Tag Archives: Tim W. Jackson

Does Photo Show Elvis, Jim Morrison Alive On Blacktip Island?

Elvis on Blacktip

A photo from the Blacktip Island Historical Society archives that society officials say shows Elvis Presley (at right, with back to camera) and Doors singer Jim Morrison (at left, in background) alive on Blacktip Island in the late 1970s, well after both musicians’ alleged deaths. (photo courtesy of the Blacktip Island Historical Society)

Historians at the Blacktip Island Historical Society Thursday announced the discovery of a photograph that indicates Elvis Presley and Doors front man Jim Morrison were alive on Blacktip Island well after their reported deaths.

The photo, which shows the back of a man’s head officials say is Presley’s and part of the forehead of a man they say is Morrison, supports local legends that the two rock and roll icons lived out their later lives in seclusion on the small Caribbean island.

“You could have knocked me down with a feather when I found it,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “I called in a couple of associates, and they were both gobsmacked.

“There’s not enough detail to use facial recognition, but we do have top-of-the-line head recognition software,” Altschul said. “And boy did it ping on those two figures.”

Many residents feel vindicated by the find.

“There’s been talk for years about Elvis and Jim Morrison coming to Blacktip to escape all the media ruckus,” amateur historian Doris Blenny said. “But there was only circumstantial evidence: lots of Skerritts with major sideburns, and all those shaggy-headed Bottomses running around.

“So many of us have wanted to believe for so long,” Blenny said. “It’s nice to finally find solid evidence. Or something close to it.”

Others agree the photo adds credence to the theory the two men spent their final days on Blacktip.

“Elvis dying on the toilet? Brother Jim dying of heart failure at 27? I don’t think so,” said resident Rusty Goby. “Daddy used to tell of a local scuba-ska band in the 80s called ‘El Viz and the Hatches.’ That can’t be coincidence.

“There’s no photos or footage of them playing, but them hiding out here makes way more sense than dying on the crapper,” Goby said. “And Morrison spent a ton of time on Blacktip before he formed the Doors. He called himself the ‘Lizard King’ after the island iguanas.”

Others, though, say too much is being read into the photo.

“The people in that picture could be anyone,” local Christina Mojarra said. “The back of someone’s head? Seriously? Smithson needs to lay off the white rum. He’s just looking for attention. And funding.”

Society officials denied claims the photo is a marketing ploy for an upcoming fundraiser.

“Sure, there’s a music festival next week to raise money for our archives,” Altschul said. “But it’s pure chance that we’re featuring Elvis impersonators and Doors cover bands.

“This photo has helped get the word out, though,” Altshul added. “We’re looking for a bigger venue. People can’t get flights to Blacktip, the planes are so full.”

Some residents can’t wait for the festival to start.

“I doubt either is still alive, but what if they are?” Blenny said. “How incredible would it be if Elvis and Jim Morrison showed up, maybe even sang together on stage?”

Tickets can be purchased at the Blacktip Island Historical Society.

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Power Outages Spawn Lottery Among Blacktip Islanders

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Blacktip Island’s aging electric generator is the heart of the island’s power grid. Frequent power outages have prompted residents to organize a lottery in which participants guess the time of the next outage, with the closest guess winning a cash prize. (photo courtesy of Dual Freq)

After numerous power outages on Blacktip Island in recent weeks, residents have organized a cash lottery that allows people to guess the day and time of the next power outage, with a portion of the winnings going to the Caribbean island’s aging power plant.

“Electricity’s been going out daily, sometimes multiple times,” lottery organizer Kay Valve said. “Public Works has blamed everything from a faulty generator to broken insulators to iguanas chewing on the power lines. The surges are killing our computers and other electronics, no matter how many surge protectors we use.

“We’re making lemonade out of lemons, and hopefully helping solve the problem in the process,” Valve said. “For a dollar, you pick the date, time and duration of the next outage. Half of the pot goes to the winner and half goes to the power plant for facility upgrades.”

The island’s Public Works Department has embraced the plan.

“The phone was ringing off the hook this past month with people howling mad about losing power,” public works chief Stoney MacAdam said. “It got to where we were scared to go out in public, folks were so hacked off.”

“Now it’s a game. People want the power to go out,” MacAdam said. “They cheer when it does. Of course, the down side is folks gaming the system. Yesterday we caught Dermott Bottoms trying to chop a power line with his machete so he could win the big jackpot. We’re alert for that kind of thing.”

The lottery is popular among Blacktip Island residents as well.

