Electrical linemen descend from helicopters, balancing on steel girders 90 feet high on transmission towers in the mountains of central Puerto Rico, far from any road.
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A Carnival coda
There’s a real possibility, in the rush to post mortem the major missteps of Carnival 2014, that we will make more, far-reaching mistakes in the planning of future editions of the festival.
We are on the verge of deputising a cavalcade of cultural Captain Bakers, the now largely-mythical villain of the annual Canboulay performance, to police the boundaries of what is allowed and desirable in a festival that is founded on the idea of the bacchanalian release of intellectual inhibitions.
So many of the issues that surfaced during the celebrations of 2014 arose from exactly that fundamental conflict. Bands being penalised for having underage celebrants and for starting at the wrong point in the parade route.
Everything about the defiantly privatised Socadrome event.
It’s as if we now believe that Carnival must be continuously subsidised and ruthlessly regulated if we are ever to whip it into shape.
But consider something else. Consider the very heart of Carnival itself, the private urge to present something engaging and creative as a contribution to the festival itself. The essential motivation that has driven everyone from Minshall to a young Paramin jab jab to do something so outrageous, so startling, so utterly unusual that we are moved to do nothing more that stand stunned and mutter, “well, that is mas.”
To explain this a bit less abstractly, let me tell you a story about how I came to immerse myself in what’s called pretty mas for two years.