". . . 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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We Have It All

Rain, sleet, snow, thunder, wind -- and police brutality:  "Emperors! Beware, Beware, the Praetorian Guard!"

Fortunately we are prepared for this as I spent yesterday scurrying about getting in supplies.  Excellent cold weather comfort food dinner last night, pasta tonight.

We have plenty of work.

Yesterday also brought me American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson, by the handsome, distinguished and o so brilliant and entertaining David O. Stewart -- who will be reading here next month


The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge, who surely is the equal, if different from, Mr. Stewart.  This is his second Tines world novel, the first, A Fire Upon the Deep, was published in 1993.  Having zipped through the first 100 pages last night before bed, this one may be even more mind provoking than the first.  Built upon the strong foundations of the first Tines' world book, Children is equally strong, but is revealing itself to possess an elegance perhaps the first one did not have, yet the elegance is dependent upon what was made in the first.   Recall, Mr. Vinge, is a retired math and computer science professor, as well as Science Fiction writer.  He's much credited for the concept of the "singularity" -- quoting wiki:

"His 1993 essay "The Coming Technological Singularity", in which he argues that the creation of superhuman artificial intelligence will mark the point at which "the human era will be ended," such that no current models of reality are sufficient to predict beyond it.

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."

In the meantime this week I've been devoting myself to Charles B . Dew's Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession and the Causes of the Civil War (2001), in order to get absolutely straight the process of secession -- at least as far as one can get straight such a white hot emotional fury and terror at the curtailing expansion of their wealth and national political domination on the part of the slaveholding class's ruling elite.

Laundry, also.  I am doing it.  le sigh.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Again, With the Punching in the Face Thing

AND, the fisting of the hands.

What is this among female fantasy YA writers and their female readers, the "punch in the face" and the "fisting of the hands?"

What am I missing? Is this contributing to my growing dislike of the sound of the current crop of narrator-protag's first person pov's voices in YA fiction?

Additionally, keep in mind that for this reader, the usage of 'turned on his / her heel' is exceedingly annoying as well, and throws me out of disbelief suspension every time it is used.

A description of the color and expression of eyes by protagonist from across a room also -- as well as running, running, running while talking talking, talking for hours, days, weeks -- for all we know, considering the length of the book, for YEARS -- without sleeping, drinking, eating or peeing -- talking always about how sexy this one is, and how beautifully dressed, and how this and how that, on every page, while falling down the rabbit hole, and how unspecial "I" (protagonist) is and don't seek attention to ourselves, while narrating on every page how special, how attractive, how sexy -- too sexy we are for our shirts, every one us in this special way! protagonist(s) Is(Are), Really, and special in that speshul snowflake way, in fact, while loudly proclaiming we are not, indeed Speshul Snowflakes, in the attempt to snow the reader -- and this while supposedly life-threatening events are occuring! And at least another new character -- often several! -- introduced per page, and then we never see them again.

Again I ask:  What is it I'm missing about living in the book reading-buying sector of the U.S.A. population about how to write fantasy fiction if you are female and attempting to appeal to the female audience these days?  Because, I'm not getting any of this!  To me it seems like bad writing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Freelance Journalism: Report From The Trenches

Last night we went out with a friend who we spent lots of time with in an earlier phase of our then mutual lives.  That stopped when she began living for the most part in Asia about 2003 -- we literally haven't seen her since then, though there is e-mail, etc.  She's been back here this fall for the process of selling her condo.  She reports.

"We all are serfs of the 1% now. Those of us who are lucky are existing on the drippings left over from the 1%, who now and again throw us some largess because we're among that tiny percentage of the 99% who happen to have skills and abilities that the 1% find useful or amusing at times. We're the court fools."

Her supposedly counted on income is from a Big Internationally Distributed magazine, in print and online, to report on the culture and cuisine of southeast Asia. Every year the contractual situation is up until the last moment -- will it be renewed or not?  They say they are paying her too much.  She's still getting what she got back when she began working for them in 2000.  Accounting 'forgets' to pay her some months, and so on a so forth.

Our friend has been a freelance journalist, and a successful one, much of her professional writing life (before that she was a singer), starting long before the internet, before blogs, and e-publishing. She's never seen it this bad in all the years she's been a journalist.  There are no gigs .... With over 17000 professional journalists let go by magazines and newspapers ten years ago, suddenly there were 17000 new, professional, competitors out there for the number of freelance jobs that shrink every months so. Additionally there  are all the graduates since then from journalism and other writing programs ....

If you do have a job, you are obliged to spend hours and hours twitting, fbing, blogging, e-mailing, linked-inning, etc. about it because the beancounters back at hq -- i.e. accounts payable, are counting every hit you get. So you have the added job that you didn't used to have of being your own PR person. Sounds famiiar doesn't it?

And after all that the employer doesn't want to let go of any money, particularly to PAY YOU THE WRITER, even though contractually obligated to do so. The attitude is that you are taking advantage of them by bugging them about getting paid for work of yours they published six months ago.

She's started a personal Edith Wharton / Henry James gig of her own. She speaks Chinese fluently by now -- and more to the point can read it. Fujian Chinese in particular is two different languages: the spoken language and the written - read one, and they are not the same.  So you hear a pop song and if you can speak Chinese you can't track it because songs are 'written,' so the singer's singing in that language.  (Our friend's intonation is gorgeous, and she can sing and she has a beautiful voice -- she sang some ballads popular in Hongkong last night when the karaoke  kicked in, so I enjoyed hearing her - unlike the others who got up to sing there last night -- shuddersome!) She also can get around in a number of other Asian languages too -- and her Spanish has long been fluent, which is also useful with as many Filippinos as there are in these cities. Anyone from Goldman Sachs is far too important to learn a language or figure out how to do anything for themselves, so they pay her thousands.  She see first hand that the obscenely wealthy are more wealthy than ever, as the poor are more poor than ever.

