LINES OF THE DAY

". . . 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, January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King Day

   

   . . . .  Martin Luther King is weeping today, even though he is in heaven.

His mother, Alberta Christine Williams King, was assassinated, by a 23-year-old Black Hebrew Israelite six years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.




Thursday, January 13, 2022

Sunny, Warm Interregnum

      . . . . For the first time since sometime in December, when Omicron arrived, here is unaccustomed cheerfulness. The day began early, with stepping into the outdoors, into sun and warmth. Today's an interregnum after a stretch of below freezing days, and prior to the plunge into single digit temps for the weekend, plus a wind, snow, then rain storm into Monday and temperatures below freezing for the coming week.  

Dashed out wearing the respiratory N95 -- no fogged glasses! --  to TJ's, first thing, in hopes of an emptier store.  Late in the morning I danced out to the library, for another armload of mysteries, just in time for the freeze. Followed up with a big shopping at MW, this time el V with me for the carrying.  

Everybody is masked up, even on the street -- the tourists must have gone home. We've all been hunkering in self-imposed isolation, our sort of NYCers anyway, due to the Omicron forest fire, and the cold, so we're all running around today to stock up on more groceries, for the next week of  bunkering against the cold, and in the likely case of borked supply chains due to weather.  Today, though, anything one wants and needs are on the neatly stocked shelves. I do hear though, from the elderly in our building and others, what can be harder to get -- meaning, so far, only they've had to wait, are prescription medications.  As for groceries, I've been hearing our persent, local, good fortune isn't shared everywhere across the country.

They Are Saying that maybe Omicron's peaking here?  We should be so lucky, since before Christmas. everyday we were told of at least one more person we know down with it, or someone calling with the news, "Family member/s/me positive and / or down with it."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     . . . . People elsewhere are also in self-isolation. 



Tonight's the first Postmambo Movie Night of 2022; Postmamboists across the country are saying, "Thank God! We're going crazy shut-in."  Tonight's program is NOLA Reconnect/Postmambo's first one of 2022.




Presiding, via Zoom, is Dr. Elizabeth McAlister, author of Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora:



 

Funerary Rites in Haitian Vodou

Honoring Frisner Augustin, Legendary Priest of the Drum

. . . . The second January Postmambo Movie Night is Thursday, January 20, 8 p.m. Eastern. 

In honor of the Jack Kerouac centennial, Postmambo Movie Night presents Pull My Daisy (Robert Frank, 1959)."We'll talk to the film's composer, David Amram, who sat next to Kerouac in the studio as he improvised the voice-over narration. David is still gigging at the age of 91! We'll talk with him about his scores for The Manchurian Candidate and Splendor in the Grass, his friendship with Thelonius Monk, his visit to then-forbidden Cuba on the path-breaking 1977 "jazz cruise," and lots more."

Here are some, not all, of our recent NOLA Reconnect Sessions

Dec. 9: Richard Morse with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister

Nov. 11: Erol Josué with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister

Oct. 31: Jean-Daniel Lafontant live from Temple Na-Ri-Vèh on Fèt Gède

Oct. 31: C. Daniel Dawson

Oct. 14: Paul Beaubrun with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister

Sep. 13: A Conversation with Dr. Ivor Miller

Aug. 12: Rafael Delgadillo on 19th-century New Orleans

July 8: Gianluca Tramontana and Dr. Ben Lapidus on changüí

"Life Changing!" has become one of the most common responses to the Postmambo/NOLA Reconnect experiences, despite Zoom!

~~~~~~~~~~

P.S.  El V has become a convert to toast, via my sour dough bread discovery.  He wants toast with everything! 


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Ridiculous Dressing: Cheering Oneself Up During Weeks Colder than 17°

     . . . . I'm watching Beyond Ridiculous Clothes. Laughter is a warming activity!



Agatha Raisin's Christmas Murder Mystery. 

The protagonist's blindingly color blocked wardrobe could kill all by itself at 20 paces.





The Eyes of Tammy Bakker (2022). Chastain takes 18-20 Tammy in perky, cute, cheerleader 1960’s outfits all the through the increasingly ridiculous outfits Bakker sported as her talons grow ever long and more pointy, her make-up every thicker and more permanent, and her hair goes from natural to peroxided to what red wig piques her fancy that day – the Tammy Bakker everybody pictures when her name comes up.




Plus My Fair Lady, which is about Clothes you betcha, but over the top brilliant costume design, not ridiculous, well, not quite, not really.  After all, Audrey Hepburn's no Lily Collins (EIP) or Sarah Jessica Parker (AJLT), both of whom urge the viewer to bitch slap them with every moue, which is their idea of acting, in every beat, every scene.

     . . . . So, as is evident, the contest for Most Ridiculous Clothes On Television Today is more than competitive.  But we have ... a winner!  Two winners in fact, co-winners, all due to the efforts of just one man.

And Just Like That, sequel to Sex And the City, and Emily in Paris (skipped the first season, so I'm in ep. 4 of the second one).  They share the same inspiration and producer, Darren Star, queen of portraying women as more shallow than a dish drainer. 


Gosh these clothes are -- foolish, So are the characters, so it's all one thang. The best Emily in Paris character is the mixed Asian friend, Mindy, who busks with two fellas, as the vocalist. And is a Madame PeePee (yes, her job as the daughter of a supremely weathy father, is to take a teeny coin in return for handing a square of tp to the people entering the Toilet) at a Drag Queen Club.  She sure can sing though, if the actor is indeed the singer.  The only thing is in the show worth watching is Mindy singing. Yet the songs always take second place to whatever Mindy is wearing. The purpose of the songs is to give the half hour episodes more opportunities to show More Paris so no one has to strain the brain for much plot, character or doing anything at all -- just like Instagram, which is the real star and real concern of Emily in Paris.




     . . . . SATC -- Ep. 6.  These characters, even if they are not White, are just like the White Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte – so well off, so consumed with what we call First World Problems.  It’s not as though we see these new characters behavior as informed by their heritage. They have the same never enough status and privilege as their White counterparts, which of course they would, but isn’t there something more the show could show us? At Seema’s family’s Diwali party, we see only her family’s desire Seema marry a rich fellow and produce grandchildren, etc. and nothing cultural at all, except the saris – one of which Carrie wears in the same way she wears those silly tulle skirts we are still seeing little girls wear with their fairy wings in the street, unless the temps demand coats, even though Carrie's now in her mid-50’s, showing how she can pull out her edgy at will. 

The exception is the stand-up comic star-podcaster character, Che Diaz. Same as in their real life, Sara Ramirez plays a non-binary Afro-latino butch-bitch sort. Except this character are only about their sexuality, and anyway, we don’t see Che much now, except in Miranda’s fantasy replay sex life, and unanswered texts. As is often the case with White people, the point of the Other is my sexual fantasy.  The show just doesn’t do culture/people wrong, even its all-and-nothing-but-surface is wrong.

 Charlotte reacts like a Karen or something to Miranda’s outing of her Che sexcapade – "Are you a lesbian now or what?!?!!!!!!??????" The show -- and Charlotte, like Carrie and Miranda and the show itself, has written out memory of the episode in which Charlotte was partying hearty w/lesbians.*

This surface is neither fun nor interesting, since there's no evidence any of the character have learned anything since the glory days of the friendship, i.e. the 7 season of SATC, or during the last 15 years.  Moreover, its brittle depiction of the good life on the verge of snapping and splintering at any moment – quite as the USA YAY has done.

Worst of all, as with SATC, they appropriate downtown / SoHo. In AJLT, there's scene in the very costly sari shop here on West Broadway.  As per usual it’s weird to see this perspective on where I live. Totes consumerist vision for Carrie, etc., not at all mine Another big boulder of superficial in this episode, is that Carrie buys a millions of dollar coop "downtown. Even as she does so, she says, "I used to come downtown all the time, but I never thought I'd live here." Yet the show keeps making a huge deal out of Carrie wanting to cocoon her husband-bereft self back in her first apartment -- which, while show called its location "the Upper East Side," it is in reality a real brownstone in the West Village.  This is something even casual watchers of SATC know -- see: the endless convoys of tourist buses and tours on that block.  And truly the watchers of And Just Like That were anything but casual watchers of Sex and the City.

Not to mention the afternoon a SATC shoot shut down my entire block, forbidding me to leave my apartment building or re-enter it, because Somebody in the crew was standing there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Though to be honest, Audrey Hepburn no longer enchants me, but gets on my nerves. Which is neither here nor there, not now or then.

**
Eileen: Are you gay?

