". . . 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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Hopefully, it will be what has become an annual tradition: New Year's Eve at the home of our long-time artist amigo who some years back became a fully initiated houngan. We have come to having a Haitian New Year's Eve. Last year the loa came down too.

Vaquero came back from recording a piece for a program on the great big local NPR/public radio station about Cuban Jazz and the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. "It's snowing," he said. "I don't think it will accumulate. But it is really cold."

He went off to Da Office. Now I'm hearing on the same radio station that we are to expect temps around 17 degrees and 30 - 40 mph winds by tonight. Woo. I had some outside plans for today, but I think I'll just workout and make a pot of posole. Eeek. I will have to go out, to a degree, to get a bunch of fresh cilantro. But that's only a block. Hope he has no trouble coming home.

However the weather will likely not deter the million + crowd that begins gathering around 5 PM at Times Square for the midnight ball drop. I cannot figure these people out. Particularly since 2000 there are these baricades, within which you are not allowed to bring anything to eat or drink and once you enter, you cannot leave again -- at least I think if you leave you can't re-enter. Whatever. Crowds as herds. I have never had the least interest of participating in this event, even before moving here. People always ask if we do this for New Years. But for years on New Year's, Vaquero's band was playing. If you are a musician New Year's Eve is your biggest working night of the year. The really hot players pile up as many gigs for that night as they can. We've known Puerto Rican players to either fly in for NYC gigs after playing Puerto Rican ones, and the other way around too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

From Revolutionary Road to Enchanted

Puerto Rico Christmas started yesterday (for us), via Teaneck, New Jersey. Leftist Puerto Rican doctors and rumberos, including a doctor who is also a rumbero. As I'm not feeling all that well, I spent much of the time in the room with the middle school girls, who were watching Enchanted (2007) from Disney.

What a strange movie it is, and not necessarily coherent. But what an astute work of Disney marketing it is, going so far even as to exploit Disney's own stranglehold on Princess merchandising, for which there appears to no end of American girls who clamor to purchase -- judging by the bedroom of our hosts' daughter.

The sheer weirdness for me watching Enchanted was enhanced by having listened to the first two disks of Yates's Revolutionary Road while working out, which audio book version was a Christmas gift. I've read the novel, though a millennia ago, or so it feels, when I was an undergrad, thus it couldn't speak to me -- not the east coast suburban milieu or the characters. I just didn't have the geographical, historical or cultural apparatus to understand it at all. I disliked Frank intensely though. I think I still do. What I dislike about him is his sense that he's so interesting, so superior, and he's neither. You figure this out from the moment he 'narrates.' Whether his wife is as banal I don't know or recall -- neither of them were of any interest to me back then. But so far the only vision of April we get is from Frank and from the narrator. She hasn't spoken to us herself so far, and maybe will never speak to us herself throughout. But I won't find out for a couple of weeks' worth of workouts.

Can you get further from Enchanted than Revolutionary Road? As we all know Revolutionary Road is now a highly lauded film. It seems to be part of a middle of the American century revival that includes Mad Men, which seems to me to have been much influenced by movie made from Rona Jaffe's novel, The Best of Everything (1959), and to much lesser degree, the novel and movie The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956). Maybe the precursor of this revival was Far From Heaven (2002). Its look was clear and strong, colors driven to edge of their saturation, focused upon a suburban stay at home wife and mother, who falls in love with a man of color. She really falls in love with him. She isn't using him as a means to exit an empty marriage. I liked this movie and the characters very much. It felt as though these are people I might know today because we mutually enjoy each each other's company.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holidays -- Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans

The rain has stopped, though everything is drippy and it promises to resume.

I finished my shopping for today and tomorrow and am feeling rather more energetic.
I'm about to put the first disk on the cd player of that first volume of the Michael Cox Victorian trilogy, The Meaning of Night (I've read the second volume, The Glass of Time. I liked that novel quite a bit, though if I'd already read the first volume there wouldn't have been any suspense, so for once it was better to jump right into the middle, I guess.) and start cooking.
That will cheer me up.

We have a dvd of the 1947 New Orleans, from whence cometh the famous "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" which breaks your heart worse now than ever. But I think our friends will like watching this, even though, again, it appears to be movie that shows white men responsible for the creation of jazz. We attended an entire presentation about this movie at a seminar conference in New Orleans a couple years back. But we've never seen the movie.

Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book

Young, American, Muslim, rebellious against nation and religion, what do you do?

One young American Muslim rebel against both his nation and his religion, Michael Muhammad Knight, wrote a novel, The Taqwacores. The novel contained a cast of characters who lived a punk life in Buffalo, playing in Muslim punk bands.

An underground publication, it circulated that way. One young girl's sister read it to her over hours on the phone. Young Muslims wrote to the author asking when one of the bands would play next. He replied that there were no Muslim punk bands. Now there are.

The Taqwacores, about young punks in Buffalo, is called the Muslim Catcher in the Rye.* You can read the full story here.

* Don't you think it was possible for the writers of this piece to have come up with a more current and appropriate title than this thing by Salinger, written in and about a milieu so long ago and far away as to be quaint?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King - Movie For the Longest Nights

Despite the cheesy title that it's been cursed with in English, Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (2004) is an excellent film for an audience that loved LOTR, the Icelandic production of Beowulf, heros, swords and dragons, as well as a good story and a carefully constructed plot. Written by SF writers, Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, and by Uli Edel.

This is German/Italian/South African (it was filmed entirely in South Africa) television production of the Nibelungen. From the best I could determine the DVD version we get here in the U.S. is missing 50 minutes of the original 3 hours running time. Perhaps that is because it ran on the Sci-Fi Channel, and that's how they do. The absent material is missed. The work is known by at least five different titles including this Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King: Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten, depending where its released, and the channel or network on which it is shown.

The essence of what Tolkien extracted from the Volsunga/Nibelungen sagas shines through all the parts this production's story – particularly the ring, the dragon and the broken sword, and its influence upon the creation of Rohan and the shield maiden, Éowyn. Dark Kingdom's music echos that of the LOTR films.

Other of its motifs are common in Anglo-Saxon - Nordic literature as well. The love potion that makes Erik/Siegfried forget Brunhild and fall in love with Kriemhild, a la Tristran and Isolde, or the tarn helm Erik/Siegfried takes as booty from the dwarf, Alberich, that allows the wearer to assume another's physical identy, a la King Uther, who fathers King Arthur upon Queen Ygraine. Erik/Siegfried fights to win a bride for another, a la Tristram for King Mark. Is there anything more dishonorable, more foul, than to use magic to get another man to fight your battles for you and win the bride that rightfully belongs to him for you? How could any man live with himself who does that, and hear for the rest of his days, "You are not the man I thought you to be. You are not the man I thought I married."

The design of the now long-departed imperial Rome is in the private apartmens of the court, in their clothing and decor in ways that are plausible and harmonious. Historically this is probably as close to what things in these northern kingdoms of forests and mountains may have looked like in their courts, both rough hewn and functional fortresses with this latin luxury of style, clothing, personal possessions and furniture – with the latin style still employed as well in defense and battle technique.

The design of the palace of the Queen of Iceland, Brunhild, makes one glad for contempory heating. It's coldly, pointedly, fatally beautiful like the Queen herself, when betrayed. For she herself is straight as good blade, and honest. The actress (Kristanna Loken) who plays the Queen of Iceland, is marvelously strong and non-femme beautiful.

The Saxons who warred upon Sigfried/Erik's parents are the pagan monster bad guys. The blacksmith, Eyvind (Max von Sydow), rescues child Siegfried, naming him Erik. Eyvind's home on a river of Burgend is a place you'd like to live. Chickens roost fearlessly there. The dragon Fafnia is a true Wrym, given us via CGI. The battle between Fafnia and Erik/Siegfried is tense and bloody. The scenes of Erik/Sigfried bathed in the blood of the dragon are convincingly gross.

This is another in a collection you might be making for the long dark nights and the short days of the Yuletide season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Gift!

An old dear activist friend arrived from New Mexico, despite this really bad weather. We've traveled to Cuba with him often. He's still going several times a year and keeps us close with unseen friends until we can travel there again.

He brought me a sack of dried chili pods and a sack of posole!

We had just picked up four pork center loin-rib roasts from Chinatown. Woo. We're gonna have fun now.