“If throwing in a few dollars’ll keep my A/C running, I’m all for it,” said resident Paloma Fairlead. “Plus, any money I win goes toward new internet modems. With all the outages and surges, I’m going through two a week these days.”

However, not all residents support the gaming.

“This is gambling, plain and simple,” said the Rev. Pierre Grunt. “It’s immoral and illegal. The next thing you know there’ll be casinos and who knows what else ruining Blacktip. I keep badgering Rafe Marquette to shut it down, but he wont do it.”

The island’s police constable downplayed the legal issues.

“It’s not strictly legal, but it is for the public good, so it’s really somewhat of a gray area,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “And Pierre seems to be the only one upset about it. I’m sure what the complaint is.

“The lottery people have been quite positive,” Marquette said. “They’ve even been kind enough to buy me a ticket for each round, and even when I don’t win, I usually get some sort of consolation prize.”

Blacktip Island public works officials would not comment on potential timelines to resolve the outages.

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Mount Sargassumore Rises Over Blacktip Island

mount sargassumore

In a two-pronged effort to clean sargassum from the beaches and to create the highest point in the Tiperon Islands, Blacktip Island residents are urged to bring beached seaweed to a central collection point, dubbed ‘Mount Sargassumore’ atop the island’s southern bluff. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/Blacktip Times staff)

Blacktip Island civic leaders this week began building the highest point in the Tiperon Islands by collecting washed up sargassum and turtle grass into one mound, ‘Mount Sargassumore,’ on top of the Caribbean island’s southern bluff..

“A couple of years ago Tiperon started billing itself as the highest point in the Tiperons to attract tourists worried about being on a low-lying island during hurricane season,” Blacktip Island Chamber of Commerce president Whitey Bottoms said. “Turned out, that was great marketing. Their hotels are full all through the summer.

“Problem is, their gain’s been Blacktip’s loss,” Bottoms said. “Here it is mid-July and our resorts are half empty. We’re barely scraping by. Most places are closing for August and September.”

Island Council members suggested a seaweed mountain to solve multiple problems.

“That southwest wind’s been piling sargassum knee-deep on the beaches,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “Resort guests can’t get to the water, the smell could choke a goat, and the sand flies eat you alive.

“We have to haul the stuff somewhere, so we’re killing two birds with one stone,” Cobia said. “The beaches get cleared, and all the seaweed goes to one central spot to form our new mountain.”

Residents say the growing hillock has become a source of island pride.

“Mount Sargassumore will put Blacktip Island on the map,” said long-time resident Ginger Bass. “The piled seaweed dries and rots, so it’s a bit of two feet upward, one foot back, but we’re committed to making this a reality.

“Everyone’s bringing whatever seaweed they can, be it by the truckload or the bucketful,” Bass said. “The slightest handful may be the very bit that keeps our bars in business.

The project is not without its detractors.

“We live directly downwind of that monstrosity and you can’t imagine the stench,” resident Frank Maples said. “Even inside with the air conditioning on, it makes your eyes water. Everything we eat or drink tastes like rotted fish, and as soon as we step outside the midges nearly carry us away.

“A mountain is fine, but why not down south where no one lives?” Maples said. It’s island politics, plain and simple. Booger Bottoms didn’t want the reek chasing customers away from his Last Ballyhoo bar. On Blacktip, it pays to be a Bottoms.”

Despite the criticism, officials are optimistic about the project’s success.

“The goal is 200 feet of elevation by the end of July, and we may reach that with days to spare,” Whitey Bottoms said. “Then we’ll put a flashing light on top as a navigational beacon. And for the safety of low-flying aircraft.”

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Fire Coral Festival Brings The Burn To Blacktip Island

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A stand of encrusting fire coral waits in the shallows of Blacktip Island’s Fire Coral Reef. Saturday the island will celebrate the benefits of fire coral in protecting the Caribbean island’s reefs. (photo courtesy of Nick Hobgood)

Blacktip’s annual Fire Coral Festival returns to the island Saturday at multiple venues and dive sites to celebrate the importance of the stinging coral in protecting the island’s fragile reefs. The festival, in its 17th year, is sponsored by the Tiperon Marine Parks department.

“It started years ago after overweighted scuba divers came back all welted up, howling about our reefs being eat-up with the fire coral,” Marine Parks spokesperson Val Schrader. “We put a positive spin on that. If you can’t beat it, celebrate it, if you will.

“Our aim is to remind divers that the slightest touch can harm coral,” Schrader said. “Fire coral lets divers experience how much coral can hurt them. We’ve found pain is a great tutor.”

The festival features snorkeling tours of the island’s most fire coral-filled reefs, live music by island bands, a beach bonfire and food stalls serving curry and coral-themed drinks.