Charlotte: No, I'm not. But I do so enjoy the company of all these women. Everyone's so smart and funny. After spending too much time and attention on men......it feels like such a safe, warm environment. And while sexually, I feel that I am straight......there's a very powerful part of me that connects to the female spirit.

Eileen: Sweetheart, that's all very nice. But if you're not going to eat pussy, you're not a dyke.

                   -- Season 2, episode 6, "The Cheating Curve," Charlotte meets Lesbian                                 Chic

Saturday, January 8, 2022

New Year's 1987 CBGBs

 

     . . . . From Celia Noel, on twitter:


"That's me with Ned Sublette, Kenny Kosek and Jeff Myers at the iconic CBGB’s! #Flashback to New Year’s Eve 1987, what a night! ✨ 🎤 #Sandunga #CBGBs"



They played "Ghost Riders In the Sky" as the lead-up to the midnight count-down.  I take pride in suggesting that tune. It became a staple of the band.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Dark Ages On Three Kings Day

     . . . . Today is Three Kings Day, the day which begins the count down to Mardi Gras

In Roman Catholic countries, and here, in New Orleans, we eat King Cake.  We have some, from Mille Feuille, our local French bakery -- which makes all the very best of everything that it makes.  It feels all the more important to observe King's Day since, for a very long time, 01/6/21 will be thought of on this date, in the USA  

Mardi Gras's comin', BAAAAAAAAAABEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Doncha fergit it!

In the meantime, even in the Dark Ages, surely, at least in the monasteries, Three Kings Day a/ka/ Epiphany was observed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     . . . . A long time ago, 1938 in fact, Robert Graves, who made the Empress Livia live forever, thanks to his character of Emperor Claudius, the BBC, and actor Derek Jacobi, way back in 1972, published an historical novel of another age, a different Roman Empire, a newish religious era, titled Count Belisarius.



For newcomers to these names, Commander Belisarius is an historically lauded general of the 6th C -- 505 - 565. He was part of the times that historians have called Europe's "Dark Ages." This is the century that has been the favorite chronological location for Britain's King Arthur.

Looking through this so readable novel, it differs in so much from what the current historians of his time and actions I've been reading for the last ten years.  This was another effective military commander badly treated by a fearful, jealous Byzantine emperor. But even so, Graves seems to be wrong, deliberately or otherwise, about much of even the small, basic stuff we do know about the Commander.  For one thing, Graves has chosen, according to himself, to present this story as a Legend, a Romance in the mode of the Arthurian cycles as written in the Medieval period.  Partly that is due to Graves depending on Procopius as his major source -- as do all, of course, including respectable historians -- but Procopius is infamous for all the axes he grinds in his Secret History, his prejudices, his personal antagonisms, his conscious pay-back and sheer malicious joy in blackening reputations. Though he loved Belisarius, oooo how he hated the Empress Theodora!

Unlike Graves's two Claudian novels, which I've read several times, this is a first read of Count Belisarius. I'm starting to think  Gore Vidal's Julian (the Apostate) - 1964, and Robert Harris's Cicero Trilogy, were influenced by this earlier book, particularly with Vidal's structure, and Harris's choice for narrator.

It's been a bright spot in these damned Omicron-coupled-with-insane politico clowns weeks, to feel I've finally gotten something of a handle on the Gothic, Vandal and Hunnic wars of the 5th century, and some of the 6th century, for both the western and the eastern empires (which, by the end of the 5th century, the western empire was in the agony that transformed it into the states that became Europe). 

I'm really understanding why it is so many archaeologists and historians warn, "Be grateful you were not born in the 6th , 7th -- a century that brought Bubonic Plague to Constantinople and Europe, among all the other ordeals and horrors -- and 8th centuries -- though honestly, for So Many, the 5th and 9th + centuries don't look all that good either. At least in the 9th century Europe got Charlemagne and his dreams of a unity Christendom (he failed, as Christianity and all religions fail at that sort of unity), culture, civilization and knowledge.

I'm trying to get a firmer grip on the Goths in the Danubian lands, Italy, Africa, Gaul and Iberia prior to the Arab explosion in the 7th century. So dark, the written information so scarce -- and all of it biased as heck

I do not think I shall ever get even a slippery grip on the Persians -- there were so many iterations of the Persians, starting so far back, and going on for many eras.  So very very VERY many eras. To this day so many in Iran speak Farsi-Persian, as well as speakers of Dari Persian throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking at the stat NYC covid map: there are large parts of the boroughs that are more than 50% infected -- or just positive?  They don't tell us that. Our nation hit 1,000,000 new cases today.  Yes.  One MILLION. So, we are not at all out and about these days. 

Plus. it's cold here.

Though not as frigid as it will be the weekend, and this weekend won't be as frigid as next week.  Tomorrow morning we have Maybe Snow. Tonight we're doing serious comfort food for dinner.



Some hearty red Spanish wine.    



Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Learning the Craft From the Greats Gone Before + Weather

      . . . . In a sense this is a follow-up comment to the observations concerning Anthony Horowitz's Hawthorne and Horowitz mystery/crime series, and Andrea Camelleri's final novel in his very long Comissario Montalbano series, writers teaching writers how to write.

