Final event takes place in Sint Maarten
The water is calm. The wind whips past your face as your vessel slices through the water on the wings of the invisible forces of nature – or at least that’s how it will be for the sailors taking part in one of the most exciting races around.
Come out tomorrow for an evening of original music with The Shady Brothers.
St. Maarten’s own Nicolas and Geraldo Schaede have been touring Europe with huge success and will soon release their first album, produced in York City with Mr. Fab “Fabulous” Dupont, a Grammy-winning music producer. But this weekend they are here to sing their songs for all their fans on their home island.
Sonesta Maho Group will launch its new entertainment concept in September. The person behind it all is Shep Shephard, Director of Entertainment for Maho Group. He tells us about himself and his plans for entertainment.
Who is Shep Shepherd?
“I’m a professional, creative, and working internationally within the Art and Entertainment industry with a broad experience in entertainment creation, theatrical production and special events. I’m a creative thinker, a passionate and extremely driven individual; I’m also a karma farmer. I strongly believe in doing what you can for who you can whenever you get the chance.”
Where are you from and how did you end up on the Friendly Island?
“I was born in the Potteries, the heart of England, in 1983 to fireman Malcolm and nurse Sandra. In March 2016, I was approached by the Maho Group to join the company and head up their entertainment operation. I moved to the Island in August and have been here since.”
“I studied performance at Bretton Hall College of Art in West Yorkshire before going on to complete a Master’s Degree at Kings School in London. I originally trained as an actor, but gradually broadened my interests to include the wider aspects of production. Whilst studying, I became known for staging unique events and live performance. Since then my work has taken me around the world, working in theatres, art centres, cruise ships and resort concepts.”
Tell us about your job at Sonesta Maho?
“I joined Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten in August 2016 to oversee the Entertainment Operation at that time. I was approached by the Vice President of Resort Operations… In November the owners invited me to design and deliver a brand-new entertainment concept for Maho Group, spanning Sonesta Resorts, The Maho Village and The Casino Royale Theatre.”
Tell us about your experience in this field?
“I was always an entertainer and loved centre stage… I’ve played for lots of large audiences over the years as a Cruise Director, Compere, Radio Host and interviewer. There’ve been many personal highlights, but professionally speaking, it would be interviewing World Champion Sports Stars and Academy Awards-winning artists… Working at Yorkshire Sculpture Park where I was exposed to many incredible international artists and influential mentors, shaped me as a creative thinker.”
Tell us about the new shows?
“We’re currently developing our brand-new shows for the big launch in September, and it’s really exciting. For the high season we will have three brand-new spectacular productions, featuring aerial artists, acrobats, world champion dancers and vocalists. There will be three shows weekly on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday, all at 10:00pm in Casino Royale Theatre. Presently we have two temporary shows running, MJ The Experience on Wednesdays and Dances of The World on Fridays, right after the Maho Village Carnival. In addition to this, of course, we have performances across Great Bay, Ocean Point and Maho Beach Resorts… One thing that I’ve been very clear about in building the new content is that we want the shows to be as appealing and accessible to as wide an audience as possible. We’re investing huge amounts of time, money and effort to build shows that don’t just draw people to Maho Village, but to the Island of St. Maarten.”
What do you like about your job?
“I love the creative process. It’s exciting and stimulating and there’s never two days the same. As I get older I also really enjoy watching younger people develop as performers, it can be really rewarding to invest time and effort in people and see them grow.
Also, you get to meet so many interesting people I hear some really great stories.”
What’s your personal management style?
“My door is always open and I try and listen as much as I can. I’m very strict, but at the same time fair and work hard to highlight people’s strengths so as to empower them to grow. I’m very much “you get out what you put in.”
What differentiates you from other persons in a similar profession?
“From the start of my career it’s been very important to me to gain the broadest experience possible from the industry. I’ve developed a wealth of knowledge from hands on experience, some exceptional mentors and always pushing myself to keep learning.
Critically I’ve never been afraid of challenging the status quo, risking new ideas or taking chances. This is what being a true creative is about, not repeating old formulas. You can’t be afraid of failure either. The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything at all”.
Challenges in the field?
“People who are afraid of change or who fail to see the bigger picture.”