Or, as Vaquero put it, "He brought you a passel of love from a whole other part of the country." I thought that was a lovely way of putting it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

First Snow & "It's a Wonderful Life"

The snow the weather critters have been hyper-amped about for a few days, which was supposed to arrive, They cried, soon after midnight, has only now begun. Of course, Vaquero has a rehearsal at 11 AM, so the snow is right on time. It's supposed to become a mix of snow, rain, freezing temps and wind by tonight. Naturally, one is supposed to attend a party. How do you do this and look presentable without a limo? Argh.

There's a killer assessment of the Christmas classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart, in today's NY Times Arts section. I've been hearing about this movie all my life it seems, but I've never seen it. After reading the article, I think I can see why. It describes so much about where I came from -- though it was a northern midwest farming community, not a NY manufacturing community -- and why, indeed, from early on, I couldn't wait to escape. However, since this movie is a Christmas classic, does everyone see the movie as the writer does?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"The Nation's" article on TWTMNO Linked on "Arts & Letters" Daily Blog

I haven't been following the Arts & Letters aggregator much since 9/11, as other blogs appeared, and since most of the stories became about the xtian right and neocon blathering and all the rest. All that reposting of the endless lies the media enabled the regime to keep telling -- couldn't stand it. Another reason the mainstream media has been losing market share -- lies and boredom.

But others have felt otherwise, which is how I learned about this link.

New Orleans: A Sorry Tale of the Public Library System

That is being 'run' by a musician, one Irvin Mayfield, 30 years old, a crony of Mayor Nagin's, and deeply disliked by the New Orleans musicians' community. From their perspective he's a politico, not a musician -- his chops are not up to the general standards of the average NO player. He has used the music community as a political career builder as he is now doing with the city's public library system, with Nagin's approval and assistance.

Now Irvin's widely perceived as building a political career by wreaking further destruction on a library system nearly undone entirely by the levees' failures in 2005, when Katrina devastated the Gulf.

It's happened before in many communities, that the public library becomes a playing field for the town or city's political rivalries and power struggles. But these plays have hardly ever been done so flamboyantly, with so little disguise anywhere else. This is New Orleans.

Full story here.

Needless to say that neither Nagin nor Irvin have an iota of library experience. They are turning the entire decision-making apparatus of New Orleans library system over to others without any library experience or training. This is reflected in their fund-raising and financial planning. Not a word there about personnel who are librarians, who do the work of a library, about the absolute necessity of institutional memory for a system anywhere, but particularly in this city where so much memory is living, and it has been forced out to the four corners of the compass, to never be retrieved again. There is no recognition in their planning of what a library actually does.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Inn -- Christmas Movie

Holiday Inn (1942), black & white. This is the predecessor to White Christmas, (1954 - color), for which the Christmas song classic "White Christmas" was originally written. It stars the Bingster and Fred Astaire -- Danny Kaye takes Astaire's spot in the White Christmas remake of Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn is essentially a music & dance revue of American holidays, bracketed by 3 – maybe 4 -- Christmases. The plot, such as it is, is the crooner vs the hoofer -- which one gets the girl(s)? Astaire swipes both girls, but one of them, the second one, comes back to Bing. This is a decidedly odd little movie, particularly since includes three Irving Berlin classics, "White Christmas," "Happy Holidays" and "Easter Parade," recycled from the Astaire / Garland vehicle Easter Parade (1948) – which is sung with all those specific references in the lyrics to Manhattan and Fifth Avenue – in the country. That there are two girls creates more confusion, hopefully of the venerable dramatic slapstick or comedy of manners kind, though neither mode plays that successfully. It's also a Support Our Troops WWII movie, but they keep forgetting that part. You really can't tell there's a war on, with the exception of one terrific solo Astaire tap number.

My personal favorite number is for Valentine's Day. Bing sings to 'Linda' (Marjory Reynolds), a song he wrote about her, he says, though he loses himself in his own voice and performance in the piano and doesn't even look at Linda. Behind his back, instead of having to stare goo-goo at the guy singing while the girl has nothing to do, Linda starts dancing with herself. Then Fred shows up, sweeps her off her feet into a classically Astaire courtship dance of high Romance. This is the second time they dance together, a reversal of the first, during which Fred is deeply inebriated and always threatening to go off his feet. We haven't seen Astaire pretend to drunk dancing before, unless drunk on love. It isn't funny or comfortable – he seems to have no heart in it, it feels cold as it supposedly is outside the Inn, it feels wrong. Reynolds isn't a dancer skilled enough to partner with the brilliant Astaire.

My other favorite revue number is again with Fred and Linda, dressed in 18th century court clothes and wigs, for Washington's birthday. The jealous Bing keeps changing the music from faux minuet style to hot jazz and swing styles whenever Fred is about to close The Kiss.

The problematic revue number is for Lincoln's birthday. "Abraham" provokes discomfort in today's audience. This number early got cut for television broadcast, except on Turner Classics. In this number both the Bingster and Linda put on blackface and the style of a minstrel show, supposedly because Bing doesn't want Linda to be recognized by Fred. They enthusiastically sing of how Lincoln freed "us darkies," while in the kitchen the black Jemima cook and her two black pickaninnies sing along of the good Lincoln who "who freed us darkies."

Then we get to the Hollywood section, in which a movie is made within a movie of this very movie, which is ostensibly a story about a Connecticut farm turned into a nightclub. Comes the second go-round of "White Christmas," which brings the escaped Linda back to the Bingster on the farm for Christmas because she hates the phony Hollywood so much. But all is well, as Astaire ends up with the first girl, 'Lila' (Virginia Dale), whom he already had swiped from Bing to be his dance partner when Bing wanted to quit show business so he could have holidays off. But Lila didn't want to quit performing and farm, so she broke off the engagement and ran off with Fred. Bing found that farming is even harder than performing – so hard he had a nervous breakdown and went to a sanitarium. Since a farmer still has to work on holidays, he decided to turn the farmhouse into a nightclub that is only open on holidays, so he can have the days in-between off. Or something like that.

During the course of the movie several years pass, and it feels that way watching it. This quality of endlessness could make Holiday Inn the perfect movie to have running on Christmas Day, when everyone has eaten too much and there is too much running around by children, teenagers and fussing grandmothers, while you are waiting for that very special phone call or text message from the one you really want to be with, but who is far, far away.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Back in the Deep Freeze

Dayem, it's cold! I knew today would be freezing the moment the invitation to NL's annual Christmas party arrived, because her party is always on the coldest night of December.

There's another party tonight as well. These two parties are on opposite sides of town. The hitch is that I have a marvelously sleeved black satin, silver trimmed thing which I've been looking forward to wearing to such events this year. It will be fine inside, but in-between the parties, well, the shoulders are nearly bare.

I was going to wear high boots and tights with it, but considering the temperature will opt for velvet trousers and ankle boots instead. Strange styles we have these days.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Plans

Hitting the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one our plans for the two weeks of Christmas and New Years, even though it's about the worst period of the year to go there with tourists and kids home from school and all the rest. But we want to see this show, and these two weeks are the only down time this year, with the book finished, essentially. (We're grappling with the cover and the photos now -- and a slog and a half that is too!)

Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.

This feels as though a companion show to the Brooklyn Museum of Art's Scythian Gold exhibition in 2000 (that I visited several times, alone and with others), because the emphasis is on trade and commerce, the routes merchandise traveled, and the alliances among the wealthy and powerful that were both consequence and cause of such prosperous interaction

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The World That Made New Orleans in "The Nation"

Two books are reviewed in this long article on colonial New Orleans: Shannon Lee Dawty's Building the Devil's Empire and The World That Made New Orleans. Most of the article is given over to TWTMNO. This is splendid for a book that was published 12 months ago.

You can read it here.

Louisiana, Alaska and North Dakota Beat Illinois

For successfully indicted and convicted public officials.

North Dakota is more corrupt than Chicago!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois Gub

Evidently he really is a scumbag, and it isn't another Spiegelman Rove playbook to take out a strong Dem official. Though with our own state's governor sting with the 'escorts' it was very much that, even if the facts were true. Spitzer opened the door to let the rovian rethugz who hated Spitzer for going after some very big corporate fatsos and their corruption to get him. Just like this Blagojevich.

The difference is that Blagojevich's take down isn't politically motivated, that Fitzgerald is considered a straight shooter, and that every person I know who lives in Illinois think Blagojevich is a dirty sob scumball and are glad he's been taken out.

How do these really bad apples keep getting elected? In this case it isn't even him paying 'Them" -- but him shaking down Everybody!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homage to Citizen K

Who posts weekly comix updates.