She says that you may think you know how much money is in Asia, but until you live there you have no idea at all. It's drowning in money.

So that's the report from an expat in Asia.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson' America by David Stewart

Publishes today!

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who has an in interest in the history of this nation, no matter which era one may specialize in either as general interest or as a scholar and historian.

Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War (1962)

Edmund Wilson was a significant literary and social critic in his lifetime -- not to mention a passionate, rejected, suitor of Edna St. Vincent Millay --  but more lately his work has gone into eclipse. As an intellectual who was based (1895 - 1972) in the rise and full flowering of the Modern, his thinking was deeply informed by Marx and Freud, who have also been in eclipse for some decades. Perhaps more to the point right now, in this zenith era of nerd culture, Wilson is most famous for characterizing J.R.R. Tolkien as "juvenile trash" and H.P. Lovecraft as "hackwork."

Despite committing lèse-majesté upon genre fiction,   Wilson did have a keen mind for the excellent in American letters. Yet, re-reading Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War (1962) for the first time since the early 1980's, it's showing itself to be almost an oddity of writing and of literary criticism, for reasons that did not register with me upon that earlier reading.

This oddness begins with the Introduction, in which he flatly states that slavery was merely a demagogic strategy employed by the
Union and the Confederacy both to whip up warring partisanship. However, as he brings us the body of the work, he begins with Harriet Beecher Stowe, and from her procedes to give us writers, who, on both sides, are saying that slavery is the reason for the war.

Then there is his discussion of the figures of the era and their output about the war, which seems to be more about him and his thinking than about them and their thinking. 

And finally, he doesn't include the two writers who really were in the war in its most terrible phase, Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman, who cared for the dead, the dying, the maimed and the wounded who are war's great production. He doesn't include any writer that isn't worth looking at, but that he leaves out these two, seems peculiar.

Frank Rich on Occupy Wall Street and the Great Depression

The Class War Has Begun:

And the very classlessness of our society makes the conflict more volatile, not less.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Music, plus Media and the Occupation: Today's Da List

El V's new episode of Afropop Worldwide, "A (Jazzy) Visit to Barranquilla," airs tonight (Saturday) in NYC on 91.5 WNYE at 11 p.m. (and will be repeated Monday at 11 a.m., a new time for Afropop in NYC).

It's available streaming on demand here (click on the orange "play" icon). The program features music by Alfredo Naranjo (Venezuela), Jo ão Donato (Brazil), Justo Almario (Colombia), Diego El Cigala (Andalusia), Terence Blanchard (New Orleans), Andrés Ortiz (Colombia), Harold López-Nussa (Cuba), and Eddie Palmieri (New York), plus El Joe Arroyo's "Rebelión," along with bits of conversation with some of the above. There's also a li'l slide show. I hear they're tweeting it in BQ.

Now to the streets:

30 people, including Cornel West, were arrested outside the 28th precinct NYPD station in Harlem at a protest against the NYPD's racist stop-and-frisk policy, which stopped and frisked 601,055 people, according to an article in the NY Daily News by Matthew DeLuca and Jose Martinez that continues: >
"You have to do nothing else except live in your neighborhood and be a young black or Latino male to be a suspect," Matt Main, of the National Lawyers Guild, told the Daily News.

Jonathan Demme has uploaded End the War, Tax the Rich: We're the 99%, a 15-minute video he shot at OWS. I especially like the audio.

NOLA's Truth Universal has a new Occupy-related rap over what Alison Fensterstock identifies as a Rick Ross track.

The NY Times continues to be clueless about Occupy. No amount of snark from its writers will obscure the fact that they slept on a huge story in their home town while New Yorkers went to the UK Guardian to find out what those shouts we heard in the street were about.

Today the Times offer a front-page piece by Kate Zernike that focuses entirely on pushing a frame of reference in which the Tea Party and Occupy are counterparts of each other. The editorial synopsis says: >
Where the Occupy forces and the Tea Party differ is in where they place the blame. No, they differ in many other ways, including that the Tea Party has been treated far more respectfully by the mainstream media. Zernike is the author of a new book on Tea Party activists that (reading the prologue) peremptorily dismisses the idea that the TP was astro-turfed and claims it as a true populist movement (that just happened to be promoted nonstop by Fox News and underwritten financially by billionaires, I guess, though I haven't read her book). The Times article ends with a quote from a Tea Partier:
Ms. Martin, of Tea Party Patriots, said the next year would determine whether more Americans agree with the Occupy forces or the Tea Party.

“That’s what the whole election comes down to,” she said, “what direction do we think America’s going to go in, and what’s the proper size and scope of government.”

No, the election, which the Republicans will do their best to steal, comes down to whether we will have a fascist president or a conservative one. Neither is an appealing option to people who are taking to the streets.

The Times also devoted a piece to the non-issue of whether Occupy is anti-Semitic, a straight-up libel floated by the far-right media in order to achieve precisely this effect: associate the words Occupy and anti-Semitism in the mainstream media.
Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow continues to condescend and trivialize. In a piece that asserts people are showing up at Occupy for no other reason than it's cool, he calls the action Occupy-apalooza, and, confusing his generational references, compares it to . . . a Nirvana album.