Message for youngsters who want to follow in your professional path?
“Listen, learn and pick great mentors. My Dad always told me: “if you can’t learn from the person next to you it’s your fault not theirs.” I really believe in this sentiment and it’s always served me well. The more you practice the luckier you get so never give up. Be yourself, be bold, make lots of mistakes and learn from them - everyone is a lesson.”
What else are you involved in outside of work?
“There’s an outside of work - what is this place?
“Laziness and negativity, get on board or get outta the way. Life’s too short!”
Also people who say “we’ve always done it like this.”
Music… walking the dogs really relaxes me and playing with Lego too. I’m basically a massive child. I’m passionate about all visual arts so I love galleries, the theatre, cinema and festivals etc.”
What’s your favourite type of music – what artistes do you listen to?
“As I mentioned I really enjoy all genres of music but especially soul and motown, swing and great pop music… There’s always lots of Sinatra playing in my house.
If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party who would they be and what would you cook for them?
“Frank Sinatra, he changed the face of popular music and politics for several generations and was an incredible story teller. Robin Williams, one of my all-time favourite comedic performers - he’s a million guests in one. And Barack Obama, I think he’s been one of the most inspirational leaders of modern times and we need him back. We’re going to order in Chinese so I can focus on pouring the drinks and picking the music.”
Finding perfection in imperfection
Martine Loubser did not have what many would call a conventional upbringing. For the first fifteen years of her life, she lived on a 44-foot boat with her parents and older brother. Yet, for Martine this was her ‘normal’ and included driving a dinghy to school and sailing from island to island during school vacations.
She accredits her creative drive to her mom, who till today loves anything that requires innovation and creativity. “My mother, brother and I were always making something. “Sure living on a boat means that you should utilize everything you can, but getting creative was also our form of entertainment”
After high school, Martine followed her passion and graduated with a degree in Illustration from Arts University Bournemouth. Today she is freelancing as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator on Sint Maarten, figuring out her next step into exploring the arts.
Why do you think art is important?
Ha-ha, this is a hard question! I think art means different things to different people, but it definitely serves as a way to connect us. Art brings people together and allows us to share and exchange things about ourselves, our values, and our thoughts. It’s a reflection of our humanity, and I think expressing that is really important.
When did you decide to make art your career?
It took me a while to make that choice. After high school, I did not really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something I loved. Art is often not really seen as a ‘feasible’ career option, so I hesitated on following that route.
Instead, I worked for two years in the yachting industry, in a position that was not creative at all. I think it gave me the understanding that being creative is an integral part of who I am. So I looked into art-based programs and applied to The Arts University of Bournemouth.
What was the most valuable skill you learned during your art studies?
Problem, solving! I had pictured going to art school and learning to use tools and techniques, but it actually focused more on the ‘why’ and less on the ‘how’. It was great. I did not just learn how to ‘problem solve’ in art, but I think many of the processes we went through could really be applied to many aspects of life.
What kind of art inspires you?
There are so many! I love loose, evocative sketches with a lot of movement, like those by Toulouse-Lautrec or Valentin Serov, but I also love the simplicity and humour in the work of an artist like Jean Julien. I think what’s most inspiring is passion, in whatever form. If art makes me feel the passion experienced by the person who created it, it inspires me.
Why do you like ‘creating’?
Most of the time, I have a chaos of thoughts in my head. When I create, it allows me to organize and express them by creating something tangible; a drawing or sculpture maybe.
It is like therapy and a pure expression of myself. The product usually doesn’t end up the way I initially planned it, but that’s the best part. I think I would describe myself as a perfectionist, but art has taught me that perfection actually lies in imperfection! I love that.
I have seen a lot of your drawings, is that what you specialize in?
I do love drawing and it is a comfortable means of expression for me, but actually, I have used a lot of different techniques during my art career, and hope to use many more. At the moment I am very into film, so it would be great to explore my next project through that medium.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I think I am still on a journey of really finding my ‘signature’ as an artist, but whatever I do, I’d want it to have positive effects on others.
Lately, I’ve been exploring the notion that we all regularly experience loneliness, doubt, and disappointment, but we often only want to expose the best of ourselves. This isn’t a bad thing, but I think it would be great if we were more comfortable with showing weakness as well. I think if this happened, it would be easier to support and understand one another. Maybe I could create something about that.
