Brooklyn, New York, USA - It was like a scene from “I Am Legend” the Will Smith movie. And coming out of a global pandemic that is indeed a little too close for comfort. Complete desolation. No bands, no spectators, no pan, no rhythm [riddim], no sound, no music - only a sprinkling of police every 20 feet or so, as far as the eyes could see, along the route between Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue, and Grand Army Plaza and Flatbush - the starting point of the J’Ouvert celebrations. What was I missing? Not even one wayward or late Jab Jab.
There was lots of oil, paint, and powder splattered all over the street. Normally, this was more than enough evidence that a J’Ouvert band or occurrence had come through the area.
This was at 7:53 a.m. when I arrived at the corner of Flatbush Avenue & Empire Boulevard and texted my colleague in shock: “No more bands.” Having already been through other bands crossing the first judging point at Bedford Avenue, walking back to where it all begins to see who was yet to come, was the next logical step.
Everything was dramatically scaled down. However, the few bands that did turn out were just as vibrant and creative as in past participation. Three steelbands turned out, two from Brooklyn - Hearts of Steel and Harmony Music Makers - and Philly Pan Stars from Philadelphia. A few Rhythm sections came out, and so too did Greenhouse Jab Jab.
Harmony Music Makers at J’Ouvert 2022
It was just about 6:15 a.m. when we went through the security check point on Nostrand Avenue and Empire. Admittedly, this was the latest I have ever attended a Brooklyn J’Ouvert Celebration - as the general start time of 2:00 a.m. was moved to 6:00 a.m. in recent years. Traditional J’Ouvert in pre-dawn hours under the cover of night generated a special ambience. We sure miss that.
Kutters J’Ouvert Mas 2022
Walking west on Empire Boulevard we encountered about six bands. That was the shocker. In the past as the 11:00 a.m. shutdown time approached there could be still be more bands on Flatbush Avenue still waiting to make that left turn onto Empire Boulevard.
So where did everyone go?
Days before the event there was a deliberate media bliz that focused on past violence attributed to the J’Ouvert celebration. This no doubt kept many revelers and spectators away.
Coming out of a global pandemic it is safe to assume many people kept away.
There was no Steelband Panorama competition this year. Activating participants, particularly the young folk, in the J’Ouvert event is significantly and symbiotically connected to Panorama. Just one such correlation over the years: twelve steel orchestras competed in the 2005 New York Panorama, and nine of those twelve came out to J’Ouvert.
The late Trinidad and Tobago journalist and entertainment editor Terry Joseph once declared that if you wanted to experience an authentic J’Ouvert, one then had to travel to Brooklyn J’Ouvert; maybe this is not the case so much anymore.
However, J’0uvert once again showed how thousands of people
from different countries, backgrounds, cultures and races can come
together, have a good time and celebrate each other. No Hundred Years’
Malicious, vicious and misleading news reporting designed to harm, damage and scare.
The following is a 1010WINS News Report. At first look one notices that the picture is not part of the J’Ouvert route; the picture shows the Nostrand Avenue and Eastern Parkway intersection. Moreover, the alleged incident took place at 2:12 in the afternoon - J’Ouvert ends at 11:00 a.m. Furthermore, police said the victim was not a part of the J’Ouvert parade. So why link this incident to the J’Ouvert Celebration?
J’Ouvert is not the St. Patrick’s Day Parade or SantaCon which for decades have reported and documented incidents of violence within the events themselves, and nearby areas. And unlike this year’s J’Ouvert celebration, the media does not go flat out tarring those events just days before they unfold.
Despite disingenuous and deceptive media reports and other officials’ pre-hysteria, Brooklyn’s 2022 J’Ouvert demonstrated that the participants have and continue to get along in extreme harmony while celebrating and displaying the highest form of art and cultural expression.
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