Wednesday, 31 October 2012

ON THE RECORD: Richie Spice riffs on his latest release, singing from the heart, and respect

IN THE GROOVE: In concert at Behind The Screen; Inset, album cover.

Reggae icon Richie Spice was destined to put out an all-acoustic album; musically, the man’s soulfulness echoes at all the right moments. As such, his new CD, the aptly titled Soothing Sounds, is a bonafide collector’s item. 

The modest but supremely appreciative audience that turned up at Marketplace for his “Behind the Screen” concert and album launch on Tuesday got a solid sample of the album’s balmy reggae-soul-jazz offerings. Following the hour-long performance, the crooner rapped briefly with TALLAWAH: 

Celebrating the release of new acoustic album, Soothing Sounds
“We feel nice and we feel great because we’ve made a great accomplishment to the fullest with this album. We give thanks to know that the album has been released and being distributed by Tad’s Records. You can get it on iTunes and from record stores, and so I’m glad that people can get it wherever they want it.” 

Channelling deep soulfulness in his music: 
“The soul is within, you know. Me, myself is soul and whenever I sing, I sing from the heart, so that’s how you make sure the music connects.” 

Touring again: 
 “We’re just getting some things together ‘cause we’re going back on the road soon to promote this album. And we had this concert to do from last week but through Hurricane Sandy it had to be put off to this time. So we’re just getting ourselves ready promotion-wise.” 

Outlook for the future: 
“What we want to accomplish is to see people start to respect each other more and start to love the youths and look out for the youths more.”




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TALK OF THE TOWN: Has Virgo found his supergirl? + Novelist Macka Diamond has much more ‘bun’ in store + Funeral plans for Captain Barkey

The internet streets are abuzz that singer Romain Virgo has been making sweet melodies with no less than a ‘supergirl’ – fly songstress Denyque. “They’ve liked each other from long time,” a reliable source tells TALLAWAH, “but they hardly get to spend any time together because they are so busy pushing their individual careers.” (For what it’s worth, I feel they make a lovely pair.) Virgo raised eyebrows last week when he tweeted, “When will we settle down. It’s just make up then break up every time I come around.” Hmmm. Meantime, the singer (pictured above with fans in Europe) is back on the road with his band, and so far they’ve played venues in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, and in Italy. 
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Apparently, novelist Macka Diamond has a thing for ‘bun’ – and she loves to write about it. The veteran deejay turned author is gearing up to release the second instalment of her fiction debut titled Naughty or Nice: Bun Him Part 2. PageTurner, which recently put out Omari’s Why Me God?, is publishing it next year. Check out the tell-tale cover shot below: 

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On the comeback trail: Former Reggae Boyz coach Carl Brown (yes, he's back) has, according to reports, returned to his old stomping grounds of Boys’ Town. Many say they are looking forward to what the old-timer has planned for the new class. 
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UPDATE: The thanksgiving service for the life of the late entertainer Captain Barkey, 50, will be held on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Portmore Missionary Church in Bayside, Portmore. His body will then be laid to rest at Up Park Camp.




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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

OSCAR WATCH: Marion Cotillard’s Rust and Bone wins big at BFI Awards, garnering serious buzz

PREMIERE LEAGUE: Audiard, Cotillard and actor Matthias Schoenaerts attend the premiere of Rust and Bone during the 56th London Film Fest.

Rust and Bone was the big winner at the recent British Film Institute Awards in London, meaning Marion Cotillard has a good shot at garnering a second nod for a Best Actress Oscar. As we head into the thick of awards season, every little accolade matters in the race for Oscar contention, which is why prognosticators are singling out Rust and Bone as a movie to keep your eye on. 

The film, directed by French filmmaker Jacques Audiard stars Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) as a woman who suffers a tragic accident and rebuilds her life and soul with the help of a street-fighting single father. Beating out 12 other heavily lauded pictures, it copped the British Film Institute's top prize at the BFI Film Fest in London on Oct. 21. 

