Blood and cement

As if the recent shortage of cement in Jamaica was not bad enough for the construction industry, I read in today’s Gleaner that companies will now have to factor the cost of blood offerings into their budget plans:

CONSTRUCTION WORK came to a halt at the Piñero Group hotel site in Pear Tree Bottom, near Runaway Bay in St. Ann, yesterday, after a section of one of the buildings collapsed, pinning workers beneath the rubble. […]

“I was taking a rest when I saw the building falling down with a man on top of it, holding a vibrator and screaming for help,” a contractor told The Gleaner. “When he reached ground, I rushed over and began removing huge chunks of concrete that buried him from the waist down. […]

The freak accident forced the emergency services to scurry to the scene where they engaged in a rescue and investigation operation.

The workers contend that the 16-foot columns in the area that buckled were not shored up properly to reinforce them for decking.


But they have since expressed fear to continue labouring at the site, as they believe a supernatural force is behind the increasing number of accidents there in recent months.

“They will have to kill seven cows and seven donkeys to quench the thirst of the land with blood,” one worker commented.

Another man, who has only been employed for two months, remarked: “The lands want blood; every week people fall off the building. One man fell from the third floor just last weekend.”

Apart from the instant and precise solution to the problem, what appeals to me is the choice of words and information. No UK or US press would use the verb scurry to describe the arrival of emergency services. Adding the seemingly irrelevant information that the final commentator had only been employed for two months jolts me into wondering if there is not a hidden reason for this information (Maybe he’s behind it all!).

The writer also captures the idiosyncracies of the workers’ world, the contractor describing the fall with the delightful understatement, “When he reached the ground”. And to prove that there’s an Old Testament prophet on every street corner in Jamaica, the second worker comments, “They will have to kill seven cows and seven donkeys to quench the thirst of the land with blood.”

Note: the prophesy seems to be a mix of Genesis 41 and Jeremiah 46:10. I think he was just ad-libbing with the donkeys.

Running the red light

Kingston abounds in roadside exhortations.

Scripture billboard
Some go for a minimalist approach.

The reference is a call for peace and calm.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Rhymin signs

My favourite road signs are the calls for good civic behaviour through simple rhymes.

Put them to music and Lou Reed could sing ’em.

The eagle-eyed might spot the scripture reference stuck on the middle sign. Leviticus 20:13. Don’t ask. You don’t want me to get started on that one again.

Meanwhile in Grants Pen, our own private ghetto, I caught this jaywalker in flagrante delicto.

Running the red light

Sod ’em and begorrah

Following up Zinnia’s links on my earlier post, I found this mildly interesting article, I was born this way, from the Jamaican Gleaner in 2001.

More fascinating was the comments page.

There’s an initially amusing flame war between TT and Saleem and his girlfriend, before the online casino comment spam takes over. The page was still loading after 15 minutes.

However, what first struck me on reading the comments were the abusive ALL CAPS and PLANE IGNERNCE on display. People bashing the Bible trying to cite precedence without even being able to spell Gomorrah (Sodom’s easy).

Darn! Why couldn’t God’ve chosen an easier town to destroy, like … LA?

Let’s check out the scripture, shall we?

To bring you up to speed, God tells Abraham that he’s anxious about what’s going down in the cities of the plains. He says they’re doing bad stuff, sin and the like and that he’s going to send in a couple of divine messengers for a recce. The two messengers are met at the city gate of Sodom by Lot, who tries to convince them to take shelter from his brutal fellow citizens.

Genesis 19:
3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

The key word here, of course, is “know”. Most interpret it to mean “have sex with”, which will put a twinkle in your eye the next time you hear

Darling, do you know Mr Kawazumi, our new IT man?
How well do you really know someone?
Knowing me, knowing you, Ah-ha!

Elsewhere in the Bible, the sins of Sodom are more explicit.

Ezekiel 16:
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

Oh dear. Not just the queers then.

The Babylonian Talmud, recounts even more specific examples of the wickedness of Sodom.

There were four judges in Sodom named Shakrai (Liar), Shakurai (Awful Liar), Zayyafi (Forger), and Mazle Dina (Perverter of Justice). Now if a man assaulted his neighbour’s wife and bruised her, they would say to the husband, Give her to him, that she may become pregnant for thee. If one cut off the ear of his neighbour’s ass, they would order, Give it to him until it grows again.

If one wounded his neighbour they would say to the victim, Give him a fee for bleeding thee [bloodletting was sometimes considered medically beneficial in those days; here the Sodomite judge ruled that if you are beaten until you bleed, you owe your attacker money for this medical service].

… they had beds upon which travellers slept. If the guest was too long they shortened him by lopping off his feet; if too short, they stretched him out …

If a poor man happened to come there, every resident gave him a denar [coin], upon which he wrote his name, but no bread was given [the store owners recognized such coins, and refused to accept them]. When he died, each came and took back his denar.

Sanhedrin 109a

Alrighty, we get the picture, but let’s get back to our latter-day hero, Lot, played by … I’m seeing Harrison Ford here.

What does Lot do, faced with the mob surrounding his house, baying for his guests?

And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Niiiice. In the name of hospitality, throw your virgin daughters to the gang bangers. God’s truth.

Oy vey!

Lucifer, son of the morning

I’m gonna chase you out of earth!

So begins one of my all-time favourite songs, Chase the Devil by Max Romeo, produced by the divinely crazy Lee Perry. Its startling opening lines are lifted from the Bible.

Romeo: Lucifer son of the morning, I’m gonna chase you out of earth!
Isaiah 14:12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Romeo: I’m gonna put on a iron shirt, and chase Satan out of earth. I’m gonna put on a iron shirt, and chase the devil out of earth.
Job 18:18: He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.

Romeo: I’m gonna send him to outta space, to find another race. I’m gonna send him to outta space, to find another race. Satan is an evilous man, But him can’t chocks it on I-man. So when I check him my lassing hand. And if him slip, I gaan with him hand.

Errr … don’t think my King James’ says anything about evilous and chocking …

In one biographical note I read on Romeo, when he was young and feckless, he narrowed his ambitions down to two: preacher or singer. He chose right.

I included the track in a musical quiz in September 2006. Check it out.