Then there's Bill Keller. It should be noted that the Times changed executive editors in September, and as per Times tradition, outgoing exec editor Bill Keller is now a dreadful columnist. He began his new column on Monday with a breezy >
Bored by the soggy sleep-ins and warmed-over anarchism of Occupy Wall Street? In his subsequent column, Keller seemed taken aback by the torrent of generally polite but firm rebuttal in the comments section before comments were closed. The first relevant comment said: >I, for one, am not at all tired of hearing about "Occupy Wall street". To the contrary, I can't get enough of it. Yeah, and that's why we go to the Guardian, YouTube, and instead of the Times. In a piece in Truthdig, Robert Scheer wrote: >Perhaps [Keller's] contempt for anti-corporate protesters was honed by the example of his father, once the chairman of Chevron. In any case, it is revealing, given the cheerleading support that the Times gave to the radical deregulation of Wall Street that occurred when Keller was the managing editor of the newspaper.
And there was
Is Occupy Wall Street Being Overhyped?

Then there is the concern-troll meme that the protestors don't have clear demands. I think
if you can read the signs people are carrying -- e.g., "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one" -- you get it pretty quick. My paraphrase of some of the demands:

We demand a government that operates on behalf of the 99% instead of the 1%. Stop pretending the super-rich aren't actively waging class war against the rest of us. Stop pretending that the system the right has put in place isn't rigged against us. Stop expecting this problem to be solved by elections, because there is no political party that represents the people. Go out in the street everywhere and say this in public, since we have no other way to express it and the mainstream media is either actively hostile to this point of view or is kept safely in check.
Re-regulate the financial industry. Hold financial criminals accountable. End corporate personhood. Stop privatizing public resources.

It's a nice cool day in New York. I'm going out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Aesthetic of the Cool - Robert Farris Thompson

We had no idea this is the book, to which El V contributed, nor that El V had contributed so significantly. Not only his piece with about Bob and the Tango, and Congo Square, but many of his photographs illustrate Bob's own essays, from New Orleans, the DR, Cuba, etc. are all through this publication -- he's even one of the photos on the jacket. We'd no idea for the publisher and editor (an art professor at Yale) approached Ned for permission to use something he'd written about Bob quite some time ago. Much went on in the meantime, including nearly going under from the economic crash. Periodically she'd e-mail and ask if he had a photo that would be relevant for this or that, because Bob thought he might, and he did, and he'd send it to her. They never met. He never even thought to google her.

In other words Aesthetic of the Cool is a book about art, created as art itself. One of those .... And el V is a big part of it. At the reception and dinner after the Studio Museum of Harlem, the publisher informed me that she'd no idea when beginning the project that this would happen either. It just grew. And she's ecstatic how it turned out. And so is everyone else. We received a book before Bob's presentation on "Cool," and the following Conversation, and then the Q&A. Our jaws kept falling lower and lower. 

I feel that el V has a great deal for which he can feel justifiable pride and a sense he's not spent his time on the planet in vain, and has given back at least as much he's been given. To have been given such a place in this project says it all. This is one of the greatest honors he could receive.

This is how Bob put it last night during the Q&A, in response to someone who asked how he felt about having worked his entire life to spread the African expression of art and the spirit. "I am an old white guy, a really old white guy, don't look at me. But for some reason I was made a medium. When I'm good it's the spirit working through me, attracted by me, and I throw it out there, BAM! And then it's out there. I'm nobody. It's not me. It's the spirit."

Last night is the very best of our life. This is why we are where are. This is the world in which I am most at home, where I feel among family. It's African, it's AfroLatin, it's Caribbean and Latin American, it's African American, it's New Orleans, it's the U.S. People are all colors. It's art, music, dance, it's performative, it's spiritual, and it has one hell of sense of style, wit and humor. It's ecumenical, not exclusive. It's beautiful.

It's cool. Watch this Yoruba woman dancing -- warming up, swimming, slowly, falling to the bottom of the waters. Flowing, Flowing, Now it's hot. She's got Ogún in her head. Stomp-stomp-stomp those adulterers, Stomp those Cheneys, Stomp those Oil CEOs, Stomp, stomp, the evil. And now we cool, we cool, we flow, we swim up, out of the waters from where we destroyed the evil. Cool, cool, cool. So cool. She still dances, with the Sacred Object on her head, and it never falls. Her head is straight for she is cool.

Africa is infectious. Where there is something of Africa it will spread -- as in Argentina, from a small population of Africans and create the Tango. In the Union army the black soldiers never wore their military caps bill straight forward, but at any other angle. In Rio in the 1930's, where Africans were in huge numbers as they are now, they already wore their caps bills backwards. See how differently the NFL running plays are now that the NFL players are mostly African American, than when the players were mostly white and they ran so straight. When interviewed about why the black players' style are so much more, well, stylish, than the white players, "Man, we dance and we play drums."

Giving is cool. Bob has given so much, and we give back to him. We love this man so very much.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Washing Out One's Mouth

Adult Programs

Books & Authors

Dr. Robert Farris Thompson in conversation with Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims

So many old friends will be there!  Before, during and after!
Every event that features Bob is wonderful.
This will help take out some of the ugly taste in my mouth from this:

Proving once again that the message is even if you have a job, you protest your masters in any damned way outside of work and you too join the ranks of the jobless.
And this:
As soon as the Department of Homeland Security was floated by cheneybushroveetal. we knew it was about controlling U.S. citizens who live inside the 'homeland' not about threats from outside. And this dramatizes it. Further, it dramatizes that Obama and the dems never rescinded or modified either, yet they wish to co-opt the Occupy movement for their political gain.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Just Have to Say That I'm Currently Suffering

Unadulterated happiness and content. Both my body and mind are unusually relaxed. Last night, later, after dinner, El V and I went to the corner bar to have a pint of the seasonal pumpkin ale they are featuring this month, which was very good. We talked about what I've been up to with the book while he's been too otherwise occupied these last weeks. He loves where I going!

