". . . 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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Unions Join in the Occupy Wall Street Movement

As per usual, the NY Times isn't reporting this; instead they stay with Anthony Bologna, the infamous, non-justifiable pepper spraying NYPD cop, whose behaviors of this nature reach back to the 2004 rethug con here -- thereby derailing any discussion of the issues that Occupy Wall Street is protesting -- oooh violence, lets look at that instead of what the banks are doing right this minute to us all:

Groups that are joining the marches and providing support (as well as friends and acquaintances) include: The United Federation of Teachers; 32BJ SEIU & 1199 SEIU; Workers United; and Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has 38,000 members.

Additionally, Working Families Party,, Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Alliance for Quality Education, Community Voices Heard, United New York and Strong Economy For All are involved in the organization of the march.

Other affiliated protests and groups are or already have created demonstrations across the country.

You all know the banks are charging us a fee for using our debit cards?  This means at least another $60 of OUR MONEY that the banks are grabbing.

It's gonna be a big one tonight, that march to Wall Street.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

* The Glades * Season 1

The Glades is an A&E Network drama series starring Matt Passmore, who is an attractive fellow. His character, Jim Longworth, is anything but attractive, but actively dislikeable. At least this was so in the first episode. So much was he dislikeable that it's kind of a surprising I continued into the second episode. They'd immediately dialed his arrogant self-centered selfish assholery waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down. Nevertheless there remained a lot of blanks here -- it took at least until the 5th episode that I actually learned his name and about that long until I learned the name of the romantic interest, and I'm still not sure how it is spelled -- Calley? Kelly? Cali? Callie? I don't know what her last name is either (ah, Wiki says Cargill, which for me, midwesterner born, means the eviLe grain and commodies family monopoly), and can't remember the name of her son (Jeff). Yes, she's a mom with a husband in prison, who works as a nurse while in medical school. She has a dragon MIL, who guards Callie and her grandson from the utterly charming and obviously besotted (alas, MIL seems to have gotten lost along the way) Jim Longworth on behalf of her convict son. This loser husband's name was the first one I ever got -- Ray, since the name of his prison contains Ray's name -- Raiford.

Not the best television series by any means, but entirely shot in southern Florida, the locations are delightful eye candy, particularly as winter rolls every closer up here. Even walk-ons and generic passersby are mostly young, glossy and very pretty. What I do admire is that while keeping this show light entertainment the writers center each episode on a subject or activity that is endemic to Florida – Seminole casinos plus Seminole racism keeping Seminole-African descent peoples out of their tribe so they can’t collect the $7,000 a month stipend from said casinos – sunken treasure, -- golf --, paranormal practioners (Seance was weakest episode, even weaker than the first one) a high school reunion during a hurricane -- Big Sugar -- golf.

The other thing I truly admired about The Glades is that Callie's rival for Jim's affections is a pretty, very rich blonde, who works as a pharmaceutical salesperson. She is not a bitch -- Callie's the bitch here --. She's nice. She's fun. She's a cool person. Even though they named her Heather.

Whatever they are they center around, the focus is a murder, which Jim Longworth solves, with the noble support system of Callie, Colleen his African American Regional Director (who in the first episode was a hardass you didn't like anymore than Jim, but by the second ep they'd also dialed all that waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down too), a young Jewish grad student intern named Daniel, who functions as Willow does in Buffy, and my favorite character, Carlos Sanchez, a latino (though they carefully do not individualize of which background – Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Central American – who is the forensics guy.

And here are the verisimilitude problems. Carlos would not be a homicide detective's partner in the car. In fact, the entire organization and behavior of the FDLE (Florida Department of Legal Enforcement) makes a farce of the real FDLE, as well as providing surely much prettier faces. Like Raylon Givens in Justified (located in Kentucky), Jim Longworth operates as a lone wolf, skirting and breaking law and rule as he pleases. Unlike Raylon though, Jim never has reprecussions for his behaviors and always gets his man or woman. Both of them feed into the bottomless appetite of the U.S. audiences to see our police state portrayed as invincible supermen who are always right, who can be as violent as they please. But it is much lighter and more fun here in The Glades, which is clearly a fantasy world, without angst.
As Callie and Jim gave the audience what the writers surely believed the audience wanted in the last episode I'm not sure their relationship is going to be interesting any longer. I will check out the second season when it's available with no effort on my part, but I'm not expecting it to hold up as well as this first one did.

From A Long-time Amiga & Lister

The NY Times, along with the rest of the primary media, seem to be wishing that the Occupy Wall Street story would go away.  Meanwhile, responding to Ms. ExPat's piece yesterday on Occupy Wall Street, a friend in Israel writes:

[ " >It seems to be a replica of the social protest that gained such a momentum here over the summer. They were also accused of being "without focus", " middle class spoiled brats," "sushi and narghilas"  but they brought close to a 1/2 million people to the streets. that is the equivalent of 15 million people on the streets in the US (some say 25, I'm being conservative here). I feel there is an international movement framing itself here, and it's equivalent in its demands. It should not be underestimated, even if it seems unfocused. . . .

>If you look at what is happening in spain, chile, israel and other places, I think it's the same all over. the middle class in every country where capitalism has gone wild is being proletariarized. once they wake up and see that its not "the security situation" (here); the "recession" (the u.s.) but a trend borne of policy, young people start coming out. and they know how to organize and how to speak to power and how to write. it remains to be seen here whether real change will come after the tent city phase, but they have completely changed the discourse in the country. They have taken academics (economists, sociologists) to advise them on how to negotiate with the government, which is what is happening at the moment. here they have banded with low income folks, under the banner "the people demand social justice" and "welfare state". that's what they want, and according to the polls, 87% of the population identifies with this.  " ]

BTW, this particular friend is a member of one of Israeli's Founding Families.  Her first name is that of the first Spy Network-Service, that began in the 19-teens, in the Middle East, started by her great whatever grandfather.
It's probably unneccesary to say that she and her friends and immediate family are anti-war with the Palestinians, appalled by the state of Israel and its leadership and its U.S. supporters in these matters, and is among those out on the streets.  She's currently writing her dissertation in ethnomusicology.  Her M.A. thesis was on the music of the Jews of Ethiopia.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Personal Life Is All Good

I have been posting and will continue to post about the Occupy Wall Street movement here in NYC, and the ugly, stupid, counter-offensive launched by the primary media, not least public radio's NPR, and right here at home WNYC -- by first ignoring it is happening, and then when they kept it up, sneering at the people protesting that the Banksters are eating their present and future, and third lining up to tell us that they asked for illegal treatment by the cops.

But at home things are good. This doesn't mean that our friends aren't out there doing what they can to support the protesters -- this didn't happen in a void or out of nowhere.  In a way that the primary media is ignoring it's well-organized, planned, and had a lot of fore-thought for a long time going into it.

But still, I'm one of the privileged ones for whom things are going relatively well, at least for us.  I am feeling productive on at least three fronts at the same time -- and I cannot express how much what these protestors are doing for my own frame of mind.  Can you be more privileged, can you make any of this more about ME than that?

But it's still NYC in the fall and all kinds of events and actions are going on, and in one way and another we're part of that. There is nowhere like NYC in the fall to be energized with hope and action and productivity!

Corrente: Ms ExPat: Don't be afraid to say revolution!

Dr. Cornel West was at Zuccotti Park last night, and Ms. ExPat got video of it. Here's her account, but follow the link to her blogpost to see the video.

Also recommended today: Ralph Nader's article in Counterpunch on

[ " Don't Be Afraid to Say Revolution!

