". . . 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

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Cardiogram of the Confederate Nation"

Black Union soldiers, women, children and ministers from war-smashed Charleston S.C., created Memorial Day, as David Blight describes on the second screen/page of "Forgetting Why We Remember", the lead Op-ed article from today's NY Times.  But I the following from the first page, because it goes better with the subject matter of the second op-ed piece in today's NY Times, the Disunion column, described after Blight's article.
"Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.

But the ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory as well, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.

The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.
"Of Monsters, Men — And Topic Modeling" by Robert K Nelson, is the latest Disunion column on the Civil War in the New York Times.
"....“topic modeling” allows us to understand in far greater detail the arguments and appeals that were used throughout the war to convince men to join the army, engaging in the morally difficult task of killing other men, and accepting the terrifying prospect of being killed themselves."
The two forms most employed were patriotic and poetic appeals in which death in service to the cause was described as glorious, bringing immortality, and the diatribes against the North as being monsters, not even true men, certainly not true Americans like the southerners since they were all deformed immigrants [mighty ironic that, since so many in the south were Scots, Irish and Scots-Irish] from ungodly shores, certainly not Christian, so it was right and just and glorious to kill them.

Informative graphs accompany the column.

It would, however, be more informative and interesting to see the results of text-modeling applied to Union paper of record of the era, like the New York Times.

Still, text-modeling is a marvelous new tool in the scholar's money bag, making possible a survey of large amounts of text in a very short time, that we've not been able to perform before.
Memorial Day, you all ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, May 29, 2011


This is the still that the NY Times chose to illustrate their weekend feature on the number of television programs that have run, are continuing, or will be broadcast about the Civil War this year. The feature focuses on individual artifacts of the period, and the stories behind them.

What does this scene, without context or other information, tell you?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Captain John Smith Is the First Virginian

Professor Lemay says so, right in his book on Smith.  He includes Smith in the mythic American categories of heroes:
"Indian fighters, frontiersmen and gunfighters."
Recall, you all, that 'gunfighter' is something literally created by the movies -- it was nothing out of real life.  It's significant too, that Lemay agrees that Walter Scott's medieval protagonists are in this line, they too were created post the early American mythic prototypes, who were real, like Smith, Raleigh, Drake, Hawkins, all revered in Virginia.

From his book about Smith and the significance of his life and deeds:

"The major mythic hero of the Middle Ages and Renaissance -- and later, as numerous chapbooks, ballads, and Sir Walter Scott's novels testify -- was the chivalric kights, whose heroic battles sometimes occurred in great arenas, with the gentry and aristocracy looking on.  America's indigenous heroes have been Indian fighters, frontiersmen, and gunfighters, such as John Mason, Thomas Church, Daniel Gookin, John Lovewell, Thomas Cresap, and Robert Rogers in the colonial period, and Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill Cody from the Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century.  Their confrontations usually occurred in isolated wilderness areas or small towns.  Captain John Smith fulfilled the heroic roles of both the European Renaissance and the American frontiersman.  His life documents and illustrates the changing nature of heroic action. ...."
It is of further significance that the images we hold of these heroes from the Revolution to the end of the century, are for the most part, fictional creations, rather than historical.

In this context re-reading Twain's "Essay on Chivalry" is even more illuminating.

Both of us are feeling poorly still.  El V's gums are all inflamed from the surgery, his sinuses ache, and he's suffering from allergies.  I'm, well, I'm hurtin' like you know what.  It's going to be a quiet holiday weekend here.  Monday, we'll be with friends, but mostly it's going to be reading, writing = working.  It could be worse.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Captain John Smith by J. A. Leo Lemay &* Homicide*

The American Dream of Captain John Smith (1994 - University Press of Virginia) by Prof. Lemay is the first book written by this American scholar that we've read.  This is the case despite living among his personal library collection -- the first scholars to have that privilege -- and reading many of titles, opening and dipping into many more, and yet not able to fully delve into that magnificent collection.