Today I made excellent progress (at least it feels that I did) on the new first chapter I'm writing for the book. Then, outside, the temperature is as perfect as it can be -- just between warm and cool. Everything is autumnally pretty. The traffic wasn't so great. I stumbled upon one those unexpected quarter percent off a purchase of $100 or more that J. Peterson throws randomly up on the web, and was able to order el V a duster!

AND -- the first breakthrough in a malaria vaccine was announced today! Yes, the cost may well be prohibitive (people all over the U.S. are noticing shortages of their prescription drugs these days, as well as the prices soaring -- I am very worried about diabetics -- the hahahahaha health in$urance companie$ are lobbying to raise their premiums again this year -- cost$ from 20% increa$e$ to even 52% in one case and 56% in another!)

Yes, in the meantime helicopters swarm endlessly over our neighborhood, keeping an eye on the Occupation ... why should they when they and Goldman Sachs etc. sit with the cops in their surveillance bunker down there with thousands of cameras all over the place, but there ya go.

But me, in the meantime, I am savoring a perfectly happy and calm day.

Expressing Violence

The other day by chance I ran into a small discussion about what I believe is a forthcoming YA post apocalypse novel, with a young woman protagonist who is a page in D.C. (though the congressional page program was eliminated this summer).  Suddenly there's civil war and Washington D.C. is invaded.  The protagonist runs to get home, but the airports are closed, setting her on a cross-country trek.  I think.  I wish I could recall the title of this novel, or the author because then I'd be able to know both author and title, whereas now I know neither, which is frustrating.  Anyway, I was intrigued by the premise as I'm always interested in expressions that deal with our own civil wars, however and whenever and on which grounds the struggles play out.

All this by way of getting to the discussion about this novel.  For some reason a lot of people had read it, even though it's not published yet.  The discussion was all squees of wonderful.  "The best part," wrote one of the participants, 'is when she was trying to use a computer in an internet cafe and when this other girl got in her way she punched her in the face."

This expression, "punch in the face," I realized, I've been seeing frequently online by who I am assuming (it's online) are young females, in discussions and descriptions and desires to do, i.e. -- I wanted to punch her in the face, I will punch you in the face, she punched her in the face. 

I have been thinking about this ever since.  Because I never think, "I want to punch her in the face."  Never.  Not even that bitch on a bike on the sidewalk and her running all over the place stupid dog.  I do believe even now she's too stupid to live, but she will continue to live, while probably being the cause of knocking down somebody who will never be able to walk again.

Is this kind of talk another sign of the general toxicity of our interactive discourse among very self-centered, impatient people? Or is this considered innocuous, like telling your friend, "O that's so gay!" (which I admit to not find innocuous either).

Edited to add: It occurs to me that expressing oneself this way is an attempt to signify aspirational kick-ass bad-assary power on the part of a young person? Gads, that could come through as patronizing of youth, which, when I consider my own youthful attempts of aspirational signification, believe me, is not!

This is probably the right time to admit this too:  I think the film, Anonymous is a complete crock, and that schools should not permit classes to teach the CLASS DISCUSSION GUIDES TO SCHOOLS THAT SAY SHAKESPEARE DID NOT WRITE SHAKESPEARE being sent to them by Emmerich.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupation, Music & Friends

I was social three times this week and now I'm trashed. I can hardly walk. This is not good.

Wednesday I walked and ate and talked with friends from out town. I didn't feel very good the next day, so I was quiet.

Friday in the daytime I was out doing errands. Naturally a woman was riding her bike here on the sidewalks that were packed with people doing the Friday thing. She had her dog on one of those expandable leashes. The dog had no training. He would suddenly cut out to run up to another dog, or pee on garbage or try to eat a piece of trash -- whatever. She would suddenly brake and stop, or slew her stupid bike right around blocking the entire sidewalk. I told her it was illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, that she was a great danger to everyone else, her dog and herself. Her mouth fell open in complete idiocy. And then she rode the wrong way against the light right through the traffic. So my conclusion is that I don't care a thing about her, and she is too stupid to live. Except, she WILL take down innocents with her. She's definitely one of the 1% -- the world is me and me and me and more me, period.

Friday evening we went out fairly early to meet up with a bunch of music people including the journalists before the kick-off to the Arturo O'Farrill AfroLatin Jazz Orchestra's season at Symphony Space. They were so good. You know how good they had to be for me, non-musician, to get how good they are: 5 saxes, two of which players doubled on flutes and soprano sax, 4 trumpets, 5 bones, a set of 5 congas, Arturo’s piano, another set of 3 congas, bongos, drum kit, timbales and the assorted other percussion small things like clave sticks, shakares, and so on, including Jerry Gonzalez having brought one of the kids from his group in Spain, Antonio Linzana, who sang flamanco AND played sax (every woman in that audience whatever age she was swooned), an upright bass, and then Andy Gonzales playing upright and doing vocals too, when so moved. Also three great vocalists who danced. These are verily the gods of AfroLatin jazz. I'm so glad I got to be there.*

Yesterday was the Occupy Wall Street march up 6th Avenue to Washington Square Park, sort of a preliminary march to the occupation at 42nd Street (which seems, by many accounts, to have had many cops and surveillance people pretending to be Occupiers. They wore t-shirt proclaiming them Occupy Wall Street, among other things, and nobody connected with this who is sharing the effort has made Occupy Wall Street t-shirts. These guys were noticed after the event, wearing orange wrist bands as well as having the t-shirts, and talking intimately with the cops. When challenged they claimed to be city sanitation employees but there were no city sanitation people in the area.

