". . . 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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thumbs, Snow, Cuba and Turks

     . . . . A day that was essentially thumb twiddling.  Neither here nor there.  Trapped inside by the blizzard, er, excuse me, the bomb cyclone. 

Downloaded as e-books two works from the NYPL to the little computer. One of them is Jack E. Davis's, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea, winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction.  One can hardly think of a better book to be reading in Cuba. 

The download is on my hard drive, not in the cloud, so I don't need wifi to access the content once downloaded. 

The download reading app from the NYP works very well and is easy on the eyes -- and, of course, one can change the size of the type. What is particularly nice is that all the front matter, toc, illustrations, citations and index are part of the download. Moreover, lighting for reading in the Cuban rooms is always inadequate, this should work out well. Not that there will be time to read, but it may well be I elect to stay in some nights while the others continue to yet more music events. And then the coming home will have a lot of down time. The little computer is much more wieldy for airports and plane seats than the big one. 

Washington Square Park. I didn't take this photo.

     . . . . As predicted, the snow stopped about 4 - 4:30 PM. Central Park reports a bit more than 7 inches. It looks about that much around here too. It was a comfy temperatures in here all day. But soon the temps are predicted to plunge -- down to 9°. That is what I'm to go out in at 5 AM to get to the airport tomorrow -- and not wearing my fur coat, etc. because I can't carry that thing around with me for days and days, and there's no room for it, of course, in the luggage. I will be wearing boots though, and had always planned to. 

For one thing, this huge a$$ snow storm and the freezing temperatures that have brought snow even to Florida is affecting the Atlantic side of Cuba too. It's cold in Havana now -- in the 60's, and getting into the 50's tonight. Tomorrow will be the same. Speaking from experience, 50's and 60's on the island when the sun is down is uncomfortably chilly and clammy. Sleeping can be downright difficult.

So the Qubes are in an end-of-the-world state. Nor do they have the wardrobe to counter it. Going to the airport I'm wearing a  cashmere sweater over a thermal shirt and t-shirt under my rain jacket, and taking the long and wide cashmere wrap - scarf. These all fold up small and comfortably go in the carry-on bag, with my umbrella and fans. (Prepared for chilly, and for rain, and for hot!) 

For the Travelers who did get out of the US and into Cuba today (the non-JFK fliers, even though R, coming out of New Orleans, was delayed because they had to de-ice the plane -- but everything was delayed anyway), will think it is lovely. Particularly L, who came from Bloomington, IN, where the temps are and have been in the range of 12°, and she's already gotten a lot of snow, with more predicted for the weekend. The planned events are going on without us. 

But tomorrow's got to be re-arranged, since it included a small official arts and education 'do' in recognition of the work the Postmambo seminars are accomplishing.  Without el V there, who is Postmambo Studies, there is no point.  We'll still be flying when it was scheduled.  Hopefully, we'll have gotten out and are flying then . . . .

     . . . . So now there's nothing to do except watch episode 9 of Resurrection: Ertugrul, and hope that before I leave him behind for Cuba, he'll get free of those eviLe orcs nazis Mongols, rejoin Halime, and defeat the treacherous shenanigans going on in the Dodurgas, the host tribe with whom his Kayis have taken refuge, because their Bey, Korkut, is Hayme Hatun's brother.  But his new, second wife, she feels only rivalry and resentment toward all the Kayis, and particularly the close relatives of her huband, Korkut Bey.

Hayme Hatun

At least Ertugrul's mother, Hayme Hatun, is still living, though she isn't as strong as she was, after a life of long travails and ordeals, filled with many losses of lands, security, family and friends, most lately her beloved husband.  The actress who is filling this role is brilliant.  I've never seen anything like what she did when her character hear the news that her beloved son, Ertugrul, upon not only her personal hopes and dreams are pinned, but upon whom the entire fate of her husband's nomad tent, the Kayis' is built.  We watch her struggle against herself, to not allow herself to give into grief, fear and sorrow and wild weeping, and just giving up.  This is not an histrionic scene -- that's what makes it is so powerful.  She fights a battle as awful as any of the alps has ever fought, to not be histrionic, hysterical, to show a strong figure of calm leadership to the remnant of her husband's tribe in this terrible time of loss and grief. 

One cannot watch a great contrast in acting capacity than this actress and the one who plays her daughter-in-law, Halime Hatun, who has two expressions from which to choose for any emotion: blank or constipated.  She does have the ability to have a single tear roll fetchingly from one of her gazelle eyes and down her cheek.

Thank goodness, the actor who plays Ertugrul is good and has grown into his character as the series continues.