Wed, 09/28/2011 - 1:55am — MsExPat

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will smile from the grave/ And say, we movin' step by step/ Toward what he called a revolution/Don't be afraid to say, Revolution!"

"Cornel West is here", Milcho said, as we were wandering through Zuccotti Park at dusk. The sky was gray and it smelled like rain; people here and there were securing food, medicine, bedding, under plastic tarps. Milcho, Wendy and Amy and I came to Wall Street together tonight. I am corralling everyone I know to come to the Park to see this live and without filters. And you who are reading this, and can get here should come too, for this is history, friends!

We walked over to the meeting area, and sure enough, there was the unmistakable corona of hair, the too-long white shirtcuffs. We followed him up to the meeting area, sat down. And then watched as tonight's General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street unfolded:

It's late, and I'm too tired to write this well, but as the 11th night of Occupy Wall Street closes, I note a couple of new things:

1. Demographics: Changing, indeed. More diverse, different ages. Some union people, college professors doing teach-ins, old lefties having a look-see. Also: the front line of the media has officially landed. Yesterday it was Michael Moore, today Susan Sarandon. Matt Taibbi says he's visiting tomorrow. Moore is coming back tomorrow to film the General Assembly with Laurence O'Donnell for his MSNBC show. I think O'Donnell is a jerk, but if they just sit back and film the process of the meeting, that would be a real breakthrough in changing the MSM narrative, I think. Right now, most of the people I talk to in my daily life still think OWS is a hippie fest.

2. Cops: Now there are two kinds of blue shirts on the scene--the regular patrol cops, and the (kinder, gentler) Community liason cops in royal blue polo shirts. No white shirts. When the community police are around, you know someone is worried about image. What this says to me is that the city's decided that more violence would be really bad for optics.

3. The Organization--continues to dazzle! After West's remarks, the meeting began with reports from Outreach Committees (they've teamed up with an important black radio station in Philadelphia for Occupy Philly, and they're going to support the Verizon worker's union strike), from the Medics who've started a counseling service, from techies who are doing Linux and open source teach-ins, and from the Laundry Committee, who've washed everything. They've even organized morning tours of Wall Street, which they're offering free to passing tourists!

The most interesting report though was from the committee that's drafting Demands. This is the big media sticking point ("But What Do They Want? There's No Unified Message!").

The group is going to use the next few days to talk about demands. And then here's what they'll do: on Friday, they will spread blank sheets of white paper all across the park. Some will have topic headings, some will be all blank. Magic markers will then be distributed, and everyone will write, in large letters, the issues and goals they think are most important. If you agree with someone's poster, you can put a "Check".

Fascinating! It is actually rather Chinese in technique. It reminds me of the student Big Character Posters that appeared in Tienanmen Square.

After the writing exercise, they'll collect all the papers and collate them into a larger online manifesto, which can then be debated/modified/changed online in a Wikipedia-style collaboration.

4. Location, location location: It's becoming clearer that the choice of New York City, as opposed to say, Washington DC, for the launch of this effort, was genius. For what it says is, of course, that this movement is not about the US government. The real enemy is the Financial-Bankster complex. I have not heard or seen any mention of any political candidate or party inside the Park. Forget "post-partisan"--that was so 2008. This is a post-party movement. It is what we Correntians have been waiting for--but not in the form we expected!

5. Obama is dead, dead, dead. Really. These young people were his eager troops. And they've moved on. Way on. The talk on the ground is not about elections anymore. It's about transforming society.

That's it for now. I urge all of you who can to come to Wall Street if you possibly can make it. This is one of those moments when time seems to hover and pause, and focus is laser-sharp. It's a rare moment of collective creativity. Who could have guessed it would bloom now?
" ] 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


They got on a woman who,from John Jay College for Criminal Justice (justice, her? hah!), who sounded as though she was one of the torturers employed during Pinochet's "Dirty War" in Argentina, is supposedly an expert in violence. She blithely scolds us for our ignorance and over-reaction. The cops didn't do anything wrong pepper spraying those women, she instructs us. The problem is, she says, that violence isn't pretty so when we who aren't used to violence see those women who are confined in an orange net and then deliberately sprayed by cop, it's our problem because we don't like to see the non-prettiness of violence. But there wasn't a thing wrong done by the cops, you know. The young women got what they had to expect to get BY THEIR VIOLENCE FOR MARCHING PEACEFULLY.

You should probably be able to hear it here:

The Guardian: NYPD Officer, Anthony Bologna, Civil Rights Violator

This is from the US edition of the Guardian, which is completely different from the UK edition, but even so: it's a British newspaper, and they've been way out in front of the NY Times on this . . .

[ " Anthony Bologna, NYPD officer named in pepper-spray incident, is accused of civil rights violations at the time of the 2004 Republican national convention protests

Karen McVeigh, Monday 26 September 2011 19.46 EDT

A senior New York police officer accused of pepper-spraying young women on the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations is the subject of a pending legal action over his conduct at another protest in the city.

The Guardian has learned that the officer, named by activists as deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, stands accused of false arrest and civil rights violations in a claim brought by a protester involved in the 2004 demonstrations at the Republican national convention.

Then, 1,800 people were arrested during protests against the Iraq war and the policies of president George W Bush.

Alan Levine, a civil rights lawyer representing Post A Posr, a protester at the 2004 event, told the Guardian that he filed an action against Bologna and another officer, Tulio Camejo, in 2007. The case, filed at the New York Southern District Court, is expected to be heard next year.

Levine said that when he heard about the pepper spray incident "a bunch of us were wondering if any of the same guys were involved".

The lawyer said Posr was arrested on 31 August 2004, after he approached the driver of a Volkswagen festooned with anti-abortion slogans.

His arrest was not directly related to the protest against the Republican convention, but was at a time of heightened tension in New York.

Levine said: "Police contend that Posr hit the man with a rolled-up newspaper. He said he was just talking to the guy. Bologna ordered another officer, Camejo, to arrest Posr."

Posr was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of second degree harassment, and held until September 2. On November 8, all charges against him were dropped.

Levine said that, in a departure from normal police procedure, his client was held in a special detention facility, at Pier 57, where he and others arrested were held until the protests were over.

The Guardian asked the NYPD to respond to the naming of the officer and the allegation that he was previously the subject of a civil rights complaint, but a spokesman said the department had not yet decided whether to comment.

Bologna's name appeared on Twitter and on activists' websites after the incident on Saturday. YouTube footage appears to show a white-shirted NYPD officer firing the spray into the eyes of the protesters, who are penned in by other officers with orange netting. As the officer walks away, two of the women crumple to the ground, screaming in pain.

There were a number of clashes between protesters and police at the march, when protesters moved uptown from their base at a park in the Financial District. There were about 80 arrests.

Hacker collective Anonymnous claimed responsibility on Monday for posting Bologna's details, which they said was in retribution for the pepper-spray incident.

The online postings identified Bologna as a deputy inspector of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, and revealed his phone number and family details.

The information, posted on a site called Pastebin, included a statement which read: "As we watched your officers kettle innocent women, we observed you barbarically pepper-spray wildly into the group of kettled women. We were shocked and disgusted by your behaviour."

"You know who the innocent women were; now they will have the chance to know who you are. Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice. WE ARE WATCHING!!! Expect Us!"

Since the post, other activists have followed suit, urging people to call his precinct to complain or to call him directly.

The move drew a mixed response from the Occupy Wall Street activists who have been camped out in Zuccotti Park for nine days. Many say they were angry about the "brutal and unnecessary" tactics used by police at the weekend.