Also garnering early buzz, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild was the other notable winner at BFI, walking away with the Sutherland Award for best first feature. 

Other films to keep your eye on: Ben Affleck’s widely lauded Argo, the romantic drama The Sessions (starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt), the forthcoming Hitchcock (with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren) and the hotly anticipated musical extravaganza, Les Miserables (due in December), featuring performances by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway. 

>> Mark your calendars: Nominations announcements 
Independent Spirit (Nov. 27); Critic’s Choice (Dec. 11); Screen Actors’ Guild (Dec. 12); Golden Globes (Dec. 13); and the Academy Awards (Jan. 10).




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CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Casting the God’s Way sequel + Tracking Wine & Roses

Who will land the male lead in the keenly anticipated God’s Way 2
“Directing is 90 percent casting,” a wise thespian (I presume) once noted. After all, a director’s choice of actors can easily make or break a show. So with the arrival of a first sequel for the Thespy-winning drama God’s Way mere weeks away, speculation is rife over which leading man playwright-producer Dahlia Harris will cast in the all-important role of Carlton Martin, the fresh-out-of-jail husband who must face the music and his family in the wake of mind-boggling, life-altering revelations. God’s Way: Carlton’s Redemption is scheduled to begin previews at the end of November at Stephanie Hall in St. Andrew. Stay tuned… 

McLean replaces Hunt in Wine & Roses 
Speaking of talent, playwright-director David Tulloch told me last week that he has found a replacement for actress Denise Hunt, who had to drop out of the upcoming revival of Wine & Roses due to scheduling conflicts. Racquel McLean, who previously appeared in Tulloch’s Confessions, joins the star-studded cast that also includes Rodney Campbell, Rosie Murray, Keisha Patterson and Carl Davis. But another issue has come to the fore: finding a suitable venue to host the production, as the previously booked Theatre Place is presently in hot water over “noise pollution” allegations. Sidebar: We simply can’t afford to be losing our theatre spaces, especially at this crucial time in our history.

Brava… 
Special shout-out to Abigail Grant, who gives a star-bright, comically rich turn in Scandal. Could she eventually join Suzette Barrett as a serious contender for the supporting-actress Thespy? It would come as no surprise. Just goes to show that my instincts about the fast-rising performer were on-point all along. If only she had access to more challenging and cerebral material. I suggest that Harris or Tulloch or even Basil Dawkins give her run in a future dramatic production, then we’d really get a sense of where her true gifts lie.




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OUT & ABOUT: Winford Williams + Cherine + Bambino + Jodi Stewart Henriques + Sanjay Smith + Shauna-Gay Hart + Safiya Cooper + Usain Bolt

FRESH START: Oct. 30, St. Andrew. It's back to the training field for the World's Fastest Man, who kicked off preparations for his 2013 season with some laps at the Mona Campus on Monday. "Today marks the beginning of something great," the sprint superstar tweeted to his over 2 million followers on Twitter. Inset, Bolt about to board his vehicle for training day number one. (Photo: Usain Bolt)

BEST DRESSED: Oct 26, Kingston. Rocking this super-sexy red and black costume (and that preternaturally winning smile), Jodi Stewart Henriques gets the party started at last Friday's Appleton Black Uber Twilight halloween bash inside Club Privilege in New Kingston. (Photo: STUSH)

COUNTRY FLEX: Oct. 28, Clarendon. Last Sunday's Chillin' On The Farm All-Inclusive bash drew a bunch of lively, beautiful people to Murray's in Clarendon, including On The Verge host Bambino, alongside lovely wifey Shauna-Gay Hart and a close friend. (Photo: Skkan Media) 

DO THE TWIST: Oct. 28, Clarendon. The wise saying, "The couple that plays together, stays together.." seems to hold very special meaning for lovebirds Sanjay Smith and Safiya Cooper, who were spotted getting on bad at Chillin' On The Farm last Sunday. "They looked like two people freshly in love," an eyewitness tells TALLAWAH. (Photo: Skkan Media)
 