So, when we returned to NYC from the Fellowship we ordered several of Lemay's books.  This is the first one to arrive.  What a fascinating tale it is too, a tale of swashbuckling heroism of both the European Renaissance and the American frontier.  Smith was a knight and he wore armor.  He wore the iron collar of slavery to the Turks. He fought the Turk in the Transylvanian armies (when the Poles had an empire and fought the Turks, Mongols, Tatars and Russians in the region), slaying three of the Turks' greatest warriors in single combat, then cut off their heads so they might be impaled on poles.  He went to Virginia. He was twenty-six years old.  He returned to England because a careless aide blew off Smith's balls, evidently trying to light a cannon or a musket, as well as the aristocrats of the Virginia Company being dissatisfied with Smith's yeoman practicality of making things work, and making even aristocrats work, while not finding gold, and making friends with the Indians -- and playing the tribes off against each other, being the best friend of each one.  Then he wrote books.  He was an egalitarian and a visionary.  The tales about him, for so long dismissed as tall tale telling are true.  He is the first Virginian, the perfect knight, pure and true.  After him Jamestown fell apart, into starvation, slavery and massacre.  His was the perfect New World binary -- only White Men and Indians; he was untainted by the evil of slavery.  His New World was re-created again in Owen Wister's Virginian, who like Smith, was a natural aristocrat who possessed all the needful skills to survive and thrive, particularly that of effective violence.

I am almost finished watching the first season of Homicide: Life on the Street (1993). Most appealing to this watcher is Crosetti’s conspiracy cover-up obsession with Booth’s assassination of Lincoln.  In ep 7, "In the Rockets Dead Glare," he and his partner, Meldrick Lewis, go to D.C., where Crosetti insists on first stopping at a Chinese restaurant, which, it turns out, is in the building that used to be Mary Surrat's boarding house where many an anti-Union conspiracy was planned.  A secret service agent takes them to Ford’s Theater and shows them around the area, points out the Doctor’s house across the street where the unconscious, bleeding Lincoln was carried. Would this have as much meaning if I hadn’t listened this winter to Manhunt, the book about Booth, the conspiracies, the assassination, Booth's escape, the aftermath, and the hunt for him?  They are showing us in an entertaining and plausible way that Maryland's history is deep.

Homicide's Baltimore is larger and more varied than The Wire's Baltimore, less claustrophobic. It's the Baltimore which I got to know to some degree this year fairly well, thanks to local friend-guides.  It's a city, not a corner, not the dead-enders, despite it being all homicide all the time, even the homicide of a police dog.

What else is particularly interesting about this series, at least its first season, is that the bond among them all as police overides everything else, whether race, gender or class.  There is a single female detective, but she's the younger Melissa Leo -- 'nuff said?  They all smoke, but the struggle is beginning between those who are quitting / quit and those who aren't.  We are seeing demands by the non-smokers for segregated space in the office. 

Rooted in a place and a job of work, even though it wasn't Simon's show in the sense that he didn't produce, direct or write ( he 'merely' wrote  the book from which the show took its title -- and I read the book too around the time it came out), you can see how much this is still in place in Treme, with New Orleans and music in particular. 

The photo is of the plaque on the old fire department building that stood in for the Baltimore Police headquarters in Homicide, down at the waterfront, Fells Point, across from the big park that was the site for the Broadway open markets.  I took this shot at the beginning of December, 2010.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Treme (2011) second season, ep 5 / 15. “Slip Away.”

It will be interesting when Toni’s backstory is revealed, as perhaps that will illuminate some of the reasons she seems so isolated in a city where she was born and grew up, a city where families are in such close touch. Even Davis, for all his ranting about his bigoted and dysfunctional family, is close to his family. Is it possible that Toni grew up in bad old days of the Irish Channel?