     . . . . Iconic US author Joan Didion passed away December 23, 2021, of Parkinson's and being 87. Since the announcement, I've been pondering her work, which, if it were music, could justifiably be said was a soundtrack to the years I have observed play out in this same nation her fiction recorded.  Perhaps not the only soundtrack -- there's the entire playbook of alternative soundtracks from out of Spanish and African heritage people handling things differently, but Didion's was the one that underscored the major themes of violence, cruelty, lies, isolation, betrayed hope and refusal of responsibility -- our national white, determination as white people since the Vietnam War, to never grow up, to remain forever immature, and expect every wish to be instantly gratified, that there won't be consequences for selfish harms inflicted upon others, even the planet -- and above all, our national god given right to be FAAAAAAYMOUS! Most of all, our national delusion that WE/ME can never die.

 In many ways, I feel, she was the real and only inheritor of Hemingway’s mantle, the only American writer who understood his diction, his syntax, his rhythms, how and why he used them. She was able to make that authentically her own too, through diligent, brilliant, long study and practice.  She, being she, wasn’t distracted by the bs of the masculinity cult, of winning and losing, as were other writers -- not surprisingly, all male -- who were determined to wrest Hemingway’s mantle for themselves, such as Norman Mailer.

For which, it seems, there were women who wrote, who would forever resent Didion (ironically, quoted in The New Yorker, for which both did write):

“Ridiculously swank,” Pauline Kael described the novel “Play It as It Lays.” “I read it between bouts of disbelieving giggles.”

 

Anthony Perkins, Tuesday Weld, Play It As It Lays (1972)

But yet, dear Pauline, no book of yours was adapted for your beloved films, and nobody ever asked you to write a script.

Alas, though, you both died of Parkinson's.  RIP, both of you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     . . . . Why, yes, it is January.  All month.  A nasty weather wise, which is the normal for NYC,  health wise, where once ya, flu and colds, but now, holy cow Omicron in combination with an utter idiot as NYC's mayor -- can you believe I am missing Bill de Blasio???????-- psychologically-wise, utterly despairing, as tomorrow is the first anniversary of the first all-out violent coup attempt, with many more being planned.

I did manage to get myself out today, early, to Trader Joe's for certain essentials, and then to the library to pick up Holds.  This despite the rain.  At least today the bitter cold is in abeyance, though it is scheduled to return even more bitter, after the Maybe Snow here Thursday night - Friday morning.  Good to have the milk, eggs and sour dough bread here already, as the already borked supply lines and deliveries have been further borked by the Big Snow that happened in and around D.C.    That TJ's sliced sour dough makes the best toast!

Well back to fund-raising planning for Tierra Sagrada.


Saturday, January 1, 2022

New Year -- Here We Are Back Where We Were

     . . . . Last year at this time we weren’t vaccinated, but this New Year, though many of of us are both vaccinated and boosted, massive numbers continue to refuse to do either, or mask, or distance. The pooba$, political and corporate, finance and real estate, insist on leaving things here, essentially, wide open.

Meanwhile school, from pre-K to unis have had to close to massive Covid. Yet both old mayor and the new in-the-pocket of Big Finance and Real Estate mayor, sworn in last night at the Times Square Ball Drop, insist all the public schools re-open on January 3rd.  This despite so many teachers and staff positive and sick and unable to attend to students and classrooms.

Subway lines, restaurants, Broadway, etc. have stopped, due to so many sick, so staff shortages.  Airlines have canceled thousand and thousands of flights. Fire fighters, police, ambulance drivers and EMS personnel are in short supply, as so many are positive / sick.  (Irony, fire fighters and cops are by-and-large refusniks of both vaccines and mask.) Doctors, dentists, hospitals are already broken in other parts of the country.  The stupid streatery sheds are still there in NYC, becoming ever more  more permanent structures w/o ventilation or shielding, so restaurants, like schools, hotels and health care, are so overwhelmed, stretched beyond limits that even more people quit.

Supermarkets are looking raggedy due to staffing problems, and, evidently, scraping bottom of the barrel hiring, have cashiers who laugh in your face about wearing a mask..  We're inundated with tourists from everywhere, while at the same time they and others seem to have decided across the board that Omicron's no big deal so what the hell.  

We are hoping somehow to get through this month of peaking infections and remaining uninfected.  But this seems less likely every day, as already back before Christmas 1 in 150 people in NYC were positive or sick. They Say we may peak with Omicron by the middle of this month. I dunno -- we also have many cases of Delta Covid, which are still increasing too. 

We're fairly stocked on groceries and other essentials, for getting through about a month, and we, double masked, vaxed and boosted, feel we maybe can chance the dash into Trader Joe's or wherever for milk and apples and tea.   I'm more concerned about whether places like this will be able to stay open and stocked.

We are in some very interesting historical times all right, which I am observing and experiencing up close, in person.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Biden can’t do anything. The rethuglican shoggoth cultists, the rethuglican plants in the Dems, and the Dem Party Establishment won’t allow it. Nancy Pelosi personally made enormous amounts doing massive buys and trades of the Big Stocks at the end of this year. “Nothing wrong with senators and reps making Big Stock money while in the House and Senate,” she declares.  

No state official has done more for the rethuglican covid death cult than the governor of Texas, with the exceptions of Florida's and South Dakota's.  Yesterday he was demanding federal aid and assistance of supplies and medical personnel to relieve Texas, because its health system, such as it is, has become utterly overwhelmed.  Yet, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) breezily engaged a question about secession at a recent conservative event at Texas A&M University, saying that he was “not there yet” but that if Democrats “fundamentally destroy the country,” then, “I think we take NASA, take the military, take the oil.”