You can invite three people over for dinner. Who are they? What will you serve them? What will you discuss?
So many choices! Maybe Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Franz Kafka. It would be like a surprise party - we’d have cake and champagne, and I’d get to tell them how hugely celebrated and influential their work became after they passed away.
Check out Martine’s art out at www.martineloubser.com
Hi, my name is Desiree Winkel, owner and founder of Fitness Coaching. I’ve been working for years in my own personal training studio with clients who like to get fit and healthy, and even those who are in pain. My clients love to train in a cosy, clean, and absolutely friendly atmosphere. Follow what we do on Facebook on our page Fitness Coaching.
As was mentioned before in the intro, I’ve been moving. There’s some sort of special stress that comes from packing up your life to move to another space. I’m not exactly sure when I gave up on the boxes, but it’s fair to assume it was somewhere along the drive to Impulse Spa Clinic at Port de Plaisance. The last issue introduced the readers to Aqua biking. A few months before that were the cryolipolysis treatments the spa had only just started doing. Now the individual aesthetic beauty procedures are fully established. Thanks to their Summer Specials, I was able to treat myself to an hour’s escape from stress.
I relinquished my clothes for the comfort of the spa slippers and plush robe and could almost feel calmer already. The noiseless spa environment helps to silence the noise in your mind. It can be likened to a place of worship. In here, your thoughts are no longer shouting to be heard over the noise of the daily bustle. The mind is clear and you can focus on self-care in a relaxed atmosphere. Thankfully, the early hour afforded me an even quieter experience. Mind and body were both in synch and ready for the initial sauna.
If you’re not sure what a sauna is, it’s a room filled with steam. This allows someone to experience both wet and dry heat sessions for different purposes. The list of benefits goes on for days. The sauna at Impulse Spa Clinic is a small room used to prep the clients before they receive the massage. It softens the skin, opens the pores and prepares your body to receive the oils and minerals in the pre-massage body scrub. The ladies took the time to explain the full process before I entered the room.
Although I’m familiar with what a sauna is and how it works, I wasn’t prepared for the effects I felt. It was basically like being in a sensory deprivation tank. At first, there were no sounds, scents or sights beyond the steam. Once the perspiration began to leak out of my body in an uncharacteristic fashion, I could instantly feel everything. Every sense was heightened to the point where I thought I may have developed super powers. Interval showers kept my body from overheating and provided a welcome temperature change. After the sauna, I was treated to a glass of fresh passionfruit juice to rehydrate.
Still sensitive from the sauna, my skin tingled as the organic rub was applied to my skin. Later I would be told that it was a mixture of essential oils, avocado, passionfruit, honey and one other delightful ingredient I wasn’t allowed to know. There are plans for the scrub to be weaponized for mass enjoyment, but we will have to wait a few months. Until then, I’m probably going to go broke with follow-up scrubs. There has never been a point in my life where I have smelled as delicious as when I washed away the scrub. Moving on to the rub of essential oils sealed in a level of moisture I have been unable to find anywhere else. I glowed for days after.
The ladies at the spa are super friendly, multilingual and provide an incredible service. Impulse Spa Clinic gets the Health & Beauty stamp of approval. Contact them today at 1 (721) 587-8068 or [email protected]
Did you know that St. Maarten will experience a partial solar eclipse next Monday? That means the sun will be blocked by the moon! Part of the sun will be covered up by the moon for about two and a half hours on Monday afternoon! Starting at about 2:20pm and peaking at maximum coverage at 3:18pm. It will end at 4:40pm.
Be careful! Don’t look at the solar eclipse! It can hurt your eyes, even with sunglasses! You have to have proper solar eclipse glasses which are available at Blue Point. Ask your science teacher if you can get some to share during Monday’s eclipse!
Good news, everyone! The little duckling that was rescued a couple of weeks ago is doing great! Swimmer, as the duckling was called affectionately by its rescuers, is enjoying its stay at the St. Maarten Zoo. The duckling was taken to the zoo shortly after its rescue out of a well. It appeared to be only a few days old at the time.
