Generation a lamb

IS IT BIG? Yes! Is it glossy? Yes! Full of colour pictures? Yes! Full of substance? Well... It's Generation Lion, the country's first and only "full-colour, high-end, annual, glossy, colour magazine" documenting the achievement of the nation's under-35 generation in the areas of sport, business, art, music, drama, entertainment, culture and scholarship.

In its pages, Trinbagonian celebs like Brian Lara, Wendy Fitzwilliam, Stephen Ames, Machel Montano, Heather Headley, Ato Boldon, Bunji Garlin and Destra Garcia rub proverbial shoulders with less known local artists, scholars, sportspeople, musicians and activists. Cough up the $125 and pick up a copy, if you're into that kind of thing.

"I can't think of anything quite like it in the entire Caribbean, which is saying quite a lot," Dr Gordon Rohlehr, UWI lecturer in West Indian Literature, told the capacity crowd at the launching of the magazine at Club 51 Degrees, Port of Spain, on Wednesday. It is marvellously well produced, with beautiful photography on high-quality paper." Indeed, Generation Lion is a visual feast for all flippers-through. And Rohlehr kickstarted the evening's entertainment by singing the praises of the debut issue's 300 pages, 111 features and 600 pictures.

Following the venerated UWI Professor of West Indian Literature on stage were Sheldon Blackman's rapso ensemble, the kaiso-jazz trio of Clive Zander, Sean Thomas and Russell Durity, and two members of the now dissolved rock group, Jointpop, the young musicians themselves displaying the genius celebrated in the magazine.

"It's like an encyclopedia of the creative persons of this generation, although I notice that David Rudder and the late Andre Tanker manage to make their way onto the magazine's pages," Rohlehr continued. "But that is good because it indicates the philosophy of the magazine, the sense of linkages between generations."

Generation Lion's founder, editor and designer, Rubadiri Victor, later explained that marrying the young and old generations is precisely the theme of the magazine's second issue, entitled "The Legacy," in which each feature about a young personality will be paired with an inset of an elder in the same tradition.

"This effort has elements of greatness in it, one of which has been its ability to interest the corporate community in sponsoring the magazine," Rohlehr said, pointing out that simply getting the magazine onto the shelves of bookstores across the nation was no small accomplishment.

"The work will enable a generation to see itself as a generation with skill, with talent, with potential, a generation that has already been creating a culture substantially different from the culture of the predecessor, but which at times draws heavily on that of the elders," Rohlehr would conclude.

"With this publication, I can see this generation in a much more positive light, as a generation which will hopefully outlive and maybe even abolish the negative forces that surround it."

In its opening pages, the magazine's editor expounds on the vision behind the project, "We needed to put all these people together in one place so that we the youths ourselves, plus the doubters and stickers in government, the private sector, the nation and world-at-large could see what a treasure of a generation that this country has birthed. [...] We needed to do this to show that it could be done and done well; to show that we are capable of excellence..."

Yet, for all its lengthy, somewhat preachy discourse, the magazine--which is full of typos--fails to articulate a clear philosophy. In the end, one may find that the magazine is little more than the overglorified yearbook that it appears to be at first glance. And one may be forced to concede that Generation Lion, ironically, embodies one negative stereotype about the nation's under-35 generation. Full of sound and fury and raging with potential, in the end, it lacks the internal substance to deliver a meaningful message.