Column, The Movie Diary, Uncategorized

The Movie Diary: Get up, stand up!

 A few weeks ago, the U.S. State Department issued a level 3 travel advisory for Jamaica due to crime and lack of medical services. A level 3 travel advisory is classified as “Reconsider travel.” The only level worse is a level 4 advisory, which means, “Do not travel to this location.”

It was further noted in a report that local police do not respond effectively to serious crimes, and when arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted. Violent crimes, such as armed robberies, sexual assault, home invasions, and homicides are considered common.  

(I hate to say it, but if you’re the person in charge of tourism for Jamaica, you’ve got your work cut out for you for the foreseeable future.) 

I visited Jamaica when I was in high school in the early 1980s. My parents decided to take me for a graduation gift, but the most surprising part was that they let me bring my girlfriend (more on that in a minute).

I didn’t find out until years later that our entire trip (excluding flights) was comped by my father’s childhood best friend. The two had not seen each other for years and had recently reconnected. It was then that my father’s friend invited him to Kingstown, Jamaica, for a week at the hotel he managed.

My father grew up very blue collar and the friends he kept were of the same ilk. This particular friend had a rough upbringing, but somehow managed to graduate from high school, put himself through college, and eventually find success in the hotel management business. He started at small resorts and by the middle of his career had settled into managing large resort hotels in the Caribbean. 

We flew down during spring break and were met at the airport by an arranged car that brought us to the hotel. The level of poverty interspersed with island vibes made for an odd juxtaposition for a country boy from the Northeast. I might as well have been on a different planet.

The resort was fantastic, with multiple pools and fountains, luxurious accommodations, and daily cuisine opportunities that challenged all my preconceived notions of what food could taste like. In those days, you could not find a mango or papaya in a U.S. grocery store, but on that trip, I fell in love with the tropical fruit. 

We toured the safer parts of the island, always with a driver and a “host.” I think we all knew the host was for protection, but we assumed it was just a precaution since we were special guests. 

My girlfriend and I took advantage of everything the resort and accompanying beach had to offer, but I’m confident that we spent a good portion of our time trying to outwit my parents so we could sneak away to have some “fun.” 

One of my passions at that age was music and I was intent to go home with some legitimate reggae albums to add to my collection. I knew who Bob Marley was, but outside of “I Shot the Sheriff,” I couldn’t tell you another song he wrote or much about him as a person. 

That changed quickly. 

From the moment that we arrived in Jamaica, it was apparent that Bob Marley was a national hero. Everywhere you looked had reflections of Marley’s presence with graffiti, banners, and signage dedicated to his memory. I quickly began to understand how important Marley was not only as a musician but also as the voice of a people. 

I eventually found my way into a local record store and asked the dreadlocked proprietor to help me with a selection of albums to buy. He suggested Yellowman, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff, but insisted that I purchase “Confrontation” by Bob Marley. “Confrontation” was released posthumously and is not often cited as one of his best albums, but to me, it encompassed my entire Jamaican experience. And to this day, that album remains my favorite Marley composition. 

It was only a matter of time before a major motion picture depicting Bob Marley’s life would be developed. And now, thanks to his family members, “Bob Marley: One Love” has hit the big screen. 

This film is a wonderful tribute to the man, his message, and the music. The acting is solid, the story is all-compassing, and the music production is topnotch. My only complaint is that I had a hard time understanding the Rastafarian dialect during character conversations. However, I would note that I would prefer to struggle with my understanding rather than have the realism of the speech be softened for audience convenience. 

Check this one out of you love Marley’s music or are curious about the man behind the myth.

A harmonious “B” for “Bob Marley: One Love,” now playing in theaters everywhere. 

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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