CAUSE CELEB: Oct. 25, Kingston. Reprising her gratifying role as spokesperson of the Yoplait Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, songstress Cherine Anderson recently stepped out in support of the launch of the "Save Lids, Save Lives" initiative in Kingston. Here, she shares lens time with General Mills' Sharon Neins (left) and Yulith Gordon of the Jamaica Cancer Society. (Photo: Cherine)

A MAN APART: Oct. 27, Kingston. Spotted having a blast in his bright shirt at Mello Vibes at the New Mas Camp on the weekend, On Stage maestro Winford Williams proves he's not all work and no play. (Photo: Skkan Media)




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NEWS + NOTES: The advent of Tribe Sankofa + Lorna Goodison delights at Durham Book Festival

VOICE AND VERSE: Jamaican literary legend Lorna Goodison recently had the distinction of serving as the Poet Laureate of the 2012 Durham Book Festival in the UK. Each year, Durham University, working with the school’s English department, brings an outstanding writer to the city for the festival and to commission a new piece of work from them. The Laureate also undertakes special events with students of the university. Goodison, whose many honours include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and a Gold Musgrave Medal from the IOJ, read from her work at two free-to-the-public readings (October 25 and 26) hosted by Chad’s College and the Durham Town Hall, where she was warmly introduced by distinguished Professor Stephen Regan. On the 25th, Goodison engagingly explored “The Poems That Made Me,” where she talked about the poems that influenced her as a young writer growing up in Jamaica, while on the 26th, she gave a special reading of her work for the festival, including the newly commissioned poem. 


WORD, SOUND, POWER: Introducing Tribe Sankofa. According to Founder and Artistic Director, Fabian Thomas, who also performs with the unit, it’s “a 15-member performing arts group comprised of a vibrant and eclectic cadre of multi-talented performers who are combining their artistry to add an exciting new dimension to the performing arts landscape of Jamaica and the rest of the world. Our niche is spoken word/poetry, soulful song-styling uniquely blended with other visual and performing arts. Our vision and market is global.” The group’s debut season, dubbed Word-Soul: The Deluxe Edition, is slated for Nov 24-25 at the Edna Manley College’s Vera Moody Concert Hall. A fundraising benefit performance of Aston Cooke’s rib-tickling revue Jamaica Fifty 2 Rahtid on Thursday, November 1 at the Pantry Playhouse will go towards the upcoming 2-night event. To learn more, visit facebook.com/tribesankofa and twitter.com/tribesankofa.




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Monday, 29 October 2012

WONDER WOMAN: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sounds off on her happy marriage and life in the fast lane

IN THIS TOGETHER: It could be before 2016,“ says Fraser-Pryce of starting a family. Inset, with husband Jason in Kingston.

You can say this for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce: the girl’s got that winning mix of speed, beauty and brains. Still basking in the glow of a golden 2012 season, the extraordinary 25-year-old sprint queen (sporting a bright-pink ensemble, big hair and that megawatt smile) sat down recently with Profile’s Ian Boyne for a sometimes fascinating, always delightful peek into her life as a wife, Christian, and future mother skillfully navigating life as the Pocket Rocket. Below, excerpts from their conversation: 

On married life with husband of one year, Jason Pryce: 
“It’s a typical marriage. We still have our problems, but one thing we always talk about is that even if we have a disagreement and are angry with each other, we must always sleep in the same bed. A friend of mine told me when I was getting married that you must never go to bed mad. So we always try to reconcile the matter before going to bed..… He’s very helpful around the house. He does the cooking and he’s a very good cook. Very good.” 

On choosing to ditch the single life: 
“I decided to get married because of my faith. I was living in a common-law situation (since 2008) and (marriage) was the next step I wanted to take, and in order to make that step I had to make sure that my house was in order. It’s a commitment for a lifetime. It’s not a joke for me when they say ‘Till death do us part.’ I mean it. So if you’re going to make a commitment I believe you have to stick with it no matter what.”  

