". . . 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

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Party Couldn't Have Been Better

   The weather had changed drastically from Friday's so hot-and-humid-all-day-and-night at some point, with a bit of rainfall and temperature dropping into the 60's. So it stayed cool and damp of yesterday and last night and still is, at least at the moment, about noon on Sunday. This was not what They Said it was to be, of course. 

However, though it was misty and cool, while we were ate, talked, sang and danced on the West Village rooftop, it never actually rained until right at the moment el V and I got out of the cab coming home -- and then it poured. But not a thunderstorm. 

The attendees were just as wonderful as on the bus and hotels and restaurants and music events in Cuba, back in January. Even more so, maybe. One way and another everybody who was on the January trip, wherever they live, managed to make it to the Birthday BBQ Reunion, with the exception of only three -- one from Atlanta, another from California and one from North Carolina. 

Just as in January, the party operated as an integrated group. People fell together in teams to help bring food up to the roof, to taken things back down to the kitchen and to clean up. The hosts, who had done so much work all week preparing for the party, at least didn't have to have clean-up. What so impressed me is there was no discussion about it.  People just Did It.

The people who are partnered, but whose spouses, fiancés, fiancées, boyfriend, girlfriend etc. weren't on the Cuba trip, brought them to the party. Guess what? Their spouses, etc. were just as interesting and cool as the Travelers themselves. 

Another way to put is this was a party of people who couldn't be more different than this (from the New York Observer).

I did have a lot of trouble hearing, but so did others -- who were getting over or suffering the same thing I am. But my coughing -- just about entirely gone - YAY!  So I had a wonderful time too.
Nor were the terrible events of the week ignored. That was another thing -- there wasn't a single person there who is a secret or semi-racist in any way. These are people whose outlook is international, cosmopolitan, compassionate, empathic, generous and kind.

As well they are very talented. For instance, several are in performance productions that are scheduled for Scotland's annual International Fringe Festival -- and are touring with their groups about the east coast in preparation for their heading over to Edinburgh in August. For another example, most of the musicians are playing a gig at Lincoln Center one night or week in August (all separate engagements).  A lot of us will be in attendance those nights.

One of my personal favorites among the guests is someone I see often as G lives here (and knew him long before January 2016).  G's a lawyer who
 made so much money practicing corporate law he quit, mostly, keeping only a few very lucrative private clients.  He's passionate about Latin music, particularly Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa.

Currently he's in the process of getting a doctorate in the history of the Scottish Enlightenment. He's been taking classes so far via internet from the University in Edinburgh, and at Harvard. But next winter he's going to go live in Edinburgh for about 7 months and do f2f course work with tutor/advisors. We have such terrific conversations about history -- and last night about the 18th century philosophers, during which we said nice things about Hume, bad things about Kant, and were so-so about Berkeley. I had quite a few very bad things to say about John Locke and his personal contributions to theconstitution of the colony that became South Carolina. Except for Locke, the facts of the matter is that I myself really don't understand these guys. But G is so good at explaining and so passionate about them I sometimes think I do! G's honed legal mind is perfect for 18th C philosophers.

Times Square 1975.

Another of my personal favorite friends in the group is BL. H also lives here and I've known him and his wife, a brilliant public television documentary film maker, for many years by now. B reached out to us the year The World That  Made New Orleans was published, which became one of the Treme cast and crew's bibles. David Simon was just getting serious about making Treme at that point. B's the music director - supervisor for most of Simon's stuff since The Wire.  Now B's working on DS's new HBO series, The Deuce.  They've recreated the 1970's Time's Square uptown, and we're supposed to come and visit.  B said, "Once Deuce is finished you will be as educated into the sex industry as you got educated in the drug industry by the end of The Wire." He jhrugged, turned up hands and kind of laughed.  What can ya do?  It's David S!

So many other terrific conversations as well, including several with S, about various matters including and his intense experiences with whales and dolphins off the coast of California, from which trip he'd just returned. As per usual when S and I are together, at some point we talk about Foyle's War.

During the year when the cancer came back and nothing more could be done medically, and S's beloved, beloved wife A was dying, they watched Foyle's War. S still doesn't know why A fixated on that series through the haze of the heavy duty drugs. But that was all she wanted to watch, and he said, "She wanted it, she got it.  It was so little that I could do. I'd get in bed, hold her in my arms, and we watched Foyle's War.  For A, each re-watch was fresh and new." S still doesn't know if that was due to the drugs or the cancer itself.  But e
very time they finished up the 9 seasons she insisted they start all over from the first episode of the first season to the end, and then start all over again.
She died in February 2015. 

The Cuba trip a year later was what allowed him to come alive again, he says.He didn't have any idea this would happen.  It was just something to do to fill up his empty life. But it ended reconnecting him with life on so many levels, even as with every new person he met and and made friends with, he thought of just how much A would have loved it all herself.

But then, S is an awfully terrific, vital person himself.

I'd never had any interest in watching Foyle's War myself, until hearing him tell me about watching it with A while she was dying. And I still didn't. Nevertheless, after coming back from that January Cuba trip and S's and my conversations there, I watched Foyle's War myself, in solidarity with my new friend S and memorial to his A, who by all the many and varied obits of her, was a most wonderful, special and talented human being.

These are the kinds of friendships that get forged on el V's Cuba trips.

I feel so much better. I can't wait for the ears to clear up. I'm going back to an ENT person this week.

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