During the 6th avenue part el V started chanting: "Take Back the Sidewalks. No bikers! No restaurants! Sidewalks for Walkers!" He was delighted that the marchers in his vicinity immediately backed him up on that. The privatization of public space has tipped way over beyond tolerance. No matter how small the private, the bitch on the bike, takes over the entire sidewalk from the pedestrians; the vendors on the sidewalk from out of the city and anywhere and everywher; the restaurants' sidewalk cafes; the scooters, you name it -- they are all private and they get right of way. Zuccoti Park was public, but now it is private. There is talk of a serious occupation later this fall of Washington Square Park. That is city property, but you wouldn't know it for NYU regards it and treats it as its own, and shuts out the pubic whenever it so desires for its private events and use. There will be blood if the Occupiers go into WS, one thinks.

Last night we headed up to 245th street for S's home cooked by herself! fabulous Puerto Rican dinner, and guitar playing among Puerto Rican theater people and musicians.

Now I’m sick, or feeling like I’m sick – and this is entirely without any alcohol, eating sensibly.  So many aches and pains.   It’s that hard on me to be in social situations of prolonged sitting and standing.  This stupid back condition. I’m going to be very quiet for a while now. But -- it is the season, which is merely heating up now for through the holidays, most of which I missed last year due to not being here.

* Review of the concert by Ben Ratiliff in the NY Times here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

For --- ------, who commented in a seeming heartless manner

to an earlier Occupy Wall Street post.  I didn't click to publish your comment because it revealed a heartlessness that was surprising in the context of the comments you make frequently at P T's.  So it seemed more likely you hadn't yet had the opportunity to be more informed,

Look at this article, please.  Your assessment of who is part and parcel of these Occupy camps and protests is mostly wrong.

This, from an e-mail, came to me from a friend in MD this morning, in response to my earlier post below about Friendship and Lukács, which again, is more about the people being pushed into these camps and movements, due to the decades' long policies and activities of the corps, aided and abetted and enabled by the politicians.

[ "There's a family of five down the block from me. They don't have electricity. They were taking it from an empty house next door that was on the market and then sold. But an interfering neighbour found out they were doing that and told the seller so the seller had the electricity cut off. Now the family doesn't have electricity. I thought the house had been sold anyway, and who was it hurting that they were borrowing some electricity. They shouldn't have been tattled on. You're right. This winter is going to be cruel. " ]

What this meaness by the neighbors means is that when the freeze comes the family will try to keep their children from freezing by other means, means which could all too easily not only burn down their home, but all the homes around them.  Meanness spreads in every widening circles of remorse -- except among those who are just plain mean, like the 1%, who are immune to remorse for the consequences to people of what they do.

And there is this -- and by golly it is in the NY Times today, the Times which has turned completely around on the Occupation movement.  You can find a great deal of food for thought in this piece by Bernard E. Harcourt, "Occupy Wall Street's Political Disobedience."

In the meantime the clean up eviction of the occupiers of Zuccoti Park has been postponed, pissing off the mayor majorly. He is so SICK AND TIRED of these people. Who are ruining tourism and the rep of NYC as being a secure citadel for the class of the obscenely wealthy from all over the globe, a member of which, natch he is (though I am going to say this about the pouting mayor who really can't stand not getting his way and lashes out when he does: he, unlike most of the obscenely wealthy class, achieved his obscenely wealthy status pretty much by lifting his own bootstraps).
In another meantime, early this Friday morning in Milan, the Italian Occupiers managed to occupy the cathedral-like hall of Goldman Sachs, which is near to La Scala Opera House. Also, extremely polluted, going by the times I've been in Milan. They have no gas emmisions regulations or anything like that in Italy. I've literally become ill in Milan from the automotive pollution. This is how the Too Big To Fail Or To Punish demand to have it, you all.  Can anyone be surprised that the Occupy movement in whatever form is demonstrating globally today?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Off With Their Heads! Screamed the Red Queen

So this is how it ends. As soon as there was actual media attention, and the attention showed that there were millions of people who are impacted by this long corruption of collusion between the corps and the politicians, and damned angry about it – out they go. It was OK as long as everyone laughed at them. But when it could not longer be denied they had some influence and attention – off with their heads! as screamed the Red Queen!

My Heart & My Head Get Full of Friendship and Lukács

Two amigas from C'town roused themselves in the 4:30 of the dark AM yesterday, met each other and drove in the pouring rain to the town where one catches the bus that takes passengers to NYC.  We ate a lovely lunch at Tea and Sympathy (one of them lived a long time in London, and her husband's mother is English), wandered and shopped and talked and talked and talked.  We walked so much that when I got home bout 6 AM I felt crippled. I had gone over the edge of what I can do.

