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Tragedy for New York Steelpan Community

 Steelpan music supporter murdered

WST Special by AH

New York - If I had to write a vignette of our microcosm of Caribbean life in Brooklyn, I would have to put in an entire chapter about Mervís Bakery. Merv (a Despers man, but more on that later) had a shop on Nostrand Avenue and President Street that was unlike any bakery I have ever been to in that you couldnít always get bread there.

What? No bread? In my assessment, Mervís was more like a hobby shop. All the ingredients for bread, currants rolls, coconut drops, sweet bread were contained within, but whence cometh the bread? Most bakeries open at an ungodly 4:30 a.m. to start the production going so that bread can start rolling off the line, no pun intended. Not Mervís.

Some time around 4:00 pm a LIMITED supply of hot baked goods came out of the oven. The bread was delicious; the pone worth waiting for. Sometimes you could take home a loaf and it would have vanished before you made it to your door.

One of the greatest indications that hope is alive was the line outside the bakery in the evening. In spite of being turned away when the bread was done yesterday, people still came back Ė hoping to get a taste for the evening.

The one time of the year you knew that you had to wait, though, was the carnival season. Merv religiously closed up shop, not even leaving a note to say when he would return, to go back to Trinidad. A huge supporter of Desperadoes and its New York offshoot, one always knew where he stood on matters of Pan.

Yesterday evening, Merv (Mervyn Johnson) was shot and killed in front of his home on Brooklyn Avenue. We often lament the levels of violence that our society has come to. The anger in the streets, in particular among our youth is palpable and we have reached a point where we can label many of them as depraved. This, and other incidents bring home how tenuous our hold on life is. We lament the loss of our players and arrangers. So too should we mourn when a strong supporter is taken from us.

click for NY Daily News article


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