". . . 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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why I Want to Teach Anthropology at the Army War College

What Would Smedley Butler Do? By BRIAN McKENNA

[ Today anthropologists are busy at work for the CIA and Pentagon. The CIA recently funded an effort - the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program - to train up to 150 analysts in anthropology, each of whom receive a $25,000 a year stipend, tuition support, loan paybacks and other benefits with the proviso that they work for an intelligence agency for 1 ½ times the period covered by financial support. These are secret scholar-spies circulating in our anthropology departments. They cannot reveal their funding source. Then there are the Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain Teams in which the military actively recruits anthropologists to provide counterinsurgency data for its occupying armies. As private contractors anthropologists can make up to $300,000 a year for their service. ]

[ My first days of classes at the US Army War College would be dedicated to Smedley Butler. He'd no doubt place education - truthful military education with all its contradictions- at the forefront of social life, most especially in the military itself! Ultimately the military rests on well-trained soldiers who have the capacity to make ethical judgments. Here he is on war:

"War is just a racket. . .It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. . .There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its 'finger men' to point out enemies, its 'muscle men' to destroy enemies, its 'brain men' to plan war preparations, and a 'Big Boss' Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism." Butler is one of only two Marines ever to hold double awards of the Navy issue Medal of Honor. Butler laid his reputation on the line with this searing 1933 speech. "It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. . . .I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. . .In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. . . .I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service." ]

Friday, May 30, 2008

An Interview With Vaquero Re New Orleans

The link to the "Bomb" magazine site is here:

Ned Sublette by Garnette Cadogan

WEB EXCLUSIVE! Musician turned musicologist Ned Sublette unravels the histories and sounds that shaped New Orleans, our most “American” city. Out now: The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square.

Brings together the many aspects of the Vaquero Gentleman.

This is Part 1 of two parts.

Includes performance video clips and photographs.

Here's a sample of what they talk about.

[ NS Well, the word “Creole,” which can almost function as a red flag, has multiple meanings. Especially in Louisiana, where words often don’t mean the same things they mean elsewhere. The word Creole, from the Portuguese or Spanish criar — to raise, as in a child — became crioulo, a person born in the New World. It doesn’t imply anything about the skin tone of the person. The criollos in Cuba were the people born in Cuba at a time when the concept of Cuban nationality didn’t exist, as opposed to the peninsulares, from Spain. The idea of creolization is a fundamental concept of New World cultural theory. Certainly, writing about Cuban culture would be meaningless without it. In Louisiana this word got flipped around to where it meant something rather different. It came to mean French-speaking people. Some Louisiana historians of a bygone era insisted that Creoles were only white. More typically, the word has come to mean a lighter-skinned, and often more highly educated, person of partly French or Spanish, and partly African descent, versus the darker-skinned people of English-speaking descent. For example, Jelly Roll Morton, whose real name was Ferdinand LaMothe—a classic example of a New Orleans Creole. This was the successor class to the free people of color of slavery days.

In New Orleans, it’s a very confusing word that reaches directly into one of the fundamental dramas of the city: racial mixture.

GC Certainly, the word Creole is fraught with misunderstandings, and the way in which people argue over it—especially in New Orleans, where that argument has been going on since the early 19th century—points to the central role that race plays in the meaning of New Orleans. Indeed, it reveals something you hinted at: New Orleans is both a place and idea. As idea, people like to think of it as difference. You, however, by describing it as an “alternative American history in and of itself” have latched onto it as a different and quintessentially American spot.

NS Not merely a peculiar spot, but the logical outcome of competing international forces.

GC Your argument, then, is that New Orleans is not merely a small, different city, but is a city at the crux of America’s…

NS At the absolute crossroads of American history! Over and over again. Including now.

GC New Orleans—at once very American and very un-American! ]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Larry Blumenfeld Writes About Dr. John's Latest CD

Dr. John and the Lower 911's City That Care Forgot

Crucial, caustic postcards from New Orleans

[ "If ya wonder how we doin'/Short version is we gettin' there," Dr. John sings at one point, then changes up the lyric: "If ya wonder how we doin'/Short version is we gettin' mad." "Promises, Promises" sounds like a revival-tent version of "Down by the Riverside," its sing-song refrain nonetheless cynical: "The road to the White House is paved with lies." "Black Gold" takes on the oil-industry greed fueling everything from environmental catastrophe in the Gulf to endless war in Iraq. "Say Whut?" demands accountability for the botched Katrina response, and bites hard: "Say it's a job well done/Then you giggled like a bitch/Hopped back on the Air Force One." In "Dream Warrior," Dr. John imagines himself as an avenging samurai "sleeping with my sword" and proffers a conspiracy theory: "Lemme explain/About the second battle of New Orleans/Not about the loss, not even the devastation/About it was done with intention." Beneath this beats a bamboula rhythm, bedrock of local resistance music for centuries.