Hayem Ana Hatun's mausoleum.  Hayme Hatun, also known as Hayme Ana, was the grandmother of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire and the mother of Ertuğrul Gazi, the leader of the Kayı clan of the Oghuz Turks.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


 . . . . About an hour ago el V says, "Let's go and go to Lupe's and have burritos. But first send me your itinerary so I can tell B when to pick you up at JFK on your return." 

I sit down at the computer where I have not been all day as I was out shopping for the Cubans and to get me supplies laid in for when I arrive, such as the box milk that can stay on the shelf, so I don't have to race out the night of the 14th or the morning of the 15th. And who knows what the weather will be? 

Inbox immediately gets New Mail, and it's JetBlue with a big CANCELED in the subject line. 

We are all packed. I did all the packing on Monday and Tuesday! I felt so free and pleased! And the idea of missing this weather mess thrilled me no end.

Now what? 

We've been on hold with JetBlue ever since the message arrived and the web site seems to have gone dysfunctional.

Ah, he just got picked up by a real person -- rebooking for Friday now.  O lordessa, this is taking forever as it is a lot of people he has to rebook.

O dear.  I will miss the La Tropical show and the viewing of Havana over a tropical drink while in the Hotel Nacional's garden -- one of my favorite places.

So, I am making burritos at home while el V wrangles all the east coast travelers' new bookings.

Also had to go out to get supplies, including milk for tomorrow, as we were leaving so early tomorrow, straight into the car service and planned to have breakfast at JFK. The stores are packed with people getting ready for the storm. I got some of the last milk -- certainly the last non-fat milk still on the shelf. Maybe they have more in the basement.

Ah -- the rice is cooked. The tortillas, which I had put in the freezer, naturally, are nearly unthawed.

UPDATES:  Indeed, rebooked, but -- rebooked all over the place. Some of us going straight from JFK to Jose Marti. Others to Fort Lauderdale first. But Ned's got their visas. 

One traveler isn't getting a flight until Saturday! We were supposed to be on the road by then, out of Havana.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Winter Cyclone Bomb And We Travel

     . . . .   Seems this is rolling in for our travel day from JFK to Havana.  (Washington Post paywall is the link). Here's the twitter url --

This "bomb cyclone" will clobber from the Gulf and up the Atlantic Coast to New England and beyond.  Some are calling it a winter hurricane.

It will be hitting here -- if it does -- the morning we leave for Cuba.  At the moment it looks as though the big stuff will arrive after we're scheduled to take off.  But who knows?  It will be so strange if the people who arrive late when it is el V is running the Postmambo show.  But, here we are in post climate change collapse.  There are contingencies and people in place in case we are late arriving.  Of course, if we are late, so will be all the other travelers coming from this part of the US.

I spent all day packing the clothes. That's hard physical labor for someone with A Back. The toiletries tomorrow.  Back is screaming and I am more than cranky.

What makes it far more difficult is that I know from past experience that this intense cold here on the Atlantic Coast will make Havana very uncomfortable -- one can get very cold in these conditions in an environment built for very hot weather and not for cold at all.  This means carrying a few more clothes than one wanted or expected to.  But after two days -- during what may well be this cold front for western Cuba, we leave for Central Cuba.  We will be in very hot weather again, in a short time as we turn to the south coast, which is the Caribbean coast.  So one needs a lot of different clothes.  This packing anxiety I have -- it isn't at all about vanity.  It's about clothes for too cold and too hot in the same damned place.  Anyone who thinks packing for this is easy -- and I'm gone for 12 days, so to speak -- should have lived through this already.  I have.  I know.

No wonder I hate traveling.  One never knows any longer, in any season, any part of the year, anywhere, what will happen.  Not to mention the transportation corporations not giving a single shyte.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Has Arrived + Super Moon + Resurrection: Ertugrul, Season 2

     . . . . There is no exclamation at the end of the subject line of this, the first post of the New Year.  This communicates a whole lot about how I am feeling about not only 2018, but all the future.

But nevermind! As, nevertheless, we were able to see out the old year, to which I never became accustomed, and bring in the new, in the midst of the other guests at one of the best New Year's Eves in memory.  It was the perfect blend of people, including a most welcome layer of French folks, who added delightful insights, continental flirts -- such language -- ooo la la -- as well as some French wine, cheese and other delicacies smuggled in their luggage for the occasion.

The Empire State Building is still the empress of the Manhattan skyline!

Our hostess's penthouse apartment has these enormous weather-proof windows in every room, providing a splendid four-directional view of Manhattan's light dancing high rises at midnight (the lighted upper reaches of these buildings changed colors in a glorious display via these new-fangled digital apps, that these days can be controlled now by the building's operator via his iphone).  I dreamed about the lighted buildings dancing together all night long.  Or, well, at least the amount of night was left when we got to bed. When I woke up kept thinking about the party and appreciating it all more.  Which doesn't always happen with parties in general and New Year's parties particularly!

