". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, October 9, 2015

MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" & The American Slave Coast

El V is scheduled to be interviewed about The American Slave Coast for a six minute or so segment this coming Sunday morning, sometime during MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" program which runs from 10 AM to ? 11:30 ? noon?

"Melissa Victoria Harris-Perry is an American writer, professor, television host, and political commentator with a focus on African-American politics. Harris-Perry hosts the Melissa Harris-Perry weekend news and opinion television show on MSNBC."
I will be there to lend support, but will not go on camera.  Quite some time ago I made a deal with my co-author that if a television spot came up he will do it without me. Neither of us has any actual television experience and the two times I was on a very small television program I froze seeing myself in the monitors. It's difficult enough to not make a fool of oneself, and this way he doesn't have to deal with me as well as everything else. Or vice versa, for that matter. Also, el V's good at speaking and responding fast, quick and even witty.

Unlike me, as a professional musician and singer, he's had years of experience on stage with audiences of all different kinds, from theaters and bar rooms to academia, and on the radio -- and a bit more television experience, particularly back in 2006 when Willie Nelson recorded his gay cowboy song, "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly [fond of each other]."

After all this is about The American Slave Coast and its tragic subject matter, not about me.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Q&A - Behind the Writing of The American Slave Coast + Calendar

We're back home, from wonderful experiences at Brown and Boston Universities, for the nonce.  We're just getting warm. Amazon ran out of hardcover copies of Slave Coast, and dropped the Kindle price. Thanks to everyone who's shown us love on Facebook. Please feel free to write a review for Amazon or anywhere else!

Ned will  be speaking today (Thursday, October 8) at a conference at SUNY Old Westbury (in Long Island, easily reachable from NYC) from 3:50-5:20 p.m. We're among those people who likes conferences because we get to meet people

like Alejandro de la Fuente, author of Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century.

In the meantime, up on the internet is a Q&A with the authors of The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry.  Go here:
October 7, 2015 • Behind the Scenes by Meaghan Miller: Ned and Constance Sublette, co-authors of The American Slave Coast

The American Slave Coast itinerary, so far (not including Slave Coast's radio or television dates, however, nor does it include writing pieces requested about Slave Coast and / or Cuba, so far):

On Friday (October 8) Ned will be guest DJ starting at 4 p.m. on Felipito Palacios's annual multi-day, glorious, caffeine-intensive radio Salsathon on WUSB, Stony Brook University. He doesn't know how long he'll go, but Felipito always gets at least three hours of music from Ned. He'll play some of his favorite records of the last couple of years, heavy on the Latin jazz or whatever you wanna call it, but he calls it artistic perfection. Yes, WUSB streams. Tune them in!
On Oct. 15, we'll be in State College, PA, where we'll talk at Penn State on the 15th at 4 p.m. about The American Slave Coast. We're excited about that, and about all of what comes after, including but not limited to TASC events at the following . . . 
Oct. 22, New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville VA
Oct. 25, Quail Ridge Books and Music, Raleigh NC
Oct. 26, Duke University, Durham NC
Nov. 2, Fountain Books, Richmond VA
Nov. 4, C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Washington College, Chestertown MD
Nov. 5, George Mason University, Fairfax VA
Nov. 10 Community Book Center, New Orleans
Nov. 12 Octavia Books, New Orleans
Nov. 14, Brazos Books, Houston
Nov. 17, Bloomfield College, Bloomfield NJ
Nov. 18, Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Hartford CT
and more to come . . .

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rhode Island Rules

What a wonderful afternoon with Ted showing us about Rhode Island, which is only something 24 miles one way and 30 another -- but how much interesting to see there is in small territory -- and i'm not even talking the coast, inlets, islands and bays here.

He took us to King Philip's Throne, set in what one immediately feels is sacred space.  The sky was glowering grey, the wind was so up that the bay was white-capped, and it was cold.  Yet, in that dell in the woods, though the wind was whipping the high tree branches, down where we stood, it was still and quiet. When Ted was a boy his teachers brought his class there during their study of American - New England colonial history.  King Philip's War 1675 - 1678 (a/k/a Metacom's Rebellion) was the culmination of the native tribes unity through Metacom's (Philip's tribal name) efforts to drive the white man out.  It had been a long war over most of the 17th century in New England and Virginia, and the Natives lost.

We tracked the Portuguese settlements in Providence when Rhode Island was still the heart of the U.S. textile industry.

It was here that the English technology was first smuggled, and the Rhode Island entrepreneurs in the pattern of  mill manufactury and factories created all the goods from clothes and shoes to hoes and shovels that the southern plantation labor wore and worked with, as well as the California Gold Rush and Nevada silver miners.  The slave commerce was effortlessly re-purposed to supplying the Union armies after Fort Sumter.  Recall Lincoln's Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase's daughter, Kate, married Rhode Island textile mill millionaire (and governor) William Sprague.  It was a scandal or at least rumored to be a scandal as Sprague was breaking blockade to bring cotton up to mills in Rhode Island from the CSA ports -- surely Sprague could not do that unless Lincoln's Treasury Secretary was aiding and abetting?

We ended with a party of people our host went to high school with, who all do interesting things, but have nothing to do with universities, though many of them do work in the environmental non government and government agencies and institutes.

This looked very different yesterday under petulant, cold skies. 
 I saw Gilded Age mansions on the Newport coast. Thus I dreamed of Wharton's Age of Innocence all night and Scorcese's film of same all night, while sleeping in a Gilded Age Providence Victorian pile.

Today the sun shines and now that we've had a most satisfying old time (50 years on the same spot) Family Diner breakfast special, we head to Boston.