Here's a different riff:

An interview with "Mutts" cartoonist, Patrick McDonnell, commenting that this week " McDonnell's cartoon critters turn their attention to a future shelter-dog owner: President-elect Barack Obama. Starting with today's "Yesh we can!" strip, "Mutts" spends the next six days whimsically playing with political language in the name of pet rescue."

He seldom comments on politics, but he felt this was "a natural.'

Though, again, I am disturbed and frustrated that people who one expects to be more competent than this don't perform the slightest bit of fact checking before sounding off -- for it McDonnell had done so, if the interviewer had done so, they'd have know that adopting a 'mutt' isn't so straight- forward for the Obamas, as Malia has allergies, and they have to find a hypno-allergenic animal. But no one mentions this, they merely gush. Gushing without facts doesn't do shelter animals any service.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Repeal Day

[ The Democratic Party platform in the 1932 election included an anti-Prohibition plank and Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for the presidency promising repeal, which occurred on December 5, 1933. The popular vote for repeal of prohibition was 74% in favor, 26% opposed. Thus, by a 3-to-1 margin, the American people rejected Prohibition. Only two states opposed repeal.

Crowds raised glasses and sang "Happy Days are Here Again!" and President Roosevelt, referring to what he called "The damnable affliction of Prohibition," sipped a martini at the stroke of midnight, what was widely reported as the first legal cocktail since Prohibition began. ]

More here and here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


From today's List serving by Vaquero -- I blogged about this same June event here. But this is Vaquero's recollection of that day.

[ i last saw odetta in june, when the african american history magazine american legacy had a party to celebrate their music issue, in which odetta was featured in an article by audrey peterson. the carolina chocolate drops played a fine unamplified mini-set. there was this beautiful, tiny woman in a wheelchair taking it all in, smiling broadly, loving it, radiating joy, thoroughly happy to be alive. constance wound up sitting next to her.

it took me a while to realize it was odetta, much different than the last time i'd seen her, years before, on stage with a guitar in her hands. she was skin and bones, but she was beautifully dressed and had a glass of wine in her hands. unlike her body, her mind was completely alive. odetta and constance chatted and did the terrorist fist-bump. the last thing i heard about odetta, from a mutual friend, was what this story confirms, that she knew she was dying but was trying to hang on long enough to sing at barack obama's inauguration.

there's a video on the american legacy website of her singing "house of the rising sun" in 2005. listen past two minutes till the point where the chords stop. ]

Odetta was still doing concerts in October. She also performed at the same Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco at which Vaquero performed last year.

Below is the link to the NY Times obituary to which Vaquero refers, but first, this from her manager:

[ Eighteen months ago, Odetta and I were invited to the publisher's office of the New York Times to give her oral history obituary. The arrangement with them was that we would not tell anyone about the oral history obituary, that they would be the first to publish her obituary, and that the readers' could then view the oral obit Odetta gave by clicking on the New York Times website. Because I didn't get back from the hospital after Odetta's transition until 10:00 pm tonight and wasn't able to speak to Tim Weiner, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who interviewed her until 10:45 pm, I don't think it will be making the front page, but has been given royal treatment. May Odetta's luminous spirit and volcanic voice from the heavens live on for the ages. Though I know she will always be with me, I will be missing her. . ]

Odetta, Voice of Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 77
December 3, 2008

We were all hoping so much she'd be able to sing at the Inauguration.Her spirit was so strong.

Here's another excellent obit from the LA Times -- which focuses on her formative years in Los Angeles.

This links to the AL magazine editor's blog, with photo, and other interesting parts from their conversation, like this:

[ "That stuff is already out there," she said somewhat brusquely. She was right, it was. Somewhat mortified, I skipped over about four or five questions to something she did want to talk about. The present. The internet. Youtube. The future. Stuff like that. We wound up having a wonderful time. ]

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Question -- Does Colonialism Need to Be Learned?

Do groups need to learn the structures and methods of colonialism, genocide and slavery, or are these patterns of community behavior innate in human societies because the species is a hierarchal one, as well as a cooperative one?

Or have these all been learned thousands of years ago by the universal oppression and suppression and co-opting of women's (and children's) autonomy, bodies and non-remunerated labor, and what their labor produces?

Is this even a legitimate question?

I've been thinking about this, provoked by DuBois and Naipaul.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Library of America -- W.E.B. DuBois

Vaquero has found A Mercy an excruciating experience (he has little patience for fiction in general, and this latest of Morrison's literally put his teeth on edge), so we agreed to drop this work as our read-aloud and do W.E.B. DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk instead.

This a work, and an author that we so often have not read but feel as though we have because it is so often referred to, though perhaps not as much now as in the last century? The case is neither of us has read any DuBois, which seems surprising now, particularly since Felipe Smith's brilliant study, American Body Politics, (1998) employs DuBois's work so extensively in its own arguments. In certain ways Smith's work is a further revelation of DuBois's thought.

The Souls of Black Folk, a series of essays, was published in 1903. It's expression is so contemporary in large parts that they sound as if written today. They appear to look ahead to this very moment of the election of Barack Obama. But this modern style is blended with the nineteenth century style of extensive and extended metaphoric expression, which can get a bit wearing, like sermons will do. However, overall, DuBois is such a clean and clear thinker that he reads easily from the tongue to the ears and to the mind. It's difficult to provide higher praise for a writer than that.

We're reading The Souls of Black Folk in the Library of America edition that includes The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade • The Souls of Black Folk • Dusk of Dawn • Essays. Just because we're reading from a volume of this prestigious imprint, this seal that the writer is in the canon of American Literature and Letters, I had this peculiar experience. At one point a question about DuBois's background came up. Vaquero says, "I have no idea." I say, "This is the Library of America -- there will be at least a biographical essay and chronology and bibliography in the back." Vaquero marks our place with the convenient bound-in ribbon and flips to the back, where the answer is swiftly discovered. I felt I'd entered the true world, the world of literature and thought and letters, where I belonged, the world that mattered. A world in which I felt so safely at home. It was a sensation that long ago I inhabited all the time.

Why and how did that change? Computers, and google, etc. have something to do with this, but just what I'm not sure. But there was something, as that ribbon was placed to keep our place, the riffle to the back of the book, to find the answer to a question about the text that was in the book itself, that nudged this feeling into life.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai (What's Up in Thailand)

A/K/A the perfect day to be home snug and working! Larder well-stocked, etc. Valiant V. out to his office despite the wind and rain.

I miss Thanksgiving, that moment of light and civilization and joy with friends, bracketed by the horrible events of Mumbai (and elsewhere, everywhere, in the world).

These grim events are so frequent we now have formulaic, ritual responses, like this one, in Friday's NY Times. Just swap out the place names for the ones in Manhattan, and you have a hundred of those very same pieces written within days of 9/11. Somehow, this sort of response seems from where I sit pathetically inadequate and irrelevant as a counter to the desire of these religious dominationists of whatever brand they wear.

This ritual response is a big reveal of the economic divide that plays such a role in the rise of these events (the chimp telling us to go shopping as our Brave Action of Sacrifice Spitting in the Face of the Enemy Who Took Out the Two Towers), that the author doesn't comprehend -- the people who make these moves of death and destruction across the global board merely inadequately hate people (like us) who make money and live very comfortable lives, without any legitimate provocation. It is onlybase envy of their betters and superiors. And, oh yes, they are cowards too, since they are willing to die themselves to make their point of view hit the world's news cycles.

Here is a piece from from Suketu Mejta, a writer out of that same class membership:

[ There isn't a place that I frequent when I go back home that hasn't been hit by the 10 attacks that began late Wednesday at India's commercial capital that targeted premier landmark establishments of the city I grew up in and the city I long to go back to. ]

However, another writer, Anant Goenka, also in journalism, but a student, demonstrates an understanding of the perpetrators' purpose for these events:

[ And as my mother calls me shaken and afraid with sights of victims, hostages and blood on the road between my home and the Oberoi and as friends and family call to share their stores; how they escaped or how they are concerned for their loved ones who haven't, a small part of me is happy that the rich are no longer isolated from the realities of India. On December 12, when I land back in Mumbai, I hope to see a change, a renewed sense involvement and empathy for the vast majority of the country that live in the fear and horror of terrorism. Not only have these attacks caught the attention of the flagbearers of the nation but they have involved and consumed them. The carelessness and disinterest with the rest of the population's concerns that often went disguised as the city's brave spirit will no longer hold. People say we will come out stronger and more resilient. This time, when I go back home, I hope we grow weaker. Because that's what it will take for the city's affluent to unite with the rest of the city. Maybe now India's millions of voiceless victims will be heard. ]

He is a student, who affluently flies home to Mumbai for 4 months out of the year:

[ Anant Goenka is a Dean's Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communications, University of Southern California pursuing a Master's degree in Print Journalism. He is an international student from Mumbai with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and an emphasis in Brand Management from the USC Marshall School of Business.

