Sunday, June 20, 2021
Precipitation – Not happening
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Precipitation – Not happening
A melee among contestants at Blacktip Island’s 17th annual Dump-Off Repurposing Challenge Wednesday sent four people to jail, nine to the medical clinic and caused event organizers to cancel the contest.
“Everything was fine—we let contestants scope out the dump the day before, and off they went when we dropped the flag at dawn,” DORC chairperson Jay Valve said. “Then Linford Blenny and Edwin Chub, of all people, got in a scuffle over some condemned scuba cylinders and things spiraled from there.
“Next thing we knew, all the other contestants had joined in, whacking each other with bike wheels, bits of rotted roof tin, and anything else they could get their hands on,” Valve said. “It took us, and Rafe Marquette, a quarter of an hour to get everybody disarmed and disengaged. Dump-Offers are always keyed up and competitive, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Bystanders were shocked by the unexpected violence.
“We bring the kiddos every year so they can watch the DORCs in action,” Chrissy Graysby said. “It inspires them to be engineers. And garbage collectors. But now, they’re hiding under their beds and won’t stop crying. It’s frightening how a community event like this could erupt into a riot.
“Usually it’s quite Zen-like, with folks working all day to make something new and useful out of stuff someone else threw away,” Graysby said. “Last year, Clete Horne won with his lightsaber. Well sort of a lightsaber. It looked the part, but all it did was glow. And zap mosquitos. The little ones were so impressed. Now this.”
Island authorities arrested the riot’s instigators.
“Linford and Edwin were the first two I handcuffed,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “And Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee weren’t far behind. Other folks were just defending themselves, but those four lit the fuse by initiating multiple assaults.”
Blenny and Chub claimed innocence.
“I seen that scuba tank first and had my hand on it,” Blenny said. “Eyeballed it yesterday, then made a beeline to it when they dropped that flag. Next thing I know, little Edwin Chub’s walloping me with a set of handlebars and yelling I was taking what was his. Well, I walloped back, but good, with a busted rake. He had it coming, cheating like that.”
Chub denied the allegations.
“Linford was clearly in the wrong. I called dibs on the entire stack of cylinders as soon as the flag fell,” he said. “That counts. Yes, I pummeled him with the handlebars. And he’ll get an encore pummeling if he tries claim-jumping again.”
Event organizers are already studying safety measures for next year’s contest.
“Gonna come up with a hard-and-fast list of rules covering dibs, firsties and what have you for claiming items,” Valve said. “We want to get back to the days when folks’d calmly make a nice cooler out of an old fridge, or a fire pit from a washer drum. This is why we can’t repurpose nice stuff in the dump.”
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Precipitation – On the way
Cycling enthusiasts this week unveiled the Caribbean’s first underwater bicycle track, which winds through coral reefs on the island’s sheltered west coast, Blacktip Island Cycling Society officials announced Thursday.
“We all like biking, but Blacktip’s a tiny little rock and it gets awful boring after a while,” BICS president Billy Ray said. “Most of us’re scuba divers, too, so we figured, why not combine the two? I mean, folks ride bikes underwater as stunts all the time. We just expanded the idea to take full advantage of it.
“Started with us jumping bikes off Diddley’s Landing, then trying to pedal across the sand,” Ray said. “That put us in mind of a cross-country sort of course, only underwater. Pedaling in sand, you get bogged down pretty damn quick, so we laid out a crushed shell track. You can get some good speed up looping around them coral heads, depending on your bike and tank configuration.”
Group members are still refining their racing gear.
“People’re strapping dive weights to bottoms of their frames to keep the bikes on the track,” Chrissy Graysby said. “We’re wearing big-ass weight belts, too, for added traction. It’s a fine line between weighting and drag reduction.
“Skinny riders do best, duh, but we’re all monkeying with hydrodynamic suits and smaller scuba cylinders,” Graysby said. “Some racers are going with just a Speedo and a pony bottle. That can bite you though—you run out of air before you finish the course, you’re disqualified. And’ll probly drown if you don’t ditch your weights quick-like-the-bunny.”
Environmental activists decried the race course.
“This track is an absolute nightmare,” Blacktip Island REEF president Harry Pickett said. “We’re trying to protect the reefs, now there’s yahoos tearing around it on bikes, ripping up the ecosystem and trashing thousands of years of coral growth. You should see the ruts those damn tires are cutting across the reef.”
Other locals complained about the racer’s effect on underwater wildlife.
“Used to go out in the evening, catch dinner,” James Conlee said. “Now, Billy and them’ve scared off all the fish with this dumbassery. Had to buy dinner from the store all this past week. Cost me a bloody fortune.”
Club members say that criticism is unfounded.
“We don’t get close to coral. We made sure of that when we set up the course,” Leigh Shore said. “And any ruts get filled in with sand every time a storm comes through. Sure, the fish were spooked at first, but now they’re kind of curious and come check us out. There’s more fish than ever now. James’ll see. Eventually.
“Right now our focus’s on expanding the track,” Shore said. “We’re building bikes with steel frames so you don’t need to weight them down. And we’re gonna extend the course all the way around the island so we can have Tour de Blacktip races.”
