REMEMBERING “MARIO” GEORGE RANDOLPH EARLE
seemed to me the sonic signifier of a smile. It
wasn’t a big voice: it was just a voice that elicited
attention; a voice that illustrated the geography of a
temperate mind; a magnetic and manicured voice.
It is no
wonder that that voice won him the moniker “ Mario”-
known to hundreds in Grenada, Carriacou, Petite
Martinique and elsewhere around the world. How
George Bullen came to be called “ Mario” is story well
worth the telling.
Bullen poses with Jean Augustine
The Hon Jean Augustine,
Black woman in the Canadian Federal
Parliament. Jean comes from Happy Hill
and is first cousin to former PM
a student at the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS),
when a movie named “The Toast of New Orleans” (1950)
came to the Empire Cinema in St George’s: The
movie tells the story of Pepe Duvalle, a fine-voiced
shrimp fisherman who falls in love with a beautiful
soprano played by Kathryn Grayson.
Grayson, the part of Pepe Duvalle, the fictive
fisherman, is played by none other than the great
American tenor Mario Lanza: This story of a fisherman in
love was guaranteed to tug at the heart strings of lad
who had been born and raised in Carriacou, a
Lanza sings many great songs in this movie, including
Jose’s aria from Carmen, “Libiamo”, “La Traviata”, and
“Be My love.”
The latter song stole George Bullen’s young heart and
after coming out of Empire on that day he would sing it
as if his whole life depended on it:
For no one else can end this yearning
This need that you and you alone create
Just fill my arms
The way you’ve filled my dreams
The dreams that you inspire
With every sweet desire
Be my love
And with your kisses set me burning
One kiss is all I need to seal my fate
And hand in hand
We’ll find love’s Promised Land
There’ll be no one but you for me
If you will be my love.
sang those intoxicating words over and over and over
until his friends had had enough: they reacted by
naming him Mario Lanza. The moniker stuck and George
Bullen would become “Mario” for the rest of his life.
“Mario”George Randolph Earle Bullen, scholar, diplomat
and businessman died after a prolonged battle with
prostate cancer. He was 69.
was an outstanding Grenadian and Caribbean diplomat and
he served his country and the Organization of Eastern
Caribbean States (OECS) with great distinction.
noting that Ambassador Bullen viewed diplomacy as the
ritual in which the world community expressed its
kinship, an idea that came right out of Carriacou’s
world famous Nation Dance (Big Drum), a gathering of the
“nations” in the spiritual presence of their
ancestors-the benevolent “old heads”.
Dance is an occasion when individuality is dissolved in
a community of song and dance; it a time of atonement
peacemaker is one of the noblest souls in Carriacou
society. On the two days of the island’s annual
Shrovetide Carnival, the peacemaker comes out to ensure
that the Shakespeare Mas’s agonistic recitals of
passages from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar do not cross
the line into what Kayaks will called “stupid
Bullen was a peacemaker in the best Carriacou tradition.
Indeed, he was keenly aware of the fact that it was
diplomacy that allowed small and vulnerable states to
be heard in the noisy halls of world affairs. He
understood that flexibility and creativity were the
small states’ biggest assets in global politics.
current financial and economic crisis –the worst since
the 1930s, will impact the foreign policies of the big
players in world affairs and ultimately small states
will have to fashion new and creative responses if they
want to survive. In the teeth of this world-changing
moment Mario’s demise seems a “cosmic injustice.”
remember Mario for his diplomatic cool, his searching
scholarship, his golden smile, his voice, and his
heartfelt condolences to his dear wife, Celia (nee
Radix), his children Sean, Trevor and Celine and his
siblings and other members of the Bullen family.
be laid to rest on April 6.