Anant Goenka is the grandson of Ramnath Goenka, a freedom fighter and founder of The Indian Express, India's most respected national newspaper group.

Goenka has lived in Los Angeles since 2004 and spends 4 months of the year back home in Mumbai. He eagerly awaits returning to Mumbai to work in the business side of The Indian Express Group. He has interned briefly at Indian news channel NDTV 24x7, Business India Magazine and at The Indian Express newspapers in Mumbai. ]

So is it merely the youth of the writer that allows him to be resilient enough to recognize what is at least one of the primary driving forces for what creates such meticulously planned terrible events?

Writing as though one is demonstrating such great courage and resilience by going back to the way things are, as the first writer does -- safe in his Ivory Tower of the NYU Journalism dept. -- reveals nothing except the willful, blind selfishness that everything is really just what it used to be.

Nothing is as it used to be, other than the very wealthy still believe all is well enough in the world that they may continue to pillage and rampage over the rest of the world, devouring the earth, the water and the air as they please, and in personal peace. But that's the point of these acts. They are not senseless acts of violence. They are proving that not even the very wealthy and priviliged are safe or immune.

As the reports of the irreversibility of global warming within a couple of centuries become more numerous, how much longer is it going to take for us to learn these lessons? Where is our Darwinian sense that resilience means change, means we, the species, changes? Where is our species' survival instinct?

Friday, November 28, 2008


A lot of Indian blogs are not accessible. One of the things I've like very much about blogspot is the circle of young Indians blogging there, as well as individuals.

But here is another one, that's still up.

And this one too.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Who Celebrated the First Thanksgiving in the New World?

In May 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 men celebrated at the Palo Dur Canyon -- located in the modern-day Texas Panhandle -- after their expedition from Mexico City in search of gold. In 1959 the Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated the event as the "first Thanksgiving."

Another "first Thanksgiving" occurred on June 30, 1564, when French Huguenot colonists celebrated in a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. This "first Thanksgiving," was later commemorated at the Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River in eastern Jacksonville. ]
The Huguenots -- Vaquero's Peeps!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Difference Between the Obama Way & The Clinton Way

The Clintons did / do things by polls.

The Obama people do it by data mining.

That's I think.

Saturday, November 22, 2008 mailings from John Podesta

I'm getting them regularly, now that they've revamped the site.

I think I got on the list because I responded at length and detail on the first version of the site on the Submit Your Ideas and Issues button from the Agenda menu. Then they took all of that away.

Now things are back, though in a different format.

Podesta sends me these things and then I go and tell them what I think, as they request.
Doubtless, this is a placebo and provides illusion of input only.

Though with all the disappointments including queeny hillary as sec of state, Obama's video speech today about his determination to implement as soon as possible a public works and infrastructure program is something I'm really in favor of.

As long as they don't muck it up as with Lyndon Johnson's public works - superhighways programs which essentially destroyed the inner cities, and entire communites as in New Orleans. That's what I told 'em. I'm sure they'll listen!


It is below freezing despite being nearly the middle of the afternoon. Ice in the streets. We finally were able to re-instate the Saturday ritual of Chinatown shopping for produce, teas, spices, condiments, meat, poultry and seafood. When we got back with about 50lbs of groceries -- carried by us -- we were cold-stunned. Woo. It's a little early in the year for this degree of cold. Usually this happens after New Year's. It may be a long winter.

Then I went off to do some early Christmas shopping alone, while Vaquero was off to interview one of the co-founders of WWOZ, who I initially met on LJ.

A young, blonde Mormon missionary stopped me on the sidewalk. He asked, "Are you familiar with this book?" -- The Book of Mormon. I said, "Oh yes." He stopped looking so depressed and was ready to talk to me about the Lord and the Church. I interrupted and said, "I know all I need to to know about The Book of Mormon."

Additionally, right now, I'm working out to audio version of The 19th Wife, which includes long extracts from a book of the same title written by Ann Eliza Young, post her divorce from Brigham Young. She wrote the book to expose the horrors of polygamy, and with hopes that this exposure would help eradicate the practice, if enough of the U.S. understood what plural marriage really is about. Though Ann Eliza Young is called the nineteenth wife, in truth Brigham Young had more like a hundred wives, or likely more than that. No one now knows. He very likely didn't himself. He started to keep the marriages secret because, well, this really was excessive. But you know women and wives. They will talk ....

One of Ann Eliza Young's convictions is that women involved in a society of plural marriage are even more determined to know everybody's business than others. For one thing, they can't help it. As in Brigham' Lion House, that housed 50 some of his wives and the many, many children, everything they said or did, was done in front of everyone else.

The missionary wanted to engage me in discussion to prove that anything I might think about the LDS is wrong. I told him my life is too short and valuable to waste arguing with him about his religion. Additionally, like so many citizens of this nation, I am feeling particularly uncharitable to the Mormons right now, because of their role in rolling out No to Proposition 8 in California. Because of this, Mormons were going to looked at with even greater dislike and suspicion here in NYC, where all of us have very good friends who happen to be gay. I believe he was genuinely shocked and surprised to hear that.

Yes, yes, yes, I am aware that the contemporary LDS does not condone or practice plural marriage, yet their fundamentalists do -- though mostly it looks more like a cult-scam for a limited number of men to wallow in p*ssy and grab milliions of tax money in welfare checks for all these unmarried mothers, since by our nation's laws you can only be married to one person at a time.

Another reason I loathe fundamentalists of every kind, for it seems every kind of religious fundamentalism is determined to establish the ideal life of a significant number of men, which is to have all their lives an endless supply of fresh young p*ssy, have women do all the work, fight each other for the 'husband's' attention, while all these husbands do is fornicate, drink and drug -- and every word they utter is law, without recourse or argument. It really is turning women into things, objects, one thing only, and that's their genitals. Literally keeping them ignorant and pregnant and isolated from everything except yourself. What pathetic pos men like that are. Blech. Thank goodness not all men are like this, or we'd still be living in caves. OTOH, a lot of fundamentalists dream of us all living in caves and shooting each other for cans of food. Double blech.

These are thoughts that swam around my freeze-dried brain while in the state of shopping. When I shop it's as though I go into a trance. Or at least some other zone. On the top is the focus of what I'm looking for. Underneath all kinds of other things have my attention.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama Criticized By the Black Left

Black Agenda Report: The Journal of African American Political Thought and Action

"Barack Obama: The Empire’s New Clothes" by Paul Street.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Book Is Finished. I Went Shopping. We Watched a Movie.

The film Blaze is based (loosely? I've not read it) on Blaze Starr's memoir, My Life As Told By Huey Perry.

Paul Newman plays the role of Louisiana governor Earl Long (1895 - 1960). Newman was brilliant in the role. He so changed his voice and appearance you very seldom 'see' Newman at all, unlike any other role of his that I recall.

The role of Blaze Starr is played by the very lovely Lolita Davidovich. This was the summit of her film career. She continued acting, but not that much, and in nothing that so spotlighted her in terms of screen time or publicity and pr.

The film follows Earl during the last months of his life, in which he has a 'relationship' with exotic dancer, Blaze Starr. Additonally, according to this film, Earl was pushing for the passage of the Voting Rights Bill (1959) for Louisiana's population of people of color. The film includes Earl's people interning him in a mental institution to keep him away from the state capitol while the voting goes on. With Blaze's assistance / encouragement Earl escapes and charges into the legislative chambers. Newman proceeds to eat all the scenery in sight as he does, to my great delight at least, throughout the entire film.

Governor Earl Long's older brother was the Kingfish, Governor Huey Long (1893 - 1935), who was shot. In 1946 Robert Penn Warren published All The King's Men. In his novel the figure around whom revolve all of the characters is named Willie Stark, who stands in for Governor Huey Long. The b&w film version (1949) starred Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark. In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry (what about the novel?).

All the King's Men was re-made by Sean Penn, who started filming the year that the levees failed. Penn produced, directed and played Willie Stark. It was released in 2006, and fared not well at the box office. This despite the authentically heroic rescue work that Penn performed during the worst era of the catastrophe, and all the aid and assistance he's provided since for the victims of the disaster.