“The highlight’s the ½-K Fun Run,” festival organizer Jay Valve said. “Runners in Speedos and flip-flops sprint past Eagle Ray Cove chased by other runners grabbing at them with fire coral-coated gloves. It’s amazing how fast folks can go when they’re about to get stung. There’s some hefty guests here, but they’d give Usain Bolt a run for his money.

“Of course, medical staff’ll be on hand to deal with any cases of anaphylactic shock,” Valve said. “Some people also wanted to throw jellyfish at the runners, but we nixed that. This is a fire coral-only event. No other stinging life forms are allowed. That’s another festival. In the fall.”

The festival has also fostered a rare détente between tourism and environmental groups.

“Normally we’d be against anyone touching coral, but this is for a great cause,” said Benthic Society president Harry Pickett. “Fire coral’s the reef’s great defense, the way the ocean strikes back at people who don’t respect it. We call fire coral ‘reef karma.’”

During the festival, all Blacktip Island dive operations have banned the use of wetsuits.

“It’s a reality check for divers who don’t realize, or care, how crap their buoyancy is,” said Eagle Ray Divers ops manager Ger Latner. “It’s part of the festivities. Each dive boat votes for the guest with the worst buoyancy control, then we make all those folks scuba naked across Fire Coral Reef.

“Yeah, it’s painful. And humiliating. But it makes a point,” Latner said. “And the divers gets free drinks the rest of the night. And a t-shirt. And free medical care, if needed.”

All proceeds from the festival go toward replacement mooring balls and lines for the island’s dive sites.

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Iguana Yoga Takes Blacktip Island By Storm

iguana yoga

Meditation sessions with Blacktip Island’s native rock iguanas have proved popular at one island resort. (photo courtesy of James St. John)

The latest trend in yoga has been given a topical twist at Blacktip Island’s Blacktip Haven resort, where guests can now participate in yoga sessions while the island’s rock iguanas crawl around, on and over them.

“We wanted to get in on the goat yoga craze, but there’s no goats on the island,” yoga instructor Bindy Pigeon said. “Then an iguana wandered in on a yoga class. No one moved, so it stayed and ended up climbing on top of a prone student. That’s when the light bulb went off.

“Turns out, iguanas are better than goats,” Pigeon said. “They love the body heat, and once they settle in they’ll stay on your back or stomach or head for as long as you let them.”

The classes have proven popular with tourists and locals alike.

“It’s way better than plain yoga,” said Blacktip Haven guest Marlin White. “The interaction with nature helps you center yourself better physically and mentally. And there’s nothing quite like a resting iguana on a downward dog.”

Other students, though, saw drawbacks to meditation with the reptiles.

“It can be a bit of a distraction when one starts munching on your hair,” Blacktip resident Cori Anders said, “And you have to make sure they don’t poop on you. That’ll get you uncentered in a big-ass hurry. And those claws!”

Resort management stressed the classes are safe as well as eco-friendly.

“Sure, we had a couple of students get clawed,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “But the scratches don’t bleed much and we keep plenty of antibiotic cream on hand. You have to expect that with wild animals. It’s what makes our yoga sessions so effective.

“These iguanas aren’t trained or restrained or coerced in any way,” Havens said. “We toyed with land crab yoga, too, but there was no way to do that without catching the crabs and penning them here. And they wouldn’t stay still long enough to be therapeutic, anyway.”

Community leaders have embraced the classes.

“It’s something to do on the island that doesn’t involve alcohol,” the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “For Blacktip, that’s revolutionary, really.”

Others concurred.

“People can laugh all they want, but this is just one more unique thing that draws visitors to Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The classes are so popular, Bindy’s turning students away. And Elena’s resort’s booked solid for the next six months.”

Pigeon shrugged off the nay-sayers.

“People can snicker all they want,” she said. “Iguana yoga’s the real deal and it’s here to namaste.”

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Council Meeting Melee Guts Blacktip Island Church

liquor zoning

The interior of Blacktip Island’s Our Lady of Blacktip interdenominational church was demolished during a fight that broke out during an island council meeting concerning liquor laws Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of the Rev. Pierre Grunt)

A Blacktip Island Council meeting at the island’s church turned violent Thursday afternoon during a debate over liquor laws. The ensuing melee sent council members diving for cover and resulted in more than a dozen people being taken to the island’s medical clinic.

“It started with Reverend Grunt pitching a Sunday booze ban,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The bar owners objected and all hell broke loose.