Hero Vincent, 28, an artist from the Bronx, said: "I think it should be out there, so that people know what's going on and if people want to enter his precinct and ask that he should be fired, they can. We are a peaceful protest. For them to attack us is wrong."

Vincent, who was arrested for resisting arrest on Saturday, claimed he was kicked in the stomach by officers.

But there was also disquiet over the officer's family details being made public.

Another protester, who did not want to be named, told the Guardian: "My dad is a police officer and he got a lot of death threats. I don't know if his family details should be out there. But if the information is correct and he has a rights case against him, I'm extremely concerned that he was put into what was a very tense situation."

One protester, Jeanne Mansfield – who said she was standing so close to the women sprayed in the face that her own eyes burned – claimed other NYPD officers had expressed disbelief at the actions of the senior officer.

In a
vivid account of the incident in the Boston Review, Mansfield said: "A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Lieutenant Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream 'No! Why are you doing that?!'"

Despite her attempts to turn away from the "unavoidable" spray, Mansfield, who took part in Saturday's march with her boyfriend on a whim after "stumbling across" it, said she suffered burning and temporary blindness in her left eye and tears streaming down her face.

She continued: "In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, 'I can't believe he just fuckin' maced her.'"

Oh dear, the NY Times tells us: the problem is the NYPD is trained to handle much bigger events than this, soooooooooooooooo ......

[ "
The police’s actions suggested the flip side of a force trained to fight terrorism, in a city whose police commissioner acknowledges the ownership of a gun big enough to take down a plane, but that may appear less nimble in dealing with the likes of the Wall Street protesters. So even as the members of Occupy Wall Street seem unorganized and, at times, uninformed, their continued presence creates a vexing problem for the Police Department. " ]

I don't know about you, but I worry about a police department that can't tell the difference between a protest of economic conditions and a terrorist event.

This is the real point:

[ " “I can see it from a demonstrator’s view, asking, ‘What changed?’ ” Mr. Richter said. “But there comes a point when the command staff makes a decision that the crowd is too big, and we’re at a breaking point, and we have to take back the street.” " ]

In other words the cops are sick of these people, who march once a day, and are interferring with their comfy routine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Live, Eye Witness Report From Zuccotti Park

One of the most interesting eye witnesses to this is a journalist friend who lives out of the country much of the time, and is fluent in several languages. She's also a musician so she hears as well as sees.

You can see what she says about Zucotti Park affairs here. The piece, about yesterday, up today, is titled "The People's Microphone."

09/25/11: NYT: Joseph Goldstein: Videos show police using pepper spray at protest

It took a second day to get this article in the NYT, which, though it gives the police every benefit of doubt and minimizes the extent of what they did, begins to acknowledge that the police mistreated protestors. (It should be noted that, as every writer knows, much of the spin in news articles, including the Times, happens in the editing and the headline- and caption-writing.)

I don't think we'd have seen this piece at all without that
video of the girls getting pepper-sprayed by a white-collar cop, which has now been clicked 681,315 times. And here's a slo-mo analysis of the incident. Or this video, or this one, or this one, or this one. Or . . . this one, which contains no violence but is intense. And here are stills, including a sequence of a drummer being brutalized. Later we'll talk about the role of drums in this, to say nothing of rapping. The policeman who sprayed the girls' faces is being identified by name on the chat stream of the live-witness channel ( along with an appeal to call Mayor Bloomberg's office and demand that he be fired.

Meanwhile, this article doesn't mention anyone being thrown face first to the ground (police "shoved"), or a knee on anyone's throat.

[ " September 25, 2011
Videos Show Police Using Pepper Spray at Protest on the Financial System

For a few moments on Saturday, the confrontations between the police and the protesters just south of Union Square in Manhattan seemed fairly typical. People pushed, the police shoved and arrests were made, and in the many videos recording the protest, it was not always clear which of the three had come first.

As the police arrested a protester in the street, an officer wearing a white shirt — indicating a rank of lieutenant or above — walked toward a group of demonstrators nearby and sent a blast of pepper spray that hit four women, the videos show.

Numerous videos and photos captured the aftermath: two women crumpled on the sidewalk in pain, one of them screaming. They were temporarily blinded, one of the women, Chelsea Elliott, said.

Ms. Elliott, 25, who was not arrested, acknowledged that “there were some rough people out there” at the protests. She and the other women were penned in behind police netting meant for crowd control. But, she said, neither she nor the women around her did anything to warrant having pepper spray used on them.

“Out of all the people they chose to spray, it was just me and three other girls,” she said Sunday in a telephone interview. “I’m not pushing against anybody, or trying to escape.”

The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police had used the pepper spray “appropriately.”

“Pepper spray was used once,” he added, “after individuals confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying a mesh barrier — something that was edited out or otherwise not captured in the video.”

Since Sept. 17, a few hundred protesters have occupied Zuccotti Park on Liberty Street and Broadway, seeking attention for what they say is a financial system that is unjust and flawed. They have embarked on a series of daily marches near Wall Street, but their march to Union Square on Saturday was their largest and most ambitious.

Returning to the financial district from Union Square, many protesters used University Place, and the demonstration spilled into the street with protesters walking against traffic. The police put up mesh nets to prevent them from going any farther down University Place, and many of the demonstrators ended up on East 12th Street.

Ms. Elliott was one of several protesters on East 12th Street who had been corralled behind the plastic netting, which was being held by a line of police officers.

Ms. Elliott said she spent part of the time trying to engage the police officer nearest her in a conversation about pensions.

“I’m just trying to converse with them in a civilized manner, and tell them I’m a civilized human being,” Ms. Elliott said. She remembered saying, “Stop! Why are you doing this?” in response to an arrest not far away, but doing nothing else to attract attention.

“A cop in a white shirt — I think he’s a superior officer — just comes along and does these quick little spritzes of pepper spray in my and these three other girls’ eyes,” she added. The officer’s identity was not provided by the police.

The scene around Ms. Elliott verged on the unruly on Saturday. The police made arrests in the area on charges not only of disorderly conduct and impeding traffic, but also of inciting to riot and assaulting a police officer. About 80 people were arrested; some spent the night in jail and were arraigned on Sunday.

Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the protesters, said he believed that pepper spray was used several times on Saturday. “I think it is very fair to call it police brutality,” he said.

The Police Department rarely uses pepper spray as a means of crowd control. Although the police used it during a large-scale antiwar protest in 2003, it was not used with much frequency during the protests associated with the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, although they were some of the largest demonstrations in the city in years.

“We don’t use it indiscriminately like other cities do,” said Thomas Graham, a retired deputy chief who until last year commanded the department’s Disorder Control Unit. “You’re not just spraying indiscriminately into a crowd.”

Police officers, he said, “have the choice between spraying the guy or struggling with the guy with the night stick,” he said, adding, “Get poked with a nightstick good and hard and you might have a cracked rib from that.”

Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.
" ]

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More FollowUps to the Wall Street Protests

El V made the protests the point of da List today -- and by golly even WNYC has a story on it -- on its website, and another, earlier one -- but the story was not on their broadcast news. The commentary is bitter and angry with WNYC's coverage that is also slanted to make the protesters look violent and stupid -- commentary by people who were there yesterday, as bystanders, accidentally. Again, the NYC cops went out of control.

From da List:
[ " The slogan is, "We are the 99%."

Do not worry about these protests, capital. At least for now. Y'all can go back to figuring out how best to short-sell the euro. As Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado assured the National
City Bank of New York back in the 1920s, "there will be absolute guarantees for businesses . . . there are sufficient forces to repress all disorder." But that was before the crash.