Nor did Blaze do well with critics or viewers. It was 1989. The film's dialog made very liberal use of the n word, which may have been part of it. Embarrassing for everyone in the theater. The actress playing Starr was very pleasant to look at and adequate in her part, but the critics found her performance less than stellar and inadequately compelling. Evidently neither critic nor audience wanted to be reminded of the harsh realities of that time, 1959, when Kennedy was running for POTUS, and, as Governor Long yelled at the state's legislators, "We got to get over this fuckin' em at night and kickin' em in the day."

If only for views of a lost and very compelling Deep South landscapes and buildings, Blaze is much worth seeing. Newman's accomplished performance is even more worth watching. And who, I ask, could object to seeing such a lovely woman strutting upon a strip club stage runway, and asking the assistance of besotted males in the removal of her gartered silk stocking?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Rightwing Talk Show Hosts Work

From the Milwaukee Magazine, Nov. 13, 2008, in "Secrets of Talk Radio", by the former news director of WTMJ, who reveals how talk show hosts ... work to get us angry.

[ To succeed, a talk show host must perpetuate the notion that his or her listeners are victims, and the host is the vehicle by which they can become empowered. The host frames virtually every issue in us-versus-them terms. There has to be a bad guy against whom the host will emphatically defend those loyal listeners.

This enemy can be a politician – either a Democratic officeholder or, in rare cases where no Democrat is convenient to blame, it can be a “RINO” (a “Republican In Name Only,” who is deemed not conservative enough). It can be the cold, cruel government bureaucracy. More often than not, however, the enemy is the “mainstream media” – local or national, print or broadcast
. ]


[ In the talk radio business, this concept, which must be mastered to be successful, is called “differentiating” yourself from the rest of the media. It is a brilliant marketing tactic that has also helped Fox News Channel thrive. “We report, you decide” and “Fair and Balanced” are more than just savvy slogans. They are code words signaling that only Fox will report the news in a way conservatives see as objective and truthful.

Forget any notion, however, that radio talk shows are supposed to be fair, evenhanded discussions featuring a diversity of opinions. The Fairness Doctrine, which required this, was repealed 20 years ago. So talk shows can be, and are, all about the host’s opinions, analyses and general worldview. Programmers learned long ago that benign conversations led by hosts who present all sides of an issue don’t attract large audiences. That’s why Kathleen Dunn was forced out at WTMJ in the early ’90s and why Jim and Andee were replaced in the mid-’90s by Dr. Laura. Pointed and provocative are what win.

As well as more, much more. This has been going on since the 70's. So we do not need to ask why those kids on Staten Island went looking for an African American person to beat and kill on election night to show how they felt about the results. Of course they found an African, not an African American. But he had an African name, so there ya go. Proves their point. Hopefully their victim won't die after all, but they will spend a long time in prison. White guys in a black prison population. Not good. Won't teach them a damned thing.

[ . . . . I had seen and helped foster the transformation of AM radio and the rise of conservative hosts. They have a power that is unlikely to decline.

Their rise was also helped by liberals whose ideology, after all, emphasizes tolerance. Their friendly toleration of talk radio merely gave the hosts more credibility. Yet an attitude of intolerance was probably worse: It made the liberals look hypocritical, giving ammunition to talk show hosts who used it with great skill. ]

Tell me again that the Fairness Doctrine shouldn't be re-instated.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google Earth Has Added Ancient Rome

From BBC News / Technology:

[ Google has added a new twist to its popular 3D map tool, Google Earth, offering millions of users the chance to visit a virtual ancient Rome.

Google has reconstructed the sprawling city - inhabited by more than one million people as long ago as AD320.

Users can zoom around the map to visit the Forum of Julius Caesar, stand in the centre of the Colosseum or swoop over the Basilica.

Researchers behind the project say it adds to five centuries of knowledge. ]

Here's the Google Earth / Rome e-ddress.

This is very cool.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It would be lovely if there was peace everywhere today.

I've been listening to women giving their accounts of what it was, has been like, and probably will be again (fully a third of those who have served, have served more than once) serving in Iraq.

Women are not receiving broad honor and recognition for their service. The public, PR faces of the troops remains overwhelming that of men's faces. Women are in combat but their courage, their stresses, their presence are all dismissed, considered not to be putting out the same level of courage, stress and risk, by their own fellow troops because they are classified by the Pentagon asx combat support, not combat troops.

Several of them stated there wasn't a day when she was in Iraq that she wasn't in combat. The women agreed that when they were serving in Baghdad there was no difference between combat support and being in combat.

A medic testified that not a single day went by without being sexually harrassed. She was also assaulted. While she was working to save lives of troops and Iraqis.

All of them agreed that these were the conditions, and they'd had to accept them or not survive. They received none of the same support and respect and recognition as the men when they returned. This lack of respect started with those very same men with whom they served.

Then all these old guys in the audience had to put in their opinions. Smugly they proclaimed there is no place for women in war. They hadn't heard a goddamned thing any one of the women had described. What these smug old white guys were saying is that everything that has happened to you is your own goddamned fault and you asked for it when you went to war. They never heard the women's descriptions of all the women and children who didn't choose to go to war and were killed, maimed, injured, raped, orphaned, widowed, etc. anyway.

Why is there no place for women in war other than as victims? Yet Our Sacred Troops are victimizing their sister troops.

Ayup. that's the only place for women in war. Victims. Victims. Victims. Despite how often they prove otherwise.

Our Sacred Troops haven't done their own damned job to counter this, you know. They have been the bottom of the problem. They have chosen not to be the solution.

Well, that's how this woman cannot help but see things as all her life she seen the stories of what American troops actually do and how they behave have been shuffled from public view, starting with the rape rampages they went on in the South Pacific back in WWII. Vietnam was even worse. Funny that. How unjust wars make troop behavior even more out of control, isn't it. And then there is the personal family experience that I won't go into here, on this day, when we honor the troops again, and peace -- well, not so much.

We have severe problems in our military and this latest cooing and dewy-eyed "We support Our Troops No Matter What" isn't helping. The military cannot continue without the women who have been part of it for so long. It's about farkin' time the powers that be do something to reflect that, and start kicking serious butt when women are not respected and treated as they have earned to be treated and deserve to be treated.

But by doing that the Pentagon and the world would have to give up the most dearly held enticement that keeps young serving in the wars made by the old -- women and uncontrolled violance against them, their supreme reward for allowing themselves to be in a position where their nutz might be blown or cut off.

The Argument Against Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine

I'm linking here to the article on the Mother Jones website, but this is how I've heard the argument against taking up the Fairness Doctrine stated by other 'liberals' too, including Ron Kuby.

Obama has also said that he was not interested in starting this big fight.

This kind of explains what it is Obama does want to do, which seems somewhat heartening, as he seems to realize that some kind of reform in communications must be taken up among all the other problems and issues and disasters.

[ "This summer his campaign issued an unequivocal statement on the subject: "Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible. That is why Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets." ]

Monday, November 10, 2008

Terrorizing Dissent

Terrorizing Dissent - The Election Cut

[ Glass Bead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia, and other independent media activists have released a new film, 'Terrorizing Dissent', an exposé of events at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Featuring first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on the streets, 'Terrorizing Dissent' focuses on the story of dissent suppressed. People charged with "conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism" speak out against the government's campaign to manipulate media coverage and label civil disobedience and community organizing as terrorism. ]

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Orleans First Second Line Post the Election

This afternoon, thanks to our friend, Chris Dunn, who was there with his mighty camera.

Go here to see and hear.

Plus more!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Delusional Dreams

Can anyone explain why the studio powers came up with the most stupid title ever for a Bond flick? Really. What idea can you get from Quantum of Solace? The Brits aren't liking the movie either very much. A Bond seeking 'closure' evidently is a departure far too far from the Bond that all know and love. He doesn't even bonk anybody, it is said.

Now in the endless state of being sick we've progressed to endless coughing, so sleep is a few minutes at a time. In one of those dozing hiatuses from coughing I dreamed that McCain was running with Cheney as his running mate and they were an out gay couple, running on a GLTGBI platform. It beat the nightmares in which bush&co were raping me or bombing me, I guess.

My nightmares weigh nothing in balance of the nightmares for so many that began so long ago thanks to the vicious bush&co -- 20,000 muslims just disappeared around the world. Their families have no idea where they are, or what happened to them. How is Obama going to take this on, Robert Fisk asks, in the Independent. Will he? Is there will to deal with this?

Friday, November 7, 2008

The following e-mail went out to the list this morning, our response to :

[ A project of the Obama/Biden transition team, Change Dot Gov lays out policies and claims to want your input:

>Tell us your story and the issues that matter most to you. Share with us your concerns and hopes. – the policies you want to see carried out in the next four years.>

There's an "agenda" tab that has a "foreign policy" sub-tab. under this tab, there's a lot about Iran. and Georgia. But "Latin America and the Caribbean" was, as of last night (11/6), a dead link. How appropriate to its place in the chain of priorities, always. However, as of this morning "Latin America and the Caribbean" was MIA. Evidently it has been decided already that the only foreign policy concerns are: Iraq-Iran (Afghanistan?); Israel-Palestine; Russia and nuclear weapons. This is a deeply negative indication about the direction this administration is choosing.

Is anyone really going to pay attention to this? I'm cynical, but hey, if Barack Obama asks your opinion it's your responsibility to give it to him,no? This is an open challenge. Tell the Obama-Biden transition team what you want to see happen with Cuba. Everyone in the United States with an opinion on this topic, this is the time to say it.Take a little time to write it. Let them hear that a sane Cuba policy matters to Americans.

There is some confusion about President-elect Obama's policy on Cuba. Some people seem to believe he has indicated he will end the embargo. He has not, to my knowledge. So far, in concrete terms re the embargo, he has only indicated that he is in favor of removing travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban Americans to visit families. That doesn't even put us back to where we were during the first years of the George W. Bush administration, before harsh new guidelines were implemented at the end of 2003.Here are some of my points. Feel free to compose your own:

(1) As the Cuban Revolution looks out across the Gulf toward the eleventh US president it has known, the United States embargo of Cuba is the poster child for failed policy.

(2) The embargo of Cuba is implicitly also an embargo of Havana's historic great trading partner, New Orleans. If Cuba were able to buy products from the United States, much of the shipping traffic would necessarily flow through New Orleans, as it did during the 190 years there was trading between the two cities before the imposition of the embargo by President Kennedy in 1962. Let's help get New Orleans back on its feet by ending the embargo of Cuba.

(3) The embargo of Cuba isolates the United States in the world community, as we are the only country that maintains it. We join Lula of Brazil, and 17 successive years of near-unanimous UN resolutions (this year's vote was 185-3), in calling on Obama to end the embargo. (Of course, thanks to Helms-Burton, which President Clinton signed into law, it takes congressional action to do that, but there's a lot the president can do, both in terms of administrative action and a call for legislation.)

(4) End the embargo unilaterally, as Jimmy Carter suggested. Don't demand concessions first. Just do it. No preconditions. Short-circuit the stalemate. Let the United States, which imposed the embargo, take the first step. Then let's talk.

(5) While we're working on ending the embargo, end the travel ban, period. This can be done without congressional action.

(6) While we're working on ending the embargo, remove the restrictions on credits and other Bush-era bureaucratic obstacles that keep American farmers from selling their products to Cuba as presently allowed by U.S. law. This would also have beneficial humanitarian consequences. Cuba is has repeatedly asked to be able to purchase American farm products at marketvalue.

(7) Stop relying on the advice of so-called Cuba experts who have never been to Cuba. We need a new generation of Cuba specialists in all disciplines of the arts and humanities. Open and facilitate academic and artistic exchange immediately, so as to cultivate better mutual understanding and information flow, beginning now.

(8) Let music help the process along. At present, no musician living in Cuba and planning to return home has been allowed by the United States government to come in and perform since 2003. Beginning immediately, greenlight visas for Cuban performers.

(9) Introducing sanity into our relationship with Cuba would be the cornerstone of a reasoned, constructive Latin American policy. The converse is true: without removing the embargo, our relationship with the rest of Latin America will continue to be strained and distorted by it.

(10) We urge President Obama to follow through on his debate pledge to talk directly with high-level leaders in Cuba without preconditions. That would be a truly historic breakthrough in relations.

(11) We voted for change. Let's change the United States embargo of Cuba. ]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Before Midnight

He conceded.

Cell phone, land line, even text messages, plus e-mail of ecstatic messages from our AfAm friends.

So, OK, why did it take this dayemed long!

Why can't I be partying with our friends, dancing? Coz I'm so dayemed sick. WHY?

I have not forgotten he's a corporatisto, but he's also a good guy.

That's the advantage of being so young and so new -- he hasn't sold his soul yet.

He's got lots of time.

In the meantime -- Hooray!

Election Day 2008


I’ve been so sick that at all the many plans I had for this happy election day have evaporated.

My across-the-hall neighbor was waiting when our polling place opened at 6 AM and it took her an hour and a half. But I did vote, post the before-work crowd, before the lunch time surge. I'd have to have been dead not to have voted in this election. It took about a half hour.

Our polling place is at a vocational high school that is all African American and Hispanic African students, teachers and administration. Usually on election days we white and Asian folks, who are the vastly predominate population in this part of our city, don’t even register on their awareness. Today though, very sharply dressed young male students were seated on the steps of one of the school’s doors that opens to the sidewalk that feeds the voters to the polling area. Very softly one asked, “Obama?” We smiled and thumbs-upped. Huge grins spread across their faces and they high-fived, along with “AhIIIte!”

Our precinct was organized and things moved quickly. However the district had put some other precincts into our place, and those lines didn't move so quickly, and some of them were very long. One of the machines malfunctioned. The usual.

The feeling among everyone -- the poll workers, the students, the voters, was so pleasant. People smiling at each other. Many had brought their small children. The new, youngest voters often came in groups of friends. People were patient, but more than this, they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. This part of the city it's fairly safe to believe that most of us are solidly blue, so it's been a long time since we've had anything to be happy about politically, and since 9/11 -- and we are part of the voting area that are just outside of Ground Zero, and we were deeply affected by that, progressively more so. We protested the invasion of Iraq from the gitgo.

Our part of the city is one of the places to which freedmen and women flowed during and post the Civil War, to work in the textile factories and sweat shops that were here. We’re also only blocks east of the old wharfs (which were very busy in those days), and the warehouses serviced by the railroads. Many New York state's people of color had already been working over there. The oldest continuing operating business/building in the city is there, now called the Ear Inn, but was the James Brown House, that serviced the black labor force employed on the docks and the railroads, and provided rooms too. The building we live in was thrown up originally to provide housing for this influx up from the South. All this felt very close to us today.

Our local, the corner French bistro, is owned by an immigrant Egyptian Copt family. The oldest brother hugged me in front of his place. He voted before coming in from New Jersey. "I get off at 5 today. I'm going home. I'm turning the television. I am having a big bottle of scotch sitting next to me, and I am having a party."

Another Update

Massive lines in so many places here, and this is a solidly blue region. If you wanted to skip this election because of illness or other hardship, you wouldn't be betraying the Cause. However, it seems this election is also about the massive repudiation of the American people of the last 8 years and those who are responsible for them. We all want to contribute to that repudiation, and in the company of our fellow human beings. So we are voting, no matter what.

I'm a lot happier about this country than I've been in many years. Also, this time around, if it doesn't turn out the way I want, I cannot blame the candidate or the party. We have a magnificent candidate and he did everything right. Just witnessing someone on Our Side (however you fall on the center - left spectrum, he does fall on our side) doing everything right, particularly when They have been so successful at doing everything wrong on purpose as their goal and objective, is a comfort.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweet Potato Pie

The New York Review of Books.

[ Everything else they would never see. It existed only for the several thousand cheering people in Vernon Park on that bright morning in Germantown. They would never see, for instance, Obama's riff on sweet potato pie. It came as he told a story about his campaigning "the other day in a little town in Ohio, with the governor there," about how he and the governor suddenly felt hungry and "decided we'd stop right there and get some pie." Now here began a little gem of a story, which had at its center the diner employees who wanted to take a picture with Obama, not least because, as they told him, their boss was a die-hard Republican and "they wanted to tweak him a little with that picture." All this was heading toward a carefully choreographed finale, where the owner appeared personally with the pie for candidate and governor and Obama looked at the pie and looked at the pie-carrying die-hard Republican owner and "then I said to him"—perfectly elongated pause—"How's business?"

This brought on great gales of laughter from the crowd. For the joke turned on a point already precisely made: How can even the most die-hard of die-hard Republicans, if he is thinking of his self-interest, how can he vote Republican this year? "If you beat your head against the wall," Obama demanded of that faraway Republican with his pie, to a blizzard of "oh yeahs!" and "you got that right!" from the crowd, "and it hurts and hurts, how can you keep doing it?" But it was those two words, "How's business?"—that casual greeting thrown at the Republican diner owner that showed that there simply could be no other choice this year—that showed the case proved, wrapped up, unassailable.

And yet what struck me in this little model of political art was a tiny riff the candidate effortlessly worked into it from his banter with the crowd. When Obama launched into his story with "Because I love pie," a woman out in that sea of cheering, laughing people shouted back, " I'll make you pie, baby!" and to the general hooting laughter the candidate returned, "Oh yeah, you gonna make me pie?" Then, after a beat, amid even more raucous laughter, and several other female voices shouting out invitations, "You gonna make me sweet potato pie? " More shouts and laughter. " All you gonna make me pie?"

"Well you know I love sweet potato pie. And I think what we're going to have to do here"—and the laughter and the shouting rose and as it did his voice rose above it—"what we're going to have to do here is have a sweet potato pie contest.... That's right. And in this contest, I'm gonna be the judge." The laughter rose and you could hear not only the women but the deep laughter of the men taking delight in the double entendre that was not only about the women and their laughing, teasing offers and about their pie that that lanky confident smiling young man knew how to eat and enjoy and judge, but even more now, amazingly, as people came one by one to recognize, about something else. To those people gathered in Vernon Park that bright sun-drenched morning, it was an even more titillating and more pleasurable double entendre, for it was most clearly about something they'd never had but hoped and dreamed of having and now had begun to believe they were within the shortest of short distances of finally tasting. "Because you all know," their candidate told them, "that I know sweet potato pie." ]

I heard that *&^% Arnold, "the Austrian One," standing next to McCain, going on about Obama's skinny little legs and how he needed to get some muscle on him like a real man, and how his ideas needed some muscle like real ideas.

Well who is short and stumpy and you know jealous as heck about Obama's height? And who moves like a dancer, or ... a basketball player? And um, who really isn't a U.S. citizen and thus cannot ever be POTUS? They are so transparent.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Hiding in Plain Sight"

Published November 2008, OffBeat Louisiana Music & Culture Magazine, Volume 21, No. 11. "Hiding in Plain Sight", Vaquero's tribute to Earl Palmer.

In the meantime I have developed what Vaquero's got and it is some really vicious germ. No sleep at all last night.

I am not a happy person.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Listening to the Locals: North Dakota

Adam Blomeke, a blogger at the site, North Decoder, writes about Our State's political state on Daily Kos today.

Read it here.

He says, "It's exciting for North Dakota to finally be a player in the electoral college." Though I haven't lived in ND since leaving it at age 18, I feel the same way.

Ed Schultz and his liberal radio show (he bills it as "Where America Comes to Talk"), which he started on a Fargo radio station, has had a lot to do with this, it may well be. In other words, Air America has had an effect, despite its very low numbers, i.e. funding and access -- and even though it's gotten too limousine liberal for me, owned by the big real estate Greene family here in NYC now. It didn't start that way. It's shifted way right, er, centerist, since they took it over. It's all about Ariana Huffington, Robert J. Kennedy, Jr., Mark Greene and other wealthy Dem elite celebrities.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that the rank-and-file Air America crew has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically since its inception during the darkest days of the regime that seemed to be permenently installed as the single oligarchical ruling class, as the neoCONs blithely, publicly, declared was the Goal.

Starting with the splendid, highly educated, highly articulate Laura Flanders, who travels constantly around the nation, connecting activist communities to each other from Utah to Louisiana (and which it seems to me Ed Schultz has imitated with his "Town Halls", though he charges admission to them, like everything else in his heavily merchandized bully pulpit). She gave us hope. She showed us we were not as alone, as solitary, as isolated as we felt. And if we would get off our duffs, and connect again with our communities, we can make a difference.

It seems to me, since Air America gave Schultz its prime slot, the noon to 3 gig, is that he's far better than Tom Hartman, who had the slot prior to Ed (Al Franken had it first). Hartman started as a CON, before seeing the light, and it shows. He wastes far too airtime by giving it away for days at a time going to cover rightwing gatherings and letting them talk. The right wing owns the primary media; they don't need the air time -- and besides they loathe the Fairness Doctrine and got it repealed, allowing Limbaugh to thunder hate speech for decades now to all of the U.S.A that isn't pockets with more choice in radio listening like NYC.

Schultz, also, when times get really rough, as they did immediately post the mcpln bounce and coo, never loses faith. He keeps people going. And again, for anyone living where you have no choice in radio other than limbaugh and religous armageddon broadcast, Schultz and everything on Air America is a tonic beyond price. Even in NYC, with the largest public radio broadcasting station in the country, having an alternative to the corporate blandness and determination not to offend their big corporate sponsors and doners -- who are, well, corporations and definitely not leftist, much less Democrat -- Big Eddie and Air America can be a great antidote.

When they brought in Rachel Maddow, I quit listening to "All Things Considered." The bland lies ATC propagates, their slants of unexamined assumption and statement as facts things that are not, have just become too slimey to swallow without either gagging or yelling, and I don't want to expend energy doing either.

I just wish Ron Kuby were more of something or other, or less. I'm not sure. When I heard him the other day blithering on with a neoCON attorney about why the whole idea of a Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting in this day and age was risible, I had to restrain myself from going to the show's blog and writing a whole chronology of what has happened to the news media since the corporate media moguls got the Fairness Doctrine repealed. The consequences? Iraq, for one. The theft of one, if not two, national elections.

A proof? Today in the NY Times there's a story about the nervous nelly Dems who won't allow themselves to believe that perhaps the Dem candidate will become POTUS, despite the many favorable signs. The article blithely mentions in passing the reasons Dems are such nervous nellies this year, "one if not two elections stolen." This is the first time the NY Times has ever acknowledged that the 2000 election WAS stolen. If it wasn't for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine they might have had to admit much, much ealier, because the news journalism on the old school public broadcasting networks would have said so, the alternate weekly papers (which no longer exist other than to provide adverstising to local communities for escort services, etc.) would have beat the drums about it, and so on and so forth. So this is why despite how obviously intelligent Kuby is, he puts forth way too often some really ignorant ideas. He spent far too much time as the only nonwhackorightwingnut with Curtis Sliwa. He still hasn't purged himself of all he's unconsciously absorbed from that long-time, lucrative gig. Time for him to get over it.

Air America also receives the accolade of providing the first Female, Lesbian, Leftist, Rhodes Scholar and Ph.D. in Political Science, political pundit, Rachel Maddow to the wider world of prime time television political punditry.

Laura Flanders and Rachel Maddow. That's pretty darned good. But the Greenes have determined Laura not rich / successful / celebrity enough to have a show on here, in NYC, the Air America flagship station. That is bad. Very, very bad. And stupid too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Signs That Too Many Still Haven't Figured It Out

Running errands this afternoon on Halloween, I walked past Dave's Army-Navy Surplus store on 8th St. all bedecked as usual with American flags and other U.S.A. patriotic bunting. It was about 2 p.m. and it was crowded with customers, customers actually standing around waiting to get in. Trust me folks, it is never like this otherwise, particularly not at 2 pm on weekday.

The customers were all young white males in suits frantically buying up military uniforms and fake arms for the expression tonight of their fantasy selves. Of course, these uniforms were all of the "Special Forces" sort, not yanno, privates in the Army or anything so, well, mundane. Surely these clowns are all extra sooperdooper snipers and assassins. They're all probably pretending to be Matt Damon pretending he is Jason Bourne ....Scary.

If they are so enamored of the soldier's life why the frack are they being all pudgy and out of shape, wearing expensive suits and coats, all excited about playing soldiers? Really. They are too old for this. Blech.

I used to like Halloween a lot. But as the annual Village Halloween Parade began attracting 4 million viewers, and that the parade gathers on my street and jumps off from here, not so much. We get either locked in or locked out. We can't eat out or buy beer, and the level of people peeing in our doorway is way too high. So maybe we need to make allowances for the foxie feeling cranky today. Besides, Vaquero is very sick, and he is cranky too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Duty of a Good Revolutionary In This Election

This is provoked by Ren's comment on the previous entry. But in no way is this to be construed as a snark or a slap against Ren and what he believes, stands for and struggles for.

The duty today, as I see it, for anyone who cares about this nation and democracy and the future of everything, including the planet, is to vote for Barack Obama in this election.

He is not a messiah. He is not the one answer to all questions. He is not perfect. He also is not a scatter-shot anger spreader, who can barely hold it in and can't wait to start throwing things at anyone and everyone.

What Barack Obama is, is a start. To rolling back this latest assault upon voter rights, upon many, many things that have disenfranchised pressure, persuasion and politics for a generataion the least left-leaning or progressive thought.