Crashing hard I was able to curl up with Georg Lukács (have you ever heard anybody employ that locution in connection with Lukács before?).  It's not quick reading, reading this theorist's study of the historical novel.  Last night's reading in this work was the chapter focused on the predecessor foundations of the historical novel and the18th century view of history and historigraphy.  One of the passages that bounced me into calling out to el V, "Please, listen to this!" was this one:

[ " It was the French Revolution, the revolutionary wars and the rise and fall of Napoleon, which for the first time made history a mass experience {itals translator-Lukács's}, and moreover on a European scale.  During the decades between 1789 {me -- two years after the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention} and 1814 {two years after the U.S. declares the war with England called the War of 1812, the Napoleonic wars affecting this nation's part of the globe -- particularly in the part of this nation from when my C'town friends and their forebears were born and still live -- which claimed then as consquence all these lands that immediately became the heart of the slaveholders' Cotton Kingdom} each nation of Europe underwent more upheavals than they had previously experienced in centuries.  And the quick succession of these upheavals gives them a qualitatively distinct character, it makes their historical character far more visible than would be the case in isolated, individual instances: the masses no longer have the impression of a "natural ocurrence".  One need only read over Heine's reminiscences of his youth in Buch le Grand, to quote just one example, where it is vividly shown how the rapid change of governments affected Heine as a boy. Now if experiences such as these are linked with the knowledge that similar upheavals are taking place all over the world, this must enormously strengthen the feeling first that there is such a thing as history, that it is an uninterrupted process of changes and finally that it has a direct effect upon the life of the individual. " ]

We are in one of those eras in which the global masses realize there is such a thing as history that affects each of us individually. This was one of the many topics of the talk talk talk with mis amigas yesterday, via the Occupy Wall Streets and the Arab Spring, how the economic perception the youth of the world has digested that their future has been eaten by the collusion of corporations and politicians.  As both of my friends are grandmothers you don't need to think a moment of how much in sympathy they are with the Occupiers whereever they are located.  But that's only one reason they are in sympathy.  As Lukács points out, back in Russia, in the winter of 1936/7, history affects all of us in personal ways that we see and evaluate.

As part of this subject we spoke of how much we are fearing the winter, not only the weather, which if as bitter and long as last year will eat my friends' budget to heat their homes, but because there are so many destitute people, and the price of food and shelter continues to increase rapidly, while the banks are instituting new ways to squeeze us nearly every week, and our politicians give them all assistance.  The three of us are reminded of scenes of many a novel of Louisa May Alcott, in most of which are characters who are actively attempting to alleviate some of the winter miseries of the destitute classses. What I didn’t know back when I first read these books as a girl is how often those miseries were caused by the financiers’ and the greed, competition and corruption of these new corporations that exploded in the wake of the Civil War, causing financial panics, shutting down credit, going bankrupt, foreclosing, with the additional victimization of inflation and ever-spiraling costs of food and other necessities. Not to mention the labor-capital clashes, the racism against the emancipated and the hostile anti-immigrant exploitation.
So why does it help us to cast what’s going on within the perimeters of Little Women and Rose in Bloom? But it does. It’s also history.  In novels. Couched in terms of personal, individual cause and affect.  Novels didn't do this prior to Scott, whose first historical fiction was published in 1814.

My friends are no tbaggers and never have been -- always staunch dems.  But no longer.  They too know that neither party is an answer, and that both of them are actively enabling the misery of the 99%.  That my friends see this clearly and understand that the Occupiers do as well, says a great deal about the effectiveness of this movement, despite the mediapundocracy superiors instruct us their actions are meaningless.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Romantic Armchair Traveller

Mi amiga, who analyzes in depth new historical fiction, with an emphasis on romantic historical fiction though not always, on her blog, Romantic Armchair Traveller, last month posted a thoughtful entry titled, "On the Matter of Historical Accuracy in Fiction."

She makes a strong argument as to why twisting history, getting the culture as well as the historical facts wrong, matters.

*1493* -- Because Yesterday Was Columbus Day in the USA

I have both audio and print versions of this follow-up to Charles Mann's 1491.
First I read, then I listen to the same text soon after.

Among the many excitements of this book is how much I am bringing to the work from my own / our research work within the Atlantic framework of knitting together all the continents of the world that were populated -- the Columbia Exchange -- except, until much later, Australia. Much of what he talks of we already had dealt with extensively from Cuba and Its Music, because it is Spain-Portugal and Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America -- and these last years, North America too. Thus there is no problem over here sailing right along with Mann and his run-down that the voyages of Columbus initiates the greatest change that has ever happened so far in the history of the word and its biology: the Homogenocene, which is why we now speak constantly of globalization in everything from economics to pathogens.

So far, among what I did / do not know until dealing with this work, the most unexpected bit of information hitherto entirely unknown to me is that this hemisphere did not have earthworms.* They came, of course, almost immediately, in the ballast of rocks (which play a role in The American Slave Coast) and the earth balls around European plants and trees. They helped destroy the North American Atlantic forests as they used to be. I'd not a clue about that.

Go thou now and read thineselves, and if you're contemplating writing fiction of any kind that involves first contacts with a pristine, hitherto isolated from the rest of the world, this work is fundamental as is Braudel, in another way. This collision of two heretofore excluded continents with the flora and fauna of all the other inhabited continents was the authentic global singularity event of the homo saps.

* If I'd spent a second thinking about it, which until now I had not, there are scientific periodicals dedicated entirely to earthworm studies and research.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Does Your City Do This?

Does your city have this kind of relationship between the financial and other corporate industries and the city's tax-payer funded police department? Or does this happen only in NYC? This is a serious question.

Who Do the White Shirt Police Report to at Occupy Wall Street Protests?

From Counterpunch: "Financial Giants Put New York City Cops On Their Payroll" by PAM MARTENS

 { "If you’re a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from taxpayers. One of the ingenious methods that has remained below the public’s radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani administration in New York City in 1998. It’s called the Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York’s finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye.