We first became aware that the Occupy Wall Street protests had achieved some kind of traction when one day last week the noise was audible from our home as the march moved down along the channels permitted by the police, from Union Square to Wall Street. But we couldn't immediately find out what it was.

If thirty people dress up and call themselves a tea party, the national media is there. The Occupy Wall Street protest, now in its second week, has mostly been in a news blackout. Until people got arrested it didn't count, but the arrest of at least 80 people yesterday has been hard to ignore, and if the movement can keep it up and make good on its claim to spread the protests to other cities, it will get even harder to ignore, though of course what makes the "mainstream media" the mainstream media is what they choose to ignore. (In this connection, I note that the MSM's copious face time given to the most extreme of right-wingers essentially confers mainstream status on them.)

Our useless public radio station, WNYC, ran a brief article on their website yesterday that, with only a couple of pictures, appeared to depict the protestors as old-school communists. The comments were more informative than the article, as per:

>I was there yesterday with my daughter and I saw no signs about socialism. I just saw police out of control. The police blocked the traffic with their plastic fence. I saw the police sweep up 12th Street between University and 5th, at around 3pm, telling
all the shopowners and restaurants on the south side of the street to lock their
doors. They then circled people on the south side sidewalk with the plastic
fence they carried and started arresting everyone. Their intention was to arrest
everyone on the block. If any investigator/reporter wants to know the truth just
ask the commercial tenants on the south side of 12th Street about the
premeditated police mass arrest action. The people on the sidewalk were not
obstructing anything. I had nothing to do with the people on the sidewalk or the
police. I was just walking in my neighborhood with my daughter. I stood on the
12th street north side sidewalk watching all of this. When I asked a police
officer why they were arresting everyone on the south side he told me to go home
or else I would also be arrested. That is exactly what I saw and heard.

In the case of the New York Times, a particularly smarmy
article by Gina Bellafante, higher-listed on their website than the
factual-reportage article, focuses on the clueless to tut-tut the young
protestors' lack of political knowledge. Her lede was a 37-year-old woman
stripping to her panties in public. (What's the difference between the Times
and a tabloid? A tab would have had a picture.) Yes, we have a problem with
political education in this country -- and with any kind of education, as anyone
who teaches undergraduates can tell you. But for me, it's hard to see the Occupy
Wall Streeters (who are mostly considerably younger than 37) as any less
informed than the people who dress up as Uncle Sam and claim social security is
a Ponzi scheme. Those people are in general treated quite respectfully as a
legitimate slice of public opinion -- and they won't get pepper-sprayed by the
police, either.

Perhaps revealing a gap in her own political education,
Ms. Bellefante writes dismissively of "the opportunity to air societal
grievances as carnival." But carnival and political consciousness have a long
history of intertwining, and this movement is at least groping toward
a political consciousness. Some of the people who have
put themselves on the line here seem to have a clear idea of what they're
doing. Granted, convulsive destruction of property gets more respect from
journalists, to say nothing of self-immolation.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an assiduous defender of the interests of his class, has a horror of the -- he's referred to it more than once -- and the New York police are experienced practitioners of kettling. This week, the preferred police tactic is netting. They use big orange nets -- day-glo orange, the color of repression -- to cordon off protestors as if they were schools of tuna, fencing them in and holding them. Then, if is any indication, they pepper-spray those caught in their web. Granted, that's pretty lightweight compared to, say, this video from Syntagma
Square in Athens on June 29.

As you might imagine, the people arrested and those around them are social media-izing like crazy. (I saw a new word, when someone was encouraged to keep up the "retweetage.") One aggregator is ,, and there's a live streaming camera plus chat at . A number of videos and stills are posted at A national-protest website is A "we are the 99%" poster is downloadable at

Demonstrators a Sotheby's auction on Thursday, protesting Sotheby's union-busting against the IBT 814 Art Handlers Union. And according to, there was a moment on Thursday when Occupy Wall Street and a march in support of Troy Davis converged in the street "in a cathartic and compelling moment that the police did not expect. More than a thousand people were now overrunning the streets of lower Manhattan, and they were able to push their way on to Wall Street together."

The Times article by Colin Moynihan below might leave you with the impression that the arrests yesterday did not involve tasering, tackling, and punching, but check this video (in which "Justice for Troy Davis" signs are visible) . . . " ]  {I quoted from it in the previous post}

Arrests Yesterday -- Follow-up to *Working for Amazon Is Hot As Hell*

Finally the NY Times gives it some coverage today, since people got arrested yesterday. The slant is definitely one of snark and sneer.

It's very well written, scoring point after point off the protestors.

[ " Last week brought a disheartening coupling of statistics further delineating the city’s economic divide: The Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, which included more than 50 New Yorkers whose combined net worth totaled $211 billion, arrived at the same moment as census data showing that the percentage of the city’s population living in poverty had risen to 20.1 percent. And yet the revolution did not appear to be brewing. " ]

[ " The group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgably is unsettling in the face of the challenges so many of its generation face — finding work, repaying student loans, figuring out ways to finish college when money has run out. But what were the chances that its members were going to receive the attention they so richly deserve carrying signs like “Even if the World Were to End Tomorrow I’d Still Plant a Tree Today”?
One day, a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Adam Sarzen, a decade or so older than many of the protesters, came to Zuccotti Park seemingly just to shake his head. “Look at these kids, sitting here with their Apple computers,” he said. “Apple, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. It trades at $400 a share. Do they even know that?” ]

It's Hot As Hell Inside

[ Inside Amazon's warehouse
Lehigh Valley workers tell of brutal heat, dizzying pace at online retailer.
By Spencer Soper, Of The Morning Call

10:34 PM EDT, September 17, 2011
Allentown, Pa.

Elmer Goris spent a year working in's Lehigh Valley warehouse, where books, CDs and various other products are packed and shipped to customers who order from the world's largest online retailer.

The 34-year-old Allentown resident, who has worked in warehouses for more than 10 years, said he quit in July because he was frustrated with the heat and demands that he work mandatory overtime. Working conditions at the warehouse got worse earlier this year, especially during summer heat waves when heat in the warehouse soared above 100 degrees, he said.

He got light-headed, he said, and his legs cramped, symptoms he never experienced in previous warehouse jobs. One hot day, Goris said, he saw a co-worker pass out at the water fountain. On other hot days, he saw paramedics bring people out of the warehouse in wheelchairs and on stretchers.

"I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one," Goris said. "They can do that because there aren't any jobs in the area."

Goris' complaints are not unique. ],0,7937001,full.story

[ "Over the past two months, The Morning Call interviewed 20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment. They offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it's like to work in the Amazon warehouse, where temperatures soar on hot summer days, production rates are difficult to achieve and the permanent jobs sought by many temporary workers hired by an outside agency are tough to get.

Only one of the employees interviewed described it as a good place to work.

Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well, workers said.

During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat
stress. Those who couldn't quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.

An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an "unsafe environment" after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor's report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat. ]

There is much more, and it's all horrifying. End slavery at Amazon. This is the single retail success this nation has had and it's built like this.

Today I saw yet again another march of the students and the young people, of ethnic heritage diversity -- and they are all young, either still in school or graduated recently with thousands of debt and no jobs available to pay it off -- who are protesting all week down at Wall Street. Among the constant broadcast is CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE. These people all looked healthy, well-nourished, with those perfect, even white teeth that means much money spent by parents at the dentists when young. Their children won't have braces and caps though.

By the way you haven't heard about this week-long sit-in protest at Wall Street, have you? Yet it is making for a lot of cop overtime, and they march every day. Once they were even 'kettled' (the term cops use for crowd control, to keep everybody in a crowd / demonstration in one place so they don't spread out) right here on my street, with either end blocked by cops and their cars and their horses.

