The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Enjoy

October 29, 2012

Jeremiah Tucker: Trip to Jamaica more like trip to ‘Jamerica’

JOPLIN, Mo. — I spent most of last week in Jamaica. I was on a pilgrimage to see where one of popular music’s greatest gifts to the world recorded his most beloved songs. To see the culture that inspired Snoop Lion firsthand was eye opening.

I kid. I didn’t get to witness anything as authentically Jamaican as where Snoop Dogg recorded his upcoming reggae album.

I was there to attend the wedding of my best friend, which was in one of those sealed-off resorts that my wife referred to as “Jamerica.” Not that this prevented other Americans at the resort from feeling sufficiently fluent in Jamaican culture to begin unironically peppering their speech with, “Ya, mon.”

On the way to the airport, at the end of the trip, our bus driver talked about how important tourism is to the country, and this young white guy next to me, in all earnestness, shouted “respect” in his best approximation of the easy Jamaican lilt. I’m not even sure what he meant by that. Respect tourism?

But was it any surprise that a Bob Marley compilation was playing over the bus’s speakers? Bob Marley was omnipresent.

His face was on merchandise from beach towels to T-shirts, and his music was played often and proudly at the various bars in the resort or by locals with guitars busking on the beach. At our particular resort, Saturday was Bob Marley day, and you could make tie-dye shirts at 10 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. in the reggae legend’s honor.

What I kept trying to figure out was whether Jamaicans really listen to this much Marley, or if they were trying to put us at ease, knowing full well that all most Americans know about Jamaica are Usain Bolt, the movie “Cool Runnings” and, above all, Bob Marley.

While I have no doubt Marley is an unassailable legend in Jamaica, as he is all over the world, I would be surprised if the majority of the locals listen to him at the exclusion of the rest of the island’s impressively rich musical heritage.

I suspected the snapshot of Jamaica presented to us was designed to adhere as closely as possible to easy island living, which is why we were quickly shuttled from the airport through impoverished communities to the white-walled buildings of the resort. Also, at the Montego Bay airport there is a Jamaican bobsled-themed bar and grill.

Not that I anticipated an all-inclusive resort that essentially functions as a stationary cruise to be an immersion into Jamaican culture, nor am I implying that I didn’t have a good time Ñ because it was great fun. Rather, I was just amused at how the experience felt like Jamaica was doing its best to reflect how it believed Americans viewed it, and in turn betraying how it viewed Americans.

Jamaica’s grasp on American culture also seemed as tenuous as ours of their own. The evening’s entertainment one night was billed as “oldies,” and the house band played everything from Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” to the Village People’s “YMCA” and Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.” The band was pretty tight though and did a killer Sam Cooke medley, even if its concept of oldies seemed slightly incoherent.

Sometimes I didn’t know if they were just messing with me. On our last day, one of the employees told me, as if imparting great wisdom, “In Jamaica we have an old saying: ‘All good things must come to an end.’” I was like, “We have a similar saying in America.”

During the wedding reception on the beach I was playing some songs off my iPod, and the young wait staff kept requesting Lady Gaga. So, in other words, they like the same things we do.

I’ll never know if, as I had envisioned and hoped, Jamaicans jam on old King Tubby and Augustus Pablo records while blazing giant spliffs all day, but I did my best to live up to their vision of America. At one point I was dancing, spun out of control and crashed into a tiki torch. The resort’s wedding coordinator helped me up saying, “I think you’ve had enough fun for tonight.” She was probably right.

1
Text Only
Enjoy
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071114_steve cindy head.jpg New exhibit combines works of married couple

    Steve and Cindy Head create different types of art, which means they can be each other's best mentor. Steve makes mixed media works assembled from photographs, headlines and more; Cindy paints vivid patterns and fanciful scenes with bold color palettes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo