Monthly Archives: August 2019

White Smoke At Blacktip Island Dump Signals New Honorary Pope


A plume of white smoke rising from the Blacktip Island landfill Thursday afternoon signaled the election of a new Honorary Island Pope, the Blacktip Ecumenical Council officials said. (photo courtesy of Jerrod Ephesians/BEC)

White smoke rising from the Blacktip Island landfill Thursday afternoon signaled the election of a new Honorary Island Pope for the small Caribbean island, Blacktip Ecumenical Council officials said.

“Honorary Island Pope started years ago, when there was white smoke at the dump on Easter,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, the council’s presiding officer. “Someone made a joke about a new pope and everyone had good luck for the next few months, so we kept it up. Who’s eligible changes daily depending on the combination of date, day, month, and year.

“Thursday, Elena Havens’ name was up,” Ephesians said. “There’s no real duties and really doesn’t take much of anyone’s time. Most people forget about it after a few weeks. But you get to wear the outfit on formal occasions, so that’s a perk.”

Outgoing Honorary Island Pope Jay Valve was happy to pass the mitre to Havens.

“A year and a half’s a long time to serve. It’s time to move on,” he said. “Elena’ll do fine, and’ll look great in the hat. There was a robe, too, but I’m not sure what I did with it.”

Havens was honored by the unexpected election.

“I’ll be encouraging religious inclusion, even among the island’s atheists,” she said. “Blacktippers tend to twist teachings, religious and otherwise, into whatever they want to hear, and I won’t stand in the way of that tradition.

Not all residents were happy with the announcement.

“The very concept is offensive, and the Ecumenical Council should know better,” the Reverend Pierre Grunt said. “It’s blasphemous, making light of a two-thousand year old pillar of Christianity by handing some randomly-chosen layperson a hat made from a bar napkin.”

Havens downplayed Grunt’s concerns.

“The title’s really more sacrilegious than blasphemous. On Blacktip, that’s progress,” she said. “And the reef is my church. Anybody desecrates it, they’ll face the wrath of me. “That includes the Reverend and his out-of-season fishing and lobster poaching. I’ve smacked that fish-killer before, and I’ll do it again.”

Council officials noted not all island residents are eligible for the honorary papacy.

“Dermott Bottoms lost his eligibility permanently after a brief stint in office,” Ephesians said. “ The pope can’t be falling-down drunk every night. And urine is not Holy Water.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Island ‘Rat Race’ Resort Bike Rally Celebrates Shutdown

resort bike race

Ill-tended, one-speed resort bicycles in the Blacktip Haven bike racks await riders for Blacktip Island’s annual Rat Race bicycle race around the small Caribbean island Saturday. (photo courtesy of Jessie Catahoula)

The 17th Annual Island Rat Race resort bicycle rally around Blacktip Island is slated for Saturday afternoon, starting at the Blacktip Haven resort, to mark the Caribbean island’s hotels and dive operators shutting down for the height of hurricane season.

“It started it as a joke, but it proved quite popular,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “We named it after a guest who came face-to-face with a big dumpster rat and bolted on a resort bike, yelling bloody murder. The guy ended up broken down and bug bit down by Spider Bight.

“Contestants have to ride rusty, one-speed loaner bikes, and have to finish with the bike, or most of it,” Havens said. “These bikes are so abused, most won’t make it all the way around the island. Pedals break. Chains fall off. Handlebars come loose. It’s great fun to watch.”

Race organizers pair riders and bikes randomly.

“Riders draw numbers from a hat, and the number corresponds to a slot in the Haven bike rack,” Blacktip Haven staffer Jessie Catahoula said. “The best riders can get total junk bikes, and vice versa. And no maintenance is done, or is even allowed, prior to the race.”

“Most years it’s a victory just to finish,” Catahoula said. “These bikes aren’t up to an unpaved, 18-mile loop. Plus, down the east coast, where there’s no one watching, racers get nasty—kicking other riders, shoving branches in their spokes, that sort of thing. That’s part of what makes it a sport.”

Participants say the race is not for the faint hearted.

“It’s more a survival challenge than a race,” Club Scuba Doo divemaster Finn Kiick said. “You’re fighting your bike and the other riders taking whacks at you and your bike. Back in the day you had to finish on a functioning bike, but that wasn’t realistic.

