By Raffique Shah
January 10, 2010
Trinidad and Tobago News Blog
Should readers feel I am making light of a serious subject, I plead guilty. With the coming of artiste Beyoncé taking on proportions of the second coming of Christ, I cannot help but enjoy a sense of detached amusement. First, I had to find out just who the hell Beyoncé was. Upon enquiring, I repeatedly mispronounced the name-Beyonce, Beyond-only to be rudely corrected by my daughter.
So I learned she is a singer, entertainer, dancer and winner of Grammy awards, and that between her and her husband they are worth a pile of money, more than TSTT’s gross assets. I have never listened to any of her songs, but who could miss out on those legs? I couldn’t resist staring at them with her every promotional move, lecher that I am. But as a veteran admirer of great-looking women, I should add that I’ve seen better legs and better-looking women right here, home-grown-some of them sporting even better talents than the US artiste.
Legs aside, I immediately recognised the power of this woman, all 28 years of her. She is the only person I know who has succeeded in having the local and regional cricket authorities revise their cast-in-turf schedule to accommodate her entourage and local fans, said to number far more than the 25,000 who will attend the concert. WIPA left the West Indies without its first-string team for two vital Test cricket series for less a proverbial song! Now Dinanath and his boys are willing to sacrifice a game, and maybe a regional series, by making way for Beyoncé.
Worse, or better (depending on one’s perspective), the QPCC overlords of the Oval are risking the irreparable damage to their recently refurbished facilities to accommodate this queen of song and dance. What if the Oval pitch and outfield are seriously damaged by 50,000 prancing feet, stiletto heels et al? I guess while cricket is one sport that this country excels in, it runs 10th-place to Beyoncé. Even the local cricket board and players are clamouring, ’Bring on BeyoncÃ¨!’
How past masters of the game and those who love it from Beyond a Boundary (as the late great CLR James wrote) must writhe in agony, whether they are alive and hobbling, or their skeletal remains are buried deep in this land of multiple contradictions. Cricket aside, a few keen observers have also noted that 25,000 people will spend an average of $1,000 (well, you must include the special outfits, the drinks) for two hours of entertainment. Over the next few weeks, another 100,000 or more will spend an additional $1,500 on average to attend the now-mandatory all-exclusive fetes, while yet another 50,000 will spend just as much, if not more, on what passes for Carnival costumes.
Two issues here. First, the majority of the above cannot easily afford what they spend. Some of the mainly young ones would cajole their parents into meeting the expenses. But others will commit crimes, murder hapless victims if they must, only to satisfy their ’needs’ that are beyond their dollar-boundaries. Police statistics prove that robberies and burglaries increase many-fold as we approach the season of spend-what-you-don’t have. But who cares? Even those who cry bloody murder over high crime would easily roll bum-bums with others who literally robbed their bloody way into the Beyoncé concert and other parties.
Second, among this lot are the very people who, after spending money they can ill-afford to check Beyoncé’s legs from afar, would complain about having to pay increased property tax far less than what they put out for personal pleasure. ’Where the hell does Government expect us to find $1,000 to pay property tax?’ they will scream, as they wave placards in protest. Their after-Beyoncé and after-Carnival debts would take them maybe a year to pay off. But say what? One must have one’s priorities right. And setting aside, say, $200 a month for future rainy-days, is not on the list topped by Beyoncé and Carnival.
Instant gratification is infinitely more important than a secure future. As for TSTT, which has taken flak for its sponsorship of the event (real cost never to be revealed), its employees are right to demand their two-grammes of flesh before Beyoncé gets her kilo. After all, she will be here today, gone tomorrow. They will be around for a long time keeping the corporation’s image aloft (although I sometimes wonder, especially when my land line remains dead like a dodo for weeks!).
To be fair to TSTT, it does put out mucho dollars in support of local sport and culture, certainly after rival Digicel came on the scene. While the state-owned corporation will not reveal contractual obligations, its expenses can be gleaned from another…er, fraternal source.
The Guardian (UK) recently revealed that Muammar Gaddafi’s son Hannibal, the one who beat up his wife at a posh London hotel, and later joined with the battered woman to hammer their servant in Switzerland, had Beyoncé do a US$2 million, one-hour gig for their guests on the Caribbean island of St Barts. That’s the kind of company TSTT must be proud of being associated with-the colonel’s wastrel son, no less. I say no more.
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