The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.

New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top of the $37 per hour paid to the police. The City’s 2011 budget called for $1,184,000 in Paid Detail fees, meaning private corporations were paying wages of $11.8 million to police participating in the Paid Detail Unit. The program has more than doubled in revenue to the city since 2002.
" }

There is much more to this article.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Occupied Washington Square Park This Afternoon

As they say, this is a conversation, not a demonstration.

As with conversations with more than one participant, there are many conversations going on at once. And there were tourists who had never heard of this movement, entirely bewildered The Blue Shirt Cops seemed pretty bored. So were the NYPD horses, fully tacked up, but kept in their trailers when they clearly wanted to be outside in the beautiful weather as much as the hordes of people crowding the outdoors wanted to be.

Presumably the inhabitants of the swarms of helicopters over this part of the city weren't bored though. It must have been perfect flying weather.

I was fairly impressed with the entire thing. It really was a conversation not a demonstration. That there are cadres present who like dressing in costumes and doing the street theater version is just fine. And there are others who are very articulate in the hand gestures and broadcasting of the texts being delivered in waves, since you need special permits from the city to use amplifiers and so on in public -- and so, they don't. Again, great bafflement on behalf of the out-of-towners who pay no attention to anything. Though these young people are dressed like students dress pretty much everywhere, the hand signs and so on, made them freaks in the eyes of these people. There ya go.

Again, the participants are overwhelmingly young, as you must expect, when the student loan ponzi scheme is such a focus of the anger with the financial institutions. There are discussions about the best way of going about just reneging on the lans all together since the other end of the bargain, the job that enables you to pay off the loans you took out to get the education to get you that job will never materialize. There is a lot of discussion of how best to close down your checking account and taking whatever money you have out of the banks, and if you have a job, how to get paid without using a bank account. That's the hurdle, isn't it? That's how the banks hold a gun to all our heads: if we get paid for anything there's always a bank involved. We've been trying to figure out this one for several years now, and so far have failed.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Downside To Occupy Wall Street Media Spotlight

ETA: This afternoon Eric Cantor (R-VA) says we must be very afraid of the growing number of mobs occupying Wall Street and this nation.;housing

Personally, I'm concerned about the growing number of districts across the country cutting out their domestic violence teams from community services and police departments in order to save money.

Just thinking of the Hard Hat Riot down there back in the Vietnam era, and before that with the Labor movement. They've got the crazy tbagger cadres who would like nothing better than wade into these gatherings with guns and bludgeons, and I'm not talking about the cops -- a lot of the non-white shirt NYPD are emotional and intellectual supporters of the movement (yes, class, labor and management, etc., those terms we haven't heard in decades).

These are the people who glory in demonstrating their assholery for the entire world to witness, who will walk into a crowd and shoot Gabrielle Giffords (D), leaving her nearly dead, along with other, accumulated 'collateral damage,' who were killed outright. Look at the comments to articles about the Occupiers in the primary media: first it was superior sneering snark; now, as the movement spreads, they're spewing incoherent vitriolic hatred and threat to kill and maim.

As for the media ignoring the Occupiers in the first place, and only now paying attention, while still insisting the Occupiers don't have a clue about anything from organization to what they're protesting -- think about this: they picked private property close to the metaphorical and symbolic epi center of the corruption of the nation from which to launch their protests, Zuccoti Park. (The irony that this once public park used to be named Liberty Plaze does not escape.) Thus, as long as Chairman of the Board of Brookfield Real Estate (mayor bloomie's novia, she of let them eat cake how dare they, is a member of the board), says they can stay, they can. The city cannot evict them, though the NYPD and the mayor would like nothing better than to get them out of there.

This looks like planning to me. From the start they've said they planned to occupy the ground for two months -- which is also smart because in two months it will be really miserable there, particularly when January rolls around -- yes, I know this ground very well, in all seasons.

Yesterday WNYC received many calls from 'listeners' demanding that the occupiers be removed, all of whom are really big on the only sacred belief this nation holds, that of the sacredness of private property. "I don't care if it's private property and the owner says they can stay, beat those spoiled brats out of there!" Why it so infuriated that caller and others that the Occupiers are occupying private ground with permission, well, that never came through except that the caller hates them. For years, in fact, that's all that comes through to me, at least, from these people is that they are filled with hatred for everybody and everything, so they must really hate themselves. I wonder why. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Good. Grief. Andrew. Ross. Sorkin. Not Much of a Journalist Are You.

The NY Times's does the bidding of its masters --

The New York Times economic columnist, Andrew Ross Sorkin, paid zip attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement, knew nothing about it -- until:

[ " I had gone down to Zuccotti Park to see the activist movement firsthand after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank last week, before nearly 700 people were arrested over the weekend during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Is this Occupy Wall Street thing a big deal?” the C.E.O. asked me. I didn’t have an answer. “We’re trying to figure out how much we should be worried about all of this,” he continued, clearly concerned. “Is this going to turn into a personal safety problem?”