Little ducklings are unable to take care of themselves. They are susceptible to hyperthermia and drowning because ducklings do not yet produce the oil necessary to keep water of their feathers. Furthermore, they need the guidance of other ducks to learn species-specific skills to survive.
Luckily, the rescuers did not touch the duckling or give it much attention while in their care. This is important, because ducklings easily imprint on those around them. Stories are known of friendly dogs taking care of ducklings, resulting in the ducklings thinking they are canines!
Swimmer’s survival is the result of what is known scientifically as conspecific brood parasitism. Conspecific brood parasitism means, for instance, that another female bird lays eggs in an already existing nest and then her offspring are raised by the owner of that nest. This is especially common among ducks, and many other birds, but it also occurs in insects, fishes and amphibians!
On its arrival in the zoo, Swimmer was added to a nest of duck eggs about to hatch. The zoo caretaker anticipated that the eggs would hatch shortly – and he was right. Later that day, the other eggs hatched and Swimmer suddenly got a lot of foster siblings! Its foster mother had no problem accepting Swimmer as one of her brood.
When visiting St. Maarten Zoo to check on the duckling’s progress, the rescuers saw first-hand that the duckling’s name was well chosen. Swimmer really loves to swim!
Photos and writing by Emma Croes
Luigi Pirandello’s 150th birth anniversary was celebrated in Italy earlier this year with little fanfare but much solemnity. Though he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934 for his plays, I had never read any of them, so I approached his work apprehension, fearing an outdated register. To my great surprise, Pirandello’s writing, both for the theatre and in the form of his novels, is intellectually challenging and at the same time irresistibly funny, insightful, beautifully structured, and impeccably timed.
Born in 1867 in the small city of Agrigento – once a major Greek settlement on the southeast coast of Sicily – Pirandello lived the first half of his life in abundance. The son of a prosperous couple, owners of a highly profitable sulphur mine, he embarked on a career in law in Rome, before transferring in 1887 to Bonn (Germany) to complete his degree in philology. Raised in a deeply nationalistic household, Pirandello experienced first-hand the disillusion prevalent in the 1880s and 1890s throughout southern Italy, where poverty and social injustice were the measure of the greatest shortcomings of the recent unification of the country. He would give artistic expression to these circumstances two decades later in The Old and the Young (1913), a gripping novel rich in texture and local colour, set to the backdrop of the political and social turmoil that engulfed Sicily between 1890 and 1894, which came to be known as the Fasci Siciliani, the first revolts of organized labour groups in the region.
Before that, however, Pirandello moved to Rome, where he lived from his family’s allowance while he sought to develop his literary career. He published several poetry books before the century was out, and began collaborating with a number of magazines. He also married in 1894, had his first son one year later, followed by two more children in 1897 and 1899 respectively, accepted a permanent position as Italian (style) teacher in 1897, and progressively moved away from verse to prose. All seemed in place for a rather normal, though not terribly successful life, when in 1903, disaster struck: his family’s mining business plunged to bankruptcy, taking not only his allowance but also his wife’s dowry, long invested into the enterprise.
Impoverished, depressed, and further assailed by his wife’s nervous breakdown – triggered by the family’s financial crisis – Pirandello turned to fiction. In 1904, he published what to this date is largely considered his most accomplished novel, The Late Mattia Pascal, a romantic but extremely intelligent and also humorous exploration of the meaning of identity. Mattia Pascal, the narrator of the novel, finds himself caught in an unbearable situation: Living in poverty at his mother-in-law’s with his wife, both of whom despise him, and having lost two young children to illness, Pascal decides to run away. He considers committing suicide but stops short, heading instead to Monte Carlo with a small amount of money, which he wagers recklessly. Fortune, however, smiles at him on two counts, as he makes a small fortune and at the same time learns from the local newspaper that a man who had committed suicide several days earlier had been identified (erroneously) as Mattia Pascal.
Liberated from his debt, his wife, his in-law and the rest of the misery that awaited him in his hometown, Mattia Pascal changes names, shaves, grows his hair and even has a minor operation to correct a lazy eye. But as his adventures become more tiresome, he comes to recognize that what seemed like the greatest possible degree of freedom is actually more oppressive than anything he has experienced before. Mattia Pascal is 100% free, but he is also 100% outside of the law: he has no birth certificate, no passport, no past. Therefore, he is caught in a Catch-22 scenario: anything more meaningful than a casual exchange would impinge on his total freedom, anchoring him to a place and creating a record of his existence. But who are we without precisely such record?
