A native son of St. John is angry.
This is not the first time Philip Pickering, aka 'Grasshopper', has shouted about change on St. John. This time, instead of at a community meeting, he's doing it via Facebook.
Pickering is a very talented musician. He has toured the world with his band, Inner Visions. Perhaps you've heard of it? Hah! World renowned reggae. They play at the Beach Bar and Fred's, from Coral Bay to Europe. In fact, tonight they're playing at High Tide in Cruz Bay.
He's no mainland-move-to-the-islands-mon pretender. He's a real St. Johnian. And he's angry.
"In 10 years, the VI will no longer look like a tropical destination," he says, faulting "the people in government who should be doing what's right for tourism."
Pickering is incensed that in this month of Folklife Festival, and after spending of so much money to redo the park in Cruz Bay, the local vendors of hot sauces, teas, carvings and t shirts have been barred from setting up tables. "Forbidding the sale of arts in crafts in the park for the reason I've gotten is just plain stupid," he said. "Folks who own businesses in the area hate the look, and lobbied to Government to have it changed. They say it looks like a third world ghetto."
His point is things like local vendors selling their creations are part of the island's life, and a part of the character of St. John. So are fish fries, Shela's Pot, and Pan Dragons playing in the bandstand. "Tourists come here to enjoy the cultural difference, yet slowly but surely we are taking away everything cultural," Pickering said.
The Inquiring Iguana may not agree with everything he says. But, his is an important voice, an important home-grown point of view. He doesn't own a million dollar villa. He's a musician. He's a local. And he doesn't like what his government's leaders are letting happen to St,. John. "We are going to be another Miami," he cries. "(Haven't) we learned from watching our sister island, St. Thomas?"