As I wandered around the park, it was clear to me that most bankers probably don’t have to worry about being in imminent personal danger. This didn’t seem like a brutal group — at least not yet. ' ]

Glenn Greenwald discusses further the significance of what it means that the NY Times economic columnist never even bothered to learn about the movement until a banking C.E.O. calls him up to ask questions -- and why the C.E.O. need to call a newspaper about what is going on only a few steps away from where, presumably, his office is located.
[ " Though it’s not evident in Sorkin’s column (nor in this characteristically snotty, petty, pseudo-intellectual condescension of yesterday from The New Republic), the prevailing media (and progressive) narrative about the protests has rapidly shifted from these-are-childish-vapid-losers to there-is-something-significant-happening-here. In part that’s because the protests have endured and grown; in part it’s because the participants are far less homogeneous and suscepitble to caricature than originally assumed; in part it’s because they are motivated by genuine and widespread financial suffering that huge numbers of Americans know intimately even though it receives so little attention from insulated media stars; in part it’s because NYPD abuse became its own galvanizing force and served to highlight the validity of the grievances; and in part because their refusal to adhere to the demands from the political and media class for Power Point professionalization and organizational hierarchies has enabled the protests to remain real, organic, independent, and passionate.

What will determine how long-lasting and significant is the impact of these protests is whether they allow themselves to be exploited into nothing more than vote-producing organs of the Democratic Party — the way the GOP so successfully converted the Tea Party into nothing more than a Party re-branding project. There is no question that such efforts are underway, as organizations that serve as Party loyalists try to glom onto the protests and distort them into partisan tools.

I have a hard time seeing that working. After all, the reason this is a street protest movement (rather than, say, a voter-registration crusade or an OFA project) is precisely because the protesters concluded that dedicating themselves to
the President’s re-election and/or the Democratic Party is hardly a means for combating Wall Street’s influence, rising wealth inequality or corporatist control of the political process. Still, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the reason these protests are now receiving more respect in establishment venues is because those venues now see some potential use to be made of them. Those dedicated to the original purpose and message of the protest – and Matt Stoller defined that as well as anyone here — will need to make resisting those efforts a top priority if they want to succeed. " ]

Monday, October 3, 2011

River Walking Yesterday

A 2 1/2 hour walk down to the Battery and back. I took photos and when I transfer them to my hard drive maybe they will provide a sense of what river walking is like around here .... I think I saw two Monarchs. I saw a pigeon brain itself by flying itself right into the trunk of a tree – oh, I laughed! I continue to laugh every time I recollect it. Later, at Fanelli's, el V says I am a cruel woman and he'd never before even suspected; I say, "It's a pigeon ...." The usual spoiled squoiles, posed classically, nut in mouths. Cool and blowy and cloudy, not the best for taking photos, but maybe I got some good ones of the duck pond and the ducks, who were getting no noms because it was too chilly with the wind for parents to sit there with their tiny children whose joy it is throw ducks bread -- which of course is not allowed, which of course no one pays any mind to, any more than bikers pay any mind as to signage that tells them to dismount and walk the bikes on this pedestrian only path, or those with dogs pay any mind to the signs that insist "No Dogs Here" ....
Friday at a Farmer's Market, te obtained some of the last of a New Jersey organic producer’s heirloom tomatoes. I have home-made pesto from Raffetto’s (est. 1906!) and their home-made mozzarella, some Sicilian olives and olive oil, and prosciutto bread ... made the sandwich of sandwiches! The last taste of summer 2011. Gotta say the summer of 2011 was maybe the most unpleasant summer we’ve ever experienced. I love summer but this one, not much.

This morning it was 53 when we got up. Summer was a clumsy, messed up first draft, not ready in the least for professional consideration. It's in desperate need of an entire re-think, as lacking in organization and coherence as it was, with a risable number of repetitions of weather-caused disasters, lurching from one thing to another without continuity or motivation or even sufficient set-up (other than that catastrophe of global climate change that we must never mention for fear of either being lynched or laughed out of the room). Does not meet our needs at this time. Don't call us. We are never calling you.

However, this evening I have an informal symposium in C's studio on the history of Hollywood costuming in the Western. Yay, C! A symposium with champagne and people bringing you food. What more can you want?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Declaration of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

And here's the Declaration:

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
Posted on September 30, 2011 by NYCGA
This document was accepted by the NYC General Assembly on september 29, 2011

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Arresting Them, One At A Time

Live at

Kettled on both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge.

10 - 12 thousand people?

They are arresting them -- one at a time.

Asking, "What's the charge?"

Occupy Wall
Street Protest today, 10/1/11.

Grabbing the documentors equipment. No other media is covering this -- nothing on television.

"Let Us Go! Let Us Go! Let Us Go!"

" We Are Not The Criminals! We Are Not The Criminals! We Are Not The Criminals!"

J.P. Morgan donated over 10 million dollars to the NYPD.

You Know, It Feel Weird

To know that somebody you don't even know deliberately tried to kill you.


Downstairs neighbor on the opposite side turned on all the stove's burners without lighting them, and left. He also left his big ridgeback dog inside -- in a cage. Our beloved Across-the-Hall neighbor of many years, who lives above him, smelled the gas, called the fire department and they broke down the door. Asshole hasn't come back yet. Cops are there. This could be a terrorist event. I don't think so. I think it is a young always indulged who has lost it, and decided to take it out, whatever it is, on the rest of the world. Including the expensive pedigree dog.

EDITED TO ADD UPDATE TO THE ABANDONED DOG: Shipley's not in a shelter, he's in the apartment of the neighbor across from his owner.  Dog's very upset. It seems the fellow's cell phone was left behind in the apartment -- but he was out all night his neighbor says, but she got a text from that phone, though no way of knowing it was him, at 3 AM asking if she were home. She was basically asleep and didn't respond. She says he liked to date crazy Russian girls.
Never a dull moment on this street.

In the meantime Occupy Wall Street protests are taking place all around the country, from Boston to Portland, but the NY Times can't mention that.  Instead they run an opinion poll as to whether this is a carnival of silly people, or yes, an unfocused hippie stunt.