Helemaal Dancehall — the video

Quick video mashup of my Helemaal Dancehall track from yesterday.

Ria Bacon, Photographer

Another string to my fiddle, to add to those of editor, translator and trainer — marked by the first time I have been paid for one of my photos!

Here it is, a double half-page spread in the New York Magazine.

Ria Bacon, Photographer

Regular readers of this blog may have already seen the picture gracing the header on this web page.

I said above that this was the first time I had been paid for a published photo, but it is not the first time I have had a photo published.

The first time was in the Jamaica Observer, and was part of an unpaid photostory feature by readers. The second time was in the Chicago Sun-Trib, when a photo was used without permission and without payment.

When I queried this action, I was offered an apology and payment, but never received a cent. The person responsible was later promoted to the board of the newspaper, before being sacked and taking up a position at the Huffington Post. That’s what you get when you mess with da Ria ;-)

The third publication was actually a non-event. A UK publisher of educational reference books asked permission to use one of my photos. I agreed and quoted a price based on what I considered reasonable ($150).

The publisher replied that he hadn’t anticipated such a high figure (!). I then asked what he considered reasonable, and was told that he normally paid $70 … but that he no longer needed my photo.

I am sure he thought he could use it for free, not having offered anything in the first place. He twice mentioned that his was a small publishing house, yet the reference book in question had a print run to supply all the UK school libraries and cost around $50 per copy!

Bloody cheek.

One of these days I’m going to sort out my photo files and promote them more effectively. Any recommendations for making more money?

(One of these days … One of these days …)

Deep in it

Just heard that our stuff, including essential babyware and car, will now be leaving Dakar around the date it was supposed to arrive in the Netherlands. Apparently the delay is due to congestion in the port. The whole coast of Africa must be gridlocked if it takes two weeks to clear the way to port. I reckon the more likely causes are either incompetence or corruption — either our agent has no backup plan for these types of situation, or he forgot to pay off a key bureaucrat in the chain of exporting goods.

I’ll be glad when I don’t have to deal with this sort of crap. It was the same in Jamaica, by the way, trying to store and ship our stuff. Sure it got done in the end, but only after hours of emailing and skypeing every few days, wheedling and conniving, trying to explain what should have been understood from the start. It’s exhausting.

There really is a difference in culture that is almost insurmountable. And the difference comes in the education, both at home and at school, between the traditional style (“because I say so!” “don’t hit your sister” WhAcK! “Memorize these unrelated data”) and a more modern style (“… otherwise you’ll get your shoes wet”, “tell me why you hit her”, “do a project with your group”). You get the drift. And the results do come through in adulthood. The former culture is submissive, non-collaborative, always seeking an angle to promote or at least protect their own position, lacking initiative; the latter is reasonable, can handle negativity, can empathize with the customer and behave in such a way as to maximize the customer’s position, etc.

But for me, the best thing about being here is sleeping through the night. I don’t know why, but in Dakar I rarely slept the night through, usually waking at five am, worrying about one or more of the problems that needed to be dealt with.

Here, I sleep through … I may still be exhausted but it’s my alarm that wakes me, not my worries.

Edit at 9 am next day: Strike through “I sleep through”.
Reason: Sitting up with baby JuJu from 12:30 to 2:30 am. Choking in snot. beurrggh.

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Leaving this place

I’m not profligate with my categories (nor with my posts). So when I see that I have 22 posts in the category “Leaving this place”, I know that I’ve been leaving more than I’ve been staying these last few years.

And on a night like this, at 1:13 am, with the cold Harmattan wind whipping through the palm trees, I can say, enough is enough.

Once the kids (1, 2, 3) were in bed, Mr B and I got down to the real work of the day: sorting through our stuff before the packers arrive. In comparison with previous blogged moves, it’s more like our leaving Rome than our leaving Kingston. The difference is that now, as in Rome, we are simply sorting stuff for the movers to pack, whereas in Kingston, due to a broken-down removals lorry arriving 8 hours late, Mr B and I, 7 months pregnant, ended up doing all the packing — humping and heaving — ourselves.

Bwoy! Were we busted!

This time we’re just sorting into stuff to bin, stuff to take on the plane, stuff to give to the US club, stuff to donate to charity, stuff to give to colleagues, stuff to give to the home help … OK … so that’s why it’s now 1:34 am.

… zzzzzzzzzzzzz ……

Ghetto can’t hold you back

The athletics results this last week in Beijing represent the summum of success for Jamaican runners, putting them in first place in the gold medal league table, equal with Russia and ahead of the US.

Bear in mind that Jamaica has a population of only 2.7 million.

Jamaican athletics results

The first gold medal went to Shelly-Ann Fraser in the women’s 100m. Amid the thousands of news stories trying to come up with something original to say, AFP interviewed Shelly-Ann’s mother.

Shelly-Ann Fraser can thank her mother’s uneasy relationship with the Jamaican police for helping her become an Olympic Games sprint champion.

Maxine Fraser, who brought up her daughter in one of the Caribbean’s meanest ghettos, believes her quickfire genes have been passed on to the 21-year-old who led a Jamaican cleansweep in the 100m final in Beijing on Sunday.

Maxine has had to live on her wits all of her life and working as a street vendor she regularly has to put in a blinding turn of pace if police are chasing her for illegal trading.

“This is to show that something good can come out of the ghetto. Ghetto can’t hold you back as long as you have ambition,” said Maxine after watching her daughter take gold.

Source: AFP

The reference to running from the police reminded me of a post I wrote back in March 2006. I’ll give you advance warning: turn your speakers low before you watch the movie.

“[27 March 2006] The source of the sprinters’ success then is that Jamaicans know from a young age and from much experience that at the sound of gunshot …”

Some commentators wonder whether Jamaican runners are not getting a little extra kick from illegal doping …

However, locals have scoffed at suggestions that drugs may be the reason for the country’s recent success.

In fact, many argue that the heavy consumption of yam, banana and breadfruit have helped power the sprinters.

Source: AFP

Nyam yam, myam-myam!