Sunday, March 26, 2023
Precipitation: Meh. Probly not
Sunday, March 26, 2023
Precipitation: Meh. Probly not
An unauthorized radio signal, transmitted underwater from an unknown source, angered scuba divers on Blacktip Island this week due to its use of unpopular pop music standards.
“It’s a constant stream of Bananarama, Justin Bieber and the Spice Girls,” visiting diver Chip Pompano said. “If there’s a jukebox in Hell, this is it. And it doesn’t stop, even on night dives. I’m to the point I’d rather not dive than be subjected to that crap.
“I’d rather just stay on Tiperon, even though the reefs are trashed there,” Pompano said. “The diving sucks, but at least it’s quiet.”
Island authorities are aggressively investigating the transmissions.
“Whoever’s broadcasting this music is doing so illegally without a broadcasting license,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Our immediate goal’s to locate the transmission source and shut it down. It’s proving difficult to trace, though, and we’re convinced the source is in motion offshore. We’ve got Marine Parks helping out, but they’re just as stymied as we are.
“We’re also investigating the motivation behind flooding the reefs with bad music,” Marquette said. “Who would benefit from that and why they would do it are significant questions.”
Local officials say stopping the transmissions is the top priority.
“It’s terrorism, pure and simple,” de facto island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’ve tried jamming the signal, to no avail. This keeps up, it’ll chase all our diving guests away. For good. And when that happens, it’s good bye Blacktip.
“Best guess is it’s those rat bastards over on Tiperon,” Cobia said. “They’ve always been jealous of us and all the divers liking us better than them. We need to figure out where they’re transmitting from. If it was a boat, we’d see it, so it has to be a sub or some kind of underwater drone. We asked the Coast Guard for depth charges, but they wouldn’t go for it.”
The music also has local dive staff on edge.
“If I hear the Little Mermaid one more time, I’m gonna hurt somebody,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Same for that damn Pina Colada song and Margaritaville. This stuff makes your teeth hurt. You can’t hear it on shore, but underwater, there’s no escape. A bunch of us are ready to quit.”
Some visiting divers, however, claimed to enjoy the music.
“It’s cool in a morbid sort of way, like walking across the street to get a better view of a car wreck,” Marlin White said. “It’s like there’s a reciprocity of crap, where the song is so bad it hits bottom and starts to head up toward ‘good’ again. Just this morning I heard Richard Harris singing that ‘someone left the cake out in the rain’ song, and I almost spit my reg I was laughing so hard. It’s great, like watching ‘Love Boat’ reruns.”
Sunday, March 18, 2023
Precipitation: Not anytime soon
Blacktip Island historians were divided this week over the significance of an ancient Roman coin, dated to the Second Century CE, found in a Blacktip Island cave Wednesday by amateur explorers.
“Jessie and me were poking around up on the bluff when we found this little metal disk,” Hugh Calloway said. “When I buffed it with my thumb, we could see it was a coin, with a guy’s head and one side and a seated woman on the other.
“We took it to the Heritage House, and they said it was a Roman something-or-other and took it away from us,” Calloway said. “If it’s so special, you’d think we’d get a ‘thank you,’ or a reward or something, but no way, José.”
Some island historians were excited by the find.
“This is a rough, worn, but unmistakable Roman sestertius, with the Emperor Hadrian on the face and Britannia on the obverse,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “There’s always been speculation about Romans having settled here in antiquity, and now we have proof.
The only way for this coin to get on the bluff is if a Roman settler dropped it,” Altschul said. “People here don’t just carry things like that around. It also gives context to the odd rock formations in that area. They’re not natural—they’re the foundations of ancient Roman buildings.”
Other experts questioned the find.
“Is the piece a 2,000-year-old sestertius? Maybe,” Tiperon University-Blacktip history professor Rashie Bottoms said. “Is that proof ancient Romans lived here millennia ago? Absolutely not. It’s far more likely someone bought it at a tourist stall in Italy, then inadvertently dropped it there. Or that Hugh and Jessie planted it there as some sort of hoax. Frankly, it smacks of a Jerrod Ephesians practical joke. Or a Chamber of Commerce marketing ploy
“There is zero historical record of Roman settlements in the Caribbean,” Bottoms said. “They certainly didn’t settle on some tiny, random island. And those rock formations are just that—basalt lava dams that pushed through the softer limestone ages ago.”