Friday, September 23, 2011

*Steel Bonnets*

The quoted material below is copied from George MacDonald Fraser (yes, he who created Flashman, etc.), his history of the Borderlanders, Steel Bonnets (1971). This follows a chapter that lists the great Borderlander families with graphs of their internicine feuds, intermarriages, alliances and conflicts, whether on the English side or the Scots side of the border, centered on the 16th century. His arc argument is these families were more in tune with each other and more allied with each other despite the ferocity of their crimes against each other than with those who claimed administrative and legal sovereignty over the regions in question. He describes the history and reasons for this; these lands are where the English and the Scots literally battled each other for defense or sovereignty, thus this was a region that was always suffering the conditions of war. That said, however, it's clear: their criminality could not be put in the shade even by the mafia and their families' activities on Sicily, in Italy, or in the U.S. The difference was that the scope of their activities was confined to the borderlands. 

The following comes from the opening chapter titled, "The Game and the Song," beginning on page 77.

[ "Like so many warlike people, the Borderers were sports enthusiasts, and still are. The little Scottish towns, with their small catchment areas, produce Rugby teams that compare with the biggest club sides anywhere; within living memory th wrestlers of Cumberland, farm boys and Saturday afternoon amateurs, could send out a team to meet the best in the world and beat them. 
There was no Rugby in the sixteenth century, but there was "football," the father of Rugby, Soccer, and the American game.

In its primitive form it lingers today in places like Jedburgh and Workington, where most of the young male population is supposed to take part and the playing area covers the whole town. The old Borderers loved their football, and on the Scottish side even the nobility joined in, despite the laws against "fitbawis, gouff, or uthir sic unproffitable sportis". [One of the joys of this book is that MacDonald quotes so much from the texts of the period without changing the spelling for our contemporary eyes.] Mary Queen of Scots once watched a two-hour match on the meadow beneath Carlisle Castle, and Francis, Earl Bothwell, the notorious "King Devil", played the game on the Esk with other "declarit traitours to his Majesty" in 1592. He occasionally played dirty too, if we can accept Robert Bowes' accont of an earlier match in which "some quarrel happened betwixt Bothwell and the Master of Marishal upon a stroke given at football on Bothwell's leg by the Master, after that the Master had received a sore fall by B thwell." Every football fan will recognize this squence of events; obviously some things about the game have not changed. Following the incident Bothwell and the Master agreed to meet secretly next day to fight the matter out, and the king had to intervene.

Football incidents were not always so trivial, however. One match, the fore-runner of the Scotland v. England internationsl, perhaps, resulted in slaughter. It happened in 1599, when six Armstrongs came to Bewcastle to play a match against six of the local English boys, and after the game there was "drynkyng hard at Bewcastle house". However, it happened that a Mr William Ridley, an Englishman, "knowing the continual haunt and receipt the great thieves and arch murderers of Scotland had with the captain of Bewcastle", determined to capture the Armstrong footballers while they were on English ground. No sportman, he assembled his friends and lay in wait, but somehow the Armstrongs had been tipped off, and Mr Ridley's ambush party found themselves suddenly set on by more than 200 riders. Ridley and two of his friends were killed, thirty taken prisoner, "and many sore hurt, expecially John Whytfeild whose bowells came out, but are sowed up again."

The result of the game is not recorded.

Even more popular was horse-racing ...." ]

Why am I reading this book, other than it is an interesting read? The dates of this era's timeline take in those of Jamestown and the first settlements in the Caribbean and North America by the English. The names -- these names are on the roll call of the Confederacy, for another, with, of course, many others. I've read accounts of sporting events in the south in the late 17th century and 18th century that were no different in event than these. Albion's Seed's four British folkways in action! This book was written and published long before David Hackett-Fischer published this seminal study -- for which even today the Scots Irish among others revile him. In response I say to that -- read the biography of Andrew Jackson.
Another reason I bring up this book is football and how ancient is the passionate adoration of the sport lodged in the breasts of those who invented it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

*The Fallen Blade,* *Twelve,* & a Lot of Stream of Consciousness -- I Am Tired!

The Fallen Blade, (2011) Act I of the Assassini Trilogy by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, was an excellent read, and it reads very fast, while very well written. The author has written a great deal professionally in his previous decades as a journalist and magazine writer, for which he's traveled extensively. He knows a fair amount of languages that aren't English and how they work. All this by way of saying he's a professional and his professionalism shows.

It was a good thing that the cover copy and the reviews never mentioned that this novel set in an 'alternate' 15th century Venice contained a vampire -- who evidently isn't a vampire, just acts like one-- and werewolves -- who are werewolves evidently -- for then I surely would have passed on the novel. One is getting surfeited with vamps by now, yea verily, even beyond surfeited, though they will never be surfeited therefore vamps will never go away, but always rise again.

Good grief, even the perfectly pretty people of The Vampire Diaries Season 2 were tiresome, but then season 2 wasn't as interesting and was more formulaic than Season 1. Yes indeedy, we must have werewolves and the oldest vampire blahblahblah -- the best thing was Caroline, even though she got turned, but she's a good vampire and it improved her personality a thousand-fold. The second best thing was this is a small southern town and public-minded activities that corral all the high school students are held every weekend, and when they are not do-good events, then they celebrate the history of the town and its local power elite families. Students participate as labor in these activities instead of attending classes and learning things. Ayup -- that is a realistic small southern community. At least now we know what makes a good girl good -- and that's why Elena is the goodest of good girls, even though she sexes it up with a vamp -- she doesn't want to be a vamp herself! But I digress.

It was clear there was a vampire in ye Blade immediately, and I was disappointed for this made me suspicious that here was another novel - series like Twelve: (2009) The Danilov Quintet: Book 1, by Jasper Kent, which has vampires eating Moscow during the Napoleonic invasion, except this is Venice and the 15th century. The two books do have a lot of similarities, including way too much of rape, but Grimwood is the more skilled writer, the more entertaining writer; not for him the error of writing a whole fantasy series in a first person narrator - point of view, and his pacing pulls you along. His female characters are a varied lot, but even the less than secondaries are people -- you see them, you feel for them and with them. Nor do they utter the formulaic l dumbass lines that pass these days for wit and witty repartee. Plus, he gives you a surprise when you need one, instead of your expectation of "O yeah, here we go again, the same formula."

Venice and the Renaissance Mediterranean, and mercatile adventurers and Turks and all the rest are more colorful and fun than Moscow, winter and famine, so that's not a fair comparison perhaps. Another element these two books have in common, which is a positive thing, when it comes to fantasy: both authors firmly anchored their tales in our historical world, with their accompanying locations and events. This is why they aren't the kind of tasteless cardboard that a lot of secondary world fantasy can be. There is a solid foundation for the fiction that allows for a depth of field that I at least, really miss in most secondary fantasy that supposedly is made up whole cloth. But then, alternate historical fantasies anchored by our world, have their own problems too, many a time and in a many a way. Again, distracted!

To be honest, the Blade's ending was a little hard to swallow -- after all water hurts Tycho, and he wasn't wearing his Special Boots with earth in the soles, and even at the beginning when he escapes into the water, that didn't seem to hurt him -- but let's not let continuity get in our way -- or even facts, as in Avatar: The Last Air Bender, at the South Pole, and all those women in their made-of snow villages keep feeding wood to their village fire ... wood. Where did they get wood in Penguinlandia? When did Antarctica get a population of humans? The program's preamble for those who are just seeing the current episode and not what's gone before, has a map of the world that is all islands -- and even the use of "Avatar," that seems lifted from Earthsea -- or am I mis-remembering Earthsea? Another distraction! Nevermind, it's a cute kids' show, and it's fantasy, so we don't need to be hyper-factual here.

I was so buzzed from last night I couldn't sleep even though it was 3 AM, so I stayed up and finished Blade. I was sorry I didn't have the second one right now, and it is seldom I feel that way about a series these days. Yes, I recommend this one, whereas Twelve and its first person narrator in particular is dreary.

But Blade and Twelve cleared up what I've been trying to figure out about the hype of the New! Improved! Edgy! Gritty! Realistic! fantasy -- what do they mean? What they mean is that we can debase, demean and rape women -- and TORTURE TOO! -- to our hearts content because we're keepin' it real here in our fantasy worlds. O dear. I'm wondering what the next New! Improved! Not Like What Went Before Us! fantasy will be. Probably fantasy reviewers can tell us.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Carry On Thinking

You all have noticed that the neocon/t-bagger talking head economists have flatly stated this last week that the banks are on strike -- Greenspan's Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged religion is realizing its greatest fantasy, of the wealthy hiding out in a well-stocked Wyoming mountain stronghold to watch the world die from the lack of their sustenance, from which they will emerge into the inevitable rubble and profound submissive gratitude of those who now understand that without the vastly selfishly wealthy they are NOTHING, you hear us, NOTHING!, the global emperors of the entire grateful and submissive -- did we mention the submission? -- earth.  After which surely they shall go to war with each other in order to be THE ONE to Bind Them to ME, THE ONE to Rule Them All.  Recall as well, in that Atlas Shrugged fantasy, only one of them has a girl, and she's the ONLY girl  ....
Moreover, it's impossible not to notice how many articles there have been in the last 24 months of so, of how good it would be for us to eat insects for our protein needs, and descriptions of what and how to prepare and eat them. These food columns are in the primary media owned by the members of this class that is living the Atlas Shrugged dream.
From this AM's da List:
Meanwhile, a friend just pointed me to Adam Curtis's blog The Medium is the Message. It contains a lot of embedded archival video (Curtis is a filmmaker for the BBC), so that simply reproducing the text of a post would miss the point. I'll come back to this later, when I finish something new I'm writing, but meanwhile, you can get lost in this blog for days. As a teaser, here's the lede of a long recent piece -- this is just the opening -- and to give you an idea of the range, this history of free-market crusaders and think-tanking in Britain also embeds a half-hour 1965 documentary about Screaming Lord Sutch, which is actually germane to the story, because pirate radio is part of this history . . . though i prefer to see "free market" in scare quotes . . .
The Curse of Tina
The guiding idea at the heart of today's political system is freedom of choice. The belief that if you apply the ideals of the free market to all sorts of areas in society, people will be liberated from the dead hand of government. The wants and desires of individuals then become the primary motor of society.

But this has led to a very peculiar paradox. In politics today we have no choice at all. Quite simply There Is No Alternative.

That was fine when the system was working well. But since 2008 there has been a rolling economic crisis, and the system increasingly seems unable to rescue itself. You would expect that in response to such a crisis new, alternative ideas would emerge. But this hasn't happened.

Nobody - not just from the left, but from anywhere - has come forward and tried to grab the public imagination with a vision of a different way to organise and manage society.
It's a bit odd - and I thought I would tell a number of stories about why we find it impossible to imagine any alternative. Why we have become so possessed by the ideology of our age that we cannot think outside it.

The first story is called:


It is about the rise of the modern Think Tank and how in a very strange way they have made thinking impossible.

Think Tanks surround politics today and are the very things that are supposed to generate new ideas. But if you go back and look at how they rose up - at who invented them and why - you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite - to endlessly prop up and reinforce today's accepted political wisdom.

So successful have they been in this task that many Think Tanks have actually become serious obstacles to really thinking about new and inspiring visions of how to change society for the better.
It is also a fantastically rich story about English life that takes you into a world that's a bit like Jonathan Coe's wonderful novel 'What a Carve Up', but for real. It is a rollicking saga that involves all sorts of things not normally associated with think tanks - chickens, pirate radio, retired colonels, Jean Paul Sartre, Screaming Lord Sutch, and at its heart is a dramatic and brutal killing committed by one of the very men who helped bring about the resurgence of the free market in Britain. . . .

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Joys of A Bookish Life

You know that sudden expansion of everything that happens sometimes when entirely new dimensions open up in an area you know pretty well?  It's like the room in which you are working just got larger, more airy, more filled with sunshine.  Your body feels correspondingly lighter, your heart feels lighter and your mind feels bigger.

I am having a week of this, thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, Owen Wister and Frederic Remington. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Latest *Jane Eyre* -- *Larkrise to Candleford* 4

Jane Eyre (2011). from BBC Films. 2 hours and 1 minute. Don't bother, particularly if you've watched other Jane Eyre television and movie versions. Nothing new here, and so flat and tasteless as to make cardbored (stet). Does it need to be added that the hair of the actress playing Jane is much too light -- nearly blonde! -- and she's much too pretty?Not that matters in the least. If ever there was a work that deals in emotions it was Jane Eyre. This version is a sketch of the book with no emotion, no detail, no point.

The very much shorter than the previous ones, season 4 of Larkrise to Candleford was an acceptable way to escape stresses. It's good there will be no more though. Since Brendan Coyle, Laura's father, left to become Lord Grantham's valet at Downton Abbey, one of the primary hearts of the series was absent. The couplings at the end were not entirely satisfactory. Am I wrong? Aren't Alf and flighty, silly Minnie a bad match for each other, even with impulsive, loose-moraled Caroline home from the prison house? Alf's marrying Minnie, and you know the babies will come 1-2-3-4-5-6. Minnie has never shown the slightest talent for managing -- anything. Alf refused a really good position training crews to handle the new steam harvest machine for the big landowners in favor of a'staying on the land,' the land that isn't his and belongs to the Big Landowner investing in the steam harvest machine and harvest crews. How long does Alf think he's going to stay on that land harvesting by scythe? He'll be forced into joining one of those seasonal crews in the end, for far smaller pay, rather than this offered high-paying full-time position, with future advancement certain.

Ah well, Alf will be dead in a few years in the trenches of WWI. Minnie and all those kids will beg in the streets until Dorcas Lane takes them all on because she's grieving the loss of her adopted son, Sydney, who went to war as a surgeon and died of some horrid disease. Dorcas, having lost the post office and the forge to progress welcomes the chance of occupation -- and Minnie's grateful servitude, as Dorcas's income is severely reduced.

However, the bright spot is charmed Laura.  Her young man, the newspaper publisher, editor and journalist, now husband, will probably not die in WWI, but he will risk his life reporting from the fronts, loving every minute of it. In that time Laura will manage to squeeze out a novel between two pregnancies, which will have a mild success, will not be able to have the time to write again for herself until her middle-age, when she writes her memoir of growing up in a world that no longer exists.  This sells in numbers beyond anyone's expectations or dreams. After the death of Daniel and Laura, their children learn that during the war their father had a passionate liaison with a French dressmaker.  Laura and Daniel's youngest daughter is determined to find the sister she never knew she had, born out of her father's Great Adventure. Life goes on.

El V's had a wonderful, profitable, productive (of more work) time in Colombia. He gets home tonight about 1 AM. I so glad. I missed the fellow, though I myself was far more productive alone these last 8 days. I wrote a lot of pages, by golly. Still, I'm so glad he's on the way home.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where The Squirrels Play: The Memorialized Immortal 9/11 Dead

Unlike ten years ago, today was cloudy, cool and clammy.