I am starting to be in love with Janette this season. She’s such a plain, straight-ahead person, no pretense, no fronting with Janette. But there that buoyancy in her too, such as the fairy costume with cowboy boots on the first Mardi Gras after the Flood — which probably started this crush — everything looks better with cowboy boots — throwing the Sazerac into Richman’s face and, in this episode dancing a cocktail napkin to do her solitary second line in the Blue Note. Then, there is her chef’s passion for great food.

As for Sonny: No dialog, no transition, other than everybody subbing, like they do. Sonny’s moved up from busking to cover band Soul Apostles. Yes, a cover band, but it's not playing on the street.  Sonny seems to be admitting his limitations, as maybe Davis is starting to see his.  But Sonny hasn’t given up wanting to play, and playing music, despite his self-destructive steps, so easy to make in New Orleans now or any time. He's a foreigner in a city of great musicians, whose musical relationships and relationship with the city go back generations. You gotta respect that.

Why are the so-called critics blathering about the short beats and cuts of these scenes? By their own admission, they don’t have a musical sensibility, so they are missing all the compositional connections between the cuts. Going between the Blue Note in NYC to the poetry slam in New Orleans? Perfect (not to mention its an amigo’s kid who is the first one we see on stage).  It's not choppy, jumpy or skittery.  It's like a well-rehearsed band: time for this instrument, the horns lay out, but then they come back, everyone cools down for the vocalist to do a solo, and so on.  This maybe was my favorite of all the scenes in this episode.  But then, I have had many a fine time in the Blue Note.  What I want to know though, is: who did Janette know that she could get a seat at the bar?  It's always so crowded at the bar I've never gotten to sit there, no matter whose guest list I was on!  Yes, I know it’s cheaper at the bar, but still, I never get a seat there.

This was a wonderful episode, written by a woman, who is, it turns out, on da List.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


My favorite factoid gathered out the little time I've been able to give into research this week for The American Slave Coast:

Most people likely know that staff for a hunt includes whippers-in -- 'whips' -- assistants to the huntsman. Their main job is to keep the pack together, "especially to prevent the hounds from straying or 'riotting', which term refers to the hunting of animals other than the hunted fox. To help them to control the pack, they carry hunting whips."

But, get this!  "The role of whipper-in in hunts has inspired parliamentary systems (including the Westminster System and the U.S. Congress) to use whip for a member who enforces party discipline and ensure the attendance of other members at important votes."

Can you possibly get more aristocratic than that?  Recall, ladies and gentlemen, that the first Fox Hunts were formed in England in the late 16th and 17th centuries to control the foxes predating upon the birds that belonged to the lords.  Already in the 17th century a Virginian aristo slave owner imported horses, hounds AND foxes to form the first packs here.  Both Jefferson and Washington had packs and rode to hounds when they could, as well as spending as much time at the race meets as they could, particularly Washington. 

Very likely here in the U.S.of those days the whippers-in were slaves.  And likely the huntsman was also, who often played the role of kennel man too.  The huntsman was the one with the horn, with which he communicates to hounds, followers and whippers in.

Postmamboism at work, thank you very much. El V was very proud of me uncovering this, but this kind of thing is very much what a reader and writer of fantasy would know.

That the political term 'whip' came from the hunt though, that I did not know!

Friday, May 20, 2011

*Shaka Zulu* All Singing, All Dancing, All Fighting, All Ten Hours

Shaka Zulu (1986) South African television 10 episode series, viewed online from netflix. I started watching this in 'the House' and concluded watching here on the nights after the day's bending, twisting, turning, etc. to put the Apt. back together left me wiped out.

The series follows the arc of this leader’s life, which is that of the Cambellian ‘hero’s journey,’ similar to entertainment portrayals of King Arthur and Genghis Khan, among others -- even Roots (1977), which is founded in all kinds of mendacity, even plagerism -- complete with magical weapons, prophecies of future greatness for self and the kingdom, occult and magical influences, spells and curses, formative mothers, hidden fathers – and here we have the Asian-Greek commonality of killing the father.  Have we noticed the score? Why, yes, for there is no time the score is not overwhelming.  It is all dancing all singing all fighting or all three at once all the time, all of which need to be scored. Soaring South African voices, gorgeous drumming, and some of the dumbest lyrics this side of "We Are the World."