Island residents, however, embraced the idea.
“It makes perfect sense,” Catalina Luxfer said. “The Ra Expedition proved ancient people could sail from the Med to the Americas. And if Romans came here, up on the bluff’s exactly where they’d build, to be safe from storms. Folks always said Blacktippers have a Roman look about us. And Italian food’s always been popular here.”
Island officials remained noncommittal on the coin’s authenticity and importance.
“All I know is it’s got people excited,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Folks are greeting each other with ‘ave’ instead of ‘hi.’ And all the dive staff are calling fish by their Latin genus-and-species names. Guests love it. Rashie needs to shut up and get on board with this.
“The souvenir business’s booming, too,” Cobia said. “Every resort’s got Latin phrases on t-shirts and caps and coffee mugs. The only negative is Eagle Ray Cove resort had to pull a bunch of hats off the shelf when someone realized the Latin embroidered on them actually said, ‘Spank me, Big Boy. They were selling great, though.”
Neither Jerrod Ephesians nor the island’s Chamber of Commerce would return phone calls.
Sunday, March 12, 2023
A Blacktip Island entrepreneur this week opened the small Caribbean island’s first ‘inconvenience store,’ dubbed ‘Screw-U-Mart, to fill what he sees as a community need.
“Folks have it too easy on this island,” Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said.” They need to be challenged, to be grateful for what they’ve got. That’s where Screw-U-Mart comes in. We probably won’t have what you want. And if we do, you won’t be able to find it. Built the store down south, too, close to nothing, so it’s a pain in the tuchus to get here. People laughed at first, but we’re doing a brisk business. People’re gamblers at heart, and we’re playing into that.
“Shoppers come in eager to see what’s in the new store, and boy, do they get hacked off,” Plank said. “We carry mostly stuff no one needs like umbrellas, baby carriage wheels, bobble-head dolls, you name it. And of course, we don’t tell customers if we have whatever it is—they have to find it themselves. And if they can’t, we don’t care. Folks need to work for what they get. Or learn to live without.”
Local shoppers praised the new store.
“It’s hard to get stuff on Blacktip, so you get kind of blasé about shortages,” chef Corrie Anders said. “This new store changes all that. I drive all the way down to Doc’s place, he won’t have simple things like olive oil or potato chips, and I get annoyed as hell. I can cuss him, storm out and feel great the rest of the day. It cleans me out, then I can move on. I’ve got to where I enjoy getting mad there. If I’m having a bad day, I can go to Screw-U-Mart and get it all out of my system. It’s a brilliant, really.”
Local mental health experts agreed.
“Doc has created a lightning rod of sorts for the island’s residents, a service, if you will,” said Blacktip Island Psychological Association president Sigmund Skinner. “People are purposely driving out of their way, knowing their shopping expectations will be dashed, and releasing a lot of anger in the process. Long term, it’s much healthier, mentally, than keeping frustrations inside.
“It’s especially canny how Doc stocks genuinely useful, desirous merchandise, but mixes it in randomly among the junk,” Skinner said. “A can opener? There’s one there somewhere, but you’ll spend hours searching, and expunge a ton of anger in the process. Frankly, it’s as close as most Blacktippers will ever get to therapy. And most of them need that desperately.”
Other locals refuse to patronize the new store.
“Like there’s not enough that pisses me off already,” Rocky Shore said. “I can throw a tantrum in the comfort of my living room without the hassle of the drive. This’s just Doc pushing folks’ buttons. He gets off on that stuff. I won’t give him the satisfaction.”
The store has scheduled a series of sales, which Plank promises to cancel at the last minute. He has also issued coupons for in-store discounts, which he will refuse to honor.
Filed under best scuba diving novels, Caribbean, Scuba Diving
Sunday, March 5, 2023
Precipitation: Not happening