“Rich Skerritt and the Reverend had each other by throat,” Cobia said. “Jerrod Ephesians tried to break them up and got cold-cocked with a hymnal. The next thing you know Dermot was swinging that candelabra like a scythe and people were trampling the pews to get out. I jumped through the window to get away. I still got stained glass in my hair.”

Seven islanders were arrested on assault charges.

“This is a hard-drinking island community. I accept that,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said from his jail cell. “We’re not trying to change that. We’re just asking folks to take a day off, dry out a little, maybe even come to church.”

Resort owners say the proposed law unfairly favored the religious community.

“Pierre wants to steal one of our big-money days,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said from the adjacent cell. “You think it’s a coincidence he made an exception for the church?

“He’s selling that mead of his behind the sacristy Sunday afternoons and making a fortune,” Skerritt said. “He’s axing the competition. That’s dirty pool.”

The church has been selling its artisanal St. Dervil’s Mead, named after the island’s patron saint who first distilled mead on the island and taught its native iguanas to sing, to raise funds for building improvements, church officials said.

“The mead isn’t for inebriative purposes,” Grunt said. “It’s part of our after-church social fellowship, and sales go to new windows for the church. Now we need even more windows. And pews. And hymn books.”

Other resort owners criticized the mead sales as purely commercial.

“Pierre just wants a slice of the tourism pie without having to invest in the marketing or infrastructure,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “He’s even offering punch cards for every mead purchase. After 10 pints, you get your choice of a t-shirt or an Indulgence.”

Most locals sided with the resort owners.

“It’s about choice and free will, you know,” Dermott Bottoms said. “You don’t want to drink, go to church. You do want to drink, go to the bar. Rev’s trying to take away our freedoms.”

The island clinic has issued an urgent call for blood donors in the wake of the violence.

“We’re not equipped for injury on this scale,” island nurse Marissa Wrasse said. “We need blood of all types, so long as the donor is sober. Most donors so far can’t pass the breathalyzer test.”

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Blacktip Island Hosts Conch Herding Competition

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Eagle Ray Sound, on Blacktip Island’s west coast, is the site of this weekend’s conch herding trials. Herders from across the Caribbean will compete in the semi-annual event. (photo courtesy of Clete Horn)

Blacktip Island will welcome conch herders from around the Caribbean Saturday for the 47th Semi-Annual Caribbean Basin Conch-Off in the island’s Eagle Ray Sound.

“Conch herding’s an island tradition, and we’re damn proud to be selected to host this year’s Conch-Off,” Blacktip Island Traditional Conch Herders president Clete Horn said. “It’s a competitive sport, like sheep herding, except underwater. And with conchs instead of sheep and grouper instead of herd dogs.

“The handler on the surface directs a pair of trained Nassau grouper to herd a half dozen conch across the sand, around coral and whatnot, then into a catch basket,” Horn said. “And it’s strictly catch-and-release. No conchs are injured, despite what some say.”

The herding trials are conducted in heats, with two conchers facing off on opposite sides of the lagoon, directing their groupers with hand motions and finger pops. The first to get six conchs into a basket and to the surface moves on to the next round.

Blacktip Island will be represented by local favorite Antonio Fletcher. Competitors, from as far away as Guiana and Cuba, include regional sensations Shelly Hard, Jorge Pompano and reigning champion Caracol Gigante.

“The trick’s to think like a conch, get inside its brain,” Fletcher said. “Me having The Sight helps with that. Got to have the right grouper, too. Raised mine by hand from little-bitty fry.

“Folks tried herding with stingrays a while back, thinking they’re smarter, easier to train,” Fletcher said. “But the rays get distracted too easy, you know. Like they all got ADHD or something. No, groupers are best, and my Nassaus are best of the lot.”

Animal rights groups are campaigning against the competition.

“One person grabbing one conch for personal use is reasonable,” said Conch Appreciation Committee president Harry Pickett. “Not necessary, but justifiable.

“Chasing bunches of conchs across the sand, then jerking them to the surface for sport, well, it’s not good for the conchs. It can give them strokes,” Pickett said. “That leaves us with lots of traumatized conchs. The last thing this island needs is neurotic snails.”

Conchers were quick to defend their sport.

“It’s Blacktip. Short-term memory’s a non-issue here,” Horn said. “I guarantee they’ve forgotten about it by the time they hit the bottom again. Hell, most of the spectators will have, too.”

The competition is a popular spectator sport among locals and tourists alike.

“Families with kids like to watch from the surface,” Horn said. “But we also have underwater videographers streaming the action to the Sand Spit bar so adults can watch with a cold drink in the air conditioning.”

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