The Late Mattia Pascal didn’t solve Pirandello’s acute financial problems, though it did consolidate his place as an Italian intellectual. It also introduced questions of reality and perception, identity and language into his creative production, which continued to find its expression in narrative works of various lengths for another decade. It wouldn’t be until well into the 1910s that Pirandello would experiment with plays, the format that most suited him by far. Reconnecting with the issue of identity, he presented in 1917 So It Is (If You Think So), a playful recreation of a small town’s reaction to the arrival of an eccentric stranger who won’t allow his wife to be seen in public.
Contradictory explanations are put forward by different factions during the play while one uninterested observer repeatedly calls for all inquiries to be ceased because in the end everyone will believe whatever they want. That, of course, is precisely what happens when the wife, the metaphorical figure of the truth, as it were, is forced to appear in public, only to acquiesce to every aspect of every theory posed by her inquisitors. Pirandello’s concerns regarding the nature of identity are further complicated by his internalization of a concept that had been shaping European culture for several decades: relativity. In So It Is (If You Think So), he gives voice to a form of subjective relativism which relies heavily on the point of view of his characters, and which is meant to ridicule the seemingly unbreakable connection there is between the truth and reason.
This amusing exploration of the limits of human knowledge would be further complicated with his famous and tremendously successful play Henry IV (1922), which would bring into the equation considerations of the functional meaning of words and concepts by making his characters play roles within their roles in the play. Thus, Henry IV deals with a rich man who, like Don Quixote, is completely obsessed with the medieval world, specifically that of King Henry IV from Sicily, to the point where he forces everyone around him to pretend that he is the king and they are his entourage. The enormous wealth of the main character ensures that everyone is happy to indulge him, despite thinking him mad. But as the mad king bursts into the scene while everyone is out of character, he makes them understand that, by remaining in character the whole time, he is the only sane person in the group, for only a fool or a mad person would spend their entire life pretending to be something they are not just to please their “mad” master/employer.
By the time Pirandello presented Henry IV, he had already produced what remains his most famous play, Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921), an extraordinary adaptation to the stage of clearly non-dramatic considerations concerning the difference between “real” characters, which by definition can only exist on the page, and actors, whose perceived reality makes them unable to represent more than a mere shadow of the characters they impersonate in each performance. Six Characters in Search of an Author was not terribly well received but the controversy it generated ensured Pirandello’s following play, Henry IV, would be a rotund success. Already an established literary figure, Pirandello thrived during the early days of Mussolini’s fascist government, opening the Teatro d’Arte in Rome in 1925, being named into the Italian Academy in 1929, and finally receiving the Nobel Prize in 1934. By then, Italy was on the verge of a new war, first with Abyssinia, soon with the rest of the world. Fortunately, Pirandello wouldn’t live to see the horrors that would ensue: he would succumb in 1936 to a pulmonary infection at the age of 69, safe in the knowledge that his characters had found the best of possible authors.
By Monatgue Kobbé
What is a solar eclipse? In simple terms, it’s the shadow of the moon crossing the surface of the earth. It occurs when the earth, sun and moon are aligned. The moon gets between the sun and the earth for a brief period of time and blocks the sun’s light on a portion of the earth.
The fact that we can have such an awe-inspiring phenomenon is actually due to a cosmic coincidence. The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but it’s also 400 times closer to us than the sun. So from our perspective, the two celestial bodies appear to be the same size; therefore, the moon can fit exactly “on top of the sun,” leaving only the corona exposed.
Monday’s eclipse is getting a lot of press, mostly because this is the first time in 38 years that the United States will have a total solar eclipse; that one, back in 1979 only touched a small portion of the North-western part of the country. What’s really got Americans excited is that this eclipse will cross the entire country and it will only be seen in the U.S. The band of totality – the 70-mile wide swath that will get 100% coverage of the sun by the moon – will stretch from Oregon to South Carolina. That’s not happened before in the modern era!
