Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2014 Contents A29
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
After decades of telling his story
through music, Paul Simon is ready
to rely on words alone.
The celebrated singer-songwriter
has agreed to cooperate with author
and music critic Robert Hilburn for a
planned biography. Simon & Schus-
ter, winner of a recent six-publisher
auction, announced the acquisition
Tuesday and told The Associated
Press that the book was still untitled
and did not yet have a release date.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Hilburn s previous books include
the memoir Corn Flakes With John
Lennon and Other Tales from a Rock
n Roll Life and a biography of
Johnny Cash. Publishers have long
been anxious for a book from Simon,
among the world s most popular, in-
trospective and articulate musicians.
"I thought seriously about writing
my own memoir, but I d rather de-
vote my time to making music,
which continues to hold my full at-
tention," Simon explained in a state-
ment issued through his publisher.
"I m confident Robert Hilburn will
write an insightful book. I enjoyed
his biography of Johnny Cash." (AP)
Paul Simon co-operating for planned biography
What do a teacher, a car parts dealer
and a wildly successful tabloid jour-
nalist have in common?
Patrick Chookolingo (1922-1986) per-
formed all three jobs at different times,
the public learned last Wednesday, when
veteran journalist Lennox Grant gave a
talk on Chookolingo (affectionately called
Choko) at the National Library. It was
part of a series of events organised by
the Friends of Mr Biswas to focus on
the role of T&T journalists.
Irreverent, dynamic and unrepentant,
Chookolingo pioneered the weekly
tabloid newspaper business in T&T.
When he released his Bomb paper on
the streets in 1972, he also unleashed
an explosive, investigative, sensational
style of story-telling that thrilled readers
accustomed to tamer fare, and threw
fear into the hearts of anyone targeted
in his exposés, the audience heard.
A possible typographical error in the
opening title slide accompanying Grant s
talk: A Good Story is a Good Story:
Patrick (sic) Chookolingo, A Man
Unleashed---was explained by chair Ray-
mond Ramcharitar, in deadpan tones,
as being quite deliberate: "The Bomb
didn t always get it right; but it got it
A good story...or bacchanal?
A debonair Grant (a former editor-
in-chief of the T&T Guardian) explained
that the title of his talk referred to
instances when Choko would defend
the publication of certain (possibly out-
rageous) stories, Choko would simply
maintain: "A good story is a good story."
And if it happened to be wrong, why,
he would just print another story the
next day, with quotes on the new view-
Grant said Choko followed many con-
ventions of what makes good news---
such as timeliness, prominence, aware-
ness of likely consequence, and human
interest---while adding his own "indige-
nous" news values, described by Grant
as: "Bacchanal, with or without socially
The approach made The Bomb a run-
away commercial success: Grant said
that in 1975, the paper claimed a cir-
culation of 50,000.
Influences from MacGowan
Grant traced Choko s approach to
influences from Galt MacGowan, the
Guardian news editor in the early 1930s
who, for a short time, shaped the free-
wheeling style of another reporter---
Seepersad Naipaul, father of famous
novelist VS Naipaul. Encouraged and
edited by MacGowan, Seepersad devel-
oped a colourful, vivid human interest
style with distinct elements of sensation,
humour, poetic licence and the macabre.
Perhaps Seepersad s example set a
precedent for people like Patrick
Chookolingo---this idea was floated, but
not explored in depth. There is a dif-
ference between vivid writing ("...a daily
celebration of the vivid life of the island")
and dishonest sensationalism; no one
addressed this at the presentation.
Abdul Malik connection
Tracing one way in which Choko s
path crossed VS Naipaul s, Grant recalled
that both VS Naipaul and Patrick
Chookolingo were fascinated by the
many stories and amazing characters
thrown up in the era of the 1970s Black
Power unrest in Trinidad.
One such story was the case of
Trinidad-born Michael de Freitas, who
renamed himself Michael Abdul Malik
or Michael X.
A pimp and drug-pusher who rein-
vented himself as a self-appointed Black
Power activist in London, he was hanged
for murder in 1975 in Port-of-Spain s
Royal Jail after the bodies of two of his
group s members, British Gale Ann Ben-
son and local barber Joseph Skerritt,
were found in shallow graves on the
burned Arima site of Malik s commune
(Choko once met de Freitas in London
back in 1965, Grant reported, and was
fascinated by him).
• Continues on Page A30
Did Chookolingo's tabloid journalism help or hurt T&T?
Former T&T Guardian editor-in
chief Lennox Grant, who has
been researching Chookolingo's
work for several years.
PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
Links Archive November 4th 2014 November 6th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page