On what keeps the fire alive: 
“Communication is key. There are days when we’ll just sit down and be totally honest with each other. We try to be honest with each other as much as possible, and we also try to trust each other as much as possible.” 

On plans to start a family: 
“We talk about having a child and he’s eager to have a child. Whenever I say I’m looking forward to the 2016 Olympics he looks at me like, Are you serious? (Laughs). What I try to do is make decisions as I go along, but I will never get caught in a trap where I’m just running, running and forgetting about my husband and the family that we want to build because that’s also important... It could be before 2016 but I don’t know. I just go with the flow…. And the thing with Jason and I is that we are on the same page……I want for my kids the things that my [single] mother was not able to give to me. I want to give that joy to my children as they grow up so they can become great women and men in the future.” 

On the upside of having money – and giving back: 
“Things have changed in such a way that I am now better able to assist my family. I love to help. I think helping is one of the biggest parts of who I am. I know how it is out there; I know the struggles persons can go through, and for me one of the things I am more inclined to do is to help through education because I know how vital it is. You can never stop learning.”




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Sunday, 28 October 2012

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Streisand grants another gorgeous sample of her gifts with Release Me

THE EYES HAVE IT: The icon explores love, regret and longing on latest.

News flash: entertainment legend Barbra Streisand’s timeless appeal remains as fresh as ever. In fact, her mercurial presence in the pop culture psyche (even after dozens of albums and a multitude of accolades) is still such a boon to music and showbiz aficionados alike that even when she steps into polarizing terrain spewing political utterances, she gets an easy pass. (As it turns out, she’s an Obama girl through and through.) 

But all politics aside, her hordes of loyalists (yours truly among them) have come to cherish Babs primarily for her penchant for evoking otherworldly beauty with that bewitching voice – a superb, distinctive instrument that can elevate the simplest of tunes into melodic jewels worth repeated listens. 

Her latest album, the newly-arrived Release Me, finds the icon musing on such universally relatable themes as love, regret and longing. And while the songs are beautifully composed (frequently with minimal accompaniment) entries in the Great American Songbook, they don’t always approach the greatness of such seminal Streisand cuts as “Send in the Clowns,” “People” and “The Way We Were.” 

Even so, what we get is a terrific suite of 11 songs that serve to reacquaint us with the masterful song-stylist who never met a sweet melody she couldn’t lovingly caress, sending tingles down the listener’s spine. Immediate standouts here include the heartfelt “Try to Win a Friend,” the plaintive “Willow for Me,” and the stirring “Home,” which brings the record to a tidy close. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+ 

DOWNLOAD: The wised-up gem “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough”




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RUMOUR HAS IT: Spiky humour, seasoned cast keep Scandal afloat

MAKING A SCENE: Nicholson and Grant. Inset, Reid and Belinda Reid.

In Scandal, the latest comedic offering from Stages Productions, Garfield Reid portrays Stanley/Blue, a filthy-rich drug dealer and abusive husband who, 18 years after fleeing the country to escape the pressures of rural life and a young lady whom he allegedly knocked up, is now enjoying life in suburban St. Andrew in a sprawling, gorgeously decorated mansion, complete with expensive furnishings and Scarface and The Godfather posters – not to mention a mistrustful and frustrated wife (Belinda Reid) and a put-upon housekeeper (a comically savvy Abigail Grant). 

When his past finally catches up with him, Stanley must not only face the proverbial music and a mean courtroom judge but also confront a slew of new and unexpected revelations that could floor even the most hardened criminal. 

In a nutshell, Scandal, which marks the directorial debut of Keith ‘Shebada’ Ramsey (sharing credit with Bunny Allen), is essentially low-brow entertainment that readily favours laugh-a-line humour over sustained logic and substance. But I’d be lying if I said the show doesn’t boast some ridiculously funny moments once it really gets going, managing to hold up a mirror to basic human nature and the essence of being Jamaican to your very core. 

