J'ouvert Morning - Labor Day, New York

WHAT THE RAIN COULD NOT DO...
(throw a 'damper' on proceedings)

New York's Finest
(NYPD) did...

 

 

You would think that steady rain and puddles of water along the pan route on Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn (and on other streets as well) would throw a spanner in the works, so to speak, for J'ouvert lovers.  Not the case for those diehards who came out in their J'ouvert finery (and other descriptives!!) or for those chipping along to the sadly very small representation from various steelbands towed by trucks (people power not guaranteed in J'ouvert any longer as was in the old days).

 

Pan lovers had a wet but good time.  However one could hanker back to the days when the full steelbands came out, sometimes larger than even the near 100 players per band on Panorama night - as the "road bands" sometimes swelled in numbers far beyond the Panorama players.  As part of the road band, all the players now shared in the glorious euphoria of performing and the ability to send the pan lovers into a musical ecstasy.

 

Soaked in the continuous, sometimes heavy drizzle, the revelers resolutely stuck it out, the conditions becoming part of the fun.  Harlem All Stars, Long Island's Adlib Steel Orchestra, Dem Stars and the newly formed Radoes (after a split from the original Despers USA) were but a few of all those 'who came out to play'.

 

The unofficial and customary end of the Steelband session for J'ouvert is 11:00 AM, south along Nostrand Avenue, with bands usually veering off back to their miscellaneous yards, and a few others maybe on to Eastern Parkway.  But J'ouvert morning -Monday 2 September 2002- brought a rude awakening to that 'tradition'.

 

But in all actuality - there were signs that anything could have gone down...  and some were unsurprised at this turn of events, since on the eve of Panorama, NYPD made the rounds to no less than six - probably more - steelband and mas camps and unceremoniously shut them down, producing a long list of 'other venues' who soon fell victim as well.  Now what's wrong with this picture?  The reasoning given then was there were complaints of noise....  Interesting how at least one particular pan side was practicing inside a warehouse in what was mainly an industrial area.  So much for disturbing the peace in that zone...  Moreover  - this was the Friday, the last night before Panorama.  So - how come no action on such "complaints" in the weeks prior at any practice site/mas camp?  None during the pre-panorama week of Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  Could it be that suddenly all these residents in all these areas picked up phones on Friday night in disgust?  Hence this sudden 'sweep' - complete with backup NYPD vans?   Anywaay, back to J'ouvert morning...

 

From 9:15 AM, and probably earlier - New York's Finest unceremoniously shut down reportedly every single steelband along the route - wherever they were.  The music was ordered stopped, and pans were demanded removed from racks and packed.  No explanation was forthcoming, but needless to say revelers were pissed.  The West Indian community's J'ouvert Pan lovers got a slap in the face with this one.  People were absolutely furious, but could do nothing; from the revelers themselves, to the previously jovial onlookers, many hurled calculated scorn and abuses upon the NYPD who took it in stride as part and parcel of all in a day's cordial communications with the local community...

 

 

 

 

 

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2002 Basement Recordings, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Date: 9.12.02










 

In the sometimes driving rain and occasional reprieves the steelbands and revelers alike literally stayed the course.

 Bands included ADLIB, and Caribbean Youth Panoramics (CYP).   A rare sight was CYP's President and Arranger Joseph "Franklin" Gerald on Bass Pans, captured in full cry...

Some braved the elements in raincoats, and others looked on from the sidelines under umbrellas...



In the midst of driving rain, orders are given to shut down all proceedings.  A Brother walked alongside, intermittently pleading and expressing anger for quite some time.

People complied and steelbands begin to be pulled out of formation for the removal that followed, of some of the smaller pans.  Hands that held mallets (pan sticks) a few minutes prior, and other hands which kept the heart - the Engine Room - of the band beating (ironmen) now instead helped break up proceedings...

Even Lady (excuse me) SIR Liberty got a clearer idea of exactly what he represented- or didn't...



Dem Stars President Anthony 'Ike' Hinds, himself a Chief in the Traffic Department, looks as if he tried to get a sense of what was happening, but also to no avail.  Looks as though his band's tribute to New York's fallen  Bravest - and in this case - FINEST - certainly fell on deaf ears, and also eyes...



A job well done perhaps?