It's not all national headlines, though. "My People Need a Second Line" is a pointed response to an ongoing culture war over the brass-band-led funeral processions that define New Orleans musical tradition. It specifically references a moment when 20 police cars converged in Tremé (the oldest black neighborhood in the city), and two musicians were led away in cuffs. Dr. John explains the meaning of the jazz funeral via a doleful melody; then a snare-drum snaps and the tempo speeds up, signaling the second-line. "It's something spiritual/Ought to be kept out of politics," he chants as trumpeter James Andrews and trombonist Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews—older and younger brothers of a storied Tremé lineage—play soaring variations on a hymn. Such songs, directed at us all, are dedicated to families like these. ]

Monday, May 26, 2008

Politics of Hypocrisy

Full text if you click on this link:

[ It would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23 at the Cuban American National Foundation created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did McCain’s and Bush’s. I feel no resentment towards him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.

What were Obama’s statements?

“Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice and repression in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy. (…) This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century – of elections that are anything but free or fair (…) I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba,” he told annexationists, adding: “It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. (…) I will maintain the embargo.”

The content of these declarations by this strong candidate to the U.S. presidency spares me the work of having to explain the reason for this reflection.

José Hernandez, one of the Cuban American National Foundation directives who Obama praises in his speech, was none other than the owner of the 50-calibre automatic rifle, equipped with telescopic and infrared sights, which was confiscated, by chance, along with other deadly weapons while being transported by sea to Venezuela, where the Foundation had planned to assassinate the writer of these lines at an international meeting held in Margarita, in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta.

Pepe Hernández’ group wanted to renegotiate a former pact with Clinton, betrayed by Mas Canosa’s clan, who secured Bush’s electoral victory in 2000 through fraud, because the latter had promised to assassinate Castro, something they all happily embraced. These are the kinds of political tricks inherent to the United States’ decadent and contradictory system.

Presidential candidate Obama’s speech may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand-outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it. ]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Obama's Speech to the Miami Cubans

A transcript of the whole speech can be found here (it's a pdf file, provided by the Miami Herald).

I've been hearing snippits of his speech on various radio programs all afternoon. This is some talk with some substance, the first I've ever heard coming from a politician on this subject. He also took McCain to task for talking just like every other politician that comes to Miami and talks about Cuba.

[ That is the record - the Bush record in Latin America - that John McCain has chosen to embrace. Senator McCain doesn't talk about these trends in our hemisphere because he knows that it's part of the broader Bush-McCain failure to address priorities beyond Iraq. The situation has changed in the Americas, but we've failed to change with it. Instead of engaging the people of the region, we've acted as if we can still dictate terms unilaterally. Wehave not offered a clear and comprehensive vision, backed up with strongdiplomacy. We are failing to join the battle for hearts and minds. For far too long, Washington has engaged in outdated debates and stuck to tired blueprints on drugs and trade, on democracy and development -- even though they won't meet the tests of the future.

The stakes could not be higher. It is time for us to recognize that the future security and prosperity of the United States is fundamentally tied to the future of the Americas. If we don't turn away from the policies of the past, then we won't be able to shape the future. The Bush Administration has offered no clear vision for this future, and neither has John McCain. ]

[ Now let me be clear. John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.

I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We've heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.

It's time for more than tough talk that never yields results. It's time for a new strategy. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. That's why I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps tobegin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in Cuba - through strong, smart and principled diplomacy. ]

I disagree with that last paragraph that I pulled from the speech. It also apparantly contradicts what he said in the previous paragraph, "It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime." First he says that it is time to allow unrestricted travel to Cuba so Cuban Americans can help their families financially -- thus be less dependent on the Cuban state. The he says he's determined to keep the embargo. Lifting the embargo would be the best way for Cubans to be less dependent on the state, it seems to me. I also have a sense that Obama doesn't really know yet how the Cuban state operates in the daily lives of most Cubans. But this is more substance and intelligence than I've seen from a politician in Miami on either Cuba or Latin America in decades.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The "Che" Films

Reviews from Cannes, here (this one was clearly written to deadline in a spurt immediately post viewing -- and these two films are many hours of watching -- so is not so easy to read), and here.

A close friend has been a part of the process of making these films, including doing the Spanish translation for them, and playing a small role, as a 'disillusioned Revolutionary,' so this is another reason we're interested in them. He's been providing updates all along.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This Week

Working pretty hard on my Own Stuff, as well as TYBTF.

Some socializing in the evenings.

Not much time to blog.
Life will supercede online, won't it?

Monday, May 19, 2008


So this is how the book appears to be shaping up in terms of subject and theme, very much a volume 2 about the history New Orleans, though it also includes our personal memoir of it, from which earlier history branches off as we investigate questions to which we look for answers, and find these answers in historical conditions:

[ The failure of Reconstruction, which is with us still, is a story of more than 75 years of oppression (let's date it from 1876 to 1963). And that the 60s were a bright moment, when enough people chose collective advancement over individual betterment. But the reaction to that transformed the politics of the country, culminating in a far-right dirty-tricks party based on a solid southern base that culminated in Hurricane Katrina. ]

It is going to make a large swath of New Orleanians furious.

The book is still our personal memoir of living in NO. The earlier history branches off our investigation into questions that come up between us, to which we looking for answers, and we find these answers in historical conditions, again with the inevitable vision of the shadow of slavery still stretched across the city and the region.

One of these historical branches is story and history of Mardi Gras, how it began, in the 1850's just before the Civil War, the connection of the krewes's membership to the military coup that took over NO in the early years post Civil-War, the spread of the mummers' clubs and krewes throughout the south, culminating with the founding of another 'k' secret society in Tennessee, known as the Ku Klux Klan. For us personally it began with the question of 'how can they do this?' upon seeing the blatant racist contempt of the krewe of Bacchus's parade, that begins every year with 3 floats of: Daddy Kong, Mommy Kong and Baby Kong. And nobody except us remarks on it, and when we do think we're cranks. Except for our black friends, who get it just fine, and it hurts like hell too.

Another way this story is being told, well this made us both cry last night, tweaking a section on a black man in prison, reading his letters to his family, we both just broke into tears."Thanks that the money order was sent, even though it means you're short on the rent." The reality of the lives of so many.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs Dies

Danton Burroughs, the grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs, just died, in Tarzana.

[ Burroughs, who had been battling Parkinson's disease, died of heart failure a day after a fire at his home destroyed a room filled with family memorabilia. ]

Here's the Burroughs website.

He'd been working, unsuccessfully, on selling the Mars books as a series for a television network like GRRM did ASOIAF to HBO, or a movie franchise, like Indiana Jones.

I'd quite like to see a good HBO series of the Mars books, done in the style of the period in which they were written. If done well, needless to say.

That John Carter is a Confederate fits Burroughs very thoroughly within my KKK theory about Hollywoid and the pulps, that they are all about Kipling, the Klan and Kong.

Tipping Point Reached?

Biden used 'bullshit' in public to describe the headgangstachimp's blather in Israel.

Conyers has said Rove is supoenaed, and if he doesn't answer to it, he will be arrested.

Wexler's pushing on the Siegleman trial and conviction and all the other bs that the DOJ's done in Their Name.

If it is really the DOJ shenanigans that takes Them down -- even after they're Out post the election -- isn't that what we can call Justice?

That speech in Israel, that was really something. It seems to have had just the opposite effect of what They planned and expected though, finalizing the anointing of Obama as the Dem candidate, as everyone rallies 'round in outrage that a so-called POTUS, who STOLE BOTH ELECTIONS and whose grandfather thought doing bidness with Hitler and the nazis the smart thing to do, and who DID MEET WITH HITLER, characterized a candidate as a Hitler.

Why has it taken this farkin' long?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It Can't Happen Here, In Small Town Midwest America

Oh yes it can, and it does. We are speaking of child prostitution, children kidnapped and raped repeatedly by small town fathers.

If you can stomach the story go here to a story investigated and broken by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette.

This particular girl is 13 and was kidnapped from Minnesota.

[ In this massive project, no passage stands out more than the opening paragraphs in part one:

In the basement of an ordinary-looking Williamsburg home, the 13-year-old girl was given a choice. Either she would have sex with two men nearly twice her age or she would be given back to her kidnapper. Already in the week since Demont Bowie told the suburban Minneapolis girl she belonged to him, he'd beaten and abused her, starved her and deprived her of sleep. He traded her body to his friends and even a mechanic. When Demont told her to do something to someone, she did. There was no refusing. He'd said he'd kill her, kill her family, if she tried to leave. She believed him. ]

[ Based on your reporting in this case, how widespread do you think this kind of child exploitation is in rural America?

Hemmingsen: I don't think it's unusual at all. Betty Thompson started prostituting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when she was young. She had previously been convicted of prostituting an underage Cedar Rapids-area girl in Milwaukee. While the series was running, I got a phone call from a man who said one of the other "escort" services that had previously advertised in The Gazette was offering young girls, although I don't have proof of that. ]

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I am in the process of changing my primary e-mail address, the one I use for friends and family and professional contacts from the one I've had for many years to a new one.

This is more complicated than it might seem, or maybe what I mean is that it is a lot more work than one might have expected, meaning it is taking longer to get everything set up and moved and transferred than I thought. So I'm glad I started the process before giving up the old primary e-dress! Not to mention the unexpected and unexplained problems I've had getting my new e-dress registered has made for more delay.

In any case, anyone who reads this blog and has my primary e-dress, and would like to be notified NOW as to the new one, let me know. Sending out the mass mailing notification of the change is the last thing I'll be doing, and only lordessa knows how that will go. For one thing, I know from the experiences of others, that a lot of people will fog out that mailing and I shall certainly lose touch with some.

So far though, I've got my e-mail lists changed over successfully!

The old address will still be in effect for a few more days, so mail to that one.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Last Night

Party last night, was outstanding. It wasn't so much a party as it was a performance. Vaquero talked, read, took questions, played his guitar and sang his songs. The weather was horrible -- that peculiar polluted over-amped toxic brew of still humidity and 'too warm too chill at the same time' air, that is Our NYC on occasion. It was one of those days the health advisory board advises you to exercise indoors, not go running outside. Additionally, traffic was held up, messed up, at all points of egress, ingress, partly due to the demonstrations and protests going on around the Sean Bell police shooting case, because the non-juried trial acquitted all the cops in question of all charges.

Nevertheless the small theater of the Brecht Forum was filled to capacity, with old friends, new friends and people we don't know.

Among them was the music director for The Wire, Blake Leyh. He gifted me "The Five Years of Music From The Wire". I got him to autograph it. I screamed and nearly swooned like a fan, when he was introduced to me. Vaquero, who made the introduction, marveled, "She NEVER does that! whoever you are! You really must be special." He'd already read The World That Made New Orleans. He'd already given a copy to David Simon. He bought another, to give to Jonathan Demme. I've been harassing people, that SOMEBODY should be bringing this book to the notice of those crews. So now I can rest easy on that matter. He also bought a copy of Cuba and Its Music, and a Cowboy Rumba cd.

I met some new friends face 2 face that I've made via online. It was so wonderful that they came, and gave The World That Made New Orleans their blessing. They, and all our friends, old and new, created a very special night, and a memory that I will cherish.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Clintons & Their War on Obama

Since Parry says he's known all this since December, why was this information only published post Clinton's poor showing on Tuesday, in May?

Some may believe that dem or rethug matters not at all because they are the same (Hillary's campaign certainly enforces that conviction, doesn't it?), but I still kinda hope that if Obama's in the White House the U.S. may wind down in Iraq, put some breaks on hemoraging all the tax money to Halliburton and Blackwater types, NOT bomb Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and anywhere else.


The Clintons and the 'War on Obama'

by Robert Parry

The Consortium News

May 4, 2008

[ Last December, when I first learned via Clinton insiders that their "oppo"package would include Barack Obama's associations with fiery black preacherJeremiah Wright and Vietnam War-era radical William Ayers, I shrugged atwhat sounded to me like sub-standard fare from the dark side of American politics. ]

[ Besides those two themes, Clinton insiders were plotting how to exploit Obama's past political ties to indicted real-estate developer Tony Rezko,and they even were hashing over how they might slip in suggestions that Obama's dead mother had been a leftist. (When I heard the "oppo" about the dead mother, I really couldn't believe my ears.) ]

[ Even then - in December before the first votes had been cast - the Clintons were so caught up in their ambition to return to the White House that they were veering toward the worst aspects of politics, what is generally associated with the American Right and the most ruthless Republican operatives - guilt-by-association, red-baiting, McCarthyism and racial messaging. ]

And then there's this:

Carol Felsenthal’s new book, Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, is based on more than 150 interviews with the former president's friends, associates, and enemies.

Felsenthal said today, stressing that this is HER OPINION AND IMPRESSION ONLY (though formed from decades of watching the Clintons in narrow focus), that if Hillary doesn't get the nomination, she's going to do her very best subtle sabotage of Obama, hoping McCain's a 1-termer, and go for it again in 2012. FWIW -- which may be less than 2 cents in today's debased U.S. currency.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Book Party

If you're in the general vicinity, you are very welcome to drop by!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kate and Constance Talk: With Each Other

Up now on DeepGenre is a conversation about war, slavery and women between Kate Elliott and Constance Ash, conducted while Constance was reading Kate's new novel, Shadow Gate.

You can participate too, by going here.

Happy May Day!

Workers of the world, unite!