". . . 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, December 12, 2015

End of Year Holiday Season Weekends in the Neighborhood 2015

Today, the climate-change way above normal temperature in the 60's has people sitting outside again while drinking their coffee, eating their weekend brunch, and talking with their companions.

I am hearing discussions and explanations up and down the sidewalks as one person in the duet or the group attempts to explain what the Second Amendment is really about, how the NRA has played the history of guns and racism and slavery for decades to achieve such power with extremists of all kinds in this nation, including the police.  These discussions and explanations are couched in the same terms as we explain them in The American Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, that puts the history of slavery and violence front and center in the history of the U.S. from the earliest colonial era through 1865.

We were not hearing this, reading this everywhere even after the Sandy Hook massacre that took place three years ago this month, or even last year after, o, say, which mass gun murder should we randomly grab from 2014? how about May 23, 2014 -- a killer left 6 dead, 7 wounded in Isla Vista, California. We heard about this terrorist because he targeted white, middle-class sorority women (though of course there is no relationship between a man's hatred and resentment of women and his sense of entitlement and gun violence against women, o no! so this cannot be terrorism -- ask any NRA philosopher).

Scrolling through the mass murders in the database linked to above, many -- most -- of them, never made the mass media. These mass shootings are so common there has to be some very specific hook for the national media to even report. Yet, by now, with this many going on every day, and some days more than one, we can't see this as terrorism, aided, abetted by the gun industry and other political and financial agendas at work in the U.S.

People are talking about this now, and particularly in terms of racism and #blacklivesmatter.  But how many black lives were taken by random terrorists like George Zimmerman and police across the nation, before the media would even begin to notice this connection?  It took a massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, in the basement of a black church, of all black victims by a self-declared white racist who self-declared he wanted a race war, for the media to even touch on these ideas.

But today, on the sidewalks of my neighborhood as climate change manifests, where so much of it has been despoiled literally by the demagogue who would be POTUS, people are talking about this.

Beyond that, there is this also in my neighborhood today:

Around the St. Anthony's of Padua Church are a group of women singing carols, beautifully acapela.  They are doing this to raise money from passers-by for City-Food.  They have dressed their small, cute dogs in Christmas finery and brought them along.  The dogs are enjoying the outing with each other and greeting all the other dogs passing by.  Their barks fit nicely somehow with their persons' voices soaring into "Glory to God, In the Highest Heaven."  The temperatures say it's spring but the sky and slant of light still inform us it's December.

I dropped a five into their donation bucket. Then I stood there listening, looking up at the winter sky. I have an anti-singing voice, but I know these carols -- they were my first music -- all the verses.  I sang them thousands of times growing up. I sing along -- well, really, more mouthing along in respect for these real singers. Yet I am soaring too, up up ever up into the rapidly darkening sky.  I realize more and more people have stopped.  They are singing too.

So I go on my way, which as usual in this season includes paying my respects several times a day to the creche St. Anthony's puts up  on the Houston Street side every year.

As well, there's a vendors market all along Houston, including vendors set up in front the creche.  Passerby are stopping, many of them buying.  Beautiful wares, including blankets and scarves made by the Peruvians of alpaca wool in jewel-tone colors. I want one so much.  And maybe, if we were having a real winter, I might have broken down and bought one.  I may still do so, since at some point there's going to be a repeat of the last two very cold, endless winters.

Everywhere colored lights twinkle among swags of greenery.  Today's also that hideous commercial spew called Santa Fest, in which college students from everywhere come to NYC to drink cheap in a succession of bars all day and night. But they've created so much havoc in past years that many bars have refused to participate -- almost all the bars in our neighborhood among them.  So it's pleasant to see people in Santa and elf costumes because they aren't drunk and screaming.

So that's how the holidays are behaving in my neighborhood today.

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