We have a cornucopia of bare black bodies, naked breasts and buttocks. No episode is complete without barbaric African brutalities committed by and upon each other. There’s an endless supply of gorgeous costumes of fur and feathers and beads.

What we don’t see is who provides the massive amounts of feathers, furs and beads. who works them into headresses, robes, sleep skins, clothes of all these soldiers and nobility. Who teaches all these musicians how to drum, how to dance, what to sing, when and where? What is the economy of this kingdom? Who farms, when do they farm? Is this a kingdom that lives entirely by conquest, with the invaders the nobility, and the conquered their slaves doing all the work of provision and services? The children? In this series the impression is that the Zulu nation does nothing but praise dance and sing to Shaka, dress extravagantly, commit atrocities on each other, and go to war. There is no trade, herding, agriculture or hunting.

All this war is accelerated and enabled by English gentlemen, who manage to bring Shaka down, via Jesus (King of Kings -- Messiah, Immortal) and the Bible -- and hair dye! (African male vanity, don't you know.) Among the English are the superiorly educated (the doctor and the linguist) and a warrior as fierce in obession as Shaka (the English officer).

It is entertainment on the extravagant scale of Cecil B. DeMille spectacle.  In terms of history and culture, though, with the slightest of reflection, we feel we missed something. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Libraries Are Part of Home Too

What wealth there is in a home that includes the New York Public Library system.

The condition that my back's in from the last few days of bending, twisting, turning, hauling, picking up, etc. for moving and unpacking mandated that today I not do these things. So off I subwayed to the Fifth Ave. Humanities Research Library, a/k/a now the Schwarzman Building, to pick up the materials I'd requested on the U.S. history, frontier, violence and mythology. That means I'm really back here; I'm so grateful to have this 'favored' status in which I can actually take home materials from the non-circulating libraries. This is an innovation that has just come in, to help serve better qualified scholars and researchers.

But the poor library system is being choked of sustenance. They are begging for funds and every kind of support anyone and everyone can provide. These are the situations in which I feel angry that I am not rich. If I were rich, I could give them funds. I would mandate those funds could be used for nothing except salaries for librarians and materials -- the two things that nobody wants to donate funds to provide.  They want something they can put their name on.

Friday, May 13, 2011

HBO Renews *Treme* for Third Season

Excellent news.

You can read more many places, but here ya go, with the B'more Sun.

We have eaten dinner at home, initiating another resumption of Our Real Lives in our Real Home, which has been indeed our Real Home, for more decades than most of the people strutting these streets have been alive.  OTOH, when we arrived there were many who felt the same way about us.

Settling In, Back Home

We forgot the eggs and the big air tight container of cheeses on the House counter. We had loaded the frozen foods and were ready to roll, just about to do the kitchen idiot check, when M showed up to say goodbye and chatchatchat -- but we had frozen foods in the cooler, and we needed to get through the Holland Tunnel and to our block by 5 or else we'd never find a parking spot by our place -- the alternate side of the street parking turns over then, and if you get a good spot it's yours through the weekend. So we lost our focus and forgot to make the idiot check of the kitchen! We e-mailed M that when he comes to put the trash barrel back in the yard tonight he’s better do something about the eggs and the cheese. Since that was the worst that happened, that ain't bad! If we were to forget something, much better the eggs and cheese, than the local Chesapeake shrimp! Gads they are superior to that farmed stuff which is what is mostly available up here, no matter how expensive the restaurant.

Ned unpacked the car and got everything up into the apartment in about 30 – 40 minutes (I stayed with the car – this is NYC – you don’t leave a car filled with stuff unattended, no matter what – and because of my back he was determined I not carry anything.) In two hours we got most things that are going to be unpacked, unpacked. We went out and ate burritos.

Now what? Little by little, continue the culling, the repairing and re-arranging. We will try and get the new online router today – ours is about 6 years old now, and needs to be upgraded. Also, one stack of boxes goes to hisw CUNY Grad Center office, and another to Storage. I pick up the books the NYPL Humanties has pulled for my solo book project -- as opposed to our co-written The American Slave Coast. So far for May, we've got three barbeque invitations (one of them in Baltimore), a friend's book publication party and another friend's reading and signing.

But, woo, it's loud here. And Young. And WEALTHY. Only the last of three has C'town, which attracts the retirees, while the C’town youth leave until middle-age, when they come back to care for their parents and the property, and then stay, but mostly people don't rock their wealth on their clothes or with their bodies. Land, and more land, and what their houses and gardens and fields show, on maintaining their political power and water power. I rather wonder what things would look like down there if all agricultural subsidies were abolished. One has suspicions that things around there would come to look much like they did after abolition, and until around WWII. So much of Maryland's prosperity these days comes from its proximity to D.C. Yes, family ‘farms,’ but these farms are enormous. The Upper Chesapeakers always did speak of their plantations as their ‘farms,’ from the mid-eighteenth century on, and these include both Washington and Jefferson.

C'town, it was like living in fairyland or Never-Never. Now it’s only in the rear-view mirror.

So far today I've done 3 1/2 hours of clearing and cleaning, organizing and re-arranging.  Now I quit for the Back is screaming in agony.  With days more of this to do, pacing is all.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Revising History of the Civil War and Slavery Yet Again

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, the movie coming out next year from that admitted by author, "cynically commercially conceived" mashup novel, professes the Southern slave trade was created by vampires. This is why citizens of this country don't know our own history, because we get it from movies like RR's travesty, The Conspirator.

Tim Burton, part of the production team for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, says:

Mr. Burton said he was instantly captivated by the book’s premise, though he had never been a serious student of the country’s heritage. “I didn’t really learn much, but I like that idea of history being told this way,” he said, speaking last week from London, where he is getting ready to start shooting another vampire movie, the entirely fictional “Dark Shadows.”

The “Vampire Hunter” film, like the book, follows Lincoln from his boyhood on the frontier through his assassination by John Wilkes Booth and — because this is a vampire story — beyond. Young Lincoln, having learned that his grandfather and mother were killed by vampires, vows to kill every last blood-sucker in a country that is crawling with them.

On realizing that vampires are tangled in the slave trade, Lincoln’s resolve grows and takes on a moral dimension. To complicate matters he also learns that the creatures come in two varieties, good and bad.

U.S.: the Worst Country to Visit

This morning at the airport, one of our Muñequitos de Matanzas amigos just got busted.

This weekend the group concluded this magnificently successful US. tour with two shows, workshops and etc in NYC (el V cleverly managed to bring up our first load of moving things this weekend to attend!).  They are first Cuban band to tour the U.S. since bushtoo dis-allowed Cuban artists into the U.S. and disallowed U.S. artists to go to Cuba in 2003. N got busted for having a knife in his checked luggage at the airport, a knife you can buy at the counters of liquor stores right here in C'town. But these knives are illegal in NYC. But if you don't live in NYC you don't know that. I don't know that -- but I quit carrying my Swiss Army Knife because it set off alarms everywhere and I tend to visit City buildings regularly, like the court building.

M S Bell got busted walking along Central Park last winter for having one of these – he too, of course, lives in Maryland, where the knives are legal to own and carry on your person. It was sticking out of his pocket, from a chain hooked to his belt. Plainclothes cops tackled him out of nowhere, he fought back so he also got busted for resisting arrest.

So N currently is in Queens lockup. We’re looking for a lawyer. What are they going to do? Deport him? As mi herman cubana says, “The United State is so different since the last time we are here. It is a scary place and no fun. It assaults your dignity relentlessly.”
They are very anxious to get back to Cuba where they have civil rights and are treated with human dignity.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Neither Here Nor There

An existence suspended.