~~~~~~~~~

Last night about 10 PM or so, el V and I met B at our little local park to celebrate B's birthday.  I gave him a a bottle of his favorite Spanish wine, and el V gave him a box of petites fours from our French Bakery, in lieu of birthday cake.  Since both el V and B are on antibiotics due to dentistry, I was the only one who was able to make a toast with alcohol, a martini that el V had made and brought with him as a surprise.  We had a most pleasant time out there in the 54°.  El V and I hadn't had any f2f interaction with anyone except with each other, other than briefly and to the point, let's get out of here as fast as possible, with dentist, doctor, librarian, retail, etc.  B's behavior is the same.  Again we wondered how the three of us would have made this far through pandemic without each other, and how lucky we live so closely together.  made sure other friends knew it was B's birthday, so they could call or email him.

It seemed generally NYC wasn't partying hard last night (though what could I really tell from a park bench?).  It was really quiet down here.  Though all the restaurants were open, they generally looked to be about only half full, if that much.  NYers are wearing masks, but the hordes of tourists here, are not.  We're number one in the USA YAY for Covid cases now, and if not number one in the world, number two or three.  We have more Covid today than we did in April 2020.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ironically, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, and NYC shut down, I’d just borrowed from the NYP Sharon Kay Penman’s final novel, The Land Beyond the Sea, published January, 2020. Penman died the same month. The libraries closed 3 days after I took it home, so I wasn’t able to return it until the end of August 2020.  Here, at the beginning of this unmerry New Year, a third year of Covid, as we shut down again, if only personally, not officially mandated, which we should be, I am beginning a re-read her final Plantagenet novel, A King’s Ransom (2014). This wasn’t planned. I began 2022 too, with the library. This past Thursday I brought home an armful of light reading -- mysteries, all -- from my Holds list at my local library, which should 'hold' me for a couple of weeks.  Not to mention all the other books I have. There's some good tv, in the offing, not least the third season of Discovery of Witches, and tomorrow night, a David Tennant Around the World In 80 Days.

El V's continuing to trade and is now doing serious editing-engineering on the audio for Tierra Sagrada, which has come out of the video documentation of our last, perhaps, final, trip to Cuba, in which we attended 14 sacred events in 8 days.  He's gotten some AI apps that allow him to do astonishing things, such as one of the lead vocalist's voice was essentially inaudible via the boom mic.  This AI can go through all the channels and pull out a single strand, which in this case is her voice, isolate it and el V can put it wherever he wants in the mix, at which ever volume he wants it!  "AI came along just in time to save these tracks!"  I heard him say on the phone the other day. He wants to have everything as smoothly produced and engineered as possible before he turns it over to the far more skilled, experienced and technically equipped pros.  This is an if, but at the moment it seems that the [redacted] network wants to look at Tierra Sagrada with the view they might broadcast it. That would be most pleasing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is how 2022 begins. I have no optimism that things will be better this year. The anti-vaxers and the shoggoth death cults will never recover from their chosen insanity.