Somewhere on earth, a total solar eclipse happens on average every 18 months, but it’s often in remote areas or in the ocean where few people can appreciate it. Millions of people live along this path of totality, and many millions more live within a day’s drive of it. The next total solar eclipse to touch North America will occur in 2024. That one will travel from Texas to Maine.
In ancient times, an eclipse was thought to bring evil or to be a sign of impending doom. Some civilizations thought a dragon, a jaguar or a wolf was eating away at the sun. In ancient Scandinavia, people believed they had to scare the predator away by making as much noise as possible (luckily, it always worked).
There is a legend that in 2100 BC in China, when the two royal astrologers could not explain why the sun had suddenly disappeared, the emperor had them beheaded!
Around 700 BC, some folks began to think about eclipses in a new way – they started really observing them, and they noticed patterns. The Chaldeans of Mesopotamia kept meticulous records of the stars, the sun and the moon for centuries. These records allowed them to see the patterns, later called Saros Cycles, in eclipses – the cycles last 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours. In 585BC, Thales of Miletus was the first to accurately predict the time and place of a solar eclipse, which, according to legend, was used to end a five-year war between the Lydians and the Medes.
This astronomical understanding proved powerful more than once. In movies, books and even cartoons, quite a few writers have put their hero in a tight spot and then let him use his prior knowledge of a coming eclipse to escape. This overused shtick has its roots in an actual historic event involving Christopher Columbus. He and his men had stranded their caravels on the coast of Jamaica in 1504. They were at the mercy of the indigenous people there, and he had treated them badly enough that they decided to let the strangers starve. But Columbus had an astronomical almanac on board that predicted a lunar eclipse for a coming day, known as the March 1504 eclipse. Columbus used that knowledge to intimidate the locals into giving them food, saying, “If you don’t help us, I will call upon God to destroy the moon.” Thus, he tricked and frightened them into complying, and Columbus and his men lived to tell the tale.
But I digress. The path of totality for this eclipse will start Monday morning (10:00 pacific time) crossing from Oregon, to Idaho, then Wyoming, Nebraska, clipping the northeast corner of Kansas (about 1:00pm central time) and then into Missouri, just touching the southern tip of Illinois then across Kentucky and Tennessee and then exiting at Charleston, South Carolina. This belt of the moon’s shadow will be about 70 miles wide. Massive crowds of eclipse enthusiasts are expected to flock to this belt of totality. Some people will try to travel along with it across the nation, to maximize their time in totality. The city of Carbondale, Illinois, will receive the longest period of totality, which will be 2 minutes and 18 seconds. That town is expecting about 50,000 visitors for the eclipse. That town’s population will more than double!
In those places, the light will drop to twilight-like appearance and the temperature will drop quickly. Some night time animals may come out. In every direction, the horizon will have the hue of a sunset and the sun will appear as a black circle, surrounded by shimmering silver rays, with some jets of gas reaching far out – this is the sun’s corona or outer atmosphere. Where there are sunspots, similar to storms in the sun’s atmosphere, there can be seen spurts of ejecta escaping the sun’s gravity. These solar flares can travel through space as radiation and they can affect our earth’s magnetosphere and even disturb our telecommunications networks.
Here on the Friendly Island, we won’t get 100% coverage, sadly, but we will be able to notice that something weird is happening with the sunlight. The moon will begin to cover the sun at 2:18pm. Maximum coverage (84%) will be at 3:38pm. The end of the eclipse for us on St. Maarten will be at 4:49pm.
When the eclipse begins, you will be tempted to look up at it, but don’t! This is very dangerous for your eyes. Don’t use a camera without a solar filter, and certainly don’t use binoculars or a telescope. You must use approved protective solar glasses or a #12 or greater welding mask to look at the eclipse, normal sunglasses will not protect your eyes. These special eclipse-grade solar glasses are available at Blue Point and they are made of paper so they don’t cost very much. Make sure your solar glasses are undamaged – a scratch can let in the sun’s rays to hurt your vision. If you are worried about defective or knock-off glasses, check to make sure they have the ISO 12312-2 approval stamp, or put them on and they should be so dark you can’t see anything at all. The sun will appear like an orange circle, similar to a full moon.
By Lisa Davis-Burnett