I thought I was going to the subway and head uptown to Grant's tomb since the bushwa and O touring companies had left town for appearances in other parts of the country. Just knowing b2 was here brings up the hatred and contempt we felt about him that day and for days after -- and will feel forever. He was pusillanimous, hiding in a hole somewhere, so that even Guiliani, trapped by his own arrogant idiocy and thus couldn't go anywhere else, looked good in comparison. b2 never came to NYC until over four days later. No Fidel is b2. And then b2 lied and lied and lied and lied us not just into war, but into the wrong war, in which our people are still being wounded and killed.

Anyway, my feet kept going when I got to the corner of Spring and Ave. of the Americas. Once on that path I continued to the Hudson, as I do so often. Down there is my back yard. The traffic, either pedestrian or vehicle, was light, which probably had a subsconscious effect on my feet. Maybe I'm still trying to reclaim the River Walk and the park, as still has not been possible for me to do since that day, when so much of what was rightfully mine as a citizen of NYC, who lives in this part of it, and helps pay for it, was taken from me by this, that and the other organizations, institutions, the military, the police, Homeland Security -- as it was taken from all the rest of us to whom it rightfully belongs.  It is still not entirely given back to us, ten years later.

The Museum of the New York Fire Department though, here on Spring Street, was packed with visitors coming in and hanging out, whereas it has been closed almost all the time since the 2008 financial crash budget cuts. There were many firefighters in their dress uniforms with medals galore. When I returned from my three hour peregrination down to the end of the island, the sidewalk was packed with firemen, who were hung on by young women dressed in what they thought was hot. They were not of the professional Fashion Week sets who currently are having their annual autumn NYC rendevous. Vomit was also present.
The Hudson river is still excrement brown, browner than we've ever seen it, though not as high as last week. All that that Hurricane Irene rain and flood run-off, and the run-off from the following rains out of Lee, is still running off.
The yacht marina at the World Financial Center was full up. Their owners displayed themselves to each other and to us little people who pay taxes, while they drank wine and champagne and scotch, chatted with each other about their planned winter cruises down into the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Why, yes, we could hear them. Why, yes, the billionaires are partying like it's 1999 because this day ten years ago threw them one windfall after another, all at my / our expense as little people who pay taxes.

Lots of young fellows wearing t-shirts that declared NYPD and NYFD, who were not cops, were not firefighters, rolled along the shoreline paths marked "Pedestrians," "Bikers," "Runners." Again, not so many people as I expected (though the bikers still did their best to kill me on the clearly markes Pedestrian Only paths, when right next to it was the clearly marked, much wider bike way ... do bikers dislike and fear their fellows as much as we pedestrians do?). Police vehicles in vast herds parked all along the way to Battery Park, with clusters of their riders hanging out around their mounts.

I'm not sure it was a good idea to have gone down there or not. I wept to the music of a military brass group playing at Battery Park, which is now flag grove after flag grove, memorializing the immortal 9/11 dead. Squirrels played gaily among the aisles of the flags that proclaimed "we will always remember we will never forget." Each plastic fiber flag has the names of all those who died that day printed on it.

I don't know if I was crying because of Kris -- it’s the anniversary of my baby sister's death too this week -- Mom, Dad, Lou, Fernando, Ronnie and all those dear others who we lost along the way, or because it is more than ever clear how our lives broke that day to before and after, even though we have other befores and afters, and we've had them since that day as well,.  Maybe was I crying because My Person wasn't here to elp me keep the terror of the unhopeful future at bay.

Maybe I cried because this is NYC and nothing is immortal here. My first professional work as an historian was at the Fraunces Tavern Museum, and my study was the history of the city. I can name you city disasters that killed more people than 9/11, and each time it was solemnly vowed "We will never forget. Your names will live among the stars forever." Now nobody even knows the disasters occurred except some historians.
On the way back I watched the Paul Taylor dance company's performance with the Orchestra of St. Luke's -- Bach -- titled Brandenburgs. There was a whole program of  dancers and musicians, sponsored by the Joyce Dance Theater in the meadow. Evidently the Joyce was one of the few representatives of the arts here in NYC to receive any of the appropriation$ for the 9/11 observances.  If any artists should be included in this it seems to me that the dancers and musicians are them ....  The arts all together were obvious by their absence in the lists of activities for this weekend. The audience for the program was almost entirely white, despite the opening Prelude of selections from Mande epic songs and poems. Nor did you see any Mande people anywhere, which often on Sunday you do in this place.
What was most obvious by absence on this journey into the convergence of the nation's, the city's and my own past and present was any women in hijab, or -- despite the Joyce Theater's Prelude -- anyone who seemed Muslim or even Middle Eastern. This is a Sunday, the Nelson Rockefeller park, and that long recreational shoreline to the end of the island. Most days you see as many hijabs among the mothers and kids as you see of any other mothers and kids – southeast Asian, hispanic, Africans, African Americans, Afro-latins, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. Not today, not even an African patriarch in his robes, of whom you usually will see at least one or two on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, I was only there for three hours. But when there were so many recreating families even today, I wondered what that absence meant.

What I fear this absence means, when I myself have been apprehensive of getting around the city these last days because of the crazy number of guns and dumbeating everywhere, is that many of our city's residents were too afraid of the rest of us to come out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

*Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter*

by Diana Souhami (1996).

The daughter is Violet Kepple – Trefusis, Vita Sackville-West’s passion. "She belongs to me." This passion does not interfere with Vita's writing career, her place in society, her marriage to gay Harold Nicholson (though he thinks it does and hates Violet), her family, her passion for her estates, having other lovers and stabbing Violet in the back whenever she so chooses.

Violet's mother was Edward VII's most enduring mistress, the mistress that materially profited the most from her liaison with the King. The author has pointedly written a work that focuses on Violet, who was also a writer though never as respected or successful as Vita. The information and the story itself -- all these hothouse entitled extraordinarily wealthy people -- is interesting, until it's not -- see again these hothouse entitled flowers of extraordinarily wealthy people. Camilla Parker-Bowles is a descendant of this family, but whether or not there's any significance to this or not is problematical, despite the author's attempts to map it that way.

What is original it seems to this reader is the author telling the story almost entirely within the perspective of a specifically lesbian romance and erotic passion in the days not long gone at all when gay and lesbian lovers could not express their love in any publicly recognized, acceptable manner. Would the relationship between Violet and Vita been so fraught if there had been any provision for public acceptance? I think it would have been because of who Vita Sackville-West was -- one of the most supremely entitled selfish persons in a class of same, and both Vita and Violet were raised by people exactly like that as well. This never bodes well for happy, well-adusted, kind and compassionate off-spring.

The photographs included are satisfying in number and content. The manners of the era among the upper class are described in detail, which makes this an excellent source for researchers into that period and this aristocratic milieu -- which continued well past WWI, and even past WWII, for those as rich as Violet and Vita, as the book shows us.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Sculpture on the Washington Mall

A fairly decent photography guide to this brilliant Civil War memorial sculpture can be found here.  The expressions on the faces of the men, and of the horses, capture the exertion and agony of battle in a succinct manner one might not expect could be done in bronze.

Here's the wiki that describes what we see.

However, this blogger, Aporetic, in his entry, "The Unseen Spectacular," provides a personal reaction to the sculpture. with both the photographs and the description.  It is highly recommended.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The 9/11 Winners and the Losers are the Workforce

So far today on WNYC programming I've heard exactly one story directed to Labor Day. Everything else is either repeats from the summer as the hosts are on vacation, or else, Ta-Dah! 9/11 and Terrorism.