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Precipitation – Not today
A pair of Blacktip Island residents exploring the small Caribbean island’s rugged interior Thursday discovered what they claim is a modern, non-fossilized skeleton of a plesiosaur, a finned, long-necked marine reptile thought extinct since the Mesozoic Era 66 million years ago.
“We were picking our way across the ironshore, looking for whelks when we saw it,” Alison Diesel said. “At first we thought it was just some manky old bones. We wondered how they got there, then we saw the shape they made. It was one of those swimming dinosaurs. A big one.
“The bones were way fresh, too,” Diesel said. “Only thing makes sense is these mofos are still alive, and all the high waves last week washed one up on shore. It’s freaky to think they’re still alive in the ocean.”
Old-time locals say the ideal of modern-day plesiosaurs isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.
“Always been talk about them being out there, way deep down the wall, like coelacanths,” marine mysteries afficionado Anthonio Fletcher said. “Time to time, divers say they seen long-necked somethings, but it’s usually folks that’d been down well past 100 feet, so it’s more likely it was too much nitrogen they saw.
“These bones, though, this is proof,” Fletcher said. “No denying ‘em, or that they’re shaped like a plesiosaur. We got crocodiles and caimans—why not plesiosaurs? The science folks can weigh in, but facts are facts.”
The island’s scientific community scoffed at the claims.
“There is no way there’s modern-day plesiosaur remains on Blacktip. Or anywhere else,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology chairperson Ernesto Mojarra said. “It’s a hoax. And an obvious one. We’re just waiting for experts to confirm that.
“I mean, look at the photos,” Mojarra said. “It’s a random collection of ham bones, iguana claws, cut-up scuba fins and fish spines. The shoulder joint is a couple of t-bones from steaks. And why’s it always Alison and Lee finding these things?”
Lee Helm bristled at Mojarra’s accusation.
“We absolutely did not build a dinosaur skeleton out of bones scrounged from the dump,” he said. “Why would we do that? I mean, it’s a gas to see everyone get riled up, but why would we do that?
“We’re just acute observers. We don’t find stuff, we notice it,” he added. “Every time there’s some scientific breakthrough, we get accused of faking things. The mersquatch, the kraken, Atlantis ruins, you name it. We deserve medals. It’s not fair.”
The island’s Chamber of Commerce is not waiting for official confirmation to roll out a plesiosaur-related promotional campaign.
“We got a plesiosaur adventure package going live this week. We got to lure tourists back after the border being closed for nearly a year and a half,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “For an all-in price, guests’ll get to see the skeleton, then explore the interior looking for more. The next day they go on a series of plesiosaur dives to see if they can spot one in the wild.
“We have our top dinosaur expert in charge of things,” Cobia said. “Truth be told, it’s Gage Hoase from Eagle Ray Cove, but he’s dinosaur savvy. Has been since 1st grade. You don’t believe it, just ask him. We had plans for an in-depth, interactive plesiosaur workshop, but we we need time to work that up. Plus, we really don’t want paying guests asking too many questions. That’s why the package comes with unlimited alcohol.”
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Precipitation – On its way
The Blacktip Island Community Players will mark the start of hurricane season Saturday with an audience-participation performance of the classic opera Aida at the small Caribbean island’s Heritage House, organizers said.
“Everyone gets a bit on edge at the start of hurricane season, so we thought we’d do something to lift folks’ spirits,” BICP choral director Doris Blenny said. “Instead of worrying about storms, we hope to create one, figuratively, by letting everyone get together and blow off some steam.
“We’ll have a cast on stage singing the parts, but everyone in the audience will be encouraged to join in with whatever part they choose, in whatever their vocal range. Or lack thereof,” Blenny said. “We encourage people singing the same parts to sit together, but it’s not necessary. And ear protection is fine, if anyone feels the need.”
Participants hope the event will enhance a sense of community.
“The idea’s to be totally inclusive, to not be ableist about anyone’s singing voice,” BICP member Payne Hanover said. “It’ll be an organic experience, with the audience creating the work as we go along. We’re doing it outside to accommodate as many people as possible. Also so people can run away if they feel the need.
“A vocal contingent of Players wanted to do Pirates of Penzance, but we shot that down,” Hanover said. “We did The Mikado a while back and don’t want to get stuck in a Gilbert and Sullivan rut. Plus, everybody loves Aida. For the audience, Egyptian-inspired garb is encouraged, but not required. Preferably something that screams ‘Old Kingdom.’”
The on-stage cast includes:
Not all residents are happy with the production.
“The last thing I want to hear Saturday evening is a bunch of people caterwauling off key,” Clete Horn said. “And the ones with the worst voices’re the ones who sing the loudest. I wanna hear that crap, I’ll go to karaoke on Friday. At least with that I have a choice of whether to go and listen. This nonsense’ll be right next door.”
Organizers were quick to respond to criticism.
“This event will not only bring us all together, it will also raise cultural awareness,” Blenny said. “And we’ll be donating all the proceeds to charity. We’re just not sure which one, yet.”