Friday, October 2, 2015

It Happened, It's Over With, The American Slave Coast Is Launched

After the reading / presentation (complete with interesting images thanks to Power Point), the Q&A -- questions for presenting historians and panelists are not soft ball, "Oooo I love you and yourwork so much, I worship you,  how do you do it?"

Rather, in these settings, the Q&A presents the opportunity for other scholars to challenge one's conclusions, to bring up genuine inquiries as to theory, arguments, research, and even amplify the material that the writer has presented to the inquirer.  It is extraordinarily intellectually stimulating.

Then came the signing the books that were purchased, and then signing the bookstore stock.

The American Slave Coast was launched.  And it was over.

The Aspire Restaurant room in which we had our
celebratory The American Slave Coast launch dinner.
But it was night, raining and cold, not day bright and warm
as is pictured here.  And it was also filled with diners.
Except for dinner and a drink to celebrate.  Which we did in another of Providence's splendid boutique locavore, seasonal restaurants, Aspire, which happens to be located in the Providence Hotel, where we are staying.  It's a multi-room establishment, including the room with the bar -- and unlike so many hotel restaurants and bars we observed during our various trips South to research The American Slave Coast, all the rooms were packed with diners.  And there was a very good live jazz band playing.  Some were the pre-theater crowd -- Providence's refurbished Gilded Age Playhouse's fall season is underway.  Others were connected to some Brown event -- like us -- and others were just locals and visitors for one reason o another.

El V had crab cakes -- good for him, since I got to sample Providence's crab cakes.  He also had clam chowder -- which I had earlier elsewhere.  Both clam chowders were wonderful, but very different from each other, despite having the same basic ingredients, particularly the potatoes (also local) and clams.  As usual he drank Guiness.

I had a watermelon salad, with arugula (just about to go off the menu now the cold has moved in along with the storms). I followed that with a half serving which was more than ample of braised scallops on a risotto bed, with citrus bits and greens.

You see the Gilded Age everywhere.
The Dorrance building was originally
a bank.  Think Wharton, The Age
of Innocence
I had a pinot grigio because it was served at the welcome dinner last night at another very fine Providence restaurant.  The wine wasn't the bland, limp stuff that pinot grigio has become in NYC.  This was chilled to just the right temperature, served in just the perfect proportion to the right wine glass, so that temperature, crispness and flavors all remain through the last sip-and-swallow. These pinots had body and crunch and tang, very refreshing after a long day of intellectual challenge and performance, as well as meeting and greeting.

In any food place we've been in Providence, whether a sandwich shop, coffee and tea and snacks, an old Irish pub with bar food -- Blakes Tavern is the one we went to, where I had my clam chowder experience -- the quality is high, and so is the attitude and service.  Everyone seems genuinely pleased that you like their establishment and their food.

As we've long suspected, NYC's restaurant - food hype is way over-rated.

Here, partly, we're seeing the historical influence and experience of Rhode Island as a destination for the very wealthy to eat and vacation.  In that sense too, not just the sea orientation, it is similar to Maryland's splendid culinary tradition of the best local produce, sea food, shell fish, meat and poultry, prepared with style and flavor and pride.

What a privilege it has been to be here, finally.  Rhode Island may be small  -- so small it never sent a delegation to the Constitutional Convention -- neither did New Jersey -- believing the larger states -- they were looking at Virginia -- would screw them over, not realizing how Connecticut would go to bat for the small states for equal representation with two legislative houses, the top one, the Senate, having only two from each state no matter territory or population.  But it is fascinating and deep, particularly when explored from the perspectives of the slave and opium trade, smuggling and industry and -- well, money.

Everywhere we see the evidence of very old money for a very long time . . . .  A tiered society's evidence in other words, writ large to view, because the state's territory is so small.

Tomorrow is going to be all about Rhode Island and her history as a native son historian takes us round.

Review -- The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry

People are saying the production and
package of The American Slave Coast
 are attractive and impressive

Photo credit: Lawrence Hill Books,
one of many illos in The
American Slave Coast.

New Book: "America Was Built On Slavery And It Was Much Worse Than You Might Imagine: Slaves as money. A breeding industry. Founding fathers of white supremacy."

By Steven Rosenfeld

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's Officially Published Today! The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry

So far we're having an incredible experience, meeting up with old friends, getting to know newer friends better, and meeting brand new friends, all of whom are exciting, brilliant and filled with stimulating knowledge they are eager to share.

The Watson Institute Presents A Cuban Music Festival

Thursday, October 1

Recording session with musicians at the Granoff Center for the Arts, 154 Angell Street, 11 a.m.

Ned Sublette presents: “El paquete, or, the present moment in Cuban music: a descarga.” Talk in Kim Koo Library, 4 p.m. Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street

Festival Welcome Dinner hosted by Richard Snyder, The Dorrance (restaurant), 60 Dorrance Street, 6:30 p.m.

Afro-Cuban Rumba Party, 9 p.m. The Spot Underground, 180 Pine Street. Pedrito Martínez, Román Díaz, Philbert Armenteros, more.

Today is the pub date for The American Slave Coast!

And tomorrow (Oct. 2) at 5 p.m., Ned and Constance will hold the first of many author events for the book, also at Brown (what a great place to launch), at the Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.

Much more to come. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Brown University This Weekend

The Watson Institute for Public and International Affairs, Brown University, where we shall be at 5: PM tomorrow.

Here is the link explaining (part of) the occasion.

For where we begin driving to in a couple of hours.  In the rain.  No rain since July to speak of.  But this week it rains.  All week.  All along the coast.  Also loooming, potential hurricane, aimed right at us.  No one on this coast, or in this locality has forgotten Hurricane Sandy.