That single Labor Day story on NPR, by the way?  It was focused on Sandy Pope, the first woman to run for Teamsters Union General President.  What is that phenomenon here in the U.S., that whenever women make way in some profession or institution or job, it no longer is a paying upward mobile opportunity?

Pulled from da List:

The other problem with nineteenth-century relic Labor Day is that it's not very merchandisable. But for that we have a new twenty-first century commemorative
day, September 11. I had to walk by the site yesterday on my way somewhere, which I do as little as possible because it gives me the willies. It's bustling with tourists snapping pictures, and the new, unnecessary, expensive (according to the article below, it will cost twice as much as a typical skyscraper), eyesore on the site of One WTC is presently being clad with glass. And there's a storefront 9/11 memorial preview site, at 20 Vesey Street, with a . . . brightly painted Harley-Davidson in the window: 9/11 victim James Cartier's Memorial Motorcycle. They also have something called the "Dear Hero" collection.
The cost overruns are being funded in part by an increase in PATH train fares. The pull quote:
>the already gold-plated construction plan for Ground Zero has blown its budget again and the people who are least responsible for the increase, the people who actually pay their taxes and suffer the daily commute into Manhattan, have to come up with the money to pay for it . . . The memorial is so expensive that the Port Authority, not known for its frugality, is demanding $150 million from it to cover its own outlays.
From the Village Voice:

"9/11: The Winners," by Geoff Rayman
"For some people the terrorist attacks have been a goldmine ...."

 Read the article to see the breakdown of the intersection of the 'most terrible day in our national history' and money for nothing for those who know how to get it away from the suckers rest of us. Who most likely don't even have jobs. And if you're over 50 it's unlikely you ever will again, at least in this country.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

More Dangerous Weather

A week ago we arose at 6:30 AM to evacuate uptown because of Hurricane Irene. It doesn't seem as long as a week ago. That may be because we were back Thursday night as guests for Niece's Party that introduced here to a passel of K and C's friends in the arts, fashion, etc., particularly those with college age kids themselves. But mostly because the emergencies are ongoing all around us, in New Jersey, upstate, Vermont and Connecticut. And now ....

Tropical Storm Lee is flooding New Orleans. We got an e-mail from a friend down there via his computer on batteries. The power's out.

Lee is predicted to roll all the way up to here and on into New England -- dropping at least 4 more inches of rain on regions still flooded from Irene.

Then, there's Tropical Storm Katia becoming more organized out there ... but she may roll further east and stay mostly on the ocean. I'm going to have to add a new tag -- weather.

2012 = Year of Disaster Weather and No Jobs. Plus more and more surveillance, higher taxes if you aren't wealthy, and fewer services, verging into no services if the reivers get their way. The New Normal. I do not approve, any more than I approve of changing our autumnal national day of observance from Labor Day to Terrorism Day.  If we are going to have another Big Storm up here let it crash down on the 11th.

Additionally, el V flies to another continent on Tuesday.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Perry Anderson on the Historic Novel -- London Review of Books

Thanks to Dan Hartland, via e-mail I got hipped to this article, "From Progress to Catastrophe, Perry Anderson on the Historic Novel," in the London Review of Books.

This essay would be of interest to writers and readers of historical fiction. As  sf/f in its various forms, particularly lately with alternate histories, cultural and genre mashups and steampunk that model on the Napoleonic era, the English Regency and the Victorian era and Empire, it could be of interest in that quarter as well. The Napoleonic years and Romantic Era are the womb in which the the novel of manners and the historical novel, the progenitors of these sf/f forms, largely were born -- Walter Scott; Jane Austen.

It follows from Lukács’s conception that the historical novel is not a specific or delimited genre or subgenre of the novel tout court. Rather, it is simply a path-breaker or precursor of the great realistic novel of the 19th century.
Because along with non-regional tropical birds and quarter inch mosquitos, Hurricane Irene also brought me a cold or at least bronchitis because of what else she swept up during her huge, long, slow progress. Feeling wretched I watched what I probably would never otherwise, Lost in Austen, a fantasy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (2008). In this made for television miniseries, a fictional character (movie character), Amanda Price, goes through a door in the wall above the bathtub in her London apartment and moves into the fictional life of the fictional character Elizabeth Bennet, as herself, the fictional Miss Price, in her tights, tunic, belt, make-up, hennaed, blown out straight hair. Got that? People in Miss Bennet's world make remarkably little of any of these, particularly Mr. Bennet. It is rather charming to see the younger Bennets' fascination with Amanda's lip gloss tube and so politely requesting a chance to try it -- that's us as little girls, crazy for our moms' lipsticks. But charm is seldom found by (fictional) Amanda Price in (fictional) Elizabeth Bennet's (fictional) world. Amanda even gets drunk in public, at the Netherfield Ball -- she is shocked that people, including Mr. Darcy, find this shocking -- Amanda, who adores Pride and Prejudice so much, she knows it by heart? is shocked at this? Elizabeth, the fictional character herself, didn't find much charm in her fictional world either, since she refuses to come back from Amanda's contemporary London apartment. This production is a mess. It could have made some discussion-worthy points as to our relationships from up here in the future to our romanticized, imagined, views of the  past back there -- that are fictional to begin with, but it doesn't. So, then, why do it all?

I go back to War and Peace every year or so. As my own knowledge of that era of history deepens so comes through more clearly the emergence of that era’s influence on the formation of the secessionist thought and philosophy that created the American Civil War. So much that grew out of the Napoleonic era that created the progressive – revolutionary 1840’s was what the secessionists and the power elites of South America and the Caribbean – and in Europe, Spain in particular -- reacted against, in horror and fear.
The question, of course, is whether Tolstoy’s fictional portrait of Kutuzov qualifies as such a handsome offspring – that is, a persuasive work of art. The evidence that it fails to do so is written out in extenso in the novel itself, whose incoherent philosophical tirades on the nature of history – deplored by virtually all its readers – function as a compulsive make-weight for the flimsiness of the oleograph at one centre of the narrative, the political stage on which the fate of Russia is played out. The personal destinies of its fictional characters are another matter. But to grasp the sense in which War and Peace is a historical novel, classically interconnecting public events and private lives, it needs to be reinserted in the series of which it is a member. This is something Lukács’s account of the form touches on, but then skirts. The historical novel – if we except its one great precursor, Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas – is a product of romantic nationalism. This is as true of Tolstoy as it is of Scott, Cooper, Manzoni, Galdós, Jókai, Sienkiewicz or so many others.
Sienkiewicz is among my primary instructors when it comes to the principles of historical fiction, along with, of course, as Anderson includes in his list, Scott and Cooper. I have a terrific essay to write about Sienkiewicz and the exiled Poles in Oxford on Tolkien. And you can really see it in Jackson’s visuals in his LOTR out of the Polish epic films made from the Sienkiewicz trilogy. Recall Sienkiewicz won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Anderson essay is even more interesting to genre writers, perhaps, when read along with this essay, "
The Moral Aesthetics of Steampunk -- Keep in Mind that Steampunk Is Really Cool."

When it comes to these mashups, alternate histories, fantasy history, etc., are there any novels that tell it from the other side: the 'New' World discovering / invading the 'Old' World, instead of the inevitable other direction? There are quite a few novels in the genre published in the last three years or so in which the 'New' World experience of the Old coming in is re-configured -- i.e. they don't destroy the civilizations there, and war, disease and slavery don't happen. But I don't recall any novels in which the 'New' arrives and takes over the 'Old.' That would be different, as they would say back where I come from. :)