Veteran supporting players Chris Daley and Michael Nicholson add spiky flavour to the comedic broth as a pair of bumbling policemen, regularly serving up mischief and the occasional detour from the main plot point: Blue’s long-in-coming comeuppance. 

Although what Stages Productions annually offers consistently wrings big laughs from audiences seeking catharsis, it would unequivocally signal a refreshing upgrade were they to start challenging patrons with more thought-provoking fare. After all, artistic evolution is key. Tyrone’s Verdict: B-




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FANTASTIC FOUR: Under-40 Artist of the Year finalists revealed, vying for jury and public vote prizes

WAYS OF SEEING: Bartley's "Playground"; below, finalists' entries.

A quartet of lavishly gifted young artists have been selected as finalists in the annual Super Plus Under-40 Artist of the Year competition. The group comprises photographers Marvin Bartley, Berette Macaulay and Olivia McGilchrist, and painter Leasho Johnson. 

Meet the Fantastic Four: 

Although he studied painting at the Edna Manley College, Marvin Bartley is better known as a photographer, having done commercial and fashion work with both local and international clients. In 2011, he was commissioned by the Andy Warhol Foundation to be included in the Small Axe art journal. 

Leasho Johnson was also educated at Edna Manley, graduating with a degree in Visual Communication. His work is influenced by 1950s Pop Art with a mix of various graffiti/graphic art styles, seeking to re-establish these aesthetics within the context of his own environment. The 2009 exhibit “Rock Stone and Boot Heel” at New York’s Real Art Ways Gallery ranks among his most memorable outings. In 2010, he was selected as a featured artist for the National Gallery of Jamaica’s “Young Artist V.” 



Berette Macaulay, meanwhile, brings to the exhibition her experience as a performer and theatre technician. Heavily influenced by her travels, she describes her work as “the psychosocial negotiations of identity”. In 2008 she won a Creative Arts award from Art For Progress for her interdisciplinary piece, Split, and screening of her short film Labyrinth Of Forever were hosted in San Francisco and Miami in 2011. Blessed with a Swiss-Jamaican heritage, 

Olivia McGilchrist was educated in France and the U.K., earning an M.A. in photography. Her work, which portrays “fantastical elements within my ordinary life,” have been shown nationally and internationally. Her solo exhibitions include 2008’s Portraits of Women at Madame Lillies Art Space in London. 

The winners of the Jury Prize and the Public Prize will be announced on Monday, November 19. This year’s iteration of the competition/exhibition is being put on by the Mutual Gallery in conjunction with the National Commercial Bank, Super Plus Food Stores, Carreras Group of Companies, and other corporate entities. The public is invited to the opening slated for this Thursday at 7 pm. The exhibition closes on Nov. 23. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday (10.00 am to 6.00 pm) and Saturdays (10.30 am to 3.00 pm).




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BRAZILIAN TREATMENT: Usain Bolt receives key to Rio, talks football and retirement

FLASHING LIGHTS: With Rio Mayor Eduardo Raes, surrounded by photogs and members of the press corps.

Even as he sets his sights on garnering another three gold medals at the 2016 Olympics, sprint phenom Usain Bolt’s mind is never far from his other sporting passions like soccer – and his eventual retirement from athletics, the sport that made him a reigning global sensation. 

Speaking with reporters at a recent news conference in Rio de Janeiro (the host city of the upcoming Olympics), Bolt said he fancies his chances of starting up a football career after he retires from sprinting at age 30. “[After] Rio, I'll just retire and just try and see if I'm any good in soccer,” he stated, “but I think I'd be pretty good because I play with my friends. I've played charity matches in Jamaica. I think I'm pretty good.” 

Meanwhile, the sprinter’s trip to South America was not without its more lighthearted moments. He took time off from his PUMA-organized promo schedule in Rio on Tuesday to do some sightseeing around the city, kicking off his two-day trip by visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue situated in the Corcovado Mountains, before hopping aboard a helicopter for a tour over Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Maracana Stadium, currently being renovated for next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. 