“Last year Gage Hoase won carrying his bike across his shoulders,” Kiick said. “Well, most of the bike. Enough of it for it to count. Chase cars trail the racers to collect all the trashed bikes and beat-to-hell riders.”

Emergency personnel are stretched thin preparing for the race.

“Everyone raves about how fun the Rat Race is, but I have to bring up the rear with a pick up full of medical supplies to tend all the injured contestants,” island nurse Marissa Blenny said. “I treat more people during this damn race than I do the rest of the year. Locals, tourists, they all bleed the same. Last year I ran out of bandages and splints.”

As ever, judges will be stationed at both island intersections to make sure no one takes a short cut across the island.

The winner receives a ‘King Rat’ t-shirt, a beer and free medical attention, if required.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Island Dump Opens Auto Parts Department

car parts at dump

Blacktip Island’s public health officials have created a salvage-friendly zone for trashed vehicles at the Caribbean island’s landfill. (photo courtesy of Stoney Macadam/DPH)

Blacktip Island’s Department of Public Health this week announced it has cleared a new area in the Caribbean island’s garbage dump dedicated to salvaging auto parts, DPH officials said.

“We used to stack junk vehicles any which way we could,” DPH chief Stoney Macadam said. “Folks were free to snag parts off them, but a lot of times you couldn’t get to you needed in the jumble.

“There was enough demand, so we’re lining up incoming junk cars to let folks access them easier,” Macadam said. “This helps people and gets junk out of the dump. It’s win-win, really.”

Local experts praised the move.

“Stoney’s done the island a favor with this,” government watchdog Wade Soote said. “The new parts section’s essentially a salvage yard. That makes reusing and recycling easy and benefits everyone.”

“And kudos for not charging a parts fee,” Soote said. “People already call the dump Home Depot. Now it’s Pep Boys, too. And still a bargain.”

Residents agreed.

“I been trying to find the right Jeep radiator cap for weeks,” Christa Goby said. “There was a Jeep there, but buried at the bottom of the pile. I couldn’t get at it. The parts store on Tiperon wanted a bloody fortune for a new cap. I’ve been biking to work.

“Now, with cars lined up all nice and neat, I grabbed the cap I needed just this morning,” Goby said. “My Jeep’s back in action for the first time in weeks.”

Some businesses objected to the move.

“People using second-hand parts instead of new ones creates a major auto safety situation,” Tiperon Auto Parts owner Harry Blenny said. “Vehicles with derelict parts won’t pass their annual inspection. I’ll bet. Cousin Quinn does the inspections over there, and he’ll be looking for that sort of thing. And Cousin Rosie in the legislature’s drafting a law against it.”

Other residents raised safety concerns about the new area.

“Getting cut by rusty metal’s always a hazard, but folks need to watch out for iguanas, too,” Ernestine Bass said. “They like to laze on the hot metal and can be damned territorial. Got one hell of a bite yesterday trying to pull an alternator.”

Still others praised the area’s unforeseen leisure opportunities.

“The dump’s always been a fun place to take the family, but now it’s educational, too,” Ginger Bass said. “We can take the kiddos there to teach them about engines and auto mechanics and how to work a stick shift.

“We’re packing a picnic lunch Saturday and’ll make a day of it,” Bass said. “The little ones are so excited.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Island Divemasters To Stage Lizzie Borden Snorkeling Tribute

Lizzie Borden

Several of the hand axes that will be used in Saturday afternoon’s performance of Don’t Ax Me Again—The Lizzie Borden Story, an original two-act play by local divemaster Alison Diesel. (photo courtesy of Magnolia677)

Dive staff from all Blacktip Island’s resorts will don snorkel gear Saturday afternoon to perform Don’t Ax Me Again—The Lizzie Borden Story in the Eagle Ray Divers pool to raise money for a local charity.

“A hundred years later people are still debating what happened,” videographer Leigh Shore said. “There was a damn-near fight among dive staff at happy hour over who the actual ax murderer had been. Then a few days later, Alison Diesel’d written a two-act play about it. We all got together to stage the thing since the Community Players wouldn’t touch it.