Hand delivered notes, thanking me for yesterday's gathering of the Ladies.

Phone calls and e-mails from that other existence I will soon resume.

Most pressing current concern: When should I change the Netflix address?

The climbing rose outside the south kitchen door has bloomed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fly Like an Eagle

The rain had quit, and the sun was finally coming out of this damned cold day.  I caught sight of an enormous wing span against the blueing sky, the sunlight caught in the pinions, and sure enough, there, gliding above Queen Street, a baldie.  There wasn't a chance of mistaking that winged silhouette for thouse of the ubiquitous buzzards. 

Early mornings are one of the times of day that the backyards are at their most lively -- not just down here, but anywhere, surely, there are backyards, or fields plus trees and all the rest of what birds like.

In my backyard the birds -- so many different kinds of birds -- are complaining at the tops of their voices, because they've spied the food I scattered around the yard about an hour ago, but they've also spied Cleo, who thinks she's invisible between two bushes, as she cleverly waits for a bird to fly down for her claws. I've seen her attempts several times, yet I've never seen her have a success. She seems remarkably slow and clumsy for a cat. Maybe she doesn't see so well? In any case, she's fed by the Ladies on the block, who have concern meetings about her when she's not been seen for a few days, who have even gone searching for her during one of her desertions of Queen Street.

I call it Kitchen Window TeeVee. I watch as I prep some ingredients for the Mediterranean Shrimp Cous-Cous I'm going to serve this afternoon.
According to the Ladies, for whom I'm preparing this shrimp, Cleo would prefer to die than enter the house of anyone. She is willing to sit on your porch in the sun and eat what you put out for her, and when it's winter, sleep in the warm shelters you provide. But that's as far as she's going, no thank you, not very much.

In a while el V's taking off for NYC with a load of what we need to take back home.  He'll hang out with Los Muñequitos, who are there, as the last stop on their first U.S. tour in 9 years -- we saw them in D.C. two weekends ago.  When he returns we pack up the car again, for Thursday's final run between here and home.  The Eastern Shore Adventure is nearly over.  I'm going to miss the backyard, with the flowers, the birds, cats, foxes, extremely.

OTOH -- New York, home, ye olde Friends, and New Ones we don't know yet!  The new friends here will come and visit! No need for a car!  I will be independently mobile again, yay!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The House in New Orlreans

Some of the people who put on Barcelona's annual Jazz Festival are in New Orleans for the first time, for New Orleans's current Jazz Fest. These are friends as well as colleagues.
Last night they called to say they were sorry they'd left TWTMNO and TYBTF back in Barcelona, but they'd run out of baggage room and weight, so they did. Now that they are on the ground and experiencing New Orleans for themselves -- loving it, hey, NO still charms, ensorcels and bespells -- they are crazy to see some of the places described in the books, particularly the house we lived in while there, which plays such a role in TYBTF. They asked for the address and directions, because, they said, "We are going there to put up a symbolic plaque honoring you for bringing such understanding to New Orleans, its culture and its music."

We said, "Um, probably not a good idea. The owner probably would shoot you."

We're starting to pack up the first load of things to take back to NYC, when el V goes tomorrow. I seem have gotten sick. I have the party for the neighbors and other of the Ladies who became friends here tomorrow to get ready for too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

HBO *Treme* - season 2, Ep. 2 / 12 "Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky"

I've been re-watching season 1 on dvd, which intersects now with watching season 2, one episode per week.

As we so often do, when speaking of history and New Orleans, we talk of how history and time works there differently than in the 'American' cities further north.  Because New Orleans was founded by European Catholics from France and Spain instead of Protestants from England (and Germany) in New England and the southern lower 13, it is the northernmost outpost in the New World of the feasts and saints cultures.  Time rolls on the wheels of saints days and feasts -- thus Mardi Gras in New Orleans but not Mardi Gras in Boston.  It's cyclic, not arrow time.  What goes around comes around.  What happens in New Orleans keeps happening; past and preset are simultaneous, which is the form of the future -- "Mardi Gras comin' baby!" is shouted out in the New Orleans streets as soon as the present Fat Tuesday rolls away.

I feel this time experience intensely since Season 2 of Treme began because I am having seasons 1 and 2 simultaneously.  I feel Creighton's encroaching depression and despair  -- no, that's Sofia's -- yet its Creighton's too, in his absence.  Sewing the Indian suits, we already had our suits and Mardi Gras ... no, no, no, this is for Mardi Gras when the wheel turns again ... but Big Chief Lambreaux is not sewing so much.  Like Sofia, he is feeling all the weight of what, of who, is not there, of what is by deliberate power-politicing economic policy being kept away from him, from his community, from his city.

"Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky" was Thanksgiving, after Mardi Gras, that first Mardi Gras after the Terror of the Levees' Failur, that Mardi Gras, which was in season 1.  Creighton was still alive then.  It was safer in New Orlkeans than it had ever been in ever so long. Now, the crime is back, but I keep flashing back to when the streets were relatively safe, just as I do now, when in New rleans itself, as I kept flashing to when the streets were not safe, back when they were.  Just like the Terror of the Levees' Failure, every terror keeps carrying on.  Just as the glory of the music in its endless roll of great musicians, known and unknown, keeps going on. 

I dream of of the past and present of our own New Orleans’s experiences, and the past and the present of the New Orleans and people of Simon’s Treme.  This is like nothing that has ever been done on television before.


Toni and Sofia broke my heart on Thanksgiving, alone, in the nice restaurant.  Toni grew up in New Orleans.  Where is her family?  Davis, who insists he doesn't like his family, he's with them and Annie. Toni is persistant in helping so many resolve their issues of missing family members. My curiosity about Toni’s backstory has become great.

Big Chief’s Thanksgiving though, despite everything — he’s surrounded by family and friends.

Janette, in shivery New York City, robbed right out of her wallet by the man she was sleeping with, while roommates -- at her age! -- are watching the Macy's annual Thanksgiving parade on television, oh baby ....  Maybe she may as well be back in New Orleans.  Recall, back in season 1, last ep, when Davis is persuading Janette not to leave NO, he says something like, "Stupid Macy's Thanksgiving Parade of balloons instead of a spontaneous second line." 
Some suggest that Davis may be one who gets killed during this period when the creeps come back. But Davis is the Trickster. He is likely safe. Still, he’s so in love with Annie — and his mother!!!!!!!! even likes Annie. He’s vulnerable, now he’s got something to lose.

LaDonna though -- is it the actress getting more twitchy in her grimacing and gestures, or is it the character?

Monday, May 2, 2011


Good information, or at least as good information as people like us will get, on this operation can be found from Jeremy Scahill, here.

I'm not dancing the streets and howling because Usama bin Laden has been ‘got.’ What it’s doing is bringing back vividly what he wrought upon our lives, from one moment to the next. Our lives in every way as we had been living them – economically, culturally, politically – were destroyed the moment those planes hit the Towers. We’ve had to re-invent everything from scratch. The only thing that stayed the same was our apartment’s address.

Thus it may be understandable what my attitude is toward the people howling U.S.A. in the streets, drunk, wrapped in flags. Neither 9/11 nor the execution of Usama bin Laden are manufactured teevee reality competitions. So many people -- even beyond the immediate victims in the Towers and the planes -- have suffered and died because of this, had their lives forever destroyed. The consequences have been ugly and destructive to this nation as a whole, to its civil liberties, its cultural and intellectual capacities. What has been manufactured, is the use of these events to accelerate the most enormous economic pilferage of the public sector, the greatest transfer of all wealth from everyone else to the smallest, most wealthy class. It has been used to destroy what was good about this nation. A national chant of U.S.A will not change this terrible reality.