Bolt also visited a local athletics facility and met with young Brazilian athletes. He was also presented with the key to the City of Rio de Janeiro by Mayor Eduardo Paes, whom he “raced” during an exhibition at the Manuel Tubino Olympic Village. 

And when it comes to Usain Bolt, we’ve come to expect the unexpected, so it came as no surprise that he even found time to share a photo-op with Twilight heartthrob Taylor Lautner, who was in Brazil promoting the film’s final instalment, Breaking Dawn Part 2, due in cinemas in mid-November. 

Prior to Brazil, Bolt paid recent visits to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and New York City.


REST EASY: Vibing with friend and personal assistant Nugent Walker. Inset, a photo-op with Twilight star Taylor Lautner.




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READING ROOM: Leonie Forbes and Omari Edwards host intimate book readings/launches in Kingston

IN HER OWN WORDS: A sizeable audience turned up at Hope Road’s Bookophilia last Monday evening to take in a live reading of passages from Leonie Forbes’ captivating tome Leonie: Her Autobiography. And by all accounts those who were on hand (including actor Dennis Titus) left the event feeling inspired and fulfilled. The legendary actress and journalist, affectionately called Miss Lee, gave uproarious anecdotes about her childhood, her training in London, her travels to Australia, Finland and Ireland. She also touched on encountering racism, and working with Dame Judi Dench – in addition to offering her few cents on Jamaican history and the exploits of stage stars du jour Andrea ‘Delcita’ Wright and Keith ‘Shebada’ Ramsey. Forbes’ memoir is available locally wherever books are sold. 


PAGE BY PAGE: Dozens of friends, fans and well-wishers, as well as members of the media fraternity, flocked to the Sangster’s Book Store in the Spring’s Plaza recently to support reggae-gospel star Omari Edwards, who was introducing his first book, Why Me God? (Pageturner Publishing), a faith-based novel about struggle and survival. Out for the event were the likes of Rev. Al Miller, MP Damian Crawford, Nadine Blair, and songbird Alaine Laughton, who delighted the gathering with a lively excerpt from the book. Why Me God? is now available via booksellers across the island.




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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

SCENE & HEARD: Asafa Powell + PM Portia Simpson-Miller + Daryl Vaz + Errol Miller + Ann-Marie Vaz + Usain Bolt

PRIME TIME: Oct. 22, Canada. On the occasion of Jamaica 50, PM Portia Simpson-Miller (seen here with her Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper and guests) flew to Toronto earlier this week to attend a reception to mark half-a-century of bilateral relations between Jamaica and the North American territory. "We have been able to count on the ready and valuable support of the Canadian government and people in the fields of education, health, local government, justice reform, disaster preparedness and relief, and agriculture," noted Simpson-Miller. "Our military co-operation stands as an outstanding example to many." (Photo: JIS)

FAMILY MATTERS: Oct. 20, Kingston. Over this past weekend, Downtown Kingston was all abuzz as mobile giants Digicel drew a mammoth crowd to their Digicel Foundation 5K Night Run/Walk. Among the scores of enthusiasts putting their fitness to the test were MP Daryl Vaz, who shared the occasion with gorgeous wife, Ann-Marie, and lovely daughter, Victoria(Photo: Skkan Media)

MEN AT WORK: Oct. 19, Kingston. As he gears up to start training for the 2013 season, last Friday sprinter and LIME Ambassador Asafa Powell made a generous donation of nearly quarter-million dollars to Level-Three students of the Jamaican-German Automotive School, located on Maxfield Avenue. Here, Powell shares a photo-op with LIME's Errol Miller and a trio of the future mechanics, who also received brand-new desktop computers. (Photo: LIME)

TOUR OF DUTY: Oct. 23, Brazil. As we previously reported, the World's Fastest Man has touched down in South America for a working visit alongside reps from sponsors PUMA. Above, the sprint king prepares to take a helicopter ride to go see the celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: Usain Bolt)




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