“We’re performing it in the pool so as many people as possible could see it first hand,” Shore said. “The snorkeling gear will really engage the diving audience. We were going to do it on scuba, but this seemed less cliché. And it’s surprisingly easy to understand lines spoken through snorkels.”

The production posed several challenges for the actors.

“It’s totally a period piece, but there’s no 1890s gear on the island,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Each actor ended up making their own costume. It’s amazing what you can do with neoprene, and the fin de siècle touches on the masks and snorkels is awesome.

“It also took some practice swinging an ax convincingly in a crowed swimming pool without actually hurting anyone,” Diesel said. “The handle gets slippery. The first rehearsal I lost my grip, the ax went flying and broke four pool tiles. Rich Skerritt’s pretty hacked off about that.”

The performance will feature:

Alison Diesel as Lizzie Borden

Gage Hoase as Andrew Borden

Leigh Shore as Abigail Borden

Marina DeLow as John Morse

Booger Bottoms as Maggie Sullivan

Finn Kiick as Dr. Owen Seabury

Some in the community questioned the play’s appropriateness.

“The subject’s in bad taste, and the staging is inappropriate,” resident Frank Maples said. “Bad taste and inappropriate are de rigueur on Blacktip, but still, there’s a certain gravitas one would hope for. We’ll see if the actors convey that in the live performance.

“The big worry, though, is it may give locals crazy ideas,” Maples said. “That’s the last thing Blacktip needs. Though Alison assures me it is for a good cause.”

Diesel said the money raised will go to charity.

“All proceeds go to the Divemaster Retirement Fund, minus what we keep for expenses,” she said. “We’re also asking for donations to help pay for the broken pool tiles.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving

Giant Vacuum Keeps Blacktip Island Chickens In Check

chicken shucker

Blacktip resident Piers ‘Doc’ Planck has modified a beach-cleanup vacuum device to remove nuisance, feral chickens from the around the Caribbean island’s resorts. (photo courtesy of ‘Doc’ Planck)

A Blacktip Island entrepreneur launched a controversial plan Wednesday to control the Caribbean island’s burgeoning feral chicken population by vacuuming them up with a tractor-mounted suction device.

“Island roosters used to be quaint, crowing down by the air strip, but now they’ve spread down to the whole west coast,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “They’re a major pain in the butt, crowing non stop all night at the resorts.

“They’re keeping tourists awake and crapping on everything,” Cobia said. “Guests’re telling their friends and Blacktip’s visitor numbers are dropping. Doc’s solution’s a bit extreme, but these damn chickens created an extreme problem.”

Island resident Piers ‘Doc’ Planck said the device siphons up the birds, reduces them to a fine meal and deposits them in barrels towed behind the device.

“We tried nets, traps, slingshots, you name it. Nothing worked,” he said. “We’re using a modified version of the gizmo that sucks seaweed off the beach, with a nozzle adjusted for medium to large jungle fowl. I’m calling it the Chicken Shucker.

“I wanted something that’d wring their necks and pluck them so we could sell the meat to restaurants,” Planck said. “Then the plucker attachment malfunctioned and ground them up instead, and I thought, ‘well, that still solves the problem.’ Death’s instant and humane, and we sell the meal as fertilizer and fish bait.”

Animal rights activists decried the device.

“This monstrosity is neither kind nor humane,” island People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “Doc’s chasing chickens through the brush with a giant vacuum, then running them through a wood chipper. Their last moments are sheer terror.

“We have a fenced-in sanctuary at the south end of the island to house nuisance chickens, and we have humane, live-capture traps set up around all the resorts to capture them,” Pickett said. “Grinding up chickens is not the answer. And what about all the land crabs and iguanas sucked up as by-catch?”

Planck brushed aside those concerns.

“Occasionally we do end up sucking in non-chicken wildlife, be it a crab or songbird or what have you,” he said. “We train our staff extensively on how to avoid that kind of thing, to keep it to a minimum. But with a project this big, you have to expect some ancillary losses.

“That’s a small price to pay compared to what a boost the Chicken Shucker is to the island economy. You have to focus on the big picture,” Planck said. “Also, truth be told, after the first few chickens, you start to kind of enjoy it.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean