faithful wheat beer glass, the new log ends.!!!

    I am sure it is too short.!!!

    There are too, times that I visit and I see nothing and at other times I see what anyone could describe as epics, and which do not include the two languages!

    Having said the above, I am now realizing that you run this writer traverses most comfortably the continuum of logging nothing to everything on selected occasion.
    I am thinking that this is good, because as a reader, I will always be surprised by either nothing, something or everything.

    Please do remember to keep the lights on and the door open always prof, we will come back, notwithstanding our preferences for long or short b(log)ging things.
    Hmmm
    Did I say that right?
    Did I Prof…Did I
    🙂 Hmmmm, if I did not!!
    Ok, please correct it fro me.
    Thanks
    Peace be unto this bloghouse 🙂

  4. Yuh Know Prof

    Seems to me, I am being drawn to this url more and more with the expectation that I will read forever. Sometimes just as I settle down, gather my laziness, fluff it and spread it around here and there in the expectation of indulging it forever and reach for that endorphin inducing (too) green tea in my faithful wheat beer glass, the new log ends.!!!

    I am sure it is too short.!!!

    There are too, times that I visit and I see nothing and at other times I see what anyone could easily describe as epic, and which do not include posting in the two languages!

    Having said the above, I am now realizing that you traverse most comfortably the continuum of logging nothing to everything on selected occasion.
    I am thinking that this is good, because as a reader, I will always be surprised by either nothing, something or everything.

    Please do remember to keep the lights on and the door open always prof, we will come back, notwithstanding our preferences for long or short b(log)ging things.
    Hmmm
    Did I say that right?
    🙂
    Did I Prof…Did I Hmmmm, if I did not!!
    Ok, please correct it fro me.
    Thanks
    Peace be unto this bloghouse

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