Bryant Park Fountain -- I did not take this photo! It's from Time Out Magazine.

And, of course, 2018 was ushered in for several days already by this huge blaze of deep freezing cold that blanked so much of the East Coast, New England, the Midwest and the whole northern expanse of the country.  Some Say that this cold may last as long as three weeks in many places, and in many places include snow storms.  I do know that for where we live this cold is expected to remain until about the middle of next week. 

Cienfuegos,  a/k/a la Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South) ,one of the places we'll be stopping.  It's one of Cuba's prettiest cities, and has, seen here, its own very pretty Malecon.  Not everywhere we are going is this charming, but all of them will be equally deep culturally.  The Cienfuegos area was originally settled by Tainos.  I think . . . Cienfuegos is going to be the highlight for me of this Central Cuba trip.

This freezing cold provides a lot of incentive to begin packing today for Havana and the exploration of Central Cuba, for whereh we depart early Thursday. Daytime temperatures are generally going to be in the 80's (cooler after dark). 

Currently, however, I am wrapped, swathed and layered in wool and cashmere, from feet to neck.  Even with the heat going full blast in here, it remains cold.

I must be doing something right, having enjoyed such friends last night and today packing for a warmer clime, though darned if I know what I could have done right to be this fortunate.  I wish our country was as fortunate as I am.

Also -- tonight's a Super Moon.

Huevos rancheros -- yah, I go make some now!  

Ertugrul often talks to his horse.  Alas, in season two, his horse (her name begins At --- but I can never catch all of it) is now talked to by the grief-prostrated, pregnant Halime, whom due to the jealous, scheming betrayers of Ertugrul's uncle's nomad tent, with whom the survivors of the Kayi nomad tend have taken refuge, believes her husband is dead.

Guess which one is the Hero Ertugrul and which one is the orc Mongol.

Next I'mma gonna make some more hot herbal tea, wrap up some more, put up the feets for a bit and watch another episode of season two, Resurrection: Ertugrul, that incredible, endless Turkish series of the 13th century origins of the Osmans and the Ottoman Turks.  Much of this is an historical fictional retelling and even invention of mythological origins of the Osmans, which makes it all the more interesting in some ways.  There is a great deal of actual history in this series, in terms of certain geo-political actions and events.  But Ertugrul's tale is likely far more mythology and fiction than history.

This 02/09/2015 article from the Asian Affairs Journal / Weblog provides an excellent background - overview to this series, which began in 2015, and by now is in its 4th season, I believe.

Whichever season though, Ertugrul is outnumbered, outspent and out schemed by the cruel, dishonest and dishonorable enemies.  The Big Bad of Season 1 was the leaders of the local Knights Templar fortress.  In season two it's the cruel, dishonest and dishonorable Mongols, who had already forced Ertugrul's Kayi nomad tent to leave Central Asia due to their blood thirsty ways, and now are threatening them and all Islam in this region.

Halime Hatun and Ertugrul.

Whichever, an historical hero or a mythical one -- Ertugrul just can't catch a break.  He at least was able to finally marry his adored Gazelle Eyes, Halime, at the conclusion of the first season.  But in the very first episode, his Kayi tribe's nomad tent is destroyed by Mongols, along with all their possessions and wealth, and many of their people, particularly the women and children are slaughtered.  And he was away from the tribe when this happens, getting ambushed by the Mongols, and finally defeated and captured, because he was the only one of his small group they wanted alive. 

This is because the Mongol Noya (general) has planned to or has been ordered to (I couldn't quite follow this) co-opt Ertugrul's loyalty and warrior talent for the sake of the sons of Genghis and their campaign of  conquest of Anatolia and all Turks wherever they may be (and everyone else too, of course).  Moreover, we learn that Ertugrul's older brother who we were told all through the 76 episodes of season one had been ambushed and killed by a Mongolian raid -- is alive-O! and has been fighting for the Mongols all these years. The price of his refusal is the horrible, prolonged deaths of his wife, Halime Hatun and all the remaining members of his family.

This has all been a grand Mongolian strategy for easy conquest of Anatolia, from the destruction of the Kayis's nomad tent, to the capture of Ertugrul, to the corruption of members of Ertugrul's mother's brother's tribe.  We learn all this very quickly at the very beginning of season 2.

There are betrayals and treason everywhere for Ertugrul, his Hero Alps, his family and his nomad tribe -- not to mention horrendous torture. These are nazis Mongols after all. 

It's going to take 79 episodes to learn what happens, and I've only watched six.  This will help take care of 2018, one would think.