We all have a duty to be active, locally, if nowhere else, as well as to vote. And he is trying to lead the way. He's willing to take on that burden. But most of all it's about us, us doing the work, having a portal to having a stake in this nation again.

And he is kind and he has a soul. He not angry with that scatter-shot, never know when it will explode, and it always wants to explode, that is there in McCain and in the blood lust mobs that adore Palin. He doesn't blame others for mistakes. In that he's so different from almost all politicians whether Lenin or Clinton or Bush.

He has at helped us to clean a pane in the political-D.C. inside-the-beltway, so we can at least look in and a get a sense of where to apply pressure.

His nature got concerned citizens of all ilks off their asses and into the streets, the diners, the suburban cul-de-sacs, the back roads and DOING SOMETHING, other than blogging and sneering at How Stupid They Are.

Another Line of Work That Didn't Used to Be

"Personal Music Stylist" -- hired to ensure the music fits the decor of your home.

[ Though they consider clients’ musical preferences, stylists said they are paid to be the final arbiters of what songs work in a space. “When clients hire me, they are buying into the Coleman brand of taste,” Mr. Feltes said. Stylists typically charge between $50 and $250 per hour of music, which they usually download onto iPods but which can also be delivered on CDs.

Joe Wagner, 50, a commercial real estate developer and investor, hired Mr. Feltes last year to provide music for two homes with very different styles — a rough-hewn stone, wood beam and stucco lodge in Aspen, Colo., and a white brick colonial in Palm Beach, Fla. “I wanted music for both places that set the mood and reflected the environment,” Mr. Wagner said.

Mr. Feltes compiled about 48 hours of music divided into playlists particular not only to each residence but also the activity and time of day, like, for example, Latin jazz tracks for a lazy afternoon floating in the pool in Palm Beach or opera selections for a morning reverie while gazing at snow-capped mountains in Aspen.

“When someone walks in and hears great music, it’s like looking at a wonderful painting on the wall that gives you certain emotions,” said Mr. Wagner, who gets his playlists updated quarterly. “I love that I don’t have to think about what to put on. It’s already done for me.”

With so many genres and artists, it’s hard to stay on top of everything that’s available. ITunes, the online music store, has a catalog of over eight million songs. And there are countless new performers whose work is not so widely distributed.

“Our clients are the type who send people all over the world to find the perfect spoon, or doorknob or type of marble,” said Jeffrey Reed, a club D.J. and a founder of Audio Sushi, a custom music service in London with an international clientele. “My job is to find the perfect music.”

It's puzzling that I find this maximumly offensive. Why should I be bothering my pretty little head with it at all?

Monday, October 27, 2008

McPln Meets Bollywood

I'm not so crazy about spreading video -- there are so many, and many blogs seem to prefer YouTubes to writing -- because it takes a lot longer to look at a video than to read, at least for me, and so much is so repetitive.

However, thanks to Nancy Lebovitz on Making Light, here's one you really want to see. There are no words to describe it, but the video itself is filled with words.

Does it feel to others like it feels to me, that the entire world -- not to mention myself -- is just holding its breath through the Election Day for POTUS? As if until we really know who is going to be POTUS we cannot sensibly plan ahead for anything?

Vaquero says that everyone he talked to in Barcelona, whether from South America, Europe or Asia, is feeling like this. Even at this enormous arts and literary and cultural festival (that the Jazz Festival was a part of), everyone was talking about this U.S. election. He did not encounter a single person supporting the other ones. If nothing else would, this has to be the overwhelming evidence that this nation has lost its mind. The whole world is pulling for us to recovery our sanity.

In some ways I'm cautiously experiencing a flutter of a coming lightness of being of the sort I haven't felt in many, many years. Rather I've felt an ever weighty sense of repression and oppression and pessimism. This flutter is caused by the elegance of the Obama campaign, which has given one a glimmer of hope, that if he and his people get to run this nation we all, together, can turn things around, and not just turn them around, but do as with the FDR era, actually make the nation better for a lot people than it was before, at the best of times.

That's a hell of a burden of expectation to put on one person, it seems to me. But as Vaquero and I discussed this morning:

Joe who isn't Joe and isn't a plumber compared Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr. (who was, btw, one hell of a tap dancer), and today Stanley Fish compared Obama to both Fred Astaire and Jesus vs Satan in Milton's Purgatory -- talk about over-the-top rhetorical excess! But Vaquero thinks what Obama really is, is the Mozart of politicians.

Vaquero says, "It effortlessly poured out of Mozart. He didn't have to puzzle over it, or tinker, he just knew. His musicality was so deep, and so was his undestanding of instruments and instrumentation, that he knews just what fit where to create not just good effect, but the best effect to carry out the master vision. Thus the elegance. Obama's the Mozart of politics."

I don't want to get symbolic about this election. I support Obama, not because of skin color or in spite of skin color or any of that. I support him because I genuinely think he's the superior candidate. He worked damned hard to get me to think this way. I'm not much of a bandwagon person. However, symbolically? This terrible mess the nation is in? We want Obama to be POTUS because we believe, we hope, that with our help, he can clean it up. Isn't that just the history of this nation? When things are a wreck, we need a black person to show us the way, you could say. Considering the history of this nation, how much throughout its history, events and economy depended on the efforts, so unrecognized, so exploited of African Americans, it is above and beyond time we have an African American POTUS.

BTW, Bruce Sterling was the star this last week at the festival, with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson -- but while Bruce and Reed were actually there and doing what they were supposed to do, Laurie literally phoned in her part. She probably had a dog agility competition that her appearance was unfortunately scheduled against ....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vaquero -- Encores and Standing Ovations

Ned's concert in Barcelona (the never-ending arts festival, literary festival, Jazz Festival) just concluded.

The room was filled 20% over capacity. Encores. Standing ovations. No journalists present, though. Dang.

Nevertheless, from both professional contacts and recognition, and financially, this was way worth doing. Of course, the euros aren't as strong against the dollar as they were just a few days ago (the dollar's recovering, evidently still seen as the safest currency as everyone's economy of financial smoke and mirrors blows away). Ain't it always like that? Still, one cannot complain!.

Why yes, I am proud of him. I request indulgence, since I can't help it.

Whew! Not so easy doing all these presentations, moderations and performances in these past 4 days on jetlag and so little sleep

Hank Williams's Breakfast Club Recordings

Hank Williams's daughter, Jett Williams, born 5 days after he died, was put out for adoption. But 3 months before she was born, Hank Williams had filed a paper with a court stating this baby born to Bobbie Jett was his child.

Jett Williams and Time-Life have put out the acetates of the singing spots he pre-recorded for the local home radio program, his early fifties Breakfast Club radio show, on Nashville’s WSM-AM station. He talks about the songs a bit, and patters with his Drifting Cowboys band. The boxed set is called The Unreleased Recordings of Hank Williams.

WSM-AM moved. The acetates were in boxes and discarded. A station employee, Les Leverett, rescued them, and later gave them to Jett Williams, as belonging to her.

Polygram and others, via chain of title claims, sued.

The courts, eventually, ruled these recordings were personal property of the family because they were not made with commercial, for profit, release in mind.

These are as moving as Hank Williams can be. I'm hearing "On Top of Old Smoky" now. It was one of Mom's favorite songs. That she actually got to the top of Old Smoky on a winter vacation driving south with Dad and an another couple when I turned 6 was always a meaningful memory for her.

Jett Williams says:

[ "In addition to Williams' best-known material, the recordings include 40 songs he was never known to have performed and others he never recorded commercially, including "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "Cherokee Boogie" and "On Top of Old Smoky." ]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Happy Vaquero

He's being taken care of personally, by the Jazz Festival's director, since Vaquero's the one who is writing it up for Downbeat, I guess.

He jetlags really hard -- he hallucinates. This despite our attempts to turn our schedules around before he left, and no alcohol or caffeine for 24 hours prior to flying. He was met at the airport. His luggage was taken to the hotel and he was checked in, but he was taken off immediately to a press conference with Bebo and Chucho Valdez.

This is the hotel's music room.

4-hour, multi-course dinner last night, that concluded, as you can see with a dulce called "The Six Textures of Chocolate."

The dinner was marvelous, he says. He was sitting with Bebo and Chucho and father and son, between them, incarnate the history of Cuban music in the 20th century. They talked nothing but Cuban music the entire time. He was in heaven. He thus managed not to sleep until a reasonable bedtime hour. He woke feeling like a normal person.